The Case for Kerry

DCGI has a good explanation about his values. I agree with everything of substance on it. I’m blogging this time about the first comment. It begs fisking.

Do you really prefer George W. Bush to John Kerry? I have trouble understanding how anyone can favor Bush unless they are misinformed or misanthropic.

Bill Whittle’s daddy covered this better than me: “Bill, if more than three people in your life are utter, total assholes, then maybe it’s you.” People can have the same information and come to two different conclusions. It is real easy — tempting, in fact — for me to conclude that anyone who doesn’t love freedom like I do is either stupid or evil. I have to constantly remind myself that this isn’t the case. You might want to try it.

Perhaps you can explain it to me.
Do you really think that Bush’s huge tax cuts for the super-rich and the biggest corporations are worth it, even though it has meant a series of record-breaking budget deficits and numerous cuts in social programs?

Yes, I do. The deficit is “record breaking” only in absolute dollars. As a percentage of the GNP, the only metric that really matters in regard to the deficit, this is mild. Look at it like this — say you make $20,000 a year and have $8000 in credit card debt. That is a LOT of debt. Now say that you make $60,000 a year and have $8,000 in credit card debt. That debt is no longer nearly as onerous. Yes, the deficit is larger than before. Our GNP (the country’s fund source) is much larger than it has ever been. If these were personal finances, it would be a case of us getting raises faster than we are getting in debt.

And I don’t agree with the “super-rich and biggest corporations” jab, either. The super-rich are super-rich for a reason: they tend to make good decisions on how to spend that money. That is how you stay super rich. If you want to see how to not stay super rich, look at a lottery winner from 10 years ago. There is a good chance that he is broke now. “Biggest corporations” is another misnomer. Corporations don’t pay taxes. A corporation is a legal construct. It is simply an accounting function for the shareholders. When taxes are assessed in that accounting structure, it gets zeroed one of two ways — either through the stockholders (and with more and more 401Ks in the world, that is you and me) or it gets passed on as simply another cost to the customers (again, you and me.) Corporate taxes are nothing more than stealth taxes on you and me.

Don’t Bush and Cheney’s ties to Enron and Halliburton disturb you?

No. For one thing, I think that Halliburton is a fine American company. They employ a lot of people doing vital things like feeding and housing soldiers and building infrastructure in places that no one else will go to — and those are the places that need it the most, like Iraq and Afghanistan. John Edward’s ties to spurious med-mal cases disturbs me much more than Cheney’s ties to Halliburton.

Do you think that launching the war in Iraq made sense, that it was the best of all available options?

Absolutely. The Middle East, with the exception of Israel, is, to borrow a phrase, “the most wretched hive of scum and villainy” in the world today. Terrorism cannot, despite what you have been told, exist without being condoned by a host state, and cannot thrive without state sponsorship. The entire Middle East sponsors terrorism because the leaders of these states are not accountable to the people living there. Saddam was one of the worst in this sense — he publicly sent $25,000 to the family of every Palestinian suicide bomber, in a region where a year’s wages are $2,000. That’s ten years wages for one act of evil. People can’t rob banks in America and achieve that rate.

Even more importantly, it is an issue of human rights. Freedom is a human right, not an American right. We can’t conquer the entire Middle East (at least not quickly.) What we can do is plant the seeds of liberty. We can make ourselves more safe by disrupting terrorism by taking out a major sponsor (Iraq) and gaining inside intelligence on its allies (Libya, Syria, North Korea). On top of all of that, we plant the seeds of liberty in Iran, Syria and the Saudi peninsula.

To me, freedom is the most important thing we can fight for, and every time someone else in the world gets freedom, I get more freedom.

Don’t you worry that Bush’s aggressive, oversimplistic and arrogant foreign policy will continue to spawn war, destruction, and poverty?

No. In case you weren’t paying attention, we ended up with war and destruction long before Bush got aggressive. I don’t think his policy is oversimplistic; I think the opposition with the knee-jerk “America BAD” reaction is oversimplistic. To me, arrogant is for France to claim that the war in Iraq was “unilateral” because it didn’t include France and Germany — a direct slap in the face to Britain, Spain, Australia, and the fifty two other countries that are part of the coalition of the willing. I don’t see how a Fifty-Six country coalition is “unilateral” when the UN can’t even put together a coalition that large.

Do you think that protecting the environment is important, and if so, do you think that Bush is doing a good job of it?

Absolutely. He is turning that job back over to the property owners, who do a hell of a lot better job of it than the state. It is an issue of the commons; when everyone owns it, then no one wants to take the time to take care of it. Give it an owner, and that owner will take care of it.

More specifically, he is making wise decisions rather than politically expedient decisions. The best hope we have for emissions control, for example, is advancing American technology. Eventually, hopefully, the rest of the world will catch up to the American standard of living. When that happens in places like China, we need to have the technology to make it cleaner. Something like Kyoto that cripples the American economy simply to make other countries feel better (since there is no science behind it) would doom the R&D departments that will make things cleaner in the future.

Doesn’t it bother you that Bush has been holding people in prison for years without accusing them of anything or giving them a fair trial, and that he has shown an inclination towards torturing those who are held as prisoners?

No. It is a war. I think they are lucky; by the laws of war, people fighting out of uniform as spies. He is perfectly within his authority to order them tried in secret by a military tribunal and then executed on the spot. That is how we handled spies in WW2, and if intel wasn’t so important in this war, I would say that is how we should handle it now.

People don’t just get rounded up and end up in Gitmo. They get there by doing Very Bad Things like shooting at US Marines. The Marines kill all they can, and they arrest the ones that give up before they have a chance to kill them. I imagine Gitmo is a welcome alternative.

Do you trust a person who did everything he could to prevent a recount that might have shown someone else to be the rightful winner of the presidential election?

No; that is why I am glad the courts stopped Al Gore. I think that you are misinformed on the SCOTUS decision. They didn’t “prevent a recount.” They prevented a selective recount without an objective standard.

It was the right decision, and if you look at it the other way, you’ll see that. Imagine if George Bush wanted to have a recount, but only in the rural areas, and by the way, if the recounter thought that maybe the person really wanted to vote for Bush but just didn’t punch it right, they can go ahead and count that as a vote for Bush. That is the situation that Gore was calling for. The SCOTUS simply said, “you have to establish a uniform standard, and you have to recount EVERYTHING, not just the places that the Gore camp wants recounted.” It was the right decision then, and it is the right decision in the future.

Essentially, Bush was on the “rule of law” side of that issue, and I’ll generally fall on the rule of law side.

I deeply distrust Bush. I find many of his policies to be utterly stupid and corrupt. I believe that they have seriously weakened our economy, polluted our environment, created needless war, death, and imprisonment, and the deterioration of civil liberties. I think that four more years of these trends would be a disaster.

The recession was started in the Clinton administration. No serious economist will dispute that. It has ended now — in the Bush administration. No serious economist will dispute that. Scratch the economy issue.

The environment is better now than it has been in modern society. Scratch the environment.

Bush created a needless war? Last time I checked, it wasn’t Bush crashing planes unprovoked into skyscrapers. That plot was conceived in the midst of the Clinton non-response to the first WTC bombing, the Embassy bombings, and the Cole attack. If any American administration is to blame, it would be the Clinton administration — but the real blame rests with the terrorist and the states that condone and support them.

So really, when we get right down to it, all you are left with is your emotional distrust of Bush. People have voted against candidates for shallower reasons. Of course, that is the reason that I support constitutional republics over democracies.

Kerry, on the other hand, seems to have a certain amount of intelligence, decency, a genuine concern for other people.

Pol Pot had “a certain amount of intelligence, decency, a genuine concern for other people.” It was a small amount, but he played it well in public. I’ll rely on Kerry’s voting record in the Senate to judge him instead of my personal impression of him as a person — and that record speaks volumes.

He strikes me as a humane human being, capable of reasoning and compassion. If Bush has these faculties, I believe that he ignores them and only listens to the cynical dictates of power and wealth. Most of what Kerry says makes sense to me, even though I don’t agree with him on everything. Bush, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to trade in logic, but instead in shallow image-engineering, sound-bites, and simplistic dogma.

Kerry went to Vietnam calling himself “the next JFK from Massachusetts” to his crew. He took mocked up war footage of himself. That sounds like shallow image-engineering to me. He married two women much, much wealthier than himself and lives in no less than five mansions. That sounds like the cynical dictates of wealth to me.

I’m not planning to vote against him because of these things. I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t vote for him because of these things. What concerns me is that you cite them as reasons to vote against Bush, yet seem to be blind to the same qualities magnified in Kerry.

I’m writing to you because you seem to have put a certain amount of thought into your political views, and yet you root for Bush. I realize that there are millions of other people who support Bush, and this bothers me very much because I don’t currently understand why anyone in their right mind would do this. I am interested in opening a dialogue. It’s important to me that politics shouldn’t be a sort of all-out-warfare where the ‘side’ people take is a foregone conclusion, but rather a process of rational discussion as to the relative merits of candidates and policies.

I’m concerned because virtually all support for Kerry seems to be emotional, and you seem to be arguing from the same base. I’m still waiting to hear some rational (as in, based in reason and logic, not rational as an measure of sanity) support for Kerry. All the support I have seen is emotional rather than rational.

Please note that I bear no ill will against you. When I criticize Bush, I am just criticizing Bush, not you. I do feel strongly that Bush is wrong, but I am willing to accept the possibility that those who support him have a good reason for doing so; otherwise I wouldn’t be initiating this dialogue.

James Green-Armytage

I wouldn’t say that I bear ill-will. I do take politics personally, because in a time of war, politics are a life-and-death situation. I think that a Kerry administration will cost more lives, American and foreign, in the long run, and I take that personally.


  1. The Commons says:

    The Case for Kerry?

    The Everlasting Phelps The Everlasting Phelps does a good job fisking a comment at DGCI (the article I linked to above, but wanted to give the props here.) Worthwhile read, and thanks to Phelps….

  2. Ironbear says:

    DCGI says “misanthropic” like it’s a Bad Thing. ;]

  3. Phelps says:

    Actually, that was the commentor. Apparently, DCGI’s comments put him in a pickle.

  4. Bob says:

    Wow! Nice job Phelps. I’m gonna stop by more often.

  5. Alex says:

    I have an entire blog for defending Kerry using logic and fact. Unfortunately, I think it may be drowned out by these idiots. And I still have doubts about his foreign policy. It’s a gamble — he can be a great success, or he may accomplish absolutely nothing.If the rest of the world hates us, his being elected won’t change much. I fear a scenario in which he won’t get the support he plans to have, and we’ll be back at square one, with the mostly American troops securing Iraq.

  6. Phelps says:

    I think it is pretty much a given that we won’t get any more support for Iraq. Even if France and Germany (the only real holdouts) decided that they wanted to jump in, they don’t have the numbers to replace 200,000 American troops. And when they did, they are a couple of duffel bag bombs from pulling out, just like Spain. Germany and France are a lost cause, and that is why GWB is treating them like one.