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Citizen Voices

Getting tagged to talk about the Vice Presidential debate for Citizen Voices presented a bit of a challenge.  What to look for, and what to comment on, in a debate between two people that I don't want to be elected for an office that has little significance other than being the constitutional equivalent of a spare tire.  

Unfortunately that analogy really works for how I view the two major party candidates this year.  On the one hand, we have the old retread who got thrown in the trunk in case he's got a little more life in him.  Functional and tested (and not completely bald), but with three good high-performance whitewalls screaming 'change' as you round the corner at personal-best speeds, using him just kinda blows the image, if not the performance.

On the other hand, you've got the little doughnut tire the manufacturer throws in the car when they're being cheap and saving space.  Untested, but it looks slick.  It'll work, as long as you stay below 45 mph and don't drive in rain, sleet, hail, fog, haze or bright daylight and can get a real tire back on that wheel within a day or two.

Ideally, you never have to use either of them, but realistically you need to have one of them in the trunk ready to go.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 03, 2008 at 06:05 PM
"Ideally, you never have to use either of them, but realistically you need to have one of them in the trunk ready to go." Okay, let's think outside of the Beltway for a moment. Do we really need a vice president? Aside from breaking those occasional ties in the Senate --ties which can be handled the same way they are handled in the House-- what else is there to the job? What about succession, you may ask? We already have that established through statute, having it going to the Speaker of the House. Come to think of it, that might encourage PUMA's to vote for McCain if it meant Pelosi would succeed him, but I digress. What about all those state funerals, you say? Three words: F-T-D. Think of the savings to the tax payer. One less executive office. One less executive residence. One less Air Force jumbo jet with EMI and EMP resistance (sorry, geek speak). One less Marine Corp helicopter with etc., etc. One less office in the Capitol (he has one there). One less banal and contrived debate. Shorter party conventions --frankly, the whole thing can be done on a conference call during lunch, IMHO. Does anyone else want to write the amendment, or are we good with me writing it up?



Matthew C. Scallon
October 03, 2008 at 06:13 PM
Completely O-T, but where's Steven Garrett? He's been MIA throughout this entire drama. Is he okay?

Alma Sove from San Diego
October 03, 2008 at 06:47 PM
Chuck, I really like the analogy of the spare tires. Although, post-Cheney I'd say it's a good idea to investigate the policy ideas of the VP candidates. I agree w/you about the Palin performance. With expectations so low, she blew many people away. I mean, she was so clean and articulate! (joking) Seriously though, she sounded very poised & well prepared. I'm still not sure that qualifies as a great endorsement but she at least it wasn't a total Biden blowout. This certainly didn't change which way I'll vote but it was interesting.

Leng Caloh
October 03, 2008 at 07:14 PM
What a great analogy, Chuck. Matt, thanks for your concern about Steven. He resigned recently due to work and school commitments. We miss him, and wish him well.

Chris
October 03, 2008 at 07:31 PM
Chuck - don't believe the hype, those little donut tires can get up to 45mph if push the envelope, and there so ADORABLE! Most disappointing was Gwen Ifill - she let both candidates off the hook and as a big Gwen Ifill fan - I have to say that her questions were second rate and overly general. Still a fan - and the broken leg couldn't have helped. Agreed, Palin did not pass out or go into hyper gibberish mode - but I can't see how a person listening for issue based answers could think she "won". The "I'd rather talk about energy issues" was a clever debate strategy - but it would be interesting for Palin to explain why Alaskans pay the highest per gallon price on gasoline in the country. There are two refineries in AK - a state of 600,000. The Oil Companies she has "stood up to" - would love to be stood up like this in the Lower 48. No offense to local TV news anchors, but that is about the level of gravitas and command of the issues Palin offers. Less commanding is her grammar and her affected regular gal accent. My family lives in Alaska, I've stopped for gas in Wasilla - this is not a typical accent - it's a transparent and by now grating attempt to claim the folksy mantel...These are picayune complaints - but her presence on the ticket truly baffles. If Palin won anything, it's the 'who would I want to grab a beer with' contest -and voting along drinking partner lines has already proven lethal to thousands of Americans.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 03, 2008 at 07:40 PM
@Leng Caloh, I'm glad he's well. It would have been nice to have an on-line Je quitte ma planete , though. Even though --or maybe because-- I couldn't disagree with him more if I tried, I'll miss him.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 03, 2008 at 07:44 PM
@Chris: "These are picayune complaints..." The first stage of recovery is admitting you have a problem. :-)

Chuck from Escondido, CA
October 03, 2008 at 09:11 PM
@Chris - I certainly agree our little donut lacks gravitas, and certainly wouldn't want to be riding it out of a hurricane zone or using it to try and keep ahead of the terrorist ninjas. The only way I consider it a win for her last night was the ability she showed to rise to an occasion and keep cool and collected while achieving her goals. She said going in that she'd ignore everything else and talk directly to the people, and she did. I think she probably played very well to certain constituencies, and I suspect that's all that mattered to her. I certainly would have preferred a format with more time for responses and more back and forth between the candidates, not to mention participation by other parties, especially the Libertarian Party, but sometimes I just take what I'm given.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 06, 2008 at 04:45 AM
As Dick Cheney has proved the Office of Vice President can be used as a very blunt tool and isn't a do nothing job. With a 72 year old four time cancer patient as the head of the ticket the choice of Palin as his running mate isn't a joke. This woman winks and we are suppose to forget that she believes that dinosaurs and men walked together just a few thousand years ago? Or are we suppose to overlook the fact that her husband was a member (1995-2002) of the Alaskan Independent Party, an anti-American political party wanting to take the state out of the union. So she can't play by the rules, because she isn't equipped, so she just rattles off talking points and tells us lies while she winks at us and she won the debate. Give me a break and keep her to a standard. Poor old Joe Biden, only been in the Senate since he was thirty. Knows by name every important International Leader by name and has sat down with them. Lost the debate because of our high expectations? You have to be kidding. Kinda like McCain and the cupcake.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 06, 2008 at 06:03 PM
@michael valentine, "As Dick Cheney has proved the Office of Vice President can be used as a very blunt tool and isn’t a do nothing job. " Cheney was chosen by W to add gravitas to the ticket. Just goes to show you that gravitas is an overrated character trait. Had there been no VP, W would have had to go on his own against Gore, and that race isn't even close. "With a 72 year old four time cancer patient as the head of the ticket the choice of Palin as his running mate isn’t a joke. This woman winks and we are suppose to forget that she believes that dinosaurs and men walked together just a few thousand years ago?" So, is your objection with McCain that he is 72 years old or that he has cancer? I know many 72-year-olds who are doing quite well for themselves, thank you very much. As to his cancer, two words: Lance Armstrong. As to Palin's belief system on evolution, the First Amendment and Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows her to have whatever belief system she wants, whether you like it or not. As one who's committed to your own Nazarean faith, I would think it unseemly for someone as devout as yourself to deny somebody the office simply because of their religion. And, as I stated before, if we didn't have a Vice President, she would still be a governor of a demographically small state, with no one the wiser. "Or are we suppose to overlook the fact that her husband was a member (1995-2002) of the Alaskan Independent Party, an anti-American political party wanting to take the state out of the union. " What poliltical party her husband may or may not have been part of six years ago is a nice tidbit for the page six crowd, but (1) that accusation is still speculative, (2) her husband isn't running for Vice President, (3) similar successionist parties have endorsed Sen. Sanders in Vermont without damaging the Republic, and (4) if we didn't have a Vice President, all of this would be moot. "So she can’t play by the rules, because she isn’t equipped, so she just rattles off talking points and tells us lies while she winks at us and she won the debate. Give me a break and keep her to a standard." If by "rules," you mean obeying Gwen Ifill, she's under no obligation to obey her or any other moderator. It's a debate between Biden and Palin, not a boxing match with Ifill as the referee and final judge of outcome. "Poor old Joe Biden, only been in the Senate since he was thirty. Knows by name every important International Leader by name and has sat down with them. Lost the debate because of our high expectations?" I am crying crocodile tears for poor, poor Joey. Here's a man with so much knowledge in international affairs that, on every major foreign policy issue, he's come out on the losing end, including within his own party. Again, if there were no Vice President, he could stay in the Senate couragously representing the First State with his oral diarrhea. "You have to be kidding. Kinda like McCain and the cupcake." I can never get over how alleged feminists resort to sexist references to Sarah Palin like "cupcake." One would think that, had it been Sen. Clinton on the ticket with Sen. Obama and had Rush Limbaugh, et. al., referred to her as a "cupcake," there would be a great outcry for such chauvenism. Ah, but not for Gov. Palin --since she's pro-life and Republican, it's all fair game. Were there no Vice President, this side of alleged feminists' character wouldn't rear its ugly head. BTW, should you feel the need to respond to me, do make an effort to follow User Agreement and Guidelines this time around. I'd hate to see you get blocked.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 06, 2008 at 06:15 PM
Comparing a 72 year old four time cancer patent to Lance Armstrong's prostate cancer is frankly silly. Lance Armstrong was a world class athlete when he overcame cancer. This is the only kind of nonsense arguments that the Republicans can come up with. Sexist to call Sarah Palin Cupcake? Then why was that woman winking at me during the debate.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 06, 2008 at 06:41 PM
@michael valentine: "Comparing a 72 year old four time cancer patent to Lance Armstrong’s prostate cancer is frankly silly. "Lance Armstrong was a world class athlete when he overcame cancer." Well, sir, you brought up the issue of McCain's age and his battle with cancer; I did not. Please go back and reread what I wrote, and you'll see that I wasn't comparing McCain with Lance Armstrong; I was comparing Lance Armstrong with cancer patients generally. As Armstrong was able to do his job even though he was battling cancer, other cancer patients can continue to do their jobs. Does that clear things up for you? "This is the only kind of nonsense arguments that the Republicans can come up with." Do try to read my comments before responding to them. Had you read them, you would know, by my own words, that I'm not a Republican; I'm a pro-life Democrat. These kind of discussions go much more smoothly when both sides resolve not to practice eisegesis. "Sexist to call Sarah Palin Cupcake? Then why was that woman winking at me during the debate." If she were winking, she was winking at the camera. Unless you were the cameraman, she wasn't winking at you.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 06, 2008 at 07:07 PM
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, whatever. Once more bringing up Lance in any discussion of cancer patents is silly. As a two time cancer surviver I know. John McCain is 72. He's had four cancers. Call an actuary and ask them the odds of him living out the next four years. As to Sarah Palin's winking. She has a degree as a journalist (six schools five years or is it five schools and six years?) so she is trained to look into the camera. Cute on camera may fool the foolish but it's no substitute for knowledge. You know knowledge, it's the facts on the ground not the wishes of the silly.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 06, 2008 at 08:05 PM
@michael valentine: "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, whatever. " I have no idea what you are referring to here. At least you're not calling me a Republican anymore, so that's progress. "Once more bringing up Lance in any discussion of cancer patents is silly." Temper, temper. Remember what the User Agreement and Guidelines says about name-calling? I guess you haven't read what Lance has had to say about other cancer patients. Pity. "As a two time cancer surviver I know." Congratulations on your continued success in fighting cancer. "John McCain is 72. He’s had four cancers. Call an actuary and ask them the odds of him living out the next four years." According to the AP, John McCain has had skin cancer three times. While skin cancer is the one of the most common form of cancer in America, it is also one of the most treatable. It's funny you should mention survivability. The AP also did a story about Obama where his smoking, coupled with his family history, made him suseptible to lung and prostate cancer. Now, I'm not using Obama's health risks against him, and I suggest you do the same when it comes to McCain. The man, after all, survived physical abuse that would have killed lesser men. Dislike his policies, fine, but his survivability is not at issue. And, getting back to my original thesis, if you don't want Gov. Palin to be president, I hope I can count on your support for my Amendment to abolish the office. "As to Sarah Palin’s winking. She has a degree as a journalist (six schools five years or is it five schools and six years?) so she is trained to look into the camera." As to how many schools she went to, I don't see why that's an issue. We live in a Navy town, after all. How many children of sailors and Marines have gone to multiple schools before graduating? What I would do to have an idealogical debate that didn't tangent to non sequitirs. "Cute on camera may fool the foolish but it’s no substitute for knowledge." I agree. Unfortunately, we have had 20 months of "cute on camera" from both parties. Gov. Palin is just so much better at it, not that that's a virtue. "You know knowledge, it’s the facts on the ground not the wishes of the silly." For the first time, you may have just paid me a complement, unless that was a corporate "you" and not a first-person singular "you." English can be so tricky like that. In the spirit of Christian charity, I'll take it as a complement and thank you for it. IMHO, there's not an iota of difference between Obama and Palin; both are inexperienced cardboard cut-outs who nonetheless symbolize some real or perceived progress in civil rights. Likewise, there's not an iota of difference between McCain and Biden; both are empty suits who have accomplished nothing in their long Senate careers save for a disproportionate amount of camera time. So, those are the two tickets in a nutshell. If we didn't have a Vice President, we could have the cardboard cut-out vie against the empty suit and let the lesser evil win.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 06, 2008 at 08:53 PM
Silly tit for tat there matt.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 06, 2008 at 09:07 PM
@michael valentine: Silly tit for tat there matt. Oh, Leng Caloh, where does this fall in the spectrum of civil discourse? I mean, I've made a concerted effort to play nice, here. And it's not as though Mr. Valentine hasn't done this before. Aren't there supposed to be ramifications?

Leng Caloh
October 07, 2008 at 12:26 AM
Matt and Michael, it seems to me you two have engaged in quite a spirited debate. As far as I can tell, however, there has not been offensive/profane language, or personal attacks. In the past I stepped in when it was beginning to slip into personal attacks. In this case, although I would rather that you be more respectful of each others' viewpoints, I don't feel the need to censure anyone.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 07, 2008 at 01:06 AM
That's pathetic Matthew. If expressing my opinion (silly) of your flimsy arguments borders on the lack of civil discourse then you should stay home and nurse a grudge.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 07, 2008 at 03:30 AM
@Leng Caloh, OK, but please remember who was one who kept trying to play nice. @michael valentine: "That’s pathetic Matthew. "If expressing my opinion (silly) of your flimsy arguments borders on the lack of civil discourse then you should stay home and nurse a grudge." Really, Aristotle? Do you care to expound on your supposition regarding my arguments? So far, the only thing which I can see which makes my arguements "flimsy" is that I have the audacity to disagree with your oh-so cogent dislike for Sarah Palin and John McCain. Now, I'm grown up enough to disagree without being disagreeable. Show how truly Christian you are by doing the same. Until then, you remain in my prayers.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 07, 2008 at 06:38 AM
Joe Biden is an honorable man who has served with distinction in the Senate for thirty five years. Shockingly he is only worth $150,000 including his home. He takes the train home to Del. every night that the senate is in session. He can keep the names of all the international leaders straight, has met with them, and has their respect. John McCain divorced his crippled wife and mother of his sons after having an affair with Cindy for nine months. Cindy McCain has so many homes and money that they can't keep count. He was a congressman who got caught up in the Keating Five scandal and got by somehow only to deregulate the financial markets even more. That's working well isn't it? Barack Obama went to an elite (as in highly regarded) university at which he proved himself to be the most accomplished student by obtaining what could be called the highest of distinctions as a law student, Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Sarah Palin's primary accomplishment as a collage student seems to be the ability to cobble together a collage degree and good for her. I wouldn't speculate what would make a young woman move from school to school but it isn't the mark of an outstanding student. So in that regard she is like the top of the ticket. McCain finished fifth from the bottom of his class in Annapolis, he wasn't much of a student either. If he hadn't been the son and grandson of four star admirals he would have washed out. Kind of reminds me of President Bush, another Joe Six Pack that people would like to have a drink with. None of that stuffy smart stuff for the great unwashed masses. How did Bush work out? Nope wouldn't want a smart person in office, they know stuff. Like Joe Biden. Joe Biden has forgotten more about international politics then Cupcake will ever know. Seventy two and a three time cancer patient. Someone thinks that his choice for Vice President doesn't count? And I wonder why he's taking weekends off? Anyone who thinks that a 72 year old cancer patient taking on the hardest job in the world is a safe bet to live the four years out .... is in denial. As for Sarah Palin thinking that man and dino walked together ... it shows a willful ignorance of science and preference for fairy tails. Sure she can believe what ever she wants but educated Christians don't believe that stuff and it isn't taught at Nazarene Universities. Not what we want in someone with their fingers on the button is it? Someone who believes in the End Times and has the ability to bring it about. President Bush said that he thought that God wanted him to be President. He's was crazy and he started an immoral and unjustified war of preemption .... or as it's now better known as, by anyone with a brain and who has been following the story, the Bush Doctrine. A question about the Bush Doctrine that brings the deer in the headlights look on a candidate for the 2nd highest office in the land isn't a good thing. Knowledge counts. I'm more then a little tired of people who don't think so. Bush is dumber then a box of rocks and it's hurt our country. We need a smart president! So no, Sarah isn't close to being a Barack Obama and Joe Biden isn't John McCain. We need a smart president. McCain and Palin? Not even close to smart.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 07, 2008 at 01:54 PM
@michael valentine, thank you for expounding on your views. This is so much better than the salvos I've seen from you. "Sure she can believe what ever she wants but educated Christians don’t believe that stuff and it isn’t taught at Nazarene Universities." There are plenty of educated Christians who do believe it, even if you and I happen not to be two of them. And, for the record, creationism isn't taught in Catholic universities, either. I couldn't help but notice how you glossed over the more negative aspects of Obama and Biden, namely their opposition to the right to life. I was struck by one thing you said, "Knowledge counts." Indeed, knowledge does count. According to Obama's own words, the knowledge of when human life begins is, "above my pay grade." McCain, on the other hand, knows full well when human life begins: at conception. So, when it comes to the most basic aspect of our shared humanity, namely who is my neighbor, McCain knows, and Obama doesn't. One would think that an "educated Christian" like Obama would know better. If McCain, with his spotty past, knows that, then why doesn't such a "distinguished" man like Obama know it?

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 07, 2008 at 08:29 PM
McCain may be anti-choice today. He flip-flops so much that it's hard to tell. But when it comes to living breathing grown men and women (and women with fetuses) as well as boys and girls and toddlers and babies .... he's a person killing warmonger. He endorsed the Bush Doctrine which was formally known as preemptive war. Sarah may not know what it is but John McCain does. It's an illegal, immoral and unjustified war. War I will remind you, kills the living people who have the right to remain living. Abortion (which hasn't been in the discussion until now at your introduction) is a choice that I am not at ease making for someone else. Obviously you feel you have a right to tell other people how to act. Any yes I know your claim that your the result of a rape. So what? Because your the result of a rape you would put women at the mercy of the rapist? Because it would be the rapist making the choice for the woman wouldn't it? I used to be a Correctional Officer for the State of Connecticut and worked at a maximum security prison there. Between the rapist and the incest child molesters I decided not to have children. Both are the lowest form of human. They shouldn't have the power to force women to bare their children. Jesus said that before we attend to the mote in our brother's eye we should attend to the log in our own. You see I worry more about my own sins, and I have more then a few, then I worry about other peoples sins. Kind of like the Pharisee who in Temple Thanked God that he wasn't a sinner like the tax collector. The tax collector just begged God for forgiveness. Jesus also said that if someone doesn't take the message of the Christ you should dust you heel's off as a sign against them. So if your a one issue Democrat and the issue is abortion, how does that make you different then the Republicans? You favor no abortions but would your vote go to a man who is all but guaranteeing a war with Iran that will kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people? Well there you go.

Leng Caloh
October 07, 2008 at 10:02 PM
Matt and Michael: I'd like to ask the two of you to agree to disagree in general, and stop nitpicking each others' points. This is not about winning debates, it's about engaging with each other on the blog post's topic. Additionally, Matt, it is inappropriate to make sarcastic remarks about Michael's religion; it is bordering on a personal attack. Both of you just need to tone it down. If the two of you keep up this unproductive discourse of constant one-upmanship, we may have to ban both of you. We'd rather not have to take that step, as we'd like to keep this blog as open to comments as possible. The point of this blog is civil dialogue. That means, engage with each other's ideas, feel free to disagree, but do it in a straightforward fashion and avoid disparaging remarks about each other.

michael valentine from spring Valley
October 07, 2008 at 10:42 PM
Sure Leng, I'll play nice. But in my defense my original post went to the worth of the Vice Presidential debates and that there was a distinct choice of candidates and positions on issues. Ever-after I was forced to defend myself from the provocations of Matthew who seems to want to interject his situation into every argument. Whatever. Peace and more peace.

Matthew C. Scallon
October 08, 2008 at 04:02 PM
@ Leng Caloh, I don’t understand how you inferred that my call to our common Christianity was a sarcastic remark, especially since, in my follow-up comment, I thanked him for expounding on his ideas. That point de grâce by me was greeted with invective by him. No matter, I’ll be the bigger person about it. It’s saddens me, really, that he can’t have a disagreement with someone without taking it as an affront to his authority. I hope he’s more charitable off-line. As for me, out of continued civility, I resolve to ignore him from this moment forward.

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