Sunday, October 24, 2004

Voting for Johnnie: Grasping at Straws?

By: Michael Akerman

I feel sorry for the Democrats. I really do. In my opinion, every party has the right to have a party representative on the Presidential ballot. It's a shame the Democrats only have Bush Lite (not as tasty, but less fulfilling).

But, Michael, what do you mean?

No offense, friend. I mean merely that Senator Kerry is really a man of truly Republican ideals, cursed with the sad necessity of acting like a member of the liberal camp to conform to party alignment.

How can you say that? What about Iraq?

I'm glad you brought that up. Let's look at the record.

In the beginning of the Iraq issue, Kerry voted for the war. He voted for the first draft of the Iraq appropriations bill. He voted against the final draft only because of a single amendment he disagreed with.

This history clearly indicates agreement with the war. That's not the end, though. One would think Kerry would at least oppose the war by the time he was running for President.

One would be wrong.

A few weeks before the Democratic primaries, Kerry stated that if a voter thought Saddam didn't have WMDs and wasn't planning on using them, they shouldn't vote for him.

Clearly, Kerry believes the war was valid. Why has he changed his tune? Well, a few months ago, Kerry stated that he thought Bush had done the right thing in Iraq.

Political commenters and hard-core Democrats erupted! At serious risk of losing many liberal votes, Kerry quickly changed his tune, claiming he misspoke. Clearly, as evidenced by his record, he did not. Rather, he had been saying that for years.

Maybe he changed his mind...

That would be what Bush calls flip-flopping. But that's unlikely. Even now, Kerry finds himself misstepping on Iraq. No, I'm afraid I must propose to you that Kerry still believes Iraq was a valid cause, and only follows the party's viewpoint to salvage votes.

At least Kerry has a plan to leave Iraq!

Ah, a plan! One of Kerry's favorite things to have... or, at least, profess to have. Take note that Kerry used the word plan over 25 times in the second debate.

Take notice of what plans he has laid out, starting with Iraq. Kerry says he will stop the insurgency by increasing troop deployments. Why is no one outraged about this?

Probably because no one knows where he's getting them!

Recall that this is the same man that claims Bush will instate a draft because we're out of troops. So, Kerry, with his magic troops from outer space will stop the insurgency how?

Who knows? He hasn't gotten to that yet.

Be that as it may, he has other plans, too!

Again, partially correct (there're a lot of things like that with Kerry, aren't there?). Again, he professes that he has plans, but has yet to reveal them. For instance, foreign relations: Kerry promises to rebuild international relations. This is very hard to do today, because those other countries because of our position as the sole superpower. We are the British empire, or the Roman empire, or the Ottomans, though I hope not as brutal as those, and many countries hate us for that, not for any action. Such being true, there is only one way to regain the alliances of those countries with antipathy toward us.

Kerry would have to station extra diplomats in those countries, and supply said diplomats. This deployment would hardly do anything for our standing unless we used those diplomats to offer premiums, of sorts, for alliances, a lá the Marshall plan. Kerry, however, has promised not to raise lower or middle class taxes, so we simply cannot afford to rebuild international relations in that manner.

At least Kerry supports stem cell research, instead of banning it.

I agree with you on this, actually. Stem cell research needs to be more open. It's a very promising field and there are thousands of frozen and forgotten embryos from attempted in vitro fertilizations that could be used for stem cell research. However, it is a misconception that there is a stem cell ban. In fact, the Bush administration has caused negligible lasting damage to stem cell research by limiting it to the 20-something existing strains. Actually, there are 3500 batches of stem cells from these strains sitting unused in a warehouse, ready to be shipped to any scientist who requests them. Dire straits, indeed, when we actually have a surplus of clean stem cell lines.

Of course, some claim these cell lines are somehow tainted. Not actually true. The cells are claimed tainted because a few of the lines were grown in proximity to mouse cells, and some have claimed this could have transferred mouse viri into them. It's really an unlikely result, and wouldn't cause much damage to humans anyways, assuming the transferred viri were not bubonic plague.

By the way, embryos are not the only place to get stem cells. Umbilical cords also carry cells with nearly the versatility of embryonic stem cells, and even adults carry slightly specialized stem cells in their bone marrow. Granted, none of these substitutes have quite the versatility of embryonic stem cells, but they're close.

Incidentally, this brings me to another point:

Did you know Kerry has miraculous healing powers? Of course, a claim that outrageous couldn't be made by Kerry himself. It would have to come from someone practiced at statements that convince Joe Everyman to act in his favor through fear... like John Edwards!

You see, at his speech in Newton, Iowa, Edwards claimed "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

Utter and disgusting demagoguery. This is an absolutely wretched claim, a blatant use of fear and false hope to try to gain political advantage. As Charles Krauthammer said:

In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.

Um... er... flu vaccine!

Now, even Smith agrees with me on this one. There is no way a rational person can honestly say this was Bush's fault. The problem is not a failure of the government to make more vaccine. It's not the government's job. Nor is it a failure of Bush to change policy in time. Rather, it is an effect of market forces and regulation colliding.

A few decades ago, when the flu vaccine was still relatively new, the flu vaccine market came under regulation. Only certain companies could be allowed to make vaccine, and they would be subject to regular inspection of their products. In the US's already-loose market for flu vaccines, the added cost of meeting FDA inspection demands and the necessity of gaining prior approval before beginning production drove the number of flu vaccine producers to three: one in the US, and two overseas (France and Britain). More companies have a hard time joining the market because they must have a very large, efficient production to turn a profit. Additionally, they must start production in order to get FDA approval. There is a chance that the approval will not occur, causing a loss of millions of dollars.

This is not normally a problem, because the three companies produce enough to meet demand, except in very bad flu years, and situations like the current problem. This year, Chiron, the British producer, was banned from the flu vaccine market because their vaccines were tainted bacterially, in such a way that using the vaccine could kill you. The problem? Chiron is the largest producer, making about half of the American net supply. Chiron being pulled out effectively cut supply by half.

There is very little Bush could have done to remedy this. Rather, the changes were necessary ten or twenty years ago, when government subsidies could help new producers succeed in the market, and build up a buffer to absorb the blow of shortages. I don't think pulling regulation out is necessarily a good idea, because of the danger of tainted vaccines, but a reduction would help enormously, and cause little damage.

Well.... I'm still voting for Kerry. He's giving health care to more people and raising the minimum wage!

It astounds me that most people still see raising the minimum wage as a good thing, especially in any kind of economic slump. When the minimum wage goes up, employment goes down. It is already fairly easy to find a job way above minimum wage (Lowe's is, what, $2.00 above minimum for starting salary?), but raising the minimum wage means that firms would have to pay more for extremely unskilled labor (janitorial services, etc.) and part-time workers who don't need more than minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage will not even necessarily help people working at minimum wage. There is a good chance they will be fired, or their colleagues will be, and they will have to work harder to maintain their jobs.

As far as health care, this is another Kerry "plan". Kerry, in this case, is going to make sure more people have health care. Again, I ask, "How?" He has not stated. He has several monumental obstacles to overcome.

He plans on increasing health care without raising taxes. He has several options. He can use government funding to give everyone under-insured a subsidy to pay for it (we don't have the money for that, of course). Alternatively, he could regulate insurance companies to reduce the price, likely causing a reduction in benefits and a failure of several smaller firms to remain open (I thought he liked small businesses). The most effective option would be to limit the payment from medical malpractice suits, or limit the reasons for which those suits can be brought to court. This won't happen. Recall first that his running-mate is a trial attorney. Know secondly that this kind of limitation is generally viewed as a reduction of private power against businesses. Again, he's being supported by Democrats. Not a good idea.

As an aside, I'd like to point out the very high quality of coverage of American insurance companies. While people complain about the price, we do have a very large number of operations covered under our insurance policies, including entirely optional operations, such as plastic surgery for people who are not disfigured. I still stand by the theory that we should limit malpractice suits, as they are amoral (most of those sued did not intentionally fail. People make mistakes) and raise insurance prices.

Okay, look. Kerry won every debate! That proves he's better than the illiterate Bush!

No, it proves Kerry is a really good debater. Kerry is a senator, and has been for a very long time. He is very good at backing his opponent into a corner, without leaving himself open, and that is exactly what he did. However, as good as it makes him look in the Senate and in debate, it is not adequate for a presidential race. Making it seem Bush did the wrong thing does not prove that Kerry will do the right thing, and that is what is important in a Presidential race. Bush has a plan to fix the current problems, at home and abroad, and their as detailed and public as he can make them. Kerry has his plans hidden, if he has them at all. I urge you to vote for someone whom you can judge as good or bad, not for someone whom you hope will be good.

Now, for an entirely different subject:


Open campuses (campi?) are strange, but surprisingly interesting. State ends up as a breeding ground for extreme radicals of both ends of the political spectrum. Too bad the campus is so big; I think a fistfight between a hippie and a Bible-thumper would be exceedingly interesting.

Today, there was one such Bible-thumper near Talley center. I know he was there for at least two hours, because I passed him twice. He was a terribly misguided man, who claimed upon inquiry from an angry liberal (and I don't mean that ironically. She was angry and liberal) that he was sinless. He told the girl to prove where the Bible says all humans live in sin. I could of, because I've seen the verse, but I would have had to find it.

I considered arguing with this man, but decided it would be futile, as he was obviously too far gone to convince. I'm positive I would have done better than the shoddy debating of those present.

I've always fantasized about what happens to people like that when they die. I would assume they would reach heaven with a smug satisfaction that they would be rewarded. They would be sent to God, thinking they would be praised for their Christian work, and God would promptly rip into them. "Did I create you stupid? Did you actually think 6 billion other people were wrong and you were right? No human's perfect! I created you in sin, and you live in sin, but you were too foolish to realize so and repent! I'm sending you back for a second try, and this time, realize man is not perfect, and question your faith, for one cannot truly believe what one has not challenged," He would say.

I also think that would be the only time reincarnation happens.

~Michael Akerman