Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Looking at the Candidates

I am looking at the candidates on http://www.glassbooth.org/. It is an AMAZING site. There's a quiz that can help you think about how you feel about the issues that mean the most to you and then compares your opinions to the candidates. The candidate that most matched my opinions is Mike Gravel with 86%. Maybe you haven't even heard of him. I think I had heard he was voicing his opinion on impeaching the pres. and vice pres. He's a former D-Senator of Alaska. He's pretty much as far to the left as one can get. Guess that means I am?

Anyway, on glassbooth.org the best section is to just look at the candidates and go through the issues with them. After following debates and the news on MSNBC, I'm leaning towards Obama. So I've been reading how he stands on the issues and came across this:
BlockquoteQ: We all know that Social Security is running out of money, but people who earn over $97,500 stop paying into Social Security. What is up with that? OBAMA: I think that it is an important option on the table, but the key, in addition to making sure that we don't privatize, because Social Security is that floor beneath none of us can sink.
That question is deceiving. People earning over $97,500 still pay into Social Security, but that is the highest amount that can be taxed. When such a small percentage of Americans have the highest wealth, that's pretty ridiculous, don't you think? No wonder we're running out of SS$.

Another quote I found interesting from the site is:

BlockquoteSays in his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope that "It is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided...and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history."
It seems Obama can see that gay marriage will continue to be fought for and will likely be won... eventually. Obama DOES support Civil Unions and extending federal rights to same-sex couples as well as allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

Speaking of Obama's Christianity, I looked at his abortion/birth control opinion. He strongly supports birth control, public funding of birth control, abortion (all types and for all reasons), and sex education (NOT abstinence only educ.)
BlockquoteQ: What us your view on the decision on partial-birth abortion and your reaction to most of the public agreeing with the court's holding? A: I think that most Americans recognize that this is a profoundly difficult issue for the women and families who make these decisions. They don't make them casually. And I trust women to make these decisions in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy. And I think that's where most Americans are. Now, when you describe a specific procedure that accounts for less than 1% of the abortions that take place, then naturally, people get concerned, and I think legitimately so. But the broader issue here is: Do women have the right to make these profoundly difficult decisions? And I trust them to do it. There is a broader issue: Can we move past some of the debates around which we disagree and can we start talking about the things we do agree on? Reducing teen pregnancy; making it less likely for women to find themselves in these circumstances.
South Carolina 2007 Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007
I agree that we have to start with reducing teen pregnancy and support all types of birth control. However, even though only 1% of abortions are partial birth, it is a heinous act. I would not fault an ill pregnant woman for saying to her doctor "I want to end this pregnancy so that I can be well again" or for a doctor advising a late-term abortion in a situation where the mother is extremely ill. However, in these situations, even if the baby is not wanted by the parents, it should be cared for after removal. The baby can be removed without being killed, even if it needs to be done very quickly. I trust the mother and the doctor to make the decision to end a late term pregnancy even if it means death to the baby. The baby should still be cared for as a baby who could potentially survive. Babies born at 20 weeks (that's only 5 months pregnant) CAN live. (Check out http://www.cfhusband.blogspot.com/ for photos of baby born at 19 weeks weighing 1lb 6oz It's obvious to see she is a baby, not a fetus, though she could have stayed in utero another 15 weeks.)

That's my little personal soap box issue. Now. Moving on.

Education. A family friend recently said that he thinks science and math teachers need to be paid the highest salaries....certainly more than art and music teachers. Well, my friend, students learn math in both art AND music. Art and music teachers know how to use the math in their field. But, can math teachers draw? Can they teach perspective or syncopation? Probably a minority could.

Obama supports more public school funding and an across-the-board raise in teacher salaries. He opposes No Child Left Behind (a bull-shit excuse for an education program) and opposes vouchers which take away funding from public schools. Obama said this:
BlockquoteThere is no reason why an experienced, highly qualified teacher shouldn't earn $100,000. In exchange for more money, teachers need to become more accountable for their performances, and school districts need to have greater ability to get rid of ineffective teachers.
The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.161-163 Oct 1, 2006

Awesome. Teachers in my area start at 27,000. Disgusting. And the teachers aren't the problem in this failing school system. It's the economic hardships families face and the lack of education parents have. But teachers are doing all they CAN do. They are working hard here. However, many good teachers don't stay here because the salary is so low. So, classrooms are overcrowded making teacher's jobs more stressful and difficult. Still, they do their best for these kids.

Kids need medical coverage which often parents cannot supply. It's absurd that a parent has to weigh the cost of seeing a doctor when deciding if a child's illness or injury is serious enough to warrent medical attention. But that's the truth of the matter. Obama supports universal health care. It would cover all children under 18 automatically. It would make employers responsible for covering employees or paying their health costs if they do not insure them. This is excellent.

Another thing that would help parents care for children and just help people care for themselves in general is raising minimum wage. Obama says, "Let's finally make the minimum wage a living wage. Let's tie it to the cost of living so we don't have to wait another 10 years to see it rise.
Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007 " Sounds good to me.

Now for the other candidate that really has a chance: Hillary. What does she say about education? Pretty similar to Obama. Here's something she said:
BlockquoteQ: What about performance-based pay? A: Well, I have long supported incentive pay for school wide performance. You know, what we're trying to do is to change the culture within schools and to provide the resources, the training and the support that teachers need to do the job they do want to do. You have to reform No Child Left Behind. We're going to try to do that and begin to make it much more in line with the reality of teaching. [Clinton would support paying teachers more in schools which had high performances but not paying teachers more for their individual performances as merit pay would do.]
2007 Democratic primary debate on "This Week" Aug 19, 2007
I support merit-based pay more than incentive based. What good is it to base a teacher's salary on all his/her fellow teachers? It has the potential to hinder good teachers. Hillary wants to really test new teachers and evaluate them. I think that is already done with 4 or more observations in the first year, not to mention, lesson plans collected bi-weekly in many schools. New teachers have already taught for a semester WITHOUT pay and have been observed EVERY SINGLE DAY during that time by their supervising teacher and often by their professors and department chair. We do NOT need to focus evaluation on new teachers. We do need to have support systems set up for them with plenty of help, which I have found to be available in my school system. We DO need more evaluation for veteran teachers. How else can a school fire insufficient teachers? Hillary MAY do this based on this statement:

BlockquoteI agree that we should be testing new teachers. I believe that we ought to have pay for performance where we evaluate teachers. I think we ought to streamline the due process standards so that teachers that don’t measure up would no longer be in the classroom.
NY Senate debate on NBC Oct 28, 2000
Clinton and Obama are the same on Abortion/Birth Control/Sex Educ. and Gay Marriage/Civil Unions. In immigration concerns Clinton and Obama are similar, but Obama speaks more strongly on illegal immigrants paying fines. Both want to hold employers of illegal immigrants more accountable.

Clinton is too corporate for me. She regrets too many votes. She's not "into" the issues enough (not like Obama or Edwards, who would make a great VP for Obama). Plus, she's running on the "experience" she had while Bill was in office. BS. And she is still married to that sleaze-bag who probably can't wait to get back into the White House lifestyle without all the work attached. Well, he had too much fun when he was in there for the job and I don't want him back. Couldn't we vote to not allow him to live there if she does win Pres? Bill is lying, lying, lying and trying to put it into white's heads that Obama is nothing but an up-to-no-good-young-black-man. He's as African American as one can get, aside from immigrating, since his father was Kenyan. Then there was BET founder Bob Johnson and his reference to Obama "doing something in the neighborhood," the only quote I heard on MSNBC. But, you can read the full quote here http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/01/13/574964.aspx. It's a jumbled, choppy statement with reference to Poitier at the end that doesn't really flow. Hillary doesn't have control of her campaign. How can we expect her make anything happen in government? And my final complaint about Hillary Rodham Clinton? She never divorced Bill. Our first female president: a woman who used a husband to get into politics when she could have done it without him, or at least showed she was a strong woman by not taking that shit from the bum. On Tyra, Hillary said, regarding her husband, "I never doubted his love for me." That's fine. Many men want forgiveness after cheating or abusing their wives in other ways. They proclaim their love. But if they aren't showing their love, it's the same as not loving at all. It's funny that we're seeing Bill in the public so much again. It's just so stupid. We shouldn't fault politicians for their personal lives, divorces, cheating, etc. JFK was a cheater, after all. But look what happened with Bill. He became a joke. And personally, I wouldn't want an open cheater for president just as much as I don't want a woman who stands by a cheater as president. On the other hand, maybe Hillary is a good example of forgiveness. No, no. She could have forgiven him AND respected herself at the same time by divorcing. It's fine to forgive the ex-husband. It's probably very healthy to do so.

Enough about that. This is a very long blog. But it's something I enjoy thinking about and this has helped.