Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Arguing politics.

Spent the last two days at home with a cold (which is a real luxury) and got drawn into a political....discussion? argument? mud wrestling match? ...over on the Bend Bubble2 blog.

It got a little heated, here and there.

I need to apologize a little if I said anything to offend.

I don't talk politics not because I don't care, but because sometimes I care too much. And I love a good argument, but sometimes I don't know when to say when. It becomes deathmatch 2008, and I don't leave until everyone is pissed at me, or I'm pissed at everyone else.

It's O.K. for Tim and Buster and Marge to say things, cause they're all anonymous. But I was in the mud with them, and getting my name splattered. There are 673 comments as of going to bed, only 3 days since the posting. And about 100 of those are me.

There has always been a bit of a misunderstanding of me by calling me Ned Flanders. I'm just not that nicey nicey, and certainly not that religious. I'm probably more like Milhouse, who could be a little mean little bastard whenever he got a leg up. I sometimes don't play well with others.

So...safely back here, and safely not talking politics or religion.


tim said...

Don't worry about it Dunc. This is America where we're allowed to have opinions and speak them.

The Natives Are Restless said...

I must say, I was a little surprised to not only see you jump into that cesspool, but to swim so many laps, too. Michael Phelps would be proud.

Jeff said...

I like to read David Brin when trying to understand the degraded state of U.S. politics, where it seems that people gravitate towards the politician with whom they connect with at a gut level, all else be damned ....

"Enlightenment, science, democracy and equal opportunity are still the true rebels, reigning for just a few generations (and still imperfectly) in one or two corners of the Earth, after elite chiefs, romantic bards and magicians dominated our ancestors for maybe half a million years."
From: "J.R.R. Tolkien -- Enemy of progress" in Salon

RDC said...

The picture you included in the post is it own political statement.

So you are not following your own statements unless you want to start triggering a political discussion here

RDC said...

Actually in reading the posting there. I did not see much of an arguement. All I saw was the same opinions repreated without any attempt at supporting the positions. Throughing out unsupported adjectives and adverbs in not exactly a debate.

Duncan McGeary said...


But you got to admit, it's pretty funny.

Quimby said...

>> But you got to admit, it's pretty funny.

Thank god you still have your sense of humor Dunc. I was worried for a little bit :)

RDC said...


Here are a couple of questions for you:

1. Where was the "bridge to nowhere" intended to be built and why? Have you ever been there? Is there a need for a bridge at that location?

2. What is Sarah Palins approval rating in the state of Alaska?

3. What was the response from the Commander of the Alaska's national guard when asked his opinion?

Duncan McGeary said...

Thank god I'm not running for office.

The island name I've heard a couple of times in the last couple of days, and I still can't remember it. Not a memorable name. Starts with a Q? A G?

Approval rating in the high 70's, if I remember right?

I'm betting he said she was a tough broad.

Duncan McGeary said...

I guess the fun I was having isn't in the tone of messages. Oh, well.

Just honing my debating skills, such as they are. Or maybe exploring my own feelings.

I didn't see any point talking about any of it until now. And even now, I'm not under any illusion that we'll change anyone's mind.

But the cacophany over on BB2 was make it seem as if everyone but Bruce and HBM are for McCain, and I just didn't think that was true.

Went to work today for a few hours, and Pat said;

"You're mean when you're sick."

Yeah, I said. Mean when I'm in pain. And tired. And....and sometimes just mean.

I think the blog is a great format for debating, though. But I doubt more than a few are going to be willing to wade through 800 messages.

RDC said...


Her approval rating has not dropped below 80% since she was elected governor.

The bridge was to be built from Ketchiken to a nearby island, thus the "bridge to nowhere" because there are no roads off the island and for that matter you cannot get far from Ketchiken by road anyway. However, what the stories failed to mention is that the Airport for Ketchiken is on that island and the only way to get from the town to the airport (which flys a fair amount of commercial jet traffic) is by Ferry. There is also limited buildable land in Ketchiken and more on the other side of the river so the lack of a bridge is a limiting factor in the economic growth potential for that town. The reason why the bridge would be so expensive is the need to enable cruise ships to pass under it. When you know the details it is not quite as dumb as people made it sound.

What the Commander said is that she came up to speed very quickly on National Guard issues. She came into the office with the attitude of what does the guard need to be usuccessful and what can the state do to support the members of the guard. She also asked where were was the guard deployed. He answered Kuwait and she visited the deployed guard unit. His view was that she was tremendously competent and that her focus was what was best for the residents of the state of Alaska.

That is why she has the popularity she has within the state.

By the way the reason why Alaska allows for reimbursement of family travel expenses between their home and the state capital is unlike most of the states in the Union you cannot drive from the majority of the state to Juneau. Juneau cannot only be reached by air or by ferry.

Duncan McGeary said...

When this subject first came up, I listened and decided.

And then promptly forgot the details. My opinion was not, however, without any info whatsoever. Just didn't seem important enough to remember.

Am I missing something?

"Dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere,” the bridge in Alaska would connect the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (population 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million, by way of three separate earmarks in the recent highway bill. At present, a ferry service runs to the island, but some in the town complain about its wait (15 to 30 minutes) and fee ($6 per car)."

RDC said...

Now you have said in the other forum that she is incompetent, a liar, and corrupt so upon what fine, detailed information do you base that conclusion.

Unlike most people in this forum I have enough friends, relatives and familiarity with Alaska to have know about Palin before the nomination and thought then that she would be a very very good choice for VP.

Duncan McGeary said...

Oh, hell. I just know I'm going to get crushed here.

But I'm game.

1.) Pretty much looks still like a "Bridge to Nowhere" to me....

2.) Popularity has never been my measure of a person.

3.) Getting up to speed to the National Guard of Alaska is a little different than getting up to speed as Commander and Chief.

No doubt every medical student in the surgery part of medical school is smart as a whip, but I'd like them to get a bit of experience before they cut into me.

Obama is weak on this point, but to me seems to have more overall experience.

And ultimately, she really is a conservative. And I'm not.

Duncan McGeary said...

Obama has also been studying the issue pretty strongly over the last couple of years. A term of office is only 4 years, and can we afford to have a 2 year on the job training for Palin so she can catch up to where Obama is now?

RDC said...

The paragraph you listed is a good summary about that purpose. Of course all of the other cities in Alaska of similar size do have bridges that connect the towns to the airports, even Sitka where the airport is built on a series of small islands.

Keep in mind that if the Ferry breaks down which is known to happen you do not get to or from the airport.

Also keep in mind that both Obama and Biden voted for the bill that contained the bridge earmark. I happen to think that it was one of their better votes and while expensive the bridge would enable considerable economic expansion for that part of Alaska. For example are you aware that during the summer months you have 2-3 cruise ships a day in Ketchikan effectively doubling the number of people in town. It is one of the major tourist stops in Alaska.

Just for your information the Ferry carried 406,664 passengers and 107,609 vehicles in 2007. It has a maximum carrying capacity of 15 vehicles at a time. The airport handled 222,249 passengers during that time.

Now for a bit of clarification it does not leave every 15 minutes, it leaves on the hour and half hour. Of course during busy times you end up having to wait because not all of the cars in line can fit. Imagine if you flew on a 737 into an airport and could only leave at the rate of 15 cars every half hour.

So while it is expensive at current time on a per operation basis, it is a major limitng factor on economic growth in that area.

RDC said...

Exactly where has Obama demonstrated this understanding. Most of the areas he appears to have come up to speed on are areas like.

1. The surge has exceeded oour wildest dreams. I think he was against that and said that it would not work. (PS if he had it to do over I think he would also have changed his initial response to Russia's invasion of Georgia

2. I will support limited off shore drilling after he indicated that he was totally against off shore drilling.

So where is this level of competence he has demonstrated.

Maybe it was when it first got elected in Illinois, you know the time when he was running in a district where winning the primary assured one of a win in the general election and where he was running against a long time, very popular civil rights activist. But gee the people never got the chance to vote on that one because he challenged the signatures on her petitions and got her removed from the ballot before the election.

Palin on the other had was named to the oil and gas commissioned and when she discovered what the Chairman was doing with inside deals with the oil companies, resigned and by doing so forced the Chairmen to resign. A Chairmen who by the way was also the head of the Republican party in that part of the state. Then without support from the old boy network in the Republican party took on and defeated the current Governor in the primary and a very popular Democratic Candidate in the main election. She then proceeded to dismember the inside deals with the oil companies and in a very short amount of time put in place an competitve bid situation in which the oil companies put in significant revenue that they said they couldn't under the previous governor and got agreement on a project that hand been stalled for years. Sound like a pretty competent negotiator to me.

Your turn

Duncan McGeary said...

Why did this particular bridge become the symbol of boondoogleness?

Was Palin correct to support it at first, and wrong to denounce it now?

Is she doing so for political expediency? Did circumstances materially change?

Obama has dozens of debates under his belt by now. He been studying, and no one ever accused him of being dumb.

But, I think it comes down to your comfort level, and intangibles. He has been on the campaign trail for a couple of years now.

The whole Iraq war is interesting to me.

I supported going in. I know, I know. Obama was right on this.

But after we went in, I thought the enterprise was poorly planned and executed. (Removing the army and police, but not being prepared for looting, etc.)

Then I was for the surge, only because I could see nothing but disaster in anything else and hoped for the best. By then I'd read up enough on Petraous to think he was the man for the job.

Like Ridgeway in Korea, he turned it around.

So...I cut Obama slack for being against the surge, but give him credit for admitting it worked.

The oil drilling. I'm weak on this, but I'm assuming he's staked a position of limited drilling that is nuanced.

You'll notice, I never used the Bridge to Nowhere argument over on BB2, because I think a politician should have the ability to change their minds when more fact present themselves, or when circumstances change.

The 'corrupt' accusations are hyperbole over on BB2, so I won't use them here. But...reading character here from a distance, I've known vindictive people and what she did at Troopergate had the appearance of vindictiveness.

She used her power to influence a situation that had a personal effect on her and her family -- whether the guy was a bad guy isn't the question to me, because she'd have to prove to me that she took the same steps on the behalf of other people she didn't know who were in the same position.

RDC said...

Ok lets talk about Trooper gate.

Now let me ask you one question. If she fired the Monegan because he would not fire the trooper then why is the trooper still employed?

After all if she was a vendictive as you say and she fired Monegan over that issue instead of the fact that he would not restructure the department and budget as her administration wanted (noting that I believe he was a carry over from the previous administration and at a level where she has every right to come and and say I am making a change and you are fired), then would you not expect that her hand picked choice would have made firing the trooper one of his first acts?

Also most of the communications, and all of the ones directly from her, occured before she was elected Governor. A time in which she was raising the issue, just as you or I might if a member of the police force threatened to kill our father and did some other rather unsettling things. Communication basically saying that the police white washed their investigation and calling for a proper investigation.

So you tell me if the action was vindictive then why is the trooper still employed under her hand picked replacement for Monegan?

Also keep in mind Monegan was only fired after he would not accpet a lateral transfer to run a different department.

Duncan McGeary said...

In other words, has she intervened on the behalf of other people, other constituents, or just on behalf of the people she knows?

RDC said...

Here is a good story on the subject from the Anchorage Newspaper

RDC said...

I was mistaken on one point she appointed him to begin with so he was not a carry over.

So that even more reinforces my point if the trooper was a key part of her vindictive nature then why didn't she appoint someone that would reopen the investigation and fire him. Seems pretty strange for the events to have occured before the election, then she appoints someone with power over that and she doesn't make that a condition (lots of room for pre-appointment discussion with appointees you know). Maybe it really wasn't that big of an issue with her.

Duncan McGeary said...

You could turn that around, though. Why would a person she had appointed want to lie?

RDC said...

The notes on the timeline came from a New Yourk Times Article that said that there were letters from her from before her election as Governor.

RDC said...

For one reason she fired him.

Which according to the articles was because he kept going directly to the legislature asking for more money when he was filling the already authorized slots. I suspect most Governors would do that if an appointee ignored her direction and started to go directly to the legislature.

The person she appointed said that he had been contacted by others, but that he was never contacted by her. The article I referenced identifed some of the contacts. One from the State Attorney General asking if there was a process for dealing with a Trooper that had threatened someones life (a question made at the request of her husband) to which he got the answer from Monegan that the process had been followed and closed. Which he then passed on.

THe other case was from Frank Bailey, the governor's director of boards and commissions. At no point did Monegan ever say that she asked him to fire the trooper.

RDC said...

Now is that your biggest point.

Since we are on the subject of corruption:

Why don't we talk about Frank Rizzo for a while.

Or how Obama could go to a church for a number of years and not realize the real point of view of the pastor, the person he said was his mentor. A person he was perfectly willing to throw under the bus when the publicity turned negative in a big way. I guess he must have just not been paying much attention.

RDC said...

Got typing toofast not Frank Rizzo but tony Rezko

Duncan McGeary said...

I'm sorry, RDC. I'm fuzzing out here. Ever since I went to work today, I seem to have lost the fire, both here and on BB2.

You are certainly well prepared and have researched this thoroughly.

So....sorry. I can't keep this up.

Duncan McGeary said...

Rezko is a good example.

I know absolutely nothing about that case.

This reminds me of debating in high school and college (I was a speech major).

If I'd done my research and had practiced, I could do pretty well. If I tried to wing it, I'd get crushed.

I could argue on native ability if I'd been debating already for some time, that is I could wing it unless I came up against an opponent who wasn't just winging it.

And I'm just winging it, here.

RDC said...

The point I am trying to make is that you have people slinging all kinds of mud all over the place. Call each other names. In most cases all they are going on is 30 second perceptions or the opinions of others.

They are perfectly happy to make the most outrageous allegations, even ones they knwo are ludicrous, as long as it seems to attack the other person.

People should investigate and draw their own conclusions then discuss in a civil manner with the view point that each person is entitled to their opinions.

The ability to post anonymously has the tendency to bring out the worst in people.

I spent 6 years in DC (among other things represented the FDA in some international negotiations/standards development) and a total of another 5 working for Government Agencies. My real lesson was when I was working for Argonne National Labratory Energy and Environmental Systems Division. We had two sampling teams that were doing surveys of the DOE weapons facilities. At that time there was a Senator that was ranting and raving on the news every night about how the DOE was not doing anything to cleanup the mess at these facilities. At the same time he was Chair of a committee that was blocking the release of funds that would fund the DOE's cleanup effort. You learn very quickly to dig beneath the surface and that the appearance presented tended to be a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

RDC said...

We will have to have a debate some time when you are a little less burned out. A good civil debate is always fun. And this days often difficult to find.

Duncan McGeary said...

"You learn very quickly to dig beneath the surface and that the appearance presented tended to be a bunch of smoke and mirrors."

True. But all the information in the world won't substitute for judgement.

I think sometimes that we just find the information that backs our political viewpoint. hmmm?

Still, I'm the guy who says the more I know, the more likely it is that I'll make the right choice.

So I concede the point.

Our politics have descended to word bites, though, so that must drive you crazy.

RDC said...

Oh I don't even care if someone ignores anything that does not support their position, even tohugh it could be considered being intellectually dishonest.

What I get annoyed with is when someone substitutes personal attacks for developing a position or when they just start making up items or ignoring reality altogether.

A good example of that is Bruce's presentation of the picture of Palin in a bikini and holding a gun as being real, when that picture was debunked with in 24 hours of it initially showing up on the Internet.

Duncan McGeary said...

"A good civil debate is always fun. And these days often difficult to find."


That's why I'm sorry I'm bagging out on you.

Last political argument I got into before yesterday was a few years ago with my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law
and it got so heated I swore I'd never do it again.

Blogging, however, seems to give enough distance for such a dialogue to be possible.

Duncan McGeary said...

My image of Palin is that she's in a motel room somewhere with a bunch of political operatives, and they're feeding her one position paper after another.

Stacked to her elbows.

And across from the table she's being quizzed.

"Who's the President of Koloiliidliby!"

"What's the GNP of Britain!"

"What is the biggest oil field in the world?"

"Who chairs the Senate Ways and Means committee?"

Poor lady. Steep learning curve, for sure.

bruce said...

Re: A good example of that is Bruce's presentation of the picture of Palin in a bikini and holding a gun as being real, when that picture was debunked with in 24 hours of it initially showing up on the Internet.

rdc, I've put forward way more than that.

Why not come over to BB2, and leave Dunc alone?

For instance, $300 million or so for a bridge because only 15 cars at a time can cross on the ferry.

Would a larger ferry, holding 50 or 100 cars, be more economically feasible? At a cost of $5 or $10 million? How much does a big barge cost, along with it's onshore facilities.

Do 737's actually land there? Or Embraer's, like at Redmond?

PS Sorry, Dunc.

bruce said...

rdc said "The ability to post anonymously has the tendency to bring out the worst in people"

And you are an anonymouse.

The real question is: do you want the policies of the last eight years to continue for another four?

Because McCain has the same campaign director and many of the same advisors behind the scenes.

He just talks about change.

Like Bush talked about not interfering in other countries like Clinton did in Kosovo.

PS Dunc, I won't feel bad if these aren't published. rdc just pisses me off.

Duncan McGeary said...

Like I always say:

Let's you and bruce fight!

RDC said...

300 million for a bridge because the future economic development of the area is greatly limited without it. In that area the primary income generation used to be lumber, fishing and mining. Those industries are greatly reduced. Incomes in the area dropped from a peak in the 60k range with the closing of a major mill in the area in the late 70s to arund 40k today. It has started to recover over the last few years because of a rapid increase in the cruise ship industry. Guess what the most money paid by cruise ship folks are for flightseeing. To do that they have to get to the airport quickly any efficiently. Because if you have ever been on a cruise ship you have limited time in town and you have a large number of people getting off and on at the same time. A 30 minute timeframe spent in getting to/from an excursion is about 10-15% of their total available time in town.

Also the town has limited ability to expand (due to mountains, the ocean, the Tongas National Forest and Indian Reservations. The best place to expand is across on the same Island as the airport.

Thus it is expensive, but the investment has the potential to cause a significant difference in the economic future for the area and its inhabitants. (note that the bridge to nowhere actually consistent of two bridges the second one was the real boondoggle). So while Palin supported the Ketchiken Bridge, she did not support the Knik Arm bridge. In the end the money was redirected to other projects in the state.

Now what is interesting is even after the publicity, before Palin was even in the office, the Congress voted to send the money to Alaska and leave it up to the state to determine if they wanted to spend it on the brige or other projects. The previous Governor was adament about building both bridges, when she entered the office she spent the fund on other state road projects.

Now exactly why did Both biden and Obama vote to approve the bill in which that funding was contained in 2005?

RDC said...

As far as your other question
I would rather not have Obama as President with Pelosi and Reid heading up the House and the Senate. For all of his promises I do not see him vetoing anything they would send up. And lets just say their track record on positions is not exactly in line with the fiscal policies he is proposing.

You know I especially am interested in the Bill where Obama is a sponsor that would take away secret ballots in union elections.
Ah to bring back the good old days of intimidation of employees. I find that especially interesting considering that just a few years back 18 members of the Democratic party sent a letter to Mexico stronily encouraging one of the Mexican states to change there labor laws to require secret ballots to reduce employee intimidation.

RDC said...

As far as McCain goes. Lets see wasn't he one of the group of 16 that worked out the compromise on the appointment of judges (8 from each party). I can give you a list of items he supported that was not exactly in party line.

On the other hand I cannot find any votes of any consequence where Obama did not follow the Party line. You know he seemed to excell at voting right along party lines.

As far as some of the other things if we had pulled out of Iraq as Obama indicated we would have full blown civil war there, instead of a country that has made significant progress towards stability since the surge started. You know the surge that has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams" Of course it was the surge he was opposed to.

RDC said...

Yes, I am somewhat anonymous, but I use a consistent title and I do not post anything in a post that I would not tell a person to their face.

I said that it brings out the worst in people, I did not say anything about it should be banned. THe issue is that it has allowed people to act in a very uncivil way during online discussion and to attack folks in a way that most would not if their were not anonymous.

RDC said...

As far as my posts annoying you. I find that many seem to get really annoyed with having to put forth a real effort to discuss their positions.

Many seem to act surprised a a couple of single line statements without any real support are challenged.

blackdog said...

"I like to read David Brin when trying to understand the degraded state of U.S. politics, where it seems that people gravitate towards the politician with whom they connect with at a gut level, all else be damned ...."

sad but true. i never could understand this whole mentality of "i'm voting for him because he's like me." when i vote for president i want somebody who's BETTER than me -- smarter, better informed, and definitely a lot more savvy about playing the Washington game.