A few things I now know about MoveOn

One of Mr. Bookworm’s colleagues asked for my opinion of the “10 Things” list MoveOn.org did attacking John McCain. I fired off an email in response that is not polished (and is a little disorganized), but I think it hits the main points. What do you think?

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has “evolved,” yet he’s continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

As for voting against MLK day, so what? Personal federal holidays had always been about Presidents. This vote involved jettisoning a 150 year tradition to accord a signal honor to someone who was not an elected leader. That MLK was a man greatly to be respected did not make him a President, and there was no good reason to turn precedent on its ears. I wouldn’t have voted for it either, not out of a lack of respect for MLK, but because it was stupid political posturing. That it’s now become a political hot potato is something entirely different.

As for the “key civil rights laws,” that’s a bit disingenuous to say the least. The first law referenced is one to make it easier for employees to sue their employers – it’s a plaintiff’s attorneys rights law. As for affirmative action, I am deeply opposed to affirmative action. I believe that (a) it is un-American to have preferences and racial quotas and that (b) it is harmful to minorities who either end up in institutions that destroy them because they are not prepared for the place or, if they are prepared, their qualities go unrecognized because people assume – and why shouldn’t they? – that they achieved their position only through affirmative action, not merit.

The disproportionate number of minority children in prison might be better addressed, as Bill Cosby and even Barack Obama concede, by examining much of minority culture, which honors thugs, dishonors education, and sees it as selling out to try to achieve through the system.The government can only do so much, and it’s worth noting that, up until Johnson’s Great Society legislation, black crime rates were dropping and black incomes going up. (Keep in mind that this is separate from the horrors of Jim Crow. This is simply examining statistics about blacks. See John McWhorter’s Losing the Race : Self-Sabotage in Black America which, I believe, discusses these statistics.)

Economic dependency and crime accelerated wildly in the 40 years after the government encouraged a welfare system that made black men redundant and, indeed, financially problematic in a family. Most studies show that the single greatest indicator of whether a young man will end up in prison is whether there is a father around. The American government has, for 40 years, ensured that black fathers are unnecessary. I could go on, but you can see that what MoveOn .org considers to be a series of failures, I consider to be virtues.

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi.”

Great. Although you won’t read it on the front page (and perhaps it was removed from the front page because the media didn’t want to concede that things are going), things in Iraq are, in fact, going quite well. Al Sadr’s army is in retreat, Al Qaeda is on the ropes, and fully 70% of all Iraqis in the last poll are optimistic – which is a nice change from America’s 20% optimism vote. Perhaps the difference is that we read the NY Times and they do not.

Be that as it may, the bottom line is that, in war, when you have the momentum, you don’t stop. You keep moving forward. Even if one concedes for the sake of argument, that it was wrong to go into Iraq, the fact is that we are now in Iraq. We don’t get a do-over on 2003. All we can do is deal with the here and now, and the here and now is that, when things are going well, you don’t throw up your hands, admit defeat, and leave Iraq to turn into a bloodbath that will make the killing fields look like preschool.

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

McCain has a tortured approach to torture. I don’t deny it. However, considering that organizations like MoveOn have been complaining that prisoners in Gitmo are tortured because the guards handle their prayer books without first washing their white gloves, I’m kind of unimpressed by this whole thing. It’s not a deal breaker for me, and I don’t think the MoveOn and Code Pink people have any credibility on the subject. Also, it’s worth noting that the Bush Administration stopped any form of waterboarding or like tactics aeons ago when there was an uproar. By the way, this is torture; Gitmo probably isn’t, as even honest opponents of Bush concede.

4. McCain opposes a woman’s right to choose. He said, “I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.”

I’m still pro-choice, but McCain is right that Roe v. Wade is an appalling bit of judicial legerdemain. Had it been better decided, we might have a more coherent abortion rights policy, as well as less heat on the subject. The Constitution does not grant anyone a right to privacy, and there is nothing in the Constitution, one way or another to support federal abortion rights. It’s a state’s rights thing. It’s been a problem for more than 30 years that the Supreme Court made up a new “federal right” out of whole cloth. It’s a reminder that, when you have judges who make it up as they go along, you end up with problems at the end of the day. In any event, given that even if McCain wins he’ll still have a Democratic Congress with which to contend, I wouldn’t worry too much about this one.

5. The Children’s Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children’s health care bill last year, then defended Bush’s veto of the bill.

I don’t like the government controlling access to health care, and this bill was freely acknowledged by its supporters to be a wedge-bill on the way to fully socialized medicine. This was an especially silly bill, because the primary beneficiaries would have been children in middle class homes. Indeed, the poster family that the Dems advanced to support the bill (the Fosters) turned out to be a very, very middle class family that owned two homes, quite expensive cars, and a family business. When things were rosy, and despite having children, the parents had elected to stock up on material things, rather than insurance. Their goal was for you and me to insure them. I don’t think so.

A much better plan would be to knock down people’s taxes so that they would have more money to enter the market and select their preferred insurance. And do keep in mind that there are people who decide to gamble. Young people, for example, who are pretty sure they’ll live forever, or people like that poster family who are hoping against hope that the taxpayers will take care of them.

6. He’s one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a “second job” and skip their vacations.

So what? He married well. He actually isn’t rich, because he and his wife keep their money separate. He’s medium wealthy. In this, he is distinct from John Kerry (billionaire through his wife); John Edwards (multimillionaire plaintiffs’ attorney), Hillary Clinton (who shares $121 million dollars earned with Bill since their White House years); Al Gore (multimillionaire, money earned going green, which may be a problem as people starve and inflation increases because of biofuels); Nancy Pelosi (multimillionaire); Harry Reid (multimillionaire through fairly dirty land scandals in Nevada); Barack Obama (who got a “gift” from a political supporter of a $300,000 price break on a property adjacent to his own property, massively increasing the value of both); etc.

By the way, all these millionaires and billionaires have ideas about money too. They’re not giving up their own money – they simply want to raise taxes on you. Also, I don’t recall MoveOn being perturbed by Kerry’s billionaire status. I guess it depends who’s piloting that private jet.

I’d also like to point out that a lot of the people who are having trouble now shouldn’t have been borrowing in the first place. The mere fact that you can own nine homes doesn’t mean that you should buy nine homes when you have no money – and then expect people like you and me to bail you out.

7. Many of McCain’s fellow Republican senators say he’s too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He’s erratic. He’s hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”

Sure, he has a temper, but there’s no indication that this leads him to erratic behavior. Also, keep in mind that a lot of Republicans don’t like him because they don’t consider him “pure” enough – an indication that he’s sufficiently moderate to make a lot of regular Americans fairly happy.

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

Yeah, it’s politics. It’s not nice, but I really don’t care, when it’s balanced against the other stuff. Obama has a few problems of his own with those close to him.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his “spiritual guide,” Rod Parsley, believes America’s founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a “false religion.” McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church “the Antichrist” and a “false cult.”

Okey-dokey. The Parsley thing is smoke and mirrors, tied to a generic “religious guide” speech McCain gave the first time he met Parsley, who introduced him at a meeting filled with various religious people. This dishonest – and it is dishonest – attack is meant to deflect attention from the actual 20 year, very close relationship, Obama had with the problematic Wright.

The same thing holds true for the Hagee thing. Hagee has no close ties to McCain. This is an ordinary political support deal, with a prominent religious leader looking at two presidential candidates and endorsing one over the other.

Specifically with respect to the alleged Catholic slur, Hagee didn’t say what he is accused of saying. Here’s the best statement of what Hagee actually said – and we should care about what Hagee really said, both because it tells a lot about Hagee/McCain and a lot about those who will say a lot of things that are distance relatives of the truth to try to bring McCain down to Obama’s level in terms of religious relationships. By the way, this is not the first time that Dems have sought to misrepresent religious statements in an effort to drive a wedge between Catholics and Protestants. The same thing happened in the Jindal campaign.

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

I would love to see us get off oil flowing from fields in lands ruled by tyrants, so I’m not profligate with energy, and wouldn’t mind a useful alternative. As for the rush to green, though, given that the climate is actually in a cooling trend, that biofuels may create more pollution than they solve, and that we’re facing mass starvation, in part because food fields have been given over to biofuels and in part because the lack of alternative fuels, coupled with increased demand, has dramatically raised existing fuel prices, there may be a virtue in McCain’s unwillingness to rush into anything here.

McCain is far from perfect, but these attacks are either baseless, or stupid, or they fall into the “I don’t care” category, or I agree with McCain’s positions. MoveOn should be able to come up with something better than lies and misrepresentations to attack McCain’s character, history and policies.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Webloggin editor for correcting my original erroneous facts about Obama’s profit from the Resko dealings on his property.