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Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?

Dressing down those undies voters. Neurobiology and McCain advocacy. Health-care plan scans. Values-less candidates. Plus more.

10.16.08

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ALL ABOUT UNDIES
Re: Manon McKinnon's The Undecideds:

This is exactly why I think it was very unwise of McCain to try to appeal to the "undies." Every landslide we've had has been for a very conservative candidate. Appealing to the middle, as McCain has done, will water down our party, and probably lose more voters than not.
-- Deane Pradzinski
Highland, California


In my humble opinion, anyone who has not made up their mind at this late date probably doesn't deserve to have the franchise. What type of ignoramus cannot form an opinion and take a stand with one of the candidates after nearly two years of nonstop campaigning? If a voter can't make this relatively simple decision, then that person should not be a voter! Make up your mind people, the day is far spent! The choice is rather simple...so make one already!
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina


The term "Undecided Voters" is largely a misnomer. I suspect that there are very few potential voters who are truly undecided. The large majority of the "I Don't Know" crowd do know, they just won't publicly commit to a position. The reasons for this vary with the individual.

Some of these people just do not want to impart what they believe to be personal information. Others fear peer ridicule or resentment. And some do not want to be seen as backing a loser.

Of those who are truly undecided; there are those who need so much information on any subject before making a decision that their chances of making an incorrect decision are statistically zero, those who are simply waiting for someone else to tell them what decision to make [who is usually the last person that they talk to] and those who are psychologically unable to make any decision. We need not concern ourselves with those who just don't care about the question, as they will not participate anyway.

So the group of people lumped together to form the class called "undecided voters" by pollsters, should probably be split into two groups, undecided and uncommitted. These are the groups that politicians usually court the hardest. Unfortunately, most are already secretly committed and nothing a candidate can say or do will sway them. And of the rest, many will be unable to come to a decision on Election Day and the rest will make their decision once they step into the booth and probably based upon the opinion of the last person to voice it to them. The undecideds do not decide elections, the decided do.

For this reason, undecided voters are of interest only to pollsters because they have to balance the mathematical equations upon which their polls are based. For politicians, the base is most important and this is where you should spend the most time and effort convincing people not only to support you, but to go to the polls and vote for you. Excessively courting the "undecided voter" is simply an exercise in futility.
-- Michael Tobias


I find it a shame that Manon McKinnon has no understanding of the show Dirty Jobs, so maybe I can help. The show is, along with Mythbusters, one of the more truly enjoyable offerings of Discovery Channel. It rides solely on the charm and affable wit of host (and former opera singer) Mike Rowe who "explore[s] the country looking for people who aren't afraid to get dirty -- hard-working men and women who earn an honest living doing the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us." It tends to take a rather jovial attitude about the horrors that Mike and his subjects face on a day-to-day basis but also invariably shows these people off as the embodiment of the American work ethic -- people who are perfectly comfortable working in a sewer or cleaning roadkill for a paycheck and not lining up for the government dole, espousing the value that "it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it." It's entertaining, it's family friendly (there are enough pooh related episodes to keep your four-year-old snickering for days) and now and then a viewer just might learn something about what goes into keeping the underbelly of our country's infrastructure working. Maybe Manon out to check it out.

Now as to undecided voters, I have no clue.
-- Fred Schendel


Manon McKinnon writes: "Do these undies wrestle with internal arguments such as "Gee, which do I like better: higher taxes or lower taxes? I can't decide. What about foreign policy? I don't know whether I want to be real nice to the bad guys or be real strong to the bad guys. I just can't figure it out."

In a word, no. The questions posed by Manon McKinnon are too simplistic. Who likes higher taxes? Nobody, however, many thoughtful people recognize that we have amassed a tremendous national debt which will grow even larger because of the current economic crisis which demands deficit spending and the fact we are fighting a war on two fronts. If nothing else, the current economic crisis has reminded people that eventually the bill has to be paid. Who is going to pay it? The taxpayer, of course. The only real question is whether this generation is going to start shouldering the burden of paying for the debt it has incurred or is going to hand it off to their children and grandchildren. Republicans favor the second position, a deeply immoral position in my estimation.

Concerning foreign policy, McKinnon sets up a false dichotomy. Nobody is interested in coddling our enemies. This is pure neo-con fantasy. However, there is being "real strong to the bad guys" intelligently or being "real strong to the bad guys" stupidly. We have seen the consequences of the latter during W's administration. People are looking for something different.

But, I suggest there are other, darker reasons for people being undecided. The first is race. Are people ready to elect a black man president of the United States? The second is age. Is McCain healthy enough to serve a full term as President? This question has become even more problematic for "undies" given his selection for Vice President.
-- Mike Roush


RIGHT-WING EXISTENTIALISTS
Re: Quin Hillyer's Odd Man In:

The intelligent reader of "Odd Man In" understands that the article says much, much more about Hillyer's opinions and insecurities that it says about Obama. The article essentially says nothing about Obama. But it speaks volumes about the irrational fear the far right has of an intelligent, articulate Democrat being president.

"Trust those who are searching for the truth, and beware those who have found it" -- André Gide.
-- Larry Cahill, Ph.D.
Qureshey Laboratory
Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
University of California, Irvine


Mr. Hillyer, in his article entitled "Odd Man In," describes Republican Party candidate John McCain as an "SOB" who has "fits of rage"; "takes umbrage;" and "holds grudges" for "no good reason." The concluding sentence of his closing paragraph further describes him as being "cussed, unconventional, willful" and "irritable." Personally, I take no issue with the veracity of Mr. Hillyer's description of Mr. McCain and, to be honest, given McCain's maddeningly recurrent tendency to support left-leaning policies throughout the course of his career, my own opinion of the man would require considerable editing prior to publication. I do, however, question whether Mr. Hillyer article serves to advance either the conservative cause or Mr. McCain's chances come November. To the contrary, I feel that it hinders them both.
 
The forthcoming election, I believe, is the most important of my 55 years. Indeed, the very character of the American nation hangs in the balance. The socio-economic demarcation between the forces of socialism and capitalism has never been clearer in our society and yet, as we as a nation stand poised at the brink of this unnerving electoral abyss, many of us lament that Mr. McCain, a quasi-conservative at best, is the candidate most willing to advocate for the continuation of traditional American values. The man, after all, has been so frequently un-conservative that many of we who support him do so in spite of his political philosophy as opposed to because of it. Like myself, I suspect that Mr. Hillyer's support of him is predicated primarily on the basis that voting for the Democratic Party's more socialistic counterpart is simply unthinkable. Still in all, the cultural division separating the American electorate dictates that it is the undecided and independent voters who'll likely hold sway in forthcoming election. Few among those, I suspect, support having a "cussed", "irritable" and "unconventional" "SOB" throwing "fits of rage" in proximity to the trigger of America's nuclear arsenal. On this, the very day of the final presidential debate, I can only wish that Mr. Hillyer, with whom I otherwise typically agree, had chosen adjectives that were more palatable and benign in nature. That he chose otherwise can only diminish McCain's chances amongst the very voters whose support he needs the most to win.
-- Thomas Donley
Michigan


McCain's closing argument: If you want a welfare check, vote for Sen. Obama. If you want a paycheck, vote for me.
-- Jerry Schnell
San Pedro, California


PRINCIPLES OF HEALTH
Re: Peter Ferrara's Barack Obama's Health Care Lies:

There are several lessons from insurance "theory" that will always come to bear on health care:
 
1. There is always an unlimited demand for health care services. The cheaper these services are, the more they will be utilized. It is simply human nature. With free or relatively inexpensive costs to the individual, he or she will casually visit their doctor or clinic for even the most minor of ailments. People do not like to suffer even a little if they don't have to. Thus whoever writes the checks to pay "the doctor" will eventually find his account drained to the last penny -- more likely sooner than latter.
 
2. No entity, whether in the private sector or in government, can operate using an "open checkbook" for healthcare. The check writer will eventually, more likely sooner than latter, seek ways to limit costs. There are all sorts of mundane and creative ways to do this but it all boils down to two avenues. The first and most obvious means is to increase the cost for the individual to use healthcare services. The second way is to limit the availability of those services. Often times both means are used in some combination.
 
Thus we come to the irony of socialized medicine. In order to open up the availability of healthcare to everyone, you must discourage people from using healthcare resources. Higher and higher co-pays and deductibles become standard fare. Long waiting lists for surgery are common. And essential technologies in modern healthcare (Cat-scans, MRI's, etc.) are slow to be adopted and limited in number.
 
3. There is a truth to publicly financed anything that is not discussed as much as it should be. It is called "third-party-effects." The easiest way to think about this is the old saw "he who pays the piper calls the tune." The present common complain is that insurance companies insert themselves into the private doctor/patient relationship and tells the doctor what treatment he can provide. Worse, these decisions are being made by people with no medical training. Public financing does nothing to alleviate this -- in fact, it is likely to be magnified. When a third party pays the bills, the doctor finds himself having to please the payer rather than the patient. The flip side of this is doctors in medical associations in their own self-interest will "sell" the payer on the type of services they want to provide rather than the actual needs of their patients
 
With any governmental involvement, politics comes into play and healthcare will be no different. Broad decisions will be passed down based on what politicians and bureaucrats think the "healthcare system" aught to be instead of the organic shape made by thousands of real experiences of those who practice medicine. If those in the department of enlightened health decide among themselves for whatever reason that there are "too many" c-sections, quotas will be established for each hospital to implement. The practical effect of such quotas is that a mother about to give birth may put herself and her unborn child at additional risk by choosing a hospital which is too close to its assigned limit. Don't be foolish and think this won't happen.
 
There is a notion amongst us that says when cold, hard cash is involved people will act more rationally and carefully. The truth is that precisely because money is involved we are often most susceptible to fads and superstitions. There are experts who can persuade us and those charged with protecting our concerns to act against our own interests. I've seen far too many administrators shoot themselves in the foot and wonder six months latter why it hurts so much. Being foolish with money and the money of others seems to be part of the human condition. Being smart is no guarantee one would be any better than those with the least resources. Socialized medicine will be no different.
 -- Mike Dooley


From your article: "But what Senator McCain doesn't tell you is that the average cost of a family health care plan these days is $12,680." I'm retired and never know how much my GE health plan costs, but my oldest son was just laid off and his Cobra insurance for himself, wife, and three kids is $1,800 per month. That is $21,600 per year and would put him above the $5,000 tax credit. Doesn't seem a $5,ooo credit is really worth much for someone in the middle income bracket. I really would like to know where that $12,680 comes from, certainly not Northern California.
-- Hal Careway
San Jose, California


OLD SCHOOL
Re: George Neumayr's Sleepwalking Toward Cultural Revolution:

A nation that would knowingly and willingly send its women into combat is a nation not worth defending. A nation that promotes the pairing of perverts as marriage will go the way of Sodom and Gomorrah.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.


Another aspect of an Obama win related to the registration of women is the effect such a win will have on the overall morale of our Military. Should Obama begin to implement many of the policies we fear, it is likely that many junior officers will resign out of disgust as they did during the Clinton administration and re-enlistments will drop. Recruiting goals will be harder to achieve as well. Thus the irony as Democrats end up resorting to a Draft to maintain an endstrength that was cut to the bone during the Clinton years and never properly restored during the Bush years.
 
So would women be included in such a draft? As you point out, that could be a real possibility- to the outrage of many young women and to their parents. I doubt the Libs will appreciate the irony of all those parents urging their daughters to burn their draft cards in protest or move to Canada, as I would urge my now 18 year old daughter
to do.
-- Paul Doolittle

HANDS TIED BY VALUES
Re: David N. Bass's Breaking the Silence:

I don't believe that the "values voters" turned out to vote for G.W. Bush simply because he supported their stands on the marriage issue; I believe that many of them came out to vote because in many states in the last election marriage amendments were on many state ballots during the presidential election. These voters came out to cast votes that directly affected the course of events at the state level, but for most their voting for Bush was a foregone conclusion. And as for McCain not voting for a federal marriage amendment, I don't fault him for that. Most of the "values issues" are actually state issues that should be handled at the state level. If the people of California, Massachusetts, or Connecticut were to vote to make homosexual marriage the law of their states, I would have no problem with it, just as I have no problem with South Carolina, Georgia, or Mississippi voting to enshrine marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It should be left to the people of the various states to decide, not for the federal government at any level (executive, legislative, and especially judicial) to decide for the people. McCain could have condemned the ruling, but what good would it have done him in the end? If he had done that the media would have immediately accused him of trying to shift the focus from the economy to attacking the independence of the judiciary; that has been the practice of the Obamedia throughout this cycle, and would have held true in that instance as well. You may think it could have helped McCain, but it is going to take more than a rote condemnation of the Connecticut high court to convince many conservatives that McCain is one of them.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina.

POOR EVERYBODY
Re: Larry Thornberry's Red Florida Singing the Blues:

Mr. Thornberry, McCain recently said he'd whip Obama's "you know what." Well, in 1980, Teddy Kennedy said he'd whip Jimmy Carter's "you know what." Poor McCain. Too many years in the Senate. Poor Governor Palin. Hitched to a broken wagon. Poor us. We get to look forward to the first elected Socialist government in the history of the country.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas


CAPITALISM'S BANE
Re: Reid Collins's It Can't Be Done:

Mr. Collins fails to point up the single most important reason for most, if not all, of Capitalism's ills: socialism.

The collapse of the credit industry, and the subsequent fall of the financial markets, is due almost entirely to socialist ideas forced upon banks and other credit institutions by the government. Individual capacity for work has also diminished in the last thirty years. Once again thanks to Socialist practices adopted by the government. Things like welfare, expanded unemployment compensation, Medicaid, and overly stringent standards for employee termination have caused decay in worker dedication in large business organizations.

In fact, the effects of the socialist, nanny-state mindset has been so pernicious that many people have even come to blame the politicians for the current financial crisis. Those that are ultimately responsible for the crisis are those who will pay through the nose for it: We The People. Why? Because in reality, each individual bears personal responsibility for, not only his or her actions, but also inactions. Socialism allows people to ignore this reality and delude themselves into believing that someone else bears the responsibility. But that is merely delusion.

Yes, the customer service rep who can not answer a simple question and makes no attempt to obtain the answer for the customer or the manager who fails to keep track of his inventory sufficiently to be able to fill a customer's order are annoying, but they are merely symptoms of a greater ill; creeping socialism. Socialism is the antithesis of capitalism and, if left unchecked or even encouraged, will destroy a capitalistic society and eventually the people who make it up.

Excuse this small diversion into politics, but if you like what you see around you and wish for more of the same, then just keep voting for socialist leaning candidates. At least we'll all have a house and a government job.
-- Michael Tobias


ALL-TIME LOW
Re: Readers letters under "It Had to Be Said" in Reader Mail's Taken to the Clean Ayers:

Never. Never in my 74 years have I read the awful frustration and or resignation that this morning's letters illustrated. Beverly Gunn's was about as easy to recognize as a Diane Smith letter; Ira and a bunch of others echoed the thoughts: we've been beaten. Period. And not in a "fair fight."
 
The bad guys have won, are winning, and it hurts. Badly. And in the meantime, we see the schmarmy faces of utter creeps like Bill Maher, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Keith Olbermann (gee, he once was terrific on ESPN before he started taking himself so seriously) and the whole Obama "team" are equally nauseating. Nancy Pelosi too, of course. And countless others.

Our once great country has been betrayed. The incompetent inhabitant of the White House was so gutless he couldn't/wouldn't shut the borders, or even stop his own party's spending/"earmarks" in DC. Impossible to believe, but Dubya's actually as terrible a president as Jimmy Carter; the Iraqis are getting rich off oil revenue, and we're still financing their happiness? My God, what a dolt. He's even transcended Pierce, Buchanan, Tyler, LBJ and Grant in his ineptitude. That's saying a bunch.
 
Proof? Henry Paulson for starters.
 
No, it's sure not my situation that's disturbing, it's my kids' and their children, your families and their offspring, as this magnificent country flushes itself down the toilet. And the sanctimonious GOP puts a stop to Internet wagering while the government supports Lotto; tries to ban the Morning After pill, sweats gay crap? And stem-cells? Idiots. Talk about misplaced priorities.
 
In the meantime, even if there were some semblance of gutsy behavior among the supercilious Republicans, the pandering whores of the demented Democrats, the Daily Kos and Daily Worker seek to impose a terrible system that's failed 'most everywhere -- and they're succeeding?
 
Candidly, I saw it coming. The schools began catering to the lowest intellect fifty-plus years ago, and it's been downhill ever since. The demand for excellence disappeared. Then, in the 70's, "escaped" to Alaska. That didn't work either; the Lower-48 influences like the Sierra Club shut down logging, mining, and imposed all those weird restrictions on the Last Frontier -- and, yeah, I wanted the Alaska Independence Party to succeed too. Couldn't control our own destiny then, and we're still not drilling in ANWR!
 
Guess the next question is, who's going to write the history? Will it speak of we producers being outvoted by those seeking "Something-for-Nothing," the imposed "Redistribution of Wealth?" Or will the eventual readers be subjected to even more Pabulum Puke, Politically Correct garbage, seeking to justify the unjustifiable?
 
Hey, we'll probably split for Costa Rica or the Urca neighborhood of Rio so as to escape Obama's tax increases. Not waiting 'til November, we have the tickets. But, what the hell are our kids going to do?
-- frost


CHARACTER COUNTS
Re: Mitch Gar's letter (under "Nobody's Innocent") in Reader Mail's Taken to the Clean Ayers:

Mr. Gar mentioned several problems the candidates have in their background. He concludes they all have this so let's move on and address more important issues.

Sorry, Mitch, but you miss the whole point in two regards. First, you think there is some kind of moral equivalency between these past incidents. Do you really equate the Keating 5 with a professional relationship with known domestic terrorists? Really?

Second, these incidents tell us something about the character and judgment of the candidates. When it comes to the highest office in the land, character always matters.
-- Garry Greenwood
Gearhart, Oregon


MINE YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Clown of Campaign '08:

Air head Joe Biden lived in the Green Ridge section of Scranton which, at least at the time, was where the rich lived. There were no coalmines in that section of town and in those days coal miners walked to work. While we know that Biden himself never went down the mines, I'm pretty sure neither his father nor grandfather did so either. The man is a jackass and certainly not the pride of this son of Scranton.
-- Jim
Scranton, Pennsylvania

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