The SDMB mock election Debate #4,6,8 & 9: Domestic Issues

Welcome to the fourth SMDB multiparty 2008 campaign debate.

Today we will debate and discuss your policies concerning the remaining Domestic issues. This is combining 4 planned debates and feel free to bring up any other domestic policy issues.

Thread 4: Education & Science & Space
Thread 6: The question of Gay Rights/Marriage, Civil Rights, The candidates position on abortion and if this will play into his or hers judicial appointments.
Thread 8: Ethics & Campaign Reform
Thread 9: Homeland Security, The Patriot Act, Domestic Spying & Immigration

Thread 5: Military & Veteran’s affairs and speak to your stand on the US use of torture and waterboarding.
Thread 7: Foreign policy, highlighting China, Russia, Cuba & Israel and whatever seems important to people.

[RIGHT]Bump and then this will die. [/RIGHT]

Gozu, running as a surprise independant

Education: America must embrace education wholeheartedly. I would authorize more funding to schools and more money to raise teacher salaries. I would also try to institute a way of rewarding good citizens with medals, just like the scouts do. They would get different medals depending on the feedback of their students and the effectiveness of their teaching as measured by inspectors in random interviews, applicable tests, etc. Trust but take precautions is my motto <Grins presidentially>.

Volunteer teachers could give one hour of their time at or near their workplace every other day (companies would be given incentive to pay for this, as it’s good PR), with classes of 9-10 students from the local/regional/national population. There would be a great many sponsored student exchanges within the U.S and beyond to promote tolerance and understanding, subject to agreement by the parents until the child is 15 at which point s/he can start travelling if he so chooses. 3 semester in one or more foreign countries will be mandatory. More medals will be given for learning one or more foreign languages in-situ, doing volunteer work for hosts, etc.

I would push for a law to make public the medals status of the candidates to any person running for public office. Otherwise, they would belong to their owners who may divulge them or not at their leisure to impress the ladies/gents who care about such things.

Science: I would enact compulsory licensing of any new drug, software or invention at fixed rates within 3 years of the filing of a patent at 2% of gross profits of any company who whishes to commercialize the product for 40 years. After that period, they will cease profiting from it and it would go into the public domain. This will ensure that the playfield will be fair, level and high and that innovations will keep coming!

If a company forsakes the 3 year period, they will get 5% of gross for 40 years. This will give an incentive not to sit on new drugs until the current one can no longer be sold at premium prices. It will also boost innovation in all sorts of fast-paced, high-tech industries (Computers and software being some crucial ones).

Any company found evading these taxes would be dissolved and the people responsible would have all their assests confiscated, be drafted in the military, or, if physically unfit, assigned supervised community service and paid 70% of the military pay, under obligation of paying 50% of any additional money or gifts they receive that exceed 5% of annual pay.

Space: Space is where many of the answers we seek lie. I would make sure Nasa is appropriately funded and I will actively seek the partnership and sponsorship of missions by other countries in exchange for media coverage rights and the inclusion of two ore more astronauts from the sponsor country. One can never have enough friendly ties with the population of other countries, for today’s population is tomorrow’s leader.

Gay couples must be given equal rights to married couples and will have the right to have civil unions with same sex SOs. They will also have the right to refer to their civil union in any way they choose, verbally or in writing under any circumstance in perfect legality since civil unions will be legally equivalent to marriages. So, any homosexual couple can call this legal bond a marriage, a civil union, a merging of mirror souls or whatever words they feel represents it best for them. I would vigourously fight to make it illegal to discriminate people for any business, landlord, etc. because of sexual orientation, race or gender.

Abortion: I am pro-choice, to a point. By federal law, I’dAbortion will be legal for all pregnancies between 2-4 months (each state can pick the exact cutoff point themselves) and illegal thereafter *unless they pose a medical risk to the mother. *

All women will have a right to give their child anonymously for adoption, renouncing any right to identification or visitation later on, unless the child asks for it. Delivery and aftercare costs and couseling will all be provided free of charge to any woman who does not want to raise a child and is past legal or personal abortion deadline. And no, I won’t appoint a judge who disagrees with this. I believe this is a sensible compromise.

I’ll address the remaining issues later.

Thank you and God bless America.

<Presidential wave>

What, this just started?

I’ve been away from teh internet for a week, I expected to miss more!

I mean, yes, I’ve been putting together my prospective cabinet. :looks about shiftily:

Well, I’ll just start with what I meant to lead thread 4 with:

There has grown up a small industry of writers & pundits who denounce the horrible public school system in the USA. This is patently unfair. We have some very good public schools in this country. We also have some very bad public schools in this country. What we don’t have is an American public school system. We have a lot of locally sovereign school boards, who vary enormously in budget, ethics, professionalism, & in standards. Yet, oddly, most of those who denounce the pathetic patchwork of public schools in the country seem more interested in drumming up business for private schools than in advocating for a Department of Education that works.

My stance on public education goes back to when I was in college & had a professor from Germany. I was amazed to learn that there are no private schools in the entire country of Germany. And people there don’t want them. They say, “Why would you want to send your child to an inferior school?” Let that sink in. The public schools are that good. How completely opposite to American attitudes!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized we can learn something from this. A child’s education shouldn’t depend on the school district in which his parents can afford to live. I will push for a system of national funding, national standards, & national accountability for all public schools in this country, so that we can, finally, really approach that “equality of opportunity” that so many in this country say they want.

I’m being interviewed by sixteen different correspondents this morning, so I can’t respond just now… but I will soon! I haven’t forgotten.

My campaign thread:

A statement by Elendil’s Heir, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States.

Education in this country has always been, and should remain, largely a local issue. However, the U.S. Department of Education has an important role to play in encouraging and supporting educational excellence, and that will continue. I have long been concerned about rising higher-education tuition costs. Colleges and universities obviously cannot, and will not, price themselves out of existence. Sooner or later the bubble of soaring tuition will burst for all but the very most selective schools. I don’t have any particular plan for financial aid, but would support increases in it, consistent with our need to reduce the current monstrous Federal budget deficit.

We must maintain our leading international role in the sciences, across all disciplines. The politicization of science, so baldly and unapologetically practiced by the Bush Administration, must stop. I will have a White House science advisor recognized as an expert in his or her field, who will provide me with candid, impartial, pragmatic advice on science issues as they arise. My priority in appointments to the many Federal science advisory boards and committees will be based purely on merit. I strongly support stem-cell research, which has tremendous promise to revolutionize modern medicine.

As a little boy, I was inspired by America’s bold ventures into space. John F. Kennedy rallied a nation to go to the Moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard, and now we crave new challenges. I strongly support a mix of both manned and unmanned space exploration. Humanity’s destiny will someday lie in space; we should rebuild a vigorous, risk-taking but safety-conscious NASA. Every dollar spent on space exploration has tremendous spinoff and ancillary benefits for this country. I would also increase funding for efforts to locate and track near-Earth objects which potentially pose a catastrophic risk to life on our planet.

Gay Rights and Gay Marriage
Gay people are, and should be, valued members of American society. My personal belief is that we are all God’s children, and that we should care for each other and celebrate the contributions that each of us can make to our great republic.

I oppose the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, unwisely codified into law. It has been an appalling failure, and has caused grave injustices to patriotic gay Americans who want to serve their country. We are now forcing valuable men and women out of the U.S. armed forces under the policy, including, for instance, Arabic translators whose services are desperately needed post-9-11. I agree with Vice President Dick Cheney, who while Secretary of Defense called the exclusion of gays “an old chestnut,” as I agree with former Reagan Pentagon official Lawrence Korb, who suggested that there is no rational military basis for it. It is long overdue for repeal. I am struck that virtually all of the arguments that have been made against permitting gays to openly serve were also raised against President Truman’s courageous decision to desegregate the military. Harry Truman did the right thing, and so should we.

I personally support gay marriage. I have gay friends who love each other just as much their straight neighbors, who want to raise families and have all of the benefits of marriage that the rest of us take for granted. Marriage in this country is far more endangered by domestic violence, lack of commitment, adultery and substance abuse than by gay marriage. If I were a state legislator, I would vote in favor of gay marriage here in Ohio. However, marriage has historically been a state matter, and I agree with Sen. John McCain that the Federal government ought to keep its nose out of it. If a bill to repeal DOMA reached my Oval Office desk, I would sign it, but I also recognize that is extremely unlikely, even with aggressive presidential leadership. We are not yet there, as a nation.

Civil Rights
I will enforce all civil rights laws now on the books to the utmost. I support the recent line of Supreme Court cases permitting affirmative action, but not outright quotas, in providing broader opportunities for all people to fully participate in civil society. I favor adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes along with national origin, religion, race, and so on.

Abortion and Judicial Appointments
I am strongly pro-choice. I agree with former President Bill Clinton that abortion in the U.S. should be “legal, safe and rare.” I personally oppose the Federal so-called “partial-birth abortion” law, recently and unwisely upheld by the Supreme Court, because it contains no exception for the health and safety of mothers. Repugnant though the procedure is, it is sometimes medically necessary, and the law should reflect that.

George Washington said, “The administration of justice is the surest pillar of government,” and he was right. My appointments to the district and appellate courts need not necessarily be pro-choice, so long as I am convinced that they would be true to their oaths and follow the law. However, as I believe Roe v. Wade now hangs in the balance, my appointments to the Supreme Court, if any, would assuredly be pro-choice.

Ethics and Campaign Reform
The government of the United States belongs to the people of the United States. Public service, Grover Cleveland wisely noted, is a public trust. I will do my utmost to ensure that everyone who serves in my Administration takes that to heart, and I will have zero tolerance for self-dealing, corruption or unethical behavior.

I supported the McCain-Feingold Act at the time, but more and more I doubt its efficacy. Money is, as they say, the mother’s milk of politics. In a country as big as this, with campaigning as expensive as it is, money will find its way into the process no matter what. I would urge Congress to consider removing all limits on campaign funding, but to also require instantaneous and complete Internet reporting of all contributions, with stiff penalties - including large fines and, for the most egregious cases, prison - for violations. The Federal Election Commission needs to be reformed; too often it now issues its decisions years after an election and imposes fines which are little more than a bad joke.

Homeland Security, The Patriot Act, and Domestic Spying
My first duty as President, consistent with the oath written by the Framers, is to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” My second duty is to protect the lives and property of all Americans from our enemies. Domestic wiretapping and other surveillance should only be carried out with court authorization, as required by the Fourth Amendment and its later interpretations. Anything less sets an extremely dangerous precedent and would ultimately endanger liberty. This is one area in which I’m particularly critical of the Bush Administration.

Any invasion of privacy or strengthening of police powers needs to be carefully scrutinized. Is it constitutional? Advisable? Will it really make us safer? Do the benefits really outweigh the costs? More often than not, since 9-11, the answer has been “no.” We should remember the sage advice often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” The Patriot Act will need major revisions.

I am strongly opposed to secret detentions, and even more so to torture. Torture coarsens those members of our military and intelligence services who practice it, and violates international treaties to which the U.S. is a party - and which are, as constitutionally defined, the “supreme law of the land.” It corrodes the rule of law and exposes us as hypocrites, badly undercutting the basis of our real and deadly serious struggle against international terrorism. I agree with Sen. McCain, who has had some grim personal experience in the field, that torture is a moral and legal wrong which stains our nation’s honor. In fighting our enemies, we must take care not to become them.

We are a nation of immigrants, and every day they make invaluable contributions to the United States, but we are also a nation under the rule of law. The current situation is untenable. We cannot be secure, as a nation, if our borders are not secure. Legal immigration should be encouraged; illegal immigration must be stopped or severely curtailed. I favored the immigration bill which died in Congress last year; for all its faults, it offered a way forward from the current crisis in immigration.

Whoops, didn’t see this until now.

Education & Science & Space

Obviously education is one of the biggest concerns of a President, although aside from promoting it there is not much they should do about actually setting curriculi (is that an actual word?). I’m not in favour of school vouchers, although I would be in favour of a limited system where private schools could become eligible through some kind of government-approved accreditation system. I don’t really like the idea that the federal government decide what it is that kids are taught, but I don’t see any other way to ensure the money is spent wisely.

American needs to continue to be a world leader in medical and other scientific fields. The best way to do that, really, is to keep goverment out of research; potential partisanship is high, and I wouldn’t want to affect or spin scientific results even if it aided my causes. Science is a search for truth, and government is not exactly known for its clarity and honesty.

Space-wise, I do think it is important that we continue to reach for the stars. By learning about things outside our small world, we learn more about ourselves and our place in a grander stage. To those who say that going off on half-baked ideas wastes money, I would say that there are tangible and intangible results that are well worth it.

The question of Gay Rights/Marriage, Civil Rights, The candidates position on abortion and if this will play into his or hers judicial appointments.

I believe the government should get out of the marriage business. When a person thinks back to their wedding day, i’m pretty sure the first thing on their minds is not their happiness from having a bureacrat somewhere having sorted the appropriate forms. The government should do only what it needs to; accept civil contracts between consenting adults who wish to tie together their interests and future. Any celebrations, ceremonies, religious events, family occasions, or terminology that people wish to use should be left in the hands of those who want them. I believe that the government, including the states, should be obliged to allow these contracts to be made by any consenting adults - but details other than that are entirely in left in the purview of the people involved, priests, and whoever else has a say. I think that simply allowing gay people to sign a contract tying their lives together economically and legally isn’t all that hard a pill for people to swallow.

Civil Rights-wise, I imagine i’m going to split from the general liberal viewpoint when I say i’m not in favour of affirmative action. If it worked, I would be. But honestly, when the problem is changing people’s minds, forcing change upon them is going to hurt your chances of doing so, not help them. Affirmative action will prolong racist, sexist, etc-ist tendencies, simply because forcing people to act in a way they don’t agree with makes people defensive, not open. In general, I’d support civil rights legislation to the full of my ability.

I believe abortion should be safe, rare, and legal. Of all mostly religious-based objections, it’s probably the one i’m most sympathetic to; it’s not just a matter of choice, but to many people, a matter of essentially mass slaughter. I’m afraid my only answer to that is that I don’t think it is; if people disagree i’m afraid the only option is not to vote for me. I am for stem cell research, and I see no reason why embryos that will die anyway should not be used in such research.

My judicial appointments will be based solely on whether or not I believe the people concerned can uphold the law. Those with strongly held beliefs, that would affect their decisions - even if they are for my own positions - have no place in the judiciary. Their job is to understand the law, not to make it.

Ethics & Campaign Reform

As the Independence Party candidate (at least nominally), I am for a more than two-party system. More parties, even ones that have little-to-no chance of gaining overall control (as it is here), help keep the other parties honest. In addition, by having a genuine alternative for people to vote for to show their displeasure, parties will need to at least to some degree actually fulfil their promises to their base.
Homeland Security, The Patriot Act, Domestic Spying & Immigration

I believe that Homeland Security currently is focused too much on after effects and not on stopping threats from building. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For this reason I am against detention abroad and rendition of prisoners; all prisoners should be held within the country and be given a trial as per their rights while within our justice system. Simply capturing people gives no true measure of the guilty.

As far as the Patriot Act and Domestic Spying are concerned - I am afraid that I am partially for each. I believe it is acceptable to not know you are under suspicion, and indeed I think that’s an important thing when tracking potential threats. However, I do believe that a court order should be required for access by law enforcement to various citizen’s records; I am unhappy that such steps need to be taken, but if they have to be I want them as tough against potential abuse as possible.

Oh, and i’d change the name of the damn thing. Because “Patriot Act” is just blatant propaganda.

Immigration-wise, I am entirely for legal immigration, and entirely against illegal immigration. I think the best way to curb it is to impose heavier fines on those employers who hire such people. It must not be seen as a risk worth taking. I am not for measures such as making English the national language.