Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Candidates on Some Harder Issues

As we swirl down the vortex toward the 2008 Presidential elections, it gets a little hard to tell what the candidates actually believe about the issues. Charlie Savage at the Boston Globe has done a really cool thing here. He asked all the candidates the same set of questions, and reported their answers in a nice readable format. It seems to me there is a question behind most of these questions, which is -- is the President obligated to obey the law?

The questions are:
  • Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?
  • In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
  • Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?
  • Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?
  • Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?
  • Does executive privilege cover testimony or documents about decision-making within the executive branch not involving confidential advice communicated to the president himself?
  • If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?
  • Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?
    < li>Do you agree or disagree with the statement made by former Attorney General Gonzales in January 2007 that nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus, separate from any statutory habeas rights Congress might grant or take away?
  • Is there any executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that you think is unconstitutional? Anything you think is simply a bad idea?
  • Who are your campaign's advisers for legal issues?
  • Do you think it is important for all would-be presidents to answer questions like these before voters decide which one to entrust with the powers of the presidency? What would you say about any rival candidate who refuses to answer such questions?

[Update: Someone in the comments points out that I forgot to include a link to the survey. You can read it HERE]

Candidates who answered the questions are:
  • Joseph Biden
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Christopher Dodd
  • John Edwards
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Mike Huckabee
  • John McCain
  • Barack Obama
  • Ron Paul
  • Bill Richardson
  • Mitt Romney
  • Fred Thompson

If all you care about is what church the candidate attends, or how they look on TV with the sound turned down, or whether they are a bitch or somebody said they were educated in a madrassa, then you won't be interested in their answers to these questions. Some of our readers though might be glad to find this resource, to study the differences between the candidates. While a lot of it is predictable, some of their statements are very revealing.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the URL to the first question. You can navigate to the rest of the questions from the first.

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/specials/CandidateQA/ObamaQA/

December 30, 2007 7:01 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

well at least SOMEONE is asking the candidates important questions

December 30, 2007 8:50 PM  
Anonymous the red baron said...

Since most of these questions seem to revolve around the Bush administration's handling of the Mideast war, it might be interesting for those few thinking people who read this blog to peruse Dinesh D'Souzaa column today about the odd case of the American left who opposes democracy in the Middle East.

http://news.aol.com/newsbloggers/2007/12/28/why-the-left-hates-democracy/

December 31, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's one they forgot:

"According to presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, homosexual behavior is a choice.

"We may have certain tendencies, but [we choose] how we behave and how we carry out our behavior," Huckabee said in an interview Sunday with Tim Russert of MSNBC's "Meet the Press."

Huckabee is known for his controversial remarks regarding homosexuality; as Russert reminded him, Huckabee once said he felt it was a "aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle."

Although Huckabee asked Russert to understand that "when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners," he asserted that "the perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners.""

December 31, 2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous, "god" is irrelevant - there's no such thing. What matters is that we love and support one another while hurting no one. Gays do this as well as heterosexuals and are just as committed as life partners. Its only appropriate that society support them equally.

December 31, 2007 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, "god" is irrelevant - there's no such thing."

To say God is irrelevant is ridiculous. Even atheists are obsessed with God. If God is irrelevant, why are so many desperately trying to argue that He doesn't exist? The reason that Hitchens and Dawkins and the rest are writing books and giving lectures is that widespread belief in Him making Him very "relevant."

And no such thing? To the contrary, naturalism is completely helpless to explain our universe. The existence of God does explain it. Since when is the most likely explanation a "no such thing"?

"What matters is that we love and support one another while hurting no one."

Why does that matter if we're just a bunch of dust and electrons?

I think that your proposal here is a little unrealistic, if not impossible. You see the world consists of all kinds of people and some of them are very bad. They hurt others and, if you love and support these bad people, you will probably indirectly hurt others.

Aside from that, it's pretty depressing to think that we have no higher purpose than to not "hurt" each other, presumably so we can all just indulge whatever hedonistic desire strikes us. Epicureanism is not the most noble end of life.

"Gays do this as well as heterosexuals and are just as committed as life partners."

We don't even have to begin to discuss the damage the gay movement does to society. Gays do enough damage to each other.

"Its only appropriate that society support them equally."

Makes no sense.

December 31, 2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The terrorists who crashed airplanes to kill Americans on 9/11/01 were obsessed with God. Allah-o-Akbar was something they often said. Supreme Master Ching Hai seems to think "God" is the English word for "Allah."

Is Allah a different God than the Christian God?

December 31, 2007 5:12 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 31, 2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger Randi Schimnosky said...

Anonymous said "To say God is irrelevant is ridiculous. Even atheists are obsessed with God. If God is irrelevant, why are so many desperately trying to argue that He doesn't exist?".

Atheists don't give a damn about the imaginary god. Our concern is for the deluded people using "god" as an excuse to saddle us with counterproductive ancient and destructive thinking.

Anonymous said "And no such thing? To the contrary, naturalism is completely helpless to explain our universe. The existence of God does explain it. Since when is the most likely explanation a "no such thing"?".

We don't know how the universe came to be therefore goddidit?! Puhleeze. A loving and just god that allows belief in him and his religion of choice to be debatable and who then eternally tortures people for innocently believing otherwise cannot exist anymore than a square circle can exist. There's never been any documented example of magic or the supernatural, there is no evidence for the existence of a god and every natural event has shown that no such thing exists.

I said "What matters is that we love and support one another while hurting no one."

Anonymous responded "Why does that matter if we're just a bunch of dust and electrons?".

Straw man. I never said we were just a bunch of dust and electrons. Fact is we all feel pain and pleasure and that's why it matters that we love and support each other.

Anonymous said "I think that your proposal here is a little unrealistic, if not impossible. You see the world consists of all kinds of people and some of them are very bad. They hurt others and, if you love and support these bad people, you will probably indirectly hurt others.".

Oh, so then you don't believe in the typical Christian BS of "love the sinner, hate the sin" - I'll thank you to never use such a phrase again then. We love and support those that cooperate with us. Those that choose to reject the fundamental morality of "do no harm" we can only defend ourselves against them until when and if they resume behaving morally.

Anonymous said "Aside from that, it's pretty depressing to think that we have no higher purpose than to not "hurt" each other, presumably so we can all just indulge whatever hedonistic desire strikes us.".

Be depressed if you so choose, there is no higher purpose to life other than to live well while you've got a life to live. A moral person does not indulge whatever hedonistic desire strikes them, they indulge whatever hedonistic desire strikes them so long as they don't hurt others - that is the essence of morality.

Anonymous said "We don't even have to begin to discuss the damage the gay movement does to society. Gays do enough damage to each other.".

Two gays loving and supporting each other hurts no one and benefits both of them making them happier, healthier, and more productive thus benefitting society. Supportive love is never a bad thing. My boyfriend is the warmest, most caring, supportive, nurturing individual around, to suggest that our relationship is a bad thing is utter insanity.

Anonymous asked "Is Allah a different God than the Christian God?"


Yes, of course. The Christians believe that Jesus was god, the muslims do not believe that Jesus was Allah. Clearly not the same god.

December 31, 2007 5:45 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

For those interested in the impact of the "God is our side" approach, I suggest going to see the new movie, "Charlie Wilson's War."

Happy New Year.

December 31, 2007 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Emproph said...

"I think that your proposal here is a little unrealistic, if not impossible. You see the world consists of all kinds of people and some of them are very bad. They hurt others and, if you love and support these bad people, you will probably indirectly hurt others."

Which is why liberals like me don’t support people like you and Mike Huckabee. You’ve already made is clear that your religious beliefs are based on hurting others, because your religion is supremacism -- at the heart of which lies the need to oppress others.

"Aside from that, it's pretty depressing to think that we have no higher purpose than to not "hurt" each other, presumably so we can all just indulge whatever hedonistic desire strikes us."

I don’t know how anyone can call themselves a Christian if that is the entirety of what you get out of Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor as thyself. You must think Jesus was a pervert if all he was advocating was indulging in hedonistic desires.

December 31, 2007 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Emproph said...

I also find it interesting, but not surprising that Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson refused to even answer the questions.

Getting answers out of these theocrats is like pulling teeth. Though I wouldn’t necessarily call Giuliani a theocrat. Huckabee on the other hand...

Even when he’s answering questions he’s not. Like the mess with that Tim Russert exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: Peggy Noonan, a woman of faith who writes for The Wall Street Journal, said that sometimes it appears your philosophy is "This is what God wants," and that doesn't encourage discussion, it squelches it. And, and this is what you wrote in your book, "Kids Who Kill," in 1998: "It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations--from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia." Why would you link homosexuality with sadomasochism, pedophilia and necrophilia?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, what I was pointing out is all of these are deviations from what has been the traditional concept of sexual behavior and men and women having children, raising those children in the context of a, of a traditional marriage and family. And, again, taken out of the larger context of that book, speaking about how so many of our social institutions have been broken down.

MR. RUSSERT: But do you think homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia...

GOV. HUCKABEE: Oh, of course not.

MR. RUSSERT: ...or sadomasochism?

GOV. HUCKABEE: No, of course not. I didn't say...
----------
My take:
Say they’re the same thing? Moi? Tim, I’m not saying two adult homosexual Americans in a consensual relationship are the equivalent of raping children, torture and screwing corpses, I just lump them in with those other categories so that others can make the connection and decide for themselves that they are equivalent.
---------
MR. RUSSERT: But this is what concerns people. This, this is what you did say about homosexuality: "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle." That's millions of Americans.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I'm a sinner, everybody's a sinner. What one's sin is, means it's missing the mark. It's missing the bull's eye, the perfect point. I miss it every day; we all do. The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners. Now, even married couples don't do that perfectly, so sin is not some act of equating people with being murderers or rapists...
-------
My take:
Tim we’re all sinners, it’s just that some sins are more acceptable to God than others. But to actually have the spine to admit this outright would make me come across as the supremacist bigot that I am, so I obfuscate by saying that even we holier than thou married heterosexual couples also sin. You see Tim, all I’m saying is that God thinks we should compare acceptable sins with other acceptable sins, and likewise compare unacceptable sins like homosexuality with bestiality and necrophilia, I’m perfectly consistent, and not at all a flaming hypocrite.
---------
MR. RUSSERT: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you're born gay or you choose to be gay?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I don't know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they're born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior--but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I've been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I'm OK with that. I hope I've answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it's important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I've never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I've never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I've never done that.
--------
My take:
Tim, just because millions of Americans lead aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyles, simply because they may have been born to love differently than me, doesn’t mean that they can’t all lead perfectly loveless lives – by law if necessary. The human “tendency” for human companionship, to love and be loved, is a chosen behavior for homosexuals but not for heterosexuals. Heterosexual Christians don’t have free will, this is something the homosexual community needs to understand and have compassion on us for. We don’t choose to have love in our lives, God just makes it magically appear without our knowledge, probably because our sins, being heterosexual, are acceptable to God.
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Yup, I can hardly tell the difference between him and Jesus, in fact when you think about it, his name almost sounds like Jesus.

Vote Huckabee `08! A vote for anyone else is a vote for necrophilia.

December 31, 2007 7:28 PM  

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