John McCain's Stock Drops With Me

I have been trying to watch Senator John McCain's campaign efforts as closely as possible as he attempts his run for President of the United States.

First off, Senator McCain has been losing ground recently. Evidently, in an effort to stem the tide, he has been tacking right in his positions in an attempt to bolster his support amongst the more conservative base in the Republican Party. I sometimes wonder if this does not perhaps explain his lagging support in his run. When he tacks hard right, he not only fails to gain conservative support, but he alienates the moderate, more independent minded members that was his "base" originally. I am going to point out what I understand to be the positions he has staked out on a number of issues and how these positions have resulted in a weakening of my own support for Senator McCain. Why should my opinion matter? Because I am amongst those who WAS (note past tense) a strong supporter of his and his tacking hard right has resulted in a lessening of my own support for him in his campaign.

First let's start with the hard core social issues. Now I am not totally a hot button social issue voter (think Republican speak "family values") however they are important enough to me that they do matter. The most telling of these issues are the positions on gay marriage and abortion. My own positions are that: on gay marriage, I seek a society that is tolerant of homosexuality but tolerant only. I do not support the "right" to marriage that some homosexuals seek and I am in favor of an amendment to the federal constitution that defends our traditional understanding of the term marriage and bars homosexuals from redefining the term. I do not think we can duck the issue and let each state determine whether or not it will allow homosexual marriage because the issue is going to end up in the federal courts, perhaps even the Supreme Court, when a homosexual couple married in one state relocates to another... or just as probable... a homosexual couple with children married in one state's marriage breaks up and one of the members of the couple seeks to bar any visitation rights to the other member by packing up and moving to another, more conservative, state that does not recognize homosexual marriage. Instead of "leaving it to the courts to decide" the public needs to decide on the issue in advance and I am in favor of deciding "no homosexual marriage" period. On abortion: I describe my position as "pro restricted choice". Specifically, I am in favor of a woman's right of unrestricted choice up till about the fourth month of pregnancy. After the fourth month I feel the woman should lose the right of "choice", or should I say that through inaction before the fourth month, the woman made her choice. After the fourth month I am in favor of only allowing an abortion where the woman's life (not just her health, particularly not her "mental" health) is endangered. Now where does Senator McCain stand on these issues? He's against an amendment to the federal constitution barring gay marriage and he wants to OVERTURN Roe vs Wade through appointing "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court. As far as I am concerned, Senator McCain gets it wrong on both of these issues.

2nd Amendment - gun rights: here Senator McCain stands firm in my camp. Now I do not personally own a gun, however I strongly support every citizen's right to own one (with only a few, not very onerous, exceptions) and I feel that "gun control" has gone far enough to restrict the rights guaranteed to citizens under the 2nd amendment. Senator McCain leaves little doubt as to where he stands when, as you can (see here) in a Washington Times piece that reports, in response to questions prompted by the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech he states:
“I do believe in the constitutional right that everyone has, in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, to carry a weapon,” he said. “Obviously we have to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens.”
Nothing wishy-washy in this statement. His mind is made up and if ever there was going to be an opportunity to waffle on his position, this would have given him the opportunity to do so.

Taxes and the budget deficit: Senator McCain is starting to alienate me on this issue. He's against pork barrel earmarks and runaway federal spending like I am, however the "recipe" he is coming up with to cure the federal budget deficit seems to come from the same old, tried and failed, menu Republicans have been feeding us for the last several years of tax cuts for the wealthy. (See here) where the Washington Times again reports:
In his first major economic speech since announcing his run for the presidency, Mr. McCain said he would extend President Bush's tax cuts and vowed to take on the vexing problems of reforming Social Security and Medicare.
When it comes to federal finances, Senator McCain is tacking hard right. He's strongly in favor of the Bush tax cuts which went mainly to the wealthy and which as far as I am concerned are chiefly responsible for the mushrooming national deficit spending. Since I am so critical of his stand on the federal budget, I doubt I would even care to hear about what he would come up with to "cure what ails" Social Security and Medicare. Perhaps even more telling of his support for mistakes of the past (the Dubyah Bush tax cuts) are his hints at plans for the future also reported about in the above linked Washington Times piece:

A day before national tax-filing day, he also said a commission should study how best to overhaul the "Byzantine code" that costs taxpayers "$140 billion in compliance and preparation costs each year $1,000 for every American family."

"Our job is to simplify the tax code as much as possible and have a debate on whether it should be fairer, or flat, or whatever it is. Estonia, a brand-new little country, they have a 22 percent tax, period. End of story. You can file your tax return on the Internet. That sounds very attractive to a lot of people," he said in a short question-and-answer session after his speech.

Have you got that? Senator McCain thinks we should consider a flat tax because Estonia adopted one. He thinks we should replace "the American Way" with "the Estonian Way" or something. Bullshit. I am FIRMLY in favor of a progressive tax code, something along the lines of what we had before the Dubyah Bush tax cuts where the lower class pays little or nothing, the middle class pays some, and the upper class pays more. Any efforts to impose more of the tax burden on the middle class and while lessening the burden on the upper class while sugar coating it with labels like "the Fair Tax" or something is more then I can stomach. I might be open to arguments to simplify our tax system, but when "plain and simple" this effort yields tax cuts for the wealthy along with tax increases for the middle class I am dead set against it and I refuse to compromise.

Let me also call attention to Senator McCain's exaggerated claims about how much it costs the average taxpayer to comply with our "Byzantine code" as it now exists. I am not sure where he comes up with the $1,000 per family figure, but if that figure is honest and accurate we sure have a lot of stupid people getting screwed by tax accountants that are charging too much. I will use myself as an example and I do not think my own example is very representative of the "average" American family. My filings are too complicated to be representative. Each year I file extremely complicated tax returns, with numerous schedules, and this includes corporate as well as personal returns. The total bill? About $350, a little more then a third of what Senator McCain claims. I doubt the "average" American family's filings include corporate returns either.

By the way, when I go into my accountant each year, it does not even take her an hour to complete my return while I sit in a chair opposite her desk. Of course, I come in prepared and I maintain fairly meticulous records all during the year so it is not that hard for me to give her the figures she needs to complete and fill out my returns.

I have already written previous articles about where I differ with John McCain on Iraq. On his stated stance on this issue, I might be willing to give him some time to shift his position from "stay the course" to becoming the candidate who can get us through the withdrawal from Iraq without our looking like a dog running with his tail tucked between its legs. It is my opinion that America is going to withdraw from Iraq one way or another. What I want to hear is specifics from the candidates on how they would go about doing it. I expect John McCain to be forced to come up with his own plan for withdrawal, unless Dubyah Bush's "surge" and further efforts yield fantastically positive results between now and election day. In the meantime, if another major terrorist attack were to happen on American soil before election day, Senator McCain has himself positioned as almost the sole "hard line" candidate who could "save us from the terrorists".

All in all, Senator McCain is starting to lose many aspects of what appealed to me about him in the first place. Instead of running as an independent minded moderate, he is starting to sound more and more like a retread of a George Dubyah Bush candidacy while he tries to win support from the conservative base of the Republican Party. Well his efforts to win over the conservatives have not been very successful and by doing so he has been alienating those like me who supported him in the first place.


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