Saturday, May 05, 2007

McCain's visit to Google

John McCain visited Google. My notes:
  1. He said, energy independence is going to require nuclear power, and he referenced France generating 80% of their power from nuclear.
    I would say that mitigating global warming is going to require nuclear power. And not just "part of the mix", but a massive investment of a scale France has never needed to consider -- 500 new gigawatt reactors in 25 years. Energy independence, on the other hand, merely requires domestic energy, which is going to be coal before it's going to be nuclear. I think McCain's sense of this issue is not well nuanced yet. He admitted that 8 years ago he knew very little about global warming, and claimed he'd learned a lot since.
  2. He said, America has to enforce its borders, evict illegal immigrants (put them at the back of the line behind everyone else waiting for a visa), set up a broader-scale temporary guest worker program, and let those who wish to study at our universities come.
    I agree that allowing foreigners to study at our universities, effectively subsidizing their education which they then take back home with them, is a good way to export America's core values, which makes the world a safer place. Sometimes I wonder if I should believe this, when it seems so many foreign tyrants studied at U.S. institutions (e.g. Idi Amin).
  3. Some senator apparently said that America is losing the Iraq war, and McCain apparently claimed that if we lost, Al Queda won, and that's not acceptable. One Googler suggested that perhaps everyone lost. McCain had a lame answer for this, essentially that if someone loses, someone else must have won, that's just logic.
    It seems to me the big winners in Iraq are Iran and Al Queda. Iran managed to get the Great Satan to fight the war Iran was incapable of winning on its own. The Shi'ite majority in Iraq seems to lean towards Shi'ite Iran, and has clearly gone front oppressed underdog to presumed incumbent in the midst of a civil war.
  4. I had never seen McCain in person before. He clearly enjoys talking with people. He liked taking questions from the audience. He appears spry. He also says a lot of things that would appear to be uncomfortable politically -- he said the folks in charge of Iran had some "cockamamie" (he used that word) idea that (I'm having trouble remembering the exact details) the 13th Imam was going to cause a holocaust wiping the nonbelievers off the earth. He then said that Iran had a large population of well educated people with more moderate views who wanted a less oppressive government. He also said, at another time in the talk, that he felt the neighboring governments around Iraq, Iran included, were going to want to help with Iraq's problems. He contrasted Iran with North Korea, where he implied that the people are not well educated, which seems unnecessarily frank.
    His description of Iran's leader's cockamamie ideas sounds nearly identical to those of our religious right. McCain toed the party line in 2004, and I wonder to what extent he is beholden to the kooks who took control of the Republican part in the 1990s.
  5. McCain claimed the Republican party was the part of small government, but at the same time stood for several other expansive ideas, chief among them the idea that the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was something America should export to the rest of the world.
    I'm hopeful that McCain would attempt to be more cautious with the budget, but it's clear to me that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have any sense of frugality.
  6. McCain said the Republican party was for minimal governmental regulation, but he failed to motivate what the minimum amount of regulation might be.
    It's clear to me that the free market is a game. The government sets the rules and keeps people from cheating, and the players optimize their return within those rules. The rules have to set carefully to allow creativity to blossom, while at the same time constraining the players not to destroy the community for their own benefit. It would be nice to hear someone espousing small government clarify the difference between small government and anarchy.
Anyway, I was very impressed. McCain seemed much more willing to commit himself to a vision of the future than Hilary Clinton was about a month ago when she visited.

McCain's vision seems a bit like mine. McCain might just love talking more than thinking. (One wonders what he is like talking to foreign, perhaps unfriendly, leaders.) I'm also concerned he opposes the right to abortion. Given that he'll face a Democratic congress, this won't deter my vote for him.

Clinton doesn't seem to have a vision except excessive rosiness and lots of what the government owes the people. Her attitude towards the Iraq war is that Bush started it, and he should finish it, and if he doesn't, she will. But that's really short on detail, and suggests she would prefer it wasn't there. McCain, on the other hand, seems abundantly clear on the implications of pulling out, and simultaneously clear on the mess we have now. I think he's likely to escalate our involvement in an honest attempt to salvage a positive outcome. And, I think he probably has a better sense than anyone else I've seen of how to handle it. And, I think the Iraq war and the larger security situation around it is the central issue of this election.

So long as his running mate isn't some religious wacko (e.g. G. W. Bush clone), I'm probably going to vote for McCain, and pray he stays healthy for four years.