Our Choice

By Sean Carroll | June 4, 2008 10:07 am

It’s up to you, America!

You can’t say the differences aren’t … stark.

  • Elliot

    McCain has flipped on so many issues to try to get as much distance between himself and Bush he is completely lacking in credibility at this point. His campaign is being run by corporate lobbyists.

    So I anticipate the GOP will go negative and attack Obama and we can expect an ugly campaign.

    Hopefully Obama will take the gloves off even if he would prefer to keep the discussion at a higher level. I suspect that David Axelrod is up to the task.

    We’ve already been embarrassed in the global arena by Bush for 8 years. We can’t afford another 4 with McCain.


  • Pingback: This Makes No Sense. — It’s up to you, America!()

  • Elliot

    Now McCain is asking for 10 town hall meetings with Obama. Does he seriously think that he is even in the same league as Obama and standing on the same stage is going to help his chances? To quote Animal House “Boy this is going to be great.”


  • Kurt

    Hillary or Bust!
    If not Hillary then McCain does not bother me.
    Nobama! Same old politics. If he is a uniter let him unite the party! It is not up to Hillary.
    Obama will more divisive that George Bush for COMPLETELY different reasons.

    Obama supporters have treated Hillary Clinton like absolute pure Sh**. Even today in the media.
    and now they NEED a super majority of our vote. that is not going to happen ever.

    the superdelegates just handed the presidency to mccain. hillary would have crushed mccain.
    with obama it will be a long long struggle and in the end he will lose
    i am quitting the democratic party as of today.

  • Haelfix

    Nice biased and painfully idiotic article about McCain. No mention of why he actually votes differently on various bills (you would find he is remarkably consistent with his logic) etc etc

    Its just a partisan hack job of the worst sort, when the reality is McCain is probably the best republican candidate in the past 30 years.

  • Kurt

    Haelfix is right.
    McCain voted with the democrats on immigration. he was against the failed Rumsfeld iraq policy. he was against torture and guantanomo. he is for scientists and their work should not be censored. he acknowledges global climate change and how we need to address it!
    he is no george bush.

    Sean is extremely bias. He has never fully explained why he supports Obama over Clinton. Typical of most Obama supporters.

  • Rien

    Kurt, Haelfix: Bush or McCain?

  • http://www.tblog.ca Teddy

    You might even say… black and white.

    Good luck. We’re watching from up here in Canuckistan with great interest.

  • Tarun

    To Halefix, Kurt: Could you substantiate upon why you don’t like Obama. What do you mean by `same, old politics’. And when was he devisive??

    And regarding Obama’s supporters not giving respect to Hillary, I don’t know what to say except that a majority of them didn’t oppose her only because of her being white! (which apparently is an offense in a color-reversed world according to many of the Hillary supporters, at least when you are running for President).

    And who was the candidate who explicitly brought `race factor’ (one of the most divisive strategy) into democratic race. Leaving the Martin Luther comment apart, do you remember Hillary’s comment about `white, blue collar’ people supporting her over Obama?? It amazes me that in a country which tries time and again to pretend itself as race/religion tolerant, even famous politician’s (like Hillary) can get away with categorizing their supporters by race! (and we are all desensitized to a point that we don’t find it offending). If that is not divisive, nothing else is.

  • Elliot


    Can you point specifically to what in Sean’s post is biased?

    It appears to me that all he did was post videos of the two candidates speaking on the same day.

    The fact that Obama appears head and shoulders more articulate and “presidential” than McCain is not Sean’s fault. Or I guess in your mind maybe it is.


  • Haelfix

    Elliot, try the link on the word ‘stark’, which reads like something a Daily Kos nutter might output.

    Actually, I don’t mind Obama at all. I think hes a fine, articulate candidate even though I don’t his core policies much. I disagree with him on pulling out of Iraq post surge success. I don’t see much logic in doing it ‘now’, even if you were against the Iraq war to begin with (which I was).

    I also don’t think his economic policies are any good since they pretty much are a 360 from current business and academic thinking. Whether its raising taxes in a recession, anti free trade rants or the alarming amount of public programs and spending he’s promised (thus inciting doubts that he will shrink the deficit).

    Otoh I agree with him on a number of other issues (eg maybe healthcare), and have no doubt that a democrat in office will raise the prestige of the US in the eyes of the world (for better or for worse, the rest of the world is hopelessly partisan) etc

  • Jason Dick

    After watching the bits and pieces of her speech last night on the Daily Show and Colbert Report, I’m slightly worried that Hillary is going to drive us all off a cliff by running as an independent. Her campaign, however, has stated that she will “suspend her presidential bid within days,” so it’s probably nothing to worry about. But the fact that she hasn’t done it yet, well, worries me. Her campaign has been a lost cause for a couple of months now.

    Oh, and Haelfix, you might want to check your angles there. Being 360 degrees from current business and academic thinking would put Obama right in line with current business and academic thinking.

  • Kurt

    Tarun- OMG I can not believe you bringing up the race issue.
    this is EXACTLY why democrat Obama is going to lose this november. because of foolish dems people like you who call other dems racist for not supporting obama. this shows how divided the party is. it is a bad sign when dems are calling other dems racist!
    just because i do not like obama does not make me a racist.

    now let’s see what ACTUALLY happened.
    bill clinton referred called obama’s opposition and policy on iraq a “fairytale”
    hillary made a comment about pragmatism and idealism. something about how it was lyndon johnson worked with congress to get the civil rights movement passed.
    what did the obama campaign do? they melded those completely different things and played the race card on bill and hillary. how can anyone for one single second even think that bill and hillary who have done SO much for the african american community are racist. gimme a bloody break!!!
    there is DOCUMENTED proof of this. tim russert called BS on obama and held up 4 pages of documents from the obama campaign that showed they pushed the issue and created a controversy that was not there at a debate.

    obama does have trouble with white blue collar workers in appalachia. what’s your point?

    what do you expect when obama said rural voters “cling to guns and religion”
    what do you expect when obama calls his grandma “a typical white person”
    you know those that cross the street when she saw a group of black men.
    are you a typical white person?
    who has a lock on the AA vote by 9-1. him i wonder why that could be???
    bill and hillary have done more for the AA community at large than obama ever will.

    if you really cared about putting a democrat in the WH you shouldve picked Hillary she would have crushed McCain easily!!!!!!!
    now you picked obama and we have a REAL hard long battle on our hands.
    i think he will lose.

  • Elliot


    Can you quantify the post surge success? Are we spending considerably less per month on this than we were before the surge? Or is the number of U. S. servicemen killed the only metric?

    To my mind the cold reality is that this war should never have been fought and I can only hope those responsible will someday be bought to justice. Unlikely to happen in the U.S. but an international court is always an option.


  • Puppeteer

    I thought this was a science/astronomy/cosmology feed, not politics.

  • Slide2112

    The democratic primaries have been fun to watch. Has shown that liberals are racist, sexists and partisan to the point of being Anti-American. I don’t think they all are anit-American mind you, but the reach for power has made them step over the line on a number of occasions. It is one then to say the war was wrong, it is another to work for defeat.

    Obama gives a nice speech but he is an empty suite. He ain’t gonna make it.

  • sn

    The speech makes the man. Decent policies, authenticity, confidence to lead – Obama looks like a great leader to me from a across the pond.

    The rest are micromanagement that nobody knows about until the candidate is in the oval office. Are accusations of racism and half the other assortment of issues discussed on this thread anything more than campaign-related irrelevant details? Extraordinary accusations are irrelevant when both candidates are pretty decent. Here on the other hand, its only about overall coherence of policies and perhaps more importantly, the man!

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B.

    This is historic and I’m proud of the USA and the Democratic party that we have come to nominating a black man (and almost a woman) for President. Now, Obama is wondering who to pick for VP. I agree with those who say he can do something really spectacular to bring change and reform with this: cut through centuries of partisanship and conventionality by picking a member of the opposite party to be his Veep. Chuck Hagel (R – NE) is the likely top pick in that category. (REM Kerry thinking of asking McCain? Did McCain ever clear up if that was even on the table, not that he can afford to admit it now?) We’d pick up more votes from fascinated and charmed Republicans than we’d ever lose from the few put-off Democrats and those figuring it was pandering. And the effect wouldn’t be just in the USA: the World is already impressed with our having nominated a black man and almost nominated a woman, they would also be impressed with a cross-partisan ticket.

    BTW, to allay some fears about Hagel: I suppose Obama would expect him to drop formal membership “as a Republican” and declare as an independent. He’d need to agree also not to run for President “as a Republican” in the future. Weird as it is, disturbing as is the risks are to many Democrats, think of the buzz factor for getting elected and the way it would change politics!

  • Elliot


    Given the fact that GWB and Ronald Reagan rank as the worst fiscal conservatives in the history of America, I think that traditional labels and party affiliation may go by the wayside of getting to the core issues of restoring America’s image in the world, restoring fiscal sanity to the federal budget, and restoring the American dream for working class Americans.

    I think Hagel would be a very interesting choice.


  • Kurt

    “This is historic and I’m proud of the USA and the Democratic party that we have come to nominating a black man (and almost a woman) for President.”

    This is true. It is a historic moment.
    But it is very very bittersweet moment too.
    He lost the popular vote, lost the last 5/8 primaries (even south dakota), and the superdelegates handed him the nomination. He couldn’t win the majority of swing states and the traditional democratic states.
    The SD’s could’ve chosen him back in january and saved us all the wasted time, money and heartache.
    Obama will not pick a republican. are you serious about this? It is a pipe dream.
    There is NO REAL CHANGE ahead people. wake up! his campaign is not about issues. it is about rhetoric. issues are periphery.

    We are taking about a guy who has created a extreme left wing monster that he can’t control. There is no way senior Obama officials will ever advise him to pick a republican even Chuck Hagel. Hillary would have been MUCH more likely to pick a republican ( or at least a moderate democrat like evan bayh) as VP as she clearly stated in an interview on CNBC in march.

    If Obama is such a uniter let him first unite the democrats. If he can’t do that how can he unite the country?

  • Haelfix

    180 eesh (I plead alcoholism).

    Whether we should or should not have gone into Iraq in the first place is, afaics, irrelevant to what policy we should conduct in the present and future.

    I’m of the mind, ‘we broke it, we fix it’ and since the Surge has had some success (by this I mean both civilian, military and police casualties lessened, as well as overall less chaos) it does hint at the very least of a possibility that there is a nice endgame in all of this. Whereas just leaving now, likely plunges the state back into the abyss and ten years from now we will probably be back as part of some UN peacekeeping team or somesuch. Better to just finish what we erroneously started.

  • http://doctorpion.blogspot.com/ CCPhysicist

    You have to love McCain blaming Bush for policies that impede technical innovation and progress in the US economy. [Since the market dropped 100 more points after Bush spoke this afternoon on the economy, he might have a point.] Where was McCain four years ago?

    But I think the poster’s point is that listening to the voice of aging preppie John Simpson McCain III for the next four years would put the US to sleep, reducing the productivity of our economy and making us more vulnerable to attack.

    PS – Haelfix has bought the spin. The Surge was not intended to do any of the things listed, it was supposed to get the Iraqi government to make the changes needed to resolve critical internecine political problems so we don’t have to commit our entire current military force to that single problem for the next 50 years. Further, no one in this race is arguing that we should “just leave now”, although the Bush administration did, in fact, have some troops “just leave” in the last month or so.

  • Haelfix

    Factually incorrect CCP. The Surge had 20 stated objectives, only a few of which involve the Iraqi government perse.


    Many of these objectives have been satisfactorily met starting in june 2007, and culminating in the Petraeus report in september 2007 where you had over half of them fulfilled. Otoh yes we still need Iraqi government reforms, no one doubts that which is why ‘pulling out starting within three months’ is probably gambling with fire.

    You know.. I find it incredible the lengths which partisanship has warped this whole thing upside down. Nation building strikes me as a very ‘Democrat’ sort of philosophy, whereas naively I would have thought ‘cut your losses and pull out b/c its too expensive and not our business or in our interest’ the sort of rhetoric I might have heard from protectionist rightist types.

    Anyway.. im done talking about politics on a science forum =/

  • Count Iblis

    I agree with CCPhysicist.

    I don’t see what can be achieved by a longer US presence in Iraq. The fringe groups in Iraq that do not have any support at all like Al Qa’ida in Iraq have been eliminated and now one has to deal with organizations that have a lot of public support like the Mahdi Army.

    Because of the popular support these groups have, the Iraqi government can’t easily go after them themselves. With the help of the US army these groups can be curtailed, but the supporters then don’t accept the legitimacy of that.

    This is extremely dangerous. Iraq can only fail as a democratic state if large groups of people in Iraq find their system illegitimate. That was never going to happen by going after Al Qa’ida. If there were no foreign presense in Iraq, then the power of the government is much more limited and compromizes have to be made.

    The US presense allows the Iraqi government to implement unpopular laws for parts of the population. Some of these laws will be implemented because of US pressure. Tensions can grow and then if the US withdraws, Iraq will explode in violence.

    Take e.g. the deal reached by the Lebanese government and Hezbollah. The US, of course, doesn’t like this deal. But Lebanon is not under US occupation, so the weak Lebanese governement had to make that deal to avoid civil war.

    If the US had been occupying Lebanon, then the US military would have gone after Hezbollah. No deal would have been made. But then the underlying tension would still be there (Hezbollah has a few hundred thousand supporters), it would just be suppressed to the point where someone can say: “See, the Surge has worked, we have less roadside bombs now”. But at the same time: “We cannot withdraw now because then all that has been achieved will be lost.”

  • chris


    the very thought of occupying a country, forming it according to your ideals and then expecting to be loved for having done so by the local population is just so … infantile. i can’t believe it.

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com Lab Lemming

    If you want to join team McCain, we’d love to have you on board. After all, our candidate has been seeking bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems since long before either democratic candidate was elected to office. More importantly, if enough disgruntled democrats and independents come aboard, then we can win even if the religious rights decides to stay home this election. And marginalizing them from mainstream politics would be far more important to the long term health of the country than the color of the white house for the next four years.

  • http://lorinc.blog.sme.sk Ruziklan

    The last word used, “stark”, have indeed prompted the memory of George Stark, the bad hero of the Stephen King’s fiction The Dark Half (http://www.horrorking.com/darkhalf.html). His characteristics from novel: “George Stark is not a very nice guy”. Hm?


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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