Friday, October 22, 2010

Boxer K.O.'s Fiorina

Today was the much anticipated senatorial debate between incumbent Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. Unlike the mild-mannered gubernatorial debates of two days ago, the heat turned up between both of these candidates as they discussed hot topics both at home and abroad.

Right from the get go, Boxer and Fiorina butted heads in disagreement about the economy. They first discussed the necessity of the nearly $800 million stimulus package passed last year and were posed the question if they would support the passage of a second stimulus plan. Senator Boxer viewed the first one as extremely beneficial and asserted that it stopped our economic decline. She supports a second stimulus to help boost our economy and also emphasized that she wishes to create more jobs to stabilize our economy for the long run. Fiorina stated that the first stimulus was "somewhat necessary" and that "a second one is pushing it", reasoning that doing so is "giving welfare to business". She highlighted the need for tax cuts, especially elimination of the death tax. I disagree with the estate tax as well, but the way Ms. Fiorina harped on and on about it was a tad unnecessary in my opinion. What's really important right now is the creation of jobs, just as Ms. Boxer repeated time and time again in her speeches.

Boxer pointed out that Fiorina cut thousands upon thousands of jobs and shipped them overseas as CEO of HP, which I still find absolutely detestable, coupled with the fact that she tripled her own salary as Californians were losing jobs. Fiorina rebutted by bringing up the 1992 House banking scandal, which, of course, is an event that our young high school audience could most definitely relate to. After Rubbergate, as it was called, Senator Boxer did admit that she didn't pay enough attention to her House bank account, which I am not saying is excusable, but it is still admirable of her to admit her mistake, considering the politicians that have tried to worm their way out of scandals. From acquaintances I have that worked at HP, I have been told that when Fiorina was fired in 2005, employees literally danced in the aisles and sang, "Ding dong, the witch is dead!"

Regarding the Bush tax cuts, Boxer said that they were "unfairly given out" and that tax cuts should not be given to the well off, but to those that actually need them. Fiorina argued that small businesses are benefited by tax cuts and that her main concern was creating a safe economic environment for America again, with less regulations. The U.S. deficit is only growing larger and larger, even as you read these words. This frightening debt clock is very eye-opening and more than enough to spur anyone to action. Barbara Boxer was very honest and recognized that it is not the most pleasant state to be in, but it is a "necessary evil". She explained that "things must be spent in order to be gained", which is so true. We can't expect to just magically fix all our problems without sacrificing something. She did acknowledge that it was going to be a "slow and painful" process but reassured doubters that "the plans we make today will benefit us in the future".

It was in Fiorina's rebuttal where she made a sharp jab at Boxer (as well as the Democratic Party as a whole) that she disregarded the question at hand and simply stated that the process has been slow and painful because Boxer is in office. She referred to the Democrat Party's slogan, "Change that matters", and asked "what does it matter" if there is no change happening, accusing Boxer of neither fighting for California nor change. I personally disliked Ms. Fiorina's rebuttal, as it had no substance behind it and was nothing more than groundless words with no examples to support her. It also showed her knowledge of her opponent when she mentioned that Boxer has been in office for eight long years, when in fact the senator has been in office for twenty-eight. Ms. Boxer took the blow quite elegantly, firing back that she had not been elected off a whim, and unlike Fiorina, she was not shipping off jobs and livelihoods to other places. Barbara Boxer is actually working to create jobs at home to help us get back on the right track.

After an extensive discussion on the American economy, the questions moved on to same-sex marriage. Fiorina opened the topic by affirming that she personally believes that that marriage is between a man and a woman and that she believes in civil unions with "equal rights", assuring us that they will not "discriminate", when in actuality the fact that she supports giving the union between two males or two females a entirely different name when they are just in love as any heterosexual couple is absolutely ridiculous and completely unequal and discriminatory. Boxer came back with a strong rebuttal to Fiorina's remark that marriage is "commonly known as" a union between a male and female by turning the idea on its head and asking "should we keep it the same" and keep the status quo? In the past, women were massively inferior to men, and blacks were slaves, but we still do not keep up with this tradition today. She ended her rebuttal with oft quoted phrase from the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal", firmly stating that all Americans, regardless of orientation should be treated "equal, fair, and the same", which I wholeheartedly agree with. Fiorina feebly struck back, once again reassuring the audience that a civil union is "similar" with the "same rights", remarking that it isn't "much more different".

Ms. Fiorina, let me just say that there are over 1,000 different benefits that the United States provides for couples in heterosexual marriages that you take for granted and are not necessarily ensured in civil unions. Some of these include domestic violence protection, sick leave to take care of your partner, assumption of your spouse's pension, veterans' discounts, social security survivor benefits, insurance breaks, and tax breaks.

This is my personal stance on gay marriage. As Senator Boxer said, all men and women are created equal, under the Declaration of Independence. Regardless of whether you are homosexual, bisexual, or any other orientation, you are still a person and thus you deserve the same rights as a heterosexual. Homosexuals are not a different species of animal or something; they're people, too. If we're all the same on the inside, shouldn't we all have the same rights as well? I personally define marriage as a union between two people, contractual and under the law. Does love change just because two people are the same gender and want to be together?

Boxer ended the discussion by commenting that Fiorina's stance reminded her of the days of Plessy v. Ferguson, when segregation was legal as long as facilities were "separate but equal". She pointed out that civil unions and marriages were two different things that were most definitely not the same. Separating how homosexuals may marry in an entirely different process but claiming that it is equal to a heterosexual marriage is just wrong and discriminatory. She finished strong and asserted that if we're all equal regardless of who we love, "call it a marriage", which prompted fervent applause from the audience.

From there, we moved on to the topic of immigration. Boxer started off with the fact that the United States is a country of immigrants and that "no one can say they're strictly American" (except for Native Americans). This belief has held true ever since the early days of our founding fathers, as immigrants are an important contribution to our society. She also raised the point that the money that it costs to deport immigrants is more than the funds necessary to keep them here. Fiorina stated that our "trust in government" has been "eroded" by current policy, as immigrants are taking jobs and not paying taxes. She acknowledged that workers do contribute to the economy but that more technology should be used to strengthen our borders. Fiorina reaffirmed her support of a visa program and temporary work program, where they would get paid and licensed, and then leave. She ended by saying that she didn't want to deny anyone the American Dream, but the way in which she talked about immigrants coming to get money and then leaving to go back to their home country doesn't exactly sound like the American Dream to me. I envision it to be a fresh start where everyone has the chance to move up social classes and improve their life overall, working in America to pursue one's greatest dreams.

When Fiorina confirmed her support of the Arizona immigration law, I had to hold back a snort. The fact that immigrants are required to their registration documents at all times is one thing, but the fact that police must question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the U.S. illegally is the part of the legislation that concerns me. I am positive that the law will foster racial profiling, as most police officers don't have enough training to look past race while investigating a person's legal status. Any Latino exhibiting dubious behavior might be stopped by a police officer for the suspicion of immigrating illegally from Mexico even though they may be perfectly legal American citizens.

Senator Boxer agreed with Fiorina's proposition of a temporary work and visa program and said that it was "a step in the right direction" but also pointed out that the solution was "not permanent" and "almost too tempting", which I agree with. If you allow people the move here to work temporarily and then ship them back to where they came from, it's like teasing them and giving them only a taste of the life that they could have. There will probably be a number of them that are tempted to cross the border again. Fiorina replied by saying that if the paperwork is done, and they apply for a green card, then it's perfectly fine. Boxer proposed a more permanent solution by advocating a revision of the "very difficult and strenuous" application process for citizenship.

From there, we moved on to the War on Terror. Boxer expressed her desire to withdraw our troops and "reduce our presence" at the best possible time, perhaps after the next Iraqi election. She defined us as "facilitators", not "occupiers" and emphasized that we need to "clearly articulate an exit strategy", as "we don't have a right to be there". Fiorina rebutted and said that while she agreed that troops need to be withdrawn, our presence in Iraq is "not necessarily a bad thing". She added that the world knows us for our "military presence" and that it is up to Iraq to decide when they do not need us anymore, as we are being used as a security force. Senator Boxer disagreed and remarked that leaving it up to the Iraqi people was not the way to go while adding that we are always defending other nations. "We cannot always be the crutch," she said, which is quite true. We cannot hold the hand of other nations and lead them along forever. Fiorina had mentioned that we are known as a "world policing force" of sorts and Boxer simply asked "Why? Why do we meddle?"

It was here that Fiorina took another uncalled for jab at Boxer, calling her "narrow-minded", for reasons I'm not entirely sure. While I will not mention Fiorina's previous bigoted remarks about same-sex marriage (oops, did I just say that?), I do not think that Senator Boxer is at all being narrow-minded about the situation in Iraq. If she was, she would be insisting that all troops must be withdrawn right now because we shouldn't be there and any other solution is completely wrong. Ms. Boxer has analyzed the situation and decided that our time in Iraq is coming to an end, so we should start pulling out as we see fit. It's not as if she did not consider the advantages and disadvantages of both sides.

China, in recent years, has been flourishing in its economy and is ranked second in the world behind the United States. Ms. Boxer reiterated her belief from previous discussion on the economy that the United States needs to focus at home and new jobs need to be created in California. Fiorina, on the other hand, asserted that China is the leading economic power in the world and that we should follow their example. (As expected from someone who shipped thousands of jobs there...) She parroted Boxer and said that we need to focus on jobs but also added that regulations are too strict and that we need to create a favorable business climate. Senator Boxer agreed with Fiorina and also expressed her desire to punish businesses that ship jobs overseas and give incentives to those that keep jobs here and "keep American money here".

The debate ended on a fairly civil note with the issue of nuclear power in Iran. The two candidates simply threw the ball back and forth, agreeing that such power in the hands of Iran is dangerous. Fiorina said that negotiation has not been making progress and that Iran has been defying international protocol, so we must take a "staunch stance" and "pressure [Iran] diplomatically and internationally". Boxer emphasized the need for sanctions on Iran to "better protect ourselves" and affirmed that the United States backs the actions of the United Nations regarding nuclear proliferation. She also proposed legislation be passed to punish companies that are benefiting from helping Iran with the expansion of nuclear energy. And I will just add that while Boxer was working to extend sanctions on the nation, Fiorina was presiding as CEO of a company that was using intermediary shell companies to bypass laws preventing sales to Iran.

There are many that support Carly Fiorina to be the next California senator; Karl Rove and Sarah Palin are just two of those many. I, however, do not. As Republican House representative Tom Campbell said, "California voters are not buying that a failed CEO can be an effective U.S. Senator." I don't buy into it at all. Even Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Chuck DeVore does not think Fiorina would be a good senator, considering that she has been "silent on all of California's major political battles of the past decade". He has also said that "Fiorina will do what she always does: deny knowledge despite having been a famously micromanaging and bottom-line-oriented CEO. Now that she aspires to Constitutional high office, she owes Californians -- and herself -- something more. It's the one thing we have yet to see when she addresses her rocky and increasingly questionable corporate past: honesty." As The Economist commented earlier this year, "her grasp of governance issues is superficial".

All in all, it was a brilliant debate that showed where each candidate stood on the issues. I feel that it definitely showed that Carly Fiorina is not the right choice for California. Boxer dominated each topic with clear rhetoric and decisive solutions and came out the obvious winner in this ring fight.

Boxer 1, Fiorina 0.

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