Six Degrees of Speculation: July 2008: Archives
What is it with these holier than thou theocrats and breaking the rules...and the law? Does an education at Pat Robertson's Regent University include a course called "Crime and the Christian - The Ten Commandments of Theocracy Building"?
Not only did the Bush administration fast track the barely thirty year old Monica Goodling to one of the most powerful positions in the Justice Department, it gave a total of 150 appointments to graduates from the same Regent University. Then again, if one seeks to remake government into a God and GOP lovin' theocracy, the more the merrier, eh?
From The Washington Post:
Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general's report released today.
Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said.
Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs: "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" the report said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on abortion, according to the report.
Taking political or personal factors into account in employment decisions for career positions violates civil service laws and can run afoul of ethics rules. Investigators said today that both Goodling and Sampson had engaged in "misconduct."
The Justice Department IG's report, released this morning, cites several other workers who may have engaged in misconduct by using political or sexual orientation to screen candidates for immigration judgeships.
OK, it's time to rant. Frankly, this is exactly the kind of behavior I would expect from those who are awash in religious ideology and absolutist dogma. Cloaked in their inviolable righteousness, there is little these individuals see as off-limits in the pursuit of their messianic mission.
These zealots are the product of incessant indoctrination who have been encouraged to operate mindlessly, absent a modicum of restraint or reservation. They are taught to be soldiers of God in the likes of Jesus Camps...convinced that they should stop at nothing less than a full-scale institutional transformation to the tenets of Christian teachings.
In my opinion, those groups that are promoting this blind allegiance are the virtual equivalent of cults. They have been able to avoid that characterization because of the prevalence of so many like-minded individuals...but that does nothing to abate the countless similarities. It is extremism no matter the permutations employed to describe or defend it.
Like Pat Robertson, some of these individuals have no hesitation to apply Biblically inspired judgments to the random events of daily life...indicting those they disagree with and glorifying those who share in their shamanic superstitions. This fanciful obsession with their own self-centered ideations has become the prototype for a political pathology that must be excised and extinguished if we are to maintain any semblance of separation of church and state.
If these people want a Christian kingdom, they will need to construct it outside the gates of government. Further, if they continue to usurp established law in order to achieve their divine domain here on earth, I suspect that they will eventually find that the gates of heaven they gleefully glorify have been locked...with a sign attached that states..."Christianists need not apply, admission is reserved for those who lived a Christian life; not those who appointed themselves as Christ's earthly executioners."
Tagged as: Bible, Christianity, D. Kyle Sampson, Discrimination, George W. Bush, GOP, Justice Department, Monica Goodling, Pat Robertson, Regent University, Religion, Theocracy
Daniel DiRito | July 28, 2008 | 12:33 PM |
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There is a perception that Barack Obama exudes a degree of hubris that may be viewed negatively by a number of voters. The unasked question is whether this impression has its origin in the fact that Barack Obama is actually an over confident candidate or simply a candidate who exceeds the standing or status many voters feel comfortable attaching to a black man. In other words, isn't it possible that a number of white voters have a problem with accepting an intelligent and competent black man as their equal...let alone as their next president?
Part of the problem with America's struggle with race centers on the fact that the issue may have become an unspoken prejudice long before it ceased to exist. Specifically, I think it's plausible to argue that the success of the civil rights era may have inadvertently been to stifle overt displays of racism rather than extinguish the underlying prejudices that motivate acts of intolerance and discrimination.
Take a look at what is happening with the polling on the 2008 election.
From The Chicago Daily Observer:
Obama continues to run substantially worse than the hypothetical generic Democrat, meaning the public has not yet fully made up its mind about him.
Which is to say that if the candidate were, say, John Edwards or any such substantial white guy it would, for all practical purposes, be over right now.
I warned earlier that all polling to date must be taken with large doses of salt, but one pattern has been fairly consistent: Obama's lead has ranged from roughly 4 to 8 points while the generic Democratic vote this time around ranges from 10 to 12.
There are other readily explainable reasons why Obama runs behind the generic Democrat: His exotic background--African father, Indonesian schooling, oddball middle-name and so forth also come into play.
Which gets us down to the real, still largely unspoken question of race.
There are still loads and loads of Democrats and independents who are unlikely to vote for him because of what still remains what Gunnar Myrdal called the American dilemma.
That is the real referendum on Obama.
More importantly, it's a referendum on us.
As such, I'm suggesting that the nature of racism has merely evolved and the 2008 election is our first foray into unearthing the essence of its transformation. I would equate it with the construct of passive aggressive behavior. It's akin to the teenager who is jealous of the academic success of a rival student. Rather than address the issue (animosity) head on, one student attacks the physical appearance of the rival student or promotes the perception that the other student's success comes from being a brown nosing goody two shoes. I suspect many Americans are predisposed to expressing their racial animosities accordingly.
Let me offer another example to make my point. As a gay man, I'm keenly aware of those individuals who describe the visibility of gays as an "in your face" effort to force society to acknowledge or accept homosexuality. Simply stated, the message imparted by this rhetoric is meant to remind gays of their status and their position as lesser members of society who should be grateful that they are allowed to exist...so long as they continue to refrain from outward displays of pride (hubris).
In fact, the evolution of gay rights and the assimilation of homosexuals into society mirrors the process whereby outward demonstrations of racism became unacceptable and the laws that institutionalized it were removed. Regardless, the deep seated sources of racism have yet to be extinguished...just as will be the case with homophobia as gays achieve equal status. In the end, while legislative equality may prohibit certain acts of racism or homophobia, it can rarely remove the ingrained bias that can still be expressed without recourse.
In the following videos, The Daily Show uses humor to uncover and expose elements of this very phenomenon. Though the state often acts appropriately to correct institutional injustice, elections remind us that the state is woefully unable to halt the long standing bias that is frequently exhibited in the ballot box. While our judicial structure makes it increasingly difficult to legislate bias once it's been identified and purged, democracy, by its nature, can do little to extinguish it in the individual.
The 2008 election will have a winner and a loser based upon the votes of the people...and history will undoubtedly record it as a valid democratic election. As is often the case, history will also note the validity found in the commentary and cultural observations of the time...which will include satirical programs like The Daily Show that sought to highlight the bias that democracy is unable to expunge from the individual.
In the end, the objective of an enlightened society ought be to endeavor to mitigate the lingering bias of the individual at the same time that it prohibits its legislative imposition by the state. Only then will our elections actually be about the issues and not about the skin color, the sexual orientation, or the gender of the candidate.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democracy, Florida, Hillary Clinton, Homophobia, Jewish Vote, Jon Stewart, Larry Wilmore, LGBT, Race, Racism, The Daily Show, Wyatt Cenac
Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2008 | 10:14 AM |
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Heaven help us! PBS is going to air a documentary, The Bible's Buried Secrets, which explores the factuality of the Bible...and Donald "Wingnut" Wildmon's American Family Association has already launched an action alert. The AFA is asking its supporters to sign a petition urging congress to halt all government funding of PBS. You can view the alert here.
From The Orlando Sentinel:
The Bible's Buried Secrets, a new PBS documentary, is likely to cause a furor.
"It challenges the Bible's stories if you want to read them literally, and that will disturb many people," says archaeologist William Dever, who specializes in Israel's history. "But it explains how and why these stories ever came to be told in the first place, and how and why they were written down."
The Nova program will premiere Nov. 18. PBS presented a clip and a panel discussion at the summer tour of the Television Critics Association.
The program says the Bible was written in the sixth century BC and that hundreds of authors contributed.
"At least the first five books of the Bible come together during the Babylonian exile," says producer Gary Glassman.
The program challenges long-held beliefs. Abraham, Sarah and their offspring probably didn't exist, says Carol Meyers, a religion professor at Duke University.
"These stories are unlikely to represent real historical events, but rather there's some kernel of ancient experience in there which has survived and which helps give identity to the people at the time the Bible finally took shape centuries and centuries later," Meyers says.
OK, so I understand that some believers won't like what the PBS program has to say and I can even understand that they would rather not be presented with any evidence that might shake their faith. However, I've always understood that true faith should be able to withstand challenge. Hence, is the effort to shut down funding to PBS a demonstration of faith or evidence of its precarious hold upon those who embrace it?
Frankly, the effort to punish PBS is another in a long string of attempts to purge rational and reasoned dialogue while granting deference to ideological intransigence. These are the same people who insist that creationism be taught in science classes because the theory of evolution lacks the certainty they demand. In other words, they believe intelligent design warrants a place in science, but any single attempt to put the Bible into historical and sociological context elicits an instantaneous effort to end to all government sponsorship of PBS.
Mind you, in the case of the former, we operate under the edict of separation of church and state...while in the case of the latter, there are no such restrictions. On the one hand, the religious right wants the government to accommodate untestable speculation (in a science course, no less), and on the other, they want the government to cease funding any researched examination of Biblical history...the very basis of their demand for the former.
Of course, the spin that will come from the right is that the government is funding the ongoing assault upon people of faith (they are being victimized). It's a clever strategy for a group that routinely seeks to vilify those it opposes. Then again, it fits perfectly with the self-righteous certainty that they've adopted. SImply stated, if one believes one can never be wrong, one is therefore never wrong. Consequently, only when all others adopt one's beliefs, adhere to them accordingly, and are prohibited from dissenting, will the world be acceptable and will one's mission have been accomplished. Science, history, and facts be damned.
Such is the nature of fanaticism and religious intransigence. There will be no good order until the only order that is good is the one they dictate. When democracy furthers their agenda, democracy is idyllic; when democracy conflicts with their agenda, it is an insidious interloper between man and the laws set forth by God.
Take a look at how Wildmon actually views the culture war.
From Religion Dispatches:
The "culture wars" will be irrevocably lost, said Wildmon, if Proposition 8 (the "California Marriage Protection Act" which states that "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California") loses on November 4.
"If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I'm afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost," said Wildmon, "I've never said that publicly until now--but that's just the reality of the fact."
Wildmon pointed out that If the "homosexuals" were "able to defeat the marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, then the culture war is over and we've lost--and gradually, secularism will replace Christianity as the foundation of our society."
There's a perception that American patriotism, democracy, and religiosity are innately linked. I suspect that if the American electorate comes down on the side of cultural secularism (e.g. gay marriage), the patriotism of many religious ideologues will be shown to have been conditional.
If one were to project the trajectory of men like AFA's Donald Wildmon and the dogma they espouse, it will likely be he and his followers who abandon their paradoxical patriotism, in favor of their inviolable ideology, should democracy fail to install and impose it. In the end, I believe it will be those they sought to subjugate who will continue to fight to uphold the constitutional integrity upon which this nation was built. When push comes to shove, the true patriots have always been those citizens who cherished the ideals of this nation...even when the will of the people precluded them from partaking in them.
Should there be any doubt as to the tenuous loyalty to country I'm suggesting may exist, one need look no further than the recent assault upon the judiciary. I contend that those who have embraced the meme of "judicial activism" are the same individuals who benefited from the past inaction of the judiciary and simultaneously used it as the righteous means to restrict and restrain others. American history is littered with persecution and injustice...but very little of it has ever been directed at men of Donald Wildmon's ilk.
What we're beginning to witness is the unraveling of the status quo and the fruits of a revolution born of a commitment to rational and reasoned thought...a movement that maintained its respect for the system while quietly working to transform it. I don't expect my Christian counterparts will be willing to demonstrate the same discipline that my gay brethren have exhibited in the face of having their expressions of love characterized as criminal and their identities classified as mental illness. To call Christians victims is to denigrate the ongoing commitment to a civil society of those who would have been arguably justified to rebel against it.
I wouldn't count on the Donald Wildmon's of the world acting accordingly. As a matter of fact, I fear that history has shown us, time and again, that an allegiance to an almighty is, ironically, the very antithesis of both rationality and reason. As such, it can easily become the quintessential mechanism for mayhem. Heaven help us!
Tagged as: AFA, American Family Association, Bible, Donald Wildmon, Evangelicals, History, LGBT, Literalism, PBS, Religion, Religious Right, Science
Daniel DiRito | July 22, 2008 | 1:36 PM |
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In the following video, Dan Dennett discusses the power of ideas (memes) to hijack evolutionary rules and therefore the individual. When this happens, depending upon the idea, society and the individual can become the virtual victim of a parasite that promotes actions that are actually contrary to our genetic fitness. While the concept seems complex on its surface, Dennett does an excellent job of communicating the premise that ideas (memes) can be toxic and detrimental.
Dennett offers some examples to demonstrate this phenomenon. He actually uses the term infectious repetititis to describe the process by which ideas can become dangerous (viral if you will). Knowing as much, he moves forward to suggest that the antidote to toxic memes is a commitment to knowledge and rational thought designed to explore the factual merits of an idea...absent a preconceived bias (morally neutral). Hence, it becomes the responsibility of society to propagate good ideas and extinguish (refute) those that aren't.
I find the topic fascinating. Dennett, an adept communicator, is actually little more than a student of human nature who is committed to the expanded application of the scientific method. In other words, passion has its place...but it ought to be tested prior to its widespread distribution.
I've included a second video which I believe offers additional insight into the replication of ideas and the impact they can have on societies. The video basically traces the influences of the various religions, over time, and how their spread impacted the individual and the society. In the ebb and flow of these religions, people were persecuted and killed, customs were extinguished, and dissent by the individual was frequently prohibited. I think this second video does an excellent job of exemplifying and amplifying Dennett's observations and the concerns he brings forward.
Tagged as: Dan Dennett, Evolution, Genetics, Human Nature, Intransigence, Islam, Memes, Religion, Science, Scientific Method
Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2008 | 9:10 AM |
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When in the course of human events is truth self-evident? Or is truth a declaration independent of our capacity to recognize it? Is there a point at which the collective truth of yesterday is no longer sufficient to hold together that which seemed to be a more perfect union? Are such questions, cut from the fabric of our foundation, the tools needed to retrieve Major Tom from his solitary perch in space...or are the answers to such questions the reason he's convinced he can never return? Are we on the precipice of reentry or have we begun the final countdown?
How is it that the intersection of the Declaration of Independence and Major Tom, a Peter Schilling song from the 80's can capture my impressions regarding the state of affairs in American politics? Well, it's rather simple. The former has always represented the ideals which grounded this nation and functioned to form the fundamental bonds which made us citizens in a society steeped in shared purpose. The latter describes the isolation and alienation we've allowed to jettison us, one from the other, into independent orbits, absent the willingness to reconnect...floating weightless, drifting, falling.
Understanding the journey may be the only means of finding our way home. Strange as it may sound, the path we're currently traveling begins with death, a virtual reversal of the expected cycles. Such as it is, perhaps this is what makes our actions to preserve life as we once knew it so stifling and contrary to the spirit from which it took flight. Hence the unencumbered life we once lived seems to have died and fallen to ground on 9/11...and the death we now fear has become the constrictive cornerstone of the lives we now live...with our withered wings clipped and tethered to ground.
The weight of 9/11 may well be that which will forever separate us from the freedoms we once knew. Many believe that the passage of the FISA bill will undoubtedly serve that purpose...and they view it as a virtual death knell to the intentions enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the remainder of our founding documents.
Like Major Tom, many find themselves disconnected and adrift...mindful of the inspiration that spawned a great nation...mournful that FISA, in its attempt to preserve life, may actually kill the inspiration that made this way of life worth living. Therefore, the anxiety exhibited is clearly a response to the intangible shadow FISA will cast...obscuring the vision of this and future generations...modifying the meaning and the measurement of our unbridled freedoms...substituting the avoidance of death for the long standing construct of preserving our freedoms...even when doing so may have come at the expense of lives lost.
Truth be told, only a few of us will ever find ourselves visible victims of FISA's probes and pursuits. For some, the mere knowledge of its existence is enough to consider the prospect of bidding farewell...metaphorically...to the essence of our collective identity. For others, the cost is negligible and they view the assurances of safety and security that accompany FISA to be a reasonable means to preserve life...physically.
Both points of view contain truths that are self-evident. Both are premised upon the recognition of value. Unfortunately, at this juncture in our journey, the measurements of value have become the points of departure...and our shared truths have become seemingly insufficient to hold us together. Those in favor of FISA believe their truth is essential to the preservation of a more perfect union. Those opposed to FISA view anything that tramples foundational principles to have precluded the possibility of a perfect union.
In the end, it becomes a question of the degree to which one sees life as an ethereal endeavor (FISA opponents) or whether one sees its essence as nothing more than the acts necessary to extend its duration (FISA proponents). In this comparison, irony emerges.
The former, idealists though they may be, are apt to be those who deny the existence of an afterlife. The latter, pragmatists in many ways, are more likely to envision an afterlife as an important adjunct to their identity. The former, quick to discount the notion of the rapture or the end of days, view FISA as the initiation of the journey towards the destruction of their homeland. The latter, Biblically instructed to be ever mindful of the signs of the coming end, view FISA as the means to preserve the homeland while they wait to gain entry into the ultimate kingdom.
So who is Major Tom? It's hard to say. Where is he going? I believe he's going home. Where is that home? It's rather difficult to determine. What is the nature and substance of home? Such is the quintessential dilemma we face.
Will we remain grounded in the principles of the Declaration of Independence or will we secede the controls to the likes of Orwell's Ministry of Truth? Is the countdown on...or is what counts gone? There's no reply.
Tagged as: 9/11, Death, Declaration of Independence, Dying, End of Days, FISA, Freedom, Major Tom, Peter Schilling, Politics, Rapture, Religion
Daniel DiRito | July 10, 2008 | 1:43 PM |
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When it's all said and done, very little in life changes...and the changes that are made are often painfully slow. All too often we get lost in our efforts to change (direct) others when what we really need to do is change (redirect) ourselves. This years election, more so than any in recent history, seems to be about change.
Unfortunately, prior to each election cycle, optimistic pundits suggest that the voting public has lost it's hunger for the typically tried and true red meat issues. These serendipitous proclamations suggest a new civility and a changing construct may be dawning. Unfortunately, as each election draws nearer, the painful reality of recidivism seems to rear its ugly head.
I've come to expect the worst and I rarely find myself pleasantly surprised by a better outcome. Returning to elections, in many ways, we've grown conditioned to the typical framing of the issues. We've also come to accept that voters will invariably fall into their logical constituent blocks by the time they reach the ballot box. The question is why?
This morning, as I read about the intention of the Christian Defense Coalition to launch their first salvo against Barack Obama...determined to characterize him as "The Abortion President" (see image to the right), I recalled the thoughts that crossed my mind last evening as I watched the acclaimed German movie, The Lives Of Others, wishing more of us had the wherewithal to make the heroic choices that are frequently facilitated by adversity...choices for change that are almost always daring displays of individual courage. Following a brief synopsis of the movie, I'll attempt to connect the dots.
Read a statement below from Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition:
"Senator Obama talks about bringing hope, faith and change to American politics. We now see this is all just political 'doublespeak.' One of his top priorities as President would be protecting abortion rights and even expanding them. If elected, Senator Obama would become 'The Abortion President,' with the most extremist policies on abortion of any President in history.
"Senator Obama's views on abortion are so radical that he even wants American citizens to pay for them. This would include Catholics, Evangelicals and all people of faith. He would also expand abortion rights through his passionate support of The Freedom of Choice Act.
Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan sent out the following statement:
"Barack Obama understands that the best way to reduce the need for abortions is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. He is committed to commonsense solutions to achieve that objective and to changing the tone of the discourse which for too long has devolved into false and negative attacks such as this that do nothing to accomplish that goal"
The story takes place in East Germany several years prior to the fall of the Berlin wall. In the movie, an agent of the Stasi, a government run intelligence service determined to preserve the existing order and prevent all dissension, is assigned to monitor the activities of a writer and his lover, an esteemed actress. As Wiesler, the regimented Stasi agent, continues to listen to the conversations of the couple and their associates, he finds himself increasingly sympathetic.
He comes to realize that a plot is underway to smuggle an expose to Der Spiegel, a magazine in the West. The article's purpose is to detail the effects of the stifling oppression that exists...oppression that has resulted in the ruin of numerous artists...and countless civilians...by the government. To demonstrate the point, the article cites the virtually unreported, and unparalleled, suicide rates that existed at the time in East Germany.
Suffice it to say that Wiesler aids and abets the process to smuggle the article to the West. Once published, the powers that be intensify their efforts to discover who wrote the article and who served as their enablers. By this point, Wiesler has become an unknown ally of the conspirators, carrying out acts of omission that place him at great risk. As the Stasi closes in on the perpetrator, Wiesler chooses to dispose of the evidence hidden in the couple's residence.
The magic and the essence of the movie is found in understanding the correlation between the desire to enable, create, and/or perform art (primarily music and plays) and the relentlessly oppressive nature of the state. Ironically, the juxtaposition of expression and oppression provides evidence that a marriage of inspiration and intimidation is capable of bearing fruit...or leaving one fully barren. As such, the potential outcomes in such a society can either be a testament to the irrepressible will of the individual (high art)...or an epitaph to the carnage of insufferable surrender and submission (silence and/or suicide).
Wiesler, a seeming shell of a man, who is in a unique position to choose sides by virtue of his position as a spy, abandons his state sponsored, and virtually non-existent identity, in order to enable the expression he lacks (the smuggling of the article), but longingly admires from afar. In doing so, he foreshadows the inevitability that the human spirit will eventually prevail...regardless of the structures that have been built to constrain it.
Returning to the 2008 election...I think voters find themselves in a position similar to Wiesler's with regards to the choices available. Convention tells them that Barack Obama operates outside the prescribed confines...as an enviable actor in an unfamiliar place...but one that is intriguing to many. The instinctual response...or metaphorically speaking...the state sanctioned response would be to surveil and scrutinize his actions with an innately ingrained level of suspicion. The audience, though enamored with his artful presentation, struggles to accept that his script can be applied to enable a transformation of the status quo...and therefore a better state.
At the same time, those who are invested in the existing system recognize him as a threat like none other in recent memory and react in predictable and prescribed ways to subvert the implementation of his system altering sonata...one which they interpret as little more than harsh dissonance. Having been in positions of authority for years, the powers that be seek to retain the fearful ear of those who have long followed them in deference to their established ideological intransigence...as well as for the lack of viable alternatives.
Hence, Barack Obama's message, a threat to the status quo, must be misrepresented. As such, those who are beholding to the establishment are enlisted to carry out the character assassination and reaffirm, in the electorate, the belief that deviation is an unfailing recipe for rejection. Therefore, the sought after fall of Barack Obama must be visible, it must be inviolable, and it must be administered in full view in order to douse the dreams of a different dialogue...a dialogue intent upon illuminating an alternate approach to addressing that which ails our nation.
If one looks specifically at the effort to portray Obama as "The Abortion President", the objective is to offer the voters a narrow either/or choice...and nothing else. Groups like the Christian Defense Coalition seek to ignore the fact that Senator Obama argues in favor of bolstering measures designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies...a focus that seeks to circumvent the volatility that has for so long served the political purposes of those in positions of power. The goal is to offer voters (followers) a very defined choice...one of which, when made, can be viewed as wrong (sinful). If chosen, it is designed to reflect negatively upon the character of the individual and thus impugn what little independent identity they may still retain.
In other words, Senator Obama must be seen in a light similar to the artistic community in East Germany...romanticized by many, but relegated to the domain of dreamers who are disconnected from the realities that exist in the lives of others. This helps to insure that the metaphoric Wiesler's will never find themselves in the position to choose the kind of change that would allow them to explore their own identities...as well as the extensions that would emanate from such an expansion of the individual. A better way of life must never be more than an imagined and idealized theatrical moment. Men like Obama must be fictional lest they foment the freedom of thought that stands to subrogate the status quo.
America stands on the precipice of change...and the agents of the status quo have commenced their efforts to insure more of the same. The choice we have is between bolstering the walls that divide us...one from the other...individuals from their identities...or acting to undermine the contrivances that seek to construe the agents of change as nothing more than scripted surrogates of a superficial self.
When we find the courage to act as Wiesler did, choosing to elevate the imagined over the immutable, granting ourselves one of the rarest of all gifts...the gift of change...we too will be able to state, "No, it's for me."
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abortion, Barack Obama, Berlin Wall, Change, Christian Defense Coalition, Germany, Religion, The Lives Of Others
Daniel DiRito | July 7, 2008 | 12:01 PM |
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If one can believe the latest Gallup poll, the ideological distance between John McCain and George W. Bush is way too small for a large number of voters. In fact, nearly fifty percent of voters are very concerned that John McCain would pursue the same policies as his predecessor.
McCain faces a challenge in trying to convince voters to allow him to follow an unpopular president of the same party. Democratic candidate Barack Obama has attempted to link McCain to Bush by saying that electing McCain would effectively lead to a "third Bush term." Although McCain remains competitive in head-to-head matchups with Obama, the poll suggests that McCain may have more work to do to distance himself from Bush.
It is clearly a delicate balancing act for McCain, as Bush remains relatively popular with the Republican base. While only 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president, a majority of Republicans (60%) still do. Bush's approval rating among current McCain supporters is slightly lower, at 55%.
A recent CBS News poll asked registered voters what they thought McCain would do -- continue Bush's policies, change to more conservative policies, or change to less conservative policies. A plurality of 43% believe he would continue Bush's policies, but more expect some change -- either more conservative (21%) or less conservative (28%) policies. Thus, while most voters express concern about McCain being too much like Bush, most do not necessarily expect this to happen.
I doubt that McCain can take comfort in the CBS poll numbers. I'm of the opinion that a large precentage of the 21% who think McCain will be more conservative than Bush aren't going to vote for McCain. I say that because the GOP base generally thinks McCain is too liberal. Hence, I suspect that the respondents who stated McCain would be more conservative were left of center and don't view McCains conservative bona fides as a reason to vote for McCain.
Looking at the data regarding voter perceptions of Barack Obama's seems to support my contentions. The percentage of voters who are very concerned Obama will go too far in changing the Bush policies stands at 30%. I would suggest that number results primarily from those who are a part of the fervently conservative GOP base. While 30% may seem like a concerning number, a look at the second polling question sheds more light on the mood of the electorate as a whole.
Of particular interest is the mood of those who consider themselves to be independents. Looking at those numbers suggests that they want a solid majority (56 percent to 42 percent) prefer a president who will not align himself with the policies of George Bush.
Comparing the responses to the McCain questions with the responses to the Obama questions provides some interesting anecdotal evidence. My impression is that voters are fairly certain they don't want to continue the Bush administration policies and they see McCain being too far to the right. At the same time, there is some trepidation that Obama may be a little too far to the left.
At this moment, it looks like the electorate wants to be sure the next president won't give them more of the same...but won't completely reinvent the wheel. The fact that Obama seems to be moving towards the center seems to suggest that his campaign may have a pretty good understanding of the mood of the electorate. It remains to be seen which candidate can find the delicate balance needed to assure voters in order to insure victory.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Change, Democrat, Gallup Poll, George W. Bush, GOP, Independent, John McCain, Polling
Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2008 | 11:13 AM |
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