Posts Tagged ‘American politics’
“This presidential election is the last in which a white Christian strategy will be considered a plausible path to victory,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey”
The shame is it ever was considered plausible. Infidels and devout believers deserve better with real human issues, for an American nation.
Related blogs: What Next For Christian Right?
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Dawkins has slightly moved from what I reported earlier on here to saying that Obama is ‘vaguely “spiritual”‘
This however as I mentioned in the above cited blog is not borne out by the evidence. I think we can say that Obama is a Christian who is also a secularist. It does seem that Dawkins has difficulty saying that, so dismisses the thought that Obama is truly religious as a result.
A memory stirred to a blog in 2008 during the Democratic Primary. Sure enough, Obama’s campaign produced a pamphlet detailing his Christian credentials:
Even PZ Myers was unenthusiastic about campaigning for Obama because of his Christianity back then.
In 2008 Newsweek did a very in depth story on Obama’s spiritual journey Finding His Faith. So why is Dawkins saying what he is about Obama? Out of ignorance?
My fear is that secularism is being claimed as for atheists only – which I think plays into the religious fundamentalist’s and Christian Right’s hands. The meme that you cannot be religious and secularist has to be stopped. I am saddened that Dawkins cannot just leave it at what Obama stands for.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
The full text can be found here but I thought I would share the part where he talks about Adam Smith and the global economy on this blog:
Adam Smith’s central insight remains true today: there is no greater generator of wealth and innovation than a system of free enterprise that unleashes the full potential of individual men and women. That is what led to the Industrial Revolution that began in the factories of Manchester. That is what led to the dawn of an Information Age that arose from the office parks of Silicon Valley. And that is why countries like China, India and Brazil are growing so rapidly — because in fits and starts, they are moving towards the market-based principles that the United States and the United Kingdom have always embraced.
In other words, we live in a global economy that is largely of our own making. And today, the competition for the best jobs and industries favors countries that are free-thinking and forward-looking; countries with the most creative, innovative, entrepreneurial citizens.
That gives nations like the United States and the United Kingdom an inherent advantage. From Newton and Darwin to Edison and Einstein; from Alan Turing to Steve Jobs, we have led the world in our commitment to science and cutting-edge research; the discovery of new medicines and technologies. We educate our citizens and train our workers in the best colleges and universities on Earth. But to maintain this advantage in a world that’s more competitive than ever, we will have to redouble our investments in science and engineering, and renew our national commitments to educating our workforces.
Because, quite simply, it motivates people to the polls.
As shown in the case where Kay Hagan attended a fund raiser for the Secular Coalition of America. She is the Democrat rival to Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina who has tried to make political capital out of it. For example this video from the Republican Party:
Followed by a leaflet campaign which you can see here which denotes that Christmas will be banned in the atheist republic that Hagan will help found. The extent to which the religious right funds and controls the Republican Party is one that makes my mouth drop. Notice though it says more about the Godless Americans PAC then it does about Hagan. You can kind of see where the thinking for Ayers and Obama comes from.
Which brings to mind that the only time Christmas was banned by Parliament was under Cromwell. Parliament actually sat on Christmas Day to prove the point. Not that you would have mince pies – they were banned because they were considered catholic. Christmas banned by Puritan Christians.
It does smack of desperation – Dole has gone from a comfortable double digit lead to Hagen now having a 4% lead. Two words: George Bush, and two numbers: 92 and 93:
Just remember if all else fails when you are loosing, use a dog:
The irony is that the first pledge of allegiance was written by a baptist minister in 1892 which had no mention of under God. In 1942 the pledge was used in the US Flag Code by Congress – but it was not till 1954 that Congress added “under God”.
It originally read: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The under God bit is probably seen as refining the character of a Christian socialist’s work. Francis J. Bellamy using the pledge in schools as as precursor to what the Nazis did with their pledge.
The “under God” happened at the urging of the catholic organisation The Knights of Columbus, which still in 2008 defends that addition on the grounds that:
The words “under God” give voice to a principle of American government that has been understood to be an essential part of our system since its founding, namely, that the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution are “endowed by our Creator,” and are not the state’s to give or to take away, but only to preserve and to protect [source, which is worth reading in full]
Simply put this is a breech of the constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Not establishing a religion means that the law cannot impose upon people to make a distinction by professing a belief or disbelief in any religion. Even if we have two different pledges the law is still asking people to take an oath that establishes religion. That goes against the First Amendment [source]
From a philosophical point of view the rights of the populace do not come from a human body nor do they come from an abstract entity with the power of creation. Rather they come from the principles that grant freedom and autonomy to the minds of people to be sincere and true to themselves and their beliefs without fear of persecution nor to profess them by legal compulsion. The state has no authority to ask me to believe in the Trinity, nor does it have any power to make me issue a statement supporting a belief in a God.
There is no freedom if you cannot be tolerated to have autonomy of belief. For that alone Republicans should feel appalled by that first advert. Freedom of religion does mean the right to reject religion and to say it is false. To object to religion being sanctioned by government, in respect of the First Amendment, can be argued about politically – there is a constitutional basis for the secularist point of view.
I am reminded of the mass in The West Wing when President Bartlet says on the seperation of government and state sometimes you have to say “big deal”. Yet I wonder what would have happened if a Presdential Candidate said the pledge without “under God”. It would definetly be a big deal.
The moderate Republican backs Obama; and states that one clear defining reason was the choice of Sarah Palin as Vice President; someone without the experience for the White House and the nature of the Republican negative personal campaign against Obama. Obama stood out as the transformational candidate needed for the next four years, with a plan for the economy:
I found that [McCain] was a little unsure of how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. Almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me.
I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She is a very distinguished person and a she is to be admired. But at the same time, now that we’ve had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she is ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made. …
I watched Mr. Obama… he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this, and picking a vice president that I think is ready to be president on day one. And also not just jumping in and changing every day but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well. [source]
By gaining the right of the party it is conceivable that McCain lost the moderates – the question is how many of them in the key battleground states?
My earlier predictions – back in March – was that the lead Obama had would start to fall from mid October onwards. The danger of that is that the opinion polls exaggerate Obama’s lead as well. It means the gap he has on McCain is not what it appears. Sure enough from the 13th to 19th October Obama’ lead has dropped from 8% to 5% (on average in the polls).
However, that matters only in so far as it impacts on the electoral college – that is the value of the states (by population roughly) given to the winning candidate with the total 270 getting you to the White House. According to RealClearPolitics Obama/Biden have 286 without taking the toss up seats into consideration; with only Colorado at 6% lead for Obama being the most marginal state of that 286 with 9 electoral votes. Take it away leaves room to spare at 277.
McCain would have to come back and take Virginia (13 votes) which is Obama’s with a 8.1% lead. Now I have said that the margin for error will be 3-6% nationally skewed in favour of Obama. Even allowing for the top end and evenly in all states that means McCain needs a 4% bounce back.
You have to consider this: that 286 count does not include Florida (27) and Ohio (20) which are too close to call. The good news for McCain is that Florida is moving away from Obama. Bad news is that Obama still leads by over 3.2%.
Here then is something for you to ponder. Some right wing Republicans were saying that they would stay at home as McCain was not the right sort of Republican. With Colin Powell supporting Obama this may give them cover to say that they need to support McCain. It may well be a testament to how far McCain pandered to them that Powell has endorsed Obama. Powell will shore up Obama’s already committed supporters – it may however not dragged anymore Republicans. It could be a warning shot across the bows that they will loss the White House for 4 years. Maybe even 8 years, to a transforming President. Which must sound like a liberal nightmare to them.
It will be interesting to see how the polls react. It gives Obama some cover from the lack of experience charge. It may however make the Republicans realise that loosing Michigan is the least of their problems when loosing Colorado means the jig is up in an every increasing long odds on McCain making a big enough come back.
His only hope is that the polls are seriously wrong. Or students do not vote. But when economists start doubting you then it may well be that the battle is all but lost till the rout at the ballot box. The odds are lengthening, McCain needs not just a bounce back but polls to be wrong, and people hiding their true intentions at the ballot box.
Two weeks and a day to go to find out.
I never had this much interest in the decision that Americans faced when voting for the President then now. In part that is due to the Bush years, which placed loyalty to friends before responsibility in office whether Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Brown at FEMA or nominating his personal lawyer Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court – “a pit bull in size six shoes” as he described her. Katrina came a year too late to blow Bush out of the White House; he has never recovered from that. Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, New Orleans our words dominating the political legacy of the outgoing President.
While Bush did not deserve a second term I found it difficult to get excited by Kerry. He was unconvincing in how he was going to change things, while Bush had four years in office to point to as President. Right or wrong in his actions, in an uncertain terrified world people stuck with the devil they knew in the hope it may take one to tame and catch one; the devil they did not know was a flip flopper that gave a mixed signal. People did not want peace then, they wanted the enemies of America to know they would attack if provoked 100%.
Four years later Osama Bin Laden is still free to mastermind, and the Al Qaeda franchise means that even with his capture splinter cells have the ability to cause mayhem. Short of John McCain appearing bruised and battered with a chained Bin Laden – “My friends, I got him!” – McCain needs a surge of his own in battleground states to all go his way to defeat Obama. Spoilt ballot papers confusing Osama/Obama will not be enough. Doubt that Obama has the seasoning to do the Commander in Chief role may.
Which brings me back to why this election matters for me. Obama is the man that could have taught Martin Luther King in the art of public speaking, or that in an age of skepticism about politicians being able to change things and cynicism that they actually want to he is a breath of fresh air that threatens to blow through the stale odour of closed backrooms in Washington DC. Whether there is enough huff and puff to open the door and effect real change is debatable.
There is nothing beyond the rhetoric that points to Obama being able to do those things. He inspires, and his ambition to always be on the way to the next level can go no further then President of the United States. The only place left is a legacy, and if your ambition is to go beyond the admiration held for Abraham Lincoln, the question is whether Obama has what it takes. The problem is that we will only know that when he is in office.
McCain though is someone I have long admired on this side of the pond – not least because he was reported on. He often criticised Bush, he took on the religious right in his party and his attitude to abortion was like my own – I may not like it but I like the idea of illegal abortions even less, and reproductive issues are between a patient and a doctor. On the economy he was for free trade, and on the environment he stood out.
However the McCain of 2008 now is a pale shade of the McCain of 2000. His political persona is like comparing the physical Michale Jackson of “Blood on the Dance Floor” with the one that did “Billy Jean”. The transformation is unnatural, and what you once admired has disappeared in artificial layers, as the beat changes to the rhythm of the religious right. Blame it on the bogey; to get the gig he had to dance to their tune.
Picking Sarah Palin as the Vice President demolished any lingering respect for McCain. At 72 it would only be right to pick a heavy weight – he owed that to the American people. Instead he picked someone with over a years experience as a Governor and no knowledge of the economy and foreign affairs. Her folksy glamorous style to motivate the Republican base and appeal to women was about spin and not substance. Had there been a shorter time between choosing her and Polling Day she may definitely given him the White House. Under media scrutiny she has come across as a rabbit caught in the headlights, a pit ball with lipstick trapped in the cross hairs.
Hitchens makes the point that character is a political issue. On that score McCain has looked like someone wondering around having forgotten what he stood for. He cancelled his campaigning to resolve the financial crisis in the Senate. The result was the majority of Republicans were against the measure. It was a real test of his ability to lead, and he fell down.
In the last debate he was restless, a bewildered look in his eyes that people would consider anyone but him for President. Obama was poised, dignified and calm – a rock in a stormy sea. He toned down the professor lecturer, and became a statesman ready to do the job. McCain looked like he was ready for his medication.
McCain really needs a knock out blow. At the moment Obama has an average lead of 8% in the polls. Very close to the lead I predict he needs of 10% by mid October to assure himself of the Presidency. Because I think the only way to go is down for Obama as it becomes his to loose and I think the polls exaggerate his current support. The real test is how so in the battleground states that analysis plays out. The problem for McCain is he needs a clean sweep of the toss up states to win – the 2% swing of itself is not beyond possibility. That needs stressing because though the final result may seem huge, the margins of victory that brought them about in key states may be minuscule in comparison. Every vote will count in those states and the Obama enthusiasm for getting out the vote may be what secures him victory. But the wind of change is blowing in Obama’s favour.
Iraq is an issue – yet the fatalities have been considerably less for US forces (under ten a month) and the murder rate for Iraq in 2008 looks set to be less than 2007. Put in perspective, Iraq is a little more dangerous for the population than for black people in America in terms of homicide [source]. McCain needs to tackle Obama about the surge, which together with support of Al Qaeda dropping in Iraq have played a part in the improving security situation.
McCain’s polling went down sharply while Obama’s went up after the second debate. Stuck behind a coffee table directly by your opponent, McCain has to come up with something in the third debate to turn things around. He cannot afford another dip. As polling day draws nearer the stay at home Republicans may turn up, having succeeded in making McCain have to appeal to them rather than undecideds and independents or slightly leaning Democrats. Should McCain loose, they will have to shoulder some of the blame – because having a candidate they wanted rather than the man they had meant McCain was diminished.
If only McCain had secured the Republican nomination instead of Bush in 2000. That was his time. The future now belongs to Obama.
WIll the prodigal son be welcomed back to the fold of the left? The maverick writer supports Obama:
McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president. And Palin is simply a disgrace.
I used to nod wisely when people said: “Let’s discuss issues rather than personalities.” It seemed so obvious that in politics an issue was an issue and a personality was a personality, and that the more one could separate the two, the more serious one was. After all, in a debate on serious issues, any mention of the opponent’s personality would be ad hominem at best and at worst would stoop as low as ad feminam.
At my old English boarding school, we had a sporting saying that one should “tackle the ball and not the man.” I carried on echoing this sort of unexamined nonsense for quite some time—in fact, until the New Hampshire primary of 1992, when it hit me very forcibly that the “personality” of one of the candidates was itself an “issue.” In later years, I had little cause to revise my view that Bill Clinton’s abysmal character was such as to be a “game changer” in itself, at least as important as his claim to be a “new Democrat.” To summarize what little I learned from all this: A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
On “the issues” in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their “debates” have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him.
I suppose it could be said, as Michael Gerson has alleged, that the Obama campaign’s choice of the word erratic to describe McCain is also an insinuation. But really, it’s only a euphemism. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear had to feel sorry for the old lion on his last outing and wish that he could be taken somewhere soothing and restful before the night was out. The train-wreck sentences, the whistlings in the pipes, the alarming and bewildered handhold phrases—”My friends”—to get him through the next 10 seconds. I haven’t felt such pity for anyone since the late Adm. James Stockdale humiliated himself as Ross Perot’s running mate. And I am sorry to have to say it, but Stockdale had also distinguished himself in America’s most disastrous and shameful war, and it didn’t qualify him then and it doesn’t qualify McCain now.
The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: “What does he take me for?” Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.
It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.
I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that “issue” I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity. Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience. With McCain, the “experience” is subject to sharply diminishing returns, as is the rest of him, and with Palin the very word itself is a sick joke. One only wishes that the election could be over now and a proper and dignified verdict rendered, so as to spare democracy and civility the degradation to which they look like being subjected in the remaining days of a low, dishonest campaign.
In Britain Spitting Image was a satirical comedy involving puppets of politicans and celebrities. While no longer around it had an impact on popular perceptions – John Major being the colour grey, David Steel being in the pocket of David Owen, Neil Kinnock unable to fall off a log to prove he could win the election (which he did not). While it may not have changed minds, it did reinforce views people took on politicians.
In the USA Tina Fey (30 Rock) is having a similar impact playing Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. As a mimic she is spot on in her interpretation of Palin. A natural advantage; a few years ago Palin dressed up as Tina Fey for Halloween.
At some points the comedy actually uses what Sarah Palin has said. While Sarah has said she is a fan, and there is talk that before Polling Day she may do a sketch with Tina on Saturday Night Live – John McCain did saying he had the oldness required for the job.
Check out one mock interview on Saturday Night Live (SNL) with Tina Fey as Palin here.
A week after the first broadcast of SNL, Palin’s approval rating went down by ten percentage points. For some a Republican victory seems less likely with Fey’s impersonation:
But you, Ms. Fey, have the ability, with just a wink and a smirk, to change the minds of millions of casual viewers and even more casual voters, to educate them as to what this woman stands or doesn’t stand for. These viewers don’t react to a radical move like Republican Senator Chuck Hagel coming forth to question Palin’s credentials or credibility, or really care about what political pundits prognosticate on cable news shows. Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, many swing-state voters get their information and cue from you, Ms. Fey, and you need to provide as much of it as one woman possibly can, before the election is upon us and it is too late. [Huffington Post]
As for Fey, she has said that come November 5 she hopes to be done with the impersonation. One would hope that the voters would base that on the issues and what Sarah Plain stands for then a comedic impression. Because if that really was how people formed their opinions on policy and issue, then we have even more to fear then the leader of the world’s only superpower. If it does hopefully the saving grace is that something is funny because it is often so true.
John McCain defended Obama from personal attacks by his supporters at a Republican rally. A principled stand or a man that knows such character attacks will not help close the distance, while distancing himself from Republican attacks may help?
Probably easier to do that then distancing himself from the right wing of his party.
UP DATE 14/10/08
Had to share this cartoon with you which sums it up: