A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

April 18, 2009

Media and Framing of Culture

This is a paper I authored analyzing an an ethnographic study performed concerning the media and cultural occlusion vis a vis The Vietnam War.

This paper is the intellectual property of the author and may not be utilized in any form without proper citations and/or permission of the author.

The Media as a Framer of Cultural Norms

 

            In society today, as well as in the past, there is a constant shifting of oppositional positions.  One of the major functions of the media is to inform the general public of the relevant issues which are parties to the constant stir in the social and political realm.  The media – whether in book, radio, television, daily publication, movies, and most recently in electronic weblogs (blogs) – serve a dual purpose in society as a reporter of the events, and also as a framer of the discussion regarding those events.  Media can by the sheer volume of their voice call attention to or occlude reality, and thereby frame a discussion or limit discussion by eliminating it from the public discourse.  A common perception is that the mass media is a vital player in the framer of societal norms, values within a culture which supersedes the framing role of the educational system, family system, and the political system.

            How the media frames a cultural curriculum was the topic of a study (Wineburg, Mosborg, Porat, Duncan; 2004) performed concerning generational perceptions of the Vietnam War, and whether the history represented by the media formed a “collective memory”.  The study posed to answer the question how media and popular culture frame historical knowledge and how it is transmitted across generations. 

Over a course of 30 months, 30 members of 15 families were interviewed about how their conceptualization of the past may form a collective concept about a historical era.  One parent and one child from each family were interviewed about their knowledge and conceptual framework concerning American involvement in Vietnam.  Each member participating in the study was also asked to provide their interpretation of well known photographs taken from the Vietnam Era.  Each of these photographs had become iconic of the Vietnam War Era.

Prior to the interviewing the student’s perceptions of the Vietnam War and the instruction offered concerning the topic were analyzed by the researchers.  Despite the detailed instruction concerning the issues at stake in the Vietnam War by the schools of the students, as a group, had a similar perception of the Vietnam War – “A war without a reason”.

Using well documented photos, produced by the mass media, both parent and child were asked to write down their reactions to the pictures shown by answering open ended questions, such as, “What do you see in this picture?” and “What associations does this picture bring up?”  Later on the responses elicited by each respondent was coded with a graphic textual spreadsheet in order to develop emergent themes from the interview process. 

The first photo used was a picture of a veteran of the Vietnam War looking upon the names etched on the wall while his hand gingerly touches the wall.  Of all the photos presented, this one image was the most identifiable picture.  All of the teens and all but one of the parents (who had been born in the former Soviet Union) were able to recognize the memorial.  Every student also knew what the man was attempting to do.  For the parents, the picture brought back memories of loved ones or friends who had served in the Vietnam War, and the veteran took on a symbolic identification of long remembered people from their past.  However, the students’ answers were more general, with the man depicted in the photo not taking any symbolic meaning at all.  The experience for the adults in the study also reflected their own personal opinions concerning America’s involvement in Vietnam.  Words and phrases such as “resolution”, “respect that was deserved” appeared in the responses in the adults.  Interestingly, the man portrayed in the picture is seen by all as a victim of the war, and not as a perpetrator of war, who is worthy of respect and pity, not hatred.

The second photo is also an icon of the Vietnam War era, a photo of a young man placing flowers in the barrels of guns of soldiers in the 1967 March on the Pentagon.  The adults surveyed instantly identified the clash between the flower and the guns as a symbolic clash of war opposed to peace.  Terms used to qualify the event express the antithetical symbolism the picture displays, “Blocking soldiers with flowers”; Peace, not power”; and “a divided country”.  For the students there was a significant disconnect with the interpretation of the picture.  Only eight of the fifteen could identify the basic concept of peace versus might.  The symbolic elements of the picture were even less easily discerned by the youngsters.  One student thought the soldiers were North Vietnamese, another felt the incident was meant to mourn the dead. 

Interestingly, for the adults, while the first photo brought about feelings of the nation coming to reconciliation about the war, the second photo brought the sharp divide felt by their generation back to the forefront.  One parent spoke warmly of the camaraderie felt by members of the anti-war movement; while another contemptuously replied, “He’s a slime-bucket”.  Part of the student’s problems with this photo was their failure to identify the clean cut youth as a “hippie”.  The young man is clean cut and wearing clean clothing with an overall appearance which does not align with their perception of the prototypical hippie of the 1960’s. 

The third photo, a “hard-hat” rally drew strong responses and identification by the adults in the group, and almost universal misunderstanding by the younger generation.  The rally, which was a pro-war response by blue collar workers in New York City in support of the war in 1970, elicited two polarized replies.  One reply stated that “although there was confusion about the issues in the war, these guys, typical working men, were going to support the government”.  This picture also drew a rather strong comment by an opponent of the war, “These men are a bunch of assholes, guided by their penises”. 

The majority of students were unable to interpret the photo.  One person identified the type of people represented, “blue collar workers”, but had no idea what the purpose of the rally served.  One thought that a sign, which referred to “Building America”, was an anti-war sentiment, as it contrasted the destruction which was going on in Vietnam.  Many of the students were surprised to learn that people actually protested in favor of the Vietnam War.  More than one of the students cited the movie Forrest Gump, which had framed their perception that all of America was against the war, when in reality, as late as 1972 a Gallup Poll showed that 70% of the nation felt a renewed confidence in the prosecution of the war.  However, the media through a repeated message – that the Vietnam War was without support and baseless – had constructed a framework of history apart from the reality of fact.

The findings of this study concluded that the younger people perception of the war had not been formed by instruction or by a true understanding of the concepts involved, but had been formed by images found in media such as movies about the Vietnam War, such as Forrest Gump, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, which were frequently cited as sources of history.  Despite various ethnic and cultural variances, a consistent perception about the war had been formed in these young people, and their perception about the war was remarkably more similar than those of their parents, who had experienced the war from a more personal vantage point.  The young people’s perception allowed no room for pro-war demonstrations and “the silent majority” that supported the Vietnam War.   In the eyes of this generation, removed by the war from time, the Vietnam War was one fought without supporters.  In a real sense cultural occlusion has come about with regard to this historical event, and in effect, the icons of the Vietnam War have been selectively used or occluded to create a historical construct and the largest framer of that occlusion has been the media.

The findings of this study have vast implications for the transmission of knowledge to a society by the media.  The demonstrated ability of mass media to control the flow of information, through a mode of entertainment, gives it the ability to form a cultural curriculum, and a view of historic events which may be anything but a view which is based upon the truth. 

The challenge facing educators is one of coalescence.   In many areas, in particular to this study, The Vietnam War, a common belief about the war has become imprinted upon the framework of the nation.  Any idea which challenges this view reached by occlusion, must take on a cognitive dissonance, which precludes any view other than the one which is currently held.  The common belief of a culture, particularly when spurious, must be challenged by other sources to allow students to use inductive reasoning to frame a true understanding of historical consciousness.  The real danger resides when educators themselves have bought into the common belief of history, which is often formed by ideology rather than reality, and are no longer capable of presenting historical information apart from the vantage point of merely spewing out what other sources have programmed them to say.

 

References

Wineburg, Sam; Mosborg, Susan; Porat, Dan; Duncan, Ariel; (2007). Common Belief and the Cultural Curriculum: An Intergenerational Study of Historical Conciousness. American Education Research Journal, Vol. 44, No 1. pp. 40-76.

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November 9, 2008

Opinion: Why President Elect Obama Won

Here is my analysis of a few key factors that elected our new President.  First just a few points.  This was not a landslide, not even close.  While Mr. Obama has in my view a clear mandate, he still has 46% plus who remain unsold.  However, gathering 52% is a good sign for his administration.  Secondly, statistically speaking he did NOT inspire people to vote more than in past elections.  The percentage of the voters relevant to total population was statistically insignificant in 2008 than 2004 and 2000. 

1) Ability to stay on message.  This is called by Jim Collins “The Hedgehog Principle”.  Hedgehogs in the business and political world have the ability to stay focused and on message.  They know what they do well and they make that their selling point.  The Obama campaign was highly disciplined.  Other than the occassional gaffe that he made against certain radio show commentators, which hurt him in all probability, the campaign, also helped by media which did not press the stories, would not allow themselves to be taken off their message, which was simple.  The message was, things are bad, we can bring about change.  The changes sought were tied to the current dissatisfaction the country has with the Bush Administration, but was generally short on details.  This was picked up by many as being vapid.  However, give credit to the Obama Campaign handlers.  They made a choice to keep him away from town hall venues and press interviews where he could be hurt.  I believe his relatively poor performance at Saddleback showed their wisdom in this and solidified their resolve not to let events they couldn’t control, such as the economy alter their message of change.  If anything they took the events handed to them and used the events to be an echo of a broad theme.

2) The financial debacle.  One of the things that in contrast to Sen. McCain’s reaction of “I must do something” was that the Obama handlers used the event to broadcast their theme.  This was in disregard to many of the inconvenient facts – the much of the problems of the banking mess were caused by policies created under President Carter and greatly expanded under President Clinton.  The correlation picked up by some in the media – mostly print – of ties to Fannie and Freddie and high ranking Democrats never was picked up.  Obama stayed out of the fray but framed the fray to buoy his premise that “change is needed”.  It worked.  While the crisis was not cooked by campaign, the decision to stay outside the mess initially showed him being detached, and that is not always a bad thing as it is more objective.  Many polls showed that McCain was gaining traction and had a slight lead up to this point.  This was caused in part by some slips by the Obama campaign, the momentum of the GOP Convention – which was effective, and the initial excitement of Sarah Palin into the foray. 

3) Ability to appear credible.  Sen. Obama’s largest hurdle was to keep the excitement of his base, youth and left to left of center Americans and expand his credibility to John and Mary Q. Public who are Center to Center Right.  America was seen, and most identified themselves as “Conservative”.  There is one bit of news that shows this to be true, at least socially.  California’s repudiation by the voters of same sex marriage – in a year where the left and center left continued to show their appeal over right and center right candidates by a 15% point margin – indicates that even among “blue states” there is a cultural position of maintaining the status quo.  Although he fared badly at Saddleback, and any objective reporting of the event along with the shift of pubilc sentiment alludes to that, the fact that Sen. Obama was visibly comfortable with the Evangelical community is important.  There is a reason.  Although politically many ” ‘Black’ Evangelicals” are left and left of center, culturally many of them are right of center – to include school reform (vouchers, NCLB) and most notably views on homosexuality  This allowed those Evangelicals who are more Centrist and whose interpretation of their Christitanity leads them to value social activism and bread and butter issues highly – such as The Soujourners – to ally with Mr. Obama.  Obama also showed a shift – and it was a major one – during the debates.  Stating that “conditions on the ground” would dictate American policy in Iraq was startling and far more hawkish than anything he or any other Democrat had said during the primary season.  This combined with his statements of expanding the war in Afghanistan and putting pressure on Pakistan took away the “wimp factor” in many.  Mr. Obama’s shifting to the center from the hard left of the Democratic base is as old as politics.  Run to your base in the primary, tack to the mainstream in general election.  It will be interesting to see how he governs.

4.  Weariness of the Bush Administration.  This is the real reason why Sen. Obama won the election.  I will not offer conjecture if Sen. Clinton would have fared better, but I think it would have been about the same.  By all counts this was the nation speaking with their ballots of their dissatisfaction with Iraq policies and the numerous failures of the Bush Administration – and there are many to bring to light.  The Bush Administration started losing this election with their victory in 2000.  Fifty percent of the nation was not happy with that result.  President Bush did enjoy many political and policy victories.  NCLB will remain with the nation in some form for many years.  Efforts to change the political and social framework in Africa will also remain.  Also, it is likely that US policies in the Middle East will remain in some form and that the “War on Terror” will be funded with many of the policies once opposed by the Dem base suddenly accepted.  The NYT reported about GITMO on Wednesday and it was amazing how suddenly GITMO was no longer the first level of Dante’s Hell.  
However, the many debacles of the Bush Administration including the handling of the Iraq War after the initial objectives had been achieved, the perception and reality of the “out of touchness” that the President had whether it was by not listening to then NSA Rice message to “Get back to DC NOW” or the realities and perceptions of the sluggishness of federal response to Katrina.  Throw in the perceptions of ABU and you get the picture.  Most reasonable people understand that the POTUS does not have a big say in economic trends.  They either benefit or take blame from the markets, but what Presidents can do is frame perspective.  Whether or not the latter is Mr. Bush’s fault – although many have viewed him as a “lame duck” since ’06, the people’s loss of confidence in the outgoing administration was in many ways deserved.  Sen. McCain had to fight against a skilled opponent and his own Party’s brand label.  Even Sen. Obama wouldn’t have been able to overcome those factors.

Summary:  All of this is prologue.  The interesting part to watch will be to see how Mr. Obama governs as President Obama.  If a President Obama is able to do as well as he did with the first three points in his administration it will likely enjoy success and populrity.  However, he won’t have George Bush to kick around after the first few months.  The onus will be on him and Congress to truly bring about policies that unite America.

I also believe he will shift back towards the left from the smaller moves he had made to the Center.  In many ways he should if you believe as I do he had a mandate.  The media and the Dems were correctly criticial of the Bush Administration – particularly from ’00 to 06 in not being inclusive.  I have a feeling the same will happen, and in some ways that troubles me as I am more Centrist than either the Bush or forthcoming Administration will be.

While I don’t believe he will make the US a “Socialist” country, I would be shocked if policies that favor Big Government a la New Deal and Great Society are not reintroduced.  There are other concerns that are shared.  Mr. Obama’s declaration of a “Civilian Defense and Security Force” equal in footing and funding to the US military is as vague as it is troubling.   I also think that this administration will be as partisan as President Bush’s was partisan, as President Clinton’s was partisan.  

Some things won’t change.  That is something you truly can believe in.

June 8, 2007

The Formation of Cultural Icons: A Critical Analysis Pt. I

This is a paper I am presenting and thought it might generate some interest here.

Icons are a part of any culture. However, they often serve a role which detracts from a role which would be more fitting. In the sense of this report, an icon is an object which takes upon mythical meaning beyond the symbolism which it attempts to represent. Three areas of society which could easily be identified as icons are elaborated upon in this analysis of three historical studies.

How common beliefs become part of a cultural curriculum – or in a sense an icon – was the topic of a study (Wineburg, Mosborg, Porat, Duncan; 2004) performed concerning generational perceptions of the Vietnam War. The study posed to answer the question how historical knowledge is transmitted across generations. Over a thirty month period the authors interviewed fifteen families, drawn from three different communities. The author’s purpose was to ascertain how two generations defined moments of history, and whether the history represented by the generations formed a “collective memory” with regard to a historical event.

Over a course of 30 months, 30 members of 15 families were interviewed about how their conceptualization of the past may form a collective concept about a historical era. The sample families represented Evangelical Christians, lapsed Roman Catholics, Buddhists, and Jews. Four of the families consisted of members who had been born outside of the United States; twelve families were Caucasian and one each as African American, Native American and Asian American. One parent and one child from each family were interviewed about their knowledge and conceptual framework concerning American involvement in Vietnam. Each member participating in the study was also asked to provide their interpretation of well known photographs taken from the Vietnam Era, which could easily be identified as icons of the era.

Prior to the interviewing the student’s perceptions of the Vietnam War and the instruction offered concerning the topic were analyzed by the researchers. Despite the detailed instruction concerning the issues at stake in the Vietnam War by the schools of the students, as a group, had a similar perception of the Vietnam War – “a war without a reason”.

During the interview process both parent and child were asked to write down their reactions to the pictures shown by answering open ended questions, such as, “What do you see in this picture?” and “What associations does this picture bring up?” Both participants would then be asked to respond to the photo and their corresponding interpretation, with the child. This was done in order to protect against parental input having an impact upon the child’s answer.

Later on the responses elicited by each respondent was coded with a graphic textual spreadsheet in order to develop emergent themes from the interview process. Various combinations of grouping students with other students, students and parents from one subset being compared to other students and parents from other subsets, and then groupings based on conceptual agreement were formed.

The first photo used was a picture of a veteran of the Vietnam War looking upon the names etched on the wall while his hand gingerly touches the wall. Of all the photos presented, this one image was the most identifiable picture. All of the teens and all but one of the parents (who had been born in the former Soviet Union) were able to recognize the memorial. Every student also knew what the man was attempting to do – search for a name on the wall and then etch it into a piece of paper he held in his right hand. For the parents, the picture brought back memories of loved ones or friends who had served in the Vietnam War, and the veteran took on a symbolic identification of long remembered people from their past. However, the students’ answers were more general, with the man depicted in the photo not taking any symbolic meaning at all. The experience for the adults in the study also reflected their own personal opinions concerning America’s involvement in Vietnam. Words and phrases such as “resolution”, “respect that was deserved” appeared in the responses in the adults. Interestingly, the man portrayed in the picture is seen by all as a victim of the war, and not as a perpetrator of war, who is worthy of respect and pity, not hatred.

The second photo is also an icon of the Vietnam War era, a photo of a young man placing flowers in the barrels of guns of soldiers in the 1967 March on the Pentagon. The adults surveyed instantly identified the clash between the flower and the guns as a symbolic clash of war opposed to peace. Terms used to qualify the event express the antithetical symbolism the picture displays, “Blocking soldiers with flowers”; Peace, not power”; and “a divided country”. For the students there was a significant disconnect with the interpretation of the picture. Only eight of the fifteen could identify the basic concept of peace versus might. The symbolic elements of the picture were even less easily discerned by the youngsters. One student thought the soldiers were North Vietnamese, another felt the incident was meant to mourn the dead. Interestingly, for the adults, the first photo brought about feelings of the nation coming to reconciliation about the war, the second photo brought the sharp divide felt by their generation back to the forefront. One parent spoke warmly of the camaraderie felt by members of the anti-war movement towards each other; another contemptuously replied, “He’s a slime-bucket”. Part of the student’s problems with this photo was their failure to identify the clean cut youth as a “hippie”. His appearance does not align with their perception of the prototypical hippie of the 1960’s.

The third photo, a “hard-hat” rally drew strong responses and identification by the adults in the group, and almost universal misunderstanding by the younger generation. The rally, which was a pro-war response by blue collar workers in New York City in support of the war in 1970, elicited two polarized replies. One reply stated that “although there was confusion about the issues in the war, these guys, typical working men, were going to support the government”. This picture also drew a rather strong comment by an opponent of the war, “These men are a bunch of assholes, guided by their penises”. On the other hand, the majority of students were unable to interpret the photo. One person identified the type of people represented, “blue collar workers”, but had no idea what the purpose of the rally served. One thought that a sign, which referred to “Building America”, was an anti-war sentiment, as it contrasted the destruction which was going on in Vietnam.

Many of the students were surprised to learn that people actually protested in favor of the Vietnam War. More than one of the students cited the movie Forrest Gump, which had framed their perception that all of America was against the war, when in reality as late as 1972 a Gallup Poll showed that 70% of the nation felt a renewed confidence in the prosecution of the war.

The findings of this study concluded that the younger people perception of the war had not been formed by instruction or by a true understanding of the concepts involved, but had been formed images found in media such as movies about the Vietnam War, and that despite various ethnic and cultural variance, a consistent perception about the war had been formed by these young people, and their perception about the war was remarkably similar than their parents who had experienced the war from a more personal vantage point. The young people’s perception allowed no room for pro-war demonstrations and “the silent majority” that supported the Vietnam War. In the eyes of this generation, removed by the war from time, the Vietnam War was one fought without supporters. In a real sense cultural occlusion has come about with regard to this historical event, and in effect, the icons of the Vietnam War have been selectively used or occluded to create a historical construct.

May 17, 2007

Senate Bill to Defund Fails – Backed By DEM POTUS Candidates

From the AP.

WASHINGTON — Anti-war Democrats in the Senate failed in an attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq war on Wednesday, a lopsided bipartisan vote that masked growing impatience within both political parties over President Bush’s handling of the four-year conflict.

Don’t you love it when news reports editorialze. Make up your mind if you want to report or offer commentary!

The 67-29 vote against the measure left it far short of the 60 needed to advance. More than half the Senate’s Democrats supported the move, exposing divisions within the party but also marking a growth in anti-war sentiment from last summer, when only a dozen members of the rank and file backed a troop withdrawal deadline.

“It was considered absolute heresy four months ago” to stop the war, said Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, author of the measure to cut off funds for most military operations after March 31, 2008.

While there is a rise in the sentiment towards defunding and withdrawl, it seems that the Democratic Congress and Senate are still torn in two between a growing shift towards the hard left of their base, which is for immediate withdrawl “by any means necessary” and those who seem to have managed to have kept some level of sanity and understand that an immediate withdrawl would be a disaster of the highest order for the United States from a policy standpoint within the region, as well as for Iraq in its struggle to come to some semblance of order.

Ironically, the vote also cleared the way for the Democratic-controlled Congress to bow to Bush’s wishes and approve a war funding bill next week stripped of the type of restrictions that drew his veto earlier this spring.

If this does develop, it will be a fairly large political victory for the Administration. While the sentiment against a prolonged stay in Iraq is strong and rising, at the end of the day – or at the end of the Bush Presidency – it is still very likely that the United States will have troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Once the US invaded, it owned the problems of this country, and it there is no reason to believe that just as there are troops in Kosovo, South Korea, and Germany long after our military engagement ended, the same, for better or worse, is true about Iraq.

Democrats vowed in January to force an end to the war, and nowhere is the shift in sentiment more evident than among the party’s presidential contenders in the Senate.

For the first time, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joe Biden of Delaware joined Sen. Chris Dodd in lending support to the notion of setting a date to end U.S. participation in the war.

Clinton, the Democrats’ presidential front-runner in most early polls, has adamantly opposed setting a date for a troop withdrawal, and she gave conflicting answers during the day when asked whether her vote signified support for a cutoff in funds.

“I’m not going to speculate on what I’ll be voting on in the future,” she said at midday. But a few hours later she said: “I support the … bill. That’s what this vote … was all about.”

This is a rather signficant development. All of the major contenders for the Democratic nod are now lined up four square in the anti-war posture of the base. For Senator Clinton, who for the most part has split her votes with and against the Administration it seems that her shift towards the left is to guard against a double flank movement by Sen. Obama and former Sen. Edwards. One thing is for certain, this vote will help her with the base, but may hurt her in the general election. While the base is all for getting out – NOW – the rest of the country wants to get out, and to do so by defunding the troops may not sell well with Blue Dog Democrats.

May 11, 2007

Nothing to Fear but Polls Themselves

From an article by Bill Kristol

The 1990s were a silly time. But that decade did produce, at its close, an impressive pair of vice presidential candidates–Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. Both spoke up last Thursday as the congressional debate over Iraq reached a new low.

Vice President Cheney was asked on Fox News about concerns that the Iraq war was hurting Republicans. “We didn’t get elected to be popular,” Cheney said. “We didn’t get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican party.”

Well, that’s good, because you didn’t get popular, but the American public is fairly fickle. I remember this quote by Howard Fineman, now a regular Bush basher, “We had controversial wars that divided this country. This war united the country and brought the military back.” I don’t think he’s gonna requote that line with Chris Matthews anytime soon.

This was a just rebuke to the 11 Republican congressmen who had visited the White House the day before. They had two purposes in mind: to tell President Bush that the Iraq war was harming the GOP, and then to tell the media that they had visited the White House to convey that message. The media are primed to reward Republicans for defecting from the White House on the war. The on-the-record star of the meeting was Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia. “People are always saying President Bush is in a bubble,” Davis told the Post. “Well, this was our chance, and we took it.”

But what chance did they take? How did they help the president deal with a crucial foreign policy challenge? Davis “presented Bush dismal polling figures to dramatize just how perilous the [Republican] party’s position is, participants said.” Polling figures!

The chance they take is losing their seat, and this is regrettable, because it seems that the DNC Caucas is determined to basically take a much larger chance by pulling out of Iraq.

Do the Republicans who want Bush to cut and run really think they would benefit if Iraq were to blow up, with U.S. troops helplessly standing by watching the slaughter, the full spectacle of American defeat unfolding before the American people? Here is a fine posture for a Republican to assume in 2008: I voted for the war, and then I voted for the surrender. Who in their right mind would vote for such a person?

As for the Democrats, they are in a way less abject. Most of them simply believe the war is lost, or that it should be lost, and want to throw in the towel.

This won’t play with the American people, but it will do one thing. If you think that Vietnam cost the country credibility, pulling from Iraq will guarantee that America is a laughingstock in the Middle East. Bin Laden’s words of America is a “paper tiger” will be remembered. These people who are our adversaries are not living in the comfort of air conditioned homes where being overweight is a national health problem. They are patient and merciless, and they do have a goal of obliterating our culture. The Democratic Party needs to remember that, and the American public who have the backbone of overcooked spaghetti also need to be reminded of that also.

Only one Democrat–now an “independent Democrat”–called them on their vote: Joe Lieberman. As the members of his party voted for defeat, he took to the Senate floor to plead for full funding of our troops: “Only a couple of months ago, the Senate confirmed a new commander to implement a new strategy in Iraq, General David Petraeus. That new strategy is now being implemented, and it is achieving some encouraging, if early, signs of success. . . . Yet, now many in Congress would pull the plug on this new strategy and thwart the work of our troops before they are given a fair chance to succeed. I am aware that public opinion has turned against the war in Iraq. . . . But leadership requires sometimes that we defy public opinion if that is what is necessary to do what is right for our country. . . . Al Qaeda itself has declared Iraq to be the central front of their larger war against our way of life. . . . Our judgment can be guided by the polls and we can withdraw in defeat. [But] no matter what we say, our enemy will know that America’s will has been broken by the barbarity of their bloodlust–the very barbarity we declare we are fighting, but from which we would actually be running.”

I think Sen. Lieberman needs to be renamed, “Fighting Joe”. If anyone was a victim of the mealy mouthed, gutless milksop cry babies in our country, it is Joe Lieberman. However, if that is now the majority of what this nation is composed of, we may as well pull the troops back home, because this no longer a nation worth fighting or dying for.

May 8, 2007

Compromise Bill to Fund War in Phases

A bill is being prepared by House Democratic leadership to send to the floor.

• Congressional Democrats working on new $95.5 billion war funding bill
• Half of funds would be available immediately; vote required on remaining funds
• Bill does not contain deadlines for withdrawing troops from Iraq

This bill has the potential to be met with rather wide bipartisan support.  While the bill doesn’t require a deadline or timetables, it would require the President to report to Congress in July upon the Iraqis progress with meeting certain benchmarks.  The Democrats measures may be gaining some momentum as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) address lagging support among House Republicans.  However, this was stated that it would be timed with General Petraeus’ report regarding progress of  “The Surge”.  A bit more than half of the troops needed for planned operation are in place.  It is believed by many that July will see intense fighting as the heavy brigades will be deployed in various key sectors believed to be Al-Qaeda areas of influence.  Pressure is being put on anti-war legislators to oppose this bill, and not accept any bill which doesn’t immediately call for an immediate pull out.

In a conversation with a friend of mine who has some of the inside story, the plan in July is to make these contested areas “One big Fallujah”.

Time is clearly not on General Petraeus’ and President Bush’s side.  Signficant promise will need to be seen by late Summer in cleaning up Iraq, or it is not likely that the Congress Republicans will stand in line in support of the Iraq policy.

May 4, 2007

Survey USA Poll: Giuliani Beats Opponents in Debate

A poll of 317 viewers watching the debate were asked to rate the performance of the candidates:

Rudy Giuliani 30%
Mitt Romney 12%
John McCain 11%
Jim Gilmore 8%
Duncan Hunter 7%
Sam Brownback 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Tom Tancredo 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Tommy Thompson 2%

UPDATE: Drudge report is having an interactive poll, but it does allow for multiple voting, so pretty worthless.

The Debate: Who Won and Why?

You see the title; what is your answer. I will reply after I think.

Updated: Well I thought and I will now take out my teacher’s red pencil and give each a grade in no particular order.

Rep. Tom Tancredo – Looked frustrated at times. I think part of it is that his campaign is struggling for air, and the format hurt him as he tried desparately to get out his views and distinguish himself, particularly on immigration. I also think that people saw that frustration and it didn’t help. Grade D

Rep. Duncan Hunter – Was clear, concise, and strong in many of his answer. One area that may hurt him was he was the most aggressive on Iran, and to a country that is not at all happy with Iraq, showing this posturing towards another nation in the area, one that does make everyone nervous may hurt with many even among Hawks. His trade and pro-worker solutions were noteworthy. Grade B-

Mayor Rudy Giuiliani – He was strong on war on terror and framing himself in his model of Conservativism. The questions on abortion won’t help with the base, and will help him with those who are softer on pro-life/pro-choice. He stumbled on that area, but did make his case with his time as NYC Mayor. I still support him. Grade B-

Sen. John McCain – Anyone who said that he lacked vigor got the reply in spades, he was energetic, perhaps too much so, to the point of aggressiveness in tone and body language. He also really had a problem keeping to the time, and wasn’t held to the time limits strictly. He didn’t hurt himself, but I don’t think he helped himself too much. He came out fairly strongly against President Bush, with saying numerous times, “The war was mismanaged”. He seemed passionate and assertive, but perhaps too agressive. Grade C+

Gov. Mit Romney – Of all the candidates the former Bay State Governor stood out. I am not a big Romney fan, but if I had to declare an overall winner, it would be him. He was able to frame his “flip flop” on abortion, and gave a reason that was credible. He also was well versed on the issues and inviting. Grade A

Gov. Jim Gilmore – Did very well tonight too. He was able to state that he was the “consistent Conservative”. He also did well to elicit his positions. However, there are few moments that make him stand out, and he probably won’t see his coin rise. Grade B-

Gov. Tommy Thompson – Did very well on many areas, but there was one area that may hurt him, and that was the question about firing people due to their sexual practices. I also believe that there was a pause that would have allowed him to nuance his position, and his silence was pregnant. This will be picked up. I don’t know if this is a valid reason to terminate an employee in the private sector, other than religious organizations, such as a parochial school, which are exempt from such restrictions and understandably so. His Iraq solution is interesting and deserves a look. Grade B-

Sen. Sam Brownback – Made some good points tonight, and particularly in his stressing the need for the political process to have a more dominant role in the process. His stands on abortion will help only with those who don’t know him, as they are well known. He also held up his credos to the bases fondness of evangelical base. Overall he may have helped himself, but like so many in the second tier is so far behind. Grade B-

Rep. Ron Paul – Made his stand as the maverick in the field. He also came across as passionate, principled, and had a good wit. However, his views on foreign policy are going to hurt him in the end. As much as America may wish to go back to isolationism, that ship has sailed. He advocated himself well, but his views won’t hold. Hard to grade with this dynamic, but based on his performance, and not his substance B.

Gov. Mike Huckabee – He had some good moments, and probably the biggest yuck of the night with his joke concering “The Governator”. He came across as genuine but may have suffered from the format as his positions are hard to define from some of the others, and nuance of his stands may be lost in the shuffle. Grade B-

Overall big winner has to be Romney. He did very well, and being slotted first, by the draw helped him. I think the big loser was Tom Tancredo, and this is not a slight, but he seemed frustrated and this won’t give him much of a bump.

I think that the only shift will be Romney moving up, but the question is who will pay for this hike Giuliani – who probably won’t lose support, McCain or maybe the non-announced candidate, who will also miss South Carolina’s debate, Fred Thompson.

If I had to be like a reality show and only promote five I think these five will likely be in SC.

Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Rep. Hunter, and either Sen. Brownback or Gov. Huckabee.

Then again, I could be wrong.

May 3, 2007

Where You Stand Politically

So, you want to  know where you stand and how you can get that cool little icon like I have on my blog?

Well, just go to this site and take the quiz.  I would put no opinion if you are not sure about something.

Please post your results, and you get BIG TIME BONUS POINTS for reasonableness if you score Moderate, Conservative or Liberal!  I “hope” I have constructed a place where divergent views are allowed and where we gain from seeing each other’s perspective.  I also hope that sometimes someone will say, I see your point, or something like that.

So often politics are too personal, so maybe this would at least bring back agreeable discussion and dissent to the forefront.

I’m posting this on all topics to hopefully get maximum participation.

IF you wish to take the quiz it is here.

Thanks!

The Second String’s Positions on the Issues

UPDATED!!  Thanks for Feedback; I will add to the bios.

As promised I am listing the positions of the B List GOP Candidates for President. I expect tons of praise heaped upon me for providing this public service for you supporters of a “B List” candidate! IF you have information about these candidates PLEASE add them to the comments and I will update as I am able to do so. I always try to be fair.

I am not using the term as a perjurative, but any candidate at this point who is hovering near 1% in national polls may think they’re in the game, but unless things change radically, they aren’t.

Gov. Mike Huckabee I couldn’t find a Presidential site, opposes abortion rights, but respects rights as law, opposes same sex marriage, opposes Federal funding for medical care, favors privatization of Social Security, moderate towards school reform, strong anti-crime supporter, strongly supports gun ownership rights, favors path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, supports expanding free trade, no stated opinion on Patriot Act, favors strong military spending, supports anti-drug laws. Gov. Huckabee would be considered a Conservative/Centrist

Rep. Ron Paul (1988 Libertarian Party Candidate) favors lowering taxes, opposes free trade, opposes Iraq involvement, favors strong reform of immigration including fences, stronger enforcement of visa laws, no path to citizenship, no welfare for illegals, and end of birthright citizenship. opposes Patriot Act, opposes stem cell research funding, and is strongly anti-abortion, a fervent supporter of gun ownership rights, is opposed to drug laws, and is in favor of legalizing marijuana. Ron Paul would be considered a centrist/libertarian in the political view.

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Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) favors lowering taxes, favors Social Security Reform via partial privatization, favors change in energy policy (I would assume this is ethanol), opposes same sex marriage, very strong opponent of abortion, believes in human rights being placed to the forefront, strongly supports current Iraq policy, believes in strict constructionist judges, supports a new “Homestead Act” and agricultural reform, particularly towards ethanol production, stronger supporter of gun ownership rights, is strongly pro-business, supports tough drug laws, pro free trade, voted no on CFR, supports the Patriot Act, supports Guest Workers having a path to citizenship. Sam Brownback would be considered a Conservative/soft libertarian in the political spectrum.

Rep. Tom Tancredo Strongly supports “securing borders” and opposes “paths to citizenship”. Strongly supports gun ownership rights, Supports Iraq policy, supports flat tax, supports privatization of Social Security, supports school vouchers and opposes NCLB, supports market forces in agriculture with limited subsidies, supports limited spending of Federal government, strongly opposes abortion rights, opposes judicial activism, supports Federal Amendment to ban same sex marriage, supports The Patriot Act, supports business interests, supports current drug policy, has a mixed record regarding Free Trade. Rep. Tancredo would be considered a Conservative/Centrist.

Gov. Tommy Thompson Supports welfare reform, supports school choice, opposes partial birth abortion, supports stem cell research, fiscally Conservative – vetoed 255 spending bills as Gov. of Wisconsin, strong anti-crime record, supports war on drugs with treatment options, moderate on Energy policies, supports Free Trade, supports safe schools legislation, moderate supporter of gun ownership rights, moderate on public health issues, few statements regarding immigration. Thompson’s site has limited information, but based on his record as Governor he would be consdidered a Moderate/Centrist.

Rep. Duncan Hunter Strongly opposes abortion rights, opposes embryonic stem cell research, supports balanced budget amendments, concerned about eminent domain intrusions by SCOTUS, opposes same sex marriage, strongly supports gun ownership rights, supports “Conservative” justices, opposes hate crimes based on sexual orientation; feels current laws are sufficient, strongly supports war on drugs, supports moves to restrict gambling-particularly on internet, supports vouches and opposes NCLB, supports The Patriot Act, supports business, supports “Fair Trade” and generally opposed to “Free Trade”, strong pro-military voting record, strongly favors restriction towards immigration, favors some privatization of Social Security, supports Iraq policy. Rep. Hunter would be considered a Conservative/Centrist.

Gov. Jim Gilmore  Opposes abortion rights, opposes same sex marriage, strong anti-crime record, supports war on drugs, moderate on education issues, favors Social Security Reform, moderate support of Iraq policy, moderate on health issues, strong support of gun ownership rights, his statements had seemed to favor path to citizenship for illegal aliens, but recently has spoken strongly towards not allowing amnesty for illegal workers, supports increased military spending. Gov. Gilmore would be considered a Conservative/Populist.

 

By the way A Voice of Reason would be considered a Moderate/Centrist, but at times I do vary between Centrist/Populist.

IF you wish to take the quiz it is here.

Hint: If you are neutral I’d click no opinion.

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