Dumbing Down the Electorate

I keep getting this feeling we are being hoodwinked. Fooled. Played like pawns in a game.

Look at the election headlines. It’s all about who’s daughter is pregnant, who is wearing a lapel flag pin, how many houses the candidate owns, and who they are getting money from.

What about the REAL issues that affect our daily lives? Is our tax money being used for abortions? Are we wasting hundreds of billions of dollars in a senseless war? Will our next job be for a cut in pay of 40% or and increase of 2%?  What’s the best solution to the Social Security program?

Who perpetrates this distraction? Who benefits from it?

Here are some (hopefully non-partisan) info sites:






~ by christianliberal on September 5, 2008.

6 Responses to “Dumbing Down the Electorate”

  1. Vince,

    Some sources that form my background for political commentary include: (on national security) books by Michael F. Scheuer, former CIA head of the Bin Laden unit and prominent critic of Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq. Also, Richard Clarke’s book “Against All Enemies.” Clarke was a Kerry supporter in the last election and a Bush critic as well as keen critic of Condi Rice his former boss. (So I read the critics of “my side.”) A good technical website is John Pike’s Global Security [http://www.globalsecurity.org/]

    I recently read (this year) Elizabeth Bumiller’s biography of Condoleezza Rice. Bumiller is a New York Times reporter and writes a mostly critical bio of Rice. I commented only briefly on Bumiller’s book on my blog, but actually I took extensive notes on the book at the time I read it. If I may say so, it’s very partisan.

    I also read a lot of Reagan literature. His memoir “An American Life,” which is wonderful and humane and not-very-well-known-to-his-critics apparently. Also, his letters and White House diaries now appear in excerpted editions and provide fascinating insights into his White House tenure, and particularly into the US-Soviet arms control talks.

    I read Woodward’s books on Bush. I read parts of Obama’s “Audacity of Hope,” but will admit I only browsed it. Read a little of Hillary’s “Living History” also — these last two at a time when the Dem nomination was still unsettled.

    On more general political topics, I’ve recently read most of Ann Coulter’s books after having really first learned about her from her critics at the Huffington Post. Coulter was not on my radar screen previous to my period of commenting at Huff. As far as I can discern, her critics don’t actually read her books though they see her on tv. (And I’m the opposite, having not seen very much of her on television.) Her books vary in quality. “Godless” is a wickly satiric, incisively and very intelligently argued book. Her critics would be wise to read it, as it would sharpen their ideas as well as their wit.

    My own professional expertise is in an entirely different field. I read in politics to be a better informed citizen. I try to read criticisms of views I hold as well as to read fellow partisans. I am trying to understand events of my own time, now merely stand back and “judge” them.

    Too many critics on either side act as though they possess a superior knowledge or a kind of crystal ball — as though certain right or moral courses of action are perfectly clear when they in fact they are not. In the war in Iraq, for instance, the US may have destabilized a region — or it may have introduced democracy into a part of the world that has never known it before. It’s really not knowable what the outcome will be — or what the outcome would have been had Saddam been allowed to stay in power.

    Thus Iraq is a highly debatable issue, yet you wouldn’t guess it by the sanctimonious tones people adopt to discuss the war. Since the war is a fait accompli now, it makes sense to try to shape (by which I mean influence) Iraq’s future in ways that benefit freedom for Iraq’s citizens and that promote US national security. That strikes me as just common sense. Toward that end, I think a gradual stand down of American troops is an absolute necessity — and that a sudden departure would bring disaster.

    The views of serious minded Americans of both parties are nuanced and don’t fit into the “sound bite” mentality of the media shrills. Blogging, I think, provides a wonderful new avenue for ordinary Americans to discuss their common polity. And that’s why I blog. I also blog because I want to sway my fellow citizens and do a small part to promote the candidate I support, John McCain.

    I have my views and make no apology for them. But I welcome dissenting views too. I’m a great believer in individuals — that the life decisions and ideas of individuals matter. That’s one reason I vote Republican. It’s the chief reason why I try to engage my critics one-on-one. I think it shows my critics respect. I take them seriously. At my site, all I ask is civility.

    Anyway, I got longwinded over here! Hope you don’t mind. Thank you for comments you’ve left at my post. (I’ve posted this comment over at my blog too.)


  2. […] I left these comments at Vince’s post “Dumbing Down the Electorate“ […]

  3. Ann, you are obviously well informed. I’ve seen Sheuers work, and as a CIA insider he really has authority. From what I can recall, he is quite displeased with the Bush shananigans. Woodward has a new book out on how Bush is spying on Al Maliki (among others). I have not yet read Bumillers’ work but hear a lot about it.

    If you’ve seen Ann Coulter on TV you would know she is almost as vicious and uninformed as I am, and I would prolly never read her.

    Well, with all that reading you must be well aware of the lies and distortions perpetrated on the American public to justify this war, so I wonder how, knowing that, you would continue to trust the war-hungry right wingers?

    This is an estimated $3 TRILLION dollar deception. What do you think of that?

    And surely, you must have an opinion on the illegal domestic spying. This is not your daddy’s wiretaps, where two men with clippers sneak into an office. This is splitters (electronic copying technology) that intercepts and records EVERY SINGLE communication (phone, email, cell-phone, web visits, and bank transactions) on every single American, WITHOUT court approval.
    How could any freedom-loving person support that? I dunno.
    See the Electronic Frontier Foundation for some scary documentation.

  4. […] For a good post on media conflicts concerning the 2008 election and links to sites about presidential candidates check out Christian Liberal’s blog post Dumbing Down the Electorate. […]

  5. Michael Scheurer rather severely criticized Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq (past tense); I am not aware what his views are about American options in Iraq now that the war has taken place.

    If the US is spying on the young Iraqi government, I think that’s prudent. One would almost assume that to be the case. What troubles me is reading about it in the news media. The leak bothers me, not the spying.

    I find a big difference between Coulter the writer and Coulter the speaker (to the extent I’m familiar with her speaking, which isn’t much). Obviously, however, one would have to read her book to encounter her arguments. You might find her “viscious.” She is definitely not “uninformed.”

    “Lie” is a word that’s tossed around a lot these days to characterize anything that a speaker disagrees with. Bush’s critics say he “lied” in regard to WMD in Iraq. It would be more accurate to say that US intelligence data was wrong, and the reason you don’t hear that argument being made on the Left is that obviously it takes some blame away from Bush since 1) the president isn’t an intelligence provider, he’s the user and 2) the same irroneous intelligence data was consistent with US policies in effect under Clinton, as well as with data collected by European governments. Also, one would have to acknowledge the huge challenges of collecting data from inside a brutal dictatorship and nuances of this sort are not popular with Bush’s critics or with the Democratic party in regard to their own foreign policy statements and promises. So, for instance Obama can make extremely naive statements such as: he’ll negotiate directly with Syria and his partisans accept it without the slightest qualms.

    You are correct that wiretaps being used to collect data inside the US are not at all like “your daddy’s wiretapping,” and that is precisely the point. When it was “our daddy’s wiretapping” 19 Al Quida operatives were able to successfully attack US targets, kill 3,000 people, and wreck temporary chaos on the American economy and way of life. So, I’m rather in favor of changing the manner of gathering data.

    However, your statement that “every single communication (phone, email, cell-phone, web visits, and bak transactions) on every single American, without court approval” is false. It is false on the very face of it since to have data of that magnitude is to have nothing at all. Critics of spying miss a very important aspect of spying, namely that too much data is as worthless as too little. When you have too much, you cannot find the significant from the insignificant which is exactly what happened in regard to 9/ll. The FBI was aware of Zacarias Moussaoui but was not able to link him to the plot to attack the World Trade Center when it was being planned.

    How does a freedom loving person support the Patriot Act? First off one should note that the persons who died on 9/11 had their freedom taken away. Secondly, as seems to get lost in the political sound-bites, Bush is not the author of the Patriot Act. Not merely because he is president and not a member of Congress, but also because he is not a professional in law enforcement or in intelligence. In the rhetoric that gets tossed around, one would think that the president does everything!

    Various professionals in the fields of intelligence, police work, electronic security are the ones who craft changes in laws governing spying. Much of what the law itself covers has to be kept secret, a daunting paradox, if the spying is to be effective. This fact also gets little appreciation on the left. Some facts about the current domestic spying apparatus in the US have become public in ways that help American enemies, which should worry us I think. But from what I have read about domestic spying (and I admit I haven’t read much) the systems in place gather large streams of data and look for patterns in data transmission. It would be rather like what Google does in monitoring what topics are hot on the Internet.

    It’s the broad categories of data that are monitored, not individual messages. The government looks for shifts in data that might be indicative of terrorist activity. It would be after they find what they believe to be a sign of terrorist activity in emails, phone records, etc. that they would get (or even need) court approval to look at specific documents.

    That’s how I understand it. It doesn’t bother me. If it doesn’t bother you that Google gathers tons of information about activity on the internet, I am surprised at your being alarmed by this.

    The point is, though, that spying has to get with changes in contemporary technology.

    I have a question for you: how could any freedom-loving person living in a free society with free elections develop such deep suspicions about his national government? No president has more than an 8 year shot at “change.” We have a lot of safety build into our way of life than has ever been enjoyed in any society on earth, and yet the Left-wing folks are downright paranoid.

    That, is what makes me stop and wonder.

    Best, annsnewfriend

  6. […] remark above replies to these comments of Christianliberal at his post called “Dumbing Down the Electorate,” where he had […]

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