Wednesday, September 1, 2010

IN Touch: Electorate Ignorance (Update 1: Comments)

On August 23, I posted my sixteenth submission to The Indianapolis Stars IN Touch blog. That post was included in the print edition of The Star on August 25. My post generated several interesting comments and a follow-up letter to the editor printed on August 31, 2010. In this first of two posts, I’ll share some of those comments. In the second post, I’ll look at the letter to the editor. But first, go back and read my initial post so that this will make some sense.

Several comments were posted in response to my IN Touch post (for some reason, IN Touch posts generate far fewer comments than other editorials and letters to the editor; that may have something to do with those IN Touch posts being a bit harder to find on The Star’s website if you don’t know quite what you’re looking for). Note that typos are from the original comments.

Bryan Hudson:

Anyone with half a brain knows that the president is a Christian, not a Muslim. So what does that say about those who say he is a Muslim. Do these folk want to be taken seriously? If they run for office, who will vote for them? Will they get votes from minorities or law-abiding Muslims?

Do they care about having their votes? Certainly not!

There's just not enough birthers, "Muslimers," and Tea Partiers to become a victorious regional or national movement.

These folks get all excited and make a lot of noise, but thinking people, including sensible conservatives don't buy it.

It's little more than self- marginalization in my view.


I really don't care what President Obama's religon is. It is a non-issue. What I do care about are his policies and where he wants to take this country. Those are the things I object.

Mick Lee:

Anyone who pays attention knows those "truthers" who believe secret American government agences flew those planes into the World Trade Center and the Petagon do a lot of damage to the body politic. Those who repeat "Bush lied, Men died" over and over would rather sing a little rhyme than read their history. And those who say the Republicans are "the party of the rich" never have compared the donor lists between the Dem's and the GOP.

Spreading poltical untruths doesn't just mean people are too foolish to inform themselves. There are also those who use untruths for malace.

Keeping up with national politics and foreign affairs requires work and more than just taking notes two weeks before election day. It certainly takes more than reading the Star, watching Jon Stewart or listening to David Letterman.

It also means that the most idiotic "birther's" vote counts just as much as your well-considered ballot. Welcome to America, me Bucko. Don't like it? Yeah things are touch all over.



You're comparing the concept that Bush & co. led us into war on less-than-truthful information to the idea that Obama is a sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate? My God! They're not even on the same crazy-scale!

Yes, it may be a bit of a stretch to say that Bush intentionally lied (about WMDs, about Iraq's connections to al-Qaeda, about Iraq's pursuit of "yellow cake," about the imminence of a mushroom cloud) but it's far from looney to say that the administration bent the truth on the threat posed by Iraq.

On the other hand, claiming that Obama was born in Kenya, that he's a practicing Muslim, that his birth certificate is a fake. That's some crazy stuff! And it's endorsed by a solid core of conservative elected officials! This isn't fringe element fanatics... these are people who actually vote on bills.

Good try on moral equivalence but the right is working on a whole other level these days.

Master of Business Administration:

Anyone with half a brain knows that the president is a Christian, not a Muslim.... Yeah, but most Americans don't have half a brain these days. Americans are grossly overeducated in worthless general knowledge terms and essentially ignorant and uneducated in the things that count in life.

Mick Lee:

Jeremy: You will note that I said nothing about the question of Obama's religion. (For the record, I say that if Obama says he is a Christian I am inclined to take him at his word.) My comment was on the body of Mr. Wallack's essay concerning an electorate which does not educate itself.

We can go back and refight the whole belated "ramp up to war" debate and how those who claim Bush knew then what we know now are full of cr*p. Let's just note that those in Congress who are the cheerleaders for the "Bush lied" team were also among those who raced to be at the front of the saber rattlers before the war. They were privy to the very same intelligence that Bush and co. were. Likewise, I know a whole bunch of former "warmongers" who now claim they knew all along that America should have never gone to war and were against doing so from the very beginning.

"...solid core of conservative elected officials"? Really? Just who are these folk? A "solid core"? Just who are these nimrods you are talking about?

Conservatives generally fall into two responses to the whole "is Barak a born American?" brawl. The first gets annoyed whenever the question gets pointed in their direction. It is an "issue" not worth the time or effort to answer--and it is certainly not an issue they need to beat asorted Democrats in the Fall. The second step back in amusement at the Obama administration's hamfisted handling of the whole matter. It's a dumb issue; but it is fun watching Obama and company trip all over it.

Only liberals think and speak in terms of "moral equivalence".


Mick Lee:

Quick question: Why are you only "inclined" to take President Obama at his word with regard to his religion?



Per the run-up to the war in Iraq, my point is not that Bush lied, or whether his administration distorted (or even manufactured) evidence against Iraq. All I'm saying is that the theory of the Bush administration making a less-than-honest case for war is far more sane than claiming Obama is a Muslim Manchurian candidate.

As for the "solid core of conservative elected officials" who espouse Obama-related conspiracy theories:

Republicans who co-sponsored H.R. 1503 "Birther Bill": Bill Posey, Marsha Blackburn, Dan Burton, John Campbell, John Carter, Michael Conaway, John Culberson, Trent Franks, Louis Gohmert, Robert Goodlatte, Kenny Marchant, Randy Neugebauer, and Ted Poe.

Senator Richard Shelby reportedly said, "Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate."

Not to mention the 31 Arizona State congressmen who voted in favor of the Arizona version of the "Birther Bill" and those who are advancing similar bills in Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma.


It matters to me Michael, what a person believes in matter of faith (or the lack thereof) for the following reason: Everyone of us has a worldview. We see the world around us through a lens that is focused by what we believe. I believe man was created by God in his image, and life is sustained by Him. In other words, the only reason I am breathing is because he allows it. It shapes my decisions on right and wrong, on truth and lies, over what to do in most any situation. It is no different for someone with no faith in God, or a faith in (insert diety here). There is no Constitutional requirement on faith, nor should there be. But it matters to me. Not because I want him to think just like me, but because what he believes will shape his thoughts and actions. If there is confusion, it isn't due to my having a half or a whole brain, it's more that Obama talks the talk, but I don't see much in him to say "there is a Christian". If he were a Muslim, he hides it pretty well. But I doubt he is. What I believe is he is not much more than a politician. A snake oil salesman who has made millions convincing people they are being held back, they'll never get a fair shot, but he can help them. He will even the playing field, just need to send a check to the campaign office. It would explain the Rev. Wright's church. A big room full of prospective clients. He's a politician. He'll be whatever the room calls for, whatever the crowd needs him to be. Hence the confusion. He's not the great hope that he was advertised to be. As people figure that out, the attacks will come. The president has to have thick skin. Ask any one of them.

The first interesting thing to note (at least to me) is how Mick Lee quickly equates people who don’t believe that President Obama is a Christian to those who believed that President Bush had foreknowledge of 9/11 (so-called “truthers”) or who accused President Bush of lying about WMDs and other issues in the run up to the war in Iraq. Though the difference may be subtle, it is important. On one hand, people are questioning whether President Obama is who he says he is, which really goes to his right to be President and his motives (communist Muslim racist who hates America). In other words, the effort is to delegitimize the man. In the case of President Bush, the criticism wasn’t directed at the man, but rather, at his policies. The better comparison, I suppose, would be to think back and ask how many soldiers refused to believe that President Bush (rather than Al Gore) was the rightful President; how many lawsuits were filed (other than Bush v. Gore) challenging President Bush’s right to be President; and how many lawsuits were filed challenging Vice President Cheney’s right to serve as Vice President given that he was, for all intents and purposes, from the same state as President Bush (in contravention of the Constitution)? There is an important difference between challenging the man as opposed to challenging the policies.

Moreover, at least with regard to the Iraq War there is evidence to support the allegation that President Bush lied. Remember Valerie Plame? Remember the link between Iraq and al-Quaeda? There is no evidence, whatsoever, that President Obama is a Muslim. And again, even if he was, so what? But is that so what the same with regard to taking the nation to war? I don’t think so.

Jeremy hit these observations on the head and was precisely right when he called out Mick Lee’s attempt at moral equivalence. The further dialogue between Mick Lee and Jeremy (with my query tossed in) is, I think, somewhat demonstrative of the issues. But note that Mick Lee never does get around to discussing the principal point to which my post was actually addressed.

Then look at this phrase from Master of Business Administration: “Americans are grossly overeducated in worthless general knowledge terms and essentially ignorant and uneducated in the things that count in life.” In other words, liberal arts knowledge is useless; instead we should all know how to hunt, fish, and farm? This is the sort of attack on the “liberal elite” that we saw during the 2008 campaign when people argued that Sarah Palin was more qualified than Barack Obama to be President. The notion that education is somehow a detriment is truly frightening.

I decided not to respond to Daniel because, frankly, it seemed pointless. But query this: How exactly is it logical to criticize President Obama for attending Rev. Wright’s church at the same time that you suggest (or are willing to even harbor a degree of suspicion) that President Obama is a Muslim? Which is it?

Anyway, in part two, I’ll look at that letter to the editor.

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