Friday, September 02, 2005

The Not So Great Debate

Last month President Bush announced his support for the teaching of "Intelligent Design" alongside the theory of evolution in public schools, saying, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." As citizens of a democracy, Americans react well to the fairness of this argument. They think this is a perfectly reasonable compromise to the creationism versus evolution debate. I am writing this to try and convince people that this is not a reasonable compromise. I am not writing this as a democrat or a "loony liberal". I am writing this as a scientist with extensive exposure to several fields of science.
There are several points I wish to make about this. First and foremost, within the scientific community, THIS IS NOT A DEBATE. Evolution is as accepted as relativity or quantum mechanics. Of course, as there are people at physics conferences claiming to have found a hole in relativity, or invented a perpetual motion machine, there are occasional scientists who push for non-traditional biological theories. Since we are a peer mediated society, these scientists are politely listened to and then proven wrong. Non-scientists do not challenge theories like relativity because it poses no threat to them. However, to the average practicing Christian evolution is a direct affront to their faith. This is the true origin of this debate. So by keeping their ideas at the forefront of everyone's minds they are ensuring that we don't become a "Godless" society. But let me repeat, this is no debate. To scientists this is a non-issue. Teaching children that this is a valid debate within the scientific community is a misrepresentation of our community. Teaching that "Intelligent Design" is even a mildly acceptable scientific theory to potential future scientists is detrimental because it is effectively teaching students what a "theory" is and then giving them an incorrect example of one. It is the same thing as teaching students proper sentence structure and then as an example showing them a grammatical nightmare.
There is a student in my lab who is a proponent of ID. As lively discussions often ensue in the lab, this topic comes up quite frequently. In a moment of weakness I agreed to watch one of his DVD's on the subject. While the DVD masqueraded as science and could be convincing to many people who watch it, many things they state as fact are simply wrong. Their biggest argument, irreducible complexity, has indeed been proven false by evolutionists. Anyone who didn't know that would be convinced there is a major flaw in evolution.
I would also like to clarify a myth that is often perpetuated by supporters of ID: that scientists are heartless heathens that want to see God pronounced dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, a lot of us are atheists and very few are actually practicing a religion. The vast majority of scientists believe in a higher power though not necessarily in a traditional way. Our beliefs are often re-enforced by the beauty we uncover in nature and the simplicity and conciseness of physical law.
We also don't oppose organized religion in general. Only when it encroaches on our territory. Personally, I take a great interest in learning about different religions. How they're different, how they're not. I have no problem with teaching about Judeo-Christian creationism in public schools, as long as it is in a theology, philosophy or world religion class. And to please President Bush, expose them to different schools of thought. Discuss Judeo-Christian creationism alongside Buddhist creationism, Native American creationism, Hindu creationism and Muslim creationism. Somehow, I don't see that debate going quite as far.

18 comments:

Scott said...

Nice post, and I am affronted by the fact that anybody could put forth such rubbish is Intelligent Design. This is just ramming religion down the societies throat. I would think a scientist would work towards proving that there is a God, not to squash the rumors. I'm not a scientist, unless you can actually count computer programming as science, but it seems to me that the fact that all things can be mathematically calculated, that there is rhyme and reason to the universe, could very well be a sign of intelligent design of our very existence, and that evolution is a product of that system in which we operate. Scientists may very well one day be the reason that we can even begin to understand God, not the simplistic symbolism of the bible.

magnetbabe said...

Thank you Scott. You raise a very interesting point. A lot of scientists agree that if God does exist, the time before the Big Bang is where He did most of His work. Therefore, his existence cannot be proven with the physical laws we have today. This thinking allows us to not disprove God's existence, but have an agnostic point of view. This also gives an avenue for the belief in both evolution of life and intelligent design of the Universe as a whole (my personal belief). Clarification: this is MY PERSONAL BELIEF, NOT A SCIENTIFIC THEORY. The main problem is the refusal to open their eyes and look past an ancient text. If scientists one day prove the existence of God through the routes they are currently taking (viz. evolution and astrophysics) He will be more impressive than history speculates.

Jackie said...

As a Christian and a scientist (biologist) I have had the oppertunity to learn about creationism (ID) through the Church, as well as Evolution through many many lectures. I want to clarify something that I think many Christians, and Creationist in general get wrong.
The world "Evolution" has taken on a very negative meaning in today's "religous" communities and that is a big problem in this debate. People feel that as soon as the word 'evolution' is mentioned, God is taken out of the equation. When in reality, the word evolution does not mean, "evolved from slim in a godless way" but in contrast it means "change" and it is easily proven that evolution occures everyday. You put your hand on the stove, learn that it is hot, and CHANGE your ways, you EVOLOVE. A species of bacteria get "immune" to antibolics and evolves into something new. If many Christians, and ID people would stop and look closely, evolution is simpily a way for change to happen, and if you believe that God is behind that change, great, if not, that's ok too. But to completely take the word evolution and it's teachings out of the school system would be like taking triganometry out becuase "triangles are godless" which is completly wacky.

Anyway, thanks for bringing up this topic, and I just wanted to share my two sense, and say that if as a scientific community, we emphasized Evolution as a type of CHANGE, then maybe we could stop taking so much slack.

Just to mention my person belief, and take it how you want, I believe that God is behind the works that we see on Earth, but I believe that He uses Evolution as one of his many tools to get things done.

thanks, have a good one

DearOldDad said...

You’re pushing my buttons now. As a reply, I had a rant of my own that I was nearly finished writing when lo-and-behold, my old buddy Jeff (JC) came by last night with a bucket of wings from Shorty and Wags and a copy of that priceless weekly paper of satire, The Onion under his arm. Among the all too poignant headlines was this, "Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory." Here's the link to the story http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512. Without giving too much away, catch this quote from the article. "Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University. It goes on to talk about the new discipline of “evangelical physics.” It's razor sharp satire and leaves you not knowing whether you should laugh or cry. All I can add is welcome to our theocracy - and I wish I was kidding.

dancingo4 said...

Can you please add a new post? I don't understand this science deep thoughts. Can't we have more posts about pants? :-)

franklin said...

I was forwarded this blog, and I'd just like to comment as a Republican and as a political "scientist."

At the risk of pulling the veneer off of what is undoubtedly a very serious policy statement about our children's education - this statement was a political fop to the religious right, who undoubtedly like hearing this kind of stuff from the President of the United States.

However, you non "political" scientists have seemingly forgotten about that pesky U.S. House and U.S. Senate, whose responsibility it is to pass such ideas into law. Those people are accountable to voters in 2006, and I suspect that Intelligent Design will not replace Supreme Court nominations, alleviating the high gas prices and prosecuting the war in Iraq as legislative priorities - at least the ones NOT from Mississippi that want to get re-elected will do that.

So getting back - this is simply a political statement that people of a certain belief and voting propensity like to hear from a man on whose election they worked long hours. It's kind of like the way that, as a taxpayer, I like hearing that the President is going to cut my taxes, even though I know he doesn't have the power to do so by himself, and as an employee, that he wants to eliminate the failed program known as social security, and replace it with something that works. I like hearing these things even though I know that fixing social security is almost as likely as Intelligent Design becoming law of the land.

Anyway - good blog, very well written, and even as a Republican I tend to agree with the sentiment of it. Although I will say that simply mentioning ID as a belief engaged in by some (be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Other) isn't inherently harmful for our school-age children to hear in a classroom, and certainly doesn't violate the establishment clause.

Well, I'm off to the Hitler Youth rally. Catch ya later.

magnetbabe said...

jackie-
You are right. However, I think that for the most part if a creationist (not necessarily one with a biology degree) accepts any sort of evolution, they are forced to open up a can of worms they really don't want to. I don't think evolution is in danger of disappearing entirely from the curriculum, but when the pendulum swings too far to the right you never know...

dearolddad-
Thanks so much for the article. It gave me and some of my labmates a good laugh. The Onion, as usual with its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek, proved my point exctly.

dancingo4-
Cool your jets! I've been busy with classes starting, but I have a good post brewing that I'll write up after my first homework is due tomorrow.

Franklin-
Unfortunately, I agree with you that ID in schools will not be an issue in the next couple of elections. What is also sad but true about your statement is that Bush IS paying lip service to the people who got him elected. He is also propagating a complete lie (not the first...) by even implying this is an issue in the science community. As a result, even secular Americans who are not aware of this issue suddenly think it's a good idea to present "both sides" of the non-issue. I fully recognize that this issue will take a back seat to the war, social security, homeland security etc in politics but it's importnant to me because introducing these ideas in a science classroom would be disasterous for the future of the science community. I completely agree that young kids SHOULD be exposed to ALL world beliefs, but there is a place for it and the place in not in a science classroom.

Everybody- Thanks so much for weighing in and listening to my "deep thoughts." I promise something new (and lighter) very soon!

franklin said...

MB~

We can respectfully disagree on whether or not ID will be an issue in election '06. I think no.

My point isonly to suggest that the scientific community can justifiably reject the "theory" of Intelligent Design as a theory in the scientific sense, but you have little to worry about it actually happening in the real world. And more importantly, I think that many are taking Bush's bait by continuing to discuss the issue.

In the "sad but true" category, I don't think there is anything inherently "sad" about a politician making a political statement. The public demands it. If you haven't noticed, we are obsessed with political debate in this country. Look at the blogosphere!

Politicians do the bidding of those that elected them, isn't that the point? And for those keeping score at home, Bush's electorate is middle class, suburban, church-going, SUV-driving white people that care about their kids' schools.

When Bush makes public statements like this, he is talking to these people - not just to Pat Robertson.

Despite 5 years and three elections (2000, 2002, and 2004) worth of claims to the contrary, George W. Bush is an extremely gifted politician, with an extremely good knack at getting his political opponents to say really dumb things.

And when I say "dumb" I don't mean mispronouncing a word, I mean like doing the public equivalent of admitting he or she doesn't believe in God. And mark my words, there will be elected representatives that pounce on this deal, to their political doom. I'll bet you a coke that we can google the topic and quickly unearth about 5 without breaking an e-sweat.

I know it isn't as simple as believing in God or not - but voters have short attention spans, and unfortunate quotes have a way of coming back to haunt some candidates at the expense of others - that's politics, and like it or not, is the way the cookie crumbles.

I understand a scientist's desire to keep science and only science in the classroom, and that intelligent design doesn't count. But elections don't happen in the lab or the classroom (or for that matter, in the church). They take place in 30 second TV ads, and it's bad politics to diss God, the flag or public debate.

For now, though, I wouldn't worry about government schools actually allowing anything resembling a conservative point of view within 1000 feet of the doors to the ivory tower; "zero tolerance" will see to that! ;-)

Franklin out.

magnetbabe said...

Franklin-
I think you misread my statement. We do agree that ID will not come up in the next election. There are too many other disasters that need to be addressed first. As far as a politician making a political statement, go right ahead as long as its true.
This is rarely the case as money comes before truth. Math and science are subjects in schools where it's okay to not understand it, you never use it in the real world, right? The dumbing down of our society has resulted in a steady decline Americans making up the best scientists in the world. Teaching ID in schools might not happen soon, but if this trends continues, it will. And the issue of lowering our educational standards in schools is not a problem as much as its a symptom of a greater problem. I didn't write this post as a forum for polical debate, as I said I wrote it as a scientist, not a liberal. But I can't not address some of your political views. For the record, Bush is not a gifted politician. It is the Republican party pulling the strings that is gifted enough to spin stories of extreme failure on his part into triumph. This gift may have been overextended as is evidenced in Bush's plumeting approval rating. I am not a politician, all I know is what I see and what I read. I know that we will never agree on these issues, which is why I didn't want to make this post political, I wanted to make it informative.

Lastly, I love God, but I would prefer if he would stay out of the White House.

franklin said...

MB~

I'm of the belief that every time a statement is made about a politician, (Bush shouldn't do this, Clinton should have done that), it is instantly political, and debate must ensue. I don't believe it is possible to remove your ideological hat, since your political worldview shades how you look at every decision made by a politician.

I enjoyed our back-and-forth, and hope to continue someday in another forum!

Anonymous said...

Franklin:

Since we are identifying ourselves by labels at the start of each comment, I will begin by saying I am a:

Lesbian – Do not treat me as a second class citizen or limit my civil rights simply because I am attracted to and love women.
Scientist – Do tell me to teach fiction, however strongly you believe in it, in my science classroom and do not limit my funding for research because it is theoretically against your ideals.
Liberal (speaks for itself)
Jew (yes, I do believe in a Higher Being)

You might wonder how I can live under all four of those labels, as they are rarely brought together. It might become clear as I refute some of your statements. Let me apologize in advance that I will not have time to address everything, in detail, as I would wish to do, as I am at work and only have a few minutes.

Let’s get started:

First of all, it is never funny and never will be funny to mention Hitler Youth rallies. Your statement was offensive on more levels than I am willing to illustrate in this forum.

”You non-political scientists have seemingly forgotten about that pesky U.S. House and U.S. Senate, whose responsibility it is to pass such ideas into law.” - The U.S. House and the U.S. Senate both have a Republican majority at this time. Republican politicians, our fair president included, bring the religious right agenda into the news whenever they face criticism about how they are running the country. This political maneuver takes the attention off of the reason they are facing criticism and makes their narrow-minded constituents momentarily happy. This is the reason why we know the president’s standpoint on gay marriage, abortion, ID, etc… His standpoint on these issues are not based on equality, civil rights, or unbiased education (as they constitutionally should be) but they are based on his belief in a piece of fiction called the Bible (and what happened to separation of Church and State as it falls under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights?). So no, ID will not completely replace “Supreme Court nominations, alleviating the high gas prices [or] the war in Iraq as legislative priorities” but it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The president and his supporters will continue using religious right agenda issues to detract the attention of the American people from how they are running this country.

“I like hearing that the President is going to cut my taxes, even though I know he doesn’t have the power to do so by himself, and as an employee, that he wants to eliminate the failed program known as social security…” So you are saying that you like a President to feed you pipe-dreams instead of information about things he can actually accomplish? This president is only going to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Social Security was a great idea when it was initially started. However, the level of population growth and inflation were not properly taken into account at that time. So yes, Social Security needs help but I don’t think Mr. Bush has the needs of people who rely on Social Security at heart. The plans he has (so far) disclosed for revamping Social Security will not help the people who need it most. Those plans will plunge the already low-income Americans below the poverty line. He needs to be reminded that he has a responsibility to all Americans not just the wealthy, white, heterosexual, Christian males of this Nation.

“mentioning ID as a belief engaged in by some (be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Other) isn’t inherently harmful for our school-age children to hear in a classroom and certainly doesn’t violate the establishment clause” You sir, obviously do not spend much time or energy around school age children or inside modern day classrooms. Children absorb everything around them. However, they rarely take the time to filter this information through their own minds because they trust their sources (“responsible” adults). ID is harmful to future scientists if taught coupled with evolution theory, as detailed by Magnetbabe in her original post on the topic. If ID must be taught, teach it as part of a philosophy course where it belongs.

Will ID be an issue in the 2006 election? Probably not, but that is not to say other aspects of the religious right agenda will not be relevant issues left up to debate at that time.

“My point is only to suggest that the scientific community can justifiably reject the "theory" of Intelligent Design as a theory in the scientific sense, but you have little to worry about it actually happening in the real world.” As long as we have religious freakin’ fanatics in politics, we will always have to worry about their ideas being integrated into the real world. Why do you think Bush fought for so long to deny scientists stem cell research funding? Why are so many Americans on edge about the Supreme Court nominations (Roe v. Wade could be overturned… among other issues)?

“Despite 5 years and three elections (2000, 2002, and 2004) worth of claims to the contrary, George W. Bush is an extremely gifted politician.” I am not refuting this even though I despise the fact that he was re-elected. However, I am curious as to your statement about the three elections. To my knowledge, Bush ran for the presidency in 2000 and 2004. The only election I can remember from 2002 that Bush might have been involved in was when his brother ran for Florida’s Governor’s seat. As I don’t think I understand, I would like you to clarify what you meant by the three elections. And Bush must be a political genius in order to get elected, then re-elected and still do everything that he does to the detriment of the American people.

“[Bush has] an extremely good knack at getting his political opponents to say really dumb things. And when I say dumb, I don’t mean mispronouncing a word, I mean like doing the public equivalent of admitting he or she doesn’t believe in G-d. And mark my words, there will be elected representatives that pounce on this deal, to their political doom.” To my knowledge (although I will try googling this in order to prove you wrong for a coke), Bush has never gotten a political opponent to say that he or she does not believe in G-d. He has gotten them to admit they believe in separation between church and state. He has gotten them to admit that they believe in rights and issues that are against Christian teachings (i.e. gay rights, equal rights, abortion… pick a buzz word, any will do at this point). It is political suicide to admit you do not believe in G-d which is why you will never hear those words come out of a politician’s mouth. However, Bush must have a task force of very intelligent people working under him that create spins on everything his opponents say because he certainly isn’t intelligent enough to do so himself.

You are correct in your statement that most voters have short attention spans. This is unfortunate. Most voters will make their decisions based on 30 second ads of carefully chosen quotes, not on the actual content of speeches, debates, or writings. If you took the time to read transcripts of Bush’s debates, you will discover he never answers the question he is asked and he cannot ‘find a coherent sentence with both hands and a flashlight’.


“For now, though, I wouldn’t worry about government schools actually allowing anything resembling a conservative point of view within 1000 feet of the doors to the ivory tower.” We have many other things to worry about: the war in Iraq (my favorite bumper sticker says “when Clinton lied, no one died”), the economy, the hurricane victims, the gas prices, the Supreme Court nominations. This is a time to work hard and educate ourselves those around us, while we wait (a little impatiently) for the next election year.

franklin said...

Anonymous:

Didn't want you to think that I wouldn't respond to your statements - I responded to a political discussion (sorry Magnetbabe, but it was a political discussion) from the perspective of a political professional that happens to be republican. Despite the obvious values that implies (don't assume I'm of the religious right, or that most Republicans endorse their perspectives), I consider my comments to be a relatively dispassionate dissection of the issue at hand, rather than an endorsement of said issue, or its alternative.

I'm a Republican, but I think I can benefit from a healthy, vigorous back-and-forth - I think everyone can, if we keep it to issues and didn't confuse a disagreement on policy directions with a personal assault. Part of the reason that Democrats lost elections in 2000, 2002, and 2004 was because they confused those two things, to their own peril.

And, part of the reason that Republicans have begun to become corrupt with power is because the loyal opposition is a shell of its former self, unable to offer a coherent counterpoint to a Republican agenda that is hardly overwhelming. This is partly due to some Democrats' decision to place an entire political party within the context of a gigantic orgy of hatred for George W. Bush. People don't aren't motivated by hatred and spite, and negativism. We may be inspired to action by those things, but we decide to vote FOR someone, not against someone. Another recent example might be the failure of the GOP to depose Bill Clinton, but we learned from our mistakes in 1996 and 1998, and largely jettisoned our own versions of Michael Moore and Howard Dean. We got rid of our wackos - have you heard from Pat Buchanan lately, and have you noticed any prominent Republican publicly appearing with Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the last 10 years?

By the way, 2002 was a Congressional and Gubernatorial election, as 2006 will be - Bush, while not on the ballot, was actively campaigining for the Republican ticket, and their national victories in '02 were essentially because Bush made the election into a referendum on his policies, and actively campaigned in targeted states, including Florida...and Minnesota.

I don't care that you're a liberal, lesbian, jewish scientist. Labels don't mean a lick to me, becuase I despise identity politics. I have loved ones that are straight, lesbian, liberal, conservative, jewish, mormon, muslim, and even an Iowan or two. They are all remarkably diverse in their political opinions, and personalities and we can respectfully debate. Dividing into tribes based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, class or otherwise doesn't do anything for me, and never will. We can be different people and still all be in this thing together. All that said, in an campaign I probably wouldn't categorize you as a "swing" voter.

Anyway, Magnetbabe has made it clear she doesn't welcome this particular political discussion to continue within the context of her blog, but I am more than happy to continue it elsewhere, since I like this stuff enough to make a career out of it, and am always willing to debate...respectfully.

Email me at abcfranklin@hotmail.com and we can continue there out of respect to the blog owner. I know we don't know each other, but I think you'll find I'm a pretty decent guy, despite the fact that I'm a straight, white, conservative Catholic non-scientist. ;)

magnetbabe said...

Ok. My turn again. It really isn't that I don't want people discussing politics on my blog. I just know from experience that things like this can turn ugly very fast, rarely with the outcome of changing people's minds. However, now that this can of worms has been opened, I think I should defend my political stance a little more. I know that this post was taking a stab at political policy, what I was trying to avoid was a discussion on the war, the hurricane etc. Those debates usually erupt into name calling. For the most part I'm seeing civility which a good sign.
I used to be a moderate. Like most of the liberals I know now, I was driven even further to the left by the polarity of politics right now. I think having such a conservative president has literally driven a chasm into this country. Never before have we been so bitterly divided. I remember in 2000 when nobody saw much of a difference in the candidates. In 2004, it was a whole different story. There are still Republicans that maintain the fiscal conservative opinions but have lost respect for our president as a result many of his poor decisions (for the record, my boyfriend is one of those people). I lose respect for the Republicans who agree with our President, a man who openly endorses discrimination against homosexuals, talks about taking away women's rights and stands in the way of important scientific research through the promise of stem cells. Anonymous is one of my best friends (sorry, anonymous, the lesbian-Jewish-scientist sorta gives you away) and I will never support a candidate that treats me, her or anyone else like 2nd class citizens. Franklin, you say that hatred and anger don't cause people to vote one way or another, but for those of us who feel alienated by our government, we have no choice. I wasn't that thrilled with John Kerry, but I sure as hell was not going to endorse Bush again. That's negativism for you. Today's warped, mutant Republican party does turn policy into personal assault when they try to make policies that would prevent a good friend from marrying the love of her life. In today’s politics, there is no decoupling policy with personalism. If there were, I might still be a moderate. I'm not saying Democrats offer much in terms of answers to a lot of social security or foreign policy. It’s easy to judge when you’re not in the hot seat. I just hope our next president fares better. I might be griping just as much when Hilary takes the White House in '08 *wink* but for many of us it is the social aspect of politics right now that is most important.

franklin said...

OK, now that we can talk politics, I'll refrain from discussing the war or the hurricane so that we don't devolve into name calling.

I won't get into the politics of sexuality other than to say I can't remember a prominent Democrat rushing to propose a national policy that says that a gay or lesbian couple can be married legally. Why, even the late Paul Wellstone (D-MN) voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal ban on gay marriages, which was SIGNED INTO LAW by President William Jefferson Clinton (D-AR). I don't remember this much caterwauling aimed at Clinton, let alone at Wellstone...and their discrimination was not only an idea - it became law.

Back to tactics and dispassionate analysis thereof - I feel as if my well-intended political advice to likewise well-intentioned liberals has fallen on deaf ears. After decrying ad hominem attacks, the only thing we are talking about when it comes down to it is that liberals hate George W. Bush. My theory is this: because liberals hate George W. Bush, and they feel the burning desire to let everyone know they hate George W. Bush, he wins election, after election, after election. This is the political equivalence of when Robertson, Buchanan, and Jerry Falwell could credibly claim to represent the Republican party. Honest-to-God moderates couldn't vote for Dole, or a GOP candidate for another office, as long as the nutbags had the keys to our party organization.

Face the facts - Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean have created a fantasy world in which George W. Bush gains power through judicial fiat, manufactures an illegal war in order that his oil cartel buddies profit off the backs of hurricane-stricken minorities. (whoops...I mentioned the hurricane).

This message motivates and inspires a significant minority of voters in this country, because to them it is the truth.

So much so, that more money was raised, and more votes were cast in 2004 than in any other Presidential election in history. An election in which George Bush was eminently beatable, but received 51% of the vote (48% to Kerry), a sizeable majority.

This happened in part because the opposition to Bush was so focused on itself, that it became impossible for true moderates to buy in to John Kerry. In essence, Bush was never in trouble during 2004, simply because the opposition was so irrationally misguided that they lost touch with reality. Cindy Sheehan, and the August story that surrounded her crusade, was the latest incarnation of this impractical and politically illiterate behavior.

I say this not to re-fight finished battles, but to offer suggestions as to how we can best proceed with future political disagreements. Contrary to the fashionable diagnosis of American politics, we are not a red/blue country. 30% are conservatives and will vote for the Republican. 20% are liberals and will vote for the Democrat. The other 50% are "purple" people that could (and frequently do) go either way. But those people will not vote for the hysterical, paranoid, black-helicopter crowd, whether they are the religious right (c.1996) or the George Soros left (c.2004)

It's time to move on (pun intended) from worrying about George W. Bush. He's a lame duck President who has spent 5 years unable to advance many social policies despite Republican majorities in both Houses for most of that time. The end.

Let's look toward 2008, and President Giuliani (who, by the way, is pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion, pro-stem cell research, and anti-hurricane). I wonder what the ideologues on both sides will do about a candidate like that!?

magnetbabe said...

I never purported to be a democrat or to support the ideas Wellstone, Clinton, etc. I am a person who believes in equal rights for everybody and democrats seem to be closer to that realization right now than republicans. I invite you to prove me wrong. Only your statements that seem to be in favor of Bush fall on deaf ears. You are correct, liberals hate Bush and I think I gave you plenty of good reasons for that. As my original post stated, my reasons for hating Bush (which I didn’t come out and say) go above and beyond why everyday liberals hate him. He is an idiot. Plain and simple. He can not form coherent sentences. He is a direct threat to my job in many aspects. We have no funding right now. Anything that is not directly related to homeland security is not getting funded. Go to any science department on any university campus and you will find Bush-haters for this reason. Not full-fledged liberals, people who are worried they won’t have a job soon. Science funding was slowly recovering from the cold war until the war. Stem cell research is offering so many avenues for cures to diseases our generation will one day have to face. But Bush’s “lip service” to the religious right stands in the way. And talk about falling on deaf ears, most conservatives have no understanding of what stem cells are or how to acquire them nor do they care to listen.
I was listening to the news this morning, and they were saying that Bush’s approval rating was 42%, the lowest of any second term president the summer after re-election except for Richard Nixon. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this means 58% of Americans don’t approve of Bush right now, way more than the figure you quoted for staunch liberals, a figure that includes a sizeable chunk of purple people and even many republicans I suspect. Many liberals do not necessarily agree with Moore, Pelosi or Dean, they think the democratic party is getting hysterical rather than joining forces to try to stop remnants of this administration from carrying on to the next. Bush and his administration is more than a lame duck. They might not be able to advance social policies, despite holding the house and senate majorities, but they are harming many aspects of society. Since you did bring up the war AND the hurricane, I will only say that the mess in Iraq and the current mess in New Orleans are testament to the utter incompetence of this administration. I don’t know where the truth about Iraq lays but it sure as shit isn’t what Bush says it is. Even CNN, a mainstream news channel (no Fox news of course…) ran a special about the many blunders of the administration when trying to sell this war. Again, a war the American public isn’t buying.

Once the Republican Party redeems itself, I will listen to what they have to say. It would be indescribably refreshing if next election people ran who were some semblance of moderates. Truth be told I will listen to Giuliani, I would have listened to McCain had he not been battered by the religious right, I would even consider listening to Frist. If any of these people can show me intelligence and a willingness to conduct the government in a bipartisan fashion I will listen. I would love to actually have a decision to make.

gabrielle said...

A cursory exploration of the label "fringe"...
Cindy Sheehan is not fringe. She is quite simply a person who has made the choice to tap into her grief and anger to retrieve her voice. In doing so, she has inspired many of us who have felt paralyzed and overwhelmed to mobilize beyond our collective sense of futility.

As a direct result of his failed policies and his increasingly panicked efforts to camouflage them, Bush's ratings have plunged to a historical 39%...this in the context of a national landscape littered by inane reality shows, rampant consumerism and blatant censorship of visual images of the carnage of Iraq and Katerina.

In spite of the cultivated indifference and deliberate disenfranchisement of a significant sector of the American electorate, there is ample evidence to convince us that Bush did not win either election. He was installed in 2000 by his cronies in Florida and in 2004, Diebold made good on his promise to deliver the election to the NRP.
Unfortunately, it is not the Delays, the Buchanans or the Robertsons who constitute the most worrisome fanatical element of the Republican Party. Instead it is the Bush-Cheney-Rove triumvirate that poses the gravest danger to our democracy and the wellbeing of the planet. In 1991, an obscure public policy paper entitled "Defense Strategy for the 90's" was advanced by Cheney, Powell and Wolfowitz. It endorsed U.S. global domination via unilateral and preemptive action. At the time, it was dismissed as "fringe". In fact, Pat Buchanan critiqued it as potentially upsetting the global balance by giving our government a "blank check". Now we are witnessing this entrenched clique impose their private far-fetched vision on the world. Lest we misconstrue these developments as purely some brand of misguided ideological zealotry, observe the brazen profiteering that is enfolding in Katrina's wake. Halliburton's subsidiary KBR has procured a lucrative contract to rebuild the ravaged Louisiana coast. Bush has issued an executive order that will allow federal contractors to underpay workers helping in the reconstruction effort ( i.e. Halliburton is exempted from the provisions of Davis-Bacon requiring contractors to pay employees the prevailing wage of the region). Televangelist Pat Robertson's proprietary organization Operation Blessing (which exploited the Rwanda conflict to pilfer diamonds) has been listed by FEMA as 2nd after the Red Cross for donations for hurricane relief. Meanwhile, Exxon-Mobil is garnering unprecedented profits, reportedly four and one half million dollars per hour.

At the risk of being discredited as “fringe”, I see nothing wrong with having respectful and impassioned discussions about issues that so profoundly impact our lives and will leave an indelible legacy for generations to come. I wish discussions like this one were taking place in work places, schools, living rooms, churches, concert halls, etc. instead of the peculiar pall of silence that seems to have shrouded our national dialogue in this post 9/11 era of red alerts. It is the spirited exchange of ideas and the dissemination of information that is the lifeblood of any democratic society.

Hot4Teacha said...

Holy crap, you people are smart.

The mere mention of "Intelligent Design" set off the A-bomb in our science department at the high school where I teach. One hard-core creationist in a bunch of evolutionists...I'm glad I don't eat lunch with those guys. I hear it wasn't pretty.

And I'm with Manda...more pants postings please! :)

magnetbabe said...

gabrielle-
Where did you come from? I like you.

hot4teacha-
I indeed started this blog to keep people updated about my life, the funny little things that I forget to tell people when I only talk to them a few times a year. The ID debate has been on my mind a lot lately and I'm glad I wrote about it though even though the discussion has veered way off course. Gabrielle's right, if discussions like this were present in places other than obscure blogs, maybe we wouldn't be in so much trouble right now.