Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 18 Apr 2015 04:32:54 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at princeshivamonkey Even Mediabistro saw it! See the response link. It makes theNew Yorker cartoon look like child's play : }Happy Go-Lucky Shiva Monkeys? Sat 19 Jul 2008 10:52:27 GMT+1 BK #16. "Meet the new boss,Same as the old boss..."The Who Sun 13 Jul 2008 17:23:53 GMT+1 rebwest As an evangelical, I can attest to the fact that Dobson is regarded as a firebrand by many of us, particularly after the recent incident with the NAE cited above. Environmentalism and fighting poverty have a Biblical "mandate" that the issues of abortion and gay rights don't, and to oppose these reforms led many of us to believe that Dobson is the one who is misinterpreting the Bible. In fact, I'd say that that has been the main issue in the decline of the political ambitions of social conservative. Many of us evangelicals are beginning to see that these movements have left the Bible behind them.In addition, many evangelicals vote on one sole issue-abortion, which we view as legal murder. Bush may have given on many points, but he appointed Justices that will not actively oppose abortion, and this, combined with abusing our patriotism and showing contempt for the poor, led many of us to believe that we have been used by the Republican party for it's own ends, and also that we will not obtain our social objectives through political means. In the end, I suppose a lot more of us are now willing " to give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's"-and realizing that that's how God would have it anyway Fri 27 Jun 2008 18:10:18 GMT+1 Aaron Michael Long Why did the evangelical vote disappear? Because for all Bush and Rove's promises to the social right, they delivered NOTHING. Two supreme court appointments and 6 years of Republican initiatives getting free rides through congress, and the GOP didn't so much as offer a head-fake toward legislation or appointments that the evangelical lobby has been campaigning for for decades.In other words, they've finally started to catch on that the movers in the Republican party couldn't care less about advancing their agenda, because in so doing, they'd lose their hold on this critical voting block.If the Republicans really cared about advancing conservative social policy, they'd have passed it seven years ago, when they cut the capital gains tax in HALF. The GOP is government by rich people, for rich people, and nothing else. Thu 26 Jun 2008 12:46:25 GMT+1 MagicKirin I think this artcile is too simplistic. Most americans can not be classified into Conservative or liberal. As an example McCain has a conservative view on Arbortion, a moderate view on the environment and a liberal view on the immigration problem.Obama is primarily liberal but then he is an idelougue despite the sheeps clothing. Thu 26 Jun 2008 08:09:52 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #76 SalemDesignI like and agree with the thrust of your post.Unfortunately, as the campaign has progressed, Obama has shown himself to be little different from the "standard" politicians we have come to know in the past. He, too, has completely backtracked on issues of principle in order to pander to interest groups - most notably his complete abandonment of a year ago commitment to support a more "evenhanded" approach to the Isr/Pal problems: he completely caved to AIPAC in his recent speech to them. There are numerous other examples of his pandering to interest groups.While you may be correct that ". . . we are finally ready to vote for a politician who tells us what we *need* to hear...", we still don't have any of those running in this election. (Possible exceptions in some third-party candidates who I have not yet evaluated.)Sadly, this election, once again, is merely a lesser-evil choice. Wed 25 Jun 2008 21:06:01 GMT+1 SalemDesign Maybe I am wrong but I think more and more Americans (both liberal and conservative) are looking for integrity... And they are willing to compromise a bit on issues if they think the candidate is a man or women who is genuinely trying to do the right thing for the country.McCain (and Hillary), to me, represent the old school of pandering politics... Telling each audience and constituency what you think they want to hear... Hillary talks to an Israeli lobbying group and tells them she's going to move the embassy to Jerusalem... John tells the oil lobbyists he's in favor of offshore drilling and hedge fund managers they shouldn't pay taxes. I don't think he really is in favor of either but he needs their money.When McCain was running against GW in 2000, he said he was opposed to the religious right... Now that he needs them he is trying to cozy up to them. Not unnaturally, they are looking a bit squeamish.He might actually be better off if he said, "Hey, I am not born again... I do believe in evolution... And I think some of the stuff you guys are into is a bit squirrely... But I am more conservative than my opponent and here's the issues where I do agree with you."That frankness was something I rather liked in Huckabee. He's a creationist and a right wing religious nut but, to me, he showed more integrity and a lot more humor than any of other Republicans.For too long, Americans on both the right and left have voted for politicians that told them what they wanted to hear. Maybe we are finally ready to vote for a politician who tells us what we *need* to hear... Wed 25 Jun 2008 20:10:25 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #72 RalphMa". . . hiring quality individuals in certain industries is impossible without being able to reach overseas. Sorry, but American math and science education doesn't cut it nowadays, and that's the underlying problem that needs fixing."No one on this blog has spoken against the _concept_ under which the H1B program was sold, which is to obtain qualified foreign workers when qualified Americans cannot be found to fill the job. The objection is related to the wording of the law as passed and its implementation, which actually rewards business for eliminating jobs of qualified US workers by replacing them with generally lower-paid foreign workers.You are spot-on in your comment about the quality (actually lack thereof) of the US educational system. Over many decades, the system as a whole has expended most of the available resources catering to the needs of under-achievers (for many different reasons) and relegating the actual education function to a much lower priority. In general, this applies to education at all levels, primary through university. Wed 25 Jun 2008 19:40:20 GMT+1 SaintDominick The H1B visa program was instituted in 1992 to satisfy business demands for qualified individuals in the computer and medical fields. The main beneficiaries, in addition to US industry, were recipients from India and, to a lesser extent, Eastern European and Asian countries. The number of H1B recipients was originally 65,000 and they were only allowed to remain in the USA for 3 years. The last ammendment in 2004 increased the number of recipients to 160,000 and their stay to 6 years, with the caveat that there is no effort to force them to return to their countries of origin after the 6 years are up and the cap has been consistently exceeded in recent years. Those that denigrate the contributions of immigrants to our society should remember that some of the most prominent minds in our history, such as Einstein and Werner Von Braun, were not born in the USA. Wed 25 Jun 2008 19:33:28 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart This post has been Removed Wed 25 Jun 2008 19:18:45 GMT+1 RalphMa Thanks everyone for the thoughtful discussion; I would only note that religious affiliation is not the same as spirituality; that social conservatism is itself an attempt to "engineer" a moral society, though by different means; and that, being for smaller government and more freedom, I am not a liberal or Democrat (though I am open to persuasion on that point).I have to speak in defense of H-1Bs though. I know from personal experience that hiring quality individuals in certain industries is impossible without being able to reach overseas. Sorry, but American math and science education doesn't cut it nowadays, and that's the underlying problem that needs fixing. Wed 25 Jun 2008 19:12:52 GMT+1 Scribesolomon I think, that the so-called "Social Conservatives" and the politicized religious right in the U.S are almost the same. Politicians of either party were not averse touse such a large chunk of the popular voteto their advantage in previous years. But the religious right which has been wrackedby scandals and unpopular stands on key issues feels its power waning. So, the tele evangelist in question wants to make thevoice of the religious right being heard andwhat does he imply? It is not worth votingfor any of the Presidential nominees-with aslant on McCain. In such a scenario what is the outcome-not that it is going to be heeded much-but depriving McCain of the votes which would otherwise go to him? Since McCain is not one who getscarried away by others, but is independentminded, I sincerely wish that the evangelist's call will fall on deaf ears and that Senator John McCain, the war hero, will emerge victorious in the Presidential elections and lead the U.S on to stability, peace and prosperity. Scribesolomon Wed 25 Jun 2008 18:50:05 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #68 jcjnyc"Social conservatives" . . . were cleverly courted by George Bush and the Republican Party for their votes. Bush traded absolutely nothing but promises for those votes, and did not deliver on a single one. . .I must disagree here. Bush and the Reps delivered on faith-based federal grants, additional restrictions on abortion, stem-cells, faith-based hiring in the Justice Department, birth-control related restrictions in foreign aid, strong federal support (via amicus briefs, etc.) for pro-religionists in court cases, strong support for creationism teaching with public money, federal funding for religious education, just to name a few.Religious conservatives may feel they didn't get enough from Bush and the Reps, but no one can say with a straight face that Bush didn't deliver one heck of a lot.Most of those who feel strongly that religion should be kept out of government (and vice-versa) consider these "gifts" to the religious conservatives to have been inappropriate, at the very least. Wed 25 Jun 2008 18:34:48 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #50 neil_a2"I think it is incorrect to blame the Republicans on this one."A quick search shows that you are correct.It was instituted at the behest of business interests in 1992, during a Dem administration and a Dem controlled congress.Support for this legislation has certainly been bi-partisan, as both sides of the aisle receive their share of "contributions", etc. from the business interests.I had only heard about the H1B provision in the late 90s (when Reps controlled congress) when numerous acquaintances started to experience job losses due to the provisions of this bill, thus my assignment of primary blame on the Repubs. I apologize for the error. Wed 25 Jun 2008 18:12:49 GMT+1 jcjnyc "Social conservatives" are just now realizing that they were cleverly courted by George Bush and the Republican Party for their votes. Bush traded absolutely nothing but promises for those votes, and did not deliver on a single one. It really was a brilliant stategy. Wed 25 Jun 2008 17:11:10 GMT+1 gunsandreligion neil_a2, #50: you're quite right about theRepublicans not being the only actors onthe H1-B stage. In a very small way(because there are so few engineers andbecause technical professionals are noteffectively organized), this is one of thereasons why Hillary took so much heatfor NAFTA.IMHO, NAFTA-gate was really a proxy for a wide swath of issues regarding the many waysin which highly skilled professions are beingexported, and those jobs are being replacedby low-paying, menial jobs.But, you are quite correct, the Dems are at leastas much to blame for the problem as the Repubs. Wed 25 Jun 2008 17:03:39 GMT+1 Ricter I agree with "NewEnglandDan". Also, I think the Social Conservatives have become less relevant because so much of the last 7+ years has gone so terribly wrong. We have a mess here and it not only shows up on the financial sheets, it shows up in schools, our ability to compete in a global economy and more recent evidence shows up in our physical health. Western Europeans (on average) are growing taller and stronger than Americans for the first time. They have access to quality health care at birth (and pre-natal). They have more holidays, so they are happier, less stressed. Quality of life in the US is dropping like a rock. We're too focused on "taxes" and we should be more focused on quality of life. Wed 25 Jun 2008 17:03:17 GMT+1 timohio Re: 19. PucksterJones:It's really not surprising that this survey finds such contradictions between religious belief and religious membership. A good part of the appeal of membership in a church is social. There is a joke among Episcopalians that "Wherever 4 or more of you shall gather together, there shall be a fifth." It doesn't translate well into liters, but you get the idea. Catholics go to the church in the parish in which they happen to live, but many Protestants shop around to find a church they feel comfortable in. This seems especially true of the more evangelical Protestants. But that comfort level may not have that much to do with doctrine. It may be a charismatic minister or a congenial congregation. And I agree with other writers here that the social conservatives have had political clout out of proportion to their numbers. The reason is that they have historically been single-issue voters. It didn't matter if a candidate's beliefs and policies were generally in line with their own; if that candidate was pro-abortion (or pro gay marriage, etc), they were willing to vote against him or her. It will be quite welcome if religious conservatives are indeed more willing to look at the big picture and not just one hot-button issue. Wed 25 Jun 2008 16:57:48 GMT+1 c_kenth They said Social Conservatism was dead after Barry Goldwater was destroyed in 1964. They said it was dead after Richard Nixon was impeached in '72. They said it was dead after Bill Clinton was elected '92. It's not going to die now. Social Conservatism keeps coming back because a lack of meritocracy in Liberal ideology. Yes, Obama's race matters far too much to too many people. But as long as the Democratic Party's core support comes from ethnic groups that have a 50% high school drop out rate, they will continue to fail. 50 years ago the Democrats could give the uneducated unionized factory job that put them in the middle class. Today those jobs have been shipped to low wage countries overseas. All the well intentioned anti-poverty programs and social reforms in the world will fail when applied to the unemployable. As long as Social Conservatives can keep pointing to those failures and the fear they engender, they will keep coming back. Wed 25 Jun 2008 16:56:48 GMT+1 SaintDominick I didn't realize there are PhDs in religious intolerance! As a former professor of Constitutional Law, Obama's views represent the core of our values and one of the most important reasons why thousands of Americans have given their lives to preserve throughout our history. What surprises me the most, however, is not Dr. Dobson's remarks but the fact that thousands of people listen to and follow the teachings of people like him. Wed 25 Jun 2008 16:52:28 GMT+1 AndreainNY I believe the social conservatives' strength lies in their balancing a shift left. Many Americans are not happy with America's direction, but they include people who believe there has been damage done to families as a result of single parents, lack of accountability in schools, etc.One popular "social conservative" right now is Bill Cosby, the former actor and comedian, who speaks out about the decline of Black families and promotes finishing school and not having babies until married. Wed 25 Jun 2008 16:44:17 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart Is Dobson's piece a sign of the death throes?, or simply of his own decline. An escapee from the "religious right" opines..."Dobson is one of the Evangelical religious right old guard. He's to the right what Nader is to the left. Like the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others Dobson has alienated as many evangelicals -- let alone moderate Christians -- as he's inspired. In fact, ever since he tried to get Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) fired last year Dobson has found himself painted into a reactionary corner. Many evangelicals still fear him and so won't denounce his posturing power-plays but they also despise him.Cizik is the future of evangelicalism. Dobson is the past. Cizik is a strong environmentalist advocate on the issue of global warming. Dobson tried to get the board of the National Association of Evangelicals to fire Cizik because of that fact. Dobson said that Cizik's environmental beliefs ran counter to what Dobson thought was in George Bush's best interests. He also said that the environment distracts from the favorite issues Dobson raises most of his funds on: abortion and gay bashing. But Dobson failed. The board of the NAE rejected Dobson's power play, for the same reason many evangelicals will reject his telling them how to vote this year. Dobson also failed in stopping John McCain (who failed to kiss Dobson's *ss sufficiently) from becoming the Republican nominee."Just for a sense of balance.;-)ed Wed 25 Jun 2008 16:34:14 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart Aw, shucks!, I reckon it's time for a visit to Obama countryObama in Rolling Stone"The Illinois senator's playlist contains these musicians, along with about 30 songs from Dylan and the singer's "Blood on the Tracks" album. Jazz legends Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker are also in the mix."Actually, one of my favorites during the political season is 'Maggie's Farm,'" Obama said of one of Dylan's tracks. "It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric."In the song, Dylan sings about trying be himself, "but everybody wants you to be just like them.""Sounds a lot like my own playlist...Peace to alled Wed 25 Jun 2008 15:44:48 GMT+1 NewEnglandDan I come from Massachusetts, which for much of the country serves as a social piñata when France isn’t handy. I’ve always wondered where the power of the “Social Conservatives” came from, and now I feel I know: Fear.The last two elections had the GOP playing the fear card at every opportunity. “Gay marriage will destroy The United States,”, “The Liberal Agenda will start the downfall of the country,” “The election of John Kerry would create a mushroom cloud over a United States city.” On they went.8 years later, where are we? The United States has a massive debt which limits our ability to react to national and international crises; Our military is stretched far too thin to effectively go after Bin Laden and Al Qaeda; Fuel costs show no signs of abating and are dragging more families into poverty; and worst of all, the international community is concerned about our leadership and our intent. All for a neo-con dream of a new world order. More of us have opened our eyes. True Christians in the US are offended by our lack of respect for life and the administrations “so what?” responses to the struggles of the middle-class, as well as tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and the mid-west flooding. It’s my hope that the election of Senator Obama will not only signal a change in our attitudes towards the world, but will help to change the world’s attitudes towards the US. Wed 25 Jun 2008 15:00:47 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart Click here, John. Wed 25 Jun 2008 14:40:12 GMT+1 Rob Incidentally - the Liberal party did not die either, they simply declined for a long time before merging with the SDP and forming the Lib Dems, who a few years ago had a genuine chance of at least beating the Tories into third in the general election. So they are not dead either. Poltical groups rarely die, they just change their priorities and sometimes shift and merge into new parties or movements. Wed 25 Jun 2008 14:34:21 GMT+1 Rob If social conservatism in the US is dead, then why are so many Americans likely to vote along racial lines for/against Obama? Why does McCain have to pander to evangelicals? Why do 90% or whatever it is of Americans say they wouldn't vote for someone who wasn't a Christian?Social conservatism in the US is not dead, it is simply not wielding the influence it did during Bush's two terms. Not because it has decreased in size or importance, but because of other factors.First, the Obama factor. Obama has his young liberal internet followers, millions of them, none of whom would have voted before and thus has decreased the proportion of the social conservatives as % of the population.Second, the Bush factor. Social conservaties are not tacked on to the Republican party for life, they are a non-party group that may switch to the Democrats if, as has happened, the Reps do a bad job. With more evangelicals etc likely to vote for the Democrats in this election their vote is split and they collectively wield less influence.To suggest they are 'dead' though is frankly not true, and, having read his blogs, I suspect a reflection of Justin Webb's own personal views about politics, which seem to be very anti-social conservatism. Wed 25 Jun 2008 14:31:52 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart Life imitating art?;-)ed Wed 25 Jun 2008 14:13:47 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart "John McCain is "aware of the internet"""it would be unfair for this incident to come to be known as the moment where people realized that McCain didn't know how to use a computer. That moment came last week, when John McCain yelled at Barack Obama for having a powerful social network of campaign donors who used the internet to create a new and innovative method of public campaign finance, while John McCain is stuck trying to raise money with a bundle of pointed sticks and some cave paint."An embarrassing moment, and another picture worth a thousand words click heremore picturesEnjoy,ed Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:54:09 GMT+1 watermanaquarius Ed.Thanks for the kind words. I was not sure how well bringing in a comparison using an idea by a "Prince Charlie" would sit with the thoughts of one who is now an adopted Scot.The Dobson thing though- a further good experience for Obama who must not only step over the blocks placed in his path but also avoid the straws that can trip him up as well. Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:45:48 GMT+1 AnonymousCalifornian James Dobson.... Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:36:22 GMT+1 AnonymousCalifornian Since when is social conservatism dead? You might argue that it's in decline, but it definitely is not dead. [Nor should it be: the United States--and the world--could use a strong moral compass.] (Boy are some BBC readers going to get into huffy about that comment....) Lou Dobson is not social conservatism, nor is he the leader of social conservatism. He's just a single man out of many. Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:30:41 GMT+1 neil_a2 Ah yes, #34. peterm99."Republicans/H-1B"?I think it is incorrect to blame the Republicans on this one.The US government instituted the "H-1B" to replace and discard American professionals, and created the "L-1B" so we can train others to take our professions and remaining industries overseas. It has destroyed hundreds of thousands professional, American careers, per year.Please note, however, it was signed into affect by the President in 1990's, and the quotas were severely increased in the late 90's. I explicitly recall that the President then was NOT Republican.Under the current administration, the quotas and scope for H-1B has been curtailed to much lower quotas and fewer industries.None-the-less, the damage has been done, and it has been severe. Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:19:24 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart "Dobson making stuff up", says Obama."Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane before landing in Los Angeles, Obama said the speech made the argument that people of faith, like himself, "try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us."Obama added, "I think you'll see that he was just making stuff up, maybe for his own purposes."In his program, Dobson focused on examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy. For instance, Obama said Leviticus suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination. Obama also cited Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.""I reckon the Sermon on the Mount is pure Lao TsuPeace to all,ed Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:19:23 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart The religious "center" responds:"James Dobson Doesn't Speak for Me"Excellent response.Salaaaaaam, etc.ed Wed 25 Jun 2008 13:13:32 GMT+1 neil_a2 "America has moved on and most Americans are actually rather happy-go-lucky when it comes to faith and interpretations of the Bible"It is funny what a little ethics and optimism can do.The Bible is a guideline like the lines in a road. We stay roughly within the lines, except when we turn. Wed 25 Jun 2008 12:57:46 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart Waterman,I second your remarks and observations, and shall thus refrain from being divisive. I'm glad to have gained some insight into the term "social conservative", which had previously thought might describe myself, but apparently not. Peter and G'nR, as usual, are perceptive and incisive.;-)edI do like Obama's words as quoted - a nation of all - true first amendment compatibility. Wed 25 Jun 2008 12:50:50 GMT+1 SaintDominick Dr. Dobson and all the other "agents of intolerance" would be well adviced to keep an eye on McCain who is, ostensibly, a bigger threat to the influence they exert on U.S. government policy-making than Obama. Obama's only "sin" was to suggest that all Americans, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, should be heard, respected, and represented by our government. Wed 25 Jun 2008 11:51:42 GMT+1 ScottMN I suspect the influence of the Social Conservatives was part of the Carl Rove era of politics; of not fighting elections in the centre, but of red and blue states and appealing to and motiving large demographic groups and getting them out to vote.Now with a return to politics as usual, the Social Conservatives are back to being a large and vocal interest group - but also a tricky one as their extremes don't appeal to the centre - a Huckabee is nationally unelectable. This leaves the very dificult balancing act that McCain is going through at the moment. I find it amusing that traditional candidates appealed to the extremists to get the nomination then ran to the centre once they had it to win the election.McCain instead won the nomination in the centre and then has tried to run to the right to shore up the party then will have to run back to the centre. Can it work? Most of the social conservative will vote for McCain but its probably a question of how many will vote and that will probably depend on whether Obama say something to really annoy them, or there are issues in other ballots that get them out. Wed 25 Jun 2008 09:54:03 GMT+1 watermanaquarius JustinYou are a wiley young bird eh. Wise old head on young shoulders.Some previous threads have left the bloggers here twiddling their thumbs, still very interested in Ed and Davids jousting with figures , language and delivery yet often going completly off topic because your copy led us down a dead end street. But not Today! You link the "death of social conservatism" with James Dobsons' defence of religion, and all replies are impressive, well thought out pieces where all reach commendation level.[ at least in my book]If I may list the offending sentence that appears to have got up Dobsons' nose:- "Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," Obama said in the speech. "And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?Does not this point encompassing an attempt at bringing together all sides in the USA have the same ring about it as another "prince" with big ears who suggested he should be "Defender of all Faiths" and not just "The Faith"? { Here may I state that Obama is not pushing to become "Royalty"]In Charles' defence Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said::- "The Queen came to the throne at a time when the Church of England was really the only Christian faith in the country. And there were no Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus around to be in any way evident in the life of the country. Now it's a completely different world, so the coronation oath would have to be looked at more critically.It's got to be a much more interfaith coronation service next time around. Prince Charles put his finger on it and there's no way in which the sovereign can be defender of one faith. Although I hope that the next coronation will say very firmly that Christianity is still the dominant faith of the United Kingdom... it's got to be a much more inclusive character."An ex schoolmate had however other ideas. The current Archbishop- Dr Rowan Williams reply :-"Prince Charles should stick to his duty to defend the Church of England when he becomes king. "Unless something really radical happens with the constitution, he is, like it or not, Defender of the Faith and he has a relationship with the Christian Church of a kind which he does not have with other faith communities."Since neither of these 2 clerics could ever be regarded as a "fallen follower"or the other a "religious fanatic" it goes to show how sensitive any remark made in this electoral process can be. In God we trust ! Yours and mine? Wed 25 Jun 2008 09:46:39 GMT+1 Candace9839 The conservatives are likely disappointed with Bush and do not see McCain representing their interests. Some evangelicals are even showing interest in Obama because of his faith. Bill Clinton backing Obama has to be a mixed blessing. He certainly lost some of his lustre from his tirades during his wife's campaign. Wed 25 Jun 2008 08:20:55 GMT+1 Mark Obama needs to be careful around religion and the bible, not because of his own beliefs but because that is the turf that the evangelists would like to fight him on with their own warped views about the history of that text and its contents. He just needs to say he is happy in his beliefs and answer in the language of Donne (No man is an island ... etc). He could easily use snippets from seventeenth century texts to support his vision of hope and at the same time appear religiously moderate and sensible, speaking about goodness and not the issues of the religious right. Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:55:18 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #34By way of clarification, the description of the H1B should in no way be construed as a disparagement of these "imported" workers.In general, just like the Americans they displace, they are well-educated, competent, hardworking, etc. - after all, the employers wouldn't want to hire them if they weren't.The point was intended only to illustrate one of the methods by which American workers lose their jobs due to government policies. Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:43:31 GMT+1 gunsandreligion BTW, if I can get this through, Carly Fiorinais probably the person who is least popularwith engineers in this country, and that'swhy it is so disturbing that McCain hasannounced that he is going to put her inher cabinet.I hope that her responsibilities are limited tomaking coffee. Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:30:08 GMT+1 gunsandreligion Apparently, the moderators do not like mycharacterizations of Silicon Valley politics(I was echoing pterm99's H1B views),so I'll just paraphrase here:An observer from another planet might visita major business center in the US and viewit the same way that a tourist visits a rain forest.A tourist might see a deer and some colorful birds,and wonder about how harmonious it appears.But, in fact, American society is fiercely competitive,and this is amplified in the business environment.We fight tooth and nail over every deal, and this is reflected to some extent by our politics.You Brits will find out all about this when youtry to hold on to that tanker contract. Then,you will realize that "The Old Man and the Sea"by Hemmingway was not a work of fiction. Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:25:32 GMT+1 David Cunard #34. peterm99 "it is primarily those who live in upper class or gated communities, send their kids to exclusive private schools, and/or otherwise don't experience the daily life of the hoi polloi who seem to support "social engineering . . ." - Now that sounds very much like Britain's "New" Labour Party! Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:14:17 GMT+1 gunsandreligion This post has been Removed Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:10:35 GMT+1 David Cunard #32 RalphMa - "America . . is much more closely aligned with Obama's spirituality than with Focus on the Family's." You really think so? (and that's not being sarcastic.) Catholics are the largest single denomination, a full quarter of the US population. Baptists and Methodists are immediately behind, and I wouldn't have thought that squared with the United Church of Christ, Mr Obama's preferred religious affiliation. Of course, now that he's resigned from Trinity CoC, perhaps there will be less emphasis on its teachings, but he can't afford to lose that overall vote. The coastal states may be more liberal, but there are a lot of "believers" in between.#33 G+R "There is a lot of anti-Bush feeling, and McCain is being hurt by that" - So who are they gonna vote for? Nader? Mr Obama (or his campaign) may not have to 'get' it, it could be handed to them with little effort. Wed 25 Jun 2008 07:09:58 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #33 gunsandreligion"The Democrats lost the public when theyextended this movement into "socialengineering,"Truly an excellent point that no one, to my recollection, has stated so succinctly before.It has been my observation that it is primarily those who live in upper class or gated communities, send their kids to exclusive private schools, and/or otherwise don't experience the daily life of the hoi polloi who seem to support "social engineering" most fervently. In other words, if one is immunized against the impacts of social engineering, it is fashionable to be a proponent thereof.Note that this also applies to Republican attempts at social engineering. For example, it is the affluent business leaders that most support ever-increasing numbers of H1Bs*** which cause middle-class job losses, not the Republican middle class or the conservative base.Both parties have attempted/are attempting various types of social engineering, and both will find "mainstream America" harder and harder to retain as party supporters, as evidenced in your next-to-last paragraph.***For those in the UK who may not be familiar with H1B: This is a visa classification which allows employers to hire foreign professional workers, e.g., engineers, scientists, computer programmers, etc., purportedly only if American workers cannot be hired to fill the jobs. The criteria for issuance of these visas are so lax, that there have been literally thousands upon thousands of instances where businesses have "imported" Indian engineers, for example, at a fraction of the pay of equivalent American engineers, only to lay off American engineers as fast as the Indian ones can be hired. Wed 25 Jun 2008 06:44:37 GMT+1 gunsandreligion RalphMa, here is where I think that religiousconservatives and liberals diverge - on theissue of social justice.In the 1960's (in the US) it was the (social) liberals who went down south and joined the civil rights movement. The social conservativesheld the opinion that God supported thestatus quo.The Democrats lost the public when theyextended this movement into "socialengineering," "great society" typewelfare state policies. They weren't ableto realize that while Americans were(and, I would postulate, are) socially liberal,they are financially conservative.That is, we are perfectly willing to givea chance to someone who looks differentthan us, but we are not inviting them into our wallet. We have a saying,"Money is very democratic, you spendyours the way you want, and I'll spendmine the way I want."(Bill) Clinton was the first democrat torecognize this seeming inconsistency.His wife, by my measure, does not,and people like Geraldine Ferraro do notinspire awe among us.Now, I know that there are die-hardDemocrats on this blog, and I wantto let you down gently. All of yourpolling which shows a shift to theDemocratic party is wrong. Thereis a lot of anti-Bush feeling, andMcCain is being hurt by that,but more people identify themselvesas non-partisan than at any time inthe past.It will be interesting to see if Obamacan understand this. He seems likea really smart guy, perhaps he "gets" it. Wed 25 Jun 2008 05:21:19 GMT+1 RalphMa By the way, this Dobson affair is a winning issue for Obama. America (in the aggregate) is much more closely aligned with Obama's spirituality than with Focus on the Family's. Considering that he and other Christo-fascists have been on the losing side of every social debate of the last 3 decades -- from school prayer to abortion to gay marriage -- I can't think of a better foe for Democrats to have, other than possibly Pat Robertson. Wed 25 Jun 2008 04:41:04 GMT+1 RalphMa I think there are several interrelated things going on her; other commenters above have astutely described most of them. First, there is a gradual shift in attitudes in America.... The ideas of prohibiting abortions, promoting abstinence, cracking down on the most minor drug infractions, restricting gay rights, teaching creationism, etc. are increasingly viewed as extreme or weird. What's driving this? Urbanization, focus on economic concerns, hypocrisy of religious leaders, generational rebellion that started with the baby boomers, the Internet, and more.It's too bad in a way -- morality and the social fabric are important to a healthy society. But social conservative leaders -- clergy (eg Catholic priest-molesters, Ted Haggard), politicians (eg Larry Craig, David Vitter), even talk-show hosts (eg Limbaugh) -- having brought scandal after scandal upon themselves, are in no position to preach anymore.Within the Republican party, there has always been a natural tension between social and economic conservatives. Usually, the only conflicts between them are over which issues to prioritize but they otherwise stay out of each other's way. During the 1990s there were even some attempts (eg by Rabbi Daniel Lapin) to describe the rise of modern capitalism and the economic dominance of Western civilization as a natural outgrowth of Judeo-Christian morality. The economic dislocations of the past few years have been so extreme, however, that I think social conservatives are starting to view capitalism as a foe again. But this is where social conservatism is best -- as a force for social justice. Wed 25 Jun 2008 04:31:01 GMT+1 C_Aurora The religious right will be back. They're sitting this election out because they know that the pendulum has swung back. It will be easy for them to take potshots at Pres. Obama. I suspect this was a deliberate decision of the leadership, which is the only way McCain was able to get the nomination. I live in a "red state", and the people around me are still very religious and very "conservative". There's a lot of disgust with Bush, but after 1-2 terms of Democratic presidents, they'll be back with the GOP.Also, note that none of these "red state" voters are actually going to vote for Obama. They're more likely to stay home or cast a protest vote. Wed 25 Jun 2008 04:29:59 GMT+1 OldSouth Dear Mr. Webb: The social conservatives haven't disappeared, but they are definitely disorganized.Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, two of the great lions of the Christian Right, passed away recently, and no one has filled their shoes.Billy Graham is now aged and in ill health, and James Dobson and Pat Robertson are long in the tooth.A group of media businesses, publishing books, music, video, movies, etc., sprang up in the 1970's and 80's to sell to the conservative evangelical audience. What began as a noble effort soon degenerated into an 'anything for a buck' hucksterism, promoting personal well-being above all else. Those who pointed out that everything except Christian ethics were being promoted were not welcome in this world. The churches themselves degenerated, as they became increasingly focussed on 'meeting needs', or 'impacting culture', or 'relevance in a post-modern society'.President Bush campaigned actively to conservative evangelicals, especially in '04. Upon re-election, with a majority in both House and Senate, it became evident that neither he nor the Republicans had any intention of honoring their promises. The attempt in May 2007 to pass a massive immigration/amnesty bill without debate, just before the Memorial Day holiday, was the final straw for many.I could go on...but this might give a little insight. Wed 25 Jun 2008 03:52:40 GMT+1 allmymarbles Although it may not be politcally correct to say so, it is among the poor and ignorant that you tend to find the greatest religious fervor. I am not talking about a nebulous belief in a god, but a strong attachment to organized religion. As the country grows in sophistication, and has more contact with the outside world, these inflexible beliefs will be tempered. It is happening already. Wed 25 Jun 2008 03:37:25 GMT+1 gunsandreligion It would be interesting if someone wereto do some historical research and comparethe opinions of Americans of the 40's and50's vs now on social issues.Being a boomer myself, I can now interpretmy parents' generation as being sociallymore liberal than most Europeans mightrecognize, and I can see how one mightinterpret popular media as somehowbeing indicative of the mainstream ofUS society.It isn't. You're in for a big surpriseif you believe otherwise. If one looks at the postwar GI generation,and modern millenials, I'll bet that thereare no big differences in social attitudes.I'm not a Catholic, but I grew up withthem, and they really don't care whatthe Pope thinks. In fact, they wonderwhy there has never been an AmericanPope.Part of this is that Americans don't liketo be told what to do in the bedroom.But, there are other factors, such asthe creeping democratization of religion.TV preachers don't hold a lot of swayin most of the country, because peopledon't like to be told what to think.This is why the whole Republican attackon the Clintons in the 90's backfired.Most Americans don't really care whatgay people, politicians, or gay politiciansdo in the bedroom, as long as they dowhat's good for the country on the job. Wed 25 Jun 2008 03:17:01 GMT+1 Grrrlie Something weird's going on re: trying to get posted - again. WHAZZUP?!! Or is the blog turning into a private club? Would that be considered "antisocial blog-conservatism?" YUCK. Wed 25 Jun 2008 03:02:02 GMT+1 David Cunard Dr Dobson's speech may not in itself make a much difference, but across the Red states, he and similar ministries still have influence. The airwaves are dominated by right-wing talk shows and religious zealots who would never vote for Mr Obama. Dobson's programme is heard by some 1.5 million every day - and that's just one of them! In the first half of the 20th century there were those such as Aimee Semple McPherson and Charles Fuller's Old-Fashioned Revival Hour, the latter which was aired by 650 stations. Radio coverage by this type of programming has increased, complemented by those such as Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham and, as the late Hedda Hopper would have said, "a host of others." From sea to shining sea these broadcasters can be heard spreading the word, and it isn't for the Democrats. Even the Church of Rome has taken a stance, refusing communion to those who advocate abortion. It's far too easy to dismiss this segment of the electorate and listeners will continue to be influenced by James Dobson and others of his kind. Writing the obituary for social conservatism is premature. Wed 25 Jun 2008 01:43:13 GMT+1 gunsandreligion My own feeling (unjustified by any polls)is that if one defines social conservativesas being those that are very rigid in theirpositions on abortion, gay rights, etc,are really not that big a percentageof the electorate in the US, but that theyhave, from the 80's until very recentlybeen able to influence politics out ofproportion to their numbers.It will be interesting to see if theirinfluence starts to wane from this pointon. Most Americans are actually sociallyliberal and financially conservative. Wed 25 Jun 2008 01:23:04 GMT+1 AndreainNY I wouldn't write the obituary of social conservatism just yet. They haven't gone anywhere. Maybe they're just trying to figure out how bad things will be if Obama is elected. This may leave them unable to even speak.;) Wed 25 Jun 2008 01:18:32 GMT+1 TexanBenjamin Social Conservatism isn't dead. It is just divided. You have the hardliners who only care about gay marriage and abortion, and you have a newer movement which cares about poverty, AIDS, victims of war and genocide, and the environment. This division in the social conservatism movement reduces their power. Hardliners, like James Dobson, will only find gay marriage and abortion as the main issue and they will only vote for Republicans. The newer and younger social conservatives see the issue abortion and gay marriage as important but not the first priority. The newer social conservatives are divided between Republicans and Democrats, and many of them are find Barack Obama attractive since he finds many of there views, like global warming, as important. Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:48:26 GMT+1 Ed Iglehart And the re-birth of Liberalism??"Extensive studies of past elections by scholars show that there is an ebb and flow in patterns of partisan dominance, periods during which a majority of the public is inclined -- not guaranteed -- to vote for the more liberal Democratic Party, and then shift back to the more conservative Republican Party.These cyclical shifts do not assure the election of a president of one party or the other, but they do reflect changing political climates favorable to one partisan coalition or the other."So, Obama rides the waves. With some interesting graphsSalaaaaaaam, etc.ed Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:46:52 GMT+1 deschloro One more thing and I have to say this. Imagine that the democratic party got a democrat to take bush's place in the white house and impersonate him from the jan05 state of the union address right through the second term in order to screw up the GOP's chances in 08 as best they could, they couldn't have done a better job than George W Bush!McCain must be cursing under his breath 24/7.... Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:44:44 GMT+1 PucksterJones Interestingly (or maybe not), the survey concerning American Dogmatism indicates that a surprisingly high number of American Atheists believe in a God - namely any. Equally provocative, though not quite as glaring, a good number of American Agnostics appear to believe in a God, as well. I'm certain that there are a fair number of Americans who intractably consider themselves part of Religious Group A or B which teaches there is a God, but still steadfastly disbelieve - in fact, I've meet some.It's somewhat concerning that a nation that places such high Value on Whom or What you side with seems to have such difficulties keeping track of their individual Loyalties or at least the Definitions of the Words with which they label themselves. Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:39:20 GMT+1 justcorbly #14: What point is it that I'm missing?I don't think we can necessarily attribute McCain's difficulties generating social conservative support to the disappearance of social conservatives. Just as many on the left long ago lost faith in the political process as a tool that might alow them to reach their objectives, now many on the right are also losing faith in conservative politicians. They distinguish between their beliefs and politicans who seek their support, and so should we. Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:36:07 GMT+1 deschloro Contrary to popular opinion, the religious right didn't ultimately decide the 04 election. Karl Rove likes to point out that hundreds of thousands more religious conservatives voted in 2004 than 2000. This is misleading due to the fact that 04 had the highest ever turnout (until November) so more of all types of voters were voting in 04. Bush won that election because he just about managed to convince 51% of the electorate that it was only he that could lead the country in the "war on terror". At the end of the day that is why he is in office right now but the religious right (and bush himself) got carried away and thought that the 04 victory was a resounding endorsement of each and every single one of his policies. This included privatizing social security, the Terri Schiavo incident and as the war in Iraq became steadily worse, the primary reason that voters (swing ones at least) voted for him disappeared. To put simply the religious right had convinced the president to join their cause but this cause wasn't why the public voted for him. As soon as Bush became unpopular, the US public (or large sections of it anyway) seemed to have dropped these issues like a hot potato. Oh and also in the 06 elections many republicans were hit by sleaze scandals. Nothing dampens the enthusiasm of the christian right more than voting for those kinda guys..... Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:32:58 GMT+1 peterm99 re: #7 DominickVila"US society remains deeply conservative . . ."In many respects, you're correct, but it is religious conservatism that is at fault for giving "conservatism" its bad reputation. (Other Repub excesses incorrectly labeled as "conservatism" also bear a large responsibility, but that is a subject for another blog topic.) US society in general is adamantly opposed to the religious fanaticism that many "social conservatives" seem to espouse.Consider the following: 1. Most Americans who hear of a preacher telling his congregation that believers in evolution rather than creationism are going to hell for going against the bible, will shake their heads and chuckle in amusement but not bother taking any action which may indicate opposition to such belief. However, when that preacher and congregation seek to persuade the state to use taxes to fund creationist programs in the public schools, the opposition becomes evident.2. Similarly with views that consider abstinence as the only acceptable form of birth control. While that is only being preached, the reaction is "that's silly, but you're free to do what you want". But when the state is persuaded to use tax monies and its legal might to try to enforce those views, again, opposition will arise.3. Similarly with stem cell research, abortion, faith-based gov't grants, mandated prayer or "reflection time" in schools, etc., etc., etc.It is things like these that result in the loss of influence of the "social conservative" political movement over time. Tue 24 Jun 2008 23:02:33 GMT+1 justcorbly Pro-Democrat: Social conservatism hasn't ended, and it's been here all along. What is at least severely injured, if not ended, is the political infrastructure based on cynical exploitation of social conservatives. Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:51:48 GMT+1 BK Comment 12. "justcorbly" I think you're missing the point. By comparison, most Americans have heard of the Pope, and many will actually waste a precious day of vacation to stand by his parade route...but he still can't influence the practices of birth-control, abortion, or church attendance within his own 'flock.'The historical fact is that Americans will resist governance by royalty or religion. Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:47:34 GMT+1 Alex Herr I don't believe that social conservatism has died. If it had, believe me, I'd be the first to rejoice. Many polls suggest that the lack of social conservative support for McCain could be disastrous to his campaign, especially in states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida where Obama is continually gaining ground.I agree, it has weakened slightly due to George Bush and his administration, but I think it has by no means ended. Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:46:18 GMT+1 justcorbly Social conservatives have awakened to the reality that they've been played for suckers by scores of politicans who espouse social conservative policies. People don't believe them any longer.Re: Dobson -- Like Limbaugh, he's preaching to an unexpandable audience of fixed and small size. The vast majority of Americans have never heard of James Dobson, and never will. Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:36:35 GMT+1 BK If I were Obama -- I'd be more worried about Bill Clinton giving me support, than Dobson withholding it. Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:36:03 GMT+1 BK It seems to me that we Americans are about as intense regarding our religions and religious leaders as we are about our sports figures and teams. Religion, like sports, is a family/social activity, largely for the purpose of individual and collective entertainment...and while we are actively 'worshiping' emotions may even run high. Having said that, you're unlikely to see a Disciples of Christ worshipper ram is Hummer SUV loaded with explosives into the LDS sanctuary..."It's just church f' Chris' sake!"It only follows that the notion of Dobson, Pat Robertson or for that matter, the Pope having political sway is as absurd as wondering whether A-Rod and the New York Yankees could tilt the election with support or lack of it for a particular candidate.Anyway Obama doesn't need the support of the leaders of the religious-right...he's getting all the assistance he could possibly hope for from the mainstream Republican party and McCain's own campaign. Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:33:54 GMT+1 Cyril_Croydon I agree with what DominicVila said. Rural America is still very conservative (by European standards) but they're not morons either and realise when a govt. has screwed up.Meanwhile, Obama continues to surge in the polls, not that it matters at this stage,0,5763707.story Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:30:36 GMT+1 MagicKirin This post has been Removed Tue 24 Jun 2008 22:27:14 GMT+1 SaintDominick In my opinion, what we are seeing in the USA is not a rejection of social conservatism but a rejection of Republican excesses. The decision to occupy Iraq was not based on logic or evidence of a threat, but on cultural bias, political imperatives, personal revenge, and economic goals. The erosion of Constitutional and Civil liberties in recent years was not driven by a desire to reject a specific ideology, but by political goals. The fiscal policies of the past 7.5 years have nothing to do with conservatism and a lot to do with irresponsibility and ineptitude. The neglect shown to our infrastructure, health care and education systems by successive Administrations was prompted by political expediency, not by social influences. US society remains deeply conservative, but it is also pragmatic and willing to change if that's what is needed to preserve our way of life and global hegemony. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:59:43 GMT+1 bcterriann Most citizens worldwide are sick and tired of religous fanatics of all stripes who have shown repeatedly their lack of tolerence and most of all their transgressions towards others, ignoring the teachings of their various religous texts. Currently in the United States there is an uprising of the more moderate and pragmatic religous citizens who abhore the ethical and moral bankruptcy of some of their bretheren and how it has degraded civility and debate to the levels of kindergarden sandbox rhetoric. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:50:19 GMT+1 grilson I was rather surprised that Dobson's comments got wide news coverage. Over the years he has exposed himself as a sufficiently hateful and superstitious bigot that even the religious right is shying away from him. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:44:54 GMT+1 peterm99 I don't find its "death" (if that word is intended to mean "loss of importantce" instead of being taken literally) strange in the slightest. What I find strange is why it was ever considered to be a "strong" movement to begin with.The reason for the rise in its influence, well beyond what the number of adherents would suggest, is simply that the Reps finally started to deliver on some of the promises made over many years in order to more firmly elicit historical support from this group. Seeing that politicians were willing to pay a price for that support, they merely kept raising the price of that support, until, finally, the price became higher than what the support is politically worth.Initially, the agenda was driven by calls to restore (their) morality and (their) religious principles into the mainstream. So long as this agenda was more symbolic than truly meaningful, this was not opposed or resented by much of the population. As many of the social conservatives started to press for imposition of various tenets of their religion into laws and regulations, as well as other attempts to force taxpayers to support their religiosity and their influence, opposition became less amorphous and more pronounced.The final result will be that the influence of "social conservatives" will fall to the level equivalent to their numbers in the general population, rather than the inflated level of influence they have enjoyed over the past couple of decades. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:30:16 GMT+1 Young-Mr-Grace The under-reported story of the campaign has beenthe change in the evangelical vote. It hasn't gone away but the priorities of that group are developing and it is no longer enough for chancers like Rove to blow the gay/abortion dog whistles and have them come running.You're all doing very well !! Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:26:47 GMT+1 Gary_A_Hill I don't know who you mean by "social conservatives." It's not a party. The Republicans thought they were going to dominate US politics in this century, indeed, but it was always wishful thinking. Most Americans are pragmatic, not dogmatic, and increasing numbers decline to identify with either major party. There is no mystery when the pendulum swings back in the other direction. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:24:31 GMT+1 nobleFloridian I wonder if Obama will regard Bill Clinton's endorsement and plan to work for his election as a help or a hindrance, given Bill's prediliction for opening his mouth and putting his foot in it during his wife's campaign. Tue 24 Jun 2008 21:10:29 GMT+1