Surely it’s way past time for Democrats and others concerned about the direction our country is taking to reclaim what is neither the right nor the left but rather the sensible center. Too many of us have become reactive rather than proactive on a host of issues that need careful analysis and insightful debate. Despite the president’s claim of a mandate and the ever-rancorous assault of the censorship brigades, most of us are not comfortable with a hard swing to the right either in our courts, our foreign policy or our media.
If our press isn’t free to report without a constant harangue from the White House to shape the news from its perspective, if we are unable to read and see materials that depict the realities of our world we will have become the most endangered of species. Former CIA operative Michael Sheuer was referring to foreign policy when he talked about “…neo-conservatives…that…live in a fact-free environment: the world as they want it, not as it is.” But his description applies equally well to other issues.
Refusing, for example, to disseminate birth-control materials or to educate young people about sex doesn’t eliminate the problems that arise out of ignorance. Abstinence may indeed be the safest and best way to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancies, but attaching “only” to that word defies experiential reality. It says something eerily unbalanced that, despite proposed cuts to important programs in his new budget, the president increases funds for “abstinence only” education.
There is a surrealistic aura in our country these days by which government promotes its agenda in a confusing mix of trumped-up crises and a kind of religious determinism. Only in such an atmosphere could so many buy into the illogic of fighting terrorism by invading Iraq, a country not notably involved in terrorist activity until now, accept the increasing expense of a war that Iraqi oil was supposed to finance and ignore the fact that top-tier tax cuts have reduced revenue and helped create enormous deficits. An electorate willing to go along with such irrational behavior has been befuddled by political chicanery?
In the wanna -buy-this-bridge category, the president tells us he plans to reform Social Security and the tax code without rethinking any of his previous tax cuts but continuing to spend billions in Iraq, expenditures not factored into budget calculations at all. He also says he’s going to cut the deficit in half although his Social Security privatization scheme would add billions to the deficit. And the government’s refusal to bargain for better prices with drug companies refutes any claim to serious budget planning. Drug prices are way out of sync with the needs of companies to develop new drugs as is often claimed, with profit margins in that industry some of the largest in the entire manufacturing sector. There isn’t another area of government or the private sector that doesn’t use large numbers of participants to bargain for better prices from vendors of all kinds. The prescription drug program, as it is currently structured, represents a windfall for drug companies because this administration has refused to use its bargaining chip.
In the midst of all these incongruous machinations are the efforts of some to insert a definition of marriage into our Constitution, as if by ignoring de facto gay unions, they will cease to exist, to say nothing of, as Maureen Dowd puts it, “…the spread of federal disinformation from paid “journalists”.” Somehow we have to start making our way back to rational thought. Of course, it is always difficult to overcome ignorance, a state of mind that is comfortable for so many, especially when leaders work so hard to keep voters in that state which is neither red nor blue.

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