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You Go Joe!

by Amy Zidell

8.31.00

I wasn't necessarily intending Almost CoherentTM to get political, it really depended on what's going on and what gets me going. Something got me going.

I want to applaud Joseph Lieberman for the way he handled himself in response to the ADL's - oh what do you call it criticism? attack? posturing? regarding Lieberman's discussion of religiosity. In response to their attack Lieberman said, "I respect the ADL, but I respectfully disagree. I think they misunderstood part of it, part of what I was trying to say. And the whole point of it is that I think faith has a constructive role that it can play in American life."

He continued, "It certainly plays a constructive role in the lives of millions of Americans and can in the community as well and that's what I was trying to say." You go Joe. Well said.

Let me make some disclaimers and provide some history: I still don't know who I'm going to vote for. Since I was 18 and had the distinct privilege of my first voting experience being for Ronald Reagan for President I have voted Republican for all subsequent presidential candidates. I'm a little concerned about voting for GW. There's a look of mild persistent confusion on his face that bothers me an awful lot. I'm not sure how Gore intends to pay for the programs he discussed at the Democratic Convention. I don't know what programs GW intends to have. I don't like Gore's implications from his speech that kinda characterizes successful business as being evil.

I don't vote the "ticket." I voted for Diane Feinstein over Pete Wilson. I even spent some time at a Feinstein campaign office. I was disappointed in very biased, and well let's just say stupid, campaign materials sent out by Wilson. I sent a letter to Wilson questioning the tactics and expressing my strong opinion that young Republicans might be put off by such strategies. I received no response whatsoever. No form letter. No postcard. No nothing. This demonstrated to me a gross lack of responsiveness, and this to a potential supporter. What might the response be regarding a dissenting opinion? This no response cost Wilson my vote and likely lead to additional votes for Feinstein through my campaign efforts, well maybe one or two.

Now Feinstein has worked very hard on matters I believe she believes strongly in. Her actions have been much less conservative than I'd hoped for but I admire her convictions and integrity. No matter your stance on gun control measures, her response to gun maker's response to her bill some years back was just a more tactful version of Susan's tirade at Kelly on Survivor but sour grapes nonetheless. Feinstein's bill essentially addressed cosmetic aspects of certain rifles. Forgive my possible broad strokes here. Issues addressed in the bill did not deal with function so much as the aggressive look of the firearm. The result was that the gun maker, I believe Colt, produced a revised version of their rifle, if I remember correctly, the Colt Sporter. Feinstein was televised being outraged that the gun maker only made cosmetic changes to the weapon. That's what the bill asked for! I'm guessing that that's partly how and why the bill was passed for better or worse. I don't recall voting for Feinstein since. My opinion would have remained in her court if under the same situation she addressed the fact that the gun maker made modifications based on the bill that may have made the weapon less appealing to criminals, but that she believed still more needed be done, and then introduced a new bill. Agree or not with the bill or the politics, it would have taken whining out the picture, and that's always a good thing.

Call it damage control, spin control, whatever -- how politicians handle themselves and respond to different situations is very important and telling. It's really our only insight into their ability to do their job, which, believe it or not, gets us back to where we started.

Lieberman's response to the ADL was classy and strong. He didn't back down and I respect that a great deal.

So Joe Lieberman talked about religion and was criticized by the ADL. I'd like to know what gives the self-appointed ADL the right to try to censor a candidate. Oh that's right they're self-appointed. I must let you know that my opinion of the ADL is not a positive one. I called last year wanting to do anything to help work, volunteer whatever in response to Anti-Semitic attacks. I called up explaining I wanted to do something to prevent such things. I was bounced to voice mail. I waited a week and received no call back. I called again. When I was bounced to voicemail again, I called back right away. I insisted on speaking to a real person. I finally got someone who was about as enthusiastic and helpful as a West Nile Virus deceased crow from New York. I was told in a tone clearly to dissuade me, "Well we run a thorough background check. There's a form you have to fill out."

"Great!" I replied. "Is it faxable?"

"Yes?" they responded hesitantly.

"Great. Here's my fax number. You can fax it right away," I enthusiastically explained. I gave my fax number and address and guess what? Nothing. Nadda. Just like Pete Wilson. Perhaps some of his former staff is currently in the ADL ranks. Somehow I doubt that. The ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, makes me wonder just what they are Anti-Defaming. What odd inner circle of individuals are permitted within the annals of that organization? I lost all respect for this group at that time. Mind you no one paused a moment from their disdain to remark on my inquiry. As in, "Thanks for your interest." Or, "It's nice you want to get involved." Yet, I was greeted with warmth and compassion from the NRA when I called to see what I could do to help further the enforcement of existing gun laws. I like to at least try to get involved if I can. Silly me. I figure that organizations like the ADL would welcome people offering their time and services.

So now this self appointed group has decided that talking about religion might make people uncomfortable and sent a letter warning Lieberman to tone it down. How dare they! Yet they would like us all to believe that somehow this comes from a place of sensitivity as if Joe Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, talking about religion in a Christian church might somehow offend people of religions outside of the Judeo-Christian background. Is the ADL going to try to sell us on the fact they're being politically correct? That should be a very hard sell if the American people have any sense left. Perhaps the ADL doesn't support Free Speech. What's their angle? My message to them, "Defame this!"

Things have become so twisted that you can't point out differences amongst people individual and otherwise without practically being branded a racist. People are different. That's a real big point of this country and one reason it was founded. So that people could be free, free to express themselves, free to worship how they choose, free to be individuals. Why aren't pats on the back being handed out when a candidate gets up and talks about their individuality, and what they believe in, and describes what their convictions are?

I take my right to vote very seriously. I do as much I as I can to learn about the candidates, their views, their approach and their background. I much prefer to gain this information from their own words, spoken or written, rather than from political pundits telling me what their words mean or what the candidate stands for. Getting it straight from the horse's mouth is the best way to inform myself about a candidate in my humble opinion. I hope that the ADL's letter doesn't effect the outcome of the election one way or another. I don't personally see the problem in someone discussing the role of religion in their life and suggesting that pursuit of religious ideals can be beneficial on a societal level. It's an opinion. AN OPINION! If the registered voting public doesn't like the opinion they'll vote for another candidate. I'd much rather know someone's convictions and not agree with them than not know their convictions and find out later that I don't agree with them.

I'm getting a bit tired of groups speaking for me, telling me what I should listen to, telling me what I should watch on television or in the movies, and shielding me from opinions that, oh no, might be diverse. I know how to change the channel. I know how to not buy the product made by the company whose policies I don't like. I know how to push the little rectangle piece of card stock through on my ballot with that little metal poker thingy. Please don't insult me by suggesting I can't do these things myself. Last time I checked, this was still the United States of America and I am free to do these things here. I can and I will.

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