Last political comments for awhile. I am forcing myself to go think about other topics. I used to be a fascinating person.
#1. I went to a discussion at the library about the book The True Patriot, which I reviewed a few months ago. The discussion was led by St. Anselm's professors Dale Kuehne and Meg Cronin, both much more liberal than I but not unreasonable people or unwilling to listen. Also in attendance were the very liberal, but also reasonable Tess Marts, who I knew years ago; a friend from church who is quite conservative; a fairly moderate Republican whose name I didn't commit to memory; and one of the librarians (with a "Banned Books" pin and so presumably liberal). Good discussion, actually. I spoke too much, and there were a very few testy exchanges, but mostly it was the ideas, not the people, which were provocative. The way life should be, perhaps.
#2. Lying. The people who do voice-stress analysis believe they can tell when people are lying. I am suspicious. They include a Bill Clinton clip that shows him lying at exactly where the technology said he was, which looks impressive, but you wonder whether that was chosen for PR purposes. The clips of Obama and Palin show them scoring as "lying" in bizarre places as well as a few where the content might be dubious. I'm not convinced, but perhaps it is a technology in its infancy.
I'll tell you something about lying from having to deal with it so much all day (not just my patients, but their agencies and families as well). When someone refuses to take any responsibility, blaming everything on someone else, they are usually lying. If they thought they were only 10 or 20% at fault they would pony up, lay out the facts, and trust that most observers would get it right. If they are 50-70% at fault they would admit to some responsibility and try to spin the impression on the rest. Only when people are well over 70% at fault do they have to take a reverse strategy and avoid the facts and try to construct a simple narrative of blame that they hope catches on with people. When people make categorical statements of blame, it's like Honest John's Used Cars.
A word of caution. Some politicians have perfected statements of appearing to take responsibility in their introductory comments but quickly moving on to zero blame for them.
#3. Tess, in the discussion mentioned in #1, above, was horrified by my contention that America does better than all other nations on racial issues. I would say that more clearly by grading America at a D+, which is unfortunately the highest grade in the class. We simply play at a much higher level than most nations. Most nations have fairly homogenous populations and so look more placid. But a very little scratching beneath the surface reveals how poorly they do. Scandinavia, which has a reputation for tolerance, is not doing so well with their Muslim and even Eastern European immigrants. For other European countries, you could reiterate the above, and also google their name with the word "gypsies" and get an eyeful. The mixed racial Latin American countries show strong prejudice the darker you are, and are quite horrible to their rural indigenous tribes. Most countries cannot achieve harmony among groups that are ethnically and religiously similar, for Pete's sake. America has large African American and Hispanic minorities, medium-sized Asian and Oceanic minorities, and a host of indigenous peoples as well as mixed populations and Other. We are simply playing at a much higher level than most countries, attempting harmony on a scale unknown in history.
Canada does pretty well, and likely grades out about where we do. Some better, some worse. Not being able to comfortably integrate populations descended from adjoining European countries has to count against them, though. India has a very different type of ethnic mix but is also quite diverse. Most countries are simply not even attempting ethnic cooperation on anything like our scale, and not doing that great even with lesser problems.