July 2006 Archives

FDA To Consider Morning-After Pill OTC Sales genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

Morning-after Pill

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is ready to consider over-the-counter sales of Barr Laboratories morning-after pill...a move that surprised many observers given the protracted delays that have raised concerns that the agency is allowing politics to guide medical decisions.

Despite the announcement, there is reason for skepticism since President Bush's nominee to head the Agency; Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach is scheduled to appear for confirmation hearings. Two Senators, including Hillary Clinton, have vowed to block the nomination until the agency makes a decision on over-the-counter sales. Read the full article here.

Barr’s application for over-the-counter approval of Plan B has been pending before the F.D.A. for three years and has sparked considerable discord within the agency. It has also become a proxy fight in the debate between foes and supporters of abortion rights.

In December 2003, an F.D.A. advisory committee voted 23 to 4 to approve Barr’s application with no age restrictions. Six months later, however, a top agency official rejected the application, citing concerns that the pill would be available to young teenagers.

Internal F.D.A. documents show that agency officials suggested to Barr that it rewrite its application to allow over-the-counter sales to adult women while still requiring younger teenagers to get a prescription. Barr did that, but in January 2005, the statutory deadline for an F.D.A. decision passed without a decision.

In a letter to Barr today, Dr. von Eschenbach indicated the F.D.A. would not approve Plan B for over-the-counter sale for girls under 18. “We believe that the appropriate age for OTC access is 18," he wrote.

While the F.D.A. has insisted that its decisions to reject or delay the Plan B application were the result of scientific or regulatory concerns, a Congressional investigation found last year that top agency officials decided at one point to reject the application before its staff’s scientific review was even complete.

Senator Clinton and Senator Murray issued a joint statement that accused the agency of making the announcement as a further effort to stall the approval of the pill. They indicated they would still block the nomination until such time as a decision was finalized.

Thought Theater previously reported on the controversy surrounding the agency and the approval of the pill for over-the-counter sales here.

Daniel DiRito | July 31, 2006 | 1:16 PM | link | Comments (0)
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South Dakota Voters Oppose Abortion Ban genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

Abortion debate

A recent poll indicates that voters in South Dakota are not in favor of the recently enacted ban on abortions that many feel could become a key component of efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. The full article can be found here.

The statewide survey of 800 registered voters found 47 percent opposed the strict ban, while 39 percent favored it. The remaining 14 percent were undecided. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Legislature voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to make abortion illegal in all cases -- including rape and incest -- unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It was to become law on July 1, but opponents gathered enough signatures to delay it and to let voters decide in November whether the ban should take effect.

If voters reject the abortion ban at the ballot box, they would effectively repeal it.

The poll also indicated that voters were more favorable to a ban on abortions if the law would provide for exceptions in cases that involve rape or incest. Should the current measure be rejected in November, a new bill would likely be submitted to the legislature with exceptions for rape and incest in order to make it less likely to be rejected by voters in the future.

Daniel DiRito | July 31, 2006 | 12:52 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Ali G (Borat) With A Real Estate Agent genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 30, 2006 | 10:47 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Rice Cancels Remainder of Middle East Mission genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Condi Rice

On the heels of an errant bombing in Lebanon that is believed to have killed in excess of 50 civilians, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has decided to return to Washington without completing the balance of her diplomatic mission. After the bombing, the Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Saniora called for nothing less than an immediate cease fire, a move that signaled little room for further negotiation at the moment. MSNBC has the full story here.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the diplomatic situation, said Rice would work from Washington on a U.N. Security Council resolution to end the crisis.

Rice said on Sunday she was “deeply saddened by the terrible loss of innocent life" after an attack on a village in southern Lebanon. But she did not call for an immediate cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militias.

Israel’s attack, which killed scores of civilians while they sleep, led Rice to cancel an expected visit to Beirut for a meeting Sunday with Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Saniora. Rice said she called Saniora to postpone; angry Lebanese officials said it was their government that called off the meeting.

The bombing mishap is expected to harden calls for a cease fire as well as continue the trend of growing public outrage within the region at the continued actions of the Israeli army. Since the start of the conflict, when Hezbollah provoked Israel by abducting two Israeli soldiers and killing three others, public opinion has shifted from anger at Hezbollah to anger at Israel which has made it more difficult for Israel and the United States to delay efforts to bring the military actions to an end.

Daniel DiRito | July 30, 2006 | 9:05 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Minimum Wage Hike Passes With Huge Tax Cuts genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Tax cuts

In an expected move, House Republicans passed a minimum wage increase but the measure includes significant changes in the estate tax structure...removing the tax altogether for many wealthy Americans and capping the tax rate at 30 percent for estates exceeding 25 million dollars. The Washington Post has the full article here. Thought Theater previously discussed the measure and the tactics being employed by the Republican controlled House.

The House, at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday, voted 230 to 180 to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, from the $5.15 rate on the books since 1997. The bill also would exempt from taxation all estates worth as much as $5 million -- or $10 million for a married couple -- and apply a 15 percent tax rate to inheritances above that threshold and as much as $25 million. For estates exceeding $25 million in value, the tax rate would be 30 percent.

Most congressional Republicans support the estate-tax cuts and oppose the minimum wage increase. Most Democrats take the opposite positions. Democrats said they saw a two-edged strategy in the GOP decision to couple the issues.

Democrats' eagerness to raise the minimum wage might attract enough support in the Senate as well as the House to pass the estate-tax cut, a major GOP goal. But if Senate Democrats block the bill because of their aversion to the estate-tax cut -- as their leaders have vowed to do -- House Republicans may at least be able to blunt Democratic accusations that they made no effort to help the working poor.

The move, by Republicans, is simply an attempt to neutralize an issue they see as a vulnerability this November. They see a benefit whether the bill is passed or rejected in the Senate. If the bill is rejected they believe they can argue that they sought to help low wage workers but the Democrats refused to endorse the proposed legislation. If the bill is passed, they not only enacted a minimum wage increase but passed their long sought estate tax reform. This will be a key test for Senate Democrats and may signal whether the Party can muster the consensus needed to defeat this measure as well as begin the process of speaking with a strong and united voice.

Daniel DiRito | July 30, 2006 | 8:37 AM | link | Comments (1)
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The Daily Show: There Goes The Gayborhood genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 29, 2006 | 8:53 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Mel Gibson: Nailing Hypocrisy genre: Hip-Gnosis & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

The%20Passion%20of%20the%20C.jpg

Daniel DiRito | July 28, 2006 | 4:47 PM | link | Comments (0)
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We Don't Torture...But We Need A Bill To CYA? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Liberty as victim

The recent Supreme Court ruling on detainees held by the United States stated that they were to be treated in accord with the Geneva Conventions guidelines and that they were entitled to be processed under current military legal proceedings or some other legitimate legal process that Congress may choose to enact. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Gonzales, in light of the ruling, is discussing new legislation to shield those who were responsible for the handling of the detainees during the period of time that was the focus of the Supreme Court ruling.

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

Prior to the passage of the McCain bill establishing guidelines on torture and the proper handling of detainees, the Bush administration repeatedly asserted that the U.S. did not engage in torture. Nonetheless, once the bill was passed, the administration attached a signing statement to the bill that basically exempted the President from the legislation should he determine a situation was a matter of national security. The signing statement along with the Supreme Court ruling has apparently raised concerns that there may be ample evidence to make accusations of war crimes. The larger problem, in my opinion, is the added damage the legislation sought by Gonzales would do to an already dismal view of the United States around the world.

Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said. A spokeswoman for Gonzales, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Gonzales's remarks.

The Justice Department's top legal adviser, Steven G. Bradbury, separately testified two weeks ago that Congress must give new "definition and certainty" to captors' risk of prosecution for coercive interrogations that fall short of outright torture.

Language in the administration's draft, which Bradbury helped prepare in concert with civilian officials at the Defense Department, seeks to protect U.S. personnel by ruling out detainee lawsuits to enforce Geneva protections and by incorporating language making U.S. enforcement of the War Crimes Act subject to U.S. -- not foreign -- understandings of what the Conventions require.

The Supreme Court, in contrast, has repeatedly said that foreign interpretations of international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions should at least be considered by U.S. courts.

The law that concerns Gonzales was sponsored by a conservative Republican legislator, Walter B. Jones, from North Carolina, and was motivated by his conversation with a pilot who had been a prisoner of war during the Vietnam era. Clearly, the Jones bill, as with the McCain bill, were enacted because it is prudent to oppose torture in order to minimize the likelihood that our own soldiers would be subjected to such treatment and to allow the U.S. to bring charges should American soldiers be mistreated.

The law initially criminalized grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions but was amended without a hearing the following year to include violations of Common Article 3, the minimum standard requiring that all detainees be treated "humanely." The article bars murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, torture and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." It applies to any abuse involving U.S. military personnel or "nationals."

Since September 2001, however, Bush administration officials have considered the law a potential threat to U.S. personnel involved in interrogations. While serving as White House legal counsel in 2002, Gonzales helped prepare a Jan. 25 draft memo to Bush -- written in large part by David Addington, then Vice President Cheney's legal counsel and now Cheney's chief of staff -- in which he cited the threat of prosecution under the act as a reason to declare that detainees captured in Afghanistan were not eligible for Geneva Conventions protections.

But the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld effectively made Bush's order illegal when it affirmed that all detainees held by the United States are protected by Common Article 3. The court's decision caught the administration unprepared, at first, for questions about how its policy would change.

Several officials said the administration's main concerns are Article 3's prohibitions against "outrages upon personal dignity" and humiliating or degrading treatment.

While I fully appreciate the outrage that followed 9/11 and support the objective of bringing those responsible for the attack to justice, I simply can't endorse the abandonment of our long held principles to achieve that outcome. The costs of such actions are more and more apparent as each new violation is exposed. At some point, the damage to U.S. credibility and moral authority will be such that we can no longer be an influence for integrity and democracy within the world. It is simply too high a price to pay.

Daniel DiRito | July 28, 2006 | 12:01 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Crooked Light genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Cathedral in London - 2004
Can A Crooked Light Cast An Honest Shadow?

Daniel DiRito | July 28, 2006 | 11:21 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Economy Slows: Inflation Worries Rise genre: Econ-Recon

Slowdown

The economy has slowed in the second quarter raising fears that there may be pressure to increase prices. Despite repeated assertions by the current administration that the economy is doing well; most Americans have not experienced the benefits of the recent economic growth...a fact that may have implications for Republicans during the November midterm election. The New York Times has the full article here.

Gross domestic product, the sum of the nation’s output of goods and services, grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the three months ended June 30, the Commerce Department reported today. While that is considered a healthy growth rate, it is well below the figure of 3 percent that many economists forecast.

Just how rapidly the economy is growing is closely watched by the Federal Reserve and, in turn, by investors, who will price the stock market accordingly. Slowing growth would seem to give the Fed a reason to stop raising interest rates — something many investors would like to see.

One closely watched broad measure of inflation, known as the core index of personal consumption, rose at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the fastest pace reported since 1994. The index rose at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter.

Daniel DiRito | July 28, 2006 | 10:40 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Condi Takes Center Stage genre: Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation & Snapshot Thoughts

Condi takes center stage

Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2006 | 9:13 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Republican Ploy May Allow Vote On Minimum Wage genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Empty pockets

It appears that Republican leaders in the House may allow a vote on increasing the minimum wage. However, as the final version of the bill is negotiated, it appears that Republicans may attach small business tax cuts to offset the increased costs. As I analyze the measure, it seems like an opportunity for Democrats to turn the tables on Republicans. I'll explain after excerpts from the article that can be found here.

Republican leaders haven't yet decided on how far to boost the federal minimum wage, now at $5.15 an hour, or which tax cuts will be included in the package, Madden said. Democrats and some Republicans are pushing to boost the wage to $7.25 over 30 months.

Republicans are under pressure to accept an increase pushed by Democrats as the November midterm elections loom and lawmakers prepare to accept a $3,300 automatic pay raise for themselves.

"We aren't quite there yet but we are getting very close,'' Republican Representative Sherwood Boehlert of New York said in an interview today. “If we don't deal with it, some people would argue it's going to hurt some Republicans,'' he said.

House Democratic leaders say the pairing of a wage increase with tax cuts threatens the prospects of the legislation, because many Democrats may not be willing to support further tax reductions that could yield a larger federal budget deficit.

Basically, the Republicans appear to be trying to back Democrats into a corner while allowing their own House members in tight races to vote in favor of the wage increase. If the bill were to fail because Democrats opposed added tax cuts, Republicans could neutralize the wage issue for the November election while providing needed cover for their House members.

If I were asked how the Democrats can turn the tables on the Republicans, I would argue they need to point out the hypocrisy evident in the GOP's tax cutting strategy. By giving small businesses tax cuts to offset the wage increase, they are actually enacting a subsidy that is ultimately funded through taxpayer generated revenues...in essence they are creating a new tax funded social program...even though they repeatedly espouse the need to cut back on such funding. The measure would ultimately becomes an added burden for the already struggling middle class while at the same time shielding corporations from sharing in the cost of the much needed wage increase.

As such, the proposed bill would continue the trend of fostering profits for the wealthy while shifting further burden for government funded programs to the average middle class taxpayer...who already pays a disproportionate share of the federal tax burden. The Democrats need to reframe the tax equation for the voters by pointing out that the total dollars needed to run the government have not actually been reduced...the burden for that funding is merely being shifted amongst the various income brackets...which is a tax increase…because it either takes more money from some income brackets or creates debt that has to eventually be repaid.

As the national debt increases, the economic growth needed to sustain the debt will eventually be eclipsed...leaving little choice but to collect more revenues...which will no doubt have to come from higher taxes. Until that point is reached, the government is subsidizing the wealthiest Americans while continuing to tax average citizens at virtually the same rates...what little reduction they may be receiving is likely offset by inflation, especially in the form of energy costs (which are creating record profits for large corporations).

The bottom line is that Republicans are not the Party of tax cuts...they are the Party that restructures tax burdens in order to provide added wealth to those who already posses the lions share of the wealth...while at the same time creating astronomical debt that will ultimately be apportioned to all Americans...a simple case of double dipping in my estimation.

Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2006 | 5:52 PM | link | Comments (1)
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The Daily Show: On "Poll Smoking" genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2006 | 11:36 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Al-Qaida: Planting The Seeds For A "Holy War" genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Holy war

Ayman al-Zawahri has issued a new video calling on Muslims to rise up and defeat all those who are aligned with Western civilization. Clearly, al-Qaida sees the turmoil in the Middle East as an opportunity to recruit new members...and by portraying the struggle as a religious war they are much more likely to be successful. The current world conflicts may be the beginning of a much broader struggle that could potentially expand well beyond the confines of a war on terror. The Associated Press has the full story here.

CAIRO, Egypt -- Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader issued a worldwide call Thursday for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq."

In the message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said that al-Qaida now views "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us."

"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere." Spain was controlled by Arab Muslims for more than seven centuries until they were driven from power in 1492.

He also called for the "downtrodden" throughout the world, not just Muslims, to join the battle against "tyrannical Western civilization and its leader, America."

"Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book (the Quran)," al-Zawahri said.

Kamal Habib, a former member of Egypt's Islamic Jihad militant group who was jailed from 1981 to 1991 along with al-Zawahri, said the al-Qaida No. 2's outreach to Shiites and non-Muslims was unprecedented and reflected a major change in tactics.

"This is a transformation in the vision of al-Qaida and its struggle with the United States. It is now trying to unite Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and calling for non-Muslims to join the fight," he said.

The rhetoric seems to be an attempt to recruit from all the various sectarian groups as well as Muslim's native to other regions, likely a key to being able to successfully execute attacks around the world. In the United States, there is ample concern that U.S. born sympathizers will establish terrorist cells in order to conduct attacks. Recent terrorist activity in other regions seems to indicate that al-Qaida is achieving success by attempting to characterize this conflict as a battle of religions.

While I understand Israel’s right of self-defense, it seems apparent that a larger issue is unfolding. Since 9/11, a point in time when the U.S. had the sympathy and support of much of the world, the effort to extinguish terrorism has unfortunately been transformed into an ideological conflict with religious beliefs as the point of focus. Sadly, the Bush administration has fueled the conflict with ill-advised remarks such as the oft cited use of the term "Crusade" and increasing accusations of Islamic extremism...instead of remaining focused on the illegitimacy of terrorist acts. This administration seems determined to jump over the politics of this conflict despite their obvious existence.

The invasion of Iraq marked an important turning point in the war on terror. When the invasion began, the argument made by the administration that Iraq had WMD's, although subsequently found to be inaccurate, kept the conflict focused on terrorism. As it became evident that there were no WMD's and that the Bush administration had manipulated the intelligence to support the invasion, two unfortunate things occurred.

First, the motives of the U.S. were suddenly met with suspicion, thereby allowing al-Qaida and others opposed to Western culture to begin the process of reframing the conflict for their supporters. Second, once the administration realized that the WMD rationale would no longer suffice, they shifted the focus to spreading democracy...with the argument that democratic states don't, by their design, promote the conditions that lead people to support or engage in terrorist activities. While that argument may be valid, it was a key tactical error because it allowed our extremist opponents to reframe the conflict on an even broader basis. All of a sudden, the U.S. efforts to defeat terrorism could suddenly be characterized as the exportation of Western beliefs and culture...and of course an affront to Islam.

The U.S. continues to ignore the well established realities of the tipping point perspective. While we believe our efforts to bring democracy are noble and that in time the benefits and the outcome will be positive and accepted, we ignore the environment and the associated perceptions that support a movement in an equally motivated, but opposite direction. Once that perception becomes reality in the minds of those we seek to influence, the battle is virtually lost. Unless people accept and adopt that which we offer or impose, the noble intention is irrelevant. Further, if the noble effort becomes the language that permeates the oppositions rhetoric, the noble goal is self-defeating.

In this nuance one can see how fine the line is that separates the perceptions of reasoned diplomacy and unbridled imperialism. The danger is such that what may have been motivated by good intentions is subsequently defined differently by the intended recipients and thus corrupted and destined for failure. Once religion is inserted into the equation, dogma and doctrine are applied to politics and the conflict will necessarily be tainted by the propensity for absolutist rationale...hence the likelihood of a holy war or a jihad.

Once this polarization is cemented into the dialogue, such conflicts are rarely resolved absent the sword and history can document this succinctly and repetitively. As both sides begin the process of demonizing the enemy and expressing their beliefs in absolutes...whether originally intended or subsequently implied, the process of moving back to diplomacy is immeasurably more difficult.

In the end, the consolidation of power in the hands of a select few...the underlying premise of the neoconservative philosophy and the converse of detente...is self-defeating. When power eclipses or abandons persuasion, the amount of power needed to maintain the status quo increases exponentially as those upon which power is being exerted or imposed believe their autonomy is subrogated to the tenets of those in power. This administration may believe that democracy is on the march...but in reality they may simply be providing the drumbeat for those that seek to see its demise.

We are told we are safer now that Saddam is out of power and that fighting the war there is better than fighting it here at home. The problem is that while we are fighting in Iraq, we are seeing the Middle East as well as a number of other countries moving towards extremist ideologies. As we are attempting to install a democracy in Iraq, radical groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have captured more power...and they've done so through democratic means.

While our democracy, in the hands of the neocons, moves towards using force to export and expand democracy, those we deem as extremists are using persuasion to democratically assume power. That, in my opinion, is perhaps the epitome of irony. Worse yet, it is an indication that our foreign policy is an unmitigated failure that may well alter the world order for decades.

Daniel DiRito | July 27, 2006 | 8:11 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Poll: Americans Are Unhappy Campers Right Now genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Bad mood

The latest NBC Wall Street Journal poll indicates that voters are far from optimistic about the direction of the country as well as the prospects for the situation to improve. In an indication of the depth of the negative mood, those polled were doubtful that the situation would improve for their children. Of the 60% that feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction, some 81% believe that the problem is a longer term decline. Read the full article here.

According to the poll, 65 percent say they feel less confident that life for their children's generation will be better than it was for them.

In addition, only 27 percent think the country is headed in the right direction, while 58 percent say they are less confident the Iraq war will come to a successful conclusion.

And among those who believe that the nation is headed on the wrong track, a whopping 81 percent believe it's part of a longer-term decline and that things won't get better for some time. Just 12 percent think the problems are short-term blips.

President Bush continues to receive negative marks as the latest poll shows his job approval at 39%, a 2% increase over last month but not statistically significant. His handling of the war in Iraq continues to be a critical factor in his overall approvals. Only 34% believe he is doing a good job with the war while 61% disapprove. The war in Iraq continues to lead the list of issues of concern to voters with 29% choosing it as the top priority. That is an increase of 7% in the last 30 days...an ominous increase and a good indication that patience with the effort in Iraq continues to erode.

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 6:54 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Ann & Monica Serving "It" Up genre: Gaylingual & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Ann Coulter, in true form, has asserted in an interview that Bill Clinton is gay. You can find text of the interview here. Hat tip to John at AMERICAblog.com. Given this new "revelation", it only seemed appropriate to put...

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 1:32 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Iran's Ahmadinejad Calls For Cease Fire genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

In a curious move, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for a cease fire in the conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah. Given the belief by many Middle East experts that Iran encouraged the actions that led to...

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 10:55 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Gay Marriage: Washington Supreme Court Says No genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

The long awaited ruling from the Washington state Supreme Court has just been published. The findings of the court held that the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman is constitutional and that DOMA is also...

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 9:10 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Conservatives Call For Rice To Be Demoted genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

There is growing sentiment and increasing pressure from a number of high profile foreign policy conservatives to reassign Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a lower level position within the Bush administration. At the moment the consensus has yet to...

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 7:10 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Vatican Condems EU Stem Cell Funds Approval genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

The Vatican issued a condemnation of Monday's approval by the European Union to continue funding stem cell research. The Associated Press has the full article here. VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican newspaper on Tuesday condemned a decision by the...

Daniel DiRito | July 25, 2006 | 4:44 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Dave Chappelle Plays A Black Howard Dean genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 25, 2006 | 3:35 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Bush At 37% Approval In Latest Gallup Poll genre: Polispeak

The slight positive bounce for President Bush seems to be on the wane. In the latest USA Today Gallup Poll, Bush's approval has dropped from 40% to 37%. While the decline is not statistically significant, it does indicate that...

Daniel DiRito | July 25, 2006 | 12:07 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Specter Bill To Challenge Bush Signing Statements genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

In a move that may signal a greater willingness on the part of Congress to challenge the continued expansion of executive authority that has been one of the hallmarks of the Bush administration, Senator Arlen Specter is about to...

Daniel DiRito | July 25, 2006 | 10:27 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Poll: Republicans Winning Message Game? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, a majority of Americans still believe that Sadaam Hussein had strong links to al Qaeda and that U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The results point to the success of...

Daniel DiRito | July 25, 2006 | 9:39 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Stem Cells: Snow Retracts "Murder" Comment genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

On Meet the Press this past Sunday, Josh Bolton, White House Chief of Staff, struggled to answer the questions about the President's position on stem cell research. Bolton was obviously uncomfortable when attempting to finesse Bush's position, as previously stated...

Daniel DiRito | July 25, 2006 | 7:54 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Mad TV: Oprah's Vagina Monologues genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 23, 2006 | 11:33 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Rethinking Middle East Strategies genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Update: The following video is a great follow up to the original posting discussing our Middle East strategy. It is a good discussion between Pat Buchanan, Chris Matthews, and Bob Schrum in which they discuss the neoconservative strategy and whether...

Daniel DiRito | July 22, 2006 | 2:53 PM | link | Comments (0)
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More U.S. Troops To Bahgdad genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

In a move that signals the delay of plans to reduce troop levels in Iraq, the U.S. now plans to move troops from Kuwait into Baghdad. Additionally, it appears that the plan to cancel some deployments to Iraq will...

Daniel DiRito | July 22, 2006 | 8:08 AM | link | Comments (0)
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NATO Commander: Afghanistan Near Anarchy genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

While the Bush administration touts the war on terror as "democracy on the march", NATO's commander believes Afghanistan is "close to anarchy". Many have argued that the U.S. shifted efforts and resources to the Iraq invasion before having completed...

Daniel DiRito | July 22, 2006 | 7:36 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Political Strategy: Examining Potential Outcomes genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The following posting is the fifth entry in a continuing Thought Theater dialogue on political strategy. The first posting, Political Strategy: The Opening Dialogue, can be found here, the second posting, Political Strategy: Beyond Extremist Labels can be found...

Daniel DiRito | July 21, 2006 | 10:21 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The Price Of Love genre: Rhyme-N-Reason & Uncivil Unions

The category “Rhyme-N-Reason" is intended to be a place to share poetry that stimulates thoughtful reflection. For me, writing poetry is cathartic. It’s a way to encapsulate a group of feelings or thoughts that might be on my mind...

Daniel DiRito | July 21, 2006 | 9:04 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Change genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Change Is Found Everywhere...But It Always Comes With A Cost....

Daniel DiRito | July 21, 2006 | 8:23 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Jon Stewart On Stem Cell Veto genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 20, 2006 | 9:19 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Deceiver, Part II: Focus On The Family genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

James Dobson and his organization Focus on the Family (I call it his "Wingdumb") stand by their interpretation of research on gay parenting despite the researchers assertion that the data has been manipulated for political usage. Thought Theater previously...

Daniel DiRito | July 20, 2006 | 11:34 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Dave Chappelle: What If There Was A Gay America? genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Tagged as: Comedy, Dave Chappelle, Gay, Humor, LGBT

Daniel DiRito | July 20, 2006 | 10:59 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Bush's Flawed Stem Cell Rationale genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Today George Bush vetoed the stem cell bill that had been passed by overwhelming majorities in the House and the Senate. Tony Snow, the White House Press Secretary, when explaining the Bush position stated "The simple answer is he thinks...

Daniel DiRito | July 19, 2006 | 9:10 AM | link | Comments (16)
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Gates Foundation: 287 Million For AIDS Vaccine genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

The Gates Foundation announced that it was contributing 287 million dollars towards efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine. Scientists have been seeking a vaccine for some 25 years with little success. Currently, there are more vaccine candidates in the...

Daniel DiRito | July 19, 2006 | 9:03 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show: Bush Makes Move On Merkel genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 9:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Afghanistan Reviving Virtues Ministry: Democracy? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

Despite the Bush administration mantra that Democracy is on the march, there is little evidence that anything resembling American democracy is taking hold in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, in an indication that Afghanistan may be slipping back towards...

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 6:56 PM | link | Comments (0)
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6,000 Killed In 60 Days In Iraq...Gays Targeted genre: Gaylingual & Just Jihad

The situation in Iraq continues to look bleak. The United Nations reports that some 6,000 civilians were killed in the troubled country in May and June. The report also indicates that some of the sectarian violence has begun targeting...

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 6:18 PM | link | Comments (0)
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House Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Amendment genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak

In standard election year form, the Republican Party has now completed its effort to use the issue of same-sex marriage to energize their base. The House vote fell 47 votes shy of the number needed to move the constitutional...

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 12:32 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show: Bush Immigration Speech genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 11:11 AM | link | Comments (0)
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George & Tony: Putting Spike & Tyke To Shame genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 10:30 AM | link | Comments (0)
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IRS: Churches & Politics Don't Mix genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The IRS has issued a warning to churches that they risk their tax exempt status if they fail to observe the requirement that they not engage in political activities. The 2004 presidential election marked a turning point in churches...

Daniel DiRito | July 18, 2006 | 8:37 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The Deceiver: Focus On The Family's James Dobson genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Following on the heals of the Thought Theater posting on the stem-cell debate that points out that those aligned with the religious the right have been misrepresenting the scientific data, the Associated Press is now reporting on an accusation...

Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2006 | 10:18 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Halliburton's "War On Integrity" genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

It was recently reported that the no-bid contract with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, & Root (KBR) to provide a variety of services in Iraq would be cancelled. Since early on in their contract, Halliburton has come under scrutiny for...

Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2006 | 9:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Bruno (Ali G) Barn Dances In Georgia genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2006 | 4:46 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Even Stephen: Islam vs. Christianity genre: Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 16, 2006 | 10:40 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Palestinian State: If We Build It, Answers Will Come genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The prevailing opinion is that the Middle East is a very complex and complicated region rife with centuries of sectarian, tribal, cultural, and religious differences. I agree with that characterization with regards to attempting to summarize the area historically....

Daniel DiRito | July 15, 2006 | 5:23 PM | link | Comments (9)
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George Bush Sings My United States Of Whateva! genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I thought this was a cute video making fun of George W. and his "Cowboy Diplomacy"....

Daniel DiRito | July 15, 2006 | 10:28 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Stem Cell Opponents Deceiving Public genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

With the Congress set to debate and vote on measures to expand government funding for stem cell research, those opposed to further funding have been offering false information to bolster their argument. If you listen to those who have...

Daniel DiRito | July 15, 2006 | 8:45 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Gay Marriage Setbacks: Nebraska & Tennessee genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Gay marriage suffered two setbacks today...one in Nebraska and one in Tennessee. A Federal Court of Appeals reinstated a Nebraska amendment banning same-sex marriage that had been struck down by a lower court. The Tennessee Supreme Court also ruled...

Daniel DiRito | July 14, 2006 | 12:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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DCCC Video: America Needs A New Direction genre: Polispeak & Video-Philes

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has produced a new video that will be a part of the midterm election push. It has drawn criticism from many Republicans because it has images of coffins returning from Iraq. These Republicans seem...

Daniel DiRito | July 14, 2006 | 12:09 PM | link | Comments (0)
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New Poll Data: Does It Provide Insights? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

With the recent flurry of polling data, I thought I might attempt to look at some of the numbers in order to gauge the direction of the voters and how the data may be connected to current and future...

Daniel DiRito | July 14, 2006 | 8:27 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Specter NSA Bill A Free Pass For Administration genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Arlen Specter, the master of bait and switch, is once again touting his efforts to champion a bill that he characterizes as meaningful reform and substantive cooperation on the part of the Bush administration with regard to the NSA...

Daniel DiRito | July 13, 2006 | 4:49 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Cheney: Obstacle To Middle East Detente genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The concept of detente, a feature of the Nixon years under the direction of Henry Kissinger, may be the most viable alternative to the spiraling conflict that now grips the Middle East. Standing clearly in the way of such...

Daniel DiRito | July 13, 2006 | 1:57 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Jon Stewart: Bush Shifting Policy On North Korea genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 13, 2006 | 10:16 AM | link | Comments (0)
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FDA Approves Single Pill HIV Treatment genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

For the first time in the history of HIV, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a single pill therapy for the treatment of the disease that is expected to be made make available for use in the U.S....

Daniel DiRito | July 12, 2006 | 7:24 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Beyond Apologies: The Pursuit Of "Truth" genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation

Brian is one of Thought Theater's regular readers and I always enjoy his thoughtful and engaging comments and observations. In his most recent comment, he begins with an apology...the details are, for the most part, irrelevant to this posting. First,...

Daniel DiRito | July 12, 2006 | 11:31 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Dave Chappelle: The "Niggar" Family genre: Six Degrees of Speculation & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I hesitated to post this video on the chance that it would be found offensive. Nonetheless, I decided to post it because I believe Dave Chappelle did this skit to demonstrate that prejudice is primarily a function of choice....

Daniel DiRito | July 12, 2006 | 9:38 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Bill Clinton Cautions Dems On Iraq & Lieberman genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Bill Clinton appeared this past Friday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. While he covered numerous topics, I took particular notice of his remarks about the upcoming midterm elections and the Iraq strategy of the Democratic Party. The remarks received...

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2006 | 8:13 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show: Countering Insurgency Essay genre: Just Jihad & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2006 | 2:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Gallup Poll Shows Bush Approval At 40% genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The latest Gallup poll indicates that President Bush has an overall approval rating of 40% while some 55% disapprove of his performance. These numbers reflect a string of recent gains for Bush who had been at a record low...

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2006 | 2:02 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Pentagon: Geneva Conventions Now Apply genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

In an apparent response to the recent Supreme Court ruling as to the handling of detainees held by the U.S. military, the Pentagon has issued a policy memo in which it acknowledges that those held at locations like Guantanamo...

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2006 | 8:33 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Rove: Bush To Veto Stem Cell Bill genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

President Bush has not vetoed a single bill since he began his presidency. Yesterday, Karl Rove indicated the President would use his veto power to kill any bill to expand funding for embryonic stem-cell research. The move, on the...

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2006 | 7:47 AM | link | Comments (0)
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White House Asks Judge To Dismiss NSA Suit genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

In an expected move, the White House has asked a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the legality of the Bush administration's NSA domestic surveillance program. The government argued that allowing the case...

Daniel DiRito | July 10, 2006 | 4:16 PM | link | Comments (0)
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2008 Gay Marriage Review Approved In Mass. genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Uncivil Unions

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that an initiative to ban same-sex marriage can be placed on the 2008 ballot if it is approved by the State Legislature in two upcoming sessions prior to the election date. Read...

Daniel DiRito | July 10, 2006 | 3:41 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Hedwig & The Angry Inch: Midnight Radio genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

One of my favorite movies is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s funny and its sad; its silly and its serious. On the surface the movie is about two people who fall in love and then fall apart. It...

Daniel DiRito | July 9, 2006 | 9:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Transportation genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Old Transportation Meets New Transportation...And They Both Have Wings....

Daniel DiRito | July 9, 2006 | 11:05 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Hoekstra Questions Legality Of Bush Surveillance genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Representative Pete Hoekstra, the powerful Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent President Bush a letter in May expressing his concerns that the failure of the administration to provide Congress with information and updates on secret intelligence activities...

Daniel DiRito | July 9, 2006 | 9:49 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Stem Cell Research: UCLA Able To Elicit T-cells genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

UCLA has taken a large step towards demonstrating the ability to use genetic manipulation to create t-cells which are an essential component of the immune system. The results are a further indication of the potential offered by the continuation of...

Daniel DiRito | July 9, 2006 | 9:06 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Pope To Travel To Spain: Condemn Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Pope Benedict is scheduled to travel to Spain on Saturday and is expected to deliver a message condemning Spain's approval of gay marriage. Read the full article here. Last month a hard-hitting Vatican document branded gay marriage, abortion, lesbians wanting...

Daniel DiRito | July 7, 2006 | 10:35 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Lieberman v. Lamont Debate Video genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

On Iraq On Being A Democrat On Party Loyalty Closing Statements...

Daniel DiRito | July 7, 2006 | 9:31 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Political Strategy: Splitting The Baby genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The following posting is the fourth entry in a continuing Thought Theater dialogue on political strategy. The first posting, Political Strategy: The Opening Dialogue, can be found here, the second posting, Political Strategy: Beyond Extremist Labels can be found here,...

Daniel DiRito | July 6, 2006 | 9:50 AM | link | Comments (3)
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New York Court Rules Against Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Uncivil Unions

UPDATE: The ruling was a 4-2 decision and the Court limited its decision to the argument that the constitution did not require that same sex marriages be allowed and they did not argue for or against the State Legislature...

Daniel DiRito | July 6, 2006 | 7:17 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Launch The Missiles: Happy 4th. From Kim Jong Ill genre: Just Jihad & Snapshot Thoughts

Daniel DiRito | July 4, 2006 | 3:17 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Colbert: Use Military To Promote Hetero Marriages genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Uncivil Unions & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 4, 2006 | 12:18 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Political Strategy: The Numbers Speak genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The following posting is the third entry in a continuing Thought Theater dialogue on political strategy. The first posting, Political Strategy: The Opening Dialogue, can be found here, and the second posting, Political Strategy: Beyond Extremist Labels can be found...

Daniel DiRito | July 4, 2006 | 9:41 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Heal Thy Self genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Rhyme-N-Reason

The category “Rhyme-N-Reason" is intended to be a place to share poetry that stimulates thoughtful reflection. For me, writing poetry is cathartic. It’s a way to encapsulate a group of feelings or thoughts that might be on my mind...

Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2006 | 3:40 PM | link | Comments (0)
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David Bowie: Strangers When We Meet genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2006 | 10:11 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Time Magazine Poll: Bush Drops To 35% genre: Polispeak

Despite what many feel has been a period of better news, the latest Time Magazine Poll shows the approval rating for President Bush has dropped to 35% and his handling of the war in Iraq is now at 33%. Read...

Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2006 | 9:33 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Spectacle genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

If You Don't See Well, Should You Still Wear Glasses To A Spectacle?...

Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2006 | 8:17 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Colbert Report: Superman & Other Gay Threats genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2006 | 7:07 AM | link | Comments (0)
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