August 2007 Archives

Code Blue: Judge Rules Gays Can Marry In Iowa genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Rinse Away The Gay

Iowa evangelicals were undoubtedly shocked and alarmed by the ruling of Polk County Judge Robert Hanson. The ruling states that Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and orders that the six plaintiff couples be granted marriage licenses. In his ruling, Judge Hanson argued that the Iowa Constitution provides for equal protection and due-process and that the passage of Iowa's Defense Of Marriage act violates that provision.

The ruling will be appealed and the attorney for Polk County is expected to seek a stay until the decision has been reviewed by a higher court...likely the Iowa Supreme Court.

The ruling will certainly add a new wrinkle to Iowa's presidential primary. Clearly, candidates who may have sought to limit their comments on the subject will now be forced to weigh in on the ruling...which will certainly increase the attention placed upon the outcome of the states primary.

From The Des Moines Register:

Polk County is expected to appeal the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court.

County Attorney John Sarcone said the county would immediately seek a stay from Hanson, which if granted would prevent anyone from seeking a marriage license until an appeal could be heard.

The case will be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which could refer it to the Iowa Court of Appeals, consider the case itself or decide not to hear the case.

Des Moines lawyer Dennis Johnson represented the six gay couples who filed suit after they were denied marriage licenses. He called the ruling "a moral victory for equal rights."

Johnson argued that Iowa has a long history of aggressively protecting civil rights in cases of race and gender. He said the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Legislature passed in 1998, contradicts previous court rulings regarding civil rights and should be struck down.

From Yahoo News:

With the decision of a county judge to strike down Iowa's law banning same-sex marriages, the state becomes a front-line battleground in America's ongoing political wrestling match over gay and lesbian rights.

Democratic and Republicans candidates will not be able to campaign in Iowa -- as all will be doing in coming days and weeks -- without addressing the ruling and the broader issue of same-sex marriage.

Of course, most of the candidates have already done this with varying degrees of specificity. But now they will be thrust into the center of a real-life struggle in a state where they will be spending a great deal of time between now and the day in December or January when Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses are held.

Both Democratic and Republican candidates will be forced to offer specific responses to precise legal arguments, as well as to the very human demands of men and women in Iowa who have gone public with their struggle for the right to marry their partners.

The equal protection clause has been used in other similar rulings. Perhaps the most notable was the ruling in Colorado striking down Amendment Two. The amendment was passed by voters in 1992, stayed from being enacted by Judge Bayless in December of that year, and subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I decided to have a little fun with the ruling and the evangelicals who will certainly be mobilizing to protect the institution of marriage from the destructive influences of same-sex unions. The following is a list of suggestions designed to protect the marriages of evangelicals...which they may want to enact until such time as the ruling can be stayed or stricken down by a higher court.

Rumor has it that wearing a necklace of corn cobs will ward off the negative and evil influences one may experience when encountering a married homosexual.

Evangelical women should encourage their husbands to avoid any possibilities of being identified as a metro-sexual...such men are prime targets for conversion efforts.

Evangelical men must monitor the television their wives are watching during the day. The militant homosexuals have infiltrated daytime programming in order to convert unsuspecting women of faith. Under no circumstances should evangelical women be allowed to watch Ellen or The View. While the V Chip was intended to monitor the programs viewed by children, husbands are encouraged to utilize the device to prohibit the watching of inappropriate programs by vulnerable wives.

Evangelical businesses are encouraged to remove all coffee tables and coffee table books and magazines from their waiting areas as it may attract married homosexuals.

Evangelical males who may be traveling by airplane are encouraged to avoid the use of airport restrooms...there are concerns that heterosexual men may be vulnerable to the lure of these palatial potties. Women should encourage their husbands to use the bathroom before departing the home and not again until they are on the plane. Evangelical women need not worry about the sex their husbands have on a plane as the Mile High Club currently prohibits the formation of a homosexual affiliate. Notwithstanding, there are concerns that a secret sect of stewards are planning to form a similar club called "In The "O" Zone". Please check back for updates.

In extreme situations, it may be necessary for husbands to hire the services of a prostitute. Recent research by Senator Vitter of Louisiana suggests that a threatened marriage can be renewed by such measures...and it has an added communal effect which was evidenced by the standing ovation the senator received upon his return to Washington. He is a true champion of heterosexual marriage. Thought Theater has learned from an anonymous source that the Senator will announce a new campaign designed to defend marriage...the campaign is called "Marriage: One Man, One Woman, & A Shit Load Of Hookers".

A word of caution to the wives of evangelical ministers. Under no circumstances should you allow your husbands to travel out of town on trips that require an overnight stay or time alone. It is being reported that information provided by hotel staff and informational literature found in hotel rooms has been co-opted by militant homosexuals. Completely innocent massages have been reported to lead to man on man sex and the use of illicit drugs which are designed to convert the unsuspecting minister. Those who doubt the veracity of this warning need only be reminded of the fall of well-known Colorado Springs minister, Ted Haggard.

Lastly, should your spouse lose their way and succumb to the tireless efforts of the homosexual agenda...fear not. The same program that restored Ted Haggard in a matter of a few weeks is being made available to the people of Iowa on a priority basis. If you suspect your spouse has fallen, please contact Gay-B-Gone and they will forward you a trial sample of their revolutionary product Rinse-Away-The-Gay...a quick penetrating shampoo that will leave your spouse tingling from the infusion of the holy spirit...and you feeling confident that your betrothed is on the road to recovery. Call now...the phones are staffed by sympathetic and satisfied customers.

Tagged as: 2008 Primary, David Vitter, Evangelicals, Iowa, Larry Craig, LGBT, Same-Sex Marriage, Ted Haggard

Daniel DiRito | August 31, 2007 | 10:01 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Mo Rocca Asks "Have You Googled Yourself?" genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I've always felt Mo Rocca was one of the most underrated comics in the business. Perhaps that's a function of my interest in politics and the fact that Rocca is as knowledgeable as most of the news reporters we see on television. Even better, his skill at deadpan comedy in a political setting is unmatched.

Rocca has covered a lot of territory in is career; having worked as a correspondent on The Daily Show, worked on Larry King Live as a consultant/political historian, and now as a feature player on The Tonight Show. He also appears on PBS, VH1, The Food Network, and has a regular show on Sirius Satellite Radio.

His work during the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions is some of his best. Besides being quite funny, his knowledge of U.S. presidents is extensive and the fact that he wrote a book on the pets of the presidents titled, All the Presidents' Pets: The Inside Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over, only adds to his comic depth.

The following video clip is of Mo asking people on the street if they've ever "googled" themselves. As one might expect, Mo livens up the questioning with a few strategically placed innuendo's and double entendre's.

Tagged as: Google, Humor, Mo Rocca

Daniel DiRito | August 31, 2007 | 9:10 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Deciphering What Is Written On The Bathroom Stall genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Writing On The Stall

As the blogosphere has sought to digest the meaning of the Larry Craig incident, it has begun to spur a worthwhile debate...one which has been ignored and has lurked in the background in ways eerily similar to the behavior that led to the arrest of the Senator.

Generally speaking, the public is opposed to encountering unexpected or offensive behaviors in public environments...and that is a reasonable concern for those within government to address. Clearly, the opinions regarding which behaviors constitute a nuisance or create the conditions under which to charge an individual with a crime will vary from individual to individual...often dependent upon one's values, one's religious beliefs, ands one's propensity for tolerance. The fact that there are discordant beliefs simply complicates the task for those charged with monitoring such activities.

By and large, citizens believe that law enforcement departments are committed to treating each individual fairly and with the same level of respect for their civil liberties. At the same time, history tells us that this isn't always the case. Regardless, most citizens afford our law enforcement departments the benefit of the doubt...which is as it should be...but only to a point.

In writing about the Larry Craig situation, I broached the question of whether the targeting of men who have sex with men (I avoid using the term gay because studies indicate that many of the men who participate in these clandestine encounters are married and consider themselves to be heterosexual) receives a level of attention that is commensurate with that given to those who engage in opposite sex liaisons in public locations.

I have asked readers and colleagues to ponder the question and to cite any examples whereby tactics similar to those employed in the Senator's case are being utilized to charge those engaged in opposite sex public encounters. At the moment, I have not been provided with any such examples...though a few individuals have cited prostitution stings as examples. I have discounted such examples because they constitute a specific crime that is not at play in circumstances like that of Senator Craig...meaning that the individuals charged in men's restrooms are engaging in consensual sex without the exchange of money (by definition the exchange of money is an act of solicitation), which generally leads to charges of lewd behavior, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct.

I don't want to devolve into a legalistic discussion though some basic understandings are required for this debate. Firstly, laws can and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so one size doesn't fit all. Secondly, courts have offered a number of rulings on the subject though no definitive across the board position can actually be derived.

Relevant to this topic, the Senator's actions constituted disorderly conduct...despite what he may have intended to do. In essence, intention doesn't necessarily equate with the ability to convict on the lewd behavior charge. The fact that he plead to the lesser charge (disorderly conduct) is evidence of this reality. Further, in some of these cases, the accused have successfully argued that their actions in a closed door stall in a restroom facility cannot equate with disorderly conduct because their actions didn't actually take place in public. The argument is open to interpretation and it can progress into questions of a fundamental granting of constitutional privacy privileges.

With that said, one can see that the issue is more complex than one might expect. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that the issue isn't solely one of legality as it is reasonable to consider other factors...such as what the public can legitimately expect upon entering a public restroom. While I am personally opposed to using these restrooms for sexual liaisons, the issue requires a much more comprehensive analysis.

To introduce the other considerations, let me begin with a simple example that will hopefully illuminate my concerns. Suppose one conducted a survey whereby the objective was to gauge the public's reaction and response to witnessing an apparent sexual encounter in a public restroom. In the study, the respondents witness 50% of the situations involving same sex participants and the other 50% involving opposite sex participants. In both cases, the sex of the participants is obvious, as is the sexual nature of the activity.

The respondents are then confronted as they exit the restroom in order to gauge their reaction as well as what they believe to be the appropriate response from law enforcement. Each respondent is asked to explain what they believe they witnessed to insure that they properly identified the sex of the participants. Once that is determined, they are asked to respond to a multiple choice question outlining the action they believe should be taken.

The first answer is, "While I don't think they should be doing this in a public restroom, I'm not in favor of it being a crime." The second answer is, "I think that they should be charged with a crime in the event that a law enforcement officer were to be summoned". The final answer is, "I think that law enforcement needs to establish a sting operation to target those who might intend to engage in such activity in order to catch and charge them".

My own belief is that the responses would be skewed towards answer number one with regards to opposite sex participants and towards answer number three with regards to same sex participants. I say as much because it would likely reflect the beliefs held by most Americans...meaning that heterosexual sex is viewed to be more acceptable than homosexual sex. In fact, I would contend that many of the respondents would laugh off the heterosexual activity while many of those witnessing homosexual activity would be outraged.

Therefore, one must ask whether the existing law enforcement actions being conducted in situations similar to that in Minneapolis...which led to the arrest of the Senator...reflect a societal bias with regards to homosexuals. In the absence of similar operations aimed at heterosexual activity, it seems safe to conclude that the treatment is not equal...and is likely reflective of prejudice.

Let me offer an even simpler example to reinforce my argument. All things being equal, a kiss between same sex couples in public will elicit a negative reaction (a moral judgment)...while a heterosexual kiss may elicit no reaction or at worst a negative reaction that such behavior doesn't belong in public...but rarely a negative moral judgment.

If that same bias is being applied to the actions of law enforcement (and it seems difficult to assume otherwise), we have a problem with selective and unfair discrimination.

Let me share part of a discussion I've been involved with on this very topic. The information is from an individual who works with this issue and the men who are being charged with these types of offenses. I am not including his name or the organization as a matter of privacy. While I don't agree with every point made, I think it provides some important insight into a perspective that is often omitted from discussions of this issue.

Ok. The agency I work for has worked on hundreds of these cases. We have won lawsuits on the matter so I am going to respond to this last post with a few items.

1. Undercover operations have 0 deterrent effect. There is no evidence that sting operations against gay men have a deterrent effect. In fact the opposite is true. When members of the public see uniformed police – THAT is a deterrent. It makes many people feel more safe and if you combine it with signs saying that illegal behavior will be prosecuted or that surveillance is occurring (it doesn't have to be occurring) then you could argue there is a deterrent goal by the facility. But hiding a police officer does not prevent crime all it does is A. catch criminals or B. invites entrapment by overzealous cops who are frustrated with cautious perpetrators that refuse to take the bait. This is the reality.

2. Charging people is the goal. Police are very politically motivated. Their jobs and their bosses jobs are very much designed around getting rid of undesirables including queers. These operations usually carry a higher charge like in the Craig case where he claimed he had to negotiate it down to a misdemeanor. Charging felonies is about getting queers on the sex offender registry, shaming them in public, or costing them so much money they won't dare fight the charge in court. We had a case of 770 arrests in 4 months. Almost all were innocent. 50 of the guys got in touch with (agency name omitted) and all were acquitted because the officer refused to show up for court, meaning that he would commit perjury about what he put in the police reports. There is a fine for the charge, a fine for the court fees, attorney fees and sometimes there is a “nuisance abatement" charge so they can take your car which costs hundred to get it back. This is thousands more if you go to court. I repeat. These charges do not deter men or else every cruisy area where there were arrests would see reductions. This is not the case.

3. Police mostly are not responding to public complaints. Police know about cruisy restrooms because of websites and a few public complaints. We have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after FOIA after FOIA and never once have we received a public complaint of public sex. If this is such a big problem, which justifies an undercover operation, there should be some documentation. Nada. In (state omitted), the State Police even called their operations “Bag a Fag" operations and printed T-Shirts saying so. This is the sign of bias not serving and protecting. If there are really people observing public sex (which is rare because most of this activity is committed by guys that do not want to be seen or caught) then a uniformed cop walking in should be able to see the same thing right. Right. But they don't want to deter it or stumble across it, they want to invite it. They want it to happen. 9 times out of ten these men never get a warning and sent away. They invest so much money and time that they love charging on the first offense, charging high and publicizing the hell out of it.

4. I have trained over 1000 police, some as a condition of our lawsuit and nearly all of them believe that gay sex is so sick they would do anything to root it out. I have had cops say out loud in a training that they would watch two women go at it, send a str8 couple home and bust a gay couple. I have also had cops admit in these trainings that these operations are scams designed to make money and shame people. Some chiefs and some prosecutors won't honor them at all. In (state omitted) we have shut down many of these when high level chiefs have admitted that uniformed cops are an effective way of dealing with the “problem."

I think this is invaluable information...information that gives the reader a first hand view of the realities confronted by those who have engaged in such activity and the obstacles they face...but it also provides insight into which methods may be effective in limiting or deterring these activities as well as exposing the possibility that the motivations of those who establish programs like the one found in Minneapolis may be biased and misguided.

It's difficult to argue in favor of a program that isn't effective...unless, of course, one is particularly prejudiced against those who are participating in the behavior. If the goal is to extinguish this activity, it appears that these sting operations are less than effective.

Rather than rely upon one source, I consulted a document prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice titled, "Illicit Sexual Activity in Public Places". The following excerpts are from this lengthy document and they reiterate and reinforce some of the concerns shared in the prior quotation.

There are widely different perspectives on public sexual activity. Some do not believe the behavior constitutes a public safety threat; some view the behavior as a "victimless crime" involving two consenting partners; and some see the behavior as a threat to the community's "moral decency." "Impersonal," "casual," and "anonymous" sexual behaviors have negative connotations to many people, as they stand in contrast to ideals of romantic love, monogamous relationships, and long-term commitments. Moral overtones pervade discussions of nudity and sexuality, particularly when they address same sex interactions. These judgments often underlie the public's concern. Community morals and beliefs about how the law should regulate morality will affect how each community addresses the problem. This guide does not adopt any particular moral perspective; it is intended to inform you about the effectiveness and consequences of various approaches to controlling public sexual activity.

Primarily, such activity constitutes nuisance behavior and does not pose a serious threat to community safety.

The responses to public sexual activity can be fraught with difficulty. Charges of harassment, entrapment, bias and discrimination against homosexuals have historically surrounded efforts to address public sexual activity between men. Therefore, it is vital that you objectively analyze the problem so that you develop fair and effective responses.

Certain patterns (e.g., opposite-sex coupling at a "lovers' lane") have not been studied empirically, while others (e.g., same-sex contact in public restrooms) have been studied much more extensively. It is important to note that engaging in same-sex activity does not necessarily imply a homosexual identity; in fact, many men who have sex with men in public places are married or otherwise heterosexually involved, and do not consider themselves to be gay.

When apprehended, many offenders may suffer substantial social repercussions, in addition to any criminal justice related consequences that may ensue. Threats to their
marriages, friendships, jobs, reputations, and social standing often cause them to try to distract attention from their behaviors by showing exaggerated degrees of respectability, such as strong ties to the religious community or passionate condemnation of homosexuality. The larger the community's moral objections to public sexual activity mean that participants have much to lose if they are discovered.

Two things are immediately apparent. One, The Justice Department realizes that efforts to limit this type of activity have moral considerations...and that can lead to prejudicial judgments. Two, the fact that same-sex activity is the only activity that has been extensively studied supports my contention that little effort is expended to suppress similar heterosexual activity. It also suggests that a bias has existed for many years with regard to homosexual activity and it has often been targeted.

A lack of privacy may also be the reason for male sexual activity in public restrooms. In particular, men with heterosexual identities may want to conceal their behavior
from significant others. Their heterosexual identities also deter them from using other, less-public venues such as gay bars or sex clubs. Some homosexual men also lack the freedom to pursue same-sex partners privately due to family or peer disapproval. A community's condemnation of homosexuality may drive the behavior to remote, although public, locations, particularly among those exploring their sexuality and not yet connected to the gay community.

Most researchers and practitioners agree that focusing solely on arresting those engaging in public sexual activity is unlikely to reduce the overall scope of the problem. In your response strategy, you should acknowledge that it will be difficult to affect people's motivations for engaging in the activity. A balanced approach combining enforcement strategies and those targeting environments that support the behavior is most likely to decrease the prevalence of the activity and the public's concern about it.

Used alone, enforcement efforts are likely to lead to displacement. Although not the most desirable outcome, there is evidence that when displacement does occur, the magnitude of the problem decreases with the move to a new location.

In addition, an exclusive focus on environments in which same-sex interactions occur can result in charges of bias and discrimination. Therefore, you must address the full range of public sexual activity and target particular locations based on objective, justifiable assessments of threats to public safety.

Again, the report confirms many of the same conclusions offered by the party quoted above and with whom I discussed the issue. I view the warnings in the last paragraph to be a tacit acknowledgment that there has been a focus upon same sex encounters. Note the use of the word objective...a word which tells me that the Justice Department has encountered programs that are subjective.

The report proceeds to list a number of possible responses to the presence of illicit sexual activity in public places. The list begins with 17 suggested responses (proactive actions intended to reduce the activity and make locations less favorable meeting places). This is followed by numbers 18 and 19 which are listed under the heading "Responses With Limited Effectiveness". Those two items are "Using Undercover Decoys" and "Harassing Or Intimidating Suspects".

18. Using undercover decoys. While using undercover officers to pose as interested parties in illicit same-sex public activity can lead to many arrests, such operations have not had long-term effectiveness in reducing overall activity levels. At best, they temporarily displace the activity to other locations, and the activity usually returns to prior levels once the operations have ceased. Further, given the active role that undercover officers must take to confirm suspects' intentions, the police may be vulnerable to entrapment claims. In addition, many officers are reluctant to serve as decoys because of the customary behavioral scripts they must follow. Finally, some may see the serious social consequences of the publicity following an arrest as disproportionate to the severity of the offense.

19. Harassing or intimidating suspects. Many who engage in public sexual activity do not want witnesses and try to avoid being seen. Thus, it can be difficult for police to obtain probable cause for an arrest. When the community pressures police to address the problem, officers may resort to harassing or intimidating those observed loitering in parks or rest areas. This approach undermines police integrity, can create tension with the gay and lesbian community and other residents concerned about civil rights, and has not proved particularly effective.

For the most part, the Justice Department document seems to be a reasonably objective discussion of the topic. I interpret the tenor to be impartial and informative...all of which I find rather refreshing given the well-publicized concerns as to the Bush administrations possible inclinations to politicize the department.

When one considers the arguments I've presented, in conjunction with the information provided by external sources, a picture begins to emerge. Clearly, there has been an inordinate historical focus upon the pursuit and punishment of those engaged in same sex encounters...likely a derivative of established social norms and values.

Over time, it also appears that there has been a growing awareness that programs to limit public sexual activity need to evolve and to begin incorporating methods that seek to extinguish the behavior as opposed to criminalizing it. That is a positive development.

Regardless, those in positions of authority are still forced to confront the views, opinions, and complaints of the citizens which they serve and/or represent. In so doing, there is likely to remain a focus upon, and a bias against, same sex activities.

Responsible leadership would be wise to approach the sensitive subject with caution, with an emphasis upon deterrence, and with the ample evidence necessary to prevent overreaction and the imposition of prejudicial programs that are simply designed to appease an angry public.

At the same time, the society at large must do its part to foster an environment that doesn't penalize, ostracize, or marginalize those who are desirous of same sex relationships. Simultaneously, closeted gays must summon the courage to come out in order to foster greater understanding in the society...and more importantly...to allow themselves to experience the healthy and meaningful relationships they may feel are unattainable in a judgmental environment.

As I've explored this topic, I cannot help but acknowledge the irony found in the opposition to same sex marriage or its equivalent. Truth be told, those who decide to vilify homosexuality may actually do more harm by acting to oppose the recognition of such relationships...a fact that may well be evidenced by the behavior of the Senator and many others.

Clearly, people are entitled to oppose homosexuality. At the same time, denying homosexuals the opportunity to establish meaningful and recognized unions seems to contribute to the damage that can be done to decent human beings...individuals who seek little more than the same acceptance and rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that adults who participate in same sex sexual activities in public locales aren't culpable for their actions or that they are entitled to interpret opposition to same sex relationships as a justification for their suspect behavior. Nonetheless, I contend one cannot be discussed in the absence of the other.

In the end, if we're truly a nation which prides itself upon its compassion and its affinity for Christian values, why would we be so careless as to refuse to extend these considerations to our fellow citizens? It's an inconsistency worth pondering.

Tagged as: Homophobia, Homosexuality, Justice Department, Larry Craig, LGBT, Public Sex, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexuality, Sting Operations

Daniel DiRito | August 30, 2007 | 11:45 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Carrying GWB's Water: GAO Shoots Holes In Bucket genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

George Bush's Water

Oh I just can't wait for the good news...you know...the good news about the success of the surge and the progress being made on the political front in Iraq. With every nugget of good news, the Bush administration apologists race to report the shifting tide while also chiding the defeatist Democrats. You have to admire their fortitude...their undaunted willingness to push the rock back up the hill over and over again...as if to be reenacting the plight of the mythical Sisyphus.

Unfortunately, the rock appears poised to slide back down the hill once again with the release of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. According to a draft of the document, the White House has apparently engaged in an effort to offer an assessment that may well conflict with the more negative views found in the administration. In other the words, the spin doctors have been very busy in anticipation of the GAO report as well as the findings to be offered by General Petraeus in September.

To demonstrate the divide that exists between those who are carrying the President's water and the GAO assessment, I decided to put one statement next to the other and allow the reader to draw their own comparisons and conclusions.

From The Boston Globe:

Good news, but not for Democrats
By Jeff Jacoby | August 29, 2007

For months, observers have been crediting General David Petraeus's "surge" with remarkable progress on the ground. That message has come not only from longtime supporters of the war, but from some tough critics as well.

Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, analysts at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, jolted Washington with their July 30 op-ed column, "A War We Just Might Win." Eleven days later, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which had long pronounced the war a misbegotten disaster, radically revised its view. "The US military is more successful in Iraq than the world wants to believe," journalist Ullrich Fichtner reported. So much so that the outcome the Bush administration "erroneously predicted before their invasion -- that the troops would be greeted with candy and flowers -- could in fact still come true."

More good news came just this week in a breakthrough announced by Iraq's top Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish politicians. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and the Kurdish regional president, Massoud Barzani, are joining forces on legislation to settle some of the thorniest issues bedeviling Iraqi politics, including a national oil policy, an easing of de-Baathification, and the release of certain detainees.

For most Americans, positive developments in Iraq are very welcome. But good news is bad news for the Democratic left, where opposition to the war has become an emotional investment in defeat.

From The Washington Post:

Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals
GAO Draft at Odds With White House
By Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

"While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

"Overall," the report concludes, "key legislation has not been passed, violence remains high, and it is unclear whether the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion in reconstruction funds," as promised. While it makes no policy recommendations, the draft suggests that future administration assessments "would be more useful" if they backed up their judgments with more details and "provided data on broader measures of violence from all relevant U.S. agencies."

Look, the bottom line is that the Bush administration is waging multiple wars...the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq...and the one at home designed to justify the quagmire in Iraq.

Jacoby's tortured defense cites the widely criticized O'Hanlon and Pollack article...the one that received broad criticism and which the authors felt compelled to point out that they had no input in deciding the title of the article...stating that it may have been too optimistic and inconsistent with their actual conclusions.

Worse still, Jacoby goes so far as to quote a German article which repeats the pre-war assessment of Dick Cheney that our soldiers would be greeted by candy and flowers. I hate to point this out to Jacoby, but that was nearly five years ago and at this point...assuming they ever existed...the candy is undoubtedly stale and the flowers have long since wilted. In fact, stale and wilted seems like a much better assessment of the situation...as well as the one voters seem much more inclined to accept.

Jacoby then pivots to discuss the al-Maliki government's announcement of political reconciliation...failing to acknowledge the fact that the government is being boycotted by nearly half of the cabinet or the fact that former Bush administration officials are actively seeking to unseat the al-Maliki government. Essentially, this announcement of a tentative meeting of the minds comprises a portion of what little progress is being reported by the GAO. Jacoby fails to mention the numerous other benchmarks that remain unmet.

Clearly, Jacoby is entitled to his optimism...but reality tells us that his article is little more than a biased attempt to build momentum for a failed strategy and an unpopular war. His final spin seeks to suggest that Democrats are falling all over themselves as they attempt to disavow themselves from their partisan negativity. His effort to depict the position of the Democrats as an "emotional investment" seems to be little more than a classic case of projection.

Suffice it to say that Jacoby's ginned up garble lacks substance, does little to impugn the position of the Democrats, and serves to highlight the desperation of the White House as it approaches the eleventh hour of a malaise which arguably mirrors a mythical tragedy.

The following excerpts from the Post article provide further contrast and cast additional doubt on the veracity of the Jacoby piece.

One of eight political benchmarks -- the protection of the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature -- has been achieved, according to the draft. On the others, including legislation on constitutional reform, new oil laws and de-Baathification, it assesses failure.

"Prospects for additional progress in enacting legislative benchmarks have been complicated by the withdrawal of 15 of 37 members of the Iraqi cabinet," it says. An internal administration assessment this month, the GAO says, concluded that "this boycott ends any claim by the Shi'ite-dominated coalition to be a government of national unity." An administration official involved in Iraq policy said that he did not know what specific interagency document the GAO was citing but noted that it is an accurate reflection of the views of many officials.

The GAO draft also says that the number of Iraqi army units capable of operating independently declined from 10 in March to six last month. The July White House report mentioned a "slight" decline in capable Iraqi units, without providing any numbers. The GAO also says, as did the White House in July, that the Iraqi government has intervened in military activities for political reasons, "resulting in some operations being based on sectarian interests."

The Bush administration and those inclined to defend it seem to be ignoring one crucial consideration...they fail to realize or accept that their campaign to tout progress cannot succeed without some actual progress. The American public is generally patient...but to assume that they are also stupid is a grave misjudgment.

George Bush may have little to lose at this point...but those within the GOP who are willing to ignore the message of the 2006 election do so at their own peril.

Tagged as: 2008 election, al Maliki Government, Democrats, GAO, George W. Bush, GOP, Iraq, Jeff Jacoby, Sectarian Conflict

Daniel DiRito | August 30, 2007 | 9:28 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Keith Olbermann Reenacts The Larry Craig Arrest genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Keith Olbermann uses the actual police report from the arrest of Senator Larry Craig to create a video reenactment of the incident. Nothing like pictures to tell a story.

Perhaps the Senator can get his hands on a video camera and produce his own reenactment. It couldn't be any more harmful than his "thanks for coming out" press conference.

On second thought, I'm not sure the Senator wants to be seen in a men's restroom with a video camera...after all, there must be a limit to the times a guy can deny that he's gay.

Dragnet: Larry Craig

Tagged as: Countdown, Keith Olbermann, Larry Craig, LGBT, Minneapolis Airport, U.S. Senate

Daniel DiRito | August 29, 2007 | 8:17 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Tucker Carlson: His Neurotic Fear Of Neutering genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek

We live in a messed up world. We have an anti-gay Senator from Idaho sending signals and playing footsie with an undercover male police officer in a Minneapolis airport restroom which is reportedly known for secret sexual encounters.

Not to be outdone, we have Tucker Carlson telling the tale of being "bothered" by another man in a restroom while in high school...an incident which he contends forced him to race out of the bathroom and seek out a friend to return with him to "accost" the gay man.

The video follows.

But wait, it doesn't stop there. Tucker has a seeming obsession with protecting his manhood. On several occasions during his MSNBC program, Tucker has indicated that simply seeing or hearing certain people will lead him to "involuntarily cross his legs"...an inference that there are individuals who would willingly emasculate him. The funny thing, most of these people are women...such as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Grace.

On a new gadget called a Hillary Nutcracker:

CARLSON: I don't know, but that is so perfect. I have often said, when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.

During a discussion about Hillary Clinton:

CARLSON: Boy, she scares me. I cross my legs every time she talks, every time. Pat Buchanan, Melinda Henneberger, thank you very much. No, it's true. It's involuntary. I don't mean it, but I do every single time.

CARLSON: Oh, every time, involuntarily. It's like those pictures you see of the soccer goalie when they're about to get the free kick. That's me when she talks. I can't help it.

On Nancy Grace:

CARLSON: I don't want to be on a long car trip with her. She scares me. I cross my legs involuntarily every time she comes on the air.

Nope, not finished yet. On August 10th, while interviewing Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign regarding the Logo/HRC Democratic Candidate Forum, the discussion shifted to John Edwards and his answer to a question about how he would react to having a transgender employee. Carlson quickly focused upon...yep, you got it...his "boys" and the terror he associates with the thought of their removal.

Given Tucker's preoccupation, it seemed appropriate to offer my own list of situations and circumstances that lead Mr. Carlson to inadvertently cross his legs.

Number Ten

Using one egg to crack open another.

Number Nine

Seeing a squirrel scurrying up a tree with a mouth full of acorns.

Number Eight

Watching his children play with their wacky clackers.

Number Seven

Peeling and removing the seed from an overripe avocado.

Number Six

Watching the neighborhood kids playing with their hackey sacks.

Number Five

Watching an automatic cherry pitter race through enough cherries to make a pie.

Number Four

Receiving a pair of deep fried hush puppies with his seafood combo at Captain D's.

Number Three

The mere thought of a steely busting up a cluster of marbles inside the circle.

Number Two

The entire process of making sausage...from the meat grinding to the stuffing of the casings.

Number One

Watching his wife make a cup of tea by dipping a tea bag into a hot cup of water.

Tagged as: Brad Luna, Hillary Clinton, Human Rights Campaign, Larry Craig, Logo Democratic Forum, Nancy Grace, Tucker Carlson

Daniel DiRito | August 29, 2007 | 4:15 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Queen Of Mean Is Still Pulling Strings genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Queen Of Mean

In truth, I could care less about the estate of Leona Helmsley...but upon reading some of the instructions from her will on the internet this morning, I had to comment about the person that would leave these details and directives. Given the terms of the will, Helmsley, known unaffectionately as "The Queen Of Mean", lived up to her nickname...even after her death.

NEW YORK - Leona Helmsley’s dog will continue to live an opulent life, and then be buried alongside her in a mausoleum. But two of Helmsley’s grandchildren got nothing from the late luxury hotelier and real estate billionaire’s estate.

Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12 million trust fund, according to her will, which was made public Tuesday in surrogate court.

She also left millions for her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, who was named to care for Trouble in her absence, as well as two of four grandchildren from her late son Jay Panzirer — so long as they visit their father’s grave site once each calendar year.

Otherwise, she wrote, neither will get a penny of the $5 million she left for each.

Helmsley left nothing to two of Jay Panzirer’s other children — Craig and Meegan Panzirer — for “reasons that are known to them," she wrote.

“I direct that when my dog, Trouble, dies, her remains shall be buried next to my remains in the Helmsley mausoleum," Helmsley wrote in her will.

The mausoleum, she ordered, must be “washed or steam-cleaned at least once a year." She left behind $3 million for the upkeep of her final resting place in Westchester County, where she is buried with her husband, Harry Helmsley.

She also left her chauffeur, Nicholas Celea, $100,000.

OK, I'll be the first to acknowledge that its a free country and Helmsley was entitled to do as she saw fit. I'll even give her the benefit of the doubt and agree that she actually worked to earn some of the money held in her estate. Beyond that, I'm not sure I can find any other redeeming remarks to make about a woman who obviously spent the better part of her life angry, bitter, and vindictive.

No doubt Helmsley's will was designed to fulfill each and every intention found in the expression, "her reach extended beyond the grave". Such rancor is not only reprehensible, it is a restive reminder of a woman who apparently lacked the ability to see beyond her own self-absorbed persona...a woman who defined her worth solely in terms of wealth...and likely used that wealth to manipulate all those who came within striking distance of the virtual viper.

At the same time, I can't help but think that Helmsley was a fool...perhaps a judgment I have no authority to make...but one I'll proceed to offer with the confidence that my conclusion won't be challenged by a long line of Helmsley apologists and defenders.

Assuming the reports are accurate that the estate was worth approximately $2.5 billion...the money designated for friends, family, her chauffeur, her canine confidante, and, of course, the upkeep of her granite gravesite...is as best I can tell a paltry sum of just over 35 million, not even two percent of her estate.

In fact, the money spent on her final resting place...when combined with the funds designated for its upkeep as well as the dollars left to her dog...almost matches all the money she left to living relatives.

To understand my calling Helmsley a fool, one story will suffice to illustrate my assertion. A few years back, Helmsley decided to relocate the remains of her husband. The decision was precipitated when the cemetery elected to construct a large group mausoleum that obstructed the view from the family plot.

Leona Helmsley, for years the imperious head of a multibillion-dollar real estate and hotel empire, will spend eternity in a $1.4 million suburban mausoleum with a magnificent view, alongside her beloved husband, Harry.

She previously moved her husband's remains after becoming dissatisfied with his old neighborhood.

The expansive family mausoleum at Woodlawn was memorably described as a "tomb with a view," but the sweeping vista disappeared when a public mausoleum -- potentially filled with those "little people" who paid taxes -- went up nearby three years ago.

An irate Leona called the new construction "a disgrace," and resolved to relocate the remains of her husband and her son, Jay Panzirer.

She purchased a piece of land in Sleepy Hollow to construct a new mausoleum -- and quickly alienated her husband's new, living neighbors. A wooded section of the cemetery was stripped clean of trees in summer 2005.

The new construction lacked permits, and village officials quickly shut down the project, Zegarelli said.

The two sides worked out their differences -- fines were paid and donations were made by the Helmsley group to repair some of the damage. Last August, the mausoleum was approved for the reinterment.

Please note the final paragraph...the one in which the true nature of Helmsley is exposed. Specifically, in the words, "fines were paid and donations were made", the essence of Helmsley is revealed. Unwilling to see beyond her own desires and demands and unable to resolve issues amenably...Helmsley relied upon her money to buy the cooperation and congeniality of those she encountered.

Unfortunately, such a strategy rarely works with ones own family members...and the fact that she disinherited two of her grandchildren affirms that reality. Regardless, even in death Helmsley held fast to her beliefs and left the vast majority of her wealth to charity...and in so doing she confirmed herself to be a fool. Let me explain.

Anyone who has been around fundraising or worked with charitable organizations knows that those charged with the task of finding and finagling the necessary financial backing are masterful manipulators...and I say as much with no malice since it is a required skill. In my estimation, those who are successful at fundraising must be regarded as capable and competent pseudo-psychologists...and they must have the patience of Job.

Sadly, all too often, people like Helmsley succumb to the serendipitous swooning of these savvy shills...all the while believing that they are receiving the respect and the required restraint they desire and demand...but cannot obtain from those they encounter in the regular course of events...real life people who are often relatives with real feelings which are, on occasion, released in raw and unedited exchanges.

As we know, for a woman like Helmsley, there is little room for give and take...a debilitating condition which I believe she regularly exhibited...though I confess that I do not know the particular dynamics of its origin in her personality. Notwithstanding, this well-documented trait likely made her the ideal candidate for the donation dance...an artful exchange enacted by those able to convey the belief that one's partner is the ideal lead...while all the while directing their every step until such time as they are furtively separated from the sought after and subtly solicited funds.

At the end of this dance, people like Helmsley are unconsciously convinced that what they have taken in the way of psychic soothing far exceeds the gift they give...and the process of give and take has been reduced to little more than a primal pampering reminiscent of the comforting coos of a nurturing nanny.

In designating that the lions share of her fortune be distributed through the Leona and Harry Helmsley Charitable Trust, Helmsley departed this life still enamored with the faulty notion that charity does not and will not begin at home. Fortunately, those strangers who may benefit from her great wealth will not be required to dance with the devilish diva. Tragically, her family and friends who acquiesced to her every whim will remain relegated to the sidelines...still dancing to the demands of a damaged and domineering demagogue.

Tagged as: Empire State Building, Harry Helmsley, Leona Helmsley, The Queen Of Mean, Trouble

Daniel DiRito | August 29, 2007 | 9:42 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Sen. Craig, Bathroom Sex, & The Broad Berth Of Bias genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Broad Berth Of Bias

I'm always fascinated by the reaction to stories like that of Senator Larry Craig...the Idaho senator who plead guilty to disorderly conduct following his arrest for lewd behavior (he was basically charged for allegedly soliciting sex from a male police officer) in a Minneapolis airport restroom.

A number of reactions are exactly what one might expect given the political persuasion of the senator. Craig has been an opponent of gay rights for the duration of his service in the senate...opposing gay marriage and hate crimes legislation and basically voting the family values platform without fail. Therefore the accusations of blatant hypocrisy have been loud and they've been warranted.

Craig's actions are a repeat of an all too familiar script...powerful anti-gay leader gets caught in pathetic pants down gay situation and then begins the process of denial. In that regard, it is difficult to sympathize with these men given their propensity to victimize gays through their very public and influential positions...all the while living closeted gay lives in secret...frequently exhibiting a history of engaging in tawdry anonymous sexual encounters on the sly.

Here's where it gets tricky...no pun intended. In the rush to comment on the situation, the door is kicked open to all types of erroneous assertions...assertions that emanate from the bias, prejudice, and judgment that comes with the topic of homosexuality.

Generally speaking, the comments from the gay community are straightforward and they speak of vindication and the utter hypocrisy exhibited by those individuals who have made a career of championing the vilification of the gay lifestyle. The gay commentary also includes expressions of dismay with a society that stigmatizes homosexuality such that some individuals are unable or unwilling to expose their gay identities and therefore succumb to the deception and the detachment that accompanies such incidents.

In this particular instance, the commentary from the gay community has also included a degree of outrage that the Minneapolis police department is targeting consensual gay sex as a matter of criminal activity...the point at which it becomes complicated and also where we begin to see the infiltration of bias.

As I've read the many comments on the situation...both from the left and the right...it became obvious that there is a void in understanding an important fact of gay life. Gays and those familiar with the gay community seem to understand that there is an unspoken communication code amongst gays...one that allows them to identify each other. It exists because identifying another gay individual isn't a matter of simple gender identification...and it can be a matter of life and death.

As we all know, the vast majority of society is heterosexual and therefore the accepted pattern of courtship (the means by which people make connections...be they flirting, dating, sexual, or the predecessor to marriage) is between a man and woman. As such, it is expected that men and women will make advances towards each other in order to express interest. These behaviors are well known and easily identified.

On the other hand, those within the gay world have created their own method of courtship...a method that is necessarily more clandestine and far less obvious. That method exists because gays realize that if they were to approach courtship randomly...with the presumption that all others were homosexual...they may be subjecting themselves to the likelihood of anger and even physical danger. The bottom line is that advances of a gay nature are not an open and socially accepted behavior. Gays cannot act upon attraction without first evaluating the potential that such an approach will be welcomed.

The only clear exception to this may be the gay bar...a safe environment that mirrors what heterosexuals find in virtually all of their travels. It is a place where gays can let down their guard and feel safe to express interest in others with little reason for worry. At the same time, any heterosexual who has ventured to a gay bar...and found themselves the object of flirtatious advances should have an appreciation for the daily gay experience. Fortunately, heterosexuals in a gay bar generally needn't feel their physical safety is threatened should they mistakenly make an advance towards a member of the opposite sex. Gays, on the other hand, would not likely find the same in a straight bar.

Let me point out one other consideration...the issue of stereotypical behavior. Many heterosexuals struggle to understand some of the mannerisms of homosexuals...with effeminate behavior being the most obvious. My own anecdotal analysis suggests that it is simply another way for a homosexual to expose their sexual preference to others without the need for the subtleties of a secret code. If one is gay and one wants to maximize the number of individuals who will know as much in order to increase the potential for others to come forward and identify their similar orientation, then acting in stereotypical ways may simply be a successful alternative strategy.

Hopefully, those who may have been puzzled by this apparent secret code of communication that was exhibited by Senator Craig will now have a better understanding of the underlying dynamics that foster it. The bottom line is that if one is never forced to adopt such strategies, one would likely be oblivious to them...but that doesn't nullify their existence.

Now factor in the additional considerations of men like Senator Craig...considerations that go beyond the above mentioned realities. The senator and other closeted individuals must make the same judgments...but they are also focused upon avoiding the acknowledgment or exposure of their sexual preference. Essentially, they are seeking others in similar situations, or at the very least, individuals who they can reasonably assume to be desirous of a limited and/or secretive encounter...whether that be a conversation, a date, sex, or an ongoing relationship.

Let me draw an important comparison to heterosexuality...one that begins to expose the unfair bias that is often triggered by events similar to that of Senator Craig. The best way to understand the actions of Craig is to think about the heterosexual man or woman that is looking for an affair. They must be able to secretly identify an individual who will be receptive to their advances, respectful of their need for discretion, and willing to be complicit in hiding the relationship...whether it is strictly sexual or something much more or much less.

In reading the commentary on the Senator's actions, some have chosen to view his actions as perverse, sick, twisted, and indicative of all that is wrong with the homosexual lifestyle. Let me be clear...I am not defending the actions of Senator Craig...I am simply suggesting that they are not unique to homosexuals. The problem is that some of the characterizations have sought to identify the Senator's behavior as exclusive to homosexuals in order to condemn the gay lifestyle.

However, Craig's motivations are mirrored in the heterosexual community in those individuals seeking to conduct clandestine affairs. All one needs to imagine is the man who frequents the area of a city where prostitutes can be found or that travels for work and can be found in the hotel lounge seeking a one night encounter. If one chooses to characterize such actions as perverse, sick, and twisted...so be it. I am simply suggesting that there are those who hope to attach such a label to homosexual behavior while avoiding the same insinuation with regard to heterosexuals. Deception and cheating are the same wherever they occur.

As to the legitimacy of targeting such behaviors in the restroom of an airport, I think one can make the argument that it is, in fact, an unfair assault upon homosexuals. Again, I'm not suggesting that I find anything remotely appealing about airport bathroom sex...nor am I suggesting that it represents a healthy expression of anyones sexuality. At the same time, I can identify numerous other venues...venues that are not intended for sexual encounters...but that are clearly used as the means to achieve a sexual encounter...amongst heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.

Everyone has been to a concert where two individuals meet up and engage in sexual activity. The same can be found at sports events (think Nascar and bare breasts), wedding receptions, house parties, amusement parks, beaches, airplanes (think mile high club), high school dances, pool parties, public parks, and other venues too numerous to mention.

The question is whether "lewd behavior" is targeted at such venues...and by that I mean that police officers are assigned to engage others who may be seeking to use a venue to solicit sex...not just security staff that might put a stop to such behavior should they encounter it in the course of their responsibilities. I seriously doubt that the police assign a woman officer to attend a concert in order to catch men who solicit her for a sexual encounter...just as I doubt officers would be found at the other venues mentioned with the sole purpose of identifying individuals who are desirous of a sexual encounter. I think the distinction is that these other venues may have employees who are supposed to put an end to such activities if they are encountered...but they are not assigned to entice such advances in order to bring charges.

Again, I have no particular sympathy for Senator Craig...I am simply suggesting that there may well be a double standard at work with regard to homosexual contact. Frankly, it should come as no surprise since we commonly hear expressions like, "I don't care what they do in private but I don't want it flaunted in my face". Further, we have gone so far as to institutionalize such stigmatization of homosexual sex. The best example is found in the military with the policy called Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In other words, gay sex must be behind closed doors and it mustn't be discussed or exposed to the public at large.

In the case of these airport encounters, apparently closed doors are not sufficient...and the mere insinuation of a sexual interest is grounds for charging an individual with an offense. I personally find the prospect of restroom sex distasteful...but no more than I would find the prospect of sitting next to a couple engaging in sex at a concert or on an airplane or at a Nascar race.

Unfortunately, society still struggles with the notion of homosexual sex and the situation with Senator Craig points out the apparent double standard that exists. Granted, the locations gays may choose to find such encounters may differ from those chosen by heterosexuals...but that may simply be a function of the other societal taboos that are at play and that make it more difficult for gays to express an interest in another individual.

The fact that Senator Craig is a hypocrite remains...but there is also an element of hypocrisy that isn't solely reserved for the Senator...hypocrisy that is evidenced in the tacit endorsement of heterosexual encounters while portraying homosexual displays of a sexual nature as wrong, vile, disgusting, and illegal. That hypocrisy simply suggests that society still has a long way to go.

In the meantime, the actions of Senator Craig as a U.S. Senator simply help foster such bias and prejudice...and it makes his behavior as a Senator all the more offensive. His actions in the Senate are an affront to decency and they make a mockery of the responsibilities that should accompany positions of leadership. The fact that he is likely gay simply makes his political actions all the more detestable.

Tagged as: Bias, Gay, Heterosexuality, Homophobia, Homosexuality, LGBT, Senator Larry Craig, Sexuality

Daniel DiRito | August 28, 2007 | 9:17 AM | link | Comments (4)
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At The Airport With Sen. Craig: Preparing For Takeoff genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Sen. Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) recently plead guilty to disorderly conduct in relation to an incident in a men's restroom in a Minneapolis airport. According to the undercover policeman who made the arrest, Craig's behaviors were consistent with previously witnessed actions intended to solicit sex from the officer.

Craig's office released a statement indicating that the Senator erred in handling the situation without the benefit of legal counsel but that he had done so while hoping to quickly resolve what he characterized as a he said, he said misunderstanding.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding," and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested.

“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area," the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider."

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine," the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.

“It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper," the arresting officer said in the report.

Senator Craig has been a staunch supporter of an amendment to ban gay marriage and he is also opposed to the adoption of hate crimes legislation. He joins a growing list of Republicans, religious leaders, and social conservatives whose obsession with all things homosexual seems to suggest they possess a suspect and sullied set of values.

One need not be an expert on airport sexual encounters to be capable of interpreting suspicious behavior that is clearly of a sexually suggestive nature. Further, I'm sure the officer involved in the incident was well trained in identifying such actions.

Generally, I try to reserve my twisted humor and my occasional penchant for crude commentary for my closest friends...but this situation is a classic comic set up that simply demands a response.

As I read the Senator's explanation...the one that stated, "he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom", I have to admit the first thought which entered my mind was to wonder which way the Senators feet were pointing...and that of course led me to wonder if Mr. Craig may have improperly positioned himself on the toilet...you know...such that he was on the receiving end of things.

In defense of my illustrative imagery, the article did indicate that the Senator was being investigated for lewd conduct...I simply allowed my mind to fill in the blanks and embellish the scene.

Now if you'll excuse me...I need to wash my hands and jump in the shower...I'm feeling a little less wholesome all of a sudden.

Tagged as: Closeted, Hypocrisy, Idaho, Lewd Conduct, Senator Larry Craig

Daniel DiRito | August 27, 2007 | 6:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Curtains To Cry Havok And Let Slip The Dogs Of War genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Dogs Of War

Today was a day of vindication for our four legged friends in the canine world. A dog killer met with justice and the President's bulldog will no longer be in a position to administer injustice. Michael Vick will likely be headed to the big house and Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales, who has been in the dog house for months, will finally be leaving the White House...and in so doing, perhaps the disregard of civility and the calculated dismantling of civil liberties will no longer be in vogue nor will its continuance be granted a free pass.

Michael Vick will no longer be able to fight dogs and the dog fight over the manipulation and mismanagement of the Department of Justice may have finally turned an important corner with the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. The welcomed news suggests that man's best friend may longer be a tool for twisted amusement and upstanding men may no longer be dogged because they refuse to carry the water of partisan pit bulls.

Despite the resignation of Gonzales, it is likely too early to believe that the Bush administration is about to embark on a course replete with a repertoire of new tricks. Fortunately, the President and his pack of political hacks are on a short leash with little more than fifteen months remaining on their tenure as America's often amateurish and antagonistic army of alpha-males.

With the departure of the President's leading lapdogs, the Fredo and Rove "Gravy Train" era of acrimony...that period of time during which they sought to turn every political office and operative into a rabidly red recruit...has finally come to an end.

Whether all of the bodies these yard dogs meticulously buried can be found is doubtful...but they will at least be prevented from any further littering of the lawn with lame excuses, lapses of memory, and long-winded legalese.

Its been a long time coming, but I suspect a large number of Americans are breathing a welcomed sigh of relief knowing "that dog won't hunt" again...at least not in what remains of the Bush administration. In light of the news...and as with all tragedies...its nice to know that the days of rewarding these men for bad behavior has finally come to an end.

Tagged as: Alberto Gonzales, Department of Justice, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Michael Vick, NFL, U.S. Attorneys

Daniel DiRito | August 27, 2007 | 10:10 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Mo Rocca On First Date, First Drink Impressions genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I've always felt Mo Rocca was one of the most underrated comics in the business. Perhaps that's a function of my interest in politics and the fact that Rocca is as knowledgeable as most of the news reporters we see on television. Even better, his skill at deadpan comedy in a political setting is unmatched.

Rocca has covered a lot of territory in is career; having worked as a correspondent on The Daily Show, worked on Larry King Live as a consultant/political historian, and now as a feature player on The Tonight Show. He also appears on PBS, VH1, The Food Network, and has a regular show on Sirius Satellite Radio.

His work during the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions is some of his best. Besides being quite funny, his knowledge of U.S. presidents is extensive and the fact that he wrote a book on the pets of the presidents titled, All the Presidents' Pets: The Inside Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over, only adds to his comic depth.

The following video clip is of Mo asking people on the street about which drink one should order on a first date and what that drink says about one's date. He gets some interesting answers and he does his best to "stir" things up.

Tagged as: Drinking, Humor, Mo Rocca

Daniel DiRito | August 25, 2007 | 9:03 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Debunking The Myth Of The "Troop Surge" genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Myth Chip

Everybody's talking about the surge...is it succeeding...is it a failure...will it allow the Iraqi government to turn the corner?

Some Democrats have been willing to acknowledge that the additional 30,000 troops has had a positive impact...which has led other Democrats to accuse them of capitulation. Simultaneously, these seemingly favorable remarks have also led some within the GOP to conclude that the President's persistence is paying off and that the Democrats are finally realizing that victory is achievable.

Lost in the dialogue is an important reality...one that requires little more than the appropriate comparisons...comparisons that the President and his supporters have wisely avoided...comparisons that the Democrats have been remiss to expose.

My thoughts on the subject were crystallized by a comment from a reader. The comment came in response to a posting which discussed a recent survey on the ability of the surge to succeed. The experts consulted overwhelmingly concluded that the surge would not succeed...and the reader disagreed...offering the following closing statement.

Like it or not, the surge is working, just ask Hillary or any Democrat (in private of course).

Victory or defeat, you decide.

In reading the comment, I realized that the Bush administration has succeeded in framing the discussion of the surge to its advantage. Let me explain. I've previously argued that the notion of defeat is the one thing which prevents Americans from demanding an immediate end to the war. The polling suggests that while a large majority of voters feel the war has been mismanaged...and while there is a majority consensus that a withdrawal timeline should be established...a strong majority seem to be struggling with the notion of losing...and that mindset is the very point upon which the Bush administration framing is focused.

Clearly, that is a powerful force for the Democrats to overcome...and each time a Democrat affirms the success of the surge, they reinforce the hopes of those voters who do not want to accept defeat. I contend that the Democrats need to change the way they discuss the surge and they need some plausible examples to make their point.

Here's what I would suggest. As long as the surge is characterized in traditional terms as a military offensive, the results will continue to be viewed in terms of victory or defeat. To change that dynamic, the Democrats need to frame it differently.

I contend the surge should be portrayed as comparable to increasing the number of police officers in a large city in order to reduce a troubling crime rate. In that model, the 30,000 additional troops is approximately a 22 percent increase in police officers.

Clearly, most Americans would understand this line of reasoning and in presenting the surge in this manner, it then allows the Democrats to pivot to the crucial message...the one that tells voters that crime prevention is a persistent and ongoing battle...it isn't a war that is won; it is simply the means to manage and deter the inherent potential for crime that will always exist.

As such, the struggle in Iraq is predicated upon a similar situation. More troops will deter the inherent potential for sectarian violence and insurgent activity...so long as the troops remain. However, a surge isn't a means to victory; it is a management strategy. Unfortunately, it cannot end until such time as the Iraqi government puts in place the means to self-manage the policing of their society.

Further explanation is needed to complete the framing. If one looks at the city of Chicago and its long period of crime and corruption, one begins to see the task at hand in Iraq. Not only is there a large "criminal" element in the Iraqi population at large; there is at a minimum a void in the Iraqi leadership...and at worst, they may well be complicit in fostering the violence and the corruption. Evidence suggests the latter is more likely.

In other words, we are no longer engaged in a military conflict; we are attempting to build a civil society through the insertion of an occupying force. The problem with that scenario is that it is divorced from the realities that exist within both the civilian population and the political leadership. Iraq not only has the equivalent of the rampant organized crime gangs that plagued Chicago; it also has a similarly corrupt government that isn't inclined to extinguish the gang warfare.

Lastly, the history of Chicago informs us that change occurred when the will of the people of Chicago mandated that change...a process that wasn't achieved in short order...a process that is most accurately viewed as generational shift; not a function of a surge mentality. In fact, one could argue that the addition of more police officers during Chicago's dark days would have simply given the combatants more wherewithal to prosecute their objectives. The situation simply lacked the innate institutional means for reform.

Iraq is no different...and while throwing 30,000 honest officers into the equation may limit the wheeling and dealing of those intent on the acquisition of power and profit...the society lacks the ability and the initiative to embrace the proposed social and political shifts.

Taking a current example...the city of Baltimore has already seen 200 murders this year. Using the surge mentality, the city could decide to increase the number of police officers in hopes of reducing this alarming trend...but the dynamics that created the trend in the first place must be eliminated in order to achieve sustainable improvement. Reality tells us such an endeavor will take a long time (see Chicago or any other city that confronted such a dilemma)...and it involves more than expanding the ranks of the police force. Undoubtedly, the city has issues with poverty, drugs, education, gangs, race, and any host of other factors that can be expected to precipitate such a decline.

Now imagine a similar situation in a nation that completely lacks the long standing governmental structure found here in the United States. We have the benefit of a stabilizing force that cannot be underestimated and yet we still encounter situations like Chicago in the early 20th century and Baltimore in the here and now. Iraq has none of that to bring to bear on the situation.

By providing the above argument to establish the magnitude of the tasks facing Iraq, the final piece of the rationale can be introduced...and it is best done through the asking of one essential question..."If another nation had intervened in Chicago or one chose to intervene in Baltimore now, how would the inhabitants of either city react and what response could we expect from the vast majority of Americans?"

I think the answer is obvious but I'll provide an example to illustrate my point. The European Union recently implored the governor of the state of Texas to reconsider the state's intention to execute a convicted criminal...and to place a moratorium on capital punishment. Governor Perry's office offered the following response.

The governor's spokesman, Robert Black, said in a statement that "230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination.

"Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens," Black said. "While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas."

Suffice it to say that we would be fooling ourselves to presume that the same sentiment doesn't exist in Iraq. In fact, the recent remarks of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in response to U.S. criticism of the lack of political progress, highlight the degree to which self-determination will remain an obstacle to our efforts.

The Democrats would do well to remind voters of the position held by George Bush prior to the 2000 election. At that time, candidate Bush rejected the notion of nation building. Let's give the President his due...his position on nation building was right before he was elected to the presidency. Unfortunately, one would be hard pressed to offer the same assessment of his track record since he became the sitting president.

U.S. voters need to understand that the United States is no longer engaged in a war in Iraq...that ended in short order with the toppling of the Hussein regime. Our troops successfully completed their mission long ago. When the Bush administration uses the words of war...words like "troop surge"...to discuss our failed effort at nation building, it is the responsibility of Democrats to firmly and fiercely rebut this foolish fairy tale.

Its time voters knew the truth...we won the war...our presence in Iraq is no longer a question of victory or defeat...the only outstanding decision is the one confronting the people of Iraq..."Are they ready to begin the difficult task of building a nation?"

Tagged as: Crime, George W. Bush, Governor Perry, Iraq, Nation Building, Nouri al-Maliki, Saddam Hussein, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | August 24, 2007 | 11:43 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Richard Dawkins: The Enemies Of Reason - Part IV genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

The following video clips are the second part of the second program of The Enemies Of Reason, a multi-part series by Richard Dawkins that recently aired in the UK. The first half of the second program can be found here (Part III).

The first program can be found here (Part I) and here (Part II).

In this second program, Dawkins focuses upon alternative medicine and the many areas that have burgeoned in recent years. He seeks to understand why these type of practitioners continue to attract clients.

Dawkins posits that the appeal of those who practice alternative medicines is the attention to the individual's psychological needs...something he calls a placebo methodology...a focus on comforting the patient and spending time addressing each patient with a level of individualized depth not often found in scientific medicine.

Readers can find more detail on the issues discussed by Dawkins in the first program as well as a link to some additional information on the topics at the above link to part one of the series.

From the original posting:

Richard Dawkins, the author of the recent book, The God Delusion, has unveiled his latest endeavor in a series just recently aired in the UK. The series tackles the many threats to reason found in our daily lives.

In two programs, Dawkins looks at astrology, psychic mediums, and the many other superstition based fields which he contends promote the degradation of rationality and an avoidance of reality...all of which threatens the many advances that have resulted from the scientific method and serve to undermine civilization.

During the program, Dawkins actually uses the scientific method to demonstrate that those who present themselves as practitioners in these various fields are little more than charlatans who have made a business out of praying upon the irrational thoughts and desires of people seeking easy answers to our complex human experience.

The Enemies Of Reason: 2nd. Program - Part Four

The Enemies Of Reason: 2nd. Program - Part Five

Tagged as: Alternative Medicine, Astrology, David Colquhoun, Rationality, Religion, Richard Dawkins, Scientific Method

Daniel DiRito | August 24, 2007 | 8:56 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show On "America To The Rescue" genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Jon Stewart gives viewers the rundown on the role the United States has played in arming the combatants in the Middle East and beyond...with billions of dollars worth of weaponry.

As he details the numerous occasions the U.S. has "come to the rescue", the viewer quickly realizes that we've played a game of musical chairs with the nations of the region...sometimes a country is our pal and they get billions of dollars...sometime later they aren't our pal so we give their enemies billions of dollars.

Once Stewart finishes pointing out the utter schizophrenia that has typified our foreign policy, he rhetorically asks where the money is for our infrastructure or for rebuilding hurricane ravaged cities...at which point no one comes to the rescue and the screen goes silent.

Sometime comedy tells a twisted tale...funny as it may be...tragic all the same.

H/T to Crooks and Liars

Tagged as: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Jon Stewart, Middle East, The Daily Show

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2007 | 11:18 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Light Cross genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Cathedral In Paris - 2004
Is A "Light" Cross Easier To Carry?

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2007 | 9:29 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Understanding Iraq...One Analogy At A Time genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Tongue-In-Cheek

As I read the summaries of the latest National Intelligence Estimate, I found myself lacking for words to explain my ongoing frustration with the utter mismanagement and growing futility that seems to plague this misguided war in Iraq. Instead...

Tagged as: Al-Maliki, Existentialism, George W. Bush, Iraq, Leave It to Beaver, National Intelligence Estimate, Sectarian Conflict, Seinfeld

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2007 | 5:03 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Coal Mining: Santa Claus, Stockings, & Bad Behavior genre: Econ-Recon & Six Degrees of Speculation

I've got coal on the brain...and the news just keeps what remains of my neurons popping. As a kid, I remember thinking about my behavior and whether it had been sufficient to prevent me from receiving a chunk of...

Tagged as: Campaign Contributions, Coal Mining, Crandall Canyon Mine, Energy Policy, Global Warming, Lobbying, MSHA, Oil Dependence, Sago Mine

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2007 | 11:17 AM | link | Comments (1)
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White House: Obstruction To The Nth. Degree? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

At some point, it is impossible to avoid suspecting that the Bush administration has something to hide...something that they are willing to keep from the American public regardless of expense, regardless of propriety, and even regardless of their own...

Tagged as: CREW, George W. Bush, Justice Department, U.S. Attorneys, White House Office of Administration

Daniel DiRito | August 23, 2007 | 10:06 AM | link | Comments (0)
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George W. Bush: Not A "Stickler" For Mine Safety? genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that public records indicate that many of the statements made by mine owner Bob Murray during the Crandall Canyon Mine rescue attempt have been less than accurate. Since the outset of the...

Tagged as: Bob Murray, Canada, Coal Mining, Crandall Canyon Mine, George Bush, MSHA, Richard Stickler, Sago Mine

Daniel DiRito | August 22, 2007 | 1:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Richard Dawkins: The Enemies Of Reason - Part III genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

The following video clips are the first part of the second program of The Enemies Of Reason, a multi-part series by Richard Dawkins that recently aired in the UK. The first program can be found here (Part I) and...

Tagged as: Alternative Medicine, Astrology, David Colquhoun, Rationality, Religion, Richard Dawkins, Scientific Method

Daniel DiRito | August 22, 2007 | 12:36 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Mr. President...Democracy Is As Democracy Does genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I like it when a simple situation can provide insight into more complex matters...and a new article in the Washington Post delivers the goods. It has long been thought that the Bush administration has sought to orchestrate events...big and...

Tagged as: Democracy, FISA, Freedom of Speech, George W. Bush, Guantanamo, Iraq, NSA, Richard Nixon, TALON, Torture, U.S. Attorneys

Daniel DiRito | August 22, 2007 | 8:53 AM | link | Comments (1)
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A Cynical View Of GWB's Comments On The Maliki Govt. genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

It seems that many observers were surprised by the President's remarks on the Maliki government. In his comments, the President indicated that the progress of the Maliki government was insufficient. He also signaled he would accept the replacement of...

Tagged as: General David Petraeus, George W. Bush, Iraq, Neocons, Nouri al-Maliki

Daniel DiRito | August 21, 2007 | 9:38 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Fred Barnes: Journalist, Apologist, Magician? genre: Econ-Recon & Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Fred Barnes, in an editorial at the Wall Street Journal, offers his manifesto for Republican resurgence. Unfortunately, from my perspective, the piece is a textbook demonstration of the degree to which GOP insiders haven't a clue with regards to...

Tagged as: 2008, Fred Barnes, GOP, Immigration, Iraq, Katrina, Ownership Society, Social Security, Wall Street Journal

Daniel DiRito | August 21, 2007 | 10:29 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The Economy: Foreclosures Make Big Jump In July genre: Econ-Recon

The most recent economic news continues to disappoint...and the housing industry seems to be leading the way. Specifically, foreclosures rose by nine percent from June to July with a total of nearly 180,000 reported. To understand the magnitude of...

Tagged as: Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve, Foreclosures, Housing, Sub-Prime Lending, U.S. Economy

Daniel DiRito | August 21, 2007 | 8:45 AM | link | Comments (19)
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Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Poor genre: Econ-Recon & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

UPDATE: More good news for parents and children! The Bush administration, in conjunction with China, sought to limit the testing of imported products for lead contamination...which includes children's toys. From McClatchy: WASHINGTON — The Bush administration and China have...

Tagged as: Childrens Toys, China, George W. Bush, Health Care, Insurance, Lead Poisoning, Poverty

Daniel DiRito | August 20, 2007 | 8:19 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Sen. Levin: Maliki Government Should Be Replaced genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Following a trip to Iraq, Senator Carl Levin has suggested that the current Maliki leadership should be replaced with a less sectarian government...one that will seek political solutions to the many issues which remain unresolved and are serving as...

Tagged as: Carl Levin, David Petraeus, Iraq, John Warner, Nuri al-Maliki, Sectarian violence, Troop surge

Daniel DiRito | August 20, 2007 | 7:02 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Bill Moyers On The Karl Rove Departure genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes

In the following video clip, Bill Moyers provides a fitting footnote to the Rove legacy...an honest assessment of the man behind the manipulations. Moyers outlines the basis of the Rove strategy and he also explains the carnage left in...

Tagged as: Bill Moyers, George W. Bush, Karl Rove

Daniel DiRito | August 20, 2007 | 6:14 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Thoroughly Modern America...Think Again? genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

We Americans like to think of ourselves as evolved individuals who embrace freedom and equality for all...and in many ways our history has demonstrated the truth found in this assumption. At the same time, we haven't encountered that many...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, 9/11, Barack Obama, Equality, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, Prejudice, Racism

Daniel DiRito | August 20, 2007 | 11:16 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Experts Agree: Surge Will Not Work, U.S. Not Safer genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Karl Rove and other GOP operatives like to tell the American public that President Bush is a man who has demonstrated strength and conviction when confronted with difficult situations. Unfortunately, many of the President's critics view those same traits...

Tagged as: Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, Iraq, Islamic extremism, Middle East

Daniel DiRito | August 20, 2007 | 9:08 AM | link | Comments (6)
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Richard Dawkins: The Enemies Of Reason - Part II genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

The following video clips are the second part of a multi-part series here at Thought Theater. The series will provide Richard Dawkins' two part program titled The Enemies Of Reason. The first posting can be found here...and it includes...

Tagged as: Astrology, David Colquhoun, Rationality, Religion, Richard Dawkins, Scientific Method

Daniel DiRito | August 18, 2007 | 9:40 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Apologies...My Host Company Had An Outage genre: Indie-Script

Much to my dismay, my host site has been experiencing a number of outages over the last two days. The outages have been sporadic but it has limited the amount of posting I've been able to enter. I am...

Daniel DiRito | August 18, 2007 | 9:15 AM | link | Comments (0)
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What If God Is Sick & Tired Of Our Arrogance? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation

Do you ever see a headline in a newspaper or at a site online which catches your attention, but for some reason you just can't convince yourself to read the content? I saw one of those headlines yesterday and...

Tagged as: Allah, Catholicism, Faith, God, Humanity, Islam, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 16, 2007 | 11:57 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Richard Dawkins: The Enemies Of Reason - Part I genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

Richard Dawkins, the author of the recent book, The God Delusion, has unveiled his latest endeavor in a series just recently aired in the UK. The series tackles the many threats to reason found in our daily lives. In...

Tagged as: Astrology, David Colquhoun, Rationality, Religion, Richard Dawkins, Scientific Method

Daniel DiRito | August 16, 2007 | 10:23 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Rootin' Tootin' Rudy "Rassles" Foreign Policy genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Rudy Giuliani apparently thinks our next president ought to conduct America's foreign policy in the same manner he navigated the end of his last marriage...an in your face flaunting of one's ability to do what one chooses regardless of...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Dick Cheney, Foreign Policy, Israel, Palestine, Rudy Giuliani

Daniel DiRito | August 15, 2007 | 3:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show On Logo's Democratic Forum genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek

Jon Stewart has some fun with the recent Democratic candidate forum on the Logo Network. The forum was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, an organization focused on LGBT issues. The Daily Show pulls out all the stops to...

Tagged as: Human Rights Campaign, Jon Stewart, LGBT, Logo, The Daily Show

Daniel DiRito | August 15, 2007 | 3:03 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Sam Harris On Religion At Aspen Ideas Festival - Pt. II genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

Sam Harris, the author of The End Of Faith and Letters To A Christian Nation, recently appeared at the Aspen Ideas Festival, a forum for dialogue on numerous topics sponsored by the Aspen Institute. The following video clips are...

Tagged as: Aspen Ideas Festival, Morality, Religion, Sam Harris

Daniel DiRito | August 15, 2007 | 1:08 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Politicians & The Inflation Disconnect genre: Econ-Recon

The President and a number of politicians are scratching their heads as they attempt to understand why average Americans aren't all that enthused about the U.S. economy. The solution to this "puzzling" lack of optimism is found in a new...

Tagged as: Economy, Energy Prices, Ethanol, Inflation, Mileage Standards

Daniel DiRito | August 15, 2007 | 9:38 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The ABC's Of The 2008 Presidential Election genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

For a number of years, the GOP political strategy has been characterized by a focus upon three prevailing issues that many have chosen to call "God, guns, and gays". As we approach the 2008 election, there seems to be...

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Fred Thompson, GOP, Iran, Iraq, LGBT, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, War on Terror

Daniel DiRito | August 14, 2007 | 4:56 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Colbert Report's The Word: Giuliani & Clarity genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Stephen Colbert explains to viewers that the Democrats lack the clarity which Rudy Giuliani offers when he speaks about America's battle with radical Islamic terrorists. Colbert thinks the Democrats spend far too much time on details when attempting to...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Colbert Report, Rudy Giuliani, Stephen Colbert, War On Terror

Daniel DiRito | August 13, 2007 | 9:48 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Musharraf: Still Planning Emergency Delcaration? genre: Just Jihad

In a surprisingly candid assessment, Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, acknowledged that his country has become a haven for Islamic extremists. The statement came during a joint appearance with Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai following a meeting to discuss issues of...

Tagged as: Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Hamid Karzai, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Taliban

Daniel DiRito | August 13, 2007 | 4:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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An Epitaph For Karl Rove genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Epitaphs are typically reserved for the dead...but after reading the many views on the passing of Karl Rove...from his role in the George Bush White House...one might conclude that the "Wicked Witch" has had the misfortune of being under...

Tagged as: George Bush, Karl Rove, LGBT, Partisanship

Daniel DiRito | August 13, 2007 | 9:59 AM | link | Comments (25)
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Sam Harris On Religion At Aspen Ideas Festival genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

Sam Harris, the author of The End Of Faith and Letters To A Christian Nation, recently appeared at the Aspen Ideas Festival, a forum for dialogue on numerous topics sponsored by the Aspen Institute. The following video clips are...

Tagged as: Aspen Festival, Morality, Religion, Sam Harris

Daniel DiRito | August 12, 2007 | 9:13 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Kos: Defining The Center With A Circular Argument? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

It is human nature to want to be right...and unfortunately, it is also human nature to make such assertions even in the absence of the necessary evidence. While I understand the instinct, I'm not sure it serves to advance...

Tagged as: Daily Kos, DLC, Markos Moulitsas, Nancy Pelosi, Ned Lamont, Netroots, Progressive, Susan Gardner, YearlyKos

Daniel DiRito | August 11, 2007 | 10:03 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Christopher Hitchens On Freedom Of Speech genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

The following video clips are from an appearance by Christopher Hitchens at the University of Toronto's Hart House Debating Club. The topic for the evening was, "Be It Resolved: Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Hate." As always,...

Tagged as: Christopher Hitchens, Freedom of Speech, Religion, University of Toronto

Daniel DiRito | August 10, 2007 | 4:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Thoughts On Logo's Democratic Candidate Forum genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

After watching the Democratic presidential candidate forum on Logo, I've given some further thought to a few issues that I've pondered for some time and I decided now was the appropriate time to share those thoughts. Generally speaking, the...

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Equality, LGBT, Logo, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | August 10, 2007 | 9:06 AM | link | Comments (4)
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The Daily Show On The Romney Boys Sacrifice genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Jon Stewart offers his take on the recent effort of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to explain that while none of his five sons were serving in the military, they are serving their country by helping the former Governor...

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Jon Stewart, Mitt Romney, The Daily Show

Daniel DiRito | August 9, 2007 | 4:42 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Iran's Ahmadinejad & Iraq's Al-Maliki Hold Hands genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Snapshot Thoughts

Trite as it may sound, a picture is, on occasion, worth a thousand words...and the following picture may best tell the story of the Bush administrations miscalculations with regards to Iraq and our efforts to establish a democracy that...

Tagged as: Dick Cheney, George Bush, Iran, Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Nouri al-Maliki, Sectarian Conflict

Daniel DiRito | August 9, 2007 | 3:36 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Musings On Musharraf & Bush: Birds Of A Feather? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Every now and again, I decide to post an item that offers little more than an interesting observation...with little relevance in the larger scheme of things. I've been preoccupied with Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf of late...likely a function of...

Tagged as: al Qaeda, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Taliban, War On Terror

Daniel DiRito | August 9, 2007 | 1:10 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Political Strategy: Pakistan/Musharraf Calculation genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Keep a close eye on Pakistan...both in terms of Musharraf's ability to hold power and also with regard to how the Democratic candidates frame their positions on handling the sensitive relationship. Bear with me while I elaborate. Reuters is...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, al Qaeda, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, War On Terror

Daniel DiRito | August 8, 2007 | 2:09 PM | link | Comments (6)
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Petraeus: 190,000 Lost Weapons A Clerical Error genre: Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

In a follow up to Monday's report which stated that the United States could not account for 190,000 weapons provided to Iraqi security forces, General David Petraeus told Alan Colmes of Fox News Radio that the loss resulted from...

Tagged as: Alan Colmes, General David Petraeus, Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sectarian Conflict

Daniel DiRito | August 8, 2007 | 10:01 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Economic Concerns Grow: China Threatens Dollar genre: Econ-Recon

In a growing sign that the U.S. economy is vulnerable, China has hinted that it could liquidate its huge holding of U.S issued bonds if the United States enacts sanctions intended to impact the strength of the Chinese currency...the...

Tagged as: China, Dollar Value, Protectionism, Trade Deficit, U.S. Bond Market, U.S. Economy, Yuan

Daniel DiRito | August 7, 2007 | 1:31 PM | link | Comments (2)
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26 Troops Dead In August & Cabinet Boycott Grows genre: Just Jihad

UPDATE: The August 7, 2007 CBS News article cited in this posting indicated that 26 U.S. soldiers had been killed in the last week in Iraq. It is unclear if these 26 deaths all occurred during the first seven...

Tagged as: al Maliki Government, Cabinet Resignations, Iraq, Sectarian Conflict

Daniel DiRito | August 7, 2007 | 11:11 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Does Basra Tell Us What To Expect In Iraq? genre: Just Jihad

Those looking to understand the impact of the latest troop surge in Iraq might want to review the situation in Basra, the southern city previously occupied by British forces and frequently referred to as a model for the progress...

Tagged as: Basra, Iraq, Oil Reserves, Sectarian Conflict, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | August 7, 2007 | 8:34 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Change The Chains genre: Rhyme-N-Reason

I wrote the following poem while thinking about how our choices establish our fundamental connection to the freedoms we hold. All too often fear and hesitation keep us from embracing those freedoms...and in that fear we not only fail...

Tagged as: Freedom, Poetry, Risk, Self-determination

Daniel DiRito | August 5, 2007 | 9:43 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Mo Rocca On Hillary: A Rack & A Laugh genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Mo Rocca takes a few minutes and goes out on the streets to see what the public thinks about Hillary Clinton. In the first video clip, given the recent impression that Mrs. Clinton has begun to dress more feminine,...

Tagged as: Hillary Clinton, Humor, Mo Rocca

Daniel DiRito | August 5, 2007 | 8:46 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Court Rules Oklahoma Anti-Gay Law Unconstitutional genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation

In a ruling favorable to same sex adoptive parents, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled that an Oklahoma Law designed to ignore adoption orders issued in other states was unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the...

Tagged as: Bigotry, Evangelical Extremists, Fanaticism, LGBT, Religious Right, Same-Sex Adoption

Daniel DiRito | August 4, 2007 | 11:34 AM | link | Comments (1)
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U.S. Democracy In Iraq: Segregated Bathrooms genre: Just Jihad & Six Degrees of Speculation

It seems that each day brings a new report from Iraq which leaves me wondering what we're thinking and what we hope to achieve. The latest comes from the McClatchy News Service and it involves segregated bathroom facilities on...

Tagged as: Democracy, Iraq, McClathy News, Segregation, U.S. Military

Daniel DiRito | August 4, 2007 | 10:07 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Unity genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Does Being Born With A Left And Right Brain, Both Sharing The Same Space, Indicate That Unity Is An Innate Understanding?...

Daniel DiRito | August 3, 2007 | 10:34 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Abstinence Only Plans Ineffective...And Detrimental? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

A large study of abstinence only programs in the United States indicates that the plans are ineffective in preventing sexual activity and may actually be detrimental since they fail to provide adequate sex education. The study confirms prior findings...

Tagged as: Abstinence Only, HIV, Morality, Religious Right, Sex Education, STD's, Teen Pregnancy

Daniel DiRito | August 3, 2007 | 4:54 PM | link | Comments (1)
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No Water Or Power: Winning Hearts & Minds In Iraq? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Nothing says we're here to help you better than turning off the power and shutting down the flow of water when it's 122 degrees outside. Yes, the United States is busy winning the hearts and minds of the people...

Tagged as: Baghdad, General Shinseki, George Bush, Iraq, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | August 3, 2007 | 11:34 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Keeping A Watchful Eye On The Economy genre: Econ-Recon

Despite assurances from the Bush administration, the factors for instability in the economy continue to provide evidence that a recession...or at the minimum...a significant slowdown in Gross Domestic Product is just around the corner. The following three excerpts provide...

Tagged as: Economy, GDP, Housing Bubble, Interest Rates, Recession, Sub-Prime Lending, Unemployment

Daniel DiRito | August 3, 2007 | 8:43 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Move Over Obama & Hillary Girl: Meet Brownback Girl genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

You've seen Obama Girl and Hillary Girl...but the best is yet to come...meet Brownback Girl. The video is the work of The Wichita Eagle's Opinion page staff and it does a good job of spoofing the Kansas senator and...

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sam Brownback

Daniel DiRito | August 2, 2007 | 4:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Mo Rocca: Is Denver Ready For The 2008 Convention? genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I've always felt Mo Rocca was one of the most underrated comics in the business. Perhaps that's a function of my interest in politics and the fact that Rocca is as knowledgeable as most of the news reporters we...

Tagged as: 2008 Democratic National Convention, Mo Rocca, The Tonight Show

Daniel DiRito | August 2, 2007 | 3:18 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Thoughts On The Loss Of Life In Minnesota genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Hip-Gnosis

Tragedy elicits many responses...often automatic reactions that we rarely seek to understand...and that is as it should be given the shocking nature of the assault upon our psyche and the overwhelming grief that will certainly follow. As I watched...

Tagged as: Atheism, Bridge Failure, Death, God, Minnesota, Mortality, Religion

Daniel DiRito | August 2, 2007 | 12:00 PM | link | Comments (0)
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New Poll: Voters Still Looking For The Good News genre: Econ-Recon

A new Wall Street Journal/ NBC News Poll suggests that voters are unhappy and doubtful about the future of the economy. They are also closely watching the 2008 presidential candidates...looking for plans and proposals which are focused upon the concerns...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, George Bush, Health Care, Taxes, U.S. Economy, Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll

Daniel DiRito | August 2, 2007 | 9:53 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Rudy's Health Plan Comes With A Tax Break & A Tiara genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak

GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani offered his notion of a national health care plan...one that sounds fit for a king or a queen...but not the average citizen. Then again, if the recent Vanity Fair article on the latest Mrs....

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Healthcare Reform, Insurance, Rudy Giuliani, Tax Breaks

Daniel DiRito | August 1, 2007 | 8:31 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Dominoes: Musharraf, Malaise, & More Of The Same genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I've got dominoes on my mind today...but unfortunately they're not the type that one would find to be entertaining. The primary domino I'm watching is the unstable situation in Pakistan...the country one might call the new Afghanistan... and the...

Tagged as: al Qaeda, George W. Bush, Iraq, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Saudi Arabia, War On Terror

Daniel DiRito | August 1, 2007 | 2:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Zogby Poll: Are American Voters Sore Losers? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

As I reviewed the data from the latest Zogby Poll, I came to a new conclusion that will undoubtedly draw the criticism of some of my fellow citizens...but what the hell...I think it needs to be spoken. A majority...

Tagged as: Congress, Democrats, Iraq, Republicans, War On Terror, Zogby Poll

Daniel DiRito | August 1, 2007 | 11:07 AM | link | Comments (0)
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