October 2007 Archives

Does Hughes Resignation Signal A Strike On Iran? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Reading Tea Leaves

Tea leave reading is clearly not an exacting science...but if I were asked to interpret the announced resignation of longtime Bush crony Karen Hughes, I would conclude that it signals the likelihood that stealth president Dick Cheney has succeeded in convincing his presidential placeholder, George W. Bush, to launch a strike on Iran prior to packing up the U-Hauls in January of 2009. I'll explain my rationale following some excerpts from the Associated Press article.

WASHINGTON - Karen Hughes, who led efforts to improve the U.S. image abroad and was one of President Bush's last remaining advisers from the close circle of Texas aides, will leave the government at the end of the year.

Hughes told The Associated Press that she plans to quit her job as undersecretary of state and return to Texas, although improving the world's view of the United States is a "long-term challenge" that will outlast her.

"This will take a number of years," Hughes said in an interview Tuesday.

Bush and Rice had picked Hughes two years ago to retool the way the United States sells its policies, ideals and views overseas. A former television reporter and media adviser, Hughes' focus has been to change the way the United States engages and responds to criticism or misinformation in the Muslim world.

"Negative events never help," Hughes said when asked how events like last month's shooting of Iraqi civilians by private U.S. security guards in Iraq affects the way the world sees the United States.

Polls show no improvement in the world's view of the U.S. since Hughes took over. A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent last year.

Hughes said the Iraq war was usually the second issue that Muslims and Arabs raised with her, after the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Hughes said she advised Bush and Rice two years ago that U.S. help in ending the six-decade old fight over Israel would probably do more than anything else to improve the U.S. standing worldwide.

Hughes is serving her second stint in the Bush administration...this time assigned a task that she concedes will not be achieved in short order and that will undoubtedly remain a challenge for the President's successor.

More telling is Hughes assessment of the prevailing obstacle to improving the U.S. image...especially in the Middle East region and the Muslim world. As noted in the above excerpt, Hughes has told the administration that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves as the primary impediment to reversing the slipping view of America.

I took note of the fact that Hughes made this remark to the President and his current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, two years ago. I interpret the statement to suggest there was a meeting of the minds at the time she offered this assessment and agreed to take the job.

Today, I believe her resignation may well indicate a shift in the thinking of the President...one that would make Hughes' task virtually impossible and therefore lead her to conclude it better to leave now rather than later. I suspect the event which would lead Hughes to an abrupt departure is knowledge of the administration's plan to strike Iran.

Let me explain my reasoning. Given the anti-Israeli rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a strike upon Iran would be seen as a defense of Israel and a affirmation of the assertions that Israel and the United States have no real intentions of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Such a strike would further fuel the anger at Israel and the United States and make it virtually impossible for Hughes to maintain the credibility necessary to pursue the mending of the American image.

As such, rather than wait for the terse and inevitable repudiations, Hughes has chosen to jump ship prior to a strike which would almost certainly unravel any progress she has been able to achieve. I also don't believe Hughes would have returned to the Bush administration with any intention of leaving prior to the end of the President's second term.

Adding support to my speculation is the fact that Josh Bolton advised White House senior aides that if they were to stay past Labor Day they would be obliged to serve till the end of the President's second term. The fact that Hughes is leaving regardless of that directive must indicate changing circumstances have created an untenable situation. Lastly, the fact that Hughes has long been regarded as one the George Bush's most loyal supporters makes the resignation all the more suspect.

Obviously my hypothesis is little more than anecdotal. Notwithstanding, this resignation raises a red flag which cannot be ignored. I hope I'm wrong but I've learned not to bet against the Bush administration when it comes to cowboy diplomacy. The fact that Hughes is walking away from her hospitality assignment leads me to believe George Bush is once again running around the White House sporting a half-cocked handgun in his spanking new holster...you know...the one Dick Cheney told him to strap on.

Tagged as: Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Holy War, Iran, Israel, Josh Bolton, Karen Hughes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Middle East, Muslim, Palestine

Daniel DiRito | October 31, 2007 | 10:44 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Costumes, The Castro, & Culture: Is Gay Passe? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

The Castro

I'm opposed to outright gay assimilation as I view it to be a form of capitulation...an ill-advised effort to fit in if you will. In so stating, I am not suggesting that gays embrace cultural isolationism; rather I favor preserving our homosexual identity while engaging the heterosexual community in a dialogue that seeks to find common ground...ground that doesn't require us to adapt our lives to fit the heterosexual template...or visa versa.

A new article in The New York Times sheds some light on the results of gay assimilation. I believe the piece illuminates the emerging erosion of our cultural significance and how that can begin to limit our ability to not only share in society as fully equal partners, but to potentially diminish our opportunities to influence and shape its future.

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 24 — This Halloween, the Glindas, gladiators and harem boys of the Castro — along with untold numbers who plan to dress up as Senator Larry E. Craig, this year’s camp celebrity — will be celebrating behind closed doors. The city’s most popular Halloween party, in America’s largest gay neighborhood, is canceled.

or many in the Castro District, the cancellation is a blow that strikes at the heart of neighborhood identity, and it has brought soul-searching that goes beyond concerns about crime.

These are wrenching times for San Francisco’s historic gay village, with population shifts, booming development, and a waning sense of belonging that is also being felt in gay enclaves across the nation, from Key West, Fla., to West Hollywood, as they struggle to maintain cultural relevance in the face of gentrification.

In the Castro, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society held public meetings earlier this year to grapple with such questions as “Are Gay Neighborhoods Worth Saving?"

While the Castro has been the center of a movement, it is also home to “an important political constituency," said Elizabeth A. Armstrong, an associate sociology professor at Indiana University and the author of “Forging Gay Identities: Organizing Sexuality in San Francisco 1950-1994"

“When people were angry about Dan White they were able to assemble quickly, spilling out of the bars," Professor Armstrong said. “Physical location mattered."

I contend that efforts to mimic heterosexuality lay the groundwork for our irrelevance and begin to marginalize our ability to favorably influence the political, social, and cultural climate...one which has been primarily defined by heterosexuals. Inherent in the gay rights movement is a tacit acceptance that all the rights granted to heterosexuals are appealing and therefore sought after. Unfortunately, I don't entirely accept that premise with regards to marriage and I fear that our message fosters a belief that our way of life is incomplete and can be punished by withholding the granting of those rights currently reserved for our heterosexual counterparts.

While I'm not opposed to gay marriage, I fear that making it the focal point of our agenda serves to validate the assumed superiority of the heterosexual relationship model...one that I find to be lacking and one that is likely premised upon a number of false constructs. The fact that gays appear determined to replicate heterosexual marriage seems to suggest that we believe it to be a functional institution. On the contrary, marriage statistics suggest otherwise and that fact ought to be an integral part of our strategy.

In fact, the resiliency of gays to establish functional relationships absent the accoutrements of conventional marriage may actually warrant a rethinking of heterosexual marriage in its current iteration. Let me be clear...I wholeheartedly believe our relationships should be granted the same recognition, protections, and benefits afforded to heterosexual marriages. However, the push for gay marriage seems to send the message that gays have nothing to bring to the relationship table...a conclusion I reject and a point I think merits discussion. Additionally, those who oppose gay marriage view their ability to deny it to us as giving them an added authority and a distinguishing legitimacy. I believe they needn't be granted such dominion nor should such thoughts be allowed to persist.

Frankly, gays should not only be seeking the same rights offered to heterosexual marriages but they ought to be pointing to the many flaws that accompany the institution of marriage. In doing so, the debate can begin to expand beyond the "we have it and you're not going to get it" tug of war. The prevailing argument offered by critics of gay marriage is that it will undermine heterosexual marriage and destroy the current family structure. So long as the debate remains framed this way, gays will struggle to gain traction in their push for inclusion.

The argument for gay marriage ought to be expanded beyond inclusion and into a dialogue that seeks to define what actually makes for a functional relationship and an environment that nurtures children. Clearly, the belief that one qualifies for marriage and child rearing by simply being a heterosexual is laughable and it ought to be aggressively questioned and challenged.

An ideal home environment isn't predicated upon the presence of a man and a woman; it's predicated upon an adult or two adults possessing enough maturity to understand the responsibility that comes with having children and the willingness to set aside one's own self-interests out of an unyielding love for the innocents in our midst.

Further, that love must include more than the ability to slip a child twenty dollars and send them out the door and out of our way. Far too many parents have replaced the hard work of real parenting with the ease of financial placation. Truth be told, the results of that deficient notion are coming home to roost in a never ending string of tragic events involving alienated and troubled children.

The following excerpt from The New York Times, while attempting to understand the shift in gay culture evidenced by a newly emerging generation of gays, actually hits upon the larger societal issue of isolation and lack of interpersonal involvement that results from the current heterosexual family paradigm.

An annual survey by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Community Initiative indicated that in 2007 only 36 percent of men under 29 said there was a gay community in the city with which they could identify.

Doug Sebesta, the group’s executive director and a medical sociologist at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said, “I’ve had therapists who have told me they are asking their clients to go back to bars as a way of social interaction."

The Internet is not a replacement for a neighborhood where people are involved in issues beyond themselves, said John Newsome, an African-American who co-founded the group And Castro For All after the Badlands incident. “There are a lot of really lonely gay people sitting in front of a computer," he said.

Which is why the cancellation of the Halloween party by the city has provoked such a sense of loss. Many residents say that their night has been taken away. “It’s proof that whatever sense of safety we have is incredibly tenuous, “ Mr. Newsome said.

I would argue that the phenomenon of isolation described above is not unique to just those gays who are under the age of 29. It is indicative of society's growing disregard for the personal contact which is actually the essence of loving parenting. Those children who are now entering the world as adults are doing so absent the fundamentals which must originate in the home as a result of meaningful parent-child relationships...relationships which aren't measured by the material wherewithal of a parent to equip their children with the properly labeled clothing or the latest gadgets. While parents have found it is possible to occupy a child's time with television and computer games; they do so at the peril of their child's future ability to form functional relationships.

In our rush to define and pursue success as a one-dimensional financial calculation, we have forgotten that a child's evaluation of a successful parent is rarely dependent upon the size of mom and dad's bank account or their titles at work. Having a woman and a man identified as a mom and a dad may fit some rigid religious definitions of proper parenting but if it fails to rear an adjusted and healthy child, it ought to be seen as it is...little more than an inane adherence to established dogma.

Allowing the anti-gay zealots to assail gays while fostering dysfunctional families must cease. Gays must approach the topic of marriage, gay adoption, and parenting as a matter of measuring outcome; not as an equation of entitlement. The ability to parent isn't negated by one's sexual orientation just as good parenting isn't guaranteed by the presence of a man and a woman. For meaningful change to occur, these antiquated assumptions must be deconstructed.

America was built upon numerous cultural influences...cultures that brought differing values and perspectives to marriage and parenting. Those views enriched our society, provided a platform for dialogue, and created a curiosity which allowed us to embrace change. Instead of simply submitting to fear, many Americans found themselves enriched by exposure to the unfamiliar and it made us a better nation. The same can be true with regards to gay culture...so long as the gay community celebrates and maintains its cultural identity and isn't afraid or ashamed to stand up and speak out.

Tagged as: Child Rearing, Culture, Divorce, Gay Marriage, Halloween, Heterosexual, Homophobia, Homosexual, Intolerance, Religion, Same-Sex Adoption, Same-Sex Marriage, San Francisco, The Castro

Daniel DiRito | October 30, 2007 | 10:50 AM | link | Comments (3)
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Sad Death Explains Our Surrender To Homogeneity? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Six Degrees of Speculation

They All Looked Just The Same

Robin Prosser was fifty years old when she ended her life. By all accounts her life was filled with debilitating pain...first the physical pain of an "immunosuppresive disorder" and then the emotional pain that accompanied her efforts to utilize her medical marijuana license to obtain the drug that reportedly eased her constant discomfort.

She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws" by seizing such shipments.

“I feel immensely let down," Prosser would write a few months later, in a guest opinion for the Billings Gazette published July 28. “I have no safety, no protection, no help just to survive in a little less pain. I can't even get a job due to my medical marijuana use - can't pass a drug test."

Federal prosecutors declined to charge Prosser, but fear spread through the system of marijuana distribution set up in the wake of the medical marijuana act. Friends said Prosser turned to other sources for marijuana, but found problems nearly everywhere she turned.

A number of bloggers have written about Prosser's tragic death and while the topics of medical marijuana and the "war on drugs" warrant discussion, I think a larger issue merits even more attention. That issue is the growing need to view others through a template which relies upon the belief that society is best served when homogeneity is embraced and enforced.

The problem begins with a reliance upon statistics and soon morphs into the conclusion that all situations and all individuals can be understood by looking at the prevailing data to determine what is acceptable and what must be rejected. While this model serves us well with regards to the approval of drugs by the FDA; it fails miserably when attempting to predict each individuals capacity to lead a functional life...especially when that life is lived outside the norm.

At its worst, I believe that such a construct not only leads to a mind set which demands similitude; but it encourages the mediocrity that seems to have become a burgeoning affliction in this country. Differentness seems to have become a disquieting condition which has led us to react with fear to all that is outside the safe confines of the normative range of behaviors.

As I read the many comments on the Prosser situation, I was struck by the countless assertions of certainty regarding the use of marijuana and the propensity to cite the evidence proffered by the government in its ongoing opposition to marijuana. Here's the problem. For every study that offers a rationale to prevent its use, there are ten that document the dangers of consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, the powers that be support the notion that adults can and will make reasoned decisions with regard to their use of alcohol while prohibiting those same adults from doing so with marijuana and other recreational drugs.

The individuals who so boldly claim that marijuana is a gateway drug...a drug which can lead to depression...a drug whose use is indicative of a surrender to the travails faced by the individual...are the same individuals who believe they can judiciously manage their own use of alcohol...a drug with all of the same contraindications.

Let me be clear...my comparison to alcohol is not offered as a justification for the legalization of marijuana even though it may be a compelling argument. I offer the comparison to highlight the inconsistency inherent in the arguments which attempt to apply statistical data without regard for the varying abilities of the individual. The exceptionalism which is so often applied to America by Americans is mysteriously absent when looking at individuals who operate outside the safe zone of the proverbial bell curve.

Truth be told, the exceptional traits which we so frequently attribute to this nation clearly resulted from the efforts of individuals who refused to be confined by conventionality and the prescribed standards we now cling to with more unfounded fears than those associated with a child's reliance upon a security blanket. Each submission to our fears is another piece of evidence that the average American identity grows ever more fragile. That fragility also facilitates the flattening of the curve and an across the board free fall towards a safe but shared inferiority.

As we acquiesce to all that defines a nanny state, we are fast becoming a nation of sniping adult children who succumb to pettiness because it is far easier than confronting the many complex discriminations that accompany the human condition. In our rush to mediocrity, we hasten the demise of the creative spirit, we stifle those who would otherwise take the risks that have allowed us to exceed all others, and we force the Robin Prosser's of the world to believe that their very existence is so antagonistic that they can no longer live amongst us.

When we allow the pain of our irrational fears to exceed our ability to empathize with those in our midst who are suffering tangible tragedy we move ever closer to the very demise we imagine may come if we were to make allowances for our differences. Robin Prosser is no longer living...but we who remain are less alive each time we foster the intolerance we're unable or unwilling to overcome.

Tagged as: Drug Enforcement Agency, Medical Marijuana, Robin Prosser, Suicide

Daniel DiRito | October 28, 2007 | 11:31 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules 10/26/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill Maher pans the newly packaged Old Spice cologne...calling it the scent of that uncle who molested you as a child. He lets us know that he could care less if Dumbledore is gay...he gives some tips for Halloween and dons his Halloween headgear to put an exclamation point on his concerns about global warming.

Maher closes with a reasoned critique of the ongoing effort of the GOP to frighten the public into voting for tough guy Republicans who promise to protect us from the impending threat of Islamic radicals while we seemingly accept the many examples of incompetence that surround us.

Tagged as: Bill Maher, Dumbledore, Global Warming, GOP, Islamofascism, New Rules, Old Spice

Daniel DiRito | October 27, 2007 | 8:19 PM | link | Comments (0)
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An Apology For My Recent Absence...And A Rant genre: Indie-Script

Software Nightmares

My apologies for my extended absence. I wish I could report that I took off to distant parts on a whim with a newfound friend...but...alas...all I can report is that I have just spent the better part of three days (and I am talking about 18 hours per) backing up and reinstalling my operating system on the PC from hell (or should I say Dell?).

The good news is...not to be found. After my three day brain drain, it now appears that the system will have to be removed and installed a second time. Suffice it to say that at the moment I'm in favor of the President bombing another country...however it isn't Iran...it is India.

OK, I know that is unfair, but no doubt in my weakened state I think I'm entitled to lash out...and right now it's at the technical support people for Dell, Microsoft, and Symantec in India who are currently the bane of my existence. Just once it would be nice for George Bush's insane foreign policy to match up with my own maniacal thoughts.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be playing with my distant friends again tomorrow afternoon as we give it another go. Frankly, I'm not even sure why I've agreed to try this again but it's one of those instances where blind stubbornness has defeated practicality...or one might even conclude I'm a closet masochist who has suddenly found his way out of the closet.

I've been told that if Dell can't make it work this time, they will look at a replacement. At the moment, I'm telling myself that would justify my time and effort. I'm trying to avoid the fact that I may just be substituting one headache with another.

I'll close with one final thought...Macintosh rules!

Tagged as: Computers, Dell, Macintosh, Microsoft, Software, Symantec, Technology

Daniel DiRito | October 25, 2007 | 12:44 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Clarence Thomas: Blind To The Chip On His Shoulder? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas, in his new book titled My Grandfather's Son, draws perhaps one of the most inane conclusions I've heard in a long time. Thomas contends that affirmative action rendered his Yale law degree virtually worthless...leading him to literally and figuratively attach a paltry value of fifteen cents to it.

Perhaps I'm treading on fragile ground, but Thomas' conclusion suggests to me that his view of reality may actually emanate from persistent resentments and a series of misguided attributions.

The conservative justice says he initially considered his admission to Yale a dream, but soon felt he was there because of his race. He says he loaded up on tough courses to prove he was not inferior to his white classmates but considers the effort futile. He says he was repeatedly turned down in job interviews at law firms after his 1974 graduation.

"I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it," Thomas writes. "I'd graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value."

Thomas says he stores his Yale Law degree in his basement with a 15-cent sticker from a cigar package on the frame.

Excuse me, but isn't is possible that what Mr. Thomas exuded, and employers perceived, in his post-Yale interviews was the same surly "chip on his shoulder" persona that many point to this very day? The fact that a man burdened by such insecurity and conflicted by so many inferred grievances sits on the highest court in the land and likely filters each case through this skewed template is a frightening thought. The fact that many of the current GOP presidential candidates point to Thomas as a model for future judicial appointments is unconscionable.

Let me be clear. No doubt Thomas is a man of extraordinary intellect and possesses the credentials to warrant his position. Notwithstanding, anyone who has been in a position to hire employees realizes that a stellar resume can be negated by an incongruous attitude. In fact, this very circumstance is often rife with the potential for distorted perceptions to overwhelm an otherwise eRudyte individual.

Anecdotally, one could also argue that Thomas' difficulty in securing a position following his graduation may have resulted from residual racism that certainly existed in 1974, the year of his graduation. The fact that affirmative action may have facilitated his education and provided the grounds to reject him as an employee (his view) needn't nullify the significance of the opportunity it afforded and the eventual benefit it provided.

If Mr. Thomas believes his inclusion at Yale was a function of an ill-advised quota system, do his eventual achievements not suggest that affirmative action actually succeeded in opening doors that may have otherwise been closed to those who should have been welcomed based upon merit? Had Mr. Thomas been excluded from Yale and subsequently written a book which argued that racism played a part in denying access to education for individuals of merit, he could easily be a champion for the very program he seeks to skewer...and his seat on the Supreme Court would provide the very same justifications for that argument.

Frankly, Thomas' difficulties finding work are not foreign to millions of qualified Americans...black, white, brown, Italian, Catholic, or gay to name a few. Fortunately, the vast majority of them don't focus upon harboring animosities...animosities which tint or taint the views they hold for the remainder of their lives. Some of his fellow Yale students support that very argument.

His view isn't shared by black classmate William Coleman III.

"I can only say my degree from Yale Law School has been a great boon," said Coleman, now an attorney in Philadelphia. "Had he not gone to a school like Yale, he would not be sitting on the Supreme Court."

Edgar Taplin Jr., raised by a single parent in New Orleans, said he landed a job after graduation at the oldest law firm in New York, and does not recall black graduates struggling more to get jobs than their white classmates.

"My degree was worth a lot more than 15 cents," said Taplin, who retired in 2003 as a global manager with Exxon Mobil.

William Coleman says it's time for Thomas to move on.

"You did OK, guy," he said.

In fairness to Thomas, I'm certain he encountered unwarranted obstacles and that is supported by some former classmates and teachers at Yale. His book is noteworthy for the sincere homage he pays to his grandfather. Had it not included the portions that suggest he remains an unresolved and vengeful individual, one could actually view his life as a tale of remarkable resiliency. Unfortunately, my impression is that Thomas is appreciative of the former but driven by the latter.

Thomas has declined to have his portrait hung at Yale Law School along with other graduates who became U.S. Supreme Court justices. An earlier book, "Supreme Discomfort," by Washington Post reporters Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, portrays Thomas as still upset some Yale professors opposed his confirmation during hearings marked by Anita Hill's allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

If Clarence Thomas' experience represents the worst of affirmative action...and it seems he believes as much...then it seems to me that the benefits have far outweighed the costs. Lest we forget, for every Clarence Thomas there was no doubt ten others who faced the discrimination and the inequity of opportunity that affirmative action sought to correct. Mr. Thomas, through his words and actions, continues to ignore the relevance of that actuality.

Mr. Thomas, if your charmed life is so insufficient as to warrant the angry recitations you felt compelled to include in your biographical account and you seem to exhibit in the positions you take as a Supreme Court Justice, then may I suggest you're little more than the bastion of bitterness many have come to believe you to be?

Tagged as: Affirmative Action, Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather's Son, Supreme Court, Yale

Daniel DiRito | October 21, 2007 | 10:58 AM | link | Comments (1)
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The Last Puzzle Pieces Of A Dysfunctional Presidency? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak

An interesting pattern is developing which may provide incontrovertible evidence that the Bush administration's foreign policy is an unmitigated failure. In reviewing the evidence, this failure may result from the propensity of George Bush to form opinions of foreign leaders based upon unfounded, instantaneous, and impulsive impressions.

Recent developments in our relationships with Russia and Pakistan highlight these concerns and raise doubts as to the President's ability to size-up Vladimir Putin and Pervez Musharraf. While these situations seem to have garnered less attention than the war in Iraq and the tensions with Iran and North Korea; they may soon provide the proof that George Bush's judgment is fully insufficient and fatally flawed.

Few can forget the President's glowing assessment of Vladimir Putin immediately following his first meeting with the Russian leader and former KGB agent. The President's characterization of his bonding with "Vladimir" sounded more like the musings of a smitten schoolboy than the measured and deliberate views of a world leader. Reason Magazine offered the following insight into the mechanics of this quickly blossoming bond.

This beginning of a beautiful friendship was reportedly aided by Putin's touching story of a cross which he received from his mother and which miraculously survived a fire at his summer cottage. (As one of Russia's surviving liberal commentators, Yulia Latynina, has noted, if Bush had belonged to a different faith Putin would no doubt have shared an equally touching tale about "a piece of advice given by a wise rabbi.")

Note that the basis of this kinship has its roots in a testimony of faith...and mirrors the perception that George Bush approaches most interactions with an emphasis upon religious ideology and a willingness to promote those he perceives to be like minded and loyal. Recall that the Bush administration has hired 150 individuals who graduated from of Pat Robertson's Regent University...a "fourth-tier" law school according to U.S. News & World Report.

Take a look at some of the other quotes from George Bush which support the argument that he relies upon instinct and intuition when making important and far reaching judgments.

From InCharacter:

After meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin, Mr. Bush had him sized up: “I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

Explaining to journalist Bob Woodward his decision to launch the Iraq War, he said, “I’m a gut player. I rely on my instincts."

The purpose of the president’s 2006 fly-in to Baghdad was, he explained to American troops, “to look Prime Minister Maliki in the eyes — to determine whether or not he is as dedicated to a free Iraq as you are." The president’s snap assessment: “I believe he is."

When interviewed on TV by Larry King, Bush confidently said, “If you make decisions based upon what you believe in your heart of hearts, you stay resolved."

Expanding on the probability that Bush miscalculated with regards to Putin, take a look at the following exchange between Garry Kasparov (who is a candidate trying to unseat Putin) and Bill Maher during last evenings edition of Real Time on HBO.

Kasparov offers a thoughtful and insightful view of Putin which seems to have eluded George Bush throughout his involvement with the increasingly authoritarian Russian leader. Recent events seem to support Kasparov's convincing argument that Putin masterfully manipulated George Bush. No doubt that should leave the American public all the more concerned and even more anxious for the President's second term to end.

Should anyone doubt the extent to which George Bush may have miscalculated with regards to Putin and his ambitions, the Washington Times aptly fills in the blanks.

From The Washington Times:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit to Moscow is just the latest sign that, more than 16 years after the collapse of Soviet Communism, Moscow is gravitating towards Cold War behavior. The old Soviet obsession — fighting American "imperialism" — remains undiluted. "Keeping the relationship with Washington on the verge of a crisis and inventing an imaginary 'American enemy' is creating much-needed legitimacy for the current Russsian leadership, which now has only Mr. Putin's personal popularity as its political base," observes Heritage Foundation scholar Ariel Cohen.

Indeed, at virtually every turn, Mr. Putin and the Russian leadership appear to be doing their best in ways large and small to marginalize and embarrass the United States and undercut U.S. foreign policy interests. [...]

The Russian strongman has threatened to retarget Russia's missiles at Europe if missile defenses are deployed there. Mr. Putin has also threatened to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan (the INF treaty eliminated Soviet-era SS-20 missiles and U.S. Pershing II missiles deployed in Europe.) And he has also threatened to pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty limiting force levels between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.

[...] Although Moscow has supported earlier sanctions against Iran (after lobbying to water sanctions down), Mr. Putin invited Mr. Ahmadinejad to the Russian capital in an effort to undercut U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran in response to its nuclear weapons program and its role as a state sponsor of terrorism. On Tuesday, speaking at a conference in Tehran involving nations that border the Caspian Sea, the Russian leader warned the United States against a military strike against Iran's illicit nuclear facilities, And along with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Mr. Putin backed the right of Iran to develop so-called peaceful nuclear energy — in essence, adopting Tehran's false assertions that it isn't attempting to obtain nuclear weapons.

But for the most part, Mr. Putin is working to damage U.S. interests, and his "anti-imperialist" policies are reminiscent of Soviet-era behavior.

Clearly Putin's recent actions aren't indicative of a sudden change of heart; rather he has merely found this moment to be the opportune time to unveil his real intentions and put the screws to his less than nimble American "friend"...the one who looked into his clever eyes and thought he saw the soul of a sincere "crony".

The fact that our President chose to characterize the potential for Iran to become a nuclear nation as the predecessor event to World War III simply gives Putin the pivotal power he seeks in order to reestablish Russia as a major player in world affairs and himself as the agent to execute that role. Putin has essentially positioned himself as a key player in any effort to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities which may well mean any peaceful resolution will have to include negotiating with Russia. Hence Putin has the leveraged position he may have been seeking from the outset.

Moving onto the President's relationship with Pakistan's Pervez Musharaff, a man George Bush called "his buddy", we see indications of the same behavior.

From India Daily:

Only time can say if the US made another mistake in Pakistan by supporting the dictatorship in Pakistan. ''Musharraf is a strong ally in the war against these extremists. I like him and I appreciate him,'' Bush said.

Bush also called Musharraf a partner in the promotion of democracy. "I''m of course, constantly working with him to make sure that democracy continues to advance in Pakistan. He's been a valuable ally in rejecting extremists. And that's important, to cultivate those allies," he said.

As one looks at the increasingly dicey situation in Pakistan, one is forced to wonder if our blind allegiance to Musharraf has precluded our maneuverability. Despite all of the gratuitous rhetoric about democracy, the people of Pakistan increasingly resent the fact that the United States has hitched its wagon to a leader who took power through a military coup and has thwarted efforts to conduct a legitimately democratic election.

History tells us that Pakistan has the makings of previous U.S. foreign policy disasters whereby we have propped up dictators who we feel we can manage...all the while doing so at the expense of wholesale unrest amongst the inhabitants of those nations. Iran is the first to come to mind and we all know that dangerous story is still unfolding. The fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation only exacerbates the concerns. Take a look at some excerpts from a recent article in The New York Times.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 — The scenes of carnage in Pakistan this week conjured what one senior administration official on Friday called “the nightmare scenario" for President Bush’s last 15 months in office: Political meltdown in the one country where Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and nuclear weapons are all in play.

White House officials insisted in interviews that they had confidence that their longtime ally, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, would maintain enough control to keep the country stable as he edged toward a power-sharing agreement with his main rival, Benazir Bhutto.

But other current and former officials cautioned that the administration had invested so much in General Musharraf’s success that its leverage was now limited. Similarly, they and Pakistan experts said that a series of policy miscalculations had left the administration with few good options.

They contended that the administration was surprised by how quickly domestic support for General Musharraf eroded, and that it was slow to act on warnings dating to 2004 that the administration had built too much of its policy around a single Pakistani leader. That over-reliance meant that a more coherent policy was never fully fashioned.

Some officials fear that a year of unrest, violence and political intrigue in Pakistan could undercut President Bush’s last chance to root out Osama bin Laden from the lawless territory where Al Qaeda has regrouped, and could cripple a renewed administration effort to turn around Afghanistan.

Today, despite the administration’s heavy reliance on General Musharraf, the tribal areas are a base for a revitalized Qaeda, which has created a new command structure and is again planning international attacks, according to a National Intelligence Estimate issued in July, parts of which the administration published in an unclassified form.

So the stakes in Pakistan reach well beyond its own borders. Not only is it possible that a relatively moderate nation may be in the process of a radical transformation towards Islamic extremism, our support for an unpopular leader may be facilitating that shift and laying the groundwork for Pakistan to become a reconstituted Afghanistan under the prevailing influences of both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Efforts to include former leader Benazir Bhutto in a newly formed government may be too little too late as anything remotely endorsed by Musharraf may be viewed to be too closely directed by the United States. Since Bhutto is popular with Pakistan's moderates and arguably viewed as a strong proponent for democracy, were her role in a shared leadership to be seen as capitulation to a plan guided by the United States, it may precipitate the wholesale embracing of those extremists who renounce the perceived meddling of the West in the region.

I contend that those who have relied on the relatively moderate temperament of the Pakistani population as grounds for continued support of Musharraf and the gradual move towards democratization may fail to realize that all of the ingredients for radicalization are present in this increasingly unstable nation. Should the circumstances continue to fuel the fire, the recipe will not only take shape, but the finished product will turn out to be a culinary catastrophe we can't swallow.

Frankly, the situations with Putin and Musharraf are reminiscent of many other instances of stubborn bravado and blind loyalty that have typified the Bush administration. When persistent intransigence is accompanied by the isolation it naturally engenders, the path to rational and reasoned objectivity is often erased. Worse yet, it frequently happens unconsciously.

In the end, its as if the President all too often confronts issues by first defining his own intuited reality and then proceeds to operate as if it is the equivalent of the proverbial "gospel truth". As such, adjustments are grudgingly made only when the prevailing facts become completely incontrovertible and the circumstance are utterly untenable. By that time, the damage has been done and the costs have been incurred.

With approximately fifteen months to go, we can only hope that George Bush won't have the opportunity or the inclination to further exercise his suspect abilities to discern friend from foe.

Tagged as: Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Bill Maher, Foreign Policy, Garry Kasparov, George W. Bush, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Russia, Taliban

Daniel DiRito | October 20, 2007 | 12:16 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Bill Maher: New Rules 10/19/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill has some fun with the new double-decker airplane by AirBus, Rudy's plan for protecting children from aliens, the myth of air fresheners, and this weekends GOP Values Voters Summit. Maher makes the point out that the states identified to have the most Christian conservatives also have the highest rates of divorce and teen pregnancy.

He closes with a pithy assault on the hypocrisy of values voters who accept torture, oppose health care for poor children, support an endless war in Iraq, and deny the existence of global warming in favor of being outraged at the revealing of a breast at the Super Bowl and focused upon the perception that there is a war on Christmas.

Tagged as: Bill Maher, Christian Conservatives, GOP, Rudy Giuliani, Values Voter Summit

Daniel DiRito | October 20, 2007 | 11:26 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Political Strategy: Keep An Eye On Mike Huckabee genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Mike Huckabee

The Republican Party remains unconvinced by their front running presidential candidates. This weekend religious conservatives are holding a Values Voter Summit in Washington DC...hoping to identify a candidate they can support. Despite the many pundits who believe Rudy Giuliani is headed towards the Republican Party's nomination, I have my suspicions that we will see Mike Huckabee emerge as a viable alternative. Here's the basis of my speculation.

1. Giuliani will not be able to undo the damage done to his prospects by the strident opposition of evangelical leaders like James Dobson. While polling indicates he has support from Christian conservatives, the same polling suggests that support is soft and therefore vulnerable.

2. Romney may be willing to say whatever evangelicals want to hear but when its all said and done, he remains a Mormon and that's a hurdle far too many evangelicals will not be able to overcome.

3. Thompson created high expectations by delaying his announcement to run and his performance since entering the race has been disappointing. His opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage put an exclamation mark on the disappointment.

4. McCain may have the best track record on social issues but his history with evangelicals has been confrontational and I suspect many GOP voters simply don't think he can win the general election. The fact that he supported the President on immigration and is so closely aligned with the President on the war in Iraq doesn't help his cause with independent voters.

5. The anticipated withdrawal of Sam Brownback eliminates one of Huckabee's primary rivals for the evangelical vote...as well as the votes of conservative Catholics. The fact that Brownback believes the GOP nominee must be "a pro-life candidate" suggests the Kansas Senator will not support Giuliani.

So how does Huckabee enter the top tier and become a legitimate contender? Partly by who he is...inclusive of his Christian credentials...and partly be default especially if he can succeed in becoming the protest candidate in the Iowa primary. The challenge Huckabee faces is formidable. He has his detractors amongst traditional conservatives and they include the influential Richard Viguerie. My own belief is that Viguerie favors establishing a third party nominee and is therefore doing his best to disqualify the existing GOP candidates.

Notwithstanding the opposition Huckabee faces from the evangelical elite, his down home approach appeals to the average church goer in the GOP...individuals who will ultimately decide the winner of the Iowa primary. Huckabee may also be the best speaker in the field and his conciliatory tone plays well with those evangelicals who fear another abrasive candidate like George Bush may turn off moderate conservatives and independents who have grown weary of the unyielding gridlock. The fact that Huckabee holds true to the GOP social agenda but seeks to enact it with civility and a seemingly sincere style is also appealing.

If one looks at the criticisms of Huckabee from the likes of Viguerie; they may represent differences on issues that will play well with middle class Republicans...voters who many believe have supported the GOP even though doing so may have not been in their own best interest. The fact that the GOP has had success in painting prior Democratic candidates as elitists may have actually opened the eyes of these mainstream Republicans who now feel they may have been used by their own GOP elite.

What evangelicals are beginning to realize is that elitism exists throughout the political system and the promises they received from the GOP on social issues may have been nothing more than the means to guarantee their votes. Viguerie's criticisms of Huckabee may actually represent the other concerns that impact values voters...interests which are beginning to resonate and may influence their future votes...votes that may be cast for men like Mike Huckabee who support their values but do more than provide lip service. A few of Viguerie's objections to Huckabee follow.

Not only did he increase Arkansas's minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.25 per hour, but he even encouraged the U.S. Congress to do the same thing nationally.

He supported President George W. Bush's 2003 massive expansion of Medicare by adding a prescription-drug benefit.

He called the No Child Left Behind Act, which increased federal education spending by 48 percent and expanded big-government control of local schools, "the greatest education reform effort of the federal government in my lifetime."

The GOP elite seems to believe they can take values voters for granted with little more than stating the right things with regards to social issues. However, these voters may be ready to embrace a candidate who not only shares their religious values but will support programs that provide them with other important economic considerations. Truth be told, many values voters who have repeatedly supported the GOP received little benefit from the Bush administration's policies (think tax cuts). A candidate like Mike Huckabee may offer a much more palatable formula.

A number of stars have to align for Huckabee to emerge as a viable contender...but he can look to the path taken to the presidency by another former Arkansas Governor. The fact that Bill Clinton, frequently regarded as one of the best political minds in recent history, cites Huckabee as the second tier GOP candidate to watch suggests that those stars may be more malleable than we may realize.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bill Clinton, Christian Conservatives, Evangelicals, Fred Thompson, GOP, James Dobson, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Richard Viguerie, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback

Daniel DiRito | October 19, 2007 | 12:14 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Getting Dizzy genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Two spires in Barcelona - 2004

If Everything Revolves Around You, Who Gets Dizzy?

Daniel DiRito | October 18, 2007 | 3:52 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Augie March - One Crowded Hour genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Every now and then a band emerges with more than an appealing sound. Augie March is one of those bands. The band hails from Australia and they recently launched their first major U.S. release titled, Moo, You Bloody Choir. You can find their MySpace page here.

The band is led by Glenn Richards who is arguably more poet than pop star. His songs tell stories...but the manner in which they are told makes them uniquely gripping and overflowing with emotion. Unlike many songwriters who seek to overwhelm the listener, Richards approach is subtle and somber, yet informed and inspiring. This magical mix sets Richards apart and left me struggling to identify a comparable contemporary as well as a list of identifiable influences.

Much of what is written about the band references Bob Dylan and while I hear it...it seems an incomplete description. My own take...less folksy than Steve Forbert's It Isn't Gonna Be That Way though equally poetic and poignant...more simplistic than The Waterboys though quite similar in the the use of muted imagery and symbolism...and possessing some evidence of the reflective angst found in many of the songs of Hothouse Flowers. Feel free to offer your own comparisons as I'm still trying to lock in on something more definitive.

The following video is Augie March performing One Crowded Hour, a song from the new CD.

Augie March - One Crowded Hour

Tagged as: Augie March, Australia, Glenn Richards, Music, One Crowded Hour

Daniel DiRito | October 18, 2007 | 12:56 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Top 10 Reasons George Bush Appointed Susan Orr genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Access To The Eggs

I've come to realize that one must avoid the inclination to be shocked or surprised by the actions of the Bush administration. Today's reported appointment of Susan Orr to head the Department of Health and Human Services family planning program is just another in a long string of head scratchers.

Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.

"We have another appointment that just truly politicizes family planning," said Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. "The last time I looked, both Republicans and Democrats used contraception in America."

Orr is a former employee of the Family Research Council, a right wing group founded by James Dobson of Focus on the Family and currently headed by Tony Perkins. The group has used the research of discredited psychologist Paul Cameron to promote their anti-gay agenda as well as to promote other extreme positions of the far right. Need I say more?

I think not. Instead, I decided to have some fun with the appointment so I created the following top ten reasons George W. Bush appointed a birth-control opponent to head the family planning program at the Department of Health and Human Services:

Number Ten:

He's simply trying to be consistent with his disdain for the "politics of obstruction".

Number Nine:

Ever since hearing the band "Rhythm Method" perform, his views on family planning were changed forever.

Number Eight:

The President doesn't like to make the same mistake twice...therefore he accepts that Iraq didn't have...STD's (or was that WMD's?) so he's sure as hell not going to support the meme that people who use condoms won't acquire them either.

Number Seven:

Ever since the Iran-Contra Affair, the President has been opposed to the government having any involvement with "contra-ception".

Number Six:

His father hated broccoli...he hates "condom-ments".

Number Five:

The President opposes a draft because he believes its a free country...but not when it comes to having children. We're going to need every soldier we can get to man his planned fifty year presence in Iraq.

Number Four:

He thinks getting your tubes tied has to do with restricting access to the "internets".

Number Three:

The President previously stated, "Too many OBGYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." To make that happen, he has a vision in mind and Susan Orr is the best person to bring his plan to fruition.

Number Two:

The President is willing to expand poor children's access to health care through S-CHIP...but not unless he has some guarantee that the country is going to have a lot more of them.

Number One:

In order to insure unencumbered access to the "eggs", the President believes the fox should guard the hen house.

Tagged as: Abstinence, Contraception, Department of HHS, Family Research Council, George W. Bush, Humor, James Dobson, Paul Cameron, Susan Orr

Daniel DiRito | October 17, 2007 | 1:02 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Randi Rhodes, Orwell's 1984, & The Ministry Of Truth genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Ministry of Truth?

The internet is abuzz with reports that Air America Radio personality Randi Rhodes will be off the air while she recovers from injuries she sustained last evening.

There are conflicting reports on how Rhodes sustained her injuries. According to a fellow Air America personality, Jon Elliott, Rhodes was the victim of an attack while she was walking her dog. That statement led to immediate speculation that the assault upon Rhodes may have been politically motivated; making her the victim of a hate crime.

The following is from the Air America blog:

Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.

As the story has continued to unfold, the following alternate explanation comes from the New York Daily News:

Air America radio host Randi Rhodes is temporarily off the air, but claims she was brutally attacked near her Manhattan apartment are bogus, her lawyer and a police source said today.

A police source said Rhodes never filed a report and never claimed to be the victim of a mugging. Cops from Manhattan's 17th Precinct called her attorney, who told them Rhodes was not a victim of a crime, the source said.

Rhodes' lawyer told the Daily News she was injured in a fall while walking her dog. He said she's not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain. The lawyer said Rhodes expects to be back on the air Thursday. He stressed there is no indication she was targeted or that she was the victim of a "hate crime."

The network released a statement that said Rhodes "experienced an unfortunate incident."

"The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded," the statement read by a receptionist at the network's New York offices said. "Ms. Rhodes is looking forward to being back on the air on Thursday."

First and foremost, I hope Rhodes is recovering from her injuries and will soon be able to resume her work at Air America. With that said, I have to admit that I find the speculation and the commentary related to the incident sickening. In a country we contend represents the best of the civilized world, the truth of the matter is that there is less and less civility to be found.

Honestly, the stories making headlines in the last couple weeks highlight the endless bickering which has come to typify our political discourse...a discourse that has deteriorated into hate filled diatribes designed to destroy the "enemy" regardless of the facts or the likelihood of collateral damage.

In a country which goes out of its way to revile terrorism and the terrorists who carry it out, we are on a fast track to fomenting the anger and animosity which is the hallmark of these hate groups. We are on the precipice of virtually every event being filtered through one of the two polarized political templates...whether warranted or not.

As I've read the various comments on the Rhodes incident, I noticed several sites mentioned the murder of Denver talk radio personality Alan Berg in 1984. I was a fan of Berg's radio program and I remember my feelings of sadness upon hearing of his death. While no one was ever convicted of the murder, it appears that a white supremacist group called The Order may have been involved in Berg's death.

In 1984 Berg was undoubtedly abrasive...but he was also eRudyte. He loved the debate and he routinely savaged those who were unable to elucidate their position on the subject at hand...but I don't recall that he engaged in the organized political rhetoric that dominates today's dialogue. Alan Berg was his own man and the views he held were his own convictions. His contact with listeners was heated but his positions were more than hyperbole. The innuendo of swift boating wouldn't have appealed to Berg. If he believed in something, he didn't just seek to discredit his opponent by raising doubt, he sought to sink the boats of those who disagreed with him and he did so with a full frontal assault which was replete with an arsenal of tangible evidence.

As I draw comparisons between the Alan Berg era and the current political environment typified by the debate on Randi Rhodes, one thing becomes abundantly clear...a murder which what was likely carried out by a fringe group in 1984 is today apt to be committed by an otherwise ordinary citizen.

Let me be clear. I don't offer such conjecture in support of the assertions that the Rhodes incident was politically motivated or a hate crime. In fact, we simply don't know enough about the incident to draw any conclusions...which is integral to the argument I seek to make. I offer my thoughts as evidence of an environment where we're too willing to jump to conclusions and far more focused upon escalating animosity than encouraging deliberate debate.

While the Alan Bergs of the world were content to live in isolation on a virtual island rather than compromise their principles...today's provocateurs will willfully compromise principle if they can be convinced it may lead to a world that is populated with malleable minions...virtually programmable robots who have had their ability to reason replaced by a susceptibility to subjective subterfuge. The Randi Rhodes incident is simply the vehicle upon which this manufactured reality is built.

In the ultimate of ironies, Alan Berg died while opposing the silencing of societal critics and promoting the open exchange of ideas in the year (1984) we associate with George Orwell's famous tale (1984) of a world dominated by the deceptive efforts of the "Ministry of Truth". Some three decades later, we live in a world inhabited by individuals who willingly embrace one of the available ideologies of insinuation with nary a passing consideration of our proximity to the truth.

Is it possible that what Orwell warned would result in "the individual person's subordination to the Party collective" has come to pass? On days like today, with stories like this one, my answer is yes.

Tagged as: 1984, Air America Radio, Alan Berg, George Orwell, Jon Elliott, Ministry of Truth, Randi Rhodes, The Order

Daniel DiRito | October 16, 2007 | 11:37 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Bravenewfilms Releases Video: The Real Rudy: Radios genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Video-Philes

Many Republicans view Rudy Giuliani as the front runner for the GOP nomination and they do so based upon his handling of 9/11. If Bravenewfilms is successful in getting their message out to the public, voters may reconsider their assessment of Giuliani's tenure as the mayor of New York City. The group has recently released another short film which questions the leadership and decision making of Giuliani.

The following video is titled, The Real Rudy: Radios, and it explains the situation surrounding the failure of the New York Fire Department's radios on September 11th. The radios were the same ones used during the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center...the same ones which also failed to function properly during that prior event.

Even worse, in early 2001, the city awarded a lucrative 14 million dollar contract to Motorola for the replacement of the radio system. The radios were put into service without adequate testing and, after a week, the new system was scrapped and the Fire Department returned to the old radios.

Many believe that the high numbers of firefighters killed in the towers resulted from the fact that they were unable to hear the calls to evacuate the building. Evidence suggests that police officers received the communications and many were therefore able to move to safety.

Bravenewfilms has released two other videos detailing Rudy Giuliani's service as "America's Mayor" which can be found here and here.

Those wishing to sign a petition to launch a new investigation can do so here.

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, 9/11, Fire Department, GOP, Motorola, New York City, Rudy Giuliani, World Trade Center

Daniel DiRito | October 15, 2007 | 10:54 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Portugal's Mariza Performs On Letterman genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Mariza is likely unknown to most American music listeners, as is her music genre. Born in Mozambique and raised in Portugal, Mariza is a consummate "fado" singer. Her MySpace page can be found here.

Fado has been around for many years and is frequently considered to be Portuguese folk music with a focus on the sea and the travails of the poor. Above all else, the music is richly emotive and representative of the feelings associated with the long absence of a loved one.

The first video that follows is from her recent performance on Letterman's The Late Show. The song is called, O Gente Da Minha Terra, which translates to "Oh People Of My Land". The song can be found on her CD titled Concerto Em Lisboa. I was mesmerized by this performance and her evocative stage presence. The second video is the actual music video for the same song.

Mariza On Letterman- O Gente Da Minha Terra

Mariza Music Video - O Gente Da Minha Terra

Tagged as: David Letterman, Mariza, Portugal, The Late Show

Daniel DiRito | October 14, 2007 | 11:59 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Bill Maher: New Rules 10/12/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill Maher covers sex with robots, the prevalence of rehab as remedy, steam rolling the music CD's of anti-war artists, and the faux outrage at Barack Obama's "scandalous" decision to forego the wearing of a flag pin on his...

Tagged as: Barack Obama, Bill Maher, Fox News, New Rules, Sean Hannity

Daniel DiRito | October 13, 2007 | 12:07 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Ann Coulter...Perfected!? - I Don't Think So! genre: Hip-Gnosis & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Ann Coulter is back in the news...duh! The following video clip is from the CNBC show, The Big Idea, hosted by Donny Deutsch. As Deutsch gave Ann Coulter the opportunity to describe her ideal America, she made the statement...

Tagged as: Ann Coulter, Bible, Catholicism, Donny Deutsch, Evangelism, Jewish, New Testament, Old Testament, Religion

Daniel DiRito | October 12, 2007 | 9:20 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Another Take On The Left Vs. Right Question genre: Indie-Script & Tongue-In-Cheek

Generally speaking, whenever we hear left vs. right we think about politics. If you're like me, there are times when you just want to escape from the back and forth which seems to be an endless battle. Well, here's...

Tagged as: Brain Teaser, Left Brain, Right Brain

Daniel DiRito | October 11, 2007 | 6:01 PM | link | Comments (2)
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NGLTF Editorial On ENDA By Matt Foreman genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak

Efforts to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) have been difficult and time consuming. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has been at the forefront in advocating for the passage of this legislation. Recently, the pending legislation was...

Tagged as: Civil Rights, Congress, ENDA, LGBT, Matt Foreman, NGLTF, Transgendered

Daniel DiRito | October 11, 2007 | 2:45 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are genre: Gaylingual & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

October 11th is National Coming Out Day. The act of coming out and allowing others to see you as the person you are...a person like all others with hopes and dreams...does more to advance gay rights than anything else...

Tagged as: Equality, Gay Rights, Homophobia, Humor, LGBT, National Coming Out Day, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | October 11, 2007 | 11:42 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Kudlow's America: Some Eat Steak, The Rest Eat Cake genre: Econ-Recon

If there were ever to be a way to demonstrate the unedited and unadulterated mind set of the GOP elite, Larry Kudlow succeeds in presenting it in an article he titles, Put Some Steak On The Plate. Kudlow, while...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Economics, Entitlements, GOP, Larry Kudlow, Poverty, Social Security, Supply-Side, Tax Rates, Taxation, Trickle Down

Daniel DiRito | October 10, 2007 | 5:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Humanity: Can We See The Forest For The Trees? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

We've all heard the expression, "Can't see the forest for the trees". It's simple yet poignant, and it's message is abundantly accurate...yet all too often ignored. In the last few days, all I've been able to see is the...

Tagged as: Barack Obama, Folsom Street Fair, Gary Aldridge, Graeme Frost, Humanity, MoveOn.org, Rush Limbaugh

Daniel DiRito | October 10, 2007 | 9:13 AM | link | Comments (0)
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The Mouthpiece Of Malice: Mercenary For Hire? genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

Not all children are created equal...at least that seems to be the message from the President and those who support his veto of legislation which sought to expand the States Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)...legislation which is favored by...

Tagged as: Blackwater, George W. Bush, Graeme Frost, Health Care, Health Insurance, Iraq, Mercenary, Michelle Malkin, SCHIP, Veto

Daniel DiRito | October 9, 2007 | 1:28 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Hypocrisy: If Only Sandy Berger Were A Republican? genre: Polispeak & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

There are days when I wish the blogosphere would disappear...and then I reconsider because by and large it is a valuable venue for the exchange of ideas and information. Unfortunately, there are times when the content provides more spin...

Tagged as: Bernard Kerik, Hillary Clinton, Hypocrisy, Jack Abramoff, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Sandy Berger, Scooter Libby

Daniel DiRito | October 8, 2007 | 5:31 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Politics: History & The Future - A Zero-Sum Equation? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Paul Krugman has an interesting opinion piece in today's New York Times in which he argues that, despite assertions to the contrary, the GOP (conservatism), under the tutelage of George W. Bush, "is the same as it ever was"....

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Conservatism, Death, Democrats, Faith, George W. Bush, GOP, History, Intellect, Paul Krugman, Politics, Success, Zero-Sum Equation

Daniel DiRito | October 8, 2007 | 10:38 AM | link | Comments (0)
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SNL Digital Short - Iran So Far...A Song For Mahmoud genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Here's another great Digital Short from SNL. Following the recent visit of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York, and his outrageous statement that there were no homosexuals in his country, Andy Samberg, Fred Armison, and Adam Levine of Maroon...

Tagged as: Adam Levine, Andy Samberg, Digital Short, Fred Armison, Humor, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Maroon 5, SNL

Daniel DiRito | October 6, 2007 | 1:47 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Faux News: Chirs Matthews Is Mean; NBC Is Biased genre: Polispeak & Video-Philes

Good news comrades. Chris Matthews has made the journey to the dark side...at least according to Faux News and a number of the loyal "Repeat-Agains" in wingnut world. Matthews, while attending an event celebrating the tenth year of Hardball,...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Chris Matthews, Debates, Dick Cheney, Fox News, George W. Bush, GOP, Hardball, MSNBC

Daniel DiRito | October 6, 2007 | 10:05 AM | link | Comments (0)
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U.S. Politics: Substance Gave Way To The Superficial? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

With the 2008 presidential campaign in full swing, we are beginning to see each campaign initiate efforts to cast doubt on the opposition. As the primaries approach, candidates hasten their attempts to derail each other's momentum in order to...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Andrew Sullivan, Barack Obama, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Patriotism, Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Flag

Daniel DiRito | October 5, 2007 | 1:52 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Actor Vs. King: Fred Thompson Slams James Dobson genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

Cancel the honeymoon...the wedding is off. After waiting for months for Fred Thompson to enter the GOP presidential primary, it appears that the bloom is already off the rose. OK, I know it's wrong to enjoy watching the spats...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Evangelicals, Focus On The Family, Fred Thompson, James Dobson

Daniel DiRito | October 4, 2007 | 5:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Mitt Romney: He's Never Met A Position He Didn't Take genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Video-Philes

During the 2004 presidential election, much was made of John Kerry's statement, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it". The remark was said to be evidence that the Senator was a flip-flopper...although one...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abortion, Flip-Flopper, GOP, John Kerry, LGBT, Log Cabin Republicans, Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, Roe v. Wade, Same-Sex Marriage, Ted Kennedy

Daniel DiRito | October 4, 2007 | 11:44 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Move On Folks: Nothing To See Here But Us Humans genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions & Video-Philes

OK, let's face it...we live in a divided country. While it seems intuitive to believe that the events of 9/11 would bring us together (and it did for a while), in the long run, it may have helped to...

Tagged as: 9/11, Bill Maher, Chickenhawks, Death, Democrats, Republicans, Terrorism, War

Daniel DiRito | October 3, 2007 | 3:52 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Private Medicine Means No Medicine If You're Poor genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

As expected, George Bush has vetoed the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) which was recently passed by wide bipartisan margins in the House and the Senate. The veto occurred without the fanfare which has typified...

Tagged as: Congress, George W. Bush, Health Care, Medicine, Poverty, SCHIP, Veto

Daniel DiRito | October 3, 2007 | 12:10 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Ending Discrimination: Put The "T" Back In ENDA? genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak

Efforts to pass The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) are once again encountering difficulties. The legislation has struggled for a number of years, having come very close in 1996; failing to pass by just one vote. With the legislation scheduled...

Tagged as: Congress, Discrimination, ENDA, Gay, LGBT, Transgendered

Daniel DiRito | October 2, 2007 | 7:10 PM | link | Comments (4)
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Rudy Giuliani: Continuing The Impotence Equation? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I have a new theory...one that crystallized after reading Glen Greenwald's latest offering at Salon.com. My hypothesis is that the election of Rudy Giuliani as the next president would simply be a continuance of a phenomenon which I have...

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Cowboy Diplomacy, Fear, George W. Bush, Glen Greenwald, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Jamie Kirchick, Michelle Malkin, Norm Podhoretz, Psychology, Rudy Giuliani

Daniel DiRito | October 2, 2007 | 10:35 AM | link | Comments (1)
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