January 2008 Archives
Keith Olbermann delivers another Special Comment... this time on the wrangling over the FISA law and the president's demand that telecom companies, which cooperated in the governments surveillance of phone calls, be granted a blanket immunity .
Olbermann takes the president to task over his parsing of words and his seeming disregard for the intelligence of the American public.
You go Keith!!
Tagged as: AT&T, Dick Cheney, FISA, Keith Olbermann, President Bush, Surveillance, Telecoms
Daniel DiRito | January 31, 2008 | 10:06 PM |
| Comments (0)
On Friday, February 1, 2008, Thought Theater will be relocating to a new host service. The site will be inaccessible for a number of hours during the process.
We anticipate the site will go dark late Friday afternoon and resume service in the early hours of Saturday morning.
We're hopeful all will go well as we have already completed much of the process. As a matter of caution, we are issuing this notice so that Thought Theater readers will be forewarned of the temporary outage.
We anticipate site performance will be improved as a result of this move.
Thank you in advance for your patience.
Tagged as: Host Relocation, Service Interruption, Site Host
Daniel DiRito | January 31, 2008 | 5:08 PM |
| Comments (0)
John McCain seems to be the GOP frontrunner...a position he has rarely held while aspiring to be the Republican presidential nominee. Following his victory in Florida, McCain and his campaign seem to have accepted the esteemed moniker. His apparent inevitability is troubling to many establishment conservatives and a number of evangelicals. As I watched the Senator in the GOP debate from the Ronald Reagan Library, I couldn't help but notice the emergence of what I would characterize as the leading edge of his desire to release a blend of pent-up bitterness and spiteful and surly bravado.
Let me be clear, I don't seek to disparage the Senator or his debate performance. I'm sure he and his fellow candidates must be tired. Nonetheless, McCain's temperament has long been a topic of discussion...and a reason for pause. Last evening, in my opinion, I observed a man who has longed for the authority and the opportunity to speak his mind without the filters politicians so often employ. It left me wondering if I was watching a man who, upon attaining the presidency, might shed his subtle sophistry in favor of an unbridled style of authoritarianism.
Stay with me for a moment. McCain has made a career of portraying himself as a "straight talking" politician who is amenable to reaching across the aisle. When he's done so, it's often been to the chagrin of his fellow Republicans. On the surface, that's an admirable trait and one that seems to have served the Senator well...especially with the mainstream media...the tool he often utilizes to assuage the animosity and skepticism his actions have generated amongst his peers. In my estimation, whether it's a demonstration of sincerity or a carefully executed strategy is open to debate.
Now consider the 2000 GOP primary and the character assassination and personal assaults John McCain endured at the hands of his adversary, George W. Bush. If one can believe the media reports, the attacks were understandably quite hurtful to the Senator...and they are thought to have played a significant role in derailing his presidential aspirations.
Next, think about a man who spent over five years in captivity...a man forced to hold his tongue and bide his time in the face of adversity. Such treatment can undoubtedly alter one's relational skills and interaction style...as well as lead one to adopt a strategy that I would equate with treading water. Essentially, it's a recognition that survival is the fundamental objective...and that may mean saying what is expected or demanded in order to keep one's head above water...until one has the opportunity to do otherwise. As such, John McCain certainly understands what it means to tarry.
As I've watched the run up to the 2008 election, I've felt that McCain has made a number of strategic decisions intended to afford him another shot at the prize he seeks...the presidency. His campaigning for the reelection of George Bush struck me as an attempt to receive the party's presidential baton...in spite of his dislike of his former adversary. His subsequent forays into mending fences with the evangelicals he once assailed were more of the same. As best I can tell, in most instances, these mea culpa moments took place absent the dialogue one would expect to accompany a difficult reconciliation.
At the same time, my sense is his memory is akin to that attributed to an elephant. Hence he never forgets a slight, a fight, an insult, or a defeat. Like with his time as a prisoner of war, McCain has spent the last seven years plotting his escape from the subservience he resents and his ascendancy to the authority he craves. The phenomenon isn't unique to prisoners of war. The same often exists in spouses who stay in abusive relationships until they can envision and enact their escape and exact their revenge.
His occasional episodes of vitriolic derision directed at his primary opponents may offer a glimpse of what lies beneath the affable surface he labors to demonstrate. The measured and halting nature of his recent speeches...delivered with a structured and rhythmic cadence...suggest an alternative stream of thought is on the verge of surfacing...and ample energy must be diverted to keep it at bay until the opportune moment.
His palpable dislike of Mitt Romney prompts other concerns and considerations. One, McCain is apt to see Romney's flip-flopping campaign as a usurpation of the McCain "go along to get along" style. Two, the occasionally uncensored animosity aimed at Romney supports the psychological concept of projection...which essentially posits we're prone to recognize and resent in others that which we have failed to expunge from our own suspect identity.
John McCain may well win the GOP nomination...and that may occur as a function of voter's calculating he is best suited to defeat the nominee of the Democrats. If my hypothesis is correct, the more proximate McCain finds himself to his quintessential objective, the more difficult it will be to suppress the psychological scars that power his psyche. If this happens, the intervening months between his nomination and the November election may pull back the curtains and expose him as little more than the GOP's angry, though impotent, wizard.
The following graphic is a tongue-in-cheek summarization of the above observations.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, California GOP Ronald Reagan Library Debate, Democrats, Domestic Violence, Florida Primary, GOP, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Prisoner of War, Super Tuesday, Wizard of Oz
Daniel DiRito | January 31, 2008 | 9:54 AM |
| Comments (0)
Now that it appears that John McCain has the inside track on the Republican presidential nomination, it's time to draw some general election comparisons with his two potential Democratic opponents.
Before focusing on narrow specifics, my general impression has long been that McCain is the most formidable GOP candidate...despite the tepid support he receives from establishment conservatives and his shaky bona fides with the evangelical base.
Race & Gender:
When looking at either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, both must overcome potential bias...her with regards to being a woman and him with regards to being an African American. My own suspicion is that gender and race could cost either candidate a segment of the voting public. I'm of the opinion that could equate with a low to mid single digit percentage. Advantage McCain.
Conversely, race and gender may be an advantage for both candidates with their respective voter contingencies. If so, it would seem that Senator Clinton would have the most to gain given that women make up a larger portion of the overall voting public. However, that advantage may be somewhat offset by the fact that Clinton elicits high negatives amongst GOP voters. No clear advantage.
Experience (Age) vs. Change:
With regards to experience, the lines of demarcation are relatively clear. Clinton and McCain have more experience and each can be viewed as a Washington fixture. McCain can argue his maverick persona gives him an advantage over Clinton...pointing out that her election would be a return to a prior era of partisanship and acrimony. At the same time, John McCain's record as a Senate contrarian could lead some Republicans to sit out the election. No clear advantage between Clinton and McCain. Both have an advantage over Obama.
As to change, this may be an area where one candidate has an unmistakable advantage. The mood of the country and voter dissatisfaction with the country's direction support the notion that voters are looking for measurable and meaningful change. Obama's age and his inspiring orations position him as a man of vision. Advantage Obama.
Nonetheless, that segues into two important caveats. One, while Obama's message of change provides him with a noticeable advantage, the degree to which he is able to convince voters he can implement it and that they should forego the safety of two known commodities would be essential to his success in capitalizing upon it. Two, this requires a look at age. McCain could appear too old and Obama could be viewed as too young (green vs. eclipsed). Thus a slight advantage affords to McCain based upon historical data suggesting that the elderly turn out in greater numbers than the youth vote. Clinton's age is generally neutral though her primary success with the elderly offsets McCain's age advantage and leaves her with the same narrow potential preferential over Obama.
Foreign Policy & Terrorism:
This is truly a wildcard factor given the uncertainty with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and terrorism (al Qaeda & the Taliban). The status of these situations just prior to the election can and will likely alter this calculation. At the moment, I view the situation in Iraq as a wash between the Democrats and the Republicans. The reduced violence resulting from the surge minimizes the advantage of calling for immediate withdrawal. Additionally, while a wide majority opposes the war, the preferred exit strategy is murkier.
With regard to individual candidates, Obama and McCain have an advantage over Clinton based upon their positions having been more consistent.
If we approach the election with Iraq achieving the political resolutions identified before the surge, McCain likely has an advantage over Obama based upon the voter belief that the GOP is strong on national defense and the Democrats are more inclined to measured diplomacy. McCain would also have an advantage over Clinton but possibly not to the same extent.
If Iraq fails to progress, or deteriorates as the election approaches, Obama would have an advantage over both Clinton and McCain. Obama's persistent opposition to the war would trump Clinton's evolving position as well as McCain's strident support. In this scenario, voter dissatisfaction should bode well for Obama. Advantage Obama.
A terrorist attack in the homeland prior to the election would likely provide McCain with a marked advantage based upon his incessant argument that radical Islamic extremism is the "transcendent issue of the 21st. century? and his military credentials.
Obama could argue that Iraq was an unwarranted distraction from the primary goal of combating terrorism...but the fact that the Democrats have failed to push that position since taking control of Congress in 2006 would likely handicap that argument and be overshadowed by the constant GOP contention that we must defeat the terrorists on their soil. I believe that the virtual silence of the Democrats since 2006 would be portrayed as indecision and political calculation and afford McCain and the GOP the high ground.
As long as Iraq is left to fester unchallenged, the GOP will appear to have demonstrated the willingness to lead and the Democrats will be seen as enablers looking to straddle the fence. Advantage McCain.
Assuming the downturn will persist until the election, voter concerns will benefit the Democrats. McCain's downplaying of his economic credentials coupled with his focus on cutting spending may be warranted sincerity...but it could also be the wrong message for these difficult economic circumstances.
Clinton's policy dexterity should provide voters with tangible solutions to consider while Obama's calls for a new direction could be the rejection of status quo politics that Americans seem to be willing to chance. Equal advantage to Obama and Clinton.
Of all the Republican candidates, McCain stands to receive the most Hispanic votes based upon his support of the president's plan that provided for a path to citizenship. At the same time, he will need to appease the GOP base and their insistence that any form of amnesty be removed from the equation. That puts him in a tough spot and is apt to limit his appeal to Hispanics.
If the Democrats approach immigration by proposing meaningful border security, demanding real employer accountability with regards to curtailing the hiring of illegal employees, and pointing to the impracticality and extremity of deporting 12 to 15 million illegals, they can convince a majority of voters that the GOP has been disingenuous in fomenting fear with calls for harsh measures...especially in the aftermath of their own lackadaisical enforcement of existing laws in order to appease their corporate benefactors. Advantage Clinton and Obama.
I believe 2008 will be the turning point in the health care stalemate. It's an issue whose time has come. I say as much because its impact is being felt by a large majority of Americans and they envision it will inevitably get worse. As such, I suspect that candidates that fail to offer significant proposals do so at their own peril.
The GOP and Senator McCain will likely posture in opposition to the ambitious plans of the Democratic candidate; offering little more than their standard fare solution of market driven expanded access to health care...fully ignoring that cost and affordability are the fundamental and immediate concerns of most Americans. The lack of tangible measures intended to install a new system rather than expand upon a broken one will cost the GOP votes. Advantage Clinton and Obama.
Looking at the Clinton and Obama health care proposals, both have merit. The Clinton plan is more amenable to short sound bites meant to engender voter support while the Obama plan is more cognizant of the fact that millions of Americans simply cannot afford health insurance...voluntarily or mandated...and that the solution must address that issue to actually provide health care solutions to those with immense needs and vacuous means. In the end, the existing political landscape probably favors Senator Clinton since nuance rarely works with impatient and inattentive voters.
Independent Voters & Party Expansion:
Hillary Clinton is at an obvious disadvantage with regards to attracting independent voters and expanding the membership of the Democratic Party. Her polarizing persona and her high negatives simply limit her ability to succeed in this regard.
John McCain, on the other hand, provides the GOP their best chance to draw independent voters and expand the ranks of the party. Unfortunately, those gains have the potential to come at the expense of votes from the party's base. Therefore, in relation to Senator Clinton, John McCain has an advantage.
Senator Obama has an advantage over both McCain and Clinton for two reasons. One, the fact that McCain is the likely GOP nominee suggests that the country may be moving towards the center; making independent voters an influential constituency. When that reality is coupled with the desire for change and an end to partisan polarization, Obama offers the least encumbered candidacy.
Clinton and McCain have likely alienated some independent voters with their perceived positional fluctuations. Those actions are apt to be viewed as a propensity to pander more than a willingness to compromise or unite. McCain still holds an advantage over Clinton; but Senator Obama seems to be the candidate best positioned to draw independent voters and expand his party.
What's At Stake:
Voters will encounter a number of difficult considerations as they head towards the November election and choosing our next president. Members of both parties are trying to evaluate their candidates' ability to defeat the nominee of the other party. Simultaneously, the nation is in the midst of tumultuous times that lack the clarity we would no doubt prefer.
The variables in the 2008 election may well exceed the bulk of our prior presidential elections. We're engaged in two wars with an overriding threat of terrorism...we have a woman and an African American running for the highest office...we face the likelihood of a recession and unprecedented declines in home values...and we enter an election year as a nation divided by unprecedented partisanship. Transcending these obstacles would not only be beneficial; it may well be necessary. It remains to be seen if we can turn this pivotal moment to our mutual advantage. The future of our nation likely hangs in the balance.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democrats, Economy, Foreign Policy, Gender, GOP, Health Care, Hillary Clinton, Immigration, John McCain, Race, Terrorism
Daniel DiRito | January 30, 2008 | 7:53 PM |
| Comments (0)
I've always enjoyed The Onion. They're now presenting their "faux" news in video format on YouTube...and the following is one of my favorites.
The gist of the "story" is that the Mitt Romney campaign is doing all they can to dispel the accusations that the candidate believes in tolerance. The focus is on the campaigns efforts to reject Romney's apparent tolerance of homosexuality in the past.
The Onion wants to know what Romney can do to prove his newfound homophobia is genuine. The reporters ponder whether the former Massachusetts governor can shore up his wavering support among bigots by making disparaging remarks about women or Mexicans...a quick ethnic slur or two if you will.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Homophobia, Humor, Immigration, LGBT, Mitt Romney, Same-Sex Marriage, The Onion, Tolerance
Daniel DiRito | January 30, 2008 | 3:06 PM |
| Comments (0)
I have no particular axe to grind with Andrew Sullivan... except for noting the inconsistencies in the many axes he grinds ad nauseam. His latest obsession is Bill and Hillary Clinton (of course focused on Hillary's presidential aspirations).
Frankly, given his persistent efforts to negatively link Hillary to every "ism" he's ever pondered, it's hard too imagine that he hasn't ground his axe down to a rudimentary toothpick with which to extract the last shard of evidence...from her teeth...for his relentless indictment.
Suffice it to say that in this latest instance, Sullivan has fast become the epitome of "The lady doth protest too much"...and my apologies to good ladies everywhere. Sullivan now argues, by virtue of quoting the following from Faye Wattleton (transcribed by a reader and sent to him) who observed her appearance on Hardball with Chris Mathews (think mainstream media misogynist).
Chris Matthews: Faye, you first, you know Hillary Clinton, you know Bill Clinton. What's Bill's role in this thing, is it a good role or a bad role?
Faye Wattleton: Well, I think that Bill Clinton's role is that of the spouses of all the candidates, he's participating as a surrogate for his wife who is running. And I think that its entirely consistent with the ascension of other women to the top offices in their country; they come about it as the result of the president being their spouse or being members of prominent families. So I don't think that we should be so upset and agitated about Mr. Clinton's participation - we should continue to focus on the issues that the people want to hear about...these other matters are really side issues.
From these remarks, Sullivan intuits that the Clinton's are comfortable to conflate nepotism and feminism in order to achieve their objectives...thereby corrupting feminism and "everything they touch". So let me summarize the trajectory of Andrew's conclusion...one of Andrew's readers sends him a transcription of
Faye Wattleton's comments on Hardball and he agrees with it such that it proves the Clinton's have corrupted feminism? Well there you have it...case closed.
Regardless of one's opinion on the Clinton's and Hillary's aspirations, Sullivan's argument is the equivalent of entering a vacuous room that has been hermetically sealed and is devoid of any light...with a camera that lacks a flash mechanism...in order to take the quintessential picture of darkness. Unless random chance results in his capturing the definitive number of angels able to dance on the head of a pin, I'm similarly at a loss to recognize the Earth shattering nature of Sullivan's latest Clintonian hypothesis.
To my knowledge, Hillary Clinton is not only the first woman candidate with a chance to win the presidency; she is also the first spouse of a prior president to seek the office. Concluding that her candidacy must be a willful act, by the Clinton's, to conflate nepotism and feminism...and thus corrupt feminism...in order to win...is simply painting the unprecedented as presciently predictable. The fact that a president's legacy is rarely static suggests that asserting an understanding of this novel event is undoubtedly unbridled arrogance.
Yes, the Clinton candidacy turns political convention on its head...but concluding this candidacy is more lacking in ideological purity...or more willing to defile the grand order of "isms"...than those that have preceded it could just as easily be interpreted as a misogynistic projection intended to assure the status quo. At the very least, Newton's notion that for every action (force), there is an equal and opposite reaction (opposing force) seems an appropriate consideration.
Clearly the Clinton's are ambitious...and likely to a fault. However, they aren't the first political family to exhibit as much. They're not even the first political cabal willing to exploit the advantages they perceive to be available. I suspect we have an example of one in the White House at this very moment. Yes, the Clinton candidacy is unique in its structure...but it isn't unique in its execution. Looking to view the efforts of the Clinton's as a unique aberration or a full-scale deviation from established politicking is to ignore history.
Attempting to attach pejorative narratives in order to defeat them is nothing new either...and those who seek to paint the Clinton strategy as particularly distasteful are nonetheless politically motivated.
Sullivan's vast body of words betrays his effort to portray the Clinton's as unacceptable outliers. His frequent protestations with the narrow mindedness of the Catholic Church and his incessant lamentations on the state of conservatism demonstrate his own willingness to champion efforts to undo years of status quo while still remaining a card carrying conscript.
Are his efforts a corruption of those "isms" or merely the acts of an individual who hopes to alter them? Couldn't the established arbiters of the Catholic Church and the GOP establishment view Sullivan's actions to be the equivalent of the Clinton's? One can easily make the argument that his actions are intended to undermine their long-established order and their theoretical tenets.
Sullivan's efforts to reshape Catholicism to accept homosexuality can just as easily be viewed as an attempt to corrupt it. The same can be stated with regards to his displeasure with the current iteration of GOP conservatism. He may not believe that social issues should dominate the Republican landscape, but those who imagine themselves to be the party's purist guardians would no doubt beg to differ. Wouldn't both groups be justified in assailing Sullivan's "perversion" of both?
The presumption that feminism can be narrowly defined...or that it has been what it always was and will be what its always been is merely an attempt to erect an argument to further "sully" the Clinton's.
Sullivan contends he is a feminist. He also argues that he is a conservative and a Catholic. The truth of the matter is that he is these things...but clearly only to the extent that he defines them.
Sullivan is entitled to support the candidate of his choice. However, his ongoing efforts to disguise his justification as an adherence to ideological purity, is simply superficial subterfuge.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Andrew Sullivan, Bill Clinton, Catholicism, Chris Matthews, Conservatism, Faye Wattleton, Feminism, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Ideology, Misogyny, Nepotism, Politics
Daniel DiRito | January 26, 2008 | 4:12 PM |
| Comments (3)
Every now and then fiction and reality seem to merge. The following video suggests we're witnessing just that with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. The premise is that Hillary's efforts to win the 2008 presidential election are reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon's hard work as Tracy Flick in the 1999 movie, Election.
It remains to be seen if the outcome will be the same. Feel free to share your opinion.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Election, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Movie, Reese Witherspoon
Daniel DiRito | January 24, 2008 | 4:52 PM |
| Comments (0)
Rick Majerus has been a college basketball coach for many years and he currently works for St. Louis University, a Catholic University under the auspices of the Jesuits. Majerus has always been a colorful figure but one wouldn't expect his off the cuff comments to a news reporter at a Hillary Clinton rally to be the reason the coach finds himself in hot water.
Enter Archbishop Raymond Burke and the typically heavy hand of the Catholic Church. Majerus is being assailed by Burke for voicing his support for a woman's right to choose as well as favoring embryonic stem cell research. You can see video of his comments here.
Clearly, Majerus wasn't at the rally representing the University and it's obvious he didn't seek out a reporter to voice his opinions. Regardless, the Archbishop believes Majerus should be disciplined for his breech of Catholic doctrine. Burke is no stranger to asserting his reach. During the 2004 election, he took it upon himself to state that he would deny John Kerry Holy Communion.
From Catholic News Agency:
Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke, speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper before the March for Life in Washington, D.C. strongly criticized the coach's statements.
"It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic Church."
Archbishop Burke said the coach should be disciplined, saying, "I'm confident [the university] will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question that identity and mission of the Catholic Church."
The archbishop was concerned the coach's statements would cause scandal, defined in the Catholic catechism as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil."
Some St. Louis University faculty members were not happy with the archbishop's remarks.
"If SLU wants to have a policy of, 'you have to be Catholic and believe the Catholic way,' SLU wouldn't exist," Laura Willingham, research assistant in SLU's School of Medicine, said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Should [Majerus] have said it publicly? There's freedom of speech."
Jeff Fowler, a spokesman for the university, emphasized the coach was speaking in a private capacity.
"Rick's comments were his own personal view," he said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative. It was his own personal visit to the rally."
Archbishop Burke has no direct control over St. Louis University. The Jesuit-founded university itself is nominally Catholic, but a 2007 Supreme Court decision ruled that the school "is not controlled by a religious creed,? making the school's new arena eligible for $80 million in public funding. In the Supreme Court brief, the school's lawyers said the university is not controlled or owned by the Society of Jesus and does not require employees or students "to aspire to Jesuit ideals, to be Catholic or to otherwise have any specific religious affiliation."
Less than 35 of the 1,275 St. Louis University faculty and staff are Jesuits, and fewer than half of the students are Catholic.
So in reality, the Archbishop decided to inject himself into the situation despite the fact that he has no actual authority over the school. Note the Archbishop's definition of "scandal". Apparently the Catholic Church believes that it is more important to focus on the personal opinions and statements of an employee (because it might lead others to do evil) than to acknowledge and atone for decades of sexual abuse upon innocent children by members of their own clergy.
Nothing like a super-sized serving of hypocrisy. Perhaps I simply don't understand the meaning of evil? Then again, the storied history of the Catholic Church is littered with similar inconsistencies. The one prevailing constant has been their insistence that the focus of their moral compass always point outward. In my many years of contact with Catholic clergy, I've always been taken aback by their belief that simply being part of the clergy connotes absolute authority and moral supremacy. Unfortunately, that is a fully flawed construct given their own immoral legacy.
Granted, I respect their right to their beliefs and their right to freely express them. However, their long-established efforts to stifle the same in others simply demonstrates their propensity to trample the rights of those who disagree. I'm even content to accept their right to condemn others (declare them to be sinners) who do not uphold Church doctrine...so long as those condemnations don't abridge the rights granted to those individuals by the government.
Sadly, zealots are rarely satisfied to be the masters of their own domain; instead they seek to enslave all of humanity within the confines of their dominion. Irreverent as this may be, I think the Catholic Church would do well to respect the personal space of others and keep their meandering mittens to themselves. God knows the millions of dollars (and they do like money) they would have saved had they only demonstrated the decency to do so in the past.
Tagged as: Abortion, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Catholic Church, Child Molestation, Dogma, Embryonic Stem Cells, Hypocrisy, Pro-Choice, Rick Majerus, Saint Louis University
Daniel DiRito | January 24, 2008 | 1:32 PM |
| Comments (1)
Lewis Black takes creationism to task with his typically dry wit. He goes on to share his thoughts on the assertion that fossils are "The Devil's Handiwork", those who think the Flintstones was a documentary, and how God transformed from his angry days in the Old Testament to his kinder, gentler self in the New Testament.
Tagged as: Creationism, Flintstones, Fossils, Humor, Judaism, Lewis Black, New Testament, Old Testament
Daniel DiRito | January 24, 2008 | 12:23 PM |
| Comments (0)
Sadly, we never know for sure when death will arrive...some of us live well into our old age having traveled far and wide...some of us depart in the middle of the journey...some of us are still undecided about which journey to take. It's doubtful we'll ever know for sure where Heath Ledger stood on that continuum.
We're left to hope the time he spent here was deliberate and meaningful...we're left to imagine our own alternate endings...but we're also lucky to have had the opportunity to observe the trajectory of his emerging career. Fortunately, as we each take a moment to visualize our preferred final scene for his life's script, we have a rich blueprint to build upon.
I posted the following video shortly after the release of Brokeback Mountain. This video is a compilation of scenes from Brokeback Mountain set to the James Blunt song "Goodbye My Lover", one of the best songs (IMO) off of his CD Back To Bedlam. It seems a fitting tribute.
Tagged as: Brokeback Mountain, Death, Goodbye My Lover, Heath Ledger, James Blunt
Daniel DiRito | January 23, 2008 | 7:11 PM |
| Comments (0)
I'm not exactly sure what prompted Al Gore to post a video in which he expresses his support for gay marriage...but what the hey...good job Al.
I've often wondered why politicians are so much more forthcoming and appealing when they are no longer seeking public office. Time and again, former politicians demonstrate a candor and reasonability that was never allowed to surface while serving as an elected official.
Just once I would like to see a candidate run for office without the typical parsing of the issues in order to appeal to more voters. Perhaps they couldn't win, but I think the unbridled honesty would overcome many of their policy differences with the voting public. Let's face it, most of the politicians we elect don't keep the promises they make anyway. At least we would know who we're choosing and that they actually put their principles ahead of political gain. Fat chance that's going to happen.
Tagged as: Al Gore, Campaign Promises, Gay Marriage, Homophobia, LGBT, Politics
Daniel DiRito | January 23, 2008 | 2:54 PM |
| Comments (0)
Should there be any doubt that Fred Phelps and his clan are "religious" lunatics, the following is the Westboro Baptist Church press release on the death of actor, Heath Ledger. This is clearly another example of their atrocious attacks on innocent individuals and their grieving families.
I wonder how much money they spend traveling the country to attend the funerals of U.S. soldiers and others they deem "worthy" of their disgusting protests. Perhaps in their zeal to pass God's judgment, they are actually setting themselves up for the very same. Here's the point. Wouldn't all of that money be better spent helping those in need? Talk about a corruption of Christian values.
Tagged as: Bigotry, Christianity, Fred Phelps, Heath Ledger, Homophobia, Kansas, LGBT, Religious Extremism, Shirley Phelps, Topeka, U.S. Military, Westboro Baptist Church
Daniel DiRito | January 23, 2008 | 1:22 PM |
| Comments (5)
I've been stewing on last evening’s debate for the better part of the day. Generally speaking, I found it to be rather disquieting. It took me until this evening to discern the source of my anxiety...and my belief that it was little more than a quid pro quo demonstration of status quo politicking. My first instinct was to be angry with the candidates...and then I began to reconsider. That would have been the easy conclusion...but it would have also been an exercise in self-deception.
I'll now attempt a reasoned explanation of my newfound hypothesis; that being that despite reading and listening to the many protestations that Senators Clinton and Obama engaged in petty bickering...and the fact that they did...both candidates simply provided the stick that most voters are seeking with which to unleash their own particular bias...upon the candidate they oppose...regardless of the actual facts.
Think about it for a moment. Logic should tell us that candidates engage in such tactics because they have been proven to be effective. Therefore, logic should also tell us that they are effective because it is what we the voters accept, want, and expect. Here's the thing. As the election process unfolds and we each select the candidate we prefer, we then pivot in search of the means to discredit the candidates we reject.
So what does that mean with regards to my hypothesis? Two things. One, we select for the truth we prefer; not the truth we ascertain or uncover. Two, once a candidate speaks the truth we prefer, we're willing to accept untruths about the other candidates in order to bolster our own biased beliefs.
Hence, as with Pavlov's dogs, our actions train candidates to perform the deeds and actions that result in the positive rewards they seek...our votes. Here's how it works. Over time, voters make known to candidates their beliefs and expectations which is then transformed into a subtle but certain acquiescing to the assaults upon the enemy in order to obtain the power that we believe will allow us to reinforce (legislate) our shared beliefs. In the end, this process succeeds in conditioning politicians to launch the spurious attacks upon their opponents in order to receive the primary benefit they desire...an Election Day victory.
Here's the disconnect. Pavlov's dogs began to salivate at the sound of a bell once it was linked with being fed. Politicians also begin to link negative campaigns with Election Day votes. Once this happens, the quest for satiation on the part of the candidate and the voter (victory for the candidate and power for the voter) sets aside what ought to be the ongoing prioritization of truth. Thus the affirmation of our shared truth (the goal)...the truths (beliefs) we prefer...the truths (or lack thereof) that achieves the goal (reward) we seek...becomes the acceptable and/or preferred stimulus-response construct.
Once this model is cemented into the collective psyche, winning is the objective and the pursuit of truth...a truth that is just...not just the truth we like...is no longer the relevant priority. Our own particular bias becomes the driving force and all actions are viewed through this skewed prism...including a willingness to discount the truths of the opponent and to accept the attachment of untruths to the enemy if they have the potential to succeed in sullying and defeating that enemy. Simultaneously, we're outraged at the similar tactics of the opposition...though fully in denial as to the inevitable tit-for-tat reality.
Looking specifically at last evening’s debate, we begin to see the pull of this deeply ingrained construct. Let's assume Obama had intended to conduct the campaign he initially outlined...one that focused upon bringing unity...or at the very least a shared respect for the truth we can mutually agree upon as opposed to the truth we can impose. However, following his losses in New Hampshire and Nevada...coupled with indications the Clinton attacks may be resonating with voters...he is forced to reconsider.
I believe he feels forced to do this because the strategy he has employed seems to be failing to overcome the established expectations. In essence, the long-standing stimulus-reward conditioning prevents voters from properly attributing his actions. His hesitation, or refusal to participate in the process as it is designed, leads voters to conclude his truths mustn't be valid or, at the very least, his convictions about his beliefs aren't all that strong (see also Fred Thompson). The problem is that the prevailing mind set posits that all parties share the same goal and those unwilling to do what it takes to achieve those goals must lack the conviction (or the truth) to do what is necessary to win the reward (the power to impose that truth).
I suspect Obama's original strategy was premised upon the notion that the truth he would support when elected would first be as much of the truth as he had already espoused...but it wouldn't stop there. He believed he would also endeavor to get more or most voters to coalesce around a shared truth. Unfortunately, in the existing stimulus-reward system, that proposed outcome would often seem insufficient to the highly conditioned voter. It feels like the glass would be half-empty rather than half-full...and that is apt to fall short of satisfactory.
This results in what we saw last night...a skirmish fully adorned with the trappings that have become all too familiar...and by and large...demanded by the voters.
In the end, Obama has presumably realized the need to engage the negativity despite his dislike for such a system. The open question is whether he can muster the motivation to participate in the existing dynamic in order to win the opportunity to change it...assuming I've ascertained his actual goal. It's possible his objective is no different than that of his opponents and that he has, to this point, simply attempted a novel strategy.
Regardless, as long as the public's objective remains the attainment of the power necessary to implement our own coalitions (tribe) selective truths, the execution and the outcome of our political process will remain the same. We can continue to feign our disgust at what transpires while signaling our acceptance...or we can begin to abridge our bias and forego the fabrications and falsifications we have institutionalized in favor of a rational and reasoned reality.
Until such time as we make that choice, we'll continue our self-sustaining system of salivating each and every time someone succeeds in repackaging the same old rancid red meat. I'm of the opinion that we need to end our dogged dependence on this tired old trick.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Campaigns, Conditioning, Elections, Fred Thompson, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Nevada Caucus, New Hampshire Primary, Pavlov's Dogs, Politics, South Carolina Debate, South Carolina Primary
Daniel DiRito | January 22, 2008 | 7:49 PM |
| Comments (0)
In light of last evenings slugfest, I thought this game might be in order. Have fun.
Tagged as: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani
Daniel DiRito | January 22, 2008 | 2:52 PM |
| Comments (0)
Suzanne Pleshette died at her home in Los Angeles on Saturday at the age of 70. The actress was scheduled to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a matter of days.
Pleshette saw herself as an actress and not as a star and that clearly afforded her a long and productive career. She is best known for playing Emily Hartley, the TV wife of Bob Newhart, but she also appeared on Broadway and in numerous movies including The Birds and Rome Adventure.
With the passing of people I've known, there is always one prevailing trait that is seared in my memory. Sometimes it's a laugh or a look or a frequent mannerism. With Pleshette, I suspect her smoky voice will serve as that notable characteristic.
Anyone interested in an in-depth look at Pleshette should check out her interview at the Archive of American Television at the following link:
Archive of American Television
Tagged as: Archive of American Television, Emily Hartley, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rome Adventure, Suzanne Pleshette, The Birds, The Bob Newhart Show
Daniel DiRito | January 20, 2008 | 10:16 PM |
| Comments (0)
An interesting and potentially problematic phenomenon is emerging in the process to select a Democratic candidate for the presidency…as well as our next president. A preview of the issue began with anecdotal televised images from a caucus room on...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, African Americans, Barack Obama, Culinary Workers Union, Democracy, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Hispanics, Las Vegas, Nevada Caucus, Partisanship, Poverty, Racism
Daniel DiRito | January 20, 2008 | 1:55 PM |
| Comments (0)
Samantha Bee wants to know why Congress thinks it's fair to require lobbyists to forego hiring surrogates to stand in line for them in order to assure them a seat in upcoming congressional hearings. Bee heads to Congress to...
Tagged as: Congress, Dennis Kucinich, Humor, Jon Stewart, Lobbyist, Samantha Bee, The Daily Show, Washington DC
Daniel DiRito | January 18, 2008 | 12:39 PM |
| Comments (0)
I want to see Mitt Romney's dictionary. Given his frequent reliance on third tier definitions to justify his many inaccurate remarks, it has to be awfully ragged. In the following video, reporter Glen Johnson confronts Romney on his assertion...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Campaign Finance, Glen Johnson, Humor, Jon Lovitz, Lobbyists, Mitt Romney, Ron Kaufman, SNL, The Pathological Liar
Daniel DiRito | January 17, 2008 | 6:35 PM |
| Comments (1)
The more time I spend watching and listening to Mike Huckabee, the more I'm reminded of George W. Bush prior to his election in 2000. Huckabee, like Bush, presents himself as an affable character with a penchant for making simplistic...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Amnesty, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Homophobia, Immigration, LGBT, Marriage Amendment, Mary Cheney, Mexicans, Mike Huckabee, Racism, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | January 17, 2008 | 10:48 AM |
| Comments (0)
We may not be officially in the throes of a recession, but there is sufficient data to understand why voters are focusing their attention on the economy. While economics is thought to be a function of mathematical equations, the evidence...
Tagged as: Alan Greenspan, Consumer Confidence, Economics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, GOP, Home Equity, Housing, Inflation, Interest Rates, Middle Class, Recession, Subprime Lending, Tax Cuts, Wealth Consolidation
Daniel DiRito | January 16, 2008 | 4:58 PM |
| Comments (0)
Never let it be said that George Bush lacks a comprehensive energy policy. The President ended his Middle East tour by "asking" (think pretty please) Saudi Arabia to increase OPEC's oil production to lessen the impact of energy costs...
Tagged as: Dusty Springfield, Energy Policy, Energy Shortage, George W. Bush, Humor, Iraq, King Abdullah, Martha Reeves, Middle East, Oil, Opec, Saudi Arabia
Daniel DiRito | January 16, 2008 | 12:15 PM |
| Comments (1)
Any doubt that Mike Huckabee is the dream candidate for most evangelicals can be dispelled by watching the following video. In the span of 30 seconds, the former Baptist minister makes his clear argument for a theocracy. Nothing like...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Biblical Law, Compassionate Conservatism, Crusades, Evangelical, Islam, Mike Huckabee, Qur'an, Religion, Religious Intolerance, Separation of Church & State, South Carolina Primary, Theocracy, U.S. Constitution
Daniel DiRito | January 15, 2008 | 2:00 PM |
| Comments (2)
Those opposed to an overhaul of the U.S. health care system frequently tout it as the best health care in the world. However, while there are many positive aspects to our health care system, more and more deficiencies have...
Tagged as: Dr. Andrew Wilper, Dr. Art Kellermann, Emergency Room Care, Harvard Medical School, Health Care, Health Insurance, Indigent Care, Poverty, Preventative Medicine, Uninsured, Universal Health Care, Wellness
Daniel DiRito | January 15, 2008 | 11:15 AM |
| Comments (1)
Rudy Giuliani, in an apparent effort to assert his relevance in the Republican presidential primary, has introduced a new ad in Florida (see below) in which he touts his tax cutting prowess and promises to propose trillions of dollars...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Corporate Welfare, Deficit Spending, Globalization, GOP, Jobs, Outsourcing, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina Debate, Supplu Side Economics, Tax Cuts, Tax Loopholes, Tax Rates, Trickle Down
Daniel DiRito | January 11, 2008 | 12:09 PM |
| Comments (0)
Another installment of Mo Rocca 180. In this man-on-the-street report, Mo posits the question of whether Mitt Romney should use his alleged full name, "Mittens" or continue to use the shortened version Mitt. To spice things up a bit,...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Humor, Mitt Romney, Mo Rocca 180, Shel Silverstein, The Irish Rovers, The Unicorn Song
Daniel DiRito | January 11, 2008 | 9:43 AM |
| Comments (2)
Can You Lift Someone Up If You Just Put Them Down?...
Daniel DiRito | January 10, 2008 | 7:26 PM |
| Comments (0)
I find it difficult to watch and read any further coverage on the validity or sincerity of Senator Clinton's verklempt moment in a diner in New Hampshire. Frankly, the time and energy being spent on the subject is a...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Britney Spears, Campaign, Chris Matthews, Hillary Clinton, Joan Baez, John Edwards, Maureen Dowd, Media, MSM, New Hampshire, Propaganda Catapulting, Pundits
Daniel DiRito | January 10, 2008 | 3:43 PM |
| Comments (0)
UPDATE: Hillary Clinton is the projected winner of the New Hampshire primary. Original Posting: I'm absolutely fascinated by the fact that the New Hampshire Democratic race remains too close to call. Just when I wanted to conclude that people...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Chauvinism, Democrats, Gender Bias, Hillary Clinton, Media Bias, Misogyny, New Hampshire Primary, Propaganda Catapulting
Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 7:39 PM |
| Comments (0)
It doesn't happen often, but every now and again I find myself exasperated by what I read in a newspaper or on the Internet. Today I came across one such item. Apparently a conservative pastor in Redmond, Washington, the...
Tagged as: Bill Gates, Christianity, ENDA, Equal Rights, Evangelicals, God, Health Care, LGBT, Microsoft, Poverty, Redmond, Religion, Religious Extremism, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, Same-Sex Marriage, Washington
Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 3:01 PM |
| Comments (1)
During this election cycle we've often heard politicians argue that the United States has the best health care system in the world. Unfortunately, there are problems with how this assertion should be measured and a new report suggests that...
Tagged as: Charlie Gibson, Compassionate Conservatism, George Bush, GOP, Health Care, Health Insurance, Indigent Care, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, New Hampshire Republican Debate, Poverty, Preventative Medicine, Rudy Giuliani, Uninsured, Wellness
Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 9:25 AM |
| Comments (4)
It looks like Chris Crocker and Britney Spears are karmically connected in some bizarre way. Most likely it stems from Chris's obsession with all things Britney. I doubt the timing of Chris's latest video (a "cover" of Britney's song...
Tagged as: Britney Spears, Chris Crocker, Humor, Piece Of Me
Daniel DiRito | January 7, 2008 | 11:31 PM |
| Comments (0)
I rarely read The Drudge Report but his posting that the Clinton campaign is considering when she should withdraw from the race for the Democratic nomination caught my attention. I guess I'm wondering how the media's inevitable winner for...
Tagged as: Alberto Gonzales, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, Chelsea Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Dennis Kucinich, Dick Cheney, Dr. Phil, Hillary Clinton, Humor, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Monica Lewinsky, Oprah, Rudy Giuliani
Daniel DiRito | January 7, 2008 | 6:38 PM |
| Comments (2)
While surfing the internet, I noticed there was a debate underway as to whether a particular segment of Hillary Clinton's debate performance (see video clip below) was a "meltdown", a display of "shrill anger", or any other iteration intended to...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, ABC, Bullying, Chauvinism, Hillary Clinton, Jake Tapper, Misogyny, New Hampshire Debate, Political Punch, Sarcasm
Daniel DiRito | January 6, 2008 | 9:28 PM |
| Comments (1)
Having read numerous internet postings on the Iowa primary, last evenings New Hampshire debate, and the comment thread in Steven Reynolds posting at All Spin Zone titled “Hillary Clinton, You’re Better Than This", I decided to share my thoughts...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, All Spin Zone, Barack Obama, Democrats, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Primary, John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Steven Reynolds
Daniel DiRito | January 6, 2008 | 6:54 PM |
| Comments (0)
There are countless reasons why I wouldn't vote for Mike Huckabee. At the same time, I find myself in the strange position to admire the fact that he, more than his manipulative Republican predecessors, is a candidate committed to...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abstinence Only, Church & State, Evangelical, George Bush, GOP, Janet Jackson, Karl Rove, LGBT, Mike Huckabee, Religion, Religious Right, Republican Elitism, Terri Schiavo
Daniel DiRito | January 5, 2008 | 12:07 PM |
| Comments (0)
I personally feel that Obama is electable...though I don’t disagree that a small portion of the electorate won’t vote for him based upon hidden racism that will only be exposed in the ballot box. That said, I think the...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democrats, Evangelicals, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Primary, John Edwards, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani
Daniel DiRito | January 4, 2008 | 3:57 PM |
| Comments (0)
When the Bush administration first responded to concerns that the economy was on the verge of recession, they were quick to point to the stable unemployment figures and steady job growth. Well, as with most of what comes out...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Budget Deficit, Economy, GDP, George Bush, GOP, Job Growth, National Debt, Recession, Sub-Prime Lending, Tax Cuts, Trickle-Down, Unemployment
Daniel DiRito | January 4, 2008 | 10:50 AM |
| Comments (1)
Favor who you will for the presidency in 2008...but the speech Barack Obama gave tonight following his victory in the Iowa Democratic primary will no doubt be noted as memorable and significant. Should he go on to win the...
Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Democratic Nomination, Iowa Primary
Daniel DiRito | January 3, 2008 | 11:23 PM |
| Comments (1)
Given my own level of ambivalence at this particular juncture in the Presidential campaign (aside from supporting the eventual Democratic nominee), I decided to offer my own commentary on the Iowa primary in pictures. Feel free to offer your...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Gone With The Wind, Hair, Hillary Clinton, IHOP, Iowa Primary, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Oprah Winfrey, Piano Legs, Prince, Rudy Giuliani, Super Bowl
Daniel DiRito | January 3, 2008 | 5:01 PM |
| Comments (0)