March 2008 Archives
In the aftermath of my sisters serious illness this past week, I couldn't help but share my contemplations on life's strange relationship with death. While we often do our best to avoid the subject, it consistently finds the means to inject itself into our consciousness. As she continues to recover, those of us who know and love her are forced to confront our fears.
For most of us, life is an orderly procession towards death. When we're young, death is barely a blip on our radar...and one that we're able to ignore with ease. During our youth, the world seems limitless and time is bountiful. Each day is an adventure with potential and the promises of the future appear to be endless.
As the years pass, the distant drum of death grows more pronounced. Like a surreptitious riff in each song of life, eventually death demands its due and it becomes increasingly unlikely that we can deny its presence. Sometimes it's the untimely death or the unexpected illness of a loved one or a family friend that awakens us to the fragility of life and the indiscriminate nature of dying. Whatever it may be, our introduction to immortality opens a door that can never again be closed.
For some of us, death walks nearby on a daily basis. In fact, for the gay community, even the most basic of acts has become an untoward dance with death. From the moment a gay teenager imagines his first romance, he must also ponder its potential to shorten his life. We are a community that is denied the opportunity to become brides and grooms, yet we live life forever wed to the possibility that a demonstration of love may set the stage for the final act.
Giving oneself to another has always contained an element of vulnerability. However, when catching the love bug has the potential to be accompanied by an infectious interloper, this innocent act of vulnerability is suddenly transformed into a calculation of calamitous consequences. Though passion is an inevitability; vigilance becomes a necessity. Hence, the pleasure of intimacy can be forever shadowed by the fear of fatality.
HIV isn't exclusive to the gay community, but it is an undeniable adjunct. Every parent of a gay son is torn between their hopes for his happiness and their desire to postpone his pursuit of it. In that difficult dichotomy, one could easily conclude that the risks outweigh the rewards and that the lives of gays are forever filled with trepidation. That would be a reasonable assumption...but it would also be wrong.
In fact, it is in witnessing the loss of those who chose to live life large...in spite of the obstacle of AIDS...that has given the gay community much of its resolve and its resiliency. Truth be told, what unites my memories of those I have lost to HIV was their unflinching desire to live. For each of them, life was not measured in years. Instead, their lives were never allowed to be overshadowed by the fear of death. They knew that all lives end in death...and they rejected the deception that believes one can be enriched by purchasing more years at the expense of less living. The richness of the memories they left behind affirms both the quantity and the quality of the living they did.
In that knowledge, my own view of life has been forever altered. While illness and death still give me pause; I refuse to let them dictate life. Death is not negotiable and attempts to barter with it are far more beguiling than beneficial. Death is undoubtedly an endpoint but it needn't be a constantly constricting continuum. Death may be our final visitor but we mustn't feed it by granting it a place at the table of life. Death will kill us but it needn't prevent us from feasting on life. Death is final; it needn't be preceded by famine.
When life is at risk of being overcome by death, we can cease living in order to watch the monitor...hoping for the slightest of movements to assure us that we still reside in the here and now...or we can turn away from the monitor and place our trust in the heart that has sustained us during our darkest of hours. The former adds a flawed footnote; the latter an exclamation mark.
I accept that death will ultimately prevail...but I refuse to let it dictate that the ending must be a slowly measured fade to black. If life is like theater, I prefer to be an actor on the bright and colorful stage of life...in full regalia...when the final act goes dark with the sudden flip of a switch.
When that moment arrives, I'll stop and silently thank my many mentors for teaching me the merits of living...and for the guidance to make a gracious exit.
Tagged as: Death, Dying, HIV, Illness, LGBT, Life
Daniel DiRito | March 29, 2008 | 11:04 PM |
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This Boy's In Love is the latest single from Apocalypso, the second album of The Presets. The two man band hails from Sydney and the duo released their first album, Beams, in 2005.
The vocals, particularly on this song, remind me of Peter Murphy...with an added measure of Howard Jones. The sound of this song is definitely reminiscent of the 80's though some of their offerings have a distinct punk flavor as well as hints of disco.
The duo cite Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Trans Am, and The Pet Shop Boys as influences on their music. Their high energy style shouts dance music though it's hard to lock in on a distinct genre. Perhaps that's what makes them so refreshing.
Their MySpace page can be found here.
The music video follows as does a dance remix.
Tagged as: Apocalypso, Beams, Music, Sydney, The Presets, This Boy's In Love
Daniel DiRito | March 29, 2008 | 3:09 PM |
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If you've seen the advertising promo for the new ultra-thin notebook computer, the MacBook Air, you should enjoy the following spoof of the recently released Mac commercial.
The only thing missing from this "Super Envelope" is a few of Dell's infamous technical support technicians. Then again, why put them in the envelope if they serve no benefit, eh?
Tagged as: Computer Technology, Dell, Humor, MacBook Air, Macintosh, Super Envelope
Daniel DiRito | March 29, 2008 | 12:15 PM |
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Bill's take on high gas prices by adding an "X" to Exxon...and the outcome means someone is bound to get screwed. Maher assails those who criticize Jessica Alba for not being bilingual...though that doesn't mean he's opposed to her being "Bi".
He goes on to ridicule college drinking games that have abandoned the use of beer in favor of root beer, Yoko Ono for her insistence that she knows what John Lennon would have wanted, the trend of Democratic politicians to grow beards following failed election bids, and Tampa Bay school teachers who seem to be predisposed to trysts with their students.
He closes by comparing Bill Clinton to a farm implement...one that involves seed planting...but not the kind that is found on an interns blue dress.
Tagged as: Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Bill Maher, Bill Richardson, Exxon, Gas Prices, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Jessica Alba, John Lennon, Monica Lewinsky, Mormons, New Rules, Taco Bell, Tampa Bay, Yoko Ono
Daniel DiRito | March 29, 2008 | 10:21 AM |
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The following video is a an ABC News segment that demonstrates the degree to which creationist fanatics will go to promote their Biblical beliefs...regardless of the utter lack of scientific evidence.
In Denver, a group is offering tours of the Museum of Nature & Science to the children of parents who believe that the earth is 6,000 years old and that evolution is a false theory. As the tour guides travel through the Museum, they offer their unfounded interpretations of the exhibits in an effort to support Biblical indoctrination.
When confronted by the reporter on the lack of evidence that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth at the same time, the tour guides admit that it is a problem. However, it isn't enough of a problem to cease disseminating false information. As noted in the report, the parents of these children aren't interested in facts. The guides get paid and mom and dad are able to falsely legitimize their beliefs to their children.
Take particular note of the young girl at 1:35 into the video. It is abundantly obvious that she has been coached by her parents and her religious mentors to be assertive in ridiculing science. It's a tactic that seeks to capitalize on the benefits of peer pressure and I suspect it is an essential element of religious homeschooling. The manner in which this young girl attacks evolution is clearly the result of intense training that seeks to give her the confidence to withstand the facts she will encounter which may undermine her Biblical beliefs.
In my opinion, the goal of these parents is to sear these beliefs so deeply into the psyche of their children that scientific evidence can be discounted without consideration. The fact that the tour guides have chosen to capitalize on the ideological intransigence of these parents is disgusting. It is also further evidence that the actions of many religious fanatics are steeped in deception and dishonesty. So much for facts and family values.
By the way, the video closes with a clip from The Family Guy on the absurdity of creationist mumbo jumbo.
Tagged as: Bible, Creationism, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Evolution, Fanaticism, Religion
Daniel DiRito | March 27, 2008 | 10:33 AM |
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After writing the prior posting on Easter Sunday, I received a call that my sister was in the emergency room and had been diagnosed with severe pneumonia, organ stress, and sepsis. Needless to say, I have spent most of my time at the hospital since receiving that call. The good news is that it appears she is finally making some progress though it was rather scary for the last three days. It's hard to imagine that someone in great health can suddenly be so sick.
I'm hoping to be back on a more normal schedule the remainder of the week...so long as she continues to improve. I've been completely out of touch with world events so I'll have to get busy reading to get myself back up to speed. Needless to say, from what I've seen this morning, little has changed.
Anyway, my apologies for my absence and my thanks to those who frequent Thought Theater. It's always a pleasure to hear from readers and to have the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue. I remain amazed at the power of the internet and the ability it provides for us to connect with others around the world.
Lastly, while none of us want to endure the travails of illness and loss, such events provide perspective and remind us just how important it is to fight for those we love. All too often we get lost in the push and pull of daily life...allowing ourselves to take for granted those who mean the most.
Tagged as: apology, illness, priorities
Daniel DiRito | March 26, 2008 | 3:14 PM |
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Since I don't like holidays, it seemed appropriate to use Easter Sunday as an opportunity to offer a contrarian's contemplation...as well as a sarcastic graphic. I often write about the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and the Bush administration's efforts to skirt the issues of torture and civil liberties, so linking the two seemed to be a marriage made in heaven...between a man and a woman of course.
Two items in the news provided added inspiration. The first was the Pope's baptism of Muslim journalist, Magdi Allam. I don't begrudge Allam's conversion...but I don't see the wisdom of making it a focal point of the Pope's Easter Vigil. In these times of tension between people of faith, this high profile baptism seems to be the equivalent of throwing salt on a wound...or perhaps vinegar would be more appropriate given the imagery of Easter.
From The Times Online:
Pope Benedict XVI has risked a renewed rift with the Muslim world by baptising a converted Muslim born journalist who describes Islam as intrinsically violent and characterised by "hate and intolerance" rather than "love and respect for others".
In a surprise move at the Easter vigil at St Peter's on Saturday night, the Pope baptised Magdi Allam, 55, an outspoken Egyptian-born critic of Islamic extremism and supporter of Israel, who has been under police protection for five years following death threats against him over his criticism of suicide bombings.
Mr Allam's conversion was kept secret until less than an hour before the service. He took the middle name "Christian" for his baptism. The Vatican said: "For the Catholic Church, each person who asks to receive baptism after a deep personal search, a fully free choice and adequate preparation, has a right to receive it."
In a combative article for Corriere della Sera, the Italian paper of which he is a deputy editor, Mr Allam - who has lived in Italy most of his adult life and has a Catholic wife - said his soul had been "liberated from the obscurantism of an ideology which legitimises lies and dissimulation, violent death, which induces both murder and suicide, and blind submission to tyranny".
Instead he had "seen the light" and joined "the authentic religion of Truth, Life and Liberty". He added: "Beyond the phenomenon of extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent in a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam."
It's difficult to separate the Pope from the confrontational words written by Allam and I suspect most Muslims will view this very public baptism as an affront to their faith. I'm always amazed at the need people of faith have to assert that only those of their denomination have a kinship with the true God. History is filled with wars designed to hammer home that point. Nothing like an old fashioned crusade...or a jihad...or an intifada to demonstrate one's kinship with God. I don't know the Pope's true motivations in this matter, but it's hard to imagine this as an act of conciliation.
The second item involves the President's Easter message. Take a look at the following excerpts.
From Fox News:
America is blessed with the world's greatest military, made up of men and women who fulfill their responsibilities with dignity, humility and honor. Their dedication is an inspiration to our country and a cause for gratitude this Easter season.
On Easter, we remember especially those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom. These brave individuals have lived out the words of the Gospel: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." And our nation's fallen heroes live on in the memory of the nation they helped defend.
Look, I have no objection to honoring the sacrifice of our soldiers on Easter...or any other day for that matter. However, why must that acknowledgment be couched in terms that suggest their efforts have the authority of the Gospel...and therefore God? In my opinion, it simply sends a message to Islam that they can utilize as evidence that the West seeks to destroy Islam and install Christianity as the prevailing faith. If Iraq were part and parcel of the war on terror, why would we impart language that can be used to incite more terrorism?
No, the President's words don't directly state what I've discerned...but he clearly infers that the actions we have undertaken in Iraq have the blessing of God. Such a statement leaps over the numerous facts that suggest we may not be able to assert that our actions in Iraq were simply initiated to defend this country. Further, once we realized Saddam Hussein didn't have WMD's and wasn't involved with 9/11, I don't see the means to conclusively characterize our invasion of Iraq as an act of defense.
The fact that the President found it necessary to shift his rationale for the war on several occasions suggests he understands this criticism. If so, why was it necessary to refer to the efforts of our soldiers in the religious context he chose? Toss in the events at Abu Ghraib, the ongoing operations at Guantanamo Bay, the revelations we did use torture on "enemy combatants", and the refusal to clearly denounce and define such actions as torture and the notion that our President and his supporters view this as a holy war isn't all that much of a stretch.
Hence, after reading and ruminating on the above...as well as recollecting upon my Catholic upbringing...my conflation of religion, sin, Easter, and baptism with waterboarding and war began to emerge. The ultimate irony evidenced on this Easter Sunday centers on this subtle vitiation of the actual meaning of Easter.
As I understand it, Easter centers upon the belief that this day culminates God's efforts to send his son Jesus to live amongst us as a teacher and to endure death for our sins...only to rise again as evidence of the promise of eternal life for those who follow in his footsteps. I think the focus was upon a way of life; not upon religious institutions.
Frankly, it seems to me that on this Easter Sunday we are closer to the crucifixion of our fellow man than we are to the redemption that was promised in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps that's the cross we bear. Let's just hope we have the good sense to resist nailing each other to it. Happy Easter?!
Tagged as: Baptism, Catholic Church, Crucifixion, Easter, God, Humor, Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion, Resurrection, Sin, Torture, Waterboarding
Daniel DiRito | March 23, 2008 | 1:06 PM |
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Nothing like a little levity on Saturday...especially when it comes at the expense of the holier than thou. The following two videos take some oft heard Christian propaganda and give it a gay spin.
In the first video, it's reported that gay scientists are on the hunt for a Christian gene. In the meantime, gay counselors are helping Christians deal with their troubling lifestyle.
In the second video, prominent anti-gay Australian Archbishop Peter Jensen is confronted with numerous Biblical passages that religious leaders seemingly ignore. The Bishop seems unable to explain or discount the various verses.
Surprisingly, during the confrontation, the Bishop decides to tell the male reporter that he finds him "so good looking"...at which point the reporter reminds the Archbishop of the very Leviticus verse that is used to condemn gays...just in case the Archbishop has his sights on a sinful romp with the reporter.
Thank goodness we have men like the Archbishop to interpret the Bible for us. However, after watching this exchange, it looks like the Archbishop needs a refresher course in Biblical content. Sadly, he's not the only Christian who has a selective knowledge of the Bible.
Tagged as: Archbishop Peter Jensen, Bible, Gay, Humor, Leviticus, LGBT, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | March 22, 2008 | 1:37 PM |
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Bill is back after a one week absence and he hits it out of the park with a strong indictment of John McCain's status as the best candidate to answer the infamous 3:00AM phone call. Maher points out that McCain may be a maverick...but when it comes to the war in Iraq, he is a replica of George Bush...and that has to disqualify him from answering the phone...let alone having his finger near or on anything remotely resembling a trigger.
Maher argues that we don't we need or want a warrior (one who relies on Joe Lieberman to clarify sectarian affiliations) seated in a position to send more American troops into more Middle Eastern countries that view our presence as the justification to commit further acts of terrorism. I couldn't agree more.
On a lighter note, Bill tackles the Bush administration's assertion that the economy is "going through a rough patch". Maher thinks it's more than a rough patch and he shows us a rather notorious couple to express his belief that the economy is a "mess". He closes his schtick on the economy by suggesting we make the penny the dollar.
Bill moves on to skewer wayward governors, senators, and other adulterers and their poor wives...the wives that have the misfortune of being filmed at the side of their spouse during the obligatory press conference. He also takes a couple jabs at Fox News (the family values network) and the number of gratuitous photos of Spitzers $4,300.00 friend.
Tagged as: Bill Maher, Dick Cheney, Dr. Pepper, Economy, Eliot Spitzer, Fox News, George Bush, Iraq, John McCain, New Rules
Daniel DiRito | March 21, 2008 | 11:11 PM |
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I've long believed that religious fanatics have the willingness and the capacity to justify any behavior or action they feel will further their agenda and solidify their authority over their minions. The evidence supporting my belief just grew exponentially.
In the following video, ABC News explores how global warming is viewed by a number of religious leaders and their denominations. The report stems from the declaration signed by current and former leaders of the Southern Baptist Church in which they assert that they have been too timid on addressing global warming. That's the good news.
The bad news is that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council disagrees with this position. Instead, Perkins argues that those who favor a reduction in global warming are actually seeking to promote abortion and same-sex marriage. Perkins contends that limiting population is an element of climate control and is therefore contrary to the promotion of life and procreation. Rather than focus on Perkins' absurd conflation, I think it makes more sense to explore the motivations that in all likelihood underly it.
After assailing abortion and the gays, Perkins pivots to make the argument that people would be better served to put their energy into preparing themselves spiritually for the end of the world (the rapture or the end of days) instead of championing climate control. I guess Perkins sees humanity like an ant colony in a jar - if our willful actions lead us to outgrow and destroy our planet, the masses should simply soldier on like tireless worker ants.
I find his logic problematic (OK, what logic?) because it suggests that God gave us a brain and the ability to build all that exists in this world...but not the good sense to be prudent stewards in order to preserve and protect it. So I'm left to wonder how we're supposed to know when it's time to stop using our brains and drive the humanity bus willy-nilly off the cliff?
However, if God decides when to end the world, why would we suddenly determine that we knew it was coming and therefore elect to throw caution to the wind? Isn't that rather presumptive and arrogant on our part? What if we're wrong? Isn't it possible that God would see our carelessness as a sin? Further, what right do we have to destroy his creation...on our own timeline?
People like Perkins like to hear themselves pontificate but they rarely take the time to think through the significance of their proclamations. Is God going to reward those leaders and industries that ignored global warming in the pursuit of profit since their efforts will have helped facilitate the end of days? Will Al Gore and those who sought to save the planet be banished to hell because they opposed unbridled profits at the expense of extinguishing the planet?
If so, wouldn't that mean that those who chose to give, like the woman in the parable of the widow's mite, were being punished...while those who chose to take, like the tax collectors seeking to amass more wealth, were being rewarded? How could that be God's plan?
The answer may be found in what has come to be known as the prosperity doctrine, prosperity theology or the prosperity gospel. Essentially, those who promote this version of faith (and there are many well known ministers) argue that God wants his believers to be successful in all they do...including the accumulation of wealth.
I don't know if Tony Perkins is a disciple of this thinking or not; but the contradictions found in his position on global warming better align him with prosperity theology than with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Taking it a step further, I doubt Perkins plans to suffer in the days that precede the end of the world; otherwise he would have already diminished his focus on the material world in order to allow time to prepare his own soul for the impending rapture.
You see, I contend that men like Perkins have no intention of suffering...though they make their living asking others to do just that...especially if it means pledging to donate a greater share of their income. Men like Perkins worship money and the spoils of capitalism above all else. They view climate control as an impediment to the pursuit of wealth...though they couch their opposition to it as the promotion of life.
Yes, all too often, the lives of Perkins and his ilk are steeped with worldly treasures. My cynicism tells me they are the equivalent of modern day snake oil salesmen. They travel from this conference to that speaking engagement...preaching their version of values...while separating as much coin from the congregation as is humanly possible.
I question the sincerity of leaders who lecture their flocks ad nauseam on the importance of sacrificing for the afterlife in order to receive its many rewards...particularly when they insist upon rewarding themselves handsomely in the here and now...as if there were no tomorrow.
Perhaps I just don't know my commandments...especially the one that states - Thou shalt use the name of the Lord thy God when one taketh without guilt.
The following video clip includes the original ABC report along with several insertions of commentary in the form of text added by the individual that uploaded it to YouTube. It is somewhat distracting but it doesn't prevent the viewer from following the original ABC News report. Perhaps as payment for enduring the editorializing, they include a snippet from the TV show Family Guy at the end of the clip. I thought it was funny so hopefully it will make you chuckle.
Tagged as: Abortion, Al Gore, Climate Change, Climate Control, Commandments, End Of Days, Evangelicals, Family Guy, Family Research Council, Gay Marriage, Global Warming, God, Jesus, LGBT, Population Control, Prosperity Gospel, Prosperity Theology, Rapture, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Southern Baptists, Tony Perkins
Daniel DiRito | March 21, 2008 | 3:42 PM |
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Here in the United States, when we think of the troop surge in Iraq, we worry about the increasing number of troops who are being asked to participate in a war that seems to be endless. The Bush administration likes to tout the reduction in troop fatalities and a seeming decline in violence as evidence that the troop surge was warranted and is achieving its goal.
Unfortunately, there is more to the story...and the Guardian has a report that takes a look at the surge from the perspective of the tribes that have been enlisted to assist the U.S. in reducing the violence. According to the report, many of the Iraqis who signed up to assist the U.S. in quelling the violence and identifying al Qaeda sympathizers have yet to be paid for their efforts and are on the verge of a strike.
In his speech marking the fifth anniversary of the war George Bush highlighted the significance of what he called "the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden". Iraq, he said, "has become the place where Arabs joined with Americans to drive al-Qaida out."
But dozens of phone calls to Sahwa leaders reveal bitterness and anger. "We know the Americans are using us to do their dirty work and kill off the resistance for them and then we get nothing for it," said Abu Abdul-Aziz, the head of the council in Abu Ghraib, where 500 men have already quit.
"The Americans got what they wanted. We purged al-Qaida for them and now people are saying why should we have any more deaths for the Americans. They have given us nothing."
In Dora, a southern suburb of Baghdad, the leaders of a Sahwa group of 2,400 men said they were considering strike action because none of the 2,000 applicants they had put forward for jobs with the police and military had been accepted.
The Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki has found jobs for only a handful of the Sahwa fighters.
It seems to me that this situation demonstrates the fragile nature of the Iraqi situation. Yes, we can pay these people ten dollars daily to gain their support...but that simply points out the economic desperation of many Iraqis. I doubt the U.S. can sustain this recent success without the promise of ongoing payments...a fact that highlights just how tenuous the recent successes may be.
If we cannot continue to fund these "Awakening Councils" indefinitely, those who are participating will need to seek out other sources of income. I suspect that means two things. One, the success of the surge could instantly evaporate. Two, the underlying dynamics necessary to establish a stable and secure Iraq do not exist and may not be possible without a long term U.S. presence.
To be frank, we're simply taking advantage of people who are desperate for the means to survive. As such, should the U.S. cease supporting these individuals, they will be susceptible to the overture of others. Hence, the tribalism and sectarian strife that has plagued Iraq for many years is apt to resurface as soon as we attempt to scale back the measures that accompanied the surge.
The bottom line is that the surge has been a stopgap measure designed to buy the Bush administration the time and political cover to continue its ill-advised war. What lies beneath this facade is a fractious and fragmented society that currently lacks sustainable economic wherewithal and is struggling to find the political will to establish a functional nation.
The 2008 election is an opportunity for Americans to voice their political will. The war in Iraq will be a key consideration and it is critical that Americans have a clear understanding of the real conditions in Iraq as the next president will likely determine how much longer we will remain.
John McCain has recently sought to step back from his assertion that the United States may have to remain in Iraq for a hundred years. Those who believe that John McCain is a straight talking maverick who is willing to level with the American public must not forget his words. Political expediency may force him to modify his prediction, but there should be no doubt that McCain's resolve to remain in Iraq equals that of George Bush.
While I'm inclined to agree with the Senator that it may take decades to complete George Bush's mission in Iraq, I believe it is quite clear that it's a mission we shouldn't have undertaken. It's also a mission that must end. Neither George Bush or John McCain can will the Iraqi people to adopt the outcome we imagine would best serve our interests. Even if both men believe they can, reality should tell us we can't afford the cost.
The 2008 election is our opportunity to send an important message...a message of restoration that reconnects us with our defining principles. Consistent with the intentions of our founding fathers, it should be the will of the American people that determines whether the war in Iraq should proceed. Likewise, it must be the will of the Iraqi people that determines the defining principles that will guide their future. Only then will our mission be accomplished.
The following video was included as part of the Guardian article.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, al Qaeda, Awakening Councils, Baghdad, Diyala, George Bush, Iraq, John McCain, Troop Surge
Daniel DiRito | March 21, 2008 | 10:27 AM |
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It was only a matter of time before backroom GOP operatives would capitalize on the controversy surrounding the incendiary comments of Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's pastor. A newly launched YouTube video appears to be the first swiftboating salvo in a campaign that is likely to see many more. The video demonstrates the growing impact of the internet as well as the expanding ability to distribute stealth attacks upon one's opponent.
The video is listed on YouTube as being produced by a professional-sounding group called "NHaleMedia," but there is no such entity.
Rather; the incendiary video -- which also includes footage of Malcolm X, the U.S. Olympians who raised their hand in the black power salute and the song "Fight the Power" -- is in part the amateur work of Lee Habeeb.
A former producer of "The Laura Ingraham Show," Habeeb is the director of strategic content at Salem Radio Network, the conservative talk radio powerhouse that airs programs hosted by figures such as Bill Bennett and Hugh Hewitt.
Habeeb declined to reveal the identity of his co-producers, but did say that they are "conservatives who happen to be in the media world" and are not working for any campaign. One, he said, works in film and the other is involved in crafting ads.
I debated whether to include the video in this posting but I decided it was important for Democrats to see what they can expect as we approach the November election. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these efforts backfire. This one is particularly offensive in its attempt to link Senator Obama with numerous negative images and stereotypes.
Those still wondering if the GOP would again use gays and gay marriage as their signature issue need not spend another moment contemplating the question. After watching the video, it should be abundantly clear that race will be the crown jewel in the GOP's armada. Should Obama be the Democratic nominee, I expect the meme to mimic a GOP favorite used to assail gays...the militant homosexual agenda.
In Obama's case, this effective meme will be modified to portray him as secretly promoting "the militant black agenda"...one that denigrates patriotism and seeks to install a Marxist inspired version of socialism. Take a moment to do a Google search with the term "Obama Socialist Marxist agenda". If that doesn't convince you, Google "Obama Marxist Posters" and you'll note the efforts to connect Obama to Che Guevara.
It makes perfect sense for a party that has found fear to be a formidable tool in building its current coalition. Truth be told, it is so effective that many of those who vote GOP do so despite the fact that it is detrimental to their own self-interest. Race appears to be poised to replace (or augment) terrorism and gay marriage as the big bad bogeyman in 2008.
Yes, Senator McCain has suspended a staff member who was found to be distributing the video. Unfortunately, the GOP has refined the tactic of disseminating fear and falsehoods while maintaining the deniability of their candidates. The fact that 13 percent of Americans believe Obama to be a Muslim demonstrates the success of these unsubstantiated smears. One needn't be a sophisticated statistician or an astute tactician to predict that the vast majority of this 13 percent won't be voting for Senator Obama.
On that somber note, the video follows as does my own satirical graphic on "The River Rafting of Barack Obama.
Tagged as: Barack Obama, Che Guevara, GOP, Huckleberry Finn, Jeremiah Wright, John McCain, Lee Habeeb, Marxism, Racism, River Rafting, Socialism, Swiftboating
Daniel DiRito | March 20, 2008 | 1:55 PM |
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Recent events have Stepen Colbert convinced that the Democrats are killing themselves...and he has a segment called "Democralypse Now" to chronicle their demise. In this segment, Colbert talks about the feud between Obama and Clinton supporters and the recent need for Senator Obama to address the inflammatory statements of his longtime pastor.
Colbert offers Barack Obama some advise on dealing with controversial pastors. He suggests that Obama should have employed the John McCain strategy (The Gospel Of John) to deal with the objectionable comments made by pastor Wright.
Colbert argues that McCain succeeded by denouncing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in the past and then quietly reconciled with them just prior to his run for the presidency. In other words, the Obama campaign did it backwards. Colbert believes it's far better to make denouncements early on and then gradually cozy back up to these controversial figures just before the election.
As is often the case, Colbert's logic seems absurd...but then isn't that the point he is trying to make each evening about the state of politics in the United States?
Be sure not to miss Colbert's explanation of the oft referenced two sets of footprints in the sand at 4:25 into the video clip. Let's just say that if Colbert is right, then one set of those prints might have been a little light...in the loafers.
Tagged as: Barack Obama, Jerry Falwell, John McCain, Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Race, Religion, Stephen Colbert. Jeremiah Wright
Daniel DiRito | March 20, 2008 | 9:47 AM |
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Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker appeared on the Charlie Rose show last evening to discuss the recent actions to bailout Bear Stearns. Volker points out that the actions were unprecedented and he cautions that doing so may be an argument for greater regulation of investment houses like Stearns.
Volker's remarks were focused on his concern that we are witnessing a transformation in the financial market. As such, he argues that it is time to review the mechanisms we have in place to insure that the economy is being protected from the bad decisions of these newly emerging financial players.
Volker doesn't believe that the Federal Reserve should play a larger part in the regulatory process; rather he contends that they were forced to step into the void with regards to Bear Stearns. Volker suggests that the regulatory process should originate with our elected representatives.
The problem with that equation (even though I agree with Volker) is that the influence of the players in the financial market is daunting...and nothing provides better evidence of this influence than the recent rewriting of bankruptcy laws making it far more difficult for individuals to walk away from debt. Unfortunately, it appears that our government is on the precipice of bailing out the same financial institutions that sought to limit the options for relief by financially strapped citizens.
Yes, the GOP likes to be seen as opposing handouts and welfare...except when it is directed to those corporations that ante up each election cycle. The welfare reform enacted under the Clinton administration was one of the first steps in this shift towards escalating corporate welfare. If this trend continues, be prepared for further financial calamities of greater proportion...with astronomically more acute consequences.
Tagged as: Bailouts, Bankruptcy, Bear Stearns, Charlie Rose, Corporate Welfare, Fannie Mae, Federal Reserve, Freddie Mac, Influence Peddling, Liquidity, Lobbying, Paul Volker, Recession, Solvency
Daniel DiRito | March 19, 2008 | 11:36 AM |
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Today's speech on race by Senator Barack Obama was noteworthy. The media is abuzz with glowing proclamations. Some have said that the Obama speech was the most important speech on race in the forty years since the death of...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Affirmative Action, African Americans, Barack Obama, Class Warfare, Have-Nots, Immigration, Martin Luther King, Mexicans, Race, Racism, Slavery, Wealth Distribution
Daniel DiRito | March 18, 2008 | 5:00 PM |
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Most of the country has weighed in on the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and their battle for the Democratic nomination. This past Saturday, Tracy Morgan closed the loop on Saturday Night Live by offering his rebuttal...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democrats, Gender, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Race, SNL, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Weekend Update
Daniel DiRito | March 18, 2008 | 10:44 AM |
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Richard Dawkins takes an in depth look at the degree to which science is a part of our daily life and our understandings of the world in which we live. He begins by visiting the portions of the American...
Tagged as: Astronomy, Cancer, Creationism, DNA, Evolution, Forensics, Fruit Flies, Mad Cow Disease, Richard Dawkins, Science
Daniel DiRito | March 15, 2008 | 9:40 AM |
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I try to avoid making unequivocal assertions...but if my instincts are correct, I'm not taking much of a risk in predicting that the calamity that will define this Bush presidency will not be the Iraq war. As with his...
Tagged as: Ben Bernanke, Economy, Federal Reserve, GDP, George Bush, Housing Bubble, Interest Rates, Iraq War, Katrina, Liquidity, Monetary Policy, Recession, Savings and Loan Scandal, Subprime Lending, Tax Cuts
Daniel DiRito | March 14, 2008 | 11:44 AM |
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You Know Me Better is the latest single to be released from Roisin Murphy's CD, Overpowered. For those unfamiliar with Murphy, she is a Irish born singer songwriter formerly of the duo Moloko. Overpowered, released in late 2007, is...
Tagged as: Moloko, Music, Overpowered, Roisin Murphy, Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Daniel DiRito | March 13, 2008 | 11:58 AM |
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They say life imitates art...and if that is true, then the words spoken by Jack Nicholson in the film A Few Good Men may explain why the Bush administration and so many of its followers continue to insist on...
Tagged as: Abstinence, Cervical Cancer, Condoms, Evangelical, HPV, Morality, Religion, Sex, Sex Education, Sin, STD's, Teenagers, Virginity
Daniel DiRito | March 12, 2008 | 11:06 AM |
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The comedians of the world are having a feast with the Spitzer scandal...and anyone looking for a good laugh is the beneficiary. The Daily Show had the following offerings on the news from New York. In the first video,...
Tagged as: Elliott Spitzer, Humor, Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Prostitution, Samantha Bee, The Daily Show
Daniel DiRito | March 12, 2008 | 9:39 AM |
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They say it's written in the stars...and today's news seems to have been all about the rise and fall of stars...those that occupy a distant point in space that we can barely fathom...and one that occupies a pivotal political...
Tagged as: Adultery, Astrology, Astronomy, Cosmos, Death Star, Earth, Elliott Spitzer, Gamma Rays, Humor, New York, Prostitution, Rudy Giuliani, Sex Scandal, Supernova, Wolf-Rayet
Daniel DiRito | March 10, 2008 | 8:46 PM |
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I'm always amazed when the religious right seeks to characterize the pursuit of gay equality as a militant homosexual agenda. I'm especially amused when the rhetoric by which they put forth this argument is laced with the words we...
Tagged as: Bible, Bigotry, Evangelical, Gay Bashing, Homophobia, Humor, LGBT, Religion, Religious Extremism, Sally Kern
Daniel DiRito | March 10, 2008 | 11:32 AM |
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In this faux news segment, The Onion tackles the voting public's preoccupation with miniscule details and irrelevant facts...or as they prefer to define it, "bullshit". While this is a tongue-in-cheek video, it's difficult to miss the underlying truth of...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Humor, Media, Politics, Polling, Propaganda, Spoof
Daniel DiRito | March 10, 2008 | 11:16 AM |
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In the following video, Sam Harris offers some insights into religion's waning influence in the face of modernity. Harris discusses the tendency towards literal interpretations in the Bible, the Koran, and other religious texts...as well as the inclination of...
Tagged as: Bible, God, Koran, Literalism, Modernity, Religion, Science, Secularism, Seung-Hui Cho, Virginia Tech
Daniel DiRito | March 10, 2008 | 10:41 AM |
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Drawing the appropriate line between parental rights and the states interest in the welfare of children can be a complex consideration. The emergence and prevalence of homeschooling has further complicated the equation. A ruling by a California appeals court...
Tagged as: Baby Bible Bashers, Bible, California, Evangelicals, George Bush, God, Homeschooling, Islamic Extremists, James Dobson, Jesus Camp, Karl Rove, Matthew Murray, New Life Church, Religion, Religious Extremism, Terence, Youth With A Mission
Daniel DiRito | March 8, 2008 | 9:15 AM |
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Maher hits it out of the park with another round of New Rules. He makes fun of politicians eating on the campaign trail...taking a swipe at Senator Larry Craig's bathroom escapades and John McCain's age. He moves on to...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, 3:00 AM, Bill Maher, Comedy, Hillary Clinton, Humor, John McCain, Larry Craig, New Rules, Nicole Richie, Politics, Robots, Russia, Vladimir Putin
Daniel DiRito | March 8, 2008 | 8:40 AM |
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The nastiness kerfuffle between the Obama and Clinton camps continues to draw the media's attention. The endless words, written on the subject by surreptitious surrogates, are enough to make a political junkie puke. If the victory of one's chosen...
Tagged as: 2008 Election, 3:00 AM, Barack Obama, Bias, Campaigns, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Partisanship
Daniel DiRito | March 7, 2008 | 6:53 PM |
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Who knew?! Oprah is the most dangerous woman in the world...at least according to internet evangelist Bill Keller. Keller goes on to call Winfrey a "New Age witch" who is promoting "spiritual crack". While Keller has been a longtime...
Tagged as: Bible, Big Give, Bill Cavuto, Bill Keller, Eckhart Tolle, Evangelism, Faith, Fox News, God, New Age, Oprah Winfrey, The Secret
Daniel DiRito | March 7, 2008 | 3:13 PM |
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Steven Colbert takes on the battle over FISA and the Bush administration's demand that Congress pass the Protect America Act in order to insure the safety of all Americans. In this segment of "The Word", Colbert explains the meaning...
Tagged as: 3:00 AM, AT&T, Comedy, Fear, FISA, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Immunity, Politics, Protect America Act, Stephen Colbert, Terrorism
Daniel DiRito | March 7, 2008 | 2:08 PM |
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It's difficult to find anything to smile about in the latest jobs report. Despite the assurances from the Bush administration that the economy remains strong, each new report brings evidence that we're in a recession. It looks like the...
Tagged as: Comedy, Economics, ExxonMobil, Federal Reserve, Foreclosures, GDP, Housing Bubble, Humor, Interest Rates, Jobs, Multi-national Corporations, Recession, Savings & Loan Scandal, The Onion, Unemployment, Wages
Daniel DiRito | March 7, 2008 | 11:22 AM |
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Economists attempt to measure the health of the economy in a variety of ways. I'm of the opinion that two news reports (here and here) shed some ominous light on its status and may well signal the need to...
Tagged as: Debt, Economics, Federal Reserve, Foreclosures, Home Equity, Interest Rates, Jobs, Liar Loans, Mortgage Delinquencies, Recession, S & L Scandal, Standard of Living, Subprime Lending, Wages
Daniel DiRito | March 6, 2008 | 11:38 AM |
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There is an ongoing battle over health care in the United States. Those opposed to universal health care argue that the implementation of such a plan will result in a decline in the quality of care. Time and again,...
Tagged as: Centers for Disease Control, Health Care, Hepatitis C, Hippocratic Oath, Insurance, Malpractice, Mandates, Medicine, Nevada, Poverty, Universal Health Care
Daniel DiRito | March 4, 2008 | 1:50 PM |
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George Carlin is a comedian...but his real talent is his ability to deconstruct the many concepts we've come to take for granted in this life. On Saturday night, during his HBO special, It's Bad For Ya, he gave us...
Tagged as: Comedy, Death, George Carlin, God, HBO, Heaven, Hell, Humor, It's Bad For Ya, Patriotism, Politics, Religion
Daniel DiRito | March 4, 2008 | 9:06 AM |
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If you want to understand the degree to which politicians make shortsighted decisions intended to win favor with the voters at home, look no further than the passage of the $168 billion dollar economic stimulus package. If you want...
Tagged as: Bridge Collapse, Economics, Election Cycles, Infrastructure, Pew Research, Recession, Refund Checks, Stimulus Package, Tax Rebates
Daniel DiRito | March 3, 2008 | 3:09 PM |
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It's always fun to look back at the programs we watched when we were younger. It's even more fun to see them parodied...especially when the spoof adds a gay twist. Logo, MTV's gay and lesbian themed network recently took...
Tagged as: Blair, Comedy, Drag Queen, Facts of Life, Humor, Jo, LGBT, Logo, Mrs. Garrett, MTV, Natalie, The Big Gay Sketch, Tootie
Daniel DiRito | March 1, 2008 | 11:10 AM |
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You won't see Bill Maher present a set of "New Rules" like this for many years...four to be exact since he delivered them on February 29th. I know, I know, I should leave the funny stuff to Bill, but...
Tagged as: al Qaeda, Alberto Gonzales, Barack Obama, Bill Maher, Congress, George Bush, New Rules, Patriotism, Right Wingers, Roger Clemons
Daniel DiRito | March 1, 2008 | 10:20 AM |
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