Polispeak: April 2006: Archives

April 30, 2006

Dems: Southern Strategy? genre: Polispeak

Former Virginia Governer, Mark Warner, is proposing a new strategy for Democrats to garner votes in southern states. The latest edition of Newsweek explains Warner's strategy. I thought the article was interesting, especially when you realize how little agreement exists within the Democratic Party on a voter strategy.

Howard Dean, DNC Chairman believes that Democrats need a presence in all fifty states and is in the process of putting people on the ground accordingly. A number of other Democratic strategists feel the money Dean is spending would be better spent on targeting specific races that the Democrats can potentially win.

Warner, an unannounced but unrelenting candidate for the presidency, is happy to help, urging Dixie's Democrats to break with the national party's Bush-bashing strategy and instead emphasizing bipartisanship and values. Warner is hoping big Southern victories in 2006 will prove that his Virginia success was a preview of things to come, not just a random stroke of luck in a region grown hostile to Democrats.

He won the Virginia governorship in November 2001, a high point for post-9/11 Republican power. While in office, he won rural support by channeling economic development toward the state's depressed Southside. He even managed to raise taxes and see his poll numbers go up.

In speeches in the South, he preaches the blessings of bipartisanship. He rarely mentions the words "Bush" or "Republican" and only invokes his own party to say, "I'm proud to be a Democrat, but I'm prouder to be an American." There is "a wide swath of Reagan Democrats or independents who are up for grabs," Warner tells NEWSWEEK, "but it can't be for a Democrat who's going to preach the kind of 'us against them' '70s populism."

Warner is also telling Southern Democrats to go on the offensive on values issues and run against "cultural elitism."

Some Democrats who've heard prophecies of a Southern renaissance before are skeptical. They think the party would be better off cutting its losses in Dixie and focusing on the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states.

In my own opinion, the lack of consensus merely indicates a shortage of leadership within the Party. Without a national voice that can garner respect across the diversity within the Party, Democrats remain vulnerable to the Republican strategy that has routinely focused on the absence of a Democratic message. As long as the Party is seen as nothing more than a number of competing factions jockeying for the 2008 presidential election, the public will continue to believe that principles take a back seat to partisan posturing. The 2006 midterm election is an opportunity the Democrats can ill afford to squander.

Daniel DiRito | April 30, 2006 | 12:19 PM | link | Comments (1)
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April 29, 2006

Rasmussen: Bush Approval Of 37% An All Time Low genre: Polispeak

The latest Rasmussen Report shows President Bush with a 37% approval rating, his lowest ever in polling conducted by the organization.

Just 37% of Americans now give the President their Approval, only 16% Strongly Approve. Even among Republicans, approval has tumbled and is currently measured at 66%. For most of his first term, Bush earned Approval Ratings in the high 80s from Republicans.

At the other end of the spectrum, 62% Disapprove including 45% who Strongly Disapprove. Those figures are also the bleakest for President Bush ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports.

Just 32% give the President good or excellent marks for handling the situation in Iraq. That's down from 35% a month ago. Just 39% believe the U.S. and its allies are winning the War on Terror.

These numbers mirror the downward trending found in several other polls. The President has reached all time lows in at least two other polls.

Daniel DiRito | April 29, 2006 | 2:48 PM | link | Comments (0)
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NSA: Some Details Emerging; DOJ Challenges Suit genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Slowly we are finding out more about the NSA program of domestic spying that has essentially bypassed the FISA court system to obtain information about Americans.

WASHINGTON (April 29) - The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval, the Justice Department said Friday.

It was the first time the Bush administration has publicly disclosed how often it uses the administrative subpoena known as a National Security Letter, which allows the executive branch of government to obtain records about people in terrorism and espionage investigations without a judge's approval or a grand jury subpoena.

The secretive program leaves many wondering the criteria used to determine which Americans are legitimate targets of the program. Given the number of inquiry letters, reported to be 9,254, the larger question seems to be how many of these investigative letters led to indications of terrorist activity as opposed to nothing more that fishing expeditions into the personal data of American citizens. Critics of the program have repeatedly argued that the same activity could be conducted under the FISA court, thereby providing some checks and balances.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the same panel that signs off on applications for business records warrants, also approved 2,072 special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies. The record number is more than twice as many as were issued in 2000, the last full year before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The FBI security letters have been the subject of legal battles in two federal courts because, until the Patriot Act changes, recipients were barred from telling anyone about them.

Ann Beeson, the associate legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the report to Congress "confirms our fear all along that National Security Letters are being used to get the records of thousands of innocent Americans without court approval."

At the same time the administration, through the Justice Department moved Friday to block a lawsuit against AT&T that claims the company violated customer privacy. The lawsuit did not name the US government but the administration apparently feels the suit threatens the controversial domestic wiretapping program.

The government, in a filing here late Friday, said the lawsuit threatens to expose government and military secrets and therefore should be tossed. The administration added that its bid to intervene in the case should not be viewed as a concession that the allegations are true.

As part of its case, the EFF said it obtained documents from a former AT&T technician showing that the NSA is capable of monitoring all communications on AT&T's network, and those documents are under seal. The former technician said the documents detail secret NSA spying rooms and electronic surveillance equipment in AT&T facilities.

Daniel DiRito | April 29, 2006 | 7:40 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 28, 2006

Republican Poster Boys genre: Polispeak

Continuing the trend towards being arrested in order to avoid the expense of purchasing publicity photos, Rush Limbaugh "elected" to be arrested today in Miami. There is speculation that Karl Rove may take advantage of the free publicity photos within the next couple weeks. A Democratic source indicated that additional Republicans were expected to participate in the free photography services.

Limbaugh mug shot

DeLay mug shot

Daniel DiRito | April 28, 2006 | 5:51 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 27, 2006

'Twas The Night Before Fitzmas? genre: Polispeak & Rhyme-N-Reason & Tongue-In-Cheek

‘Twas the night before Fitzmas, and all through D.C.
The Senate stood empty, just waiting to see.
The Grand Jury listened to Fitz with much care,
He hoped that the votes all would be there.

Ken Mehlman and Rover all snug in their beds,
While visions of November danced in their heads,
And Dick in his bunker, as “W" did sip,
A drink from the flask he poured through his lips.

When out at the Post arose such a clatter,
They sprung from their cubes to see what was the matter.
Away to the phones they flew like a flash,
Called up their sources who asked for some cash.

The Times of New York had the lights all aglow,
As they savored the scuttle they knew soon would flow.
When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a signature sheet with twelve names written so clear.

With Old Crow in his throat, George W then spits,
He knew in an instant it must be the Fitz.
More rapid he guzzled, his Party might lose,
So he bristled and shouted while chugging his booze.

Now Karl! First Libby!
Damn Fitz you vixen!
Lost Browny then Scotty!
Who else are you fixin’
To topple from power!
We’re takin’ a lickin!
Now damn Fitzy, damn you!
Damn you this hour!

If not for those levees and Katrina’s wrath,
Dear God, why all these obstacles, who chose her path?
You live in the big house, but the White House is blue,
What else can go wrong, will Dick Cheney go too?

And then in a tantrum, he ran to the roof,
The stomping and kicking of each little hoof.
As he pulled out his hair and was turning around,
Up through the hatch big Barbara came with a bound.

In blue robe with white dots, from her head to her toes,
Yes her clothes were old fashioned, but everyone knows.
A bag of buckshot she held in her hand,
Then she told him that Karl could not take the stand.

His jaw how it twitched, his chin to and fro,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose white from blow!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
She pulled on his ear…you’re back on the snow!
The shaft of a pen he held tight in his fist,
And the smoke it encircled, man was he pissed.
He made a mad face, then reached for the lead,
He shook it and scowled, I wish he were dead.

Righteous and pompous, a nasty old soul,
She slapped him and said, pull Cheney from the hole.
A wink of his eye and a grin on his face,
Soon Fitz he would show that he should stay in his place.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
And filled all the shotguns, then turned with a jerk,
And with shaking fingers, he dialed the phone,
Dick Cheney I need you, he said with a groan.

Dick called for his chopper, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,

Happy Fitzmas to all and we’ll get him tonight!

Daniel DiRito | April 27, 2006 | 9:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Dixie Chicks: "Not Ready To Make Nice" genre: Polispeak & Tuned Out & Video-Philes

The Dixie Chicks long awaited album is called Taking The Long Way. "Not Ready To Make Nice" is their response to the criticism they received for speaking out against the President in 2003.

Daniel DiRito | April 27, 2006 | 12:27 PM | link | Comments (7)
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Rove: I'm Not That Stupid Defense genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Ah, yes, when all else fails there is the “that would have been stupid defense". It appears that Karl Rove has chosen this to be a piece of his final efforts to avoid indictment. I’ve always found the very notion of this defense flawed. The premise of the defense is that smart people wouldn’t do stupid things or make decisions that could rationally be expected to lead to negative consequences. In Rove’s case, as I understand the issue, the argument is being used to explain an oversight to reveal all the details of his conversation with Matt Cooper (specifically the part about Valerie Plame)…in essence he simply forgot that portion of the conversation but to lie would have been stupid…and Rove knows people don’t think he is stupid.

The unspoken assertion by those who use this defense (Tom DeLay comes to mind) is that they may use their intelligence to walk right up to the line, but they are also smart enough to never cross that line…basically they know the rules so well they can navigate them like a skilled tightrope walker. On the surface it sounds reasonable and plausible.

Unfortunately, history often seems to contradict this defense and the premise upon which it is founded. That’s not to say these individuals are stupid…they are actually quite bright. However, what people may miss is an understanding that whatever these people possess in terms of smarts sometimes pales in comparison to the zeal with which they seek wealth, prestige, or power. In essence, smart people, not unlike others who lie and manipulate, are not above self-deceit in order to augment lofty goals, obtuse egos, and an unbridled hunger for power.

In the end, it’s a mistake to evaluate these situations on the basis of the individual’s intelligence…and historically juries often don’t. It’s not difficult to understand that a jury also evaluates where arrogance, greed and the desire for power sit in relation to intelligence. One’s desire for the former has a direct impact upon the amount of intelligence that is applied to any particular activity to achieve the latter.

The mathematical genius who abandons math for theater is not necessarily stupid. He is simply motivated by other interests and the application of his intellect may or may not be the dominating part of his life equation. Those who know this individual may know that he is smart but they may also know that a passion for theater, despite its failure to be a reasonable and rational calculation, is able to override the application of intelligence. He may well fail in theater while still being a very smart man.

Why would anyone assume the actions of politicians are any different? A better analysis of how these individuals and their scandals unfold is described by the “choose your poison principle"…what compels; controls. In looking at Karl Rove there is little doubt he is passionate and motivated. His history is littered with demonstrations of aggressively pursuing his objectives. To presume he would never cross the line, given his obvious intensity, would shift the use of the “that would be stupid defense" to Patrick Fitzgerald and a full Grand Jury. That would likely require a lot of smart people to look stupid. Is Karl Rove smart enough to pull that off? Perhaps.

Daniel DiRito | April 27, 2006 | 9:08 AM | link | Comments (2)
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April 26, 2006

Did Rove Receive Target Letter? genre: Polispeak

Jason Leopold at truthout.org reports that Karl Rove's attorney received a target letter prior to Rove's appearance today before the Grand Jury investigating the leak of the name of former CIA operative, Valerie Plame. Rove's appearance today before the Grand Jury is his fifth. The above link is to the full article. Leopold writes:

It's unclear when Fitzgerald sent the target letter to Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin. Sources close to the two-year-old leak investigation said when Rove's attorney received the letter Rove volunteered to appear before the grand jury for an unprecedented fifth time to explain why he did not previously disclose conversations he had with the media about covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

A federal grand jury target letter is sent to a person in a criminal investigation who is likely to be indicted. In a prepared statement Wednesday, Luskin said Fitzgerald indicated that Rove is not a "target" of the investigation. A "target" of a grand jury investigation is a person who a prosecutor has substantial evidence to link to a crime.

People close to the case said that Fitzgerald has presented additional evidence to the grand jury in the past week that shows Rove lied to federal investigators and a grand jury eight out of the nine times he was asked about his knowledge of the leak since October 2003.

Should Wednesday's court appearance by Rove provide the grand jury with answers to lingering questions, Rove may not be charged with obstruction of justice, but will likely be indicted for perjury and lying to investigators, sources close to the case said.

Daniel DiRito | April 26, 2006 | 2:47 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 25, 2006

Where Is "Our" President? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Can we please have a President for all of America? I'm serious because I would really like to feel like this is "our" country being led by "our" President. I just don't get the need for one group to tell the other group how to live...is one side so bad that the other side must savage the others freedoms in order to be happy…or impose one set of beliefs that all must follow? Whatever happened to our willingness to live together...not despite our differences...but in celebration of our differences bathed in our unique ability to extend equality to all because it's not simply what we believe...but what we live?

Logically, where can this divide lead except to more conflict and ultimately to attempts by one side or the other to criminalize the lives of the other? Honestly, where does it end...what will be enough? I like to start with looking at the extremes. Should we intern gays? Some actually believe we should put them to death. Trust me on this...before that will ever happen...both sides will suffer the sorrow of removing their dead from the streets. No that's not meant to be a threat...it's a reality. If that isn't the reality, then the alternative is equally horrific...people are actually executed without resistance. If some are allowed to continue to pursue this escalation of extreme rhetoric, then rhetoric will become reality and this country will never again be the same.

Should we make the Constitution secondary to the Bible? Should we put the non-believers to death? Some actually believe we should. Trust me on his...before that will ever happen...both sides will suffer the sorrow of removing their dead from the streets. Again, that's not meant to be a threat...it's the logical consequence of fanatical ideology...look no further than Iraq...that country in which we are attempting to introduce Democracy so they can live together and cease the sectarian violence that has it's origin in religious doctrine...can you see the similarities?

Should we also consider the internment or execution of Arabs and illegal immigrants and women who have abortions and doctors who support the terminally ill in ending their lives and judges who rule in opposition to our beliefs and reporters who expose lies and deceit and those who speak out in opposition to the policies of their government and those who burn the flag? Where does it end? The more we define ourselves by our intolerance, the sooner we will move towards the need to eliminate large swaths of society. Those who are intent on bringing a new order are on the precipice of bringing chaos and disorder. Today's dogma will soon be tomorrow’s demise.

We used to be a country of yes and can do's...but we are fast becoming a country of no and don't do's. It can never succeed...it will never succeed...it will in fact destroy us and our way of life. So long as we only have politicians who “say" they believe in something in order to lead…instead of politicians who want to lead because they actually “believe" in something…we will flounder along with focus group figureheads. Unless a leader steps forward to heal all of America, the wounds on both sides will widen such that we run the risk of draining what precious lifeblood remains.

We aren’t going to make it if fifty percent of the population lives with the belief that, unless their Party regains power during the next election cycle, their way of life is doomed. The politics of division may win elections but the price is steep. There is great irony in hearing some say that “exporting Democracy is a good thing…freedom is on the march." I worry that in our zeal to export this thing we call Democracy, we may soon wake up to find that our own supply has vanished.

Daniel DiRito | April 25, 2006 | 2:46 PM | link | Comments (2)
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The Tony Snow Job Show genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Tony Snow Job Show

Amid rampant speculation, it is rumored that Fox News and the Bush administration will be collaborating on a new program direct from the White House. An unnamed Fox source has confirmed the speculation and has provided some further information to Thought Theater. Bucking the trend towards reality based programming; the show is expected to be loosely based upon the selective facts surrounding the internal workings of the President and his policy operatives. The source went on to say that the program will have a superficial talk show - game show format where reporters will be allowed to ask questions and then each member of the White House Press Corp will use a hand-held device to vote on whether they believe the answers that are provided by Tony. Once the question and answer session is completed, the reporter with the most correct votes will enter a soundproof booth with Helen Thomas.

Helen will be wired with a microphone. Tony will then turn on Helen's mic and allow her to ask a question. Once the question has been asked, the Press Corp votes again on whether the question should be allowed or whether the winning reporter in the sound booth should bitch slap Helen and end her questioning. The unnamed source, when pressed, refused to acknowledge that the tabulation system had been provided by Diebold. At that point Brit Hume's voice was overheard in the background calling for security. The phone then went silent. Efforts to contact Juan the source have since failed.

Daniel DiRito | April 25, 2006 | 2:07 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 24, 2006

In The Tank: Bush Approval 32% genre: Polispeak

In the tank

In the latest CNN poll released Monday, the President's approval rating was 32%, the lowest on record for the Bush Presidency. The survey was conducted from Friday through Sunday. For those polled, 60% disapproved of the President's performance. In the latest four polls conducted, the CNN numbers were the lowest. The highest approval was 35% in the most recent Pew Center poll. Perhaps most significant, only 40% of respondents would agree that "honest and trustworthy" described the President, down from 56% one year ago.

Regarding the upcoming midterm elections, 50% of the respondents said they would vote Democratic, 40% said they would vote Republican, and 6% said they didn't know. Rising gas prices appeared to correlate with the high disapproval numbers as nearly two thirds of respondents felt high gas prices were a growing hardship.

Daniel DiRito | April 24, 2006 | 2:44 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 22, 2006

Slavery Redefined: The Immigration Myth genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Everybody’s talking about immigration. The opinions are as varied as the surnames in a phonebook…surnames that represent countless former immigrant families. When discussing immigration, many draw comparisons to that portion of our history where passing the Statue of Liberty signaled the pending arrival at Ellis Island, the virtual gateway to opportunity. I contend relying on that segment of our history serves little purpose in understanding the current immigration crisis. I propose looking at a prior time in our history. That time involves the period of slavery in America. These people also arrived by boat…but only after being captured in far away countries.

By now you are likely saying to yourself, “where is he going with this?" Let me try to explain. We need to establish some basic facts before we can explore the less often discussed realities that are also at play with immigration. One, America is still viewed as a land of opportunity by many who are struggling to survive in other countries. Two, the individuals who enter America generally succeed in improving their living conditions. Three, in so doing, added pressure is placed on the lower income earning segment of Americans as they compete for fewer jobs that frequently pay less money.

So how does slavery come into play? Well, by definition, slavery has multiple meanings. Most familiar is the definition that says “the state of a person who is a chattel of another". This definition best describes America’s history with slavery. However, slavery has a second definition that says “submission to a dominating influence". Therein lays my theory. I like to start by looking at the oft heard mantra, - “immigrants are simply taking the jobs that Americans won’t do," and work backwards. To do that, we simply need to change the words to this – “companies and individuals are offering jobs with pay that American’s can’t afford to take." With this second statement, we begin to make the connection to the alternate definition of slavery.

Next, we need to talk about a market driven economy. It begins to get more complex but please stay with me. The notion of a market driven economy is the hallmark of capitalism…the sacred cow of the American society…and generally speaking a hell of a good construct. The problem begins to take shape when, by virtue of economies of scale across multiple countries, those in position to employ disrupt the internal economy of scale by hiring illegal immigrants. Simply stated, wages are driven down because of the immigrant dynamic. Basically, one mans pittance becomes another’s prosperity whereby a new market driven economy has been established.

We then need to look at the enabling factors. In the last twenty five to thirty years we have allowed our system of illegal employment monitoring and enforcement to completely collapse. The ability to subvert the documentation process has gone unattended such that neither the employer nor the employee fears the possibility of experiencing any meaningful deterring consequences. Frequently those employers who benefit from this void argue they cannot be expected to police the documents. It is a legitimate argument to a point. However, in the absence of any negative repercussions, (i.e. a number of employees being discovered to be illegal thereby disrupting production or company operations) they have no internally compelling interest to verify. They do have compelling economic motivations to disregard enforcement. It’s an absolute recipe for failure. The unspoken truth is that this loophole (more likely this crevasse) makes a number of Americans happy.

The question is what happened? The answer is simple. The underlying economic motivations have been institutionalized to ignore compliance. Don’t be fooled. Just as with our currency, the necessary documentation could be improved such that counterfeiting and fraudulent representations could be minimized. It would require a verification system (which exists in name with the INS) that is functional. If employers and employees knew that submitting false documents would eventually be detected, deterrence would begin to take hold.

Government, in tandem with business, has fostered and fueled the immigration problem. The system is designed to allow for these jobs in order to produce the desired economic benefit. When I hear the banter of many of those (in government) apparently opposed to illegal immigration, who I believe at the same time have knowingly allowed it to perpetuate for obvious benefit, I’m reminded of the expression “he doth protest too much". I don’t buy it for a minute. The problem exists more by choice than by chance.

Therefore, back to slavery. If the dominating influence is such that the American workforce and the illegal immigrant population must submit to this new economic dynamic, slavery has been reconstituted. Not by ownership of the individual but by ownership of the economic system such that the employee is forced to acquiesce to a structure that promotes poverty level wages in order to bolster corporate profit. It’s not picking cotton for free against one’s will but if we measure the standard of living, it’s not much better. The beneficiaries are apparent. Sneaking into America to do this is illegal. However, by description, these employees are in fact “submitting to a dominating influence". Ironically, that act can currently be defined as participating in slavery. Only this time, it’s the slaves who have apparently committed the crime. Now that's what I call a full scale reversal of fortune.

Daniel DiRito | April 22, 2006 | 2:58 PM | link | Comments (2)
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"I'm As Mad As Hell" genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

I tend to think most of life can be understood by looking at relationships. The exchanges that occur between people tell us a lot about the mechanics of power and persuasion. It is within those mechanics where one is most likely to find the forces that influence the bulk of what takes place in society. For me to understand and explain this best, I start by looking at the fundamental relationship…a marriage or other love relationship between two people. What an individual does in these relationships is often a good predictor of their actions in the larger society.

As I’ve watched these relationships over the years, one equation has piqued my attention. It’s what I would call the accommodator phenomenon. In this model, one can usually determine which partner does the majority of the accommodating in order to make the relationship functional. Granted, this is an oversimplification, but I think its one that holds up to the analysis. This accommodation can be subtle or it can be pronounced…but it is often the defining characteristic of the relationship.

It may take simple forms like spending the majority of the holidays with one partner’s family or sports events become the primary form of entertainment or maybe its merely whether to live in the city or the suburbs. In some instances it is even more pronounced. In these extreme cases, one partner may actually abandon the majority of their prior relationships or one partner may give up a lifelong hobby. Basically, in these extreme cases, those that know the individual making the accommodation will often find the change wholly surprising.

With this background, I am most fascinated with how this construct translates to the larger dynamic of society. Again, I will oversimplify in order to make my point…but I think it will withstand the scrutiny. In a basic sense, how societies interact in the fundamental relationship will often explain the larger social structures. I am particularly interested in looking at politics. To give an extreme example will help demonstrate my point. In Saudi Arabia, women are primarily accommodators. They don’t vote (although that is changing) and their function is primarily subservient or secondary to the male partner. Societal decisions are therefore made by men, meaning they control the politics.

American politics can also be explained with this model. Our two party system has a large role in how this unfolds. To fully understand my argument, some assumptions must be made. I tend to look at the far left and the far right as the partners in the relationship who want to be accommodated. In the larger middle are those who act as the accommodators in this relationship. The role of the politician, for better or worse, becomes determining how to court enough of these people to win a majority and get elected.

Given that the middle is the largest single segment, it would seem logical that politicians’ should first court this segment of the voting public. Save for a two party system, they might. The obstacles to this approach are the caucus and the primary systems where participation is typically skewed to the extremes. In essence, those individuals at opposite ends of the spectrum that are seeking to be accommodated make the most demands. By their nature, they actively pursue and participate in the struggle to obtain the promises or concessions they desire. This pushes the candidates of both party’s away from the center as they each battle to win their respective nominations.

I think this goes a long way towards explaining the typically low American voter turnout. The middle is seemingly neglected (or at best taken for granted) until the general election and by that time they likely feel neither candidate represents their moderate positions. In many ways, this is the predictable outcome. Independent and moderate voters are under represented in the process which means the candidates they might prefer probably won’t even make it to the ballot. Additionally, I find that accommodators become quickly disenchanted with the rampant rhetoric. Not unlike the personal relationships mentioned above, the accommodator is constantly barraged by signals and manipulations from those that are intent on obtaining the desired acquiescence.

I for one am fed up with the process and the outcome. The question is what to do? I think the answer is found back at the beginning in the fundamentals. Everything starts with basic relationships. Much like the marriage or love relationship where one partner routinely accommodates the other, the solution is relatively simple. Stop doing it and start saying no! There is one miscalculation that hinders taking these steps. The fear is that in doing as much, the accommodator will become the demander. Nothing could be further from the truth. Innate to the accommodator is a sense of reasonability. Demanding the same remains reasonable…but more importantly…forces the demander to move towards reasonability. You can demand reasonability and remain true to its construct.

I already hear the naysayer’s…they are saying nope, you have it wrong…my demander will just leave and find another accommodator. In saying as much, you have proven my point. Here’s why. If today, accommodators collectively said no more, demanders would be defeated. All that would be left for them would be those at the opposite end of the spectrum…equally demanding and intransigent individuals looking to be accommodated. Frankly, I’m happy to see both extremes forced to meet the other side face to face. You see, the middle has for far too long served as a convenient buffer…brokering a peace that serves both ends of the spectrum at the expense of the middle. I say bullshit! I’m reminded of the movie Network, which was released in 1976. I cannot think of any better words to say to all of us in the middle, all of us accommodators, than this poignant soliloquy from the movie:

We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.

You've got to say, 'I'm a human being, Goddamnit! My life has value!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell…'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad…You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

It is time for the middle to take its rightful position in politics. So long as we allow the extremes to dictate the dialogue, rhetoric will prevail. As with a pendulum, in order to find the center, conflict tends to first reach the extremes. History is the virtual seesaw of this process. Groups who see the resolution of conflict as simply a matter of power are destined to see their own power wane because they fail to persuade those over which they exert power. Over time, it is only persuasion that prevails. Until society rethinks its methods to resolve differences, tomorrow will merely look like today...the only difference will be whose in charge. I’m suggesting that its time for the middle to lead.

Daniel DiRito | April 22, 2006 | 9:59 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 21, 2006

Pink: Dear Mr. President genre: Polispeak & Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Pink performs her song "Dear Mr. President" live in NYC. She is tough on the President but she does it in a thoughtful way. I didn't know she was so politically inclined. Good for her.

Daniel DiRito | April 21, 2006 | 6:07 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Italy: New Government Doomed? genre: Polispeak

Despite being declared the winner of the Italian election, Romano Prodi is already struggling to form a coalition that can move forward with governing the economically troubled country. Outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi continues to be defiant and has refused to concede defeat despite the high court ruling declaring Prodi the victor. Some have called Berlusconi's actions the "politics of tension" in what appears to be an effort to undermine the new government before it is fully functional. The following article, updating the situation, is from the New York Times:

ROME, April 21 — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi kept up his struggle against the election he lost, saying today that he would demand more scrutiny of the results despite a high court decision awarding victory to his center-left challenger, Romano Prodi.

"I have not and will not make any telephone call because why should I give them good wishes," Mr. Berlusconi said in a visit to the northeastern city of Trieste. "That would be against the country's interests."

But Italy, exhausted by its national elections and its razor-thin verdict, seemed to be moving beyond Mr. Berlusconi's continuing refusal to concede defeat. Attention instead began to turn to what may be a new — and possibly serious — crisis: the fight among Mr. Prodi's fractious allies over the highest positions in a new government.

One Italian newspaper called the spat an "emblematic mess" in that it underscores the fundamental weakness of a new Prodi government: his need to appease the nine different parties in his coalition, at a time when he will hold the slimmest possible majority in Parliament.

The biggest fight concerns who snags the prestigious post of head of the lower house of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. Two of Mr. Prodi's most important allies — Massimo D'Alema of the largest coalition party, Democrats of the Left, and Fausto Bertinotti, of the Refounded Communists — both want the title.

In an early sign of difficulties for Mr. Prodi, Mr. Bertinotti was quoted by the La Stampa newspaper as saying that he might withdraw from the coalition if he does not get the post — a move that would doom the new government before it even began.

In comments to reporters today, Mr. Prodi played down the significance of the fight, saying that he would resolve the issue by Monday.

"I will serenely make a decision," he said, according to the ANSA news agency. "Everyone will be obliged to accept it. It will not be a difficult decision, even if it obviously might be painful, like all decisions in these cases."

Meantime, Mr. Berlusconi, who has served as prime minister for the last five years, today continued working to define his political role in the way he knows best — pugnaciously.

In an interview with the Piccolo newspaper in Trieste, Mr. Berlusconi broke two days of silence since Italy's highest court on Wednesday confirmed preliminary election results showing Mr. Prodi had won.

He is under pressure even from some allies to acknowledge Mr. Prodi's victory, in the name of national unity and endorsing the nation's democracy. But, rather, Mr. Berlusconi said he should be acknowledged for a feat that awarded him a "political" victory if not an actual one: that he won some 220,000 more absolute votes than Mr. Prodi's coalition and that his party, Forza Italia, polled better than any other.

"Who wants to be recognized as a winner for having kept the majority of the seats," Mr. Berlusconi said, "must then necessarily recognize that the political victory in terms of consensus goes to the House of Liberty and Forza Italia, with its 24 percent, the first party in the country."

The House of Liberty is the name of the center-right coalition led by Mr. Berlusconi. In one of the ironies of this election, Mr. Prodi's coalition won despite an electoral law that Mr. Berlusconi pushed through Parliament in order to help him and his allies. Many experts say that without that law, Mr. Berlusconi would have won the election.

Meantime, though, several members of his coalition acknowledged defeat, key among them Pier Fernando Casini, head of the United Christian Democrats, which represents many devout Roman Catholics.

"The U.D.C. is called to assume the role of national opposition," Mr. Casini said, using the party's initials in Italian. He added, however, that he would not compromise on moral issues important to his party.

Unlike many other Western countries, Italy has not had a strong tradition of losers in elections actually conceding, athough the issue has grown in recent years since Italy moved more toward a system of two defined political groupings.

Today, Mr. Prodi said that a telephone call from Mr. Berlusconi would be a sign of "good institutional manners" but was no longer necessary to legitimize his victory.

"If he does it, he does it," he told reporters. "If he doesn't, the institutions have their own strength, and democracy goes forward all the same.

"Certainly, it's a shame," Mr. Prodi added. "These rites, these customs, reinforce the democratic system. They aren't indispensable, but they give an indication of style."

Daniel DiRito | April 21, 2006 | 2:57 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 19, 2006

Blumenthal Speculates On Rove Legal Troubles genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

According to Sydney Blumenthal, Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has shown new attention to Karl Rove's activities in the Plame leak case. Blumenthal writes: (I have included bold type for emphasis) Two weeks ago, Fitzgerald filed a motion before the federal court...

Daniel DiRito | April 19, 2006 | 5:10 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Red Rove(r), Red Rove(r), Send Karl Right Over genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The MSM seems to be giving the impression that it's surprising to see Karl Rove has been removed from his policy advisor position. Nonetheless, there is little doubt as to the meaning of Rove’s role change. Frankly, given the shambles...

Daniel DiRito | April 19, 2006 | 12:04 PM | link
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McClellan Out genre: Polispeak

Scott McClellan has announced his resignation as White House Press Secretary. The President remarked, "It's going to be hard to replace Scott...but nevertheless he's made the decision and I accept it." It had been anticipated that White House Chief of...

Daniel DiRito | April 19, 2006 | 7:55 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 18, 2006

Italian Court May Certify Results Today genre: Polispeak

Silvio Berlusconi, the current Prime Minister may be forced to accept defeat if the Italian high court certifies the election results as early as today. The apparent victor, Romani Prodi has voiced criticism at Berlusconi's refusal to acknowledge he will...

Daniel DiRito | April 18, 2006 | 8:48 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 12, 2006

McCain: All Things To All People? genre: Polispeak

It has become increasingly difficult to determine where Senator John McCain stands politically. His recent behavior has left many speculating whether or not he has begun his push to garner the Republican nomination...something not long ago viewed as a long...

Daniel DiRito | April 12, 2006 | 8:25 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Bush Wins Muzzle Award genre: Polispeak

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression awarded President Bush a Muzzle Award for his actions in the NSA surveillance program whereby the phones of U.S. citizens were wiretapped without the established procedure of obtaining the approval...

Daniel DiRito | April 12, 2006 | 7:45 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 10, 2006

Fun With Phones: White House Link? genre: Polispeak

Back in 2002, Republican operative James Tobin, put together a plan to jam the phone banks of the Democratic Party as it conducted it's election day efforts to get-out-the-vote. In that senatorial election, the Republican candidate John Sununu defeated challenger...

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2006 | 2:14 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Cold War Revisited - The NSA Scandal genre: Polispeak

With the exposure of an alleged program of domestic surveillance by the National Security Administration (NSA), the Bush White House has found itself in its repetitive pattern of deflect, defend and redefine. At the core of the issue is determining...

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2006 | 8:03 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 9, 2006

500K Protest In Dallas genre: Polispeak

Reuters is reporting that upwards of a half a million people took to the streets in Dallas to voice their concern over the issue of immigration reform. Dallas police had anticipated a much smaller crowd. Numerous protests are planned...

Daniel DiRito | April 9, 2006 | 9:02 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Bad Math & Leaks genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Now that it is clear that the White House released (leaked?) information (classified?) to refute the claims of Ambassador Joe Wilson in the run up to the Iraq war, the President's usual apologists are rushing to provide the plausible explanation...

Daniel DiRito | April 9, 2006 | 10:03 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 8, 2006

440 Billion Dollar Budget: No Audit genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Reuters reports that the Pentagon could not pass the muster of a traditional audit despite the fact that its proposed budget for 2007 is $440 billion. They apparently only recently determined a cost for each individual piece of equipment. A...

Daniel DiRito | April 8, 2006 | 9:06 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 7, 2006

Scotty M: Boy Who Cried Wolf genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Scott McClellan, soon to be called "The Magician" given his propensity to make the President's indiscretions disappear, played political dodge ball again today as he was peppered with questions about the revelation that the President allegedly authorized the release of...

Daniel DiRito | April 7, 2006 | 1:46 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 5, 2006

Homeland (In)security (Updated) genre: Polispeak

Does anyone else wonder how secure we really are when an employee at the Department of Homeland Security, Brian J. Doyle, is on his computer making sexual solicitations to what he thinks is a fourteen year old girl? If anyone...

Daniel DiRito | April 5, 2006 | 11:24 AM | link | Comments (0)
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April 3, 2006

Democracy On A Leash genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

The recent visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the British foreign minister, Jack Straw, to Iraq is being reported as an effort to apply pressure on Iraq's fledgling politicos to move forward with forming a new government. The...

Daniel DiRito | April 3, 2006 | 8:35 AM | link | Comments (0)
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