Polispeak: May 2006: Archives

May 31, 2006

The Tortured Tales Of The Religious Right genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Guardian had an article today discussing the fact that there is dissention within the ranks of the religious right. Read the full article here.

In his consulting room in a suburb of Montgomery, Alabama, gastrologist Randy Brinson is a worried man. A staunch Republican and devout Baptist, Dr Brinson can claim substantial credit for getting George Bush re-elected in 2004. It was his Redeem the Vote initiative that may have persuaded up to 25 million people to turn out for President Bush. Yet his wife is receiving threats from anonymous conservative activists warning her husband to stay away from politics.

The reason he has fallen foul of men whose candidate he helped re-elect is that he has dared to question the partisan tactics of the religious right. "Conservatives speak in tones that they have got power and they can do what they want. Only 23% of the population embraces those positions but if someone questions their mandate or wants to articulate a different case, for the moderate right, they are totally ridiculed."

In his office in Washington DC, Rich Cizik, vice-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the largest such umbrella group in the US, is also feeling battered. His mistake has been to become interested in the environment, and he has been told that is not on the religious right's agenda.

"It is supposed to be counterproductive even to consider this. I guess they do not want to part company with the president. This is nothing more than political assassination. I may lose my job. Twenty-five church leaders asked me not to take a political position on this issue but I am a fighter," he said.

Another Washington lobbyist on the religious right told the Guardian: "Rich is just being stupid on this issue. There may be a debate to be had but ... people can only sustain so many moral movements in their lifetime. Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"

The inconsistency and tortured logic of those on the extreme right becomes more pronounced on a daily basis. As they have felt embolden to show more and more of their true colors, I'm convinced they have set in motion their own diminishing credibility and influence.

What becomes more and more apparent is the underlying prejudice and bias that they have previously attempted to portray as a comprehensive moral doctrine. Clearly, as they have been confronted by an array of moral choices, the glaring incongruence’s have been illuminated leaving many to conclude that their movement is merely a fraudulent attempt to dictate the selective application of the judgmental and punitive beliefs they support.

To respond to the religious right lobbyist in DC who posits, "Is God really going to let the Earth burn up?"...the answers are many:

1. If God will solve global warming, then why do those on the religious right feel they need to interject their will on other issues...wouldn't the same God solve their concerns for the family and marriage...why do we need a constitutional amendment for some issues and not others?

2. Clearly, the goal of those on the right is to dictate the behaviors they value...especially relating to issues like sex, abortion, and marriage. Issues that relate to the pursuit of wealth at the expense of the climate interfere with the unfettered pursuit of power and influence...since they see the imposition of their beliefs as being dependent upon obtaining wealth which leads to the power to impose. They embrace the notion that he, who has the gold, writes the rules.

3. Does Pat Robertson wants to sell supplements that allow one to leg press 2,000 pounds because he accepts that God has a plan for each of us...or because he is afraid to die and wants to counteract Gods plan that includes the natural process of aging...or because he can make more money off the fear of death if he sells both salvation AND supplements to his followers?

4. If God will intervene to prevent the world from burning up...and at the same time he sent Katrina to punish the immorality of New Orleans (although his aim seemed a bit off since it also damaged other areas), then how will God make the subtle distinctions necessary to punish the bad and preserve the good? Is he only warming areas he dislikes? Will he provide AC to the good people?

5. If they are so convinced that the Lord is going to be returning shortly (rapture crapture) then why build bigger churches and amass wealth...why worry about what the Supreme Court may do 20 years from now...why worry about redrawing congressional districts in Texas to insure that Republicans will hold those seats?

IMHO...Blatant...Biased...Bigotry

Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2006 | 7:43 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Bill Maher: On South Dakota Abortion Ban genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2006 | 10:01 AM | link | Comments (0)
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U.S. To Enter Talks With Iran genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

It is being reported that the United States is ready to enter into talks with Iran in an effort to resolve the issues surrounding Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear capabilities. In the past, the administration has opposed direct talks with Iran but under this new arrangement, the U.S. would join other countries in the dialogue. Bloomberg.com has the full story here.

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. will join European talks with Iran about its nuclear program if enrichment of uranium is ``verifiably'' halted, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will say later today, according to excerpts of her remarks released by the State Department.

"There are going to be some changes'' in the U.S. approach that Snow said would make the allies' previous position "more robust and muscular.''

"There are not going to be direct talks with Iran, one-on- one,'' he said.

Full details have yet to be made available, but more information is expected from Secretary Rice later today. Speculation includes the possibility that the U.S. will join the talks in an effort to gain assurances from Russia and China that they would not block the passage of a resolution by the United Nations Security Council that would impose sanctions on Iran if it continues to pursue nuclear capability.

The Bush administration, in an effort to win Russian support, has agreed to narrow the relevant language from the UN Charter, the New York Times reported today, citing U.S. and European officials.

If the council invokes only Article 41 of Chapter Seven, instead of the whole thing, the resolution will make no mention of the possible use of force. Article 41 lists the "complete or partial interruption of economic relations'' and communications, along with diplomatic curbs as possible punishments.

Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2006 | 8:25 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 30, 2006

The Economy: The Next Shoe To Fall? (Update) genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Update:

The stock market tumbled over 180 points today as inflation fears continue to grow. The New York Times has the full article here.

"The main thing that ails the stock market is uncertainty about the Fed and inflation," said Ethan Harris, chief United States economist for Lehman Brothers. "I think the stock market is beginning to figure out that inflation is becoming a danger. Where they pretty much ignored inflation for a long time, now it's becoming an issue."

Adding to the anxiety on Wall Street today, Michael Moskow, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, expressed concerns that inflation was running high. His remarks, broadcast on CNBC during an interview, raised concerns that the central bank could raise interest rates for a 17th straight time when it meets next month.

Wall Street analysts also pointed out that market downturns are symptomatic of an economy that is cooling. "Until the stock market can feel comfortable that this is going to be a modest inflation pick up," Mr. Harris said, "investors are going to be worried. So it's understandable that there's some repricing going on."

The latest news cannot be welcome since Karl Rove and other Republican strategists are suggesting the Party feature the strong economy in the upcoming midterm elections in November. Bloomberg.com has an article detailing the possible problems with such a strategy here.

May 30 (Bloomberg) -- Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, laid out a plan to win the 2002 congressional elections by stressing national security. For 2006, Rove is framing a strategy for Republicans to sell the U.S. economy.

In a recent speech, Rove argued that Bush's policies of tax cuts and trade agreements had pulled the nation out of recession, created millions of jobs, boosted productivity and increased disposable income. That record can help lead Republicans to victory in November, Rove said in the May 15 speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Political experts say it may be a tough sell: Voters don't feel optimistic, polls show, and growth rates are expected to slow as the housing market cools and gasoline prices remain near all-time highs.

Seventy percent of 1,002 respondents in a May 8-11 Gallup poll said the economy was in fair to poor condition, up from 63 percent in an April poll.

Two days after Rove spoke, the government revised upward the inflation figure he had cited to 2.3 percent, the biggest year-over-year gain since March 2005. Economists say that may be a sign the robust economy is allowing companies to pass along higher costs of labor and commodities.

The Fed is watching the real estate market, recent comments by central bank officials indicate. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, in testimony last month to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, said a slowdown in housing "could prove a drag on growth this year and next.''

While many of the economic numbers have indicated a relatively strong economy over the last 12 to 18 months, the data has not translated into consumer confidence in the economy. With that in mind, touting the economy as a winning issue may prove to be a difficult proposition. If the economy does take a marked downturn, the Republican Party may have even less to talk about as it seeks to hold control of the House and the Senate.
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Original Posting:

There is growing evidence that the economy is beginning to slow. As interest rates have risen steadily, it appears they are having an impact on house sales. Read the full article here. While the Bush administration has touted their policy of tax cuts as the leading factor in the strength of the economy, many would argue the historically low interest rates have actually been responsible for keeping the economy growing.

As interest rates move closer to traditional levels, it will be interesting to watch the economic indicators. I've long felt that low interest rates have falsely supported spending for several years and allowed many homeowners to fund added spending through refinancing to remove equity as well as to take advantage of even lower rates found in adjustable rate loan products offered in the highly competitive mortgage business.

New-home sales rose last month, but failed to keep up the robust growth pace of March. The home sales numbers, along with a second government report yesterday that showed a steep decline in orders for durable goods, were seen as pointing to a softening economy.

But the numbers did little to reassure investors hoping that the economic data would encourage the Federal Reserve not to raise interest rates when it meets next month.

With consumer prices on the rise and fears of inflation growing, many investors worry the Fed may raise rates for the 17th consecutive time in two years.

The new housing data appear to confirm what many economists have already said: as real estate speculators bow out of a peaking market and mortgage rates rise, the torrid pace of home sales is cooling. Compared with last April, sales of new homes fell 5.7 percent.

Inventories are also rising, yet another sign of weakness in the latest housing data. At the end of April, the number of homes for sale reached a record 565,000.

With mortgage rates climbing, many economists believe home sales will decline this month.

If interest rates continue to rise, many homeowners who gambled on adjustable rate loans may find their mortgage payments increasing to unexpected levels. Foreclosures are on the rise in several areas of the country and may continue to accelerate as loans are adjusted to current rates.

Many in the Bush administration have been troubled by the lack of consumer confidence in what appears to be a healthy economy based on a number of indicators. I'm inclined to believe that the tepid sentiment reflects the awareness by many consumers that should interest rates continue to rise, they will find themselves with higher mortgage payments and an inability to refinance in order to withdraw the equity that has been used to fuel much of the economic growth. The average consumer realizes that wage growth and new employee demand has not driven their ability to increase spending.

I've long feared that we are operating in an artificial economy that cannot ultimately be sustained. Given recent signs of inflation, there may be mounting pressure to return to a more traditional and conventional monetary policy. How that may impact the economy is difficult to predict which in my view makes the recent economic policies all the more questionable. We have little historical data to predict the impact of the policies of the last several years. The next president may find that he or she will have to deal with the situation in Iraq as well as a troubled economy and a burgeoning national debt.

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2006 | 4:31 PM | link | Comments (4)
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Fred Barnes: Schill Plays The Gay Card genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

President Bush and fellow Republicans in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will appear in an event in the White House Rose Garden to express strong support for its passage according to an article in the Weekly Standard.

JUNE 6, 2006, is an important date, not only because it's the 62nd anniversary of D-Day. It's also the day the Senate will vote on the so-called marriage amendment, which would amend the Constitution to restrict marriage in America to a man and a woman.

It won't pass. A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House. When the Senate voted in 2004, the amendment got only 48 votes. This time, it's likely to get more--probably between 52 and 58--in part because a powerful and unusually ecumenical religious coalition is now backing the amendment. And President Bush, despite his wife Laura's admonition that the marriage issue ought to be kept out of politics, plans to host a pro-amendment event at the White House and speak out in favor of the amendment.

Thought Theater previosuly expressed the opinion that the apparent differences over the issue between Laura Bush, Bill Frist, and others was likely less about dissention and more about sending the necessary signals to various constituency groups.

The Weekly Standard article, written by Fred Barnes, goes on to point out that many Republican senators agree with Laura Bush that the issue should not be politicized and "requires a lot of sensitivity". Nonetheless, Senator Frist has moved forward with the scheduled debate and a likely vote. Again, I am convinced the Republican Party is simply playing the issue from all sides in order to appease those on the far right while also assuring moderate and liberal Republicans, the group with the biggest drop in approval numbers, that they are thoughtful and aware of the sensitive nature of the issue. Keep in mind that there is little doubt the measure will fail so the move to bring a vote is strategically motivated. Note the following excerpt:

Much of the conventional wisdom about the amendment and the marriage issue turns out to be wrong. For instance, the amendment is not being pushed by Republicans as a wedge issue aimed at dividing Democratic voters. Republican senators regard the issue as touchy and awkward.

Really? What's that little saying about a duck being a duck? Barnes conveniently goes on to connect the issue to the activist judge's rhetoric. The inference is that Republican's are being forced to confront the issue. I have no doubt this coy framing of the issue is entirely an orchestration by Karl Rove.

A second misconception is that it's sufficient for an elected official merely to declare his opposition to gay marriage. It's not anymore. The question now is whether an official will support efforts to block gay marriage from being imposed by judges at the federal or state level. And the way to do that in the Senate is to vote for the amendment.

The problem is not voters or legislators. They overwhelmingly support traditional marriage. Thirty-seven states have enacted laws in recent years--19 by referendum, the others by statute--to bar gay marriage. The problem is judges. On May 16, a Georgia judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, which had been enacted in 2004 with 76 percent of the vote. The judge seized on a technical point, ruling the referendum covered two issues, same-sex marriage and civil unions, and not one, as Georgia law required. In truth, the referendum was drafted to deal with one issue, the protection of heterosexual marriage. At least nine states face lawsuits challenging their traditional marriage laws.

Note how Barnes clearly establishes the courts as the problem and even goes so far as to use the words "in truth" when telling the reader the judge is wrong. Whose truth is Barnes referring to with that remark? Clearly this is a continued escalation of the attempt to undermine the authority of the courts to interpret the law...which by the way is solely their constitutional purpose.

In Nebraska as well, a federal judge on May 12 nullified a referendum barring gay marriage. And in Massachusetts, the state supreme court by a 4-3 vote imposed same sex marriage, basing its decision on a state constitution adopted centuries before gay marriage became an issue.

Here we see Barnes using the strict constructionist rhetoric that is frequently put forth by Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas. The suggestion is that anything not specifically mentioned in the constitution cannot now be adjudicated based upon new information or changing circumstances. That notion is ridiculous.

In response, the Religious Coalition for Marriage was formed specifically to back the amendment. [...] The coalition was created to put strong public pressure on both politicians and judges.

The coalition's initial statement said: "We take the unprecedented stand of uniting to call for a constitutional amendment to establish a uniform national definition of marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman. . . . This is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society."

Once again, Barnes seeks to point out that these good people are simply responding to the unwarranted actions of others in order to defend the will of the majority. Clearly he is wrong. The courts are not in place to simply support the will of the majority. Were that the case numerous instances of injustice would have remained in place far longer and may have potentially still been in place today. Anyone that believes that the Republican Party is in the midst of wholesale disarray might want to take another long hard look. This is full-on campaigning.

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2006 | 11:43 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Iraq: The Uncivil War genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The news out of Iraq over the weekend offered little encouragement that the establishment of a new government is directly connected to more stability or likely to lead to less violence. Two recent articles discuss the continued sectarian violence fueled by growing militia activity. Nir Rosen offers additional pessimism in a Washington Post article here and The New York Times reports that reserve troops stationed in Kuwait are being moved to western Iraq here.

From the Washington Post:

The sectarian tensions have overtaken far more than Iraq's security forces and its streets. Militias now routinely enter hospitals to hunt down or arrest those who have survived their raids. And many Iraqi government ministries are now filled with the banners and slogans of Shiite religious groups, which now exert total control over these key agencies. If you are not with them, you are gone.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 29 — The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there, two American officials said Monday.

Although some soldiers from the 3,500-member brigade in Kuwait have moved into Iraq in recent months, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has decided to send in the remainder of the unit after consultations with Iraqi officials in recent days, the officials said.

At the same time, with each instance that the Iraqi's engage in activities to further construct a government, the Bush administration touts the action as a key step in the Iraqi transition to democracy. Granted, the moves to form a government are noteworthy, but at some point these actions taken under heavily protected cover will have to translate into security and safety for the average Iraqi citizen. While the government is considering the number and type of armored vehicles to purchase for each elected official, the latter continues to move in the opposite direction.

From the Washington Post:

Sunnis and Shiites alike were pushed into the arms of their respective militias, often joining out of self-defense. Shiites obtained lists of the Baath party cadres that were the foundation of Hussein's regime and began systematically assassinating Sunnis who had belonged. Sunni militias that had fought the American occupier became Sunni militias protecting Sunni territory from Shiite incursions and retaliating in Shiite areas. The insurgency became secondary as resistance moved to self-defense. In the Shiite-dominated south, meanwhile, Shiite militias battled each other and the British forces.

Sectarian and ethnic cleansing has since continued apace, as mixed neighborhoods are "purified." In Amriya, dead bodies are being found on the main street at a rate of three or five or seven a day. People are afraid to approach the bodies, or call for an ambulance or the police, for fear that they, too, will be found dead the following day. In Abu Ghraib, Dora, Amriya and other once-diverse neighborhoods, Shiites are being forced to leave. In Maalif and Shaab, Sunnis are being targeted.

The world wonders if Iraq is on the brink of civil war, while Iraqis fear calling it one, knowing the fate such a description would portend. In truth, the civil war started long before Samarra and long before the first uprisings. It started when U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad. It began when Sunnis discovered what they had lost, and Shiites learned what they had gained. And the worst is yet to come.

From the New York Times:

The movement of the brigade comes as several senior American officials in Iraq have begun to raise doubts about whether security conditions there will permit significant troop reductions in coming months.

"General Casey has been working with the government of Iraq, and he has asked permission to draw forward more forces that will be operating in Anbar," a senior military official said. The officials were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to talk officially about continuing troop movements.

One senior American commander said recently that military officials still remain hopeful that they can reduce the troop presence in Iraq by 25 percent by the end of the year, but he admitted that there was no timetable and much of that hope rests on the performance of the fledgling Iraqi government in coming months.

It seems apparent that the Iraqi forces are not prepared to assume the responsibility for security. Further, the Iraqi forces that are functional may have become so sectarian in nature that they may simply add to the violence as groups seek to assume power and purge areas of opposition populations. The fact that the training of the Iraqi forces was late in its execution and fully inadequate likely gave local militias the necessary opportunity to infiltrate and assert influence over newly forming government forces. See prior Thought Theater postings here and here.

The question that I keep coming back to is what will it take to have an Iraqi government and security force to control the violence and settle the sectarian conflict when it cannot currently be contained with the presence of the full U.S. deployment combined with the reportedly growing and functional Iraqi military? If one were to assume that the Iraqi forces are nearing an equal level of ability as the U.S. forces, then by any mathematical calculation we are still only half way towards the goal of concluding that the Iraqi forces are able to assume full responsibility for the security of the country. Further, it has taken in excess of three years to reach this point. Again, mathematically that would indicate we may be as far as three more years away from the reality of full U.S. troop withdrawal. Lastly, all of these assumptions are reliant on the hope and belief that sectarian issues do not grow, that terrorist insurgency remains relatively stable, and that neighboring countries refrain from attempting to exert additional influences. I'm going to need a little more time to adjust my optimism.

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2006 | 8:12 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 27, 2006

George Bush: Shades Of Richard Nixon? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I just don't get it. Has this administration put something into the water of those they employ that makes them prone to bad judgments and unexplained acts of arrogance and incompetence? As I read that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his second in command, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and others within the Justice Department, had threatened to resign if they were forced to return documents seized from embattled Congressman William Jefferson's office, I scratched my head in wonder. Just to be clear, while Jefferson is innocent until proven guilty, I am inclined to believe he has broken the law and is fully deserving of all appropriate punishment. My remarks are not intended to defend him.

At a time when the President is experiencing the lowest polling numbers of his presidency, what would possess any appointee to make such a statement? What could possibly be gained from such a precipitous action? As I began to think about the possibilities, it struck me that those answers may provide the best insight into the tone and tenor of this presidency and how this circle of selected warriors view all those who are outside their privileged and proprietary perimeter. Is this apparent war mentality that pervasive? If so, where did it come from?

I've written before about some of the possible explanations. Unfortunately, I keep coming back to the President and his state of mind. Earlier this morning I was listening to Jonathan Turley, nationally recognized legal scholar and professor at George Washington University. He went on at length about the constitutional ramifications of the actions of the Justice Department in executing the search and seizure of documents from Congressman Jefferson's office. However, what caught my attention was his comment that this President began to push for the broad expansion of executive powers well before 9/11.

I suddenly remembered a paper I had written many years ago about Richard Nixon...a couple of years after his resignation. Recently, I ran across the paper in a box of old documents although I didn't read it at that time. After listening to Turley, I pulled the paper out of the storage box and read it for the first time in decades. The comparisons to George Bush were astonishing. I won't reproduce the paper here as it was nearly twenty typed pages, but I offer the following points in order to draw the necessary comparisons.

Both men seemed to have closer relationships with their mothers than their fathers and both mothers doted over and frequently defended their sons. Much of what I read about Nixon in sourcing the paper seemed to indicate that his mother had a significant influence in his life. As I compare this to George Bush, it seems to be the same. When President Bush speaks about toughness, he has often referenced his mother. When asked about consulting his father for advice, few can forget his remark that he instead consulted the heavenly father. Similarly, Nixon's mother is often the parental influence cited when reading about the former president.

While little can be concluded from these observations, one can put forth the argument that George Bush has a tepid relationship with his father...one that was characterized by a son who followed in his fathers footsteps but rarely achieved the same successes. In many ways, I view their relationship as competitive and I suspect that Barbara Bush has often been the arbiter. One is left to wonder what part this dynamic may have played in the motivation and justification to invade Iraq. As with much of psychology, little can be proven. Nonetheless, sometimes when one strings together enough information it can remain inconclusive but it can also be powerfully convincing.

Both Nixon and Bush were driven to achieve success and both struggled in their early efforts although Nixon had a rather charmed childhood as an excellent student…he was an accomplished debater, and he had a much clearer set of goals. Both demonstrated erratic behavior that seemed to be characterized by periods of highs and lows.

Nixon's first political opponent, Jerry Voorhis, stated after being defeated in a campaign filled with attacks, "Mr. Nixon had to win. Nothing else would do at all. I had not yet grasped the idea that what was good for Richard Nixon must be good for the U.S." In contrast to George Bush, I don't recall reading that Nixon asserted his decisions were made with guidance from God. Nonetheless, both men demonstrated a stubborn certainty in the decisions they made despite evidence to the contrary.

Winning was important to both men and their early political careers were similarly checkered with hardball campaigns that often focused on attacking the other candidates. Nixon often accused his opponents of being sympathetic to communism and routinely cited the voting records of his opponent to make the assertion...despite often having cast many similar votes. I've previously written about the alliance of George Bush and Karl Rove that spans the bulk of Bush's political career. I'm convinced they are both driven to win and have the same attack instinct that does not hesitate to discredit the opponent. There are numerous examples that support this observation.

In one particular speech during the Eisenhower - Nixon candidacy, Nixon stated, "Ninety-six percent of the 6,926 communists, fellow travelers, sex perverts, people with criminal records, dope addicts, drunks, and other security risks removed under the Eisenhower security program were hired by the Truman administration." I was immediately drawn to the comparison to the swift boating of John Kerry. Granted, elections are dogfights...but the tactic of dismantling the opponent’s cornerstone of credibility seems to be a clear objective.

When Nixon ran for president in 1960, he sought to appeal to all Americans...not unlike the strategy used by George Bush to appear as a compassionate conservative who would be a uniter, not a divider. Both men made measured calculations to win election and sought to connect with common folk...eager to be likable and magnanimous...all the while fostering campaigns to discredit the opposition. Crafting a majority coalition remained the driving force and principles were not allowed to impede the effort.

During Nixon's successful run for the presidency in 1968, he and his staff used television to their advantage. The campaign scheduled some ten events before Republican clubs and organizations. The groups were handpicked and coached. They were instructed when to applaud and even to rush to surround Nixon at the conclusion of his remarks. Reporters were not allowed to attend these events. The campaign was quite regimented and concise and repetitive answers were given to each topical question. The similarity to the Bush campaign strategy, including the many scripted and staged events, is remarkable.

Once elected, it was clear that Nixon lacked knowledge of the mechanics of governance. As an expert political strategist and partisan operative, he surrounded himself with a select group of trusted advisors. Most of these advisors had little experience in government. Rather than transitioning to running the country, he seemingly continued to function as if still engaged in a campaign. Again, the comparisons are obvious.

Once in office, Nixon began to concentrate executive power and authority. He was isolated from contrary opinions and held fewer press conferences than any of his predecessors. At the same time, he sought more structured television time than those who previously occupied the White House. He demanded conformity from his staff and sought to bypass congress when considering policy decisions. Quoting from my paper, "It was within his trusted staff, if not within his own mind, that decisions were made." Again, the similarities are abundantly apparent.

Returning to the present situation with regards to the office of Congressman Jefferson, while the entry to this office was likely not illegal (although some contend it wasn't consistent with the constitution), it is fraught with the same questionable judgment that went into the Watergate break-in. Was the motivation to enter the office driven by a grave concern as to the significance of what might be found (keep in mind there are existing methods to obtain the desired access...although it would have taken longer) or were these the actions of men who have lived in an environment rife with secrecy, suspicion and an unmitigated fear of all that is contrary to the prescribed order?

If Jonathan Turley is correct, then it appears that this administration is intent on consolidating power within the executive office in order to establish and maintain a new and dominant political order. Is it possible that six years in this administration has taken such a toll on the foot soldiers (otherwise thoughtful people) that they can no longer make rational judgments and decisions? Has the din of war drowned out the prudent restraint of dialogue and debate? Are there any limits that will overcome the execution of unprecedented actions that seek to exert power? Do the other branches of our government have the will and the integrity to challenge what may well be the greatest threat to our democracy since the actions of Richard Nixon led to a virtual revolt that forced his resignation?

George Bush has frequently sought to cast his legacy in with the likes of Ronald Reagan...and in the end history may well equate him with the notoriety of Richard Nixon. We can only hope that the miscalculations that allow for such divergent perceptions can be successfully overcome in the near future. The stakes are enormous.

Daniel DiRito | May 27, 2006 | 12:25 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Darksided: Trading Spouses Remixed genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

I found this video the other day while looking for a music video. It is kind of weird but I thought it was an interesting combination of the woman who went nuts on the television show Trading Spouses and criticism of the Bush administration and many of their policies. I thought it was creative to use the words of a "christian" fanatic to voice that criticism.

Daniel DiRito | May 27, 2006 | 10:02 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 26, 2006

Immigration & Assimilation: Can We All Get Along? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The issue of immigration has captured the attention of the American public. Those on both sides of the issue are passionate and vocal in expressing their preferred solutions. Having traveled throughout Europe in 2004, I learned that many of these countries have been dealing with their own growing influx of immigrant groups. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and other regional conflicts, many Eastern Europeans and North Africans have sought better security, jobs, and an improved standard of living in other well established countries. By comparison, the cultural and religious diversities they have encountered far exceed the American experience with the burgeoning influx of Mexicans. I found an interesting article on the difficulties associated with immigration and assimilation in The Hill. Some excerpts follow.

The six largest countries in the European Union are considering adopting an integration contract, proposed by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy at a G-6 meeting March 23, that would require immigrants to learn the language of their adopted country and accept relevant social norms or risk expulsion.

Integration processes often reflect one-way integration, in which the immigrant is expected to take the initiative to accomplish the level of integration that the state prescribes. However, in practice integration occurs as a two-way process: the state changes along with the immigrants it accepts.

For example, the United States has no formal immigrant-integration policy, other than a citizenship test requiring the demonstration of basic English language skills and knowledge of U.S. history.

Evidence suggests that integration is more successful when governments make education programs accessible and provide individualized integration plans.

The recent rise in perceptions of insecurity and deep social divides between immigrant and existing populations are prompting immigrant integration reform in most European states.

Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and parts of Belgium now all mandate integration. While tailored to the individual state, these programs generally require the immigrant to be able to speak a basic level of the host-country language and to learn the country’s culture and customs.

Not only are European states becoming more proactive about integration but, as these examples demonstrate, nearly all the changes being debated are moving these states’ models toward being more restrictive. The Dutch government is seeking to revolutionize the integration process by requiring pre-immigration “integration screening" in the country of origin.

Much of the immigration debate throughout the West focuses on security concerns given events like 9/11, the London bombings, the Madrid bombings, the riots in France, and the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands by a Muslim fanatic. Complicating the debate is the potential for fomenting hidden, though palpable, racist sentiments. Racism has been a topic of debate in Europe and many believe it has surfaced in the United States as the government has made a push to address the immigration issue.

Beyond security fears are public concerns about national identity. As globalization facilitates legal and illegal migration flows, a concurrent rise in public fears about changing national identity is occurring.

While such fears are often rooted in submersed racism, active integration policies are believed by the voting public to ‘protect’ the national culture, language, and identity.

Immigration also is perceived as a threat to the welfare state — even though the growth rate in most European countries probably would drop to near-stagnation if zero immigration were imposed.

The key risks in such immigration reform are the limitations of the models that states adopt. Indeed, at the same time as countries such as the Netherlands are shifting from multicultural to more assimilationist integration models, the failures of immigrant assimilation are becoming increasingly apparent.

Islamic immigrants in particular perceive policies such as the French rule requiring removal of conspicuous religious symbols in schools as a threat to their religious identity. Political rhetoric also contributes to these perceptions: Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk turned the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh into an integration issue, stating on the evening of the murder that “[failed integration] has gone this far, and it goes no further". Host country citizens may also blame failed assimilation on racial or religious differences, further exacerbating intercommunity tensions.

Indeed, integration is not achieved merely by labor-market and community participation; it also requires that the immigrant identify with and have loyalty to his new country. Mandating integration compels a speed of assimilation which may impede the developments of loyalty.

This observation is particularly interesting given the recent debate and passage of two bills that seek to identify the need to speak English as a key piece of assimilating into the American culture. During the debate, one of the arguments made was that successful integration was necessarily dependent upon the acquisition of a sufficient proficiency in English. Essentially, the point being made is that learning the language is in the self-interest of the immigrant. The article points out that mandating detailed programs intent on integration and assimilation runs the risk of actually creating resistance.

The article goes on to point out that security fears may be misplaced and misguided when countries attempt to mandate more stringent programs of assimilation and integration in the hopes of preventing terrorist activity.

Evidence suggests that most terrorists either are temporary visitors to the country or second-generation ethnic minorities — not aspiring immigrants. The Nixon Center reports that only 3 percent of known terrorists who have crossed Western borders since 1993 had permanent-resident status. Portraying long-term immigrants as a security threat may isolate them from broader society, inhibiting their integration.

If states were instead to focus on political assimilation — encouraging immigrants to accept the values of liberal democracies — while accepting cultural diversity, they would be better fitted both to reduce security concerns and to encourage immigrant identification with their new home. Managing integration programs effectively with this new goal in mind requires several key elements:

• Ideally, flexible and individualized plans for integration should be established for each immigrant as soon as possible after arrival, taking into account the main reasons the immigrant has moved, his/her cultural background, and the location to which s/he has moved.

• Integration fundamentally is a local process, and communities would benefit from funding to establish their own tailored integration programs.

• Political participation, such as the right to vote in local elections, can empower new immigrant groups.

• The strengths of tight-knit immigrant communities can also be leveraged to facilitate the integration process. Mentorship programs linking new immigrants with more experienced counterparts — such as exist for Somali youth in some U.K. communities — can strengthen community relationships.

• Perhaps most important, immigrants themselves are the best gauge of their integration needs. Encouraging immigrants to participate and contribute in planning for their own integration may be the best way to jump-start the process.

While an extreme analogy, all too often the integration and assimilation of immigrant populations is more akin to the zoo animal model than to a comprehensive program that humanizes immigrants beyond economic and political calculations. Evidence seems to suggest that such approaches run the risk of creating an outcome that is antithetical to the stated objective.

With regard to immigration, looking at the conflict and unrest that has surfaced in Europe may provide valuable insight and guidance as the United States begins this difficult debate. By comparison to many of the immigrant populations in Europe, Mexican immigrants have been peaceful and cooperative and are remarkably well integrated into the American culture. The decisions we are about to make may well determine if that will continue or if we will allow emotions, fear, and bias to hijack the process.

Daniel DiRito | May 26, 2006 | 11:37 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 25, 2006

Zip It: Don't Ask, Don't Tell genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Rove & Novak

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2006 | 3:59 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Military Discharge Of Gays On The Rise genre: Gaylingual & Just Jihad & Polispeak

The Los Angeles Times reports that military discharges of gays increased 11% in the last year. Read the article here.

WASHINGTON — The number of military members discharged under the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals rose by 11% last year, the first increase since 2001, officials said Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, said 726 service members were discharged under the policy during the 2005 budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with 653 discharges the year before. She released the figures after a gay rights group said it had obtained the statistics on its own.

I completely disagree with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and I find it curious that during this time of war that we can afford to lose qualified and trained military personnel. If I were into reading tea leaves, I might be inclined to believe the recent rumblings that the administration will reduce troop deployments in Iraq before the end of the year. Certainly the fact that this is the first increase in discharges since 2001 is a mere coincidence, right? Regardless, the policy is deplorable.

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2006 | 3:09 PM | link | Comments (0)
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May 24, 2006

Senate Moves Forward On Immigration Bill genre: Polispeak

The Senate moved to limit debate on immigration legislation which makes it likely that they will vote on legislation before the weekend. The final bill is expected to call for tougher border security and to provide an opportunity to obtain citizenship for many undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Yahoo has the full article here.

The vote to advance the measure was 73-25, 13 more than the 60 needed.

Despite the controversy surrounding the bill, the outcome was not a surprise. Even some of the bill's opponents said they were satisfied they had been given ample opportunity over past week to try and give the bill a more conservative cast.

Final passage would set the stage for a difficult negotiation with the House, which passed legislation last year that exposes all illegal immigrants to criminal felony charges.

In my opinion, the most critical element of the new legislation involves the inclusion of stiffer penalties for businesses that hire undocumented employees. In the last 20 years, the process of employee eligibility verification has become virutally meaningless. The new legislation contains the following provisions.

On Tuesday, the Senate called for tougher employer penalties on businesses that hire illegal workers. The vote was 58-40.

Employers who do not use a new computerized system could be fined $200 to $600. The system would include information from the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security Department.

There would be $20,000 fines for hiring illegal immigrants once the new screening system is in place, double the current maximum. Repeated violators could be sentenced to prison terms of up to three years.

Congress passed employer sanctions as part of the 1986 amnesty law, but they were never fully enforced and workers and employers got around them with fraudulent documents.

The House passed a bill in December that would impose fines on employers of undocumented workers ranging from $5,000 to $40,000. But, unlike the Senate bill, the House measure would require employers to screen all employees — an estimated 140 million people — instead of only new hires.

Daniel DiRito | May 24, 2006 | 9:51 AM | link
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May 23, 2006

Newsweek: New Bush Strategy - Containment genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Michael Hirsh of Newsweek offers some interesting observations on what he believes will be the new Bush administration policy of "containment" with regard to a number of persistent issues. Read the full article here.

May 22, 2006 - An old word is gaining new currency in Washington: containment. You may be hearing a lot more of it as the Bush administration hunkers down for its final two years. Containment of Iraq’s low-level civil war, which shows every sign of persisting for years despite the new government inaugurated this week. Containment of Iran’s nuclear power, which may lead to a missile defense system in Europe. Containment of the Islamism revived by Hamas and Hizbullah, by the Sunni suicide bombers in Iraq, as well as by the “Shiite Crescent"—as Jordan’s King Abdullah once called it—running from Iran through Southern Iraq and into the Gulf.

While Hirsh has identified the major issues in the middle east, one must also consider North Korea, the growing trensions with leftist regimes in South America, and much of the world's increasingly negatve perceptions of America and Americans (see this prior posting).

So today’s containment is a furtive policy being developed willy-nilly behind the scenes, as Bush’s pragmatic second-term officials seek to clean up the vast Mideast mess left by the ideologues who dominated in the first term. A series of cautious concepts similar to those that came to dominate the cold war are emerging as the least worst way of holding off powerful forces that are also going to be around for along time: disintegration in Iraq, expansion in Iran, Islamism all over.

According to U.S. officials, Maliki failed to fill the critical defense and interior ministry posts over the weekend because every well-known candidate was deemed too sectarian or too associated with militias. As a result, whoever is chosen, it is becoming clear that Maliki’s government will likely become a government of nobodies—in other words, inoffensive but weak individuals.

So the very best that can be hoped for in Iraq, probably for many years to come, will be a non-bloodbath, a low-level civil war that doesn’t get worse than the current cycle of insurgent killings and Shiite death-squad reprisals. This is bad, but it could be much worse. Containment, says one Army officer involved in training in Iraq, is at least "doable." He adds: "The only real question is: How do we keep Iraq from becoming a permissive environment for terrorists."

The New York Times reported Monday that the Bush administration hopes to establish an antimissile site in Europe design to forestall Iranian attacks. (Shades of the cold war). “I think you could describe our approach as containment," says a senior U.S. official.

Whoever becomes the next president will inherit most of these problems—and, it is likely, the policy of containment as well.

The biggest problem with the new embrace of containment in this era, of course, is that it is largely unconscious—and it has gone unacknowledged in public. It may be time to call it by its name.

As I finished reading the article, one thought immediately entered my mind. In 2008, as the country will be in the midst of electing a new president, could the campaign language of the Democrats be as simple as asking the question, "Are you living in a safer world today than you were before 9/11?"

If that's the case, then the outline of the Bush legacy will be clearly in place. What will have begun as a worldwide sanctioned war on terror...then morphed into a manifesto to export democracy to the oppressed nations of the world after the invasion of Iraq...then became a failed effort to create a functional democracy in a country plagued by sectarian conflict...then became a containment policy reminiscent of the cold war where more rogue regimes possessed nuclear capability, the middle east became more unstable, Islamic extremists grew exponentially and gained influence in more countries, and South America turned sharply left. Unfortunately, that merely covers the foreign policy legacy. The domestic legacy may be equally unsettling.

If I were asked in 2009 to provide a short summation of what went wrong, I believe I already have the answer I would offer. George Bush was a man focused on legacy...unfortunately his focus came from a preoccupation with looking backward instead of looking forward. Obsessed with not repeating the mistakes that led his father to serve but one term, he was unable to separate the decisions he encountered from the fears he embraced.

He wagered his legacy on political strategies that were singularly guided by the goal of retaining a majority constituency. He partnered with the similarly motivated and equally obsessed Karl Rove to establish, exert, and retain power. They approached their goal with a fervor not seen since the presidency of Richard Nixon. In the end, George Bush will likely serve the remainder of his second term. Nonetheless, he will be seen to have won a number of battles but when all is said and done he will have ultimately lost the war.

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2006 | 3:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Senator Clinton Offers Energy Plan genre: Polispeak

New York Senator Hillary Clinton offered her thoughts on a comprehensive energy plan today at the National Press Club in Washington. Bloomberg has the full story here.

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton attacked the Bush administration for ``do-nothing policies'' on energy and called for a national fund financed by oil companies that would be used to develop alternative energy sources.

Her proposals, combined with increased conservation, could reduce America's oil consumption by almost 8 million barrels a day, or 50 percent of projected imports, by 2025, Clinton said.

Clinton, whom polls show is coasting to re-election this year, proposed that America produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and that tax credits be used for that purpose.

``There is so much money to be made from this,'' Clinton said. She praised General Electric Co. ``for its extraordinary commitment to a new energy future'' by manufacturing and selling $3.5 billion worth of wind turbines this year.

Referring to a scheduled meeting on June 2 of Bush and the chief executive officers of the Big Three U.S. automakers, Clinton challenged all sides to increase car fuel efficiency standards and come up with the help Detroit needs to ``insure that the cars are designed and built'' in the U.S. ``This is one of those moments that cries out for presidential leadership,'' she said.

The current difficult energy situation seems like an issue Democrats could use to their advantage in the upcoming midterm elections. However, I'm inclined to think it will take more than blaming the Bush administration for high gas prices to take advantage of the issue. Given the administrations past oil industry connections, it is a topic where Democrats could draw some further distinctions between Democrats and Republicans while maintaining the public's focus on the waning credibility and trustworthiness of the President and his party. Many Democratic strategists have been hesitant to see the party offer comprehensive policy initiatives, but I think energy may be one area where just the opposite could be quite effective.

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2006 | 2:16 PM | link | Comments (0)
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May 22, 2006

American Image Continues Decline Abroad genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Evidence continues to mount that the world holds an increasingly negative view of America and Americans. In the past, polling seemed to indicate that many abroad held a dislike of American policies but remained favorable towards the American citizenry. Unfortunately, that distinction seems to be evaporating. According to an article from the Newhouse News Service, "America's image problem is pervasive, deep, and perhaps permanent, analysts say - an inevitable outcome of being the world's only superpower." Read the full article here.

WASHINGTON -- The United States has often irritated the rest of the world, but lately it's gotten worse -- and more dangerous.

In increasing numbers, people around the globe resent American power and wealth and reject specific actions like the occupation of Iraq and the campaign against democratically elected Palestinian leaders, in-depth international polling shows.

Polls now show an ominous turn. Majorities around the world think Americans are greedy, violent and rude, and fewer than half in countries like Poland, Spain, Canada, China and Russia think Americans are honest.

"We found a rising antipathy toward Americans," said Bruce Stokes of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which interviewed 93,000 people in 50 countries over a four-year time span.

This new trend towards a diminished distinction between American policies and the sentiment of the American voter is one I witnessed while traveling abroad. I began my trip in November of 2004 just after the election. Numerous individuals asked me what the American public was thinking in reelecting President Bush. The not so subtle insinuation was that the results raised doubts as to the thinking and judgment of the American public. Time and again I pointed out the closeness of the vote and the deep divisions that characterized the election...but I saw skepticism each time I attempted to outline the nuances.

In talking with numerous individuals throughout Europe, I was repeatedly asked what was happening in America. The general line of reasoning seemed to be an assertion that in reelecting George Bush, it was increasingly difficult to give Americans the benefit of the doubt. The growing resentment was palpable despite my explanations. As I've said in other postings, I don't condone the across the board generalizations that I did encounter...but I do accept the growing cynicism. On the bright side, I found that most people were willing to engage in a rational give and take dialogue.

Almost half of those polled in Britain, France and Germany dispute the whole concept of a global war on terrorism, and a majority of Europeans believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. More than two-thirds of Germans, French and Turks believe American leaders lied about the reasons for war and believe the United States is less trustworthy than it once was.

Asked where to find the "good life," no more than one in 10 people recommended the United States in a poll conducted in 13 countries, Kohut said. More popular: Canada, Australia, Britain and Germany. Only in India did the United States still represent the land of opportunity, he found.

The United States spends about $1 billion a year on international broadcasting and the public relations campaign it calls "public diplomacy," run out of the State Department by former top Bush campaign operative Karen Hughes.

As I've tried to digest the long term implications of this data, it seems clear to me that the outcome in Iraq and the region will have a huge impact on the future perceptions of America and Americans. Despite the growing opposition to the war by a majority of Americans I fear that, absent a favorable outcome, all Americans will be held accountable in the eyes of many around the world. Whatever supply of goodwill we may have previously held is now perilously limited. That's unfortunate.

Daniel DiRito | May 22, 2006 | 9:43 AM | link | Comments (1)
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May 21, 2006

Progressivism: Myths & Realities genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

We hear abundantly about the netroots and the progressive nature of the blogosphere and yet I find myself asking what denotes a progressive movement? The dictionary defines progressive as, “making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities…and...one...

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2006 | 5:19 PM | link | Comments (4)
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May 20, 2006

Clift: Too Late For Bush To Be A Centrist genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The current debate on immigration reform has brought focus to the conflicting and confusing politics of George Bush. In the current issue of Newsweek, Eleanor Clift explores Bush's position on immigration reform and his lost opportunity to be a centrist...

Daniel DiRito | May 20, 2006 | 8:03 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 19, 2006

The Daily Show: Howard Dean genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2006 | 3:08 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Iraq: Middle Class Melt Down genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Since failing to find WMD's in Iraq, the Bush administration has made the exporting of democracy to oppressed countries a key talking point when explaining the invasion. We routinely hear about the 25 million people who were freed and given...

Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2006 | 8:38 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 18, 2006

Scalia: Foreign Legal Decisions Not Relevant genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia continued his criticism of the consideration of foreign legal decisions when reviewing U.S. constitutional issues. Generally speaking, Scalia has a point if it were true that such considerations were overruling the U.S. Constitution. In fact,...

Daniel DiRito | May 18, 2006 | 10:14 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Bush Tax Cuts: Pay Now Or Pay Later genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

President Bush and many Republicans have hailed the bill extending the reduction in capital gains and dividends as an important measure to keep the economy growing. Missing from the analysis is the impact that such tax reductions actually have on...

Daniel DiRito | May 18, 2006 | 8:02 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 17, 2006

SPLC: Immigration Debate Fueling Racism genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Southern Poverty Law Center has an interesting article on their site about the impact of the increasingly heated immigration debate. You can find the full article here. Prior Thought Theater postings on the immigration issue can be found...

Daniel DiRito | May 17, 2006 | 4:20 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Al Gore: The Rapture Wrecker genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Think Progress has a posting on the roll out of a campaign supported by big oil companies to downplay the role of global warming and to paint some as alarmists. Included in that group would be Al Gore. Read...

Daniel DiRito | May 17, 2006 | 2:11 PM | link | Comments (0)
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GOP Poll Numbers: That Empty Feeling genre: Polispeak

The latest Washington Post - ABC News poll shows that voters are increasingly dissatisfied with the GOP controlled government. Some 69% say the country is not headed in the right direction while 56% would like to see Democrats control...

Daniel DiRito | May 17, 2006 | 8:26 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 16, 2006

Mary Mary Mercenary genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 6:32 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Nuclear Option: GOP Backing Down? genre: Polispeak

A recent push by the GOP to bring the issue of judicial appointments to the forefront has once again raised the question of the "nuclear option". The term is the name given to the possibility of changing the rules to...

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 10:58 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Rove & Bush: Catching The Big One genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I’ve noticed a strange confluence of events that has piqued my inherently cynical curiosity. Given my fascination with Karl Rove as a political strategist, some of what I’m seeing makes me increasingly suspicious. I have come to believe that Rove’s...

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 8:02 AM | link | Comments (4)
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Specter Backs Down: Reliably Unreliable genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

True to form, Senator Arlen Specter has agreed to remove the teeth from his bill that is intended to clarify the legality of the NSA surveillance program. The key provision would have forced the administration to bring the program before...

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 7:56 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Gitmo List Raises Questions genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Where oh where can they be? The Pentagon has released a list of all the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay In Cuba; however none of the known high profile individuals appeared on the list. The absence of these well known...

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2006 | 7:27 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 14, 2006

Al Gore: A Subtle Observation genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Al Gore appeared on Saturday Night Live last night. Crooks & Liars has video here. I enjoyed the skit but I wanted to share an observation that struck me as I watched his performance. Of late, Al Gore has made...

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2006 | 10:01 AM | link | Comments (3)
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Terror Management: A Warning To Democrats genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Since the revelation that the NSA surveillance program includes the widespread collection and review of domestic telephone activity there has been a great deal of debate. Today’s release of the Washington Post – ABC News poll seems to demonstrate that...

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2006 | 7:30 AM | link | Comments (11)
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May 12, 2006

Pakistan Gave Iran Advice On U.S. Attack genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Managing alliances is a complicated proposition. Since 9/11, many believe the U.S. has done a less than stellar job in that regard. Today in an article by the Associated Press, it appears that even countries we currently count as "friendly"...

Daniel DiRito | May 12, 2006 | 1:00 PM | link | Comments (1)
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May 11, 2006

Down & Out In DC: Bush At Low Of 29% genre: Polispeak

President Bush's approval rating has dropped to an all time low of 29% in the latest Harris Interactive poll. WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- U.S. President George W. Bush's job approval rating has fallen to 29 percent in a...

Daniel DiRito | May 11, 2006 | 9:36 PM | link | Comments (1)
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FBI: 2,000 Corruption Investigations In Progress genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The New York Times reports that the FBI currently has some 2,000 investigations into public corruption. This includes the Abramoff and Cunningham cases. Read the full article here. From the New York Times: As one of the Bush administration's least...

Daniel DiRito | May 11, 2006 | 12:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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NSA: Phone Records & Security Clearances (Update) genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

UPDATE: Senator Arlen Specter indicates he wants the telephone company executives named by USA Today to testify regarding their participation in the NSA surveillance program. Specter is known for blustering on the front end of issues...we will see if he...

Daniel DiRito | May 11, 2006 | 7:04 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 10, 2006

Fineman: Rove's Revamped GOP Strategy genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

There is a good article by Howard Fineman on the strategy plans of Karl Rove for the upcoming midterm elections. You can read the entire article here. The big question that remains is whether Rove will have the opportunity to...

Daniel DiRito | May 10, 2006 | 3:01 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Changing Population Demographics & Immigration genre: Indie-Script & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Hispanics remain the fastest growing segment of the American population. Despite what many may assume, the bulk of that growth is fueled more by births than by illegal immigration. The information comes from newly released census bureau information. The full...

Daniel DiRito | May 10, 2006 | 12:15 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Slip Sliding Away: Bush Approval 31% (Updated) genre: Polispeak

UPDATE: The New York Times has an article today that indicates the administration has decided that the Medicare prescription drug benefit will provide votes during the midterm elections in November. In the original part of this posting, I highlighted the...

Daniel DiRito | May 10, 2006 | 8:46 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 9, 2006

HUD Secretary Possibly Broke The Law (Updated) genre: Polispeak

UPDATE: Secretary Jackson's office has issued a statement that the story he recounted in his speech was simply "anecdotal". "He was merely trying to explain to the audience how people in D.C., will say critical things about the secretary, will...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2006 | 3:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Down Low: Bush At Record Low Of 31% genre: Polispeak

In the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, President Bush sank to a new low approval of just 31%. You can read the details here and here. Given the constant stream of negative news and additional issues of corruption, it...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2006 | 3:12 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Bush Administration: Highs And Lows genre: Polispeak

With the administration hovering at all time low approval ratings in several recent polls, we now hear that the Republican controlled House is seeking to again increase the national debt ceiling; this time to 10 trillion dollars as part of...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2006 | 11:07 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Politics Over Science: The Abstinence Push genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

An email from the office of an Indiana congressman to the Department of Health and Human Services prompted the Center for Disease Control to alter the previously peer reviewed panel for an upcoming conference on sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). Those...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2006 | 7:49 AM | link | Comments (1)
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May 5, 2006

Porter Goss Resigns genre: Polispeak

Porter Goss, the Director of the CIA has resigned. No replacement has yet been named although an announcement is expected shortly. UPDATE: President Bush has just announced the resignation of Porter Goss. Goss was only on the job since his...

Daniel DiRito | May 5, 2006 | 11:48 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Tumblin' Tumblin' Down: Bush At 33% genre: Polispeak

President Bush continued his string of record low approvals in the latest AP-Ipsos poll. Only 33% of voters surveyed approved of the Presidents job performance. The President's approval among conservatives continued to erode. Six months out, the intensity of opposition...

Daniel DiRito | May 5, 2006 | 8:48 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Bill Maher: International House Of Flammable Flags genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Reuters is reporting that the Senate moved closer to the passage of an amendment to allow congress to prohibit the burning of the American flag. Some excerpts from the article follow as well as a satirical skit that aired on...

Daniel DiRito | May 5, 2006 | 8:03 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Red State, Blue State: White Knuckles? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Hal Varian of The New York Times reports on a recent paper by two Harvard economists about the significance of the red state, blue state divide. The full article can be found here. The following excerpts are highlights of the...

Daniel DiRito | May 5, 2006 | 7:35 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 3, 2006

"Tit For Tat": Part II genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The following is a posting by John at AMERICAblog. The basic issue is that a gay friend of John's was fired by Howard Dean shortly after the partner of the fired man wrote a letter objecting to the lack of...

Daniel DiRito | May 3, 2006 | 2:28 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Immigration: The "Tit For Tat" Mentality genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

When I was in high school, I used to occasionally write for the school paper. At the time, I never wanted to write a regular column on a scheduled basis. I wanted to write when I was moved by an...

Daniel DiRito | May 3, 2006 | 12:14 PM | link | Comments (4)
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May 2, 2006

Berlusconi Throws In The "Moppina" genre: Polispeak

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has finally submitted his resignation thereby acknowledging his narrow defeat in the election held last month. Despite resigning, Berlusconi is expected to remain active in Italian politics and will likely make it difficult for incoming...

Daniel DiRito | May 2, 2006 | 9:13 AM | link | Comments (0)
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May 1, 2006

Biden: Divide Iraq Into Autonomous Regions genre: Polispeak

Senator Joe Biden [D] of Deleware suggesting Monday in an Op/Ed piece in The New York Times that it may be necessary to divide Iraq into autonomous sectarian segments in order to bring stability to the struggling country. You can...

Daniel DiRito | May 1, 2006 | 7:08 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Karl Rove: The Final Campaign? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I've grown increasingly convinced that the current administration has one defining problem. They know how to run a campaign; not a country. Secondly, I have my suspicions as to why. The answer may be nothing more than two words...Karl Rove....

Daniel DiRito | May 1, 2006 | 11:14 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Exporting Democracy: An Oxymoron? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

We hear a lot from the Bush administration about Democracy. President Bush has often said that “Democracy is on the march". When talking about the spread of democracy, he often goes on to say that freedom is sought by all...

Daniel DiRito | May 1, 2006 | 5:16 AM | link | Comments (1)
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