Six Degrees of Speculation: Archives
Philosophers have long debated the question, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?". In these moments of economic peril and in light of our advancing animosity, perhaps the question should be, "Are there any angels in America?". Better still, "Could today's anarchists be tomorrow's angels?".
At this unprecedented economic juncture, the inertia that accompanies our adherence to accepted, acrimonious, and antiquated algorithms has, by attrition, abrogated the principles of osmotic parity that have the potential to prevent our collapse...a collapse that would undoubtedly be defined by our dogmatic deification of unchecked political capitalism...a lecherous linking that history would likely depict as the opportunistic and incestuous appetite of the "ruling" class to copulate with corporate concubines in order to share in the symbiotic perks of prostitution that permeate the shameless pursuit of power and profit...absent a sufficient appreciation for the ameliorative aspects of altruistic governance and the shared success it should support.
When government is little more than the means to obtain or hold political power, it has become, by its very existence, the prevailing argument for the initiation of anarchy.
The aforementioned dysfunctional formulation of governmental "order" is antithetical to the symmetry oft associated with the social contract defined by our forefathers. As such, one can reasonably argue that our recent and rampant self-serving configuration of capitalism may well precipitate the initiation of anarchy as the means to destroy an unintended and unabated disease.
In this current conflation of chaos...a top of the pyramid chain letter economy powered by a Ponzi scheme psyche...perhaps anarchy (disorder) can actually be the means to "order"...an antidote that purges political prevarication...a virtual vaccine that seeks to supplant a systemic infection whose signature symptom is a seemingly endless urge to usurp utilitarianism.
The virulent nature of this virus leads many to seek the leverage that accompanies the disparate distribution of power and profit. It transforms those it touches into careless arsonists who peevishly persist in passing it on...thus acting as accelerants for an approaching anarchy.
Those in the media who promote political pettiness in order to insure the flow of dollars to the kingpins of corporate capitalism simply serve up the obnoxious oxygen that insures the ignition of inequity. Instead of enabling erudition, their lamentable locution does little more than circumvent any commitment to cerebral acuity or empathic expression.
In its final iteration, capitalism unchallenged becomes the hemlock of homage to the advancement of ad hominem histrionics that serve as a shortsighted and circuitous sheepskin shell designed to disguise the dogged drive for the lion's share of the spoils...despite the derivable certainty that such shenanigans assure the anarchy that an adherence to such an ideology will undoubtedly advance.
In the 1993 Broadway play, Angels in America, the perilous and poignant promise of Kushner's millennium is exemplified as a society of individual's who, despite their awareness of their ailments and the attendant adversity, come to celebrate diversity despite its innate complexity...embrace redemption and reconciliation regardless of their unequivocal elusiveness...and endure their ongoing agony in the hopes of occasional ecstasy. His notion of the future is predicated upon the simple theory that our destination emerges when our dances of deception are dutifully debunked.
Fate is the fallacy of fools. The maelstrom of the millennium no longer approaches...it has arrived. We must shape tomorrow or it will consume us. What began must end. The future is now...or it will never be. Choice is the wisdom and the wherewithal to adopt anarchy when the continuation of the status quo insures its inevitability.
Tagged as: Anarchy, Angels In America, Capitalism, Economics, Humanity, Politics, Tony Kushner
Daniel DiRito | February 23, 2009 | 9:21 PM |
| Comments (1)
In Beckett's "Waiting For Godot", time is both passed and suspended in anticipation of arrival. Neither the passage of time or the thoughtless suspension of its value is a worthwhile endeavor...yet so much of the human condition is spent accordingly.
Fortunately, the ebb and flow of life frequently compensates for this miscalculation and we are rarely forced to face the futility of our allegiance to being unaware.
At the same time, history, in retrospect, has meticulously recorded such periods of ambiguous angst with the application and affirmation of a seemingly all-encompassing "ism" of merit. Sadly, we humans rarely understand our migration from one "ism" to the next...at the moment it transpires...frequently leaving us in the same suspect and suspended scenario as those waiting for the transformational Godot to arrive.
America, in its quaint yet quixotic commitment to the courtesan we call capital "ism", is being confronted with such a stretch of meaningless moments...waiting anxiously and aimlessly for the arrival of someone or something to remove the paralysis that permeates our propensity to participate in the chain letter economics that powers our Ponzi scheme psyche...even though we "share" in the ironic experience of watching our pyramid collapse under the weight of its own egocentric and ignoble ideations.
Two events provide perspective on our predicament - one a calamity and the other a harbinger of hope. The former, 9/11, brought us together long enough to offer consolation and condolences before scurrying out the door with our credit cards and the cash created by our homage to home equity high jinks...in hopes of perpetuating perceptions rather than recognizing realities.
The latter, the safe landing of an aircraft on the Hudson river and the preservation of every single passenger's life, allowed us to reconnect with the principals and perseverance associated with the mythical America and the essence of the collective spirit that had come to define it...all of which evaporated so quickly following 9/11.
Here's the problem. Today, Captain Sullenberger's landing on the Hudson is no longer just a job well done or an act of American stick-to-itiveness; rather it must be morphed into an extraordinary act of unexpected hero "ism"...a deed beyond the pale...an act of selflessness in a society all about the self. In America, tragedy is synonymous with litigation and triumph with accolades...both of which have material enrichment as their expected outcome. Hence American decency is but a function of fault or fame...not an intrinsic component of character.
As such, in this dark hour of economic uncertainty, the core constructs of capital "ism" still trump our actual ability to embrace the noble identity that gave it life. Like spectators at a Gladiator match, we sit on the sidelines of our "Super Bowl" society admiring the exceptional athlete or the precise pilot...ever focused on the means and methods to our own nascent notoriety...never mindful of the inevitable intersection of motivation and moral maturity.
Let me be clear, when I mention moral maturity, I am not invoking an absolutist ideology or an adherence to religion; rather I'm imploring us to understand the essence of our shared humanity. Moral maturity is not the means to superiority...it is the simple act of enabling and embracing equality in lieu of cachet and celebrity. In fact, doing so not only fosters an appreciation of altruism over the accumulation of assets, it disarms the drive for deification by substituting the satisfaction of service for the seemingly endless search for the satiation of selfishness.
Should there be any doubt as to the dubious nature of our situation, and therefore our ever expanding and suspect sense of entitlement, look no further than the latest Gallup Poll on the merits of the President's stimulus plan. Only 38% of respondents believe the stimulus plan should be passed as proposed by Barack Obama. Another 37% are in favor of a stimulus plan but they believe it must include major changes.
While the majority of Americans favor Congress' passing some type of stimulus plan, there is remarkably little confidence on the part of the public that the plan would have an immediately positive impact on the U.S. economy. Americans are also pessimistic about the plan's potential positive impact on their own families' financial situations.
There's only one way to interpret these numbers. Self-interest is the primary motivation that drives debate in America. Confronted with the worst economy since the Depression, and an uncertain future, most Americans cannot view the stimulus plan absent the bias of the status quo...and most of our elected officials must be included in this group. The shortsightedness is astounding.
A comparison may help explain my concerns as well as my contention that capital "ism", in its current form, is no longer viable. Let's start by assuming that our economic situation is dire. If so, then one should be able to construct a scenario to evidence the gravity of this moment as well as the complacency that has grown out of our commitment to the tenets of capital "ism" as they have existed since the Watergate years.
For this exercise, let's assume that NASA has identified an asteroid heading towards earth in ten years and that its trajectory puts the U.S. at great risk. Now suppose that in response, our government decides to establish safe shelters in all major metropolitan areas. Logically, one should be able to presume that Americans will get behind the effort and pitch in to insure that the country is prepared for the worst. One should also be able to expect that individuals will put self-serving objectives aside in hopes of achieving maximum safety and survival. In other words, while some people might feel slighted by the placement of shelters...or other aspects of any response plan...the gravity of the situation undoubtedly dictates that such concern is set aside in order to work towards a collective solution to an anticipated crisis.
Notwithstanding, I'm of the opinion that our adherence to a "me first" mentality may well preclude our ability to react effectively to this or any other plausible threat. Therein lies the inability to visualize the risks of maintaining our seemingly insolent and intransigent mindsets. You see; the instincts we momentarily demonstrated in the aftermath of 9/11 still exist. Unfortunately, the fact that we so easily slipped back into more of the same doesn't portend well for addressing the current economic crisis...a crisis that is more than a glitch in the U.S. economy...a crisis that won't be solved by imploring Americans to go shopping...a crisis that is the leading edge of a reordering of the world and the manner in which we humans serve as stewards of this earth...and therefore whether we will be purposeful proponents for the ongoing existence of humankind.
The fact that so many of us latched onto the "Miracle on the Hudson" as a tangible measure of the enduring human spirit serves to illustrate the paradox we seem so unwilling to acknowledge. On the one hand, we marvel at the fact that a trained pilot was able to land an airplane on water...yet we forget that absent years of training...a concern by the flight crew for the safety of their fellow man...and finally...the presence of wings...it not only couldn't have successfully landed on the water...it would have been unable to support and sustain the 155 individuals who stood upon those wings while waiting (and believing) that kind and compassionate passers-by would come to their aid.
America is a plane in trouble...but our fate need not be dependent upon the heroic acts of a select few. At the same time, we must be wise enough to listen to those who may have more insight. This plane of ours will never achieve a safe landing if each of its passengers demands their turn in the cockpit...regardless of ability. The role of being a good citizen is also an act of hero "ism"...even if it means sitting quietly in coach while the pilot brings us to safety or helping an elderly passenger make their way onto the wing once the plane has landed.
America can no longer wait for our Godot to arrive. We needn't a savior or a heroin...we needn't aspire to the adulation we believe accompanies a seat atop the pyramid...we needn't support or negate our leaders based upon political ideology...Godot is every man and every woman...Godot is merely a belief in each other predicated upon the notion that we grant the humanity we seek...Godot need not come if he is already here...Godot does not exist if we need him...humanity does not exist if we betray it.
If we humans are too survive, it's time for us to wing it...which is nothing more than believing that the service of humanity floats all boats...as well as the plane in which we are all passengers. Fighting over the stimulus plan while the plane is crashing is absurd. Human "ism" may lack the glitter and glamour of capital "ism"...and it may mean less in a few pockets but more in most...but it may well be the only remaining "ism" of consequence.
Its merits will never be fully known if its value is never fully affirmed...yet it has always been there for us to accept. If it isn't adopted in the here and now, history will fail to recognize and record it. You see, in the absence of humanity, there is no future. If there is no future, there will be no history. In the end, all "isms" lead to the same destination. We can travel willingly or we can jeopardize our very existence. The waiting must end...the wings exist. There's room for everyone.
Tagged as: Beckett, Capitalism, Civilization, Economics, Godot, Hudson, Humanism, Obama, Politics, Sullenberger
Daniel DiRito | February 4, 2009 | 2:02 PM |
| Comments (1)
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In stating as much, they omit the fact that the absent heart may be neither fond nor profound. Hence in many cases I suspect it is but momentarily vacant. Such is the explanation for my period of absentia from blogging.
With that stated, my return to writing is an exercise in conflict. Specifically, in the aftermath of the November election, I've been in search of vision...the ability to see beyond my own malaise in order to capture the essence of the existential angst that envelopes my own psyche and leads me to conclude that all is not well in the evolving identity we define as the human condition.
In order to offer insightful observations on this or any other subject, I frequently travel the only path I've found fertile enough to germinate a glimmer of advancing awareness...isolation. You see, I'm convinced that the momentum of our fundamentally mundane and mechanical morass is the very means by which we find ourselves disconnected from that which can keep us traveling towards a more meaningful and noble destination...a more perfect humanity and the sustaining spirit that would invariably accompany it.
The election of Barack Obama, on its surface, incites hope, which is as it should be. On the other hand, the circumstances that led a majority of Americans to effect his election require a more thorough examination...one that respects, retains, and relies upon the missing elements alluded to above...that being both the curiosity and the cynicism necessary to move us forward while simultaneously forcing us to question the prudence of our precarious path...the one we've traveled to get here as well as the one we're still walking.
Let me be clear. In stating my clearly cautionary pessimism, it should not be construed as an indictment of our newly elected president or his aspirations for our advancement, which he so artfully outlined during an inspirational campaign.
Notwithstanding, in light of our unprecedented economic uncertainty, I suspect we are a society and a world in the throes of an inevitable sea change...the kind that history so aptly tells us has the potential to signal the death knell of an antiquated "ism" or to embolden the emergence of one that has not yet been defined. At the same time, history also tells us that the gravity of these tipping point events is rarely identified at the time of arrival.
For the seeker...a moniker to which I aspire (redundant and ironic)...travails and time are intertwined in an effort to envision what exists around the bend while lacking tangible evidence. It's the equivalent of reading a book and predicting the ending without having read the intervening chapters...a feat that defies logical construction yet one that is achieved and that is frequently recorded by historians as the astute observations of a visionary...all of which illuminates the unfortunate predicament of the seeker.
The seeker assumes the role of a prism...demonstrating a willingness to see what went before, endeavoring to receive it as real while hoping to tease essence out of its obviousness in order to emit something that is more than the sum of its observable parts...only to be defined as an instrument of distortion...despite the fact that the vision that the prism (the seeker) emits is wholly constructed from reality...though ordered in ways that defy convention and incite accusations of engaging in acts of incantation or pessimistic prognostications.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite expressions, "Everything's shit...until it isn't". The prism realizes that the reverse is equally profound, "Nothing's shit...until it is". Those who are able to ascertain these moments of transformation are met with ire in the here and now...and then...at some point in the distant future...the still blind byproducts of humanity's persistent progeny proclaim the prescience of the prism...and history's equation remains intact.
Unfortunately, the seeker rarely has the satisfaction of witnessing the affirmation of his or her hypothesis. Death has long since consumed what remained of his or her human form. As such, all that is the tragic nature of the human condition is affirmed in a legacy of legitimacy never lived...though dutifully recorded years hence by virtual stone tablet statisticians in a surreal semiconductor society.
The heart stirs...though the circuitous circumlocution of the human condition remains elusive. A bend approaches...the seeker seeks.
Tagged as: Capitalism, Death, Economics, Humanity, Politics
Daniel DiRito | January 22, 2009 | 3:13 PM |
| Comments (3)
Many elections are bittersweet. 2008 was no exception. While celebrating Obama's historic election, California voters were dashing the dreams of LGBT children throughout the world. Today, they doubt voters will ever grant an LGBT candidate the same defining moment of acceptance.
When we're young, life is immeasurable and expansive. As we leave the coddled confines of our childhood, it is the equivalent of the snail emerging from its protective shell to explore all that exists in the grand garden of life...eager and idealistic...hopeful to a fault in the absence of unforeseen obstacles and disappointments...unaware of the protective nature of the domicile we depart.
My journey began in 1976 as I graduated from The Abbey School. Two years prior to my graduation, I made a decision I recall announcing in our kitchen to my mom, "I won't be the valedictorian of my class...that's not what's important to me...but I'm going to win the Sullivan Award". I can't even say exactly how she reacted though I believe it was part surprise and part puzzlement at such a specific pronouncement. Once she absorbed my statement, she observed that grades weren't everything and, by and large, left it at that.
The Sullivan Award was given at graduation to the high school student who contributed the most to student life during their four years of attendance. While an esoteric achievement, it fully symbolized my sense of community and my unyielding belief in the promise of humanity. On a warm summer day in front of the towering monastery...as a member of the esteemed 50th graduating class...in the centennial year of Colorado's statehood and the bicentennial year of this nations existence...I received the Sullivan Award...and all was well in my idyllic world. My dreams had come true.
In a few short months, while attending college, I cast my first vote for Jimmy Carter and life was my oyster. Much to my dismay, little else would measure up for many years to come. Aware of my homosexuality, but determined to suppress it, I decided to quit college after three years and return home to work with my dad and his brother.
On the surface, the decision had the appearance of a considered choice, but in retrospect, it was motivated by my fear that should I remain in college, the opportunities to pursue my orientation would overwhelm my hesitations and preclude the remainder of my smoldering dreams...not the least of which was the political arena and the fanciful notion that the presidency was within the realm of possibilities.
In hindsight, my actions had little to do with choice and everything to do with being a Catholic raised in a small community where the thought of being gay struck my psyche as nothing more than a perceived and fully unacceptable pathology...the kind that not only precludes one from social acceptability...but most certainly eliminates any fanciful ideas of the presidency.
Yes, the little boy of five (who vividly remembered every detail of the assassination of John Kennedy...including the faces of those he encountered as he entered Safeway with is father after having heard the news on the radio)...and the boy of 10 (who watched every speech and every primary in the candidacy of Robert Kennedy...including anxiously getting up early in the morning to see if he had finally been declared the winner of the California primary...only to realize he was dead)...and the teenage boy (who watched the Watergate hearings with an intensity reserved for a member of the prosecution...up to and including the moment when Richard Nixon...the antithesis of his idealism...finally boarded a helicopter and released the presidency from the egregious grip of corruption)...had by the age of 21 found himself feeling as if fate had stripped him of his dreams.
Four years later, following countless hours of contemplation and with the realization that I had now lived a lie for a quarter of a century...I met a man and fell in love. Soon after, I allowed myself to accept my sexuality, announced it to my family, and on the spur of the moment...on a summer afternoon...with my relationship with my family in ruins and all that remained of my seemingly shattered life hastily tossed in a pickup truck...I moved to Denver.
Ever the idealist, abundantly naïve, and convinced that acceptance...or at least some simulation thereof...would undoubtedly come by affiliating with other homosexuals...I jumped headfirst into being gay. Unfortunately, doing so while attaching oneself to a lover is apt to end up being little more than an act of misguided transference. Should one be unlucky enough to choose, in haste, the wrong partner or the wrong affiliations, the process of separating oneself and completing the task of attaining a sound and self-sufficient identity can appear to be an insurmountable struggle.
In retrospect, it's terribly saddening that gays...during the coming out process...the moment they most need support...are often required to summon a strength they most likely lack in order to accept and understand the rejection they encounter from those they love. Toss in the abject scorn that much of society heaps upon homosexuals and you have a rather rancid recipe unlikely to bake an ebullient and unencumbered identity.
Not to belabor my bad choices or appear to be seeking sympathy, suffice it to say that I spent the next eight plus years attempting to grow into the 25 I had missed. Emboldened by a new job and an expanded support system, I ended my relationship and began the process of becoming myself.
Living in Denver under the newly received protections afforded to those of my orientation, the trajectory of my life seemed to be in sync with my dreams...all be they far more modest than majestic. Sadly, such synchronicity was short-lived. In November of 1992, pleased by the promise of a potential Democratic presidency, the arrow identified as Amendment Two sat waiting in its quiver, poised to puncture my improving peace.
As election night approached, Shangri-La seemed within my grasp. Bill Clinton appeared a certain victor and the polls suggested Amendment Two was headed for a handy defeat. Sitting in front of my television, the trajectory of my evening was torn into two...split apart...one half buoyed by the good returns in the presidential race; the other sinking fast in the realization that the good voters of Colorado had unleashed their coy attack upon my civil rights while cowered in the confines of the ballot box.
Like an unhealed wound, the announcement that Amendment Two was projected to pass tore it open and left me in anguish, alone on the floor...bleeding tears. How could it be that I'd found myself again at that oh so familiar juncture...lulled into a sense of safety and security...clinging to my trust in the decency of the human spirit...only to be clobbered by that brazen beast I'd come to know as bigoted bias.
As I pondered the sudden sense that my good job and the comfort of my support system were seemingly insufficient, the television announced that it was cutting away to the Democratic Party's election watching headquarters where a group of gays had stormed the stage to protest the lack of support that had allowed Amendment Two to succeed. Soon word came that the police had been summoned...then word that prior to entering the venue to escort the intruders out, the police officers had stopped to don latex gloves...inferring their fear that the unruly crowd would most certainly be infected with the hideous HIV virus.
In short order, more and more gays arrived and the uncertainty of the moment escalated and the protest grew. In an instant, I grabbed my coat and ran out the door to join my brothers and sisters. With nothing to lose, I knew there would be comfort in the kinship I would find. By the time I arrived, the crowd had grown even larger. Soon word came that Mayor Webb had been notified and summoned to calm the crowd.
Not long after, the mayor arrived and spoke to the crowd...offering words of consolation and expressing his willingness to explore the options afforded to the city of Denver to fight the Amendment. In order to defuse the moment, he asked the protesters to follow him to the State Capital Building where we could continue to voice our anger. We did...but there was little relief to be found that night.
The battle to defeat Amendment Two ensued...culminating four years later when the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down. In truth, it took us four year to fully reclaim the ground we'd obtained in prior years. The victory was sweet, but the time was gone and the scars would fade, but never disappear.
Life moved forward and the plight of gays improved, though we've remained the object of derision for many...especially those on the religious right. In 2003, as we approached another election and the prospect of Supreme Court appointments that could well preclude the rights of gays for another generation, I grew weary of my career.
The passage of years served to remind me of the pace of progress...or the lack, thereof. Unsatisfied and unfulfilled, I began unwinding a 14-year career without a plan for the future. Instead of accepting the certainty of what was, I chose the uncertainty of what could be...though I had no idea what it was or where to find it. You see, try as one might, the absence of something is always known...no matter how full the cup.
Something told me it was time to look again. I informed my boss that I would be leaving the company once my house sold. Fate would have it that my departure would coincide with the 2004 election. I sold my house and the bulk of my belongings in late September...having decided to embark on a trip around the world. I scheduled my departure for November 5th, three days after the election.
At the time, I was guardedly hopeful that America would turn away from the politics of division and the scapegoating of gays. It turns out I was wrong, but I still felt invigorated by the prospects of the unknown. Absent any long-term plan, I packed my bags and left the shores of the United States. All I knew for certain was that my journey was limited to one year as a stipulation of the round the world ticket I'd purchased.
What I learned in my nearly four month trek was that the image of the United States had become increasingly tarnished and the reelection of George Bush had cast a doubt in the minds of many that his troubling presidency might well be indicative of the disquieting mindset of the average American...a development few of those I met wanted to conclude though they felt it seemed far more plausible given the November second results.
When I returned, the only thought that kept repeating in my head was that I had something to say and I needed to find the means to say it. Against the backdrop of fear for our future under GOP domination, the further faltering of this nation should that happen, and the festering fury being directed towards gays, I decided to launch a blog.
From my little corner of the world, I've disseminated my fair share of missives; ever hopeful I could exert some measure of influence in redirecting this country. All the while, I've had a sense that America was on the precipice of a pendulum swing away from the partisanship of "compassionate conservatism" (code words for the politics of theology) and ready to embrace the kind of real compassion that engenders moderation.
I had no idea that the man who spoke truth to me during the 2004 Democratic Convention would be the one to carry this torch of hope into the 2008 election. At the same time, I had no way of knowing that the 2008 California ballot would include a measure designed to remove the right of gays to marry (Proposition 8).
Last night, like clockwork, my next succinctly timed sixteen-year squall struck with little notice. While celebrating the fact that Barack Obama was elected president, an amendment was being passed in California to deny my gay brethren equality. From 1976 to 1992 to 2008, the vignettes of my life have brought both symmetry and sadness. In 1976, I celebrated my membership in the fiftieth class to graduate from The Abbey. In 2008, I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. At each juncture, my prevailing pursuit has been the unconditional acceptance of my identity as a homosexual. At each juncture, it has been denied.
On November 5, 2008, my dreams have been dashed and my hopes have been passed to another man of color. In 1992, Wellington Webb took my hand and led me towards inclusion on a cold and dark night...carrying a No On Two placard...carrying the weight of sixteen years of exclusion. In 2008, Barack Obama has been handed the torch as well as thirty-two years of my exclusion.
In the passage of this last sixteen years, those carrying my torch have succeeded in transforming the dreams of their fellow African Americans from the possibility of being the mayor of a major city to the reality of being elected to the presidency of the United States. Many times Barack Obama has spoken about the meaning and the message that would be imparted to black children should this nation see fit to elect an African American president.
It's too late for me to dream so big for myself...but it's not too late for those who may be sixteen or thirty-two years behind me. Today, I dream of the day when my gay brothers and sisters can place their hope in a gay candidate...one who carries the torch for them and speaks of the meaning and message that would be imparted to LGBT children should this nation see fit to elect a LGBT president.
As I await the next storm to appear upon the sea of my sixteen year horizon, I'm still waiting...I'm still seeking...I'm still hoping...I'm still dreaming...I'm still dying. On November 5th, 2008, in the wake of another election, I'm still on the outside looking in.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bill Clinton, California, Gay Marriage, Homophobia, Jimmy Carter, LGBT, Proposition 8, Racism, Same-Sex Marriage, The Abbey School
Daniel DiRito | November 5, 2008 | 6:00 PM |
| Comments (1)
By now, we've all heard countless talking points on the issues and the significance of the 2008 election. Unfortunately, in a country where political surrogates are kept on script, there is little opportunity to hear alternate explanations of the issues at hand.
In the following video, Jerry Springer, former mayor of Cincinnati, provides another perspective on the role of government and how it relates to the oft heard labels that are indiscriminately attached to parties and their candidates.
I realize that the mere mention of Jerry Springer can invoke thoughts of the village idiot...but I've always found him to be a well-spoken and very insightful individual with a keen understanding of human nature. Frankly, his gift is his ability to understand the village idiot. In a country with 300 million inhabitants and a world with a population approaching 7 billion, an ability to make such discriminations and discern essence from ignorance seems like a valuable asset.
Watch the video and I'm certain you'll have a newfound appreciation for Springer as well as an expanded understanding of the appropriate role of government...with the righteous and rigid rhetoric removed.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Jerry Springer, Progressive
Daniel DiRito | November 3, 2008 | 10:47 AM |
| Comments (3)
With more than ten days to the election of a new president, it's probably premature to attempt to decipher the missteps of the McCain campaign. At the same time, given the theatrical nature of the candidates erratic endeavor, it's not unusual for critical reviews to precede the cancellation of a poorly constructed production. The fact that the dogged director assumed it would be possible to indiscriminately insert and remove actors as if they were interchangeable only exacerbated the inevitable panning of the performances.
As I've sought to define the differences between the McCain and Obama campaigns, I've been forced to return to the issues of authenticity (believability) and character construction. It strikes me that the McCain campaign's prevailing problem has been an inability to portray the presence of either. Instead, those in charge have lurched to and fro while latching onto a litany of incoherent cameo caricatures.
One late appearing actor precipitated my decision to predict that the lights would soon be switched off on what may well be recorded as one of the most disjointed debacles in political theatrics. Enter Joe the Plumber with nary a week's worth of rehearsal, an unvetted vitae absent an iota of acting experience, and a hastily assembled set of scripted lines. John McCain's decision to write Joe into his debate dialogue and make him a fixture of his final act only attached an exclamation mark to his dubious and drama filled fiasco.
In short order, it became obvious that Joe the Plumber was miscast and unable to carry the arc of McCain's suspect story line...a stilted path that might evoke an abundance of pathos were it not the result of a reckless commitment to disassemble comity while utilizing an inordinate amount of conflict to carve out a constituency critical to his campaign's continuance. Sadly, the use of Joe the Plumber hasn't been any more authentic than the other tactics employed by the message challenged campaign.
From the outset, Joe's words didn't sync with his circumstances, and thus, rather than support McCain's effort to inject a much needed pivot point into his script, the plumber without papers simply highlighted the suspicions that John McCain's ambitions had eclipsed his ability to adhere to authenticity. In truth, if his goal was to attach a name and a face to an "everyman" meme, he needed to find one that fit. Instead, the haste with which he selected Joe undermined his sincerity; making him look more manipulative than measured.
Take a look at one of Joe's most recent remarks.
In an online chat session, a participant asked Joe the following question:
Hi Joe. If you are making the average plumbers' salary, you will get a greater tax break under Obama ~4x greater than McCain as well as an education credit to get your plumber's license. Will this help or hinder your dream of owning your own plumbing business? When you do start your business - according to your business plan - when do you anticipate personally clearing greater than $250,000 income/year?
This was Joe's answer:
Whether or not his tax plan, as he states it today, would help me, it still comes down to principles. I don't want someone else's hard earned money. How can you be sure they're not going to change their minds and decide you make too much money and want to take more of it to "spread" to someone else. Unfortunately, as much as Obama says he wants to help out small businesses, this small business opportunity is now dead.
As I read the answer, I was struck by the last sentence in which Joe suggests his small business opportunity is now dead. Rather than bring clarity, all I could wonder was why? In stating as much, he only accentuates the degree to which his situation is consistent with McCain's seemingly incoherent message. In retrospect, not only was Joe's original question of Obama an abstraction, it now seems as if it were little more than a stunt. As such, nothing McCain sought to demonstrate through Joe has felt real, which means Joe was just another in a long string of McCain's curious contrivances.
As one attempts to draw conclusions, it's the difference between lauding the believability of an Academy Award performance and laughing at the overdone and obtuse affectations of an actor in a "B" movie. The latter has been the nature of the McCain campaign while the former equates with the error free execution of Barack Obama's candidacy. This contrast leads us to see McCain as increasingly inauthentic while Obama's consistency strikes the observer as all the more genuine.
In the end, it's all about the audience. In John McCain's effort to pander, he has underestimated the profundity of the patrons, which meant his play and it's performers appeared superficial and suspect. Instead of invoking an air of inspiration, it left his audience hungry and unfulfilled...with more questions than answers...with more doubt and less hope.
As November 4th approaches, the critics are beginning to speak. In short order, the scarcity of ticket sales will begin to sink in. As the curtain is lowered for the last time, the lights will go dim and darkness will signal the death of a dismal drama. It's time to cue the finale.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Joe The Plumber, John McCain, Sarah Palin
Daniel DiRito | October 24, 2008 | 5:47 PM |
| Comments (1)
Oh how I love irony! My frenzied friends on the right have done their damnedest to portray the Obama's as snooty elitists...despite the fact that it's the McCain's who own seven homes, thirteen automobiles, and a virtual department store of haute couture for Cindy to show off on the campaign trail.
None of this should come as a surprise since the GOP has spent the last three decades pretending to care about the interests of the common man. With the emergence of the maverick McCain-Palin reformers ticket, that persona has been put on steroids...championing the likes of Joe Six-Pack, Joe The Plumber, and Tito The Construction Worker.
Unfortunately, it's not that easy to play a caribou killin' moose burger eating mom, with a doggone down home dialect, when one is dressed up in 150K of name brand clothing purchased with campaign funds. It's especially problematic when just days earlier your rabid right ring rottweiler's are pushing a story about Michelle Obama partaking of a delectable dinner fit for an airing on an episode of Robin Leach's "champaign wishes and caviar dreams" Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
So here's the problem...it turns out the Michelle Obama story was false...shooting a huge hole in the efforts to paint her as none other than an angry and arrogant African American manifestation of Mommy Dearest meets Leona Helmsley.
From The New York Post:
The source who told us last week about Michelle Obama getting lobster and caviar delivered to her room at the Waldorf-Astoria must have been under the influence of a mind-altering drug. She was not even staying at the Waldorf. We regret the mistake, and our former source is going to regret it, too. Bread and water would be too good for such disinformation.
Now cue the creation of Caribou-Barbie-wears-Christian-Lacroix (yea, that's close enough for Vic the Voter to draw a connection to hockey's Pierre Lacroix, right?) and you begin to see the sweet irony that comes with exposing those whose expertise is found in concocting ill-conceived illusions.
The Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.
According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.
The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.
The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.
Politico asked the McCain campaign for comment, explicitly noting the $150,000 in expenses for department store shopping and makeup consultation that were incurred immediately after Palin's announcement. Pre-September reports do not include similar costs.
Spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to answer specific questions about the expenditures, including whether it was necessary to spend that much and whether it amounted to one early investment in Palin or if shopping for the vice presidential nominee was ongoing.
Think about it...when Sarah Palin asked us to imagine the difference between a hockey mom and a Pit Bull, we foolishly believed it was limited to lipstick. Well, we now know it includes skirts and suits, handbags and high heels, dresses and designer wear, and anything else one can buy on a paltry allowance of 150K.
Not to worry though, John McCain and Sarah Palin plan to share the pie with the two Joe's and Tito and Vic...that's what Republicans do when they cut taxes for all of Robin Leach's BFF's. A word of caution to the wise though...you better stay alert...I wouldn't want you to miss out on a few of the crumbs when they fall off the table.
Tagged as: Barack Obama, GOP, Hockey Mom, John McCain, Michelle Obama, Pie, Pitbull, Robin Leach, Sarah Palin, Waldorf-Astoria
Daniel DiRito | October 21, 2008 | 7:05 PM |
| Comments (16)
I can't recall when I've detested a political candidate and his proteges as much as I do John McCain and his clan of contemptible claptrap kooks. Richard Nixon is the only other one that comes to mind, however my disdain for all things McCain is different...and much deeper.
You see, in many ways it's easier to accept the fact that Nixon was a garden variety crook than it is to accept that John McCain is nothing more than an inauthentic and self-serving fraud of a man with a Napoleon complex and an ego that is more fractured than his POW pulverized appendages.
McCain's manipulative "if only" mindset is little more than a manifestation of an impetuous and irascible man stuck in a state of perpetual adolescence. Each time I hear him explain away the tenor and tone of his campaign with "if only Barack Obama would have agreed to weekly town hall debates, it would have been different", I'm reminded of the degree to which this impish brat of a man believes the world revolves around him.
Frankly, the patterns have been there his entire life. I can practically hear the thin-skinned rationalizations that have taken place within his thick skull...especially the one that told him, "if only Carol (his 1st wife) hadn't gotten disfigured in an accident, he wouldn't have had to commit adultery and leave her". Were he merely a punk with a purpose, one might even find the means to restrict judgment. Unfortunately, he's far worse, which warrants unrestrained repudiation.
I've never had patience for those whose actions recklessly and indiscriminately impact and alter the lives of others. It seems to me that we live in a world where the flaws of the few are all too often forced upon the many. It's even worse when these weasels employ others in executing their self-centered subterfuge. John McCain's campaign is littered with these individuals and their endless instances of insolence. Yes, these participants do not deserve our respect and they should bear responsibility for their actions, but I've always reserved the lion's share of my contempt for the willful instigator. John McCain has earned that disgusting distinction.
In recent days, McCain has chosen to push his divisive rhetoric even further...virtually calling Barack Obama a socialist intent upon dismantling capitalism. In doing so, he has further fueled the fears of his followers such that they equate Obama with a terrorist, with treason, and with a belief that he is a danger to this country. Creating such an atmosphere of anger and anxiety may well earn Senator McCain a place in history reserved for the likes of Joe McCarthy. If it does, it will have come at the expense of his honor.
The following videos represent the handiwork hatched at the behest of John McCain...handiwork that will undoubtedly live on beyond the termination of his troubling campaign. His ambitions may well be the harbinger of havoc and they could easily serve as the seeds of an era of heightened hostility.
In the first video, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann "turn-her-over...drive-a-wooden-stake-through-her-darkened-soul" spews incendiary innuendo designed to incite fear and division in order to further the goals of a GOP that has parlayed partisanship into power...and co-opted Christianity to control their duped disciples...transforming both into a disgusting deal with the devil.
Bachmann would have listeners believe that the U.S. is under siege from foreign influences intent upon destroying democracy and dismantling our way of life. In espousing as much, it is actually Bachmann and her ilk who seek to supplant our societal structure and transition voters into the tools by which it is achieved and affirmed.
In the second video, McCain campaign spokesperson, Nancy Pfotenhauer, proceeds to draw lines of demarcation intended to pit one group against another...laying the groundwork for good versus evil; legitimate versus illegitimate. The ease with which the words roll off her tongue demonstrates the virility of the infection and the degree to which the disease has taken hold.
In the final video, Sarah Palin puts forth the notion that the United States is divided into pro-American areas, which therefore, by omission, serves to define those areas that are neither patriotic or permissible in the party of John McCain and his mindless minions. In fact, her words are fuel upon the fires of those who may well feel justified to reject the results of an election...or carry out acts intended to undo those results...all the while convicted that it is not only their right, but their duty to do so.
Crass as this may sound, I'm sick and tired of listening to these frickin' fraudulent Jesus freaks trying to stuff their specious shit down my throat. If a progressive tax rate (which we have had for decades) is un-Christian, then Jesus was a jerk and a socialist. You can't have it both ways.
Frankly, these fools need to pull the priggish poles, upon which their petulant pin heads are perched, right out of their righteous rectums. As soon as they're done doing that, they can mount their mother frickin' snow machines and their straight talkin' express mobiles and head for the holier-than-thou hinterlands...you know...the rapture ready "I can see Putin from my porch" kingdom of caribous, moose burgers, and Miss "you can kiss my ass" Alaska.
If Jesus is due to return shortly, I'm afraid "my friends" who have chosen to adopt and advance the mendacious mindset of John McCain may find themselves on the outside looking in. Then again, that probably won't happen since Jesus isn't apt to be as mean-spirited as John McCain.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Capitalism, Joe McCarthy, John McCain, Michelle Bachmann, Nancy Pfotenhauer, Richard Nixon, Sarah Palin, Socialism
Daniel DiRito | October 18, 2008 | 2:18 PM |
| Comments (2)
I've been rather quiet of late...feeling I had little new to offer on the presidential campaign. Frankly, I'm of the opinion that more words aren't always wise words...so I often need time to ponder in the hopes of finding the right words. Having watched the final presidential debate, a couple things became evident and noteworthy.
By and large, pundits and political strategists have been seeking the means to understand the McCain campaign's strategy in light of its seeming inconsistency. There seems to be an inclination to view this as a function of mismanagement or incompetence.
I think that's an oversimplification that ignores the underlying adherence to ideology on the part of his handlers...an ideology that has blind intransigence at its core and believes the end justifies the means...an ideology that jumped the proverbial shark when its adherents became convinced that yesterday's successes should guide their present pursuits and thus assure their future relevance.
It's important to understand the why and how of this misguided mindset...as well as the motivations that led John McCain to make it his own. That brings me to a telling comment made by John McCain in the first debate. Take a look at the video.
While the topic being discussed at this juncture in the debate was the war in Iraq, it is a perfect metaphor for what ails John McCain, his campaign, and the Republican Party. When McCain asserts that Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy, their collective house of cards is exposed...as is their vulnerability.
Here's the point. We can argue about the motivations for the war in Iraq, but there is little doubt that a number of the failures we experienced resulted from the calculated conflation of political strategy and military tactics on the part of the president and his minions. At the time, fear (as a result of 9/11) served to supplant the rationality and reasonability of the public and enabled the Bush administration to utilize the war as a cynical tactic in a political strategy. Hence, the Bush administration's strategy in prosecuting the war became a series of tortured political considerations.
Truth be told, the decisions and actions of the GOP, and George Bush in particular during the bulk of the last eight years, have been the by-product of fabrication and falsification. At the same time, the use of similar methods to victimize John McCain during the 2000 presidential primary set in motion his own amorphous transformation towards embracing the thoughtless pursuit of ideological purity for political gain. That transformation facilitated a flawed belief that his succession to the presidency was a linear equation.
In other words, McCain incorrectly concluded that if A plus B led to the election and reelection of George Bush, it would also lead to his victory in 2008. Unfortunately, he failed to consider the fact that variables can easily alter the validity of any equation...let alone one primarily constructed upon contrivance. John McCain's reliance upon many of the ideologues who cut their teeth crafting this mathematical myth only served to insure his ideological surrender, indoctrination, and his inevitable inability to intuit otherwise.
In the end, John McCain's campaign has therefore become a string of tactics absent a strategy. Without the constraining constancy of the fear fomented by 9/11 as its ally, his message became a muddled mix of momentary manipulations that has now fallen upon deaf ears. Efforts to employ fear as his cornerstone have left his house of cards uninviting...and without a formula or a foundation to build upon.
Adding to his apparent misfortune, John McCain also appears prone to an ego that personalizes everything he encounters. In doing so, he's not inclined to internal examination or engaging in thoughtful review of attendant circumstances; rather he's more likely to strike out and blame others. The fact that he so easily personalized the "hurtfulness" of the words of John Lewis, while seemingly ignoring the gravity of derogatory and dangerous remarks directed towards his opponent at his campaign's rallies, reinforces my contention and underscores the existence of his externalized one-sided persona.
In today's political environment, that makes him appear more like a surly and stubborn old man falling tragically upon his own sword than a wise wizard with the wherewithal to remove a sacred sword from a stone in order to assume his righteous role. The juxtaposition of tragedy and fantasy may well typify the extent of his disconnected duality...and therefore his drama-filled demise.
As I've watched McCain navigate these three debates, he has seemingly made the transition from a flummoxed politician, fumbling his handler's lines, to an agitated and boorish bully who indiscriminately hurls bricks of bitterness at the object of his ire. When it's all said and done, the man who asserted that he put country first has become the victim of his own ambition.
His willingness to embrace the expediency of ideology, while ignoring the fact that the enemy of one's enemy may not always be one's friend, may have driven his downfall. John McCain chose to surrender his honor in the hope that he could hire one enemy to defeat another...without properly gauging the dynamics of the moment or the merits of executing an encore of 2004 in the shadow of 2006.
Perhaps John McCain needs to examine and redirect a few of his anger-laden bricks in order to begin the process of rebuilding an authentic identity...one that isn't reliant upon the triviality of transparent tactics. Something tells me the task of constructing a sound and secure structure, premised upon self-awareness, will be a lengthy and painful project for the senator. Then again, until that happens, I fear his heart will be haplessly hollow.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Debate, George W. Bush, Ideology, Iraq, John McCain, Politics
Daniel DiRito | October 16, 2008 | 10:15 AM |
| Comments (1)
Keith Olbermann calls John McCain out on his feigned outrage at the remarks of Congressman John Lewis. Yes, a number of pundits and politicians believe Lewis went a step too far...but then again...who knows better how narrow the line between rhetoric and violence may actually be than a man who lived through historical examples wherein that line was crossed in the blink of an eye.
John McCain and Sarah Palin can justifiably claim that they don't share any of the virulent animosity George Wallace often exhibited...however...should their tacit acceptance of outrageous outbursts at their events precipitate the violence Lewis seeks to warns against, it will be difficult for them to avoid culpability. In that potential, the comments of Congressman Lewis may well be appropriate, poignant, and prescient.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, George Wallace, John Lewis, John McCain, Keith Olbermann, Racism, Sarah Palin, Special Comment, Violence
Daniel DiRito | October 14, 2008 | 9:29 PM |
| Comments (0)
As we move closer to the election, I've witnessed a phenomena that has only recently begun to make sense to me (by the fact that it doesn't make sense). First, I have to hand it to my Republican friends...their tenacity in creating tangible talking points out of thin air is unmatched.
Let me provide an example before I attempt to draw the connection between the manner in which they analyze and strategize elections and the predisposition of some Christians to promote intelligent design over evolution.
Over at the National Review, flummoxed politicos are desperate to craft a salient narrative to leverage John McCain back into a position to win the election. What they fail to realize is that their lurching from one idea to the next is simply supporting the Obama mantra that John McCain and the GOP are erratic. Take a look at the following.
From Jonah Goldberg (Part One):
I have no idea whatsoever if there's merit to this, and if there is how much merit, but lots of email like this:
When are people going to start talking about the REAL reason the markets are down - Obama up in polls. If I was McCain, I'd start telling people, "If you want to lose more money, vote Obama."
From Jonah Goldberg (Part Two):
Now, it's far more likely that the causation and correlation suggested by some readers is backward: the markets tank for non-political reasons and Obama does well as a result, rather than Obama does well and then the markets tank. Still, I think Pethokoukis' point that Obama's success may make investors more pessimistic about the future has some plausibility to it.
Finally, it sounds like this reader has it right (and I should correct a bunch of emailers who seem to think I was suggesting McCain blame Obama for the crashing markets, which I think would be ludicrous).
The suggestion that markets are down because of Obama's rising in the polls shows a preposterous misunderstanding of economics, and McCain will be (rightly) pilloried if he tries to make that claim. I have no doubt Obama will be an utter disaster for business and economic growth/recovery in this country, but the markets are reacting to fact that unemployment is way up (and climbing), manufacturing numbers are way down, housing prices are still falling, credit has seized up, overnight funding is near impossible to acquire at anything but prohibitive cost, there continue to be real questions as to the solvency of financial institutions and their nightmarish balance sheets, etc. Just about every piece of data that comes back these days is negative, with the exception of falling commodity prices and a strengthening dollar, as Kudlow correctly mentioned last week. Companies growth prospects in this kind of environment are bleak at best, and the markets are reacting in kind. In addition, the ban on short selling of financials rolled off today, so some of the downward pressure that had built up over the past week released itself today.
We'll reach a bottom of the market eventually, however--and I mean no disrespect to the previous e-mailer you quoted below--it's naïve to suggest the continued hammering we're all taking has anything material to do with the political zeitgeist.
OK, to argue that the ascension of Obama in the polls is responsible for our crashing financial system requires the suspension of reality. Now in fairness, I have to note that Jonah, in his second posting, dismisses the notion offered by the emailer in his prior posting. At the same time, this has seemingly become standard operating procedure for my friends on the right. Again, there's no fault in testing trial balloons; though there is folly in releasing the ones that don't merit a moments consideration. Doing so gives them an air of legitimacy that fosters more of the same.
Here's the problem...all too often GOP operatives establish an outcome (the preferred fact or belief) and then they create a hypothesis to support it. Clearly this isn't out of the ordinary with regards to scientific study. Virtually every hypothesis has at its origin some level of belief that it may be true, which leads to its testing. The problem with many on the right is that their bias and partiality leads them to corrupt the construct in order to rig the results. In other words, the scientific method is an acceptable construct when it yields the preferred result. Should it refute the optimal outcome, the kitchen sink must be tossed at it in order to discredit it.
That brings me to the connections between those who oppose the theory of evolution in favor of creationism or its most recent stepchild, intelligent design, and those who would put forth an intellectually dishonest explanation to further their political objectives.
Let me be clear, it's a free country and we're all entitled to attempt to influence others with whatever arguments we choose to employ. The problems arise when the credible and convincing means to measure the validity of a theory are cast aside in deference to ideological intransigence. You see, when an individual can dissect the Bible into those portions they accept and those segments they set aside...all the while maintaining the infallibility of the process and the indisputable nature of the conclusion...fiction has been elevated to a level commensurate with fact.
Even worse, there is no rational or reasonable means to compel these believers to abandon their arbitrary assertions in favor of a fact driven formula. Once this rejection of reasonability is rejected relative to religion, the distance to its dissolution with regards to other disciplines is easily abridged. In the field of politics, once dogma is allowed to dethrone dutiful deduction, extremism is enabled.
Hence, the efforts to assign arbitrary attributes to Barack Obama is the epitome of embracing this elusive equation. Not only does this promote discord, it precludes its resolution. Before it can be corrected, the quintessential question must focus upon uncovering the underlying motivations.
As I watch John McCain and his minions grapple with the prospect of defeat...and the fear that imparts...it supports my suspicion that terror management is at the core of our conundrum. Terror management posits that we humans are prone to obsessing upon the fear of our mortality and acting to diminish it.
As such, religion and the promise of an afterlife is a strategy to assuage the anxiety. Those predisposed to acting from fear are therefore susceptible to strategies that allow irrational ideations to override objective analysis. When confronted with fearful events, the instinctual reaction is to resort to the suspension of reason in order to construct a place of comfort.
Unfortunately, this behavior has an "imprinting" quality such that it is self-reinforcing the longer it persists. In the political realm, it is manifested in a refusal to allow or applaud alternate avenues of governance. The Clinton presidency is an excellent example. There is little doubt that his tenure was a period of relative peace and prosperity...and yet many on the right refuse to recognize as much. These individuals often argue that the time a president is seated in office isn't the essential measure of his merit...or they prioritize other considerations...such as morality in the case of Clinton.
Here's the problem. This approach isn't applied consistently. Ronald Reagan receives credit for his time in office as well as for a number of ensuing years. Questions of morality, such as his having been married twice and his silence on the AIDS epidemic, are ignored. Shades of gray are danger zones and the pursuit of black and white...regardless of either's availability...is the ultimate safe haven from which to view the world. With the passage of time, the GOP and its pliable and therefore palatable propaganda becomes the only amenable world view...facts be damned.
Doubt is equated with death and it must, therefore, be banished. Science, though seemingly certain, is still too slow in providing a palatable domicile from which to proceed. To embrace it is to risk the possibility that one's earthly existence could end before it can afford acceptable answers to free one from fear. A retreat to the malleability of irrational ideations is the only avenue by which one can construct an illusory and idyllic island, insulated from the unmovable manifestation of mortality.
Death is certain; political suicide is optional. Come into the light my GOP friends...I promise it won't kill you. Besides, you'll still have heaven as a backup, right?
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bill Clinton, Creationism, Death, Economy, Evolution, GOP, Intelligent Design, John McCain, Jonah Goldberg, National Review, Religion, Ronald Reagan, Science, Scientific Method, Terror Management
Daniel DiRito | October 9, 2008 | 4:30 PM |
| Comments (1)
It seems to me that a significant question will emerge in the aftermath of the 2008 election. The crux of that question has been framed by the inflammatory rhetoric of the McCain-Palin campaign in recent days. In its effort to sway voters and win this election, the McCain campaign has chosen to ignite animosities that will undoubtedly linger beyond November 4th...animosities that have the potential to unleash the very kind of violence that typified the groups and individuals the McCain campaign has attempted to link with Barack Obama.
At the core of the conflicts that marred the sixties and seventies was an immense divide between those who supported the continuation of the war in Vietnam and those who viewed it as an act of unnecessary imperialism. At the same time, issues of racial equality and morality were drawn into the equation...pushing many to embrace increasingly radical avenues of dissent.
Let me be perfectly clear, I am in no way offering a defense of those who perpetrated the destruction of property and acts of violence in order to deliver their message of disapproval. At the same time, prudence requires us to identify circumstances that could encourage members of our current society to feel justified in fomenting more of the same.
Each time Sarah Palin and other McCain operatives frame this election as a choice between preserving the status quo (patriotism, capitalism, and exceptionalism) or the emergence of a radical new order (postnationalism and socialism), the mechanisms to spark the fuse of righteous rebellion are accelerated. The tenor has the potential to trigger untold turmoil.
Take a look at the rhetoric being offered by Sarah Palin at yesterday's rally in Florida and note how it seeks to portray the above distinctions.
From The Chicago Sun-Times:
So I'm reading the New York Times, though, and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago, as the New York Times (put it ?).
Now it turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers.
And according to the New York Times he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that quote, "launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol."
And then there's even more to the story. Barack Obama says that Ayers was just someone in the neighborhood, but that's less than truthful. His own top adviser said that they were quote, "certainly friendly." In fact, Obama held one of his first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers living room.
And they worked together on various projects in Chicago. And, you know, these are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes.
Remember, that's what Joe Biden had said. And I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America, as the greatest source for good in this world.
I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.
This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in, not my kids, not for your kids. What we believe in is what Ronald Reagan believed in, and that is America is an exceptional nation.
Many in the media have argued that John McCain has failed to craft an economic message that resonates with a majority of Americans. While conventional metrics suggest the pundits may well be right, I contend they are missing the fact that there is an economic (and political) ideology contained in the McCain campaign's fundamental framing of this election. The fact that this message has elicited cries of "Terrorist", "Treason", and "Kill him" from members of an agitated audience is frighteningly foreboding.
Yes, I think it's safe to say that it may be impossible to discern the underlying motivations of John McCain and his minions. While the possibilities are limited, the outcomes are ominous. On the one hand, one might assume that the spoken words match the essence of the ideology supported by McCain, his handlers, and the base of the Republican Party. On the other hand, McCain and his handlers may simply be exploiting the fears and beliefs of the party's base in the hopes of political advantage. Regardless, once the cogitated cat is out of the bag, walking it back in will be problematic...and perhaps impossible in the short term.
Here's the issue. Should this tactic be allowed to blossom...and Barack Obama wins this election...the McCain campaign will have played an integral role in legitimizing any ensuing acts of anarchy designed to unseat those who are viewed as promoting a new and unpalatable paradigm. The fact that race could be a consideration serves as an acrid accelerant. By characterizing the opposition as the impetus for dismantling our long standing societal structure, the McCain campaign will have arguably participated in fueling the fires and offering tacit acceptance of those acts undertaken in obligatory opposition.
Ironically, by invoking the unacceptable acts of those associated with the unnerving unrest of another era...and attempting to attach them to Barack Obama...the McCain campaign may be laying the foundation for its repetition...albeit manifest as the mirrored opposite in its construction. When Joe Biden, during the vice presidential debate, suggested that the "past is prologue", I doubt he understood how prescient his words may have been.
As one looks back on the last ten years, one will invariably see the emergence of a short-sighted scorched earth strategy. The election of George Bush, along with the belief by Karl Rove that his politics-by-division would grant the GOP unbridled political dominance, set in motion a maelstrom capable of inflicting great damage.
When Sarah Palin playfully suggests "the heels are on, the gloves are off", she may not realize the harm her heated hyperbole may unharness. The fact that John McCain, once the victim of these wicked waves of wrath, has chosen to embrace it in Sarah Palin and employ many of Rove's mercenaries to execute his own tectonic triangulation may well be seen by history as the trigger that pushed America to the precipice of partisan political armageddon.
That brings me back to identifying the question that will fundamentally define the 2008 election, "At what point did John McCain forego putting country first and at what cost?"
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bill Ayers, Joe Biden, John McCain, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin
Daniel DiRito | October 7, 2008 | 1:28 PM |
| Comments (0)
Keith Olbermann wasted no time in responding to Sarah Palin's latest stump schtick. According to Palin, she's decided that it's "time to put on the heels and take off the gloves" in her efforts to sully Barack Obama. In tonight's Special Comment, Olbermann takes the governor up on one of her suggestion and pulls no punches...and the results may not be what Palin had in mind.
As Olbermann notes, it's rather puzzling that Palin would choose to focus upon linking Barack Obama to individuals of questionable character...or as she likes to infer..."terrorists", given her own brow raising associations with a witch doctor and a secessionist organization run by an anti-American radical.
It seems to me that people who wear rose colored lipstick and run around in glass stilettos should think before they kick every hockey puck in the arena. After all, she wouldn't want someone to suggest that her rhetoric is little more than a pig in a poke.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, John McCain, Keith Olbermann, Sarah Palin, Special Comment, Thomas Muthee
Daniel DiRito | October 6, 2008 | 7:44 PM |
| Comments (1)
If affectations were authenticity, Sarah Palin's debate performance would have been Oscar worthy. If flirtations were facts, Sarah Palin could transform ennui into an astute entry in the encyclopedia. If muddled mutterings were metrics, Sarah Palin could be a mathematician. If serendipity were substance, enlightenment would emerge from Palin's equivocations. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas. If audacity were hope, John McCain and Sarah Palin would be our saviors.
Look, by virtually any means of measurement, the performance of Sarah Palin during last nights debate was an insult to voters and a mockery of our political process. While I realize Republicans want to support their ticket and hold the White House, the fact that any American could ignore the utter inanity of her performance last night...and cast a vote for the McCain-Palin ticket...is an affront to the integrity of our democracy.
To grant legitimacy to tactical cynicism is to empower the reckless acts of those who would sacrifice our society for their own exigent egotism. The only salient conclusion one can draw from John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate is that he may be the most dangerous man in America. Make no mistake; John McCain's life is the epitome of insolence and self-indulgence. Sarah Palin's selection is simply the exclamation mark.
With that said, John McCain is merely a symptom of a far more endemic illness. John McCain embodies a segment of our society that is willing to sacrifice rationality and reasonability for the pursuit of power and profit. Were that the limit of this egregious era of enmity, I might reconsider this recitation. The gravity of this moment doesn't afford that luxury.
John McCain and Sarah Palin do not represent the heart and soul of America...they are impostors who wrap themselves in the superficial rhetoric of patriotism, righteousness, and religiosity. They do this by denigrating and casting doubt upon those qualities in others. It takes the form of narcissistic negation designed to deny worth to those who refuse to check their cerebral capacities at the door and adopt their mindless mantras. When I witness the chanting of "USA, USA" or "Drill baby drill" at a McCain rally, I don't hear the collective cries of informed and evolved individuals; I hear and see the summary suspension of identity for the comfort of canned incantations.
The fact that this lockstep submission to simplistic circumlocution is being glorified in the disingenuous gesticulations of Governor "give me a frickin' break" Palin is an insult to true patriots, the resolutely righteous, and those who respect religion enough to forego flaunting it as if it were the latest fashion. Yes, John McCain served his country in the military...but the measure of a man must be his motivations...just as is the case with regards to the service of one's God. If patriotism or religion is employed as the means to manipulate others, neither is noble or noteworthy.
To understand this concept, and its relevance in discerning the essence of John McCain from the caricature he has carefully crafted, I highly recommend reading the recent article in Rolling Stone that traces his less than laudable biography.
As I read the article, I found myself recalling the story of Forrest Gump. While there may be symmetries in these two men's situations, they begin to diverge at the moment one delves into an examination of the purity of happenstance versus the cunning of calculation. While this exercise in illumination is intended to inform as to the integrity of the individual, it becomes especially insidious when a number of the observers can no longer apply objectivity in identifying the insincerity of the protagonist's executions. Ironically, the juxtaposition of fiction and fact only serves to amplify the premise of my argument...a belief that America is on the verge of becoming a tragic caricature of itself...prosecuted by icons hatched from the thin air of our illogical imaginations.
To understand the inevitable outcome of this diminishment-by-denial brand of obfuscation...carried out by and for the McCain-Palin candidacy...take a look at its full and frightening manifestation in Rich Lowry's summarization of the "performance" of Sarah Palin, posted at the National Review.
A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It's one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O'Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can't be learned; it's either something you have or you don't, and man, she's got it.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but isn't the moment at which projection becomes an acceptable substitute for substantive competence and principled character, the moment at which reality has been rejected? The fact that this analysis...deliberately divorced from the fundamental consideration of John McCain's judgment in selecting Palin...can be put forth by Lowry and embraced by millions only exacerbates the erosion of rational thought.
As I read Lowry's inanity, it seemed as if this election was being reduced to the kind of manipulations one might expect to witness when a scantily clad vixen engages the unbridled libido of an adulterous husband on the prowl. Ah, yes, nothing better than pecker politics. Not only is this the epitome of a sexist oversimplification, it suggests the Governor is simply an object used as the means to an end. The cynicism is shocking.
That brings me back to John McCain and Forrest Gump. You see, the trajectory of the life of Forrest Gump was best exemplified by the flight of a feather in the wind...whereby the unintended acted upon the soul of an innocent. On the other hand, Sarah Palin is an offshoot of John McCain's path...a path that is akin to the clever carpenter cutting corners to build a house of cards...whereby his suspect soul is little more than a hypocritical hologram that puts Palin forth as the purposeful act of a sullied snake-oil salesman. In the progression of the pathology I'm describing, Sarah Palin is merely a distraction offered by the disease in order to further its spread and prevent its detection and destruction. The Rich Lowry's of the world are its toxic foot soldiers and the voting public is its intended victim.
In the end, it is insufficient to diagnose the source of our sickness and excise it from our body politic. Absent an aggressive intervention aimed towards inoculating the entirety of the organism, the unseen outposts of our oncology will continue to multiply. Treatment must be comprehensive. The return to rational health must include the rejection of those who would willingly drink the elixir and subscribe to the suggestions that it is an essential element of our identity.
Those who consume the potion called Sarah Palin at the behest of John McCain and his minions do so at their own peril. Once the pathogen gains a foothold, prevention will prove futile. America is on the precipice of a pandemic. Those of sound mind and steeled judgment must speak out against the allure of inauthenticity. Sarah Palin is poison. John McCain is pushing and promoting that poison. Stand up and demand that America purge itself of this vile virus. Restoration is coming...rejection is the cure.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Debate, Forrest Gump, Joe Biden, John McCain, Politics, Religion, Sarah Palin
Daniel DiRito | October 3, 2008 | 9:31 AM |
| Comments (2)
The more I see and hear about the bail out of Wall Street, the more I oppose it. Here's the issue. Taxpayers are being asked to ante up for the good of the nation...and to do so with minimal information and even fewer details. At the same time, the White House is suggesting that any limitation on executive compensation may lead companies to decline participation in the program. I'm calling B.S. on this one.
From The Washington Post:
After 7 1/2 years of drift, President Bush has finally returned to his compassionate conservative roots with a heartfelt plea to Congress to help a needy and deserving group: those Wall Street CEOs who, for all their hard work, have been unable to lift themselves up by their wingtips.
Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (R-Goldman Sachs) made the rounds of the talk shows on Sunday, pleading for financial executives to be allowed to keep their multimillion-dollar compensation packages even if their companies need to be rescued by the $700 billion federal bailout.
"If we design it so it's punitive and so institutions aren't going to participate, this won't work the way we need it to work," Paulson, whose net worth is said to be north of $600 million, told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
"To have this program work, we don't want to make it punitive and make it difficult," Paulson advised George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."
It was a message of mercy and humanity -- who, after all, would be so cruel to deny executives their eight-figure bonuses merely because they drove their companies into insolvency? -- and administration officials and Republican lawmakers joined the cause of the unappreciated CEOs.
Give me a frickin' break...just how stupid does the Bush administration think we are. Further, if this isn't a ploy to manipulate voters, just how damn stupid is the Bush administration? Let's look at the logic.
First, if we assume that Wall Street is perilously close to collapse, then they need our help, right? Second, if they aren't willing to accept our demands for fair executive compensation, we have every right to deny them our help. Thirdly, if they have the ability to forego our help in favor of their huge compensation packages, then they aren't in that bad of shape, right? Fourth, if these companies can put their self-serving interests first, why in the hell should voters forego theirs in order to bail them out. Fifth, if the Bush administration can't reach these same logical conclusions, then they have no business managing a lemonade stand...let alone the largest bail out in U.S. history.
Honestly, it's time for voters to call the bluff of the administration that drug us into this mess. If we're going to get screwed, let's get screwed on our own terms. There is no plausible rationale to grant unlimited authority to the very people who pushed us into the financial abyss. Beyond that, there is absolutely no justification to take an unwanted screwing, write a huge check for it, and thank the Bush administration for putting it to us.
Truth be told, we have no assurances that this bail out will work. For two years, the Bush administration has told us the economy is sound and that we aren't in a recession. Two weeks ago they assured us that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seizure was the answer to our problems. In short order, they bail out AIG after telling us the bail outs were over and these companies needed to seek their own solutions. Days later we're told the sky is falling and we need to bend over.
No way...no how...I'm happy to let it burn to the ground before we give Wall Street a free pass. As they say, beggars can't be choosers. If they want more of our money, it's on our terms or to hell with them. Let's see who blinks first.
ONE ADDITIONAL POINT:
We're hearing a number of insiders suggest that homeowners bear some responsibility for this predicament. The argument contends that too many of us bit off more than we could chew. OK, I'll accept that there's some truth to that contention...but it isn't the whole story. The whole story needs to consider the fact that the average American has spent the last seven years working harder and producing more...for less money.
The fact of the matter is that millions of Americans gambled on the historical data that home prices will rise. When they did, many of them did so because they needed money and the only means available to obtain it was to borrow against the equity they thought they had in their homes.
Yes, that may have been shortsighted and imprudent...but so too is it detestable that our elected officials failed to be good stewards of the economy. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans didn't trickle down...and the few jobs that were created weren't enough and they weren't higher paying jobs. Instead, far too much of the Bush tax package was invested in high risk financial gimmicks designed to create easy profits.
If we're going to assess blame, then let's not forget where the bulk of it belongs. It belongs squarely on the backs of those who have promoted a morally bankrupt economic philosophy that concentrates wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the hard work of the many.
There's one additional saying that applies to the current situation of our greedy cash chasing countrymen..."bet 'em high and sleep in the streets". All that's left to be said to our Wall Street friends is, "Welcome to Main Street...and don't forget to bring some cardboard boxes and a warm blanket".
Tagged as: AIG, Bail Out, Economy, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, George Bush, Hank Paulson, Wall Street
Daniel DiRito | September 23, 2008 | 2:45 PM |
| Comments (4)