Six Degrees of Speculation: June 2008: Archives

June 26, 2008

More On That Plan For A Theocracy...How About Anarchy? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Anarchy.jpg

Take a look at the following video and tell me you can't imagine that extreme religious groups in America could ever trigger the same sectarian strife that currently plagues the Middle East. I don't think the thought is that far fetched...and I'm convinced that the evidence supports the contention that ideological intransigence has led some religious leaders in the United States to the precipice of promoting acts of anarchy.

The gist of this video and many of the sermons that are being delivered in churches around the country is that the Bible is the only valid law. Further, the inference is that it is acceptable to ignore the laws of the nation when they conflict with God's law. What remains to be seen is the level of resistance that these religious zealots are willing to promote.

To understand how this movement evolved, one need look no further than the last seven years of the Bush presidency. By example, George Bush has given license to those who would elect to undermine or ignore established law in favor of divine guidance. Not only did Bush argue that his actions in office were the result of consultation with a higher being, he has frequently entertained and endorsed the notion that the court system is flawed and continues to engage in inappropriate "judicial activism."

Yes, he has grudgingly accepted the rulings of the courts...but not without willingly pressing the limits and challenging the conventional wisdom. These actions have established a growing sense of righteous infallibility amongst the faithful and their inclination for divinely driven defiance is palpable. My concern is how far the people his actions have enabled are willing to go should upcoming elections and rulings meet with their disapproval.

I realize what I'm positing may seem far fetched, but if one listens to the rumblings that are percolating in the evangelical community...inclusive of this video and James Dobson's current assault on Barack Obama...one begins to see a pattern of rejecting the authority of the government...especially if it continues to move in directions that do not uphold doctrine.

The reality of the matter is that evangelicals are still a formidable constituency that has shown a propensity to act in unison. Should that monolithic mentality be applied to the initiation of acts of anarchy, we could well witness the type of unrest that typified the Vietnam War era.

The fact that the last seven years have provided evangelicals a taste of the kind of kingdom they've long envisioned only exacerbates the potential for civil disobedience...and far worse. Toss in their beliefs about the end of days and the rapture and a worst case scenario isn't that much of a stretch. In fact, I suspect there are those who would view acts of anarchy as part and parcel of a preordained plan spelled out in the Bible.

While most Americans are preoccupied with the events taking place in the Middle East and the broader concept of the "war on terror", there is a growing body of evidence that suggests we need look no further than the confines of our own country to understand the dangers of ideological intransigence.

Let me be clear, I'm not predicting that anarchy is inevitable. On the other hand, I am signaling a warning that we're approaching a tumultuous transitional period. Unless we're mindful of the dangers of this smoldering mind set, we're at risk of being burned by the flames of fanaticism.

Tagged as: Anarchy, Bible, End Of Days, Evangelical, Extremism, Fundamentalism, George Bush, Judicial Activism, Judicial Authority, LGBT, Literalism, Rapture, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Taliban, Theocracy

Daniel DiRito | June 26, 2008 | 6:40 PM | link | Comments (4)
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June 11, 2008

Fox News: Leading The Obama Smear Campaign? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

Fox News likes to pretend that their reporting is fair and balanced. Unfortunately, the more they fear that the Democrats might defeat their beloved GOP, the more they exhibit their bias and serve as a shill for the party.

The degree to which their bias is evident took an exponential leap since Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic candidate. In fact, it didn't take E.D. Hill long to infer that the "pound" (fist bump) Barack and Michelle exchanged could be interpreted as a "terrorist fist jab" (see the video clip below). Now I don't know about anyone else, but I knew what Barack and Michelle were doing the instant I saw it...and I am still trying to figure out exactly what a "terrorist fist jab" looks like.

Granted, had Barack and Michelle simultaneously raised and shook semi-automatic rifles in the air, I would have connected that with terrorists...but the gesture I witnessed couldn't be remotely associated with "extremist" body language.

As if that weren't enough hyperbole, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly invited Michelle Malkin, a pillar of partisanship, to join her in a discussion on the efforts of a number of conservatives to make Michelle Obama an issue in the upcoming election. The Fox News modus operandi is to amplify any item they can find to raise doubt about those they oppose.

In this segment, Kelly opens the piece with a pointed and misleading segue when she states, "Well Michelle Obama is back in the news". In my opinion, the statement is an effort to infer that this report is a follow up to, or an extension of, the prior negative publicity on the Senator's wife. The truth of the matter is that Michelle Obama had neither said or done anything to draw the attention of the media.

In fact, Kelly proceeds to reference an anti-Obama documentary (that I doubt most voters have ever heard of) that is being compiled by a conservative group...that will "reportedly include" the clip of Michelle Obama commenting that she is, for the first time in her adult life, proud of America. So what we have is a piece designed to allow Fox News to reexamine any and all of the negative publicity that Michelle Obama has garnered.

Ah, but it gets even better. Throughout the segment, Fox News inserts taglines into its blue banner that are nothing short of inflammatory and one is, in my estimation, flat out racist. This use of taglines is a Fox strategy that happens all the time...and when challenged, it is defended as nothing more than the network repeating the statements made by others that are, of course, relevant to the discussion (according to Fox). Yes, they maintain plausible deniability...but I doubt an objective media/journalism critic would view the tactic as little more than purposeful and pungent propaganda catapulting.

With that said, I took the time to compile four still shots from the video to highlight the Fox New strategy (see the graphic below). The first derogatory tagline states, "Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking On Obama's Baby Mama!" Again, pardon my cynicism, but there's nothing accidental or uncertain about the insinuation delivered by this tag. The following four entries are the definitions one will find at Urban Dictionary for the term "baby mama"...and none of them are remotely complementary.

In fact, the racial overtones are palpable and it's clear they are intended to remind the viewer that the Obama's are African Americans...and thus connectable with all of the negative cultural stereotypes that might lead a voter to question the prudence of placing them in the White House.

1. baby mama

The mother of your child(ren), whom you did not marry and with whom you are not currently involved.

Oh her? She ain't nothing to me now, girl, she just my baby mama. So, can I get your number?

2. baby mama

A term used to define an unmarried young woman (but can be a woman of any age) who has had a child. As mentioned before in another definition, most of the time it is used for when it was simply a sexual relationship, compared to ex-wife or girlfriend. Usually this has a negative connotation, a lot of baby mamas are seen as desperate, gold digging, emotionally starved, shady women who had a baby out of spite or to keep a man. Sometimes they may act like this because of missed child support payments, unfulfilled promises by the father, or convenient sex by the father. Either or both may exist in any situation.

Joe didn't have any relationship with that chick, she was the "other woman" who ended up being his baby mama.

3. baby mama

single mother of a child

4. baby mama

Basically a woman you had a child or children with who you didnt marry and or no longer involved with. Usually associated with hoodrats and trailer park bitches.

The second tagline states, "Malkin Calls Michelle Obama's Bitter Half", which I suspect is again a reference to the Michelle Obama comment noted above. I believe it is also intended to invoke the rumored video that has been discussed on the internet for the better part of the last two weeks...a video that has curiously never been released for public viewing. As the story goes, according to a friend of a friend who saw the video, Michelle Obama is on tape railing against the the handling of a number of issues in America...all delivered with a notably racial bent. During the exchange, Kelly and Malkin discuss the possibility of other "unsubstantiated" internet rumors.

The other two stills I've included in the graphic were photos of Michelle Obama that were overlaid during the dialogue. While relatively innocuous, they represent images of Obama that I've never seen and that depict her differently than what one would expect to see if one had been watching the primaries. Whether there is any purpose in Fox News using two pictures in which she has a distinctly different hairstyle is open to debate.

Not long ago, "I wrote a similar piece called "The River Rafting Of Barack Obama", a title intended to invoke the swiftboating of John Kerry":http://www.thoughttheater.com/2008/03/the_river_rafting_of_barack_obama.php. At the time, the issue was Reverend Wright and a video that had appeared on YouTube designed to connect Senator Obama with the imagery of "the militant black agenda". In that posting, I speculated that backroom operatives in the GOP would do their best to capitalize on any such incidents. I was right as to intention...but little did I know that the messenger would be none other than Fox News. What a shameful development.

Still Shots From The Fox News Video

FoxAttacksMichelleObama.jpg

Fox News Video: Malkin On Michelle Obama

Fox News' E.D. Hill On The Obama "Terrorist Fist Jab"

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Baby Mama, Barack Obama, E.D. Hill, Fox News, GOP, Megyn Kelly, Michelle Malkin, Michelle Obama, Pound, Racism, Reverend Wright, Swiftboating

Daniel DiRito | June 11, 2008 | 9:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 3, 2008

Democratic Party Politics: An Exercise In Speculation genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

ObamaAndClinton.jpg

I'd like to take a moment to offer some emerging speculation on my part. First, let me state that I've intentionally chosen to limit my participation in the animosity that has typified the Democratic primary between Clinton and Obama supporters. In truth, I'm happy to support either candidate in November and I think that should ultimately be the position of all Democrats.

Notwithstanding, the announcement by Clinton surrogates that she is interested in the vice presidency has piqued my propensity for measured cynicism. First a little background. Early yesterday, the media reported that Hillary Clinton was prepared to concede the nomination to Senator Obama. In short order, Terry McAuliffe, the man cited to have made the revelation, renounced the report; stating that neither candidate had the necessary delegates to declare victory.

Shortly thereafter, the Clinton campaign released an official statement reiterating that position and suggesting that no concession would be forthcoming Tuesday night. This all followed a report in which Bill Clinton spoke as if the campaign had reached its inevitable end. Then by Tuesday morning, the word from Clinton surrogates was that the New York Senator was interested in the vice presidency.

Now onto my speculation. The construction and chronology of these events raised my antennae. The conflicting information simply doesn't add up and that always leads me to look for plausible alternate motivations. Let me posit a question in order to illustrate my contention. What is the purpose of leaking one's willingness to serve as vice president if one refuses to concede defeat? Isn't that the equivalent of presenting a contradiction that lacks the logic to achieve comprehension...especially when one is so ardently opposed to acknowledging defeat? When confronted by such inconsistencies, I suspect something else is percolating in the background.

As I sit here writing this posting, MSNBC is reporting that the Obama camp is looking for a negotiated arrangement which would afford Clinton the opportunity to decline the vice presidential nomination while assuring the Obama camp that she will in fact refuse the offer. Presumably, the underlying motivation is all about allowing Senator Clinton a noble and notable exit.

If this latest information is correct, then it's possible the leak indicating that Clinton may be interested in the vice presidency could have been released as the means to insure that the offer would in fact be forthcoming. While that may appear logical on its surface, it seems to me that the offer and subsequent declination could have easily been negotiated in private without any preemptive public disclosures...which would have prevented it from appearing to be a contrivance.

Therefore, I wonder if there is another motive that would explain this string of discordant events. Stay with me for a moment. Suppose that Senator Clinton is seeking to create a double bind for Senator Obama...one that would preclude his receiving the support of already disgruntled Clinton backers? Suppose Senator Clinton has no intention of an arrangement whereby her answer to the offer would be predetermined.

Suppose having this dialogue in public is the preferred strategy...and one that would afford Senator Clinton the opportunity to assert a slight if the offer isn't made...and isn't made without preconditions. Suppose Clinton also knows that Obama has no intention of actually having Clinton as his running mate and that he would require an arrangement whereby Senator Clinton commits to declining the offer before it can or will be delivered. Hence, if she knows all of this to be true, a public dialogue could serve another purpose.

In this instance, Clinton may believe she's apt to appear magnanimous while portraying Senator Obama as manipulative and willing to slight his opponent in the full view of the voting public. In other words, a publicly negotiated offer and declination would no doubt be seen as a sham. Hence, if the offer wouldn't be made without already knowing the answer, it could be viewed negatively and insure that the already reluctant Clinton supporters would refuse to back Obama in November. That would greatly hinder the likelihood Senator Obama could be elected.

This could potentially leave Senator Clinton in a position to run again in four years...arguing that had she been on the ticket the outcome would likely have been different. That, coupled with all of the other arguments she has made to be the nominee, could allow her to portray herself as the rightful candidate in 2012...the candidate that she can argue should have been the Democratic choice in 2008...or at the very least on the ticket.

As I stated from the outset, this is strictly an exercise in speculation. It's certainly possible that there are plausible explanations for the inconsistencies I've noted. Throughout this election, my instincts have not led me to conclude a sinister strategy on the part of Senator Clinton. Yes, it's been clear that winning is her goal and that she is an adept combatant. Then again, we've only now reached the point at which she has been backed into a corner with very limited alternatives.

Fortunately, upcoming events will either confirm the unassuming and impartial perceptions I've held for many months or they will illuminate my naivete and validate the suspicions of many that Senator Clinton is simply a strident and self-serving strategist. In a nation tainted by eight years of unyielding partisanship, I would be greatly saddened by confirmation of the latter. In the interest of enabling the nation to move forward with a renewed optimism, I certainly hope the next few days will affirm the former.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Terry McAuliffe, Vice President

Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 6:08 PM | link | Comments (3)
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