Six Degrees of Speculation: August 2008: Archives

August 19, 2008

Keith Olbermann Tells John McCain To Grow Up genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

In a special comment, Keith Olbermann dissects the rhetoric of John McCain...and reminds the forgetful senator of the many instances in which he has contradicted himself. While it appears that John McCain thinks his age grants him a memory waiver, Keith Olbermann is having none of that.

In typically testy form, Olbermann scolds the McCain camp for employing the politics of our sitting president and embracing its scorched earth strategy...the one that attempts to craft facts from thin air and make them stick...by relying on shear repetition of reprehensible rhetoric.

Olbermann takes the Arizona senator to task on his accusation that the Barack Obama candidacy is merely a matter of "ambitions"...pointing out that senator McCain must be at least equally ambitious...unless he's being forced to run for the presidency.

Lastly, Olbermann lambasts the McCain campaign's criticism of NBC...suggesting that the attack on the network is but a lowly attempt to prevent objectivity by spinning a fully suspect story line...one that prefers the stealth nature inherent in the waging a whisper war against his opponent.

Keith Olbermann - Special Comment Part One

Keith Olbermann - Special Comment Part Two

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Iraq, John McCain, Keith Olbermann, Special Comment, Veterans

Daniel DiRito | August 19, 2008 | 8:48 AM | link | Comments (0)
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August 11, 2008

John McCain - Four More Years Of The Accidental Presidency? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

autopilot.jpg

Well how about that? It looks like the rhetoric of the straight talk express is being lifted nearly word for word...straight out of Wikipedia. If you haven't heard the news, it appears that several passages from the candidates comments on the conflict between Russia and Georgia are notably similar to the online encyclopedia.

From Political Insider:

A Wikipedia editor emailed Political Wire to point out some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. Given the closeness of the words and sentence structure, most would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.

First instance:

one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion (Wikipedia)

vs.

one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion (McCain)

Second instance:

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991. Early post-Soviet years was marked by a civil unrest and economic crisis. (Wikipedia)

vs.

After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises. (McCain)

In many ways, this situation isn't all that surprising. In fact, it may well make sense. Consider that McCain readily admits his lack of internet savvy and recall that the books he's written were primarily authored by his frequent speech writer and longtime associate, Mark Salter. As such, one can logically imagine how McCain could end up parroting the words provided to him by his handlers...absent an awareness of their origin.

Nonetheless, one would think that Salter and/or other senior advisors would have McCain's back. If the campaign lacks a level of quality control necessary to flesh out a plagiarist, what can we expect from a McCain presidency...one that will, based upon the nature of the candidate, need to navigate the unfriendly skies like a plane on auto-pilot?

I'm not sure whose choosing McCain's surrogate speech writing staff, but it looks like the good ol' boys club may need a twenty-first century makeover...or at least enough managerial skepticism to police the product being produced. If the McCain campaign can be duped by garden variety word thieves, how on earth can we expect he and his handlers to assemble a staff with the competence to lead the free world?

In his haste to present himself to voters as the astute foreign policy candidate, McCain may have actually exposed his own propensity to portray himself as a powerful wizard while actually being the inept grandfatherly fellow hiding behind the curtain. The frequent instances of stuttered sentences and fumbled facts only exacerbate the suspicions that the senior senator is but a shell of the rough and tumble warrior he once represented.

Haven't we had enough of a commander in chief whose modus operandi involves delegating unchecked authority to cronies and confidants rather than assuming the role of a hands-on leader with bottom line accountability? The last thing we need is a carefully constructed candidate who is ultimately exposed as little more than a caricature of competence.

I don't know about you, but I'm not looking for a president I can have a beer with...and I'm certainly not willing to endure four more years of an accidental presidency.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Georgia, John McCain, Mark Salter, Russia, Wikipedia

Daniel DiRito | August 11, 2008 | 2:36 PM | link | Comments (0)
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August 8, 2008

On The John Edwards Affair - The Stop & Stare Society genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

LionAndZebra.jpg

It's common knowledge that car accidents cause traffic jams...even after the vehicles involved have been moved to the shoulder of the road. I've often wondered what causes us to slow down and gaze out our windows as we pass by. Is it out of concern for the passengers or is it some morbid curiosity as to the carnage?

As I've pondered the possibilities, the first image that comes to mind is a herd of zebras, standing and staring with ears perked, as the lion they've just eluded puts the finishing clench upon the zebra that didn't get away. What makes a herd of animals suddenly stop to watch, as their comrade becomes an unwilling victim of the food chain, moments after running frantically for their lives?

If you're wondering where I'm going with this rather morbid musing, I've been looking for a way to make sense of our fascination with John Edwards' admission that he engaged in an extramarital affair. Let me be clear...I'm troubled by the deceit that preceded the revelation...but I'm more troubled by our seeming inability to focus upon the underlying issues.

You see, John Edwards may be unique in having had the opportunity to run for president of the United States, but his affair puts him on a par with the majority of the American public. The fact that we stop to gawk at him underscores our similarity to a herd of zebras, while our holier-than-thou looks of disdain uncover our propensity for self-forgiving double standards.

As we approach the November election, we're being confronted by the all too familiar rhetoric that same-sex marriage is threatening to destroy the family. Frankly, this is a manufactured issue that serves the purposes of politicians and preachers and serves as a distraction from what actually ails the family. Truth be told, the preoccupation with same-sex marriage and the affairs of others is the equivalent of watching the zebra in the grasp of the lion. It gives us something to look at while counting our blessings that we avoided capture...not by the lion...but by the discovery of our own undisclosed indiscretions.

Yes, I've long argued that gays should be entitled to the same marriage rights afforded to heterosexuals...but I've also argued that the institution is at best broken. In fact, I suspect that it is, in its current form, contrary to human nature. In saying as much, I'm not suggesting that we eliminate marriage. At the same time, I'm in favor of beginning the process of an honest assessment of the expectations we attach to our marriages and, therefore, the manner in which they're created...and dismantled.

Yes, I'm embarking upon an unpopular task that mimics the myth of Sisyphus...but then again...so are most of the individuals who choose to marry. If we admit that pushing the rock over the pinnacle is the equivalent of perfection, we should quickly understand the reason for Sisyphus' perpetual failure...as well as our own with regard to marriage.

Look, the human heart is fragile...it can fall as fast as it can harden...and in that dichotomy is revealed the precarious nature of love...as well as the inability to predict its path. While the mind can promise the heart, the heart cannot always be expected to abide. That's a reality we prefer to ignore...until someone's heart is broken.

Where we miscalculate is in our expectations of ourselves and others...antecedent to our marriages as well as the moment at which we recognize the one we're in is broken. In each of these moments, rather than acknowledge our human nature, we demand that another defy their own in order to protect the fragility of ours...and visa versa. Yes, this works well on the front end...but it fails miserably at the other.

In many ways, we humans are victims of our own success. In that it provided us with more choices and greater flexibility, it has also diminished our dependence on each other as well as the affiliations we believe we'll need to form in order to survive (make a living, raise a family, etc). Hence, marriage is no longer the essential sociological glue it used to be. While necessity may be the mother of invention, the lack of necessity has allowed us to reinvent our understandings of the roles we play as mothers...and fathers. As such, we've reached the point at which one can choose to be either without the requirement of the other.

On the other hand, this freedom may also provide us with the opportunity to choose our partners absent many of the historical calculations and contrivances. Unfortunately, our actions with regards to relationships seem to lack the full awareness of the evolving terrain. At the same time, there are those who experience this changing dynamic as anxiety which leads them to recoil and call for a return to conventionalism. Unfortunately, rolling back progress is akin to rolling our mythical rocks over the pinnacle. Sadly, the time spent doing so simply detracts from the time we can spend adapting and adjusting our relationships (and the expectations we bring to them) to the current paradigm.

It's time to admit that the idyllic image of marriage, invoked by those who claim to be its protectors, is no longer the nature of the institution. That which no longer exists cannot be preserved. Notwithstanding, the painfully natural, though imperfect, human emotions that facilitated the creation of marriage will remain...and they warrant our awareness and our embrace. Were we to refocus our efforts upon understanding the essence of these emotions, and establishing our expectations accordingly, perhaps the next announcement of an indiscretion could be met with introspective analysis rather than preoccupied projections.

When the voyeurs are enthralled in watching the lion lay waste to the zebra, the bonds that connect them with those they love are left unattended...hanging perilously exposed...ever ready to attach themselves to the first heart that has taken the time to acknowledge, accept, and allow its innate humanity to flourish. When this happens, the heart of the voyeur is apt to be crushed...not by the lion...but by the weight of its own untenable judgments.

Tagged as: Adultery, Culture, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards, Marriage, Relationships, Rielle Hunter, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | August 8, 2008 | 2:47 PM | link | Comments (1)
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August 1, 2008

McCain Walks On Water While Portraying Obama As Moses? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

John McCain's latest campaign advertisement is designed to convince voters to view Barack Obama as a young, arrogant, messianic elitist who isn't prepared to lead. In the following video, Charlton Heston's memorable portrayal of Moses is referenced to make the argument that Obama believes he's the chosen one.

Of course the McCain campaign is arguing that they're simply having a little fun and everyone criticizing the campaign just needs to lighten up. I see the ad as more of the same from a candidate and a campaign that has abandoned any semblance of civility in the hopes of poisoning the well before the electorate develops a taste for Obama that can't be extinguished.

In my estimation, the McCain campaign's unspoken message is that Obama is an uppity black man who doesn't know his place and refuses to wait his turn. Look, it's impossible for this election to avoid the issue of race. In the absence of Obama's skin color, one might be hard pressed to argue that the McCain campaign is doing anything more than capitalizing on Obama's occasionally lofty language.

That begs an important question. If a campaign chooses to manipulate a known bias in a segment of the electorate...knowing that they may be fomenting and fostering more of the same...does the end justify the means? Given that this strategy has been honed to perfection by George Bush and his minions, the answer seems apparent.

Unfortunately, one can also make the case that doing so simply perpetuates our problems. Truth be told, the kind of rhetoric we're witnessing will only reinforce the racial tension that usually simmers in silence...all the while looking for a triggering event to rear its ugly head.

The fact that men who want to hold the highest office in the land would willfully ignite intolerance suggests they view the electorate as little more than an inconvenient obstacle in their quest for power. Until voters refuse to reward this kind of behavior, we'll continue to be led through the desert by false prophets...looking longingly for the promised land.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, John McCain, Moses

Daniel DiRito | August 1, 2008 | 3:40 PM | link | Comments (0)
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