Code Blue: Judge Rules Gays Can Marry In Iowa

I decided to have a little fun with the ruling and the evangelicals who will certainly be mobilizing to protect the institution of marriage from the destructive influences of same-sex unions. Recent research by Senator Vitter of Louisiana suggests that a threatened marriage can be renewed. The Senator is expected to announce a new campaign designed to defend marriage’¦the campaign is called ‘œMarriage: One Man, One Woman, & A Shit Load Of Hookers’.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Iowa evangelicals were undoubtedly shocked and alarmed by the ruling of Polk County Judge Robert Hanson. The ruling states that Iowa’™s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and orders that the six plaintiff couples be granted marriage licenses. In his ruling, Judge Hanson argued that the Iowa Constitution provides for equal protection and due-process and that the passage of Iowa’™s Defense Of Marriage act violates that provision.

The ruling will certainly add a new wrinkle to Iowa’™s presidential primary. Clearly, candidates who may have sought to limit their comments on the subject will now be forced to weigh in on the ruling’¦which will certainly increase the attention placed upon the outcome of the states primary.

I decided to have a little fun with the ruling and the evangelicals who will certainly be mobilizing to protect the institution of marriage from the destructive influences of same-sex unions. The following is a list of suggestions designed to protect the marriages of evangelicals’¦which they may want to enact until such time as the ruling can be stayed or stricken down by a higher court.

Rumor has it that wearing a necklace of corn cobs will ward off the negative and evil influences one may experience when encountering a married homosexual.

Evangelical women should encourage their husbands to avoid any possibilities of being identified as a metro-sexual’¦such men are prime targets for conversion efforts.

Evangelical men must monitor the television their wives are watching during the day. The militant homosexuals have infiltrated daytime programming in order to convert unsuspecting women of faith. Under no circumstances should evangelical women be allowed to watch Ellen or The View. While the V Chip was intended to monitor the programs viewed by children, husbands are encouraged to utilize the device to prohibit the watching of inappropriate programs by vulnerable wives.

Evangelical businesses are encouraged to remove all coffee tables and coffee table books and magazines from their waiting areas as it may attract married homosexuals.

Evangelical males who may be traveling by airplane are encouraged to avoid the use of airport restrooms’¦there are concerns that heterosexual men may be vulnerable to the lure of these palatial potties. Women should encourage their husbands to use the bathroom before departing the home and not again until they are on the plane. Evangelical women need not worry about the sex their husbands have on a plane as the Mile High Club currently prohibits the formation of a homosexual affiliate. Notwithstanding, there are concerns that a secret sect of stewards are planning to form a similar club called ‘œIn The ‘œO’ Zone’. Please check back for updates.

In extreme situations, it may be necessary for husbands to hire the services of a prostitute. Recent research by Senator Vitter of Louisiana suggests that an unstable marriage can be renewed by such measures’¦and it has an added communal effect which was evidenced by the standing ovation the senator received upon his return to Washington. He is a true champion of heterosexual marriage. An anonymous source indicates that the Senator will announce a new campaign designed to defend marriage’¦the campaign is called ‘œMarriage: One Man, One Woman, & A Shit Load Of Hookers’.

A word of caution to the wives of evangelical ministers. Under no circumstances should you allow your husbands to travel out of town on trips that require an overnight stay or time alone. It is being reported that information provided by hotel staff and informational literature found in hotel rooms has been co-opted by militant homosexuals. Completely innocent massages have been reported to lead to man on man sex and the use of illicit drugs which are designed to convert the unsuspecting minister. Those who doubt the veracity of this warning need only be reminded of the fall of well-known Colorado Springs minister, Ted Haggard.

Lastly, should your spouse lose their way and succumb to the tireless efforts of the homosexual agenda’¦fear not. The same program that restored Ted Haggard in a matter of a few weeks is being made available to the people of Iowa on a priority basis. If you suspect your spouse has fallen, please contact Gay-B-Gone and they will forward you a trial sample of their revolutionary product Rinse-Away-The-Gay’¦a quick penetrating shampoo that will leave your spouse tingling from the infusion of the holy spirit’¦and you feeling confident that your betrothed is on the road to recovery. Call now’¦the phones are staffed by sympathetic and satisfied customers.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Friday, August 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Who Are You Again?

An Xsociate Files Exclusive.

Commentary By: The Xsociate

Bios cause bad vibes in Baghdad.

WASHINGTON (XF) – A series of thumbnail bios of members of Congress visiting Iraq have some claiming they are being ‘œslimed’ and that the mini-biographies appear to be designed to differentiate them as either for the war or against it. But sources familiar with the documents tell the Xsociate Files that the fliers are actually designed to help soldiers and other service personnel, many of whom have spent the last five years in Iraq, to remember that the US still has a representative democracy.

According to the source, because of prolonged and repeated deployments, many soldiers stationed in Iraq have trouble recalling details from back home.

‘œSome have been there so long they probably have trouble remembering their spouses name, much less the name of their representative in Congress,’ the source said on condition of anonymity.

Critics of the administration claim, however, that the documents are actually designed to aid Pentagon officials in creating a ‘œfog‘ as one lawmaker called it about events taking place in Iraq. Asked at a recent press gaggle if that was the case, outgoing White House Press Secretary Tony Snow denied the allegation.

‘œLook, we have a lot going on right now. And there are a lot of members in Congress. You can’™t expect us to remember all their names,’ Snow said.

‘œMaybe if Gonzales had had these cheat sheets when he testified before the Senate, he might still have a job,’ one prominent critic of the administration is quoted as saying.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Friday, August 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |
Category: Humor

Quick Hits – Iraq, GOP Fems, and McMansion Bailouts

It must be the Friday before a holiday weekend. Why else would so much conservative absurdity be surfacing today?


A couple of great blog postings have crossed my email inbox today, and I thought I’™d share them:

Booman picks up on an absolutely absurd occurrence in Iraq during a recent visit by a GOP congressional delegation. I’™m not even going to tell you what it’™s about. You have to go read it – it’™s that crazy. But here’™s Booman’™s intro to the posting:

Whether it was M*A*S*H, Dr. Strangelove, or Catch-22, I like to see war portrayed as absurd. Even when it is justified, it is absurd. Many Vietnam movies tackle the issue, none more poignantly than Apocalypse Now. I think we have a real life example that speaks volumes in today’™s Washington Post. This could be straight out of Joseph Heller’¦

ASZ’™s most excellent friend Melissa at Shake’™s Sis found some more conservative absurdity in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece posted on Opinion Journal. Apparently, there’™s a strategy that the GOP can use to re-attract the ‘œsecurity moms’. Again, without giving away Lis’™ secret, here’™s a snippet to whet your appetite:

Right out of the box, I can tell I’™m going love Ms. Strassel, given that she subscribes to one of my favorite theories of politics: Vagina Voting. That’™s the theory which proffers that Vagina-Americans (aka ‘œWomen’) are politically attracted to the closest vagina. Hence, all women should want to vote for Hillary. And if Hillary weren’™t in the race, they’™d want to vote for John Edwards, because of Elizabeth’”and also because John Edwards, what with his hair fetish, is practically one big vagina himself’¦

Lastly, I’™m sure that everyone heard about McFlightsuit proposing a bailout for the mortgage industry. Believe me, no matter how much the White House spins it, the bailout is NOT for homeowners. It’™s for his buddies in the banking / financial service industries that are gasping for mortgage air. Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast does a sendup on the latest absurdity in the burgeoning mortgage industry crisis – and she (properly) contrasts the bailout to the lack of assistance for affected people in New Orleans:

Don’™t kid yourself for one minute that this is about helping low-income Americans stay in their homes. If helping low-income Americans stay in their homes were the goal, the 9th Ward of New Orleans wouldn’™t still be in ruins two years after Hurricane Katrina, its citizens dispersed elsewhere, the better to turn Louisiana into a Republican state and a cash cow for Bush’™s corporate cronies. This Administration has dragged its heels on helping the most high-profile poor people in the country, but when the wealthy start to feel the effects, suddenly this president rushes into action’¦

If you’™ve found some online absurdity today that needs to see the light of day, by gawd, post it in the comments!!

Friday, August 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Wedding Bells in Iowa!

A judge struck down Iowa’™s DOMA law, and gay couples are beginning to line up at the courhouses. Good for them, bad for political discourse in Iowa over the next several months.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Gay marriage comes to the heartland. From the AP Wire:

A county judge struck down Iowa’™s decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional Thursday and ordered local officials to process marriage licenses for six gay couples.

Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert Hanson’™s ruling.

Less than two hours after word of the ruling was publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license, the first time the county had accepted a same-sex application. The approval process takes three days.

Gary Allen Seronko, 51, was listed as the groom on the form and David Curtis Rethmeier, 29, the bride.

‘œI started to cry because we so badly want to be able to be protected if something happens to one of us,’ Rethmeier said.

Deputy Recorder Trish Umthun said she took five calls from gay couples after the judge filed his ruling Thursday afternoon and expected a rush of applications Friday.

Of course, this will be appealed, and the Christians all over Iowa will be calling for an amendment to the state constitution. Politicians, and every single one running for President is in the state constantly, are now going to be asked the gay marriage question. So we’™re going to be focused on this issue from now until the caucuses, to the exclusion of other very important issues. Don’™t get me wrong, civil rights for gay people are very important, but they should not dominate our discussions, and believe me, they will dominate over the next several months in Iowa. Yeah, I’™m not seeing this as all good news.

Friday, August 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |

There Is No Constitutional Right to Wear a Slogan on a T-Shirt

The whack job Christians are at it again. In this case, they are seeking special rights to wear stupid T-Shirts. No, that isn’™t in the constitution. . . not that they can spell the word. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Nope, that’™s nowhere in the constitution whatsoever. And the fact that T-Shirt slogans are not protected is not a sign that our forefathers were devil worshippers. There’™s no reason, as Les says, to play the ‘œpoor persecuted Christian card.’

In this case, we’™re talking about a school dress code. Everyone is to wear khakis and a polo shirt with no insignia on the polo shirt. Sounds fair to me. But the mother of Tracy Prochnow is complaining because of Tracy’™s fourth violation of the dress code. And, yes, she is playing the poor persecuted Christian card. Here’™s the story:

The mother of a student who was suspended for violating her school system’™s dress code says the rules unfairly target religion, WRTV in Indianapolis reported.

Tracy Prochnow said Highland High School in Indiana suspended her daughter, Brittany Brown, on Monday because the junior wore a Christian-themed T-shirt.

Monday was the fourth time Brittany violated the code, which the city’™s school board implemented this year and requires students to wear khakis and polo shirts.

Prochnow said the school may be violating her daughter’™s rights, and she has asked the school board to change the code.

‘œI don’™t believe it matters what she’™s wearing ‘” whether it be a T-shirt and jeans or polo and khakis ‘” as to what she’™s going to learn,’ Prochnow told WRTV.

The front of Brittany’™s T-shirt features a cross and the words ‘œThis Shirt Is Illegal In 51 Countries.’ The back quotes the Bible’™s Romans 1:16: ‘œI am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God ‘¦ the salvation of everyone who believes.’

‘œThe school is basically saying I can’™t wear a shirt that talks about Jesus or Christ or God or any religious type of T-shirt because we have to wear a polo,’ Brittany said.

The school’™s principal, Mark Finger, said the dress code doesn’™t target religious beliefs.

‘œThe policy states there are to be no logos or slogans on a shirt,’ Finger said.

OK, I’™m going to the really obvious here, that Mrs. Prochnow is just plain stupid. The school policy does not, in fact, focus on religion at all. What it is likely intended to do is make sure clothing is not a distraction at school. No, Mrs. Prochnow, there is no right in our society for your daughter to wear slogans on her T-Shirts, whether the slogan is about religion or whether the slogan is about how stupid her own mother is.

As Misty points out, Mrs. Prochnow and her daughter knew what the dress code was and Mrs. Prochnow allowed her daughter to violate that code four different times. I gotta wonder whether she is a fit mother.

(Want some fun? Go check out the comments underneath this news story. The Christians supporting Mrs. Prochnow and her delinquent daughter are hilarious!)

Friday, August 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |

More Massaging

The Bushies are doing so much massaging it’™s starting to cause tissue damage.

Commentary By: The Xsociate

Almost immediately after a GAO report that showed Iraq’™s leaders were flunking the benchmark test for surge success was leaked to the press, the White House set about to downplay its findings. According to the Bushies, the congressional report shouldn’™t be given too much credit because it wasn’™t grading on a curve. See in Bushworld, grades only matter when you’™re doing well.

Well we may now have another instance of them playing fast and loose with numbers. From The National Security Network (via Kevin Drum):

There were significant revisions to the way the Pentagon’™s reports measure sectarian violence between its March 2007 report and its June 2007 report. The original data for the five months before the surge began (September 2006 through January 2007) indicated approximately 5,500 sectarian killings. In the revised data in the June 2007 report, those numbers had been adjusted to roughly 7,400 killings ‘” a 25% increase. These discrepancies have the impact of making the sectarian violence appear significantly worse during the fall and winter of 2006 before the President’™s ‘œsurge’ began.

Which would in turn given the impression that lower instances of sectarian killings during the surge would mean it’™s working. Of course when you factor in seasonal statistics, you find that violence tends to decrease during the hottest of the summer months. It was almost as if the Bushies knew this when they started the surge’¦

All this data Shiatsu was apparently the last straw for the Pentagon since they are now affectively throwing up their hands and saying to Bush ‘œIt’™s your mess, you deal with it’. It’™s not really surprising since the commanders weren’™t too keen on the surge to begin with but it is still not exactly good for troop morale knowing your commanders are practically washing their hands of the situation. Even more depressing is they are leaving the decisions up to cadre who don’™t have soldiers, or the country’™s, best interests in mind.

See also Cernig.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Friday, August 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Mr. President…Democracy Is As Democracy Does

When the President characterizes the quest to bring freedom and democracy to the world as the fundamental struggle confronting civilization, I can’t help but think of the Michael Jackson song…the one that says “I’m starting with the man in the mirror”. Mr. President, may I sincerely suggest you take a look?

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

I like it when a simple situation can provide insight into more complex matters…and a new article in the Washington Post delivers the goods. It has long been thought that the Bush administration has sought to orchestrate events…big and small…for political advantage. In fact, if one has read much of what has been written about Karl Rove since his announced departure, the Bush administration rarely missed an opportunity to exploit an event for partisan gain.

The latest example involves a lawsuit filed by two individuals who were ejected from a Bush event because they wore objectionable clothing that wasn’t favorable to the President. As a byproduct of that lawsuit, the Bush administration was forced to release an instruction manual which details the measures taken to insure that presidential appearances were partisan events…events where protest and dissent were quickly quashed.

In viewing some of the detail contained in that document, one is able to see the degree to which this administration was willing to circumvent opposing views. It also helps explain the concerns that this President has chosen to isolate himself from those who do not share his vision or his views…leaving him unaware of the other relevant arguments and convinced that his thoughts are not only mainstream; they are majority mandates that must be maintained.

Not that they’re worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn’t want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of “deterring potential protestors” from President Bush’s public appearances around the country.

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by “rally squads” stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent – just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police “to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route.”

The “Presidential Advance Manual,” dated October 2002 with the stamp “Sensitive – Do Not Copy,” was released under subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of two people arrested for refusing to cover their anti-Bush T-shirts at a Fourth of July speech at the West Virginia State Capitol in 2004.

The manual demonstrates “that the White House has a policy of excluding and/or attempting to squelch dissenting viewpoints from presidential events,” said ACLU lawyer Jonathan Miller. “Individuals should have the right to express their opinion to the president, even if it’s not a favorable one.”

I find it interesting that a man who likes to fashion himself as a champion of freedom and democracy has so little regard for enabling it…when it may take the form of dissent…and therefore not agree with his vision of it. Even more ironic is the fact that the President, just this week, chose to label himself as a dissident. Its difficult to avoid the contradictions.

As to providing insight into more complex matters, I can’t help but wonder what can be discerned about other policies enacted by the White House that have yet to be exposed. I also can’t help but think back to the presidency of Richard Nixon…the last occupant of the Oval Office who had a compulsive streak with regard to those whom he regarded as his opponents.

As I allow myself to explore the possibilities, I find no comfort in my thoughts. Permit me to offer some plausible concerns. There are many. They include the surveillance programs discussed in the NSA scandal and subsequently monitored by the FISA court, issues of torture with regard to enemy combatants, the holding of prisoners in Guantanamo and other unidentified facilities without due process, the possibility that U.S. Attorneys were fired for failing to better serve the partisan goals of the GOP, the institution of signing statements designed to modify legislation which fails to meet with the President’s favor, and the outing of Valerie Plame in order to discredit her husband’s contentions with regards to WMD’s and the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Let’s look at one particular item. With the recent expansion of the surveillance measures allowed under the FISA court…a move the Bush administration argued was essential to combat terrorism…we clearly see an area vulnerable to the abuses of power one might expect from a leader who is obsessed with conformity and who has a history of seeking to silence those who would undermine his message (as evidenced by the “manual”.

Yes, we can all agree that it is important to prevent terrorist attacks…but just this week we saw the Pentagon cancel the TALON program…an anti-terror database used to gather information…information that included the activities of anti-war groups as well as LGBT advocacy organizations…groups clearly unrelated to the purpose underlying the establishment of the program. Again, if abuse exists in this program, what other abuses are taking place that we have yet to uncover?

The questions raised by this and other examples are many and they all center on concerns about the misuse of power. If a president is willing to create a manual to manage and monitor those who attend his public appearances…and such activities typify a mentality prone to pushing the partisan envelope…one must wonder what other measures have been established…or what other legitimate programs have been hijacked in order to carry out other similar activities.

Once one begins to explore this area of thought, another concern emerges…the one that became known as “stonewalling” during the Nixon years…and is now being called “executive privilege” by the Bush administration. Let’s again look at the contradictions.

Here we have a President who has made the exportation of freedom and democracy the flagship of his administration…and at the same time…here at home…he has made it a practice to circumvent both under the guise of national security. Am I alone in seeing the inconsistencies? I struggle to understand a man who would…on the one hand…be willing to risk his legacy upon a doctrine of creating democracies around the world and accepting of the likelihood that history will be unkind in recounting his actions …and then on the other hand, be willing to approach issues of established democratic process at home with such disdain and a seeming disregard for all that he so firmly and fervently espouses.

If he has done no wrong, then no wrong can come from allowing the democratic process to verify as much. In doing so, would he not be demonstrating his commitment to the form of government he insists can bring peace and prosperity to the world? When his actions seem just the opposite, one must view the dissonance with skepticism…all the while looking for a palatable explanation. Stepping back, his actions with regard to public appearances and the creation of a manual offer the necessary blocks upon which to build a reasoned rationale.

The President’s apologists would contend that his actions at home are simply a reasonable response to the partisan proclivities of his detractors which have been designed to cast disfavor on the President and the GOP. In the absence of his unpopular and controversial actions with regard to Iraq, I might accept that argument…an argument that could sensibly conclude that no president should do that which is detrimental to his retention of power…especially if it is part and parcel of a partisan effort to undermine his support.

Unfortunately, this President casts himself as a man of principle and conviction…arguing that while his actions in Iraq may be unpopular with the voting public, they are the right thing to do. Is it logical for a man of this ilk to take a completely opposite approach at home? If democracy is the holy grail for the people of Iraq and other oppressed nations, why subvert it here in the United States? If the President has done no wrong, why not let the democratic process do what it does best…expose truth…and therefore illuminate the promise of a free and open society.

The fact that he hasn’t and the fact that he continues to employ efforts to obstruct and obfuscate serve to invalidate his intentions…leaving objective observers suspicious as to his sincerity. Let me be clear…I’m not suggesting that a President should never refuse to cooperate with Congress…but in looking at the Bush administration it becomes a question of degree. Clearly, this President has made it a matter of practice…a quantitative fact which must be viewed in its proper historical context…leaving one doubtful and disturbed by the persistent patterns.

In the final analysis, the difference between the activities of the Bush administration and those of Richard Nixon are little more than the fact that the Bush administration has had the benefit of a war on terror upon which it has been able to legally piggyback it’s efforts to monitor and manage those who are viewed as opponents. Regardless, the intentions and the abuses which have resulted are no less heinous and no less indicative of a man obsessed with maintaining power and silencing or stifling those who might seek to unseat him.

When the President characterizes the quest to bring freedom and democracy to the world as the fundamental struggle confronting civilization, I can’t help but think of the Michael Jackson song…the one that says “I’m starting with the man in the mirror”. Mr. President, may I sincerely suggest you take a look?

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007 by Daniel DiRito |

A Thoroughly Modern America…Think Again?

I have doubts about the potential of a woman or a black man to be elected to the presidency…not as a function of their competency to lead…but as a function of inherent prejudices that lurk within the psyche of some segments of our society. Simultaneously, I’ve felt that the growing opposition to our rapidly expanding immigrant population contains an element of ethnic bias. I have to wonder if we aren’t standing upon the precipice of a period of exclusion and a re-kindling of old, yet inextinguishable inequities.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

We Americans like to think of ourselves as evolved individuals who embrace freedom and equality for all…and in many ways our history has demonstrated the truth found in this assumption. At the same time, we haven’t encountered that many recent opportunities to test the merits of our hypothesis.

As I read the news this morning, I found myself wondering if we may be on the verge of moving in the opposite direction…or, at the least, if our stated commitment to such beliefs might be little more than a nice piece of veneer applied to a hidden harbor of hostility.

The events of 9/11 undoubtedly created a heightened level of fear…a level we Americans have rarely been forced to face. In its aftermath, we have seen a growing willingness to suspend some of the civil liberties which have highlighted our purported belief in an open society and a transparent system of governance.

While I understand the inclination and the necessity to act in this manner (within reason), I find myself concerned that such actions may be a slippery slope towards the adoption of other attitudes that serve to undermine the principles upon which this nation was founded.

I suspect many readers may be thinking I’m about to discuss the efforts of our President to allow for greater clandestine surveillance along with other measures he has sought to detect and minimize terrorist threats. While I do view such measures with a healthy degree of skepticism, my observations today are focused upon the thoughts and beliefs we each hold as individuals and which impact America’s status as a beacon for the tenets of democracy and equality.

For some time now, I’ve expressed doubts to friends and acquaintances about the potential of a woman or a black man to be elected to the presidency…not as a function of their competency to lead…but as a function of inherent prejudices that lurk within the psyche of some segments of our society. Simultaneously, I’ve felt that the growing opposition to our rapidly expanding immigrant population contains an element of ethnic bias in addition to the many legitimate concerns that can be associated with shoddy border control.

Today, three articles caught my attention and lent support to my suspicions. The following excerpts are from the first article.

From McClatchy News:

DES MOINES, Iowa – A pair of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmares trudged past a giant blue “Hillary for President” sign outside the Iowa State Fair here with palpable disgust.

“Hillary can go to hell,” said Alice Aszman, 66, a Democrat from Ottumwa. “I’ll never vote for her. I don’t think a woman should be president. I think a man should. They’ve got more authority.”

Her husband, Daniel, 50, also a Democrat, agreed: “I think women should stay home instead of being boss.”

A July poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers by the University of Iowa found that Clinton had 30 percent support among women and 18 percent among men. By comparison, there was no difference in gender support for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who got 21 percent from both men and women.

The same poll found that 32 percent of women strongly agreed that Clinton was electable, while only 14 percent of men did. And 30 percent of women strongly agreed that Clinton was the Democrats’ strongest candidate, while only 17 percent of men did.

In a general election however, it could be a major problem, because men traditionally vote for Republicans at a higher rate than women vote for Democrats.

“She has to be careful the men don’t split against her more than women split for her,” Smith said.

As I read the article, two items stand out. One, we tend to view bias or prejudice as coming exclusively from those who are different than the one at whom the bias or prejudice is directed…meaning bias towards women should come from men and bias towards men should come from women. Unfortunately, that assumption isn’t accurate and the evidence…in the case of Senator Clinton…pours out of the mouths of other women who embrace established societal notions that gender can and should be a limiting factor in certain circumstances.

Two, the long established view that women should have narrowly defined roles in society…roles that are predominantly subservient to men…remain well established among men in America and women who operate outside these parameters are frequently met with derogatory characterizations. While a strong male figure receives the admiration of many males, a strong female is frequently viewed as acerbic and the object of misogynistic ridicule.

Moving onto the next article, the following excerpts point to the underlying obstacles faced by a black man when seeking to hold the highest office in the land.

From The Philadelphia Enquirer:

A computer search finds 464 instances in which Obama’s name appears in print in conjunction with the phrase black enough. The first was in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2003 when he was preparing to run for the Senate. Writer Laura Washington recalled his loss in an earlier House race to a South Side incumbent. “Whispers abounded,” she wrote, “that Obama was –not black enough.’ “

Washington went on to recall how her uncle, a retired black railroad worker, had seen Obama wearing “a thousand-dollar coat” while visiting a public-housing project. Her uncle, she said, “dismissed him as an –elitist.’ “

And isn’t that telling? A black rapper who visited that same housing project wearing a thousand-dollar coat would be celebrated and emulated. A black politician who does so is an elitist.

Man, I wouldn’t walk in Barack Obama’s shoes for a million dollars. Oh, he seems like a swell guy. But it must get real old real fast being America’s tabula rasa, its blank slate upon which it projects unresolved racial aspirations and fears. If it has been painful watching some conservative white Americans project upon him the latter (Is he too black? Is he Muslim? What about that weird name?), it has been just as painful, if not more so, watching many black Americans grappling with the former.

So the question of whether he’s “black enough” reveals more about the people asking than the man being asked. Liberal, and black, and conservative, and white, we have projected our own realities upon this guy, have written like mad upon the blank slate.

Again, we see much the same with regards to Senator Obama. His obstacles are twofold. He must overcome the objections that emanate from within his own racial profile. Senator Obama, much like a woman candidate for president, has to contend with the objections of blacks who see his success as an indication that he has abandoned his racial constituents in favor of winning the approval of whites.

I was particularly struck by the comparison made with regard to the expensive coat. The success achieved by a senator with a good education and excellent credentials can potentially be viewed to be inferior to the success of a rapper. In that dynamic, one can’t help but notice the built-in resistance to change and the peer pressures that exist to prevent certain types of social, cultural, and economic mobility.

At the same time, the senator is confronted by the bias and prejudice that one might well expect to be directed at his candidacy from those racial groups which have had a history of viewing blacks as lesser and unfit to serve as president.

The following excerpts from the final article confront the question of immigration and the growing animosity that permeates the topic.

From McClatchy News:

Scores of organizations, ranging from mainstream to fringe groups, are marshalling forces in what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls “a war here at home” against illegal immigration, which he says is as important as America’s conflicts being fought overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While most of the groups register legitimate, widespread concerns about the impact of illegal immigration on jobs, social services and national security, the intense rhetoric is generating fears of an emerging dark side, evident in growing discrimination against Hispanics and a surge of xenophobia unseen since the last big wave of immigration in the early 20th century.

The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said the number of “nativist extremist” organizations advocating against illegal immigration has grown from virtually zero just over five years ago to 144, including nine classified as hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan supremacists.

Demographers and immigration experts say the passions over illegal immigration in the opening decade of the 21st century are comparable to those that swept through American cities with the surge of immigrants who descended on U.S. shores from the 1900s to the 1920s.

The latest wave of immigrants – both legal and illegal – is predominated by Mexicans and other Latin Americans who are venturing deep into the U.S. interior to follow the job market, often settling in towns and cities that, just a few years earlier, were unaccustomed to Hispanics.

The resulting demographic impact on local communities can often lead to social tensions that help explain the intensity of feelings over illegal immigration, said Meissner and other experts.

John Trasvina, president of the Los Angeles-based Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), said the backlash over illegal immigrants is clearly generating widening anti-Hispanic sentiments, often exemplified in hate rhetoric on talk shows and over the Internet.

MALDEF has thus far prevailed in legally defeating municipal immigration ordinances, but Trasvina said that “a poisonous atmosphere” remains.

“What these ordinances do is add tension to the communities,” he said. “So a woman in the grocery is talking to her daughter in Spanish. It emboldens the person standing in line behind her to say, –Hey, speak English.’”

It seems to me that the growing opposition to the expanding Mexican and Latin American immigrant populations may be the best example of the pervasive nature of bias and prejudice. I would argue that the recent outcry results from the perceived threat to our established cultural structure has reached a point of critical mass.

For well over two decades, the influx of immigrants served our interests…interests which included cheap labor in the form of migrant workers, nannies, housekeepers, landscapers, and other roles which Americans viewed to be inferior. While these immigrants remained in the background such that their impact on society was difficult to observe, many Americans were willing to benefit from their presence.

As these immigrant populations became a visible and measurable force in society, their presence has met with a growing disfavor…some of which results from racial prejudice and has led to such vocal and vehement opposition. Efforts to portray the negative impact of immigrants upon society has suddenly overwhelmed much, if not most, of their positive contributions.

In the end, these three articles paint a troubling picture. Despite numerous admirable attributes and an historical willingness to be welcoming and inclusive, I have to wonder if we aren’t standing upon the precipice of a period of exclusion and a re-kindling of old, yet inextinguishable inequities.

While the current administration seems to be focused upon exporting our way of life to the obviously oppressed, we at home may well be in the process of dismantling or erasing the hard fought principles this country has toiled to achieve…the same principles this president has so persistently sought to promote. At the moment, I find myself struggling to view this as a win-win situation.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Monday, August 20th, 2007 by Daniel DiRito |

David Walker, American Cassandra

A belief in “national exceptionalism” is a uniquely American trait, regardless of political ideology. But, as a recent speech by the U.S. Comptroller General points out, the caesars who ruled the ancient Roman empire probably thought they were pretty exceptional, too…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

CassandraMost of us in a certain demographic were required to struggle through a course in Greek mythology at some point in our education. I’m one of those rare people who actually enjoyed reading Edith Hamilton compilations – because everyone of substance in Greek mythology had superpowers of some sort.

Cassandra foresaw the downfall of Troy to the Greeks. Unfortunately, no one believed her when she tried to warn the locals about the wooden horse thing. It turns out that the god Apollo had bestowed the gift of prophecy on Cassandra. However, when she wouldn’t give up her chastity to Apollo, he placed a curse on Cassandra such that no one would believe her dire predictions. And so, even with advance warning from her, the Greeks eventually sacked the city of Troy.

Very recently, a high-level cassandra in the U.S. government warned that:

The US government is on a –burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned.

David Walker, Comptroller General of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”…

Sounds pretty dire, huh? It is. The Financial Times article from which the quoted paragraphs above were taken is mild, at least compared to the actual presentation (.pdf file) that U.S. Comptroller General David Walker made recently to the Federal Midwest Human Resources Council. At the FMHRC, Walker said:

…there are striking similarities between America’s current situation and that of another great power from the past: Rome. The Roman Empire lasted 1,000 years, but only about half that time as a republic. The Roman Republic fell for many reasons, but three reasons are worth remembering: declining moral values and political civility at home, an overconfident and overextended military in foreign lands, and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. Sound familiar? In my view, it’s time to learn from history and take steps to ensure the American Republic is the first to stand the test of time…

So why should anyone listen to David Walker? Perhaps because he’s really the only bi-partisan voice in an increasingly partisan debate, and he has access to the “books”. He and his agency know what’s going on – one of the purposes of the GAO is to run simulations on the economy, and in particular, government spending. The choices that he sees in the future are all unpleasant. Unfortunately, he takes a pollyanna approach, rather than that of Cassandra, when it comes to assessing the will of the U.S. government and the American people to deal with a myriad of looming crises:

…Please don’t misunderstand my message today. Things are far from hopeless. Yes, it’s going to take some difficult choices on a range of issues. But I’m convinced America will rise to the challenge, just as we did during World War II and other difficult times.

What’s needed now is leadership. The kind of leadership that leads to meaningful and lasting change has to be bipartisan and broad-based. Character also counts. We need men and women with courage, integrity, and creativity. Leaders who can partner for progress and are committed to truly and properly discharging their stewardship responsibilities…

Walker acknowledges that some difficult choices need to be made, and then goes on imply that some sort of bold leadership is going to drop from the sky. I’m hard pressed to find reason for his optimism.

Government leaders, on both sides of the political aisle and in civil service, are too self interested and vested in pre-existing agendas. If the past ten or fifteen years have taught us nothing else, it’s that politicians will rarely make the difficult choices that might upset the applecart of lobbyist-controlled politics.

Government leadership ceased to be about what’s best for the country sometime soon after John F. Kennedy uttered the words, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country“. There just aren’t many altruistic politicians or government leaders in this day and age. Even if we replaced all of the bad actors in the next few years with leaders who really did care about the long term prospects of America, it’s hard to see how a new set of political bosses could make an immediate difference. After years of intentional abuse of the constitution by all three branches of government (and the benign neglect of an American public that let it happen), the hope for a better future seems somewhat misplaced. The Queensbury rules of politics have long been discarded by both political parties, and the willingness to do what’s right for the country no longer seems to exist.

[...big sigh...]

In his speech, Walker invoked the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt as an example of what can happen when a truly inspired leader takes the reigns, and moves the nation in a forward direction. Does Mr. Walker, or anyone else for that matter, believe that within the current crop of Democratic or Republican party candidates there is someone who has either the personal moxy or the impramateur of divine providence (for lack of a better phrase) needed to turn America in the right direction?

A belief in “national exceptionalism” is a uniquely American trait, regardless of political ideology. No doubt that the Romans felt that way, too.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

An Epitaph For Karl Rove

For those of us who have been scapegoated and betrayed by these GOP giants, today’s farewell was little more that a glaring reminder of Gethsemane. As I watched these two men walk towards their waiting helicopter…there to whisk Karl Rove and his political puppet away from the White House…together…for the last time…I had but one epitaph in mind…good riddance Karl Rove!

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

Epitaphs are typically reserved for the dead…but after reading the many views on the passing of Karl Rove…from his role in the George Bush White House…one might conclude that the “Wicked Witch” has had the misfortune of being under a falling house…one of his own mean spirited making. All that remains is to find the correct words for a fitting close.

Ironically, what looked at one point to be an invincible house…a virtual dynasty devised to withstand all efforts to bring about its demise…has seemingly crumbled under the weight of far too many cards dealt by a master of sleight of hand and an illusionist who was one rabbit shy of completing his final hat trick…perpetual GOP domination. In what one might call Mr. Rove’s house of mirrors, at some point the image that reflected back undoubtedly transformed the once invincible domicile into a house of horrors that became far too frightening to endure.

Unlike the great Houdini, who went on with the show even after receiving what would be his final and fatal blow, Karl Rove has chosen to make his escape…an escape more fitting of the resident church mouse…the one that inhabits the dark corners and travels from room to room…not out in the open…but in quiet calculating silence inside the walls…mindful of the smoldering infrastructure and the pending collapse of a metaphorical electrical grid that the ravenous rodent himself has stripped of its essential sheathing.

Karl Rove made a practice of sinking his self-aggrandizing and savaging teeth into any and all who stood between the weasel and the White House…and once he was able to inhabit its hallowed walls…walls he made hollow…he continued his drive to divide, defeat, and devour.

When I read the gratuitous remarks of his apologists…men like Peter Wehner…who not only wax on about the political genius of Karl Rove, but seek to paint him as “a deeply wonderful human being”, I am sickened at the apparent shortsightedness of these sheltered scions of society.

Karl Rove never met a man or a constituent group he didn’t seek to exploit for political gain…and as best I can tell, his scorched earth approach rarely, if ever, left him wondering about the welfare of the many innocent individuals that may have been consumed in the carnage he created with calloused and cunning calculations.

Mr. Wehner makes the mistake of many who live with the promise of privilege…those who have neither built the trough at which they feed nor done the hard work to harvest the feast that fills it…they stand shoulder to shoulder with other gluttonous and greedy purveyors of pain…sopping up the spoils while pushing the powerless under the proverbial bus. Pardon my disgust, but fine men aren’t made by driving on and over others.

While Karl Rove and his cronies see themselves as king makers, they climbed the pole of power on the backs of those they sought to sacrifice. His legacy of unleashing hatred upon homosexuals in order to herd the holier than thou hoards into the ballot box may be his hallmark…but calling him an honorable human being is simply another symbol of the corrupted Christian cacophony he sought to coerce.

While George Bush and Karl Rove gathered this morning in the glorious garden to exchange their eisegesistic epistles intended to honor the end or an era, millions of Americans continued to mourn the moment these men managed to maneuver and morph themselves into mythical moralists.

For those of us who have been scapegoated and betrayed by these GOP giants, today’s farewell was little more than a glaring reminder of Gethsemane. As I watched these two men walk towards their waiting helicopter…there to whisk Karl Rove and his political puppet away from the White House…together…for the last time…I had but one epitaph in mind…good riddance Karl Rove!

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Monday, August 13th, 2007 by Daniel DiRito |
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