Award Winning Company Waterboards Employee

A motivational coaching company in Utah is being sued by a former employee for using waterboarding as a performance improvement technique. No word yet on whether snarling dogs, loud music, or pictures of Dick Cheney were also being used to properly inspire the employees.

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So, you think you have a crappy job?

This is what happens when torture becomes acceptable in the mainstream. It’™s also quite a stark commentary on the state of corporate employee / employer relationships:

A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Provo is accused of waterboarding an employee in front of his sales team to demonstrate that they should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe. In a lawsuit filed last month, former Prosper, Inc. salesman Chad Hudgens alleges his managers also allowed the supervisor to draw mustaches on employees’™ faces, take away their chairs and beat on their desks with a wooden paddle ‘œbecause it resulted in increased revenues for the company.’ ‘¦

I’™ve heard of some extreme motivational techniques in the workplace, but this just seems a bit over the top to me. No word yet whether or not the company endorses electrodes clamped to employee’™s genitalia as an additional incentive not to slack off on the job.

Is this how Prosper, Inc. won the E&Y Utah Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2005?

There’™s a Dick Cheney joke in here someplace, but I’™m too tired from traveling today to develop it right now.

Friday, February 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Time to Discuss Corrupt Democrats

Democratic corruption is usually at the city or state level. We don’™t have Karl Roves and Dick Cheneys and Jack Abramoffs who make national news. We’™ve still got corrupt politicians, though, and we still need to root them out. It is a shame when our leaders turn their heads while the corruption continues.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

homeCorruption in the Republican Party has seemingly resided at the top over the last few years. National figures are responsible for US Attorney scandals and leaking classified information about CIA agents. National figures and Congressman and Senators have gone down for payoffs in the Abramoff scandals, and More Republican Senators and Governors have been caught with their pants literally down. In the Democratic Party, corruption seems to be local, but when it happens it still gets one upset, and I’™m upset this morning. Let’™s start with Anna C. Verna, there on the left.

Ms. Verna is the head of City Council here in Philadelphia, a very powerful position in our government. She put together a commission to recommend a candidate for an important position to the veterans in our city, the Director of Veteran’™s Affairs. That commission recommneded Robert Politz, a man with 20 years in the field and with a Masters degree in counselling. That should have been that. The job description calls for a college degree and experience in the field after all. But, no.

Anna Verna decided to use the appointment to make a political favor, instead. Edgar Howard has never worked with veterans, and has no college degree, but he’™s a former city commissioner until he got booted by the voters, and he’™s probably done a few favors for Anna Verna in the past. So Anna Verna appointed Howard, then she increased the salary of the position by 60%. Veterans are upset, and we all should be. Here’™s a bit from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The maneuver has infuriated city veterans.

‘œIt got me upset that we couldn’™t get the candidate we all thought was best, but what really burns my bridges is that he’™s got the gall to take the director’™s money and the deputy’™s money,’ said Ernest Landers, a member of the Veterans Advisory Commission and an American Legion leader. ‘œIt’™s a slap in the face to veterans.’

The city’™s American Legion chapter has begun drafting a resolution condemning Verna’™s decision and declaring that Council ‘œdoes not consider the interests of veterans to be of any concern or interest to them.’

Politz has also responded angrily, but it looks like Michael Nutter is not going to get involved.

Last week, Politz, 60, wrote an impassioned letter to Mayor Nutter, imploring him to exercise ‘œfearless leadership’ and intervene. The letter castigated Verna and Council for their ‘œshameful disregard of the efforts of the Veterans Advisory Commission’ and their ‘œcomplete and utter failure to put the interest of the people ahead of the greed and self-preservation of a few.’

Politz said he debated whether or not to write the letter for weeks, concerned that it would come across as sour grapes.

‘œI’™m not interested in pursuing anything in terms of employment. This really now is a matter of legitimizing the advisory commission and not using the office as some kind of depository for politicos,’ Politz said.

Nutter, however, will not be getting involved.

Administration spokesman Doug Oliver said the matter ‘œrests squarely within the purview of the Council president.’

‘œThe mayor trusts the Council president’™s judgment and respects her right to make the call,’ Oliver said.

That’™s bound to disappoint Politz, who sees the episode as a case of politicians taking care of their own at the expense of taxpayers and citizens who rely on city services.

‘œYou know the reality of this stuff exists,’ Politz said. ‘œBut when you see it firsthand, it’™s an eye-opener.’

Our veterans deserve better than Anna Verna has given them, and our city deserves better. Indeed, Michael Nutter’™s hands may be tied, and he may have made a decision here about this not being the battle to fight with City Council, but I’™m thinking a bit more light on this subject will at least alert citizens just how their City Council works, by dishing out favors. Heck, though, that’™s nothing new. Vince Fumo, indicted now on 139 counts, perfected the art of dishing out favors in his time in the State Senate. Do you imagine any politician criticizing Mr. Fumo? Not the ones who wat to stay in office, that’™s for sure.

Ed Rendell, for instance, is quoted in today’™s Philadelphia Inquirer that if asked he will endorse Vince Fumo in the Democratic primary for State Senator. I’™m a bit floored. Sure, his nickname is ‘œFast Eddie,’ and Rendell is known as a bit of a dealer, but to endorse a man who is the subject of a 139 count indictment is to ignore our system of justice. Rendell used to be a prosecutor, and he should know better. But here’™s Ed Rendell’™s words on supporting indicted State Senator Vince Fumo, also from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

‘œHe hasn’™t asked, and I haven’™t done a formal endorsement, but all things being equal, I probably would,’ Rendell said. ‘œWe would be lost in Harrisburg without him because of his skill. He has done great things, and we are lucky to have him.’

No, Ed, we’™ll be lucky if we can get rid of people like Vince Fumo in our party. We need to dream, Ed, and that dream needs to be about getting rid of corruption, whether it is of the Anna Verna type or the Vince Fumo type. And we need Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter, two of the biggest political voices in our state, to do the leading in rooting out corruption. In these isntances, Nutter has demurred, and Rendell is actively offering to support a corrupt official. Not good news.

Friday, February 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Nancy Peolosi, Contempt of Congress, and a Stupid Question

How is it that miscreants from the Bush administration can ignore legally issued congressional subpoenas, be cited for contempt of congress, yet still walk the streets with apparent immunity from prosecution (or arrest or detention) by the U.S. Justice Department?

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I am quite floored by this. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demanded that the Justice Department (gasp!) enforce the law:

Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the following letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, informing him of the referral letter sent to U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia Jeffrey Taylor on contempt citations of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Taylor is required by law to bring the matter before a grand jury. However, Mukasey has indicated that the Justice Department intends to prevent Taylor from complying with the law’¦

In essence, Miers and Bolten refused to comply with congressional subpoenas to appear.

Let me ask a stupid question. Supposing that I was subpoenaed to appear in a local or county court for either a criminal or civil matter, however minor. And, let’™s suppose that I refused to appear. What would happen?

A local magistrate could (and would) issue a bench warrant for my arrest. My name would be entered into a police database such that if I were driving down the road, with a bench warrant on my head, if I were driving a car registered in my name an pulled over by the local Hooterville constabulary, I’™d be cuffed and taken to the local lockup until I made an appearance before the judge.

So how is it that miscreants from the Bush administration can ignore legally issued congressional subpoenas, be cited for contempt of congress, yet still walk the streets with apparent immunity from prosecution (or arrest or detention) by the U.S. Justice Department?

Isn’™t that kind of making a mockery of the law for the rest of us? I’™m just saying’¦

Thursday, February 28th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Mac & Sleeze: When Serving Kinder Gentler Compassionate Conservatism Just Won’t Do?

With John McCain as the inevitable Republican nominee, voters may believe we’™re moving beyond choreographed character assassinations and stealth swiftboating strategies. My hunch is that the GOP’™s new approach will include John McCain appearing to take the high road while the usual suspects redouble their efforts to eviscerate the enemy.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

MacSleezeThose hoping for a kinder gentler presidential election complete with a heaping helping of compassionate conservatism might want to prepare themselves for a plate of partisan politics that will be far less palatable. I find myself suspecting that the GOP may be laying the groundwork for a bait and switch strategy aimed at satisfying voters newfound penchant for a civil campaign.

With the emergence of John McCain as the seemingly inevitable Republican nominee, voters may be under the impression that we’™re moving beyond choreographed character assassinations and stealth swiftboating strategies. My hunch is that the GOP’™s alternate approach includes John McCain appearing to take the high road while the usual suspects redouble their efforts to eviscerate the enemy.

I’™ll try to explain. This week, we may have witnessed a preview of the plan. My concern is that the orchestration was evidenced in Bill Cunningham’™s introduction of Senator McCain (and his effort to define Barack Obama)’¦which was followed by Senator McCain rapidly renouncing Cunningham’™s remarks’¦even though the campaign had arranged the appearance of the raucous radio personality.

What happened before and after McCain’™s criticism seems implausible to me. How could the McCain campaign have been so oblivious to what Cunningham was going to say? Why did Cunningham almost instantly withdraw his support for the Senator’¦stating instead that he would now join Ann Coulter in supporting Hillary Clinton? One, I can’™t imagine the McCain campaign didn’™t discuss the introduction with Cunningham. Second, I doubt anyone who is so well connected to a campaign such that they are chosen to introduce the candidate makes such an instantaneous about face. Hence, it’™s important to analyze his actions; searching for the underlying objective.

Note that in shifting his support to Clinton, Cunningham has left himself room to change his mind should Obama be the Democratic candidate (the same candidate he sought to define as a soft on terror Muslim sympathizer). If we project ahead, let’™s suppose Obama is the Democratic nominee; leaving the Coulter’™s and Cunningham’™s of the GOP without a candidate. We could assume they won’™t vote’¦or we could assume something far more strategically savvy. Using Cunningham’™s own word, I look for these current outliers to suddenly announce their own ‘œkumbaya’ moment’¦the one that states, ‘œI actually supported Hillary Clinton’¦and that’™s a difficult calculation to make’¦but when I imagine an Obama presidency as the alternative to John McCain, I have to support John McCain’.

So what does this achieve? Well, it sends GOP voters two important messages. First, it says that some establishment conservatives were actually willing to support one of the most reviled Democrats (Clinton)’¦a candidate the base could never support. Second, once Obama became the candidate, those same establishment conservatives decided to come back and support John McCain’¦because Barack Obama must be worse than Hillary Clinton. So what is the conclusion GOP voters will be asked to draw? If the choice in November is between John McCain and a candidate that is worse than Hillary Clinton, they have to get out and support John McCain.

By utilizing this approach, it allows people like Cunningham and Coulter to continue to rail against Obama as they supposedly support Clinton’¦all the while further defining Obama as worse than Hillary’¦doing the work for the McCain campaign while he keeps his hands clean and moves to higher ground. At the same time, the media darling McCain can stay below the radar and avoid being directly associated with the scorched earth strategy.

The bottom line is that the GOP desperately needs to define Obama’¦negatively. Having the GOP candidate do this dirty work isn’™t ideal in 2008 given that a majority of voters don’™t seem inclined to accept more of the partisanship fostered by the likes of Karl Rove. If this can be achieved by unattached surrogates who also have the ear of those Republican’™s less apt to be enthused with a McCain candidacy, all the better.

If they succeed, then the entire GOP can sit down at the table’¦together with the independent and moderate voters they must have to win in November’¦ready to indulge in the equivalent of a twice baked batch of kinder, gentler, compassionate and conservative, comfort food’¦a delectable dish of ‘œKrafty Mac & Sleeze’.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, February 28th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Is John McCain an Alien?

I’™m told he sprung from the union of a Klingon and a human, and that is the reason he’™s in favor of reforming the illegal immigration laws. Oh, this isn’™t the Democrats attacking him, but the wingers putting forth a stupid legal attack. Let them be stupid and, I hope, the Democrats will leave this ‘œissue’ alone.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

homeJust look at the way he moves his arms. He’™s hunched a bit, his suit bunches at the shoulders, and his letft arm and its movements remind you of someone who just doesn’™t move like a human. OK, I can’™t go on with this much longer. Sure, I’™m reminded of Bob Dole’™s war injury when I see John McCain on the campaign trail, but that doesn’™t mean he’™s an alien (the picture there is of McCain as a baby in his grandfather’™s arms). Indeed, I think this is a bogus issue, though it is being reported by the New York Times that John McCain has hired robust counsel to research the constitution on the notion of whether his birth in the Panama Canal Zone makes him ineligible for the Presidency. Here’™s a couple paragraphs from the New York Times:

Mr. McCain’™s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a ‘œnatural-born citizen’ can hold the nation’™s highest office.

Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states.

‘œThere are powerful arguments that Senator McCain or anyone else in this position is constitutionally qualified, but there is certainly no precedent,’ said Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. ‘œIt is not a slam-dunk situation.’

Mr. McCain was born on a military installation in the Canal Zone, where his mother and father, a Navy officer, were stationed. His campaign advisers say they are comfortable that Mr. McCain meets the requirement and note that the question was researched for his first presidential bid in 1999 and reviewed again this time around.

But given mounting interest, the campaign recently asked Theodore B. Olson, a former solicitor general now advising Mr. McCain, to prepare a detailed legal analysis. ‘œI don’™t have much doubt about it,’ said Mr. Olson, who added, though, that he still needed to finish his research.

I need to mention again that I don’™t see this as an issue, and I’™m astounded that the McCain people see it as an issue enough to hire Ted Olson. That’™s a waste of campaign dollars if you ask me, and that equals a mark against John McCain’™s management skills. Be that as it may, it is important to note that no Democrat that I can find thinks this is an issue, but the Republicans? That’™s a different matter. They’™re talking about it over on Free Republic, and the Ron Paul folks have been salivating over the issue as well. There’™s even a column about the issue at the right wing web site renewamerica.us. What a bunch of conservative infighting crap.

I say Democrats should let this issue remain with the Republicans. It is a complete nonissue, but let them whine and argue and litigate. I guarantee if this were to go so far as the Supreme Court the Supremes, strict constructionists though they be, will rule for John McCain, as they should. This is, as Barack Obama has said concerning other issues, ‘œsilly season’ stuff, and if the Republicans want to attack their own candidates bvased on stupid issues, let them go at it.

Thursday, February 28th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

The Price Of Economic Inequality?

The costs to incarcerate Americans is exploding. I suspect we’re at or nearing the point where it would have been economically preferable to have provided the education, jobs, wages, and opportunities needed to blunt the rapid expansion of crimes of poverty. Instead, our president promotes tax cuts for the wealthy and opposes universal health care.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

A report on the rising number of incarcerated Americans provides a disturbing look at the unspoken impact of economic inequality and the high cost we pay for perpetuating it. At the same time, during each election cycle, politicians from both parties accuse each other of practicing suspect fiscal discipline.

For this discussion, I want to look at the costs of incarceration in relation to providing universal health care as well as the Bush tax cuts. Time and again, the GOP points out the exorbitant costs that might be associated with providing universal health care. From what I’ve read, the plans being pushed by Senators Clinton and Obama are reported to cost 10 to 15 billion dollars annually. That’s a big expense…but before one concludes we can’t afford it, one must consider the burgeoning costs of incarceration and the distribution and impact of the Bush tax cuts.

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

NEW YORK – For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America’s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 – one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it’s more than any other nation.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

So in the course of 20 years, we have increased our annual corrections spending by a whopping $38 billion dollars. That is roughly three times the projected annual cost to provide universal health care…health care that would help elevate the very people who are disproportionately represented in the prison population. Factor in the following data on the Bush tax cuts and one will begin to see the larger picture.

From MSNBC.com:

WASHINGTON – Since 2001, President Bush’s tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign.

The conclusions are stark. The effective federal tax rate of the top 1 percent of taxpayers has fallen from 33.4 percent to 26.7 percent, a 20 percent drop. In contrast, the middle 20 percent of taxpayers – whose incomes averaged $51,500 in 2001 – saw their tax rates drop 9.3 percent. The poorest taxpayers saw their taxes fall 16 percent.

Unfortunately, these percentages are deceptive. Let’s look at a practical explanation of what these tax cuts meant to the working poor.

From BusinessWeek.com:

Imagine you are a waitress, married, with two children and a family income of $26,000 per year. Should you be enthusiastic about the tax cuts proposed by President Bush? He certainly wants you to think so. He uses an example of a family like yours to illustrate the benefits of his plan for working Americans. He boasts that struggling low-income families will enjoy the largest percentage reduction in their taxes. The income taxes paid by a family like yours will fall by 100% or more in some cases. This is true–but highly misleading.

President Bush fails to mention that your family pays only about $20 a year in income taxes, so even a 100% reduction does not amount to much. Like three-quarters of working Americans, you pay much more in payroll taxes–about $3,000 a year–than in income taxes. Yet not a penny of the $1.6 trillion package of Bush tax cuts (in reality, closer to $2 trillion over 10 years) is used to reduce payroll taxes. Moreover, should your income from waitressing fall below $26,000 as the economy slows, your family could be among the 75% of families in the lowest 20% of the income distribution that stand to get absolutely zero from the Bush plan.

The President claims that the “typical American family of four” will be able to keep $1,600 more of their money each year under his plan. Since you won’t be getting anything like that, you might be tempted to conclude that your family must be an exception. Not really. The reality is that the President’s claim is disingenuous. Eighty-nine percent of all tax filers, including 95% of those in the bottom 80% of the income distribution, will receive far less than $1,600.

In other words, when a 100% tax cut is the equivalent of $20.00, a family of four might be able to translate that twenty dollars into a meal at McDonalds…one time in 365 days. On the other hand, if one is lucky enough to be in the top one percent (those with $915,000 in pretax income…and first class health care) of earners and receive a 20% tax reduction, I suspect the savings would buy more than one fast food dinner over the course of a year. The skewed advantages…and disadvantages…suddenly become obvious.

If that isn’t bad enough, let’s return to the costs of incarceration and look at future cost projections.

From The New York Times:

By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, and will accelerate as the prison population ages.

In less than four years, we will spend another $25 billion annually (more than enough to pay for universal health care) to incarcerate more and more Americans…the bulk of which come from the economically underprivileged.

More From The New York Times:

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are.

Let me be clear…crime is wrong…and it should be punished. However, we cannot ignore the factors that facilitate crime. Failing to provide opportunities to those most lacking in resources is also wrong…and it often leads to a lack of education and therefore a susceptibility to participating in crimes that are driven by poverty.

We have likely exceeded the point at which it will cost us more to punish and incarcerate those who commit these crimes of poverty than it would have cost us to insure their education, to raise the minimum wage above the poverty level, and to grant them the dignity and peace of mind that comes with knowing one’s family members can receive health care when it is warranted; not just when it is necessary to prevent death.

Instead, under the guidance of the GOP, we have elected to ignore the fact that 47 million Americans lack health care and to focus upon further enriching the wealthiest…all the while being forced to endure asinine arguments that doing so will create jobs and thus facilitate a rising tide to float the boats of all Americans. It simply isn’t true.

At a savings of $20 a year, millions of Americans can’t even buy a seat in the boat…let alone stay afloat by treading water in the midst of the steady deluge of ever more ominous waves. If the number and availability of life preservers continues to dwindle, we are fast approaching the point at which our society will collapse under the weight of the inequity we chose to ignore.

If that happens, it will be as my grandfather argued many years ago, “They can eat you, but they can’t shit you”. The cannibalism has begun. What follows will not be pleasant.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Thursday, February 28th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

Sometimes When You Get Too Close, You Get Too Far

2008 will be a historical election…but whether it will be a transformative one remains to be seen. Transformation likely means different things to different generations. Fulfilling the hopes and dreams of some of us can be seen as a threat to the rest of us. Perhaps the lessons learned in 2008 will bring all of us closer to where we belong.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

“Sometimes when you get too close, you get too far” is one of many pearls of wisdom handed down from my Italian immigrant grandparents. They used the expression to warn their children that all relationships weren’t the same and that there are circumstances whereby getting too involved is ill advised. Fortunately, my parents passed those same words along to their children. I’ve been focused on the saying for several weeks as I’ve been seeking an understanding of my own indeterminate malaise.

Let me offer some background and then some explanation. I love politics and psychology and I often focus on their overlap when writing. I’ve done so because I’m convinced that all of our actions can be traced back to the individual’s psyche. Try as we might, I suspect we actually understand very little about the mechanics of that entity…other than the fact that it undoubtedly makes each of us uniquely flawed individuals.

If we look close enough, perhaps we can find themes or threads that connect some of us. At the same time, it seems safe to infer that the reverse is true…meaning there are also threadbare holes in this imperfect human tapestry that divide us. Politics is thus the tundra upon which these commonalities and these differences unfold.

This current election cycle is a unique moment in our American history. Never before has it been inevitable that either a woman or an African American would be the nominee of one of our political parties. Part and parcel of that eventuality is the concept of change. Confronting this change, in my estimation, involves many of the same dynamics found in my grandparent’s thoughtful insights.

There is a spoken belief that our nation long ago confronted issues of race and gender and set in motion the removal of the barriers associated with either. There is also an unspoken reality that neither has been achieved. As we approach the moment where our lip service may well be forced to acquiesce to the living of these lofty proclamations, we begin to see that the closer we get to its achievement, the further we may be from its existence.

The evidence that exists is no doubt the equivalent of a DNA match. Whether it’s a product of our capitalistic mindset that idealizes winning and posits that the opposite is losing, I don’t know for sure…but I suspect it may well be. If so, then nothing could be more divisive than to ask voters to affirm one oppressed group over another. It’s as if fate is bringing us to the precipice of progress…only to ask us to make a choice that will catapult one group to the pinnacle while seemingly pushing the other into the abyss. While this isn’t actually the choice, it may be the perception.

Worse still, those groups who lack a contestant in the competition for the quintessential prize worry that the elevation of one of their fellow second class societal equivalents may well result in the further disproportionate distribution of the spoils of success. Hence, if the perception exists that the proverbial pie isn’t large enough to nourish us all, then the thought that one’s longtime competitor (for the crumbs that fall off the table) is about to receive not only a place at the table, but a plate…and a bigger piece of the pie, is apt to create angst…and resentment. Therein lies what we must attempt to understand.

An example might be beneficial. I received a distressing call from my younger sister last week. As I picked up the phone and said hello, all I heard on the other end was my sister sobbing…telling me that she had just gotten off the phone with my mother. My heart sunk as my mind raced to guess who had died or was diagnosed with a terminal disease or fallen gravely ill. It’s amazing how many thoughts can occupy a few seconds. I immediately asked, “What’s the matter?” As I braced for the bad news, she replied, “I told mom I had caucused for Obama and she got mad and hung up on me”.

You see my mom is in her seventies…and the thought that a fellow woman would choose to support “the other candidate” (a man who happens to be black) is akin to treason. Add to that the fact that she grew up in a small Colorado community as a Catholic whose Italian immigrant parents had distinct accents and customs that were foreign to those around them and one begins to see the generational impact.

Such is the insidious nature of discrimination and prolonged periods of lost or limited opportunities. Let me be clear…my mom doesn’t have a racist bone in her body and I can’t recall a single disparaging remark about any minority (save for her angry comments at my announcement many years ago that I was gay). Nonetheless, she is a product of a society that relegated her and other women to a lesser status and in so doing served to rob her and many others of the same opportunities as their male counterparts. The fact that she saw similar limitations placed upon her foreign born parents only exacerbated her awareness of the issue.

When I subsequently spoke with my mother on the phone, the gravity of the situation was revealed when she stated, “I want to see a woman elected to the presidency before I die.” Yes, the same woman who idolized the charisma and the hope she found in JFK couldn’t envision that my sister had seen the same in Barack Obama. She could only feel her own sense of loss and sadness at the fact that time is cutting short her chances to witness the culmination of her dreams and her hopes.

2008 will be a historical election…but whether it will be a transformative one remains to be seen. Sometimes the closer we get to fulfilling the hopes and dreams of the least of us, the more difficult it can be to preserve them for the rest of us. Hence, transformation can be a double-edged sword.

My love for my mom and my sister is unlimited…and yet it can’t always bridge the gaps that come between people from disparate eras. When injustice has been administered and experienced over lengthy periods of time, it may be impossible to repair the damages or remove the regrets that accompany it.

We each see life through our own prisms. We occasionally see the same thing when looking through those prisms…yet if we see those things in our lives at differing chronological points, they will likely have different meanings. In the end, sometimes when you’ve gone too long without, you’ve gone too far within. Perhaps the lessons learned in 2008 will bring all of us closer to where we belong.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Monday, February 11th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

The Daily Show: Mittens, Marriage, & Massachusetts

Mitt Romney can reconstruct his positions at the drop of a hat. Let’s just hope that Mittens doesn’t eventually try to reconstitute himself into one of his remaining eight political identities. I’m of the opinion that it’s best to let sleeping dogs…err…Mittens…lie. He does it so well!


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

If you didn’t see Mitt Romney’s announcement that he is suspending his campaign, you missed the coup de grace of Mittens’ prolific pandering. It seems that on the heels of contributing 35 million dollars to his campaign, repositioning himself on virtually every issue, and attempting to wipe away his record as the governor of Massachusetts, Mittens chose to feed all the red meat he could muster to the rapacious CPAC crowd.

I must say that Mittens “Not-Knute-Rocked-Me” right out of my knickers when he offered his illogical linkage of all that ails America with none other than gay marriage. Not only does Mittens connect gay marriage with moral decay, he infers that it is the final piece in the long progression from a responsible citizenry to a society filled with lazy welfare gamers who do little more than watch pornography while engaging in wanton sexual escapades that bear illegitimate children…and they do all of this without ever having to pay taxes.

All he needed to complete his cockeyed soliloquy…and what has to be viewed as the epitome of a compassionate Christian clusterfuck…was to assert that same-sex marriage is also responsible for the acceleration of illegal Mexican immigration. Poor Mittens…always one conservative criteria short of a trifecta.

Here’s Mittens in his own words:

ROMNEY: In the 1960s, there were welfare programs that created a culture of poverty in our country. Now, some people think we won that battle when we reformed welfare. But the liberals haven’t given up.

At every turn, they tried to substitute government largess for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever.

Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is culture killing. It’s a drug. We’ve got to fight it like the poison it is.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography, even celebration of it, and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare, have led to today’s grim realities: 68 percent of African- American kids born out of wedlock, 45 percent of Hispanic kids, 25 percent of white kids.

How much harder it is for these kids to succeed in school and in life. A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: The development of a child is enhanced by having a mother and a father. Such a family is the ideal for the future of the child and for the strength of the nation.

I wonder how it is that unelected judges, like some in my state of Massachusetts, are so unaware of this reality, so oblivious to the millennia of recorded history.

It’s time for the people of America to fortify marriage through a constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it.

Fortunately, Jon Stewart has done a yeoman’s job in deconstructing Mittens’ moribund manifesto. Stewart focuses on Mittens assertion that he’s withdrawing from the race in order to keep America safe from the terrorist onslaught that would result from a Democratic president’s rush to admit and accept defeat. Mittens just can’t allow himself to empower and encourage the terrorists…he loves America too much…not to mention that he loves his money and hasn’t a chance in hell of winning the nomination.

In the end, I think Mittens should have run as an independent candidate…perhaps a Reconstructionist Republican? After all, who can name another politician with the ability to reconstruct his positions at the drop of a hat? Let’s just hope that Mittens doesn’t try to reconstitute himself into one of his remaining eight political identities. I’m of the opinion that it’s best to let sleeping dogs…err…Mittens…lie. He does it so well!

Jon Stewart On The Mittens Appearance At CPAC

A Daily Show Classic On The Impact Of Gay Marriage

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Friday, February 8th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |