by Daniel DiRito, Sun Oct 22, 2006 at 02:59:38 PM EDT
I've never been a gambler and I've never actually understood the mentality. Years ago, I told a friend that we live in a country driven by "chain letter economics" and I'm convinced my perception is truer today than it was at the time it first crossed my mind. The basic gist of my theory is that we Americans are always focused upon being first and winning and we often make choices consistent with that premise...which of course means we are employing the kind of thinking that underlies the premise of a chain letter...and therefore makes it a fully flawed equation.
In other words, if everyone believes they can sit atop the pyramid as the victor, who are the individuals that make up the rest of the pyramid? The bottom line is that for every winner (by that I am defining a winner in terms of a sports champion like Tiger Woods or a business success like Bill Gates or being elected president) there has to be countless losers.
The same equation applies to politics. That brings me to Karl Rove...and that has to include George Bush, if simply by association...though I'm inclined to believe that their alignment is fully deliberate and that it is predicated upon the notion that anything short of absolute victory is insufficient. A good friend of mine has an alternate description for the same mindset I've described. He called it "Bet 'em high and sleep in the streets". In the end, both theories suggest that people often take risks that have a low likelihood of succeeding or being sustained...even if one has been lucky enough to occasionally beat the odds.
Ron Brownstein has an article in the Los Angeles Times that points to the possibility that the Rove/Bush strategy for success may have some of these very same characteristics. In the build-up to this midterm election, I've written extensively about Karl Rove because I am truly fascinated by strategy...particularly when it is heavily reliant on an understanding of human psychology...something I believe Karl Rove views as a primary consideration. You can read some of my prior observations here, here, here, and here. Some excerpts from the Brownstein article follow.
by Daniel DiRito, Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:28:17 PM EDT
The concept of morality is a complex topic that elicits passion and consternation as people of differing beliefs attempt to validate their own particular versions. I've always found it a little odd that God would only provide us with Ten Commandments when it should have been obvious that we would need an abundance of guidance and far more detail if we were to ever be able to reach some mutual consensus. Perhaps that is a factor in my skepticism regarding the Bible as the actual word of God.
I've long wondered what would motivate a God to speak definitively to a select number of people at only one defined period in history...and never have returned to do it again. Further, if someone were to assert that God had spoken directly to them in this day and age, they would likely be determined mentally incompetent...yet we cling to beliefs that cannot be verified and that were reinterpreted time and again over centuries of time. Unfortunately, we cannot definitely resolve any of these conundrums so we struggle to define our morality each day through the decisions and the actions we exhibit.
When I attempt to discern morality, I usually look for consistency...an issue I've previously discussed here at Thought Theater. The premise of my argument is that the application of morality should remain consistent across all elements of an individual's life in order for it to be considered more than the rhetoric of what I might characterize as politics...the means by which we negotiate to impose the "truths" we hold upon others within society. All too often I find the morality ("truths") of many whom I encounter to be inconsistent and that leads me to doubt the sincerity of their beliefs. While none of us holds a monopoly on "truth", we can nonetheless consistently live the "truths" we embrace. Perhaps that is the best we humans can achieve?
by Daniel DiRito, Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 09:03:13 PM EDT
There is growing evidence that George Bush and his fellow neocons may soon be alone in asserting that the war in Iraq has served to make America safer from the threat of terrorism. The New York Times reports that a new assessment produced by some 16 surveillance agencies within the government suggests that the invasion of Iraq has accelerated radicalism and resentment towards the United States.
In my opinion, the Bush administration, in order to enhance their political prospects, has simply added to anti-American sentiment through the partisan rhetoric they have employed to portray the mismanaged effort as the primary front in the war on terror. By characterizing the conflict in broad ideological terms like a battle against Islamo-fascism, a clash of civilizations, and a war of good versus evil in order to enhance their political prospects, they have pushed more moderate Muslims into extremism. Frankly, it would be difficult to project any alternate potentiality.
From The New York Times:
The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
by Daniel DiRito, Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 09:25:41 AM EDT
The latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll indicates that the recent string of speeches by the President have improved both his approval ratings and the prospects of the Republican Party to hold control of the House and the Senate. The data adds substantiation to other recent polling that seems to be trending in favor of the GOP. Nonetheless, the election is still far enough away that the trending could once again shift in the midst of numerous volatile issues.
WASHINGTON -- Amid falling gas prices and a two-week drive to highlight his administration's efforts to fight terrorism, President Bush's approval rating has risen to 44% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. That's his highest rating in a year.
The poll also showed likely voters evenly divided between Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress, 48%-48%. Among registered voters, Democrats had a 51%-42% advantage.
The new findings reflect "a consistent, persistent, tenacious effort to make ... the Republican Party's ability to deal with terrorism the No. 1 issue in the campaign," said political scientist Richard Eichenberg of Tufts University, who has studied presidential job ratings during wartime. He called it "a carbon copy" of the successful 2004 playbook.
The new poll found likely voters more prone to vote for candidates who support Bush on terrorism, 45%-28%, and evenly divided on those who support and oppose Bush on Iraq. More than a quarter said Iraq is their top concern this fall. For the first time since December 2005, a majority of people did not say the war there was a mistake; the split was 49%-49%.
by Daniel DiRito, Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 12:26:49 PM EDT
We live in a world that likes to focus on flash...the best news is breaking news that portrays the latest tragedy...whether that be a plane crash, a shooting, or any of a number of calamities. At the same time, slower burning, less inflammatory catastrophes unfold at a reliably steady pace each day. The question is what makes one the focus of near obsessive attention and the other an item to be placed obscurely on the back burner?
A new article points to a classic example of this phenomenon...the expansion of humanity...around the waist. While we do see an occasional news piece on the topic, it rarely breaches the psyche to the same degree that, for example, the number of U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq has achieved. Clearly, many Americans could cite the number of troops lost but only perhaps a handful could offer the statistics on deaths attributed to obesity. The full article can be read here.
by Daniel DiRito, Tue May 23, 2006 at 05:04:13 PM EDT
We hear abundantly about the netroots and the progressive nature of the blogosphere and yet I find myself asking what denotes a progressive movement? The dictionary defines progressive as, "making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities...and...one believing in moderate political change and especially social improvement by governmental action." As I've thought about the definition, I began to wonder at which point that which is different or original about or within any progressive movement becomes or seeks to establish nothing more than convention. Further, at the point that it does become convention, does it or can it still remain progressive?
by Daniel DiRito, Mon May 01, 2006 at 10:01:43 AM EDT
I've grown increasingly convinced that the current administration has one defining problem. They know how to run a campaign; not a country. Secondly, I have my suspicions as to why. The answer may be nothing more than two words...Karl Rove.
Let me try to explain. Upon George Bush's reelection, he wasted no time acknowledging that the win was crafted by Karl Rove, "the architect". Shortly thereafter, Rove was promoted to a Policy Advisor position. I contend that the timing of the Rove ascendancy to Policy Advisor matches the beginning of numerous Bush policy miscalculations. In my hypothesis, Bush was enamored with Rove's political genius, and his influence, already significant, was expanded even further.
In order to understand the dynamics, one must understand a little of the history behind George Bush and Karl Rove. The two met when Rove was twenty-two and Bush was twenty-seven. Karl Rove has been involved in the political career of George Bush since its inception.
by Daniel DiRito, Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 08:05:22 PM EDT
`Twas the night before Fitzmas, and all through D.C.
The Senate stood empty, just waiting to see.
The Grand Jury listened to Fitz with much care,
He hoped that the votes all would be there.
Ken Mehlman and Rover all snug in their beds,
While visions of November danced in their heads,
And Dick in his bunker, as "W" did sip,
A drink from the flask he poured through his lips.
When out at the Post arose such a clatter,
They sprung from their cubes to see what was the matter.
Away to the phones they flew like a flash,
Called up their sources who asked for some cash.
by Daniel DiRito, Thu Apr 27, 2006 at 08:14:08 AM EDT
Ah, yes, when all else fails there is the "that would have been stupid defense". It appears that Karl Rove has chosen this to be a piece of his final efforts to avoid indictment. I've always found the very notion of this defense flawed. The premise of the defense is that smart people wouldn't do stupid things or make decisions that could rationally be expected to lead to negative consequences. In Rove's case, as I understand the issue, the argument is being used to explain an oversight to reveal all the details of his conversation with Matt Cooper (specifically the part about Valerie Plame)...in essence he simply forgot that portion of the conversation but to lie would have been stupid...and Rove knows people don't think he is stupid.
The unspoken assertion by those who use this defense (Tom DeLay comes to mind) is that they may use their intelligence to walk right up to the line, but they are also smart enough to never cross that line...basically they know the rules so well they can navigate them like a skilled tightrope walker. On the surface it sounds reasonable and plausible.
by Daniel DiRito, Sun Apr 23, 2006 at 10:00:00 AM EDT
Everybody's talking about immigration. The opinions are as varied as the surnames in a phonebook...surnames that represent countless former immigrant families. When discussing immigration, many draw comparisons to that portion of our history where passing the Statue of Liberty signaled the pending arrival at Ellis Island, the virtual gateway to opportunity. I contend relying on that segment of our history serves little purpose in understanding the current immigration crisis. I propose looking at a prior time in our history. That time involves the period of slavery in America. These people also arrived by boat...but only after being captured in far away countries.
By now you are likely saying to yourself, "where is he going with this?" Let me try to explain. We need to establish some basic facts before we can explore the less often discussed realities that are also at play with immigration. One, America is still viewed as a land of opportunity by many who are struggling to survive in other countries. Two, the individuals who enter America generally succeed in improving their living conditions. Three, in so doing, added pressure is placed on the lower income earning segment of Americans as they compete for fewer jobs that frequently pay less money.