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Getting Borked – The Origin of Nastiness

October 23rd, 2011 2 comments

Joe Nocera at the NYT had a great little opinion piece, and it resonated with me because I remember the nastiness to which he refers. Especially the lead up to a vote that revealed some vile human beings in our legislature. You expect some nastiness in advocacy groups, but until then, the senate actually was a “collegial round table.” But hey, it’s an anniversary, so let’s celebrate The Nastiness!

On October 23, 1987, “Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court was voted down by the Senate. All but two Democrats voted ‘nay.'” Ain’t it wonderful? 24 years ago today, intellectual midgets in our “collegial” senate torpedoed an intellectual giant. I wanted to bring up Bork for essentially the same reason Joe Nocera did: to highlight where the ugliness started. Just one good paragraph to entice you to go read Joe’s opinion piece… a quick trip that highlights why demorats have no ethical space to bitch about rethuglican obstructionism:

I’ll take it one step further. The Bork fight, in some ways, was the beginning of the end of civil discourse in politics. For years afterward, conservatives seethed at the “systematic demonization” of Bork, recalls Clint Bolick, a longtime conservative legal activist. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution coined the angry verb “to bork,” which meant to destroy a nominee by whatever means necessary. When Republicans borked the Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright less than two years later, there wasn’t a trace of remorse, not after what the Democrats had done to Bork. The anger between Democrats and Republicans, the unwillingness to work together, the profound mistrust — the line from Bork to today’s ugly politics is a straight one.

This article is an excellent counterpoint to the horseshit that shows up at “MediaMatters.” A simple reading of the Wiki article shows MediaMatters to be the liars most people believe them to be. Even with the six Republican moral cowards, Bork would have lost the confirmation.

Why bring this up? Well, one reason that sits like a burr beneath a saddle (not that I feel remotely like this blog is a saddle 😛 ), is having Commander Admin over at AmeriKAZAM call me out. Another reason is that writer over at Ameri… wait, I may have mentioned that already. Oh, and that really sharp dude over at Responsibility – Freedom Demands It, yeah him too. Of course, there is also that mouthy broad over at Mad Conservative – she just kind of compels me to jump back in and keep swinging. The clearest reason for bringing this up though, is a question. Do we continue with civil discourse when confronted with brutish uncivil behavior and speech? Or, should one give the offender the deserved poke in the nose and test the claim of pacifism? Seriously though, where do you go from here? This whole getting borked thing is a festering wound that has only escalated. AmeriKAZAM pokes it with a bundle of sticks, er, a stable of Jon Swifts, but funnier. What do we do if we want to win back our country?

One thing is for certain… it ain’t just writing in a blog. How’s that old saw go? “Ya gotta get off yer apathy and do something.” Time to do something – what’s it gonna be??

I once went to seminary and got one of the M.Div. things, and though most would consider me an apostate, I still have some favorite Bible verses… Here’s what we should do next, from Judges, chapter 15:

Samson Badass

For now, let’s just make asses of them. Let’s go with Joe’s concluding thought:

Today, of course, the court has a conservative majority, and liberal victories are, indeed, being overturned. Interestingly, Bolick says Bork’s beliefs would have made him a restraining force. Theodore Olson, who served as solicitor general under George W. Bush, also pointed out that after Bork, nominees would scarcely acknowledge that they had rich and nuanced judicial philosophies for fear of giving ammunition to the other side. Those philosophies would be unveiled only after they were on the court.

Mostly, though, the point remains this: The next time a liberal asks why Republicans are so intransigent, you might suggest that the answer lies in the mirror.

Cheers you wielders of the sharpened word,
The Skald.

Got a New Warrior Team in the Mix

October 6th, 2011 No comments

 

Scarecrow Rising

Backfire Satire. Can. You. GET IT?

AmeriKAZAM! is a new entry into both political punditry (but more in the mold of Richard Kahane’s Rules for Radical Conservatives) and Comic Book Reviews… Really, how cool is that? Combining both the comics’ graphics and some biting commentary makes for some fun and enlightening reading. Perhaps you’ll move away from being a SAP (SubParAmerican) and become a participating patriot after a few “boots-to-the-head” commentary. Check out “Making the Stupid Stupider” and spend some time browsing around the new home of Team AK. I think you’ll enjoy it immensely!

Cheers!!

“But I was born this way.”

October 1st, 2011 4 comments

 

Time to re-engage. Since I seem to like hate mail, I figured to jump in with a splash.

Recently, I was engaged in a lively argument/discussion about Rick Santorum’s little dustup at the Republican Debates. I referenced a GOProud press release (mostly ’cause I like the organization) that called Santorum out and demanded an apology. My original post (on a social networking site) read like this:

Not that he ever had my vote, but the cowardice in failing to simply answer the question up front, his entire preamble to answering the question and his failure to even thank the soldier for his service reveals the kind of bigotry that is second nature.

As for the boos that some of my liberal fellow pundits were “so terribly shocked” by, pack sand and get in the real world. You see the same kind of boos directed at people who support the defense of marriage act (or name some other contested policy) in a liberal audience. Get over the fact that people have differing opinions and keep your eye on the ball.

Santorum… Apologize.

The responses ranged from heated to well reasoned. I implied both that Santorum was a coward and a bigot. I was called out on the bigotry charge, for good reason (especially since I had just complained about living amongst a bunch of moon bats that sling the charges of racist, bigot, homophobe, etc., at the slightest criticism of their position). Kind of galling to get called out for something I find particularly egregious. So I retracted and apologized for the charge of “bigot,” but will definitely keep the charge of cowardice ~ specifically being a moral coward about answering a direct yes/no question and the horseshit equivocation in order to justify it.

I like debate. I like argument (when you understand it in its more classical definition, or even as legal sharps might define it). This lively discussion also raised an issue I discussed on my old Skalduggery site, and I decided to resurrect it since it garnered so much hate mail. So then, here’s the old post:

A few days ago I participated in a hackneyed discussion with some fellow officers at work. It centered on the nature and morality of homosexuality. Mostly, I am tired of the topic, but I also realize the “controversy” is here to stay for some time to come. The reason I mention the topic today is that the tired line of argument that was used to justify homosexual behavior is ultimately so ridiculous. So then, before you tune out, let’s make a few things clear. First, I am not going to address the morality or immorality of homosexual behavior per se. Second, I am not going to address the truth or falsity of whether there is or is not a “gay gene,” or whether homosexual behavior is biologically determined. Finally, the aim of this post is not to provide a positive or negative judgment about homosexual behavior (update: since I have several gay friends, I want to convince them to use a different argument).

Before I do get to the aim of the post, since part of the background is about the notion of being “born gay,” it seems reasonable to provide a few starting points for independent research concerning the “gay gene.” For a somewhat “moderate” view of things that contains a bit of history and looks at some of the research from an obviously postmodernist perspective try out PBS’ Is Homosexuality Inherited? by Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet. For a contrarian and less than moderate view that traces both the history and science involved try out Ryan Sorba’s The Born Gay Hoax. With these as a starting point, finding any number of social science perspectives that fit with one’s preconceived notions of homosexual behavior should be a breeze!

Now then, what is the aim of this post? Simply to make the point that claiming one was “born this way” is not a justification for any kind of behavior. The correlative to this is clearly that homosexuality primarily describes a behavior – not an identity.

During our discussion, the group I’ll call the “religious right wing-nuts,” argued belligerently that homosexual behavior was a sin, morally wrong, and should be legally sanctioned. The group I’ll call the “loony left nutroots,” argued just as belligerently that homosexuals were “born that way,” and therefore should not be punished any more than someone who is born black should be punished for an accident of birth. Mostly I was just listening, but when the “born that way” comment was made I “couldn’t help myself” and said, “That’s an incredibly poor argument for justifying homosexual behavior.” I was pretty much immediately attacked as a bigot and Nazi like the right wing-nuts were being attacked. The following paragraphs reflect what I tried to explain to both parties.

At this point, I don’t care whether homosexual behavior is right or wrong. You guys on the right are saying a specific BEHAVIOR is wrong, while you guys on the left ignore the behavior being addressed and try to equate the behavior to an identity. The point is truly simple: two guys or two girls having sex is nothing like simply being black. You guys on the loony left need a new argument! Don’t use this one, it’s useless!

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend for a moment that homosexuality is somehow like race – one is simply born that way – and that sodomy is illegal. One is not punished for being black, white, or brown; however, a black, white, or brown person will be punished for murdering his neighbor – because it is against the law. Likewise, a person would not be punished for being a homosexual; one would be punished for a behavior called sodomy.

Now then, here in today’s America, very few states punish homosexual behavior. However, to extend this line of thinking a bit further, let’s make another comparison. Again, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that there is a strong biological/genetic component to homosexuality. Let us also pretend, for the sake of argument, that there is a strong biological/genetic component to pedophilia. Since pedophiles are “born that way,” and are unlikely to change their sexual preference, should that somehow make their attendant behaviors as legal and moral as the homosexuals’ behaviors?

Do not think that this comparison is a stretch. Dr. Michael Werthheimer in A Clash of Worldviews interview, while discussing pedophilia and the fact that pederasty was normalized in ancient Greek culture made the following comments in response to the question: “[I]s ANYTHING, in your view, an objective disorder? Would you consider pedophilia normal and desirable, if a particular society says it is? Could a pedophilic relationship ever be “good”?

I’m sure that various somatogenic problems due to severe brain trauma may be close to “objective” disorders. But I know of no convincing evidence that even pedophilia is harmful to the boy. In ancient Greece, for example, a pedophilic relationship with a young boy was viewed as the ideal kind of relationship for an older man. What’s the actual evidence–not just principled moral prejudgment–that such a relationship is damaging to the boy?

That’s why I said the “born gay” notion is not the point. If people (whether gay or straight) fail to think about the premises of their arguments and the logical conclusions that can be drawn from those premises, then too soon simple identity becomes a justification for immorality and illegal behavior. So, to my conservative straight friends, listen to what is actually being said when you’re in one of these discussions 🙂  As for my friends I refer to as loony left nutroots, please find a better argument! But especially my gay friends (liberal or conservative), bail on this lame justification. Goodness, “what happens between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes,” I believe, is still a much better start!

Cheers!!

Ranting on Reading

June 9th, 2011 7 comments

This originated as a note over on Facebook, and it occurred to me that it would work as a post here, though it is a bit personal. Ignore it if it makes you uncomfortable, we often do that anyway… Here it is:

I may have made a terrible mistake in dropping out of high school. There are a few holes in my education. I noticed some of these holes, and initially, I started filling them with famous books I’d seen mentioned in the paper or news or movies… and discovered a disparity in the books’ content and the content in the media where I’d discovered the book. Reading Mamet’s new book, The Secret Knowledge,  reminded me in some ways of my own conversion.

I am not, by popular measures, a towering success. I live a pretty much average middle class life. The only worthy successes in my life are not my own. In fact, these successes are what my children have become despite my meddling and failures. This is largely due to my one towering achievement… being smart enough to recognize the valuable person that is my wife.

Still, there have been some achievements. I have filled a lot of holes in my education over the years. Having read many of the books that my children’s teachers claimed to summarize for the children’s benefit, I’ve found that the teachers are either ignorant of the content in these books (e.g., they may have uncritically accepted what some college professor fed them ~ I am being charitable) or they are just plain lying about the content. I noticed the same mischaracterizations in our media/entertainment as a young adult, and now, as a curmudgeon, it’s really starting to piss me off. What to do…?

Agitate. “Challenge the dominant paradigm.” Do what the current purveyors of our culture claimed was honorable back in the sixties and seventies ~ be active in your community. Exercise your right to assembly with like minded folks. Recognize that they are the establishment… the establishment media that is. Make the finding of truth more important than searching for it. Get involved… especially in the making of our culture by influencing our entertainment, who entertains us, what we choose to be entertained by, and of course, exercising our franchise boldly, intelligently, and thankfully. My wish, or prayer if you prefer, is that our citizens will take the time to fill in the holes of their education where they find them… more important, search out those holes.  And Read.

Cheers!

On Peaceniks and Turncoats

May 27th, 2011 No comments

I’ve a couple of truly worthwhile videos line up here, the kind that should raise an eyebrow, the blood pressure, or more. Now then, I love the arts, but my strongest passion is reserved for my country and countrymen. Moreover, I want to see other peoples enjoy what we too often take for granted, and now, even more often let be taken from us by the soft power of cultural transmogrification. This is an easy six minutes.

Having watched Hitchens and Hanson, please, take the time for Bill Whittle’s video. Follow the suggestion about visiting Amazon for Victor Davis Hanson’s nice little broadside. It’s a short yet stunning read!! Oh, and consider becoming a “Citizen Producer,” it’s worth the price of admission.
Cheers All!!

The Meme Eater: Bill Whittle

May 12th, 2011 2 comments

Tired of hearing our blue brethren whine about nuanced views of this or that, when what they usually mean is, “let’s obfuscate the issue?” Here’s Bill Whittle on a very nuanced view of several memes that have been offered as retreads lately… concerning the killing of USB ~ no, no, no, not that port in your computer. Oh, alright, Osama bin Laden. The FBI has pretty much stuck with Usama, but either way, this is another devastating little video!

Eat the Rich!!

April 19th, 2011 1 comment

As usual, Bill Whittle hits it out of the park ~ of course, he’s using Iowahawk’s material (which is worth the visit!), but doing it with video ~ it definitely puts this debt problem and how to take care of it in perspective. Here’s our new Jonathan Swift!

Cheers Everyone! 😉

Restricting Freedom of Speech

April 4th, 2011 2 comments

If you haven’t visited The Virginian, take a trip on by for this tidbit: The Virginian: U.S. flag burning: OK…Koran burning: Restricted. I’ll be attempting fuller and richer posts of my own soon, but I had to get back in the swing of this blogging business the easy way… with someone else’s work 🙂  Be seein’ ya!

Rehabilitation and Corrections…

January 15th, 2011 3 comments

Middle management sent out an email recently addressing the concept of rehabilitation with respect to Correctional Officers. One of the ideas equated Oregon’s framework of accountability (within the Oregon Accountability Model) with the concept of rehabilitation. This was in reference to an article by Chris Jones recently published at CorrectionsOne. The article’s title, An officer’s responsibility to rehabilitation, opens a can of worms with well meaning intention. While there is much I’d like to address in this article, I want to keep this post to a reasonable length, so I’ll restrict most of my comments to the first few paragraphs:

I hear this statement from fellow officers all the time: “Rehabilitation doesn’t work.” Those who say it, all of whom are intelligent corrections professionals, cite numerous reasons. Some point to the astronomical recidivism rate. Some say that offenders are wholly uninterested in change. They wonder why we should waste precious time and resources attempting to change a group of individuals who have no interest at all in changing. Who are we, many ask, to question this accepted wisdom?

We are corrections professionals with minds of our own, and the ability to see past the single-minded ideas presented by those — some even within our own ranks — who think that punishment and security are the only things with which correctional officers need to concern themselves.

I’ve also heard time and again, “I’m not a guard. I’m an officer.” I couldn’t agree with more that sentiment. We are not guards, we are correctional officers. We work in security, but we are not security officers. We are not punishment officers. We are correctional officers. Because of that, the things we do — or should be doing — every shift contribute to our departmental and institutional mission of rehabilitation. After all, what is rehabilitation other than correcting attitudes and behaviors?

Even within these first few paragraphs there is much to discuss concerning diction, or the precision with which words are chosen to convey meaning. Moreover, Jones immediately calls into question what he perceives as received wisdom, i.e., “rehabilitation doesn’t work,” and justifies challenging that “wisdom” with the idea that we are “corrections professionals with minds of our own….”

If you have the time, read the whole article, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll be focusing on the words rehabilitation, corrections, and accountability. I realize that what I’m about to say may seem obvious, but typically, when we challenge the meaning of words by challenging the way in which they are used the common defense is – “I’m not going to argue semantics with you.” Now then, I’m going to define four words.

First, semantics is the study of meaning. Saying, “I’m not going to argue semantics with you” when the challenge is about meaning is nothing more than a cowardly retreat or copout. Semantics focuses on the denotation of a word without forgetting its possible connotations. Let’s be honest, meaning is important to effective communications.

Second, rehabilitation isn’t nearly as easy to define! Unless of course, we do without the connotations and focus on denotations, then rehabilitation means the action of restoring something to a former state or capacity. When we go into rehabilitation for alcoholism, we hope to be restored to a sober state. The very word rehabilitate assumes the existence of a prior and preferred state of being. For many inmates there really isn’t a prior and preferred state of being. Still, the idea of rehabilitation carries the seeds of our modern notions of restorative justice, i.e., restoring the offender to an amicable relationship with his community.

Third, being accountable means being subject to giving an account, being answerable for, being responsible for ones actions. Think in terms of money, accounts payable. Holding a party accountable for damages should give us a good idea of what accountability means.

Finally, the word corrections is probably a word that should not have been used for a penal institution unless some very radical changes were orchestrated. Think of this in terms of correcting a math paper, and then corrections are the act of altering or adjusting the problem to some standard or required state. In terms of our penal system, according to Webster’s, it is the act of punishing or disciplining with a view to reforming or improving one’s behavior.

While the last three words are used in the corrections field (our old penal system), they are not synonymous and we do a disservice to our chosen profession when we are not clear about the terms we use to communicate to each other and the public. On Oregon’s Department of Corrections website, there is a page devoted to the mission, vision, and core values of the department – no mention of the word rehabilitate. Look up the Oregon Accountability Model (OAM); you’ll be hard pressed to find the word rehabilitate or rehabilitation. Accountability and restoring the inmate to the community (re-entry) figure large in the OAM, but not rehab. I think this is a good thing, because it isn’t just “old time guards” that doubt the claims of rehabilitation programs; the public tends to share those doubts. Accountability, restoration, and reformation are good words to use within the framework of correctional professionals.

Feel free to tear me up here – after all, I did give short shrift to Jones’ article to keep this one manageable. My primary focus was to correct the notion that you can equate the concepts of rehabilitation and accountability, and that no, rehabilitation really isn’t simply correcting attitudes and behaviors.

Cheers!

Bill Whittle: American Exceptionalism

November 26th, 2010 2 comments

If you heard the president’s notion of what American Exceptionalism is or is not, then I hope you responded with the same gut level disgust that I did. Anybody, and I mean anybody, not blinded to some basic facts knows that there has never been a country like ours. Take the time to watch Bill Whittle’s seventh installment of “Firewall” and you’ll hear an eloquent, concise, and convincing argument for why your country is EXCEPTIONAL in the grand scheme of things!

Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with thanks and gratitude for the many gifts given to all of us! Here’ s the main event:

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