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September 27, 2007

WE GOT TROUBLE, MY FRIENDS - TROUBLE RIGHT HERE…

As Published On

The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1 

The Bridge to Being Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog2

The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3
The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2005, 2006 and 2007 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

Link to the print version: http://jaygaskill.com/TROUBLEWEGOT.htm

 

WE GOT TROUBLE, MY FRIENDS - TROUBLE RIGHT HERE…


Y
ears ago, when I was still the Public Defender for Alameda County, my friend, the county Sheriff, the legendary Charlie Plummer, asked me to address his department’s graduating class.

 

Naturally, I accepted.

 

This is part of what I told the men and women who sat attentively that afternoon, poised at the threshold of a career in law enforcement.

 

[][][]

 

“I believe that we are now and have been at war ever since the first fool who claimed to be a philosopher declared that morality was just an invention. That idea has eaten its way though the social fabric with the same effect as a computer virus corrupting an irreplaceable data base.  Those who believe in and support the pillars on which law and civilization rest are surrounded by millions of gnawing rats, of misguided intellectuals, and reckless idiots who are like the drunken sailors who build a bonfire in the hold of a wooden boat. 

           

“Let me give you eight examples of how one can light a fire in the bottom of a wooden boat:

 

           Everybody does it.

 

           She had it coming.

 

           Hey, it was cool - they’ll never miss it.

 

           Nobody’s going to find out.

 

           Money can buy anything.

 

           Only an idiot would tell the truth about that.

 

           I had no choice.

 

           Right and wrong?  Get real!

 

“Obviously this is an incomplete list, but you get the idea. 

           

“What makes a gradual moral deterioration like this dangerous is when there is nothing to stop the slide.  How many of the people under 25 in high crime areas actually believe that there is an ultimate right and wrong?  How many well-off latch key kids living in the suburbs do?  Go over the list of eight excuses, imagining you are conducting a poll.  The suburbs are a war zone, too.

           

“This is not a pitched battle.  The lines are not clear.  You can’t walk two blocks in a core urban neighborhood or read two pages in a popular newspaper without encountering the enemy.  But apprehended and un-apprehended criminals themselves are just the sideshow.  Like the fever in the early stages of a septic infection, criminals are a consequence of the deeper sickness.  You take an aspirin, you fail to treat the disease, you feel better for a little while -- then you die.  Money alone, whether given directly or in the form of free services, however important, is the aspirin. 

           

“This is a battle about the drop out of an entire moral framework.  I’m not talking about moral compromise here.  That implies - even requires -  the existence of a moral framework in the first place, something to compromise from.  When I said earlier that I believe in the possibility of redemption, I was using the term very carefully.  Redemption requires recognition that you have committed a wrong.  If you lack the moral framework to recognize that you have committed a wrong, then redemption is technically impossible. 

 

“When we are talking about the complete absence of a meaningful moral framework - that is scary.

 

“When I talked about a war, I wasn’t using hyperbole for effect.  I was serious.


 

“So what can we do?  Sermonize at the prison population?  Not such a bad idea by itself, but I wish it were so easy.  You will find that in dealing with an inmate defendant population, as I have, the practical, low risk approach is to adopt a non-judgmental attitude.  It’s a little like the medical model.  The doctor doesn’t typically look at a gunshot victim and say – “You dumb asshole, what were you doing in that bank with a gun?”  And, frankly, we PD’s don’t often approach a client interview in that spirit either.

           

“You will also learn that the easy prisoners and the difficult ones do not automatically sort out along lines of the seriousness of their cases.  That nice guy killed his wife.  That asshole stole a tire from Big O.  Go figure.

 

“What can you do?   Be aware of the problem.  Know the nature of the war.  Be sure of your own ground.  If you conduct your life with integrity, if you believe in right and wrong, and in the essential value and soundness of our laws and legal institutions, if you are not ashamed or embarrassed by your beliefs, that will come through in a hundred ways you are not even conscious of.  If you accomplish nothing else but to do your job well and allow yourself to reveal that there is moral ground in your life and you are standing on it, you will advance the cause.  You can’t throw a lifeline if you are drowning yourself.   

 

We are all soldiers in this war.  And our weapons are our beliefs, our integrity, the quality of our lives, and the quality of the relationships of the people we deal with.  And with your help, the good guys will win.

 

“You have chosen an important calling at an important time in history.  Don’t let it end at the conclusion of your shift. Get involved in your community and stay in touch with the people you have sworn to serve and protect.  You owe that to your family.  You owe that to yourself.

           

“If you lacked basic respect for the law, if you didn’t care about the future, if you thought that morality is just something some old dudes made up, you wouldn’t be in this place at this time celebrating this graduation.   Looking over this group, seeing your faces, and knowing the quality and the esprit of the institution you have joined, I know you picked the right job.  And I can tell that the Sheriff and his staff have picked the right people.

           

“Sheriff, you have done very well with this graduating class indeed.  Congratulations and Godspeed. 

 

[][][]

 

Years later, this is what I would now add:

 

We desperately need an ethos that engenders fierce defense and heroic sacrifice in the cause of creative civilization against all the forces aligned against it, internally and externally. And the concomitant advancement of the integrated pluralistic institutions that will nurture, preserve and provide pan-generational support for the ethos of defense.

 

This is the tall order of the age.  And it is why I maintain that, if we didn’t have religion, we’d be forced to reinvent it. 

 

The scope of the work to be done is great.  Religion – or its replacement by another name – is the primary source of an ethos that can take its believers past the transient concerns of the current generation.

 

Here is the core question of the age:

 

“Why should I care about what happens to this world after I’m gone?” 

 

Religionists, as the current custodians of moral transcendence, can supply an answer to the core question, but the secular “futilitarians” so far cannot. With rare (and so far not-widely replicated) exceptions, it has been the world’s enduring religious institutions (with all their admitted flaws) that have managed to keep the “moral light burning” during times of irresolution and doubt about our species’ essential ethical commitments.

 

The civilization imperative requires us to hew to a pan-generational ethos.

 

This I why I believe that we need a great convergence of secular humanism, one better rooted in the great universals, and religious humanism, one better able to embrace and address the whole of the human condition and the civilization imperative. Both sides of the convergence will be informed and shaped by an emergent understanding of the critical importance of creative civilization. 

 

This is what I had the occasion recently to say (in the spirit of Professor Harold Hill) to a Berkeley church congregation:

 

[][][]

 

“We got trouble, oh we got trouble, right here in Berkeley City!  With a capital “T” That rhymes with “C” and that’s not cool,

 

“Well, either you’re closing your eyes to a situation you do now wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the indifference to religion in your city.

 

“Folks are walking round town lookin’ depressed. They got a God shaped hole in the chest.

 

“They’re lookin’ for somethin’ they just can’t find: a com-mun-ity where folks are just plain kind.

 

“Ya got trouble, my friends, right here, I say, trouble right here in Berkeley City.

 

“Why sure I’m a church player, certainly mighty proud I say.  I’m always mighty proud to say it.

 

“I consider that the hours I spent with a wine glass in my hand were golden. Helped me get thru those loooong meetings with a cool head and a keen eye.

 

“Now anybody kin stay home on the couch, playin’ video games and watchin’ Em TeeVee, or surfin’ MySpace. They call that sloth. Never mind gittin’ with books, music or a friend in need, the weeds pulled, the homework done, or just one good deed. Never mind nothin’ inspirin’ to do all week. And that’s trouble, my friends. Oh, yes we got lots and lots a’ trouble.

 

“Now, I know all you folks are the right kinda’ parents, grandparents, god parents, aunts ‘n uncles, I’m gonna’ be perfectly frank. Heed the warning before it’s too late! Watch for the tell-tale signs of Dee-spare and coooo-ruption!

 

“Does little Jimmie think he’s bettern’ his buddies ‘cause he has cool clothes?

“Does little Julie feel inferior ‘cause she has troubles nobody knows?

“I’m thinkin’ of the kids in the low hangin’ pants, talkin’ gangsta’ rap, doin’ gangsta’rants,

 

“Right here in Berkeley City.

 

“Trouble, oh we got trouble. Right here in Berkeley City!  With a capital “T” That rhymes with “C”

 

“And that’s not cool. No, that’s not cool. Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule! That remote control is a devil’s tool!”

 

[][][]

 

Meredith Wilson was on to something.

 

G-d help us, every one…

 

JBG

 

September 25, 2007

Cross Examining a Hand Puppet at Columbia

As Published On
The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1

The Bridge to Being Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog2

The Human conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3
And
The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2005, 2006 and 2007 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com
Cross Examining a Hand Puppet at Columbia

[PRINT VERSION WITH ILLUSTRATION - GO TO http://jaygaskill.com/HitlerHandPuppet.pdf ]

September 25, 2007

 

Was anyone embarrassed as I was at yesterday’s sorry attempt by Columbia U’s president, Lee Bollinger, to cross examine and berate a hand puppet?

 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “elected” Iran’s president on June 24th, 2005, 17m “votes” to 9.8m ballots cast for his opponent. Iran presents the spectacle of a faux democracy so thoroughly managed by the clique of ruling mullahs as to amount to a bad joke on Saturday Night Live.

 

Iran is as democratic as the former Kremlin. All lines of political power run to the “Supreme Guide”, the mullah of all mullahs, who is picked by “the Assembly of Experts”, who in turn control something called “Guardian Council”. The Council vets all candidates. The Supreme Guide runs Iran’s military, economic and foreign policy. 

 

And who is the Supreme Guide, you ask? The Ayatollah Khamenei who ascended to supreme power in 1989, the culmination of a series of foreign policy catastrophes that reached their apex with the 444 day occupation of the US embassy in Teheran under President Carter 1979-1981.

 

Mr. Carter has retired, but the “Supreme Guide” has not.

 

When asked by Bollinger whether the Iranian government seeks “the destruction of the state of Israel,” the hand puppet answered, “We love all people”. 

 

Manifestly, Mr. Bollinger is not a trial lawyer.  He probably couldn’t have done any better cross examining Kermit about the difficulties of being green.

 

The left needs to be embarrassed by the spectacle of a troglodyte 12 century mind, dressed up in Western garb, parroting the jargon of political correctness and multiculturalism in defense of  another Ha-Shoah.  A 21st century shoa by any other name would still be mass murder…

 

JBG

 

 
 

September 16, 2007

"Satan" Lives. Now What?

Why write about Satan in the 21st Century? Why not? Taken as a powerful allegory, the notion of a conscious, intelligent malevolent, “Satanic” influence in human affairs is far closer to the mark than, say, a therapeutic medical model for which “counseling”, “dissuasion” and “an appeal to our better nature” are the answers to all human perfidy.

 

This piece is a revision and compilation of a number of thoughts and observations that were generated by my accidental presence in and among those New Yorkers and tourists who were in Manhattan close to Ground Zero on 9-11-01.  Among the two most important insights: (a) I was in the presence of actual evil on a large enough scale to pose a threat to civilization itself (b) All of the people around me, everyone in that cranky, wonderful, vital mix of humanity that makes up New York, all of these people - religious, anti-religious, right, left, center, hip, square, sinful and virtuous - were just different versions of the good.  And the lessons about evil itself were equally valuable: (1) Evil is real. (2) It must be defined very narrowly. (3) When it reaches a certain scale, it must be taken very seriously indeed.
Does Satan Still Live Among Us?
A 21st Century Personal Perspective

By

Jay B. Gaskill

 

Link to the Full Article: http://jaygaskill.com/Satan21.htm

 

And the companion piece:

 

MALOGENS
A CASE STUDY:
Evil Influence & Evil Outcome
The Dyleski “Goth Murder” Case
By
Jay B. Gaskill

 

Link to this Companion Article: http://jaygaskill.com/Malogens.htm

 


Jay B. GaskillLink to the Full Article:

September 04, 2007

AN IRAQ PREDICTION: WE WENT BIG, WE’LL GO LONG, BUT NOT AWAY….

As Published On
The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1

The Bridge to Being Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog2

The Human conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3
And
The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2005, 2006 and 2007 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

 

 

AN IRAQ PREDICTION: WE WENT BIG, WE’LL GO LONG, BUT NOT AWAY….

 

A PREDICTION:

 

This president will squeak by the next obstacle to sustaining our pressure against the insurgency and jihadist destabilization of Iraq. When the smoke clears, the Congress will not choose – this time – to interrupt funding for the Iraq project nor will it impose binding conditions.

 

The next critical decision point will take place in March, 2008.  Not coincidently, the Iranian sponsored insurgent militia of Al Sadr, having been dramatically disrupted by General Petraeus’ forces, has “gone to ground” until then. 

 

AP Sept. 2, 2007: BAGHDAD (AP) — Muqtada al-Sadr’s surprise decision to stand down his Mahdi Army for up to six months was designed to stop a Shiite-Shiite rift from spiraling out of control and to weed out infiltrators in his militia's ranks, according to aides of the radical Shiite cleric.

 

No one wants us to take sides in an internecine sectarian struggle – indeed, the counter-insurgency doctrine forbids “taking sides”.  But the question is one of semantics.  If there is to be a stabilization of the current Iraqi government (in some acceptable form), the forces arrayed against the democratic government – whether driven by ideology or sectarian grievance or simple power lust – must necessarily be overcome.  So a degree of “taking sides” is inevitable, if we are to succeed.

 

The increase in military forces in Iraq has been coupled with a significant increase in competence, only partially offset by the retirement of allied forces (the British, having never really pacified Basra, are pulling out).

 

Wresting order and stability from a persistent insurgency is a long term project.  For some perspective, consider just two examples:  The IRA insurgency in Northern Ireland, and the radical Marxist insurgency in Malaysia. The British invested almost thirty years in the IRA project, fully succeeding only within the last four years.  In the Malaysian insurgency, communist guerrilla forces were eventually subdued with the ongoing help of about 35,000 British troops, assisted by much smaller force contingents supplied by Australia and New Zealand.  The Malay anti-insurgency project lasted from about 1948 to 1960 - twelve years. 

 

In both cases, a mix of psychological warfare, brute force and very long term stubborn commitment to the goal succeeded with a relatively smaller force than was thought necessary by some experts.

 

Remember the pre-surge debate in the Pentagon?  The choice under discussion was to “Go big” or “Go long”. 

 

NPR: November 20, 2006 · A secret study by the Pentagon allegedly presents three options for improving the situation in Iraq: ‘Go big,’ ‘go long,’ or ‘go home.’”

 

Anti-insurgency experts knew all along that, whatever the immediate benefits of a short term troop increase, there is no substitute for “going long”.

 

THE BUSH LEGACY

 

Here is the irony of the day.  The historic legacy of this Bush administration is inextricably linked to the legacy of the next. 

POTUSinCountry

None of the serious players in Washington – whatever the current rhetoric – can permit a chaotic debacle to unfold in Iraq, nor can they yet muster the political support for the substantial increase in military forces that our response to the jihad will eventually and inevitably require. 

 

The Iraq on Inauguration Day in January, 2009, will probably look a lot like the current Iraq. The elected government will still be struggling to assert full control over the country and the insurgency will be held in check only with the ongoing help of American ground forces in-country.  No doubt the numbers of American troops will be several thousand less than at present. 

 

The new president will then own the outcome.  If the lessons of the successful anti-insurgency efforts of the past are any guide, American forces will be able to succeed only by stubbornly hanging tough for the long haul. To the extent that the next president succeeds, the Bush legacy will be part of that success. To the extent that the next president fails, you can be sure that, as Mr. Truman was fond of saying, the buck stops on the current president’s desk. 

 

JBG

 

  JBG

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