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January 20, 2009

YES IT WAS A GREAT SPEECH

Welcome to the Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com    
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Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article - except for personal use - is needed. Forwarded links welcomed.
Contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

 

[][][]

 

YES IT WAS A GREAT SPEECH

 

I have dedicated my main website, THE POLICY THINK SITE, to “thoughtful conservatives and realistic liberals”.  President Obama’s Inaugural Address fits well into these categories.

 

This new president’s eloquence is such that he could read from the phone book and generate applause lines.  His biography is so compelling, especially as one who has just been sworn in as POTUS 44, that we might paraphrase Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism – the man is the message. So we all reasonably expected an extraordinary speech.

 

We were not disappointed. 

 

As my readers already know, I am someone who still hopes for a more robustly centrist Obama presidency (having entertained grave doubts in that prospect, especially in the foreign policy-national security area). In that respect, I was partly reassured by many of Mr. Obama’s announced administration choices (particularly that of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff).

 

I have been further reassured by this speech.

 

COULD RUDY HAVE GIVEN THIS SPEECH?

 

HERE’S A TEST
 

Take today’s speech as delivered, removing only the biographical clues. {It’s reproduced below in full.} 

 

Now imagine it being given by a McCain or a Giuliani or a Romney. 

 

I believe any realistic liberal or intelligent conservative could have given the substance of that speech – style, aside. And with minor stylistic changes (and allowing for their differing biographies, of course), I believe that any of the three republicans could have given it as well.

 

FOREIGN POLICY

 

Here are some of the key foreign policy elements drawn together (all verbatim quotes, with a slight reordering of the sequence):

 

“Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.  

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

“... In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey ...has not been the path for the faint-hearted...rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers... For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

“Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions....once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We'll begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard- earned peace in Afghanistan.

“We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.”

MY ABBREVIATED ANALYSIS

This speech was not given by some move-on.org, Code Pink, loony anti-war, anti military activist. It was given by a conscientious patriot, now well briefed on the nature of the threat and determined to overcome it. 

I believe that the key here is that President Obama clearly gets the message: The radical Islamist challenge (wisely described in general, but meaningful terms as that” far reaching network of violence and hatred”) transcends individual theaters of conflict like Iraq and Afghanistan. And he now clearly understands that Iraq cannot be just abandoned to the wolves.

Here is today’s takeaway quote, the “Ask not what your country can do” line for this president:

Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

This is where partisan and ideological differences should be trumped with a single, loud ‘amen.’
 

ECONOMIC POLICY


Here are some of the domestic policy elements, again verbatim but with a slight reordering of sequence:

“Our journey ...has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work -  Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

“We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed.

“The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.

“We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

‘The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

“Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

“Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.

“But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.”

MY ABBREVIATED ANALYSIS

This speech was not given by some crypto-Marxist or burned out 60’s radical, but by a pragmatic economic centrist who – while not a conservative ideologue – understands the virtues of free market capitalism and the limitations of government, in a  phrase, an economic centrist.

CONCLUSION

 

Mario Cuomo (senior) has said that political campaigns are poetry but governing is prose.  Mr. Obama’s inaugural contains both.  It is, after all, a transitional statement. 

 

Even in the next few weeks, here will be many opportunities for fractiousness and disagreements – both principled and petty.  But today, of all days, we are entitled – we who inhabit the center, right and left - to take deep satisfaction in an authentic patriotic exercise, to celebrate the poetry of a great nation turning to its founding ethos before it faces the next great challenge.

 

JBG

 

 

Full text of the Inaugural Address of Barak Obama, 44th President of the United States.

 

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation...as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.

It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.

The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality...and lower its costs.

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

And those of us who manage the public's knowledge will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.

But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy, guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We'll begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard- earned peace in Afghanistan.

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.

And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.

And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.

These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.

In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by nine campfires on the shores of an icy river.

The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

 

January 16, 2009

TAMING FERAL MALES - Part One

 See the recent Exchange at bottom.

JBG (Saturday)

 

LINK: http://jaygaskill.com/males.htm

 


Welcome to the Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com    
As Posted On
→The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1   
→The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3 
Also check out the “OutLawyerGaskill” channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/OutLawyerGaskill ...

 

All contents, unless otherwise indicated are --
Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article - except for personal use - is needed. Forwarded links welcomed.

 

Contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

 

 

TAMING FERAL MALES
&
RECOVERING THE HERO
By
Jay B. Gaskill

 

INTRODUCTION

 

This follows the article I posted on the Policy Think Site, Thugs, Saints and Old Fashioned Criminals. LINK: http://www.jaygaskill.com/ThugsSaintsOldFashionedCriminals.pdf .

 

I’ve been lamenting the deterioration of the thug subpopulation, and I have linked the whole dismal phenomenon to larger cultural trends. 

 

I am no fatalist.  The present trends can be reversed.  All of this is within our control, provided we are astute enough to recognize the nature and seriousness of problem and we are courageous and resolute enough to simply address it head on - all politically correct inhibitions, doctrinal and ideological blinkers be damned.

 

In particular, I have emphasized that even secularists need to acknowledge the ultimate utility of religion as the major bulwark against the current moral down-trend, and as our culture’s most robust source of the ethical knowledge that sustains civilization. 

 

But the cultural transmission belt that carries our species ethical knowledge from one generation to the next has broken down. And “we’ve got trouble, my friends, right here is every city”.

 

This discussion is about the primary task ahead: TAMING FERAL MALES.

 

We have allowed the otherwise laudatory feminist trend to weaken religion and the parallel quasi-religious moral institutions. When we leave males and their unique needs out of our moral instruction (especially when moral instruction itself has been weakened by a misunderstanding of cultural “diversity”)we are courting more than ordinary trouble. 

 

The social fabric that sustains civilization is like the untested character of a putative friend.  We’ve all experienced the sudden failure of fair weather friendship. Weak character can remain invisible until it reveals itself in crisis.  Any insufficiently supported civilization will behave the same way.

 

As I write this, the list of looming challenges to the civilized order we take for granted has just gotten longer. We may be living in a fair weather civilization…

 

 

A REVIEW
           
“We’ve got trouble” because the secular world (and a large part of the liberal religious culture as well) cannot seem to provide a credible answer to the core question, “Why the hell be good?”

 

I still believe that religions (all warts, excesses and flaws accounted for) are uniquely equipped to answer that question. So one would think religions in general would be a powerful bulwark against moral breakdown that is particularly evident in the high crime American urban populations.

 

Yet this bulwark does not seem to be holding. Why?

 

Almost all serious street criminals, the killers, muggers and assailants that can make life miserable for the peaceful and law abiding among us …are males. As a post-modern culture, we are doing a terrible job of civilizing males in the robust sense that is necessary if we are to save civilization from its demons – internal and external.

 

Males especially need bright line boundaries and clear, consistent consequences.  Females do as well but – truth to be told – they respond more readily than males to nurture and the appeal to one’s better angels.

 

Modern, liberal religion is talking past the men to the women.

 

The time honored “Rule-consequences” model actually works. It is as basic to the human condition as Newton’s Laws are to mechanics.  It is the very architecture of a working civilization.  The rule-consequences model is rational because people respond to incentives and disincentives.  But it works better when the rules are closely aligned with the moral law and when the moral law has independent authority.

 

Moral boundaries are weakened when we are distracted and confuse by too many petty rules. There are only a handful of absolutely essential moral boundaries. Each of these boundaries is set out in one form or another in the Decalogue, in the English Common law, and in the statutes of most nations.

 

There is one overall design: to protect human dignity.

 

 

Because my focus here was on the preservation of civilization, I temporarily omitted the set of norms, however laudable, that belong to the high virtue and purity set.  I need to return to that neglected area in a later in thisdiscussion when I talk about the critical necessity of “taming” males. Honor is the most neglected of the high virtues in the post-modern culture.  We are now paying a huge price for the neglect of male virtues in general and honor in particular.

 

 

The consequences of this neglect are visible right now in those pockets we call high crime areas. It might be better to think of them as plague pockets, because the cultural immune system is far weaker than we think…

 

FERAL MALES, NEGLECTFUL FATHERS, MILITANT FEMALES

 

Once a wise friend pointed out to me the obvious truth (i.e., obvious if you think about it, but rarely acknowledged) that religions exist in order to help women civilize the male of the species. 

 

Our prisons are full of males, and conspicuously not full of females. This is not the result of sex discrimination, but represents instead a striking behavioral differentiation.  Males are more aggressive than females and – when excluded from family and civilization (whether via neglect or the breakdown of the relevant moral codes) – they almost always tend to feral pack behavior.

 

As others have pointed out, we are suffering from a massive male dereliction of duty, the large scale abrogation of male fatherly obligation – and sadly, the situation is more acute in some minority subpopulations.

 

The inner cities of this country are plagued by the criminal depredations of feral males, men and boys without a stake in family life, without moral leadership (outside the alpha pack leader) and without any deep sense of an enduring, universal moral code.

 

And as I’ve just reiterated, Males especially need bright line boundaries and clear, consistent consequences.  Females do as well but – truth to be told – they respond more readily than males to nurture and the appeal to one’s better angels. Men need stronger angels.  In a different culture, we used to call them heroes.

 

Modern, liberal religion is talking past the men to the women. 

 

All of these circumstances are deeply related to our current difficulties.

 

ARE RELIGIONS DOING ENOUGH?

 

Here is the not-very-politically correct truth of the matter: Some religions do a much better job of calling males to their highest obligations than others. 

 

This is worth examining carefully.  To do that, we need to set aside doctrinal criticism. We learn to look at religions more functionally - as organizational innovations founded on functioning spiritual methods. In effect this enquiry into “Better working models” invites you to share the insight that religions are spiritual and social technologies.

 

There is a strong correlation between religious teachings, actively pursued, that stress and reinforce basic family obligations in a way that upholds and honors the male role in the family unit.  Honoring these obligations and the male family role do not entail some retro-version of patriarchy in which fatherly authority trumps other values.  However, the polar opposite has operated to promote a destructive male family alienation.

 

What is the polar opposite?  It is that loosely organized ideology/cultural ethos in which the confluence of female sexual liberation (as in female promiscuity without any concomitant male obligation) and an outright rebellion against patriarchy (even in its most benign forms) tends to discount, marginalize or degrade the male family role (whether as the soft sexism of reduced expectations or the degraded model of “man as sperm donor”). 

 

The effects of this trend are most acutely felt within the African American population of the inner city.  A brave truth telling African American social activist, Vernon Foster, based in Oakland, California, has already made the case more eloquently and trenchantly that I can.  In part, he wrote:

 

“Fatherlessness is the most important predictor of crime -- a greater predictor than either race or income. More than 70 percent of juveniles in long-term correctional facilities grew up without their fathers. More than 78 percent of the hardened criminals are from fatherless households. More than 70 percent of men in prison come from fatherless households.

 

"Living in a mother-only family decreases a child’s chances of completing high school by more than 40 percent for whites and 70 percent for blacks.

 

"Eighty-eight percent of women who did not graduate from high school and had a child out of wedlock live in poverty.

 

"These facts, while certainly alarming, still fail to reveal the heart of the matter. Oakland is not only losing fathers, it is also losing the idea of fatherhood.”

 

http://www.jaygaskill.com/fatherless.htm   (posted with Mr. Foster’s permission from his 2003 Oakland Tribune piece)

 

Imagine my chagrin when, time after time, the most liberal and humanitarian churches in the Bay Area ignore Father’s Day, neglect or ignore the pervasive “fatherhood” problem and – in some cases - contribute rhetoric to the extreme anti-patriarchic cultural trends. We don’t need to adopt absurd Talibanesque models to doubt whether the essential male family role can always adequately be filled by single women and irresponsible absent dads.  I personally know some gay males who are doing a better parenting job than many of the current crop of heterosexual males.  We can’t reform males without females and females can’t accomplish the task without strong male models and – in my humble opinion, because of the nature of the male mind  - without religious support in the largest sense of the term.

 

Religion must be able to inspire and motivate males to resume deep and responsible connections with the family.  Nothing less than the future of civilization hangs in the balance.

 

Can we rank the performance of major U.S. religions in the essential task of regulating male behavior?  I believe that we can and should.  Will I dare enter that thicket?

Stay tuned....

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

An Exchange:

 

From A FRIEND WHO TEACHES AT

George Mason University
Fairfax, VA

 

“Jay,

 

 

“As always, I found your latest post thoughtful and thought-provoking.  Taming violent males is indeed an important task in our cities and the breakdown of family among blacks is a serious problem.  Is the breakdown of religion among blacks also a serious problem?  My impression is that the black community is as religious, if not more so, than the white community.

 

“I do not think that a main purpose or effect of religions is taming males for the benefit of women. I would say almost the opposite--a main purpose of religion has been the subjugation of women.   The main religions of our day have historically discriminated against women.  This is especially true of the Muslim religions, but also of Christians.  Do any of our main religions have a history of promoting equality of treatment for women?  How many female catholic popes have there been?  How many women presidents of the Mormon Church?  Where is a female comparable to Moses or Abraham?

 

“I also think one of the most pressing cultural issues for the next few centuries will be establishing humane values by secular institutions.  The family will, as always, be the main secular institution influencing values, but friendships, schools, charitable organizations, novels, plays, movies, music, news outlets, and other institutions will play their parts.  Today, given the cacophony of values taught by these secular institutions, it is foolhardy to be optimistic, but I am.  History's arrow is a slow, upward arc, and I don't see the transition from religion to secularism as fundamentally changing that direction, except perhaps to improve it ever so slightly.”

 

My reply:

 

Excellent comments, as always, J... 

 

Religion or an equally effective substitute is needed, I suspect, because merely pragmatic motivations for moral behavior are inherently insufficient. Many religions have "tamed" males in the limited sense that they have created and supported a constructive family role for them, while at the same time allowing a destructive imbalance that has suppressed women. 

 

The pending question: “Which religions now 'do better' than others in this respect?” can also be addressed to the secular value systems as well.

 

More as this discussion unfolds...

 

Jay

 

 

 

JBG

 

 

January 10, 2009

Why do so many liberals waffle on Israel?

Welcome to the Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com    
As Posted On
→The Out-Lawyer’s Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1   
→The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3 
Also check out the “OutLawyerGaskill” channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/OutLawyerGaskill ...
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are --
Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. 2008 & 2009 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article - except for personal use - is needed. Forwarded links welcomed.
Contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

See footnote below

LINK to htm VERSION: http://jaygaskill.com/TheIsraelWaffle.htm

 

___

 

WHY SO MANY “LIBERALS” WAFFLE ON ISRAEL

 

IN THE NEWS TODAY:

 

“Hugely popular comedian Jon Stewart, who is Jewish - birth name, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz - was lauded by the Muslim Public Affairs Council this week for a scathing ‘Daily Show’ segment entitled, ‘Israel Invades Gaza ... Missile Tov!’

The Comedy Central host, noting that rockets lobbed from Hamas into Israel are not new, posed the question, ‘Why does Israel feel that they have to react so strongly right now?’

Answer: the Obama inauguration. ‘I get it. ... Israel gets their bombing in before the Jan. 20 “hope and change” deadline ... it's like a civilian carnage Toyota-thon!’ he said to roars of approval from his audience.”

 

LINK - San Francisco Chronicle, 1-10-09.
 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/10/MNGU156LEQ.DTL

 

 

WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?

 

A reasonable person might ask:

Why would any democratic nation state ever be asked to put up with deadly missiles launched against its territory?

 

As to the timing, a reasonable person might answer Mr. Stewart’s question:

IT’S THE RANGE, STUPID!

 

___

 

APPROVAL-BASED LIBERALISM
...NOT SUPPORTING ISRAEL WHEN IT NEEDS IT THE MOST...

 

The problem with popular support for Israel-at-war – even within the Jewish community - is the widespread infatuation with Approval-Based Liberalism. 

 

Before I explain further, I invite you to consider: What are the alternatives?  In the present situation, only two are serious players.

 

[1] National security conservatism. This is the common thread found in the democratic tradition (exemplified by Truman-JFK-Scoop Jackson) and in the republican tradition (as in Eisenhower-Reagan-McCain).

 

[2] Robust, principled liberalism. This is the intellectual tradition, now derided as neo-conservatism, an honorable and durable polity that includes Charles Krauthammer, Norman Podhoretz and Victor Davis Hanson.

 

Approval-Based Liberalism (hereafter “ABL”) is not a political philosophy at all.  It is a social stance adopted for the most part by the highly educated, well off, mostly secular upper middle class.  ABL operates as a protective shield against popular jealousy.

 

It is the camouflage of the “tall poppies”.  Let me explain:

 

I picked up the notion of tall poppies from our friends down under, the Australians. In a field of flowers, the tallest poppies are the first to be cut down.  As a social strategy, tall poppies, the people with exceptional abilities and accomplishments, are wise to avoid being conspicuous.  I’ve written about this notion elsewhere at length, but – if you are reading this piece – you are a tall poppy and intuitively and experientially know what I’m talking about.   Most organizations are full of short poppies.  Working in them – if you are “tall” – is sometimes very, very painful.  At present, teachers’ unions are organized to protect the short poppies while pretending otherwise.  I exaggerate only a little.  You get the idea.

 

Most educated people are liberals in the ordinary sense, i.e., they are decent, well meaning, and want to live in a world filled with other decent, well meaning people.  Conservatives are also liberals in this sense. 

 

But there is that ineluctable jealousy/resentment problem. Many Christians believe in the notion of original sin, while not agreeing on which sin or category was ‘original’.  I am persuaded that the core sin, if you will, of the human condition is the hidden malice directed at tall poppies. If you are checking the Decalogue, it’s part of # 10.

 

HIDING YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS

 

It is hard to hide the fact that your achievements (and – to be fair – good fortune) have placed you and your loved ones conspicuously in one or two beautiful homes, complete with expensive cars, attractive clothes, excellent food, entertainment, private schools for the little ones and high end vacations. 

 

Conspicuous ABL is your protective coloring.  [Buy a Prius and feel protected.]

 

ISRAEL IN THE DOCK

 

Israel is conspicuous on a number of levels but most painfully because of its success against the odds.  Leaving aside the hatred of its immediate neighbors, in this country  --- Israel qualifies as a cause for the Approval Based Liberal set only when it is perceived as a victim. 

 

Every time that Israel is forced to take robust, proactive steps in its own defense, ABL pressures all of its adherents to step in line, wring their hands, make wisecracks and – for an “A” grade – overtly oppose “the current Israeli government”.

 

G-d bless the tall poppies, because without them there would be no civilization worthy of the name.  And G-d bless the soldiers and officers of IDF, because without their competence and courage there would be no Israel.

Footnote - in response to an email exchange.

Civilizations are never perfect, just better than humanity's "nasty, short and brutal" barbarism models.  And civilization's armed protectors remain blunt instruments, a characteristic easily exploited by cunning enemies who are capable of purposefully embedding innocent civilians within military targets in order to produce a PR victory. 

The defense of civilization needs to be careful and prudent, but a degree of ruthlessness is unavoidable.  Suppose we had imposed the 'rules of engagement' advocated by Israel's critics on the allies in WWII: We'd all be speaking German ...and Hebrew would be absolutely verboten.

 

JBG 

January 05, 2009

Oh my God -- PANETTA?

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Oh, My God… PANETTA?

 

President elect Obama has reportedly signaled the nomination of Leon Panetta, a Clinton loyalist (he was Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff) - a lawyer-politician with absolutely no national security or intelligence credentials - to head the CIA. 

 

Mr. Panetta is, by all accounts,  conventional liberal with weak centrist leanings.

 

Leaving out his honorable, but not particularly distinguished military service, and his academic background (neither of which places his relevant national security experience significantly above that of, say, Sarah Palin – who as Alaska governor has a higher security clerarance)... you have another ordinary politician.

So….here is Mr. Panetta’s more recent resume to head the CIA, courtesy of a Wikipedia Article updated (I believe with input from the Obama team):

 

 

·         Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget
·         Chairman of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing, Consumer Relations, and Nutrition
·         Chairman of the Administration Committee's Subcommittee on Personnel and Police
·         Chairman of the Task Force on Domestic Hunger created by the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger
·         Vice Chairman of the Caucus of Vietnam-Era Veterans in Congress

·         Member of the President's Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies.

 

The phrase underwhelming comes to mind.  You can put a tuxedo on the guy and issue him a top security clearance but you still don’t get 007, let alone “M”. 

 

Simply put, this is an appalling appointment, and the single most worrisome development in the formation of the Obama governing team to date. 

 

I can only conclude that loyalty trumps all other considerations.  We are entitled to wonder – WHY?

 

JBG

 

 

 


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