The Case for Civility

October 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm (By Rodjean)

I am appalled by the thread entitled, “The Case for God,” I believe it is time for us to define this site. I for one, do not want to waste my time participating in ping-pong matches of insults. Free expression will choke and die without the oxygen of respect.

We do not have to agree on everything to be civil, but we have to be civil if we want to meaningfully explore our disagreements.

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Sarkozy Speaks

September 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm (By Rodjean)

From the UN remarks by the President of France:

“We say: reductions must be made. And President Obama has even said, “I dream of a world without [nuclear weapons].” Yet before our very eyes, two countries are currently doing the exact opposite. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council resolutions. Since 2005, Secretary-General, the international community has called on Iran to engage in dialogue. An offer of dialogue was made in 2005, an offer of dialogue was made in 2006, an offer of dialogue was made in 2007, an offer of dialogue was made in 2008, and another one was made in 2009. President Obama, I support the Americans’ outstretched hand. But what did the international community gain from these offers of dialogue? Nothing. More enriched uranium, more centrifuges, and on top of that, a statement by Iranian leaders proposing to wipe a UN member State off the map.”

In my opinion, wherever you are on the political spectrum, if you are serious about avoiding a nuclear exchange which destroys Israel and half the Middle East, Iran must be stopped. It is a priority higher than nation building in Iraq or Afghanistan. Any ideas?

Added:  If I’m going to suggest turning our military against another foreign power, I suppose I should at least identify myself  –  Rod

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An Invitation

September 7, 2009 at 5:30 pm (By Rodjean)

This post was prompted by a thread Amba started concerning the seasons. Several of us wrote about the climate where we live or used to live. It was a little like a Travelog of personal views. So I am asking all who wish to write about a place in which they live or have lived. Mine will be posted as a comment.

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Am I the only one . . .

August 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm (By Rodjean)

. . . who doesn’t get the level of coverage of recent celebrity deaths. From Princess Diana to Anna Nicole Smith to Michael Jackson to Teddy Kennedy, it seems the media has to focus endlessly on a the most recent celebrity to die.

I understand the focus when the President is shot, but the youngest Kennedy brother was, in the immortal words of a former Texas Senator who once ran as a Democratic candidate for Vice President, “No Jack Kennedy.”

Of the four people I mentioned above, one was a nice girl who got stuck in an unhappy royal marriage. Another was a gold digger who shocked everybody by marrying for money, then got caught in a lengthy court battle over the millions she inherited. The third was a pop icon who was so strange he became an emblem of strangeness. The fourth was a guy who got into the U.S. Senate because he was the President’s brother, weathered some scandals, aspired to a leadership post in the Senate, but was ousted as Majority Whip, ran for the Democratic nomination for President and lost, then settled into a long term career in the Senate.

These musings came to the surface as my granddaughter saw her beloved Saturday Morning Cartoons preempted for live coverage of Sen. Kennedy’s funeral. It is not that his death wasn’t noteworthy, but simply he was not a great man, and the media are pretending that he was. If his death demands a week of fawning praise, what level of of adulation should we save for people who were actually accorded the top leadership positions in their party’s delegations, like Harry Reid or Bob Dole, or were nominated for the Presidency by their party and sparked a fundamental paradigm shift, like Barry Goldwater, or were actually elected President, like Jimmy Carter or George Bush, Sr.? Compared to Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton is a giant.

Compared to Anna Nicole Smith, we’re all giants.

Michael Jackson was, in his prime, a gifted entertainer. His scandals probably made his passing more noteworthy, and the manner in which he died was certainly newsworthy. I can understand why there was a lot of coverage at first, but I don’t get why the country was plunged into weeks of rehashing everything about him.

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1491

August 26, 2009 at 1:23 am (By Rodjean)

I just read a book entitled “1941,” which was published in 2006 by a science writer named Charles Mann. The book cites a growing number of anthropologists and archeologists who believe that the New World was substantially more heavily populated before Columbus arrived, and that the die-off from European diseases to which native Americans had no defense was faster and more complete than previously believed, such that many areas were largely depopulated between the time of the first explorers and traders, and the first settlers. Included as evidence are reports of previously undiscovered cities in Mesoamerica and South America, and many citations to early explorers who reported large populations living in areas which were far less populated a few decades later.

I can’t do the book justice in a short post. Can the great herds of buffalo first seen on the plains by explorers be an aberration, caused by the disappearance of so many of their most feared predators – the Plains Indians? If so, we have to question the image of the Native Americans as having only a little impact on the environment. What we thought was a natural ecological balance and environment was just another version of an environment greatly affected by mankind.

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My Henry Lewis Gates Kind of Moment – a quarter century ago

July 26, 2009 at 1:39 pm (By Rodjean)

The latest media dust-up over the confrontation between a Cambridge cop and a professor of African-American history brought to mind a case I tried (lawyer alert) about 25 years ago. A credit card theft ring was working the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, and a circular described one of the participants as a 30 year old African American woman. An eyewitness saw a woman who fit the description in a back area of a store where only employees should be, and the alert was sounded to look for a black female, about 30 years old, wearing a red top and blue pants. As it happened, there was a 40 year old African American lady wearing a blue top with red pants shopping at Nieman Marcus. That was when things got interesting.

Mall security picked up both women and called the police. The cop arrived to find both women in a holding area in the basement of Saks Fifth Avenue. To make matters worse, the eyewitness had ended her shift and gone home. The first thing the cop did when he arrived was ask both women for ID. The younger woman (who was actually the thief) complied, and she was not arrested immediately, but told to remain in the holding area until the witness could get back to the mall. The older woman, a professor from Purdue, refused to give her ID. The cop politely explained that he was going to have to arrest her if she didn’t hand over her purse. She did not relent, calling the cop a racist and saying her husband was a lawyer (which he was) and was going to “sue” his “ass.”

Guess which woman spent the next 20 minutes handcuffed until the witness arrived?

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The current Scream

July 26, 2009 at 1:56 am (By Rodjean)

The Hypocritical Scream

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More Lame Than A Wise Latina Dodge

July 17, 2009 at 12:04 am (By Rodjean)

From what little I saw of the first three days of the Sotomayor hearings, she is something of a dud as a witness. Not much sparkle for her resume. Be that as it may, her tone deaf prevarications are not the most shameless moment for these hearings. That will be reserved for friendly questioners of the New Haven firemen. After three days of hand wringing about how “empathy” should not be a factor in selecting Supreme Court Justices, the Republicans are putting on a show of asking people how it felt to have a high test score and not get a promotion. Have they no sense of irony?

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How we will know the end of the world.

July 11, 2009 at 6:17 pm (By Rodjean)

Recent news reports have mentioned a likely North Korean spam attack disabling computers in South Korea and the U.S.  It occurs to me that many countries have cyber-warfare units designed to disable computer communications or to defend against the same, which led me to the realization that nuclear Armageddon would probably be preceded by 20 minutes of people staring at computer screens with hundreds of nonsense messages.  The world may end with a bang or a whimper, but it will probably be preceded by a lot of gibberish.

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Happy 4th!

July 4, 2009 at 2:12 pm (By Rodjean)

The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 2 and published on this day in 1776, was largely a list of grievances against the English monarchy.  When we got around to forming the current government, eleven years later, protections against those excesses  of government were, for the most part, contained in the Bill of Rights.  What we call Constitutional law is, to a large degree, Constitutional amendments law.

If there was a Constiturional Convention today, is there anyting you would want to change?  Would you drop the Second Amendment?  The Electoral College?  The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  Would you impose term limits on Congressmen or remove them for Presidents?  Would you require the President to be a natural born citizen of the United States?

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