News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The insanity is more catching and deadly than XDR-TB

This past Memorial Day was a brutal one, but for old soldiers in particular. We remembered and grieved over the deaths of fallen soldiers who died at the command of an incompetent commander.

While we memorialized those who gave their lives performing honest service, we are alarmed at a country that can so easily dismiss their lives with an obscene yellow decal proclaiming "Support or troops" and ceremonies in which querulous old men hold shaking rifles over graves during a tape-recorded playing of "Taps." These feckless tributes do not assuage the atrocity of the needless sacrifice of life.

The harsh fact remains: the best way to support our troops is not to kill them. Especially as sacrifices to a strain of political insanity on the part of one party and political cowardice on the part of the other. Those people who can justify the killing on the basis of a totally contrived war by an enemy of our own creation can justify the killing of us all. While two-thirds of the nation indicate they oppose this war, their opposition is feeble and tepid and without moral or intellectual substance. Big Brother Bush's propaganda machine is still effective, is still holding the citizenry in its thrall, and is spreading the killer mental virus like the XDR-TB patient spreads deadly microbes to those who breathe the same air he does.

One wonders if military law allows the court martialing of the commander-in-chief.

The big difference between the war on Iraq and the Vietnam War is probably the source of the troops. Today's military is all-volunteer. Its members have joined as a matter of choice, and they dutifully accept and obey their orders. The Vietnam War was fought largely by draftees. Draftees tend to question the intelligence and the competence of decisions regarding their lives. When orders are given, the troops obey them, but they will question their efficacy, and the command knows it will eventually be held to account for the intelligence of the orders and the planning for executing them.

In Vietnam, that questioning at times turned to open mutiny with the fragging of officers and NCOs. Those incidents are something no one, even the most avid opponents of this war, wants to talk about. A military in revolt is too frightening to contemplate. But the reasons for the military to question the integrity and competence of their commanders are mounting.

On Monday, "insurgents" shot down a helicopter in Iraq with a rocket propelled grenade. Its occupants all died. When a rapid strike team in a Bradley armoured vehicle came to intervene, it was blown up by a roadside bomb. The command called the attack a "complex" operation. Effing-A, Clyde.

On Wednesday, forces assumed to be the Taliban repeated the same operation in Afghanistan. An airstrike was called in to disperse enemy combatants who came in on the ground to mop up. Effing-A, Clyde.

The majority of deaths of our troops are attributed to roadside bombs, as if they, like anti-biotic resistant microbes, cannot be controlled or resisted and lead to inevitable death. Insanity is sometimes defined as repeating the same actions time and again with the same failing results. This is insane.

Oh, and the body count of Iraqi civilians found littering the streets for this month has surpassed 700. We're making real progress. Effing-A, Clyde.

Daily, we send patrols of our troops out and they are taken out by roadside bombs and ambushes. As of 15 hours ago, the death count for American troops in Iraq was 3,467.

When people obtain public office to exercise power over others, each death represents a demonstration of that power. One wonders how many people ingest the insanity and grovel in obeisance to that power. And one wonders if we will have to push a military into open revolt before we recognize the insanity of it all. Where is the power to lead us to a higher level of intelligence?

There are a couple of retired generals who were in command when the military operated differently. Gen. Wesley Clark, an Army general, as NATO commander led military actions in the Balkans that had quite different outcomes than what has happened in Iraq. Gen. Anthony Zinni, a Marine and former commander of Centcom, strongly opposed the war on Iraq.

It is time to honor the dead soldiers by honoring the ones still alive. That means giving them commanders who aren't obsessed with exercising their power by ordering them to their deaths in futile and wasteful battles that can't be won and have no military purpose.

It's time to listen to Generals Clark and Zinni and their kind and see if we can't find a cure for the deadly insanity that infects the current command. It's time we start asking for help from people who actually know something.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The anatomy of cowardice: no spine, no integrity

In the matter of the petty, small-minded ads run against Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, the other viking, Doug Wiken (a Norske, I presume), points out some confusion. So does PP of South Dakota War College.

The ads in question--and Holy Jesu, they are questionable--give two references for hapless listeners. One is the telephone number of Rep. Herseth Sandlin's Aberdeen office. The other is a web site. I referred to the web site by its title, not its web address. When I Googled the name, I came up with "Common Sense South Dakota," which is the web site begun by Democratic operative Steve Hildebrand at http://www.commonsensesd.org. The web site referred to in the ads is, apparently, given the same title, "Common Sense South Dakota," but its web address is http://www.commonsensesouthdakota.com.

The confusion aside, the salient point is that people who presume to offer commentary and fabrications on political matters cower behind anonymity. The blogosphere has become the province of misinformation, malice, and its attendant cowardice. There is an inane notion prevalent among the fearful and cowering that free speech is somehow connected to the rocks of anonymity under which the neo-reptilians live their desperate lives. Freedom of expression necessarily involves standing upright and accounting for one's words and oneself--which I admit is difficult in the cramped intellectual crawl space where the regressive blogosphere spins its way through the primordial muck.

When people identify themselves, you at least know who to avoid and ignore based upon their performances and habits of er, ah, mind, if I may be permitted a euphemism there. Some people are possessed of meanness, and it is prudent to know who they are.

They are churlish. And that word needs a bit of definition. It stems from the Old English ceorl which evolved into the word karl which later evolved into churl. The terms are all synonyms for peasant. Peasants often exhibited a sullen resentment and peevishness against the people in the manor houses and other peasants who seemed to fare better than others. The dissatisfaction among peasants was a major motive in the founding of America. In a letter to the sponsors of the Jamestown Company back in London, John Smith called for them to send people who could till the soil and were proficient in the basic crafts, rather than the privileged who do nothing but conspire and complain. The peasants who showed no characteristics but resentful jealousy and malevolent accusation and complaining were characterized as being churlish. John Smith, and other recorders of the immigration to America, extended the term to include anyone who lived mean and resentlful lives, particularly those who presumed that their caste exempted them from the tasks involved in survival. Their defining characteristic was to attribute all their frustrations and disappointments to others, a characteristic now labeled churlishness.

South Dakota carries on the tradition of churlishness. Just listen in on the conversation in town cafes and taverns, on the regressive blogs and on discussion board threads. There is an abundance of churlishness in our communities. It is something to be surmounted. The endemically resentful and jealous have little to cling to but the malice they feel toward other people.

The Thune campaign of 2004 exploited that reservoir of churlishness. It was recorded in campaign ads, which John Thune will have to account for as long as he is in public life. The citation of Tom Daschle's million dollar house was an overt and obvious appeal to the churlishness in South Dakota. It was an appeal to those who live in malicious resentment of anyone who succeeds and finds acceptance outside the provincial mental boundaries of South Dakota.

It is an attitude that many students wrote about in freshman composition courses. In assignments in which they were required to characterize their home town and high school experiences, many students found that when they returned home after spending some months at college, their former high school classmates treated them with a churlishness because they left town and ventured into higher education. This is the basis for the success of the citation of Tom Daschle's D.C. residence.

The fact is that there are many houses in Aberdeen that are more elaborate and lavish than the Daschle home in D.C. However, such homes are priced in the millions in the D.C. area while they are priced in the hundreds of thousands in South Dakota. But the suggestion that Tom Daschle is living a lavish life with the presumption that he is rejecting the values and people of South Dakota appeals greatly to those of the churlish mindset. It is not an honest or intelligent appeal, but it strikes a chord among the small-minded and resentful and it apparently gives them a sense of satisfaction when they can lash out against those who have managed to surmount the churlish values of life.

It was a successful ploy in the Thune-Daschle campaign. The question is whether one wants to live in a place where churlishness can dominate and govern. So many of those young people who returned home to confront churlishness gave up on their home state and found more satisfactory lives in other places. The absence of jobs and good salarie are by no means the only reason people leave South Dakota.

My oldest child left the state after two years of college here and found that life can be totally different elsewhere. South Dakota has the right to assert its values and be what it wants to be. But people also have the right to criticize those values and decide whether they want to live under them.

This weekend, I will be helping another child move out of state. Sullen resentment and peevishness are unhealthy for young people. He is going to a state where it certainly exists, but it does not rule. He has my support and my hopes for a better future. It is with those hopes that my Swedish peasant ancestors left their fatherland and found new lives in America. When we children questioned my grandmother about life in Sweden, she eventually grew exasperated and said that life was what she wanted to move away from. My children are continuing the quest.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fat, unseemly men playing gynecologist, former candidates plagiarizing, and now the anti-Sandlin ads

South Dakota War College, in its unfaltering efforts to make churlishness the state characteristic, promoted an anti-Herseth Sandlin ad whining over the fact that Ms. Herseth Sandlin made a stop in Aberdeen to see what she could do about the flooding of the James River Valley and shortly after went to Greenland to investigate global warming and the use of geo-thermal energy.

South Dakota War College, whose commenters are a study in dementia, says the ad is playing in South Dakota markets. The problem is that the ad does not identify its sponsors. It gives a phone number which happens to be Herseth Sandlin's Aberdeen field office number. And it says go to www.CommonSenseSouthDakota, which happens to be the web page started by Steve Hildebrand, Sen. Daschle's former campaign manager. The web page has no mention of Rep. Herseth Sandlin.

We strongly suspect this is the work of the Thune camp. It sounds like the dishonest, peevish malevolence that is the established character of that man and his minions. After all, the stuff about Tom Daschle's "palatial" residence in South Dakota got the churls stirred up, so why shouldn't this kind of petty dishonesty work on Stephanie?

The cowardice of the presentation is what really stands out. We wonder if there are any laws whereby South Dakota can be declared a moral disaster area. Oh well, even if there are, what can be done about people bereft of the basic decencies? So, the blogosphere joins the phony gynecologists and the plagiarists and brings South Dakota politics a few notches lower.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Plagiarism and the massive failure of education

The Argus Leader carries a story today about how Dennis Wiese, former president of the Farmers Union and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, submitted a letter for publication that was not his own work. He claimed that he had obtained permission to use the article from its authors and, therefore, sending it to the Argus Leader under his name was not "illegal."

Dayamn. There are no laws against plagiarism except the laws of honesty. Copyright laws may apply, however. Plagiarism is not a complex and subtle matter to understand. It is simply the passing off of someone else's work as your own. And in colleges and universities the law is observed. If a student plagiarizes, he/she can be failed and even expelled. If a professor plagiarizes, he/she will be fired immediately, and most likely will never obtain another academic job.

When the question of plagiarism gets sticky is in cases where a paraphrase is not clearly attributed to its author, where ideas are similar with some differences that cloud the issue of what is borrowed and what is original, and when a matter of common knowledge needs to be given attribution. These matters might take some thought and effort to clarify, but honest and clear attribution eliminates any question of plagiarism.

Students sometimes plagiarize unintentionally or out of confusion, but over the years, and with the aid of computers, professors have found ways to catch these problems and give the students clarifying instruction when their papers are in the drafting stage. Nevertheless, there are students who are sure that their professors will not recognize an example of plagiarism and will submit a paper or a passage that is not theirs under their names and end up being former students.

My own collection of horror stories deals not with students but with professors. Once after I sat on a promotion and tenure committee and recommended a man to full professorship, which he was awarded, a student and another professor came to me a year later and showed me some materials the professor had printed for use in his class. They demonstrated that the professor had gathered materials together from other textbooks and passed them off under his own name with some vague and confusing acknowledgments in an afterword. The college administration said he could have been clearer but he made some effort at attribution. The textbook companies from which he had borrowed the material, however, said it was out-and-out plagiarism and asked for attribution and compensation. However, the professor quit his teaching job and went off to law school.

In another case for which I had some official duties, a young professor volunteered to help set up a study on grading practices and how they contribute to the success and failure of students. As the school year drew to its end and our committee had not received a report, we inquired if we were to get one. The young professor came in with one at the last minute.

The committee convened to review it. As we sat reading the report, one professor blurted, "Jesus Christ, I've read all this stuff in the academic journals, and this guy is passing this off as his own work." Needless to say, the young professor's contract for the next year was canceled.

As in the first case I cited, colleges and universities often cover up cheating in order to protect their reputations. And therein is a huge failure in the education system.

But plagiarism is not the only intellectual crime committed in our universities. More prevalent but less talked-about ones are the fabrication of data and the misrepresentation of other people's materials. The most famous, recent case involving this resulted in the firing of Professor Ward Churchill from the University of Colorado. Fabrication and misrepresentation are every bit as serious a violation of honesty as plagiarism. But in some quarters it is the standard operating procedure. You can find it occuring daily on blogs and other forms of the new media where it is regarded as cleverness.

The fact that Dennis Wiese would suggest it is okay to pass off someone else's material under his own name because he had obtained permission to use it may speak more cogently to a matter of character, but it may also reflect the serious failures that beset our education system. The sad fact is that Dennis Wiese has a horde of company out there who write with no integrity whatever about what other people have said and written.

The absence of any standards of integrity and probity are what makes the new media so popular. Writers of talent and integrity tend to avoid the new media, not out of elitism but out of the fear of being identified with the dishonest and the scurrilous. Gresham's Law applies to currency: the bad drives out the good. It also applies to writing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to write a blog

Which is not the same as writing some form of intelligible communication.

The eminent pyschologist Karl Rogers was troubled by how miscommunication was a factor in most human conflicts. He developed a theory and procedure for rhetoric designed to eliminate much of the conflict. In essence, his procedure was for people involved in a discussion or debate to be sure they had an accurate understanding of what other participants and opponents actually said. This involved a process through which a person would paraphrase another person's statements and ideas, and then that person would, in turn, indicate whether the paraphrase was accurate. Not until each participant felt that their position on a subject was thoroughly and accurately understood by others would the actual debate and discussion of points proceed.

A student, wh0 also was coaching a high school debate team, thought that Rogerian rhetoric offered a solution for what he saw as the basic problem in argumentation and debate, so as a culminating project for the semester he implemented Roger's procedure in his work as a debate coach. His final paper was a detailed account of how his students found the procedures too cumbersome to be of use. They were often so mired down in semantic definitions that they lost sight of the main point of the debates. But the students were also greatly affected by realizing how often people use the "straw man" tactic to make their own points.

The "straw man" tactic involves making representations about what other people believe or profess and then tearing their beliefs and statements to shreds, even though what they are attacking is not an accurate representation of the other people's positions or statments. To fit in the South Dakota Blogosphere, as members of that fraternity like to refer to it, you have to be very adept at using the "straw man" tactic or you won't be able write a blog. A cardinal rule among South Dakota political blogs, especially among the regressives, is to never accurately portray what a person of a differing viewpoint says.

If you are remarkably stupid, the use of this tactic might come naturally. If you have a brain cell or two sparking away in the cranial cavity, you might have to learn the techniques of dishonesty. But a rule of thumb if you want to be a South Dakota political blogger is that intelligence, education, and integrity are obstacles to overcome. There are a few bloggers out there who cherish those attributes and are guided by them, but they are irrelevant to the blogosphere.

Here are some basic rules of the blogosphere:

  • Call your opponents idiots every chance you get.
  • If you think "idiot" is getting overworked, tell them to see a psychiatrist.
  • If you want to be really witty, say they should get back on their medications--in some quarters that line keeps 'em LOL.
  • Use the phrase "we hardly knew ye" as often as possible. For some reason this is regarded as really neat stuff in the blogosphere.
  • Get petulant and whine about how the critics you especially hate are not as nice and upstanding as other critics.
  • Argue about whether the world is 6,000 or 6 billion-billion years old, as if no one actually knows.
  • Attribute AIDS, herpes, genital warts, bad gas, illegal aliens, dead soldiers, and acne to liberalism.
  • Resurrect Rachel Carson so you can tell her what an idiot and stupid bitch she was.
  • Never miss an opportunity to cast a stereotype based on race, gender, or age.
  • Your ego is an erectile organ, so give it all the frictive exercise you can.

And never read Shakespeare or make any attempt to understand what the hell he, or anbody else, is talking about, if you do. Like this line said by Macbeth:

it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stupidity 'R Us

When the Klaudt charges were revealed I was still reeling from the Virginia Tech massacre and the stoning of the 17-year-old Kurdish girl in Iraq. There are troubled people in our midst, and little brain power has been expended on recognizing and providing help of some kind to the very troubled. Over the years I taught writing, I came across numerous students whose papers reflected serious and threatening problems. I was teaching during the worst hours of Viet Nam and many danger signals came flaming out of student papers at the time. I had a number of soldiers on leave and veterans who reflected problems, and this was before we recognized Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a serious affliction. At the time, I taught at a denominational college. The pyschology department was little help. All they could do was disparage and dismiss any English professors who were alarmed at apparent psychological problems. But we had a college chaplain and a faculty in the religion department, as well as pastors who worked on campus, who took troubled people under their wings and helped them find solutions to their problems. Another department that was unusually helpful was the speech therapy department, whose members were accustomed to dealing with symptoms of problems that took verbal form. Faculty in other departments also contributed support and effort.


Many of the syndromes that were haughtily dismissed by members of our psychology department are now recognized as psychopathologies, and treatments have been developed for them.
In today's social climate, however, I see us losing ground. The number of kids dropping out of high school, particularly since the implementation of No Child Left Behind, is alarming. Many kids are not being left behind; they are simply being discarded. And even progressives who claim great sensitivity and sympathy are so caught up in the webs of their own egos that they dismiss the plight of kids and the social factors that create that plight.

As someone who has taught, including as a soldier, I know that problems can be recognized and dealt with in young people if their instructors have the time and support to work with them. That does not mean acting as a therapist. It means getting them to the right kind of help.

And then comes a case like that of the 17-year-old Kurdish girl in Iraq, above, Du'a Khalil Aswad. She was dragged out of her house by her own relatives and stoned to death while security forces stood by and watched, some of them recording her death on their cell phone cameras. A member of the Yazidi sect, she was killed by her own kin in an "honor killing" because she fell in love with a Sunni Muslim boy.

The Kurds are considered our major allies and supporters in Iraq.

In a late development, the Iraqi government has announced the arrest of t some of the perpetrators of this stoning, but the whole affair leaves
America's foreign policy appearing like the shambles it is.

We talk about moral authority. We don't talk to opponents and freeze them out of negoation. But we cozy up to religious sects that stone their own children.

Our country has brain power that knows other cultures and other countries and could help build a dialogue that establishes America's eminence in social justice and freedom for all.

But someone will have to discover America again.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The triumph of malice

The phone rang early this morning. I am not a phone person. The only reason I carry a cell phone is because my spouse, who is currently hospitalized, says it is a convenient way to track my movements, so that people know where I am and what schemes I am pursuing throughout the day. But that is a concession on my part. And, of course, the cell phone is the fastest way to summon help. That is, in itself, a dubious premise, because my need for help is based upon my history of falling into the river when I am putting the dock in at Tacoma Park and my affinity for canoeing. First, I have never, ever capsized a canoe accidentally. The instability of the dock floats is another matter, but the fact is that a cell phone would be rendered useless by a dunking in the fetid James River, so I don't know if it is really a safety device. I suppose the assumption is that I would have enough fingers left to punch the buttons if I had an adverse encounter with the chain saw, the table saw, the weed-whacker, or the garden tractor. The point is that I do not like telephones and I resent when they intrude upleasantness into days I plan to spend on uplifting matters.


So, I answered the phone this morning because it might have been a call from the hospital, but it turned out to be a friend wanting to know if I was going to answer a challenge from a blog regarding the case of a former state legislature being arrested for , and apparently admitting to, sexual encounters with young women who include a step-daughter and a legislative page. The phone call pissed me off. I was being asked to turn my attention from pressing matters, such as will Street Sense be able to repeat his Kentucky Derby performance, and find out just what my agitated friend was talking about. So, I reviewed the stuff on the arrest of Mr. Ted Klaudt, and decided I much preferred contemplating the future of Street Sense who is beautiful and is truly nice people. Animals are often better people than people are. And they seldom play gynecologist.
Well, as the day turned out Street Sense, pictured above winning the Derby, came from behind again and led the race for a time until being nosed out by Curlin in the finish pictured below, Curlin on the left and Street Sense on the right.

It was a beautiful race befitting the nobility of race horses, and I don't think I am being too much of an aesthetic bigot by saying they are much more pleasant to puruse than is former Rep. Ted Klaudt.

Last night I awoke to what I thought was the thunder booms and rushing winds of a lightening storm. It turns out that it was the thunderous tongue-clucking and breathe-sucking over the Klaudt affair.

The telephone call that intruded upon a day that I intended to devote to more uplifting pursuits called attention to the fact that one of the regressive blogs launched an assault on a blog post at Clean Cut Kid and concluded with this challenge:

The Northern Valley Beacon has come down hard on bloggers who reasoned this way. Let us see if he does so now.
That meant I had to go see what atrocity of reasoning Clean Cut Kid committed. Chad's post bears the headline "Family Values." Then Chad comments: "I see they arrested former Republican legislator Ted Klaudt this morning." Chad reprints the lead to the arrest story.

When I first looked at Chad's post and when I looked again, I saw that it was an exercise in irony. As this story broke, many alert people were struck by the irony that a legislator who worked hard to push the the abortion ban through the legislature under the banner of family values was arrested for acts contrary to those values. The irony is obvious.

But the blog that excoriates Chad attaches all its indignation and derogations to the fact that Chad identified the legislator as a Republican.

If you want to see the low, mean, road, check out Clean Cut Kid. Chad announces the story under the heading: "Family Values." So apparently all those who disagree with Chad on social issues are discredited by one act of criminality. I suppose by that same logic if one homosexual is a child molester, all homosexuals are child molesters. The comments on Chad's post suggest that the only important thing is that the word "Republican" be firmly attached to this story. For the Clean Cut Klan, this story is just one more weapon to use against their enemies.

What this blog post charges Chad with is commiting the fallacy--sometimes a deliberate propagandic ploy--of hasty generalization, or an inductive leap. The blog contends that Chad asserts that one Republican law maker who stood under the banner of family values got arrested for a criminal act in violation of those values, therefore all Republican legislators are criminals.

But Chad does not say that. He points out the irony in the alleged acts of this man and the family values he purported to stand for, and Chad points out that he was a Republican legislator, who repeated the party line about family values. Nowhere does Chad suggest in his post that the irony applies to anyone but Ted Klaudt.

The issue here is what we semanticists distinguish as the language of reports and the language of judgments. A report on what Chad said would outline accurately and clearly the words and the context. That would provide us with the facts about what Chad posted. However, we get the language of judgment, which gives us a map of the mind of the offended blogger, not a clear and accurate portrayal of what Chad actually posted.

The offended reader supplied the inductive leap of suggesting that one Republican committed criminal offenses, therefore all Republicans commit them. By imposing this conclusion and attributing it to Chad, the blogger has set up the conditions by which Chad can be charged with a lowness and meanness.

Clean Cut Kid neither stated or implied the generalization with which he is charged.

And so, Clean Cut Kid is not the blog we come down on for faulty reasoning.

We often comment about the malevolence that throbs through many blogs. We are often charged with regarding any viewpoint that does not agree with ours as malevolent. Actually, we make our charge of malevolence from a long and clearly established principal about things uttered with malicious intent. Negative statements about people that are factually accurate and uttered as fact, not judgment or opinion, are said to be uttered with an absence of malice. However, when ad hominem attacks against individuals are done with the purpose of discrediting the person and derogating their reputations in the eyes of others, they are uttered with the presence of malice. And, therefore, they are malevolent.

It is not a matter of differing opinions. It is a matter of whether we are receiving a factual report or receiving a judgment with the purpose of damaging a person.

Chad's post contained nothing but the ironic heading of "family values" with factual information following.

The most cogent comments on the blog scene about this matter come from Bernie Hunhoff at South Dakota Magazine who notes the betrayal of trust committed against the people of South Dakota and against the adolescent children who were entrusted to the Kaudt family for care. If we are to come down hard on someone, it is that the betrayal of word committed by Ted Klaudt is compounded by deceiving and betraying words generated on the Internet forums. Like supermarket tabloids, many blogs thrive on what one observer of the Klaudt business has called "tavern talk." It is a matter of malevolence looking for some pretext to unleash itself.

I am so wearied of the human degradations purveyed on the blogs, that I, frankly, glossed over the news of the Klaudt affair. I feared I would learn of someone who had young women shackled as sex slaves in a dungeon. What I learned was no less astounding, but incomprehensibly wierd. According to the statements in the arrest indictment and in the news, Klaudt used deception and fraud to get young women to submit to would-be gynecological examinations.

I don't know if reparative justice will be served for those young women, but I can hear the Saturday night tongue-clucking from the town cafes and taverns resounding throughout the land. Especially on the blogs.

The day was not totally wasted. I wonder if there is any way to nominate Street Sense and Curlin for sainthood.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spring bumper sticker fashion show

Here is a preview of the bumper stickers for the 2008 political and fashion season:

Bush Bumper Stickers (Emphasis ours, to designate those that contain a strong element of wit.)
1. 1/20/09: End of an error.
2. That's ok, I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway.
3. Let's fix democracy in this country first.
4. If you want a nation ruled by religion, move to Iran.
5. Bush. Like a rock. Only dumber.
6. 2004: Embarrassed - 2005: Horrified - 2006: Terrified.
7. If you can read this, you're not our president.
8. Of course it hurts: you're getting screwed by an elephant.
9. Hey, Bush supporters: Embarrassed yet?
10. George Bush: Creating the terrorists our kids will have to fight.
11. Impeachment.
12. America: One nation, under surveillance.
13. They call him "W" so he can spell it.
14. Whose God do you kill for?
15. Cheney/Satan '08.
16. Hail to the chief.
17. No, seriously, why did we invade Iraq?
18. Bush: God's way of proving intelligent design is full of crap.
19. Bad president! No banana!
20. We need a president who's fluent in at least one language.
21. We're making enemies faster than we can kill them.
22. Is it Vietnam yet?
23. Bush doesn't care about white people, either.
24. Where are we going? And why are we in this hand basket?
25. You elected him. You deserve him.
26. Impeach Cheney first.
27. Dubya, your dad shoulda pulled out, too.
28. When Bush took office, gas was $1.46!
29. Pray for impeachment.
30. The Republican party: Our bridge to the 11th century.
31. What part of "Bush lied" don't you understand?
32. One nation under clod.
33. Bush never exhaled.
34. At least Nixon resigned.
35. Are we kinder and gentler yet?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Niggerfying Obama

The regressives have kissed their KKK crosses and started their campaign of denigrating Barack Obama. To understand fully the racist implications, one needs to recall that the term "denigrate" means to attack the reputation of someone by attributing blackness to them. "Denigrate" means to color as black.

The tack being taken is to resonate the old cliches of niggerhood being a condition of lying, cheating, stealing, and stinking. While even the most craven regressive in our day hesitates to simply apply the appellation "nigger," the racist implication is conveyed through attributing one of those defects of character. The current defect being circulated by the regressives against Obama is lying.

We received an e-mail from a regressive, who likes to challenge progressives, which forwarded an essay on an Obama speech with the note:

"This is a super essay. It is about time someone revealed the bull-crap of this closet Moslem. "

The essay contends that when Obama gave his speech to a congregation in Selma on the anniversary of the Selma march, he lies about the effect that march had on his family. Obama says that the actions of people in Selma encouraged his African father and caucasian mother to go foward with their relationship which resulted in the birth of Barack Obama, Jr. The writer, one Paul R. Hollrah, tries to make the case that Barack was born on August 4, 1961, and the first march in Selma occured on March 7, 1965, so that march could not have influenced the Obama family decisions.

Of course, in his speech Barack Obama was not making a cause-effect case about how the march and his parents's decisions. He was making a case for how the march gave courage and substantial action to the civil rights changes of the time and was expressive of the aspirations of blacks in America and throughout the world.

Hollrah's essay is a bald attempt to denigrate by distorting the words of Obama and appealing to old, racist stereotypes so cherised by the regressives.

Then blogger Melanie Morgan on WorldNet Daily takes up the lying tack:

Sorry, but Barack Obama is a bald-faced liar.

You see, Obama is a rabid gun-grabber who wouldn't even have been allowed to carry a weapon to fire at the 9-11 terrorists if he had his way. He received an "F" rating from the National
Rifle Association, and it's not hard to understand why.


She contends that because of Obama's low rating among the NRA mob, his claims to Charlie Rose that he would have taken up arms against the 9-11 terrorists are lies.

Great reasoning, Melanie.

This is how niggerfication works in the 21st century. It does not come right out with the N-word, but it uses the old stereotypes with the same old racist objectives. The regressives will try their damnedest to recapture the racism and discrimination of old that comprises their social vision.

The price of defamation

Mt. Blogmore has recently announced a decision to edit comments by Sibson. For a time South Dakota War College shut off the anonymous comments feature because PP said he got tired of editing out offensive stuff. Of course, all the ignorant yoyos start screaming censorship. They don't understand that the First Amendment applies to the government, not to private entities that can edit what they publish at their whim.

And the yoyos make all manner of insistences for protecting anonymity. They cannot comprehend that the First Amendment does not license their personal cowardice.

However, what puzzles us is the matter of defamation. In a comment on Mt. Blogmore I noted that part of my duties as an editor for a newspaper was to fact check and edit letters-to-the-editor. There was no question about why we did this. If a statement was made in a letter-to-the-editor that was false and defamatory, the newspaper could be sued. And most state libel laws emphasize the aspect of defamation which hurts people in their business or profession.

As the business editor for a newspaper, I was often called into conferences
with our counsel and business people who claimed that something published in the paper was harmful to their business or profession. In the huge majority of cases, what they complained about was information we had an obligation to publish. It dealt with company financial statements, citations from regulatory agencies, and law suits. A physician, for example, was being sued by a patient for incompetence and he complained that notice of the law suit was defamatory and injurious to his practice.

A few cases were judgment calls. And when the newspaper thought the complainant had a case, we were quick to try for a resolution that did not take us into court. In one such case, a reporter quoted a person in a story who said a local certified public accountant took money to give a government agency a pass on an audit. The newspaper paid and issued a retracting statement. It recognized that the reporter and editors should have investigated the charge for any credibility before putting the quotation in the paper. The fact that the charge was made in a quotation of an individual did not relieve the newspaper of responsibility for publishing.

At that time, the courts were rough on news media that published defamatory information. The last case of prominence we remember that found in favor of a plaintiff against a newspaper was when a supermarket tabloid claimed Carol Burnett was an alcoholic. She sued and won.

That leads to the question of blogs and discussion boards. A professor colleague of ours in an eastern university system decided to research who has responsibility for comments put on internet forums. The responsibility of the publishing agent has not changed. If a blog or a newspaper discussion board permits a defamatory comment, it can be sued.

What has changed is the money. Most people who are defamed find that prosecuting a defamation case will cost them more money than they could hope to obtain from a court case. Legal action is not taken simply because of the cost involved. And many blogs or bloggers would not have the resources to pay a penalty anyway. So, the one restraint on defamatory speech is rendered largely ineffective. Now we are not talking about negative comments that are covered by the fair comment and criticism rule. We are talking about factual assertions that are damaging and untrue.

There used to be a remedy for defamation that resulted in punishment of the defamer called criminal libel. In essence, the idea was that wrongfully tarnishing a person's reputation was in the same category as stealing from them. So, libel could be prosecuted under criminal law. Most states have long repealed criminal libel from their statutes. In the few states that retain them, they are not used. The nuisance factor from people involved in petty squabbles was the issue.

The study on defamatory statements made on internet forums did find some serious cases of libel not covered by any form of privilege.

The study suggests that the only way to deal with such cases is to refine and reinstitute laws on criminal libel. Or to remove the prohibitions against dueling. People who think they have been wrongfully tarnished can call out those who offend them and have at with weapons of their choice. But, of course, the offenders would have to be identified, and that means anyone posting on an internet forum would have to provide their names.

The study points out that the concept of free speech does not cover anonymity and the cowardice behind it. That is not to say that sometimes people, for reasons of personal safety, use anonymity to get out important information, but in the vast majority of cases anonymity is merely the ploy of cowards and reputational sneak-thieves.

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