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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Limits of Civil Speech, Part 2 of ?? -- Chefjef's In the Fight

Too much going on lately to blog--just getting back into posting. I owe several thought-through responses to comments on earlier posts. Allow me to tackle the easier one first.

Chefjef proferred an eloquent, if heated, response to this post several days ago:

What on earth are you talking about? "Not actually apologizing.. blaming her audience for interpreting her words wrongly," and " have no lives outside of their political identities (or other public poses); admitting outright they are wrong is the equivalent of a Christian being asked to publically denounce Christ" describes 70% of all politicians, Dem., Rep., Lib., Green or whatever.

It was silly of the Lt. Gov. to show up to a funeral uninvited. I find that not only offensive, but bizarre. But the rest of your mantra - please. The Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration, Sen. Sessions, Gov. Riley, Gov. Siegleman - your diatribe describes them all. Assigining such behavior to the "left" is delusional.

And what is with the presumption of "leftist." A particular Democrat is not necessarily a leftist just as a particular republican is not necessarily a right-winger. Since the Lt. Gov. of Penn. is not particularly well known, you should have included some evidence, or anecdotes - something - that indicates she is a lefty. Her war position, by itself, does not indicate this, as there are Republicans, Christians, even veterans of this war who, for various reasons, are against the war.

The only sound induction to be made - at least from what is presented in your piece - is that the Penn. Lt. Gov. is a self-serving attention whore, like many politicians (and lawyers, I might add). If you don't like lefties, just say so - you have plenty of reasons to not care for them, and in many previous pieces you have articulted myriad of those reasons quite well. But you are too smart, too erudite and have too rich a character and fortitude to take the specific behavior of a not-so-well-known politican and generalize it to an entire sub-set of political ideologues, at least in a situation where (a) you don't present any background evidence (it's not like your talking about Sen. Kennedy, where it is reasonable to presume the reader is familiar with his clear Leftist behavior) and (b) the principals behavior, in it's general since, is indicative of the majority of those who practice her vocation. You mean to tell me you can't think of any democratic or republican politicians who have done something stupid and offensive that infuriated or hurt a person or persons, for that politicians own self-centered motives? You could probably write a four-part volume.

Calling the Lt. Gov. to the carpet for her idiocy - have at it. The broad over-generalization, at least in this particular case - way over-the-top.


Okay then, I'll say it: "I don't like lefties!" But that's not the point...

Yes, there are political shills, hacks, and boorish idiots on both sides of the poltical fence (as well as in the meadow over yonder, in the treeline in the middle distance, and in the scummy pond just out of sight over the hill...) and politics often defines the lives of these people in an almost religious sense, regardless of their ideological affiliations. None are innocent, it's true. But I am here judging certain behaviors at face value. They are what is important in this case.

As one of the Air Force's "experts" on effects-based operations, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about the distinctions between physical, psychological, and behavioral effects. We take actions that have physical effects in order to cause certain psychological effects that result in certain behavioral effects. We must assume the psychological effects in most cases, however, since we have no means of directly measuring them. What we are really after, and what we can measure, are behavioral effects. If a certain type of behavior results from an action and that behavior fits patterns we have come to logically associate with broad sets or types of behavior, then cataegorizing that behavior as part of those broad sets is logical from a practical standpoint, even if we can only assume the psychological processes underlying it. This is the inevitable, pragmatic logic of warfare--the type of reasoning I must use, since, facing an enemy who is trying to kill me or bend me to his will, I won't likely have the opportunity to ponder his motivations or cross-examine him concerning them. If I lack reliable information about what motivates the adversary, the pragmatic categorization of his behavior becomes even more important--I must shoot first and ask questions later, as did young Marine accused of "murdering" a wounded insurgent in Fallujah. Failure to act will likely mean my death, the death of others around me, or failure to attain my goals.

So......where does that leave us? Only here: I haven't examined this particular 'attention whore's' background--as you rightly point out--and I certainly have no insight into her psychology, but she committed several public acts, and by the standards I explain above I must judge her by those actions. Doing so may not accord with the legal community's MO, but it is certainly not unreasonable. She was being only a boorish attention whore by showing up uninvited and handing out her cards. I can think of any number of Republicans and Democrats who would do such a thing.

She crossed a line, however, when she condemned the war to a family grieving over the loss of a warrior. This was not the act of a politician, but of an activist. Yes there are some on the right who do such things, like these folks....

.....and you would be right to assume them right-wing nut-jobs. Wing-nuttery is not the sole province of the left and I did not intend to imply that it was. But the good Lt Gov's behavior in condemning the war to that family was the act of a leftist--one whose ideology overrode whatever political common sense she had amassed in becoming Lt Gov of a populous and properous state. And (oh by the way) I suspect (even if I do not know) that the governor himself is sympathetic to her ideology, since he (a) was elected on the same ticket and (b) did not condemn the remark outright when asked about it.

If it waddles when it walks, quacks when it talks, dew runs off its feathers, and it tastes good sliced thin and served in rice pancakes with stir-fried veggies and Hoisin sauce, chances are it's a duck. I thus see no problem in calling it one.

However you slice it, it's still on the left...


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