Exploding American mythology

From Drudge:

Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer got busy plotting away on the cellphone aboard a Washington, DC-New York Amtrak — plotting Democrat strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court battle. Schumer promised a fight over whoever the President’s nominee was: “It’s not about an individual judge… It’s about how it affects the overall makeup of the court.”

The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was overheard on a long cellphone conversation with an unknown political ally, and the DRUDGE REPORT was there!

Schumer proudly declared: “We are contemplating how we are going to go to war over this.”

Schumer went on to say how hard it was to predict how a Supreme Court justice would turn out: “Even William Rehnquist is more moderate than they expected. The only ones that resulted how they predicted were [Antonin] Scalia and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. So most of the time they’ve gotten their picks wrong, and that’s what we want to do to them again.”

This unintended confession should suffice to explode two myths of American politics. One, that Democratic opposition to particular judges is based on principle. Two, that electing Republicans in order to appoint judges is an effective strategy for rescuing the nation.

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Mailvox: inferring rudeness

Morgan, as usual, sees it differently:

I think in your case, I’d insist the kids refer to you as Mr. Ogre since it’s important to you. But as Scintan pointed out, many people today don’t *like* to be referred to by Mr. or Mrs. To me, to have a child who insists on doing that against an adult’s wishes would be rude….

Sometimes I think parents force kids to do things not because they really are so concerned with manners, but so it will make them look good as parents.

I think you would be incorrect to infer rudeness in that situation. Being polite is not synonymous with behaving according to the whims of others. Showing consideration should not be confused with automatic adherence. If Samuel L. Jackson likes to be called Bad [individual with severe Oedipal complex], is a child being polite by addressing him that way instead of Mr. Jackson? I don’t believe so.

1. “Marked by or showing consideration for others, tact, and observance of accepted social usage.”

Regardless of how I personally might prefer to be addressed, observance of accepted and conventional social usage is the key. This is indicated by the second definition:

2. “Refined; elegant”

It is also healthy for parents to be concerned with how others view their children. Otherwise, one might well be content with allowing them to defecate in public, so long as deposits were made in the neighbors yard. What makes one look good as a parent usually is quite similar to what makes one a good parent; children who are encouraged to address adults by their first names will usually do so regardless of conventional social usage or how the adult prefers to be addressed.

Once, when coaching a boy’s team in Italy, an older boy new to the team once addressed me as “cicio”, which is a friendly term that basically means “pal”. However, it denotes a certain level of equality, which is why the rest of the team gasped and looked at me to see how I would respond.

I answered thusly: “Non mi chiama cicio, se non vuole usare il mio nome, puo chiamarme allenatore o signore.” The use of the third person instead of the more personal second person indicated my displeasure with his importunity, as I told him that if he didn’t want to use my name, (as is the common practice by coaches there), he could address me as either Coach or sir.

As I had correctly interpreted his choice of that friendly form of address as a challenge to my authority, the rest of the team took the lesson to heart and I had little trouble keeping them in order over the course of the season.

If only she’d lied about sex

And here I thought perjury was okay in the post-Clinton era:

Grammy-winning rapper Lil’ Kim was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison and fined $50,000 for lying to a federal grand jury to protect friends involved in a 2001 shootout outside a Manhattan radio station.

While many rappers have served time in prison, Lil’ Kim is the first big-name female to do so.

Lil’ Kim (real name: Kimberly Jones) could have gotten up to 20 years – five years each on three counts of perjury and one count of conspiracy – at her sentencing before U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch. She was convicted of the charges in March.

Down with the amenity

Rod Dreher laments the decline in Southern courtesy:

Use of “sir” and “ma’am” is dying out among the young, even here in Texas. Man, I hate to see this. We try so hard to teach our kids to use these forms, but it seems like few if any of their friends do, or anybody else in this culture. I cringe when I hear our five year old boy on the phone with my folks down in small-town Louisiana, answering their questions with a mere “yes.” Down there, “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” is still relatively commonplace, and they surely think we’re falling down on the job by failing to instill the same in our kids. It’s very hard, though, to make this work when the surrounding culture doesn’t support you.

Another pet peeve of mine: grown-ups who expect your kids to call them by their first names. I hate that overfamiliarity between the generations. An interesting difference between what I see in Dallas and what I grew up with in south Louisiana. In Dallas, kids of my wife’s generation grew up calling their elders by their last names, e.g., “Mrs. Miller.” Where I’m from, the polite thing to do was to put “Miss” (even for a married woman) or “Mr.” in front of the other person’s first name, e.g. “Miss Mamie,” “Mr. Charlie.” It still preserved a certain formality, but was also warmly familiar. Which is lovely, I think.

When I was 8, they began building a nuclear power plant in my hometown, and a bunch of working-class folks from the North moved to town to help build it. The schools were flooded with Yankee chirren who called grown-ups by their first names! No kidding, we Southern kids thought this was unspeakably barbaric. It was as if they’d waltzed into town with a bone through their noses. And now the whole dadgum country is being Yankeefied. I know this will sound too, too precious to you non-Southerners, but I’m betting that Southern readers know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m not a Southerner, although I’ve been a carpetbagger in the past, but I’m fairly hard-core about this one. There is no reason to accept a “yes”, much less a “yeah” or a grunt from a child. Instilling such usage isn’t difficult, it merely requires repeating the question until an acceptable response is received. “Yes, sir” or “yes, please”, “no, sir” or “no, thank you” are all fine.

Dreher has a point, though, as all too often one feels a bit of a Don Quixote. Women, in particular, can be exasperating, as they will frequently interrupt and attempt to inform you that it’s not necessary for their child to use honorifics with adults. And it’s true, they don’t, on the other hand, I don’t have to listen to them either.

If you want your children to be polite, then don’t accept a dearth of manners from them. Ever. It’s that simple.

Blogger down

I’m sorry about the lack of posting yesterday… I tried about six times but Blogger was giving me a Blog Not Found message each time I Publish Posted. They seem to have it sorted out now, however.

I certainly don’t Power Blogger. I suspect it’s a single hamster in a spinning wheel and the little guy just got tuckered out for a while there.

A cool breeze

Old news, but I was both pleased and honored to be quoted by the infamous Mogambo Guru last week. I have to confess that I was a little disturbed at how aptly the feudal system can be used to describe the modern American situation, but once you get your head past the substitution of multi-headed organizations for aristocratic individuals, it’s pretty obvious.

Mogambo was particularly astute with this particular observation: “The Bank of England is shocked and aghast at the sudden rise in bankruptcies, and they are taking steps, so they say, to tighten lending standards to try and prevent more of them! Hahaha! Too late! At this stage of the game, or at any stage of any game, the only thing that the stupidity known as modern mainstream economics prescribes is more credit, not less! Hahaha!

The soothing and hollow words of the Bank of England notwithstanding, central banks always create more and more money and credit to keep the over-indebted economy from collapsing.”

This reminds me of what the Original Cyberpunk mentioned in an email last week: “Top officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which regulates national banks, on Monday dismissed fears that rising home prices nationwide reflect a speculative bubble ready to burst.”

What is that saying? “Never believe anything until it’s been officially denied?