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    • What Hungary’s Purge of Senior Military Officers Can Teach Us All
      Victor Orban is not a stupid man even though I disagree with him on a great deal: Hungarian military leadership is receiving a purge. Over 170 generals and high-ranking officers were fired in a matter of a couple days. A deNATOization is occurring in the Hungarian command purging those that were socialized in NATO and international partnerships. Now, it’s ea […]
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Why Alpha Males Rule Our World – and How We Can Begin to Erode their Dominance


Readers: Please Note that this is an extremely long post broken into several parts which includes numerous links to background information.  I’ve chosen to post it in its entirety to allow the reader the option of reading it in total, or ‘nibbling’ on the parts.  If you’d like to read it in parts, I suggest you bookmark the page and come and go at your leisure.  All references to “culture,” with the exception of those specifically identified in the section on the baboon studies of Sapolsky, refer to human culture as a whole.

Your comments, feedback, and ideas on this important topic are welcomed and encouraged.  I especially recommend perusal of Part 5 which discusses the findings of Dr. R. M. Sapolsky.

Part 1.   Social Dominance Theory – the Basics[1]

Social dominance theory posits that once a group establishes dominance within a culture they will create and use institutions and legitimizing myths to maintain their dominance and control over the resources of the society.  There are  three basic categories where social dominance is exercised: age, gender, and arbitrary.  The dominant group uses its dominance to control access to the culture’s resources while subordinate groups have those resources meted out to them by virtue of rules established by the dominant group.

This dominance is supported by both those in the dominant group and those who are in the subordinate group(s) by indoctrination through ideologies and legitimizing myths.  (Some of you may have heard me refer to these legitimizing myths in the past as “patriarchal educational materials.”)  This indoctrination is effected through the establishment of institutions that are run by the dominant group such as governments and religious institutions.  Anyone who rejects or tries to change the legitimizing myths or challenge the ideologies are attacked and rejected by society as deviant and destructive or dismissed as odd and undesirable; however, the tendency for counter-movements to arise from out of the subordinate groups has been noted and the success of these counter-movement is directly related to the subordinate group’s ability to fend off attacks from those who wish to destroy them or takeover by those who are in or support the dominant group’s cultural status.

Continue reading

Go read Glenzilla


I wanted to do a good piece on Sonia Sotomayor,  Obama’s nominee to replace David Souter, but Glenzilla said it first and better.  My favorite part:

It is very encouraging that Obama ignored the ugly, vindictive, and anonymous smear campaign led by The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen and his secret cast of cowardly Eminent Liberal Legal Scholars of the Respectable Intellectual Center.  People like that, engaging in tactics of that sort, have exerted far too much influence on our political culture for far too long, and Obama’s selection of one of their most recent targets both reflects and advances the erosion of their odious influence.  And Obama’s choice is also a repudiation of the Jeffrey-Rosen/Ben-Wittes/Stuart-Taylor grievance on behalf of white males that, as Dahlia Lithwick put it, “a diverse bench must inevitably be a second-rate bench.”

As for the California Supremes decision on Prop H8, I think they made the right decision legally, although it was the wrong decision morally.  Judges are supposed to interpret the law, not make it.  Their original ruling that made gay marriage legal was based on the California Constitution, and the voters chose to amend that constitution last November.

We need to win this fight at the ballot box and/or the statehouse.

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Vacation Open Thread

Where are you going this summer?

(I’m going to hell in a bucket)

Un/Ravelling One Thread from the Same-Sex Marriage Franchise Skein

The debate on extending the franchise of marriage to same-sex couples appears mired in a contradiction? Advocates of extending the franchise claim that doing so merely gives same-sex couples equal rights status. Advocates of maintaining the current arrangement argue that same-sex couples are seeking special rights, not merely equal rights. On this point, who is right and who is wrong?

The short answer is both parties are right and wrong. How can this be? I think that the path to this answer is well-served by a detour to the heart of American philosophy, specifically to the porch of William James:


“Some years ago, being in a camping party in the mountains, I returned from a solitary ramble to find everyone engaged in a ferocious metaphysical dispute. The corpus of the dispute was a squirrel – a live squirrel supposed to be clinging to one side of a tree-trunk; while over against the tree’s opposite side a human being was imagined to stand. The human witness tries to get sight of the squirrel by moving rapidly round the tree, but no matter how fast he goes, the squirrel moves as fast in the opposite direction, and always keeps the tree between himself and the man, so that a glimpse of him is never caught. The resultant metaphysical problem now is this: Does the man go round the squirrel or not? He goes round the tree, sure enough, and the squirrel is on the tree; but does he go round the squirrel? In the unlimited leisure of the wilderness, discussion had been worn threadbare. Everyone had taken sides, and was obstinate; and the number on both sides were even. Each side, when I had appeared therefore appealed to me to make it a majority. Mindful of the scholastic adage that whenever you meet a contradiction you must make a distinction, I immediately sought and found one, as follows: “Which party is right,” I said, “depends on what you practically mean by “going round” the squirrel. If you mean passing from the north of him to the east, then to the south, then to the west, and then to the north of him again, obviously the man does go round him. But if on the contrary you mean being first in front of him, then on the right of him, then on his left, and finally in front again, it is quite obvious that the man fails to go around him, for by the compensating movements the squirrel makes, he keeps his belly turned towards the man all the time, and his back turned away. Make the distinction and there is no occasion for any farther dispute. You are both right and both wrong according as you conceive the verb “to go around” in one practical fashion or the other.”

James’ sage advise about seeking a distinction points towards examining what is meant both by ‘equal rights’ and ‘special rights’. Prior to doing so, it will be useful to consider how rights formulations are calibrated.

In general, in considering what duties and responsibilities we can be said to hold towards each other in terms of rights, modes of conduct can be seen as things that should be celebrated, tolerated, or not tolerated. Celebrated refers to those forms of conduct that should be promoted by principles, policies, and practise. Tolerated refers to those forms of conduct that are not deemed worthy of special support, but that are also not bad enough to be sanctioned against. That which should not be tolerated is sanctioned against.

With regard to the question of same-sex marriage, the categories of celebrated, tolerated, and not tolerated serve to provide the distinction between special rights and equal rights. Advocates of extending the marriage franchise to same sex couples perceive that withholding these rights creates a second class of unequal citizens. They believe equal means celebrated. Advocates of maintaining the current arrangement, while allowing for civil unions, perceive the marriage franchise as a celebratory right/rite and same-sex coupling as something to be tolerated. They believe equal means tolerated. Advocates of maintaining the current arrangement and denying access to civil unions, on the other hand, fall into the camp of limited toleration and non-toleration.

The point to take here is that both sides in the dispute are talking past each other on the question of what counts as equal or special in the realm of rights. Because they lack the language to understand how the other’s position could be perceived as right, an extra entanglement is added to the akimbo skein. This is not to say, however, that acquiring this language is a panacea for the ill will inherent in such a debate. It is not. It’s merely one thread off the tangled skein. One thread is better than none, however, if it stops the crosstalk about who is right about the rights’ question and directs the participants to get at what is really at issue, which is the question of what types of conduct should be celebrated, tolerated, and not tolerated in the community.

PS Does this post remind you of Obama at Notre Dame? I anticipate an answer that depends upon what is meant by “remind you of Obama”. 😉

Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Kindle with coffee


And a nice surprise for a change…
Obama Chooses Sotomayor for Supreme Court Nominee (h/t BostonBoomer)

President Obama will nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as his first appointment to the court, officials said Tuesday, and has scheduled an announcement for 10:15 a.m. at the White House.

I say to Right Wing Freaks: “Bring. It. On!”

  • Little Midget Wants to Play With The Bigz
  • Reports: NKorea test-fires 2 short-range missiles

    North Korea launched tests Tuesday of two more short-range missiles a day after conducting a nuclear test, news reports said, pushing the regime’s confrontation with world powers further despite the threat of U.N. Security Council action.

    Korean Blast Draws Outrage

    Nations around the world voiced alarm and frustration about what could be done to rein in the growing security threat from North Korea after the isolated regime set off what it said was its most powerful nuclear test yet.
    Along with an underground detonation that registered on seismic stations as far away as Texas, North Korea tested three short-range missiles, including one from the same site from which it fired a long-range missile over Japan in April.

    Tested Early by North Korea, Obama Has Few Options

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    A day after North Korea’s nuclear test, tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose further as Seoul announced that it would join a U.S.-led initiative to curb nuclear trade and the North reportedly test-launched two more short-range missiles.

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    North Korea’s nuclear test yesterday morning, its most defiant move since President Obama took office, presents a direct challenge to the new US administration’s more conciliatory approach to ending North Korea’s nuclear program, according to current and former US officials and arms control specialists.

    No more sunshine in North Korea

    There are three explanations for North Korea’s nuclear test today, none of them palatable

  • So Long, Suckers
  • Favorites of Left Don’t Make Obama’s Court List

    Pamela S. Karlan is a champion of gay rights, criminal defendants’ rights and voting rights. She is considered brilliant, outspoken and, in her own words, “sort of snarky.” To liberal supporters, she is an Antonin Scalia for the left.

    But Ms. Karlan does not expect President Obama to appoint her to succeed Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring.

    Why Obama Owes Bush an Apology

    Mr Obama is adjusting the Bush administration’s policies here and there and seeks to put them on a sounder legal footing. This recalibration is significant and wise, but it is by no means the entirely new approach that he led everybody to expect.
    Mr Obama is in the right, in my view, but he owes his supporters an apology for misleading them. He also owes George W. Bush an apology for saying that the last administration’s thinking was an affront to US values, whereas his own policies would be entirely consonant with them.

  • This Week’s Must-Watch
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    The Treasury Department this week is expected to unveil its plan for revamping the patchwork of agencies that oversee the financial industry.

    Crunch time looms for GM, Chrysler restructuring

  • Economy Watch
  • The question isn’t whether Social Security will be around but how we’ll pay for it

    “Is Social Security still going to be around when I retire?”
    That’s a question that concerned American workers are asking at a time when employers are increasingly opting not to provide traditional pension plans or freezing existing ones. Meanwhile, 401(k) plans have been ravaged by a prolonged stock-market free fall, and some employers have ceased matching contributions for them.
    The concern about retirement security escalated another notch May 12, when Social Security trustees projected that payroll tax revenues flowing into the program will fall below program costs by 2016 — a scant seven years away and a year earlier than forecast last year.

    US Economy Could Begin Growing This Year: Krugman

    “I will not be surprised to see world trade stabilise, world industrial production stabilise and start to grow two months from now,” Krugman told a seminar. “I would not be surprised to see flat to positive GDP growth in the United States, and maybe even in Europe, in the second half of the year.”

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    Mr. President, Show Me the Stimulus Money

    Three months after the passage of a much ballyhooed stimulus package aimed at resuscitating the economy and creating jobs, precious little federal money has actually been paid out.

    Where Is TARP Money Going? How Much Is Left?

  • “War On The Terror”: The Sequel
  • Autopsies of War Dead Reveal Ways to Save Others

    Who Killed Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi?

    Nothing better illustrates the farce of the Bush administration’s involvements in the Middle East than the brutal detention and mysterious death of Ali al-Fakhiri, better known in the media by his nom de guerre, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi.

    Ex-Detainee Describes Struggle for Exoneration

    When the nightmare finally ended — seven years at Guantanamo Bay, two years of force-feeding through a tube in his right nostril, the long struggle to proclaim his innocence before a judge, and finally 10 days of hospitalization — Lakhdar Boumediene celebrated with pizza for lunch in a little Paris dive.

    From Albania, freed Guantánamo prisoner watches detainee debate unfold

    If Obama cedes ground on torture to Cheney, we’ll all pay a heavy price

  • Headaches Galore
  • 3 Soldiers Killed in Afghan Bombing

    Gates Says Taliban Have Momentum in Afghanistan

    Mr. Gates said the momentum in Afghanistan is with the Taliban, who are inflicting heavy U.S. casualties and hold de facto control of swaths of the country.

    Iran rejects proposal to freeze its atomic programme

    Pakistan battles Taliban, humanitarian crisis looms

  • HRC and Yale: A Love Affair
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    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got a standing ovation as well as an honorary degree at Yale University’s 308th graduation ceremony yesterday.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton Surprises Yale Graduates