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Posts published in “Day: April 10, 2022”

The definition of an extraordinary woman

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She was confirmed.

You know deep down she deserves confirmation. Ketanji Brown Jackson is, after all, a woman of great professionalism, accomplishment and dignity.

She is a woman of distinction.

You hear that? I said “woman.”

Ketanji Brown Jackson is a woman. An accomplished Black woman. She’s an intellectual without being an academic — a real-life trial judge who belongs on the highest bench in the land.

Was that really the best you could come up with?

When you first started spreading the nonsense — that Ketanji Brown Jackson “doesn’t know what a woman is,” you almost sounded like you believed your own attempt at mockery.

Or maybe you did believe it.

I hope you realize that, yes, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson absolutely knows how to define a woman — she, herself, is a woman of great distinction and accomplishment.

You’re something of a dullard if you didn’t recognize the loaded nature of that question, that it was far less a request for the judge to quote a dictionary definition of “woman” than it was a demand to know how she’d rule on any case involving transgender people. Surely you know it was an absolutely volatile question, posed with no small measure of hostility. Brown Jackson’s refusal to answer was true to her character — she’s likely to rule on cases involving transgender issues in the future.

She kept her composure and didn’t take the bait.

So the woman thing was looking a little skimpy — even to your jaundiced eye, it didn’t look like much but, by golly, the Democrats just love Brown Jackson so there’s gotta be something seriously wrong with her. It doesn’t matter that some of the most esteemed members of our nation’s judiciary — jurists from one side of the political spectrum to the other — are excited to see such a perfect candidate confirmed.

It was also convenient to ignore Brown Jackson’s statements regarding her deep Christian faith.

So you added the child pornography offender sentencing to the clamor, even though every one of Brown Jackson’s sentences were in line with sentences imposed by her colleagues, including conservative judicial appointees.Legal experts agree Brown Jackson’s sentencing was neither out of the ordinary nor inappropriate when examined in context and compared to practices of her peers.

And that was it.

Not a shred of stain beyond two patent absurdities. The irony is Brown Jackson might be the least controversial candidate put forward to that bench in my lifetime. Put another way, she might be the closest thing to a perfect candidate as I’ve ever witnessed.

C’mon, people, this is a historic moment in which we should all take pride.

Let’s celebrate the confirmation of the first Black woman, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

You can bet this erudite and accomplished woman knows exactly how to define “woman” because she’s had a little experience being an extraordinary and consummate example of the very term.

Matthew Meador is a former food and wine writer, senior editor and a rare moderate Republican who now writes political commentary. Previously, Matt was an award-winning graphic artist who often put his skills to use during election seasons. Matt has served in various capacities on political campaigns, for pollsters and for elected officials. Contact him at matthewmeador.com (https://matthewmeador.com/).

Photograph © Wikicago via Wiki Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/)
 

Solving domestic terrorism

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The problem isn’t new, but some of the possible routes to solution probably are new at least to many of us.

The report where they can be found comes from the Oregon Secretary of State’s audits division. This one technically isn’t an audit - that would entail more ccst and time - but it does some of the same work, laying out problems and correctives.

In this case: “The alarming risk of domestic terrorism and violent extremist attacks.”

The prevalence of this kind of violence in Oregon is a little surprising: sixth highest among all states for domestic violent extremism incidents, accounting for a tenth of all cases nationally in 2020.

The report cites the “violent domestic violent extremism attacks on the State Capitol Building on December 21, 2020” (the cover photo depicts the event) and says that year was “unprecedented by the number of domestic violent extremist incidents in Oregon and nationwide.” The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge incident and the violent Portland protests in the summer of 2020 were mentioned as well.

There’s not a lot of speculation about why so much of it is happening here. Politically, action on the right may grow out of frustration with a mostly blue state, and on the left it may come from urban activist concentrations; but those are not unusual conditions nationally. (Reverse the labels and the same dynamics could apply in, say, Idaho). The report does say, “Domestic terrorists draw from many philosophies and worldviews to justify illegal acts. They can be motivated to commit crimes in the name of ideas such as animal rights, environmental rights, white supremacy, anti-government beliefs, and anarchism. Yet expression of these ideas, aside from criminal activities, is generally constitutionally protected.”

Only the final stages of these incidents are illegal, subject to specific government action. Most of what comes before - including expressions of opinion - is legally protected, and often comes from individuals or barely noticed small groups. Taking action at that level could feel like wrestling fog.

There are no slam-dunk solutions, but we do get a bunch of non-obvious steps that taken together could help.

The report says two-thirds of the states have laws defining domestic violent extremism; Oregon isn’t one of them. Definition is a necessary first step.

Oregon has a Homeland Security Council, but: “state oversight agencies lack consistent and connected plans and outcome goals increasing the risk of gaps or redundancies in the state approach for monitoring and addressing.” There’s no strategy.

Or, apparently, seriousness: “The Oregon Homeland Security Council, a governing body comprised of numerous high-level officials, meets sporadically, and does not have a documented statewide strategy with specific measurable outcomes for domestic violent extremism. Relationships between DOJ, OSP, and local law enforcement agencies are not always formalized, leading to ad hoc, relationship-based cooperation which presents a sustainability risk when turnover occurs.”

Some improvements, not widely recognized at the time, were made in legislation passed last year. They range from efforts to reorganize and improve coordination among state agencies to the mandating (House Bill 2936) of “a uniform background checklist for law enforcement units to implement during hiring processes. Specifically, this checklist must include ‘an assessment of the applicant’s tendencies, feelings and opinions toward diverse cultures, races and ethnicities and differing social, political, economic and life statuses’.”

Some recent funding to cover areas like cybersecurity, drone monitoring (of risky events) and other newer technology might offer an edge, if used the right way.

All of this only gets to problems in the late stages, when it may be too late to stop. The problem isn’t easy since free speech considerations are also involved. The report also has some suggestions for short-circuiting violence before it gets that far.

One involves an academically-researched approach called “attitudinal inoculation.” What it involves is: “The premise of this work is founded in the understanding misinformation is pernicious in its ability to stick with individuals; false claims are often believed at an emotional, rather than rational, level. The goal then becomes to help individuals better recognize and resist misleading messages. To do this, researchers have deployed studies where they introduce brief clips that demonstrate techniques used to influence along with a presenter who explains what is being done. Results of these studies have, so far, demonstrated effectiveness at equipping individuals to resist future messages.”

Maybe public schools could introduce this kind of literacy. Maybe in the third or fourth grade.

The report added that some states (it cites Colorado as a major example) have had some success in developing locally-based anti-violence efforts.

There’s not one single answer to this kind of violence. But there are ways, this report shows, to turn the dial down, and craft a structure on a solution.

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