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March 27, 2009

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bad

Politicians.....

Old Lurker

Bad, we are so screwed.

But good morning anyway!

pagar

It is my belief that the average 1st grader is
smart enough to know that the Constitution does not allow people to steal money from other people, just because the ones doing the stealing are politicians.

Jane

You know I think that message is sinking in pagar. I think more than Wall Street, Congress is becoming the enemy. I'm not sure that perception includes the WH as of yet, but a few more Chicago politics stories - like the one on Rahm this week, will assist in that perception.

For that reason, the tea parties will be fascinating. I know about 10 people who have never done anything activist in their lives who plan to attend the April 15th one. And they told me, I didn't ask.

flat house share

hahaha good blog I like it!

clarice

Oooo, I love to dance a little sidestep:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNDHTfdn1A&feature=player_embedded>This should be required viewing in every civics class

Thomas Collins

I'll risk the slings and arrows of my JOM friends again. The bill that came out of the House is clearly within Congress's taxing power under the US Constitution, and is not contrary to any Constitutional provision. Although the AIG matter ignited the spark, the House bill lights up enough of the forest to avoid equal protection, Bill of Attainder or any other constitutional infirmity. The remedy is political (convince folks to vote the bums out of office).

Whoops! Gotta go and find a hiding place! I can sense that clarice is organizing a posse to put an end to my pontifications on Congress's taxing power!!! :-))

fedkatheconvict

Ryan is my congress critter. I voted against him last November in protest over his vote supporting TARP I.

The shocking thing is that he's regularly on the radio here and never misses an opportunity to remind listeners that he has a degree in economics.

clarice

Nah, TC--We just disagree on whther the factual setting makes this move illegal. But the legal argument is being used to cover a lot of embarrassed behinds, isn't it? And Lawrence Tribe helped do that.

(Just as my spidey sense tells me he made it possible for Obama to get thru law school without hardly a soul ever being in a class with him and with no grades available .)

Strawman Cometh

From Article 1, Section 9: "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."
How is a tax rate increase on income already earned not ex post facto?
Are they relying on the old civil vs. criminal dodge?

Old Lurker

"You know I think that message is sinking in pagar. I think more than Wall Street, Congress is becoming the enemy."

Jane, my worry is big things will become law before enough anger is found, and by then, as they say, the toothpaste will be out of the tube. There is vastly transformative legislation on the plate right now and most of it is going to become law within ninety days, be it the budget (and the Cap & Trade, Universal Health Care etc buried therein), the bonus takeback bill, their grab for micromanagement corporate control yesterday, Card Check, just to name a few. At best, the opposition will nibble around the edges.

I love our TC and always respect his legal comments. But his post above is exactly the problem we face: His is a textbook lawyer's argument as to the technicalities and a narrow reading, whereas Clarice backs up two steps and correctly opines that technicalities aside, this bonus law is EXACTLY what the founders meant to prohibit and we all know it.

clarice

O'm not going to research this, but I went to Volokh where real lawyers congregate and here's the latest I could find on the subject:

"Would a Super-Tax on AIG Bonuses Be an Unconstitutional Bill of Attainder?" David Kravitz (Blue Mass Group) -- a very smart appellate lawyer and a former law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- writes on the subject. The most recent case I know of involving bills of attainder in the business law context is Consolidated Edison Co. v. Pataki, 292 F.3d 338 (2d Cir. 2002), which struck down as a bill of attainder the following New York statute:

§ 1. Declaration of legislative findings. The operator of a nuclear generating facility has a high duty of care to protect the health, safety and economic interests of its customers. Rate regulation of nuclear operators should discourage the taking of risks with regard to potential threats to public health and safety.

By continuing to operate steam generators known to be defective, and thereby increasing the risk of a radioactive release and/or an expensive plant outage, the Consolidated Edison Company failed to exercise reasonable care on behalf of the health, safety and economic interests of its customers. Therefore it would not be in the public interest for the company to recover from ratepayers any costs resulting from the February 15, 2000 outage at the Indian Point 2 Nuclear Facility.

§ 2. With respect to the February 15, 2000 outage at the Indian Point 2 Nuclear Facility, the New York state public service commission shall prohibit the Consolidated Edison Company from recovering from its ratepayers any costs associated with replacing the power from such facility. Such prohibition shall apply to any such costs incurred until the conclusion of such outage, or incurred at any time until all defective steam generation equipment at the facility has been replaced, whichever occurs later. Such prohibition shall apply to automatic adjustment mechanisms as well as base rates or any other rate recovery mechanism. The commission shall order the company to refund any such costs which have been recovered from ratepayers.

I can't say anything beyond that, since I'm not an expert on bills of attainder, and unfortunately don't have the time right now to get up to speed on the subject.

Thomas Collins

All right! Attention from clarice and Old Lurker this morning! Because it is joyful to disagree agreeably with friends, let me add a couple of more comments.

Clarice, I agree that a court would look closely at the factual setting. My suspicion (although I acknowledge that I haven't done the research to be able to prove it) is that a lot of legislation, tax and other types of legislation, is stimulated by outrage at a specific case or limited range of cases. I believe the alt min tax on individuals was driven by outrage over a few millionaires not paying any federal tax (alt min is a good example of how a tax targeted to a specific concern grows and grows and bites folks originally not the target of the legislation).

Old Lurker, I agree that on this issue, I am sounding like one's worst nightmare at a cocktail party, namely, a lawyer lecturing on the technical trees while missing the forest. But I do have a broader point in mind, namely, that in terms of how folks spend their energies, political activism (such as the Tea Parties) is to be preferred over litigation in this matter. By the way, I realize that when individuals say that something is unconstitutional, they are not necessarily saying that they have prepared a hundred page memo on the case law and announcing their conclusions at some law school sponsored symposium. They are expressing their view as to how our government should work and how Congress should act more responsibly. And I acknowledge that the Constitution is a document that is not only for legal arguments, but is a document that we Americans, in whatever walk of life, use to express our views of what the proper role of government is, and our views as to when the government should just let people live their lives. I think that is a strength of our country; we are not dependent on lawyers or bureaucrats or social therapy "experts" to dictate to us on the great questions of what is the appropriate role of government. In fact, although I have focused on the legal aspects of this issue, I am thrilled that so many folks are resisiting the attempted Europeanizaton of America that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi Axis of Statism is attempting to impose on us.

Charlie (Colorado)

It is my belief that the average 1st grader is smart enough to know that the Constitution does not allow people to steal money from other people, just because the ones doing the stealing are politicians.

Actually, Pagar, that was only true until February 1913.

Jane

Jane, my worry is big things will become law before enough anger is found, and by then, as they say, the toothpaste will be out of the tube.

Mine too OL - mine too.

Extraneus

Mr. Ryan seems a bit lacking in the "priciples" department. I imagine another line of work would suit him better.

Charlie (Colorado)

Jane, my worry is big things will become law before enough anger is found, and by then, as they say, the toothpaste will be out of the tube.

The answer is to keep the heat on. O can take anything except criticism.

Rick Ballard

Happy birthday Cathy!!

"this bonus law is EXACTLY what the founders meant to prohibit and we all know it"

We could also back up 90-100 years before the founding and chat about Locke's views wrt the abuse of power by the monarch. I'd actually prefer to drop back a little farther and discuss means and methods of achieving an end result similar to that of 1649 but 1688 works as well.

I wonder when the DC Clown Corps is going to come up with the establishment of "special courts" to handle "delicate matters" in "privacy"?

The time for the Second Constitutional Convention is drawing near. What state will be first to call for it? I'd suggest that Texas, Louisiana and Alaska should form a confederation for the purpose of examining the necessity of calling such a convention.

Old Lurker

TC, we do agree on your main point.

Even though you are indeed a cocktail party nightmare on this point!

Old Lurker

Rick's back!

And HB, CathyF.

pagar

that was only true until February 1913

I guess that is what happens when your teachers came from the old school, as most of mine did.

Old Lurker

Jane, did you see the WSJ Editorial today warning that your health care fiasco in MA is about to come to us all?

clarice

Neatly and graciously put,TC.
Welcome back Rick and once again HB, Cathyf--the clearest,most mentally refreshing mind around.

Porchlight

Yay, Rick is back.

Happy Birthday, Cathy!

Good times @JOM.

Enlightened

Totally OT, but...reading Sweetness and Light and the NK missile brouhaha....Apparently it can reach the US - via Alaska.

I bet Palin would love to go head to head with SOS Clinton on the ramifications of that little foreign policy nugget.

Danube of Thought

The prohibition against ex post facto laws applies only to laws imposing criminal sanctions, and specifically does not include taxation. Notable, Bill Clinton's 1993 tax hike was made retroactive, and JOMers have identified a number of other instances of retroactive taxation.

What with creeping senility and all, I can't remember how I came out on the bill of attainder issue. I initially said (erroneously) that narrowly-targeted legislation is OK if it does not impose criminal penalties, but that was clearly wrong--it need merely be "punitive" in order to violate the constitution. The open question (to me) is whether the proposed legislation was so narrowly focused as to amount to trial-by-legislature.

Danube of Thought

*notably*

clarice

How would you say it compares on the facts to the penalty imposed on Con Ed which the Ct ruled violated the prohibition on bills of attainder,DoT?

Extraneus

Seriously, are there any Democrats with Ryan's lack of principle? We may not agree with their socialist thug impulses, but they're at least all on the same page about them.

Would Ryan have voted to imprison the AIG execs if he recived "advice" that it was constitutional? Congressman, if you're reading here, please advise.

pagar

and by then, as they say, the toothpaste will be out of the tube. There is vastly transformative legislation on the plate right now and most of it is going to become law within ninety days, be it the budget (and the Cap & Trade,

Every bit of that transformative legislation is set up to enrich and further the control of the current leftists in power. I posted last night how the Crap and Trade bill is designed to enrich a bunch of Chicago Leftists.

In 2000 and 2001, while Barack Obama served as a board member for a Chicago-based charitable foundation, he helped to fund a pioneering carbon trading exchange that is likely to fill a critical role in the controversial cap-and-trade carbon reduction scheme that President Obama is now trying to push rapidly through Congress.

The President of the Joyce Foundation in 2000, when the foundation made its first grant to the Climate Exchange, was Paula DiPerna, who is now executive vice president of the Chicago Climate Exchange in charge of corporate recruitment and public policy, as well as president of CCX International.

Charlie (Colorado)

By the way, Happy Birthday Cathy.

Charlie (Colorado)

Seriously, are there any Democrats with Ryan's lack of principle?

You're joking, right?

Extraneus

You mean some Democrats aren't commies? Let's have some names.

Cecil Turner

TC, we do agree on your main point.

Well, I don't. While I agree the case law on taxing is very deferential to Congress, there are two big differences between this law and the ones previously upheld:

  • the confiscatory nature of the tax (90% + local taxes=100%);
  • the previously passed authorization (specifically in the stimulus) by Congress to pay the bonuses.
Taken together (along with some unrestrained statements by Congresscritters trying to elbow their way to the front of the lynch mobs) they demonstrate the purpose of the legislation is punishment, not revenue collection, which makes it an entirely different subject. It was that realization dawning on Tribe that made him change his mind, and appropriately so.

To be clear, while I am in complete agreement with what OL said above ("EXACTLY what the founders meant to prohibit . . ."), I am not sure it'd be struck down in court. But neither am I convinced the court will blindly follow the (inapplicable) precedent. IMHO it's untested, and we've got a good chance for a fancy 5-part decision matrix, and who knows what the eigenvalue will be.

Old Lurker

Dot, Clarice, TC.

Point about that bonus clawback law is, legal or not, it sucks.

Strong letter to follow. :-)

clarice

I think the link to the previous legislation particularly designed by treasury to approve these bonuses is the best bit of evidence along with the intemperate speeches by the President AND Congressional members that this was designed to punish a specific group of people, not to raise tax revenue.

And given the AMT and state taxes etc.the confiscation exceeds 100%--more like 130% IIRC.

Were I on the court I know how I'd rule.

Jane

Jane, did you see the WSJ Editorial today warning that your health care fiasco in MA is about to come to us all?

I just read it. WE need a Governor with the cajones to repeal it. My premiums have tripled in 3 years.

Old Lurker

"And given the AMT and state taxes etc.the confiscation exceeds 100%--more like 130% IIRC."

And don't forget that it does not exclude the small fry either. While appearing to go after only the >$250K receivers, the trigger point is "Household Income" >$250. So the guy in the mailroom who got say a $2500 bonus but whose spouse made $250K would have to give it all to the IRS, or more as Clarice says.

clarice

Now I'd like to put in a plug about something that's bothered me for quite some time. The founding fathers had few books to read; no tv or radio or internet and few pamphlets. Even by Lincoln's time, educated people had access to very little written material compared to what we all are combarded with. And yet what they read was so much better to nourish the brain than what we do. Read the debates surrounding the drafting of the constitution or Lincoln's speeches and you can see an ability to comprehend and reason that few of our own age can match.

It's pathetic. A Congressman like Ryan (and he's certainly typical) with so little knowledge of the appropriate role of Congress .

Extraneus

From today's Daily Mail on the Daniel Hannan takedown of Gordon Brown, a quote from Hannon after the fact.

'There is something very surreal about a speech in the European Parliament - one of the most boring places on earth - causing so much excitement.'

Charlie (Colorado)

Nice piece, SBW.

pagar

Let's have some names.

Here's everyone that I can think of.

Stan

Treasury Department's decision making process in an easy to follow video:

BAILOUT!

Charlie (Colorado)

Clarice, I think you're making an argument for the return of the old ideal of a liberal education:


  • The Trivium consisted of:

    • Grammar
    • Rhetoric
    • Logic
  • The Quadrivium consisted of:

    • Arithmetic -- Number in itself
    • Geometry -- Number in space
    • Music, Harmonics, or Tuning Theory -- Number in time
    • Astronomy or Cosmology -- Number in space and time
Old Lurker

Clarice, making the same point, I have often marveled at how much was figured out by the ancients just by watching the stars and the looking around.

My favorite was the guy that noodled that the earth was really a sphere centuries before Galileo, and further how big it was by measuring the difference in the shadow cast by a pole at high noon from two spots in ancient Egypt that were a known distance apart (because he sent guys out with a chain to pace it off). And he got very close to the right answer.

Now ask a peer or a kid today to explain how he knows the earth is round, and how would he go about measuring it?

Jane

Maybe all the JOMers should agree to run for office. We could have a JOM Congress. It would be our own little JOM-olist. The public certainly appears to be in the mood to throw the bums out.

Largebill

That's a shame about Ryan. I had heard good things about him, but he showed poor judgment in that vote and even worse judgment in explaining it.

Charlie (Colorado)

That's a shame about Ryan. I had heard good things about him, but he showed poor judgment in that vote and even worse judgment in explaining it.

One hopes it was a learning experience for him.

Jane

SBW - great editorial!

MayBee

Maybe all the JOMers should agree to run for office. We could have a JOM Congress.

At the thought of me running for office, Henry Waxman quakes in his boots.

Extraneus

One hesitates to consider what lesson he might have learned.

clarice

Well, I did a short article on this just now and submitted it because i can't figure this conundrum out. The Founding Fathers and even lincolln had access to very few books and had little formal education--with luck they had the Bible, Shakespeare, Blackstone's Commentaries ands their own minds and powers of introspection and reason and we--with access to all the information in the world at our fingertips and many more yearsw of (expensive) education remain utter dunces about the things that truly matter.
Shocking really.

I think less may be more frankly--

jimmyk

My favorite was the guy that noodled that the earth was really a sphere centuries before Galileo

On my first couple of readings of this I parsed it as "My favorite was the guy that noodled that {the earth was really a sphere centuries before Galileo}" and wanted to comment "Yeah, like around 400 million centuries before Galileo!"

But yes, how many kids are told that it was Columbus who dared to believe the earth was round? I know I was.

clarice

How can you have so much information and so little knowledge?

TCO

Typical RINO. All you JOM Kensians are just like the feckless "Republicans" in Congress.

Danube of Thought

Clarice, the only reason I hesitate on the attainder issue is that I don't know the scope of the legislation under discussion. Whether it would be struck down or not, it seems to me clearly abusive, and my understanding is that it's going nowhere.

On a much brighter note for legal insiders, the two archfiends Bill Lerach and Mel Weiss (both of whom now repose in federal prison) have just been sued in Minneapolis by a firm that paid $18 million to settle one of those guys' class-action lawsuits. I understand the theory is extortion.

For interested non-lawyers, Lerach and Weiss's firm (Milberg, Weiss et al.) were the kings of the class action bar, and scored hundreds of millions by filing strike suits any time a publicly-traded company's share price went down. They couldn't risk a trial that would put them out of business, so they always settled. The lawyers would pocket huge fees; the shareholders in the class would get a few dollars each.

Jane

TCO,

I'm sorry you are so starved for attention. I think you might get more response if you posted at Daily Kos or the Huffington Post.

Cecil Turner

But yes, how many kids are told that it was Columbus who dared to believe the earth was round? I know I was.

Grrr. I recently provided printouts of Columbus's navigation theory, a picture of the Farnese Atlas (2nd century of Atlas with a globe/starmap on his shoulder), and a bio of Eratosthenes's (2nd century BC mathematician whose well experiment determined the size of the earth) for precisely that reason. From the science teacher, no less.

Jim Ryan

Real intelligence requires virtue. IQ and information are insufficient. You have to love truth and have the character to seek it out during inquiry and deliberations, whatever it turns out to be.

matt

He was for it before he was against it before he was for it.

matt

don't forget Latin and Greek as part of that curriculum, Charlie!

clarice

That is great news about Lerach,DoT.I also think it;s time to go after some of the plaintiffs, too, for the educational effect.

clarice

My grandfather once said to me in an aside that all his grandchildren were smart when they were little and got stupider with each year they spent in school.
HEH

Danube of Thought

"All you JOM Kensians..."

Anybody know what a Kensian is?

Charlie (Colorado)

How can you have so much information and so little knowledge?

To be fair, I think there are a couple counter-points. First one is that I'm not sure it's quite fair to say the Founders didn't have a lot to read. After all, Ben Franklin became a rich man as a bestselling writer.

Second one is there's a selection effect here. I bow to no one in my admiration for the brilliance of the Founders, particularly Madison, who just doesn't get enough credit. But there was a lot of silly crap published at the same time, and I'm sure even more silly crap that didn't get published. After 250 years, the silly crap gets filtered out.

That said, though, I think you have a point. An educated person then learned Socratic logic and Euclidian geometry; when Jefferson wrote "We hold these truths to be self evident" anyone with an education knew he was saying "we assert these truths as the basis, the axioms, on which we reason." He was saying, like Euclid, "these are the deepest most basic facts that we can identify on this topic." He knew what a "dilemma" was, and didn't think "on the horns of a dilemma" was a sexual reference. (Just got that from an editor the other day.) He knew why "tu quoque" and "ad hominem" weren't valid -- although, God knows, that didn't mean they didn't get used.

The biggest thing, though, is that I think the factory model of education, of students as workpieces moving through workstations called grades and assigned quality measures (also called grades, confusingly) instead of being expected to master a topic, just isn't a good one.

Charlie (Colorado)

Real intelligence requires virtue. IQ and information are insufficient. You have to love truth and have the character to seek it out during inquiry and deliberations, whatever it turns out to be.

I started out ready to argue with you, and then saw what you were defining as "virtue." Leaving me with no stronger argument than "hear, hear!"

Charlie (Colorado)

How can you have so much information and so little knowledge?

Posted by: clarice | March 27, 2009 at 12:35 PM

Typical RINO. All you JOM Kensians are just like the feckless "Republicans" in Congress.

Posted by: TCO | March 27, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Amazing, how perfectly a coincidence will work out sometimes.

Charlie (Colorado)

Don't forget Latin and Greek as part of that curriculum, Charlie!

Well, people did manage to do well with little Latin and less Greek. But you're right that the whole Trivium was largely based on Latin and Greek.

Charlie (Colorado)

Anybody know what a Kensian is?

I'm guessing he meant "Keynsian". This seems doubly probable since he's previously demonstrated that he hasn't a clue what a Keynsian is.

Porchlight

Real intelligence requires virtue.

Jim Ryan, what a fascinating thought. I hadn't ever looked it that way before.

It reminds me a little of Coolidge's famous comment:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

So if:
Talent/genius-->IQ
Education-->Information

then:
Persistence-->Virtue and Character

Am I way off?

Charlie (Colorado)

a bio of Eratosthenes's (2nd century BC mathematician whose well experiment determined the size of the earth)

not to mention inventing the colander.

clarice

I think we're close Charlie. It's not just the assembly line education though--I think we spend too little time thinking and too much time listening,viewing,reading. In all that time there is honestly little to actually consider, play with in one's mind..Sometimes I think we're all locked in some mad version of Dos Passos' USA..You know--Britney Spears Breaks fingernail; NKorea launches nuclear attack; Lindsay Lohan arrested again for DUI...Lots of dross given equal if not more play than the real stuff and too little time to think about what we need to think about.

PD

Baldwin is my Rep, not Ryan, but when I read this I went and put a fake Zip into the contract form so I could send him what I sent my Rep, with a note that he shouldn't have had to come to the position the Rage Tax was unconstitutional to vote against it:

"Congress itself authorized the AIG bonus payments in the stimulus bill, (un)popularly known as "porkulus," which Congress was in such haste to pass that it could not be bothered to actually read.

Now Congress wants to tax those bonuses at 90% by means of a bill that:

* Though it might be crafted not to look like a bill of attainder, certainly is a bill of attainder in intent and spirit.

* Retroactively enacts a punitive tax against people that Congress does not like.

* Uses taxation AS A WEAPON against people who are the recipients of payment that Congress authorized them to receive.

* Punishes other people for the failure of Congress to understand its own earlier legislation.

Is that about right?

Tell me you people are not insane. Well, no, don't tell me. I know of no facts in evidence that would lead me to believe you. I see no leadership here. I see only poor legislating, followed by attempts to scapegoat other people for Congress' failures."

Ryan disappointed me this time. He's not perfect, but he's certainly better than many.

Rick Ballard

"The Founding Fathers and even Lincoln had access to very few books and had little formal education--with luck they had the Bible, Shakespeare, Blackstone's Commentaries and their own minds and powers of introspection and reason"

Clarice,

You really have to chip in Locke, Montesquieu and Burke's American agency speeches and actions in Parliament (at a month's delay for transportation) at a minimum for the Founders. Lincoln is a slightly different matter but I'm pretty sure he would have had access to all of those and a bit more during his legal training.

What appears to be happening today is more a blind acceptance of Leviathan as a force too great to be overcome.

It ain't. I'm no fan of revolution but I won't live peaceably under mob rule by the obviously inferior and I'm definitely not all by myself in that regard.

Jim Ryan

Portch, pretty close, but you have to add to persistence an unflinching willingness to accept where the evidence leads. There are all sorts of threads which tie our allegiances to certain outcomes of inquiry. We have to be ready to snip those threads when the evidence comes in and it's not what you wanted.

For an example of epistemic vice, take the scientist who interprets his lab data perversely because it is showing that his cherished hypothesis is not turning out to be true. Or someone who cherishes the idea of the Perfectibility of Man and hasn't the virtue to relinquish this position on the evidence. He may cling to theories and views which are false and dangerous as a result. He may even conclude that sending people to re-education camps is right, given his premises, who knows. This is the dogmatist: one who holds to a belief whatever the evidence is against it. Also, there are intellectuals who turn around and dismiss the notion of objective evidence and truth rather than relinquish their cherished views. These dogmatists degenerate to become sophists.

Charlie (Colorado)

Persistence-->Virtue and Character

Am I way off?

I don't know if you are, but I'll argue against you. (Dialectic, which is to a great extent what they meant by "logic" in the Trivium.)

If it were persistence, that would suggest that "virtue" in Jim's sense could only be achieved through a long process. But what about someone who, for whatever reason, loves truth and seeks it out by nature?

Or consider the three-lettered one, who seems to have substantial persistence, but little "virtue" in Jim's sense?

Charlie (Colorado)

I think we spend too little time thinking...

Definitely that. But I went off on a rant on that once this week already.

I'm inclining to the idea that a lack of "dialectic", lack of skill with the "method of elenchus" may be the underlying issue.

clarice

Look at that journolist stuff Kaus posted --all that twittering and bleeping and whatever for what? Ridiculous prepubescent notions of social intercourse.

Charlie (Colorado)

You really have to chip in Locke, Montesquieu and Burke's American agency speeches and actions in Parliament (at a month's delay for transportation) at a minimum for the Founders. Lincoln is a slightly different matter but I'm pretty sure he would have had access to all of those and a bit more during his legal training.

I'm pretty certain of the Locke/Burke aspect, although 30 seconds of googling doesn't reveal an absolute citation for it. But there's no doubt whatsoever that Lincoln knew Euclid -- he read Euclid for fun, I think he would have agreed with Edna Millay -- and it's clear that his legal education included plenty of debate.

Charlie (Colorado)

Okay, I can't resist:

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Charlie (Colorado)

epistemic vice

That one just went into the concepts-for-later store.

Porchlight

Thanks, Jim. That is a crucial distinction so I'm glad you pointed it out.

Have you read The Search by C.P. Snow? It's about exactly this sort of intellectual knot. Three friends, all scientists, pursue their careers in 1930s academic Britain. One, about to receive a major promotion, finds out he has made an honest but important mistake in his research and does the honorable thing by removing himself from consideration for the post. Another is sloppy and careless and eventually begins to falsify his work, because he had fallen in love with his theory and couldn't abandon it. It's a wonderful exploration of science and morality and Snow is one of my favorite writers.

A great Snow quote I found on Wiki, from his long essay The Two Cultures, about the modern disconnect between science and the humanities:

A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the law of entropy. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: 'Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?'

I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question — such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, 'Can you read?' — not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language. So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the western world have about as much insight into it as their Neolithic ancestors would have had.

Old Lurker

This fits into the discussion, though not at the Jim Ryan - Charlie level.

I recall reading about a brain activity mapping study from several years ago. IIRC, the brain activity was measured as the subjects a)watched a video of a story and then again b)read the story from a book. The amount of brain activity and the breadth of it was markedly elevated in the reading vs the watching.

Now reflect on how little reading is done these days. And who does it. Hence the "Britney breaks nail, North Korea launches nuke, Brad Pitt...news at 11.)

Porchlight

Charlie, those are good points. I wasn't so much arguing that persistence=virtue/character as just trying to map out what I thought were the similarities between Jim's observation and the Coolidge quote. Though I do think persistence and virtue are related, it's not so clear-cut as that.

And now, just as I am trying to wrap my brain around this fascinating thread, TM goes and drops a new post about the JournoList!

Jim Ryan

Porch, no I haven't read The Search, thanks for the tip. In return, if you find this topic interesting, check into Susan Haack's articles of the early-mid 1990's.

Charlie, yes but persistence can still count as an epistemic virtue. If you have the other epistemic virtue but no persistence, you have a considerable epistemic vice. No matter how smart you are, there are puzzles that will require persistence.

OL, yes, I always think about that sort of thing whenever I'm letting my kids see a movie version of a book.

clarice

I have stopped watching tv--haven't watched it for months. I suppose if HBO rerund Deadwood or Rome I'll turn it on again, but never for news.
I refuse to listen to radio news although I ocassionally listen to Rush in the attenuated after hours version on my pc.


I rarely read non-fiction except for classics because I find it idiotic in comparison.

I suppose I'm just getting old and crotchety. or older and more crotchety.

clarice

**rerunS**

Charlie (Colorado)

I suppose I'm just getting old and crotchety. or older and more crotchety.

Practice makes perfect.

Old Lurker

Clarice, it sounds like you unplugged the tube when Brit Hume left the roundtable. If so, good call.

Jane

I'm completely addicted to ambient noise, and for me, ambient news is Fox News in the background. I haven't watched TV in years, but I'm embarrassed to say it is always running in the background.

clarice

Exactly..The day he left-OL.

daddy

Porchlight,

Love that CP Snow essay, The Two Cultures. Did you know that as a Cambridge Undergrad Snow lived in Charles Darwin's Dorm room in Christ's College?

There is another great quote recorded by CP Snow that has always struck me as brilliant, and though I won't get it right here, I will track it down tonight. It has to do with Snow's world famous Cambridge Math Professor, Hardy. Hardy considered himself the 5th best mathematician in the world, but somehow, about 1930 or so, he suddenly realized that the terminology for who was an "Intellectual" had changed, and no longer was it scientists, mathematicians, etc, now it was the salon new age novelists, art critics etc of the day. The term "Intellectual" had been culturally hijacked by the Britany Speare's of the day, and Hardy wryly noted that after 40 years of being an intellectual he suddenly woke up one day to discover that he no longer was one.

I did a poor job of relating that but will try to better tonight.

And Clarice your observation is spot on. We can reproduce another generation of founding fathers, but we won't, because our school systems and pop cultural inundations deny them the opportunity to enjoy the Founding generations syllabus. Forget Plutarch or Livy etc. I can't even get "Huckleberry Finn" in the classroom.

Jim Ryan

deny them the opportunity to enjoy the Founding generations syllabus.

Not at my kitchen table. At my homeschool, we kick it old school. Next fall my kids and I are spending all semester on the American Revolution. This year we covered Ancient Greece and Rome and Colonial America in detail. My oldest is eight. Homeschool your kids. Homeschool your grandkids. It's practically a duty at this point.

Porchlight

Daddy,

I didn't know that! Funny, a friend was just describing to me via email today how Darwin sat on his research for twenty years because he knew how revolutionary it was, and he was worried about the consequences of releasing it to the world. The extra time allowed him to marshal and strengthen his evidence considerably.

Glad to hear you are a Snow fan, too. (I will attempt no Alaska puns.) If you have time to track down that story about Hardy, I'd love to hear more.

Porchlight

Jim, I envy your kids the education they are receiving at your kitchen table.

I have thought seriously about homeschooling, but I don't know how we would afford it.

glenda

Charlie..TY for not resisting--my grandmother started reading me Edna St.Vincent Millay before I could read(she was a librarian with determination & persistance) On my black days, Millay, helps.
This thread has been like a class (Clarice, OL, DoT, Charlie, TC,Jane) I took lots of notes-when is the exam?
daddy...How is the ash today? was good to see Gov.Palin fight back this week! Are you
flights still delayed?

matt

all;

I think in a way we are seeing a new line of thinking that relates more closely to the Founding Fathers. We are in a time that clearly challenges established beliefs and wisdom. The intelligentsia have arrived at a zero point. They really have no more good ideas, it would seem.

Going back and reading Chesterton, he said "In expressing confused things, the moderns have great subtlety and sympathy. It is in expressing clear ideas that they generally find their limitations".

He also noted in 1929, "politicians now think they have to educate the electorate and explain to them what is good for them. Gone are the days when the electorate educated their representatives...with the certainty that if no result were forthcoming neither would any votes be forthcoming".

And yet when I read this board there is hope, there is determination to make a difference. Perhaps more will feel this way as they tune in, and after a while, a few more. Sometimes it does take such a crisis to clarify ideas.

Ignatz Ratzkywatzky

Homeschool your kids.

Our youngest and last at home is 16 and has been homeschooled since fourth grade.
4.0 GPA and a golden hearted little smarta**.
Wants to go to Biola when she graduates.
Very glad we kept her out of California's public schools, especially since it strengthened her relationship to both of us.
And since we tote her around to various youth groups, dance classes etc at least 4-5 times a week the socialization bugaboo is a crock. The best socialized kids I know are almost all either homeschooled or private schooled.

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