Re: He who controls the past, controls the future

1

I should be a strong sympathizer, but by the time I got to the end of the WM article, I was totally distracted by its endless cheap shots. Talk about playing right into the "culture wars" framing. Ridiculing people for not having college degrees or not being formally educated in a field -- yuuccch. Citing other people's MacArthur awards as if those are not themselves evidence of political liberalism...ick again.

Back on topic, though: It continues to surprise me that even parents who don't object to their children studying non-white American historical figures DO often object to their having to read "multicultural" fiction.

I know I've talked here before about having patrons who ask in an undertone if I can recommend something that isn't, you know, about the Holocaust or civil rights or something. It's very much like gender -- some parents view it as a burden on their child that they should have to read a book in which the protagonist is not "normal" (white, male, straight, middle-class, able-bodied). Any deviation from that is a tick mark, and having to read both Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Diary of Anne Frank in the same school year -- well.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:18 AM
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Citing other people's MacArthur awards as if those are not themselves evidence of political liberalism...ick again.

Wait, what? Are there MacArthur Awards I'm unfamiliar with?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:31 AM
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Ridiculing people for not having college degrees or not being formally educated in a field -- yuuccch.

Also, although this is a nasty habit to fall into, it seems somewhat more reasonable when you're talking about the people who are in charge of textbook selection.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:33 AM
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There are the Douglas MacArthur awards. You get them for returning to the Philippines, pissing-off Harry Truman, or significant accomplishment in the field of fading.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:35 AM
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2: smart and creative people are ipso facto liberal. Duh.

Actually, in this context, the contrasting presumption is a bit less stupid, as the MacArthur person is being contrasted with bone-ignorant conservatives (nothing to do with credentials; if you sincerely believe the Founders' goal was a Christian Nation (but they just forgot to wrote it down), then your critical faculties need work).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:39 AM
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So, not for melting in the dark and leaving cake out in the rain?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:40 AM
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If you melt in the rain you're probably the wicked witch of the West, and therefore liberal by definition. It probably isn't enough to get you a MacArthur award, though.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:42 AM
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Not even if you never have that recipe again?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:44 AM
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I know I've talked here before about having patrons who ask in an undertone if I can recommend something that isn't, you know, about the Holocaust or civil rights or something

Witt must work in a very odd library if patrons are having trouble finding fiction on the shelves that isn't about the Holocaust or civil rights.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:47 AM
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1.1 is seriously messing with my "Witt is usually right" filter.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:52 AM
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if you sincerely believe the Founders' goal was a Christian Nation (but they just forgot to wrote it down), then your critical faculties need work

In fact, they wrote down the exact GD opposite when they approved the Treaty of Tripoli* in 1796, that included the following: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."

*By a 23-0 vote, only the third unanimous vote in the Senate's history at that time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:56 AM
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Ugh. I worked in textbooks for years before I went to grad school. CA may have offset TX (and whoever that loony couple was who combed through reading basals looking for seekrit cocks in the illustrations) in culture-war type stuff, but they were very faddish on educational theory. If your books dared suggest anyone sound out a word in the late 80s/early 90s, you couldn't sell them in CA. Of course, by like 95 the pendulum had swung in the other direction (and CA had been on the receiving end of waves of bad test scores), and our more-phonicsy-than-most books were required for K and 1st grade.

Doesn't Feynman write about how utterly corrupt the CA textbook adoption committees were?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:58 AM
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7: Now I can't get that song to stop playing my head.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:59 AM
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Please come to Texas, y'all. You would feel right at home, we have been frozen for two months now.

Current windchill = 23 and dogs must be walked.

I am still working on how I feel about the multicultural and identity wars, about what is going on and who is trying to achieve hegemony, and what the consequences should be.. Howard Zinn is probably not the only historian a kid should read.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:02 AM
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I second 14.

(Except it's rather nice where I am, I don't have dogs nor walks, and I am clear an my position about multicultural and identity wars.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:06 AM
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14.2: We've got two feet of snow on the ground and more coming starting at noon today. The neighbors with small dogs have had to shovel spots in their lawn for dog elimination. There's an icicle hanging in front of my garage that probably weights more than I do and has resisted my attempts at thwacking it down. The weight of ice (not icicles, just ice pushing from the roof) has bent back gutter about 45% from level. Because of the height, I've decided to assume the gutter will hang on until March.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:08 AM
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The neighbors with small dogs have had to shovel spots in their lawn for dog elimination.

Maybe they can get new dogs when the snow melts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:11 AM
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Nothing like a snowfall that doesn't melt to reveal how much of your neighborhood gets pissed on every day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:12 AM
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I'm surprised by the article's lack of condemnation of the publishing companies. You don't have to publish harmful falsehoods just because someone is willing to pay you to do so. If Google can pull out of China, textbook companies can force Texas to write its own damn textbooks if they insist on including ahistorical, unscientific right-wing nonsense.

At the very least, more liberal states could themselves refuse to purchase books from any publisher that publishes this garbage in Texas. I realize their schools are (generally) of lesser economic importance, but maybe a few states could band together.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:17 AM
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I know I've talked here before about having patrons who ask in an undertone if I can recommend something that isn't, you know, about the Holocaust or civil rights or something.

When I was a kid, my elders' superstitions about the improving effects of right-thinking children's books drove me to the highly impeachable works of Sax Rohmer, Ian Fleming, etc.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:33 AM
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I think it will be nice when textbooks go the way of the filmstrip.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:33 AM
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19: We did this -- but we were family-owned and didn't have to answer to anyone else. The really big companies essentially wrote bespoke textbooks for TX and CA (used to do, at least), because they could afford to. The medium-sized ones had to try to make one set to rule them all. Wee little us just decided "fuck it" and forwent a lot of business -- this was fairly serious in that it, you know, ruined the salaries of salespeople living in CA and TX whose only hope was to sell our books to private/religious schools.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:34 AM
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re: 21

What sort of filmstrip?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:36 AM
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Why, oh why do conservatives make it increasingly difficult for their kids to graduate college? Are they not thinking about this at all? I mean, in the sense of the long game? What is it going to be like to live in a world where conservatives can only manage to graduate from a handful of disreputable evangelical colleges?

When I get students who have had this kind of education in my classes, they soon realize there are going to be two paths open to them. One is to fail every class they take, spectacularly, because their life's main principle is to ignore assignments and just write "Jesus Loves You!" for all the answers. The other is to become really angry at their parents and their schools for having lied to them about everything.

I'm going to guess the latter happens quite a lot. If you're so incredibly culturally isolated that you're not even allowed to see a picture of a woman holding a briefcase, you're going to have some pretty nasty shocks to the system when you try to get an education.

And yeah, Witt, I agree that the article is condescending, but come on. How exactly do you write something like this without gagging on it? Individual people are undertaking the project to ruin their children's lives--and not just their children, but all the children of the state, and possibly further out than that.

My parents are surrounded by these types of people. My folks believe in evolution, and that Reagan did some bad things, but you'd never hear them say that out loud. They're ashamed of knowing things.

Will no one think of the &c.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:39 AM
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22, con't: Well, it was more complicated than that. You have writers and editors working on these things for years before they are going to be shipped to any adoption board. No one really knows what is up until the end -- certainly we were trying to accommodate CA on the multicultural front by following their long and strict list of what was and wasn't allowed to be talked about/shown ("No Asians can be depicted fishing in international waters"), while sort of crossing our fingers on the ed. theory front to see how that would play out.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:39 AM
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23: What sorts of films did they show at your school?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:39 AM
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"No Asians can be depicted fishing in international waters"/i>

Can I ask the reason for that rule? Also, fishing in international waters looks a great deal like fishing in national waters in most cases.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:41 AM
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23: The kind that came with an accompanying audio cassette that went "boop!" every time you had to advance to the next frame. A staple of public education in the 1980s, since replaced by superior technology.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:43 AM
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re: 26

They didn't. Pretty sure it was all videotape, although an ordinary slide projector was definitely used.

I wondered if Spike was talking about movie film, still film, or what?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:43 AM
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Asians fishing in international waters is actually a pretty serious problem, and should not be glossed over in textbooks. I'm thinking of the Thai fishing boats that over-fished the African coast, causing many a Somali fisherman to turn to piracy.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:46 AM
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I agree that the article is condescending

I'm just an America-hating godless commie, but I can't see what other attitude you could possibly take toward these people. If somebody is going to be not just ignorant, but proudly proselytic with their ignorance, well.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:46 AM
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28: That's what you were talking about? I saw those maybe once or twice. We had the regular reel projectors when I started, but by 1982 or so, it was mostly VCR.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:46 AM
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28: That's not a filmstrip, dude. That's a slide projector. Yes, I remember those fondly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:46 AM
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29 is making me feel old. Filmstrips


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:47 AM
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I associate that time period with purple mimeographs. I assume that was mimeograph? With the purple ink?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:48 AM
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Everyone saw Hemo the Magnificent, right?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:48 AM
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27: We had no idea. That was just our favorite. Most of the rest were standard issue: kids on bikes must wear helmets, African Americans/Asian Americans/Hispanic Americans must be x percentage of the children depicted, disabled children must be y percent. Some were trickier, like "no brand names." We were using part of a famous children's book "Julie of the Wolves," where she names a young wolf "Jell-o" because he shakes. This was a no-no, but we couldn't of course get it rid of it. On the TX front we ran into trouble, not from the state, but from an influential private citizens group, for running some secular version of the Joseph and his brothers story. We made it sound like Joseph's powers were MAGIC and not FROM GOD. That was solved by never using bible stories again.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:48 AM
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#26. Twenty years after, my school was still showing the Bell Labs films.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:50 AM
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No, a slide projector has a series of slides on separate pieces of film. Filmstrip is one long piece of film, in a strip.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:50 AM
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34: We had one of those. I think one of the teachers killed it to get a VCR.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:51 AM
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How can you people not know what a filmstrip is? (To be fair, I guess most of the filmstrips I watched were in a Mormon context.)


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:51 AM
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The other is to become really angry at their parents and their schools for having lied to them about everything. I'm going to guess the latter happens quite a lot.

Stories of such people are not rare, but not very common either. Apostasy is a tough racket, perhaps embittering when the secular community moves on to the next, newer escapee.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:52 AM
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Looking back at it, I think what comes off as snide or condescending, really, are the quotations from the people themselves. That is, it's the things they're saying that make them look that crazy and stupid.

I wish there were some way to talk to these people. It sounds like even a lot of conservative Republicans are getting attacked by them. At what point can we as a nation just say, ok, go homeschool your kids and stop fucking with ours?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:53 AM
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re: 41

It's not my fault if the US is a primitive backward country ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:54 AM
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mimeograph? With the purple ink?

Fond memories.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:55 AM
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I can still remember the smell of a fresh mimeograph.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:55 AM
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go homeschool your kids and stop fucking with ours

Yes, please.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:56 AM
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Oh, reading that, yes, I remember filmstrips. Didn't put it together how they worked.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:56 AM
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The kind that came with an accompanying audio cassette that went "boop!" every time you had to advance to the next frame.

Oh yeah! I do remember these!

Everyone's getting confused because they were halfway between slide projector and film strip. It was fed like a film strip, but it ran like a slide projector, not like a movie. You advanced it one click at a time, whenever the narrator prompted you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:57 AM
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49: And then school would end for the day. You'd either ride home on your bike without a helmet or get a ride in dad's car where he'd smoke and neither of you would bother with the seatbelt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:02 AM
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I was recently thinking about all this while sending my CV out to like a billion different jobs. There are some great offerings sitting open at evangelical colleges around the nation. I've taught at very religious places and felt welcome and happy there, but I'm given to understand that evangelical colleges force faculty to sign a statement of faith. That is, students of any faith can go to most evangelical colleges, but the faculty have to be Christians.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:03 AM
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We had this awesome thing called Short Wednesdays, which was discontinued when I was in 8th or 9th grade. I think its original purpose was to save money. In elementary school it was fun, but in middle school it was fun and completely defeatist, because they still had us attend all seven classes. Each one met for 18 minutes or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:04 AM
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They used to give us ten minutes of break every morning and the student council would sell donuts. My senior year they stopped it. I'm not sure if we were getting too chunky or if the hassle just got too much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:11 AM
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Texas State University, for the past five years or so, had no classes on Fridays. This year they reverted to having them on Friday mornings again.

The funny thing is that they changed their name a few years back, from Southwest to Texas State, in order to help get rid of their reputation as a party school. But keep those three day weekends!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:14 AM
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We had 15 minutes every morning and afternoon, and an hour for lunch. I've always assumed that sort of pattern was fairly standard?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:14 AM
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When they stopped doing candy sales, I ended up having to by my candy underground, from some dude's locker.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:15 AM
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55: Never had anything like that. Lunch was usually 35 minutes.

How long were your total school days?

My high school was 7:25 - 2:30.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:15 AM
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56: You guys had underground lockers?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:16 AM
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Those early starts are insane. Why can't US primary schools have a starting time that means you don't have to get up at stupid o'clock?


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:17 AM
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59: CW = staggering the buses + high school kids have afternoon jobs.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:22 AM
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We started at 740am, but a lot of clubs and practices were held before school at 630. There were a lot of days in a row when I left the house before the sun came up, and came home long after the sun went down because of rehearsals.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:24 AM
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59: We started at 8:00, same for all schools in town. And pretty much every office in town also. But I grew-up in a very small town. We'd leave for school at 7:55 and make it on time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:25 AM
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High school was 8.45 to 3.45, iirc. US early starts are completely insane, yeah, bordering on inhumane.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:27 AM
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There were a lot of days in a row when I left the house before the sun came up, and came home long after the sun went down because of rehearsals.

Me too, but that's because I'm not from the far equatorial south like you people.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:27 AM
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The bus picked me up at 5:10 am.

I only rode the bus in 9th grade. I lived in the middle of town. I was the first bus stop, and from there it spiraled out and around town and ended up at our high school on the edge of town. After 9th grade I bummed rides.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:28 AM
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65: That is inhumane. I never took the bus and it was never an option because they would only get people who lived more than 3 miles from the school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:29 AM
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I got dressed the night before and slept in my clothes. In the morning I brushed my teeth and put on shoes and walked out the door.

That wasn't just in 9th grade, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:29 AM
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But breakfast is the most important meal of the day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:31 AM
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2: I think your point is answered by the Wikipedia link.

maybe a few states could band together.

Brock, as the article notes, this is an artifact of the extreme local control of education in the U.S. CA and TX are two of the few (only?) states where these decisions are made at the state level. Everywhere else they're made at the municipal level, which MAY mean counties but more often means townships or school districts. In my state there are 501. I can't imagine getting them all to agree on anything. Herding cats doesn't begin to describe it.

How exactly do you write something like this without gagging on it?

I think that goes to what the purpose of the article is. If it's just to stir up righteous indignation in the choir, then it probably serves its purpose. If it's to convert the mushy middle who might otherwise think "Huh, they have a point," then I think it fails. My original complaint in 1 was that it plays into the culture wars frame, precisely because they're sniping at their opponents.

I think there's a role for Amanda Marcotte-style plain old ridicule (aka pointing and laughing), and I think there's a role for an impersonal, straightforward laying-out of radicalism in a way that allows it to condemn itself. Unfortunately, I think this article manages to be neither.

Witt must work in a very odd library if patrons are having trouble finding fiction on the shelves that isn't about the Holocaust or civil rights.

No, it's that their children need to do assigned reading for school, and the teacher has given them a list of award-winning books. The problem, from their perspective, is that award-winning books are disproportionately about Social Issues.

The kernel of humanity in these cases is that of course it's perfectly true that people like to recognize themselves in fiction. So the parents aren't crazy when they say, in effect, "I wish my son could recognize himself in all these crazy books he keeps having to read." It's just that they aren't grasping that the son could recognize himself in, say, a female protagonist.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:31 AM
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I ate it the night before.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:31 AM
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Bloody luxury!


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:34 AM
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AWB's warnings of negative consequences for the children assume the current conservative projects of establishing a parallel education system and applying pressure against the liberal aspects of the dominant one aren't successful.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:35 AM
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My German teacher encouraged us to sell Gummi Bears (to fund an end-of-term trip), but we failed miserably at that task and wound up throwing them at people and sticking them to walls. By the next year--for the love of God!--hundreds of Gummis had been painted into the walls.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:36 AM
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I'm thinking of the Thai fishing boats that over-fished the African coast, causing many a Somali fisherman to turn to piracy.

The problem there was fishing in Somali national waters, not international waters, surely. Here in Britain the stereotype is Portuguese fisherman stealing our precious cod, though in reality the Brits are just as bad in the Bay of Biscay.

"We were using part of a famous children's book "Julie of the Wolves," where she names a young wolf "Jell-o" because he shakes. "

You could pretend she was British and call the wolf "Jelly". Or just go with "Gelatin Based Dessert".


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:37 AM
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I knew a guy who liked to save time in the morning by eating breakfast the night before. He was a really dedicated student. Great guy and great inspiration for one's scholarly habits.

But I don't think I'd take nutritional advice from him.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:37 AM
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Wow. That is awesomely something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:38 AM
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76 to 73.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:38 AM
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Sorry, but I'm not over the OP yet.

One of the things I worry most about, from a distant view, is that this kind of curriculum shift means that college acceptance and performance is going to have less and less to do, statistically, with high school performance. This is already a problem. In NYS, we have the statewide Regents exams for high schoolers, and they spend their entire HS program preparing, not for college, but for an exam that tests things that seem, from what I've been led to understand, to have basically nothing to do with even the public state-funded college curriculum. So you get all these students who think they're geniuses because they did so well on the Regents and barely score a C, and students who think they're morons who get As in college.

In NYS, I think the problem is less ideology (though that's some of it) than just focusing on tasks that are orthogonal to success in college. But if you add to that just plain old misinformation and indoctrination, and that statistical gap gets wider.

The issue I think a lot of school boards need to be dealing with is how many of their students will be going on to college (and of course HSs need to be preparing students for life even if they're not college-bound), and how their own markers of success match up with college acceptances and graduations, and whether they care. It just really gets under my skin when kids are set up to fail in life because their school convinced them they're doing a great job at something no one will ever want them to do again.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:39 AM
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63: yes.

Only one or two clubs did early meetings. Swimming did, in the winter, no less. That would have sucked.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:40 AM
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applying pressure against the liberal aspects of the dominant one aren't successful.

You're right, I am kind of assuming this. If there's some sort of conservative movement actually happening in the academy outside of a few wackos in poli sci or law schools, I'm not seeing it. In literary studies, you'll occasionally come across a radical Zionist, but not a Christian conservative.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:42 AM
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AWB, a semi-serious suggestion: come to the UK. The UK certainly has its problems but it doesn't fuck over PhD students, and it doesn't have religious nut-bags with a legitimate shot at running the country.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:43 AM
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The bus picked me up at 5:10 am.
Ick. We were picked up at 6:00 am, and thought we were hard-done-by. Friends who lived in the tiny valley two passes over were picked up at the same time you were, though (for the same school).


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:44 AM
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Since graduating from high school I don't think I have even once gotten up at the hour that I had to get up at every weekday from age 11 through age 18. If I have to catch an 8AM flight or something it's easier to stay up all night than to try to get up then. My mother, every day, would get up and drive me to the bus stop wearing a bathrobe, then go to bed for another three hours or so. "Borderline inhumane" is about right.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:44 AM
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this kind of curriculum shift means that college acceptance and performance is going to have less and less to do, statistically, with high school performance.

The way this manifests in Texas is that the gap between the haves and have-nots grows even bigger. The kids with a zillion AP credits will be the same in college as they've been for the past two decades. The kids recieving a more mainstream education - who are now under intense pressure to find some way to college - are even more unprepared than they used to be because now there's this unlearning to get out of the way, first.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:45 AM
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I think your point is answered by the Wikipedia link.

No, it really doesn't. Am I to take it that Maneesh Arawala, computer vision researcher; Theodore Zoli, designer of cable-stayed bridges; and Esther Duflo, who studies development economics are noted examples of leftists? On the 2009 list I see the Ghosts of Mississippi guy and a documentary filmmaker who has done a movie about Iraq, but I also see "Timothy Barrett, papermaker". Can you unpack your objection a little more thoroughly for me? If the list of Nobel Prize-winning* economists skewed right, I might note that, but I'd still take a Nobel-winner's comments about a textbook's unsuitability more seriously than some yammerhead from the Berkeley PTA.

* Yes, yes. Shut up, pedant.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:46 AM
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81: I would love to. Know of any British Lit jobs that could plausibly be offered to an American girl?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:46 AM
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You're right, I am kind of assuming this. If there's some sort of conservative movement actually happening in the academy outside of a few wackos in poli sci or law schools, I'm not seeing it. In literary studies, you'll occasionally come across a radical Zionist, but not a Christian conservative.

Well, there's the dozens and dozens of people from extremist right-wing creationist law schools who were hired to prestigious federal positions by the Bush administration.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:46 AM
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69: Witt, if you don't mind, can you explain what you think the appropriate way to deal with a young earth Christian who devotes much of his life to taking over a state school board so that he can make sure that children around the United States learn to worship Jesus and George Washington, who were best friends in his view, in something like equal measure? And though my tone is flip, given the enormous respect you've won from me over time, I'm actually very interested in your answer. You seem to be saying a "just the facts, ma'am" style is the way to go.

But why? Do you think that style would convince the unconvinced that the secular -- sorry, accurate -- view of events is persuasive? Because my sense is that the article is being written to warn people of reason that they better begin organizing, much as the Christian Coalition has already organized, or the ever-more-fragile parchment barrier between Church and State will soon be gone entirely. The article is a relatively mild cri de coeur, in other words.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:48 AM
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And while I'm here for a minute, to whom are you referring, AWB, when you talk about "radical Zionist[s]?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:51 AM
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86: Errmmm... not my field.

However!

I believe all academic jobs are advertised here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/

(Fancy Professor of American Studies (History / Culture) @ UEA?)

London has a ton of publishing. Oxford and Cambridge both have a very well regarded University press and probably there is a industry around those.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:53 AM
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89 - Avi Luzia. Don't forget to tip your waitress, folks!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:53 AM
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89: You want names? No thanks.

90: Not an Americanist. Could fudge it maybe a little, but really, I'm a British studies person.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:55 AM
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re: 90

The academic job market in the UK isn't really great, tbh. I have friends who used to work at OUP, though, and liked it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:56 AM
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* Yes, yes. Shut up, pedant.

You mean about the name of the prize, or your use of a hyphen rather than an en dash with an open compound? I just want to be sure.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:56 AM
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(And of course, by Zionists I by no means mean "religious Jews.")


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:57 AM
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Balzan Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
Literature as an Object of Knowledge
St John's College, Oxford

http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AAQ110/balzan-postdoctoral-research-fellowships/

Best I could find.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:58 AM
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I wonder if there are any good jobs in Scotland. What I really do well is Scottish studies. Of course, that probably means I should not be in Scotland.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:58 AM
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OK, I've now read the NYT article in addition to the WM. For the record, I think the NYT's snark is so mild as to be basically irrelevant (making sure to mention that Falwell's father was a bootlegger, referring to a place he meets with a conservative activist as "honky-tonk").

85: Sorry, maybe I'm expressing myself poorly. I'm not saying everyone who gets a MacArthur award is politically liberal. I'm saying that the foundation's pattern of decisionmaking in deciding who to give awards to is notably different than, say, the John Templeton Foundation.

And therefore, if I were a reporter for the Washington Monthly and I were trying to burnish the credentials of a person I was quoting in a politically controversial story, I would probably not throw kerosene on the fire by citing their MacArthur award as proof of their qualifications. UNLESS I saw the audience for my story as already members of the choir, in which case, hey, go for it.

I think AWB's 78 and heebie's 84 are really key. I know nothing at all about NYS standards, but the general theme of the disconnect between local/K-12 standards and national/postsecondary standards is a significant and rapidly growing issue.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:59 AM
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96: OMG, that is perfect. I'm applying. In fact, it's very similar to a postdoc I just applied to elsewhere, so the materials are pretty well assembled. Thank you!!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:00 AM
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Most high school graduates know next to nothing about science. I don't get why the creationists get so much heat since they are probably the main reason that the bottom 2/3rds of the class will ever remember the name "Darwin."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:05 AM
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And therefore, if I were a reporter for the Washington Monthly and I were trying to burnish the credentials of a person I was quoting in a politically controversial story, I would probably not throw kerosene on the fire by citing their MacArthur award as proof of their qualifications. UNLESS I saw the audience for my story as already members of the choir, in which case, hey, go for it.

It's Washington Monthly, not Texas Monthly. I assume the point is to indicate what the level of egregiousness is; if I were a local reporter doing the same thing, I'd turn to a member of the history department of Rice or Texas A&M or something. I'm pretty sure that you could go to any school left of Bob Jones and find a historian willing to say that the founding fathers did not, in fact, treat slavery as "a relic of British colonialism that America struggled to cast off from day one".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:06 AM
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re: 97

Don't know, the Scottish job market is slightly different from England, and I don't know what the situation is like there now. However, Edinburgh and Glasgow are both _fantastic_ places to live, so if the chance came up ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:06 AM
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94 - It was more of a general beseechment.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:07 AM
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102: I would love to live there. A few years ago I applied for a research fellowship in Aberdeen; maybe I'll see if that still exists, though, sure, I'd rather be long-term in Edinburgh or Glasgow.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:11 AM
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104: Why would you think Aberdeen has ceased to exist?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:12 AM
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can you explain what you think the appropriate way to deal with a young earth Christian who devotes much of his life to taking over a state school board so that he can make sure that children around the United States learn to worship Jesus and George Washington, who were best friends in his view, in something like equal measure?

It depends on the forum. I actually think this is the key question here -- what are these articles trying to accomplish?

If, as you say, my sense is that the article is being written to warn people of reason that they better begin organizing, much as the Christian Coalition has already organized, or the ever-more-fragile parchment barrier between Church and State will soon be gone entirely.

...then whether they can accomplish that depends on their audience. The NYT article to me seems completely able to accomplish that -- it's written for a liberal, educated, upper-middle-class audience and I think quite effectively manages to communicate the basic message you outline above.

But a) I don't think the WM has the same audience as the NYT; b) I further suspect that their audience is more middle-ground-ish than the NYT's (I don't read it regularly so I can't be sure); and c) I think the WM's article is a lot worse and more reactionary.

My conversations with middle-ground-ish people generally run into one of two roadblocks: Their presumptions about how the world exists are so different that we can't talk about anything that comes after unless we talk about those first, or their mistrust in people like me is so high that it doesn't matter what I say.

So if I imagine writing for those people, I think back to the only conversations in which I ever felt there was mutual comprehension, and those were the ones that were the most low-key and factual. That's why I imagine low-key and factual as being (in some cases) an effective way to frame an article.

I dunno. Maybe you all will tell me now that WM is to the left of Mother Jones or something.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:13 AM
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re: 105

Will all the granite and rain it's bound to slip into the sea some day.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:15 AM
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I further suspect that their audience is more middle-ground-ish than the NYT's (I don't read it regularly so I can't be sure)

No. It's a centrist liberal publication, sort of the left-wing version of The New Republic. (Try the chicken, folks!) Look at the blog to get an idea of their audience. Hilzoy used to blog for them.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:17 AM
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IIRC it's a summer fellowship, and the idea of a long cold rainy summer sounds romantic to me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:18 AM
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Scottish summers can be quite nice. They are short, and early in the year, but if it's a good one, it's nice. Very long days, lots of light, not hot.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:19 AM
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Why would you think Aberdeen has ceased to exist?

Because Allmusic.com says so.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:20 AM
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One very under-discussed issue, too, is the warm bodies problem. Who's willing to run for local school boards? They're a thankless, low- or unpaid job. They consume hundreds of hours of your time.

If you do it well, no one will notice. If you get caught up in a controversy, everyone will remember you as being involved, whether or not you instigated it. And the structure means that even if 85% of the families in your district are happy and comfortable with your philosophy, and 12% aren't comfortable but don't care enough to do more than vote against you every two years, the remaining 3% can still cause a boatload of heartache and trouble.

Most libraries have Request for Reconsideration forms for patrons to complain about books they think shouldn't be in the library. They are almost never used, and when they are used, the board usually backs up the librarian. Nevertheless, every librarian that I know does a sort of internal calculus before placing book orders, especially on explosive subjects that disproportionately get lots of book-banning advocates. How would I defend this one? It got starred by Kirkus Reviews! Publishers Weekly said that any well-stocked library should have it!

Even if these "people of reason" that ari mentions read the NYT article, they're unlikely to react by deciding to run for their local school board. Maybe they'll send a donation to Americans United for Separate of Church and State, or one of the groups mentioned in the article.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:24 AM
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I'm saying that the foundation's pattern of decisionmaking in deciding who to give awards to is notably different than, say, the John Templeton Foundation.

I've started to type three or four different responses to this but none of them quite work. I just don't see what sort of point you're trying to make. The Templeton Foundation has an explicitly religious agenda, so of course it uses vastly different criteria than the MacArthur grants. Why does this invalidate the MacArthur grant as a way of establishing someone's authority for the purpose of this article? (I think some of the MacArthur winners are morons, but it is a prestigious prize.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:25 AM
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I'd like to see you make paper, essear.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:27 AM
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I also don't see the WM article as explicitly ridiculing people. To me it reads as if it just gives them rope and lets them hang themselves.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:28 AM
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Reviewing the list of MacArthur winners, there are a lot more names that I recognize as unambiguous geniuses than as questionable choices. So yeah, I think its reputation is probably well-earned.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:30 AM
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I like to think that at least one of the shadowy MacArthur nominators is a lurker here and that somebody will get a prize for a cock joke of stunning genius.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:35 AM
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117: "somebody will get a prize" s/b "somebody else will get another prize."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:35 AM
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108: OK, thanks for the clarification. Am I remembering wrong that Kevin Drum used to write for it? I think it was three or four years ago that I got linked (probably from here) to a half-dozen different posts of his, and I was so exasperated by the continual throwing-under-the-bus that I just avoided the site completely.

I think some of the MacArthur winners are morons, but it is a prestigious prize.

Right. Prestigious among people who don't perceive the foundation to have a liberal agenda.

This is probably all moot now because I misunderstood the audience that WM is aimed at. They aren't worried about people who would interpret MacArthur as a downside, because they aren't writing to those people.

(On preview: Sure, they've given lots of awards to bona-fide geniuses. But their bona-fide geniuses just happen to be more female, more non-white, etc. etc. than would "naturally" be the case. If your default template for accomplishment is white guy, that looks unarguably liberal, regardless of the quality of the genius's work.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:36 AM
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117: It's for a body of work, MH. They'd have to RTA to confirm the apostopher's worthiness.

(Canonical reference.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:40 AM
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Is the MacArthur super widely held to be famously extra liberal in conservative circles? I didn't have any particular sense that it was specially a red flag to a bull (as it were).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:40 AM
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108 - Yeah, he used to work for them. (Weirdly, he now works for Mother Jones.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:43 AM
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120: I think it is supposed to be for somebody who has no significant body of work but is likely to make great things happen if they get big wad of cash. They must weed-out people who would take the check straight to the liquor store.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:52 AM
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That's the theory, but it rarely works out that way, especially in the arts. Check the ages, for one thing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:08 AM
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124: I can hold-off producing anything of genius until I am well past the age of any of those winners.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:11 AM
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Oh dear. I was just punning in 120. (You know, body of work...?)

This degree of misunderstanding means I should take a break from commenting for a bit. Four smart people who are all confused by my comments today...the common element there is pretty obvious.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:12 AM
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Four smart people who are all confused by my comments today...the common element there is pretty obvious.

Hey, wait I was confused by your comments too.


Oh.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:25 AM
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MacArthur "genius" grants are given to people perceived by the committee as likely to make a massive contribution to the body of knowledge not just in their field but across disciplines. They also prefer to give their awards to people who are relatively young. Ideally nominees should not be more than 40 (if memory serves)


Posted by: once upon a time a MacArthur nominator | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:32 AM
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On WM, I don't know that it's especially liberal as such*, but it's explicitly liberal in a way that the NYT or Brookings aren't - they don't engage in constant fake balance, and a couple of their major writes over the past 10 years were Joshes Marshall and Green (the latter of whom wrote some of the signature debunkings of Bush/9-11 mythology).

But they absolutely are not writing for an audience for whom MacArthur is coded as liberal-left. I think some of your confusion is conflating the genuinely muddled middle - the type who aren't partisan but do view the NYT and college profs as unabashedly liberal - with the dog-whistle right, who have categorized every institution in American life as either Us or Them. People who view MacArthur geniuses as Them aren't reachable on much of anything, frankly.

* frex, almost certainly less liberal than TAP, and they'll publish the occasional "smart" centrist/conservative


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:32 AM
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It would have to be a *really* good cock joke, Moby, but otherwise, sure, why not?


Posted by: once upon a time a MacArthur nominator | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:33 AM
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Across disciplines, huh?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:34 AM
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I could come-up with a bunch of adequate jokes for as little as $15,000.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:34 AM
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eople who view MacArthur geniuses as Them aren't reachable on much of anything, frankly.

This was sort of my point earlier, Witt, when I wrote "people of reason". Young earth creationists who do any thinking at all explicitly reject reason, right? They're squarely and happily in the pre-Enlightenment mode of thought, I'm pretty sure. Which is why I think it's best not to meet them halfway when it comes to much of anything that has to do with reasoned inquiry. For instance, it seems especially silly to have a serious conversation about history with someone who genuinely believes that the world is not more than 10,000 years old.

All of that said, I actually couldn't care less if people want to believe such things. And I don't see it as my role to convince them that they're wrong. It's just that I don't want them telling me how to write textbooks. And I think that if I treat them like serious interlocutors it grants them a level of seriousness that they don't begin to deserve.

Finally, your point about context is right. If I found myself in a position to influence education policy in Texas, I would almost certainly moderate my tone, as I don't thinking hectoring or mockery or outrage are especially persuasive. But I still wouldn't grant the assumption that young earthers are to be taken seriously when it comes to figuring out what stays and goes in the US history curriculum. I think that allows the Ovaltine window to shift in ways that don't make sense for good public policy.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:42 AM
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I've forwarded your comment to the committee, ben. You can expect a call about your award no later than March.


Posted by: once upon a time a MacArthur nominator | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:44 AM
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What a swell birthday present that would be.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:47 AM
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Do you guys and gals have a secret handshake, Fairy Tale Genius Recognizer? Is there an illegal, deadly full-contact tournament of mixed genius-arts competitors that takes place in Thailand every 5 years?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:50 AM
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On WM, I don't know that it's especially liberal as such, but it's explicitly liberal in a way that the NYT or Brookings aren't - they don't engage in constant fake balance

Having read just about every issue of TWM ever published, including 20 years of back issues from before I was a subscriber (really! quiz me!), I consider myself something of an authority on that publication.

It started out as a self-consciously centrist challenger of liberal orthodoxy, then saw the ground shift under its feet so dramatically that it is now near the leftward edge of respectable opinion in the Democratic party. A number of the causes it espoused in the manner of a heterodox critique are now firmly established as Democratic orthodoxy: entrepreneurship is to be encouraged; government agencies are as likely to pursue self-perpetuating agendas as the public good; slavish fealty to interest group demands is likely to drive away as many voters as it attracts, etc.

In other respects, the classic TWM critique of orthodox liberalism (e.g. skepticism of 70s era unionism and the Davis-Bacon Act) has given way to a realization that conservatives won't be satisfied with common sense reforms, but are bent on crushing the social and institutional basis of liberalism.

So TWM is a much more identifiably liberal publication in 2010 than it was in 1990, much less in 1980 or 1970.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:51 AM
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||
So I just found out that a local crank put up a blog post threatening myself, my co-workers and the organization we work for. I emailed the blog's host to get it shut down, per their Terms of Service, but I'm wondering if I should contact the police too. It's a pretty vicious post, and there's a big section where the author threatens me with, essentially, a bombing of my workplace. Anyone besides SEK had experience with dealing with something like this?
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:58 AM
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Honestly, I don't know much about the process. Several years ago, at a time that some of my own work had just received a lot of attention, I got asked to nominate two people, from any field, for an award. I assumed, at first, that the request was bogus. I then did a bit of checking and it turned out to be credible. So I forwarded the nominations -- one of the people I nominated was just shy of forty at the time, the other was a bit older than that, and both really deserved to win -- and got a nice thank you. And then nothing. No invitation to secret lairs. No decoder rings. Nothing. And neither of the people I nominated won. And I haven't heard anything from the MacArthur people since then. So maybe they thought John Emerson's work didn't merit serious consideration.


Posted by: once upon a time a MacArthur nominator | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:58 AM
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136: if you have to ask, you're not a genius.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:59 AM
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My theory: one of the other nominees from that year found out about h/h nomination. This person then began contacting eminent persons, especially those recently in the public eye, in the same field. S/h pretended to be from the MacArthur organization and solicited nominees—two, just to be safe. If any of the nominees thus elicited worked in the same general area—murder. It's easier to win if there are fewer competitors. That's why ouataMn never heard anything more. It was never a real request at all.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:02 PM
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137 makes a lot of sense - I didn't know the particular history, but it was clear to me that TWM had a certain centrist sensibility at its root (in contrast to TAP), even though its actual product in the '00s (first time I was ever aware of it) was pretty consistently liberal.

In that sense, Drum was its perfect blogger, although Drum seems to keep his understanding that the GOP is a nihilistic enterprise run by and for the wealthy in a separate compartment from his desire for supposedly centrist solutions.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:18 PM
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138: I've never had to deal with that sort of an issue. As a general matter, I believe that as far as the police are concerned, the specificity of the threat matters greatly. "They deserve to be bombed" is not actionable. "John Doe should bomb them on March 2" is. Or something.

Let me just express my sympathy. I have no good advice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:21 PM
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138: That's awful, Minne. Whatever you decide to do, I hope everything works out. Stay safe.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:24 PM
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138: I know it's not your first choice, but a call to the cops is in order. If nothing else it creates a paper trail that might be helpful if further legal action is required.

I'm not a lawyer, but I do know that a paper trail can make the difference in getting things done about situations of this sort.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:25 PM
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Ideally nominees should not be more than 40 (if memory serves)

Another dream shattered.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:39 PM
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145: See, as much as I hate to do it, that is also my thinking. Other people here feel we should ignore it though. I dunno. Even if the chance of some wingnut showing up and starting shit is infinitesimal, I still don't want to be the one holding the bag.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:40 PM
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147: You could ask the higher-ups if they'd be willing to open all big pieces of mail for the duration.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:41 PM
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143: See, it's kinda in between.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:41 PM
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Think of calling the cops as community outreach. Your organization and your city's finest are, I presume, occasionally at loggerheads. But by calling them now, when you're the object of a threat, you show that you really do regard them as keepers of the peace, and appreciate the role they (properly!) play.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:47 PM
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145 is right. 149 is all the more reason to contact the cops in a noncommittal manner: "I/We hate to bother you with this, but we don't know how serious this is. Do you think it's serious?" But make sure the exchange is documented.

Thing is, it's unlikely that the nutjob will actually bomb you, but he could engage in lower-level harassment, and getting this threat on the record will go a long, long way in establishing that the lower-level harassment is something that must be dealt with. You don't want the first official record of interaction to be something with ambiguous guilt (like a scuffle at your workplace or something).

IANAL, nor am I an anarchist, etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:47 PM
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150 is excellent, but only if you remember not to say "fuck off, pig" at any point during the conversation. Even if it seems germane.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:48 PM
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Is the reluctance to talk to the police a matter of pure principle, or are you worried that involving them might lead to practical problems? Right now calling the police seems like a good cover-your-ass option.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:49 PM
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"When the revolution comes, it might be helpful to have one of us on your side."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:53 PM
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Huh, there are two (2) blogs out there called "anarchist lawyer."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 12:55 PM
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I was going to write somethiing on WM, but KR beat me to it. So just on Kevin Drum - he has that moderate tone and is on the moderate end of self-consciously liberal bloggers, but by the standards of the US political spectrum he is comfortably on the left wing of Democratic Party. I'd also confidently say that he's well within the leftmost quintile of the US population. Apparently he used to be more centrist, but between the decades long rightwards shift of the US, and the leftward shift over the past half dozen years of many formerly 'sensible' middle of the road Dem activist partisans, courtesy of Bush and the full on wackout of the Republicans, plus the growing evidence of the failure of neo-liberal policies, he's not a centrist in any rational application of the term to the US. Paul Krugman is the most prominent media example of this. In continental Western Europe Drum would still fit in comfortably on the right wing of the mainstream left parties.

Semi OT to KR and any other German reading types, reminded by the idea of reading every issue - I once went through all of them from issue #1 to the mid seventies, wtf has happened to Der Spiegel? It's gone from rather left wing to full on neo-con neo-lib over the past decade. Yeah, I know that Augstein died and all that, but that only explains why the editors were able to do it, not why they did so.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:00 PM
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156: That shit didn't sell magazines.

I date the begin of the decline and fall of Der Spiegel pretty precisely to the launch of Focus, with right-wing-overclass-populist sensibility and short-attention-span editorial style.

In its defense, I still get a kind of shock every time I read one of the feisty-bordering-on-hostile interviews of a prominent politician. If U.S. journalists had half the testicular fortitude of Spiegel interviewers, we would have been spared at least two wars and a banking crisis, I'm pretty sure.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:06 PM
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Further to 157: y'all will forgive the long-run-on-hyphenated-adjectival clauses. In German they would all be compound words.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:08 PM
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why they did so

Truth will out.


Posted by: rand paul | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:09 PM
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157: We understand. What else are German-speakers to do given all of the conjunctions that were lost while Bismark created a pan-German state?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:12 PM
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160 to 158, not 157.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:13 PM
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If U.S. journalists had half the testicular fortitude of Spiegel interviewers we would have been spared at least two wars and a banking crisis, I'm pretty sure.

Not with its current politics - Iran is evil, evil, a dire threat to the future of humanity, Something Must Be Done, rah, rah cut the welfare state, folks talking about class disparities are evil commies, rah, rah, let's do what we can to kneecap the leftwing of the SPD, anyone who allies with Die Linke is a closet Stalinist. Not a huge fan of Die Linke myself - I'm Polish and parties chock full of ex Party apparatchiks rub me the wrong way - but the idea that going into formal coalition with Koch (most repulsive corrupt and far right pandering mainstream right pol in Germany) is a Good Thing while working out a toleration agreement with Die Linke is utterly evil is just fucked up.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:16 PM
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Testicular fortitude, not politics. Of course god only knows what politics a testicularly fortified US journalist would have.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:22 PM
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Okay, well, talking it over more with people here, I did send an email to our main police contact. So at the very least I have that documentation. WRT calling the cops, it is a matter of pure principle for me (and for lots of other people here), but unfortunately I have had to compromise about that, because there's just no way I can do my job (since I am one of the higher-ups) without occasionally interacting with them. And, also, there have been a couple of problems in the past, because of our organization's political outlook, and it is felt that keeping our friends close and our enemies closer is a good policy.

Also, to 155, I know at least 3 or 4 lawyers who explicitly identify as anarchists, plus a dozen more who are anarchist in all but name. Funny how the punk rockers, lesbians and hippies from high school all wound up lawyers, professors and administrators.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:27 PM
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Just how widespread are these Texas textbooks? I read a lot of things that say "Texas and California have the power to shape the textbook market for the entire US", but what does this mean concretely? A quarter of schools in other parts of the US are using Texas-corrupted textbooks? One in ten are? Almost all? Some data would be nice.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:27 PM
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165: I don't have data. I just have the word of my editor, who says that at the high school level at least, Texas makes the national market. CA not nearly as much, regrettably as the CA high school history standards are incredibly specific*, and thus publishers create books just for this market, which is even bigger than TX's.

* And also deeply fucked up.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:32 PM
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Also, finding the data, which I and a few other people have tried to do in the past, is VERY hard, as there are a million different high school history texts, and no publisher is willing to admit that they've forced their team of authors to write a book just to satisfy the idiots* in Texas.

* No, not you, M/tch. I think of you as hailing from China.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:34 PM
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Whoa, wait a sec - M/tch has lived in Texas?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:45 PM
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anyone who allies with Die Linke is a closet Stalinist

They at least deserve credit for for consistency. No mainstream publication has been as relentlessly critical of the CDU/CSU for making flirty eyes with far-right groups. Just last week Der Spiegel lambasted the Union for pandering to the Vertriebenen organizations -- as they have consistently done for 50 years.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:52 PM
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Another deeply weird thing about this, which is really apparent in the NYTimes article, is that these people seem to take it as axiomatic that whatever the founding fathers intended is precisely what we should currently be doing. It would be one thing if they made this sort of argument as a way to achieve their ends, but I get the impression that for them it's not an argument that's made cynically, it's something they take as so fundamental that it never even occurs to them to question it. They do a lot of work to try to argue that the founders had the point of view they want them to have, but they never seem to pause to ask why that is relevant.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 1:53 PM
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||

Good news: ex-Auditor General Barbara Hafer will run for Murtha's seat. Unless I'm very mistaken, she's exactly the kind of Dem* who can win that district. I haven't heard about anyone on the GOP side, but I don't know that they have a heavy hitter available for the seat. I think Hafer likely wins against a generic R.

Also, pretty sure she'd be more reliably liberal than Murtha, although that's secondary in the House.

* established, machine-friendly but neither corrupt nor associated with Big City politics, "common sense" type

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:19 PM
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171: Hmm, I take back the "reliably liberal" part - she was a Republican 10 years ago. I think I had partly conflated her with Cathy Baker Knoll (actually a rival).

Still, should keep the seat blue.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:22 PM
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whatever the founding fathers intended is precisely what we should currently be doing

No female suffrage! Blacks are 3/5 of a person!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:25 PM
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these people seem to take it as axiomatic that whatever the founding fathers intended is precisely what we should currently be doing

If by "these people" you mean something like a majority of Americans, I think you're onto something.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:29 PM
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as they have consistently done for 50 years.

Fifty years yes, sixty not so much. Theodor Oberlander, the only major Nazi war criminal to be a minister in the Bundesrepublik got a fawning cover story soon after he was appointed to the BMVt. They did mention the irony of a former outspoken advocate for ethnic cleansing becoming responsible for expellee affairs, but for the most part concentrated on what a talented person he is and how he'll be just the right person for the job. Admittedly, he was a talented administrator, but he was also a lifelong dedicated Nazi, from his participation in the Beer Hall putsch onwards. He had also supervised some of the worst massacres that accompanied the start of Barbarossa. Furthermore, in the pre-56 period the only critical stuff on the expellee Verbaende came from Augstein himself, and even that only in his pseudonymous TV critic Jens Daniel persona.
In general the German establishment was virtually unanimous in supporting the expellee positions in the early Bundesrepublik, though starting in the mid fifties much of it privately thought they were insane. (not just lefties or centrists - I found a letter from Springer to a top government official suggesting he find a way to get the expellee leaders to shut up.) But publicly, even as the media began to be critical, politicians continued their staunch support, so e.g. Brandt attended the annual Pfingsten meetings, reassuring the Landsmannschaften that he also subscribed to the slogan 'Verzicht ist Verrat' (acceptance of the 1945 borders is treason), a slogan which, somewhat to my shock FAZ recently used as a headline in an editorial supporting expellee chief honcho Erika Steinbach, disingenuously ascribing it to Brandt. Plus the expellee orgs were much less radical in relative terms in their early days; they really did represent a cross section of a major segment of society and successfully pushed for aid and compensation for the impoverished homeless refugees. Seeing them as part of the German hard right from the very start is a bit simplistic.

Um, ok that's probably more than anyone wants on the expellees, though I'll happily add to it.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:30 PM
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"If U.S. journalists had half the testicular fortitude of Spiegel interviewers, we would have been spared at least two wars and a banking crisis, I'm pretty sure. "

Nah. British journalists are just as feisty/hostile as German ones and the UK had arguably an even worse banking crisis than the US and joined all America's recent wars.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:44 PM
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Hafer was a member of the species of "moderate Republican", which was once numerous in the Northeast but is now extinct.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:48 PM
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But publicly, even as the media began to be critical, politicians continued their staunch support, so e.g. Brandt attended the annual Pfingsten meetings, reassuring the Landsmannschaften that he also subscribed to the slogan 'Verzicht ist Verrat' (acceptance of the 1945 borders is treason)

I wasn't aware of that chapter in Brandt's history. Interesting.

It's worth noting, however, that by the end of the 1960s, the clear majority view within the SPD at was for recognizing Germany's post 1945 borders. The SPD adopted the words "Die Westgrenze Polens ist endg├╝ltig" ("The western border of Poland is definitive") in the party platform of 1969, and it has remained so ever since.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:50 PM
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If by "these people" you mean something like a majority of Americans, I think you're onto something.

You do realise that you're asserting here that most of your compatriots are barking mad?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:55 PM
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179: Is that not a basic assumption about America for most of the world?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 2:56 PM
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180. We try to sublimate it so we can sleep at nights.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:00 PM
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You should try living in the middle of it some time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:05 PM
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re: 181

Or keep our blood alcohol levels nicely ticking over ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:09 PM
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re: 182

I find just exposure to the Daily Mail, and Blairites enough to keep my nervous system on the edge of total melt-down. I couldn't imagine living with it ...

Friends who've gone on the US job market sometimes suggest I do the same, but I'm not kidding when I tell them that I literally couldn't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:11 PM
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We're a simple people. We dance. We sing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:13 PM
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The funny thing is how many Merkins would view a job transfer to the UK with unrelenting horror. Socialists! In office! The NHS leaving granny out to die! ZOMG! WHY CAN'T I HAVE A GUN?!?!? HOW WILL I PROTECT MYSELF FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE FEMINAZIS?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:16 PM
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Eh, there's no shortage of crazy in the US, but I've found it's easy to ignore if you don't actively seek it out.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:18 PM
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All of Hawaiian Punch's toys have electronic voices of this same lady who over-inflects like she's a high school drama lead reading NPR to a small child.

We dance. We sing.

This is one of her songs. It goes "We dance! We sing! ..when we play the drums. We dance! We sing! Let's have some fun! We clap our hands! (clap-clap-clap) We stomp our feet! (stomp-stomp-stomp) We sing outloud (LALALALALAAAA) to the beat!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:19 PM
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I've found it's easy to ignore if you don't actively seek it out.

Dude, you live out in the middle of the desert.
.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:23 PM
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Not no more, I don't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:24 PM
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And FWIW, I encounter a lot less crazy now than I did then.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:25 PM
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||

A friend informs me that D-and-up bra concern Jenette Bras claims as tag line, "To those whom much has been given, much is expected."

|>


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:26 PM
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(That's me, with the boob news above.)


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:27 PM
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"To those whom much has been given, much is expected."

Should be "from [or of] those [opt. to] whom much has been given, much is expected". Honestly.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:30 PM
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You do realise that you're asserting here that most of your compatriots are barking mad?

Yes, the cult of the Founders (and, by extension, of our massively overrated Constitution) is very special.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:36 PM
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Intra-thread topic convergence: the CDU and D-cups.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:42 PM
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195: Not a trolling question: this was already in place in Lincoln's time (eg, the speech in which he tallies up every slavery-related congressional vote featuring Founders). Have things gotten worse? Americans seemed less paralyzed by Founder-worship then (as measured by innovations in gov't), yet I feel as if it was an even bigger part of civic life.

What's the deal?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:45 PM
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Yeah, is there a good book to read on the origins and history of American Founder-worship?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:53 PM
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What do you mean by massively overrated? I've always thought of the constitution and the Founders as pretty impressive in terms of what they achieved in the context of their time. Then again I've taken all of one American history course over high school, college, and grad school, so what do I know? And it doesn't excuse the WWtFD crap, nor the bullshit originalist stuff which in rhetorical argumentation can occasionally resemble the former obsession among the Marxist left to try and frame everything in terms of Marx's writings. Very bright guy, but he could be wrong and the world has changed just a bit since his time.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 3:56 PM
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178 I rather admire Brandt myself, but that is in part because, rather than in spite of the fact that he was an enormously talented politician quite happy to cynically pander, lie, and ruthlessly deal with intraparty rivals. All in the aim of first expanding the SPD's electorate beyond its working class and committed Socialist non working class base by dragging it to the right in order to then be able to drag Germany sharply to the left. Think a version of Tony Blair who actually wanted to and did implement a major ideological shift once he got power.

Openly endorsing the recognition of the postwar borders meant losing a sizable chunk of otherwise left leaning expellee voters. That only made sense once there were enough strong supporters among centrists in the electorate to make that politically viable. As it was, by the end of the sixties the CDU was forced into the unappealing choice of either alienating a key part of their base or a great many swing voters. They chose the latter option, but not without internal debate. I once read an exchange of letters between a young Helmut Kohl and Richard von Weizsaecker with Kohl arguing for openly facing up to reality and Weizsaecker smacking him down for being politically naive.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 4:09 PM
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An improvement on the banned analogy would be Brandt as Blair in his road to the top and Thatcher once he got there.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 4:13 PM
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If you want to think about existential threats -- real existential threats (if true) -- look no further than the Burr conspiracy. Did John Marshall wet the bed and then hide under it, letting Jefferson do whatever he wanted as CinC to keep America safe? No, he did his fucking job.

It looks like Rahm is getting ready to throw Holder under the bus, because the latter's quaint faith in the rule of law doesn't fit Rahm's vision of a nation of pathetic losers.

I'll take the Founders, thank you.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 5:17 PM
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I personally don't think there's anything wrong with our Constitution that isn't even more wrong with our current culture. We're still growing into the 14th Amendment, as a society, but we're a long way yet from full realization of the text.

(eg, I think Loving v. Virginia correctly decided, and that this means that no state may discriminate against same sex couples who seek a marriage license. We'll get there eventually . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 5:31 PM
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Amazingly there are no google hits at all for "wet the bed and then hide under it". What an evocative image and so suggestive of self-defeating equivocation.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 6:01 PM
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I have always assumed that founder worship is driven by the bibliolatrous mindset of much of American protestantism. Once you're running your whole life according to careful readings of authorial intent* in one document it becomes natural to apply the same approach to other important documents.

* And don't give me this J, E, D, P nonsense! - you know damn well who wrote it!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 6:11 PM
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you know damn well who wrote it!

Jesus?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 6:18 PM
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Francis Bacon?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 6:33 PM
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It was written ever thus. It is written. Thus it is written. Inscribed. In the beginning. The word. It's like you people haven't read the word or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 6:49 PM
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I'm not sure any of the flaws in law generally or the Constitution specifically would be cured by going to an unwritten rules model. And once you have written law, then you have to try to figure out what the words mean.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 6:57 PM
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I don't like founder-worship or most variants of constitutional originalism, but some degree of heightened attention to the 18th century drafters of the US Constitution (the founders) is simply the necessary result of living under the worlds oldest continually operating written constitution (bite me, San Marino).

For example, what 18th century people thought about guns in the home is certainly relevant to the question of the scope of the 2nd amendment -- not decisive IMO (or, more importantly IMO, not genuinely ascertainable in a modern context) but highly relevant. Much of American political and legal discourse is about modern applications of an 18th century document written by a particular group of men, which at some level has to mean talking about their values. I don't think that can or will change.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:05 PM
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(There was a discussion at a DC Circuit argument today about who had the burden of proof in a habeas action in 1789. I don't know how you avoid that kind of thing).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:16 PM
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And once you have written law, then you have to try to figure out what the words mean.

I doubt anyone here would suggest going to an unwritten rules model. A first step toward figuring out what the words mean is to consult supporting documents and words. The Federalist Papers, say. Constitutional convention.

Of course. Founder-worship tends to elide these things, that's all, and that's a significant problem.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:16 PM
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I haven't seen much Luther Martin worship, by the way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:17 PM
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He's in there with the rest.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:20 PM
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213 is awesome.

Reading the Hemmingses of Monticello recently, I grasped for fully for the first time that a huge portion of the founding fathers not only had sex slaves and regularly used them, but were surrounded by illegitimate brothers and sisters who reminded them that their fathers had also used sex slaves. A pretty incomprehensible world. And yet, the bill of rights is pretty awesome.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:27 PM
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Luther Vandross worship, on the other hand...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:30 PM
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the bill of rights is pretty awesome

If it's such a great constitution, why did it need to include parchment barriers to tyranny? (I kid.) Also, did you like The Hemingses of Monticello?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:31 PM
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ari, are you Canadian enough to answer my question? La famille du CA has for the past several years rented a house on the beach in MA for a week in the summer. This summer, it turns out, is not available when we'd like it, and so the Canuckistani contingent is making a likely-to-be-successful push for Huron Co., Ont. This seems . . . less than ideal! Is this essentially a land of tourist camps? (The house in MA was gigantic enough for us to avoid one another when we wanted to. Also it was on the beach. The houses in these new places seem like very recent seasonal tourist cottages.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:43 PM
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217 -- to be honest, I thought it was a bit repetitive and that some better editing would have improved the narrative flow.

But, with that said, I thought The Hemmingses of Monticello was one of the more amazing, revelatory books I've read in a long time. The notion that the entire founding generation from the slave states not only regularly enjoyed a degree of sexual slavery that would have put Turkish Sultans to shame, but lived in bizarre family structures with their half-brothers and sisters, hit me like a ton of bricks -- one of those facts that seemed completely obvious once I thought about it, but that I hadn't thought about in quite that way previously. Of course, that reveals my own ignorance and lack of reflection about the nature of American slavery, but I don't think I'm alone, and the book was remarkably effective at changing my ways of thinking about the past. I recommend it enthusiastically.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:44 PM
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Pretend that last comment was in English or something. I need to stop writing long comments from the IPhone.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:48 PM
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It totally depends on the house, oudemia. It's incredibly beautiful up there. The water is crystal clear. And the weather, when it's good, is really good. But it's not the Cape. Or even, in my opinion, Michigan's UP, which at least has a full-on working-class charm that I enjoy. And some of your concerns, if you get the wrong house, are very well founded. Do you know which town it is?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:49 PM
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I agree with everything you wrote in 219, Robert. It's a tragedy that A G-R didn't have an editor powerful enough, or perhaps willing, to help her write the book. Because the writing is ass. But the research, and the central argument, are really very powerful. Powerful enough, in my opinion, that they overcome the writing.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:51 PM
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Oudemia you should just figure out another way to visit MA, at the same time as Ari, who (as of now, and by fiat) is also visiting MA this summer, and then y'all can come hang out with us, and we'll do some stereotyped New England-y thing or other.

Good! It's settled.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 7:59 PM
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||
Breaking News! Hemlines are coming back down for fall! Thank God!
|>


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:00 PM
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223: We'll be in Plymouth/Boston some time around the 4th of July. I'll let you know when I have a better sense of exactly when we're going to get there.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:03 PM
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I took a wonderful class years ago on the problems with sacred texts whenever they come up. I wish I could remember more about it, but I dropped it halfway through because it turned out it was going to involve doing work.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:03 PM
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Please ignore 225. Everything's changed because of 224.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:04 PM
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Goddamn I loves me some sacred texts.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:05 PM
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I'll still wear my miniskirt for you, ari.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:05 PM
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To put the sentiment expressed in 219 more clearly it kinda changes how you think about, say, Justice John Marshall when you know that "I'm going to spend tonight fucking a few 15 year old girls who I own, and then spend some time talking to my older half-brother, who raised me but who I now also own" wouldn't have seemed like that weird of an idea.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:09 PM
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230 is the kind of thing I can't write in a book review but wish I could. Silly conventions of academic rhetoric!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:11 PM
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230 is great and also makes me feel I really ought to read the book.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:12 PM
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221: The one town I saw mentioned so far is Amberley, whose wikipedia entry didn't exactly make my heart sing.

223/25: Wah! Because we are always in Scituate, but not this time! (Probably.) Maybe we will come anyway!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:12 PM
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231/232: DITTO


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:13 PM
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230.---Damn, that society is hard to imagine. I have a difficult enough time getting my head around what living with servants would have been like (or would be like, for those weird rich people running around today). I can barely delegate chopping duties in the kitchen.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:32 PM
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Here's another thing: sexual slavery, in various forms, is the norm in recorded human history, at least in any society that acquires any wealth. Ancient Greece, imperial China, all these times and places which created the foundations of human culture, were steeped in sexual exploitation and for the most part, took it for granted.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:44 PM
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Commerce isn't intercourse because Marshall had sex with slaves, it is because that's what the point of the thing was.

I don't know, I guess I don't really have enough experience with founder worship to know what people are so disturbed about. Crafting a written constitution that could win ratification North and South, in New York and Connecticut, was quite an acheivement. I don't have any faith that our current politics would produce a better one (you know, taking into account to amendments that we've been mature enough as a society to adopt from time to time).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:55 PM
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I had a colleague who liked to argue, in the mid 90s anyway, that the Civil War had been a big mistake: the North should have let the South leave. I think every bit as little of southern culture and politics as he did, but wouldn't trade the 14th Amendment for it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 8:58 PM
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taking into account to amendments that we've been mature enough as a society to adopt from time to time

One of the problems people have with Founder-worship, I believe, is that it inhibits consideration of further amendments which would make our system of government function more effectively in its current circumstances.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:02 PM
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I can't say that I've heard of one stopped by Founder worship. The more common barrier, ime, is that the people who would propose such changes ignore history, and the actual basis for the thing to be replaced. I don't think we have to have a Senate because Roger Sherman was a demi-god, but because you couldn't have gotten the deal then without allowing the smaller polities to have some meaningful say in the government, and you couldn't get the deal made today without such an arrangement.

Lots of people wish that they lived in a country with the centralized traditions of France. This isn't that country.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:09 PM
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Do NOT make the Federal Constitution easier to amend k thx.


Posted by: Opinionated Everyone in California | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:11 PM
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I don't know, I guess I don't really have enough experience with founder worship to know what people are so disturbed about.

Did you read the NYTimes article? These are people who think that quoting some line John Adams once wrote in a letter gives them an argument that the Constitution intends Christianity to be taught in public schools. I realize this is part of a broader syndrome of nuttiness, but the fact that they think that divining the intent of the founders will convince other people that they're right indicates that there's something very weird about the role the founders play in their understanding of our current society.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:12 PM
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Lots of people wish they lived in a country with a long tradition of being run by white Christian men for their own benefit, and an ancillary tradition of romanticizing its history to turn the white Christian men who started it into unimpeachable heroes imbued with whatever qualities the white Christian men in power at the moment find most admirable, whether those be respect for the rights and privileges of all (white Christian) men or Biblical literalism and loyalty to a self-conscious white Christian identity. They do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:15 PM
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Founder worship is akin to biblical literalism; you do not amend the Bible, for that is God's word. Rather, you do your best to discern what the original intent of the Bible was, or risk hell. In the same way, those in the article appear to believe that if we do not strictly adhere to the ideas of the founders,* then our country will run off track.

That's pretty different than admiring the legal mind of Madison or acknowledging that flawed men of the 18th century did in fact put together a remarkable document.

*The side note here is that as with biblical literalism, there is a lot of reality-denying going on; they seem to believe that the founders, by establishing the United States, created a covenant with God. They seem to believe that modifying the constitution (or thinking of it as a "living document") breaks that covenant, and puts our status as greatest nation on earth in peril.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:23 PM
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In an alternative historical timeline in which the North allowed the South to secede, how long do you think it would have taken 'em to get to the bloody land war? The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were big on bloody land wars even in the absence of Weighty Constitutional Issues.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:25 PM
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what the original intent of the Bible God was,

And, as well, of course there is a great deal of picking and choosing going on, according to their preconceived notions.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:25 PM
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For example, what 18th century people thought about guns in the home is certainly relevant to the question of the scope of the 2nd amendment

Why? The 2nd amendment doesn't mention guns, it talks about arms. I can see a plausible reading that allows for unrestricted private ownership of arms, but given that nobody, or at least nobody outside some very fringe cranks, is arguing for that, the whole 2nd amendment rights crowd seems to have no constitutional leg to stand on. Any textual based argument that says there is a constitutional right to own guns must also say there's a constitutional right to own SAMs and suitcase nukes, or say that the 2nd amendment only protects the right to won muskets and sabers and the like. Once you accept restrictions on any sort of arms, the rest is just a question of what the government's policies should be with no constitutional implications. But obviously IANAL and law school evidently makes it clear why what I just wrote is absurd.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:33 PM
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Any textual based argument that says there is a constitutional right to own guns must also say there's a constitutional right to own SAMs and suitcase nukes

Fuckin' A but I do like the way you're thinking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:34 PM
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Why? The 2nd amendment doesn't mention guns, it talks about arms. I can see a plausible reading that allows for unrestricted private ownership of arms,

I got, like, thirty arms!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:34 PM
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You know what happens in countries with no right to arms in the home? A lot of doorknobs with bite marks, that's what.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:37 PM
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Once you accept restrictions on any sort of arms, the rest is just a question of what the government's policies should be with no constitutional implications.

But then the people in Philly would pass laws that would make it really difficult for Southwestern PA to be sufficiently armed against West Virginia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:41 PM
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People who think utterances of the founders justify their wacky and continuing efforts to use the power of the state to impose their theology on others are morons. They're not worshiping the founders or any remotely realistic version of them. They've made up their own gods, and given them familiar names.

Except for Jay.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:46 PM
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They're not worshiping the founders or any remotely realistic version of them. They've made up their own gods, and given them familiar names.

Well, yeah.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:48 PM
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244 -- Doesn't the Bible's lack of article V kind of kill the analogy?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:50 PM
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253: as terrifyingly predicted in the movie Zardoz.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:51 PM
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254: You'd think. But see your 252.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:52 PM
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255: Sean Connery in a big red diaper is very disturbing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:56 PM
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257: and yet far from the weirdest thing in that movie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 9:58 PM
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257: but probably less disturbing than Sean Connery in a small red diaper would be.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:01 PM
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259: have you seen the movie? Frankly, it could be bigger. Although it's frankly soothing compared to all the scenes with dudes in crocheted half-shirts doing angry jazz hands.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:03 PM
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258: Yes, but I got bored and lost track of much of the plot. By the end, I was just scanning for topless Charlotte Rampling scenes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:03 PM
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That's also the approach I took, with much less success, when I watched "Weekend At Bernie's."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:05 PM
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I spent a while at the Met museum today looking at household gods and funerary statuettes from various cultures. My companion wondered what sort of household god she could have and how she could make it interactive. I think I'm starting to get an idea for a product line! We're most familiar with 3-dimensional images of the Founding Fathers in the form of busts, so that's probably the best way to go. Then I'd want to build in some sensors so that the bust could respond somehow to offerings: incense, maybe, or the smoke of a burned piece of legislation. And would it be too cheesy to build in a talk-box, perhaps with several ideological options? One George Washington model would quote from his letters; another would remind you that he saves children but not the British children.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:05 PM
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260: I haven't. But the Wikipedia page is enlightening.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:06 PM
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262: a far, far wose movie than Zardoz. I threw Goobers at the screen, but it didn't help.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:06 PM
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Wose, O wose! Wazzis stupid movie wose?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:07 PM
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JM, always ready to lead America from figurative to literal idolatry.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:07 PM
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265: If you half chew a Twizzler, it will stick to the screen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:09 PM
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One of the kids I tutor lives near Battery Park, which means that once a week, I walk past the THRONGS of people taking pictures of themselves caressing the bronze bull on Bowling Green.* I don't think my modest cottage-industry proposal would be the vanguard of American idolatry.


*I mean, damn, haven't any of these people read Exodus? This doesn't end well, people! Also, the horns and the testicles are the shiniest bits, from the handling.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:11 PM
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Fair enough. JM is a follower, not a leader, in the field of idolatry.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:12 PM
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Also, the horns and the testicles are the shiniest bits, from the handling.

Foolishly, the sculptor didn't allow for fisting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:19 PM
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I'm thinking that Alexander Hamilton would look nice in a yellow ceramic glaze. Jefferson would need a matte cinnabar glaze (warning: do not lick), Monroe in that lovely turquoise faience.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:24 PM
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I could also manufacture small full-length figurines that could be placed between dead politicians' hands. Or on their heads, as the case may be: John Adams Victorious Over Death-Maul Cheney! On second thought, that should be represented in twelve-foot marble.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:27 PM
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Hopefully the MacArthur grant nominator is reading 273.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:28 PM
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I'm seeing a St. George and the Dragon sort of thing. We could put it in a grim mausoleum in the National Mall, beneath Lincoln's gaze.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:33 PM
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269: The Wikipedia entry on that bull is fascinating. The sculptor spent $360,000 to make it and leave it on Broad Street as a piece of guerrilla art? Holy crap. And the shiny testicles?

A 2007 newspaper account agreed that a "peculiar ritual" of handling the "shining orbs" of the statue's scrotum seems to have developed into a tradition. One visitor, from Mississippi, told the Tribeca Trib she did it "for good luck", and because "there's a kind of primal response when you see something like that. You just have to engage it."
All is lost. The end is nigh.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:35 PM
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The comment above that Marshall had sex with slave girls reminded me of Lincoln's response to complaints that Grant drank.

OK, he couldn't own them, they'd have to be at least 18, and we'd want to be able to any ethnicity or socioeconomic background, but maybe it's time to get a couple of girlfriends for John Roberts. A Craigslist ad, maybe?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 10:49 PM
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I think Charley's problem here is that he actually knows a lot about the Founders, which is a severe handicap in trying to understand the Founder-worshiping mindset.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:03 PM
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My problem, teo, is that I refuse to surrender them to the extremists. 'Night.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:07 PM
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278: When I first read the NYT article, I was completely confounded by the sentiments expressed by the worshipers. It took a few days of thinking and a discussion with a friend before I could even sort of climb into their head space. Historical knowledge - definitely a handicap.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-15-10 11:29 PM
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Nah. British journalists are just as feisty/hostile as German ones and the UK had arguably an even worse banking crisis than the US and joined all America's recent wars.

British journalists tend to aim their festiness/hostility at politicians who are already up shit creek and/or the officially designated loon. Yes, Paxman, nice of you to grill Blair on his conduct after the war, but it would've helped had your news organisation as a whole been a bit less deferential during the runup to it. (Media studies doen aftwerwards showed BBC news was consistently more positive and less critical about the War on Iraq than its commercial rivals.)

Btw, reading the subthread about Marshall and his sex slaves isn't made easier by getting confused with Josh Marshall...


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 12:34 AM
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re: 224

In the UK I'll believe that when I see it. Two winters in a row have passed without any change ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 12:39 AM
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280 -- Look, just because you're an immortal doesn't mean that the principles of the brutals are that hard to figure out. The gun is good, the penis is evil. Is that really so hard to understand, even for you academic types?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 1:24 AM
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The Bill of Rights is indeed awesome. But it's largely a shot-for-shot remake of the UK Bill of Rights which was signed a century earlier. And the awesomeness of the Constitution should be filtered through an awareness of the number of incredibly bloody civil wars that have happened under it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 2:41 AM
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There are Founders and there are Framers. The Framers were a bunch of historical figures who got together and put together the written Constitution. It's important to learn what they thought, as it helps put the Constitution into the context of its times, helps elucidate principles behind it, helps understand why things we now think of as missing from it went missing, helps us interpret and improve it, etc.

The Founders are a bunch of quasi-religious figures who
were involved in framing the Constitution and were involved in the American Revolution (and events leading up to it), who wrote and said a various things which, when selectively chosen and arranged provide us with a pathway to national salvation. Whole texts and the compromises required to produce them aren't particular important.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:00 AM
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But it's largely a shot-for-shot remake of the UK Bill of Rights which was signed a century earlier.

Not quite. It omits all the disabling stuff against Papists. Otherwise, yes. Is it known who drafted that one?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:13 AM
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re: 286

Wiki and elsewhere just describes it as being produced by Parliament. It would be interesting to know who, in particular, played a role.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:21 AM
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287. At a wild guess, Halifax and Somers. With or without input from Locke.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:42 AM
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Although some historians such as Macaulay have claimed Somers was made chairman of the committee which drew up the Declaration of Right, the committee's report was delivered to the Commons by Sir George Treby (the chairman always delivered the report to the House).[14] However Somers did play a leading part in drawing up the Declaration, which would be passed in Parliament and become known as the Bill of Rights 1689.[15][16] Although later generations exaggerated Somers role as architect of the Bill of Rights, his biographer asserts that no one else can have a better claim to that title.[17] Somers published anonymously A Vindication of the Proceedings of the Late Parliament of England in 1690

From the wiki article on Somers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:52 AM
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Sometimes I amaze myself. I was just thinking that the rough draft would have been sketched out among the proto-Kit-Cat crowd. In a pub, but not in Euston.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:57 AM
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Not quite. It omits all the disabling stuff against Papists.

Alas, yes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:02 AM
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But it's largely a shot-for-shot remake of the UK Bill of Rights which was signed a century earlier.

Well, it has a few differences and extras, in addition to lack of limitation to Protestants:

Freedom of speech for people who are not MP's, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, requirement for warrants, right to counsel, right not to testify against oneself, right to subpoena witnesses for the defense,...

Plus there's the context of a written constitution with a powerful autonomous judiciary which can overrule parliament and the executive and enforce those rights.

But other than those minor details, yeah, just the same.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:11 AM
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This thread reminds me yet again that liberals are incapable of fighting. These are your Founders, the Founders of your country. (Non-Americans on the thread excepted, of course.) And you're letting some two-bit wack-jobs from Texas claim them. You are part of the same unbroken tradition as Washington and Jefferson. Texas' tradition is one of secession in the defense of slavery. Texans barely view themselves as Americans -- you don't hear the governor of Massachusetts publicly discussing secession. Fuck Texas. American history reads Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and now you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:28 AM
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a powerful autonomous judiciary which can overrule parliament and the executive

The English and Scottish judiciaries can and do overrule parliament and the executive quite frequently (and recently, very helpfully). They generally don't appeal to constitutional law to do so, but to existing statute or common law. The main reason it's easier to amend the British constitution than the American has little to do with one of them being codified more formally than the other and everything to do with one country being a federation which grants various kinds of veto to its component parts whereas the other is a unitary state.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:31 AM
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292: freedom of assembly is in the UKBOR in almost the same words as in the US one: "That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;" vs "Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Requirement for warrants is in the 1679 Habeas Corpus act. Protection against self-incrimination already existed in English law. Right to counsel was a new one. Don't know about the right of subpoena.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:36 AM
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And why adopt a literalist reading of literalism? Founder literalism is as much bullshit as Biblical literalism. It works like every crappy freshman English essay -- pick the conclusion, and then search for quotes to back it up.

I have a friend who's a conservative, but not a loon. Being a conservative, he interacts with loons regularly. He once told me about a conversation he had with a woman who told him "America is the first country explicitly founded on Christianity." He marveled that someone could believe something so precisely the opposite of the historical truth.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:40 AM
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It's intriguing though to compare the reputations of Somers, of whom 99% of English people have never heard, and Jefferson, who is regarded as a demigod by a great many Americans who ought to be more sober. A rock band called "Somers' Starship" would be greeted with puzzlement.

It seems to me that Brits generally have a meliorist attitude to the status quo at any given moment, without enquiring much into its pedigree, whereas Americans are condemned to reiterate the Federalist debates until the pubs shut. I can see something to be said for both approaches, but I'm more historically minded than most people.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 4:46 AM
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A rock band called "Somers' Starship" would be greeted with puzzlement.

There was one called the Levellers, though...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 5:10 AM
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re: 298

I think in some crusty, irritating corner of this land, they still exist.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 5:15 AM
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There was one called the Levellers, though...

Yet none (that I've heard of) named in honour of Daniel Shays...


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 5:19 AM
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Re: The abortive German subthread above + Olympics wackiness (Olympics' threads needed, k thx, bai).

See picture #9 here. Brings to mind the Tom Lehrer line, "Once all the Germans were warlike and mean, but that couldn't happen again. We taught them a lesson in 1918 and they've hardly bothered us since then."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 5:23 AM
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301: blimey. Pickelhauben and everything.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 5:50 AM
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"America is the first country explicitly founded on Christianity."

Wow. See, everybody knows it was really the Wholly Roman Empire.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 6:22 AM
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284 -- Hardly surprising that the men who'd fought a long and ugly war to vindicate their entitlement to 'the rights of Englishmen' would end up codifying them.

Even if you want to look at religious origins, you end up having to conclude that Roger Williams was heavily influenced by his time with Lord Coke.

Texans should be venerating Lawyers, not Apostles.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 6:42 AM
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And the awesomeness of the Constitution should be filtered through an awareness of the number of incredibly bloody civil wars that have happened under it.

Um, one?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 6:49 AM
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305: well, any non-zero number is a bit of a FAIL to be honest.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 6:53 AM
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The picture in 301 is awesome.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 7:18 AM
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I see that the US is way out in front on the medal count, thanks mostly to our lead in bronze medals.

http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-medals/


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 7:30 AM
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I think I may sternly reproach CC for posting 308 without refreshing his browser.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 7:42 AM
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You know, the US bill of rights is pretty different from the English bill of rights of 1689, as looking at any part of the text of the US bill of rights not callled the Eighth Amendment should make immediately obvious (though it's true that the framers also wanted to codify what they thought were their longstanding common law rights). Most importantly and obviously, the English bill of rights was mainly designed to protect Parliamentary power against the king; nothing in the English BOR was not subject to alteration by Parliament. The US bill of rights was designed to protect the rights of something called "the people" and did so through protecting some individual rights and some rights of lower-level democratic bodies, like the jury, the militia, the local church, and the states.

And that's not even dealing with the fact that a codified written constitution meant, in practice, a very different constitutional application of common legal principles. "Due process of law" comes from the Magna Carta, but it's enshrinement in the 5th and 14th amendments has given the concept a very distinct course in the USA. And the idea that constitutional judicial review in Britain looked anything like it's US equivalent until about 20 years ago (or whenever the European human rights conventions became important) is just wrong. Having a written constitution does make a pretty big difference.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 9:08 AM
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On second thought, obviously Ajay is trolling. Well played, sir.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 9:11 AM
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310/311: no, actually. I just think it's wrong to look at the US Bill of Rights and say "OMG what a revolutionary and unprecedented document, truly the men who drafted this were breaking new ground" when there was an identically titled and very similar document (OK, not shot-for-shot remake, that was a bit of an exaggeration) in force a century earlier. As CC points out at 304, some of the colonists thought they were fighting for their rights as Englishmen - hardly surprising that, when they were finished fighting and wanted to write those rights down, they were pretty close to the English Bill of Rights!

There are key differences: first, as you point out, the UK version is a law and thus can be superseded by other laws, while the US version is part of a written constitution and is more difficult to change.
Second, a lot - though not all - of the 1689 Bill was designed to protect Parliament against the King. That's not true of the US bill, because that sort of thing ended up in the Constitution instead - the mechanics of separation of powers and so forth.
Third, the "freedom of religion" issue.
Fourth, many of the rights in the US Bill were already assured by English law and so weren't included in the UK bill.

But these aside, of the ten clauses of the US Bill, six were taken in part or wholly from the UK Bill, two (Ninth and Tenth) are irrelevant to the UK situation, and one (Third) is a particular topical grievance of the colonists.



Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 9:48 AM
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293:
Even now the silk is tugging at the staff;
Take up the song! forget the epitaph.

Halford, anyone else whose mind is blown by the Hemmings relations of several kinds with the Jeffersons; you might like the "Benjamin January" mysteries by Barbara Hambly. January is a free black man in New Orleans in the 19th c. and the degree to which his family, and his freedom of action, are intertwined with white society and curtailed by it is boggling.

Hambly also wrote _The Emancipators' Wife_, which is a really good job of developing human sympathy for an unlikeable heroine.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-16-10 3:33 PM
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