Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cross-examining according to Rumpole

"Cross-examining," I explained to Edmund, "is not the art of examining crossly.  I was polite to Mr X.  I treated him like a friend.  I led him gently by the hand up the garden path and dropped him in the compost heap.  I'm sorry you missed it."
-Mortimer, John.  "Rumpole and the Boy" in A Rumpole Christmas (New York: Viking, 2009), 63

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I have my enthusiasms.  Right now it's Orwell.  Here's the essay Bookshop Memories at the blog George Orwell Novels.  Orwell writes,
In a town like London there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

On the home front, gasoline, food, and other commodities were rationed.  The east and west coasts were blacked out at night.  The ages for drafting men were lowered to eighteen and raised to forty-five, and the physical standards were steadily diminished; towards the end of the war, it was said half in jest, that the only requirements for draftees were that they be able to see lightning and hear thunder.  Over fourteen million American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines were under arms (Rhenquist, William H. All The Laws But One: Civil Liberties in Wartime (New York; Vintage Books, 2000), pg. 188)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mr. David Dudley Field, on behalf of Lamdin P. Milligan, argues, regarding the prerogative power of the president, that:
The oath of office cannot be considered as a grant of power.  Its effect is merely to superadd a religious sanction to what would otherwise be his official duty, and to bind his conscience against any attempt to usurp power or overthrow the Constitution (Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866)).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Civil Disobedience

There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man.
-Thoreau, Henry David.  Walden and Civil Disobedience (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company Riverside Editions, 1960), pg. 240.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Clarity, Simplicity, Brevity, and Humanity"

Please read "Writing English as a Second Language" by William Zinsser at

Zinsser writes,
So what is good English—the language we’re here today to wrestle with? It’s not as musical as Spanish, or Italian, or French, or as ornamental as Arabic, or as vibrant as some of your native languages. But I’m hopelessly in love with English because it’s plain and it’s strong. It has a huge vocabulary of words that have precise shades of meaning; there’s no subject, however technical or complex, that can’t be made clear to any reader in good English—if it’s used right. Unfortunately, there are many ways of using it wrong. Those are the damaging habits I want to warn you about today.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In another national survey (Internet) just after the election itself, Sniderman and Stiglitz (2008) thoroughly explore racial prejudice and 2008 vote choice. They find that American voters do not hesitate “to make frankly derogatory comments about blacks.” For example, about one out of five whites surveyed described “most blacks” as “violent”; essentially the same fraction also described them as “boastful”; almost one out of three said they were “complaining.” Overall, the investigators ranked 10% of respondents as high scorers on a prejudice index (built from five items). Among Republicans, variation in this prejudice index does not significantly relate to declared votes for Obama. However, among Democrats, the effect is significant and strong; for those in the bottom third on the prejudice index, 95% voted Obama; but for those in the top third the percent drops to 62, for a difference of minus 33 points. This large defection appears partially offset by voters who view blacks with “esteem.” Considering those in the bottom third on this esteem index, 77% voted Obama; but for those in the top third the percentage rises to 96, for a difference of +19 points. (Relatedly, Craemer et al. [2009] report that some white voters may have come to a psychological closeness to Obama, enabling them to vote for him.)
Using these above differences, as reported in Sniderman and Stiglitz (2008), we go on to take the positive esteem number (+19) from the negative prejudice number (−33), implying a 14-point loss among Democrats. While that calculation suggests to us a substantial racial cost, translation of that number into a precise vote estimate remains uncertain, and the authors themselves do not offer any such calculation. However, that task is carried out by Aistrup, Kisangani, and Piri (2009) in their analysis of a pre-convention survey from the South. In a logistic regression model, with the dependent variable vote intention for McCain or Obama, and under extensive controls (e.g., ideology, party identification, SES), they find racial resentment has a strong impact. For example, among Democrats, when the race resentment index shifts upward one standard deviation, the probability of a McCain vote increases from about 40% to 58%. Unfortunately for our purposes, this survey confines itself to one part of the country.
-Lewis-Beck, Michael S, Charles Tien, and Richard Nadeau.  "Obama's Missed Landslide: A Racial Cost?" in PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 43. No. 1 (published online January 15, 2010).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Having had the filibuster wielded against them so effectively in the 103rd Congress, Democrats, now in the minority, made full use of their prerogatives under Senate rules; major legislation frequently encountered extended debate-related problems. The minority Democrats because increasingly adept at using extended debate and the Senate’s loose amending rules in combination to get their issues onto the Senate agenda. By threatening or actually offering their bills as often non-germane amendments to whatever legislation the majority leader brought to the floor and using extended debate to block a quick end to debate, Democrats forced Republicans to consider a number of issues they would rather have avoided–most prominently the minimum wage, tobacco taxes, campaign finance reform, and managed care (Sinclair, Unorthodox Lawmaking, 107)
Sinclair, Barbara.  Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress (CQ Press: Washington, D.C.), 2000. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Manual Labor

I am not a manual labourer and please God I never shall be one, but there are some kinds of manual work that I could do if I had to.  At a pitch I could be a tolerable road-sweeper or an inefficient gardener or even a tenth rate farm hand.  But by no conceivable amount of effort or training could I become a coal-minter; the work would kill me in a few weeks (Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, 32-33).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Four Texts on Socrates

If Socrates was right in holding that the desire for gain, for distinction, and for knowledge are inherent in human nature, then a Marxist regime will necessarily be at constant war with the most powerful as well as the most noble propensities of man.
-Four Texts on Socrates, ed. Thomas G. West and Grace Starry West (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), pg. 11.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers

Western institutional theorists have concerned themselves with the problem of ensuring that the exercise of government power, which is essential to the realization of the values of their societies, should be controlled in order that it should not itself be destructive of the values it was intended to promote.  The great theme of the advocates of constitutionalism, in contrast either to theorists of utopianism, or of absolutism, of the right or of the left, has been the frank acknowledgement of the role of government in society, linked with the determination to bring that government under control and to place limits on the exercise of its power
Ville, M. J. C., Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers (Oxford, Clarendon Press: 1967), pg. 1.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Right to Obtain Happiness


SECTION 1. All people are by nature free and independent and have
inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and
liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing
and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.

Wonders abound.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Believe It or Not"

I am not—honestly, I am not—simply being dismissive here. The utter inconsequentiality of contemporary atheism is a social and spiritual catastrophe. Something splendid and irreplaceable has taken leave of our culture—some great moral and intellectual capacity that once inspired the more heroic expressions of belief and unbelief alike. Skepticism and atheism are, at least in their highest manifestations, noble, precious, and even necessary traditions, and even the most fervent of believers should acknowledge that both are often inspired by a profound moral alarm at evil and suffering, at the corruption of religious institutions, at psychological terrorism, at injustices either prompted or abetted by religious doctrines, at arid dogmatisms and inane fideisms, and at worldly power wielded in the name of otherworldly goods. In the best kinds
of unbelief, there is something of the moral grandeur of the prophets—a deep and admirable abhorrence of those vicious idolatries that enslave minds and justify our worst cruelties.

But a true skeptic is also someone who understands that an attitude of critical suspicion is quite different from the glib abandonment of one vision of absolute truth for another—say, fundamentalist Christianity for fundamentalist materialism or something vaguely and inaccurately called “humanism...”

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection. Among the New Atheists, there is no one of whom this can be said, and the movement as a whole has yet to produce a single book or essay that is anything more than an insipidly doctrinaire and appallingly ignorant diatribe.

-"Believe It or Not" in First Things by David B. Hart.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Peter Hitchens Lays Out The Case Against the Roman Catholic Church:

Hitches writes,
Let's go through the case as it stands in general.

Did Roman Catholic priests engage in abuse of children? Yes.

Were these crimes sometimes covered up? Yes.

Does the Church admit this? Yes.

Does anything in Roman Catholic theology or belief mandate or excuse such behaviour? No.

Is the RC Church the only institution in which such abuse has taken place? No.

Have the transgressors been punished and have steps been taken to prevent them having renewed opportunities to transgress? Yes, though not as swiftly as it should have been, some are now beyond the reach of the law, or dead.

Has the Church admitted that it was at fault? Yes, unequivocally and repeatedly.

Have steps been taken to prevent a repetition? Yes.

Has the current Pope in any way condoned the crimes? No.

Has he repeatedly and explicitly condemned them and those who failed to act against them? Yes.

So what I want to know, in detail, is what those who now call for the prosecution of the Pope specifically allege against him?
From the Mail on Sunday, April 19, 2010 (emphasis mine).

Grading Exams

I'm grading my students' mid-term exams. I remember writing my first student paper. When the professor handed it back it looked like he had bled on it, as it was so covered in red pen marks. I think I received a "C" or a "B-". All but one of my grades that freshman year was a "B-". I think that's what gentlemen got for just showing up.

As mine isn't an English class, I'm trying to be generous and to understand that this may be their first sustained piece of writing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The adoption of the First Amendment, which accords religion (and no other manner of belief) special constitutional protection. (Munoz, Vincent Phillip. "THOU SHALT NOT POST THE TEN COMMANDMENTS? MCCREARY COUNTY, VAN ORDEN, AND THE FUTURE OF RELIGIOUS DISPLAY CASES" in Texas Review of Law and Politics)

George Washington, First Inaugural Address

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence (George Washington, First Inaugural Address).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oaklawn Park

Oaklawn Park, 9th, #3 (Noble's Promise), Show ($10.00), Also-Ran ($0.00).


Keeneland, 9th, #9 (Interactif), Show ($10.00), Fourth ($0.00)


Keeneland, 8th, #2 (Forever Together), Show ($10.00), Place ($13.00)

Santa Anita

Santa Anita, 2nd, #1 (Warren's Tony R.), Show ($10.00), Place ($21.00)

Sunland Park

Sunland Park, 3rd, #1 (Streakin Johnny Boy), Show ($10.00), Show ($14.00)


Keeneland, 6th, #2 (Silver Timber), Show ($10.00), Win ($13.00)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Austerity Britain: 1945-51 by David Kynaston

[After Labour's victory in 1945] The food turned even more to ashes in the mouth for the theatre critic James Agate, despite his best efforts after hearing the appalling news:
I rang up the head waiter at one of my favourite restaurants and said, 'Listen to me carefully, Paul.  I am quite willing in the future you address me as "comrade" or "fellow-worker", and chuck the food at me in the manner of Socialists to their kind.  But that doesn't start until tomorrow morning.  Tonight I am bringing two friends with the intention that we may together eat our last meal as gentlemen.  There will be a magnum of champagne, and the best food your restaurant can provide.  You, Paul, will behave with your wonted obsequiousness.  The sommelier, the table waiter, and the commis waiter will smirk and cringe in the usual way.  From tomorrow you will get no more tips.  Tonight you will be tipped royally.'  The head waiter said, 'Bien, m'sieu.'  That was at a quarter-past six.  At a quarter-past nine I arrived and was escorted by bowing menials to my table, where I found the magnum standing in its bucket and three plates each containing two small slices of spam!
Perhaps the most revealing detail, though, was Agate's rhetorical question: 'Who would have thought a head waiter to have so much wit in him?' (Kynaston, David.  Austerity Britain: 1945-51 (New York: Bloomsbury,  2008), pg. 76)

The Spirit of Modern Republicanism by Thomas L. Pangle

Our tastes or the things in which we take pleasure may be shifting; we may be endowed by nature with no clear order or hierarchy of inclinations; variety and change may in themselves be a chief constituent of human delight; but the pleasures we take in independence, or in the belief in our independence, would seem to be a relatively constant and a principal ingredient of human happiness. And this natural yearning for independence is most fully realized in the human being who is rational because educated according to the principles of Locke's treatise on education. Such a person understands his longing for independence, and lives in the light of this understanding: he sees that the longing for independence is truly fulfilled through the reasonable regulation of all the passions. Lockean man takes pride in this self-conscious, rational independence. It is here that he finds the source of his dignity. It is here that he finds the source of the grace or beauty of humanity, in himself and others...(Pangle, Thomas L. The Spirit of Modern Republicanism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), pg. 264)

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