Monday, September 27, 2010


I just found out that the company for which I am teaching Econ online, will pay me for time spent reading materials that improve my teaching!


Anyways, I'm reading Robert Heilbroner's Teaching from the Worldly Philosophy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

bad idea!

the pope

Christopher Hitchens wrote about this in a recent article on Slate.

I know I am preaching to the choir (hah!) here, but why is it that no moves are being made to hold the Catholic Church responsible for the large sale organized rape and subsequent cover-up of children?

The Pope is going to be in the UK this week, and a number of humanists/ atheists, etc are lobbying hard for his arrest. Of course there is a 0% chance of this happening, and for any number of reasons, those in favor of the legal persecution of the pontiff have been marginalized as fringe radicals.

a new book is coming out in the US in October (already out in UK). The case of the Pope: Vatican accountability for Human Rights Abuse. It was put together by Geoffrey Robertson, a human rights lawyer in Britain.

the blurb reads

""The Case of the Pope" delivers a devastating indictment of the way the Vatican has run a secret legal system that shields paedophile priests from criminal trial around the world. Is the Pope morally or legally responsible for the negligence that has allowed so many terrible crimes to go unpunished? And, should he and his seat of power, the Holy See, continue to enjoy an immunity that places them above the law? Geoffrey Robertson QC, a distinguished human rights lawyer and judge, evinces a deep respect for the good works of Catholics and their church. But, he argues, unless Pope Benedict XVI can divest himself of the beguilements of statehood and devotion to obsolescent canon law, the Vatican will remain a serious enemy to the advance of human rights."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wait, why do we even need to BE a country

So recently I read Plain, Honest Men, a book about the constitutional convention, I have read several thousands of pages (really!) of pages on the constitution over the past two years, and I have read wildly divergent takes on its "true meaning", and on what can and should and MUST be done with it.

No one seems to question the idea that the constitution, and its subsequent ratification are good things. They may be abused, they may have flaws, but it is essentially...well, essential to our history that they were eventually agreed upon by the states .

If it hadn't been so brilliantly written (and it was brilliant, if only from a political and political-philosophy standpoint), it would not have been adopted by all the states, and today, we would most likely simply be a large conglomeration of countries.

My question is, so what? why is it necessarily so great that I have to live in the same country as people from jerk states!

If we were all different countries...would it be so bad? Would Alabama be in the third world? Would we have better rail systems and more backpackers? Would we all hate immigrants from the Dakotas?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The 3/5ths clause is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the US constitution. It is, for those of you who do not recall, the idea, written into our founding document, that African Slaves would be counted as 3/5ths of one human being.

This is always discussed as a mark of the racism of the period, "black people were treated so poorly, that they were only worth 60 percent...." In fact, its more complicated, and maybe more racist than all that. Black slaves were not "valued"at 3/5ths, they were valued at 0. They certainly did not recieve 60% of property rights or basic liberty, they received 0% of those things.

3/5ths is only the degree to which slaves would be counted in southern states in order to determine the correct number of representatives each could send to the house.

The slave owning planter class of the south, who were certainly (by and large) more racist than the northerners at the constitutionally congress, wanted slaves counted just like everyone else - why? It would give them more votes.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was one of the leading spokesman of the slave-owning southerners (S. Carolina), ironically, he was 3/5ths forehead

It was the men of the north, none of whom were slave owners who did not want African slaves counted at all. The more that slaves were valued at, the more power and influence the south would have to expand the slave trade. - As I mentioned in my previous post, Thomas Jefferson would not have won the election of 1800 were it not for the extra votes apportioned to the Southern States due to the black population. -

The 3/5ths compromise is not a compromise on the true worth of a black slave, that was not on the table, it was a compromise over how to measure the property of the states in order to properly apportion the representatives sent to the House.

Tim and Eric

are going on tour, pre-sale starts today. Who's in?

why is it that blogging

is so hard when I have nothing to do, and becomes so easy when my schedule is packed.

Now that I'm working 40+ hours a week again, I feel like blogging all the time!

want to know

basically everything about the US between 1789-1815.

Read Gordon S. Wood's Empire of Liberty.

God knows I am.

shit is authoritative son.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the supreme court and term limits

Something I've been thinking about recently, is why there has never been any traction to revisit the notion of lifetime appointments for Supreme Court Judges.

This is really not any issue often discussed, but it is a tremendous problem, and has been throughout American history.

A long lived Supreme Court justice, is almost ALWAYS out of step with the rest of American Society. There have been some exceptions (Earl Warren - ironically appointed by a Conservative Republican administration being the most notably example), but take a gander at some of these I-just-wasn't-made-for-these-times judges.

John Marshall

appointed 1801 by John Adams.

The Federalist party was the first "party" in American History, Washington, Hamilton, Adams were Federalists. 1800 was the first truly brutal presidential election in the US, Adams vs Jefferson, Jefferson won (he would have lost if it were not for the extra votes apportioned to the south by the infamous 3/5ths clause - more on this later). The Federalists were basically done as a real party by the end of TJ's second term. Madison and Monroe ran basically unopposed.

But there was always John Marshall, he was on the bench until 1835...THIRTY FIVE years after the last member of his party was elected to national office outside of New England.

The specifics of his cases are not the exciting, but he made a career out of ruining the days of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson - none of whom were members of his party.

By the time of his death, there was not a single congressman identifying as a Federalist.

Roger Taney (avenue)

my street is named after this scumbag.

nominated by Jackson in 1835 (the year of Marshall's death), He was on the court until his death, during the Civil War (1864). He was the deciding vote on the Fugitive Slave Law - wherein (to paraphrase Jon Stewart), Dred Scott fought in court for years to gain his freedom, finally, his hard work was rewarded when it was decided that he was A - still a slave, and B - not a person, but a piece of property to be bought and sold.

Melville Fuller

appointed by Grover Cleveland. 30 years later, he declared INCOME TAXES UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

William Rehnquist

appointed by Reagan. opposed gay marriage, wanted to overturn Roe V Wade, and so on.

These are not random examples. They are the four longest tenured Chief Justices, in descending order of length (and convenient chronological order).

They were all older than Chief Justice John Roberts was when he was appointed.

He fucking crazy are that guy's anti-gay wingnut positions going to seem in 2030?