U. S. population is about 322 million right now—about 63 percent white and 37
percent persons of color. In 1965, the ratio was 88 percent white and 12
percent persons of color.
the majority of all births are babies of color—that is, not of Caucasian
people in politics are hatefully flailing at this profound and accelerating
be honest: skin color and heritage are two of the least useful ways to
differentiate people, and two of the most disgusting ways to exploit and fire
up the prejudices of folks who are motivated by ill-informed fears.
commit ourselves to friendly humanity, to engaging civilly with our new
neighbors. Let’s remind ourselves that in less than 30 years white folks may
cease to be the majority in America.
welcome all new Americans, and let’s get on with living.
Brown Is The New White, a newly
published book by Steve Phillips.
“Bill of Rights” wasn’t “The Bill of Rights” in the 1790s when it was first
no one called it “The Bill of Rights” then, not officially, not in print, not
in the often contentious debate that preceded its adoption in 1791, three years
after the Constitution was ratified.
Jefferson, then Secretary of State, described “certain articles in addition and
amendment of the Constitution of the United States” when he sent out to the
states the list of 10 amendments that had been approved.
The first 10 Amendments
fact, 12 amendments had been drafted to satisfy the concerns of the
Anti-Federalists, who had opposed the ratification of the Constitution itself
because they resisted the creation of a federal government with centralized
not well known that the original Article 12 of the first batch was finally
ratified as the 27th Amendment in 1992. It states: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of
the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of
Representatives shall have intervened.”
original Article 1 has never been ratified. It proposed that members of the U.
S. House of Representatives should not represent more than 50,000 persons per
congressional district. In the first Congress formed after the Constitution was
adopted, each congressman represented about 30,000 people. Today, U. S. representatives
are elected from districts containing roughly 730,000 people—if the 50,000
limit were in effect, there would be almost 6,400 seats in the House.
even think about it.
Pauline Maier’s books on the U. S. Constitution
The Republicans in Congress are still flogging away at the Affordable
Care Act (OK, OK, “Obamacare”), but that dog don’t hunt no more.
Republicans in the House have voted—what? 163 times or something like
that--to repeal Obamacare….campaign talking points, and nothing else.
The New York Times talked straight a few days ago in an editorial that
diced up “…the big myths they are peddling…”
Here’s the short version:
“[Myth 1] MILLIONS OF PEOPLE
HAVE LOST THEIR INSURANCE:
According to the Census Bureau, the number of uninsured Americans
dropped by 10 million between 2010, when the law passed, and 2014. While
critics said employers might stop offering health insurance because of the
law, three million people gained coverage through their employers between 2010
[Myth 2] MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE
LOST THEIR JOBS:
A 2015 study using data from the Current Population Survey found that
the law “had virtually no adverse effect on labor force participation,
employment or usual hours worked per week through 2014.
[Myth 3] REDUCE COSTS BY
WEAKENING STATE REGULATIONS:
…the biggest obstacle stopping insurers from setting up in more states
is not regulation; it’s the difficulty of establishing a network of providers
in a new market. And such a structure would destroy the longstanding ability of
states to regulate health insurance for their populations.”
The Republicans have proposed nothing to replace Obamacare.
Obamacare has done a lot of good so far, and we have a long way to go
in making our American health care system more effective and less costly.
latest news about the Volkswagen emissions violations is that the German
carmaker will take a $18.2 billion charge against its 2015 financial accounts
to cover payments to aggrieved Volkswagen owners. That’s
company will post a 2015 loss of about $6 billion.
know this story: unscrupulous lawbreakers on the Volkswagen payroll
deliberately rigged their diesel cars to conform with emissions requirements while
the tests were being conducted, and then run fast and dirty when they were on
disgraced CEO of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn, stepped down last year. There
was talk that he would get a severance package of almost $70 million.
and billions worth of wrongdoing here. VW owners got the short end of the
stick, and VW shareholders are paying for it.
did a sincere internet search, and I couldn’t find any story about any other
Volkswagen employee who has been fired or prosecuted or sent to jail.
are quite a few people who did wrong stuff here—are any of them going to be held
The arrival of European explorers and colonists in the Americas in the
16th century caused the devastating collapse of the indigenous
populations—tens of millions of people died within a generation or two.
A comparison of ancient and modern DNA starkly shows that “none of the
genetic lineages we found in almost 100 ancient humans were present, or showed
evidence of descendants, in today’s Indigenous populations,” according to the
lead author of the study published recently.
Basically, the ancient lineages in North and South America “went
extinct with the arrival of Spanish [and other] colonists.”
The study of DNA from 92 pre-Columbian skeletons and from living
residents of both continents was conducted by the University of Adelaide’s
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.
No one knows for sure how many indigenous peoples were alive in North
and South America in 1492, but the estimates run up to 100 million. Almost all
of those people died—mostly as a result of disease—during the decades following
the first voyage of Columbus.
Cahokia c. 1250
p.s. The DNA study also confirmed that the first Americans arrived on
the North Pacific coast about 16,000 years ago. They quickly spread and
prospered throughout both continents in less than 1,500 years. These First
Peoples created several sophisticated civilizations. For example, in the 13th
century, a Mississippi River “mound” culture had its center at Cahokia, a city
that was bigger than Paris at the time.
whole notion of “spoiler alert” is less than 175 years old.
because there really wasn’t much to spoil before 1841. That’s when Edgar Allan
Poe published “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” a short story generally acknowledged as the first modern detective story.
has many familiar elements of the thriller whodunit: murder scene is a room
locked from the inside, two women dead, spectacularly eccentric evidence, no
obvious suspect, no obvious motive.
ace detective is an unassuming cop named C. Auguste Dupin, who soldiers on
through dead end after dead end to finally thresh the truth from a harvest of
confusing evidence. There is innocence and brutality and propriety and
wantonness and rectitude and adventure enough to satisfy just about any reader
who isn’t looking for a cheap thrill or a zombie or a torn bodice.
yeah, one other plus: no bad language. Popular literature in the early 19th
century was no place for (expletive deleted) with bad language. In fact, Poe
described “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” as one of his “tales of
ratiocination.” You can get down with that.
the way, Sherlock Holmes didn’t come onto the scene until 1887, and Miss Marple
was a heroine of the 1920s.
Dupin finally figured out that the orangutan did it.
“World domination” is a concept we don’t mention too often in casual
conversation these days, but 100 years ago it was an ordinary frame of
In 1800, at the beginning of the 19th century, European
powers controlled about one-third of the world’s land mass. By 1914—before the
start of World War I—those Western powers could claim domination of about 84 percent of the planet.
It wasn’t a stretch to acknowledge that “the sun never sets on the
Margaret Macmillan, in The War
That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, says
"Europe's countries dominated
much of the earth's surface whether through their formal empires or by informal
control of much of the rest through their economic, financial and technological
strength. Railways, ports, telegraph cables, steamship lines, factories around
the world were built using European know-how and money and were usually run by
"The march of knowledge throughout the nineteenth century, in so
many fields from geology to politics, had, it was widely assumed, brought much
greater rationality in human affairs. The more humans knew, whether about
themselves, society, or the natural world, the more they would make decisions
based on the facts rather than on emotion.”
As we sadly know now, such self-serving and blithely ignorant claptrap
was brutally exposed when the “guns of August” commenced firing in 1914 after
the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
well, technically, I didn’t run the race. Those people are technically nuts,
but on race day it’s a good kind of crazy, obviously they’re brave and strong,
and I didn’t see any runner who looked unhappy.
was one of the half million people who watched some of the 30,000 runners
heading east to Boston. I was about at the halfway marker, so the runners had
already floated down about 300 feet from the starting line in Hopkinton (the
highest point, about 490 feet above sea level), and some of them probably were
starting to think about the killer climb at Chestnut Hill, at Mile 21.
we were all in the level sweet spot approaching Wellesley, the multitudes
cheering and clapping more or less continuously as all those fluorescent green
and orange sneakers strode by attached to very fit-looking people of all
ages….somewhat strangely, I didn’t see anyone who looked like a teenager
(minimum qualifying age is 18), and there were plenty of geezer-ish folks who
could run circles around yours truly.
best moments for me were watching the youngsters in the families thronging the
marathon route. Lots of action, lots of colors, lots of noise, lots of chummy
policemen and fascinating helicopters….a hectic wonderland for the wee ones….
a few of the bolder kids were stretching an arm out into the street, offering a
bottle of water to the needy, the kids’ smiling eyes happily sharing brief
communion with the heroic eyes of the fabulous grownups who dashed toward them
at dangerous speed and leaned down to grab the water and invariably elevated
the moment with a “Thank you!” and the regal brushing of fingertips….
very hard to stand up carrying the weight of what I know.”
William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008)
you’re at all familiar with Buckley’s potent command of language, you won’t
have any trouble believing he said that.
the man was literate and learned.
bad he wasted all that talent on being a champion of the rigidly righteous and repeatedly
wrong Right Wing of just about everything in American culture and politics in
the 1950s and the ‘60s and the ‘70s.
my youth I was an ardent Buckley acolyte. I had dinner with him once in my
I have learned more and more in my life since then, I have come to understand
that it wasn’t his knowledge that was a burden to him—it was his blindness to
many realities of the human condition.
Trump and Sanders campaigns recently have started singing a whiner’s song about
the byzantine delegate selection process which hasn’t delivered an easy victory
to either candidate so far.
primary slog for delegates has been frustratingly inconclusive so far. All of
us, of all political persuasions, can agree on that.
simple fact is that the surprisingly murky process—almost virtually and
remarkably different in every state—is or should be completely transparent to
the political operatives staffing all of the presidential campaigns. In brief,
there are no surprises here for the pols.
nasty public complaints about how the delegates are awarded are so much
bellywash. Trump, in particular, should be hooted away from the microphone when
he complains that the nomination may be “stolen” from him if he fails to secure
a majority of delegates. If you don’t get a majority, you don’t win. It’s not
the point that the delegate selection process is obfuscated beyond all human
understanding, I have more sympathy with the whiners.
explained more fully in the April 10 Sunday New York Times, it’s
more or less true that no state permits voters to vote in a primary and
literally, directly choose party convention delegates who are committed to vote
for their preferred candidate. (Read it here).
the folks who get the primary votes are the first group of candidate advocates
who take part in a multi-stage, state-by-state process for selecting convention
delegates. The process is more or less unique in every state.
plain terms: the typical voter really has no idea who he or she is sending to
the party convention to choose a presidential nominee. In some states, it’s
distinctly possible that your primary vote helps to select a convention
delegate who really doesn’t want your candidate to get the nod.
this “fair”? Make your own call.
this: the process is the 21st century incarnation of the way party
insiders have always used the smoke-filled rooms in the back of the hall to
keep their political power intact.
if you can figure out who represents your primary vote at your party’s
convention this summer.
There’s a plain Jane reason why that
four-year sheepskin is called a “bachelor’s degree.”
In the 11th century, the men
who went to college for their first degree attained a respectable mastery of
knowledge, but it wasn’t enough to set them up for good jobs.
Hence, they were generally unable to
support a family, and thus remained bachelors until they went further in their
In common parlance, they earned the “bachelor’s”
Seal of University of Bologna
The first Western university was the
University of Bologna in Italy, established in 1088. The University of Paris
opened its doors about 60 years later, and the University of Oxford was created
1644 sketch of Harvard's first seal
There is some high-toned dispute about
the founding date of the first American “university.” Harvard, without a doubt,
was established in 1636 as the first “institution of higher learning” in the
DelanceyPlace.com cites Kevin Madigan’s
Medieval Christianity in explaining the impact of universities on the development
of Western civilization, starting about the mid-point of the Middle Ages.
By the way, the academic powerhouse we
think of as a “university” was originally an outgrowth of the medieval guilds,
and the name “university” is shorthand for universitas magistrorum et scholarium, that is, a "community of teachers and scholars.”
Sometimes a university is more than that, and sometimes,
less. That’s a story for another time.