Monthly Archives: July 2020

family separation repost X (family separation and the coronavirus epidemic)

 

 

‘Judge postpones deadline for ICE to release minors from family detention facilties’ – CBS News

 

‘Sarah Towle, ‘Asylum-Seeking Parents Confront Sophie’s Choice’

 

 

 

See the following news story and post (downloadable Word documents above):

 

“Judge postpones deadline for ICE to release minors from family detention facilities,” CBS News, July 16, 2020

“Asylum-Seeking Parents Confront Sophie’s Choice,” Posted in Migration Americas on July 16, 2020

 

 

Roger W. Smith

    July 2020

Balzac, “Le Père Goriot”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complete audio book (in French) posted here.

 

 

Diana Brown (a voracious and perspicacious reader), host of the site

Thoughts on Papyrus: Exploration of Literature, Cultures and Knowledge

has a new post

“Review: Le Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac”

at

 

https://ideasonpapyrus.wordpress.com/2020/07/26/review-le-pere-goriot-by-honore-de-balzac/

 

 

 

Her post got me to thinking about Le Père Goriot, one of my all-time favorite books. I read it first in French, in Mr. Walter Albert French 3 class in my freshman year at Brandeis University. Mr. Albert was an outstanding teacher.

I decided to post the complete audiobook, read in the original French.

I will leave the commentary on Le Père Goriot to Ms. Brown. But I recall that my college best friend John Ferris also read the novel in French class, and that it was one of his favorites. John was a sociology major and a polymath. (He encouraged me to go with him to audit a lecture on James Joyce’s story “Araby” by the revered professor and poet Allen Grossman which I never forgot). John made the point to me that Mme. Vauquer’s boarding house in the novel (Le Père Goriot) is a microcosm of society, with the different floors representing different levels of social standing. The unappreciated and neglected (by his social climber daughters) Père Goriot lives in a garret on the top floor.

I have read Le Père Goriot several times in both the original French and English translation.
— Roger W. Smith

    July 2020

 

 

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addendum:

 

 

email, Roger Smith to Diana Brown

July 26, 2020

 

Loved your brilliant post on “Père Goriot,” Diana. It’s one of my all-time favorite novels and probably Balzac’s best. I first read it in college in French. I had a very good professor for third year French.

I’ve read “Père Goriot” several times in both French and English. It and Balzac’s unique genius can be enjoyed and appreciated on many levels. Mme. Vauquer’s boarding house is indeed a microcosm of society; and she, and the others, is a character only a Balzac or a Charles Dickens could create.

Sheldon Silver

 

 

The following quotes are from The New York Times. (My comments are in boldface.)

 

“Sheldon Silver, Former N.Y. Assembly Speaker, Will Finally Go to Prison: Mr. Silver receives a sentence of 78 months after two trials. He had asked for home confinement, arguing that he was vulnerable to the coronavirus.,” By Benjamin Weiser and Jesse McKinley, The New York Times, July 20,2020

 

 

QUOTES FROM THE TIMES STORY

 

“Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. [Sheldon] Silver [former New York State Assembly speaker] ‘will now finally report to prison to begin serving a sentence that can begin to repair the harm his conduct caused.’ ” [italics added]

Such reassuring words. I will sleep better knowing this? (I mean that sarcastically.) This is actually sophistry, masked as sober reasoning.

 

“During the sentencing [of former Assembly Speaker Silver, to six and a half years], Judge [Valerie] Caproni said she recognized the risk of Covid-19 in prison — ‘I do not want Mr. Silver to die in prison, either,’ she said — but she noted a variety of safeguards that could be taken to protect him.

” ‘I cannot guarantee that Mr. Silver will not contract Covid in prison,’ the judge said. ‘But I also can’t guarantee that he won’t contract Covid if he stays out of prison.’ ”

The judge is getting off on making what she is sure is a gnomic, wise statement — will be taken as such — showing her cleverness and perspicacity. It’s actually nonsensical and cold blooded, and shows that she has no common sense and, at the best, scant regard for humanity.

 

These are FLAWED PREMISES (to put it kindly), UNCALLED FOR ASSERTIONS.

 

 

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What is the point of inflicting a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence (plus a million dollar fine) on a seventy-six-year-old man with no prior criminal record?

To punish him for naked greed and corruption. For abusing his office and the power and influence accruing to and entrusted in him thereby.

To make an example of him. To provide an implicit warning to other officeholders who might be tempted to commit similar crimes.

I presume that’s what the answer would be.

Money is undoubtedly one of the main temptations man faces. It’s so hard to come by, to accumulate. When it seems to be there for the taking, the temptation is hard to resist. Especially because money provides access to expensive luxuries and pleasures that an honest person on a fixed income probably can’t afford.

How many people have I known, including close relatives — or friends or relatives of relatives or friends — who cheated on their taxes, betting (almost always rightly) that they wouldn’t be caught? And not suffering any qualms that they were “cheating” the public.

Sheldon Silver’s punishment is pointless. It will not serve as a deterrent. It’s also gratuitously cruel and harsh. He will suffer. The damage to the body politic or injury to the public will not be repaired. Should one somehow feel better about things in general knowing he is in jail?

No one will consider or care about him or his plight.

What would be a “just” punishment? As I was thinking about this, my wife, whom I had been discussing the case with, almost took the words out of my mouth. A fair and sensible punishment/penalty for such a crime would be (1) removal from office and loss of the power and privileges that go with it; (2) requirement that the offender make restitution.

Jail makes no sense, does no one any good. And ruins the remainder of a flawed person’s life.

We are all flawed. And capable of doing things of the same nature — if not necessarily of the same magnitude or with the same degree of notoriety — ourselves.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    July 21, 2020

 

 

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addendum, July 28, 2020

 

Under questioning by Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, Mr. [William] Barr [United States Attorney General] agreed that the prosecutors’ recommendation was within sentencing guidelines. “But it was not within Justice Department policy in my view,” he said.

In an especially heated exchange, Mr. Johnson retorted: “You are expecting the American people to believe that you did not do what Trump wanted you to do? You think the American people don’t understand that you were carrying out Trump’s” wishes?

“Let me ask you,” Mr. Barr replied. “Do you think it is fair for a 67-year-old man [Roger Stone] to be sent to prison for seven to nine years?” [italics added]

 

— “Barr Defends Protest Response and Stone Case Intervention in Combative Hearing,” By Nicholas Fandos, Charlie Savage and Sharon LaFraniere, The New York Times, July 28, 2020

everything pales in comparison to how he voted?

 

 

“Vivian Llodrá, 49, of Inwood, was one of the first to post Mr. Bosco’s interview in a neighborhood Facebook group. She said that what he had done locally paled in comparison to how he had voted. ‘He broke the trust with the community,’ she said.”

Really?

 

 

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This post concerns a story in today’s New York Times:

 

 

The Cafe Has Black Lives Matter Signs. The Owner Voted for Trump.

“I’m a liberal guy,” said Thomas Bosco, who is facing backlash after he said in an MSNBC interview that he voted for the president in 2016 and was likely to do so again.

By Azi Paybarah

The New York Times

July 8, 2020

 

 

 

This is ridiculous (and also pernicious).

When I meet someone and get to know them.

It has been a practice all my life.

My only thought or care has been.

Is he (does he seem to be) a good guy, interesting or potentially interesting to talk with, and friendly? The only (hypothetical) exception might be someone with extremely repugnant or hateful views (a neo-Nazi or putative Klan supporter).

The politically correct Jacobins have zero humanity, empathy, compassion — you name it. The blood runs cold in their sclerotic veins.

I have never subjected, or considered doing so, friends or acquaintances — including casual acquaintances — to an ideological litmus test. One discovers over time, as one gets to know another person, that you and they don’t agree about everything; and sometimes your views can sharply diverge. (My wife and I recently had a vehement disagreement over a local political race. I strongly disapproved of “her candidate’s” views. Do I love her any less?) I don’t pick friends that way, certainly not on externals such as occupation, social class, race, or religion; and not based on which candidate or party they support.

Some people are so narrow minded and clueless about what constitutes humanity that it’s very sad to contemplate. They lack so-called “fellow feeling” for their brethren. I am glad everyone in my experience (or yours) is not the same. When the Jacobins are finished — if they have the way — we will all be faceless, ideologically scrubbed, rubber stamped, assembly line produced mental automatons with no individuality or personality.

And what about the cruelty (yes, that’s what it is)  to this individual? Because some people don’t like the way he voted? And, by the way, whatever happened to the belief we kids cherished growing up, that we would chant in the schoolyard whenever challenged: “It’s a free country.” No one, including me, is saying that there should not be strenuous disagreements over politics. But he can vote any way he decides to.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    July 8, 2020

family separation repost IX (litigation over migrant minors detained with their parents during the pandemic)

 

 

 

‘U.S. Must Release Children from Family Detention Centers, Judge Rules’ – NY Times 6-26-2020

 

 

Trump must comply with order to release detained migrant children – Washington Post 7-2-2020

 

 

As was noted in a Washington Post editorial of July 2 (posted here), “the three months-long litigation over migrant minors detained with their parents during the pandemic is the latest chapter in the sorry saga of the Trump administration’s efforts to use children as leverage in its war on immigrants.” Two articles about this are posted here.

The outrage of family separation Trump style has been mostly overlooked lately, being no longer the issue du jour. This is unfortunate — that’s an understatement.

The relevance of the so-called Flores Settlement to the issue is discussed briefly here. It is mentioned often in my previous posts on the subject.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   July 2020

specious, Jesuitical (or, “All slaveholders were evil, but some were more evil than others.”)

 

 

“In private, most of my left-leaning friends say that Washington should stay. They don’t play down the moral catastrophe of his slave ownership, but they weigh that, as [Princeton historian David] Bell advised three years ago, ‘against his role as a heroic commander in chief, as an immensely popular political leader who resisted the temptation to become anything more than a republican chief executive, and who brought the country together around the new Constitution.’ And they conclude that Washington deserves to stay in the canon of our country’s heroes — deeply flawed, as most heroes are, but still worthy of admiration for the good he did.”

 

— “Where do we draw the line in tearing down statues?” by Megan McArdle, The Washington Post, June 23, 2020

 

 

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“… the traitors hailed as heroes of times gone by aren’t the only ones getting toppled. Ulysses S. Grant — the commanding general of the Union Army — has been torn down; protesters have aimed for Andrew Jackson; Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have been pulled to the ground. The pain and anger born of years of oppression, it seems, extend beyond the most obvious icons of the Confederacy to our Founding Fathers — who espoused freedom and equality even as they held human beings in chains.

“We think a distinction can be drawn between Davis, who earned his fame leading states that seceded so they could keep slavery alive, and Washington, who earned his leading states that banded together to form a nation conceived in liberty, even if that nation still hasn’t lived up to those ideals.”
— “Tearing down these statues will be history, too. Let’s make it one we’re proud of.,” Editorial Board, The Washington Post, June 25, 2020

 

 

 

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“Former vice president Joe Biden drew a distinction Tuesday between monuments to Confederate leaders and statues of slave-owning former presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, saying the former belong in museums while the latter should be protected. …

“ ‘There is a difference between reminders and remembrances of history,’ Biden said. ‘The idea of comparing whether or not George Washington owned slaves or Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and somebody who was in rebellion committing treason … trying to take down the union and keep slavery. I think there’s a distinction.’ ”

 

— “On monuments, Biden draws distinction between those of slave owners and those who fought to preserve slavery,” The Washington Post, June 30, 2020

 

 

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“Our civil religion, back when it had more true believers, sometimes treated departed presidents like saints. But our monuments and honorifics exist primarily to honor deeds, not to issue canonizations — to express gratitude for some specific act, to acknowledge some specific debt, to trace a line back to some worthwhile inheritance.

“Thus when you enter their Washington, D.C., memorials, you’ll see Thomas Jefferson honored as the man who expressed the founding’s highest ideals and Abraham Lincoln as the president who made good on their promise. That the first was a hypocrite slave owner and the second a pragmatist who had to be pushed into liberating the slaves is certainly relevant to our assessment of their characters. But they remain the author of the Declaration of Independence and the savior of the union, and you can’t embrace either legacy, the union or ‘we hold these truths …’ without acknowledging that these gifts came down through them.

“To repudiate an honor or dismantle a memorial, then, makes moral sense only if you intend to repudiate the specific deeds that it memorializes. In the case of Confederate monuments, that’s exactly what we should want to do. Their objective purpose was to valorize a cause that we are grateful met defeat, there is no debt we owe J.E.B. Stuart or Nathan Bedford Forrest that needs to be remembered, and if they are put away we will become more morally consistent, not less, in how we think about that chapter in our past.

“But just as Jefferson’s memorial wasn’t built to celebrate his slaveholding, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs wasn’t named for Wilson to honor him for being a segregationist. It was named for him because he helped create precisely the institutions that the school exists to staff — our domestic administrative state and our global foreign policy apparatus — and because he was the presidential progenitor of the idealistic, interventionist worldview that has animated that foreign policy community ever since.”

 

— “The Ghost of Woodrow Wilson,” by Ross Douthat, The New York Times, June 30, 2020

 

 

 

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Bret Stephens: My basic criterion when it comes to deciding whether a statue should stay or go is whether the person on the pedestal worked for or against a more perfect union, to borrow that beautiful phrase from the preamble to the Constitution. Figures like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee should come down because they worked for disunion, not union. On the other hand, I’m appalled by the defacement of the magnificent Robert Gould Shaw memorial in Boston, which commemorates the bravery of one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army, just as I’m disgusted by the protesters who pulled down the statue of Ulysses Grant in San Francisco. … We need to find a way to balance present-day moral judgments with some appreciation that the past is another country.

“As for [Andrew] Jackson, my view is that, on balance, he worked for a more perfect union. This is in no way to deny the fact that he was a slaveholder or ignore his atrocious role in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans. But the modern Democratic Party, with its profoundly egalitarian impulses, would have probably been impossible without Jackson. And the Union might have perished long before Abraham Lincoln came to power if Jackson hadn’t opposed nullification and its champion, John C. Calhoun, as forcefully as he did.

Gail Collins: … all those founding fathers from Virginia who fought for their liberty while owning slaves. They knew slavery was evil — as Thomas Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” But Jefferson didn’t do anything about it either. …

“But about Jefferson? We celebrate the Declaration of Independence, but does that mean we celebrate the author? Who wanted a nation that was free for white people but protected the right of slave owners to keep and control their property forever? Great men are never perfect, but how do we decide if their good outweighs the bad?

Bret Stephens: I put a lot of weight in what Abraham Lincoln said of the third president: ‘All honor to Jefferson — to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.’ … Great public men are often horrid private men.”

 

— “Is Statue-Toppling a Monumental Error?” by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, The New York Times, June 30, 2020

 

 

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“Each of the Rushmore presidents furthered the ennobling sentiments of men who tried to fashion a democracy from a revolution. Some may never forgive Washington for his slave ownership. But among the nine presidents who owned slaves, only Washington freed them all in his final will.

“He also kept the United States from becoming a monarchy when the Trumpians of the day wanted to make him king.

“Jefferson was a slaveholding racist who wrote “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. The words outlive, and outshine, the man. …

“Teddy Roosevelt was no friend of the continent’s original inhabitants. But he evolved. His Rough Riders were multiracial warriors. And as the 20th century’s most influential progressive president, he invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him, the first time any president had broken bread with a Black man at the White House. This, at a time when it was difficult for a Black man to get a meal in a restaurant.

“Each of them pushed the revolution closer to an ideal of true equality. And Roosevelt was the first to add universal health care among the truths we hold self-evident.”

 

— “Let’s Finish the American Revolution: Our nation’s founding was a mess of contradictions. We must push America closer to its ideals.” by Timothy Egan, The New York Times, July 3, 2020

 

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

    July 4. 2020