December 2012 Archives

Year End Thoughts

| | Comments (0)


Some End of Year Frolic

| | Comments (0)

No really, the entire Sunday show is both hysterical, releasing and of course elevating. Good job, Nerdians!

Who said this and why is it true?

| | Comments (0)



Hate Pi? So do these folks


Obamacare will begin in 2013

| | Comments (0)

It begins in earnest in 2014 but 2013 wilol see major improvements in both accessibility and in quality of available care.

Kafka Sez

| | Comments (0)


Kicking Genius

| | Comments (0)

How to get an NFL try out as kicker.

And Today's Winner Is...

| | Comments (0)

A great article, "Explaining the brain of a killer", by NBC's Maggie Fox , drew this excellent comment:


Psych drugs are a problem - not just for people who kill. The difficulty, as someone mentioned, is brain chemistry. A drug that works great for one person may drive another off a cliff. A drug that has worked for a long time may suddenly drive a person to obsess on suicide. A drug used to combat depression can cause mania if someone is bipolar. Combine these side effects with a young man who is naturally going through the raging hormone phase and it can be deadly. I have also wondered about these drugs and the many military suicides, as well. The drugs can be helpful, and an adult may be able to recognize when symptoms go awry, a young person, especially one who is not self-aware, may not.

It sounds like his mother may have coddled her son also, and perhaps not used very good judgment. Getting a kid into guns when he has acknowledged mental health issues? This happened with Kip Kinkel in Springfield Oregon. Kid had problems, parents bought gun to give him "something to do," Kip kills parents, 2 at school and 20 wounded. This just doesn't make sense. I have also observed something else parents do that, I think, is a big one. Example. A friend's son would nag her when she said no. He would plead, mom said no. This would escalate until he was yelling and acting aggressive, when she would finally give in. "No" always meant to him bully her into "yes." I told her once she was raising a date rapist. Of course, she was pissed, but, surprise, he did become a date rapist, and served time. This is frustratingly common.

I'm totally against the kid having to fight the bully at school because bullies are often older and bigger. It is our responsibility as adults to create an atmosphere that is uncomfortable for bullies, and for parents and teachers to stop being sucked in by those manipulative, little "angels." Sure, fighting the bully can work sometimes, but it doesn't stop the bully, he or she just seeks a new victim. They, then, grow up to be bullying spouses/parents, bosses, or teachers. Yet, problem-solving doesn't seem to be a valued skill for many. In fact, if we really self-examined, we would probably find that parents have the capacity to be more dangerous than guns.

People seem to have the impression that just because they can give birth, they know how to be parents. I've seen this repeatedly, too. The other day in the grocery store, a woman had her toddler in the cart. He was holding his crotch and crying, "pee, mommy." She just kept sorting through the meat. There was a bathroom in the store. Finally I said, "mom, your son needs to pee, and you need to take him." She told me to mind my own business, and kept sorting. My grandma-mode kicked in and I told her to take her son to the bathroom now." She cussed me out all the way down the aisle at the top of her lungs. This was in a grocery store in an affluent neighborhood. Think she would have known better? Not hardly.

Parents need to drop their arrogance and self-righteousness, and work with others to raise good kids. Many raise them like they were taught, but we have much, much more knowledge about cognitive and emotional development than our parents ever did. Knowing this, I can't figure out why parents would allow video games or tv to be babysitters. We can raise children who are self-aware and compassionate. Kids who have activities and opportunities to succeed, whose minds and bodies are challenged, who receive guidance and are allowed to make mistakes and to deal with the consequences generally grow up to be pretty good adults. We have changed our behaviors many times as a society. Cigarettes, drinking and driving, seat belts, safety measures, nutrition, exercise, caring for the old, working conditions - all areas where as a society we said we wanted something better. We can change our attitudes about violence, as well. Violence and bullying address the lowest level of human consciousness. Some may want to stay in that world, many of us want society to evolve to higher levels of awareness.

Beyond the Mayan Calendar Thing

| | Comments (0)

When Prophecy Fails

by Paul Krugman

Back in the 1950s three social psychologists joined a cult that was predicting the imminent end of the world. Their purpose was to observe the cultists' response when the world did not, in fact, end on schedule. What they discovered ... is that the irrefutable failure of a prophecy does not cause true believers ... to reconsider. On the contrary, they become even more fervent, and proselytize even harder.

This insight seems highly relevant as 2012 draws to a close. After all, a lot of people came to believe that we were on the brink of catastrophe -- and these views were given extraordinary reach by the mass media. As it turned out..., the predicted catastrophe failed to materialize. But we can be sure that the cultists won't admit to having been wrong. No, the people who told us that a fiscal crisis was imminent will just keep at it, more convinced than ever.

Oh, wait a second -- did you think I was talking about the Mayan calendar thing?

Seriously, at every stage of our ongoing economic crisis -- and in particular, every time anyone has suggested actually trying to do something about mass unemployment -- a chorus of voices has warned that unless we bring down budget deficits now now now, financial markets will turn on America, driving interest rates sky-high. And ... very few of the prophets of fiscal doom have acknowledged the failure of their prophecies to come true so far. ...

I and other economists argued from the beginning that ... budget deficits won't cause soaring interest rates as long as the economy is depressed --... the biggest risk to the economy is that we might ... slash the deficit too soon. And surely that point of view has been strongly validated by events.

The key thing ... to understand, however, is that the prophets of fiscal disaster ... are at this point effectively members of a doomsday cult. They are emotionally and professionally committed to the belief that fiscal crisis lurks just around the corner, and they will hold to their belief no matter how many corners we turn without encountering that crisis.

So we ... will not persuade these people to reconsider their views in the light of the evidence. All we can do is stop paying attention. It's going to be difficult, because many members of the deficit cult seem highly respectable. But they've been hugely, absurdly wrong for years on end, and it's time to stop taking them seriously.

Richard Engles Excellent Adventure

| | Comments (0)

War correspondents are insane.

Sad the World Didn't End Today?

| | Comments (0)

Well, here's a story that might cheer you up.

Farmhand Accused of Sex Act With Miniature Donkey Wants Her Back

A Marion County farmhand accused of engaging in a sex act with a miniature donkey named Doodle says he wants her back, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.

Romero.jpgCarlos Romero, 31, pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty, and Judge Steven Rogers set his bail at $2,000, the newspaper reported.

Romero said he believes that authorities put him in protective custody at the Marion County Jail in a ploy to keep him away from the 21-month-old donkey, and he vowed to get her back, according to the Star-Banner.

"I want my donkey back. There's got to be due process here. I paid $500 for her," Romero said.

Farm proprietor Gerald Joseph James told authorities that he saw Romero having sex with the donkey in his room on the night of Aug. 15 - but Romero reportedly described to Marion County Sheriff's Office deputies how he had intimate contact but not intercourse with the animal, the Star-Banner reported.

Romero told the paper that he brought Doodle to the farm in northwest Marion County a few months ago, and said that he has always felt an attraction toward animals.

Romero said that he has had sex with horses many times since he was 18 and likes their "feminine shape, behavior and raw power," the Star-Banner reported.

He denied doing anything sexual to Doodle "because she's blooming into maturity," but acknowledged that he eventually would have, according to the Star-Banner.

Can we say "shameless" class?

Barack and the Kids

| | Comments (0)

He's like a brother you really admire and respect. His humanity is such a huge plus.


Obama gets caught in Spider-Man's web.

Eight-year old Make-A-Wish child Janiya Penny reacts after meeting President Barack Obama as he welcomes her family to the Oval Office

My hair is like your hair


Whisper it to me.


The race, the chase


The Adult in the Room

| | Comments (0)

The Bloody Hands of Wayne LaPierre

| | Comments (0)

We Will Not Be Safe

| | Comments (0)

Until we rid ourselves of the influence of these 2nd Amendment psychos.

Arm the Children

| | Comments (2)

Robert in Oregon commented:

Ah, thanks for the additional insights, folks. I think I am finally beginning to understand your thinking. Okay then, let me see if I understand the argument points some of you folks are making:

You need guns, ... because other folks out there have guns.

And as the other folks out there obtain more guns, then you need more guns too, ... to protect yourselves from those additional guns.

And, the mother of the gunman would have been much safer if she had kept one of her extensive collection of guns "on her person" at all times while in her own home ( even when sitting on the toilet, because ya just never know when the threat's gonna come, right? )

And you believe that the mother would have shot her own son to death the moment she felt threatened, and before he could pull the trigger ( I mean of course she would have, wouldn't ALL mothers shoot their own children to death to save themselves. Isn't that what mothers do? )

And these adults who died in the elementary school would have been safer if they too, all of the administrators, and secretaries and teachers in the school, were armed with guns.

And of course let's not forget the school custodians. The custodians should be armed, too, right? I mean, that's just common sense.

And of course the children too would have been much, much safer if all of them were armed with guns, right?

Ok, I'm fully up to speed. So now let's all sing the elementary school pro-gun song together in unison:

"A Glock Semi-Automatic 9mm pistol in every child's backpack!" ...

"A Sig Sauer Semi-Automatic 9mm pistol in every child's lunchbox!" ...

"A Bushmaster AR-15 .223 Semi-Automatic rifle in every child's hall locker!"

Wow, you're right, folks. That's a much more catchy tune for 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds than singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and "I'm a Little Teapot." I mean really, those kids need to grow up and see the world as it us.

YES!!! That's the ticket. Now we're talkin'. Because we all know the message by now, ...

that none of us will ever truly be safe ....until EVERY man, woman and child is packing!!!

Dedication of the Artist

| | Comments (0)

Matthew McConaughey on the set of "The Dallas Buyers Club."


Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

There's acting, and there's Method Acting, and then there's disappearing so far into a role that you become almost unrecognizable. Matthew McConaughey seems to be on the verge of that last one.

Earlier, we noted that McConaughey was on his way to losing 30 pounds to play Texan Ron Woodroof in the upcoming movie "The Dallas Buyers' Club." Woodroof, who died of AIDS in 1992, became famous for smuggling homeopathic HIV medications into the U.S.

But recent photos snapped on the set show that McConaughey has really slipped into his role. His face is beyond gaunt, his eyes sunken and red (granted, probably makeup), his arms toothpick-thin (we don't know why his jeans are undone).

According to the Daily Mail, one of Woodroof's sisters has trouble seeing the photos emerging from the film.

"It's hard to look back whenever you've lived through it; it's really hard to look back at something like that. So I don't look at the pictures that much," Sharon Woodroof Braden told the British paper. "The pictures of Matthew are breathtaking though. They look so like what Ronnie looked like when he was sick and how the disease progressed."

The Count

| | Comments (0)


Children: aggregate age 124

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6
  • Daniel Barden, 7
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7
  • Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
  • Dylan Hockley, 6
  • Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
  • Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
  • Chase Kowalski, 7
  • Jesse Lewis, 6
  • James Mattioli, 6
  • Grace McDonnell, 7
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack Pinto, 6
  • Noah Pozner, 6
  • Caroline Previdi, 6
  • Jessica Rekos, 6
  • Aviele Richman, 6
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6
  • Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Adults: aggregate age 241

  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47
  • Rachel Davino, 29
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52
  • Lauren Rousseau, 30
  • Mary Sherlach, 56
  • Victoria Soto, 27
One changes sides.

Mass Shootings Map

| | Comments (0)

Says it all...15 of 24 mass shootings over the last 50 years occurred in the US



Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States

by Ezra Klein

When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid "politicizing" the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for "don't talk about reforming our gun control laws."

Let's be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It's just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.

Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend's life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling "I am the shooter." And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead -- including 18 children -- after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation's security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. "Too soon," howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn't "too soon." It's much too late.

What follows here isn't a policy agenda. It's simply a set of facts -- many of which complicate a search for easy answers -- that should inform the discussion that we desperately need to have.

It's a trap!

| | Comments (0)

Petition to build Death Star will spark White House response

Let's face it: Funding a Death Star would push the federal budget off the fiscal cliff and into a fiscal Death Valley.

By Alan Boyle

The 25,000-plus signers of a "We the People" petition calling on the federal government to start building a Death Star by 2016 must be feeling as peppy as the Rebel Alliance, now that they've put their plea over the threshold that will trigger a response from the White House.

Campaigns on 4chan, Reddit and Twitter helped put it over the top with a day to spare. This means someone at the White House will have to take a good look at the Death Star issue and draw up a response (unless officials decide it would be improper to speak out on something that's more appropriately addressed by, say, the Defense Department, NASA or Lord Vader).

The rationale for securing the funding and resources to start construction was laid out in the petition, created on Nov. 14 by John D. of Longmont, Colo: "By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense."

Building the kind of moon-sized Death Star portrayed in the "Star Wars" saga would be a heck of a stimulus program, however. Earlier this year, Centives calculated the cost of the steel alone at $852 quadrillion, or roughly 13,000 times the world's gross domestic product. At the current rate of production, it would take more than 833,000 years to produce enough steel to begin work.

I'm afraid the White House's political deflector shield will be quite operational when that petition arrives.

When Republicans Understood Taxes

| | Comments (0)

The Gerrymander Threat

| | Comments (0)

Where's Bushie?

| | Comments (0)

The folks at had a bit of FUN collecting some of the more puzzling Bushisms, and this provides a clue to the way the people who call themselves "Republicans" view reality with respect to how gullible they think the common folk are, which is as insulting as it is mind-bogglingly pompous, really . . .


by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!


Home Brewed Tanks

| | Comments (0)

Syrian rebels unveil homemade armored vehicle

From a distance it looks rather like a big rusty metal box but closer inspection reveals the latest achievement of Syrian rebels: a homemade armored vehicle waiting to be deployed.

The Sham II is built from the chassis of a car and touted by rebels as '100 percent made in Syria'.


The fully-enclosed vehicle made from light steel is about four yards in length and two yards across, mounted with a 7.62 mm machine gun which is activated with a PlayStation-style controller from inside the cabin.

sham02.jpg.. .. sham03.jpg

The vehicle has five cameras: three at the front, one in the back and another attached to the gun. Read the full story.

Monkeys With Shoes

| | Comments (0)

Chris Hayes offers an enlightening interview with gay activist and author Dan Savage on the eve of his marriage to his long term partner in Washington.

Poetry to Transcend to the World

| | Comments (0)

Would you kill for a pair of Air Jordans? Lemon Andersen spins a tale of someone who did, reciting a poem by Reg E. Gaines. These verses taught Lemon that poetry could be about more than self-expression, and could sound like music when given rhythm and infused with the grit of the New York streets around him.

Lemon Andersen is a wordsmith who thinks deeply about the sounds of syllables.

Saudi America and the Oil Oligarchs

| | Comments (0)

Part 2

From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima

| | Comments (0)



A Musical Pioneer Bids Adieu

| | Comments (0)

My early boyhood (and still) great pal Michael Johnston and I explored the Time Out songs on his families funky upright piano when we were 8 or 9 years old. Mike had the score book and we took great delight in trying to decipher the music we both loved. The 9/8 and 5/4 meters were a perfect delight to us even then. To me Brubeck's music was the future and introduced me the idea of the possibilities of rhythmic asymmetrical beauty and tonal obliqueness.

I am bluer than the "turk" at his passing.

Dave Brubeck, jazz great, dead at 91

Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck, whose pioneering style in pieces such as "Take Five" caught listeners' ears with exotic, challenging rhythms, has died. He was 91.

Brubeck died Wednesday morning of heart failure after being stricken while on his way to a cardiology appointment with his son Darius, said his manager Russell Gloyd.

Gloyd told NBC News that Brubeck's son noticed that something was wrong with his father on the way to the doctor's appointment, called 911 while en route, and the two were met by medical personnel at the hospital.

"We couldn't keep his heart going," doctors told Brubeck's son.

Gloyd noted that prior to Brubeck's death, "He was getting tired; he was getting old. (But) he still had a great sense of humor."

Brubeck would have turned 92 on Thursday.

Brubeck had a career that spanned almost all American jazz since World War II. He formed The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and was the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine -- on Nov. 8, 1954 -- and he helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and '60s club jazz.

The seminal album "Time Out," released by the quartet in 1959, was the first ever million-selling jazz LP, and is still among the best-selling jazz albums of all time. It opens with "Blue Rondo a la Turk" in 9/8 time -- nine beats to the measure instead of the customary two, three or four beats.

A piano-and-saxophone whirlwind based loosely on a Mozart piece, "Blue Rondo" eventually intercuts between Brubeck's piano and a more traditional 4/4 jazz rhythm.

The album also features "Take Five" -- in 5/4 time -- which became the Quartet's signature theme and even made the Billboard singles chart in 1961. It was composed by Brubeck's longtime saxophonist, Paul Desmond.

"When you start out with goals -- mine were to play polytonally and polyrhythmically -- you never exhaust that," Brubeck told The Associated Press in 1995. "I started doing that in the 1940s. It's still a challenge to discover what can be done with just those two elements."

After service in World War II and study at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., Brubeck formed an octet including Desmond on alto sax and Dave van Kreidt on tenor, Cal Tjader on drums and Bill Smith on clarinet. The group played Brubeck originals and standards by other composers, including some early experimentation in unusual time signatures. Their groundbreaking album "Dave Brubeck Octet" was recorded in 1946.

The group evolved into the Quartet, which played colleges and universities. The Quartet's first album, "Jazz at Oberlin," was recorded live at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1953.

Ten years later, Joe Morello on drums and Eugene Wright on bass joined with Brubeck and Desmond to produce "Time Out."

A Liberal Reverie

| | Comments (0)

Go Elizabeth! - that's all I have to say.

Nightmare on Wall Street: Warren gains Banking Committee seat

Jane C. Timm

elizabethwarren.jpgTwo years ago, Wall Street chased Elizabeth Warren off the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau that she'd proposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Her Wall Street haters then followed her into the hotly contested Massachusetts Senate race, pouring money into her opponent's coffers in hopes of keeping her out of office.

Now, in spite of her opponents' efforts, Warren will take a seat on the Banking Committee where she will oversee the implementation of Dodd-Frank and other banking regulations, the Huffington Post reported, according to four sources.

Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, will leave the committee at the end of this year, so Democrats have two committee spots to fill before the next Congress begins. Wall Street reportedly pushed hard to keep Warren off the committee.

Requests for comment to Warren, Sen. Harry Reid, and Sen. Jack Reed, a banking committee member who pushed for Warren's appointment, were not immediately returned.


| | Comments (0)

If you're a Jets fan understand.

This one is a real pleasure to behold:

Revealing the Con in Conservative

| | Comments (0)

The Big Budget Mumble

By Paul Krugman

In the ongoing battle of the budget, President Obama has done something very cruel. Declaring that this time he won't negotiate with himself, he has refused to lay out a proposal reflecting what he thinks Republicans want. Instead, he has demanded that Republicans themselves say, explicitly, what they want. And guess what: They can't or won't do it.

No, really. While there has been a lot of bluster from the G.O.P. about how we should reduce the deficit with spending cuts, not tax increases, no leading figures on the Republican side have been able or willing to specify what, exactly, they want to cut.

And there's a reason for this reticence. The fact is that Republican posturing on the deficit has always been a con game, a play on the innumeracy of voters and reporters. Now Mr. Obama has demanded that the G.O.P. put up or shut up -- and the response is an aggrieved mumble.

Here's where we are right now: As his opening bid in negotiations, Mr. Obama has proposed raising about $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade, with the majority coming from letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire and the rest from measures to limit tax deductions. He would also cut spending by about $400 billion, through such measures as giving Medicare the ability to bargain for lower drug prices.

Republicans have howled in outrage. Senator Orrin Hatch, delivering the G.O.P. reply to the president's weekly address, denounced the offer as a case of "bait and switch," bearing no relationship to what Mr. Obama ran on in the election. In fact, however, the offer is more or less the same as Mr. Obama's original 2013 budget proposal and also closely tracks his campaign literature.

So what are Republicans offering as an alternative? They say they want to rely mainly on spending cuts instead. Which spending cuts? Ah, that's a mystery. In fact, until late last week, as far as I can tell, no leading Republican had been willing to say anything specific at all about how spending should be cut.

The veil lifted a bit when Senator Mitch McConnell, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, finally mentioned a few things -- raising the Medicare eligibility age, increasing Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries and changing the inflation adjustment for Social Security. But it's not clear whether these represent an official negotiating position -- and in any case, the arithmetic just doesn't work.

Satellite shows a Grander Canyon

| | Comments (0)


This view of the eastern part of the Grand Canyon is based on data acquired by the ASTER instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite on July 14, 2011.

click pic to enlarge


Finally...beyond the hysteria.

part 2 & britney duo

| | Comments (0)

A lot of people are down on it for being meaningless, but I think they're wrong and like it.
also, is doing some great arranging on this.

I first heard:
"We sayin' we know we owe we owe we owe..."

will sez: "We sayin' Oh we oh we oh we oh..." --- Either way in mho

The video is a perfect testament to's genius to forge smart tech and people beat feel into one stylishly accessible vision. Kudos just for that.

Wiki Funding Drive

| | Comments (0)

Please help Wikipedia with a donation of any sort.

wiki.jpgDear Wikipedia readers: We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 150 staff but serve 450 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind, a place we can all go to think and learn.

To keep it that way, we'll never run ads. We receive no government funds. We run on donations averaging about $30. If everyone reading this gave the price of a cup of coffee, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.

Jefferson the Adamant Slaver

| | Comments (0)

Thomas Jefferson is in the news again, nearly 200 years after his death -- alongside a high-profile biography by the journalist Jon Meacham comes a damning portrait of the third president by the independent scholar Henry Wiencek where Jefferson is cast as racist jerk.

The Monster of Monticello

By Paul Finkelman

We are endlessly fascinated with Jefferson, in part because we seem unable to reconcile the rhetoric of liberty in his writing with the reality of his slave owning and his lifetime support for slavery. Time and again, we play down the latter in favor of the former, or write off the paradox as somehow indicative of his complex depths.

Neither Mr. Meacham, who mostly ignores Jefferson's slave ownership, nor Mr. Wiencek, who sees him as a sort of fallen angel who comes to slavery only after discovering how profitable it could be, seem willing to confront the ugly truth: the third president was a creepy, brutal hypocrite.

Contrary to Mr. Wiencek's depiction, Jefferson was always deeply committed to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were shaped not only by money and status but also by his deeply racist views, which he tried to justify through pseudoscience.

There is, it is true, a compelling paradox about Jefferson: when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, announcing the "self-evident" truth that all men are "created equal," he owned some 175 slaves. Too often, scholars and readers use those facts as a crutch, to write off Jefferson's inconvenient views as products of the time and the complexities of the human condition.

But while many of his contemporaries, including George Washington, freed their slaves during and after the revolution -- inspired, perhaps, by the words of the Declaration -- Jefferson did not. Over the subsequent 50 years, a period of extraordinary public service, Jefferson remained the master of Monticello, and a buyer and seller of human beings.

Rather than encouraging his countrymen to liberate their slaves, he opposed both private manumission and public emancipation. Even at his death, Jefferson failed to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric: his will emancipated only five slaves, all relatives of his mistress Sally Hemings, and condemned nearly 200 others to the auction block. Even Hemings remained a slave, though her children by Jefferson went free.

Nor was Jefferson a particularly kind master. He sometimes punished slaves by selling them away from their families and friends, a retaliation that was incomprehensibly cruel even at the time. A proponent of humane criminal codes for whites, he advocated harsh, almost barbaric, punishments for slaves and free blacks. Known for expansive views of citizenship, he proposed legislation to make emancipated blacks "outlaws" in America, the land of their birth. Opposed to the idea of royal or noble blood, he proposed expelling from Virginia the children of white women and black men.

Jefferson also dodged opportunities to undermine slavery or promote racial equality. As a state legislator he blocked consideration of a law that might have eventually ended slavery in the state.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2012 is the previous archive.

January 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.