Rape is Wrong

English: Stylized handcuffs. Português: Algema...
English: Stylized handcuffs. Português: Algemas estilizadas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rape is Wrong

 

 

If you go down the page you will see a article from the Huffington Post in which an attorney suggests, I suppose the best way to put it, is that in the current case of the Missouri teen, that she was to blame. This makes me very angry. Bizarrely enough, I think you shouldn’t take advantage of 14 year old girls.

 

I think that it is obvious that rape is wrong but it apparently in many people’s minds carries a lot of caveats. Apparently that caveated definition always begins with the phrase: “What did she expect…”, which I have been hearing now for a good thirty years. This is often followed, in no particular order – when she dressed like that, – when she got into the car with him, – when she drank that much, – when she flirted like that, – when she went to his apartment at two in the morning, etc. You can probably think of a few I missed.

 

Raping women is wrong. Let me throw a little radical thought your way. Rape is a crime. It is not punishment for women’s misbehavior. It is a crime for which the perpetrator should go to prison. It is not a crime of passion, it is an assertion of power by a male without character or breeding.

 

And let me add these little thoughts –

 

A gentleman does not have sex with an unconscious woman.

 

A gentleman does not get a woman drunk to avoid getting her consent.

 

A gentleman realizes that no matter how a lady is dressed, how late it is, how drunk she is, that his duty is to protect and honor, all the time, every time.

 

James Pilant

 

Joseph DiBenedetto: ‘I’m Not Saying She Deserved To Be Raped, But…’

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/joseph-dibenedetto-rape-missouri-teen_n_4118899.html

 

“What did she expect to happen at one in the morning after sneaking out?” attorney Joseph DiBenedetto said on Shephard Smith Reports. “I’m not saying — assuming that these facts are accurate and this did happen — I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but knowing the facts as we do here including what the prosecutor has set forth, this case is going nowhere and it\’s going nowhere quick.”

 

Shep Smith immediately jumped in and refuted his claims.

 

“What you’ve done, Joseph, is taken an alleged victim of rape and turned her into a liar and a crime committer,” he said. “That’s a far jump from a 1,000 miles away.\”

 

via Joseph DiBenedetto: ‘I’m Not Saying She Deserved To Be Raped, But…’.

From around the web.

From the web site, Rape in the Military.

http://rapecultureinthemilitary.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/rape-in-the-military/

I call this an epidemic in our military because the numbers are staggering. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women in the military are sexually assaulted. (McDonough) A March 26 report by the Institute of Medicine said sexual assault and rape have “been occurring at high rates throughout U.S. armed forces, including the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.” (Maze) The DOD (Department of Defense) estimated that last year around 19,000 service members are sexually assaulted each year. Thousands of our brave soldiers are being assaulted by their fellow brothers and sisters. The psychological damage of being betrayed by someone you are supposed to trust with your life has to be incredibly scarring.

 

The military even has a term for those who are suffering from the effects of sexual assault; it is called MST (Military Sexual Trauma). The military has reports done every year, and they have a division SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office) that handles policies and training around sexual assault crimes. So why are the numbers so high? “Only a small fraction of the incidents, 3,192 in 2011, are reported, and a mere 10 percent of those cases proceed to trial — hardly enough to create meaningful deterrence to criminal behavior and establish accountability.”(NYT Editorial)

 

Josh Barro Clobbers Niall Ferguson

 

Josh Barro Clobbers Niall Ferguson

 

In spite of our dramatically different political views, Josh Barro is beginning to grow on me. Certainly, this is just delightful, some good rhetorical punches are being thrown here!

 

James Pilant

 

Panelist Economic Historian Niall Ferguson at ...
Panelist Economic Historian Niall Ferguson at “Special World Debate” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Niall Ferguson uses Twitter science to prove he’s better than everyone.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2013/10/15/niall_ferguson_uses_twitter_science_to_prove_he_s_better_than_everyone.html

 

The reason Ferguson wants to talk about civility is that he can\’t talk about not being full of crap. Ferguson trades on his academic credentials to write popular articles that contain misleading and false claims. His writing causes readers to come away with a worse understanding of the economy than they entered with. He is changing the world for the worse.

 

My contention is not that we haven\’t been uncivil to Ferguson. We definitely have. My contention is that he deserves it.

 

via Niall Ferguson uses Twitter science to prove he’s better than everyone..

From around the web.

From the web site, The Inverse Square (This is a fun web site – please go visit. jp).

https://inversesquare.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/very-serious-person-niall-ferguson-haz-a-sad/

Too much to do today to go all John Foster Dulles on Harvard’s Folly, but I can’t leave this without noting that if Niall’s honestly not scared of Krugman (he is), he should be.

 

Cases in point here and here and here and here.  This isn’t a fair fight.  Ferguson has the debate chops and the accent, but nothing else. Krugman has both technical skill and the willingness to engage actual data to gut the Harvard Bully Boy on the actual merits of the argument.  That Ferguson plays better on TV is his reason for being, but not a recommendation.  (BTW — for a devastating synoptic view of Ferguson’s style and (lack of) substance — and his pure nastiness in the service of the 1%, check out this overview.)

 

 

Niall Ferguson Gets Return Fire

English: The ten largest economies in the worl...
English: The ten largest economies in the world and the European Union in 2008, measured in GDP PPP (millions of USD), according to the International Monetary Fund. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

I read the Huffington Post almost every day. Niall Ferguson has written three attacks on Paul Krugman which have appeared in that publication which has me wondering about what’s going on? I was under the impression that Ferguson’s hit piece on Obama has been so awful that his credibility had taken a substantial hit but apparently not a substantial enough hit for the Huffpost not to publish him. I find Ferguson’s beliefs appalling, his attacks on Krugman ridiculous and I am pleased that so many are firing back at Ferguson’s attacks. Here is one from the web site, Beat the Press.

James Pilant

The Ravings of Niall Ferguson, the Real World, and the Needless Suffering of Tens of Millions | Beat the Press

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/the-ravings-of-niall-ferguson-the-real-world-and-the-needless-suffering-of-tens-of-millions

But it is hardly worth wasting time and killing electrons in a tit for tat with Ferguson. What matters is the underlying issues of economic policy. These affect the lives of billions of people. The absurdities pushed by Ferguson and like-minded people in positions of power, in direct defiance of massive evidence to the contrary, have ruined millions of lives and cost the world more than $10 trillion in lost output since the crisis began.

First, contrary to what Ferguson claims, the downturn is not primarily a “financial crisis.” The story of the downturn is a simple story of a collapsed housing bubble. The $8 trillion housing bubble was driving demand in the U.S. economy in the last decade until it collapsed in 2007. When the bubble burst we lost more than 4 percentage points of GDP worth of demand due to a plunge in residential construction. We lost roughly the same amount of demand due to a falloff in consumption associated with the disappearance of $8 trillion in housing wealth. (FWIW, none of this was a surprise to folks who follow the economy with their eyes open. I warned of this disaster beginning in 2002, see also here and here.)

The collapse of the bubble created a hole in annual demand equal to 8 percent of GDP%

via The Ravings of Niall Ferguson, the Real World, and the Needless Suffering of Tens of Millions | Beat the Press.

From around the web.

From the web site, This is Ashok.

http://ashokarao.com/2013/10/06/the-three-contradictions-of-niall-ferguson/

As I have documented in detail before,

Niall Ferguson’s grand theory is devoted to a time of big government,

but of a different kind. He yearns for the day when big governments

taxed the poor to finance colonial adventures and fought with each other

for glory and nothing else. Indeed, as he’s written before, he yearns

for the day when “Britannia bestrode the globe”.

We today owe our intellectual and humanitarian heritage to Franklin

Roosevelt. Not because he vindicated principles of easy money or public

finance. Not because he vindicated principles of modern liberalism. But –

for the first time in the history of our nation and all nations – he

demonstrated that government can exist for the great benefit of the many

at the minor cost of the few. For almost a century both political

parties have lived by this end, if disagreeing on the means.

There is an ideology that accommodates the worst of efficient

markets, supply side economics, and neoliberal economists like Milton

Friedman. It is called right wing hackery, with Niall Ferguson as its

high priest.

Stephen Heynmann and Misconduct?

 

Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz

Stephen Heynmann and Misconduct?

Aaron Swartz Lawyers Accuse Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Of Misconduct

Federal prosecutor Stephen Heymann engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by withholding key evidence from the defense team of Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist’s legal team alleged in a letter to an internal Justice Department ethics unit.

Heymann took the lead in the much-criticized effort to imprison Swartz, who committed suicide in January, and was the attorney who handled the case on a day-to-day basis, reporting to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. Swartz’ attorney Eliot Peters has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), a step that indicates just how egregious the defense team considers Heymann’s professional behavior. A redacted version of the letter was obtained by The Huffington Post.

In the document, Peters argues that Heymann withheld exculpatory evidence. At issue was whether the federal government had properly obtained a warrant to search Swartz’ computer and thumb drive. Peters argued that the government failed by waiting more than a month to obtain the warrant. Heymann countered that he couldn’t get a warrant because he didn’t have access to the equipment. But an email in Heymann’s possession, which was written to Heymann himself, showed that assertion to be untrue.

In an email that was not provided to the defense team until the last minute, Michael Picket, a Secret Service agent, wrote to Heymann on Jan. 7, “I am prepared to take custody of the laptop anytime after it has been processed for prints or whenever you feel is appropriate. As far as I know no one has sought a warrant for the examination of the computer, the cell phone that was on his person or the 8gb flash drive that was in his backpack.” It would be more than a month before Heymann obtained a warrant -– far too long, in Peters’ estimation, which means that the evidence found on the laptop could have become inadmissible.

Aaron Swartz Lawyers Accuse Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Of Misconduct

Chalking up kills is for fighter pilot’s not prosecutors.

James Pilant

From around the web –

From the web site, Forecasting the World:

In an appalling 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed and even strengthened prosecutorial immunity, extending it from personal immunity to a stronger form of agency immunity as well. This means the government can now do anything and they will not be subject to the laws – EVER! The case is Connick v Thompson (2011), where Connick is the former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick, Sr. (the singer’s father) and Thompson is John Thompson, a man falsely convicted of murder because Connick’s office hid a report that ultimately exonerated him so the prosecutor would not have to admit a mistake. On top of that – they were trying to execute an innocent man to cover up their misconduct.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-571.pdf

The prosecutors admitted that they deliberately withheld evidence. There is no controversy over whether they violated the law and their ethical obligations and railroaded an innocent man and they were prepared to legally murder him since he was only weeks away from being executed for that crime he did not commit when the report that proved his innocence was finally discovered and used to overturn his conviction. Is this not attempted murder?

From the web site, Jonathan Turley:

District judge Ken Anderson of Williamson County, Texas is now formally under investigation for his alleged role in a gross injustice as a prosecutor. It is an all-too-rare case where a former prosecutor is actually called to account for an injustice. In this case, an innocent man, Michael Morton (shown here), now 58, was wrongly convicted in 1987 for the murder of his wife. Prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence showing that his son clearly stated that it was not his father. Instead, they took a tragic murder of a mother and magnified it by incarcerating the grieving father. Anderson was later selected as “Prosecutor of the Year.” We previously discussed the case.

From the web site, Leaksource:

The prosecution didn’t just show poor judgment in its prosecution of Aaron. In addition, Steve Heymann actively broke the law and violated Aaron’s constitutional rights. Below, you can read the details, but the basic outline is that Heymann withheld evidence that would have been helpful to Aaron’s defense, and that he was legally and ethically bound to hand over from the very beginning of the case, until December 2012 — almost two years after Aaron was arrested.

A few additional notes to the release: Heymann appears to be lying to the DOJ, or else the DOJ is lying to Congress, about when Heymann turned over the exculpatory evidence in question. Ryan Grim reports that DOJ is insisting that Heymann turned over the exculpatory evidenceduring the status conference in December, rather than after. But I was there, and that is a lie.

 

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Chained CPI

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...
Seal of the United States Social Security Administration. It appears on Social Security cards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

006cFrom the Huffington Post, authored by Sabrina Siddiqui and Mike McAuliff.

The chained CPI works by assuming that when the price of a product, such as beef, gets too high, consumers don’t keep paying the higher prices. Instead, the model predicts they will switch to something cheaper, such as chicken, keeping their cost of living lower and leading to a lower rate of inflation, as measured by the chained CPI. The lower rate of inflation would mean a downward adjustment in cost of living, and thus stingier benefits.

The cuts would start small, but wind up costing beneficiaries thousands of dollars over time, which is why Democrats have traditionally fought the idea.

But Pelosi wrapped both her arms around it Wednesday, insisting she does not regard it as a “cut.”

“No, I don’t,” she told reporters. “I consider it a strengthening of Social Security, but that’s neither here nor there.”

Later in the article, there is this quote:

That logic, however, is only ever applied to entitlement programs that have their own revenue streams. Nobody would attempt to argue that the military was strengthened by cutting its budget, or that education was strengthened by slashing funding for it.

Social Security was created in the 1930s to combat elderly poverty. It worked: Giving money to older Americans made them less poor. Shrinking benefits would correspondingly lower their standards of living.

“Strengthen the Program?” Since Social Security has the resources to be fully paid up until 2038 if the American economy grows at about a 2% rate I don’t understand why there is a crisis. Why are we penalizing the elderly by reducing already budgeted and paid for benefits? Is it ethical?

No, it’s not. Those people on benefits and people who have paid into the system deserve what they have paid for. This is a form of theft. If the program were in fiscal trouble, this would be a different matter but it is not.

What’s going on here? The federal government pays out more money than it takes in on taxes on every program but social security. So by what logic, is social security a legitimate target for budget cuts?

James Pilant

Here are other comment from the web –

From the Huffington Post:

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) said Tuesday that one part of a potential deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” is actually “a stealth way to give people less” and that he and other members of the House Progressive Caucus won’t vote for any plan that includes it.

“It’s a bad idea and it’s a stealth way to give people less,” Ellison told HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski. “And, so we’re saying we’re not gonna do it. It is a benefit cut — and here’s the real problem with it being a benefit cut: It would be absolutely horrible if it were a benefit cut but the cut was designed to extend the life of Social Security and to make the program more solvent. But that’s not why they’re doing it. They’re doing it so that they can preserve somebody else to have a tax cut and to not raise taxes on the top 2 percent.”

From the web site, aluation – (This is a strong comment, and I would like you to go to the site and read it in full.)

Commenter extraordinaire anne at Economist’s View posted a very helpful brief from Alan Barber and Nicole Woo of the CEPR on the disaster that a switch to the chained CPI poses for those dependent on Social Security, and less obviously, on the middle class in general.

Here’s a nice one from the web site, Poverty and Policy by Kathryn Baer.

The chained CPI attempts to reflect consumers’ behavior in response to prices as well as prices themselves — specifically the fact that people change their buying habits when prices rise. When beef prices increase, they buy less steak and more chicken, etc.

A switch to this CPI would thus slow benefits growth. But would it accurately reflect retirees’ living costs? Apparently not.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been maintaining an experimental CPI for elderly Americans for about 30 years now. It’s found that the index rises somewhat faster than the CPI-W, mainly because seniors spend a greater share of their budgets on health care, housing and, to a lesser extent, heating oil.

The average gap between the indexes isn’t great for any one year, but it mounts up over time. Switch to an index that rises more slowly than the CPI-W and the gap between living costs and benefits increases.

This is from Universal Values Advisors Market Insights: (This is a more in-depth analysis.)

The reality is that, like much of what comes out of Washington, the “Chained-CPI” concept is neither new nor more accurate. This chain-weighted concept is just another step in a series of steps that began in 1980 aimed at changing the CPI concept from one that measures the cost of maintaining “a constant standard of living” to measuring, really, not much at all, as I will explain later. The real purpose of altering the methodology is twofold: 1. To reduce the reported increase in inflation for political reasons; and 2. To lower future federal budget costs of Social Security, Medicare and government pensions by lowering the COLA adjustments without having to haveCongress vote for those or the administration sign it into law. Just note, however, what class bears the biggest burden of this – seniors and retirees.

 

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Stoicism, A Philosophy for Tough Times?

Stoicism, A Philosophy for Tough Times?

Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni writing in the Huffington Post describe why Stoicism is still relevant today. I selected a passage from their first reason that the philosophy was designed for tough times. I’ve read Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, so I’m familiar with Stoicism but I don’t believe endurance is enough but otherwise I admire stoicism and find its practitioners admirable.

James Pilant

Roman Emperor and Stoicism

Five Reasons Why Stoicism Matters Today

Stoicism was born in a world falling apart. Invented in Athens just a few decades after Alexander the Great’s conquests and premature death upended the Greek world, Stoicism took off because it offered security and peace in a time of warfare and crisis. The Stoic creed didn’t promise material security or a peace in the afterlife; but it did promise an unshakable happiness in this life. 

Stoicism tells us that no happiness can be secure if it’s rooted in changeable, destructible things. Our bank accounts can grow or shrink, our careers can prosper or falter, even our loved ones can be taken from us. There is only one place the world can’t touch: our inner selves, our choice at every moment to be brave, to be reasonable, to be good.

The world might take everything from us; Stoicism tells us that we all have a fortress on the inside. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus, who was born a slave and crippled at a young age, wrote: “Where is the good? In the will…If anyone is unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone.”

While it’s natural to cry out at pain, the Stoic works to stay indifferent to everything that happens on the outside, to stay equally happy in times of triumph and disaster. It’s a demanding way of life, but the reward it offers is freedom from passion — freedom from the emotions that so often seem to control us, when we should control them. A real Stoic isn’t unfeeling. But he or she does have a mastery of emotions, because Stoicism recognizes that fear or greed or grief only enter our minds when we willingly let them in.

A teaching like that seems designed for a world on edge, whether it’s the chaotic world of ancient Greece, or a modern financial crisis. But then, Epictetus would say that — as long as we try to place our happiness in perishable things — our worlds are always on edge.

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Liar and Slanderer, Joe Kernen

CNBC Host Joe Kernen: Paul Krugman Is A Communist

“They quoted Paul Krugman and this other idiot, Dean Baker, who’s some guy, I don’t even know who he is, he always writes for The Huffington Post. Basically co-communists in a lot of different economic circles,” Kernen said on Monday. “You know, fact-checkers need fact-checking now. They’re so full of crap. These fact-checkers lie more than the people that they’re fact-checking.”

CNBC Host Joe Kernen: Paul Krugman Is A Communist

Kernan takes CNBC to a new low with his Joe McCarthy antics. I read both Krugman and Baker every day. Their fact checking is solid and even more solid is their status as American Capitalists and patriots. This vicious windbag needs firing. Where would a network find a person like Joe Kernen and believe these kinds of thoughts provide “significant” commentary? They more resemble the rantings of beer soaked bar patron muttering at the television.

It’s the same old thing. When the facts are with you, you cite the facts, when the facts are against you, you pound the table.

This is table pounding, and pathetic table pounding at that.

James Pilant

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Why Don’t We Just Govern the U.S. with the Default Settings from SimCity?

Because it’s just a video game with the scantiest connections to reality?

First, some background –

Herman Cain 999 Plan: Did It Come From SimCity?

Herman Cain Stole 9-9-9 Plan From SimCity?

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan Straight Out of SimCity?

That’s right. There is considerable speculation that the current Republican front runner got his inspiration for his tax policy from a eleven year old video game. I’m a little disturbed by this. I was under the impression that economic policy was important. However, all that it seems to take to become a front runner for the nomination is a catchy phrase like 9-9-9 borrowed from a “non-economist.”

However, it does offer some interesting possibilities. You could set up an economic policy where everyone got 200 dollars for passing “GO.” Although where you would put “GO” might be controversial.

Alternately, you could grow up insulated from the real world in a vault hundreds of feet beneath the earth and have to enter the outside world at the age of 18 in a bright blue jump suit with a medium size pistol and a wrist computer (Fallout 3).

Oh, well – you get the picture. Maybe the fantasy world of video gaming should have some distance from being used in the real world as economic policy? However, if you would like to build your own version of the U.S. economy, and set up your own fancy numbers – here is a link for SimCity –

Here’s where you can download Sim City 2000!!

Maybe you could go with 7/11/11?

James Pilant

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Why Young Adults Are Walking Away From Church by Christian Piatt

In a column in Huffington Post, Christian Piatt discusses the why behind the exodus of the young from church.

Here’s my favorite paragraph –

Alisa Harris’ memoir, “Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics,” reflects on the apparent cultural, spiritual and economic desert time in which we find ourselves. We have witnessed the carnage of a financial system that was intended to perpetually buoy a nation, but whose “invisible hand” has instead crushed the dreams of millions. We’ve watched as the two-headed political serpent attacks itself until it is impotent. We’ve seen religious figures scandalize their institutions empty, as a generation walks away in search of something more relevant to their daily struggle.

Church attendance has fallen dramatically over the last twenty years. In 2005, Protestants represented half those practicing a religion in the United States for the first time.

What’s going on?

I see two trends. The mainline Protestant churches continue to bleed membership. The evangelical movement has hit a wall in recruitment and can neither maintain its growth and or maintain its current numbers. The second trend is new. I suspect that it has a great deal to do with the impact of the political action on a church organization. It is probably a delight to go out and organize precincts handing out conservative literature instead of sitting through a boring sermon, after all, politics is a lot easier than Christianity. But for many the Christian call remains a powerful inducement and a church that acts as a political action committee has little time for gospel issues.

I do not see these trends reversing although I suspect the mainline bleed has to end at some point.

James Pilant

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Catherine Crier Attacks Conservative Dogma About Adam Smith

Adam Smith; engraving
Image via Wikipedia

In an article in Huffington Post, Catherine Crier finds the Tea Party and Conservative view of Adam Smith and his doctrines to be ridiculous. In her interpretation (and mine), Adam Smith was at one with the principles of the mixed economy, that is, some regulation and some economic freedom. Here’s two key paragraphs –

Just as Jeffersonian democracy operates best on a small scale, Adam Smith believed his self-correcting free markets were ideal for small businesses in a domestic economy. Integrated in their communities, these businesses would be influenced directly by the needs and demands of consumers, and any dangerous or abusive conduct would rarely affect the broader economy. But Smith treated large, powerful companies very differently. He said big business was led by “an order of men…that generally have an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public”, and he referred to powerful corporations (then known as joint stock companies) as “unaccountable sovereigns” that were as dangerous to free markets as tyrannical governments. Unrestrained, they had the power to shape society and governments for their own purposes, and consumers would pay for “all the extraordinary profits” while suffering from “all the extraordinary waste”, the inherent fraud and abuse, that accompanies such immense economic power.

Smith stated emphatically that a strong government, acting through democratic and legal institutions, was the only entity capable of challenging such corporate power. Smith supported necessary government regulations, labor and human rights, public education, and progressive taxation to ease the economic and social inequities he knew would occur in a capitalist system. Without these “liberal” measures, social and political unrest would threaten a nation’s stability and his free market economy could not survive.

I have often been surprised what conservative say writers mean and what I read when I study the same text. She appears to have had the same experience. Few individuals read the Great Works of the Western World with any focus. The material is difficult and often lengthy as well but the Great Books are worth the effort.

I have long been a fan of Robert Maynard Hutchins and his belief in the importance of books and skilled reading. I have read almost a third of the books he lists at the end of his book, “How to Read a Book.” Let’s have more reading and understanding and less dogma.

James Pilant

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