Bulletin Daily Paper 10-12-14

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2014 • THE BULLETIN

F3

OMMENTARY

Frenc Revoution: Our new mo e? A

t the end of the 18th century, therewere two great Western

revolutions — the American

and the French. Americans opted for

the freedom of the individual and divinely endowed absolute rights and values.

A quite different French version sought equality of result. French firebrandssaw laws less as absolute,

but instead as useful to the degree that they contributed to supposed social justice and coerced redistribu-

tion. They ended up not with a Bill of Rights and separation of powers, but instead with mass executions and

Napoleonic tyranny. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is following more the

Suddenly, right-wing video maker

VICTOR

DAVIS

be blamed. He alone had incited ordinary Libyans to spontaneously riot

tor with the president of the United States. Shots were fired at the White

House. Agents were caught soliciting prostitutes while on duty in South

— a useful teachable moment for the administration to muzzle such reac-

America. Official stories change to fit larger tionary firebrands. agendas.One day the White House "absurd." Former Director of HomeThe Justice Department was sup- has full confidence in Secret Service land Security Janet Napolitano once posed to be blind in matters of dass, Director Julia Pierson, the next day warned thatreturning veterans and race,gender and religion.Yet,under she is gone. One day leaving Iraq was right-wingers were the chief do- Attorney General Eric Holder, if se- the president's stellar achievement, mestic terrorist threats, not Islamic lective nonenforcement of elements the next day someone else did it. We jihadists. of the Affordable Care Act, immigra- are at war and not at war with the The IRS has lost its nonpartisan tion statutes or conduct at voting pre- Islamic State — both a manageable reputation by hounding perceived cincts might further perceptions of problem of some jayvees and an exisideological enemies. It no longer social justice, then the law was often tential threat. The Free Syrian Army abides by the historic standardsignored. is both a fantasy and plagued by amtransparency, rapid submission of Why would the Federal Aviation ateurs and yet the linchpin of our new documents, honesty — that it de- Administration shut down flights to strategy on the ground against the Is-

HANSON

French model than the American. mands from those it audits. Suddenly, once-nonpartisan fedThe role of U.S. Immigration and eral bureaucracies have become Customs Enforcement once was to catalysts for fundamentally trans- enforce federal statutes established forming America. Often-ideological by Congress and signed by the presbureaucrats have forgotten their ident. Border patrol agents were not original mission. NASA might do supposed to become agents of social better to ensure that our astronauts change to nullify settled laws by are independent of Vladimir Putin's noncompliance. Russian rockets rather than claimAlmost immediately, it was clear ing that its primary mission is to that the 2012 attack on the U.S. Conreach out to the Muslim community. sulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a Intelligence directors vie with planned attack by an al-Qaida terrorone another to p l ease superiors ist affiliate. But that truth did not fit with fatuous but politically correct the re-election narrative that al-Qaida analysis. Director of National In- was on the run.

telligence James Clapper assured

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was to

us that the Muslim Brotherhood in

In response, public servants such as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and

Egypt was largely secular. CIA Di-

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

rector John Brennan once termed a

fabricatedpreferable scenarios— in now-emerging Islamic caliphate as service supposedly to a good cause.

THOMAS

FRIEDMAN

Congress is running on empty

t

'm sure there are many technical explanations for the recent break-

downs inSecret Service protec-

tion that allowed an armed intruder

to run right through the front door of the White House and an armed felon to ride on an elevator with President

Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv — the

lamic State. most secure in the world — because We are back to the daily revisionof one stray rocket? Hamas leader- ism of the Affordable Care Act, keep-

Barack Obama. But I'd also put some blame on the nation's political class.

ship hailed the Obama administra- ing and notkeepingyour doctor and tion's move as proof that their aerial health plan, with deductibles and prebarrages were shutting off Israel from nuums gomg down and gong up. the Western world. Stoppingthe fracking of gas and oil

and listen to what politicians are saying and watch how they spend their

I n contrast, the FA A

has not

on federal lands is good, but so is the

stopped flights to and from Liberia

cheaper gas that frackingbrings. Once-nonpartisan federal agen-

and other West African countries, the

source of the Ebola virus epidemic. Is cies are now in service to the goal of it more dangerous for Americans to changing America from cherishing have opentravelto and from Israel, or an equality of opportunity to champito and from Liberia'? oning an equality of enforced result. What has happened to the Secret Our revolutionary inspirations Service? are now Georges Danton, Jean-Paul An intruder bounded onto the Marat and Maximilien de RobespiWhite House grounds, entered the erre, not the Founding Founders. White House and bowled over a Se— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist cret Service agent. A former felon, and historian at the Hoover Institution, fully armed, climbed into an elevaStanford University.

Earth's shape? Is it a tomato or eggplant?

Just look at Washington these days time. You can't help but ask: Do these

people care a whit about the country anymore? Is there anybody here on a quest for excellence, for making America great'? Yes, yes, I know. They're all here to do "public service." But that is not

what it looks like. It actually looks as if they came to Washington to get electedso they could raise more mon-

ey to get re-elected. That is, until they don't get re-elected. Then, like the for-

mer House majority leader, Eric Cantor, they can raise even more money by cashing in their time on Capitol Hill for a job and a multimillion-dollar

payday from a Wall Street investment bank they used to regulate. Getting elected and raising money to get re-elected — instead of governing and compromising in the national interest — seems to be all that too

many of our national politicians are interested in anymore. There are ex-

By Joyce Appleby

cured permission from the secretive

Los Angeles Times

Spanish monarch to enter his terri-

wo hundred 30 years ago,

tory, and chose a route to the Arctic

Charles Marie de la Condamine returned to F r ance

through Lapland. The president of the FrenchAcademy dubbed them

with proof about the shape of the

"the new Argonauts" when the two

Earth after spending 10 years in Lat-

groups departed, in 1735 and 1736. Maupertuis' 16 months in Lapland was hardly a romp, but it paled in comparison to the six years the equator team spent ascending into cloud-shrouded Andean peaks and lugging their equipment through snow drifts. The Arctic expedition

in America. For thousands of years, human beings had roamed the planet indifferent to its form until the 18th

century,when the subject became embroiled in an intense rivalry between England and France.

Isaac Newton had hypothesized at be proved right; if they were the the end of the previous century that same, the French position would be the Earth was like a tomato, round in the center and flat at both ends.

France's great 17th-century scientist, Rene Descartes, had said nothing

about the planet's outline, but becauseittakesa horsetobeatahorse, French controversialists turned to

him anyway, deducing from Descartes' writing that the shape was a

thick tube, long and straight, more like a Japanese eggplant than a tomato.

Voltaire, who had come back from three years in London a thorough-going Anglophile, plumped for the tomato, but most French in-

ing balls of the natives, and cinchona, the source of quinine. His group also came up with a standardized land measurement, the meter, and

ceptions, to be sure, but it feels as if many do not take pride in their work in government.

discovered the element platinum, from which the Indians made their

with U.S. military lives on the line, but

jewelry. After six years reconfirming all of their figures,the French were ready to go home, only to discover that the

from a pre-election recess to either debate the wisdom of this war or give the president proper legal authorization, let alone take some responsibility. When everyone is so busy running, is it any surprise that no one is runningthe federal government'? According to PolitiFact, "Wyoming

Spanish officials found their talents

too valuable to let them leave. Undaunted, La Condamine rafted the 3,000-mile Amazon River to reach

French Guiana. an interpreter and 21 soldiers to levHe mapped the river and plumbed Two of the brightest, wittiest men el the trees to make sight lines. They its depths, visited Jesuit missions to grace Parisian salons volunteered even managed to start a forest fire. along the way and learned from the for the expeditions: La Condamine Unlike the Laplanders, who stayed Indians their techniques for hunting and Pierre-Louis Moreau de Mau- put in summer, the astronomers and game with blowguns and poison pertuis. Best friends, neither seemed their aides had to take advantage darts. Among that game, La Confitted for the rigors of Andean climbs of the sunlight and sallied forth in damine counted toucans, turtles, or Arctic hikes, but they were young. heavy reindeer coats to shield them- crocodiles, tigers, monkeys, elecBoth were in their mid-30s and had selves from mosquitoes famous for tric eels, porcupines, sloths, snakes, once had army commissions. their ferocity. Once back home with boars and bloodsucking bats. They were also mathematicians. his findings — a degree of longitude The Earth in fact was shaped like Maupertuis studied the subject so toward the top of the world was at a tomato,and La Condamine quickthat he could understand Newton's least smaller than one near Parisly brought out two works advertis"Principia." La Condamine used Maupertuis seconded Newton in his ing this fact. The third — his diary his mathematical skills in a more book "La figure de la terre." covering the 10 years he spent in the roguish manner. His scrutiny of the News of Maupertuis' triumphal New World — turned South Amerihad eight astronomers, five servants,

vindicated.

We're at war in the Middle East, Congress could not stir itself to return

Republican Sen. John Barrasso said,

'This is the earliest Congress has adjourned in over 50 years.' ... Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine called it

'thesecond-earliest recess before a midterm since 1960.' Both senators are

correct (if you excuse Barrasso's use of adjourninstead ofrecess).ForBarrasso, 'over 50 years,' takes us back to

any year up to 1963, or 51 years ago. The record shows that since 1963, Congress often has taken short breaks

in September, given lawmakers several weeks in October to campaign in election years, and even closed the books for the year in October. But an

extended break from mid-September

tellectuals bet on the eggplant. Jean French lottery indicated that those le Rond d'Alembert, the famous edi- in charge of it inadvertently gave tor of the Encyclopedie, dedared it a out more money than they took in. "question of national honor not to let He got Voltaire to fund a scheme to the Earth have a foreign shape, a fig- game the system that netted them ure imagined by an Englishman or a both a small fortune. Dutchman." The prospect of the two expediContentious discussions were so tions thrilled the habitues of Paris fraying the mandatory civility of the salons. Geodesy, the study of the French Academy thatone member shape and area of the Earth, became proposed two expeditions to settle a fashionable topic. Quickly, a team the matter. If a degree of longitude at of astronomers and mapmakers was the equator was greater than one at assembled. They bought the finest

return damped the spirits of La Con-

ca into an area of intrinsic interest to

to mid-November has not occurred.

damine's equally large group, but they knew that Maupertuis had only

Europeans. If French scientists and

Kaine's claim is spot on."

intellectuals lamented that Newton's

What does this have to do with the Secret Service lapses'? It certain-

the North Pole, then Newton would

resin produced the amazing bounc-

instruments available in London, se-

tomato won over their Japanese eggclinch the whole geodesic question. plant, they could comfort themselves So they soldiered on, measuring on producing intellectuals of rare cuthe arc of the Earth's curvature at riosity, endurance and courage. the equator. They battled storms so — JoyceAppleby isanem eritusprofessor fierce that their servants lashed shut of history at the University of California, one figure, not the two that would

the doors to their mountain huts. Howthe servants fared is not record-

ed. La Condamine also found time to study the caoutchouc tree, whose

Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of "Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination." She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

ly doesn't excuse them, but if you're a federal worker today and you look up at the "adults" who are supposed

to be supervising you, what do you see? You see too many self-interested, self-indulgent politicians who are only there to grandstand, spend most of their time raising money to win elections and then, when you, as a federal

worker, make a mistake, be the first to rush to the microphones with feigned concern to investigate your compe-

The rule of law needs the bite of punishment By MorrIs B. Hoffman

cheerleading of behavioral prediction probation before we pull the plug movements, there is no real hope that ike allhumans, judges are sus- and sentence them to prison. There at any time even in the distant future ceptible to fads. Anger manage- are of course exceptions, such as for we will have enough data about these ment became apopular feature seriousviolent crimes and even for factors tobe able to make reliable preof American probationary sentences some drug crimes that carry man- dictions about an individual's future in the 1980s. A few years ago it was datory prison sentences. But for the behavior. teen courts, then drug courts. The most part, as one of my now-retired But there is a much more serious new fad is something called "evi- colleagues put it, defendants have to problem with evidence-based sendence-based sentencing," and it is really work hard at crime before ma- tencing than its under-powered staboth a refreshing attempt at rational- triculating to prison. tistics. It is focused on just a tiny tip ity and a dangerous rejection of our Still, we should all applaud efforts of the iceberg of punishment and ignatures as punishing animals. to look at real data instead of relying nores the deepest andmost important Evidence-based sentencing takes exclusively on gut instinct when we reason we punish wrongdoers. When itsname from evidence-based med- try to predict the future behaviors of I sentence abank robber to prison, icine, and it purports to redirect the defendants. But we also need to be the idea is not just to deter him from attention of sentencing judges from realistic about the statistical power robbing again ("special deterrence") old-fashioned notions of retribution of those predictive efforts. There's a or even just to keep him away from to an enlightened and civilized look reason science stinks at predicting the rest of us for a while ("ncapacitaat deterrence and rehabilitation. The individual human behavior. There tion"). I also want to deter other peofocus is on recidivism rates and the are an almost infinite number of bits ple who maybe considering robbing a effects of incarceration on those rates. of data that contribute to human de- bank ("general deterrence"). The general message is that incarcer- cision-making, starting with the bilGeneral deterrence is what makes ation costs much more than its deter- lions of base pairs in each person's us a civilized society. It is the glue rent benefits, and that judges should DNA, and 30,000 genes. Add to that that holds us together under the rule think twice before incarcerating con- the epigenetic influences on those of law. It is so deeply ingrained in all victed criminals. genes, in-utero development, and then of us that every human society that We don'tneed a new fad to make of course a lifetime ofbrain-changing has left a record has left evidence that that point. One of the hidden truths individual experiences, all of which it punished its wrongdoers. Indeed, of the criminal justice system is that make us who we are, and you start to our tendency to punish wrongdoers most judges, including me, give most seethe complexityof it all. Despitethe is most likely an evolved trait, which Los Angeles Times

L

criminals chance after chance on

we needed to keep our intensely social small groups from unraveling in selfishness. Admittedly, general deterrence is even more impossible to calculate

than special deterrence. There is simply no way to determine how many robberies I will deter in my city if I

tence — aslong as the cameras are runnng. Tell me that doesn't filter down to

every department, induding the Secret Service. When so many above

you are just cynically out for themselves, it saps morale, focus and discipline. If so many above you are just getting theirs, well then, why shouldn't Secret Service agents doing advance work for the president's trip to Colombia in April 2012 take pros-

titutes to their rooms and have some fun on D.C.'s dime, too?

years instead of six years. But that

Any wonder that Gallup reported Sept. 8 that "only 8 percent of the one-

doesn't mean punishment doesn't

third of all Americans who are fol-

deter, or that general deterrence isn't a critical component of our criminal

lowing national politics 'very dosely' approve of the way Congress is han-

justice system.

dling its job." As Jon Stewart noted:

give the robber in front of me nine

By focusing only on special deterrence, themavens ofevidence-based sentencingare ignoring 5,000 years of civilized wisdom about the value of general deterrence, not to mention what is probably 200,000 years of human evolution. It's true, they have aimed their efforts more at lower-level crimes, arguing chiefly that for these crimes, more harm than good may come from harsh sentences. — Morris B. Hoffmanis a state trial judge in Denver and author of "The Punisher's Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury." Hoffman wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

"Here's how dysfunctional the Secret Service is at this point: Congress had to help them come up with solutions."

I can't put my finger on it exactly, but you feel today in Washington a certain laxness, that anything goes and that too few people working for the federal government take pride in their work because everything is just cobbled together by Congress and the White House at the eleventh hour

anyway. It's been years since anyone summoned us for a moonshot, for something great. So just show up and punch the clock. — Thomas Friedman is a columnist for The New York Times.


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