Quick Roundup 503

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Justice Thomas on President Obama

Regarding Barack Obama's disgraceful slam of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in favor of freedom of speech, Clarence Thomas offers the following history lesson:

The part of the McCain-Feingold law struck down in Citizens United contained an exemption for news reports, commentaries and editorials. But Justice Thomas said that reflected a legislative choice rather than a constitutional principle.

He added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side [Just a "side?" -- ed], pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

"Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation," Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. "Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them."

It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as "some sort of beatific action."

Justice Thomas said the First Amendment’s protections applied regardless of how people chose to assemble to participate in the political process.
That's an example of capitalism being fundamentally at odds with racism I had not heard before!

Objectivist Roundups

Having recently rearranged my schedule so I can resume posting in the morning, I have been remiss in linking to the last two Objectivist roundups, so here they are.

And the next one will soon appear here.

Interview with Jared Rhoads

Around the time of the Scott Brown election, learned of yet another organization working to promote freedom in medicine, the Lucidicus Project. Via We Stand Firm, I see that Reality Talk has posted an interview with its founder, Jared Rhoads.

Olberman, Has-Been?

Maybe. Maybe not. His ratings are down and the article is parsing the usage of a tense by one of his network executives, but I do like the sound of that.
Worst, Olbermann's network president, Phil Griffin, is publicly praising him, always an ominous sign in television. While referring to his host almost in the past tense. "Keith has been our tentpole," Griffin says, adding later, "I'm pleased with where we are." [bold in original]
I'll leave any juvenile cracks about the term "tentpole" to him.

Too Late to Zing

I think the French have a colloquialism for the phenomenon of coming up with the perfect response to a jab far too late to use it. (The idiom, if I recall correctly, involved the idea of having already walked down stairs after an argument.)

Anyhow, my riposte came up just now, days after some angry Christian apologist asked me if I thought children were innocent.

What could I have said? "Of course I do: I reject the idea of original sin!"

That doesn't cover the whole issue, of course, but I still like it.

[Update: The term I was looking for is l'esprit de l'escalier ("staircase wit"). Many thanks to commenter B. Wilson.]

Among the Perils of Social Metaphysics...

... is the fact that a five-year-old can "emasculate" you.

The danger to me in that situation would be different: I'd break out laughing, and possibly test my safety harness as a result!

-- CAV


: Added note on "staircase wit."


Rational Education said...

Thanks for the post
I posted the Justice Thomas' speech article on FB. Fred Weiss did some further digging and found this link on Tillman that he posted:

I also found a recording of the entire speech online at

p.s. I referenced your blog on FB, which I am hoping will bring more thinking individuals to reading your blog.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for the referrals and the links!


B. Wilson said...

"L’esprit de l’escalier"

The origin is explained here, you'll enjoy reading it:

Gus Van Horn said...

Ah! Thank you!

About the only thing worse than "staircase wit" is a phrase mislaid like that by one's mind and coming up empty of search terms for Google to come to the rescue.

D. Jason Fleming said...

There is also a German word for it: Treppenwitz.

Gus Van Horn said...

Indeed, I noticed that in the Wikipedia writeup. I hadn't known that there was a German term for that.

Amusingly, my brain didn't completely process your name right off the bat, so I briefly thought you were Wilson, returning a day later, as though you'd reascended the stairs to tell me about that!