Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Re: Stonewalling On Torture, And Blatant Hypocrisy

March 29, 2005

Dear Larry:

I forwarded your latest article to my son who is teaching in a charter school in Chicago. I thought he had an interesting and thoughtful response.

Keep up the good fight.


Solid writing that will come of nothing. Until mainstream media breaks the story and puts the emphasis on it that it has for Schiavo, little will come of it. Even if that were to happen, many if not most Americans are okay with the idea of torturing terrorists and thus apply to electoral pressure on officials to risk themselves by pushing the issue. Sadly, one of the great testaments to the poor quality of American intellect and critical thinking is the repeated mistake we make of evaluating moral, ethical and legal situations as though they existed in a vacuum. So was the case with the passing of the Patriot Act which many Americans now wish to draw back.

Unfortunately, once it is in place it is too late to do so. Had people thought about the implications of chipping away at civil liberities before demanding quick passage by Congress, we might have a more meaningful and effective bill that is in the spirit of our constitutional freedoms. Too many Americans adopt the "I have nothing to hide" stance. A truly ignorant stance for it is not those that are truly guilty who complain about bad legislation, but rather those whose lives are irreparably harmed by false accusations. Read the poem, The Hangman by Maurice Ogden, for a beautiful representation of the idea if we do not stand up against injustice against others then who will speak for us when injustice comes to us.

I would love to see Bush impeached over something like this. He is a Nixon type except that instead of being the Alpha-male thinker that Nixon was, this guy can't even define his own ideas without his little clique whispering in his ear first. Of course, what good is impeaching him if that means that Cheney becomes President, a fate far worse than our current plight. Condy Rice would start wearing seal fur jackets and oil wells would be placed in the middle of school lunchrooms so underage workers could get an education while also maintaining the wells during a 14 hour work day for which they are paid $2.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Re: Stonewalling On Torture, And Blatant Hypocrisy

March 25, 2005

Re: David Gregory and Terry Moran
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

I have been told by an email correspondent that David Gregory of NBC and Terry Moran of ABC were the two White House reporters who asked Scott McClellan about Bush’s views on whether torture had occurred, and who were stonewalled in response. The stonewalling further indicates felonious culpability for reasons explained in the last two blogs.

I cannot say whether my email correspondent is or is not correct as to who the two reporters were. If he is correct, have either Gregory or Moran dealt with the subject of Bush’s knowledge and culpability on their companies’ nightly TV newscasts, and, if so, what did they say? Why am I willing to bet dollars to pennies, however, that they have not dealt with the matter on their nightly news shows?*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

Dear Dean Velvel,

I'm starting to suspect that neoconservatism is defined as blindly following George W. Bush on all matters as he decides them, whether his recent declarations are in line with the political beliefs we claim to ascribe to. It's funny - I wrote a friend the other day and said that Terri Schiavo is the new Elian. That mess went down around Easter as well, if I'm not mistaken.

Stephanie Kuenn


Least we forget that the bigots who fought integration and the Equal Rights Amendment did so on the basis of State's rights?



Henry Kissinger was interviewed on television last week and asked if he supported torture in the case of alleged terrorism. He answered that in general, he does not support torture, but that in some situations, he does. This denial/non-denial makes absolute no sense and the interviewer never followed it up. This is like saying that as a general proposition, I don't support murder, but on occasion, when I feel there is an absolute need, I will make exceptions. Because of such cases, our laws will have to be amended (sic).


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Re: Stonewalling On Torture, And Blatant Hypocrisy

March 24, 2005


Re: Stonewalling On Torture, And Blatant Hypocrisy
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

As readers know, my last posting dealt with the question whether George Bush may be guilty of the serious felony of conspiracy to commit torture, which would be grounds for impeachment. It explained facts known to date on this matter, explained the statute, and urged liberal bloggers to take up the question because the mainstream media hasn’t.

On the same day as the last posting, at a press briefing by Press Secretary Scott McClellan, certain unidentified White House journalists repeatedly asked McClellan questions bearing on the President’s knowledge regarding torture. (The journalists are unidentified because McClellan referred to them only as "David" and "Terry," and the White House has refused to give us the names of accredited members of the White House press corp.) McClellan stonewalled, and refused to answer, the questions. He stonewalled and refused to answer even when one of the reporters said that this is what he was doing.

The questions revolved around Bush’s prior statements that, when the U.S. "renders" a prisoner to another country, it obtains assurances that they won’t be tortured. These assurances, we have learned, are worth nothing, are known by American officials to be worth nothing, and, indeed, there seems little or no reason to render people to other countries except for torture in an effort to extract information that we want. So the reporters asked McClellan whether, in light of all the information that has become public about the torture in foreign countries, Bush takes the assurances of non-torture seriously, whether he thinks torture is not occurring, and whether persons alleging they were tortured are lying.

McClellan did say Bush "absolutely" takes the assurances seriously -- which makes Bush, McClellan or both either liars or fools -- and that Bush was aware that people have said they were tortured. But McClellan absolutely refused to answer whether Bush does or does not believe torture is occurring in the countries to which prisoners are rendered or whether Bush believes the claimants are lying about being tortured. Instead McClellan kept stonewalling by only mouthing the political crapola that we seek assurances against torture, that we believe in following our laws and treaties (which is a lie because we have tortured people, which is against our law), and that we ourselves do not torture (which, for the same reason, is also a lie).
McClellan’s stonewalling refusal to answer such questions is further evidence of Bush’s knowledge of and guilt regarding the torture of rendered prisoners. After all, if Bush did not think torture was being perpetrated by the country of rendition, why not say so? If Bush thought those claiming to be tortured were lying, why not say so? Saying so would be consistent with innocence after all (even if it would make Bush look a fool). McClellan’s refusal to say so is inconsistent with innocence.

McClellan tried to evade the questions in another way, too. He said he would leave the matter where it was left by Alberto Gonzalez at the hearing on his nomination to be Attorney General and by C.I.A. Director Porter Goss, who appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the morning of March 17th. Gonzalez, of course, stonewalled at his hearing, as discussed here previously. To the extent that Goss discussed the matter in open session -- instead of invoking his constant stonewalling mantra of saying he would discuss this and other matters in the subsequent closed session (so that the media and public cannot learn what is going on) -- he appeared to largely claim that the intelligence community had not broken the law. This we have long known to be false, as discussed here previously. And the next day the C.I.A. released a statement saying it had always stayed within legal guidance provided it by the Department of Justice. Of course, for over two years that guidance allowed the most vile torture under the fictitious John Yoo/Jay Bybee claims that torture is not torture and, anyway, if the President allows it, then torture is legal. And, to reiterate, it is well known now that, regardless of what the law of Congress provides, the C.I.A. did indeed engage in torture, as has been discussed here previously.

So McClellan’s ultimate ploy of saying he would leave the situation where Gonzalez and Goss left it is worthless, since Gonzalez stonewalled and Goss did not tell the truth. What we are left with is the fact that McClellan declined to answer whether Bush thought torture was occurring, which should have been denied if Bush were innocent, and refused to answer whether Bush thought torture-claimants were lying, which should have been answered in the affirmative if Bush were innocent.

All of this provides still more reason why, in the continuing absence of much discussion of the matter in the mainstream media, and in view of the stonewall the White House media met on March 17th when two reporters finally did raise relevant questions, liberal bloggers should go "unto the breach," as Shakespeare said, to engage in discussion of and inquiry about whether Bush is guilty of the serious, impeachable offense of conspiracy to commit torture.
* * * * *
The failure to date of the media and Congress to hold high officials responsible for the torture which has occurred in violation of law puts one in mind of some interesting, not to say disgraceful, contrasts in American political life. Some of these contrasts have been remarked by persons who have been good enough to send me emails in recent days. One of the emails, an irate one, is, I may say, from a person whose degree of success is so great that one might not intuitively think the individual is angry about the political machinations of the Republican Party.
The Congress, especially a number of Republicans, does not seem to be overly exercised about the torture we have perpetrated. Some legislators are exercised, but a lot are not. In fact, if one reads the remarks of persons who seem (only sometimes?) to nearly be savages, like Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama or Pat Roberts of Kansas, one could be forgiven for getting the idea that some legislators don’t care a whit about the torture. Neither, I note, has Congress evinced much concern that its power over war -- over what is probably the single most crucial aspect of American political life -- has been ceded almost entirely to the President, now to Bush II, and before him to Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and, arguably, Bush I.

But while Congress generally seems to care little about torture or its power over war, it and the media seem to care a lot about whether baseball players have taken steroids. Congress jumped to hold publicity-garnering hearings on the subject, and subpoenaed ball playing witnesses (although not, for some unfathomable reason, Barry Bonds). It and the media, and Bush too, seemed to care a lot about whether the feeding tube would be pulled from one woman, the deeply unfortunate Terry Schiavo. Here this crowd jumped through unusual hoops to do the bidding of the right wing zealots who now seem to control the country -- just as a few years ago lots of people jumped on the Elian Gonzalez bandwagon, a case which likewise should have been left alone but instead got exacerbated by vast public focus. In the Schiavo case, as so many have commented, into abeyance want the usually vaunted concerns, of the right wing and of the religious fundamentalists, for limited federal power, for limits on federal courts, and for states’ rights. And George Bush’s press secretary said that Bush believes we should "build a culture of life," and "stands on the side of defending life." What a nice sentiment. It’s too bad, isn’t it, that in Iraq he and his right wing buddies stood "on the side of" killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, maybe scores of thousands or even more than a hundred thousand Iraqis, in order to accomplish their own highly debatable purposes, and "buil[t] a culture of death" to accomplish those dubious purposes. Yet Bush "stand[s] on the side of defending life"? There is just no limit to hypocrisy, is there?

Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood about the Schiavo matter. I am personally against pulling the pulling the plug on anyone. My wife and I believe that where there is life, there is hope, and there will be no plug pulling in our family. Also, my sympathy for Ms. Schiavo’s poor parents is boundless -- it is said that there is nothing worse than losing a child, and regardless of Terry Schiavo’s age, she is their child. And I personally saw what losing a child can do to people when my six year old younger brother passed away 55 years ago.

So, as said, I don’t wish to be misunderstood about the Schiavo case. Yet it and so many other things do show that our political life is mass hypocrisy, especially on the part of the right and the religious fundamentalists, on the part, that is, of people like Bush. I’m afraid I can do no better than quote, bad language and all, an email recently sent to me. It says it all, and sometimes bad language says it best because it says it in the most heartfelt way. Beginning with the right wing’s action in the case of a single person "(while ignoring the plight of 50 million americans without health insurance)," my email correspondent continues by saying that it "seems like they have an even more fervent view about born again christianity and the ‘right to life’ shit they espouse. a remarkable set of events, so transparent and, to be mundane, disgusting. I guess they think we are all just a bunch of stupid schmucks like they are. have they no shame.[?] what a fucking joke. where hath gone fundamental principles of states’ rights? in the same vein, ditto re the deeply held value of the balanced budget. have you ever seen such an ability for humans to be so ostrich like? putting their heads in the ground and their asses in the sky?"

Amen to these emailed comments.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Re: (no subject)

----- Original Message -----

From: Omohundro@aol.com
To: velvel@mslaw.edu
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 8:40 PM
Subject: Re: (no subject)


This is such old news--not that I'm against its re-dissemination by any means--and so unsurprising.

That a former colonial power, and one of the great powers until the 20th century, should have done horrible things, many times, comes as no particular shock to me.

Your correspondent seems naive, or uninformed, at the very least.

He should check out what the French did once upon a time in their former colony of Madagascar. As I recall, they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the natives. I may be exaggerating a bit; possibly it was only tens of thousands.

Anyway, take up the white man's burden, send out the best ye breed. etc.

Michael Chesson

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Check Out [four letter expletive deleted] France.com

March 22, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

I received the following message from and sent the following reply to Hulugu.

Lawrence R. Velvel, Dean
Massachusetts School of Law

March 22, 2005

Dear Hulugu:

It seems to me that the French conduct is an example of why we shouldn’t be doing some of the things we have been doing. As far as the French being unwilling to admit wrongdoing and complicity is concerned (as they have avoided admitting complicity in killing Jews in WWII, and as Japan has avoided admitting responsibility for horrible conduct in WWII), such unwillingness to admit terrible wrongdoing seems to me to be equally the story of our right wing with regard to such things as Nam and Gulf II.



----- Original Message -----

To: velvel@mslaw.edu
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2005 4:10 AM

Subject: Check out [four letter expletive deleted] france.com

- France admits torture and large-scale massacre in [Four letter expletive deleted]france.com - France admits torture and large-scale massacre in Algeria (1140732) - Read article: don't forget this the next time you visit gay paree

Monday, March 21, 2005

Re: Blogs, Bush, and Torture

Via Email (jwoodle2@jadedbum.com)

March 21, 2005

Dear John:

I truly appreciate your email about my postings on Blogs, Bush, and Torture. It is always extremely nice to know that someone thinks well of something one has written, and your email was thus a pleasure to receive.

Thanks again, and all the best with Heathenmonk.

Larry Velvel

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Re: Blogs, Bush and Torture

March 17, 2005

Re: Blogs, Bush and Torture: A Plea For Liberal Bloggers to Fill The Vacuum Left By The Mainstream Media On The Question Of Whether Bush Is Guilty Of a Serious, Impeachable Felony.

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

For approximately ten months -- since May 13, 2004 -- this blogger has written of the possibility, even the probability, that George Bush is guilty of serious felonies. For ten months ago it seemed very likely, and today it seems virtually certain, that Bush knew of, did not care about, did not stop, at least tacitly encouraged, and, for all one knows, more than merely tacitly encouraged torture of prisoners, both in jails run by Americans in foreign countries and by foreign countries to which we delivered prisoners knowing that they would be tortured there. The reasons for the torture were plain, and have only become more obvious as the media occasionally writes about them: Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the rest of that crowd were utterly desperate to find out whether post 9/11 attacks were planned against the United States and to stop such attacks. As well, they and our forces in Iraq were desperate to learn about and to stop attacks against our forces there. Thinking that torture would help them learn about and stop attacks, they condoned it.

As will be further discussed below, for an American to engage in torture outside the country, or to enter into a conspiracy to do so, are very serious felonies under federal statutes. A perpetrator of torture can be imprisoned for up to 20 years, and, if the torture resulted in death, can be punished by imprisonment for life or execution. A conspirator who did not himself (or, these days, herself) commit the acts of torture can receive the same punishment as the perpetrator, except that a "mere" conspirator cannot be given the death penalty.

When discussing whether Bush was guilty of violating the law against torture, this blogger said that the question "is pure political dynamite" and is one that the mainstream media should investigate. For to be guilty of violating the law against torture is, after all, not only to commit a serious felony, but to commit an impeachable offense. For surely a felony so serious that it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, or even by life in prison or by execution of the perpetrator, meets the required constitutional standard, for impeachment, of a high crime or misdemeanor. One doubts that anyone would even dispute this. Still less would it be disputed when, as is now known to be the case, several prisoners died because of the torture, which makes the perpetrators "eligible" for execution and conspirators "eligible" for life imprisonment.

The mainstream media, of course, as was to be expected, did not appear to investigate or even discuss the question of whether Bush was guilty of the felony of conspiracy to commit torture. There are several possible reasons for the media's lack of discussion or investigation. The sheer awesomeness of the possibility that the President might be guilty of a most serious felony -- of a crime that is punishable by life imprisonment, that is far worse than anything Nixon ever did, and that is grounds for impeachment -- is one possible reason for the media not looking into or discussing the matter. A second reason is fear: the highly corporatized and centralized mainstream media are, after all, susceptible to retaliation by federal agencies (like the FCC) and by Republican Party Senators, Congressmen and minions. Also the fatcat corporate interests that support Bush and the Republicans could cut off advertising revenues. A third reason is that reporters may not have amassed proof yet, even if they are looking for it (which in candor I doubt), or may not have amassed what they consider sufficient proof, even if they are looking for it. In the latter connection, though, maybe reporters are working their way "up the ladder," so to speak, which is a common investigative technique. Again, however, I doubt this. A fourth possible reason is deep concern over who would become President if Bush, or both Bush and Cheney, were found to have committed an impeachable offense and were either impeached and convicted or forced to resign. A fifth possible reason is the sheer incompetence and lack of intelligence which marks so much of the media. But in the end, I'm afraid, outsiders cannot really know why the mainstream media does not appear to have seriously discussed or inquired into the question of whether Bush is guilty of a serious felony. All one can really know is that it hasn't.

The media's failure to discuss or investigate whether Bush has committed the felonious impeachable offense of conspiracy to commit torture is a powerful reason why liberal bloggers should begin to discuss it and, within their capabilities, to investigate the facts. After the Dan Rather and Eason Jordan affairs, nobody can say with any confidence that bloggers would be unable to uncover facts and produce arguments that the mainstream media has ignored or missed. I imagine that it was, of course, conservative bloggers who brought down Rather and Jordan, and there are many more conservative bloggers, it is widely felt, than there are liberal bloggers. Nonetheless, there are plenty of liberal bloggers, and who can say what information might start coming out if they made a concerted effort to discuss and investigate the question of the possible culpability of Bush, Cheney, et. al? And, if information showing culpability does start to come out, one can bet that, at that point, the mainstream media will jump into the story with both feet (as occurred with Watergate), notwithstanding the many possible reasons for its silence to date.

To further encourage liberal bloggers to take up the question, let me set forth some pertinent information which already is publicly known but is not widely known. Let us start with a recent, March 11th op-ed piece in The New York Times by Michael Scheuer.

Scheuer is the CIA official who wrote two books under the name "Anonymous." The first was Through Our Enemies' Eyes; Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. The second, which is very critical of American policies, is the famous Imperial Hubris: Why The West Is Losing The War On Terror. Scheuer strikes me as being no liberal, but he has extensive relevant knowledge. His recent op-ed piece was about "rendition," the practice of turning over prisoners to foreign countries where, it is known, they will be tortured. Scheuer is no "bleeding heart" who opposes this practice. On the contrary, he favors it because, he says, it enables us to get needed information. Rendition, he says, "has been a tremendous success." Because of it, "dozens of senior Al Qaeda fighters are today behind bars, no longer able to plot or participate in attacks," and it has also "netted an untold number of computers and documents that increased our knowledge of Al Qaeda's makeup and plans." But be this as it may, he makes no bones about the fact that both Bill Clinton (another possible felon) and George Bush knew all about rendition and its purposes. In fact he is particularly incensed because he feels the CIA is unfairly taking a hit for a policy approved "by the N.S.C. [National Security Council] . . . the Justice Department, [and] also by the presidents -- both Mr. Clinton and George W. Bush." (Emphasis added.) (If one wants to invent a reason to dismiss what Scheuer says, it would not be that he is a bleeding heart liberal, but that he is grinding an axe to protect his agency. Frankly, I don't think what he says can be readily dismissed for any invented reason.)

Scheuer says that Sandy Berger (then Director of the NSC) and Richard Clarke ("his counterterrorism chief") commented in 1998 that "August and September had brought the 'greatest number of terrorist arrests in a short period of time that we have ever arranged or facilitated,'" and made clear that "Part and parcel of this success . . . were the renditions of captured Qaeda terrorists." Berger and Clarke, says Scheuer, "were senior White House officials who -- in consultation with President Bill Clinton -- set America's Al Qaeda policy from 1993 to 2001." (Emphasis added.) Berger and Clarke "knew -- and approved -- of the rendition [of terrorists] to Egypt and elsewhere":

Having failed to find a legal means to keep all the detainees in American custody, they preferred to let other countries do our dirty work.

Why does this matter? Because it makes clear that in dealing with detainees in 1998, and today as well, the C.I.A. is following orders from the president and his National Security Council advisers. [Emphasis added] Likewise, in 1998 and today, the agency is executing operations under those orders only after they are approved by a vast cohort of lawyers at the security council, the Justice Department and the C.I.A. itself.

I know this because, as head of the C.I.A.'s bin Laden desk, I started the Qaeda detainee/rendition program and ran it for 40 months. [Emphasis added.] And in my 22 years at the agency I never saw a set of operations that was more closely scrutinized by the director of central intelligence, the National Security Council and the Congressional intelligence committees. Nor did I ever see one that was more blessed (plagued?) by the expert guidance of lawyers.

For now, the beginning of wisdom is to acknowledge that the non-C.I.A. staff members mentioned above knew that taking detainees to Egypt or elsewhere might yield treatment not consonant with United States legal practice. How did they know? Well, several senior C.I.A. officers, myself included, were confident that common sense would elude that bunch, and so we told them - again and again and again. Each time a decision to do a rendition was made, we reminded the lawyers and policy makers that Egypt was Egypt, and that Jimmy Stewart never starred in a movie called "Mr. Smith Goes to Cairo." They usually listened, nodded, and then inserted a legal nicety by insisting that each country to which the agency delivered a detainee would have to pledge it would treat him according to the rules of its own legal system.

* * * * * *
. . . [the CIA] is peculiarly an instrument of the executive branch. Renditions were called for, authorized and legally vetted not just by the N.S.C. and the Justice Department, but also by the presidents - both Mr. Clinton and George W. Bush. [Emphasis added.] In my mind, these men and women made the right decision - America is better protected because of renditions - but it would have been better if they had not lacked the bureaucratic and moral courage to work with Congress to find ways to bring all detainees to America.

If one reads him very closely, it is arguable that, with one or two probable exceptions, Scheuer does not actually say explicitly that Clinton and Bush approved of renditions for purposes of torture. But it is pretty difficult to escape the sense that this likely is his meaning. And, in this regard, one would add the following to what Scheuer has said. It has now been known for quite a while that, just as Scheuer says, there was an exceptional amount of "legal vet[ting]" with regard to torture. Much or most of this vetting was an effort to make the illegal and horrible appear lawful. The Torture Papers, a recently published compilation of legal memos, investigative reports, and other relevant materials, contains hundreds upon hundreds of pages of government memoranda on the matter. Much of this was drafted by Jay Bybee and/or John Yoo, who deserve censure and disbarment for their immoral efforts to rationalize the indefensible. There is also material by Jack Goldsmith which relates to rendition; in my view he too is culpable. And several of the memos either were asked for or went to Alberto Gonzalez, who was Counsel to and in constant contact with Bush, and who basically refused to talk when he was asked about torture at the hearing on his nomination to be Attorney General. These various facts lend support to Scheuer's apparent claim that Bush knew and approved of what was going on.

I note parenthetically that people whose views I respect do not agree that the lawyers who immorally facilitated torture - - Bybee, Yoo, Gonzalez, etc. - - should be punished, since the lawyers were merely doing their jobs. Views opposing my own have been posted on this blog. But in my judgment the opposing views are dead wrong because for decades government officials, corporate executives, tax cheats, securities law cheats and others have been hiding behind lawyers who are willing to play ball with illegal and immoral schemes. For careerist and financial reasons, lawyers have deliberately facilitated evil (as cigarette companies' lawyers did), and have been supported by other lawyers who argue that they should be allowed to hide behind the claim that they are merely doing their job as someone's representative or counsel. Enough of this already. The facilitation of evil and immorality has to stop. As Anthony Lewis wrote in the first paragraph of his Introduction to The Torture Papers:

The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib includes the full texts of the legal memoranda that sought to argue away the rules against torture. They are an extraordinary paper trail to mortal and political disaster: to an episode that will soil the image of the United State[s] in the eyes of the world for years to come. They also provide a painful insight into how the skills of the lawyer -- skills that have done so much to protect Americans in this most legalized of countries -- can be misused in the cause of evil. [Emphasis added.]

Or as was written by one of the editors of The Torture Papers, Joshua Dratel:

The memos also reflect what might be termed the "corporatization" of government lawyering: a wholly result-oriented system in which policy makers start with an objective and work backward, in the process enlisting the aid of intelligent and well credentialed lawyers who, for whatever reason -- the attractions of power, careerism, ideology, or just plain bad judgment -- all too willingly failed to act as a constitutional or moral compass that could brake their client's descent into unconscionable behavior constituting torture by any definition, legal or colloquial. [Emphasis added.]

One would also add another point in support of what Scheuer has said. It has recently come out, and The Times has written about the fact that, American officials knew very well that foreign countries would torture prisoners rendered to them even though they agreed not to do so. The agreement, as the Americans well knew, was no better than Sam Goldwyn's view of an oral promise, which he said was not worth the paper it was printed on.

Scheuer's was far from the first indication that George Bush knew about and condoned torture. There was such an indication at least as far back as May 13, 2004, almost a year ago now, in a New York Times article entitled "Harsh CIA Methods Cited In Top Qaeda Interrogations." The article was "reported and written by James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A Lewis." It said that in one case "C.I.A. interrogators used graduated levels of force, including a technique known as 'water boarding,' in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown". As has been discussed on this blog, waterboarding is practically the ultimate torture. The article further said that this technique was approved under a new "set of secret rules for the interrogation of high-level Qaeda prisoners," that these rules were "among the first adopted by the Bush administration" for handling detainees after Sept. 11th "and may have helped establish a new understanding throughout the government that officials would have greater freedom to deal harshly with detainees." (Emphasis added.) "The C.I.A. detention program for Qaeda leaders," says the article, 'is the most secretive component of an intensive regime of detention and interrogation," and "The secret detention system houses a group of 12 to 20 prisoners, government officials said, some under direct American control, others ostensibly under the supervision of foreign governments." (Emphasis added.) Moreover, the "high-level detainees . . . have been held in strict secrecy. Their whereabouts are such closely guarded secrets that one official said he had been told that Mr. Bush had informed the CIA that he did not want to know where they were." (Emphasis added.)

Now, I ask you, does all of this sound like George Bush had no idea that prisoners were being held abroad for torture and were being handed over to foreign governments for torture? Why do I think the answer to this is negative? If the article is correct, what we have here is a super secret program to get information out of the Qaeda leaders by any means necessary at foreign locations, with the whole business being so secret that Bush doesn't even want to know where the prisoners are being held. Does this sound like a guy who has no idea what is going on, or like a guy who knows perfectly well what is going on, desires it so that we will obtain information, and is trying to set up a false claim of lack of knowledge by being able to say, if the you know what ever hits the fan, that he didn't even know where the pertinent events were occurring? Why do I think the answer to this question is obvious? Why do I think that guys who don't know what is going on don't generally say they don't want to know where whatever it is may be occurring, while guys who know that bad stuff is occurring like to be able to make statements that will tend to erroneously make it look as if they had no knowledge of what was going on?

As a side note, but maybe not really a side note, after writing their May 13, 2004 article, Risen, Johnston and Lewis have written many more articles on torture and renditions. They are, one believes, among The Times' "men in Havana" on these subjects, and have done some wonderful work. Yet, insofar as this writer knows, after May 13, 2004 they never again mentioned the subject of George Bush's knowledge. Why not? Perhaps someone should specifically ask them why not.

The Times' editorial page, it seems, has itself come around to thinking that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. In a March 8, 2005 lead editorial entitled "Torture by Proxy," it blasted rendition and said that assurances from other governments that rendered prisoners will receive humane treatment "are worthless, and the Bush administration surely knows it." Before 9/11, The Times said, the CIA had "occasionally engaged in the practice" of "extraordinary rendition." (Emphasis added.) "But after the attacks in New York and Washington, President Bush gave the agency broad authority to export prisoners without getting permission from the White House or the Justice Department. Rendition has become central to antiterrorism operations at the C.I.A., which also operates clandestine camps around the world for prisoners it doesn't want the International Red Cross or the American public to know about." (Emphasis added.)

"The Bush administration," the editorial later continued when explaining why the supposed assurances of humane treatment given by other governments are worthless, has long since made it clear that it will tolerate torture, even by men and women in American uniforms. And why send prisoners to places like Syria and Saudi Arabia, if not for the brutal treatment Americans are supposed to abhor? (Emphasis added.)

Analogously to parts of Scheuer's piece, The Times, if you closely parse its language, does not actually, explicitly say that Bush approved rendition in order to facilitate torture, but one gets the pretty clear impression from the editorial that this is exactly what is meant.

Another series of documents indicating that Bush may be guilty of an impeachable felony are complaints recently filed on behalf of tortured former detainees in the federal district court in Chicago. The complaints were filed for the former detainees by two organizations, one being the American Civil Liberties Union, which, via Freedom of Information Act litigation, has had access for a period to government documents that were long kept secret. (The ACLU has, I gather, made some of them public.) The suits do not name Bush as a defendant. Rather Rumsfeld and others are named. But lengthy complaints of more than 70 pages set forth facts making it almost certain that Bush knew what was going on. For example, complaints say that there were "many credible and reliable reports of torture from governmental and non-governmental sources beginning in January 2002 and continuing throughout 2003 and 2004." (Emphasis added.) They say that several of the plaintiffs were held, and tortured, in the last half of 2003, and in the first half of 2004, periods long after the reports began surfacing. (They also describe the tortures in horrifying detail.) They say that in January 2002 Amnesty International sent Rumsfeld letters objecting to methods of torture that were being used, the FBI apparently complained to DOD about such methods in late 2002, The Washington Post reported about such methods in late 2002, and several prominent newspapers reported on torture, including deaths of detainees, in March 2003 (the papers included The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Atlanta Journal - Constitution). The complaints also say that "on March 10, 2003, Amnesty International sent a letter to President Bush, with a copy to . . . Rumsfeld, calling upon the U.S. government to investigate allegations of torture and other abuse at the Bagram detention facility. The letter described specific cases of abuse." (Emphases added.) The complaints say that, starting in May and June of 2003, the Red Cross sent "reports detailing abuses" to the American command, and that "[t]he May 2003 report described 200 allegations of torture and other abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers." They say that "Colin Powell confirmed that . . . Rumsfeld knew of the various reports by the . . . Red Cross, stating that he and . . . Rumsfeld kept President Bush regularly apprised of their contents throughout 2003. (Emphasis added.) The complaints say that in May, 2003 Amnesty International "publicized allegations of torture and other abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. and British forces, including beatings and electric shocks" and in June 2003 Amnesty International complained of a death in custody of a detainee. They say that, in early July of 2003, the Red Cross sent our military forces in Iraq a paper detailing about "50 allegations of abuse, and violence against detainees."

These kinds of allegations in the complaints go on and on through the last half of 2003, and then there are similar or analogous allegations regarding 2004. But enough has been said here already, including the complaints' claims of extensive publicizing of abuses in major newspapers in late 2002 and early 2003, a letter from Amnesty International to Bush himself on March 10, 2003, and Powell's statement that he and Rumsfeld kept Bush apprised of what the Red Cross was saying, to show that from relatively early in the game Bush must have known what was going on. As well, the allegations of the complaints, as said previously, are that the particular plaintiffs were tortured in the last half of 2003 and in 2004, long after Bush must have known what was going on but obviously had not stopped it (since the administration wanted the information that it thought torture would elicit).

So there already is much indication, in the public arena via newspapers and complaints, showing that Bush likely is guilty of the impeachable felony of conspiracy to commit torture. Let me turn, then, to a more exact legal description -- but hopefully a description intelligible to laymen -- of precisely what constitutes the crime, so that liberal bloggers can better know what ought to be discussed and/or investigated.

The anti-torture statute is designated as Title 18 of the United States Code, Sections 2340, 2340A and 2340B. Section 2340A, subsection (a), makes it a crime for an American to "commi[t] or attemp[t] to commit torture" "outside the United States." (The drafters relied on state laws against assault, battery and murder to combat torture within the United States, but this is no never mind here because we have been engaging in torture outside the country.) One who "commits or attempts to commit torture" outside the United States "shall be fined . . . or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from [the prohibited] conduct . . . shall be punished by death or imprisonment for any term of years or for life." Under subsection (c) of Section 2340A, "A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section [i.e., who conspires to commit or attempt to commit torture outside the United States] shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense . . . ."

The statute also describes what constitutes torture, in Section 2340. "[T]orture means an act committed by" governmental personnel "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control." What constitutes severe physical pain is left to common sense. Severe mental pain is further defined, however. "'[S]evere mental pain or suffering' means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -- (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; . . . (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering . . . ."

Under these provisions, it is clear, U.S. personnel have been engaging in prohibited torture abroad. Just to cite some, not even anywhere near all, of the obviously torturous kinds of conduct discussed in the complaints filed by the ACLU, we have beaten detainees with rifles, beaten detainees to death, threatened them with death, waterboarded them, forced them to kneel or squat for hours (these are so-called stress positions), used electric shocks, made them fear electric shocks from wires attached to a man's fingers, toes and penis, threatened to harm their families, hooded them to make it difficult for them to breathe, punched and kicked them, torn out their toenails, threatened them with vicious dogs, made them sit or lie on blisteringly hot surfaces, hung them by their arms, stabbed them, denied them needed medical treatment, denied them food and water for long periods, and used numerous other techniques. Many, maybe even most, of the allegations of abuses in the complaints have been corroborated in the media and by reports (and, what is more, the Executive has refused to make public a memorandum, which I believe was written in late August 2002, detailing what techniques of torture it had authorized). As written by Joshua Dratel, what we have done "constitut[es] torture by any definition, legal or colloquial."

This is a record that a person like George Bush can be proud of.

Let me turn now to reasons, some obvious and some not so obvious, why liberal bloggers should make a point of discussing and investigating whether Bush is guilty of a serious, impeachable felony. There is one argument which is so obvious (although it is terribly politically partisan) that I'm a bit surprised it does not seem to have surfaced. If George Bush were to be impeached, let alone impeached and convicted, because of a serious felony punishable by life imprisonment, or even if there were considerable public discussion, backed by facts, claiming he is guilty of such a felony, the jig would largely be up for him, and the Republican Party could very well lose in 2008, just as the Republicans lost the White House in 1976 after Nixon got whacked and had to resign, and just as the Democrats got smashed in 2000 after Clinton was impeached. Many of the gains the Republicans made in 2000 and 2004 might be reversed.

Now, I am not a Democrat, and my regard for that party is only a trice higher than my virtually non-existent regard for the Republicans. But one supposes that most liberal bloggers are Democrats or heavily favor them, just as conservative bloggers are, or at least heavily favor, Republicans (and therefore are unlikely to attack Bush regardless of how criminal or unwise his conduct may be). With liberal bloggers almost surely favoring the Democrats over the Republicans, and likely to greatly dislike, even despise, Bush to boot, one would have thought they would have focused on whether Bush has committed a serious crime, since an affirmative answer to this question would probably finish him.

There are other reasons, however, which assuredly are not politically partisan, but which go to the fundamental actions and nature of this country. (One might say they are intellectually partisan.) In the view of some of us -- and the number of people holding this view is, one thinks, vastly increasing -- for about 52 years this country, for its own purposes, has been fomenting wars, coups, right wing revolutions and assassinations all over the globe, and for decades has been pursuing a form of globalization that has wreaked harm on hundreds of millions of people. These things have been done, in major part, for the benefit of the large corporate interests and the wealthy people of this country (like the Bush family). George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other Bushies are the very embodiment of the American views and conduct which have led the country to fight war after war since 1965 and to build an economic global empire that largely benefits them and their kind while economically crucifying so many others, both here and abroad. The Bushies have even been willing to destroy the constitutional system in pursuit of their goals by secretly pretending, for as long as they could get away with it, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, can override the laws passed by Congress, specifically the law against torture, secretly pretending for as long as possible, in order to try to negate a law passed by Congress, that the most abominable torture isn't torture, and claiming that, as Commander-in-Chief, the President can enter warfare just about whenever, and against just about whomever, he chooses. If people like George Bush and his cohort continue in power, and continue doing what has been done since about 1953, the country will one day face disaster. Every empire in world history has ultimately been destroyed. Sooner or later, in one way or another, much of the world will gang up on us, as Muslims are already doing within the still confined limits of their own power. As rich as we are, and as powerful as we are, continuing down Bush's imperial path will one day bring us down. So it is essential for the long run health of the nation to put an end to the hubristic and often hypocritical policies we have followed for over 50 years and, in order to accomplish this, to bring low the architects and proponents of the hubristic policies. If Bush and his crowd were found guilty of a felony because of horrid abuses in the course of their imperial project, and were accordingly impeached and convicted, this would almost certainly go far towards discrediting hubristic imperial actions and those who desire and order such policies.

Yet another very important, politically non-partisan (but intellectually partisan) reason why liberal bloggers should act relates to what has been occurring in the halls of governmental and corporate power for 40 years. I speak of horrible abuses of power that often amount to serious crime. From Johnson, McNamara, Rostow and Rusk to Nixon and Kissinger, to Clinton, to George Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, from Billy Sol Estes to Michael Milken and Charles Keating, to Bernie Ebbers, the Enron crowd, the Tyco crowd, the Worldcom crowd and the Arthur Andersen crowd, this country and its economy have been filled with criminals, some convicted, some not even put on trial. These people and their dishonesty have caused economic and international disasters. We will never put a stop to this until we start putting them all in the slammer, no ifs, ands or buts. But the way things have worked for years, many of them do not go to the slammer, and none of the government officials ever do. Most of them, and all the government officials, retire to a life of wealth and prestige, McNamara, Nixon and Kissinger, for example. The criminal conduct and the gross abuses will be with us until all miscreants of this type get put in the slammer, so that jail, not wealth and prestige, awaits them.

George Bush and his cohorts are only the latest example of people who are willing to commit criminal evil because they are confident that no punishment possibly awaits them. For this reason, and others, liberal bloggers should begin to discuss, investigate and make a concerted effort to bring to public attention what Bush and his buddies have done, so that there will be impeachment, conviction and subsequent criminal liability if, as one suspects, serious crimes have been committed.

Nor should anyone hesitate in this regard because, at this instant of time, there is extensive trumpeting and at least some possibility of some democracy coming to the Middle East. This is a matter of foreign relations, and, in foreign relations, anything and everything is here today, gone tomorrow. Who knows what the situation will be a month from now, let alone six months from now or a year or five years or ten years from now. Saddam Hussein was once someone on whom we showered favorable attention -- Donald Rumsfeld did so, no less. Then Saddam became an enemy. Osama bin Laden was in effect an ally against the Russians in Afghanistan. Then he became an enemy. And do you remember Ahmad Chalabi? Iran was a friend. Then it became an enemy. We fought what might have been history's most bitter war against Germany and Japan. Ten years or less after the war ended they were linchpin allies. Short-term thinking, engaged in because of a current situation in foreign affairs, is most unwise; failing to discuss and investigate Bush's possibly felonious conduct because of highly changeable events of the last month is unwise. What is wise and necessary is to consider and act on principles designed for the long term.

In the long term, we will face disaster if, as Kipling put it, we continue to put our "trust [i]n reeking tube and iron shard," if we continue -- to use John Quincy Adams' phrase about what America doesn't do -- to go "abroad in search of monsters to destroy." In the long run, we must put our trust in our ideals. It is our ideals, not our weapons, and certainly not our bombings, cannonading and shootings of civilians and our invasions of countries, which caused people around the world to admire America instead of reviling it as so many do today because of our military and economic policies. It is our ideals that made America, as Lincoln knew, the last best hope of earth. People like Bush, many of his predecessors, and his henchmen colleagues, threaten those ideals and threaten our well-being as a people. They are evil human beings. No one who cares about these matters should hesitate to discuss and investigate whether Bush and his crowd have committed serious crimes, especially since, if it is found that they have committed such crimes, there could be major changes in the situation. The mainstream media has utterly failed its responsibility in this regard. I urge bloggers to step into the vacuum.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Re: Response to Summers Affair Blog

----- Original Message -----

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
To: Brown, Mark
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 1:45 PM
Subject: Re: Response to Summers affair blog

Dear Mr. Brown:

I think my post on Larry Summers went far beyond the possibility, or fact, that he "keeps up with recent studies and arguments."

Sincerely yours,

Lawrence R. Velvel

----- Original Message -----

From: Brown, Mark
To: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 9:11 AM
Subject: RE: Response to Summers affair blog

Is there ever an “incorrect view”? I think, after serious research and scholarly debate, factual assertions can be proven wrong. But from my reading of Steven Pinker’s book, The Blank Slate, and Pinker’s piece in the The New Republic, the facts Summers was referring to have not been disproved. Rather, it appears that boys and girls, as a group and on average, may have innate cognitive differences. I fail to see why recognizing this possibility is so upsetting. Recognize and disprove it, but don’t crucify the guy because he keeps up with recent studies and arguments.

Mark Brown

-----Original Message-----

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel [mailto:velvel@mslaw.edu]
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 8:41 AM
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
Subject: Response to Summers affair blog

March 10, 2005

The following were received from Nancy Hopkins at MIT and from "A member of the Harvard community."

Lawrence R. Velvel

Thanks for sending this. It is so well written and very interesting. By the way, when I was listening to the speech as delivered, I never doubted that these were the beliefs of the President of Harvard. That was what was so upsetting. That the person in that position of power held these incorrect views that are so damaging to women students and faculty.

Best regards,

Nancy Hopkins

Your post on Lawrence Summers was excellent, particularly in giving careful examination to: (1) whether Summers is, at least from the perspective of the demands placed on him by his current job, a person of high intelligence; (2) whether his examples of other groups which are underrepresented in various fields have any basis or meaning; and (3) whether he's a bully of the sort who should not be in a leadership role at a university.

On the first and second points, my spouse, who grew up in a rural area on a small family farm, and whose father raised a large family (starting only with a high school education and without his wife working outside the home) based on income solely from the farm, was disdainful of the idea that Summers supposedly has a tremendously impressive mind.

In the view of my spouse, anyone who's handled the job as Summers has handled it cannot be that smart. For instance, it seems doubtful Summers would have the acumen and adaptability to achieve the success my father in law did starting as a tenant farmer with literally nothing.

Summers undoubtedly possesses narrow intellectual capabilities of great utility in the field of economics, but I don't see that counts as "high intelligence" in any meaningful sense -- any more than the idiot savant character played by Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" would be regarded as highly intelligent simply because he could do things like tell you the weather on any day in the past 40 years, or quote the accident rates for all forms of transportation methods, or memorize a phone book, or instantly count 246 toothpicks before they hit the floor, mental capabilities apparently all based on the capabilities of real people.

A member of the Harvard community

Re: A Summers Affair

March 10, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

The following were received from Nancy Hopkins at MIT and from "A member of the Harvard community."

Lawrence R. Velvel

Thanks for sending this.
It is so well written and very interesting.

By the way, when I was listening to the speech as delivered, I never doubted
that these were the beliefs of the President of Harvard. That was what was so upsetting. That the person in that position of power held these incorrect views that are so damaging to women students and faculty.

Best regards,
Nancy Hopkins

Your post on Lawrence Summers was excellent, particularly in giving careful examination to: (1) whether Summers is, at least from the perspective of the demands placed on him by his current job, a person of high intelligence; (2) whether his examples of other groups which are underrepresented in various fields have any basis or meaning; and (3) whether he's a bully of the sort who should not be in a leadership role at a university.

On the first and second points, my spouse, who grew up in a rural area on a small family farm, and whose father raised a large family (starting only with a high school education and without his wife working outside the home) based on income solely from the farm, was disdainful of the idea that Summers supposedly has a tremendously impressive mind.

In the view of my spouse, anyone who's handled the job as Summers has handled it cannot be that smart. For instance, it seems doubtful Summers would have the acumen and adaptability to achieve the success my father in law did starting as a tenant farmer with literally nothing.

Summers undoubtedly possesses narrow intellectual capabilities of great utility in the field of economics, but I don't see that counts as "high intelligence" in any meaningful sense -- any more than the idiot savant character played by Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" would be regarded as highly intelligent simply because he could do things like tell you the weather on any day in the past 40 years, or quote the accident rates for all forms of transportation methods, or memorize a phone book, or instantly count 246 toothpicks before they hit the floor, mental capabilities apparently all based on the capabilities of real people.

A member of the Harvard community

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Re: A Summers Affair

March 8, 2005


Re: A Summers Affair
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

So much ink has been spilled over the Larry Summers situation that one may well wonder whether there is anything to be said that has not been said already or has been said but little. Yet, this writer thinks there may be some additional points that have not been made publicly or have been mentioned infrequently in public.

Let me begin with a comment that this writer would have made only obliquely as recently as a week ago, because it would have stamped one as odd-man-out, as entertaining a view that is bizarre. But recently I read the very point, or something so close to it as to be indistinguishable, in an article by Stanley Fish in The Chronicle of Higher Education. So if the view to be expressed here is bizarre, at least one is in high falutin’ company.

The point in mind is the question of whether Larry Summers has sufficient acumen, sufficient intelligence, to be the President of Harvard. On its face this seems like a crazed question, does it not? After all, Summers is widely regarded as something akin to a genius. Robert Rubin has called him the smartest person he knows. Other people say he is often the smartest guy in the room. He is said to have been one of the youngest professors ever to receive tenure at Harvard. He was at the middle of (complex) international economic bailouts. How could this guy not be smart enough to be President of Harvard? (Or of the United States, for that matter, as examples show.)

Fish, however, seems to have his doubts, as strikingly indicated by a couple of acerbic comments in his article. He quoted one of the organizers of the conference (a Harvard professor) as saying, among other things, that Summers had not been invited as the President of Harvard, but rather "‘We invited him because he has an extremely powerful and interesting mind.’" Then Fish said this about the professor’s full statement: "There are so many things wrong with those statements that it’s hard to know where to begin. First, Summers’ powerful and interesting mind must have been taking a day off." This last sentence, funny and sarcastic though it is, and perhaps because it is sarcastic, would not seem to indicate a high regard for Summers’ acumen. This is only the truer because Fish then spends hundreds of words explaining numerous reasons, including ones apparently unappreciated by Summers, as to why, as President of Harvard, Summers "is no more free to pop off at the mouth about a vexed academic question than George Bush is free to wander around the country dropping off-the-cuff remarks about Social Security or Islam." I do not agree with everything Fish said in fleshing out his argument, but it does seem clear that his argument, with its explicit and implicit criticism of Summers, indicates that he does not have a terribly high regard for Summers’ acumen.

This point is again borne in on one in the last paragraph of Fish’s article. In that paragraph Fish levels a string of (quite funny) jabs at Summers (he "makes Prince Harry of England . . . seem sensitive and sophisticated," he "makes the proverbial bull in the china shop seem like Nijinsky," he "cannot be trusted to go out into the world without a keeper"). In the midst of all this Fish says, "Does Harvard want a president who, despite the reputation for being brilliant (where’s the beef?) acts as if he were the leader of the Know Nothing Party?" "[W]here’s the beef?" With regard to Summers’ reputation for brilliance, "where’s the beef"? "Where’s the beef" is a phrase which has come to mean there’s little or nothing there (or, as in Gertrude Stein’s statement about Oakland, "there’s no there there"). "[A]s if he were the leader of the Know Nothing Party"? -- the short-lived 1850s political party that is historically infamous for nativism, intolerance, and, if memory serves, ignorance? Wow! "Where’s the beef" and "leader of the Know Nothing Party" are strong stuff. At minimum they seem to indicate that Fish has some qualms about Summers’ acumen.

(One suspects that much of Fish’s criticism of Summers could be thought to relate to what is now called emotional intelligence, rather than intellectual intelligence. But in truth I wonder whether there always is a rigid separation between the two, and tend to doubt a universal separation, since it would seem that a person of reasonable intellect could understand that his or her speech and conduct goes over like a lead balloon. We no longer believe in a rigid separation of mind and body, do we? So why should we believe there is always a rigid separation of different kinds of intelligence?)

In any event, Fish’s questioning of Summers’ acumen emboldens a perhaps less confident writer to put the same issue more directly than he otherwise would. What will be said here comes at it from an entirely different angle than Fish does, however. It is, moreover, very surprising that there seems to have been almost no comment whatever about the matters that are bothering me. One Harvard professor (and Summers opponent) is the only person from whom I have seen so much as a single quote about a single aspect of the matter. Of course, it is entirely possible that others have remarked on it publicly and this blogger simply failed to see their remarks.
When Summers began his speech at the NBER Conference, he said "I’m going to confine myself to addressing one portion of the problem [of diversity in science and engineering], or of the challenge we’re discussing, which is the issue of women’s representation in tenured positions in science and engineering at top universities and research institutions, not because that’s necessarily the most important problem or the most interesting problem, but because it’s the only one of these problems that I’ve made an effort to think in a very serious way about." (Emphasis added.) He then went on to make a second prefatory remark, which one must quote, despite its great length, lest paraphrase of a long comment inadvertently create error:

The other prefatory comment that I would make is that I am going to, until most of the way through, attempt to adopt an entirely positive, rather than normative approach, and just try to think about and offer some hypotheses as to why we observe what we observe without seeing this through the kind of judgmental tendency that inevitably is connected with all our common goals of equality. It is after all not the case that the role of women in science is the only example of a group that is significantly underrepresented in an important activity and whose underrepresentation contributes to a shortage of role models for others who are considering being in that group. To take a set of diverse examples, the data will, I am confident, reveal that Catholics are substantially underrepresented in investment banking, which is an enormously high-paying profession in our society; that white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association; and that Jews are very substantially underrepresented in farming and in agriculture. These are all phenomena in which one observes underrepresentation, and I think it's important to try to think systematically and clinically about the reasons for underrepresentation.

There are three broad hypotheses about the sources of the very substantial disparities that this conference's papers document and have been documented before with respect to the presence of women in high-end scientific professions. One is what I would call the -- I'll explain each of these in a few moments and comment on how important I think they are -- the first is what I call the high-powered job hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described.

Let us now discuss these various prefatory remarks. We shall put aside his comment that the issue of tenured women in science and engineering at top institutions is not necessarily the most important or interesting problem. Summers’ mode of expression here certainly does seem to downplay, or downgrade, the issue, but I gather it is also true that there is a serious, lamentable shortage of minorities in science and engineering. The latter shortage might be regarded by Summers as of at least equal or greater importance and interest. If he thinks this, one might forgivably pass over his infelicitous mode of expression -- although, on the other hand, maybe the infelicity is the first of several tipoffs on where he really stands, a subject to be returned to later.

But then he continues by saying that the reason he will discuss the question of women in science and engineering is "because it’s the only one of these problems that I’ve made an effort to think in a very serious way about." He has made an effort to think about this in a serious way? Then how is it, especially if he is so brilliant, that he seemed so deficient in understanding the effect that discrimination and socialization have had upon women who might otherwise have sought careers in science and engineering, and that discrimination has had as well even on women who nonetheless entered these fields? How is it that he seemed to lack appreciation of the very point in which commentator after commentator initially hammered him (until the talk turned to his style of management)? This is brilliance? If so, give me a dummy every time.

I shall return later to the question of Summers’ lack of understanding of the effect on women of discrimination and socialization. But let me now turn to his statement that he will not be judgmental, because women in science do not provide the only example of a group being underrepresented in an important activity. Rather, Catholics are underrepresented in investment banking, white men in the NBA, and Jews in farming and agriculture. This triple example of underrepresentation itself sets the stage for his claim that the shortage of women in science and engineering is due, first, to the requirements of high powered jobs (which he later says require 80 hours per week and undivided commitment), second, to lack of aptitude, and, third (in last place), socialization and discrimination.

His examples used to show that we should be non-judgmental because underrepresentation is common seem pretty strange in some ways, especially in view of his claim that aptitude is more important than socialization and discrimination. Start with Jews and farming. Do Jews lack aptitude for farming? Even Summers -- maybe especially Summers, who has been on kibbutzim -- should know that in Israel the Jews made the desert bloom as the saying goes. In America, Jews are not widely thought of as farmers, and it is widely thought that this is extensively a carry-over, a hand-me-down as it were, from their hundreds of years in eastern and central Europe, where they were widely denied the right to own land. (Even so, however, there were Jews who farmed or engaged in husbandry in New Jersey, were there not? I’ve also been told, though I can’t vouch for it, that in one of the old countries, Bulgaria, there were a lot of Jewish farmers.)

Israel is, of course, the big example, the outstanding example, of Jewish farming and agriculture. Israel is the outstanding example that it is not lack of aptitude, but far more likely the socialization forced on them in Europe, that causes there to be possible underrepresentation of Jews in agricultural America. Given what has been done in Israel, is it brilliant -- is it even sensible -- for Summers to claim that underrepresentation of Jews in farming and agriculture in the U.S. is a basis for urging that we should not be judgmental about underrepresentation of women in science and engineering because such underrepresentation is more attributable to lack of aptitude than to socialization and discrimination? The question answers itself, does it not?

Now let’s turn to the claimed substantial underrepresentation of Catholics in investment banking. Is this claim even true? Summers offered no evidence for it, saying only that he was confident the data would show it. This writer doesn’t know whether the claim is true or not, and can offer only that a lot of Wall Street names seem to be Irish or Italian in origin, and books one reads by Irish American or Italian American authors who grew up in New York seem to talk of buddies and acquaintances who went to work on Wall street because that’s where the money was. Italian Americans mainly have been Catholic, of course, and this is also true of many -- one would even guess a majority -- of Irish Americans, although there also are Protestant Irish Americans who are descendants of the Irish who came to America early-on, in the 1700s rather than the 1800s. But, notwithstanding names, without data one really doesn’t know whether Catholics are or are not "substantially underrepresented" in investment banking, and, as said, Summers offered no data.

Perhaps, then, one might echo back to Summers a comment he made to a member of the audience at the conference who said -- one gets the sense from the transcript that this person dared to say -- that there were "a lot of people in the room" who are experts on the issue of women’s underrepresentation, many in the room "would disagree with your hypotheses and premises," and there is evidence in support of their position. Summers replied by saying, among other things that read harshly in transcript (and to which I shall return), that, "I don’t presume to have proved any view that I expressed here, but if you think there is proof for an alternative theory, I’d want you to be hesitant about that." Perhaps, in the absence of any offer of proof whatever, Summers himself should have been "hesitant about that" before saying that Catholics are underrepresented in investment banking. Maybe he is right. But is he in fact? And if he’s not, or if he doesn’t have the proof of his claim ready at hand, is it brilliant, is it even sound, to offer a supposed underrepresentation of Catholics in investment banking as a reason not to be judgmental about the dearth of women in science and engineering? What’s more, if Summers is right about the supposed underrepresentation, is the dearth due to 80 hour weeks or lack of aptitude, as opposed to socialization and discrimination? Why do I doubt that the answer to this question is yes?

And then there is the question of white men in the NBA. African Americans are disproportionately represented in the NBA (although it is also the case that great white ballplayers from foreign countries are now making some inroads). Yet the example is sort of odd nevertheless. For is it not true that discrimination kept blacks pretty much out of the NBA until this began to change in the late 1950s and 1960s, in the days of Elgin Baylor, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and other great black players? There were great black basketball players and teams before the late 1950s, you know, viz. the Harlem Rens of the earlier part of the 20th century, and the 1940s Harlem Globetrotters of Goose Tatum, Marquis Haynes, et. al., who in the 1940s twice beat the NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers of George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelson and Slater Martin and, for all I know, may never have lost to the Lakers. Since blacks were kept out of the NBA by discrimination, it is a bit strange to use their present dominance as an example for saying we need not be judgmental about women’s underrepresentation in science and discrimination because this is due more to 80 hour weeks and lack of aptitude than to discrimination and socialization. Were blacks kept out of the NBA because of 80 hour work weeks and lack of aptitude? It is perhaps less than brilliant for Summers to have made the argument from the NBA.

Indeed, to make the argument from the NBA may even be the furthest remove from brilliant. As said, blacks are disproportionately represented in the NBA -- and in college basketball too -- and have been for decades now. They also are disproportionately represented in the NFL, and in college football too, and again have been for decades probably. They equally are disproportionately represented in boxing (as are Latinos too) and have been for perhaps 50 years. And why is all this so? It is generally believed to be due to the fact that so many other avenues have been closed to them. As the Irish, the Italians and the Jews once did in boxing, African Americans extensively turned to sports, including basketball, because the professions and business were so widely off limits to them. If one accepts this conventional wisdom -- and are there many who don’t? -- then it hardly seems logical to cite blacks’ disproportionate representation in the NBA as a reason for not being judgmental about women’s underrepresentation in science and engineering. For if one accepts the conventional wisdom that discriminatory exclusion elsewhere is significantly responsible for African American overrepresentation in basketball (as in football and boxing), then it is quite logical to think that, just as African Americans were excluded elsewhere by discrimination and therefore turned to sports, so too women may have been excluded from science, engineering and other fields by discrimination and therefore turned to other endeavors. This all seems pretty simple, does it not?

Let me turn now to a wholly different question than that of Summers’ trumpeted brilliance. Let me turn to the question of did Summers really believe what he was saying when he ranked discrimination and socialization as the least of his three reasons for the dearth of women in science and engineering - - when he ranked it behind supposed lack of aptitude in particular. (Notice that I said the question is did he believe this, not does he believe it now. One gathers from his incessant apologies that the Dresden-like firestorm he created may have caused him to now rank his hypothetical causes in a different order, or at least to say he now appreciates more greatly the effect on women of socialization and discrimination.)

One cannot, of course, know what Summers really thought without being able to look into his mind, which obviously cannot be done. But judging from the transcript of his remarks, this writer’s guess is that he really did believe what he was saying, as indicated when he followed the initial statement of his three hypotheses with the sentence, "And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order I just described." It was further indicated, on should say, (1) by his later statements that (fairly extensively) deprecate the effects of socialization, especially because, he says, empirical psychology has been finding, in the last 15 years, that things widely attributed to socialization are not in fact attributable to it, and (2) that if there really were discrimination, some schools would seize on that defect to build a great faculty by making life extremely comfortable for and hiring large numbers of highly talented women -- a phenomenon, he says, of which he sees little evidence.

True, Summers also put in "grace notes," saying that perhaps his views were not right, that he was simply giving his best guess, that he was making his statements merely to provoke, that he would like to be proven wrong, and that we need evidence about this, that and the other in order to know. And his supporters have used his statements that he was merely seeking to provoke -- have seized upon these statements might be a more accurate way to put it -- to argue that Summers did not really mean what he was saying, but was just saying it to get people thinking. To which my response is, "bushwa." Reading the transcript creates the powerful impression, at least in this writer’s mind, that Summers believed in what he was saying and was putting forth argument after argument for it, but was also trying to some extent to draw the sting, as lawyers say, by putting in the grace notes that he was only giving best guesses, was only trying to provoke, etc. One can be fairly sure, moreover, that in the context of only 4 of 34 of Harvard’s most recent offers of tenure going to women, there surely must be those who are positive he meant what he was saying: indeed, one Harvard student was quoted as saying something to the effect that, in the context of 4 of 34, Summers’ statements were not some mere neutral proposition. ( It is irresistible, though not exactly logically related to the present point, to add that another Harvard student was quoted as saying, very trenchantly, that Summers would not have dared to make similar remarks about any other minority. The student was plainly correct - - can you just imagine what would have happened if Summers had made identical remarks about African Americans? Oh boy! He would have been out on his derriere in approximately three minutes. Yet he felt safe - - wrongly felt safe - - in making the remarks about women.)

Regardless of whether Summers actually believed what he was saying, however, a certain irony arises when one considers Summers’ own background. For in his remarks Summers seemed oblivious to the effects of socialization on his own views and, maddeningly, inherently dismissive, unaware or uncaring about the advantages socialization has given to him, even as he ranked adverse socialization and discrimination as the least important of his three hypotheses about women in science and engineering. To be sure, he did mention certain influences on him that could be thought of as socialization (this shall be discussed below). But he did not seem to recognize that these influences were a form of socialization. Nor did he display any comprehension whatever that influences he did not mention -- the influences of family, career and background -- are also forms of socialization and must have had a favorable effect for him or everything we have been learning about these matters for decades is wrong.

Saying that he would "broaden the problem, or the issue, beyond science and engineering," Summers then said "I’ve had the opportunity to discuss questions like this with chief executive officers at major corporations, the managing partners of large law firms, the directors of prominent teaching hospitals, and with the leaders of other prominent professional service organizations, as well as with colleagues in higher education. In all of those groups, the story is fundamentally the same." That story is that women who have been in the field for 20 or 25 years are not rising to the highest ranking levels proportionately to men, which Summers attributes to the fact that women are less willing to make the required "near total commitments to their work." It strikes me, however, that talking about the problem with "chief executive officers at major corporations, the managing partners of large law firms, the directors of prominent teaching hospitals, and with the leaders of other prominent professional service organizations" is itself a form of socialization. Maybe these people’s opinions are not only as Summers’ represents, but are right. But maybe they are not right, or are only half the story. Those people, after all, like anyone or any group, have their prejudices, often borne of their own personal methods and experience. Summers does not say he talked to any of the women who opted out of the race to the top, in order to get their views of why they did so. If he had spoken with them, maybe he would have gotten a very different take on the matter than the take provided by the hotshots with whom he associates. Maybe, as this writer often reads or hears, he would have learned of insults directed at women, of shabby and unfair treatment of them, of unjustifiable discrepancies in compensation and opportunities. Maybe he would have gotten a very different socialization. Who knows? But it is a thought, especially since so many women proclaim it (as do minorities as well, quite often). Yet Summers, who later tells us that research to a fare thee well is needed in order to know what the situation really is and what should be done -- research which would probably consume years and would cause just as much delay before there is improvement -- does not even indicate that he has spoken to the possible victims as well as the possible head perpetrators.

There is irony in the dichotomy, of course. But there is also additional irony here. If memory serves -- I’m not positive it does, but think it does -- Summers was defended by a fellow Harvard economist on the ground that his calls for extensive, time consuming research simply reflect the economist’s supposed desire for facts, for evidence. Yet, if there is one academic discipline which has become infamous in the last 50 years or so for using, relying on, praising and rewarding the creators of abstract mathematical models divorced from reality -- i.e., abstract models unfettered by real world facts or evidence -- it is the discipline of academic economics. The advent of the field of behavioral economics is only a relatively recent and quite welcome exception to this tired, rather preposterous abstract paradigm. Behavioral economics looks at what people really do instead of relying on a ridiculous classical economics paradigm of the supposedly perfectly rational man or woman who always acts in a way that optimizes his or her economic self interest -- the very paradigm which would likely account for Summers’ claim that, if women really had the same aptitude for science and engineering as men, we would be seeing schools snapping up and giving wonderful treatment to women scientists and engineers in order to greatly increase the quality of those same schools, in order to make the schools leaders in their fields. I would suspect Summers’ opponents would agree that the reason this rational economic actor paradigm propounded by Summers doesn’t work in the real world is that real world discrimination gets in the way of abstract models of perfection. Moreover, it would be contrary to the economic interest of men -- who do have some say in the matter, after all -- to see opportunities for their sex increasingly replaced by opportunities for women.

By the way, one wonders what would happen if Summers, who seems not to have talked to women about their reasons for quitting the race to the top, were to say that, after talking to his collection of CEOs, managing partners, etc., he believes the reason for the disproportionately low numbers of blacks at the top levels of our prominent institutions is that African Americans don’t want to put in the time it takes, or that they don’t have the aptitude, or that we need a zillion different kinds of years-consuming research before we really know what the situation is or what we should do about it. If he said such things with regard to African Americans, would he have lasted another ten seconds as President of Harvard? But, again, he somehow felt safe in saying them about women. No longer, I suspect.

Then there is the matter of Summers’ own background, which is a major part of anyone’s socialization. If one is the son of a family whose background does not enable it to give the children the knowledge, social skills, habits, or other preparation needed to rise in American society -- if, for example, one is the son or daughter of immigrant Greek, Italian, Mexican, Hispanic, Russian Jewish, Chinese, Korean or other families new to America, or if one is the son of a family that for generations has been in the working class, or is the son of poor African Americans -- then one may understand what it is to be socialized in a way that seriously injures or even cripples your ability to rise high on the American ladder. On the other side of the picture, of course, are those who are in some way to the manor born, because of advantages of money, education, social standing or some combination of these. At least on the face of matters, Summers had helpful advantages. He became, of course, an economist. Well, his mother was an economist, his father was an economist, one uncle, Paul Samuelson, is a very famous, Nobel prize winning economist, another uncle, Kenneth Arrow is a prodigiously talented and famous Nobel prize winning economist. Summers went to MIT as an undergraduate. He went to Harvard for graduate school. He was one of the youngest tenured professors ever at Harvard. There are lots of advantages there for someone who grows up to be an economist, and the only serious professional "setback" Summers seems to have suffered is that, ironically, he apparently was not admitted to Harvard for undergraduate school, so had to "settle" for MIT (where his famous Uncle Paul taught economics).

Summers’ background then, is not exactly that of a kid who started with the disadvantages of poverty, of lack of education, of not knowing how America works, or of families and friends saying you should not aim high because "our kind of people" are denied those kinds of jobs and are considered fit only for other kinds of jobs, for "lesser" jobs. Yet this fellow who has had so many advantages presumes to tell women -- who have been exposed to socialization that harms or cripples their chances in science and engineering -- that their failure to make inroads into those fields is due not to socialization, but more to lack of aptitude and unwillingness to make the necessary commitment. Looked at this way, one might aptly say that he has a lot of nerve, or maybe that he doesn’t even realize that he has had advantages denied to so many others, including women, or maybe that he has no empathy whatever despite all the (phony, I think) grace notes in his talk.

It is interesting, is it not, that the overall argument Summers makes -- that for various reasons women are not suited for the top jobs in what he calls the high powered professions -- is the same kind of claim that was made forty and fifty years ago to keep women out of those professions entirely. Harvard’s law school would not admit them at all, or certainly not in numbers; there is a legendary story about this involving Dean Erwin Griswold and, I believe, a future Supreme Court Justice (or "Justicess"). Women couldn’t get into medical schools, either. Harvard also took the lead, in 1971, in successfully lobbying Congress not to extend Title IX (which protects women against discrimination) to undergraduate admissions in private colleges. And, beyond women, long before 50 years ago, in the 1920s, Harvard and other Ivies took the lead in keeping Jews out of their undergraduate institutions, as well as professional schools. As for African Americans, don’t even ask. In all these instances it was said that, for one reason or another, the excluded were unfit. The only difference between those days and Summers’ position is that he gives different reasons for supposed unfitness.

There is yet another aspect of socialization involved here. Summers speaks of women in science and engineering at "top universities," at the "top 25 research universit[ies]," at the "top ten schools." It is obvious that Summers -- like so many others at Harvard, at the other Ivies, at Chicago, etc., etc. -- is an elitist. Top people in science and engineering -- and in law, and in English, and in any other subject you care to mention -- are at Harvard, Yale, some other Ivies, plus some other non-Ivy hotshot institutions around the country like Stanford, California, Chicago, MIT, CIT, etc. As for people elsewhere, they are just so much chopped liver. This is a prevailing attitude which has been bought into by most of academia, including, to my everlasting surprise, those academics who are the chopped liver, and by parents all over the country who are desperate to get children into a "top ten" school lest the kids become societal chopped liver.

It is hardly surprising, of course, that Summers obviously is an elitist. His socialization almost compels it. What different attitude, after all, what different form of socialization, could be expected from someone with his parents, his uncles, his undergraduate institution, his graduate institution, his professional jobs, his current position? For present purposes, however, the relevant point is not simply that he obviously is an elitist, but that it is only a short and often readily traversed step from elitism to a blithe willingness to downgrade the abilities of other people or groups. True, lots of Summers’ colleagues, at Harvard and elsewhere don’t take that step with regard to women and minorities, but instead believe women and minorities have the ability to enter the elitist tent. But this does not alter the fact that people like Summers do make the short, easy traverse from elitism to downgrading.

There is still one more aspect of the whole Summers affair that fascinates me. It is not an intellectual one. It is, rather, one that intersects personality and socialization.
The Summers affairs began as an upheaval over his views on women in science and engineering. But it then turned into a battle over his "style," so to speak. His detractors describe him as a kind of bully in his personal interactions with people. He is said to use an intimidating style. Opponents accuse him of being secretive, of being dishonest and manipulative, of seeking, contrary to Harvard’s longstanding ethos, to centralize power, of being autocratic, of engaging in hype and in grandiose schemes. It is said that, when he was new in government, he would roll his eyes at and belittle people’s comments. Even his supporters and friends, while praising his vision and intelligence, and saying he is very open-minded, concede that his style is confrontational. Apparently, this is sometimes thought to be because, his style, it is said, is Socratic, is a style of challenge.

This blogger has no personal, first-hand experience with Summers. Yet it is also true that, even in one of his answers to a question at the NBER Conference, Summers’ appeared to me -- even on a black and white transcript -- to be intimidating, bullying. Here is a fuller transcription of his tete-a-tete with the questioner:

Q: So it’s not so clear.
LHS: It’s not clear at all. I think I said it wasn’t clear. I was giving you my best guess but I hope we could argue on the basis of as much evidence as we can marshal.

Q; It’s here.
LHS: No, no, no. Let me say. I have actually read that and I’m not saying there aren’t rooms to debate this in, but if somebody, but with the greatest respect -- I think there’s an enormous amount one can learn from the papers in this conference and from those two books -- but if somebody thinks that there is proof in these two books, that these phenomenon are caused by something else, I guess I would very respectfully have to disagree very very strongly with that. I don’t presume to have proved any view that I expressed here, but if you think there is proof for an alternative theory, I’d want you to be hesitant about that.

Now, as a lawyer for forty-plus years in the academic world and the world of Washington, D.C., and having been exposed as well to the Manhattan legal world, this blogger has often seen personalties that fit the adverse descriptions applied to Summers. That kind of personality is reasonably typical of elements of the legal and political worlds. The only difference between those people and Summers is that they are lawyers and politicians and he is an economist, and they would not use an intellectualized phrase such as "I’d want you to be hesitant about that." Beyond this, the legal and political worlds of Washington, D.C. -- and large elements of the academic world too -- are dishonest, manipulative, bullying, and seek to centralize power in themselves. In part -- even in major part -- the people who typify these worlds get what they want by means of personalities that run roughshod over others. Now, Summers has lived in and succeeded mightily in worlds where these kinds of things are, shall we say, not rare. Conceivably part of his success could even be due to the fact that he too has a personality that bullies, confronts, runs roughshod. Not many people stand up to those kinds of personalities.

One rather imagines that most of the people on the Harvard faculty are not used to having to deal with this kind of personality -- at least most of the people on the undergraduate faculty, which has been the major or sole scene of the uproar, are not used to it. And, frankly speaking, nobody should ever have to get used to it. To say this is not to hold a brief for the excessive talk-things-to-death, lack-of-action-or-accomplishment, non-teamwork, highly egotistical every-man-for-himself nature of most academic life. To some extent, even to a major extent, Summers seems to me to be right in what he apparently meant when he once wrote that a university cannot be run like a kibbutz. But to believe this is not to also believe in the arbitrary, secretive exercise of power (which the Harvard Corporation too has recently been accused of), in manipulating, or in a bullying, intimidating persona. My own guess -- and of course it is only a guess -- is that the kind of persona which did Summers no permanent if any harm in some of the worlds he moved in previously with great success, and which could even have helped him there because bullying unfortunately tends to work in those worlds, in fact extensively tends to work there, may now have rebounded upon him with a vengeance because the unfortunate persona has truly infuriated lots of smart people at Harvard. What may work in Washington will not necessarily work in Cambridge.

Which leads to the question, of course, of whether Summers will change. He has repeatedly insisted of late that he will change in his relations with the Harvard faculty. But whether this will in fact occur remains to be seen. As one of his (female) opponents said to the press, it is pretty hard for a person to change his personality. Particularly when he is in his 50s, one would guess. A super bright friend of mine who lives and has been a huge success in California once said, when we were only about 23 or 24, that it is frightening to think that nobody we knew had changed since we were 15. To change when one is already over 50, and at that age to shed a (crocodile) skin which (apparently) has stood one in good stead for decades, cannot be the easiest thing in the world to do, although one would not say it positively cannot be done. No doubt Summers’ intentions are good: no doubt he meant what he said when he pledged to change. But whether this can actually be accomplished, whether Summers really can succeed in doing it, is still a question. It will be answered only by time.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.