Parsing the Rothstein Sentence.

David Brooks, typically a reductionist dodo who sees the world in two shades of binary, actually wrote an insightful column the other day on the virtues of the humanities and their application to the business world.

In particular, Brooks noted the power of analogies:

Studying the humanities will give you a wealth of analogies. People think by comparison — Iraq is either like Vietnam or Bosnia; your boss is like Narcissus or Solon. People who have a wealth of analogies in their minds can think more precisely than those with few analogies. If you go through college without reading Thucydides, Herodotus and Gibbon, you’ll have been cheated out of a great repertoire of comparisons.

I think there’s some merit to this.

I put up a picture from Save the Tiger yesterday because I found echoes of Harry Stoner in Rothstein’s letter and Nurik’s presentation to the Court.

Save the Tiger is one of the better films to examine the tensions between business, morality, success, idealism, and manhood set amid the backdrop of the moral and ethical conflicts raging in America in the early 70s.

Harry Stoner, a WWII hero who helped liberate Italy at Anzio Beach, is an upwardly mobile garment manufacturer living the “American dream.” Yet appearances are deceiving. His relationship with his wife is strained, his business is overextended and failing, and his reality is increasingly fractured by memories of his dead war buddies, the 1939 lineup of his treasured Dodgers, and glimpses of his idealistic youth, particularly his years playing baseball, drumming with a big band and listening to swing music.

The counterculture and the decaying values of Vietnam-era America meet Harry Stoner’s sliding immorality head-on, as Harry is faced continually with business decisions that weaken him morally and challenge him ethically, until his fragile efforts at holding it all together rip apart at the seams.

Scott’s self-described tale is similar — from Hebrew school to playing guitar in high school to forming a firm with Stu to seventy lawyers, no business, and an ever-increasing and all-consuming Ponzi scheme, Scott faced the same choices lawyers and businessmen grapple with daily — how to live a moral life and yet still achieve success, respect, and happiness.

Clearly Scott blew it. But like Harry Stoner, Scott’s demise was the product of a million small decisions, each of them wrong.

Judge Cohn focused especially on forging judicial orders:

“He forged these court orders to perpetuate the Ponzi scheme,” the judge said. “There can be no conduct more reviled than a lawyer perpetrating a fraud on the court.”

Actually, there is conduct more reviled that lawyers could engage in — Scott could have killed someone, for example.

Is 50 years too much? Rump thinks so, and David says it will probably be less after the Rule 35 reduction hearing.

In order to answer that question, we need to know the point of the sentence.Personally, I can’t figure out the relationship between crime and the sentencing guidelines — are they punitive, rehabilitative, preventative, arbitrary, or some mix of them all?

We sentence hundreds of thousands of people to lengthy sentences for distributing various forms of Soma — does that make sense?

I’d like to think however long Scott spends in prison, he will have an opportunity to spend a portion of his remaining years outside of a prison cell, but I can’t put my finger on why I think that.

Maybe Harry Stoner put it best — “The government has a word for survival. It’s called fraud.”

Scott’s going to learn survival first-hand.