Open Thread!

Income inequality is a hot topic among intellectuals. You've got Thomas Piketty's new book this month. You've got a new think tank this year, The Washington Center for Equitable Growthfounded to accelerate cutting-edge analysis into whether and how structural changes in the U.S. economy, particularly related to economic inequality, affect economic growth.


In more mainstream culture, one of the most popular songs of the year was a class-conscious tune by Lorde called "Royals":


I've never seen a diamond in the flesh
I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies
And I'm not proud of my address
In the torn up town, no post code envy


But everybody's like:
Diamonds on your timepiece
Jet planes
Tigers on a gold leash


We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair


And we'll never be royals (royals)
It don't run in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us, we crave a different kind of buzz


If Lorde is celebrating non-rich people's sense of fun and trashing pop culture's obsession with wealth, Alex Proud in the Telegraph takes things a step further and tells us that rich people are uncool and turning one of the best cities in the world into a boring, cultureless, rich zone:


the financiers who can afford inner London neighbourhoods are not cool. Visit Canary Wharf on any weekday lunchtime and watch the braying, pink-shirted bankers disporting themselves. Not cool. Peruse the shops at Canary Wharf. From Gap to Tiffany’s, they’re all chains stores and you could be anywhere wealthy, safe and dull in the world. Rich people like making money and spending it on dull, expensive things. That’s what they do – and they’re very good it. But being a high-end cog in the machine is not cool.


If any country actually takes on the issue of income/wealth inequality, we'll see if intellectual tomes about a return to the Guilded Age are an important factor or whether pop culture figures attacking the wealthy as the suckage has more of an effect.

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Obamacare checkup: 8 million signups


which will amount to 7 million or so after non-payers are weeded out. 


Around 28% of the enrollees comprise the crucial "young invincibles" aged 18-34. The same people make up about 40% of the total population, so this number could obviously be better. However this same cohort made up 28.3% of signups during the first year of Romneycare in Massachussetts, so the final numbers may not be far off the mix insurers were expecting nationwide.  


And in fact, premium increases for next year are starting to shape up to be around 7%. Annual increases were typically between 7-10% pre-Obamacare. The increase is far too high, given that inflation is <2%, but at the same time it doesn't look anything like the premium death spiral conservatives have been flapping their arms about.  


Not a bad bill of health for a "catastrophic failure".

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

you buried the lead in the very 1st line of the comment

brutusettu's picture

Fox News Channel and some other news outlets are working their little hearts out to undermine ACA (ACA has less letters, it should be ACA when typed, Obamacare when spoken, it will save time)




Obamacare is a badge of honor: worth typing it out. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Report: Jews ordered to register with pro-Russian authorities


in Donetsk:


Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to "register" with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.


Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website.


Donetsk is the site of an "anti-terrorist" operation by the Ukraine government, which has moved military columns into the region to force out militants who are demanding a referendum be held on joining Russia. The news was carried first by the Ukraine's Donbass news agency.


The leaflets bore the name of Denis Pushilin, who identified himself as chairman of "Donetsk's temporary government," and were distributed near the Donetsk synagogue and other areas, according to the reports.

Now it gets ugly. Really, really ugly.



this is true or not, Rand Paul might as well give up right now. Sabers are gonna be rattling big time in the GOTent.

And The Paul Brand. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .gets enough comparisons with Charles Lindbergh and America Firsters from the late 1930's without injecting open anti-Semitism into the comparison.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It isn't about his feelings towards Jews


It's his non conservative view that the USA maybe shouldn't be bombing the ever loving crap out of other countries all day every day. The Jewish angle just adds the Israel-firsters to the holy rollers and war profiteers on the republican side. 


Good night Aqua Buddha. The perm was off putting enough for me though. 


M Scott Eiland's picture

One can certainly argue that it isn't fair, but Paul the Younger has to deal with the baggage from his father as well as whatever enemies he manages to make on his own dime. Toleration of bigots is an accusation that has been thrown at Paul the Elder based on the whole newsletter thing, and embracing isolationism has definitely given both men a bit of nasty baggage that goes along with that. Charles Lindbergh was an American hero on the order that John Glenn later became before embracing the isolationist fools destroyed him--sinking the Pauls is small potatoes compared to that.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Lindbergh and isolationists

Jay C's picture

You have a point, but one might also posit that it wasn't so much Charles Lindbergh's embrace of domestic isolationists that tarnished his reputation, but his well-publicized enthusiasm for another set of friends altogether - an association he only dumped right after Pearl Harbor.


Associations, I think, that neither Ron nor Rand Paul have sunk as low as. That I know of.

Actual Nazis, No

M Scott Eiland's picture

Though to be fair, even Lindbergh attempted to withdraw from the abyss when the Nazis went to war with his country, and apparently did his best to atone for the worst of his sins.


On the other hand, Paul the Elder was apparently at least a tad careless about the sentiments that were published in a newsletter bearing his name. I tend to think that if attached to a more dangerous presidential candidate--or one less associated with bashing Dubya's foreign policy--that the online left would have utterly crucified someone with this record, rather than let Republicans have all the fun.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).


M Scott Eiland's picture

I thought it was the other side that had all the crazy anti-Semites on it. If true, there's apparently enough crazy a****les for everyone in this mess.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

That seems almost suicidally dumb if it's true. But it has the


smell of professional misinformation. That or the work of one none too bright administrator who is soon going to find himself out of work. The fact that Ukraine news reported the story first means something.  


I don't know that I would worry about pogroms yet, but Ukraine really doesn't need this kind of PR right now.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Anti-Defamation League questions the authenticity.


of this diktat.  From the establishment of Ukraine in the wake of WW1, the Bolsheviks had fought to bring Ukraine under their aegis.  They are doing so again. following the exact same pattern.  Forced out of Kiev, they went east to Kharkiv and consolidated their power on the other side of the Dnieper River.  After several tough skirmishes, pushed out of Ukraine again and again, they returned, with Russian help, ethnically cleansing the Germans and Tatars under Stalin.  It has all been seen before.


Oddly, Ukraine's Jews had sided against the formation of an independent Ukraine and generally sided with the Bolsheviks, who at least on paper did not discriminate against them. Jews were at the heart of the Russian Revolution.  Again, historically, it's been the ethnic Ukrainians who conducted the pogroms against Jews, not the ethnic Russians.  This isn't to say Jews were treated well in the USSR, they weren't.  But it wasn't as bad as in ethnic Ukrainian territory.


As I've said before, I don't trust any of the reporting coming out of Ukraine, from anyone.   It's all agitprop at this point.  But a well-told lie always contains a grain of truth and it's possible to triangulate from the exaggerations being told.  The Russians have been accusing the pro-Kiev camp of being pro-Nazi and that more than once. 

Didn't the Protocols of the Elders start off as a Russian fake

mmghosh's picture

too?  I agree that agitprop is all that is emerging, and we need to wait for the dust to settle.  It all feels very 1918ish.


Ultranationalist Ukrainians are as keen on genocide and ethnic cleansing as any other people.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Time For Heads To Roll

M Scott Eiland's picture

This little flyer should have been titled "How To Lie Down And Die In Front Of Bullies," and it should end the educational career of everyone who signed off on it or who expressed the slightest amount of support for it in a public forum, for they are not to be trusted with children, no matter what craven apologies they stammer out now.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I'm here to defend the Bullying Memo


Yeah, it's outrageous, but what the hell,  this is debate site.  Someone's got to take the other side.    OK, not so much to defend it as to float an explanation for how it might have got out.


The traditional definition of bullying was stuff like cornering a kid and beating him up for his lunch money,   or at the least picking on someone far weaker (physically or emotionally) and systematically making their life miserable.  There had to be an element of intention.


Those of you not working in education might not realize that "bullying" is a new buzzword in education/communication circles,  and the definition has been greatly expanded.  Faculty here had to go through anti-bullying training last year - not about students bullying students,  but faculty bullying faculty.   It's vague,  but the new definition appears to be any form of casual, even unintentional, unpleasantness to someone perceived to be at a lower,  or equal,  empowerment level.   Google up "microaggression" for more.


Routine insults,  obvious lack of politeness, scowling, or speaking in a sarcastic tone of voice would fall under the definition.


And you know what?  If someone is not making you feel threatened but is just trying to get on your nerves,  shrugging it off and acting like it doesn't bother you is probably the best strategy.   And given the reality of how kids deal with squealers,  going to the authorities to "tell"  is only going to make your life better if it was already pretty damn bad.


So here's my theory for how this thing got loose: someone took some not-so-unsound advice on how to deal with another kid who's tossing  playground insults at you,  and somehow pasted it into a memo about real old-definition bullying.


If We Ever Get Around To Tort Reform. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .one of the big ticket items should be changing the rules so that schools can--and must-- deal with problem kids the way they used to before the threat of being sued became so ubiquitous. I went to high school only thirty years ago, but it was made clear to all of us that if we were physically attacked, we had a right to defend ourselves without fear of being punished for it. It was also made clear that kids who became chronic problems would be shipped off to continuation school to rot, where they would not disrupt the educations of those who didn't choose to be violent, lazy little thugs. Call that section of the federal tort reform law "The Casey Heynes Child Protection Act" and call it a day.

And yeah, the ridiculous overextension of the term "bullying" should be reversed, though the basic principle of self-defense should apply at all levels--if one side initiates harsh words, the one attacked should be free to retaliate in kind without fear of punishment.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

One, I think you're mixing up self-defense with escalation.


Two, the kind of stand-your-ground rule for harsh language you're imagining is classically impossible to enforce. Who started it? Can you find out by asking the kids? Probably not. By asking the witnesses if any? Probably not. Were there any witnesses you can trust who saw how it started? Probably not. All you have are two bloody noses and two kids claiming self defense.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Gotta Say I'm With Scott Here


Who started it? 90% of the time it was the aggressive kid who always starts it and whom every experienced teacher figured out was going to be trouble within minutes, hours, or at most a couple of weeks from the first day of classes.


The problem is that they've also forbidden common sense and judgment, which used to be common enough. Not universal, mind you, but certainly common.


And, for that 1 in 10 fight where it's not clear who started it, just respond with minimal intervention. Either neither kid is a troublemaker, and the problem goes away, or one of them is and will soon endeavor to provide the school with opportunities for intervention.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Suppositious judgments don't cut it


if you're going to let one of the parties entirely off the hook on "self-defense" grounds. Think about it. Here's what you know: there was a fight, you have two black eyes and two torn shirts. One of the students involved has had disciplinary problems in the past. Both students claim the other started it. Are you prepared to completely exonerate the second student on those grounds alone? How do you think that decision will sit with the parents, the local community?  


For added fun:  


* The student with discipline problems is black, the "self defense" student is white; or  

* The discipline problem is poor, the "self defender" is rich; or  

* The discipline problem is a new kid from out of state, the self defender is from an established local family; or 

* The discipline problem comes from a broken, abusive home, while the defender has wonderful, attentive parents

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

The psychopathology of bullying is well understood.


We don't have to put suppositious or hypotheticals into play.  Aggression is a learned behaviour.  School is supposed to socialise children, teach them more than a few facts and dates.  Most of what you'll ever learn in school is learned in the playground.  It's certainly true of language, the other great social skill.


There are two predictors for violent crime in later life: being a bully and being bullied.  Shouldn't surprise anyone, that the victims evolve into violent people.  I was bullied.  I evolved into an incredibly violent person.  Not the sort of violence which manifested by whacking everyone who got on the wrong side of me.  A patient, relentless sort of revenge seeking which understood how the adult mind worked.  The sort of idiocy which reduced violence to Discipline Problems and commingled social considerations with the terms of assault and battery.  Adults, especially teachers, view such things as problems for themselves, not for the children who are bullied, or, indeed for the bully himself.


Bullies don't start out bullies.  They learn to be bullies.  They know adults aren't paying attention and are as likely to punish the victim as the offender.  They're like Charlie Brown's adult figures - mawnh mwanh mwanh.  Adults do not listen to children.  Fact is. most adults strongly dislike children.  The "Discipline Problem" in this situation is the adult, who first allowed the abuse to fester.  And when it erupts, too obvious to ignore, it's only a problem for the adult.


What huge imago made

A psychopathic god:

I and the public know

What all schoolchildren learn,

Those to whom evil is done

Do evil in return.

Okay but none of that has anything at all to do with whether


teachers and administrators can easily identify aggressors and innocent victims of a schoolyard scuffle after the fact. We aren't talking about "real" violence, we're talking about fisticuffs after school.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Fisticuffs aren't violence?


Baffling.  Explain yourself.

Compared to stabbing, shooting, gang initiation, rape


and other horrors increasingly familiar in public schools, not really, particularly when we're talking elementary & junior high students.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

This line of comparison rhetoric is disgraceful.


I'm taking MSE's advice and backing away. 



didn't someone else in this very thread already compare the grade school memo to an official US military policy towards rape within the ranks and what kind of reaction these things would get?



And He Challenged That, If You Look

M Scott Eiland's picture

Blaise doesn't have any consistency problems in this discussion on that matter.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Check Out That Link About Israel Kalman I Posted

M Scott Eiland's picture

The Patient Zero for this whole superthread, and a willing one at that.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

He sounds like a dangerous idiot.


However, I can't even begin to imagine what his harebrained ideas about classroom discipline have to do with the point I've been making.  

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

We've Moved On, Jordan

M Scott Eiland's picture

Back to the larger discussion this arose from. Feel free to join it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Thanks, and I think I just did.


I don't have much more to say about Kalman's approach to classroom discipline other than: dumb and unworkable. Of course the same can be said for most "zero tolerance" rules as well.  


One thing I can say about Kalman's approach to school violence: it exactly reproduces the advice of a certain dude from Nazareth whose "turn the other cheek" precept is strikingly (heh) observed only in the breach, including by many Americans who otherwise rail to the heavens about the injustice of bans on school prayer (to the selfsame dude), the teaching of evolution, the need for religiously-grounded moral instruction of the young, etc. No endorsement intended: just an observation about the oddly, conveniently selective approach many people seem to take to religion. 



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Fortunately, I'm Agnostic

M Scott Eiland's picture

And there are few times it is more convenient than when any permutation of "WWJD?" is thrown into the conversation. I'll leave it at that, since I have no desire to descend into a display of Dawkinesque d***ishness.

And yes, I've never seen a "zero tolerance" policy that worked well.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It's jamokes like Izzy Kalman


who create these safe zones for bullies to operate.


Most of the harmful bacteria in our lives are Gram-negative.  Botulism.  Salmonella.   Gonorrhea.  They thrive in closed systems.  . They have specialised cell walls, highly malleable, so they can evolve resistance to antibiotics.  Bullies to Buddies is an infection.  Needs exposure to fresh air and sunlight. 

Recommend Walking Away At This Point, Blaise

M Scott Eiland's picture

I've certainly wasted enough of my time on this ridiculous display the past couple of days, and the fact that it continues after M.A.'s contribution tend to reinforce my view there.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Point taken, MSE.


I went to many different schools:  my old man always thought the grass was greener on the other side of the planet.  Therefore, I went to many different schools as he hauled us around.  Gave me some insight into the mechanics of bullying.  The most useless arguments seems to be "This I have seen, this happened to me, this happened to my wife, this happened to my children." 


There's no convincing anyone from such a position.  Sounds too much like an argument from authority.  Yet I would enjoy the prospect of watching someone attempt to dissect away "fisticuffs" from "violence", just gotta say.

Tomorrow's Headlines

M Scott Eiland's picture

The entire US criminal justice system just shut down--they realized that they get things wrong occasionally, so they're just giving up the whole thing.

As for applying the parade of horribles above, even a good system gets things wrong occasionally. Also:

--1 is irrelevant unless the black kid is actually innocent;

--2 is irrelevant unless the "bad" kid (rich or poor, since you didn't provide the reverse scenario where the bad kid is a Draco Malfoy wannabe) is innocent;

--3 is irrelevant. . .are you getting the pattern here?

Also, tort reform that lays out what conduct is expected of schools in these cases (an honest investigation, due process, and protection for lawsuits if rights are respected) would solve your concerns. A system that more readily segregated the troublemakers temporarily or permanently would also help with the process.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The US criminal justice system relies on speculation? -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

It Depends On Witness Testimony, At Least Partially

M Scott Eiland's picture

Meaning talking to the kids--or listening, if you're a juror and other witnesses, and deciding if you believe their stories. A crude version of forensics might apply if the teacher compares the state of the kids as far as bruising and/or damage to clothing, and other such factors. Juries do this every day, with less connection to the situation than--as MA pointed out--less evidence than a competent educational staff should have at their disposal in terms of their everyday exposure to the kids in question.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Of course


there's a difference between a fight (usually a bunch of yelling ensues and a huge crowd gathers) and one kid getting whaled on by another, and a pattern of such things happening. 


In my experience everyone in the fight gets busted. The kid getting pounded by another does not get busted. Semantics at this point. I don't see every fight as "bullying"

And Yet, It Used To Be Done

M Scott Eiland's picture

Remarkable how something that used to be done as a matter of course is now impossible.

Also, what I described is *not* escalation. Punching someone for mere words would be escalation. Words for words , violence for violence--neither of those is escalation. Punishing someone for exercising the same privilege that an adult would have if faced with physical violence is, bluntly, a violation of that child's rights, and schools shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. Giving them a legal basis for enforcing self-defense rights, and a duty to do so, is the best way to remove their excuse for doing so.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

My kids used to have a little game called Touch-Touch


You come up to someone you want to irritate and barely touch them with your finger, saying "touch-touch-touch!"  The rules of the Outside World said you had to tolerate such abuses, after all, it wasn't like you were hurting anyone - but those were not the rules Inside the House.  The touched could then decide whether to Touch Back or not.  Often, that Touch Back took the form of a Big Punch, but the Toucher could run away.  But since it was a game, there would be no punishment for a Big Punch.  Often, there wasn't even a real Big Punch, just the Touched yelling "Big Punch" and much horseplay to follow.


There were only three main rules in the house worth Dad getting involved.  Rule One: no lies, especially no lying to me, or hiding wrongdoing.  Whatever you did wrong, if I found out about it from the offender first, there were other ways of dealing with it.  Rule Two:  no intentional violence.  Three kids, there's gonna be some trouble, but we're a family and we don't attack each other.  Might as well have arms fighting legs.  Family fighting is insane, we not only don't fight each other we defend each other.  Rule Three, well, it was more like a contract, if you behave like an adult, I'll treat you like an adult.  If you act like a child, no fault there, I'll just show you how adults do it and we can get on from there.


You're absolutely right to say children need a legal basis for self-defence.  I contend the current attitudes and rules only create opportunities for bullies and other sorts, thieves and predators to thrive.  Removing the excuse lets out the foul air of this priggishness.  The current educational establishment refuses to admit it's created this Bully Monster by removing the right and obligation to defend not only yourself, but others who are weaker.  

No, no, no, that's not how the game is played


You most certainly do NOT touch. You get close enough that an atom would have to butter its hips to get between your finger and the target's skin, but you don't touch. The term repeated is "I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you." Now the sad part is where I admit that I still do this to my 42 year old brother.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Ideally, the distance is a few microns.


But allowances must be made.  For instance, the Touch must never become a Poke, for then the Pokesie Bird puts in an appearance.  (holds right hand out, flaps thumb and little finger)  When the Pokesie Bird flies (extends index and middle finger, as if to poke out eyes) all bets are off.  The only known defence against the Pokesie Bird is to hold your flattened hand up parallel to your nose, orienting the heel of your hand in the general direction of the Pokesie Bird.


Of the Chokesie Bird and Pinchie the Crab, or of the Iguana Toe, I shall say nothing.  Nothing at all.  State secrets.

No, it didn't. The time-honored method has always


been to punish both parties. Your dad will teach you to defend yourself; school officials never will, and never have. If you call someone a bad name and get caught: detention. If you get in a fight: suspension for both kids, etc.


And again, you're ignoring the reality that your "self defense defense" would be impossible to enforce in any practical sense. Bullies don't pick on kids in front of hostile witnesses, as a rule, making self defense impossible to verify. It isn't like principals have forensic investigators. Think of it as the "who started it?" dilemma. Every teacher has been there.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Um, No

M Scott Eiland's picture

Unless "time-honored" means "the last twenty years or so." I attended public school in California in the 1970s and early 1980s, and it was stated explicitly by the school officials in all three locations I was old enough to notice that students had the right to defend themselves if attacked (though if you are saying that the school would provide no training in that area, you are correct). Your comment is simply factually wrong.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

You've got to be kidding me. Cite?


Do you have any source or confirmation that school officials gave instruction that students had a "right" to defend themselves? I went to public school too, and the principle of "punish both (or all) parties to a fight" was universally enforced. In Texas, no less.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I'm backing up Scott here again


I got into exactly one significant fight and though nominally we were both punished, my punishment consisted of going to the guidance counselor and spending about a minute agreeing that the other guy was a prick, but not using that word.


New York northern suburbs, early 1980's.


Nothing would surprise me about Texas, either then or now, but it's a different country as far as I am concerned. Certainly Scott's left coast experience sounds way more familiar to me.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Did school officials publicly advise students


that they have a right to self defense? To hit back if they are attacked? 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Some Useful Links

M Scott Eiland's picture

Texas law allowing self defense to be considered as a factor in how and whether to impose discipline;

A pamphlet from Virginia that brings up self-defense and notes that policy on it is a local school board matter.

So I'm calling BS on the "it's IMPOSSIBLE!" defense for school boards who choose not to recognize a basic civil right for children--it's a discretionary call on their part at least in some cases, and they're making the wrong one.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Neither statute defines self defense (the OC CoC I linked to


does - it's extremely limited to just warding off blows). Neither statute explains how teachers and administrators are supposed to make determinations of the kind made in courtrooms, which have access to forensic evidence, expert testimony and witnesses under oath.  


Call BS all you want. School officials aren't equipped to make these kinds of determinations; furthermore they know from long experience that they aren't; and so they nearly always do the next best thing (punish everyone involved). Those are the facts.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

School Officials Have Advantages The Court System Lacks

M Scott Eiland's picture

Being around the kids all the time, for one. When I was in school, we knew who the troublemaking kids were and the faculty did too--the adminstration would also have access to records indicating whether either side had a prior history of bad behavior (or of being bullied--remember that Casey Heynes had repeatedly reported being bullied before the day of the notorious video, and gotten no help from the school). You don't need Perry Mason to put the pieces together in most cases, and even if the process made errors at least it would be an honest attempt to try to mete out justice rather than a Gallic shrug and punishing the victim along with the criminal.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Other Than My Own Memories?

M Scott Eiland's picture

I'm thirty years out of high school--IIRC you're a few years younger, and things started to change in those years. Why exactly do you think people are upset about this if this was the way it was when they were in school? Answer: It wasn't. This is a relatively recent development, and it is p***ing people off. The Casey Heynes incident a few years back took the whole thing to its absurd logical conclusion: one kid could walk up to another, strike him repeatedly, resulting in eventual retaliation, and the result was both students being suspended.*

*--plus, Casey ended up meeting Justin Bieber as a result. Cruel and unusual punishment, I say! :-P

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Should we take a poll or something?


I'm not doubting your memories, just doubting that the self-defense doctrine was ever widespread as official policy, and there's also the off chance that you misunderstood what you were told at the time. For example, Orange County Schools Code of Conduct (current) reads:  

Note: Self-defense is described as an action taken to restrain or block an attack by another person or to shield yourself from being hit by another person. Retaliating by hitting a person back is not self-defense and will be considered as fighting.  

This was pretty much the rule of thumb when I was in school throughout the 80s. You do (and did) have the right to protect yourself from physical harm. And honestly, even then you're as likely as not to get detention on the assumption that you had something to do with hostilities getting to that point in the first place. You did not have the right to retaliate in any way (verbal or physical), and if you did so, you would be punished with your aggressor. And nine times out of ten, school officials had no idea who the aggressor was anyway.  


Dave Benson, a Palm Beach County School administrator, remembers things pretty much like I do:  

“ ‘If you get yourself involved in a fight, you’re going to have to suffer the consequences. Defending yourself is trying to avoid being hit and blocking punches.’ “  

I asked Mr. Benson what he said to old guys like me who remember being bullied at school, punching the bully in the nose and then not being bullied anymore. “It’s a different time,” Mr. Benson said. He said he, too, can recall getting in a fight at Boca Raton High School in the 9th grade and the teacher picked him and the other kid up and “knocked our heads together.”  

Yet he said in his 25 years as an assistant principal, he can recall only one case out of many involving middle school and high school students in which one kid clearly was blameless in a fight. “If you don’t turn around and walk away, then you are not trying to avoid the fight,” he told me.  

Do I think he's factually wrong, and that he often punishes less deserving kids along with more deserving kids? Yes. But I can also see the reality of the problem: in 25 years on the job, only one clearcut case where it was possible to unambiguously identify the aggressor.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

He Sounds Like A First Class Idiot


25 years and ONE fight with a blameless participant?


The man is an idiot. His bar for "blameless" is idiotically high. We are talking about teenagers. Blameless is not picking fights. It should not require lack of response. How can you possibly build character by having people submit to aggression so passively? It's idiocy. A complete lack of understanding of the human condition.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Meet Israel Kalman

M Scott Eiland's picture

Professional "idiot" and (apparently) purveyor of the awesome advice that created this uproar. To me, anyone who would put this guy in front of kids in written or live form is the moral equivalent of a NAMBLA recruiter.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

So In Other Words

M Scott Eiland's picture

--school official admits that things used to be done differently;

--school official says that he has been on job last twenty five years and done things using the new way.

In other words, my memory reflects what actually went on back in the day. Thanks for the confirmation--the mealy mouthed excuse making by Mr. Benson is beside the point (and I note in your last sentence that you acknowledge that he's factually full of Bandini).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It's a little disturbing how we can read the same words


and reach diametrically opposing conclusions about the facts. Mr. Benson's Boca Raton High School teacher didn't bother sorting out who the aggressor was and who was trying to defend themselves: both parties are punished equally (via potentially concussion-inducing head knocking). The same principle held true throughout my years in school, and the same principle holds true today. There was no such thing as a "right" to self defense beyond the obvious moves of dodging punches and retreating: if you fought, and got caught, you got punished, period. Still isn't. Exactly like I've been saying.  


Mr. Benson has been a public school administrator since 1985. In all that time, he can only recall a single fight with a clear cut case of defense against an aggressor. Granted he might be suffering from conveniently exculpatory memory loss, but again his memories match mine exactly. Aside from rare cases, administrators do not and cannot identify cases of "legitimate" self defense. It's absurd to expect them to try. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

High school


In the mid 80s. A fight was a fight. Everyone involved got busted. It's extremely unlikely that any HS authority would have witnessed the string of events from words to shoves to punches that they could make a fair call even if they wanted. 


Almost every fight occurs out of the classroom, where there is far less observation. I'm sure scott remembers what he remembers, but it is extremely far fetched that an administrator could follow the fight narrative closely enough to make some reasoned call. Of course, there's always known troublemakers and I'm sure there's always some level of punishment judgment calls made. 



They see these kids every school day for years. You seriously think an education professional doesn't know who is who? Unless the school district sucks, there will be multiple faculty who know both kids well enough to have a reasonable understanding of what actually happened.


These things don't happen in a vacuum. The school is like an ecosystem. Every child fills a niche. The nerd, the jock, the bully, the brown nose, the class clown, the pothead, the psycho, the artist, the politician, the business guy and so on. Has that changed too? I doubt it. If the school system is competent, they know exactly who is who.


This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Oh I agree


and there's always going to bias in deciding these things, for good or for bad. 


Probably getting way too meta about this, but every fight I can remember seeing was preceded by surrounding kids whooping and hollering, followed by all the kids in the vicinity crowding in to watch. I can't think of any other scenario. In these cases both kids would generally both be busted, along with other smart-ass bystanders who laugh as the fight is broken up, or shout out rude remarks once the authority is on the scene.


I mean, the phrase "HE started it!" is a cliché for a reason. Different punishments might go on privately after the event. The suspected innocent kid might get a sympathetic talk with the principal, while the other gets parents contacted, detention or more, even police reports if its a repeat offender.

Very Disturbing

M Scott Eiland's picture

Particularly when one studies the two paragraphs in question:

I asked Mr. Benson what he said to old guys like me who remember being bullied at school, punching the bully in the nose and then not being bullied anymore. “It’s a different time,” Mr. Benson said.

Note the reaction. Not "that's crazy talk--you both would have been suspended and it wouldn't have helped at all." Instead, "it's a different time"--implicitly meaning, "yep, that's how it used to be."

He said he, too, can recall getting in a fight at Boca Raton High School in the 9th grade and the teacher picked him and the other kid up and “knocked our heads together.”

Note that he never claimed he was defending himself from an unprovoked attack--kids *can* get into fights where neither is the "victim," and therefore both would be subject to punishment. Making this anecdote irrelevant to arguments about self-defense, though also a reminder that school officials weren't always so terrified of being sued that they declined to deal with a problem directly.

Yet he said in his 25 years as an assistant principal, he can recall only one case out of many involving middle school and high school students in which one kid clearly was blameless in a fight. “If you don’t turn around and walk away, then you are not trying to avoid the fight,” he told me.

Which you acknowledged was a rather. . .factually challenged viewpoint, while suggesting that it was a difficult situation for them to deal with. Which somehow schools thirty years and more ago dealt with, and more recently have declined to do so in spite of authority to do so.

Things were different when I went to school than (apparently) when you went to school. The above anecdote supports my position that this is true.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

No, schools thirty years ago did not deal with it.


That's the point. There was no official policy other than the rules against fighting, and 99 times out of a hundred, both kids would be punished. The head-crunching anecdote is just one more example of that approach.


There certainly wasn't anything like an official "right to self-defense", aside from the three schools you went to, evidently. The fact that self-defense is virtually impossible to establish when dealing with schoolyard scrape-ups no doubt had everything to do with the non-policy then as now.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Not Official


It was not an official policy. On the other hand, the entire official policy of my high school at the time fit in three letter sized pages, with a dense layout, but still. Now the same school has a small book.


Meaning, there was a lot more judgment, and far less codified "process" at the time. IMHO, it was better for all concerned. And it was definitely understood that you could, and should, hit back. I cannot even imagine the notion that the coach who stopped the fight I was in would have ever respected me afterwards if I had just sat there or ran away. Man, anybody who did that would have been a school joke.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Scott is saying that officials (teachers, principals) at three


separate schools actively, pre-emptively advised students that they have an absolute right to hit back, no duty to retreat, exoneration from punishment if they were defending themselves, etc. It's that specific claim that runs counter to all my experience in public schools. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I Haven't Questioned Your Experience

M Scott Eiland's picture

And you're putting more headcanon* into what I've told you than was there. There was nothing in the rules as explained to me and my fellow students that would have kept us from being wrongfully blamed if there were no non-fight witnesses and our claim wasn't believed. However, there was no "duty to retreat," and yes, the implication was if we had to defend ourselves, we wouldn't be punished. Apparently it was more formal at the schools I went to (in Southern California, the last time I heard it would have been late 1981, just before my sophomore year). And after you've heard it from *two* separate people (albeit in slightly different forms), not to mention the *obvious* indications from that guy's story that it did used to be that way, that you'd be willing to stick to the "that was the way it used to be" line (unquestionably true, if the details almost certainly varied and now varies somewhat by location) rather than the unsustainable "it was never like this."

*-- definition of "headcanon" if you're not familiar with the term.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

By the same token, I never claimed that there was zero


attempt to sort out the innocent from the guilty in school discipline cases. You seem to be going under the assumption that I've been saying collective punishment was the official, immediate, and unquestioned policy uniformly throughout the country. That is not what I've been saying. I'm saying that it was and continues to be extremely rare for teachers or administrators to be able to rule one of the parties to an altercation completely innocent. 


In any case, you have now backed off the much stronger claim you made originally: 

I attended public school in California in the 1970s and early 1980s, and it was stated explicitly by the school officials in all three locations I was old enough to notice that students had the right to defend themselves if attacked. 

That's the part of your recollection I reacted to: that school officials made self defense an explicit, exculpatory policy. I'm pretty confident that that policy was unusual, possibly localized to that part of CA (Manson terror perhaps?). I was in public schools just a couple of years later, and while a PE coach or two might have talked about defending yourself and even put boxing gloves on boys that couldn't get along (there were a lot of fights, almost constant, at school, after school, for almost no reason, tons of bullying, even race riots a couple of times at my high school: it was Texas), there was no official policy. Fighting was against the rules: if you were fighting, you were in trouble.


My last grade school fight was in PE, with this kid who used to call me "Big Head". Hated me, for some reason. He was new in our school, came from the deeper South (Alabama, Mississippi, something like that). His brother had died by falling out of a tree with a rope tied around his neck: playing a game, I was made to understand. Only later did it occur to me that it might have been no game at all. One thing I never did was rag him about his brother, though I'm sure I said plenty of nasty things; other kids loved to push his buttons about it. I was baffled by why he had singled me out to be his enemy; as far as I could tell there wasn't anything special about me. Anyway, afternoon PE class, we're standing in line to do pullups and flexed-arm hangs for the presidential fitness test. He's ragging on me, as usual. I insult him back, he pushes me, I sock him in the cheek, he swings a haymaker that bounces off my big head, and then the coaches pull us apart. He definitely got physical first, and we were surrounded by witnesses; but we both went to the principal's office, and we both got paddled. That was just how it worked. I wasn't innocent, since I'd been mouthing off too, but by the same token I had no right to respond in kind when attacked. Me and the kid were both somewhat friendlier after that. I think I did six or seven chinups. Not bad, but my jab couldn't have been too devastating. Also I was way back on my heels when I clocked him. I remember being in a hurry, knowing the coaches were going to be on us in seconds, terrified I might not have time to get in at least one lick before we were pulled apart and he could spend the rest of the semester telling everyone about how he'd kicked my ass. 


Anyhow, now you've softened your stance to:

There was nothing in the rules as explained to me and my fellow students that would have kept us from being wrongfully blamed if there were no non-fight witnesses and our claim wasn't believed. However, there was no "duty to retreat," and yes, the implication was if we had to defend ourselves, we wouldn't be punished.

Now it was merely an implication, not an explicit, official school policy. Similarly in schools I went to there was no positive "duty to retreat" either... it was just a clear implication of the reality that unless you had ironclad evidence and credible witnesses (i.e. teachers), you were facing discipline if you were caught fighting. And even then, as in the case of me and the kid whose brother maybe accidentally maybe not killed himself, you couldn't count on "self defense" as being a factor. If he'd pulled a knife or something, it would have been a whole different ballgame.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I Haven't Backed Off From That

M Scott Eiland's picture

All I'm saying is the claim had to be believed--which is the same way the claim works for adults. It's not a magic talisman that once waved about is unchallengeable. Can you just admit that you were making silly comments--including now dragging in ridiculous speculation about the impact of the Manson killings on how kids were allowed to defend themselves at school--about what other people experienced and move on?

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Well since I just gave you an actual example of a case


where plausible self defense amounted to a hill of beans, no, I don't think any of my comments here have been silly.  


Anyhow, just for the record: was it an explicit policy that if you were attacked you could fight back with no repercussions, or was it implied that you could defend yourself with no outright promises of lenience? How exactly was self defense defined? Was it like the Orange County Code of Conduct I linked earlier, i.e. you can ward off blows and little more? Or, if someone attacked you, could you just mash their potatoes Ender-style until they were no longer willing or able to attack you? Did school officials tell you that if someone threw a punch you could punch back until the person was out of commission? 


How did they define self defense?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

*rolls eyes*

M Scott Eiland's picture

They were talking to elementary school (or junior high, or high school) students, not first year law students in a criminal law seminar. The formula was simple: "if you are physically attacked, you can fight back to defend yourself." Probably in smaller words for the younger kids, but that was it. M.A. remembers the practice at the time being just that, even if it wasn't announced. Are you going to argue next that no one can really remember using dial phones, because they're clumsy and inconvenient?

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

MA remembers that it wasn't an official policy.


You said it was an explicit guideline given to you by administrators at three different schools. MA says "it was understood". See the difference? 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

OK, You Made Me Work Now


I actually looked up the policy as it was then. It's amazing the crap I keep.


There was no official policy regarding fights, at all. None. Zip. And certainly no rule or suggestion that you should back away, run away, de-escalate, nothing.


The entire discipline section talks about inappropriate student behavior and the steps the school will take to address it. It specifically states that these steps are not to be punitive, but corrective, and carried out progressively, starting with a student "administrative conference" (meaning you get sent to the principal's office). Referral to "outside agencies public or private" is the seventh of seven (that is the very last) listed action the school can take. I never saw a cop at school and there were no uniformed guards of any kind, or cameras either. It was a different era.


The sole specific prohibition is the use or possession of narcotics, which could result in suspension.


Besides that, there is no definition of what inappropriate student behavior actually is, or list of examples, just a general mention that students should be good citizens and show respect to others and the community and so on. It is deliberately vague to a fault. It is exactly as I remembered and gives great flexibility to school staff and the principal above all, who was the only person who could authorize a suspension.


And while obviously there could be no official rule telling people to hit back (think of the liability implications), and obviously teachers would break up any fight regardless of how it started, there were certainly winks and nods.


Scott may have overstated the degree to which hitting back was explicitly condoned (not being from California, I wouldn't know), but he is right about the spirit, for sure.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Just To Clarify. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .and because it has been suggested by someone whose opinion I respect that I was being overly harsh to Jordan (who, occasional friction and invocation of Hiroshiman sniper grandmas aside, I generally get along pretty well with), I want to make clear that I was not saying that whenever punches started flying, someone would always be able to claim self defense and get off scot free--nor that the school authorities couldn't be wrong about whatever decision they made. I can't vouch for the environment others went to school in, but fights could and did break out during school hours (though lurking pre and post school bullying shades of The Andy Griffith Show and The Brady Bunch certainly happened--I had a knife pulled on me in one such incident, and on that occasion I decided that taking a limp wristed punch in the face from the knife holder and walking off without protest afterwards was the better part of valor) and on campus when I was in school, and a teacher generally (though not always) in the vicinity to break it up. In cases where no one was the clear instigator, both got punished. The point--as you suggested in your own comments--is that the teachers and adminstrators felt comfortable in making the call based on what they had heard, the stories from the students involved and other witnesses, and what they knew from before about those students. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I doubt Scott overstated the case,


at least in regard to his experiences. If he remembers being told he could hit back to defend himself, then he probably was told that or something like it. One thing we are all in agreement on is that there used to be a lot more discretion for teachers and principals to act in loco parentis than there is today, and I have no doubt some school officials in some schools declared self defense (including offensive self defense) fair game if you were attacked.  


My point all along is simply that this was never an explicit policy at most schools in the country, the way Scott says it used to be at his alma mater. He told me I was factually wrong, claiming that his particular experience proves that there was once a general, nationwide practice. 


But quite to the contrary, your example here reinforces my point: there was no explicit policy at your school which condoned self defense. There's a world of difference between wide-open discretion for principals & teachers to handle different situations and a publicly declared, pre-emptive promise to exonerate students who choose to use violence to defend themselves. A world of difference. Imagine, as you say, the liability implications.


More to the point, the policy as you stated it gives no indication of whether defensive fighting would be considered "appropriate student behavior" or not: that would be entirely up to the discretion of the authorities. All of this is essentially backing up what I said originally: 

The time-honored method has always been to punish both parties. Your dad will teach you to defend yourself; school officials never will, and never have. If you call someone a bad name and get caught: detention. If you get in a fight: suspension for both kids, etc.

Question for you: do you remember a lot of fighting at your schools growing up? How were fights normally dealt with in practice?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

In Other Words

M Scott Eiland's picture

You're questioning the fact whether someone actually said this to me, not whether it was the actual practice.

Yep, I was right earlier. Troll comment. I'm done here.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"Troll comment" is hardly an example of civil discussion.


I'm not questioning your experience; I'm questioning how general it was elsewhere in the country. You're saying MA's experience is identical to yours. It isn't. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

It's Descriptive

M Scott Eiland's picture

And meets the "comment, not the commenter" rule. That will be my take on it should I encounter a similar one in my term. It's up to you whether you view the matter likewise.

Have a nice Easter. :-)

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

My take will be: it presumes intent to disrupt & deceive. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes


M Scott Eiland's picture

Sorry about future annoyances, Jay C. Or you could state your position for the record at your convenience and permanently resolve it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

No warning or enforcement action intended.


However since we obviously disagree, it might be good to work out a consensus about such things. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Thus My Suggestion To Jay C.

M Scott Eiland's picture

If the position is arrived at now that we're aware there is a disagreement, it won't be controversial later. However, he almost certainly has better things to do on a holiday, even a Sunday one.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Yes, I'm here

Jay C's picture

And will express a firm commitment to neither confirm nor deny the report if/not I have anything better to do today....


I agree that no warning is necessary: just a respectful suggestion from a moderator that we drop this discussion and move on.

Though I will opine that in my rather liberal interpretation of the posting rules: 1) the accusation of "troll comment" to Jordan's no. 316951  is a bit harsh, - but 2) no "intent to disrupt" is apparent. 


BTW, in case anyone was wondering what happened to Manish's "Mad World" FP OT diary from last week (and why it's now back), it somehow (???) ended up in the spam queue: and he just now asked me to republish it.  Then again, maybe no one will have noticed....

I'll make one demurral.


You can call a comment a "stupid comment" without necessarily implying that the commenter is a stupid person. A comment can be stupid completely apart from whether its writer has defective mental faculties or not. Likewise silly, ridiculous, ludicrous, half-baked, asinine, obnoxious, childish, etc. All of these words hint or imply defects on the part of the commenter, but none of them make such defects necessary. I would argue that we should still discourage such remarks on the grounds that they violate Rule #3: 

3. Try to write entries that will encourage discussion. We don't discourage disagreement, just disagreement based on personal attacks and nasty comments.

On the other hand, you can't call a comment a "dishonest comment" without implying the commenter is being deceitful. The word implies a state of mind, an intent. "You are a perfectly honest and forthright person, however your comment is lying" doesn't make any logical sense. There are a small group of disparaging terms that necessarily imply intent on the part of their object: dishonest, sham, willfully ignorant, mendacious, baiting, etc. Basically, you can't call a comment a lie without accusing the commenter of lying. Which is, or at least IMO should be, against the rules. 


I'd argue that "trolling" belongs in the second category. You can't say that a comment is "trolling" without asserting that the commenter is posting facetiously or dishonestly in order to get a rise out of people. It seems to me that vinteuil for example, of all our frequent commenters, has often been accused of trolling in direct and indirect ways. That is, posting incendiary comments with the intent of stirring up rancor and/or baiting PRVs. (I may have been guilty of such insinuations myself.) In any case, I don't think that kind of thing should be allowed. 


So that's my position. If we aren't going to call people on remarks like "dishonest comment" under Rule #2, on the understanding that they are tantamount to calling the poster in question a liar, then I will at the very least do my part to discourage them as "nasty comments" under Rule #3. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Asserting A Bit Of Privilege Here In The Name Of Clarification..

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I will say that at least some of Vinteuil's diaries *could* reasonably be described as trollish (and he certainly isn't the only one who does that). I'd rather see comments pointing that out rather than the usual unveiled and semi-veiled accusations of racism that end up in them instead (and I want to reiterate that I'm going to be *very* quick on the trigger to warn and yellow card on those--I'm instituting my own semi-zero tolerance policy to any self-declared PRV free zones during my current term on the troika).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

OK: all in agreement

Jay C's picture

and we DO need to move on, 'cuz (on my tablet at least) this discussion is fast approaching the two-or-three-character-column level of display....



its against the rules here to call people on lies or when they are racist.




“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw



are easily hurt by such things, nilsey.

You've Presented No Evidence To That Effect

M Scott Eiland's picture

Other than your own recollections, which are from a later date--and the "apart from the three schools you went to" comment officially leads me to believe I am being trolled at this point.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Fights and punches


Are only a portion of what bullying is though. 

Okay, let's suppose the definition of Bullying has been expanded


to include everything you've outlined.  The old-fashioned solution to such bullying was to round up enough victims and beat the living feces out of the bully.  Care to opine on how we've changed the consequences of bullying?


While we're on the subject of Modern Bullying, given the form and substance of online bullying these days and the fallout from such bullying: suicides and other tragic outcomes, which from among your shopping list of new categories might be worth including?  If those same statements were uttered over a telephone, we've got statutes which apply in such cases.  Online bullying, well, we're marching headlong into the 1980s in terms of applicable law.


Edspeak being so well-larded with these new terms of art, I believe the fundamentals of bullying have not changed, though the vocabulary has.  Education has lost its way.  As I have noted elsewhere, my wife was assaulted three times in two years by students.  The front office and district responded with a flock of buzzy little buzzwords but nothing came of it until I got a very nasty lawyer to pay the front office a visit.  Thereafter, two students were suspended.  She resigned anyway.  Though some may feel Snitching and Squealing is a bad idea, somehow the prospect of a lawsuit brought out the best in everyone involved. 

That old fashioned solution


was inappropriate.  Someone laughing about your haircut (which falls under the new definition of bullying)  doesn't justify beating them to the point of bowel release. Ignoring the insult is sounder advice.


As for serious, adult level bullying:  Lawyers can help get a problem resolved,  and I'm glad it had some effect in your wife's case.   But let's not fool ourselves,  lawyers in cases such as yours don't cause the school to have some kind of moral epiphany,  they just cause them to do a practical calculation of whether they stand to lose more from your lawyers or the lawyers for those assaultive kids' parents.


A significant part of what we do is lawsuit avoidance.  Fighting a typical personnel-related lawsuit and winning costs  $10K to $30K,  losing easily costs $300K.   Successfully fighting one lawsuit costs one student their education.   Losing a lawsuit costs 10 students their education.  


People sometimes forget that while a plaintiff can win or lose,  a defendant in a civil case always loses.



In algebra, the answer starts with the unit of measure.


Whatever else is wrong with the answer, that part must always be right, and is given in the problem.  In the terms you have outlined,that unit is legal fees.  I never forget what wins arguments.  Money and the power it buys wins all arguments.  Practical calculations, not ethical constructs, guide this argument as they guide so many others in this wicked world.


I now see why you're so willing to defend this memo, however moot the argument many be.  If the student knuckles under to the bully, he is saving ten children's education.  Sounds very much like that little soliloquy from Saving Private Ryan. 


You see, when... when you end up killing one your men, you see, you tell yourself it happened so you could save the lives of two or three or ten others. Maybe a hundred others. Do you know how many men I've lost under my command?


Sergeant Horvath: How many?


Captain Miller: Ninety-four. But that means I've saved the lives of ten times that many, doesn't it? Maybe even 20, right? Twenty times as many? And that's how simple it is. That's how you... that's how you rationalize making the choice between the mission and the man.


Except the school isn't a battlefield, or shouldn't be.  But maybe it is.  Maybe one kid has to be bullied to save ten others.  Am I following your line of argument correctly? 

Not at all


Sorry if I misread you.   I was just responding to your line that your lawyer " brought out the best in everyone involved,"  which on rereading I realize wasn't intended to be taken literally.


On the cost-benefit analysis,  I'm just pointing out that doing the right thing isn't free,  and the sacrifice required to pursue and address every injustice isn't always borne by the parties directly involved.  I can see why,  if there is a way to get everybody in a dispute to resolve it informally,  the school has a strong incentive to do so.


Kids getting beaten up or intimidated - sure that has to be addressed.   Kids learning that every insult or wisecrack is a matter for the authorities,  not so much.



You bet that lawyer brought out the best in everyone.


You never heard such a rational, composed, farsighted bunch of people in all your life.  Why, they even spoke plain English upon her appearance.  Prior to that, I was having to translate from Educational Nincompoopish, a language with which my wife was familiar, her being a teacher and all, but I was not.  The right thing, according to this memo you want to defend, is to shut up and suck up to bullies.  And why?  Because that costs the school less money, the right thing isn't free.  Going to a bully-free school isn't a right.

Bully-free school


Like a crime-free state,  that is something that can only happen in theory,  and the attempt to get either down to zero generally involves sacrificing pretty near every else for not much in return.


JFTR,  here's my take:


1. Physical violence of any significance:  You try for zero,  and of course vigorously follow it up through the juvenile justice system.


2. Playground grade violence,  and taunting that's likely to give a kid emotional problems:  yes, you do something whenever it's detected, probably through the school's own disciplinary system,  and without regard to whether the bully's parents might object.  However: one has to accept that some of this will happen, undetected, if kids are allowed even a few seconds without immediate inches away supervision,  or if you have fewer than one teacher/aide/guard/officer for every two kids.  So, yes you're right,  some bullies will get away with it, and I don't favor parents of either side inflicting lawyers on the school system over this level of stuff. 


3. Anything less than that, if it's bothering the teacher or disrupting class,  she can do something,  otherwise tough luck.  Kids deserve an environment in which they can learn whatever the school is teaching,  but they also need to learn reasonable expectations about how other people are going to behave. 

Thankfully, two grand will translate theory into action.


You will not believe how fast I got satisfaction from those Edu-Weenies, for the low-low rental of a pit bull bitch with a J.D.  You try for zero, you get zero, my way.  The disciplinary system failed my wife completely.  Should have intervened after the first assault.  After resigning her teaching position, she returned to Guatemala and never came back, except for a few weeks at a time.  It played a substantial part in the failure of my marriage.  She had tried so hard to be a good teacher.  She was a bilingual special ed teacher, ended up with a bunch of BD kids who took advantage of her size and goodwill. 


Don't bother to make any more excuses for this memo.  I taught my kids to fight back against bullies.  First, bring the episode to me.  Ol' Dad will teach you how to hit someone hard enough, fast enough, in the right place, to send a bully to the hospital.  And don't worry about consequences.  After watching Mama get popped a few times, we all learned there aren't any consequences. 



Your parenting is your business,  let's change the topic.

Hopefully to something more Theoretical.


Demasiada cordura puede ser la peor de las locuras, ver la vida como es y no como debería de ser.


Too much wisdom may be the worst of insanities, to see life as it is and not as it ought to be.




Wasn't that one of the original front-runner names for this site?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

A shocking crime was committed


on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals,

with the blessing of more,

and amid the passive acquiescence of all.

-you'll never guess who wrote that....

That's why we're all here. Only some of us


still don't get the implications.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes



Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively impose domination over others.

Time For Heads To Roll


....should end the educational career of everyone who signed off on it or who expressed the slightest amount of support for it in a public forum, for they are not to be trusted with children, no matter what craven apologies they stammer out now.


someone sent out a flyer. it had some bad advice or info that doesn't jibe with what you believe. THEREFORE OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! and wait.... not just them... also anyone who expressed "the slightest amount of support for it."

heck, let's just be safe and can everyone who *looks like* those people.


maybe next time someone makes a mistake you can learn to keep the morgoth in check. it seems a little, you know, threatening, aggressive, and coercive. 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

That Wasn't A Mistake

M Scott Eiland's picture

Someone composed that vile little list and signed off on it. It was an intentional action, and should be treated as such.

Oh, and that last sentence was right on the edge of getting you a warning for "comment, not the commenter." Cool it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

little english lesson for ya


intentional actions can be regarded as mistakes. 


i'll give you and ideologically friendly example so that you'll not fail to understand this: "i decided to vote for barack obama. boy was that a mistake."

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Not This Kind

M Scott Eiland's picture

This list had to be constructed, apparently from scratch--unless someone comes forward to acknowledge parenthood of this particular bastard child, and I would take a lot of convincing to believe that anyone could read it and not conclude that the author either was the biggest idiot on the planet, or despised children, or both. There are degrees of intent, and the one associated with this is well onto the edge of the "worst" zone and probably worse than certain levels of purposeful child abuse. Not the same at all as an ill-considered vote for President.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

This Was a Christian School, Was it Not? Forgivness, Turn the...


...other cheek are deeply Christian Principles and this maybe misguided memo has these virtues at its base.


I would hate to cut off Christian Educators heads for simply being Christian.


I believe that everyone is missing this aspect of the arument, and it would be nice to see this addressed fairly.



If It Had Been. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I would have no problem with said Christian heads metaphorically hitting the floor, though obviously as a private employer with a (probable) connection with an existing religious entity might well be able to hold up under withering (and justified) public abuse on the subject without caving. You should know me well enough to realize that by now, my friend. :-P

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Sigh...I Have Read the Memo Again...Cringe, Sigh, Weep...


...many years ago I was in charge of Night School at a large public school...I knew the school board, of course, and working in the large Admin Building I saw how very difficult it was, even in I was reflexively defending.


...the United States is a large will creates lots of interesting....situations.


I was wrong, but understand, sorta, a little, what they were attempting, badly, to accomplish.


I apologize.


As has the school.


Stuff happens.


Best Wishes, Traveller




M Scott Eiland's picture

Maybe I need a bit of clarification here--which part of this strikes you as defensible? How would they have "done this right" while still leaving some of it intact (because if the point is that an anti-bullying policy is a good thing, but this memo contributed zero good ideas towards implementing such a policy, it's sort of like defending a doctor against his choice to advise the use of a blowtorch as a wart removal tool by pointing out, "Well, removing warts is good, isn't it?")? What am I missing here from your POV as far as some positive good that would remain if all the crap was removed from this memo?

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



it was a good old fashioned Public School, not any kind of private religious school.



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Yes, I Have Been Checking and You, Nilsey are Correct...


....I apologize for the post above.


Best Wishes in the Fullness of my Errors, Traveller...(grin)

:-) -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Suggesting logical irony is fine. "Learn to keep the morgoth in


check" is far too close to a personal attack. Stick to comment, not commenter, please. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

A bully is also a coward, often bullied and beaten himself.


Bullying isn't just what children do.  I've seen bullying in every aspect of life.  Spouses bully each other, workplace bullying, road rage, it's everywhere.


Bullies isolate their victims, exactly as predators operate, separating the target from the herd.  Bullies know how to work the system:  if you report a bully, say, to HR or to a school counselor, unless immediate action is taken, the bully will usually get away with it.   They know exactly what the authority figures want to hear.  Oh, they're so apologetic, the victim is just unable to cope with the little stresses of life, social misfit, that sort of line.  The authority figure doesn't know who to believe and is as likely to punish the victim as the perp. 


I was bullied.  Boarding schools are havens of bullying.  There's really only one cure for a bully:  his victims must band together and beat the living sh*t out of him, in a quiet corner of the landscape, where they can thoroughly intimidate him.  You see, where bullying appears, the authorities have already abdicated their mandate.  Nothing will be done precisely because nothing has been done.  The bully, for all his sneering and mocking, does not have actual friends.  He has toadies and hangers-on.   It's rather like nation states.  Nations aren't friends with each other, they're only allied and that only while they have common cause.


The military, with its authority structures visible on everyone's collars, is another place where institutional bullying thrives.  But as with boarding schools, there is only one cure for it.  Cut the bully out of the herd and give him a dose of his own medicine.  He won't dare report the attack, any more than his victims found any justice when they reported their attacks.  In one case I know of, a particularly awful officer had a bag pulled over his head, was thrust into a wall locker and tossed down a stairwell, which did result in life threatening injuries.  Nobody owned up to doing it and the officer was transferred back to CONUS.  Everyone knew the score, nobody did anything.


The supposedly-better advice given by the school is really no better.  Reporting bullying to school authorities is a useless process, outlined above.  The authorities are already aware of the bullying and haven't done anything to stop it.  Report bullying to law enforcement, not to school authorities.

The Flying Monkeys


have been dispatched! A couple of $30,000/yr teachers need their professional careers, nay, LIVES ruined, their homes burned and their earth salted because of this vile Memo Apocalypse. 


They continue to lose the culture war, they lost the ACA battle, they've got "Ted" Cruz and senator Aqua Buddha as their great white male hopes for 2016. No wonder they want to kick a few teachers. This'll be all over wingnut media I'm sure.


Irony isn't dead. It's a high paid, off-camera consultant for Fox news and the rest of the screamers.



So. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .is the above comment meant to convey that the contents of the memo represents an acceptable "liberal" policy position on bullying? Just wondering.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



Not even close.


This is a jump to conclusions, screaming media harpy situation based on a few paragraphs from and a Facebook post.


Diagnosing Terry Schiavo from video tape. Guns: Jumped. But they gotta scream about SOMETHING on cable tee vee and daily websites.


Read my back and forth below. I don't condone any of this. I'm also against creating a public firestorm fulla pitchforks and torches against some handful of teachers in a school out in the middle of nowhere based on nearly nothing. The school sent home a memo. Parents were angered and contacted the school, which issued an apology. I guess we can go back and forth about the wording of said apology, but aside from what I just laid out, we know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE AS OF NOW.


Calling for scalps right now in some little school you've never even heard of seem a bit stupid.



Bad Things Happen In Little Places

M Scott Eiland's picture

And there is value to be had in making sure any like-minded idiots know that the wrath of non-child abusers is coming down on their heads if they get caught at it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Comment, not commenter please.


Since Scott's link was to a straight news article, your remarks about "flying monkeys" and "they want to kick a few teachers" appears to refer to him, not to public right wing commentators. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

"Time for heads to roll"


I'd venture that a kick is milder than a beheading, or even a permanent loss of livelihood, but of course, both sides are always equal.

On The Forvm, both sides are equal


only to the extent that neither side is allowed to impugn other commenters on the site.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Last comment from me on this, but


Titling your comment "Time for heads to roll" then going on to ask for these peoples' termination and permanent loss of livelihood over a memo, is kinda, you know, like wanting these teachers punished, or at least kicked. I mean, that's exactly what was written.



And your comment suggests that Eiland's motives are


based in sour grapes and butthurt because "they continue losing the culture war." Now you've openly admitted you were in fact referring to Eiland specifically rather than conservative culture warriors generically. You could have made the exact same argument without impugning a commenter's motives. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Let me tell you a little story, Pranky.


It happens to be true.  I had a third grade teacher, one of the cruellest human beings I've ever known.  A vicious little prig, much-given to beating children on the hands with rulers, whose class pet was the worst bully in the entire school.  Years later, I found out he was also a torturer and a rapist, now in an institution for the criminally insane in Canada.  But at this point in time, he was just a mean boy.


Though she was strict, I had thought the teacher to be at least upright enough to deal with the bully.  I was wrong.  I was given advice horribly similar to the nine points first promulgated by Zeman Elementary School.  I was also given the ruler, too.


Hell gapes wide for those who allow children to be bullied.   Lives were ruined at my school, precisely because the teachers were all on the side of the bullies and the prigs.  I was raped there.  I was not believed.  In fact, I was punished for lying.  Do not tell me about the Screamers and Culture Wars.  Teachers can be bullies, too.

Oh I agree.


But regardless of your past, I can certainly post about things I would like to post about. Zero of any of my comment was directed towards you.




I also had a miserable bully of a 3rd grade teacher. Luckily, I was sort of in the background of her class, neither a favorite or the object of her hatred. She would sometimes scream, scream in the face of a kid, in front of the entire stunned class. Tears, terror. We hated her and I think she hated us for the most part.


I never claimed teachers can't be bullies. Sorry about your bad past experience.

When it's a conservative getting the Howling Fantods


about some obviously demented school policy, I wish at turns the rest of us would admit the obvious, that the public school system has failed enough children to warrant a thoroughgoing revisit of the entire premise of how we educate children in the context of American society.  When the school policy, written out and sent home to the parents, saying kids should knuckle under to bullies and not tell on them, what sort of reaction is appropriate?  Heads should roll.  I'll bet my shoes that school has become a snakes' nest of bullying.  I'd cashier the principal on the spot, all the counselors, too.  I'd stage a massive intervention at that school, clean that joint out with a fire hose.  Probably go up to district level, too, that sort of policy tends to come from above. 


Haven't we got enough problems with unreported rape in the military, compounded by a general failure to prosecute and convict those which are reported, unreported torture and routine abuse of power in government, cover-ups of every sort?   When it's liberals screaming about that stuff, I would hope our political opponents might think about the victims to not shoot the messenger.  Getting on Scott's case about Flying Monkeys, moaning about these priggish teachers' Professional Careers - jeebus! - what about these childrens' lives?  

So this memo alone


is proof that children are suffering? A memo alone is cause for heads to roll? You have any more info than the like provides?

Did You Read It?

M Scott Eiland's picture

The memo suggested that victims of bullies not report it to authority, not fight back, and actively thank the bullies for their abuse. If I was on a jury where a kid who followed these instructions snapped and inflicted extreme violence on his tormenters in the absence of support from those whose job it is to protect them, I wouldn't be voting to convict--and I suspect a lot of real life liberals wouldn't, either.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

In short, yes. How else can it be construed, Pranky?


Do you think this memo, sent home with the children, was the result of the principal's temporary insanity, perhaps the accidental ingestion of jimsonweed? This is school policy.  The teachers and school counselors had to have seen it.  Nobody said anything until this thing blew up on Jezebel.  Anyone associated with the creation of the policy, the writing of the memo and the dissemination of this crap should be cashiered immediately.

Not necessarily.


Could have been a well meaning but admittedly dumb attempt at fixing a difficult situation. Regardless of your past experiences, you cannot know what happened. Should it be looked into by local parents and teachers? Sure! Okay great. Then maybe heads can roll.


Or not. And then the rest of the United States can go back to looking for the lost airplane.

Anyone Who Believed That This Would Help Bullied Children. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .should lose their jobs, and not be allowed to educate children any more for the sake of those children. However, I'll concede that they're merely criminally stupid, not blatantly malicious.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

This much I know about schools. Policy is a bigbig deal.


These administrators were caught out when their policy statement, let's get this straight, Pranky, this was school policy, sent home to the parents, got out on the wires.  The only Admission of Dumbitude came after, not before, the wires got a grip on it.  I have every reason to believe the school sent out that flyer because there were Big Questions Arising about how to deal with bullies at that school and this flyer was the response.  I have already made it perfectly clear, from my own life experiences, that bullying arises where it is first tolerated. 


For the life of me, I do not understand how you can possibly infer this was some aberration from common sense.   I also resent the implication that my own experiences with bullies and those who tolerated them has anything to do with an adequate response to this situation.  Scott and I both believe heads should roll over this issue.  Why do you believe anyone should limit the scope of this inquiry to some Looking Into the Situation by parents and teachers?  The teachers, in particular, the principal teacher, told the parents how to respond to bullies.  I therefore have no confidence in the teachers, none at all, and neither should you.  

From Jezebel:


Don't worry though, after being inundated with outraged parents, the school district responded and apologized, with a portion of a letter written by the school's principal:


So they apologized and changed policy, and did what they did BEFORE Jezebel ran it up the click-bait flagpole.


I agree it was stupid. It was a small local school issue, and the school responded before any of us Armchair Inquisitors could have a turn at the thumbscrews.


Also, I didn't imply anything about you, so your resentment is misplaced. You were the one to bring up a terrible story from your past and I am genuinely sorry that such despicable things happened to you.

Oh BS. "This flyer was sent home with good intentions"


Yeah, right.  Do you believe this flyer represents Good Intentions?   Let me tell you how an actual apology works, Pranky.  It comes in three parts:


1.  I was wrong.

2.  I have hurt you.

3.  I want to make this right.  What can I do?


None of these were present in this non-apology from the school principal.  What does the BlaiseP Rule of Good Intentions state?  "The worst of evils are done with the best of intentions".  This was wrong.  It hurt people and clearly, nobody wants to make it right.  Instead, this school says


1.  Our educators work hard (though clearly not hard enough to read what they put in the take home folders)

2.  We didn't write it (though we won't say who did)

3.  This isn't what we actually believe (though we want you to trust us on this)

4.  We apologise for confusion (on whose part) or problems this might have caused (certainly not me, the principal, or my staff, or indeed anyone at all)


This was more than stupid, Pranky. This was dangerous and wrong.  At this point, it's not begging the question to ask you why you want to call anyone an Armchair Inquistor?    Am I an armchair inquisitor?  Is Scott?   You've already inferred my judgment is clouded by my own experience with bullies and rapists.  I told my own kids to never trust just any adult, especially not a school administrator, with a problem which might reflect badly on that person.  School administrators and battalion commanders like to keep the farts in the sack and not let anyone smell them.   Sh*t doesn't just roll downhill.   The stench wafts uphill, too, and the job of the administrator is to have a ready supply of fart sacks on hand to keep problems as low-level as is possible, to the point of lying, obstructing justice, destruction and suppression of evidence.  Don't say I'm waxing rhetorical here, that's exactly how the real world works.   And that, it seems to me, is the approach you feel is warranted here, pay no attention, folks, yeah, how 'bout that MH370 disaster, ain't no problem here, nossir.

Uh, OK.


You seem to want to take this personally for no good reason. I never implied your judgment was clouded.


This is a tiny local story blown up into click-bait and cable tee-vee fodder. The Inquisitors are the folks at home cheering on their side from their recliners, many of the same folks who diagnosed Terry Schiavo from their Trinitrons. Pope Hannity, Malkin and the rest are probably over the moon that they can scold on about this in between commercials. But I think it's a small local issue and it sounds like parents were involved enough to work with the school on this long before any of us ever hard of it. And I repeat again, I think it was stupid and wrong.


If I cared enough, I might take some umbrage from your repeated condecending rhetoric directed at me personally. But I don't! 





"Regardless of your past experiences,


you cannot know what happened."  That's an aspersion and an inference, attempting to disconnect my experience from what can be known about this flyer, which is plenty at this point.  


Every little kid out there who's bullied, every female in the military who's been raped, every incident of workplace bullying - these are all Tiny Local Stories, too.  This is not click bait.  "One weird trick to keep your kid from being bullied in {mygeolocation.js}" -   That's click bait. 


We do know what went home with those kids.  We do know about the non-apology, which I've furnished as a link.  Don't you come in ridin' to the rescue of the teachers, here, General Custer.

Nice Parallel Reference

M Scott Eiland's picture

I wonder how the online left would react if adult female members of the military--presumably far more able to act on their own behalf than school children--were given a laundry list of idiocy like the linked one as a means of dealing with (presumably mostly or all male) bullies, and whether said online left would accept a "oops--our bad, we've retracted that memo" response from the military when called on it. Any comment that suggests they would is 99.44% percent pure Bandini.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



We need some motion graphics and SFX. A memo to parents is now equal to military rape, based on a Facebook posting and an article from


Think of the children.



I believe the comparison he made is between (a) a memo to parents about bullying,  and (b) a memo to soldiers about rape.


In both cases,  we are talking about a piece of paper with stupid things written on it.



wake me up when the right wing calls for "heads to roll" for actual instances and/or coverups of military rape (... oh, and the bush torture regime for that matter). a memo would be nice.


nah.... lets just focus on this dumb memo instead. teacher and principals seem to be the easy targets of choice for conservative outrage these days.


standard disclaimer: yeah the memo was dumb. what attracted my attention was the aggressive and coercive tone of the response to it. "off with their heads - and anyone remotely sympathetic as well!" ... yeah that's a great anti bullying tone, hahahaha....  

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Unless The Justice System Is Bullying. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .this argument is a non-sequitur. The memo was an act of child abuse under color of authority and should be dealt with appropriately by removing from the duty of child care anyone who has thus proven themselves incapable of it.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



The memo was an act of child abuse under color of authority

uh.... ok. we agree it was a terrible memo. i don't know that issuing a memo qualifies as an act of child abuse, however. i mean, i guess maybe some of the children reading were made to feel culpable for their bullying? i could actually see that as harmful... but abusive? i'll have to think about that. i'm not convinced yet but i'm open to argument on that.


so you really actually think that anyone responsible for that memo should be removed from child care?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw


M Scott Eiland's picture

I don't have kids, and I don't know if you do, so I am in *no* way personalizing this. I'm trying a hypothetical exercise, and I'll start from my admittedly not actually having children viewpoint. I'm picturing having a kid around the age of the one whose parents received that memo, and realizing that at least some of the people running that school believed--no matter how quickly they disavowed the views when they aroused thundering outrage from apparently a a metric f***ton of parents--that this--telling children not to fight back, not to tell figures in authority, to actually *thank* the bullies for the bullying behavior--was the way their children should react to bullying. As a hypothetical parent, I think my reasonable reaction would be to believe that the school cared precisely *zero* about the well being of my children (unless my children were bullies, in which case the abuse would be indirect, in that it would help turn them into a bunch of sociopathic monsters), and wanting all responsible immediately removed from any position of authority over my children seems to me a compromise position, as opposed to violating Rule 5 repeatedly on their persons with a blunt object. Presumably, they're union members--they can expect to be getting a paid vacation while any due process is observed, so I don't find the "immediate" part of it unfair. The memo exists, and no one seems to be defending any of it (out of justified terror or otherwise), and I don't see any injustice into making sure no more harm is done while those who actually created the abortion and knowingly endorsed it before the uproar are separated from those who were merely crappy in their supervisorial duties.

By the way, that was a well-constructed comment on your part and a useful contribution to this conversation. Thank you. :-)

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The right-wing truth-squad


better known as was first on the case!



The Link I Posted Was A Local News Station

M Scott Eiland's picture

Not Happy to help.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

From your hard-hitting news source




LINCOLN, Neb. —Parents from a Lincoln elementary school were astounded when their children came home with a flyer about how to handle bullies.

According to, Zeman Elementary School fifth-graders were sent home with a flyer to help teach them how to act if they're being bullied.


The truth is out there. It was buried a couple sentences into the story. BREAKING: Must credit

And A Local Station. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .confirmed the story, and the school itself issued a half-@$$ed apology on its website. Dismissing it as just right-wing propaganda won't fly--the flyer said what it said: there are no denials regarding that.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

According to


Yes. The tireless reporters out in Nebraska read an article on, maybe while eating a Twinkie, and decided: "This story cannot be kept silent any longer"


They did no additional reporting, even though they are local (presumably). And the school responded even before the Burkean was on the scene. story


just for reference:



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw


M Scott Eiland's picture

These don't look like reporters doing an on the spot report.

First Rule Of Holes, people.

Oh, and one "Israel Kalman" is cordially invited to die of a slow, wasting disease with none to give him comfort. It would be a kinder fate than the one he would consign bullied children to, given his druthers.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

read the dates


Jezebel posted the story 4/16. Your hard-hitting news team posted that on 4/18.




M Scott Eiland's picture

They added to the original story, including the information about Patient Zero Israel Kalman.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

According to


your tireless muckrakers:


Some parents shared their outrage on Facebook, others say they're happy with what LPS and Zeman Elementary are doing to fix the problem.

"Everybody screws up, or every once in a while someone makes a mistake," said Zeman parent, Ben Dinger. "But how they are reacting is, in my opinion, admirable."


Some complained, the school responded, and folks moved on. This is like Rosa Parks plus Gadnhi, times Breitbart.

They just


ignore memos at their own convenience.

Fair enough.   The US


Fair enough.


The US military has a Gazillion-dollar budget, a 200+ year-old old-boys machismo club, 24/7 jingoistic propaganda and about ten thousand full time lawyers keeping things hush-hush. This school? Probably not.


There's quite a difference.

False Dichotomy

M Scott Eiland's picture

And apparently the online left would like to keep this hush hush, too--since apparently stuff that happens in a small town doesn't matter, lest it send a (justified) chill down the spine of some "enlightened" idiot who was contemplating something similar and resents the feeling.

No one here, of course.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

nah, lets talk about it


see, one can actually have a discussion about when certain attitudes or approaches to bullying are bad or inappropriate.


talk about it all you want. no one cares to suppress the story (even though apparently its a non story since the apologies were issued and the local parents are al;ready all over this, but whatever.)


in fact no one is defending the memo. are they?


its the "off with their heads" approach that is aggressive and stifling to any actual fruitful discussion. your initial comment isn't an invitation to consider and discuss how stupid that memo is, or even say any single thing that is wrong with it. it's simply a demonization of the authors. oh, and anyone who "expressed teh slightest amount of support for it."


how about this amount of support: i think its a good idea that a school should address the topic of bullying and try and educate parents about it. in this instance they did a terrible job at formulating a policy. now parents are up in arms and, if they can restrain themselves from pitchforking any nearby teachers or principals, they may have a chance to think and discuss what a good policy might actually be.



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

The online left


wants to keep a lid on this?


You sweet kid, you!

Gentlemen, please........

Jay C's picture

1. Pranky: please try to edit out the personal snark a little bit: you know it gets Scott upset...


2. Scott: an obvious case of "assuming facts not in evidence" here: while I may admit the possibility of "The Online Left" getting their collective knickers-in-a-twist over this obscure flyer from Nebraska (it is, after all, a HUGE Internet), I've seen no mention of this inane affair anywhere other than here. An affair of which fwiw, I fully share your opinion, minus the head-rolling bit. What the ideological angle here is escapes me; but there we are...


ETA: 3. What nilsey said @ No. 316828



But of course. But of course.

OK, That's A Warning

M Scott Eiland's picture

Next time it's a yellow.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).



dot com is trying to clamp this story down? Are you claiming that the site that broke this chilling news of jack-booted thuggery is right wing?


What about all the conservative sites who HAVEN'T reported this yet? Are they in on this conspiracy? It would be irresponsible NOT to speculate.

As a paid-up member of the Online Left


who's sick and tired -- how shall I put this nicely? -- I shall phrase it this way, have you ever heard of Compassion Fatigue?  Do-Gooders get it when they wade into a problem, won't address it in bite-sized chunks, get burned out trying to solve all the world's problems at once?  After a while, they start to hate the people they were once trying to help.  Refugees are always angry.  They never seem particularly grateful for the help they're getting.  They vent on the only people who will listen, the aid workers.


I don't hear the Conservatives much-exercised on the subject of rape in the military.  The laundry list of idiocy includes Jeff Sessions and Saxby Chambliss godawful remarks about military rape.  The Conservatives have been on the wrong side of the military rape issue for a very long time.  It's institutional inertia:  the Catch-22 of reporting a crime in your unit adversely affects your readiness ratings.  So this stuff just gets covered up. 


Maybe the Conservatives have Compassion Fatigue.  The public schools are bad and getting worse.  So, it seems, is the military.  This shouldn't be a partisan issue but we know which way the wind blows when it comes to Teachers (Liberal) and Military (Conservative)

There's Plenty To Get Angry About There

M Scott Eiland's picture

Though I was talking more about garden variety bullying than actual rape of female soldier--which I tend to think represents a particularly despicable betrayal by those members of the military who perpetrate it. I'd suggest that even if my hypothetical memo specifically excluded rape and only referenced simple bullying, the usual suspects (Amanda Marcotte, et al) wouldn't let this go with a lame apology and promise to do better in the future, nor should they. Just for the record, I view this as a "all bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs" situation. A lot of liberals--as evidenced here and elsewhere--find this to be horrific and are making no excuses for the school (at most, perhaps wondering if it is a bad egg or two that can be dealt with, which is how I interpreted Jordan's remarks). However, I'd venture a guess that 99%+ of all who are offering any defense at all for the school here are liberals. YMMV as to the significance of that.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The excuses made for both are remarkably similar.


Rape is a more extreme form of bullying.  Turns out rape isn't really about sexual gratification.  It's about power, control, humiliation and revenge.  Saxby Chambliss' abhorrent remarks are not one whit different from this LPS memo about bullying - please don't attempt to dissect them away from each other.  That's a sitting US senator, not some pencil-neck little school administrator.  And he is not alone.  The Right Wing has closed ranks around the military culture of rape.  Those evil rationales and bumptious excuses for the inexcusable should produce howls of rage from the Right Wing but they don't.  We might ask why, but that's a pointless question, they just do.  It is in the nature of the Right Wing to defend Our Boys in Uniform and if the Girls in Uniform are violated, well, you know, hormones.  Etcetera.


The fallout from this idiotic little memo reflects a far deeper problem.  I've always said the hallmark of evil is that it always comes making excuses for itself.  The good in the world is a bit tongue-tied and its rationales are easily attacked.  Where it stands up to evil, we are asked to compare the mileage of the arguments.  Rape in the military is a particularly despicable betrayal - why then isn't anyone calling for Saxby Chambliss' head to roll?  Since I am asked to consider percentages of those hereabouts who are defending these teachers - and not even Pranky is doing that - he's saying this sort of OUTRAGE is a Right Wing shibboleth - which percentage of the Right Wing hereabouts will now rise to demand the heads of Saxby Chambliss and Jeff Sessions and the rest of what I can only deem Particularly Despicable Betrayers and Excuse-Makers ?

The memo definitely has a "lay back and enjoy it


like the Texas weather" kind of vibe. That said, I don't think anyone's defending it or those responsible for it on the merits. Firings might be in order, but for the school to simply get its act together in a sufficiently apologetic manner might do the trick.  


That said, if I had kids enrolled in that school, now is the time I'd seriously start thinking about other arrangements. Ditto goes, by the way, for some of the "zero tolerance" nightmares we hear about from time to time.  


At the end of the day, I sympathize with school administrators to a degree. There is probably no job more laden with idiotic political pressures, and panicky overprotective parents are a constituency I wouldn't wish on anyone. At the same time, educators tend to be poorly prepared for the high stakes political melodrama the job can entail. But my sympathy isn't going to extend so far as to allow these nitwits to ruin so much as a week of my kids' lives. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes



experience is tragic, yet you are coming to concrete conclusions based on a few Outraged--OUTRAGED-- paragraphs from


And please, Col. T. E. Lawrence of the Forvm, your lectures and argument from authority can sometimes— sometimes— get quite tedious. 

When it becomes about me and not the argument I make


I figure my opponent has run out of argument.  Pranky, my lad, this issue in Lincoln Public Schools isn't germane to partisan politics.  If the conservatives have gotten hot and bothered about this, more than a few liberals are equally annoyed by this sort of thing.  And let's look a few of these conservative trebuchets in action, as they heave slop buckets full of scorn over the walls of the Liberal Bastions.


First and most obvious payload is this business wherein the evil teachers are telling our kids to knuckle under to power and curry favour with oppressors.  In this specific case, that's exactly what's being preached.  Pointless denying it.  It is also true that the Christian Taliban preach the same nonsense to their own, all sorts of unscientific crap about Jesus' Pet Dinosaur and putting the Ten Commandments on the front lawn of every courthouse in the land.  


Quit defending these teachers.  Someone ought to be accountable for this and thus far, all I see is so much finger pointing, non-apologies and devious Edspeak from the usual customers.  Jezebel is hardly a bastion of conservatism.   It's about as liberal as you can get.  Moreover, I did go to the trouble of linking directly to the LPS Facebook post on this subject.   I propose to sack the principal and anyone in the food chain which put this wretched flyer in those kids' take home folders, not so much for this episode, which might have been redeemed by a forthright apology of the sort I outlined, but because nobody is taking any responsibility.


And that's another thing the Conservatives just hate about Liberals and the public school system.  Nobody seems responsible to anyone.  Now I'm all for public schools, I made sure my own kids attended them.  I did take my last kid out of public school because that school didn't have a math program which challenged him sufficiently.  I home schooled him for the last two years.  He did extraordinarily well.  If I had it to do over again, I would have home schooled all my children.  My wife was a public school teacher.  After she'd been assaulted for the third time in two years, she resigned, a tenured teacher with 12 years in.  Planned to make it her life's work.


I'm not particularly outraged.  I think there should be consequences.  Which is another point the Conservatives are constantly making about Liberals, a rather sharp and painful point, for Liberals are not big on consequences.   Liberals will tolerate anything but Intolerance, so we're told by our enemies.  It's not true, of course, but riding in to defend these teachers, aw-shucks-ing and dancin' the lindy around this prodigiously stupid act, as if it didn't play into every Conservative shibboleth about Liberals, hell, it's embarrassing to me, as a Liberal, to see all this screeching about OUTRAGE, as if there were no grounds for outrage in this case. 

Same arguments


were made about Shiavo.


I was public school all the way through. Chicago Public Schools. But my experiences don't play into this case either.


There's been a lot of talk about bullying lately, which I think is a good thing. I don't condone coverups, bullying or rape, or protecting guilty parties from any kind of scrutiny. Turning one stupid incident into a media feeding frenzy and public spectacle is not good, especially with the flimsy facts at hand. Maybe someone could do some actual reporting on this, interview parents, teachers, students? 



Guys. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes


M Scott Eiland's picture

Dial it down on both sides, please.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Lot's of *non-obvious* patents out there

brutusettu's picture

The Great Race

M Scott Eiland's picture

Jackie Robinson vs. . . .Vin Scully. On ice skates. Yes, really:

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Surprised it took this long


Traditionally Nevada has always tried to turn other states' socially conservative laws into business opportunities for Nevadans.

67 Years Ago Today

M Scott Eiland's picture

Thanks, Jackie:

And a reminder that there was a fearsome player behind the icon, even when he was getting old:

(Yogi is still complaining about that call almost sixty years later)

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Buring down the Reichstag? Canned Goods?

brutusettu's picture

Phase 1: Well trained people that are totally not Russian troops nor Russian backed troops take over government buildings in Ukraine

Phase 2: ????
Phase 3: People of eastern Ukraine "may" need Russian help?

Putin Is About As Subtle. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .as a Andrew Golota uppercut to the 'nads.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

He's been exactly as subtle as he needs to be.


It's been a master stroke really. Tempered somewhat by the fact that he's holding all the cards. The only risk I can see is that the West might react now with some real sanctions. They might be forced to if the Ukrainians put up a fight and do some dying. But how will China react to that? They might be happy to support the Russians to further their own expansion of influence.

Never accuse a troublemaker of Master Strokes.


If Putin was so smart, if he were holding all the cards - why has he resorted to violence?  That's a sign Putin's out of options.  Putin might be clever, but that's an attribute of short-term thinking.  Wise he is not.  The Chinese are sick of the Russians at this point.  Back in the day, when China was backing Ceausescu in Romania, they looked like a bunch of idiots.  China has enough troubles in its own back yard to side with Putin at this point - or take any position in Europe, other than the recumbent position on beach chairs along the Mediterranean.  



It works? It worked in Chechnya and it worked in Georgia. But anyhow, he's managed to keep it pretty tamped down so far. He took all of Crimea with only a single shootout. That's probably a first.

It didn't really work in Chechnya or anywhere else.


Maybe it's just my own prejudices and preferences showing here.  There's a diminishing law of returns on violence.  Violence always works in the short term but that which is taken by force must be continuously held by force.  Russia doesn't really control Chechnya, not when Black Widows keep detonating suicide bombs here and there.  Georgia, Transnistria, Dagestan, now Ukraine - Russia might have support, here and there, among the population, but not enough to make a valid case for control.  The USA has support in Iraq, among the Kurds.  They think Bush43 is a hero.  But nobody else in Iraq thinks that way.  The USA, for all the money and blood poured out on Iraq, never really could get ordinary people to emotionally commit to a US occupation.  Now the big deal is - getting our interpreters out of Iraq, they're viewed as collaborators with the Americans.   Even in the southern states of the USA, all these years later, there's still resentment towards the North for the occupation of the Confederacy.  Well over a century now and people still have hard feelings about it.


Crimea was taken with a few shots.  Ukraine was in no position to shoot back at the time and Russia had a huge naval base there.  Crimea was always trouble for the Ukraine:  the same truths about occupation for invaders also holds true for the defenders.  Crimea had always been semi-autonomous.  Khruschev had given it to the Ukrainian SSR in an act of crude magnanimity.   Though Putin might have seized Crimean Ukraine without much shooting, it's a bad bargain for Russia.  In the same way the Americans were greeted with cheers after getting rid of Saddam, only to watch that support melt away once Saddam was gone, the people of Crimea will not like their new overlords any better than they liked the old ones.  Russia will be obliged to constantly financially prop up Crimea:  it's a picturesque landscape but most such tourist destinations feature a terribly thin economy.  Crimea will eventually cost Russia serious sums of money. Their nostalgia-bathed adventure in sunny Crimea - hell, try invading Greece, same problem domain.  The world's most beautiful places are also its poorest.  Trust me on that.  I've seen enough tourist traps for six lifetimes.


Putin is thinking with his c*ck, not his brains.  As my old first sergeant used to say to us, "Don't let that pecker of yours lead you into trouble.  It's the first part of you through the door to temptation.  And when I have to drive down to the MP station to pick you up out of the brig, rest assured, come Monday morning, I will have you out here, front and center, so I can have the entire formation march all over that pecker.  He's not to be trusted.  But you can trust me."   Putin has spent just enough time as Tsar to start believing his own press releases.  He's leading Russia into a bad place because nobody seems willing to tell him No.  But when the oligarchs he's been propping up for all these years turn on him, as they certainly will, once their fortunes are locked into the Western banks, they will slap a flat spot into his little bald head and they will march in formation, double-time, on his great big pecker.



Putin may be a thug but he's a clever thug.


He's managed to seize Crimea without a serious fight and now dares the West to do anything about further actions.  This isn't an uppercut to the nads.  This is a finger poked up NATO's fundament. 

The massed troops and jets are just a distraction, imho.


The real action is going on within Ukraine.  GRU and its agents provocateurs demonstrate Ukraine's lack of mandate within its own borders.  While those troops remain in Russia, Putin only seems to be threatening.  He has no intention of using them.  While the GRU operates sub rosa within the Ukraine, NATO watches the satphotos, distracted by a threat it thinks it understands.  And, while their vehicles remain in the parking yards, it seems as if Russia isn't actually intervening.   The magician demonstrates the empty box to the credulous audience.


Forget NATO.  They're worthless.  Rasmussen can blather all he wants:  Germany will do nothing, afraid of its own shadow.  What a collection of amoral little grifters the Germans have become.  They don't dare disturb the status quo with Russia.  But the USA, well, we have a long tradition of dealing with Moscow's intervention in Africa and Central America.  USA use mercs all day long.  Russia's already accused us of it.  We can keep Russia in the lobster trap of Eastern Ukraine for as long as we want to:  a bomb here, a shooting there, Chechnya / Dagestan / Georgia redux.  Georgia's still a thing, you know.  So is Chechnya.  Only now it will be Ukrainian and Tatar partisans wreaking havoc.  Never play mean in someone else's back yard. 



The troops are built up to tie the Ukrainian's hands.


I think everyone nows what's happening, or rather already happened - it looks like there are enough Russian troops in the east to make this a fait accompli.


The Ukrainians can't re-establish order because they are facing Russian special forces. There would be shooting and dying. Police action would be inneffective  and military action would be enough of a bloodbath for the Russians to sweep in in much greater numbers.


I'm not sure about the partisans. We'll see I guess, but it depends on a few things - is there enough of a sea to swim in and do the Ukrainians have the stomach for it. Or to put it in your terms are the Russians playing nasty in Ukrain's back yard or is the US trying to play nasty in Russia's back yard. I suspect it might be the latter.


If I was Ukraine's PM I'd makea full-out military drive for Moscow. I mean, at least you'd make the history books.



Ukraine is molting, still vulnerable.


Russia's military is in horrible shape.  Putin's desperately trying to revive it but their order of battle was never all that good.  GRU / Spetznaz is in pretty good shape after all those years fighting Chechens and a few Georgians.  Thing is, special operations troops can't hold ground.  For that, you need air cover, hearts and minds, working intel, patrols, more boots on the ground than GRU can field at present.  And they'd need a working pro-Russian government.  GRU is stretched thin.  It can create fear and hold together some semblance of control but it can't create a new modus vivendi for the Ukrainian Russians, no matter how much their loyalty to Russia might seem to be a hearts and minds campaign. 


The USA could never invade Pakistan to root out the Taliban.  In like manner Russia cannot invade Ukraine to root out Ukrainian partisans.  Ukraine has offered some measure of federation to its pro-Russian areas.  Pakistan ceded FATA to the Taliban because it couldn't control those mountains and the USA didn't invade FATA / Swat because it couldn't control those mountains, either.  Russia wants to keep Ukraine in its shadow but lacks the ability to control it, either.   Crimea will cost them a fortune - a fortune they do not have. 


Mao Zedong on Guerrilla Warfare, numerical superiority only matters in each engagement.  Even if the enemy outnumbers you ten to one, if you can limit your engagements with the enemy, ambushing him at places where he is one and you are ten, you can win.  Putin has well and truly kicked the hornets' nest in Ukraine.  It will surely go the way of Yugoslavia.

Sure hitting the enemy at their weakest and disengaging

brutusettu's picture

is the smart choice for smaller or worse equipped side with no air-power. Just as opposition research is a wise Mao-like choice.  But what would Kim Il-sung do?



What ever dictator does. Complain about the lies he's told


by his subordinate commanders.  That's the problem with dictators.  Hobbes understood the frightening efficiency of absolute monarchy:  dictators don't surround themselves with dissenting opinions.  Every dictator gone to war has fallen prey to his own grandiose visions.  They don't always start out that way:  Napoleon and Hitler were both reasonably well advised at the outset of their campaigns.   But given enough time and enough success, they begin to attribute their wins to their own judgment.  That's when they start to fail.


Borges once said democracy was an abuse of statistics.  Interesting you should cite Kim Il-Sung's mishandling of the Korean War.  Saddam Hussein's greatest complaint, whilst he still held power, was that everyone lied to him.  War is mostly about logistics and statistics, you don't have to be a Patton to win wars.  You need George Marshalls, the logistics and statistics guys.  Not many people realise how much WW2 depended on controlling already-conquered areas, feeding the civilians, tending to the massive numbers of refugees and prisoners.  The objective of land warfare is land, which, once taken, must be maintained. 


As I read the maps and what little information appears in the news, I am put in mind of the Wars of the Peninsula.  Napoleon, for all his genius in combat, the great master of manoeuvre, could not control Spain.  He simply did not have enough troops, nor did he have the good sense to enlist the Spanish to his side.  Napoleon installed his idiot brother Joseph as king of Spain, further angering the Spaniards.  The Wars of the Peninsula were a disaster for France.  If Putin thinks it can control Ukraine by occupation, he has fallen prey to the same delusion which overtook Napoleon.


Putin may think himself a Martial Artist and a master of intelligence but he is an untutored rube in the arts of war.  He has thrust his military into action without unit insignia, the surest sign of cowardice in the face of the enemy.  But his military, curiously, does not seem especially thrilled by the prospect of a campaign in Ukraine.  Their officers know how the last war against Ukrainian partisans went down.   Stalin was obliged to continue starving and beating the hell out of Ukraine for a decade thereafter:  Stalin knew the score if Putin does not.  Putin is an arsonist.  The fire he has just lit is now beyond his control.  Instead of a a new era of Russian greatness, he has once again filled the hearts of Europe with hatred and fear. 

I have also heard that Russia's military


is falling to bits, but i have no idea.


That's why I suggested a lunge for Moscow. It's only 800kms. If the Ukrainians can get another SMS campaign to buy up some diesel for the army going they might be able to get a posse of tanks onto Red Square before the Russians figure it out.


If you're going to loose, and I think they are, you might as well make a myth while you're at it.



65 kh/h max


for a T-84,  and I assume that's on a decent road.   So 13 hrs (including a 30 minute break for coffee and relieving themselves)  on roads without anyone noticing,  and that's after some loose lipped guy in Switzerland posted the secret plan on the Internet.  I think some camouflage is in order.

No need for a stop.


They'd be relieving themselves the whole way there.


As for camoflage - I'm going with a combination of the fact that they use ex soviet equipment and an SEP field. I figure if that German pacifist could land that light plane on Red Square in the 80's then anything should be possible. 

SEP Field is a Very Nice Addition...



"An SEP is something we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem.... The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot. If you look at it directly you won't see it unless you know precisely what it is. Your only hope is to catch it by surprise out of the corner of your eye."

In that series, a strange object can be effectively hidden from view while out in plain sight, by an "SEP field", which "relies on people's natural predisposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain."


As noted...nice.



We're having a laugh of course,


but maybe actually there is an important truth hidden in all of this.


It's 800km from Kiev to Moscow but from the borders of Ukraine to Moscow it's only 400km.


If Ukraine, as it is now on our maps, went over to NATO that brings the alliance 200km closer to Moscow (previously, Latvia was closest at about 600km).


Looking at the overall strategic picture (and I have absolutely no qualifications to do this, but bear with my armchair generalisms for a moment). With Ukraine in NATO large Russian cities are under 500km from the alliance and open on numerous fronts. From Estonia all the way down to the black sea. Turkey and Georgia in the south. Finland an unreliable buffer.


From Ukraine it's 300km to Stalingrad. From Latvia it's 580km to Moscow and from Estonia 150km to St Petersberg


Imagine you are a Russian field marshal, raised on stories of the Great Patriotic War and the defensive reatreat against Germany.  Imagine you are in charge of the contingency plan for the conventional defense of Moscow from a NATO assault. Look at a map and imagine your job with and without NATO in Ukraine. Imagine a counter-assault with and without Ukraine as a Russian military base.


There's another interesting aspect to this, and it's the rebirth of soft power. I think everyone is looking at it as the rebirth of hard power since Moscow is doing as she pleases because she has troops on the ground. But she is acting through the lens of soft power. It's a propaganda war. There is support in the East. 


Cheney and Rumsfeldt were contemptuous of soft power. i think this is coming back to bite the US. Look at how action against Putin is polling in Germany. Most Germans are against EU membership for Ukraine. Most are against further action against Putin. This is strongest in the East where people would have the most to fear from a ressurgent Russia and the least to loose from sanctions. Now I don't claim to have any special finger on the pulse of the German Mind, but I do have quite a few German friends, mostly Easteners. For years they have been lectured about the horrors of the Stasi - torturing people, opening everyone's mail to read it, listening in to every call. Can you imagine how they have taken recent developments in their greatest strategic ally? 


And as public support for action in Europe dwindles the only real prospect of nipping this in the bud withers on the vine (to murder 2 metaphores with 1 stone). 


I Love Your Opinion Because it is so Informed...


...however there is a dying of the European Dream where such considerations are just archaic...there is no encirclement when you are in the circle and fully integrated, from the Ural's to the North Sea, from the Caspian Sea to the Cliffs of Moher, one area with the same values, the same economic goals...not antagonistic competitors but partners. 


That is dead now.


Germans may be quavering, but an aggressive and hostile, xenophobic and nationalistic Moscow, is a real and present danger to everyone.


Germans may be...buying time for some real energy independence to come to the fore...


But...for all of this stuff I hear about Germany being, not hesitant, but actually pro-Russian, it is still actions that count most:


BERLIN (AP) — German utility company RWE said Tuesday it has started sending natural gas to Ukraine, a move that could support the country if Russia acts on its threat to cut off supplies because of a massive debt for past deliveries.
Related Stories


The reverse-flow deliveries from Germany via Poland are largely symbolic for the moment, but could be ramped up to provide about a fifth of the country's gas needs


And I must give Germans some props for this.


Best Wishes, Traveller


It seems it was just a dream.


If it was ever a real prospect it died of hubris. The EU is over-expanding and over-reaching internally.  NATO failed to offer any sort of olive branch to Moscow in the 90s. That was the moment to integrate them into the circle. Instead we got NATO expansion, Kosovo, Georgia, Syria. These are direct assaults on Russian security. We acted like we had won but retained Moscow as the enemy.


Anyway, interesting times. Is Russia just looking for a buffer or do they have their eyes on Latvia and Estonia and their Russian populations too.

NATO did offer an olive branch to the Russians in the 90s.


We had plenty of enemies in common and still do, especially Islamic terrorists. NATO reached out to Russia in 1991 and immediately set up the NATO-Russia council.  The USA had joint exercises with the Russians since the 80s and still would, if it wasn't for Putin's crassness.  For crissakes, all through the 90s, we were buying Russian plutonium and helping them disassemble their vast nuclear stockpiles, including the Ukrainian nukes.  Informed regret is one thing, maundering on pitifully and un-historically about olive branches and missed opportunities another.  Obama tried to let bygones be bygones, the famous reset of relations, the sort of thing every civilised person must do with disagreeable people from time to time.  That wouldn't do for Mr. Putin, oh no.  Putin, not the USA, put an end to Nunn-Lugar, the single greatest treaty of peace in human history, the one which did more to make the world safer from the threat of nuclear war. 


Putin has pissed in the stewpot.  The EU had every good reason to keep expanding.  NATO wasn't a threat to Russia, under any sane view of the maps.  What on earth would NATO want in Russia?  What threat did Russia pose to the West which statecraft could not address?   The one threat was Putin himself, seizing power and becoming yet another Tsar. 

Yes, those were great things,


CTR especially - ridding states like Ukraine of nuclear weapons. But it all somehow seems like the peace of the victors. Only the ex 
Soviets disarmed. NATO, whos existance was to oppose Russia did not disband, Russia did not join it


The EU faces rather the same question as NATO - what is it for? Though now, after casting about for a couple of decades, NATO has a purpose, the EU is sent looking for it's meaning. There is great discomfort amongst many Europeans about further errosion of their democracy to an EU beaurocracy and further expansion into the poorer more corrupt east. 

A peace of the victors requires a victory. There was none.


The USSR simply ran out of raison d'être.  It's not a win when one side simply disappears.  Immediately, upon the disintegration of the USSR, Germany and the USA started pumping money into the equation.  Some peace of the victors:  the Russians took that money, privatised their industries, issued stock and the New Boyars proceeded to make vast fortunes.  If anything, the fall of the USSR was a return to the Age of the Tsars, autocratic buffoons who governed through a landed aristocracy.  Well, now it's mining tycoons and lumber barons, no different than the boyars of old.


The erstwhile USSR did not disarm.  Their military industrial complex did very well indeed, see above paragraph.   The Russians proceeded to meddle in other places, especially in the Middle East, selling weapons to all and sundry.  If they were a bit chastened by their adventures in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Abkhazia and suchlike showed them incapable of winning through Soft Power.  


What is it about European thinking these days?  It's just so abidingly ignorant of history and the realities of statecraft.  The EU is little more than a set of economic constructs, an acknowledgement of certain practical economic realities.  NATO has a mission, military integration across national borders, the more the merrier and the more powerful.  NATO waded into the Balkans and did what no one European nation could do.  The shameful abandonment of the Balkans, sitting there with one thumb in their mouths and the other up their asses, making whimpering noises as the Balkans flared up into ethnic cleansing and a return to the Stone Age.  Europe proved its fecklessness in the 90s and has not improved in the interval.  What a collection of spineless cowards they have all become.  I partially blame the American role in NATO, propping up these straw-stuffed scarecrows in Savile Row suits so these Euro-weenies don't have to put any of their own money on the line for peacekeeping efforts.  The USA has enabled a generation of skim-milk cowards and amoral quislings to grow up in its shadow. 

I think the US likes them that way.


The alternative is to hve a viable alternative to themselves.


If NATO is stronger with more members why was Russia not drawn in?


The EU is not a trade agreement. That is how it started but it's declared goal has always been "ever closer union".  It explicitly aims to be a state. And it is this grand ambition that puts people off. That and of-course the lack of any sign of competence on a world stage in anything other than trade. Listen to Ashdown prattle on. Issuing edicts and threats without a single soldier to call her own. Big talk like that can walk you into a lot of trouble and then what - as you correctly note the disparate nations of the EU will all scramble in different directions, running for cover and screwing each other over as fast as they  can.


Action to stabilise the balkans was good. But it was taken a step too far in Kosovo - bombing Serbia in the way they did, white-washing the Albanians and writing Kosovo into an independant state was hubris. I think the Russians saw how the lay of the new land was and acted accordingly.


Excellent point on the Tsars by the way. This is the way of the world it would seem. The slow march back to feudalism through globalism.

Russia didn't want to be part of NATO.


From the beginning, especially at the beginning, and I have some insight into that process, everyone and I mean EVERYONE, including the USSR's military commanders, were desperately trying to keep things on the straight and level.  Mistakes would have been intolerable.  The Soviet military was in terrible shape.  Soldiers needed to be paid - do your realise NATO was involved in making sure the Soviet military was peaceably disbanded?   The USA wanted out of Europe so badly, it was almost pathetic.  Everyone was coming out of their bunkers, informing everyone else, large numbers of officers were assigned as liaisons to the other side.  Military people hate wars but they hate stupid mistakes even more.  The NATO-Russia committee was formed immediately.   The Soviet commanders were amazed by the decent treatment shown to them.   Heady times, believe you me.  After the shootdown of KAL007, the Soviets were scared to death we'd exact revenge for that bit of paranoid madness.


The real troublemakers were the erstwhile satellite states.  They feared the rise of a New Stalin.   At a practical level, NATO couldn't absorb the USSR's military, it's having enough trouble integrating the militaries it does have on board.   Russia was seen, then and now, as its own sphere of influence.   The USA and NATO have both worked hard to maintain good relationships with the Russian military, they're okay soldiers and both sides have behaved quite professionarly over the years.   It's been Putin, and Putin alone, who's screwed this up.

"some camouflage is in order"

Jay C's picture

Stolichnaya delivery trucks?

I've Been Watching Video Out of The Eastern Ukraine...


....and I sense that Kiev will have trouble holding on to any of this territory.


But so far, Ukraine soldiers are behaving remarkably well and professionally.


The dash to Moscow will be....interesting...only in the event of a full Russian invasion...which at this juncture may not be necessary to achieve Russian aims.


But it was a pretty fabulous idea.


Like Marathon.


Best Wishes, Traveller


The defeat at Marathon barely touched the vast resources of the Persian empire, yet for the Greeks it was an enormously significant victory. It was the first time the Greeks had beaten the Persians, proving that the Persians were not invincible, and that resistance, rather than subjugation, was possible.

The battle was a defining moment for the young Athenian democracy, showing what might be achieved through unity and self-belief; indeed, the battle effectively marks the start of a "golden age" for Athens. This was also applicable to Greece as a whole; "their victory endowed the Greeks with a faith in their destiny that was to endure for three centuries, during which western culture was born.

I Really Appreciate Blaise's Military Analysis and Maps...eeyn..


...I appreciate your thinking, and, I really liked Darth's turkey.


Yet, Nooys' idea of a Mythic drive to Fabulous....Really.


And yet...without aircover, it would be doomed within 20 miles of entering Russian Territory.


Then, smart you, eeyn, give me the specifics.


However, anything that would allow the lobbing of a few rounds or hand held rockets into the Kremlin would be....of Mythic Worth.


I was  thinking of an airborne stick, (load of paratroopers), maybe 50 men....but I am not sure they could penetrate Russian Airspace.


So, Tactically, I am left with...with the Russians are doing, simply smuggle in a squad with mobile weapon experience.


Almost a suicide mission...but maybe not...blend in and be gone.


But any attack on the Kremlin itself would be of inestimable my opinion, (with the caveat that I am a soldier, this is what I do...I am happy to leave the go/no go decisions to civilians)





I Disagree With Myself...


...any move on Moscow must be done in the open, with uniformed Ukrainian forces.


Sigh, as much as I like the idea of a really, really, suicide mission...


I'm not sure I would be willing to go, even as a soldier.


Maybe if given sufficient shoulder fired air to air missiles...(I will look into this)


Damn, but it would be a ballsy run.



If It's Shoulder Fired


Then it sure as heck isn't air to air.


A push to Moscow in uniform, out in the open, would result in swift death from above. It would make the charge of the light brigade look sensible.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

You're not thinking outside the box

brutusettu's picture

shoulder fired rockets that are fired by troops in helicopters.

Worse, I think it would give Russia all the pretext


(and popular support at home) it needed to mount a full invasion and Balkanization of Ukraine.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Disagree,The Full Argument is That this is Only on Full Invasion

(#316744) Russian Forces, should a dash to Moscow be attempted.


The death of the Ukraine is already in effect then...interestingly, no one will give the Ukrainians either of these missiles systems...which is fully a political decision, and is entirely a different question than the military scenarios we have been ruminating over...


I have tried to approach this as a soldier, I wouldn't order what I wouldn't be willing to do...but, politically, I presume that you have heard of the vague rumblings to put Gorbachev on trial for treason, hence any acts taken by Gorbachev would be illegal, giving some legal suasion to the idea that any steps taken to reconstitute the old Soviet Union, or at least it's boarders, is entirely legal.


A reconstituted, Militant Russia on the march is a frightening thing.


Personally, I would go to war over Ukraine, but that's me, as a soldier, I fairly firmly believe that a non-nuclear war with Russia is possible and winnable...ymmv



The Ukraine will require more killing


than Putin can hand out from his current supplies.  Ukraine can get pretty much anything it wants on the open arms market.  They don't need missile systems so much as they need a defense in depth.


Everyone's learned from the Taliban in Afghanistan and they learned from the Iraqi insurgents, who learned from the Chechens, who learnt from the Vietnamese partisans.  If Ukraine can control the roads at night, keep the Russians on the qui vive, deny them the safety beyond the wire, they win.  The Taliban never needed shoulder fired weapons.  They just kept the Americans shooting at ghosts, forever doubting if the guy in the Afghan police uniform was really one of the good guys. 


That's Putin's big problem, actually a continuation of his old problem, Yanukovich.  Yanukovich was pro-Russian, greedy and incompetent, surrounding himself with like-minded thieves, a petty kleptocracy.  Let's suppose for a moment Putin achieves his goal, nibblling out a land corridor to his new oblast in Crimea.  Who will run the show there?  Another Yanukovich?  Or perhaps Yanukovich himself?  A military procurator?  Ukrainian Russians might be loyal to the idea of Russia but they weren't so fond of the reality of Yanukovich.  That's the problem with wishes, you might just get them.  Older Ukrainians remember the last time the Russians came calling, well, they're mostly dead now or in their dotage.  The lesson must be re-learned, it seems.



it seems that these will be the decades of relearning old lessons.


Trade imbalance with Chinese, deregulation of banking (and many other things), invading Afghanistan, letting wealth distribution run to the richest, workers failing to organise. What's next? Land war in Asia?

The Chinese are where they should have been five decades ago.


When I was a little boy, I once had a toy.  It was a little box with a crank on the side.  Turn the crank and it would play a little tune.  At the appropriate time, the box would spring open and a clown would pop out.  The tune was Pop Goes the Weasel.   That's China.  Only the incompetence and idiocy of the absolutist Maoists kept China in that box.  Since Deng Xiaoping, China has popped out and everyone's So Surprised.   


China's no more a threat to world peace than the USA itself.  And like the USA, China's government grows ever more corrupt and self-satisfied, isolating itself from the will of the people.  The USA's Congress is a dysfunctional wreck, the Executive grown imperious, following BlaiseP's Rule of Good Intentions:  "The worst evils are done with the best of intentions."  Our Supreme Court seems intent upon pulling away even the fig leaves from our inchoate oligarchy.  China doesn't care, it has no fig leaves, its oligarchy grows ever more powerful, in broad daylight.


War is always unforeseeable.  War erupts when the politicians stop doing their jobs.  War stops when politicians start doing their jobs again.   I can predict trends, I predicted the fall of the USSR and was laughed at while I was still in the military.  I said at the time, they're more afraid of us than we are of them. And they were.  China's going through a phase at this point, much like the Americans and British did, the French to a lesser extent:  trying to exert influence in the world to the betterment and enlargement of their own economic and political system.  And like the Empires of old, the flowers of success have set the seeds of their own destruction:  China has never really come to terms with its continuing allegiance to the Communist system.  Still no system of land deeds worth a damn.   Still a two-tier stock market - and a badly regulated system of banks and bourses throughout - that's what will bring China down, sooner rather than later.  I can't predict wars.  Wars require madness to erupt somewhere.


Wealth Inequality - ecch, I can't be bothered to take sides with the Levellers any more.  I care about the fate of the poor, the refugees, children, the lot of women, economic problems all of them.  The growth of slums, like vast ulcers around cities, that's where revolutions begin.  While the USA and China are so inextricably linked in trade relationships, they'll find ways to get along.

And I'm not sure I agree


that war erupts when politicians fail. Bismark built a nation on provoking a single well timed war. "War is the continuation..." and so on.  Of course that notion has been out of fashion recently but we musn't fall into the trap of thinking others think like we do. The same is true with valuing trade and general prosperity. 

Bismarck knew where to stop. His Kleindeutschland


explicitly kept Austria out.  Putin isn't nearly so clever, nor is he willing to be as vicious.  Putin is a contemptible little Gauner where Bismarck was bold and utterly rational, avoiding war where it would not serve his purposes.  Bismarck knew who the real enemies were, the communists:  he undercut them with social welfare programs, creating a prosperous society with the levers provided him, perhaps the most ruthless man of his age.


Problem with Otto von Bismarck, nobody could replace him and he knew it.  Bismarck was an utterly rational man, ably serving the cause of Wilhelm I.  Wilhelm II was a different man, stupider, more aggressive and badly advised. Kaiser Bill's every action showed him for the contemptible rogue whose ignorance of Germany's limits would bring on World War I.   In his last meeting with Kaiser Bill, Bismarck predicted the Kaiser's abdication, to the year.  Bismarck gave him twenty years and that's exactly how long it took before Wilhelm II was given his abdication papers. 


Putin does not understand Russia's limits, any more than Kaiser Bill.  I am convinced, for all his talk about Russian Greatness, and I'm sure Putin believes all that - Putin doesn't understand why Russia will always be a great nation and lacks sufficient comprehension of how he might make it greater.   Let's suppose Ukraine did enter into some sort of provisional EU status agreement.  Where's the pain for Russia there?   Ukraine was always the gateway to the West.  It speaks Russian in large measure.  If Ukraine's house were reordered, its finances set to rights, brought into line with modern norms, Ukraine would become a bridge between Moscow and the West.  Nothing of substance would change:  Russia and Ukraine are inextricably linked.  I'm sure they're each other's largest customers.  They have been for centuries.  More than a thousand years of common culture joins them   Russia would get all the benefits of EU membership by proxy, without having to submit to any housecleaning of their own. 

I'll disagree - somewhat

Jay C's picture

Vladimir Putin may, indeed be "loo-la" - or getting there, but his aggressions of recent years seem to be pretty much all of a piece: the Russian takeover of South Ossetia in 2008 looks, in retrospect, like a sort of precursor to the present assaults against Ukraine, and the Crimean annexation. In both cases, the target countries contained an "enclave" of ethnic Russian, or Russian-allied populations who could be useful as internal agitators,  moving on to fifth-columnists, ending up as collaborators, and finally, a puppet government. And in both cases, the nominal "governments" of those countries had fairly weak ties with the "Russian" regions, and fairly weak militaries (or, at least, weaker than the Russians)


What's notable is that he is concentrating his aggressions - which look very much to be replicating the classic Tsarist pattern of extending Russian power into their "sphere" in Central Asia, as well: mainly economic for now, but who knows - against targets with a glaring unwillingness or inability to seriously fight back. Ukraine might be an exception: but it doesn't, at this point, seem very likely. Yes, as you point out, Ukraine and Russia are very closely linked (not necessarily "inextricably", but that, I think, is the whole crux of the matter) - but that still doesn't bode very well for the Ukrainians: Putin seems to have also adopted the traditional Russian attitude towards neighboring states: they can only fall into just two categories: satellites or enemies. I think he IS trying to recreate some variety of "Greater Russia"; just a bit more slowly.

So stipulated, JC. If by Loo-La, we mean megalomaniac


I think a good deal of Putin's wiring is misfiring.  Yes, there's method to his madness - it's just how far along the line we want to push the marker separating his actions from outright insanity


The second para is also good.  I've long felt Sevastopol was a disaster just waiting to happen.  There's no way that situation could have gone on for long, Russian ships, Ukrainian ships, old hulks rusting at anchor, most of them.  I sense the world has gotten a gutful of Putin's threats and imprecations and is ready to give him a slap which will send him reeling. 

Nothing to disagree with there.


That's what makes me think perhaps the strategic dimension is what's driving things. Trade flows come and go. Geography is forever.


Or perhaps Putin has gone loo-la. Maybe all that bare-chested psing isn't just for sale to the rubes or a front to the west to make him look unpredictable. Maybe he really is losing it in Sadam like ways.

Putin has been in power too long. He's becoming an Ivan Grozny.


grozny is an interesting word.  We translate it as Ivan the Terrible, and I suppose enough of his biography supports the accusations of terribleness.  But grozny means "terrible" in its ancient sense, awe-inspiring, fear-inducing, kingly.  Ivan Grozny was the first Emperor of All the Russias, a phrase with meaning in our times as well, for Russia is not one thing, nor was it ever. 


Ivan Grozny is still viewed with awe in Russia.  He was tremendously popular, an able monarch, given to fits of paranoid rage.  But much of his paranoia was justified.  Ivan had enemies, both within and without.  He demanded, and got, a region of absolute authority for himself, as well as his own praetorian guard, who set about annihilating Ivan's enemies. 


And it was Ivan who conquered Crimea.  Putin knows the old stories and fancies himself another Ivan, wreaking havoc on his enemies and spreading Moscow's influence far and wide.  Like Ivan Grozny, he is paranoid and as liable to kill his friends and family as his enemies.  Like Ivan, Putin is a master of the deadly insult and is heavily dependent upon a network of spies and enforcers.  Ivan Grozy gives us Russia as we understand it today.  Where it served his purposes, Ivan Grozny made deals with anyone, foreigners, erstwhile enemies, he didn't much care, as long as it served his purposes of uniting what lands he controlled and many he didn't.  Stalin's propaganda engine often compared him to Ivan Grozny.  Putin's  does much the same.  Russia was always craven, licking the boots of this tyrant and that, Ivan Grozny is still a popular figure.  


And like Ivan Grozny, Putin has no successor, only a cadre of sycophants who fear for their own lives.   Ivan Grozny did not win all his battles and often took out his rage on those who failed him.  Putin has become a despot and if he has Gone Loo-La, well, you're not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Ways to get along.


I hope so. But we might have said the same of Russia 6 months ago.

Putin was being an ass back in 2012, ending Nunn-Lugar


without so much as a by-your-leave.   Putin has become an autocrat over a longish period of time, longer than six months.  Power gone to his head. 

invasion by flash mob?



“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Nobody invades Russia and gets away with it.


With paranoids, it's best not to threaten them.  Putin has already made enough mistakes in this situation, said enough stupid things, provoked enough of the Ukraine.  Now Putin will have to back up his bully boys with serious intervention, or watch this turn into a Bay of Pigs situation.  Putin is running a serious risk here.  This could go sideways on him faster than even he, with all the summary powers of dictator, can handle. 

Russian news agencies reporting


a shootout at an airfield. Looks like it's on.

I never believe first reports, especially not from RIA Novosti.


Agitprop, exaggeration and lies is all I expect from all sides at this point



Might be nothing. But the Ukrainians are saying that they have started operations. Airfields would make sense as a place to start.

Russia is complaining at the UN


This particular airfield seems important.  It establishes a useful chokepoint along the main route, M03, connecting Kharkiv to Russia and Donetsk.  The checkpoint south of Izyum reveals the Ukraine strategy, divide eastern Ukraine along an east-west line by seizing the main highway, avoiding any fights in urban areas.  A good first move.    The pro-Russian forces have made a move at Slaviansk but they're now flanked. 


The next logical move is to seize the nexus of control at the intersection at Debaltsevo, intersection of  M03 and M04

Mr. Clemens Would Have Approved

M Scott Eiland's picture

The reports of the death of Bryce Harper's bat have been greatly exaggerated.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

huckabee hearts dprk



It wasn't that we couldn't dissent; it was that we could. Whether you agree with the opinions or not. My gosh, I'm beginning to think that there is more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States.

As my wife said: he should totally go there.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Wasn't Rodman Enough Of A Punishment For Them? -nt-

M Scott Eiland's picture


. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

On a personal note, I just had a cat put down.


All for the best, I know.  Still, every cat leaves another mark on my life.

Sorry To Hear That

M Scott Eiland's picture

I miss having a cat, but I've been living in apartments that wouldn't take them for the past decade or so. My father, who is in his early seventies, has decided not to get another cat after his last one passed on, but there is a local unattached cat that is trying to forcibly conscript him into duty--it comes by daily and meows at him until he caves and pays the expected tribute. Dad's stubborn, but in the long run my money's on the cat prevailing.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Cats are li'l emotional parasites, that's for a fact.


Cats have been importuning their way into our lives since the Egyptians and probably before, but the Egyptians did love their kitties.  Thing about outside cats, they're big cheaters.  I found a big black cat in my back yard in Old Town, Chicago, big L-shaped tear in his hide.  Five hundred dollars later, I had him back in shape.  He'd limp around the place, oh he knew how to get to me, all friendly-like.  Named him Shadow.  He'd let you pick him up, but if he wanted to get down, you'd better let him.  Because -- if you didn't, he'd go limp in your arms.  Let you play with him as much as you'd like.  But if you put him down after that, he'd creep around to your six o'clock, jump up and bite you in the ass.  Got to be a big game with him. 


So Shadow would come and go through a kitchen window from the third floor apartment.  Well, after a while, he stopped coming back.   Felt sorta bad about it, felt worse about the five hundred dollars.  Spotted him in the alley out back.  "C'mere, Shadow!"  I yelled.  He came trotting over.  Another guy leaned out his back gate "C'mon, Killer!".  He trotted back over to the other guy.


I had been two-timed!   Paid the vet bill for another guy's cat!   Oh, I was so pissed.  Tell your Dad that story.  He's courting a two-timer, I'll bet my last dollar on that.


M Scott Eiland's picture

That's the optimistic scenario. That cat could be stringing along half of Dad's neighborhood for all we know.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Thank goodness my cat


isn't like that.  She's absolutely loyal, I know that for sure.   It's true that she often has to work late,  and needed four days away to "find herself" last Fall,  but that's just how it is for a middle aged cat with a lot of responsibilities.



Probably thinks of it as we would a stock portfolio, and for the same reasons.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

That's What I Love About Cats


Cats can be independent. You never really know with a cat. To dog people this means they are treacherous. To me it means they've got humans sized up for what we are really worth.

But, for all that, they have hitched their luck as a species to ours, just like dogs. It has turned out to be a brilliant strategy so far. As the populations of all other felines collapse into the low thousands, there are probably more than 500 million cats. If we go down though, felis silvestris catus goes down with us.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I am predisposed to cats. They're my kinda animals.


These days, my cats are all indoor animals, though this was not always the case.  Until my girlfriend's dog, Cheyenne, a half-husky, half-German shepherd mix, I was not only not a dog man but especially not a larger dog man.  This dog was raised by cats.  As such, she's wise to their little tricks. Cheyenne is a fine dog.


Still, I'm a cat man.  For most of my Spanish-speaking life, I've been called Gato, by my wife and children and pretty much everyone who knew me. 

We had a small menagerie growing up.


Chickens, tortoises, couple of small dos, 4 or more cats, guinnea pigs, mice, gerbils, fish, rabbits, terrapins. I liked them all. A lot like people, you kind of know what to expect from each and don't waste your time trying to get a cat to fetch or a tortoise to roll over. 


Now, I'm pet free - kind of enjoying the freedom of it - 3 kids under 5 is enough to look after but sooner or later I'll get something for them. We haev a cat trying to finagle it's way into the house at the moment. The most tolerant cat I have ever seen. He allows my 4 year old and 2 year old to minister to him in all their innocence (something that scares even me). He seems well cared for and I've heard he lives in the appartments across the road but I guess he prefers the chicken scraps he gets with us than the cat food he gets at home.


Yesterday he caught and killed all 3 of the lizards that were sunning themselves on the drive. Ate the tails and left the bodies. It was early and they were slow.


My son found them lying about, covered in ants. We had to have a long talk about death. We arranged them with some ceremony on a large flat rock that they liked to sun themselves on. He kept going back to them throughout the afternoon and telling me that they were still there and hadn't moved. I was always a little surprised that at 4 we still hadn't had any questions about death, but seeing how surprised and sad he was I see now that he understood much less than I thought. It's really easy to overestimate the maturity of a smart kid.

Had a turkey.


No sh*t. I thought it was the dumbest thing to have for a pet at first but the bird proved me wrong. The thing was smart, sociable, I mean really friendly, would come when called. We never tried house breaking him, but if I had the chance again, I'd give it a try. He'd cozy up to folks and look for attention. I never thought a bird would do that.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Holidays must have been a little awkward. -nt-



"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

That's why we got him


We have some family that could possibly be described as being somewhat less domesticated than the turkey ultimately became.  They dropped him off for Thanksgiving.   A couple of things helped prolong the life of the bird.  First, my mom had already bought a butter ball post-mortem, the second being that nobody had any recent experience at butchering fowl so there were no ready takers for the task.  We let him go, nobody ever heard of a stray turkey.  He didn't leave.  We never thought he'd become a pet but the relationship evolved and ham was on the holiday menu for the next few years.  I have no idea what we would have done if the relatives then dropped off a pig.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

No offense Darth but


this seems slightly evasive.   "Prolong" raises more questions than it answers.    What we want to know is,  did the bird die a natural death?


We had 11 chickens at one time.   Not one got eaten,  but none died peacefully in bed either.   Dogs,  possums,  and one unfortunate rooster who failed to understand his rank in the pecking order and suffered the ultimate penalty as a result.





Notice that DC's description is in the past tense.

Maybe it got tired of all the 'gobble' jokes


and wattled off.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

A turkey, huh? Ben Franklin liked the turkey


Franklin's Letter to His Daughter (excerpt)


"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.


"With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country...


"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

That was very Touching Nyoos..You Write so Well and with Feeling



...I can visualize the ants, the lazy lizards, you son...grappling with important subjects.


This image you painted will linger with me for a while.


Best Wishes, Traveller

Thanks Traveller.


I think kids learn a lot from pets - about death, about dependance and duty, how to be kind. 


When my son was born I was simultaneously thrilled and horrified. I wasn't prepared for the intense feeling of love for this warm little bundle in my arms, the need to protect him. We had given him life but there is no life without death and I knew that I could not protect him from death. 



Same here.


Humans also hoard enormous amounts of food, so rodents, birds and bugs are all wrapped into the story. I like some well-behaved dogs, though they are often few and far between. Being a city dweller myself, I generally see better behavior in city dogs, who are socialized more than their suburban brethren, who will bark and jump all over any visitor. Though I cannot imagine having to walk an animal outside on a leash multiple times a day, every day of the year.


This might sound harsh, but I don't need or want 100% unconditional love and loyalty from a pet. Even more harsh, I find dogs to be deeply pathetic creatures, sad pack animals who are always at the bottom of the ladder, for good reason. But still sad and pathetic to me nonetheless, a desperate need for approval and attention is actually dismaying. The human/animal relation here is very much a master/slave relationship, which again, I see as necessary, but unnatural and unappealing to me. I think dogs belong in packs, living communally and mostly outside. Not neglected or abused, but it seems like the natural way these animals should live. Besides, they do not keep themselves clean.


Well socialized cats are more than enough animal attention for me. We had two cats, rescued strays that lived over seventeen years each. They were intensely bonded to each other, and when the one was gone the other fell into decline quickly. They do have individual personalities, and both would always want to be in the room with us, or even next to us or on our laps, chests or backs. Greet you happily when you come home, play and cuddle, all that stuff. Haven't been replaced and frankly, zero animals is a whole lot less work than one animal. Yes, cats are opportunists, but dogs are as well, but in a cringing under heel sort of way, or desperately seeking attention.. A cat is more of a natural fit for a home to me, as in being a roommate with a feline, versus some God-creature to a dog.


Show me his pet, I will show you the man.


For over a year, I took one of the strangest gigs of my life.  I was writing a system for an attorney, who also happened to be a CISA/CISSP security specialist.   I had been brought in to write a system to manage the discovery process.  I'd driven across the country, to Phoenix, arrived at her home late in the evening.  She and her boyfriend were planning to put me up in a hotel until they could make long term stay arrangements, as is my usual custom.  We had a few drinks, I ended up in a spare bedroom that night.


Woke up the next morning, to find Bosco the yellow lab curled up at my feet in the bed.  Took him outside by the pool, began throwing him a tennis ball:  labs are excellent retrievers.  Furthermore, they're a bit neurotic if they aren't properly exercised.  The dog and I formed an immediate attachment, not of owner-pet, mind you, but quite intense nonetheless.


We sat down after breakfast, did a scope of work analysis, realised this would take quite some time.  They had set up an office for me in the house, everything I needed, pretty much.  I'm usually an Extended Stay sort of guy, I don't need much in the way of creature comforts but I simply must have a working kitchen and enough privacy to work at all hours.  Both the attorney and her boyfriend would be coming and going in the house, they asked if I'd take care of the dog, since I'd be working there.  I said "If it's all the same to you, I'm a man of few needs, it would certainly be cheaper all round if I just stayed here during the project.  I'm a man of few needs. All I require is my room privacy and the run of the kitchen, with periodic breaks to a hotel if I should have company"   They thought this a capital arrangement:  cut the burn rate considerably.  


She was a brilliant attorney but one of those highly theoretical people.  Very little contact with the earth with that one.  Though she loved Bosco the dog, she had no concept of what that sort of dog needs.  Dogs need more than affection.  A dog that size is not a teddy bear.  As an aside, she also had an elderly cat who passed away whilst I was there.  I ended up dealing with that situation, too.  For all practical purposes, I ran the house.  I took him to the airport early on Monday morning, picked him up Thursday night -- weirdest gig I've ever had.


In Phoenix, during the summer, you get up early and work while it's still cool.  I'd run Bosco until he was tired.  During the heat of the day, it's pointless to try to do much.  In the evening, I'd run him ragged again, throwing the tennis ball the length of the house, until he would finally sag.  I'd give him ice chips out of my hand until he perked up and demanded some more ball throwing, after which he was a Tired Dog.  And a tired dog is a good dog.  Bosco slept with me, thereafter, all during the heat of the day, on his back, on my bed, at night, after I was a Tired Dog.


Bosco was really his dog, not hers.  I finished up the gig, really needed to move on, got another gig in Phoenix.  They broke up.  He moved to LA.  I'd already moved on.  I paid him a visit in Santa Monica.  We took Bosco to the park, Santa Monica is not a city of big yards and swimming pools, like Phoenix.  He told me later, Bosco got quite depressed after I left a second time.


Nobody's giving him enough exercise nor his ice chips after.  The cat on my lap, he's a great creature.  Bosco was too large for my lap.  Still dream about Bosco, from time to time, that slobbery tennis ball, the dawn red clouds to the east, the hummingbirds at the feeder, the hum of the pool pump.  And always, always, the great leap of the dog into the air, seizing the descending ball and returning it for yet another throw.



a fit young Lab needs at least an hour a day of running. Walking is not enough. 2 hours would be better. Drives me mad to see people keep them pent up alone in a back garden and then brought out for a quick water-the-plants walk around the block. 


Usually the same people who can't understand why you're not delighted to have their completely insane 40kg dog jump all over you in a desperate attempt to interact and exercise.



I do not dislike dogs, but I think that many dog owners are completely clueless about what a dog is and needs to be sane and functional. Cats on the other hand, as long as they are not abused or neglected will make a happy life for themselves. Dogs have serious NEEDS. I have no interest in providing those needs to one, and I honestly think most dog owners have very little concept of what those needs are. The teddy bear analogy is spot-on for some dog owners I know.


My brother in law has a lab that is psychotic. Not a mean animal, but certainly needs far more stimulation than he or his wife and daughter can provide. I see him as a somewhat delusional prisoner. Even with a back yard, that animal needs peers to constantly run and interact with. I see it as tragic. It really appears to have mental problems. And an animal that size with mental issues can do some serios damage to a house, doors, clothing, etc.

Humans created these breeds. It's the people, never the dog.


Every cat I've ever had is different.  Some cats are needy, others are emotionally self-sufficient. Truth is, I rather like the needy cuddle bugs, though I get along well with all cats.


When the cuteness was bred into cocker spaniel, the brains were bred out.  A stupider dog never lived than my sister's cocker spaniel bitch.  Litter after litter of fluffy, cretinous puppies, a perfect reflection of the morons who bought them.  Eventually even she tired of cocker spaniels and took up with wheaten terriers, a much better dog.  Lovely dispositions, wheaten terriers.  I'm told they make fine companions for autistic children.


A hard day it was, today.  Even the vet wept, a kindly man, Nate Meyer, DVM.  It was a great mercy, for the cat was suffering.  Seventeen years old, down to skin and bones, her kidneys shutting down, we'd been up since 0300 with her.  We should all die so well and so loved.  She passed away, her head cradled in my right hand.

With Russian forces ont he ground


in eastern Ukraine and the Russian foreign ministry making open threats about what will happen if they are confronted, this view of Kreminology is looking more precient:


Pessimism always wins. One of the reasons I left my correspondent's post in Moscow was because Russia, despite all the foam on the water, is ultimately a very boring place. Unfortunately, all you really need to do to seem clairvoyant about the place is to be an utter pessimist. Will Vladimir Putin allow the ostensibly liberal Dmitry Medvedev to have a second term? Not a chance. There are protests in the streets of Moscow. Will Putin crackdown? Yup. There's rumbling in the Crimea, will Putin take advantage and take the Crimean peninsula? You betcha


There are not many good options left for Ukraine. They live with a bear and it would seem that the bear has decided to eat them. A determined show of force at this point might make the Russians hesitate, but there will be repercussions. They don't just live with the bear they live off of it. No more Gas, no more trade, a much worsened internal dischord and continuing external interference.


If they have 1 trump card I suppose it is the gas lines that run through Ukraine into the rich markets in Europe. But how to play it without either turning Europe against them or proking the Russians into overt action.

Easter weekend appraoches.


Always a favorite for burrying stories. If you want it to sink without a trace or pass by unnotices, Easter saturday is a good bet. No one's paying any attention. As a special bonus, orthodox and occidental easters coincide this year.


I'd expect some big moves in Eastern Ukraine this weekend.

Ambivalence As Experienced By A Dodger Fan

M Scott Eiland's picture

Their ace starter is out indefinitely with a back injury, their rookie phenom from last season is the center of a deranged obsession by the national baseball media (particularly this single sentence paragraph spewing moron), various nagging injuries have made it hard for them to field three starting outfielders at once in spite of having *four* arguably All Star caliber ones on their roster, and management is currently insisting on wasting two roster spots on an utterly incompetent reliever whose release would be an admission of a serious error in handing out big contracts and a sub-replacement level bench player who has one of those names that should result in parental malpractice lawsuits or bans on certain naming practices. And yet. . .they're 9-4 at end of play Sunday--best in the NL West by a full game and second best in the NL to the streaking Milwaukee Brewers (who've won their last nine games to start the season 10-2). They're going to be hard to beat once everything is resolved, but it has been an awfully stressful 9-4.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Old Economy Steve


As long as we're grown men talking about teenaged


pop stars, this piece here is a pretty good discussion of the Lorde persona.


Someone in the comments of that piece noted that in the "working class" suburb she comes from, the median home price is $760k USD, so calling her music an expression of discontent with the gap between rich and poor is stretching things a bit.

OK, maybe she's not so much class conscious


as suburb conscious, but still ... she's 17 and doing something worth talking about.


She's also got the best pop stuff on the radio, so I give her credit.

Is Lorde going after wealth excess


broadly or a stereotype of hip-hop specifically? Food for thought, anyway:

What I do find problematic, however, is to focus a critique of excessive consumption to a genre both created and currently dominated by black Americans, particularly when the vast majority of excess consumption is done by white people – not to mention the fact that black people bear the brunt of the ill effects of wealth inequality, both in the United States and globally.

Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world -- Tennyson

I Particularly liked the Above Analysis, and ESPECIALLY....

(#316673) a perfect, self validating, (lie), the mid-article Video of Tennis Court.


I'm not a music guy, I don't like it much, (though people, musicians especially, tell me otherwise), I think I was born without a music appreciation gene...but that video, on artistic terms, and as validation of Lorde's ever so crafted persona, is...just a masterstroke and, as such, lie or no, I must admire and bow, with a laugh and a shake of the head, to this genius.




Best Wishes, Traveller


Edit: This was in response to Mr. Sshi.

This is grade-A hooey


Back in the day, Miles Davis was roundly criticised, even by the guys in his own band, for bringing in a White Dude named Bill Evans, a mousy little harmony guy.  Miles' guys gave Bill Evans crap the whole time he was in that band.  When he went off to form his own trio, lots of them came around to say they were sorry for how they'd treated him.  But at that time, jazz was the exclusive province of Black People.  If white people were playing jazz, they were just ripping off other guys' chops and sweetening them up, making them fit for white girls to dance to. 


It was BS then and it's BS now.  Black culture wasn't the only mother of hip-hop and rap.  It comes out of New York City, black, Jamaican and Puerto Rican kids, the whole Sugar Hill thing.  Afrika Bambaataa played with everyone.  That was the great thing about hip-hop, it paid no mind to all that old race line horsesh*t.  As far as some kid from New Zealand not understanding American race relations, I think she's doing just fine, this Lorde girl. Y - Verónica,hermana, tu no sabes tampoco.  Girl, you aren't old enough to remember Grandmaster Flash. 

Jack Teagarden, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman,


Django Reinhardt, Pee Wee Russell, Hoagy Carmichael, Glenn Miller; almost right from the beginning, Jazz was quite a bit whiter than people seem to remember. The beef with Miles had to do with the fact that race tensions by 1958 were starting to heat up quite a bit more than what they'd been before the war.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Please. Goodman bought Fletcher Henderson's swing beats.


Goodman was a great guy and no racist,  one of the few who weren't, Tommy Dorsey's band was another.  But the white swing bands didn't cross the race line much and stole so many licks it was scandalous.  That trend kept right on going into rock and roll, Elvis, a white guy singing black music and swinging his hips.  Those black guys sure could swing but they came in through the kitchen door.  Miles Davis was a really nasty individual who hated white people.  He beat on his women and he made life hell on his band.  Miles loved Bill Evans' chops but ragged on him something terrible and so did most of the black audience. 


After Bill Evans, Miles Davis usually kept a Token White Guy in his lineup.  Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Miles never sat still and he had a taste for what classical music offered, most clearly seen in Sketches of Spain with Gil Evans. 


But really, the white side of the jazz fence was a completely different animal.  We call it jazz today, lumping many different genres together.  Which is okay, I guess.  But jazz was seen, then and now, as emerging from the black side of the fence.  White guys took the A train to Harlem to steal a few more licks from the Cotton Club

Listen to more Beiderbecke & Teagarden.


Not to mention Django, one of the great guitarists of any style. None of those guys were stealing squat.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Django Django


and more Django.


Amazing guy.

thanks for sharing (nt)



Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world -- Tennyson

the lorde song is obviously targeting top 40 hip hop


Since its the worst offender of wealth and consumption worship. But how is that racist? Hip hop artists not in the top 40 rap about this all the time-- the fake stories of rappers and hoes, how you shot up your rival foes. Talkin loud and sayin nothin for the dollar. Youre better off quittin, start workin blue collar.

Meanwhile the heart of hip hop, artists like common and del the funky homo sapien recently did a performance to encourage factory workers in the south to unionize.

Sure, top 40 is manufactured


(and not necessarily by the artists) and hip hop beyond that is much richer (edit: in terms of content, no pun intended). 


But why go after even the stereotypical hip hop and not, say, Wall Street traders? CEOs? Trust-fund RKOI? 

Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world -- Tennyson

"why go after even the stereotypical hip hop


and not, say, Wall Street traders? CEOs? Trust-fund RKOI?" 


A musician commenting on music? And a genre she's familiar with? I don't think an explanation is too hard to work out and don't see any need for a justification. 


I thought the charge of racism was very weak.

It might be of interest to you


to check out what Lorde herself has said about her motivation for writing the song and her intended target (e.g., here and here). It doesn't show me right and you wrong, by any means, but IMHO that plus the full lyrics make the whole issue more nuanced than your take here. 

Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world -- Tennyson

In May it will be!


Right now I've already used up my monthly allotment of Lorde attention for April.

If you're a teenaged suburbanite from New Zeeland


the image you're going to get of wealth is probably going to be from the hip-hop video more than anything. Unless you're a peculiar teenager who likes Wall Street-themed movies.

Hip-hop bling and bang is no different than these country music


bumpkins with their equally caricatured pickup trucks and honky-tonk bars, all hat and no horse. For the record, Keith Urban is another New Zealander who's made it big here in the USA, fits right in with the rest of those hobby-horse Nashville cowboys.  So what if hip-hop talks trash, it's all fantasy.  Listen to country music and you'd swear everyone's a goddamn divorced alcoholic, with more guns than the hip-hop crowd.  Foreal.

Paging Jordan - mind of a jellyfish

mmghosh's picture

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Cool. Reminds me that I wanted to read Voyage of the Beagle.


Also I had no idea Descartes was a vivisectionist. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Very long review of Picketty


By Robert Wolff (5 parts in reverse order)

Wolff seems puzzled by why Piketty's prescriptions


are so tentative: a mild global tax on capital, after hundreds of pages of brilliant analysis of the impending doom of our economy. He guesses Piketty's fear is a return of revanchist fascism, but that can only be part of it I think.  


Without having read the book, I have a tentative speculation. Based on the "U-graph" it must be abundantly obvious to Piketty what cataclysms were responsible for producing the vast democratization of wealth we know as the 20th century. It must be especially obvious to the French. It took two enormous wars that tore his country apart, wasted tens of millions of lives, etc. to destroy that much hereditary capital. And it took an economic armageddon (the Great Depression) to produce the political will to restructure governments so as to even partly equalize the middle class.  


In other words, interrupting patrimonial capital beginning in 1914 required nothing less than the end of the world. No wonder Piketty's conclusions make him nervous. There may be no bloodless way to prevent the return of the Belle Epoque.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

But Europe is currently doing worse than during the GD


and fear of fascism's return and fear of a WWII like event are hardly unrelated. 


I don't think you're giving such a different story here.

I just meant that Wolff might need to broaden his horizons.


You don't need fascism or any particular ideology to have a world war.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

What to do with the higher taxes


Is the interesting question for me. I think sending everybody a check might be a good idea... an incipient guaranteed national income.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Sounds in line with the World Bank's recommendations


Their report on falling Latin American inequality specifically praised cash transfers 

If Wolff's conclusions are correct


-- and here we must remember, Wolff is famously an old reconstructed Marxist and anarchist --- he sees Piketty through the lenses of Marx and Engels.  What isn't clear to me, and I've read various reviews of the book - is Piketty standing on the shoulders of Marx?  Wolff infers the CAPITAL refers to Das Kapital.  But Wolff himself repeatedly urges us to reach no conclusions about his reactions:  he wants us to read the book.  Therefore, I'm not sure Wolff's opinion about Piketty's conclusions are indicative of what others might reach.


Taxation is only one half of the problem:  budgets are the other half.  We will never have global taxes on anything, much less effective budgets, applying those taxes where they might serve some common purpose.  The Kyoto Accords prove we can't even stop befouling our common atmosphere without a host of gibbering ignorami warning us about Tyrannous Types intent upon World Government.  The poor beg off from Kyoto, saying they simply must burn down their forests to charcoal for their cook fires.  Even those who give lip service to Kyoto mine lignite and shut down their nuclear reactors.  Even where governments have formed coalitions of the willing, as in the EU or other concordats of commerce, each jealously guards its own sovereignty, glibly recommending the removal of the motes in their brothers' eyes, the logs in their own are necessary evils.  Etcetera.


J.R.R. Tolkien — 'To crooked eyes truth may wear a wry face'


All this talk of Equalisation is so much Statist rubbish.  We will always have a class of rentier overlords, faut de mieux.  Human societies have always produced them.  Even when the mob arises, with pitchforks and torches, sending their overlords to the guillotine or the firing squad, justifying it all in the name of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, new overlords appear, even crueller and more despotic than those which came before.  Whatever else we have learned from the history of world economies, those lessons remain absolute.  The fire awaits those who imprudently liberate themselves from the frying pan.


I would argue for a subtler sort of approach.  What would happen if members of a society were treated as a Natural Resource, of sorts, worthy of capital investment?  Treat it all as Capital Improvement on an accounting basis, making someone more valuable to the society at large.  What would happen if talent scouts went out into the world, as baseball scouts to into places such as the Dominican Republic, looking for clever children worth improving?  What if citizens could rely upon the state to furnish them enough of a ladder to move up in the world?  The poor are terribly expensive.  The current modus fills the prisons to bursting.  Either we are the most criminal society in the history of the world, or we are governed by idiots who cannot see the damage they are doing.

"Wolff is famously an old reconstructed Marxist and anarchist"


I kind of enjoyed getting unreconstructed bits dropped in to the review:


All societies exist for the purpose of transferring wealth from those who create it -- the poor -- to those who do not -- the rich.  The academic professions exist for the purpose of rationalizing this transfer, the churches exist for the purpose of blessing it, and the arts exist for the purpose of decorating the transfer so as to make it as charming as possible


"Either we are the most criminal society in the history of the world, or we are governed by idiots who cannot see the damage they are doing."


There's a recent NYT piece arguing that the US is a racial democracy largely given its prison system.

All societies exist for the purpose of transferring wealth...?


As you know, Catchy, I love this phrasing, this formulation...if only because it is written so well.


But the question is, Is that first sentence true?


I would probably prefer:


All societies exist for the purpose of creating & protecting wealth....




Still, we need these intellectual frameworks to be able to think at all, (or so I surmise).



As I am given to understand it, prisons are full of the poor.


It doesn't sort out neatly by race, for different prison populations differ.  What does seem to be constant is that poor people end up in prison.  It's mostly a question of representation at trial:  people with money for competent attorneys don't end up in prison as frequently.  I don't think it's racial so much as economic, though I hasten to add the racial disparities in prison are undeniable.  Just happens that more black men are also poor men.

"Just happens that more black men are also poor men."


It doesn't just happen, it's partly b/c so many are in prison rather than working, and then can't get good jobs afterwards.


Also, the emphasis on wealth rather than race doesn't explain why poor black people are in prison at higher rates than poor white people, nor why blacks receive harsher sentences for equivalent crimes compared to whites.


The prison-industrial complex is a real mess, arguably the worst aspect of America.

The emphasis on competent representation at trial


explains enough for me to ascribe these horrid prison sentences to something far more obvious than mere racism.  Plenty of white people are in prison too. 

The racial disparities across the board, economic, educational,


sociocultural, and of course penal, are just about as point-blank inescapable as numerical facts can be. How any of us have managed to convince ourselves that we live in a "post-racial" society is one of the great unsolved mysteries of American culture.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Bear with me a bit here. Racism is only a superficial aspect


of the problem.  Yes, the world still plays the Race Game.  That's not the point.  There are far more powerful forces at work in this equation than merely sorting out people along racial lines, though that's largely how the world does sort out these days.  I've been watching this for a long time, gentlemen. Why has America - and other nations - re-segregated with such a will?  Why do we still observe the colour line at all?  All the different components of the "white" people were once separate - why have they homogenised?  This was not always so:  Irish, Poles, Swedes, French, British, hell, I remember when Jewish people weren't viewed as entirely-white people.  When's the last time you heard that distinction made?  The KKK didn't like Catholics or Jews any more than they liked black people. 


Racism is still with us.  But it doesn't account for all those black people in prison.  Poor white people are also in jail.  We would hope a poor man accused of a crime, represented by some overworked public defender, would receive the same treatment in court as a guy capable of paying for a good attorney - but that's not the way the law works.  C'mon.

Racism explains a great deal of the hostility to entitlements.


Racism explains white flight, derelict schools, redlining and urban cycles of poverty. It explains unequal drug sentences for different formulations of cocaine. Racism explains "tough on crime" statutes (observe how European conservative "tough on crime" statutes invariably target non-Euro immigrants). It's been proven ad nauseam that blacks & latinos are more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced more harshly for the same crimes even at parity income levels. It explains the Tea Party.


Race might not be the entire problem, but it is a great big hunk of the problem.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I don't buy any of that. All those problems can be addressed


in a courthouse.  How do you think White Folks do it?  How do they maintain their advantages?   With lawyers.  Get real. 

The book is a self-conscious homologue to Das Kapital,


though Piketty himself is no communist. 

Even when the mob arises, with pitchforks and torches, sending their overlords to the guillotine or the firing squad, justifying it all in the name of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, new overlords appear, even crueller and more despotic than those which came before.  Whatever else we have learned from the history of world economies, those lessons remain absolute.  The fire awaits those who imprudently liberate themselves from the frying pan. 

Except that the years 1948-1980 show the opposite to be true. However, the incipient cause of what you could call three decades of the 'democratization of capital flows' was worldwide capital collapse followed by the most violent conflict in all of human history.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Successful revolutions always have rich backers.


The American Revolutionaries operated on their own behalf:  big landowners who were mostly annoyed by their second-class status.  I've often wondered what might have happened, if Lord North had set up the colonists in Parliament, humoured their ambitions.  They weren't so much annoyed by the taxation as by the lack of representation.  Once on their own, the genius of the United States was how cleverly they rigged their ship to keep power from vesting in any one person, organisation or individual state.


Poor revolutionaries never prosper.  They always end up snookered by a tyrant.

Taxes & spending triggered the French Revolution, but


interestingly enough, taxes went up a great deal higher in the years after the revolution than they had ever been under the ancien regime. When people feel they are spending their money on matters of importance to them, the objection to taxes melts away.  


Another interesting wrinkle though: the royal treasury was in in terrible shape in the 1780s largely because of an overseas military adventure that in point of fact was extremely popular with those who were fast becoming revolutionaries, viz., French support of the American Revolution nearly bankrupted the king.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

The French system of taxation hadn't been altered much


since medieval times.  Louis XIV had poured out money on his wars, leaving huge deficits.  Louis XV's advisor Machault d'Arnouville tried to collect taxes from the church and nobility - the attempt failed.  Louis XVI tried again to reform taxation, again more failure, ending with his head struck off.  France collapsed as much from lack of a proper taxation system as anything other cause.

One interesting thing that Picketty points out is global

mmghosh's picture

enforcement of the 80% tax rate is essential for his wealth tax proposal to work.  Saez and Picketty in an article last year analysed the consequences well.

At a time when most OECD countries face large deficits and debt burdens, a crucial public policy question is whether governments should tax high earners more. The potential tax revenue at stake is now very large.

For example, doubling the average US individual income tax rate on the top 1% income earners from the current 22.5% level to 45% would increase tax revenue by 2.7% of GDP per year – as much as letting all of the Bush tax cuts expire (only a small fraction of them lapsed in January 2013). But of course, this simple calculation is static: such a large increase in taxes may well affect the economic behaviour of the rich and the income they report pre-tax, the broader economy and, ultimately, the tax revenue generated.


There is a strong correlation between the reductions in top tax rates and the increases in top 1% pre-tax income shares, for the period from 1975-79 to 2004-08, across 18 OECD countries for which top income share information is available. For example, the United States experienced a 35 percentage-point reduction in its top income tax rate and a very large ten percentage-point increase in its top 1% pre-tax income share. By contrast, France or Germany saw very little change in their top tax rates and their top 1% income shares during the same period.


There are three scenarios to explain the strong response of top pre-tax incomes to top tax rates; each has very different policy implications.

First, higher top tax rates may discourage work effort and business creation among the most talented: the so-called supply-side effect. In this scenario, lower top tax rates would lead to more economic activity by the rich and hence more economic growth. If all the correlation of top income shares and top tax rates seen in the above data were due to such supply-side effects, the revenue-maximising top tax rate would be 57%.


Second, higher top tax rates can increase tax avoidance. In that scenario, increasing top rates in a tax system riddled with loopholes and tax avoidance opportunities is not productive either. A better policy would be to first close loopholes so as to eliminate most tax avoidance opportunities, and only then increase top tax rates.


In the third scenario, while standard economic models assume that pay reflects productivity, there are strong reasons to be sceptical, especially at the top of the income distribution where the actual economic contribution of managers working in complex organisations is particularly difficult to measure. Here, top earners might be able to partly set their own pay by bargaining harder or influencing compensation committees.

Naturally, the incentives for such "rent-seeking" are much stronger when top tax rates are low. In this scenario, cuts in top tax rates can still increase top income shares, but the increases in top 1% incomes now come at the expense of the remaining 99%. In other words, top rate cuts stimulate rent-seeking at the top but not overall economic growth – the key difference with the first, supply-side, scenario.

To tell these various scenarios apart, we need to analyse to what extent top tax rate cuts lead to higher economic growth. Again, data show that there is no correlation between cuts in top tax rates and average annual real GDP-per-capita growth since the 1970s. For example, countries that made large cuts in top tax rates, such as the United Kingdom or the United States, have not grown significantly faster than countries that did not, such as Germany or Denmark.

Picketty's theoretical work seems reasonably strong, at least on first view, but as BlaiseP pointed out, a lot of this was both known and is also both logical and intuitive.  What is new and interesting about Picketty to me is his idea of the 80% global tax rate on the global 1%.  I'm sceptical about this idea is on 2 grounds.  First, the 1% who control the enforcement arm - aka the US military - would not meekly accept such talk; I imagine theoretical ripostes to Picketty's analysis are being funded and created in major academia as we speak, and will soon appear in the WSJ.  Secondly, how is the wealth tax to be distributed?  Wagster mentions a national income model.  Presumably more money in the pockets of low income earners would stimulate the global economy.  But global coordination of tax rates?  This is Illuminati at work talk.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The proposal is for a global 1% annual tax on wealth


It might sound pie in the sky, but is there a more plausible means of addressing the issue of a new capitalist aristocracy? Piketty argues some initial progress might be made in the EU.


As for what's new, I haven't read the book but don't currently have a precise sense of what % of the developed world's wealth is currently acquired through inheritance vs. income and personal savings, what past trends have been, and where future trends are heading.


Nor do I have a sense of how these trends relate to productivity and population growth. 


That looks to be the main potential contribution of the book, which doesn't sound like a recapitulation of widely known facts.


And there are lots of reasons that seems worth talking about. If inheritance is soon to be the primary cause of wealth, that suggests the mechanism for creating more equal opportunity should be an inheritance/wealth tax, not policies that merely seek to increase opportunities for job training and education etc.


The Wolff review says Piketty calls attention to what society is like with an capitalist aristocracy (what P. calls "patrimonial capitalism") and draws off a range of historical sources including Jane Austen and Balzac.


That also sounds new and interesting to me.

Is that right?


I thought Picketty was advocating a 1% tax on wealth, not income. At any rate, at 80% evasion would be astronomical.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Piketty explains 48 to 80. Lemme tell you, 1968 was a scrape.


and 1969 featured some interesting bonfires.  The fractal dimension D for all these little transients doesn't make the trend any less obvious.  Nor do the working examples of revolutions show anything but a depressingly obvious vector of frying pan to fire. 

Thanks, catchy: good find

Jay C's picture

So now, having been badgered persuaded by Jordan to transfer wealth spring for Piketty's tome to the tune of $22, we ARE going to have to have a Forvm Book Club discussion one of these days. One that's not TOO close, I hope...


PS: catchy: the re-do of this Age should be "Gilded", not "Guilded" (though the latter term is an interesting one)...