Weekend Open Thread

Leave any thoughts below, and here's some very chill jazz music for a relaxing summer weekend:


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Chill Jazz!!


Love the chill, no matter how purists sometimes complain (and sometimes with good reason).  And no label was better at supplying it than this one.

“Two clichés make us laugh but a hundred clichés move us, because we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion." - Umberto Eco

Smoove Jazz lost coolness about the time


Beautiful Muzak appropriated its tenets.  It retreated into the tonic, all the sharper harmonic edges were buffed off.  It got dreamier and dumber as the marketing weasels and A&R bozos took over.


Still, I've always liked chill, in all its forms.  This has been in my headphones, working, today, Passport, Cross-Collateral . Klaus Doldinger, whom everyone aped for a while, eventually giving rise to all that Kenny G oatmeal.

Wow - Passport is still active


They released two albums in 2011. Far out man.

Oooh. Good label


QUincy Jones, Bob James, Lalo Schifrin, Ron Carter, Nat Adderly, Paul Desmond, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans ...


Thanks - I haven't paid enough attention to this one. 



The South, the worst part of America




What does "living in a poverty area" mean?


Did the map of plain old "living in poverty" not show what it was supposed to?

Honestly, I didn't look at the map very closely


... I ... I think I was trolling

Let's look at the definition


as laid out in the original report.  If folks have problems with terms like "census tracts" and other statistical terms most people mastered in high school, I'll be glad to help explain them.

Thank you, Blaise


for finding the report.   I'm OK with census tract,  and am also glad to be informed that most people mastered the term in high school. 


Where you could help is telling me why this statistic is useful.  I'm not against measuring anything but if one is concerned by poverty this is a poor measure because:


(a) it takes people who are not poor and adds them to the stats,  merely because they live near a lot of poor people

(b) it takes people who are poor and fails to count them,  merely because they live near a lot of middle class people

(c) it makes places look better when they actively use zoning and racial discrimination to segregate the rich and poor into different locations

(d) it penalizes places that try to integrate the poor by building housing projects near good schools and healthy business districts


Why would one want to focus on this?



If you think of poverty as a social problem, and see that the localization of poverty effects such as inferior access to services, inferior health outcomes, inferior educational opportunities etc etc etc, then it makes sense to consider groups of people in geographical proximity whether or not they are individually poorer or richer.



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

It's all unscientific bafflegap


People who are "poor" or "rich" are not "added to the stats" nor do the stats fail to count them.  Everyone in a specific census tract is already Part of the Stats.  Poverty is a problem at many levels, not just a social problem, as you observe.  But those problems only emerge once we've taken the individuals out of the picture and started looking at the statistics. 


The Conservative problem is not a philosophical or ethical problem.  It is a scientific problem.   They don't understand how statistics work.  It shows up everywhere:  climate change, pollution, cosmology, biology.  They are not people of science and insist upon their asinine flat-earth views being given equal time, as if they had any credibility

Here's an interesting problem I'm working on just now.


Click this link and you'll see a bit of JSON data generated by Google.  I work with this JSON stuff all the time.  What you'll see is the definitive geolocation data for the middle of Buffalo County, the poorest county in the USA.


Shouldn't tell you have to read this, it's all fairly self-explanatory.  I can furnish the QuickFacts for Buffalo County.  Statistics doesn't care about the individual.  The individual is meaningless in such a context.  Who's poor?  Statistics doesn't care about this problem:  it looks at income data.  You decide what's poor, the numbers don't.  As for the rest of your concerns, I refer you again to the JSON data.  That's the reality of that point at 44.060934° Lat -99.427562° Lon.

Don't Interfere With The Voxsplaining -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!).

First Hobby Lobby, now JC Penney


This was bound to happen:


July 1, 2014 - Citing the newly-established precedent of corporate-religious exemption, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of JCPenney, upholding the company's right to sacrifice pure-hearted employees in order to assuage the Dread Lord Cthulhu, Bringer of Madness.

When Asked to Comment....


That's Funny:


When asked to comment on JCPenney's victory, the lawyer for the plaintiff party said, “Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!” then vanished into another dimension.





- See more at: http://www.moonmontchronicle.com/supreme-court-rules-jcpenney-allowed-to-sacrifice-employees-to-appease-cthulhu.html#sthash.9MVxJViN.dpuf


Best Wishes, Traveller

Why didn't you say something before?


I like it a lot better than the word "liberal"


Not because liberal's been tainted by conservative sneering, either. (Although it has been.)


"Progressive" associates the movement with one of the brighter spots of reform in American history. They took on the robber barons and government corruption. Yeay.


But also, the etymology is truer. People on the left want to progress... people on the right want to conserve. That is a pretty accurate short-hand. On the other hand, liberal's root comes from the Latin for free... that's fine for libertarians, who (ostensibly) want to be left alone. But it's not really a fit description for progressives, who judge government's interventions on a case by case basis.


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

Progressive implies we can cure everything with legislation.


Maybe we can make something of that adjective these days, but the Progressives were of a specific era.   Those who want the label are stuck with the Progressives' mistakes of that era.   Mentioned Prohibition before, the War on Drugs arises from the states' failure to regulate patent medicine.  The Progressives thought they could cure everything with more regulation.


After a long period of deregulation, we're now in a sad state of affairs as a nation.  Though Prohibition has been repealed, the War on Drugs is just eating us alive.  I don't have a good solution to the War on Drugs.  We do need to get these addicts cleaned up but they're committing a host of crimes against persons while they're addicted:  burglary especially.  No simple answers.


But more regulations are in order:  banks, financial industry, that sort of thing.  And we need more people to enforce the laws we do have; quickest way to gut a law is not to enforce it.  Quickest way to non-enforcement is to fire "bureaucrats" whose job it is to enforce those laws.


If the conservatives sneer at the Progressives, we must admit some of it is deserved.  But they're the last people who ought to be sneering about Big Gummint.  Every time we put a Republican in the White House, we end up with Moah Gummint.

Progressives advocate repealing many laws


drug laws, deportation laws, marriage bans, excessive intellectual properties protections, etc. 


I think getting rid of bad laws is part of progressivism's "brand" in the 21st century.

Where they do, they're Liberals. It's just semantics


and yes, many self-described Progressives aren't offended to be called Liberals, amongst themselves.  There's a substantial overlap, I hope you'll agree.  Yet consider:  the old Classical Liberal looked a lot more like a Libertarian.  Granted, in the days of JSMill, Liberals had more social conscience than any of today's Libertarians -- it's all quite horrible -- not even the Conservatives today act like Conservatives -- the nomenclature is abysmal.


Liberals were once against too many laws.  I still am.  Far too much evil is done with the best of intentions, especially when it comes to legislation.  We're far too reliant, both as Liberals, which I call myself - and as Progressives - which many of my political allies call themselves - upon the power of government to act on our behalf.  The problem with a republican form of government - said this many times, too - is how dependent a republic is upon civic participation.   And that's what just drives me crazy about Liberals and Progressives:  we say we care about the poor, we say we care about the plutocrats taking over, we espouse all these positions, eminently defensible from the evidence - and then we elect jackasses who won't do what they say they're going to do on our behalf.  


I'm so disgusted with Barack Obama and his cadre of weasels up there in the White House.  Won't prosecute these bankster criminals, all he does is walk around with his wet finger in the wind, figuring out which way the wind is blowing.  He isn't listening to the people who elected him.  The Conservatives, they have to dance with the girls what brung them or they get punished, look at Eric Cantor, case in point.  Far as I can tell, there's only one Liberal in Congress, Bernie Sanders.  Rara avis.  Endangered species.  

I don't care about being called a "liberal"


But to me liberalism connotes a '60s-based ideology that the Reagan Revolution successfully killed.


Progressivism is about objecting to the religious right and social conservatives pushing around the population and economic conservatives allowing every wealthy institution and individual to write and break laws so as to enrich themselves at our expense (that includes the defense sector). Progressives want to fix this.

Dirty little secret: The Conservatives hate the Fundies, too.


They're slaves to 'em at present, they'd like nothing better than to give all these Baptist Mullahs the old heave-ho.  And here's another little dirty secret, they hate the plutocrats even more than the Liberals.   The plutocrats are faithless, you see.  When it suits their purposes, they give to the Republicans.  But nobody did more to deregulate Wall Street than Bill Clinton.  And nobody's saved Wall Street's bacon more than Barack H Obama, him and that worthless lump of non-prosecuting doo-doo Attorney General Eric Holder.  And we don't have to guess Why.  We know.  The Democrats took Wall Street money and Wall Street made sure they did exactly what they were told.  "You can leave your hat on"


Reagan didn't kill anything.  He blew a whole forest fire worth of smoke up America's collective patoot but he was no Conservative.  He was a Tory.

Conservatism is an ideology dedicated


to creating and sustaining plutocrats, and I don't think they care very much about Christian fundamentalists, who are essentially religiously opposed to all the people and organizations who might come after the plutocrats' special legal status or obscene wealth. The Ralph Reeds of the party have really sewed this up.


I agree the D leadership has sold out to any number of interests, especially Wall Street. But I think the progressive wing of the D party is the only mild hope of addressing this corruption. Thankfully it's larger than Bernie Sanders.

Again, it's semantics. Two parts to American Conservatism.


The first is, as you say, the elitists, the plutocrats, especially Old Money.  Anywhere else they'd be called Tories.  But the second is more interesting.  They're Jacksonian Democrats, old style populists, who understand the consequences of letting too much power into anyone's hands, including the plutocrats.  Yes, they're against Big Gummint but look at what the Tea Parties are yelling about.  They might not be the sharpest steak knives in the drawer but they know this government is a parliament of whores.  And they know who's pimping them, too.  The aforementioned plutocrats.  


The second part has declared the Emperor Wears No Clothes.  The plutocratic part knows the score and they've just shelled out a lot of money to keep the old-style Conservatives in office.   Meanwhile, the Tea Party SUV is driving around with Eric Cantor's head bolted onto the hood and the Pucker Factor has gone to a zillion kilopascals.


It's endemic schizophrenia within American Conservatism.  Nothing like it elsewhere.  In the USA, usually the plutocrats can keep the populist mouthbreathers distracted from their shenanigans.  That kinda stopped a few years ago.  Everyone knows the score, now.

Good comment, wags


I couldn't find a more recent poll, but this 2011 one says 'progressive' is quite popular:


Atrios's reaction that some beltway types have corrupted the term seems to put too much emphasis on what happens inside the DC bubble.

I don't much like the word Progressive, either.


There was once a Progressive movement in this country.  Its goals were mostly of the Legislatin' Evil Out of Our Lives sort.  Much of what they did was excellent.  Not all of it.  We probably need more of that sort of thing, today.  But the Progressives also gave us Prohibition and a host of other Nanny State evils.


Me, I'm a Liberal.  Glad to be called one.  

Cat's kinda out of the bag


after the 2006 "progressive" congressional victory.


"Liberal" doesn't poll very well, so it always struck me as OK to re-brand. I recall you saying before that you didn't like "progressive", but this is the first time I recall Atrios saying it, despite the fact that he's one of the most widely read left-leaning blogs in America.   

Atrios is getting a bit stale.


His site is even uglier than ours, which is saying a lot.  His Liberaller-than-Thou schtick is well past its sell date.  


Liberals don't need reinventing.  We share more in common with honest Conservatives and the more informed parts of the Libertarian community than any other part of the political taxonomy.  John Stuart Mill was a Liberal.  I am a Liberal.  

An oldie but a goodie


Atrios in 2014 almost single-handedly re-ignited the idea that Social Security should be expanded rather than cut. I don't find his blog stale in content.

Atrios is more wearisome than Excitable Andy.


For a while, it was nice to see some Liberals with cojones, willing to stand up to the worst excesses of the Bush administration.  Here's my problem with all the Air America guys, only one of them had any lasting impact.  The comedian.  Got elected senator.  Al Franken.  The rest of them aren't worth a bucket of warm spit.  All preaching to the choir.  All of them led down the Primrose Path by the Obama Crowd, which has governed far to the right of everyone's expectations.  They're all chumps, poor things, if a politician comes along and asks for their support, they're just oh so glad to get out there and do all that Bloggy-Cool Grass Roots thing - and those very same Earnest Politicians get elected, snicker broadly at those Netroots Idiots and - do exactly as they please.


They're not serious.  They're whiners.  And I'm sick of them all.

Al Franken's done good


Why, he's even signed onto some of the ideas Atrios helped popularize in USA Today editorials and elsewhere, like expanding SS. 


Comparing Atrios to Andrew Sullivan is nonsense -- Sullivan is a fundamentally incoherent thinker, while Atrios has the skill of concisely boiling many issues down to their essences, a great value in the Information Age.

Liberals have been around longer than Atrios.


Supplemental Social Security was established in 1972, the year Atrios was born.  

Tired old ideas


Moldy oldy ideas like raising the minimum wage, protecting the environment, expanding social security and medicare, etc. have all gone out of fashion among our wealthy and politically connected elite.


Whomsoever can kick start them again should be praised, which is why I praise Atrios. 

Sullivan is not a thinker, he's a performance artist. -nt-



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

Surrender Or Be Destroyed

M Scott Eiland's picture

F.I.R.E. to colleges maintaining illegal and unconstitutional speech codes: cease and desist or be forced to by lawsuit.

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

I'm an ACLU card carrier


And while speech codes are bad, this issue doesn't rank very high in 2014.

F.I.R.E. Disagrees

M Scott Eiland's picture

They're quite willing to take up the battle in lieu of those who don't find it important.

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

"in lieu of those who don't find it important"


I would be more sympathetic to FIRE's judgment of what's importnt if they had spent time defending Occupy protestors' free speech rights of protest and assembly. My understanding is FIRE didn't, where the nationally coordinated police action against college students and professors was far and away the greatest threat to free speech on college campuses so far this century.


Instead I've seen FIRE criticize students for not wanting commencement speeches from some of the same administrators who helped perpetrate the chilling blow to civil liberties.


(We're all aware from past comments that a mention of Occupy might provoke poop-and-soap-related responses, but hope springs eternal.)

Hobbyhorse Noted

M Scott Eiland's picture

I'm sure F.I.R.E. will soldier on in spite of the disappointment from OWS supporters.

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

It resurfaced with this year's canceled commencement speakers


I saw FIRE quotes that were critical of students in news reports which failed to acknowledge that some of these speakers were being opposed precisely b/c they helped coordinate the brutal free speech crackdown. 


This was a failing on FIRE's part just recently, and on a more important and high profile free speech issue than trigger warnings on syllabi.

They Never Went Away

M Scott Eiland's picture

And F.I.R.E.'s summary of disinvitations and attempted disinvitations in recent years doesn't seem to agree with your recollection.*

*--although "some" could mean "a couple out of dozens," of course--but that would render any failure of F.I.R.E. to address that particular grievance a tad laughable.

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

Yeah, that just shows FIRE's not a very good organization


They aren't thinking clearly about "free speech" and commencement addresses.


Their executive summary doesn't once mention the big paychecks, the honorary degrees, the fact that many in opposition explicitly invited the disinvited speakers to participate in a debate or other forum on campus vs. award them honors, 10s of thousands of $s, and a captive audience, etc.


"A faculty that is hostile to the mere presence of oppositional, inconvenient, or unpopular speakers and beliefs will likely be less adept at teaching students the values of critical thinking, open-mindedness, and free intellectual inquiry that universities are supposed to embody."


An organization that is too dumb to understand the special circumstances surrounding commencement speakers should not be offering advice to university faculty on how to impart critical thinking skills.

Again. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .I'm sure they'll soldier on without the support of those "special" people who participated in the disinvitations.

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

Your comment is special in its irrelevance


Notwithstanding the irrelevance, FIRE seems to be losing on the disinvitation front, as the org so extensively and brainlessly cataloged. 

No Constitutional Implications To Disinvitation

M Scott Eiland's picture

Just being bad educational institutions, indulging temper tantrums by their students. Speech codes, however, are going to get the schools in question a swift kick to the gonads, judicially speaking. Which is why F.I.R.E. is concentrating their legal efforts there. Happy to point that out.

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

Left-leaners having standards


will always be portrayed as a temper tantrum (or some synonym) in your comments. 


It's pretty simple to translate accordingly:


Informed young people don't want Bush II's disastrous National Security Advisor showered with honors by their institution and therefore they're shrieking, whining and acting like children reasonable people with standards.

whining, shrieking, gonad kicking, FIRE!


its all very childish.

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

"Corporations are people, too..."


Where have we heard that before?  FIRE doesn't stand a chance in hell of defeating the Academy.  Once the student has been enrolled in the Academy and signs the Code of Conduct, it's all over but the crying.  No different than any other signatory in any other set of circumstances.  

They've Been Beating Public Universities. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .like redheaded stepchildren on these codes for years--F.I.R.E. is just tired of stomping them one by one like moonbat cockroaches. Or they're tired of people claiming that this sort of thing was a fad in the nineties but isn't a problem today. Cleanse them with F.I.R.E.

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



oh jeez, do they have a morgoth or two to unleash on those pointy headed beardos and wiccan vegan grey haired tote baggin womyn's studies profs?


these comments of yours read like bad 90s rushbo retreaded rants.



been to a college campus in the last 20 years? does it really seem like the kids are being repressed by the fascist boot of antiapartheid divenstment dreadlock hip hop breakdancing speech coders?

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

The Speech Codes Are Still There. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .and F.I.R.E. is going after them, as they have been repeatedly found to be unconstitutional when state run schools engage in them. That's an objective fact, and makes the "this is all left over from the nineties" riff seem sort of, well, lame.

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

to each his own


sort of, well, lame


i find that comments equating litigation with gonad kicking and cleaning with F.I.R.E.! to be not "sort of" but fully lame, as well as hysterical and reminiscient of the shrieks you regularly impute to others.


but again, to each his own. one must find one's thrills where one can.

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

Please. FIRE aren't getting anywhere.


For all their ranting, some of it justified, these universities are perfectly able to beat down these FIRE types.


I always smile when I hear the word "Fair" in any debate.  It's like blood in the water.  Draws in the sharks.  Sometimes it's the Liberals uttering it, sometimes it's the Conservatives.  It's always a sign of weakness.  Life isn't fair and universities are well within their right to oblige students and faculty to sign codes of conduct.  Think of it as "At Will Enrollment".  That casts things in a slightly different light.  Thus the universities are no different than any other corporation - just fire the professor - or expel the student - they don't need a reason.  Who ya gonna call?  The Ghostbusters at FIRE?

Public Universities Are Subject To The First Amendment

M Scott Eiland's picture

Which is why F.I.R.E. keeps winning in these cases, and will continue to do so. Private universities have more leeway, unless they promise students freedom of expression and renege on it, which will cause F.I.R.E. to either sue or simply call out the university as being hostile to free speech, with whatever impact that ends up having. They've been doing this for years and are quite good at it--I'd recommend checking their website out.

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

Yeah, yeah. Urofsky v Gilmore


lays all this out in exquisite detail.

Not Really

M Scott Eiland's picture

But hey, if F.I.R.E. suddenly ceases to succeed in beating these idiots into submission, I'm sure you'll let me know.

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

Idiots never improve by beatings.


Those who would impose Freedom upon us are everywhere in abundance.  Wretched little people, wranglers down at the Sacred Cow Ranch, every last one of them.  Would that they were equally-exercised about limits on freedom of expression when it comes to unionising.  

Not Always

M Scott Eiland's picture

After all, as I noted not long ago, there are still fools running schools who haven't gotten the memo that you can't force kids to say the Pledge of Allegiance. But in those cases, the beatdown can be and is delivered as often as necessary to make the obnoxious behavior stop, at least for that offender.

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

Nor do folks realise Prayer in School is legal.


I suppose, after all these years, I should not be frustrated by the stupidity of the General Pop.  It does annoy me, though, how few people understand the Bill of Rights or how seriously they've been abrogated over the years.  But then, I've given money to ACLU.  Wouldn't give a nickel to FIRE, though.  Their obtuseness is just unseemly.  

Washington's Iraqi Information Minister, Paul Wolfowitz in '03

brutusettu's picture

"There are other differences that suggest that peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There’s been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia along with the requirement for large policing forces to separate those militias."

from Juan Cole

brutusettu's picture

The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli squatter youth whose parents usurped Palestinian land has produced a paroxysm of hatred and calls for reprisals in Israel. Whoever is responsible for it, the killing of the youth was a horrid and inexcusable crime, and the heart of any parent goes out to the bereaved families.
It should be noted that during the Israeli dragnet in the West Bank, some 9 Palestinians, some youth or children, have also been killed, and hundreds arbitrarily arrested. The heart of any parent also goes out to those bereaved families.


It should be fairly obvious that if you take adolescents into the middle of the Palestinian West Bank and steal Palestinian land and build houses on it and shoot at Palestinians trying to harvest their crops nearby and bulldoze down their homes or dig tube wells so deep as to cause the Palestinian wells to run dry– if you engage in this settler-colonial enterprise, then you are exposing those adolescents you drag with you into it to danger.
It is still wrong. Violence in anything other than direct self-defense is always wrong, and innocent non-combatant life must never be taken. A resistance movement is legitimate, but its quarrel must be with soldiers.

Shorter Juan Cole: "I don't approve of the murder of


Jewish civilians, but..."

Of course there is a "but". nt

mmghosh's picture


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

Spent a lot of time around Palestinians.


Never worked out their line of thinking.  In a world where, as Auden said, 

A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
   Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
   That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
   Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.


-it strikes me strange to see the Palestinians fail to come to terms with each other.  Hamas murders far more Palestinians than Israel ever did.  Drags people from their homes, shoots them in the street. The Arabs hate the Palestinians more than even the Israelis, who manifestly treat them like dirt.  Generations of Palestinians have failed to provide any practical leadership.   Palestinian politics - Arab politics in general - is a foot race where should anyone get out in front, the other runners shoot him in the back.  


Why don't the Palestinians come to terms with the Israelis?  The answer, I am sad to say, is because none are willing to get out front.  The unfinished But here, is Kafka's observation.  "There's plenty of hope in the universe... but none for us."  As in Iraq, or anywhere else, in the absence of thoughtful leadership, the maniacs, especially the likes of Hamas or the Christian Right, are always there to take up the slack.


Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.


And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

Shooting a few Jews, well, others have found it to be a fine, if temporary, palliative to those feelings of injustice and suffering.  It's endorsed in the Qu'ran, you know.  These days, though, the Jews shoot back.  If the Palestinians had any sense, they'd ally themselves with the Jews, who hate them less than their Islamic brethren in Lebanon and Egypt and Syria hate them.  Used to be quite a contingent of Palestinians in Iraq during the days of Saddam, who thought the Palestinians made fine show animals in his exhibit for Arabic Justice.  The Shiites murdered them and took their nice apartments.  But we mustn't point out, at any phase of the I/P argument, injustice meted out to Arabs - by other Arabs.

That's a cocktail of Naïf fantasy and whataboutery.


The Israeli state has absolutely no interest in allying themselves with the Palestinians or coming to any terms other than complete surrender. Even surrender is not good enough since they would continue to pose the problem of their own existence. They would simply like them to dissappear. Failing that, to live in misery and poverty perhaps providing some cheap labour for factories and farms. The state has taken their land and homes their water and their future and continues to take what little is left so that the religious fantasies of a bunch of nut-cases can be entertained in hill-top fortresses and their votes extracted for their buddies in the knesset.


The Palestinians have tried negotiation and compromise and it bought them nothing. Just delays and extensions, polonium poisoning  and the daily slow grind of occupation. The state of Israel has given on nothing - not on Jerusalem, not on settlements, not on water rights, nothing. They are in the position of total control and they are not about to hand a thing to their opponents.


As for Palestinian leadership, I think Arafat was terrible in many ways, but at least he fought for the Palestinians. We see exactly what happened the minute he and his guns left Lebanon - Shabra and Shatilla. Sharon's final solution to the Palestinian problem. And this is the man we are expected to believe the Palestinians could have allied themsleves with in good faith, and improved their lot thus?


The greatest disservice he did was allow himself and his corrupt PLO to become a tool of the Israeli state by coming back to represent the West Bank and Gaza in negotiations. The Palestinians would have done much better with the local leaders they had then. It's not for no reason the Israeli state chose to allow Arafat back from Tunis.


And Hamas? Sure they are violent. How else would you run a giant million person prison camp of people with no hope and no future, most under 25, all the while guarding against infiltration adn treachery from an enemy that surrounds and enseiges you. They can hardly bring people to court or investigate crimes in detail with forensics and the like since the Israeli army keeps dropping bombs on every piece of infrastucture in their little hell-hole. No prisons, no courts, no labs, no power stations and no sewage treatment. What they provide is just what you say they do not - practical leadership. That they survive as an entity at all is little short of a miracle.


That we all wring our hands over 3 Israeli children killed but shrug our shoulders at the Israeli response, delivered from 30,000ft, can only be explained by accepting that we view Palestinian children as being less than human. 


And the other Arabs hate the Palestinians too do they? Well, there you go. So what? Lebanon took them in by the million and it destroyed their country. Jordan manages to house and clothe and feed them without lokking them into 10 square killometers and letting no one in or out, Egypt tried to help them before the paymasters cracked the whip and the Muslim Brotherhood was chased out of power. Perhaps if they had their own  viable state tehy might not have to tramp themselves around the arab world getting abuse from left and right..

Perhaps. But my cocktail is constructed with real ingredients.


Not whinging, oft-repeated litanies from either side.  And contact with real Palestinians, who came to Lebanon.  And while I was there, Fatah terrorised those refugees within an inch of their lives.  The Palestinians might as well have disappeared, so wretched is their leadership.  Either it's the corrupt regime of Abu Mazen or the blank, religious nihilism of Hamas.  When the Palestinians tried negotiation, their leaders were driven out of Gaza by Hamas.


Surrender?  When the Palestinians abandon the persecution of their own, then we may talk about some united entity capable of standing up to Israel's bad faith efforts.  The Palestinians have no faith in their own leadership and with excellent reason.  Yasser Arafat was more of a menace to his own people - his execrably corrupt family, especially his wife Suha, lived in luxury in Paris while Palestinian children lived worse than animals in a badly run zoo, my sympathy for the Palestinians is based on drinking Lebanese water, purified by American water purifiers may I add in passing.  How many Palestinians do you know?  How good is your Arabic?


Sabra and Chatilla were the work of Elie Hobeika's Phalange, who had excellent reasons to hate the PLO, who massacred Hobeika's family in 1976.  These things do not happen in isolation.  More history, less propaganda, nyoos - you'll live a happier life. 

Karatina preceeded Damour.


It is all tat for tit and kicked off by the failure to settle the Palestinian civil war that birthed the state of Israel.


I don't speak Arabic - aside from knowing how to write the numbers (useful when shopping) and having taken a few lessons years ago. I have no Palestinian friends. A few Labanese Druze. 


The point I wanted to make is about a large and powerful section of Israel's intentions towards the Palestinians. These people are realists. They want the land and do not want to have to deal with the people. 


In 1977 when the Israelis took control of shabra and chatilla they had negotiated the surrender of the PLO. The PLO had left Lebanon ina  carefully coriagraphed military exit, leaving behind old men, children and women in the camps. 


So what did the Israeli army do with these defensless people? They sealed off the camps and then imported Phallangist millitias (who as you say had had family masacred by the palestinians and had also themselves already comitted massacres) and sent them into the camps. Sharon famously declared that there were still some terrorist elements there. They kept the camps sealed for 3 days while the militias went about murdering the inhabitants. The bodies were bulldozered into mass graves. No one really knows how many but may 1000 maybe 3000. 


This is what Sharon did when he could. And we should expect the Palestinians to be able to work with him somehow, if only they would?

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth... how did Gandhi


put it?  Soon all the world will be blind and toothless?  Do not bandy words like Conspiracy and Civil War about, not with me.  The reality is far more ugly:  centuries of madness and gruelling gang warfare.  The Palestinians have been at open warfare with everyone since Arafat became a warlord and a bank robber to boot.  Nobody in that situation is a realist - not Israel, not the Phalange, not Hizb'allah, not the Lebanese Army, nobody's a realist.  They're all prisoners inside a jail they built for themselves and they have locked the cells from the inside.


Truth is, I expect nobody to work with anyone.  I expect nothing.  I do understand the nature of power, that is my one advantage.  Weeping over these wretched, self-destructive Palestinians will not put one piece of bread in their mouths nor return one square millimeter of land to them.  The Palestinians must either learn to cooperate, and that first with each other - then and only then will they ever be able to project any force, military, ethical or political force in that situation at large.  

Corrupt leadership is not an excuse/reason for expropriation

mmghosh's picture

of people. 


Even inefficiency/laziness/supposed murderousness/infighting/inability to be an European democracy is not an excuse/reason.

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

That is true. It is merely the cause.


Let's get this straight.  The Palestinians have been treated like dirt - by everyone.  The question remains:  how do the Palestinians get out of their current predicament?  All these goddamn Do Gooders seem certain it lies within Israel's power to stop all this and things will go swimmingly, reason will triumph and the birdies will sing in the fruit-covered trees when Israel, wicked old Israel, does everything.  The Palestinians, poor things, can seemingly do nothing for themselves.


Dream on.  Who now is treating the Palestinians like autistic children?  It's high time some folks faced facts and quit making excuses for the Palestinians.  The greatest threat facing the Palestinians is other Palestinians.  


The Palestinians, should they be led by someone capable of representing them properly, would have the power within themselves to push back against Israel.  They do not and will not while Hamas and the PA fail to provide leadership.  

I agree with you on the fundamental question.


How do they get out of this trap.


But when I look at the situation I see that Israel holds all the cards. They have complete power. The Palestinians have nothing to negotiate with. The Israelis can not compromise in any meaningful way because it is politically impossible. 


The only way this will change is if there is a new balance of power. I think that can only come from global sanctions as with South Africa or US pressure (though perhaps that too is politically impossible.


Sadly, regardless of what happens the end game is unlikely to be good. The abuse heaped on the Palestinians throught he decades doesn't give me much hope for their chances. If they do get a state I suppose it will probably follow South Africa on its slide down the Zimbabwe road.

The Palestinians are not powerless.


They are divided amongst themselves, ruled by warlords and religious zealots.  Were they to unite, they would certainly be able to project enough force in that situation, especially political force.  In the absence of that, may I strongly advise everyone who wants to feel bad about the Palestinians and weep and moan over their plight - to first determine how this situation came into being.  

Israel has to stop building settlements. Why does that need

mmghosh's picture

negotiations with a competent Palestinian authority?  Is this a bilateral issue?

The greatest threat facing the Palestinians is other Palestinians

AFAIK, it is not Palestinians building settlements and appropriating water resources from other Palestinians.  You will have to show me where this is happening. 

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

Flowerpot diplomacy will not stop the settlement building.


Only power can stop power.  The Palestinians seem to prefer bullying other Palestinians instead of sending in armed policemen to stop the settlements and the road building.  Do not mistake my allegiances here, they are to the cause of the Palestinians.  The cowardly murders of settlers never stopped one bulldozer.  All it ever did was bring down the wrath of Israel.  But a formation of Palestinian police officers walking in, demanding to see a building permit and dynamiting a bulldozer or two just might bring that sort of thing to a stop.

Do you think that that is a viable option for them?


I rather think that those policemen would be called terrorists and shot on the spot. If not by the settlers then by the IDF.


Do not forget after all that these settlements, or many of them at least, are officially sanctioned by the Israeli government.  The illegal ones usually get post-facto recognition. 


Only power can stop power. The Israelis have all the power in this relationship.

I do believe it is a viable option.


And no, I don't believe they'd be called terrorists.  Israel must be shamed into stopping the settlement building.  Shooting PA policemen demanding a building permit issued by the PA government - would put the lie to all of Israel's hypocritical lip service to the PA's authority.  

"Israel must be shamed into stopping the settlement building"

mmghosh's picture

That is an interesting notion.  


IIRC, Ms Rachel Corrie's death produced near-universal derision.  From tacitus, especially, before he went all Malaysian.

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

That which they mock, they also fear.


Israel can be shamed.  It is the signal weak point of any democracy, that its pride is made vulnerable when it extends its fist.  

I agree shaming happens all the time in democracies

mmghosh's picture

and significant policy changes from shaming are expected in advanced democracies.


Its probably why advanced democracies are advanced.

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

Shaming is the only technique proven to work.


The aforementioned Disgusting Sideshow is purpose-built to keep folks from talking about the fundamentals.  Push home the point, it's there to make.  The organisation of violence has been very bad and seems to be getting worse.  But let history show the organisation of purposeful, non-violent resistance has been little better, often worse.  As Thoreau observed, once people are willing to cross the line and break unjust laws, the prisons become the last refuge of honest men.

I have a hard time believing anyone can be shamed

mmghosh's picture

into social and political change. See how far it got Mr Rabin

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

I have a harder time believe anything else works.


It is the hallmark of evil, Manish, that the good man has no excuse for his behaviour, nor needs one, nor, when confronted, does the good man have much to say to his accusers.  But let the whole of human history show evil is constantly and necessarily justifying itself.  The more reasons, the worse the cause.


Mark Twain:  Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.

Pressure from the US on Israel not to build settlements

mmghosh's picture

might be somewhere practical to start.


Why is shaming even necessary for this?  Quite apart from the fact that the Israeli settlers aren't ashamed of anything at all.  They have won land after a war.  Why should they, according to their lights, not exploit a victory to expropriate interlopers that their God has given to them according to their Holy Book?  I do not think shaming is relevant to this situation at all.  


In a sense this is somewhat analogous to the situation with slavery in the USA.  The confederate states were not ashamed about keeping slaves - in many documents I have read this was merely a confirmation of the natural order.  I read similar arguments about the caste system and outcastes here - where there is no shame in keeping outcastes in poverty and exploiting them for menial jobs; as above, it is a confirmation of the natural order. Similarly with patriarchy, apartheid and other situations - legislation, if necessary backed by force is what works, and worked, rather than shaming.

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

Are you asking America to exert pressure on another nation


to stop doing something you don't like?   Really?  

Its been known to happen occasionally. nt

mmghosh's picture


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

Ah, but this time, you're suggesting it. That is a novelty.


It's always America's fault.  If we do anything, if we don't do anything - Americans may always rely upon its critics to tell us what to do - say - why not have India tell Israel what to do?

Um, yes, because the building of settlements is being supported

mmghosh's picture

by default in any case.  Especially since shaming is coming up in the conversation.


I believe our various administrations are in general in support of the Palestinians people's aspirations and have, in fact, voted in favour of the many UN resolutions criticising the spread of settlements.  


Its flattering for our diplomats to think that their influence on Israel is equivalent to the USA's, but I'm not sure that that is reality.

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

"Is being supported by default in any case"


Well that takes the cake.  The USA tells Israel not to build settlements, Kerry condemns them.  But that doesn't matter.  Facts don't matter.  It's Blame America First. 


The reason I suggest India might try is because America has tried - and failed.  Maybe you lot can manage to convince them.  I'm sure you'll point out the USA also gives military aid to Israel.  We give the same to Egypt too, that's from Camp David, we pay these bastards not to fight each other.   Well, here's my advice:  India, pay the Israelis and Palestinians not to fight.  Mere words won't work, eye rolling won't work, shaming does work but the Palestinians would have to confine themselves to meaningful protest for that to work - and they don't - because they're too angry to make sense, they won't.  Step in with some of that ancient ahimsa schtick, let's see a major push from a non-aligned nation for Middle East peace.

Well, most countries have condemned the settlement building.

mmghosh's picture

Your original point was about shaming - I can't see that going against most nation's POV on this matter has produced much shame in the settlement builders.

As the USA has historically been the largest aid partner of Israel since its founding, even though I believe about 75% of this did has to be specifically used to purchase US goods and services, it might have been possible to use this aid as a meaningful lever.

You put it well when you suggest disparagingly that appeals to conscience, or Ahimsa "shtick" is unlikely to work.

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

I pointed out where that aid arises, from Camp David agreements.


Nobody seems as concerned about our aid to Egypt, which emerged from that same agreement, which really did buy peace since the era of President Carter.  Are you seriously proposing the USA shut down those agreements?   Or our aid to the Palestinian Authority?  It's been US money which built everything they've got.


No, I grow tired of the same old crap about the US role in the Middle East.  When we do something, we're damned by the Sofa Sophists.  When we don't, we're damned by the same crowd -- oh America ought to DOOOO SOMETHING -- you're the big power in the world, you ought to act -- it's a lot of fun for the Sofa Sophists.   Shaming Uncle Sam works, you see. 


But the role of the Palestinians, not a word.  Aid for them, meaningful political guidance, statecraft, the Sofa Sophists are useless.  Asked why they don't do anything, they shrug their shoulders and say it's up to America.  In that case, I strongly advise them all to Shut Up.  They do nothing useful and say nothing useful.

India doesn't help fund the state of Israel quite like the US

brutusettu's picture


This is true. And nobody pays more for refugee support


than the USA.  Furthermore, we've paid large sums to train the Palestinian Authority. It's not like we haven't thrown money at both sides to stop.  It hasn't worked. 

That is also aid to Israel



I'm not convinced non violence is possible.


Nevermind for a minute that they should not have to risk their lives to get justice; the populations are small enough, the areas well enough segregated and split up and violent repression tolerated by the international community. I don't think it would be practicable to even assemble people for a march, never mind complete it.


Te Brits faced a huge population in India, and relied heavily on them to make the place work. That is not true of Israel.

You're certainly not alone in that opinion. I agree.


Force is fundamentally a physics problem.  The Newton is a unit of acceleration.  Unless a force can overcome inertia, it accomplishes nothing.  The political newton effects a change.  All that blether about how war is politics by other means - all nonsense.  It is all war: the application of force to political inertia.  


As I've said before, power concedes nothing without a demand backed by force.  First the backing force must be credible, then cometh the demand, in that order.  We might hope the demand would be in accordance with the fundamental rights of man but I've also said men would rather die than think - and usually do.  That's old Bertrand Russell, but people will risk their lives for stupid causes as well as wise ones, usually choosing the stupid causes, adding more entries to the Litany of Grievance, the main display in the Disgusting Sideshow.


Israel and the Palestinians cannot get rid of each other entirely.  The harder Israel and the Palestinians strike each other, the more determined becomes their resistance.  Things are long past the Talking Stage and everyone who pushes these maniacs to the Peace Table is a Do Gooder Idiot.  Neither side is ready for peace, for neither fears the other enough.  Perversely, things must get far worse before they can get any better.  


The Roman Republic understood this better than anyone:  they were masters of political warfare.  Always carrots and sticks with them:  accept our domination and we will build you cities and roads and give you membership in a greater thing than yourselves and your wretched warlord kings.  Oppose us and we will obliterate and enslave you.  The Roman Empire was a different thing entirely:   it depended on slavery and therefore violence.  But Hadrian understood the limits of violence.  He knew the Empire was already a fragile thing, that inexorable forces were at work, even larger than his enormous powers.  He transitioned the Empire from a rapacious engine of slavery to a wiser, fairer thing, changing from an offensive to a defensive posture.   This is all very simplistic, to the point of wrongness - but it bears mentioning, for Rome began as an oppressed state in the shadow of the Etruscans.  The Romans understood peace was only maintained by the power to control, armed with both carrots and sticks.


Israel began in an orgy of violence.  The Arab counter-attacks were met with more violence.  Nothing is to be gained by examining history:  we have history enough to demonstrate how such problems are solved - with force.  Peace is an illusion, like happiness, not perceived at the time, only in retrospect, when the moment has passed.  When all the illusions of peace are pulled away, war is seen for what it truly is, mankind's natural state.  Evolution only favours those who adapt.  

Wow just wow


the response this comment deserves would be a PRV so I'll just note that the settlers are not only heavily armed themselves any organized Palestinian effort to interfere with them would be met with a crushing response by the Israeli military.

PRV-ish in extremis.


The Palestinians have never been united in their opposition to the settlements, except to decry the process and wring their hands - and murder settlers.  If they're going to save their land, and they really must, by my lights, it starts with the bulldozers.  All these Weeping Willies, attempting to excuse the inexcusable on both sides of this issue - if you believe Israel steals land, as I do, then the only viable technique is to oppose that theft by force, as the police say, "211 in progress"

It Would Certainly Make Matters Clear

M Scott Eiland's picture

Engaging in terrorism (including targeting Americans at times over the past forty years) and being seen cheering every time Israelis or Americans are murdered by other terrorists certainly hasn't helped the Palestinians' fortunes. If Palestinians concentrated on defending land they already hold (either by force or by nonviolent resistance), the bad PR would be all on the Israel end. Tom Clancy was saying this twenty years ago in "The Sum of All Fears": "The Palestinians just figured out how to destroy Israel." The real-life Palestinians and their cheerleaders aren't anywhere near as smart.

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

Channelling Marcus Aurelius by way of Hannibal Lecter


"This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance and material? And what its causal nature [or form]? And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it subsist?"


The Thing is the land and the water.  That's everything of consequence.  The rest is immaterial blather.  Politics, religion, it's all a disgusting sideshow.


The Palestinians have made their beds very hard, as you point out.  But that, too, is immaterial:  they have been pushed off their land.  No amount of rationalising or blaming the victim or even blaming the aggressor will substitute for the fundamentals of power.  All involved parties participate in the aforementioned Disgusting Sideshow - none of them seem ready or willing to deal with the fundamentals.  Flowerpot diplomacy I call it, a bunch of people in an air conditioned room with a flowerpot in the middle and two dozen bottles of water - is no substitute for survey teams and plats and resolving who owns the land.


Same problem here in the USA: look at our shabby treatment of the native peoples.  We concluded all those treaties, broke every one of them.  The USA can't force these people to abandon the Disgusting Sideshow - Israel depends on it, Hamas depends on it, PA depends on it - the sickening litany of horrors and demonisation of each other.  Can't make 'em stop.  Don't even know why we try.



Good comment title


I award you the #1 Comment Title of the Day.

I have been told I sound like Hannibal Lecter


and that more than once.

You should never believe what people say


on dating sites. 


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

Online, people are known from the inside out.


The usual face to face shuck-'n-jive is worthless.  People's delusions about themselves are damned near endless, never more so than in person.  Met my g/f online.  We've been together more than four years now.  Want to really know someone?  Read what they write.  If they can't write, they're incapable of conversation, too.

So wait a minute, there's a written exam for dating BlaiseP?


I find that verbal and written skills are quite different. For instance I can write pretty well, but I'm often terrible at conversation. (Conversation requires a good memory; mine sucks.)

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

You know that bit from Prairie Home Companion


where Keillor shills for Powdermilk Biscuits?  "gives shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done."  Shy persons - or people who are self-described as Terrible at Conversation - are always at their best in writing, where they can consider their words carefully ere they press the ol' Submit Button.  Rather like what I always say about musicians, "everyone can carry a tune but surprisingly few can unload it effectively."


And some introverted folks are at their best when they're under no pressure to say anything.  I still prefer email to any other form of conversation.  Doesn't go stale in the can.  You can pick up a conversation after any length of time.


What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend.


Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  Luke 6:45.  But for me, writing is always a truer form of speech than all that silly do-si-do dancing-about in person.  In person, you're always under some pressure to do that Salesman Thing, trying to find something in common with someone else.  I've done it all my life, doing my own sales pitches.  I'm told I'm pretty good at it.  


But it's just mechanical,  striking up conversations is always easy - if you want to humour someone else's vanity.  For years, I used to hang out in bars on the road, reading a book, nice enough places.  Kinda sad, watching all these morose people.  Once I reach out to them, most of them will talk my ear off.  They're lonely but just don't know how to have a conversation.  I blame part of it on television:  conversation has become a lost art.


Still, for all that, conversation never goes as deep as writing.  I mean, I don't want to know all the personal details of anyone's life.  But I sense more is said in text than could ever be conveyed in speech.  We're always on our guard in speech.  In writing, the cadence is different, somehow.  



Inability to form a "political party" should not be a reason

mmghosh's picture

for either victimisation, or expropriation, or even exploitation.  So what if the Palestinian people are all the things that the Israelis, or indeed other neighbouring peoples make them out to be - lazy, shiftless, unprincipled and murderous.  The Zionist movement knew all this about the local people when it went in to colonise a land that didn't really belong to them.


"Should not", i said, although all too often it is.  It is a common argument, made, for example, here, for the expropriation of native peoples from their land, as they are deemed to have neither the wit, or the enterprise or indeed the vigour to "exploit" the natural resources of their land as the "higher castes' or "higher people" are able to do.  And there are numeerous examples of this all over the world.  It seems to be in our DNA.


IMO, both internally and externally the vigour of a nation lies in how it treats its minorities and the less able.  Of course, we're now heavily into majoritarianism and not "pandering" to minorities.

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

Not a reason. A cause.


Power concedes nothing without a demand backed by force.  Those who will not form up political power in their own interests will forever be the victims of those who do.  So what if the Palestinians are all these things, you ask, as if they were incapable of exerting political will.  The Zionists only replaced the Ottomans and the British, as your own country knows all too well, emerging from under the Mughal and the British. 


If there is to be any justice in the world, it will be when nations are led by men of good will and not murderers and two-bit bank robbers such as Yasser Arafat or slimy, self-enriching nawabs like Abu Mazen.  They are holding the Palestinians as human hostages.  If the Palestinians suffer, and they do, those who decry the injustice meted out to them might start with their own leaders, which nobody ever does, preferring terms like Colonising.  Even in the colonial world, the system could not work without delegating the oppression of the local people to collaborators and zamindari.  Keep that in mind ere you use that word Colonialising again. 

"Not a reason. A cause."


"Power concedes nothing without a demand backed by force"

mmghosh's picture

so true.


Hence what we see.  I think that peace was certainly possible without the aggressive settlement building and resource-grabbing, the single largest reason for conflict.


It will not end well, especially as US military power, and its projection, wanes.

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

End? Do things "end" in the Middle East?


(shaking with horrid laughter) - oh Manish.  You know better than to say things ever End in the Middle East.

Listening To USA World Cup Coverage

M Scott Eiland's picture

A streaker got out onto the pitch a few minutes ago, and one of the announcers was wondering out loud why he hadn't "been taken out yet." Now, I'm a law and order type, but sniping streakers seems a tad harsh. Vuvuzela users, yeah--but streakers?

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

They Didn't Give Up After The Second Goal

M Scott Eiland's picture

Good for them. Congratulations to Belgium--who managed to beat the human equivalent of a adamantine wall today.

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

The Competed With Honor....They Never Stopped Working...


....even in defeat I felt proud of the USA team...and how they represented the country.


Best Wishes, Traveller

There Are A Bunch Of Fools. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .on Facebook and elsewhere who don't understand why Howard is being widely celebrated: "He gave up the goals that lost the game!" If Harvey Haddix had pitched his most famous game yesterday instead of in 1959, those buffoons would be going, "Stop cheering him--he lost!"

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

Everyone with a clue knows he's Man of the Match.


The others can kiss my ass.  USA did well, competed fair and square, 11 fouls to Belgium's 27, we did okay.  Howard's a hero.


M Scott Eiland's picture

Meanwhile, the second-guessing begins. I don't have the knowledge to take one side or another on this, but it seems to me the US team did about as well as could be expected, and that Klinsmann's hamhanded behavior in the Landon Donovan matter ultimately made no real difference.

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

There is no disgrace in being crushed


beneath the mighty wheels of a titan such as Belgium.

The US has over 7 states with more people than Belgium

brutusettu's picture

Just wait until some more John Stockton or DeSean Jackson or LeBron James types pick up soccer instead of basketball or football.  LeBron as a keeper, Howard might not have a spot on the pitch.

Talent Pops Up In Unexpected Places

M Scott Eiland's picture

Consider, for one example: San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, a city of less than 200,000 people which has been the hometown of 76 major league players.

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

Heroic Effort By Howard. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .but things are looking grim.

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

Time of possession for USA looks horrid


and shots on goal is not encouraging....

Wasn't Great Against Ghana, Either

M Scott Eiland's picture

In a low-scoring game, it's a matter of taking advantage of the few opportunities you get, and Belgium hasn't been able to exploit their edge.

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

Watching Univision, the announcers barely noticed it,


saying something about "seeking attention", and stayed focused on the match. The camera did not cut to a closeup on the streaker. Which seems like the right way to handle pointless stunts like that.

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

...crazy ain't limited to south of the Mason-Dixon Line.


Here's the governor of Maine - Tea Party loon, natch - discussing executing a few Democrats with some fine upstanding domestic terrorist types.

Erwin Chemerinsky on Hobby Lobby


Chemerinsky says it's a very broad ruling:


the Supreme Court's decision is the broadest in American history in providing corporations the ability to claim an exemption to a law based on the religious beliefs of their owners.


...what of employers who have a religious belief that women with children should not work outside their homes, or businesses that claim a religious basis for sexual-orientation discrimination? ...


Never before has the Supreme Court found a substantial burden on a person's religious exercise where the individual is not himself required to take or forgo action that violates his or her religious beliefs but is merely required to take action that might enable other people to do things that are at odds with the person's religious beliefs.

The dump trucks are arriving, full of sand and hammers


to pound that sand up the back doors of GOP politicians.  Ginsburg's dissent has now become a song, gone viral, as I suppose everyone knows by now.


What's the GOP to do, catchy?  It's so delicious. That sand is on its way, being mined just down the road from me.  Fracking the Republicans, they'll call it.  You can't imagine how much gas they'll get out of those guys.  Precious moments.   

Bryce Harper Returns. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .and the hordes of endlessly stupid Harper bashers are quick to re-surface. Thomas Boswell is the DC version of Bill Plaschke, only with longer paragraphs.

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

Jason Kidd Goes Insane, Milwaukee Bucks Indulge Him

M Scott Eiland's picture

After the Nets decline to reward Jason Kidd for one mediocre season with increased power, the Bucks cough up *two* draft picks so Kidd can coach for them and apparently get other goodies. I heard someone on ESPN radio suggest, "Well, other teams clearly want him--he must have something going for him." Um, right. How did that theory work out for Lane Kiffin? Sure, he's working--but the guy is a national punchline and will be for the conceivable future. If Kidd flames out in Milwaukee, I see a Kiffinesque future for him.

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

After the firing of Larry Frank,


some weird benchings and now this weird story i'm starting to suspect that Kidd might be a little too conflict-prone (and full of himself) to be a steady sideline leader.

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

Is there a way of reading Hobby Lobby


that doesn't make it a special carve out for religious beliefs that 5 conservative justices are sympathetic to?


"This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs."


What else is the difference?

On reflection this passage looks equally compatible


with the SCOTUS majority simply saying they weren't ruling on issues not before the court, which isn't atypical.


They had to decide whether there was a substantial burden on a party's exercise of religion and whether a given law is the least restrictive means to further a government aim. That could vary depending on the case. 


Ginsberg might still be right though that the majority opened a can of worms.

Think about it: for any given law there are hundreds of


"less restrictive" ways Congress might have gone about implementing it. With ACA, for example, Congress could have eliminated employer-sponsored health plans to begin with, they could have made employers cover only emergency/critical/major medical while relegating the rest to subsidized private insurance. 


The "less restrictive" language in the law itself seems endlessly litigiable to me, and now the Court has opened the door. Alito's suggestion that because a flood of challenges hasn't yet emerged, it therefore isn't likely to emerge, is typically bass-ackwards and poorly thought out. As if a major court ruling doesn't offer a shining path towards exemption for thousands of companies. We've seen a lot of similar reasoning from this court's conservative bloc. 

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

The difference


is that it wasn't a constitutional case,  so it doesn't have to stick.  Congress can change this one with an ordinary bill.


The carve out was based on the RFRA,  and apparently Congress chose to use the word "compelling",  e.g.  there's a carve out unless the need to enforce is compelling.  


I realize many believe federal control of private medical decisions is compelling,  but unfortunately Congress put in many other exemptions to the contraceptive mandate in the ACA, for example,  small businesses.   Why is denying this exemption much more compelling than (for example) denying the exemption to small businesses?


Also,  the legal definition of compelling means unavoidable.  If the goal is to ensure access to contraceptives,  there are many less intrusive ways available.  Examples: (a) the government could simply give them to affected women,  (b) reduce the tax exemption by an appropriate amount and use the recovered money to buy contraceptives,  etc.


Of course if the goal was to make a point about religious conservative's attitude toward birth control,  then this method would be compelling.  But the government chose not to present that as their goal.


Anyway,  the RFRA was originally intended to let a particular religion smoke peyote.   Eliminating intoxicating plants (according to the government) is so compelling that it justifies raids where flash grenades are thrown into babies' cribs,  use of military techniques and equipment to make arrests, etc for the rest of the population.   RFRA says that even a SWAT team prepared and authorized to conduct potentially lethal raids against ordinary citizens has to back off and let them go if there's a religious exemption.


If that's the RFRA standard,  I can't see how some minor detail about health insurance in a subset of employers could survive.


But anyway,  there are easy fixes,  if one believes a fix is needed:

- take out the word compelling and replace with a word that doesn't have a strict, established meaning.

- amend the RFRA to state that it doesn't apply to ACA

- amend the ACA to state that it isn't affected by RFRA




- amend the RFRA to state that it doesn't apply to ACA
- amend the ACA to state that it isn't affected by RFRA

and that''ll get by the Republicans in the house.



In fairness, that's not SCOTUS's problem


and Democratic politicians bear some responsibility here in having overwhelmingly supported the over-broad RFRA.

But to get back to the original point


what odds do you give that Republicans in Congress would allow a fix to be implemented?

I give odds of zero


but don't see the relevance when evaluating whether SCOTUS ruled as it should've.

5 Men Who Never Have to Worry About Getting Pregnant...


...or worry much about birth control at all if they don't want to, (them being men and having only penises n` all), again have made binding decisions affecting Vaginas, where all three women on the Supreme Court voted against.


This should tell you something...




M Scott Eiland's picture

It makes it hard to take seriously all the "OMG THIS IS A HORRIBLE BURDEN ON WOMEN EVERYWHERE" shrieking when any number of similar exceptions were made already without all the garment rending. The reaction is all about trying to gin up Democratic votes in November, and deserves to be treated accordingly.

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

"Shrieking" - I forgot about that one


there's actual issues of concern here if a male majority on the nation's highest court can't help privileging its favored religious sects and can't seem to understand basic facts about abortifacents birth control.


The exceptions you mentioned, by the way, were challenged by many, and i think you might appreciate why they're more acceptably applied to non-profit religious educational and health organizations than to for-profit chains of craft stores.

Not My Fundamental Concern


My fundamental concern is that this leaves open the possibility of all kinds of challenges and exceptions by corporations of any size which don't like one law or another. Religion provides a vast scope of argument. It could lead to a mess and probably will.


Corporations, being legally-defined entities and hence a form of government entitlement, should not enjoy religious protection.

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.

Where Ginsberg agrees and disagrees


Religious organizations that are incorporated are different from for-profit corporations:


"Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."


Where she agrees:


* "Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision."

* "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."

* "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

If a corporation was formed to perform a religious function


and to advance a particular religious viewpoint, then religious protections are a grey area. 


What's hard to swallow is that a corporation formed to make money off of crafts products should be allowed to ignore a law solely b/c its owners say it conflicts with their "sincerely held religious beliefs".

HL's position on their "sincerely held religious beliefs"

brutusettu's picture

has strong evidence that HL's lawsuit is absurd on its face.


There's no way that in June SCOTUS knew of this information that was out there before April 1st. Any other claims to otherwise have to be not true.



The least SCOTUS could've done


in recognition that they've opened up a can of worms re: religious-based exemptions, is to have a high standard of proof for the "sincere beliefs" of corporate conscientious objectors, akin to say conscientious objectors to military service.


Instead SCOTUS simply accepted Hobby Lobby's owners' assertions, owners who ran a company that offered insurance plans with birth control coverage prior to Obamacare, and who today invest in contraceptive-producing companies:


"[T]he Hahns and Greens and their companies sincerely believe that providing the insurance coverage demanded by the HHS regulations lies on the forbidden side of the line, and it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.”


(I love "their companies sincerely believe ...")


Imagine if a supposed pacifist conscientious objector were regularly photographed getting into fist fights on weekends.

OK, that was a silly criticism


Both sides in the case stipulated to the sincerely held religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby's owners, so it's unreasonable to criticize the conservative majority for not inventing an argument of its own.


I do wish the point had been pressed by the lawyers arguing against Hobby Lobby.

Thing is, that can of worms was long since opened.


Look at the Amish, their kids don't have to go to school.  Or the JWs with their transfusion issues.  Read the case.  A Martian would say SCOTUS correctly decided this case, if all the Little Green Guy had to work with was the case law and all those exemptions.  


The problem, it seems to me, is not the sincerity of the beliefs or conversely, their hypocrisy, but the nature of the believer:  the distinction between privately-held corporations and all others is crazy talk.  Watch a corp go bankrupt, it's not its owners then.  A corporation doesn't go to church.  A corporation doesn't get pregnant.  No, once that BK is filed, those owners are mighty glad to hit the ejection seat and sit under that parachute, watching that corporation auger in, with all the employees on board.

I strongly encourage you and all Republicans


to pursue this approach. You might even try saying stuff like "there there ladies, go back to the kitchen and don't worry your pretty little heads about these things". That should work just about as well.

Posting Rules

M Scott Eiland's picture

For the "you" part. Next one of those will be a yellow.

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

Posting rules


for abusing your position as a moderator (and not the first time). Ruling from the others requested.

OK, here's a *sort of* ruling

Jay C's picture

Weak tea as far as "PRV's" go - the use of "you" in comments is, IMO, a more-or-less normal usage on blogs like ours, and part of more-or-less normal discourse: absent direct insults or obvious personal abuse, I think generalities like Floater's no. 320762 don't quite measure up. That said though,  ascribing specific ideas to other posters ( a la "there, there ladies...") without other supporting evidence skates a bit closer to the edge. Notice should be taken.

That's Their Decision. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .but pointing out that inserting a "you" directed at a Forvmite in a phrase that could have communicated the same information without it is a PRV is about as slam-dunk a call as there is.

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

Except when the you


simply reiterates what you were already doing. For example a phrase like "You are an excellent writer" is an expression I've directed towards you in the past. You didn't claim a PRV for that. Likewise if I said Bird Dog you have a son who is a good wrestler he wouldn't claim that as a PRV since he posted about his sons wrestling here. Now I agree if I said "You MSE are a jerk" that would be a PRV. But all I said was keep up with your current approach.



Under this decision, an Islamic business could close the company cafeteria during the day in Ramadan. In fact it could even eliminate the lunch break altogether.


I am not sure how the government could meet the compelling standard in order to prevent this.


There are plenty of other examples well short of blood transfusion.


The Pandora's Box here stems from the notion that companies are people. Once you accept that, you quickly make a mockery of the legal system, as this court is doing.

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.



A privately owned cafeteria could choose its own hours to be open?  It's unconscionable that a restaurant might be closed when I want to eat.  And maybe they're Muslims?  Shariaaaaaaa!


Seriously,  MA.  Do you expect me to be scared about this?

Why doesn't any of that also apply to blood transfusions, etc.?


The question is whether SCOTUS can consistently maintain a narrow scope ruling when parity of reasoning suggests it should apply to vaccinations, transfusions, scientologists denying coverage for mental health etc. 

I read it in this wise: The GOP has become the Penis Party.


It will be ever-harder to find a Republican woman.  In one fell swoop, the Conservatives have just lost any appeal they ever had to women.

Or. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .once the tantrums subside, someone will notice what even the gang of Obama cheerleaders over at Vox has noticed--there's an easy workaround for this that is based on the accomodation that was already made for religious groups, pointed to by the language in the opinion by the perpetually despised Samuel Alito. So much for THE HORRIBLE WAR AGAINST WOMEN (TM). Watching the usual idiots elsewhere online hysterically overreach on this should be fun, though.

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

Sweet dreams are made of this.


Who am I to disagree?


You're whistling past the graveyard.  The tantrums aren't going to subside.  The GOP drove out the moderates, now they're driving out fertile women.  Who's left?  The wheelchair brigade, that's who.  Calling these people idiots might make some people feel better about all this but idiocy has never been an impediment to voting.  I can think of five cases in point, right this minute.


Workarounds, smirkarounds.  Alito has proposed a dumb solution, requiring extra legwork for women.  That will translate into legwork come voting day, mark my words.  Until this case was decided, I thought the GOP had a small chance to gain traction with women - minorities, not a chance, but with women, maybe.  Now I declare they've alienated even conservative women.  The Democrats will have a field day with this one.

The figures I've seen


are that 98% of US women who are or have been sexually active have used birth control at one point or another. So mockery and insults as a response to their concerns is probably not the best way to reach them.

Which Might Be Relevant. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .if Republicans were trying to get Griswold v. Connecticut reversed. Since they're not, the invocation of "98%" in support of the far-narrower proposition at issue here--which at the very least a substantial minority of women are *not* in support of-- is laughable enough to cause me to wonder if those invoking it elsewhere poop on the hood of police cars before doing so, like the last crowd who invoked similar percentages.

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

That supposes, as others note, the GOP isn't trying


to reverse Griswold - which they are.  

Republican politicians have been artlessly dodging the Griswold question for some time, not because they don’t know what they would actually do in office—namely, nothing that would greatly affect the availability of contraception—but for the reason Barnett suggests: the right’s ideological jail-keepers would punish the heresy. They don’t demand that a candidate commit suicide by actively campaigning against Griswold or contraception, but a candidate who too plainly and forcefully commits to an abstract position that validates Griswold would risk a rebellion on his right. There’s more at stake in the theory than just where prophylactics may be sold: a jurisprudential house of cards would come fluttering down if “judicial conservatism” were openly defied; what’s more, behind Griswold is an idea of individual autonomy basic to liberals and libertarians (like Barnett) alike but anathema to many conservatives.

Actually. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .that paragraph states very specifically that GOP politicians are not trying and will not try to reverse Griswold--it also simply remarks that Griswold is a rather unpopular piece of jurisprudence because of the decisions that followed from it, such as Roe,* and that therefore saying nice things about Griswold will not endear one to pro-lifers. I fully agree with the outcome of Griswold, and happen to think that privacy is a more than adequate ground specifically for the government not interfering with contraception, but the recourse to "penumbras and emanations" in the language is eminently mockworthy.

*--I completely agreed with the outcome of Roe, but "privacy" was an uncommonly silly ground to base the right of abortion on, and one which necessitated the extremely inflammatory supporting finding that a fetus is not a human being in the sense meant by the Fourteenth Amendment.

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

What does "artlessly dodging" mean?


We all know the GOP politicians, deep down, don't care all that much about the abortion issue and every intelligent person rolls his eyes at the contraception issue.  But that para was written some while back, Nov 2013, before Burwell, which I believe to be the GOP's Waterloo Moment. 


For years, we've heard sneers from the GOP about Activist Courts, the snarling about "penumbras and emanations", a phrase which first appears in Griswold, used to damn the Liberals.  Strict construction!  Stare decisis!  The Fundies like that sort of talk.  They want to repeal Roe and it would start by undermining Griswold.  Even a rank legal amachoor like me can work that out.


Either the GOP deals with its ISIS Crisis and evicts the Moral Majoriturds or the crocodiles will feed heartily.  It's just that simple and Burwell has brought it to a head.  Might not be too late, for all that.  The last few elections have shown the Conservatives are capable of beating down the Tea Parties - at great expense, to be sure - but the Fundies are becoming too much of a liability.  Look at how they stank up the debate about same sex marriage.  Honest conservatives couldn't give a damn about what two consenting persons do behind a closed door.  On issue after issue, the GOP has allowed itself to be badly embarrassed by what can only be described as Camels in the Tent. 


Can the GOP get 'em out in time to save themselves?   Depends how quickly they act.  They have the time.  But do they have the will?

Griswold Is A Silly Place To Attack Roe Through

M Scott Eiland's picture

It's like trying to knock down a house of cards on the top of the Empire State Building by taking a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of said skyscraper--or being one of those guys who beats Skyrim solely by punching everyone in the face.. Roe only survives because it has powerful political protectors and most people agree with the general result--the actual legal reasoning within it is something that a first year law student should be embarrassed to call their own. The way to attack Roe is the actual method that the states opposing abortion have used--fire laws at it and see what the Supremes will uphold. Griswold is as sound as Clayton Kershaw's left arm--silly language aside--because it makes sense that preventing conception before it happens is something that should be private (and the invasion of privacy that would be needed to prevent it in the modern world is unthinkable, even in the age of "OMG, everyone is spying on us!"). Using it as a justification for preventing any regulation of the aftermath of conception is another matter altogether, which is why alternate grounds should have been used to reach the result in Roe.

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

You and I can talk like this, being fairly reasonable


people.  For my money, the current US constitution has begun to resemble the back of my bedroom door, with umpteen jackets and my bathrobe hanging from a few pegs.  Far too much depends on the 14th Amendment - and the Commerce Clause - the law which arises from this venerable old monster from 1789 is just unsuitable for us today.  The Fourth Amendment, which should be far more powerful, has sadly lapsed into irrelevance.


Griswold was correctly decided.  I don't understand your sneering at Douglas' opinion in Griswold.  He makes it clear enough:  the constitution gives no explicit protection to freedom of association, yet we derive that from the First Amendment.  Douglas turns his torch here and there down in the musty basement and shows us why the issue of privacy is so important, even from the silly old Third Amendment.  In a single sentence, he demolishes the rest of the case:  "We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights -- older than our political parties, older than our school system."


Roe survives because it emerges from Griswold.  Birth control pills do not work by preventing fertilisation.  They work by preventing fertilised eggs from implanting in the uterine wall.  Roe is a superfluous case once you understand the biology - and most of its opponents do not, any more than they understand human nature.  Griswold is under attack by the Fundies from many quarters:  they understand, if you do not, that it's the personal privacy issue which keeps them at bay. 

Well I'm Glad the European Court of Human Rights in the Hague


...understands the dangers of carving out narrow exceptions for Religious Reasons...(which are endless and infinite)


The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil - the niqab.

A case was brought by a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression.

French law says nobody can wear in a public space clothing intended to conceal the face. The penalty for doing so can be a 150-euro fine (£120; $205).

The 2010 law came in under former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The court ruled that the ban "was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face".


Can anyone bring themselves to say something good about Europe now?


Probably not...but I wonder which Court is held in higher esteem?





Best Wishes, Traveller

It's Fine As Long As It's Enforced Consistently

M Scott Eiland's picture

If it's used mostly or totally as a means for hassling Muslims, it's not a good thing.

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

France remains resolutely secular.


Over here in the USA, we've humoured all sorts of ratty little exceptions on religious grounds - that's about to end, shortly.  I predict a backlash against the Fundies, mostly for the same reasons the French have gotten a gut full of them.


The attack won't proceed from the same angle as Europe has gone after the Fundies, though.   Contrary to all his sweet talkin' back in the day, the Roberts Court has proven a disgracefully political entity.  That attack will not come from the courts. Here in the States, the attack will come in from a populist, legislative angle and will proceed on many fronts.  The GOP has its hairy ass hanging out the window and everyone's carefully zeroing their scopes, from the Tea Parties, who can't abide their corporate whoring, to the actual Conservatives, who see the ISIS Crisis for what it is, a rearguard action from the Moral Majority - to the Democrats, who can now say - somewhat unfairly may I add in passing - that the GOP is the Penis Party.  


Another reason why it won't come from the courts:  in the French courts, the Conseil Constitutionnel is not a Supreme Court, ready and willing to strike down legislation.  It supervises elections and is a review board for legislation.  The French saw the problem the USA had created with its Supreme Court and devised a radically improved version, dividing the courts.

Oh, please, Scott: we know you're not naive...

Jay C's picture

..or disingenuous, or even (for a change) just being snarky: but do you really believe Griswold v. CT is such a rock-solid, unassailable black-letter principle that it won't (or can't) be attacked - on one front or another - by the Fetus Fetish lobby, and its legislative whores allies? Who are probably only too willing to acquiesce to some ALEC-borne "initiative" to cut back support* for contraception per se, as long as there can is some "religious freedom" (scare-quotes deliberate) argument to base it on - and big bucks to be garnered from the politics of promoting it?


* whittled away bit by bit, local law by local law, just like Roe v. Wade

What's Old Is New Again

M Scott Eiland's picture

Here's an exchange I had with our departed (but not forgotten) brother Bill White eight years ago. He made the same argument that Griswold was vulnerable, but was unable to produce any evidence other than a few "scary religious people" quotes. He also failed to address my point that while there have been dozens of laws passed with the intent of lessening or eliminating abortions in recent years, there is no corresponding series--or any, really--of laws intended to attack the existence of contraception. So, not naive--just familiar with the law and history.

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

EIGHT years ago -- wow.

Jay C's picture

Reminds me how I "miss" Timmy's flailing attempts at deflection, and vinteuil's sniffy dismissals as  staples of our comment threads: Good times....


But anyway, while I hope that you're right re the (relative) legal unassailability of Griswold, I'm not sure that a complacent assurance that "it won't/can't happen" is necessarily a firm predictor of what might occur in the future. Especially as a couple of things have changed since 2006. First, the 2010 elections/redistricting/gerrymandering have resulted in far-more-solid Republican majorities in many "red" statehouses around the country: mainly states where "religious" arguments re public policy regarding sex stuff carry more weight than they might otherwise, and sex stuff, of course, is always going to "sell" as a handy legislative diversion. Secondly, since then, there has been a steady chipping-away at the availability of abortion: maybe not outright repeal of Roe v. Wade (much as the anti-abortion fanatics might like it), but a raft of procedural hurdles - waiting periods, "counseling", licensing requirements and the like - that have made it far more difficult* to terminate a pregnancy for any reason in large swaths of the US. That a similar process won't/can't be applied to contraception - or at least attempted - is, AFAIC, wishful thinking. Especially as many states  have already enacted "conscience exception" rules for the OTC sale of some forms of birth-control: I don't think it's just scare-mongering to imagine a concerted campaign to restrict the availability of contraception (particularly if the "abortifacient" boogeyman gets conjured up often enough) won't at least be attempted somewhere in The Heartland some time soon.



*except for the affluent, of course: this IS America, after all.

I'll Be Immodest Enough To Quote Myself Here

M Scott Eiland's picture

From the same thread:

There's no state in the country that would pass a law banning contraceptives--and if one did it would be held up in the state and federal courts long enough that the successors of the fools who passed it and got voted out of office would repeal it before the process was over. Breathlessly repeating paranoid NARAL propaganda just makes pro-choicers sound nuts--which has been one of the most useful political situations for the pro-life movement.

When as much as *one* law attempting to actually ban contraceptives as a whole (as opposed to demanding prescriptions for certain types or similar situations) passes a state legislature and is signed into law--as against the many laws purporting to ban or seriously restrict abortions on the state level that have been passed in the last forty one years only to (mostly) be struck down by the courts without ever having been enforced--I'll start viewing this as something other than a boogeyman.

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

Oh c'mon. Hobby Lobby proves this isn't a bogeyman.


HL and the Fundies won this round.  Let's not pretend they didn't.  They have well and truly kicked the hornets' nest but they gave it a good kick.  As for the state legislature, let's just try Texas on for size.

No, It Really Doesn't

M Scott Eiland's picture

Any more than the existence of the Hyde Amendment invalidates Roe. That's the real long term implication here--that the hardline pro-choicers won't be able to use Obamacare as leverage to force the acceptance of public funding of abortions. Contraception will go on without a hiccup, bi-gender left of center garment rending to the contrary aside.

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

C'mon. All these abortion clinics being shut down


and the window for legal abortions closing to a few weeks - Roe is being systematically overturned at a state level. 

All this legislative activity comes at a time when overall support for abortion rights in the United States has never been higher – in 2013, seven in 10 Americans said they supported upholding Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. But polls also show that more than half the country is open to placing some restrictions on abortion: Instead of trying to overturn Roe, which both sides see as politically unviable, they have been working instead to chip away at reproductive rights in a way that will render Roe's protections virtually irrelevant.


Since 2010, when the Tea Party-fueled GOP seized control of 11 state legislatures – bringing the total number of Republican-controlled states to 26 – conservative lawmakers in 30 states have passed 205 anti-abortion restrictions, more than in the previous decade. "What you're seeing is an underhanded strategy to essentially do by the back door what they can't do through the front," says Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is currently litigating against some of the new anti-choice laws. "The politicians and organizations advancing these policies know they can't come right out and say they're trying to effectively outlaw abortion, so instead, they come up with laws that are unnecessary, technical and hard to follow, which too often force clinics to close. Things have reached a very dangerous place."

"A Few Weeks" Is An Exaggeration. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .for any of the laws that will be upheld, and in the post-Gosnell era, the pro-choice hardliners have little ground to complain about regulations designed to keep abortion providers from doing their thing with half-@$$ed support for when things go wrong. They lied for years about the horror stories going on, and it empowered their enemies.

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

The maniacs sure have the megaphones on this one.


Tell me the plain truth, from your perspective:  why has abortion become such a big stumbling block for the Conservatives?  I say it's because the Fundies are being maniacs and sucking up all the oxygen in the room.  Doesn't seem like an especially Conservative position to me, but then, not being one (anymore) I don't have a proper perspective on this issue and would only be putting words in people's mouths.


This part I can understand: the Conservatives don't want government telling people they have to buy insurance.  Self-reliance, government can't legislate all our problems away - that I get.   But abortion is a medical thing, Conservatives ought to be against the government getting between physicians and patients - and by the same reasoning as before.


What's your take on it?

Because. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .pro-lifers (which I am not one of) believe that abortion is not simply a medical procedure, and that "privacy" is a bogus reason for ending what they believe to be a human life (I agree that privacy is an inadequate justification for terminating a pregnancy if a fetus is arguably a person at some point in the gestation process, but there is support elsewhere in the Constitution for allowing it at least up to viability nonetheless). It's not really all that complicated, and doesn't require any the eye-rolling amateur psychology that the sinestrosphere away from the Forvm is so fond of directing at anyone to the right of Lenin.

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

Good on you for saying all that.


American Conservatives ( though in truth it's actually a fundamentally Liberal assertion ) want the government to get out of our lives.  The greatest evils are done with the Best of Intentions.


There's a quote, misattibuted to Sinclair Lewis, seems to have come from around 1936, a guy named James Waterman Wise, Jr said  "If fascism comes, he added, it will not be identified with any "shirt" movement, nor with an "insignia," but it will probably be "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution."

"Griswold is a rather unpopular piece of jurisprudence ...


... because of the decisions that followed from it, such as Roe ..."


I don't believe that's accurate:


Seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, according to new data from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll

The dumb & nasty


"98 reminded me of 99" isn't much of a reason to go there in your comment

Why thats odd



I distinctly recall hearing about some Republicans who most definitely are trying to ban some forms of birth control.



In fact every single Republican candidate vying for Kay Hagans seat expressed a desire to overturn  "Griswold v. Connecticut". But again if Republicans want to take the approach of mockery and insults I say more power to them. 


not to mention

brutusettu's picture

SCOTUS decisions don't need overturned to make a major changes if some GOPers get their way and just assert that some contraception drugs aren't contraception drugs.

It's gonna become an ideological ISIS Crisis.


The GOP is now well and truly screwed.  As in Iraq, where ISIS have imposed their own shockingly literal version of shari'a law, the GOP now occupy the role of the hapless Sunnis, who never asked for this sort of ruling.  When the Moral Majority was returning them to high office, the GOP countenanced their ignorant fatwas.  Now the Fundie Camel is all the way inside the tent, which was never all that big to begin with - and that camel is feeling cramped.  The camel, 'tis said, knows the Last Name of Allah and the Moral Majority now rule the roost.  


Most of the GOP politicians, I suppose it's also true of most of the GOP voters - don't care about birth control, probably don't much care about abortion, either.  But the Fundies do and they're Issue Voters on Steroids.  Who's left to vote for the GOP?  Church attendance in the USA is declining, these mega-churches are doing well enough, with their Social Gospel schtick, pretty weak tea most of it, feel-good Facebook Religion.  But the hard-liners seized the GOP megaphone years ago and never gave it back.  Probably why Romney didn't win.  They might have liked his politics but those Moral Majority types did not like his LDS faith and wouldn't turn out for him.


The GOP will have to eat Burwell without any sauce.  SCOTUS has just handed the Democrats the winning issue for the next election.

Winning issue


Here's Hillary, who hasn't taken any controversial positions since her Secretary of State gig, picking up some easy political points:


"It's very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer's health care plan because her employer doesn't believe she should use birth control"

Ah Yes. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .this is the same Hillary Rodham Clinton who has been moaning about being broke while a member of the 1 % of the 1%? Great political instincts, that one.

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

Heh. A week is a long time in Washington.


Today... today... it's all about Burwell.  And the crocodiles.  The GOP can't lay a finger on Hillary Clinton, not after today they can't.  See, in one sense you're right, HRC is just another vile crocodile, moaning about how she was broke for a few months.  And for a while, she was broke and it did come as something of a shock not to get that direct deposit from the General Receipts of the Treasury.  I'm told every president has a weird little transition period, once the parade moves on, leaving them at the garden gate.  Can't be much different for the Secretary of State.  But she got back on her feet, such as her always do, takes a while to get the ol' cash flow in a positive mode.


Hillary Clinton's political instincts are superb.  Not perfect, but she's smarter than your average bear.  Nobody in modern political life has endured more savage beatings, with the possible exception of Bush43, who has the good sense to daub on his canvas and otherwise stay out of harm's way.  He was a sad case.  For a while, Bill Clinton was that way, too:  Al Gore didn't want him around whilst Gore was running for Prez.  Political bromodrosis.  But give 'em time, they always seem to recover.  If Nixon could, if Carter could, anyone can.  Maybe not Bush43.  But his day may yet come.  Just not for a while.


No, the GOP can go on barking and slavering about Hillary Clinton.  She's heard it all before, so have we.  The Spanish say Ladra no muerde, the dog that barks won't bite.  If ever there was a toothless, barking dog, it's the GOP on the last day of June, Anno Domini 2014, looking at Alito creating what political operators can only dream of - a significant wedge issue important to just over half of the American voting public. 

That didn't take long, did it?


This is gonna be like those David Attenborough shows where the crocodiles are lined up at the Mara River, waiting for the zebras to cross.


They make images, don't they



It's almost as if HL Coporation Person

brutusettu's picture

didn't like the ACA so they created a fake sincere religious belief that they don't follow through on in any other business related respect.  An issue that the corporation person use to offer to pay for in lieu of salary/wages, at least before the ACA.



What's next, a corporation owned by some Quakers tries to get out of paying almost most of their business related federal income taxes (the taxes that go to DOD and DOD related stuff) even though that corporation has investments in Locheed Martin, General Dynamics, etc?

Good luck selling that line


to women. Every one I've personally heard from so far is pretty pissed at the decision. But hey referring to women as "usual idiots" is another good way of giving them the warm fuzzies for the Republican party so do carry on.

Pauline Kael Has Left Us. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .but her approach to understanding US politics lives on.

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

Yes, it's immature and hysterical and a temper tantrum


I can't remember if you invoked "whining," but does your comment contain these repetitive, tired descriptions of left-leaning positions because you can't defend the Hobby Lobby ruling on its merits? 


"It's probably easy to get around our ruling, even if it's unprincipled and detrimental to women's health" isn't much of a defense.

Your response brings up some questions


1.  Do you think the SC should make decisions based on the law, or their judgment's about women's health*?


2.  If it's unprincipled,  what principle supposedly held by the majority does it violate?


*I'm accepting here the dubious four part equality:  Health = Health Care = Health Insurance = Government Regulated Health Insurance.  Each of those equal signs is wrong but we've debated that before.

"If it's unprincipled, what principle ...


supposedly held by the majority does it violate?" 


A principle of consistency. I haven't read the decision, but that's what I'm asking about and I'm still curious to hear why this isn't a carve out for preferred religious beliefs.

The consistency is that HHS already has made an...

Bird Dog's picture

...accommodation for non-profits. The point is that HHS should follow the rules it already made. Alito:

In fact, HHS has already devised and implemented a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the employees of these entities have precisely the same access to all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of companies whose owners have no religious objections to providing such coverage. The employees of these religious nonprofit corporations still have access to insurance coverage without cost sharing for all FDA-approved contraceptives; and according to HHS, this system imposes no net economic burden on the insurance companies that are required to provide or secure the coverage.

Although HHS has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections. We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an alternative that achieves all of the Government’s aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty. And under RFRA, that conclusion means that enforcement of the HHS contraceptive mandate against the objecting parties in these cases is unlawful.


"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Nope. And good luck to Republicans with that gender gap.



The decision itself seems to violate the 1st and 14th amendments


It privileges certain sects of Christianity and sanctions unfavorable treatment toward women under the law.

Shorter Hobby Lobby, by Brian Leiter


conscientious objections count when they involve post-conception contraception, otherwise probably not.

Why religion is incompatible with reason.

mmghosh's picture

We have started on Ramadan here.  But what about Ramadan in Tromso?

Each March and September, Tromsø's days and nights are of equal length. But in summer, Tromsø is part of the Land of the Midnight Sun, and in winter, the Land of Polar Nights: From May 20 to July 22, the sun remains above the horizon and never sets, and from November 25 to January 21, it does not peek above the horizon.

At Alnor, this raises a uniquely Muslim conundrum: When there is neither sunrise nor sunset, at what times does one perform the fajr (dawn) prayer and the maghrib (sunset) prayer? And what happens when the month of Ramadan, which requires fasting from sunrise to sunset, falls in high summer or deep winter?

And do people then do the rational thing of ditching the obvious nonsense?

Her husband, Andrew Ibrahim Wenhem, is the mosque's registrar, overseeing the legal paperwork of marriages, divorces and deaths. "We finally asked a shaykh in Saudi Arabia, and he gave us a fatwa [instruction] with three choices: Follow the timetable of Makkah, follow the timetable of the nearest city that does have a sunrise or sunset, or estimate the time and set a fixed schedule. We decided to follow Makkah for the part of Ramadan that falls under the Midnight Sun or Polar Nights, and then, for the other times, we follow our own sun."

Of course, our Supreme Court has already ruled that astrology is a science.  So that's all sorted then.

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

Why don't You Be a Little Inflamatory, eh, Manish?


....I had to laugh when I saw your post title.




Best Wishes, Traveller

Its why being an agnostic is hard. nt

mmghosh's picture


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

Jazz has cultural cachet, blues has cultural cachet, power metal


does not. And so I bring you Powerwolf!

Amen and Attack:

Oh, but I've got even sillier. Here's "We Drink Your Blood":

Oh, but there's more. Here's "Sanctified with Dynamite":

What do I love about Powerwolf? What's not to love about Powerwolf? It's a bunch of Germans with a Romanian front man trained in opera. They sing about things like Werewolves and Vampires wrestling with whether to follow God or Satan. They're power metal, but they appear in corpse paint that's normally associated with death and black metal. And their whole thing has a sort of vibe that's a mix of Hammer horror, aggressive music that you might associate with acts like Manowar or Hammerfall, and a whole lot of cheese.

"a whole lot of cheese" - understatement of the year nominee

brutusettu's picture

Holding up the guitar is slow motion with pyro going off is a director trying to put cheese with more cheese.

They appear to be a power metal comedy troupe.  A Slade of a different genre.  Good cheese.





Sarah Palin precisely articulates her criticisms of the GOP:

Well if Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung-ho about getting more Republicans in there? We need people who understand the beauty of…. the value of … allowing free market to thrive. Otherwise our country is going to be continued to be over-regulated, driving industry away, driving jobs away. We’re going to be a bankrupt, fundamentally transformed country unless those who know what they’re doing, and aren’t going along just to get along with those in power, it being today the Democrats. That does no good. So yeah if Republicans aren’t going to stand strong on the planks in our platform then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.

Some soulful folk-driven modern music


I don't believe Sean Rowe's gotten a tremendous amount of attention. Good stuff and a unique voice. 


The Head and the Heart is much better known. Very cool stuff. 


I think I posted The Districts before. 


And the Divine Fits I posted previously too, but this is still a track I replay. This is less soulful/folksy, more of a punk/roots edge to this stuff. 

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

Where the Clintons' money comes from - it ain't pretty


Ezra Klein

Between January 2001 and January 2013, Bill Clinton hauled in $104.9 million in speaking fees. The majority of that income came from foreign speeches, and Clinton's most loyal sponsors have been in the financial industry...


The real money — and the really tricky sponsors — have been flowing into the Clinton Global Initiative.


CGI's funders were initially hard to track, but as part of a deal with the Obama administration, Clinton opened the books. Donors included the government of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy and Jamaica. The Blackwater Training Center ... and there were big donations from Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Goldman Sachs.

This is a time of unprecedented economic inequality and uncertainty. Hillary Clinton is vulnerable on her left and deserves to be opposed.



All that is needed is a viable candidate.

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.

Not To Mention. . .

M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .that HRC (and Bubba, to a lesser extent) can't stop whining about how broke they were when they left the White House, and how they really aren't that wealthy now. It should be amusing to see her try to convince all those voters up in arms about the 1% that she's just the ticket for them.

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

Got any more hidden gems, catchy?


It's been awhile since I came across any music I thought was really awesome.

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

Glad you're liking the album


Stay tuned to this channel for weekend albums during the summer.


One resource is Bluenote, which this spring started doing some great re-issuing, with 5 remastered albums on vinyl a month. They've picked some of their most popular but are also highlighting albums they believe have been underrated, including a re-issue last month of the Grant Green album I posted. I think there are a lot of great albums already re-issued and more to come. Good thing to check out.

What do your tastes run to, Jordan?


I generally don't put up music unless I've got a few barley pops in me but I've been listening to a ton of new stuff lately....

Soulful, beautiful, great beat, good movement in the bass,


lyrical, basically any well-made music that's trying (or tried at the time) to say something new.  


Among new-ish music I like TV on the Radio, Wilco, The Head and the Heart, Divine Fits, Lorde, The xx, The Lumineers, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Daft Punk, Tuneyards, Florence + the Machine, MS MR, Ellie Golding, Matrimony, Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend. I play bass so among older stuff I've been (trying) to learn to improve my feel for Motown (James Jamerson!) and disco. Anything Bernard Edwards played is magic to me. 

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

Did I wax lyrical about Owen Pallett yet?


The Riverbed.  Brilliant.  

Soldier's Rock:  Strange, circular forms.  The album version is stranger, with additional Enossifications.

In Conflict .. this vid is from before he released the album.


Ásgeir - King And Cross.  Reminds me of my Finnish son-in-law's accent.  And I'm a sucker for pinched seconds in harmony.

California Guitar Trio, Eve.  This is my soundtrack, grieving for our lovely dog,




Interesting, prog-rocky kinda vibe.


Finnish son-in-law, eh? Is it Finns who use patronymics, or am I thinking of Iceland?

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

Iceland uses the patronymic system


Ásgeir is Icelandic.  Finland follows the christian name - family name pattern.  Prog and I have this love-hate thing going on.  Mostly I hate its bombastic prog-itude and senseless nostalgia for the Yes-ish and Genesis-ish past.  But I love the harmonies and tempi.  


I am a big fan what's now called Baroque Pop.  Music for refined persons - or such as seek refinement.  Gotta keep the prow pointed forward, examining the new stuff.  I love Rhapsody's paradigm.  Find something you like, there's stuff rather like it, Rhapsody tells you.  


Truth is, I have to work backwards from Rhapsody to YouTube to re-find the stuff I'm listening to:  I hate stealing anything.  Images, tunes, text, it's all out there for free and someone put a chunk of their lives into creating it - and it's wrong to lift it.  I remember, fairly early in the Age of the Internet, teaching my children to find the authors of a thing and seek their permission.  Wonderful artist named Nenslo who did a ton of stuff for SubGenius, my then-seven year old son used some of his art for a story he'd written and wrote him an email.  All Nenslo wanted back was a scan of what my son had done with the images.  


Puts me in mind of a tune I used to play for my kids when they were very small, often played late at night.  I took to sleeping with the two of the little ones on the living room floor, one to each side.  Moonlight in Glory.  They'd sing in chorus with the female voice, two infant sopranos, quietly surging as I held them.    Followed by Mountain of Needles, where they'd actually fall asleep.


It was a strange home.