Thursday Open Thread

Thought I'd try this as an experiment.


Please feel free to write comments on this post on whatever topic you like!  (As usual, please avoid personal insults of each other, vulgarities aimed at each other or of third parties, or other things that are likely to poison the discussion.)  If people seem to enjoy this, I hope to make this a weekly event.

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  1. Another night of “peaceful” “protests” in Portland.

    At 12:32am a riot was declared and dispersal order given. Response was Molotov cocktails being thrown at the building and police along with fireworks being launched. Small fires were started but contained. Tear gas dispersed most of the riot, but a several assaults of federal officers were reported resulting in at least one hospitalization.

    Lobbing incendiary devices = “peaceful protest.”

    Note. Most of the demonstration that night was indeed peaceful and was permitted without interference of law enforcement. It was not until about midnight when fireworks were being launched at police and the building that a riot was declared. Please hold back your gnashing of teeth about how peaceful demonstrations are being broken up.

    1. That sounds like something the Oregon police should do something about…

      1. I would say in an ideal academic world yes the local police would be exercising authority over the situation. However the Mayor has decided that in the name of “social justice” rioters and looters ought to be given free reign of the city. Heck they even set up a lawless zone where multiple murders took place.

        The Mayor is now probably regretting that decision at the rest of the world looks on at him as just being a stupid stooge. But until cooler heads prevail the Feds can at least stop the mob from burning down one little building.

        1. No, the mayor has decided not to escalate, at least for the time being. Whether that is a good strategy or a bad strategy is still too early to tell.

          1. In Minneapolis here. With a couple hundred damaged buildings after a few nights of “deciding not to escalate,” I can tell you that it’s not a good strategy.

            1. Then you should hold him or her to account at the next election. It is my understanding this is why they fear to do much in the first place.

              Of course, they’ve been in charge of the police for years. You’d think nobody would be voting for them at this point.

          2. “Whether that is a good strategy or a bad strategy”

            It might be good for him personally. It’s bad for the honest people and businesses in Portland.

            1. David, and Armchair, I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but we don’t know what would have been the cost of escalation. If it results in more people being killed, and heightens the intensity of the rioting, then maybe letting it burn itself out is the best strategy. Eventually it will burn itself out; we just don’t know how soon. And the mayor’s problem is that he doesn’t know either.

              Suppose escalating means twenty people get killed but the rioting ends a month sooner than it would have otherwise, whereas not escalating means that nobody gets killed but it drags on for another six months. Suppose further that the mayor has a crystal ball that tells him all that. What’s his best strategy?

              1. “whereas not escalating means that nobody gets killed but it drags on for another six months.”

                Rioters have already killed people. There were people killed in CHAZ/CHOP. There have been reports of a charred body found in one of the buildings burned by rioters in Minneapolis.

                Not escalating absolutely does not mean nobody gets killed. In fact if it takes long enough to “burn out” more people could be killed than if law enforcement comes down hard on the rioters.

                1. MatthewSlyfield,

                  Maybe you don’t understand what a hypothetical is….

                  1. I understand what a hypothetical is.

                    This hypothetical is invalid because it purports to project from existing conditions but gets the existing conditions wrong.

                    If it purported to be an alternate history where past events were different, that would be a different case, but that isn’t what it is.

                    1. The hypothetical is based on the hypothetical idea that there will be fewer total deaths if you don’t escalate, but the riots last longer. But you are smart enough to know that. You just don’t want to answer.

                      Alternatively, if your objection is that you are certain that it cannot be the case that there will be fewer overall deaths if you don’t escalate, as compared to if you do escalate, then say that. But just objecting, but people do die misses the obvious question Krychek was asking.

              2. “‘we don’t know what would have been the cost of escalation”

                In this particular instance, we don’t know. Because it’s impossible to “know the future”. However, parallels can be drawn to past riots and riot control actions. And general trends can be drawn as such.

                Peaceful protests occur, then the protesters go home. They’re relatively common. Examples include the Tea Party protests of 2010, or the woman’s march in 2017 in DC. These of course, shouldn’t (and don’t need to be) broken up.

                Violent protests (AKA riots) are a different story. They tend to encourage more violent people to join them. What might start mostly peacefully ends up with more and more violent elements joining the riots, especially as they see nothing negative happening to them. This is amplified over multi-day riots, which can bring more and more unsavory elements in, as people go to seek out the violence. (Single-day riots are sometimes different) The “CHAZ” zone in Seattle is an excellent example here. What might have been somewhat peaceful was eventually taken over by violent, unsavory elements, ending up in murders.

                Because of this tendency, the illegal, violent protests should and need to be broken up, sooner, rather than later. Otherwise, more and more violent elements are drawn in, and the “peaceful” elements tend to leave.

                1. This is manifestly untrue.

                  There were riots nation-wide in the wake of Floyd’s death.

                  They all evaporated in a short time without escalation.

                  Don’t make up sociological untruths to justify violence.

                  1. “They all evaporated in a short time without escalation.”

                    They have been going on in Portland for 50 some days without letup.

                    1. Sure, but that is incomparable to the nationwide legit riots you had going on previously, don’t you agree?

                  2. Absaroka makes the point in regards to Portland. The Chaz issue in Seattle is another example (which was in response to Floyd). This resulted in the murder of citizens of the city, and followed the pattern outlined above.

                    So they clearly didn’t “all” evaporate. Even you should be able to see this.

                    1. Here’s the thing – you made a broad argument about riots generally.

                      I provided many counterexamples. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said all, but I think that was well understood as hyperbole.

                      You come back with 2 examples. Which do not prevent my counterexamples from blowing up your ‘gotta crackdown immediately and hard everywhere’ thesis.

                      In fact, it makes you wonder what the factors are in Seattle and Portland that made things *not* evaporate as seemed to be the general trend when a week or so has passed.

                    2. No Sarcastro, you painted with a broad stroke, were clearly contradicted and didn’t actually provide ANY concrete counterexamples. Zero.

                      I’m done with your lies and dishonest arguments. They are consistent.

                    3. You’re denying that there were riots that died down? At some point obtuseness becomes wilful blindness.

                      Washington DC is a fine counterexample. LA. NYC. Protests continue; violence has become single incident at best.
                      Kinda of like in Portland before the Feds, but even more so.

                      Your general observations about riots are not general, and look outcome-oriented to allow maximum crackdown.

                      And then, in a common move for you, you call me a liar. Dude, you made up a whole anti-riot doctrine out of your hat. To justify a federal crackdown on not just riots but protests. What the hell is wrong with you that this is what you want government to be used for?

          3. “No, the mayor has decided not to escalate, at least for the time being.”
            You call enforcing the law against criminals escalating? Geez, what do you call putting persons indicted for crimes on trial? And what word do you use for sentencing criminals found guilty by a jury?

            1. People that don’t wear masks, or run a business. Ms

          4. Two months of destruction and it is too early to decide?

      2. Actually, the Portland Police are the ones that declared a riot and dispersed the crowd so…

      3. “That sounds like something the Oregon police should do something about…”

        You would think but the mayor [who is also the police commissioner] was there cheering them on. So…

        1. Apparently not, since the PPD are the ones that acted here.

          Your overdamatic worldview is getting more and more out of alignment with reality.

          1. Reports I am reading said Feds threw the tear gas. PPD is enjoined from using it generally. But, yes, the reports are conflicting. Probably “fog of war” mostly.

            1. Jimmy, how do you know that ANTIFA didn’t throw the tear gas?
              It’s not that hard to obtain (or steal) — far easier than Heroin and we all know that’s available.

          2. Well Mayor Kerensky blamed the feds.

            The New York Times@nytimes
            After being tear gassed in a crowd, Portland’s mayor and police commissioner Ted Wheeler denounced federal officers for “urban warfare.”

            Did he lie?

            1. Different events.

              Unless you think the Mayor went to go speak at a Molotov Cocktail riot.

              1. Same event, different times, I think, though I could be wrong. There has been a riot every day.

                Knowing a riot is a nightly occurrance and going in support is cheering, even though he fled before the fires came out. And I mean fled, Bolsheviks don’t like Menseviks.

                1. So you conflated two events in order to make the Mayor look worse than she does so you can justify the Federal takeover of the streets in service of protecting courthouses from vandalism.

                  Man, you really want some liberal blood in the streets, dontcha?

                  1. Wait, are we talking about the Seattle Mayor or the Portland Mayor?

                    I thought we were talking about the Portland Mayor, who is a He, not a She.

                  2. No, it was one event. last night’s riot. A riot that started while he was there and got worse once he got chased off.

                    1. Kinda looks like you got the causality backwards then, eh?

                      Any violence looks like it should be laid square at the feet of the Feds gassing protesters.

    2. Oh, right. A few a-holes that could be handled by local police totally delegitimize the constitutionally protected concerns of the huge crowds of citizens.

      So Trump is going to save us. His blatantly illegally installed minion at DHS is going to save us. And Barr’s vision of a nameless, unaccountable federal goon squad that he has envisioned for decades has now become reality. A nostalgic Stasi officer’s heart would be all pitter-patter over this.

      The Mayor, having left his mother’s death bed to be there, was gassed along with he citizens he came to talk to. Violent thugs they all are.

      My guess is you don’t live in Portland. Everyone I have heard from that actually lives in Portland tells a different story.

      1. The reckoning begins in January.

        Carry on, clingers . . . so far and so long as your betters permit. Six months.

        1. And what are you going to do if/when this doesn’t happen?

          1. The trajectory of American progress is clear. The liberal-libertarian mainstream shapes that progress against the wishes and works of conservatives. Our national improvement arcs toward my preferences (reason, science, inclusiveness, modernity, education, diminution of undeserved privilege) and away from yours (backwardness, bigotry, superstition, insularity, dogma, unearned privilege). I see no reason to expect this to change.

            If it changes — if America changes to the point at which it has enough stale-thinking citizens to reverse the half-century tide of the culture war — I will accept the change.

            1. “The trajectory of American progress is clear.”

              The “science” of Marxism is actually fallible Reverand.

            2. If there’s a “trajectory”, what then explains Trump? He’s quite the bank shot!

              1. Ask MLK while he was in jail. It’s a pretty famous sentiment.

              2. Trump was a three-cushion trick shot at the Electoral College . . . one unlikely to be repeated, even if there are enough clingers left in America to position him for another try.

                Trump seems the exception — a last-gasp, desperate heave by conservatives who know they have lost the culture war and are relegated to silly longshots and petulant displays of vandalism — that proves the glorious arc of our society’s progress.

      2. >a few
        Antifa tranny spotted. Why do you people insist on pushing this false narrative so hard? Just watch the videos. They are all over the internet, and they reveal that it’s far more than “a few.” Multiple homicides plus over a billion dollars in property damage plus widespread looting plus arson plus aggravated assault plus general villainy does not equal “mostly peaceful”. Get out Soros bot.

        1. Flip the script and Obama had the Feds fighting to protect a federal courthouse like it was the last outpost in enemy territory. The media would go ga-ga over who heroic the federal agents were to risk life and limb to protect a shining beacon of American justice and one day when the evil nazi right winger mob is tried in that very courthouse they will get to enjoy the same liberties and due process that every other American gets, despite their crimes against that very form of government, because that is how the system works!

          1. Actually that is sort of what happened when the Bundys and friends peacefully occupied a building in the Malhuer Wildlife refugee. The current governor couldn’t wait for them to go home. She called out FBI Swat and the state police seat. One person dead. An FBI and state police cover up. They tampered with the crime scene. Protesters vigorously prosecuted in state court. I am no fan of the Bundys but the contrast is amazing.

            1. Correction federal court

            2. It’s not a peaceful sit-in when they’re heavily armed like that.

        2. Are you claiming the protests have led to “multiple homicides?”

      3. SCOTUS has long said that content-neutral rules for “time, place, and manner” are perfectly acceptable.

        It is not a “peaceful” assembly after midnight — I’d be very surprised if the city doesn’t have a noise ordinance specifying that loud noises (e.g. construction) must cease at an earlier hour.

        It’s also not a “peaceful” assembly if they don’t have a permit.

        And if the Mayor is participating in these unlawful assemblies, he ought to be arrested and charged as well. RICO comes to mind…

    3. This was happening in college towns 15-20 years and it was dealt with by summary expulsions of everyone present — they used facial recognition technology to identify people from photographs (as well as social media) and expelled people for merely being present.

      This was (and is) apparently legal for even a public university to do. And no one had a problem with it being done.

      So why can’t these little darlings be identified in a like manner and lose other governmental benefits, such as their free health insurance (if under age 29), and (where appropriate) eligibility for Federal Student Aid, Section 8 Housing, or public employment.

      You kinda know that a good chunk of them are public sector employees — K-12 employees or administrative assistants or whatnot — there is no more “right” to be a public employee than to attend a public university, I’d argue actually less. And as to Section 8 (etc), there are existing provisions for gang membership and such that I believe that Clinton introduced.

      So hit these little darlings in their pocketbooks and this stuff will stop.

      1. Just look at colleges response to the sports riots of the last decade. They went full big brother with rooms full of administrators analyzing photos, zooming into faces, searching social media for matches. It didn’t matter if the student was just standing in the street doing nothing. Just being there was guilt and cause for expulsion. Deals were cut so students avoided criminal charges if they just walked away quietly. No one cared because it didn’t get national media attention, outside of the initial riot, and the locals were happy the students were just gone. The students got to transfer to another school avoiding a disciplinary record.

        1. I’ve heard that UMass promised that but didn’t deliver — that they wound up including the disciplinary record anyway. Unless you made a $40K donation to the athletic department — then all was forgotten.

          I’m cynical for a reason….

      2. they used facial recognition technology to identify people from photographs (as well as social media) and expelled people for merely being present.

        What an ass you are.

        How widespread was facial recognition software 15-20 years ago?

        When were Facebook and Twitter founded?

        Who got expelled merely for being present?

        And how the fuck do you “know that a good chunk of them are public sector employees — K-12 employees or administrative assistants or whatnot?”

        You don’t.

        1. “What an ass you are.” “how the fuck”

          EV: “As usual, please avoid personal insults of each other, vulgarities aimed at each other ”

          Tsk. Tsk.

          1. Fair.

            Also, Ed should stop lying all the time.

          2. By castigating bernard’s “what an ass” while ignoring your fellow clinger’s “Antifa tranny,” Bob, you remind me of Prof. Volokh, who also claims ostensible civility standards when addressing liberal commenters (who get censored or banned) . . . and disregards incivility — calls to put liberals face-down in landfills, to gas liberal judges, to send liberals to Zyklon showers, to shoot liberals in the face when they open a front door — from right-wingers.

            Bob’s crack was anything but “fair,” Sarcastro. It was low-grade partisanship.

            1. Bob being a partisan hypocrite is hardly news.

              But Bob is not wrong that strictly speaking, bernard11 was not abiding by the formal groundrules.

              Certainly not the worst of actors by a longshot as you noted. But others being worse doesn’t mean you should’t try and be better.

              Also Ed should stop lying all the time.

              1. I make no apologies.

                Dr. Ed is a toxic presence here. He lies, makes things up, etc. He contributes nothing but BS to any discussion.

                In short, he’s an ass.

                I note that no one, not Bob or anyone else, is defending the veracity of Dr. Ed’s claims.

                1. Wow. Someone was just effectively given his two minutes of hate by the Ministry of Truth.

        2. bernard11 — Photography, of course, goes back almost two centuries. Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams were photographed. One privacy downside of facial recognition technology is that a decades-old photograph in the hands of law enforcement may prove as useful for a new ID as any photo taken yesterday.

          These days—with both surveillance cameras and personal associates photo-documenting daily life almost indiscriminately—the potential exists for some future photo ID snoop to compile a remarkably intrusive, years-long, day-by-day biography of anyone’s whereabouts and associates. It would give law enforcement a far more complete picture of a target’s activities than most people would be able to document, or even to remember themselves.

          In cases where pure happenstance put a person targeted by law enforcement in long-ago proximity with someone who committed a long-ago crime, that could prove extremely dangerous. Given a decades-spanning photo archive of normal activity, how many of us would not have at least some facial-recognition-discoverable associations with criminals on our record? Consider the implications for peaceable assembly, activism, and political demonstrations.

    4. “Molotov cocktails being thrown at the building and police along with fireworks being launched”

      That gives ATF (now ATFE) jurisdiction. I believe that there is at least one Federal law prohibiting even possession of a Molotov cocktail, and another prohibiting the throwing of it against *any* building — Congress passed some serious laws to deal with the Klan back in the 1960’s. Likewise, “commercial grade” fireworks are considered “explosives” (requiring a license to use/possess) and probably were transported across a state line as well.

      It is, of course, an *additional* Federal offense(s) if Federal Property was the target of said incendiaries….

      And as I understand it, one Federal agency can ask others for help. So one idiot with one Molotov Cocktail or one piece of non-common fireworks (or one not legal in that state) gives Donald Trump all the authority he needs to send as many people in there as he wants, and to search as many backpacks as he pleases.

      1. Very small government of you.

    5. Its insane how the inverted the coverage as. Without social media we’d never know what was actually happening

      1. The notion is preposterous that social media are a means to let you know what is “actually happening.” No more bountiful supply of misinformation could be found anywhere.

    6. They should all be arrested/dispersed including the ‘peaceful protestors’ simply for spreading covid if the President assumed the powers the Dems claimed he should everytime they blame him for the pandemic.

  2. I’ll have a go:

    Is it just my imagination, or did the District Court in Sabre/Farelogix somehow take a factual holding of the Supreme Court in Ohio v. American Express and treat it as a binding precedent? You can’t simultaneously find that the merging parties compete as a factual matter and still hold that they don’t compete because of precedent. That’s not how precedent is supposed to work.

    1. I know nothing about these types of businesses and very little of this area of law. But a cursory reading of Ohio v Amex to me says that legally the market for credit cards is the two way and therefore you have to look at it as a whole. That doesn’t seem like a factual finding, but a legal one. If the relevant market for a two-sided business is the whole I can see how a one sided business isn’t considered a competitor legally even if they do compete on one side. Again with no real background or base knowledge I can be way off but it seems a perfectly reasonable reading, though I don’t think mandatory reading, of Amex.

      1. Sabre, on the other hand, is a platform for airline bookings, not credit cards. And the District Court held, as a matter of fact, that they competed with Farelogix, which only offers services to airlines. (On the basis that there was clear evidence that Sabre had adjusted their prices, etc., because they were worried that airlines would switch their business to Farelogix instead.) But the judge refused to take the logical next step and prohibit the merger because of a Supreme Court precedent about credit cards. That seems, euh, not how a legal system is should work in a sane world.

  3. What’s everyone reading?

    I am reading “A Legal History of the Salem Witch Trials” by Peter Charles Hoffer. I haven’t gotten to the legal bits yet, but it’s fairly short so I expect I will today or tomorrow.

    And then after that I am planning on reading, “The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare” by Sean M. Kelley. It’s a microhistory that traces the journey of a slaving vessel from Rhode Island to Guinea and then South Carolina in 1755.

    1. The Salem Witch Trials are fascinating from a legal perspective. I haven’t read the particular book, but others that focus on the actual law and procedure behind the trials. They were far from “show” trials of the 20th century. In fact, the legal reasoning and argumentation that went on behind the scenes is exceptionally complex. Even the entire body of “witch law” steeped in jurisprudence, procedural process, even some due process protections. Fascinating stuff because all your learn in school is that people were crazy, they thought there were withes, and because of mass delusion they executed some people and threw others in jail. The actual history is a lot more complex.

      1. “Fascinating stuff because all your learn in school is that people were crazy, they thought there were withes, and because of mass delusion they executed some people and threw others in jail. The actual history is a lot more complex.”

        Would you please favor us with more about the fascinating nuances and complexity of the chasing, prosecution, torture, and punishment of witches (including five-year-old witches)?

        (This might get to be as good as that Zywicki-Bank of America episode.)

        1. Debate is good, and I always appreciate your contributions here, Reverend, but do you always have to come across with such snark? Your question is phrased in a way that seems to assume Jimmy is defending the atrocities of those trials.

          Is there something wrong with being interested in the legal history of events that took place over 300 years ago, and essentially saying (IMO rightly) that the American educational system tends to gloss over the nuances and complexities of historical events?

          Or do you believe there is something inherently wrong with his statement that “The actual history is a lot more complex”?

          1. To some it is impossible to discuss the details of something we view as an atrocity without implicitly agreeing with the outcome. It is a strange phenomena and one that I don’t fully understand, but happens all the time.

            Ever try to discuss the less than savory aspects of the Nuremberg Trials such as the concept of “victor’s justice” or the application of ex post facto laws? You might as well be arguing that the nazis were innocent in the minds of most.

            1. If Jimmy was castigating those who conducted the Salem witch trials, I missed it. I read this — “Fascinating stuff because all your learn in school is that people were crazy, they thought there were withes, and because of mass delusion they executed some people and threw others in jail.” — as something other than excoriation of the delusional people who believed there were witches and acted grotesquely on that delusion.

              (I acknowledge I make fewer allowances than do some others with respect to superstition-laced authoritarian conduct that hurts and kills people.)

              1. AK – are you seriously saying you read all of that and thought I was in the “pro-Salem witch trial” camp? Wow.

                1. You suggested that the straightforward explanation — ‘that people were crazy, they thought there were withes, and because of mass delusion they executed some people and threw others in jail’ — wasn’t the real story.

                  It was the real story, which is why it is taught in schools. A bunch of delusional, superstitious lunatics chased, prosecuted, tortured, and killed “witches.”

                  1. Rev, Cotton Mather was no lunatic. He was one of the most important American figures of the early enlightenment.

                    For once, Jimmy the Dane is making a useful point, and one that applies pretty broadly to the misuse of history by present-minded commenters.

            2. Jimmy,
              I have an impression of you, based on your numerous posts here on things related to politics, social issues, etc.. I find them, generally, to be delusional at best, and often Trump-like in their disassociation from reality. I could never imagine being able to sit down with you for lunch and have a calm rational discussion about anything remotely political. You just don’t strike me as being capable (amenable?) that sort of thing with anyone who disagrees with you.

              BUT, I really enjoyed your post here. Your post was thoughtful, engaging, and makes me want to read about this subject. I can totally see sitting down with you and having an interesting and spirited discussion about this slice of our history.

              An important reminder that people, like onions, have many layers.

              (Rev; you and I agree on about 98% of social issues, I suspect. But let’s lighten up, just a skoosh, here, okay?) 🙂

              1. I promise you I am not a completely horrible person. I just play one on the internet occasionally.

      2. Right. The Hoffer book at the beginning talks about how you can’t just chalk up the thing to mass delusion and superstition and that every actor in the saga had specific reasons for doing what they did. Some may seem incomprehensible to us, but some of it is also well grounded in the emerging American legal tradition.

        I’m also reminded me of the Inquisitions (Spanish, Roman, and Portuguese) which I’ve read a fair amount about. So much seems bizarre and incomprehensible to modern people, but so much of it is also familiar: obsession with procedure and really caring about the quality of the evidence and what is shows (even if we would never make the inferences they make).

        1. I will act as though AK’s request for further enlightenment was sincerely held…

          For a good background read some sections the Malleus Maleficarum. Not only does it define witchcraft (along with elements of intent) as a crime it has an extensive procedure that is to be used to prosecute someone accused of witchcraft. This book was the foundation for many subsequent witchcraft trials in both Europe and the colonies. It served as a basis for many of the legal decisions leading up to the Salem Trials.

          Now most of this will be lost upon us in the modern age. But it goes to show that much academic thought and time was put into this subject. Extensive tests and procedures were adopted. The trials were lengthy (some lasting weeks or months) and rulings were subject to appeal and review. It was not as simple as Monty Python put “she’s a witch, burn her!” but elaborate and using the standards of the day highly regulated.

          1. How are rule- and procedure-governed delusion, meticulously organized superstition, and carefully considered violent, authoritarian stupidity better than other forms or examples of delusion, superstition, and violent, authoritarian stupidity?

            1. Because more innocent people will not be killed, due to the additional rules and procedures. I mean, not every person accused as a witch will actually end up weighing as much as a duck.

              (My take on the earlier posts were: The witch trials were evil and based on stupid superstition. But most people reading about them will be surprised that there were real protections for those who were accused. And it will be interesting, to many/most/all readers what these protections were, how many accused these protections saved, where the system did and did not work as anticipated, and so on.

              It goes without saying that dark periods in history can be fascinating to read about. Sometimes as a warning, which can be used to avoid prospective poor decisions. Sometimes merely as illustrations of humans’ ability to do awful things.

              During Covid, I’m gonna jump at the chance to read anything interesting . . . I just binge-watched a full season of “Psych,” for God’s sake!!!

            2. Because calling it a delusion and then writing it off as stupid people acting on superstition robs us of all the lessons we can learn about a particular moment in history. It also ignores the fact that history is complex and far from the elementary take that is even presented in some college courses.

              My takeaway of reading about the Salem Witch Trials and other similar legal proceedings before the Enlightenment was that humans were concerned about liberty and due process well before it was talked about in the intellectual circles of Western Europe. And even though a lot of it was tied into prosecuting a crime dictated by the Catholic Church that did not mean that an elaborate, sophisticated process was just thrown aside. If the Church was interested in using it as “cover” to simply kill people who it objected to then it did a bad job of making that an efficient process. Read some of the trial accounts of witchcraft prosecutions. They would last months and even then many ended in findings of not guilty.

              1. Agreed. Full understanding never takes away our ability to make moral judgments about ultimate acts human acts.

                1. Looks like I was caught between “acts of humans” and “human acts” and went for both at the same time.

      3. The thing to remember is that the witches were from what is now the Town of Danvers, then part of Salem but wanting to be it’s own town. And the Salem minister *not* wanting that because it would be a reduction in his income — Danvers taxes would then go to support the Danvers minister.

        This in the larger context of the MA charter having been yanked for thier having supported Cromwell. So you have the same undercurrents as the Trial of Socrates.

        Rarely mentioned is that the whole thing ended when they accused the Governor’s Wife of being a witch….

        1. “If they split they won’t be paying their fair share!” rhetoric not having been invented, yet.

    2. I had a many-greats grandmother convicted and hanged there. My understanding is she was a nagging old crone who had annoyed a lot of people. She was finally pardoned about 30 years ago.
      I also had a grandfather who was arrested, but his friends managed to break him out of jail and spirit him out of town.

      1. Boston’s “Duck Pond” was originally the “Dunking Pond” where nagging women were dunked underwater.

        1. “originally the “Dunking Pond” where nagging women were dunked underwater.”

          . . . during what today’s conservatives describe as “the good old days” when traditional values were respected.

          1. Another zinger by AK. Yup, secretly men long for the days when they could just go down to the pond and dunk the old bag a few times for mouthing off.

            1. In my bigotry- and backwardness-infused hometown, men dragged women into the home by the arm, sleeve, or hair for beatings that could be heard in the street by people who never called the police. That was 50 years ago. I saw plenty of black eyes, bruised arms, and the like when collecting along my paper route.

              If you don’t believe misogyny persists in our society among our vestigial bigots, Jimmy, you’re more ignorant than I perceive.

              1. AK stop lying.

            2. Why do you feed the troll?

              1. Sigh I had hoped the comment section of this website would have civilized rational debate. Alas you can’t seem to escape the misanthropes, that must assume everyone in the world is vile, except themselves. To the future Robespierres and Trotskys you too will get the bullet. Maybe you should read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Bye

          2. Witch soakings, witch burnings, book burnings, it’s all good.

    3. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Its very good.

      1. Sounds like an interesting read.

        1. Interesting, yes. Also horrifying. One of the tidbits that stuck with me that I wish I could forget – you know how Eskimos are reputed to have 47 words for snow? Well, things were so bad in the Ukraine that there was a word for ‘the sight of a baby still trying to suckle on its dead-of-starvation mother’s breast’. This was before the Nazi’s arrived with the Holocaust.

          Absolutely read it; doing so is almost a ‘bearing witness’ duty. But it won’t be fun.

          1. Interesting, yes. Also horrifying….Absolutely read it; doing so is almost a ‘bearing witness’ duty. But it won’t be fun.

            I’ve had others tell me the same.

    4. LTG….Reading a lot of Jeremiah and Lamentations in preparation for Tisha B’Av.

      1. I hope you find yourself well prepared for your observance.

        1. Well, I started cutting back on coffee. Caffeine headaches are the worst! 🙂

      2. I’m curious as to what you’ve found particularly interesting.

        1. Jeremiah: Chapter 23
          Lamentations: Chapter 5
          Bonus…Amos 2:6-13

    5. On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder; Twilight of Democracy, by Anne Applebaum; The Death of Truth, by Michiko Kakutani; and Fascism, by Madeleine Albright. Might as well take a little light reading with me as we continue our descent into Hell in Trump’s handbasket.

      1. That’s two Timothy Snyder recommendations it seems.

    6. Just finished “1177 B.C. : The Year Civilization Collapsed,” by Eric Cline, and before that “The First Crusade”, by Peter Frankopan. Both good, but I found the Frankopan book more interesting. Turns out there was more to the crusade than Pope Urban II giving a speech and everyone marching off to capture (and sack) Jerusalem. Who knew?

      1. I took a class on the Crusades in undergrad. If you want a lengthy and detailed exploration of the whole topic: God’s War by Christopher Tyerman has you covered. Crusading goes beyond trying to just get Jerusalem back. The Crusades through Arab eyes by Amin Maalouf is a relatively short but good read.

        I’ll check out the Cline book. I don’t really know a lot about the ancient world before Rome.

    7. Conquest, by Hugh Thomas. A super in depth history of Cortez and the Aztecs.

    8. Annals Of The Former World (John McPhee) is outstanding — and long.

      A much quicker dose: The Gravel Page (also McPhee).

      1. Pretty much anything by McPhee is a good read. Ditto Richard Rhodes.

        1. I read 2 books once a year:

          Catch-22 on paper and The Making of the Atomic Bomb on audiobook.

          1. The Richard Rhodes book? That one is great.

            Catch-22 is good, but not THAT good. Try Lucky Jim, Confederacy of Dunces, or Decline and Fall, if you want books that bear annual re-reading..

            1. I cannot tell you why Catch-22 speaks so much to me, and has since I was in high school.

              But I did grow up to become a bureaucrat…

        2. I’ve been looking for ‘The Twilight of the Bombs’ on audio, but not yet.

          1. Ooooh, thanks, I hadn’t heard of that. I just put the paperback on our wish list. Amazon has the audiobook for $25 if you draw good cards at the poker game.

            1. I didn’t love Midnight Sun. Too much exciting spy cloak and dagger not enough physics!

    9. What’s everyone reading?

      Briefs. Looks like I’m the odd man out.

    10. Since I retired, I’ve been catching up on “classic” stuff I never read. I’ve really really enjoyed Joseph Conrad. He might be the greatest writer in the history of the English Language. Half way through “Lord Jim.” I’m guessing “The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus'” doesn’t get read a lot in lit classes these days. But it’s great.

    11. Rereading “Soon I Will Be Invincible” by Austin Grossman. Amazing every time. He has an amazing ability to show how nothing is as good as we think it is going to be. Or something like that; it’s hard for me to phrase it right.

    12. Just finished reading “Great Expectations,” and before that, “Bleak House.”

    13. “Kubernetes The Hard Way” by Kelsey Hightower

  4. What are the thoughts about decorum and professionalism in Congress?

    The lefty forum I lurk on is none too happy at all the conservatives coming out and saying they have a fine working relationship with AOC.
    Having a working relationship with Republicans isn’t praxis, I guess.

    1. It’s interesting because it ties into something I was going to post here anyway. There’s an article called Quillette called “What the Right Gets Wrong About Social Justice Culture”. It’s not a long article but there’s a lot jammed into it. The basic premise is looking at Social Justice Culture as just the next step in a long line of cultural transformations from honor culture (duels, etc.) to dignity culture (treat each other respectfully, thicker skin, etc.), to Social Justice Culture. The author thinks it is here to stay, I’m not so sure but it’s a very thoughtful piece. There’s another piece (which I’ll post in a comment below) that has some explanation for why social justice culture is taking off to a unique degree right now.

      If you come to believe that people who disagree with you are not just wrong but actively part of a broader cultural movement of oppression, etc., being professional is morally impermissible. Ellen saying she’s friends with President Bush isn’t something to be celebrated; after all, he’s an evil murderer akin to Hitler, and we needn’t be polite to Nazis.

      I have an emotional reaction to social justice culture that makes me certain it is wrong but I’m having a hard time articulating why it can’t be right. I’m sympathetic to some of its causes, but the methods of social ostracism seem so silly to me. My best guess is that the problem with facing immoral people with spitting and shouting is that at the end of the day, spitting and shouting aren’t an argument. Evil ideas need to be confronted with good ideas, not shouting. And if your good ideas can’t win out, maybe they aren’t very good ideas? Or maybe you just suck at speaking.

      1. The article “Looking-Glass Politics” at is a very fascinating exploration of why social media can drive social justice. It posits that the Dunbar number (the cognitive boundary of the total number of people that our human brains can hold on to, about 150) used to be filled with your parents, siblings, other villagers, but now it’s filled with world leaders, Greta Thunberg, Kanye West, and so on. That drives ambition wild, and the allure of being able to climb out of your ordinary, pathetic life and get those 15 minutes of fame affects the way people interact with others. If I just post enough social activism, make enough great arguments, I’ll be elevated to the intellectual elite, even though, fundamentally, I’m still an average or below average idiot.

        1. I’ve heard iffy things about quillette, but I’ll check your links out.

          I’m all for social justice, but yeah the social media feeding frenzies are more about dopamine than helping anyone. And I’ve been on the record being very much against protests to dis-invite speakers to campus, though I also don’t think it’s as widespread a problem as many on here insist it is.

          I’m also all for consumer-based corporations making speech and association decisions that appeal to the marketplace; social and professional consequences for speech are a healthy part of a free-speech culture.

          But if you mix the social media frenzy with the consumer-facing corporate association, you do get some bad nonsense.

          But I also know the power of the status quo to snap back; I tend to agree with you and be skeptical that it’s hear to stay.

          1. Corporate America just butters to bread of those who make their lives easier. Do you think Jeff Bazos cares about Black Lives Matter (or anything else political) that much? Or is it just BLM is good at bugging businesses enough that it is easier to placate them rather then have it as a constant distraction from making money.

            Bazos wants to make another trillion dollars and you can’t do that wading through endless political controversy. If evangelicals ran the public square (which they did up until about the 90’s) he would be all about “family values” and stuff like that (just like corporations were in the 80’s and 90’s.) I guarantee you the second the political winds change corporations will be more than happy to raise that political flag proudly.

            1. Yeah, I was really super pro-Bezos in my post there, Jimmy.

              1. My point is corporate America is the definition of “fair weather friend.” They don’t care as long as they can keep making the money. And they will sign up for whatever helps them make money faster. Bazos was just the example I used.

                1. But Jimmy, that’s what standard conservative thinking prescribes. Milton Friedman famously argues that corporations have no social responsibilities, but just have an obligation to maximize returns to shareholders.

                  Sounds like you don’t think that’s right. Neither do I.

                  1. I said nothing about if I think corporations have any duty outside of those to its employees, agents, owners, and/or shareholders. Some will argue they are members of the community so thus should stake out positions related to social responsibility. Others will argue that their duty is to make money and by doing so that creates opportunity for the community which fulfills any social obligation they might have.

                    All I said is that XYZ corporation couldn’t care less about any particular political cause and that they will go the way the trade wind is blowing strongest at any point in time. If that is social justice – sign them up. If it is family values because evangelicals run the public square – they will change to that issue in a second. Corporations are opportunistic and care mostly about making money.

          2. “I’m all for social justice,”

            Not many people are for social injustice.

            1. Ayn Rand is still pretty popular…

      2. I had about the same feeling as you with the Quillette piece. The honor vs. dignity discussion makes sense, and so we say that the SJW is claiming Honor by calling out the guilty hypocrites.
        But traditionally, ‘honor’ is standing in defense of something considered to be of high value. I don’t yet see the social justice culture building anything that would be valuable, except bureaucratic jobs teaching how to demand justice.

        1. Movements have a lot of pieces. You have your career movementarians, like your homeless industrial complex folks. And you have your tourist movementarians, the moms at the Portland rally, unemployed bored people, etc. Then you have your outer fringes which are just social commentators who love clicks and hits, and links, etc. I don’t think all these people are disingenuous. I just think it’s easy to convince someone of a thing that gets them paid in dollars or self-worth. I think it is a true fact that there are a lot of people who are inundated with pictures, videos, comments, etc. from impressive, successful people, and they want that sense of worth. They want to feel like they’re part of something bigger. Simultaneously with that we have a major demographic change. Boomers are fading, marking the beginning of the largest wealth transfer in American history. Millennials are going to be receiving that money, but not equally, and that’s going to exacerbate feelings of being left behind, class strife, etc. And you’ve got a younger generation coming right up at peak anger/protest age, and they happen to be massively unemployed because of a pandemic. An easy answer for why social media outrage is up: Twitter use is up 34% or some shit in the last quarter. Besides be outraged, what else to people who sit at home all day with no job, no kids, etc. have to do?

          I don’t know if all that means it will pass. At some point movementarians end up eating themselves by going too far. The Harper Letter isn’t close to the real push back; the movement hasn’t eaten enough obviously innocent people yet. It will. I believe that if we want to avoid social justice culture growing to the pedigree of dignity culture, the left and right need to police their progressive fringes, keep the fucking demagogues out, and settle for some boring, centrist leaders until this whole thing blows over. I appreciate not wanting to negotiate with terrorists, but the best plan right now is to pretend to negotiate with them.

      3. There are interesting similarities between social justice culture and honor culture. Both prize thin-skinnedness: one gains social status and approval by being the quickest to perceive insults. And in both, the ideal (honor in one, social justice in the other) can quickly become a justifocation for plain old bullying.

      4. Ellen saying she’s friends with President Bush isn’t something to be celebrated; after all, he’s an evil murderer akin to Hitler, and we needn’t be polite to Nazis.

        This is religion. The other group is filled with hellbound dupes, and lead by active demons.

    2. Working with “the enemy” gets you no where fast in the social justice world.

    3. “The lefty forum I lurk on is none too happy at all the conservatives coming out and saying they have a fine working relationship with AOC.”

      I am not happy about it either. A rare moment of left/right agreement.

      1. Not that rare, Bob.

        You’d be surprised at how many posters on the left fringe resemble you in a lot of ways.

    4. Conservatives are probably not unhappy with her for a few reasons, she gins up their base and helps them raise money, she is often a thorn in Pelosi’s side, she may well end up taking out some electable Democrats in the Primaries and replacing them with some unelectables (a la the Tea Party which I mostly supported), She’s young and may grow up one day (and attractive to boot).

    5. TBH I’m starting to think we need to bring back duels.

      1. Now this is an extremely bad idea that seems to come up again and again on the right, but not on the left.

        1. Probably because if you have a gun you know its such a bad idea that it becomes a funny joke, instead of something to actually take seriously/be offended by.

          I do think some sort of “honorable challenge” system would be a good idea though. Like Biden could challenge Trump to a footrace and everyone would consider Trump a pariah if he declined. Of course, in this system, everyone also would shun someone who had the bad taste to offer the same challenge to Tammy Duckworth or Greg Abbot.

        2. The Code Duello was actually not a bad system of private dispute resolution. Conflicts rarely ended in actual duels and when they did gentlemen routinely discharged their weapon into the ground. Like any system though there were those who abused it. Some “professional duelers” racked up significant body counts. Then the Irish came along and ruined the whole thing….

    6. I’m all for it decorum and professionalism.

      The fact that some liberal lefties might be unhappy and potentially primary out AOC because she has a working relationship with some GOP members is just…semi-hillarious icing.

  5. So I’ve been watching the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies. They’re delightful!

    1. Too heroic.

      I’m ride-or-die Jeremy Brett.

      1. That’s a good point. They definitely came out in a time when the audience wanted heroes. Especially in the Nazi-fighting movies that came out during WWII. Also reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes always proclaiming there are not heroes.

        What do you all think about what the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes says about the time period that the program was broadcasted in?

        1. I started on the Rathbone Holmes as a kid, and actually checked out the radio dramas in college. I always found Brett’s character much more challenging to play and to watch from a craftsmanship point of view.

          Anyhow, I think viewing society through it’s art is always a good and insightful time. One day I’ll write a thesis about the three portrayals of Khan in Star Trek and what that says about the different eras.

          I don’t know much about art in the 1940s, but I am a fan of old time radio and am often surprised and impressed by the darkness and complexity of their action stories, noir sci-fi and western. But the dramas and comedy of the era generally leave me a bit cold, as they seem so cliched. Of course they were inventing the tropes at the time, but doesn’t change things for me.

          I don’t have a lot of good things to say about Cumberbatch after that first season. Seemed to transition into phoning it in.

          1. Cumberbatch’s Holmes :

            1. The setup was perfect
            2. The characterizations were great
            3. The scripts were excruciatingly bad

            1. Today, a judge has ordered Michael Cohen released again from custody, finding that the govt had retaliated against him for attempting to publish a book (duh), and this violated his First Amendment rights (again, duh).

              At least one Conspirator will eventually make a full post about this development, of course. But in the meantime; any quick-takes? Anyone defending what the govt did here? Or are liberals and conservatives all sort of universally appalled at the pretty clear governmental actions/motives here?

              1. Sorry, the fucked-up posting system here took my original post and nested it into a sub-sub-sub-sub-folder.


                1. I thought he had violated the terms of his release by getting caught by a NY Post photographer having dinner at a restaurant. I hadn’t heard anything about a gag order until today.

          2. Anyhow, I think viewing society through it’s art is always a good and insightful time.
            I took a college course that used Westerns from the 50’s (Shane) to the 90’s (Unforgiven) as a proxy of American culture. Even without the background provided in the course, you could see differences in the characters, story and effects that reflected the culture.

            1. Oh, I’m envious. That must have been badass

              1. Each week was a different film. The school had a small theater for viewing. The professor would provide an introduction and then show the film. He allowed non-class members to join as long as they weren’t disruptive. We had to write a paper for each film due the following week.

    2. Norseman Season 3 is out. Great show.

      1. On what platform(s)?

      2. Vikingane! I’m amazed that they record each scene in both English and Norwegian instead of dubbing or subtitling.

    3. Love those old Sherlock Holmes movies.

  6. You know what I got pretty into recently? That ‘The Last Dance’ basketball documentary.

    I am very much not a sports guy, no matter how much I’ve tried to cultivate a rooting interest in one team or another.

    But this documentary brought it. I was sucked in and into the drama.

    It’s a great and diverting 10 hours(!).

    1. I saw that it was on Netflix now. I kept forgetting to watch it when it was on Sundays on ESPN for various reasons. But hopefully I’ll get around to watching it soon.

      1. So worth it. You will not be disappointed. I like basketball (casually, don’t follow the NBA closely, bigger fan of college ball), but this, in a way, felt like much more than a simple sports documentary. It’s great.

        1. It is a great documentary. I am biased (formerly rabid Bulls fan, etc.), but I have to think this crosses over to nearly everyone because of how much it is about psychology, leadership, power struggles, and has very interesting and complex characters. It really captures the non-basketball aspects of what, to me, was a golden age of the NBA. And, also, a close examination of team in nearly any field that is at the pinnacle of that field is probably going to be interesting.

  7. I think I understand the anger people feel about police brutality.
    I do wonder if some of the activists or agitators have any idea what they really want to happen, “defund the police” is a nice slogan, but lacks any sense of what it actually means. Some of it’s proponents actually propose eliminating the police, most want some sort poorly articulated restructuring of law enforcement.

    1. If everyone in the police department is forced to re-apply for his/her job, then those officers and/or leaders with bad records can more easily be removed by replacement. By some measures it made positive changes in Camden.

      1. That is one model. If I understand Camden the City police were disbanded and replaced with a county police which covers much more that the city.

        Other people are suggesting other approaches. Minneapolis is doing something but I don’t think they know what yet.

        1. I don’t think that is completely accurate. The Camden PD was dissolved in order to bust the union — and if there was ever a union that needed busting, it was that one. Gov Christie was one of the main drivers of the dissolution/reorganization.

          It basically allowed them to reduce salary and benefits, which in turn allowed them to hire more officers. In addition, they were able to cull out most of the really bad apples.

          1. You’re saying they ‘defunded the police’?

            1. If by “defunding” you mean increasing the overall number of police on the streets, while cutting union members, sure.

          2. If more police were hired to cover a larger area what is your issue?
            I’m not sure what your point is.

    2. I like the ‘unbundle the police’ which is a vastly worse slogan, but basically recognizes which law enforcement requires police-style guns and potential violence and which does not.

      So no more police doing traffic, mental health stuff, homeless rousting, etc. It’d still be law enforcement, but not police.

  8. Thoughts on the St. Louis Circuit Attorney directing a crime lab to tamper with evidence in order to facilitate charges against the McCloskeys? Why hasn’t the Missouri AG charged her or those involved? Should the USAO in Eastern MO get involved?

    1. Why hasn’t the Missouri AG charged her or those involved?

      Occam’s razor: because it’s not a thing that actually happened.

      1. Occam’s Razor: when do prosecutors ever hold prosecutors accountable for pre-trial or investigatory misconduct, much less with criminal charges?

        1. This would be my hypothesis. @Martinned unfortunately doesn’t know what Occam’s Razor is. When there is sworn testimony, physical evidence, and multiple independent media reports corroborating an event, Occam’s Razor is not “it’s all a lie.” The main point behind my comment was that this is political theater. If the AG were actually concerned about the McCloskeys’ rights, he would be doing something more substantial here in light of egregious prosecutorial misconduct. Something stinks here on both sides.

    2. ” to tamper with evidence”

      FWIW, I saw that question raised on a gun blog. And there was a response from a long-serving major crimes detective which went something like: “no one tampered with the evidence; the first line of the lab report says ‘the gun wasn’t functional as received’. After noting that, the gun (not just that one – any gun any crime lab receives) is put into working order if possible, and test fired, and the markings from the test firing put into NIBIN, etc, etc. That’s just crime lab SOP. Doctoring the evidence wouldn’t have the first sentence of the report say ‘not functional as received”.

      n.b. this is addressing crime lab SOP, not the political motives of the DA.

      (there was more – the number and type of cartridges loaded is noted, yadda, yadda)

    3. “Thoughts on the St. Louis Circuit Attorney directing a crime lab to tamper with evidence in order to facilitate charges against the McCloskeys?” My take on it is that he ordered the lab to determine whether the gun was readily capable of being made operable. If it was, then it might be an illegal weapon (aside from available defenses such as it was possessed by the homeowner on his/her property). And if that’s what the lab was doing, then the lab was not tampering with evidence.

  9. The fires were in trash cans as protesters loudly debated rather fires were a good tactic.
    The breathless reporting from the media, primarily conservative media, about the fire in the police association, was a flare placed by someone inside the building next to a wastebasket. The protesters did not have access to the building.

    1. “The protesters did not have access to the building.”

      The ‘No Parking’ (or whatever it is) sign that was apparently used to break down the door was … the fire department saving wear and tear on the usual halligan tools?

  10. John McWhorter’s review of “White Fragility”, is now out in Atlantic. Some of us have seen earlier versions of McWhorter’s piece in Quillette and elsewhere, but now it’s made the big time.

    1. I like McWhorter a lot. He is extremely bright and thoughtful, so you need to take him seriously, even if you disagree with him.

      You know who else is like that — Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

      1. Joking? Kareem is a numbskull.

        1. You may disagree with him, but he is definitely not dumb.

          1. He is not a numbskull and he deserves to be commended for his heartfelt statement objecting to recent anti-Semitic remarks by a few celebrities and athletes.

  11. Activists instantly lose credibility when they list black “victims” by name and the list includes Botham Jean along with the likes of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. That does a major disservice to Botham Jean.

  12. I’d be interested in some commentary on the briefs on Sullivan’s request for an en banc hearing on the Flynn Mandamus. The DOJ’s position that Sullivan not only doesn’t have Standing but even filing the motion was improper seems unassailable (citations committed):

    “Article III standing. A person has Article III standing to seek appellate review only if he has a “personal stake” in the litigation. But a judge does not have—and under the Due Process Clause, cannot have—such a stake. That is so even for a writ of mandamus, which “is not actually directed to a judge in any more personal way than is an order reversing a court’s judgment.”

    • Party status. Only a “party” may petition for rehearing en banc. Judges were once considered nominal respondents in mandamus proceedings, but in 1996, “the rule [was] amended so that the judge is not treated as a respondent.” The district judge thus is not a party—not even a nominal one.”

    It’s clear Sullivan has lost his objectivity and does see himself as a party to the case, he’s got one set of lawyers set to make arguments to himself, and another set to represent himself at the appeals level.

    I think they need to reject his petition, but of course that doesn’t mean one of the DC appeals court judges couldn’t request the en banc hearing on their own volition.

    1. I think Sullivan is dragging out the Flynn bit until the November election. This looks a little too much like the Ted Stevens trial again, for my taste.

    2. The active court has 7 democratic appointees and 4 republican. For the reasons you suggest about standing, it seems like a pretty poor case for rehearing, assuming that in the end SCOTUS would slap it back. How many of the current judges would go out that far on a limb?
      Agree with Armchair that it’s Sullivan trying to drag it out, but the court should put the case out of its misery ASAP.

      1. None on the DC circuit. Not when a seat on the Supreme Court looks like it is going to open sooner rather than later.

  13. One of the themes on the social justice left that has led to several forings is the idea that white people shouldn’t be telling black people what to do about black issues.

    I wonder to what extent Bostock is relevant here. The idea that it’s wrong for white people to behave like black people or do things reserved to black people doesn’t seem that different from the idea that it’s wrong for women to do things for men or vice versa. (Or for black people to have opinions on matters reserved for white people.)

    To what extent would people caught up in these things have a racial discrimination claim under Bostock?

  14. Am I the only one who thinks these eviction moratoriums will not end well?

    MA just extended it for *another* 60 days — so you have tenants owing 7 months rent and they are not going to be able to come up with that as one lump sum. Far easier to simply walk away when this all ends — but there is no way they are going to come up with that amount of money.

    Then a lot of the landlords are highly leveraged and depending on rental income to pay not only the mortgage but also the taxes and maintenance on the building. Even if the banks don’t foreclose — they don’t want non-paying tenants, either — I can still see a lot of folk walking away from these properties. Particularly when it is a corporation whose sole asset is the property.

    Even without that, no money for maintenance and tenants not worried about a security deposit can lead to a rapid decline in the property — and other related problems. Arson comes to mind.

    I don’t think this is going to end well..

    1. Some colleagues and I were talking about that. It seems that it’ll look a lot like 2008, with much of the cost falling on the banks, which may or may not need bailouts.

      Renters won’t pay landlords. Landlords can’t pay lenders (generally banks). Banks have to either foreclose and hold a bunch of excess real estate or just suffer the losses. Same thing will be true with home mortgages. And like in 2008, I wouldn’t want to be owning a bunch of securitized debt.

      1. The rent moratoriums (at least around me) are the definition of “kick the can down the road.” it just puts off having to deal with the problem and usually makes it worse.

        I think had it happened for a month landlords and tenants would have mostly entered into good faith payment agreements (perhaps with some rent forgiven.) After a few months though, most tenants started to get the full picture that the endless eviction bans meant the courts would never be able to handle the glut of petitions that were coming, so they naturally started just not paying rent. Now that some states are extending these well into the Fall we are talking about situations where people are 6+ months in arrears. There is no way that these folks are throwing the money into a savings account month to month (if they had it in the first place) and are ever thinking they will have to pay it. A landlord owed backed rent is going to be lucky if they can collect 10% of it. (Many also had to put up the security deposit as rent so they don’t even have that to fall back on.)

        Landlords can generally lose a month or two of rent, and expect to just through the course of normal business (occupant moves out and it takes 1-2 months to get a new tenant.) But compound that with a few more months and they get tight on cash. Most private rentals are bound up in mortgages. Sooner or later the bottleneck gets to the bank and then on to the market. It is bound to produce a crash closer to the end of the year.

        States would do well to actually DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM rather then slapping a bandaid on it. That said politicians are great about kicking the can down the road so I doubt they will do it. But if they would provide for maybe a mix of tax relief if landlords engage in good faith negotiation including a percent of rent forgiven it would stop the wave that is coming.

    2. A lot of rentals around here are looking run down. Noticeably as the months tick by. Landlords are only doing what is required to avoid a citation (like mowing the grass once a month as opposed to weekly.) The neighborhood association is full of complaints and the landlord response is “I am not getting paid rent so had to defer all the upkeep I was going to perform…”

      It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of high percentage rental neighborhoods start showing blight when the inevitable happens.

  15. The federal government should be dissolved.


    1. Don’t try so hard to be punk.

    2. Half of the federal government is social security and medicare, fiscally speaking. Those are very popular programs, especially with the older demographic. Dissolving the federal government is unfeasible, in this regard.

    3. Repeal the income tax. Problem solved.

      1. There needs to be a new wealth tax and value-added tax, just to balance the current budget.

        1. Just default on the debt and go tell China off.

          1. US credit rating would go down to junk status, and the cost of borrowing would go up dramatically. As a result the economy would go into recession when people/governments/institutions can no longer afford to borrow. The US would be forced to balance the budget to recover its credit rating.

            It’s either that or start printing money again.

            1. Or you just don’t borrow fiat currency any more.

              1. So you would suggest eliminating social security and medicare?

            2. librarian,

              I think you mean “go farther into recession” or, more likely, “go into a second Depression”.


    Just saw this article, about a (now-) 93 year old German, who received a suspended sentence for his actions during WWII as a guard in a death camp. (Nothing more needs to be said about the atrocities in these camps.)

    As a lawyer, what was especially interesting to me was that–because this 90+ year old man had started his guard work at age 17, this case was heard in German Juvenile Court. This is obviously, for me, the largest age-gap I’ve come across between the age of an actual defendant and the putative age cutoff for Juvenile Court.

    Anyone know of a case with a larger gap?

    1. Here is one where the Defendant was 52 at the time of his juvenile trial for a 1976 murder/rape.

    2. I suppose if there are any other camp guards discovered they would likely also be around 17 at the time and heard in juvenile court as well.

    3. “(now-) 93 year old German, who received a suspended sentence for his actions during WWII as a guard in a death camp”

      Wasteful virtue signaling. We didn’t prosecute mere guards right after the war. Maybe the Russians did, IDK, the Western powers didn’t.

      We turned all the war criminals we didn’t execute over to the Germans when they formed West Germany. They let them all out by 1953/1954. These were people with real blood on their hands, high ranking generals and SS responsible for many murders, not teenage guards.

  17. How should a society deal with a mix of violent and nonviolent protesters ? It seems that there are few good solutions. It is undesirable for the police to be able to arbitrarily claim “It’s a riot” and bust heads. It doesn’t take a genius to know that this will be abused.

    On the flip side, allowing a violent mob to rampage due to cover given by folks that are non-violent seems like it is also have dire effects on society. It’s is hard to see an outcome worse than Portland where much violence that is politically accepted is not prosecuted or allowed, but are there any good options at all here ?

    1. The police should use non-lethal force, IMO.

  18. Taking bets on extent of rioting after the election, no matter who wins. Over under is the Floyd riots.

    1. I mean, any violence of note was in that first three weeks. After that it was largely protests with maybe Seattle excepted.
      Until just now.

      Ball’s in Trump’s court if you ask me.

    2. No rioting expected.

    3. If Trump wins I think we will see localized riots. Probably mostly just antifa backed, planned well in advance just in case the event happens.

      If Trump loses I don’t think there will be much at first unless there are Bush v. Gore type circumstances that will question the legitimacy of the election.

      If Trump loses I suspect he gives up the reigns of power pretty easily, perhaps even early. Turning over transition to Pence and retiring to his golf course.

      If Trump wins then it will be interesting to see what his second term will be like. My guess is there is good money the Dems at least hold the House and maybe take the Senate. If that happens it will just be four years of pure gridlock. Maybe some trade deals and a lot of regulation reform. If the Republicans can keep the Senate look for him to finish transforming the judiciary. Also I can’t see how the liberal holdouts on the Supreme Court keep it together for another four years. He will get two more seats.

      The media reaction will be interesting. Basically they will either have to double down with “the resistance” for another 4 years (which very well might put them out of business as I don’t think the faux outrage machine has another four years left on it) or they will need to do some introspection.

      A lot can happen in August and September, but I would put my odds on Trump winning around 20% as of today. Maybe that gets closer to 40% of Covid starts to fizzle out or the economy looks like it is bouncing back. There are a few Biden sleepers also still hanging out that haven’t been touched. Those could all blow up in his face at any time given the correct zeitgeist.

      Only time will tell though….

  19. While people disagree about the severity, I think nearly all here would agree that cancel culture and a il(classical)liberal tendency with regard to expression is an increasing problem.

    For those who agree, what can we do about it?

    1. One thing that would be helpful would be to make sure the most prominent critics of cancel culture are not just people who think the wrong things are being cancelled. Consistency will make people listen more.

      Luckily a good litmus test of whether someone is actually against cancel culture or just wants to cancel different things recently occurred:

      Tom Cotton is vocally anti-cancel culture…but he just introduced a bill to try and stop federal funds from being used to teach the 1619 Project in schools. The project is free so this is essentially performative BS, but he’s clearly trying to cancel something he doesn’t like.

      So in addition to him, any anti-cancel culture warriors who praise this should be ignored and not taken seriously on the topic.

      Anyone who says that they are anti-cancel culture and then points out that Cotton’s bill is trying to cancel the 1619 Project and seems awfully like blatant viewpoint discrimination should be promoted and echoed on this topic.

      1. From my understanding, the 1619 project is based on shoddy scholarship (the leader of the project is a journalist, not a historian). I’m fine with Cotton not wanting kids to be taught a project that is based on poor scholarship.

        1. Well some of the contributors are also good historians. And just because something is subject to even fierce criticism from other scholars doesn’t mean it can’t be part of a curriculum. I mean if that was the standard…history would never be taught.

          But to my point: if you are someone who complains about cancel culture, then I can no longer take you seriously on that topic because you’re apparently perfectly fine with a US Senator supporting blatant government viewpoint discrimination to cancel something he doesn’t like.

          1. You don’t think 1619 is revisionism?

            1. I do, actually. It essentializes stuff that is not essential. But it is no less factual than the current rosy narrative. Probably a bit more so.

              History is the study of narrative more than it’s the study of facts, since all our facts are filtered through someone’s narrative.

              The attacks on it are telling. We already acknowledge some pretty awful sins in our past, and move on with our tarnished legacy (stronger for not lying to ourselves imo). Why is one more suddenly across the line and means the authors must want us to hate America and everything about it?

            2. Sure it is. Revisionism isn’t itself a bad thing. I mean that’s why we still have historians. If historians and others writing about history were not supposed to engage in revisionism, we’d all be reading George Bancroft as the Bible of American history and not have any new books or any understanding of anything else that happened in the past. The only question is whether and how much a revised understanding of the past is supportable. Some of the 1619 Project assertions are probably too bold and unsupported. But some of it is eminently supportable and grounded in history we already know. And that’s what historians and history students discuss all the time. I mean this isn’t a new argument or issue.

        2. So you’re saying cancel culture is okay when it’s something you want to be cancelled. And that you trust Cotton to make that determination on your behalf.

          1. I didn’t expect this litmus test I just came up with would work so well so quickly.

          2. “Cancel culture” debating what should and should not be in a school curriculum.

            The closest analogy to Cancel Culture is the Hollywood Blacklist.

            1. That should read “Cancel culture” is not the same as debating…

          3. Nope. I’m saying poor quality, flawed scholarship should not be taught to our children.

            Do you disagree?

            1. And who should make that determination? Tom Cotton? I mean look at this extensive scholarly rebuttal:

              “The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage.”

              He’s simply trying to suppress speech that he doesn’t like using government power. You’re just lying to yourself about thinking this isn’t illiberal viewpoint discrimination designed to cancel ideas he considers dangerous and bad.

              And again: some scholars criticized it, and some praised and participated in it. That’s the nature of historical inquiry. The people who should make the determination of whether it fits into how they want to approach American history are the actual teachers. Not grandstanding demagogues who have nothing productive to add to the conversation and is seeking cheap political points.

      2. You are comparing apples and oranges in terms of what “cancellation” means. Cotton’s actions would be analogous if he demanded that Nikole Hannah-Jones be fired by the NY Times, and threatened to cause the Times substantial economic harm until they complied, and threatened any other media outlet with the same treatment if they were to hire NH-J.

        He has not done anything like that.

        Moreover, I’d bet that Cotton would love to debate NH-J on the merits of the actual claims she makes in the Project. That is the diametric opposite of “cancellation”, where ideas are deemed out of bounds for discussion or debate.

        1. He’s trying to make it out of bounds in schools. He wants to cancel it as a legitimate discussion point. He’s literally asking the Secretary of Education to calculate how much teaching it costs and remove those funds from schools. I mean how would you feel if a liberal Congressperson targeted books or topics in this fashion? You’d rightly think it was BS.

          And I don’t think Cotton wants an honest debate with NH-J. He is nothing but a demagogue. And a mendacious one at that. I mean look at his statement:

          “The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage.”

          1. It’s only racially divisive if you think that acknowledging the role of slavery in American society should be divisive. He thinks acknowledging racial disparity is itself divisive. He thinks maintaining myths is more important.

          2. “Revisionist history” is a favorite scare word of conservatives, but it’s a meaningless term. All history is revisionist in some way. That’s what historians do: study and revise our understandings of the past. The only thing that matters is whether it is any good. And while parts of the project are debatable by scholars, Cotton isn’t concerned with that: he’s concerned that someone is revising founding myths.

          3. Claiming our nation was founded on principles of freedom and equality is a Whiggish myth and is historically illiterate. We have extensive records of the founding era: they were not talking about freedom and equality as the end all be all of the reasons for founding the nation. Some of the founding documents, like the Declaration, contain noble prose that reflect those values. These words were later used against people like the drafters by slaves, freedmen, abolitionists, and women who were denied that promise. But, it took awhile, and it took a war. Indeed, Cotton thinks it’s cancel culture to remove monuments to the men who fought to make sure those things he thinks are noble were denied to millions.

          He doesn’t want a debate, he wants to make performative tweets, press releases, and resolutions that are bound to fail. He’s not producing his own scholarship in response to the project. And
          I doubt could not produce good scholarship if he tried. He is simply the next great American demagogue who checks off an alarming number of boxes on Umberto Eco’s criteria for Ur-Fascism. It is simply remarkable that people take such a man seriously.

        2. Also: this seems like a pretty blatant violation of the First Amendment. I mean this is classic viewpoint discrimination. If passed there would literally be a work of literature singled out for disfavored treatment in the U.S. Code.

          1. “Also: this seems like a pretty blatant violation of the First Amendment. I mean this is classic viewpoint discrimination. If passed there would literally be a work of literature singled out for disfavored treatment in the U.S. Code.”

            I got news for you LawTalkingGuy, if the government pays for the schools, the government gets a say in what is taught in the schools. If Cotton objected to paying federal funds to teach that the earth was flat, would you say his objection was unconstitutional? The decision, let’s say, not to teach the history of the Aleutian Islands, or not to teach calculus until the senior year of high school is viewpoint discrimination.

            1. *The unconstitutional conditions doctrine has entered the chat*

              1. 😀

                This continues to deliver, ltg.

                1. Although after reading some about some more case law on this issue, there seems to be a lot of debate about how it’s applied. Especially with the twist of public schools. So I might have been too confident. But I can’t imagine SCOTUS thinking Congress singling out a particular piece of literature for disfavored treatment wouldn’t have First Amendment implications (or federalism ones for that matter).

                  1. A fine point with respect to SKofNJ’s comment, but really you were never talking about theoretical legality, only hypocrisy.

          2. Thank you for responding (and I am not being sarcastic).

            I am going to leave the 1st Amdt issue to the side, because I have not had a chance to think it through.

            I’ll start with where I agree with you (point 2) — “revisionist history” should not be a charged term. The question is whether the revision makes our understanding of history more or less accurate — see the discussions of the Salem Witch Trials and the Inquisition above as an interesting example.

            Unfortunately, the 1619 Project makes our understanding less accurate. It is most definitely racially divisive, because it gives incredibly simplistic answers to complex questions. Basically, in the Project’s view, slavery and racism explain every social issue in America today and, for that matter, since the Founding.

            It is not like slavery and racism have not been important factors in the development of the US, but there are a multitude of other factors as well, and that is why the Project is lousy history. It reads like a very good high school paper, and a mediocre undergrad term paper.

            I would also note that Cotton is Harvard/Harvard for undergrad and law school, so the Reverend Art should love him.

            “3. Claiming our nation was founded on principles of freedom and equality is a Whiggish myth and is historically illiterate.”

            I am not sure what you mean by Whiggish — I understand it to mean the notion that history is an arc toward whatever outcome you prefer.

            In any event, your statement is just as historically illiterate. The Founders were rejecting the notion of a hereditary aristocracy. That was a very big deal, since hereditary aristocracies had been the norm pretty much worldwide since forever.

            You will object that the Founders did not take their ideals to their logical conclusion, and that makes them hypocrites. Or you could view them as doing the best they could under the circumstances. It is like coming home and proudly saying, “I got a 97 on this test” and your Dad or Mom says, seriously, “Why didn’t you get 100?”

            1. The idea that the Founders never came close to living up to their rhetoric of liberty doesn’t change the lofty promise that America represents and continues to strive for.

              This is not a new idea; Frederick Douglass has some pretty robust thoughts on that.

              1. There is a big difference between saying “that the Founders never came close to living up to their rhetoric of liberty” and saying that the notion that “our nation was founded on principles of freedom and equality is a Whiggish myth and is historically illiterate”.

                The former is a fair criticism, the latter is, to put it bluntly, itself historically illiterate.

  20. With so much down time now, I’ve finally gotten to watch “Mad Men”, now free on IMDb tv. I grew up during the period depicted and am waiting to see at what point things jog my memory.

    Currently going through Season 3. Even in the field of advertising, where the series assumes most people are assholes, I find it hard to believe that men got away with being such pigs, at least to that extent. And so much smoking was going on in Season 1 that at one point the smoke shot through the vent in the CPU and hit me in the face.

    1. Rather than be an accurate depiction of life and social mores in the 1960s, Mad Men is an accurate depiction of a 21st Century liberal’s idea of life and social mores in the 1960s.

      1. Really?? Thus far, the show’s depictions of “free love”, noncomformists, and “beatniks” have been pretty negative.

        1. I was really surprised when I tried to watch it. I found it unpleasant and amateurish.

          1. By season 3 all the philandering is getting repetitive and boring. It doesn’t seem like a man and a woman can meet in an office without smooching within two minutes as soon as everyone’s gone. Also I’ve seen way to many woman-resists-then-submits moments.

            There are some nice touches, though. In the episode when Don’s child is born, he has a heart to heart with another waiting father, who is told that the baby is fine, and later Don passes them in the hall, the father pushing the mother, both gaunt and gray-faced. Obviously the baby didn’t live. Also Betty’s dreams.

        2. Full disclosure, I only watched the first 3 episodes, because the anachronisms were getting on my nerves.

          One example of what I was talking about was a picnic scene, where the affluent family left all their litter in the park. Do you really thing that people, especially affluent people, behaved that way until they saw the Crying Indian ad and then changed their behavior on a dime? Please. Littering was always viewed as low class, and something that a family like that would not be caught dead doing it.

          1. When the series was ongoing, I kept reading about how the producers were careful to avoid anachronisms in fashion, cars, that globe behind Don’s office, etc. Certainly they keep hitting you over the head, via snatches of TV and radio news, as to exactly what day it was. (The summer of 1963, for example, was a painfully slow crawl.) But I don’t believe the philandering (or the drinking) was that pervasive. Perhaps the show reflects a later generation’s view of what the 1960’s were like through media creations of the era — e.g., “Coffee, Tea or Me?” or “Promises, Promises” — which as we know are an imperfect lens as to any time period.

            1. By anachronisms, I meant the way the characters behave, rather than their wardrobe and sets.

  21. Anyone have any good comet viewing?

    1. None. Its gotten me to take a lot more evening walks among the DC monuments which is lovely, but I’ve not seen it at all.

      1. Same here at 42° N, Sarcastr0.
        I watched the Hale-Bopp light show at Sugarbush VT. One of the most amazing things I’ve seen.

        1. Yeah – I saw that one in upstate NY. Like the cover of the sci-fi pulps I loved at the time, only for real.

    2. Yes, glorious (from rural north central Florida). My husband and daughter could see it well with the naked eye–the tail was 3-4 fingers (from an outstretched hand) long,
      While my son and I could see only the head of the comet unaided, it was wonderful through binoculars.

  22. I wonder if it would work to have a persistent ‘Good Books’ thread.

    Here’s a couple of books I’d recommend everyone read:

    1)’Bloodlands’. mentioned above.
    2)Some selection of Holocaust memoirs. There are quite a few; just off the top ‘Survival in Auschwitz’ by Primo Levi comes to mind.
    3)’Five Years to Freedom’ by James Rowe – he was an army guy kept in a cage by the Viet Cong for five years in SVN. It is a study of how one maintains their sanity in horrible conditions, a lot like the Holocaust memoirs I suppose.
    4)Frederick Douglass’ memoir. For one thing, he writes beautiful prose. The other thing is that he was born into the very best slave life had to offer – he was the designated playmate for a benevolent master’s kid. Then the kind master dies, and it’s time to settle the estate – oops, time to sell people down the river. It graphically illustrates how even the best face of slavery was horrible.
    5)Whichever volume (3?) of ‘The Mutiny on the Bounty’ that describes Bligh’s small boat journey across the Pacific. Blight may (or not?) have been an insufferable martinet that drove his crew to mutiny, but he was absolutely the man to captain that voyage.
    6)’Endurance’ or some other account of Shackleton’s failed Antarctic expedition. That he brought out the entire crew with only one death just boggles the mind.

    There are others – anything by Churchill is worth reading just for the prose. His ‘Life of Marlborough’ and ‘History of the English Speaking Peoples’ are both excellent. Grant’s memoirs are also beautiful prose.

    What other must-read, life changing books do people remember?

    1. The novels of Haruki Murakami were life-changing for me. “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” being the best, I think. And I don’t know about life-changing, but if anyone hasn’t read Roger Zelazny’s Amber series of novels, they are very very good. Fantasy, I suppose, but don’t let that dissuade you.

    2. Here are a few that are great (IMO) but maybe not as famous as other “great” reads:

      1) A Soldier of the Great War – Mark Helperin. I think this is one of the best English-language novels to have appeared since 1945.

      2) Day of the Jackal – Frederick Forsyth. The best thriller evah.

      3) Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh. Waugh’s first novel, and laugh-out-loud funny.

      4) Lucky Jim — Kingsley Amis. As far as I can tell, Amis was only able to turn a funny idea into a funny novel once, and it was this one. The description of a hangover is staggeringly funny.

      5) Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann. It looks long and boring, but everybody that reads it, likes it.

      6). The Forsyte Saga – John Galsworthy. See Buddenbrooks above.

      1. The Day of the Jackal

        A piece of the carpet flew up and hit him in the face

        Read that ~45 years ago and still love the line[or my remembrance of it]
        REad the book to find out why it is great

  23. The recent attack on a federal judge, the mob attempting to burn down a federal courthouse, and the threats by local officials to arrest federal officers, reminded me of the events leading up to In re Neagle, 135 U.S. 1 (1890).

    David S. Terry was the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, a position he resigned in 1859 after shooting and killing U.S. Senator David Broderick in a duel. At Terry’s murder trial, none of the state’s witnesses had arrived after a rushed jury selection, so the trial judge ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty, which it did. Terry would be succeeded as Chief Justice by Stephen J. Field, who would later be elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Lincoln.

    Terry and Field would cross paths again 30 years later, when Field, as circuit justice, ruled against Terry’s wife in a sensational case, essentially negating a state court decision that had awarded her a large sum. Terry, who had threatened and attacked court personnel throughout the trial was found in contempt by Field and sentenced to six months, which Terry served in their entirety. Terry threatened to horsewhip Field if he ever got out.

    On August 14, 1889, Terry confronted Field on a train platform and was shot and killed by U.S. Marshall David Neagle, who had been assigned to protect Field. Both Field and Neagle were arrested for murder, though Field was later released. A federal habeas petition was filed on Neagle’s behalf and was granted. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled 6-2 (with Field recused) that Neagle was acting in the course of his duty, though no specific statute allowed for marshall’s being assigned to protect judges, and was not subject to being tried under state law (in essence, creating a “necessary and proper” clause for the executive branch).

    1. I read a paper in law school positing that we should end lifetime tenure because circuit riding killed so many judges back in the day that it must have been intended.

      It was not persuasive, but had many great anecdotes about dangers encountered by generally old judges riding the circuit.

  24. Did I miss any discussion of the Florida felons ruling?

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