Thursday Open Thread

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  1. You could fix the problem of bias censorship on social media without violating the First Amendment by requiring social media companies to provide basic due process protections for users such as fair notice of censorship rules (ie written rules that meet the vagueness standard) and a right to appeal and correct.

    This would effectively prohibit the most nefarious types of censorship like shadow banning and allow users to make educated decisions about whether they want to use a particular social media platform.

    Such a rule is viewpoint neutral and does not restrict the social media companies’ rights to control who they associate with or put the government in the business of judging political bias.
    The burdens it would impose are easily justifiable as a cost of accepting 230 immunities and arguably already inherent in section 230’s good-faith requirements.

    1. I’ve long advocated to institute a comprehensive transparency program where the companies provide a clear set of rules and definitions (ie what consists of ‘misinformation’) regular vetted statistics of who and what and why they moderated. The vetting is the important part so they don’t get down to any funny business like Twitter when they claimed they didn’t moderate trends but ended up having a control panel dedicated to it). It would solve a lot but I’m sure they’ll come up with some excuse why they don’t want to do it. Plus a lot of Republicans are incompetent so they haven’t been pushing this.

      1. I suspect it’s somewhat like the Republican response to the IRS targeting scandal: Publicly they had to be outraged, privately, it was their internal challengers who were being targeted, so they didn’t actually mind.

        A key dynamic of American politics is that the Republican party establishment has been at war with its own base for decades now. Basically since the ’94 election put the GOP in charge of Congress, and they visibly took a dive on almost all the issues they’d been running on, and the conservative base realized they were the victims of a bait and switch operation.

        They’ve been fighting off internal challenges ever since, have actually sacrificed seats in Congress they might have won, because challengers got the nomination. They tried to sacrifice Trump that way in 2016, but didn’t quite manage it.

        1. Brett, at the risk of sounding like Arthur Kirkland, does it occur to you that part of the problem may be that the base is completely nuts?

          I’ve said this here before: I served a single term on a city council and the first thing I learned once I got there is that it’s easy to throw rocks from the sidelines; it’s something else entirely to actually have the responsibility of governance. People come to Washington with all these ideas about how to fix things, only to find out that most of those ideas have little connection to reality and how things actually work, and in many cases would cause massive injury. So what you call a bait and switch may actually be getting a dose of reality therapy.

          1. That base is, increasingly, the world of Marjorie Taylor Greene. Check her — and the other Republican nominees who endorse her views — and reach an independent conclusion about how complete the nuttiness seems.

          2. Well, of course the Republican base is “completely nuts” from the perspective of Democrats, just as the Democratic base is completely nuts from the perspective of Republicans.

            But I had this impression that, in a functioning democracy, what ideas get represented is a function of votes, not of some random person’s idea of what is “completely nuts”.

            I put it to you that, if the Republican office holders have a systematically different notion of “completely nuts” from Republican voters, and are just lying to the voters to placate them, in some important sense the Republican party is broken.

            1. The Republican Party is broken, and so is the Democratic party; neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump would have gotten within a mile of the nomination of a healthy party. But that aside:

              It’s not so much that office holders have a different idea of “completely nuts” than does their base. It’s that the base has totally unrealistic expectations. We can start, just as an example, with expecting good government services, less taxes, and no increase to the deficit, all at the same time. You can have any two of those, but not all three.

              So, what do you do if you’re an office holder? Do you candidly tell your base that they’re nuts? Not if you want to get re-elected. Instead, you say whatever you need to say to get re-elected and then enact as much of what the base wants as you reasonably can. Which may not be much.

              1. “It’s not so much that office holders have a different idea of “completely nuts” than does their base. It’s that the base has totally unrealistic expectations. ”

                I think it’s something more than that. Several generations of Republicans run on opposing abortion, put a majority on the Supreme court, and Roe v Wade remains secure. The GOP runs on repealing the ’94 AWB, and doesn’t touch it. They run on repealing the ACA, and don’t even have a model piece of legislation for how to do that, when they end up in a position to.

                Gingrich proposes a “Contract with America”, that includes balanced budget and term limits amendments, and they’re both stage managed, brought to the floor in multiple versions, so that everybody who needs to can vote for them without risk of their actually passing and being sent to the states.

                I think the GOP establishment is ideologically different from the party’s base, actually opposed to doing the base’s will, not just dubious about the feasibility of doing that will.

                1. How does it happen that the Replican base keeps electing the RINOs? Why aren’t all the Republicans in congress serial wankers like Nunes and Jordon and that dope McCarthy?

                  1. The party is pretty effective at gatekeeping, and isn’t above sabotaging the campaigns of challengers who happen to win primaries.

                    1. Oh, man, I’ve just discovered 190 proof rum, which explains my late reply to this dreck. So you think that Republican disloyalty is the reason for the defeat of knobs like Roy Moore? Does it not occur to you that the reason that crackpot morons like Roy Moore, and maybe that idiot woman in Georgia (if the Flying Spaghetti Monster may reach down and touch her with his noodley appendage) get defeated is because they are nuts?

                2. They run on repealing the ACA, and don’t even have a model piece of legislation for how to do that, when they end up in a position to.

                  The reason for that is obvious. They want to have the ACA as an issue to yell about. They don’t give a rat’s ass about health care. This way, any problem whatsoever can be blamed on ACA. If they repealed and replaced it the monkey would be on their back.

                  And guess what, nothing that would actually work would be acceptable to the base.

          3. People come to Washington and then forget why they went there.
            Michelle Bachmann put it best, Congress is a place where one can be quite comfortable, or you can do what you promised to do.

            And, by definition, in a Democracy, the base can not be nuts.

            1. Or, maybe, one comes to Washington and sees how things really are.

              See: Rick Perry who wanted to end the DoE and once he got there was like ‘whoa. Y’all do some serious stuff here.’

              1. Yes, that’s what somebody who has forgotten why they went there thinks: That they’ve seen how things really are. They’ve forgotten they were sent there to change how things really are.

                1. Sometimes you realize things are the way they are for a reason.

                  Sometimes, yeah, they get caught up.

                  But not every failure to meet zealous rhetoric is an actual betrayal.

                2. Brett, you don’t even know what Sarcastr0 was talking about. Perry thought the DoE was some hippy-dippy agency proposing do-gooder environmental ideas. He had no idea he had proposed abolishing the agency which runs the the nation’s nuclear defense infrastructure.

              2. Most of the DoE ought to be DoD — most of what they do involves nukes.

                Changing your opinion when you learn that is fair.

                1. For warheads, you want to bring the science. And whether atomic or chemical, DoE has the science.

                  For cleanups, well, nuclear reactors been producing waste for a long time as well.

                  1. DARPA is the military and they invented the internet.
                    Scientists can be hired by anyone — Harry Truman didn’t want the military controlling nukes, hence the segregation.

                    1. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Again.

                      DARPA does high-risk, high-reward science. Like inventing a new type of explosive.
                      Optimizing the existing science is applied research, and that’s DoE.

                      DoD controls the nukes, since most of that is delivery vehicle. DoE still does the warheads, because that’s what they’re good at.

        2. “A key dynamic of American politics is that the Republican party establishment has been at war with its own base for decades now>”

          I was at CPAC in 2010 when the civil war between the establishment and the TEA Party was breaking out all around me, although Phyllis Schlafly wrote _A Choice, not an Echo_ in 1964 about how the base had been sold out to Dewey and the NE establishment.

          I think it will hinge on this election — if Trump wins, and I think he will, he hopefully will bring in enough of a majority in Congress to clean house like FDR did. And if he doesn’t, its like the Whig party before it and we just leave.

          1. You see the Republicans taking the House?

            1. I think that depends on how much the Democrats overplay their hand with the riots. And the extent to which their allies in the media can protect them from the blowback.

              Right now the projections I’m seeing have the Democrats losing 10 seats. They’d have to lose 19 to lose control of the House.

              Could go either way in the Senate, but I’d expect the Republicans to lose it unless they have a good year, because they have about twice as many seats at risk this election.

              So, if it’s a good year for the Republicans they *might* get back the House, if it’s mediocre I expect them to lose the Senate, too.

              1. I receive Democratic and Republican polling figures. None I have seen indicates a 10-seat loss for Democrats.

                Putting aside the party polling, Sabato predicts a “modest Democratic gain” and Cook expects a small Democratic gain. Most recent “trend” articles analyses favor Democrats, ranging from a slight bump to a strong trend.

                Do the polls on which you rely exist?

                1. Don’t forget the variance — it’s dangerous to admit to supporting Trump so a lot of people intending to vote Trump/GOP won’t publicly admit it.

        3. Brett, you sound identical to the leftist message boards I read.

          It’s the constant lament of the fringe – my movement is not unpopular; it cannot fail, only be failed.

          1. If the base’s views were unpopular, they wouldn’t have to lie about supporting them, now, would they? The GOP could run pro-abortion candidates, like the Democratic party does, and win elections. They could run candidates in favor of gun control, and win.

            You only lie about your position to get elected when your real position is the one that’s unpopular.

            1. Heard the same thing about Medicare for All.

              Politicians are selected for their ability to say they support all the things and keep a straight face.

            2. Brett, what you’re not factoring in is that gerrymandered districts and two states per senator means you can win elections even if your views are wildly unpopular. It is my contention that if we actually had democratic elections with fairly drawn districts, the GOP would never control Congress again. On issues like abortion, gun control, and single payer health care, the views of the Democrats are far closer to the views of the majority than are the views of the GOP, but it does not matter.

              So the GOP panders to the minority that actually decides elections, and it works for them. And if they really were pro abortion and pro gun control, there would be no need for a GOP; they would simply be Democrats.

              1. Sorry, two senators per state.

              2. Still on the “gerrymandered” kick?

              3. Yeah, what you’re failing to take into account is that gerrymandering, even where it really IS going on, doesn’t magically enable you to win districts where your positions are “wildly unpopular”. It constructs districts where your positions ARE popular.

                I haven’t been talking at all about the popularity of these positions in general. Only their popularity in the districts the members are running in.

                So you can hypothesize that opposition to gun control is “wildly unpopular” in the nation as a whole, and it still wouldn’t explain why a representative elected out of a district where opposition to gun control IS popular would run on opposing gun control, and then not act according to his campaign commitments. What does he care if the position he got elected on isn’t popular two districts over?

      2. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but what’s to stop a provider from just saying “we can take down your posts for whatever reason we want?” Are you assuming that users will gravitate away from such providers? I’m skeptical that’s the case.

        1. A regulation requiring clear rules should prohibit any rule that gives the companies such authority. The standard could effectively impose the 14th Amendment “vagueness” standard, which makes laws giving arbitrary enforcement authority unconstitutional. the same would apply here.

          I am assuming a few things. First, I think some companies would be hesitant to adopt a written rule that is overtly partisan. Second, if a company did, i think many would be less likely to use that sight.

          1. If the point here is to pretend you’re still respecting the companies’ First Amendment rights, I don’t think this works.

            Because the First Amendment protects speech that is vague, inconsistent, arbitrary, and not at all transparent.

            If the point is just to make companies behave the way you want, please proceed.

    2. I’ve always thought that “truth in advertising” was the way to push back at Big Tech censorship. It is fine if they want to do it, but they need to be transparent about what they censor and why, and there should be some way of at least getting a meaningful administrative review out of the company that gives you a real explanation.

      We apply this “consumer rights” model to other industries, especially monopolies, and it seems to work rather well. Remember cell phone fees and taxes back in the 2000’s? You don’t get all that nonsense now because of similar “truth in advertising” laws.

      1. I had the same thought. Condition CDA immunity on full and truthful disclosure of your takedown policies. You are free to censor all you want, but be upfront about it. Lie about it, and you lose.

        1. So, if Twitter, for example, loses CDA immunity, what happens? What is the remedy for someone who claims to be the victim of viewpoint censorship. That is, what is the cause of action? And, if Twitter loses CDA immunity, that means that Twitter can be sued for the content of Donald Trump’s twits. If Twitter loses CDA immunity how will that lessen their inclination to censor? Any content which might give anybody anywhere a cause of action will have to be censored or Twitter will die in court.

          1. Assuming that the two immunities in the section 230 are linked, a company that censored in bad fait would open themselves to liability for other user’s libelous posts.

          2. Good question. I would say that the victim of censorship should be entitled to sue and receive a declaration that the website lost its CDA immunity. That would have to be established through a Congressional enactment. It is debatable whether that would satisfy Article III standing.

            1. “I would say that the victim of censorship should be entitled to sue and receive a declaration that the website lost its CDA immunity. ”

              ok, Alex Jones gets to sue twitter for bad faith and wins. What does Alex Jones get? And, in the aftermath, how does Twitter not get sued for the content of Alex Jones’s, and Donald Trump’s. twits?

        2. “Condition CDA immunity on full and truthful disclosure of your takedown policies. You are free to censor all you want, but be upfront about it. Lie about it, and you lose.”

          Would you miss the Volokh Conspiracy?

  2. For a more detailed analysis of how due process protections would work, and why other methods of addressing bias censorship violate the First Amendment, see https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/04/heres-how-prager-u-should-fight-social-media-censorship-instead-of-losing-in-courts/

    1. Ramer, you are advocating government censorship of the press. If you think publishing in America is broken, you are right. The CDA broke it, by enabling a monopolistic business model, and creating giant companies with insufficient diversity of opinion—and even less regard for either opinion or facts. To fix publishing in America, repeal Section 230 of the CDA. No has yet proposed a better solution.

  3. Maybe it is me, but is anyone else as particularly concerned that we had false representations made to the FISA Court? And that a recent audit done by the IG indicates it is not an isolated act?

    Leave aside the politics (hard, I know in the current climate). But what happened here (and elsewhere) by government agencies is just mind-blowing. How do you really fix that?

    1. Did anybody not know that the FISA court was a rubber stamp, run by judges who probably assumed they were being fed lies, and didn’t care?

      Yeah, I guess a lot of people didn’t know that, but it’s been evident for some time.

      How do you fix it? I don’t know that there is any fixing it. We let the intelligence services start spying on Americans on a huge scale, and the politicians we’d have to work through to fix it are probably subject to being blackmailed. At least they act like they are.

    2. There are two standard approaches to fixing corruption.
      One is the watchdog, an organization with the authority and mandate to investigate and expose wrong behavior. Although that might seem to be acting too late, it has a preventive effect if the malfeasor thinks they are likely to be caught. A watchdog needs to be independent of its target, and kept apolitical, goals that can be pretty tough to accomplish. The IG model fits in this bin.
      The other is known in business and government as “the two-person rule”, and is based on the theory that the more people who have to cooperate to perform some act the less likely it is to be corrupted. So if a single agent can collect evidence and control what the judge sees they will have more opportunity to cheat than if it requires two or more. I think the FISA process was put together in a hurry and could be made more robust – of course it could also just be shut down entirely.

      1. Maybe just no more FISA.

        1. FISA court has always been a Potemkin court.

          Secret ex parte proceedings. Relies on self serving, unverifiable, affidavits from intelligence organs which are paid to lie and cheat as needed.

          In a regular criminal case, warrants are subject to scrutiny by opposing counsel after the fact with examination of the officers involved. Since the intelligence gained is never used in a court, FISA warrants are never normally reviewed.

          Its a mockery of due process, like Orcs are a mockery of Elves.

          1. I thought Orcs were a mockery of dwarfs, not elves.
            (Finally, a Thursday “open” topic that relates to our real-world problems!!!)

            1. Nope. Elves. Tolkein from The Two Towers: “Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves.”

              1. Wow. That is a Steven-Colbert-level of Middle Earth knowledge! Color me impressed. Thanks for the correction.

        2. That is where my head is as well, Sarcastr0.

      2. The third is Crucifixion — to *so* visibly punish a few malefactors that no one dares to do it again. A Nurenburg trial.

        1. I’ve sometimes thought that Trump should give the NSA 10 minutes to evacuate their data center, bomb it to rubble, and then just announce, “The NSA has been spying on Americans’ communications for years, I’ve just destroyed their blackmail files. Members of Congress, you don’t have to live in fear of them anymore, we can reclaim our country from the spooks.”

          Just a dream, of course. They doubtless have backups of the juicy stuff.

          1. Crucifixion . . . domestic carpet bombing . . .

            And people say the Republican base is nuts?

          2. Brett, it isn’t just the NSA, it’s private actors.

    3. How do we fix it?

      It would be hard to make misrepresentations to the FISA court if the FISA court had been eliminated. That’s the fix.

  4. Is political science even science?

    1. Technically, yes. In practical actuality, no, because while there scientific method is used, there is so little replication, there is only one “law” that has come out of the entire field’s history.

      That said, it’s not different from economics really in practice, but people for some reason tend to believe economists more than political scientists despite a similar track record. But economists often take a self-appointed role as a “savior”.

      1. Actually, economics relies quite heavily on empirical methods for testing hypotheses. At least, serious economists do.

        Of course it’s more difficult in some ways to do that in economics than in hard sciences, and psychology, because it’s often impossible to set up a controlled experiment and you have to work with data that comes from various sources. But they do try.

        It’s the BS artists, include pretend-economists like Kudlow, who make shit up.

        1. And political science relies quite heavily on empirical methods for hypothesis testing too. But the way the hard sciences work, is that there is enough replication of a hypothesis tested that eventually we get “laws”. That’s the point I’m making, is that either because experiments are difficult to do, or (usually) because political scientists themselves don’t do replications (or even re-testing the same theory) that we will never in political science develop a base body of knowledge like in say, chemistry.

          Also, you ironically point out the problem with the economist as self-appointed savior. Bias influences to much. I suspect you’re a fan of Paul Krugman, who twice as full of hot air as Kudlow.

          1. Comparing Krugman to Kudlow marks you as an idiot on the subject of economics.

            I know you don’t like Krugman’s politics, but he is an extremely smart and knowledgeable economist. Kudlow is nothing but a BS artist who has no training in economics and doesn’t a know adamn thing about it.

            1. Speaking of the markets after Trump won the election in 2016: “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.” …”So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. “

              1. Wow. Somebody made an economic prediction that turned out to be wrong. Must be a total moron. Is that the best you can do, or are you going to scream “Enron” next?

                Do you even have a clue what economists do? What research Krugman has done? Or anyone? Or is Stephen Moore your idea of an economist?

                1. ok, I hate to be sleeping with the enemy, but what is the track record of economists overall? Do smart economists like Krugman do better than dopes like Kudlow and (dumbest man on the face of the earth with a PhD) Peter Navarro ( and, why does nobody pronounce his name correctly?) There is an old joke back into the late 70s, that I am personally aware of, if you join all the economists end to end, they won’t stretch far enough to reach a conclusion.

                2. I thought we were discussing whether economics was a science. And falsifiablity is part of science, isn’t it? That was a pretty big mistake, what part of his economic theory did Krugman have to change? Or did he cop to a math error?

                  Neither. A few days later he admitted it wasn’t a scientific prediction at all. A few days after that he revised it to accelerating growth for a couple of years.

                  So, how do you know when Krugman is doing economics, and when he’s just venting or spewing political propaganda? By waiting to see if his prediction comes true? That’s not science.

                  He’s a political pundit, who incidentally is an economist.

        2. Maybe hot air, but not nearly as much cocaine.

          1. That’s legit funny.

            1. If Kudlow ever finds his pants, he’ll be unstoppable.

        3. I have trouble with psychology as a science. If you want to know why, look into the work of Daryl Bem, Cornell emeritus. What many critics found shocking about his “work” was not the conclusions, but that in science as practiced by psycholgists it was flawless.

          1. I never heard of Bem, but there are frauds everywhere.

          2. Also, you can’t condemn an entire field because of one dubious character or paper.

            Is physics worthless because of that cold fusion business?

            1. No, but was the cold fusion farce good science as science was practiced by physicists at the time?

              If good scientific investigation and experiment, as practiced by physicists, would lead a respected physicist to “prove” that the earth is flat and the conclusion was published in a respected physics journal, I’d say that the way that physicists practice science and publish their findings would be worthy of being questioned.

              1. Cold fusion collapsed because it couldn’t be duplicated.

                Something like 2/3 of Psych experiments can’t be duplicated.

                1. Dear Mr Ed. Bingo. (wtf)!

    2. I suppose you can ask that question of all the social sciences. They are all academic disciplines, but many don’t generate and test empirically falsifiable theories. Is political science more science-y than linguistics?

      1. I would say that even linguistics can make some few falsifiable hypotheses, such as on dead precursor languages, common root words, and so on. “Falsifiable” being pretty weak, but still meaningful compared to gender studies, political science, and all the other modern basket weaving studies.

    3. The social sciences are more humanities than sciences.

  5. Just a thought based on some comments made the other day. I don’t understand the virulent hatred expressed by liberals for the Confederacy that isn’t expressed for some of our countries other previous enemies, like Japan and even Germany.

    I don’t want to defend the Confederates if anybody answers this comment. As I said before, I think they fought honorably but for a wrong cause. I would like, if possible, one of the usual suspects who says “feh slavers, grrr I hate the South for it, even today!” to speak up and express why they feel they way they do.

    1. Because slavery is indefensible. Their rationale included that Africans were subhuman — yet sex with those subhumans was accepted after a fashion while sex with barnyard animals was indefensible by their own laws, culture, and religion. That kind of hypocrisy was rife with the slavocracy. All those who defended slavery to the point of war and close to a million dead were dishonorable hypocrites of the first water.

      1. As opposed to how Nazis treated their captors and quite openly denigrated “non-Aryan” people?

        Or how the Imperial Japanese behaved towards people not just of different race but of different ethnicity, especially considering that the Yayoi forebears of modern Japanese came from either Korea or China?

        Is slavery is more indefensible than the Holocaust? Was Japanese forced labor and human experimentation (e.g. Unit 731) during WW2 more defensible than chattel slavery in America?

        You failed to address to the question.

        1. Nobody deserving of the slightest bit of respect claims that the Nazis “fought honorably but for a wrong cause.” I have never encountered anybody who defended the atrocities of the Japanese empire. But, living in Texas one encounters people on a daily basis (well, before the Trump virus) who defend the honor of the confederacy. Claiming that the insurrectionists fought honorably is, in my opinion, defending their “Cornerstone.”

          1. Watch any number of WWII movies, the most recent one I saw was Hacksaw Ridge from 2016. The Japanese are portrayed as honorable men and brave warriors.

            1. After reading Flyboys (and then Shogun after it) as an adult, I couldn’t understand why we had been taught in elementary school about “honorable” Samurai culture.

        2. The closest there even was to a question was

          As I said before, I think they fought honorably but for a wrong cause. I would like, if possible, one of the usual suspects who says “feh slavers, grrr I hate the South for it, even today!” to speak up and express why they feel they way they do.

          I am not one of those. I spoke up anyway. What is your beef?

      2. It is easy to make statement like “slavery is indefensible” given our modern sensibilities. But, that just isn’t a true and accurate historical statement. It WAS extremely defensible and at one time practiced by just about every civilization across the world. It WAS the norm. People had giant property and financial interest in their slaves and the output they produced. It’s hardly a moral equivalent, but you see all the pushback that comes when the “greens” want to shut down mining operations. A lot of people have livelihoods in those industries and by shutting them down you have ripple effects through many small communities. The same was true with slavery.

        This is why wars were fought over it. The question of slavery was not an easy one to answer and was a major societal conflict for at least a century. And ending it wasn’t an easy answer. That is why it was grappled with so much especially in the Western World.

        1. How is it possible for an American, or a Dane, to reach adulthood and be so ignorant of history. The mind boggles when exposed to such fatuous crap.

          1. StellaLink, you do know that slavery still exists today, don’t you?

            40.3 MILLION slaves in places like Iran, Cambodia, Pakistan, The Sudan, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Burundi, Eritrea, and most notably North Korea.

            And while Jimmy omitted it, I won’t — how about the northern company town and it’s company store? That was a form of slavery, too.

            And did you know that Ben Franklin was an escaped slave? Yep, that’s why he fled Boston, he was indentured to a printer.

            1. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, do you even consider the meaning of the words that you write? Everybody here, I would suppose, would accept the proposition that “slavery is indefensible” but here we have somebody defending the institution of chattel slavery, as it existed in the U S prior to 1865 (and lastly in Delaware and, I believe, Kentucky). Clearer Mr Ed: slavery as it existed in the United States wasn’t so bad because North Korea.

              I did not know that Franklin had been indentured, but I remain ignorant of what his status has to do with the current discussion.

              1. More like, even the people going nuts about the Confederacy don’t really view slavery the way they do. Because, where’s the world-wide crusade to stamp slavery out? There are people living in slavery today! What good do they get out of moral posturing about the Confederacy?

                If it’s a monstrous evil that has to be erased from the world, why are we not about the business of erasing it?

                Because it’s moral posturing, that’s why.

                1. Apparently, we have entered a gorm free zone.

                2. Oh fuck you. In your fevered brain nobody you disagree with ever, ever, says or does anything in good faith.

                  And you’re getting worse.

          2. So you really think ending slavery was as easy as passing a law and saying “there you go” and there wouldn’t have been immense economic impacts? If anything it boggles the mind that someone so ignorant can operate a computer.

            1. Did I suggest that ending slavery was easy or painless? As you are probably incapable of answering that question without assistance I will tell you: no.

              You have offered the anachronism defense of slavery in the United States. Yes, you suggest, slavery is indefensible given our modern sensibilities. It’s sort of like spousal rape. We all know it’s wrong today, but not so long ago people didn’t understand it. Of course, both assertions are wrong. Slavery was recognized as wrong by, probably, most Americans before the Civil War including by many of its practitioners. After the civil war, the “Lost Cause” contingent claimed that everybody knew slavery was wrong all along but that the Civil War wasn’t about the “Cornerstone” of southern society at all, it was about dignity and honor and individual freedom and a bunch of other bullshit.

              1. I think you need to go back to the history books…

                1. Perhaps you need to supply some actual arguments instead of bare assertive slurs. What history exactly do you think he has wrong?

                  1. The whole thing is wrong. That is patently obvious.

                    1. So, if Twitter, for example, loses CDA immunity, what happens? What is the remedy for someone who claims to be the victim of viewpoint censorship. That is, what is the cause of action? And, if Twitter loses CDA immunity, that means that Twitter can be sued for the content of Donald Trump’s twits. If Twitter loses CDA immunity how will that lessen their inclination to censor? Any content which might give anybody anywhere a cause of action will have to be censored or Twitter will die in court.

                    2. I have no idea how the previous comment got placed here. My intent was to respond to the assertion, “The whole thing is wrong. That is patently obvious.” Of course, any response would be superfluous.

            2. What would have been the economic impacts?

              On who?

              Because I think they would have been quite favorable for the emancipated slaves. Not so good for the planters, of course, but since their wealth was pretty much stolen property it’s hard to be sympathetic.

        2. I’d add that there are similar controversies today, that could lead to our society being viewed a century hence as being morally equivalent to the Confederacy, or even worse. Abortion, obviously. Or, more speculatively, cryonics vs burial/cremation.

          1. Irony, I love irony. In a century which side of the abortion debate will be viewed as “morally equivalent to the Confederacy?” My opinion is that if the debate is settled by then it will be the “save the zygotes” crowd. But we’ll have to wait to see.

            1. Butchering babies because people didn’t like the logical conclusion of a voluntary act is pretty barbaric when you think about it.

              1. SAVE THE ZYGOTES!!!!

                1. The zygote has no rights the born alive are obligated to respect!

        3. Sure slavery is defensible. So are Nazism and Marxism, and the latter is defended daily by thousands of academics.

          What I pointed out was the sheer hypocrisy of the slavocracy, both defending and attacking barnyard buggery, and willing to start and continue a war which killed close to a million who were, by their own definition, more human than slaves.

          Who the fuck goes to war, killing 1 million humans, defending the right to rape 4 million cattle? Hypocrites, that is who. And if you can’t see the hypocrisy, you may as well lump yourself in with them.

          1. “and willing to start and continue a war which killed close to a million who were, by their own definition, more human than slaves.”

            Historically, you got that backwards. The South seceded, and, yes, the seceded over slavery. That was indeed very wrong.

            Then the Union went to war with them, and the war was not to end slavery, that only eventually became something we got from the war because early offers to safeguard slavery didn’t lure the South back in. The Union went to war to prove that the US was a roach motel: You can check in, but you can’t check out.

            Then the South, including the non slave-owning majority of the free population, went to war to establish that they damned well could check out.

            But that real history is too complicated for people who just want to hate on the Confederacy, and want an excuse to despise anybody who puts a Confederate flag on their pickup truck. So you make up this imaginary history where everybody fighting on the Confederacy’s side was fighting to preserve slavery, rather than to establish that they did indeed have a choice about whether to be part of the US.

            1. Brett, everyone knew secession would lead to war. That’s why the South seized the federal munitions.

              This was actually pretty simple, if you look at the primary sources. As I did in middle school.
              But some folks after that have weaved a complicated narrative in an attempt to justify going to war to preserve slavery.

              That liberals only dislike the Confederacy due to their lust to hate the South may be your best made up liberal agenda yet.

              And you’re right there.

        4. I thought conservatives hated “moral relativism.”

      3. “Because slavery is indefensible.”

        Sure but by this logic we could be hating on the American flag just as much. The British made their emancipation proclamations during that war as well, as a war measure, just like Lincoln (keeping the Union slaves, offering the potential of freedom to Confederate slaves to encourage them to rebel and kill Confederates, and crucially offering the Confederates to keep their slaves as well if they submitted to the Union within 90 days).

    2. Because the confederacy was our own back yard. I think Ted Bundy was a vile human being, but if one of my neighbors committed even a single murder I’d probably have a far more visceral emotional response to it, because it’s my own back yard.

      1. Nope, nobody (relatively few) gave a sh&* about the confederacy until the talking heads/twitter blue checkmarks started banging on about it some years ago. I remember not to long too long ago a confederate flag would generally just get a few shrugs. Just like nobody needed transgender bathrooms until it suddenly became the most important issue in the universe a couple years ago. The ‘civil war was about more than just slavery’ theory was also a lot more mainstream not too long ago The Simpsons even made a reference to it unlike its position today which is very close to Holocaust denial.

        Its the whole, all the evil in this world comes from whyte people business. Thats also why pop culture knows a lot more about all the death and destruction foreign Europeans wrought (unless they are communist) while we wear Che shirts or enjoy a nice dinner at the Genghis Khan barbecue.

        1. The fact that an issue is flying below the radar doesn’t mean that people don’t feel strongly about it once it’s called to their attention. You’re right that it has only recently been called to people’s attention. But once people actually think it through, other than confederate apologists, they mostly reach the same conclusion.

        2. Bullshit, Amos.

          It became an issue in part because the total Lost Cause nonsense came to be seen as a big fat sack of lies, and people starting speaking up.

          1. It became an issue because the Democrats lost the South, and were looking for a bit of revenge.

            1. Really? You don’t think Black people have a legitimate complaint about Confederate flags?

              Again, the bad faith claim from Bellmore. Always.

              1. I think black people have as legitimate a complaint about Confederate flags as I, a descendant of people starved out of Ireland by British landlords, (At no time during the potato famine was Ireland not producing enough food to feed everybody: The British were exporting the food even as people starved to death.) have about the Union Jack.

                Which is to say, yes, some of them had long dead ancestors who got treated very badly indeed by other long dead people. And who can’t say that, if you go far enough back? History is a horror show.

                When I was a kid, we used to say, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This wasn’t a false claim about words not hurting your feelings, it was perfectly sound advice about what sorts of hurts you should concern yourself with, had a right to be free of. Physical hurts? A big deal. Hurt feelings? Toughen up, buttercup.

                Toughen up, buttercup. That’s my reply to anybody who takes offense at a Confederate flag.

              2. And the reason I say, “Toughen up, buttercup”, is because any energy you devote to complaining about hurt feelings, is energy you’re not devoting to improving your objective circumstances.

                Heck, if you riot to assuage your hurt feelings, you’re probably degrading your objective circumstances. Well, your neighbors’, anyway, you did get to loot.

                Why exactly does the left want blacks rioting instead of helping themselves? Maybe you’re still just using them and throwing them away?

                1. In physics, energy is conserved.

                  In life, that’s not how energy actually works.

                  The left doesn’t want blacks rioting, you amazing imaginative partisan.

                  1. No, that actually IS how it works in real life. If you’re out rioting, you’re not studying, or applying for a job, or any of a thousand things that might improve your situation. You can only direct your attention to so many things at a time, you can only worry about so many things at a time. You are finite, and can waste your finitude on things that don’t help you.

                    If somebody encourages you to obsess about an old grievance and symbolic wrongs, instead of raising your GPA, they’re using you, not trying to help you.

                    The left is using blacks, not trying to help them.

                    1. Rioting is not a full time job.

      2. That’s a fair, albeit remarkably silly, though understandable given human nature, answer. Thanks. It doesn’t explain, though, the ongoing active dislike though, when bygones are bygones for virtually every other war we’ve ever had. People actively defending the average German soldier or Japanese soldier just doing his misguided duty don’t have the same scorn heaped upon them. For instance, in countless WWII movies, even Vietnam War movies, the enemy is portrayed fairly, even honorably.

        1. I don’t blame the average Confederate, Imperial Japanese, Nazi German, or Soviet soldier; they were conscripts and the only alternative was a firing squad or bullet in the back from a political commissar.

          The ones who made the policy, who controlled the conscriptions and the wars, those are the morally bankrupt people deserving of condemnation.

      3. “Because the confederacy was our own back yard.”

        The Revolution wasn’t?

        The Patriots were not Boy Scouts, look up the origin of the word “Lynching.” A full third of the population lost their land (and often their lives) for the “crime” of supporting the existing government.

        And then as Alana Goodman points out, the tribes the DNC honor were on the British side of the War of 1812, and rather nasty. See: https://freebeacon.com/democrats/dem-platform-honors-native-american-tribes-that-fought-against-u-s-in-war-of-1812/

        Murdering little children and the wounded is up there with slavery on the list of doubleunplusgood things….

        1. And if you had people putting up statues of Benedict Arnold, you’d probably find a similar reaction.

    3. I have even more dislike, for personal reasons, for Nazi Germany than for the Confederacy. That does not translate into hatred for modern Germany because modern Germany has thoroughly rejected Nazism and does not try to glorify Nazi leaders with false history and mythmaking.

      To the extent there are those in Germany today trying to revive Nazi ideology I hold them in contempt as I do the neo-Confederates.

      I’m not as familiar with Japan as I am with Germany, but my attitude is generally similar. There is no point in holding modern Japanese accountable for crimes committed 75 years or more ago.

      I don’t hate “the South,” just like I don’t hate Germany or Japan. I lived in the South happily for many years. I think those there who revere the Confederacy and its leaders are deluded fools at best, and racists at worst. I also dislike some aspects of the South, such as the religiosity, but these are not directly related to the Confederacy.

      1. That’s the best answer I think so far. BTW, the way the Japanese teach their own history in regards to WWII is noxious to most Americans. For example, they say that they were basically forced into Pearl Harbor by the American embargo and that America was belligerent first. They also point out, rightly so, that Japan was just coming late to the colonizer game in China that the West was running, but they weren’t allowed to do it.

        The question I have, though, is do you think the pro-south defenders that exist today really want slavery and racism to the extent it did in 1865, or are they just expressing ethnic/regional pride.

        1. Being around them all the time, (I live in S.C.) it’s definitely just regional pride. Nobody wants slavery back, or even Jim Crow, they just want to be permitted to have some local history without being required to beat their breasts.

          I grew up in Michigan, last step in the Underground Railroad before Canada, and it was more segregated than South Carolina is, and probably more racial tensions, too. Down here they’re your neighbors, not those people in Detroit who rioted years ago.

          1. Nobody wants slavery back, or even Jim Crow, they just want to be permitted to have some local history without being required to beat their breasts.

            No, Brett. They don’t want some ‘local history.”

            They want local myths and lies. They want to talk about how wonderful the Confederacy was without acknowledging what it was really about. They want to argue that telling the truth is “erasing history.”

            It’s as if Germans today were talking about how honorably and nobly German forces fought in WWII, and how it wasn’t about conquest and extermination of inferior peoples at all, It was all a big misunderstanding.

            1. Right, they don’t want the breast beating part. It’s true that requires a certain degree of dishonesty.

              But it’s not dishonesty in service of promoting racial discrimination. It’s just people whose regional past looks a bit ugly viewed objectively being reluctant to be objective.

              1. But it’s not dishonesty in service of promoting racial discrimination. It’s just people whose regional past looks a bit ugly viewed objectively being reluctant to be objective.

                But a lot of it Confederate flag-waving and statue placing started during the Civil Rights era. They were using those symbols of a slave state to fight a battle against equal rights for Blacks.

                You can’t seriously believe that there are not a fair number of Southerners (and others) waving the flag who still see things that way.

                Besides, “a bit ugly” is sort of silly. Reminds me of Bob Uecker in “Major League” announcing, “Just a bit outside,” as the pitch flew two feet away from the plate.

                1. Man I love Bob Uecker. Not a great catcher, but a great personality. When asked how to catch a knuckle ball he said something like, you just wait until it stops rolling and pick it up.

                  As a kid I was a Braves fan, until they abandoned us and move to Atlanta. Treasonous bastards.

          2. ” they just want to be permitted to have some local history ”

            One of the great achievements of our society during my lifetime is that our bigots no longer wish to be known as racists, gay-bashers, misogynists, etc. — at least not in public.

            A half-century ago, the bigotry was open, casual, common. The bigots wanted everyone to know how they thought and acted, and to know that their way was the way.

            Today’s bigots are more guarded. In public, they rely on euphemisms — “traditional values,” “colorblind,” “family values,” “conservative values.” To that list add “local history.”

            Today’s bigots express their genuine positions solely in contexts they perceive to be safe, such as private homes, militia gatherings, and Republican Committee meetings.

            People are entitled to advocate for commemoration of Confederate leaders, to display Confederate flags, and to contend the Confederates fought admirably. And everyone else is entitled to label those who defend violent racists, traitors, and losers as despicable bigots.

            Ditch the political correctness. Call a bigot a bigot.

          3. Being around them all the time for many years, it is true nobody wants slavery back, or even Jim Crow (entirely), they just don’t want their sons and daughters to engage in “interracial marriage”, they would prefer to erase history and replace it with a myth of honor and that the C.S.A. was fighting for a just cause that merely happened to also include slavery, and generally deprive black citizens of political and economic power. Not always overtly, but often so.

            I have now spent nearly as many years farther North, though not always above the Mason-Dixon line, and it is far less segregated in every meaningful way (housing, places of worship, business, politics, law, etc., etc.) than the South was (and is). Interracial couples are nothing to notice, unlike in the South. And there are fewer racial tensions, no matter what people who have only lived in the South pretend.

            Southerners like to pretend its better in the South (including with the stupid argument that the South became Republican because they are way not racist and so they left the racist Democratic party for the egalitarian Republican party), but it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

            1. Having lived in Houston proper for 20 years, and in Greater Houston for 30 years, I’d say that, in general, Houston does it pretty well. Not as well as it should be and not without outrageous incidents, like cavity searches of black women on public highways, but better than north central Wisconsin did it in the days of my youth. Or Michigan when I lived there (Ypsilanti) in 1979 and 1980 — because we couldn’t afford to live in Ann Arbor. When we bought a house in Ypsilanti in 1979, relatives and associates looked down upon us. I felt no such shaming when moving to an integrated neighborhood in the Houston suburbs in 1991.

              1. Certainly the South now is much better than it was in the 1960s and 1970s. And Houston is a large diverse area. And, I will point out, it seems most of your and Brett’s stories involve essentially rural Michigan and Wisconsin and seem to compare that to diverse, southern cities like Houston. I would expect Houston is better than rural areas of Michigan and Wisconsin. Both of the latter are pretty well known as some of the more racist parts of the US. But in comparison to the rural South? I am doubtful things have changed so much, so fast. I mean, rural Louisiana or Mississippi vs. rural Michigan or Wisconsin? I don’t think it’s close.

                (And both you and I should remember, some of the Michigan protestors carried confederate flags to the state capitol. The culture of rural Michigan and rural Mississippi share some common threads, racism being one, myth of the Lost Cause being another, etc., but both are more prevalent in the rural South, I believe)

            2. “they just don’t want their sons and daughters to engage in “interracial marriage””

              You’d have to prove even that much to me, I see enough interracial couples around here, and no sign anybody is giving them any grief.

              1. I’ve been in an interracial couple in the South and in the North. There is a definite difference.

                But, I grant that you won’t necessarily notice the issues if you aren’t in that situation. It isn’t like people spit on you out in public. So, you wouldn’t necessarily know if you aren’t in an interracial relationship or have a close relationship with someone (such that you either talk to them about such things or spend a lot of time with them).

                And then there are all the interracial relationships that don’t happen precisely because of the rampant prejudice. I know of multiple instances of parents threatening or coercing their children not to engage in interracial relationships, including parents (mine, yes, but I mean others) who would previously swear they weren’t racists and had no problem with interracial relationships. But when it comes to their child, suddenly it’s a problem. What will the neighbors think? I don’t want that hard path for you. Etc.

        2. Your question creates a false dichotomy. The pro-South defenders that I know (I grew up in the South and all my family and most of my high school friends are still there) don’t want slavery, it’s true. They do consider themselves as expressing regional pride. But those that are “pro-South defenders” almost to a person oppose interracial marriage and otherwise hold racist stereotypes and attitudes, though none would describe themselves as racist or white supremacist. In other words, it is definitely a bridge too far to overtly support slavery (even R.E. Lee had to admit it was evil, though he suggested whites were the primary sufferers, virulent racist that he was), but they do tend to have sympathies for the racial hierarchy bequeathed to us by the past system of slavery and Jim Crow (though they want it to be more polite and less extensive than in the past).

          Also, white southerners expressing “ethnic pride” (achieved by waving a pro-slavery flag?) is, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable from white supremacy. I can hardly believe you even tried to slide that in there.

    4. I’m not a liberal but my disdain for the “Confederacy” is pretty much total. Not the only reason is because its only purpose for existing, to the extent that it existed other than as a loose collection of treasonous terrorist bastards, was the preservation of slavery. If you want to understand, I suggest you look into a bit of history, starting with the views of Montgomery Meigs who was mostly responsible for turning the traitor Robert E. Lee’s front yard into a cemetery.

      My disdain also has to do with the fact that West Point graduates, from Jefferson Davis to R.E. Lee to the greased dandy last in his class murderer George Pickett, dominated the leadership of the rebellion. The motto duty, honor, country should have some meaning.

      Then consider the creation of the lost cause myth, which you apparently accept, judging from your statement that you consider treason to be honorable, created after the insurrection by intellectual onanists and moral cretins Davis, Jubal Early (Academy graduates both) and the surviving spouse of the greaseball mentioned above, Pickett.

      As for American opinions about Germany and Japan, you are obviously a youngster. The difference in attitude is largely due to the fact that both Germany and Japan have repented where confederate sympathisers have not and remain enemies.

      1. Silly, I said the Confederates fought honorably for the wrong cause. Traitors? So was everybody who signed the Declaration of Independence.

        And you many want to read up on Japanese attitudes about WWII. They have repented like you think they have. Moreover, presuming that if the fought just for white supremacy, so the the Germans for Aryan supremacy and the Japanese to an extent for their own version (yes they thought they were racially superior).

        Thanks, though, for perfectly illustrating the vehemence which I noted exists. I think it’s a hatred of the modern South, justified through past sins. Your comment is at least one data point on that theory.

        1. …have *not* repented. Opps.

        2. No, it’s not a data point on that theory. My disdain is for the confederacy and its veneration, not for the modern south.

          As for the difference between the American Revolution and the southern insurrection, that’s not any easy question to answer, but I don’t have to as it has nothing whatsoever to do with my disdain for the comfederacy and its leadership

      2. StellaLink, prior to 1865, this was a REPUBLIC, not unlike the European Union. Take the “Union” Army — those were *state* units (e.g. 54 Massachusetts) that fought under their *state* flags (along with a US one) and when done returned the flags to their respective states. (The Massachusetts flags are still on display in the Massachusetts’ State House.)

        Loyalty was to one’s STATE, not to the US and the then-largely-irrelevant Federal government.

        1. So, the European Union is a REPUBLIC and the federal government was largely irrelevant? Somebody should have told George Washington about that when he led a militia to invade western Pennsylvania to suppress what is known as the Whiskey Rebellion. What some may find ironically entertaining is that Washington turned over command of the invading force to a Virginian named Henry Lee who is known today not so much for his federal military service invading another state but for his famous treasonous son, Robert E. Lee.

      3. Robert E. Lee wanted to abolished slavery, and preached the reconciliation of the races.

        Abraham Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery, and preached white supremacy and shipping slaves back to Africa.

        1. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence..

          Whatta moral pillar.

        2. Robert E. Lee wanted to abolished slavery, and preached the reconciliation of the races.

          Neo-confederate bullshit. Idf he wanted to abolish slavery he could have started on his own plantation. Instead he treated his slaves even worse than some of the other planters.

          Get over it, M L. It’s nonsense.

          1. A certain kind of cultured southern gentleman could sigh over how distasteful the Peculiar Institution was – even as he fought tooth&nail to maintain the system. It was thus all the way back to the Founders. Jefferson left a long string of pious remarks on the ills of slavery, but it never stopped him from using slaves to prop-up his debt-ridden extravagant lifestyle. For all his posturing, the limits on slavery expansion in the Missouri Compromises had Jefferson livid with rage. You see, the talk never meant very much, no matter how heart-felt the sigh….

            1. And Jefferson, in all probability, enjoyed not only economic benefits.

              Some of Jefferson’s descendants via the Hemmings link passed as white and discovered the truth only later; quite recently, in the grand scheme of things. It’s distasteful to me to use the term “passing” as it implies that these people were aspiring to a status that they did not rightfully deserve when it is my true opinion that all Jefferson’s descendents, no matter identified race, deserve the same status socially, as well as legally. Call it moral posturing, if that makes your pecker hard (and this remark is not directed at the person I am replying to), and God knows, those of an age need all the help they can get, but it’s an honestly possessed opinion.

    5. I’d also add to the below that Japan and Germany are not still around, trying to insist that they were cool back in the day.

      Hating the South is a thing I see on the left, and I think it’s dumb as the right wanting to kick out California.
      We’re a Union, and we’re stronger together; secession or expulsion or divorce or whatever will not clear away our warts, it will cut off our limbs.

      1. I’m not sure you understand that people who say the South fought honorably were saying they were cool back in the day. A person pointing out that slavery existed everywhere is lumped in as a apologist for it. Likewise, no hatred towards Brazil, eh, which practiced African slavery long past America, nor towards the Arabs when the Eastern slave trade was far more brutal than the American slave trade.

        I think your acknowledging a hatred of the South amongst liberal is correct. I presume, likewise, to your point about CA, (for example) that if inner city blacks voted Republican for some reason, their biggest defenders would be in the GOP.

        1. Yeah someone obliterating what made American slavery so awful is indeed apologizing for it.

          And someone talking about the honor of the South is likewise almost always trying to sell something.

          I”m don’t insist the parties are so instrumental.
          It’s hard to separate a party’s feeling about a group with the group’s feeling about the party; each influences the other.

          1. Yeah, typical false choice you imply, when there isn’t. That’s the point I’m trying to make….defending the honorable way the South fought and then laid down their arms is not defending slavery no matter how much you say it is.

            I get your point about “parties are so instrumental.”

            1. Historically, discussions of the honor of the South has gone hand-in-hand with apologizing for the Cause, if not worse.

              I therefore don’t think the academic question of what is honor and does it apply to these individuals can be viewed in a vacuum.

            2. What is this “fought honorably” business? The Confederates committed atrocities, which I guess armies do. But I know of nothing that says they were particularly honorable.

              They fought for their cause, which was explicitly stated to be the preservation of slavery.

              1. This is an inaccurate way of looking at it.

                1. Maybe you could explain why.

                  m_k keeps making a point of the “honorable” fighting. I don’t think it was so honorable, and even if you want to defend the average Confederate soldier on the grounds he was just sort of swept along, that doesn’t apply to the leadership.

                  The point, as explicitly stated by the Confederates, was the preservation of slavery. And the leadership, political and military, were all for it, and need to be held accountable by history, not whitewashed with BS about fighting “honorably.”

                  1. Perhaps you should look up the 1st Louisiana Native Guard…

                    Ask yourself why thousands of free African Americans would sign up, voluntarily, to fight for the Confederacy.

                    In addition, many of the people who fought for the Confederacy were defending their homes. They didn’t own slaves. What they did have was Sherman’s “March to the Sea” which basically scorched the land, burning their homes, fields, and stealing their food.

                    You might oppose slavery. But it’s difficult not to fight when the “other guy” is burning your home and stealing your food.

                    1. FFS, AL. You’re a Confederate apologist too?!

                      Can you think of why an oppressed people might join the armed forces for reasons other than enthusiasm for the cause of the war?

                      Plus, of course, this only underlines how freaking racist the Confederacy was. The Native Guard in Louisiana mustered, but was Disbanded because even in extremis arming the blacks TERRIFIED the South

                      At the very end of the War, Lee, in desperate straits, consented to raising a black regiment. But they never fought either.

        2. I had a neato comment on American slavery I saved because I was pretty happy with how it turned out:
          https://reason.com/2020/08/07/cancelling-john-marshall/#comment-8392556

          One thing I can tell you are quite ignorant about is the institution of American Slavery. It was vastly worse than slavery elsewhere and across history.

          American slavery was unique because of how profoundly slaves outnumbered slaveholders, and how much the slaveholders’ way of life depended on their slaves.

          This lead to a fear of revolt that created a system of terrorism and dehumanization. Black people were not just enslaved, they were broken, their names stripped from them, their language, their faith, their family. That was not something even visited on the slavs or any system in Islam. Teaching a slave to read was a crime, because keeping blacks in dehumanized ignorance was a requirement of the system.

          And that doesn’t mention the forced breeding, often via forced rape. Another uniquely monstrous aspect of the American institution.

          Fear of revolt lead to an affirmative policy of breaking up families and keeping black people terrorized.

          And all of this in a country that considered itself a beacon of liberty among all mankind, a blindness and hypocrisy that must also be factored into American slavery’s towering awfulness throughout history.

          1. Pretty Irish girls were raped too — or “bred” with slaves.
            Ever notice the freckles on “African”-Americans?

            1. Pretty is a weird subjective thing to bring into this.

              Irish indentured servitude was not slavery; it was nothing like the above.
              No doubt some were raped – it was an intolerable power dynamic – but to pretend it was anything like the systematic forcing a black man to rape a black woman in breeding programs is ahistorical.

              1. Probably too late of a reply to be significant, but Sally Hemmings was probably quite pretty as well. Jefferson, as far as I can tell, was quite the dashing blade. Anyone can do the math.

          2. The eastern slave trade was worse than the western slave trade. The least of the reason which, was that all the males were made eunichs by having their entire junk cut off, and most of them died from it. The woman, well, you know, it was way way way more explicit in Islam with how women were treated.

            Ever wonder why, if the same number of African slaves went east as well as west, there are no populations of African descent in Arab countries?

            1. What does that have to do with anything?

          3. “It was vastly worse than slavery elsewhere”

            Not as bad as the Sugar Colonies, who imported many more slaves because they worked them to death.

            “The American colonies were not the destination for most enslaved Africans. Fewer than 4 percent of captives taken from Africa by European ships between 1501 and 1867 disembarked in the North American colonies or the United States, write David Eltis and David Richardson in their Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (This book is based on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, which catalogs 35,000 voyages, or 80 percent of the total estimated trips.) The rest of those carried off ended up in the West Indies or South America.” Slate June 12, 2105

            “how profoundly slaves outnumbered slaveholders,”

            Neat how you use “slaveholders”, not non-slave or white. Most white people did not own slaves.

            “Estimates for the prevalence of slavery in the Roman Empire vary. Estimates of the percentage of the population of Italy who were slaves range from 30 to 40 percent in the 1st century BC, upwards of two to three million slaves in Italy by the end of the 1st century BC, about 35% to 40% of Italy’s population.” wiki

            US slave population was 32% of Southern population. So compatible with Roman percentage.

            https://faculty.weber.edu/kmackay/statistics_on_slavery.htm

            US slavery sucked. You don’t have to make misleading assertions to make it seem worse or unique.

            1. You got me – that extremely similar and contemporaneous slave culture was worse. But also basically part of the American system, and interconnected – a commonly carried out threat to American slaves was to sell them to the islands.

              It’s a good point, but I don’t think it really undercuts my thesis.

              1. Well it means it was not “vastly worse than slavery elsewhere”

                “part of the American system” except for it was not American at all, it was British

                1. “except for it was not American at all, it was British”

                  Yes, yes, yes, we have a winner in the blind hog scaring up a truffle competition. I am in awe.

                2. The same system with the same origins shows up nearby and manages to be worse.

                  This does not change the unique horribleness of that system.

                  m_k’s apologia is still nonsense and apologizing for slavery in America.

        3. Pretty Irish girls were raped too — or “bred” with slaves.
          Ever notice the freckles on “African”-Americans?

          1. So, where did red headed black people with freckles in north Africa come from? I await your explanation, all knowing genetics expert that you are.

          2. This needs another reply. How do you know, if it is in fact the case that freckles among black Americans is a result of Irish American ancestry, that the ancestry came from raped (female) Irish indentured servants rather than from slave owners with freckles? I await your expert opinion.

    6. MK — I think they fought for a wrong cause as well, but there was a right cause that was also significant.

      The answer to your question lies in the understanding of the right cause.

      1. Guy who thinks the Confederacy had some good points also hates immigration.

        News at 11.

        1. Federalism. And I like immigration.

          1. You have a funny way of showing it, always talking about how it hurts the labor market and advocating for a moritorium.

            1. I love my mother in law’s homemade apple pie, but I’ll eat no more than 5 to 7 slices on Thanksgiving day, with ice cream. You’ve got to be reasonable.

    7. The premise of your question seems faulty. I think there’s an equally virulent (or probably greater) hatred for Nazi Germany as for the Confederacy. People don’t hate modern day Germany in the same way for the same way that people don’t hate the modern state of North Carolina–they stopped doing the things that are the source of the disdain. And just like there’s pushback against people who want to extoll the virtues of the Confederacy, there is equal or greater pushback against people who want to extoll the virtues of Nazi Germany.

    8. ” …they fought honorably but for a wrong cause.”
      kinda think the wrong cause negates an honorable fight.

    9. mad_kalak : As I said before, I think they fought honorably but for a wrong cause.

      As a southern I’ve had the Argument at least a dozen times during my life, debating people who insist the Confederacy and secession had nothing to do with slavery. It’s been that way since the war ended and Jefferson Davis started selling Lost Cause lies. You demand understanding, well try some out yourself : Attempt to see how absurd the romantic Confederacy looks to someone outside the bubble. We don’t have that problem with the Japanese or Germans. Only a fringe few of their citizens are addicted to fairy tales about a terrible historical calamity.

    10. A little late, but I feel that a large part of why Japan doesn’t get the hate in America is the language barrier. We don’t see or read the pro WW2 Japanese or anti US mythos that exists, where as it’s not hard to find the pro Confederate discussion. Note that this is only in the US as it is my understanding that Japan has a different reputation in other parts of the world. For example in China and Korea.

      1. I served in Korea 1977-1978 and at the time, Japan was widely, if not universally, hated among the Koreans. You might recall, or remember reading about, the tree cutting controversy. In Korea at the time, a tree was considered sacred as the Japanese had cut them all down and shipped the lumber to Japan. That’s my recollection, anyways. It’s been awhile

  6. Here’s one – in NY, Governor Cuomo’s executive orders now require the purchase of food in order to be served alcohol in a bar. There are many issues one can take with the order, especially considering its miniscule relation to actually combating COVID-19, but it also presents a constitutional issue. Let’s say one is an observant Jew who goes to bars in order to drink beer (most of which is kosher) and watch a sporting event, sing karaoke, or simply enjoy socially distant company. The bar serves only non-kosher food, which was a non-issue prior to this point, but now effectively prevents this person from being served alcohol purely because the sweeping executive order fails to take into account religious observance at all. On a lesser note, this would also affect those who have food allergies that prevent them from ordering ‘meal’-type food. Am I the only one who sees a constitutional problem here?

    1. No, I think there’s a constitutional problem here, but not religious discrimination unless Cuomo had demanded the food be eaten.

      If I understand it, this stupidity is because he wanted to shut the bars down, but not the restaurants. The bars then ended up serving enough food to qualify as “restaurants”.

      The constitutional issue ought to be that the orders are just so damn arbitrary that they infringe basic unenumerated 9th amendment liberties.

      1. You raise a good point about the arbitrariness of it, for sure. As far as eating the food goes, it’s a sin to waste food, and certain categories may not be ordered altogether – even deriving incidental benefit from giving away food that has milk and meat, for example, is proscribed.

        1. OK, so I can see that, depending on the menu, there *could* be a problem, then. I rather suspect your average bar is making sure to have at least one non-problematic item on the menu, though. Maybe not all, though. Most seem to be offering things like grapes or croutons.

    2. One thought for the person who prefers kosher food — or the vegan, the barbecue connoisseur, the person who prefers halal, or the person who wants a particular brand of pretzel: Find another bar.

      Or ask the barkeep to consider offering a product a customer wants?

    3. No, it’s not a constitutional problem. The Jew can go to a kosher bar if he wants.

      1. Also, nothing in the religion requires drinking alcohol at bars. The Religion Clauses only come into play if government forbids something the religion requires. They are not relevant if government prohibits something the religion merely permits.

        Judiasm may permit driving at 80 miles per hour, but this doesn’t mean that government-mandated speed limits interfere with a Jew’s “right” to do something that the religion permits. Drinking at bars is no different.

    4. Also, back at the turn of the last century, when the law permitted hotels with restaurants, but not bars to serve alcohol on Sunday, a lot of bars not only started serving food, they put up makeshift beds to come into compliance with the hotel/restaurant law.

    5. Is lead kosher?

      We are really close to an open (violent) rebellion to this crap.
      Shouldn’t the real question be what right the schmuck has to impose petty fiats like this?

      Tea was tossed into Boston Harbor (and Governor Hutchenson tarred & feathered) for a lot less than this!

      1. You got issues.

    6. I think the rule is goofy–FWIW, Utah has similar rules even in normal times, and I think it’s goofy there too. But you’re trying rather to hard to invent a religious discrimination angle where none exists.

  7. I used to be a lot more sympathetic to the argument that society could be atheist or secularized and come up with its own morals without all that God and Jesus business. But well…look at where we are now.

    1. Oh, that’s hilarious given some of the morals and ethics religion has come up with over the years. Paging Torquemada.

      1. Uh…Christian history is a bit broader than 1 time period in a couple countries. That’d be like me saying oh so you want society to be exactly like Stalinist Russia at the height of the Great Purge if you commented that you admired some aspects of liberalism.

        But yeah I think the trick is to get that sweet spot after the Sunday school spinsters lost much of their power to boss around people but before they transitioned to feminist Twitter blue checkmark spinsters and began bossing around people again. Also there was a transitory period where the secularist neckbeards were really stroking themselves thinking they’d won before half of them joined the up with the spinsters.

        I dunno.I’d take the social mentality of any year I’ve been around beforehand over the current sjw cult we have now.

        1. AmosArch — The “Duck” pond on Boston Common (and _Make way for Ducklings_) was initially called the “Dunking” Pond where “Scolding Women” were dunked underwater as punishment…

          1. I’m all for bringing back the DUNKING Pond!

            (Yes that is some red meat for AK…)

        2. I would like to see a study done on whether religion actually makes people better. It would be a really tough study to do because it would be hard to define terms, and also because most people do a certain number of both good and bad things over the course of a lifetime.

          But assuming such a study could be done, my prediction is we would find religion makes no difference one way or another. I’ve certainly encountered good and bad people on both sides of the religion divide.

    2. Where are we that’s so immoral compared to times when religion was a stronger influence?

      1. well for one thing video game and comic book art used to be really cool but they kinda suck now. I mean there have been presjw attempts to control these things before but it generally was less effective than the grassroots zealots we have now. For example they now have a dedicated breast size police groups that goes around and threatens companies to shrink the breasts of their fictional characters if they think its too large. They also effectively have ruined pageants and lad magazines where you have transgender men shoved in your face.

        Then you have all the nonsense happening in the techworld with the word ‘blacklist’ being banned and all the witchhunts going on. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Generally they’re a lot more effective then their sunday school predecessors have been for centuries at pursuing you into your recreational pastimes and all areas of your life and annoying the snot out of you.

        You have kids becoming unmanagable ruffians with all this social justice nonsense. And then there is the plunging sex rate. Its always a bad sign when you see the kids imposing the morals, especially if they’re the ones who want to tamp down on the sex. You also have people and society and corporations being as rotten as ever while hiding behind the shield of social justice (ironically epitomizing the hypocrisy they accuse other religions of) some of the worst people I know are also the most strident sjws. And then theres your cookies and your breakfest cereal and other products screaming at your at all hours of the day for not being woke enough. BTW its another very bad sign when corporations become devoted to something more than the pursuit of money. Not to mention the greater control these zealots have over your daily life through the hive minds that modern social media are designed to form etc etc. I can go on forever baby.

        1. O Tempora O Mores is ever the cry of the old.

          Ruffians is not helping disabuse that narrative

          1. I’ll keep that in mind every time a Middle Eastern country comes up with some new antigay or ‘antifemale’ law.

            1. I mean, you’re the one crying about degraded morals.
              Seems like Muslim theocrats are as well.

              You just disagree on some of the particulars.

              BTW, I have not noticed a dearth of busty heroines in comics these days.

    3. Somehow I suspect that your theocracy would be something other Christians would see as a pretty immoral and unchristian place.

    4. Ethics predated religion and will survive the end of it.

      1. I kind of question whether that’s actually true on either end. You have any evidence that ethics predated religion? Religion goes back a freaking long way, and records are scanty.

        1. Ethics were around in the animal kingdom, where you see individuals sacrificing themselves for the good of the species (or the ant hive). With humans the rules became conscious.

          Ethics are a product of evolution, natural selection. Tribes that developed the Golden Rule stayed together, for obvious reasons, while those that didn’t fell apart (or maybe never got together in the first place). During this time religion consisted of witch doctors doing rain dances or offering sacrifices to fickle and capricious deities who had no interest in right and wrong, who punished good people and rewarded bad people. The God of the Old Testament, who sets down rules but is also cruel and unfair, is a transitional figure.

          1. Ah, but if you define “ethics” as just having inclinations about how to act, not as a thought out system, why not define religion that way, too, and find that religion goes as far back?

  8. Yesterday I was having lunch with several other attorneys and one of them came up with a very interesting hypothetical that I thought I would pass along.

    In my state it is a criminal offense (third degree felony) to practice law without a license. Suppose someone has a law degree but is not a member of the bar (either because he was disbarred, or never sought admission, or did seek admission but couldn’t pass the bar, or for some other reason). This person is caught “helping” pro se parties by drafting pleadings for them, which they then file pro se. Over the past several years, he has done bankruptcy petitions, family law stuff, maybe even a little civil litigation. He does not charge for this; it’s all pro bono.

    His defense is that his religion requires him to help people that he is able to help, and if someone comes to him in need, and he is able to help that person, he is obligated by his religion to do so. His religion forbids him to turn away someone in need. So he can’t say to them, “Yes, I know how to fix your problem, but I will not do it and I won’t tell you how to do it either.”

    Does he have a legitimate defense under either the free exercise clause, or under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?

    1. Is it “practicing law” to provide free legal advice?

      Just yesterday a friend called me and sought some advice about setting up an LLC to handle some rental property he had inherited, as the lawyer handling the estate had suggested.

      I told him I thought it was a good idea for liability reasons and he should go ahead with it. I also advised him to avoid the DIY approach he found on the Internet and pay a lawyer to do it for him.

      Am I a felon? Would I be one if I did that in your state?

      1. I believe the criminal charge of “practicing without a license” is actually pretty hard to prosecute because it has so many elements. i believe the defendant has to basically be conducting themselves as a legal operation, charging money for services. (Or at least that is what I recall from years ago.)

    2. I don’t know so much about the religious freedom aspect of it. If that is a sincerely held belief though I think they would have a good initial argument. My guess is the courts would find the government has a compelling interest though to regulate the legal profession in the manner it does especially seeing as the bench are the main regulators. I doubt they are going to view their own regulatory system as suspect.

      That said, I think you have a limited free speech right to “practice” law. There is some case law on “jailhouse lawyers” that suggests the First Amendment protects a lot of that type of legal advice giving. I don’t know of any cases about this subject that take place more in the public sphere, but I am sure there are probably a few.

    3. I think the larger question is the meaning of the “right to counsel.”

      If all the other rights are unrestricted, e.g. freedom to worship whatever you wish, not just the Christian God, then how can this right be restricted? It’s “right to counsel”, not “right to counsel by a state approved person who has attended an ABA approved law school.”

      And while it is a slightly different issue, in _Gideon v. Wainright_, Gideon refused an out of town ACLU lawyer, he wanted a local one as his counsel.

    4. I’m not sure the RFRA is necessarily appropriate. But it depends on the situation. Regardless, there’s a strong defense for the defendant.

      The basic comparison are jailhouse lawyers. These non-bar certified individuals often help inmates with pleadings and other legal matters, and are recognized as useful by the SCOTUS (Johnson v Avery 1969). Recent court cases against Jailhouse lawyers for “practicing law” in Vermont (Martin Morales) upheld their rights.

      Ultimately, there were two key differences.
      1. The “jailhouse lawyer” never held himself out as a real lawyer
      2. No fees were ever charged.

      Because of that, I don’t think there’s a real case to be made.

      There could be additional issues that could help the RFRA argument. Let’s say instead of a random person claiming it’s the RFRA, it’s a priest or rabbi. Poor, devout Mrs. Perez goes to her local rabbi, claiming her husband beats her. But she can’t afford an attorney to get a legal divorce. Her rabbi feels for her situation, and helps her with the divorce paperwork and filing (For free, of course) as part of his duties towards his temple’s members.

      That might succeed in a RFRA claim. But are you ready to prosecute the rabbi for this?

    5. My dad was an attorney in Jacksonville, FL. Years ago (70s or 80s, IIRC) a woman set up a legal clinic to help people with certain things that were pretty easy to do if you had the knowledge, but you normally had to pay an attorney to handle.

      She had been a paralegal or legal secretary for years, so she knew how to do these things.

      As I recall, she got shut down.

  9. So Trump saying he’s screwing up the Post Office to prevent mail-in voting is getting a lot of play.

    1. That really wasn’t what he said, but apparently that is what you heard which isn’t surprising….

      1. “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots … But if they don’t get those two items that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

        Include the fact that he’s not getting that money to them, what do you thin he’s saying here?

        1. So where did Trump say what you accused him of saying?

            1. Yeah, thought it would be the Washington Post. If Trump says, “Nice day, isn’t it?” they go out and find someplace a thousand miles away where it was raining, and record it in their big book of Trump lies.

              1. See below, Brett.

                https://reason.com/2020/08/13/thursday-open-thread-4/#comment-8401762

                This is words from Trump’s mouth and pretty hard to deny, even with your general invocation of ‘press are biased and spun it!’

                1. And, as usual, there were other words around the words quoted, and, as usual, the chosen interpretation isn’t the only one consistent with the words.

                  Starting point is, the post office couldn’t pull off an all mail in election as things stand. The Democrats want to change to all mail in elections, and proposed sufficient funding for the post office to pull it off. (Never mind if the time remaining is sufficient even given the funding.)

                  Trump doesn’t want to change to all mail in elections, so he opposes the increased funding, as current funding is sufficient for the sort of elections current law dictates.

                  1. Trump explains his policy motives to stymie state decisions in their elections.

                    1. No, he didn’t. You’re just so committed to that position that anything he says will be read that way.

                    2. Sure, Brett. I and just about all of the media are just blind to what only you and the explicitly partisan right-wing media are clear-eyed to see.

                  2. “Starting point is, the post office couldn’t pull off an all mail in election as things stand.”

                    OK, I’m a little confused. I live in a state that has mail-in only voting for decades. The USPS doesn’t bring in out of state postal workers to support it, they just carry the ballots along with the electric bills, birthday cards, and junk mail. What is the argument that the USPS is incapable of doing … what they have been routinely doing for years, most recently a few days ago?

                    1. 1) COVID means more expense and also less demand.
                      2) New Postmaster General’s measures
                      3) Trump is going to challenge mail-in voting procedures after the election if he loses.

        2. He’s saying that the post office is not really up to handling an essentially all mail in election, and that without the additional funding there’s no chance they will be.

          And he’s opposed to mail in voting.

          What he didn’t say was that he opposes the funding in order to make mail in voting impossible.

          It’s perfectly consistent with his statements that he opposes the funding because we shouldn’t be funding something we shouldn’t be doing.

          Maybe that’s too subtle a distinction for you to accept?

          1. He’s holding up funding assistance, and his Postmaster General is sabotaging them.

            Now he’s saying the Post Office, lacking the funding he’s withholding, will screw up the election.

            This is not a hard one to figure out.

            1. “his Postmaster General is sabotaging them”

              Baseless conspiracy theory.

            2. I don’t believe for one second that the PO cannot handle the volume of mail associated with mailing out and collecting “universal” ballots.

              A quick internet search shows that the PO handles about 15 billion pieces of holiday mail in a given Christmas season. https://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2015/pr15_059.htm

              There were 153 million registered voters in the US in 2018. So if you sent all of them a ballot, and they all returned one, that would add up to a little over 300 million pieces of mail.

              That is 2% of the holiday mail total. BFD.

              1. I like your optimism. But the holiday season is a longer timeline than we’re talking about.

                1. Is it? I guess I can’t speak for every state, but the places I’ve looked these windows are weeks if not months long.

                  1. Fair point – I was thinking of election day. A close analogy might be tax day.

        3. “Democrats are now asking for $3.5 billion for universal mail-in voting and an additional $25 billion for the Postal Service”

          So, in politics, it’s fair play to use your position to advance your agenda. Congress can go ahead and fund it. It will require the Senate to approve (I think), and Trump to actually spend it. So he can just not approve.

          But do you really think that between now and November the USPS can be funded and then competently execute on this vote by mail scheme? It’s highly unlikely that they can.

          1. “It’s highly unlikely that they can.”

            They can’t cope with current volume, even before the “scary” Trumpist postmaster general took over and “sabotaged” a dis-functional company. It will be December until they deliver all ballots.

          2. So, in politics, it’s fair play to use your position to advance your agenda

            It is not fair to interfere with the election other than by executing popular policies. This is IMO is impeachable.

        4. Wait, Trump opposes adding extra funding to the stimulus bill, and that somehow equates to the keyboard vomit that you are spewing? You’re giving Artie a run for his money…

          Democrats want to add “emergency” relief funding to the USPS for the purpose of enabling their new pet project, poorly thought out schemes of mass mail-in voting. Trump and Republicans oppose mail-in voting (even though plenty of states allow for absentee voting and mail-in voting) and oppose adding emergency funding to the corona bill (for obviously, and admittedly, non-corona related reasons), butbutbut “Trump screwing the Post Office” is somehow the response?

          What am I missing, besides the partisan blinders?

          The full quote, including the question asked:

          “Maria Bartiromo: What specifically are they pushing for that is causing a breakdown in any deals? Nancy Pelosi said that the Democrats and the White House are still miles apart on any stimulus.

          Donald Trump: Well they’re right. And it’s their fault. They want $3.5 billion for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent. That’s election money, basically. They want $3.5 billion for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion—billion—for the post office. Now they need that money in order to have post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. By the way, those are just two items. But if you don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. Because they’re not equipped to have it.”

        5. “The items are the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting,” Trump told Fox Business Network, saying Democrats want to give the post office $25 billion. “If we don’t make the deal, that means they can’t have the money, that means they can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

          1. “The United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given”

          2. Still going with the partial quotes and sticking with the WaPo narrative…

            What part of that says what you say it says?

    2. How could Trump possibly screw up the USPS any more than it already is? I know you think he is omnipotent, but have you ever tried to deal with the USPS?

      1. if you view a last minute money grab demand by a bureaucracy that is completely inefficient and has failed to establish a workable business model (propped up by taxpayers for decades) as “screwing” that said bureaucracy, then yeah I guess Trump is to blame?

        The USPS is screwed because it screwed itself. Its money grab is just an excuse to grab money.

        1. What makes you say they’re inefficient?

          They turn a profit, you know. It’s the forward-financing their pensions that’s screwed them.

          1. Post Office Pensions: Some Key Myths And Facts (Written by an actuary specializing in pensions.)

            “MYTH: The requirement to fund retiree medical benefits in such a short period of time was especially burdensome and unfair.

            FACT: Yes, the 10-year contributions specified in the 2006 law were especially high because they aimed to “jump start” the fund — and because the amounts were meant to match anticipated savings from reduced pension contributions. (See more at this “primer”.) Should Congress have been more flexible when the USPS first started running into trouble with the Great Recession and the shift from snail to e-mail, rather than its miserly one year’s funding relief in 2009? Most likely. Did they refuse to do so because they wanted to force privatization? I don’t care to speculate.

            But that 10 year period ended in 2016, so it can’t be blamed for current USPS woes. [My emphasis.]We are now in the follow-on period in which the USPS is intended to be amortizing its remaining unfunded liability over 40 years, to 2056. And this 40 year period is exactly the same length of time as private-sector employers were given to remedy underfunding levels when pension funding requirements were first implemented with ERISA in 1974.”

            “In addition, with respect to financial reporting, here are the key figures for 2019:

            Healthcare benefits paid out of the Benefit Fund: $3.7 billion.

            Normal costs scheduled to be paid into the Benefit Fund to cover current year’s current employees’ retiree healthcare cost accruals: $3.775 billion.

            Amortization payments scheduled to be made into the fund: $789 million.

            Overall net loss for the year: $8.8 billion.

            The math just doesn’t work to blame retiree healthcare contributions for the USPS’s losses. The amount they are recording on their P&L for retiree healthcare costs (which, again, they aren’t paying out in cash) — $4.564 billion — is only moderately more ($800 – $900 million, depending on rounding) than the amount that they would be paying out directly for pay-as-you-go benefits had the PAEA never been implemented.

            1. That’s nonsense. The 10 year requirement is rolling.

              If the costs of this retiree health care mandate were removed from the USPS financial statements, the Post Office would have reported operating profits in each of the last six years.
              https://ips-dc.org/how-congress-manufactured-a-postal-crisis-and-how-to-fix-it/

              1. But retiree health care is an actual expense of the Post Office, so removing it from the financial statements would be illegitimate.

                1. You don’t see how prefunding healthcare would necessarily be quite a bit more expensive than pay as you go heathcare? Because it includes that cost plus estimated future costs?

                  Like, I don’t know what Forbes is trying to pull but this stinks.

                  Current reserves are $47.5 billion. That can be tapped to pay expected pay-as-you-go retiree health care costs for quite some years into the future. Especially if you take into account

                  1. They are statutorially obligated to prefund their pensions. You can’t say, “well, they’d have made a profit if they were violating the law.”

                    You can say it, but it’s beside the point.

                    1. That is exactly what I’m saying. It’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning at 11:55 am. A point you argued against.

                      Now you’re backing down from the policy question, it sees.

                      That is a law no other agency has, and has dubious value add. The Post Office is fine.

        2. I love to hear Republicans whining about the “inefficiency” of the post office. How to make it profitable? Shut down most rural post offices and significantly curtail delivery in those areas. Voila! Of course, that impact would be land largely on Republican voters, but it seems goofy to require universal coverage and physical presence in low population areas and then complain that it’s expensive to do so.

      2. I have. Had no issues.

        Fast and on time and cost effective.

        1. “Cost effective” is a relative term. They have a monopoly on first class mail. Also their package services are being propped up by Amazon essentially. UPS and Fedex move freight at much lower margins.

          I suspect if we let Amazon deliver first class mail or at least make it an option the post office would go belly up in a month.

          1. I answered your question. That you have to come back with counterfactuals tells me you didn’t really want a response.

        2. My experience is that I find every other shipper faster, and more reliable about delivery dates. And, a particular sore point with me, their so-called “tracking” is essentially worthless. If Fedex delivers something, I can see where the truck carrying it is. Often if the USPS delivers something, it disappears into a black void until the tracking tells me it has been delivered.

          That they offer to let you buy the level of tracking the other shippers include for free as part of the service is just extra obnoxious.

          1. Have you experienced many other countries mail systems? The fact that you can drop pretty much anything in the mail and it shows up unopened/untampered/unstolen reliably 1-5 days later anywhere in the country is an incredible accomplishment and it’s really striking when you’re in countries where the public knowledge is you don’t mail anything worth anything because it will just disappear

            1. I’ve not only experienced other countries’ mail system, (And, yeah, the Philippines concerns me that way.) I’ve experienced this country’s mail system over a period of decades, and it used to be a lot better.

              1. OK. Doesn’t mean it isn’t badass now.

                Doesn’t mean it’s cool Trump is screwing with it to mess up the election.

                1. President Trump has been in office for 3. 5years and somehow he is the bane of the USPS.

                  Add this to list of symptoms identifying TDS

  10. If you are implying that one must believe in God and Jesus to have good morals that is clearly false. A typical nonbelieving 12 year old could greatly improve the moral standard of the Christian Bible, for example, by striking the 100 passages they think most morally misguided.

    (The results would be more striking if done on a Plain English version. The stilted, archaic and sometimes beautiful language of more traditional versions makes it harder to distinguish the good from the evil ideas).

    1. I generally feel a belief in a higher power is required to have a constant moral structure. The lack of any such belief implicates that there is no foundation for your value system or at least not one that has any “permanency.”

      But curious what “evil” ideas would you remove from the Bible? To even make that suggestions tells me that you really don’t understand Christianity as a religion.

      1. On the topic of child murder, for instance-

        That people should get their moral authority from someone who mass murdered innocent children unnecessarily (Exodus, final plague). That it is appropriate for this leader to demand of his follower (Abraham) that he kill his own son to demonstrate fealty, and that Abraham’s willingness to do so is noble rather than depraved; that certain disrespect by children should be punished by death.

        1. You realize the differences from the Old Testament right? And that the nature of God is distinctly different than Jesus, right?

          1. Religion is indispensable to morality?

            Competent people neither advance nor accept superstition-based arguments or assertions in reasoned debate among adults, especially not with respect to public affairs.

            1. So morality should be based upon whatever you “reason” at whatever time you decide to “reason” it, right?

              1. Again, read Kant.

          2. Jimmy, I was responding to your question as to what evil ideas I would remove from the Bible. The Old Testament is part of the Bible.

            1. Do you understand the CONTEXT of the Old Testament though? It is a pretty basic operational question. Your answer would suggest that the answer to my question is NO.

              1. I’m not aware of any context that would excuse the mass murder of innocent children to solve a problem that the murderer could have otherwise solved, (by not creating the problem in the first place), for example).

                1. Then you need to do some thinking on the nature of God.

                  1. I give up. What is it about God’s nature which makes this mass butchering of babies because He “doesn’t like the logical conclusion of a voluntary act” (in this case, His hardening of Pharoah’s heart) other than barbaric, Jimmy?

                    1. God is not a nice guy. In fact, he is far from it. The humans of the Old Testament were probably what he would call a “failed experiment.” He did not care for them and other then his commitment to the Chosen People he largely left them alone unless they made him care or they messed with the Chosen People. But even the Chosen People were pretty horrible and would occasionally just not follow what he would tell them to do. Then he would lose favor with them and they would pay until they got back on the bandwagon.

                    2. Not even the Jews think that. Being Chosen is an additional obligation via their covenant.
                      It is not about God hating all humans other than them.

                    3. Thanks Jimmy. I agree that unnecessarily mass murdering innocent children qualifies as not nice, and I didn’t require the Bible to know this. I prefer that my children not learn their morality from someone who has violated this and other moral principles in ways which are now understood to be deeply depraved. The Bible definitely contains valuable moral lessons (about patience, and loving one’s neighbor, and the golden rule, for example), but these are available elsewhere unadulterated by all of the bad stuff, and also by the insidious meta-belief that belief independent of evidence and reason – which is to say, faith – is a virtue rather than a vice.

          3. The Bible says people should be killed for persistently rebelling against their parents. Also for striking them. Also for cursing them. I am guessing all 3 of these passages would make our nonbelieving 12 year old’s “Top 100 Bible Moral Improvement Strikeouts” list, but possibly not; there are many contenders.

            1. Argh. My 8/13 3:32 pm comment was a response to Dr. Ed2’s 13 11:36 AM comment.

        2. Certain disrespect by children probably ought to be punished by death.

          Have you been keeping track of what the children in Chicago are doing with their guns on a nightly basis?

      2. Some people just won’t be nice or do the right thing unless they are threatened with hellfire.

      3. I disagree.

        Belief in a higher power is arbitrary. So you arbitrarily decided to believe in such a power, and then accept the moral instruction provided.

        But someone else can arbitrarily decide to adopt a moral code – even the same one – without such a belief.

        I don’t see any difference.

    2. (Oops, my previous was intended as a reply to Amos’s “look at where we are now” comment)

      1. I actually think we should drop new threads on a subject more often. Keeps the janky threading a bit more readable.

    3. The basic issue here, as I see it, is that there isn’t any logical way to bridge the infamous “is/ought” divide. Religion provides a way to bridge it, at the cost of logic. There are no bridges within logic, though I think Rand at least provided a guide to where the water was shallow by pointing out that a moral theory has to be survivable.

      There’s some reason to believe that religion and human beings co-evolved, and that we have a sort of “socket” in our brains that expects to have a religion plugged into it. If you try leaving it empty you just end up filling it with something else, like a political theory.

  11. I’m reflecting on how brazen and despicable the forces trying to take down this country are.

    It seems Trayvon Martin was a significant redpill moment for a lot of regular folks. The media lied and lied, as they always do but usually it’s more lies of ommission.

    A boy named Cannon Hinnant was just murdered. It’s like if Trayvon Martin was only 5 years old and was actually doing nothing wrong, and some evil person just shot him in the head for no reason. But in this case the national media outlets are silent of course only because of the races of the individuals.

    1. I love how the media had to use that ONE photo of Trayvon from years ago because the rest which his family readily used were not as “innocent looking.” That and I still won’t eat a pack of skittles not because they are a shitty candy but because the media repeated that line over, and over, and over, and over again.

    2. ” I’m reflecting on how brazen and despicable the forces trying to take down this country are. ”

      After observing the current American administration, Putin and Chinese leadership are taking what seems the reasonable shot.

    3. It didnt get any better with the “hands up dont shoot” b.s. of the michael brown case.

      1. That nice cuddly guy the media was portraying right before the footage of him committing strong armed robbery came out…

      2. If only people would take the ‘hands up’ advice.
        Rayshard Brooks initiated a struggle with the officers, took their weapon, and turned to use it upon them.
        Once you have possession of a cops weapon, even if it is only a Taser, your only life-saving maneuver is to drop it, and get your hands up.
        Good shoot by the police; in that instance, Mr. Brooks needed shooting.

    4. Yes, Buck Sexton was discussing this last night.
      My question is if someone witnessing this were then shoot the perp, would that be lawful self defense of a third party or murder?

      If the latter, would it be a defense that he might shoot the other two children?

      And yes, there are those in the media and elsewhere who wish to destroy this country.

      1. Lots of variables could affect this, but if it happens promptly enough and there are other potential victims nearby yes indeed it could be defense of others.

        This is a good example of where it matters a great deal to have a reasonable prosecutor and even application of the rule of law. If this happened in a place with a race baiting D.A., and the person who stepped in and shot this guy is white, then all bets are off about what really happens vs. what the law allows.

    5. Redpill, eh?
      Hmmm.

      Do you think every murder of a black person by a white is covered in the national media?

      Also, taking down our nations by hiding all the black-on-white crime is getting pretty race war-ish?

      1. But the media does hide all the black on white crime. They even say they are doing it. The federal government used that as a justification for no longer keeping stats on it.

        1. Why do you want stats on racial crime rates? What narrative are you trying to build?

            1. There’s an infinity of stories you can tell with statistics, many of them not actually true.

              So, again, what’s the story you’re trying to tell?

    6. And one has to go to the BRITISH press for all the details:
      https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/12384100/cannon-hinnant-killed-north-carolina-darius-sessoms/

      “Per The Wilson Times, Sessoms was convicted in March 2016 of felony larceny of firearms. In April 2016, he was convicted of misdemeanor maintaining a place for a controlled substance, and felony marijuana possession in November 2016.”

      That’s two felonies — why did he have a gun?

      “He was in the custody of the local police department and members of the US Marshals’ Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force.”

      And why are the US Marshals involved? Is he a fugitive from somewhere else?

      1. Try to find the autopsy results for George Floyd anywhere on the internet (including the dark web….hint they are there but exceptionally hard to find.) Then tell me the media isn’t actively trying to reinforce The Narrative.

        1. I did find them, but had to use the wayback machine to access them.

          1. Which version did you find. There are actually three. The original report and then two “revised” ones.

            1. I believe it was the original. Anyway, did describe how he was a regular pharmacy on two legs, in addition to having multiple medical problems.

              I think the knee hold was excessive, but a healthy man likely would have survived it. Thus manslaughter was the appropriate charge.

              1. Yeah he had more drugs in his system then an ICU patient and dangerous cocktails too.

    7. Cannon Hinnant’s killer was promptly arrested and charged with first degree murder. Maybe if the DA declined to prosecute him because he said he was afraid for his life and therefore had to kill a child I’d understand your point.

  12. Abe Greenwald — “This is a Revolution”
    https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/abe-greenwald/yes-this-is-a-revolution/

    I’m thinking the optics of burning police cars will lead to a Trump landslide.

    1. I’m not convinced. I think it is going to surprise the media again that there are many “ghost Trump voters” but this is a tough re-election for any incumbent politician. The economy is down. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Usually that means the voters want a change. If the Dems were in power that would involve tossing them out. But the R’s are largely in power so the shift will be the other way.

      What will be interesting to see is if the R’s make some gains in blue states. The polling in some is suggesting on a state level so D’s are in trouble. Nothing that will probably flip a lot of state houses but enough to make them start worrying.

    2. They will if the public is allowed to see them. Not so much if the coverage continues to pretend they’re peaceful protests, and the networks go ahead with their threat to censor Trump’s campaign.

    3. Ed, I remain unsure how things will turn out in the election.

      But, hypothetically, what will you do if Trump loses? If America is indeed finally ended by the Democratic victory in this second Flight 93 Election?

      1. Well, maybe for starters if Trump is elected, we should insist that all of the people who in 2016 swore they would leave the country if Trump were elected would actually leave.

      2. If Trump is elected it will finally be time to do the stuff that needs to be done.

        If Trump loses then we will need to do the other stuff that needs to be done.

          1. Is that what you got out of that post?

            1. Yup!

              Unless you want to get more detailed about what stuff you’re talking about, that’s what I’m taking from it.

              1. That says more about you than me.

                1. LOL no one is buying your act.

                  1. Is that advice for yourself? After your awkward defense of looting you might want to consider reforming your character.

                    1. Cute subject change. Not taking the bait.

                      What do you mean by other stuff that needs to be done?

                    2. Come on we all know what I mean when I say we got to do the stuff….

                    3. Why are you so reluctant to write it out on this pubic Internet forum, Jimmy?

                    4. Well you know because of the people who are against the stuff….

        1. “If Trump is elected it will finally be time to do the stuff that needs to be done. If Trump loses then we will need to do the other stuff that needs to be done. ”

          What you will do, Jimmy, is what all clingers will do: Yap a lot, but comply with the preferences of your betters. It is what you have done throughout your bigoted, can’t-keep-up lifetime. It is what you will continue to do, as other Americans shape our national progress against your wishes and words.

          As is customary in our free society, you get to mutter and whimper about it as much as you wish. But you will continue to toe the line. Obsequiously.

          All-talk right-wingers are among my favorite culture war casualties.

          1. Guess you will find out what us clingers are planning, won’t you AK…

  13. THREAD: New Thread Naming Convention Proposal

    I would like to propose something to the commertariat to try to keep these open threads more orderly – a naming convention. Basically if you want to drop a new thread make sure you do it using the “Leave A Comment” box at the end of the webpage and NOT as a reply. Then, at the top type “THREAD:” and give it a descriptive name of the subject you would like to discuss (like above).

    This will help break up the comments into sections making it easier to navigate responses within various threads.

  14. Unfortunately there are 220 comments above this one, all of them political in nature. I shut off most social media and disabled most media add ins (both left wing and right wing) because I was getting sick of it, and I usually head directly to this blog to skip over Reasons inane stuff … my library has free copies of the Wall Street Journal and NYT, that’ll do

    Anyway, I saw a presenter say something like, oh, we couldn’t get data from here, but we expect the number to be low, so we just inserted 0 and I throw something. Apparently my company thinks those are acceptable data practices.

    1. In some realms of data management that is called an “estimate.”

  15. https://www.nytimes.com./2020/08/13/us/yale-discrimination.html

    The Justice Department on Thursday accused Yale University of discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants in its undergraduate admissions process, a move that dramatically escalates the Trump administration’s effort to challenge race-based admissions policies at elite universities.

    The finding that Yale had violated civil rights law came after a two-year investigation, the department said. It ordered Yale to suspend the use of race or national origin in its admissions process for one year.

    At the end of that year, Yale will need to seek clearance from the government to begin using race as a factor again, the department said in a news release.

    “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination,” Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said when announcing the findings. “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocks fosters stereotypes, bitterness and division.”

    The department found that Yale had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which the university is required to comply with as a condition of receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer funding.

    The federal finding comes as a federal appeals court is preparing to hear a challenge against the use of race in admissions at Harvard College; Harvard’s system was upheld by a lower court.

    1. I find a few things moderately odd.

      First, why are all the high profile cases against private Ivies? Shouldn’t the first case be against the UC system, and other elite public universities that clearly violate the Parents Involved v. Seattle standard? Wouldn’t this be a 95% victory that is easy to obtain?

      Second, it seems to me that the Title VI wording is pretty freaking broad, “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.” I had not read this part of it in a long time.

    2. I’m now awaiting Yale also being stripped of its tax-exempt status by the IRS, per Bob Jones University v. United States (1983).

  16. Speaking of censorship and the First Amendment:

    University Of Pittsburgh Cardiologist Is Stripped From Fellowship Program After Criticizing Affirmative Action

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/university-of-pittsburgh-cardiologist-is-stripped-from-fellowship-program-after-criticizing-affirmative-action

    In Krynicky v. University of Pittsburgh, 742 F.2d 94 (3d Cir. 1984), the Third Circuit held that the university is to be treated as a public institution, and its actions constitute “state action” for the purpose of claims under 42 USC 1983. That was followed as recently as McKinney v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 915 F.3d 956 (3d Cir. 2019).

    So we once again have a flagrant disregard of the First Amendment by a public institution.

  17. Any reason you’re ignoring the elephant of government over-reach during the pandemic? Are there any red lines to what is permissible in this type of emergency?

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