Notes and Comment Blog


How to gett tuffer

Nov 2nd, 2017 12:17 pm | By

Legal types on Twitter are pointing out that Trump damaged the government’s ability to prosecute Saipov by barfing out his stupid murderous thoughts on Twitter. The Times explains.

A day after an immigrant from Uzbekistan was arrested on suspicion of plowing a pickup truck along a crowded bicycle path in Manhattan, killing eight people, Mr. Trump denounced the American criminal justice system as “a joke” and “a laughingstock,” adding that he was open to sending “this animal” instead to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Shortly before midnight, the president took it a step further, posting a message on Twitter declaring that the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, should be executed. “NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room,” he wrote, referring to the driver’s reported interest in the Islamic State extremist group. “He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”

Presidents are typically advised never to weigh in on pending criminal cases because such comments can be used by defense lawyers to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial — especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute the charges advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial. But Mr. Trump has disregarded such advice in other instances, as well.

Of course he has – because he’s stupid, reckless, out of control, childish, undisciplined, self-involved, and obstinate.

While the White House deemed it unseemly to have a policy debate on gun control immediately after the massacre in Las Vegas last month, Mr. Trump was eager on Wednesday to have a policy debate on immigration. He pressed Congress to cancel a visa lottery program that allowed the driver into the country, attributing it to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and called Democrats “obstructionists” who “don’t want to do what’s right for our country.”

“We have to get much tougher,” the president told reporters. “We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.”

“Politically correct” there means simply humane, decent, not racist, not sadistic. It means respectful of human rights and the law – and he vulgarly pushes it away like a child throwing cabbage on the floor. Hours later he puts the whole prosecution in jeopardy.



A brief embarrassed mention

Nov 2nd, 2017 11:24 am | By

The BBC on Tariq Ramadan three days ago:

French prosecutors are investigating allegations by two women who say they were raped by Tariq Ramadan, a renowned Islamic scholar and Oxford professor.

One of them, Henda Ayari, told a French TV interviewer that Mr Ramadan had assaulted her in a Paris hotel in 2012.

“He literally pounced on me like a wild animal,” she said.

In a Facebook post Prof Ramadan denied the accusations, calling them “a campaign of lies”, and said his lawyer was suing the women for “slander”.

Just like Trump.

He is a controversial and influential figure among Muslim scholars. He challenges fundamentalist Islam, but some critics accuse him of promoting political Islam.

A Swiss national, he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since 2009 he has been professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has also sat on a UK Foreign Office advisory group on freedom of religion.

That’s fairly typical BBC waffle. Ramadan “challenges fundamentalist Islam” only so far, and it’s not just a few eccentrics who can see that he promotes Islamism aka political Islam aka theocracy. And he’s been professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford in a chair funded by Qatar.

Tendance Coatesey has a great deal of background and commentary.



You gotta choose

Nov 2nd, 2017 10:39 am | By

I didn’t know Scott Pruitt had invoked the bible in his move to gut the EPA.

Pruitt used a story from the Book of Joshua to help explain the new policy.

On the journey to the promised land, “Joshua says to the people of Israel: choose this day whom you are going to serve,” Pruitt said. “This is sort of like the Joshua principle — that as it relates to grants from this agency, you are going to have to choose either service on the committee to provide counsel to us in an independent fashion or chose the grant. But you can’t do both. That’s the fair and great thing to do.”

Yet he is appointing people from industry to the panels. He’s pretending to think that EPA grants distort the research of scientists but also that a salary from an industry that the EPA regulates does not distort or shape the views of industry shills. Scientists have to choose between grants and panels, but industry shills don’t have to choose between salaries and panels.

“Greed is good.” I’m sure that’s in the bible somewhere.



The double-talk of Tariq Ramadan

Nov 2nd, 2017 10:27 am | By

Caroline Fourest on Tariq Ramadan:

It has taken me years to reveal the double-talk of the controversial Islamic speaker Tariq Ramadan.

Since 2009 I have known that he has also led a double life, contradicting his many sermons on the « Islamic conception of sexuality. » Yet I could not write what I knew. The most serious facts could not be revealed without strong evidence, without a victim filing a complaint. Other facts were deeply troubling, revealing a hypocritical and misogynistic pathology, but I wanted to respect the principal of the right to privacy.  I had enough evidence to demonstrate the duplicity of Tariq Ramadan without entering such a sordid area. But I did, however, alert colleagues and even lieutenants of Ramadan. Nothing happened.

The preacher’s groupies continued to quote him as a reminder that sex outside marriage was haram. It made me smile as I listened to his Puritan sermons about temptation and the duty of chastity. Like the tape on « the great sins, » where he gets carried away against men daring to swim in mixed pools: « You go there and inevitably it attracts you!

Therefore you have to segregate all the things! Which means women have to stay home.

On social media one of his loyal lieutenants already sees the work of an « international Zionist » plot . His fans accuse the victim, a repentant Salafist, of lying and wanting to promote herself (which, as everyone knows, is tempting). I have not meet her. But what I can say is that her precise and terrifying story is very similar to what four other women have told me.

It was in 2009, on the eve of my debate with Tariq Ramadan on TV. The French press had announced the debate. A first woman contacted me to tell me what she had experienced. I was suspicious. A false testimony to push me into making a mistake? With Tariq Ramadan anything is possible. At first I did not answer. Her messages became increasingly detailed. To clarity the situation I ended up seeing her. She showed me text messages and pictures that confirmed her allegations against Ramadan. She also put me in touch with other girls. They had experienced the same events: a request for religious advice had turned into a compulsive sexual relationship, very violent and very humiliating, before ending in threats. One of them had been subjected to such violence that it warranted prosecution. I presented her to a judge. But she feared Tariq Ramadan too much. She thought she was being followed. She was clearly too fragile to persevere.

Fourest’s conscience wouldn’t allow her to press the woman to accuse Ramadan.

I am well-placed to know the violence of the networks of the Muslim Brotherhood when one stands up to « brother Tariq. » I can hear the sermonizers joking about « everyone knowing and no one saying anything. » They cannot imagine the storm which would have engulfed this young woman if she had dared to break the omerta at the time. Now that Henda Ayari has had this courage, the situation has changed. My duty is to invite all those who can testify to do so, either in the press or at his trial. We must not abandon her.  We must not leave her to confront the pack alone.

It’s time to break the omerta.



What is “compromise”?

Nov 2nd, 2017 9:41 am | By

April Ryan asked Sarah Sanders about the Civil War and “compromise” and slavery again yesterday, and it went as well as you’d expect.

Ryan initially asked what the White House thinks is the definition of compromise as it relates to slavery and the Civil War.

“Look, I’m not going to get in and relitigate the Civil War. Like I told you yesterday, I think I’ve addressed the concerns that a lot of people had and the questions that you had and I’m not going to relitigate history here.”

What are the chances that Sanders knows anything about it? Or knows anything about it other than the most reactionary Southern myths?

Ryan pressed again: “But my question was still lingering when you left, so I’m going to ask the question again,” she said. Sanders cut her off, telling her to not ask it in a way that “you’re apparently accusing me of being.”

Ryan asked, flat out, whether the President and administration believes slavery is wrong. Sanders rolled her eyes.

“And before you answer,” Ryan said. “Mary Frances Berry, historian, said in 1860 there was a compromise. The compromise was to have southern states keep slavery, but the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter that caused the Civil War and because of the Civil War, what happened, the North won—.”

Sanders cut her off.

“I think it’s disgusting and absurd to suggest that anyone inside of this building would support slavery,” she said, moving on to another reporter.

That’s how it’s done: a show of righteous indignation to disguise the fact that you have no idea how to argue the substance, then move on to something else.



Charlie Hebo pillories Tariq Ramadan

Nov 2nd, 2017 9:23 am | By

No automatic alt text available.



In blatant disregard of his oath

Nov 2nd, 2017 9:03 am | By

Jennifer Rubin (a conservative) on Trump’s attack on the US justice system:

When Trump pops off about the defects of our justice system with no understanding of what he is saying, he underscores his unfitness and undermines one of the great jewels of American democracy, the court system. For Trump to slander the courts as a “joke” gives aid and comfort to our enemies (both terrorists and thug-ocracies such as Russia). It is a regrettable but natural continuation of his indefensible slurs about “so-called judges.” Unfortunately, Republicans have been too cowardly to take him on, even rhetorically on this point. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore his unwillingness to defend the Constitution, of which courts are a part, in blatant disregard of his oath. His meek retreat this morning underscores just how ignorant he is — and how willing to make irresponsible assertions.

Today he’s been screaming for the death penalty – yet another thing a normal, reasonable, ethical, halfway decent president should not do.

All caps scream for death penalty twice in three tweets. He’s like a rabid dog – a dog who was never a nice dog in the first place and is now a brain-inflamed monster.



People say all sorts of things

Nov 1st, 2017 5:00 pm | By

Is there any merit to this?

I don’t know of any plans to “criminalize” saying “Allahu akbar,” or to prosecute the religion that says it. On the other hand it does get pointed out when guys who drive trucks onto bridges or bicycle paths or shoot up editorial offices shout the phrase as they do so. Should journalists suppress that fact?

No. It’s evidence of motive, for one thing. The perpetrators themselves want us to know that that’s their motive; that’s why they shout it. We’re supposed to be converted, or frightened, or deeply impressed.

But for another thing it’s part of the picture. No doubt Linda Sarsour is worried that it’s not flattering to Islam, and of course she’s right, it’s not – but that’s not the fault of reporters who report the phrase or the rest of us who discuss it.

It’s fucked up. Thinking a shout that “God is great” equals a reason to murder a lot of random people is very fucked up. Human beings need to think about that fact. We need to understand that kind of god so that we can avoid it, and urge other people to avoid it. Sarsour doesn’t like that, because she likes her religion, but that’s not a good reason to expect the rest of us to shield it.



As progressive as a moratorium on stoning

Nov 1st, 2017 4:32 pm | By

In honor of Tariq Ramadan – last week’s Jesus and Mo:

ahead

Support J and M on Patreon



Stunned

Nov 1st, 2017 4:16 pm | By

Oh good god.

A French official has admitted knowing Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan was “violent and aggressive” sexually, but denied hearing anything about rape.

Bernard Godard, who was considered the “Monsieur Islam” of the French Ministry of the Interior between 1997 and 2014, was well acquainted with Mr Ramadan, a prominent Islamic scholar and grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

A prominent Islamist scholar, albeit one who disguised himself to some extent as a sophisticated academic and deep thinker – but he’s the guy who refused to condemn stoning out of hand but instead called for a “moratorium” while serious theocrats debated the issue. He’s awful but with a veneer of okayness.

And now there are claims he’s rapey.

When asked whether he had any knowledge of the rape and sexual assault that Mr Ramadan is now being accused of, Mr Godard insisted he had “never heard of rapes” and that he was “stunned”.

“That he had many mistresses, that he consulted sites, that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited them to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive, yes, but I have never heard of rapes, I am stunned,” he told French magazine L’Obs.

Mark that. Mark it well. Let it be seared into your memory. Some resisted and he became violent and aggressive, but Monsieur Islam never heard of rapes. Violence toward resistance, yes, but not rapes. One wonders what exactly he thinks rape is.

Mr Ramadan, who is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, has been accused of rape and sexual assault by three women in the past 10 days.

One of them, French writer Henda Ayari, says Mr Ramadan raped her in a Paris hotel room in 2012. Ms Ayari, 41, who lodged a rape complaint against the 55-year-old Swiss national on October 20, claimed that for Mr Ramadan, “either you wear a veil or you get raped”.

“He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die,” she told Le Parisien on Monday.

But that’s just violence and aggression, not rape.

The Swiss scholar became at professor at St Anthony’s college, which is part of the prestigious British university, in 2009. His appointment was tinged with controversy given Qatar is a major patron of the establishment, and in 2013, Mr Ramadan was forced to deny that he was using his role to promote the ideas of the emirate.

In an interview with Liberation, he said: “My Oxford Chair is a permanent chair, which Qatar has financed, but whose management is under the exclusive authority of Oxford.”

Give the chair to Taslima Nasreen, instead.



Due process: it takes too long

Nov 1st, 2017 3:24 pm | By

The Guardian on the White House press briefing today:

15:20



The worst political adviser in the White House in modern history

Nov 1st, 2017 12:24 pm | By

Trump thinks it’s all so unfair.

Trump, meanwhile, has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He’s frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight. “Trump wants to be critical of Mueller,” one person who’s been briefed on Trump’s thinking says. “He thinks it’s unfair criticism. Clinton hasn’t gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?” According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey,that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. “Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”

Oh, gee, so I guess we shouldn’t all have told him to hire Kushner?

No, that’s not it; he shouldn’t have hired Kushner, not least because there’s a law against it. If it’s biting him in the ass now I don’t see what we can do other than laugh.

Surprise surprise: a real estate manager whose father went to prison for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering, turns out to be not very good at political advising. Who could have foreseen that? Why wouldn’t he be brilliant at something he knows nothing whatever about? It’s all so puzzling.



“What we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughing stock.”

Nov 1st, 2017 11:56 am | By

Trump seized the opportunity to fling more mud in the direction of the US system of laws.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he would consider sending the suspect arrested after the terrorist attack in New York to the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and called on Congress to cancel a longstanding immigration program that he blamed for allowing the man into the country.

Or hey, why not put the suspect on a ship and tell the crew to throw him overboard in the middle of the Pacific?

The president’s comments came at the beginning of a cabinet meeting a day after an immigrant from Uzbekistan plowed a pickup truck along a crowded bicycle path in Manhattan, killing eight people. Asked by reporters if he would send the suspect to Guantanamo, Mr. Trump said, “I would certainly consider that.”

“Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that, yes,” Mr. Trump said.

No one arrested on American soil has ever been sent to Guantánamo Bay, and no one captured on foreign soil has been sent there since 2008. Transferring the suspect from New York would raise a host of constitutional and legal issues, and it was not clear that Mr. Trump actually would follow through on the idea since his comment was in reaction to a question rather than part of his prepared remarks.

But even in response to a new question he hasn’t heard before, a minimally decent president should know better than to say that. Instead what we have is a racist monstrosity whose brain is rotting.

The remarks he had outlined in advance focused on immigration. “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program,” he said. “I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program.”

“It sounds nice,” he added of the diversity program. “It’s not nice. It’s not good. It’s not good. We’ve been against it.”

See what happened there? He read two written sentences in normal adult English, and then paused to comment in his own voice, and talked like a four-year-0ld.

The president also promised to toughen sentences against terrorists but did not specify how. “We need quick justice and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now,” he said. “Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughing stock.”

Said the president of the United States about the US judicial system.

It’s worth watching to get the full venom and stupidity in what he said.

At a news conference updating the public about the attack, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York chided Mr. Trump for his tweets, saying they “were not helpful,” were not “even accurate” and “tended to point fingers and politicize the situation.”

“You play into the hands of the terrorists to the extent that you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society,” said Mr. Cuomo, who is a Democrat. “And the tone now should be the exact opposite by all officials on all levels. This is about unification, this is about solidarity.”

What a wimp, right? Oh wait.

Democrats on Wednesday noted that Mr. Trump was quick to assail his political opponents and immigration policies less than 24 hours after the New York attack, even though his own White House declared it unseemly to talk about gun control policies in the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Las Vegas, in which a heavily armed American citizen shot and killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy. Today is a day for consoling of survivors and mourning those we lost,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said at the time, scolding those who called for more gun control. “There is a time and place for political debate, but now is a time to unite as a country.”

Well that was different.



Get those damn scientists out of here

Nov 1st, 2017 10:35 am | By

Scott Pruitt cut the EPA off at the knees yesterday.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, stripped a half-dozen scientists and academics of advisory positions Tuesday and issued new rules barring anyone who receives E.P.A. grant money from serving on panels that counsel the agency on scientific decisions.

The move will effectively bar a large number of academic researchers, many of them experts in fields ranging from toxicology to epidemiology, from advising the E.P.A. on scientific matters, since the agency is one of the largest funders of environmental research.

They get the grants because they know the subject – so Pruitt throws them out. Let’s not have any experts on environmental science in the EPA, because who needs the environment, right? It’s there to be used until it’s worn out and useless, and then we’ll

uh

What is it we’ll do then? I forget.

Mr. Pruitt was expected to appoint several industry representatives to the panels. He did not impose any new restrictions to prevent them from offering advice on environmental regulations that may affect their businesses.

Industry reps have the right kind of vested interest – profit. The wrong kind is evidence about harm to the environment that we all depend on for survival.

In an announcement at agency headquarters surrounded by conservative activists and Republican lawmakers who have long called for an overhaul of the advisory boards, Mr. Pruitt said he made the decision to ensure the agency would receive data and advice free from conflicts of interest or any appearance of a conflict. He said that people currently serving on E.P.A. advisory boards had received $77 million in grant money over the past three years as they were issuing advice on policy.

The industry people on the other hand have no conflict of interest, or appearance of same. Also, chocolate makes you immortal.

Mr. Pruitt is expected to ask about two dozen people to replace advisers whose terms have ended or were removed under the new rules, according to a list provided by several people close to the process. Among the expected appointees, several are state regulators and private consultants; one is a senior director at the American Chemistry Council, a trade association; another is the chief environmental officer for Southern Company, an electric utility; and one is the vice president of technology for Phillips 66 Research Center in Oklahoma, and previously worked for ConocoPhillips.

The E.P.A. did not confirm the full list of new appointees, but did announce that Michael E. Honeycutt, the top toxicologist at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, would chair the E.P.A.’s Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Honeycutt has sparred with the E.P.A. over ozone standards, and was a co-author of a study in an air and waste management magazine arguing that the agency has inflated the health benefits of more stringent air quality standards.

Yeah, pollution is good for you.



There is no such filter

Nov 1st, 2017 9:27 am | By

Trump’s fun game for today is pretending that Saipov’s slaughter and maiming yesterday are the fault of Chuck Schumer because IMMIGRATION.

As details emerged about the incident, prominent right-wing commentators and news outlets seized on an ABC7 story reporting that alleged attacker Sayfullo Saipov had come to the United States from Uzbekistan under a State Department program known as the Diversity Visa Lottery.

That story is unconfirmed, but Trump appeared off base in his criticism of Schumer. The program originated in part in a bill introduced by the New York Democrat in 1990; but Schumer was also among a group of lawmakers who later sought to drop the visa protocols assailed by Trump.

Still, Schumer was singled out as the brains behind the program and therefore, critics said, bears responsibility for the attack.

In news interviews, blog posts and tweets, critics tried to pin blame on the leading Democrat, saying he was “responsible” for allowing the 29-year-old suspect’s entry into the country.

Who was responsible for Stephen Paddock’s entry into Las Vegas then? Who was responsible for his presence in The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino? Who was responsible for his possession of all those guns and his ability to take them to his room and his ability to fire them out his window? Who was responsible for his ability to add a bump stock to one of the 17 assault rifles he had in the room?

Trump wants “merit based.” Because what? That would filter out anyone who might want to kill a bunch of people while yelling “Allahu akbar”?

Yes, no doubt that’s exactly what he’s thinking, because he’s just that dumb. But it wouldn’t. Reminder for Trump: most of the bangers behind 9/11 had high levels of technical education. They were engineers and similar. They were full of Merit.

There isn’t any kind of immigration filter that can prevent people from deciding they like ISIS and want to give it a helping hand, just as there isn’t any kind of hotel guest filter that can screen out guys who long to shoot into a concert crowd from a high window.



Women never get any backlash

Oct 31st, 2017 4:34 pm | By

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know: women dressing up in exaggeratedly “feminine” clothes is appropriation.

Across the globe, men, women and non-binary individuals practice cross-dressing and drag as a form of expression. The encyclopedia Britannica identifies individuals in drag as performers dressing as the opposite sex or rather, outside of their assigned gender. It is a way of experimenting with the aspect of “the other” in terms of identity.

This practice can be seen in a myriad of settings, including the television show, Ru Paul’s drag race. Individuals who practice drag and cross-dressing have often been persecuted throughout history, resulting in violent discrimination that can even lead to death. Although it has become more socially acceptable over the years, the stigma against it persists. Drag performers have been associated with the LGBTQA community, as it gives individuals the freedom to explore gender identities outside of the norm.

That’s a sloppy (and wrong) generalization, actually. Cross-dressing was a carnivalesque thing to do for centuries before it was called drag or “associated with the LGBTQA community.” It did not result in violent discrimination. There was also of course the tradition in the theatre of having boys play women’s roles; that too did not result in violent discrimination, although it did get up the Puritans’ noses, as did everything else.

One recent event I found out about was that of cis women dressing in “drag” by wearing dresses and excessive makeup while identifying as drag queens.

They sum it up as a form of experimenting with “extreme femininity”. I was confused as to why cis women would choose to identify as drag queens when all they are doing is putting on dresses and makeup, which is something within their gender norm. I discussed this odd occurrence with some non-binary individuals and one of them quickly pointed out that this can even be considered homophobic.

Sure it can, if you work really hard. That’s the great thing about women – you can accuse them of everything, even “appropriating” that which they’ve been bullied into doing since forever. You can call women femmephobic if they refuse to wear skirts and appropriators if they wear skirts – they’re wrong no matter what they do, it’s awesome! And women are so stupid and weak they put up with it. Or else they don’t and then you can call them TERFs and kick the shit out of them while saying it’s all their fault.

When cis women perform as drag queens, they are dipping their feet into the performance of it, this being the positive experience, without receiving any of the backlash of stepping out of their gender norms and being discriminated against for it.

Bitches! Women can do any damn thing they want to and never receive any backlash. No domestic violence, no harassment or abuse, no public mockery and trolling, no rape, no wage or hiring discrimination, no pay gap, no insults, no questioning of their intelligence or stamina or courage or ambition or determination – none of that. They should be locked up.

In addition, cis women are justifying this action by claiming they do it out of admiration for drag performers. So again, why is this act to be considered homophobic?

Because appropriation is a form of discrimination. Essentially, individuals outside of that culture, conveniently steal certain aspects of it, for their own use, without receiving the prejudice and discrimination individuals from that culture are faced with

How dare women steal skirts and makeup from other cultures. They should be executed.



A lack of appreciation of history

Oct 31st, 2017 3:41 pm | By

NPR on John Kelly’s twisted understanding of the Civil War:

During an interview Monday night on Fox News, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that “the lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”

His comment was swiftly countered by confounded observers, who pointed out that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that compromising on slavery would be morally unconscionable — and that the country did strike such compromises for decades and they did not, in fact, prevent war.

They did prevent war for several decades. Lots of people died in time to miss the war, so from that point of view, the compromises were a big success…except of course for the people who were slaves who died in time to miss the war.

Kelly said he thought applying contemporary standards of ethics to the past is “very very dangerous” and demonstrates “a lack of appreciation of history.” He praised the “men and women of good faith on both sides” of the Civil War who followed their “conscience” in their fight.

That really is an incredibly stupid thing to say. We should apply contemporary standards of ethics if we have reason to think they’re better standards. We can still understand that people are stuck with what’s available to them, but that doesn’t mean we have to say oh well slavery was seen as a fine thing by people who owned slaves so mustn’t judge.

After Kelly’s remarks, scores of commentators responded with rebuttals, their tone ranging from bafflement to shock to weary repetition.

John Podhoretz, the conservative editor of Commentary magazine, wrote on Twitter, “80 years leading up to the Civil War were a history of efforts to compromise with the South. And then the war came. Started by the South.”

As Vann Newkirk, a writer at theAtlanticput it succinctly, “the entire fabric of American law was a compromise with slavery.”

The idea that the Civil War was caused by a failure to compromise was expressed by historian Shelby Foote in Ken Burns’ 1990 documentary The Civil War. Foote, who once wrote that he “would fight for the Confederacy today if the circumstances were similar,” was criticized by fellow historians for, as The New York Times put it, playing down “the economic, intellectual and political causes of the Civil War.”

“Compromise on what?” asked Joshua Zeitz, a historian and the author of Lincoln’s Boys, asked on Twitter. “Extending chattel slavery throughout the western territories?”

“The only compromise on the table in 1861 would have given slavery explicit constitutional protection,” writes Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent at Slate.

“Focus on compromise only makes sense if you view slavery as bad but not *that* bad,” Bouie later wrote.

The way the Magdalene laundries were not that bad…if you were a male Catholic apologist at no risk of being held captive in one.

[Ta-Nehisi] Coates also directly rebutted Kelly’s assertion that “we make a mistake … when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more … and apply it back then.”

The “notion that we are putting today’s standards on the past is, in itself, racist — implies only white, slave-holding, opinions matter,” Coates writes. “Majority of people living in South Carolina in 1860 were black — they did not need modern white wokeness to tell them slavery was wrong. Majority of people living in Mississippi in 1860 were black. They knew, in their own time, that enslavement was wrong.”

Oh but that’s some of those terrible contemporary standards of ethics, thinking that the people enslaved or held captive or exploited or tortured should be heeded at least as much as the people who did the enslaving or torturing. We should stick with the Eternal Truth that only people like John Kelly and Brendan O’Neill get to have standards of ethics that count.



Their supposed “brother”

Oct 31st, 2017 3:23 pm | By

The crying with laughter emojis are nice.



As Stuyvesant High School was letting out for the day

Oct 31st, 2017 2:56 pm | By

The Times reports:

Eight people were killed when a man drove 20 blocks down a bike path beside the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon before he crashed his pickup truck, jumped out with fake guns and was shot by police officers, the authorities said.

Federal authorities were treating the incident as a terrorist attack and were taking the lead in the investigation, a senior law enforcement official said. Two law enforcement officials said that after the attacker got out of the truck, he was heard yelling, “Allahu Akbar.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference: “Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”

Two law enforcement officials said the driver of the truck, a 29-year-old man who came to the United States in 2010, was in grave condition. One official said he had rented the truck in New Jersey.

He’s dead now.*

The motorist, driving south down the path in a Home Depot rental truck, hit numerous people as nearby Stuyvesant High School was letting out for the day, officials said. At least 15 people were injured, but officials were still working to assess the extent of the casualties.

So I suppose Allah is sitting up there on his couch smiling happily about the eight people sprawled on the bike path near their smashed bikes? “Good, good, this will force everyone to submit to me and my little buddy Mohammed. Any tea left?”

*Update: Obviously he’s not. The reporting was that he was when I wrote the post. Soz.



Sarah, is slavery wrong?

Oct 31st, 2017 12:55 pm | By

Sarah Sanders wants us to stop saying slavery was wrong.

During a White House news briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Chief of Staff John Kelly’s praise of Robert E. Lee and remarks about how “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” not the Confederacy’s refusal to abolish slavery.

“Look, all of our leaders have flaws — Washington, Jefferson, JFK, Roosevelt, Kennedy — that doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country, and it certainly can’t erase them from our history,” she said. “And General Kelly was simply making the point that just because history isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not our history.”

No, he was not. He said what he said and not some other thing. He did not say “Just because history isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not our history.”

“And to try to create something and push a narrative that simple doesn’t exist is just frankly outrageous and absurd,” Sanders continued. “I think the fact that we keep trying to drive, the media continues to want to make this and push that this is some sort of a racially charged and divided White House — frankly the only people I see stoking political racism right now are the people in the groups that are running ads like the one you saw take place in Virginia earlier this week. That’s the type of thing that I think really is a problem, and I think it is absurd and disgraceful to keep trying to make comments and take them out of context and mean something they simply don’t.”

Well…she’s not the smartest person in the world. Maybe she really doesn’t grasp that saying the confederacy was acting in good faith and according to its conscience is a gross sanitization of why the South seceded. Maybe she really doesn’t, but then she shouldn’t be in that job.

The latest Civil War-related controversy to envelope the White House was not, however, a media invention. Kelly went out of his way to praise Lee and the Confederacy during an interview on the debut edition of Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News show Monday night. Kelly was responding to a question about the removal of Confederate plaques.

Lee “was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days,” Kelly said. “But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

At no point did Kelly mention the role that the South’s determination to preserve the institution of slavery play in sparking the Civil War. Nor did Sanders mention it on Tuesday. As she left the podium, a reporter repeatedly tried to ask her, “Does this administration believe slavery was wrong?” Sanders didn’t answer.

The reporter in question is April Ryan, of “are they friends of yours?” fame. She’s tweeting about it now…saying she’s still waiting for an answer.