Linky Friday: Live From Las Vegas


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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106 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    [P1] My GF has a boxer/pit. He’s goofy and adorable and sweet. He will, and has, defended her from other dogs/people.

    [E1] Yeah, this is nice and all, but no one has explained to me why I SHOULD want to make any changes. None of the benefits, and a whole lotta costs accrue to me. I’ll never live long enough to see the realization of any sacrifice-I have no kids either. So what’s in it for me? Which explains why a lot of pro save the world folks are more interesting in forcing it on people than trying to persuade them…it’s for their own good.

    [He3] Ugh…the article describes a hellish metropolis full of “pleasure deserts”.Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe says:

    [r1] there was a stretch a couple years ago where I always got Russell Moore mixed up with Roy Moore, before the latter burst back on the national stage. I still often do a double take when I see the name.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Cr6: This is the kind of thing I’m always told would happen if we privatized a public service.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I didn’t find the piece persuasive, but I was amused that a libertarian would complain that civil proceedings are unfair because poor people have to pay for attorneys themselves. Has he ever been in a courthouse? They are typically full of poor people representing themselves in civil proceedings, often brought by debt collectors. Is the libertarian concern only when the government does it?Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        That’s a very fair criticism.

        I will say that many libertarians are very concerned both with the cost of legal representation (often a reflection of the complexity of legal understanding) and the fact that wealthy parties can effectively bury people in litigation.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          A complex and advanced society is going to need complex and advanced laws. You also don’t want laws that so explicit that they can’t evolve without legislative action or updating.

          Being a good lawyer is hard. Being an average lawyer is hard. Being a bad lawyer is relatively easy.

          All the work I do revolves around contingency fees. So we don’t get paid unless we get a client a successful settlement or verdict (meaning money damages and we get a percentage). We are frequently (or almost always) up against big corporations who can hire lots of lawyers and bury us in litigation and discovery. They frequently do. But we can prevail. Though admittedly we are good lawyers.*

          *Lawyer training is interesting here. Students who go to top law schools will tend to go to top law firms and get mentored and trained until they are really allowed to do anything at all. Lawyers who go to not as top law schools tend to get jobs at small firms where they are just thrown into the water and told to sink or swim. There are good and bad things about both systems of becoming a lawyer.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            It’s less an argument against legal complexity (although there are always areas where the complexity is probably not warranted), than against a system that is highly tolerant of abuse.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Pets: Dogs really are human’s oldest and best friends.

    Cr1: This would somewhat suggest that there is something to the bad boy trope. If male criminals tend to beget children prone to criminality than there has to be some evolutionary thing going on here.

    Cr6: Because its their job? Civil asset forfeiture gives evidence to the libertarian contention that the state is organized banditry.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      It’s not a question of is, but that such behavior is a failure mode of the state.

      If people are willing to recognize that this is a failure mode (and, for the idealists, that the state has failure modes below the extremes), then the failure mode can be worked against.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        We get into debates about the nature of states because most people who talk about the merits of states are going to have strong opinions for or against them. Most people just accept government or the state as something that is. The debaters or either going to be really very pro-state or really anti-state. When people inclined to see the state as one of the best things ever get into conversations that thing the state is nothing more than organized banditry than your not going to have a productive debate.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I see the state as indifferent. People, on the other hand, are good or bad. The state is a very powerful tool that can vastly expand the ability for a person to be good or bad. And since no one is purely good or evil, there will always be agents of the state who find themselves able to wield the power of the state for their own ends. The goal is to either limit the ability of those people, or be able to remove them once it becomes a problem manifest.

          As to my failure mode, it can generalize to, once an agency has decided that it can/should seek funding from citizens directly, or that it can improve it’s funding by targeting citizens, it will, and that is a failure of government. In the case of police & CAF, it’s doing both (targeting citizens to acquire funding). But an agency can also fail by deciding that it needs more funding, so it starts to interpret laws/regulations/mandates in ways that allow it to bring enforcement action against a larger subset of the population than previously and gain funding either through fines, or through budget justification.

          ETA: Imagine if Fire Departments began starting fires. Or, more likely, if Fire Departments were allowed to bill your insurance for the cost of fighting a fire, or any other call-out, regardless of whether or not you had any liability toward the reason for the call. Suddenly the FD has an incentive to roll as many people and vehicles as they can in order to pad the bill.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:


      Cr1: There’s nothing to distinguish evolution from raising without a twin study or five… unless you think our society *doesn’t* raise girls differently from boys?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        I was just thinking that – it could be that criminal men tend to walk away from their duties toward their children, leaving them down one supportive parent, and with a father who keeps bringing his fellow criminals around the home, while criminal women get stuck with child rearing duties, so they have little choice but to settle down on the criminality.Report

  5. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    He3: because God forbid people should be allowed a “temporary respite” from their hellish existence. And God forbid people who are injured or disabled should be able to get around. Nope, bikes for everyone! Bike or walk! And forget trying to do all your grocery shopping for the week at one time!

    I can see some types in the US getting really excited about this sort of thing. It’ll be like “Market Boxes,” but for everyone, and with the most blah healthful foods possible.

    The problem with blanket solutions like this is that “one size fits all” fits all badly, and fits some not at all (e.g., “ban cars” doesn’t work so well when you have people who cannot bicycle and have a hard time walking very far – or can’t walk at all)Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      It’s a funny one – we’re so used to a built environment that puts the slightest inconvenience for us when we drive ahead of gross burdens and even danger to life and limb when we walk, cycle, and take transit – that it becomes invisible.

      Proposal to rebalance things even a little bit get seen as “overbearing government interference” – but maintaining the infrastructure as it is, and building more of the same, is seen as somehow “natural”, as if the built environment we have now was caused not by government interference but wind, rain, and tectonic motion.

      I mean, we are so so so very far from people not being “allowed” or “able” to drive, in favour of having a perfectly safe and pleasant and convenient environment for walking and cycling and riding transit. I’d worry more about ameliorating the often dystopian living situation for those who can’t drive, than a fantasized dystopia we’re going to impose on people who can only drive.

      Right now my city is debating adding $200 million to the cost of an LRT line to elevate a road rather than have a level crossing – bulldozing half a dozen businesses that make the local neighbourhood better, making the neighbourhood much harder to walk around, and making an LRT station less accessible – to avoid making people driving through the area wait an extra 10 or 20 seconds for a light.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        And I suppose it bears adding, the overpass would probably make several street crossings not only less pleaseant and convenient, but less safe.

        And city council is vacillating on this, because all of that danger and expense and neighbourhood crappiness really is seen as approximately balancing out an average 10-20 second delay for drivers at a traffic light.

        There is a vast segment of the city for whom the overpass would not be seen as “nanny state meddling” but the at-grade intersection absolutely would.Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Cr3: A witness drew an image of a suspected thief — who police believe to be Hunt Phuoc Nguyen, 44

    So why does the video show a mug shot of a white guy?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Thank you for asking the question I wanted to ask. I’ve seen this story on Facebook before and they show the same white guy with the sketch. I suppose its possible for a white guy to be named Hunt Phuoc Nyguyen if his mom married a Vietnamese man and he took his step dad’s name but that seems improbable.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        He’s of the age to be one of the last babies of Americans (or westerners) in South Vietnam. If his mom lost contact with the father before she had to skedadle when Saigon fell, he could have been raised by her (with her name) and just so happens to phenotypically look very caucasian.

        Another option, also involving just happened to fall out as very white looking in the diploid lottery, was that he was the son of a Vietnamese army officer who came to the US for training and married an American white woman. (and either stayed or left, or left and came back) (one of those ‘find your birth parents’ shows had a scenario like this a few weeks ago, where the biological parents were a Vietnamese army officer and a young woman who lived near the base where he trained)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Another picture here. I thought “Hunt” might be an English first name, but apparently his first name is actually “Hung,” not “Hunt.”

        Still looks pretty white to me, though. I did meet a girl in Taiwan once who looked like a white girl who had dyed her hair black, but she didn’t speak English and swore that both her parents were ethnically Chinese. Also a half-Chinese girl in the US who looked like a white girl who hadn’t dyed her hair black.

        It’s surprising that the witness identified him as possibly Asian or South American, though. Maybe he has an accent.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          He looks a little Asian around the eyes but otherwise looks like a BBC extra for a working class British person. It could be that he has one white parent as Kolohe noted and looks white as a result of how these things sometimes turn out.Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    After reading, its hard to tell if the author is being sarcastic, or if this was some sort of Poe’s Law.
    But if we take his “Ermagerd, Big Brother is takin’ mah Big Mac away!” schtick literally, this is a good example of how people, mostly conservatives, view our current status quo as just the inevitable result of free choice and naturally occurring events.

    For example, he holds up the prospect of bike lanes as a scary bizarre intervention of a nanny state, without considering how massively interventionist the freeways and suburban sprawl itself was.

    Or that our current diet of sugary, fatty foods is the result of lobbying and subsidy and deliberate choices made by the same nanny state.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Or that our current diet of sugary, fatty foods is the result of lobbying and subsidy and deliberate choices made by the same nanny state.

      I’d like to blame this on government as much as you’d like to blame it on corporations, but I’m deeply skeptical that the effects of crop subsidies on diet are more than negligible. For one, the subsidies are very small relative to retail prices of food: about $20 billion vs. $1 trillion are the figures I’ve seen. And some of the subsidization is in the form of price supports, which tends to make food more expensive rather than less, as does the ethanol mandate.

      The parsimonious explanation is that food is cheap because productivity has outstripped population growth, and there’s not much else to do with all that land. Calorie-dense foods taste better than boiled potatoes, so people eat them. Markets are very good at giving consumers what they demand, but consumers aren’t always so great at demanding things that are good for them.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        I don’t think it is so much a case that calls for blame or fault finding.
        My point is that the world of food is a result of many things, our DNA being just one.

        We, meaning our society, has deliberately engineered our political structures to make things like sugar and fat cheap and plentiful.
        Its not like there are naturally occurring field of Big Macs, with verdant stands of Snickers trees and artesian springs of Mountain Dew.

        We have also deliberately engineered our physical infrastructure to make driving easy and convenient, prioritizing cars over pedestrians. We subsidize fossil fuel production, and confiscate private land to construct freeways and restrict land use to prevent people from living and working in the same place, or having shopping within walking distance.

        So to invoke the spectre of governmental intervention seems a bit ridiculous.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          We, meaning our society, has deliberately engineered our political structures to make things like sugar and fat cheap and plentiful.

          Sure, in the sense that relatively free-market economies tend to produce general state of prosperity such that heavily processed foods can be produced at low prices relative to most people’s wages.

          But while I’m not a fan of the crop subsidies, it simply isn’t numerically plausible that they’re having a major effect on the price of soda or junk food. By all means, let’s get rid of the subsidies, but I guarantee you that the effect on the price of soda, chips, and everything else will be negligible, a couple percent at most.Report

          • Avatar Road Scholar says:

            Brandon’s correct here. A loaf of bread has something like a nickel’s worth of wheat in it, if that much. Double the cost of wheat and you’ve added a nickel to the price of a two or three dollar loaf. Most of the cost is in the refining, baking, transportation, retail, etc.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I largely concur but I need to add that there is something about the way people write about these things that brings out my inner-contrarian libertarian.

      There is often a tension between good public policy (public health to decrease diabetes and associated illnesses) and basic issues of liberty (allowing people to live as they please as long as they harm no others).

      Lots of people on the public policy set often strike me as going too far to using public policy as a nudge which strikes me as sneaky and backdoor authoritarianism. Worse is that they often bring in money/profit loss which makes it sound like they want to encourage public health so we can all be good little worker bees for corporation and stock profit.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        I agree, and any policy proposals should be negotiated with fair consideration given to everyone’s concerns and interests.

        Maybe one place to start is not with assertive proposals, but passive ones. Like, lets cut off subsidy for corn and see what happens to the soda industry. Lets prevent cattle grazing on public land and see how that affects beef consumption.Report

        • Avatar James K says:


          I think you’d find a lot of libertarians (to the extent there exists such a thing as “a lot of libertarians”) that would back that approach.

          It makes good sense from a policy economics perspective too – the natural response to a policy problem is to add more regulation, but the problem is that every regulation has side effects. This tends to result in layer upon layer of distortionary intervention, each one causing a host of it sown problems.

          The first thing to do when tying to solve a problem is to stop actively making it worse.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            However, if you’re not careful you start running into Chesterton’s fence.

            To be honest, there’s an awful lot of folks out there who think modern society is something of a weird, persistent, default, and will cheerfully start yanking out critical supports because “Clearly this isn’t a problem, I’ve never seen this section fall”.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              I think the main limitation with the Chesterton’s fence argument is that, frequently, everybody knows the dumbass reason the fence is there.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Chesty’s Fence has it’s value, but like the Precautionary Principle, it (IMHO) can quickly hit a point where nothing can be done because “what if” rules the day.

              It’s good to say “Stop! Have you thought about this?”, but there needs to be a reasonable acceptable point where we are done thinking and start acting and we’ll deal with the consequences if something comes loose.

              As I’ve said before, when it comes to regulation, liberals make the best conservatives at times.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I’ve seen people talk about recreating the basic economy and governing ideology that pretty much existed historically, then blithely assure you actual history could never happen.

                Then again, I’m a coder. It’s a really really good idea to know exactly why something is there before you remove it. Sometimes it’s there because a previous coder was an idiot, but you can’t take that chance.

                I feel pretty strongly that you part of the regulatory repeal process should be, basically, a statement of “This is why Regulation X was put into place” followed by an explanation of why it’s being repealed, including covering the original reasons it was put into place.

                Want to repeal US 13232.121.121212? Feel free. Explain why it was put into place, explain why it is not needed, ineffective, or whatever reason you feel it should be repealed, and most specifically explain whether the original issue that led to 13232.121.121212 is either addressed by other solutions, is no longer valid, or that finding another solution needs to be done by Congress or some other regulatory body.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I think the issue is a lot of times the story is something like, “This regulation was put into place for ${MINOR_BUT_LEGITMATE_PURPOSE} but has been kept for decades because it serves the interests of ${POWERFUL_BUSINESS}.”Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                Indeed, bad regulations can create their own constituencies.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                I’m good with that. At least it demonstrates that someone stopped and thought about it.Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                This is a good instinct. I code a little myself, and economics as a discipline teaches that it is important to understand the root cause of the problem you are trying to solve.

                The good news here is that law is reasonably well documented. You can just go into the legislative transcript to see what the promoters of a Bill were advocating for. Also, New Zealand Acts typically have a short purpose statement at the front, I’m not sure if that’s as common in the US though.

                Regulations are a slightly different matter, but in New Zealand at least they are written under the powers of a specific Act, so that usually makes it simple enough to work out why they were passed.

                From there it’s a matter of re-creating the intervention logic i.e. the proposed causal chain that starts with the law being passed and ends with its purpose being fulfilled. At that point you can look for evidence suggesting the logic did or didn’t work out as planned, or identify holes in the logic that might suggest the law was ill-conceived in the first place. Alternatively there may be a clash of values – the law may have a purpose that a later government disagrees with.

                Anyway, that’s my model of what a responsible review of a piece of legislation or regulation looks like.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The US regulatory process is pretty well laid out in law, which occasionally frustrates people who think a new President should be able to wave away old regulations with the wave of his hand (such as, say, reschedule marijuana).

                There are provisions for repealing recently enacted regulations with basically the stroke of a pen, but anything that’s older than 6 months or so? Repealing it has to go through the same process as enacting it.

                Which is basically a lengthy process in which the governing regulatory body proposes a rule change (or repeal) — complete with ample justification and backing legal and scientific or economic reasoning, has open meetings on it, invites public comment, etc.

                And if the proposed regulation ends up being enacted, it can be challenged in court if any part of the process was played loosely with, including both the legal aspects and the evidence and reasoning side. (For instance, if the EPA passed a regulation claiming that certain refineries should be allowed to vent as much cyanide gas as they wanted, and used some sketchy “US for Cyanide Gas” promoted “journal” articles — that’d be slapped down pretty quickly by courts). It’s even more fun with multiple regulatory bodies are involved…

                They also often face legal challenges (“Is this really under your purview under the law”) and of course Congress can repeal a regulation effectively at will, simply by passing a targeted enough law.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      One of my big issues with technocracy is that it tends to hate things that can’t be turned into data and graphs. Philosophical concepts like liberty and freedom are the worst for turning into graphs. So the technocrat will claim not to be against democracy but I suspect they secretly bemoan people for not being easily programmable.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        In the Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith criticised this exact mentality:

        The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.


        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          One reason why I always preferred Aristotle to Plato is that Aristotle realized that humans are complex things and emotions are always going to exist. Plato was trying to force humanity onto a narrow path.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          One reason why I always preferred Aristotle to Plato is that Aristotle realized that humans are complex things and emotions are always going to exist. Plato was trying to force humanity onto a narrow path.Report

  8. Avatar pillsy says:

    [He3] I mean, sure, you could turn the UK into Singapore in order to maybe get your health care expenditures down to 5% of GDP, or you could realize that you already spend less on healthcare than the vast majority of high-income countries and, perhaps, even consider spending a little bit more.Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Another woman comes forward with a story about an affair with Trump and hush money:

    I’m kind of amazed at how many people involved in the porn industry (though I suppose Playboy barely counts as pornography these days) are registered Republicans. I thought the GOP was supposed to be the party that tells us pornography is to blame for all the ills of society. There is something interesting but the idea of party-hard conservatives engaging in public moralizing and liberals who believe in a more do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt others view but are slightly more boring than Mitt Romney in their private lives.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      Just because they believe pornography causes all the ills of society, doesn’t mean they oppose those ills. Particularly not when they’re profitable ills.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      One of the big time cocaine dealers in Miami during the Cocaine Cowboy days, John Roberts, was a Republican and gave a lot of money to the Republican Party. I can think of many reasons why people in the porn industry might favor Republicans over Democrats even though the Evangelicals vote Republican and Republicans have an explicit anti-porn stance in their platform.

      One is that many people in porn are white and vote to Republicans in the same way that other white people to. The other is that the Republicans are the more friendly party to people making lots of money. Liberals also have their queasiness about porn and no political party is going to put an explicitly pro-porn blank in their platform. So given the choice between a party with mixed feelings about your industry that will tax you and an ostensibly anti-party that won’t tax you, I’d say the latter might be a no-brainer. A third is that like Evangelicals, they get off on the hypocrisy of it allReport

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        What are the demographics of folks in the adult entertainment industry? I’d venture to guess that is more deterministic of their ideology than their line of work?Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          What are the demographics of folks in the adult entertainment industry?

          Barely Legal Teens
          Average Dudes
          Hot Dudes

          Don’t get me wrong- I haven’t actually been to a Republican party, or watched any of their videos, I just have heard about what goes on.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        My guess is porn folks are very pro capitalism as in do whatever you can to make lots of money. Whatever supports making lots of money is good. It’s all about unfettered markets and getting your riches.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        This is a good analysis.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        One of the big time cocaine dealers in Miami during the Cocaine Cowboy days, John Roberts, was a Republican and gave a lot of money to the Republican Party.

        And after all that, George W. Bush appointed him to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

        What a travesty.Report

    • Avatar Jesse says:

      Pornographers are Republican’s for a simple reason – they’re rich people who want low taxes and no regulations (and probably slightly racist and sexist) who know that porn isn’t actually going to be limited.Report

  10. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    He4: I notice how the author carefully avoids giving even a cursory description of what the surgeon did, instead focusing on what a nice guy he is. I infer from this that whatever it was the surgeon did, it was spectacularly appalling and therefore had to be suppressed in order to maintain the narrative.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I googled the story earlier, and it sounds like a patient went into the hospital for a procedure which was performed, after which it was discovered he needed surgery for an unrelated reason. His physician delayed conducting the surgery while he continued regular duties, and two days after the surgery was finally performed. The prosecutors argued that his delay in providing necessary care killed the patient. The linked piece is dancing around the theoretical landscape of acts of commission vs omission without really giving us any facts to evaluate.Report

  11. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    [R3] That’s just the side show to the real story … the story is the possible deal Pope Francis (and +Parolin) are negotiating with China.

    In some ways it looks like the age-old investiture controversies that dogged Rome and Europe; but in others it looks much more like the Russian infiltration/take-over of the the ROC – this time aided and abetted by Rome.

    On the whole, the prudent sides are entirely skeptical of the process and the outcome… I haven’t read a single reputable Vaticanista who sees this as a good move.

    The cynical take is that this is Parolin’s (the Cardinal Secretary of State) bid for the succession. The current sentiment is that Francis has lost the curia (and his papacy is mostly dead), and that the next election will swing heavily back towards a Roman (not wanting another Francis type experiment)… and Parolin is well positioned to make that bid.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      When the Church needed the Empire to protect it against the Roman mob and the other Italian cities, it was happy to let secular princes appoint bishops. The Investiture Crisis came when it was felt more secure and didn’t need the Empire anymore. If Francis is playing the long game (and who’s been more successful at that than the RCC?), this is a step towards making the Church’s position in China secure.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        Hmmn, I think that’s a bit overbroad and reductionist; no one doubts that Rome can negotiate with China on the investiture of Bishops… many compromise models have worked over the centuries… but the most common has never been direct investiture by the state*, but a right to approve (which is a touch less than the right to veto).

        So if the reports are true, the Vatican is indeed considering the rather more radical step of allowing the State to select Bishops; plus the State isn’t acting in a neutral capacity much less as a loyal and “beloved son” it has reshaped the church’s teaching and practices (in addition to personnel)… going so far as creating a government-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. This alone is problematic. In this case, the critique isn’t that the compromise is irregular, it is that it is quite literally and figuratively not in good faith.

        As I say, there is virtually no constituency where this is being defended as a strategic move – other than by Friends-of-Francis – and that’s really a surprisingly small group.

        But perhaps you are right and in defiance of all human reason this will be why Francis was elected Pope…

        *In the West; the East has its own peccadillos it has to answer for.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          @marchmaine I’m curious as to the parallels / differences with how China has treated religious leaders in Tibet. I’d imagine that, for better or worse, that is the set of lessons that Pope Francis et al are trying to apply….

          (I don’t know enough about the situation to be more than curious, as of yet, but the curiosity is strong.)Report

  12. Avatar North says:

    Saw Black Panther. It was epic in terms of black representation and culture. It seemed very solid in meta themes and was generally interesting. I wasn’t enraptured but then again Wonder Woman didn’t enrapture me either and it was generally acclaimed so I’d say Marvel/Disney is going to make a fortune again and good for them.

    I’m gonna wait until later in the week to talk about particulars and themes. I think it offers a lot to think about.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      @north If you feel like writing a guest post….Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Every once in a while i almost wish i was remotely into the new era of superhero movies.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      I haven’t seen Black Panther or the recent Wonder Woman movie. I might check one or both out yet. Lots of people seem to really like both of them.

      I saw Professor Marston and the Wonder Women a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed that one.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      I’m not much of a super hero movie fan. I enjoyed the Iron Man movies, particularly the first. I liked Nolan’s Batmans, particularly the last two. Some of the XMens were okay but I can’t remember details. I haven’t really seen any others. And, as most know, I’m a super huge fan of the Fast and Furious franchise, which is basically super hero movies in disguise.

      I’m very intrigued by Black Panther. Am I likely to enjoy it? Is it worth seeing on the big screen? (What little I’ve seen show some pretty remarkable-looking visuals.)Report

      • Avatar Jesse says:

        As somebody whose seen the film, it really isn’t a superhero movie. Except for the final 20 to 30 minutes and even then, it’s less of one than say, The Avengers. Most of it is either a spy movie or a movie about a conflict within a nation (which I realize is vague, but to say much would be a spoiler).

        There’s more talk about colonialism than space aliens or super villains.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I agree with Jesse that Black Panther is easily one of the least super hero-y of the MCU movies. The visuals, styles and music are distinctly different and well worth seeing and the writing, while not particularly surprising, upholds some conversations and themes that have considerable merit. So you may enjoy it.Report

    • Avatar Jesse says:

      I loved it, but then again, I’m a geek who knew Black Panther was before five years ago. If nothing else though, I think this film shows that you don’t need the “typical” sci-fi backdrop to have a sci-fi story. Hopefully, that’ll mean more varied future worlds in fiction, if nothing else.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I join you in hoping that the film makes boat loads of money and encourages more products along it’s lines from a diversity and cultural standpoint.Report

  13. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Speaking of my first link Chait thinks there is a “good chance” someone (probably the Russians) are blackmailing Donald Trump:

    What else do we know? We know Russia has a decades-old system for gathering compromising sexual secrets on prominent foreign visitors. We also know Trump harbored a burning resentment of President Obama in the wake of Obama’s mocking him at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. And many reports of Trump’s decision-making suggest that the strongest consideration in any decision is the chance to defile or destroy something associated with Obama.
    Far from being bizarre, imagining Trump paying prostitutes to pee on a bed Obama used as a primitive revenge ritual, and Russians taping the episode, is perfectly consistent with what we know about both parties. That exact scenario may not have happened. Indeed, sex is not the only kind of secret Trump harbors. He endured months of criticism first from Republican candidates, then Democrats, and all along from the media, for refusing to disclose his tax returns. Trump clearly feels protective of his financial information. Some of that information is in the hands of his business partners, many of whom are associated with Russia or are unsavory in some other way. All in all, the odds are disconcertingly high that Russia, or somebody, has blackmail leverage over the president of the United States.

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      To add to the fire, Mueller cheerfully just indicted a baker’s dozen of Russians for a lengthy list of fun crimes, all about illegal campaigning and the crimes associated with it. (Stolen identities, using stolen identities to launder Russian funds for electioneering, etc).

      Turns out the Russians were pushing Sanders and Stein, in addition to Trump. I think, from skimming the article, they were also working to kneecap Trump’s primary opponents. He was clearly a favored choice.

      Which, given those pesky Russian sanctions still aren’t in place, I can understand why.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        It’s almost… almost… like we should be concerned about the legitimacy of the election.


        Because, you know, those 3 million illegal Californians who all pulled the Dem lever.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          Hot take – the identity theft stuff is illegal and should be, but the other count (the first one) would be protected 1st amendment speech were it done by Americans – and we’re setting bad precedents just because dirty foreigners are doing it.

          Like, I could see a Trump US attorney going after people at a pro-DACA rally for trying to sway US elections without having the right paperwork to do so.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            The 1st amendment issue is real but is still a real problem for us. If foreign actors can put their thumbs on the scales surreptitiously that can affect our elections. That is a real concern. I’m not sure what the solution is but if they can do it and it works, they will keep doing it. Even if it is only to sow dissent, anger and confusion that is still a goal for Russia or whoever. That was very possibly all they wanted to do in 16. Just pour a bit of gas on the fire and its a win for them.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              It really doesnt say anything good that you can pay someone to cosplay as Prison Hillary, and that will sway some crucial number of votes.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter says:

              If foreign actors can put their thumbs on the scales surreptitiously that can affect our elections. That is a real concern.

              Yes… and no. We spent Billions on the election, with everyone trying to influence everyone. Highly intelligent people spend their lives trying to figure out the best way to influence the election.

              It’s hard for me to see how the Russians spending a few tens of thousands illegally in the election is going to make a difference.

              Maybe more importantly, they’ve got other levers to pull. Iran hated Carter so they didn’t release the hostages until after he lost. Various terror groups could pull something, I could see the Russians helping or at least looking the other way.

              Or even the country itself could go out of it’s way to embarrass or not the administration. Do things to make the Prez look weak, or strong. Ideally you’d be pulling this stuff for a few years so it’d be a death of a thousand cuts sort of thing.

              And then there’s the “really look for dirt” move and give it to wikileaks.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                They had a monthly budget over almost $2M by the end. So, no, not tens of thousands.

                Also, much of what you mention would be illegal and/or immoral… inlcuding hostage taking and terror attacks (!!!(!!!)).

                This defense seems little more than, “They didn’t do anything. And if they did, it wasn’t a big deal. And if it was, everyone’s doing it anyway.”

                Many people seek to influence the election but are at least motivated by something other than “undermine the US to weaken it’s standing in the world.” So we can criticize the Koch brothers or Super PACs or or whatever but most reasonable people will acknowledge the primary goals of those groups are not direct and explicit harm to our nation.

                Trump supporters backed him because they thought he was best for them and the nation… for whatever definition of “best” mattered to them. Likewise HRC supporters and Bernie supporters, etc. The Russians effort was directly opposed to what was best for Americans and America. That matters. Like, a lot.

                Even if you don’t think Trump is bad for America and/or good for Russia… the Russians did and that is what motivated their attack on our election, our democracy, and our nation.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                Also, much of what you mention would be illegal and/or immoral… including hostage taking and terror attacks (!!!(!!!))

                Governments have been known to do these things and worse. If you’re ethically able to take hostages and launch terror attacks, then timing them to try to affect the election doesn’t seem like a step further.

                This defense seems little more than, “They didn’t do anything. And if they did, it wasn’t a big deal. And if it was, everyone’s doing it anyway.”

                I’m saying they did do it, but the amount of influence they had SHOULD have been a lot less than say, HRC’s media crew. Or for that matter, Trump with his absurd amount of free publicity.

                Given everything else going on, and the relative size of other factors, I find it hard to believe what they did affected the outcome. But I can easily believe various people want to think HRC would have won without this, or that they want to claim Trump isn’t “legit”.

                And agreed with everything else you said about motivations and so forth. However I’m not sure what we do to prevent Russia from being a bad actor.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                This does not really jive with the (factually inaccurate) thing you said here:
                “It’s hard for me to see how the Russians spending a few tens of thousands illegally in the election is going to make a difference.”Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            Who said anything about the law?Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Hot take – the identity theft stuff is illegal and should be, but the other count (the first one) would be protected 1st amendment speech were it done by Americans – and we’re setting bad precedents just because dirty foreigners are doing it.

            What precedent? What the Russians have been indicted for has been illegal since at least 1972.

            Indeed, a good chunk of the indictment is spent basically showing the Russians were electioneering, not just spouting off individual opinions.

            And you might even be wrong about the “it would be legal if they were citizens”– I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t run afoul of a number of FEC violations by basically running a PAC without registering. But I’m a little fuzzy on such things post-Citizen’s United.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter says:

        And then, after he was elected, the Russians backed the “not my President” movement.

        If your purpose was to try to create Chaos in the American system, I can see why you’d want Trump over HRC.Report

  14. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Cr5: A close RTFA reveals this choice passage:

    …the false pretense and promise of an important briefing with a lawyer was an attempt by Desgroux to romance the unnamed woman, who knew the man for about 20 years and said she believed he was experiencing maritial problems. It is unclear if she believed his claims of being a general.

    “Unclear?” She’d known him for 20 years.

    But yes, assuming he did what the article describes, it is actually a crime. Just kind of a silly one, an elaborate cosplay resulting in an unsuccessful attempt at seduction.Report