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June 10, 2019


Astonishingly prescient stuff from E B White, Janie. Also, very much hope that whatever took you to the ER resolves soon, and well.

This puts me in mind of the SpaceX satellites, now 60 but eventually to be (IIRC) 1200.

They are bright enough to obscure the dimmer stars. And I guess maybe some of the not-so-dimmer stars.

So that we can have better internet coverage.

A couple of years ago my wife and I were out west for my niece's wedding. The wedding was in Sedona, we stopped at Zion and Bryce in Utah as part of the trip.

If you look at the night sky from a really dark place, you don't have the sensation of standing "here" and looking at the stars "out there". You have the sensation of being immersed in an immense sea of stars. You feel that you are being lifted up into the heavens.

Who is going to be able to feel that way when the sky is already full. Of gizmos.

SpaceX is doing some really great stuff. But this flood of satellites cluttering up the sky is a seriously BAD idea. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a mechanism for evaluating the tradeoffs of a satellite, let alone to tell someone No.

russell and wj: I can't think of anything SpaceX could do, possibly short of reversing climate change, that would be a fair exchange for the destruction of the night sky. Not that it's not already more or less destroyed by surface lighting over a lot of the planet (when I'm in Cambridge I sometimes can't see a single star), but at least it's still possible to go somewhere else and see stars. Elon Musk should be shot off into space in one of his own rockets, to play by himself.


GftNC: Thanks. I feel much better already, due to the wonders of modern chemistry. ;-)

I don't mean to be mysterious, but it's a long story about a complaint that's pretty minor in the grand scheme of things: sialadenitis and sialolithiasis, if you care to google. (Or maybe not, it's not an attractive topic.) I've been through it before, but much less painfully and without some weird side effects that I didn't know could happen. I'm not looking forward to the possible need to remove the offending object by brute force, but we'll see.

A decent article on the satellite constellation:

It seems that they will fade significantly as they reach working orbits, but not to the point of invisibility to the naked eye is a truly dark sky. Astronomers, and particularly radio astronomers, are understandably unhappy.

That sounds incredibly uncomfortable, JanieM (I’d not know that lithiasis was even a thing). I wish you all the best.

The Vatican remains a deeply regressive institution:

The 31-page document was decisive in its definition of the gender binary, condemning any deviation. It states that a person claiming identity beyond cisgender (when personal and gender identity is the same as birth sex) is trying to be "provocative".

The ignorance and cruelty of this is breathtaking.

Given the Catholic Church's negative views on homosexuality, while heavily staffed with homosexuals, this has to raise a question about how many transgender clergy (possibly in massive denial) there are.

The hierarchy seem to be especially adept at condemning in their flock what they do/are themselves.

Given their doctrine forbids them much of family life, their ability to nonetheless pronounce on it is .... interesting.

The idea is that those totally non-involved are the only ones who can make objective judgements. Those that have a family life (or worse: sex) are obviously totally biased.

"The ignorance and cruelty of this is breathtaking."

Probably not ignorant and cruel enough for Rod Dreher over at the American Conservative.

I don't how Dreher is going to square this with the Pope's recent criticism of his Benedict Option franchise, which Dreher responded to a couple of days ago.

Both pronouncements would seem to threaten "Benedict Option" book sales, as they ostensibly and theoretically curtail the need for Dreher Benedictines to carve out safe spaces for themselves to deny cake to and otherwise legally shun and discriminate against LGBTs and their families.

But maybe not, Dreher's ability to gin up conservative Christian victimhood (ya mean WE don't get to condemn and discriminate in public like we used too and now the Other can criticize US with the impunity WE have always assumed was OUR birthright), while meanwhile quoting himself at length doesn't seem to possess any limits.

I don't disagree with Dreher on everything, mind you.

By the way, the issue is not that sizable percentages of the clergy are gay, bisexual,, or even transgender. The scandal is the criminal actions of those individuals who those who prey upon minors/children with their predilections and do the same to their fellow lower-ranking clergy, and their superiors' cover ups of those crimes.

And I'm sure the focus on homosexual molestation and assault is taking some attention away from heterosexual assault and harassment .... among all religious denominations.

The TAC writers and commentariat also like to kid themselves that these phenomena, including abortion, are somehow of relatively recent vintage and flowered indiscriminately as a result of the so called sexual revolution during the "Godless" 1960s.

They should observe the Gospel of "Go F&ck Thyself", the conservative family-friendly rapists and the conservative prigs all, and leave the rest of us alone to procure birth control for our occasional pleasures, should the latter be necessary.

Without in any way discounting the pain that organized religion has caused to people outside the boundaries of cis-genderhood, it nonetheless cracks me up that the strongest language the Vatican can summon is to accuse those folks of being "provocative".

At least we've moved past "stone them", in official pronouncements, anyway. Progress of a sort, I suppose.

Baby steps.

Janie, I hope your bout with hard-to-pronounce maladies eases or, better, goes away.

By the way, your partial withdraw from the OBWI life, while commendable, in the pursuit of doing nothing is putting a crimp in our pursuits of doing nothing, ... (doing nothing, at least of importance to the world at large, has been a lifelong practice of mine pursued with Zen-like discipline, which is to say with hardly any discipline at all).

I've had to take more time from doing nothing to compensate for your reduced contributions here, and I must admit, I'm falling behind on my daily staring-off-into-space chores, daydreaming and wool-gathering activities, and I'm now way behind on my hog-splitting endeavors as well, thank you very much, because if there is anything I cannot countenance, it's going whole hog on anything for any length of time.

So that said, remember when the conservative movement use to plague us with those citizen initiatives back in the day, hanh?


I say again, violent Civil War.

And who is it, exactly, that is preventing Dreher from heading off to live a life of blissful contemplation on a rural hillside, somewhere far far away from the madness of modern life?

Ora et labora! Go live the dream. Go with our blessing.

And yet, he remains, repeatedly telling us that if we don't straighten up, he's gonna pack his bags and leave. Someday soon. Not today, probably not tomorrow, maybe next week. But soon, just you wait and see.

He's saving up, via books sales, for the Gucci luggage set with which to make his getaway.

Here he is today on the Pope's pronouncements on transgenders.


Well, he gave the game away last week, when he lamented how can we Christianize society when we can't even Christianize the Christian Church.
He has also thrown in with strict Muslim Sharia law on these matters, not to mention the alt-right Putin-worshiping RUSSIAN Orthodox Church.

How bout you leave society to society and get out of our faces.

He's the Jim Cramer of conservative religious commentary. Every freak, to his mind, who raises their head on YouTube and talk shows, deserves his whack a mole opinionating.

If the two of them, along with p and Elon Musk, would just STFU once and for all, Janie and the rest of us could settle into doing nothing with no trouble at all.

Oh, JDT, you make me laugh even when I should be sleeping, but I'm up because it's time to take some pills -- and of course I had to check email and ObWi on the way.

Dreher -- unusually for me, I clicked over to that link, but I don't see how you can stand to wallow through the mush. All I can say based on the title is, Who's calling whom a gender ideologue?!?!?!?!? Pot, kettle, etc. FFS.

Who is it, exactly?

His agent and his publishers.

His Benedict Option, as he defines it, won't dwell on a rural hillside faraway from the action.

They will be semi-cloistered communities of the faithful in our midst, ready to jump out at us from the bushes wielding pamphlets like Hari Krishnas, or close enough to come into town on Saturday market days like hippie commuter communes and sell their beadwork, baked goods .... no wedding cakes .. to we sexually indiscriminate heathen, or maybe to drop off some kid in their movement who they flushed from the closet and couldn't convert, not wanting to use force, which is commendable.

I do wonder how they will handle that type of thing, because as we know, sexual imaginings do seem to flower and flourish amid Religious clampdowns.

They would shake their heads at us in silence with expressions of censorious pity on their faces that one day we will burn and so will the kid they ousted if he doesn't watch out and stop with the gay patty-fingers.

They won't be so particular as to stop voting, of course.

'Children enjoy another right which is of equal importance: to “grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity” and “continuing to grow up and mature in a correct relationship represented by the masculinity and femininity of a father and a mother and thus preparing for affective maturity.'

So says the Vatican. I wish someone had told God that.

Buried in the document, there's an acknowledgement of the "suffering of those who have to live situations of sexual indeterminacy", along with the bizarre suggestion that anyone who's transgender without being intersex is ignoring that suffering. But that's all. It's as if it had been written by someone who'd spent their whole life in a library.

Priests I've spoken to are deeply aware of the range of human experience, they're quick to listen and slow to judge. The Vatican not so much.

The more Dreher publicly decries the sexual depravity of the age, the more likely it is that he'll be found dead in a seedy motel room, wearing TWO wet-suits, a ball-gag, and a butt-plug.

That's just the way it works in the modern GOP. Examples abound.

Ok, last word on Dreher until the next last words.

Here he is doing yeoman service, really:


But the question becomes, when the Benedict Option evolves from optional publishing bonanza to well-established institution, with the accompanying bureaucratic arterial schlerosis of all established institutions, how are they going to police this kind of thing among themselves, without some sort of KGB-level surveillance and invasive ratting-out procedures.

You know, being a human institution with all of the individual and institutional self-interest that comes with.

What will they do with false innuendo and out the other regarding sexually-related matters? Especially if they don't recognize crimes like the one described in the link as power-related rather than, or in addition to a species of sin.

Maybe they'll be perfect. But I suspect their aspirations to spotlesslessness, after rejecting our imperfections, will motivate secrecy and a public relations loose lips sink ships mentality, ya know, kind of like the Catholic Church is now buried in.

What would Hillary Clnton say if we admit what is going on in our little tight ship. We can't let this out and provide ammo to the enemy.

I'll bet even at the original Beneditine monastery, there was some covered-up canoodling going on, especially after quaffing too much of the blood of Christ.

Or maybe they can do a sort of fierce Madame Mao perpetual revolution sort of deal to keep everyone on their toes.

I ask these questions in a sort of Walker Percy frame of mind, he the devout Catholic convert and existentialist.

I find religion, the seeking of the divine, captivating ..... for an agnostic.

But the world never disappoints enough, even with its endless heartbreaking disappointments, for me stop reveling in the human condition and throw it over for ...... well, what?

I see that Snarki said in many fewer and pointedly funnier words what I'm getting at.

Priests I've spoken to are deeply aware of the range of human experience, they're quick to listen and slow to judge. The Vatican not so much.

Folks at the Vatican have typically been away from actual lay human beings for a long time. Makes it easier to judge without being inconvenienced by pesky things like facts and reality.

Jesus, Janie, I've just googled your conditions - they sound absolutely horrible. Thank God indeed for modern chemistry! (I see I'm being very prodigal indeed with the deific nomenclature for an atheist.) May you recover fast, and hopefully without the need for surgery.

And speaking of deities, or their relatives, I thank Snarki, not only for her pithy and accurate comment above, but also for (in the dim past) recommending John Scalzi; his extended oeuvre is giving me a lot of uncomplicated pleasure at the moment.

I'm giving Janie extra points for Weirdness of Malady. Godspeed!

The Vatican can't reach full irrelevance fast enough. (That or drastically change its ways, but I think that's much less likely.)

Both, I'd say:


With a side of ugly and that goes for his mother too.

NASA will soon convene a double-blind, deaf, and dumb study on gravity.....
pro and con.

Some say Isaac Newton's head rose to meet the apple.

Others speculate that Newton himself was the fruit and should be disqualified from sciencing, not to mention barred from harvesting the other fruits in such a haphazard manner.

Tucker Carlson sees a hand in front of his face and wants a second opinion on whether it is HIS hand or the hand of cosmopolitan European Jewry.

Everything is relative.

Conservatives earn MBAs (Monkey Business Administration) and then promote their relatives and call it subhuman resources management.

subhuman resources management

Today's prize for the best coinage.

From the Economist's daily email newsletter:

The Southern Baptist Convention, America’s biggest Protestant denomination, holds its annual conference in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 11th and 12th. The gathering takes place amid a furore over revelations of rampant sexual abuse among the denomination’s 47,000 churches. A recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found that nearly 400 Southern Baptist officers, including several well-known pastors, have been credibly accused of sex crimes against over 700 victims since 1998.
In short, the Catholics don't have a corner on the market. Power, even theologically based power, corrupts.

Power, even theologically based power, corrupts.

I tend to think the theological sort corrupts the most: there's no limit to what you can get away with if you (or your congregation) think God is on your side.

They will be semi-cloistered communities of the faithful in our midst, ... close enough to come into town on Saturday market days like hippie commuter communes and sell their beadwork, baked goods ....

So, basically, Amish.

If they can make a shoo-fly pie, fine with me.

Amish wouldn't be a problem. But suppose they're more like Israel's ultra-Orthodox? That could get messy.

Priests I've spoken to are deeply aware of the range of human experience, they're quick to listen and slow to judge.

This is far from universal.

I tend to think the theological sort corrupts the most: there's no limit to what you can get away with if you (or your congregation) think God is on your side.

This is a phenomenon I got to see at great length during our many years of gay rights and SSM referenda in Maine. During the first campaign for marriage (2009), there was a hearing before the legislature's judicial committee, held in the Augusta Civic Center. It lasted all day and into the night, with thousands of people in attendance and hundreds of people testifying -- 3 minutes per person, alternating sides of the issue.

The very first speaker was this guy, who was the bishop of the Portland diocese at the time. An old-fashioned priest-figure in black, with clerical collar intact, almost a caricature of the reserved, dried-up, judgmental figure of a priest that was so common in my Catholic childhood.

More interesting was the long string of back country preachers, appointed by no one, who were absolutely sure that they, and no one else, spoke for the true wishes of God.

If I were God, the first and worst sin would be to have the goddamned hubris to think you were speaking for me. Fucking nitwits.

It's also an odd commentary on the Reformation, right? People rebelled against the power of the Pope -- one guy -- to be their channel to God, but now we have a gazillion self-appointed backcountry popes who each think they are the one and only channel, the one and only correct interpreter of the Bible, etc. How fucking stupid do you have to be to think that there is any such thing as a "literal" interpretation of the Bible, and how turned inside out with self-regard to think that you are just the guy to hold the clue.


"Be conservative with what you send out into the world, be liberal in what you accept."

Guiding principles for internet RFCs. If only religions had to conform to RFC standards, we might be in a better world.

Sadly, no.

It's easy to commit atrocities when you believe absurdities.

Janie's proliferating "backcountry popes" are evidence that atheists like me are too polite to instigate a good old-fashioned religious war. Not between atheists and believers, but among the pious. May some god or another forgive us.


As I dredge up the memories, it seems to me that the bishop was actually the second speaker, edged out by one of those backcountry, no-denomination-you-ever-heard-of preachers. I don't think the bishop was too happy about it. He was an important man, after all.

Thus we see a sample hint of the good old-fashioned religious war TP mentions, the fault lines suppressed in the face of a common enemy, those provocative gay people.

If I were God, the first and worst sin would be to have the goddamned hubris to think you were speaking for me. Fucking nitwits.

Amen, sister, amen.

(Although I'm not at all convinced that God isn't on board with this as well. Especially considering how many of them demonize everyone else in sight.)

a good old-fashioned religious war. Not between atheists and believers, but among the pious

You remind me of this section of Chesterton's Lepanto, one of the most stirring of great, bad poems:

The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes

And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.

It's awful and wrong in so many, many ways, and yet...


Maybe the back country preachers like measles better than the gay cooties:


I'd wish a pox upon the Maine republican anarchists, but they've wished it upon themselves and their unworthy children.

JDT, did you notice from the article that, besides Maine soon, the states which do not allow a religious exception are California, West Virginia, and . . . Mississippi? Interesting collection. But hard to find an ideological common ground.

But suppose they're more like Israel's ultra-Orthodox?

So, basically, Borough Park in Brooklyn.


Riding back from a team lunch today with my work-mates, who are from Kathmandu, Lima, Mumbai, and somewhere in the Ukraine.

Also, New Hampshire.

Kathmandu observes, in a discussion of the business model of Intuit, his former employer, the following, regarding the process of filing taxes:

in most places in the world, OECD anyway, the government figures out your taxes, retains an appropriate amount from your pay, and basically mails you a statement every year to let you know what you paid.

Americans don't trust their government, even with basically governmental functions, so they insist on doing all of this crap for themselves, even if it costs them money. Sometimes a lot of money.

And there you have it.

Plus, also, please consider the above sentence beginning "Kathmandu observes, ..." my personal challenge to the ObWi commentariat to lay down an equally convoluted, yet grammatically correct, sentence. I know you guys are up to it.

I'm going to bed before I cross the line into true run-on territory.

So, basically, Borough Park in Brooklyn.

Not familiar with Borough Park in particular. But the Orthodox Jews I do know in Brooklyn have jobs doing things like managing computer networks. They are Orthodox enough that, for example, men and women are kept separate at weddings (the groom danced on a table held up by the guys, so the women on the other side of the barrier could at least see him). And the bride and groom are forbidden to even touch each other before the wedding -- although they did have a couple of opportunities to at least meet . . . at Trader Joes. (Honest!) But perhaps that doesn't quite qualify as "ultra".

Talking of religious wars, here’s an interesting piece on Buttigieg’s college thesis:

Russell is a metonymystic.

Maybe we should call him that instead of russell.

I would not assert copyright.

In other religious news, scientific confirmation of the bleedin’ obvious:
Lower levels of brain activity in cognitive control and reasoning areas when focusing on sacred values

OK, it's literary rather than religious. But still, the mindset resonates.

Didn't White write The Once and Future Pig ?

Turning off the mind
doesn't necessarily mean turning on to terrorism, trumpism, thatism thisism ism ism ism.


Then there's Theodore H. White, who wrote "The Making of the President 1960" (and a string of later, similar books). That book came out in 1961, when I was eleven and fresh off all the excitement of Kennedy being elected (a Catholic!!!! wow!). I loved the book, and I loved "The Once and Future King," and I do think that as a kid -- which I still was, despite my reading habits -- I had a vague notion that they might be the same person.

This is normal:

Confusion abounds as Trump's July 4 plans remain a mystery

The first sign that 2019's celebration may be a little different came in a February tweet from Trump announcing a special "Salute to America" on July 4 that would feature "an address by your favorite President, me!"


Forgot to thank hsh for this: I'm giving Janie extra points for Weirdness of Malady. Godspeed!

Even my sister the nurse had never heard of this stuff. When she looked it up, she wrote to me and pointed out that sources say it happens mostly to "the elderly." We had a chuckle over that, because our mother is 95 and going if not strong, then at least steadily, still living on her own with a lot of help, and still mentally coherent. Besides the usual resistance to being defined as "old," we have the example of our mother to make it all the easier to say "What, me elderly?" ;-)

One of the traditional definitions of "middle age": 10 years older than I am now. I suspect we could do something similar with "elderly."

However in both cases I suspect it's more about attitudes towards life than age per se. Personal experience with my own mother bears that out.

Confusion abounds as Trump's July 4 plans remain a mystery

Not surprising that we haven't heard about the White House's plans for this. Even for them, it can be challenging to talk about the details of something that doesn't exist.

Bit rough on the Park Service folks who are supposed to be coordinating the whole thing. But when has inconveniencing others ever mattered to Trump?

sources say it happens mostly to "the elderly."

Typical visit to the physician, since I've been 60+.

"How are you?"
"Basically fine, except for X Y and Z."
"Hmmm, let's have a look."

Poke. Prod. Palpate.

"How old are you now?"
"Oh, OK".

As in, if you were 20 years younger, we'd look into it, but at your age probably best to just suck it up.

Best comment from a physician along these lines:

me: "I have this thing..."
doc: "Let's look".

Poke. Prod. Palpate.

me: "What is it?"
doc: "Lipoma."
me: "Need to do anything about it?"
doc: "No, it's just along for the ride".

My doctor (who I have been seeing for over 25 years) says to me, with wonder in her voice: "Nothing ever changes with you, does it." Apparently this is extremely uncommon, in her experience, with men over 70. Guess I'm among the blessed.

Does she ask you, by way of distracting repartee, what you want for Christmas just as she begins the digital insertion for your prostate exam?

I just made up a Polock joke for this rightwing occasion, on which I feel all political correctness should be dispensed with::


How many rightwing Poles does it take to reach a consensus?

Tick tock

One to think up a con and the rest of them who ain't got no sense.

Insert an American for a Pole and you'll need to have your prostate removed:


Does she ask you, by way of distracting repartee, what you want for Christmas just as she begins the digital insertion for your prostate exam?

Happily, Kaiser decided some while back that digital prostate exams were no longer necessary. Can't say I miss 'em.

I'm not so sure Trump particularly objects to Congress (and us) finding out why he wanted the citizenship question.** I think it's more that he's decided to just reject any and all requests from Congress for information. Because he objects to anybody acting like they get to judge his actions at all. (After all, he didn't have to put up with that kind of nonsense at the Trump Organization.)

** Spoiler alert: it's because he doesn't agree with the Founding Fathers' view that Congress should represent everybody in their district. Just the "real Americans" -- i.e. his supporters. And, until he can figure out how to ask for that in the census, asking about citizenship is at least a step in that direction.

Kaiser decided some while back that digital prostate exams were no longer necessary.

analog is always better. much warmer.

It takes a while to get there, but this column points out another reason for the citizenship question that I have not heard mentioned before:


Short: states that do not have constitutional requirements to apportion their legislatures by number of persons (as the U.S. Constitution does) could use the new census data to apportion state districts by number of citizens instead of total population. With the usual suspects coming out with enhanced political power as a result.

I'm with Kaiser as well.

They don't do the PSA blood test either, unless the patient requests it. It has been shown to be an unreliable diagnostic indicator by peer reviewed scientific consensus.

I had it done last time and it was a low number and unchanged pretty much from the time before, which, as in golf, indicates you are on the green in two, but also as in golf, it's the short game that'll kill ya.

The secret is to relax ....... in golf.

Because he objects to anybody acting like they get to judge his actions at all.

I don't even think it's that.

He just likes to stir the sh*t and provoke people. It's what he does for fun, it gets him in the headlines, and his supporters get a kick out of it.

Here online we say, "don't feed trolls". Since 2015 we've been feeding the troll.

The gerrymandering cuck Hofeller was the Andrew Johnson of this era.

Like the rest of the radical racist conservative movement, he beavered away in great organizational detail and out of sight of the customary political and media watchtowers for decades undermining and sabotaging the voting franchise for blacks, Hispanics, liberals, anyone not malignantly republican.

Everything he has done, every geographical squiggle on every gerrymandered map guided by his cheating, filthy hands over the past decades must be undone, erased, and disappeared.

Every election stolen by his methods, local, state, and federal, must be undone, done over, and reparations paid to the cheated.

Or there will be violence and the violence will not contain itself behind gerrymandered borders.

Since it's an open thread, SpaceX put three Canadian satellites in orbit today, using a recycled Falcon 9 booster, and successfully landed the booster back at the Vandenberg launch complex in California. The fog was so thick you couldn't tell how close to dead-center the landing was :^)

SpaceX is making this seem routine.

If Canada can afford to put up three earth-observation satellites, it seems reasonable that California could afford it (per Jerry Brown's threat last year).

Now if they can just get the Falcon "man rated", so we can stop paying the Russians for transport to the ISS.


As Thomas Jefferson and others of the Founders pointed out: "Sure, Americans may violently overthrow their government again."

Rereading the E.B. White quote in Janie's post, I love the words "McCarthy corporeal and Bergen stuffed", which of course refers to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his monocled and uppity dummy, Charley McCarthy.

I recently upgraded from a flip phone to an IPhone and I like to think when I reach for the device as an anchor in the informational shitstorm that it will greet my inquiries thusly: "So, who's the dummy now?"


The guest star is Edward Everett Horton, later the slightly cracker narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales, which was featured on Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Trump declares that he’d gladly accept help from a foreign power if it tries to sabotage the 2020 election. And this surprises anyone why? It would be more surprising, astonishing actually, if he said (honestly or not) that he wouldn't.

One of life's little mysteries:
Japan's Prime Minister is in Tehran for talks, trying to cool hostilities. Not least because Japan is a major buyer of Iranian oil. (And, frankly, because he could really use a foreign policy win.)

Then, two more tankers, including a Japanese-owned ship, are attacked. Yet somehow this is assumed to be the Iranians' fault. To me, that makes absolutely no sense. It seems far more likely that this (and, by extension, the previous attacks) were the work of the Saudis, trying to push the US into attacking their enemy.

And this surprises anyone why?

It doesn't surprise anyone. The demographic on this doesn't break down on whether folks are surprised or not, but whether they give a crap about it or not.

To me, that makes absolutely no sense.

"Making sense" is in short supply. That said, what is plainly obvious is (a) the Saudis want to be the hegemon in the gulf region and (b) we want to help them make that happen.

Of the 19 guys who were hands-on on 9/11, 15 were Saudis.

Iran's biggest sin is not having more oil than than Sunni Arab states in their neighborhood.

Every fncking thing in the modern world depends on oil. Everything. The people who control the oil, control the world.

Democracy, republican governance, liberal open society, whatever you want to call whatever it is we think we're doing here in this country, is all well and good, but it takes a back seat to the sheer freaking juice of having that kind of money and power.

Get in the way, the bone saw comes out.

My sense (quite possibly less than perfectly accurate) is that many of those who are down on Iran object, in no small part, because it is a theocracy. The counter to that is that Saudi Arabia is, de facto if not de jure, a theocracy as well.

The significant difference (besides oil) being that Iran has been civilized for millennia, while a couple of generations ago the Saudis were still nomadic camel herders. Which means that the prospects for the Iranians acting like modern, civilized people is far higher. In a time when we are actually exporting oil, i.e. not economically dependent on the Saudis, it makes no sense to embrace the Saudis in their theological dispute with Iran. Which both parties seem (albeit perhaps to different degrees) to be inclined to -- even pre-Trump.

Trumpers believe the Steele dossier gives Trump the freedom to use foreign sources.

nevermind that, as President, Trump's access to - and leverage over - 'foreign sources' might be somewhat different than what freelance snoop Christopher Steele had.

Saudi Arabia is and has been since its founding an alliance between the House of Saud and the Wahhabis.

Iran has a very much longer, and plainly much more complex, history, which recently includes, of course, the overthrow of Mossadegh by the US and Britain, in defense of private oil interests, from which much Iranian hostility towards the US stems.

Though the structure of the governments may differ, I find it hard to believe that, as a practical matter, Saudi Arabia is less theocratic than Iran.

Plus, I would like to visit Iran. SA not so much.

Plus, I would like to visit Iran. SA not so much.

Having visited Saudi Arabia (consulting gig), I can say that you aren't missing much. Mecca might be interesting, but as a non-Muslim I wouldn't be allowed there under the current regime.

I would go rather further and say that I can imagine living in Iran -- albeit probably only after the current regime moderates a bit more. But Saudi Arabia? No. It's all about the people (as opposed to the governments) in both places.

So the "warrior" Sarah Sanders steps down. Her name will live in infamy.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her position as WH Press Sec by the end of the month.

Although my personal bet is on the Saudis being behind this, I would not completely exclude the possibility that one of the competing factions in Iran is instead. There are hardliners that were opposed to the whole nuclear deal and believe that a hot conflict would profit them.

The problem is that none of the actors are credible. None of them. Almost any scenario you can think of, could be true.

I share wj's sense that Iran is less likely than almost any of the others, from a purely upsides / downsides analysis.

I also believe that it almost doesn't matter who is responsible. All parties will use this to further their own ends to whatever degree they can. Bolton is probably checking the calendar to see if it's his birthday, his dreams may finally be coming true.


I keep hoping that Trump will finally decide Bolton is getting too high a profile, and thus detracting from His magnificence. (There are some straws in the wind that way. The sort of put-downs that preceded the departure of various others.) Since Bolton probably can't be hassled into quitting, it will probably be necessary to fire him by tweet.

Probably too late to do any good. But one may hope.

Now if they can just get the Falcon "man rated", so we can stop paying the Russians for transport to the ISS.

Getting an early human-rating for the Falcon 9 wasn't compatible with SpaceX's other business plans. SpaceX wanted/needed to finish solving the return landing problem; NASA requires seven consecutive problem-free launches after significant design changes. Apparently the Block 5 version had enough changes that they had to start over for getting to seven.

With any luck, both the Falcon 9 (with Dragon) and the Atlas V (with Starliner) will be human-rated by sometime next year.

And there was the small matter of the exploding escape rockets in the Dragon test.
But yes, sometime next year.

Meet our probable next Prime Minister.

The article doesn’t contain anything new, but it’s a pretty accurate overview.


Hey, why should we have all the fun on this side of the pond?

(AKA misery loves company.)

Although my personal bet is on the Saudis being behind this, I would not completely exclude the possibility that one of the competing factions in Iran is instead.

Maybe, but wouldn't it be a faction that is out of power? I can't see the government doing this.

I can see the Saudis doing it. I'm also highly suspicious of Pompeo's quick conclusion that it was the Iranians - more than highly, actually. Remember WMD, the Tonkin Gulf, the Iraqi meeting with the 9/11 terrorists, etc.?

I can see the Saudis doing it.

Could be.

Has anyone seen G Gordon Liddy recently? Just asking....

Interesting detail on which campaigns reimburse municipalities for the cost of policing their rallies:

No prizes for guessing who doesn't, ever.

Some Democrats appear more principled than others in this respect (along with Ted Cruz, which disturbingly is the second positive thing I've read about him this week).

re Iran: sure would be nice if Trump had even a hint of credibility.


hope you enjoyed your tax cut!

That Ted Cruz is looking good is a reveal only in the competition among political vermin in the scuttling out from under and back under the baseboards event when the lights come on.

I presume McKinney Texas has enough raw sewage on hand to NOT put either p or Cruz out when they burst into the flames of self-immolation.

Hitler was said (by me) to of made sure his fingernails were well-manicured when he was standing in the vicinity of Mussolini because it set him apart from the run-of-the-mill fascist thug.

Speaking of Germans, and this is by way of rueful literary humor for Hartmut's sake, I'm re-reading Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, (a youthful enthusiasm of mine, as for many, a little like Ayn Rand was for some, but the sex scenes in Miller are much more lifelike and much less ideological) and in the introductory essay, the critic Karl Shapiro notes that Miller was from German ancestors and was quite German in his way and Shapiro slides in this Bon mot, "I've often thought that Germans make the best Americans, though they certainly make the worst Germans", which I'd forgotten as a hilarious mid-20th century formulation, ha ha.

Well the 2.3 revenue increase year on year just cant keep up with the 9% spending increase.

It's the spending increase that's the problem, not the tax cut.


Apparently, nuclear attacks on American cities henceforth will be responded to on a case-by-case basis as well, with the incineration of Boulder, Colorado or, say, San Francisco and its inhabitants counted as a net plus in national security, while appearing foreign in red states will be answered with a scorched-earth nuclear response against the offending attacker.

if only there was some way to know who is charge of spending right now.


Tax revenue fell $19 billion, or 2 percent. (Which is a rather long way from the promised "increase revenue due to increased economic activity.") It's not just increased spending that's the problem.

Also, the biggest spending increases were defense and Medicare. Both of which were entirely foreseeable -- which makes the timing of the tax cut . . . unfortunate.

wait, am i to infer that the GOP is a complete fraud about their self-proclaimed "fiscal responsibility" ?

what will i tell the (neighbors') kids?

What would the comparative tax and revenue percentages have looked like without the tax cuts and the Increases in national security and defense line items?

I guess them tariffs didn't make much of a dent either.

My first budget will include the cessation of all Social Security and Medicare payments to all registered Republicans and Libertarians, while maintaining their tax burdens funding both until either the budget is balanced or the definition of the words "entitlements" and "welfare" are redefined in conservative minds as the word "Uncle".

Pay no attention to the Thullem behind the Thullen.

The article quoted just said revenue was up 2.3% So I would need z cited for down 2%. I am never a fan of defense increases but it seems to be a bipartisan sinkhole.

Arthur Laffer still got his medal.

We'll melt it down when the time comes, though come to think of if, if p gave it to him, it probably won't pass the bite test, like those cuff links he gave Roy Cohn.

A guy who pays plenty of taxes calls fucking bullshit:


Blow all of it up.

It's the spending increase that's the problem, not the tax cut.

neither spending increases, nor tax cuts, are a problem in and of themselves.

the problem is the delta. inflow does not align with outflow. which is tolerable at some level - at a low enough level (whatever 'low enough' is) it's probably tolerable indefinitely.

but basically, we want stuff, and we don't want to pay for it.

a realistic public discussion of what our objectives and priorities are might be helpful, but I suspect it would only end in shouting.

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