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July 21, 2022

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Thanks Janie.

One of my first cousins recently died at the lamentable age of 71. But she had three great-grandchildren. I thought that might be a little unusual. But Google tells me that the average age of becoming a great-grandparent is about 75.

@CharlesWT: I'd be curious to know how that's changing, because my impression is that women are waiting longer to have babies than they used to. But that's probably just anecdata, and a little bit of wistfulness around the fact that when I was born my mother's mother was 48. When my first (and so far only) grandchild was born, I was 71.

I spend a lot of time with her, and it's immensely wonderful, but I do wish I had the body, strength, and energy I had even ten years ago.

My parents married when they were 38**, which, in the 1940s. was positively ancient. Mom having 4 kids in her 30 was anomalous, too --- in school, all of my friends parents were a decade younger than mine. Not that some people didn't marry late and have kids late, but the norm was shortly after graduation (either from high school or from college).

** My grandparents had long since resigned themselves to her never getting married.

my impression is that women are waiting longer to have babies than they used to

Certainly the availability of contraception that a woman could use without requiring cooperation from the male involved had a lot to do with that.

As for stretching generations out, The last grandchild of President John Tyler, born in 1790, died in 2020.

My paternal grandmother first became a grandmother at 45 when my oldest first cousin on that side was born. I was born one day after her 48th birthday. She lived to see all nine of her great grandchildren before dying at 93, 26 years after first becoming a great grandmother at 67. My youngest was her last great grandchild, born 9 months before she died. She was the youngest of her parents' kids and my youngest grandparent.

From today's WaPo about the hearings so far, and in general:

As Brian Beutler writes for the New York Times, Trump’s coup attempt exposed a profound truth: Trump and all the Republicans trying to erase the insurrection with propaganda are, at the most fundamental level, threatening “the American experiment in self-government” and are “unfit to hold public office in a democracy.”

The surprise in the Jan. 6 hearings has been how vividly this truth is crystallizing for the public. So there’s no sense for people who want to defend democracy — small-d and large-D Democrats alike — to run down rabbit holes to defuse bad-faith GOP claims about unfair processes. Nor is there any reason to let credulous punditry about GOP displays of phony outrage shape their approach.

The force of the revelations themselves has blown right through all that frivolous nonsense. There’s a pretty big lesson in that.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/07/21/kevin-mccarthy-jan-6-hearings-hannity/

Childbearing from another angle: I have genealogy books for two of my maternal family lines going back to the 1640s in Connecticut. They clearly illustrate what we all pretty much know, which is that families were bigger than now. None of this 1 or 2 kids nonsense.

My maternal line great-grandmother was married at 17 and had a baby every two years until she was 31. Then, a few weeks after her 7th child was born, she died. My grandma was the 2nd of those 7 children and the only girl. Her dad remarried about a year and a half later -- a woman who already had 7 kids of her own. Together they had 4 more.

I'm pretty sure my grandma never got over the loss of her mother. For a while she helped raise her younger brothers, but eventually a comfortably situated relative footed the bill for her to go to boarding school for most of high school. She never forgave her father, who (acc' to my mom) she believed caused her mother's death because he wouldn't keep the house warm enough. (She was a champion holder of grudges...)

My maternal grandmother was born in 1880 at the northern end of California's Central Valley. She became a nurse, and met my grandfather while she was the nurse at a mining camp in northern Mexico (she was in her mid-20s, I believe). Her first child was born when she was 30, and my mother (the youngest of 3) was born when she was 38.

So definitely similar to current practice. But this was extremely atypical for the time.

wj, sounds like your grandmother was a woman who knew her own mind. Even to become a nurse in those days must have required some determination, never mind working in a mining camp.

My grandma was born in 1901. She married at 21 and bore two kids. Before the second one was a year old, my grandfather died at not quite 35 y.o. of ill health that was probably an aftermath of his having been gassed in WWI.

She never remarried -- said she had had a stepparent and she wasn't going to inflict one on her own children. Plus, from reading between the lines of old letters and cards, I think that just as she never really got over the death of her mother, she probably never even considered filling my grandfather's place in her life with another man.

Just to ice the cake, her father committed suicide (reportedly he had ALS) at 45, not long before she and my grandfather got married. His last child was born on his birthday 12 days later. She committed suicide as well, in her mid-twenties I think.

So many stories -- I'm sure every family, every person, has them. Billions of stories!

I got nothin' at the moment, just sitting in front of a fan and playing with my granddaughter, which is consolation and compensation for a lot of things.

Took granddaughter #1 bicycling this morning, always a pleasant chore. Should have started earlier to beat a little more of the heat. She lectured me about species that are going extinct. Granddaughter #3 is about to turn five months and is a very cheerful little person. Granddaughter #2 was wrapped up in something on TV and waved, called "Hi, Grandpa!", and otherwise ignored me.

Upper 90s early this afternoon, but there's enough monsoon moisture and instability to kick off little wanna-be thunderstorms. High based, so only virga, no rain actually reaching the ground, but enough to knock ten degrees off the temperature.

first: lock them up.

then: my paternal grandfather was born in 1879, which boggles my mind every time I think about it.

Christ, Janie, what a story. But I loved(She was a champion holder of grudges...) It's great that you get to spend time with your granddaughter, but did you spend time with your grandmother? She sounds as if she was quite something; she certainly had a helluva life story.

first: lock them up.

Amen.

My maternal grandmother was born in 1880 at the northern end of California's Central Valley. She became a nurse, and met my grandfather while she was the nurse at a mining camp in northern Mexico

Amazing what people in those years did. My great-uncle ran away from a tiny Iowa town at age 16. He ended up as the cook at a lumber camp in Montana. If you were a lumber company and short on cash at the end of the month, the lumberjacks got paid first, then the mill operators, then everyone else. Many months they offered him stock in the company instead of cash. As he put it, as cook he had plenty to eat, and a bunk in the shed behind the cookhouse, so why not? Mergers and acquisitions later, those shares turned into a hefty pile of Georgia Pacific shares. The company created a title and small office job just for him because they said it was embarrassing to have someone who owned that many shares working in the field.

did you spend time with your grandmother?

I spent a lot of time with her and I adored her. In fact, she took care of me during the week for my first three years, while my mom went back to work for the NY Central Railroad, as she had done through the war and afterwards. ("the" war -- that was the next one)

My brother was born when I was not quite 3, and after that my grandma helped for a little while longer, but my mom never went back to work after that.

I'm sure she spent many many hours directly with me, and I attribute to her attention the fact (well she said it was, anyhow) that I could put a "My 'Nited States" puzzle together before I was 2.

She worked as a helper in many homes in her rural area over the years. My mom and her brother grew up partly in the Baptist parsonage, because Grandma was the housekeeper -- we are pretty sure that was done partly as a charity, to help the young widow during the Depression. The minister was a single woman ... very rare in those days to have a female pastor. "Rev. Anna Eastwood," a famous name in my childhood.

Some of the favorite times of my childhood were the handful of times when I got to spend a week with her in the country in the summer. You see where I landed -- in her movie. Only it isn't, really.

She was "Aunt Posie" to the whole village. I have stories about that, too, but enough is enough.

She had carroty red hair, as did one of my cousins. One of my sisters has a more auburn red -- very striking in a family of dark Italians. :-)

I have no memory of the red hair -- she was gray by the time my memories start.

but my mom never went back to work after that.

That's not literally true. She did go back to work as an elementary school secretary when my youngest sibling was in eighth grade IIRC, and later as exec. secretary for the owner of a factory in our town.

but enough is enough.

Only if it is for you. Speaking personally, I could do with a whole lot more, and I bet I'm not alone. Maybe when you next have time, after this hearing (which they say is the last of the summer), we could have a thread for family stories?

I see that if I had a copy editor, a lot of my pronouns would have been clarified. But I hope they're clear enough from context.

*****

Though I adored my grandma (and the other one was pretty special too), in later life I've had to come to terms with

1) how unpleasant I probably was when I rebelled against her when the time came, which surely pained her; and

2) the reasons she needed to be rebelled against: she was a serious Sunday-school-teaching Baptist, after all, with lots of rules and limits and judgments -- alcohol was the very devil, for instance; it was a sin to touch a deck of cards in my mother's growing up (though not in mine); etc. There was a lot of repression to be rebelled against.

I don't think I've finished that process to this day, but that's what life is, in part ... "the path is under your feet." (Zen teacher Tommy Dorsey.)

Only if it is for you. Speaking personally, I could do with a whole lot more, and I bet I'm not alone. Maybe when you next have time, after this hearing (which they say is the last of the summer), we could have a thread for family stories?

That would be fun. Remind me if I forget.....

They have known since February that the texts had been lost. But suddenly today, DHS has launched a criminal investigation. Which means that the Secret Service has to cease trying to recover the texts, lest they "interfere in a criminal investigation."

Why is the first thought in my mind "Which guys in the office initiating the investigation are Trump appointees?" I feel like I'm falling down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. But I console myself with "It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you."

Hearing link.

Will do, Janie!

Nice touch running a video of McConnell saying Trump was the only one who could call off the mob. Challenging to call that a partisan attack. For all that nobody thanks Moscow Mitch is, or ever has been, a Trump fan.

Most unusually for me, I keep dropping off, so I will record the rest and watch tomorrow. Goodnight, all.

Nighty night. I'm going to finish tomorrow too. Too many distractions here.

Of course, as soon as I posted that I woke up properly. Just watching closing statements now - Kinsinger very powerful I thought.

Cheney's final statement very impressive, too. If she doesn't win reelection etc it will be the final proof that the Rs have descended into mass psychosis.

Night all.

I think the biggest takeaway from tonight was the comment from the Committee that "the dam is breaking" and there will be further public hearings in September. Considering what we have heard in these first hearings, something that warrants a "dam breaking" metaphor must be super explosive.

I'm wondering if the "dam breaking" metaphor has to do not only with information about with people who were refusing to testify changing their minds. It's very strange to remember watching the event on TV that day and thinking how bad it was at the time, and now realizing that my imagination on that day didn't come close to the reality.

sorry, garbled syntax

"not only with information but with people..."

Amusing, if slightly off topic, is the image(s) of Senator Josh Hawley on the day. I'd say that his Presidential prospects are pretty much toast. His reelection may be at risk, too, if he decides to go that way in 2024.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.

My sister-in-law will look at a cute baby (which means all of them) and say, "She needs a squeeze!" Meaning a hug.

You look at Hawley's substance-free posturing and think, "He needs a smack!" He looks like he imagines himself as Superman, or the Terminator, when actually he just looks like a twit.

Sadly, that does not preclude his doing a lot of damage.

Clearly it's bedtime and then some here.

Worse than a twit. Somehow, the word "twit" usually carries a very faint flavour of affection, despite the insult, at least to my mind. "He needs a smack" I couldn't begin to argue with, however.

As for "the dam is breaking", I only hope that this is the feeling that the American electorate is starting to get. Obsessives (like most of us on ObWi) are fully in it, but I just hope this is truly making waves outside the various bubbles. A very good, highly intelligent and well-informed retired friend (who went to college in the US) rang me at midday, not having got my email saying don't call til after 2 because I've been up watching the hearing. He said "only you would be up til 5 in the morning watching this." I have to admit, it gave me pause.

Quickly -- to me, "twit" doesn't carry any connotation of affection. It's disparaging and scornful.

From a BJ commenter, as background to a bit of further explanation on my part:

In a keynote speech at the National Conservatism Conference last month, Hawley accused the political left of seeking to redefine traditional masculinity as toxic, and called for a “revival of strong and healthy manhood in America.”
Hawley said he did not want to paint all men as victims. But he blamed the left for wanting to define “traditional masculine virtues” like courage, independence and assertiveness as “a danger to society.”

WTF is "traditional masculinity"? (Rhetorical question.) One of the big things I gradually realized as I came away from my small town midwestern American upbringing was that the John Wayne model of masculinity was not universal. European men could be smooth, seductive to women, not particularly broad-shouldered, etc. (I am oversimplifying! it's impossible not to with this topic), without compromising their "masculinity."

Also -- between the time I was a child and the time my son was a child, the American ideal of masculinity did become very toxic, as witnessed by (30 years ago) concern about boys getting caught up in body image standards as exemplified by GI Joe dolls from one era vs another. (Google it, I don't have time.)

Finally, as to Hawley, a little amateur psychologizing at a distance: my use of the word "twit" was partly, I think, a late-night reaction to my sense (quite possible wrong!) that he imagines himself to be the epitome of what he himself apparently calls "strong and healthy manhood" [seriously?] -- but my disrespectful speculation is that he is actually terrified that he doesn't meet that standard, and has to keep proving it again and again. The fist pump may have been pure political theatre, but I don't think so. I think it had to do with signaling to the rioters that he was a real man too.

Also this: "'traditional masculine virtues' like courage, independence and assertiveness as “a danger to society.'"

I had an argument with an old friend once about lists of qualities and whether they could be defined as typically masculine or feminine. If ever there was a can of worms.... But the implication of Hawley's words is that "courage" etc. are not "feminine" virtues.

Bullshit.

Also, take all this in the light of the fact that my all-time favorite book title is "Gender Outlaw: Men, Women, and the Rest of Us." This isn't as remarkable as it was when the book came out, but it still makes a statement that I think is important to make.

(Hurrying to a meeting....so this is hastier than I would like it to be.)

signaling to the rioters

And even more, signaling to his constituency. I hope he's wrong about what they want.

Well, 'virtue' is by definition something only men can have.

Quickly -- to me, "twit" doesn't carry any connotation of affection. It's disparaging and scornful.

Also a bit disparaging, in that the target isn't consequential enough to warrant a harsher epithet.

between the time I was a child and the time my son was a child, the American ideal of masculinity did become very toxic, as witnessed by (30 years ago) concern about boys getting caught up in body image standards as exemplified by GI Joe dolls from one era vs another.

I seem to recall concern (at what feels, at this distance, like roughly the same time) about girls getting caught up in body image standards based on Barbie. Perhaps our toy manufacturers have issues. Then again, consider what some 19th century homemade dolls looked like. :-)

I'd say that toxic masculinity arose more out of massive insecurity. Young (initially) men who felt that, if they weren't physically scary, they would be scorned by their peers. (And, worse, unattractive to any women they encountered.) Drifting into social groups consisting almost entirely of similar young men (plus, typically, and older exploitive would-be megalomaniac), you'd get a toxic feedback loop going. Aided by the well deserved scorn of those with better standards.

A (somewhat) better, at least less harmful to the rest of us, reaction would have been to get seriously into bodybuilding, to end up like a WWE participant. But the lower effort approach involved waving guns around. Preferably in front of people, especially children, with no training or means to fight back.

signaling to the rioters

And even more, signaling to his constituency. I hope he's wrong about what they want.

Or, failing that, that the sight of him running away makes them decide that he isn't it. At least enough of them to boot him out of office.

While the cameras have been on the January 6th Committee hearings, your favorite senators are co-sponsoring a bill to make it much more difficult for a president to attempt to overturn election results.

"While a special House committee has been probing the scope of Trump's plots and the role the former president played in the ugly events of January 6, a bipartisan group of senators led by Susan Collins (R–Maine) and Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) has been working on a fix for the procedural issues Trump's team nearly exploited to overturn the election. This is less dramatic than what the January 6th Committee has been turning up, but it is probably the more important project for the future of American democracy."
The Senate's Election Reform Bill Is Surprisingly Logical and Bipartisan: Former President Trump's attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election relied on three potential pressure points. This bill addresses all three.

Dan Rather weighs in:
Run Hawley Run

Elsewhere, Missouri Democrats are being urged to put on a Josh Hawley 5K as a fundraiser.

I find that I'm losing interest in listening to the hearings. I haven't heard anything that wasn't already blatantly obvious, and I'm less than confident that they will change anything.

What's a guy got to do to earn a criminal referral these days?

Apologies, but I'm feeling kind of jaded.

Quickly -- to me, "twit" doesn't carry any connotation of affection. It's disparaging and scornful.

Obvs, I deduced this from the fact that you called Hawley a twit! I don't know if it's just me, or if other English people would agree (because I think "twit" is primarily English?), but I would never use twit about somebody I truly wanted to insult with extreme prejudice. Maybe affection was a bit of an overstatement, but I meant to convey a certain gently mockable ineffectualness, as opposed to just useless, toxic ineffectualness. Anyway, I learnt my lesson in our past discussion about "charm" - I maintained (and still maintain) that no English person would ever say Donald Trump had charm, and then the whole thing degenerated into various people saying that if they were ideologically sympathetic to him, and he was intent on attracting them, people might find him "charming" (an entirely different thing, by the way, but even then....) So I guess it's true, we are two people divided by a common language. And that's without even mentioning personal, idiosyncratic usage, which possibility I can't neglect.

I'm probably still pretty underslept, so forgive my slightly incoherent meandering, but on the question of "masculine" characteristics, and courage in particular, it is noticeable to me that in these January 6th hearings, the bravery of e.g. Cassidy Hutchinson and Liz Cheney is considerable. And quite separate from whether or not one would approve of or agree with their political ideology.

I haven't heard anything that wasn't already blatantly obvious, and I'm less than confident that they will change anything.

I'm certainly not confident. But the testimony that members of Pence's Secret Service detail were calling home to say goodbye to their loved ones was quite dramatic, and the ridicule of Josh Hawley, the Running Man, will (with any luck) damage him. But yes, being jaded is certainly a very understandable reaction.

I haven't heard anything that wasn't already blatantly obvious, and I'm less than confident that they will change anything.

Obvious? Sure. But there's some distance between what we are sure happened, and what there is eyewitness testimony to support it in court. Plus, some of the details say to me that things were worse than my (admittedly limited) imagination had conjured up.

All of which has the benefit of making it clear to AG Garland that there really is no viable alternative to, at minimum, taking Trump before a grand jury. He may feel (probably correctly) that it will inflame Trump's cultists. But at this point, not doing so will inflame the rest of the population even more.

Granted, the Georgia AG will likely bring Trump to trial first. And arguably on more easily proven charges. But Trump still needs to be brought up on Federal charges as well. As a warning to others, in addition to it being what he richly deserves.

And...Steve Bannon convicted of contempt of Congress. Roll on the appeal, which is apparently what his lawyers have been focussing on.

One of the books I read for my graduate lists. Has really stuck with me for how well it traces a lot of the changing cultural history around masculinity and war. Leo Braudy's From Chivalry to Terrorism.

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-679-45035-1

After decades of reading and viewing texts that plumb this issue, I have to say that the people I keep coming back to as admirable representations of healthy masculinity are Maj. Dick Winters of Band of Brothers fame and E.B. Sledge (author of With the Old Breed both of whom served with distinction in some of the heaviest fighting of WWII, returned to civilian life, and wanted nothing more to do with violence. Both gave up hunting after the war and tried to lead quiet lives with their family.

That seems like a more healthy masculinity to me.

...I meant to convey a certain gently mockable ineffectualness, as opposed to just useless, toxic ineffectualness...

Yes. See, for example, Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year (youtube link).

it will inflame Trump's cultists.

Not to worry, they're already inflamed.

Not to worry, they're already inflamed.

Hemorrhoids generally are.

The Monty Python sketch is always the first that comes to mind when I hear the word 'twit'.
I think it also influences how people understand the term. Looking at these caricatures they're clearly unpleasant (given the disciplines they have to master) on the other hand they are clearly complete imbeciles one cannot take seriously and be it just for their moronic grin. Well-dressed village idiots. And people seem to have a weak spot for obvious idiots and (falsely) see them as harmless.

But actually, although the Upper Class Twits of the Year are an all-time great, I have to admit that I do sometimes call people I love, or even adore, twitfaces (much to their amusement - fuckface is generally used when actually annoyed), and I have often heard people affectionately calling e.g. their children "little twits". When used in these contexts, it has never to my knowledge caused offense. The vagaries of English slang are rather hard to explain.

All of which has the benefit of making it clear to AG Garland that there really is no viable alternative to, at minimum, taking Trump before a grand jury.

If I recall the rules about federal grand juries, anyone who appears before the jury gets at least use and derivative use immunity. That is, neither their testimony nor any evidence subsequently uncovered because of that testimony can be used against the witness in court. Putting Trump in front of a grand jury is an admission that you lack the evidence to actually prosecute him.

And...Steve Bannon convicted of contempt of Congress. Roll on the appeal, which is apparently what his lawyers have been focussing on.

At least five of the current SCOTUS members will support the executive privilege claim and overturn the conviction.

If I recall the rules about federal grand juries, anyone who appears before the jury gets at least use and derivative use immunity.

I was (mis)using "before" to mean "be the subject of hearings by". Sloppy of me, I acknowledge.

At least five of the current SCOTUS members will support the executive privilege claim and overturn the conviction.

The 3 political hacks, sure. And probably Alito (if only to "own the libs").

But Thomas, however toxic his views (very), does have some principles beyond the straight political. I'd say that it is better than 50-50 that he would decide that executive privilege doesn't extend to anybody and everybody the President happens to talk to. If nothing else, he (unlike the hacks) can see that tossing Bannon's conviction could have fallout next time a Republican Congress wants to investigate some Republican.

And Roberts is enough of an institutionalist not to want to smash something as basic as the subpoena.

Not great odds, I'll grant. But not the slam dunk that you (and, I suspect, Bannon) think it will be.

But Thomas, however toxic his views (very), does have some principles beyond the straight political.

wj, I am interested in this statement. His wife, for example, enthusiastically colluded in attempts to Stop the Steal, encouraging actions that appear to be bordering on (if not actually - and I'm not sure about that) illegal. Do you believe that he would have opposed this? I know that a person should not be blamed for the actions of a spouse, but given his views in general it does arouse the liveliest suspicions. I would need to hear (and would be interested to hear) why you say he has principles beyond the straight political. I'm not saying he doesn't, but I would like to hear your rationale.

I would need to hear (and would be interested to hear) why you say he has principles beyond the straight political. I'm not saying he doesn't, but I would like to hear your rationale.

One big indicator is actually the Dobbs decision. The majority opinion that Alito wrote tries to claim that the rationalization used there wouldn't be applied to other past cases, which used exactly the same basis, i.e. a right to privacy. Which was pretty obviously an attempt to minimize the political fallout.

In his concurring opinion, however, Thomas was very clear that those other decisions (Griswold, etc.) were equally wrongly decided. And so should be overturned. Politically, that's a disaster -- which is why the political hacks tried so hard to deny it. For example, reversing Griswold and reinstating laws banning contraceptives would make the upset over reversing Roe look like a tempest in a teapot.

But Thomas obviously doesn't care about that. (Or at least not much.) It's a matter of principle, period. I think the principle he's embraced is nonsense. But it is a principle, not just a political choice.

You think his "principle" has something to do with the law?

Ha ha.

You think his "principle" has something to do with the law?

Ha ha.

Oh, I have no doubt that he is still bitter (at liberals) over his confirmation hearings. But specific opinions making liberals miserable is just frosting on the cake. Given his views, pretty much everything he writes will upset liberals; no special effort required.

Still, there was no obvious gain from pointing out explicitly what the implications of Dobbs are. If it got liberals worked up enough to vote in larger numbers, it would reduce the chances of maintaining control of the Court so as to win more anti-liberal decisions.

Thomas is a strange cat.

He’s a black SCOTUS justice married to a white woman who also believes the US is a profoundly and irredemiably racist society. He gained entry to Yale Law School at least partly through their affirmative action policies and now believes policies like that only weaken blacks by making them dependent on white largesse. He was a youthful acolyte of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers who left that all behind when he saw the capitalist light.

Hard to know where he would land on claims of executive privilege.

Thomas appears to be well on the way to having more impact on the law than any other SC justice of his era.

"To say the least, Greenhouse and the rest had no idea what they were talking about. In reality, it was Thomas who was quietly influencing Scalia in certain areas of the law, as Scalia himself repeatedly acknowledged. Thomas' critics underestimated him at their own peril.

The Supreme Court's recently concluded 2021–2022 term has driven that point home with a vengeance. On hot-button issue after hot-button issue, Thomas' views are now in ascendance. Like it or not, the Thomas Court is here.
...
Thomas, by contrast, has shaped the law by playing the long game. Over the past three decades, he has repeatedly staked out lonely positions—often writing in dissent but sometimes penning a solo concurrence—only to see many of his "extreme" positions ultimately become enshrined in law. What is more, generations of conservative law students, who have gone on to be conservative lawyers, lawmakers, and judges, have embraced many of Thomas' views as their own. Thomas' influence on the broader conservative legal movement will be felt for years to come."

The Clarence Thomas Court Is Good News for Gun Rights, Bad News for Criminal Justice Reform: Like it or not, the Thomas Court is here.

Does this work better than "twit"? (It opens in a protected view, you have to click to view it.)

Yup, the Lt. General's description works much better. I've never heard that used with any warmth or affection at all. And I agree with his description of what should happen next, too.

wj, as for your explanation of why you think Thomas is principled, I am not convinced. Stupidity* could explain his disregard for the possible electoral consequences, or a certainty from within his bubble of impunity that no consequences would actually attach - and although we (at ObWi at the moment, anyway) all wish for them, the electoral consequences are far from a foregone conclusion.

*I know that the many opinions that he was stupid over the years could have stemmed from racism, and I am not in a position to judge their accuracy. Scalia's explanation for why torture was not "cruel and unusual punishment" was not made by a stupid man, after all, so the heinousness of the views does not necessarily reflect on the intelligence of those who hold them.

Stupidity* could explain his [Thomas's] disregard for the possible electoral consequences

The affirmative action he distains may have contributed to getting him into an Ivy League university, but idiots do not graduate from Yale Law School. Villains, sure (see Senator Hawley above). But no, not idiots.

I'm willing to entertain other alternative hypotheses for his embracing consistency when the political hacks do not, rather than principle. But not stupidity.

Villains, sure (see Senator Hawley above).

See also J.D. Vance. But also both Clintons, and Stacey Abrams. It's a mixed bag, just like Harvard Law School and most other human groupings. (Full disclosure, I have family members who went there, and through them have met some YLS grads who are lovely people. And for sure, none of them are stupid.)

Also, because it's a pet peeve of mine, it's "disdain," not "distain." :-)

Oh, let's not forget Alito.

but idiots do not graduate from Yale Law School. Villains, sure (see Senator Hawley above). But no, not idiots.

I must admit, this was what I had always thought. And the years of reading that internal SCOTUS gossip (and elsewhere) was that Thomas was stupid, was easy to dismiss as pure racism. And maybe it was. But evidence of principled behaviour, even when it diverges from his obvious ideological positions: MIA as far as I can tell. Happy (or at least grateful) to be contradicted with any evidence.

it's "disdain," not "distain." :-)

Autocorrect strikes again!
(That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

...strong and healthy manhood...

The thing that strikes me about Josh Hawley's infamous clenched-fist pose is how it emphasises the unmanly padding in the shoulder of his jacket.

...it's "disdain," not "distain"

I've read that the reason "deign" and "disdain" are spelt so differently (cf French "daigner" and "dédaigner") is that Samuel Johnson put them in his dictionary like that.

I'll tell you what, though. If the ability to make long plans, and ensure your intellectual and ideological influence spills down and deepens through the generations is a mark of high intelligence, he may be brilliant:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/07/clarence-thomas-trump/593596/

Let's also remember: there are lots of ways to be both stupid and smart; I have known a lot of VERY smart people (in the school / high LSAT sense) who were very stupid about some things, not excluding myself.

If the ability to make long plans, and ensure your intellectual and ideological influence spills down and deepens through the generations is a mark of high intelligence, he may be brilliant

The challenge is to distinguish between long range planning and taking an initial position and just refusing to change it no matter what, i.e. straight out stubbornness. On that question, I got nuthin'.

There are famously errors only highly intelligent people make.
There is also the quote attributed* to Thomas Tredgold (1788-1829) that “The stability of a building is inversely proportional to the science of the builders”.

*likely paraphrasing and older common saying

Let's also remember: there are lots of ways to be both stupid and smart; I have known a lot of VERY smart people (in the school / high LSAT sense) who were very stupid about some things

This part at least is so very true, and needs to be borne in mind at all times!

I don't think Thomas's court behavior is based on principle, though he has probably learned the language of sociopathy from the Federalist Society. I think he is an emotional person, not given to reason, though occasionally able to rationalize.

I think that it is likely that the other Republicans are principled, though I don't believe their principles are what they claim them to be. THey are pretty consistently pro-power and wealth, so that's one principle. They use the Federalist SOciety rationalizations to justify not giving a fuck about anyone except themselves and other people who can use wealth to protect themselves from the consequences of their decisions. THis is a principle articulated by Barry Goldwater years ago. "Gee, that problem that you are experiencing (not me!) is so terrible and it is so sad that my principles about government don't allow the federal government to intervene. (And too bad the state is the cause of the problem or unwilling to help. So sad!)

There's a quote from someone about conservatism being a rationalization for selfishness and I think that is absolutely the truth. Conservatives see civil life through the screen of "What's in it for me?" combined with the assumption that anything that benefits someone else has to be a loss for them.

THey are pretty consistently pro-power and wealth, so that's one principle.

My impression is that above all for Alito (and probably some of the others, but him most of all), reigion is also a "principle" -- i.e. he's not using religion as a smokescreen to hide other motivations. He wants a patriarchal, misogynistic, medieval catholicism's framework to run our lives.

I think that it is likely that the other Republicans are principled, though I don't believe their principles are what they claim them to be.

Roberts: Principled
Thomas: Principled, IMHO YMMV
Barrett: Too soon to tell, But betting on political hack until contrary evidence surfaces
Alito: As you say, pro power and wealth (although calling that a principle seems like a stretch).
Gorsuch: I confess I haven't been watching closely. But I haven't seen anything to suggest principle.
Kavanaugh: No discernible principle beyond party loyalty

Just one man's opinion, of course

At this point, I'm thinking that membership in the Federalist Society should be an automatic disqualification for any court, let alone the Supreme Court. I'm reluctant to extend automatic disqualification to mere endorsement by them, since you can't choose who supports you.** But endorsement should trigger a second, very close look.

** I do note that a bunch of Trump appointees, all endorsed by the Federalist Society (because that was Trump's standard source), ruled against him repeatedly. Hence the "not automatic".

But endorsement should trigger a second, very close look.

This is a pipe dream unless/until Congress is dominated by sane people.

Thomas: Principled, IMHO YMMV

Understood, but do you have any reason for thinking this other than one, i.e. what might be unfortunate electoral consequences for the GOP after his comments on the Dobbs decision?

He wants a patriarchal, misogynistic, medieval catholicism's framework to run our lives.

This might be a (possibly subconscious) motivation for others of them, too. I think it is not uncommon in the general population for that framework to be seen as "normality".

do you have any reason for thinking this other than one, i.e. what might be unfortunate electoral consequences for the GOP after his comments on the Dobbs decision?

His comments on Dobbs are in line with what he has been arguing for across his career on the Court. The difference now is that a majority is willing to support some of them.

Also, unlike the majority opinion in Dobbs, he refused to claim 5hat the identical reasoning wouldn't apply elsewhere. Which was blatantly political on their part. No way it wouldn't definitely apply to Griswold, for example. Which would be equally in line with a patriarchal, misogynistic, medieval catholicism position. Just inconvenient politically at the moment to admit that. Figure them to go for it as soon as they get a case explicitly concerning contraception.

OK, wj, I understood all of that already, and your second para particularly, and not just from what you said before! I wondered if there was anything apart from anything related to the Dobbs issue that you were basing your opinion on. Perhaps we've taken this as far as we can.

Donald Trump has a degree from Wharton. Jared Kushner was undergrad Harvard & JD/MBA at NYU. Make of that what you will.

Ben Carson is, by all accounts, an extraordinarily gifted surgeon. Dr Oz apparently has some measure of brilliance as a cardiologist.

I’m not convinced either one could find his way out of a phone booth with a map.

I wondered if there was anything apart from anything related to the Dobbs issue

No specifics off the top of my head. But I had reached my view on Thomas years ago, i.e. per Dobbs, so I'd like to think I had some reason to do so. We'll see if something surfaces as I think on it further.

Donald Trump has a degree from Wharton. Jared Kushner was undergrad Harvard & JD/MBA at NYU. Make of that what you will.

Trump's father bought his admission to U Penn. After that, it's just a matter of taking the same courses that guys who only got in on athletic scholarships take to stay in school.

Ditto Kushner and Harvard. And, as it happens, NYU has gotten pots of money from the Kushners over the years as well.

Make of that what you will.

Donald Trump has a degree from Wharton.

Mm, yes. He transferred there from Fordham. And his father went with him to his interview. And US universities still accept significant donations when prospective students apply (I know this from HK friends). And he has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent his academic records getting out.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-who-often-boasts-of-his-wharton-degree-says-he-was-admitted-to-the-hardest-school-to-get-into-the-college-official-who-reviewed-his-application-recalls-it-differently/2019/07/08/0a4eb414-977a-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html

Pretty much where I was going, wj, which I’m pretty sure you know. The Carson types are a bit more difficult to figure.

his father went with him to his interview.

Not to mention that the interviewer was high school best friends with his older brother, and had spent significant time hanging out at the Trump home. Handy to have connections.

But… Hot take! Jared did figure out peace in the Middle East, the complete reformation of the Federal Gov’t and… whatever else he was tasked with, so… cold fusion? Much like the burned library at Alexandria, it will be centuries before we understand the magnitude of our loss. Tragic it is, that his brilliance was conveyed only in texts to the Secret Service.

The Carson types are a bit more difficult to figure.

Rand Paul is an MD as well.

I think the takeaway is that you can become a physician without knowing much about anything else. Perhaps because the curriculum requires so much time that there's little or nothing left over for breadth.

Bashar al-Assad is also a physician.

"First, do no harm."

Tangent: Bashar is maybe a tin-foil hat thing for me. He seemed to have no interest in rule, leaving it to his brother. Then he got stuck with it. & he was a good guy for the US, and then he was suddenly a bad guy. Shades of Saddam Hussein, to my conspiratorial eye. But maybe he did just embrace the dark side.

Wrong-headed versus stupid. Smart wrong-headed people can come up with good-enough reasoning to at least make stupid people think they're right. Smart people who agree with them won't bother to be critical of their reasoning. Why would they, the fellow wrong-headed?

I suppose that's a different thing from people who are brilliant in a narrow specialty but otherwise a bit dopey. I mean, Ben Carson has put some real doozies out there on non-surgical subjects - things that would strike people of below-average intelligence as sounding dopey.

Trust me, I would know!

@Pete -- I don't know if you mean to imply that Saddam was a good guy and then painted as a bad guy when the US needed him to look that way. Or vice versa? But I saw video once of the events described in the beginning of this article, and if one side or the other of the way the US painted him was fake, i'd say it was the good guy side. I haven't found the video, but he sat there smoking a cigarette with a smirk on his face while his (alleged?) enemies were taken out to be shot.

Much like the burned library at Alexandria, it will be centuries before we understand the magnitude of our loss.

Really, nothing else need be said.

I don't know if you mean to imply that Saddam was a good guy and then painted as a bad guy when the US needed him to look that way.

@Janie

No, no! Saddam (and his sons from what I understand) were monsters and I do not mourn their fates. I was loosely alluding to the US meddling in Iran and then when the revolution happened - suddenly we liked Hussein and... well, you know the story. Similarly, mujahideen.

I haven't taken a deep dive, but Bashar al-Assad has always seemed an unlikely dictator to me. Secular, educated, westernized... I dunno. Something just doesn't smell right to me about our dealings with that part of the world. Maybe he is a monster, but that's not how he was described before being called back after the death of his brother. Syria is a shitshow. We fucked over the Kurds. I dunno what's going on over there, with all of the factions in play. I feel like there's more to the story - or we're not getting the whole story - especially since he's allied with Putin.

Maybe I've been watching too many spy movies.

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