NED STARK: Make peace with the Lannisters, you say? With the people who tried to murder my boy?
PETYR BAELISH: We only make peace with our enemies, my lord. That's why it's called "making peace".
This week's featured article is "This Is How It Ends". If you missed it, last week's "#YesAllWomen and the Continuum of Aggression" was very popular, with nearly 5,000 hits.
This week everybody was talking about Sgt. Bergdahl
Two weeks ago, could you have imagined that the last American POW could be freed and it would make people furious? Or that Fox News and the rest of the conservative media machine would start villifying the POW? And his family? I certainly didn't see that coming.
I don't think there's a political explanation for this. Sure, Republicans are looking for something new to get excited about as the ObamaCare issue continues to fizzle on them, but why this? Especially when so many of them have to do a complete about-face and pretend they never said a bunch of things they were saying just a few weeks ago.
I think this response requires a psychological explanation: Trading POWs makes it a little too real that the War on Terror fantasy is ending. All those heroic dreams about "ridding the world of evil-doers" have come down to this. It's a sad, hung-over morning in America, and a lot of people are pissed they have to wake up. "This Is How It Ends" fills that frame in.
and the impact of Obama's new carbon rules
Grist summarizes nine things you should know about them. That article has the most succinct response I've heard to the perennial "Environmental regulations kill the economy" objection:
Job losses in the coal industry will be offset by hiring in the construction and clean energy sectors. Lower rates of respiratory illness will save money on health care and improve productivity. EPA estimates that lower particle pollution from coal burning will reduce annual heart attacks, asthma attacks, premature deaths, hospital admissions, and lost days of work and school by the thousands. The economic value of these savings could outweigh increased costs by up to a factor of 10.
Well-designed regulations don't cost money, they save money.
and yet another school shooting
This one at Seattle Pacific University. The gunman was pepper-sprayed and tackled by a student while he was reloading. Two takeaways:
- Once again, a bad guy with a gun was stopped by a good guy (or a good woman) without one.
- Limiting how many shots a gun can fire without reloading is a good idea. It gives by-standers a chance to tackle a shooter before the death toll gets too high.
In other gun news, the NRA briefly showed some sanity, but then changed its mind. The NRA's Institute for Legal Action posted a statement on its website asking open carry demonstrators in Texas -- the ones taking AK-15s into Chili's and Target -- to cool it, referring to such behavior as "downright weird". But when Open Carry Texas asked for a retraction of those "disgusting and disrespectful comments", the NRA backed down. It removed the post from its web site and instead claimed the NRA is "the leader of open carry efforts across the country."
The NYT's Juliet Lapidos wondered whether this was the NRA's "Tea Party moment": Has the NRA pandering to the lunatic fringe "spawned a movement it can't control"?
The Daily Show had a fabulous piece about the racial angle on guns: black and white "experts" give open-carry do's and don'ts.
White expert: When you bring your gun to a restaurant, DO calmly inform the other patrons that you are there just to eat and not to shoot anyone.
Black expert: And when you bring your gun to a restaurant, DON'T be black. Because even if you tell them you're not going to shoot, they're probably not going to believe you.
but gay marriage rulings don't even make headlines any more
Add Wisconsin to the list of places where federal judges have found that a state ban on same-sex marriage can't be sustained after the Supreme Court's Windsor ruling last June. WaPo counts 13 post-Windsor rulings for same-sex marriage and none against. I'm not even reading them any more because they're all the same: States have no reason to ban same-sex couples from marrying, beyond the simple desire to make life harder for gays and lesbians. This was a radical argument when Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall made it in 2003, but it has become the conventional wisdom.
It's fascinating to look back at my account of the 2003 Goodridge decision and see that -- in spite of a dozen years of losses in court -- the arguments against marriage equality have not changed. The anti-homosexual side keeps saying the same thing and hoping that this time it will convince somebody.
and you also might be interested in ...
"I don't plan on getting raped," says a daughter on her way to college. And Mom answers: "Neither did I."
The platform of the Texas GOP is always a good read. This year's proposed version endorses quack "reparative therapy" to cure gays, plus (according to Steve Benen)
complete elimination of the Voting Rights Act; policymakers at all levels should deliberately “ignore” climate change; public schools should end sex-ed and start promoting Christianity; abortion should be banned; English should be the official language of Texas and of the United States; open-carry laws should apply to gun owners statewide
The San Antonio Current has the raw quotes, but they left out some of the best stuff:
All federal enforcement activities in Texas must be conducted under the auspices of the County Sheriff with jurisdiction in that county. ... We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished. ... we urge Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights ... We strongly support the Electoral College. ... We support the adoption of human embryos ... We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. ... We oppose any laws regarding the production, distribution, or consumption of food. ... We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. ... we support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions. ... We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed. ... We support the return to the time-tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar. ... We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from United States soil.
If you live somewhere else, you might just shake your head and say "Texas". But as voters have discovered in North Carolina and a few other states, Texas is just where right-wingers feel free to let their freak flag fly. Give Republicans a big enough majority in your state legislature, and crazy stuff will start showing up there too.
Religious freedom for me, but not for thee. In Cincinnati, no Catholic school teacher can support same-sex marriage in public on his/her own time. This new clause in the teaching contract is causing veteran teachers to resign.
You can expect a new push to teach Christianity in the public schools under the guise of Biblical literacy. In addition to trying to expand the definition of religious liberty to diminish the health insurance of his female employees, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green has been funding the Museum of the Bible's development of a curriculum aimed at high schools: The Book: The Bible’s History, Narrative and Impact.SMU religious studies professor Mark Chauncey reviewed the curriculum, finding:
This is a classic example of preaching religious beliefs in the guise of promoting religious literacy. It’s hard to imagine this curriculum, with its sectarian elements, errors and oddities, was put together by dozens of scholars as claimed.
Those who want to tear down the wall between church and state often try to make the law sound complicated, but it's actually quite simple. If a public school teacher says, "In the New Testament, Jesus rises from the dead, and many present-day Christians regard this as a historical event rather than a myth." that's teaching about Christianity, which is completely legal. But if s/he says, "Jesus rose from the dead." that's teaching Christianity, which is illegal. If someone convinces you that this principle is tricky, the person being tricked is you.
So far, Senator Mark Pryor in Arkansas has been doing the best job of any Democrat in making his opponent pay for his far-right voting record. Here's a recent Pryor ad.
and let's close with something vast
If you're not paying attention to the Astronomy Picture of the Day at NASA, you're missing out. This was Sunday's picture, of the open cluster NGC 290.