"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

It's War

Via Joe.My.God., this from the Washington Examiner

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has created a religious liberty task force to “protect and promote religious liberty.”

Speaking from the Justice Department in Washington, Sessions said the task force, which he will chair, is to help implementation of the religious liberty memo he signed in October.

That 25-page memo outlines 20 guiding principles that federal agencies can use to protect religious liberty in employment, contracting and programming.

We all know that "religious liberty" is code for "Christian supremacy," when the "Christian" is a particularly noxious form of Old Testament atrocities.

Joe also refers to Sessions' announcement from the DOJ website. You can read it, but turn your irony meter off:

A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated.

This election, and much that has flowed from it, gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends. Such a reversal will not just be done with electoral victories, but by intellectual victories.

We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Sounds like it was written by Tony Perkins. There's not a word of truth in it. That "dangerous movement" is simply the trend toward recognizing the rights of those that right-wing "Christians" don't approve of.

This just puts the seal on the pattern we've seen emerging since Trump took office. A few headlines, with links (with thanks to commenter Gregory in Seattle):

The State Department Is Retroactively Revoking Transgender Women’s Passports, Report Says

U.S. Justice Dept. Files Brief Rejecting LGBTQ Workplace Protections

Trump has declared war on LGBTQ rights. Here’s everything he’s done so far

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, the stupidest lawyer in America not named Larry Klayman, is ecstatic. I guess he figures that now his outfit can win a case. And Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the worst anti-gay hate groups, is right on board. This article shows just how incestuous this whole thing is.

On July 30, Sessions launched a new “Religious Liberty Task Force” that would enforce discriminatory religious exemptions guidance that the DOJ released in October 2017. (Sessions had worked with ADF on the guidance before its release.) Religious exemptions policies, such as those the DOJ released, allow people and businesses to be exempt from nondiscrimination laws and policies by citing a burden on their religious beliefs. People have frequently used the exemptions to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and others.

ADF was one of the first to break the news of the July 30 “Religious Liberty Summit” in which the task force was announced, noting that the event would feature a panel including the group’s client Jack Phillips, a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple and who took his case to the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commision. ADF’s news release, however, did not mention that the panel’s moderator, DOJ media affairs specialist Kerri Kupec, worked at ADF for four years before joining DOJ in January. During his remarks, Sessions said that the DOJ had “been holding listening sessions” with “religious groups across America,” which ADF has acknowledged it has been involved with in the past. Extreme anti-LGBTQ group Liberty Counsel has already praised the announcement of the task force.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this as more bigots are heard from.

Fasten your seatbelts -- it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Melissa McEwen has a succinct and accurate assessment:

Monday, July 30, 2018

Remember "Big Brother"? Guess What

If you're flying anywhere for any reason, he's watching you:

A reporter from the Boston Globe has helped lay bare an otherwise hidden program of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): one that targets all US citizens.

The program, called "Quiet Skies," goes beyond previous TSA efforts, including specific watch lists, air marshals, and other actions designed to secure US airways in a post-9/11 world. In the previously undisclosed program, US citizens are tracked and treated as potential terrorists even though they are not otherwise under investigation.

"Quiet Skies represents a major departure for TSA. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency has traditionally placed armed air marshals on routes it considered potentially higher risk, or on flights with a passenger on a terrorist watch list," says the Boston Globe.

They continue, "Deploying air marshals to gather intelligence on civilians not on a terrorist watch list is a new assignment, one that some air marshals say goes beyond the mandate of the US Federal Air Marshal Service. Some also worry that such domestic surveillance might be illegal. Between 2,000 and 3,000 men and women, so-called flying FAMs, work the skies."

I have nothing but contempt for TSA -- as far as I can see, it's done nothing to increase security on flights, and it seems to recruit small people and give them some power, always a bad combination.

Somebody sue them, before Trump stacks the courts even worse.

Today in Shamless Liars

No, it's not Tony Perkins, although I think a Tony Perkins Award is in order:

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday defended the White House's decision to ban CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins after she asked questions that upset President Donald Trump.

During a pool spray last week, Collins pressed Trump about whether he is disappointed that his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had released an audio tape proving that the president knew about a hush payment for former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Collins was later told that her invitation to the president's next event had been revoked.

In an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, Pence said he backed the White House's ban on Collins.

"Let me say, this administration believes in the freedom of the press," Pence told Bartiromo. "President Trump and our entire administration have provided extraordinary access to the media. The president answers so many questions. I can assure you we'll continue to do that."

He answers so many questions. The best answers. Lots of people say it.

This is the one that caused hysterical laughter:

We stand for the freedom of the press in this White House.

The horrible part is that Trump's base will have no trouble swallowing that, along with another helping of "enemy of the people."

Here's a little more on how much the Trump White House, and Trump himself, stand for freedom of the press:

In an absolutely unprecedented move, Donald Trump tried to personally black list certain reporters from attending and covering White House events. The Washington Post is reporting that Trump has sought to personally ban reporters he felt asked too many tough questions of him and his administration, you know, those people "doing real journalism." He even inquired about revoking their press credentials - a shocking accusation, if true.

As for Pence himself, a word of caution from Frank Bruni at NYT:

There are problems with impeaching Donald Trump. A big one is the holy terror waiting in the wings.

That would be Mike Pence, who mirrors the boss more than you realize. He’s also self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel.

To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Trump doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.

Remember, this is the man who signed Indiana's right to discriminate bill.

Via RawStory.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

This Week at Green Man Review

The site's been up and down; we actually published this week's update yesterday. You can visit the site, but we can do anything more than that. So, let's see:

Ravens musical and otherwise, Totem Poles, some novels by Charles de Lint, new music and old music, and Other Matters

There's more, of course -- there's always more. Have a nice visit.

Review: Satoru Ishihara: Kimi Shiruya: Dost Thou Know?

I had a run of exceptional shounen-ai manga, all excellent examples of the genre, some even pushing the genre beyond where I thought it could go. Satoru Ishihara's Kimi Shiruya: Dost Thou Know? is another one of those that puts "BL" in an entirely new light.

Katsuomi Hanamori is a high-school kendo competitor; his brother Masaomi competes in the junior-high division. They find themselves facing off against a couple of new guys, Tsurugi Yaegashi and his younger brother, Saya, a "girly" boy, exceptionally timid, who is nevertheless a fierce competitor. The main story line centers on the courtship between Katsuomi and Tsurugi: on their first meeting, each sees the other as more likeable than he would have preferred -- they are rivals, after all -- and it's not long at all before Katsuomi, at least, begins thinking about what it would be like if Tsurugi and he were close friends -- or more than friends.

Kimi Shiruya operates on an entirely different dynamic than the typical formulaic school-boy romance. (Not that there is anything wrong with those: There are a number of them that are exceptionally well-done and very good reading.) Yes, these are school boys, both high school and middle school, but that is not the aspect of their characters that matters to this story. They are athletes, competitors in a sport with its own rich history and traditions (and we get a glimpse of that as Masaomi first dashes off to Saya's rescue when Saya is being bullied by a group of seniors: he recognizes that Saya understands the honor and integrity of the swordsman and deems that worthy of his respect), and this whole love story is, in a very real sense, a duel between two strong, proud, competitive young men. It's this kind of surround, I think, that makes Ishihara's stories so rich and full of potential meanings: in both of her works that I've read so far, her men are fierce and proud, and not at all confused about what they want.

This is another that has no sex scenes. There is, however, one kiss, which we only ever really see as a reflection in the water, that reverberates throughout the second half of the book: everything that happens hangs from that kiss, and Ishihara handles it so deftly that we don't even realize until the last two pages what's been going on. (I don’t think I'm spoiling anything for you here: there are a few widely-spaced clues, but you really can't tell where they're leading until the last two pages, when Ishihara really does a number on you and you find yourself sitting there saying "Of course!")

This is not to say that the story is not erotic -- in fact, it's far more truly erotic than most any other BL manga I can think of offhand (with the exception of Ishihara's own God of Dogs). It's an eroticism composed of innuendo, implication, and facial expressions that hold secrets (and don't ask me how she does that in a comic, but she does -- Tsurugi, especially, is one for enigmatic glances), all starting with the central metaphor of kendo: the emotional and erotic subtext all derives from the competition of the sport. The innuendo in the dialogue ranges from circumspect to blatant (when Tsurugi talks about crossing swords with Katsuomi, you know he's not entirely concerned with the next kendo tournament). Even the drawing is erotic, rough as it is.

And speaking of Ishihara's drawing, she notes in an afterword that Kimi Shiruya took three years to complete, and one can see the transformation in the graphics. The first chapter has a rough, harsh quality that, although perfectly in keeping with the story and characters, doesn't display quite the finesse that the last chapter does. Her line becomes more fluent and flexible, the character designs more finished, and the whole visual aspect takes on greater coherence (although I found the drawing in the first chapter perfectly acceptable, and even appealing).

Yeah, I like this one, a lot, in case you were wondering. I will tell you this, though: it snuck up on me. I found myself drawn back to it again and again, and discovering something new each time. My analysis at this point is that this is an exceptionally subtle and strong example of the genre.

And that's a good thing.

(Digital Manga Publishing, 2005)

Today in Trump's America

The latest "crime": sitting at home while black:

Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible, Pulp Fiction) recounted the incident on The Clay Cane radio show, of how it came to pass that he was almost shot by cops in the middle of the day in his own home. A neighbor said "a large black man" had broken in.

Fortunately, the police chief recognized him (and why was the chief there?).

Rhames had one really serious concern:

Rhames knows he was lucky, but the situation made him worry about his son.

“My problem is, as I said this to them, what if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something and you thought it was a gun?” Rhames asks.

Of course, the neighbor who made the call denied it.

And of course, this is an America that no longer believes in human rights -- at least, not officially:

Speaking at the Ministerial To Advance Religious Freedom this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney attacked the Obama administration for using taxpayer dollars to promote women’s rights and LGBTQ rights in Africa.

What the Obama administration was doing was withholding aid to those countries who abrogated the basic rights of women and LGBT people. (I really don't understand how you can be using taxpayer dollars for something if your not spending taxpayer dollars, but then, this is Trump's America.) And in case you had any doubts, this points up the fact that when "conservatives" say "religious freedom," they mean "Christian" supremacy, specifically, a particularly noxious form of "Christianity." And forget about the Establishment Clause.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Today in Trump's America: Banking While Black

These stories are popping up every day now. And it's not just trumpanzees doing the honors:

Barbara Carroll just wanted to cash a check for $140. The 78-year-old former probation officer and assistant bank manager, who is black, stopped by a Wells Fargo branch in Fort Lauderdale last November for what she thought would be a quick errand.

Instead, she says, she spent two and a half hours at the bank's Victoria Park location while employees refused to cash her check or return her driver's license, asking the PhD-holder what she did for the money and telling her they had called police. They were suspicious that Carroll was guilty of forgery, she says — even after the man who wrote the check confirmed it was legitimate.

We all remember Wells Fargo as the biggest fraudster -- out of a very crowded field -- responsible for the Great Recession. It seems that the banks is rewarding us for not prosecuting by continuing its racist policies.

And yes, Barbara Caroll is suing on the grounds of racial discrimination.

Via Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Today's Must-Read: It's About More than Roe v. Wade

Interesting piece by Michelangelo Signorile on the implications of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court for the religious right's agenda:

With Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings coming up, it’s important to underscore that some anti-LGBTQ leaders appear to be going for the brass ring, far beyond just dismantling marriage equality. They’re signaling they want to see the Supreme Court allow states to once again ban sodomy.

Kavanaugh, like Neil Gorsuch and the late Antonin Scalia, is a constitutional "originalist," which means that he thinks they Constitution should be interpreted from an eighteenth-century mindset. (They don't say it that way, of course, but that's what it amounts to.) The Founders, as it happens, were a lot more savvy about the processes of history and human society than contemporary "conservatives": they knew damned well that time passes, attitudes change, and the law has to reflect that. As Justice Anthony Kennedy put it, the Founders “knew times can blind us to certain truths, and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress." The goal of the hard-line "Christians" in this country, at least as regards privacy and the rights of LGBT citizens and women, is to put Tony Perkins in your bedroom, watching everything you do.

Via Towleroad.

Footnote: From Digby, this survey on public opinion on Roe v. Wade, another decision the "religious" right wants to demolish:

Historically, the Supreme Court has paid attention to public opinion -- it's the way they have of gauging changing attitudes. We'll see if that still holds.


I really don't need to say anything -- except maybe "Let's see what sticks to the wall."

Via Joe.My.God.

The GOP Midterm Strategy

Buy the votes:

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday announced it would offer $12 billion in aid to farmers hindered by retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. grain, produce and meat exports as the Trump administration digs in for a protracted trade battle.

The department will use the emergency aid to assist and buy crops from farmers who’ve lost billions of dollars in sales from foreign buyers in the European Union, Canada, Mexico and China. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the assistance plan was “a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy.”

“America’s hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China’s illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs,” Perdue said in a statement.

That last bit is choice, coming from an administration with no respect -- or for that matter, no awareness -- for international law.

Or at least, offer to buy them:

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled an election-year tax plan on Tuesday that is unlikely to become law but could energize party voters this autumn by promising permanent tax cuts for individuals and most business owners. . . .

Brady expects his committee to vote on legislation in September, setting the stage for a House floor vote.

But new tax legislation is unlikely to succeed in the Senate, where Republicans would need support from Democrats, who opposed last year’s overhaul that permanently slashed corporate taxes but provided only temporary reductions for individuals and business owners.

I think this comes under the heading "Look! Squirrel!" and of course, it's entirely typical of Republicans that their default would be tax cuts. That's all they have.

Both via Joe.My.God.

Culture Break: Ravel's Bolero

Somehow, it's always "Ravel's Bolero", as if there were any other. Another flash mob, this time composed of the members of the orchestra of Opera North, Leeds, UK:

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

At Last, Green Man Review

I don't know what happened, or how it happened, but Green Man Review is up and running again. Hurry on over for this week's offerings -- no telling how long it will last.

Today's Must-Read: The Right vs. America

This is actually from a couple of days ago, but I was tied up with the GMR problems, so here it is today. A cautionary tale from Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo:

Donald Trump will devour the Republican Party from within, warned David Frum. In an excerpt from "Trumpocracy" published in The Atlantic in January, the former George W. Bush speechwriter cautioned (emphasis mine):
Maybe you do not much care about the future of the Republican Party. You should. Conservatives will always be with us. If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy. The stability of American society depends on conservatives’ ability to find a way forward from the Trump dead end, toward a conservatism that cannot only win elections but also govern responsibly, a conservatism that is culturally modern, economically inclusive, and environmentally responsible, that upholds markets at home and U.S. leadership internationally.
In short, Frum hopes Republicans will outgrow Trumpism and into everything Trump and his followers are working to smash with a mallet. Will [they] reject democracy?

It looks more and more like they already have -- look at the pattern over the past couple of decades, as "conservatives" have taken over state governments and, almost automatically, have redrawn electoral maps and passed targeted voting laws to guarantee themselves a permanent majority, which eventually gave them Congress and, if Trump has his way, the presidency on a continuing basis. (Trump, of course, would prefer that he be president for life.) The right, over the past couple of generations, has come to have less and less regard for the foundations of American democracy. And now, with their alliance with evangelical "Christians," the gloves are off. It should be glaringly obvious that "Christians" of that stripe are one of the most, if not the most, anti-American forces at work today.

Read the whole thing, of course, but it's pretty depressing.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Review: Aquaplus and Toyuki Kobayashi: Utawarerumono

Another originally published at Epinions and no longer available there.

It took me a couple of weeks to learn to pronounce the title of this series, Utawarerumono, but I was determined. It was another find on a recommendation by my manga expert, and it's a good one. (The title is translated as "He Whose Song is Sung" -- in Japan, just as anywhere else, if people sing songs about you, you're in.)

A severely wounded man wearing a half-mask is found in the woods by a girl, Eluluu, grandaughter of the village healer, Tuskuru, who also happens to be the chief. They nurse him back to health, but he has no memory of who he is or where he came from. He is soon accepted by the villagers and shows himself to be a natural leader. When Tuskuru is killed defending her other granddaughter, Aruruu, from one of the local lord's soldiers, the villagers select the man, who has been given the name Hakuoro, as their new chief. And when they decide that the death of Tuskuru cannot go unavenged, they, and Hakuoro, are set irrevocably on the path of empire. And as he goes, he collects a strong -- and more than a little eccentric -- group of heroes around him.

This is sort of an odd story. We eventually learn that it actually takes place in the far future, although the setting is fantasy-feudal, Japanese style, give or take the bipedal dinosaurs that are the main riding animal. And everyone has animal ears, and women and girls also have tails. Everyone except Hakuoro, that is. The reasons for that are revealed well into the series, and I don't want to give them away here: it's a nice little "Aha!" moment.

We also learn that Hakuoro is not exactly human, and that he shares a soul with someone who has become, behind the scenes, his worst enemy. That leads to a spectacular final battle and a poignant, bittersweet finish.

Speaking of enemies, one flaw in the story is that the bad guys -- and there are a series if them -- get crazier and crazier, until they turn into caricatures. Actually, it doesn't really take very long for that to happen -- the first really seriously bad guy, Niwe, has perhaps the most irritating villain laugh ever.

The graphic work is good, if not spectacularly so -- characterizations are solid, action sequences are smooth, and the general level of the animation is pretty high. One thing I did notice, which still puzzles me: the major characters fit into a sort of manga-standard template, with triangular faces, retrousse noses, pointed chins, small mouths, and large eyes -- sort of High Shoujo characterizations. Even Haruoko fits into that mold, and it's to the animators' credit that he is as visually expressive as he is -- remember, he's wearing a half-mask throughout. The other half of the puzzle is that the secondary characters are strongly individual and much more "realistic" insofar as a cartoon can be. It works, though.

The acting, as tends to be the case in anime, is very good, although it did take me awhile to get used to some of the voices. Half the central characters are girls, and young girls at that: the voices sometimes approach hypersonic ranges. Special mention to Rikiya Koyama as Hakuoro: he doesn't say much, but when he does, it's nearly perfect. This must have been an extraordinarily difficult role in which to develop a full character, but Koyama pulled it off.

I can't really explain why I find Utawarerumono so appealing. It's not perfect, by any means, but it is tremendously engaging -- another one that I found myself watching seven or eight episodes at a stretch. If it weren't for the violence -- and it's there, in many battle scenes with lots of bright red blood -- I'd recommend this as nice family viewing. There are many quietly humorous moments that project warmth and comfort, and the message is one of peace and doing the right thing. Even though there are a lot of battles, the message there is that war is only justified in self-defense and even in that case, one is stained by bloodshed.

(Funimation, 2009)

A Message for the Media

Today at Green Man Review

is going to happen later, most likely tomorrow. The site is having technical issues. Check back tomorrow.

Today's Must-Read #2: Looks Like Someting Was Edited

For most rational people, it's a given that the Bible was composed by a number of different authors over a period of time. Well, it looks like Leviticus wasn't immune:

The original version of Leviticus expressly permitted gay sex, a Biblical scholar writes in the New York Times.

Idan Dershowitz is a fellow at Harvard and has studied the development of the Old Testament carefully, including Leviticus 20:13 which reads that “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

. . .

“There is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men,” he argues. “In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible.”

Take that, Tony Perkins.

Looks like somebody way back when had issues.

Today's Must-Read: Into the Abyss

America under the Trump regime is going to start looking like the worst parts of Central America. Two posts at Hullabaloo only point up how morally bankrupt the right has become.

First, this post by Tom Sullivan on the regime's not-in-good-faith attempts to obey court orders to reunite the families it has torn apart:

The court-imposed deadline is less than a week away for the Trump administration to reunite migrant families it forcibly separated a the border as part of its "zero tolerance" approach to refugees. The administration missed a deadline last week for reuniting children under five with their parents. Of the more than twenty-five hundred children in government detention, only 450 between the ages of 5 and 17 have reunited with their parents ahead of the July 26 deadline.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security that found it easy to take children from their parents' arms at U.S.-Mexico border stations find it much more difficult to reunite them. DHS personnel admitted weeks ago that records linking parents and their children have disappeared and in some case destroyed (a DHS spokesperson disputes this). HHS requested volunteers to help pore through case records to match children with their parents.

As you read through, it becomes more and more obvious that Trump's minions have no intention of rectifying this atrocity.

And now there are calls to assassinate "leftists", which is to say, anyone who objects to Trump's policies or his methods.

Here on Hullabaloo, Tom Sullivan recently posted a tweet informing us that Trump supporter Michael Scheuer, an ex-CIA spook, bestselling author and world-class paranoid approvingly mentioned the growing interest on the right in assassinating those opposed to Trump:

As this week’s end, it seems likely that it is quite near time for killing those involved in the multiple and clearly delineated attempts to stage a coup d’état against the legitimately elected [sic] Trump government and thereby kill our republic. 
Finally, this week saw a significant and quickening advance toward the moment when those millions of well-armed citizens who voted for Trump, and who have been abused or wounded by Democrats, their Antifa-thugs, and their thug-civil servants for exercising their franchise to elect Trump, cannot be, in good conscience, patient for much longer.
Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs...
That's right. Scheur even provided a list of people who it is "quite near time to kill."

This would sound to me like paranoid ravings, except that Trump supporters are already showing up armed at protests -- and let's not forget Charlottesville. Or for that matter, our monthly mass shootings.

Snowflake du Jour

You may have run across this story earlier, about the white graduate student who called campus police because black person:

Source: City Pages
Braasch, a 43-year-old graduate student at Yale University and two-degree graduate of the University of Minnesota, was planning to use a shared common space in her dorm late one May night. There, she encountered a young black woman sleeping.

Braasch called campus police to report the woman's presence, marking the second time this year she'd asked for police to check on the presence of black students in the common room. In both cases, the black student in question was a fellow Yale student of Braasch's.

The second incident went viral, after the target of Braasch's cop call, Lolade Siyonbola, recorded a brief confrontation between the two. "I have every right to call the police," Braasch tells her. Yale and its police disagreed.

So she laid low for a while, then finally decided to assert her specialness. The twitterverse wasn't having it:

There's more at the link.

Ms. Siyonbola was lucky -- she didn't wind up dead.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Look! Squirrel!

Guess who's dodging this week's negative reaction to -- well, just about everything he's done this week.

At the risk of repeating myself (and everyone else), the players have a right to protest -- and it's not about the military or the flag. It's about being murdered by the cops for being black.

Via Joe.My.God.

Oops! Somebody Let the Cat Out Of the Bag

It would be interesting to see the demographics of NRA members:

CHUCK HOLTON (NRATV CORRESPONDENT): You know it really has been fascinating to just kind of get an overview of the gun laws and how they affect -- how the culture affects the gun laws, I guess. Because you take a place like Switzerland, where they have a strong gun culture, number two to the United States as far as gun ownership and although they have very, very low crime. Very, very low murder rates. Essentially, maybe one per 100,000 a year or less. Very, very low and yet -- so what I’m saying is that it doesn’t have anything to do with the crime rate, as far as more guns equals more crime. That’s not true. What I’ve seen is actually the safer places that we’ve been, be that Monaco, San Marino, even Italy to some extent up in the north, and here in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, those places tend to have higher gun ownership but lower crime. And it really doesn’t have anything to do, I don’t think even with gun ownership, as much as it does with the homogeneity of the culture. That is, the people who just -- they feel like they’re part of a country, they feel like they’re part of one culture and they aren’t so divided like we are in the United States. And that’s something that kind of makes you go man, it would be really nice to go back to that time in the U.S. where we all just felt like Americans and we left each other alone to, you know, hey, it’s a free country.

GRANT STINCHFIELD (NRATV HOST): Yeah, regardless of color or race or religion, or any of those things. Where we all just were Americans.

Nice try, Stinchfield, but there's no cleaning that one up. And you know what? A lot of us -- probably most of us -- still feel like we're all just Americans, in spite of what your paymasters in Moscow are doing to change that.

Via Joe.My.God.

Friday, July 20, 2018

In Case You Had Any Doubts

that the Republican party has become the anti-American party, here's just a sample of this morning's stories:

HHS Deletes LGBT Resources From Obamacare Site

Feds Seek To Gut 1973 Endangered Species Act

DHS Chief Won’t Say Charlottesville Nazis Were Wrong

More detail:

"I think what’s important about that conversation is, it’s not that one side is right, one side is wrong," Secretary Nielsen told NBC News' Peter Alexander Thursday afternoon, when asked specifically about the August 2017 Charlottesville rally that left one woman, Heather Heyer, dead.

The Secretary of Homeland Security doesn't think Nazis are wrong. That fits.

This one nails it:

Dems React To Fiery Steny Hoyer Speech With “USA!” Chants After Republicans Block Election Security Bill

Putin has the whole damned party in his pocket.

This is just a selection from my first survey of this morning's news.

Oh, and this:

Hillary Clinton: 'Deeply troubling' for White House to consider Putin request to interview Americans

The idea that an American president would even consider allowing a hostile foreign power to "interrogate" a former ambassador is beyond belief.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Idiot du Jour

There seems to be this little corner of Iowa that has a racist, neo-fascist majority that keeps sending Steve King back to Congress. Here's an example of what a shining example of rational intelligence he is:

Speaking Tuesday during the House Judiciary Committee's, "Facebook, Google and Twitter: Examining the Content Filtering Practices of Social Media Giants," Rep. King demanded to know why a right wing site is losing traffic. King specifically mentioned a pro-Trump conspiracy theory and "fake news" website known as Gateway Pundit, run by Jim Hoft, a man whose name has become synonymous with "the stupidest man on the Internet," according to a Google search.

In the House hearing, King challenged Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, to explain why Gateway Pundit supposedly "saw its traffic cut by 54%." Facebook, contrary to King's assumptions, does not guarantee traffic to any website.

Congressman King also suggested Facebook uses the Southern Poverty Law Center as an ethics "advisory group" to determine how much traffic a Facebook page or website would receive.

It's called the "free market," bozo: your traffic is determined by how popular your content is.

It figures that King would support a wacko-conspiracy theorist.

Culture Break: Oysterband: We Could Leave Right Now

This is quite possibly my favorite Oysterband song:

(And yes, it just popped up on this morning's playlist.)

Today in Right-Wing Civility

Fromo "Pastor" Rick Wiles, one of the leading lights of the unhinged "Christian" right:

We’re in for the fight of our lives. If these people get power in this country again, you and I are toast, we’re done. Do you understand that? If they regain power, you and I are history. They’re coming after us. They will exterminate all opposition. Take my word for it. These people are ruthless. They’re murderers, they’re perverts, they’re pedophiles, they’re the worst scum that’s ever crawled on this planet and they’re dangerous. They will do anything to hold on to power, including exterminating their domestic opponents because they’re driven with madness, total madness. When you reject God, you’re opening your mind to madness. And these people have rejected God, they rejected God decades ago and madness has taken over.”

And of course, he has a TV show -- and, one assumes, an audience.

Via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Summit

It's all over the blogosphere and the press as well, not the one-on-one, closed door summit itself, because no one knows what Trump gave away there, but the press conference, which in itself is, given the reaction across the board (except for Hannity and perennial contrarian Rand Paul) apocalyptic.* Even Mitch McConnell is running away from it.

Rachel Maddow, who has covered the Russian angle more thoroughly than anyone else, sums it up. It's a full segment, but hunker down and listen: it's worth it.

* Tucker Carlson, who seems to live in a universe of his very own (and I'm sure he's very comfortable there) has his own unique take on election interference:

"I don't think Russia is our close friend or anything like that," said Tucker. "I think of course they try to interfere in our affairs. They have for a long time. Many countries do. Some more successfully than Russia, like Mexico, which is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate."

I'm speechless.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: Dead Can Dance: Wake: The Best of Dead Can Dance

First published at Epinions.com.

I was first introduced to the music of Dead Can Dance a number of years ago, when cassette tapes were state of the art. (Yes, that many years ago.) With my interest in offbeat popular music and music from other cultures, they were a good fit, but it wasn't until I picked up their "best of" release, Wake, that I realized how much in tune (if you'll pardon the expression) we were.

Listening through this album again, the range of traditions embodied in the music is remarkable.

Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry met in Melbourne in 1980. Perry, according to Gerrard, was making music in the mold of the New York Dolls; she doesn't talk about what she was doing, but what happened when they got together was something very different than either had been doing before. The collection starts off with their first collaboration, "Frontier," which they used as their demo when they moved to London and managed, after four years of rejection, to link up with Ivo Watts-Russell of 4AD. The amazing thing about "Frontier" is that it is already full-blown DCD: Perry's instrumental collages flow over, under and around Gerrard's highly abstract vocalizations to produce something that it, indeed, unique -- in this case, a beat that is almost something you might find in pop music (and more about that later), and Perry's own supporting vocals that become an inextricable part of the instrumentals.

About that beat: Dimitri Ehrlich, in his essay put together from interviews with Gerrard, Perry, and Watts-Russell, notes that Gerrard grew up in East Prahran, Melbourne, with a mix of Greek, Italian, Turkish, Irish and Arab neighbors. The two also worked in a Lebanese restaurant while saving money for the move to London. It would be insane to say that these experiences had no influence on their music. (Keep in mind that both are Australian, and that Australia is historically as ethnically mixed as North America; the major groups of immigrants there today are Asian. When Australians go "overseas," they are much more likely to go to the Philippines, Indonesia, or Japan than Europe.) What is astonishing about the music is that, while one can point to a particular piece and say, "Indonesian influence," or "Arab influence," or "from medieval sources," when one backs away a step or two, those influences are submerged into a seamless whole that simply says "Dead Can Dance." I mean, how does one attribute influences to the high drama of "Summoning of the Muse," with its carillon and heavy synths supporting a multi-tracked Gerrard singing a chorale (and being Gerrard, of course, doing bizarre things with the harmonies that we almost notice).

It's clear, listening to this set (and one of the best parts of writing this review is that I'm sitting here listening while I'm writing, which I always do with music review), where the strengths are. Perry is a talented singer, but those songs on which he is featured are more "standard" fare, with a clear vocal line in song form. His strength is in the instrumentals that pull together all the diverse influences and introduce amazing subtleties -- toward the end of "In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed are Kings," for example, he introduces a very quiet pulse on the bass drum, barely audible, with the effect of throwing the entire soundscape into high relief.

Gerrard is The Voice. Ehrlich says in his essay that "Gerrard . . . made sounds with her voice and turned that experience into something much larger and more far-ranging than mere singing." I can't describe it any better myself. Take my favorite combination on this collection, "The Lotus Eaters" and "Rakim" on disc 2: In "Lotus Eaters," the vocals may or may not be in any known language. It doesn't matter -- I'm not even sure those are actual words (no lyrics are provided for that one). The song is an Iberian-Arabic influenced masterpiece instrumentally, and Gerrard's vocals, charged with raw heat, twine sinuously through, creating one of the most erotic pieces of music I've ever heard. "Rakim" is a very different animal, Perry fronting a lively, upbeat Afro-Caribbean-sounding piece while, starting about halfway through, Gerrard starts yodeling in the background. It sounds odd put like that, but that's what she's doing: yodeling. It's perfect, and it's fantastic.

This is not a chronological sequence, quite -- "The Lotus Eaters," from 2001, is near the beginning of the second CD, followed by "Rakim" from Toward the Within (1994); the set ends with "How Fortunate the Man with None" from Into the Labyrinth (1993). The design, by the way, is superb -- it's worth having this set for the booklet alone, which is just beautiful.

I think this really is "The Best of Dead Can Dance," and if you're going to have one album by this pair, this is the one to have, hands down.

(4AD, 2003)

What's New at Green Man Review

There's a wide range of things offered this week at Green Man Review:

Robert Hunter’s ‘Brown-Eyed Women’, Music that Defies Classification, Indians from Day One, Patricia A. McKillip’s World-building, Gummi Butterflies, and Other Matters

"Gummi butterflies?" You ask. Yes, there are such things. Click on over and read about them and more.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


My "other" orchid, a Colmanara "Wildcat", has not been adapting well to the new environment. I had about given up on it when it surprised me: it has three blossoms on a stem about four inches long, all but hidden under the leaves.

Does this count as a silver lining?

(Mine, at least in this blooming, is not as dark as the illustration -- that needs lots of sun to bring out the colors, and it's sitting on a crowded table at an east window.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Today in Witch Hunts, Russian Assets in Congress Edition

So the House decided to have a joint committee investigation of Peter Strzok and the FBI's (non-existent) attempts to sink the Trump candidacy and hand the election to Hillary Clinton. It blew up in their faces and made them look like fools (because Strzok was more than they bargained for). Charles P. Pierce has a good overview:

There’s no real point in recapping the highlights. The videos are going to be in regular rotation for quite a while now. It was, as it was called at various points in the hearing, a kangaroo court, a show trial, and a travesty of a sham of a mockery of a sham of two mockeries. But it was designed to be that. It was a performance piece. It was not a very well-cast one, and several of the lead actors fell into the orchestra pit, but it managed to run from curtain-up to curtain-down.
And there’s still the basic fact out there that the president* of the United States needed money to shore up his failing businesses, and he went to Russian oligarchs in league with a KGB goon at the head of an authoritarian nation to get it, and that we don’t know what he owes, and to whom, and what he’s willing to do to settle his debts.

This is the level of qualifications these yahoos are touting:

"I am a dentist. So I read body language very, very well." – Rep. Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona.


You can find details at various sites around the Web (here, here, and here, just to point out a few).

So now the whole country knows just how stupid and and reality-impaired House Republicans are. Except for the ones who watch Fox News.

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Snowflake du Jour: Tomi Lahren

She really is one of the stupidest people using up air time:

“Because it’s going to get worse,” Lahren warned. “The final stages of Trump derangement syndrome are not just heckling and harassment. There are going to be physical confrontations. And I truly don’t believe that’s what the Democratic Party wants for conservatives, for us to be attacked. But they need to make that very clear.”

“Because until then, there are many of their followers and supporters who do think it’s okay to do these things,” she insisted. “They think it’s their right and their duty. And that’s dangerous.”

It is their right.

Image du Jour: Trump at NATO (Update)

This picture says it all:


Via Joe.My.God.

Update: And hide your irony meter -- this is how he started off:

Donald Trump didn’t waste any time in his efforts to alienate U.S. allies at the NATO summit, accusing Germany of being “captive” to Russia.

“Germany as far as I am concerned is captive to Russia, because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia…Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate, because I think it’s not, and I think it’s very bad thing for NATO, and I don’t think it should have happened, and I think we have to talk to Germany about it.”
Video at the link, if you can stand it.

The actual figure is about 9%, according to the German government.

Next he'll go to Helsinki, where Putin will pat him on the head and say "Good dog."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Culture Break: Kimmo Pohjonen: Särmä

This tune is included on the CD Pohjonen did with Kronos Quartet, in a rather different version.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Review: Linkin Park: Meteora

Another one that originally appeared on Epinions, where it no longer exists in any form.

First, a little history: I tend to poke around on YouTube for AMVs from anime that use good music -- it's the combination that makes a successful AMV, and I've found some really good ones. One was done by a very talented young lady using Linkin Park's "Breaking the Habit" as the soundtrack. (The anime clips were from X, which itself looks very interesting.) I was quite taken by the song, and eventually laid hands on the CD. It took some getting used to -- "Breaking the Habit" is not typical of Linkin Park's style. I'm not particularly fond of screaming vocals, nor am I all that patient with rap. Why on earth was I listening to Linkin Park and liking it?

First off, I have my own approach to music: if it's an idiom new to me, I let myself soak in it until I start to understand where the artist is coming from. Consequently, I've learned a lot about many different kinds of music, most of which I enjoy. So I soaked.

If Depeche Mode is the Mahler of popular music, Linkin Park is the Wagner -- they have that kind of excess, that over-the-top, almost expressionistic flair that's one of the things I love about Wagner. And they make really interesting sounds. The music is very rich, textured, layered stuff with a lot of depth, and what I can only call an "emotional dynamic range" that's surprising in popular music. I think it's the combination of Mike Shinoda's rap with Chester Bennington's passionate singing -- and I use the word advisedly: Bennington is capable of much more than screaming, but he's always intense. Shinoda's rap folds into Bennington's singing beautifully -- Shinoda packs a wide enough range of expression into his delivery that I'm not sure you can really call it "rap" any more. Backed by a wall of sound from Rob Bourdon (drums), Brad Delson (guitars), Phoenix (bass), and the sampling by Joseph Hahn and Shinoda, it's a potent sound. A song like "Easier to Run" shows the range this group can pack into less than three-and-a-half minutes, the pathos overlaid by the urgency they somehow build into a long melodic line.

Which brings me to what really got to me: the lyrics. Sadly, there is an element of truth to the canards about pop song lyrics: most of them are pretty shallow. When I listened to the words in "Breaking the Habit," and then "Easier to Run," "Nobody's Listening," and "Numb," I was hooked. First, I think the message here is going to reach any teenager, and maybe even some a little older: it's about anger, it's about being lost and confused, it's about the frustration inherent of becoming an adult, about being seen as a child when you're not any more, all told from a surprisingly mature point of view. A line like "All I want to do/is be more like me/and be less like you" (from "Numb") makes you stop and think: there's the child's struggle for independence, right there. And growing up gay when and where I did, "Somewhere I Belong" and "Easier to Run," to name only two, were like seeing into my own head as a teenager. There are levels of meaning there that reflect a very sophisticated level of songwriting, and an emotional load that, even if not intentional, will not let you walk away from this music.

It’s not a perfect collection. The first half is uneven, with more valleys than peaks, but "Easier to Run" leads into a set of very strong numbers covering more than half the album, conceived and performed at a very high level: the best ones are stellar. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I can't get enough of this music.

It's Sunday Again

And that means reviews at Green Man Review:

Kage on Time Bandits, Olivier Greif’s Sonate de Requiem and Trio avec piano, The Haiku of Basho, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger gets panned, Charles de Lint in conversation, A History of Ice Cream and other matters…

And Who, you may ask, is Olivier Greif? Well, click on over to find the answer to that and other questions.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Today's Must-Read: Preserving Whiteness

Via Digby, from Jamelle Bouie, writing in Slate:

Under the Trump administration, even naturalized citizens are now a target. The government agency that oversees immigration applications is hiring lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants suspected of obtaining citizenship through fake identities or other false information on their applications. Cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, where offenders could lose their citizenship or legal status.

“We finally have a process in place to get to the bottom of all these bad cases and start denaturalizing people who should not have been naturalized in the first place,” L. Francis Cissna, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in an interview with the Associated Press last month. “What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, is potentially a few thousand cases.”

Strangely enough, the "bad cases" all seem to involve naturalized citizens who are not white.

That's just part of it: The military is discharging immigrant recruits who enlisted under a promise of a path to citizenship:

Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.

The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures. . . .

Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.

Tom Sullivan has more on this at Hullabaloo.

Add in voter suppression at the state level (for non-white voters) and Trump's very public disdain for immigrants from everywhere but Europe, and you have the racist Republican party working overtime to preserve a white majority.

Tweet du Jour

Because Pruitt, who may very well be the most corrupt member of Trump's cabinet (and that's saying something) finally got the hint and resigned. He must have felt threatened when Kristen Mink confronted him at a restaurant.

Or maybe it's because Trump wouldn't give him Sessions' job.

Here's the whole sordid story.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Don't Hit the Panic Button

With Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the Supreme Court, the gay press is going nuts forecasting doom and destruction to gay rights, embodied in the predictions of the complete overturn of Obergefell. This is a good capsule of the prognostications:

MSNBC’s Ali Velshi said he’s worried that LGBT Americans could see their civil rights stripped away by President Donald Trump’s replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Velshi warned a newly conservative high court could undo the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling to legalize same-sex marriage, and he said LGBT people could find themselves at the mercy of state laws.

Velshi goes on to enumerate all we could lose if Obergefell is overturned.

As it happens, overturning Obergefell is not going to be that easy, in spite of the pronouncements of certified ignoramus Mat Staver. For starters, whoever wants to sue to end same-sex marriage has to prove that they're somehow harmed by it. How do you prove you've been harmed by marriage between two strangers? There's also the fact that the decision in Obergefell is solidly grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment's requirement for equal protection under the law and due process. As a reminder, the Fourteenth Amendment begins as follows:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Now, I realize the "Christian" right doesn't like the idea of everyone being treated equally, but that's America for you: it's in the Constitution, so live with it.

Velshi's guest, Sarah Warbelow of HRC, I think is more on target:

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said she believes same-sex marriage is settled law that one court ruling could [not] nullify.

“What we’re really worried about is the chipping away of rights under marriage,” Warbelow said.

She said Trump’s first court pick — Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated after Senate Republicans refused to seat an Obama nominee — believed same-sex couples should have fewer rights than heterosexual couples.

“It’s this creation of skim-milk marriage that’s really at risk for LGBTQ families and couples around the country,” Warbelow said.

(I inserted the "not" because otherwise the whole passage makes no sense.)

What the right will try to do is chip away at marriage rights on the state level, leading to years of law suits. If one makes it up to the Supreme Court, there is a possibility that the "conservative" justices could find a way to weasel their way around the Fourteenth Amendmemt. One only need look at the "reasoning" in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby to see how far they would go. That, however, would be very unlikely to give them an excuse to overturn Obergefell.

So, don't look for any dramatic gestures from the Court on same-sex marriage. Watch out, though, for the chip-chip-chip that has worked for the retrograde element on abortion rights.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Today's Must-Read: Pushing the Conversation: A Twofer

Two pieces from Hullabaloo this morning, back to back. First, via Digby, this piece by Adam Gopnik from NYT:

The point is not that what Obama did was necessarily always admirable, but that amnesia about even the very recent past has become essential to the most decent conservative politics; only by making the national emergency general and cross-party can it be fully shared rather than, as it should be, localized to the crisis of one party and its ideology. In plain English, it becomes necessary to spread the smell around so that everyone gets some of the stink on them.

Fottnote: The press has been more than complicit in this, and it hasn't been just Fox.

This piece by Tom Sullivan follows immediately:

Writing for the Irish Times, Fintan O'Toole agrees. He believes the sitting president's caging of toddlers is no mistake, but test marketing:
Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.

One conclusion from both articles: this is not something that's newly emerged with Trump: he's the prototype; it's what the right has been working toward since the days of the John Birch Society, the Moral Majority, and Ronald Reagan. Actually, come to think of it, there's always been an element in American society that doesn't love our foundational values. And now they've learned new techniques to control the discourse.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

What's New at Green Man Review

In spite of the brutal weather we in the heartland are enduring, Green Man Review has a new edition, with lots of goodies:

Cash’s ‘Tennessee Flat Top Box’, A Raccoon in a Garbage Can puppet, Mouse Guard short stories and other Summery things

There's more. Of course there's more. Click on over and chill for a bit.

Today's Must-Read: Trump and the "Christians"

Digby has a must-read post on the reasons why the "Christian" right supports Trump. It boils down to a very simple summary: Roe v. Wade:

It's easy to see why they love Trump so much. He's a kindred spirit: a liar and a con man. They love liars and con men:

For evangelical Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr., this is their political holy grail.

Like many religious conservatives in a position to know, the Liberty University president with close ties to the White House suspects that the Supreme Court vacancy President Donald Trump fills in the coming months will ultimately lead to the reversal of the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade. But instead of celebrating publicly, some evangelical leaders are downplaying their fortune on an issue that has defined their movement for decades.

“What people don’t understand is that if you overturn Roe v. Wade, all that does is give the states the right to decide whether abortion is legal or illegal,” Falwell told The Associated Press in an interview. “My guess is that there’d probably be less than 20 states that would make abortion illegal if given that right.”

People like Falwell are savvy enough to realize that if they start blowing horns and beating drums, there's going to be a backlash, big time. And overturning Roe is just the first step: in the event that should happen (and I have my doubts), the fight will go to the state houses. And right now, public opinion is against them:

Two-thirds of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, according to a poll released Friday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Among women of reproductive age, three out of four want the high court ruling left alone. The poll was conducted before Kennedy’s retirement was announced.

There is similar support for same-sex marriage, the "Christian" right's other hot-button issue.

And don't forget that neither of those is an end in itself: they are a means. Watch for more cases centering on what the right calls "religious freedom" (i.e., their right to tell everyone else how to live).

A note: I don't share the widespread fear that Roe and Obergefell are going to be overturned next week. There's a whole process that has to happen, starting with finding someone who can prove they have suffered harm by someone else having an abortion or getting married.

As always, read the whole thing.