Friday Free-For-All: Open Forum


Boy, that seven days went fast.

I would be having an open forum now even if we didn’t do this every Friday, because I’m Zooming and ethics seminar to New Jersey lawyers this morning.

Other Bill, esteemed commenter, wrote earlier this week:

So many people in the commentariat so well versed on so many topics. Impressive and enjoyable. Graduate level discussions of all sorts of things.

That’s very true, and I’m proud of it. I may even stop worrying about the fall-off in traffic here this month. When the quality of participation is this high, it doesn’t matter.

52 thoughts on “Friday Free-For-All: Open Forum

  1. Well, to President Biden’s credit, it appears that “Red Lines” drawn in Syria during his term will be honored. I really do hope this shot across the bow will be heard loud an clear and will be unambiguously maintained.

  2. Over the last few decades, institutions have been selling off their art to raise money for operating expenses or, more recently, to radically change their collections in direct contradiction with the rules of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). Allegedly, due to the pandemic, the AAMD suspended their deaccessioning criteria for two years to allow cash-strapped organizations to sell art “to pay the bills.” In the aftermath what was once a trickle of opportunistic selling has turned into a gold rush as generously endowed institutions unload contemporary art not only for monetary reasons, but to meet their notions of art experience for all, that is, to advance “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” In our geographic area the Baltimore Museum of Art has been making news for employing these regrettable practices “imaginatively.” But, it’s coming soon (if it hasn’t already) to a museum near you.

    • Within the last few years (predating the Wuhan Flu thingy) the Phoenix Art Museum has (I think as a result of a new, young, doubtless of color, director coming on board, changed directions from a general purpose art museum to one specializing in Mexican and Latin American art. It was a great place to take kids to experience a traditional, historical collection of art, particularly art done by Arizona artists and collected and donated by Phoenix and Arizona families, you know, like the Goldwaters. Now it’s not. A real loss.

      • This is admittedly my pet peeve, the viral disease from Wuhan province is a covid not a flu. We may well be getting “Wuhan” covid and regular flu vaccines annually for the forseeable future, so mixing up the names for ideological reasons just muddies the waters for the ignorant. I don’t object to “Wuhan Virus”, but “Wuhan Flu” is misinformation.


    To harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict specifically : to cause to suffer because of belief.

    To treat someone unfairly or cruelly over a long period of time because of their race, religion, or political beliefs, or to annoy someone by refusing to leave them alone.

    Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs.

    To treat someone extremely badly, or to refuse them equal rights, especially because of their race, religion, or political beliefs.

    Most people know down deep in their souls that persecution is unethical, immoral, and just wrong and history has shown us many times what persecution has done. I’m seeing a disturbing trend that’s growing rapidly in the United States of America, persecution has become “politically correct” and popular within the political left especially the extreme left.

    Can we discuss the legal ramifications of engaging in persecution.

    1. Is persecution illegal?
    2. Is persecution punishable under the law?
    3. Is persecution of those you disagree with covered in any way by our civil rights?

    My current understanding is that persecution is not actually illegal or unconstitutional, but the legality depends on what actions are actually taken. Discrimination is a tool used to persecute. Here’s an example; it’s unconstitutional/illegal to discriminate against someone for the color of their skin but it’s not unconstitutional to discriminate against someone because they are a perceived to be a Republican.

    Okay, discuss.

    • That is a problem. Why haven’t we had to deal with this before? Well, I don’t think the leftist ideology had taken root enough for people to accept persecuting people for their beliefs as a positive good. Persecuting people of a ‘correct’ race, ‘correct’ sexual preference and gender identity, or ‘correct’ religions is considered horrific. It is considered so bad that just hearing about it or discussing it is traumatic enough to require legal compensation. Persecuting people other religions, for patriotism, for ‘incorrect’ sexual preferences or race is considered not just acceptable, but a positive good. Driving people out of your restaurant for having the bumper sticker of a major political party would have been considered outrageously unacceptable in the 1980’s or 1990’s outside of a leftist college town. Today, it can get you accolades. This is what the left has accomplished. Leftism is an ideology of hate, with no positive program of its own. It cannot exist without groups to hate.

    • To an Aussie/pom the US seems historically to have been cranked very much more to individual freedom rather than obligations to others. So the ‘freedom’ to persecute’, has had more weight than the ‘right not to be persecuted’.

      ‘Persecute’ is a strong word and implies violence, hatred and malice. In this context, as you say: “Most people know ….. that persecution is unethical, immoral and just wrong.” It’s not hard to agree that the post reconstruction persecution of the blacks (lynch mobs and KKK atrocities) was very ‘wrong’.

      But it also seems very wrong, and verging on the offensive, to imply that Republicans and Conservatives are suffering anything similar in current times, eg from bias in the media. “Driving people out of a restaurant for having the bumper sticker of a major political party …” isn’t acceptable behaviour in my world, but it is in no way comparable with lynching or being burned out. And there is an argument (not that I accept it) that the owner should have some rights to chose who he serves (just as I certainly do in my home).

      The modern issues are around ‘discrimination ‘ and ‘bias’, and I suggest we should reserve the ‘persecution’ word for genocides, racial cleansing and holocausts.

      Jack frequently opines that “Bias makes you stupid”. I think differently. An understanding of one’s experience and how that has affected one’s judgment is a major contribution to wisdom. I shall continue to be biased against Jack Russell terriers, having been bitten by one who used to live next door. (And biased pro Corgis having grown up with one.). As I like to think Thomas Bayes advised: “first identify your priors”.

      • There is a lot more going on than just chasing people out of restaurants, although I do believe that that alone is enough to qualify as persecution. People are having their businesses burned to the ground for supporting particular politicians. In a lot of places in the US, putting bumper stickers on your car supporting particular politicians leads to having your car vandalized, or leads to physical assault to the people occupying it. There have been many politically motivated murders in the last year. Just because the media doesn’t care to cover politically motivated persecution and violence, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The hatred and malice coming from the left is very real, and very destructive.

      • This is a Rationalization #22 argument, Andrew. Come on.“Driving people out of a restaurant for having the bumper sticker of a major political party …” isn’t acceptable behaviour in my world, but it is in no way comparable with lynching or being burned out.” Right. And being prevented by social media platforms because they want to suppress certain views isn’t as bad as being kicked out of a restaurant, and being lynched or burned out still isn’t as bad as genocide. and genocide isn’t as bad as a James Bond madman wanting to destroy the world with a killer virus. But all are unacceptable—if it’s unacceptable, it can’t be more acceptable than something else. Accepting the unacceptable means that you keep drawing the line closer and closer to the ultimate evil.

  4. What is still going on in Texas? I still see reports that they don’t have food, water, etc. I am 3.5 hour drive from Dallas and we haven’t been without food. I am pretty sure there are roads between here and Texas, so why hasn’t anyone driven some food there? I am almost 1 week into a boil order on our city’s water. We can’t get chemicals to treat the water because the government has reserved them for Texas. Have we already become the Soviet Union where we just run out of essentials and can’t get them at all? Do we need to call Mexico for aid (except they are probably using HOCl not chloramine for treatment)?

    Is this disaster really natural, or has it been exacerbated by incompetence? Why has Texas suffered such severe consequences when Oklahoma had much worse weather?

      • Texas has a private electric grid contain solely within the state borders. Therefore, Federal regulations don’t apply to the electric utilities. They are free to set whatever billing scheme they wish. Thus, the billing doesn’t stop simply because the lines are down!

      • I don’t think the people with the $9k bills lost power. They were buying electricity at wholesale prices, and the wholesale price spiked. I have some questions about that whole thing, as the price of a MW hit $10k at one point during the blackout, and a MW can supposedly power 5 or so homes. How much power were these people using, exactly? They were warned the prices were going to spike ahead of time, and they should have known when they agreed to buy electricity at wholesale prices that those prices could fluctuate wildly. Turning their power out entirely is obviously not ideal, but a lot of people were not given the option of deciding for themselves whether or not to do that. The choice was made for us.

        If you aren’t prepared to have random spikes in prices, you should probably go with a more traditional power company. Traditional companies were available in the area, just not available at the last minute before a storm. The people who got these bills gambled and lost. I’m not sure a lawsuit is appropriate.

        • Thanks, NP. Still seems fishy to me. Is ENRON still operating in Texas? I thought that whole energy marketplace thing was exposed and abandoned years ago. It had to have died a quick death in Arizona around 2000.

      • I think this will be in court for years being sorted out. I guess those customers were on some type of ‘demand-based pricing’ scheme. I don’t understand how they got the bills already, though. I get my electric bill monthly. If they were without power, how did they get charged. These are the types of things that make me worry about these ‘smart meters’. I suspect that this will all just be a ‘simple misunderstanding’ once it goes to court.

    • It’s been exacerbated by a Leftist media that only wants you to hear the worst things from the few they can find still suffering from it. I would strongly distrust the numbers reported by them, because even if there are people who are suffering from occasional rolling blackouts or interruptions, they will be “out of power” to the media.

      If you remember how the professional left and media report the COVID numbers, where anyone who tests positive and dies is enumerated as a casualty of the disease rather than the most proximate actual cause, you will always distrust the media’s reporting of red state disasters. It is in the interests of the narrative they support to report the worst in every situation involving a red state or government where conservatives can be blamed.

  5. Why are lefties pushing for open borders? Shouldn’t they be warning people from wonderfully diverse and lively and authentic places like Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras not to come given the U.S. is a discriminatory, racist, white supremacist dominated, unequal, terroristic society? Why come here? It’s a nightmare. Just ask AOC or Ilhan Omar. Or Bernie Sanders. Or Noam Chomsky. Shouldn’t people be leaving the U.S. in droves for any foreign shore ASAP? Run away!

    • People want to immigrate to the US for economic reasons. The current government is instituting open borders policies that will allow basically anyone who wants to come here to come here. Jobs are currently being exported from the US to other countries, while people who want jobs are being imported. I have seen polls that say somewhere around 1 billion people want to immigrate to the US. Most of those people want to do so for economic reasons. There will be a huge influx of immigration to begin with, but as the job pool gets spread thinner and thinner, wages will plummet, housing will become unavailable and poverty will flourish. At some point in the process, economic migration will stop being an incentive to immigrate to the US, as the US will no longer have any economic advantage for its people. Immigration will eventually stop being a problem as people will be seeking to immigrate away from, rather than into the country, for economic reasons. The country will have collapsed by then, but the immigration issue will have ceased to be an issue.

      • They also have no real loyalty to our system of government, no appreciation for our traditions, history or culture nor much incentive to learn English.

        They serve to help tribalize our country – as assimilation into “The Great American Melting Pot” is considered a racist trope – by insisting that their cultural traditions be treated equal to ours, that our history and historical figures contributed to racist oppression of Central and South America and can be counted on to vote one way.

      • So open borders has that going for it. I can’t remember who he was, but I remember a Hungarian or some other survivor of Soviet era Communism saying something along the lines of “Communism makes everyone equal by making everyone poor.” I assume that’s the left’s game plan in the U.S. Of course, the leaders of the Left will continue unscathed with their government jobs and tenured professorships.

  6. The recent House hearing on Wall Street did not actually dig into the scandals that are threatening our financial systems. The blatant manipulation of the stock market by market players has been made clear and people are just ignoring it.

    The same is true with precious metals trading, with JP Morgan being fined almost $1 billion for manipulating metals the same way the hedge funds manipulated GameStop above. This is after being fined $550 million in 2015 for rigging currency prices. In 2013, they were fined $410 million for price fixing energy In 2019, they were fined for manipulating the currency market. In one 3-year period, they were fined $35 billion for financial wrongdoing. Why is such a company still allowed to dominate key financial sectors? Why is it even allowed to be in business?–20200929.html

    Is our entire system ‘rigged’? Look at the feedback loop the Fed is currently in

    10 “We don’t have inflation because inflation would cause the government to collapse under the interest of $30 trillion in debt.”
    20 We have inflation due to unrestrained printing of money, so foreign government dump Treasury bonds that pay little interest and are being devalued by inflation
    30 Interest on the Treasury bonds increase to attract customers.
    40 This can’t happen, so the Fed declares there is no inflation, prints a lot of new money to buy the bonds off the market to make the bond more valuable (fewer of them)
    50 This still isn’t enough and only half the bonds are purchased
    60 The fed prints more money to buy the bonds that didn’t sell to keep interest rates from increasing due to inflation from printing money
    70 GOTO 20
    Certainly looks rigged. Cue hyperinflation!

    In addition to the disaster above, the ACH system (FEDWIRE) went down this week. Suspicion is that it was taken down to keep people from being able to transfer money so they could take delivery on silver, which would be disastrous given the manipulation by JP Morgan an others. When the system went down, however, GameStop stock went from $40/share to $180/share in minutes because the Fed was sending an endless stream of money to suppress the price of GameStop (and AMC and the other ‘meme’ stocks). The other suspicion was that someone at the Federal Reserve sabotaged the system to make a killing on GameStop and AMC stock.

    Trading on Marathon (MRO) was suspended this week because it started to go up. This threatened hedge funds shorting it, so trading in it was suspended. I was trying to buy some more, because it was finally going up (after 3 years). It had only gone up by $0.80 or so, but trading was suspended.

    Is the system rigged? Maybe you can’t prove it, but it certainly looks rigged. Maybe you can’t prove our elections are rigged, but they certainly look like it. The fact that no one investigates or does anything about it lessens the people’s confidence in the system. The scandal of GameStop is that the manipulation by Wall Street was laid bare for the 9 million members of WallStreetBets and the millions of others who read it. The fact that the manipulation was ignored and perfectly legal trading by individuals was demonized was not missed by those people. Do we have a government that can only exist behind walls guarded by thousands of specially-vetted and loyalty-tested troops because the people have lost confidence in the system? How much longer can this go on?

    • In the world of financial markets there seems to be no shame any more. There is no embarrassment, even being caught red handed attempting to cheat. Wasn’t there a time when crooks, once uncovered, slunk away, becoming social pariahs? Can markets work without any widely shared consensus of decency? These seem such dangerous and unstable times. There are so many frail products and ideas almost predestined to collapse …… we just know not when.

      It would be comforting to think there were better times ahead, but if so, I can’t see it.

  7. Obama has now come out in favor of reparations. Mrs. OB has asked whether there will be any sort of offset for the trillions of dollars spent on The War On Poverty since the 1960s against reparations that will be paid. Will public housing be rented at market rates? Will welfare and SNAP and other programs be terminated. Will scholarships to black kids no longer be available insofar as they will have that reparations money to pay for tuition at all the finest schools. What happens when the reparations money has been spent or scammed in the largest scale con man rip-off in the history of humanity? Will there be Reparations 2.0 to bail out the reparees?

    • So, how much is Obama going to pay in reparations? He is descended from slaveholders, but not slaves. He should have to pay a lot more that me, a descendant of neither slaveholder nor slaves.

  8. “Esteemed commenter.” Hah. “Persistent” or “Insistent” might be better. There are any number of thoughtful, serious essayists who comment here all the time. I’m just a short attention span pea shooter in the peanut gallery operating in the low hanging fruit category.

    • As appears to be the case with all media, Trump’s move to Mar-a-Lago full time seems to have lowered everyone’s interest in things political. There’s just not as much clear conflict without him justifiably pushing the Swamp’s and the Left’s innumerable buttons daily.

  9. A comment by Isaac triggered me to look up “red pill” to see how it was defined on the Internet. I always thought it was simply a reference to a dialog by Morpheus in the Matrix to describe an analog to truth versus self-deception or blissful ignorance of deception or falsehood. Imagine my surprise when described it thus:

    Red pill refers to (becoming enlightened to) the truth about reality, especially a truth that is difficult to accept or exposes disillusions.

    Online, red pill is especially used among anti-feminist and white supremacist groups to refer to “waking up” to the truth that women and liberal politics are oppressing men and white people.

    Heh. I wonder if they always mention the most controversial uses of terms when fringe groups associated with the Left use them? Inquiring minds…

    The Urban Dictionary, hardly a bastion of right-wing thought, has a definition more in line with what I always understood:

    ‘Red pill’ has become a popular phrase among cyberculture and signifies a free-thinking attitude, and a waking up from a “normal” life of sloth and ignorance. Red pills prefer the truth, no matter how gritty and painful it may be.

    The Leftist restructuring of culture and language continues apace.

  10. That’s a great comment by Isaac. As a matter of fact, here it is in its entirety:

    I’m not part of the Red Pill gang, but they do bring some valuable insights to the table, because the larger culture has swung so far in the feminist direction that they entirely miss a few important truths which the woman-hating manosphere has picked up on.

    One being…women do not act as a single tribe, supporting one another in the face of the evil patriarchy. History is not the story of all men holding down all women, but rather tribes, consisting of men and women, working together to hold down other tribes of men and women.

    Many women will support the men of their tribe over the women of the opposing tribe.
    That’s why the hypocrisy of Me Too is most apparent among the most crazed, politically-minded feminists. They will defend their men, like Cuomo or Clinton, no matter what those men do. Because those men are the leaders of their tribe. Those lying skanks who would dare hurt the alpha-liberals’ careers must be working for the other tribe. You know, the bad guys.

    They aren’t on Team Woman, they are on Team Liberal. Pretending to care about sexual harassment is just a tool in the great battle with the other tribe. We saw that when certain women were willing to torch the credibility of the Me Too movement just to shut down Brett Kavanaugh.

  11. Lady Gaga Ethics.

    Apparently, some miscreants dognapped Lady Gaga’s three French bullsogs, after shooting the dogs’ walker. She has offered $500,000 for their safe return, no questions asked. How much is she offering for information leading to tge arrest and prosecution of the idiot(s) who shot the dog walker?

    Inquisitive minds want to know.


  12. The new, 1.9 trillion dollar “COVID-19 relief bill” spends 91% of the money on democrat party special interests, and only 9% on actual COVID-19 relief. Republicans are planning to vote to pass it. Regular people will get nothing, while Democrat donors will receive…almost 2 trillion dollars in graft. How is this ethical?

    • It’s not. It makes no sense and I shudder to think what will happen when our economy eventually tanks.

      This morning my favorite butcher shop featured a BBQ pork special. Someone in line made a joke that the place had almost as much pork as a democrat sponsored stimulus bill.

      Just one more reason I love living in an openly conservative town.

  13. The term ‘red pill’ was coined by men’s rights activists in around 2005-6 (IIRC)It meant waking up to the reality of how men are discriminated against, plus what’s mentioned in the Urban Dictionary definition. MGTOW threatens the power balance, and traditional marriage; society would collapse if men completely refused to carry the load (power linemen, sewerage and sanitation workers as well as tradesmen and military are mostly male) and their efforts are often denigrated(women ‘have it harder’). There’s been vicious pushback against MGTOW main points, like equal custody rights for fathers, or the abolishment of exorbitant and/ or lifetime alimony, and the laws in some states that force men to pay support for children that aren’t theirs. Feminists like Marcotte and Valenti came out swinging on feminist blogs to paint all MGTOW activists as ‘neckbeards’ living in their Mom’s basements, whining weasels no sane woman would want. The ‘whites supremacist’ label was added fairly recently.

    ‘White supremacist!’ is the new handy way for those on the left to instantly marginalize anyone. Accusing men of being racist and rapists was overdone and lost its punch, it’s just their latest method.

    • White supremacist has lost its punch, as well. I now automatically assume anyone who is called a white supremacist by the media is just being slandered. These terms lose their punch faster and faster, so the media keeps having to come up with new ones. When you throw these kind of terms around at the slightest difference in opinion, they cease to matter.

      • But, according to Merrick Garland, the man we were assured was a moderate, mainline jurist, the few dozen nutjob “white supremacists and armed racists” floating around the country are one of the nation’s most serious problems.

  14. Ethics quote of the month candidate:

    Prof. Johnathan Turley writing in The Hill:

    I do not believe today’s activists will succeed in removing the most-watched cable news channel in 2020 from the airways. But, then again, I did not think social media sites — given legal immunity in exchange for being content-neutral — would ever censor viewpoints. The measures being discussed in Congress have the potential to defeat us all. It is surprisingly easy to convince a free people to give up their freedoms, and exceedingly difficult to regain those freedoms once they are lost.

    Is “Amen” still a thing?

        • On a related note, here is a Disqus comment.

          The real solution is to hold FOX responsible for their role in promoting Trump’s “stop the steal” nonsense. One thing that needs to happen in DC is we need to stop focusing so much attention on creating new laws and focus more on enforcing existing laws. 18 USC Section 2384 makes it illegal for two or more persons to conspire to try to overthrow the government. There’s no question that conservative media outlets were complicit in actively promoting Trump’s “stop the steal” propaganda, so the solution is to prosecute those opinion hosts for conspiring to seek the perversion of a Constitutionally mandated process for the tallying of electoral college votes, which constitutes an attempt to “delay the execution of any law”, as described in 18 USC Section 2384. Allowing your organization to become a venue for the promotion (and there’s no question that opinion hosts on the network were actively promoting Trump’s rhetoric) radicalizing propaganda that ultimately leads to a violent attack on the Capitol should be considered grounds for prosecution.

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