Well, I’ll get an iPad. Eventually. Not this year, but maybe next, when the hard drive gets bigger and the price drops and I start doing all my work in coffee shops. If nothing else, it seems to be the e-reader that might tip me into e-reader territory, not that I’ve been waiting for one. But, you know, I like to keep up. And if the iPad and other tablet devices throw a lifeline to newspapers, then I’ll feel obligated.

You have to be careful, though. I sometimes call my iPod my musical id, because when I started buying music online, I flocked to the shameful hit singles I’d been turning up on the radio all these years, but only when I was alone in the car. Songs I was too cool to like, or songs that were the one decent track made by Disappointing Artist X. I wouldn’t buy DAX’s album, but 99 cents seemed to be the right price point to buy the one or two Madonna songs I enjoy (“Don’t Tell Me,” “Ray of Light”), or Lou Gramm’s “Midnight Blue.” You have earbuds in all the time anyway, so it’s not like anyone knows you’re a secret Eminem fan.

And then digital music became the only music to buy, you hook the iPod to your stereo now, and so I have an iPod cluttered with crap, and more than 1,000 songs to sort into “earbuds only” playlists, lest one pop up at a dinner party and embarrass me. (I downloaded Chakakas’ “Jungle Fever” after watching “Boogie Nights,” OK? And I regret it! I always fast-forward past it!)

I don’t want the same thing to happen with my e-reader. Yesterday I asked Laura Lippman what’s better for her, as an author — ink on paper or pixels on a screen — and she mentioned the obvious use for Kindles, et al:

I use it primarily for travel and I stock it with B-reads, things I don’t care about owning in hardcover format.

In other words, pretty much the way I used my iPod at first.

I also asked Hank Stuever about this, and he got his own blog post out of it, and you should go read that, too.

It’s the newspaper model I’ll be watching most closely, of course. These are my people, they provide my health insurance, and I have a stake in seeing them survive. Late in Hank’s post, he quotes a lovely paragraph from another essay about newspapers, about the authentic experience of actually holding and touching your authentic experiences. I keep coming back to the 3A Tiffany’s ad, running daily in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, upper right-hand corner of the page since forever, and how much I look forward to seeing it every day. The other day it was the engagement-ring ad, four big Tiffany solitaires tumbled in a row. I always take a minute and appreciate it. I will never own a Tiffany’s solitaire. I don’t particularly want one. But it’s a beautiful photo, and I allow myself a few seconds of mild envy, the way if you were walking past Tiffany’s in New York, you might stop to look in the windows, like Audrey Hepburn.

Over to Facebook. Upper-right-hand corner: If you are a 52-year-old driver from Michigan, your car insurance rates can be as low as $14.98 a month. Click to learn more. Earlier today, it told me 52-year-old women could get a free pair of Uggs for participation. Click to learn more. I’ve asked this question a thousand times, and no one can give me a good answer: If all the college-educated eyeballs are online, if the smartest and the wealthiest people are looking at computer screens all day and most of the night, why are the ads the equivalent of the free Amish fireplace?

Oh, and as to the name of the iPad: Are all you people children? When did Beavis and Butthead join the focus group? Do you snicker when you hear “helicopter pad” or “note pad” or “pad Thai?” Maybe because I was always a tampon girl, and grew up in the era when menstrual pads were called “sanitary napkins,” one of the great euphemisms of its day, I don’t immediately associate the word “pad” with menstruation. Grow up.

I also thought Barry’s speech last night was pretty damn good. I liked how he called out the party of No. Fuck you, Sammy Alito, you smug piece of shit. And great job on that GOP response — find the XY equivalent of Martha Coakley, flank him with a black woman and an Asian man, and have them nod and clap on cue. Way to bring it, you soulless toads. I’m sticking with Barry.

OK, then: Yesterday’s work spilled over into today, so I’d best hop to it.

Posted at 9:47 am in Uncategorized |

71 responses to “iLike.”

  1. Hexdecimal said on January 28, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I”m going to wait for the Maxi iPad. I hear it has wings.

    57 chars

  2. Deborah said on January 28, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I’m with you on Obama’s speech last night. I missed the beginning but thought the 3/4 I saw was excellent, especially the last part. He didn’t mince words when he talked about how disappointed we the citizens are with Washington’s inability to govern.

    I am intrigued by the ipad, but it looks clunky, like an overgrown iphone. Some things shouldn’t be enlarged, the proportions are all off for the scale. But really what does it matter? If it works that’s the important part. Right?

    485 chars

  3. Peter said on January 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I concur on Barry’s speech – heck, I’m a fallen Republican, and I thought it was great that he called out the court and the opposition.

    I may regret saying this, but me likey the iPad. I’m thinking that this might be worth giving to the parents with the poor eyesight and no computer skills.

    295 chars

  4. 4dbirds said on January 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Does anyone else get web-ads featuring bizarre looking people (cavemen, homeless) who need mortgages and insurance?

    Didn’t watch the speech. I’m so down I refuse to be Charlie Brown attempting to kick the football. When they Pass.the.damn.bill I’ll know they’re serious.

    277 chars

  5. Deborah said on January 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Yeah 4dbirds I hear you. I made a pact with myself not to watch the news for awhile and especially not to watch anything political it is so depressing, but I couldn’t resist watching the speech and I’m so glad I did. It made me feel better.

    240 chars

  6. Bob (not Greene) said on January 28, 2010 at 10:16 am


    I, too, missed the beginning of the speech (Plan Commission meeting anyone?), but liked what I heard, especially regarding various higher education-related issues (“No one in America should be broke because they chose to go to college”), getting the hell out if Iraq, calling for the end of don’t-ask-don’t-tell and the fact that he’s not letting the GOP get away with dumping this crappy economy on his shoulders.

    They immediately cut to a smirking John McCain, who clearly mouthed “Blame it on Bush” to the guy next to him. Yeah, John, well, we can blame you too. The eight years before Obama were a complete train wreck, sorry. You can pretend it’s all old Barry’s fault now that he’s had to spend a boatload of money to avert a depression, but you just don’t get a pass.

    I also liked the “That’s how budgeting works” crack. If the GOP is going to make every presidential speech Prime Minister’s Question Time, then they’re going to have to learn how to take return fire.

    That said, despite all the calls for bi-partisanship, I think last night was another clear example that while it’s a nice thought, it ain’t happening.

    1144 chars

  7. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I am the son and grandson of Republicans. Both sets of grandparents loathed FDR and his policies. My folks voted for Ike, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I. My dad even admitted to throwing his ballot to Barry Goldwater back in 1964, while my mom admitted he was scary enough to her that she pulled for LBJ.

    My point is that I come from the kind of family that generally adhered to Republican principles as they were embodied by most of the above names. There’s a lot of GOP in my DNA.

    Today, I look at that party and wonder what in God’s name would ever cause me to support it on a national basis. The hijacking of the GOP by the evangelicals, the social conservatives, the foreign policy interventionists, fringe nuts like Birthers and Tea Partiers (even if those stupid mopes are controlled by big money corporate interests) is complete. I look at the bunch of them in Congress and I want to projectile vomit as they stand squarely in the way of a man elected to clean up the shit they broke over an eight-year period of governing so insane it will appall and amaze historians for decades to come.

    I comfort myself with the knowledge that the GOP is on the wrong side of history and demographics. It is the party of older white men terrified by the onrush of change to their world order. But it is cold comfort right now, when our country faces so many daunting challenges that require hard work and sacrifice. I fear we are wasting time we cannot afford to lose.

    1469 chars

  8. Bob (not Greene) said on January 28, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Oh, and Sam Alito, take your cue from the Joint Chiefs (who sat in stony silence as Obama asked Congress to allow gays to serve in the military), and just sit down and shut up. You want proof that the Supreme Court majority is an activist one? Directly contradicting the president DURING the SOTU address should give you an idea of what this court is all about. They deserved to get called out. Sam, your thin skin is showing.

    426 chars

  9. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

    C’mon, Bob NG, corporations need some love, too. How dare the president pick on poor “Strip Search” Sammy Alito and his merry band of conservative judicial activists.

    166 chars

  10. john c said on January 28, 2010 at 11:11 am

    My gut feeling is the Ipad will save magazines, and may save newspapers. As for the Kindle, I wonder how Laura Lippman will feel about hers a year or so from now, when her income slows to a trickle as a large majority of her books are read by people who’ve downloaded (aka stolen) them off sites that are already out there, offering them for nothing. (The only thing that tells me this might not happen is that, unlike music, most books are bought be folks a little bit older and a little more honorable.)

    505 chars

  11. Sue said on January 28, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I have called and emailed everyone I can think of, including the DNC and the White House, to let them know that a whole buncha voters are figuring out that their votes don’t matter, what with the Supreme Court decision and Nancy Pelosi kind of throwing up her hands and saying “can’t do it, folks, don’t have the votes for health care and not willing to make my fellow reps go on record by scheduling a vote”. A few of the more energized DFH blogs have been telling their readers to call their representatives, so I’m thinking this past week or so our elected officials have been hearing from people other than tea partiers, and might have been somewhat surprised by the hostility of voters they thought they could count on (or should I say dismiss). Disruptive Town-Hallers carrying misspelled signs are not the only ones who’ve had it, and a voter who doesn’t see a reason to show up on election day does as much damage as a voter who votes for the opposition. Repeatedly shooting yourself in the foot means eventually you can’t move forward, and Barry and Co. can’t start soon enough to repair this self-created public-relations disaster.
    Bob (not Greene), I couldn’t bring myself to watch the SOTU last night, what with all the advance word about the freeze on domestic spending. What happened with the direct contradiction?

    1333 chars

  12. nancy said on January 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Laura said more than that one thing about the Kindle, and in general, I think it’s fair to say she’s not a fan, just someone who sees the occasional utility of an e-reading device.

    But I’m sure she’d agree with you, John, as I do, that there has to be a big, BIG pushback on copyright issues and intellectual property in general. One of these days I’m going to read the new Ken Auletta book about Google, if only because, unlike Jeff Jarvis on the same subject, he doesn’t strap on the kneepads for the big G quite so enthusiastically. One of the reviews I read said it does a good job in capturing the essential vibe at Google, which is very much that of the engineer, always asking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could…” and waving their hand at the question of so-called “content.”

    I think the NYT had a story earlier in the week about the question of free downloads of books. Amazon offers a lot of public-domain classics free as an enticement to buy the device, but I can’t be the only one who says, “Should we be training people to expect even more stuff free online?” I’m a content provider. I’m real, real fucking sick of hearing people talk about long tails and multiple income streams and all the rest of it. I don’t like working for nothing. Why is that so wrong?

    1280 chars

  13. Rana said on January 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Yeah, the ads on Facebook are a level of tacky below those inserts you see in the Parade section of the paper, alongside the ads for polyester stretch pants, foam slippers and spray-painted china. I think that they’re gambling on sucking in young adults who don’t have much sense about scams as yet, and clueless newbies who are only on Facebook because the grandkids told them it would be a good idea. I’ve taken great pleasure in marking so many of them “uninteresting” or “irrelevant” – now I mostly just get ads about writing or photography, which, while still tacky and unpersuasive, are less offensive.

    I was disappointed by the speech, and only kept myself interested through most of it by live-tweeting it (and ended up exceeding my twitter limit, something I didn’t know existed). The two things that struck me were how tone-deaf he was when it came to “persuading” the folks on the GOP side of the aisle to stop contributing to voter cynicism and discouragement, and to do the decent thing and to get things done. I put “persuading” in scare quotes, because to me it came off as a teacher scolding children into playing fair, and I could see that this wasn’t going over well. It is also rather naive, in that a lot of those folks got into office by trading off of voter anxiety and cynicism, and it would cost their jobs to change what they’re doing midstream. Sorry, Barry, they don’t like you – or trust you – enough to take that gamble.

    I was also quite furious about his energy policy proposals – and the bipartisan enthusiasm with which they were greeted. More nuclear plants, really? When we haven’t solved the waste disposal problems and security problems of the ones we have? “Clean” coal is anything but, and savages communities and ecosystems in the process of extraction (ditto nuclear fuel ores). And more off-shore drilling? Good gad, man, the solution is not to ramp up resource extraction, but to reduce our need for it! It’s like he’s telling us that we can continue on our merry wasteful way, polluting as we go, just so long as the pollution doesn’t affect the climate. It aggravates me.

    On environmental issues, he is decidedly NOT a progressive. (I won’t go into the lack of interest in things like biodiversity, habitat protection, etc.)

    To me, the speech came off as a lot of advice falling on deaf ears, coupled with a lot of flinging things at the wall to see if they’d stick. I’m no longer impressed, even by the oratory. *grumpy*

    2495 chars

  14. adrianne said on January 28, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Amen, Nancy. Working for nuthin’ ain’t a long-term business model, right? I, too, am enthused about iPad giving a lifeline to newspapers who are floundering around in the brave new world.

    187 chars

  15. Bob (not Greene) said on January 28, 2010 at 11:43 am


    It’s here.

    It’s not exactly Joe Wilson, but he clearly shakes his head and mouths the words “that’s not true” while sitting 10 feet away from the president. Maybe it’s not that big a deal to others, but I just think this is inappropriate and Alito ought to know better. Certainly the rest of his colleagues on the court knew better.

    415 chars

  16. alex said on January 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Does any­one else get web-ads fea­tur­ing bizarre look­ing peo­ple (cave­men, home­less) who need mort­gages and insurance?

    Yes, 4DB, I’ve noted those also. Absolutely grotesque, but eye-catching in an otherwise bland sea of advertising, and even more memorable than any animated stuff I’ve seen.

    I thought last night’s speech was okay, but I doubt it’s going to inspire much confidence in the sheeples in this part of the world. Anyone notice the expressions on John Boehner’s face? What a reprehensible schmuck, even when he isn’t opening his mouth.

    On Edit: Oh, and the rebuttal with the empty partisan platitudes and strategically placed Uncle Tom lady smiling over the guy’s right shoulder struck me as utterly macabre.

    750 chars

  17. James said on January 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Here’s my take on the iPad.

    I want one.

    I want one to read books on, and to browse the web, and to watch tv on. I want one to… read comicbooks on (the true killer app for this device). I want one to take to school, and edit my class plans on the fly, while keeping up with my email.

    Now for my questions:

    1. How do you get the (open standards) epub files onto the machine? if it’s only through the iBook store, that would suck.

    2. Can you read standard PDFs in the iBook app? I don’t think so, but I want to.

    3. How do you transfer files to the iPad? Only through iTunes? I hope not. What about iWork files?

    4. Will they ever get Flash files working on the OS? I don’t want to see broken plugin icons in the middle of my NYTimes page.

    5. How much are books in their store?

    6. Can I draw on it with a stylus? I want to use it as a sketchbook.

    I’m sure I’ll think of more later.

    998 chars

  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Alito, unlike Wilson, was being told personally that he’d done something — allow foreign corporations to spend money on political campaigns — that he knew quite well he hadn’t done. “Not true.” It wasn’t a broad political point, it was what the President said about twenty feet from his face: you did “x.”

    That’s not what the Citizens United decision did, and that’s specifically what Alito reacted to. If you want to say the Supreme Court shouldn’t even sit in the room, OK, but to compare his shocked reaction to Wilson’s juvenile vocal posturing? Nope, “not true.”

    Alex, by Uncle Tom, do you mean the soldier who served in the squad with McDonnell’s daughter in Iraq?

    Anyhow, if I can’t type smoothly on the touch screen, I can’t image shifting off of a laptop. A MacBook Air, maybe, but not the iPad . . . but if I can type easily on it, that’ll be next for me. I like the idea of getting a set price for a print Sunday/weekend slab of actual paper, and the online/iPad/Kindle version the rest of the week. But if the creepy guy’s face for auto insurance follows . . . hmmm.

    1090 chars

  19. beb said on January 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    The thing you can do with a book that you can’t do with a Kindle is loan it out again and again until someone forgets to erturn it. None of the people you’re loaning the book to are people who were planning to buy the book anyway so there’s no loss of money to the writers. But among the people you loan a book out to there might be a few who will like the story enough to buy a copy for themselves or at least will pick up the next book the author writes. This is grassroots advertizing of the best kind. You can’t do that with a kindle because the digital rights management of the files won’t allow you to copy it to someone else’s device. So, while books will help an author marginally around the edges an ebook won’t.

    Making money off of writing on the internet? That’s a fool’s quest, much like making money by writing books. A few lucky duckie can, most writers never earn out their advance. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and most people have got T-bone written all over their face.

    What you, Nancy, say there needs to be pushback on copyright issues, do you mean pushback on traditional meanings of fair use and public domain, or do you mean pushback on the largely secret Anti-Counterfeiting Treaty that’s going to force DRM on everybody for everything? In Egnland one arm of the government wants to have all taxes paid on-line, another branch, working on ACTA wants to permanently barr whole family from the Internet for stealing content. If you want the nation to conduct all business on-line you can’t afford to cut them off. The people pushing copyright law are the publishers who have traditionally had their living by ripping off the artsts they represent. The only copyright reform we’ve seen has been bad for the people.

    Well, it’s time to wipe the foam off my lips and finish lunch….

    1819 chars

  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Beb, I think I discern an area where we have complete agreement! Foam away . . . like Republicans using “small family farms” to argue for Archer-Daniels-Midland interests, I can already hear sock puppets using “save journalists” to actually hose media consumers and cut even more ground out from under media/news organziations to send all the money to Murdoch et alia, while allowing us to read once, link never, and search within ever narrower open databases.

    460 chars

  21. alex said on January 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm


    I was referring to the woman who was smiling and cheering from immediately behind O’Donnell’s right shoulder (or behind and left of O’Donnell as he faced us).

    169 chars

  22. moe99 said on January 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Jeff tmmo, On my lawyers’ blog there is wide agreement that the SCT in Citizen’s United has opened the door to foreign corporations’ financing of political campaigns. Simply saying in the majority decision that they are not addressing that particular question simply means that it can be done unless Congress bars it and they get the chance to specifially rule on the issue. Silence may not betoken consent, ala Thomas More, but it certainly does not signify prohibition. Those on the SCT are presumably smart enough to understand this. Which is why Alito’s wagging head and tongue were so stupid on myriad levels.

    617 chars

  23. Scout said on January 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Even knowing that Nancy will deem it juvenile I cannot resist a bit of a smile for this:

    “So, it finally got around to that time of the month for the product’s launch, and it turns out that the iPad can’t handle periodicals. I guess the folks who had hoped it could cope with their 24-hour news cycle are especially disappointed,” – a commenter at Gawker.

    I thought Barry did a good job last night. Even if I don’t agree with every single policy proposal (clean coal comes to mind) he is still buzz lightyears ahead of the Affirmative Action LegacyPrez that drunk drove this country into a ditch. Now I want him to take the bull by the horns, twist some wimpy Dem arms and Get. The. Damn. Bill. Passed. He might finally get it that when Republicans cry for bi-partisanship it only goes in one direction.

    812 chars

  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 28, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    That’s McDonnell’s secretary of administration. But wouldn’t she be an Aunt Thomasina?

    If a lawyer’s blog disagrees with me and Alito, then who am I to resist? It’s just all sideshow stuff: will they pass some building blocks of health care reform or not? And I hope the GOP side gets it that “no-only” isn’t enough, and that the Dems don’t see passing anything short of the whole tamale as giving a win to the right, which I think their spin machine is more than capable of refuting. (Before someone objects, I say that in the full certainty that both sides of the aisle have well-oiled, thoroughly tuned-up spin machines.)

    But I have to add this –

    730 chars

  25. Sue said on January 28, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Glen Greenwald is obviously not a nonpartisan voice, but he seems to make a good point here:
    “There’s a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It’s vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court’s pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations.”

    663 chars

  26. Lex said on January 28, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    And great job on that GOP response — find the XY equivalent of Martha Coakley, flank him with a black woman and an Asian man, and have them nod and clap on cue IN THE HALL WHERE JEFFERSON DAVIS WAS INAUGURATED.

    Fixed. 🙂

    230 chars

  27. Jen said on January 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I like the iPad, but I am going to be waiting to see what people say about it as they start using it before I decide if I’m going to sink $500 into one. But I really, really want one. So pretty!

    In light of the iPad and other technology stuff coming out lately, my sister (a technical librarian) and I (the newspaper reporter) have been discussing where all of this technology stuff is going. Her job is very tech-based and has a lot to do with keeping the library on the cutting edge of technology, and I have pushed myself into as much technology/Web-based stuff at our newspaper as I can (I have the only blog that gets updated, for example, and I babysit on our online forums). I’m hoping that we jump on the iPad/Kindle/ereader thing soon, though I’ll admit I don’t know anybody with an ereader around these here parts yet.

    My sister, by the way, is unimpressed by the iPad, but she hates Apple products so I’ll take her criticism with a grain of salt.

    965 chars

  28. moe99 said on January 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    You may find this offensive, Jeff tmmo, but I think the point is well taken. From Digby on Alito:

    “I think that any justice who thinks that unregulated free speech for corporations is sacred while the speech of some kid with a sign that says “bong hits 4 Jesus” can be suppressed has already amply embarrassed himself.”

    323 chars

  29. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Wasn’t Alito also the only justice who refused to shake hands with Obama last year because Obama, wisely, opposed his appointment to SCOTUS? You’d think a man with a lifetime job and a green light to tilt the playing field in favor of the conservative movement to which he owes so much would have somewhat thicker skin.

    At the very least, I hope we can finally put an end to the constant whining from the right about “activist judges.” Our Supreme Court is now officially an activist conservative court with a predilection to find in favor of the most powerful entities. And God help us, they are going to be a force for the next several decades, a little gift from W. and his pals that keeps on giving.

    706 chars

  30. Sue said on January 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Roe v. Wade, here we come.

    26 chars

  31. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I would not be overly surprised, Sue, not at all. Perhaps some of the legal eagles at NN.C can enlighten us as to whether there are cases in lower courts regarding this issue that might eventually get to SCOTUS.

    211 chars

  32. Sue said on January 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I wasn’t just speculating, Jeff Borden, it’s expected, and pretty much being openly discussed:

    195 chars

  33. moe99 said on January 28, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    two things. Jeffrey Toobin’s take on Alito and the personal antipathy he feels for Obama:

    And this discussion why Roe v. Wade is next up for reversal by the Supremes comes from a con law professor I know who is also an ACLU Board member and confirms Theodore Kettle in your newsmax cite, Sue:

    There’s a fair amount of commentary on the web already about the prospects for foreign money working its way into (and in the case of China, dominating) U.S. politics. As you note, Kennedy noted but ducked the question.

    Roe v. Wade may be next to go if a case offers the opportunity to overrule it. See this passage from Roberts’ concurring opinion explaining when stare decisis loses its force:

    Stare decisis is instead a “principle of policy.” Helvering , supra , at 119. When considering whether to reexamine a prior erroneous holding, we must balance the importance of having constitutional questions decided against the importance of having them decided right . As Justice Jackson explained, this requires a “sober appraisal of the disadvantages of the innovation as well as those of the questioned case, a weighing of practical effects of one against the other.” Jackson, Decisional Law and Stare Decisis , 30 A. B. A. J. 334 (1944).
    In conducting this balancing, we must keep in mind that stare decisis is not an end in itself. It is instead “the means by which we ensure that the law will not merely change erratically, but will develop in a principled and intelligible fashion.” Vasquez v. Hillery , 474 U. S. 254, 265 (1986) . Its greatest purpose is to serve a constitutional ideal—the rule of law. It follows that in the unusual circumstance when fidelity to any particular precedent does more to damage this constitutional ideal than to advance it, we must be more willing to depart from that precedent.

    Thus, for example, if the precedent under consideration itself departed from the Court’s jurisprudence, returning to the “ ‘intrinsically sounder’ doctrine established in prior cases” may “better serv[e] the values of stare decisis than would following [the] more recently decided case inconsistent with the decisions that came before it.” Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. PeÅ„a , 515 U. S. 200, 231 (1995) ; see also Helvering , supra , at 119; Randall , supra , at 274 ( Stevens , J., dissenting). Abrogating the errant precedent, rather than reaffirming or extending it, might better preserve the law’s coherence and curtail the precedent’s disruptive effects.

    Likewise, if adherence to a precedent actually impedes the stable and orderly adjudication of future cases, its stare decisis effect is also diminished. This can happen in a number of circumstances, such as when the precedent’s validity is so hotly contested that it cannot reliably function as a basis for decision in future cases, when its rationale threatens to upend our settled jurisprudence in related areas of law, and when the precedent’s underlying reasoning has become so discredited that the Court cannot keep the precedent alive without jury-rigging new and different justifications to shore up the original mistake. See, e.g., Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U. S. ___, ___ (2009) (slip op., at 10); Montejo v. Louisiana, 556 U. S. ___, ___ (2009) (slip op., at 13) ( stare decisis does not control when adherence to the prior decision requires “fundamentally revising its theoretical basis”).

    3539 chars

  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Why would I find it offensive? I just disagree . . . but I might disagree with restricting “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”, too, if I knew anything about the case. I’ll look it up between 4 and 6, since I’m just stuck here waiting for some folks ’til then.

    I’m mainly just offended by suicide humor, and not offended, but put off by an over-reliance on poop jokes. (But if you’ve never seen the “Employee Training Video” on SpongeBob — now that’s funny.)

    Roe v. Wade is dead law walking — Blackmun based it on science that’s moved on, so the precedent is no longer terribly useful. It doesn’t take a conservative jihad to see Roe as outdated and unhelpful. What to replace it with, that’s the question. And most on the left would rather keep Roe rather than grapple directly with developing a new legal framework. But it’s gonna happen, sooner rather than later.

    861 chars

  35. brian stouder said on January 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Roe v. Wade, here we come

    But see, THAT’s the beautful part of this particular “conservative” con job. The Republicans have reaped who-knows-how-many millions of votes from the single-issue “pro-life” folks across the country for the past 40 years; they’ve won control of both houses of congress and repeatedly they’ve won the White House….and yet, Roe v Wade is the one issue that they (the elected officials) absolutely will not touch.

    If they (the elected officials) were sincere, they’d at least propose and try to pass a law flatly banning abortion, period. They could put their money and careers where their big fat mouths are – and challenge the US Supreme Court to strike it down. And if the Supreme Court DID strike such a law down, then they (the congress) could pass another, and challenge the Court again.

    But not only they haven’t passed anything, they haven’t even tried. I think they know that such a law would be an unworkable train wreck (who goes to jail? Mom? Dad? The doctors and nurses?), and that such a law would abort their golden-egg laying public policy goose (the true-believer pro-life zealots).

    Nope – as horrible (and activist and commie and evil) as the flying-monkies of the Right think that the Democratic congressional majority and president is, I think they not-so-secretly admire them.

    Because no matter how halting and tentative one might think that President Obama and the Democratic House and Senate has been, with regard to Health Care Reform and the rest – compared to the all-hat-and-no-cattle Republicans, the Democrats look like real-live legislators.

    And if the SCOTUS strikes down Roe v Wade, I think the effect will be a late-term abortion of the Republican party (and probably an ammendment to the Constitution, after the purge)

    1805 chars

  36. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Many, maybe even most of us in the general pro-life side do NOT want all abortion outlawed, or as you say, that might have gone up for a vote by now. That’s not where most of us are.

    182 chars

  37. Dexter said on January 28, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    “Fuck you, Sammy Alito, you smug piece of shit.”

    Ah yes! The only thing I would do here is “insert the name of your personal smug piece of shit”—and my choice is clear as an azure sky, and that name is Eric Cantor of Virginia. Worthless fucking piece of shit. Get a gander at and take a listen to this prick:

    391 chars

  38. brian stouder said on January 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Many, maybe even most of us in the gen­eral pro-life side do NOT want all abor­tion out­lawed, or as you say, that might have gone up for a vote by now. That’s not where most of us are.

    Fair enough, Jeff. But if the Court strikes down Roe V. Wade, then indeed, depending on what state you live in, abortion might be completely legal, or completely banned (including in cases of rape), or somewhere in between.

    And in that case, Justice Allito would (no doubt) shake his head “no” when somone has the gall to say HIS actions lead to the death of a 17 year old in a South Carolina alley, etc – even though they did

    630 chars

  39. Bill said on January 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    comment deleted

    15 chars

  40. alex said on January 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Dwight trying out new noms de plume again?

    On Edit: Would that be noms des plumes? Two years of college French and I still don’t know.

    138 chars

  41. coozledad said on January 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Plus de Fours.

    14 chars

  42. jcburns said on January 28, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    James to answer your question yes you can read PDFs on the iPad…in fact you can read Excel spreadsheets, word documents all manner of things, just as you can on the iPhone or on your very own IPod touch.

    205 chars

  43. jcburns said on January 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    By the way I just dictated that comment and this one using the Dragon dictation app on my iPhone…you guessed it.

    114 chars

  44. Sue said on January 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Orly’s back!

    126 chars

  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    So, other than size, what really is the diff btw iPod Touch and an iPad?

    72 chars

  46. Jeff Borden said on January 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I’ll believe conservatives are serious about ending abortions when they address the logical way to do that, which is to reduce unwanted pregnancies with contraception. It continues to boggle me that those who yell the loudest about the scourge of abortion are often those who yell the loudest against any kind of comprehensive sex education and a wider availability of contraceptive devices.

    Instead, we continue to pour millions down the drain on abstinence education and other tomfooleries.

    I believe it was on the Tom Hartman show, but I heard somewhere in the past few days how many hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised by conservative politicians from anti-abortion forces. Maybe Republicans aren’t all that aggressive in trying to end abortion because it is a cash cow. (And, yes, the Democrats also pocket plenty from pro-choice groups, so it’s a fund-raising bonanza for everyone.)

    907 chars

  47. Deborah said on January 28, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    RIP JD Salinger

    15 chars

  48. alex said on January 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm


    What floors me about the abortion debate is that the pro-life movement hardly seems to recognize its own successes. The practice has become so stigmatized that few doctors are willing to risk their lives or reputations performing the procedure and almost no woman would be willing to admit having undergone the procedure or that she might be considering it. In many places in this country it is simply impossible to obtain an abortion if you don’t possess extraordinary means. Elective abortion is becoming increasingly uncommon. And yet this victory isn’t good enough for them.

    The stigmatization of abortion has resulted in the widespread destigmatization of teen pregnancy and single motherhood, which of course have risen dramatically in this atmosphere, but the moralists don’t like this either. They are unwilling to accept that you cannot have it both ways. Unfortunately they’re the public face and voice of the movement and that’s why they do not have my sympathy or support to any extent.

    I think it would be sad if Roe were overturned because I fear that late-term abortions—the ones that are the most villified and yet almost without exception medically necessary—could become the casualty of cowardly politicians if this becomes a voter’s issue on the local or state level. I frankly don’t think these people have any more business making medical decisions for others than they do making marital decisions for me, and I am certain that they’re exactly the same people.

    Why isn’t there a group of middle-grounders on abortion talking some sense? Is it really about genuine concern for the sanctity of life? Or is it sanctimonious window dressing for concern about the erosion of white male authority?

    1746 chars

  49. Joe Kobiela said on January 28, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Sitting here watching O’Rielly disecting the presidents speech. Could some of you take the time and record or watch the repeat at 11pm and tell me what you all think of at least his talking points. I think it was fair and balanced. I’m on the road to Lexington tomorrow but will be able to check in from time to time. The pres say’s we should all get along so do me this favor and tell me where I’m wrong.
    Pilot Joe

    421 chars

  50. 4dbirds said on January 28, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Joe K.,

    Since I didn’t watch the speech, I can’t give you a fair analysis of my take.

    88 chars

  51. coozledad said on January 28, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Alex: When in doubt, consider it sanctimonious window dressing. Always a safe bet. Don’t forget the kneejerk misogynist cant brought on by the spectre of the vagina as an insatiably carnivorous free agent.
    I even got a fundraising letter from McCain bewailing encroaching feminism. The lot of them must spend an inordinate amount of time trying to protect their balls.

    369 chars

  52. joodyb said on January 28, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    here you go, nance. best i could do:

    120 chars

  53. nancy said on January 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Alex, they won’t be happy until abortion is thoroughly criminalized, not a single embryonic stem cell lives in a lab anywhere in the U.S., any whack-job Catholic or Mormon pharmacist is permitted to snatch the birth-control prescription from any teenager’s hand — if, in fact, birth control is still legal — and at least one abortion-doctor killer is pardoned and has his own talk show.

    That’s what people on the choice side don’t understand: There IS no compromise for these folks. There IS no middle ground.

    514 chars

  54. brian stouder said on January 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Joe – I’ll give Billo 5 minutes, and report back to you.

    And as a bonus, I promise to be serious and fair-minded.

    116 chars

  55. moe99 said on January 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Nancy, welcome to the fanatic side of my Catholic family. My mother and 2 sisters are all anti abortion, can’t support Democrats because of this. My middle sister was in DC last Friday protesting Roe v. Wade. And she’s a veterinarian! I just don’t respond when they bring it up. What would be the use? There is no middle ground.

    336 chars

  56. beb said on January 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    What Nancy said at 53.

    22 chars

  57. Kirk said on January 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    And remember: If you can in any way justify abortion, you’re “ANTI-LIFE”!!!

    75 chars

  58. brian stouder said on January 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    OK Joe, I watched Bill’s ‘talking points’, and if we grade on a curve I’ll give him an A+, because he’s the one major right-wing guy I’ve heard who really did make an effort to give some credit where it’s due.

    I disagree with his criticism of the Health Care Reform effort, especially because he specifically pointed to Medicare as an example of why we don’t need Health Care reform, which is exactly backward (money will be saved over the long term, versus leaving things as they are); plus Bill said we should let the insurance companies compete over state-lines (apparently he doesn’t realize that that reform is already IN the Health Care Reform bill)

    So at the end of his altogether reasonable ‘Talking Points’, up popped a picture of Frank Luntz, and I knew it was time to pull the “eject” lever. I had seen a tease showing some blonde news-babe attacking the president for daring to criticize the United States Supreme Court, and knew that the road ahead was all downhill.

    By the way, and in all honesty, in response to McCain’s irritation at President Obama’s regular reminders about the mess he inherited from President Bush – let me just say that in 1980 I voted for my very first president (Reagan) – and he trashed Jimmy Carter and the mess he inherited again and again and again. Eight years later, George Herbert Walker Bush was STILL (and successfully)running against Jimmy Carter.

    By way of saying, Fox News and their info-babes need to quit pouting about the plain fact that the mess we’re in (and the much bigger one that we averted) came from President Bush and the formerly Republican congress.

    Further, in bad economic times, government spending (and consequently government debt) beats the absolute hell out of government austerity (and consequently depression/collapse/hunger/unrest), as we learned (or should have learned) in 1931

    1884 chars

  59. Little Bird said on January 29, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Ever notice how many anti-abortionists are pro-death penalty? Just a thought.

    78 chars

  60. Denice B. said on January 29, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Reminds me of the old Kotex tampon ads that said you can go swimming and horseback riding while wearing one. I asked my mom to buy them so I could go horseback riding!! I was 8. And innocent….(old school joke)

    211 chars

  61. Rana said on January 29, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Well, Little Bird, what both positions have in common is a belief that the government has a right to make life or death decision regarding the bodies of its citizens, regardless of what those citizens themselves might want. This is especially the case when the citizens in question are deemed immoral, as prisoners and women seeking to end pregnancies are framed in this scenario. These folks are also comfortable with torturing terror suspects, for the same reasons.

    469 chars

  62. Mosef said on January 29, 2010 at 2:33 am

    I support neither the death penalty nor abortion, but it is easy to see why one could support the death penalty but not abortion. First, there is the matter of scale. Abortion is genocide – 45 million human beings killed in the United States from 1973 to 2005. For the same time period, there were less than 1,100 public executions. Yes, all life is precious, etc, but obviously, abortion is in a totally different death league. Second, and while it is no tremendous insight, abortion is always and forever the taking of an innocent life. Yes, innocent people have been executed, but such cases represent a very small fraction. Is the death penalty wrong? Yes, in my opinion, but it doesn’t even begin to match the evil that is abortion. It isn’t hypocrisy that leads to the divided opinion – just an clear-eyed assessment that all wrongs are not equal and deserving of the same outrage and remediation. Please don’t go all postal on me dear readers – I have heard it all before.

    What makes me crazy about the abortion war is the failure to speak the truth about what is really happening. I can’t respect people who do not have the courage to state their position honestly. The science and technology of today mades it very, very clear that it is a human being that is killed as a result of the abortion. Now one could argue that there is a continuium of human life and that not all stages of human life are equally deserving of the state’s protection of life and liberty. That early forms of life are inferior to fully autonomous persons and are thus not entitled to protection under the law. Make your case, but advance it on the premise that one human being has the right to terminate another human life. State that fact and then argue why.

    Last, whoever said that the explosion in teenage pregnancy is due to abortion stigma is simply talking out of their behind, with absolutely no emperical research to support that finding. (This would be impossible to find since the two are not causally related.)

    2027 chars

  63. beb said on January 29, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Mosef wrte; “Abor­tion is geno­cide — 45 mil­lion human beings killed in the United States from 1973 to 2005.”

    Earth to Mosef, the population of the USA today is higher than it was in 1973. How can abortion be genocide when the population keeps growing? When genocide struck Thailand or Rwanda whole communities disappeared. Nothing like that is happening in the US. You are, like so many abortion apologists – out of your fricking mind.

    449 chars

  64. alex said on January 29, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Well, Mosef, my evidence about abortion stigma and teen pregnancy may be anecdotal but I’m sure that there is empirical support as well. There certainly has been empirical support for the idea that abstinence-only education — another bugaboo of the pro-life movement — has been achieving the unintended consequence of fostering rather than preventing teen pregnancy.

    I know firsthand of women who had children they didn’t want because of the stigma. I also know people who wanted their daughters to undergo abortions but because the girls had already announced their pregnancies to the world it was too late — they did not want to face the opprobrium of their communities or see their daughters subjected to it. I’m not talking out of my ass, as you say. I’m speaking from the heart. Your side has essentially won on the issue of abortion on demand. Be happy, dammit.

    877 chars

  65. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 29, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Every anti-abortion person I know is anti-death penalty, including myself. And as for no middle ground — the extremes in both pro-life & pro-choice camps, like Sunni & Shi’a extremists, make it difficult for moderates to be heard clearly over the banging of pots and clashing of cymbals, but that doesn’t mean we’re not out here. Check polls, where large numbers want less abortion, and do not support a constitutional “Human Life” amendment. You can call us inconsistent if you like, but . . .

    505 chars

  66. Sue said on January 29, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Mosef, anyone who is in favor of making this ‘genocide’ illegal must be in favor of very strong social programs to cover the expected aftermath. Those 45 million lives must be valued as strongly after they are born as when they are in the womb. If the State has the right to dictate that a child must be born, it must also do what is necessary to make sure that child has adequate health care, nutrition and shelter until such time as that child’s parent(s) can cover it, even if that time doesn’t come. And if the argument against that is the whole “personal responsibility” thing, then free prophylactic birth control and lots of education in school and out on how and why to use it should be at the top of the to-do list.
    I am more interested in this apparent disconnect than the death penalty comparison.

    812 chars

  67. Jeff Borden said on January 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

    There’s always something of a “through the lookingglass” element to so much of our debates on abortion.

    Take the sanctimonious sack of shit Andre Brauer, who is seeking to replace another sanctimonious sack of shit, Mark Sanford, as governor of our most laughable state (sorry, Texas), South Carolina. Mr. Brauer, of course, is vehemently pro-life, which is fine, but a few days ago he equated government assistance to the poor with feeding stray animals. This in a state where the unemployment rate is near 12% and almost 60% of kids receive subsidized school lunches.

    How can you square being pro-life with such a cold-hearted calculation that says, in essence, go away and starve?

    689 chars

  68. Sue said on January 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

    You know who could have knocked us all flat on this? Ashley Morris, he whose sister turned out to be his mother; he who came from a less-than-stellar family and became a college professor. Wonder what f-bomb-laden comment he would make on this?

    246 chars

  69. coozledad said on January 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

    “The death penalty doesn’t even begin to match the evil that is abortion” This is their argument in a nutshell. It’s fine to kill sentient beings. They’re messy and they take up valuable parking space at the mall. You can even whoop and cheer as your elected secretive farter turns a significant portion of the population of Iraq (and quite a few US military personnel)into a hill of smoking meat, or applies electrodes to a few genitals, or pretend-drowns a few Arabs. And embryo Jesus will approve. Embryo Jesus is also fond of pro-lifers who spray them witch-churches with automatic weapons, or kill folks at family planning clinics. Don’t cross embryo Jesus. He’s a killa.
    But once that baby is born, it’s a worthless drag on taxpayin’ Americans and it’s that damn baby’s fault for taking out an adjustable rate mortgage and siphoning off our hard earned wealth with food stamps or government mandated healthcare.

    918 chars

  70. 4dbirds said on January 29, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I had an abortion and thank goodness it was legal and safe. Afterward since I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t have a dependant, I was eligible to join the army and from that service, I gained an education and valuable work experience that has made me a productive member of society ever since. Also, by having a clean, safe abortion my fertility was intact and I was able to have my children when I wanted them. I have never regretted that decision, I don’t have any remorse, guilt or shame and I am not scarred mentally or physically from it.

    541 chars

  71. brettvk said on January 31, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Mosef — I will give you the honesty you claim to crave. I don’t concur with the assertion that a blastocyst, embryo or fetus is a human being, but even if that were true, the rights of the female adult human over her own body supersedes any right to life that the fetal human has. Yes, even if she carelessly or stupidly gets pregnant, even if, according to you or anyone else, she can afford to go through the pregnancy and raise the child afterwards. A person’s right over their own body is absolute; you cannot compel another human being to sacrifice so much as a pint of blood to support another human’s life. I have no obligation to donate any part of my body for any length of time, even if my refusal costs another person their life. Neither the state nor other people can with justice command a female human to donate her body as life support to another human for nine months against her will. No, fetal children are not a special form of humans that have more rights than adult humans.

    995 chars