A friend sent me this map yesterday, a data illustration of the nation’s population — half of it, anyway, residing in 39 metro areas. Half. I think it’s safe to say none of these areas would be considered Real America ™ as defined by Sarah Palin, and maybe that’s, in a nutshell, the problem with the Republican party, even though many of these metro areas are solidly red. It’s more the idea the country has of itself, with its SUVs that never see so much as a gravel road and its field hand breakfasts for people who haven’t beheld a field since the last time they drove to Cleveland.
We are city people, and have been for a good long while. But we like to think we have one foot in the soil. It’s one reason I’m grateful for Coozledad’s presence on this blog, and his regular dispatches from the soil of his vegetarian farm and petting zoo; he knows things about the way we used to live that the rest of us have conveniently forgotten.
So how is everybody’s week going? Mine is slogging along. Someone sent me this today; what is it about Mitch Albom that even his charity is self-serving? He just got back from the Philippines. Book-touring, but with heart:
“I’m donating 40 boats up there, but more importantly than that, we’re gonna try to reopen some libraries and put books from myself and some of my author friends from America like Stephen King, Amy Tan and John Grisham… My hope is that maybe we can draw some attention to the situation (in Tacloban),” Albom said.
Why don’t people laugh in this little man’s face when he says stuff like that?
Dahlia Lithwick says the contraception mandate is likely toast.
That’s all I have tonight. Enjoy Thursday.
Dexter said on March 27, 2014 at 1:40 am
The satellite photos of the USA under darkness shows large lighted areas over the eastern seaboard from Boston to D.C., smaller over Cleveland metro, Detroit metro, Chicagoland, Minneapolis, smaller over Madison…then a huge bright area centered over formerly tiny Williston, North Dakota, illuminated brightly by the true boom town experience, and from all the bright constantly burning exhaust pipes burning off all the methane that can’t be captured because of the sheer volume created by the fracking. Lots of oil up there, and lots of RV camps have sprung up, acres and acres, all lit up for their satellite photo.
I just learned tonight that during the American-Vietnam war of the 60’s and 70s, half of the South Vietnamese population resided in the Mekong Delta. NatGeo showed a two-hour documentary of the worst fighting in the Delta in 1967,focussing for a while on May 15, 1967, a real heller over there, and the same day I was boarding a plane with my classmates for our senior trip to NYC & D.C. It seems like a lifetime ago,that trip, but watching that docu last night seemed so much closer in time.
Deborah said on March 27, 2014 at 4:28 am
Errol Morris on Rumsfeld, part 2: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/the-certainty-of-donald-rumsfeld-part-2/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1&
Alan Stamm said on March 27, 2014 at 7:03 am
“We’re gonna try . . .”
. . . to talk street, ’cause the little man is down wit dat.
Alan Stamm said on March 27, 2014 at 7:03 am
“We’re gonna try . . .”
. . . to talk street, ’cause the little man is down wit dat.
alex said on March 27, 2014 at 7:43 am
My metro area is Sarah Palin’s Real America fer sure. When she was here at a Walmart book-signing a couple of years ago, a reporter interviewed a guy standing in line who said “I’ve never read a book before but I’m gonna read this one!”
Contrast this with Chicago, where O.J. Simpson had a book signing somewhere on Michigan Avenue. A woman interviewed in the line there said she was buying his deny-all book because she wanted to “see if he really did it.”
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 27, 2014 at 7:45 am
Am I missing the map in my browser, or is it just a data map that you’re talking about, Nancy? It read as if I should be seeing it… just wondered.
nancy said on March 27, 2014 at 8:15 am
Link added. Can you tell how tired I was last night?
beb said on March 27, 2014 at 8:32 am
Does Stephen King *really* know Mitch Albom? Would he admit to it if asked?
The Supreme Court has reached Red Queen/Through the Looking Glass territory where verdicts are made first and then comes the trial. I grew up in John Birch country so I saw a lot of Impeach Earl Warren bumper sticker in my time but these four Justices – Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas are worse about making up rules out of thin air than anything Justice Warren ever did.
alex said on March 27, 2014 at 8:43 am
beb, here’s something that should come as no surprise:
The opiate of the masses, now marketed as the magic potion to nullify the constitution and re-segregate society.
Suzanne said on March 27, 2014 at 9:17 am
I’m not really a slippery slope kinda gal, but this Hobby Lobby thing does scare me because of where it might end. Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover the morning after pill because they BELIEVE it causes abortion although, from what I’ve read, that is not true in 99.9% of cases. So if they win, can your crackpot business owner employer get an exemption for insurance funding of mammograms because he/she BELIEVES they turn women into alien beings?
What’s also being lost here, I believe, is the notion that insurance companies would much rather pay for the birth control than fund the pregnancy, which is probably at the heart of the contraception mandate in the first place.
brian stouder said on March 27, 2014 at 10:03 am
Hereabouts, we have many Amish businesses, involving home construction and wood working. Shouldn’t they also get these exemptions from the laws, based on their religious beliefs? For example, an Amish furniture manufacturing facility recently took the arm clean off of a 14 year old female worker there…but why should OSHA workplace safety regulations apply to them? And, might I not deserve a religious exemption from paying Social Security tax? Hell, why should I pay taxes that go to the world’s largest military establishment? Afterall, every so often they drop automated munitions (via unmanned aerial vehicles) onto unsuspecting folks at wedding celebrations and so on, and may or may not kill the person they wanted to kill; along with many other people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time…..and I object!
And, our local and state governments are always building roads and bridges, and every damned day people drive to booby bars and other places, just to commit sins. Why should I pay for that? Really, secular government has no right to exist at all, right? Whereas a theocracy would solve all our problems…as long as we all believe the same things!
Bitter Scribe said on March 27, 2014 at 10:03 am
That Lithwick article is depressing, but it’s still worth reading for the way she compares individual justices to various methods of contraception. (No, really. Go read it. I won’t give away any of the jokes here—OK, one: Guess which justice lines up with “abstinence”?)
brian stouder said on March 27, 2014 at 10:27 am
Bitter – agreed.
Ms Lithwick is a better person than I am.
I’d have been unable to restrain myself from comparing at least one of the male justices to a condom; a thing which does its job unreliably at best, and which makes the whole process less pleasant, and which ends up a disgusting mess
Bitter Scribe said on March 27, 2014 at 10:31 am
brian – The only reason I wouldn’t have used that metaphor is because I wouldn’t have been clever enough to think it up.
Jeff Borden said on March 27, 2014 at 10:41 am
This SCOTUS is going to be a problem for a long time. John Roberts is several years younger than me and looks to have a nice career of fluffing corporations and snuffing the arguments of the little people.
coozledad said on March 27, 2014 at 12:08 pm
O Lord my God, When I’m in need of oil paints,
or sewing notions for a rainy day;
perish the thought, that I might flush some zygotes,
while I peruse the airplane kits display.
Then sings my soul, I love Hobby Lobby
No fertile eggs
Squirt down their legs.
I’ll go there first, then to my Chick-Fil-A
For some fried meat I know ain’t gay
When through the yarns, and fabric bolts I wander,
And hear the Christian muzak in the air.
I hit the floor and roll in my saliva
Cause I know no-one’s going to murder babbies there.
Sherri said on March 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm
So, the Hobby Lobby owners have a sincere religious belief that abortion is wrong; I’m fine with that. They also have a belief (I’m not sure I’d call it sincere or religious) that certain contraceptive methods are equivalent to abortion; this belief contradicts scientific fact. They’re asking the Court to preference their beliefs over the legal right of their employees to have health insurance that covers the contraception methods they are opposed to.
It would legal for Hobby Lobby to simply not provide health insurance to employees, but the owners of Hobby Lobby claim that they have a sincere religious belief to provide health insurance, but only health insurance that covers things they approve of.
Scientology is a recognized religion in the US. Scientologists are opposed to psychiatry. By the same argument that the Hobby Lobby owners are promoting, a Scientologist who owns a company could claim that the legal right of their employees to have mental health coverage in their insurance should be trumped by the owner’s sincere religious belief that psychiatry is evil.
I’m sure that the Court would find a way to completely contradict themselves in ruling for the Hobby Lobby owners but against the Scientologists.
Deborah said on March 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm
Joe Kobiela said on March 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm
Good argument Sherri, except in the case of hobby lobby you are talking a human life (in my opinion)being eliminated. If you work for hobby lobby, wouldn’t you know going in what the owners believed? And if you are opposed to the owners way of doing things, why would you want to work there in the first place?
Bitter Scribe said on March 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm
Joe epitomizes the conservative approach to labor relations: “If you don’t like it, get another job.”
Joe Kobiela said on March 27, 2014 at 1:51 pm
Well when I worked at Dana I knew going in what the job entailed, I didn’t bitch about the heat, weight, monotony, smell, and sore muscle. That was the job, it paid well, I always told the people that thought I was over payed to put in a application and get paid what I did, never got any takers.
Bob (not Greene) said on March 27, 2014 at 1:57 pm
Jesus, Joe, what kind of country do you live in? Sounds like a country full of complete assholes.
Bob (not Greene) said on March 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm
Yeah, but Joe, did the people at Dana tell you how to live your life after your shift was over?
coozledad said on March 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm
Forget it, Bob. It’s Goobertown.
Sue said on March 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm
I would like to know how many people actually qualify for company insurance at Hobby Lobby. Is it like WalMart or McDonald’s where most people can’t get insurance anyway and would qualify for subsidies on the open marketplace, thus getting some of that sweet, sweet Uncle Sugar in part courtesy of the taxes paid by the people who own Hobby Lobby? Or have they made the commitment to their employees for coverage but just want this teensy-weensy little bit of power over their healthcare?
Yup, feeling sarcastic today.
And please, Hobby Lobby, explain why contraception that you ‘sincerely believe’ works by causing abortions is unacceptable in the US but doing business with companies in a country that mandates actual abortions is A-OK. Certainly there must be a better and more Christian place to source the cheap crap that overflows your shelves.
mark said on March 27, 2014 at 2:34 pm
The Lithwick piece was great, though I missed the part where she predicts a win for Hobby lobby.
Predicting outcomes from argument is difficult, at best. Most here should take heart in the fact that your champions consumed most of the time for questioning- if they have points to score, they generally do. This line of argument, from Kagan, should carry the day:
“Kagan’s not buying it: “Your interpretation of [RFRA] would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard” and allow employer after employer to voice religious objections to sex discrimination laws and minimum wage laws and family leave and child labor laws. All of which would be subject to what she describes as this “unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard.” Employers will, under that standard, virtually all win.”
And this touches upon an issue I raised the other day:
“Sotomayor presses him on how “a corporation can exercise religion.” She asks, “Who determines the corporate religion? The majority of shareholders? The corporate officers? Is it 51 percent?””
The justices generally do know how they will vote before oral argument; they often use the argument to test theories supportive of their preliminary decisions. I’m still betting HL loses. I think a lot of the conservatives’ questions were designed for the benefit of the Catholic Church, which has a much clearer argument.
One interesting argument not covered by the briefs I read was from Roberts when he inquired whether the government can demonstrate a compelling interest in the contraception mandate given the very large number of exemptons already granted and the hahazard manner in which they were doled out. That issue shouldn’t help HL though, as compelling interest (rather than rational basis)for the challenged law is only required when the standard of review is “strict scrutiny” which would only be appropriate if HL can assert “religious rights.”
These are very smart people raising very good arguments. It’s a shame if you can’t/won’t see that because of a preference to just slander the people with whom you disagree.
Sherri said on March 27, 2014 at 3:06 pm
Joe, one problem with putting this on the workers is that Hobby Lobby did provide health insurance which covered the same forms of contraception that the owners decided were against their religious principles once they were legally required to cover.
And if a blastocyst is a human life, Joe, there’s a holocaust that goes on every month. A blastocyst, which is what we’re talking about when we talk about what happens at implantation, is a undifferentiated collection of around 100-200 cells. In the normal course of events, blastocysts don’t always implant, and are shed along with the endometrial lining during menses. A blastocyst is only a possible human life, if everything continues to work out.
Maybe when women who agree with you that a blastocyst is a human life start taking progesterone shots every time they have sex to thicken the endometrial lining and improve the odds of a blastocyst implanting, then I’ll start believing that they actually believe a blastocyst is a human life. After all, they’d do anything to save the fetus, right?
If we’re going to start down the path
beb said on March 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm
Any law that extends personhood to before birth runs into a an untenable situation. It puts two persons in charge of the one body. If the woman must defer to the fetus she has been reduced to the position of a slave, or more likely that of a machine, an incubator for the fetus. One has to rule in this case for the woman. It was her body before the conception and it will be her body afterwards. If she can’t make decisions about her body during the conception she is not really in charge of herself.
Considering the indifference showered on infants and children after they are born by so-called Christians I’m not sure they have a right to talk about the care of children before they’re born.
Joe Kobiela said on March 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm
No I didn’t, but then again, I would not have asked them to pay for the results of my actions. I played rugby, my insurance covered it, if there would have been a clause saying the company insurance was void if hurt playing I would not have cried about it I would have payed for myself.
A lot of major league athletes have clauses in there contracts voiding them if they ski, fly, or some thing of that nature.
Heather said on March 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm
So only women have to pay for the results of having sex (something that most adults do, BTW)? Do you see the problem with that?
Bob (not Greene) said on March 27, 2014 at 4:53 pm
Joe, you’re not getting it.
There’s no “but.” Your company didn’t tell you what to do on your own time. Period. Because it had no right to. In the case of professional athletes, those clauses are insurance policies for the teams because they are paying their employees multi-million dollar contracts, which are (in baseball and basketball) guaranteed by their union bargaining agreements. You didn’t have a guaranteed multi-million dollar, multi-year deal at Dana, did you Joe? If you would have broken your neck playing rugby, your company-provided health insurance probably would have picked up a good deal of the initial trauma care. But because you were a cheap cog in the Dana wheel, they would have replaced you and set you adrift after your long-term disability lapsed. And because you were paralyzed and no longer able to work, you would’ve gone on Medicare or Medicaid to pay your sky-high medical bills, you socialist.
alex said on March 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm
Maybe this lady can appeal to the SCOTUS and get a religious exemption:
I’m sure Scalia and Thomas would find her sympathetic.
Joe Kobiela said on March 27, 2014 at 5:43 pm
But remember Bob, I paid into Medicare, correct?
And please, cool it with the name calling, I don’t call you names if we disagree, give me the same respect.
Jolene said on March 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm
You may have paid into Medicare, Joe, but if you had sustained a disabling injury at an early age, you’d be collecting much more than you paid in. In fact, most ordinary beneficiaries (i.e., those who join after age 65) collect more than they paid in.
David C. said on March 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm
Health insurance isn’t a gift from your employer, it’s part of your pay and your fundie Christian employer should have no more say in what pills you take than your ultra orthodox Jewish employer should have in your eating a delicious pulled pork sandwich.
LAMary said on March 27, 2014 at 6:15 pm
Your work benefits pay for lots of things that are consequences or your own actions. My health insurance paid for two expensive bike accidents my son had. Even more people have health insurance that pays for blood pressure medicine, type 2 diabetes medicine, cholesterol medicine.
I work for a Catholic hospital company so I knew going in what the religious beliefs were, but when I worked for a printing supply company I had no idea what the religious beliefs of company were. Seems like a ridiculous question. What are the religious beliefs of Microsoft? How about Burger King? Time Warner?
ROGirl said on March 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm
So Donald Rumsfeld plays semantic word games with reporters over whether he made statements about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It’s the type of thing clever high school boys like to debate in the cafeteria because they like to win arguments with hapless victims they can goad into silly debates, except that the debate was serious, involving the country’s decision about going to war. It wasn’t just some smart-ass teenagers in the lunchroom scoring points off unsuspecting adversaries. It was the Secretary of Defense sparring with reporters, and they had to prepare for it like they had to outsmart him to get the truth. Didn’t work, no matter how hard they tried.
brian stouder said on March 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm
So the breaking news is that Governor Christie’s hand-picked, publicly (and extravagantly!) paid law-firm’s investigation of the bridge scandal has turned up that Bridget Kelly (who has the prefect name, for when this becomes a movie) was a slut and a woman scorned!
So yet again, it’s all the damned woman’s fault!
Who’d a thunk it, eh?
(If Christie’s chance at the brass ring was completely dead before, it is now well and truly dead!)
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 27, 2014 at 7:40 pm
Health insurance shouldn’t be tied to employment.
This thread makes a variety of arguments to further that point.
Medicare Part E(verybody)!
Sue said on March 27, 2014 at 7:47 pm
Today’s discussion has been like the NN of old, full of good and **energetic** comments, finished up and tied with a bow by MMJeff.
Good job, everyone.
brian stouder said on March 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm
Sue – think of the song Cooz would have conjured by now, if he was Hoosier and read this story –
CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his vehicle when he was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving and other charges, according to the arrest report. The cash was in Irsay’s wallet, metal briefcase and two laundry bags. The briefcase and bags, which were on the front passenger-side floor, also contained bottles of pills of various colors, including orange, green and white ones, the police report states. Irsay, 54, denied being drunk when he was arrested in suburban Carmel on March 16, although the billionaire was so disoriented that officers made him sit on the hood of a patrol car to keep him from falling, the report said. The arresting officer said he “believed Irsay to be intoxicated on a substance other than alcohol,” according to the report.
The mug shot alone is worth the click, just to see a billionaire at his nadir.
(I’m thinkin’ Cooz would channel a Johnny Cash tune for Irsay…maybe Ring of Fire)
LAMary said on March 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm
JeffTMMO, Single payer works for me but for now I have to deal with what I’ve got.
Ac said on March 27, 2014 at 10:16 pm
I don’t have health insurance and pay generic prices for bop.
It’s reasonable and my choice.
Many responders saying that an employer has no right to dictate their after- hours activity. Couldn’t agree more. But this case isn’t about that. Any employee is free to choose an abortifact contraceptive instead of a funded alternative. The employer is not dictating the off- hours choices a person makes.
The example of David C should be applied in reverse. Just as the orthodox employer cannot dictate whether an employee eats a pulled pork sandwich, so should the employee not expect that the orthodox employer will pay the dinner tab.
Deborah said on March 27, 2014 at 10:44 pm
Ac, what is bop?
brian stouder said on March 27, 2014 at 10:49 pm
AC – I’d agree with you,if indeed Hobby Lobby had to “pay the tab”.
But that corporation – like any other – may simply opt out and pay their taxes, and that’s it.
I think Hobby Lobby is arguing that they want to keep their cake, and eat it, too
alex said on March 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm
Just as the orthodox employer cannot dictate whether an employee eats a pulled pork sandwich, so should the employee not expect that the orthodox employer will pay the dinner tab.
Health benefits aren’t a dinner tab. They’re compensation, just like cash in your pocket, and an employer doesn’t have any business dictating how they’re spent. Hobby Lobby can’t stop you from blowing your paycheck on hookers or porn or ganj or gifting it to NARAL or NOW or the HRCF. (Hobby Lobby didn’t even give a rat’s a-hole what its insurance carrier gave its employees until a black president endorsed what it was giving already.) If Hobby Lobby wants that sort of monomaniacal control they’re in the wrong business. I hear the Westboro Baptist Church is ripe for a takeover. Hobby Lobby’s principals would make the perfect stewards.