7 things @ 9 o’clock (11.26)

1. Today is the feast day of hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748). The man died 265 years ago and millions of people are still singing his songs. He wrote “Joy to the World,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and this one — which was also Gandhi’s favorite Christian hymn:

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2. Erin Matson took her almost-5-month-old daughter with her for a lobby day in support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. That bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace. Without that legal protection, they may be forced to choose between keeping their pregnancy and keeping their paycheck — without which they may be unable to keep their pregnancy.

Gobble tov.

I’ve noted before that this bill is supported by the National Women’s Law Center and by just about every feminist or pro-choice group you’ve ever heard of. Oddly it is not supported by any of the “pro-life” groups. Or perhaps not so oddly. It’s tricky trying to interpret a silence, but theirs is a conspicuously loud silence on this issue. It’s a kind of silent scream, you might say. And what it says about the real priorities of those groups is not pretty.

3.‘Cause it’s weird … and wonderful.” That’s Pastor Phil Wyman explaining why he loves his adopted hometown of Salem, Mass. Benjamin Corey of Formerly Fundie has a long interview with Wyman that’s a fascinating read. I don’t know anything about Wyman or his church, but it seems like if any of us showed up there — evangelical, Pagan, atheist, liberal, right-wing, whatever — he’d cheerfully offer us a cup of cocoa on a cold day. I suspect his theology is, in many ways, very different from my own (“We do dream interpretation,” he says, nonchalantly), but I bet the cocoa is pretty good.

4. Thanks, Alex. I’ll take Religious Tribalism for $400.

“20 years ago, Eric Metaxas knew practically every born again believer in Manhattan. ‘It was like a spiritual ghost town,’ the cultural commentator, thought leader and author recalled.”

What is preening subcultural myopia?

“You’ve won $400!”

5. Speaking of Jeopardy! champions … the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has scored a hit, a palpable hit, against payday lenders. Sleazy Cash America will be paying $19 million in penalties — that’s a $5 million fine, and $14 million in refunds to the people they ripped off. (I’m really, really liking the CFPB, but it needs a better name or nickname.)

6. Julian Borger on “How Iran nuclear deal was clinched to Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire‘”:

When the negotiations inevitably spilled into the weekend, the Intercontinental was double-booked. On one wing of the first floor were the committee rooms set aside for the talks, but the rest was hired out for parties.

On the Saturday night a charity ball was held, the organisers of which decorated the hallway with a full-size hot-air balloon gondola, and hired a country-folk band who became more raucous as the evening wore on. As midnight passed and it was genuinely unclear whether the high-level political capital being spent would pay off or collapse under its own weight, the focus of the diplomats poring over heavy-water reactor designs was constantly assaulted by the strains of “Loch Lomond” and “Ring of Fire.”

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7. Regarding the agreement itself, here are some good summaries and evaluations:

Fred Kaplan: “The agreement makes it impossible for the Iranians to make any further progress toward making a nuclear weapon in the next six months — and, if the talks break down after that, and the Iranians decide at that point to start building a nuclear arsenal, it will take them much longer to do so.”

Juan Cole: “The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled.”

Gershom Gorenberg: “The Syria agreement was the warm-up act for the interim accord with Iran. … No one can yet be sure that the interim deal will lead to a full agreement to keep Iran from getting a bomb. But the immediate steps promise an improvement in Israeli security.”

Congress sides with predatory lenders vs. military families
Sunday WTF?
Bradley Cooper's amazing performance as a sociopath killer
This day is not imagination's child
  • AnonaMiss

    “Conservative” != “Republican”. The former-Republicans I know and like who jumped ship are still conservative, they just think the Republican party is making shitty decisions and/or sacrificing the country at the altar of their political ambitions. See for example the Republicans picking Sarah Palin as veep, which is when my mom jumped ship.

    I see no conflict between being nice and being a conservative. I see a significant conflict between being nice and being a Republican, as they have long since relinquished the high ground they once held wrt fiscal conservatism. That leaves social conservatism and the politics of resentment, neither of which are compatible IMO with being a nice person.

  • AnonaMiss

    Or perhaps it’s a principled stand that government in general, and the
    federal government in particular, has a specific and limited role. And
    perhaps I oppose government expanding beyond what I consider to be its
    proper role.

    The principles of any stand rest upon an ethical framework, and the usual source of ethics is the reduction of harm. I extrapolated that the particular places you draw the limits of government are those which you believe will cause the least harm in the long run.

    If this is incorrect I apologize for the assumption, and also retract my assertion that you are nice and/or ‘not unkind’. I don’t think it’s possible to be either while causing suffering for any reason other than to avert a greater amount of suffering.

  • Lori

    You do realize that most of us aren’t privileging suffering above all else, right? We’re privileging alleviating suffering over rigid ideology, but that isn’t at all the same thing.

    You constructed a nifty little guy who’s mostly straw and then set it on fire with what appears to be concentrated self-righteousness and for the life of me I can’t figure out why.

  • AnonaMiss

    Exactly. It’s silly, and it flies in the face of history, but it’s not malicious.

  • J_Enigma32

    I dunno. Given libertarians are, by in large, a white men with privilege problems who believe in the whole “bootstraps, blood, and sweat” bullshit that capitalists tend to preach from the Pulpit of Hayek, defeating the pregnant worker’s act sounds exactly like something a libertarian would espouse.

    See, that’s the government stepping in and telling businesses how to run their stuff. And just like the government stepping in and telling businesses they need reasonable safety features, they need to pay their employees, and they should probably not exposure their employes to anything hazardous or toxic and then lie to them about its real nature, causing their employes to get sick and die, the government stepping in and telling businesses they need to protect pregnant women is something they’d oppose to.

    Once you adopt an inhuman philosophy with no care for the outcome of people, which actively promotes the death of disabled and poor people, why would they change simply because it deals with pregnancy and women?

    If anything, they’ll argue it was the woman’s choice to get pregnant and people shouldn’t have to accommodate her for that. You know, the Just World Fallacy is so much fun; after all, she could’ve had an abortion or used birth control (because there’s no opposition to that at all on the Right, and in Libertarian land, everyone can afford those things. You know their sex slaves will be able to, though).

  • J_Enigma32

    Like I said over on Daylight Atheism, I feel “anti-human” is a good descriptor, also.

  • Lori

    Are you claiming that you see limited government as an end unto itself? Because if not then you’re not taking a principled stand that government in general, and the federal government in particular, has a specific and limited role, you’re just not owning your preferred ends. If you do see limited government as ends rather than means you’re still not taking a principled stand because your position is essentially arbitrary.

  • Lorehead

    Policies based on the idea that there’s no legitimate role for the government except when that would be to your advantage really don’t work and are immoral. Even without going into brazen inconsistencies such as opposing government interference with hiring when it comes to anti-discrimination laws, but demanding government interference with the right of employers to hire Mexican citizens, there are many textbook cases where even the most orthodox classical economist has to concede that the unregulated free market does not work.

    For example, will the free market correctly price the paint factory I want to build next door to your house and the amount of money I’ll save by buying noisier trucks to drive past your front yard day and night? Or is this an example of a negative externality, which the market will always misprice because it affects a person not party to the transaction?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, in UK slang, “tosser” means someting pejorative. :P

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I wonder what the Iron Chancellor would have to say about the US political system today.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of how well some of the the states are doing exchanges, here’s that article I couldn’t find before

    How Willful Ignorance Doomed HealthCare.gov

  • aunursa

    My time has been occupied during the past seven hours, and thus I have been unable to reply to the comments in response to my comment…

    Or perhaps it’s a principled stand that government in general, and the federal government in particular, has a specific and limited role. And perhaps I oppose government expanding beyond what I consider to be its proper role.

    I find the discussion regarding the role of government in relieving suffering and setting spending priorities (e.g. funding education, providing food to the hungry) to be fascinating.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, Canadians in particular have decided that the government’s role in serving its citizens includes making sure they don’t go broke for getting sick or getting into an accident that has harmed them.

    Also, tangential:

    U.S. Supreme Court to hear Obamacare contraception case

    In both instances, the Christian families that own the companies say that
    insuring some forms of contraception violates their religious beliefs.

    I can’t wait till a Jehovah’s Witness tries on the “I don’t want to pay for heath insurance for my employees because they cover blood transfusions.”

  • aunursa

    Your argument appears to be that if the current role of the federal government includes providing health care for the elderly, poor, and military veterans, then that role must include an expansion to federal regulation of health care/ insurance of the entire society. I don’t share that “in for a penny, in for a pound” view of government.

  • aunursa

    I’m confident that the federal government will offer the JW example (or something similar) in its argument before the Court. It will be interesting to see how the Court rules.

  • atalex

    “And perhaps I oppose government expanding beyond what I consider to be its proper role.” IOW, doing things that benefit people other than yourself. Or to use the pithier explanation of Libertarianism: I’ve got mine. F*** you.

  • Guest

    You are assuming that I support programs that would benefit me and that I oppose programs that would not benefit me.
    Your assumption is invalid if I support (based on principle) certain government programs that would not benefit me … and/or if I oppose (based on principle) certain programs that would benefit me.

  • atalex

    A more interesting, if horrific, scenario might be a fundamentalist CEO who doesn’t think women should work outside the home and who cites that religious objection to discriminate against women in the workplace. If those beliefs are imputed to the corporation and then afforded 1st Amendment protections, I really don’t see how Title VII can survive.

  • atalex

    I’m pleased to see that you correctly understand the situation. That implies that you’re not ignorant at least…

  • aunursa

    That was me ^^

  • Lori

    The thing is, from Iran’s perspective we did get things. Things that actually matter to Iran.

    If there’s one thing that I think many, many people don’t get about international relations it’s that IR plays out on a field of national interests. There’s a tendency to see everything the other guy does strictly in relation to our goals (for nearly all values of “other guy” and “us”) and to ignore their internal politics. In spite of the way it sometimes looks, the other guy is basically never doing or failing to do something solely to piss us off.

    In the US this failure to grasp is especially likely to happen WRT Iran. Thanks largely to the hostage crisis there’s a large, loud contingent here who simply can’t see anything from Iran’s POV. They look at this deal and think because we didn’t get anything they consider valuable that Iran played Kerry and Obama for chumps.

  • wendy

    Ever since Reagan signed EMTLA in 1986 — we’ve been covering emergency health care and end-of-life care for everybody. We also pay disability for those who have no other way to take care of themselves. The point of expanding the ranks of the insured is to do it CHEAPER.

    People who get their insulin on a regular basis, don’t go into diabetic comas. People who get their blood pressure meds and regular monitoring, are less likely to have debilitating strokes or heart attacks. Middle-aged people who get care before the cancer spreads, or before some other condition becomes critical, don’t leave minor children in state care. If poor people get subsidies to buy insurance that will pay their medical bills, hospitals don’t have to beg the state for money to stay open or to keep their anesthesia machines in best repair. If everyone can go to the doctor when they’re sick, epidemics will be caught and stopped quicker. Etc.

    I’m not as empathetic as I sometimes seem, my cost-benefit analysis just happens on a long enough timescale to see that a lot of liberal policies are *also* big winners on a strictly $$ basis. If insurance can’t refuse you for your diabetic spouse and asthmatic kid, you’re more likely to start your own business instead of sticking with the secure low-level corporate gig that doesn’t make best use of your abilities. If we spend the money to give great public school educations to every single child, *especially* in the poorest neighborhoods, that turns out to be a lot cheaper than if 2% of them end up in prison 20 years later (at $50k/year each). Right wingers have such kneejerk antipathy to anything that smacks of kumbaya, they don’t look close enough to see there’s purely economic value to a lot of policy proposals that liberals are supporting for bleeding-heart reasons.

  • wendy

    But we did get something really valuable — all their 20% uranium is to be diluted to 5%. Right now, while we’re scheduling further meetings.

    So even if talks collapse completely, and they go right back to enriching as much as they can as quick as they can, we’ve already just added at least a year to how long it would take them to build a bomb if that’s what they’re really planning. That’s a helpful thing.

    From a liberal POV (although conservatives mostly don’t believe this part), we’ve also strengthened the Green hand and weakened the hardliners in Iran’s internal politics. That’ll pay big dividends in years to come.

  • Lorehead

    “Ach, you Americans. Always such sturm und drang. When my legislature couldn’t pass a budget, I simply deemed last year’s to have been renewed.”

  • Lori

    I haven’t seen any indication that the folks pitching a fit about the agreement see the uranium dilution as valuable. We do, but AFAICT they don’t.

  • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

    Yes, that’s precisely what I meant by “comedic effect” ;)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ever since Reagan signed EMTLA in 1986

    And even then, hospitals find every way they can to adhere to the letter of that law while going against its spirit. Yes, it is illegal to turn anyone away for lack of ability to render payment for treatment, but that:

    1. Hasn’t stopped hospitals from doing it to people they know have no legal recourse, and
    2. Hasn’t stopped hospitals from finding every way they can to give indigents the bum’s rush.

    Single-payer would solve this and so many other problems, but blah people don’t deserve it so of course, nobody will enact it for some time. -_-

    EDIT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Medical_Treatment_and_Active_Labor_Act

    for anyone interested in looking up the law etc.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And if Iran goes ahead and does the reduction in U-235 enrichment, then they prove they do have legitimate dual use and do want to generate electricity with it instead of fig-leafing it to build a bomb.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Some news agencies have had a little fun with it, mockingly pointing out that people have been predicting “Iran will ge the bomb in the next five years” since about the 1980s.

  • Lorehead

    But then your ideal of the role of government is not very principled at all. You’re supporting government health care for some people but not others. Or at best, you’re putting your true anti-Veterans’ Administration principles on the back burner out of political expediency, which is a strange thing for some guy posting anonymously on the Internet to worry about.

    But let’s say you actually do. Limited government is not an ethical reason to immiserate tens of millions of people. That supposed principle just cannot get off the ground. AnonaMiss tried to throw you a lifeline there by suggesting that maybe it’s a second-order goal that you believe will achieve some legitimate moral purpose, but you’re denying that and saying, no, you really do believe that the government can regulate the freedom of Mexicans to move across the border and look for work, or my right to build a 24-hour casino next to your home, or all use of language, art or music forever under copyright law, or all technology invented in the last twenty years, or air travel because of terrorism. Or drinking and driving, or the sale of tobacco to minors, or heroin, or vaccinations, or the water supply. But, for some insane reason, not public health.

  • Lori

    I wish the mainstream press would say that in a serious way and not just mockingly. Obviously the complainers deserve to be mocked for it, but there’s also a serious point there that people need to understand. I think that’s more important than mocking, especially for a news agency. They should leave the snark to us. We’ve totally got it covered.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, it certainly puts the “sky is falling in OMG IRAN” into perspective. It’s like the people who keep saying “Medicare is going to go broke” and have been doing so since the 1970s.

  • Lori

    They can also get more help with the electricity generation. That’s probably significantly more valuable to the regime WRT to internal politics than the bomb would be. National prestige and fear-mongering about Israel’s nuclear capacity are all well and good, but Israel has had the bomb for a long time and what people really want is consistent electricity at a price that allows them to keep the lights on. Iran sees nuclear power as the way to achieve that without reducing revenue by altering it’s oil export profile.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    ” [S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

  • Loki1001

    “‘Being a Christian in New York City is tougher than being a Christian in most other cities in the U.S.,’ explained Metaxas, of the social implications of discipleship. ‘It costs us more here, and so we dispense of the nonessentials (denominational traditions, religious language, etc.). ‘

    I would be fascinated to know what these hardships are, and how they stack up to growing up gay and autistic in the ’90s in a small, highly evangelical town in Ohio like I did.

  • addicted4444

    Ironically, Obamacare IS conservative policy. It’s not as good as the liberal healthcare policy (single payer) but it is much better than the status quo.

    Conservatism can lead to good results (for example,I’d argue dropping the top marginal tax rate from 90% to something more reasonable was good policy) but Republicans today (and by extension those who support them, and propagate their lies for them) are not interested in good policy, whether conservative or liberal. They are, as McConnell made clear in Obama’s first term, solely interested in making Obama a one term President. That was their stated primary intention from the day he was elected (of course, since they failed, now they are focusing on undoing any of his achievements).

    How anyone who supports this group of politicians is not considered evil is beyond me.

  • Matri

    Living as far away from the U.S. as you can get on this planet, I’ve never had a “proper” Thanksgiving feast. At best, I’ve only had roast turkey with chestnut stuffing. Love the stuffing.

    The fare that is always depicted looks really scrumptious. Apart from the turkey, are there any other Thanksgiving staples?

  • Loki1001

    Of course, the thing is, in 1999 Iran was teetering on revolution. Everyone knew it, from American-Iranians, history professors, the poor street kids, all the way up to the president and the Supreme Leader. Then the US dropped tropes on both of its boarders…

  • Carstonio

    The federal government’s role includes being an avenue of redress when states refuse to live up to their responsibilities to citizens under the 10th and 14th amendments. On the state level, it’s too easy for regional elites to solidify their power at the expense of, say, ethnic or religious minorities.

  • Carstonio

    The motives of people like Aunursa aren’t really the issue. “Kind libertarianism” has the same effect as the unkind version – perpetuating and exacerbating inequalities of wealth and power. Both depend on the assumption of an inherently just world.

    You’re exactly right about the kind version viewing people as spoiled children who don’t appreciate long-term reward. Libertarianism’s version of a net loss of suffering is very similar to the variety of Christianity spawned by slavery, which emphasizes the next world at the expense of this one. The net loss is illusory. Deregulation doesn’t lead to a consumer-policed economy. It instead leads to concentration of economic and political power in a very few hands, with the vast majority of citizens having no real rights under the law. It would turn the entire nation into a company town.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Money isn’t too tight in the Grimble household at the moment, so I’ve flung a little of it your way.

  • http://myeckblog.blogspot.com/ myeck waters

    If only we’d dropped Doge jpgs instead.

  • Alex Harman

    Good point — it’s essentially the Heritage Foundation-authored, Newt Gingrich-backed alternative to the failed Clinton plan from 1994. Of course, it was probably never more than a stalking horse even then — if the Democrats had adopted it then, the Gingrich Gang would likely have switched positions and voted against it once it looked like it might actually pass, since it’s against their principles to force healthy rich people into the same insurance pool at the same premium as poor people with pre-existing conditions, or to use rich taxpayers’ money to subsidize poor taxpayers’ healthcare. (Before some lying right-wing idiot objects to that characterization, no, there is no such thing as a resident of this country who isn’t a taxpayer — every single one of us pays sales taxes, everyone who owns or rents a home pays property taxes, either in their own right or as part of the price of their rent, and everyone who works pays payroll taxes.)

  • R Vogel

    It was there for the Pharmacist when they had to do paperwork or something. Crazy, right? Also in the lovely ‘right to work’ state of PA, you are not required to give breaks or lunches, and R-A pharmacy (name withheld to protect the very very guilty) took full advantage of that.

  • Alex Harman

    It would be interesting to see what Iran might be today if those damned fools John and Allen Dulles hadn’t instigated the Shah’s coup against Mosaddegh.

  • tricksterson

    Yes, but if the pharmacist isn’t using it at the time, what’s the problem? For that matter would a second stool bankrupt them? This is just going out of their way to be assholes.

  • Oswald Carnes

    I just checked the breaks and lunches rule for PA and damn if you’re not right! That’s fucked up. I’ve worked in many different states and even the most conservative ones have lunch and break requirements.

  • AnonaMiss

    Society is not a “stop the hurting” machine. Society is a set of rules that, in part, operates to reduce suffering for the society at large. It also serves to as a structured set of rules, a psychologically unifying touchstone, a political unity, a structure for business ventures, a structure for guaranteeing certain investments, protecting it’s citizens and so on.

    I find that the rest of this paragraph contradicts its first sentence. I consider that a group of people without e.g. infrastructure, business ventures, protecting its citizens, etc. would suffer significantly more than one with one.