Morning Links

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
  • Ladies and gentlemen, a pro-Gadaffi op-ed. I’m sure the Koch brothers are behind this.
  • This made me happy.
  • The federal government has 82—yes, eighty-two—separate programs to improve teacher quality.
  • New York state assemblyman wants to require licensing for bicycles, looks forward to the day when bike lanes are monitored by cameras to catch “scofflaws.” Excellent idea. We should probably issue tags to pedestrians, too.
  • Another moronic attempt to ban sharia law in . . . hey, Tennessee! Nice to see leaders from other faiths speak out in opposition, though.

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72 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Aresen | 

    Ladies and gentlemen, a pro-Gadaffi op-ed. I’m sure the Koch brothers are behind this.

    Of course the Koch brothers are behind


  2. #2 |  Jeff | 

    Not the Koch brothers. Maybe the Timecube guy.

  3. #3 |  Bob | 

    No way. The Timecube guy could never put out that much text at one time without falling asleep.

    Really! He’s got some kind of disorder… like Narcolepsy or something. He’ll yabber away about Timecube… then suddenly fall asleep for five minutes.

    It’s hilarious.

    I suppose I should feel bad for laughing at the guy… but it’s so funny!

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    woopsy, looks like someone slipped a mouse click.

  5. #5 |  Jay | 

    Whenever I see a bike rider, I wait for him to violate a traffic law. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. I’m regularly almost hit by them when I’m on foot, and I regularly almost hit them when they run red lights in front of my car, cruise through stop signs, ride the wrong way on one-way streets, etc.

    As a group, they are utterly lawless. Maybe requiring a license to ride on public roads isn’t such a bad idea — we could at least force them to take a test.

  6. #6 |  freedomfan | 

    The story about the New York state assemblyman who wants license plates for bikes and cameras in bike lanes had me reeling. I haven’t lived in NYC, but I have to imagine the the cycling situation there is much like it is in Chicago or other large cities: It’s mostly a functional situation with little or no formal regulation of cyclists, interrupted occasionally by a small minority of psychos. Like pretty much every other area of life. But this nanny statesman, Assemblyman DenDekker, looks at the situation and sees – surprise! – an opportunity for more government.

    BTW, theagitator has recently had some links showing how more law enforcement involvement with cyclists turns out. This guy seems pretty happy.

    BTW, I do appreciate that gothamist gives us reason to hope. :-)

  7. #7 |  Nipplemancer | 

    Assemblyman Dendekker is a pallet of Summer’s Eve. The TOBAL mentality of these people boggles my mind. I normally don’t wish violence on anyone, but that dude needs to be bitchsmacked every day at regular intervals through out the day.
    Radley is so cool he’s on there twice at #2 (Reason) and #14 (The Agitator)

  8. #8 |  MM | 

    I was unaware that people had assumed that the terribly insane site at was a Koch brothers emp…

    Oh, wait, you’re playing passhole-agresshole. Nevermind. Nobody ever beats that shit.

  9. #9 |  MM | 

    [Random link to Oh, whatever. Let’s say NAMBLA supporting a a goat that rapes Mel Gibson’s enemies]. I’m sure the Koch brothers are behind this.

  10. #10 |  KBCraig | 

    “….there is no truth in Pravda.” ;)

  11. #11 |  Trish | 

    Imagine being a teacher on the receiving end of visits form all 82 agencies and the minions attempting to justify their jobs. This is why they (the bloated toads from the DOE) are scapegoating the troops on the ground.

  12. #12 |  André |

    “Private construction of housing here has virtually ground to a halt because of fears of government expropriation. The government, hobbled by inefficiency, has built little housing of its own for the poor.”

    Amazing that the NYT would acknowledge how the free market helps the poor (or more specifically, how Chávez is screwing the poor) without saying “free healthcare!” in the next sentence.

  13. #13 |  Righhhhhttt... | 

    The bicycle licensing scheme is a bad idea, but I will say that one of the my pet peeves is fellow bike commuters who completely ignore traffic rules. I know this is anecdotal so not evidence, but I swear the majority of bike commuters on my route just completely ignore stops and other traffic laws/courtesies. It’s no wonder we get a bad name with a lot of drivers.

  14. #14 |  Marty | 

    don’t give up on the teachers! I have a great idea for a program that could help them connect with their students and really make a difference…

  15. #15 |  Mike T | 

    New York state assemblyman wants to require licensing for bicycles, looks forward to the day when bike lanes are monitored by cameras to catch “scofflaws.”

    According to TFA, he wants to do this because they break the law a lot and it’s too hard to identify them.

    This could be resolved by the police simply “having better things to do” than…

    1) Show up to the scene when a bicyclist gets hit by a car while riding on the wrong side of the road.

    2) Show up when a bicyclist gets beat up after they illegally riding on the sidewalks and injure someone.

  16. #16 |  Mike T | 

    **Just think what would happen if the police said to the legislature: that law is unconstitutional and we’re not enforcing it and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  17. #17 |  freedomfan | 

    Kudos to Radley for making that list of 40 most-visited libertarian sites. Of course, not that there is any secret about the libertarian bent of our favorite Agitator, but if libertarian-ness becomes his his best-known characteristic (e.g. more people think “…libertarian, Radley Balko…” rather than “…police militarization expert, Radley Balko…” or “…law-enforcement accountability journalist, Radley Balko…”) then that will be an excuse for people who don’t like libertarians to blow him off. That’s particularly a problem for mainstream media outlets, where most of them assume that libertarian means either “right-wing extremist” or “dope-smoking hippy” and dismiss libertarian viewpoints as “fringe”.

    BTW, I was kind of surprised that I have never even been to most of the top 10 sites on that list, and hadn’t even heard of 2 of the top 5…

  18. #18 |  Mattocracy | 

    I know it shouldn’t amaze me to see this, but watching the russians engage in the same kind of bullshit political spin that our media engages in is amazing.

  19. #19 |  buzz | 

    MM, see the joke is that anything you are against is eventually the result of the koch brothers……..oh wait. You already knew that. Decided to go the douche route anyway. Ok, carry on.

    So if only we could get 83 programs for teachers education would be fixed in this country. Get on that, Obama.

  20. #20 |  J sub D | 

    The federal government has 82—yes, eighty-two—separate programs to improve teacher quality.

    And they all work!

  21. #21 |  Juice | 

    Of course the Koch brothers are behind

    Well, their daddy did work for Stalin.

  22. #22 |  Alex | 

    *Balls hands into fists and looks skyward.*


    (Almost certainly beaten to this by Jon Stewart.)

  23. #23 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Many of those programs “share similar goals,” according to the report, yet “there is no governmentwide strategy to minimize fragmentation, overlap, or duplication among these many programs.”

    Remember, I’m (we’re) crazy for suggesting the Dept of Edu be shit canned. Who would be there to coordinate all the education stuff?!!

  24. #24 |  SJE | 

    There ARE douchebag cyclists, and there are also d-bag drivers, pedestrians etc. I’d appreciate enforcing the laws against cyclists and drivers.

    However, some of the “lawless” behavior by cyclists is merely adaption to the situation, which can be very dangerous, because the cops don’t enforce the laws against drivers. Its like a man who lives in a high crime neighborhood who buys a gun (at least before Heller) even tho possession of such a gun is illegal: he figures that the cops aren’t going to protect him, and so he does what is necessary.

  25. #25 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Can anyone shed light on how a feminine hygiene product came to be such a popular pejorative? Is it just the sound? Because a colonic would seem a more robust descriptive noun.

    Not off topic (related to MM’s posts above), but I can think of a dozen bodily functions and products that seem better.

  26. #26 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    82 federal program. 82 FEDERAL PROGRAMS!!!!!! No WONDER the teaching in this country is so goddamn bad!

  27. #27 |  Joshgeek | 

    From the gilligan link:
    “last seen in my back yard, srsly not giving a shit”

    Holy hell, I lol’d.

  28. #28 |  Pete | 

    I want to get elected to the Tennessee State House so I can introduce a bill banning the ten commandments.

  29. #29 |  Elliot | 

    On the Sharia thing, the article as written is a jumble of disconnected, incomplete factoids.
    When I read about some radical Islamic group taking control in a country or region and imposing Sharia law, typically the imposition brings with it things like mandatory burqas and other terrible suppression of the rights of women (like keeping them from going to school, driving a car, or leaving the house without a man), along with murder of apostates and homosexuals, etc..
    Yet, the opponents of the TN law argue that it is something else. I guess that would depend upon the wording of the proposed law. If the aim is to ensure the rights of women and ban the murder of apostates and homosexuals, that would be one thing, though those things are already codified. So, I suspect the intent of the law is basically symbolic.
    Reminds me of the word “jihad”.
    Religion sure has a way of bringing out the stupid in people.

  30. #30 |  Elliot | 

    Just thought of something: maybe gay rights groups should give mock praise to the proponents of the anti-Sharia law in TN, thanking them for fighting a system which discriminates against them. Might get the fundamentalist Christians panicked enough to drop it.
    Just a thought.

  31. #31 |  zoltan | 

    Can anyone shed light on how a feminine hygiene product came to be such a popular pejorative?

    Feminine hygiene products cause imbalances in the pH of the vagina, usually resulting at least in a yeast infection, which are stinky and unpleasant, just like politicians.

  32. #32 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    How about this…*optional* registration for those who would like
    some sort of paper trail on their 2000 dollar grande vitesse 2 wheeler?
    So you could track it down through some VIN number.
    Mandatory rules on bikes, etc, just rub people the wrong way.
    I’ve heard of cops harassing kids to the point of tears over bike helmets and it just doesn’t seem right.

  33. #33 |  Andrew S. | 

    Elliot: The bill itself is terrible, and is so blatantly unconstitutional I’m actually surprised the state’s Attorney General isn’t telling the legislature to shut up before they lose massive amounts of money feebly trying to defend it in court.

  34. #34 |  demize! | 

    #25 just go with it. “A pallet of Summers Eve”!

  35. #35 |  Elliot | 

    @Andrew S. (#33): my chief complaint about the article is that it doesn’t make clear what’s in the bill. Like I said, words like “Sharia” and “jihad” mean different things to different people.

    The bill itself looks to be problematic in that it singles out one religion. Also, my impression is that it’s redundant. Racketeering and terrorist conspiracies are already illegal.

    I still like my idea of hyping the protection of gay rights angle (even if this law doesn’t actually do that), to cause a panic amongst the would-be supporters who are devout Christians. Plant the idea here and there with some flamboyant demonstrators mock protesting the opponents of the bill, and popular support will melt away.

  36. #36 |  SJE | 

    Yizmo: many states and counties offer bike registration, and there is a national database, if you want to pay. The problem is that the cops do not take bike theft seriously. If you view a bike as a cheap toy, that might be appropriate. When you are talking about $1500 upwards, its a different story.

  37. #37 |  scott in phx | 

    ‘Under sharia law followed by Muslims, a woman can ask for a divorce, but only a man can grant the request, and he can refuse, according to a book on sharia published last month, Cruel and Usual Punishment, by Egyptian-born American author Nonie Darwish.

    ‘Under Islamic law, crimes such as apostasy (leaving Islam), adultery, theft or drinking alcohol are punishable by beheading, stoning, amputation of limbs or flogging, the book says.’

    Heaven forbid that anyone would be so moronic as to even think about prohibiting such enlightened behavior.

  38. #38 |  SJE | 

    Scott: I am opposed to such behavior, too, but the TN bill is entirely a show. Even many majority muslim countries do not apply sharia, and certainly not to the degree that concerns you.

    For the sharia law you cite to become law in TN, you would have to get
    1. A legislative majority and governor who are wahabbi muslims AND
    2. The majority of the country and the majority of the States to become wahabbi muslims AND
    3. Overturn to existing US constitution.

    This is like worrying about where the next meteor will strike, instead of just getting on with your life. I also think the meteor is a more likely problem.

  39. #39 |  scott in phx | 

    I actually didn’t “cite” the proposed TN law, nor did I opine on its merits.

    I merely riffed on Radleys (whom I respect very much) quite casual use of the word “moronic”.

    When Islamic violence has come to America, and I’m not talking about 9/11, instead, honor killings, female genital mutilation etc, I think it objectionable to casually dismiss Sharia law as some sort of benign religious ceremony.

    I’ve read Nonie Darwish’s first book “Now They Call Me Infidel”, but not her newer one “Cruel and Usual Punishment” about Sharia law. But I suspect that I will learn (though I already know) that Sharia law is diametrically opposed to pretty much everything we call freedom in the US.

    Hopefully people will start discussing that rather than casually ignoring it, regardless of whether a particular proposed law is or is not “moronic”.

    If not then may, nay, will, see increasing problems with the practical applications of Sharia law by Muslims here in the US. All one has to do is look at Europe to know where this is headed.

  40. #40 |  albatross | 

    I, for one, salute the courage of politicians in a heavily conservative, Christian state being willing to bravely take on a tiny, widely-despised religious minority.

  41. #41 |  scott in phx | 

    i agree Albatross those Christians forcing women to wear cloth coffins and stoning them to death for having out-of-marraige sex have got to be stopped. they’ll be much better off when Sharia gains mainstream acceptance.

  42. #42 |  Alex | 

    #39 Scott: “honor killings, female genital mutilation etc”

    Aren’t these things against the law already?

    Isn’t the new law saying “we prohibit people from acting as if illegal things were legal”? Well sure. Why do we need a law for that? Why limit it to the label of Sharia?

    And what if Sharia law required Muslims to donate 10% of their earnings to charity? Would Muslims now be punished for giving money to charity?

    Maybe we should only punish them for donating to Muslim charities, just to make sure that Sharia is the true motivation.

  43. #43 |  SJE | 

    Scott: Alex says it best. If a US citizen wants to break the law, appealing to a religious law will not help him or her.

    I agree that we should be talking about the horrors that occur under sharia law. However, trying to pass a law that bans sharia law allows even the worst Islamic bigots to portray themselves as victim, instead of focusing on the bigotry. You undermine the goal.

  44. #44 |  scott in phx | 

    SJE and Alex, I never suggested the TN law was appropriate or necessary.

    So evidently, merely riffing on Radley’s off-hand criticism of a “moronic” proposal brands me as a supporter of that proposal.

    I don’t know why, but I expect better comprehension skills here. Guess I should get used to being dissapointed.

  45. #45 |  Radley Balko | 


    I called the law “moronic” because I live in Tennessee, have read about the law, and have seen lots of local news coverage of the law. And it is moronic. As others have pointed out, the horrors you mentioned are illegal, and appealing to religious law would not help anyone escape prosecution, just as a parent who kills his kid for mouthing off to him couldn’t escape prosecution by appealing to the Old Testament. The Tennessee bill seeks to ban all sorts of legal activity simply because it’s done by Muslims, or done under the banner of Islam. If it passes, it will almost certainly be struck down on First Amendment grounds. Which means it’s just a cheap stunt meant to exploit and capitalize on bigotry and irrational fear of a terrorist attack in Tennessee. Hence, “moronic”.

  46. #46 |  Dr. T | 

    The proposed Tennessee legislation is not about individuals or families applying Sharia law. It is about organizations that advocate application of Sharia law AND that engage in or intend to engage in acts of terrorism. The bill would give the state attorney general the power to freeze the funds of such organizations. (See a portion of the bill’s summary below.)

    The law isn’t moronic–it just isn’t needed. Organizations that plan acts of terrorism can be banned under existing laws, and the members who conspired can be imprisoned under existing laws.

    Under this bill, the attorney general may designate an organization as a sharia organization if the attorney general finds that:
    (1) The organization knowingly adheres to sharia;
    (2) The organization engages in, or retains the capability and intent to engage in, an act of terrorism; and
    (3) The act of terrorism of the organization threatens the security or public safety of this state’s residents.

    This bill defines “sharia” as the set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions, or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state, and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends, the likely use of imminent violence. Under this bill, any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Ja’afariya, or Salafi, as those terms are used by sharia adherents, is prima facie sharia without any further evidentiary showing.

  47. #47 |  demize! | 

    Well in Brooklyn, Williamsburg there are Orthodox Halachic courts that deal with civil matters, The Hasidim are a very politically powerful.constituency, they make their women shave their heads and wear wigs, they fuck through a hole in a sheet, they shun apostates and are vehemently anti homosexual, should we start an anti halachic court movement in New York? I didn’t think so. There are Ecclesiastical courts are there not? Shall we try to ban them? I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the frequency of Islamophobic posters that appear like a rash everytime something like this is mentioned. If your an evangelical atheist than at least be fucking consistent.

  48. #48 |  Elliot | 

    demize (#47):The Hasidim are a very politically powerful.constituency, they make their women shave their heads and wear wigs, they fuck through a hole in a sheet, they shun apostates and are vehemently anti homosexual, should we start an anti halachic court movement in New York? I didn’t think so.

    Why shouldn’t these oppressive religious practices be opposed by decent people? I don’t think the answer is to pass laws or have social services take away children, but rather to expose the cruelties and injustices of treating women like chattel and brainwashing children by raising them in such an intolerant society, whether it’s Muslim, Hasidic, Mennonite, Mormon, or other.

    For that matter, I think even mainstream Christian teachings that convince children that they will burn forever in agony if they’re not baptized, apostates, gay, or otherwise not sufficiently “good” are also quite cruel. Guilt, self-loathing, suicides—all over imaginary crap some technologically backwards people made up centuries ago, based upon the crazy writings of ancient nomads. But somehow since so many people are raised to be Christians, it’s ubiquitous enough to be “normal” for many.

  49. #49 |  Joe | 

    I am amazed how people go crazy at the mention of Koch.

  50. #50 |  albatross | 

    scott in phx:

    Muslims in the US aren’t stoning anyone, because if they do, they’ll go to prison forever. I live in the DC area, a place with every ethnic and religious group there is, including a large share of Muslims. Seeing a woman in that black top-to-bottom thing (burka?) is incredibly rare–I can’t think of a time I’ve seen one other than in international airports. So those two aren’t really issues in the US. (Unless we’re starting a nationwide dress code, it’s not like the law would have anything to say about women wearing those burka things anyway.) You’re tossing out strawmen.

    Sharia law poses no threat whatsoever in the US. It’s a pretend issue, used to stir up the rubes. And mostly, that issue is pushed by amoral politicians and amoral media personalities/companies that would sell their own grandmothers down the river for another term in office, or good ratings for another year.

  51. #51 |  albatross | 

    Just to draw a fun parallel, has anyone noticed that the arguments against anti-sharia laws look just like the arguments against hate-crime laws? And the arguments for anti-sharia laws, similarly, look just like the arguments for hate-crime laws?

    And yet, something tells me that there is almost no overlap between the people who support anti-sharia laws and the ones who support hate-crime laws. It’s a mystery why that would be, really.

  52. #52 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Alert! Video shows that cops falsified arrest reports.

    I know, I know. It’s hard to believe, but try to set your prejudices aside just consider the possibility that the cops, those icons of justice, just maybe, might have fudged a tiny little bit.

  53. #53 |  demize! | 

    #48 you’ll find no argument from me on that. 1St, I think Sharia is a buzzword used to make the dogs salivate when the bell is rung, most of the anti crusaders couldn’t define it properly if their live depended on it, other than the examples of the most extreme Wahabist sort. 2nd since we don’t live in a Theocracy, Muslim or otherwise, I take no offence to those who choose to adhere to even the most absurd beliefs, as long as they don’t impose or impinge on my liberty. 3rd. The singling out of only one faith for legal imposition is inherently prejudicial, not that it would be less so if all faiths were legally scrutinized in this way. 4th. All Shari’s jurisprudence isn’t of the cut your hand off stone your women variety, that is a characterture.

  54. #54 |  Andrew Roth | 

    It occurs to me that there are some parallels between the Koch brothers and Russia’s post-Soviet oligarchs.

    Russia has been ruled for the past decade by a demagogic autocrat from the KGB. Even after Putin moved from the presidency to the premiership, he retained far more power than any previous Russian prime minister. I can’t figure out what his and Medvedev’s roles are in the government, except that Medvedev appears to at least defer to Putin on most matters and exercise less power than any of his predecessors. He’s not Putin’s puppet, but it’s not clear who’s really subordinate in the relationship.

    There is a liberal movement in Russia, but for most of the post-Soviet era it has been hampered by a reputation for having no bureaucratic competence and for being associated with, if not also led by, kleptocrats. This has given Putin extra latitude to selectively enforce financial laws against oligarchs who threaten his hold on power, most notably Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky was something of a crook, and he was prosecuted and convicted under duly enacted laws for being a crook, but in reality he was prosecuted for being insubordinate to Putin. His trial and sentences were thorough, purposeful miscarriages of justice.

    Incidentally, when I was studying in Russia in the summer of 2002, a guest lecturer compared Putin’s relationship with the oligarchs to Peter the Great’s relationship with St. Petersburg’s wealthiest citizens, whom he occasionally robbed by beating with his cane.

    Around the time that I was in Russia, the strongest defense of civil rights and liberties was coming from the Union of Right Forces, a classically liberal party that was a serious but very small faction in the Duma. There was no substantial civil libertarianism coming from the left; I remember hearing occasional rhetoric about open society from Communists, but nothing at all consistent, and the Communists were more often appealing to odious parts of their party’s history.

    The problem with this spectrum of platforms was that civil rights and liberties were conjoined with uncompromising free market dogmatism. This was at a time when many Russian government services had collapsed, much of the treasury and public infrastructure had been looted by the politically connected, and the old economic order upended. An awful lot of pensioners and soldiers had resorted to eating dog food. For ordinary Russians, the answer wasn’t to slash government services, it was to improve them.

    It was a lot like the apocryphal tale of Mussolini making the trains run on time. Russians were, and are, grateful to Putin for bringing stability, prosperity and more competent governance and administration to Russia after the Wild West economic free-for-all of the 1990s and Boris Yeltsin’s alcoholic fugue.

    To return to the Koch brothers, aside from their association with Scott Walker and his belligerence, they’re impeccable civil libertarians. At the same time, they’re crooks whose most famous political associate, again Governor Walker, is trying to orchestrate the no-bid sale of state infrastructure and appears to be manufacturing at least part of Wisconsin’s fiscal crisis. For one thing, the propriety of public employee unions aside, he is simply not negotiating with the unions in good faith. He is trying to destroy them by falsely declaring that they are refusing to compromise on budgetary matters.

    All this is happening during what is arguably the greatest economic dislocation since the Great Depression. In times like these, people are naturally wary of rallying around anyone who so much as appears to be orchestrating kleptocratic shenanigans. The Koch brothers might establish some credibility by focusing exclusively on civil liberties and victimless crimes, provided that they don’t invest in brothels or anything related to drugs. Until the mess in Wisconsin is cleanly and equitably resolved, however, they will have precious little popular credibility on much of anything—rather like the oligarchs.

  55. #55 |  scott in phx | 

    Wow Radley, a personal rebuke, should I feel honored or dissapointed. I guess I’ll opt for the latter as it appears you also declined to actually read my comments.

    To REPEAT, I did not opine on whether or not the proposed TN law was “moronic” or not. Nor did express any support whatsoever for it.

    But it appears that the 2 approved responses to a post like yours above are –

    A, yes it is moronic, or

    B, yes it is moronic.

    That doesn’t make for interesting comments, or much less suggest a reason to even have comments.

    And, even an oblique reference to the much larger issue involved earns the PC wrath of most other commentators and perhaps even the esteemed host of the site.

    Oh well, I’ve seen that before, here, and elsewhere.

    One further comment on the article referenced above. It includes an outright falsehood claimed by one of the members of the “Religion of Peace”, that “Sharia demands, that I follow, and obey, the law of the land and the country in which I live.” Islamic jurisprudence and Sharia “demand” exactly the opposite, that Islam and Sharia are superior to and should and shall supplant any non-Islamic system. It is permitted of course for Muslims to live “like a state within a state” while they work to supplant the ideals of their host state with the “higher” ideals of Islam, but that is not what this faithfull follower of the ROP wants you to believe. You can get that straight from the horses mouth if you actually listen to what Islamic leaders say when the audience is not gullible members of the press.

    oh, and Albatross, I didn’t say Muslims were stoning to death anyone in America. You evidently can’t read either. They are however cutting off young girls clitorises, yes, even in America. The American medical community flirted with the ideal of condoning the practice as long as it was done properly and with anasthesia (read about how it is actually accomplished if you want to made sick to your stomach). And the “honor” killings are well documented.

    So congratulate yourselves on your superiority to the rubes in TN and their “moronic” proposals. I’m sure that will make the female victims of Sharia in the US feel much better.

  56. #56 |  Rob in CT | 

    “To REPEAT, I did not opine on whether or not the proposed TN law was “moronic” or not. Nor did express any support whatsoever for it.”

    Of course not, because it’s clearly a ridiculous law and you can’t actually defend it. Instead, you move the goalposts and try to make this a conversation about female circumcision (painting anyone who thinks the proposed TN law is “moronic” as somehow guilty of indifference to the suffering of young girls whose clitorises have been cut off). Bravo. I’ll give you a 6 out of 10 on the troll scale.

  57. #57 |  Joe | 

    Radley, you will love this one:

    “Funny thing about cops, they hold grudges,” Piotroski wrote on LaRose’s page.

  58. #58 |  claude | 

    “The Koch brothers might establish some credibility by focusing exclusively on civil liberties and victimless crimes, provided that they don’t invest in brothels or anything related to drugs. Until the mess in Wisconsin is cleanly and equitably resolved, however, they will have precious little popular credibility on much of anything—rather like the oligarchs.”

    Its a bit too late for them. Currently they are paying for Scottys little 3-day bus trip around the state. At least it gets good gas mileage. Shorter buses usually do.

  59. #59 |  Alex | 

    #55: You said originally “Heaven forbid that anyone would be so moronic as to even think about prohibiting such enlightened behavior.”

    Sarcasm doesn’t exempt this from being an opinion about whether the law (and the people who support it) is moronic. I appreciate that you’re the minority in this forum, but own up.

    I think the problem here is the word “Sharia.” It means different things to different people. In your recent comment you corrected someone’s understanding of what Sharia is; in fact, both of you are right.

    How do we deal with this? By not trying to prohibit such a nebulous concept. Instead, we make certain acts illegal. If we make stoning a woman illegal, then people go to jail for it. If we make “Sharia” illegal, then eventually people also go to jail for innocuous speech, or for donating money to innocent charities. That’s moronic.

    #46 mentions that the law conjoins “Sharia” with “terrorism.” Oh, good, as long as there’s another (even more) nebulous concept involved, there certainly won’t be any abuse!

    (See also #51 on hate-crime. Indeed I find it consistent to oppose both anti-Sharia and hate-crime laws. Same reasoning applies. However at least in hate-crime cases there needs to be an actual crime, I think.)

  60. #60 |  scott in phx | 

    Thats funny, Dr T doesn’t think the bill was moronic (just not needed).

    Note that his is an unqualified opinion. Yet he seems to be pretty much ignored here.

    But my comment was quickly challenged based on mis-interpretations and fanciful characterizations of what I said.

    I’ve seen REAL trolls here ignored for real transgressions.

    Move the goalposts? Hardly, again I’ve seen discussions of his blog posts that go far afield and yet no one bats an eye and it was others responses to my comments that opened the game. But they are not trolls huh.

    Additionally, the article referenced was full of targets for comments about the wider issue.

    But evidently, when it comes to Islam, even the free-thinking environment of a “libertarian” blog readership wants to squelch any umpleasant references to the ROP.

    Pretty pathetic.

  61. #61 |  Elliot | 

    demize (#53):I think Sharia is a buzzword used to make the dogs salivate when the bell is rung…

    Except there are places in the world where women’s rights are suppressed, homosexuals and apostates are murdered, and other cruelties are carried out. The justification for this is a fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law. It’s not something made up by jingoistic propagandists.

    When the self-described spokespersons for “moderate Islam” are interviewed, Sharia is described differently, just as “jihad” becomes “struggle”, not “holy war”. Sure, many Muslims are embarrassed by the worst and don’t want to be associated with their barbarism. But in other cases, it’s a matter of being two-faced, as when the imams speak of peace and tolerance in English, but then speak approvingly of violence and religious hatred when talking in Arabic or some other language, when they don’t think Westerners can understand them.

    How much trickery goes on and how much is just honest differences? I have no idea and I doubt anyone in this comment section does either. Sure the proposed law in TN is bad. But people who are concerned about the violations of rights of women, homosexuals, apostates, etc. can’t just dismiss out of hand the real life impact of Sharia law around the world on those rights.

    This bill and the one in OK are in no small part a response to British politicians giving in to ridiculous demands of Muslims in the UK, as well as the bonehead judge in New Jersey who refused to grant a restraining order against a man who sexually assaulted his wife, on the grounds that Muslim law doesn’t allow a wife to refuse sex from her husband. It was, thankfully, overturned. Yes, they are overreactions and, at least in the case of the TN law, stupidly constructed (I don’t recall the details of the OK one). But they don’t come out of nowhere.

  62. #62 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #57:

    A police union represented by a guy named Sarge. Classic!

    The union’s attorney got called out for openly trying to intimidate a state senator over his Facebook page, then backtracked by arguing that the FOP’s critics are akin to racists. Score two for the Ohio GOP.

    If Mr. Piotroski doesn’t like having his clients called “union thugs,” I imagine he won’t like it when I call him a weaselly, lying shyster. Which I’m glad to do, because any attorney who declares that “thug” and “nigger” are equivalent terms is one. The latter is an ad hominem epithet based solely on race; the former is a descriptor based on specific behaviors in which one purposely engages. There’s no way in hell to pass a Bar Exam with the pathetic reasoning that Mr. Piotroski claimed to be using. What a sleazeball.

  63. #63 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Or the LSAT. I’ve taken the LSAT, and I’d say Mr. Piotroski’s reasoning is worth about a fifteen point score reduction. He didn’t even lie artfully.

    I wouldn’t want to be in a union whose counsel was such an incompetent provocateur.

  64. #64 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #58:

    I like the short bus imagery. Get our friend from the Ohio FOP on board the same bus and it’ll be ready to go–preferably far, far away for a long time. People like that deserve each other a lot more than the rest of us deserve them.

    I still think the Koch brothers can restore their reputation if they make a sincere effort. People can and do fully reform after much worse transgressions. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the Kochs will. My sense is that greed has consistently gotten in their way, and it’s hard to rise above a lifetime of ingrained greed.

  65. #65 |  perlhaqr | 

    Maybe the Tennessee lawmakers are on to something.

  66. #66 |  demize! | 

    I am the victim of an involuntary genital mutalation. I was circumcised when I was born. Now alert the media, and let’s pass laws. See where I’m going with this?

  67. #67 |  Elliot | 

    (1) Removing a foreskin is not the same as removing a clitoris.
    (2) Who is advocating passing laws?

    I said the oppressive religious practices should be exposed, not prosecuted.

  68. #68 |  albatross | 


    When you support evil and stupid policies, lots of people will often disagree with you, and point out why in some detail. When you argue dishonestly, lots of people will call you on it. This isn’t some kind of persecution, it’s just what happens when you say dumb things in public. The solution is to try to say smarter things.

    You can disagree with the prevailing beliefs, here and other places, without being banned, and you can even hold your own against a crowd who disagrees. But you have to actually make strong arguments, not dishonest ones. Cheap rhetorical tricks (moving the goalposts, claiming the crown of martyrdom when you’re disagreed with, strawmanning opposing viewpoints) aren’t going to convince anyone worth convincing that your views are right. Those techniques convince people who don’t think too hard, and who already started out wanting to agree with you. They never convince your opponents–most people don’t notice bullshit arguments on their own side, but everyone notices bullshit arguments used against them. And many people on your side will recognize bullshit arguments, and don’t want to be associated with them.

    Instead, try this: Think seriously about the strongest arguments the other side has. Not the stupid ones, the real ones. Write them down for yourself. Make sure you understand them better than your opponents. When someone disagrees with you along those lines, respond to the strongest version of the argument they’re making, not the weakest, not some intentional misunderstanding that makes (for example) opposition to the war on drugs equal wanting to give crack to kindergarteners.

    Or this: Ask yourself what the difference is between your view and the opposing view, in terms of predictions about the rest of the world. And then look to see whose predictions are borne out. Bring up the evidence you see, both for and against, in your discussions. If you’re supporting gun control laws, it’s reasonable to point out that Canada and Germany are pretty free and decent countries despite gun control, but also acknowledge that Switzerland is a pretty decent place, and that states with a lot of gun ownership don’t usually have especially high murder rates.

    All this assumes you want to actually discuss the world. Doing this is, however, corrosive to your belief system. If you understand the best arguments on the other side of some issue, you’ll often come to see that the argument for your own position is not so strong, or that it ultimately comes down to an emotional preference one way or another, or a conjecture about how the world works that’s not really possible to test right now. These techniques aren’t so useful if you’re just shilling for some set of beliefs you’ve been given by your political party or your parents or your employer or your favorite radio talk show host.

  69. #69 |  demize! | 

    Damn man that was the most polite smackdown ive ever read. Kudos!

  70. #70 |  Elliot | 

    albatross (#68):When you support evil and stupid policies, lots of people will often disagree with you, and point out why in some detail. When you argue dishonestly, lots of people will call you on it.

    Wait a minute, could you please specify the “evil and stupid policies” that Scott allegedly supported? I reread his comments and all I see him doing is condemning evil and stupid policies in which women are mutilated or their rights suppressed, or in which other outrageous things are done in the name of religion. You could argue that is not relevant to the TN law, but as Scott pointed out repeatedly (and was apparently ignored by most attacking him), he wasn’t defending that law. He was commenting on the general subject of Sharia law.

    And, could you specify where you thought he was being dishonest?

    Your “advice” is condescending and, from what I can discern in a quick pass, quite off topic. You suggest Scott is attacking a strawman, but the vast majority of your rant is against a strawman.

  71. #71 |  Elliot | 

    SJE (#43):If a US citizen wants to break the law, appealing to a religious law will not help him or her.

    It almost helped a Muslim man in New Jersey, who convinced a judge that Islamic law forbid his wife from refusing sex as a defense against a charge of raping her. Thankfully, that horrible decision was overturned.

    Don’t be too quick to dismiss such eventualities. In Canada and Europe, where the Muslim minorities make up a much larger percentage in certain countries, cowardly courts and governments have been occasionally disgustingly accommodating to unreasonable demands from Muslims (the ban on cartoon pigs or the case of Ezra Levant are some of the more obvious, and sillier, examples).

    Yes, there are Americans who overreact, who are ignorant and bigoted. But it is a strawman to assume that anyone who expresses concerns about the potential for unreasonable demands to eventually gain a foothold in the US are one of those ignorant bigots. Considering all of the ridiculous laws and abuse of power by law enforcement documented on this weblog, I think anyone who disregards the possibility of new stupidity on the part of courts or legislatures is sticking his head in the sand.

  72. #72 |  Elliot | 

    albatross (#68):If you’re supporting gun control laws, it’s reasonable to point out that Canada and Germany are pretty free and decent countries despite gun control, but also acknowledge that Switzerland is a pretty decent place, and that states with a lot of gun ownership don’t usually have especially high murder rates.

    That has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but it is definitely a poor argument. All human beings have a right to use effective tools in self defense, regardless of crime rates, fancy pieces of paper, or putting your finger in the air to gauge the wind, i.e., your useless metric of “pretty free and decent”. Freedom is measured by the individual, not by wide sweeping general assessments. Just as most of us are not victims of abuse by law enforcement, we cannot ignore the occasional cases where individuals are victims of abuse or immoral laws. Even though the average person may be relatively free in this country, the true measure ought to be the particular individual who hasn’t done harm to others but who is being ground up in the machinery of government. That could be a person killed in a wrong door SWAT raid, a person framed by jailhouse informants, someone like Brian Aitken who was trying to follow the law but was screwed over anyway, people screwed over by eminent domain, the small business owner who is drummed out of business by taxes or licensing/certification drawn up by larger established companies in the same market (i.e., rent seekers).

    So, I don’t care that people in other countries are “pretty free” or that their crime rates are low. I only care about the individual who chooses to own the most effective means of self defense, who knows better than any politician or bureaubot if she will be better off with a gun than without. And, it’s not just safety. She may just enjoy target shooting or collecting guns. If it makes her happy and she’s not harming anyone else, it’s nobody’s business but her own.