Open Thread for Monday, June 27, 2016

PM Cameron spoke out today against the huge upswing in xenophobic incidents since the Brexit vote.

PM Cameron spoke out today against the huge upswing in xenophobic incidents since the Brexit vote.

Kind of a slow news day, but let’s see what we can drum up:

  1. Don’t forget to vote tomorrow — If there are any primary runoffs in your precinct. I’ve got the solicitor runoff between Rick Hubbard and Candice Lively, and the contest between Micah Caskey and Tem Miles for Kenny Bingham’s House seat. If you want to see what’s on your local ballot, go here and enter your county, name and birth date.
  2. Inmate killed, another injured at Lee Correctional during incident — Sounds like more than an “incident” if an inmate was killed. I look forward to learning more. I’m also curious to know more about the dead man himself. His name was named Ae Kingratsaiphon. How did a guy with a name like that ending up doing a life sentence for murder in South Carolina?
  3. Justices throw out Texas abortion law — Kennedy joined the liberals to hand the “pro” side their biggest court win since 1992, in a 5-3 decision. NYT’s making a pretty huge deal about it.
  4. Graft Conviction Is Vacated for Former Virginia Governor — From what I’ve read in recent months, that sounds like it’s probably a good call.
  5. EU leaders reject informal talks with UK — I think this makes more sense than that petulant-sounding message we got the other day from E.U. leaders saying they wanted Britain to hurry up about it. This is a situation that benefits from a bit of a slowdown, I would think. But then, what do I know from European politics? Meanwhile, Britain’s credit rating has been downgraded. Nice going there, leavers.
  6. Labour MPs to hold no-confidence vote in Jeremy Corbyn — So there are some silver linings in this cloud. That’s encouraging, I think — if he’s replaced by someone a little less crazy. Yeah, it’s too much to hope for another Tony Blair, but a guy can dream, can’t he?

32 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, June 27, 2016

  1. Mark Stewart

    I was more interested in the link in the BBC story to another one about Gibraltar and Scotland wanting to remain in the EU – and in the UK. And possibly Northern Ireland as well. It’s sort of like what they are proposing is that Britain (and Wales, I guess) cut itself out of the UK – so the remaining parts may maintain their EU membership as the UK.

    This is getting surreal. It would probably work, if London were to join them as well…

        1. Jim Cross

          Actually, according to the BBC election maps, the situation is a little more complex for Northern Ireland. Antrim, the northern parts of Armargh and Down (except the extreme north including Bangor) and East Belfast all voted heavily on the “Leave” side. It was most of Belfast, the western counties, and South Armaugh and Down that voted “Remain.”

  2. Burl Burlingame

    The SCOTUS abortion decision boiled down to a simple call — does closing as many legal abortion clinics as possible constitute “undue hardship” on women seeking legal abortions? Amazingly, three justices (all men) decided that it did not.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yes, Bryan, thanks.

          Indeed, two Catholics were in the majority and three dissented.

          All three Jewish justices were in the majority, if that’s significant to you. It isn’t to me.

          If the Catholic vote had been monolithic, as Harry seems to want to suggest, the decision would have gone 5-3 the other way. Or 6-3 when Scalia was alive.

          So basically, the justices did what I expect them to do — rule on the law as they interpret it.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You’re going to see a lot of decisions when all of the justices on one side or the other are Catholic — since the entire court is either Catholic or Jewish, with the Jews in the distinct minority.

            It was 6-3-0 when Scalia was alive, with Protestants of course being the zero…

            1. Mark Stewart

              Garland Merrick would make it 5-4-0.

              On the other hand, each of the current justices replaced a Protestant; for whatever that’s worth (not much).

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          If there’s a prejudicial factor, it’s not in the justices’ faith.

          It’s in the politics of judicial selection. In spite of nominees’ efforts to avoid promising future decisions, the partisans mine their past rulings and writings for clues, and then Democrats do their best to divine which ones will favor the absolutism of Griswold and Roe, and Republicans try to suss out the ones who will not.

          And to some extent they succeed. Reagan slipped up on Kennedy, but even though I don’t like his ruling in this case, that pleases me. I like to see the political branches fail in trying to apply their litmus tests to the judiciary.

          But I believe the justices themselves are doing their best to be fair arbiters of the law. The politicians just try to pick the justices whose fair, honest assessments of the law will suit the aims of the politicos…

          1. Harry Harris

            I certainly agree with your post. I think the court composition is skewed mostly by political leanings and judicial philosophy. The religious makeup does seem odd, though I don’t think it’s a major factor in decision making.

            1. Barry

              Ginsberg , Breyer, and the two new female justices are as predictable as Thomas or Scalia – but lauded for it.

              Thomas and Scalia were criticized for it.

  3. Lynn Teague

    The issue in the Texas case was a transparently deceptive law that made a very unconvincing attempt to sidestep constitutional rights as defined in Rowe v Wade with medical restrictions that are inconsistent with the normal standard of care for equally or more dangerous procedures. In short, the law was grounded in an obvious lie. Of course it was overturned.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, if that’s the case — if this was a particular law that was “transparently deceptive” — then it should have no particular bearing on basic law regarding abortion in the country.

      That would make it a poor test as whether the justices are upholding Roe.

      Which makes me wonder why the NYT is making a huge deal of it. That paper has a very good track record of understanding, and explaining, and placing in perspective, legal matters of all sorts. And their play of this yesterday suggested something of historic significance, which is why I mentioned it above.

      Here’s what their home page looked like:

      NYT abortion

      To me, that indicates something more than just a ruling on a particular, “transparently” flawed law.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Of course, my impression of the relative quality of the NYT’s reporting and editorial judgments regarding play could well be out of date. Maybe they’re not as discerning as they were a generation ago.

        I was most conscious of how good they were in this regard in the mid-80s, which is three decades ago now. That was when my job required me to look closely at how major newspapers played the news every day, and assess the relative quality of the decisions they made.

        That was when I was the news editor of the Wichita paper. I had a lot of different responsibilities then, but the most obvious role to most in the newsroom was that I was the front-page editor. And I worked for an executive editor who expected very careful assessment every day to make sure we played every story exactly right. He was kind of obsessive about it, which made me kind of obsessive.

        During the decision-making process each night, I’d monitor what stories the NYT, Washington Post and LAT (as well as other services such as KR-Tribune, AP, UPI and Reuters) were offering, and read what they sent to choose the best versions of national and international stories. Later in the evening, those top papers would share their decisions about what they were putting on their front pages, so I could compare the choices they’d made.

        After really big national and international stories — the Challenger explosion, a mass shooting by a (actually, the proverbial) postal worker in Oklahoma City, and stories like those — I would collect physical front pages from across the nation and lead a post-mortem meeting with newsroom editors to assess our own coverage decisions compared to other papers’. (I told you we were obsessive.)

        Over time, I came to the conclusion that, day in and day out, the NYT was the most thoughtful and thorough, both in terms of depth of coverage and careful discernment in how they played the news. It got to where I had such confidence in them that, when their front-page advisory came out and it differed from calls I had made, I’d take another look at my decisions and sometimes make changes.

        I didn’t go into this job thinking they were all that great. I might have thought a lot of their reputation was just hype. But after a few months of such intense study, day after day, I came to respect them above other papers. At about the time I was forming that impression, I said aloud in the presence of my managing editor something about how consistently impressive they seemed to be. He was a wise guy, and responded, “Yeah, they’re a pretty good little paper.” I laughed, but he was failing to get how carefully I’d thought it out, and found that, after all, their reputation was actually deserved

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          One of the great things about the NYT back in the day, when I was making such comparisons, was that they were good at covering and understanding and explaining things that American journalists were chronically bad at — such as science, and religion. A lot of papers prided themselves on their courts coverage, of course, but the NYT was the best. Linda Greenhouse, before her retirement, was always particularly good at explaining SupCo decisions.

          And she comes out of retirement with an opinion piece explaining this decision:

          There was no mystery in what the five justices in the majority, crucially including Justice Kennedy, accomplished this time, nor in the decision’s impact. By holding the state’s asserted rationale for its clinic­decimating regulations up to the light and finding it specious and counterproductive, the court has shut down one of abortion opponents’ main recent strategies: enacting “targeted regulation of abortion providers” laws that impose on doctors who perform abortions special restrictions not placed on doctors who do procedures of equal or greater risk….

          Those days are now over. The provisions of the Texas law, Justice Breyer concluded, “vastly increase the obstacles confronting women seeking abortions in
          Texas without providing any benefit to women’s health capable of withstanding any meaningful scrutiny.”

          Although nearly one­-third of American women will have an abortion in their lifetime, a goal of abortion opponents has been to carve out abortion practice from
          ordinary health care, to ghettoize and delegitimize it. Those days are now over, too. Singling out abortion for regulation that can’t be justified on medical grounds is unacceptable, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized in a concurring opinion…

          She sort of spoils the effect by venturing into personal opinion in the last two or three grafs (now that she has licence to do that), but other than that, she’s much like the Greenhouse of old, providing a valuable journalistic service…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Now that I’ve said all these obliging things about the Gray Lady, allow me to lodge a complaint.

            It’s bad enough that they’ve got the biggest, most restrictive pay wall of any publication other than the Wall Street Journal (which doesn’t bother me because I subscribe to the WSJ), now they done some sort of tricky thing where you can’t define and copy type from their site.

            So… if I want to share with you a good passage from one of their stories and opinion pieces, as I did above, I have to go CTRL+P, like I’m going to print, and copy it from there.

            What a royal pain in the keister. Here I am, trying to interest people in their content — and usually urging them to go read the whole thing, which could well lead to them subscribing — and they’re trying to make it hard for me….

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Oh, I said the WSJ’s paywall doesn’t bother me, and as a reader, it does not, since I subscribe.

              But as a BLOGGER it’s a huge pain, since y’all can’t read the things I call to your attention unless you, too, subscribe.

              Of course…. there’s a workaround for that, too. All my years as an executive of a newspaper keep me from telling you about that. But Bryan can tell you…

              1. Bryan Caskey

                The WSJ has specifically enabled that workaround. They know about it, and they’re fine with it. They do it to keep their content high up on the google rankings.

                It’s not stealing.


                    1. Brad Warthen Post author


                      That’s my ambition — to be the Roger Sterling of ADCO.

                      Unfortunately, people can’t get past my uncanny resemblance to Don Draper…

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Just kidding there, folks!

                      In real life, I think people see me more as Bert Cooper. I wish! He just sits there in his office with his Rothko, waiting for the money to roll in…


      2. Lynn Teague

        It is a big deal because quite a few states thought this strategy would work. No one was ever in any doubt about the underlying deception, but this bill and others like it have nevertheless affected many lives and would have affected many more. Big deal.

    2. Bill

      The “big deal“ here has to do with the fact that many other states have laws in place like the TX law just struck down.

      As for the ruling itself, it should come as no surprise to anyone who has read the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision – in which Justice Kennedy joined with the majority to strike down several PA restrictions on abortion.

      Here are the relevant lines from that decision – which the court said constituted one of the underlying principles controlling their assessment of the 1992 case:
      “As with any medical procedure, the State may enact regulations to further the health or safety of a woman seeking an abortion. Unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right.”

  4. bud

    I lost a lot of respect for the NYT when they basically served as stenographers for Ws administration in the run up to the Iraq war. It gave them credibility than they obvious didn’t deserve. Shame especially on Judith Miller.

  5. Bart

    Kermit Gosnell!! Enough said about the decision. Based on the decision, the Gosnells in the United States will not be scrutinized as closely as they should be because states will no longer try to pass laws in response to the Gosnell abortion mill case that have any impact on an abortion provider because anyone or any state touching the third rail of the right to an abortion will not be enforced nor tolerated. And no, I am not so damn stupid as to believe every abortion provider will become another Gosnell but it is also possible some will.

    Even though the majority wrote that Texas has enough safeguards in place and does not need further restrictions, then why did several clinics close down after Texas passed new regulations? Were they potential Gosnell clinics and considering the decision, will they now be able to re-open in the same location without upgrades required by the Texas law that was overturned?

    I don’t agree with abortion but if a relative, friend, or stranger is going to have one, I would prefer they go to a clinic that is strictly controlled and monitored for safe medical practices and the facility meet current guidelines for medical facilities. In fact, I believe every hospital, medical office or practice should be inspected no less than once a year and if an inspection finds a violation, the office or practice should be inspected quarterly until the inspection agency is satisfied compliance has been implemented and continued.

    I read several different websites, liberal and conservative, including The Weekly Standard. This is from TWS. “Breyer and his four colleagues ruled that whatever benefits to women of the Texas health and safety standards, those benefits did not outweigh the “undue burden” imposed on women who wanted to procure abortions: The sometimes costly regulations would cause some clinics to close down, and those closures would require some women to travel farther to obtain abortions.”

    I deal in construction matters every day and new rules are written and enforced all the time especially when it comes to safety, health, and the well being of the general public, especially health care facilities. The costs to provide for and meet new rules and regulations does drive costs up but they are followed irregardless of cost or “inconvenience” to anyone. While the rules and regulations may place “undue burdens” on owners and developers, they incorporate them into the cost of the project or they abandon it.

    If building codes can be enforced by law and sometimes they are simply overreaching and not necessary, then why not expect or demand the same when it comes to the health and safety of the patient in an abortion clinic?

    Rights come with responsibilities, restrictions, and adherence to them, especially in the medical field. And if an abortion clinic does not come under the definition of a medical provider, then what is its classification?

    1. Mark Stewart


      The question isn’t whether they are medical facilities; it is that TX wanted to regulate them as hospitals. So things like 8′ wide hallways vs 4′ wide for medical clinics. Stuff like that.

      The thing is; medical facilities to do cancer biopsies or colonoscopies ought to be the benchmark to compare abortion providers to; not level 1 trauma centers. This is where TX – and other states – overreached. No one said they shouldn’t be regulated, and supervised, as outpatient medical facilities.

      As with everything, it comes down to intent.


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