Friday links! Courtesy of the red, white and blue edition

Toby Keith, who did not serve in the military, and his dog tags

Did you hear? President Trump dropped the MOAB on Afghanistan, killing 36 ISIS fighters and presumably ending our 15-year war. “MOAB” stands for “mother of all bombs.” The 11-ton weapon loves all other bombs and just wants them to be happy, and even though it has different expectations for each bomb, it is behind every single one of them 100 percent. You know who else loves bombs? Fox and Friends. Here’s the video they put together for yesterday’s strike:

“The video is black and white,” Ainsley Earhardt says, “but that is what freedom looks like. That’s the red, white and blue.” It’s true that a tyrant could never bomb anyone. Freedom isn’t life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. It’s a giant explosion seen from 30,000 feet. It’s Geraldo Rivera and his Wario mustache saying that “one of my favorite things, in the sixteen years I’ve been here at Fox News, is watching bombs drop on bad guys.” Today is Friday, and the most comfortable people in the world love to watch other people get bombed. Won’t you experience hot, searing freedom with me?

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Life of Montana abortion bills likely to end at conception

A person

The Montana legislature made national headlines last week, but not the good kind like you want. Representative Derek Skees of Lakeside sponsored HB 595, which would amend the state constitution to redefine “person” as “all members of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development, including the stage of fertilization or conception.” Zygotes? People. Fertilized eggs that do not implant in the uterus as a result of IUD birth control? People. Ectopic pregnancies? People. Skees’s bill would criminalize not just abortion but a whole raft of women’s health services that most people consider morally neutral, if not inherently good. It’s a bold declaration of support for the lives of the pre-born, but does it do enough to make post-born lives miserable?

Enter Sen. Albert Olszewski (R-Kalispell). His bill would require doctors to take every measure possible to preserve the lives of fetuses beyond 24 weeks of development, including caesarian section and resuscitation after abortion or miscarriage. Doctors who don’t would be subject to criminal prosecution. Imagine, for a moment, the joy a woman would feel after procuring a legal abortion, only to watch her obstetrician resuscitate the fetus and present her with her new child. Don’t worry, though; that situation will never happen, because no obstetrician in her right mind would see a pregnant woman knowing that it would expose her to criminal investigation should anything go wrong.

Also, neither of these bills has a snowball’s chance of becoming law. Nor does Sen. Keith Regier’s (R-Kalispell) proposal to ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. Even if they make it out of the legislature, Gov. Steve Bullock will veto these bills faster than you can say Roe v. Wade. In this way, they take on a pleasing symmetry. These laws that insist life begins at conception are unlikely to move beyond the concept stage themselves. As pure theories, they are free to be as draconian and unenforceable as the most virulent activist could hope. It’s kind of like the way their authors—middle-aged men from the Flathead, to a one—can rail against abortion without any fear of getting pregnant themselves. You can read all about their strange performances in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. Probably, we’re going to get some letters. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!

Alabama senate votes to let church form its own police force

Briarwood Presbyterian, right as a symbol of state power accidentally blew into the shot

When we think about the separation of church and state, we tend to worry about government becoming more like church. But maybe the real danger lies in churches becoming more like governments—by getting a piece of the state’s monopoly on violence, for instance. Yesterday, the Alabama state senate approved a bill to let Briarwood Presbyterian Church assemble its own police force. Briarwood police would be sworn officers with the same authority to carry firearms, issue citations and place people under arrest as, for example, university police. The difference is that they would be employed by a church. That’s tricky, since as police they would become expressions of state power. I’m using “tricky” here to avoid repeating the exact words of the ACLU of Alabama, whose executive director described the plan as “plainly unconstitutional.”

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On the geniuses who out themselves

I went to high school with a genius. In daily life, he offered scant evidence that he possessed a beautiful mind. But we knew he had a 165 IQ, because he kept telling us about it. Whenever he failed a math test, and once when someone corrected his pronunciation of Michaelangelo’s famous Sixteenth Chapel, he reminded us of his giant brain number. “That’s on a test,” he would say. “Not just an estimate.” We wondered whether he was simply lying or if his parents had told him in some irrevocable mistake. If that wasn’t it, then somewhere in town there was an educational psychologist whose license needed revoking. We loved to talk about this question.

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United issues statement after dragging passenger off overbooked flight

A seemingly unconscious passenger is dragged off UA flight 3411.

It’s a good thing United Airlines recently changed its slogan from “fly the friendly skies” to “get knocked unconscious and dragged off the plane,” or they might be vulnerable to ribbing. Last night, passengers on flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville were asked to volunteer f0r a later flight so that four members of another United flight crew could take their seats. Two passengers volunteered and received $800 vouchers. The airline randomly selected another passenger for removal: a man who said he was as a physician scheduled to see patients in Louisville the next day and refused. Eventually, security officers pulled the man screaming from his seat, apparently knocking him unconscious before dragging his limp body down the aisle. Seriously. Here’s a statement from United:

Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.

Classic use of the passive voice here: The flight “was overbooked,” so law enforcement “was asked” to manhandle one of United’s customers. By whom we cannot know—probably the same disembodied forces that created the “overbook situation.” But perhaps the most thrilling part of this statement is its bold new use of the words “volunteer” and “voluntarily.” Close reading and fairly disturbing video after the jump.

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