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May 07, 2013 06:11 AM UTC

Tuesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

"The world is twice as crazy as it's ever been."

–Maurice Sendak


39 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

        1. Interesting. I wonder about that, though. Thanks to colonialization, English is basically a native language in India now. But China was never colonized, outside of outposts like Hong Kong and Macau. So they must be learning English as a second language.

          It makes me question the definition of "English speakers." Unless it's a primary, every day language for a large number of Chinse, the way it is for many Indians, I wouldn't accept it as truthful.

            1. look it up

              They speak English better than a lot of 'mericans

              And in  absolute numbers, CHina has "the most" of a lot things. It's th eper capita measure that is …more compelling

          1. In India pretty much every person with a college degree, or a child in a family with educated parents, speaks English. But India still has a ton of poor people and they tend to only know their local language.

            In  China they're now teaching all  kids English – starting in  Kindergarten. It's the  all  kids being taught that  puts them first.

            ps – Funny story. When the Indian parliment first met after kicking the British out, they discovered that  they had to conduct business in  English  because it was the only common language. For the first couple of decades  the plan  was to phase out  English, but they  finally gave up on  that and made  English an  official language.

            1. Too lazy to look it up- but at the time they had something like 1800 spoken languages in India


              I'm not sure worldwide 1800 languages are going to make it into the next decade.  And, fwiw, I see the decline in variety as a good thing.  Globally there are less than a dozen bridge (super) languages that connect us all. I look forward to when there will be even fewer.

            2. Bet more people in India speak English as a first language and far more fluently than the superior number of Chinese English speakers, most of whom I would bet are far from proficient, much less fluent. There's a big difference between being a true language speaker and knowing a language only through school courses while rarely speaking it in your every day life. I suspect China is the correct answer only if you define English speaker as someone who knows some but is far from fluent.

              1. I think very few in India speak English as a first language.

                I talk with a lot of developers in both India and China and in both groups they tend to be equally fluent. In both cases they are pretty comfortable in English so they clearly converse in it a lot.

                1. As their first language? Yes, that's true – I miswrote.

                  Anyway, I went looking on our good friend, wikipedia, and China is barely mentioned on the page about the English language. I did find this, though:

                  Wikipedia's India estimate of 350 million includes two categories – "English Speakers" and "English Users". The distinction between the Speakers and Users is that Users only know how to read English words while Speakers know how to read English, understand spoken English as well as form their own sentences to converse in English. The distinction becomes clear when you consider the China numbers. China has over 200~350 million users that can read English words but, as anyone can see on the streets of China, only handful of million who are English speakers.

                  Also, per this article, it appears that the US is the # 1 country, followed by India.


                  1. I think he was referring to me and I still say many in certain classes do grow up with English as at least one of their first languages. Unlike Americans in many countries it's totally normal to be fully bi or tri lingual pretty much from birth.

                    Even with a small percentage of Indians in those classes that's still plenty of people. I'd still bet there are more truly fluent, don't have to translate in their heads, English speaking Indians than Chinese.

                  2. If the so-called customer service'' agents who answer all sorts of calls are any guide, definitions of English-speaker are far too generous.

                    1. When young and in europe, though, Ikept meeting Dutch kids who not only spoke fluent English but with the American style accent. .Why don't they outsource to Holland?

      1. Yesterday's answer – Field Marshall John Dill

        In the United States he was immensely important in making the Chiefs of Staff committee – which included members from both countries – function, often promoting unity of action. He was particularly friendly with General George Marshall and the two exercised a great deal of influence on President Roosevelt who described Dill as "the most important figure in the remarkable accord which has been developed in the combined operations of our two countries".

      1. This Saturday I'll be landing in Copenhagen, taking the train up to Malmo, and then falling asleep. Next Saturday is the final. So Internet access yes. Time no.

        Besides, I'm curious to see what is posted when I'm gone. Ralphie had good selections last time.

  1. I wholeheartedly agree:


    … Syria is very much like Iraq. A dictator leaving a vacuum in a half-liberated country? Check. A sectarian war we cannot understand let alone direct? Check. A Sunni insurgency increasingly allied with Jihadist elements? Check. Nebulous accusations and counter-accusations about WMDs, without hard proof of much at all? Check. A conflict swayed by interference across the region – from the Sunni monarchies to the Shi’a powers? Check.

    You can argue that this could have somehow been prevented. I doubt it. You could also argue that the United States has an interest in an outcome that is neither Assad nor the al Nusra brigades. But no one can explain to me how to get from here to there. This is their regional war, not ours’. And our only reliable ally in the region seems perfectly capable of protecting itself and its own interests, without even informing us in advance.

    Please, Mr President: just say no. You were elected to end this kind of hubristic, short-sighted, if well-intentioned military intervention. We did not elect you over McCain in 2008 merely to watch you follow that unreconstructed neocon’s advice, which is always to intervene first and figure out what to do once we have.

    You know better. Trust your instincts. Do as little as possible.


  2. Remember the  discussion on whether or not Cruz qualifies as natural born? According to most constitutional scholars yes but not according to birther Cruz who obviously didn't think his future ambitions through while jumping on the wacko birther band wagon.  Good thing sheer stupidity isn't a disqualifier because he's my dream candidate for 2016 (never happen, though):


    The Constitution says, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.” As NBC’s Chuck Todd has pointed out, Cruz’s eligibility would seem to hinge of the definition of the term “natural born.”1 Is someone who was born abroad so obviously a natural born American?  


    The consensus among legal experts appears to be, emphatically, “yes.” Here’s Temple University Law professor Peter Spiro, an expert on nationality law, on Todd’s MSNBC show Monday morning: 

    I think it’s pretty clear that natural born is defined in such a way as to include everybody that has citizenship, and who got it other than through naturalization. So the fact that Ted Cruz had citizenship at birth, and he clearly did under the statute that applied at the time, it’s pretty clear that he qualifies as natural born.

    But it turns out that there’s at least one legal heavyweight who would question Spiro’s argument—a guy who goes by the name of … Ted Cruz.

    Here’s Cruz’s problem: Under further questioning, Spiro conceded that Cruz’s case isn’t really clear cut if you limit yourself to the actual wording of the Constitution. (The Constitution never defines what “natural born” means.) Rather, what makes Cruz’s eligibility a no-brainer is the way the country has chosen to interpret the Constitution in recent decades. “It’s a question of how our understandings have evolved over time,” Spiro said. “So the examples that you cited in the setup—George Romney, John McCain, Barry Goldwater—all pretty clearly establish that the American people are on board with somebody who was born outside of the United States, but who had citizenship at birth.” 

    When Todd pressed further about how the question would be definitively resolved, Spiro added:

    What you’ll end up with … is the consensus that develops through things like the resolution relating to John McCain [a non-binding, semi-stunt measure introduced by Senator Claire McCaskill in 2008 in which the Senate declared McCain eligible]. You’ll have editorialists in the major media outlets, you’ll have discussions like this one, in which it’s going to be hard to find somebody on the opposite side. So you’ll have this consensus that develops in an organic way, and in a way that doesn’t require the courts to get involved. So the only reason that there’s an argument here even is that the courts have not definitively resolved this question. And that’s something that they’re unlikely to do. So there’ll always be just a little bit of a door opening for political opponents to make these kinds of arguments in cases like this, but it’s really just a little bit of a door opening. 

    Editorials in major media outlets? Cable chat-show debates? Well, good enough for me! But almost certainly not good enough for a constitutional conservative like Cruz, at least if the question were anyone else's presidential eligibility. As you may have heard, Cruz, who actually memorized much of the Constitution in high school, believes the document should be interpreted rather literally. As his former professor Robert P. George once told National Review, “Ted was very drawn to the idea of constitutional originalism"—his undergraduate thesis was about the genius of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. 

    This is a worldview that Cruz has carried with him ever since. After clinching the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Texas last August (which effectively won him the seat), Cruz told a crowd of supporters, “We did it. Millions of Texans, millions of Americans are rising up to reclaim our country, defend liberty and restore the Constitution.” At a gun control hearing in March, he famously advised his California colleague Dianne Feinstein that “all of us should begin as our foundational document with the Constitution.” 

    More than anything else, Cruz seems galled by the argument Professor Spiro trotted out in defense of his presidential eligibility—the idea that the constitution’s meaning evolves organically over time. At a Senate confirmation hearing in April, Cruz asked an Obama judicial nominee whether he considered the Constitution a “living document”—a way of ferreting out whether the nominee might be unacceptably liberal. (The nominee wisely appeased Cruz: “'I would say no. The Constitution has an enduring, fixed quality to it.'')






      1. Of course! The true measure of "natural born" is one's politics.

        I guarantee you that many birthers were once people who supported amending the Constitution so that they could run Arnold Schwarzennegger for president. (It seems like a lifetime ago, but he was once considered the brightest rising star in the GOP.)

  3. Doctor decries "reproductive slavery" at medical conference:

    Dr. Potts delivered the Samuel A. Cosgrove Memorial Lecture—his second time being selected for this honor—to a packed room of ob-gyns. “I believe a woman has a right to decide how to use her own body,” he said. “It is a freedom that separates a slave from a free person. As physicians and obstetricians, we have the power to break the shackles of reproductive slavery.”

    1. And before the righties get hysterical over comparing the miracle of childbirth to slavery and start in on the evils of abortion, let's point out that everyone on the choice side prefers safe effective birth control to abortions.  They aren't fun and most would  really rather not go through them.

      Let's also point out that these same righies are the very ones who want to make safe effective birth control uncovered by insurance and hard to come by for low income women (while getting indignant about having to give their tax dollars to a social safety net for them and their children if they do have more children than they can support) and even seek to ban most of these means as the equivalent of abortion even though the overwhelming majority have used these very means for family planning themselves.

      The rarity of  eight+  child rightie families, even among Catholics whose hospitals are crying fowl over employees getting birth control coverage that the hospitals don't even have to pay for,  is proof that the 90+% of Americans (including 90+ % of Catholics) who have used or are using birth control very much includes both the most reliable means and most of those fighting sensible birth control policies.

      Apparently they wish to enjoy sex  with their spoises without having a kid every year or two but don't want low income women to be able to do so.  Another thing that's just tough luck for you if you are one of those good for nothing takers.   And they don't mean the well subsidized rich when they say that.

      1. Exactly.

        From an excellent interview in The Hill with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards:

        Contraception — the biggest chunk of Planned Parenthood’s services — has become controversial in its own right. Republicans have attacked the provision in Obama’s healthcare law mandating birth control coverage separately from the abortion debate.

        “I think some of us have always believed that the same people who are out there fighting against women’s rights to make their own decisions about pregnancy also oppose birth control,” Richards said. “But the thought that they would go after birth control aggressively and continue to go after birth control as a benefit says to me they are completely out of touch with America, and they’re definitely out of touch with young women and men for whom birth control is just a fact of life.”

        Richards said Obama’s healthcare law was a major step forward for a movement that has been fighting an uphill battle for decades.

        “In the early days, it was illegal to even hand out information about birth control, and now of course 99 percent of women use it at some point in their lifetime. And the fact that it’s being treated like all other medical care is really fantastic,” Richards said.

        Or this piece from Salon about the true opposition to Planned Parenthood, and how it has nothing to do with abortion:

        But where Lowry was really dishonest is in his attempt to hoodwink his audience into believing that abortion is the sum total of Planned Parenthood's work, characterizing the procedure as the organization’s "central purpose" and claiming that liberals who talk about "women's health" or "reproductive health" are always and forever referring to abortion.

        Listening to [Obama], you could be forgiven for thinking that the country is riven by a fierce dispute over whether women should be allowed to choose their own ob-gyns or decide whether to take contraceptives or to get cancer screenings. One side is pro-women’s health, the other anti.

        In one way, this is an accurate description of reality. The right is waging a war on women's ability to get basic gynecological services. That's why Republicans tried to shut down the federal government over funding that is earmarked for contraception, STI treatment, and cancer screenings—by federal law, federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood cannot be for abortion. That's why they keep attacking contraception subsidieson the state level as well as the national level. That's why the single most controversial item in the Affordable Care Act is the provision of contraception coverage for women with insurance. The word "abortion" gets thrown around a lot, but it's clearly just a stalking horse for attacks on contraception and other health care—such as Pap smears and STI testing—associated with women choosing to have sex.

        Make no mistake: The fights against contraception and reproductive rights are not about religious liberty, unless your religion believes that women must be second class citizens and deprived of the medical care which keeps them from doing anything about it.

        1. T"…he fights against contraception and reproductive rights are not about religious liberty, unless your religion believes that women must be second class citizens and deprived of the medical care  …"


          Sheesh. It is a religious discussion because information about a woman's personal healthcare decisions shouldbe a private and serious conversation between her dr and her husband.  (And in the Bible if she was a virgin, she had to marry her rapist. We don't do that anymore.)

        2. I'd say it's more than out of touch.  It's active hypocrisy and they know exactly how hypcritical they are being.  With stats for birth control use, most of which they publicly label abortifacient, and average family size among some of the loudest GOP birth control atttackers being what they are, the majority of those throwing up road blocks can only be doing so as a do as I dictate to you, not as I do kind of thing.

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