> you didn't reply to my central point: that all the FSF's projects are "FSFLA open core"
I did. Upthread I wrote It's offering the combination that makes the *combination* fit Free Bait/Open Core.
As for promoting the open source cause, I don't dispute that a number of undesirable behaviors do. But that's not the cause I'm interested in. My cause is that of the Free Software movement, a cause concerned with the lack of ethics in denying users control over their computing, and the freedom to help their neighbors.
It is probably true that in your infinite regression, founded on open source ideas, you'd conclude that nothing is truly open source, because you don't seem to be taking the ethics into account.
Only when you do will you realize that, from an standpoint that takes both practical and ethical concerns into account, e.g. being denied access to source code of ROM or a hardware circuit doesn't make it any more difficult for you to adapt the device so that it does what you wish than if you had source code.
Once you see that difference, you might realize that software freedom may indeed exist, even when a piece of hardware is, well, hard-coded and opaque.
That's not to say that its being hard-coded and opaque is desirable, but it's outside the scope of Free *Software*, and, until duplicating hardware is as easy as duplicating software, it will be a lesser issue, in practical and ethical terms. IMHO ;-)