December 2, 2016

"Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump have moved to block the vote recount in Pennsylvania, adding to complaints filed to stop similar proceedings in Michigan and Wisconsin."

Politico reports:
"Despite being no more than a blip on the electoral radar, [Jill] Stein has now commandeered Pennsylvania's electoral process, with an eye toward doing the same to the Electoral College," the complaint filed Thursday states. "There is no evidence -- or even an allegation -- that any tampering with Pennsylvania's voting systems actually occurred."

"This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally."

"The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up."

Said Corey Lewandowski at the election post-mortem at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, covered by The Washington-Post in "Shouting match erupts between Clinton and Trump aides."

The Post snarks that Lewandowski was complaining that "Journalists accurately reported what Trump said."

I missed the event, but it sounds to me as though Lewandowski was saying that the media didn't understand — or pretended not to understand — they way Trump was reaching people. I presum that  Lewandowski was making the same point that was made in the widely admired and shared piece by Salena Zito that appeared in the September 23, 2016 of The Atlantic, "Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally":
When he makes claims like [only 41.5% of 16 to 24-year old blacks are employed], the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.

When I presented that thought to him, he paused again, “Now that’s interesting.”
The WaPo article has lots more about the Kennedy School event, with particular emphasis on the Clinton aides beating up on Kellyanne Conway. I don't think I need to say that Conway held her own, but don't look to WaPo to present her as a feminist heroine. Her performance is predictably underplayed, making the article rather boring, as WaPo, on December 2nd, sinks back behind its paywall for me.

"Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq."

Wrote General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, in a letter from a few years back (which is getting shared this week, now that Trump has named Mattis for Secretary of Defense). Mattis was reacting to people who say they're too busy to read.

Trump told the Prime Minister of Pakistan he would "love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people."

Quoted in the NYT article "Trump’s Breezy Calls to World Leaders Leave Diplomats Aghast."

Trump talks like Trump. What if big-shot leaders respond well that sort of thing? What if it works? Trump has been talking to powerful people over big stakes for a long time. It's possible that he knows what he's doing. But the unnamed diplomats are "aghast"...

"We need to remove arbitrary barriers to service by women in our armed forces... There is no draft in today's military..."

"... but it is difficult to say we have true equality if we continue with a Selective Service system that only requires compulsory service from men."

Said Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The chair of the committee is John McCain, and he had no comment yesterday, as a spokesman said President Obama supports requiring women to register for the draft.

Registering for the draft is a symbolic ritual... until the draft becomes real. Is the symbolism of equality worth it? The government, if it ever reinstates the draft, can opt only to call up the males on the list. So why not go for equality in the symbolism? Perhaps the better question is: Why put young people through this symbolic ritual? Or: Why discriminate against men, subjecting only them to the ritual?

As for an actual draft, compelling men and women into service, I have never been able to picture Americans accepting forcing their daughters into combat. But if you allow women in combat and you force women into service, would we tolerate a system in which, when it comes to combat, women have a choice and men do not?

(I've thought about these questions a lot, because Rostker v. Goldberg comes up in Conlaw2. That's the 1981 case that said males-only registration doesn't violate the Equal Protection Clause. And for the record: My mother was a WAC in WW2.)

"French President François Hollande announced Thursday that he will not run for re-election, citing his unpopularity and likely inability to garner enough support."

That's pronounced gar-NAY in French.

Hollande's popularity is at 4%. I just typo'd "poopularity" for some reason. Must be my French accent.
He is the first French president since the war not to attempt to run for re-election.

François Fillon, the right’s presidential candidate and the favourite to win next spring, said Hollande had “admitted with lucidity that his obvious failure stopped him going any further”. Fillon, who last week called Hollande’s presidency “pathetic”, said Hollande’s presidency was ending in a “political shambles”.
"The war" means The Second World War.

"In the back of my head, I can still hear my dad’s voice: 'Take your time, but hurry up.'"

The thoughts of a 29-year-old man, who, hunting for elk in Montana, "came upon a sleeping grizzly bear nestled in the dirt in the middle of the trail, all but concealed by foggy conditions and the animal’s muddy brown fur."
In the dim morning light, [Justin] Souza had strayed within 10 yards of the sleeping giant. The hunter’s presence did not go undetected, however. The grizzly stirred, lifting its head a little to get a glimpse of who had disturbed its slumber. Then, the bear put its head back down. Meanwhile, Souza backpedaled, putting distance and a tree between him and the grizzly. He flipped the safety off his rifle, just in case. The bear jumped up, but began lumbering away from the hunter, up the hillside. Souza relaxed. Figuring this was the final phase of the encounter, he took out his phone to capture a video clip of the retreating grizzly. But the bruin abruptly spun around, and barreled back down the hill, making a beeline toward the hunter.
In the video, the first second shows the great speed of the bear. The rest is only audio, but you can try to imagine where the bear is at the point when the first rifle shot is heard. Souza's breathing after the shots also fills out the story. The camera is shut off. He does not perform photography on the dead beast, but I bet you will go back to the beginning to see that second of live bear at least one more time.

"Souza said the bear huffed violently and lunged, blood pouring from its mouth in its final moments, still heaving as its inertia brought it sliding down the hill toward him until after the fourth and final shot."

Trump condemns bigotry in all forms and envisions an inclusive America premised on our own American dream.

I picked out this clip from Trump's Cincinnati "Thank You" rally. I wish I had a transcript. Perhaps later.

"People would understand if this were a proposal that would destroy the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem or the Temple Mount."

Said the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association lawyer about the proposal to build a ski resort in the place the Ktuxana Nation call "Qat'muk" — "where the Grizzly Bear Spirit was born, goes to heal itself, and returns to the spirit world."

If grizzly bears relocate out of this area, the Ktuxana believe that they will lose the guidance of the spirit.
[The developer of the resort] says he does not believe the resort would violate anyone's ability to believe in their faith or to practise it but is leaving it up to "constitutional scholars" to debate its impact on religious freedoms.
You probably don't believe there is any such thing as the Grizzly Bear Spirit, so bears leaving the area could not mean that any spirit has actually gone. The Ktuxana will not be stopped from believing anything they want to believe, but what they believe will change if the ski resort is built. The belief that the Grizzly Bear Spirit is there, benefiting them, will be replaced by a belief that Grizzly Bear Spirit has deserted them. So is it correct to say that the government, authorizing the building of the ski resort, puts a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion?

I don't know the details of Canadian law, but the case is reminiscent of the 1988 American case Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, in which the Yurok, Karuk, and Tolowa tribes failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that the government puts a substantial burden on their religion if it allows the building of a logging road in the Chimney Rock area of the Six Rivers National Forest, which the tribes hold sacred.

Obviously, these cases only happen because the Native Americans do not — not in a legal sense — own the land.

December 1, 2016

"This particular round of hostility between Reddit's leadership and the pro-Trump board began when Reddit banned r/pizzagate..."

"... a subreddit devoted entirely to supporters of a conspiracy theory accusing Democrats of running a secret child trafficking ring, headquartered in a Washington pizza shop. The New York Times and others have debunked the theory, which has only encouraged its believers to implicate those debunkers in the conspiracy, too. Reddit shut down the subreddit, which had a lot of crossover membership with r/The_Donald... The Trump-supporting subreddit has long accused Reddit of trying to censor them because of their political beliefs.... Over the past several months, r/The_Donald has been extremely skilled at exploiting Reddit's algorithms to spam the site with aggressive pro-Trump memes, conspiracy theories and inside jokes. Reddit had to change one of its algorithms over the summer to try to stop r/the_Donald from dominating the board that displays all of Reddit's content, known as r/all. [Chief executive Steve] Huffman said Wednesday that 'stickied' posts from r/the_Donald's moderators would no longer appear on r/all, at all... In response to Huffman's announcement, r/The_Donald's mods stickied a tweet from Lauren Southern: 'Soft quarantine for @thedonaldreddit & @reddit is acting like they're benevolent for not outright banning the sub.'"

From "Reddit to crack down on 'most toxic users' of pro-Trump forum."

ADDED: This news story made me look up  r/The_Donald. I started reading this discussion:
I don't like Trump, and I didn't vote for Trump... but I support T_D wholeheartedly for one reason. And that is because there have been numerous times in the past few months where the only place on this site where certain news stories were allowed was /r/The_Donald. I want a diversity of ideas and opinions, not an echo-chamber of my beliefs.

"University of Wisconsin-Madison officials say Chancellor Rebecca Blank doesn't have the authority to declare the school a sanctuary for students who entered the country illegally as minors."

"The Associated Students of Madison passed a resolution Wednesday calling on Blank and UW System President Ray Cross to declare UW-Madison and all system schools sanctuaries for students who entered the country illegally before President-elect Donald Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration."

Mattis is Trump's pick for Secretary of Defense.

Mattis is the one about whom Trump said:
"General Mattis is a strong, highly dignified man. I met with him at length and I asked him that question. I said, 'What do you think of waterboarding?' He said -- I was surprised -- he said, 'I've never found it to be useful.' He said, 'I've always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.' I'm not saying it changed my mind. Look, we have people that are chopping off heads and drowning people in steel cages and we're not allowed to waterboard. But I'll tell you what, I was impressed by that answer."

4 reactions to Trump's flag-burning tweet.

2 days ago, Trump tweeted:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
I've had a series of reactions:

1. Stern criticism of his disrespect for the right to freedom of speech: "Trump flaunts disrespect for American freedom of speech."

2. In an update to that post:
I see the way this — like that "millions of people who voted illegally" tweet — may be simply a trick to bait his antagonists and amuse his fans. It's just junk, a distraction, and it's funny the way we jump at what should be nothing. Does he think the presidency is his plaything, some kind of joke? To ask that is to be distracted, but from what? Perhaps from how serious he really is.
3. Observing that his tweet was effective in doing something he may have intended: Even more anti-Trump protesters will burn the flag, and their antics will be self-defeating.

4. Trump is the anti-Dukakis. He was doing exactly what Dukakis failed — disastrously — to do when he was asked the question  "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"

It seems like a crazy question, but I think it was intended to give Dukakis a chance to show that he was a human being, with genuine emotion. But Dukakis gave a legal, passionless answer: He's opposed to the death penalty. That is, making it personal doesn't change his answer: This is no time to show that I lose my mind when I feel deep anger.

I'm one of the few people who liked that about Dukakis. He stayed on track and proved his devotion to law. But just about everyone else seems to think he made a fatal error in not putting law to the side and showing his deep love for his wife and intense outrage at rape and murder.

Donald Trump, by contrast, reacting to some recent flag burning, not even confronted with a question, seized the occasion to get theatrically emotional about his love for the flag and his rage at its desecration.

Yes, there's important law that could be talked about, but he's not going there. He's the man of staunch feeling, not a robot like Dukakis.

People who obviously don't listen to Rush Limbaugh.

Catching up on Facebook, I ran into an article titled "Stop Calling People 'Low Information Voters" (by Claire Lehmann):
A pernicious term used for those who voted for Trump and Brexit is the “low information voter”....

In the Washington Post, the low information voter is defined as one who is more likely to respond to emotional appeals about issues such as the economy, immigration, Muslims, race relations and sexism. The Post goes onto [sic] explain:
Low information voters are those who do not know certain basic facts about government and lack what psychologists call a “need for cognition.” Those with a high need for cognition have a positive attitude toward tasks that require reasoning and effortful thinking and are, therefore, more likely to invest the time and resources to do so when evaluating complex issues.
In other words, low information people react quickly, trust their intuitions and shirk deliberative thought. High information people take the time to think things through....
The WaPo piece — written by 2 polisci profs — was published the day before the election, so it's kind of funny to read it now that the belief that Trump was about to go down is shattered by reality (speaking of information). The Lehmann article just came out yesterday. It's an interesting article. Worth reading:
This is one reason why charges of wholesale ignorance are so obtuse. “High information” people ignore evidence if it conflicts with their preferred narrative all the time. And while it may be naïve for voters to believe the promises of Trump and the Brexit campaigners — it has also been profoundly naïve for the cosmopolitan classes to believe that years of forced internationalism and forced political correctness were never going to end with a large scale backlash.
But what strikes me is that these people are exposing their complete lack of familiarity with Rush Limbaugh's powerfully influential radio show. Rush has been using the term "low-information voters" for years and years to refer to the people who are accepting the view of the world presented in the mainstream media (which he sees as thoroughly biased in the liberal direction).  If you're not up on Rush Limbaugh, but you're writing about American politics, then you yourself are low-information.

Today's the day I can read The Washington Post without hitting the paywall.

And what do I get? There was that puerile column about the Ohio State attacker, already blogged here.

Now, I'm poking around some more, and here's "I love your family. But I dread your joyous holiday letters."
After I finish the letter, I put it down on the coffee table, stare into space, open a bottle of wine and drink the whole thing. The next morning, the letter still splayed on the table, I realize it’s not just the image of a happy, still-together family that had unmoored me. It’s also the power of the record-keeping and the memories that such records evoke. I was never good at keeping records....
And here's "Does this haircut make me look like a Nazi?"

I read "I interviewed the Ohio State attacker on the first day of school. It felt important. Now it’s chilling" so you don't have to.

It's December 1st, so this link to The Washington Post won't hit the paywall, but consider whether you want to use your free access to read "I interviewed the Ohio State attacker on the first day of school. It felt important. Now it’s chilling." The "I" is an Ohio State student named Kevin Stankiewicz.

There's something irksomely twee about the headline. Is there really anything that once was "important," or is Stankiewicz humbly revealing that it felt important to him at the time? Is there anything about the text of the interview that is "chilling," or is it just supposed to be chilling to have access to some words from a man who later did something evil? That's what I'm wondering as I set out to read this on the theory that you're cagey about the WaPo paywall or you prefer Althouse reprocessings or both.

Stankiewicz needed material for the "Humans of Ohio State" feature in the student newspaper and he chose Abdul Razak Ali Artan because he was: 1. the first person he saw, and 2. sitting alone. Artan,  "surprised" to be chosen, was "friendly," open, "thoughtful," and "engaged."

Stankiewicz chose to focus on the problem Artan said he had praying on campus: He wanted to pray publicly, but "I was scared with everything going on in the media." According to Stankiewicz, Artan "ticked off examples of Islamophobia that garnered media attention." (The word "garnered" sets off my bullshit detector.) Artan claimed to worry that he might be shot if he prayed openly.

The interview was on August 23rd, and the summary of the interview ran in the student newspaper a few days later. That is, Artan began the semester surrounded by many students who'd read the piece and were probably moved to feel sympathetic toward him. There was a photograph of the distinctive-looking young man, enabling students to act upon a desire to help him feel included. I'd be interested in hearing from students who read the piece and, especially, students who interacted with Artan after feeling sympathetic because they believed he was sad, feeling like an outsider.

But we only hear from Stankiewicz, who tells us how he felt talking to Artan, which is that he had no access to the inner life of the man he experienced as "friendly" and "thoughtful":
There is nothing I heard from Artan that day that would have ever made me think he could be responsible for the brutal, senseless attack that would come just three months later. Nothing to indicate his thoughtful frustrations and fears would lead him to drive a car into a crowd of people on campus, that he would lash out with a knife at students and faculty, that he would make national news for what many believe was a terrorist attack. That he would be dead, shot by a police officer trying to prevent him from killing others.
Sentence fragments. Allowed by WaPo. Expressive of feelings of author. Clueless author who accepted polite exterior manifestations as evidence of another nice person looking for friends at college. Don't misjudge him. Stankiewicz wanted students to feel. Ironic, considering.

Oh, but Stankiewicz assumes he did see the real Artan that day. It's just that later the "thoughtful, engaged student I had met on the first day of classes... snapped."
I wished the whole day was a dream in the first place; I wished a gray Honda sedan never drove over a curb, struck a group of people, before being lunged at with a knife; I wished the sirens I heard on my walk to class were phantom. And then I wished — like I’ve never wished before — that the assailant was not Artan.
And then I wished that I was not reading The Washington Post. That I was reading a young adult novel. Because that's what this sounds like.

IN THE COMMENTS: Leland said:
Artan was shot while preying openly.

"Today, we mourn...."

I saw that at Facebook, shared by my son John.

November 30, 2016

Trump protesters take Trump bait.

"Protesters burned the United States flag outside of Trump International Hotel in New York City Tuesday, following President-elect Donald Trump’s suggestion that flag burners be jailed or lose their citizenship."

Isn't that why he said that — to get his haters burning flags, making themselves look bad? When I blogged Trump's tweet about flag burning, Yancey Ward commented: "And this is the explanation for his tweet about burning the American flag. Just watch what happens at every stop he makes."

ADDED: My more substantial blog post about the flag-burning tweet is actually here: "Trump flaunts disrespect for American freedom of speech."

Bob Dylan snubs Obama.

"Bob Dylan won’t be attending President Obama’s meet-and-greet on Wednesday with American Nobel Prize winners, the White House said."

ADDED: "Try to be pure at heart, they arrest you for robbery/Mistake your shyness for aloofness, your silence for snobbery..."

Mother Jones gets a fabulously expressive photograph and serves it up with an exuberant wine-glassful of snark.

Here's the link. You should click the image to enlarge to see the photo clearly and read the text, but I'll also copy the text. Here:
"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'"