July 27, 2016

Oh! The convention. Day 3. Do you care?

What's the point of Day 3? I don't get it. They've got to get the VP nominated, so there's one order of business. Other than that, it's a line-up of speeches, notably President Obama, but also the VP guys, Biden and Kaine. I'm a little curious about whether the convention will finally get around to the substance of the job of a President — notably national security. I'm tired of the celebration of diversity and the platitudinous assurances of commitment to equality. We're watching something else on TV for now — this — but I'm recording the convention and may get around to watching a bit of it. In the meantime, please let it rip in the comments.

Flight of the Pelikan/Drawing like Paul Klee.

Maybe you remember the series of blog posts, back in 2014, How to draw/paint like Paul Klee. I'd found the notebook about which I'd once written:
I have a notebook of drawings/writings done at a big Paul Klee show, done in London in about 2003, just before starting this blog. I'd like to copy the pages and blog it. I was analyzing/riffing on the... ideas that he used.

Wonder where I put that.
And I did a series of posts about what were really instructions based on particular works, including Lesson 7, which included: "using a single line lazy eight movement, make a tree in the center w/ suitable background." If I look back at the post now, I can see the actual Paul Klee work that led me to write that, but today, as I was sitting at the café with the old notebook, I saw only the instructions, and I loosely took the instructions to heart as I idly worked my new Pelikan pen into the pages of the old, old notebook as we carried on an elaborate conversation:



Does that seem absurdly unconnected to the instructions? First, those are efforts ##2 and 3. Here's #1:

The Trump press conference. I watched it.

Anything to blow a gasket about? Any bait to take?

Meade texts from the front yard.

Open thread... talk about anything.

"What stops us from looking at ourselves and seeing ourselves is that we’re kind of ugly, if we really, if we look really hard."

"We’re not who we think we are. We’re not, uh we’re not as wonderful as we think we are."

Said Bill Murray, back in 2014, in an interview with Howard Stern, quoted in a new NYT article — by David Segal —  titled "Confessor. Feminist. Adult. What the Hell Happened to Howard Stern?/Scattered among the gleefully vulgar mainstays are now intimate exchanges that have made Mr. Stern one of the most deft interviewers in the business."

That's one of the articles I read on my iPhone this morning before getting out of bed. I've had it in the back of my mind as something I might blog, and I thought of it just now as I was having a conversation with Meade about Bill and Hillary Clinton. The theory under discussion was that Bill and Hillary are not really of our generation but our parents' generation, even though they are only about half a decade older than us. What puts them in that earlier generation is that they don't believe in telling it straight and revealing their true selves. They think things need to be kept hidden and that what you say publicly needs to be a cover story. They never believed the 1960s credo Tell it like it is.

Why not tell it like it is? Let it all hang out — that's another 60s saying. I thought of what Bill Murray said: "What stops us from looking at ourselves and seeing ourselves is that we’re kind of ugly...." Not everyone thinks like that. "We’re not, uh we’re not as wonderful as we think we are." Not everyone thinks like that, but it is a way of thinking. You could also believe that everybody's beautiful. (Here's the song that plays in my head when writing that sentence.) You could take a flier on the belief that whatever you are is what you should be and it's perfectly good. What else are you going to do? You're you, and you're never going to be anyone else. Another 60s expression: Do your own thing. 

Did that make you think of Donald Trump? It seems that all roads lead to Donald Trump these days. And wouldn't you expect an article in the NYT about the greatness of Howard Stern as an interviewer would have something important about the Howard Stern interviews with Donald Trump, something as profound as the place where Howard took Bill Murray? Your NYT-mistrusting mind might be yelling at the computer screen: Not if it's anything that makes Donald Trump look good. Bill Murray was highlighted as the celebrity Stern opened up. If he opened up Trump in a similar way, we don't learn about from the NYT. Trump appears in the article, but only like this:
Mr. Stern...  is the same guy who, for years, traded misogynistic quips with anyone who was game, including, Donald J. Trump. In a 2005 phone interview, the two rated the looks of the cast of “Desperate Housewives.”

“Would you go out with Marcia Cross,” Mr. Trump asked, “or would you turn gay, Howard?”

“She’s got a good body,” he answered. “Just put a bag over her head.”
It's like one of those video  from the Democratic National Convention — those little videos displaying Trump saying something like "A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10" so you can sit there staring and hating....

"Bill Clinton had a very difficult job last night: He was tasked with making it seem like Hillary would have been the nominee even if she wasn't Mrs. Bill Clinton, the wife of the former Governor of Arkansas and the former President of the US."

Wrote Tommy Duncan, in the comments to the previous post.

That made me think of this section of Bill Clinton's big speech:
Meanwhile, I was still trying to get her to marry me. The second time I asked, I tried a different tactic. I said, "I really want you to marry me, but you shouldn't do it." She smiled and looked at me like what is this boy up to. She said, "That is not a very good sales pitch." I said, "I know but it's true." And I meant it. It was true. I said, "I know most of the young Democrats our age who want to go into politics, they mean well and they speak well, but none of them is as good as you are at actually doing things to make positive changes in people's lives."

So I suggested she go home to Illinois or move to New York and look for a chance to run for office. She laughed and said, "Are you out of your mind? Nobody would ever vote for me." So I finally got her to come visit me in Arkansas. And when she did, the people at the law school were so impressed, they offered her a teaching position. And she decided to take a huge chance.

She moved to a strange place, more rural and conservative than anywhere she had been. Where she knew good and well that people were wondering what in the world she was like and whether they could or should accept her. Didn't take them long to find out what she was like....
It takes a third asking before she agrees to marry him, but she's already moved to Arkansas and begun living with (near?) him. He's linked her up with a job at the law school where he works. Why would she go and teach in Arkansas if not to be with him? There's a way that you go about getting a lawprof position if that's what you want, and the normal thing to do is to apply to the best schools in the places where you'd be willing to live and to see how well you can do.

Any graduate of Yale Law School would know to do that if she wanted to enter academia. You wouldn't just snap up a job because Arkansas happened to see you when you were in town and threw an offer your way. Obviously, she was stepping down career-wise in order to be with Bill — a man whose offer of marriage she'd already turned down twice.

I know, it's only the story he tells, certainly not the whole truth and possibly hardly true at all, but I'm analyzing the speech. Bear with me.

Later, he buys a house and she — liking the house?! — accepts his offer of marriage, but it's the decision to bag her high-level career and exile herself in Arkansas that's really important, and look why she does it. It's the idea that in Illinois or New York, she'll have trouble establishing a power base, and not just because these places are big, but because "Nobody would ever vote for me." Why not? And what does that have to do with marrying her fortunes to Bill?

We know the answer to that question. It's the basis of the statement in the post title. She had a lot but she lacked something crucial, political charisma. She's still got that problem, even after all those decades of hard work and dogged desire. Bill was the magic missing ingredient, and she needed that in him. I know that last phrase looks like double entendre, but I only mean to dangle that in front of you for your amusement, not because I believe it's true that she wanted him sexually. She wanted his charisma in her, merged with her, giving her what without which Nobody would ever vote for me.

Maybe watching the convention on C-SPAN isn't such a good idea.

I thought that by watching on C-SPAN, I'd do more blogging, but I ended up blogging nothing, despite watching hours and hours of material.

Maybe what's on CNN and Fox and the rest is the real show, and what's going on in the hall is just the background, so if you stick with C-SPAN, it's like watching raw footage from a riot. How can you watch for hours and hours?

There was the roll call. I watched a lot of that. One lady was very old. The people from the Mariana Islands had floral headdresses. Bernie Sanders's older brother was there and said something about his parents that got Bernie very emotional. There was no outburst when Hillary crossed the line to nomination, which was puzzling, but then Bernie participated to stop the roll call and go straight to acclamation.

There was a long parade of people, mostly women, onto the stage, sometimes in great crowds. It was a big stage, so it took a long time for people to walk up to the lectern and then, after they'd said whatever, to walk back out. Lena Dunham was one of the people. Also Elizabeth Banks, a celebrity I'd never noticed before but decided was really pretty.

There were some short — great, something was short! — videos of Donald Trump, little hate nuggets. These began with a title — something like "Future Possible President" — on top of an American flag. They had these Monday night too, so those people who were saying there were no American flags to be seen failed to notice the flags that began the Trump videos. They'd have a clip of something Trump once said that was supposed to make you think a person who said that should not be President. The one I remember is: "A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10."

The most interesting thing chez Meadhouse last night was a discussion on the subject of how bad is it for a man to have said that. It's not like he said that in a political speech or interview. He just happened to say that once. I got rather literal about it. He didn't say this woman couldn't be a 10, just that it would be "very hard." And I note he also used "very" with the "flat-chested" part. The other 2 participants in the conversation, as I recall it this morning, didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with a man saying that, though all of us recognized that the statement has an effect on those who think a man should never express opinions about the attractiveness of women's bodies — whoever these people are.

The main thing last night — other than the ritual of the roll call (the cut-short ritual) — was a speech from Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was allowed to do his thing and talk and talk and talk. He went last and so: let Bill be Bill. Some people find him charming. But even those of us who do drift into when-will-it-end mode eventually or we've fallen asleep. Bill's idea for the speech was just to tell the story of his half century of life alongside of Hillary — tell it as if it's the most charming, beautiful tale of a guy from Arkansas who somehow got to weave his story together with the most hard-working do-gooder who ever appeared on Earth.

At Meadhouse, the feed got paused a few times to make comments about his failure to mention how he cheated on her time and again over the decades and how (we think) he's still doing it now. Was he never sexually attracted to her? Did they have an agreement about it and, if so, was it just don't let the public see what you are doing? These were topics of conversation during one of our many pauses.

You know, these pauses are only making the speech longer and longer and I'm falling asleep, the person not holding the remote control did not say, but she did fall asleep without hearing the end of The Wonderful Story of the Life and Times of Hillary and Bill Clinton. 

July 26, 2016

Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention.

Watch it with me. Hillary is nominated. That's the central fact, but there's got to be more going on here. Help me find something to talk about.

Lake Mendota, today.



"Historically, when Mr. Clinton does not have a job to do, he gets into trouble."

Writes Patrick Healy in a NYT article titled "A Worry if Hillary Clinton Wins: What to Do With Bill."
Putting Mr. Clinton to good use, while containing his less helpful impulses, would be a major test for Mrs. Clinton as president, given the spotlight and pressure they would be under and her limited ability in the past to rein in his excesses....

Given his insights and experience, Mr. Clinton could be more capable than anyone else in ensuring the success of her presidency – or he could cast a long shadow over her....

"Why did Hillary get rid of her middle name?... Hillary 'Rotten' Clinton... It's too close."

Trump didn't originate that — I can see Mark Levin using it back in 2007 — but I hadn't noticed it before Trump's little routine (which has some pretty expert comic timing, I think). 

Here's Scott Adams talking about it today: "Rotten cleverly incorporates all of Trump’s best labels for Clinton, including 'crooked' and 'no stamina.'"

"To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous."

Let's talk about what Sarah Silverman said. Here's my set of observations:

1. Silverman was not calling all Bernie people ridiculous, only the "Bernie or bust" people — only those who are so dedicated to a lost dream that they won't see the clear task at hand and do what needs to be done.

2. Silverman was ad libbing, not following a script. She and Al Franken had been told to stretch it, because for some reason the next person — it turned out to be Paul Simon — was not yet ready to take the stage. So we got something actually spontaneous. That's refreshing. Interestingly, it's something Donald Trump does all the time: Come out with unscripted expressions of his reaction to what's happening in the room right now. The attention to Silverman's remark gives some insight into why Trump has had such an effect on so many people.

3. Silverman's remark also hit people in an emotional place, I believe. Maybe not for everyone or quite in the same way, but what I think happened was: She assumed authority as the woman who can tell you what you need to be to measure up socially. If you've been caring about social acceptance and being part of the group — and maybe you've been feeding off of a communal feeling of being in the Bernie crowd — you're suddenly taken aback and warned that you could lose your inclusion. The people who matter think you are an embarrassment and you might find yourself, once again, on the outside. The meaning in life that you found with the Bernie people could be lost if you don't shape up and act the way The Lady says you must act.

4. The downside of her remark is this: The Bernie people — some/many of them — had been having a deep personal experience of awakening into and living in idealism. Something amazing and spiritually rewarding seemed to be happening to them. A wide world of potential seemed to be opening up. And now they are brought up short as Sarah tells them what felt real to them is just a childish thing that needs to be put aside. Join the real world, you starry eyed fools. So all that idealism, what was it? Were we chumps to believe? Were we exploited all along for our propensity to believe? And now you insist that we believe something else? Why? If we were a bubble and you popped the bubble, what are we now? Nothing! And Sarah's beautiful face morphs into the face of the witch who's been horrifying us all this time and she's laughing at us...

5. As noted at #2, the need for the stretching occurred because Paul Simon wasn't coming out on cue. Why would an old performer — one with much experience at live shows — have difficulty getting out there? Look at him and ask yourself what went wrong:

Maybe he didn't want to do it. He was for Bernie. He gave his beautiful song "America" to Bernie to use in the best (save one) political ad I've ever seen. Maybe Paul was close to being Bernie-or-bust and was busting back stage. But it wandered out eventually and struggled through that song that's not really written for his voice, but for Art's. Maybe he didn't want to lay himself down as a bridge — a bridge to Hillary. That's not the lofty spiritual destination over the bridge in that song. How, after all these years can he give that song to her? What a pale, debased repeat of giving "America" to Bernie! Ah, poor Paul! How dreary and sad the song sounded. Nothing like the exquisite inspiration of "America" given to Bernie. In the comments, coupe had said: "Bernie's not an idiot. He has millions of dollars in outstanding campaign bills to pay off. He's going to say whatever is necessary to get the DNC and Clinton to pay them off." And Meade wrote this parody of Paul Simon's "America":
"Let's not be suckers, we’ll marry extortions together
I’ve got some emails right here in my bag"
So you'll pay all of my campaign debts and I'll buy your Wall Street lies
And we'll walk off and sell out America
6. Proofreading, I'm surprised to see I wrote "it wandered out eventually." Ah, poor Paul! Drained of his soul! Ah, poor Bernie people, drained of their soul! Your soul was just something The Party was using until it became an inconvenient encumbrance. Shed it now. You look ridiculous.

If Donald Trump showed equivalent disrespect for the rule of law, he would be lambasted, but Bernie Sanders can say...

"Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United and end the movement toward oligarchy in this country. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment."

And you don't hear a peep.

And I don't mean "peep" in the sense of "My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."

And if you don't understand what I'm referring to by the shorthand in the post title, let me remind you of the way every Supreme Court nominee since the Bork debacle has presented himself or herself in the confirmation hearings — notably Justice Ginsburg:
At her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeatedly explained that the judicial obligation of impartiality required that she give “no hints, no forecasts, no previews” about how she might “vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide.” As she declared in her opening statement:
A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.
Sanders is saying that Hillary Clinton will ensure that her nominees will forthrightly parade what Ginsburg called disdain for the entire judicial process.

"Oh! Elizabeth Warren just did a Nazi salute, waiting for the breathless indignation from the media."

"Well if Laura Ingraham gave a Nazi salute then so did Elizabeth Warren. But I'm guessing we won't hear about that in the media."

July 25, 2016

"For the last year, I’ve been feeling the Bern. Relax, I put some cream on it."

Said Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention tonight.

It made me say, quoting the old Bill Clinton line, "Put some ice on it."

I don't think they meant to evoke that. Maybe it was only me.

After all the talk of how much Democrats care about women and the children they tend to, Al Franken ended his speech in a very discordant way.

"Many of you have jobs. Many of you have families. Ignore them. Let me tell you something: kids love it when their parents aren't home. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old knows how to use a microwave. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old can teach a 4-year-old how to use a microwave. That's just scientific fact. They'll be fine."

I know it's humor. It just hit me the wrong way. I didn't like joking about neglecting children.

"There is only one person" who is "truly qualified" to be President — Michelle Obama says — "and that is our friend Hillary Clinton."

Why say that to all the Bernie supporters in the room? He's not even qualified to be President?

And Democrats been criticizing Donald Trump for saying "I alone can fix it." As Chuck Todd said, interviewing him on "Meet the Press" yesterday:
One of the phrases you used, "I alone can fix it." And to some people, that sounded almost too strong-mannish for them. Do you understand that criticism and what do you make of it?"
Michelle Obama just said the same thing about Hillary.

Amid great disunity, the new DNC chair calls for the "Unity Report."

The newcomer chair, Marsha Fudge, struggles with the disorder at the Democratic National Convention:

I'll Keep It With Mine...



(Today, at Collectivo.)

"Hundreds of supporters of Bernie Sanders drowned out the Vermont senator with boos Monday..."

"... as he tried to make the case on the first day of the Democratic National Convention that his fans would need to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald J. Trump."
[T]he crowd remained fixed on their support of Mr. Sanders and not on the idea of defeating Mr. Trump. Over and over again they chanted, “We want Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.”

The reaction from Mr. Sanders’s supporters was consistent with the anti-Clinton message delivered by demonstrators earlier in the day. Some pro-Sanders protesters took a harder turn on Monday, chanting “Lock her up” in an echo of the message of the Republican National Convention a week earlier, fueled by the resignation of the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
 ADDED: Trump reacts: