June 28, 2017

Woman shoots a man to death with a .50-caliber Desert Eagle firearm and says it was his idea as a stunt for her vlog.

He was holding a book, and she says he believed the book would stop the bullet and that he'd already tested the bullet-stopping power of another book. 

Before the shooting, she had tweeted "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE."
[Monalisa] Perez told authorities that Ruiz had been trying to convince her "for a while" to shoot the book while he held it for a YouTube video.

Ruiz had set up a GoPro camera and another camera on a ladder nearby to record the stunt, according to the complaint. The two cameras — which recorded the shooting — have been secured as evidence for the investigation.
She shoots that .50-caliber gun from a foot away. Here's what that gun looks like:

How could he possibly have thought the book would protect him? But how can she be lying if there is 2-camera footage of the entire incident? She's charged only with manslaughter, so the authorities must believe her story, right?

The new Project Veritas video: Van Jones saying "That Russia thing is just a big nothing-burger."

WaPo's "What the latest James O’Keefe video leaves out" attests to the absence of unfair, out-of-context quotes.

Paul Farhi says "it’s what the video doesn’t show that may be as important as what it does," but I think what's most important is what Farhi doesn't put on his list of what's not in the video.

The omissions Farhi identifies are:

1. The video identifies the man on camera as John Bonifield, a "supervising producer," but fails to specify that he works on health and medical stories.

2.  The video fails to specify that Bonifield is based in Atlanta and "not in Washington or New York, where most of CNN’s coverage of national affairs and politics are produced."

3. The video doesn't say who the man making the video is or how he gained access to Bonifield.

See what's missing? There's absolutely nothing saying that Bonifield's statements were edited to distort or take anything out of context or encourage misinterpretation. There's nothing on Farhi's list that makes us feel we need the unedited footage to be fair to Bonifield and CNN. Every single thing is about additional facts that can be presented to us without access to the complete footage that Project Veritas holds in its possession.

These additional facts are perfectly easy for Bonifield or CNN or The Washington Post to share with us, including the identity of the Project Veritas operative and how he got access to Bonifield. Obviously, Bonifield knows that. According to Farhi:
People at CNN said Project Veritas’s operative was referred to Bonifield through a social-services organization in Atlanta called Rainbros that matches young adults with mentors. 
The link on Rainbros takes us to a website that says "Rainbros. Where Gay Gets Easier./Peer Coaching for Gay Atlantans/How can we help you make your life better?"

Farhi says: "Bonifield met the man in question about five times, and apparently was under the assumption that he was interested in a career in journalism." Yes, it's not very nice to use a mentoring service to get to some presumably kind-hearted person who is devoting his energy to (I hope!) helping young people. And this kind of trickery from Veritas is hardly surprising at this point, and we can talk about that. But I'd also like to know more about how The Washington Post and CNN get access to all the leakers that have been feeding the Russia craziness in the media that made the Project Veritas operation worth doing.

Let's talk about all of it. But let's recognize that Bonifield really made those statements and — from what I can see so far — there was nothing unfair about how they were presented in the edit we got yesterday.

"A man yelled 'Freedom!' as he crashed his vehicle into Arkansas' new Ten Commandments monument early Wednesday..."

"... nearly three years after he was arrested in the destruction of Oklahoma's monument at its state Capitol, authorities said."
In the video [on Michael Reed's Facebook page], the sky is dark and the Arkansas Capitol's dome is visible. Music is heard followed by a female voice, likely on the radio, saying, "Where do you go when you're faced with adversity and trials and challenges?" The driver is then heard growling, "Oh my goodness. Freedom!" before accelerating into the monument. The vehicle's speedometer is last shown at 21 mph (33 kph) and then a collision can be heard. Arkansas' monument fell from its plinth and broke into multiple pieces as it hit the ground. The debris had been cleaned up by midmorning Wednesday....

Arkansas' granite monument weighed 6,000 pounds (2,721 kilograms). It was installed Tuesday morning on the southwest lawn of the Capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice. A 2015 law required the state to allow the display near the Capitol, and a state panel last month gave final approval to its design and location.
By the way, in the Biblical story, Moses breaks the 10 Commandments tablets. Did you ever understand why? There are many explanations. Here are 4 explanations. 

Of all people, Phil Donahue says: "Don't be so sensitive." That's his advice to journalists who feel attacked by Trump.

"I think that the best way to handle this is to just keep working. Don't be so sensitive. Don't look like you have a glass jaw."

The MSNBC host, Stephanie Ruhle, seems to have no idea what "glass jaw" means. She asks, "What does that mean?" and Phil takes on the burden of mansplaining:
"That means you go down -- it's a boxing phrase, a boxer with a glass jaw is one who can't take a punch, goes down with a left jab instead of a right cross," Donahue explained. "And I think the press has to be above that. All you can do is pray that the people you serve will understand this and appreciate the job that you've got."
Speaking of mansplaining, do I need to 'splain my "Of all people"? Phil Donahue was the prototypical sensitive man

"'No jump, it’s important, no jump,' he said... But Ms. Mol, apparently misunderstanding his pronunciation, heard, 'Now jump.'"

"She threw herself from the ledge — and plunged to her death. The harness she was wearing had not yet been secured to the bridge."

From "Deadly Bungee Jump in Spain Could Lead to Criminal Charges" (NYT).

Vera Mol was 17. The bridge was 130 feet high.

"It’s been over 7 months since Trump was elected, yet my professors show no signs of putting their political digressions on hold."

"Because my English professors at Yale are largely liberal, the political message in my classes is always the same: Trump is a demagogue, American society is doomed, and English literature is our refuge. Liberal professors and students increasingly feel that it is their duty as professors and humanists to promote their vision of the political good. Meanwhile, the remaining campus conservatives have become less outspoken and remain fearful that they may suffer academically as well as socially for their views...."

Writes Finnegan Schick, who says he's "center-left, voted for Hillary Clinton, and... dislike[s]" Trump.

"But really, it would have been fine to skip this strange celebrity ritual, this complicated stew of personal indulgence, brand tending and sociopolitical me-too-ism."

"Yes, pregnancy is beautiful and powerful and worthy of celebration. You are womanly. You are phenomenal. God bless. But it has become virtually impossible for a celebrity to go through a pregnancy without getting naked for the cameras, her fans and — presumably — herself."

From "Let Serena Williams’s naked pregnancy photo shoot be the last of its kind," by Robin Givhan (in The Washington Post).

As Givhan notes, it all started with Demi Moore back in 1991. It was surprising then — unlike now — and it's never been done better. The photographer was Annie Leibovitz, who also did the Serena Williams portrait.

Givhan concludes:
But what is the broader value of the bared baby bump? Under the best of circumstances, pregnancy is a beautiful and life-changing experience. And every woman’s pregnancy is unique and captivating to her. But even if a woman is a celebrity, that doesn’t make her pregnancy newsworthy.
I'm not sure I agree. We could talk about the frivolity of our celebrity culture and the excess of vanity, nudity, and photography in American life today. But pregnancy is actually more important than we generally take it to be. It is our central purpose from a biological, evolutionary point of view. Our deep understanding of that reality pops out in weird distorted ways, but when we see the weirdness, we should take it as a cue to remember what we so often forget: We are all here because women carried babies in their bodies. Pregnancy is beyond newsworthy. By comparison, the idea of "news" is frivolous.

What books has Hillary Clinton been "losing [her]self in"?

"I finished Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, I devoured mysteries by Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd... I reread old favorites like Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, the poetry of Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver. I was riveted by The Jersey Brothers and a new book of essays called The View From Flyover Country, which turned out to be especially relevant in the midst of our current health-care debate."

New York Magazine reports.

Sorry, I can't seem to get beyond New York Magazine this morning. That's where I landed after starting out in the South China Morning Post. Somehow, I only told you about the beer cans in China. I could have told you about...

1. The "pro-democracy lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung" and his fight to keep from getting his hair cut while he's in prison.

2. The tourist who fainted when informed that the jade bracelet she just broke costs 300,000 yuan (US$44,110).

3. The 80-year-old lady who threw coins into a jet engine for good luck and got the flight delayed for hours.

4. The man who was fined for cutting the roof off his car to make it into a "convertible."

5. The thing that got me to that website in the first place (because it was linked at Drudge): "Police in Shanghai on Monday closed down an unlicensed fight between two teams – one led by a tai chi master and the other by a leading mixed martial artist – just weeks after footage of a similar, very bloody, contest went viral online."
In late April, Xu [fighter and promoter of mixed martial arts] scored a convincing victory over [tai chi master] Wei, after making controversial remarks about tai chi in which he said he wanted to “expose” its lack of merit.

“[I] crack down on fake things, because they are fake. Fake things must be eliminated. No question,” he was quoted as saying...

"I roll into the bar late but everyone’s too drunk to care. Mark introduces me to his friends. They’re instantly complimenting me..."

"... even his female friends. I’m cautious about women. Sometimes women get weird around attractive women — even the ones who are just as attractive."

From "The TV Reporter Wondering About Her Date’s Girlfriend" (in the "Sex Diaries" column at New York Magazine)

IN THE COMMENTS:  Known Unknown writes:
Still trying to find the point of the New York Mag story ...
And I say:
I read the whole thing and the point seems to be that life is best when "Nothing’s really going on," which was the time she spent part of a night "watching Shameless and eating... sesame chicken with fried rice and a vegetable egg roll." For the reader who worries that other people are living the real life and having the fun that she/he just can't seem to reach, the answer comes back clear: All that "fun" is not really fun at all, it's a horrid mixture of abuse and boredom, and you're not missing out at all.

"Dan Rather did a 60 Minutes segment on wellness in 1979... 'Wellness,' he said, 'that’s not a word you hear every day.'"

From "The Wellness Epidemic/Why are so many privileged people feeling so sick? Luckily, there’s no shortage of cures" (in New York Magazine).

Speaking of words you don't hear every day, I just learned the word "spoonies." Do you know about "Spoon Theory"?

Also, I didn't know that Arianna Huffington is involved in something called Thrive which sells products like a bed for your iPhone — a little wooden bed with satin sheets...
“You know, there is something so satisfying …,” Huffington explains one day in her crowded Soho office as she tucks her phone in beneath a satin sheet.
I think the answer to the question in the article title is: There are products to sell. (Here's that iPhone bed. It's $100.)

The #1 most-read article at New York Magazine is "Donald Trump Wears His Watch Way Too Tight."

"Judging by the photos, it looks like the president wears his watch this tight on purpose."

Video from China: Workers dunk empty Budweiser cans into a vat of beer in a factory that reseals the cans.

You see old cans — with the lids removed — lifted out of a cardboard box and submerged in a big tub of (presumably) beer by 2 women who are not even wearing gloves!

According to the article — in the South China Morning Post — people in China order canned beer because there have been exposés about the fraudulent refilling of liquor bottles. A can seems more reliable... seemed more reliable.

June 27, 2017

"Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for defaming her by publishing a statement about her that it knew to be false..."

"... that Mrs. Palin was responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011."
“Specifically, on June 14, 2017, The Times Editorial Board, which represents the ‘voice’ of The Times, falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Mrs. Palin incited Jared Loughner’s January 8, 2011, shooting rampage at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, during which he shot nineteen people, severely wounding United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killing six, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl.”
ADDED: I've removed my "lawsuits I hope will succeed tag." For reasons discussed in the comments, I think she should and will lose this case. What influenced me was a close look at exactly what the NYT wrote.

AND: Here's The Washington Post piece about the lawsuit. Note the aspect of the Times statement that it focuses on as defamatory:
“Before the shooting,” [the NYT editorial] read, “Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral district that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

The description was inaccurate. The map had put cross hairs over targeted electoral districts but not Democratic politicians. Following a wave of backlash on social media, the Times issued an apology and corrected the editorial, saying no connection between political incitement and the Arizona shooting was ever established.
That is, it's true that there was a map that used the symbolism of cross hairs, but only the geographic areas were "under" the cross hairs and the NYT falsely stated that human beings (including Giffords) were "under stylized cross hairs." That creates a mental image of a map with the faces of 20 people with cross hairs on them.

(By the way, WaPo has "a map of targeted electoral district," making the image of 20 targets hard to picture. There should be an "s" on "district.")

"CNN in hell" (See ya in hell).

Drudge links to "CNN’s Russia story debacle came at the worst possible time for the network" (WaPo).
Among its other high-profile debacles over the past month, CNN fired comedian Kathy Griffin, who co-hosted its New Year’s Eve program, after she took part in a photo shoot in which she posed with a bloody facsimile of Trump’s severed head. It corrected a story that wrongly predicted what former FBI director James B. Comey would say about Trump in his congressional testimony. And it subsequently canceled a new series, “Believer,” and fired host Reza Aslan after he described Trump in vulgar terms on Twitter....
ADDED: "The specter of a $100 million libel suit scared CNN into retracting a poorly reported story that slimed an ally of President Trump’s — and forcing out the staffers responsible for it, The Post has learned...."
Meanwhile, a CNN insider said staffers are furious at “having lost the moral high ground because of this story.” Sources said Zucker tried to rally his staff during a Tuesday morning conference call.

Your daily Mendota.


It's a 4-day streak now. Different every day. Not that different. But I'm keeping an eye on it for you.

MEANWHILE: Meade was mountain biking and texted me this:


Fake news about fake news.

Rush Limbaugh, today:
Three CNN members of the new investigative unit have resigned, i.e., been fired. One of them is a guy named Thomas Frank...  the name might ring a bell. This guy wrote a book way back when called What’s the Matter With Kansas or What’s Wrong With Kansas? He is an active, uber-leftist. He despises conservatism, and his book about What’s the Matter with Kansas, What’s Wrong With Kansas, was his befuddlement over how middle class Americans in Kansas would vote Republican and thereby vote against their own self-interest....
That caught my attention. What?! Thomas Frank — What's the Matter With Kansas Thomas Frank — was one of the 3 guys fired for the fake news on CNN?! That didn't seem right.

Later in the show, Rush was all...
You know, I was afraid of this. I know that there are two Thomas Franks, and I asked somebody to find out for me today, I was in a time crunch, and I said, “Find out for me if the Thomas Frank at CNN is the same Thomas Frank who wrote the book on Kansas,” and they came back, “Yes, same guy.” But I know there’s a second one out there. So now Snerdley is getting Drive-By calls saying it’s a different Thomas Frank. The author who wrote the book on Kansas is not the Thomas Frank who was on the CNN investigative unit and got blown out, fired, canned, resigned, what have you. So my bad. I thought I had nailed that down. There are two of ’em. One of them may be Franks, the last name may be Franks, Thomas Franks and Thomas A. Frank, I’m not sure which, but I know there are two of them. And I thought they were the same.
Well, how exactly are you better than CNN if you run with something without checking it out competently? I don't see how "I was in a time crunch" is an acceptable excuse.

By the way, Thomas Frank's newest book — "Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" — is excellent.

And as long as I'm talking about the 3 fired CNN guys, let me show you the ludicrous final paragraph of the Washington Post column by Eric Wemple, "Three CNN employees resign over retracted story on Russia ties":
Critics will long cite this episode as evidence that CNN is precisely what Trump has called it — “fake news.” Yet the departure of three journalists immediately following a mangled story provides a counterpoint to this particular slander. Purveyors of fake news, after all, don’t take drastic personnel moves following a bogus story. They rejoice in it.
They got caught! Publicly. They had to put on a show that they don't tolerate fake news. That's exactly what a purveyor of fake news would do.

"Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me."

"One is sometimes asked 'by what right' one presumes to offer judgement. Quo warranto? is a very old and very justified question. But the right and warrant of an individual critic does not need to be demonstrated in the same way as that of a holder of power. It is in most ways its own justification. That is why so many irritating dissidents have been described by their enemies as 'self-appointed.' (Once again, you see, the surreptitious suggestion of elitism and arrogance.) 'Self-appointed' suits me fine. Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me. I can’t be fired any more than I can be promoted. I am happy in the ranks of the the self-employed. If I am stupid or on poor form, nobody suffers but me. To the question, Who do you think you are? I can return the calm response: Who wants to know?"

From "Letters to a Young Contrarian" by Christopher Hitchens.

Samurai armor.

From the exhibit at the Chazen Museum:



You can talk about whatever you want in the comments. I'm ending the morning session of blogging before the sharpness, humor, and insight fade.

(May I just add a reminder that you can support this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal?)

"Keeping his own gray suit immaculate and his tone emotionless, O'Brien calls intermittently on a team of hazmat-suited torturers, issuing such concise instructions as 'Fingertips' or 'Teeth.'"

"Bursts of strobing light and jackhammer sound effects follow those orders, but even though we see the bloody aftermath and not the acts, the carnage is not for the faint of heart. Even worse is the ghastly anticipation fed by O'Brien's one vivid description of the ultimate torture, which plays on Winston's pathological fear of rats to make him surrender all sense of self.... There's no doubt that this imaginative production conveys the claustrophobic terror of a totalitarian state. But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

From a review of a New York play based on Orwell's "1984."

From "Why Broadway's '1984' Audiences Are Fainting, Vomiting and Getting Arrested":
The cast knew how the shocking scenes would be presented, but “it wasn’t until we got in front of an audience, when I saw and heard people responding, that I was suddenly aware of how powerful it was,” said Reed Birney, who has previously yelled back at a ticketholder who pleaded for his character to stop the torture. Meanwhile, Tom Sturridge, whose character bleeds heavily while being electrocuted, told THR that he makes a point of staring into the eyes of individual audience members, calling them “complicit” as they watch him suffer onstage.
That seems to be inciting audience members to come up on stage and save the character. I'm thinking of that protest at the "Julius Caesar" performance recently where a woman went up on the stage and denounced the performance. Here, the actors are breaking the 4th wall and begging the people in the audience for help.