November 26, 2016

"Trump should counter with targeted recounts of all the close states that went to the Dems AND should recount all the blue states like CA, NY, MD, IL that give the Dems the popular vote win."

"Demand that all the mail in and absentee and .mil votes are counted. See if the popular vote can be whittled down. Challenge all the Dem votes where two national votes may have been counted (e.g., snowbirds).”

At the Blue Stripe Café...

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... share your evening thoughts.

And forgive me for prompting you again to turn your "Black Friday"-weekend thoughts toward my Amazon Portal. I do appreciate the encouragement and support as I traipse off into retirement....

Screen grab from Memeorandum...

"When this patient loses his pulse... instead of trying to coax the heart back into activity, the surgeon will start pumping the body full of ice-cold saline at a rate of at least a gallon a minute."

"Within twenty minutes (depending on the size of the patient, the number of wounds, and the amount of blood lost), the patient’s brain temperature, measured using a probe in the ear or nose, will sink to somewhere in the low fifties Fahrenheit. At this point, the patient, his circulatory system filled with icy salt water, will have no blood, no pulse, and no brain activity. He will remain in this state of suspended animation for up to an hour, while surgeons locate the bullet holes or stab wounds and sew them up. Then, after as much as sixty minutes without a heartbeat or a breath, the patient will be resuscitated. A cardiac surgeon will attach a heart-lung bypass machine and start pumping the patient full of blood again, cold, at first, but gradually warming, one degree at a time, over the course of a couple of hours...."

From "CAN HYPOTHERMIA SAVE GUNSHOT VICTIMS?/A new procedure freezes trauma patients who are bleeding out in order to buy time to operate."

Experiments have been done with dogs and pigs, but how do you ethically try this on a person? Will the ethicists waive the usual consent requirements?

"The historical record says that the initial wave of molasses moved at 35 miles per hour... which sounds outrageously fast."

"At the time people thought there must have been an explosion in the tank, initially, to cause the molasses to move that fast," said Nicole Sharp, an aerospace engineer and science communications expert, who worked on a study of the Boston molasses flood of 1919. A 40-foot wall of molasses killed 21 and injured 150 more were left injured. No one had previously worked out the equations, accounting for the viscosity of molasses in cold weather.
If the tank had burst in warmer weather, it would have “flowed farther, but also thinner,” Mr. Rubinstein said. In the winter, however, after the initial burst — which lasted between 30 seconds and a few minutes, Ms. Sharp said — the cooler temperature of the outside air raised the viscosity of the molasses, essentially trapping people who had not been able to escape the wave.

"While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long..."

"... and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty."

From Donald Trump's statement on the death of Fidel Castro

The idea of "a move... toward a future" resonates with what Fidel's brother Raul Castro said about the death: "Ever onward, to victory."

The tendency, for everyone, is to think that whichever way they're headed is forward.

But there are some people who speak of "taking our country back," which sounds like a journey into the past. Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again" seems to express the same sentiment, but it's reframed — carefully, I think — to give the feeling of looking into the future.

Up at 5:30, 5 morning posts published by 7.

I put on my hat and coat and walked downtown. 35°. Black coffee at the State Street Colectivo....

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... used that green-and-black fountain pen to make 4 drawings in that little Moleskine. (Amazon links added to remind you to show some love for this blog — if you feel any — by using my links and my Amazon Portal.)

Back home by 10, having walked 3.8 miles according to the iPhone app. The town looked pretty deserted. Few signs yet of the football game that hits the neighborhood at 2:30 today. A couple of folding chairs set up in a parking lot ready to accommodate tailgaters. I see Nebraska lost yesterday, which means the Badgers have clinched the Big Ten West title whether we beat the Gophers today or not.

It's the second to the last weekend of the semester, my last semester, and I'm going over all the retirement-related paperwork. I fret about getting that right but have no anxiety about the looming prospect of not working. I wonder how much to write about how I feel. Maybe this is a subject to be discreet about, because other people need to work. But what about the people who are hanging onto work? Eh! I can't assume their experience would be like mine. Some people like the structure of work or need some kind of affirmation that comes from participation in the workplace. A retired colleague once said to me, very sadly, that if you retire, you become "irrelevant." I don't remember what I said. Probably just something nice, but I've thought about his remark and his sadness, and the funny thing is it's irrelevant! I don't remember ever arriving at the idea that I was relevant in the first place, and losing relevance feels like a strange thing to worry about. If I examine it from an angle that suits my frame of mind, it looks like liberation.

"I’m nervous. I’m leaving with nothing. But I have to do this. Otherwise, we will just die here hungry."

From "Hungry Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse."

ALSO: From the November 14th issue of The New Yorker, here's "VENEZUELA, A FAILING STATE/Once the richest country in South America, it now has the world’s highest inflation rate and is plagued by hunger and violent crime. How did this happen?" by William Finnegan. It begins with a description of the horrific conditions in a hospital. Excerpt:
In 1961, Venezuela was the first country declared free of malaria. Now its robust malaria-­prevention program has collapsed, and there are more than a hundred thousand cases of malaria yearly. Other diseases and ailments long vanquished have also returned—malnutrition, diphtheria, plague. The government releases few statistics, but it is estimated that one out of every three patients admitted to a public hospital today dies there. State mental hospitals, lacking both food and medications, have been reduced to putting emaciated, untreated patients out on the streets.

Things I just want you to know I've seen.



Link to Memeorandum.

"My grandparents’ generation, which benefited a lot from him, will feel very strongly. In my parents’ generation, there is also still a lot of loyalty."

 "In my generation, you’ll see more differences. In a large portion of the young people, what you will see is apathy."

From a NYT piece about how young people in Cuba are reacting to the death of Fidel Castro.

There's another post linking to the Castro obituary. Please limit comments here to the subject of generational differences in reacting to a big political event. You don't have to limit yourself to reactions to the death of Castro.

In fact, let me get the expansion going in a good direction by adding something from the November 13th episode of "This American Life," which was about reactions to Trump's victory in the American election. We hear from Janelle, a young black comedienne, who says that "all the older black people" she's talked to are not surprised that Trump won. The mother does not speak on the radio show. We're not told the specific age of the mother or daughter, and we only hear the daughter's presentation:
I called her thinking she would be even worse than me, and she was so chill that it was surprising. I called her, and I was like, can you believe this? And she was like, you know where we live.... It's kind of resigned. I feel like that's how black people are. We're just like, this is how it's gonna be. And you get little moments of reprieve. Like, I guess Obama here and there. But it always comes back. Like, we're just always waiting for the shoe to drop. And it's an ever-present thing that we have to deal with, this feeling of being just always, this [BLEEP] is dangerous is how I feel, you know. [BLEEP] surrounded..... Whereas maybe before, I had forgotten. That's what happens. You forget. And then this [BLEEP] happens. And you're like, oh yeah. We know where we live, like my mother says. Like, that's basically what she was saying, like, oh, you forgot.... It just calmed me down. I'm not, like, oh, now everything's going to be fine. I'm still like, people are just on alert.

"To an amateur, a drive around the 3.5-mile [Yas Marina Circuit] feels like riding a roller coaster."

"It snakes through a stadium in front of five grandstand areas that are high above the track. Fences and walls are immediately at trackside. A tunnel leads from the pit lane to the track. There is a unique runoff area beneath a grandstand, and even a trip through a vast colorful hotel, the Yas Viceroy, which is built over the track.... The race... starts late afternoon under the sun, and finishes under the stars, with darkness falling quickly. That, in the desert island setting, means there is a large drop in temperature, often by as much as 15 degrees Celsius, or 27 degrees Fahrenheit, which affects the track surface and therefore the tire grip...."

A racetrack in Abu Dhabi. If I'm reading between the lines correctly, this is a terrible racetrack.

"But beyond anything else, it was Mr. Castro’s obsession with the United States, and America’s obsession with him, that shaped his rule."

"After he embraced Communism, Washington portrayed him as a devil and a tyrant and repeatedly tried to remove him from power through an ill-fated invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, an economic embargo that has lasted decades, assassination plots and even bizarre plans to undercut his prestige by making his beard fall out. Mr. Castro’s defiance of American power made him a beacon of resistance in Latin America and elsewhere, and his bushy beard, long Cuban cigar and green fatigues became universal symbols of rebellion.... In a 1985 interview in Playboy magazine, he was asked how he would respond to President Ronald Reagan’s description of him as a ruthless military dictator. “Let’s think about your question,” Mr. Castro said, toying with his interviewer. 'If being a dictator means governing by decree, then you might use that argument to accuse the pope of being a dictator.' He turned the question back on Reagan: 'If his power includes something as monstrously undemocratic as the ability to order a thermonuclear war, I ask you, who then is more of a dictator, the president of the United States or I?'"

From the very long obituary in the NYT for Fidel Castro, who has died at the age of 90.

November 25, 2016

"We're sorry for the swearing/And we're sorry to be crude...."

But Flo & Joan are really "cunting angry," and it's all because of 2016:



Via Metafilter, where it's also pointed out that Donald Trump has read a book:
In 2012, [Rick Santorum] was the runner-up to Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primaries. Ensconced since then in a Washington, D.C., law firm, Santorum had written a book that attracted little attention: Blue Collar Conservatives, Recommitting to an America That Works. But Trump had read the book, very carefully, in fact, and was intrigued. He called Santorum and asked if he would come to Trump Tower for a visit.....

Santorum agreed, of course—he was thinking of making another run at the White House, using that playbook. (He did, but got bum-rushed early in the primaries.) Trump then surprised Santorum even more by questioning him on details of his book and economic policy in general. What could be done with trade policy to help the working class? Was there any way to turn around the massive bilateral trade imbalance with Beijing? Could the White House be used as a bully pulpit to pressure American companies to stop sending manufacturing offshore? On and on they went, and Santorum left the meeting wondering what might happen if you mixed the power of celebrity with a blue-collar tent revival....

At the Blue Line Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please do think of using The Amazon Althouse Portal for any on-line shopping you might need to do.)

"One researcher... clocks inner speech at an average pace of 4,000 words per minute—10 times faster than verbal speech."

"And it’s often more condensed—we don’t have to use full sentences to talk to ourselves, because we know what we mean. But it does maintain many of the characteristics of dialogue. We may imagine an exchange with someone else, or we may just talk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a conversation. Our minds contain many different perspectives, and they can argue or confer or talk over each other. 'We are all fragmented... There is no unitary self. We are all in pieces, struggling to create the illusion of a coherent "me" from moment to moment.'"

From "The Running Conversation in Your Head/What a close study of "inner speech" reveals about why humans talk to themselves."

ADDED: If thought-speech really runs 10 times faster than spoken-speech, then 6 minutes of thinking on your own is like an hour of talking with someone else. Assuming the substance and quality of the word flow are exactly the same, it's just way more efficient to think.

There is an obvious up-side to talking with someone else: You're getting feedback and new input, and you're feeling the warmth and excitement of the presence of another human being. To think of the up-side is immediately to see the downside: The quality of what the other person has to say might not be so wonderful, and the relationship might not be so good. And if your mind is talking to you at 10 times the speed of what your interlocutor is saying, how exasperating! The other person will seem hopelessly slow, and you want to interrupt.

But this new statistic — I wonder if it's really true — could help you to become a good listener. Realize that the other person isn't really only 10% as smart as you. It just feels that way, because you're thinking and he's speaking. Tell yourself: I should be having 10 thoughts for every one this seemingly tedious person gets out, and if I don't, I'm the slow one.

This subject reminded me of the much-reported research that supposedly showed that highly intelligent persons are happier with less socializing and more time to themselves. The 10 to 1 ratio is for one individual: The conversation in your head goes 10 times as fast as your spoken word. But what's the ratio between the speed of your thoughts and the speed of the speech of that person you're stuck talking to? If you are a highly intelligent person talking to somebody average, maybe the ratio is 100 to 1. No wonder the HIP wants to stay home and read.

Ah, reading. That's another topic entirely. Just because your thought-speech is fast doesn't mean you're reading that fast. I would hypothesize that a HIP might read slowly because his own thought flow is overwhelming the process of eyeballing words on the page. What is the ratio of the speed of the words generated in your mind as you read? Perhaps some people produce 10 thought words for every word on the page they manage to absorb. Maybe HIPs have a 100 to 1 ratio. Takes him all day to read a blog post.

Speaking of great Christmas ads with a Trump tie-in....

There's this (an ad for a British department store)...



... which became this....

"We all laughed when my sister said it was Apple’s way of welcoming Trump to 'their' village."

Writes JSD in the comments to my post asking you what you did for Thanksgiving and referring to this Apple commercial that aired during football games yesterday:



Watching the commercial with JSD's sister's idea in mind, I couldn't laugh, because you'd have to see the commercial first and then hear the punchline. With the order reversed, I had more of the experience of sweet poignancy that the ad's designers originally intended, but with a new deeper level. The monster is Trump.

If the original intent of the ad had anything to do with using a monster because of Trump — who has been called a monster — it must have been with the idea that Trump would lose, and the alienated losers would need reintegration into Hillary Clinton's America. In that vision, the little girl who screws in the green light represents the young women of America who symbolize the future and show the monster the way to join the group. Stronger together.

By the way, I saw a chalking on campus a few days ago. Should have photographed it, but I memorized it: "Safe together/Strong together/Resist together." I'm not 100% sure that "Strong" was the right word or that the first 2 lines were in that order, but "Resist together" was definitely the punchline. I thought that was funny. After Hillary and her supporters lectured us for so long about how we needed to be together to be strong, she loses the election and oneness loses its luster.

"Resist together" is the perfect oxymoron for the occasion.

I saw fewer articles than usual on the subject of how to get along with your politically annoying relatives on Thanksgiving.

Did the media actually back off on this perennial topic or did I manage to avert my eyes? There was more reason to draw attention to it, because of the election, but maybe that's why it was avoided: It's no longer viewed as lighthearted subject but a matter of somber suffering. Or maybe it's that these ultra-predictable holiday stories are written in advance, and the shocking election results made all the pre-written stuff useless. It would have been about how to gently soothe-taunt your loud-mouth, Trump-loving uncle. That sort of thing. And task of finding fun and pop-psychology advice in the scenario in which said uncle got what he wanted was just too surreal and daunting.

Anyway, how did your Thanksgiving proceed? Did you have a big family gathering, and if so, was it Norman-Rockwellish (with smiles and love) or Slate-Magazinish (with political strife)? Or did you ignore Thanksgiving or observe it completely alone? Or did you, like me, spend it with one other person? If alone or with only one other person, did you try to make the experience resemble a big-family Thanksgiving or did you do something nontraditional? We ate steak and — I am not kidding — binge-watched "BoJack Horseman."

Speaking of gray... it's Black Friday.

Won't you please think of me — if you enjoy this blog and want to encourage me — and do your on-line shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal?

You can always find the "portal" link up in the blog banner, and the search box in the sidebar also works to send a contribution my way (without upping the price on that item you were going to buy anyway).

Thanks to all who've been using my Amazon links!

"Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey..."

That's from the first text that I ran across looking for evidence to support my theory — stated in the comments to "A Gray Walk" — that "grey" is a better spelling than "gray":
I like the spelling "grey" because it expresses the meaning better. The letter "a" looks happier to me — maybe just because of my name — and "e" looks dreary. 
As the commenter who raised the subject observed, "grey" tends to be preferred in the U.K. and "gray" is the American preference. The important thing, for blogging purposes, is to pick one and stay with it. The key is consistency within a single work, and I picked "gray" early on in this 12-years-and-counting project — probably under the influence of Crayola. And looking for a photo of "gray" on a crayon label, I see that I've blogged about this before, in a post with the evocative title "50 Shades of Gary."

Anyway, the quote in the post title is the beginning of "To Build a Fire." Wouldn't it seem less foreboding if Jack London had written "Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray..."?

And test this one, from "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe (whose middle name should have been Allen).

"On a chair lay a razor, besmeared with blood. On the hearth were two or three long and thick tresses of grey human hair, also dabbled in blood, and seeming to have been pulled out by the roots."

or

"On a chair lay a razor, besmeared with blood. On the hearth were two or three long and thick tresses of gray human hair, also dabbled in blood, and seeming to have been pulled out by the roots."

"She was the 10th child of a tobacco sharecropper of Irish descent."

"Florence Agnes Henderson was born Feb. 14, 1934, in the small town of Dale in southern Indiana."

Goodbye to Florence Henderson.

Just the other day, I was listening to the Broadway channel on the satellite radio in my car, and they played "Cockeyed Optimist" from the 1967 revival of "South Pacific," and I was blown away by how great it was, even by comparison to the next song they played, the very famous and beautiful Shirley Jones performance of "Till There Was You" (from "The Music Man").

Maybe you know these 2 Broadway stars better from the way they came across on 1970s television  scaled down into the role of perfect mom. If I were 10 years younger, I'm sure I'd have a closer emotional connection to "The Brady Bunch" and "The Partridge Family." I'm more of a "My Three Sons" and "The Monkees" person (to name the first 60s counterparts to those two 70s shows that spring to mind). I didn't even have a TV in the early 70s. And not because I was snobbishly avoiding having one. We tightly conserved our money back then, and buying a TV did not make the cut. We substituted radio. I remember listening to the Watergate hearings and the 1973 World Series on the radio.

Anyway, I was so impressed by Henderson's singing of "Cockeyed Optimist." I wish I could find video of the performance, but you can listen to the audio at the link above, and you'll just have to picture her in character as the Navy nurse from Arkansas, in the South Pacific during WWII, who falls in love with a rich French widower and has to learn to accept his mixed-race children.



I have heard people rant and rave and bellow/That we're done and we might as well be dead/But I'm only a cockeyed optimist/And I can't get it into my head....

November 24, 2016

A gray walk...

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... out to Picnic Point.

Trump victory is good for business... in this mask factory in Japan.

"I am not a racist and my voters are neither. They are people who want their country back and who are sick and tired of not being listened to."

"If you convict me, you will convict half of The Netherlands. Many Dutch will then lose the last bit of trust in the rule of law.... The court is being abused to settle a political score."

Said Geert Wilders, addressing the 3-judge panel who will decide whether to find him guilty of insulting a racial group and inciting racial hatred. At a political rally, he asked the crowd whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands." They shouted "Fewer! Fewer!" And Wilders said: "We're going to organize that."

I saw this in the email yesterday but sloughed it off as some hucksters using Trump's brand.



But no, it really is a brass-and-gold Christmas tree ornament in the shape of a Make-America-Great-Again hat sold for $149 by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

I had to give it a second look after John linked to it at Facebook.

But let's think about this. Is it shocking hucksterism that says something about Trump in particular? Hillary Clinton had — still has — her on-line merchandise store, and she's got Christmas-themed stuff:



But you might say, the "ugly sweater" is a long-standing Christmas tradition and since when is there a Christmas hat? Why would there be a Christmas tree ornament in the shape of a hat?! And yet there are standard Christmas-related hats that one sees as ornaments: the Santa Claus hat, the elf hat, the top hat that makes Frosty the Snowman come alive. And there's a long tradition of making Christmas ornaments to represent a particular type of person for whom the household might feel some love: a sailor hat, a U.S. Army combat uniform hat, a chef's hat, a cowboy hat, an Air Force military hat, construction worker's hard hat. And as some crazy testament to the Christmasiness of hats, there's Cthulhu with Santa hat:



Now, don't be so prissy about Christmas. And by the way, why don't we ever see Jesus wearing a hat? Hats are kind of a big deal in religion, no? Here, George Carlin has an opinion on religion and hats:

"This is a progressive disease. And I thought, 'We've gotta deal with this, and we've gotta get out of the way to deal with it.'"

"So we came up with the idea of 'The Last Waltz.'"



40 Thanksgivings ago.

"It's my prayer that, on this Thanksgiving, we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one country, strengthened by a shared purpose and very, very common resolve."



Very, very common resolve. You see why that's funny? I don't mean that it's so far from what Americans are ready to do after this hard-fought election — which just the other day Trump himself called "18 months of brutality in a true sense." And I don't mean to gesture at the accusations of fascism that could seek confirmation in calls for national oneness.

I mean the double "very" before "common resolve." He's clearly using "common" to refer to equally shared resolve. There are no levels of intensity to "common resolve." To put "very" — or "very, very" — in front of "common" undercuts the intended meaning and makes it seem more like the "common" that could have levels of intensity, which is inferior, cheap, low-class, or vulgar.

"Once you grasp the geographical spread of Trump’s interests, it is hard to see how the potential conflicts of interest could ever be resolved."

"Take the Middle East, a region of the world that every modern American President has had to focus on. According to the Post, in addition to the Trump-branded real-estate development in Turkey, Trump has business ties to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, two oil-rich countries that have funded radical Islamic movements. And, just last year, Trump registered eight companies named after Jeddah, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia. It’s not just that Trump won’t be seen as an honest broker in the Middle East. He wouldn’t be seen as broker of any kind but as a principal and business partner of some of the region’s repressive governments and their cronies. Even if, for the duration of his Presidency, Trump were to put his businesses into a properly independent trust, run by business executives not connected to him, the Trump-owned and Trump-branded companies would still be generating income for the President and his family. He and his advisers would know that. The governments of the countries where the companies are located would know that. And so would the rest of us."

Writes John Cassidy.

November 23, 2016

"Demographics, Not Hacking, Explain The Election Results."

Write Carl Bialik and Rob Arthur at FiveThirtyEight.
We’ve looked into the claim... and statistically, it doesn’t check out....
I'm skipping a lot and jumping to the last paragraph, which is funny and fascinating:
It’s possible nonetheless that the election was hacked, in the sense that anything is possible. (And the best hackers are experts in erasing their tracks.) Maybe hackers knew which control variables we’d look at and manipulated the vote in a way that it would look like it was caused by race, education and population driving different voting preferences....
Yeah, in the future, we need to expect some really sophisticated hacking. I'm glad they brought that up.

"Puns are threatening because puns reveal the arbitrariness of meaning, and the layers of nuance that can be packed onto a single word."

"So people who dislike puns tend to be people who seek a level of control that doesn’t exist. If you have an approach to the world that is rules-based, driven by hierarchy and threatened by irreverence, then you’re not going to like puns."

Writes John Pollack — author of "The Pun Also Rises" — quoted in "Why Do Puns Make People Groan?/The once-exalted form of wordplay takes a lot of heat these days."
“I think another question to ask that’s just as relevant is why is sarcasm considered cool by the same people who often decry puns as uncool?” he asks. “Both are a way of saying one thing and meaning another. In an age of cynicism it’s safer, socially, to tear something down through sarcasm or irony than it is to build something up through punning.”
ADDED: Here's a well-reviewed card game based on puns: Punderdome.

If you've been enjoying the Althouse blog...

... please remember, as you do your Christmas and other shopping, that you can make a contribution to this enterprise by entering Amazon through The Althouse Portal, which is always up there in the banner, or using the search box in the sidebar. When you use it, you channel money to the blog called Althouse without paying anything more for the items you were going to buy anyway.

If you're looking for something useful and nice, here's what we just bought and have been using many times a day — a panini press, replacing the also-excellent panini press I knocked off the counter at a spot where, if things fall, they don't just fall the distance from the counter to the floor but from counter through to the floor of the next story down. The thing was sturdy, but not that sturdy. I've gone without a panini press for years, as if I didn't deserve another one after my terrible carelessness and had to be punished. But I've served my sentence, and after years of deprivation, I can finally, once again, enjoy freedom of the press.

"Betsy DeVos is a brilliant and passionate education advocate. Under her leadership..."

"... we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families."

Said Trump, appointing DeVos as Secretary of Education.

ADDED: From Chad Livengood, Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein in The Detroit News:
In 2000, Betsy and Dick DeVos funded an unsuccessful statewide ballot initiative to amend the state Constitution to allow tax dollars to be used for private school tuition through education vouchers. They have since advocated for school vouchers in other states.

In 2012, Dick DeVos led the charge in getting the Legislature to make Michigan a right-to-work state, eliminating work rules that made financial support of unions a condition of employment for teachers in public schools.... 
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also praised DeVos as an “outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.” Bush said “she has a long and distinguished history championing the right of all parents to choose schools that best ensure their children’s success. Her allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next.”...

"He was dignified, hilarious and modest. He told me that I’d sometimes been unfair to him, sometimes mean, sometimes really, really mean..."

"... but that when I was he usually deserved it, always appreciated it, and keep it up. He spoke of other things; he characterized for me my career. I’d heard of his charm offensive, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say how charming, funny and frank he was—and, as I say, how modest. How actually humble. It moved me. And it hurt to a degree a few weeks later when I wrote in this space that 'Sane Donald Trump' would win in a landslide but that the one we had long seen, the crazed, shallow one, wouldn’t, and didn’t deserve to. Is it possible there are deeper reserves of humility, modesty and good intent lurking around in there than we know? And maybe a toolbox, too, that can screw those things together and produce something good?"

Said Peggy Noonan after that time — 6 weeks ago — Donald Trump got on the phone with her.

Kind of vulnerable to flattery, isn't she?

Anyway, yeah, let's hope Donald Trump can screw us together... in a good way.

This NYT article — "How Conservative Sites Turn Celebrity Despair on Its Head" — seems as though it might be fun for Trump's non-haters.

This is by Amanda Hess. It's a promising topic. But let's dig into it. Here's the set-up:
While the angry tweets, therapeutic Instagram testimonials and fiery speeches may comfort their fans, these left-leaning celebrities are also inadvertently energizing the opposition. 
Energizing. There's that word. It came up in that big NYT interview with Donald Trump. The executive editor of the NYT, Dean Baquet, asserted that Trump had "energized" the people who attended that "alt-right convention in Washington this weekend" and asked Trump if he feels that he's "said things that energized them in particular." Trump accepted the word and simply said "I don’t want to energize the group.... and if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why."

But I'm thinking "energize" is a word that's having its day as an expression that works to create a sense that one person is responsible for what someone else does. A said X and B did Y. You couldn't say A caused Y, but you might say A energized B. It's vague, but it might feel incisive. And it's a way to tangle A up in demands to denounce B or explain why A didn't lead to Y. I'm going to keep my eye on this word. It might lull people into believing things are more connected and people are less autonomous than they really are.

Now, back to Amanda Hess, who took care to put "inadvertently" before her "energizing." The celebs are trying to reach people who, they assume, feel the way they do. But others can see it too, and they expose themselves to mockery. Rich, privileged folks can look pretty silly making a spectacle of their despair over the results of an election.
Conservative news outlets — most notably Breitbart News Network, the right-wing populist enclave — are perfecting the art of sapping Democratic stars’ name recognition and repurposing their words and actions into pro-Trump material....
And it's not just Breitbart, it's also "nimble, often nameless online aggregators who quickly churn through popular culture and throw the most evocative stories to their readers, often without much commentary." Well, yeah, I know how that works. That's what much of the best of blogging does. But I say very short commentary can be great. Twitter is a testament to the fun of bouncing off of some news story.

Hess seems most interested in Breitbart (presumably because Breitbart connects to Steve Bannon and that gets us to Trump). Hess calls attention to a Breitbart piece — which seized upon a Dunham Instagram — "'Grieving' Lena Dunham Seeks Answers in Arizona Wilderness After Trump Win."

Hess endeavors to make this ridicule of Dunham seem ominous. Considering Bannon's closeness to Trump, "calling attention to Ms. Dunham’s Jewish faith feels like a bone thrown to the site’s white nationalist readers." Okay, let's go to the Breitbart article and see that bone in person:
In a separate post on Wednesday, Dunham said she had spent days “grieving” over the “loss of our country and the woman who inspired us,” comparing her experience to that of the “shivah,” a Jewish mourning ritual.
The NYT article doesn't give a link to the Breitbart article. I got that for you myself. I think it's a safe bet that the vast majority of NYT readers assumed that Breitbart gratuitously inserted a reminder that that Dunham is Jewish, but the article doesn't even say Dunham is Jewish. It just quotes an Instagram of hers describing her grieving over the election in terms of a Jewish ritual. You don't even have to be Jewish to decide to talk about 7 days as a good period of mourning after which you "emerge from darkness" and "create light." Making fun of Dunham's treating an election loss like a death in the family is pretty far from anti-Semitism, but see how it's close enough to energize an accusation of energizing?

Another Breitbart piece highlighted in Hess's article is “‘Depressed’ Robert De Niro: Trump Election Makes Me ‘Feel Like I Did After 9/11.’” Lefty celebrities are serving up darkly hilarious bilge that doesn't even need rewriting to be funny. If I'd noticed that one, I'd have just used the quote and identified the author. It wouldn't have needed any commentary at all. Just showing it to you would have been enough to carry the message that I thought it was terrible and terribly funny.

And Hess knows that:
The real ideological action is undertaken by the audience, whose members read between the lines of these culture pieces and then scribble in the margins. 
Scribble in the margins. That's you, dear commenters. So, say what you will. I'm energizing you. And believe me, I have been attacked repeatedly — even by some of my own colleagues — for the things you say in the forum I've created.

But maybe his philosophy is "I have not worries" about everything.

"ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — Dalai Lama: 'I have no worries' about Donald Trump's election as U.S. president."

Oh, New Yorker....

In the sidebar at The New Yorker at a link I opened yesterday:



Maybe this sort of thing is getting you a lot of clicks, but have some self respect and show a little depth for those of us who are not eating up junk food like this.

From the article at that link, "THE MOON JUICE GOSPEL OF SELF":
“There is a cosmic calling and powerful movement here to push us forward as a race. . . . That’s what Moon Juice really is—not just a product or a place but rather a healing force, an etheric potion, and a cosmic beacon for the evolutionary movement of seeking beauty, happiness, and longevity.”

Not long after I read that passage, it became clear that Donald Trump would win the Presidency. Coastal élites went to bed, resigned. I kept reading: about the restorative powers of mesquite and reishi, and the benefits of coconut fat. I have never felt so radiantly out of touch with America... What place would Green Shakes, “moon-dusted” with cordyceps, have in the new America?...

I think with shame of myself a few weeks back, biking home from yoga, eleven-dollar juice in the basket, willfully editing out the Trump sign on my neighbor’s lawn. As the election has taught us, personal bliss does not trickle down; it’s a pool we gaze into till we drown.
What place do New Yorker readers have "in the new America"? If only the election had gone the other way, you could have kept searching for your own personal bliss in the lightweight nonsense of food sprinkles? You could have still kept smug over ripping out other people's lawn signs? At least you admit you have a problem, and thank Trump for that.

ADDED: The author of the quoted New Yorker article is Dana Goodyear, but the author of the quote within the quote, the owner of Moon Juice, is Amanda Chantal Bacon. I'm amused that the line "a cosmic beacon for the evolutionary movement of seeking beauty, happiness, and longevity" was written by someone named Bacon. From Bacon to beacon, and maybe we need to get back from beacon to bacon.

Vouching for Reince Priebus: "I met no one with as few pretensions, arrogances, and agendas as he had. He truly was a real 'Wisconsin' guy."

Here is an email from someone I know to be utterly trustworthy and distinctly perceptive, who doesn't want her name here but has authorized me to publish this:
I just read your post linking to the NYT article.
She's talking about the November 21st post that highlights a quote from a NYT article by Mark Liebovich, "Reince Priebus, Normalizer in Chief":
For all his well-honed sheepishness, Priebus’s 'just a kid from Kenosha, Wisc.' shtick belies a penchant for main stages, big-ticket rooms and high-level company. No shortage of Reince Priebus photos hang on the walls of the R.N.C.’s headquarters on Capitol Hill. He can be a little star-struck. He travels far and often to appear with candidates and party dignitaries at events where his presence is not necessarily required. Priebus was giddy when I spoke to him last spring as he prepared to attend a party for Time’s '100 most influential people' at Lincoln Center. We were on the phone, him walking through the lobby of the J.W. Marriott after a packed day of fund-raising. He sounded almost out of breath, less from exhaustion than what seemed like pure excitement. He told me how stoked he was to meet the golfer Jordan Spieth and the pro-wrestler-turned-actor the Rock. 'Those are my top two,' Priebus said, especially the Rock. 'I was a big pro-wrestling fan back in the day,” he added, noting his childhood admiration for Hulk Hogan and Mad Dog Vachon.' 'Growing up in Kenosha, Wisc., being named to the Top 100 list is a pretty cool thing,' Priebus told me. At this point, I reminded him that no national party chairman would ever be named to the Top 100 except in extraordinary circumstances like these — and these were not particularly enviable ones.
My emailer, who had been a student at my law school, the University of Wisconsin Law School, was provoked to write this:
In August 2000 (after finishing my clerkship) I joined Priebus's firm, where he was a senior associate working as a tax attorney.

He was one of the fellows designated to train and mentor the newbies. I met no one with as few pretensions, arrogances, and agendas as he had. He truly was a real "Wisconsin" guy. He made people feel like a welcome part of the family. Although I initially bristled at firm work, Reince had a welcome, sincere "GOLLY! Welcome to the team" kind attitude. Sure, he's likely been tainted by politics, but my gut trusts him.

Wisconsin to the core. Kind of like Bo Ryan was (and not like Barry Alvarez).
ADDED: I fixed a few mistakes in the email. Notably, I changed "without as few" to "with as few."

IN THE COMMENTS: Lawyerly said:
I joined that same law firm a year later and remained for many years after that, including the year he was promoted to partner. My assessment of Reince was exactly the same. It's been remarkable watching his ascent.

In my view all those photos hanging in his office aren't hung boastfully but more in the manner of a giddy 12 year old who has managed to get his picture taken with his favorite sports heroes.

I believe he is a genuinely humble person, which has contributed to his success by allowing him to identify strategies with no mind for personal gain, and to pivot quickly away from strategies that aren't working without shame or regret.  

November 22, 2016

"Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump..."

New York Magazine says.
The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private....

The Clinton camp is running out of time to challenge the election. According to one of the activists, the deadline in Wisconsin to file for a recount is Friday; in Pennsylvania, it’s Monday; and Michigan is next Wednesday....
What does it mean to say there is "persuasive evidence" that something "may have" happened? The "may have" takes the edge of urgency off "persuasive evidence." I've read the short article at the link and doubt that the idea will tempt Clinton to pursue a challenge.

ADDED: "Shame on Liberal Journalists For Running With Baseless Election ‘Hack’ Story":
There is only one “fact” cited in the original NY Mag piece that would point to hacking, and that was immediately debunked by actual experts (per Nate Silver it doesn’t even “pass the sanity test,” Dave Wasserman calls it “pathetic”). Remarkably, the NYDN piece repeats the sole “evidence” of hacking, and then completely debunks it two paragraphs later....

So Clinton’s vote was down 7% in Wisconsin counties with electronic voting… and counties with electronic voting were also the ones most likely to vote against Clinton. In other words, literally nothing is suspicious about the election results.

Trump met with NYT editors, reporters, and opinion writers today.

Here are the live-tweets from the event. The most interesting subject was the alt-right:
Dean Baquet asks if Trump feels like he did things to energize the alt-right movement. “I don’t think so, Dean,” Trump replies....

Trump: “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group. It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why."...

On Bannon: "If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn't even think about hiring him."...

Asked point-blank about Nazi conference in DC over wknd: @realDonaldTrump tells @nytimes "of course" "I disavow and condemn them"
Here's the NYT article from a few days ago about the conference referred to above: "White Nationalists Celebrate ‘an Awakening’ After Donald Trump’s Victory."
In the bowels of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, three blocks from the White House, members of the so-called alt-right movement gathered for what they had supposed would be an autopsy to plot their grim future under a Clinton administration. Instead, they celebrated the unexpected march of their white nationalist ideas toward the mainstream, portraying Mr. Trump’s win as validation that the tide had turned in their fight to preserve white culture.

“It’s been an awakening,” Richard B. Spencer, who is credited with coining the term alt-right, said at the gathering on Saturday. “This is what a successful movement looks like.”...

Mr. Trump has shrugged off any suggestions that he has connections to the alt-right. But his hard-line views on immigration and his “America First” foreign policy have captivated members of the movement. His appointment as chief strategist of Stephen K. Bannon, who has called Breitbart News, the website he long ran, a platform for the alt-right, has reinforced the notion that the incoming president is on their side....
Here's the Mother Jones article in which Steve Bannon is quoted as saying — referring to Breitbart.com — "We're the platform for the alt-right." How can that be squared with Trump's statement today that if he thought Bannon were alt-right, he wouldn't even consider hiring him? Bannon could deny ever saying that, or he could clarify that when he said it, he intended the term"alt-right" — which is new and not crisply defined — to be understood in a broad sense and not the more restrictive sense that you can tell Trump intended when he threw "alt-right" into the garbled phrase "a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use."

Trump's instinct to disavow and condemn was good politics. He'd have been slammed over any hesitation. He's seen that before. He must know he doesn't want to give his antagonists any material that could fit the he's-a-racist template they're eager to impose. It wasn't worth making any nice distinctions about the scope of the term "alt-right." Best to leave that to be sorted out later.

"I'd have liked to tell her something which encompasses the sadness I feel that she did not win..."

"... but somehow tell her that in a way which didn't rub salt in any wounds. I'd have liked to give her something...."

A passage in my casebook that I've read many times struck me as funny this year — after the presidential election.

I'm preparing my class using my all-time favorite casebook —  "Religion and the Constitution" — and I got to this passage in the section about teaching evolution. I'll boldface the thing that hit me in a new way:

I am not happy with tagging in Facebook.

It's one thing for someone who knows and loves me to include me in a discussion, as John sometimes does, but I do not accept someone starting a new post and aiming it at me through the use of a tag where it is on some political topic that they seem to think they can summon me to talk about, especially when they have created the appearance that I am answerable to something because of what I wrote in another place. Talk to me in that other place! By starting a new post about something ugly and tagging me as if it relates to me, you are bullying me. Tagging like this is wrong. If you didn't realize that before, I forgive you for what you did. But you need to think hard about how to use Facebook tags. They can be experienced as hostile. That's what happened to me.

(Cross-posted with Facebook, which I have set to private. I'm not seeking additional friends there.)

Trump speaks directly to the people with a no-frills YouTube video.



Stylistically, this is startlingly primitive. YouTube may be up-to-date technology, but it's always had a DIY feel to it. You can propagate very polished video with it if you want and as Trump did in his final campaign ad. But this new message has the stilted, unrefined look and sound of a middle-of-the-night infomercial on cable TV. That doesn't mean this is not a slick move. The decision to go rough can be slick.

The new message is the second video posted on a new YouTube channel called "Transition 2017." (Those of you who love to say Trump is a narcissist who can't resist slapping his name on everything should observe that the word "Trump" does not appear in the channel name.) The first video was the cheesy "My Dad," which is good if you like photos of long-haired blond boys and sentimental, tinkly piano noodling.

Oh, do you want to talk about the substance of the message? Below is a transcript to help you with that. What's most important is what's left out, which can be hard to notice. So, I'll just say: immigration.

A 3-judge federal panel finds that the Wisconsin legislature gerrymandered to the point of violating the Equal Protection Clause.

The NYT reports. The unusual federal jurisdiction here begins with 3 district court judges, followed by Supreme Court review. The Supreme Court has never found any political gerrymandering to violate the Equal Protection Clause, and some of the Justices even reject the theoretical possibility of a violation.
Several election-law scholars said the ruling was especially significant because it offered, for the first time, a clear mathematical formula for measuring partisanship in a district, something that had been missing in previous assaults on gerrymandering.

The 2-to-1 ruling by the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin said that the Legislature’s remapping violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it aimed to deprive Democratic voters of their right to be represented. “Although Wisconsin’s natural political geography plays some role in the apportionment process,” the court wrote, “it simply does not explain adequately the sizable disparate effect” of Republican gains in the State Assembly after the boundaries were redrawn.
The Western District of Wisconsin includes Madison, where the "natural political geography" is heavily Democratic. One way gerrymandering is done is by deliberately packing extra Democrats/Republicans into a district instead of spreading some of them around into districts where that party could become competitive. But Madison is a political unit that traditional principles of districting would keep together. So when is the party in power taking too much advantage — and how much should courts be trusted to push back that advantage?

In this case, the court was split 2 to 1. I would expect the Supreme Court — with its new Trump appointee — to reverse the decision. But I haven't yet read the case, and I'm wondering about this innovation that is the "clear mathematical formula for measuring partisanship."
Courts have generally agreed that some partisan advantage in redistricting is tolerable, in part because voters themselves are not spread equally across a state or district by party. But the plaintiffs in the case, 12 state Democrats represented by the Campaign Legal Center, had argued that the Wisconsin remapping was among the most sharply partisan in the nation.
But isn't that because Democrats have gerrymandered themselves by living in Madison and Milwaukee? I can believe we are the most sharply geographically partisan state in the union. It didn't take power-grabbing legislators drawing new and devious lines to make that so. It can be partly or mostly the behavior of people choosing where to live and being like-minded with our neighbors.
Their lawsuit said that in the 2012 elections for the Assembly, Wisconsin Republicans won 48.6 percent of the two-party vote but took 61 percent of the Assembly’s 99 seats.
That's like the way Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the presidential election: Democrats crowd together in smaller parts of the overall territory. The math doesn't prove the lines were drawn aggressively to take partisan advantage. The state lines never move, and we see, in the national election, the effects of the people who are Democrats gerrymandering themselves. I'm skeptical of this "clear mathematical formula" as a measurement of what happened in the minds of the line-drawers.
In Monday’s ruling, the court was swayed by a new and simple mathematical formula to measure the extent of partisan gerrymandering, called the efficiency gap. The formula divides the difference between the two parties’ “wasted votes” — votes beyond those needed by a winning side, and votes cast by a losing side — by the total number of votes cast. When both parties waste the same number of votes, the result is zero — an ideal solution. But as a winning party wastes fewer and fewer votes than its opponent, its score rises.
That's simple, all right, but I'm very suspicious of the way that it is simple.

"Stunning! Dow hits new high of 19,000 as Trump rally continues."

That's the headline at CNN Money.

I guess that Trump's attack on the media worked. He's getting fawning headlines from CNN — a day after "He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars."

Anyway, it's nice for the market to be up.

"Six months ago Governor Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together."

"The media has speculated on a lot of different things, and since I don’t talk to the press, they go as they go, but I was not behind pushing out him or his people."

Said Jared Kushner, talking to the press.

Leaks from the off-the-record Trump summit with press honchos: "It was a fucking firing squad."

Some source tells the New York Post:
“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing-down,” the source added.
A second source said:
“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room, calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars”...
At least 2 of them lied about keeping the discussion off the record.

ADDED: I wonder if Trump has a recording of this. I'm assuming that he expected there to be leaks, and that he would have taken steps to preserve the entire discussion so that he could defend himself by giving the larger context when leaks highlight material that would tend to be whatever damages him the most.

I haven't researched the journalistic ethics of off-the-record conversations or the extent to which the non-journalist in a conversation should also feel bound by the off-the-record agreement, but my instinct would be that if a journalist leaks part of an off-the-record conversation, the interlocutor is entitled to present the rest of it. Complicating the question here is that there were 30 or 40 journalists in the room, all committed to preserving secrecy, and it looks as if only 2 of them violated the agreement.

The Clintons have "been through enough" Trump reportedly says, and Kellyanne Conway confirms that his administration won't pursue a criminal investigation.

This sounds like the right approach to me. I don't like the victor in an election using his new power against the person he defeated. I said the same thing about the idea that Barack Obama should pursue criminal charges against George W. Bush. You might remember me standing up to forcible pushback by Jane Hamsher (of FireDogLake) back in September 2008 (who couldn't believe that I, a law professor, didn't believe in enforcing the law to the last letter):



As for the Clintons, don't forget that House Republicans have had their investigation going for quite some time. If Trump really did want the Clintons prosecuted, it might make the best sense to look as though it wasn't his agenda at all, but a longstanding effort in Congress that is simply taking its proper course. But now that Hillary Clinton has suffered the shocking defeat in the election, will the House keep up that work? I see a report from November 13:
Following Donald Trump’s Election Day win, GOP legislators in the House will no longer focus their energies on investigating Hillary Clinton, according to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy....

“Look, I’m the majority leader, I set the agenda,” McCarthy told Fox News. “The agenda is going to be about job creation, it’s going to be about reforming and repealing Obamacare. It’s going to be on infrastructure. That’s the focus that this election was about.”...

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, pledged to press on with investigating Clinton just two days before Trump’s surprise win in the general election. “We’re going to keep after this until we get to the truth,” Chaffetz told Fox News. “We don’t have it yet.”

Low-tech Twitter: Carrying a document with the print showing as if you don't know and allowing a photograph you know the press will zoom in on.

I'm seeing "Maybe Next Time Use the Folder/What we can read is bad enough. What stuff is Kris Kobach obscuring?" Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is standing next to Trump, who, we're told, is considering Kobach for the Secretary of Homeland Security post.

That's via my son John at Facebook, who says:
I have a feeling Democrats and Republicans are about to switch positions on how bad it is to be extremely careless with national-security information....
My response was:
Maybe I didn't read every word of that Esquire article, but I don't think there's any basis for thinking this is a classified document and you have to consider the possibility that they expected and wanted people to zoom in on the document. It's an interesting way to get people excited about whatever text you're trying to purvey. It's viral. Beyond tweeting.
If you're interested in the substance of the accidentally/accidentally-on-purpose revealed document, that's my point. We're not naturally hot to read documents. But here's what the little secret/not-secret theater dramatized:
•"Update and reintroduce the NSEERS screening and tracking system (National Security Entry-Exit Registration System) that was in place from 2002-2005. All aliens from high-risk areas are tracked."

•"Add extreme vetting questions for high-risk aliens: question them regarding support for Sharia law, jihad, equality of men and women, the United States Constitution."

•"Reduce the intake of Syrian refugees to zero."

November 21, 2016

At the November Café...

P1110963

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"You know, listen, I'm old fashioned about my entertainment. I just like to go to be entertained. If I want politics I'll go to a town hall meeting."

"I'll turn on cable news. There's lots of outlets you can go to get politics even the issues and ideas that you disagree with. A play for the vice president-elect of the United States who was there with his family to get booed tells you how far gone civility is in America.... This is the vice president-elect of the United States. They should want him to be successful. They should want his family to feel welcome in anywhere they go in the United States like everybody should want to feel welcomed anywhere in the United States. And it starts with a small thing like not booing the vice president-elect of the United States and not having a cast come out and lecture somebody who probably paid 800 bucks to be there.... I hope they give him his money back."

Said former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers on "State of the Union" yesterday.

I didn't think Pence should have been singled out and lectured to from the stage when the audience — which had booed him earlier — seemed so hostile. His physical safety was in issue, and that introduced an element of intimidation and bullying that the people behind the show probably didn't intend but should have been more sensitive about. The people in the audience who booed were creepy and cowardly — in their safe space and (probably) believing themselves to be the good people.

But Mike Rogers sounds like a fool talking about the theater as a place that owes you politics-free entertainment — where you pay your money and they owe you a pleasant, happy, relaxing time. Whose theory of theater is that? Rogers calls himself "old fashioned" as if he's relying on a traditional view of the role of theater in human culture, but where the hell did he get that?

Even shows aimed at children raise unsettling matters that question and challenge the audience about things that can be political. I'm not going to go down the rathole of the politics of "The Lion King." And you can, on your own time, read this New Yorker article, "The Politics of 'Annie.'" ("[Annie] wanders into a Hooverville—a shantytown whose jobless denizens (proto-Occupiers?) sing a sarcastic ode to the outgoing President....")

But "Hamilton" is a musical that is on its face about politics. How in hell could it be a night of lightweight, relaxing amusement? That wouldn't be good. You have to be lying or a fool to assert that you paid for tickets to "Hamilton" and felt entitled to a politics-free experience.

And Rogers slotted in an appeal to "civility." You know what I always say: Appeals to civility are always bullshit. Rogers himself is doing politics, and if the politics cut the other way he'd be praising free speech and parsing the language of the from-the-stage lecture for respectful intelligence. 

(For what it's worth: Mike Rogers was kicked off the Trump transition team last week.)

Is this the "fake news" I keep hearing about?



That's the NYT website right now.

Ironically, one of the key stories — "How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study" — is about the "fake news" problem, which is presented without any sign of self-recognition. The "case study" is, of course, a story that benefited Trump.

"I see kids being challenged and encouraged to do things that I have never seen kids encouraged to do in the U.S.... and a lot of equipment that would be considered risky."

Said an American who teaches in Japan, where the elementary schools provide unicycles for the kids to ride at recess.



ADDED: This story made me remember this passage from Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir" — about being an American kid the 1950s:
In such a world, injuries and other physical setbacks were actually welcomed. If you got a splinter you could pass an afternoon, and attract a small devoted audience, seeing how far you could insert a needle under your skin—how close you could get to actual surgery. If you got sunburned you looked forward to the moment when you could peel off a sheet of translucent epidermis that was essentially the size of your body. Scabs in Kid World were cultivated the way older people cultivate orchids. I had knee scabs that I kept for up to four years, that were an inch and three-quarters thick and into which you could press thumbtacks without rousing my attention. Nosebleeds were much admired, needless to say, and anyone with a nosebleed was treated like a celebrity for as long as it ran.

"For all his well-honed sheepishness, Priebus’s 'just a kid from Kenosha, Wisc.' shtick belies a penchant for main stages, big-ticket rooms and high-level company."

"No shortage of Reince Priebus photos hang on the walls of the R.N.C.’s headquarters on Capitol Hill. He can be a little star-struck. He travels far and often to appear with candidates and party dignitaries at events where his presence is not necessarily required. Priebus was giddy when I spoke to him last spring as he prepared to attend a party for Time’s '100 most influential people' at Lincoln Center. We were on the phone, him walking through the lobby of the J.W. Marriott after a packed day of fund-raising. He sounded almost out of breath, less from exhaustion than what seemed like pure excitement. He told me how stoked he was to meet the golfer Jordan Spieth and the pro-wrestler-turned-actor the Rock. 'Those are my top two,' Priebus said, especially the Rock. 'I was a big pro-wrestling fan back in the day,” he added, noting his childhood admiration for Hulk Hogan and Mad Dog Vachon.' 'Growing up in Kenosha, Wisc., being named to the Top 100 list is a pretty cool thing,' Priebus told me. At this point, I reminded him that no national party chairman would ever be named to the Top 100 except in extraordinary circumstances like these — and these were not particularly enviable ones."

From "Reince Priebus, Normalizer in Chief/As Trump’s new chief of staff, the lifelong G.O.P. loyalist will have to guide an outsider president and his band of radicals through a city they’ve pledged to upend" — by Mark Liebovich in the NYT.

ADDED: This post brought email from a former student who became an associate in 2000 at the law firm where Priebus worked. I published her email in a new post, here.

"Poll: Trump's popularity soars after election."

Reports Politico.
Forty-six percent of voters now have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the president-elect. Twelve percent have a somewhat unfavorable opinion and 34 percent have a very unfavorable opinion of him.... Trump’s favorability has grown 9 points, 37 percent to 46 percent, compared to a Morning Consult poll right before the election -- while his unfavorability has dropped 15 points, from 61 percent to 46 percent.
Why do you think this happened? It might be that the accomplishment and glory of getting elected cast a bright glow on the man and made a lot of people think he looks pretty good. It might be that people process election results and move past the conflict of the campaign and that the common natural impulse is toward serenity and hope for the future. And it might be that the hostility and over-dramatic acting-out by Trump haters backfired, driving people right into the plush, beefy arms of President Trump.

IN THE COMMENTS: The first commenter, reacting to the last sentence of the post, asks "Hmm, why would it do that?" I answer:
You have to ask why because you don't understand the counterproductive phenomenon you are part of. If you understood why, you might do something else. But go ahead, keep doing what is not working and wondering what the hell just happened. It's part of what I'm finding so funny in post-election American life.
And tim in vermont says:
My wife voted against him, but all of this nonsense is making her rethink it and she is actually defending him. She rolls her eyes now when she gets off the phone with some of her friends.

"I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion."

Writes Pope Francis. Abortion remains "a grave sin," but "there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father."

Strong woman, weak man.

Is that a theme? I mean, other than on this blog this morning....

What to wear after the election.

A clothes company that (with reason) considers me one of its best customers sends this:



Is that how they think we're feeling? Graphically, the photo is excellent. Riveting, really. But come on, the posture and the fashion seem to say no, nothing, I want nothing.

ADDED: The brand is Theory. Here's my description, from 2007, of discovering this brand:
Yesterday, my sister and I were traipsing through the Village and Soho. She wanted earrings and mementos. I balked at going into one store that had big sales signs in the window and -- I took one step up toward the doorway -- looked completely chaotic inside. I'd linger in the place next door until she was done with the chaos. The place that suited me was called Theory. I prefer Theory to chaos. She rummaged through the chaotic sale store and bought nothing. Not meaning to buy anything, I found two ideal black sweaters at Theory. I resist chaos but am a pushover for a rational pullover and a Cartesian cardigan.
AND: Isn't the man in the photograph wearing what Hillary wore during the election season? A long angled-out coat and black don't-even-look-at-my-legs pants. The woman in the photograph is wearing the light color on the bottom, forming a strong upward-pointing triangle over her crotch, a reversal of the downward-pointing triangle of female genitalia.

"The Bubble. It's Brooklyn. With a bubble on it."



Glad to see "Saturday Night Live" figured out how to do at least some humor in the election aftermath.

By the way, did you know that Buckminster Fuller actually — not just humorously — proposed a bubble to enclose part of NYC?



Looks like Trump Tower is just inside Bucky's bubble.

"December 1, we'll probably start climbing out from the smoking ruin and say, 'anybody else alive around here?'"

"It'll be like The Walking Dead, right? We're going to try to come up with bands of people and walk across the country, and just not get ourselves killed or eaten, and hook up with people we think are not insane or horrible or in some way murderous. That's exactly what it's going to be like."

Post-election anxiety about putting the ruined party back together.

Imagined, pre-election, by a Republican.

I'm listening to the podcast of the episode of "This American Life" that aired on October 28th. The quote above is an answer to the question framed by host Ira Glass: "This is the big question for all these guys — what's their party going to be after November 8? What's it going to stand for?"  All these guys were "center-right" Republicans — "basically Reagan Republicans," guys with "old school conservative ideals." The guy answering the question is Rob Long of the podcast "Ricochet."

It's funny listening to the show now, because without saying as much, it's obviously premised on the assumption that Donald Trump is going to lose. I know "funny" isn't the word many people would use to describe the period of American life that began on Election Day night, and I'm sorry if I'm a bad person for finding it very funny. It's not that I'm happy with Trump. I wasn't a Trump supporter, but I couldn't stand Hillary either. I'm just experiencing a lot of the aftermath of the election as very funny. Like, why did we just spend the weekend talking about "Hamilton"?

November 20, 2016

Sunrise on Lake Mendota.

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This morning.

Talk about anything you want in the comments.

When Trump told Ivanka, "I don't want you to drink, boys will take advantage of you...."

The other night we watched this show "Objectified," where the host Harvey Levin interviewed Donald Trump. I don't know if this is a regular show, but the idea is for the interviewee to show various objects in his home and through these objects for us to learn something about the person. Levin isn't really a very good interviewer, and nearly all of the objects were photographs, awards, letters, and invitations, so I'm not recommending this as a show with any real vitality to it. But I was interested in getting a different angle on Trump, and for that, it was okay. You can watch the whole show here. I just wanted to focus on the segment about Trump's attitude toward drinking, which arises out of his experience with his beloved older brother Freddy, who became a hopeless alcoholic and died at the age of 43:



What particularly struck me was a scene described by Levin. Once — we're not told exactly when —  Ivanka told her father she was going out with some of her friends and Trump — in front of some person who related the story to Levin — gave her "a speech... and the speech was 'I don't want you to drink, boys will take advantage of you...."

Boys will take advantage of you.... That sounds like the kind of thing young women are offended to be told these days. But maybe fathers (and mothers) still say things like this to their daughters. (I say "still" even though I never heard such warnings from my parents. I just imagine that's what other people's parents must have said in the old days.)

The segment ends when Levin asks Trump if it's hard for him to talk about his brother's alcohol problem, and Trump imagines "somebody's out there" hearing him — maybe only one person — who will change what they are doing because of him — "and there's something really cool about that."

Non-left-wing bumper stickers seen in Madison.

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Today on the East Side.

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Tim Ryan wants Democrats to stop getting sidetracked.

On today's "State of the Union," Jake Tapper interviewed Tim Ryan, the Democratic Congressman from Ohio's 13th District who is challenging Nancy Pelosi for the position of House Minority Leader. Ryan's central point was that Democrats needs to be focused on economics and not sidetracked by "things like the Zika virus and other issues."

Ryan won his district, but so did Donald Trump, a fact that Ryan uses to promote himself as someone who understands the people who voted for Trump but can be brought "back into the fold." A "fold" is an enclosure for sheep:



Tapper asked him if he thought Democrats in Congress "should try to cooperate with Donald Trump and work with him on" some issues, and Ryan — with lots of caveats — said "we will look for places to work with him."

Tapper asked him about Keith Ellison the Minnesota Congressman who's going for chair of Democratic National Committee. Tapper plays a clip of Ellison being asked "why doesn't your party come out against the Second Amendment?" and answering "I sure wish they would. I sure wish they would." Tapper asks whether that is "the appropriate leadership for the DNC?" and his answer had us laughing at loud:

Jake Tapper does a great job this week with his "State of the Cartoonion" drawings — showing the Trump transition in the frame of "The Apprentice."

Tapper's an excellent cartoonist, and I like this segment of the show, but this week's edition struck me as his best ever — because of the drawings, the spiffy narrative arc, and the humor:

"That’s what freedom sounds like," said Mike Pence to his daughter as they walked into "Hamilton" to the sound of boos.

Impressive. I add one point to the "good man" side of the ledger.

I found that quote when I clicked on a NYT front page teaser that read "Trump Rails Against Critics in Entertainment Business" and that got me to an article titled "Trump Lavishes Praise on General as He Nears National Security Picks." I thought I'd misclicked and went back and retraced my steps, ended up in the same place, then found the teaser "Trump Rails Against Critics in Entertainment Business" in a top bar above the article, clicked that. Ending up at "Trump Lavishes Praise on General as He Nears National Security Picks," I finally accepted that the relevant "entertainment" material must be somewhere at the bottom of the article and searched the page for the word "entertainment."

Is the NYT slanted? Literally, yes.

Look at the photo of Romney and Trump on the front page of today's paper edition:



Here, I've straightened it up in iPhoto, using the vertical and horizontal lines of the building, which took about 3 seconds:



Why would the NYT publish a picture that's so demonstrably off (and in such a conspicuous place)? Are they trying to heighten disquietude? Is it a way of ascribing more weight to Romney? Perhaps there's a journalistic ethics rule against doing anything to change a news photograph, but then why wasn't the photographer the NYT relied on to position herself to get this shot able to keep her camera straight?

The photographer is Hilary Swift. Here is her website. There are some nice photographs there, and indeed, her picture of Trump and Romney is excellent. I like the way Trump is in the background but in focus (unlike Romney) and Trump's head is framed by the corner of the door. I like the centrality of Trump's upraised hand. The distance between the 2 men is exquisite negative space. Romney's right shoulder is aligned with the American flag. Pillars are strong but almost invisible staking out the edges. Romney's face is a complex mixture of pride and sheepishness.

I like it all. Great picture. I just don't understand why it isn't straightened out. Is it possible to argue that the slant gives a dynamism to the image, a feeling that gravity assists the push of Trump's hand as Romney slips away? It doesn't work for me, because all those visible lines of the door, the steps, and the pillars makes me conscious of the tilt. If you want to do things subliminally, I'm not supposed to notice.

"The trouble began" the morning after the election, when the principal of West High emailed the teachers: "Please be positive and strong and teach the heck out of our kids today."

That's from paragraphs 17 and 18 of a NYT article, featured on the front page, titled "At Iowa High School, Election Results Kindle Tensions and Protests."

The first 16 paragraphs are about election-related speech at the Iowa high school. A 15-year-old girl who wears a hijab says she was bumped into and told "Go back home" by "a boy she barely knew." (Near the bottom of the article, we learn the boy says he didn't say that.) Another girl says she saw students chanting "Trump" when they walked by black students. And 2 girls who identify as conservative reported that other students were looking at them the wrong way and not treating them as equals.

Did the principal's email cause the problem? I've read the rest of the article, and I don't see the basis for the insinuation that teachers reacted to the principal with some sort of outrage at the instruction to "be positive." We hear of 2 teachers who talked to each other about the "Go back home" incident, wondering what they could do.

The Friday after Election Day and again the following Tuesday, students walked out of class in protest. The Friday protest is described in the NYT as marching and sign-carrying. The second one is described as sitting on the floor at the entrance of the school and wearing duct tape over their mouths.

It's hard to figure out what to think when the story is presented in an impressionistic fashion like this. The writer, Julie Bosman, seems, as one might expect, sympathetic with the protesting students and the distraught teachers. There are incidents that are reported as reports. We don't know if they really happened or happened exactly as reported. 2 students bumped into each other. Was that an accident, followed by some loose talk? Or was it deliberate harassment and part of a pattern? Protests ensued, but was it because of what students thought happened in that incident or was it because many of the students wanted to protest the election?

This feels like another one of the post-election stories about how the losing side is very emotional and justified in its anguish and the winning side is taking advantage in an evil way. That's the template. So I'm wary of the material that's being scraped together to fit the template.

That reminds me, I wanted to write a post about the "fake news" problem.