December 3, 2016

"The Green Party is dropping its court case seeking a recount of Pennsylvania's Nov. 8 presidential election."

"The Green Party's filing came Saturday, saying it couldn't afford the $1 million bond the court had set. A Commonwealth Court hearing had been scheduled in the case for Monday, and the $1 million bond was due later that day...."

So that's the end. Doesn't matter what happens in Wisconsin and Michigan.

"I wanted her to react humiliated. I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn't tell her... to obtain something I think you have to be completely free."

"I didn't want Maria to act her humiliation, her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel ... the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life."

Bernardo Bertolucci confirms what the actress Maria Schneider said about the filming of the "butter" scene in "Last Tango in Paris." Schneider is dead now, as is Marlon Brando, who was 48 when Schneider was 19, and he and Bertolucci conspired to surprise her and extract "her reaction as a girl, not as an actress."

"Don’t worry about China going to war over a phone call. They understand Trump..."

"... in part because they read my blog too. And look at the brilliance of China’s diplomatic response. Their Foreign Minister labelled the phone call, 'a shenanigan by the Taiwan side.' That is exquisite diplomatic framing, Master Persuader-style. You can see why China and Trump respect each other; they both earned it. Mutual respect is a safe place to be. Relax. Adults are in charge."

Obviously, that's Scott Adams.

I'm skeptical about this story that Anthony Weiner left sex-addiction treatment early because he ran out of money.

Page Six says he was supposed to stay 90 days, but he bailed out after 35 days because he ran out of money.

I assume the reason for leaving is that the election is over, Hillary lost, and there's no reason for him to hide away and pretend to be reforming himself. Freed from the obligation to stop impairing Hillary and Huma's rise to power, he can lunge toward freedom.

Page Six calls him "unemployable," but I assume he's writing a memoir. Tell it all, Anthony. You've got great material, and you love to write about yourself. You're not shy about sharing sexual details. I'm sure you'll be just fine. What a great tragicomic character!

I know, it will be a problem not hurting Huma and the son you two had together. Maybe you can't write the great memoir you have the material to write. Maybe you'll end up bullshitting about addiction and treatment and hawking it on women's TV, duly abasing yourself. Please don't do that. Write a real memoir. Tell the truth.

As David Foster Wallace wrote in "How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart":
Obviously, a good commercial memoir's first loyalty has got to be to the reader, the person who's spending money and time to access the consciousness of someone he wishes to know and will never meet. But none of [Austin's memoir's] loyalties are to the reader. The author's primary allegiance seems to be to her family and friends....

This is my last real weekend — weekend weekend.

It's not that I'm not going to work ever again, but I'm never going to have work scheduled on a weekday/weekend schedule once classes end this coming Thursday. That means this is my last chance to feel the feeling that is The Weekend. Not that I'm not working this weekend. I am. But in my own way, on my own schedule.

IN THE COMMENTS: Rob links to this:

"Americans' support for keeping the Electoral College system for electing presidents has increased sharply."

"Weeks after the 2016 election, 47% of Americans say they want to keep the Electoral College, while 49% say they want to amend the Constitution to allow for a popular vote for president."
In the past, a clear majority favored amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.... This year, for the first time in the 49 years Gallup has asked about it, less than half of Americans want to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.

"Trump’s win has made the rest of the world more self-righteous, especially here in Pakistan, especially among men."

"He is the final proof, if any proof were needed, that a man can have it all, that a man can be all the man he wants to be — a billionaire and a porn star in his own life’s movie — and still make people love him and trust him with their future."

Wrote Mohammed Hanif in a November 11th NYT op-ed titled "After Trump, Fear and Gloating in Pakistan."

"In the province of Sindh, where I live, licensed shops, usually called wine stores, have operated even since prohibition."

"The stores are supposed to sell only to non-Muslims, but they don’t discriminate. Owners have to pay off the police, though, and any dispute can result in the shops having to close down. The laws can be cruel and absurd. Last summer, the local police in Karachi banned liquor stores from keeping freezers, in order to stop consumers from buying a cold beer. Apparently chilled beer was a threat to our faith and to peace, but warm beer was just warm beer. In late October, a High Court judge ordered the closure of all these stores after accepting a petition that said alcohol is prohibited not only in Islam but in Christianity and Hinduism, too. This ban means that only those who can afford imported liquor will keep buying from a flourishing network of bootleggers.... The rich drink in their own homes and frolic or puke on their own lawns, but the assumption is that if the poor get drunk in public spaces, they’ll make a nuisance. Which is why those who can afford fine scotches can also afford to give everyone else lectures about our religious duties. It seems that those who suck the blood of poor people want to make sure it’s not tainted with cheap alcohol...."

Writes the novelist Mohammed Hanif in a NYT op-ed titled "Pakistan Has a Drinking Problem."

What a delightful writing style! I'm going to read all his other NYT op-eds — there are 10 of them — linked here. Why have I not noticed him before?

Here's one of his novels, "A Case of Exploding Mangoes."

The pressure on Obama to pardon Bowe Bergdahl and put him out of reach of the President-elect who has him “a no-good traitor who should have been executed.”

Obama gave up 5 Taliban detainees to get Bergdahl back, and now Bergdahl, who faces trial for desertion and misbehavior, is pushing for a pardon.
At rallies, Mr. Trump repeatedly brought up the prisoner exchange as a bad deal. At a town hall-style meeting in August 2015, for example, he called Sergeant Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” and pantomimed shooting him. Mr. Trump also falsely claimed that Americans were killed searching for Sergeant Bergdahl and that the five Taliban ex-detainees were back on the battlefield.....

The administration transferred the Taliban detainees without obeying a statute requiring it to notify Congress 30 days before the transfers.... In addition, former soldiers came forward to describe the circumstances of his capture, accusing him of desertion. That fueled Republican complaints that sending the Taliban detainees to Qatar had been too steep a price....
The argument for a pardon seems to be that a Trump administration cannot give Bergdahl a fair trial.

"Of course, if you expect the pressure groups on our side of the fence to act as a unit on their perceived interests, then you can’t expect another self-identified group not to act as a unit on its perceived interests."

"In this case, the actors are the suddenly consolidated working-class white people, the Irish and the Jews and a lot of Italians and plenty of Middle Europeans, Poles and Czechs, all those others who once had to be addressed separately but now, in the face of a growing minority-majority nation, cling together in one gang.... It was the belief that one interest/identity group—those white-working-class guys—wasn’t necessary to win elections that seems to have been the fatal flaw of the Clinton campaign; they were right in the sense that it wasn’t necessary to win the popular vote, which they did. But it was necessary to win decisive counties in purple states. Why the voters they didn’t get were no longer gettable is a good question, but the answer can’t be that liberals were paying too much attention to the voters they could... [I]f all you do is push down on a seesaw, the other end goes up. If all you do is assert the importance of your side’s pressure groups, other pressure groups will feel threatened and act out...."

That's Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker, out and proud as a Democratic Party partisan, and — as I read it — essentially letting Trump off the hook on the racism charge.

"China's reaction is relatively mild. It doesn't want to get off on the wrong foot with Mr Trump."

"And it sees Mr Trump as an inexperienced politician, so for now it's willing to forgive him and not play this up."
It may also be somewhat reassured by statements from the US that its policy on China and Taiwan has not changed. But behind the scenes it's safe to say China is working hard to "educate" the Trump team on not repeating such diplomatic faux pas.
Trump didn't know what he was doing?

ADDED: Trump is in a position to leverage other people's belief that he doesn't know what he is doing. Those not burdened by feelings of inferiority and incompetence can resist showing off how much they know and even lure those who think they're smart into giving away more than they would if they believed their antagonist had superior knowledge and skill.

One used to hear of clever lawyers who got their adversaries to perceive them as just an old country lawyer.

AND: From "So, Why Can't You Call Taiwan?" by David A. Graham in The Atlantic:
As is typically the case with Trump, it’s hard to tell whether this blithe overturning of protocol is intentional or simply a result of not knowing, or caring, better.

There are various reasons Trump might be intentionally poking China. Trump spoke harshly about China throughout his presidential campaign, accusing Beijing of currency manipulation, land-grabbing, and taking advantage of the United States. He also showed a willingness, if not an eagerness, to slaughter nearly every sacred cow of American foreign policy.

Some Trump confidants have suggested existing policy on Taiwan should become one of them. John Bolton, who served as Bush’s ambassador to the UN, has been advising Trump, and Bolton has been a very public advocate of the U.S. cozying up to Taiwan in order to show strength against China....
IN THE COMMENTS: MayBee said:
Remember when Obama made the Dalai Lama go in the back door, past the trash bags? To not anger the Chinese?

Obama's foreign policy is to cower. We are weak, but he talks about how essential we are. I don't know if Trump is going to be a disaster or a delight, but I can't hear criticisms of him right now because I'm too busy looking at the fecklessness of our current president.

"So, to quote from one of Dylan’s transformative anthems which holds as much meaning today as it did when it was first sung in the 1960..."

Said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing (by video) a crowd that had assembled for a Coldplay concert. He then quoted:
"Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land, and don’t criticise, what you cannot understand. Your sons and your daughters, are beyond your command. Your old roads rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one, if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’."
People knew what he was talking about: demonetization. His address even had a joke about Rs 100 notes:
"You have been smart in asking me to only address the gathering and not sing, else I’m pretty sure your audience would be asking you for their money back, and that too in Rs 100 notes."
Social media reacted:

And other Bob Dylan songs are pressed into service:

That's from "Blowin' in the Wind," quoted to refer to reports that demonetization in India is killing people. The new policy — imposed suddenly and meant to control black money and counterfeiting — is a ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes. So people have had to line up to exchange their large notes for smaller notes, like those Rs 100 notes Modi saw fit to joke about. And there are reports that more than 50 people have died waiting in bank queues.

December 2, 2016

"Mattis is also informally known as a 'warrior monk'..."

"... a nod to his intellect and expertise as well as his marital status: 66-year-old Mattis has never wed."

Why do you think that happened? 2 explanations spring to my mind. A third as well, but it seems much less likely. Or okay, there are 4 things, and now they all seem equally likely.

Rush Limbaugh gives me a shout out and called something I said "astute" — but there was something about it he had to contradict... which makes me say something that might be even more astute.

On the show today:
Ann Althouse. She's from Wisconsin. She has a blog -- she's had it for a while -- and she wrote a blurb last night, a post, about two political science professors who have recently discovered the term "low-information voter" and sought to define it.
He was pointing at this post of mine from yesterday, where I criticized the professors for characterizing Trump voters as "low-information" voters. I said that Rush Limbaugh has used the term for years "to refer to the people who are accepting the view of the world presented in the mainstream media (which he sees as thoroughly biased in the liberal direction)."

I thought polisci professors ought to be informed about what's on Rush Limbaugh's show, and I made the wisecrack that if "you're writing about American politics," and you don't know what's on Rush's show, "then you yourself are low-information."

Rush said my observation was "very kind" and "astute," but as he went on, I could see that he didn't really agree with the way I'd defined the term I'd given him credit for coining. In fact, ironically, the definition he proceeded to give matched up pretty well with the polisci profs' definition!

The polisci profs —  Richard Fording and Sanford Schram — had said:
Low information voters are those who do not know certain basic facts about government and lack what psychologists call a “need for cognition.” Those with a high need for cognition have a positive attitude toward tasks that require reasoning and effortful thinking and are, therefore, more likely to invest the time and resources to do so when evaluating complex issues.
That part of their definition fits with what Rush said on his show today when he got very specific about what he meant by the term. He said he coined the term back in 2008:
There was a TIME Magazine story that literally said a voluminous number of Obama voters never followed the news. And I said, "Well, there you go!" (laughing) I mean, makes perfect sense. So low-information voters began as low-information voters. They don't know anything! They don't follow the news. They're pure addicts of pop culture... but they don't have the slightest knowledge of politics. And they haven't been taught much about it, and that's what low-information voters are....
So that's different from what I said, which was that they do listen to the news, but — in Rush's view — they don't get enough information because the mainstream news has so much liberal bias. Rush is actually pretty close to what Fording and Schram said, it's just that the professors looked at the people whose lack of information coincided with liking Trump and Rush was looking at the people whose lack of information coincided with liking Obama.

If you lack information but you vote, what is your vote based on? The professors said:
Our research finds that Trump has attracted a disproportionate (and unprecedented) number of “low-information voters” to his campaign. Furthermore, these voters are more likely to respond to emotional appeals — whether about the economy, immigration, Muslims, racial relations, sexism, and even hostility to the first African American U.S. president, Barack Obama. They are the ideal constituency for a candidate like Trump.
Now, Trump won. So did Obama. Maybe elections are won by whoever does best at reeling in the LIVs.

I wonder if Fording and Schram have applied their science to the 2008 election. If they did, maybe they would write that their research finds that Obama has attracted a disproportionate number of low-information voters. That's what the old TIME Magazine article seems to have said.

And then wouldn't it also be that those voters too were swayed by emotional appeals? Fording and Schram list some emotional issues they think may have worked to bring LIVs to Trump — "the economy, immigration, Muslims, racial relations, sexism, and even hostility to the first African American U.S. president, Barack Obama."

But you could make a comparable list of emotional issues that brought LIVs to Obama — hating the war, fearing climate change, and the thrill of the first African-American President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's pronounced gar-NAY in French.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mattis is Trump's pick for Secretary of Defense.

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

4 reactions to Trump's flag-burning tweet.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

People who obviously don't listen to Rush Limbaugh.

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

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

UPDATE, the next day: Rush Limbaugh talks about this post on his show, and I respond to that here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Today, we mourn...."



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

November 30, 2016

Trump protesters take Trump bait.

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

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

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

Bob Dylan snubs Obama.

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

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

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



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

"How can you tell that this is not an authentic New Deal mural?"

"For this puzzle we have altered a 1942 mural called ’Security of the Family’ in the main entrance of the Health and Human Services Building (formerly the Social Security Building) in Washington, D.C."

"In its claim of responsibility for Monday's attack at Ohio State, the Islamic State news agency AMAQ posted a photo of Artan wearing a blue shirt and sitting with greenery in the background."

"It described him as a soldier of the group. 'Brother Abdul Razak Ali Artan, God accept him, implementer of the Ohio attack, a student in his third year in university,' the caption read."

Shouldn't this story be getting more attention? Perhaps not, but somehow I feel like this story is getting marginalized for the wrong reasons. The right reason would be to deter others from seeking fame and glory through actions like this.

ADDED: Oh, no:
OSU Diversity Officer Urges Compassion for Somali Terrorist Who Attacked Students. “Stephanie Clemons Thompson urged her followers to have compassion for Artan after he expressed a desire ‘to kill a billion infidels’ and then tried to kill as many as he could at OSU. She also urged people to ‘think of the pain he must have been in,’ and used the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHisName (which BLM uses to denote victims of police brutality).”
Well, Rush Limbaugh was saying on his show yesterday:
Why isn't the big news today, the Ohio State University attack, the fact that a white cop shot and killed a young black man who was only armed with a knife?... I mean, the Regime at Ohio State is celebrating him as a hero.... Where is Black Lives Matter?  You can see why I'm a little bit confused here....
He spoke too soon!

"A Dane County judge on Tuesday denied a request... to require all votes in Wisconsin’s presidential election to be recounted by hand...."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
The 56 counties who have said they already plan to do full or partial hand recounts, account for about 60 percent of all votes. Another 13 counties, including Milwaukee, are only doing optical scan recounts, and the other three haven’t settled on a plan.

State law sets a high bar for a judge to order a statewide hand recount. The law says the candidate seeking one must give “clear and convincing evidence” that using machines to conduct a recount will produce incorrect results and that there’s a “substantial probability” that recounting the ballots by hand or another method will produce a more correct result — and change the outcome of the election.
The judge, Valerie Bailey-Rihn, said the standard was not met, even though there were a couple experts who tried to cast doubt on the machines:
“A hand recount is going to provide a more accurate result because it will not be affected by any kind of cyber-security attack that might be compromising the voting machines,” testified J. Alex Halderman, a cyber-security expert and professor at the University of Michigan.

Philip Stark, director of the Statistical Computing Facility at the University of California-Berkeley, testified that a statistical analysis of small voting wards in Wisconsin showed numerical anomalies that bear further scrutiny — and could be a sign of malicious attempts to alter the vote totals. The testimony was based on an analysis by Walter Mebane, a statistical expert and University of Michigan professor.
But:
Elections Commission director Michael Haas [testified]... that extensive measures are taken by local election officials to restrict unauthorized people from gaining physical access to the machines. State officials have said those machines are not connected to the Internet, meaning a potential cyber-attacker likely would need to access them in person.

"Donald Trump promised Wednesday to 'remove' himself from his businesses..."

"... and said he will announce details in two weeks about how he'll avoid conflicts of interest when he is president."

Carrier will keep its factory in Indianapolis. It's not moving to Mexico, and Trump will take credit. Rightly.

Here's how the NYT expands on the story:
And just as only a confirmed anti-Communist like Richard Nixon could go to China, so only a businessman like Mr. Trump could take on corporate America without being called a Bernie Sanders-style socialist. If Barack Obama had tried the same maneuver, he’d probably have drawn criticism for intervening in the free market.
Obama could have done it, if only his haters weren't so ready to brand him a socialist. Trump has more freedom, because he's not hounded by haters and critics like poor, beset Obama.
Political symbolism aside, saving 1,000 Carrier jobs doesn’t loom so large in an economy that’s created an average of 181,000 jobs a month this year, noted Jared Bernstein, a liberal economist who served as adviser in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.

Still, he confessed a grudging admiration for Mr. Trump’s political jujitsu. “If I weren’t so scared of the damage a Trump administration might do, I’d find it refreshing to see an administration fighting for factory jobs like this,” he said. “That said, no one should confuse what Trump is doing here with sustainable economic policy.”
Thanks for the breath of fresh air, liberal economist!
Over the long term, and for less prominent firms, the temptation to move to cheaper locales for manufacturing will stay great, said Robert Reich, a prominent liberal Democrat who served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration.

“Memories are short but the economic fundamentals remain the same,” he said. “Wall Street is breathing down companies’ necks to cut costs, and the labor savings in Mexico is too great.”
What this story needed was the perspective of a prominent liberal Democrat to tell us what Trump seems to have done is actually impossible.

So... how did Trump do it?
Mr. Trump first announced he was talking to Carrier on Thanksgiving Day via Twitter...
Oh, that man won't stop tweeting!!
... which the company quickly confirmed. The discussions have continued this week, and with a tentative deal in hand on Tuesday, transition officials scheduled Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Pence’s visit to Indianapolis....
So... he talked to them and got to a deal in 5 days. What, is he some kind of deal artist?

"It's like having it shoved back in my face again. It is a constant reminder to me of that event that night."

"Every time I had to drive by or be taken by be driven by that memorial. This person changed my life. I don't agree with this, but what can I do?"

Take down those roadside memorials. 

The real question here isn't why half a million young Japanese stay inside all the time and have no social contacts.

As Bloomberg forefronts in "Why Half a Million Young Japanese Can't Face School or Work" — before admitting in the 4th paragraph that the issue — the "hikikomori" — is not new.

The current issue is that the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, sees this matter of life-style choice and psychological orientation as problem in need of government intervention because the population is dropping. That is, the nation needs these solitude-loving people to have babies. But, it seems (it's hard to read through the dross in this article) the government is funding this stay-at-home behavior with welfare.

The article puzzles over why young people are doing this. Were they bullied at school? Pressured by parents? But what's so hard to understand? People respond to government incentives. If you had told me when I was 20 that I could stay home, not work, and receive monthly payments to cover basic expenses, I'd have snapped up that deal with pleasure. I can stay out of the workplace and use my time however I want, free from economic need? Sign me up!

Now, maybe you'll tell me I don't understand hikikomori and that these are people who feel strongly reluctant to get out into the world of work. But if you'd given me that offer and I'd gotten set in my ways of collecting a monthly check while I stayed home in my safe, comfortable apartment and read books, drew pictures, and listened to music, and then you threatened to take it away unless I manifested anxiety about going to work and supporting myself, I'd have the requisite anxiety.

"It Turns Out There Are 4 Different Types of Introverts..."

An interestingly animated video, but I'll bet a lot of people, as they hear each of the 4 types described, will identify with all 4 of them. I did (except the part in one of the types where you are not a morning person). And I'm not even convinced I'm an introvert.

November 29, 2016

Update on the Muslim NYU student who wrote a NYT op-ed vilifying her roommate for supporting Trump.

Now — 17 days later — the NYT has published the roommate's response.

When the first op-ed came out, I was very critical:
Whatever happened to diversity? [The NYU freshman Romaissaa] Benzizoune had originally thought her roommate was like her, but then she was "this suddenly strange person." Benzizoun's college experience turned into something universities normally encourage: confrontation and dealing with diversity

Benzizoune's response was to reject her roommate and to go out and find a more homogeneous group to hang around with. And then she outed the roommate to the whole world, exposing her to contempt and hostility in The New York Times.

After gaining access through the imposed intimacy of roommateship in a university that (I'm sure) promotes diversity, she betrayed this woman — who is perhaps  18 years old — and invited hatred. She did it deliberately, with fervor, and facilitated by the most powerful newspaper in America.

And it seemed justified. Why?
The new op-ed from the roommate, K.N. Pineda, reveals that she has been glared at and heckled on campus:
I have been labeled “racist,” “sexist” and “xenophobic” on Facebook. I have been called a “white without a conscious,” a “misogynist,” a “bigot” and a “barbarian” online by people all over the country. 
She defends herself by telling us that her father is Hispanic and her mother was raised by an African-American stepfather. One defense when you are reviled as white is to trot out proof that you are not white or not that white. It's kind of sad to see a young woman forced into the public light and then having to reveal private facts about other people because it's so threatening to be thought of as a person of white privilege. Her grandmother's husband "died after struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism." Her father "grew up in a trailer home." Her mother "was homeless for a period of time." Do all these people now get a NYT op-ed to tell their story?

Pineda does get around to begging us to rise above racial differences:
The answer is not to further the divide by labeling and dehumanizing one another. We should fight the “us versus them” mind-set.... How can we assume we know someone based on the color of their skin, their religion, or their political choices?... The narrative should be one of inclusiveness, openness, respect and love. It is not only about making “America Great Again,” it is about making America home again.
She's getting pilloried in the comments over there. From the top-rated comments:
Pleading for understanding, but where's the understanding for how support for Trump might look to others who've been victimized by Trump's brand of racism, sexual predation, financial exploitation, failure to pay taxes, etc.? While professing wonderful bromides, I find the writer a bit disingenuous.
And:
People didn't call you racist because they are ignorant of your family history. They find your beliefs complacent. Trump and his followers will destroy civil liberties. The echoes of Nazi Germany are present; the anger of the right is far more violent than the anger of the left. You experienced FB harassment-- my kids' school experienced Nazi symbols on Twitter. Will you stand up, Ms. Pineda?
And:
If the narrative should be one of inclusiveness, openness, respect and love -- what are you doing supporting the candidate championed avidly white supremacists? The candidate whose VP thinks that homosexuals should be subjected to electric shocks to make them "normal"? 
Etc. etc. This young lady cannot have her private life back. 

Don't forget to support the Althouse blog.

This is just another reminder to use The Althouse Amazon Portal if you're doing any Christmas or other shopping. I appreciate the encouragement.

"The longtime left-leaning Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative will shutter its doors Wednesday after 27 years in Madison."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports. I'm surprised it's only been around 27 years. I've been here for 33 years, and I felt like it predated me:
The cooperative was founded by employees who left Peoples’ Bookstore, a now-closed, privately owned shop promoting feminist, anarchist and radical ideas, to start a store with a business model that was also in line with their views, said Ald. Marsha Rummel, one of the co-founders.

“We thought the ownership model should be a cooperative and not privately owned to reflect the change we would like to see in the world,” said Rummel, who represents the Near East Side’s 6th District.
Oh, that's what I remember. The People's Bookstore.

Here's a photo I took of a poster in the window there, originally blogged in 2004:

Scott Walker's view of the Wisconsin recount.



ADDED: I refrained from retweeting this, but I am blogging it. Blogging and retweeting feel distinctly different to me. Is it the same for you? For me, to retweet would have more of a feeling of endorsement. Blogging it feels more as though I'm saying: Here's what Scott Walker says. Let's talk about it. I'd have to say something more to reveal anything about what's in my head. But I will say a little more. I'm not trying to be coy. What I'll say is that Walker's tweet is pithy but too extreme. He's not only saying there is absolutely no other reason for the recount than to raise money for the Green Party. He's also saying that you'd have to be pretending to point out another motivation. I'm sure I'm not just pretending when I say that the recount effort is also a scheme to get good publicity for the Green Party and to hurt Donald Trump by keeping resistance to the outcome of the election alive.

ALSO: As long as I'm embedding Scott Walker tweets....

"Nudity and purity, sensuality and innocence, grace and spontaneity — we made contradictions of them."

"I try to harmonize them, and that’s my secret and the reason for my success."

Said David Hamilton, the British photographer, quoted in his NYT obituary. It seems that he committed suicide at the age of 83, "one week after a former model accused him of raping her in 1987 when she was 13."
Beginning with “Bilitis” in 1977, Mr. Hamilton directed five erotic movies that largely centered on blossoming sexuality in flower-crowned girls. The films were shot in the dreamy soft-focus style that also defined his photographs for fashion and advertising assignments in the 1960s and ’70s, and for more than two dozen books.... His critics said his photographs flagrantly objectified young women....
As for the rape charge, he told the press "I am innocent," and "The instigator of this media lynching is seeking her quarter of an hour of fame through slander."

The "instigator" called the (apparent) suicide "a cowardly act."

1,500 animals are living without the help of human beings inside Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

People were evacuated because of the fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A webcam show that the power is still on and the aquarium is intact, but smoke and fire threaten the animals. Here's a video of the aquarium in happier times:



And: "Despite evacuation orders, some people -- including guests at one Gatlinburg hotel -- could not safely leave the area as the fire advanced."
"We can't go outside. The firefighters said the wind is blowing at 80 miles per hour and the debris in the air is too hard to get us down right now," [said one guest].

Trump is going out on what he's calling a "Thank You Tour."

Beginning in Cincinnati on Thursday evening.

IN THE COMMENTS: Yancey Ward says:
And this is the explanation for his tweet about burning the American flag. Just watch what happens at every stop he makes.

"To begin with, what purposes could we choose if the job – economic necessity – didn’t consume most of our waking hours and creative energies?"

"What evident yet unknown possibilities would then appear? How would human nature itself change as the ancient, aristocratic privilege of leisure becomes the birthright of human beings as such?"

From "Fuck work/Economists believe in full employment. Americans think that work builds character. But what if jobs aren’t working anymore?"

Via Metafilter.

"English, without knowing it, has fallen into an intense version of this kind of professional groupthink."

"I believe that the profession can’t really move forward until we shed our fear of saying and thinking things that colleagues would call ‘humanist.’"
"It’s not the case that if you were just less politicized in your reading of Jane Austen, all of a sudden Scott Walker’s going to say, ‘Oh, no, I love the University of Wisconsin system.’ If the postcritical project is going to survive, it can’t just rest on the idea that we have to make literary studies comprehensible to people who don’t know a lot about it or don’t do the requisite reading."

My city's mayor, Paul Soglin, has a blog post titled "Ted Cruz, Cuba, Castro and the Giant, Enormous, Humongous Lie."

I keep trying to read this thing. I'm just trying to understand what is "the Giant, Enormous, Humongous Lie." If something is so big it takes 3 synonyms for big to express its bigness, shouldn't it be visible when I skim this short blog post? I would move on, but the man is mayor of my city. Can somebody help me out and read this for me? I read stuff for you all the time. Return the favor?

Was Donald Trump "furious" at Kellyanne Conway for speaking passionately about opposition to Mitt Romney as Secretary of State?

That's what a headline yesterday said. But later in the day there was a statement from Trump:
“Kellyanne came to me and asked whether or not she could go public with her thoughts on the matter. I encouraged her to do so. Most importantly she fully acknowledged there is only one person that makes the decision. She has always been a tremendous asset and that will continue.”
Did Kellyanne go rogue and is Trump now covering for her? Who knows? If he really was furious, I don't think he'd tell us.
Amid reports of intense closed-door deliberations over who should be secretary of state, Ms. Conway had seemed intent on committing a heretical political act by an aide: boxing in her boss. She wrote on Twitter about a “deluge” of concerns from conservatives and appeared repeatedly on television, insisting that a Romney appointment would be seen by Mr. Trump’s supporters as a “betrayal.”
As the linked NYT article suggests, it's got to be more complicated than that. I think it might have been a way for Trump to let Romney opponents know their voice has been heard and is represented in the discussions so they won't be so hostile when he actually does choose Romney. But I don't know.

And what is Conway's job title?
Her allies describe her job as “the Kellyanne role,” a position in which the precise title does not completely capture the duties she is performing or the sway she has. Ms. Conway has a direct line to Mr. Trump, and she has said that he is supportive of seeing her on television. 
He should be. She is great on TV — and not by showing off herself. She spouts clear, straightforward arguments at a fast pace and appears unshakably devoted to Trump. Based on watching her on TV many times, I can't believe that her statements about Romney were not exactly what Trump wanted. The hard question is why did he want that? My bet is: Because he's going to pick Romney.

Who is this Obamacare critic that Donald Trump has picked as Secretary of Health and Human Services?

Tom Price is an orthopedic surgeon who has been a member of Congress for 6 terms. He isn't just a critic of Obamacare. He's been offering detailed alternative bills going back to 2009, when Democrats got to work on Obamacare.
“Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration blatantly ignored the voices of the American people and rammed through a hyperpartisan piece of legislation that will have a disastrous effect on our nation’s health care system,” Mr. Price said shortly after Mr. Obama signed the bill in 2010....

The legislation Mr. Price has proposed, the Empowering Patients First Act, would repeal the Affordable Care Act and offer age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of individual and family health insurance policies. The bill would create incentives for people to contribute to health savings accounts; offer grants to states to subsidize insurance for “high-risk populations”; allow insurers licensed in one state to sell policies to residents of others; and authorize business and professional groups to provide coverage to members through “association health plans.”...
My link goes to a  NYT article that warns us that Price has the vantage point of a doctor and needs "a broader perspective" that looks after the "needs of Medicare beneficiaries, Medicaid patients and taxpayers who finance those programs." We're also told that Price is "a strong conservative," "a member of the Tea Party Caucus," but "no bomb thrower": "He works within the system and has led two groups that promote conservative policies in the House."

We're told that Price has a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.

And: "Gay rights groups have also been critical of Mr. Price." Why? The only evidence of hostility to gay people is that when the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Price called it "a sad day for marriage" and "a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances." I'd like to hope that his opinion — about the meaning of marriage and the importance of judicial restraint — has nothing to do with anything health-related.

The 20-year-old chess grandmaster dies 2 days before the 90-year old grandmaster.

The 90-year-old, who died on Monday, was Mark Taimanov — "a virtuoso pianist and former Soviet chess champion whose lopsided loss to Bobby Fischer in 1971 in the quarterfinals of a major chess tournament cost him his government salary."
The match, in 10 games, was to be decided by whoever got to 5.5 points first, with wins counting as one point and draws as a half point. Mr. Fischer beat Mr. Taimanov 6-0, without even yielding a draw.

It was an unheard-of result, and to the Soviet authorities, the only explanation had to be a nefarious one, so they blamed Mr. Taimanov. They barred him from traveling abroad, censured him and cut off his government salary, which all elite chess players received.

“This dramatic match changed my life into hell,” Mr. Taimanov said in an interview... in 2002.
The 20-year-old was another Russian, Yuri Yeliseyev. He loved not only chess but parkour, and he died of a 12-story fall after attempting to transit from a window to a balcony.
A neighbour told the Life channel that Yeliseyev had been seen performing the stunt over the summer. A social media account photo showed him hanging by his hands from a ledge high above the ground....

The national chess team coach, Sergei Yanovsky, told state news agency R-Sport that Yeliseyev was one of the most talented young grandmasters in Russia and praised his “colourful individuality." "His uniqueness and search for his own path was very evident in all his decisions; he rejected any existing blueprints... Even as a boy he always wanted to show off his fearlessness and climb up on something, but not to this extreme level”....

Trump flaunts disrespect for American freedom of speech.



What focused him on this unnecessary-to-the-transition topic?

I guess it's the flag-burning that's accompanied some of the post-election protesting:
On Veterans Day, just a couple days after Election day, a group of about 150 [Hampshire College] students burned an American flag in the middle of campus during the dark of the night. “I don’t think anyone here was angry about it (flag burning),” says junior environmental studies major Aaron Rollins. “Emotions were running high after the election and people weren’t happy. We don’t support anything about Donald Trump.”
And:
Students at American University in Washington, D.C., torched American flags in protest of Donald Trump’s win in Tuesday’s presidential election.
If Trump's enthusiasm for punishing flag-burning arises out of vengeance toward his political antagonists, it only makes it worse.

Flag-burning and freedom of expression were one of Justice Scalia's favorite subjects. He joined the majority opinion in Texas v. Johnson, which said there is a free-speech right to burn the flag as symbolic expression, and he loved — in his public performances — to say things like:
“If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag. But I am not king.”
Donald Trump also is not king. And I'd like to see better evidence that he knows the scope of the job the people have given him, which is to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, including the First Amendment.

AND: I see the way this — like that "millions of people who voted illegally" tweet — may be simply a trick to bait his antagonists and amuse his fans. It's just junk, a distraction, and it's funny the way we jump at what should be nothing. Does he think the presidency is his plaything, some kind of joke? To ask that is to be distracted, but from what? Perhaps from how serious he really is.

It's just so hard to ruin the term "alt-right."

I've just got to laugh at this NYT piece, "News Outlets Rethink Usage of the Term ‘Alt-Right.'"

Here you have a term that could have a broader or a narrower meaning, and there was an interesting opportunity for non-righties to do some damage. 
When The Washington Post published a profile last week of Richard B. Spencer, a prominent leader of the so-called alt-right, readers were quick to respond. By Monday, the article had drawn more than 2,600 comments. Many of them had a similar message.

“Please, please stop referring to a white Christian supremacist movement as the ‘alt-right’ — a phrase that sounds like a subgenre of rock music,” one reader wrote.
Commenters like that were not seeing what I think was WaPo's real motivation — to besmirch the larger group of righties by taking a label they might have liked and causing the general public to associate it with out-and-proud racists. That move turned out to be difficult, because if people learn the term only in association with the small, ugly subsection of the larger set, they think it looks like the press is propagating a euphemism. That reaction from people who were hearing the term for the first time has now caused the liberal press to "rethink" their scheme.

The NYT article proceeds to talk about Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, who has called Breitbart "the platform for the alt-right," but it doesn't admit the sleight of hand that was attempted. If "alt-right" could have been tied tightly to Spencer and overt racists, then it would seem as though Bannon is an admitted racist and Breitbart.com is toxic. That plan seems to have failed because the intermediate step — equating "alt-right" with racist — outraged readers. Making racists seem okay and kind of cool was an unintended consequence.

So now we're seeing the media back off. For example:
The standards editor at NPR published a memo in mid-November titled “Guidance on References to the ‘Alt-Right,’” that encouraged an explanation of the term, and the progressive news site ThinkProgress said in a post last week that it would “no longer treat ‘alt-right’ as an accurate descriptor of either a movement or its members” because the term is used as a self-descriptor and obscures the group’s overt racism....

The New York Times has had many conversations about the term but has not banned it, said Phil Corbett, The Times’s standards editor. Reporters are encouraged to explain what the term means rather than use it as a label, he said.
I'm all for precision, but I think this recalibration is only happening because Plan A failed.

November 28, 2016

Oh, now, you're independent...

Email from The NYT: "Give the gift of independent journalism with The Times, and save up to 50%."

"WikiLeaks releases more than half a million US diplomatic cables from the momentous year of 1979."

Announces Julian Assange:
If any year could be said to be the "year zero" of our modern era, 1979 is it.

Dylann Roof will represent himself.

He's on trial for murdering 9 persons in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015.

What has he got to lose?

"Suspect dead, 8 hospitalized following active shooter situation on Ohio State campus."

News from 8 minutes ago.

The shocking tweet students saw: "Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College."

UPDATE: "[L]aw enforcement officials told NBC News he was an 18-year-old Ohio State student, a Somali refugee who was a legal permanent resident of the United States."
The motive was unknown, but officials said the attack was clearly deliberate and may have been planned in advance.
The attacker didn't use a gun but a car and a knife.

"Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group."

The Intercept gives The Washington Post a well-deserved thrashing. Excerpt:
As is so often the case, those who mostly loudly warn of “fake news” from others are themselves the most aggressive disseminators of it. Indeed, what happened here is the essence of fake news. The Post story served the agendas of many factions: those who want to believe Putin stole the election from Hillary Clinton; those who want to believe that the internet and social media are a grave menace that needs to be controlled, in contrast to the objective truth that reliable old media outlets once issued; those who want a resurrection of the Cold War. So those who saw tweets and Facebook posts promoting this Post story instantly clicked and shared and promoted the story without an iota of critical thought or examination of whether the claims were true, because they wanted the claims to be true. That behavior included countless journalists....

"It’s almost as if Jill Stein, a regular on Russia Today TV, is pursuing a strategy calculated to foment chaos."

"But we’re not hearing anything about that from the people who’ve been seeing Russkis under their beds for months."

And...

"So if you believe that Putin hacked the election, you also have to believe that Barack Obama is in on the coverup: 'White House denies that Russia hacked election for Donald Trump win.'"

"Why do they do such a thing of bad taste?"/"Playing on the dead fish in the ice is nothing but insanity. Isn’t it a desecration of lives?"

At a theme park in Japan, they froze 5,000 fish into a skating rink, and "unprecedented attraction," but social media screamed no, so they are melting the ice to take the dead fish out and — I love this part — holding a memorial service for the fish.

One Facebooker had an apt question:
"What’s the difference between skating over the beautifully decorated rink with fish in the ice that are already dead and will only be thrown away, and visiting a museum to look at already dead dinosaurs, also beautifully decorated? I’m looking forward to the next plan."
Isn't it easy? Use fake fish! You can make them much more colorful and interesting. It would be sort of like those old fly-in-ice-cube pranks...

"As a filmmaker, Mr. Bannon, 63, has cited both the Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl and the left-wing documentarian Michael Moore as models."

"In top physical shape as a young Navy officer, and for years wearing the banker’s uniform of expensive suits, Mr. Bannon has in recent years sported flannel shirts and cargo pants. With a paunch and a sometimes scraggly beard, Mr. Bannon has a rugged look that Stephen Colbert described as 'Robert Redford dredged from a river.'"

My favorite paragraph from the NYT article "Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found His Man in Donald Trump." It's a long article, worth reading. I'll just say 2 things:

1. Why is Leni Riefenstahl is called a "propagandist" and Michael Moore is a "documentarian." The same word — whichever you choose — applies to both. Riefenstahl was unquestionably a great film artist, far more interested in film as art than Moore. See the excellent, nonpropagandistic documentary about her, "The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl." Moore is an out-and-proud propagandist. What's wrong with that if your cause is good? Riefenstahl presents the problem of what's wrong with art if your cause is bad.

2. I'm fascinated by how Bannon, who is about my age, looked in 1974, which is like Robert Redford dredged from a river in 1974:



ADDED: I made a new tag for Leni Riefenstahl, then searched the archive to add it to old posts. I see that back in 2004 I wrote "Is Michael Moore like Leni Riefenstahl?" Someone had compared Moore to Riefenstahl, and I was reacting to that. I said:
There are many huge differences between Moore and Leni Riefenstahl.... Quite aside from the fact that she was working in support of Hitler and Moore is working against Bush (and Bush is no Hitler, despite some noise to the contrary), Riefenstahl would have snorted at the lack of artistry in Moore's work. She was all about beautiful and precise visual imagery. "Triumph of the Will" does not pound at you with voiceover assertions, it aims to lure you and seduce you with sequences of images. Moore's type of propaganda is far, far easier to resist, because it is immediately and constantly apparent that he is propagandizing. That is a lot fairer to the viewer: your resistance is instantly activated. You can decide what you want to think. What Riefenstahl did was incomparable.

Don't you see that the new war in Somalia is the same old war Congress authorized 15 years ago?

In 2001, Congress authorized the President "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Although a separate authorization was acquired in 2002 to go to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, it is the 2001 authorization that President Obama has relied on whenever he's felt a need to say that Congress has authorized the war with ISIS, and Congress hasn't pushed back.

Now, we learn that President Obama is interpreting the 2001 authorization to support a war against he Shabab in Somalia! The NYT reports:
The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts....

“It’s crazy that a piece of legislation that was grounded specifically in the experience of 9/11 is now being repurposed for close air support for regional security forces in Somalia,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations....

In Somalia, the United States had long taken the position that a handful of Shabab leaders, as individuals, had sufficient ties to Al Qaeda to make them wartime targets. But it has debated internally for years whether the Shabab as a whole, including their thousands of foot soldiers, can or should be declared part of the enemy....

But as American partners have been going after the Shabab in general more often without any particular focus on individuals linked to Al Qaeda, it has been harder to point to any congressional authorization for such airstrikes that would satisfy the War Powers Resolution.

As the election neared, the administration decided it would be irresponsible to hand off Somali counterterrorism operations to Mr. Obama’s successor with that growing tension unresolved. Now, as Mr. Zenko pointed out, “this administration leaves the Trump administration with tremendously expanded capabilities and authorities.”
If the GOP Congress didn't stand up to Obama and balance his exercise of war power, it's hard to see how it will interfere with President Trump. Any Democrats (and other nonTrumpists) who cry out about an overpowerful President acting without express support from Congress will have to answer for why they did not make this argument when Obama was building the power of the presidency.

IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan takes issue with my last sentence: "Answer to whom? The non-questioning press who will only harp on Trump?"

4 Pinocchios to Trump's claim that millions voted illegally (and without them, he'd have won the popular vote too).

WaPo's Glenn Kessler tries to find some evidence to look at and finds none.

It seems to me that it's Donald Trump's responsibility to point to the evidence, otherwise he simply sounds like an agent of chaos. Why would he want to do that, right when his interest should be in appealing to our desire for resolution, peace, and a smooth transition? He shouldn't be weird! I know he won the presidency by resisting advice that he behave in a way conventional people perceive as normal, but he's not running for the presidency anymore. If he acts as though he thinks he is, he's helping his piddling adversaries. Why?!

Kessler seems to guess that Trump picked up the accusation from "purveyors of false facts as Infowars.com."
Back when Trump was trailing in the polls and was threatening to dispute the election results because the system was “rigged,” we’ve previously given Trump four Pinocchios for making a number of bogus claims about alleged voter fraud.

Among other things, he falsely asserted that illegal immigrants were tipping the results in elections, based on a misinterpretation of disputed data. Even the researcher who produced the data said Trump was taking his findings out of context: “Our results suggest that almost all elections in the U.S. are not determined by non-citizen participation, with occasional and very rare potential exceptions.”
Kessler doesn't really know what Trump knows. How can you know he's lying until he reveals his sources of information? Kessler is jumping the gun. And I'm not very satisfied by a quote from a researcher who admits that he thinks some U.S. elections are determined by non-citizen participation!

ADDED: Could Trump have been joking? It kind of makes sense as a joke, but I'm only arriving at this idea the morning after I read the tweet, so... not much of a joke. Maybe Trump will shout "November Fools!" later today.

November 27, 2016

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

Tweeted Donald Trump today. Also:
It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4-states instead of the 15 states that I visited. I would have won even more easily and convincingly (but smaller states are forgotten)!
Where does he get the idea of millions of people voting illegally? It's not very confidence-building to tweet stuff like that!

ADDED: Is this Trump back in campaign mode — because of the recount? The recounters have their craziness in motion, so he's throwing chaos back at them? He knows how to fight hard. That's how he won. If you provoke the animal to fight, he fights. 

I wish this were a better story.

Because I love this guy's name.

AND: That story is just enough to cause me to link to this other story I'd already rejected: "For some mysterious reason, penises seem to be having a makeup moment." I found that (at Cosmopolitan) after failing to resist "9 Lazy-Girl Ways to Fake a Shower."

IN THE COMMENTS: EDH writes: "Yet just yesterday Althouse was blogging about Florence Henderson performing as the Cockeyed Optimist!" Ah! Serendipity! Nice to return this to such a wholesome place. I could say life is just a bowl of Jello/And appear more intelligent and smart....

Kellyanne Conway's almost-perfect go-to answer for anything.

"Nothing is definite. He'll be speaking with his advisors. And he'll be applying the same brilliance and instincts and, that he, that he applied all throughout the campaign to all of these issues."

I'd have said her perfect go-to answer, but there is that repetition of "that he." I can tell you from watching the show — "Meet the Press" this morning — that she repeated herself to get back on track after the immoderate moderator, Chuck Todd, laughed out loud when she said "brilliance and instincts."

The particular subject there was how Trump was going to deal with Cuba.

Later in the show, Todd prodded her about the problem of conflicts of interest between his businesses and the work of the presidency. Conway said:
[H]e has been talking to his lawyers. He's been talking to ethics compliance folks. Everything will be done the way it needs to be done. But Chuck, there's no question that we're in unprecedented times. This country's not accustomed to having a successful businessman and job creator of tens of thousands of people at the helm. We're just, we're just accustomed to typical politicians ascending through the ranks. So it is different. But it's a large part of why people elected him.
She's testing the idea of flipping the problem into a positive: If his grounding in business is why people wanted him, then we understand the situation, and we should be glad we're not stuck once again with some politician who just ascended through the ranks

The Clinton campaign's joining the recount effort is "a total and complete hypocritical joke."

Said Reince Priebus on Fox News Sunday this morning. These people who purported to worry that Trump wouldn't concede the election are now doing recounts "in states where we won by over 68,000 votes."
I think the American people know this is a waste of everyone's time and money, and it's only... to divide this country when we need to come together no matter who you are, Republican, Democrat, race, gender, whatever it is, and look forward to the future of rebuilding this country and getting us back on track. That's what President Trump is going to do, that's what we want to do, and this is a total and complete distraction and a fraud and something that they should drop. But, look, they will waste our time and we will staff up with thousands of people, we will sit there and look through Scantron ballots, we will win again for the second time and they will lose again for the second time. But our country doesn't need it.
Later in the show, Michael Needham, head of Heritage Action for America, said:
The whole thing is just -- it’s a lot to take. I mean the weeping and gnashing of the teeth from the left, if anything remotely similar had gone on from a Republican, especially Donald Trump, would just be endless. It would have been -- and when you want to look at why people across the country feel like cultural elites, like our media establishment, just don't get them. The notion that this is going on, the notion that Hillary Clinton is joining in, the notion that her campaign is -- it’s just, stop it. Donald Trump won the election. Donald Trump is going to be the president of the United States. The alt-left needs to move on from this nonsense. 
The alt-left. That amused me. (Me, the alt-house.)