February 15, 2019

At the Friday Café...

... you can talk all night.

Taunting/soothing, Trump tweets.

"When I came into office, I met right there in the Oval Office with President Obama. And I sat in those beautiful chairs."

Said Trump — WaPo transcript — who seemed to be flying high at the end of his Q&A session after his speech today.
And we talked. It was supposed to be 15 minutes. As you know, it ended up being many times longer than that. And I said, "What's the biggest problem?" He said, "By far, North Korea." And I don't want to speak for him. But I believe he would have gone to war with North Korea. I think he was ready to go to war. In fact, he told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea.

Now, where are we now? No missiles, no rockets, no nuclear testing. We've learned a lot. But much more importantly than all of it, much more important -- much, much more important than that -- is we have a great relationship. I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. And I've done a job.

In fact, I think I can say this: Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize. He said, "I have nominated you, or, respectfully, on behalf of Japan, I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize." I said, "Thank you." Many other people feel that way, too. I'll probably never get it.

But that's OK. They gave it to Obama. He didn't even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize. He said, "Oh, what did I get it for?" With me, I probably will never get it.

But if you look at Idlib Province in Syria, I stopped the slaughter of perhaps 3 million people. Nobody talks about that.... We do a lot of good work. This administration does a tremendous job and we don’t get credit for it.... So, Prime Minister Abe came here -- I mean, it was the most beautiful... five-page letter. Nobel Prize. He sent it to them. You know why? Because he had rocket ships and he had missiles flying over Japan. And they had alarms going off -- you know that. Now, all of a sudden, they feel good. They feel safe. I did that.

And it was a very tough dialogue at the beginning. Fire and fury. Total annihilation. “My button is bigger than yours” and “My button works.” Remember that? You don’t remember that. And people said, "Trump is crazy." And you know what it ended up being? A very good relationship. I like [Kim Jong-Un] a lot and he likes me a lot. Nobody else would have done that. The Obama administration couldn’t have done it. Number one, they probably wouldn’t have done it. And number two, they didn’t have the capability to do it.
At that point, he suddenly wrapped up — "So I just want to thank everybody. I want to wish our new attorney general great luck and speed and enjoy your life." Enjoy your life? I had the feeling that someone he trusted was flagging him down — Too high, you're flying too high, bring it in for a landing — and he did.

Trump said, "I don't want to speak for" Obama, then told us Obama told him he was "so close to starting a big war with North Korea." Obama was going to start a war? A nuclear war? And Trump doesn't think he should tell, but he immediately tells. Wild.

The man (Trump) is so high on himself. It seems that he was pumping himself higher and higher. He seems liberated by the belief that the Nobel people will never give him their prize, so he'll simply declaim his deservingness... and denounce Obama's.

"I thought this was perfect because she is Acquarius [the water-bearer]. What could be wrong?"

"Bill Graham told me [concert promoter] Michael Lang would be calling me about a poster for this festival they were calling the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. I had been doing a lot of rock stuff at the time. I just thought it was another one of those concerts. I had no reason to think otherwise."

Said the artist David Edward Byrd — quoted in "Bethel Woods, Keeper of the Woodstock Grounds, Is Looking for a New Poster—With Help From the Artist Who Did the Fest’s Original/How peace, love and music make for colorful marketing—then and now" (AdWeek) — about the poster he made that was rejected 50 years ago:

Subtitle of the Day.

Why Trump’s Going to Win on the National Emergency

There’s one arena where the president always succeeds: getting the Republican Party to abandon its principles.
February 15, 2019

At Politico.

The Supreme Court just granted cert. in the case about adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

Robert Barnes reports at WaPo.
The census hasn’t asked the question of each household since 1950, and a federal judge last month stopped the Commerce Department from adding it to the upcoming count. He questioned the motives of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and said the secretary broke a “veritable smorgasbord” of federal rules by overriding the advice of career officials.

Those opposed to the question argue the census response rate will likely fall if households are asked whether undocumented immigrants are present, and make less accurate the once-a-decade “actual Enumeration” of the population required by the Constitution....
The case is Department of Commerce v. New York. New York said in its brief:
The enumeration affects the apportionment of representatives to Congress among the states, the allocation of electors to the electoral college, the division of congressional districts within each state, the apportionment of state and local legislative seats, and the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding....

For at least the last forty years, the [Census] bureau has vigorously opposed adding any such question based on its concern that doing so ‘will inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count’ by depressing response rates from certain populations, including noncitizens and immigrants....

"While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax."

Say the Chicago police, quoted in WaPo.
Chicago police have said they’re investigating the alleged assault against ["Empire" actor Jussie] Smollett, who is black and openly gay, as a possible hate crime. Smollett told police he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 by two people who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, tied a rope around his neck and poured a chemical substance, which he believes to be bleach, on him. According to Smollett, at least one assailant told him “this is MAGA country” during the attack....

"Before the cares of the White House were his own, President Harding is reported to have said that government, after all, is a very simple thing."

"He must have said that, if he said it, as a fleeting inhabitant of fairyland. The opposite is the truth. A constitutional democracy like ours is perhaps the most difficult of man's social arrangements to manage successfully. Our scheme of society is more dependent than any other form of government on knowledge and wisdom and self-discipline for the achievement of its aims. For our democracy implies the reign of reason on the most extensive scale. The Founders of this Nation were not imbued with the modern cynicism that the only thing that history teaches is that it teaches nothing. They acted on the conviction that the experience of man sheds a good deal of light on his nature. It sheds a good deal of light not merely on the need for effective power if a society is to be at once cohesive and civilized, but also on the need for limitations on the power of governors over the governed. To that end, they rested the structure of our central government on the system of checks and balances. For them, the doctrine of separation of powers was not mere theory; it was a felt necessity. Not so long ago, it was fashionable to find our system of checks and balances obstructive to effective government. It was easy to ridicule that system as outmoded — too easy.... A scheme of government like ours no doubt at times feels the lack of power to act with complete, all-embracing, swiftly moving authority.... I know no more impressive words on this subject than those of Mr. Justice Brandeis: 'The doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the Convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency, but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was not to avoid friction, but,  by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy.'"

Wrote Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1952, concurring in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer.

Want to be able to do things the easy way or not?

Tweets Alan Dershowitz this morning.
It is unconstitutional to use the 25th Amendment to circumvent impeachment provisions. The 25th can be used only if POTUS is physically or psychiatrically incapacitated. Any other use is unconstitutional. I challenge anyone to argue differently'
And here he is last night on Tucker Carlson, saying the same thing much more vehemently (replete with the word "treason"):


Want to be able to do things the easy way or not?
pollcode.com free polls

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to the Supreme Court Friday for the first time since she underwent surgery in December...."

"... a court spokeswoman said. Ginsburg, 85, participated in a private conference with her colleagues as they considered which cases to accept for review or reject, said court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg. One item on the agenda was whether the court should skip its normal procedures and consider whether the Trump administration may add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form sent to every household in the country."

WaPo reports.

"A Connecticut woman was severely hurt when she lit a quarter stick of dynamite that she believed was a candle during a power outage in her home..."

"... and is now suing its former owner for the mishap," the NY Post reports.
Mother of two Karina Gutierrez began searching her home for candles after thunderstorms knocked out power to her Bridgeport neighborhood on Sept. 6, 2018, the Connecticut Post reported.

She found what she thought was a candle in the basement and tried to light it up when it blew up, injuring her face and hands, according to the lawsuit against Oscar Aguirre, former owner of their Lindley Street home.

The man who lived to tell the tale of his 10 minute fight with a mountain lion.

It's Travis Kauffman. The lion had his right wrist locked in its jaw the whole time:

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt writes:
This guy rules. American legend.

Didn't know he was from Arkansas, but of course he is....

Some people might be interested to know that the way he talks is fairly typical for people from here.

"A common theory is that [mayonnaise] is named for Port Mahon in Menorca, in honor of the 3rd Duke of Richelieu's victory over the British in 1756..."

"... and in fact the name 'mahonnaise' is used by some authors. But the name is only attested long after that event. One version of this theory says that it was originally known as salsa mahonesa in Spanish, but that spelling is only attested later. Grimod de La Reynière rejected the name 'mayonnaise' because the word 'is not French'; he rejected 'mahonnaise' because Port Mahon 'is not known for good food,' and thus he preferred 'bayonnaise,' after the city of Bayonne, which 'has many innovative gourmands and ... produces the best hams in Europe.' Carême preferred the spelling 'magnonnaise,' which he derived from the French verb manier 'to handle.'. Another suggestion is it derives from Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, because he took the time to finish his meal of chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques."

From Wikipedia, and I looked that up because yesterday we were talking about mayonnaise — as we began the "Bonfire" project, and I was motivated to start looking things up when Laslo Spatula quoted Richard Brautigan:
I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word "mayonnaise."
What a quote! There's also a Tom Robbins quote about mayonnaise. (Remember when we all read Richard Brautigan and Tom Robbins?)
All Carolina folk are crazy for mayonnaise, mayonnaise is as ambrosia to them, the food of their tarheeled gods. Mayonnaise comforts them, causes the vowels to slide more musically along their slow tongues, appeasing their grease-conditioned taste buds while transporting those buds to a place higher than lard could ever hope to fly. Yellow as summer sunlight, soft as young thighs, smooth as a Baptist preacher's rant, falsely innocent as a magician's handkerchief, mayonnaise will cloak a lettuce leaf, some shreds of cabbage, a few hunks of cold potato in the simplest splendor, restyling their dull character, making them lively and attractive again, granting them the capacity to delight the gullet if not the heart. Fried oysters, leftover roast, peanut butter: rare are the rations that fail to become instantly more scintillating from contact with this inanimate seductress, this goopy glory-monger, this alchemist in a jar.

The mystery of mayonnaise — and others besides Dickie Goldwire have surely puzzled over this — is how egg yolks, vegetable oil, vinegar (wine's angry brother), salt, sugar (earth's primal grain-energy), lemon juice, water, and, naturally, a pinch of the ol' calcium disodium EDTA could be combined in such a way as to produce a condiment so versatile, satisfying, and outright majestic that mustard, ketchup, and their ilk must bow down before it (though, at two bucks a jar, mayonnaise certainly doesn't put on airs) or else slink away in disgrace. Who but the French could have wrought this gastronomic miracle? Mayonnaise is France's gift to the New World's muddled palate, a boon that combines humanity's ancient instinctive craving for the cellular warmth of pure fat with the modern, romantic fondness for complex flavors: mayo (as the lazy call it) may appear mild and prosaic, but behind its creamy veil it fairly seethes with tangy disposition. Cholesterol aside, it projects the luster that we astro-orphans have identified with well-being ever since we fell from the stars.

"Trump’s border emergency: President plans a 10 a.m. announcement in the Rose Garden."

WaPo reports.
President Trump is set to hold an event at 10 a.m. in the Rose Garden at White House, where he is expected to sign spending legislation to avert a government shutdown while at the same declare a national emergency with the aim of securing about $6.5 billion more to build his long-promised border wall without congressional approval.

Many of Trump’s Republican allies have called the move ­ill-advised, and Democrats are promising immediate action aimed at blocking it. The declaration is expected to face an array of legal challenges, possibly including from congressional Democrats....
Trump is expected to use about $3.6 billion from a military construction fund and $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund in "an effort to cobble together roughly $8 billion for wall."

February 14, 2019

At the Magenta Café...

... you can talk all night.

"McConnell Says Trump Plans to Declare National Emergency to Build Border Wall.'

The NYT reports.

"Who in the name of God would bring a half-eaten eight-ounce jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise to a public meeting?"

A few days ago, I was talking about a problem that Kamala Harris has as she runs for President:
She's too much of a prosecutor to win the love of a minority group Democrats need to turn out if they're going to beat Mr. Criminal Justice Reform Donald Trump.
Shouting Thomas started off a comment with...
The job of a prosecutor is to put black guys in jail, as noted in "Bonfire of the Vanities."...
I said:
Thanks for reminding me of that book, which I've been meaning to read.

Is Trump trying to coax Clarence Thomas to retire in time for him to snag one more Supreme Court appointment?

According to Jeffrey Toobin (at The New Yorker).
With fifty-three Republicans now in the Senate (and no filibusters allowed on Supreme Court nominations), President Trump would have a free hand in choosing a dream candidate for his conservative base if Thomas were to retire this year. The summer of 2019 would seem an ideal time to add a third younger conservative to the Court... It’s true that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, would likely violate his Merrick Garland rule and try to push through a nominee in 2020, an election year, but 2019 would be much easier to navigate. So, many conservatives are asking, why shouldn’t Thomas leave now?

It seems that the President may have had the same thought. Trump has shown unusual solicitude for Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni, a hard-right political activist. The President and the First Lady had the Thomases to dinner, and then Trump welcomed Ginni and some of her movement colleagues to the White House for an hour-long discussion.... Trump rarely engages in this kind of cultivation, and it’s reasonable to speculate that he’s trying to persuade the Justice that his seat would be in good hands if he decided to leave.

But will Thomas retire?... [A]ccording to his friends, he feels an obligation to continue doing the job for as long as he is able, regardless of the political implications of his departure....
He's only 70, and Justices these days hang on into their 80s. Why wouldn't he? He only just acquired the distinction of being the longest-serving Justice.

"Amazon said on Thursday that it was canceling plans to build a corporate campus in New York City."

"The company had planned to build a sprawling complex in Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for nearly $3 billion in state and city incentives. But the deal had run into fierce opposition from local lawmakers who criticized providing subsidies to one of the world’s most valuable companies. Amazon said the deal would have created more than 25,000 jobs. Amazon’s decision is a major blow for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had set aside their differences to lure the giant tech company to New York.... State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a vocal critic who was chosen for a state board with the power to veto the deal, said the decision revealed Amazon’s unwillingness to work with the Queens community it had wanted to join. 'Like a petulant child, Amazon insists on getting its way or takes its ball and leaves,' said Mr. Gianaris, a Democrat, whose neighborhood includes Long Island City. 'The only thing that happened here is that a community that was going to be profoundly affected by their presence started asking questions.'"

The NYT reports.

From Amazon's statement:
For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.
If you can't get enough love, you can go somewhere else.

"McCabe Says Justice Officials Discussed Recruiting Cabinet Members to Push Trump Out of Office."

The NYT reports on an interview with Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director. According to McCabe, "top Justice Department officials were so alarmed by President Trump’s decision in May 2017 to fire James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, that they discussed whether to recruit cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office."

The interview (with Scott Pelley) is scheduled to run on "60 Minutes" this weekend, and McCabe is promoting a book. My first question is how serious was the discussion. All sorts of things are discussed in passing. Lots of people "discussed" the 25th Amendment in the early days of the Trump presidency, the idea being that Trump was mentally ill.
Mr. McCabe is the first person involved in these meetings who has spoken publicly about them. Mr. Pelley said, “They were counting noses. They were not asking cabinet members whether they would vote for or against removing the president, but they were speculating ‘This person would be with us, this person would not be,’ and they were counting noses in that effort....This was not perceived to be a joke,” Mr. Pelley added....
Funny that the key quotes come from Pelley, not McCabe.

Trump has tweeted this reaction:
Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a “poor little Angel” when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax - a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey. I.G. report on McCabe was devastating. Part of “insurance policy” in case I won....
The NYT doesn't elaborate on why anyone could have seriously thought the 25th Amendment applied. Looking back to early 2017 in my archive, I see that a couple writers at The New Yorker were pushing the Trump-is-insane theory of the applicability of the 25th Amendment. On May 8, 2017, I pointed to Evan Osnos. Excerpt: