September 30, 2020

At the Rainbow Panorama Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

Click image to enlarge.

"The Murder Hornets Come Out at Midnight."

"On Aug. 8, 1974, Lillian Brown, a longtime makeup artist for presidents, was urgently summoned to the White House, where she saw President Richard M. Nixon sobbing."

"Engulfed by the Watergate scandal, he was about to go on national television and announce that he was resigning. If he didn’t stop crying, she knew, his makeup would streak down his face. 'He was in bad shape,' Ms. Brown recalled years later. 'We had six minutes to air, and I thought, What can I do for this man?' She tried humor. She reminded him of the time one Christmas when his Irish setter, King Timahoe, kept bumping into the tree and destroying the ornaments. To get the dog away from the tree, Ms. Brown took him into a bathroom, and somehow, as if scripted by the Marx Brothers, she, the dog and Nixon all ended up locked in the loo by the Secret Service. Nixon burst into laughter. With no time to spare, Ms. Brown made him presentable, and he went before the cameras."

From "Lillian Brown, Makeup Artist to Nine Presidents, Dies at 106/She did more than powder noses; she advised on diction and apparel and helped commanders in chief put their best selves forward for television" (NYT).

Biden tried to aggravate Trump by calling him "man" over and over.

From the transcript: The first thing Biden said as he walked out onto the stage was: "How you doing, man?" Obviously that was planned. Trump returned a more polite: "How are you doing?"

18 minutes in he said: "Will you shut up, man?" The context was that the moderator (Chris Wallace) had asked Biden whether he supported packing the Supreme Court. Biden had refused to answer this question before, as Wallace noted, and he didn't want to answer it now:
Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re voting now. Vote and let your Senators know strongly how you feel.
Why shouldn't Court packing be an issue that the American people would take into account as they vote?! He should make clear what Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress would mean so that if people do vote for the Democrats, they are saying they want Court packing. And it's not just about the Senators. It takes a statute to increase the number of seats on the Court. This answer is blatantly deceptive. Or is it clear that Biden does support Court packing and just doesn't want to take responsibility for it? Biden could be against it but know that some Democrats would hold that against him.

It's understandable that Trump interrupts here: "Are you going to pack the Court?"

Have you noticed this?

Just a little experiment of mine.

Asked to tell white supremacists to "stand down," Trump said "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by." Stand by?!

Let's look at the transcript of last night's debate:
Chris Wallace: You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left wing extremist groups. But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland.

President Donald J. Trump: Sure, I’m willing to do that.
That's oddly clever. Asked "are you willing," he says "I'm willing." That's very literal, but the question invited him to do it, not to say he's willing to do it. Why not forthrightly take the cue to do it? Say "White supremacists and militia groups: You need to stand down." Just do it. What holds him back? Wallace has to re-prompt:
Chris Wallace: Are you prepared specifically to do it?
He doesn't even say the equivalent of "I'm willing" this time. He could be cleverly literal again and say, "I am prepared" (instead of doing it). But this time he changes the subject to the other side is worse:

"I am strong... I am invincible... I am woman."

Goodbye to Helen Reddy.

With a big spot of dawn sun shining on my hair, I point at a rainbow.

Photo by Meade:


Photo by me, seconds later:


"Oh! The market doesn't like that Biden won the debate!"/"Maybe what the market doesn't like is that all we've got now are 2 idiots."

Overheard at Meadhouse.

Asked to explain why he "end[ed] racial sensitivity training" in federal agencies, Trump should have been able to state clearly what Critical Race Theory is.

At the debate last night — transcript — Chris Wallace led by equating "racial sensitivity training" and "critical race theory" and tossed in "systemic racism":
This month, your administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory. Why did you decide to do that, to end racial sensitivity training? And do you believe that there is systemic racism in this country, sir?
Trump began well:
I ended it because it’s racist. 
But he should have said clearly why he regards it as racist! Why would "racial sensitivity training" be racist? I know the argument, but not everyone does, and whether we know it or not, Trump should have capsulized the reason for regarding the kind of training that's been going on as racist. What he said next was:
I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane. 
What things?! It's just a weird assertion, "things that were absolutely insane."

September 29, 2020

Here's a place to talk about the debate.

I probably won't talk about anything until tomorrow, but I'll try to approve comments for at least a little while. I expect to fall asleep. It's starting too late! I don't know how old man Biden — and old man Trump — can take these late hours. And I'm in the Central Time Zone. 

ADDED: My son John is live-blogging here.

Who will stop the sun?



"Hairstylists recommend using copious amounts of gel, wax, or K-Y Jelly to ensure your hair stays looking as wet as your face does all day."

From a piece at the The Cut about "all the wet-hair looks that walked at Milan Fashion Week": "Models wore hair that ranged from sopping-wet to kind-of-sweaty, adding some much-needed variety and versatility to the general 'wet-hair look.'"

A glimpse of what that looks like:

I remember when the wet head died:

When the great painter Edward Hopper was a teenager, he painted copies of paintings by other artists — an utterly ordinary approach to learning how to paint.

But the NYT is making a weird huge deal out of this insignificant discovery: "Early Works by Edward Hopper Found to Be Copies of Other Artists/A grad student’s discovery 'cuts straight through the widely held perception of Hopper as an American original,' without a debt to others, a Whitney curator said."

Give me a break! These paintings by the teenager are not the Hopper paintings we've known and loved over the years. They're not the basis of any arguments about his Americanness and originality.

Let's look more closely at this article — by Blake Gopnik — and see what's really going on, why this inconsequential information is inflating into an exposé. Now, it is pretty cool that a scholar was able to find the exact images — the rather bad paintings — that teenaged Hopper used in his fumbling early efforts to manipulate oil paint.

Buried in the NYT article is the concession from the scholar (Louis Shadwick) that in those days "artists almost always got their start by copying." The article is marked as "updated," and I suspect that this is the updating. So let's continue:
A Londoner, [Shadwick] especially wants to understand the notion of “Americanness” that Hopper grew up around, and that then grew up around Hopper as his reputation matured; it still rules much of the talk about him....

In our new century, when the country’s place in the world seems less sure by the day and when even Americans are split on the state of their nation — does it need to be made great again or does it need to face up to past failures? — a “national” treasure like Hopper seems to beg for a fresh approach.
So this story is important because it fits the MAGA-versus-BLM theme of 2020?! Hopper embodies sentiments and modes of thinking that need interrogating.

"It wasn’t pretty the whole way. We took a beating sometimes, had ups and downs, and we were able to find a way and sneak in."

Said Christian Yelich, quoted in "Can The Brewers Beat The Dodgers? Christian Yelich Thinks So/Milwaukee's Offense Needs To Turn Things Around If The Brewers Hope To Make A Playoff Run" (Wisconsin Public Radio). The Brewers finished the season — the 60-game season — at .483. They were in 4th place in their division. But somehow they're in the playoffs. They're going up against the Dodgers, who finished the season at .717. But maybe they can "find a way and sneak in."

Here are the predictions for the playoffs at FiveThirtyEight. I don't understand how they're doing the playoffs in this crazy year. Why is the worst team playing the best team at this stage? Here's an explanation:

"The government allows income to be sheltered from taxation for hundreds of different reasons...."

"[T]he formidable complexity of the tax code makes it difficult to tell when wealthy taxpayers have crossed legal lines. For the rich, taxation often becomes a kind of structured negotiation between the taxpayer’s experts and the government’s experts... Mr. Trump claimed a tax refund of $72.9 million in 2010, according to the Times report; the government paid the claim, and then opened an investigation. If Mr. Trump loses, he could owe the government more than $100 million in repayment, interest and penalties. It should not take federal authorities more than a decade to determine whether Mr. Trump has paid the full amount he owes.... On Tuesday night, when Mr. Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, take the stage for their first presidential debate, both men should be asked what steps they will take to ensure that all Americans pay the full amount they owe...."

So says the Editorial Board of the NYT in "The Picture of a Broken Tax System/Donald Trump’s tax returns illustrate the profound inequities of the tax code and the shambolic state of federal enforcement."

I read the whole thing, and here's what bothers me. First, they suggest that there are too many loopholes in the tax code that rich people take advantage of. The code is so complicated, that motivated tax payers will interpret what they can to their advantage, use it, and argue with the government about it.

It makes me think of my old law school tax professor who liked to say that a tax return is an offer, and you see if the government accepts it or makes a counteroffer. Trump made his offer in 2010, and the government accepted it, and sent him $72.9 million refund but also kept investigating. It's 10 years later, and they're still hovering over him, threatening to take it back — with interest and penalties.

The NYT editors say that the IRS needs more more funding so it can quickly and aggressively enforce the existing tax code. The headline speaks of "the profound inequities of the tax code," but the editors never get around to proposing eliminating loopholes and complexity. Why not? Is it because what they want is to get Trump, and changing the law prospectively is irrelevant to that goal? The only thing that relates to Trump is that the investigation is taking too long. If only the IRS could be more aggressive perhaps they could have figured out by now whether it agrees with Trump's interpretation of the over-complicated law or not.