May 22, 2024

Glorying in the humiliation of others — it's not an endearing trait.

"That’s why middle school math is this flashpoint. It’s the first moment where you potentially make it very obvious and explicit that there are knowledge gaps opening up."

Said Joshua Goodman, an associate professor of education and economics at Boston University, quoted in "The Algebra Problem: How Middle School Math Became a National Flashpoint/Top students can benefit greatly by being offered the subject early. But many districts offer few Black and Latino eighth graders a chance to study it" (NYT).

"I failed and failed and got my share of deservedly horrific reviews in conspicuous vehicles. And, believe me, I didn’t feel like I was being misjudged."

"Unlike a lot of people, though, I did not swallow the Kool-Aid. I’m reasonably intelligent. I behaved well. But I would have preferred to have been good at what I was applauded for. I’m grateful I had all that, but I live a very different life now. I don’t care at all about being seen in the latest piece of clothing or knowing the latest song. I don’t feel diminished by not knowing those things. I did it all and was looked at, and that was for another time...."

Said Ali MacGraw, quoted in "Ali MacGraw on Her Natural, Beautiful Life" (NYT).

"The new Trump movie has his campaign in an uproar...."


Apparently, the Cannes audience gasped at the brutality of the rape scene. The victim: Ivana.

Another flag to interpret... perhaps...

"It is urgently important that Democrats find ways to depict this cartoon villain as more villainous than comic."

"A host of data shows that a crucial slice of the electorate has relatively sunny memories of the Trump years and a vague understanding of the extremist agenda his allies are putting together for a second term. And worse yet... the youngest voters, on whom Democrats are relying for a big 2024 advantage, know little about Trump at all... 'Santiago Mayer, the 22-year-old founder of the Gen Z group Voters of Tomorrow, which has endorsed Biden, told me that his 18-year-old brother and his friends see Trump as more funny than threatening. "They don’t know much about Donald Trump’s agenda, and Donald Trump is an entertaining character," Mayer said. "They are gravitating toward him not because of their political beliefs but out of sheer curiosity."' It is urgently important that Democrats find ways to depict this cartoon villain as more villainous than comic... Perhaps the way for Democrats to thread the needle is to make Trump appear not just scary but also predictably wedded to the worst aspects of his party...."

Writes Ed Kilgore in "The Biden Campaign Has a Trump-Fatigue Problem" (NY Magazine).

The internal quote — "Santiago Mayer... sheer curiosity" — comes from an Atlantic article by Russell Berman called "The Voters Who Don’t Really Know Donald Trump/Many of this year’s first-time voters were too young to remember what Trump was like in office. Biden hopes to show them." Berman's recommendation is to give young people "a well-funded history lesson." Noted.

"Ousted Trump prosecutor Nathan Wade shocks guests with appearance at ex-lover Fani Willis’ primary election victory party."

The NY Post reports.
The 52-year-old prosecutor’s victory over attorney and author Christian Wise Smith comes as she faces multiple investigations launched by state and federal lawmakers over her alleged misuse of taxpayer money and relationship with Wade.

“We can’t keep turning a blind eye to what’s going on in that office,” Wise Smith argued on the campaign trail Monday. “Chaos. Corruption. It’s time for us in Fulton County to stand up and take our justice system back”....

"The judge actually threatened to strike all of Costello’s testimony if he raised his eyebrows again."

"That of course would have been unconstitutional because it would have denied the defendant his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses and to raise a defense. It would have punished the defendant for something a witness was accused of doing. Even if what Costello did was wrong, and it was not, it would be utterly improper and unlawful to strike his testimony — testimony that undercut and contradicted the government’s star witness.... Moreover, [Justice Merchan's] affect while issuing that unconstitutional threat revealed his utter contempt for the defense and anyone who testified for the defendant. The public should have been able to see the judge in action, but because the case is not being televised, the public has to rely on the biased reporting of partisan journalists. But the public was even denied the opportunity to hear from journalists who saw the judge in action because he cleared the courtroom. I am one of the few witnesses...."

Writes Alan Dershowitz, in "I was inside the court when the judge closed the Trump trial, and what I saw shocked me" (NY Post).

Having Costello testify was a last-minute decision by the Trump defense. He had knowledge of Cohen’s credibility, having been Cohen’s lawyer.... Costello testified that Cohen told him that Trump did not know about the nondisclosure agreement payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. “Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” Costello said....

That is important information, given that it goes to the heart of the case — that Trump allegedly, with intent to defraud, falsified records of the payments because he was also intending to commit some other crime that prosecutors have not yet specified. If Trump “knew nothing about those payments,” as Cohen said, according to Costello’s testimony, that would throw a big wrench in the prosecution’s theory of what happened.

Perhaps you have not heard about Costello’s testimony. If not, that was likely because everyone, including the press, got very excited about what happened later....
Go to the link for quotes from the transcript covering the material Dershowitz wrote about as an eyewitness.

"This is a clarifying political vote that will put every Republican on record as to whether or not they believe in a constitutional right to contraception...."

"They can try to rationalize a vote, but that will not be how it is interpreted by women who want a right to contraception. If the bill doesn’t pass into law, it will be because Republicans oppose protecting American’s right to contraception."

Said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, quoted in "Schumer Plans Vote on Contraception Access, Teeing Up a Campaign Issue/Democrats are planning to spotlight Republicans’ opposition to legislation protecting birth control access nationwide, as part of an election-year push" (NYT).

Trump responded to a question about this bill: "We’re looking at that. Things really do have a lot to do with the states, and some states are going to have different policies than others." So: leave it to the states. The benefits of federalism. But that's a little hard to understand, and Democrats are pushing Republicans to speak in these mystifying terms that cause anxiety about what's really going on.

After Trump got a chance to see the reaction in the media, he stepped away from the federalism talk and said that he would "never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control" or a "ban on birth control."

May 21, 2024

Sunrise — 5:15.




"I say to every young man thinking of getting married, marry into a family with 5 or more daughters."

"I did. My wife is the oldest of 5 sisters. You know why? One of them will always love you. Not the same one. One of them is always going to be on your side. That's the biggest advantage of marrying into 5 daughters."

Oh, he's just an old, old man who re-uses his old, old laugh lines. He doesn't even think about whether this is the sort of thing that people still say these days. And I looked it up to see if maybe this is an old clip. No. He said it today. In Nashua, New Hampshire.

I had to be careful, sharing the forest trail with a turkey.

"Over a dozen Democratic elected officials criticized a parent group that asked for a review of rules that let students play on sports teams that align with their gender identity."

The NYT reports, in "N.Y.C. Parents Rebuked for Questioning Transgender Student-Athlete Rules."
The parent council — representing the diverse local District 2 that weaves through the West Village, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper East Side — said that the current policies present “challenges to youth athletes and coaches” and fail to consider the “well-being of girls.”...

In a letter made public on Monday, a coalition of 18 Democratic elected officials from New York called the proposal “hateful, discriminatory and actively harmful” to the city’s children.... The officials argued that while some parents say they were “simply asking for a conversation,” the resolution “was based in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric”....

"During the second week of Lent, on 'Cat Wednesday,' cats were tossed to their deaths out of the belfry tower onto the town square below."

"At the time, the animals were seen as a symbol of witchcraft and evil, so their deaths were celebrated. The last live cat was thrown in 1817, but Ieper (also called Ypres in French) developed Kattenstoet in 1937, a tradition to both acknowledge the city’s gruesome history and celebrate cats. The parade, which was held on Sunday, May 12, is filled with elaborate floats, costumes and performances. Afterward, a person dressed as a jester tosses stuffed animal cats from the belfry, down to the onlookers below."

From "A City With a Medieval History of Killing Cats Now Celebrates Them/Cat lovers from around the world gathered for Kattenstoet, a cat parade in Iepers, Belgium" (NYT).

I expended my second-to-last free gift link of the month on that because there are some cool and amusing photographs of the place. And there are still 10 more days — and all that Trump-trial business still remaining! Too bad! Belgians twirling in cat costumes and tourists cavorting in cat ears beat out NYT reporters informing us, moment by moment, about whether Trump's eyes are open or shut.

The Trump trial was supposed to be such a big deal, but somehow "a strange sense of anticlimax hangs over the whole affair."

As Michelle Goldberg puts it, in "The Trump Trial’s Great Anticlimax" (NYT).
In a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, only 16 percent of respondents said they were following the trial very closely, with an additional 32 percent following it “somewhat” closely. “Those numbers rank as some of the lowest for any recent news event,” wrote Yahoo News’s Andrew Romano. When people were asked how the trial made them feel, the most common response was “bored.”...

A hopeful possibility... is that a guilty verdict will come as a shock to many Americans who have checked out of the news cycle, perhaps giving them pause about putting a criminal in the White House. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

I wouldn't count on it either. People already have their idea of whether or not Trump is a criminal, and if the jury doesn't agree with them, they'll be outraged at the jury. 

"In resisting disclosure of his recordings, [Richard] Nixon lamented that they 'will be seized upon by my political and journalistic opponents.'"

"Mr. Biden has likewise justified his stonewalling by claiming that the tapes would be used 'for partisan purposes.' But fear of political consequences isn’t a legitimate basis to refuse compliance with a congressional subpoena, then or now. Finally, the administration’s justification for defying congressional subpoenas stands in uneasy contrast with its prosecution of political opponents for similar conduct. The Justice Department prosecuted Trump aides Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for criminal contempt because they refused to comply with congressional subpoenas on grounds of executive privilege.... If Nixon had to produce the tapes, so does Mr. Biden."

Writes James Burnham in "Biden, Nixon and the Hur Report/The president channels a predecessor in seeking to shield White House tapes" (Wall Street Journal).