December 12, 2015

A walk on the Overlode Trail...


... in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, a few days ago. You might think, from that photograph, how tragically dreary. But we found it quite beautiful.

Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Consider doing any shopping you might have through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark climate accord on Saturday that would, for the first time, commit nearly every country..."

"... to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change."
Thought the final deal did not achieve all that environmentalists, scientists and some countries had hoped for, it set the table for further efforts to slow down the slide toward an unlivable planet....
An unlivable planet? When did the prediction become an unlivable planet?
The stated goal of the agreement is to begin to level off the rise in fossil fuel emissions enough to stave off an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That is the point at which, scientists say, the planet will be locked into an inescapable future of devastating effects of global warming, including rising sea levels, severe flooding and droughts, food and water shortages and more extreme storms.
Why would 3.6 degrees make the planet unlivable? Why wouldn't humanity adapt to this change? I understand the argument that it would be better to avert the change, but I don't understand why we would not be able to live on Earth and why we can't explore ways in which it could be better to live on a 3.6 degree warmer Earth. Climate change has been presented as high-quality science, with the deniers as the hysterics who don't want to believe what they don't like to have to believe, but the idea that we are "locked into an inescapable future" of nothing but "devastating effects" and an "unlivable planet" doesn't impress me as science-based.

"She'll be taking me to three different places, all just outside of Parma..."

"... La Traversetolese -- makers [of] Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, then the family Conti -- curers of Parma prosciutto (a mother and daughters operation), and finally Picci Acetaia -- the Balsamic House of the Picci family (a father and son affair). Not interested in finding out about what makes this part of Italy hum? I can't even imagine that possibility. You can't just sprinkle cheese on your spaghetti and fake balsamic vinegar on your salad without knowing about what you're really doing or eating. It's not all that it appears to be!..."

Nina's in Parma with pictures of ham-making and cheese-making and important specifics about the right kind of balsamic vinegar.

"Well, he’s got the Hitler vote. The neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, was out and proud earlier this week: 'Heil Donald Trump — the Ultimate Savior.'"

"After endorsing the Republican presidential front-runner earlier this year for his call to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, the fomenters of American fascism have now added an apt twist to his slogan, one not far from the truth of the campaign: 'Make America White Again.'"

That's the beginning of a column in the New York Times — Timothy Egan, "Goose-Steppers in the G.O.P." — where there is also another column — Anand Giridharadas, "Trumpism After Trump" — that declares: "The Hitler comparisons are fading; people are calming down."

So are Trump antagonists going to stick to the Hitler meme? free polls

"Bowe Bergdahl said he planned to cause a DUSTWUN by leaving his outpost, OP Mest, and running—or at least walking—to his base, FOB Sharana."

"This map (push play to fly over the area) gives a sense of the terrain he would have had to cross."

That's a supplement to the first episode of the new season of Serial, which I've listened to. It's mostly Berghdahl's side of the story — we hear his explanation of what he was supposedly doing — and I didn't believe him. You can listen to the episode here. There's a question at 40:43 that gets a long pause and a "Pretty much." That's when I said out loud: "He's lying."

Anyway, that map makes his story even more absurd.

But then, I listened to the first season of Serial and thought it was easy to hear that the central character was lying, and yet people became intensely involved and got very connected to that person. There's something about the style of the presentation that draws people in and seems to make them want to believe. Unless you believe, why are you listening? Put another way: If you want to listen, you need to suspend disbelief. The art of Serial is that it makes you want to listen.

"But she still suffered from what one expert describes as 'the cosmic toothache' that plagues people with severe, persistent 'gender dysphoria.'"

One line from a very long NYT Magazine article titled: "'A Whole New Being'/How Kricket Nimmons Seized the Transgender Moment."
Peering under the sheet that draped her that early October morning at a hospital outside Philadelphia, Ms. Nimmons bade farewell to what she called “my friend” — that “extra part” for which she was pronounced male at birth. Tattooed on her right forearm was her birth name, “Jerome,” complete with quotation marks.
ADDED: The comments at the NYT are extremely critical of the use of taxpayer money for this surgery.

"I say, folks, you know, I’m sorry I did this to you, but you’ve got to get used to it. It’s one of those little problems in life."

"I’m going to win. ... You know, I’m not one of these other guys that goes down. I don’t go down. I go up."

Donald Trump says get used to it.

"Republican strategists have long theorized about the possibility of the brokered convention, which hasn't happened in decades..."

"... but the dinner meeting [of top Republican Party officials] appears to be the first active planning taken by the GOP to prepare for it," CNN reports.
A brokered convention occurs when no candidate gets enough of the delegates to secure the nomination on the first vote tally. After that, delegates can be given up to other candidates, shifting the balance.... 
[A] new Republican National Committee rule that requires any GOP nominee win a majority of delegates from eight different states....

It had "nothing, zero, nada to do with Trump except he may be one of the candidates standing at the end," said the source. "It was not aimed at anyone."

Sean Spicer, RNC chief strategist and communications director, downplayed the significance of the dinner on Friday. "It was a dinner where the subject was how the delegate selection process works.... At the end of that dinner, there were a lot of questions asked.... It's great cocktail conversation... This is really, to be honest, with you quite silly."
(Strange comma placement in that last sentence.)

Do you know "Who were the last two presidential nominees lacking a majority at the end of the first roll call at their party conventions?" The reason that question asks for two is that it happened in the same year. It was longer ago than 1976, but in 1976, Ronald Reagan got pretty close to getting a brokered convention. (Give up? It was 1952.)
[N]omination by way of a contested convention was a respectable strategy from the 1830s, when conventions became the standard way of nominating candidates, until at least the 1960s. Democratic front runners Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and John Kennedy in 1960 knew that their support might dissipate unless they won quickly. Their chief rivals, Al Smith and Lyndon Johnson respectively, hoped that it would. In both cases effective floor managers kept wavering delegates in line. Kennedy won on the first ballot but not until the alphabetical roll call reached Wyoming; Roosevelt won on the fourth when the Democrats still required a two-thirds majority....

[C]onventions were, are, and probably should be about more than nominations. Senator Richard Russell, the genteel face of racial segregation, accumulated large numbers of delegates at the 1948 and 1952 Democratic conventions in order to demonstrate the power of the white South. Jesse Jackson used the same tactic on behalf of racial equality and a "rainbow coalition" in 1984 and 1988. Whether or not Senator Edward Kennedy actually thought he could shake loose Jimmy Carter's delegates at an "open convention" in 1980, he wanted to make a vivid case for liberalism....

No one can predict whether or not the Republicans will have a contested convention this year, either because Mitt Romney's more conservative rivals might have a chance in combination to deny him the nomination or because they want to make a vivid ideological statement... 
That was, obviously, written in 2012. The odd thing this year is that GOP insiders seem to be looking at a convention where the dominant candidate would be challenged by insurgents making a "vivid case" for... moderation.

"ACLU Board Member Resigns After Urging People To Kill Supporters Of Trump."

"Loring Wirbel’s Facebook post was captured by The Daily Caller – a right-leaning online newspaper."
The post states, “The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before Election Day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force…”...

The ACLU of Colorado released a statement saying it “does not condone the recent personal Facebook post of regional volunteer Loring Wirbel..."....
Of course, the media is full of statements comparing Trump to Hitler and it's no wonder people hear that as a call to stop him and his followers now while there is still a chance. Wirbel just got publicly humiliated, and what he did is now displayed as what it means to go too far, putting it out, in writing, on the internet. But I assume there is much more talk like that, in more trusted circles, and I know there are, every day, many public statements that have the potential to affect intemperate or disordered minds as a call to violence.

ADDED: Wirbel might have thought he was well situated in humor. He recommends speech. You should just say to other people "If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you" before you can vote (not actually shoot them). He uses speech to talk about speech and the way that speech no longer works on some people. They are beyond reason, the idea is, because no reasonable person, by his definition, could decide to vote for Trump.

He might very well thought that was funny and that reasonable people would understand how it is funny. Now, I'm concerned about how speech like that is heard and acted upon by those with intemperate or disordered minds. That is, like Wirbel, I worry about the unreasonable people. He's worried that unreasonable people will vote for Trump, and I'm worried that unreasonable people will — because of all the jacked up rhetoric — commit acts of violence.

Now, I have to give this post my "civility bullshit" tag, because I can see that I'm doing what I have long called civility bullshit. Since I'm saying the Trump-is-Hitler speakers need to tone it down lest they inspire real violence, I need to flag my own hypocrisy.

December 11, 2015

"The Secret Plan To Nominate Mitt Romney From The Convention Floor."

Well, apparently it's not much of a secret.

Remember when we discussed the Romney 2016 possibility in April 2014? I took a poll:

And I said:
Can America go for a candidate who has already had the nomination and lost?... Why couldn't he win if he ran not because he was a sore loser and felt entitled or ambitious, but because he's a modest, dutiful man, called into service in a time of need? And take into account that the opposing candidate is quite likely to be Hillary Clinton, who was so much the front runner in '04 that her failure to get the nomination makes her seem like a previous loser, and that prior loss seems more loser-ish than Romney's 2012 loss, since Hillary was a frontrunner who got blindsided by an upstart, and Romney had an uphill battle against an incumbent. (And wouldn't Romney have won if he'd kept up the first debate aggressiveness in that second debate?)
And I did this poll in January 2015:

That's pretty decisive, telling us something we clearly know now. Jeb's not cutting it.

Let's have a new poll:

How do you feel about a plan to make Romney the GOP nominee? free polls

"He would say stuff like: 'There’s so much going on. There’s so many sleeper cells, so many people just waiting. When it happens, it’s going to be big. Watch.'"

"We took it as a joke. When you look at the kid and talk to him, no one would take him seriously about that.”

Said a regular at Morgan’s Tavern, about Enrique Marquez, who worked there.
Federal investigators believe that more than any other witness, Mr. Marquez, a convert to Islam, has “held the keys” to understanding what motivated [Syed] Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik....

On behalf of Mr. Farook, Mr. Marquez bought the two assault rifles used in the attack, the authorities say. He told investigators he had done so because Mr. Farook believed he could not pass a background check. Mr. Marquez has also described in detail how he and Mr. Farook had been planning another terrorist attack together in 2012....

Last year, Mr. Marquez married the Russian sister of Raheel Farook’s wife. He later told a friend and people at the bar that it was a sham marriage for immigration purposes. He told bar patrons he had been paid $5,000 or $10,000 to marry Ms. Gigliotti’s sister, Mariya Chernykh. He announced the arrangement one day when he came into the bar — which the F.B.I. visited this week — and offered to buy everyone drinks, Mr. Rodriguez, the bar patron, said.... He told Mr. Rodriguez that he had posted photographs of himself and his wife for the sake of appearances, but that Ms. Chernykh lived at her own apartment and would not so much as kiss him....

Shortly after the shooting, Mr. Marquez’s friends noticed a cryptic and poorly written post on his Facebook page: “I’m. Very sorry sguys. It was a pleasure.”

"Trouble with the catchphrase ['Love trumps hate'] is that no one associates Hillary with love."

Writes Meade in the comments to the previous post about Hillary's new "love" theme, which is assumed to be a response to the perception that Trump represents hate. Is it true that "no one associates Hillary with love"? I was trying to think of her talking about love, and then Meade asserted that it's Trump who's always talking about love, which makes me think of how Trump often talks about how much people love him (as in "The Hispanics love me!").

But I did some research about Trump and love, and I came up with this Ben Smith piece, "I Asked A Psychoanalyst To Explain Donald Trump/'He actually, believe it or not, he has a need to be liked.'"
Stanley Renshon is a sweater-wearing Freudian psychoanalyst who has made a sideline through the years of painstaking psychobiographies of American presidents.... He has read all the [Trump] interviews....

“I think he actually, believe it or not, he has a need to be liked,” says Renshon. “He’ll use the phrase ‘he likes me’ or ‘they like me.’ When somebody uses that phrase often, you have to give credit to the idea that that’s something important to them, their need to be liked."
Renshon rejects the idea that Trump is a narcissist:
“He appears to be a real American nationalist with an observable, if bombastic, love of his country... Obviously a love of country is inconsistent with real narcissism, where there is no room for love of anybody or anything but yourself.... I think he genuinely feels like the country is going to hell, and I think he genuinely feels he can do something about it."
There's that word "love." Love of country. But do you associate Trump with love? You can say "love" a lot....

The new Hillary catchphrase: "Love trumps hate."

"The lovey-dovey message seems surprising coming from a Washington veteran so battle-hardened that she often cites Eleanor Roosevelt's mantra about women in public life needing 'skin like a rhinoceros.'"
But as she grapples with Donald Trump's prominence in the Republican race, she's embraced a little love and kindness as a near-constant refrain.... Today, Clinton rarely ends her remarks without asking her audience to consider adding some "love and kindness" to their daily lives...

"That sort of language very much tracks with what a lot of women voters say," said Democratic pollster Margie Omero, who helps oversee research of female swing voters who shop at Wal-Mart. "They say, 'Let's go back to a time in which we're being nicer to each other. Politics has become too coarse.' "
Look over yonder what do you see/The sun is a-risin' most definitely/A new day is comin' people are changin'/Ain't it beautiful crystal blue persuasion/Better get ready gonna see the light/Love, love is the answer and that's all right....

"No one ever thought to report him missing because they thought he wanted to be missing."

Grateful Doe, the corpse found with 2 Grateful Dead ticket stubs in his pocket, is identified after 20 years. 

ADDED: "How Internet sleuths on Facebook and Reddit solved the 20-year-old mystery of a missing teenager." 
“It just broke my heart,” said Lauren Rutley, who helped publicize Doe’s case online. “That he was so young, and no one had reported him missing at the time.” Rutley was one of dozens of volunteers and amateur detectives who worked on Grateful Doe’s case over a period of nearly 10 years. Users on Websleuths, a forum popular with cold-case and true-crime fanatics, had been cross-referencing Grateful Doe’s case against hundreds of entries in the missing persons’ database since July 2005. The search only heated up last December, however, when Reddit took on the case....

WaPo's Fact Checker bestowed its highest award, The Geppetto Checkmark, on Marco Rubio.

Rubio said: "None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them." And Glenn Kessler checked it out, looking at the San Bernardino massacre, the Umpqua Community College shootings, the Chattanooga shootings, the Charleston church murders, all from 2015, and 8 more incidents going back to 2012. He concludes:
This is certainly a depressing chronicle of death and tragedy. But Rubio’s statement stands up to scrutiny — at least for the recent past, as he framed it. Notably, three of the mass shootings took place in California, which already has strong gun laws including a ban on certain weapons and high-capacity magazines.

"... Trump owns and controls the media... they can't not cover him... his audience is bigger than theirs... they need him..."

"... they can't not cover Trump if they want to be watched, if they want to be read, if they want to be listened to," said Rush Limbaugh on his show yesterday. And I'm reading the transcript this morning because Limbaugh is the prime example of a phenomenon I mentioned in the previous post: "many people seem to love Donald Trump out of a weird sense that they somehow are Donald Trump." Limbaugh's weird sense has been on display for months now.
Trump says something like this temporary Muslim moratorium, [the media] get [livid], they get outraged, they can't stand it, and they assume everybody else is.  Their moral superiority leads them to believe that they represent the majority thinking in this country.  And if they don't represent it, they can make it.  The media has always believed they can make and break people, that they determine the outcome of events.  And in large numbers, they've been correct.  When it comes to Trump, all that's out the window, and that's why they're frustrated.
This tracks the way Rush has talked about himself for years. The media regularly snatch onto something he's said, go after him, flaunting moral superiority, as if this time, they will bring him down, and he keeps on going, getting stronger, making those who love him love him more.
... It's a dichotomy for them because over here you have their moral superiority where they believe they represent the majority thinking of people in the country, and if they don't represent the majority thinking, that they can create a majority of opinion.  And now the Trump phenomenon has happened, and they don't have any of that ability.  They realize they're not representative of a majority of thought in the country and that they can't convince people to agree with them that Trump is a reprobate.  And this is causing absolute, sheer panic.  And not just in the media.  It's causing sheer panic in both parties....
They want to take somebody out... There are only a couple, three instances where they're unable to do it, and when those instances pop up they never understand why they're unable to do it. 
A couple or three... One is Trump. The other is Limbaugh. And maybe a third? That's just Limbaugh refraining from exulting Me and Trump, we're the only 2! Why the restraint? I think he's delighting in what he'd like to think is the destruction of mainstream media. After the destruction, they won't be able to take down anybody.
They just don't understand.  And if they do understand, they're in a state of denial, but either way they're panicked and both parties are panicked because none of this makes any sense to them.... The media is fuming over Trump's media campaign and command.  And the Democrats are fuming over Trump's media command...

And politicians who have relied on the media to do their dirty work feel even more helpless now, since their army (i.e., the media) can't take out their enemy.  They don't have the slightest idea what to do....
The media, in their own minds, controls the political horse race. By virtue of their polling and their daily reporting, they have always thought of themselves as having the power to make or break candidates.  Somebody like Todd Akin comes along and says whatever it was he says, the media says, "We're gonna take him out," and they did.  Somebody like Christine O'Donnell comes out and wins in Delaware, "We can't have that.  We're gonna take her out."  They did. Sharron Angle, Tea Party candidate in Nevada, "What a kook. What a weirdo. We can't have that, we're gonna take her out." And joining with the Republicans and all three of these candidates, they did.  They have this power.  They were able to take out Mitt Romney with lies, distortions, and the help of Harry Reid....
Finally, he gets around to himself:
So now they're covering the horse race, but they've lost total control over who wins it.  And they're in abject panic.  You add to it the fact that it used to be much easier to do this when they had their media monopoly.  But that media monopoly was blown up beginning in the late 1980s with the arrival of this program.  There's a reason why these people in the media and the establishment try to lump Trump with me or vice-versa.  Because they also believe they have eternally forever damaged me.

So they think they can do that to Trump.  They haven't.  They have not made one impact on this program and me and you, my audience.  They have not had one iota's worth of impact, whether they know it or not.  And the fact that they can't do what they've always been able to do with Trump, and the fact that the Republican Party leaders, the Democrat Party leaders have always relied on the media to do this for them, by the way.  Now in all three branches of the establishment -- Republican, Democrat, media -- there is sheer, abject panic. 

Things read too early in the morning: "John Kasich Won the Debate."

I'm up hours before dawn and trying to close the tabs I left open last night, when my last post flagged Camille Paglia's denouncement of Taylor Swift as an "obnoxious Nazi Barbie" and "a scary flashback to the fascist blondes" from some period in the past Paglia identifies only as her "youth." Paglia was born in 1947, so I'm not sure what fascist blonde left that mark. Marilyn? Tippi Hedren?

Loose lobbing of the facist/Nazi epithet seems especially lame right now after all its use against Donald Trump. Google Trump is a Nazi or Trump is a fascist and you'll get 40+ million hits for Nazi — including "5 Ways Donald Trump Perfectly Mirrors Hitler's Rise To Power" (Cracked) and "Donald Trump has gone full blown Nazi on us" (Daily News) — and just under 2 million hits for fascist — including "I asked 5 fascism experts whether Donald Trump is a fascist. Here's what they said" (Vox) and "Trump May Be a Loudmouthed Demagogue, but Is He a Fascist?" (Foreign Policy).

Completing last night's post, I wanted to know what Camille Paglia thinks of Donald Trump — Nazi? Fascist? I found "Why Does Camille Paglia Love Donald Trump?/Because she's basically the Donald Trump of feminism" and that was enough for nighttime blogging. (By the way, have you noticed how many people seem to love Donald Trump out of a weird sense that they somehow are Donald Trump?)

This morning, clicking out the tabs of yesterday, I can't let go of the ludicrous "John Kasich Won the Debate" (dated August 7, 2015). Remember that debate? Here's how my readers polled:

What I remember about Kasich in that debate is that when Megyn Kelly asked whether each candidate had "received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first," Kasich answered "Well, Megyn, my father was a mailman...."

So, now, why did Camille Paglia think Kasich won? Paglia largely opined on manhood: "Why do Jeb's smiles remind me of a dimply grandmother?...There's something too baby-like about [Chris Christie]....  [Marco Rubio] seems caught in a time warp of self-stunted maturation.... [Rand Paul was] like a petulant schoolboy.... [Ted Cruz has] an almost womanly face... [Scott Walker is] like a pleasant sitcom dad...." Ah, but Jon Kasich!
His brusque, animated gestures are awkward but manlike in a solid, old-fashioned way. Kasich is a genuine populist with working-class family ties. He made the Princeton-educated Cruz look effete tonight. Kasich was full of specifics about his congressional experience on the armed services and budget committees. I think he won the debate. Kasich is a mensch in a party of parakeets.
He won through manlikeness.

As for parakeets, here's a man in India who feeds 4,000 parakeets a day:

"Like how people keep parakeets in the cage, now the birds have put me in a cage."

December 10, 2015

"Writing about Taylor Swift is a horrific ordeal for me because her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth."

Writes Camille Paglia.
Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill....
Or should we retire the references to Nazis? Hey, I wonder what Camille thinks of Trump. He's the main person who's been called a fascist lately. It was kind of refreshing to see the crusty old label stapled to Swift.

Here's something from last July: "Why Does Camille Paglia Love Donald Trump?/Because she's basically the Donald Trump of feminism."
So far this year, I’m happy with what Trump has done, because he’s totally blown up the media! [...] He’s simply an American citizen who is creating his own bully pulpit. He speaks in the great populist way, in the slangy vernacular. He takes hits like a comedian—and to me he’s more of a comedian than Jon Stewart is! Like claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, because his kind of war hero doesn’t get captured—that’s hilarious! That’s like something crass that Lenny Bruce might have said! It’s so startling and entertaining.... What I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater—chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it! He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes.... That’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls. He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean. I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!

"Attacks on Trump just make these voters like him more."

David Weigel describes efforts by Frank Luntz, the Republican media consultant, to shake a group of Trump supporters by showing them some very negative advertising.

"NPR waits until the 12th paragraph to point out that 'we all have been getting wealthier.'"

Jaltcoh reads an NPR piece titled "The Tipping Point: Most Americans No Longer Are Middle Class."

"The Trump campaign for months now has had a dustbin of history-like quality to it, from the vacuous sloganeering to the outright lies to even the fake hair—the whole carnival barker routine we've seen for some time now."

Said the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Trump's response: "Isn’t that disgusting for a presidential representative to make that comment? I assume he was joking, but for a presidential person representing us in such tough times — we have terrorism and all of the problems — for him to make that comment, I thought it was so ridiculous."

What do you think about what Josh Earnest said? free polls

Everybody loves magic.

Making Belgian Booyah the Wisconsin state soup."

"This bill will designate Belgian Booyah the state soup as a way to honor Wisconsin's Belgian heritage and celebrate Booyah's ability to bring Wisconsin communities together."

I have never heard of Belgian Booyah, but apparently it's a northeast Wisconsin thing (and sold at Lambeau Field restaurants). It's fine with me if a state has a soup, and even if the soup is associated with a subsection of the state that's not mine, especially since it's a part of the state that really needs soup.

Here's some background on Belgian Booyah, with photos and a recipe that looks good, replete with short ribs and chicken thighs.

ADDED: Does any other state have a soup? Is there any other soup that might be considered the Wisconsin soup? I've seen beer cheese soup.

"The Farcical Debate Over an Authorization for the War on ISIS."

"... In other words, Obama will continue the war in Iraq and Syria regardless of what Congress does, and he will keep pretending that he has legal authority to do this even if they never vote on it."
The only reason he is even bothering to ask Congress for a new authorization vote is to make a political statement about support for the intervention. Under these circumstances, the debate would be a farce. There would be no danger that the vote might come out “wrong,” and so the debate would be even more heavily skewed in favor of war than it usually is. Congress would be participating in the process with the understanding that its involvement is purely for show, and so I doubt most members would take the debate seriously....

"Warner/Chappell Music has settled a sprawling class action over its now-invalidated copyright for 'Happy Birthday to You'..."

What will it pay and to whom?
The settlement, announced in a court filing Wednesday, comes two months after Warner was hit with a ruling that it had never owned any rights to the iconic birthday song... Since then, a charity linked to the song's original authors has intervened in the case to claim that it is the true owner of the song... The settlement involves all three sides — Warner, the plaintiffs who sued, and the charity, Association for Childhood Education International...  The filmmakers who filed the case originally only wanted to recover licensing fees paid since 2009, but, citing revelations that Warner had “concealed evidence,” the plaintiffs asked in October to enlarge the class to cover any one who paid “Happy Birthday” licensing fees all the way back to 1949...
Why does the Association for Childhood Education International say it owns the copyright? (Boring) answer here.

"Should women now be drafted? Why many women answer 'yes.'"

"In some ways, the debate is largely a symbolic one – at least for now...."

Making women part of the draft is a good way to create resistance against ever restoring the draft. I find it extremely hard to picture the government ever forcing women into combat, and at the same time, it seems wrong to take nonvolunteers and put them in jobs structured by gender. (And I say that as the daughter of a woman who joined the Army in WWII and worked in the care of men who suffered from combat fatigue until she was seen as more useful for her typing skill.)

I've taught the Supreme Court case Rostker v. Goldberg for many years, and I feel I've seen opinion change on this subject. I usually at some point say something like: I don't think the American public would accept requiring women to go into combat. And in recent years, it seems, the reaction from law students is puzzlement. Why am I even saying that?

ADDED: If my mother had not been transferred into typing, she would not have met my father, and I would not be here to tell you about it.

"After UW-Madison chancellor's email stirred controversy, Regents prepare resolution on free speech."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

The email, sent to students by Rebecca Blank on November 13th included:
"While individuals are always free to express their own beliefs, no one is entitled to express them in ways that diminish others, or that devalues the presence of anyone that is part of our Badger community." 
Full text here. Later, Blank said she'd intended it "as an appeal for civility and respect in how we deal with each other as a community." But it's not just an appeal for civility and respect, because it said "no one is entitled," which means there is no right. Blank seemed to acknowledge a right when she said "individuals are free to express their own beliefs," but she qualified it by denying that there's a right to express those beliefs in the wrong "ways." That seems to draw a line between the ideas you can express and the form you may use to express them, but: 1. Many ideas, even stated in a polite form, diminish and devalue others (or could be deemed to do so), and 2. We actually do have a right to choose not only the substance but the form of expression. (And by the way, the demand for polite, respectful, civil expression can undercut the speech of protesters and has a disparate impact on those who do not come from a cultural and family background where polite speech is the usual form of communication.)
The proposed resolution says:
"It is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they, or others, find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive... Exploration, deliberation, and debate may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought ... to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed... It is for the members of the university community, not for the institution itself, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress exploration of ideas or expression of speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.... Although the university greatly values civility... concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as justification for closing off discussion of ideas."
That language tracks the statement the Princeton faculty adopted last April:
"[I]t is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community."
MEANWHILE: Observe that calls for civility can come from different directions and even from both sides of a single dispute, like this: "Yale professor resigns: Can 'civil dialogue' share space with student rage?/A Yale professor resigned after a student uproar over her e-mail about offensive Halloween costumes. While critics have called students coddled and naive, observers say there's more going on than political correctness run amok."

"The September stampede during the hajj in Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,411 pilgrims... three times the number of deaths acknowledged by the kingdom three months later."

According to a new AP count, "based on state media reports and officials' comments from 36 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the hajj." The official Saudi number is still 769. The linked article, in the NYT,  says 2,411 makes this year's disaster "the deadliest in the history of the annual pilgrimage." The previous high was a 1990 stampede that killed 1,426.

So "deadliest in the history of" the hajj, but have there been stampedes — "crush" is really the better word — that have killed more? I don't think so. According to Wikipedia's "List of human crushes," which includes crushes in all settings — including the 1903 fire in the Iroquois Theatre and the 1979 Who concert —the 1990 crush was the previous high. The second highest was only 603 (in the Iroquois Theatre fire) or the Kumbh Mela stampede (at a festival celebrating independence in India) which killed 500 to 800.

So the 1990 hajj crush was already almost twice as big as any other crush in history, and this year's crush was almost twice again as big.

CORRECTION: I did not look closely enough at the separate chart for the 19th century on Wikipedia's list of human crushes. There is, in fact, one more crush, in 1896, and it was larger than the 1990 Mecca stampede: the Khodynka Tragedy, which killed 1389:
Nicholas II was crowned Tsar of Russia on 26 May 1896. Four days later, a banquet was going to be held for the people at Khodynka Field. In the area of one town square, theaters, 150 buffets for distribution of gifts, and 20 pubs were built for the celebrations. Near the celebration square was a field that had a ravine and many gullies. On the evening of 29 May, people who had heard rumours of coronation gifts from the tsar began to gather in anticipation. The gifts which everybody was to receive were a bread roll, a piece of sausage, pretzels, gingerbread, and a commemorative cup. 
At about 5 o'clock in the morning of the celebration day, several thousand people (estimates reached 500,000) were already gathered on the field. Rumours spread among the people that there was not enough beer or pretzels for everybody, and that the enamel cups contained a gold coin. A police force of 1,800 men failed to maintain civil order, and in a catastrophic crush and resulting panic to flee the scene, 1,389 people were trampled to death, and roughly 1,300 were otherwise injured. Most of the victims were trapped in the ditch and were trampled or suffocated there. Despite the tragedy, the program of festivities continued as planned elsewhere on the large field, with many people unaware of what had happened. The Tsar and his wife made an appearance in front of the crowds on the balcony of the Tsar's Pavilion in the middle of the field around 2 p.m. By that time the traces of the incident had been cleaned up.
Correction, part 2: The Russian crush was less than the 1990 Mecca crush. I miscorrected!

A new CBS/NYT poll has Trump on top by 19 points, with 35% of Republican primary voters — a 13 point increase since October.

Fifty-one percent of his backers say their minds are made up about him, compared to just a quarter of voters who support a candidate other than Trump.

Trump leads among both men and women. He has more than a 20-point lead among non-college graduates (and a smaller lead among those with a college degree)
The poll was done December 4 through 8. Trump's statement about excluding Muslims from the U.S. came on the 7th

The podcast "Serial" begins Season 2 this morning — the story of Bowe Bergdahl...

"... the U.S. soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for nearly five years...."
This story—it spins out in so many unexpected directions. Because, yes, it’s about Bowe Bergdahl and about one strange decision he made, to leave his post. (And Bergdahl, by the way, is such an interesting and unusual guy, not like anyone I’ve encountered before.) But it’s also about all of the people affected by that decision, and the choices they made. Unlike our story in Season One, this one extends far out into the world. It reaches into swaths of the military, the peace talks to end the war, attempts to rescue other hostages, our Guantanamo policy. What Bergdahl did made me wrestle with things I’d thought I more or less understood, but really didn’t: what it means to be loyal, to be resilient, to be used, to be punished....
I haven't listened yet, but I surely will.

"But Scalia’s arguments became quite clumsy, and raised some eyebrows, when he suggested that maybe the University of Texas needs fewer minority students..."

"... and he suggested that many of them find that the classes are 'too fast' for them at such high-rank institutions, and thus prefer to go to lower-ranked, 'slower-track schools.'"

From Lyle Denniston's description of the oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin yesterday.
Garre, the university’s lawyer, responded by reminding Scalia that the Supreme Court had rejected that very type of argument a dozen years ago in the last major ruling to uphold a college affirmative action plan, for the University of Michigan Law School.  “Frankly,” Garre said, “I don’t think the solution to the problems with student body diversity can be to set up a system in which not only are minorities going to separate schools, they’re going to inferior schools. . . .  Now is not the time and this is not the case to roll back student body diversity in America.”

... [Garre's] comment seemed directed at Justice Kennedy, in the hope that Kennedy would not be comfortable casting the decisive vote that ended affirmative action on American campuses. If those were his thoughts, the hearing provided some foundation for them.
Those who are focused on Justice Kennedy should remember that he dissented in the University of Michigan Law School case? There, he wrote:
If universities are given the latitude to administer programs that are tantamount to quotas, they will have few incentives to make the existing minority admissions schemes transparent and protective of individual review. The unhappy consequence will be to perpetuate the hostilities that proper consideration of race is designed to avoid. The perpetuation, of course, would be the worst of all outcomes. Other programs do exist which will be more effective in bringing about the harmony and mutual respect among all citizens that our constitutional tradition has always sought. They, and not the program under review here, should be the model, even if the Court defaults by not demanding it.
Kennedy's questions yesterday were focused on the procedural status of the case, which looked to him like "the same case" the Court had sent back in 2013 when it sent the parties back to the lower court with instructions to look more deeply into something that I assume was highly significant to Justice Kennedy. The case did not go back to the district court for the development of evidence but only to the Court of Appeals which purported to look more deeply into the legal question. Yesterday, there was much discussion of sending the case back down again, but Kennedy was left saying the university “would not put in more evidence than we have now.”

ADDED: By pointing at the mismatch argument crudely, Scalia gave supporters of affirmative action a lavish gift.

December 9, 2015

"I’m guilty. There’s no trial. I’m a warrior for the babies. Let it all come out. The truth!"

The Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert L. Dear Jr., shouted in court today.

"I. Will. Never. Leave. This. Race."

An interview with Donald Trump. Published today in The Washington Post but done on December 3, the morning after the San Bernardino massacre.

Also in WaPo: "Jeb Bush tweets Trump-Clinton conspiracy theory. Here’s a look at the ‘evidence.’"

"North Face co-founder turned ‘eco baron’ Douglas Tompkins is killed in Chile kayaking accident."

The Washington Post reports:
Tompkins grew up in New York in the 1940s and 50s, the son of a decorator and an antiques dealer living in a tony village outside the city. But he struggled to hew to his parents’ aristocratic ideals. At 17, he was expelled from his prestigious Connecticut boarding school for one-too-many infractions — “I wasn’t great on heeding authority,” Tompkins told Humes, who wrote about the millionaire environmentalist for his book “Eco Barons.” Tompkins never got a high school degree.

Instead, he took off for the mountains out West, where he became a climber, ski bum and all-around adventurer. He met his first wife, Susie (now the entrepreneur and Democratic donor Susie Tompkins Buell) while chopping trees in California’s Tahoe City, and in 1963 they moved to San Francisco, where they opened a small shop peddling high-end climbing and camping equipment from Europe. They called it the North Face....

He was done “manufactur[ing] desires to get people to buy our products,” he told the Guardian, “selling people countless things that they didn’t need.” Fashion was “intellectually vacuous” he said, and it was part of the problem of environmental degradation. If he wanted to save the planet, he wasn’t going to do it by selling clothes.

Tompkins divorced his wife, with whom he was often fighting, and sold his shares of Esprit for a reported $150 million....
Remember Esprit? I wore a lot of Esprit things in the 80s. Anyway, Tompkins bought "40,000 acres of dense forest and precipitous fjords" in Patagonia, his first conservation project. He married "Kristine McDivitt, the former chief executive of the Patagonia outdoor wear firm," and they "bought up hundreds of thousands of acres in Chile and Argentina to be maintained as wilderness."

And then yesterday he was kayaking on General Carrera Lake in Chile, the boat capsized, and after too much time in the cold water, he died of severe hypothermia. He was 72.

Time's Person of the Year: Angela Merkel.

"In a year where world leaders were tested all through the year, no one was tested like she was...."

I thought it would be Donald Trump, but as long as we're talking about Germany, let me pass on something I saw in the sidebar at the link (which goes to Politico): "Trump not bothered by comparisons to Hitler."

At this excellent self-defense video, the top-rated comment is: "Fear mongering."

And somebody else says: "The fear and thought of something bad happening is just as traumatic as if it really happened. Fear mongering is used in the media to keep the masses divided and afraid to talk to one another, it's a form of passive violence. It justifies the authorities taking away your rights 'for your own protection.'"

There are those who think we've got nothing to fear but fear itself. I know. Absurd. That's such an extreme statement. Let me paraphrase: Fear cripples us now and continually, and what we fear is only a possibility in the future, so reject fear and take the risk of getting hit by what you fear.

But that too is absurd. You don't have a fear switch that you can turn off at will. Numbing yourself or blinding yourself is a possible strategy, but it might not work very well and, like fear, it's a low quality state of mind, not worth cultivating. Another strategy for dealing with fear is to channel it into useful perception and action — which is what is shown in the video — and that should lessen the actual risk.

By the way, FDR said: "[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

That second clause matters, and the caution wasn't against "fear itself" but fear that paralyzes. He certainly wasn't saying you should paralyze your fear sensors because fear itself hurts.

ADDED: Speaking of fear that paralyzes, Trump's new book is "Crippled America."

"Donald Trump's reprehensible call to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the United States tracks an exam question I’ve been giving my immigration law students since Sept. 11."

"Would such a proposal be constitutional? The answer is not what you might think..."

Unless you've read all the many other op-eds dotted about mainstream media, but this one, by Temple lawprof Peter J. Spiro, caught my eye because I need to write a couple of law school exams and I have never — in 30+ years — reused a question. I've never even taken the same question and tweaked it with the aim of convincing myself I wasn't reusing it.

Anyway. Professor Spiro does a fine job of explaining the Supreme Court's "extreme deference" to Congress and the President under what's known as the "plenary power" doctrine:
It dates back to the 1889 decision in the Chinese Exclusion case, in which the court upheld the exclusion of Chinese laborers based on their nationality... More recent decisions have upheld discrimination against immigrants based on gender and illegitimacy that would never have survived equal protection scrutiny in the domestic context. Likewise, courts have rejected the assertion of First Amendment free speech protections by noncitizens. Nor has the Supreme Court ever struck down an immigration classification, even ones based on race. As late as 1965, a federal appeals court upheld a measure that counted a Brazilian citizen of Japanese descent as Asian for the purposes of immigration quotas. In the context of noncitizens seeking initial entry into the United States, due process protections don’t apply, either....

The courts have justified this constitutional exceptionalism on the grounds that immigration law implicates foreign relations and national security — even in the absence of a specific, plausible foreign policy rationale. The 1977 Fiallo case, for instance, involved a father seeking the admission of his out-of-wedlock son from the French West Indies — hardly the stuff of national interest.

Indeed, contrary to the conventional understanding, President Trump could implement the scheme on his own, without Congress’s approval. The Immigration and Nationality Act gives the president the authority to suspend the entry of “any class of aliens” on his finding that their entry would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
Spiro goes on to say that the Constitution has meaning beyond what the courts are willing to detect and enforce. As he puts it: "Clear popular consensus can establish constitutional norms, with or without the courts."
Mr. Trump’s plan has triggered an uproar across the partisan divide. Perhaps a religion-based immigration bar may be consistent with court-made doctrine. But it doesn’t reflect our deeper, broadly assimilated understandings of the Constitution.
But is there clear popular consensus? I guess we should at least wait for the next round of polls, because Trump is immensely popular, at least with a sizable enough sector of Americans to wreck the clarity of the picture of popular consensus. Politicians and commentators are trying to lead a chorus of shaming, but Trump may be saying what many are thinking but don't want to be caught singing out.

This "constitutional norms" idea is self-canceling. Trump can't do what he's proposing unless he gets elected, and he won't be elected unless people support him, and if people support him then those constitutional norms that forbid what he's proposing don't exist. 

"This oral argument... shone a light on the inaccuracy of the concept of 'one person, one vote' that we've taken as a stunningly correct precept for half a century."

"So be a tad less fuzzy-headedly idealistic and face reality. That's always a pretty decent idea."

The last 3 sentences in an 8-sentence update I just added to last night's "Supreme Court Hears Arguments on ‘One Person One Vote.'" 

In the cold light dark of morning, moderating the night's worth of comments, I could see that people wanted a flat-out prediction that it was easy for me to make.

ADDED: Reading my own writing (there in the post title), I had to wonder: What's the difference between a "concept" and a "precept"? I mean, that's what I wondered after I wondered why I didn't notice the awkwardness of using both those words and edit one out. It's 5:50 and I have no precepts or concepts that prevent me from going in and changing it now, in this and the earlier posts, but I'm actually interested in the language question.

The etymology of "concept" is complicated. The OED cites "multiple origins." One is the Latin word conceptum, which means "that which is conceived, fetus, that which is conceived in the mind, idea." Have you ever thought of your ideas as fetuses? Well, I just gave birth to that one, but I could have aborted it.

There's also the Middle French word "concept," which originally meant "idea, mental image," and the Dutch and German "concept," which meant "plan" or "design."

"Concept" basically is an idea, notably an "idea underlying or governing the design or content of a product, work of art, entertainment."

Now, how to distinguish it from a "precept"? This is a "general command or injunction; a rule for action or conduct." It's not just an idea, but an idea that we must follow, a maxim. You might think: "pre-" means before and "con-" means with, so there's some kind of time line. And if we go back to the Latin, we can find "praecipere," which means "to take beforehand, to anticipate, to presuppose, to give instruction, to advise, to order, command." That is, you can see how a rule that must be followed comes before whatever it is that it commands you to do.

So there are many concepts that are not precepts. And I'll leave it to you to decide when a fetus becomes a person a concept becomes a precept.

December 8, 2015

"Supreme Court Hears Arguments on ‘One Person One Vote.'"

Adam Liptak reports.
The basic question in the case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, is who must be counted in drawing voting districts: all residents or just eligible voters?

The difference matters, because people who are not eligible to vote — children, immigrants here legally who are not citizens, unauthorized immigrants, people disenfranchised for committing felonies, prisoners — are not spread evenly across the country. With the exception of prisoners, they tend to be concentrated in urban areas.
So there are 2 theories of which people to count as population proportionate districts are drawn. Think it through: 1. Which party is advantaged by each theory? 2. Which approach is better as a matter of nonpartisan principle? (Does the chosen official represent those who voted for him or everyone in the district?) 3. Is each state free to pick either theory or does the constitutional right to equal protection require one (and which one!)?

Did your answer on question 1 drive your answers on questions 2 and 3? You might have gotten question 1 wrong, you know, so be careful! I think a lot of people have an instinctive answer to #1 that's wrong. I recommend checking your work with a pencil-and-paper diagram.

ADDED: Here's the transcript of the argument. I'm surprised to see Justice Breyer bring up what he refers to as the Republican Form of Government Clause (which is more commonly called the Guarantee Clause ("The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government")). For a long long time, that clause has been held nonjusticiable (i.e., not within the purview of the courts). But Breyer suggests that it should affect the meaning of Equal Protection, permitting an interpretation based on "the kind of democracy where people, whether they choose to vote or whether they don't choose to vote, are going to receive a proportionate representation in Congress."

The lawyer trying to require the states to exclude noneligible voters from the calculation drew questions only from the liberal side of the Court. The state's Solicitor General stressed that the only question is whether the state is forbidden to use the whole population (which is what all the states currently do). On page 29, Justice Alito notes the difference between arguing that "total population figures are a good enough proxy for eligible voters" and arguing that "representational equality is the real basis, and therefore that's why you use population." The SG says he's not making either argument (because he wants it to be that the state is free to do it either way).

On page 31, we hear from Justice Kennedy: "Well, if the voter population is a permissible basis under the Constitution, I assume that's because there is ­­ is an ethical, a good government, a liberty interest in protecting these voters... Well, if in a case like this where there is a 45 percent deviation, something of that order, then why isn't Texas required at that point to recognize that these interests that are legitimate under the Constitution, which are voter based, should not be accommodated, and so that you should at least give some consideration to this disparity that you have among voters?" That is, at some point, the difference between the 2 approaches is so great that the usual reliance on total population may become an Equal Protection violation.

There's also argument from the United States taking the position that the state is not only permitted to district based on the whole population but it is also required to do so. "It would be very odd," the lawyer says, bolstering the state's argument, "for the Court to demand, as a constitutional standard, data that does not even have to be collected." But why is it not even permissible? Another way to look at that is: If it would be so incredibly difficult to do, no state will opt to try it, and the Court will never have to say whether it's permissible.

MORNING UPDATE: It's easy to predict that the Court will reject this claim and let the states keep relying on the longstanding population-based method of redistricting. Even though there's some principled sense to the eligible-voter-based method, there's also principled support for the existing method. It would need to be much more obvious that there's something wrong with the existing method before the Court would declare that what's been done for so long is not even permissible, especially when it would require states to undertake so much difficult and expensive new work and to draw many new and sure to be contentious lines.

If the Court were anywhere near to making a decision like this, Justice Scalia would have grilled the state's lawyer. In fact, he asked an astounding total of zero questions.  This oral argument was interesting in the way it shone a light on the inaccuracy of the concept of "one person, one vote" that we've taken as a stunningly correct precept for half a century. So be a tad less fuzzy-headedly idealistic and face reality. That's always a pretty decent idea.

UPDATE, April 4, 2016: The Court decides as predicted and unanimously.

"Many of the ideas and themes that characterize Vonnegut were born in the conversation between Kurt and Janet..."

"... and throughout his career she remained a voice in the text. She was there: that was her," writes Ginger Strand in The New Yorker.

"Some Muslim Americans Irritated By Obama's Call For Them To 'Root Out' Extremism."

NPR reports. Excerpt:
"We're not law-enforcement officials," said Shahed Amanullah, a Washington, D.C.-based Muslim American entrepreneur with Silicon Valley connections. He has worked with the U.S. government on combating online extremism, but he said it's unrealistic to expect Muslim Americans to confront violent people in their midst.

"We're community members and Americans like everybody else," he said, "and we should have the same relationship with law enforcement that everybody else has. To expect us to be on the front lines without having the capacity or the support would not be [productive]. It wouldn't be productive with any community."

"But a donor who attended the fundraiser at the Georgetown bar said that many supporters are struggling to accept Bush’s troubles."

"So how are they coping? 'Alcohol,' the donor said."

From a WaPo article that begins "Being Jeb Bush these days means coping with a series of petty humiliations."

"Severed pig’s head thrown at Philadelphia mosque door."

WaPo reports.
“It’s just a pig’s head — that’s not a big deal; but it does send a message,” said mosque spokesman and Arab American Development Corp. Director Marwan Kreidie. “I think people are worried that if they do a pig’s head, they could do something more violent in the future.”...

A manager at Philadelphia’s Al-Aqsa Islamic Society said the mosque received a voicemail on Nov. 14 that alluded to the Paris attacks, according to police. “Are you happy about what happened in France?” the male voice stated. The persona also said, “God is a pig!” and “God is Pork!”

"My dad, Richard L Cohen, on December 8, 1980: 'We were living in an NYU-owned studio apartment...'"

"'... on the fifteenth floor of Washington Square Village on Bleecker Street. I was awaiting the publication of my first book and writing the second one; Ann was in her last year of law school and pregnant with our first child, who, three months later, we decided to name John. The clock radio woke us, and the first sound that came over it was an announcer’s voice: "We’ll have more about the murder of John Lennon after this."...'"

John remembers.

"December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died."

"It is the official day the public will use to mourn him, and it was the last day he could be propped up in front of a microphone for the financial benefit or enjoyment of others," writes the ex-wife of the now-dead Stone Temple Pilot.
The outpouring of condolences and prayers offered to our children, Noah and Lucy, has been overwhelming, appreciated and even comforting. But the truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago....

The backwards notion that Obama was late for the glamorous 2015 Kennedy Center Honors because he needed to give an Oval Office address.

Here's the standard presentation of that notion in People Magazine, replete with video, from which I grabbed this still.

But I think the address was deliberately scheduled to step on the other event. I think his advisers noticed that his attendance at a glamorous Kennedy Center event that night was bad optics so close to the San Bernardino massacre, and they wanted to show him hard at work on the terrorism problem, and they specifically chose to put the address where it would make him late. They chose the Oval Office — where he's only ever spoken twice (both times in 2010) — to draw as much attention to it as possible and to underscore the message that he's on the job, doing all he can to protect us. Unfortunately, Obama failed to really sell that message. The speech was weak in content and delivery. And — this is the part that gets me — he wasn't sitting at the desk in classic Oval Office form. He was standing at a lectern. So the in-the-office, hard-at-work image never came across.

Hillary Clinton called for "resolve" in "depriving jihadists of virtual territory... websites, social media," saying "We should work with host companies to shut them down."

As soon as Twitter suspends one account, a new one is created.... [And] of the top five encryption apps recommended by the Islamic State, none are American-made....
“We don’t believe that law enforcement should delegate their responsibilities to private enterprise,” said David Greene, director for civil liberties at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Especially ones that haven’t sought out that role.”

"I wrote something very salient and important and probably not politically correct, but I don’t care."

Said Donald Trump.

I read that out loud and Meade — who really did not know I was reading a quote — said "Something has gotten into you."

I would never use "salient" in spontaneous speech.

ADDED: The oldest meaning of "salient" is leaping or jumping, notably said of animals that move by leaping, such as "Salient Mackrel." The second oldest meaning (this is all from the OED) refers to water jetting forth or "leaping upwards":
1669   R. Boyle Contin. New Exper. Physico-mech. iv. 17   We could take notice of the Lines describ'd by the Salient water, as the ejaculation of that Liquor grew still fainter and fainter.
So when you hear "salient," think: ejaculating. Of course, an ejaculation is a part of speech. Trump frequently ejaculates. It's true!

I was reading this aloud and Meade said: "More ejaculate from the non-wimp." The reference is to the notorious Carter era headline: "More Mush from the Wimp." (Side note: How good it is that Jimmy Carter is now cancer free.) I googled to get to a link for "More Mush from the Wimp," and it took me to an essay Roger Kimball published yesterday, "More Mush From the Wimp." I immediately assumed he was talking about Obama's Oval Office speech, but it was about Peter Salovey, the President of Yale. Here's one sentence written by Kimball, and it's the opposite of an ejaculation, which is a verbal expression of a word or 2 or 3, though it does contain an erection:
At Yale, the ursine circus culminated (as of this writing) in a late-night march to Salovey’s house where “traumatized” students presented a long list of demands, including abolition of the title “Master” for the heads of Yale’s residential colleges, the erection of a monument in a prominent public space acknowledging that Yale had been built on land “stolen” from “indigenous peoples,” renaming Calhoun College because its namesake, the Congressman, Senator, Vice President, and Secretary of War, had also been a strong advocate of slavery, a mandatory “ethnic studies” requirement for all students, and more attention, money, and privileges for Yale’s “students of color.” 
That's a very long sentence — 103 words — and I was going to ejaculate "Diagram that!" but it's actually pretty easy to diagram, the length mostly attributable to a long list. Did you enjoy "ursine circus"? I like the look and the sound, but I would never choose to ridicule students with an animal metaphor and, worse, the poor bears who are exploited in circus work don't deserve the comparison to Ivy League college students choosing to devote themselves to pushing for greater attention to racial matters. Perhaps someone could compose a fable about circus bears getting the idea of protesting their dismal condition and deciding that the crucial problem was race consciousness. Why is it always the black bear? You never see a polar bear forced to jump through a hoop of real fire!

"Russia Gives France a Puppy..."

Russia gives France a puppy.

December 7, 2015

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

"According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing '25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad' and 51% of those polled, 'agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.' Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won't convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. Mr. Trump stated, 'Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.'"

So says a press release from Donald J. Trump.

ADDED: What are people saying about Trump's statements? Condemnations all around? But what if — perhaps today — 10 sleepers awake in 10 towns in the United States and there are 10 San Bernardinos? What if 100?

"Saint Is Already A More Popular Baby Name Than North."

"Kim Kardashian and Kanye West got creative, but not too creative, with their new son’s name."

Is anyone praising Obama's Oval Office speech?

I'm hearing a lot of negative spin — Obama squandered the opportunity, etc. So I went looking to see if places that would be expected to support him are saying nice things.

I tried Talking Points Memo and the front page is cluttered with all sorts of things but the only Obama-speech-related items are: "Fox Guest On Obama: 'Such A Total Pussy, It's Stunning'" (top left) and (lower down) "Fox News Host: Obama ‘Could Give A Shit’ About The Threat Of Terrorism." That's nothing complimentary about Obama, just the direction to look elsewhere, at how nasty his critics are. 

The Daily Beast front page has that "pussy" guy...

There's also a column by Michael Tomasky, "President Obama’s Challenge to Muslim Americans":
This is the first time Obama has issued this challenge to Muslim Americans.... [I]f other Americans had some sense that Muslim Americans as a group were really working to ferret out the radicalism, then this stalemate might be broken. If anything Obama should have been more emphatic about this. He should now go around to Muslim communities in Detroit and Chicago and the Bay Area and upstate New York and give a speech that tells them: If you want to be treated with less suspicion, then you have to make that happen. That would be real leadership, and a real service....
Sounds like there's a big, daring, additional step Obama would need to take to earn Tomasky's praise.

Vox tried to keep it neutral: "Obama's rare Oval Office address to the nation: what he said and what he meant."

The NYT did put up "President Obama’s Tough, Calming Talk on Terrorism," as I noted last night.

Salon has: "Obama calls for reason: The president’s nuanced take on terror post-San Bernardino." The classic liberal buzzword. I've said it before:

Ted Cruz is suddenly leading in Iowa — 5 percentage points ahead of Trump.

A new poll by Monmouth Ben Carson has dropped 19 points since the last poll, 2 months ago, and Cruz is up by 14.
There is a notable gender difference among caucusgoers’ preferences. Men prefer Cruz (29%) and Trump (24%) over Rubio (12%) and Carson (12%). Women support Rubio (23%) and Cruz (19%) over Carson (15%) and Trump (14%).
AND: CNN just put out a poll on Iowa with a completely different result: Trump 33, Cruz 20, Carson 16, Rubio 11, Bush 4, Paul 3, Fiorina 3, Christie 2...

Both are polls of likely Republican caucusgoers.

ALSO: I thought FiveThirtyEight might shed some light on this, but I guess it's too soon. But I did find this: "The GOP Establishment May Need Religious Voters To Stop Donald Trump."
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

That’s what I imagine Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, repeating to himself as he tries to fall asleep every night.

Hillary Clinton referred to using the "nuclear option" against Iran... and it was Justice Breyer — of all people — who called her attention to the slip.

This was yesterday the Saban Forum (a Brookings Institution event focused on Israel).
At one point, responding to a question, she referred to using the “nuclear option” against Iran — usually interpreted as using a nuclear weapon — before her attention was caught by a prominent member of the audience, Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court.

“Oh, the military option, thank you, Justice Breyer. He’s a careful listener,” Mrs. Clinton said, reiterating that she meant a military option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It was a rare moment: a sitting member of the court rescuing a political candidate from a mistaken comment.

"The Chicago Police officer who shot and killed Ronald Johnson in 2014 will not face criminal charges...."

"... because Johnson had a gun, had resisted arrest and was running toward other cops and into a park, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Monday."
The video shows that Johnson was shot in the back by Hernandez. But Alvarez argued that Johnson could have easily turned around and fired at the pursuing officers...
 I'm listening to the press conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He sounds defensive and uncharacteristically weak. 

Why did Obama choose the Oval Office setting for his speech and then stand behind a lectern?

Shouldn't he have sat at his desk? I see Callum Borchers at The Washington Post has asked the same question:
Whatever the impetus, let's get one thing straight: Obama's choice to stand at a podium in his office rather than sit behind the Resolute Desk, as is customary in an Oval Office address, was very deliberate — as all decisions about presidential imagery are.
Okay, but that thing is not called a "podium."
It's not as though he keeps a dais parked in front of the desk all the time. The mere fact that he and his staff said, "Hey, let's bring one in," means they believed there was something to gain by getting the president on his feet...
Okay, but that thing is not called a "dais."
What were they going for? And did it work?

Standing up is a simple, unstated way for him to project strength. More important to the president, however, might be what standing up does for his own comfort level. As we at The Fix noted before the speech (and before we knew Obama would be at the lectern), he seemed stiff and uncomfortable in his two previous Oval Office addresses, when he took the more traditional seated posture.
Yes, and thanks for finally hitting on the right word for that thing: lectern.
Still, I think Obama lost some of the Oval Office impact by using the podium....

Goodbye to Holly Woodlawn, the star of Andy Warhol's "Trash," "Heat," and "Women in Revolt"...

... the Holly in Lou Reed's "Holly came from Miami, FLA/Hitchhiked her way across the USA/Plucked her eyebrows on the way/Shaved her legs and then he was a she...."
The early New York years were rough. “At the age of 16, when most kids were cramming for trigonometry exams, I was turning tricks, living off the streets and wondering when my next meal was coming,” Ms. Woodlawn recalled in her 1991 memoir, “A Low Life in High Heels: The Holly Woodlawn Story,” written with Jeff Copeland....

“They wanted me for one or two scenes [in 'Trash'] at first,” she said in her 1970 interview in The Village Voice. “Paul Morrissey said, ‘Do this, do that, fabulous,’ and so they kept adding to my part. I worked six days at $25 a day. Except for the last scene, everything was done in one take. The clothes, the dialogue, like, everything was mine because the character I play is me. I’ve been in those situations.”...

“I felt like Elizabeth Taylor,” Ms. Woodlawn told The Guardian in 2007, recalling her heyday. “Little did I realize that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it. But it was worth it, the drugs, the parties; it was fabulous.”
Here's a taste of that last scene in "Trash" (NSFW):

Here's that Lou Reed song.

Here's the theatrical trailer for the movie "Women in Revolt" (NSFW):

"I don't suppose you've heard about Women's Liberation?"/"Women's Liberation has shown me just who I am and just what I can be." (You can find that whole movie on YouTube, but it's challenging just to get through the trailer, even though it will probably make you laugh a few times.)

I saw all those movies — "Trash," "Heat," and "Women in Revolt" — back when they came out in the 1970s. They were considered important at the time in a way that's hard to understand now.

Who should be Time's person of the year?

That question crossed my mind a couple days ago. Meade and I independently decided the person of the year was obviously Donald Trump. Today, I see that Time did a readers' poll, and Bernie Sanders came in first, with 10.2%. Trump comes in at 19, with 1.8%, after Viola Davis, Jennifer Lawrence, and J.K. Rowling, who all got 1.9%. Women did surprisingly well, bizarrely well, on this poll, so it makes you wonder how Hillary Clinton did. She came in 26th, tied with Jorge Ramos, Amy Schumer,  and American Pharoah. American Pharoah is a horse.

Now, when I was trying to come up with ideas for who could be person of the year and thought of Trump, I had to work to think of any other options. I came up with Vladimir Putin. And then: Caitlyn Jenner. You'd think the Time readers would have gone for Jenner, but in fact, Jenner is lower than Clinton, tied for 30th place. Putin is 14th.

When I look at Time's list and try to predict Time's behavior, I think the choice will be: Refugees. (6th in the poll.)

"A guy had a miniature horse, which didn’t fit comfortably in the back, so he was put in first class."

"The airline made the horse wear these little shoes so it didn’t scuff the plane, but it pooped all over and the other first-class travelers weren’t happy."

From "People are faking disabilities to fly with their pets."

"Standing before a French tricolore flag after the results came in, a visibly delighted Ms Le Pen did her best to look statesmanlike."

The Economist Reports.
The FN [National Front], she declared, was now confirmed as the “first party of France”. It was a victory for the “forgotten territories” of the republic, she said, and for those who wanted to keep the country “authentically French”....

[T]he FN had been upsetting France’s traditional two-party dominance, and entrenching itself as a serious player, long before these latest crises, thanks to a methodical effort by Ms Le Pen to “disinfect” the FN brand, shed its anti-Semitism and make it a respectable party ready to govern. Today, voters are turning to Ms Le Pen as much because of disillusion at unkept promises by successive governments over the economy and jobs, and because of a sense that only she stands up for ordinary folk....