December 19, 2015

Let's watch the Democratic debate!

Say what you think and I'll weigh in if I think anything.

UPDATE: I guess I had no thoughts. I almost blogged O'Malley saying "L'etat c'est moi," but decided to wait for the transcript. And Sanders asked Clinton if she'd ever heard of Bill Clinton. Then Hillary said "May the force be with you," which made everyone forget everything else anyone said.

ADDED: I found the O'Malley line in the transcript: "I was the only -- one of only seven states that had a AAA bond rating."

At the Winter Bird Café...


... snuggle up. Talk about what you like. I know there's a debate on at 7 CT. I set the DVR and may get around to it. 3 hours! That's nuts. But settle in, nutty Americans. Feel the Bern. Climb the Hill.

And if you've got to shop, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Just one other thing — I gotta get this off my chest — Donald Trump is a jerk."

Said the man who also said: "You cannot insult your way to the presidency."

"To choose to live without gossip is to scorn storytelling. And to scorn storytelling is to join the anthill, where there are no secrets to pry open."

Writes the novelist Cynthia Ozick in a NYT column titled "The Novel’s Evil Tongue."
Everything essential to storytelling is explicitly forbidden: Keep your tongue from speaking evil, no bearing false witness, no going up and down as a talebearer among your people.... Under the influence of the evil tongue, 10,000 stories and novels, before and since, have insinuated themselves into our sin-seeking world.... They are made by go-betweens, by whisperers and tattletales, by ironists and miscreants, by jesters and mourners, and always by the fevered bearers of false witness.

Yet even Solomon’s Proverbs, that ancient well of prudence, in one of its seemingly admonitory homilies, reveals — against its intent — a fierce intuition for the shattering force of storytelling: “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s innermost parts.”

A man’s innermost parts! A woman’s innermost parts! Interpret this as you will, it all comes down to the self-conscious and vulnerable organ that humanity once dared (defiantly, subversively) to call Soul — where gossip longs to tread.

The end of the Octopus.

The end of a Madison era.

Here's a picture I took of the great pop-culture character back in 2006:


How the puffy coat — on or off — can kill your kid.

The straps in the car seat are not secure enough if the child is wearing a "puffy" coat — crash test dummies fly out of their seats — but if you take the coat off before strapping him in, you could get in a car accident that puts you in a position where you don't help him, and no one else comes along soon enough, and he freezes to death.

Bernie Sanders immediately filed a lawsuit and that shock-and-awe approach worked.

The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont filed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee on Friday, arguing that the party had unfairly suspended the campaign’s access to key voter information. After several tense hours, both sides announced a deal had been reached.
You might have thought you should try to work things out before filing the lawsuit — just let the lawsuit loom in the future as the incentive to settle. Sanders filed immediately, and he got what he wanted, even though it looks as though his campaign had done something quite wrong. The DNC didn't want the heat, and Sanders provided instant, severe heat.
Sanders’s campaign said the DNC had “capitulated” and that Sanders would soon regain access to the data.... Without a quick resolution, the messy public brawl threatened to overshadow Saturday’s third Democratic presidential debate and cast doubt on the DNC’s ability to manage the sophisticated data tools necessary for the party to win the White House next year. And it sparked significant suspicions among Sanders supporters that the party was conspiring to give a boost to Clinton.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz rejected that allegation Friday, alleging that Sanders staffers had exploited a software error to essentially “steal” data from Clinton’s campaign....
That may be true, but it didn't mean the DNC could do anything it wanted to punish the Sanders campaign for its bad actions. The suit (in federal court) was based on a contract, and the contract (I'm reading at The Washington Post) required formal notice if one side thinks there's a violation and 10 days to address the claim of violation, so cutting off Sanders's access to the system was also a violation of the contract.

There's a debate tonight, and I wonder if Sanders/Hillary will figure out a way to use this incident.

Sanders, in the last debate, said he was tired of hearing about HC's email, but I wonder if he can't connect the new incident to her old email problem. She maintained a system that was vulnerable and the DNC's system was vulnerable. His people just wandered into the insecure, supposedly private part DNC system, and enemies of the U.S. would have actively tried to hack into her email system. She's not tech-savvy and security-minded enough.

Hillary's argument is that Sanders is dishonest, sneaky, underhanded... and litigious.

The artist Sarah Sole calls her artistic take on Hillary Clinton "libidinal," distinguishing it from "all of the man-love for Obama" — such as Shepard Fairey's HOPE poster.

Rolling Stone explains.
People like Fairey "would project the most sublime, personable, personal aspirations [onto Obama]. He was pure, he was wonderful, and so of course they're going to be disappointed," Sole says. "I don't do that with Hillary. I like Hillary's impurities."...
Sole explains that the painting, "Red Gun," is a play on a photograph of Natalie Wood that ran in Life magazine in the Fifties. "The gun is the phallic power, it's sexual, but it's not eroticizing violence — it's eroticizing the idea of women with power, phallic power," she says.

To Sole, it's sexy. The sexiness of Hillary Clinton was what drew her in. "I just like her swagger. She's got something very butch about her that I like. Part of the delight of Hillary was that I was attracted to her, physically," she says. "And it was fun playing with that, even if I didn't paint well enough to make her into a beautiful woman."
You can see some of the paintings at the link and lots more of them here. You might like them, even if you're laughing at (or with) her "I didn't paint well enough to make her into a beautiful woman."

Here's what I think is the source material alongside "Red Gun":

I like this idea of taking a photograph of one person and redoing it with another person. There's commentary in the difference between the two.

What did the artist mean by "I didn't paint well enough to make her into a beautiful woman"? free polls

ADDED: I think Sole is trying to do something like what Drew Friedman has done so brilliantly. Look at "Warts and All" (and the other Friedman books you'll see at that link). He worked from photographs of celebrities and he sure didn't try to make them beautiful. He leaned into surreal ugliness. Friedman's work appeared in Spy Magazine from 1986 to 1992. When I thought about that I had an a-ha moment:

December 18, 2015

30% or Republicans and 19% of Democrats said they supported the bombing of Agrabah — which is the fictional place in the cartoon movie "Aladdin."

A new Public Policy Poll revealed.

This isn't a basis for saying Republicans are stupider, except to the extent that it's stupid to be enthusiastic about bombing the enemy and trust that polling firms are asking questions about what they seem to be asking.

Now, the smart answer is to decline to answer either yes or no. You don't need to know the name is from a fictional movie. It's enough to recognize that you don't know Agrabah. The yes + no total for Democrats is 55. For Republicans it's 43.

"I started the Arab Spring. Now death is everywhere, and extremism blooming."

Faida Hamdy, the inspector who confiscated the stall of the vegetable vendor who set himself on fire....

"[W]e must recognize that the world of radical Islam is not just death and destruction. It also encompasses fashion, music, poetry, dream interpretation."

"[J]ihadism offers its adherents a rich cultural universe in which they can immerse themselves," writes Thomas Hegghammer — director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment — in this column in the NYT, "Militant Jihad’s Softer Side."
When jihadis aren’t fighting... they enjoy storytelling and watching films, cooking and swimming. The social atmosphere... is egalitarian, affectionate and even playful. Jihadi life is emotionally intense, filled with the thrill of combat, the sorrow of loss, the joy of camaraderie and the elation of religious experience....

The Islamic State’s most famous poet is a Syrian woman in her 20s who goes by the name Ahlam al-Nas.... Her most famous collection... contains lines such as “Shake the throne of the cross, and Extinguish the fire of the Zoroastrians / Strike down every adversity, and go reap those heads.”...

In Europe, radicals sometimes wear a combination of sneakers, a Middle Eastern or Pakistani gown and a combat jacket on top... The men often follow Salafi etiquette, for example by carrying a tooth-cleaning twig known as a miswak, wearing nonalcoholic perfume, and avoiding gold jewelry....

"Rahm Emanuel Must Resign/From Laquan McDonald to Homan Square, Rahm has tacitly endorsed police violence."

By the Editors of The Nation.

If he goes, who will fix it? He has the strongest motivation and capacity of anyone. Is symbolism worth more, or do you just not trust him?

"It's like: you and the Tyrannosaurus rex."

What I said when Meade read item #4 on "10 things not to buy in 2016": "Selfie sticks." I was all: "Yeah, if your arm's not long enough...."

"Koenig hypnotically weaves together the accounts of a trusted journalist and her own source inside the Taliban."

"The picture that emerges is a sort of counterweight to Bergdahl’s self-spun capture story: He was found inside or near a nomad tent. Nomads informed the Taliban that a foreigner was in the area. When the Taliban arrived to check it out, they told Bergdahl that they were the police, and he immediately jumped behind their motorcycles, as if seeking protection from them. They called Bergdahl a 'ready-made loaf,' a gift that had fallen into their hands without their having to work for it. Bergdahl fought a little at first, but he was pretty easily subdued. Here we hit our first real point of departure from Bergdahl’s own story. Our first muddying of the narrative...."

"What you get when a piano maker designs a car."


Me, at slide 6: "Whoa! Do you really want that thing between your legs?!"

"Middle-class and higher-income parents see their children as projects in need of careful cultivation..."

"They try to develop their skills through close supervision and organized activities, and teach children to question authority figures and navigate elite institutions. Working-class parents, meanwhile, believe their children will naturally thrive, and give them far greater independence and time for free play. They are taught to be compliant and deferential to adults. There are benefits to both approaches. Working-class children are happier, more independent, whine less and are closer with family members.... Higher-income children are more likely to declare boredom and expect their parents to solve their problems. Yet later on, the more affluent children end up in college and en route to the middle class, while working-class children tend to struggle...."

From "Class Differences in Child-Rearing Are on the Rise" by Claire Cain Miller (in the NYT).

That made me remember "I Don't Care Where My Children Go To College," by Catherine Pearlman, which I read the other day. Pearlman seems to be a middle-class/higher-income person with class envy. She seems to want to adopt the life styles of the working class... though not quite:
I am not going to steal my son and daughter's childhoods so they may wind up at Yale instead of Westchester Community College. I am not going to force them to be who I say they should be by signing them up for every class and making them stick with it. Instead, I am going to sit back and watch them find their own path. I am going to expose them to life and do it as a family. I am going on month-long family vacations in foreign lands and I am not going to worry about how it will look to the football coach or the college counselor. I am going to discuss issues of the day over slow family dinners. And I am going to teach my children that they can be successful doing whatever they want if they follow their dreams and work hard. Going to the best college won't make that happen for them. Giving them the freedom to flourish in their own way in their own time will.
I had to laugh at "I am going on month-long family vacations in foreign lands...."

A Virginia school district shut down today after parents raged about an assignment to copy the Muslim declaration of faith.

The school seemed to be trying to teach about Islam, and the copying was presented as an exercise in "the artistic complexity of calligraphy," but the text, in Arabic, was "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God" — the shehada (or declaration of faith). I would observe that students were not required to declare a faith, only to copy a declaration of faith. That's like the difference between praying in school and staging a play in which a character says a prayer. That is, I don't think it violates the Establishment Clause to require students to copy the statement of faith as a calligraphy exercise as the students are taught not that Islam is the true religion but the history and substance of the religion of Islam.

There may be statutory law or state constitutional law that requires the school to exempt students whose own exercise of religion is burdened, and the potential for burden is a good reason for not structuring an assignment like this. In any case, the school might want to avoid assignments like this because it's not how the people in the community want their children to be taught. And in the end, the school acceded to parental pressure.

The linked article (in the NYT) says the Augusta County School District said it received phone calls and email that were "voluminous," "profane" and "“hateful." There was "no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices," but the cancellation was done — as the Times put it — "out of an abundance of caution."
Despite the outcry, the district said it would continue to educate students about the world’s religious diversity as required by state education guidelines but that “a different, nonreligious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future. As we have emphasized, no lesson was designed to promote a religious viewpoint or change any student’s religious belief,” it said.
They should have figured that out in advance, and it's distressing to see those who objected portrayed as hateful and potentially violent when they are attempting to protect their own religion. What if Muslims in the community objected to a lesson about Christianity that demanded that students read the Nicene Creed out loud? Would the New York Times portray the Muslims as potentially violent? I don't think it would. In fact, I think the NYT would portray the reading aloud of the Nicene Creed — "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty... And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God" — as a violation of the Establishment Clause.

The NYT quotes one of the parents as understanding the assignment to be an instruction "to denounce our Lord by copying this creed of Islam," which is "an abomination" to her family's faith and that the school had simply "cloaked in the form of multiculturalism." And therein lies the problem. How do you know what the school is really doing? And quite aside from what the school meant to do, there's the question of how it is perceived, which is an important part of Establishment Clause analysis.

If Obama gets serious about the war against ISIS... what does that do to campaign politics?

I'm reading this in The Washington Post:
American-led airstrikes killed at least 180 Islamic State fighters as local Kurdish forces­ scrambled to repel a bold, multi-pronged assault by the militants, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday.... The fighting in northern Iraq comes as President Obama struggles to defend his policy — called feeble by some critics in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — and his handling of the war in Syria, where Russia’s new air campaign has added to the complexity of an already tangled conflict.
I have no idea what Obama should or will do in Iraq in the next 11 months. I just want to observe that he's in a position to manipulate presidential politics. Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that he would be willing to corrupt his military decisionmaking with calculations about what will help his party in the 2016 election.

And resist the sarcastic commentary on the assumption. Everyone can see that side road. Don't waste your time going over there. The scenic road is up ahead: Could Obama undercut the GOP candidates (some/all of them) by going big in an effort to defeat ISIS? Ted Cruz has said he wants to "carpet bomb" and Donald Trump has said he would "bomb the shit out of them." What if Obama beats them to it? Who benefits?

Help me puzzle through this. I'm thinking: First, Hillary needs to get the nomination. That must be locked in, but after that, Hillary is free to be the hawk that is one of her multiple personas. She can play that well, I think. But she'll lose some Democrats. Sanders could become a third party candidate. He only recently joined the Democratic Party, and he's already the candidate of the Working Families Party. There's some risk, but the GOP candidates will lose some of their foundation if Obama shifts into warrior mode.

What if it becomes an argument about who can best continue Obama's vigorous, popular war on ISIS? Republicans can talk about how Obama squandered what had been a Bush victory in Iraq and allowed ISIS to flourish and force us into this new war, and so a GOP President is more trustworthy. But which GOP candidate will be the one making this argument? Hillary will argue for continuity and Obama-style smartness, as opposed to the carpet-and-shit bombing from The Stupid Party.

There are many unmentioned permutations. I'm trying to start a discussion. The topic is: How can Obama stymie the Trump-and-Cruz Party by going big against ISIS?

It's not exactly the Watergate break-in — is it? — but Bernie Sanders's campaign broke into Hillary Clinton's confidential voter information.

I guess the defense is she was asking for it, being out there in the DNC database with a software error.

Here's the story in The Washington Post:
Officials with the Democratic National Committee have accused the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of improperly accessing confidential voter information gathered by the rival campaign of Hillary Clinton, according to several party officials. Jeff Weaver, the Vermont senator’s campaign manager, acknowledged that a staffer had viewed the information but blamed a software vendor hired by the DNC for a glitch that allowed access. Weaver said one Sanders staffer was fired over the incident. The discovery sparked alarm at the DNC, which promptly shut off the Sanders campaign’s access to the strategically crucial list of likely Democratic voters.... 
By the way, how did the Watergate burglars get through the door into the offices of the Democratic National Committee? Sanders's people made their virtual entry into a place within the DNC where they didn't belong through a software glitch (or so they say), so let's explore the analogy. How hard was it for the Watergate burglars to get in where they knew they didn't belong? I don't think the main thing was how hard or easy it was to get through the door. It was that they didn't belong there and they chose to go in. The ease of breaking in wasn't the crux of the wrongdoing!

So how hard was it?
Then we went up to the eighth floor, walked down to the sixth–and do you believe it, we couldn’t open that door, and we had to cancel the operation.... Eduardo was furious that Gonzales hadn’t been able to open the door. Gonzales explained he didn’t have the proper equipment, so Eduardo told him to fly back to Miami to get his other tool.... I said there wasn’t adequate operational preparation. There was no floor plan of the building; no one knew the disposition of the elevators, how many guards there were, or even what time the guards checked the building. Gonzales did not know what kind of door he was supposed to open. There weren’t even any contingency plans.... Gonzales got back from Miami that night with his whole shop. I’ve never seen so many tools to open a door. No door could hold him. This time everything worked. Gonzales and Sturgis picked the lock in the garage exit door; once inside, they opened the other doors and called over the walkie-talkie: “The horse is in the house.” 
The horse is in the house!

A horse named Bernie.

ADDED: Bernie goes on the attack:
Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, held a press conference on Friday in which he described how the Democratic National Committee was unfairly choking off the "lifeblood" of the campaign.... "Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign..."...

"Having Owned Up to Buying Newspaper, Adelsons Go Silent."

NYT headline.

"Owned up"... like you're doing something wrong if you buy a newspaper!

From the OED:
c. intr. orig. U.S. colloq. to own up: to make a full admission or confession, esp. when challenged or pressed; to confess frankly (to something)....

1844 ‘J. Slick’ High Life N.Y. II. xxxii. 242 A feller..must be a sneakin shote if he can't pick up courage tu own up tu the truth, like a man.
1848 E. Bennett Renegade iv. 37, I 'spect I mought as well own up, being's I've got cotched in my own trap....
1890 Boston (U.S.) Jrnl. 23 May 1/6 On being arrested he owned up to his crime....
2000 Sun-Herald (Sydney) 18 June 81/2 Your response if you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar is either to say it wasn't me and keep denying it, or own up and take it.

December 17, 2015

"Hello Darlin'."

I watched this twice and had a completely different interpretation of the song the second time around. The first time, I thought it was sad. The second time... evil!

"Based on how this author seems to handle herself, I would not be shocked if..."

"... she intentionally under-dressed her kid in public so she could tell people off for commenting on it."

That's the highest rated comment on a Slate article called "No, Busybody Strangers of the World, My Baby Is Not Cold/Winter is prime time for a certain brand of parental concern-trolling."

All the possibilities for life after death.

Illustrated nicely. Click through. There are a few more possibilities than you may think.

ADDED: Imagine that at the age of 10 it is revealed to you that you will spend eternity living — over and over — this life you are about to live for the first time. This life will be exactly the same, every time. No readjustments will be possible. No "Groundhog Day"-style do-overs. Just all the same moments, in order, over and over again. Billions of times. After the first life, you become a silent, passive passenger in the mind of the first-time you. How would you live? What would you do?

"In order to provide a better understanding of what Christ would have looked like, in 1998, Richard Neave, a retired forensic scientist, set to work on recreating his face."

"To do so, he began examining the skulls of Semites from around Galilee in Northern Israel from the beginning of the first century....."

"Hello Everyone.... Hope you enjoy these tiny cooking videos...."

It's Pocket Resort... with lots of very tiny cooking. I'll just choose one... corn dogs:

"Lessons From the Mistrial in the Freddie Gray Case."

"It isn’t enough to have officers on the beat, in the neighborhood.... Race is important, but it’s complicated.... It’s still very hard to prosecute police officers.... "
The prosecutors may have miscalculated. As soon as Mosby announced her set of charges, there were serious questions raised about them. First, she had brought them very, very quickly. Critics complained she’d done so under pressure, hoping to assuage protestors...  Second, many observers felt that Mosby had overcharged, bringing a stronger set of charges than she could really prove....

Prosecutors then made a second set of strategic calculations about how to bring the case. Rather than try all six officer at once, they opted to try them serially. And they began with Porter, apparently in the hope that he would be convicted and then could be compelled to testify against other officers. But whatever advantages Porter’s testimony might have given them in a future trial, he proved impossible to convict—at least on the first try....

"And everybody hates it. My wife hates it. My son hates it. But it's interesting."

"But it's interesting. I've kind of developed a real creepy look with it that I'm sort of enjoying. And I can tell that people are off-put by it. And the more people implore me to shave, the stronger my resolve is to not shave."

"Putin Calls Trump 'a Very Outstanding Man,' Accuses Turkey of Licking America’s Privates."

There's a headline. At Slate. Excerpt:
Putin returned the GOP front-runner’s compliments, calling Trump a “very outstanding man, unquestionably talented” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”...

Relations between Russia and Turkey have broken down since Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet over the Syria-Turkey border last month. "The Turks decided to lick the Americans in a certain place," he said Thursday of the incident, a crude variation of his accusation that the U.S. is partly responsible. He also said he saw no prospect of improved ties between the two countries and decried the "creeping Islamization of Turkey that would have Ataturk rolling in his grave."
That reminds me, a new Marc Maron podcast went up this morning. The interviewee is one of my favorite performers, Eric Bogosian. Bogosian — of Armenian ancestry — has written a book about the Armenian genocide, and in the podcast he talks of his grandfather, who advised him that if he ever met a Turk, he should kill him. The book is "Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide." Bogosian does the reading in the audiobook, so I strongly recommend it.

"And yet, for whatever reason, we continue to put the penis on a pedestal, severed from its full evolutionary context."

Last sentence of an article titled "Why Is No One Interested in Vagina Size?"

"I was willing to chop my testicles off to save the marriage. I was prepared to do it because it made my wife comfortable."

From "What It’s Like to Be Chemically Castrated."
Did you have sex with your wife before that first shot of Lupron?

No, we didn’t even want to do it one last time. We wanted to move as quickly as possible.... If anything I feel like more of a man now. I didn’t feel worthy. I was exposing myself to so much risk: I just felt so very bad about myself. I was in a dark, dark place....

Do you worry about her happiness or her sexual fulfillment?

You know I don’t, because she’s a staunch Catholic and she would never leave. The contract of marriage is very high on her morality list. She has filled the sexual void with other things. She owns her own business, she frequently travels. Friday night is still date night for us. Whether we go to dinner, shopping, bowling, or to a movie, it’s a night that we have guarded against using for other things. I think that’s helped.

"Her travel expenses were also extravagant; she once spent $2,000 in chewing gum during a stop at SFO."

"An airplane departing Rome was required to do a mid-air U-turn because Imelda realized she’d forgotten to purchase cheese.... During her travels, she purchased several Manhattan skyscrapers, including the Woolworth building. (Rumor has it Imelda declined the Empire State Building for being 'too ostentatious.')"

From  "5 Shopping Sprees So Wild, They Made History."

(I guess this is a good place to remind you that if you have any shopping to do — cheese, gum, whatever... buildings — you can do it and simultaneously demonstrate love for this blog by using the The Althouse Amazon Portal... and I absolutely assure you that I didn't compose this post for the purpose of promoting shopping. I just thought it was funny. The cheese and all. Don't be greedy or excessive. Just get things you really need.)

"Ehsan Abdulaziz, a Saudi millionaire property developer, was cleared of rape charges in London this week after he claimed that he had tripped and fallen..."

"... on an 18-year-old girl who was sleeping at his apartment after partying with him, penetrating her by accident.... [H]e said his penis might have been poking out of his underwear when he happened upon the young woman sleeping off a night of drinking....  In court, Abdulaziz maintained his innocence, saying, 'I'm fragile, I fell down but nothing ever happened, between me and this girl nothing ever happened.'"

"You see what they're doing to him?"/"Making him a RINO... Ryan-O."

Dialogue at Meadhouse, as we look at Drudge this morning:

Please credit Meade with the coinage "Ryan-O."

The anti-earthquake bed.

"So a Chinese inventor has revealed a new and improved version of an earthquake-proof bed that supposedly helps you survive a worst case scenario — but at what cost?"

Martin Shkreli, 32... "who rocketed to infamy by jacking up the price of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750..."

"... was arrested by federal agents at his Manhattan home early Thursday morning on securities fraud related to a firm he founded."
[The] boyish drug company entrepreneur... ignited a firestorm over drug prices in September and became a symbol of defiant greed. The federal case against him has nothing to do with pharmaceutical costs, however.....
Hated, but not arrested for the thing he is hated for. 

December 16, 2015

Synchronizing their watches.

A sure sign of the Trump-Cruz conspiracy. Carson's in on it too.

AND: If you don't know what I mean by the conspiracy, watch Joe Scarborough speculate: "After the debate, I started thinking, ‘This was an inside deal.’ You’ve got Trump and Cruz who were kind of hitting each other, but they see now that they’re locked in first and second place, everybody else is a distant third. Notice everybody on the stage was attacking everybody but the top two guys. So Trump goes after Jeb, Cruz goes after Rubio— the establishment’s favorite candidates– and they refuse to touch each other. It smacked of an inside deal. If this maintains the status quo, neither Jeb or Rubio catches them. It’s a smart political move, and they made it; they either made a direct or indirect deal."

ALSO: A photo of Cruz that made me go "aw."

"This amphitheater-like configuration, wrapped with window-walls that afford panoramic views of the bucolic property..."

"... ('Nature is the most expensive wallpaper,' Johnson jokingly said of similar vistas from inside his nearby retreat), is alternatively used for secular programs such as concerts and lectures, and thus is devoid of religious imagery. A simple cross is brought in for Sunday prayer meetings."

From "Faith in Good Taste" — with some cool architectural photos at that link.

"Mistrial declared in trial of Officer William Porter in death of Freddie Gray."

"Gray, 25, suffered a broken neck and severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police transport van after his arrest on April 12. His death a week later prompted widespread protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by the most intense rioting and looting in the city since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968."

"Among the many sad signs of our time are the current political and media attacks on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia..."

"... for speaking the plain truth on a subject where lies have been the norm for years," writes Thomas Sowell of the much-discussed oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas.
Affirmative action is supposed to be a benefit to black and other minority students admitted with lower academic qualifications than some white students who are rejected. But Justice Scalia questioned whether being admitted to an institution geared to students with higher-powered academic records was a real benefit.
Actually, affirmative action is supposed to be a benefit to the entire student body. That's the compelling interest that the Court has relied on to justify race discrimination. But it should be a benefit to the students who are admitted under the program, and if it is not, then they are being used for the (purported) benefit of the whole group of students.

The key precedent, Grutter v. Bollinger, put diversity in terms of the educational benefits it gives to all of the students. It "promotes 'cross-racial understanding,' helps to break down racial stereotypes, and 'enables [students] to better understand persons of different races.'" It makes "classroom discussion...  livelier, more spirited, and simply more enlightening and interesting."

In permitting this educational benefit to be provided to all students — mostly white students, of course — should the Court take into account that the minority students who are employed as a means to this end may themselves experience difficult burdens? Why should the Court deprive them of the choice of what burdens they wish to shoulder as they evaluate offers of admission? The minority applicants don't have to say yes. If they'd really be better off at a less challenging school, can't they figure that out for themselves? Why patronize them? Do they need rescuing? I think it's enough that there is discussion and information about the downside of going to a school where you have to compete with other students who got better test scores.

Conservatives should lean toward individual autonomy.

"Famously vindictive, [Rahm Emanuel] alienated the local press and others, turning those who might have helped him into enemies."

"He also brought a Washington-style spin-control mindset to Chicago. In Washington, an army of apparatchiks and a compliant media lets politicians like Obama create a reality bubble. In national politics, perception is often reality. But in local government, reality is reality. The West Side isn’t Benghazi. The people who live in Chicago can walk out their front doors and see for themselves what’s going on."

From "The Fall of Rahm Emanuel/Chicago’s bullyboy mayor will never change," by Aaron M. Renn.

"In 1943, Polanski escaped the Krakow Ghetto and assumed the name Romek Wilk and lived in the countryside..."

"... aided by a family that had known his father, pretending to be a Christian boy."
“I survived because I did not look very much like a Jew,” says Polanski. “Particularly when I was a kid, I definitely looked like a lot of kids in Poland.” Even though at this point he lived no more than 30 miles from Auschwitz, Polanski says this rural area was quiet and free from violence; he knew “nothing about what was happening on the other side of the wires. … I only learned about all the atrocities right after the war.”...

Days before the war ended, Polanski recalls picking berries in the forest near Krakow when he heard a sound like the thrum of insects, only louder. “And then I realized it was coming from the sky,” he recalls. “I looked up, and these were the American bombers coming, hundreds of them. It was one of the most joyful moments of my young life. I laid down on the ground, and I was watching those planes.”

"Cop Who Sought Photos of Teen’s Erection in Sexting Case Commits Suicide Moments Before Arrest."

"Police Detective David Edward Abbott, a member of the Northern Virginia-Washington D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, committed suicide Tuesday before law enforcement could arrest him on suspicion of sexually abusing minors," Hit & Run reports.
Abbott, you will recall, was the detective in the noteworthy teen sexting case from July 2014, in which the authorities sought a warrant to take the 17-year-old male suspect to the hospital, inject him with a drug that would give him an erection, photograph his genitals, and compare the photo with existing pictures of his genitals the police had confiscated from his 15-year-old girlfriend’s phone....
Abbott sued the boy's lawyer for saying "Who does this? It's just crazy." He called that defamation, in that it made him look like a pedophile. Later, he was suspected of having sexual contact with 2 adolescent boys, and when the police came to arrest him, he shot himself dead.

IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan points to my July 2014 post about Abbott's proposal to photograph the boy's medically induced erection and the lawyer's "Who does this?" reaction. My reaction on seeing that old post is:
Wow, I'm surprised to see that I blogged about that... and only last year. When I read [about the case] this morning, I felt I'd never heard of it and was very shocked that the police would propose to do this. (Did they ever do it?) I must have some strong repression reflexes. I really felt, this morning, that if I had ever seen this before I would have blogged it, so I didn't remember blogging it or ever seeing it, even though it makes a big, very distressing impact on me.
MadisonMan looks through the comments at the old post and singles out this, from Fernandiande:
You can see a picture of the child-abusing sex pervert here: "Master" Detective Abbott.

Truest oxymoron of the day: "Aggravating Snoozefest"... "CNN Turns Debate Into Aggravating Snoozefest."

I'm checking the headlines at Real Clear Politics:

That last headline goes to a "no longer available" dead end at The Washington Times, but I've got to admit that I was aggravated and I also snoozed.

I googled my way to what I assume is the article: "CNN turns GOP debate into aggravating, irrelevant snoozefest — as planned." Oh! As planned.
By keeping the stage crammed with a couple of actual front-runners and cluttered with has-been also-rans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, debate moderators are managing to do what once seemed impossible: Boring voters even though real estate mogul Donald Trump is still on the debate stage. They will stop at nothing to water down the goliath front-runner for the GOP nomination....

Instead of a substantive debates with actual front-runners, we get these shoutfests with nine people, each one wasting their microphone time to complain about getting short-shrift or barking at one another over irrelevant details....
It doesn’t help that just about every question begins with, “Donald Trump said …”

It is like some kind of therapy session for a group of people suffering from Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome. It got so bad Tuesday night that Mr. Trump himself finally called out moderators for making him a star of even the undercard GOP debate — that he wasn’t even in!

“It was Trump this, Trump that,” Mr. Trump said, rolling his eyes. “I think it was very unprofessional.”

Adding to the bizarreness was some person off camera who kept coughing and sniffling into a microphone. Was that one of the candidates? One of the moderators? Or was it some kind of special effect that was piped in from the outside? Message: GOP has sniffling, coughing fits.
ADDED: The question of who was coughing consumed social media.

Suspicions converged on Ben Carson:

"And for the Russians, frankly, it's time that we punched the Russians in the nose."

Who talks like that?


I noticed that via my son John's live-blog:
10:11 — My mind was starting to wander amid all this foreign policy talk, but then Kasich grabbed my attention by saying: "It's time that we punched the Russians in the nose."

That would have been the line of the night if only it weren't Jeb Bush saying it.

"He's a chaos candidate, and he'd be a chaos president." ("He" = Trump.)

Jeb seemed to come prepared to deliver lines, but he can't put them across. I woke up this morning, and reading about the debate, I got a joke of Jeb's that drifted right by me last night. Something about him — I don't know what it is — makes me numb. Asked, "Why are you better qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump?," Bush said:
BUSH: Because I -- first of all, I know what I don't know. I know what I don't know. I would seek out, as I have, the best advice that exists. I won't get my information from the shows. I don't know if that's Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don't know which one.
At the time, I was just bored or embarrassed for him. He stumbled into the beginning. He said "I know what I don't know" twice. He stopped to smile in a way that perhaps his friends tell him is nice, but just seems hapless. Then he says he'll get advice from others. That's how he'll match Putin, by getting help from others? Then he pins something on Trump that annoys me, because it doesn't even sound true (and I've heard it before): he gets his "information from the shows." "The shows" — who talks like that? What shows?

Then comes the joke that I heard but didn't feel any motivation to crank through a half second of brain work to get: "I don't know if that's Saturday morning or Sunday morning." That was the third "I don't know" in a short answer, and it's immediately followed by another "I don't know," which seems like a nudge to get us to see the joke, but I didn't accept the nudge. I didn't care. I was still distracted into feeling defensive for Trump — Trump, who is completely capable of defending himself. But Trump doesn't deserve to be accused of getting his information from TV shows. Only in the morning, reading about the debate did the joke register: The Saturday morning shows are the cartoons.

Yeah, I remember. Back in the days when kids only had broadcast network shows to watch on TV and there was no cable, no video recordings, no internet, Saturday mornings were a special time for watching cartoons.

The question was "Why are you better qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump?" and he meanders his way to an unfair joke about cartoons. As if he's an entertainer. But the rap on Trump is supposed to be that Trump is only an entertainer. But if Trump had told the joke, I'd have heard a joke. Jeb just came across as bumbling and weak. When the subject was Putin!

IN THE COMMENTS: David reminds us of an interview in which Trump — asked "Who do you talk to for military advice right now?" — said "Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great-- you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and...."

I said:
I do remember him saying that, but I don't believe he has no advisers now. Jeb should have nailed him with a specific reference to that. "Trump says 'I watch the shows' -- Watch the shows!! -- The shows! I guess he meant the Sunday shows, but that's so shallow and simple-minded it might as well be the Saturday shows, the cartoons." That's too long. You have to hone it down. "Trump says 'I watch the shows' -- The shows! That's shallow and simple-minded. What shows? The cartoon shows? The man is a cartoon."
Trump is vulnerable to this attack. Jeb is just so bad at delivering it. As I say in the post, his approach had me "feeling defensive for Trump" even though Trump "is completely capable of defending himself."

December 15, 2015

I'm really psyched for tonight's debate.

I think something big will happen.

ADDED: You can talk about the debate here. I'll update with comments if the spirit moves me.

AND: John is live-blogging, here.

ALSO: Trump says he will not run as a third party candidate. He's also made up with Cruz.

PLUS: The something big I thought I'd see was Cruz getting the better of Trump. But Trump was acting like Cruz's pal. It wasn't quite reciprocal, but it was disarming.

"Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats With Carly Fiorina."

"President Obama ate one of your cousins."

"I am continually shocked and dismayed by the nearly Victorian notions promulgated by today’s feminists about the fragility of women and their naïve helplessness..."

"... in asserting control over their own dating lives. Female undergraduates incapable of negotiating the oafish pleasures and perils of campus fraternity parties are hardly prepared to win leadership positions in business or government in the future.... ‘Rape culture’ is a ridiculous term – mere gassy propaganda, too rankly bloated to critique. Anyone who sees sex so simplistically has very little sense of world history, anthropology or basic psychology. I feel very sorry for women who have been seduced by this hyper-politicised, victim-centered rhetoric, because in clinging to such superficial, inflammatory phrases, they have renounced their own power and agency. ... ‘Yes means Yes’ laws are drearily puritanical and literalistic as well as hopelessly totalitarian. Their increasing popularity simply demonstrates how boring and meaningless sex has become.... [T]oo many young feminists want their safety, security and happiness guaranteed in advance by all-seeing, all-enveloping bureaucracies... "

Said Camille Paglia in a really interesting interview.

And this is especially important — for men and women, even though it starts out referring only to women:
Women must find a way to develop their full potential in the professional world without also disrupting and draining their private lives. The corporate business model invented in northern Europe after the Industrial Revolution is hyper-efficient but also vampiric. Too many people, both men and women, have foolishly conflated their personal identities with their jobs. It’s a bourgeois trap and a distortion of the ultimate meaning of life.
IN THE COMMENTS: Mrs Whatsit said"
Oh Camille. She's brilliant and maddening and the older I get, the more I agree with her. But sooner or later she always ends up contradicting herself in spectacular fashion. Here, for instance, first she spends hundreds of impassioned words pleading with young women not to cede their freedom and agency to paternalistic institutional authorities like universities and the government in exchange for the delusion of perfect safety. Then she gets to her ringing conclusion.

"I want universities to create more flexible, extended-study options for young women who choose to have earlier (and thus safer) pregnancies, and I want more public and private resources devoted to childcare facilities for working parents of every social class. Finally, I call for the investigation and reform of the current systemic exploitation of working-class women (many of them black or Latina immigrants) who have become the invisible new servant class for affluent white women leaving childcare to others as they pursue their feminist professional dreams."

In which Paglia first calls for protective, paternalistic solutions to women's problems from institutional authorities, and then for taking away the freedom and agency of women who choose to work or hire each other to work as nannies. Investigate them! Reform them! God forbid that women work together to come up with their own market-based solution to a societal problem. Women shouldn't be free to work as nannies if the government didn't hire them! Women shouldn't be free to hire nannies if the government isn't paying them! Only the government should be solving women's problems!

What? Inconsistent? Who, me?

NYC and LA get the same threat. LA closes all its schools and the NYC police commissioner, standing next to Mayor de Blasio, says what LA did was "a signficant overreaction."

"We see no need whatsoever to take that action here in New York City."

Also in the news from New York City, the commissioner of Homeless Services, Gilbert Taylor, is stepping down. I'm linking to the NYT report, which doesn't specify anything Taylor did wrong, but:
Mayor Bill de Blasio, still struggling to manage near-record levels of homelessness... has ... been under pressure from advocates. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the issue was a matter of “intelligence and the management.” Mr. Taylor, 45, had never headed an agency, but Mr. de Blasio’s transition team saw potential in tapping the longtime public servant who had spent his career working on behalf of at-risk youths and families.
Just trying to understand the blasé world of Mayor de Blasio. The threat doesn't seem like much and Gilbert Taylor seems as though he might have potential.

Thanakorn Siripaiboon, charged with lese majeste for mocking the king's dog.

Thanakorn, who faces a 37-year sentence, is 27. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is 88. Whether Bhumibol cares what is said about his dog, I don't know, but "Prosecutions have soared since the army, which styles itself as the champion of the monarchy, grabbed power in a coup last year."

The dog is Tongdaeng, an adopted stray, "is praised for her loyalty and obedience, has been used to outline [the king's] vision of how Thais should behave." There's an animated movie about Tongdaeng that's #2 at the Thai box office.

Meanwhile, as long as we're talking about Thailand:
"If you buy prawns or shrimp from Thailand, you will be buying the produce of slave labor," Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International [said].....
U.S. customs records show the shrimp made its way into the supply chains of major U.S. food stores and retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General and Petco, along with restaurants such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden. It also entered the supply chains of some of America's best-known seafood brands and pet foods, including Chicken of the Sea and Fancy Feast....

Frank Bruni thinks diversity is a fraud... but his solution is questionable.

It's a fraud — and  a "betrayal... of affirmative action" — because it's supposed to be about "optimal learning environment for all students," but students congregate on "homogeneous islands" — in "self-affirming enclaves" — and seek "safe spaces" where their viewpoints are not challenged.

Affirmative action only satisfies the Equal Protection Clause because it's believed that diversity is a compelling government interest. If the diversity is a fraud, because students who are the components of diversity don't do what they are supposed to and interact with other students who are not like them, then Bruni is (unwittingly?) arguing that affirmative action is unconstitutional.

But what Bruni is wittingly doing is laying a foundation for aggressive university action forcing intermixing of the students who are brought to campus. How? He cites "special funds available to campus groups that stage events with other, dissimilar groups" and changing "the layout of campus walkways" and "the architecture of common areas" to cause more paths to cross, and then he moves on to the part that I loathe, piling on academic requirements:
Schools should use academic requirements to make sure that students don’t travel a tract that’s too confining and idiosyncratic not just in intellectual terms but in social and demographic ones, too. For example, some science and math concentrations draw a disproportionate number of male students; if those students are not forced to take courses outside their majors, there’s a profound gender imbalance in their academic lives.
Bruni wants viewpoints challenged, so let me challenge his viewpoint that life is unbalanced if you have much more of one sex than the other in your life. And even if we go with the metaphor of balance and call it imbalance, what's profound about it? It sounds quite shallow to me. Why isn't part of the diversity the preference for a masculine or a feminine milieu? You ought to have to answer those questions before you burden students with more academic requirements. Why is forcing people to fill up their schedule with courses they don't want so damned attractive?

I like that Bruni says schools should "also pay greater heed to how gagged so many politically conservative faculty members and students feel." That's not a solution, though. That's only another recognition of a problem.

Ironically, talking like that, they sound like traitors to American culture.

"Liberal Hispanic activists assail Rubio, Cruz as 'traitors' to their culture."

I'm using my "liberalism" tag, but what they are saying does not deserve the word "liberalism."

The OED defines "liberalism" as "Support for or advocacy of individual rights, civil liberties, and reform tending towards individual freedom, democracy, or social equality; a political and social philosophy based on these principles... Freedom from bias, prejudice, or bigotry; open-mindedess, tolerance; (Polit.) liberal left-wing political views and policies." Only that last part, "liberal left-wing political views and policies," applies. I should just use my "left-wing ideology" tag. Avoid the confusion.

"Scientists at Harvard University found that melting glaciers have caused the length of a day to increase by one millisecond over the past one hundred years..."

"... a Florida police department published photos of nine unidentified, unconscious women on Facebook in an attempt to solicit information. 'We’re not sure if they’re even alive,' said the police chief. A survey of U.S. special-operations personnel found that 64 percent of male respondents believe women are not mentally tough enough to serve in commando units.... A Norwegian study found that men have a better sense of direction than women, and a Florida man who was running from the police waded into a lake and was eaten by an alligator.... China’s top religious-affairs official accused the Dalai Lama of sympathizing with the Islamic State.... a Canadian woman drove an ailing beaver 250 miles so the animal could receive medical care.... A Kentucky homeless shelter banned women in order to prevent sexual relations between patrons. 'It takes two to do that,' said the director. 'We are not biased or prejudice whatsoever.'"

All from the Harper's Weekly Review, which has links for everything.

"Donald Trump has reached a new high in support for the Republican presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll..."

"... drawing on GOP support for his proposed ban on Muslims along with his powerful outsider credentials. Ben Carson’s cratered, while Ted Cruz has advanced to join the double-digit club – but with Trump now unrivaled for the lead."(PDF.)

AND: Yikes, look at this:

Rush Limbaugh suddenly drops his support for Trump — after Trump attacks Cruz (attacks Cruz the way moderates and liberals attack Cruz).

Just 4 days ago, I was observing that Rush Limbaugh was displaying his deep, personal identification with Trump. He was really seeing himself in Trump's style and method of working the media. The media have "their moral superiority where they believe they represent the majority thinking of people in the country," and they're in an "absolute, sheer panic" because Trump/Rush makes them "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[/Rush] is a reprobate."

But Trump forced Rush into an identity crisis. Rush might love Trump's style and method and the self-loving high he gets from witnessing the political success of that style and method. But the substance must be rock-hard conservatism. And Trump lost Rush by attacking Cruz the way he attacked Cruz. Trump said:
I don't think he has the right temperament.  I don't think he's got the right judgment.  You look at the way he's dealt with the Senate where he goes in there like a... You know, frankly, like a little bit of a maniac. You're never gonna get things done that way.  You can't walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people.  He'll never get anything done, and that's the problem with Ted.
Rush's response yesterday was, first, "Whoa... Doesn't that kind of describe the way Trump has been dealing with people he disagrees with?" But worse...
[T]his is no different than what the media would say about Ted Cruz. This is no different than what the Democrat Party would say.  I mean, this is what the Republican establishment would say, for crying out loud. I mean, this is akin to saying, "I'm the guy who can cross the aisle and work with the other side."... He's essentially put on his John McCain hat here and is saying, "I'm Donald McCain, and I'm the guy that can cross the aisle and work with the other side. Ted Cruz can't."...
Rush proceeds to observe that Trump's supporters really are not all that conservative and Trump's positions aren't that conservative. Trump attacked Cruz for opposing ethanol, and he took a shot at Antonin Scalia for bringing up the mismatch argument in the affirmative action case. These are "red flags" for conservatives.

Later, Rush said he knew that Trump had to fight Cruz for the nomination and that Trump was hitting back after Cruz had questioned his judgment — "Trump responded in kind, which is his MO." Rush denied that he was "in anybody's camp." He's "just telling you what's what, what I see, what I think" as "things happen day to day."  But — sighing — he comes back to:
Folks, it's disappointing to hear Trump hit Cruz the same way that the Republican establishment hits Cruz and with the same things that the media hits Cruz and the Democrats do.  You know, this is a big deal to me, this Republican belief that somehow the voters want a candidate who can compromise, who can make Washington work. I mean, I just get revolted at that.... Screw that....

James Surowiecki defends the "philanthrocapitalism" of Mark Zuckerberg.

I have to link to this New Yorker piece, since I've been skeptical about whether Zuckerberg is really doing good.
Hostility toward philanthropy is nothing new; when John D. Rockefeller established his eponymous foundation, he was attacked for reasserting “the old reign of aristocracy under the new names of philanthropy and science.” And Zuckerberg’s move comes at a time of anxiety about the rise of so-called philanthrocapitalism. Foundations have great influence over social policy but are independent of democratic control. Why should unelected billionaires get to exercise their neo-missionary impulses across the globe?....

Philanthropies... have far-reaching time horizons and almost no one they have to please. This can lead them to pour money into controversial causes, as Zuckerberg has with education reform. But it also enables them to make big bets on global public goods. There is a long history of this: the Rockefeller Foundation funded the research that produced a vaccine for yellow fever. The Gates Foundation, since its founding, in 2000, has put billions of dollars into global health programs, and now spends more on health issues than the W.H.O.

It’s been suggested that if we just taxed billionaires more there’d be more money for promoting social projects globally. But it’s far likelier that those projects would just go underfunded....
ADDED: I don't think Surowiecki confronts the problem of "pour[ing] money into controversial causes" like education reform. One man's flaky or utopian notions can supplant democratic choice.

"'You’re Chinese, but I’m not,' he told me, with certainty. 'But I eat Chinese food.'"

Writes Bonnie Tsui, both of whose parents are first-generation immigrants from China about her 5-year old son, whose father is Euro-American. The title of the NYT essay is "Choose Your Own Identity."
[I]n that moment when he confidently asserted himself as “not Chinese,” I felt a selfish urge for him to claim a way of describing himself that included my side of his genetic code. And yet I knew that I had no business telling him what his racial identity was. Today, he might feel white; tomorrow he might feel more Chinese. The next day, more, well, both. Who’s to say but him?

Racial identity can be fluid....
The comment NYT readers rank highest is: "Couldn't it be time to get rid of all the racial 'boxes'? If we admit it, aren't nearly all of us Americans of mixed ancestry? And isn't that part of the attraction of this nation? Nearly all of us have ancestors from somewhere else!" Second highest: "Maybe if we spend more time on trying to be simply people, possibly even good people, instead of wasting time trying to find more ways to divide among ourselves the world would be a better place. How is a world with an infinite number of ethnic and gender identities a better one?" Third:
The claim that race is fluid seems very obvious. Anthropologists who study race say it doesn't exist. And yet we are told it is a microaggression to say we want to be color-blind. I get that White supremacy created the mess we are in, but when you need a little kid to remind you of the truth you know we are a sick society.
One answer to that is: Tsui is only saying it's for each individual to define his/her their racial identity, not for somebody else to decide and not for there to be a canceling out of all racial identities. But it's striking that NYT readers are so eager to make that next leap. I'm pretty sure that's not what the NYT was hoping to inspire. 

December 14, 2015

"By 'imagined,' Dr. Anderson did not mean that nations are not real..."

"... indeed, he wrote, any community larger than a village in which people know one another face to face is to an extent imagined. The 'deep horizontal comradeship' that characterizes a nation is socially constructed, he wrote, but also heartfelt and genuine; it explains why people die and kill for their countries."

From the NYT obituary for Benedict Anderson, author of “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,” who had observed that “Unlike most other isms, nationalism has never produced its own grand thinkers: no Hobbeses, Tocquevilles, Marxes or Webers,” and who, it seems, filled the gap.

"I would like to be with Senator Cruz for a moment and I would like to respectfully ask him, since he quotes all the lines from 'The Princess Bride' and certainly all of my character, Inigo Montoya’s, lines..."

"I would like to know why he doesn’t quote my favorite line?... After the princess flies out the window and falls into Andre the Giant’s arms.... Inigo says to the Man in Black, 'I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.' Senator Cruz, if you’re going to say those lines, you’ve got to say the other line, too.... This man is not putting forth ideas that are at the heart of what that movie is all about. I would love for Senator Cruz, and everyone creating fear mongering and hatred, to consider creating hope, optimism and love. Open your arms to these people, these refugees trying to get into our country, and open your hearts."

Said Mandy Patinkin.

ADDED: Mandy Patinkin has said he wants "to be with Senator Cruz for a moment" to have a respectful conversation. Cruz should take him up on that!

"The 2015 Black List, a collection of Hollywood's best unproduced screenplays, was announced Monday..."

"Bubbles, by Isaac Adamson, topped the list with 44 votes. It centers on a baby chimp that’s adopted by Michael Jackson."
Narrating his own story, Bubbles the Chimp details his life within The King of Pop’s inner circle through the scandals that later rocked Jackson’s life and eventually led to Bubbles’ release.
ALSO: "Reagan" —
When Ronald Reagan falls into dementia at the start of his second term, an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander in chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.
IN THE COMMENTS: Meade says:
Speaking of killing people with stupidity, I might be willing to pay money to see: "CHAPPAQUIDDICK... A historically factual look at what really happened when Ted Kennedy drove off the road into a Martha’s Vineyard bay with Mary Jo Kopechne in the car."
But look! Here 's news that the director of "Fifty Shades of Grey" is "in talks to direct" "Chappaquiddick"!
Mark Ciardi is producing the project... "I’ve done a lot of true life stories, many sports stories, but this one had a deep impact on this country.... Everyone has an idea of what happened on Chappaquiddick and this strings together the events in a compelling and emotional way. You’ll see what he had to go through."

"A top Army commander on Monday ordered that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl face a court-martial on charges of desertion and endangering troops..."

"... stemming from his decision to leave his outpost in 2009, prompting a huge manhunt in the wilds of eastern Afghanistan and landing him in nearly five years of harsh Taliban captivity."
The decision by Gen. Robert B. Abrams, head of Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., means that Sergeant Bergdahl, 29, faces a possible life sentence, a far more serious penalty than had been recommended by the Army’s own investigating officer, who had testified that a jail sentence would be “inappropriate.”

"The biggest Pinocchios of 2015."

From the WaPo Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler.

"Kaus delights in the pity and disgust he detects from his old friends’ view that he has joined a band of kooks and racists."

Writes Ben Smith in "What The Hell Happened To Mickey Kaus?/How a godfather of Democratic political blogging became obsessed with immigration — and came around to Donald Trump."
“I don’t know who’s reading me, but every now and then I get somebody who has influence calling me a jerk, and it’s like, ‘Yes!’” he remarked over coffee and doughnuts. “Maybe I’ll collect all those tweets and hang them on the wall.”...

Anti-immigration forces “don’t have business, we don’t have the media, we don’t have the presidency, we don’t have the Senate, we don’t have leadership in the House — and we’re still winning,” he said a few days after having failed to torpedo Paul Ryan’s speakerhood. “So why is that happening?”

Kaus pauses. He’s voted for Barack Obama twice, and the place this is leading may make him slightly uncomfortable.

“The answer is that no one is speaking for the actual voter — except, it turns out, for Donald Trump.”

Trump goes up to 41% in the new Monmouth poll of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.

The next highest is Cruz, with only 14%. This poll was taken entirely after his proposal to keep Muslims from entering the United States and also after his recent outburst "What the hell is Monmouth? I only like polls that treat me well." So he's liking Monmouth today.
Among various demographic groups, Trump picked up 13 points among those with a high-school education, earning 54 percent support with that group, and 11 points with those identifying with the tea party, earning 52 percent with that group.... Trump's standing among women has fallen slightly, down four points since October (41 percent to 37 percent this time), though he has gained three points with men (41 percent to 44 percent). Among those with a college degree, support for Trump fell by 10 points, from 41 percent to 31 percent.
AND: Trump just came out with his health report. The most interesting thing is: "no history of ever using alcohol." I was also surprised to see that his blood pressure is 110/65, because he looks so orange and puffy.

"Instead of litigating affirmative action, simply hold a lottery for all qualified applicants."

That's a suggestion at The American Conservative, linked by Instapundit who says "I’ve made a similar suggestion myself."

I remember when an admissions lottery was a big left-wing idea. I remember Duncan Kennedy's "Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy: A Polemic Against the System" — published in 1982 and referred to fondly as "the little red book."

It contains a "Utopian Proposal." Part B of the proposal is headed "The Law School as a Counterhegemonic Enclave" ("This is a set of proposals designed to reduce illegitimate hierarchy and alienation within the school, and to reduce or reverse the school’s role in promoting illegitimate hierarchy and alienation in the bar and the country at large"). And the first item under Part B is "Admissions":
There should be a test designed to establish minimal skills for legal practice and then a lottery for admission to the school....
To be fair to the righties who are now talking lottery, Professor Kennedy also wanted "quotas within the lottery for women, minorities and working class students."

"I think he looks like the Tin Man in the original 'Oz' movie."

I said. And Meade said: "I think he looks like Jeremy in 'Yellow Submarine.'"

We were looking at this:

ADDED: Oddly, enough, Jeremy's full name is Jeremy Hillary Boob PhD.

Paragraph I was going to blog, but then...

So here's an article in the University of Wisconsin student newspaper, The Badger Herald, "Demonstrators demand better environment for students of color at UW System schools/Students attended Friday's Board of Regents meeting to make their voices, demands heard." I found the paragraph I was going to quote in the way that I use for a simple post that links to an article and doesn't state any opinion. Just a couple of sentences. I picked this...
During the meeting, demonstrators distributed copies of their demands titled The Urgent Demands of UW’s Black Students and of Students of Color to Regents and those present at the meeting. Included in these demands was a request to the UW System to institute a mandatory, comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum to be overseen by a board comprised of colored students, staff and faculty.

"Rubio’s Weirdly Lazy Campaign for President."

A headline at The American Conservative. Excerpt:
Because Rubio hasn’t been able to raise much money, he hasn’t been able to build the sort of campaign organization that winning candidates typically have, but he also isn’t barnstorming the early states as long-shot candidates with few resources have to do in order to compete. He is taking his support for granted, and he doesn’t seem to be working very hard at winning over new supporters....

Rubio is proving to be a candidate who is not only being out-organized, but also out-hustled. The senator likes to excuse his Senate absenteeism by referring to his presidential campaigning, but in light of these reports it’s fair to ask: what is Rubio doing during all the time he’s not spending doing his job?

"Aren't all the men who enter the temple product of the blood formed in their mothers' uteruses?"

"You have decided that I should not bring my polluted blood inside the temple. But, which God gave somebody the right to choose what I do with my blood?"

"I get that I’m an average-looking guy."

"I go to the gym, but destroy a pizza for dinner—this is not the means of building a six pack. Perhaps if I opted for quinoa salad instead, I could have posed topless with my briefs pulled so low that I revealed some suggestive butt cleavage as I held a mug. Perhaps then I would have gotten chosen.... The better question here is, why the hell was getting featured such a big deal for me? If I’m being honest I wanted validity from a source that wasn’t my girlfriend, a friend, or a family member to tell me I was a good-looking guy. Since social media is exactly that—social—Men & Coffee seemed the easiest way to find out, since all I’d have to do is take a picture with a cup of coffee and hashtag it.... I bought into the superficiality that accounts like Men & Coffee perpetuate, and was let down for it. I found that I am to be a mere spectator of such revered content, not worthy of adoration. The validity I already received from those close to me would have to suffice—and I guess it does."

Writes Bobby Box, who wanted to get a picture of himself holding a coffee mug on "the wildly popular Instagram account @menandcoffee." Box — love the name — has pictures of himself and of some of the great-looking guys who have gotten their pictures on the website. I'm flagging the article mostly because it's a male version of the type of article by young women that you see all the time — a person who doesn't look like a model sharing the experience of realizing that it's okay not to look like a model.

"I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my own eyes."

Said Ed Sheeran, quitting social media.
"To my family and friends, if you love me you will understand me buggering off for a bit," he wrote.
Here's Ed Sheeran's YouTube page, which I put up because I imagined the "Who's Ed Sheeran?" comments that were about to be posted, and now I'm imagining the commenters who think they'd be displaying a cool sense of humor if they now wrote "Who's Ed Sheeran?"

"Someone had changed a single word in the draft text — from a 'should' to a 'shall' — and suddenly the entire climate deal appeared at risk of faltering."

"Secretary of State John F. Kerry phoned his old friend, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, in exasperation over a tiny revision that implied huge new legal and financial obligations. 'We cannot do this,' Kerry warned."

Tiny? One word is not tiny. If you think the difference between "should" and "shall" is tiny, you can't be trusted to proofread the text of a deal. Good for Kerry, noticing. But in saying "We cannot do this," he revealed something quite un-tiny.
The U.S. team, led by Kerry and chief climate negotiator Todd Stern, struggled to fend off demands from small island states and other poorer countries for guaranteed “loss and damage” compensation, essentially payment for negative impacts of climate change. But the Obama administration would not contemplate such an open-ended financial obligation that Congress would have to approve and U.S. citizens would have to pay for....

After the call to Fabius, U.S. and French officials decided together that the word change had been accidental. As such, it could be handled as an ordinary typographical error and erased at the discretion of the conference leader.

The Cruz campaign uses "a team of statisticians and behavioral psychologists" who do "psycho­graphic targeting" with "their own version of a Myers-Briggs personality test."

According to The Washington Post.
The test data is supplemented by recent issue surveys, and together they are used to categorize supporters, who then receive specially tailored messages, phone calls and visits. Micro-targeting of voters has been around for well over a decade, but the Cruz operation has deepened the intensity of the effort and the use of psychological data....

The personality and political scores applied by the campaign are used to tightly tailor outreach to individuals. For example, personalities that have received high scores for “neuroticism” are believed to be generally fearful, so a pro-gun pitch to them would emphasize the use of firearms for personal safety and might include a picture of a burglar breaking in to a home.

But those who score high for “openness” or traditional values are more likely to receive a message that promotes hunting as a family activity, perhaps accompanied by an image of a father taking his son duck hunting....

Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, spit chewing tobacco into a soft drink bottle as he explained the campaign’s heavy investment in data and analysis....
Whoa! Stop right there! This was rolling along like the height of sophistication and then Jeff Roe spit chewing tobacco into a soft drink bottle. What a crazy world....

December 13, 2015

"It is a near-religious teaching among many people today that if you are against sexual assault, then you must always believe individuals who say they have been assaulted."

"Questioning in a particular instance whether a sexual assault occurred violates that principle. Examining evidence and concluding that a particular accuser is not indeed a survivor, or a particular accused is not an assailant, is a sin that reveals that one is a rape denier, or biased in favor of perpetrators. This is the set of axioms on which one might build a suggestion that challenging the accuracy of 'The Hunting Ground' contributes to a hostile environment on campus. If I am a student at a school where professors seem to disbelieve one accuser’s account, then it is possible that they could disbelieve me if I am assaulted. That possibility makes me feel both that I am unsafe and that my school is a sexually hostile environment. Under this logic, individuals would not feel safe on campus unless they could know that professors are closed off to the possibility that a particular person accused of sexual misconduct may be innocent or wrongly accused. But, then, what would be the purpose of a process in which evidence on multiple sides is evaluated?"

From "Shutting Down Conversations About Rape at Harvard Law," by Jeannie Suk, in The New Yorker.

Chuck Todd interrupted Marco Rubio to a ludicrous degree, but he gave him the room to hurt himself on same-sex marriage.

1. The interrupting. Just look at the transcript. This is just one example of the pattern:
MARCO RUBIO: I feel very confident in our plan. To be honest, I'm--

CHUCK TODD: Are you trying to win Iowa?

MARCO RUBIO: I'm trying to do well and win everywhere we campaign. I'm not running for second, third place in any state in this country. Obviously, these races are very different--

CHUCK TODD: So you, you're trying to [win] Iowa?

MARCO RUBIO: I'm trying to win--

CHUCK TODD: You're investing--

MARCO RUBIO: --everywhere that we campaign--

CHUCK TODD: --in Iowa.
The transcript is full of Todd stepping on Rubio's lines like that. I have never seen Todd treat anyone else that disrespectfully, and Rubio just acted as though it wasn't happening. Did Todd hope he could rattle Rubio? Well, he didn't. Rubio just put up with it. He never resorted to the approach I think Trump (for example) would have used: keep talking, forcibly, and don't allow a place for the interruption.

2. Same-sex marriage.
Here, Todd minimized the interruptions and let Rubio jabber, which Rubio seemed fully willing to do. Same-sex marriage is a resolved issue that a candidate doesn't need to make much of, but Rubio obviously wanted to bear down on it:

About that Angela Merkel person-of-the-year Time Magazine cover....

Donald Trump mockingly imitates Hillary's hand gestures.

Filmed from Trump's appearance today on "Fox News Sunday."

"Everything she does is, like, theatrical. 'Oh, Donald Trump said this'... Looks like she practices in front of a mirror for 2 hours...."

He should know theatrical!

ADDED: When Hillary imitated Trump:

Last September on "The Tonight Show," linked in the comments here.

MORE: I clipped the video to highlight the imitation, but if it were extended a bit, you'd hear something that I can see is getting talked about. From the transcript:
And one of the reasons I’m going to do great with women is that I’m a leader. I’m not Hillary Clinton. She’s got no strength, she’s got no stamina. Everything she does is theatrical. Oh, Donald Trump said this. He -- actually it was interesting. She said -- I watched her last night. It looks like, she practices in front of a mirror for two hours, Donald Trump said, I think he's dangerous. I’m dangerous. She's the one that caused all this problem with her stupid policies. You look at what she did with Libya, what she did with Syria. Look at Egypt. What happened with Egypt, a total mess. They don’t back -- we don’t back any of our allies. You look, she was truly, if not the -- one of the worst secretaries of state in the history of the country. She talks about me being dangerous. She's killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity.

WALLACE: What do you mean she's killed hundreds of thousands?

TRUMP: She was secretary of state. Obama was president. The team -- two real geniuses... Look at what happened. The Middle East is a total disaster under her. She traveled back and forth, but look at the problems. Look -- as an example -- Iraq, total disaster. They didn’t get us in, but they got us out badly, OK? Total -- we spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over. Look at -- look at Libya. Look at Benghazi, our ambassador. He wired her 500 or 600 times asking for help. She'll take her friends' call every time. Hillary Clinton doesn't have the judgment. She doesn't have the strength or the stamina to be president. She will be a terrible president. 
The "hundreds of thousands" is inflammatory. There's a number in that statement — like "thousands and thousands" celebrating on the rooftops of Jersey City on 9/11. That number demands attention. It makes people think he's wrong and the wrongness can be proved. And so attention will be lavished on the problem of Hillary's bad judgment and bad policy in the Middle East and the cost in human life. Even if the number is ultimately shown to be wrong, Trump will have prevailed, because this is now the issue of the week, and the problem he's highlighting is a terrible problem whether he got the number right or wrong.

"The book is... a kind of manifesto and at various points a meditation on the nature of whiteness..."

From an L.A. Times book review: "'The White Road' is an obsessive journey into the world of porcelain." The review, by Geoff Nicholson, begins:
In 1717, Augustus the Strong of Poland, a porcelain devotee associated with the Meissen facility nearby, developed a passionate need to acquire 18 large Chinese porcelain vases owned by Frederick William I of Brandenburg and Prussia. The vases were not for sale, so Augustus suggested a swap. In exchange for the vases, he would supply William with a battalion of 600 dragoon guards. The deal was accepted, the porcelain became known as the Dragoon Vases, and the battalion took the Meissen cipher — two crossed swords — as its banner.

About two and a quarter centuries later, had you been in Berlin or Warsaw, you could have gone into a store belonging to the Allach company and bought a porcelain cupid or candlestick or storm trooper, and on the underside of the base would have been the Allach mark, which Edmund de Waal tells us, "is the double lightning Sig of the SS. Cleverly, it is also the Meissen mark of the two crossed swords." The company's catalog proclaimed that white porcelain was the embodiment of the German soul. The company's factory — perhaps you're suspecting something unpleasant by now — was in Dachau....

[T]he history of porcelain, as told in "The White Road," is a constantly surprising, sometimes absolutely staggering, coming together of art, craft and commerce, politics and religion, national identity, larger-than-life characters and wild, sometimes ruinous obsession. Who knew?
You can buy "The White Road: Journey into an Obsession" here. And here's a book by Geoff Nicholson: "The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism."

I found that review after searching the word "obsessive," after somebody called me "obsessive," here. Was that obsessive of me? Here are "6 Weird Signs You Might Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder." I don't have any of those weird signs, but maybe I have some unweird signs... or weird signs of my own. Must blog first thing in the morning. Thinks words may open doors to journeys of meaning. Must open doors....