February 27, 2016

"Let's have a spelling bee to determine the presidency. I'm guessing we'd get Cruise."

"Not Hilary? How sexist of you."

Bill Clinton is brutally confronted over the VA and Benghazi — "Your wife lied over 4 coffins!" — and all we see is his mild demand to be allowed to respond...

... escalating into a politely stated request to "shut up"...

... and we never hear his actual answer, because the camera goes out the door with the ejected questioner. Maybe there were other cameras, and we'll see the rest, but this was brutal. It's easy to create this kind of disruption and hard to know what the speaker can do... other than support a candidate who has not inspired that kind of anger.

Drudge presents it like this:

"Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump... the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair..."

"... as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar. The endorsement by Mr. Christie, a not unblemished but still highly regarded figure within the party’s elite — he is a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association — landed Friday with crippling force. It was by far the most important defection to Mr. Trump’s insurgency: Mr. Christie may give cover to other Republicans tempted to join Mr. Trump rather than trying to beat him. Not just the Stop Trump forces seemed in peril, but also the traditional party establishment itself."

From a NYT article, based on interviews with insiders, titled "Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump."

The most interesting revelation is that despite Christie's skewering of Rubio for his robotic scriptedness, after Christie dropped out of the race, Rubio reached out to Christie, to try to get his endorsement. But Rubio bungled it. He left a voice mail that included some sort of assurance that Christie had "had a bright future in public service":
Mr. Christie, 53, took the message as deeply disrespectful and patronizing, questioning why “a 44-year-old” was telling him about his future, said people who described his reaction on the condition of anonymity. Further efforts to connect the two never yielded a direct conversation.
Meanwhile, Trump "made frequent calls to Mr. Christie once he dropped out," and "the two met at Trump Tower on Thursday with their wives."

And doesn't that show the problem? It's not just that Trump has his posh real estate and well-practiced socializing skills to butter up useful people, but that Rubio doesn't have anything comparable. He left a voice mail and it was patronizing. He even had the opportunity to script the hell out of the message before calling and he failed to anticipate how his words would affect someone about whom he knew plenty. How is this man supposed to deal with all the many people a President must interact with in all sorts of planned and spontaneous encounters? How can GOP insiders have come up with the idea of everyone coalescing around Rubio? The only argument seems to be to scare everyone into thinking that Trump is a horrible disaster. But Christie's judgment refutes that last ditch scare tactic.

And, by the way, Mitt Romney won't endorse Rubio:
Mr. Rubio’s advisers were... thwarted in their efforts to secure an endorsement from Mr. Romney, whom they lobbied strenuously after the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary. Mr. Romney had been eager to tilt the race, and even called Mr. Christie after he ended his campaign to vent about Mr. Trump and say he must be stopped. On the night of the primary, Mr. Romney was close to endorsing Mr. Rubio himself, people familiar with his deliberations said. Yet Mr. Romney pulled back, instead telling advisers that he would take on Mr. Trump directly.
What's wrong with Rubio?!

The theme of the day — "awkward" — finally brings us — as all things do — to Donald Trump.

It's Think Progress: "Rubio’s New ‘Con Artist’ Attack On Trump Could Put Him In A Very Awkward Position."
“A con artist is about to take over the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and we have to put a stop to it,” Rubio said on CBS’ This Morning. “He is wholly unprepared to be president of the United States.”

Rubio used the “con artist” line again on NBC’s Today. “I mean, this is unreal. Again, this guy is a con artist,” Rubio said. “He’s always making things up. No one holds him accountable for it.”

And again on ABC’s Good Morning America: “I think it’s important for people to understand they have a choice to make. Look, if this pattern continues, the conservative movement in the Republican Party will be taken over by a con artist portraying himself as the fighter of the ordinary person fighting for the working man — but he’s spent years sticking it to the working people.”

Rubio used the line again Friday while campaigning in Texas, and again later on Twitter....
Rubio is repeating himself and it's triggering the stereotype we have about him: a robotic repeater of sound bites. And that's a reputation that Chris Christie stuck on him, Chris Christie, who, while Rubio was flogging his "con artist" label, was out there endorsing Trump and overshadowing Rubio in the news cycle.

But that's not what Think Progress is calling "awkward." Think Progress is calling attention to Rubio's pledge to support whoever wins the GOP nomination. How is he going to support somebody he's insulted by calling him a "con artist"?

2 ideas:

1. Take a look at Chris Christie? Chris Christie insulted Trump plenty of times. Here's Politico's "8 times Chris Christie suggested Donald Trump shouldn't be president." Christie once said Trump was acting like "13-year-old," "someone who's just going to talk off the top of their head," not "suited to be president of the United States," someone who "has the quick and easy answer to a complicated problem," etc. All the candidates insult each other. It's part of the game, and when the game moves forward, it's time to drop the insults and switch to compliments. If you're good enough to get this far, you obviously know that.

2. "Con artist" is one of those insults that can be flipped. Remember how Trump embraced the insult "angry"? "Our country is being run by incompetent people. And I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry." Do the same thing "con artist." If you think about it the right way, a "con artist" is just what we want. I know that sounds frightful, but I'm pre-paraphrasing what I think Trump could say and Rubio could winningly endorse.

"Put Yourself on a 20 Minute Timer to Make Awkward Social Events Easier."

From Lifehacker.

The idea is that when the timer on your phone alert sounds, people around you will think you have some kind of message and you'll have a way to make a graceful exit (with a simple white lie), and before the timer goes off, just knowing the timer is running will be some kind of comfort.

Pretty awkward.

In New York Magazine, "Awkward: Boy Wins Competition for Girls in Tech":
The EDF Energy company in the U.K. launched a campaign called #PrettyCurious to encourage young women, ages 11 to 16, to go into the field of science... [T]he contest asked children "to think of ideas for a connected home bedroom product." Citing "fairness" as a reason, the energy company later opened up the competition to all kids of all genders, but maintained that the competition was still targeted at girls.....

Ada Lovelace Day founder Suw Charman-Anderson told the BBC that she was suspicious of the competition from the beginning because "EDF Energy chose to link appearance and interest in STEM through the title of their campaign, despite many people pointing out that it was demeaning to girls."
So they used the word "pretty," they centered the activity on the "home bedroom," and then, because they'd gone too far and got criticized, they let the boys in, and a boy won, and, of course, they got criticized for that.


"The Great Auk Pinguinus impennis surrounded by its true relatives Pinguinus impennis Alca torda Fratercula arctica Cepphus grylle Uria aalge Alle alle," by Archibald Thorburn.

"An auk is a bird of the family Alcidae in the order Charadriiformes....They are good swimmers and divers, but their walking appears clumsy. Modern auks can fly (except for the extinct great auk)...."

Auks are not awkward, except from a land-based perspective.

"Unlike the pure coherence of [Buckminster] Fuller's idea, for instance, Grieb's shifts in geometric patterning are subtly awkward..."

"... and the interstitial building with its squiggly entry leads to unnecessarily crammed interior spaces, for instance."

That's an awkward sentence about awkwardness — note the double "for instance" — from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article titled "The singular vision and big ambition of Domes architect Donald Grieb."

The Domes — the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory — "have become an emblem of civic neglect."

There are a lot of domes out there, from the time when domes seemed like The Future, and even the purely coherent domes of Buckminster Fuller are crumbling into incoherence through neglect.

The Future was once a concept, and when it was made real, real people said no, but we may say yes again, if only to preserve the crazy old idea of The Future we had in the past.

February 26, 2016

Susan Sarandon trashes Hillary Clinton.

"I think that she's isolated. I don't think she's... a victim — playing this female part — I don't think she is. She's been connected to power for a very long time, and when she was on the board of Walmart for 9 years, she did nothing to raise that wage or stand by women and all the things she could have done. And I think that her name recognition is helping her quite a bit in the South, but I don't think that she's been there, like Sanders has, getting arrested, all through his life standing up for rights...."

"Donald Trump Can't Release His Taxes While Being Audited?"

NPR does a fact check. That is, they talk to a NYU tax-lawprof:
"He can obviously release them if he wants to," said Daniel Shaviro... But Shaviro conceded, as other tax experts have, that Trump's lawyers may advise him not to release the returns for legal strategy purposes. "I can imagine either my lawyer or my PR adviser saying 'don't' until the audit is over."
What of the strange claim that the IRS may be auditing Trump every year because he's a Christian?
"But the one problem I have is that I’m always audited by the IRS, which I think is very unfair. I don’t know, maybe because of religion, maybe because I’m doing something else, maybe because I’m doing this, although this is just recently.... Well maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it. And maybe there’s a bias.... You see what’s happened. I mean, you have many religious groups have been complaining about that. They’ve been complaining about it for a long time."
I can imagine the IRS targeting him... but because he's "a strong Christian"? I assume he has a reason for saying that, perhaps to draw in Christians who worry that the government is persecuting them. He's just wafting a suspicion, so, no proof needed, right? But this casual stirring of paranoia feels off. Is there something Christian in the tax returns that we'll eventually see? Is he tempting us down a rat hole?

ADDED: Who says "a strong Christian"? It's like Mitt Romney calling himself "severely conservative."

Or is it? I see the similarity, but Meade is seeing a difference. The difference might be something like: Romney's use of the odd phrase — which seems as though it should have been "strict conservative" — made us suspect that he didn't normally talk about himself that way, didn't have the common expression handy, and thus that he wasn't really conservative. Trump may simply be using his go-to adjective "strong" with the relevant noun "Christian," and inventing his own novel phrase. That is, he wasn't even trying to get to a stock phrase like "devout Christian."

BUT: Googling "strong Christian," I can see reason to think it is something of a standard phrase. I'm finding a classic sermon called "Strong Christians" that begins with the text from Ephesians, "My brethren, be strong in the Lord" and continues:
A weak and cowardly soldier is a pitiful object, but a weak-kneed, cowardly Christian is still more so. S. Paul told the Ephesian Christians to be strong in the Lord, and in these days especially we need strong Christians, strong Churchmen. I do not mean that we want men to presume on their strength, to repeat the sin of the Pharisee of old, and talk of their righteousness, or condemn their neighbours. I do not mean that we must be noisy and violent, and quarrelsome in our religion. None of these things are a proof of strength. A giant of power is ever the gentlest, having the hand of steel in the glove of silk. So the stronger a Christian is the more humbly he bears himself. A writer of the day says very truly, "if the world wants iron dukes, and iron men, God wants iron saints."
Read the whole thing!

Blue ice — "nearly neon" — at the Mackinac Bridge...

... on Lake Michigan.

"I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head."

"I am not owned by Lack, Griffin or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.... I don’t know if there is a personal racial component... I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.... I care only about substantive, meaningful and autonomous work... When we can do that, I will return — not a moment earlier.”

Said Melissa Harris-Perry, walking away from her MSNBC show. The second-highest rated comment at the link — which goes to the NYT — is "I'm sure someone will come along and explain this to me but I have no idea what the issue is here. Why is this news?"

Christie endorses Trump!

This is huge! The big man makes a big splash and the cascade begins. From the NYT report:
The endorsement came a day after Mr. Rubio, in a withering debate performance, turned his guns on Mr. Trump for the first time, and followed up this morning, calling Mr. Trump a “con artist.”

Mr. Trump welcomed the endorsement with warm praise for the New Jersey governor. “He’s been my friend for many years, he’s been a spectacular governor,” said Mr. Trump, standing with Mr. Christie at a press conference in Fort Worth, Texas, for the endorsement.

“I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump,” said Mr. Christie, noting they have been friends for a decade. Mr. Trump “will do exactly what needs to be done to make America a leader around the world again,” said Mr. Christie.
That vastly overshadows Marco Rubio's bad comedy routine this morning as he (of all people!) makes fun of Trump for sweating: “First, he had this little makeup thing applying, like makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches." And stoops to talking about Trump wetting his pants:
Then, Mr. Rubio said, he asked for a full-length mirror. “I don’t know why,” he said, winding up to his punch line: “Maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.”
In fairness to Rubio, Trump made a very big deal last night about the water pouring out of Rubio:
"He’s a meltdown guy. I mean, I’m looking at him, he’s just pouring sweat, I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know what the problem is, but he’s just pouring down sweat. We have to have somebody that doesn’t sweat."
AND: I see that Christie Trump is responding to Rubio on the makeup issue:
[H]e saw Mr. Rubio backstage with “a pile of makeup,” he said. “I said Marco, easy with the makeup, you don’t need that much.”

The NYT editors tell Hillary Clinton to release the transcripts of her "closed-door, richly paid speeches to big banks."

They hate her sneaky out: She'll release her transcripts "if everybody does it, and that includes the Republicans."
She is running against Bernie Sanders, a decades-long critic of Wall Street excess who is hardly a hot ticket on the industry speaking circuit.... By stonewalling on these transcripts Mrs. Clinton plays into the hands of those who say she’s not trustworthy and makes her own rules. Most important, she is damaging her credibility among Democrats who are begging her to show them that she’d run an accountable and transparent White House.

"What does this headline mean?"

Without reading the article, I'm going to assume it means conservative women are not really women. They should be counted as men.

Okay, here's the article. Let's see. The author, Julie Baird, is an Australian journalist who worked at Newsweek during the 2008 presidential campaign. At one point they were doing a cover, using a photo of Sarah Palin and the close-up crop revealed "some untended lip and eyebrow hair." They ran it because they don't do retouching, and because they'd certainly show a male candidate's closeup facial flaws. Newsweek was accused of bias. It was “mortifying,” “a clear slap in the face.”

The NYT doesn't show the cover, annoyingly enough. Here it is:


I don't think Newsweek covers normally crop in that close, but Baird insists: "The truth was, we’d portrayed Ms. Palin just the way we did male candidates." But aside from the cropping, the lighting was harsh, and that was precisely because the photoshoot was set up by technicians who did not know who McCain's running mate was going to be, so they had "man lighting," which is harsher than the "female lighting" they would have used if they'd known they'd be photographing a woman. And we're told that the close-up crop is something that's normally done to men and not women:

“Close-up photos of men are used all the time without being touched up — men, particularly our political leaders, are expected to have lines and wrinkles. In fact, the cragginess of a man’s face is thought to express character.”
Baird prods us to like comparable photographs of women: "Why are male blemishes signs of authority while women’s are signs of shame?" And, beyond that, why do we even regard female facial hair as a bad thing? Baird presents three examples, all from Victorian literature, portraying a women's mustache in a not completely negative light, e.g.:
In Victoria Cross’s 1903 novel “Six Chapters of a Man’s Life,” the heroine has a mustache “so perceptible that you can see it all across the room.” The male narrator is charmed: “It would spoil most women I know, but it doesn’t seem to spoil her.”
Baird asks:
Why do we consider a mere hint of the hirsute such a disgrace for women when men can mooch about our cities with goatees, mutton-chop whiskers, navel-skimming beards and even “man buns” with little comment? We think of ourselves as liberated, yet it is still considered embarrassing and shameful for a woman’s upper lip to be imperfectly depilated.
So my guess was wrong. Baird didn't say conservative women aren't real women. She said liberate yourself, ladies. Be out and proud with that hair.

"I saw him use the word that he used. I can only tell you, if I would have used even half of that word, it would have been national scandal."

"This guy used a filthy, disgusting word on television, and he should be ashamed of himself, and he should apologize, OK? Number one. Number two, we have a trade deficit with Mexico of $58 billion a year. And that doesn’t include all the drugs that are pouring across and destroying our country. We’re going to make them pay for that wall. Now, the wall is $10 billion to $12 billion, if I do it. If these guys do it, it’ll end up costing $200 billion. But the wall is $10 billion to $12 billion. You need 1,000 — you need 1,000 miles. The Great Wall of China, built 2,000 years ago — 2,000, is 13,000 miles. We need 1,000, because we have a lot of natural barriers. We can do it for $10 billion to $12 billion, and it’s a real wall. This is a wall that’s a heck of a lot higher than the ceiling you’re looking at. This is a wall that’s going to work. Mexico will pay for it, because they are not doing us any favors. They could stop all of this illegal trade if they wanted to immediately. Mexico will pay for the wall. It’s a small portion of the kind of money that we lose and the deficits that we have with Mexico."

That was said at last night's debate by — obviously — Donald Trump (who is "not having Oreos anymore, which is true, by the way").

The "filthy, disgusting word" was "fucking," spoken by former Mexican President Vicente Fox, In an interview with Jorge Ramos on Fusion: "I declare: I'm not going to pay for that fucking wall. He should pay for it. He's got the money."

AND BY THE WAY: What would it sound like to use "half of that word"? Here, Obama will show you:

IN THE COMMENTS: David Begley says:
Trump surely says "fucking" all the time in private. What a fake distinction.

Trump is a loose cannon. A loose cannon who wants to be Commander-in-Chief with his finger on our nukes. Not a good idea.
I react:
I don't understand how it works to just crudely throw insults at Trump when your substance is that Trump speaks bluntly. David Begley, you, in particular, sound like the very problem you are trying to attack. Except your type of attack has been plainly unsuccessful, and Trump's speech — whatever it is, however it is the same or different from yours — has been phenomenally successful. Don't you think you need to analyze this communications problem? Or do you just spout simple insults that pop into your head? Is that what you imagine Trump is doing? Because you are wrong, and you don't even bother to find out exactly how you are wrong. There is an art to blunt, clear, surprising speech. Most politicians don't try to do it because it's too hard to do right. At least KNOW that you're not doing it right. Otherwise, this is just headslappingly stupid.

Trump calls Rubio a "choke artist."

During the debate, Trump calls Rubio a "choke artist" ("this guy is a choke artist, and this guy is a liar"):

After the debate — "The problem with Marco, he's a choke artist...":

The "choke artist" insult isn't completely new. Trump used it in a press conference in South Carolina on February 15th:

I had to look up the term "choke artist."
In sports, a choke is the failure of an athlete or an athletic team to win a game or tournament when the player or team had been strongly favored to win or had squandered a large lead in the late stages of the event. Someone who chokes may be known as a choker or, more derisively, as a choke artist.
The other day, I blogged a clip of Scott Adams talking about how well Trump had done by getting a distinctive insult for each of his opponents, the "linguistic kill shot," an insult that sticks. Trump likes to pick things that are visual, that will make us look at the person and say "yeah, that feels kinda right." And these are also "words and phrases that haven't been used before, so they haven't been polluted by other meaning." That was true of "low energy" for Jeb Bush. "You have an immediate visual, plus, every time you see the person, it comes up again." That's "choke artist." Visual, feels kinda right, hasn't been used in politics before.

I guess sports fans knew "choke artist" without looking it up. I knew "choke," but not "choke artist." I had to look it up. I see Urban Dictionary has the term defined. The top-voted definition is: "To fail to perform effectively because of nervous agitation or tension so regularly and [on] such a grand scale that one becomes synonymous with the word failure, usually in an athletic contest. Usually used to describe a very talented person who fails under pressure. Alex Rodriguez is a choke artist in clutch situations."  ("Choke," "clutch"... sounds like car talk.)

But, there it is, the insult that sticks — "choke artist."

I'm not going to use Adams's term "linguistic kill shot." The metaphor is too real for a political campaign. But I will note that Trump used it in the debate:
TRUMP: ... first of all, he’s talking about the polls. I’m beating him awfully badly in the polls.

CRUZ: But you’re not beating Hillary. You’re not beating Hillary.

TRUMP: Well, then, if I can’t — if — hey, if I can’t beat her, you’re really going to get killed, aren’t you?

"Please clap" in the previous post caused me to uncover "The 17 saddest moments of Jeb Bush’s very sad campaign."

In Vox. To me, the saddest — if by, sad, we mean funny-sad — is: "15) The moment when Jeb was so excited to hear that he might have won a guy's vote that he ran over to hug him (February 4)."

"I've made this decision. Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo."

"I picked her and was like, 'Let's put in the girl.' I think I was most excited and allured by the fact that John would be the best father to a little girl. That excited me... It excited me to see … just the thought of seeing him with a little girl. I think he deserves a little girl. I think he deserves that bond. A boy will come along. We'll get there too, so it's not like we really have to pick. But he definitely is very lucky to have a little girl. And this girl is going to be so completely lucky to have John as her papa, it's crazy!"

Said Chrissy Teigen, the model. "John" — the man she is "excited" to picture with a baby girl — is her husband John Legend. She's come in for a lot of criticism, and one of her responses (on Twitter) is: "This is all so interesting. I said it so casually because i'm just open. I'm around so many open-minded people & forgot it's controversial." Whatever you think of her decision, her openness, and her explanations, it's funny how she ends her engagement with critics. Read from the bottom up:

ADDED: Try to analyze why people are reacting so strongly. Some of it is genuine moral principle, but if you are going to be a moralist, you need to look into you own heart and see whether it contains:
1. Envy that she has the money to do this procedure.

2. Disapproval of freely expressive speech.

3. "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." 

February 25, 2016

The big debate begins! Let's watch.

My son John is live-blogging, here.

I'll drop in if something inspires me, but please, comment away!

1. What do you want to happen? What are you hoping for?

2. Rubio begins with a shot at Trump, not by name, but with a reference to the choice between hopes and dreams and anger and fear.

3. WRITTEN THE NEXT MORNING: I bailed about 2 hours in, when I saw that it wasn't just 2 hours. I couldn't stay awake for that last half hour, and now I'm up early — my typical style — at 4:50 a.m. There was a lot of yelling and interrupting with Cruz and Rubio — fighting for survival — attacking Trump, and Trump was slightly less irritating because did what he had to do — defend himself. Cruz was fairly dignified, with his lofty tone and patient pauses. Rubio seemed to think he was: 1. a comedian, and 2. cute. The next morning, I can't remember any of his one-liners — were they all prewritten? — and I picture him grinning, armed spread, and looking around, like a bad comedian milking a joke.

At the Green Light Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Melissa "I need some muscle over here" Click has been fired.

"The board believes that Dr. Click’s conduct was not compatible with [University of Missouri] policies and did not meet expectations for a university faculty member.... The circumstances surrounding Dr. Click’s behavior, both at a protest in October when she tried to interfere with police officers who were carrying out their duties, and at a rally in November, when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights in a public space and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action."

A University of Houston PowerPoint presentation to faculty on how to adapt to the new Texas campus-carry law.

"A PowerPoint slide in the presentation, arranged by the president of the central campus’s Faculty Senate, Jonathan Snow..."

Drop certain topics! If they're afraid students will be moved to gunfire by whatever it is they are teaching, why weren't they already afraid?

And here's slide giving advice on how to phrase your anti-gun argument:

IN THE COMMENTS: Mark Caplan said:
And most important:

And Tari said:
There have always been guns on UH campus. Bad neighborhood, commuter students and lots of night classes means lots of women with handguns. The professors are probably safer now, assuming all those who want to carry on campus will bother to get a CHL.

Most of the UH students I've met over the years could give 2 sh$ts about the faculty's hysteria over this issue. They are by and large incredibly hard-working, no-nonsense kids who just want to get an education to get ahead in life.

"The bottom line is that the primary model, using also the cyclical movement, makes it almost certain that Donald Trump will be the next president..."

Says Stony Brook University polisci professor Helmut Norpoth, whose "primary model works for every presidential election since 1912, with the notable exception of the 1960 election. These results give the model an accuracy of 96.1 percent."
“When I started out with this kind of display a few months ago, I thought it was sort of a joke.” Norpoth said referring to Trump and Sanders, as many alumni in the audience laughed. “Well, I’ll tell you right now, it ain’t a joke anymore.”

As the presentation continued, laughter turned to silence as Norpoth forecasted a 61 percent chance of a Republican win in the general election.
I know some people have trouble accepting Trump as President, but I just want to say that I don't accept "forecasted" as a word.

I never thought the floating of the Sandoval name was anything other than political propaganda.

So I'm not surprised that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has let the White House know he doesn't want to be considered for the Supreme Court nomination.

He doesn't want to be exploited in the other party's political maneuverings.

Yesterday, my son John had a Facebook post linking to a New Republic item: "Why is Obama considering a Republican for the Supreme Court?" I didn't go to the item. I just answered the question: "Because he's not."

"Thanks to several years of the Democratic party establishment strong-arming younger candidates off the field for Hillary, the only agent for fundamental change remains Bernie Sanders..."

"... an honest and vanity-free man who has been faithful to his core progressive principles for his entire career.... The Democratic National Committee, as chaired since 2011 by Clinton sycophant Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has become a tyranny that must be checked and overthrown.  Shock the system! Here are the flaming words of one of my heroes, Mario Savio, leader of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley.  In 1964, he declared from the steps of Sproul Hall to a crowd of 4,000 protesters: 'There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!'"

One of my heroes, Mario Savio... when you get that that, of course, you know it's good old Camille Paglia. The new column — in Salon — is "Fight the soulless juggernaut: Big money, machine politics and the real issue separating Sanders and Clinton/Democrats face a stark choice: A money-mad, scandal-plagued establishment, or the potential of decency and change."

Trump ties Cruz in Texas and leads Rubio by 16 in Florida.

According to the newest polls.

And... is it worth saying?... he's up by 5 over Kasich in Ohio.

Who are these last remaining opponents? What are they doing if they are not even able to show solid strength against Trump in their home states?

Maybe they're staying in so they can team up against Trump in the debates. Can you imagine a one-on-one debate between Trump and Cruz/Rubio/Kasich?
“The reality is that, until the field starts to narrow, it’s going to be very, very hard to take him out,” said Katie Packer, deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and the leader of an anti-Trump super PAC. “I think people need to step up and start taking on Trump. Front-runners don’t just stumble. People trip them.”
That's from a Washington Post piece by Dan Balz and Philip Rucker titled "Can Donald Trump be stopped?" I only skimmed the article, which I picked out from an array of possible articles on this theme. They all seem so lame. I cherry-picked Packer's quote for lameness. How much money has her super PAC thrown around trying to trip Donald Trump? How much money will she rake in now in this effort to "start [sic] taking on Trump"? Here's the pitch she sent to donors 3 days ago. Excerpt: "I'm proud of the fact that the Washington Post reported that Our Principles PAC (OPP) is the 'biggest anti-Trump spender' to date...."

Oh, I did read this NYT piece: "Donald Trump Taps Foreign Work Force for His Florida Club."
Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers [at Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach]. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired. In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries.... The visas are issued through one of a handful of legal and often-debated programs through which employers can temporarily hire foreign workers when American labor is not available....
I can't help assuming that the NYT is looking hard to find instances of Trump's companies hiring people who are here illegally. They're finding that he followed the law. Noted.

"Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem of small blogs by replacing it with something easier to use and more effective."

"Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem of small blogs by replacing it with something easier to use and more effective," asserts Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. These days, Twitter is shutting down some conservative accounts. And Jacobson thinks — with the conservative blog ecosystem defunct — "There is no viable alternative to Twitter at this moment."

I got to that post through Instapundit, who invites everyone back into blogging and says he's "happy to promote small blogs." He also says — and I agree with this: "Twitter is overrated. It’s a good way to chatter with the chattering classes, but (1) it doesn’t drive traffic; (2) its impact outside the chattering classes is basically nil; and (3) it encourages people to think they’re being 'activists' when they’re really just tweeting to a few hundred people."

Blogging is better. I do Twitter a little, but it doesn't work to bring readers over to the blog. (Point #1 above.) But blogging works much better for me. I can see what I'm saying better and work things out as I see fit. It makes more sense, it centers your writing energy, and it's more fun.

"It used to be... that the lower and middle classes were stuffy and constrained by social convention while the freethinkers at universities and in the ruling class..."

"... got to experiment with unconventional ideas. If their experimenting got enough success, then it might eventually filter down to ordinary people. (The sexual revolution worked this way, more or less). But now it’s our ruling class that is hidebound by political correctness, and it takes movement by the masses to give it permission to express a controversial view. That’s a major change, and it’s one that the ruling class isn’t likely to appreciate much. But having subjected itself to the chains of 'acceptable' opinion, what can it do?"

So ends Glenn Reynolds's new USA Today column "Glenn Reynolds: A Trump wave is on the way/As plebes make the Donald increasingly acceptable, expect elite Trump supporters to come out of the closet."

There's a lot in there about Brexit as well as the American presidential election and some detail about "preference falsification" — when people "hide unpopular views to avoid ostracism or punishment" — and "preference cascades" — when people suddenly stop hiding. I'm credited as an early predictor of a preference cascade for Trump — with a link to my January 21st post "The coming cascade of smart, educated people embracing Trump."

The wonderful thing about voting is that we do it in secret. You don't have to come out of the closet to express the opinion that has the most clout. And others see that the votes are there, creating the sense of safety. The viewpoint is indeed widespread. We've been stuck at a point where people have felt that only low-educated people liked Trump, but the news from the primaries and caucuses is cutting against that idea (an idea much-promoted in elite media). In Nevada, exit polls showed Trump leading in all groups. It's getting safer to say you support Trump. Well, it's safe enough that people in all groups are telling exit pollsters that they voted for Trump. So it's not just the secret voting. It's disclosure to at least one other person, the pollsters.

About those 5 teenage boys who confronted a father and daughter at gunpoint in a Brooklyn playground, and ordered the man to go so they could rape the 18-year-old woman...

Remember we talked about it here on January 11th? Two of them were turned in by their own mothers. The police were criticized for not acting sooner.

Now, the charges are all being dropped, WaPo reports:
The woman and her father had provided inconsistent and unreliable stories, said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. Snippets of cellphone videos suggested the sex was consensual, prosecutors said. Worst of all, the father himself had been “engaging in sexual conduct” with his own daughter when the incident began, Thompson said....

To some critics, the bizarre, lurid case and rush to judgment recalled in some respects another controversial New York City rape case. In 1989, a woman was brutally raped while jogging through Central Park.... The five teens were convicted of a slew of charges [and later] exonerated....
In the comments to the January 11th blog post, MisterBuddwing had said:
I wouldn't be the least surprised if things happened exactly the way the police said they did. In which case, let the perps rot. But perhaps we should remember the case of the Central Park jogger. Five youths - four black, one Hispanic - were arrested in that rape-assault, and leading the charge, screaming for their blood, was a real estate mogul named Donald Trump. Years later, their convictions were vacated...
Oh! Donald Trump! Fancy meeting him here. The Washington Post drags him into this too:
Donald Trump took out a full-page ad in four New York newspapers with the title: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”
There's an image of the ad, but it's not enlargeable, so I can't read past the quoted headline. Here's an image big enough to read the text. Let's be clear: Somebody attacked the Central Park jogger. People were terrorized by violence in the city back then and could not walk in Central Park after dark. Women in particular were limited in our movement through the city. Trump wrote: "How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS... Let our politicians give back our police department's power to keep us safe. Unshackle them from the constant chant of 'police brutality'.... We must cease our continuous pandering to the criminal population of this city."

There's a lot of resonance with themes in the current election, but there's no focus on the problem of catching the wrong people. There definitely was and is violence from which we expect our leaders to protect us. That involves finding the real perpetrators of genuine acts of violence.

In this new case, it's not a question of finding the right people but of ascertaining whether the actions in question are really a crime. Much of our focus lately — with Season 1 of "Serial" and "The Making a Murderer" and much of The Innocence Project — has been on absolutely real and serious crimes and the problem of pinning those crimes on the wrong man. It's quite another matter when you have the person you know did something, but the question is whether it's a crime, as in this Brooklyn playground rape/nonrape (and also the new season of "Serial," looking into the case of Bowe Bergdahl).

By the way, if the Brooklyn playground sex was consensual and the woman was 18 and one of the boys was 14, hasn't the woman committed second degree rape under New York criminal law? Back to the WaPo article:
[T]he teens told police they had encountered the father and daughter having sex in the park that night. The teenagers then joined in the act. “She said yeah,” a man’s voice can be heard saying on the video, according to the Times. “If you said yeah, it’s lit, like, you know what I mean,” a man then says on the video. “I could tell you a freak.” Confronted by police, the father and daughter reversed course, admitting that there was no gun. The woman admitted that she had consented to the group sex. The father and daughter also both eventually admitted to drinking alcohol and having sex with one another, according to the Times....

“I think [there] is a way, from a policy and social standpoint, to say, ‘Young men should exercise a little bit better judgment in dealing with certain things,’ but what they did didn’t rise to criminality,” attorney Ken Montgomery told the Times. “I would agree, in a sense, that we live in a country and a world where we have a lot of unhealthy ideas of what appropriate sexual relationships are.”
Incredibly sad and debased. I don't know where I would start dealing with a situation that has reached such a low place. It's easy to say the government should back off and do nothing. Maybe Trump has some ideas.
With the focus off the five boys, it shifted to the father and his daughter, who prosecutors have stressed is still a victim, even if she consented to the sex.
Why, exactly, does she get to be the victim?
How she came to have sex with her own father, unleashing a torrid and tragic series of events, is, in part, a story of the failings of the American foster-care system.....

Justice Scalia spent his last days, it seems, in the company of members of a "male-only society" that wears "dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross and the motto 'Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes'" ("Honoring God by honoring His creatures").

WaPo reports on the "exclusive fraternity for hunters called the International Order of St. Hubertus, an Austrian society that dates back to the 1600s":
After Scalia’s death Feb. 13, the names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort, along with details about Scalia’s connection to the hunters, have remained largely unknown. A review of public records shows that some of the men who were with Scalia at the ranch are connected through the International Order of St. Hubertus, whose members gathered at least once before at the same ranch for a celebratory weekend.
Hubert is the patron saint of hunters and fishermen.
“There is nothing I can add to your observation that among my many guests at Cibolo Creek Ranch over the years some members of the International Order of St. Hubertus have been numbered,” [Cibolo Creek Ranch owner John] Poindexter said in an email. “I am aware of no connection between that organization and Justice Scalia.”

February 24, 2016

President Obama posts at SCOTUSblog... to say that appointing a Supreme Court Justice is a "responsibility" he takes "seriously."

He's going to "devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation" to the selection process, you won't be surprised to hear. And he's going to pick someone who is "eminently qualified" and has "an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity."  And, he says, he wants someone who "recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law" and who will "approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand." You may doubt that, but it's absolutely standard boilerplate. It's what the nominees themselves will say at the confirmation hearings. They'll say it so consistently that you'll wonder why we need confirmations hearings. We'll just hear the person say that over and over again.

But there's a bit more, and this tinges into the controversial. In some cases, "a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment." So he's looking for someone who doesn't see law as "abstract legal theory abstract legal theory" or "some footnote in a dusty casebook" or only "an intellectual exercise." There should be "life experience" and an understanding that law "affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times" which is "an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes."

This strikes me as a watered down version of what he said back in May 2009, when he had his first Supreme Court vacancy to fill:
I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives — whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes.
Today's statement doesn't include the key word "empathy." And that casebook with the footnote is now a "dusty casebook." "Essential ingredient" has become "essential element," which — pardon me for free associating — makes me speculate he's not picking a woman this time. 

"A new study suggests that there are around 700 quintillion planets in the universe, but only one like Earth."

"It’s a revelation that’s both beautiful and terrifying at the same time...."

Via Stephen Green, who says he's skeptical.

Scott Adams explains his "Master Persuader" theory... which has Trump winning the presidency in a landslide.

I watched that with Meade, who found him hard to watch because he's so "sweaty." Oddly, "sweaty" is a word Adams uses in this clip, not about himself, but as he lists the distinctive insults Trump has successfully pinned on his opponents (like "low energy" and "that face").

AND: Here's Adams's new post, "How to Spot a Narcissist (Trump Persuasion Series)." It ends:
Narcissism is definitely a thing. But we also need a name for the mental condition in which you believe you are so smart you can diagnose narcissism from a distance.

I won’t call you a narcissist unless you state your opinion in a public comment forum and insult other voters and commenters as if you have no empathy. So don’t do that.

A Malaysian High Court has upheld a government ban on yellow T-shirts with the word "clean."

"Bersih 2.0, which challenged the ban in the High Court, will appeal the ruling, Ms. Abdullah said. 'I don’t know where they got the idea we are a national security threat'...."

"The senator has gone to bed..."

Marco Rubio declined to show his face last night.

Why did Marco Rubio decline to appear on camera after the Nevada caucus?
pollcode.com free polls

"We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated."

"We’re the smartest people, we’re the most loyal people, and you know what I’m happy about? Because I’ve been saying it for a long time. 46% were the Hispanics—46%, number one with Hispanics. I’m really happy about that.... We’re going to keep—as you know Gitmo, we’re keeping that open, and we’re going to load it up with bad dudes. We’re going to load it up with a lot of bad dudes out there. We’re going to have our borders nice and strong. We’re going to build the wall, you know that. We’re going to build the wall. And I have a lot of respect from Mexico and you just heard we won Hispanics. But let me tell you Mexico is going to pay for the wall, right? It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. They know it. I know it. We all know it.... We’re going to be the smart people. We’re not going to be the people that get pushed around all over the place. We’re going to be the smart people. You’re going to be proud of your president, and you’re going to be even prouder of your country, OK?"

Donald Trump, on winning Nevada. Full text. Full video:

I'm adding the "pride" tag. His theme is pride — self esteem. I think the message is: Even if you're poorly educated — especially if you are poorly educated — you are smart, and you are American, and you should feel great. All those other politicians look down on you, and they look down on the country. They insult it. They use the worst insults, like "racist." They'd have you believe that it's racist to say "Make America great again" and to want to preserve the benefits of America for Americans and to increase those selfishly guarded benefits. But it's not something to be ashamed of, it's being smart. And he's very smart, and we — you, with me leading the way — "are going to be the smart people."

February 23, 2016

"A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that State Department officials and top aides to Hillary Clinton should be questioned under oath..."

"... about whether they intentionally thwarted federal open records laws by using or allowing the use of a private email server throughout Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013."
The decision by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Washington came in a lawsuit over public records brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog group, regarding its May 2013 request for information about the employment arrangement of Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide.
Meanwhile, Trump might sound as though he's committing to prosecute Hillary: "You have no choice... In fairness, you have to look into that... She seems to be guilty... But you know what, I wouldn't even say that. But certainly, it has to be looked at... If a Republican wins, if I'm winning, certainly you will look at that as being fair to anyone else. So unfair to the people that have been prosecuted over the years for doing much less than she did. So she's being protected, but if I win, certainly it's something we're going to look at."

I'm seeing that paraphrased at some less-than-careful websites as: As president, I would prosecute Clinton.

"You have no choice" is the strongest statement, but to pin him down, you have to connect it to the question asked, and considering how many times he spoke only in terms of looking into it and being fair — treating her the same as others — I think it's absolutely wrong to view Trump as committing to prosecution... which by the way is something he should not do, precisely for the sake of the fairness about which he was emphatic.

"Senate Leader Mitch McConnell Flatly Rejects Hearing on Any Court Nominee."

That's the headline in the NYT.
“This is his moment,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor, addressing the president. “He has every right to nominate someone. Even if doing so will inevitably plunge our nation into another bitter and avoidable struggle, that is his right. Even if he never expects that nominee to actually be confirmed but rather to wield as an electoral cudgel, that is his right.”
How influential — in this new firmness — was the emergence of the Biden clip from 1992?
Republican maneuvering came as Democrats scrambled to contain any damage from Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s floor speech as a senator in June 1992 urging President George Bush not to make a nomination to the Supreme Court until after that year’s presidential election.... Aides to Mr. Biden also insisted on Tuesday that he had been warning against filling a vacancy created by a voluntary resignation of a justice rather than a vacancy created by an unexpected death. In any event, no such vacancy occurred.
ADDED: Let me answer my own question: very influential. I'm hearing talk of "the Biden rule." That's so terribly handy.

The political scientist's idea that the reason the GOP elite didn't stop Trump is because they bought into the political science that said Trump couldn't win.

An interesting column in WaPo by Dan Drezner that relies heavily on a (somewhat iffy) analogy to the declining success of pitch framing in baseball. It used to work for a catcher to position himself to make a ball look like a strike, but then baseball analysts observed and explained the phenomenon, and the umpires — made aware — stopped letting the catchers fool them into calling strikes.

How does the analogy work? Political scientists correspond to the baseball analysts. The GOP elite corresponds to the umpires. That's a bit off, because in baseball there really is a strike zone and the umpire knows he's supposed to see where it really is, and the positioning of the catcher's mitt is not a proper factor in the decision. The umpires understood that they were doing their job wrong and managed to exclude the distraction.

In the primary, what corresponds to the truth of the strike zone and the need for the umpire not to be influenced by something that shouldn't play a part in his decision-making? In baseball, the strike zone is the position of the ball as it crosses the plate in relation to the batter's body, so I guess the strike zone is the position of the voter's head on election day in relation to a particular candidate.

But the GOP elite is only trying to predict where that head will be, not calling it as it happens, and it is trying to influence the voter's mind by spending money and making various arguments. Drezner's point is that the GOP elite didn't spend enough and attack Trump enough because they were fooled into thinking the voter's mind on election day wouldn't be anywhere near voting for Trump.

Drezner makes some sense, even though the analogy is off. What if the political scientists had done better analysis and shown that Trump in fact had an excellent chance? The GOP elite would, the theory goes, have seen the need to attack Trump with great force. But the GOP elite isn't like the umpire. The umpire can start to see the ball where it really is and start calling balls and strikes correctly. The GOP elite, with better political science analysis, would know it doesn't like where the voter's head is, but it couldn't solve the problem by stating the correct location. Unlike an umpire, it has a preference in the election/game. It wants to change the location of those heads.

I think if the GOP elite had the power to move those heads, we'd be seeing powerfully effective anti-Trump ads by now. Where are they? 

A sentence written at the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 43.7.

Encountered in reading I assigned:
For a century the States had submitted, with murmurs, to the commercial restrictions imposed by the parent State; and now, finding themselves in the unlimited possession of those powers over their own commerce, which they had so long been deprived of, and so earnestly coveted, that selfish principle which, well controlled, is so salutary, and which, unrestricted, is so unjust and tyrannical, guided by inexperience and jealousy, began to show itself in iniquitous laws and impolitic measures, from which grew up a conflict of commercial regulations, destructive to the harmony of the States, and fatal to their commercial interests abroad.
From the famous old case Gibbons v. Ogden (1824).

If the polls don't show John Kasich winning in Ohio...

... and they don't... shouldn't he get out now, while there's a chance to bolster Rubio enough to stop Trump?

Shouldn't Kasich get out now and support Rubio?
pollcode.com free polls

The "time gap" between men and women — the difference in the amount of time spent on unpaid work.

I'm reading a NYT "Gender Gap" article titled "How Society Pays When Women’s Work Is Unpaid."
Men spend more time working for money. Women do the bulk of the unpaid work — cooking, cleaning and child care. This unpaid work is essential for households and societies to function. But it is also valued less than paid work, and when it is women’s responsibility, it prevents them from doing other things.
Now, why, exactly is this a problem? Everything anybody does prevents them from doing other things. What is wrong with a division of labor within the family with one adult concentrating on bringing in money (for the family to use to buy various things for its benefit) and the other adult specializing in the accomplishment of tasks for the direct benefit of the family (avoiding the cost of paying for someone else to do that work)?

The author, Claire Cain Miller, suggests that what's wrong is that people don't value the in-kind contribution made by the nonincome-earner and that women tend to be the ones in that role. Those 2 factors are related. Women may be stuck in a role because it's given low value and a role may be regarded as having less value because it is what women do. That doesn't mean the solution is to transform more single-earner families into 2-earner families and for them to pay outsiders to do more services. It's at least conceivable that a solution would be to encourage a more positive attitude toward household labor and to get beyond the presumption that it's women's work. In some families, the woman can do better going out and getting the income and the man can do better with the household tasks.

But here's the propaganda we're getting:
“This is one of those root inequalities that exist all over in society and we just don’t talk about it very much,” Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Gates Foundation, said in an interview. She said she was inspired by her own observations when traveling to other countries as well as by time-use data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “If we don’t bring it forward, we basically won’t unlock the potential of women.”
The "time-use data" shows women spending a lot more time on unpaid tasks than men. The data is presented to display a startling "time gap," but if men are putting a lot more time into paid work, the problem isn't what it's made out to be. And perhaps more importantly, time isn't necessarily the best measure of work, especially where one of the main unpaid chores is "child care." Much of the time you spend with your children is leisurely and pleasurable — immensely rewarding. If I'm reading a book while a youngster plays with toys nearby, do I get time credit for that?

In fact, one of the best things about home-based unpaid work is that you're not on a time clock, you're not translating every task into a dollar value. When the income-earning spouse contributes some unpaid housework, it might be distorted to look at the time. If much of the wife's work is child care, but the man's work is home repair, it's not an even trade off. If you were making a deal with your spouse and one person was going to look after a child for X hours and the other was going to do yard work and caulk windows and clean the garage for Y hours, a fair deal wouldn't be X = Y.
Cultural change is also important, Ms. Gates said.

She recalled being unhappy about the long commute to her oldest daughter’s preschool. Mr. Gates, then chief executive of Microsoft, said he would drive their daughter two days a week.

“Moms started going home and saying to their husbands, ‘If Bill Gates can drive his daughter, you better darn well drive our daughter or son,’ ” Ms. Gates said. “If you’re going to get behavior change, you have to role-model it publicly.”
Good thing we have Melinda Gates around to see the unfairness in the world and tell us how to fix it. By the way, Bill and Melinda, some people would value the time spent in the car with a daughter. And don't you people have a driver? I'm sure there's some woman home with her kids who could do with a paid job driving your car. Why are you two bickering over a chore you have the money to pay people to do?

Is the NYT just basically reprinting PR from Bill and Melinda Gates? Do we really want their unfiltered advice on how to understand and fix the world's problems?

ADDED: Good lord! There's another Gates PR piece in the NYT today: "Bill Gates’s Clean-Energy Moon Shot."

"So why do some girls post sexualized pictures? Why are they complicit in this potentially very self-­undermining aspect of social­media culture?"

"'I think it’s just to get attention,' explains Lily, a 14-year-old in Garden City, N.Y., where I studied a group of girls for the book. 'It’s to get the likes. Everything’s about the likes.'"

So why does Time Magazine plod at such a mindnumbing low level through serious social issues? Why is it complicit in this potentially very self-­undermining aspect of mainstream media? I guess it's just to get attention....

The author informs us that she spent 2½ years doing research that took her to 10 states and that she talked to "more than 200 girls." So she averaged 1 girl per 4 days of research — 20 girls per state — and arrived at the stunning insight that girls post sexy pictures because it gets attention, which they like?

"Mr. Morales, who is representing himself, told jurors that he was 'not a bigot of any type' and claimed that 'what happened was not an act of intent or hate on my part.'"

"'I am a human being like everyone else,' he said. 'I made my share of mistakes. That doesn’t make me a bad person.'"

One of the mistakes is representing yourself when you are on trial for murder (murder as a hate crime).

Come on! Let's go to Death Valley. It's the biggest wildflower "superbloom" since 2005.

After record rains in October, the bloom started in November and went big in January. We almost took a road trip to Death Valley. It's at the top of my list of places I've been once and want to go back to. If I didn't have classes, we'd be packing up the car and driving right now.


A quick and totally touristy trip to Paris, captured in time and hyper-lapses on a Sony A7s with 3 lenses.

By Tyler Fairbank. Nice work! I love the bright light — in The City of Light — and the frank depiction of tourists, lots and lots of tourists, zipping about, seeing what you've just got to see, Napoleon's tomb, the Mona Lisa and Winged Victory, etc. etc.

IN THE COMMENTS: Wilbur says: "I've seen pictures. Good enough."

I think the point is, if you do go to Paris, DON'T do the touristy trip or you will have that feeling of it being like in the photographs... except a lot of other people will be cluttering the view. You've got to find another path. It's easy enough really. Even just at the Louvre... don't be the cliché who stands in the crowd in front of the Mona Lisa and Winged Victory. Find some more unusual things and follow your heart.

I've been to Paris twice, and I didn't have a camera but a sketchbook, and I was always looking for odd perspectives on the place. I remember drawing this huge vase in some deserted corner of the Louvre. I thought it was absurdly large and so ugly that I wondered at the people of the past who would have thought it sublime. Then it got especially funny because other museumgoers saw me drawing and then started looking at the damned objet as if I'd identified it as something worth paying respect to. I couldn't say, "No, you don't get it." Or however you say that in French... Non, vous ne comprenez pas...

Black Lab in the news.

"The theft of dogs, often to be resold as meat, is a sad reality for people with pets in China. But the theft of one 7-year-old black Labrador in Beijing on Monday has provoked an unusual outcry...."

"Senate consideration of a nominee under these circumstances is not fair to the president, to the nominee, or to the Senate itself."

"Where the nation should be treated to a consideration of constitutional philosophy, all it will get in such circumstances is partisan bickering and political posturing from both parties and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue."

Said Joe Biden in June of the election year 1992, when he was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the President was the Republican George H.S. Bush.

I didn't need that quote to know that it's a partisan power struggle — wrapped up in legal mystification — and if the parties were reversed the Democratic Senators would be saying what the GOP Senators are saying and the Republican President would be saying what the Democratic President is saying.

But I think it can help some people focus on reality... even as I believe that current political interest is a far stronger force than the search for the truth.

ADDED: The NYT front page highlights the Biden remarks as a "potential disaster":

Notice how the Times assumes the reader is on Obama's side on this, as it fails to add "for Obama" or "for Democrats" to "potential disaster." The link goes to a forum titled "Battle for the Supreme Court: Our Insiders’ Guide," and with comments by various NYT reporters. Michael D. Shear says:
For President Obama, it is a potential disaster. He and his Democratic allies had been carefully executing a pressure campaign aimed at shaming Republicans for vowing to block consideration of a nominee to replace Justice Scalia, but the emergence of a 24-year-old video on Monday throws into doubt the effectiveness of that strategy.
Carl Hulse says "Democrats may have taken one on the chin over the old video of Mr. Biden," but once Obama comes out with an actual nominee, the subject will change. That seems like a concession that Democrats have lost on the abstract point that the Senate has a duty not to obstruct.

"But lives can get ruined when there’s a rush to judgment before all the facts come out. Look what happened at UVA, Duke etc."

"Of course any sane person is against rape and sexual assault but everybody who is commenting is doing so without knowledge or facts. They are getting behind an allegation only — motivated by money. I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister."

Said Dr. Luke —  Lukasz Gottwald — the big record producer. (I realize I am familiar with him, because, though I'd forgotten his name, I read the 2013 New Yorker article "The Doctor Is In/A technique for producing No. 1 songs" (2013)).

I'd been ignoring the news story about Kesha trying to get out of her contract, but I happened to read "Dr. Luke, the ‘Beatles of our generation,’ fires back at Kesha" — maybe "Beatles" is a way to get my attention — and I'm realizing for the first time that it's a rape accusation that's the basis of Kesha's effort.

There's also "Taylor Swift donates $250,000 to Kesha to help in lawsuit against allegedly abusive record producer":
Kesha herself also has expressed gratitude for the moral support — from Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson, among many others — she’s gotten for her case against Dr. Luke, a.k.a. Lukasz Gottwald. In a civil suit, she accused the producer, whom she has worked with since she was 17, of drugging and raping her as well as slighting her appearance, contributing to her bulimia; Dr. Luke, meanwhile, has filed a countersuit and denies everything. His lawyer said: “As set forth in the complaint that we have filed on behalf of Dr. Luke, Kesha and her mother are engaged in a campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements about Dr. Luke to third parties, including scurrilous and false statements of purported physical and mental abuse of Kesha. These are allegations that Kesha and [her mother] Pebe have themselves admitted are false.”
The judge sided with Dr. Luke:
On Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich sided with Dr. Luke and Sony at Kesha's hearing, telling the singer's legal team, "You're asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry." Kesha's lawyer Mark Geragos asked for an injunction because, as he told the judge, the career of a pop star is often brief, and Kesha's career could be "irreparably harmed" if she did not return to recording music.

"There has been no showing of irreparable harm. She's being given opportunity to record," Judge Kornreich said in denying the injunction. Kesha will have to record six more albums under Kemosabe Records, Dr. Luke's Sony imprint, according to the New York Daily News.
This is a lot of bad publicity for both of them. I wonder how things got so bad that it all went public. Assuming Kesha is not going to win in a court of law, can the publicity skew so well in her favor that she wins in the court of public opinion? At the moment, Kesha seems to be acquiring a feminist-hero reputation. Lady Gaga wrote: "I am in awe of your bravery." Lorde wrote: "Standing with Kesha through this traumatic, deeply unfair time." Demi Lovato wrote that she was "Ready for self-proclaimed feminists to start speaking out or taking action for women's rights." And:
"Frustrating to see women come forward with their past only to be shot down, not believed and disrespected for their bravery in taking action. Happens way too often. I'm ready for women to be taken just as seriously as men. Someone tell me why anyone would ever feel brave enough to come forward if they are most likely to be ignored or called a liar?"
It's a sad, grisly business, whoever is telling the truth. 

WaPo's Philip Bump opines that it's "as dirty to berate Cruz for playing dirty as was anything that Cruz actually did."

Somehow, per Bump, characterizing your opponent, based on facts that are not misstated, is a dirty trick.

I'd like to see him try to apply that logic to all the candidates. You're a blustery blowhard if you portray Trump as a blustery blowhard. Etc. etc.

Is this the old takes-one-to-know-one/he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it rhetoric we all learned in childhood?

February 22, 2016

"Robert B. Reichhhh Produces the Best Campaign Ad Ted Cruz Could Wish For."

Says Rush Limbaugh, about this:

I'm thinking: a great ad for Cruz for people who are already for Cruz. But it's a great ad for Trump.

Cruz fires his chief spokesman who put up a video lying about something Marco Rubio said about the Bible.

"Rick Tyler, a longtime Republican operative and communications director to the Cruz campaign, shared on social media a video this week that... showed Mr. Rubio walking through a hotel lobby and stopping briefly to talk to a Cruz campaign staffer who was reading the Bible. The story Mr. Tyler shared had subtitles showing Mr. Rubio saying 'Got a good book there, not many answers in it.' In fact, Mr. Rubio actually said, 'Got a good book there, all the answers are in there.'"

Okay, you fired him. Good. But I just don't get the Cruz brand. Isn't it supposed to be: principled and not pragmatic?

By the way, the revised quote isn't very inspiring, though it's okay small talk. Imagine a President who actually thought all the answers can be found in the Bible.

Are Georgetown lawprofs Randy Barnett and Nick Rosenkranz "flipping a lefty campus-activist trope on its head"?

So says Jesse Singal at  New York Magazine about the email they sent after their colleague Gary Peller saw fit to send out an email setting himself apart from the law school's email that said the law school was mourning Justice Scalia. Peller wrote that Scalia didn't deserve to be "lionized or emulated" because he "bullied lawyers, trafficked in personal humiliation of advocates and openly sided with the party of intolerance in the ‘culture wars’ he often invoked." Barnett and Rosenkranz then wrote that they were upset at Peller's email, heard from from conservative students about "how traumatized, hurt, shaken and angry" they were, and said:
All we can do, really, is convey our solidarity with our wonderful students. We share your pain. We share your anger. We stand with you. You are not alone. Be strong as Justice Scalia was strong. Remember, he heard far worse about himself than we have, and yet never wavered in both his convictions and his joy for life. But make no mistake: civil discourse at Georgetown has suffered a grievous blow. It is a time for mourning indeed.
Singal's takes the position that Barnett and Rosenkranz "are adopting campus lefty-speak in the service of a conservative argument."
After all, while some of the concerns about “trigger warnings” and fragile college students are overstated, it’s undeniably true that within a segment of the campus left, a particularly high-strung idea about dissenting views has taken hold: namely, that dissenting views on hot-button issues... actually do psychological harm to students who are exposed to them.... Barnett and Rosenkranz seem to be trying to tap into this idea with their encouragement of students to stay strong in the face of “pain” and “anger” and “traumatization” at … one professor’s email. 
Singal finds it "interesting" that Barnett and Rosenkranz didn't restrict themselves to "'traditionally' conservative argument," like respect for the dead and veneration of the Court. They deployed the kind of arguments that that lefties normally use against conservatives — empathy about emotional damage to fragile young students.

I don't know whether Barnett and Rosenkranz thought about appropriating a left-wing approach. On the text that I'm seeing, they were responding to students, and it was the students who made it about their hurt feelings. Taking it from there, Barnett and Rosenkranz didn't go far into left-speak. They mostly said: Be strong. It would have been funny if they'd gone all out "flipping a lefty campus-activist trope on its head," but humor wouldn't have fit the occasion of the Justice's death, so we don't get to see the extent to which they may have seen that potential.

"He was our man for all seasons, and we shall miss him beyond measure."

Said Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., as the Supreme Court returned to the bench this morning, for the first time after the death Antonin Scalia.

ADDED: I wondered if Justice Scalia had ever quoted the play "A Man for All Season" in an opinion. I think the answer is no, but he joined a dissenting opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts, in Armour v. City of Indianapolis, 132 S. Ct. 2073 (2012):
Indiana law requires that the costs of sewer projects be “apportioned equally among all abutting lands.” Ind. Code §36-9-39-15(b)(3). The City has instead apportioned the costs of the Brisbane/Manning project such that petitioners paid between 10 and 30 times as much as their neighbors. Worse still, it has done so in order to avoid administrative hassle and save a bit of money. To paraphrase A Man for All Seasons: “It profits a city nothing to give up treating its citizens equally for the whole world . . . but for $300,000?” See R. Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, act II, p. 158 (1st Vintage Int'l ed. 1990).
The quote de-paraphrased: "It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales, Richard?" And to get back to Jesus: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

I also found a Stevens dissent — that Justice Scalia did not join — with what I think is a more familiar "Man for All Seasons" quote, in Nat'l Ass'n of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife (2007)(quoting an earlier case in which Chief Justice Burger used the quote):
At the risk of plagiarizing Chief Justice Burger's fine opinion, I think it is appropriate to end my opinion just as he did--with a quotation attributed to Sir Thomas More that has as much relevance today as it did three decades ago....
"The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal, not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal.... I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain-sailing, I can't navigate, I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh there I'm a forester. . . . What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you--where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?... This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast--Man's laws, not God's--and if you cut them down... d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?... Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake." R. Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, Act I, p 147 (Three Plays, Heinemann ed. 1967) (quoted in Hill, 437 U.S., at 195, 98 S. Ct. 2279, 57 L. Ed. 2d 117).

"There is a veritable truckload of bullshit in science."

"When I say bullshit, I mean arguments, data, publications, or even the official policies of scientific organizations that give every impression of being perfectly reasonable — of being well-supported by the highest quality of evidence, and so forth — but which don’t hold up when you scrutinize the details. Bullshit has the veneer of truth-like plausibility. It looks good. It sounds right. But when you get right down to it, it stinks. There are many ways to produce scientific bullshit. One way is to assert that something has been 'proven,' 'shown,' or 'found' and then cite, in support of this assertion, a study that has actually been heavily critiqued (fairly and in good faith, let us say, although that is not always the case, as we soon shall see) without acknowledging any of the published criticisms of the study or otherwise grappling with its inherent limitations. Another way is to refer to evidence as being of 'high quality' simply because it comes from an in-principle relatively strong study design... But there is one example I have only recently come across, and of which I have not yet seen any serious discussion. I am referring to a certain sustained, long-term publication strategy, apparently deliberately carried out... that results in a stupefying, and in my view dangerous, paper-pile of scientific bullshit.... it is the hyper-partisan and polarized, but by all outward appearances, dispassionate and objective, 'systematic review' of a controversial subject...."

From "The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit" (recommended by the venerable Arts & Letters Daily). The "unbearable asymmetry" is between producing bullshit and refuting bullshit.

"We live as if school doesn’t exist. People are really brainwashed into seeing things in school form..."

"... with life breaking down into subjects. This life is about freedom and not having limits. It’s about really trusting your kids. And it’s amazing what they do."

From "Free-range education: Why the unschooling movement is growing/A once-utopian idea – allowing kids to ‘discover’ their own education path while learning at home – goes mainstream" (in The Christian Science Monitor).

The woman quoted above is interviewed by Jeff Probst in video at the link. [ADDED: I watched it and found her robotic and annoying. A 16-year-old boy would know how to look up the answer to the question "What's 8 times 8?"?!]

2/22 is Cat Day in Japan.

"Known as 'Neko no Hi', it was chosen because the date's numerals, 2/22 (ni ni ni), are pronounced fairly closely to the sound a cat makes in Japan (nyan nyan nyan)."

I don't even know who you are anymore.

"Evangelicals" — who are they supposed to be? Is it an elite-media umbrella term, used to refer to predictions of group behavior that doesn't happen?

These are questions that occurred to me as I looked through the articles analyzing what just happened in South Carolina.
Exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks show it was Trump's surprisingly strong performance among self-described evangelical conservatives in South Carolina that helped him notch another double-digit victory and sweep all 50 delegates. It was a grave blow to Ted Cruz, who invested heavily in his pursuit of religious conservatives here only to finish a narrow third behind Marco Rubio.
That's from one of the 22 NYT articles that used the term "evangelical" in the last 4 days. I observe that voters only "self-described" as "evangelical" because it was one of the options framed by the pollsters.

Maureen Dowd has the word in her column ("Escape From Bushworld"):

"If you have a spare moment, it's always fun to tweet out humiliatingly wrong pro-takes from hapless @Politico."

The article Mickey links to is dated July 25, 2015 — "Insiders: Trump has peaked/The majority of Republican insiders say The Donald has hit his ceiling, while gleeful Democrats say he’s not going anywhere," by Katie Glueck.
“The McCain smear and giving out Graham’s cellphone? What an asshole,” vented a New Hampshire Republican, who says Trump has peaked. “Trumpism does not represent some deeper sentiment within the party, nor has he tapped into something a more conventional candidate can now co-opt. His candidacy has as much substance and meaning as cotton candy. I didn’t like him before. Now I loathe him.”