May 21, 2016

At the Red Tree Café...


... talk about whatever you want.

"[I]n addition to being a ratings and financial failure, Megyn Kelly’s interview with Donald Trump..."

"... has resulted in her losing most of the leverage she had in her upcoming contract negotiations."
In fact, her boss Roger Ailes was apparently so tickled by the fact that he would not have to pay her a reported $25 million to remain at Fox News that he was heard “snickering” in a Thursday meeting when the special was mentioned.
Did Donald Trump make that happen or did he just sit back coolly and let it happen or — if such a thing is possible — is this not even about Donald Trump?

"Sean Penn lost the audience for his newest directorial effort, The Last Face, less than a minute into its debut press screening this morning at Cannes."

"As the opening title cards, laid over an educational map of Africa, prepared us for action set during the second Liberian Civil War in 2003, a second set of title cards in a more lyrical italicized font flashed onscreen, comparing that crisis with the vicious tribal rebellion in South Sudan a decade later, and that conflict to 'the brutality of impossible love shared by a man' — fade to black, wait for it — '… and a woman.' There was a millisecond pause for shock before much of the audience burst out laughing."

From "Derided Sean Penn Cannes Movie Followed By Tense Press Conference With Charlize Theron" by Jada Yuan in New York Magazine.

"I’m blind, so my nose tells me what neighborhood I’m in."

"My dog and I – we walk. We’ll walk from 125th down to Houston. The smell of Harlem is definitely different now. It’s more open. There’s a new class of people. The whole thing feels like someplace else.... I’ve been living in the city all my life. When Times Square was, you know, the dump, the symbol of the underworld – when you got off the bus at Port Authority, it smelled like sex – I used to say: this is what tourists have to come in to? Nasty. Sex, groin, hair and underarm. You name it. That’s what it smelled like. Pee. Everything. I mean that’s how bad Times Square was. It was horrible."

"Frank Senior, a lifelong New Yorker, recognizes changing neighborhoods by their smells."

"The Death Café is a global movement in which strangers gather over tea and cake – or, in this case, tea and couscous – to discuss death."

"It’s not a support group; the point is simply to encourage more frank conversation."

"I uncrease the bill, tenderly as you may imagine, it just having come from between the two smoothest scoops of vanilla I had ever known were there..."

"... and pass a half and a penny into her narrow pink palm, and nestle the herrings in a bag and twist its neck and hand it over, all the time thinking."

A sentence from the John Updike story "A&P," which Meade made me look up after I observed that I had a theme going on the blog this morning.

"She's not equipped to be President — in so many different ways."

Said Donald Trump, evoking — right? — among other things, genitalia.

Here's the NYT article on that speech to the NRA: "Donald Trump Tells N.R.A. Hillary Clinton Wants to Let Violent Criminals Go Free." The headline focuses on one of a few issues highlighted in the article:
Donald J. Trump accused Hillary Clinton on Friday of wanting to let violent criminals out of prison and “disarm” law-abiding citizens in unsafe neighborhoods, and warned that women, in particular, would be at greater risk if she were elected president. ... [Trump] said the November election would be a referendum on the Second Amendment....
The Times conspicuously rankles at Trump's daring to believe he can appeal to women, especially with a pro-gun message (though the NRA has made women-specific appeals for a long time):
Mr. Trump, whose record of sexist remarks, among other things, has left him at a potentially crippling disadvantage among female voters, polls show, appealed directly to women in his speech, imbuing his defense of gun rights with an undercurrent of fear.

“In trying to overturn the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton is telling everyone — and every woman living in a dangerous community — that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself,” Mr. Trump said. “So you have a woman living in a community, a rough community, a bad community — sorry, you can’t defend yourself.”
But why does the headline zero in on Hillary's supposed plan to let violent criminals go free? You can see it here — racial politics:
If Mr. Trump’s comments seemed reminiscent of an era when crime rates were far higher — the Willie Horton ads attacking Michael S. Dukakis, the Democratic nominee, in the 1988 presidential race came to mind — they also appeared somewhat at odds with the broad bipartisan consensus on the need to reduce incarceration rates and prison populations: Mr. Trump sought to frighten voters about the idea of criminals being released from prison....
How irritating that Trump is trying "to frighten voters," just as Hillary is working the other side of the criminal law enforcement issue:
[O]n Saturday, Mrs. Clinton will speak at a dinner of the Trayvon Martin Foundation’s “Circle of Mothers” in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a group offering support to women who have lost a child to gun violence. And she is expected to press the issue to win over voters in Los Angeles, Oakland and other California cities before that state’s primary on June 7.
She's offering support to a group that offers support so that this other group  — those "voters in Los Angeles, Oakland and other California cities" — will offer her support as she continues her quest to defeat the gruff-voiced old socialist who isn't even really trying to win.

It's a hard life for a woman trying her darndest to be the most powerful person in the world — with the help of the most powerful newspaper in the world.

ADDED: "Circle of Mothers"! I was just talking about Hillary, mothers, and circles 2 posts down (in the context of the nonVenn diagrams: "Maybe they're just circles to be pretty. Circles are nice. So round! Here, they enclose words, words and numbers. Numbers can be hard, so soften them with round shapes, round shapes and soft colors, like the colors Mother used to decorate your nursery, Mother, who didn't trouble you too much with numbers but who comforted you with her round, round shapes.").

The terrace is open....


... get out there.


You can tell them that lady who always gets the mocha macchiato told you to get the mocha macchiato. I'm talking about Babcock ice cream on the Union Terrace, which has finally reopened after some nice resurfacings of a place that still looks like the place you know and love.

It depends on what the meaning of "Venn diagram" is...

Just because 2 overlapping circles are used in a graphic doesn't mean it's a Venn Diagram.

I mean, it's a terrible graphic and looking at it makes my head hurt, but let's step back from the brink of Hillary Derangement Syndrome. She did not call it a Venn Diagram.

I think the freakout is a little unseemly. Vox, for example:
But this is simply not how Venn diagrams work. The circles are completely wrong. They should, for one, overlap entirely, since the gun owners referenced in this are all Americans. And the circle for Americans should be much, much bigger than the circle for gun owners, since gun owners make up just one segment of the US population. (That is, unless, the Clinton campaign is literally saying that a lot of gun owners are un-American, which is a very, very hot take for a risk-averse campaign.)
Maybe they're just circles to be pretty. Circles are nice. So round! Here, they enclose words, words and numbers. Numbers can be hard, so soften them with round shapes, round shapes and soft colors, like the colors Mother used to decorate your nursery, Mother, who didn't trouble you too much with numbers but who comforted you with her round, round shapes.

How sexist the critics of Hillary's circles are — so eager to jump to the conclusion that she's not good with the graphic depiction of numerical data and doesn't know what a Venn diagram is. To laugh at a woman this way is deliberately to tap into the sexism that lies within the heart of the American voter. All the more reason to embrace the first woman President, to fall into the loving arms of a soothing presence who does not demand analytical precision as we look at the pretty shapes.

May 20, 2016

Ludicrous headline at The Hill: "Clinton fury with Sanders grows."

"Fury against Bernie Sanders is growing in Clinton World."

What kind of news is that? Clinton and her people don't like that Bernie Sanders won't just leave.
“This is the worst-case scenario and the one people feared the most,” said one Clinton ally and former Clinton aide.  “Unfortunately, he’s choosing the path of burning down the house.... He continues with character attacks against Hillary. He continues with calling the Democratic Party corrupt, and he not only risks damaging Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party but he's currently doing it." 
It seems to me that running material like this as if it were news of some kind is just embarrassing evidence that the media really, really want to help Hillary.

Beyond that, it makes Hillary seem so ineffectual, like she's stamping her foot and fuming you make me so, so angry.

Buzzfeed calls attention to Trump discussing — with Howard Stern — the possibility of a Blacks vs. Whites season of "The Apprentice."

This happened back in 2005, and I don't know if Buzzfeed thinks this is something outrageous that ought to count against Trump, but the facts are: 1. It wasn't Trump's idea, 2. Trump considered it and expressed his idea in a very positive way ("And it would be nine blacks against nine whites, all highly educated, very smart, strong, beautiful. Do you like it? Do you like it, Robin?"), and 3. The very next year, 2006, "Survivor" filmed a season with racially divided teams:
During [the Cook Islands] season of Survivor, the contestants were divided into four tribes by ethnicity; African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and White American, a decision that generated some controversy prior to the premiere....  Possibly in response to the criticism, Jeff asked the contestants on the reunion show how they felt about the racial divide, and they said that it helped to disprove the stereotypes about them....
I blogged about the first episode here:
I haven't watched "Survivor" since the first season... [b]ut I was intrigued by the daring decision to divide the contestants into race-based teams. How would that work? In some ways, race is neutralized, because teammates voting against each other have only those of their own race to turn against. On the other hand, the team members had the burden of knowing that millions of people would be watching them and thinking about their entire race.

It was interesting the way the Hispanic team seemed to pull together right away and simply feel advantaged. The black team felt team spirit and actually stopped to do a cheer about how they were all black, but they didn't really pull together. Nathan interviewed that black people don't like to be told what to do, and two of the women got very close quickly, leaving the third woman feeling like an outsider. The Asian team took account of how they really weren't a uniform group. They were from different parts of Asia, and that mattered. The Vietnamese immigrant, Cao Boi, called attention to his outsider status: He really belongs with hippies. In the funniest scene, he cures another guy of a headache by pulling the "bad wind" out of his face and leaving a red mark....

At the Green Edge Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


Photographs taken at Centennial Gardens today, moments before I was stung by a huge bee.

"40 Percent of the Buildings in Manhattan Could Not Be Built Today..."

"Because They Are Too Tall... Or They Have Too Many Apartments... Or Too Many Businesses... But They Made New York Great. (Sometimes.)"
Nearly three-quarters of the existing square footage in Manhattan was built between the 1900s and 1930s, according to an analysis done by KPF, an architecture firm based in New York. In a way, the zoning code helps to preserve such architectural diversity. The laws have gotten more restrictive over time, giving an edge to properties built in earlier eras.

"When I packed my suitcase, it was as if I were doing the bidding of the money I’d paid."

Writes Jonathan Franzen, describing his feeling as he got ready for a cruise to Antarctica on a luxury ship that he'd chosen to make his girlfriend — who wasn't going after all — comfortable.

I love the whole story — in The New Yorker — but that sentence jumped out at me as the one to blog because it so quickly and precisely expresses a classic anti-travel feeling. And it goes beyond travel. Perhaps it would help in many situations as you are about to spend money to buy an experience — "Buy Experiences, Not Things" — to contemplate whether that experience, as it approaches, is going to feel as if you are doing the bidding of the money you paid.

"Summer of Love/The People, The Places, The Parties."

Via Tom and Lorenzo, where a commenter says "Was the cover photo inspired by the Gossamer?"

ADDED: It made me think of this old picture of Julie London:

That's from this album cover, which had a big effect on me when I was a child. I still have it. It's one of the records from my father I've told you about.

Let's talk about this illustration of Trump that Rolling Stone used for "R.I.P., GOP: How Trump Is Killing the Republican Party."

Here's the article, by Matt Taibbi, which has the subtitle "Donald Trump crushed 16 GOP opponents in one of the most appalling, vicious campaigns in history. His next victim? The entire Republican Party." I don't really feel I need to read that. I clicked over there because I saw the illustration, in cropped form, over at Facebook, and I wondered what the hell it was supposed to be. You have to scroll down for the illustration, which is very nicely drawn by Victor Juhasz. Rolling Stone just plopped some video at the top of the page, but I've got to say that I love where the freeze frame just happens to be on my browser:

Speaking of DEATH!!! Hell, man. The party of Reagan is like a big, gooey sandwich, sliced down the middle by Donald Trump and sadistically eased apart by his famously tiny hands so that the gloppy cheese that is the establishment stretches with agonizing stringiness and the delectable ham remains securely ensconced within the thick slabs of the well-toasted bread of the people.

Now, step away from the sandwich — you've had enough, Miss Piggy — and feast your eyes on the fine Juhasz drawing of Trump as the Grim Reaper. The reference is to the chess game with death in the Ingmar Bergman movie "The Seventh Seal":

From the above-linked Wikipedia summary of the Bergman movie:
Disillusioned knight Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) and his nihilistic squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) return after fighting in the Crusades and find Sweden being ravaged by the plague. On the beach immediately after their arrival, the knight encounters Death (Bengt Ekerot), personified as a pale, black-cowled figure resembling a monk. The knight, in the middle of a chess game he has been playing alone, challenges Death to a chess match, believing that he can forestall his demise as long as the game continues. Death agrees, and they start a new game.
So the GOP invited Trump to play the game.
The knight and squire enter a church...  The knight goes to the confessional where he is joined by Death in the robe of a priest.... Upon revealing the chess strategy that will save his life, the knight discovers that the priest is Death, who promises to remember the tactics....
Trump learned how the GOP was playing the game.
After hearing Death state "No one escapes me" the knight knocks the chess pieces over, distracting Death while the family slips away. 
Death places the pieces back on the board, then wins the game on the next move. 
He announces that when they meet again, the knight's time—and that of all those traveling with him—will be up....
Convention time. Here's the GOP on its way to Cleveland...

They go further away, away from the sunrise, in their stately dance to the dark country beyond the horizon while the rain gently washes their faces and cleanses the tears from their cheeks....

The problem of winning the Miss Universe pageant and then gaining a lot of weight.

What was Donald Trump supposed to do about that? He owned the business, and she had claimed — and beat out other women for — the job of acting as if she's the most beautiful woman in the universe, and then she radically changed her appearance.
In an interview with Jim Moret that will air Thursday on Inside Edition, Alicia Machado said that months after winning the Miss Universe contest in 1996 as a 19-year-old Miss Venezuela, the billionaire ordered her to lose weight.

Trump publicly called Machado an “eating machine” in an interview with Howard Stern and, according the Times report, invited nearly 100 media outlets to watch her exercise in a gym.

“She weighed 118 pounds or 117 pounds and she went to 160 or 170. So this is somebody that likes to eat,” Trump said then....
“He called me Miss Piggy,” Machado tells Inside Edition. “I was very depressed in that moment.”
Wasn't she obligated to control her weight according to the terms of employment? If you can't do the job, don't apply for it. No one has to enter a beauty pageant. I think it's a foolish business, but if you participate in foolishness, you owe something to those who gave you that platform. It takes some psychological grit. If you're sensitive about what people say about how you look, what are you doing there?

This is another example of anti-Trump media purporting to champion women but in fact treating them as if they are weak, fragile, not responsible for their own choices, and in need of protection. It seems to me that Trump was treating her the way he'd treat a man — holding her to her obligations and razzing her for her foibles. 

"If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem."

Said Tom Cotton:
"Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed," Cotton said during a speech at The Hudson Institute, according to his prepared remarks. "Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem."
My first thought: He wants the Trump VP nomination. That's just offered as a glimpse of my mind, not Tom Cotton's.

ADDED: When he talks about "the vast majority of crimes" for which no one goes to prison, does that include the 3 felonies we all commit every day?

Reference: "You Commit Three Felonies a Day/Laws have become too vague and the concept of intent has disappeared."
Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate calls his new book "Three Felonies a Day," referring to the number of crimes he estimates the average American now unwittingly commits because of vague laws. New technology adds its own complexity, making innocent activity potentially criminal.

Mr. Silverglate describes several cases in which prosecutors didn't understand or didn't want to understand technology. This problem is compounded by a trend that has accelerated since the 1980s for prosecutors to abandon the principle that there can't be a crime without criminal intent....

"Cherish some flower, be it ever so lowly/Labor! All labor is noble and holy!"

From the recipe for macaroni pie — which contains "wild duck, birds, or squirrels" — in "Mrs. Elliott's Housewife: Containing Practical Receipts in Cookery" from 1870:

I traced the poem fragment to "Labor" by Frances Sargent Osgood. Osgood (1811-1850) was pals with Edgar Allan Poe:
Oddly, Poe's wife Virginia approved of the relationship and often invited Osgood to visit their home. Virginia believed their friendship had a "restraining" effect on her husband. Poe had given up alcohol to impress Osgood, for example. Virginia may also have been aware of her own impending death and was looking for someone who would take care of Poe. Osgood's husband Samuel also did not object, apparently used to his wife's impetuous behavior; he himself had a reputation as a philanderer. 

10 reasons why there can't be a Prince bio pic... ... and there shouldn't be.

From BET, including:
Ninety-five percent of the time, Prince was not here for it. Shall we direct your attention to the "We Are the World" moment where Prince was sucking on a lollipop completely uninvolved?

I don't know why that makes him unfilmable as opposed to worth figuring out. (We are the children?) Isn't it like "Citizen Kane"? Make it a Prince-like character, in his weird palace, with childlike attributes — like a favorite color — and a more intense work ethic than anyone we know — but most of the work product was put in a vault. Open the vault and pan over the mystery:

May 19, 2016

Clinton surrogate Ed Rendell said: "There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women. People take that stuff personally."

The ex-governor and former DNC chairman was trying to explain why more women will vote for Clinton than for Trump. Later the same day he called his own comment "incredibly stupid and insensitive"... which is kind of a gaffe in itself, no? He's not saying it's untrue, just the kind of truth you shouldn't say. It's a Kinsley gaffe, right?

I found that via Scott Adams, who's "Evaluating the Political Chess Board" today and observed:
Clinton surrogate Ed Rendel [sic] said something that was probably harmless in person, and in the proper context, but taken out of context by outragists it sounded like he was saying Clinton supporters are mostly ugly women. That didn’t help.
Ha. I like the word "outragists." Nice coinage from Adams.

Anyway... this story reminded me of something I said 3 days ago after the NYT published its rather bad exposé "Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private" — you know, the one where they interviewed 50+ women and came up with basically nothing but pumped it up embarrassingly? I was trying to imagine how the NYT would defend itself after its prime informant, Rowanne Brewer Lane, said the Times distorted her story, making it seem as though Trump had demeaned her when in fact she felt flattered. I said:
I can imagine the NYT defending itself by saying that often young women do not understand the way they are being manipulated and exploited. Within that explanation, to say "I was actually flattered" is to reveal your naivete. That's how the manipulation works. He got her into a bathing suit and then, presenting her to the crowd, said "That is a stunning Trump girl, isn’t it?" How was she a "Trump girl"? Ah, but it felt flattering. Even now, she feels the relationship was very nice, very rewarding, but she doesn't know the import of her own words, the NYT will (I suspect) say. It will say, I predict, that her story was not distorted at all. The facts are all true. They are just viewed from a more sophisticated perspective.

Now, there's a big problem with that explanation. It's saying the woman doesn't understand the meaning of her own experience. That feels like a putdown — a putdown and a stereotype: Women are simpleminded and can be bought off with pretty clothes and flattery. There's a way to say that without provoking the ire of the great masses of women who matter when it comes to an election: Only the young and very pretty women are segmented off and treated so well they only have good feelings about it, and only they are being put down.
See how that connects back to Ed Rendell? The young and very pretty women who hope to be segmented off and treated well by rich/powerful men may — in Rendell's view — gravitate toward Trump because they think they have the kind of power that works within a Trump regime, but most women see themselves as losers in a competition like that and they're going to look to Hillary to save them from the depredations of the patriarchy. But poor Ed! He didn't know how to talk about that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, here's Camille Paglia enthusing about the power of the beauty of Rowanne Brewer Lane:
Small and blurry in the print edition, the Brewer-Trump photo in online digital format positively pops with you-are-there luminosity. Her midnight-blue evening dress opulently cradling her bare shoulders, Rowanne is all flowing, glossy hair, ample, cascading bosom, and radiant, lushly crimson Rita Hayworth smile. The hovering Trump, bedecked with the phallic tongue of a violet Celtic floral tie, is in Viking mode, looking like a triumphant dragon on the thrusting prow of a long boat. “To the victor belong the spoils!” I said to myself in admiration, as seductive images from Babylon to Paris flashed through my mind. Yes, here is all the sizzling glory of hormonal sex differentiation, which the grim commissars of campus gender studies will never wipe out!
I'm making a tag for Ed Rendell and going back and adding it to old posts, like this one from December 2008: "'Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family, perfect.' What Gov. Ed Rendell said about Gov. Janet Napolitano."

I wondered why Megyn Kelly didn't probe into what Trump saw in "Citizen Kane" and "All Quiet on the Western Front."

She asked what was his favorite movie and his favorite book and never stopped to ask why. I wanted to know more. A reader sent me this, footage from an Errol Morris project that became a short at the 2002 Oscars. Various celebrities talked about film. Trump's material didn't make the final cut, but he talks quite a bit about "Citizen Kane":

He says a rich man can be unhappy — even more unhappy than his wife — because wealth can distance you and insulate you from other people. He also says the right word matters — that "Kane" wouldn't be the same without that word "rosebud." He does not take what I hear as a prod to talk about the oft-discussed sexual connotation of "rosebud."

Here's a 2002 New Yorker article about the Errol Morris project, with this about Trump:

"And rape."

From Trump's interview with Sean Hannity:
"In one case, it's about exposure. In another case, it's about groping and fondling and touching against a woman's will," Hannity said.
"And rape," Trump responded.
I don't know why Hannity said one case is about exposure and another is about "groping and fondling and touching against a woman's will." The "exposure" case is clearly Paula Jones, and — as noted in the previous 2 posts — the Paula Jones testimony has Bill Clinton groping and kissing her against her will.  (By Jones's report, before he exposed himself and asked "Would you kiss it for me?," Clinton "pulled" her, ran his hands up her clothing to her "middle pelvic area," kissed her on the neck, and tried to kiss her on the lips.)

The Clinton campaign response was to reflect the blame back on Trump:
... Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said Trump was "doing what he does best, attacking when he feels wounded and dragging the American people through the mud for his own gain. If that’s the kind of campaign he wants to run that’s his choice."
So those who want to bring up rape and sexual assault are to be disparaged for taking us to a low place? That can't be right as a general principle.

"Did Clinton laugh about a rapist’s light sentence and attack sexual harassment victims?"

The WaPo fact checker, Glenn Kessler addresses 2 statements in a recent National Republican Senatorial Committee ad:

1. Hillary Clinton "[d]efended an accused child rapist, then laughed about his lenient sentence."

The laughter in question comes from an audio recording — which you can listen to, as I did, here — so the fact-checking is easy to do. Clinton indeed laughs 4 times during her recounting of the story of defending an accused child rapist, and none of the 4 instances comes at the point when she refers to the light sentence. But the NRSC says it relied on an ABC News report that said: "Clinton is heard laughing as she describes how she succeeded at getting her client a lighter sentence, despite suggesting she knew he was guilty."

Kessler says: "The laughter on the tape is open to interpretation; certainly some might find it disturbingly lighthearted. But it’s a stretch to say she laughed about the sentence." That's a fair and sober conclusion in my view.

2. "She politically attacked sexual harassment victims."

The NRSC says it based that on the interview Hillary gave in 1998 about the Paula Jones case. By chance, I just quoted Paula Jones's deposition in the previous post, so I'm a bit taken aback to read Kesslers statement that Bill Clinton merely "propositioned her and exposed himself." (By Jones's report, Clinton "pulled" her over to him, ran his hands up her cullottes to her "middle pelvic area," kissed her on the neck, tried to kiss her on the lips as she protested, and then "pulled his pants down" and asked "Would you kiss it for me?")

In the interview, Hillary blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband." That's not attacking the alleged victims. You have to look for other material about Hillary, and Kessler doesn't look very far before awarding 3 Pinocchios. (He only looks to Hillary's own memoir!) The NRSC should have presented better information here. They made it easy for Kessler to dismiss them, but I'm not impressed by Kessler's awarding the Pinocchios based on the NRSC's failure to hand him better information. The NRSC needs to respond immediately.

Why does NYT columnist Gail Collins call Bill Clinton's sexual misdeeds "private peccadilloes"?

This is from her new column, which argues that Hillary Clinton should not give Bill Clinton a major role in her campaign:
The sex scandal issue isn’t really central, since Americans have a long record of voting for the candidates they think can deliver, regardless of private peccadilloes. And Donald Trump has a history of boorish public behavior that could even overshadow the marital baggage Hillary has to tote. However, she’d be in a much stronger position if she was toting on her own.
The private/public distinction there is pretty subtle, but you see the argument. What Trump has done to women — e.g., referring metaphorically to Megyn Kelly's blood, calling Rosie O'Donnell fat — happened in public, but Bill Clinton's woman problems arose out of incidents in which the women was sequestered in a hotel room or the Oval Office. I don't think the private/public distinction cuts in favor of the man who physically imposed himself on vulnerable women in private and against the man who used crass language against powerful female celebrities as part of the public debate.

The phrase "the personal is political" means something important in the fight for women's equality. No one who cares about that fight should call the accusations against Bill Clinton "private peccadilloes." A "peccadillo" is: "A minor fault or sin; a trivial offence." That's the OED definition. Here's one of the illustrative quotes: "What the boy does almost proudly, as a manly peccadillo, the girl will shudder at as a debasing vice." Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque.

From the testimony of Paula Jones:
You know what? This is the Governor we're talking about. I had just met the man. A state trooper sitting outside the door with a gun. I know that. I'm terrified. And so what I'm thinking next is what was happening here and what am I going to do next to get out of this room? Is he going to stop here?... And I was talking to him about Hillary and she was working with children's things or something, children's schools at the time, and I remember I was complimenting her on how she was really good with children. And... he came over by the wingback chair close to where I was at. Then it's like he wasn't even paying attention to what I was saying to him. Then he goes, "Oh, I love the way your hair flows down your back. And I was watching you," and stuff like that. Downstairs. And then he did it again. Then he started -- he pulled me over to him while he was leaning up against the wingback chair and he took his hands and was running them up my culottes. And they were long. They were down to my knees. They were long, dressy culottes. And he had his hand up, going up to my middle pelvic area, and he was kissing me on the neck, you know, and trying to kiss me on the lips and I wouldn't let him. And then I backed back. I said, "Stop it. You know, I'm not this kind of girl." I mean. And it still -- and then I ran right over to where the couch was. I thought what am I going to do? I was trying to collect my thoughts. I did not know what to do. I was trying to collect my thoughts. I did not know what to do. After the second time -- after the first time, I had rebuffed him. And then when I got over there and I kind of sat right there by the end of the couch on the -- seemed like on the armchair part. And the next thing you know it, I turn around because he was kind of back over here, and he come over there, pulled his pants down, sat down and asked me to perform oral sex.... He asked me would I kiss it. He goes -- you know, I can see the look on his face right now. He asked me, "Would you kiss it for me?" I mean, it was disgusting.
As Jones was leaving, Clinton said, according to Jones, "You're a smart girl. Let's keep this between ourselves." But she brought a lawsuit, a lawsuit that involved Bill Clinton in lying under oath and that Bill Clinton paid $850,000 to settle.

Private peccadillo. Really, Gail Collins, what do you think the young women of today — women who know sexual harassment and sexual assault are extremely serious — are going to think of your using that word peccadillo?

ADDED: Deja vu. Here I am last January, confronting Glenn Loury about the very same application of the word "peccadillo":

May 18, 2016

Trump releases a list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

The NYT reports:
According to a list released by the campaign, Mr. Trump’s potential nominees include several federal judges: Steven M. Colloton of Iowa; Raymond W. Gruender of Missouri; Thomas M. Hardiman of Pennsylvania; William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin; and Raymond M. Kethledge of Michigan; and several state Supreme Court justices: Allison H. Eid of Colorado; Joan Larsen of Michigan; Thomas Lee of Utah; David Stras of Minnesota; and Don Willett of Texas....
Saying the reaction was "mixed," the Times quotes Nan Aron (president of the liberal Alliance for Justice Action Council), who found these people "dangerous" — "some of the most extreme conservatives on the federal bench today" — and Ed Whelan ("a prominent conservative legal commentator") who said it was "a good list of some of the outstanding judges who give ample sign of being faithful to the Constitution." Actually, that sounds like an unmixed reaction: It sounds like the reaction that the potential nominees all seem to be conservative.

As Whelan reminds us, we can't be sure a President Trump will actually pick one of these people or somebody like them. The list is part of the process of trying to get elected. But it's interesting as a political move. I can't remember ever seeing a presidential candidate do a list like this.

The closest thing I can think of is Ronald Reagan's promise in the 1980 campaign that he'd put a woman on the Court. He made an actual pledge, and, by the way, his opponent, President Jimmy Carter didn't like it, calling it "a mistake for a president to promise [to appoint] a particular kind of American." Reagan, of course, followed through on his promise. I remember my father scoffing at my naivete for thinking a politician would keep a campaign promise. (I wasn't a kid at the time. I was 30 years old and had graduated from law school. (And for the record, my father voted for Reagan and I did not.))

But Trump isn't promising. He's just saying these are people "he would consider as potential replacements for Justice Scalia." (At that link, to Trump's website, you'll find a short and very simply written statement of each person's biography.) Since he's not promising, there's nothing to believe or disbelieve. It's another suggestion. As he famously said last week: "Look, anything I say right now — I'm not the president — everything is a suggestion, no matter what you say, it's a suggestion."

Japanese ad shows ice cream company workers and executives soberly apologizing for raising the price of their ice cream bar.

From ¥60 to ¥70, the first price rise in 20 years.

“Garigari-kun is meant to be something kids can easily buy with their allowance,” said Fumio Hagiwara, a marketing executive at Akagi Nyugyo, the maker of the ice cream bar. “Even grown-ups have less pocket money these days.”...

“We don’t have any more income, but taxes are rising,” said Kazuko Ida, 65, who lives in Tokyo. As a result, she said, she is especially reluctant to spend more. “It’s one thing if luxury items are expensive, but if cheap things aren’t cheap anymore, it’s a real problem.”

Who's too scary now? Bernie Sanders.

That's the memo. From The Sacramento Bee:
A lot of Democrats don’t want to admit it, but Donald Trump isn’t the only presidential candidate playing with fire and recklessly courting an angry mob. For the latest round of curse-word hurling, chair throwing, social-media stalking and conspiracy-theory swapping, look no further than the supporters of Bernie Sanders. Over the weekend, dozens of Sanders devotees lost their minds after the Nevada Democratic Party, meeting for its convention in Las Vegas, awarded a majority of delegates to front-runner Hillary Clinton. Convinced that the establishment had rigged the rules and that Sanders delegates had been excluded for unfair reasons, they booed and traded barbs with people on stage, including Clinton surrogate and keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer....
Since Hillary Clinton is not exciting, it needs to be the case that the others are too exciting — they're lunatics.

"Those that practice Shinrin-yoku explain that it differs from hiking or informative nature excursions because it centers on the therapeutic aspects of forest bathing."

"So whereas a nature walk’s objective is to provide informational content and a hike’s is to reach a destination, a Shinrin-yoku walk’s objective is to give participants an opportunity to slow down, appreciate things that can only be seen or heard when one is moving slowly, and take a break from the stress of their daily lives," said Ben Page, a certified forest therapy guide who founded Shinrin Yoku Los Angeles.

Shinrin-yoku = "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing."
“In Japan, Shinrin-yoku trails are certified by a blood-sampling study to determine whether the natural killer cell count is raised enough for the trail to qualify,” Page said. “I should also note that in Japan and Korea, forest therapy modalities are integrated into their medical system and are covered by insurance.”
Everything's getting medicalized... and not to bullshit you... but also to get to the insurance money.

"Announcing the vice presidential nominee before the convention is like announcing winner of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ before the final show is on the air."

"This is one of the only opportunities to create tension and drama in the whole show. You better believe Mr. Trump understands that and is looking to maximize that."

Said a Trump campaign source, quoted in a Politico article, "Donald Trump’s gold-plated convention/The celebrity billionaire is revamping everything about the GOP’s dog-and-pony show."
“This is the part of politics he would naturally enjoy, and he wants to control it 100 percent,” said a high-level Trump campaign source. “This is a massive television production and he is a television star.”...
Whereas the vice presidential nominee has generally spoken on the third night of the convention and the presidential candidate has taken the stage on the fourth and final night, Trump is considering a scenario that puts him on stage, delivering remarks on all four nights, reaching millions of potential voters, and driving ratings, according to one source.

The viral video: "Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight."

That was originally put up on YouTube on January 29, 2016. It has nearly 7 million views. I learned about it today, reading a Kathleen Parker piece, "Hillary Clinton’s viral nightmare: A video of her ‘lying for 13 minutes,’" in WaPo:
Most of the highlights will be familiar to anyone who follows politics — her varying takes on Bosnia, health care, Wall Street, NAFTA — but the juxtaposition of these ever-shifting views is more jarring than one might expect....

On questions of honesty and trustworthiness, Clinton consistently polls low, including among Democrats, which partly explains Sanders’s support. His economic plan may be fantastical, but at least he’s honest!

Well, maybe. With Clinton, there’s no maybe, as the 13 minutes make clear. For whatever reason, she simply can’t seem to stick to the truth, which, at times, needs neither embellishment nor denial. Wasn’t it enough to have gone to Bosnia to conduct the nation’s all-important soft diplomacy?

"[Megyn] Kelly arrived with questions, a few of them somewhat good: Has Trump made any mistakes in this campaign, anything he wishes he could take back?"

"Has anyone in his life ever hurt him emotionally? Is he setting a bad example for America’s children, whose parents are constantly reminded not to become bullies? These are things one can imagine Walters asking in a soft-focus setting. Trump, to no one’s surprise, came with his usual array of incomplete sentences, unfinished tangents and an obfuscating lack of specifics. Entirely too much time was given over to Kelly and Trump rehashing their spat, with editing so choppy that you couldn’t even trust the hidden meaning in their eye-contact and attempts at frenemy rapport. It’s certainly not news to anyone at this point that the only thing Trump is good at talking about are his ratings, his number of social-network followers and the size of the crowds at his appearances. Granting this interview, of course, will simply serve as another way for him to measure his popularity."

WaPo's TV critic Hank Stuever didn't like Kelly's show any more than I did.

As Stuever observed, Kelly seems to be trying to fit the niche long occupied by Barbara Walters, who has a knack for getting into the emotional particularities of her subjects. Walters has her style, her way of warming up celebrities and extracting choice psychological nuggets. But Kelly doesn't know how to create a semblance of an atmosphere of warmth. How could she disarm anyone? She doesn't listen to the answers and try to figure out how to nudge into whatever interior space her interlocutor has given a hint might exist.

Stuever blames Trump: He's only "good at talking about... his ratings, his number of social-network followers and the size of the crowds at his appearances." I say it was Kelly's job to draw him out, and she didn't do it. Trump offered her some leads, saying more than once that he sees himself as "a person." What did that mean to him? Why was that worth saying? It was rather obvious that Kelly's idea was to turn any indication of sensitivity into a challenge about why he's so mean to other people, so she never got access to whatever might be sensitive about him. I'd love to hear him analyze where she missed her opportunities and why she's no Barbara Walters, but he's going to be needing to use her going forward, so there's no reason why he would.

ADDED: When I say "I'd love to hear him analyze where she missed her opportunities," what I'm picturing is a version of "The Apprentice" for apprentice journalists vying for a network celebrity interview slot and tasked this week to interview a presidential candidate. In the end, there's a  meeting, where Trump confronts them all with incisive analysis of what they did wrong and right. He'd do that really well, but that's unlike anything he can be giving us in the context of the real campaign.

AND: Here's the video:

The NYT headline reveals the sad reality for Hillary: Did she even win Kentucky?

"Bernie Sanders Wins Oregon; Hillary Clinton Declares Victory in Kentucky."
Mrs. Clinton raced around Kentucky in the two days before the primary, hoping to fend off Mr. Sanders in a state that she won easily in 2008. In unofficial results late Tuesday night, Mrs. Clinton edged Mr. Sanders by about 1,900 votes, or less than half a percentage point, with all counties reporting. The Associated Press had not declared a winner by midnight.

The close result meant that she and Mr. Sanders would effectively split the state’s delegates. Nonetheless, winning Kentucky would give her a symbolic triumph that could blunt the effect of her loss in Oregon as she turns her attention to Donald J. Trump, her likely general election opponent.
What is the "symbolic triumph" of winning by virtually nothing?

The top-rated comment, with 500+ votes, comes from Australia:

If Uber can find you from your cell phone, why can't the 911 system?

This is John Oliver, who has an obligation to be funny, and he is, even as he's explaining something truly horrific.

"Speaking to reporters, the practitioner of ancient South American religious rituals involving the hallucinogenic ayahuasca plant explained that..."

"... while he was ordinarily happy to share his culture’s spiritual wisdom with others, the constant stream of wealthy Silicon Valley executives seeking transcendental enlightenment had become an increasingly loathsome and disheartening part of his occupation...."
“I know it’s my job to guide them, but after meeting these guys, the last thing I want to do is witness the visions they have deep in their souls,” [master ayahuasca shaman Piero Salazar said]. “Even when I do manage to help one of them overcome a long-held fear, it’s always something really boring....”

May 17, 2016

Did anyone watch that Megyn Kelly interview with Donald Trump?

I didn't get much out of it... other than that DT's favorite book is "All Quiet on the Western Front." Also that he thinks of himself as "a person."

ADDED: Less surprising but probably more significant: His favorite movie is "Citizen Kane." Kelly — presumably because she was doing some lightning-round set of questions — failed to ask the obvious question: Do you identify with Kane? Kane was an unsuccessful politician and a successful journalist, so a conversation between Trump and Kelly about Kane could have had some real content, but Kelly is not the journalist to see and do anything about that potential.

"Something that infuriated him, he said, were the ridiculous taboos around talking about sex and genitals in this country."

"How do people think we all got here? he asked. Go ahead, ask me questions, ask me whatever you want. It was almost a dare. He was willing to go public, he said, because there were other men in the same boat — who had lost their penises because of cancer or injuries — and he knew that many of them were so ashamed and mortified that they were depressed, isolated, withdrawn, living in the shadows, hiding what had happened to them.... He wanted to speak out, thinking maybe it would help other men...."

Re Thomas Manning, the man with the penis transplant.

"Guys, this is Thelma and Louise reunited after twenty-five years."

"I think they are both beyond judgment for this occasion. *bows at their feet*"

The strangest part of the Scott Adams prediction that Trump will pick Scott Brown as his VP.

It's the name Brown:
As silly as this sounds, it makes him seem less white. Science tells us that people are more influenced by names than common sense would suggest. For example, people with so-called “lower class” names such as Justin are less likely to get job interviews.... And my guess is that people named Trump are more likely to be associated with winning (trumping). By this same line of thinking, Brown would take some of the white off of Trump. That could help in the general election. And yes, I am totally serious. People trained in persuasion would likely agree.
I assume that bit about "Justin" is a joke. Ah, maybe the whole thing is a joke. Except the part about Scott Brown being a very handsome man. Surprised Adams made no mention of the most famous case of a presidential candidate making handsomeness the key factor — George H.W. Bush picking Dan Quayle. Opinion from 1988:

"Is Traditional Polling Underselling Donald Trump’s True Strength?"

Asks Nate Cohn (in the NYT):
Mrs. Clinton generally leads Mr. Trump by less in online surveys. On balance, though, Mr. Trump has about 2.5 more points in live-interview polls. He’s actually earning a smaller share of the vote in online surveys than in the live-interview polls — the exact opposite of what one might expect if he were being hurt by social desirability bias in live-interview polls.

So what’s going on? The main difference between the online and live-interview polls is there are vastly more undecided voters in the online surveys. In the live-interview surveys, there are correspondingly more supporters of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, with Mrs. Clinton apparently gaining slightly more ground....
AND: Here's a NYT article — "Donald Trump Borrows From Bernie Sanders’s Playbook to Woo Democrats" — that had me leaping ahead to the notion of Sanders one day endorsing Trump. Oh, yes, it hit me at this point:
Mr. Trump recently offered a taste of his coming line of attack on the campaign trail in Oregon, where he praised Mr. Sanders for highlighting Mrs. Clinton’s ties to the country’s largest financial institutions. “She’s totally controlled by Wall Street,” Mr. Trump said, echoing a Sanders rallying cry.

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump, said he expected the presumptive Republican nominee to grow aggressive on the banks. “Who’s been tougher on bankers than Donald Trump?” asked Mr. Stone, suggesting Mr. Trump could appeal to some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters. “He’s taken them to the cleaners. I think he has a healthy skepticism and deep knowledge of bankers and how they operate. He’s going to be tough on Wall Street.” Mr. Trump has said that “the hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.”

"We are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, so I thought: Why not dry it the way they do in Italy?"

"I did, even if it drove the dogs mad, hanging temptingly just behind the screen in the unlit fireplace. Three weeks later I was rewarded with something I felt I didn’t do enough to deserve: It looked Old World on the outside, all tough and dry, the inside a strip of meat encased in almost buttery, flavorful fat."

From "Just Add Salt: How to Make Bacon and Pancetta at Home," by Ian Fisher in the NYT.

"Thrown chairs. Leaked cellphone numbers. Death threats spewed across the Internet. No, this is not the work of Donald J. Trump supporters..."

"It was angry supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who were directing their ire at the Nevada Democratic Party — and its chairwoman, Roberta Lange — over a state convention on Saturday that they think was emblematic of a rigged political system."
“Loved how you broke the system,” one person wrote in a text message that said he or she knew where Ms. Lange’s grandchildren went to school. “Prepare for hell. Calls won’t stop.”

Another person left a voice mail message saying he thought Ms. Lange should be “hung in public execution” for her actions.

“I’m scared for my family,” Ms. Lange said. “Scared for my kids.”

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and you want 2000 of something."

Just a joke I ran across as I was searching for information about foods that are popular even though they are virtually flavorless. That happened because I was reading this Megan McArdle column, "Dining Out on Empty Virtue," about farm-to-table food, and I saw this (boldface added):
[E]ating locally sharply limits the variety of foods you can consume at one time. Things pop up in their growing season, then they are gone from our tables, if not our hearts and memories. This is how my mother grew up eating in the farm country of western New York, where summer was a glorious succession of excesses: three weeks of strawberry shortcake every evening, then farewell to strawberries for the rest of the year; that loss was, of course, somewhat consoled by the onset of purple raspberry pie. But eventually winter came, and it was back to root vegetables, home-canned beans and frozen peas, occasionally varied by the tasteless yet indestructible iceberg lettuce that could be shipped from the ever-fertile fields of inland California.
You see my point of view? I have almost no sense of taste. The fact that a particular food is popular in spite of a lack of flavor is very useful to me. I've seen iceberg lettuce disparaged for decades, but I'm thinking in a new way now. It might be that it's everywhere because it keeps well and can be shipped and stored relatively easily, but part of it must be that people like the texture and the inside-the-head sound. People with a normal sense of taste may prioritize flavor and even look down on those who are flavor dumb, without thinking much about those of us who are flavor blind.

"Understanding this holds the promise of enhancing climate models' accuracy."

"This" = "the most abundant organism at the ocean's surface... involved in an integral process that helps regulate our climate – the production of dimethylsulfide (DMS)."
[I]f Pelagibacterales are such simple organisms, and so abundant, why has this pathway remained hidden until now, awaiting accidental discovery? The answer, ironic though it may appear, lies in their very simplicity, evolved over as much as a billion years into "streamlined cells," honing their role into something small and specific, and discarding unnecessary genes along the way....

Bison in the news.

1. "Bullet the bison likes to spend her days rolling in the mud, lounging in the shade and walking around the house ... and through the door, and down the hallway. Her owner, Karen Schoeve, doesn’t mind. It can be a nuisance sometimes, but Bullet is house-trained, so long as she doesn’t track mud inside."

2. "Yellowstone euthanizes baby bison that tourists loaded into their car."
Rangers tried to reunite the newborn bison calf with its herd... The efforts failed, and the calf was euthanized because it was abandoned and approaching people and cars....  The two foreign tourists visiting Yellowstone last week tried to “save” the baby bison from the cold by putting the calf in their vehicle and trying to leave. A park visitor told that she saw the tourists, a father and a son, pull up to a ranger station with the bison in their SUV, the Sacramento Bee reported. “They were demanding to speak with a ranger,” said Karen Richardson. “They were seriously worried that the calf was freezing and dying.”
3. "On [May 9th], President Obama signed legislation honoring the American bison, also known as the buffalo, as this country’s first national mammal."
[Andrew C. Isenberg, author of “The Destruction of the Bison”] cautions against fitting the bison into what he calls a simplistic Christian teleological narrative—a version of the story in which America’s indigenous peoples, with their eco-friendly hunting practices, were tempted by the “unsustainable exploitation” of the Euro-Americans and, together, nearly destroyed the Edenic state of nature. It is misguided, Isenberg argues, to idealize the Indian hunters and white preservationists while demonizing the pioneers and industrialists, all of whom were shaped by their own social and economic pressures, all of whom played their own part in the near-tragedy. There were, of course, significant differences between the various groups—and yet these differences, he writes, “must have seemed trivial to the bison.” Ultimately, the simplest perspective from which to interpret the vicissitudes of the American bison is that of the bison itself. The honor it received this week is meagre compensation for its travails, but it is better than nothing.

Does Donald Trump drive you to drink?

The Nation is fund-raising on the assumption he does. In the email:
Are you looking for that perfect Malbec to pair with Donald Trump’s xenophobic and misogynistic rally speeches? Perhaps a complex Cabernet over which to discuss Bernie's case for democratic socialism? Maybe a simple Riesling to balance the rage you feel while watching the news...
Here's the whole thing. (Click to enlarge.)

Why did Hillary say she's going to put Bill Clinton "in charge of revitalizing the economy, because, you know, he knows how to do it"?

It's puzzling, isn't it? It raises more questions than it answers, and yet she must think it was worthwhile to say.

1. There was a time when Hillary Clinton presented herself as the continuation of Obama, to generate some early onset nostalgia for the last 8 years. Now — at the risk of seeming to reject Obama (and the economic success he represents) — she's leveraging herself on another man, Bill Clinton. It's something she does, point to that man she's associated with. We like him, don't we? He's likeable more than enough.
“Hillary Clinton’s statement that if elected president she’d put Bill Clinton ‘in charge of revitalizing the economy … because, you know, he knows how to do it’ suggests she’s no longer touting the successes of the Obama economy, or even linking herself to it,” said Robert B. Reich, a secretary of labor during the Clinton administration who endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary.
2. Why should Bill Clinton be "in charge of revitalizing the economy"? The economy is our biggest concern, and "in charge" puts him in the central role. What is the argument that he's the man for that job? He knows how to do it. That seems to be based on nothing but hope that we remember a good economy during the Clinton years, but not everyone remembers those years, and those of us who do may not have any idea what Bill Clinton did that worked, and what worked back then might not be what would work now.
[T]outing the economic prosperity he oversaw... could open Mrs. Clinton up to further attacks by Mr. Trump... who has campaigned as an economic populist [and has] hit Mrs. Clinton over her husband’s trade policies, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr. Clinton signed into law in 1993 and which many voters believe hurt American workers.
4. She's offering to be the woman President and she's pointing at her husband. Her whole career has been leveraged on Bill Clinton. Forefronting him now exposes her present neediness as well as her past dependence. It's not a good look for her.

5. Bill Clinton appears to be an old, frail man. Let him grow old gracefully. He's term-limited out of the presidency, and he would be the first First Gentleman. Let him have the dignified, supportive role as we've seen in First Ladies (other than that time Hillary Clinton took over health care reform and things worked out so badly).

Here's a close-up on the photograph at the link. It's oddly confusing which hand is Bill's:

The vigorous pointing hand seems to go with his face, but that's the hand of the young lady right behind him who looks like she's thinking Hey, I'm touching Bill Clinton's hand. Bill's is that startlingly long and emaciated hand to which all the other hands reach.

ADDED: Meade read this post out loud and burst into song: "Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you...."

And, by the way, do you remember the good times of the Bill Clinton Administration? Good times never seemed so good. I'd be inclined to believe they never would. 

Now, we're reminiscing about President Kennedy. (That song was about Caroline Kennedy, you know.)

May 16, 2016

50 years ago today: The albums "Blonde on Blonde" and "Pet Sounds" were released.

An amazing day!

From Rolling Stone: "'Blonde on Blonde' at 50: Celebrating Bob Dylan's Greatest Masterpiece":
Recorded fast with Nashville session cats who were used to grinding out country hits, Blonde on Blonde has a slick studio polish that makes it sound totally unlike any of his other albums, with sparkling piano frills and a soulful shitkicker groove. Yet the glossy surface just makes the songs more haunting.... [H]e never sounded lonelier than in "Visions of Johanna," funnier than in "I Want You," more desperate than in "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again." It's his most expansive music, with nothing that resembles a folk song – just the rock & roll laments of a vanishing American, the doomed outsider who's given up on ever belonging anywhere. "I don't consider myself outside of anything," Dylan said when the album came out. "I just consider myself not around."
"Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds': 15 Things You Didn't Know":
When the group reconvened in the studio... to record vocal parts for what they assumed would be another sunny Brian Wilson anthem, one of the first things they heard was a track called "Hang on to Your Ego." Written with the band's road manager Terry Sachen, the lyrics were inspired by Wilson's experience using LSD. The whole band was taken aback by this jarring new direction, but Mike Love reportedly took particular offense to the piece, which he rejected as "a doper song." "The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing," explained Love in 1996. "I wasn't interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego." During outtakes from the sessions, Love can be heard belching in the background, singing the lyrics in the manner of Jimmy Durante and James Cagney, and generally clowning around... Ultimately, Wilson let Love alter the title to a less inflammatory "I Know There's an Answer"....

"What most distinguishes the televised wine... It is coping wine. It is medicative wine."

"It is wine that is often consumed alone. And it is wine that is, as an element of TV production, used by its respective storytellers as a visual metaphor for its drinkers’ worry and fear.... Instead of conviviality and/or snobbery, the wine in this case suggests the stormy silence of that most modern of afflictions: stress. While traditional wine-drinking might suggest social confidence-building  ('lubrication,' etc.), this version emphasizes introversion rather than extroversion: anger that steams into a closed vessel, fear that has no outlet. Olivia gulps wine when, you know, she thinks she might be murdered. Alicia does it when she thinks her husband might go to jail. Skyler, Claire, Carrie, Tami—their wine, to varying degrees of acuteness, indicates the pressures that bear down on them, constantly. And the notion that those pressures must be borne, ultimately, alone."

From an Atlantic article by Megan Garber titled "The Women and the Wine/Whether red or white, whether drunk by Alicia Florrick or Olivia Pope, the beverage has become a metaphor for anxieties that are uniquely feminine in their form."

Well, in the old days, actresses smoked cigarettes...

... but that standard stage business has been medicalized out of drama. I'm not surprised to read about all the actresses drinking on screen these days. It's very visual. Lots of hand and face action. Dark red color. (Is really any of the wine on these shows white?)

Going back to LSD...

Here's some new NYT video:

And here's a recent episode of Stuff You Should Know: "How LSD Works."

Notably, both of these things go back to the phase in the development of LSD when psychologists were finding medical applications for the drug, and both bemoan the transition out of the medical setting to the spiritual/recreational use associated with Timothy Leary and the hippie movement. Both seem hopeful about reviving the medical use and have nothing good to say about the freedom of individuals to use the drug for our own autonomous purposes. Everything is so medicinal these days. I would think that the spiritual (and intellectual) pursuit would be placed on a highest level, but Timothy Leary really scared the bejeezus out of the authorities half a century ago. Those 2 words, drop out. There was a tremendous fear that people would shed the old work ethic, and that was a freakout from which America has never come down.

"Do you think I spend my day wondering about how Chuck Grassley will go down in history?"

"I don’t care if I ever go down in history. I’m here to do a job and how the history books treat me — my name will probably never be mentioned in the history books."

The old what-about-your-legacy move — whipped out by Harry Reid over the Merrick Garland nomination — doesn't work on Chuck Grassley.

Ironically, this is the post that gets me to make a Chuck Grassley tag.

"I want to go back to being who I was... I couldn’t have a relationship with anybody."

"You can’t tell a woman, ‘I had a penis amputation.’... Men judge their masculinity with their bodies."

Said Thomas Manning, the recipient of the first penis transplant in the United States. (The amputation was a cancer treatment.)
Mr. Manning was stunned that it had happened so fast. Dr. Cetrulo credits the New England Organ Bank, which asks families of some dying patients to consider organ donation. The organ bank said the donor’s family wished to remain anonymous but had extended a message to Mr. Manning saying they felt blessed and were delighted his recovery was going well. Organ banks do not assume that families who donate internal organs like kidneys and livers will also be willing to give visible, intimate parts like a face, hands or a penis.

About those RFRA and birth control cases, "The Court expresses no view on the merits..."

"In particular, the Court does not decide whether petitioners’ religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the Government has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest. Nothing in this opinion, or in the opinions or orders of the courts below, is to affect the ability of the Government to ensure that women covered by petitioners’ health plans 'obtain, without cost, the full range of FDA approved contraceptives.'... The judgments of the Courts of Appeals are vacated, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Just now, per curiam, in Zubik v. Burwell, the case about the religious burden of needing to fill out a form to object to the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage. This fizzle of an outcome happened, according to the Court, because the question came up at oral argument whether the government needed the form.

"I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one."

Said President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, where "Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left. At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water. 'It is like something from the 19th century,' said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital."

"The @washingtonpost report on potential VP candidates is wrong. Marco Rubio and most others mentioned are NOT under consideration."

Tweeted Trump.

Here's the WaPo article, mentioning Ben Carson, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Chris Christie.

Since Trump said "most" of the others, in addition to Rubio, were not under consideration, we may infer that at least one is. I presume if it's one, it's Kasich.

The woman in the featured anecdote in "Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private" says the NYT distorted her story.

The article started off with the story of Donald Trump offering a bathing suit to a woman who had arrived at his pool party with no bathing suit. I thought it was a nothing story and putting it first telegraphed that the Times — for all its 50+ interviews — hadn't uncovered much of anything.

But now we have that woman, Rowanne Brewer Lane, outraged at the way the NYT told her story, which it called "a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew." Brewer Lane says:
"Actually, it was very upsetting. I was not happy to read it at all," Brewer Lane said. "Well, because The New York Times told us several times that they would make sure that my story that I was telling came across. They promised several times that they would do it accurately. They told me several times and my manager several times that it would not be a hit piece and that my story would come across the way that I was telling it and honestly, and it absolutely was not."...

"They spun it to where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump, and I don't appreciate them making it look like that I was saying that it was a negative experience because it was not," Brewer Lane said....

"If anybody would ask me, how did you meet Donald Trump? You are going to get the story of how I was at a pool party at Mar-A-Lago with my agency and a lot of other people and it was a night party and I had a photo shoot that I had done all day and I had another photo shoot the next day, and I almost didn't go, but my agent asked me if I would please come up and just enjoy for a while and so I did, and I didn't wear a bathing suit. I didn't have a swimsuit," she said.

Read the opening line of the story, "Donald J. Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes," Brewer Lane was asked whether that was true or false. False, she said.

"I came from a shoot like I said, and I started talking with Donald and chatting with him over the course of the first maybe 20 minutes I was there, and we seemed to get along in conversation nicely, and it just very normally and naturally evolved into a conversation. We started walking around the mansion. He started showing me the architecture. We were having a very nice conversation, and we got into a certain part of it and he asked me if I had a swimsuit. I said I didn't. I had not really planned on swimming. He asked me if I wanted one. I said OK, sure. And I change into one, and the part where I went back out to the pool party and he made a comment now that's a stunning Trump girl right there, I was actually flattered by. I didn't feel like it was a demeaning situation or comment at all, and that's what I told the Times, and they spun it completely differently."
Eagerness to portray women as exploited seems to have motivated the NYT to exploit women.

I can imagine the NYT defending itself by saying that often young women do not understand the way they are being manipulated and exploited. Within that explanation, to say "I was actually flattered" is to reveal your naivete. That's how the manipulation works. He got her into a bathing suit and then, presenting her to the crowd, said "That is a stunning Trump girl, isn’t it?" How was she a "Trump girl"? Ah, but it felt flattering. Even now, she feels the relationship was very nice, very rewarding, but she doesn't know the import of her own words, the NYT will (I suspect) say. It will say, I predict, that her story was not distorted at all. The facts are all true. They are just viewed from a more sophisticated perspective.

Now, there's a big problem with that explanation. It's saying the woman doesn't understand the meaning of her own experience. That feels like a putdown — a putdown and a stereotype: Women are simpleminded and can be bought off with pretty clothes and flattery. There's a way to say that without provoking the ire of the great masses of women who matter when it comes to an election: Only the young and very pretty women are segmented off and treated so well they only have good feelings about it, and only they are being put down.

It will be interesting to see how this story plays out. The press is trying so hard to get us to hate Trump over women that it has created great energy around this juicy topic. Stay tuned.

3 reasons why Donald Trump's "everything is a suggestion" sounds right to me.

He said:
"Look, anything I say right now — I'm not the president — everything is a suggestion, no matter what you say, it's a suggestion. I feel strongly that we have to do something about — when you look at radical Islamic terrorism, we have a president, as you folks know very well, we have a president who won't even use the term for the World Trade Center, he won't use the term. And we have to do something, and you're not going to do something until you know what the problem is."
Why I like that "suggestions" business:

1. Even if he were already the President (other than in the area of foreign affairs and his duties as Commander in  Chief), it is what a President is supposed to do. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution says: "He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient...." That sounds like making suggestions to me. It looks like the opposite of those dictatorial tendencies Trump's antagonists purport to see.

2. It is a complete distortion to characterize the vote for the candidate as a referendum on all the policies he or she has talked about during the election season. In the end, we're forced to vote for someone, but the vote only means that we think this person is better than the other one, and it's unfair to interpret the vote to mean we want all of those policies. For example, I voted for Obama over McCain in 2008 mainly because I thought he was better suited to handle the financial crisis. I did not enjoy seeing his victory portrayed as a mandate for health insurance reform.

3. Presidents do — and should — adjust their thinking as the context changes and new information becomes available. You don't want the President wedded to a bunch of policy pledges that were based on how things looked when he was running for office (including the now-irrelevant pressure to get elected).

May 15, 2016

"Igor Spetic, in Cleveland, suffered after his amputation from extreme, persistent pain, which he felt permanently emanating from the hand he no longer had."

"'It was unbearable, twenty-four seven, as though my hand were in a clamp,' he says. Since the last thing he vaguely recalls about his accident is his hand clutched in a vise as he reached out toward the mechanical press that crushed it, it seems that his mind had continued to feel that final moment, like a clanging bell that is the last thing remembered, and still heard on his hospital bed, by the victim of a train accident. His hand is so much there from the brain’s point of view that the brain may be creating the pain it thinks the hand ought to be feeling, the last tactile sensation it can recall. This kind of phantom pain in amputated limbs is a widely observed phenomenon, but for a long time it was thought to be a response to trauma of the 'cauterized' nerves in the residual limb. One of the things that Dustin Tyler’s project in Cleveland has helped confirm is that it is also a cognitive phenomenon, placed much 'higher up' in the system. After the sensors in Spetic’s arm were stimulated, his pain diminished, and then vanished. Reassured that the hand had moved on, that the trauma had passed and was no longer in need of response, the brain released it from the emergency state of feeling pain."

From "Feel Me/What the new science of touch says about ourselves," by Adam Gopnik.



Did you find anything today?

"Madeleine Lebeau, Last Living Cast Member of Casablanca, Dies at 92."

"Though she had several small roles in other American films, as well as Fellini’s 8 ½, she’s best remembered for her emotional proclamation of 'Viva la France!' at the end of the ensemble performance of 'La Marseillaise' in Casablanca. Lebeau.., was, like many of her co-performers, a real-life refugee forced to flee from the Nazis...."

"There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock news and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose."

"The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb or Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash or Englebert Humperdink. The revolution will not be televised. The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people. You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl. The revolution will not go better with Coke. The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. The revolution will put you in the driver's seat. The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised. The revolution will be no re-run, brothers. The revolution will be live."

"I don't think it's an automatic yes, I think you have to think through what does he think the job involves."

Said Newt Gingrich, asked on "Fox News Sunday" if he'd accept an offer to serve as Trump's running mate.
If he can convince Callista and me that it's doable and that it’s serious and we would, in fact, contribute I think we would be very hard pressed not to say yes. 
Chris Wallace nudged him to do it because the Vice President residence "isn't bad."

Speaking of VP prospects on the Sunday shows, there was also Sherrod Brown on "State of the Union." He was hilariously blindsided. Jake Tapper played a clip from an ad he put out in his 2012  campaign for reelection to the Senate:

"Can I just finish the two wars we're already in before you go looking for a third one?"

Said Robert Gates when Barack Obama asked him for his opinion on intervention in Libya.

From an interview on "Face the Nation" today. John Dickerson had asked Gates about what he thought of Ben Rhodes referring to the American foreign policy establishment as "the blob":


So Reince Priebus was on "Face the Nation." John Dickerson tried to get him to talk about Trump-not-Trump's "John Miller" routine from a quarter century ago, but Reince brushed it off and plugged in his main message: The Earthquake:
[P]eople are comparing Hillary Clinton, a career politician, someone who has made millions of dollars on politics, and a guy who has never run for public office, a business guy, who is a total outsider that is going to cause an earthquake in Washington. That's really the issue that is on the ballot.
I was laughing, because: Which side is he on? Who likes earthquakes? But I guess maybe it's figured out, the people want mass destruction... in Washington. That was the talking point Priebus came to deliver, because he found a way to say it again at the end of the interview:
And when the choice is Hillary Clinton, someone who has made a career of lying and skirting the issues, and you look at the e-mails, the Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, and a guy who has never run for office and might have some stories out there that may make some interesting news, I think, in the end, people are going to choose the person that is going to cause an earthquake in Washington and get something done over Hillary Clinton.
When it was panel time on FTN, John Dickerson brought up the Trumpquake:
DICKERSON: What if it's just, we -- you know, we are so fed up with Washington that -- and Reince Priebus used the word "earthquake," you know, that -- that they want the earthquake. And forget positions, smitions, we want the earthquake, and that's Donald Trump.

[CBS News political analyst Jamelle] BOUIE: I mean I think that might be true in the Republican Party. I'm just not sure how true it is in the Democratic Party... [T]he heat of a primary has sort of created the perception in the Democratic Party that there are these steep divisions and no doubt I think there are generational divisions in the Democratic Party that Sanders has revealed and may play themselves out in various ways going forward. But in terms of the presidential race, I tend to think that there really isn't that much disunity in the Democratic Party... And I don't think -- given that the Democratic Party is almost like, you know, it's close to majority non-white, I just do not think that Trump is the earthquake that anyone in the Democratic Party is looking for.
That's a lot of blah blah from Bouie, like he thought we wouldn't notice when he switched from asserting that Democrats don't want an earthquake to Democrats might want a different earthquake. Know your quakes. There's the Trumpquake and the Berniequake. To those who want to be counted out when you talk about destruction, "earthquake" sounds like undifferentiated chaos, but to the earthquake connoisseur, there are distinctions.