June 4, 2016

"The tax man's taken all my dough/And left me in my stately home/Lazing on a sunny afternoon..."

I feel like I've shared this before, but I'm sharing it today because I just saw this at Facebook: "The cast of Sunny Afternoon cover this classic tune to celebrate 50 years since its release."

Full lyrics here. Love this song — one of my favorites from one of my all-time favorite bands.

At the Bike-in-the-Living-Room Café...


... see if you can take the comments somewhere you might not expect.

It's not the tweeting, it's the retweeting that gets you... if you're Trump.

Oh, no. Trump goofs up retweeting again. See the problem?

"Don Vito" apparently just googled to find a generic picture of a black family, but they are actual people who don't appreciate being appropriated and presented as real Trump supporters. Actually, they don't sound that bothered. Buzzfeed found the man, and he called it “misleading” and “taken out of context.”

Oh, this is a nothing controversy, but it got me to this other story that has me laughing ought loud: "Facebook Appears To Think This Picture Of A Horse Is Porn And Won’t Let Us Share It" — which is updated to say: "Facebook seems to be flagging this article — the one you’re reading right now — as pornography" and: "And then, after Facebook removes this article from your feed, it makes you go through your photos and verify that none of them are pornographic."

Why I didn't blog Adam Liptak's "Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say."

I see that our longtime commenter Saint Croix put this in last night's Garage Door Café:
Interesting article in the NYT by Adam Liptak. "Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say." I read this and I go, no shit. It took you until June to figure this out? I guess only some lawyers are hot-tempered and Jeffersonian. "Be sure to wear a brown shirt so I know who to punch in our street brawls," is what I was saying, like nine months ago. I could have had a baby in the time it took Adam Liptak to figure out that Donald Trump could threaten the rule of law. Anyway, slow and methodical Adam Liptak is now helpfully pointing out to the citizens of the world that Donald Trump could threaten the rule of law.

I notice he only cites Republicans and libertarians in his article. That's one of my favorite rhetorical moves! Find somebody on the other side who agrees with you, and cite the shit out of them. If Al Sharpton ever said, "Obama is an ass," I'd be citing Al Sharpton as a smart thinker. "Even the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has studied the words of Christ, says that Obama is an ass." And all the judges would be going "point," except for the French guy going "touché."
Of course, I'd already seen and read the article. I read The New York Times. Does anyone blog NYT things more than I do? I chose not to blog it. First, every word of the headline annoyed me. That's not to say that I turn away from what annoys me. Quite the contrary.

In fact, an obvious riposte popped into my head immediately: All Presidents threaten the rule of law! That's supposed to cause you to understand the levels of my annoyance at the headline. I don't like the "could," since mere possibility is already built into the word "threaten." Any governmental power can be abused, so there is always a threat. Don't back off and portray the threat as mere potential. The threat is omnipresent.

Let me just quote James Madison, Federalist 51:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
The other level of annoyance is, as my riposte makes clear, that the headline singles out Donald Trump. What about Barack Obama? What about Hillary Clinton? But I settled down and read Liptak's article and Obama's name did come up:
Republican officials have criticized Mr. Obama for what they have called his unconstitutional expansion of executive power. But some legal scholars who share that view say the problem under a President Trump would be worse.

“I don’t think he cares about separation of powers at all,” said Richard Epstein, a fellow at the Hoover Institution who also teaches at New York University and the University of Chicago.

President George W. Bush “often went beyond what he should have done,” Professor Epstein said. “I think Obama’s been much worse on that issue pretty consistently, and his underlings have been even more so. But I think Trump doesn’t even think there’s an issue to worry about. He just simply says whatever I want to do I will do.”

Mr. Trump has boasted that he will use Mr. Obama’s actions as precedent for his own expansive assertions of executive power.
So, I didn't blog it yesterday, but — prodded by Saint Croix — I still like my original gut-reaction snark: All Presidents threaten the rule of law!

"Politicians get the most attention the more outrageous they sound. So if you’re civil and quiet and polite, nobody covers you. But if you say something crazy and rude you’re all over the news."

President Obama — answering a "town hall" question — talks about civility:

Sorry my tag for this is "civility bullshit" and I'm not changing it even though he doesn't really deserve it here. He didn't bring the subject up, and he gave a pretty balanced answer, not too much of the kind of answer that made me conclude long ago that political talk about civility is always bullshit (because it's always actually about wanting your opponents to tone it down and back off and never comes up when you're in the mood to get blunt and touch).

And I've got to admit that I found it damned pleasant to listen to Obama talking. What a break from the current cast of characters in the 2016 campaign. I even enjoyed the coffee cup.

"There are two big problems in trying to analyze Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech."

Says Dan Drezner (at The Washington Post). The first is — as I suspect you know — it was mainly an attack on Donald Trump. He's "dangerously incoherent," etc. We get it, but what does that tell us about Clinton's foreign policy?

The second big problem is: "Commentators are already saying that Clinton is to the right of Trump on foreign policy, following up on previous pundit claims that Clinton is more hawkish than Trump on matters of national security." But according to Drezner, "hawk-dove distinctions" don't "really work" and are "pretty useless." He seems to like the idea of replacing "hawk" and "dove" with Hamiltonian, Wilsonian, Jacksonian, and Jeffersonian. In this set-up, Trump gets Jackson and Hillary gets both Wilson and Hamilton.

How the Supreme Court decided the draft evasion case against Muhammad Ali.

It's hard to remember the details, and today's obituary's don't linger on this topic. For example, the NYT obituary just says: "As Ali’s draft-evasion case made its way to the United States Supreme Court, he returned to the ring on Oct. 26, 1970, through the efforts of black politicians in Atlanta."

But Ali had been convicted in 1967 and sentenced to 5 years in prison. The Supreme Court case that ultimately kept him out of prison came in 1971. What did the Court decide? Here's the very unusual inside story, found in "The Brethren" by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong:
Apart from the complicated war and draft issues, there were racial overtones to the case.... Public sympathy was growing for Ali, but at the same time the Black Muslim faith had been portrayed as separatist, antiwhite and bizarre....

"In later life Ali became something of a secular saint, a legend in soft focus."

"He was respected for having sacrificed more than three years of his boxing prime and untold millions of dollars for his antiwar principles after being banished from the ring; he was extolled for his un-self-conscious gallantry in the face of incurable illness, and he was beloved for his accommodating sweetness in public. In 1996, he was trembling and nearly mute as he lit the Olympic caldron in Atlanta. That passive image was far removed from the exuberant, talkative, vainglorious 22-year-old who bounded out of Louisville, Ky., and onto the world stage in 1964 with an upset victory over Sonny Liston to become the world champion. The press called him the Louisville Lip. He called himself the Greatest."

From "Muhammad Ali, Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century, Dies at 74."

ALSO: "But Ali had his hypocrisies, or at least inconsistencies. How could he consider himself a 'race man' yet mock the skin color, hair and features of other African-Americans, most notably Joe Frazier, his rival and opponent in three classic matches? Ali called him 'the gorilla,' and long afterward Frazier continued to express hurt and bitterness."

AND: From my perspective, as someone who was 13 years old in 1964 when Cassius Clay emerged in the popular culture, he seemed to have invented self-promoting bragging. My parents' generation held values of modesty and sportsmanship. You shouldn't verbalize your self-esteem, especially in a way that vaunted yourself over others. You should achieve and be admirable and then, perhaps, other people will praise you.

As my parents and their coevals saw it, Clay was teaching the young people the wrong values, including the idea that you can push beyond your area of actual achievement — in Clay's case, boxing — and insult your opponents about something unrelated — such as the way they look. You could not only call yourself beautiful, but the other person ugly. To young people, like me, that seemed very funny and fun and liberating.

(I don't really want to mention Donald Trump in this post, but the connection is too obvious. Who are we? How did we get here?)

June 3, 2016

At the Garage Door Café...


... come in and talk. Talk about anything.

"My lawyer said 'We have to bring the other baby' and I'm like 'What'? and he said 'We've found the other family, you have to hand him in.'"

"We barely had time to say goodbye. I got all his clothes and we took him in the office. And we handed him in. And that was the most difficult part of all the situation. Then at the same time got our own baby, and that was so happy. And he was smiling."

"Travel isn’t just framed as a cure-all for what ails us, either, but as a goal around which to build the other elements of one’s life."

"Don’t have children, the thinking goes, because they’ll hinder your ability to travel. Work for yourself and create passive income, so you can jaunt off to exotic locales whenever you want. In a relatively safe and prosperous time, in a society that lacks many built-in challenges and hardships, travel has become the way to have an adventure, to demonstrate a kind of bravery — a cosmopolitan courage where one ventures into unfamiliar territory and undergoes a rite of passage to become an enlightened global citizen. Travel is thus seen as both a tool of personal development and an almost altruistic moral good. In short, as the old religious sources of guidance and identity have fallen away, a kind of 'cult of travel' has developed in their place."

From "Against the Cult of Travel, or What Everyone Gets Wrong About the Hobbit," by Brett and Kate McKay.  Much more at the link, including this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Travelling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.

"On Thursday night, Emmett Rensin, the deputy editor of Vox’s first person section, sent a series of tweets that, among other things, urged people to riot if Donald Trump comes to their town."

"We at Vox do not take institutional positions on most questions, and we encourage our writers to debate and disagree. But direct encouragement of riots crosses a line between expressing a contrary opinion and directly encouraging dangerous, illegal activity...."

Vox has "suspended" Rensin.

I had to go elsewhere to find the text of the over-the-line tweets. Here, at Mediaite: "Advice: If Trump comes to your town, start a riot." "Listen, if Trump is Hitler then you've got no business condemning rioters. If he isn't, you've got no business pretending normal is better." "Let's be clear: It's never a shame to storm the barricades set up around a fascist."

Here's Rensin's Twitter feed. Those posts that got him suspended are still up, and there's a lot more since then, such as: "You spent a year saying Trump was a fascist, and particularly an anti-Hispanic bigot. Hispanics take that seriously, and you're Shocked." "If you too believe he's a fascist, then ask yourself what it means to concern troll poor, Latino folks who take that belief seriously."  "It remains unclear to me what people believe the appropriate response to fascism is. Say 'fascist, fascist, fascist', people will freak." "If Trump *isn't* a fascist or an existential threat to democracy, fine. But then let's stop saying that he is."

"Healthy Justice Louis Brandeis every day ate one spinach leaf between two slices of whole wheat bread..."

"... whereas Justice Harlan Stone consumed platters of French cheeses with paired wines... Justice David Souter would eat for lunch 'just… plain… yogurt,' Ginsburg said with perfect delivery. Sotomayor added that sometimes he would have an apple, but Ginsburg maintained that the apple came later in the afternoon..... [T]he Justices eat together when one of them is celebrating a birthday; Chief Justice John Roberts will often bring a bottle of wine on those days... Ginsburg recalled the various foods hunted and prepared by their 'dear colleague,' the late Justice Antonin Scalia: fish, fowl, even 'Bambi,' she joked fondly. Sotomayor told a story in which Justice Stephen Breyer decided to serve his grandchildren pheasant, which Scalia had recently bagged. Afraid that pellets might still be in the bird, the children refused to eat it."







Man treads water for 20 hours — no life jacket — and is rescued.

The man had already been in the water for 8 hours when his wife notified the Coast Guard, and it was 12 more hours before they found him. The 61-year-old man, William Durden, was 15 nautical miles off shore when he was rescued.

15 nautical miles is about 17 regular miles, so it might make you wonder whether it would have made more sense to try to swim to shore. Treading water is less exerting, but maybe no one will ever come. Imagine hour after hour just staying in one place off shore!

Here, I found an article on the subject:
What if it’s two miles to the beach? Three? Sometimes, I feel like it might as well be 10,000 miles, but I know for sure, that waiting for a boat to happen by, is as likely as me winning the Power Ball. I know that I can’t waste one calorie of energy, or allow one thought to set up shop, that keeps me treading water and waiting for rescue....

Here’s the take away: The boat may, or mostly likely NOT, be coming, so head for shore and just keep swimming. The status quo of your life is merely treading water. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you are headed to shore, when you have no plan, no written personal vision, no set goal, no direction, no definitive action….you are simply treading water. Ask yourself, “How long can I tread water before I’m exhausted and am swallowed up by the deep?”
Oh, no! It's just a damned metaphor!

"After what she said about me today in her phony speech – that was a phony speech, that was a Donald Trump hit job – I will say this: Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, okay?"

Said Donald Trump.

Hillary's "phony speech" was a criticism of Trump's speech (in something of the style of a Trump speech): "Donald Trump's ideas are not just different, they are dangerously incoherent...They're not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies."

That speech of hers was supposed to be a major foreign policy speech, but — as Hillary-friendly sites have noted — it was short on foreign policy. Here's the NYT:
But although her campaign had described the speech as a major foreign policy address, Mrs. Clinton spent more time ridiculing and dismantling Mr. Trump’s statements than she did elucidating her positions. Here are a few key issues she did not discuss....
Ironically, the main argument against Trump has been that he's ridiculing and attacking other people and not providing any policy specifics.

I don't think it works to attack Trump by talking like Trump. For one thing, you're not Trump. How can you suddenly adopt his style? His style emanates from him and is the culmination of a long life of practicing talking like that. Second, if you talk like him, you're a hypocrite if you criticize him for talking like that.

Of course, you can say that other ways to attack him don't work either. That's called checkmate.

AND: Now, a word from Rick Perry: "Donald Trump will peel her skin off in a debate setting...."

PLUS: Trump's San Jose speech, in full:

Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 love letter to President Jimmy Carter.

Revealed at last, newly declassified:
The ayatollah was determined to return to Iran after 15 years in exile and make the Shah's "vacation" permanent. So he made a personal appeal. In a first-person message, Khomeini told the White House not to panic at the prospect of losing a strategic ally of 37 years and assured them that he, too, would be a friend.

"You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans," said Khomeini, pledging his Islamic Republic will be "a humanitarian one, which will benefit the cause of peace and tranquillity for all mankind"....

In the official Iranian narrative of the revolution, Khomeini bravely defied the United States and defeated "the Great Satan" in its desperate efforts to keep the Shah in power. But the documents reveal that Khomeini was far more engaged with the US than either government has ever admitted. Far from defying America, the ayatollah courted the Carter administration, sending quiet signals that he wanted a dialogue and then portraying a potential Islamic Republic as amenable to US interests.
ADDED: What Ebrahim Yazdi ("Iranian-American physician living in Houston, Texas, who became a spokesman and advisor to Khomeini") wrote to Warren Zimmerman ("a political counsellor with the US embassy in France, used as a messenger for the US to Khomeini"): "The Russian government is atheistic and anti-religion. We will definitely find it more difficult to have a deep understanding with the Russians. You are Christians and believe in God and they don't. We feel it easier to be closer to you than to Russians."

"Young fish become hooked on eating plastic in the seas in the same way that teenagers prefer unhealthy fast food..."

"... Swedish researchers have said."
The fish that did hatch in these waters with high quantities of micro-plastics were "smaller, slower, and more stupid" than those that hatched in clean waters, lead author Dr Oona Lonnstedt, from Uppsala University, said. When exposed to predators, about half the young perch from clean waters survived for 24 hours. Those that had been raised with the strongest plastic concentrations were all consumed by pike over the same period.

Most surprising for the research team was the way that plastic changed food preferences. "They all had access to zooplankton and yet they decided to just eat plastic in that treatment. It seems to be a chemical or physical cue that the plastic has, that triggers a feeding response in fish," Dr Lonnstedt told BBC News. They are basically fooled into thinking it's a high-energy resource that they need to eat a lot of. I think of it as unhealthy fast food for teenagers, and they are just stuffing themselves."
Kind of a bad analogy! Teenagers eating fast food are getting too much to eat and getting fat. Fish eating micro-plastic are getting no nutrition at all and forgoing actual food. If there's any kind of decent analogy to be found, I'd like to know why they don't try to make some plastic concoction for us people to eat that we'll find more enticing and satisfying than food. Then we could lose weight. 

Anti-Trump protesters surround one woman and throw eggs at her head and watermelon straight into her face.

Yells of "Fuck you!" are heard, along with vuvuzelas and chants of "Trump go home!"

And there's more video and other reports in the Twitter feed of ABC's Tom Llamas (who's the reporter Trump called a "sleaze"). Two that have video: "Outside Trump rally protestors chased down this kid and tackled him" and "Our video of Trump supporter who says he was beaten up coming out of @realDonaldTrump rally." And, from another ABC reporter: "One more-- the moment lone Trump supporter tried to stand her ground. Had her sign ripped up, glasses snatched."

No matter how hostile the press may be to Trump, violence like this is going to get photographed and will become viral. What idiots these protesters are (and how unfair they are to nonviolent Trump opponents).

Here's the NBC report: "Donald Trump supporters were mobbed and assaulted by protesters on Thursday night after the candidate's campaign rally in California."
Some Trump supporters were punched. One woman wearing a "Trump" jersey was cornered, spit at, and pelted with eggs and water bottles. Police held back at first but eventually moved in....

Lan Hoang said anti-Trump protesters stole his "Make America Great Again" hat off of his head and set it on fire as he was leaving the rally. The 24-year-old said he saw "a lot" of Trump supporters get attacked on the walk back to his car after the rally.

Protesters also smashed cars in a nearby parking structure and surrounded and taunted an elderly couple, according to Steve Tong. "It was unbelievable," he told NBC Bay Area. "I've never seen anything like that in America before."
From the Buzzfeed report (which has more video, including the burning of an American flag):
In at least two instances Trump supporters engaged with protesters, chanting “Donald Trump” and walking directly into the thickest, most angry portions of the protests. But things quickly spiraled, and rallygoers simply trying to get back to their cars were chased down and beaten — often at the feet of San Jose Police, who stood by motionless....

A police source told BuzzFeed News that officers were under orders to not break ranks, and that while “nobody wants to see somebody beaten… we had a global plan.” The source added that the department did not want officers to step in for several reasons, notably out of fear for individual officers’ safety, as well as concerns that breaking up a fight may end up escalating the violence....

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Clinton supporter, praised the police... “At some point Donald Trump needs to take responsibility for the irresponsible behavior of his campaign”....
Incredible. Liccardo isn't some small-town naif. This is San Jose, and Liccardo is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

ADDED: I'm having flashbacks to the Wisconsin protests of 2011, which were big and rowdy but did not have this kind of violence. You felt a threatening atmosphere, because there were so many people, so angry, and so seemingly irrational with all the drum-beating and chanting. It's amazing really, that they were able to create such a big drama, with the feeling of a revolutionary uprising, without cracking up into violence.

In any case, those protests looked unruly and anti-democratic from the outside, and the Wisconsin protesters did not have good awareness of the effect they were having on the mind of the electorate in general. Their target, Governor Scott Walker, survived a recall election and then got reelected.

Now, these anti-Trump protesters are much worse than the Wisconsin protesters. They have devolved into outright violence, including mob attacks on lone individuals. We shall see what effect they have. I'd say they undercut the argument that Trump is a horrible brute, and by intensifying the desire for order, they strengthen support for the strongman that Trump seems to be.

Yamato Tanooka — the boy whose parents left him in the woods as a punishment — is found safe and alive after 7 days.

"Yamato's parents had briefly left him by a wooded road near Nanae in Hokkaido region to punish him for throwing rocks on a family day out. When they went back minutes later he had gone. He was dressed in only a T-shirt and jeans, in an area where temperatures can dip as low as 9C at night."

How did he survive?
He was discovered at a military base on Friday, about 5.5km (3.4 miles) from where he went missing last Saturday. The site had allegedly already been searched on Monday morning, but the boy was not found... The search team comprised of 180 people and search dogs. The soldier who found Tanooka had not been part of any previous rescue efforts, AP reports. Yamato told police he had walked to the military base by himself soon after his parents left him. "I drank water to get by," he reportedly said. "There wasn't anything to eat." He slept on mattresses spread on the hut floor.
There doesn't seem to be any talk about taking the child away from the parents, who have been effusively apologizing: 
"My excessive act forced my son to have a painful time... I deeply apologise to people at his school, people in the rescue operation, and everybody for causing them trouble. I have poured all my love into my son, but from now on, I would want to do more, together with him. I would like to protect him while he grows up. Thank you very much."
Initially, the parents had said that the boy had just got lost as they were walking in the woods, but later the father admitted that they'd made the boy get out of the car and they drove away. He'd withheld the true story because of sekentei— which means how one is seen in society. During the days of the search, there was a great deal of talk in Japan about what the parents had done:

June 2, 2016

Paul Ryan declares his support for Trump.

"Through these conversations, I feel confident he would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives. That’s why I’ll be voting for him this fall. It’s no secret that he and I have our differences,. I won’t pretend otherwise. And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement."

Wrote Ryan.

Trump's response: "I’m very pleased. I have a good relationship with him actually. He was taken a little bit by storm because my situation was supposed to go the convention.”

Top comments at the NYT: "This endorsement alone should disqualify Ryan from ever being considered for POTUS. It's absolutely reckless...."/"I can smell your soul rotting from here, Mr. Ryan."/"I have a strong desire to follow Mr. Ryan through the streets of Washington, periodically ringing a bell and shouting: "Shame! Shame!"

"So, how did President Obama do on the job? Was he a good president?"

"If you have an answer in your head – either yes or no – it proves you don’t know how to make decisions. No judgement can be made about Obama’s performance because there is nothing to which it can be compared. No one else in a parallel universe was president at the same time, doing different things and getting different results."

Writes Scott Adams, discussing the question "What exactly is the risk of a Trump presidency?"

"This is a president who doesn’t have a clue.... If he campaigns, that means I’m allowed to hit him, just like I hit Bill Clinton. I guess. Right?"

"If he doesn't, I don't care. But if he campaigns, and I think he wants to...."

Said Donald Trump.

"Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?"

"James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that."

A Q&A from 2013 that's the subject of "It wasn’t a ‘glitch’: State Department deliberately cut embarrassing questions from press briefing video." (Link goes to The Washington Post.)

"I laughed out loud... when I heard Trump interrupt his press conference to tag an ABC reporter as 'a sleaze'—at which I am sure thousands of other radio listeners heartily cheered."

"It’s been a long time since any major politician had the chutzpah to tell the arrogant, double-dealing East Coast media what most of the country thinks about them."

Said Camille Paglia.
Trump’s boisterous, uncensored id makes a riveting contrast to Hillary’s plodding, joyless superego. Listening to her leaden attempts to tell rehearsed jokes is collective torture.... Trump is a stormily dynamic change-maker who will surely win this election unless the Democrats get their house in order and nominate a figure of honor and integrity. Bernie Sanders, who represents the wave of the future, is my first choice, but Joe Biden, with his international experience, would be a solid second. If the kamikaze party wants to nominate an ethically challenged incompetent like Hillary Clinton, then I’ll be voting Green for the second time.

"If we turn against each other based on divisions of race or religion, if we fall for a bunch of 'okey-doke,' just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we're not going to build on the progress we started."

Said President Obama, doing a rally at Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana.

Here's the video of it, which is at the top of Drudge right now with the headling "TRUMP TURNS OBAMA INTO STUTTERING MESS":

He does get hung up on the word "if," repeating it perhaps 10 times.

But I want to concentrate on "okey-doke." I knew I had an old post on that subject. Yes, here, from November 2014:
On "Meet the Press" this morning, Chuck Todd was talking to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, and he presented one of those amazing Jonathan Gruber clips like this: "This is how Gruber explained taxing high-end Cadillac health insurance plans and sort of doing a little 'okey-doke.'"

I had never heard "okey-doke" used like that. I only knew "okey-doke" as a cute/corny way to say "okay." I Googled and got to Ice Cube's "Don't Fade Me": "I don't fall for the okey-doke/And before I fall for the okey-doke/I let the pistol smoke." Rap Genius explains: "'Okey doke' is slang for pulling a trick on someone. Cube would rather commit murder than take care of a baby that isn’t his because the girl lied to him."

I read all the lyrics. They're pretty evil....
ADDED: Obama's style of stuttering is highly reminiscent of William F. Buckley. I think it's what happens when a man with a will to dominate feels feels utterly relaxed and confident and is enjoying the game.

The richest self-made female in America has her $4.5 billion fortune reevaluated and it's $0.

"[Elizabeth] Holmes’s unusual status, as a young woman who created and controlled a company seemingly valued at about $9 billion, captivated the media: She graced countless magazine covers, including T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Theranos, she said, would revolutionize the lab industry by offering blood tests from a single finger prick at a fraction of the cost of traditional testing...."

From "Elizabeth Holmes, Founder of Theranos, Falls From Highest Perch Off Forbes List."

Here's a New Yorker article from December 2014: "Blood, Simpler/One woman’s drive to upend medical testing." Excerpt:
Holmes told the audience that blood testing can be done more quickly, conveniently, and inexpensively, and that lives can be saved as a consequence. She was wearing her daily uniform—a black suit and a black cotton turtleneck, reminiscent of Steve Jobs—and had pinned her hair into an unruly bun. As she spoke, she paced slowly, her eyes rarely blinking, her hands clasped at her waist. Holmes started Theranos in 2003, when she was nineteen...

The TEDMED crowd listened intently as she spelled out what she sees as the shortcomings of the existing blood-testing business. The tests are too costly, are available at inconvenient times or places, and involve unpleasant syringes. Holmes has an aversion to needles, and her mother and her grandmother fainted at the sight of them and at the sight of blood. Recently, she told me, “I really believe that if we were from a foreign planet and we were sitting here and said, ‘O.K., let’s brainstorm on torture experiments,’ the concept of sticking a needle into someone and sucking blood out slowly, while the person watches, probably qualifies.”

A WaPo article cites Trump's "racially tinged attacks on federal judge" — but what's supposed to be "racially tinged"?

The words quoted above are in the headline and then also in the heated first sentence (written by Jose A. DelReal and Katie Zezima):
Donald Trump’s highly personal, racially tinged attacks on a federal judge overseeing a pair of lawsuits against him have set off a wave of alarm among legal experts, who worry that the ­Republican presidential candidate’s vendetta signals a remarkable disregard for judicial independence.
First, will WaPo commit to the general principle that to criticize the judge in your case is to disregard judicial independence? Someone has a PR problem when they are sued, are they not supposed to speak about it? Can they not complain that the judge doesn't like them? It seems unremarkable to me. The only thing remarkable is how vividly and boldly Trump phrases his complaints. Would WaPo like to argue for a special rule for those who speak effectively?

But what really bothers me is accusing Trump of making "racially tinged attacks on [a] federal judge" while highlighting relevant quote. It's especially... remarkable... given that everything around the part I want to read is quoted verbatim in paragraphs 4 and 5:
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said at a campaign rally in San Diego, adding that he believed the Indiana-born judge was “Mexican.”

He also suggested taking action against the judge after the election: “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Okay? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. Okay. This is called life, folks.”
You have to go all the way to paragraph 16 to find the text of the quote about the judge's ethnicity:
"The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, okay?"
Yes, there's something crude or ignorant about referring to Mexican-Americans as "Mexicans," but "Mexican" isn't an insult, especially when it's followed with "which is great" and "I think that’s fine" and a digression into why Mexican-Americans ought to love him. Moreover, "Mexican" is not a race, so it's crude or ignorant for WaPo to call this "racially tinged."

WaPo's full headline is "Trump’s personal, racially tinged attacks on federal judge alarm legal experts." Who are these "legal experts" and what, exactly, is alarming them? I'm sure there are thousands of legal experts who are alarmed about Trump, but let's see whom WaPo got to give quotes. First, there's the lawprof Arthur Hellman, but I don't see "alarm" in what he says and I don't see anything about race (or ethnicity):
“Having a presidential candidate embroiled in litigation totally unrelated to the political system . . . that is what is so novel about this. And then you add to this the personal criticism,” said Arthur Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s personal all the way, and that’s what makes this different.”
There follow 4 paragraphs of material not attributed to Hellman, ending with what, perhaps, the WaPo reporters were trying to get Hellman to say: "Trump’s attacks on [Judge] Curiel stand out for their personal nature, for the racial remarks and for the suggestion by a potential president that someone 'ought to look into' the judge." The only part of that connected to Hellman is "personal" and definitely not "racial."

Next, we get the lawprof Charles Gardner Geyh, who's at Indiana’s Maurer School of Law:
[Geyh] said he has no problem with presidents or presidential candidates criticizing judges or judicial decisions. But, he said, “there’s a line between disagreement and sort of throwing the judiciary under the bus that I think is at issue here.”
Geyh doesn't sound alarmed. He sounds sober and noncommittal. He — quite properly, I think — approves of candidates criticizing judges. He also notes a "line" and an "issue." That is, he doesn't tell us exactly what the line is and doesn't say whether Trump has crossed it. He's only saying that we're talking about whether Trump has crossed some line beyond what's acceptable in the criticism of judges. Where's the alarm?!

This article has a terrible headline. And yet I see it is #1 on WaPo "Most Read" list in the side bar. The headline is clickbait — truly reprehensible clickbait.

It makes me want to quote Trump (from his press conference the other day): "The press is so dishonest and so unfair.... [T]he political press is among the most dishonest people I've ever met...."

"The German Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a symbolic but fraught resolution on Thursday declaring the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide..."

"... a move that strains relations with Turkey at a time when the European Union urgently needs its help in managing the migrant crisis."

Response from Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim: "As they see it, they are trying to keep us responsible for the incidents in 1915.... Sometimes countries we know as friends come up with brilliant ideas for distraction when they feel desperate in domestic politics."

"I think we’re doing an abominable job of listening to men and boys who have been raped."

"When we notice their existence at all — which is a rare thing — we’re extremely prone to talk over them and to redefine their experience for them. We need more research that’s victim-centered. Our current understanding of what that experience involves is obtained from the crudest possible stereotypes, principally Hollywood films like 'Deliverance' or 'The Shawshank Redemption.' It’s not merely because men and boys are not speaking about it. The question worth asking is: What needs to be done that would make them feel safe in disclosing their experience? Second, we need somewhere for men and boys to go when this has happened to them.... Third, we need an integrated approach to the whole problem of sexual violence.... We can talk about the gendered aspects certainly, but in my view, the fight against sexual violence in all its aspects is a single fight that ought to unite people of all genders and sexual orientations. The basic elements are fundamentally the same."

Said Raymond M. Douglas, author of “On Being Raped.” Douglas, who is now a history professor at Colgate University, was raped by his parish priest 30+ years ago when he was 18.

"He’s standing up and he’s aiming, just like the good old days."

Says Dr. Dicken Ko, about his patient Thomas Manning, who received the first penis transplant in the United States. The operation has been a success, achieving its "two main objectives: to restore normal-looking genitals and urinary function."

June 1, 2016

"Cory Booker laces into Trump in VP tryout."

Headline at The Hill.

What did Booker say? Let's see:
“The issues we hear Donald Trump talking about are just so contrary to who we are as a people.... They are an affront and an insult to our higher angels and our best selves... We have Abraham Lincoln saying, ‘with malice towards none’ and Donald Trump saying ‘with hate for all.’ ”
Wait. That has malice for Trump, so... seems internally contradictory.... But worse than that, Trump hasn't been expressing hate for all. It's just not a true characterization. So I don't see how this kind of attack can work against Trump, who, I would guess, could very easily flip this against Booker. It's demagoguery. How can that work?

Booker presented Clinton, who appeared at the event, as the compassionate counterpoint to Trump. “I have never stood for a presidential candidate I have more confidence in, reverence for and love towards... This is a person who has gone above and beyond herself for making this a better country. I’ve stood with this woman all over this country now and I’ve seen the way she talks to folks. She looks at them and says, ‘we will rise.’ ”
By the way, the top rated comment over there is about the photograph: "Is that Velma of Scooby Doo fame sitting front and center in the photo above?"

That reminds me: Remember Hillary's Scooby van? That was April 2015 — so long ago. In a vehicle  called the "Scooby van," Hillary took off on what TIME magazine called a "1,000-mile gambit... designed to help reinforce Clinton’s efforts to put a more down-to-earth spin on her campaign." Does Hillary do anything these days to try to seem "down-to-earth"? Is anything cute in that "Scooby" fashion anymore? I think not.

Resolution of the falling-branch drama.

Previously posted: When will the branch fall? I invited you to speculate. That was May 28th. The branch stayed attached, and the arborist arrived today and — with permission — I took these pictures of his elaborate work:



"Riffing on Adolf Hitler’s early efforts to become a painter, plus a report that the Führer had loved Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs..."

"... this dire mockumentary purports to tell the secret history of the Nazi regime, with World War II more or less an afterthought to Hitler’s passion project: a four-hour, animated Die Nibelungen starring a cartoon duck."

From "What the hell was Bill Plympton thinking with Hitler’s Folly?" at A.V. Club.

Liriodendron tulipifera.


"The large, brilliant flowers are pale green or yellow with an orange or red band on the petals, they are very similar to the tulip, hence the common name of tulip tree...."

Photo is by Meade, texted to me yesterday from somewhere in the neighborhood.

"One thing to understand about Trump is that, rather unexpectedly, he's neither angry nor combative."

"He may be the most threatening and frightening and menacing presidential candidate in modern life, and yet, in person he's almost soothing.... If onstage he calls people names, more privately he has only good, embracing things to say about almost everybody. (For most public people I know, it is the opposite.) He loves everybody. Genuinely seems to love everybody — at least everybody who's rich and successful (he doesn't really talk about anyone who isn't). Expressing love for everybody, for most of us, would clearly seem to be an act. But with Trump, it's the name-calling and bluster that might be the act. I offer that there are quite a number of people in New York, some we know in common, who are puzzled that the generous, eager-to-be-liked and liking-everyone-in-return Donald has morphed into a snarling and reactionary public enemy, at least a liberal enemy. This, I suggest, might be a source of the continuing dialectic — or to some, wishful thinking — that he does not necessarily believe what he says."

From "The Donald Trump Conversation: Politics' "Dark Heart" Is Having the Best Time Anyone's Ever Had," by Michael Wolff in The Hollywood Reporter.

Also interesting: Trump has a refrigerator in his Beverly Hills home that has nothing in it but bottled water and pints of Haagen Dazs... and Trump eats a whole pint of vanilla at 11 p.m. and tells Wolff not to put his water bottle on the fabric ottoman.

"[O]ne way to better understand the intensity of Trump’s appeal is by looking at something called 'psychological reactance.'"

That's "the feeling you get when people try to stop you from doing something you’ve been doing, and you perceive that they have no right or justification for stopping you. So you redouble your efforts and do it even more, just to show that you don’t accept their domination. Men in particular are concerned to show that they do not accept domination."

Blind man sues McDonald's for its no-pedestrians-at-the-drive-thru policy.

He can't drive because he's blind, so he's arguing that a policy enforced against all pedestrians at the drive-thru window is discriminating against him. Federal law requires reasonable accommodations for the disabled, and the restaurant has hours when there is only drive-thru service available, so the man isn't able to come inside to order.

"Asylum seekers 'sexually assaulted women at concert in Germany."'

"Three Pakistani men are already under arrest after 18 women filed complaints that they had been improperly touched, fondled and groped during the festival in the city of Darmstadt. Police have said the number of complainants could rise."

The haboob in Texas.

Texans object to the National Weather Service's use of an Arabic-derived word for sandstorm.
Haboob!?! I’m a Texan. Not a foreigner from Iraq or Afghanistan. They might have haboobs but around here in the Panhandle of TEXAS, we have Dust Storms. So would you mind stating it that way. I’ll find another weather service.

"Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch."

Said Rodrigo Duterte, president-elect of the Philippines.
The Philippines is one of the most dangerous nations in the world for journalists, with 176 murdered since a chaotic and corruption-plagued democracy replaced the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago....

"Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won't be killed if you don't do anything wrong," said Duterte... "If you are an upright journalist, nothing will happen to you... The example here is Pala. I do not want to diminish his memory but he was a rotten son of a bitch. He deserved it."

Clinton's 4-point lead over Trump shrinks to a 2-point lead when Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are included in the poll.

The just-released Quinnipiac poll — PDF.

Why doesn't Hillary Clinton ever do a press conference?

Jake Tapper questioned her (after Donald Trump's big press conference yesterday): "You do interviews, and you are calling in right now --we appreciate that-- but it has been pointed out to me that it has been something like five or six months since you have given an actual press conference. Is that something you're going to remedy soon?"

She gave an evasive, garbled answer (replete with laughing, which you can hear in the video clip below): "Oh I'm sure we will, look. I was shocked myself that I've done nearly 300 interviews... But I believe that we do, and we should answer questions, of course I am going to. Many, many different times."

There's an interesting Freudian slip in that video. Hillary is talking about how Trump is "attacking everybody" and "that is a recipe for gridlock in Washington and that's what we've got to break and get away with."

Get away with? Obviously, she meant to say get away from. Why did with intrude itself? [ADDED: The obvious guess is that she often thinks of getting away with things.]

And after Trump had received so much screen time, why did she just do a call-in interview — a call-in interview with bad audio? There's already an issue with her voice. It sounds raspy and makes her seem old or unhealthy and, frankly, brings out the misogyny in some people. Why don't they have the very best audio equipment for her — something that is not only perfectly clear but that sweetens the sound of her voice?

40 frozen tiger cubs found in a freezer at the Tiger Temple in Bangkok, where tourists get to interact with tigers.

The NYT reports.
The discovery came as Thai wildlife rangers were removing adult tigers from the temple in an effort to shut down the attraction after receiving complaints that the temple was trafficking in endangered species.... Tiger parts, while illegal to sell, are in high demand in Asia, particularly China, for use in traditional medicine....

The wildlife agency has been trying for months to shut down the Tiger Temple’s zoo. The temple has promoted itself as a spiritual center where people and tigers lived in harmony, and it has charged tourists as much as $140 apiece for the chance to bathe, hand-feed and play with the tigers.
Here's a slide show of tigers at the Temple. Captions: "Tigers cooled off in a pool at the Tiger Temple, an attraction in western Thailand that officials promote as a place where animals coexist with humans in Buddhist harmony. Conservationists accuse the temple of abuse and exploitation." "A monk accompanied tourists and staff members on a walk with one of the tigers. About 15 monks live on the grounds and have little to do with the tigers beyond occasionally posing with them for tourists." "A staff member taking photos for tourists. A standard ticket, which costs about $17, entitles a visitor to walk a leashed tiger and pose with a chained tiger."

From an earlier article (last month):

"I want to tell that lady as well, can you stop filming me with a video camera? Because I’m really here in real life..."

"... you can enjoy it in real life, rather than through your camera. Can you take your tripod down?... This isn’t a DVD, this is a real show, and I would really like you to enjoy my show because there’s lots of people outside that couldn’t come in."

Said Adele.

There are 2 aspects to her logic, compelling in radically different ways:

1. Life should be experienced directly, and not through an electronic device. Be here now!

2. You are the fortunate ones, who got into this place, and if there's video of the concert, the excluded ones will have something of the feeling of being in here. Preserve the exclusiveness: Don't let the masses see what is yours!

Hillary says Trump had to be shamed into giving the money he bragged about to charity, while she, "of course," is responsible for "hundreds of millions of dollars" going to veterans.

She said:
I think the problem here is the difference between what Donald Trump says and what Donald Trump does. You know, he's bragged for months about raising $6 million dollars for veterans, and donating a million dollars himself, but it took a reporter to shame him into actually making his contribution, and getting money to veterans’ groups. I, of course, over the course of my life, I've not only donated personally, but I've worked to provide hundreds of millions of dollars over time to help our veterans by what I voted for, what I've worked for.
1. That word, shame.

2. She says "of course" as if we're familiar with her charitable contributions and charitable channeling toward veterans, but I don't know the details. Is the "of course" supposed to foreclose investigation, as if the facts about her are all already so very well known, since she is — of course! — the most vetted candidate for President who ever existed?

3. Vetted.  That word.

4. Since Hillary invited the comparison and made it central to a pointed attack on Trump — you don't have to attack a person over their charitable giving — the press should lay out the comparison for us. How much has Hillary Clinton "donated personally" to veterans groups and how, exactly, has she "worked to provide hundreds of millions of dollars over time to help our veterans by what I voted for"? Does she simply mean that as a Senator she voted for lots of appropriations of government money? And then, on her own, she's made some personal donations? How much?

5. How did Trump get everyone attacking him for making charitable contributions to veterans? It's so weird. And to be talking about shaming him about it... so very weird. Have we all lost our minds? Idea for anti-Trumpites: Trump is dangerous because of his strange power to make other people lose their mind.

6. Perhaps the press — in its dedication to helping Hillary — is luring her into saying things like this quote I'm focusing on. They make her too comfortable. Now, virtually all reporters will try to create a sense of comfort to get an interviewee to open up, and any sophisticated person should be wary, but Hillary knows they support her and want to help her, which makes her vulnerable, despite her intelligence and long experience, to saying things that really can be used against her.

7. Trump, by contrast, knows the press doesn't like him, and he's well-guarded. That irritates them and may lure them into saying too much, especially since they stick together in a like-minded group that's steeping in Trump-hate. Did you watch CNN yesterday afternoon? I did. The talking heads were chattering nonsense about Trump's press conference. They got each other going, as if they were in some therapy group. But it was on television. Television is not your safe space!

May 31, 2016

Storm moving in.


Today, on University Avenue, at about 11 a.m.

I got out my camera because I didn't think I'd ever seen a dark line through the clouds like that. It almost looks like a photo of the lake, but that's all sky above the buildings.

Politico headline that makes no sense: "Reporter asks Trump about Cincinnati gorilla, is shamed."

I watched the whole Trump press conference, and it did include plenty of attacks on the press, but I absolutely do not see how Trump can be said to have "shamed" the reporter who asked about the killing of the gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo. Trump treated the question as an appropriate question for a presidential candidate and gave a serious, thoughtful answer:
"It was amazing because there were moments with the gorilla, the way he held that child, it was almost like a mother holding a baby. Looked so beautiful and calm and there were moments where it looked pretty dangerous.... I don't think they had a choice. I mean, probably they didn't have a choice. You have a child, a young child who is at stake, and, you know, it's too bad there wasn't another way. I thought it was so beautiful to watch that, you know, powerful, almost 500-pound gorilla, the way he dealt with that little boy, but it just takes one second. It's one second. It's not like it takes place over, well, he's going to do it in 30 seconds from now. It just takes one little flick of his finger, and I will tell you they probably had no choice."
Oh, I see. Boy, that headline threw me off. It wasn't Trump who shamed the reporter. The reporter, whose name is Hunter Walker, was shamed by other reporters. A Politico reporter, Edward-Isaac Dovere, said: "If you are looking for what's wrong with political journalism, this would be a good place to start." And a Wall Street Journal reporter, Reid J. Epstein, tweeted: "Whoever asked about the gorilla should meet the same fate as the gorilla." That is, Epstein said Walker should be shot to death. Incredible.

ADDED: I wondered whether Epstein is one of these characters who bemoan the decline of civility in politics. I found this of his from last August:
Donald Trump is turning the schoolyard taunt into a political art form.... [T]he intensely personal nature of Mr. Trump’s insults, sometimes mocking his rivals by mimicking them, is startling even to those who have grown accustomed to the sometimes low levels of civility in politics today.... So far, Mr. Trump seems to be paying no political price, so there is little incentive to ease up. But his critics say he is debasing the political discourse in an unprecedented fashion....
Sounds like maybe Epstein admires the aggressive rhetoric, so I'm not going to call him a hypocrite.

Does Simon Cowell see Donald Trump as a reality TV show judge?

The NYT asks a great question:
You basically created the role of the blunt-speaking judge on competition shows. A couple of years after you did it, Donald Trump did it on “The Apprentice” on NBC. When you see him campaigning, do you see a reality TV show judge?
He gives an answer, but it's not quite an answer to the question asked:
People are always drawn to people who speak bluntly. Whether you agree or disagree, you listen. You see the same thing with Bernie Sanders. The guy’s in his early 70s and every teenage kid is listening to him. I think Donald Trump understood when you’re on TV you have a tremendous platform. We all recognized that years ago... I always understood the significance — and still do now — the power of television. Nothing can compete with that.
Cowell is implicitly saying that his work on "American Idol" proved something that Trump either picked up and used or proved for himself. We learned that Americans are drawn to blunt speech. But is Trump campaigning in the persona of reality TV show judge? That was the question.

The answer was more: Blunt speech works — perhaps in many different situations, one of which is reality show judge and another one is running for office. It all happens on TV and TV is powerful, but it blunt speech especially effective on television? Does the effectiveness of blunt speech on television signify that it's entertainment and a person using it should be looked upon as an entertainer?

Another way of looking at this is: Why do some people avoid blunt speech? What's their motivation and can avoidance of bluntness be effective in some other way — a way that works on TV?

This gets my "clear speech" tag — possibly my favorite tag.

Number of slaves in the world today: 45.8 million.

 According to the Walk Free Foundation. The number is up 28% in the last 2 years.
Unlike historical definitions of slavery in which people were held as legal property, a practice that has been universally outlawed, modern slavery is generally defined as human trafficking, forced labor, bondage from indebtedness, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.
According to this definition, even the United States has slaves — 57,700 (0.02% of the population).
[In the United States,] the most reported venues/industries for labour trafficking included domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales crews, restaurants/food service, and health and beauty services. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.

Anti-vegan protesters throw hunks of meat at patrons of the bohemian Kiwi Café in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"Witnesses writing on social media said that customers at the cafe, who were watching an animated science fiction sitcom called 'Rick and Morty,' felt intimidated by the men, who refused to leave. The cafe referred to the attackers, some of whom wore sausages around their necks, as anti-vegan 'extremists.”

The NYT reports, noting that "[t]hroughout Europe, vegan cafes have become synonymous with the counterculture."

From the café's Facebook page: “They pulled out some grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at us, and finally they started to smoke... They were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”

At the Hitting-the-Wall Café...


... what were you doing 500 million years ago?


"If Clinton wants to become the president of the United States, she needs to explain how she could make such a reckless decision."

Say the editors of USA Today, after detailing the 4 separate warnings Hillary ignored that her home-based email system was threat to national security.

I don't really understand what explanation is possible. She's already said it was a mistake. What we can see now is that she had to know she was doing something that threatened national security and yet she continued to do it. What explanation could make the facts appear any better? I can only think of explanations that would make it worse. So I assume we'll never hear more from her about this.

Does that mean the USA Today editors are saying Hillary doesn't deserve to be President? No. Look how they worded it — in terms of whether voters will accept her.

I got to that editorial via Instapundit, who quotes, "Clinton broke the rules" and says: "If by breaking the rules you mean committed a felony, then yes."

But the USA Today editors clearly refrain from opining about criminal law, presumably because the FBI is still working on that:
While Clinton is under potential criminal investigation by the FBI for the mishandling of classified material sent through her email.... It's already clear that, in using the private email server, Clinton broke the rules. Now it remains to be seen whether she also broke the law.
How can you be under a potential criminal investigation? That's an odd way to put it. Also, it's odd to make the distinction between breaking the rules and breaking the law. I'd like to ask Clinton to explain exactly what that means and whether, as President, she plans to insure that we all get the advantage of the rules/law distinction.

Why those who think climate change is a terrible threat should hope Trump wins the presidency.

Scott Adams makes some incredibly clever and possibly even correct points: 1. Trump may say he thinks climate change is a hoax, but he's saying things now for the purpose of getting elected, not because he thinks they are actually true, 2. Trump, concentrating on the task before him, getting elected, hasn't really thought through the problem and therefore has no real opinion on the subject, 3. If and when he gets elected, he'll use appropriate experts to get up to speed on the subject, 4. The theater of figuring it all out will be performed in front of the people, with the climate-change doubters paying special attention and (many of them) trusting their man Trump, 5. If Trump determines that climate change is real, he's the one person who can bring along the people who now think it's a hoax.

Adams also proposes that the theater of figuring it all out be a television show, "like Celebrity Apprentice, with advocates of both sides presenting to Trump on camera."
Trump isn’t claiming to know as much as a climate change scientist. He is staking out his brand as some sort of “common sense conservative.”...

If you think climate change is real, you probably love that idea of proving it in public. You want the world to know what you know. And if you think climate change is a hoax, you want a chance to show the world that you are right. And news organizations would eat it up. It would be a spectacle, and in the end, the public would be better-informed.
Adams is saying this is like Celebrity Apprentice, but it's also like Congress, with its tedious hearings, replete with testimony dragged down by politicians doing their prepped speeches. If the Chief Executive performed his function in public, that would create some competition for Congress and force Congress to improve the entertainment value of its horrible hearings.

It would be a spectacle, and in the end, the public would be better-informed.

"Kevin... placed his Burberry glasses on the floor beneath a placard describing the theme of the gallery."

"He said neither he nor TJ did anything to influence museum visitors, such as standing around and looking at the glasses. Within about three minutes, people appeared to be viewing their handiwork as bona fide art, though Kevin said that without his glasses, he could not see what was happening too well."

Art prank.

I say an art prank is art anyway, so what difference does it make?*

It's nice that some teenagers thought of doing this and pulled it off so quickly and elegantly, but we've seen things like this many times before, perhaps more commonly in the form of someone in a gallery staring at something that's not an artwork and causing others to regard the thing as art. I seem to remember reading about Salvador Dali doing something like that. And of course there are all the stories about some artwork being seen as trash and thrown out.


*The difference is, you're putting your art in someone else's gallery, without invitation. It's like hanging one of your own paintings on a museum wall. Or... that would damage the wall. It's like making a drawing on a Post-It note and sticking it up next to drawings in a museum.

ADDED: Back in 2011, Meade put his whole-body art in the Milwaukee Art Museum right next to the Duane Hanson sculpture, "Janitor":


May 30, 2016

Enjoying the green grass.




From yesterday's walk through the neighborhood.

"You can't legislate against human stupidity... This is a tragedy but it was avoidable... "

"You can only get there by ferry, and there are signs there saying watch out for the bloody crocodiles. If you go in swimming at 10 o'clock at night, you're going to get consumed.... Let's not start vendettas [against crocodiles]. People have to have some level of responsibility for their own actions."

Said an Australian member of Parliament about a woman who was killed by a crocodile. 

At the Greener Grass Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

The grass is greener in this Meade photo because the sun came out shortly after he took the green-grass photo that I posted 2 days ago, here.  There was a good deal of discussion about the lawn in the comments, and Meade did eventually come around and answer all the questions (the "Fiskars" in question is this thing):
Thanks, to everyone who said nice things.

David, I give it a dry fertilizer in the fall and a couple rounds of liquid fertilizer twice 3 weeks apart in the early spring after the first mowing. I only water lightly (and often) if I'm trying to get new seed to sprout. Otherwise, I stop mowing and let the lawn go dormant in July and August. I'm always humming some silly tune or another.

Left Bank, the Fiskars gets half an inch from the edge. So I bought the Fiskars stand-up grass shears and now I'm addicted to trimming along with mowing.

Paco, you are right — reel mowers are best for small lawns.

Ron, no catcher. The Fiskars throws the clippings forward where they get a second slicing, decompose, and then feed the soil biota.

Humperdink, Kubotas are great. Years ago, I used a Z series Kubota when I took care of 15 acres. But I don't think they made a 72" deck back then (in the 70s). I'm pretty sure it was 48". Yours is probably hydrostatic and zero-turn. Nice.

I've had a scythe identical to rhhardin's for 30 years. Great tool. Like most cutting tools, the primary thing is to keep it sharp. If I owned more than 1/2 acre of lawn, I'd use a scythe like he does or more likely a combination of scythe and a reel mower.

"Gary Johnson and William Weld are fake libertarians"... but isn't that just perfect for 2016?

I'm seeing that a lot of people are reading a RedState article, "Gary Johnson and William Weld are fake libertarians miseducating the public."
I can’t support Johnson because his role as a minor party candidate is not necessarily to win, but to be a spokesman for libertarian principles. As a libertarian myself, I certainly want more Americans to hear and understand the libertarian philosophy....
It seems to me that this is the year for party insiders to get burned by someone who's dropping in to take over their structure and ballot access.

If the RedState diarist — southernconstitutionalist — is correct, it puts Johnson in the same category as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

This is the essence of 2016.

"[O]ver the weekend I privately tested my claim that I could persuade an angry Trump-hater to become a Trump supporter in one hour."

"It turns out that I was wrong. It only took ten minutes."

Says Scott Adams — at the end of a post about his appearance on the Bill Maher show. He also says: "Some of you will say I persuaded him on the show to see the Clinton campaign as doomed. Did you see a turn?" Answer: yes.

ADDED: In case you're interested, here's Trump's entire "Rolling Thunder" event, with Trump arriving at 44:07:

Summer reading.

A slide show — open without a subscription — of many old New Yorker covers on the theme of summer reading.

1. Why is summer reading considered different from other reading? I remember when the idea was you finally had a lot of leisure time, so you'd read something big and long, like Doris in "Goodbye, Columbus":
2. Maybe it has to do with suntanning, that eminently passive outdoor activity. You're specifically not swimming, and you need something to do with your mind. Frankly, swimming can be boring — if you're doing lanes and racking up calories burned — and I would want a nice waterproof iPod with an audiobook.

3. I tend to walk on land as my main summer exercise, so I get by with my iPhone, and I like an audiobook of something long and historical. History goes with walking, because it's a progression in time and place, and I'm finally getting to the end of the fourth volume of Robert Caro's biography of LBJ and overlapping it with a history of ancient Rome. I still associate the path alongside Lake Mendota — after the summer of 2014 — with "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."

4. The best of the New Yorker covers is, I think, “Summer Adventures,” by Joost Swarte, from 2015. Do you agree? But I'm also fond of the very simple Sempé, just a woman lying on the face of the earth, looking into the clouds, which highlights the aspect of reading that is the part where you're not reading but thinking about what you have read (or is she just failing to read or forgetting what she's read?).

5. I like the 2007 cover “Big City Thrills,” by Adrian Tomine, even though it relies on a stereotype of New York tourists — boring, dumpy people with belly bags and frumpy shorts — because you can tell — though you can't see any words — the book the alienated girl is reading is "Franny & Zooey." The sightseeing bus is passing Radio City Music Hall, but it's "Catcher in the Rye," not "Franny & Zooey," where the main character goes to (and hates) Radio City. ("The Rockettes were kicking their heads off....")

5. I like that a little white dog — not the same breed — appears on the oldest cover (1937) and the 2014 cover.

6. The 2007 and the 2009 cover present an aesthetic issue I've been thinking about. When art depicts buildings (and other objects), you are — to some extent — displeased when things appear structurally unsound or gravity defying. In real life, any structure that's standing has taken proper account of reality, but you might nevertheless find it aesthetically displeasing if it looks unstable or liable to fall. That same standard carries over to works of art. This is only a general rule, and sometimes the defiance of gravity is delightful. I'm on the line as to what I think of the man climbing a stairway of books in the 2007 cover. Seems anti-book, no? The 2009 cover has a hammock attached to nothing and palm trees set in tiny flowerpots. That could annoy me, but I interpret it to mean that the woman is reading an escapist fantasy of some kind, an interpretation reinforced by the line of foliage at the bottom, which evokes the bottom edge of the well-known Rousseau painting "The Dream" (which may also explain the unnatural position of the figure).

7. When did summer reading change from big projects like "War and Peace" to escapist fare (or whatever it is now)? I googled "What kind of reading is summer reading?" and what I got was a lot of stuff about the importance of keeping children reading over the summer so they don't lose whatever ground they've gained over the school year. Why don't adults worry that they'll forget how to read if they don't keep forcing themselves through printed verbiage?

8. And yet you've come this far.

9. Good for you!

10. Lists should be 10 — don't you think? — for stability and an aesthetically pleasing sense of structure....

Memorial Day.

WAC with flag

May 29, 2016

"The university’s ideological tilt, combined with its intolerance, cannot but place higher education in an even more precarious place."

"After all, how long will taxpayers in red states be willing to subsidize universities that appear to be their ideological enemies? In a politically polarized nation, why subsidize the other side?"

Writes lawprof Jonathan Adler, citing Wisconsin politics specifically, quoted in a post by Instapundit, who also links to the post I wrote yesterday about why lawprofs can't/won't see the intellectual diversity problem.

I get the idea that there's pushback from the political sphere, especially here in Wisconsin, but I can't imagine how much political pushback there would need to be for my law school to acknowledge a need for more intellectual diversity in the form of more conservatives on the faculty.

The other day a student asked me, "Why are you the only conservative on the faculty?" I said, "But I'm not a conservative. I'm just someone who takes the conservative viewpoint seriously and thinks it deserves respect." 

"I don’t talk about his alcoholism, so why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism?”

Said Donald Trump, in an apt comeback after William Weld said that "I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest" ("that" being Trump's plan to deport the 11 million immigrants).

My calling Trump's comeback apt does not depend on whether Weld actually is an alcoholic. In fact, it works better — a lot better — if he's not. Here's a picture of him:

And, by the way, Weld did get the VP nomination from the Libertarians, but they had to go to a second ballot, and only with 50.57% of the vote, even after the presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, used his acceptance speech to beg the convention to select Weld.

"Are you 'disrupting' list ­making?.. So you’re democratizing lists..."

"When you provide a structure in the form of a list, there is, in a utopian way, a real chance to democratize the power of writing, by taking away what people are wrongly intimidated by...."

At the Allium Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Hillary's problem of "insularity and... arrogance" — "there was no one around her who was willing to tell her that she was wrong."

The quotes are from Ron Brownstein of "The Atlantic" in a panel discussion on today's "Face the Nation" about the inspector general's report on Hillary's email. The moderator, John Dickerson, had pointed to the finding that "When her staffers were asked about her private server system, they were told, do not ask about it again." Brownstein said:
BROWNSTEIN: That's what's the most troubling, I thought, in this report. I mean kind of the insularity and the arrogance. Not so much the specifics of the e-mails, but about the kind of leadership style and what it says about how you might be as president. I did a panel a couple of years ago when Jim Baker and George Mitchell were winning the Lifetime achievement Award from the National Academy of Public Administration, and they each said the same thing, the toughest thing was to find someone who could tell a president they were wrong. And what was -- what was -- what was, I thought, most apparent in this report was that there was no one around her who was willing to tell her that she was wrong. And when people tried to raise questions, they were told to be quiet. That is a -- that was ominous traits for a president.
But what about Trump? Are people around him able to tell him he's wrong? Peggy Noonan brought that up:
NOONAN: We talked about people around Hillary can't tell -- tell her the truth.... Who around Donald Trump says to him, boss, stop this, don't do that anymore, it's not nice?
Speaking of Noonan, she also said this:
NOONAN: When you look at the tape of Mrs. Clinton saying things about the e-mails that have been shown to not of them true in the IG thing, she has been -- I hate to say lied, but she has lied coolly and -- in a creamy, practiced way. It doesn't look good.
Creamy... I wrote that word down to search for in the transcript. Hillary lied in a coolly... creamy, practiced way.

ADDED: On the ABC show "This Week," Dianne Feinstein, the Hillary Clinton proxy, was confronted by Jonathan Karl:

Gary Johnson wins the Libertarian Party nomination.

Just now, on C-SPAN.

I'm very glad to see this. What a great alternative to Trump and Hillary.

"So no shorts at all for guys? Isn’t that a little extreme?"

"It’s a lot extreme, and let me tell you why: IT IS THE ONLY LANGUAGE YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. Look, there are plenty of places where shorts are acceptable for those of you who are no longer in grade to school to flash your uncovered legs: If you’re on the beach or the tennis court or at some other event in which you are expending physical energy shorts are not only appropriate but actively preferred. I might even see the argument that you can walk about in the city of a summer weekend (emphasis on weekend and additional emphasis on summer, since most of the people you’ll see then are tourists anyway and given how they are dressed anything short of assless chaps will still leave you more appropriately-attired) in an approved pair of legless trousers. But far too many of you seem to think it is perfectly fine to show up at work in cargo pants and the other abominations (half slacks, dude capris, and hotpants) that pass for legwear in our rapidly-crumbling society. You are the people who are ruining it for everyone else. You are the reason we have to say no to shorts."

I'm posting this, from The Awl, so you'll know I've seen it and won't need to send it to me.

And let me pluck out the embedded anti-travel issue. I don't know about this particular writer and I don't have a Venn diagram showing the proportions, but it seems to me that there's a lot of overlap between: 1. People who travel and promote travel as a very important part of a good life well-lived, and 2. People who are contemptuous of travelers who happen to visit their home town. You might say this isn't a contradiction, because it's perfectly rational and normal to like something for yourself that you don't want to be involved in giving to someone else. But so much of the pro-travel propaganda has to do with meeting and interacting with the people of a different place, so you'd think it should matter whether those people want to interact with you. And don't retreat to the position that those people want the money that travel brings to the local economy or I will have to proceed with my rape/prostitution analogy.

"1. Paul McCartney used to get his girlfriend's mother to comb his leg hair."

From "10 things we didn't know last week" at BBC.com.

"The boy climbed though a barrier and fell into a moat, where he was grabbed and dragged by the gorilla."

"The zoo said it took action to shoot the 400lb (180kg) gorilla as the situation was 'life-threatening.' The boy is expected to recover."

Video at the link. The gorilla doesn't appear to be attacking the boy.
"We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide."

Politico talks to "two of the geniuses" behind LBJ's presidential campaign ads to find out what Hillary could do to beat Trump.

To me, those old ads look primitive, emotional, and evocative in a way that's more like what Trump is putting up against Hillary, but maybe that's Politico's point. Hillary needs to reach down past reason and scare the bejeezus out of people.

Here's the Trump ad that I think most resembles the old LBJ ad with the daisy:

Here's the LBJ ad:

From the Politico article:
Sid: Instead of having Hillary just stand in front of the camera as a talking head, they should do what we did — really, just illustrate what Goldwater said. When he said the United States would be better off if we sawed off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea, we just illustrated that and showed how ridiculous that was. We had a hand come out of the water and saw off the Eastern Seaboard, which just crunches off and flows out. The image was so ridiculous that it just showed how ridiculous his thinking was.
Here's that ad:

The Libertarian Party picks its candidate today.

"Unlike the major party conventions later this summer where the nominees will likely be known well in advance, there's no telling who will come out on top of Sunday's Libertarian vote."

I hope they pick Gary Johnson. He's sensible enough to offer a real choice to the many, many people who are horrified at the choices we're getting from the 2 major parties.

But Austin Petersen is an attractive, articulate guy. If he could poll 15% and take the debate stage alongside Hillary and Trump, it would be a sight to behold.

Mary Matalin wrote a piece in National Review endorsing him. Why Petersen over Johnson?
Because Austin Petersen represents the best opportunity for a principle-based victory this November. Inasmuch as Petersen is a consistent advocate for constitutional government, the free-market economics of Friedman and Hayek, reverence for the dignity of universal human liberty (which necessarily includes unborn Americans), and a classical liberal understanding of the pursuit of happiness — not to mention his next-generation promise — he hits the political sweet spot for millions of fed-up Americans. He is skilled and ready to compete in our information-age political arena: Petersen is studied, thoughtful, curious, practical and personable — and capable of more than just delivering a clever quip. Most importantly, Petersen is principled.
But that's the problem. By "principled," she means ideologically hardcore, and that's fine for the fans, and that will be one more thing — after Hillary and Trump — for those of us who want something more normal to freak out about.

Here's Gary:

ADDED: Here's a Politico article about Johnson's VP pick, William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts: "Libertarian ‘dream ticket’ in peril as Weld bombs in Orlando/Party activists could reject the two-term Massachusetts governor as ‘Republican-lite.'"
Asked if his reception [at the convention] was worrisome, Weld told POLITICO, “I wouldn’t use the word worrisome, but I would say the convention is highly unpredictable. And having two former Republican governors who were successful in blue states — who knows — that could turn out to be a negative in the minds of delegates. Stranger things have happened.”
AND: Johnson wins the nomination.