June 18, 2016

In the weeds.


The butterfly weeds.

"During my first retreat, I wondered how... looking at a single flower for 45 minutes was even possible, let alone so gratifying."

"My thoughts — when I returned to the act of thinking about something rather than nothing — were fresher and more surprising. It is clear to me that this ancient meditative practice helps free the mind to have richer experiences of the present. Except when you are flying an F-16 aircraft or experiencing extreme fear or having an orgasm, your life leaves too much room for your mind to wander. As a result, only a small fraction of your mental capacity remains engaged in what is before it, and mind-wandering and ruminations become a tax on the quality of your life."

Says the neuroscientist Moshe Bar.




"With proof that #Bernie never even had a chance, I shall double down and vote #BernieOrBust in Nov. @TheDemocrats."

That's a tweet reacting to a memo in the hacked DNC files that — as the NY Post puts it — "appears to show the DNC coordinating with Hillary Clinton from the start of the presidential campaign — just as Bernie Sanders has claimed."
A document to the DNC dated May 26, 2015 — a month after Sanders kicked off his presidential bid — declared that “our goals & strategy” are to “provide a contrast between the GOP field and HRC.”...

The document, posted online by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” outlines ways to hit back at the GOP presidential field, such as “use specific hits to muddy the waters around ethics, transparency and campaign finance attacks on HRC.”
According to The Hill, the Post is doing the bidding of the RNC:
The Republican National Committee is promoting a report that accuses the Democratic Party of conspiring to nominate Hillary Clinton in the early days of the presidential primary. In an email, the RNC sent to reporters a story published by the New York Post about a document that purportedly shows the Democratic National Committee was strategizing to make Hillary Clinton president — and not a generic Democratic candidate — in the spring of 2015....

The RNC sent out the article in an email blast to reporters, highlighting a point in the report that the memo “appears to show the DNC working on behalf of Hillary Clinton from the start of the presidential campaign — just as Bernie Sanders has claimed.”...

The RNC push comes as Clinton and Sanders are in discussions after the end of the Democratic primary to unify the party.
I don't know if the DNC was promoting the report that the RNC is promoting the report that the DNC was promoting Hillary. So many layers, such loathsome, lazy media. I'm not sure who to hate the most. Oh, right: Donald Trump. 

The horror that was Lonelygirl15.

From the list of internet things I'd forgotten. Ugh! This was horrible. The saccharine fakeness within the larger problem of the world's creepy fascination with seeing a girl alone in her bedroom.

ADDED: Here's the post I wrote at the time the fakery of Lonelygirl was conceded, back in the summer of 2006:
Did you watch these videos? I watched the first one and thought it looked too well done and too conspicuously designed to appeal to people who were not me....
That's oddly written, creating the false implication that I did like it. I meant, of course, I didn't like it, but I also thought that other people couldn't like it.

Seen near Tampa: a fever of stingrays.

Okay, I accept that a group of stingrays is called a "fever," but it's not on Wikipedia's "list of English terms of venery... comprising terms from a tradition that arose in the Late Middle Ages, at least partly from the Book of Saint Albans of 1486." And that includes a hell of a lot of bizarre collective terms, like a bellowing of bullfinches, a busyness of ferrets, a flamboyance of flamingos, a deceit of lapwings, a murmuration of starlings, and a trip of wigeons — and I don't even know what widgeons are* — and a wisdom of wombats.

*Now, I do. They're dabbling ducks. Dabbling ducks are ducks that eat what's on the surface of the water.



The ancient notion that Hillary Clinton must become personal and purpose driven.

My standard checking of Drudge this morning got me over The Smoking Gun to read an article titled "DNC Financial Records Stolen By 'Guccifer 2.0'/Hacker swiped personal info on thousands of party backers." Scroll down a bit and you'll get to:
In a 2015 document, a branding expert recruited by the Clinton campaign advised that the candidate needed to employ “new authentic language that gets personal.” The memo notes that, “HRC...must move from Policy and Political to Personal and Purpose driven,” adding that the pivot represents the “start of the new ‘Personal and Purpose Driven’ phase of our messaging.” The document then lists an assortment of suggested speech passages.
Then, I was looking at my new photos, taken with a camera that had the date mistakenly set at 2015, so I ended up in photos from last June. For some reason, I'd taken a few photos of the computer monitor in mid-June of last year. There's one of Jeb Bush announcing that he's running for President. (Who could have imagined what a disaster that would turn out to be? Not only did he never get anywhere, he sucked up all the money, depriving others of a chance to get going, and then he spent it all in a way that was worse than if he'd just burned it.) And here's one of Hillary:

Ah, yes! Hillary started off as if she were following a branding expert's advice to use new authentic language that gets personal. (I love that word "authentic." If you can fake that, you've got it made.) Remember all the autobiographical material about her relationship with her mother? She was trying to be personal and "purpose driven" a year ago, but then the very same idea was reprocessed by a hired branding experts into what she needed to do for a pivot.

And what's with "purpose driven"? I associate that with Rick Warren and "The Purpose Driven Life." So 2008! Remember when the 2008 candidates — including Hillary — sat down for a long interview with Rick Warren at something called the "Compassion Forum"? And she was all:
"You know, I have, ever since I've been a little girl, felt the presence of God in my life. And it has been a gift of grace that has, for me, been incredibly sustaining. But, really, ever since I was a child, I have felt the enveloping support and love of God and I have had the experiences on many, many occasions where I felt like the holy spirit was there with me as I made a journey. It didn't have to be a hard time. You know, it could be taking a walk in the woods. It could be watching a sunset. You know, I am someone who has [been] talked a lot about my life. You know more about my life than you know about nearly anybody else's, about 60 books worth... some of which are, you know, frankly, a little bit off-base. But I don't think that I could have made my life's journey without being anchored in God's grace and without having that, you know, sense of forgiveness and unconditional love. And I am not going to point to one or another matter. I mean, some of my struggles and challenges have been extremely public. And I have talked about how I have been both guided and supported through those, trying to find my own way through, because, for me, my faith has given me the confidence to make decisions that were right for me, whether anybody else agreed with me or not. And it is just such a part of who I am and what I have lived through for so many years that trying to pull out and say, oh, I remember, I was sitting right there when I felt, you know, God's love embrace me, would be, I think, trivializing what has been an extraordinary sense of support and possibility that I have had with me my entire life."

June 17, 2016

Bee well-dusted with poppy pollen.


(Click to enlarge.)

Poppy 2.


Yes, I've been eating them for six or seven hours now/Haven't got sick once/Probably keep us both alive....




Stoughton Fair cancels pig wrestling event because of all the criticism and concern for the pigs — who might be physically or emotionally injured.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
In pig wrestling, people of all ages chase the animal around a muddy pen, trying to grab the slippery pig and place it on a barrel in the center of the ring before time expires. Pig wrestling has been a decades-long tradition at many fairs and similar events, drawing huge crowds of spectators.
So much for tradition! It was overcome by an online petition run by the Madison-based Alliance for Animals and the Environment. How does Madison wield such influence over Stoughton?

I thought the reason not to pig wrestle was: "You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." Now, we're asked to believe the pig doesn't like it?

"I'm in Jakarta right now, and was surprised, while driving in, to see a Trump ad on a billboard."

"'Donald Trump Birthday Celebration, All Items 50% + 10%, Make America Great Again' only 'America' was crossed out and "Malinda Customers" was written in (it was for a furniture company?)."

ADDED: Balfegor took a picture:

"Look!... You see! It falls in that way so you can see the movement.... It’s actually breathing."

Wow! Beautiful! I love Christo. Read about his "Floating Piers" — 3 miles of fabric connecting 2 islands in Italy.

"What a gorgeous day! What effulgent sunshine!"

Less close. Orient yourself.


The message is clear: Don't even try to understand.

It's the Japanese Donald Trump commercial:

ADDED: The artist, Mike Diva, is Mike Dahlquist, an American, born in California. This is not an actual Japanese commercial!
In June 2016, Diva's video Japanese Donald Trump Commercialトランプ2016 gained international attention, with some 8 million views on Facebook and almost 300,000 views on YouTube in its first 24 hours.... 
And it's not really pro-Trump, you know... I mean obviously... or is it??... nonobviously.

Nonobviously — the reasoning would be: It's so absurd and funny and at the point where you surrender yourself to the feeling that Trump is something to laugh about, you've lost your grip on what the anti-Trump forces most want you to cling to — simple Trump resistance. He's the unthinkable thought. This ad throws the mind into disarray, like a psychedelic drug. The stern warnings of NeverTrumpers may find no purchase on the gooey convolutions of your brain.

Garden closeup.


"After weeks of fighting, Iraqi forces entered central areas of Falluja on Friday, facing little resistance by the Islamic State...."

"The rapid, and unexpected, gains suggested a shift in tactics by the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, or perhaps a sign of their weakness, as they abandoned their dug-in positions and regrouped in western neighborhoods. That allowed thousands of civilians, which aid groups had said were being held as human shields, to flee across two bridges over the Euphrates River beginning on Thursday.... Tens of thousands of civilians have now fled Falluja since an offensive began late last month, and most have reached bare-bones camps that are running low on supplies.... The latest exodus of civilians has not only added to the grave humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding for weeks in Anbar Province, but it has also presented a serious security challenge to the Iraqi government’s ability to carry out security screenings of civilians so Islamic State militants are not able to escape by blending in with civilians.... But with so many people fleeing in recent days, the ability of the security forces to carry out adequate screening has been strained, raising concerns that militants are also escaping amid the flow of the civilian population...."

I added boldface to that text, which I selected from a NYT article titled "Iraqi Forces Enter Falluja, Encountering Little Fight From ISIS."

A rainbow Gadsden flag with the words "#ShootBack" appears all over West Hollywood in L.A.

"We are disturbed by them. We don’t believe in an eye for an eye, and we advocate against gun violence."

Said West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister.

"I understand the sentiment behind them and 1st Amendment rights, but it’s a bad message.... I hope it’s just people venting that they could do this, and I’m hoping their calmness will take over. It’s our job to keep you safe.... I understand that people want to fight back after Orlando... But there are ways to do that without a gun."

Said Capt. Holly Perez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood Station.

"[T]he best way to shoot back is to enact serious change to our gun policy.... We need an outright ban on all assault weapons and better protections to keep all guns away from bad people."

Said David Cooley, who owns the Abbey Food & Bar, which the L.A. Times calls "a well-known gay lounge" (and long-time readers of this blog may remember as the location of a meet-up with commenters in 2008).

I agree that it would be great to "keep all guns away from bad people," but where do you draw the good/bad line when it comes to human beings, how could the government figure out who goes on which side of that line, and how do you ensure that the government's process isn't an intrusion worse than any incremental improvement that could be achieved?

Here's the flag. Let's analyze it:

"Shoot back" refers to self-defense, and — despite Perez's "I’m hoping their calmness will take over" — it could be interpreted as already calm. The rattlesnake in the original Gadsden flag said "Don't tread on me." That is, I'm prepared to respond to an attack. Is there not calmness in knowing you are prepared?

Here's how the hashtag looks on Twitter. And that got me to this:
A street artist in Los Angeles who said he is a spokesman for the group responsible for the posters spoke exclusively to PJ Media on Thursday. Sabo, who was behind the tattooed "Blacklisted and Lovin' It" Ted Cruz posters that appeared in Hollywood back in 2014, said... "it's important that people know that this image came out of the gay community"... "Continuing to deny where the threat is coming from will not help keep this community safe.... The gay community needs to realize that the police are there to respond, not protect.... It is all of our responsibilities to be able to protect ourselves and our families. We can not do that if our elected officials disarm us"....

"Mr. Nadler, with thinning hair and an iced tea stain on his white polo shirt, was once something of a hippie, playing folk music in Central Park."

From a NYT article about this one guy, John Nadler, who happens to live in the Clinton's town, Chappaqua, but supports Donald Trump and "feels the full weight of his status as America’s loneliest supporter of Donald J. Trump."

We're told that Nadler grew up in the Bronx and "shuns the 'boootiques' of Chappaqua, but not the accent of his youth." That is, a man from the Bronx has a Bronx accent. Noted.

Nadler identifies with Trump a bit:
“He has exaggerated to compensate for people who don’t like him,” Mr. Nadler said. “I do that too.”
So this Nadler fellow... he's a human being.

From the Bronx-accented mouth of Nadler I get the news — first time I've noticed — of Donald Trump's IQ. It's 156.

Is it? I don't know but last night I had the weird experience of seeing that this professor of public policy at NYU who decided to write a ridiculously padded and nonsensical piece about me in The Washington Monthly — something about my failure to get in line and denounce Donald Trump like all decent commentators — wrote about my IQ: "Ann Althouse teaches law at the University of Wisconsin, which implies that her IQ must be above room temperature."

I was surprised to see that, because, as you know, Donald Trump has been accused of mocking the disabled, and the phrase "IQ...  above room temperature" is a reference to the mentally challenged, genuinely disabled people who are not properly the subject of humor. Moreover, IQ is a touchy subject in America, as a professor of public policy should know, and I thought decent people refrained from using IQ as their go-to basis of trashing other people. Ah, well, ironically, I'm supposed to join the Trump-hating crowd because of all the indecent things he's supposedly said.

So I identify a tad with Nadler. I'm not a Trump fan in Chappaqua, but I'm a Trump non-hater in academia.

"I like senators who don't get captured... by their own political correctness."

Said Meade in the comments to last night's post about John McCain saying something Trumpish about Obama and terrorism and then half-retracting it.

You know, McCain is getting primaried, and he's got a personal political interest in saying enough to ward off Kelli Ward without losing stature as a venerable, dignified, established Republican.

But if he can't do the calibration off-stage and deliver a message he'll stand by, it's going to be Mitt-Romney-in-the-second-debate humiliating. 

June 16, 2016

"Barack Obama is directly responsible for [the Orlando massacre] because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS."

"And ISIS became what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq, thinking that conflicts end just because we leave. So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies. Directly responsible because he pulled everybody out of Iraq. I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It’s a matter of record. So he is directly responsible."

Said John McCain.

It sounds like something Trump might say, but I don't think Trump would have backed down when there was criticism. Obviously, there would be criticism — outraged, furious criticism. You had to know that. But McCain, upon hearing the criticism claims he "misspoke." He puts out a written statement:
"I misspoke... I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself."
Is the President not responsible for his decisions? Or is he responsible for his decisions, and his decisions are responsible, and he is not his decisions? You'd think when putting out a written statement to set things right, you'd be careful about your words and try to make sense.

The reaction is what you'd expect. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said:
"I have a lot of respect for John McCain, he's an American war hero. But frankly that statement sounded a lot more like Donald Trump than John McCain and I wish he would just retract it in its entirety."
That's why Trump doesn't retract at all. Everyone's going to be tempted to talk like Trump, but I don't see how you do it, stir up the excitement, and then put out an "I misspoke" statement that tries to say the same thing in a softer, gentler fashion. You'll just be pushed until you take it back altogether.

Remember when Sarah Palin was excoriated for appropriating the phrase "blood libel"?

It was back in 2011: "Sarah Palin's 'blood libel' blunder/Her misappropriation of a phrase from the history of antisemitism in discussing the Giffords shooting is a staggering affront."

Now, check this out. NYU political science professor Mark Kleiman is using the term in the same way Palin did to attack Trump and — of all people — me: "Defending the Indefensible: Ann Althouse on Trump’s Blood Libel."

How embarrassing for Kleiman. He must be very mad. What's he mad about? Let's jump past the padding — is anyone amused by trite corn like "IQ... above room temperature" and "pundits gotta pund"? — to the 6th paragraph:
After lots of other commenters – but not Althouse – criticized Trump for that outrageous blood libel, Trump tried to defend himself by pointing to a Breitbart “news story” that points out what everyone knows: that some of the opposition to the hideous, genocidal Alawite regime in Syria headed by the Assad family consisted of Sunni extremists, some of them affiliated with al Qaeda or ISIS. Inevitably, then some of the military aid the U.S. gave the opposition wound up going to bad guys, which is why the Obama Administration had to draw back from a full-out attempt to get rid of Assad....
Okay, so Kleiman asserts that "everyone knows" our aid to the rebels went, in part, to al Qaeda and ISIS. That's a huge deal! But he's upset that Trump gave some air to the notion that Obama is not committed to American interests. Trump has been attacked for that insinuation.

What's he got against me? He quotes this of mine, which is criticism of the media:
It’s ridiculous that the media that support Hillary merely attack Trump for pointing at stories that suggest that Hillary/Obama had bad judgment, didn’t know what they were doing, or worse. The media have left the opening for Trump to take these easy shots, and now, when he does, they seem to think it’s enough to say Trump isn’t nice or Trump throws out inconclusive evidence and invites us to think for ourselves and ask questions.
Really, what is Kleiman so mad about? Maybe he's mad that he can't get his mind around what happened in the Middle East in the last few years. It's painful to think about. And it seems that he'd like everybody with any credibility — including me, because I'm a law professor — to direct all energies into Trump hating. But that's exactly what I resist. I don't even like Trump, but I hate the demand to hate him. That's not my beat. I'm looking at other things.

The effort to intimidate me into hating Trump provokes me into defending him. And he's less "indefensible" than your use of the term "blood libel," Mark.

June bloom.




Gawker publishes what seems to be the DNC's oppo file on Trump — hacked by the Russians...

... and forwarded to Gawker by "Guccifer 2.0."

It's a 200+-page document plus "a variety of donor registries and other strategy files, 'just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC’s network,' the purported hacker claimed over email, adding that he’s in possession of 'about 100 Gb of data including financial reports, donors’ lists, election programs, action plans against Republicans, personal mails, etc.'"
The enormous opposition document... appears to be a summary of the Democratic Party’s strategy for delegitimizing and undermining Trump’s presidential aspirations—at least as they existed at the end of last year.... A section titled “Top Narratives” describes a seven-pronged attack on Trump’s character and record.... “Trump has no core”... Trump is running a “divisive and offensive campaign”... Trump is a “bad businessman”... Trump espouses “dangerous & irresponsible policies”... Donald Trump is the “misogynist in chief”... Trump is an “out of touch” member of the elite...  Trump’s “personal life"....

It appears that virtually all of the claims are derived from published sources, as opposed to independent investigations or mere rumor. It’s also very light on anything that could be considered “dirt"....
Here's a second Gawker article, basically laughing at the weakness of the material, including the ludicrous problem that Trump has flip-flopped on Heaven.

You can read the whole dismal document at the first link, where there's also an update saying that the Trump campaign has taken the position that the DNC somehow hacked itself, deliberately putting this file out there as a distraction.

"Have Christians Created a Harmful Atmosphere for Gays?"

A post-Orlando question in The NYT.

Great question?
pollcode.com free polls

"There was a 'no swimming' sign. I thought it must be because the water wasn't clean enough and/or there was no on duty lifeguard."

"It never occurred to me until reading this story that I needed to be concerned about alligators. I am not from Florida and it never occurred to me. If I had been alerted to the danger by Disney, I would not have let my kids play on the shore. I am sure these parents would not have either."

Comment on "Divers Find Body of Toddler Snatched by Alligator at Disney Resort" by a person who stayed at Disney World recently with 2 little kids who "loved the beach there." ("They made sand castles, ran up and down the shore, pulled sea grass from the water and stuck their toes into the lagoon with the dozens of other children doing the same thing.") Somebody else says "Why put anything approximating a beach on it when the resort is well aware that it is murky, impossible to keep alligators out and your customer base is mostly families with small children?" And: "Wading is not swimming. If the danger was alligators, the sign should say so. You don't get no swimming signs in Lake Michigan when the danger is rip currents, the sign tells you there are rip currents. How can you expect some folks from Nebraska, hundreds of miles from Florida, to understand that no swimming really means you might be attacked by an alligator?"

"Among voters who consider the mass murders in Orlando, Florida this past weekend primarily a terrorist attack, Trump leads Clinton 64% to 16%."

"Clinton posts an 83% to four percent (4%) lead among those who see the killings as chiefly a gun control issue...."

From a new Rasmussen poll.

Also: "Eighty-four percent (84%) of blacks support Clinton, while Trump holds modest leads among whites and other minority voters...." So Trump leads among Hispanic people?

And Trump easily wins the "would you rather have a beer with" question — 45% to 37%. And:
While roughly 70% of Republicans would prefer Trump in both scenarios, even more Democrats say they’d prefer Clinton for a beer or a meal. But voters not affiliated with either major party would prefer Trump in both cases - for a beer 50% to 25% and for dinner 46% to 27%.

"Trump is indeed considering creating his own media business, built on the audience that has supported him thus far in his bid to become the next president of the United States."

"According to several people briefed on the discussions, the presumptive Republican nominee is examining the opportunity presented by the 'audience' currently supporting him. He has also discussed the possibility of launching a 'mini-media conglomerate' outside of his existing TV-production business, Trump Productions LLC. He has, according to one of these people, enlisted the consultation of his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who owns the The New York Observer. Trump’s rationale, according to this person, is that, 'win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.' For his part, Kushner was heard at a New York dinner party saying that 'the people here don’t understand what I’m seeing. You go to these arenas and people go crazy for him.'... Trump, this person close to the matter suggests, has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself."

From Vanity Fair, "IS DONALD TRUMP’S ENDGAME THE LAUNCH OF TRUMP NEWS?/The candidate is considering starting his own cable empire."

This makes so much sense.

ADDED: Keep your eye on Kushner, who's already in the media business, and the goddess Ivanka. Even if Trump wins the presidency, I think Trump Media will happen. There is a big, exposed gap in news media, as Trump is proving every day, and Fox News doesn't own the conservative audience.

"ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West."

"And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel... Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach.... The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly.... In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda."

Says CIA Director John Brennan in a statement he will deliver to the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning.

Say, can I have some of your purple berries?


"Women in China are sending naked photographs of themselves holding their ID cards to peer-to-peer lenders as collateral..."

"... Chinese state media have reported, in a trend that may involve thousands of people."
“An investigation by Beijing Youth Daily [the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League] shows that in some money lending groups, female university students’ ‘naked holding’ has already become an open secret,” it wrote, referring to the practice of women photographing themselves naked holding their ID card as a guarantee of repayment.
This reminds me of how I learned the word "collateral." I first noticed it when I was 14 (in 1965), listening to my new Bob Dylan album, "Bringing It All Back Home": "They asked me for some collateral/And I pulled down my pants." (That's from "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," a song about American history.)

By the way, that Chinese scheme sounds like sex discrimination.

"More than half of patients who get a prescription for opioid painkillers have leftover pills and keep them to use later..."

More than half? Like 90%? No, just 61.3%. I'm surprised it's so few.

The way in which Bill Gates does and does not believe in God.

The Christian Post presents some quotes from Gates's Rolling Stone interview that I find pretty amusing. This is just classic:
"The moral systems of religion, I think, are super important. We've raised our kids in a religious way; they've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in."
So his wife goes to church, and he participates in it. I'm picturing her taking the children to the actual place and him sending money. He thinks religion is important, but mainly because it gives people a moral system, not because of anything beyond the visible world. You want children to have that, morality in system form. System is a particularly good word for Gates to use.
"I've been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that's kind of a religious belief. I mean, it's at least a moral belief."
He likes morality, and he participates with money. "Owe" is a key word.
When asked if he believed in God, he responded, "I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don't know."
He carefully extracted himself from the question and made it about what other people do, and he's respectful about the religious choices they make. Believing in God is not senseless. It might work for you.
At the same time, he said he agrees with "people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill.... But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there's no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]."
What a perfectly nice agnostic! He's deeply engaged with morality, modest, and respectful. This is a man with $76 billion.

"Should a Friend Be Told the Real Reason He Didn’t Get the Job?"

My answer to this question would be: Does your friend read The New York Times? But maybe the NYT ethicist had some ethics that would have restrained him from publishing the letter if his answer was no. Oh, no, actually, the ethicist ends up saying the friend should not be told, though everything that would be told is right there in that letter.

And this last paragraph was interesting, on the topic of race (which was not raised by the letter-writer). On the plus side of telling:
Our country is full of people convinced that they’ve lost out through affirmative action to less-qualified minorities. Sometimes they have; very often they haven’t. (For one thing, you can be right that a white candidate lost out to a “targeted hire” but wrong to think that you were that white candidate.) It’s not just his self-esteem that’s being defended by this consoling thought, it’s a false belief that relates to an important social question.
The letter writer didn't say the friend is white. And the ethicist doesn't mention that a nonwhite person might also suspect the rejection was based on race. Moreover, if the employer's decision-makers rejected the friend because of race, they probably wouldn't admit it to outsiders [or perhaps even to themselves]. If these people trumped up a bogus reason, and you told him that, he might be twisted into trying to change something about himself that wasn't even bad (which, in this case, seems to be that he was too over-the-top energetic (and the job was: teacher)).

Jimmy Page — "in a black three-piece suit with his long white hair tied back" — testified in court yesterday.

In the case about whether the acoustic guitar pattern that begins "Stairway to Heaven" was copied from the Spirit recording "Taurus."
“I know that I had never heard it before,” he said....

Mr. Page... whether he remembered a concert in December 1968 when Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit.

“I didn’t hear Spirit at the Denver show,” Mr. Page said, adding that he believed the headliner was Vanilla Fudge.

Mr. Page admitted that he owned a copy of Spirit’s 1968 debut album, which contains the song “Taurus,” although he said he did not know how he got it. His record collection contains 4,329 vinyl albums and 5,882 CDs, he said.

Earlier in the day, Mark Andes, the bassist in Spirit, testified that “Taurus” had been a regular part of the band’s set in its early days. He said he remembered drinking beer and playing snooker with Mr. Plant after Spirit played a club in Birmingham, England, in 1970. “We had a blast,” Mr. Andes said.
"Stairway to Heaven" has made over $562 million in royalties over the years.

June 15, 2016

"Senate Votes to Require Women to Register for the Draft."

The NYT reports.
The shift, while fiercely opposed by some conservative lawmakers and interest groups, had surprisingly broad support among Republican leaders and women in both parties....
On the other side, there was Ted Cruz:
“The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls in combat to my mind makes little sense at all,” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas and the father of two young daughters, said on the Senate floor last week.

After voting against the bill on Tuesday, Mr. Cruz said in a prepared statement: “I could not in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat.”
What would it take to reinstate the draft? It's hard to imagine the situation, but if it happened, it would require new legislation, and the question would still arise whether to include women. There's no forcing women into combat yet, and I still find it hard to conceive of, especially in the calamity that would be required to return us to the draft. Whether men fight better than women or not, there is one thing that only women can do, they need to stay out of battle to do it, and I'm picturing a disastrous population culling that would make it more important than ever.

I was going to say that the subject of Trump's attack on the judge has passed through the political system...

Donald Trump is asking the judge whom he has spent months bashing to do him a favor.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, whom Trump has publicly denounced as a "hater," will decide whether to release videos of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's testifying in a lawsuit against Trump University....

"Trump tweets story claiming 'secret memo' shows Obama supports ISIS."

Headline at The Hill. Excerpt:
The story, from the conservative Breitbart website, says the State Department received a memo from an intelligence agent who claimed al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that splintered off to form ISIS, was one of the "major forces driving the insurgency in Syria."

Based on the memo, the article claims that the Obama administration backed ISIS by setting up a program to train Syrian rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad. The Syrian opposition comprises dozens of different factions, and the Obama administration has struggled at times to find reliable allies not tied to extremists. The Pentagon had focused on vetting the rebels who took part in its "train and equip" program, but it stalled after the Pentagon was only able to train 150 rebels, far short of its goal of 3,000.
Here's Trump's tweet:

I don't trust Breitbart (and I passed on that story when I saw it), but I think we've long understood this problem of who the "rebels" in Syria were and whether it made sense to help them. So why haven't other media been pursuing this story? Trump has been critical of the disarray caused by Obama/Hillary policy in Syria (and Libya). What is Hillary's side of this? It's ridiculous that the media that support Hillary merely attack Trump for pointing at stories that suggest that Hillary/Obama had bad judgment, didn't know what they were doing, or worse. The media have left the opening for Trump to take these easy shots, and now, when he does, they seem to think it's enough to say Trump isn't nice or Trump throws out inconclusive evidence and invites us to think for ourselves and ask questions.

"Did you see how dark it was? It’s likely that more people would have been killed" in Orlando if the clubgoers had been armed.

Said Bill Clinton.

Oh yeah, I might note that the sights on my carry pistol work VERY well in low light situations.

But thanks for the lesson, Slick. 

"Donald J. Trump has repeatedly promised a 'pivot' toward a softer, gentler, more refined version of his candidacy since he emerged as the presumptive Republican nominee."

"But on Monday, Mr. Trump’s television interviews and speeches made clear that such a pivot would never come," writes Maggie Haberman in The NYT, and I am trying to remember exactly how and what Trump promised. I have closely followed every single day of his campaign, and I don't have the sense of a promise.

I've heard a lot of people talk about the conventional notion of The Pivot to and around this most unconventional candidate, but if you want to pin him down as having promised to pivot — and promised to be softer, gentler, more refined — you need to lay out specific text.

Haberman does not do that. She merely presents the purported promise as a frame for her story about Trump's very strong rhetoric this week.

I did some searching on my own and found this June 7th piece in Real Clear Politics, with the word "promises" in the title (but not in Trump's mouth): "Toned-Down Trump Promises to Make GOP Proud."
“Tonight we close one chapter in history and begin another,” the presumptive GOP nominee said....  “I understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle, and I will never ever let you down... I will make you proud of our party and our movement.”
I understand characterizing that as a promise, but there's wiggle room in "make you proud." One can arrive at feelings of pride many ways, and he may think that his whole campaign — with its central promise to Make America Great Again — is a march toward pride. His words accept the interpretation that he's going to keep going in a strong, tough manner and he expects the GOP will grow to like it. Someone who wants a softer, gentler candidate might hope that's his plan to "make you proud," but it's not a good bet and there's no basis to say that he's promised to go that route.

I'm adding tags to this post and see that I have one for "nice Trump." I'll have to publish this post so I can click on it and see if perhaps it turns up the elusive promise to pivot into something like soft gentleness.

ADDED: The "nice Trump" tag appears on 2 earlier posts. The first was on May 11th, when Trump said his call for a ban on Muslims coming into the country was "just a suggestion." I said,
I suspect all of his policy notions are subject to softening like that. If softening is called for. Hardening... he can do that too. As circumstances call for it.
That was no promise from him to be softer and nicer, just an observation from me that he's showing he's left room to become softer and gentler and he's not too locked into his toughness to do it if he chooses.

The other one came the next day, "When Trump met Ryan." The 2 men met and issued a joint statement, which you can read at the link. It doesn't contain any promises by Trump to pivot or become softer and gentler. The closest it comes is in saying "we are totally committed to working together" to unify the GOP and win the election. Maybe GOP insiders felt that he'd have to do it their way and their way is softer and gentler, but he's the one who's been winning and he's done it not only without their help, but in the face of their ungentle, unsoft, unrefined attacks.

IN THE COMMENTS: John Tuffnell said:
The photo they use is interesting. Trump is in the distance but unidentifiable because the focus is on another video feed that makes Trump appear as a blue ghost.

So the internets tell me that colors mean things in the paranormal world. Here's what blue ghosts are supposed to mean:
Blue Orbs
Blue is spiritually associated with psychic energy and truth. It is a very calming color, and many people associate it with spiritual guidance. Some people feel blue orbs are are sign of a calming presence or energy, while others feel they indicate the presence of a spirit guide in that location.
Whupped them again, didn't we Josey.
I reckon so!

"Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim countries in the world where prostitution is legal."

"The Kandapara brothel in the district of Tangail is the oldest and second-largest in the country — it has existed for some 200 years. It was demolished in 2014, but has been established again with the help of local NGOs. Many of the women were born there, grew up there and didn’t know where else to go when it disappeared. Supporters of the brothel believe that sex work is also work — and that these women don’t want to do something else. The women themselves demonstrated for their rights as workers, and so at the end of 2014, the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association convinced the High Court that the eviction of the sex workers was an illegal act. The sex workers quickly returned to their homes. Today, the area’s 'brothel district' is surrounded by a wall...."

From a photo-essay in The Washington Post titled "Heartbreaking photos show what it’s like living in a walled city of a brothel."

These women don’t want to do something else....

"And how can you be a friend, when you take... 10s of millions of dollars, $25 million from one country... when these countries are oppressive to LGBT, when they're oppressive to everybody?"

"How can you be a friend to women, when you take that kind of money from people that enslave women? How can you be a friend?"

ADDED: A chart the first 2 columns of which contain information straight from the Clinton Foundation website:

"I don’t like the 666," wrote the pope, rejecting a 16,666,000 pesos contribution from Argentinian president Mauricio Macri.

"Francis, who has long supported progressive causes in Argentina, and the centre-right president Macri have often found themselves on opposite sides of political debate. But the pope is reported to have been particularly irritated when the Argentinian media presented the president’s donation as a sign that relations between the two leaders were improving. The Argentinian chapter of [the pope's the Scholas Occurentes educational foundation] returned the donation saying that 'there are those who are trying to misrepresent this institutional gesture ... with the purpose of generating confusion and division among Argentines.'"

Reports The Guardian.

"We determined that this child was playing at the edge of the water, probably about a foot or so into the water, when this alligator came up and attacked the child."

"The father did his best, tried to rescue the child, however to no avail. A struggle did ensue and the father has some sort of minor lacerations to his arm, so he was able to get over there fairly quickly. You know how a father who witnesses this must have felt. It is tragic, it is heartbreaking, there’s no other way to say it. We’re just going to keep searching and searching and searching."

At Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

June 14, 2016

President Obama's Sermon of 2 Perversions.

President Obama addressed the Orlando massacre in a 25-minute speech today. I'll just focus on what he said about calling ISIS "radical Islamists":
For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase "radical Islam." That's the key, they tell us. We can't beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists.

What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer, is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.
So there's no value to using this phrase, he says, but I'll note the obvious: If it's only a "political distraction," you could make the distraction go away by using the term. So the key is that there's value in not saying it. That's where he goes next. The familiar idea, as you can see below, is that he wants to convey the message that the form of Islam used by the terrorists is an incorrect interpretation of Islam.

This puts the President of the United States in the position of saying what is orthodox in religion. (I'm reminded — and this is Flag Day — of the Supreme Court's Pledge of Allegiance case with the great line: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion...".) But that's his approach and he's sticking to it. Here's how he repeated his iffy religious pronouncement:

"Very unusual for the Saudis to come out saying he is meeting with Obama and White House not confirming it."

"They certainly knew he was coming."


Well, yesterday, Hillary said: "For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris, the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path toward extremism."

Obama gave a post-Orlando speech today, but he didn't mention the Saudis. (I'll put up a separate post on that speech.)

Trump's tendency to say "There's something going on"...

... attracts the attention of Max Ehrenfreund at WaPo's Wonkblog.
That phrase, according to political scientists who study conspiracy theories, is characteristic of politicians who seek to exploit the psychology of suspicion and cynicism to win votes.

The idea that people in positions of power or influence are conspiring to conceal sinister truths from the public can be inherently appealing, because it helps make sense of tragedy and satisfies the human need for certainty and order. Yet politicians hoping to take advantage of these tendencies must rely on vague and suggestive statements, since any specific accusation could be easily disproved.

"He's leaving it to the audience to piece together what he's saying," said Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami, in a recent interview.... Uscinski noted that Trump has used the tactic throughout his campaign to gain support by appealing to voters' fears and cynicism. "The one thing that’s remained absolutely consistent is his penchant for conspiracy theorizing," Uscinski said.
Yeah, there's something going on there with Trump saying there's something going on there. I'm prompted to try to piece together what scary, sinister plans Trump may be conspiring to conceal. So many layers!

Meanwhile: "Trump revokes [Washington] Post press credentials, calling the paper ‘dishonest’ and ‘phony’" — writes Paul Farhi at — of all places — WaPo.
“Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post,” read a post on Trump’s Facebook page.

Another post said, “I am no fan of President Obama, but to show you how dishonest the phony Washington Post is, they wrote, ‘Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting’ as their headline. Sad!”

Trump was referring to an article that posted online Monday morning that was headlined, “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.” The article was the most-read on The Post’s website at the time. Its original headline, which Trump accurately cited in his Facebook post, was changed about 90 minutes later. The newspaper changed it on its own, before Trump’s complaint.
What was the original headline?

ADDED: The original headline — included in the blocked quote — was "Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting." Sorry for leaving that question at the end of this post. I had meant to delete it. What a crazy, embarrassing headline! But "The newspaper changed it on its own, before Trump’s complaint." There's some low-level self-praise!

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin — known for his gnomic comments — gets off a string of gems:
1. "What was the original headline?"/More Mush from the Wimp.
2. Something's happening here./Everybody look what's going down.

3. Suspicion is looking up, etymologically speaking. I don't know if a toga was involved.

4. Weasel words have a musky smell.

5. Terrorists don't hate. They're fine upstanding participants in a stable culture. Just keep the culture in their own country.

6. The unicorn ate it gravely./Finest line in Thurber.
Here's "The Unicorn in the Garden," for understanding #6.

"Orlando described moments of surreal quiet as the siege went on and the killer fiddled with his weapon and used the sink and the hand dryer."

"Mr. Mateen checked on the bodies around him, Orlando said. At one point, Orlando switched positions and played dead, and he felt something poking him. He believed it was the gunman, checking to see if he was dead.... Orlando said he never looked Mr. Mateen in the eye, but recalled his calm voice. At one point, after noticing that some of the hostages in the bathroom were texting, the gunman ordered them to surrender their phones. He spoke again, according to Orlando, asking the hostages, 'Are you guys black?'  He said, "I don’t have an issue with the blacks,"' Orlando said...."

From "Held Hostage in an Orlando Restroom, and Playing Dead to Stay Alive" in The NYT.

Flag/Trump Day.

ADDED: "Trump and Clinton’s combined score make them by far the oldest duo ever to compete for the Presidency—a fact that has received almost zero attention...."

50 years ago today: the Vatican abolished its List of Prohibited Books.

"The 20th and final edition appeared in 1948, and the Index [Librorum Prohibitorum] was formally abolished on 14 June 1966 by Pope Paul VI...."
The aim of the list was to protect the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of heretical and immoral books....

The Index included a number of authors and intellectuals whose works are widely read today in most leading universities and are now considered as the foundations of science, e.g. Kepler's New Astronomy, his Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, and his World Harmony were quickly placed on the Index after their publication. Other noteworthy intellectual figures on the Index include Jean-Paul Sartre, Montaigne, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Gide, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, John Milton, John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, and Hugo Grotius. Charles Darwin's works were never included.
More of the list here, along with some discussion of what was not included:
Not on the Index were Aristophanes, Juvenal, John Cleland, James Joyce and D. H. Lawrence. According to Wallace et al., this was because the primary criterion for banning the work was anticlericalism, blasphemy and heresy.

Nate Cohn at the NYT says the post-Orlando gun issue is "probably" going to help Trump.

You can't predict the future with certainty, so I respect that "probably." He says:
According to an Upshot analysis of Pew Research data, nearly half of white working-class Democrats think it’s more important to protect gun rights than to control gun ownership. That’s a larger percentage of Democratic voters than agree with Mr. Trump on many of the other issues that he stresses on the campaign trail.

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s position has considerable support from Republican-leaning voters. About three-quarters of Republican-leaning voters side with gun rights over gun control, according to the Pew data.

That’s even better for Mr. Trump than a lot of his other populist wedge issues, like trade and immigration. It’s about as good as any issue for Republicans — even general conservative attitudes such as whether the government is wasteful.
I listened to Hillary's post-Orlando speech yesterday, and she said a lot of things about different issues, but when she got to the part about gun control, her audience went wild. Look at the long ovation after she says "We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war. That might not stop every shooting or terrorist attack. But it will stop some and it will save lives and it will protect our first responders":

She's in the presence of people who strongly encourage her to forefront gun control, but this should not be her chosen route. If she doesn't resist the temptation to follow the encouragement of crowds like this, she is helping Donald Trump get elected.

"In the comments, I'm seeing some questioning of my last sentence there — 'It sounds as though Catholics might have trouble meeting his standard."'

"But I'm interpreting Trump's words, the actual text, as spoken. He said: 'Immigration is a privilege, and we should not let anyone into this country who doesn’t support our communities – all of our communities.' That is, to earn the privilege of immigration, you must support all of our communities, including the gay community. He's not limiting his exclusion to those who believe that gay people should be killed. He's saying you need to support gay people. I'm sure many religious Christians will say that he might not mean to include those of us with a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin approach, but I don't hear that reservation in his words. I hope he is pressed on this question, and I would love to see Trump outdo Clinton in wholehearted acceptance and love for gay people and their freedom to openly love according to their heart's desire."

I said, in another update to yesterday's post about Donald Trump's anti-terrorism speech.

ADDED: And don't think I haven't anticipated comments like: Must immigrants support the pedophilia community/the bestiality community/the polygamy community?

June 13, 2016

"She once said that she had sex with any man who asked for it..."

"... and described a pool party at which she worked through the various men, one after the next, as if they were canapés."

From "In the Picture"/A new biography of Diane Arbus," by Anthony Lane (in The New Yorker).

Also: "Arbus...  confessed to being jealous of her younger sister, Renee, for having been raped as a teen-ager. Diane was said to radiate 'aggressive vulnerability,' and some people were worn down by posing for her, hour upon hour, until they were frazzled and frayed; only then would she get the shot she required."

"A court in Qatar has convicted a Dutch woman of having sex outside marriage after she told police she was raped."

"The 22-year-old was handed a suspended sentence and fined $824 (£580). She will also be deported. Her lawyer said her drink had been spiked at a Doha hotel in March and she had woken up in a stranger's flat, where she realised she had been raped. Her alleged attacker, who said the sex was consensual, was sentenced to 100 lashes for having sex outside marriage. He will be given a further 40 lashes for consuming alcohol."

BBC reports.

Here's the full Hillary Clinton speech on terrorism.

Today, in Cleveland, Ohio:

I'm watching the Trump speech first, but I'll get to this and have something to say.

ADDED: She began in a storytelling, empathetic, and vaguely religious mode, speaking of the people who died and the need for prayer. Then she transitioned to policy with Trump-like statements about the need to be strong. ["Now we have to steel our resolve and respond... We must attack [terrorism] with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values."] The policy itself seemed interesting, but her audience messed up the value of it by cheering to great excess when she got to gun control. ["I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets."] And the big question I had about all those policy ideas was: Why hasn't the Obama administration done these things and isn't she connected to those failures?

AND: Here's the full text of her speech.

I didn't like that she called Mateen "a madman." People with mental illness can be dangerous, but what basis is there for characterizing an Islamist terrorist as a "madman" (other than to set up an argument for gun control)?

It seems to me that the terrorist has deep belief in an ideology and has decided to use violence. I think true mental illness is a disability, and those with disabilities deserve respect and care (even as we need to protect ourselves from danger).

And religious devotion is also serious and can lead people to do some very terrible things, but it is not insanity, even when the particular ideas seem foolish or evil. There's a lot of religion out there in the world, and it's just too easy to say that the kind of religion we're seeing in Islamic terrorists isn't real religion but madness.

Just as some nonreligious ideas are dangerous and evil, some religious ideas are dangerous and evil. And we can say that without inserting this extra step of pretending it's not religion but madness. That's the failure to speak clearly that Trump was talking about in his speech today. I think this blurring is done out of a fear of criticizing or alienating other Muslims. That is a choice to be unclear, to cushion the harshness, and Hillary is making that choice.

She also used disease and poison as a metaphor (as if better health care might be the answer)
The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive.... The threat is metastasizing. We face a twisted ideology and poisoned psychology that inspires the so-called ‘lone wolves’....
But these are human beings with thinking minds who are embracing particular ideas (ideas that spur them to terrible action). Of course, ideas are "viral." We use that metaphor all the time, for good and bad ideas. But the person who comes to believe something isn't sick like someone with cancer or a fever. You can get lost inside your metaphors. 

Stream Donald Trump's anti-terrorism speech.

It's about to start, at Saint Anselm College, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

ADDED: "We need to respond to this attack on America as one united people, with force, purpose, and determination. But the current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and to think and act clearly. We're not acting clearly. We're not talking clearly. We've got problems. If we don't get tough, and if we don't get tough, and fast, we're not going to have our country anymore. There will be nothing, absolutely nothing left."

AND: He won't say the killer's name. He also says "Afghan" as the name of the country, Afghanistan. And, oddly, he pronounced "Orlando," Or-lahn-do. [CORRECTION: Looking at the written script, I think he was saying "born an Afghan," not "born in Afghan," so it would not be a mistake. And he does also say "Orlando," with the normal pronunciation many times. His enunciation slips when he's reading a speech.]

ALSO: "We have a dysfunctional immigration system," he says after questioning why the man's father was allowed to immigrate.

PLUS: Here's the full text of the speech. I wanted to excerpt what he said about religion. Hillary, in her speech today, presented the terrorists' version of Islam as madness, mental disease, and as I said in my post above, this is disrespectful and unfair to the unfortunate people who suffer from mental illness, and it is also unrealistic about the nature of the human mind, which, even when healthy, thinks and believes all sorts of things that are not true and not nice. You're not going to somehow cure people of their bad ideas. Trump wants to exclude people who have the wrong ideas:
We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer. Many of the principles of Radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions. Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American. I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, and Jewish people, are the targets of persecution and intimidation by Radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence....

We have to screen applicants to know whether they are affiliated with, or support, radical groups and beliefs. We have to control the amount of future immigration into this country to prevent large pockets of radicalization from forming inside America....

[U]nder the Clinton plan, you’d be admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East with no system to vet them, or to prevent the radicalization of their children. The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why she believes immigration from these dangerous countries should be increased without any effective system to screen who we are bringing in. The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why we should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans....

Yes, there are many radicalized people already inside our country as a result of the poor policies of the past. But the whole point is that it will be much, much easier to deal with our current problem if we don’t keep on bringing in people who add to the problem.... This shooter in Orlando was the child of an immigrant father who supported one of the most repressive regimes on Earth. Why would we admit people who support violent hatred?

Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views.... Why does Hillary Clinton want to bring people here—in vast numbers—who reject our values?

Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words? Clinton wants to allow Radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country—they enslave women, and murder gays. I don’t want them in our country. Immigration is a privilege, and we should not let anyone into this country who doesn’t support our communities – all of our communities.
That's some strong support for gay people! It sounds as though Catholics might have trouble meeting his standard.

MORE: In the comments, I'm seeing some questioning of my last sentence there — "It sounds as though Catholics might have trouble meeting his standard." But I'm interpreting Trump's words, the actual text, as spoken. He said: "Immigration is a privilege, and we should not let anyone into this country who doesn’t support our communities – all of our communities." That is, to earn the privilege of immigration, you must support all of our communities, including the gay community. He's not limiting his exclusion to those who believe that gay people should be killed. He's saying you need to support gay people. I'm sure many religious Christians will say that he might not mean to include those of us with a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin approach, but I don't hear that reservation in his words. I hope he is pressed on this question, and I would love to see Trump outdo Clinton in wholehearted acceptance and love for gay people and their freedom to openly love according to their heart's desire.

"A pro-Isis group has released a hit list with the names of more than 8,000 people, mostly Americans."

"More than 600-people live in Florida, and one security expert believes that many of those targeted live in Palm Beach County and on the Treasure Coast."
Former FBI agent-turned lawyer Stuart Kaplan says... "If in fact a sympathizer gets ahold of this list and is readily able to identify you as being his neighbor and, then, decides (because they're a sympathizer) to go out and do something horrific to you, there is no way to calculate the potential or to prevent that."...

The list has not yet been made public.
How could the list have been "released" and yet not "made public"? I guess the U.S. authorities haven't independently made the list known, but that the "pro-Isis group" has put the list out there. It's a terrorist tactic just to make people think there is a list and they could be on it.  Being on a list is terrifying even if nothing is ever done to you. It's a terrorist tactic to let people know that lists are being made and you could end up on it. If you knew what you were supposed to do to stay off the list, you might do it. You might completely on your own try to imagine what you could do to stay off the list. Keep a low profile. Don't talk about terrorism. Withdraw from social media. Delete your account.

"Mateen’s father, however, called his son 'very dignified.'"

"In a video posted to Facebook shortly after midnight, Seddique Mateen... called the shooting 'tragic' but said his son was 'a good son and an educated son.' He said his son shouldn’t have carried out the massacre because 'God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality.' 'I don’t know what caused him to shoot last night... No radicalism, no... He doesn’t have a beard even. . . . I don’t think religion or Islam had anything to do with this.'"

From a Washington Post article titled "Orlando gunman 'cool and calm' during nightclub standoff with police," which also deals with the question of why the police waited so long — while living victims were bleeding — to storm the building. If the answer is that the man was calm, I really don't get it. First of all, there had been so many gunshots, and people were wounded who might have been saved. Second, he identified himself as a devotee of ISIS. When have such people ever stopped in the middle of a massacre? He wasn't a madman to be talked down. He was cool and calm.

I see that the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer (D), said: "We’re dealing with something we never imagined and is unimaginable." Why didn't they imagine it?! It's absolutely imaginable.  It's even happened before. Is he just saying he didn't think his city would be the next one? That's absurd. Every city should imagine that it could have an incident like this. And wasn't there an imam in Orlando, speaking in public just last April, saying gay people should be killed (out of "compassion")?

Ken Burns uses his commencement address to tell Stanford students they must oppose and fight against Donald Trump.

Here's some very heavy-handed rhetoric — ironically against another man's heavy-handed rhetoric — that shouldn't be imposed on the captive audience of a graduating class and the guests who want to celebrate them, but I can see that he thinks it's such an emergency that the normal rules do not apply — which, again ironically, is why Donald Trump must think he's got to talk the way he does.
So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships. I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and—they feel—powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that--as often happens on TV--a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.

As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient Proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong. These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again--all happening at once. We know from our history books that these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral Internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.

We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or “balance,” or even of bemused disdain. Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism and the big ratings a media circus always delivers. In fact, they have given him the abundant airtime he so desperately craves, so much so that it has actually worn down our natural human revulsion to this kind of behavior. Hey, he’s rich; he must be doing something right. He is not. Edward R. Murrow would have exposed this naked emperor months ago. He is an insult to our history. Do not be deceived by his momentary “good behavior.” It is only a spoiled, misbehaving child hoping somehow to still have dessert.

"I’m not freestyling, I’m too old. I wrote you a sonnet instead."

Said Lin-Manuel Miranda, on winning the first of many awards for "Hamilton" at the Tonys last night.
In the ensuing poem he discussed his love for his wife, the Orlando shootings, and theater as a haven of tolerance and inclusivity — all in perfect iambic pentameter, through sobs. "The show is proof that history remembers," he said. "We live in times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall in light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer."
I was watching (and he made me cry):

What a lovely man. Never leave that wife. He must know.

(It's just by chance that this post on a man named Miranda follows my post on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case named Miranda.)

Here's a bit about Lin-Manuel Miranda's wife, Vanessa Nadal:
1. She is an Attorney Who Graduated From Fordham... 2. Before Going to Law School, She Was a Working Scientist... 3. She and Miranda Went to High School Together, But They Didn’t Connect Until Later...
Two months later, at a big crowded party, he didn’t exactly say, “I love you” but almost. “At some point, we met up for a kiss and he said, ‘You love me,’ ” she recalled. “I was like: ‘How presumptuous!’ I was a little angry but I couldn’t deny it.”...
4. They Got Married in 2010... 5. She Gave Birth to Their First Child, Sebastian, in 2014....

50 years ago today: The Supreme Court announced its decision in Miranda v. Arizona.

That's how it looked on the front page of the NYT. Here's the Wikipedia article on Miranda:
Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former prosecutor, delivered the opinion of the Court, ruling that due to the coercive nature of the custodial interrogation by police (Warren cited several police training manuals which had not been provided in the arguments), no confession could be admissible under the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination clause and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney unless a suspect had been made aware of his rights and the suspect had then waived them:
The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.
In dissent, Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote that "nothing in the letter or the spirit of the Constitution or in the precedents squares with the heavy-handed and one-sided action that is so precipitously taken by the Court in the name of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities". Harlan closed his remarks by quoting former Justice Robert H. Jackson: "This Court is forever adding new stories to the temples of constitutional law, and the temples have a way of collapsing when one story too many is added."
But Miranda was a fine added story, and the temple held up pretty well.

(That other case on the NYT front page is important too: "Dissenters Fear Widening of Congressional Power." That was Katzenbach v. Morgan.)

Why didn't the FBI stop Omar Mateen?

That's my question, as I'm trying to read the NYT article with the infuriating headline, "Omar Mateen: From Early Promise to F.B.I. Surveillance." As if the FBI's investigation skewed him from a path to a successful American life!
He earned an associate degree in criminal justice technology in 2006. A year later, he was hired by one of the world’s premier private security companies, G4S. And then, in 2009, he got married and bought a home.
As if these things might not be chosen by someone with evil plans.
Soon, though, signs of troubles emerged. His wife, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, divorced him in 2011, after he abused her.
The desire to sympathize with this man is — for some insane reason — so strong that an abused woman is made the active party. She divorced him. He experienced "troubles."
Two years after that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was called in after reports from Mr. Mateen’s co-workers that he, the American-born son of Afghan immigrants, had suggested he may have had terrorist ties. The F.B.I. interviewed him twice, but after surveillance, records checks and witness interviews, agents were unable to verify any terrorist links and closed their investigation.
That's all very blandly put, but I want more! Why did the FBI fail? What were the reports and what other reports of other terrorist sleepers are processed bureaucratically and left to continue undisturbed until the day they decide to wake up and open fire in a crowded nightclub?
Then, in 2014, the F.B.I. discovered a possible tie between Mr. Mateen and Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who had grown up in nearby Vero Beach and then became the first American suicide bomber in Syria, where he fought with the Nusra Front, a Qaeda-aligned militant group. Again, the F.B.I. closed its inquiry after finding “minimal” contact between the two men. After the terrorist investigations cleared Mr. Mateen, he maintained both his Florida security-officer license and his job....
A second investigation! And still nothing! Again, it is amazing — maddening — to think of all the Omar Mateens out there and known to the FBI and nothing is being done to stop them.

ADDED: "LINGO ... 'known wolf': a lone wolf who has been on the radar of law enforcement (apparently including Omar Mateen)."

June 12, 2016

"In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words 'Radical Islam'. For that reason alone, he should step down."

"If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words 'Radical Islam' she should get out of this race for the Presidency. If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can't afford to be politically correct anymore."

From Trump's statement on the Orlando massacre.

"'Thanks, Pocahontas,' Hillary replies, looking steely."

"'I can do some things on my own. I did manage to secure a spot in the Ivy League without pretending to be Native American. I hope you noticed that I’ve decorated my house in all the colors of the wind.' Warren bristles, Church Lady-style... The senator from Massachusetts stands up. 'Where’s the bathroom?' she asks. 'Can I squeeze in there with the server?' Hillary gives that big laugh that indicates she is not amused. 'No need to go on the warpath,' she says in her best Cersei manner. 'Let’s bury the hatchet — in The Donald.'"

From "Girl Squad," by Maureen Dowd at The NYT, where, naturally, the commenters are outraged. Top-rated comments include: "Dear New York Times: Why do you continue to pay this woman? She's not funny; she's not clever; and she's become a one-note channel of HillaryHate," "Dowd legitimizes Trump's slurs... by repeating them here in this 'satire,'" "Unbelievable... that Ms. Dowd has also managed to write one of the most vacuous columns I've ever read about two of the least vacuous people in Washington."

("Cersei" is a "Game of Thrones" reference. I had to look it up.)

"And so I cut, moving my hips in rhythm to the arc of the scythe’s swing, shuffling forward bit by bit, nibbling away at the foot-long grass..."

"... and depositing it on my left. I concentrate on keeping the blade in touch with the ground. It’s a dance of sorts. The dance of the mower and the grass. Tolstoy understood the satisfactions of this work. In 'Anna Karenina,' Levin joins the peasants to harvest the hay on his estate. His brother scoffs, but Levin is soon absorbed in his labors: 'The longer Levin mowed, the oftener he felt the moments of unconsciousness in which it seemed not his hands that swung the scythe, but the scythe mowing of itself, a body full of life and consciousness of its own, and as though by magic, without thinking of it, the work turned out regular and well finished of itself. These were the most blissful moments.' Working slowly and deliberately, with little noise, allows me to be part of nature, rather than striving against it...."

From "The Russian Peasant’s Workout" by Jeremy Hastings (in The NYT).

"Vigil outside Stonewall."

Today. (More pictures at the link.)