July 2, 2016

"Although he directed a few films in the decades after 'Heaven’s Gate,' Cimino kept a low profile, and plastic surgery made him almost unrecognizable...."

"Cimino circled many projects that never came to fruition, including a life of Dostoevsky developed with Raymond Carver; adaptations of 'Crime and Punishment,' Truman Capote’s 'Handcarved Coffins,' Ayn Rand’s 'The Fountainhead' and Andre Malraux’s 'Man’s Fate'; and bios of Janis Joplin, Legs Diamond and Mafia boss Frank Costello. He also circled many projects eventually directed by others, including 'The Bounty,' 'Footloose,' 'The Pope of Greenwich Village' and 'Born on the Fourth of July.'"

Good-bye to Michael Cimino, who has died at the age of 77. He made a great film, "The Deer Hunter," which won 5 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director, and then, he made a colossal disaster, "Heaven's Gate," and it ruined United Artists and it ruined him.

"In the aftermath of the Germans’ systematic massacre of Jews, no voice had emerged to drive home the enormity of what had happened and how it had changed mankind’s conception of itself and of God."

"For almost two decades, the traumatized survivors — and American Jews, guilt-ridden that they had not done more to rescue their brethren — seemed frozen in silence. But by the sheer force of his personality and his gift for the haunting phrase, Mr. Wiesel, who had been liberated from Buchenwald as a 16-year-old with the indelible tattoo A-7713 on his arm, gradually exhumed the Holocaust from the burial ground of the history books...."

RIP, Elie Wiesel. He was 87.

"'Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed,' Mr. Wiesel wrote. 'Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never."

More email from Linda Greenhouse: "Ann, I guess it's fair to say that each of us was right and each of us was wrong."

So, you may remember yesterday's post, "What Linda Greenhouse emailed me about what I blogged about what she wrote in The NYT about Justice Kennedy," in which I challenged Linda Greenhouse — who'd said "I would caution you against challenging my facts." The fact in question was whether Justice Kennedy should be given sole credit for writing "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt," the first sentence of the main opinion in the 1992 abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which was published by the Supreme Court as a joint opinion of Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, with no one person identified as having written that opinion.

Greenhouse had emailed me about an earlier post, where I'd said "Greenhouse misstates the authorship of Casey," and she took the position that she knew Kennedy wrote it, because she was there in the courtroom when the opinion was announced, and Kennedy led off and read that "no refuge" line. I didn't think one person reading part of the opinion was complete proof he'd written it, but what was devastating to Greenhouse's assertion was that the Court's announcement of the opinion was recorded, and the audio and transcription are available on line, and Justice Kennedy did not go first — O'Connor did — and the line "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt" was never spoken at all.

Somehow, Linda Greenhouse — a journalist with great confidence in her facts ("I would caution you against challenging my facts") — had constructed a false memory!

How did Linda Greenhouse respond? Here, with her permission, is the new email:
Ann, I guess it's fair to say that each of us was right and each of us was wrong. I'll leave it at that, confident that your charming commenters will carry the torch. I have to say I'm really surprised at my mis-memory of the Casey hand-down -- I would have sworn it on a stack of U.S. Reports. And I take it that you agree there's not another person on the planet who could have written what Kennedy wrote -- neither your favorite passage nor mine. Linda
I responded:
Thanks. But I won't agree that no one else but Kennedy could have written that. What's the evidence? It seems to be the assumption that he did write that. I'd love to know the true story of how passages like the "jurisprudence of doubt" and the "heart of liberty" ones came to exist and to find their way into a case, but I would want real research into the subject. It's one thing to think up such lines, another to decide they belong in a case, and lines are drafted and tweaked. I wouldn't look at those lines and say obviously that part was a one-man job and Kennedy's that man.

Whatever happened to all the speculation that O'Connor brought a woman's insight onto the Court? What about the role of clerks? They're people on the planet too. And I'm curious -- as my original post showed -- about the mystery of the lack of mystery that you flagged when you said: "The dry, almost clinical tone could scarcely be more different from the meditative mood the Supreme Court struck the last time it stood up for abortion rights." It's a mystery I felt motivated to explore, not to make assumptions about. 
Confronted with proof that she'd made a mistake and after cautioning me about challenging her facts, Greenhouse took the position that she and I were both wrong and right, that somehow we'd come out even. I'm not agreeing to that. I didn't say anything that was wrong. I have a way of blogging that keeps me out of trouble like that. I don't make assertions about things I don't know.

Over to you, charming commenters.

That view from the boathouse.


This morning, on Lake Mendota.

"As a psychoanalyst, a blanket rejection of the possibility of demonic attacks seems less logical, and often wishful in nature, than a careful appraisal of the facts."

"As I see it, the evidence for possession is like the evidence for George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. In both cases, written historical accounts with numerous sound witnesses testify to their accuracy. In the end, however, it was not an academic or dogmatic view that propelled me into this line of work. I was asked to consult about people in pain. I have always thought that, if requested to help a tortured person, a physician should not arbitrarily refuse to get involved. Those who dismiss these cases unwittingly prevent patients from receiving the help they desperately require, either by failing to recommend them for psychiatric treatment (which most clearly need) or by not informing their spiritual ministers that something beyond a mental or other illness seems to be the issue. For any person of science or faith, it should be impossible to turn one’s back on a tormented soul."

Writes Richard Gallagher, a psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College who is writing a book about demonic possession in the United States. Watch out, it's a WaPo link.

ADDED: The question of what is true is often superseded by what will help. In a sense, what helps is what's true. It's true that it helps (if it helps).

"Nobody knew this was coming... There was no planned meeting. It was just chance contact. The fact is, [Bill Clinton] just started walking over."

"I don’t think it was pre-arranged. He just started walking over and [even {Loretta Lynch's} security] can’t tell him, 'you can’t do that.' He walked in her plane for at least 20 to 25 minutes and the FBI is standing face to face with the Secret Service and just chatting on the hot tarmac like, 'what the hell.'... Then her detail finally got her off the plane, now much delayed, and departed for her day’s events. She had a series of visits planned for Tuesday.... I don’t agree with her politics and all that, but I knew from the beginning that she got caught off guard and her staff was already talking about it that it’s going to be a political problem for her. Her staff was flipping out. We didn’t think about the political part until we saw her staff flipping out. For the security guys, it was more of a 'I’ve got armed guys coming into my perimeter' problem. But the staff guys saw right away that it was a political problem. After Clinton got off, they were like, 'that wasn’t good.' And I know from others who were in the actual car with her that her people knew immediately the political ramifications of it and were very upset."

That's the inside picture as portrayed by an unnamed security person quoted in The New York Observer. (The principal owner of the Observer is Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law.)

"There Are Conservative Professors. Just Not in These States."

That's the headline to a NYT op-ed by Samuel J. Abrams, a politics professor at Sarah Lawrence College, where colleagues joked that he must have been a diversity hire because he "didn’t express uniformly left-wing political views."

The op-ed is mostly about the strong leftward tilt of academia, and how very strongly left the tilt is in New England:
In 1989, the number of liberals compared with conservatives on college campuses was about 2 to 1 nationwide; that figure was almost 5 to 1 for New England schools. By 2014, the national figure was 6 to 1; for those teaching in New England, the figure was 28 to 1.
28 to 1! Then there's the west — the “left coast” — where it was 3 to 1 and now is  6 to 1. Elsewhere, it was 1 to 1 and now it's 3 to 1.

But if you get specific enough — select Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming — you get  1.5 to 1, an actual uptick for conservatism, from 2 to 1 in 1989.

This WaPo article reads like PR from the Sanders campaign.

"The latest draft of the Democratic Party platform, which is set to be released as early as this afternoon, will show that Bernie Sanders won far more victories on his signature issues than has been previously thought, according to details provided by a senior Sanders adviser... Sanders did far better out of this process thus far than has been previously thought.... To be sure, Sanders will continue to fight for more in coming weeks... And we can’t be certain whether Sanders will endorse Clinton before the convention or if he is unsatisfied with the final platform product. But it looks as if this process is going better for progressives and Bernie supporters than previously suggested. And this perhaps makes it more likely that, in the end, Sanders could end up backing the nominee and helping to unify the party with less discord than expected."

That's from Greg Sargent in WaPo.

So Sanders lost his quest for the nomination, but he sort of winning because he's had "far more victories on his signature issues than has been previously thought," he's done "better out of this process thus far than has been previously thought," and it's going "better than previously suggested... with less discord than expected."

Posit a baseline — some claim of what some unspecified crowd must have been thinking — and you can always claim to actually be doing rather well compared to that. 

“The gunmen were doing a background check on religion by asking everyone to recite from the Quran."

"Those who could recite a verse or two were spared. The others were tortured.”

At the Gulshan restaurant attack, where hostages were held for more than 11 hours.

ADDED: How many people read that and think I should memorize a couple verses from the Quran? It's way easier than trying to carry a gun everywhere. 

AND: I would have said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God."

July 1, 2016

Olivia de Havilland is 100 years old today.

She played Melanie in "Gone with the Wind" and won Oscars for "To Each His Own" in 1947 and "The Heiress" in 1950, and she famously feuded with her sister, the actress Joan Fontaine.
"If Dragon Lady were alive today (for my birthday), out of self-protection I would maintain my silence!" she declared, revealing perhaps that not everything has been forgiven.

For her years, de Havilland is in surprisingly good health, and has a keen sense of humor - even calling her interviewer a "rascal" for one too probing question. Though age-related macular degeneration has damaged her vision, the centenarian is still able to read black and white printed text clearly and answer written interview questions.

She climbs stairs regularly every day in her luxurious Paris residence, and linked the secret to her longevity to three L's: "love, laughter, and learning."...
Not only can she still speak, she's wily enough to wield the verb "garner":
"By 1951, television had already made such inroads on the income garnered by motion picture companies that the Golden Era which had prevailed until then was beginning to disintegrate. And by 1953, it had come to an end. Hollywood was a dismal, tragic place....  All the artists I had known during the Golden Era (live) elsewhere... including the after world."

The day the NYT crossword gave "Teases, in older usage" as a clue for "LOLITAS"...

... and Rex Parker limited his usual write-up of the puzzle to:
Lolita was 12 years old.

She was extensively sexually abused by her stepfather.

I guess she shouldn't have "teased" him?

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. if you want something more to read, try this.
And "this" goes to "Why Is the New York Times Crossword So Clueless About Race and Gender?," a Slate article from June 28th, provoked by Tuesday's puzzle that had the clue "Decidedly non-feminist women’s group" for "HAREM" (which was "was unnecessary and awful while also managing to be demeaning to both sex workers and women in sex slavery").

The bee of the day...


What Linda Greenhouse emailed me about what I blogged about what she wrote in The NYT about Justice Kennedy.

On Tuesday, I wrote a post titled "Linda Greenhouse notes the 'dry, almost clinical tone' and lack of 'poetry' in the Supreme Court's pro-abortion-rights opinion."

I quoted her writing:
The dry, almost clinical tone could scarcely be more different from the meditative mood the Supreme Court struck the last time it stood up for abortion rights, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 24 years ago this week. “Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt” was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s mysterious opening line in that opinion.
And, among other things, I said:
And Greenhouse misstates the authorship of Casey. She wasn't quoting an opinion for a majority of the Court that was written by Justice Kennedy, but an opinion announcing the judgment of the Court that was joined by only 3 Justices and that was written not by Kennedy alone, but by Kennedy along with Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter. However that "poetry" was created, only 1/3 of the "poets" remain on the Court.
It's indisputably true that the opinion Greenhouse quoted was published under those 3 names with no one Justice identified as the author. But I received an email from Linda Greenhouse that said:
Ann, fyi, Kennedy wrote the line in Casey that I attributed to him.  Yours, LG
I wrote back:
Is there a citation for that? 
Shouldn't the article state your reason for attributing that line to him, as opposed to saying that it's how the opinion begins, as if he isn't one of 3 authors? Are you relying on extraneous knowledge? If so, shouldn't you say that in the article as oppose[d] to citing the opinion?
Here's Greenhouse's reply:
Jeffrey Toobin, "The Nine," p. 65. But Ann, I'm afraid you confuse the practice of journalism with writing for a law review. There is no convention that requires me to annotate my factual assertions. In any event, when Casey was handed down on June 29, 1992, each of the triumvirs read from the part of the joint opinion that he/she had written. Kennedy led off and started his oral announcement with "Liberty finds no refuge..." (causing a good deal of confusion in the courtroom, as you may imagine, since no one yet knew the bottom line of the case.) Souter read from his stare decisis portion, and O'Connor from her undue burden analysis. The authorship of each portion was clear from that public performance. Perhaps you were not in the courtroom.  I was.  Consequently it would have been completely superfluous for me to write: "As Jeffrey Toobin later reported..." Of course you are completely free to trash my opinions and my writing style.  I would caution you against challenging my facts. Yours, Linda
I responded:
I'm not saying you need a law review style citation, only that when you refer to the opinion — "the Supreme Court ..., in Planned Parenthood v. Casey" — and then say only "'Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt' was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s mysterious opening line in that opinion," you appear to be referring to the opinion, which has three authors, and crediting only one of them.

I don't mind that you might choose to make an additional factual assertion without specifying how you know, but the text doesn't make an assertion that we know Kennedy alone wrote a particular sentence in the joint opinion. It just refers to the opinion and gives Kennedy sole credit for it, erasing the presence of O'Connor and Souter.

I'd like to add your explanation in an update, with your permission.
And she said:
So there you are. What do you think? I've been cautioned against challenging Linda Greenhouse's facts — I thought we weren't entitled to our own facts — but I've got to say I don't think she's actually afraid that I confuse the practice of journalism with writing for a law review. I think it would be comforting, not fearsome, for me to have merely bumbled into a state of confusion about the difference between journalism and law reviews. Oddly, I'm not writing a law review article at all. Indeed, I eschew the practice. I'm blogging, and blogging is not a place to feel warned off challenging what people write in The New York Times. Nor is it a place for reining in criticism because there happens to be a "convention" within the journalism profession.

And I will be picky. To say "There is no convention that requires me to annotate my factual assertions" is not to say that there is a convention that requires her to refrain from annotating her factual assertions, and I continue to think that the problem was not so much the failure to support the assertion (to say how she knows Kennedy wrote that particular line) but the failure to make the assertion, to say that something is known about Kennedy and that she is not merely making a reference to the published opinion.

Sidenote: The word "triumvirs" is interesting in light of my concern about erasing O'Connor. "Triumvirs" means 3 men sharing an official position. (Toobin, by the way, used the word "troika" in the same context. "Triumvirs" harks back to ancient Roman leaders, the triumvirate. "Troika" gestures at Russian carriages with 3 horses.)

Anyway, whether one is in the courtroom when the Justices read from the writings they release to the public, it's a matter of opinion to say "The authorship of each portion was clear from that public performance." A joint opinion was released, and any reading needed to be done by one individual and not a chorus of 3.

No one said I'm reading the part that I wrote. I know that, even though Greenhouse guessed right and I was not there that day in 1992, but like everyone else on the internet, I can listen to the recording of the public performance at Oyez.com. Whatever feels clear within Greenhouse's memory, the fact is, it wasn't Justice Kennedy who "led off," it was Justice O'Connor. And when Kennedy got his turn, he did not — as Greenhouse put it — "start[] his oral announcement with 'Liberty finds no refuge....'"

I'm listening to the announcement recording and reading and searching the transcript, and it doesn't begin with or even contain the sentence "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt." That's how the written opinion begins, but Greenhouse seems to have constructed a false memory of what she experienced in her privileged position in that courtroom a quarter century ago.

I know! I've been cautioned against challenging her facts. But I've got to do it. I've got the transcript.

The Justices don't read the written opinion when they do the announcement live. They've got a different text, and the drama of "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt" is confined to the written opinion. Justice O'Connor — who went first, not last — did not indulge in any mystifying phraseology. If the audience felt confused at first, I suspect it was only because O'Connor stated that the court below was (mostly) affirmed, which meant that Planned Parenthood had lost, before she got to the straightforward "we conclude that the central holding of Roe should be reaffirmed."

O'Connor said that "Justice Kennedy and Justice Souter will have -- also have something to say about the judgment in these cases," and not that Kennedy and Souter will be talking about the part of the opinion they wrote. Kennedy's speaking begins with the workmanlike sentence: "The -- the essential holding of Roe versus Wade, the holding that we today retain and reaffirm has three parts." Further in, he's more high flown. And he does read the line from the opinion that I said, in my blog post, was the most poetic line in the case: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Perhaps that line was special to him, something he wanted to say out loud, but I don't, from that, feel that he's claiming personal authorship.

Greenhouse says "The authorship of each portion was clear from that public performance," and Greenhouse thinks O'Connor wrote the undue burden analysis, but Kennedy's recitation covered that material. So much for being there. I'm going to believe the transcript and listening to the recording, as any sensible person, including Greenhouse, will.

Now, what about Toobin? Toobin did talk to some of the Justices for his book "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court" — though, as David Margolick wrote in his review, readers are left "to ponder which of those justices talked to him for this book, and which did not."
And talk to him some of them clearly did. Without their off-the-record whispers, there would be no “inside” story of any “secret” world to tell in “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.”
Margolick guesses who talked:
Reading Toobin’s smart and entertaining book, these hunches quickly solidify. Sprinkled throughout are quotes, facts, anecdotes, insights and interior monologues that could only have come from particular justices — most conspicuously, O’Connor, Breyer and Kennedy — along with flattering adjectives about each. Toobin, of course, never names names.
Here's the relevant bit about Casey, which does trace the "Liberty finds no refuge" quote to Kennedy. (Click to enlarge.)

So Toobin, based on his secret sources, refers to "Kennedy's section of the joint opinion" as containing the quote "Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt." Maybe somebody who really knows told Toobin the truth and Toobin accurately reported it. But the Court released a joint opinion, and there's something deeply disturbing about letting Toobin and his secret sources supersede the Court's public, written presentation. At least let us know that's what you're doing. If you just say you're talking about Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that's a 3-Justice opinion in my book, which is volume 505 of the United States Reports.

Eat Pray Love... pick 2.

"I am separating from the man whom many of you know as 'Felipe' — the man whom I fell in love with at the end of the EAT PRAY LOVE journey," says Elizabeth Gilbert.

Oh, I'm sure the new story is good for another memoir. There'll probably be new love in it too. If you fell for the first one, I'm sure you'll fall for the next one. Your love affair with bullshit memoirs will go on.

Madison police officer fatally shoots a man who was coming at him with a pitchfork.

"Police Chief Mike Koval said.... a neighbor... called 911 around 9 p.m. to report that a man was about chest-deep in the water [of Lake Monona] and acting oddly..."
... seemingly talking to himself and slapping the water. The man then reportedly threw a rock into the window of the residence, Koval said....

Koval said the first officer on the scene was waiting for backup when the intruder approached the doorway from inside the house with a four-pronged pitchfork....

The officer gave numerous orders to the man to stop, which he ignored, Koval said. “The person was aggressing, and the officer was compelled to shoot him,” he said.
UPDATE: "Man fatally shot by Madison police officer struggled with mental illness."

"Jen and I are utterly horrified to announce the arrival of our son, Jasper Heusen-­Gravenstein, born May 21st at 4:56 a.m."

"For nine long months, we’ve wondered who this little creature would be. Well, now we know: he’s the living embodiment of our darkest imaginings, with a nefarious agenda and Grandpa Jim’s nose. At seven pounds four ounces, Jasper may be small, but he’s large enough to have triggered our most primal fears...."

Anti-baby humor in The New Yorker. But babies can't read.

"We don't want barriers unrelated to a person's qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission."

"We have to have access to 100% of America's population. Although relatively few in number, we're talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction. We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we've invested in and who've proven themselves."

Said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, ending the ban on trangender people serving openly in the military.

"U.S. District Judge strikes down Mississippi’s ‘religious freedom’ law."

WaPo reports on a preliminary injunction issued late last night.
“The State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others. Showing such favor tells ‘nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and . . . adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ ” Reeves wrote, citing precedent. “And the Equal Protection Clause is violated by HB 1523’s authorization of arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons.”
The Mississippi law, which you can read here, is different from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gives religious persons some exemptions from generally applicable law. That law applies to any religious belief that is substantially burdened. The Mississippi law specifies 3 particular religious beliefs it exempts: "Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman... Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage... Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth."

"I’m not going to promote this book ... How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?"

Said Gay Talese. (WaPo link.) His book, “The Voyeur’s Motel,” is about a motel owner who (supposedly) spied on his guests through ceiling vents into various rooms:
Foos’s earliest journal entries, for example, were dated 1966. But the author subsequently learned from county property records that Foos didn’t buy the Manor House Motel until 1969 — three years after he said he started watching his guests from the catwalk. “I cannot vouch for every detail that he recounts in his manuscript,” Talese writes in the book.

But property records also show a series of sales and purchases of the motel from 1980 to 1988, none of which Talese said he knew about. In a series of interviews, he expressed surprise, disappointment and anger to learn about the transactions. He said he had not been aware of them until a reporter asked him about it on Wednesday.

“The source of my book, Gerald Foos, is certifiably unreliable,” Talese said. “He’s a dishonorable man, totally dishonorable. . . . I know that. . . . I did the best I could on this book, but maybe it wasn’t good enough.”
The New Yorker looks bad too: "New Yorker editor David Remnick said he hadn’t had time to review the magazine’s vetting of the excerpt it published in April but would look into it."

We talked about this book back in April when the New Yorker excerpt appeared. In the comments, M Jordan said, presciently: "Wait a minute ... was this fiction or nonfiction?"

UPDATE: Talese repositions himself:
But in a press release sent out by his publisher, Talese said he spoke too quickly: "When I spoke to the Washington Post reporter, I am sure I was surprised and upset about this business of the later ownership of the motel, in the '80s. That occurred after the bulk of the events covered in my book, but I was upset and probably said some things I didn't, and don't, mean. Let me be clear: I am not disavowing the book and neither is my publisher. If, down the line, there are details to correct in later editions, we'll do that."

100 years ago today — the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

"The first day on the Somme (1 July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, which was forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army...."
The attack was made by five divisions of the French Sixth Army either side of the Somme, eleven British divisions of the Fourth Army north of the Somme to Serre and two divisions of the Third Army opposite Gommecourt, against the German Second Army of General Fritz von Below. The German defence south of the Albert–Bapaume road mostly collapsed and the French had "complete success" on both banks of the Somme, as did the British from the army boundary at Maricourt to the Albert–Bapaume road. On the south bank the German defence was made incapable of resisting another attack and a substantial retreat began; on the north bank the abandonment of Fricourt was ordered. The defenders on the commanding ground north of the road inflicted a huge defeat on the British infantry, who had an unprecedented number of casualties. Several truces were negotiated, to recover wounded from no man's land north of the road.
On this one day: "The Fourth Army took 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 men were killed, the French Sixth Army had 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army had 10,000–12,000 losses."

"Veteran pedestrians... shoulder their way into bike lanes or walk purposefully on the street alongside cars — eyes ahead, earphones in — forming a de facto express lane."

"They move en masse along Seventh and Eighth Avenues like a storm system on a weather map, heading north in the mornings and south in the evenings.... 'When you get out-of-towners and New Yorkers, it’s like mixing Clorox with ammonia, it doesn’t work — there’s a chemical reaction,' said Jato Jenkins, a street worker, as he swept a stretch of Seventh Avenue. 'The New Yorkers walk their normal route, and the out-of-towners are going the opposite direction, like salmon going upstream.'"

From "New York’s Sidewalks Are So Packed, Pedestrians Are Taking to the Streets" (in the NYT).

From the comments over there, here's a high-rated one with lots of practical suggestions:
Smartphone jammers at all transportation hubs, or open manholes to swallow anyone preoccupied on one. Escalating fines for 3 across, 4 across, and 5 across the sidewalk, which become felonies during the Xmas holidays. Sidewalk etiquette orientation films while tourists are in line at customs. Right of way for anyone carrying a briefcase or shopping bag over 12 lbs. Ban the sale of dog leashes over 4 ft long. Ban baby carriages during rush hour. Public flogging of wrong-way cyclists. What did I miss?
Somebody says tourists "need to learn to keep pace with the locals... keep up - we walk fast around here." And somebody else says:
I am deeply concerned about elderly people who live in NYC. They have a right to walk at their slow pace sometimes using walkers or canes and they deserve respect and attention. I am quite fit and strong but find it a battle to keep from being assaulted like it is a football tackle. I defensively watch out, call out, jump aside but still find I am regularly badly knocked by someone passing in the other direction. I suspect it is often deliberate. How can the elderly be protected? They don't just have the option to go out on the streets when there is no one else out.
And then somebody named sakura333 says:
Small cities in Japan are as crowded, and major ones more so. What is different from there to here is the perception of the people. There, being in a crowd is expected. Here, the perception is "You are in MY way." Our emphasis on individuality bites us again.
Why doesn't belief in individuality cause awareness that other people are also individuals? Or is that just me being a pathetically romantic American liberal?

After intense criticism about her meeting with Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch will announce that she will accept whatever the F.B.I. recommends about prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

The NYT reports, based on a "Justice Department official" "on the condition of anonymity because the internal decision-making process is normally kept confidential." Normally, but not this time. The info needed to escape.

I'm impressed by what looks like quick move to expunge what was at least an appearance of impropriety, but maybe this is what would have happened anyway:
The Justice Department had been moving toward such an arrangement for months — officials said in April that it was being considered — but a private meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable....
The meeting [with Bill Clinton] created an awkward situation for Ms. Lynch, a veteran prosecutor who was nominated from outside Washington’s normal political circles. In her confirmation, her allies repeatedly sought to contrast her with her predecessor, Eric H. Holder Jr., an outspoken liberal voice in the administration who clashed frequently with Republicans who accused him of politicizing the office. 
Holder, the Times reminds us, reduced the charges against David Petraeus to a misdemeanor after the F.B.I. recommended felony charges. And: "That decision created a deep — and public — rift."
Ms. Lynch has said she wants to handle the Clinton investigation like any other case. Since the attorney general often follows the recommendations of career prosecutors, Ms. Lynch is keeping the regular process largely intact.
Often... largely... It seems to me discretion is discretion. Even if you rarely use it, the ability to use it changes the the process. To give up the discretion before you see what you'll be asked to do is very different indeed. But Lynch could have given up her role much earlier in this process, and she chose to wait until now to give it up, now, after the secret meeting with Bill Clinton came to light. That doesn't look terrible lofty and disinterested, but at least she moved quickly to extract herself from the political storm.

How that storm hits Hillary, we shall see.

June 30, 2016

"So we are supposed to believe here that Bill Clinton, a 70-year-old man with a history of heart trouble played golf in Phoenix where it was 108, 110 degrees..."

"... maybe he played on Sunday when it was 108, I don't know. And then he's on the way to the airport to leave, is told that Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, is soon due to arrive, delays his departure, goes to a vacant private jet on the tarmac where she happens to be. He delays his departure to go have the meeting at which they discuss their grandchildren and their travels.... I try to envision that and it just doesn't work for me. It just doesn't work for me. So what else might have been going on at this meeting?..."

Rush Limbaugh applies his skeptical mind to the Bill-meets-Loretta story.

Photographing the bee...


... and seeing the ants. (Click image to enlarge.)

"Conviction vacated, new trial granted for Adnan Syed of 'Serial.'"

"The court finds that trial counsel's performance fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment when she failed to cross-examine the state's cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery," wrote retired Judge Martin Welch.

MORE: Here, in the NYT:
In February, Mr. Syed’s defense challenged the testimony of an AT&T engineer whose sworn statements on cellphone data were used to link Mr. Syed to the park where Ms. Lee’s body was buried. The engineer, Abraham Waranowitz, said he was not shown a crucial disclaimer about cell tower data that would have affected his testimony in the murder trial.

But much of the defense team’s argument for a retrial centered on the testimony of Asia McClain, an alibi witness who also figured prominently in “Serial.”

Eye-catching tweet of the afternoon.

"The bright, wide-eyed, pupils-dilated, bushy-tailed look with the over-zealous grin is a dead giveaway in c.o.c.a.i.n.e users."

"Surprised her Fox employer didn't catch on sooner or maybe they just thought she was high energy."

The top-rated comment on a Daily Mail article titled "Fox Business producer, Chipotle executive and Merrill Lynch banker arrested in huge crackdown on cocaine buyers in New York."

Looking at the picture of her — and, really, go to the link and see the picture — I'm thinking that's a look I see way too often on TV. It annoys me, whatever the cause. Horrific.

"In a moment of desperation to get out of the cell, I took the pay phone off the wall and hit myself once across the forehead with it as hard as I could."

"I knew I had to injure myself to get out of the cell and into a hospital, and it was the only solution I could find to get myself out of there.”

The strange story of Calum McSwiggan, the 26-year-old YouTube personality, who's charged with making a false report.
The absence of visible marks on his face when he was booked did not mean his story of being attacked was false, he wrote [on a long Facebook post].... “Being accused of being a liar and being called a disgrace to the LGBT+ community, a community I’ve dedicated my life to, is more painful than any hate crime could ever be,” he wrote.

The Gary Johnson/William Weld alternative.

Headline I completely misread: "Air Wars Favor Clinton."

That's at ABC News, for an item by Michael Falcone that turns out to be about the money spent on advertising. Hillary spent 12 times as much as Trump this month.

I clicked through thinking I was going to read an interesting theory about how the Obama administration's military strategy of keeping drones in the air and boots off the ground would redound to Clinton's benefit.

"Whatever you do, don’t apologize. You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back."

"Remember? He was doing okay ’til he said he was sorry.... Hillary’s called me a ‘xenophobe’ a few times. How many people even know what the word means? Same with ‘nativist.'"

Said Donald Trump.

By the way, how many people know what Jimmy the Greek did way back? I remember that it was something racist-ish. Here, refresh your recollection:

"uh, professor, i think you better hustle over to drudge for a classic drudgetaposition."

Says Kit Carson in the comments to the 8:03 a.m. post. Drudge is featuring the new Rasmussen poll, which I've already blogged about here, but what's Drudgtapositionally interesting is Trump's pointing at a man's naked ass:

That "pulls into" is... cheeky.

Widening the frame, we see — in contrast to Trump's dominant and solitary finger — a mishmash of hands, one of which belongs to Obama:

"VIDEO: '3 Amigos' look like 3 Stooges during botched handshake..."

The intentionality of the the juxtapositioning is proved beyond dispute if we continue down the central column to find another dominant hand:

The big hand of Michael Phelps — 5 fingers for the 5th Olympic qualification.

So we have 2 big dominant hands — each starkly meaningful — bracketing the botched, muddled handsiness...

... of Obama, in Canada, with his globalizing friends Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto.

"After trailing Hillary Clinton by five points for the prior two weeks, Donald Trump has now taken a four-point lead."

"The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Trump with 43% of the vote, while Clinton earns 39%.... Last week at this time, it was Clinton 44%, Trump 39%."

What happened? Trump's jobs speech on top of Brexit? The newest dollop of terrorism? Or just another fluke in the not-to-be-believed-yet polls?

"Of the more than 50 films Steven Spielberg has directed, was this my least favorite?"

Richard Roeper asked himself.
No, I haven’t forgotten about “The Adventures of Tintin” or “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” or “Hook” or “1941.” But if I had to rank all of the Spielberg-directed films, from the myriad four-star classics through the terrific but slightly lesser movies down to the very small handful of misses, I think I’d rather see every one of Spielberg’s previous films before having to sit through “The BFG” again.

"We who explore the future are like those ancient mapmakers, and it is in this spirit that the concept of future shock and the theory of the adaptive range are presented here..."

"... not as final word, but as a first approximation of the new realities, filled with danger and promise, created by the accelerative thrust."

Wrote Alvin Toffler, quoted in his NYT obituary.

He wrote some big bestsellers that affected how many people felt about plunging into the future. "Future Shock" (1970). "The Third Wave" (1980).

The NYT is standoffish: "Critics were not sure what to make of Mr. Toffler’s literary style or scholarship. The mechanical engineering scholar and systems theorist Richard W. Longman wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Toffler 'sends flocks of facts and speculation whirling past like birds in a tornado.' In Time magazine, the reviewer R. Z. Sheppard wrote, 'Toffler’s redundant delivery and overheated prose turned kernels of truth into puffed generalities.' Mr. Toffler’s work nevertheless found an eager readership among the general public, on college campuses, in corporate suites and in national governments. Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House, met the Tofflers in the 1970s and became close to them. He said 'The Third Wave' had immensely influenced his own thinking and was “one of the great seminal works of our time.' Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang of China convened conferences to discuss 'The Third Wave' in the early 1980s, and in 1985 the book was the No. 2 best seller in China. Only the speeches of the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping sold more copies."

IN THE COMMENTS: Eric the Fruit Bat said:
I think they might have made "Future Shock" into some kind of an educational film and we watched it when I was in 8th grade science class. All I remember is something about disposability and some little girl throwing her doll into the trash can.

Later on I read "Mega Trends," and whatever came after it, and I would go to the library to read some magazine that I think was called "The Futurist." Pretty dull, useless stuff, it turned out.

I really miss the feeling I got back when I was a little kid watching stuff like the 3M TV commercials during Jacques Cousteau. The future seemed like it was going to be wonderful.

But, you know, you can't go home again.
Oh? Maybe you can. Here:

Mitt Romney reveals — just yesterday! — that he's decided not to run for President.

"I got an email from one of my sons yesterday that said, 'You’ve got to get in, dad. You’ve got to get in.'"
The former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican Party nominee said the push came “late in the process” because his family members were “concerned about the direction of the nominating process in our party.”...
This end-stage Stop-Trump business is gruesome. 

"Yale [Law School] made me feel, for the first time in my life, that others viewed my life with intrigue."

"Professors and classmates seemed genuinely interested in what seemed to me a superficially boring story: I went to a mediocre public high school, my parents didn’t go to college, and I grew up in Ohio. The same was true of nearly everyone I knew. At Yale, these things were true of no one. Even my service in the Marine Corps was pretty common in Ohio, but at Yale, many of my friends had never spent time with a veteran of America’s newest wars. In other words, I was an anomaly. That’s not exactly a bad thing. For much of that first year in law school, I reveled in the fact that I was the only big marine with a Southern twang at my elite law school...."

From "As A Poor Kid From The Rust Belt, Yale Law School Brought Me Face-to-face With Radical Inequality," by J.D. Vance. This is an extract from the book, "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis."

"This is not a time to quail, it is not a crisis, nor should we see it as an excuse for wobbling or self-doubt..."

... but this is not a moment for him to step up to the task.

Boris Johnson has concluded that he can't be the one to succeed David Cameron and lead the UK through Brexit.

Consider Theresa May, the home secretary:
Ms. May has been occasionally likened to Margaret Thatcher, the former Conservative prime minister, as they both came from humble roots. “I grew up the daughter of a local vicar, and the granddaughter of a regimental sergeant-major,” Ms. May said. “Public service has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.
Many people come from humble roots, but she's also a woman, but it takes more than that to be Margaret Thatcher. Good luck, though.

There's also Michael Gove, whose decision to seek the job seems to be what provoked Johnson to withdraw.
Mr. Gove, who was unpopular in his previous cabinet post as education secretary, has been a close friend of Mr. Cameron. The prime minister’s aides have been widely reported as seeking to block the rise of Mr. Johnson, who only backed “Leave” at the last minute, even though Mr. Cameron had promised him his choice of almost any job in the government to back “Remain.”

June 29, 2016

Mendota, today.



Lovely as ever.

"This is the new pen...."


I'd said the other day, "I ordered the pen. I ordered the ink." The ink arrived yesterday and the pen today. I'm just so pleased with it. I'm getting back to my artistic proclivities. #Altexit.

"The Spherical Droste Effect, with added twist and recursion."

Via Metafilter, which has some more links (plus discussion). Note that at the beginning of the video, they talk about what you should be seeing, and I could see that my browser, Safari, wasn't handling it properly. So I switched to Firefox, and that worked.

"People who go through male puberty are taller, have bigger bones and develop greater muscle mass than those who go through female puberty..."

"... said William Briner, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Uniondale, New York, during a session on transgender athletes at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in early June."
Men also have more red blood cells than women, and their hearts and lungs are bigger too. Some of these advantages are irreversible, Briner said, even if testosterone levels are cut. “Insofar as there is an ‘athleticism gene,’” it’s the gene on the Y chromosome that signals the development of testes and the production of testosterone, writes David Epstein in his book, “The Sports Gene.”

These differences give men a distinct advantage over women, and they’re the reason that sport is segregated by gender. Which is all fine and great until it comes time to sort women from men....

"This morning... FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver predicted that Hillary Clinton will win the general election against Donald Trump."

"Clinton has a 79 percent chance of winning the election, compared to Trump's 20 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast."

And here's Nate Silver's piece from May 18th, "How I Acted Like A Pundit And Screwed Up On Donald Trump/Trump’s nomination shows the need for a more rigorous approach."

"41 killed... 230 injured... 11th busiest... 6.44 percent... 8 percent... 0..."

"Significant Digits For The Istanbul Attacks."

Aint wet.

Soho artist by John Althouse Cohen on 500px.com

Photo titled "Soho Artist" by John Althouse Cohen. Click on the photo for a better, enlarged view. And use the arrows to get to many images of array of people you might see or not see in NYC.

Union Square by John Althouse Cohen on 500px.com

"If we were to start profiling people of 'Middle-Eastern' or 'brown' appearance, jihadists will simply recruit white Muslims from the Caucasus, like the Tsarnaev brothers..."

"... who struck at the Boston Marathon. In fact, al Qaeda has been trying to use our very prejudices against us for many years, which is why Osama Bin Laden recruited a 'white army of terror' from the huge number of converts that joined his cause. If it is only men we profile, jihadists will train women, such as the Chechens did with their Black Widows, or this latest Tashfeen Malik in San Bernardino. Astoundingly, male jihadists have even cross-dressed in burkas to avoid capture. If it is any adult of fighting age that we screen for, jihadists have turned to grandmother suicide bombers and even animals laden with explosives."

Wrote Maajid Nawaz, whose Wikipedia page I'm reading after seeing him on TV talking about Brexit.

"We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well."

"In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: 'And how are you crazy?'"

"Misty K. Snow is the first transgender nominee from a major party to run for a U.S. Senate seat and she shares the distinction of being the first transgender person to run for Congress."

"Misty Plowright, a transgender woman, claimed the Democratic nomination in Colorado's conservative 5th House District on Tuesday."

Reports The Salt Lake Tribune, confusing me on first read. I was thinking why did the last name switch from Snow to Plowright? Eventually, it dawned on me that there are 2 Mistys, one in Utah, nominated for the Senate, named Snow, and one in Colorado, nominated for the House, named Plowright.

Transgender people are choosing their own names, but is there some reason why Misty would be a popular name for someone making a distinct, personal statement of a desire to be seen as female? "Misty" is most notable to me as the great song. Look at me....

Johnny Mathis is still alive. I'm reading the awkwardly written Wikipedia article about him...
Mathis was misquoted [sic] in a 1982 Us Magazine article, where he was quoted as having said, "Homosexuality is a way of life that I've grown accustomed to." However, he made no further comments on this, and Us Magazine later retracted the statement. In 2006, Mathis revealed that his silence had been because of death threats he received as a result of that 1982 article. On April 13, 2006, Mathis granted a podcast interview with The Strip in which he talked about the subject once again, and how some of his reluctance to speak on the subject was partially generational.
Johnny Mathis is 80. I hope he's doing well.

I doubt if the modern-day Mistys, Snow and Plowright, chose their name because of the beautiful old song. I'm thinking it was more likely the influence of Misty May-Treanor, the volleyball star, or Misty Copeland, the ballerina. It could have been the pornographic Mistys, Rain and Stone. There are so many Mistys....

ADDED: The song "Misty" was written by Erroll Garner, who played it in an ultra-schmaltzy style that's quite enjoyable....

Johnny Mathis heard him play it and said if it had words, he'd sing it, and that's how we got all that "kitten up a tree... puppet on a string..." business.

And speaking of names, Garner is a fine last name, but don't let me catch you using "garner" as an ordinary verb as if you think "get" isn't a real word, in sentences like "He's playing you guys like a fiddle, the press, by saying outrageous things, and garnering attention," which is something Jeb Bush said about Donald Trump. Donald Trump will never say "garner" for "get," and it's interesting to think of Trump playing the fiddle with his famously short fingers, and I was just thinking about Trump's short fingers as I watched Erroll Garner play the piano so gloriously with what are startlingly short fingers.

Will Brexit tip American voters to Trump?

Today, we see the first poll data that post-dates the Brexit results — partially post-dates. The referendum took place on June 23rd and we knew the result beginning June 24th, so 4 of the 7 days covered in this new Quinnipiac poll (PDF) took a reading of Americans who could have been influenced by seeing how the British voted:

As the pollster puts it: "Democrat Hillary Clinton has 42 percent to Republican Donald Trump’s 40 percent – too close to call – as American voters say neither candidate would be a good president and that the campaign has increased hatred and prejudice in the nation...."
“It would be difficult to imagine a less flattering from-the-gut reaction to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “This is where we are. Voters find themselves in the middle of a mean-spirited, scorched earth campaign between two candidates they don’t like. And they don’t think either candidate would be a good president.”
That's one way to look at it. These nasty people are fighting too hard and too dirty and that's off-putting to us Americans, who like harmony and niceness. In the end, we're not going to vote for the more likeable person, so it's not going to be an election like 2008 or 2012 or 2004 or 2000 or 1996 or 1992 or — I can't believe how far back this goes! — 1988 or 1984 or 1980 or 1976. America will have to grow up and vote for somebody we just don't like. Most of us anyway. I know some people love Trump. I even personally know at least one person who actually really loves Hillary.

And then I was reading this Bernie Sanders op-ed in The NYT, "Democrats Need to Wake Up," and the wake-up call, for Bernie, is Brexit: "Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could." He says: "The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change."

That would seem to point straight at Trump, but of course, Bernie Sanders is not going to do that. He quickly cautions us not to go there:
But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message....

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.
What are these people supposed to do? How could Hillary Clinton possibly "wake up" into a believable new response?

June 28, 2016

Beautiful Lake Mendota...


... on today's walk. The temperature was 62°. Summer in Madison. Perfect! And I mean even before I got to The Terrace and the Union Utopia ice cream.

"Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization - moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas."

"Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache. When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing. For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment.... Many Pennsylvania towns once thriving and humming are now in a state despair. This wave of globalization has wiped out our middle class. It doesn't have to be this way. We can turn it all around - and we can turn it around fast. But if we're going to deliver real change, we're going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pushed by powerful corporations, media elites, and political dynasties. The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything - and say anything - to keep things exactly as they are. The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change...."

From Donald Trump's job's plan speech, delivered today, 30 miles from Pittsburgh.

"No governing body has so tenaciously tried to determine who counts as a woman for the purpose of sports as the I.A.A.F. and the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.)."

"Those two influential organizations have spent a half-century vigorously policing gender boundaries. Their rationale for decades was to catch male athletes masquerading as women, though they never once discovered an impostor. Instead, the athletes snagged in those efforts have been intersex women — scores of them. The treatment of female athletes, and intersex women in particular, has a long and sordid his­tory. For centuries, sport was the exclusive province of males, the competitive arena where masculinity was cultivated and proven. Sport endowed men with the physical and psychological strength that 'manhood' required. As women in the late 19th century encroached on explicitly male domains — sport, education, paid labor — many in society became increasingly anxious; if a woman’s place wasn’t immutable, maybe a man’s role, and the power it entailed, were not secure either...."

From "The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes/For years, international sports organizations have been policing women for “masculine” qualities — and turning their Olympic dreams into nightmares. But when Dutee Chand appealed her ban, she may have changed the rules." in The NYT.

Why is Trump's convention stage set done in silver and not his trademark gold?

Politico says "RNC unveils dramatic Trump convention stage" and shows a model of the set, which is aggressively silver, as if to say not gold, which makes sense. It's the Republican National Convention, not the Trump Convention.

Some things just shouldn't be decided by the people?

Via Instapundit, who says: "They love democracy until it turns out the wrong way" and "If you really believed that, though, you’d favor repealing the 17th Amendment."

But we don't have the referendum on the national level. Can you imagine how awful it would be? I object to the referendum on the state level too. I agree with the WaPo headline in the modified form.

The original form is hilariously embarrassingly revealing and elitist... and yet it's also sound. We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

At the Pink Edge Café...


... discover your own topics.

I chose this image to respond to pm317, who said, in last night's Dark Pink Hotel: "Althouse, stop playing with us. That unfocused fuzzy middle is making me sick in the eyes." I told him to look at this new image and added:
But generally, the focus is telling you where to look. Why try to look at what the camera isn't "looking" at? That's supposed to be accepted as the periphery. Don't fight it. It's not real life so you can't focus on it.

Helping Hope Hicks.

"Trump Hires Senior Adviser for Communications/Jason Miller served as the senior communications adviser for Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign."
... For months, Trump campaign aides have said that they wanted to beef up the communications team to assist press secretary Hope Hicks, who has handled the bulk of the work on her own. But some campaign insiders resisted such a move, preferring to stick with the unconventional political strategy -- of utilizing a small, tight-knit campaign team -- that propelled Trump to win the nomination....
Getting to normal. That's the goal now. If people — the people who didn't fall for the phase 1 wooing — come to believe that Trump is normal, he's in. Right?

ADDED: Writing this post made me want to go see if Scott Adams has finally gotten around to saying something new, and I see he has and also that it seems apt enough to tag onto this post:
[T]he folks on [Clinton's] side have been viciously effective at branding Trump a crazy racist.

Nothing else in this election matters....

The facts don’t matter. Facts never matter. What matters is that the “crazy racist” label picked up enough confirmation bias to stick like tar. The Clinton team won the month of June. And unless something changes, Clinton will saunter to an easy victory in November....
AND: Adams tries to figure out what Trump could say to undo the "crazy racist" branding. He pictures Trump saying he loves everyone and believes in the "melting pot."

I think what Trump is going to try to do — which he started yesterday — is argue that the true meaning of "racist" is what Democrats do, which is to openly talk about everyone — and to frame political appeals — in racial terms. What Trump said yesterday — about Elizabeth Warren — was "She made up her heritage which I think is racist. I think she's a racist actually, because what she did was very racist." The idea is: It's racist to exploit race, and they do that all the time. Democrats can be relied on to cite race continually, and Trump will have a lot of "there you go again" opportunities: They're trying to divide us by race to get political power for themselves. I will never do that.

ALSO: Trump might be able to get people to identify with him. He could say: I've been called a racist so unfairly, and it's what they do to you too if you don't stay in line. They've got people so afraid of being called a racist — completely unfairly — that half of the members of my own party are afraid to support me, they're so afraid they might get called a racist. This fear — this race-based fear, because of their racist name-calling — is terrible for America. 

"When people ponder the nature of a world without work, they often transpose present-day assumptions about labor and leisure onto a future where they might no longer apply..."

"... if automation does end up rendering a good portion of human labor unnecessary, such a society might exist on completely different terms than societies do today," writes Ilana E. Strauss in "Would a Work-Free World Be So Bad?/Fears of civilization-wide idleness are based too much on the downsides of being unemployed in a society premised on the concept of employment" in The Atlantic.
So what might a work-free U.S. look like?... School, for one thing, would be very different. “I think our system of schooling would completely fall by the wayside,” [says Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College who studies the concept of play]. “The primary purpose of the educational system is to teach people to work. I don’t think anybody would want to put our kids through what we put our kids through now.” Instead, Gray suggests that teachers could build lessons around what students are most curious about. Or, perhaps, formal schooling would disappear altogether.

[Randolph Trumbach, a professor of history at Baruch College] wonders if schooling would become more about teaching children to be leaders, rather than workers, through subjects like philosophy and rhetoric. He also thinks that people might participate in political and public life more, like aristocrats of yore.....

Social life might look a lot different too. Since the Industrial Revolution, mothers, fathers, and children have spent most of their waking hours apart. In a work-free world, people of different ages might come together again.... In general, without work, Gray thinks people would be more likely to pursue their passions, get involved in the arts, and visit friends....

"As if Brexit wasn’t enough, Iceland beat England 2-1 in Round 16 of the Euro 2016..."

"... in what many international soccer analysts are calling the greatest upset in the history of the tournament."


"House Benghazi Panel Finds No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton."

That's the headline in The NYT. Key word: new.
The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which it occurred, and it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in the Libyan city, and especially for maintaining outposts in Benghazi that they could not protect.

The committee, led by Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, also harshly criticized an internal State Department investigation that it said had allowed officials like Mrs. Clinton, then the secretary of state, to effectively choose who would investigate their actions. In addition, it reiterated Republicans’ complaints that the Obama administration had sought to thwart the investigation by withholding witnesses and evidence.

Linda Greenhouse notes the "dry, almost clinical tone" and lack of "poetry" in the Supreme Court's pro-abortion-rights opinion.

The case was about clinics — Texas imposed a requirement that led to the closure of many abortion-providing clinics — so what was notable about a clinical tone?

As Greenhouse puts it:
The dry, almost clinical tone could scarcely be more different from the meditative mood the Supreme Court struck the last time it stood up for abortion rights, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 24 years ago this week. “Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt” was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s mysterious opening line in that opinion.
Greenhouse does not quote the most poetic/mysterious/meditative lines in Casey (which even contain a variant of her word "mysterious"):
These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.
And Greenhouse misstates the authorship of Casey. She wasn't quoting an opinion for a majority of the Court that was written by Justice Kennedy, but an opinion announcing the judgment of the Court that was joined by only 3 Justices and that was written not by Kennedy alone, but by Kennedy along with Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter. However that "poetry" was created, only 1/3 of the "poets" remain on the Court.

Kennedy has had many years to think about whether that "exalted" tone is a good idea. (I put "exalted" in quotes, because that's what Justice Scalia called it, in his dissenting opinion in Casey.) And the 4 Justices who joined Kennedy yesterday were not around for the poetic exaltation of privacy rights that seemed appropriate to O'Connor, Souter, and him back in 1992. Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan are all post-Casey additions.

Kennedy, as the senior Justice in the majority, had the power to take the writing assignment for himself. He opted to hand it to Stephen Breyer, probably the least likely in the set of 5 to infuse it with inspiration. If the opinion reads as clinical, it's a choice, by Kennedy and Breyer, to make it so.

The others — the women, interestingly enough — could have written poetically in concurring opinions. Only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg chose to write a concurrence, but it was very short and not particularly exalted, though does contain some French. ("When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.")

And I have a problem with Greenhouse's phrase "stood up for abortion rights." I support abortion rights — and other rights too — and I don't think talking about judges standing up for abortion rights helps to preserve rights. It makes "abortion rights" sound like another political cause, and the Justices in the majority sound like the ones who simply embraced that cause, those particular rights, because they happen to like them and think they're good rights to have, quite apart from whether they are properly to be found in the legal document that's cited in the opinion.

Ironically, a clinical tone works better. It's boring and uninspiring, but it makes us the People feel that the Justices know their place, interpreting a text according to an orthodox judicial methodology. The Justices need to help us believe that they are not political, and — even more ironic — it's especially important to stoke our beliefs if they are making their choices out of their own policy preferences.

And, of course, the Justices know that our belief in the rights they talk about are fading even more quickly than usual as we look to a presidential election where it seems we are able to choose which faction of the Supreme Court will get new votes. They know they need to allay our suspicions and that any poetry in the pro-abortion-rights opinion would become a weapon for those who want to defeat the presidential candidate — Hillary Clinton — who would give them another ally in their political cause... if that's what it is.

UPDATE: Linda Greenhouse emails me about this post and I respond, here.

June 27, 2016

At the Dark Pink Hotel...


... you can stay up all night talking.

Why hasn't Trump said anything about the Supreme Court's new abortion case?

Hillary tweeted right away: "SCOTUS's decision is a victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right—not just on paper, but in reality. -H" and "This fight isn't over: The next president has to protect women's health. Women won't be 'punished' for exercising their basic rights. -H" And Trump hasn't tweeted anything. Josh Voorhees (at Slate) says "The obvious answer is that Trump is either unwilling or unable to quickly sum up his thoughts on a topic that he has expressed so many conflicting views on in the past and that has caused him so many problems in the present...."

Another obvious answer is: Gender politics isn't his thing. He only talks about abortion when pushed or when attacked.

"Hillary has brains, she has guts, she has thick skin and steady hands, but most of all she has a good heart..."

Said Elizabeth Warren, adopting the literary trope of listing bodily organs as she tried out in the role of VP candidate alongside Hillary Clinton at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal today. How many people would you think an event like that would draw in a city that size? It was only 2,600. Isn't that weird?

Trump took a shot at Warren today:
"She said she's 5 percent Native American. She was unable to prove it. She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career.... Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it. Other people who work with her know it. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. She made up her heritage which I think is racist... I think she's a racist actually, because what she did was very racist."
Racist racist racist... say it 3 times and it might make it true. Trump will never get his opponents to stop calling him racist, so you can understand why he's going the no, you're racist route. It's kind of interesting the way he's doing it here, because it's a very different kind of racism charge. He's accused of racial hostility, but he's accusing Warren of being a racial huckster.

Meanwhile, ex-Senator Scott Brown — who may himself be auditioning for the VP role on the Trump side — said "She’s not Native American, she’s not 1/32nd, she has no Native American background, except for what her family told her" and why doesn't she "take a DNA test" and release the results?

Why did Trump say — with no evidence — that "Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed" during the Benghazi attack?

A few days ago, NBC's Lester Holt confronted Donald Trump about his statement, in a speech, that during the Benghazi attack, Ambassador Chris Stevens "was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed."

Trump's response was: "Were you there? Were you there? Were you with her?" That is, he goes on the offensive. Instead of taking any responsibility for substantiating his charge, he acts like he can get away with saying anything that other people don't step up and disprove.

And Holt lets him get away with that ridiculous debate move. Accepting the defensive position, Holt says: "She has testified before the committee that she wasn't asleep, it happened during the daytime. There's no evidence."

Trump's response is scattershot, mixing the idea that she could have been literally asleep with the argument that "sleep" was really more of a metaphor:  "It happened all during the day and the story was going on for a long period of time...  and she was asleep at the wheel, whether she was sleeping or not, who knows if she was sleeping..."

My first reaction was: ridiculous! But then I heard something yesterday on "Fox News Sunday" and flipped into thinking that the very ridiculousness of it is a devious trick. Chris Wallace confronted Newt Gingrich about the "soundly slept in her bed" quote:
WALLACE: Now, Mr. Speaker, you can certainly argue about how Hillary Clinton handled Benghazi. But the fact is, the attack happened at 3:00 or 4:00 here in the afternoon in Washington. And she was working late into the night. As I say, there's plenty to attack her on. But why not stick to the facts?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I've had different people say different things about what she did that night and what her instructions were. Second --

WALLACE: She wasn't asleep is the point.

GINGRICH: OK. She certainly --

WALLACE: Maybe she should have been, but she wasn't.
The transcript notes "laughter" over Wallace's little joke. And Gingrich jumps past any controversy over whether Hillary was sleeping and sleeping soundly and in her bed. And here's where I want you to see what I saw, that "soundly slept in her bed" is a trap.
GINGRICH: OK. I think that on a lot of things people can argue about that Trump says and that Hillary says, but the objective fact is there were over 600 requests for security from Libya. Now, that number came from the chairman of the intelligence committee, not from Donald Trump. They were ignored. The fact is that in the end, there was no effective effort to respond. The fact is, she clearly lied about why it occurred. And again, you had families of the people who were killed who say she lied to them. So, I think this is a debate — they can get into details of picking a fight with Donald Trump. This is a debate I think they're not going to win, because on the larger framing of the debate, the country is overwhelming going to be with Trump....
That is, Hillary Clinton doesn't want to go into the subject of Benghazi. She'd like to close the door on it or view it from a distance as part of her vast collection of experience. But Trump is laying out a particular detail — that she soundly slept in her bed — a provocative lie that Hillary and her proxies will be tempted to try to correct. If they go there, then the specifics of Benghazi are getting talked about again, and it's not good for Hillary.

She and her supporters may think that it's worth it, because it's such a great opportunity to show people Trump's reckless disregard for the truth, but I think he thinks he's placing the winning bet, because: 1. Attention to Benghazi hurts her, 2. He seems to be okay with brazenly standing his ground, and 3. There's the path of retreat to metaphor: She was "asleep at the wheel," unaware and inept, even if awake.

As Chris Wallace's joke had it: What she did was worse than if she'd been sleeping. She should have been sleeping. Benghazi might have worked out better if she'd been out of the picture. That's where that conversation ends up going. So I'm speculating that he threw out a blatant fiction as an irresistible conversation starter.

Why don't basketball players do free throws underhand?

It's not that they don't know it works better.
Chamberlain wrote — "I felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong. I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now, the best one in the NBA, Rick Barry, shoots underhanded. I just couldn't do it."...

He's a high-threshold guy. He needs everyone to be doing something new before he's willing to join in. But Rick Barry? He's different.... What's interesting is that Barry actually has the same initial reaction as Wilt Chamberlain — I'm going to look like a sissy. But he thinks about it, and he decides it doesn't bother him....

That's exactly what it means to have a low threshold. If you have a threshold of 0, you're someone who doesn't need the support or the approval or the company of others to do what you think is right. Now, here's the catch — the person who thinks this way is not always easy to be around.... Half the players disliked Rick. The other half hated him....
Also at that link — Why don't football teams use all 4 downs to get 10 yards instead of punting? Research shows they'd tend to win 1 more game a year, and they know that. They're not stupid.

"But it felt like there was an invisible force blocking me from achieving my dreams. Sure, I'd think, is it because I'm fat?"

"But then I'd think, don't be paranoid. I refused to believe that people were that shallow. It had to be more complicated. I tried to put my finger on it, but I just couldn't figure it out. Once I lost weight [110 pounds], I realized, it was all because I was fat. It felt like that famous Eddie Murphy sketch on Saturday Night Live, where he goes undercover in whiteface and gets treated way better. He rides the city bus. And when the last black rider gets off, music starts. A cocktail waitress in a sequined dress hands out martinis. That's what I felt like — like this whole other world for thin people had existed alongside mine, a world they've been keeping a secret from me. When I was fat and I walked down the street, people would stare. I'd hear comments that I would ignore. Occasionally someone would shout something out at me. In this new world, when I walked down the street, attractive men and women would do something to me they'd never done before. They would look me up and down, and then they would nod their heads. Thin people nod at each other?"

From the "Tell Me I'm Fat" episode of "This American Life."

"Five myths about sharia."

From my UW Law colleague Asifa Quraishi-Landes in The Washington Post.

The myths are:
1. Sharia is “Islamic law"... 2. In Muslim countries, sharia is the law of the land.... 3. Sharia is anti-woman.... 4. Islam demands brutal punishments.... 5. Sharia is about conquest....
Debunkings at the link (which seems open to nonsubscribers, so don't skimp on doing the reading before opining — the idea is not to be ignorant). Key thought:
The human interpretation of sharia is called “fiqh,” or Islamic rules of right action, created by individual scholars based on the Koran and hadith (stories of the prophet Muhammad’s life). Fiqh literally means “understanding” — and its many different schools of thought illustrate that scholars knew they didn’t speak for God.
ADDED: Actually, the pay wall is a barrier. You could try getting in through private browsing. Anyway, I was looking at the comments over there. The top-rated one was:
That might be the most hilarious and absurd Islamic apologist statement I've ever heard... claiming that Sharia law and, thus Islam, is actually "feminist" because it allows women to orgasm during sex. I can't stop laughing. 
From Quraishi-Landes's text: "Fiqh scholars...  have concluded that women have the right to orgasm...."

50 years ago today — The Mothers of Invention released "Freak Out!"

"Often cited as one of rock music's first concept albums, the album is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa's perception of American pop culture. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music (although Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde preceded it by a week)...."

It's not too late to ask...

Who Are The Brain Police?

And the other important questions, still so relevant today: What will you do when the label comes off and the plastic's all melted and the chrome is too soft? and What will you do if the people you knew were the plastic that melted and the chromium too?

I've been asking that question for 50 years.