July 30, 2016

Maureen Dowd's new column, "Thanks, Obama," is titled sarcastically.

It took me a moment to get past the photograph — Hillary encountering Obama and doing that awful gaping maw expression right into his face — and then I thought I was reading a column of genuine appreciation of the goodness of Barack Obama compared to Clinton and it took me a while to realize that the title — "Thanks, Obama" — was sarcastic.

Dowd goes back to 2008, when an Obama ad said: “Hillary Clinton. She’ll say anything and change nothing. It’s time to turn the page.” Dowd quips:
Evidently, President Obama folded the corner of that page over so he could go back to it later. Remarkably, he bought us our return ticket to the past, rolling out the red carpet for the restoration of the Clinton blurred-lines White House.

An army of idealistic young people had moved to Iowa in 2007 to help Obama beat seemingly impossible odds. But in this election, Bernie Sanders’s idealistic young people were cast as unrealistic dreamers who wanted free stuff or, according to Gloria Steinem, dates....

The president made his vote-for-Hillary-or-face-doom convention speech only 22 days after his F.B.I. director painted Hillary as reckless and untruthful.
He argued that there is no choice but to support Hillary against a “self-declared savior” like Donald Trump, perhaps forgetting that Obama was once hailed as such a messiah that Oprah introduced him in 2007 as “the one,” and it became his moniker.

In the end, Obama didn’t overthrow the Clinton machine. He enabled it.

It turns out, who we choose is not really about our souls. It’s just politics, man.
Aptly put. 

"And don’t worry, we don’t restrict our conversation to the women in attendance. We touch on everything from Tim Kaine’s unusual shirt choice..."

"... to who among the many men who gave speeches was the best dressed by far. We note the slightly unusual suit color choices made by two notable attendees, as well as the horrible way Donald Trump gets his suits cut and the shirt choices Bill Clinton makes that set him apart from most politicians. Then, it’s onto the ladies, from Melania’s scrunchie dress to Ivanka’s bold-faced money grab, to the semiotics behind Hillary’s white or Michelle’s choice of designer, to the sometimes slightly inappropriate celebrity style choices, everyone comes in for a little bit of discussion."

Tom and Lorenzo discuss convention fashion.

At the Marigold Café...


... you can only write words.

"Of course, Republicans might yet prove frightening, and were much, if not three-quarters, to blame for every ill insight, they did not deserve the Presidency, never, and yet..."

"... if democracy was the free and fair play of human forces then perhaps the Wasp must now hold the game in his direction for a time. The Left was not ready, the Left was years away from a vision sufficiently complex to give life to the land, the Left had not yet learned to talk across the rugged individualism of the more rugged in America, the Left was still too full of kicks and pot and the freakings of sodium amytol and orgy, the howls of electronics and LSD. The Left could also find room to grow up. If the Left had to live through a species of political exile for four or eight or twelve good years, it might even be right. They might be forced to study what was alive in the conservative dream. For certain the world could not be saved by technology or government or genetics, and much of the Left had that still to learn. So the reporter stood in the center of the American Scene— how the little dramas of America, like birds, seemed to find themselves always in the right nest— and realized he was going through no more than the rearrangement of some intellectual luggage (which indeed every good citizen might be supposed to perform) during these worthy operations of the democratic soul when getting ready to vote."

Norman Mailer, "Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968."

Live-drawing the DNC.

"Much of what I saw, I drew. But much of what I felt, I could not actually draw. My hope is that the drawings here express the giddy gravitas of the moment."

At The New Yorker, by Liza Donnelly.

She's done some other live-drawing, but she did not do the Republican conventions. Based on the other things she's live-blogged and her style, I think the RNC didn't suit her because she has a light-hearted, sweet approach and (I'm assuming) she doesn't have the relevant feelings toward the Republicans.

Back in 2010, she did a TED talk on the power of cartoons, and the page at The New Yorker with that video has a cartoon of hers showing 2 little girls — they look about 8 years old — and one says to the other "I can't decide what I'm going to be when I grow up — a good girl or a slut."

"WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, has made it clear that he hopes to harm Mrs. Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency..."

"... opposing her candidacy on both policy and personal grounds. He has said that he has more material about the presidential campaign that he could release, which has raised the specter of more embarrassing disclosures just as Democrats try to capitalize on the momentum coming out of their convention this week."

From a NYT article with a headline that stresses not Assange but the Russians: "Computer Systems Used by Clinton Campaign Are Said to Be Hacked, Apparently by Russians." I don't know what helps/hurts her more, the notion that the Russians are out to get her/able to breach her security or that Assange is openly threatening to screw with her campaign, on his own terms, as he chooses to time it.

BUT: Why is Assange so antagonistic to Hillary? He's not for Trump, is he? Asked (on British TV), Assange said Trump was "completely unpredictable," but:
First, citing his “personal perspective,” Mr. Assange accused Mrs. Clinton of having been among those pushing to indict him after WikiLeaks disseminated a quarter of a million diplomatic cables during her tenure as secretary of state.

“We do see her as a bit of a problem for freedom of the press more generally,” Mr. Assange said....

In addition, Mr. Assange criticized Mrs. Clinton for pushing to intervene in Libya in 2011 when Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was cracking down on Arab Spring protesters; he said that the result of the NATO air war was Libya’s collapse into anarchy, enabling the Islamic State to flourish.

“She has a long history of being a liberal war hawk, and we presume she is going to proceed” with that approach if elected president, he said.
Here's an essay Assange put up last February: "A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war":

July 29, 2016

At the Pelikan Café...


... have a seat. Draw something. Say something. Or just watch and listen.

"I was going to hit one guy in particular, a very little guy... I was going to hit this guy so hard his head would spin, he wouldn’t know what the hell happened."

Said Donald Trump. Who was the "very little guy"? The NYT says:
Although this particular object of Mr. Trump’s disaffection went unnamed, he seemed to be referring to Michael R. Bloomberg. The two have traded barbs for months. In February, Mr. Trump urged Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, to run for president as an independent because he would “beat him.”
I'm just seeing that now, and earlier, independently, I'd arrived at the notion that Trump had been talking about Bloomberg, because I saw this tweet of his:

ADDED: What did Bloomberg say that bugged Trump so much? Here's the full text of his DNC speech. I'll just excerpt:
And most of us who have our names on the door know that we are only as good as our word, but not Donald Trump. Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off. Trump says he wants to run the nation like he's run his business. God help us.

I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one!... Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy...  I understand the appeal of a businessman president. But Trump's business plan is a disaster in the making....
Is the "businessman president" that Bloomberg finds appealing Bloomberg himself? You can see why Trump wants to say but I am the businessman who had "the guts" to run for President, unlike you.

By the way, I think that whether Trump wins or not, this "businessman president" idea is going to last. There are other, younger, businessmen (and women) watching and thinking about whether they should follow on. They've got the billions if they've got the guts. They are seeing how Trump is getting treated. Maybe they'll all be cowed if he's kicked around enough, but I doubt it.

"The whole affair has been a festival of inclusiveness. The media is eating it like cake.... That’s how it looks on the surface."

"And if you’re already a Clinton supporter, it probably looks great all the way down. But if you’re an undecided voter, and male, you’re seeing something different. You’re seeing a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished...."

Wrote Scott Adams, yesterday, before the Hillary speech. He's got a theory that "the Democratic National Convention is probably lowering testosterone levels all over the country." He means that literally.  "And since testosterone is a feel-good chemical for men, I think the Democratic convention is making men feel less happy."

I'm linking to him not just because I always link to him, and not just because I've been saying the whole convention has been a "celebration of diversity and the platitudinous assurances of commitment to equality" (and I like his phrase "festival of inclusiveness"), but because I'm extremely interested in the way equality/inclusiveness/diversity is supposed to substitute for actually doing well and becoming prosperous. That problem with the Democratic Party's message jumped out at me last night when Hillary said:
I've gone around our country talking to working families. And I've heard from so many of you who feel like the economy just isn't working. Some of you are frustrated -- even furious. And you know what??? You're right. It's not yet working the way it should. Americans are willing to work -- and work hard. But right now, an awful lot of people feel there is less and less respect for the work they do. And less respect for them, period.
See the problem with the framing of the problem? People just need to feel better about what they are already doing. You could have the same bad, low-paying job but what needs to change is that you should be — should feel — respected for staying right there.

The next line was also telling:
Democrats are the party of working people. But we haven't done a good enough job showing that we get what you're going through...
How does "we" become "you" in that sentence? I thought all were in the party. But there are the real insiders — those consolidating their own party power — who are the real "we," and they need to show you — you, the people — that they care about you, because we need you to vote for us. 
... and that we're going to do something about it. So I want to tell you tonight how we will empower Americans to live better lives.
See? She doesn't say she's going to empower you to get ahead economically. The idea is "to live better lives" — which sounds like some sort of elevation of your character. You can be "better." You can be "respected."

Yes, she does proceed to declare it her "primary mission ... to create more opportunity and more good jobs" and to make a bunch of disjointed assertions like "our economy isn't working the way it should because our democracy isn't working the way it should" and "That's why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights" and "American corporations that have gotten so much from our country should be just as patriotic in return." You can diminish my point with that additional material if you like, but what jumped out and grabbed me jumped out and grabbed me.

"What's the spot on her tongue?"

Oh, my... yikes...

What she wore.

As the NYT fashion writer Vanessa Friedman put it:
In her white suit, with her white crew neck underneath, Mrs. Clinton looked supremely unflappable: perfectly tailored and in control. Not a hair out of place (but some hair nicely waved). The kind of person who could carry the nuclear codes with aplomb.
... carry the nuclear codes with aplomb....

I'd like to draw that... carrying the nuclear codes with a plum....

I thought white was a good color choice. Friedman notes it's the color Geraldine Ferraro wore in 1984 to accept the nomination for vice president and that it's traditionally held to symbolize purity.

What I noticed about the white was that it wasn't any of those other colors — like that atrocious one I thought of as "swimming pool" that she wore in her event introducing Tim Kaine.

Sometimes men wear white suits. There's Tom Wolfe and Colonel Sanders and John Lennon on the cover of "Abbey Road." But imagine a male presidential candidate stepping out in a white suit. You'd think he was a lunatic. They wouldn't say he could carry the nuclear codes with aplomb. And if he showed up in a plum-colored suit, we'd say...

... man, go.

"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons."

Said Hillary Clinton on about Donald Trump, quoted at Facebook by my son John Althouse Cohen, who comments: "I'm not a big fan of either of them, but that was a good line."

My response (over at Facebook) is:
Has Donald Trump been accused of ever doing any real physical violence? Hillary has. I don't know if the stories are true. But acting out physically is something associated with her, not him. He's a man who uses vivid words and speaks with expression. She uses flat, inexpressive language, but I've read that she's thrown things at Bill. Might be false. I'm just noting that there's nothing like that about Trump. 
Here's a link to a WaPo article: "That ‘Hillary Clinton threw a lamp/book/Bible’ story has been circulating for ages."

In the old days, one person getting through was seen as a token and not necessarily helping anyone else, possibly even hurting the others.

The idea that the first one through breaks what had been "glass ceiling" and now there's no barrier... how did that develop?

Do people even remember why it was called a "glass ceiling"? The idea was that women were coming into various enterprises and not perceiving any barrier. There was no discrimination policy and no one came out and said you can't advance because you're a woman. But as any given woman rose in the system, she encountered a limit, a limit that had not been visible, and when it keeps happening, to all the women, at the same level, at some point, you have to say, it's not something about the various women. It's a problem with the building. There's no visible barrier, but there's an invisible one — a ceiling made of glass.

The idea of shattering the glass ceiling came later, and it was embraced by people who were not too good at metaphor, at least not in the way that I like, which is maintaining a concrete image of what's being talked about. In a real building, shattering a glass ceiling would ruin your hope of getting to the next floor. You'll have wrecked the floor. Let's see if I can get Paul Simon to wander out on stage again....
There's been some hard feelings here
About some words that were said
There's been some hard feelings here
And what is more
There's been a bloody purple nose
And some bloody purple clothes
That were messing up the lobby floor
It's just apartment house rules
So all you apartment fools
Remember: One man's ceiling
Is another man's floor
If we get back to the original idea of a glass ceiling and realize that you can't remove floors, we see that there's nothing to break. The one woman who gets through has found a path, perhaps a stairway in that building, perhaps she's been led around to the special door that the men knew about, perhaps because she's in a sexual relationship with one of the powerful men on the other side — maybe the president of the company.

If some women are finding that access, it doesn't necessarily open the place up for all the women. It can be actually worse for the other women, as they get a false impression that women can rise in the organization in the same way the men do. The image of a glass ceiling only becomes apparent as all the women are stopped when they reach it. If some women get through, then you stop perceiving what is invisible.

But that doesn't mean there isn't sex discrimination. It only means that something more subtle is going on and that if there is discrimination, the perpetrators are more savvy.

July 28, 2016

We've reached the last convention night.

I guess the only thing that matters is Hillary's speech, but feel free to talk about whatever happens. Me, I'm thinking there are just too many speeches. What's left to say?

"When Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk in 1983 the world was enrapt. The dance goes back farther, to the 1930s..."

"... and pops up again in the 50s, before reappearing via mimes and West Coast poppers in the 70s. Follow the circuitous route of an iconic move."


Watch the 11-minute video — replete with Meryl Streep narration — that was supposed to be shown at the Democratic National Convention...

... until the Clinton campaign nixed it. But why?
The decision to cut the film at the last minute left some Democrats involved with the project scratching their heads. The source claimed that there were concerns by Clinton campaign operatives that the video presented too soft or too feminist a vision....

“While we’re all busy judging Hillary: her hairstyle; her wardrobe; whether she looks tired; if she’s talking too loud; she’s just quietly gone about the business of helping women all over the world,” Streep says, before invoking a litany of American women including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Chase Smith, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Delores Huerta, Geraldine Ferraro and her mother—all described as Hillary’s heroes. “In the end, Hillary did not realize her dream of becoming an astronaut. But, she did soar to a place no woman has gone before... Tonight we say thank you to all the women who would not take no for an answer: You dreamers and schemers, you rabble rousers and hell raisers, you petticoat abolitionists, you chain-smoking, pants wearing exhibitionists, you educators, agitators and aviators, you risk-takers, you rule breakers, you unlikely heroes.”
Probably the smoking.

ADDED:  "all the women who would not take no for an answer"... but doesn't no mean no?!

Also, I was thinking "pants wearing exhibitionists" might sound a little wrong and I googled the phrase. What came up was the kind of links I don't like to click on.

2 pictures of Presidents and the Russians who were out to get them.

You see why I put those up? Because of Trump and Putin? Nyet!!! Because Jack Davis died.
Jack Davis, an illustrator who poked fun at celebrities and politicians in Mad magazine for decades and whose work appeared on the covers of Time and TV Guide, died on Wednesday in St. Simons Island, Ga. He was 91....

He got his start in 1950 selling drawings to EC Comics, which published horror fiction titles like “Tales From the Crypt.” Two years later, amid an outcry over the potentially harmful effects of violent comics on children, the company started what became Mad magazine, edited by Harvey Kurtzman. Mr. Davis was a member of the “Usual Gang of Idiots,” the nickname for the crew that put out the magazine.
Goodbye to a great man!

Hillary Clinton has "a comprehensive plan to defeat and destroy ISIS and keep America safe"?

That's the question I asked out loud as I watched Leon Panetta's speech last night.

I found this fact-checking at CBS:
Clinton has been touting her plan for months. It's hardly comprehensive.The three-part strategy, as described in November, involves crushing IS "on its home turf" in the Middle East, disrupting terrorist infrastructure on the ground and online, and protecting America and its allies. All are elements already included in Obama's anti-IS strategy. And none addresses the biggest gaps in the U.S.-led response to the Islamic State over the last two years, such as the lack of effective local troops to defeat IS in Syria. At what point should U.S. ground troops step in? What levels of civilian deaths are acceptable? How exactly does she propose to end Iraq's age-old Shiite-Sunni divisions? She hasn't said. She's expounded further, but mostly to reject suggestions by Trump and other Republicans.
And here's the full text from last November:  "The strategy Clinton outlined hinges on three main elements – defeating ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and across the Middle East; disrupting and dismantling the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing, arms, and propaganda around the world; and hardening our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats."

At the Pelikan Café...


... have some caffeine and see what you can draw forth.

Trump has jokingly called out to hackers before.

Did Obama laugh at Hillary's slogan?

The line from the speech is:
Most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together – black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young and old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.
Obama laughs — scoffingly? — just as he says "stronger together," which is Hillary's slogan. 

Is there some reason why Hillary keeps doing this gaping-maw face?

Seriously. This is driving me crazy. Makes me want to...

IN THE COMMENTS: Sebastian said:
It's the face of someone still haunted by the thought that no one will ever vote for her.
I think he's invoking Bill Clinton's speech last night, which I thought centered on that idea:
She wanted his charisma in her, merged with her, giving her what without which Nobody would ever vote for me.
And it reminded me of what I was saying as I watched the long encounter between Obama and Hillary on that stage last night. I was wondering why she does that wide-open-mouth/insane-elation thing with her face, and my theory was that she's stuck making the best of doing appearances where she needs to look like the person who is intensely loved but she does not believe she is loved.

Next to Obama, the feeling must be excruciating. Obviously, he is loved. He's been loved for so long. The love he naturally attracts overwhelmed her earnestly entitled effort to become President 8 years ago. And now, here he is on the stage, doing his easygoing routine one more time, as if it's for her, and it's supposed to be a big deal for the candidate to unexpectedly hit the stage a day early, but everyone's loving on him.

 What added impact can she have? It doesn't matter. She must get out there and act the part of the person everyone's been longing to see, even though the person they love to see is already out there, owning the stage. She must pretend she's the one they want. She must!

At the Democratic National Convention —  40 Broadway singers scrambling for one microphone to sing "What the World Needs Now Is Love"...

... in what we're told is "a tribute to the lives affected by gun violence":

"Lord, we don't need another meadow/There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow/There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine...."

Please watch the whole thing, while observing your thoughts and feelings, and tell us how this performance affected you.

I'll just say Lord, we don't need another moonbeam. Think about Governor Moonbeam and how he got that name:
The nickname was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that [Jerry] Brown appeared to be attracting “the moonbeam vote,” which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional.

The term had a nice California feel, and Mr. Royko eventually began applying it when he wrote about the Golden State’s young, idealistic and nontraditional chief executive. He found endless amusement — and sometimes outright agita — in California’s oddities, calling the state “the world’s largest outdoor mental asylum.”

“If it babbles and its eyeballs are glazed,” he noted in April 1979, “it probably comes from California.”...

Sometimes Barack Obama sounds like he's doing his own Bad Lip Reading.

ADDED: Here's a real Bad Lip Reading. It's Ted Cruz at the RNC:

Nate Silver: "Why Our Model Is Bullish On Trump, For Now."

A new piece, just posted at FiveThirtyEight (where Clinton is given only a 52.6% chance of winning the election):
Most of the [other election forecasts] give Clinton a better chance than we do – some of them give her as high as an 80 percent chance, in fact, despite her recent slide in the polling. Why are our models more pessimistic about Clinton’s chances?...

Bottom line: Although there are other factors that matter around the margin, our models show better numbers for Trump mostly because they’re more aggressive about detecting trends in polling data. For the past couple of weeks — and this started before the conventions, so it’s not just a convention bounce — there’s been a strong trend away from Clinton, and toward Trump. Although there’s always the risk of overreaction, this time our models were ahead of the curve in understanding the shift....

Does the girl need Daddy to carry her?

That's the image from the other side of the Atlantic, at BBC. The carry-me quote, the "girl" with wide-stretched, up-reaching arms, gazing gleefully into the face of the man she expects to pick her up.

What an image, acknowledging Hillary's inability to make it on her own. Was last April's Boston Marathon stuck in the speechwriters' mind?

The actual quote — I don't know why nonquotes are put in quotes — is "And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands." And let's put it in context.

Here's the whole Obama speech. I'm copying 2 paragraphs worth, with the quote in boldface, and I'm going to pick through this pretty closely. There's a lot going on here:
Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics. She’s been caricatured by the right and by some folks on the left; accused of everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t. 
What is it we can't imagine? I'm having a hard time imagining that — even imagining what the criticism was. What does that refer to? That line forced me to try to think of something, and what came up in my head was: destroying women that Bill Clinton had sex with. Or, second, murdering Vince Foster.
But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do. 
So the criticisms of Hillary are just the same things that would be thrown at anybody in public life. It's only because we looked hard — like with a microscope or something? — that we saw things, but you'd see a festering infection if you looked with a microscope at anybody.
That’s what happens when we try. 
She tried. And look what you get when you try!
That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described – not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…[but] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.” 
The arena! By the way, can Donald Trump get in on this kind of sympathetic reading? He's hurled himself into the arena, striven valiantly, made some errors — a bankruptcy here and there, a Trump University fraudlette. He's not the timid soul. And in the end, high achievement. But Hillary, she's like Teddy Roosevelt, the valiant striver in the arena. Up for a big fight:

Heh. Did you know that's what "The Arena" looks like today? That's a video that went up a month ago and has over 6 million views. It begins with the TR quote, so I assume the speechwriters got it there. I invite you to try to imagine — as we're talking about things that can't be imagined — Teddy Roosevelt striving in that arena. Let me just lace up my ballet shoes.

Back to Obama's speech:
Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us – even if we haven’t always noticed. And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. 
That's the theme of the convention, you know. You don't like her, but tough. Grow up and do what you've got to do. This is serious. Forget about enjoying this encounter. Don't be ridiculous, you big baby. Put some ice cream on it. Do what you're supposed to....
You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes he will.” It’s about “yes we can.”
He reminds us of his greatest hit...
And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.
And Daddy picks up the little girl. 

July 27, 2016

Oh! The convention. Day 3. Do you care?

What's the point of Day 3? I don't get it. They've got to get the VP nominated, so there's one order of business. Other than that, it's a line-up of speeches, notably President Obama, but also the VP guys, Biden and Kaine. I'm a little curious about whether the convention will finally get around to the substance of the job of a President — notably national security. I'm tired of the celebration of diversity and the platitudinous assurances of commitment to equality. We're watching something else on TV for now — this — but I'm recording the convention and may get around to watching a bit of it. In the meantime, please let it rip in the comments.

Sugar, do you know what I'm saying to you this evening?
Maybe you think I'm being a little self-centered
But I, I said I want to be all of the things you are to me
Surely, surely you can see

Flight of the Pelikan/Drawing like Paul Klee.

Maybe you remember the series of blog posts, back in 2014, How to draw/paint like Paul Klee. I'd found the notebook about which I'd once written:
I have a notebook of drawings/writings done at a big Paul Klee show, done in London in about 2003, just before starting this blog. I'd like to copy the pages and blog it. I was analyzing/riffing on the... ideas that he used.

Wonder where I put that.
And I did a series of posts about what were really instructions based on particular works, including Lesson 7, which included: "using a single line lazy eight movement, make a tree in the center w/ suitable background." If I look back at the post now, I can see the actual Paul Klee work that led me to write that, but today, as I was sitting at the café with the old notebook, I saw only the instructions, and I loosely took the instructions to heart as I idly worked my new Pelikan pen into the pages of the old, old notebook as we carried on an elaborate conversation:



Does that seem absurdly unconnected to the instructions? First, those are efforts ##2 and 3. Here's #1:

The Trump press conference. I watched it.

Anything to blow a gasket about? Any bait to take?

Meade texts from the front yard.

Open thread... talk about anything.

"What stops us from looking at ourselves and seeing ourselves is that we’re kind of ugly, if we really, if we look really hard."

"We’re not who we think we are. We’re not, uh we’re not as wonderful as we think we are."

Said Bill Murray, back in 2014, in an interview with Howard Stern, quoted in a new NYT article — by David Segal —  titled "Confessor. Feminist. Adult. What the Hell Happened to Howard Stern?/Scattered among the gleefully vulgar mainstays are now intimate exchanges that have made Mr. Stern one of the most deft interviewers in the business."

That's one of the articles I read on my iPhone this morning before getting out of bed. I've had it in the back of my mind as something I might blog, and I thought of it just now as I was having a conversation with Meade about Bill and Hillary Clinton. The theory under discussion was that Bill and Hillary are not really of our generation but our parents' generation, even though they are only about half a decade older than us. What puts them in that earlier generation is that they don't believe in telling it straight and revealing their true selves. They think things need to be kept hidden and that what you say publicly needs to be a cover story. They never believed the 1960s credo Tell it like it is.

Why not tell it like it is? Let it all hang out — that's another 60s saying. I thought of what Bill Murray said: "What stops us from looking at ourselves and seeing ourselves is that we’re kind of ugly...." Not everyone thinks like that. "We’re not, uh we’re not as wonderful as we think we are." Not everyone thinks like that, but it is a way of thinking. You could also believe that everybody's beautiful. (Here's the song that plays in my head when writing that sentence.) You could take a flier on the belief that whatever you are is what you should be and it's perfectly good. What else are you going to do? You're you, and you're never going to be anyone else. Another 60s expression: Do your own thing. 

Did that make you think of Donald Trump? It seems that all roads lead to Donald Trump these days. And wouldn't you expect an article in the NYT about the greatness of Howard Stern as an interviewer would have something important about the Howard Stern interviews with Donald Trump, something as profound as the place where Howard took Bill Murray? Your NYT-mistrusting mind might be yelling at the computer screen: Not if it's anything that makes Donald Trump look good. Bill Murray was highlighted as the celebrity Stern opened up. If he opened up Trump in a similar way, we don't learn about from the NYT. Trump appears in the article, but only like this:
Mr. Stern...  is the same guy who, for years, traded misogynistic quips with anyone who was game, including, Donald J. Trump. In a 2005 phone interview, the two rated the looks of the cast of “Desperate Housewives.”

“Would you go out with Marcia Cross,” Mr. Trump asked, “or would you turn gay, Howard?”

“She’s got a good body,” he answered. “Just put a bag over her head.”
It's like one of those video  from the Democratic National Convention — those little videos displaying Trump saying something like "A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10" so you can sit there staring and hating....

"Bill Clinton had a very difficult job last night: He was tasked with making it seem like Hillary would have been the nominee even if she wasn't Mrs. Bill Clinton, the wife of the former Governor of Arkansas and the former President of the US."

Wrote Tommy Duncan, in the comments to the previous post.

That made me think of this section of Bill Clinton's big speech:
Meanwhile, I was still trying to get her to marry me. The second time I asked, I tried a different tactic. I said, "I really want you to marry me, but you shouldn't do it." She smiled and looked at me like what is this boy up to. She said, "That is not a very good sales pitch." I said, "I know but it's true." And I meant it. It was true. I said, "I know most of the young Democrats our age who want to go into politics, they mean well and they speak well, but none of them is as good as you are at actually doing things to make positive changes in people's lives."

So I suggested she go home to Illinois or move to New York and look for a chance to run for office. She laughed and said, "Are you out of your mind? Nobody would ever vote for me." So I finally got her to come visit me in Arkansas. And when she did, the people at the law school were so impressed, they offered her a teaching position. And she decided to take a huge chance.

She moved to a strange place, more rural and conservative than anywhere she had been. Where she knew good and well that people were wondering what in the world she was like and whether they could or should accept her. Didn't take them long to find out what she was like....
It takes a third asking before she agrees to marry him, but she's already moved to Arkansas and begun living with (near?) him. He's linked her up with a job at the law school where he works. Why would she go and teach in Arkansas if not to be with him? There's a way that you go about getting a lawprof position if that's what you want, and the normal thing to do is to apply to the best schools in the places where you'd be willing to live and to see how well you can do.

Any graduate of Yale Law School would know to do that if she wanted to enter academia. You wouldn't just snap up a job because Arkansas happened to see you when you were in town and threw an offer your way. Obviously, she was stepping down career-wise in order to be with Bill — a man whose offer of marriage she'd already turned down twice.

I know, it's only the story he tells, certainly not the whole truth and possibly hardly true at all, but I'm analyzing the speech. Bear with me.

Later, he buys a house and she — liking the house?! — accepts his offer of marriage, but it's the decision to bag her high-level career and exile herself in Arkansas that's really important, and look why she does it. It's the idea that in Illinois or New York, she'll have trouble establishing a power base, and not just because these places are big, but because "Nobody would ever vote for me." Why not? And what does that have to do with marrying her fortunes to Bill?

We know the answer to that question. It's the basis of the statement in the post title. She had a lot but she lacked something crucial, political charisma. She's still got that problem, even after all those decades of hard work and dogged desire. Bill was the magic missing ingredient, and she needed that in him. I know that last phrase looks like double entendre, but I only mean to dangle that in front of you for your amusement, not because I believe it's true that she wanted him sexually. She wanted his charisma in her, merged with her, giving her what without which Nobody would ever vote for me.

Maybe watching the convention on C-SPAN isn't such a good idea.

I thought that by watching on C-SPAN, I'd do more blogging, but I ended up blogging nothing, despite watching hours and hours of material.

Maybe what's on CNN and Fox and the rest is the real show, and what's going on in the hall is just the background, so if you stick with C-SPAN, it's like watching raw footage from a riot. How can you watch for hours and hours?

There was the roll call. I watched a lot of that. One lady was very old. The people from the Mariana Islands had floral headdresses. Bernie Sanders's older brother was there and said something about his parents that got Bernie very emotional. There was no outburst when Hillary crossed the line to nomination, which was puzzling, but then Bernie participated to stop the roll call and go straight to acclamation.

There was a long parade of people, mostly women, onto the stage, sometimes in great crowds. It was a big stage, so it took a long time for people to walk up to the lectern and then, after they'd said whatever, to walk back out. Lena Dunham was one of the people. Also Elizabeth Banks, a celebrity I'd never noticed before but decided was really pretty.

There were some short — great, something was short! — videos of Donald Trump, little hate nuggets. These began with a title — something like "Future Possible President" — on top of an American flag. They had these Monday night too, so those people who were saying there were no American flags to be seen failed to notice the flags that began the Trump videos. They'd have a clip of something Trump once said that was supposed to make you think a person who said that should not be President. The one I remember is: "A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10."

The most interesting thing chez Meadhouse last night was a discussion on the subject of how bad is it for a man to have said that. It's not like he said that in a political speech or interview. He just happened to say that once. I got rather literal about it. He didn't say this woman couldn't be a 10, just that it would be "very hard." And I note he also used "very" with the "flat-chested" part. The other 2 participants in the conversation, as I recall it this morning, didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with a man saying that, though all of us recognized that the statement has an effect on those who think a man should never express opinions about the attractiveness of women's bodies — whoever these people are.

The main thing last night — other than the ritual of the roll call (the cut-short ritual) — was a speech from Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was allowed to do his thing and talk and talk and talk. He went last and so: let Bill be Bill. Some people find him charming. But even those of us who do drift into when-will-it-end mode eventually or we've fallen asleep. Bill's idea for the speech was just to tell the story of his half century of life alongside of Hillary — tell it as if it's the most charming, beautiful tale of a guy from Arkansas who somehow got to weave his story together with the most hard-working do-gooder who ever appeared on Earth.

At Meadhouse, the feed got paused a few times to make comments about his failure to mention how he cheated on her time and again over the decades and how (we think) he's still doing it now. Was he never sexually attracted to her? Did they have an agreement about it and, if so, was it just don't let the public see what you are doing? These were topics of conversation during one of our many pauses.

You know, these pauses are only making the speech longer and longer and I'm falling asleep, the person not holding the remote control did not say, but she did fall asleep without hearing the end of The Wonderful Story of the Life and Times of Hillary and Bill Clinton. 

July 26, 2016

Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention.

Watch it with me. Hillary is nominated. That's the central fact, but there's got to be more going on here. Help me find something to talk about.

Lake Mendota, today.



"Historically, when Mr. Clinton does not have a job to do, he gets into trouble."

Writes Patrick Healy in a NYT article titled "A Worry if Hillary Clinton Wins: What to Do With Bill."
Putting Mr. Clinton to good use, while containing his less helpful impulses, would be a major test for Mrs. Clinton as president, given the spotlight and pressure they would be under and her limited ability in the past to rein in his excesses....

Given his insights and experience, Mr. Clinton could be more capable than anyone else in ensuring the success of her presidency – or he could cast a long shadow over her....

"Why did Hillary get rid of her middle name?... Hillary 'Rotten' Clinton... It's too close."

Trump didn't originate that — I can see Mark Levin using it back in 2007 — but I hadn't noticed it before Trump's little routine (which has some pretty expert comic timing, I think). 

Here's Scott Adams talking about it today: "Rotten cleverly incorporates all of Trump’s best labels for Clinton, including 'crooked' and 'no stamina.'"

"To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous."

Let's talk about what Sarah Silverman said. Here's my set of observations:

1. Silverman was not calling all Bernie people ridiculous, only the "Bernie or bust" people — only those who are so dedicated to a lost dream that they won't see the clear task at hand and do what needs to be done.

2. Silverman was ad libbing, not following a script. She and Al Franken had been told to stretch it, because for some reason the next person — it turned out to be Paul Simon — was not yet ready to take the stage. So we got something actually spontaneous. That's refreshing. Interestingly, it's something Donald Trump does all the time: Come out with unscripted expressions of his reaction to what's happening in the room right now. The attention to Silverman's remark gives some insight into why Trump has had such an effect on so many people.

3. Silverman's remark also hit people in an emotional place, I believe. Maybe not for everyone or quite in the same way, but what I think happened was: She assumed authority as the woman who can tell you what you need to be to measure up socially. If you've been caring about social acceptance and being part of the group — and maybe you've been feeding off of a communal feeling of being in the Bernie crowd — you're suddenly taken aback and warned that you could lose your inclusion. The people who matter think you are an embarrassment and you might find yourself, once again, on the outside. The meaning in life that you found with the Bernie people could be lost if you don't shape up and act the way The Lady says you must act.

4. The downside of her remark is this: The Bernie people — some/many of them — had been having a deep personal experience of awakening into and living in idealism. Something amazing and spiritually rewarding seemed to be happening to them. A wide world of potential seemed to be opening up. And now they are brought up short as Sarah tells them what felt real to them is just a childish thing that needs to be put aside. Join the real world, you starry eyed fools. So all that idealism, what was it? Were we chumps to believe? Were we exploited all along for our propensity to believe? And now you insist that we believe something else? Why? If we were a bubble and you popped the bubble, what are we now? Nothing! And Sarah's beautiful face morphs into the face of the witch who's been horrifying us all this time and she's laughing at us...

5. As noted at #2, the need for the stretching occurred because Paul Simon wasn't coming out on cue. Why would an old performer — one with much experience at live shows — have difficulty getting out there? Look at him and ask yourself what went wrong:

Maybe he didn't want to do it. He was for Bernie. He gave his beautiful song "America" to Bernie to use in the best (save one) political ad I've ever seen. Maybe Paul was close to being Bernie-or-bust and was busting back stage. But it wandered out eventually and struggled through that song that's not really written for his voice, but for Art's. Maybe he didn't want to lay himself down as a bridge — a bridge to Hillary. That's not the lofty spiritual destination over the bridge in that song. How, after all these years can he give that song to her? What a pale, debased repeat of giving "America" to Bernie! Ah, poor Paul! How dreary and sad the song sounded. Nothing like the exquisite inspiration of "America" given to Bernie. In the comments, coupe had said: "Bernie's not an idiot. He has millions of dollars in outstanding campaign bills to pay off. He's going to say whatever is necessary to get the DNC and Clinton to pay them off." And Meade wrote this parody of Paul Simon's "America":
"Let's not be suckers, we’ll marry extortions together
I’ve got some emails right here in my bag"
So you'll pay all of my campaign debts and I'll buy your Wall Street lies
And we'll walk off and sell out America
6. Proofreading, I'm surprised to see I wrote "it wandered out eventually." Ah, poor Paul! Drained of his soul! Ah, poor Bernie people, drained of their soul! Your soul was just something The Party was using until it became an inconvenient encumbrance. Shed it now. You look ridiculous.

If Donald Trump showed equivalent disrespect for the rule of law, he would be lambasted, but Bernie Sanders can say...

"Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United and end the movement toward oligarchy in this country. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment."

And you don't hear a peep.

And I don't mean "peep" in the sense of "My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."

And if you don't understand what I'm referring to by the shorthand in the post title, let me remind you of the way every Supreme Court nominee since the Bork debacle has presented himself or herself in the confirmation hearings — notably Justice Ginsburg:
At her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeatedly explained that the judicial obligation of impartiality required that she give “no hints, no forecasts, no previews” about how she might “vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide.” As she declared in her opening statement:
A judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints, for that would show not only disregard for the specifics of the particular case, it would display disdain for the entire judicial process.
Sanders is saying that Hillary Clinton will ensure that her nominees will forthrightly parade what Ginsburg called disdain for the entire judicial process.

"Oh! Elizabeth Warren just did a Nazi salute, waiting for the breathless indignation from the media."

"Well if Laura Ingraham gave a Nazi salute then so did Elizabeth Warren. But I'm guessing we won't hear about that in the media."

July 25, 2016

"For the last year, I’ve been feeling the Bern. Relax, I put some cream on it."

Said Sarah Silverman at the Democratic National Convention tonight.

It made me say, quoting the old Bill Clinton line, "Put some ice on it."

I don't think they meant to evoke that. Maybe it was only me.

After all the talk of how much Democrats care about women and the children they tend to, Al Franken ended his speech in a very discordant way.

"Many of you have jobs. Many of you have families. Ignore them. Let me tell you something: kids love it when their parents aren't home. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old knows how to use a microwave. And let me tell you something else. An 8-year-old can teach a 4-year-old how to use a microwave. That's just scientific fact. They'll be fine."

I know it's humor. It just hit me the wrong way. I didn't like joking about neglecting children.

"There is only one person" who is "truly qualified" to be President — Michelle Obama says — "and that is our friend Hillary Clinton."

Why say that to all the Bernie supporters in the room? He's not even qualified to be President?

And Democrats been criticizing Donald Trump for saying "I alone can fix it." As Chuck Todd said, interviewing him on "Meet the Press" yesterday:
One of the phrases you used, "I alone can fix it." And to some people, that sounded almost too strong-mannish for them. Do you understand that criticism and what do you make of it?"
Michelle Obama just said the same thing about Hillary.

Amid great disunity, the new DNC chair calls for the "Unity Report."

The newcomer chair, Marsha Fudge, struggles with the disorder at the Democratic National Convention:

I'll Keep It With Mine...



(Today, at Collectivo.)

"Hundreds of supporters of Bernie Sanders drowned out the Vermont senator with boos Monday..."

"... as he tried to make the case on the first day of the Democratic National Convention that his fans would need to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to defeat Donald J. Trump."
[T]he crowd remained fixed on their support of Mr. Sanders and not on the idea of defeating Mr. Trump. Over and over again they chanted, “We want Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.”

The reaction from Mr. Sanders’s supporters was consistent with the anti-Clinton message delivered by demonstrators earlier in the day. Some pro-Sanders protesters took a harder turn on Monday, chanting “Lock her up” in an echo of the message of the Republican National Convention a week earlier, fueled by the resignation of the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
 ADDED: Trump reacts:

"A meeting of Florida Democratic delegates descended into chaos when outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz took the stage today."

"In the middle of her speech in Philadelphia, angry attendees began to chant, 'Shame! Shame! Shame!'... 'We know that the voices in this room that are standing up and being disruptive, we know that is not the Florida that we know,' said Wasserman Schultz, who quickly exited after brief remarks."

Breaking news email from CNN, just now.

She knows that what is happening right before her eyes is not what she knows she knows.

"A toilet-themed cafe where customers dine on meatballs floating in soup-filled latrines...."

"Guests at the 'Jamban Cafe' sit on upright toilets around a table where food is served in squat loos.... 'Jamban' means toilet in Indonesian...."
Owner Budi Laksono, a public health expert who used to work for the local government, hosts discussions with customers and shows them videos as he seeks to encourage people to use dedicated facilities for their bodily functions...

"This cafe serves as a reminder that many people in Indonesia still do not have toilets," said Laksono, 52.... "Many critics say the cafe is inappropriate and against Islamic law," he said.

"So this is the story the NYT runs with, the one the Clinton campaign is pressing?"

"Instead it should be asking, What did Hillary Clinton know and when did she know it?"

That's typical of the highly rated comments at a NYT article, "As Democrats Gather, a Russian Subplot Raises Intrigue." ("An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?... It may take months, or years, to figure out the motives of those who stole the emails, and more important, whether they were being commanded by Russian authorities, and specifically by Mr. Putin....")

Imagine if Trump's campaign were putting out an equivalent fanciful story about Hillary's connection to a foreign power. As Donald Trump Jr. put it yesterday (appearing on "State of the Union" after Robby Mook, who pushed the Russians-are-coming theory): "If a Republican did that... they would be calling for people... to bring out the electric chair.... And again, if we did that, if the RNC did that, if my father's campaign did that they'd be calling for people to get the electric chair."

When you have an argument with your husband in the car, do you get out of the car? In an animal park? With tigers?

"Surveillance video that circulated widely online showed a woman exit a car, then walk to the other side of the vehicle, where she was attacked a few seconds later by a tiger. As the animal dragged her away, her husband and mother jumped out in an attempt to rescue her. The woman left the car because of an argument with her husband...."

The woman survived, as did the husband. The mother, however, died. 

I thought this was something that happens only in movies. The characters are going somewhere in a car and they just have to hop out of the car because of whatever the hell they are talking about. In real life — I've always thought — people just put up with being in the car together and try to get wherever they were going.

Don't panic yet, Trump loathers. Hillary's bounce is yet to come.

CNN reports its shocking new poll result with the into "The bounce is back."
Donald Trump comes out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.

There hasn't been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN's polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
So if Trump got 6, Hillary should get 6. Just hang on. Wait a week. The rightful order of things will be restored....

ADDED: "Pre-convention, independents split 34% Clinton to 31% Trump, with sizable numbers behind Johnson (22%) and Stein (10%). Now, 46% say they back Trump, 28% Clinton, 15% Johnson and 4% Stein."

Trump gained 15% among the independents!

AND: There's a big flaw in the idea that Clinton should get the same bounce from her convention — like it's a bounce year, comparable to 2000, when Gore and Bush got identical 8-point boosts. Trump had to move from being a strange phenomenon to being seen as even a normal candidate, a person would could credibly serve as President, let alone an especially great prospect. That is, he had huge upward potential. Hillary is so well known. What is the convention supposed to do to change how we think of her? Trump had to fight through the establishment and getting accepted in the ritual of a convention was a real transition from him. But Hillary was her party's preference all along. The convention can only be more of the same... except to the extent that the Bernie delegates — fueled by the recent DNC links — manage to act up. There's a downside for her if the Bernie people don't shut up for the good of the great cause of defeating Trump. But I think they will. Bernie is speaking tonight. 

IN THE COMMENTS: David said: "Is there really that much movement, or are the polls less accurate than usual in a year of rebellion?"

It may be that before the convention, people were holding back from telling pollsters they supported Trump and that the convention, by normalizing him, caused these people to go ahead and acknowledge they're for him.

I think it's been the case — and it's still partly true — that there are a lot of people who have the feeling that they don't personally support Trump and don't want to be thought of that way, but that they are aware of somehow nevertheless wanting him to win.

I have heard it expressed just this way: I'm not for Trump, but I want him to win. That's a hell of a state of mind!

Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.”

All were Marni Nixon.

Nixon has died at the age of 86.
Deborah Kerr was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956 for her role as Anna in “The King and I”; the film’s soundtrack album sold hundreds of thousands of copies. For singing Anna’s part on that album, Ms. Nixon recalled, she received a total of $420.

“You always had to sign a contract that nothing would be revealed,” Ms. Nixon told the ABC News program “Nightline” in 2007....

July 24, 2016

Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook floats the conspiracy theory: Russians hacked the DNC emails for the purpose of helping Trump.

On "State of the Union" this morning:
TAPPER: So, I have to ask, what is the reaction of the Clinton campaign to these DNC leaked e-mails suggesting that top officials, including the CFO there, were actively discussing ways to hurt Bernie Sanders in the primaries?

MOOK: Well, I think the DNC needs to look into this and take appropriate action, and I'm sure that they will. What's disturbing to us is that we -- experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these e-mails. And other experts are now saying that the Russians are releasing these e- mails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don't think it's coincidental that these e-mails were released on the eve of our convention here. And that's disturbing. And I think we need to be concerned about that. I think we need to be concerned that we also saw last week at the Republican Convention that Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian. And we saw him talking about how NATO shouldn't intervene to defend -- necessarily should intervene to defend our Eastern European allies if they are attacked by Russia. So, I think, when you put all this together, it's a disturbing picture. And I think voters need to reflect on that.

TAPPER: What evidence is there that the Russians were behind this in terms of the hacking or in terms of the timing by WikiLeaks?

MOOK: Well, we need to let the experts speak on this. It's been reported on in the press that the -- that the hackers that got into the DNC are very likely by to be working in coordination with Russia. And, again, I think it's -- if the Russians in fact had these e-mails, again, I don't think it's very coincidental that they are being released at this time to create maximum damage on Hillary Clinton and to help Donald Trump.

TAPPER: But it is a very, very strong charge that you're leveling here. You're basically suggesting that Russians hacked into the DNC and now are releasing these files through WikiLeaks to help elect Donald Trump.

MOOK: Well, this isn't my assertion. There are a number of experts that are asserting this. I think we need to get to the bottom of these facts. But that is what experts are telling us. Experts have said that it is the Russians that, in fact, went in and took these e-mails. And then, if they are the ones who took them, we have to infer that they are the ones then releasing them....
He's just passing along the theory he heard from some "experts." Go ask them if you want some details. 

"Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not speak at or preside over the party's convention this week..."

"... a decision reached by party officials Saturday after emails surfaced that raised questions about the committee's impartiality during the Democratic primary."

Breaking news email from CNN.

LATER: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday."

More breaking news.

At the Sunday Morning Café...


... talk about what you like.

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof asks "Is Donald Trump a Racist?," looks for concrete evidence, and finds it.

Many people are just incanting Trump is a racist and expecting you to already know and be on the same page, but I'm not that kind of go-along-to-get-along person. (Ironically, the go-along-to-get-along person is, in a different context, amenable to racism and to following a demagogue and so forth, so I'm happy with my standing apart from the Trump-is-a-racist crowd.)

But Nicholas Kristof, in a short column, undertakes to assemble the evidence, looking at nearly half a century of Trump's very extensive activities in this world. Kristof concludes that Trump is, indeed, a racist, but what matters is the evidence. By presenting evidence, Kristof puts us in a position to judge for ourselves. He also exposes himself to our judgment if his assessment of the evidence is biased. How much evidence do you need before you see — as Kristof does — "a narrative arc, a consistent pattern" that can't be called anything "else... but racism"?

For that great length of time, there should be an awful lot to amount to a consistent pattern, so let's look at Kristof's evidence:

1. In 1973, when Trump was 27 and working with his father, the Nixon administration Justice Department sued the Trump organization for housing discrimination. The government used testers, and, as Kristof puts it: "Repeatedly, the black person was told that nothing was available, while the white tester was shown apartments for immediate rental." The lawsuit was settled, and: "Three years later, the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate." Kristof doesn't say how that lawsuit was resolved, and he concedes that Trump "inherited" whatever the policy was. Kristof does not talk about whether there is evidence of discrimination after the mid-1970s, after Trump is out from under his father's dominance. And Kristof — I think quite unfairly — gives absolutely no attention to the absence of evidence.  If Donald Trump began in a business where excluding black people was the norm, and he ended that discrimination, avoiding even accusations, that should count as an achievement, and the failure to notice this is evidence of bias in Kristof.

2. Trump took out an ad in 1989, saying that the 5 teenagers who were convicted of raping and beating the "Central Park jogger" deserved the death penalty we should bring back the death penalty. You can read the ad here. It resonates with today's politics. ("What has happened to our City... What has happened to law and order...?") There's nothing racial in the text — other than a mention of the "families — White, Black, Hispanic and Asian" — who are suffering from the "muggers and murderers" who plague the city. But, Kristof tells us, the 5 who were convicted in the Central Park jogger case were "black and Latino." Kristof accuses Trump of "whipping up the crowds" in "a modern version of a lynching," but the young men were brought to trial and prosecuted, and the problem of law and order in New York was very real. Somebody raped that woman and left her naked, tortured, and in a coma. In those decades, New York was a scary place, and a person going into Central Park at night was considered a fool. I was a woman living in the city in those days. It was a very different place, where you were supposed to be smart and know that you were always in danger. Donald Trump spoke out about that. In later years, the men who were convicted — and who confessed — obtained their release because they did not match the DNA from the victim. This was a complex and important incident in which Trump played a role. Was that role racist? Decide for yourself. Is it part of a "consistent pattern" of racism? It's unlike everything else on this list. And by the way, does Trump get credit for vigilance about violence against women?

3. One former Trump casino worker, back in the 1980s, was quoted in The New Yorker saying: "When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. … They put us all in the back." So, there's hearsay from one person about what was a practice purportedly involving many other persons. Has anyone ever produced the evidence that this was a real practice or tried to figure out who demanded the practice? Where are all the lawsuits about he mistreatment of black employees in the many establishments Trump's organization ran? You just have one man saying something back in the 80s! That's the absence of a pattern. 

4. There is a book written in 1991 that has a quote from Trump complaining about one black accountant and calling him lazy and then making a racial wisecrack: "And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." Trump denies saying that, but even if it's true, where's the pattern? He made one regrettable racial joke a quarter century ago! If you're proving a pattern, shouldn't you have at least 25 racist jokes? I'd say there's an amazing lack of material like this. Has Hillary ever, in her 7 decades of life, remarked, after criticizing an individual, that maybe he couldn't help it, because he belongs to a group that people think of as having a particular characteristic? Are we going to label "racist" anyone who's ever said one thing like that, even decades ago? We could all sign the "Everybody's a little bit racist" confession, but then what? Why are we losing our minds over Trump being racist?

5. Trump made a show of demanding to see Obama's birth certificate. Obama was running for President and needed to meet the constitutional requirement that he's a natural born citizen. Is that racist? Because Obama is black? Because the possible other country of birth is in Africa?

6. There's Trump's statement that people entering the country illegally from Mexico are "in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists." Kristof concedes that "Latinos can be of any race," so "technically" it's "not so much racism as bigotry."

7. There's the call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. Again, as Kristof concedes, that's not "technically" racism.

8. Trump didn't distance himself quickly and decisively enough from from the Ku Klux Klan in a television interview.

9. Trump retweeted some things: "a graphic suggesting that 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by blacks (the actual figure is about 15 percent)," "messages from white supremacists or Nazi sympathizers."

That's it. That's all the evidence Kristof put together — from an event-filled half century career — and which he reads as "a narrative arc, a consistent pattern." Judge for yourself.