September 24, 2016

Loved the concert tonight at the Stoughton Opera House.


Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin. Love them.

Here's their new album: "Penny's Farm."

Here's a video of them playing in 2013:

"Hi Donald Trump… I’m in your corner. Of course I will see u at the debate !!"

Wrote Gennifer Flowers, responding to Trump's tweet:
“If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Jennifer Flowers right alongside of him!”

"This museum tells the truth that a country founded on the principles of liberty held thousands in chains."

"Even today, the journey towards justice is not compete. But this museum will inspire us to go farther and get there faster."

Said George W. Bush, appearing today, along with President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts, at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Nice picture at the link of Michelle Obama warmly hugging Bush.

Here's Time Magazine's transcription of what Obama said. Excerpt:
This is the place to understand how protests and love of country don’t merely coexist, but inform each other. How men can probably win the gold for their country, but still insist on raising a black-gloved fist. How we can wear an I Can’t Breathe T-shirt, and still grieve for fallen police officers. Here, the American wear the razor-sharp uniform of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, belongs alongside the cape of the Godfather of Soul.

We have shown the world we can float like butterflies, and sting like bees, that we can rocket into space like Mae Jemison, steal home like Jackie, rock like Jimmy [sic!], stir the pot like Richard Pryor. And we can be sick and tired of being sick and tired like Fannie Lou Hamer, and still rock steady like Aretha Franklin....

I, too, am America. It is a glorious story, the one that’s told here. It is complicated, and it is messy, and it is full of contradictions, as all great stories are, as Shakespeare is, as Scripture is. And it’s a story that perhaps needs to be told now more than ever.
Obama doesn't mention Donald Trump, but last week, Obama said:
"You may have heard Hillary's opponent in this election say that there's never been a worse time to be a black person. I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery or Jim Crow.... But we've got a museum for him to visit, so he can tune in. We will educate him."
It would, in fact, be a good idea for Trump to visit the museum, but I've got to say that Obama distorted Trump's statement. Trump did not say "there's never been a worse time to be a black person." That's Obama's paraphrase. Trump said:
"We're going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they've ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever... You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street. They're worse -- I mean, honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities."
It's a statement about "African-American communities." A slave was not living in an "African-American community." And Jim Crow was an evil system of exclusion, but to say that is not to understand what life was like in the communities where black people did live. I understand the political motivation for paraphrasing Trump's remark the way Obama did, but that paraphrase pretends not to see what Trump was saying. It's much harder — and much more important — to try to refute Trump's inflammatory statement if you're precise about what he said. And even if you did amass the historical and present-day journalistic record to refute it, why would you be smug?

Philippe Reines is playing the part of Donald Trump in Hillary Clinton's debate preparation sessions.

Or so 2 unnamed sources have told NBC News.

Remember him? He's a longtime Hillary Clinton confidante, most famous for coming up with the "reset" button that Hillary Clinton gave to the Russian Foreign Minister to symbolize our supposed new relationship with Russia in 2009. Reines is responsible for getting the word "reset" wrong and making it say (in Russian) "overcharged."

It's funny to think of that reset button now, with Clinton so critical of Trump for his interest in working with the Russians. According to Hillary's own memoir, the "bright red button on a yellow base... had been pulled off the whirlpool in the hotel" — the InterContinental Hotel in Geneva.

Also from the memoir:
Philippe is passionate, loyal, and shrewd. He usually knows what Washington’s movers and shakers are thinking even before they do.
Reines's name comes up in a few old posts of mine, including "When Phillippe Reines — the man behind Hillary's 'reset' button — said 'fuck off' and 'have a good life' to Michael Hastings — the reporter who died recently in a mysterious car crash."
Hastings was asking questions like "Why didn’t the State Department search the [Benghazi] consulate...?" and "What other potential valuable intelligence [besides Ambassador Stevens's diary] was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds?" Reines became extremely defensive and abusive...
Here's a CNN video from 2014 about Reines's getting testy when Buzzfeed — having heard that Clinton hadn't driven a car since 1996 — wanted to know about whether Clinton had done various other things that ordinary people do (like using an ATM or eating at Chipotle):

It's interesting to hear those commentators talking about how presidential candidates have felt the need to show that they do what ordinary people do — e.g., candidate Obama went bowling (really badly... and made a terrible joke about it) — but we haven't seen much of that sort of thing from either Trump or Clinton. I guess those 2 protect each other from needing to seem like a commoner. But way back before Hillary had that immunity — back in April 2015 — she made a point of eating at Chipotle. And remember the "Scooby Van"? Those were simpler times.

"The Case For And Against Democratic Panic."

From Nate Silver.
[T]he disagreement between polls this week was on the high end, and that makes it harder to know exactly what the baseline is heading into Monday’s debate. The polls-only model suggests that Clinton is now ahead by 2 to 3 percentage points, up slightly from a 1 or 2 point lead last week. But I wouldn’t spend a lot of time arguing with people who claim her lead is slightly larger or smaller than that. It may also be that both Clinton and Trump are gaining ground thanks to undecided and third-party voters, a trend which could accelerate after the debate because Gary Johnson and Jill Stein won’t appear on stage.
I don't know why When should I panic? is a relevant question (unless it's a trigger to desperate measures). I guess it's mostly that Silver makes it his business to assure Democrats with numbers. He translates the poll data into a more soothing likelihood of winning.

The editor fights — about punctuation... !

From a NYT article about the longtime Knopf editor Robert Gottlieb:
He and [Toni] Morrison often bicker about commas — he loves them, she uses them sparingly. “I am right and he is wrong,” she said in an email. “He uses commas grammatically. I deploy them musically.” He usually wins, she noted.

Mr. Gottlieb and Robert Caro, the author of “The Power Broker,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Robert Moses, and an ongoing, multivolume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, fight about semicolons, which Mr. Caro finds indispensable, and Mr. Gottlieb uses only as a last resort. Often, their shouting matches erupted into the hallways of Knopf’s offices, when one of them slammed the door and stormed out.

“He would always say, ‘Bob Caro has a terrible temper.’ The truth is, we both have a terrible temper,” said Mr. Caro.... “He’s willing to spend an entire morning fighting over whether something should be a period or a semicolon.”
Here's Gottlieb's memoir: "Avid Reader: A Life."

"I used to enjoy occasionally pointing out that Mitt Romney had once driven his family to Canada with Seamus the Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car."

"A campaign consultant told me that the Seamus story elicited stronger reactions from focus groups than any other aspect of the 2012 campaign. Donald Trump doesn’t have any pets.... If Trump has ever in his life had a pet, his campaign doesn’t know about it. There’s some question, in fact, about whether he’s ever even had an animal friend.... Bloggers have pointed out that Trump tweets a lot of unflattering dog references. ('… cheated on him like a dog …') It is true that he does seem to specialize in insult via canine analogy. I once got a letter from him suggesting I resembled a dog. He did not seem to be thinking about my large, friendly eyes. If he wins the election, we could have the first president in history to refuse to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey."

That's NYT columnist Gail Collins, scraping the very bottom of the Get-Trump barrel.

The second-highest rated comment there is: "It's not surprising Trump doesn't have a pet. Animals can discern a person's character." As if the received wisdom that Trump is despicable is so powerful that people can think that if he had a dog, his own dog wouldn't like him. And that's the ultimate in Trump Derangement Syndrome. To think that it could jog loose the longtime received wisdom about dogs — it's in my modern Dictionary of Received Wisdom under "dogs" — Dogs always love their owners, even Hitler's dog.

"When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally."

"When I presented that thought to him, he paused again, 'Now that’s interesting.'"

From "Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally/The Republican candidate took his case to a shale-industry gathering, and found a welcoming crowd," by Salena Zito in The Atlantic.
The 70-year-old Republican nominee took his time walking from the green room toward the stage. He stopped to chat with the waiters, service workers, police officers, and other convention staffers facilitating the event. There were no selfies, no glad-handing for votes, no trailing television cameras. Out of view of the press, Trump warmly greets everyone he sees, asks how they are, and, when he can, asks for their names and what they do.

“I am blown away!” said one worker, an African American man who asked for anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press. “The man I just saw there talking to people is nothing like what I’ve seen, day in and day out, in the news.”

Just before [Trump] takes the stage, I ask whether there’s one question that reporters never ask but that he wishes they would. He laughs. “Honestly, at this stage, I think they’ve asked them all.”

Then he stops in his tracks before pulling back the curtain and answers, so quietly that is almost a whisper: “You know, I consider myself to be a nice person. And I am not sure they ever like to talk about that.”

"Syrian and Russian warplanes launched a ferocious assault against rebel-held Aleppo on Friday, burying any hopes that a U.S.-backed cease-fire could be salvaged..."

"... and calling into question whether the deal would ever have worked. Waves upon waves of planes relentlessly struck neighborhoods in the rebel-held east of the city on the first day of a new offensive announced by the government.... Instead, the launch of the offensive called into question the entire premise of the agreement painstakingly negotiated by Kerry and [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei ] Lavrov over the past eight months: that Russia shares the Obama administration’s view that there is no military solution to the conflict. On that basis, U.S. officials have explained, Moscow would be willing to pursue a negotiated settlement in return for a cease-fire and the prestige of eventually conducting joint military operations in Syria alongside the United States against terrorist groups.... The attack puzzled many in Moscow who thought that Russia wanted the deal, said Vladimir Frolov, a foreign affairs columnist for the Moscow Times. But, he said, it now appears that Russia is 'leaning towards the view that this war is winnable. Realistic people realize that this is not possible, but some people are unrealistic,' he added...."

From "A ferocious assault on Aleppo suggests the U.S. may be wrong on Syria" in The Washington Post.

"In the Scriptures, the prophet Jeremiah denounces false prophets for crying 'peace, peace when there is no peace.'"

"We cannot condemn the violence of a small minority of protesters without also condemning the overwhelming violence that millions suffer every day. Instead, let’s look again at the vast, diverse majority of the protesters. This is what democracy looks like. We cannot let politicians use the protests as an excuse to back reactionary 'law and order' measures. Instead, we must march and vote together for policies that will lift up the whole and ensure the justice that makes true peace possible."

Writes William Barber II, president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P., in a NYT op-ed titled "Why We Are Protesting in Charlotte."

Did you know John D. Loudermilk wrote all these songs... and do you, like me, know all these songs?

I'm reading the obituary of a man I'd never heard of, who died this week at the age of 82. I love the picture of him as a youngish man, pointing at his framed gold records. The songs are so varied, including things I heard on the radio when I wasn't even a teenager, like "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" (1956), "Sittin' in the Balcony" (Eddie Cochran!), "Abeline," "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," and the unforgettable "Norman" (ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh):

Bill invited me to a show but I said no, cannot go/There's a dress that I've got to sew and wear for Norman...

Loudermilk had 2 of the most striking of the politically conscious songs of the later era: "Tobacco Road," based on "his poverty-stricken childhood in Durham, N.C.," a hit in 1964 for the British group called The Nashville Teens...

... and "Indian Reservation," a tribute to the Cherokee people and a hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders:

25 years ago today: 2 incredibly great albums came out — "Nevermind" (Nirvana) and "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" (The Red Hot Chili Peppers).

My son John puts together a blog post that's so much better than anything I'd be able to say... and I love these albums primarily because he played them and we watched the videos on MTV:
These albums came out a little too early for me to pay attention to them at the time, when I was just 10. But when I started getting into music and playing guitar a few years later, these were two of the very first albums I got, and they both shaped my approach to music.

They're both the kind of album you listen to straight through, over and over, not skipping over any tracks, because each one feels essential, from the hits to the songs you might have forgotten about but are happy to hear when they come on (Nirvana's "Lounge Act," RHCP's "My Lovely Man").

When I made a list of "the 40 greatest grunge songs," I ranked "Lithium," from Nevermind, #1....

Meanwhile — that same day! — the Red Hot Chili Peppers were putting out a 17-song funk masterpiece, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. "Give It Away" captures the essence of the band: gleefully sexual, deceptively simple, rhythmically infectious....
It's hard to imagine a better song-with-video than "Give It Away" — still completely enjoyable after a quarter century...

... the height of cosmic glee hitting the market the same day as that quintessence of dramatic gloom, Nevermind.

September 23, 2016

"After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump."

It's not even an endorsement, is it? Just a statement of a plan to vote for Trump.

Oh, Ted. Who are you?

Dumped on a Friday. Bleh.

But Cruz won the big swing states Wisconsin and Colorado and Iowa. He could help, but he's pretty useless in his clammy coldness, is he not?

"A Deadpan Hillary Clinton Visits ‘Between Two Ferns.'"

That's the NYT headline, which mutes what I think is really a criticism of what blatantly deserves criticism. Check it out:

The Times piece, by Katie Rogers, begins carefully:
Hillary Clinton, a candidate who has gone to great lengths to showcase the playful side of her personality, apparently wanted to prove that she can take not only a joke but a full interview of nonstop lampooning when she appeared on the mock celebrity interview show “Between Two Ferns.”
If you read far enough, you'll see that Hillary was trying to do something Obama had done, but she didn't copy his approach:
While Mr. Obama had playfully laid into Mr. Galifianakis during his 2014 interview — “What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?” — Mrs. Clinton appeared mostly deadpan, letting her host do most of the comedic legwork....

At one point, she was actually asked a policy question. But while she was explaining her hopes for improving the economy, she was interrupted by a Trump ad. Mrs. Clinton played along: “Why would you play a commercial from my opponent in the middle of our interview?”

“He paid me in steaks,” he replied, adding a scatological joke. (This is the one that got a loud laugh out of Mrs. Clinton.)
Wait! The "scatological joke" — at 5:13 — is "It's a good cut of meat. I think it's part of the asshole." And Clinton doesn't laugh at all.  She keeps a flat, glum face. How do you get "loud laugh" out of that? I'd remembered that the joke was about "the asshole," so I was curious to see Mrs. Clinton bust a gut over "asshole." Why did the NYT get that wrong — in an article that highlights that Clinton was "deadpan"? She was just as "deadpan" over "asshole" as she was about everything else.

Hillary Clinton is devising "attack lines" to "get under Trump's skin," while Donald Trump is studying video of HC debating to find her "vulnerabilities."

Is the debate prep the same or different? The NYT — in "Debate Prep? Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Differ on That, Too" — stresses the difference, but there's a sameness in relying on the weakness of the other person and hoping to reveal and amplify what's wrong with the opponent. The difference is that Hillary seems to be getting scripted zingers ready while Trump is learning how to read her. That is, Trump is going deeper as he preps and will be more spontaneous during the event.

But that's not how the NYT writers — Patrick Healy, Amy Chozick, and Maggie Haberman — put it. To them, Hillary is deep and Trump is shallow:

"How did the left in the West come to embrace restriction, censorship and the imposition of an orthodoxy at least as tyrannical as the anti-Communist, pro-Christian conformism I grew up with?"

"Liberals have ominously relabeled themselves 'progressives,' forsaking a noun that had its roots in 'liber,' meaning free. To progress is merely to go forward, and you can go forward into a pit. Protecting freedom of speech involves protecting the voices of people with whom you may violently disagree. In my youth, liberals would defend the right of neo-Nazis to march down Main Street. I cannot imagine anyone on the left making that case today."

Writes Lionel Shriver, in a NYT op-ed titled "Will the Left Survive the Millennials?" Obviously, Shriver isn't a millennial himself, since he seems to remember the Skokie case. He remembers it in a distorted fashion, which might suggest that he's quite old and his memory is failing, but he must be younger than I am, because I remember being in law school — I started in 1978— with students who were questioning whether they could support the ACLU anymore because it had defended the right of the Nazis to march not just "down Main Street," but through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood (one with many Holocaust survivors).

Now, I'll look up Lionel Shriver. Oh! She — she! — is only 6 years younger than me. She was 20 when the Skokie case came out in 1977. I guess it depends on the meaning of "youth." But how did she come to be named Lionel?
Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver on May 18, 1957, in Gastonia, North Carolina, to a deeply religious family (her father is a Presbyterian minister). At age 15, she informally changed her name from Margaret Ann to Lionel because she did not like the name she had been given, and as a tomboy felt that a conventionally male name fitted her better.
Okay with me. I'm a strong supporter of the freedom to be as masculine or feminine as you want while identifying as male or female.

Shriver writes novels, the most famous one seems to be "We Need to Talk About Kevin," and the new one is "The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047."

ADDED: After writing this, I saw that I had another Lionel Shriver tab open in my browser: "A Defence of Lionel Shriver: Identity Politicians Would Kill Literature if They Could."
To put it uncharitably, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a sensitive plant, had a tantrum during the keynote address by Lionel Shriver. Her ire was caused — or triggered, as the kids say — by what is a very conservative notion nowadays: writers of fiction can write about whatever they damn well please.
And here's that keynote address: "I hope the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad."
The moral of the sombrero scandals is clear: you’re not supposed to try on other people’s hats. Yet that’s what we’re paid to do, isn’t it? Step into other people’s shoes, and try on their hats....

If Dalton Trumbo had been scared off of describing being trapped in a body with no arms, legs, or face because he was not personally disabled – because he had not been through a World War I maiming himself and therefore had no right to “appropriate” the isolation of a paraplegic – we wouldn’t have the haunting 1938 classic, Johnny Got His Gun.

The poll question I'd like to ask.

Without resolving whether Trump or Hillary will win the election, complete the following sentence: The next U.S. President will be... free polls

"Make sense of it all - the NEW REPUBLIC is back!"

Email, just now, from The New Republic, to which I used to subscribe. The pitch:
We've made some exciting changes at THE NEW REPUBLIC. We have new leadership and a dynamic new editorial team, and each issue is packed with:

• Uncompromising political coverage with hard-hitting, incisive reporting on the progressive issues you care about most;

• Ramped up reporting on critical environmental issues, highlighting today's worst failures and predictions on what's next;

• A steadfast commitment to reporting the facts beyond the headlines with insights on the issues shaping this election cycle—and beyond
The progressive issues I care about most? So I guess strong political slanting is the "ramped up" approach of the "dynamic new" people at The New Republic. I'll pass on your "worst... predictions," because I've made my own prediction, based on your stupid pitch and bad writing: The new New Republic is a rag.

College whites and church whites.

The key to understanding white people in the 2016 election, in this FiveThirtyEight article, "Religion And Education Explain The White Vote":
College whites and church whites are taught different moral values in their respective houses of learning, values which trickle up into policy preferences. Members of white Christian congregations are more likely than any other racial-religious group to rank personal responsibility above structural factors, such as unequal access to education, in explaining racial disparities in income. And while secular universities rarely purport to give moral teachings to their students, research has found that college education increases tolerance.
Tolerance... presented as the other side of the spectrum from personal responsibility. Anyway, that's Theory #1. Theory #2 is:
[C]ollege whites and church whites disagree not only on value judgments but on empirical claims about the world... 
Theory #3 is "Different bubbles. The flip side of Theory No. 2":
[B]oth college whites and church whites exist in ideologically pure bubbles, where like-minded friends uncritically reinforce each other’s beliefs...
Theory #2 appeals to college whites, and Theory #3 appeals to church whites "or at least the conservative public figures who represent them:
... Rick Santorum once referred to universities as “indoctrination mills” lacking in “intellectual diversity”; Antonin Scalia lamented that the Supreme Court was composed entirely of “successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School”; Marco Rubio described “the political class” and “the mainstream media that covers them” as “out of touch with the American people.”
All the theories are true to some extent, and the polls do show a big "college white" skewing to Hillary and "church white" skewing to Trump. It's a reality in need of an explanation, and I'd say the 3 explanations cover it in a more or less polite and respectful way.

The rude and disrespectful people will easily generate additional theories: The people on the other side are dumber/crueler/selfish/racist — college/church will do that to you. 

"'Idiocracy,' the most prophetic comedy of our time, is returning to theaters."

"Now, in a tribute to the film's visionary powers, the Alamo Drafthouse... is re-releasing the film in a number of theaters on the eve of what has suddenly become a nail-biter of a presidential election."

Okay, but:

"Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie and You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It."

It was Hillary Clinton who — a year ago — challenged Jimmy Fallon to touch Donald Trump's hair.

I've been seeing criticism of Jimmy Fallon for being too nice to Donald Trump when he was on the show last week. A lot of people assume that all the interviewers — even the sweet comic entertainer Jimmy Fallon — should do whatever they can to obstruct Donald Trump's path to the presidency. But Fallon played his usual host role and treated Trump like a normal guest, involving him in a number of comic bits, culminating with a request to touch Trump's hair. Trump agreed, Fallon got his hands in there and messed it up, and Trump had to figure out how to behave with his absurd hair in a more absurd new position.

I blogged it here (with video): "He leaned in. It was a risk to let Jimmy have control of how much to mess it up, and then a risk to stand exposed with messed up hair and to look prissy by trying to fix it up afterwards."

Trump handled it so well, and it was so natural and funny, that Trump haters ganged up on nice little Jimmy.

Here's Gothamist, with the headline is: "Nice Moves Normalizing A Racist, Sociopathic Scumbag, Jimmy Fallon!" Text:
Jimmy, what the fuck is wrong with you?... Fallon is complicit in our destruction, as is NBC at large, a network that profits off of Trump's television shows and Miss Universe competition and has repaid him by giving him a hosting spot on Saturday Night Live, and allowing both Matt Lauer and, now, Fallon, to give him metaphorical handjobs on national television. NBC executives are gambling the lives of 7 billion people on ratings and fat paychecks. Hope it's worth it! Go to hell Jimmy Fallon....
And in The Guardian, there's a column — "No, Jimmy Fallon, Donald Trump isn't a laughing matter/Messing up the candidate’s hair might seem like friendly fun. But it humanizes a man whose hateful rhetoric has dehumanized millions of Americans" — that begins:
On Thursday, Jimmy Fallon had Donald Trump on the Tonight Show and ended the segment by saying, “Donald I want to ask you, because the next time I see you you could be the President of the United States. I just want to know if there is something we could do that’s just not really presidential, really – can I mess your hair up?” Trump let him and the NBC audience roared with laughter. But, for many of us, this is very far from being a joke.

Giving comic cover to Trump just isn’t funny when he’s unleashed forces of anti-blackness and anti-immigrant sentiment. He’s labelled Mexicans rapists, raised the prospect of a ban on Muslims, patronized and insulted African Americans while pretending to be a potential new hope. As a result, Fallon managed to come over as one powerful white man protecting another....
But look at this — Hillary Clinton on "The Tonight Show" on September 17, 2015 — about a year ago — laughing and laughing at Donald Trump and goading Jimmy Fallon to do exactly what he ultimately did to Trump's hair.

She says (slightly garbling what must have been a prepared line): "Have you ever been able to let him touch — let you touch his hair?" And then: "Have you ever really touched it?" When Jimmy says no, she says: "You wanna touch mine?" Jimmy grabs a hank and gives it a sturdy pull. The gesture says: This is not a wig. And he shouts: "It's real! It's real!" He waves his hands about joyously and — with the band playing celebratory music – adds: "And it's got wave and it's fantastic, you guys, and it smells great!" He's laughing heartily and she's laughing heartily.

So to those who think Fallon's mussing Trump's hair was too nice: It was Hillary Clinton who went out on "The Tonight Show" and set up Part 1 of a comic bit: My hair can be touched but his cannot. My hair is real and I bet his is not. Fallon followed through with the challenge a year later.

Watch the old video. You may be startled at how vibrant and energetic she was back then — back when there was so much time for the presumed irredeemable ridiculousness of Donald Trump to lead to his inevitable self-destruction. Of course, that's still the plan. He will destroy himself. Meanwhile, it's been Hillary Clinton collapsing from the inside.

Poetic justice.

September 22, 2016

"The U.S. should not turn control of the Internet over to the United Nations and the international community."

"President Obama intends to do so on his own authority – just 10 days from now, on October 1st, unless Congress acts quickly to stop him.  The Republicans in Congress are admirably leading a fight to save the Internet this week, and need all the help the American people can give them to be successful. Hillary Clinton’s Democrats are refusing to protect the American people by not protecting the Internet."

A statement of Donald Trump's opposition to Obama's "Plan to Surrender American Internet Control to Foreign Powers."

"And his mouth" — kiss kiss kiss — "small."

Dalai Lama does his Trump impersonation.

"What do you do if you want to piss off your teachers, piss off your parents, piss off your friends, be rejected from polite society..."

"... and in all other ways be thought of as an untouchable miscreant? Vote for Donald Trump!" says Milo Yiannopoulos (dressed as a woman).

Hillary Clinton — in a strange new angry voice — asks "Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?"

Who advised her and coached her about talking and looking like this? It's either ludicrous or scary... which makes me think that she's decided to try to sound like Trump. In that view, this is her statement of what Trump seems to be. This is what she thinks Trump's fans are responding to in Trump. It's so wrong on so many levels. And I guess that's a clue why she's not 50 points ahead.

ADDED: If you imagine this clip played to a large group in an auditorium somewhere, her tone and gestures make sense. But then why did the campaign allow this video to go public in this form rather than using video of the crowd with this video playing within that larger scene? Maybe the other video is worse because of the crowd response. I don't know. These are problems that arise when you do not appear in person at events but video yourself in.

Twitter suspends Instapundit.

It seems to be about "Run them down" — tweeted in response to protesters in Charlotte blocking the interstate.

Glenn explains his point (and not by saying it's a joke):
Sorry, blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. But if Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.
"Driving on" is different from "Run them down." "Run them down" stresses hitting the people who are blocking you. "Driving on" is about prioritizing your own escape from danger. And Glenn obviously knows this and is saying that now:
I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years.

But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And locking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.
ADDED: The discussion at Twitter is collected at #FreeInstapundit.

The 85-year-old boxing promotor Don King is going to speak the way he speaks — even in front of that other Don who speaks in his own way — -ald Trump.

Don King — standing in front of Donald Trump and wearing a jacket weirder than a Hillary-Clinton jacket — said:
America needs Donald Trump. We need Donald Trump, especially black people. Because you have got to understand, my black brothers and sisters, they told me, you've got to try to emulate and imitate the white man and then you will be successful. We tried that ... I told Michael Jackson, I said, if you are poor, you are a poor Negro. I would use the n-word. But, if you are rich you're a rich Negro. If you are intelligent, intellectual, you're intellectual Negro. If you are a dancing and sliding and gliding n------, I mean Negro, you're a dancing and sliding and gliding Negro. So dare not alienate because you cannot assimilate. You know, you're going to be a Negro till you die.
I know the mainstream news focused on King's saying of the epithet that's censored in the above transcription — the epithet and the fixed grin on Trump's face in the background, but the old man was making his point, and it's a significant idea that he must have wanted people to think about. Reading it, I think it's perfectly lucid, and I even think he deliberately said the n-word and then corrected it, and he did it to criticize white people, who, he seems to think, are racist even when they show respect to an accomplished black person, such as Michael Jackson.

I saw the clip on television, and it was edited to exclude the name of King's interlocutor, so I was left wondering why he was saying "sliding and gliding." It made King sound wacky and maybe senile. But with the name Michael Jackson in there, the language all fits together, including the challenging of the audience with that word, the word he wanted white people to know is the word he uses — "I would use the n-word" he says before he actually says it — as he imagines how white people are thinking.

My link goes to a Washington Post column — sorry to throw you at the pay wall again — by the "race, gender, immigration and inequality" reporter Janell Ross. Ross seems to credit King with saying something that makes sense, though after aptly paraphrasing it, she appends: "Or, at least, that's what King may have been saying, as best we can tell." Ross proceeds to describe the predictable "outrage and umbrage expressed about King's language and his use of the n-word in a church, of all places." But she's critical of that kind of superficial coverage of racial problems:
That's race coverage around the edges — racial-epithet scandal to possible ethnic- or religious-group uproar. And, it's this coverage that overtakes or actually stands in where a more thoughtful, substantive examination of the undeniable role that race continues to play in housing, lending, employment, health care, education and every other major feature of American life should probably be....

WaPo's Robin Givhan asserts that Hillary Clinton — and the idea of the "handsome woman" — was the inspiration for the designers at Fashion Week.

I've followed Givhan's writing over the years, but I'd missed this September 16th piece — "Hillary Clinton, style icon? The unexpected inspiration for women’s spring fashion" — because the pay wall at The Washington Post has put it out of my line of sight. (I'd subscribe to read it if links to it would give you nonsubscribers access, which is how the NYT works.)

But I'm noticing Givhan's article now because I see Emily Zanotti at Heatstreet making fun of it: "Let Hillary Clinton, ‘Style Icon,’ Inspire Your Spring/Summer 2017 Look.:

Of all the liberal press straining to boost our love and respect for Hillary, Givhan's Hillary-the-style-icon piece strikes me as the most ludicrous. To be fair, the headline exaggerates the importance of Hillary Clinton in Givhan's essay. It begins with one designer's claim that he was inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe, whom Givhan calls "the artist who was so often described as 'handsome,' a polite way of saying that she was not a great beauty."*

You have to scroll way down to get to the first mention of Hillary Clinton, and even there, she's mixed in a crowd:
But beyond cut and color, designers are obsessing about strong and powerful women who are independent and enduring — perhaps even a bit scandalous. There has been talk of O’Keeffe, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, influential mothers and grandmothers — and of course, Hillary Clinton.
Givhan jumps to assure us that Hillary belongs in this explanation of the new fashions:
The Democratic presidential nominee is, by no means, the typical fashion icon, not in the manner of an actress, a musician or even First Lady Michelle Obama. But it is hard to deny her influence, whether direct or indirect — on so many designers....
Why is it hard to deny?! Hillary's fashions have been horrifying. I should think designers would reflexively deny her influence and that it would be hard to admit it.  Givhan's argument for influence is that people in the fashion industry politically support Clinton. Since when is political support for a candidate any kind of statement of enthusiasm about their clothes? Yes, the idea of a first woman President excites some people but to translate that to interest in what she's wearing smacks more of sexism than feminism. Either the designers were inspired by Hillary Clinton's awful outfits or they were not.

Givhan offers not one statement from any designer suggesting actual inspiration by Hillary Clinton. She claims, vaguely and abstractly, that "Clinton’s proximity to the presidency has invited designers to reconsider the relationship that women have to power and how it manifests in attire and style." Here's an example of one of the styles Givhan is talking about:

I must say that I could picture that jacket — just the jacket — on Hillary. But could that possibly be the impression the designer — Marc Jacobs — wanted to convey? Well... maybe! Who has the money to buy these clothes? Not the kookie child the whole getup expresses, but some lady who would see that she could wear just the jacket. And maybe for that lady, thinking about Hillary Clinton would help her decide that it makes sense to spent the money on something so odd: It is what powerful, serious women wear. Maybe Marc Jacobs is very savvy about the workings of the minds of rich older women.

* Here's my post from September 6, 2016, "Nobody says 'handsome woman' anymore." I spoke too soon. Or Givhan reads my blog and took up the challenge.

September 21, 2016

"Did she get scared? Was she choking? What happened? People that do that — maybe they can't be doing what they're doing."

Said Trump, commenting on the shooting, in Tulsa, of a black man by a white female police officer.

And I can't help suspecting that he's trying to deliver a subliminal message about Hillary: Maybe the woman is not up to the extreme stress of the job.

"Ithaca College launched a weekly diversity discussion circle in response to last fall’s student demands, but not a single student has attended either of the first two sessions."

Campus Reform reports.

The Intercept catches up with Justice Kennedy and extract an utterly standard routine statement of refusal to comment on cases.

It's what the Justices always do, but The Intercept runs it with the headline: "Justice Kennedy, Author of Citizens United, Shrugs Off Question About His Deeply Flawed Premise."

The author, Lee Fang, makes himself the hero of the story:
I caught up with Kennedy during a reception at the Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center in the Robert Matsui Courthouse hosted by the Federal Bar Association Sacramento Chapter last Friday. Kennedy, after listening to my question about the false crux of his decision, waved his hand and shrugged off the issue, calling it something for others, “the bar and the lower bench to figure out”...
The full quote from Kennedy — after he listens to Fang's presentation — was "Well, I don’t comment. That’s for the bar and the lower bench to figure out." 

"Strangely, my disability makes me feel as if I have license to play with and deconstruct sexuality in ways I might not have the bravery to do as an able-bodied woman."

"One of the privileges of being an outsider is that you are not expected to play by the insiders’ rules. I watch men on the street. I will watch a man visually or verbally harass women who pass him. I am invisible enough to do this. Sometimes men look at me, but the reaction is different. There seems to be some level of shame or confusion mixed with the lust in their eyes. Does this mean that I am lucky? Am I blessed to be sexually invisible and given a reprieve from something that has troubled women for centuries? Is there a freedom in not having to be privy to the struggles of the typical woman? It certainly does not feel that way.... I... would much rather have a man make an inappropriate sexual comment.... I like it when men look at me. It feels empowering, not disempowering. Frankly, it makes me feel like I’m not being excluded."

Writes Jennifer Bartlett, who has cerebral palsy, and who has — in her own words — "also always been beautiful."

"Hillary Clinton spent $645,000 more a day than her opponent Donald Trump last month..."

She spent $50 million in August, and he's been gaining on her.
While both candidates are raising huge sums from donors, their lopsided spending lays bare the difference in the two major party presidential campaigns. Clinton is running a conventional operation featuring multimillion-dollar ad buys and expansive voter outreach. Trump has kept spending down by enjoying seemingly limitless free media coverage and outsourcing the guts of his voter contact duties to the Republican Party.
And he's proud of his chintziness:
"Our expenditures on advertising, our expenditures on people, our expenditures on everything are a tiny fraction. And yet we're minimum tied," Trump said Tuesday at a rally in Kenansville, North Carolina. "If you can spend less and be winning, that's a positive thing, right?"
ADDED: Trump's campaign spent $30 million in August, and Hillary's spent $49 million. She put 68% of that money on ad production and ad buys. His spending — the most he's spent in a month "by far" — was  — as WaPo puts it — "finally investing in some semblance of an infrastructure."
However, the billionaire continued to maintain a small campaign staff, spending just about $765,000 on payroll in August on 131 staffers, up from about $500,000 in July, when he had about 82 people on the payroll. Clinton, by comparison, had 789 people on staff last month.

Trump has bragged about his lean operation, saying Tuesday night at a rally in North Carolina, "If you can spend less and be winning that’s a positive thing, right? That’s the person you want as your president, I think.”

The Democratic Party tries to scare up donations with Nate Silver's electoral map.

In the email this morning (click to enlarge):

That actually is pretty terrifying to a Trumpophobe. Only a 14% chance one month ago and now he's up to 40.4?

ADDED: I get email from both parties (and never give to either). Here's what just arrived from Trump:
This is terrific — you have a chance to travel with me on the Trump campaign plane. But you only have a limited time to enter. Contribute $3 to be automatically entered to win a trip with me on the Trump campaign plane.

 You and another guest will get your own seats aboard the Trump campaign plane as we head to another rally.

While Hillary Clinton spends all her time with liberal elites at closed-door fundraisers, I am out and about with the hard-working and patriotic Americans who are the backbone of our country.... Unlike Hillary, I am proud of Americans like you. I want you to be back in charge of your government. I want you to feel good about your country and your place in it....
So Hillary wants me to feel bad about Trump and Trump wants me to feel good about America. 

"I give my ER patients a cognitive exam to assess for dementia. One of the questions is 'Who’s the President?'"

"Many people voluntarily add who they’re supporting for President in November. So far the pattern is that the depressed people are voting for Hillary and the alcoholics are voting for Trump."

The British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn answers the question what's his favorite "biscuit"?

He was doing an interview with Mumsnet — a website for British mothers — and the what's-your-favorite-cookie question is routine. Past answers include:
David Cameron was ("Oatcakes with butter and cheese"). Gordon Brown was ("Anything with a bit of chocolate"). As were Ed Miliband ("Jaffa Cake"), Nicola Sturgeon ("Tunnock's Caramel Wafer") and Nick Clegg ("Rich Tea if dunked. Hob Nobs if not").
You see the gentle, mum-friendly style other politicians have used. Corbyn said:.
"I'm totally anti-sugar on health grounds, so eat very few biscuits... But if forced to accept one, it's always a pleasure to have a shortbread."
The mums were displeased:
"That's the most miserable response to the biscuit question I've ever read," sighed one. "Forced to eat a biscuit you're politically opposed to."
ADDED: We have cookie politics in the U.S. too. Read: "The blatantly sexist cookie bake-off that has haunted Hillary Clinton for two decades is back":
Now it’s time (again) for the Family Circle Magazine Presidential Cookie Poll, a head-to-head cookie-baking challenge that has become a fixture of US presidential campaigns, even as some rail against it, characterizing it as a calcified indicator of lingering sexism in American politics.

The competition—in which the contender for Republican first lady pits her cookie recipe against one submitted to the magazine by the potential Democratic first lady, for readers to bake, taste, and vote upon—began as a response to an off-the-cuff remark Clinton made in 1992....

"I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life."
"Fulfill my profession" is such a funny way to put it. When someone speaks uses an expression that unnatural, you should ask what's the normal thing to say there, and that may show you why the unnatural expression happened. Here, "fulfill my profession" takes the place of "fulfill my ambition" or "fulfill myself."

AND: It's the spouse that offers the cookie recipe, so it should be Melania Trump versus Bill Clinton. But the Clinton campaign just submitted the same one that beat Barbara Bush's recipe in 1992 and they're not calling it Bill's recipe but "Clinton Family's Chocolate Chip Cookies." The Trump campaign submitted "Melania Trump's Star Cookies." Whether Melania bakes cookies, I don't know.

"There’s never been a time where he’s talked for longer than 30 seconds where he’s managed to say anything."

"He just says nothing. He’ll say the same empty phrases over and over again, and I think it will become obvious after an hour and a half."

Said Claire McCaskill, one of many Democrats quoted in a Politico article titled "Democrats' debate advice to Clinton: Let Trump screw up."

So that's the strategy they want Trump to believe will be Hillary's strategy. She should sit back and calmly wait for him to ruin himself. Isn't that the disastrous strategy President Obama used in his first debate with Mitt Romney? And it would be worse for Hillary Clinton, because of all the talk about her health and age and tiredness.

I'm going to assume she has a different plan, that she'll come out fighting vigorously and hope Trump has chosen the strategy of just being boringly "presidential."

But that's only something she can do if she's physically up for it. I'm having a little trouble picturing her standing up for 90 minutes — between 9 and 10:30 at night — looking alert and speaking with spirit and passion, deftly picking up on Trump's flaws, and driving home her superiority.

In fact, if you gave me the right odds, I'd bet money that she'll withdraw from Monday's debate. Yes, it would look weak to say that darned pneumonia is back and my doctors insist that I rest. (Her doctors could be like Trump's lawyers: He'd show us those tax returns but his lawyers forbid it.) That plays into Trump's recent game — "Hillary Clinton is taking the day off again, she needs the rest. Sleep well Hillary – see you at the debate!" — but what a calamity to go out on that stage with 100 million people watching and falter and crumble.

Hillary Clinton asserts — is it true? —  Trump "has actually said that wages are too high."

In a NYT op-ed titled "Hillary Clinton: My Plan for Helping America’s Poor."

Did Trump really say that? Surely, he only said the minimum wage is too high. But here's a Politico article from last November — "Trump: I never said wages are too high" — which quotes him saying:
"Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world."
That was in the context of a debate about protesters demanding a $15 minimum wage. Asked if he was sympathetic, he said:
“I can’t be…and the reason I can’t be is because we are a country that is being beaten on every front... Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”
2 days after that, he simply denied saying wages were too high:
“I didn’t say that. Bret, we were talking about the minimum wage, and they said ‘should we increase the minimum wage?’ And I’m saying that if we’re going to compete with other countries we can’t do that because the wages would be too high.... I was referring to the minimum wage..."
It's odd — it's Trumpian — to say straightforwardly what is an outright lie if it's taken straightforwardly: "I didn't say that." Clearly, he did. I understand that he meant that in context the words obviously never meant what they look like outside of their context. I guess we could bat around the linguistic issue of what it means to "say" something. But he gave his opponents the words to use against him, and Hillary did it again today.

By the way, does Hillary Clinton support the $15 minimum wage? "... Hillary wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour—and... supports city and state efforts to raise their own minimum wage even higher."

"Daniel Arsham favored grey for most of his career. But last week, he unveiled his first exhibition in full color."

"The inspiration behind this pivot of palette? A pair of EnChroma glasses, which revealed thousands of new tones to the colorblind artist."

In Finland, the mailman will mow your lawn.

You have to provide the lawnmower and pay a fee, but the mailman (or woman) is required to mow your lawn if that's what you want.
The postal workers themselves came up with the idea, according to Anu Punola, the director of Posti, Finland’s postal service. “We believe many customers will be happy to outsource lawn mowing when we make it convenient for them to do so”.... The mail carriers will do the job each Tuesday — a light day for mail in Finland, Posti says, with fewer ads and periodicals to deliver ....
I learned that while taking a pretty interesting test "10 Questions on Global Quirks" (in the NYT). The question was "For a fee, postal workers in Finland, in addition to delivering the mail, will...." I guessed "Let you read your neighbor’s magazines."

I only got 4 out of 10 right.

I was a little surprised to see this piece in the NYT. The perspective seems old fashioned and politically incorrect: The peoples of the the world are weird in ways that we can chuckle over.

September 20, 2016

"The writer David Foster Wallace was once assigned to compose an essay on the resplendent, mindless pleasures of a luxury cruise ship."

"He reported instead feeling profound despair and emptiness in the face of so much unfathomable pampering."

Writes WaPo staff writer Monica Hesse about the newly opened Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and I'd just like to say:

1. You're not David Foster Wallace, and you couldn't write like David Foster Wallace if you tried — if you (I want to say) killed yourself — and referring to something he was able to do is not even trying.

2. David Foster Wallace was horribly depressed, so the fact that he felt "profound despair and emptiness" somewhere doesn't say all that much about a place.

3. David Foster Wallace had endless fascinating things to say about that cruise ship — here, see for yourself — and it's just infuriating to read it summarized in a few words in a hack piece of journalism that seems designed to take a shot at a political candidate the reader is expected to hate reflexively.

4. Nothing was "unfathomable" to David Foster Wallace. He fathomed the hell out of everything.

5. Very expensive hotels are fancy and posh. That's utterly banal. If you look into the depths of your own banality and have something fresh to say about that, you might begin to deserve to invoke the name of David Foster Wallace — who, by the way, didn't put down other people for being tourists with a bit of extra money to spend on something that excited or comforted them with the promise of luxury.

Google AdSense warns me about displaying "adult or mature content" because of a page where all I did was quote LBJ.

A screen-shot of the email I received appears below after the jump. (Click to enlarge.)

Here's the offending page Google cites in its email — LBJ quoted ordering a pair of pants.

"Two years before Ahmad Khan Rahami went on a bombing rampage in New York and New Jersey, his father told the police that the son was a terrorist..."

"... prompting a review by federal agents, according to two senior law enforcement officials."
Separately on Tuesday, another official said that when Mr. Rahami was captured during a shootout with the police, he was carrying a notebook that contained writings sympathetic to jihadist causes.

In one section of the book, which was pierced by a bullethole and covered in blood, Mr. Rahami wrote of “killing the kuffar,” or unbeliever, according to the official, who agreed to speak about the investigation only on the condition of anonymity....

"Cisgender people just got lucky. The doctor guessed your gender correctly when you were a baby."

"A doctor takes one look at us and makes a guess about what our gender identity will be: 'Well, I see a penis, so I think that this baby will grow up to be a man. Did I get it right?' If you’re cisgender it means that the doctor guessed your gender identity correctly at birth, and that you actually like the letter that the doctor put on your birth certificate when you were born."

ADDED: Interesting — unintentionally revealing? — use of the word "like." Not liking something doesn't make it untrue. If it's just a question of not liking it, Jacob Tobia doesn't have a compelling argument.

Trump talks about the profiling that Israel does and CNN puts "racial" before "profiling"...

... which is not what Trump said and not what Israel does.

Via my son John at Facebook, where there's a conversation going.

Obama attacked Trump in his U.N. address.

"Without mentioning Trump by name, Obama lashed out at a 'crude populism' while defending his vision of a United States that engages, rather than withdraws, from the world stage. 'Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself'...."

I would have expected more exalted dignity and grandeur. If a big part of the problem with Trump is a perceived crudeness in his style, how do you fight that by stepping down to a cruder level yourself?

By the way, I think I'm noticing Hillary trying to talk more like Trump — or what she imagines Trump to be doing that has been working on the people it works on. I don't think that's something you should attempt on the fly.

"Oh, no! Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are getting divorced! They have 6 children together!"

I exclaim, reading this.

MEADE: "It was only a matter of time."

ME: "But they were parading like they were these..."

MEADE (interrupting): "Don't parade."

ADDED: Absurd sentence from the linked article: "Ange, 41, has been focusing on her humanitarian work while Brad, 52, focuses on launching a resort in Croatia."

AND: "There have been a constant string of arguments about their future and their children. They ended up completely disagreeing over how to raise the kids." What were the different ways that were so much more of a conflict than the way that is without 2 married parents?

The Disney Halloween costume that got the "Brown skin is not a costume" criticism.

It's the "Maui Costume featuring the demigod's signature tattoos, rope necklace and island-style skirt. Plus, padded arms and legs for mighty stature!"

Here's a WaPo article about the criticism: "Brown skin is not a costume': Disney takes heat for ‘Moana’ Halloween costume." ("Moana" is the name of the new movie. "Maui" is a character in the movie.)
“As a Poly I support our folk involved in #MOANA. But this? NO. Our Brown Skin/Ink’s NOT a costume,” one user tweeted. “Many people are Rightfully upset about this new piece of #Moana merch. Cultures are NOT costumes,” tweeted another. “Hey heads up, I’ve seen that Moana costume, and I seriously don’t want to see it again. It sickens me, please don’t ask me to talk about it,” tweeted a third. “This might be the creepiest thing Disney has ever done. ‘Wear another culture’s skin!’ ” yet another person tweeted.

One user compared the costume to the suit made from literal human skin in “Silence of the Lambs.”
Yes, it would be wrong actually to wear someone else's skin. But there's also a standard metaphor about understanding another person's perspective: How would it feel to be in his skin? Do we think of murder or do with think of empathy?

And yet, given the American cultural taboo on darkening your skin to pretend to be someone of another race, how can it be okay to use a layer of latex to achieve the same effect? Some answers to that question include: 1. You're racist to assume that the child who wears the costume will be white, 2. The character Maui isn't even a person, but a "demigod," and 3. The latex really provides real distancing from the experience of skin.

On point #3, look at all the "naked" costumes that are on the market and that people who wouldn't go out naked apparently feel okay about wearing. This one jumped out at me, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it's for sale at Walmart:

Rick Perry hams it up delightfully quick-stepping to "Green Acres" on "Dancing with the Stars."

Life is like a bag of Skittles — you never know which metaphors they'll kill you over.

Oh, yes, you do. If you're on the Trump side, they'll murder you.

ADDED: This is probably the best of the articles on the subject, at, even though it contains material that doesn't make any sense to me:
In a tongue-in-cheek article, Washington Post journalist Philip Bump did some calculations around Donald Jr's statement, using data showing that the annual chance that an American would be murdered by a foreign-born terrorist was 1 in 3,609,709.

Based on his sums, it would take about one and a half Olympic swimming pools of Skittles in order to find three killers.
A Skittle is about the volume of a quarter teaspoon. There are 3,043,261,440 quarter teaspoons in 1.5 Olympic swimming pools. So Bump seems off by a factor of 10. But even that is assuming that the terrorists are already mixed into the general populace. In Donald J. Trump Jr.'s bowl of Skittles, the bowl represents a set of would-be immigrants, 3 of whom could be terrorists. Junior's point is you'd reject the whole bowl if you knew there were 3 poison Skittles in it, no matter how much you love Skittles.

If the 3 Skittles were already in the the swimming pool full of Skittles, would you reject the swimming pool? That's a nonsensical question — not because the proportion is different — but because the swimming pool represents everyone in America. You can't reject the entire populace. It might make some sense — though it's not what Junior is talking about — to say you'd refuse to eat any of the purple Skittles in the swimming pool if you knew the 3 poison Skittles were purple, but you wouldn't sort through the whole swimming pool to find the all the purple Skittles and remove them. You'd just limit your eating to the non-purple Skittles.

But the fact is, we're not doing anything toward the people already in the populace that corresponds to eating the Skittles. They are just here, getting along, living their lives, until they do something that warrants attention from the authorities.

Junior's analogy has to do with rejecting adding new people to the existing populace. His point of view is: What good or ill potential is there for those of us who are already here? He's saying: We're not letting new people in for their good, but for ours. And that fits generally with the Trump position: Getting the best deal for America. What's in it for us?

Understanding the bowl-of-Skittles metaphor in that light shows the trouble: We the Americans are the people and those on the outside are just objects — lightweight throwaways to consume or toss like a piece of candy. Even if you do support Trump's idea of excluding certain sets of people, you don't have to disrespect their humanity and that's what Skittles sounds like. I know there are many people-are-food metaphors that are nice...

... but the context here is not nice, and it would be better to exhibit simple humanity.

"Putin ally celebrates winning 98 percent of vote in a full suit of medieval armor."

ADDED: This post is over-puzzling. Does Althouse follow Morgan Fairchild on Twitter? No. Jake Tapper retweeted it. I follow Jake Tapper.

After the big rain: Gentle fog in the morning light.

Just now:



"'The world,' we read in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, 'came about through a mistake.'"

"The demiurge who made it 'wanted to create it imperishable and immortal,' but eventually he 'fell short of attaining his desire, for the world never was imperishable, nor, for that matter, was he who made the world.' The Gnostics believed nonexistence to be a mark of perfection, and coming into being a form of degradation."

From "Why Do Anything? A Meditation on Procrastination."

Yes, I know... why click on anything?

The essay is at the NYT, where the 3rd-highest-rated comment is:
So Costica Bradatan penned about 20 abstruse paragraphs to basically say the following: Don't let perfection be the enemy of good. Also, it's OK to chill sometimes.
I thought it was worth reading though — for the bit from the Gnostic Bible that I quoted and also for the story of the unbuilt mosque in the first 3 paragraphs and for paragraphs 12-14 which are about idleness before the subject becomes procrastination. The author seems to view procrastination as an interesting — more accessible? — subcategory of idleness, but I was annoyed for the shift to the more quotidian and less sublime.

I'm adding an "idleness" tag to the blog to increase the accessibility of the subject, which is one of my very favorites and the subject of 2 books I especially love.

September 19, 2016

"'Mama' Cass Elliot of the Mamas and Papas was born Ellen Naomi Cohen on September 19, 1941."

"She would have turned 75 today. She died in 1974 at age 32."

Says my son John Althouse Cohen in a blogpost — with lots of videos.

He includes something I wrote earlier today, on Facebook, after watching a video of The Mamas & The Papas doing "Monday Monday" on a TV show in 1966:
I remember how it felt to see them on TV like that -- looking so different from other groups of the time. The men were like the other men, but the women were different, because of Cass and because of her contrast with Michelle [Phillips], who would have stood out as phenomenally pretty anyway, but standing there next to Cass, she made a fantastic contrast, and there were many people who were suddenly discovering that the fat one was even more attractive. It was kind of like with The Beatles, the way many girls thought Ringo was the most attractive, when, by conventional standards, he was the only ugly one. Back in the 60s... when everything was a revolution.
John responded to that with:
Now it's hard to imagine anything being a revolution!

What a rain!

The sky darkened and the storm hit just as class ended today. Meade picked me up at the law school and we headed very slowly home in the TT. At the top of Lathrop Drive we saw a confused racoon rousted out of his sewer. Here we are stopped at the corner of North Charter and University Avenue, with the rainwater flowing up over the curb in a wave onto the sidewalk:


Look at that drain. You can see what flummoxed the racoon. Hail began hitting the windshield, and we headed for higher ground, into University Heights, where we saw a young woman running on the sidewalk with her feet plunging through ankle-deep water. What a crazy storm! It would have been better to shelter in place. As we arrived home — 1.3 miles from the school — the sun burst out and everything was fresh and pretty.

Inside, I reassured the dog and got big towels to soak up the rain that was all over the floor, and, outside, Meade took out the rake and cleaned up the leaves that had fallen. The leaves are still green here, and they mostly held tight, preserving our good hopes for bright fall-color season. But what a rain! The biggest rainstorm I've ever seen in Madison.

UPDATE: How much rain was it really? Only 0.91 inches. But it fell within about half an hour.

Speaking of not saying the name — I'm seeing these Hillary signs that won't say "Hillary" around my part of Wisconsin.


On normal "Hillary" yard signs, the arrow points to "Hillary" or "Clinton/Kaine," but there are these signs that are intended to be read as Hillary signs. The familiar arrow is there, but it points at "Wisconsin." What is the aversion to saying the name? Is it something like what we were discussing one post down — the taboo on saying the name of the beast that might hunt you down if it heard you say its name?

Bear in mind: the "mead paw."

I've got "bear" in mind today, because I'm teaching District of Columbia v. Heller — the main case about the right to bear arms. I was looking up the word "bear" on the theory that it connected to the word "embarrass," which comes up in older constitutional law cases about the power of Congress, including McCulloch v. Maryland, also in today's assignment. When the people gave Congress its various powers, Chief Justice Marshall says in McCulloch, they couldn't have meant "to clog and embarrass its execution by withholding the most appropriate means."

But the "-bar-" in "embarrass" isn't like the "bear" in "bear arms." It comes from "baraço" which was the kind of cord or leash you'd use to restrain an animal — perhaps a bear. But the "bear" in "bear arms" is an extremely old root that has always referred to carrying a burden. "Bear," the animal, takes us somewhere else entirely, to the word "brown." Northern Europeans took to calling a bear "the brown one," disconnecting from the Latin "ursus" because — the theory goes — hunters had a taboo on saying the names of wild animals.

Wanting to know more about this taboo, I found a blog post that caught my eye because it inadvertently said the name of my husband: "'Mead Paw' the Original 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named'":
... Bronze-Age hunters came to believe that using the bear’s true name allowed the animal to hear and comprehend the hunter. This would allow the bear to either elude the hunter or come seeking him, who would then become the hunted. The bear was the only really dangerous animal in the great Germanic forest, so to reduce this danger, men changed the rules....

In the Slavic lands, a similar taboo deformation resulted in the Russian name медведь (from *medu-ed) meaning ‘honey-eater’. This compares with our familiar Beowulf which literally means ‘Bee-wolf’ – an obvious poetic euphemism for Bear, in light of the bears notorious liking for honey. Beowulf is ‘bear-like’ in his great strength....

Of all the animals, the most sacred was the bear, whose real name was never uttered out loud. The bear (“karhu” in Finnish) was seen as the embodiment of the forefathers, and for this reason it was called by many euphemisms: “mesikämmen” (“mead-paw”), “otso” (“wide brow”), “kontio” (“dweller of the land”), “lakkapoika” (“cloudberry boy”).
That post proceeds the issues of not saying the name of God and the Harry Potter taboo on naming Lord Voldemort, but my mind wandered to the subject of Donald Trump. It was just 2 posts down that I was writing about an Andrew Sullivan essay, which I had searched for the word "Trump" and, finding nothing, praised for not mentioning Trump, and which I had to come back to and update when I realized that Sullivan was treating Trump as one who must not be named. It was right there in the one paragraph I'd excerpted: "a walking human Snapchat app of incoherence."

Suddenly, I realized that I'd started out doing the same thing. I would not accept the existence of Donald Trump as a candidate for President. Look at this post from June 16, 2015:
Look at that tag: Nothing! June 16th. I wouldn't say the name. That was this day:

What does it mean to be "Arrested Amid Gunfire" — as the front-page of the NYT has it? Who shot whom, when and why?

This isn't another Black-Live-Matter incident, but the arrest of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who — we're told — is the suspect in the Chelsea bombing. Here's the underlying article "Ahmad Khan Rahami Is Arrested in Manhattan and New Jersey Bombings" — which says "he was wounded by gunfire in an encounter with the police."
Witnesses said they saw police shoot at a man who was running away. One person who was too rattled to give his name said the victim appeared to have been shot more than once and was “still twitching.” He also said it appeared a police officer was shot.

“Lotta’ lotta’ gunfire,” said Derek Pelligra, manager of Linden Auto Body.
That's a strange way to hear the facts. Did Rahami behave aggressively toward the police or was he only running away?

Another question is whether Rahami is connected to ISIS or some other radical Islamist terrorist group. Even assuming he is responsible for the bombs, we don't know why he did it. His name doesn't answer the question, and in fact, his backstory suggests a plausible theory of a more personal sort of violent acting out.

The Rahami family runs a restaurant that has a name that seems to poignantly strive for acceptance in America: First American Fried Chicken. But residents in the neighborhood had complained about it, purportedly because it was open all hours and drew rowdy, noisy patrons who weren't above hanging around and peeing in the nearby yards and driveways. The Linden City Council passed an ordinance that would force First American Fried Chicken to close at 10, and the Rahamis resisted the law, leading to friction with the police. The Rahamis brought a lawsuit against the Council, the mayor and various police officers, charging race and ethnic discrimination.
A frequent patron of the restaurant, Ryan McCann, 33, said Ahmad Rahami was friendly and did not seem outwardly angry. Rather, Mr. McCann said, he was obsessed with fast cars, specifically Honda civics custom built to race. Mr. Rahami wore Western clothing, hung out on the sidewalk with friends and often slipped his regular customers free food, he said.

“He’s a very friendly guy; he gave me free chicken,” Mr. McCann said. “He was always the most friendly man you ever met.”...
But another neighbor, Jessica Casanova, 23, said "They seemed secretive, a little mysterious.... They’re too serious all the time." Maybe it's a sad little story about a restaurant owner who got to feeling paranoid about the people who were interfering with his business. I know, it doesn't explain schlepping the bombs to Chelsea, but as Hillary Clinton chided us when first we heard of the bombing explosion: "It’s always wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions."

"I Used to Be a Human Being."

Great essay title... by Andrew Sullivan. Subtitle: "An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too." I'm so pleased to see that there is no mention of Trump in this thing, which I haven't fully read. I was just wondering why we haven't seen much of Andrew Sullivan lately, as I would have expected him to be opining mightily on the horrors of Donald Trump (and Hillary Clinton). But was he off being "broken"? Is he reorienting himself to the real world and therefore not to us, who await opinions on the internet?

Sample text:
The ubiquitous temptations of virtual living create a mental climate that is still maddeningly hard to manage. In the days, then weeks, then months after my retreat, my daily meditation sessions began to falter a little. There was an election campaign of such brooding menace it demanded attention, headlined by a walking human Snapchat app of incoherence. For a while, I had limited my news exposure to the New York Times’ daily briefings; then, slowly, I found myself scanning the click-bait headlines from countless sources that crowded the screen; after a while, I was back in my old rut, absorbing every nugget of campaign news, even as I understood each to be as ephemeral as the last, and even though I no longer needed to absorb them all for work.

Then there were the other snares: the allure of online porn....
ADDED: By "no mention of Trump," I only meant that the name does not appear. But that sample text alone shows Sullivan's don't-say-the-name approach: "a walking human Snapchat app of incoherence."

"[O]f the $149,912,723 millon in booked TV and radio spending through election day for these three presidential candidates, $145,299,727 is being spent by the Clinton campaign combined with pro-Clinton PACs."

Reports Ad Age.

How can there be such a disparity?! Even if he minimizes the value of advertising and puts most of his faith in free media — funny that the Trump-hating media won't just cut him off — shouldn't he do a little more advertising than that?

There's the theory that he's saving it all up for October. The ads aren't booked yet, but they are coming. And the Hillary campaign doesn't know where they are coming, what the electoral-college strategy will be when it comes down to the end and what particular issues will be targeted to those states. All that will matter in the end is who can tip those last few states.

I like to look at the "winding path to 270 electoral votes" graphic at FiveThirtyEight — partly because I'm fascinated by the resemblance to intestines...

... but mostly because it shows so vividly how focused the fight really is. Will Trump suddenly dump money in one of the slightly less obvious states like Wisconsin or Virginia, going big on some targeted issue that will catch Clinton flat-footed? That can be done, and it will be a demonstration of Trump's self-vaunted flexibility.

The big disparity Ad Age points to is in booked ads. That money is already committed and Trump's campaign can see where it is. The withholding of money on the Trump side is so extreme. It should be quite alarming to the Clinton side.

"No Tie to Global Terrorism Is Seen" headlines the NYT.

That appeared at the NYT yesterday, at the top of the front page, and you can see the time stamp: 3:20 PM.

That caught my eye because of the way the NYT, in an earlier report, blogged here, made Donald Trump seem bad for for saying "I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on." The Times followed that by saying that Hillary Clinton "seemed to scold Mr. Trump for his quick assessment. 'I think it’s always wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions,' Mrs. Clinton said." The Times omitted what Hillary said right before that: "I've been briefed about the bombings in New York and New Jersey." All we had were 2 candidates having heard about what happened and calling it a bomb. But the NYT presented it to look as though Trump was impulsive and Hillary was sober and thoughtful.

How little should it take before we jump to impugn others for "making conclusions"? If we're going to be super-sensitive, no one will escape reproach. How was it possible for the NYT to say "No Tie to Global Terrorism Is Seen" less than a day after a bomb explodes with an investigation getting underway?

Meanwhile, this morning, we're getting a new report — "Police Raid New Jersey Home in Search of Manhattan Bomber":
Hours after five pipe bombs were discovered near a train station in Elizabeth, N.J., federal agents and the police raided a home nearby early Monday morning as part of the sweeping search for the person or people responsible for Saturday night’s bombing in Manhattan.

The police released a photograph of a 28-year-old man, described as a naturalized citizen of Afghan descent, , [sic] Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is wanted in connection with the attack.
It's just a name. Just a place of origin. Remember: It’s always wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions.

ADDED: It's dangerous to elevate Hillary Clinton for issuing the sober bromide "it’s always wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions," because it makes me want to think of the times when she made a conclusion before she had information. For example: "We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."

Coca-Cola and LSD.

"[T]he 'pop and pour' sound created by the composer Suzanne Ciani and used in countless Coca-Cola advertisements...."

That sound was made on an instrument designed by Don Buchla, who lived to the age of 79 and died last week.
His inventions were prized for the flexibility and richness of the sounds they produced and the possibilities they suggested. ... In the 1960s, Mr. Buchla’s instruments represented what became known as the West Coast philosophy of electronic music: more experimental and less commercial, breaking away from tradition and virtuosity....

On the East Coast, [Robert] Moog built synthesizers that could be played from a keyboard, a configuration that working musicians found familiar and practical. Mr. Buchla, in San Francisco, wanted instruments that were not necessarily tied to Western scales or existing keyboard techniques. To encourage unconventional thinking, his early instruments deliberately omitted a keyboard....

The Buchla Box also supplied sound for the writer Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, the freewheeling multimedia happenings at which attendees, including Mr. Buchla, used LSD. Mr. Buchla was at the electronic controls for sound and visuals at the Trips Festival in San Francisco in 1966, a pinnacle of the psychedelic era. In his book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” (1968), Tom Wolfe wrote about the “Buchla electronic music machine screaming like a logical lunatic.”...

September 18, 2016

If you love your country, doesn't it mean that you love the people in your country?

If you believe in democracy, shouldn't you maintain a solid respect for the choice made by the people in your country?

"Hillary Clinton has vastly outspent Donald J. Trump on TV ads in Florida. Her 57 campaign offices dwarf Mr. Trump’s afterthought of a ground game."

"And Mr. Trump is deeply unpopular among Hispanics, who account for nearly one in five Florida voters. Despite these advantages, Mrs. Clinton is struggling in the Sunshine State, unable to assemble the coalition that gave Barack Obama two victories here, and offering Mr. Trump a broad opening in a road to the White House that not long ago seemed closed to him.... 'Against the candidate perceived to be the most hostile to Hispanic voters in modern presidential politics, why is she not exceeding where Barack Obama was?' Mr. Amandi, the Miami pollster, asked... 'I think it’s too early to hit the panic button, but if these numbers by mid-October aren’t at or slightly above where Obama was, there’s reason to be concerned,' he said...."

From "Hillary Clinton Struggles to Gain Traction in Florida, Despite Spending" (in the NYT).

What if spending and "ground game" are not what works anymore?

"I will consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election."

Said Obama... guilt-trippingly.

The elite freakout.

On "Meet the Press" today:
CHUCK TODD: ... New York Times, I think it was Saturday, Maureen had a lead that said, basically interviewing all these Upper West Siders panicking now. And in fact I think referred to it as 'The polls are showing a "margin of panic" for Clinton supporters.' Describe this east coast freakout that I feel like you've seen among the elites this week.

MAUREEN DOWD: Right. Well, my friends, one of my friends, Leon Wieseltier, calls it a national emergency. And my friends won't even read — if I do interviews with Donald Trump — they won't read them. And basically they would like to censor any stories about Trump and also censor any negative stories about Hillary. They think she should have a total free pass. Because as she said at that fundraiser recently, 'I'm the only thing standing between you and the abyss.' Oh, and they're taking — Democratic strategists are taking antacids. In the Times today.

CHUCK TODD: Well there you go.
I think the NYT article under discussion is this, from Friday: "Hillary Clinton’s Backers Thought She Couldn’t Lose. Now, ‘I Can’t Go There.’" It begins:
Beside the olive display at Zabar’s, that iconic hub of lox and neurosis on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Linda Donohue was trying to talk herself down.  Surely the polls she tracked anxiously were not to be trusted, she said. Surely Donald J. Trump, the man with the garish golden tower across town, would not be allowed to reach the White House....
If you keep going far enough, you'll get to a quote from Larry David: "The possibility of [Trump becoming President] is too horrifying to broach... It’s like contemplating your own death.” But doesn't he contemplate his own death? He says (it's the quote in the headline): "I can't go there."

Today, there's another NYT article about how New Yorkers are feeling. It's not about Trump. It's: "After Blast, New Yorkers Are Feeling Around for Psychological Shrapnel."