October 1, 2016

Lake Wingra — at noon today.


A gentle light, a warm enough day, but it looks bleak in the photograph.

Please talk about anything you like in the comments.

"The Democratic Party could have blocked the rise of Donald Trump years ago if it had just listened."

The story of Trump’s amazingly successful movement is also the story of how Democrats turned their backs on their working-class roots and sided with the elites on the crucial economic question of our times: Who would win from globalization, and who would lose? The facts are stark...."

So begins Rex Nutting's MarketWatch column, "How Donald Trump hijacked the Democrats’ best issue/Trump’s populist campaign is fueled by working-class anger about unfair trade, an issue the Democrats need to reclaim."

Am I the only one who likes Hillary a lot more after hearing this new leaked audio?

The leak seems to have come from Republicans, but most of what you hear is placing her in the center and resisting getting pulled too far left by Bernie Sanders. (The recording is from February 2016.) To my ear, she sounds much better — much more grounded and forthright — than she does when addressing the public.

Here's the audio — from a fundraiser in February 2016. Transcription:

"The [Trump] family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development."

"They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring."

Please watch the video at the link before commenting.

"But the young Mr. Wainwright’s clandestine journey from Bermuda to New York in November 1934 very likely garnered more ink..."

"... than any of his considerable later achievements, making headlines worldwide for months afterward. 'The Silk-Stockinged Stowaway,' the papers called him. 'He Was Game to Be a Huck Finn — but Not a Little Lord Fauntleroy,' declared one headline, atop an article that appeared in many American newspapers in 1935, adding: 'Balmy and British, Bermuda palled on this 8-year-old great-grandson of Jay Gould — until, penniless, he stowed away for New York and won the right to be raised as a Yankee.'"

From the obituary of Carroll L. Wainwright Jr., who grew up to be a NYC lawyer and lived to the age of 90.

First, garnered. The word. I must register my disapproval of this deplorable word.

Second, what a story! What were boys like in 1935?

"Gee, I had a swell time. I was on the bridge lots of times; I examined the instruments and I steered the ship. The captain is a grand guy."

After 70 years doing one radio show — "Folksong Festival" — Oscar Brand has died at the age of 96.

He started that show in 1945:
His radio career began in December 1945, after he wrote a letter to New York stations offering to present a program of Christmas songs he claimed most people had never heard. WNYC, which at the time was owned by the city, accepted the challenge. His song about Santa’s distinctive body odor proved his point.

At the show’s end, WNYC’s program director asked Mr. Brand what he was doing the next week. He boldly replied that he’d be right back in the same studio in the Municipal Building.
The show is — by a lot — the longest running radio show with a single host.

I saw Oscar Brand in concert once. It was at The Bottom Line in NYC, circa 1980. We were not interested in seeing him. We were there to see the headline act, someone we really cared about, perhaps Patti Smith. Someone in the punk/new wave genre that we loved at the time. We got there early and got the table right in front of the stage. Picture a table forming a T with a small, low stage. That's where we were — at the performer's feet.

I knew Oscar Brand was someone I was supposed to respect and honor, but the music was completely sincere old-school folk music — with gentle, comic stories in between. It was like "A Mighty Wind," but it wasn't a movie, and we were right in front of the man, where he could plainly see us.

He was telling his little stories, so that gave a place to laugh, but the stories were not funny enough to support the way that we desperately needed to laugh. We did not want to disrupt the performance or affect it or hurt his feelings in any way, but that only made it more insanely, hysterically funny. How do you let yourself laugh, but restrain yourself from laughing as uproariously as you need to laugh?

You might say it would be better not to start laughing at all. Laughing feeds on itself. But he could see us, and he was telling funny stories. We couldn't stare stony-faced. So we laughed, and we could see that he was enjoying receiving our laughter, which made it surreal and — unfortunately — even more provocative of the wrong kind of laughter.

You could see in his face that he believed in what he was doing and believed he was loved. These kids, these Baby Boomers, in the front row couldn't be receiving what he was giving in a different spirit from how he offered it, could they? We wanted him to think that, and we wanted to think that he did.

But perhaps we only saw his game face, and he totally knew where our heads were and how distant we were on that day, and he did what he had to do, what he always had to do — in good times or bad — continue the tradition of American folk music.

"She told me, 'Don’t worry, everything is fine'... She said where they lived, on the other side of the river, was very safe."

She = Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, the one person killed in the Hoboken commuter train disaster.

She was commenting after the recent bombing in Chelsea.

ADDED: We're hearing so little about the cause of the crash. Here's an article in yesterday's NYT about how federal investigators have not even looked at "most of" the train or interviewed the train's engineer.
Jim Southworth, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said... "Because of the asbestos, because of the unsettled structures that we’re not sure about, I’m not allowing anybody to go in there... None of the evidence in there is perishable, so I have the time to go in there."
None of the evidence in there is perishable, but what about the evidence that's not in there? Have officials excluded terrorism?

"Few match the opulence of the airstrip setup, whose owner claims to run the largest store of gold for private clients..."

"Near the runway sits the VIP lounge and a pair of luxurious apartments for clients. The walls of the apartments are lined with aged wood from Polish barns. South African quartzite was chosen for the floors to match the faded gray timber, and the amenities—bathroom mirror, TV screens—can retract into the ceiling, counter, or wall. The owner offers a place for clients to sleep and eat, because 'many do not want to leave a paper trail of credit card receipts and passports' at hotels and restaurants."

From a Bloomberg article titled "Secret Alpine Gold Vaults Are the New Swiss Bank Accounts." These vaults are built in "a maze of tunnels" — old military bunkers in Switzerland. With "luxurious apartments" on top. What inspires people with gold to trust these places? Aged wood from Polish barns?? You've got to trust something when you have gold that needs to be stashed.

"We don’t see any tangible evidence of criminality of a systemic nature, but this could be a topic for the future," said the Swiss secretary of state for international finance.

September 30, 2016

Machado About Nothing.

Pun noticed.

ADDED: "He can say whatever he wants to say, I don’t care. You know, I have my past. Of course, everybody has a past. I’m not a saint girl. But that is not the point now."

NYT election buzzword: "subtle."

From an op-ed, "Hillary Clinton Will Not Be Manterrupted," by Jessica Bennett:
Women are less likely to speak up, and less likely to be heard, in groups that are mostly men... women are less likely to have their own ideas attributed to them....

This is subtle sexism.... Subtle sexism is everywhere in this election, and not just from Mr. Trump. It’s in the way we question whether Mrs. Clinton is trustworthy, even though she’s been rated by PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checkers, as much more honest than her opponent....
You just have to be more honest than Trump and it's not fair to view you as dishonest? That's just nutty. We should always question whether a politician is trustworthy. At what point is "the way" we question honesty sexist? 
Subtle sexism is the fact that — while, indeed, Hillary Clinton has made mistakes — we judge mistakes more harshly in women, and remember those mistakes longer. It’s that she must strike a near-impossible balance between niceness and authority — a glimmer of weakness, and she doesn’t have the “stamina”; but too much harshness and she’s “cold,” “aloof,” “robotic,” scolded by a man who is all but frothing at the mouth for not having the right “temperament.”...
From a news analysis piece, "The Subtle Phrases Hillary Clinton Uses to Sway Black Voters," by Farah Stockman:
When Hillary Clinton talked about race during her debate Monday night against Donald J. Trump, she delivered a subtle and powerful message to black voters, speaking to them not only in the substance of what she said, but in her carefully chosen language....
The "subtle phrases" are, we're told, "systemic racism" — she said "We’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system" — and "implicit bias" — she said "I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police." What makes these stock phrases subtle? I think they're only subtle if they are subliminal — if they bypass your defenses. But these phrases are dropped in conspicuously, precisely to bonk people who like those terms over the head with the fact that she said them. Why wouldn't you be suspicious? Why wouldn't you think: Great, you said the words. I get it. You need my vote. But what will you actually do for me?

Some analysis by Amy Chozick, "Hillary Clinton, at Ease Onstage, Seems Utterly Herself":
When Mr. Trump interrupted her, she showed flashes of the steely calm she displayed during more than eight hours of testimony to a Republican-led House panel. As Mr. Trump spoke, she perched a leg in a subtle curtsy and calmly looked on. When it was her turn, she needled Mr. Trump by calling him “Donald.”
Even her leg is subtle!

Goodbye to Mr. Tucker.

My high school English teacher. Unforgettable classes. If only I could say my lines from Marbury v. Madison the way he could do "Moby Dick."

"Not looking so great anymore, Ann."

Email sent last night from the Democratic Party. I thought they were the ones who weren't disparaging women's looks. Oh, they're the ones who are not looking so great anymore:
Ann, up until this point, September has been a great month of fundraising for Democrats thanks to grassroots supporters like you.

When we hit our mid-month goal, it seemed like Donald Trump and the GOP wouldn't be able to catch us by the end of the month -- but I have to tell you I'm starting to get a little worried.

Donald Trump's grassroots donations are steadily climbing each month. He's getting record-breaking numbers of small-dollar donations -- something that's not typical of a lot of Republican campaigns we've been up against.....
I'm told to "pitch in $3 now" as a way of saying "hell no" to the question whether I want to the Democrats look bad because they got "outraised by Donald Trump and the GOP."

I never give any politicians money, by the way, but I do read the email, because I like to see how the different characters try to scare up money. This one is interesting not just because they played on a woman's fear that she's losing her looks — but thanks for appreciating how I used to look — but also because it calls attention to Trump's success getting a high volume of small donations. That reminded me of this article in the NYT, which also highlights how the 2 parties have switched positions: "Democrats Rake In Money, Thanks to Suit by Republicans":
Democrats denounced [McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission] as an assault on democracy and a sop to billionaires when the Supreme Court issued a ruling two years ago that loosened limits on campaign giving. But Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party leaders are now exploiting the decision, funneling tens of millions of dollars from their wealthiest donors into a handful of presidential swing states.... Just 250 donors have accounted for about $44 million in contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund during the last year....
At the very end of the article: "By contrast, the money raised by Mr. Trump and the Republicans, while robust, has been driven chiefly by small checks from his grass-roots supporters."

Imagine how the NYT would phrase the story if it were Trump taking advantage of McCutcheon — tapping the wealthy — and Hillary reaping huge numbers of small donations from ordinary people.

"Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?"

"Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con."

"Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an 'angel' without checking her past, which is terrible!"

Things tweeted by Trump first thing in the morning. Via the L.A. Times: "Trump continues attacks on former Miss Universe with middle-of-the-night tweets." Is 5 a.m. for Trump the middle of the night? As someone who often blogs at 5 a.m., I can tell you that's not the middle of the night. That's morning for a person who gets up early, and I'm perfectly sharp and lucid, much more so than at 9 or 10 at night. I don't know about Trump. Some people think he's never right in the head.

How the New York Times portrays Hillary's failing in Ohio.

Headline: "Ohio, Long a Bellwether, Is Fading on the Electoral Map." Text:
After decades as one of America’s most reliable political bellwethers, an inevitable presidential battleground that closely mirrored the mood and makeup of the country, Ohio is suddenly fading in importance this year.
What a crazy flip! It's Ohio that's losing — Ohio that's "fading." If Ohio wants to be important, it will need to put Hillary Clinton in a competitive position.
It is a jarring change for political veterans here, who relish being at the center of the country’s presidential races: Because of newer battleground states, Mrs. Clinton can amass the 270 electoral votes required to win even if she loses Ohio.
Well, it is true that the states that lean too far toward one party end up getting ignored. States need to be more flirtatious if they want attention. Don't get married or exciting activity will pass you by.

"Nikki had few defenders on Twitter, but she was the better liked of the two roommates on their dormitory hall."

"Jessica said Nikki had gotten really close to most of the people on the hall and 'got them not to like me.' One of Nikki’s friends, Jessica said, came into the room and tore down her subtweet display... Nikki’s friends remained outside the room. Jessica said she called campus police about it, to report that she was being 'harassed' by them.... Jessica said she never intended her tweets to spread beyond her own friends, whom she assumed would find the whole thing really funny. I asked her how she felt about strangers digging through her roommate’s photos, independently trying to find things to damage Nikki’s reputation online and complete the picture that her viral story had started to paint of this person. 'I don’t know,' she said. 'I really don’t know. Part of me feels bad, but a part of me feels like she’s the one who instigated it.'"

"What happens when your college roommate ‘horror story’ goes viral" (in WaPo, unfortunately).

ADDED: Here's New York Magazine's presentation of the horror story, so you don't have a paywall problem: "Back in my day, if you hated your roommate, you’d march uphill in the snow to the mail center and send an angry telegram to your real friends."

The Supreme Court will hear a First Amendment challenge to the denial of a trademark to a band named The Slants.

The Patent and Trademark Office relied on the provision in the federal statute against registering trademarks that disparage "institutions, beliefs or national symbols."

The Slants won in the Court of Appeals, but agreed that the Supreme Court should take the case because of the importance of the question* (which is the same question that arises in the case involving the Washington Redskins).

The Slants also argue that the government is inconsistent, having rejected and granted trademarks on the names “Heeb,” “Dago,” “Injun” and “Squaw.” They also say that their intent is not to disparage, but to reclaim a term that others have used to disparage — the way some gay people use "queer."

The Redskins make the same argument: They mean the term in a positive way. Whose perspective matters?

 * It's also great publicity for the group. They don't need to register their trademark to be permitted to use the name. That's the government's argument: We follow our standards, and we're not going to support what you are doing, but we won't interfere with you. Even if The Slants lose in the end, after winning in the court below, they will have greatly elevated their profile in this world and it will infuse their trademark with more power than any mere registration could impart.

The president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said he'd like to kill the 3 million drug addicts in his country.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews.... Now there is three million, there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them."
Killing that number of drug users would "finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition," he said.
Duterte took office in June, and the police have killed 1,000+ drug suspects (according to the police). Duterte's statement was a reaction to criticism about these killings — criticism from European Union officials.

ADDED: From a Washington Post article, published last April, quoted on this blog:
Duterte’s neo-authoritarian style, alongside ‘anti-Imperial Manila’ sentiments, has fueled his popularity, particularly in his birthplace of southern Mindanao. Duterte does not deny his poor human rights record — instead he brags about extrajudicial killings that he claims were necessary to pacify Davao.... Along with his bombastic style and rough language — which is typical of a many local politicians but unusual in national politics — this cavalier attitude makes him a kind of Philippine version of Donald Trump.
I don't know how seriously to take Duterte's statement about killing 3 million drug addicts. It's important to see that he was getting bombastic pushing back the Europeans who were assuming the high ground, lecturing him on how to behave. He also took a shot at them for not taking in migrants from the Middle East: “You allow them to rot, and then you’re worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?”

Is Duterte properly comparable to Donald Trump? Well, both men use language in a way that works with the people, and both get compared to Hitler. Obviously, Hitler had a way early on of coming right out and saying what he planned to do. It was hard to believe.

Things that sound so much like hyperbole.

AND: "I believe that those who knew me in those days took me for an eccentric."

September 29, 2016

The real-life feminist bookstore that's the setting for the fictional feminist bookstore on "Portlandia" is mad at "Portlandia."

"Fuck Portlandia/Written by In Other Words Staff."
The Women and Women First segments that are filmed at In Other Words are trans-antagonistic and trans-misogynist and have only become more offensive as the show goes on. ‘LOL Fred Armisen in a wig and a dress’ is a deeply shitty joke whose sole punchline throws trans femmes under the bus by holding up their gender presentation for mockery and ridicule. In a world where trans femmes – particularly Black trans women – are being brutalized and murdered on a regular basis for simply daring to exist, dude in a dress jokes are lazy, reactionary, and actively harmful. They’re also just straight up not funny.

Also: there are no Black people on Portlandia. There are a tiny number of people of color on Portlandia. Portland is white but it’s not that damn white....

"Tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses garner a lot of attention. But plants are often ignored."

"In fact, scientists even have a term for our tendency to overlook plants — plant blindness."
For example, if shown a picture of a lion on a tree, people would be more likely to point out the lion, and ignore the tree. This bias against plants is widespread, and seriously limits conservation efforts, scientists say....
1. Garner. The word. I must register my opposition once again.

2. I agree that people are gaga for animals and focus on them far more than on plants and (I would add) on the nonliving aspects of the natural world — rock formations, land, water, clouds. What's going on there? The animals are not more beautiful. It might have to do with an inborn instinct to hunt, and it might be that they have faces and eyes and we see ourselves in them, we narcissists.

3. I don't know if I would use the word "bias." That makes it sound as though we're against plants.

The "Party in the U.S.A." ad is "a little weird, a little off" and "agressively American," but does that work to make millennials anti-Trump?

Here's "an advertisement intended to convince young voters not to vote for Donald Trump, conceived and produced by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, 'the nation’s largest grassroots anti-Trump organization'..."

"We wanted it to be a little weird, a little off — why am I seeing ISIS and neo-Nazis celebrating over ‘Party in the U.S.A.’? I guess we worried it was a little too poppy at one point, but it’s just so perfect — aggressively American, and a young song that you literally party to."

Yeah, well, you never know when these things will backfire on you. What you mean to be anti-Trump could just as well work pro-Trump. You're showing the enemy, and that could make people feel that they want the strongest opposition to the enemy. Also, "Party in the U.S.A." could mostly stimulate an amorphous pro-U.S.A. feeling, and I think Trump has pretty successfully merged his brand with the general idea of America. Hillary Clinton seems to have more of the Obama-style modesty about America, more reaching out to globalism. Yesterday, I was watching TV, just casually seeing some promotional ad for tonight's Dolphins/Bengals game that had an American flag mixed in with the football images and I felt that, subliminally, this was working pro-Trump. There's no reason why images of the flag and men in football costumes running about makes any kind of an argument for Trump, but I think he's managed to make pro-America feel pro-Trump.

So you can try to influence millennials (or other groups) with flashing images and sounds, but how are you predicting what will go on in their limbic system? You can just take a chance and stimulate and see what happens. Ironically, I think that's what Trump has been doing. And it's out of control. Why not jump in?

It's the political equivalent of treating kidney stones with roller coaster rides.

"Like I said earlier, maybe I am being a little sensitive, but it is how I feel."

"This represents, to me, our society, and I do not want it up on this wall. Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?"

From a complaint about a mural in a University of Wisconsin – La Crosse residence hall, quoted in a National Review piece titled "UW Student Files Report Claiming Harry Potter Mural Is Transphobic and ‘Represents White Power,'" by Katherine Timpf. Timpf is too dismissive of the student's concerns, I think, and resorts to mockery.
Listen, kid. If that’s how you “feel,” then fine. Well, at least kind of fine, because I’d say if you really are so “angry” about having to even “know” people who put up a Harry Potter painting, then you probably have some anger issues you need to address. It’s not like they’re ISIS, relax. But in any case, the biggest problem about all of this isn’t even the fact that this kid seems to “feel” a level of anger over a painting that seems like it would be more appropriate to feel over something like terrorism. It’s the fact that he or she goes right from “it is how I feel” into “I do not want it up on this wall” — right from “I feel like this” into “I am telling you I want you to take it down just because of the reasons I just outlined, those reasons being my feelings.” Honestly, this student’s report shows a level of entitlement and narcissism that’s far more offensive than any painting I’ve ever seen.
It's not just a painting somewhere in the museum. It's a mural, a permanent part of one of the walls that house the students, and it's directed at the students with the obvious intent to make them feel good about where they live:

The intent of the artist is to say to the residents: You should feel great about living here; this place will make you happy. The complainant is saying: It's having the opposite effect on me. That's useful information to the university, and it is, in fact, expressed modestly.

"Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?" That is: Why are you portraying me as ugly and awkward before I got here and in need of a change?

Now, I'm sure many of you will object to something else in the complaint that I haven't quoted yet:
It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc.
That may sound a little hysterical, but as art analysis, it makes sense. The happy "after" character has distinctly lighter skin, and he is in many ways a conventional, idealized young white man. The boy looks gnomish and misshapen. I know it's a joke, and it's based on a real Harry Potter character, and I don't know enough about the Harry Potter series to have any insight into its race and gender politics, but the university can't assume everyone's into Harry Potter. I'm pretty sure the people involved in putting up the mural meant well and thought it was cute and pop and fun, but they should take seriously how they actually make people feel, and the anonymous complainant has brought new complexity to the analysis of art and that's something colleges should want to do.

Let's have more speech.

And let's have better murals. Come on. It really is a bad mural, a bad atmosphere for a college dorm. It's okay to be a funny looking kid. You are loved.

Big train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey.

"An NJ Transit train crashed into the station in Hoboken at the height of Thursday's morning rush, leaving twisted piles of metal and bricks as concern grew over the possibility of mass casualties and dozens of injuries."
"The next thing I know, we are plowing through the platform. It was for a couple seconds, but it felt like an eternity. I saw a woman pinned under concrete," [a passenger] said. "A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying."
Terrorism? The linked article has unnamed law enforcement officers expressing the view that it was only an accident. How is an accident like this possible?

"You can call us wrong, but don’t call us weasels. We are not weasels."

"We are honest people and … whether or not you agree with the result, this was done the way you want it to be done."

Said FBI Director James Comey, testifying yesterday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

ADDED: From deep in this blog's archive — February 2007 — a discussion of the funniness of the word "weasel":
So, we've established that "naked" is funnier than "nude," and now I feel like this is a subject comics have riffed on hundreds of times. I'm trying to find some good examples of this. Oh! Wikipedia has it -- don't you love Wikipedia? -- under the heading: "Inherently funny words" (a somewhat broader topic).
In Neil Simon's play The Sunshine Boys, a character says: "Words with a k in it are funny. Alka-Seltzer is funny. Chicken is funny. Pickle is funny. All with a k. Ls are not funny. Ms are not funny."

Barry Blitt mocks Trump's mockery of his beauty queen.

"Watching the debate, the artist Barry Blitt recognized a significant moment in the Presidential campaign. Of all Trump’s dangerous beliefs, Blitt said, his misogyny 'might just be his Achilles’ heel.'"

ADDED: That might be the ugliest New Yorker cover ever. I've been looking at New Yorker covers for more than 50 years, and I'm very familiar with the light touch and sweet charm of most of them. Blitt brings more political satire than anyone else, but he has a light touch too, with his very thin quill pen marks and highly diluted watercolor washings. But this one... yeesh.

At least he put Trump in a one-piece bathing suit. When's the last time pageant contestants wore one-piece suits?

ADDED: The original swimsuit competition — with Miss America in Atlantic City in the 1920s — had one-piecers like this...

... kind of a cool mini-dress. I like the dots. It's sort of: woman as Wonder Bread.

2-piece suits began in Miss America in 1997, when they were first permitted — with the top of the bottom no lower than 1-inch below the belly button. That rule went away.

And I can see that an occasional contestant still does wear a one-piece suit. I see some discussion back in 2011:
In this year's competition, all but one contestant wore a black bikini and high heels. (Apparently pageant officials give contestants few swimsuits to choose from.) The young woman who donned a one-piece swimsuit was not 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011, former Miss Nebraska, and a devout Christian. No, the brave one-piecer was 19-year-old Miss Idaho Kylie Kofoed, a Mormon and music major at Brigham Young University.
So, notice: It's not just feminists who have a problem with the body-judging in the swimsuits. There are also some conservative religionists. Trump has to appeal to a middle group that is more easygoing about exhibiting and enjoying the seeing the female body. 

"Don, I really like you. Get the hell out of here.… You’re not going to win this state.... But if anything changes, I’ll call you."

What Tommy Thompson said to Donald Trump, according to Donald Trump, who was speaking in Waukesha (Wisconsin) after, he said, Tommy Thompson called him up and said, "Don, time to come back."

I didn't know Trump called himself "Don." Or is that just what Tommy Thompson calls him?

"I guess I am having an Aleppo moment... I am having a brain freeze...."

Too bad Gary Johnson is so... weak/ tired/ lackadaisical/ apathetic/ dull...

What is this man's problem?!

Obama confronted with some terrible facts about female Marines in combat.

At last night's "Military and The Commander and Chief" town hall with President Obama, Captain Lauren Serrano asked a question about women in combat:
CAPTAIN LAUREN SERRANO: A study by the Marine Corps revealed that mixed gender combat units performed notably worse and that women suffered staggeringly higher rates of injury. Just one of those statistics showed that mixed gender units took up to 159 percent longer to evacuate a casualty than all-male units. As the wife of a Marine who deploys to combat often, that added time can mean the difference between my husband living or dying. Why were these tangible negative consequences disregarded and how does the integration of women positively enhance the infantry mission and make me and my husband safer?
Obama says:
I don't think any of - any studies are going to be disregarded. I think that what we have to do is to take a look at the particular deployments, the particular situations.... [I]f you can't do the job, if there is a problem with performance, then that has to be taken into account. But keep in mind that there are a lot of jobs that are considered combat that don't necessarily involve you being on the front lines going door-to-door in Fallujah.... [T]here may be situations in which [women] could do the best job. It may not involve physical strength or how many pull-ups you can do, it may involve the precision with which you can operate and you being able to keep your cool you being able to carry out a task with a low error rate. And it may be that in those situations, a woman can perform better than a man.
Did the Marine Corps study show that there were some things women did better? Or is the idea that individuals who can do these "precision" tasks best will be assigned to them, and some women will fit this group? And then there are physical-strength tasks that just aren't that dangerous, but are technically "combat," and that's also a place where female Marines can be assigned. There really aren't that many female Marines — only 6.8 % of Marines are female — so the point seems to be: Use them properly and the problem is taken care of without the blunt exclusion from combat.

The inclusion is not, Obama says, just "political correctness" or "some symbolic issue." The idea is to use everyone to the extent that they are useful. Except he doesn't say "use." He speaks in terms of giving "opportunities."
I don't want the presumption to be that a woman can't do the job, because I'm looking at you right now and I'm pretty sure that you're in better shape than I am and you can do a lot of stuff I couldn't do. And I don't want you not to have that opportunity.

I agree with you that we can't just out of some ideological notion make it more dangerous for your husband. But I don't want to - I don't want a military, an institution that starts with the premise that women can't do something. If it turns out they can't do something, then we'll deal with that specific situation. But I don't want to start off with that assumption.

September 28, 2016

Trump in Wisconsin... in Waukesha.

You can watch live here.

No, I'm not there. I'd be interested in checking it out, but it's an hour away. Meade's skipping it too. To me, it's interesting that Trump is paying attention to Wisconsin. FiveThirtyEight's intestine of the states...

... has Wisconsin 5 back in the line of states that Trump might try to reach to get to 270 electoral votes. That's after Michigan. It's interesting to be getting that kind of attention.

I'm hearing the former Senator Bob Kasten saying that there are 2,000 people who didn't make it into the room, so I'm sure if Meade and I had tooled down I-94 after my class ended, we'd only have made it into the overflow room, so I'm doing overflow back here at my remote outpost in Madison.

Listen to "Daddy's Car" — which is what you get when you ask artificial intelligence to make a new Beatles song.

The explanation is kind of confusing:
The song in question was created by researchers at Sony, who used the company’s Flow Machines software to analyze a database of some 13,000 lead sheets (basic scores that record the melody and harmony of tracks) from different genres around the world. The software writes its own melodies, and a human composer, Benoît Carré, was drafted to turn material into a fully produced track. He simply inputted a desired style of music (in this case The Beatles) and got to work.
So how much was software and how much was the human being, Benoît Carré? I'm willing to believe it's mostly the machine, because the lyrics are a cut-up jumble of words — reminding me of Tristan Tzara's "To Make a Dadaist Poem" (1920):
Take a newspaper.
Take a pair of scissors.
Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
Shake it gently.
Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
Copy conscientiously.
The poem will be like you.
And here are you a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.
When did The Beatles sing about "daddy"? The answer is twice. 1. "Back in the U.S.S.R.": "Take me to your daddy's farm." 2. In "She's Leaving Home": "She breaks down and cries to her husband 'Daddy, our baby's gone.'" (A woman calls her own husband "Daddy.")

Is it right — is it nice — to wield Miss Universe as a weapon against Trump?

Here's Hillary at the debate, bringing up Alicia Machado, who won the Miss Universe contest and then gained a lot of weight and got criticized by Donald Trump — who owns the contest.

Trump responded on a higher level of generality, with the idea that Hillary was going low and he was choosing not to follow her. He had some great low material, but he wouldn't use it, and her use of it wasn't nice. He wanted to be nice. That fit with something he said to her very early on in the debate: "I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me."

After the debate — with a lot of people talking about Machado and giving her air time — he got specific:
Mr. Trump has acknowledged pressuring her to lose weight, saying it was her job as Miss Universe to remain in peak physical shape. On Tuesday morning, he made no apologies for that.

“She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” he told Fox News.
I said what I had to say on the subject last May:
What was Donald Trump supposed to do about that? He owned the business, and she had claimed — and beat out other women for — the job of acting as if she's the most beautiful woman in the universe, and then she radically changed her appearance....

Wasn't she obligated to control her weight according to the terms of employment? If you can't do the job, don't apply for it. No one has to enter a beauty pageant. I think it's a foolish business, but if you participate in foolishness, you owe something to those who gave you that platform. It takes some psychological grit. If you're sensitive about what people say about how you look, what are you doing there?

This is another example of anti-Trump media purporting to champion women but in fact treating them as if they are weak, fragile, not responsible for their own choices, and in need of protection. It seems to me that Trump was treating her the way he'd treat a man — holding her to her obligations and razzing her for her foibles.

The shimmy, part 2.

Earlier today, I raised the question whether that shoulder thing that Hillary Clinton did during the debate...

... is properly called the shimmy. I took the position that what makes that shoulder shake a shimmy is if you're doing it to jiggle your breasts.

In the comments, MayBee said: "Yes! That's why it was so creepy!"

Tim in vermont said: "She sort of reminds me of Ursula in The Little Mermaid as she sang 'Poor deplorable souls'":

EDH linked to a "Gilligan's Island" clip of Ginger singing "I Want to Be "Loved by You" and asks: "If Hillary is Ginger, does that make Trump MaryAnn? If so, Trump wins." But I just want to say Ginger only wishes she could shimmy like her sister Marilyn:

She couldn't aspire to anything higher... than the presidency!

Noton Yalife and Earnest Prole both say: "That's a Bingo!"

Tim Tebow hits a home run in his first at-bat...

... in his new baseball career. Just instructional league. Not bigly Big League.

"'I don't see that I deserve to be put upon and stormed at for nothing!' concluded the small woman, bigly."

A quote from Thomas Hardy's "Far From the Madding Crowd," discovered just now as I — participating in this Facebook discussion — looked up "bigly" in the Oxford English dictionary.

concluded the small woman, bigly... that cracks me up.

"Who do you want to be president? The answer may say less about Donald or Hillary and more about which Simpson character you identify with — Bart or Lisa?"

Writes BYU polisci prof Richard Davis, author of "The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics."

Davis is reacting to the debate, which I was just saying had me thinking about the archetypes of the brother and the sister. The post of mine bounced off something written by a Catholic priest, who'd gotten into talking about Hillary in terms of Nurse Ratched. In the comments, Lyssa suggested, taking into account my brother/sister idea, that Bart and Lisa Simpson might be the better comparison. No one roots for Nurse Ratched, but we do root for Lisa Simpson. Meade texted me the link to Professor Davis's piece. So we move from the musings of the Catholic priest to the Mormon professor, who says:
For better-educated, professional Americans, the idea of Hillary Clinton taking the reins of government is reassuring. She will continue many of Obama’s policies, seek to improve relations with other nations, and stand up to Vladimir Putin. She will not make outrageous statements, offend people or challenge the status quo.

Those Americans shudder at the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. They wonder why anyone would want to put a Bart Simpson-like character in the White House running the government. The result would be disaster.

However, for other Americans — those who feel isolated and left behind by economic and social change — a Lisa Simpson-like president would be distant, out of touch, and more of the same. Yes, Hillary Clinton would be dedicated to doing a good job. But, in their view, she would not make life better for them because she doesn’t speak for or relate to them.
IN THE COMMENTS: TosaGuy takes the position that people don't like Lisa, not anymore.

"What Could The Polls Be Missing?"

A conversation at FiveThirtyEight:
Hypothesis #1: The polls are underestimating Clinton because they don’t factor in her superior ground game....

Hypothesis #2: The polls are underestimating Trump because of shy Trump voters....

Hypothesis #3: The polls are underestimating Clinton because she has a lot more money than Trump and will blitz the airwaves in the last few weeks of the campaign....

Hypothesis #4 (and this one I buy): The polls are underestimating Clinton because the remaining set pieces of the campaign — the things we know will happen — play to Clinton’s strengths, all else being equal. The remaining debates, mostly....
By the way, there's a new Reuters poll (9/22 - 9/26) that has Hillary up by 6. The previous Reuters poll had Trump and Hillary tied (9/15 - 9/19). The new one is still pre-debate.

"Haven't read the article yet but re-watching the debate, looking at the split screen, I thought these are archetypes of the brother and the sister."

"The sister is doing her homework, being a Goody 2 Shoes all day long, getting pats on the head over and over again, getting away with stuff on the sly, and the brother thinks it's all bullshit and he's not going to be your good little boy."

That's something I wrote on the fly, over at Facebook, on seeing this:

The linked piece is written by a Catholic priest, Dwight Longenecker, which I'm reading only after dashing off my comment. Longenecker says Trump is tapping into the “reptilian brain”:
This is why all Hillary’s prim preparation, plans and programs don’t matter. Donald’s digging deeper. This is also why Hillary’s attack on Donald’s misogyny and male chauvinism don’t matter....

Feminism has brought with it the organized Mother. Here is the prim and tidy housekeeper. Everything in its place. Everything spic and span. You need to clean your room, wash your hands and turn up in time for supper... If you don’t obey you will be punished. Don’t you know this is for the best? If you don’t comply you will be fined. If you don’t take your medication Nurse Ratched will make sure you get electric shock treatment....

Where does Donald Trump fit in? I think he’s the figurehead of a pushback... Should he be a good boy and do his homework and prepare for the debate then drink his milk and cookies and go to bed on time so he’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the morning? “Fuhgeddaboudit. That preparation and doing your homework stuff is for sissies.” He’s going to stay out with the boys and wing it. He’ll do ok. He always has....

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, represents exactly what Donald Trump is reacting against. She is Nurse Ratched. She is the organized, cunning, planning, smiling Mommy who expects everyone to behave so that the home will be neat and tidy and together so everyone will be happy.

She is the sort of woman who “lives for others” and you can tell the others by their hunted look.

Donald, on the other hand, is the bad boy who sticks out his tongue, comes in late and runs roughshod over the whole household.
If it were a movie, you'd be rooting for the boy. No one roots for Nurse Ratched — mentioned twice in the priest's meditation (which ends with the observation that we are all sinners and may God have mercy on our souls). I've been aware as I watch the election unfold that I am rooting for Donald Trump. I don't intellectually embrace him or much of what he is saying, but I know — it's so clear — that I'm rooting for him. That's an observable phenomenon, and it's undeniable.

That Hillary shoulder thing.

Featured — moving like that — on the front page of the NYT. The teaser is "Watching on Mute, I Still Knew the Score/The idea was simple: to test the theory that what presidential candidates say during debates is less important than what they look like while they’re saying it." Here's the article. The author, Jonathan Mahler, loves that shoulder thing:
It was a little shimmy of her shoulders — cheeky, insouciant — accompanied by a big, toothy grin. Her opponent smirked.

She looked as if she was having fun. He, not so much...
Well, "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"...

But what is the shimmy? Was Hillary doing the shimmy? Is the shimmy presidential??

I'm under the impression that the key to the shimmy is not just moving your shoulders, but shaking your shoulders to cause your breasts to jiggle.

Here's some very informative reading on the subject by Timothy Cresswell from "On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World" (click to enlarge):

"And I say this very regretfully as a liberal Democrat who has spent a legal career defending the indigent in criminal court..."

The "I" is The Kenosha Kid, writing what is the top-rated comment on the cover story in the NYT Magazine. The article is titled "Baltimore vs. Marilyn Mosby/In the midst of a national crisis of police violence, Baltimore’s state’s attorney gambled that prosecuting six officers for the death of Freddie Gray would help heal her city. She lost much more than just the case." Here's the whole comment, which begins with a quote from the article:
"When she started her campaign to become the city’s top prosecutor a year before, she was a 33-year-old corporate lawyer working for an insurance firm... In conversation with half a dozen prosecutors who worked with Mosby, no one could remember any of the cases she handled before her election."

Anyone who has spent a career in the criminal courts knows two things for certain:

1) a lawyer needs to be both very good, even brilliant, and must acquire the battle-tested seasoning of years of jury trials in order to be more than barely competent in that arena;

"After Fatal Boat Crash, Baseballs Apparently Signed by Jose Fernandez Wash Ashore."

Very poignant, haunting, evocative...

Too poignant, haunting, and evocative?

I'm sad this young man died in this boat accident, but I'm really skeptical about the autographed baseballs washing up on the beach.

September 27, 2016

Michael Moore mocks "pro-Hillary gloaters."

"I don’t care how much you dislike Trump, that shouldn’t be happening in a supposedly balanced debate."

"Holt asked eight generic questions of both candidates.... But there was [sic] also five questions that were asked specifically of certain candidates. All but one were to Trump, and all of those were negative questions about varying Trump controversies...."
In addition, at certain times in the debate, Holt interrupted to fact-check the candidates. Every single one of these fact-checks were directed toward Trump. Certainly Trump did himself no favors in that department by repeating obvious whoppers, but it’s not as though Clinton wasn’t making ... false claims herself....

Chanted at the Charlotte City Council meeting last night: "Hands Down! Shoot Back!"

"A furious crowd of citizens criticized and often shouted down Charlotte City Council on Monday night...."
Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who allowed people to speak for two hours, repeatedly had to stop the meeting, pleading for quiet. Sometimes the crowd quieted to allow people to speak. At other times, her requests were met with heckles and chants for justice....

Members of the audience repeatedly shouted down council members as they attempted to talk.

“You’re telling me you’re coming to my house. You tell me I look like Donald Trump. You tell me I’m smirking. That doesn’t feel good,” council member Kenny Smith said. “… But we need to talk. We need to do it together.”

When council member Ed Driggs said, “We have to continue to support our chief, who is an honest man,” he was shouted down.

"Clinton won on points.... Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election."

Opines Scott Adams.
... Trump needed to solve exactly one problem: Look less scary. Trump needed to counter Clinton’s successful branding of him as having a bad temperament to the point of being dangerous to the country. Trump accomplished exactly that…by…losing the debate.

Trump was defensive, and debated poorly at points, but he did not look crazy. And pundits noticed that he intentionally avoided using his strongest attacks regarding Bill Clinton’s scandals. In other words, he showed control. He stayed in the presidential zone under pressure. And in so doing, he solved for his only remaining problem. He looked safer....
By the way, Adams says he perceived Clinton as "unhealthy," even though she seemed strong and alert through the whole 90 minutes: "She had the look of someone whose doctors had engineered 90 minutes of alertness for her just for the event." Hey... that's a bit like Howard Dean detecting cocaine in Trump's sniffling nose. Everybody's a doctor.

And Dean actually is a doctor, a real doctor... doesn't just play one on TV.

For young readers: I'm making a comic reference to something old, but perhaps you will enjoy it:

"On Nov. 11, Columbia Records and Legacy Records will release Bob Dylan: The 1966 Live Recordings, a 36-disc boxed set..."

"... with 'every known recording' from his tours that year..."

"Howard Dean wonders if Donald Trump’s continuous sniffing is coke-related."

"Huh. I’m old enough to remember when the left at least paid lip service to hating McCarthy-esque smear campaigns...." blogs Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.

Well, Dean was only asking. It was pretty hard not to be distracted by the sniffling. I thought Hillary was the one who was supposed to be sick, and here's Trump with — what? — a cold. He was mostly sniffling at the beginning. I was exclaiming "He keeps sniffing!" And he had that new vertical-index-finger gesture — you know, the upper lip windshield wiper move? Since I was on alert to see if Hillary had what it takes physically, I was riveted by Trump's nose.

ADDED: Trump said: "No sniffles. No. You know, the mic was very bad, but maybe it was good enough to hear breathing, but there was no sniffles." If you heard sniffles, you're wrong or the microphone was wrong.

"That’s called business, by the way."/"That makes me smart."

Remarks inserted by Trump, as Hillary Clinton criticized him in last night's debate. Her emphasis is on Trump as another one of those rich people who amass too much wealth. He stresses the skill to take advantage of whatever the laws happen to be. The real question — I hope people know — is what should the laws be. Change the laws if they if they create the wrong opportunities for advantage, but don't flail people for making their private decisions in a way that serves their own interests.

Here's the context, from the transcript:
CLINTON: We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm. In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.

TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.


CLINTON: So you've got to ask yourself, why won't he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he's not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart. 
The way I see it is: Hillary Clinton has long been part of the government that is responsible for making the laws what they are. Donald Trump has been on the receiving end, trying to operate successfully within that system of rules. He is offering to transfer that that experience into decision-making about what the law should be. We are asked to trust one of them. There is no option to trust neither.

ADDED: In a debate characterized by interruptions, it's worth that the first interruption was Trump's "That's called business, by the way." Trump interrupted Clinton again in that same turn (to deny that he said "climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese" (which he did once tweet, perhaps as a joke)). Clinton never complained about that interruption. In fact, she took it as freeing her to interrupt, which she did the next time Trump got a turn. And it was quite something, with Trump also not complaining about interruption but reveling in the liberation to go back and forth:

How to equalize the housework.

That's a better title for what the WSJ calls "Four Tips to Save Time on Housework." Or... their title is better if you don't want to make it obvious that the tips are aimed at women who live with men:

The best tip relates to something that I've blogged about here before: The woman may be doing more than the man because she believes that more needs to be done. She can adjust that belief downward — "Lower your standards" — and get to equality by doing less herself.

In the future: Wheelchairs for everybody.

The video is from Nissan. I'd like to assume it's really only a promotion of the technology for self-driving cars. But the linked article — via Drudge — seems to take it seriously... at least as a novelty for restaurants accommodating people waiting in line.

Hillary Clinton's unchallenged, illogical statement about private prisons.

In the middle of the impressionistic and meandering answers to Lester Holt's question "So how do you heal the divide?" — the "very wide and bitter gap" over "race relations" in America — Hillary said one thing that was simply illogical on its face. From the transcript:
I’m glad that we’re ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans.
Government prosecutes criminals and obtains convictions and prison sentences. If government uses privately run prisons, it must pay these private businesses to house its prisoners. The entity filling the prison therefore has an economic incentive against putting more people in prison. The private business — the one with the "profit motivation" — has no power to create more prisoners. I can see opposing private prisons for other reasons, but Hillary's justification made no sense to me other than a random expression of disgust for business.

She zipped on to other race-related ideas, and Trump never called attention to this nonsense. So I'm looking for answers on the web today. I found this from last June at The Intercept:
After The Intercept revealed that the Clinton campaign had received campaign donations from private prison lobbyists, a number of activist groups confronted Clinton, leading her to announce that she would no longer accept the money and later declaring that “we should end private prisons and private detention centers.”
Oh! So perhaps Clinton doesn't really believe in ending private prisons at all, and the nonsense I heard was a dog-whistle to her old lobbyist friends in the industry. She premised her objection on the terrible "profit motivation" — thus also dog-whistling to the Democratic Party's anti-corporations base — but anyone who begins with economics and reasons from there will understand that private prisons are a way for government to save money.

And here's Politico, last February, noting that the Clinton campaign made $8,600 contribution to a women's prison charity after she was criticized by ColorofChange for getting contributions from lobbyists for private prisons:
Despite the refunds, Clinton campaign continues to benefit handsomely from the fundraising assistance of some closely connected to the private prison business. In another report filed Sunday night, the campaign disclosed that Richard Sullivan of Capitol Counsel—until recently, a Raleigh, N.C.-based federally registered lobbyist for the for-profit prison operator GEO Group—bundled $69,363 in donations for Clinton in the fourth quarter, bringing his total for the year to a whopping $274,891. That makes Sullivan the second-most prolific lobbyist-bundler for the Clinton campaign, beaten out only by D.C. lobbyist Heather Podesta, who's tallied up $348,581 so far.
Bernie Sanders used this issue against Clinton, as HuffPo reported last February.

Here's the way Hillary Clinton's own website explains her current position:
Hillary believes we should move away from contracting out this core responsibility of the federal government to private corporations. We must not create private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration. The campaign does not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or PACs for private prison companies and will donate any such direct contributions to charity.
Ah, so it's really on the "the appearance of contributing" to over-incarceration that matters. Too bad Trump had absolutely no instinct to jump on this issue: She took contributions, Bernie and racial justice groups slammed her on it, she flipped her position for political appearance, and she doesn't see the need to talk straight about the economics of it; she says nothing about anything abusive happening in these private prison; her only reason is an economic point that makes no sense.

And check this out, from The Daily Beast: "Hillary Clinton’s Pitch to End Private Prisons Is the Surprise Hit of the Presidential Debate/A focus group in Pennsylvania loved Clinton’s attack on prisons that profit from inmates. Her position could help win a decisive victory in the state."

I guess that's good news for Trump: It's not about making sense. 

September 26, 2016

The big debate.

I'm not going to try to live-blog. I'm just going to watch straight through and see how the whole thing affects me — me, attempting to experience reality like a normal person, not a blogging machine. But please, do comment. Keep up the conversation. I'll join in eventually.

ADDED: Jaltcoh — my son, John Althouse Cohen — is live-blogging. He's good at this. Check it out.

AND: On watching the debate straight through: That was intense. Those 2 faces on the split screen for 90 minutes was quite the ordeal. How many times did Trump lean into the microphone and say "wrong" while Clinton was speaking? There was plenty of interrupting from both candidates, and it almost turned into the event that Trump had proposed: No moderator. Not that Lester Holt didn't attempt to fact-check Trump a few times.

Trump brought a lot of stress to the event, and Clinton certainly stood up to him. She even managed to flash a smile a number of times — even though there was never a thing to smile about (and really no humor whatsoever). Clinton never coughed, and there was no flagging of energy. It was Trump who needed to drink water and wipe the sweat from his upper lip with his finger a few times. Clinton was a bit artificial, but she never got dead and robotic the way we've seen elsewhere.

Substantively, it's mostly a blur now. Trump seemed strong talking about law and order and, later, blaming Clinton for the rise of ISIS. Clinton got very severe accusing Trump of racism early on (over the issue of whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.) and, at the end, sexism (letting fly with a prepared list of misogynistic things Trump supposedly did or said).

Overall, I'll just say that was very unpleasant and I'm glad it's over. I switched it off without stopping to listen to any of the spin.

Who do you think won?

pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE: Poll results:

An Althouse blog first — since I don't see anyone else doing it right — a drinking game for the presidential debate.

Trump says "And by the way." 1 sip.

Clinton coughs. 1 sip for each second beyond 1 second.

Lester Holt corrects something Trump says. 1 sip.

Lester Holt corrects something Hillary says. 1 large gulp.

Clinton claims to have been a champion of women and children all her life. 1 sip.

Anyone mentions "the glass ceiling." 1 sip.

Somebody says "basket of deplorables." 1 sip.

Trump says "We have to do it" or "We have no choice." 1 sip.

Anyone says "Still dicking bimbos at home." 1 large glass.

Either candidate refers to the other as a big liar. 1 sip.

Clinton uses her long career in government as a positive factor/Trump disrespects a long career in government. 1 sip.

Trump portrays himself as a newcomer to politics in a positive light/Clinton disrespects newcomer status. 1 sip.

Clinton refers to the times Trump has insulted a woman. 1 sip.

Trump brings up Clinton's efforts to discredit Bill Clinton's women. 1 sip.

Clinton is referred to as "The Bitch America Needs." 1 large gulp.

Anyone gets caught up in the meaning of the concept of being "qualified" to be President. 1 sip.

Any reference to Trump steaks. 1 sip.

Any reference to Skittles. 1 sip.

Any reference to anyone's hair. 1 sip.

Any reference to how much sleep either candidate needs. 1 sip.

An answer begins with "Well" and then a pause. 1 sip.

Trump says his father told him not to attempt to build in Manhattan. 1 sip.

Hillary says her mother worked as a maid. 1 sip.

Either candidate refers to the other's supporters as under-/over-educated. 1 sip.

Hillary calls Trump "Donald." 1 sip.

Trump calls Clinton anything other than "Hillary Clinton" or "Secretary Clinton." 1 sip.

Anyone says "What have you got to lose?" 1 sip.

Hillary delivers a laugh line that you are 100% sure is scripted. 1 sip.

Hillary delivers a laugh line that you are at least 90% sure is spontaneous. 1 gulp.

Someone mentions Arnold Palmer. 1 sip.

Someone mentions the new Museum of African American History and Culture. 1 sip.

Anyone says "Citizens United." 1 sip.

Any reference to Americans as "hard-working." 1 sip.

Any comprehensible explanation of how Hillary will or will not repeal the Second Amendment. 1 sip.

Any mention of dogs or cats. 1 sip.

Any reference to something that will be done on the first day. 1 sip.

Hillary uses one of Trump's characteristic hand gestures (such as the index finger poised on the thumb). 1 sip.

Either candidate — except at the very beginning or end — leaves his/her place behind the lectern and moves into the other person's territory. 2 large gulps.

3 theories on why lower-educated men have so much more leisure time than higher-educated men.

By Derek Thompson, writing in The Atlantic. (The title is so bad: "The Free-Time Paradox in America/The rich were meant to have the most leisure time. The working poor were meant to have the least. The opposite is happening. Why?" I hate the use of the word "meant," and the article is mostly about men who don't work, so "working poor" is bad.)

Theory #1: "The availability of attractive work for poor men (especially black men) is falling, as the availability of cheap entertainment is rising."

Theory #2: "Social forces cultivate a conspicuous industriousness (even workaholism) among affluent college graduates."

Theory #3: "Leisure is getting 'leaky.'" (That is, work leaks into leisure time through our wonderful gadgets.)

Overheard at Meadhouse.

"I see there's a libertarian theme in your blog today."

"Maybe that's what happens if I sleep until 8. I wake up libertarian."

The right to refuse to make a racist cake...

... and to form your own opinion about what constitutes racism....

... and to apologize if commercial interests indicate you made the wrong call.

"I think it's fine to have a free market where the debate is on many channels and one of them has on-screen fact-checking."

"I'd like one of them to be like 'Mystery Science Theater' or 'Beavis and Butthead.' Another could be 'Bad Lip Reading.' Let the people decide what they'd like to watch."

"Weed marketers have managed to corrupt the language and sell this as 'recreational' use, as if getting high was akin to hiking, tennis or soccer."

"You sip booze, you’re a social drinker or — if a gulper — a drunk. Puff on cigarettes, you’re a smoker. You’re never a recreationist."

Writes George Skelton in an L.A. Times piece with the headline "The problems with rushing to legalize marijuana for stoner use in California." He's trying to shape opinion against Proposition 64, which would "legalize marijuana use for anyone 21 and older." Skelton is being pedantic about language, but he doesn't notice the problem with saying "legalize" when marijuana trade and possession remain a crime under federal law.

Skelton thinks the word "stoner" should be used to refer to all marijuana use that is not "medical." He seems to think that "stoner" corresponds to drinker (for alcohol) and smoker (for tobacco smoking) and that "recreational" is an inappropriate euphemism. But "recreational" was only needed to distinguish "medical," and "medical marijuana" is the real scam — politically useful to get nice people to go along with halfway legalization and politically perverse in that it invites people who halfway care about law to cheat their way into access. Only the completely honest sticklers for truth and law are left on the outside.

Skelton wants the more negative word — "stoner" — but I think that "recreational" is too negative. It suggests that an individual's use of a mind-altering drug is — if not to treat a physiological ailment — just for fun. But drugs like marijuana can be used — non-medically — to heighten aesthetic awareness (to appreciate music and art), to open up a religious experience, to improve sexual relationships, and to alter routine thinking patterns — perhaps enhancing one's ability to see the repression inherent in laws that bar us from choosing what we do with our minds and bodies.

You need some human flesh on those bones, Skelton.

AND: If you didn't laugh at that last line, maybe you would if you had used some marijuana.

"That I am totally devoid of sympathy for, or interest in, the world of groups is directly attributable to the fact that my two greatest needs and desires — smoking cigarettes and plotting revenge — are basically solitary pursuits."

"Oh, sure, sometimes a friend or two drops by and we light up together and occasionally I bounce a few vengeance ideas around with a willing companion, but actual meetings are really unnecessary."

One of 25 quotes from famous women about being alone. There are a lot of interesting quotes over there. I just picked the one that jumped out at me and needily insisted on being my friend. It's from Fran Lebowitz.

"Facts are simple and facts are straight/Facts are lazy and facts are late/Facts all come with points of view/Facts don't do what I want them to..."

"... Facts just twist the truth around/Facts are living turned inside out/Facts are getting the best of them/Facts are nothing on the face of things."

Lyrics from "Crosseyed and Painless" by Talking Heads, presented as a comment at New York Magazine on a long, tendentious piece titled "How Will Voters Separate Fact From Fiction at the Debates?"

"Facts don't stain the furniture/Facts go out and slam the door/Facts are written all over your face/Facts continue to change their shape/I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting... I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting..."

"The Great Wall has been rebuilt as a small road which is too horrible to look at."

"Its cultural value has been seriously sabotaged. This is not a restoration, it has been seriously ruined."

Have you seen the photographs of how China is preserving the Great Wall by pouring concrete all over the top of it, obliterating its distinctive features?

"Everyone (at least in certain high-profile or professional circles) is doing it, and very few are confessing..."

"... a fact that in some ways is more disturbing than the surge in the surgeries themselves. Because not only are we nipping, suctioning and using hormones, but we’re also feeling embarrassed about it, and lying. Neither of which was really the point of women’s liberation."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Aging and My Beauty Dilemma," by Debora L. Spar, who is the president of Barnard College. The essay is adapted from one of the essays in a new book, "The Bitch Is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier," which says, on its back cover, "Having aged into their forties, fifties, and sixties, these 'bitches'—bestselling authors, renowned journalists, and other extraordinary yet also ordinary women — have brilliant and bold things to say."

Is "too risky" a good argument against Trump?

Consider this colloquy from yesterday's "Face the Nation":
JOHN DICKERSON: In advance of the debates, the Clinton team is pushing the idea that Donald Trump is too risky to be president. You had some interesting finding there about this idea of risk and Donald Trump. Explain that.

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Right. Well, both candidates, to some extent, are described as risky among a number of other descriptions that voters use. Trump, in particular, but you notice even his voters say that he is risky. Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for them. And the reason is, they want change. They want change -- political change and cultural change and economic change, so they’re willing to tolerate some risk in order to get the change that they want.

But The Washington Post is saying — on the day of the debate — "It's beyond debate that Donald Trump is unfit to be president."

At FiveThirtyEight:

At Real Clear Politics:

The Washington Post and The New York Times just came out with their big editorials, but did anyone who's for Trump or seriously considering Trump even read that material? It was already understood that elite media regard Trump as not just way worse than Hillary but not even in the same category. Trump — they've told us for over a year —isn't qualified. He's not even normal.

But after media's drumming all of that into our head, Trump is still around, and he's practically even with Hillary. He's inching up day by day. Jumping up today. And that's before Trump does the kind of ad spending that Hillary has been doing all along.
Donald Trump's campaign is planning for what it says will amount to $140 million worth of advertising from now until Election Day....
The plan represents a new approach for the billionaire businessman, who has repeatedly bragged in recent weeks about how much less he's spent than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and seemed to rely heavily on free media coverage of his large rallies.
And the Trump rallies continue — tomorrow in Florida, the next day in Wisconsin — with all the attendant word of mouth. But Hillary is doing rallies too. Her campaign schedule has her in North Carolina tomorrow, New Hampshire (with Bernie Sanders) on Wednesday, and Florida on Thursday. Her campaign must know that elite media cannot carry her, no matter how hard they try — and that trying so hard has been destructive to the power of elite media.

But there's always the debate. We've been told to believe that Trump doesn't even deserve to stand on the stage alongside her and that she can somehow simply talk and look like the only real candidate and he'll somehow be revealed as the devil he is. But look at those polls. How did that man get where you can clearly see he is? She's the one who's supposed to be so well-grounded in reality, and it's undeniable real that he's right up there next to her.

September 25, 2016

Flowers in the sewer — the misogyny of the disgust for Bill Clinton's lover.

On "Meet the Press" today, Chuck Todd was interviewing Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta:
CHUCK TODD: Is your goal of this debate is to get under his skin? Is that why you gave Mark Cuban a ticket right in the front row?

JOHN PODESTA: No, I think Mark Cuban is one of the business leaders who was never involved in partisan politics who's endorsed Hillary because he thinks she'll do better for the-- for the economy. I think that, you know, you saw his reaction, which is to do his favorite sport, which is to dive in the sewer and go for a swim.
Trump's reaction, you remember, was "Perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" Now, I have a feminist problem with Trump's remark, one that I haven't seen anyone else notice, and that is the idea that he can "put" the woman where he likes. Flowers is a person, not an object — like a vase of flowers — but Flowers has already responded positively to the notion of getting placed in front of Hillary.*

So let me move on to the feminist problem I have with what Podesta said. He says the name, Mark Cuban, and vaunts him as a business leader who is above politics, but he won't say the name of the woman and he speaks of her as a creature of the sewer.

Todd pushes him: "You said-- you referred to diving into the sewer, so you believe that inviting Gennifer Flowers is diving into the sewer?" And Podesta has the smarts to resist further disrespecting the woman. But later, there's a panel, and one of the participants is Stephanie Cutter (who was Obama's deputy campaign manager in 2012 and who helped John Kerry prepare for debates in 2004). Todd asks her about "the idea of gamesmanship, which is the Clinton Campaign deciding to put Mark Cuban in the front row," and the response had me shouting at the TV:
STEPHANIE CUTTER: ... What Clinton and Trump are doing are trying to throw each other off their game. The difference is Hillary Clinton is doing it with a legitimate businessman, also, a celebrity. And as John Podesta put it earlier on your show, Trump is just jumping right down in the sewer and swimming in it by inviting Gennifer Flowers.
The man is "legitimate," and the woman is a "sewer."

Chuck Todd turned to another panelist, Steve Schmidt (a senior adviser to John McCain in 2008).
STEVE SCHMIDT: [The tactic of inviting Cuban] was clearly designed to provoke Donald Trump and it provoked Donald Trump, it provoked Donald Trump into going down the Gennifer Flowers rabbit hole....
The Gennifer Flowers rabbit hole?! Don't call a woman a "hole." Don't speak of a human being as a lower animal, a rodent. Whatever these people want to say about Trump, they should say it about Trump, but they instinctively jumped to express disgust toward the woman — who's really just a bystander to the pre-debate mind-games. Is this misogyny? The argument that it is not depends on the idea that the disgust is with sexuality — what happens when the man and the woman — Bill and Gennifer — get together and not with the woman herself. But the instinct — in both Podesta and Cutter — was to take the man out of the picture. Bill, like Mark Cuban, is legitimate. That horrible woman over there should be treated as a nonentity — down in a hole, there in the excrement, a rodent, a filthy pest. Anyone who would name her or treat her with equal dignity has himself fallen down into the sewer with her — "swimming in it," swimming in shit.

Being on the side of the female candidate does not absolve you of misogyny. It blinds you to it. 

* The full tweet is: "If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" You can see that Cuban's autonomy is respected in the word "wants." What does Cuban want to do? By contrast, Flowers can be put where Trump wants.

"The suspect is Arcan Cetin, born in Turkey. Who the hell tried to spin the whole Hispanic narrative?"

Who indeed?

Robby Mook pushes the theory that it would be "unfair" to Hillary Clinton for the debate moderator not to intervene on her behalf and correct Trump.

On "This Week" this morning:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys have been pushing that pretty hard, this idea of a double standard, and saying it’s up to the moderator to point out falsehoods. But the debate commission has been pretty clear that they think it’s the job of the moderator basically to get out of the way and just ask the questions.

MOOK: Well, all that -- again, all that we’re asking is that, if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out. It’s unfair to ask for Hillary both to play traffic cop while with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people.
Stephanopoulos pushes back. Debate moderators are supposed to let the candidates debate each other. Mook's response is that Donald Trump is "special," and "this is a special circumstance, a special debate," and Hillary won't be getting her fair share of the time if she has to use it to correct Donald Trump.

Stephanopoulos also asks Mook about the "psychological warfare" of talking about inviting Mark Cuban and getting the return fire of Trump saying he'll "put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him" (and Flowers accepting). Mook tries to act as though Trump started it:
If this is what Donald Trump wants this debate to be about, that’s up to him. He is a reality TV star. He’s very experienced at providing television entertainment. The presidency is not about entertainment. It's about serious decisions...
Trump followed their lead.  Trump said it best back in May:
If she wants to go the low road, I'm fine with that. And if she wants to go the high road, which probably I would prefer, I would be fine with that.... I can handle the low road if I have to do it. I mean, we've had some low roads over the last few months.... I'm fine with it if we have to go that direction. Maybe you haven't noticed.
ADDED: Ironically, the argument that Trump is "special" is really an argument that Hillary is special: The rules don't apply to her. That fits a template her people should want to take care not to confirm.

"Gaming out every potential permutation of what might happen in the 90-minute showdown helps a candidate calculate how to respond."


Then why didn't Mitt Romney know what to do when Candy Crowley propped up Barack Obama with the infamous "transcript" remark?

Just when you think you've got everything "gamed out," there's one more game, the one you didn't imagine. But even if you could know "every potential permutation" and you could figure out the ideal reaction to each one — which is obviously impossible — could you memorize all those things and in the heat of the moment call to mind the correct one each time and deploy it? Wouldn't you look weirdly robotic cranking through all the alternatives? It's hard enough to read a prepared speech off the teleprompter in a naturally human way. And there's already a meme that Hillary is a robot. More here.

The ideal response would have to take into account how the people respond on an emotional level. There's no perfect scripted zinger for that. There's no planned facial expression or hand gesture. We the People are very sensitive to what we see and hear. We feel that we feel whether a person is good and true. We are manipulable and we can be faked out, but I think we are more likely to be manipulated and faked out by Trump's I'm-being-myself approach than by Hillary's gigantic team gaming out every potential permutation of what might happen.