October 8, 2016

"I'd never withdraw. I've never withdrawn in my life. No, I'm not quitting. I have tremendous support."

"Zero chance I'll quit."

25 years ago today: Soundgarden released "Badmotorfinger."

Jaltcoh has a tribute to this monument of the grunge era. I'll embed this:

Trump wasn't bragging about male prowess. He was insulting the women.

This is what I'm thinking as I find myself responding to some on Facebook — in an unlinkable place — who wondered why Trump would brag about getting so much access to beautiful women.

I wrote:
Maybe that's not the real substance of the brag. I'm thinking it's more: These women are so pathetic. O'Dell stood up to me, but even she was lame, because she went and got her breasts inflated. The rest of them, they just fall into your hands because you're a star. It's nothing special [that they do] for him. It's for all stars. Women are low. Women are shallow. Doesn't that message make sense? The fact that he's old underscores this message: The women are going for the man's status. In that light, it's not even a brag. It's misogyny, justified (from his point of view).
ADDED: O'Dell came out with a statement this afternoon. It's so anodyne I want to delete it as unbloggable, but I'll leave it:
"Politics aside, I’m saddened that these comments still exist in our society at all," she wrote. "When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women. The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling. Everyone deserves respect no matter the setting or gender. As a woman who has worked very hard to establish her career, and as a mom, I feel I must speak out with the hope that as a society we will always strive to be better."
Everyone deserves respect? Then do we have to respect Trump? I've been in the mood to disrespect him bigly, but, okay... I'll try. Perhaps inside he's weak and lonely. Are not the women who fall into his hands objectifying him? And isn't he objectifying himself? He's a thing — "automatically attracted." An automaton is not a person. "It's like a magnet." A magnet is a thing. Where is the person? He grabs for the body part, like a baby, grabbing for mommy. And then he's outraged that the woman he reached out to has "now got the big phony tits." Mommy is not real...


Overheard at Meadhouse.

"Why don't we all just switch to Gary?"

"Because he's a stupid stoner."

"Trump grabbed an unsuspecting GOP by its pussy. GOP just let him do it."

"Except for the #NeverTrump-ers, who had too much self respect along with the fact that they had no pussies for Trump to grab.... I shouldn't say the #NeverTrumpers had NO pussies for Trump to grab. In the end he grabbed Ted Cruz's pussy. Even made it purr. Poor Ted."

Said Meade, in the comments.

"This was also a different time, when it was perhaps more accepted for powerful men to prey on young women, when women felt less able to protest."

"In fairness to Trump, other senior men in politics and business — John Kennedy and Bill Clinton come to mind — also sometimes showed a sense of entitlement toward young women."

Writes Nicholas Kristof about allegations of sexual harassment by Jill Harth against Donald Trump. The "different time" was not 1964. It was 1994. We knew about sexual harassment then. We knew it very well. We'd just had our consciousness raised. (That was before it was lowered, in 1998.)

It's a complicated story, by the way:
I asked her: Why would a woman who accused Trump of attempted rape ever go out with him?

“I was scared, thinking, ‘what am I going to do now?’” she says. “When he called me and tried to work on me again, I was thinking maybe I should give this a try, maybe if he’s still working on me, I should give this rich guy a chance.”

They dated for several months in 1998, when he was separated from Maples, she says. In the end, he was a disappointing boyfriend, always watching television and rarely offering emotional support, she says.

“It was a hard divorce, and I was in a nonstop crying jag,” she recalls. “You know what he was thinking? He wanted me to get a boob job. He made an appointment for me to get a boob job, a doctor in Miami.”
Kristof says that in the end he decided that Harth is telling the truth. Has Kristof ever opined about Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey? A search of the NYT archive turns up nothing with his name and either of those 2 women who have alleged that they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton. 

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I'm picturing Trump using the debate as his forum for revealing that he is withdrawing.

It could be very dramatic. The ultimate in showmanship.

Let us look back and say: Nothing in his campaign became him like the leaving it; he withdrew as one that had been studied in withdrawing; to throw away the dearest thing he owned, as 'twere a careless trifle.

Shakespeare reference: here.

"Grabbing an unsuspecting and unwilling person's genitals is a criminal act of sexual assault under any definition of sexual assault."

"Trump is evidently proud of the fact that he wielded his wealth and star power as a weapon to help him abuse women—to kiss and grope them without their permission. This is violence, full stop.... Trump would be a dangerous enough human being if he were just a regular celebrity with a penchant for groping women. As it so happens, he might also become the next leader of the free world—a position he is manifestly unqualified to hold.... No man whose overriding ideology is that he gets to do whatever he wants—to whomever he wants—should be president."

Writes Robby Soave at Reason.

I said the same thing when I first heard the recording yesterday. Quoting Tim Kaine's "I don't like to say the words that he's used in the past... but this is behavior," I said:
Yes, Tim Kaine is right. Trump's statement — which is itself only words — is a confession to behavior.

Criminal behavior. Sexual assault.
And I agree with Soave that the problem goes beyond sex. It reveals an attitude about how to use power: If there is no external restraint, you can do anything.

You can't trust a person with power who doesn't have an internal moral core and who is not governed by self-restraint. 

The woman Trump "moved on... very heavily" was Nancy O’Dell... and later he tried to fire her.

The heavy moving — which included furniture shopping — was talked about in 2005 in the now infamous "Access Hollywood" video.

Oh! "Access Hollywood" has newly conspicuous double meaning. Not just reporters getting access to celebrities, but celebrities getting sexual access to... well, to hear Trump tell it, to just about anyone they want... except Nancy O'Dell.

The attempt at firing —  O’Dell was set to host the Trump-owned "Miss USA Pageant" — came 2 years later in 2007. Trump failed at the fuck and failed at the firing. But he tried, and we hear of the failure, not the success. But he's a winner. He likes to win.

In fact, if you watch the whole video, you see him winning with another woman, Arianne Zucker, the one who, in Trump's words, is "hot as shit, in the purple." Zucker is the one who inspired him to say "I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

And in fact, you see the female version of that power trip: The woman plays on the man's sexual interest. Grab them by the crotch. Zucker looks entirely pleased with herself, demands to walk in the center and grabs the arms of both men. If that is what is expected and that is the norm in your workplace, how can you be the cold one who keeps her sexuality to herself?

I invite you to contemplate why this got me thinking about Erica Jong's concept of the "zipless fuck":
The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not "taking" and the woman is not "giving." No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one. 

"[T]he most competent and engaged workers are often at the greatest risk for burnout."

"Their willingness to labor for love and not money will, over time, expose them to chronic stress. That is especially true in universities, where there are few explicit limits on working hours.... [B]urnout is more acute in younger faculty members than in older ones (and in women more than men). It’s easier to do too much too soon than to build barriers between your work and psyche.... Academic culture fosters burnout when it encourages overwork, promotes a model of professors as isolated entrepreneurs, and offers little recognition for good teaching or mentoring... The response to faculty burnout should, therefore, not be to shrug and say that academic work is a labor of love, and some people just aren’t cut out for it. Instead, the response should be to find ways to give these highly skilled workers the rest, respect, and reward they need to stay healthy and effective. Institutions cause burnout, and only a whole effort of an institution can deal with it. A good start would be for colleges and universities to support and reward the things they say they value.... That would be more useful than drafting another strategic plan that will be ignored a year later."

Writes Jonathan Malesic, who left a tenured position teaching theology at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Malesic presents himself as having "burned out" after 11 years and at the age of 40. I say "presents" because he didn't leave the job purely because he burned out. He also did it to live with his wife, who'd gotten a job in what sounds like a nicer place than Wilkes-Barre. (He refers to it as "a bucolic region."*) And he's "working on a book about the spiritual costs of the American work ethic," which sounds like a better job. Writing a book is much more relaxing than writing a book and also teaching and handling administrative work — with all the demands and annoyances inherent in dealing with other people — except to the extent that you stress yourself out about how you're not operating from within the normal, respected structure of working in America. But if that's the very topic of your book — "the spiritual costs of the American work ethic" — that stress is a source of material.

I can't tell whether Malesic meditates on his manhood as he labors in the shade of his wife's career. Does he look at his name and shudder to think "male sick"? His essay gets a little personal, but perhaps not that personal or not personal in that way. In any case, I love the topic "the spiritual costs of the American work ethic." It's something I have always thought about, and I have never fallen into the problem of burnout that he's talks about, which sounds like a manic-depressive cycle, within which you get high off the intense work and then crash. I've always had strong boundaries and a deep instinct to protect myself from absorption into the mind of any workplace — including the one where I've worked for the last 33 years and from which I'm walking away very soon, with no sense of burnout, just a desire for more freedom.


* After writing this post, I found his website, and it says he lives in Dallas. "Bucolic"? [ADDED: I'm making an inference that could be incorrect, that he spent his sabbatical in the place where his wife received the job.]

October 7, 2016

"House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying he was 'sickened' by Trump's comments, announced Friday night that the GOP presidential nominee would no longer attend a Republican event in Wisconsin..."

"... at which the two were slated to appear on Saturday. Trump's campaign said vice presidential nominee Mike Pence would represent him instead. Trump campaign advisers were huddling together in Trump Tower Friday night trying to figure out how to react."

How about withdrawing?

Why, it was only this morning that commenters on this blog were pushing for me and Meade to attend the rally tomorrow in Elkhorn. David Begley said:
Trump rally one hour from Althouse and Meade on Saturday. Wisconsin is critical for Trump and the Meadehouse endorsement is influential.
I joked:
So I could tip the nation, eh, Begley? After all this, it might depend on me.
Meade boosted my joke:
In a world... where Clinton corruption grew exponentially, there was one lady blogger...
David Begley leaned in:
Yes, Ann, selection of the next Leader of the Free World depends upon you and Wisconsin.

No pressure....

Arboretum, early October.




What Donald Trump said into a hot microphone back in 2005.

"I moved on her and I failed. I'll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn't get there. And she was married... Then all of a sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony tits and everything. She's totally changed her look.... Whoa! I've gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

Trump immediately issued an apology, an apology that took a shot a Bill Clinton:
This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course - not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.
If anyone was offended. Is there any chance that no one was offended?!

Hillary Clinton immediately tweeted: "This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president." And Tim Kaine said:
"I don't like to say the words that he's used in the past when he calls women, 'pigs, dogs and slobs' ... but this is behavior that's just outrageous and so that there would be a news story that would have more statements like this of this kind, I mean, gosh, I'm sad to say that I'm not surprised. I should be surprised and shocked. I'm sad to say that I'm not."
Yes, Tim Kaine is right. Trump's statement — which is itself only words — is a confession to behavior.

Criminal behavior. Sexual assault.

"Early Wednesday morning, a man tragically died while trying to surf a Coney Island-bound F train near the Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street station in Brooklyn."

"Gothamist now reports that the deceased is Christopher Serrano, a 25-year-old photographer whose Instagram feed was filled with breathtaking views of the city from locations that most residents would never experience."

It's lonely up here.

A photo posted by NYC | HeavyMinds (@heavy_minds) on

The man was committed to his art. And very young.

"To make America the greatest is my goal/So I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole..."

From the poetry of Muhammad Ali... which I found after I'd likened Trump to Muhammad Ali. I was participating in a Facebook discussion of a Politico article titled "Trump blows off debate tune-up/In this public town-hall rehearsal, Trump shows he’s put in as little 'prep' as the first time." Trump was quoted saying:
“I said forget debate prep. I mean, give me a break... Do you really think that Hillary Clinton is debate-prepping for three or four days. Hillary Clinton is resting, okay?”
I'd already posted "Isn't this a lot like the way Muhammad Ali would talk before a fight? It's performance..." So it blew my mind when I searched for something about what Ali would say and I found that old rhyme that was so close to Trump's "Make America great again."

"The deplorables are starting to wonder if govt has been lying to them about Hurricane Matthew intensity to make exaggerated point on climate."

"Hurricane Center has monopoly on data. No way of verifying claims. Nassau ground observations DID NOT match statements! 165mph gusts? WHERE?"

Drudge tweets and Popular Science scoffs.

But isn't there something that deserves to be called "The Politics of Hurricane Coverage"? Rush Limbaugh thinks so:
Well, if it's not gonna be that bad, you wouldn't expect the hurricane center to back off of it, because what if at the last moment it strengthens and they're wrong?... Okay, they've already got everybody feverishly pitched.... Look, the long way around telling you that there is politics in everything. There's politics in the weather. There's politics in the forecasting of the weather. There's politics in hurricanes. There's politics in the forecasting of hurricanes, because there are votes.... I am the world's leading expert in dissecting liberals and liberalism, and it's everywhere.  They are everywhere. And they are corrupting everything because they are infusing their political agenda into everything....
Who is infusing politics into everything?
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"I knew that they wouldn't do anything... University of North Dakota as a black student who already suffered racism in our campus..."

"... I want to say thanks. I'm ashamed to be part of UND. Thank you to treat us as nothing."

"Only amid the most bizarre, most tawdry, most addictive election campaign in memory could the real story of 2016 be so effectively obliterated..."

"... namely, that with just four months left in the Obama presidency, its two central pillars are collapsing before our eyes: domestically, its radical reform of American health care, aka Obamacare; and abroad, its radical reorientation of American foreign policy — disengagement marked by diplomacy and multilateralism."

So begins a Charles Krauthammer column titled "Barack Obama’s stillborn legacy: At home and abroad, the President's agenda is in tatters."

"Think about that: Before the authorities knew what was on the laptops, they agreed to destroy potential evidence in their investigation."

"The evidence was also under a congressional subpoena and preservation order," said The Wall Street Journal editorial, quoted in a Commentary piece by Noah Rothman, who continues:
And what kind of cooperation did the FBI receive in exchange for this concession? Not much, it seems. Mills continued to serve as Clinton’s counsel despite having received immunity, a privilege that betrays the fact the FBI saw her as a material witness to what might have been a crime.

The immunity deals the FBI was doling out like candy effectively prevented them from carrying out a thorough investigation into the bizarre behavior of the State Department officials in Clinton’s orbit...

The Justice Department’s decision to provide FBI Director Comey with the powers of a prosecutor (instead of simply an investigator) is conspicuous. The evidence the FBI decided to dismiss is bizarre. And the sneering of Clinton defenders at anyone who dares to notice these things is confounding. It seems as though everyone—including the Republican Party’s primary voters—have done all in their power to insulate Hillary Clinton from the consequences of her mistakes. But at what cost will all this protection come? Is it all worth it?
ADDED: Nixon is rolling over in his grave.
President Nixon: I'd like for you to take all these tapes, if you wouldn't mind. In other words . . .

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: I'd like to--there's some material in there that's probably worth keeping.

Haldeman: Yeah.

President Nixon: Most of it is worth destroying. Would you like--would you do that?

Haldeman: Sure.
It would have worked! No, no, Mr. Nixon. Rest in peace. It would not have worked. You were not loved. You had to make the people want to love you first. Don't worry. We will have a new President soon, and I assure you — the American people will not love him/her. 

"Hillary Clinton is a 68-year-old woman. And plenty of people hate her for it."

A tendentious headline over at The Washington Post, but it's clickbait I clicked, and I'm strongly clickbait resistant. The column is by Petula Dvorak, who says:
The older, wise woman has rarely had a starring role in the American story.... Plenty has been said about the way American women feel invisible once they reach 60, or 50, or — gack — even 40 today...

Most women in this age bracket remember the day they realized they had become invisible — that moment when the salesman pushing a big-ticket product looked right past them.... when the clerk who was so chatty with the guy in front of them ignores them, when the intern treats them like a nonentity rather than an experienced superior....

The tiny minority of respected, older women... have persisted and struggled and fought to earn positions of power that are usually an inevitable evolution for men of their skill and experience. They get talked over in meetings, interrupted and passed over for promotions, while usually being criticized for their ambition....
I've excerpted the part of the column that makes a lot of sense to me. I'm not buying into the more specific things that charge Clinton-haters with misogyny. In fact, I think it's tremendously important that we resist merging the struggle for women's equality with the political fortune of this one individual, Hillary Clinton.

We need to be able to criticize, mock, savage, and even hate the President of the United States. If doing that to Hillary Clinton is considered misogyny, then the woman is not qualified to be President.

And, ironically, Donald Trump is superbly qualified: Has there ever been a candidate for President who is more qualified on the criterion of criticizability?

"The puzzle that is currently frustrating the pundit minds of America is this: why is Hillary Clinton not simply clobbering Donald Trump?"

"How is this ranting, seething buffoon still competitive with her? Trump has now stumbled through a series of the kind of blunders that break ordinary political campaigns – the sort of deadly hypocrisies that always kill the demagogue in old movies – and yet this particular demagogue keeps on trucking. Why? Let us answer that burning pundit question of today by jumping to what will undoubtedly be the next great object of pundit ardor: the legacy of President Barack Obama.... As a president who has accomplished little since 2011... Obama has pretty much undermined Clinton’s ability to sell us on another centrist Democratic presidency. His legacy has diluted her promise.... Thanks to Obama’s flagrant hope-dealing in the dark days of 2008 – followed up by his failure to reverse the disintegration of the middle class – this favorite Democratic cliché has finally become just that: an empty phrase."

Says Thomas Frank.

ADDED: Frank does not say that Trump himself is a source of hope, only that the Democratic Party candidate can't sell hope this time around. But having given the post my "hope" tag, I see that I've only used it twice before in the last 2 years, and both posts are about Donald Trump. How did he earn the rarely awarded "hope" tag?

Most recently, on August 8th, offering his economic plan, he said: "I want to jump-start America and it can be done and it won't even be that hard."

And here, on January 31, 2016, there's a post with an embedded 3 Stooges video (which hardly seems expressive of hope):
"Donald Trump has muscled ahead in Iowa, regaining his lead on the brink of the first votes being cast in the 2016 presidential race."

The Des Moines Register selects a very masculine verb as it reports its last poll before the caucus that will finally release us from the clutches of Iowa.
Trump stands at 28 percent, while rival Ted Cruz has slid to 23 percent. But there’s still a strong case for Cruz in this race — he’s more popular and respected than Trump, the final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll shows.

“The drill-down shows, if anything, stronger alignment with Cruz than Trump, except for the horse race,” said J. Ann Selzer, the pollster for the Iowa Poll.
And that's the wan encouragement for anti-Trumpions from J. Ann Selzer...

Oh! That was just the hope that someone other than Trump might win. That's the kind of hope Hillary can still sell... the kind that Cruz flogged last winter.

This tastes flat.

"The president of Colombia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with a leftist rebel group..."

"... the longest-running war in the Americas, just five days after Colombians rejected the agreement in a shocking referendum result...."
Colombian voters threw out the peace deal just days after the government had invited world leaders to a celebratory signing ceremony, leaving its fate — along with Mr. Santos’s legacy — in limbo.

Despite the setback, the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized Mr. Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.”
He convinced the Norwegians. He just didn't convince his own people.

"Where are your feathers? Where are your feathers? Why can't you fly?"

October 6, 2016

At the Rat Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

(All rats were drawn by me, in quick succession, using my fingertip in the new iPhone messaging software which lets you send drawings instead of typed words. I started drawing rats after Meade incorrectly identified some squiggle I'd sent as a rat.)

"I Let A Company Scan My Naked Body To Get The Perfect Suit."

"... I could see the vertical array of cameras surrounding me on six or eight sides... The walls burst to life: three camera flashes in front, three to the side, three behind my exposed buttocks. The light spun around me, detecting how my shoulders sloped, how my hips popped, how my chest caved..."
Not too long after my first visit, I went back into the Alton Lane showroom to get my suit.... The thing fit like a dream; no alterations needed. It was perfect around my neck...  The sleeves accommodated the different lengths of my arms (28.33 inches vs. 30.77). The pants fit nice and snug around my 39.37-inch butt... It was the suit I was promised. It was the suit the data had promised.
Isn't this the future? We want to order everything on line but the problem is always fit. I know one solution is to buy drape-y, stretchy things, but what if you could know for sure that everything you bought would fit perfectly (including shoes that take account of every bump on each of your differently sized feet)? It will all be made to order in the end, won't it? No waste, no returns. It's not just for bespoke suits, is it? But the one thing is, there will have to be incredibly accurate and intrusive pictures of you naked on the internet. That seems thoroughly unacceptable. And yet, the younger end of the population is already getting used to pictures of themselves out there on the internet. It's just a matter of time, isn't it? In the future, we'll all be on the internet naked, won't we? Not me, I mean, but some future generation.

What actor did JFK want to play the role of JFK in "PT 109" — the movie about JFK's WWII heroics?

Hint: It was the same actor who was also asked — by Oliver Stone and later by Ron Howard —  to play the role of Richard Nixon. He didn't play Nixon because he "was not treated compassionately" — even though "I think I was on his enemies list, but I grew to feel sad for him." He didn't play JFK because he thought the script was bad, which it was...

The actor is Warren Beatty, who considered running for President himself.
In 1976 he declined to enter the New Hampshire primary against Jimmy Carter. “There has to be someone better” is what he says to those who have urged him to run.... [D]espite being a lifelong Democrat, Beatty liked the Reagans, especially Nancy. When he screened Reds for Ronald and Nancy, he remembers, the former-movie-star president told him, “It’s beginning to look like there’s no business but show business.”
Lots more great stuff at the link, which goes to Vanity Fair.

"Stop learning, stop struggling, stop testing yourself. Do what you’re good at."

"When I really learned this it was a big growing-up moment — I finally felt commitment to what I was doing."

Said the artist, quoted in a Forbes article titled "This Artist Stopped Trying So Hard And His Career Soared."

Isn't this the old "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow" theory? There was that book. I google the phrase and get to another Forbes article: "Five Reasons to Ignore the Advice to Do What You Love." It's easy to guess the reasons. You might not love anything. Attaching money to whatever you love might undercut its loveability. (Example: sex.)

There's also a book: "Do What You Love And Other Lies About Success and Happiness." Here's an interview with the author, Miya Tokumitsu:
I think this idea that work somehow makes you a good person is something that is very American to me. There’s this idea that it has something to do with your character as a person. I feel that it’s very ingrained and I don’t completely disavow it, too. Work is held up as something that is more revelatory about your character than the interests you have or the way you care about other people or care for other people. I feel like it comes from people who are earnest in their striving and want to do good things and want to be good people, but it leads to this culture where people are just working all the time.
Ah, but if you circle back to the quote that began this post you'll see that Tokumitsu are kind of in the same place. How did that happen?

"I was really tired that night and woke up to the noise. I was very angry and assumed that children were playing music."

"I told them to lower the volume of the loudspeakers before I unplugged the amplifier, and they didn’t understand me. That’s why I unplugged it."

Said Klaas Haijtema, a 30-year-old Dutchman, to the judge in Mandalay, Myanmar. He'd been staying in a hostel and the chants blasting from the Buddhist center annoyed him.

Haijtema was sentenced to 3 months in prison — at hard labor.

Previously, in Myanmar:
A bar manager from New Zealand and two Burmese men were sentenced to two years in prison in Myanmar on Tuesday for posting an image online of the Buddha wearing headphones, an effort to promote an event.

The court in Yangon said the image denigrated Buddhism and was a violation of Myanmar’s religion act, which prohibits insulting, damaging or destroying religion. “It is clear the act of the bar offended the majority religion in the country,” said the judge, U Ye Lwin.
Why do people travel with no awareness of the problems of violating the law in a place they don't understand? Do they believe that their lack of understanding is a laudable interest in exposing themselves to the exotic?

"I got dinged a little bit even by my wife for interrupting too much. Okay."

Said Tim Kaine. Video here.

"The next morning, I woke up, and I just said this word. Something in my head just said, this is the title."

"You could visualize it on the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as 'Thriller.'"

Said Rod Temperton — who has died at the age of 68 — about the song he wrote, the song that was once "Starlight":

Something I'm reading this morning not just because of all the talk about Tim Kaine's interrupting, but because interrupting is a big subject with me.

"5 Ways to Stop Yourself From Interrupting People," a column by Rhonda Scharf.

I interrupt a lot and get criticized for doing it, but I'm also intensely critical of the way some people interrupt me, even though I facilitate most interruptions by shutting up immediately — like a lawyer in front of judge — and letting the other person speak without the burden of feeling that they have frustrated or annoyed me at all.

I like back-and-forth conversation and hate to get stuck in situations where one person is holding forth and relying on a privilege to complete long sentences and stringing them one after another, as if desperate to fend off the relationship he could have if only he'd throw it over to me for a change.

My favorite of Scharf's suggestions is:
Reward yourself. Count how many times a day you interrupt others. Set a goal in the morning along the lines of: "If I interrupt others less than 10 times today, I will stop at Starbucks on the way home from work." Continue to lower the goal daily until you can get to the point where you are not interrupting anyone.
What a dreary existence! I'm glad Scharf isn't here in person saying that or my outburst would be interrupting. My tip for avoiding interruption is: Avoid in-person interaction with boring people. Read. And blog. Blogging is kind of all about taking in the words of others until you feel motivated to interrupt.

ADDED: What got me started on the idea for this post was an idle random click back into this blog's archive, where I happened up a February 9, 2013 post in the old Gatsby project. The sentence to be discussed there was:
"Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire."
In the comments CWJ said:
I have often noticed how women can talk over each other but be completely mutually understood. Not a man thing in my experience. That a man would not just notice this but incorporate it into this sentence is simply great.

"I sort of like Trump's lack of polish (though not really his nastiness — there's a cruelty there that's troubling)..."

"... and if I thought he was trustworthy and demonstrated some capability in governing I'd be all for him. Though of course in a president, you do have to be careful with your words — not just in avoiding setting off financial panics (look at how closely investors consider Janet Yellen's statements) but in diplomatic affairs as well (see Dean Acheson's statements about our zone of interest that made Stalin and Kim think invading South Korea wouldn't provoke major U.S. involvement). A more 'earthy' speaking style, with consideration of the phrasing used, is my ideal."

Said Brando, in the comments to yesterday's post about the preference many people seem to have for Pence's style, the style of a career politician. I'd said: "A man with a style honed outside of politics will seem too rough, too unfinished, too strange." I didn't come right out and say it, but, like Brando, I sort of like Trump's style — with the same reservations.

Here's another helpful perspective from the comments, from Clyde:
I want someone who:
1. Is honest
2. Is savvy enough to deal with our adversaries in the world without beclowning him/herself (Clinton's political experience did not give her such help in dealing with the Russian Reset, Benghazi, etc.)
3. Will pursue policies that will benefit the people of our country, rather than enriching him/herself, and will give the American people more freedom rather than less.
Hillary Clinton is 0-for-3. This election is a binary choice. Donald Trump might not be good, but Hillary would certainly be very, very bad, probably even worse than Obama. It doesn't come down to whether someone is a polished politician or not. Clinton is more polished, but our adversaries would eat her lunch, just as they have with Obama. Trump? He's used to negotiating and wheeling and dealing.
But he's used to negotiating and wheeling and dealing where he can walk away from what he doesn't like without worrying about the fate the other parties and where he can fold up the parts of his operations that are not profitable.

What happens when you transfer that skill to government — suddenly and at the presidential level — and when you are bursting with exuberant confidence? It seems like an insane risk. 

October 5, 2016

Did you act like a complete jerk?

Tim Kaine's 72 interruptions.

I couldn't put up with the whole thing. Maybe you can get farther than I did:

I bailed at 0:30. I'm glad someone saw fit to count and to make a montage.

I blame the moderator to a great extent. Is Kaine getting criticized for disrespecting the moderator — the one female moderator of a debate this fall? I'm sure he's getting attacked for being uncouth in order to say that Trump is uncouth.

You'll get my respect when you figure out that seriously intended insults to a foreign leader cannot be a crime.

"In the end, German prosecutors decided that a satirical poem was just that, an act of hyperbole in the name of art — not a criminal attempt to insult a foreign leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey."

"Make sure your neighbors know you’re supporting this team all the way to the White House."

A sponsored message from Hillary Clinton appears in my Facebook feed.

I find the statement creepy. Why do my neighbors need to know? Why should I "make sure" my neighbors know what I'm expected to believe they think I'm supposed to do?

I mean, it's sort of true that if one were for Donald Trump in my neighborhood, one wouldn't feel secure putting up a sign. So the absence of a sign could raise a inference that you might want to dispel by putting up a Hillary sign... even if you were for Donald Trump.

If only there were a "Hey, everybody, I never put up a sign" sign. But it might just prod people to think that's probably because you realize we'd have to hate you if we knew what you thought.


"And if my thought-dreams could be seen/They’d probably put my head in a guillotine" — Bob Dylan.

"So Pence... used his performance skills, built up over years as a successful television host and politician."

"When Kaine challenged him, Pence smiled and shook his head wanly. Or looked off toward the audience and shrugged his shoulders. Or flatly denied that Trump has said things that he most definitely said. Or recycled an old Ronald Reagan line ('There you go again')."

Says NYT columnist David Leonhardt, urging readers to "Judge Substance, Not Style."

Pence's style is so different from Trump's because Pence, like Kaine and Clinton, is a career politician. Pence defended Trump's style:
Well, look, it’s — look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton. And so...

KAINE: Well, I would admit that’s not a polished...


PENCE: You know, things don’t always come out exactly the way he means them.

KAINE: Well, can I say...

PENCE: But I’m telling you what the policy of our administration would be....
So Pence, like Leonhardt, is saying judge substance, not style.

But if you are one of the many people who are admiring Pence's style over Trump's, realize what you are saying: You like the manner of the career politician. That is what you want. A man with a style honed outside of politics will seem too rough, too unfinished, too strange. For all the complaints about politicians — their ungenuineness, their smarminess, their embedment in dishonesty, their guile — a politician is exactly what you want. Admit it!

"The spirit of Prince is here. And he did plan it to be a museum. Everything is strategically placed, and when the fans come in they'll see that it is."

Well, I don't think so, but I'm glad they've preserved things and it's a museum for people who are able to believe the spirit is there.

"It's truly Prince," continues Norrine Nelson, Prince's sister. "He had a vision and he finished it."

And Al Roker is there with enough gas to drive home just how finished it is. Scared me off the idea of ever going there. But America needs Paisley Park, I guess, just like we need Graceland.

When Tim Kaine and Mike Pence got religious.

"Great line from the — great line from the gospel of Matthew. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks."

Tim Kaine interrupted Mike Pence to spout a Biblical quotation as Mike Pence was in the middle of responding to the invitation to "discuss in detail a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position."

Kaine's interrupting had been exasperating from the outset of last night's debate, but Pence annoyed me by resisting the question, praising his own religiosity, and then going on about his favorite religious issue, abortion.

Pence's answer had nothing about any balancing of personal faith with public policy. Kaine had something quite specific: As governor of Virginia, he did not rescue every condemned person from execution, even though his Catholic faith demands opposition to the death penalty. In fact, Pence used his turn to call attention to a second religious struggle of Kaine's:
I know Senator Kaine, you hold pro-life views personally — but the very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me. And I cannot — I can’t conscience about — about a party that supports that. Or that — I know you’ve historically opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to — wants to repeal the longstanding provision in the law where we said we wouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.
Kaine reacts, stressing that women should be "trust[ed]" to make their own decision about abortion and asserting that Donald Trump said "women should be punished, as Donald Trump said they should, for making the decision to have an abortion." (Here's my old post on exactly what Trump said and how he quickly corrected it.)  Pence defended Trump and a dialogue ensued that ended with a Biblical quote:
PENCE: Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.

KAINE: Then why did Donald Trump say that?

PENCE: We just never would.

KAINE: Why did he say that?

PENCE: Well, look, it’s — look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton. And so...

KAINE: Well, I would admit that’s not a polished...


PENCE: You know, things don’t always come out exactly the way he means them.

KAINE: Well, can I say...

PENCE: But I’m telling you what the policy of our administration would be.

KAINE: Great line from the — great line from the gospel of Matthew. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.
So Pence's idea was that Trump's wording some things badly is the downside of something we ought to like: He's not a career politician. Kaine's comeback is: When you're not wording things carefully, we get the advantage of seeing what you really think.

I think the passage in Matthew is this, spoken by Jesus:
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
It's hard to find a translation that uses "fullness" for "abundance," but "fullness" doesn't make it much easier to understand. The New English Translation is nicely comprehensible: "For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart." If you say something, it's because that's what you mean.

That's a hard proposition to apply to politicians, since so much of what they say is not what they mean. But sometimes the truth slips out. And yet the person who is saying That time you told the truth is probably a political player, accusing you of telling the truth because it serves his interest. If you credit your opponent with telling the truth only when it helps you in your quest for worldly power, will you "on the day of judgment... be justified... [or] condemned"?

If you really believe your religion, how can you dare to participate in politics? The risk is too great.

7-year-old girl tells bus driver she dressed herself and left for school on her own because she couldn't wake up her parents.

The parents — Christopher Dilly, 26, and Jessica Lally, 25 — had been dead in the house house for at least a day with the girl and her 3 younger siblings, the youngest only 9 months.
[Lally's Facebook] profile... said she was the “mom of 4 beautiful children” and “engaged to my love Chris.” The last post, from Aug. 30, showed smiling portraits of each of the children.
Cause of death: heroin.

October 4, 2016

It's the big Vice Presidential debate!

Watch with me. Comment away. I'll join in if and when I've got something to say. Meanwhile, my son John Althouse Cohen will be live-blogging as he tends to do, which is very well, beyond what I'm likely to do. I'll probably take notes and then expand on things when I've got a transcript to quote.

UPDATE, 8:11: Kaine is plugging in memorized material, not listening to the question.

8:13: First interruptions comes from Kaine. And it's very disruptive.

8:16: Quijano interrupts Pence to say "We need to move on" then lets Kaine speak at length. Pence tries to speak again and Quijano immediately says "We need to move on" again! The moderator seems completely biased.

8:38: I can't believe the way Kaine is allowed to break in, to make a long speech with a series of attacks on Trump, and then Pence gets zero opportunity to respond, but Quijano insists on moving on to the next question. Kaine is interrupting so much, it's making me feel terrible. It feels so unfair.


Who won?
pollcode.com free polls

"All things considered, I had a great week. I didn’t realize I was having enough impact to get on the Clinton enemies list."

"I don’t think I’m supposed to be happy about any of this, but that’s not how I’m wired."

Scott Adams, one of the differently wired.

"Now, it seems to me we're up against a very different kind of a man. This man scares me."

IN THE COMMENTS: Clark points to the Hillary Clinton ad from July that is adapted from the LBJ ad:

"I still can’t come up with one. Well, that I admire? That I’m going to have to defend a foreign leader?"

Gary Johnson resists the pick-a-hero bullshit. Good! I'm glad to see he's finally getting cheeky about it. Go, Gary!

The Vice-Presidential debate is tonight — What question about Trump will be wielded to trip up Pence?

The moderator is Elaine Quijano. I don't know much about her — other than that she's Filipino-American and a Democrat and her mother was an immigrant. I'm not basing my idea of a question on anything about Quijano, who will be chosing the questions herself. I'm just speculating about what I think will have to be a question for Pence.

I won't try to word this in the style of a debate moderator. I'm going to put this much more bluntly and you can just imagine a neutral-sounding version with appropriate foundational clauses. I'm just conveying the core idea.

Governor Pence, you are a respectable, honorable man. How could you squander your hard-won reputation to prop up the monster that is Donald Trump?

There should be a corresponding question for Tim Kaine. Like Pence, he's got a more honorable reputation than his running mate and he's on the ticket to lend respectability to a person who could be called a monster... who has been called a monster.

2 monsters. It's like an old horror movie...

We get what we want in a democracy. And it seems we wanted a horrorshow. Too late to find another show. Yes, there's nice little Timmy and Mikey, with their little show tonight. But all that matters is what they will have to say for themselves as they prop up a monster. What are you doing with that monster?

"Even if I agree with you, I obviously couldn’t say anything."

Said the dean at the University’s Gender-Based Misconduct Office to the student who had been forced to see her after another student had complained about his calling himself "handsome." (The context was practicing speaking in Chinese in a Chinese class at Columbia University.)

He was sent on to a case manager in the Gender-Based Misconduct Office, who went back and forth with him and finally said: "Even if I were to agree with you, you know I can’t say anything."

Megan McArdle produces exactly the article I was looking for.

Thanks for writing "Trump's 1995 Return Shows Good Tax Policy at Work"!
At issue is the “net operating loss”.... When you net out your expenses against the money you took in, it turns out that you lost a bunch of money. However, in tax law, this has a special meaning, because these NOLs can be offset against money earned in other years....

Take a simple example... A meatpacking business loses a million dollars in one year, and then the next year it makes a million and a half. Without the ability to carry forward the losses from year one, then over the two years, it would pay perhaps $600,000 worth of state and federal income taxes, on $500,000 worth of actual money that it could spend to pay those taxes....

“If someone has a $20 million gain in one year and a $10 million loss in the second year, that person should be treated the same as someone who had $5 million in each of the two years,” says Alan Viard, a tax specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, who like all the other experts, seemed somewhat surprised that this was not obvious....
Unfortunately, Trump opponents — notably the New York Times (which presented the tax story as if it's a bombshell) — have been able to play on the emotions of people who don't have the sense or the patience to absorb the basics of tax policy. 


"A Tuesday morning WikiLeaks event in Berlin did not produce an '#OctoberSurprise' to derail the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign that many had expected...."
“I’ve seen the internet and I understand there is enormous expectation in the United States,” said Assange, the site's editor, via video conference at the event, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of WikiLeaks held at 10 a.m. Berlin time.

“Some of that expectation will be addressed [when I announce upcoming projects]. But you should understand that if we’re going to make a major publication in relation to the United States at a particular hour, we don’t do it at 3 a.m.”

"In the old days we had these communal fireplaces. And then we had cathedrals, and so the arena is kind of the communal fireplace of the 21st century. It’s the new cathedral."

Oh, I think in the old days, we had arenas...

The quote is from Vivek Ranadivé, the majority owner of the Sacramento Kings, who have a enormous new arena with a newly unveiled Jeff Koons sculpture. The sculpture is 18 feet tall and looks not like a king, but sort of like a teddy bear. It's brightly and messily (but very expensively) colored and is called "Coloring Book." The Kings only paid $8 million for the large object, even though Ranadivé proclaims Koons "the 21st-century Michelangelo."

Here's how the NYT article follows though with  Ranadivé's cathedral theme:
Mr. Koons offered a slightly homier take on civic religion. He recalled visiting the top of City Hall in Philadelphia as a child, and being inspired both by the sweeping view and Alexander Milne Calder’s 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn.

“It made me feel tied to history, tied to my community,” he said. “I think it changed my life. Now, ‘Coloring Book’ is not that William Penn sculpture,” he said, “but if in some way you can touch the life of somebody, and add just a little bit of curiosity, a little bit of wonder — you can’t ask for more.”
Koons also concedes: “I’ve never followed sports.”

After reading the whole NYT article and writing everything you see above, I had to Google "what animal is koons' 'coloring book' supposed to be." I found this in the Sacramento Bee:
“Coloring Book,” Jeff Koons’ artwork chosen for outside the new downtown arena, is based on Piglet, a cute animal appropriated from A. A. Milne via Walt Disney. And he’s covered with bright colors as if a child had colored outside the lines in a coloring book. How sweet. Or is it an ironic put-on?
Not according to Koons, who once said, “A viewer might at first see irony in my work ... but I see none at all. Irony causes too much critical contemplation.”
Ha ha. But of course the remark is ironic... right? And therefore the sculpture is ironic... or... whatever. It doesn't really matter. It's art looking like the art of a child, which is the sort of thing that's been around for a long time. I associate it with Jean Dubuffet, who made my #1 favorite piece of public art, "Group of 4 Trees" at the Chase Manhattan Building in NYC.

It's funny that the New York Times didn't mention that the sculpture represented a character created by A.A. Milne when it referred to Alexander Milne Calder. Alexander Milne Calder should not be confused with his grandson, the 20th century sculptor Alexander Calder, who, unlike Alexander Milne Calder, was another one of those sculptors who indulge in playful childishness.

What's with all the sculptors wanting to be like little children? Is it not discordant with the rich man's burbling that his arena is like a cathedral and his artist is like Michelangelo? Michelangelo and cathedrals are quite the opposite of anything childlike.

But Jesus said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

CNN drains the political talent from Buzzfeed.

What will happen now to the once-vibrant, genre-crushing force that is Buzzfeed? Will CNN successfully jazz up its brand or is it just extracting the political vigor from Buzzfeed?

The NYT reports:
Andrew Kaczynski, the BuzzFeed reporter whose scoop about Donald J. Trump’s early support for the invasion of Iraq surfaced in the presidential debate last week, is leaving to join CNN, just a month before the election.

The two other members of BuzzFeed’s political research team, Nathan McDermott and Christopher Massie, and Kyle Blaine, the deputy politics editor, are also going to CNN, leaving BuzzFeed short-handed for the final stretch of the campaign.
Short-handed! (Funny to see that word again after delving into its significance yesterday, the first day of the new Supreme Court term, with the Court said to be "short-handed," something I problematized here and here.)

Back to the NYT:
The departures, which come only weeks after BuzzFeed said it was formally dividing its news and entertainment divisions, are also likely to resurface questions about the company’s plans for its news operation.... The moves... leave a void at BuzzFeed, which has built its news reputation on its political coverage and is gearing up for what will probably be a frenetic last month of the campaign....
The departures could also feed the apparent feud between Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, who recently said he did not think BuzzFeed was a “legitimate” news organization, and [BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith], who said that CNN had given too much airtime to Donald Trump in the interest of ratings....

On Monday, Mr. Smith said in an email: “I guess this means that CNN has seen the value in doing the kind of tough reporting on Donald Trump that BuzzFeed News has been doing all presidential cycle, and we wish Andrew good luck.”

“The paintings have been found! That I would be able to ever pronounce these words is something I had no longer dared to hope for."

Said the Director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The 2 paintings — “Seascape at Scheveningen” and “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen” were stolen from the museum in 2002 and found through an investigation of the Amato Pagano clan of the Camorra Mafia family.

October 3, 2016

If fat-shaming is wrong...

... what about basement-living-shaming and barista-shaming?

"From its inception, this proceeding was a politically motivated attack and a criminal investigation in search of a theory."

"We call upon the prosecutors to admit their wrongdoing and close their files. They should end their desperate rear-guard action, surrender these unlawfully seized materials, and submit to the lawful authority of the court system."

Says Wisconsin Club for Growth president Eric O’Keefe this morning, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear take the infamous John Doe case.

They're reviving "The Gong Show."

ABC is "We are thrilled to add The Gong Show to ABC’s schedule spearheaded by the incomparable Will Arnett."

I've got to say I loved "The Gong Show" — back in 1976-1977. And I was able to watch it, even though it was a daytime show and we didn't have a Betamax back then. Almost no one did. I saw one in a rich person's apartment once around that time. It was gestured at as some kind of marvel. The thing was the size of a sofa cushion. We didn't even have a color TV. Why should we, when we were home futzing with artwork in the middle of the day and taking time out to watch "The Gong Show"?

Here's a NYT book review from 1976 by Christopher Lehman-Haupt that begins:
It's too bad Nick Lyons's “The Sony Vision” ultimately reads like a piece of company‐sponsored prornotipn [sic], because it isn't, and, what's more, there is so much about his subject that is intrinsically appealing. To begin with, there's the Sony product itself, which I myself happen to love in all its forms, from pocket transistor radio to Trinitron color television, for its design, its workmanship, its intricacy, and the sense it gives me that I am at the controls of my little corner of technology. (Amazing, when you consider how short a time ago the label “Made in Japan” was synonymous with junk.) If Sony's future success depends in part on the company's persuading people that they need its new Betamax video tape recorder, the machine with which you can record television shows and play them back at your leisure,. then I'm optimistic for Sony. I know I badly need a Sony Betamax, though I can't imagine just why....
That was 1976 — the year Apple was founded. We had no idea what design, workmanship, intricacy, and sense of being in control awaited us. Sony was wonderful. A Trinitron with a Betamax was the best you could imagine. And it seemed hip to watch "The Gong Show" on a weekday morning. Now, we've got iPads and iPhones and the controls to look in on everything in the world, any time, and, somehow, "The Gong Show" comes back.

(You've got to picture that in black and white.)

Where were the reality-show cameras?

"Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint Sunday night inside a luxury Paris apartment by two masked men dressed as police officers, according to a spokeswoman...."
[She] was “badly shaken but physically unharmed,” the spokeswoman told The Associated Press, offering no further details.... The attack was described as a violent robbery, though officials have not provided a detailed account of what happened... The news agency... cited police sources who said she had been left tied up in a bathroom.

Agence France-Presse quoted an unnamed police source as saying that a ring worth around 4 million euros, or about $4.5 million, had been stolen, along with a case of jewelry worth around €5 million and two mobile phones....
How can something like this happen? Wouldn't someone with $10 million worth of jewelry in her possession have armed guards?

"Can't we just drone this guy"

Said Hillary Clinton about Julian Assange, according to Wikileaks.

Is it "a treacherous strategy" for Trump to attack Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton's sexual misdeeds?

From the NYT piece "How Hillary Clinton Grappled With Bill Clinton’s Infidelity, and His Accusers":
Last week, Donald J. Trump... criticized Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Clinton’s affairs and her response to them and said he might talk more about the issue..."in the final weeks before the election. That could be a treacherous strategy for Mr. Trump, given his own past infidelity and questionable treatment of women. Many voters, particularly women, might see Mrs. Clinton being blamed for her husband’s conduct. It could also remind voters of a searing period in American history, and in Mrs. Clinton’s life....
The NYT, warning Trump that this "could be a treacherous strategy"? That means it's a good strategy, right? The NYT isn't trying to help Trump... although I'm reading the comments over there and they are lambasting the Times for helping Trump.

It seems to me that Hillary Clinton and her supporters have already attacked Trump as much as they can over Trump's "questionable treatment of women." Why shouldn't he throw back what he's got on the Clintons' treatment of women? Trump antagonists will mock him for taking the bait and keeping the focus off things that damage Clinton more, like the email controversy and the Clinton Foundation.

But there's no getting away from gender politics. So the key is to choose your best approach to gender politics. For Trump, it's not attacking Bill for cheating. Bill should be attacked for betraying liberal values relating to sexual harassment in the workplace and sexual violence against women. And Hillary should be attacked not for staying with a man even though he cheated, but for staying with him despite his victimization of women and for participating in that victimization.

But what are the facts? How much did she participate? The NYT says Hillary's involvement in the effort to discredit Bill's accusers in 1992 is "still the subject of debate": "By some accounts, she gave the green light and was a motivating force; by others, her support was no more than tacit assent." Her spokesman says: "Those who took the lead in responding to those attacks at the time have plainly stated that Hillary Clinton did not direct their work."

Does Trump need facts? He seems to get by — if he's getting by — with raising questions, saying what some people say, and observing that we just don't know. He's so careless, reeling out speculative ideas that he can get into trouble. His opponents will pick out the most far-fetched things — "Just wild accusations Hillary Clinton’s cheating on Bill?" That fits the template that's most harmful to Trump: He's a reckless hazard untethered to reality.

Meade texts from the front yard.


"Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers."

"The person who came up with the expression 'the weaker sex' was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye -- or perhaps another body part."

Wrote Donald Trump in "The Art of the Comeback" (1997). Quoted in "Donald Trump's trouble with women -- an incomplete list" (at CNN). I got there via "Donald Trump doubles down on fat-shaming. It’s unpresidential and medically harmful," by Dr. Jen Gunter, who writes: "He showed he is a man who truly believes the value of a women lies in some superficial attribute that he alone is fit to judge."

I got to Gunter via the journalist Jonathan Cohn, who links to it at Facebook, where he comments "Trump has a long history of fat-shaming, way beyond what he said about Alicia Machado." And you can see that my son John comments there: "Too bad the one link to the 'science' this post is based on doesn't work."

John is right about that. Gunter puts a link on "Science tells us that being labeled 'too fat' can cast the curse of a body image disorder upon girls and young women." It's a dead link, going to an "Oops!" page within Gunter's own site.

Isn't it funny that Gunter has "science" speaking to us in terms of "casting" a "curse." Sounds more like witchcraft!

"Every branch of the government could stand an 11% shrinking."

Said MadisonMan, commenting on my post expressing skepticism about the notion that the Supreme Court is "short-handed" when it has only 8 Justices instead of 9.

If the problem is that an odd number is so much better than an even number, why not 7?

I like this comment too, from Humperdink:
"Shorthanded" is a classic hockey term. One team is down a player, which results in the opposing team having a man (or woman) advantage, appropriately named a "power play". When the shorthanded time frame ends, both teams are at "even strength".

With the Supreme Court, I would prefer the even strength situation, as opposed to a power play. Maybe we would get less highly partisan rulings. Let the lower courts have their fun.
Once you visualize the Supreme Court as 2 teams playing against each other competitively, then it's the odd number that is the problem. The liberals have been playing short-handed for — what? — a quarter century? I'm counting from the year Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall.

By the way:
The new Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture treats conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas like a mere footnote while heralding the woman who accused him of sexual harassment, Anita Hill....
Ah, yes. 1991, the year America got its consciousness raised on the subject of sexual harassment awareness. 7 years later, we got our consciousness lowered.

ADDED: The special ice hockey meaning of "short-handed" goes back only to 1939, according to the unlinkable Oxford English Dictionary. The oldest meaning of the word is "Niggardly, mean; inefficient, ineffective," as in "My Hostesse was not short, either handed, or witted" (1622). Second-oldest is how I think of the word: "Lacking a full complement of ‘hands’, undermanned, understaffed."

And I want to say that I think it would be terrible for the Court to have a locked-in 5-Justice liberal or conservative majority. What we have had for the last 2 or 3 decades has been 2 minority factions with 1 or 2 swing voters. Now, these swing voters — O'Connor and Kennedy — could be characterized as conservative. They were, of course, appointed by a conservative President, Ronald Reagan. But conservative Presidents don't necessarily produce conservative Justices. Justice Souter showed that very well.

It has been tiresome dealing with 5-4 decisions determined by a swing voter, what with the absurd attention to how Justice Kennedy thinks about things. Much as I would like to move beyond this era of Supreme Court decision-making, I don't like the idea of a predictable 5-person majority on either the conservative or the liberal side.

I would not mind staying with an 8-person Court, where majorities require the 2 sides to find ways to come together and produce some legal thinking that would feel more like law and less like politics.

"Neville Marriner... figured prominently in debates over how music from the early modern period... should be played in the present day."

"He advocated smaller, more agile groups for early music, and he remained committed to playing that repertoire with modern instruments, even as an insurgent movement urged a return to instruments and styles that had been in use in the 17th and 18th centuries. Mr. Marriner dismissed the insurgents as 'the open-toed-sandals and brown-bread set,' but their rebellion soon achieved a measure of success and eventually became its own kind of establishment."

From the NYT obituary, quoted by my son John, who has collected a number of articles and videos at Facebook.

Is the Supreme Court "short-handed" when it has 8 Justices and not 9?

"Short-handed" seems to be the Word of the Day as the Supreme Court begins its new term.

The Washington Post has "Supreme Court to begin new term short-handed as its ideological balance hinges on fall vote."

NPR begins its discussion of the new Supreme Court term with "It's been nearly eight months since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, leaving the nation's highest court short-handed...."

The McClatchy headline is "What’s a shorthanded Supreme Court likely to do in its new term? Maybe nothing." (Nothing is better than all those things that are worse than nothing.) UPI: "Supreme Court begins term Monday shorthanded, future hinging on presidential election."

"Short-handed" implies that there is an amount of work to be distributed to members of a team, and that each person will have more work to do if there are fewer members of the team. But does the Supreme Court work like that? Each case is decided by a vote of the group. An odd number of Justices is more likely to produce a clear precedent. It's not certain, because the odd number can become even if someone recuses himself or herself. And the majorities often get together to decide the case on some minimalist, technical, or fuzzily stated ground. But the Supreme Court gets its work done whether the team consists of 9 or 8 or 7 or 6. The original number of Supreme Court Justices was 6 — an even number. And when Franklin Roosevelt offered to raise the number as high as 15, the extra help with the work was seen as an attack on the Court.

Yes, an individual Justice has the task of drafting the opinion (with the help of 4 law clerks), but the opinions have gotten longer and longer over the years, to the point where few people can tolerate reading much of the text. There's no sign that more hands are needed in the work of the Court.

There's just an open slot, and it has become a central issue in the presidential campaign. Those who want the balance on the Court to tip liberal would have liked for President Obama to have had the appointment, but the constitutional check that is Senate confirmation presented an obstacle, and the people couldn't be roused to put enough pressure on the Senate to move Obama's nomination forward. It will have to be the election that will determine which way the Court will tip. That is indeed harrowing, but not because the Court must slog on "short-handed."

The NYT avoided the buzzword of the day. It chose a more dramatic word — "crippled":  "A Crippled Supreme Court’s New Term." The text supports that drama. The editorial begins:
This is American politics in 2016: the normalization of the deeply abnormal, the collapse of customs of behavior and respect, and the creation of an environment so toxic and polarized that the nation’s leaders struggle to carry out the most basic tasks of government.
We're told that the failure to let Obama replace Scalia is "entirely contrary to the workings of a constitutional government, and it is inflicting damage on the court and the country." But what damage? 
Meanwhile, the eight justices have split evenly in several major cases, which puts off any final judgment on lawsuits that affect millions of Americans. 
The cases are still decided and the lawsuits come to an end. A split merely leaves the result in the court below where it was. By "final judgment" — which normally refers to the conclusion of the dispute between the parties to one lawsuit — the NYT seems to mean that we don't get a usable statement of the law to be applied in other cases.
The inability to issue precedent-setting rulings appears to have led the justices to grant review on fewer new cases than usual....
If the problem is a dearth of precedent-setting rulings, that explains why people have accepted waiting for the results of the election. Let us decide which way we want those precedents to go. Plenty of people would rather let President Obama nail it down: Go liberal! But the "workings of a constitutional government" — the Senate's confirmation power — have blocked that easy path to a liberal majority.

Despite the dramatic posturing of the New York Times, the nation has absorbed the question of which way the Court should go into our presidential election. There's nothing "deeply abnormal" or even shallowly abnormal about that. The people will decide.

October 2, 2016

The prospect of a woman at the town hall debate asking Donald Trump: "Do you think I'm fat?"

On "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" today, the panel got to talking about the next presidential debate, which will be in a "town hall" format:
JOHN HEILEMANN (of Bloomberg): It is a harder debate than the first debate in some respects, because you've got real voters asking questions...

ROLAND MARTIN (of TV One): What happens if a size 12 or 14 woman stands up and...


MARTIN: No, no, no. I'm serious... What if a size 12 or 14 woman who's the average size in America stands and says, Donald Trump, I have two daughters and look at me. Do you think I'm beautiful? Do you think I'm fat?


MARTIN: -- question comes, Donald Trump is going to stand there with a deer in the headlights look and....


MARTIN: -- but, no, no, but in this format, you have to answer that question. You have to answer to all that you've said in the past. That's going to be a problem for him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you can't dis -- you can't dis the questioners on this one.
I thought this was pretty obtuse — except as Sunday morning entertainment. It's easy to talk about getting fat and the sensitivities attached to that totally down-to-earth mundane worry. It has nothing to do with the presidency, but it's easy to understand. Martin himself is fat. Trump is fat. Most Americans are fat. But do Martin and Stephanopoulos seriously believe that Donald Trump — with all his experience with women — wouldn't know how to talk to a woman who asked him "Do you think I'm fat?"? Frankly, I think it would offer him an easy opportunity to show the warmth and social skill that we have every reason to know that he has in his private dealings with individuals.

Okay, America, Gary Johnson has a pop quiz.

Michael Moore and Glenn Beck try, each in his way, to explain America's alienation from from the elite.

"Meet the Press" had a very interesting segment today with Chuck Todd talking to Michael Moore and then to Glenn Beck about the rebellion against the elite going on in America. The left-wing Moore and the right-wing Beck were saying very similar things about the way people are feeling now.

Moore said people are seeing Trump as "maybe their messenger": "Even though they don't necessarily like him or agree with him so much, I think that... they love the idea of blowing up the system.... [F]or some strange reason, see Donald Trump as their, as their means to get back at, at, at this system."

Beck — who said Moore had correctly "diagnosed the problem in the country" — drifted into a more spiritual realm:
Everybody feels like there's a play going on, and we're just watching it and looking at each other and shaking our heads in disbelief. And nobody's listening to the hardworking American who doesn't feel like they belong to anything anymore. In fact, it's almost as if we're being, we're standing outside and we're not being invited to this party at all....
I couldn't decide if Beck sounded more like a bland minister or a stoned college roommate. He turned to history, which, he said, he's been "looking through":
And the only thing I can come back to is Gandhi and Martin Luther King. What we're going through right now is more of a Malcolm X attitude, where we don't understand reconciliation, we just want to win. We have to stop winning.
We have to stop winning. Donald Trump, of course, is always saying "We don't win anymore." Beck, oddly, is saying it's wrong to want to win. We ought to stop winning! What this has to do with the American people turning against the elite, I don't really know.
And we have to start reconciling with each other. And, and realize, we're not going to lose our houses or our jobs or our country. We're losing something much more important. 
Now, I'm hearing echoes of the words of Jesus: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Beck continues up to and beyond the edge of coherence:
We're losing ourselves. We're losing our civility. We're losing our decency. We're, we're losing our neighbors and our family. How high of a price are we willing to pay before we say the idea that Martin-- that, that Malcolm X had, which was, "Get 'em" is not the path that we should go on? We have to start reconciling with each other. And unfortunately, right now, there's no leader to do that nationally. It's going to require each of us, in our own communities to stand and, and, and be shamed, and be, and be pilloried for it but actually stand and do it.
Be shamed? What is Beck asking people to do?

Women signaling to women with womanly things — like that shoulder shimmy.

A new Trump campaign ad, featuring Ivanka Trump:

Did Ivanka do that Hillary shoulder shimmy (in a very subtle form):

Here's the Hillary shimmy for comparison:

Is this how women signal to women now?

ADDED: I am so annoyed that the Trump ad I embedded plays with another ad in front of it. Someone other than the Trump campaign uploaded the ad and is trying to make money through the ad. I don't want that clutter in my post, so I'd like to replace the ad with an ad that doesn't contain another, extraneous ad. But when I go to the Trump campaign YouTube channel, I do not see that ad. Why does the campaign make it hard to propagate the ad? With all the talk of Trump's social media savvy, you'd think something like this would be taken care of.

AND: I found another one that works, so it's okay now. You can now see the ad without the other ad.

ALSO: I'm not embedding ads like this out of a desire to help the candidate. I'm not a Trump supporter. I'm a cruelly neutral observer of campaign rhetoric and tactics.

PLUS: You should see my comic impersonation of Ivanka Trump. I mean, you won't see it. Only Meade gets to see it. But you can probably do your own. Impersonators usually — so I've heard — have a word or phrase that gets them started. For Ivanka, I recommend "My father...." Try saying it as if you were beginning The Lord's Prayer.