November 5, 2016

Ginkgo glory.



In our neighborhood today, the ginkgos won the award for best tree.

Long shadow on the Lake Wingra boardwalk.


Today. I can't even understand my shadow in that picture. I was wearing a short skirt.

"Donald Trump cancels Wisconsin rally just as Paul Ryan says he would campaign with him."

Ooh. Ouch.

"The best way to keep leaves out of the streets and our lakes is to mulch or compost them in your yard."

"Yet most residents want their leaves picked up from the curb. That’s fine — so long as the leaves are piled a few feet from the street so they stay put during a storm."

Leaves in the street are a huge pollution problem here, because of runoff into the lakes. But the trucks that pick up leaves are also polluting (and cost us taxpayers money). I don't see why everyone doesn't keep their leaves and compost them.

"Comparing Trump to The Terminator, Chappelle said, 'That would have devastated anybody else.' "

"Chappelle added that Trump’s handling of the debate immediately following the [Access Hollywood tape] controversy had won him over."
Referring to Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz’s hostile questioning, he said, “Something about this was backward. A gay white man and a white woman asking a multi-billionaire how he knows the system is rigged and insisting it’s not. Does that sound right to you? It didn’t seem right to me. And here’s how you know Trump is the most gangsta candidate ever. They asked him how he knows the system is rigged and he said, ‘Because I take advantage of it.’ He may as well have flashed his membership card for the Illuminati right then.”

About that Oregon law professor who wore blackface as part of a Halloween costume and provoked demands that she resign.

It turns out it was a female lawprof and she was dressed as the male author of a book she likes, "Black Man in a White Coat." She says she "intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions," and: "It provoked a discussion of racism, but not as I intended."
I intended to create a conversation about inequity, racism and our white blindness to them. Regrettably, I became an example of it. This has been a remarkable learning experience for me. I hope that all who are hurt or angered by my costume will accept my apology. I meant no harm to them or others.
The professor — who is 68 years old and has taught at the University of Oregon since 1982 — was put on leave while she is being investigated. There's a petition demanding that she resign. (I guess that would mean retire.) And there's a petition on the other side (premised on academic freedom, not the idea that it's okay for a professor to wear blackface or okay as long as she had positive racial values).

I find it hard to believe that people are willing to be so vengeful over a single instance of bad judgment. Whatever happened to mercy and forgiveness? And what about our shared interest in living in a culture where people aren't fearful that their lives could be ruined if they said one thing wrong — even when they were trying to say something quite bland (like why can't we all get along)?

By the way, the professor, Nancy Shurtz, was not just a white person dressing up as a black person, she was also a woman dressing as a man, and a law professor dressing as a doctor. Why is the one crossover an outrage when the other 2 are not? How about some actual intellectual exploration of the subject of inhabiting alternate identities?

There must be some significance to the adult involvement in Halloween in present-day American culture. I don't think I've dressed up as a character for Halloween or any other occasion since I was a child, but I see my fellow adult Americans going in big for Halloween year after year. Why are we doing that?

"Lying's the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off..."

That's Natalie Portman in a 2004 movie (directed by Mike Nichols) called "Closer." The Portman character is responding to the prompt "Tell me something true." The entire response is: "Lying's the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off — but it's better if you do." But it's better if you leave off the last phrase. It's already implied and therefore verbose, but the entire movie was probably unnecessary.

I'm seeing that as a consequence of looking up the word "Closer" after reading this NYT headline, "The Closer: Michelle Obama." Obviously, the NYT means to flatter if not fawn over Michelle Obama, but calling her "The Closer" had a negative edge that I wanted to try to figure out. From the article:
Mr. Obama’s political advisers have long regarded his wife as a potent weapon. Their nickname for her in his 2008 campaign was “the closer.” Back then, with Mr. Obama engaged in a bitter Democratic primary against Mrs. Clinton, his aides noticed that Mrs. Obama’s so-called conversion rate — the ratio of voters who registered or signed up to volunteer or otherwise help the campaign after she made an appeal — was exceptionally high.
So she was the closer against Clinton, and maybe now she can be the closer for Clinton.

I wanted to get a feeling for "the closer" as slang, so I went to Urban Dictionary. A favorite definition is someone who can advance a relationship to sexual intercourse, but it's also recognized as a sales term: "someone that can close the sale. Sell anything to anybody at anytime."

See? That's not flattering to Hillary Clinton. Send in "the closer" because we've got a bad product and we need to sell it.

But one of the definitions is "An amazing movie" — the movie in the clip, above. And that line about lying — it's how girls have fun — seemed so apt for those of us immersed in the presidential campaign. We must be having so much fun.

The top Urban Dictionary definition for "closer" isn't apt at all. It's not even using "closer" as a noun. It's the adjective "closer" in the title of the Nine Inch Nails song. Great song, great video. If there's any possible association to Hillary Clinton, I don't want to know about it.

So let's just back away and watch Alec Baldwin deliver his "always be closing" speech:

You sons of bitches! Get mad!! You know what it takes to sell real estate? It takes brass balls to sell real estate.

Jay Z, performing at a concert for Hillary, said the words that everyone knows are in his songs.

Business Insider writes it out enough so you can see what people heard and what Hillary had to know would be heard:
The rapper repeatedly used the n-word and dropped the f-bomb as he performed “F—WithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and his hit “Dirt off Your Shoulder” song at a Cleveland rally.

"You're tuned into the motherf----- greatest," a voice said as Jay Z appeared onstage.

“If you feelin’ like a pimp n----, go and brush your shoulders off,” Jay Z rapped. “Ladies is pimps too, go and brush your shoulders off. N----- is crazy baby, don’t forget that boy told you. Get that dirt off your shoulders."

Jay Z also performed the song "Jigga My N----," in which he boasted that he was "Jay-Z, motherf-------!"
I'd say this is why artists should maintain their separation from politics, but Jay Z chooses to be involved and Hillary's campaign chooses to use him as a tool to access a segment of the population that seems to be hard for her to reach.

At the link, there's video of Jay Z's performance, with the words uncensored. I'd like to see that video spliced into this much-played Hillary Clinton ad:

Use the same children, the same innocent, sweet faces, watching Jay Z and ending with Hillary's solemn intonation: "Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time -- at the choices we are about to make, the goals we will strive for, the principles we will live by -- and we need to make sure that they can be proud of us."

IN THE COMMENTS: AReasonableMan said "Artists get a lot of leeway in how they express themselves that is not open to most other professions." And I say:
Yes, but the criticism is of Clinton. Should she be attaching these words to herself? I think an edgy artist ought to stay separate, but I don't know that Jay Z cares about being a rebellious social critic. The words he uses have been the norm in his genre for decades, so his using them says nothing. I'd have to read more about him to know if he's talking about anything that I'd have to disapprove of.
So that made me go over to Rap Genius and read the lyrics to "Dirt off Your Shoulder." An annotator explains: "Brushing dirt off your shoulder is just a 'pimp' gesture, it shows that yeah, you got knocked down, but you don’t care." So, I get it. It's the same message as the corny old song "Pick Yourself Up" — "Nothing's impossible, I have found/For when my chin is on the ground/I pick myself up/Dust myself off/And start all over again." Same idea. Here, listen to Nat King Cole. You want to say, no, it's not the same as "Pick Yourself Up" because Jay Z is talking about being a drug dealer? Well, then check this out:

UPDATE: Trump talked about it today:
"[Jay-Z] used every word in the book last night... He used language last night that was so bad and then Hillary said, 'I did not like Donald Trump's lewd language.' My lewd language. I tell you what, I've never said what he said in my life. But that shows you the phoniness of politics and the phoniness of the whole system."

"So his reasoning is that there's no evidence of the destruction of evidence, and surely nothing unethical happened because lawyers were involved?"

"Is this a joke? Donald Trump is also well-lawyered — should we hold back from ever accusing him of illegality in his business affairs or lawsuits because surely his lawyers would have prevented it?"

Writes my son John Althouse Cohen, responding to Matthew Yglesias's "The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit story has dominated the campaign."

Yglesias wrote a sentence that makes me laugh, cry, and cringe all at once: "Generally speaking, in life we assume it would be moderately difficult to hire a well-known law firm to destroy evidence for you without someone deciding to do the right thing and squeal."

Would Cass Sunstein support law school admissions based solely on LSAT scores?

That's a question that occurred to me as I was reading his column "Job Interviews Are Useless":
Employers, like most people, tend to trust their intuitions. But when employers decide whom to hire, they trust those intuitions far more than they should....

A lot of evidence suggests that... employers will stubbornly trust their intuitions -- and are badly mistaken to do so. Specific aptitude tests turn out to be highly predictive of performance in sales, and general intelligence tests are almost as good. Interviews are far less useful at telling you who will succeed.

What’s true for sales positions is also true more generally. Unstructured interviews have been found to have surprisingly little value in a variety of areas. For medical school interviews, for example, they appear to have no predictive power at all: in terms of academic or clinical performance, those accepted on the basis of interviews do no better than those who are rejected. In law schools, my own experience is that faculties emphasize how aspiring law professors do in one-on-one interviews -- which usually provide no information at all about how they will do as teachers or researchers....

In fact, some evidence suggests that interviews are far worse than wasteful: By drawing employers' attention to irrelevant information, they can produce inferior decisions. For example, people make better predictions about student performance if they are given access to objective background information, such as grades and test scores -- and prevented from conducting interviews entirely....
The headline way overstates the point in the text, which compares "unstructured interviews" with "specific aptitude tests." But Sunstein enthusiastically presents research that is skeptical of human intuition and sanguine about the objectivity of tests. And he doesn't give any sign of noticing any complexity in the idea of what it means to "succeed."

Where do we stand these days on the subject of "objective" tests? I've seen them disparaged over the years. Is liberal opinion turning in favor of these these tests? I remember, circa 1990, hearing a very famous law professor denounce the LSAT as evidence of absolutely nothing. I suggested that the LSAT was at least useful in giving those who'd squandered or botched their college education* a chance to show what they're capable of doing now, and she fiercely stood her ground. The LSAT has no value other than its negative value as a vector of discrimination.

But perhaps objective-test meritocracy is on the upswing. I wonder why. What's in the air these days? And can the air be objectively tested?


* I was thinking of myself. I arrived at college in 1969 with a headful of ideas from Bob Dylan, the hippie movement, "The Way of Zen," and the Sermon on the Mount. I exited college with a BFA and a major in painting. But after 5 more years of youthful foolery, I had nailed a 99th percentile on the LSAT. Didn't that mean something? Or was I an inappropriate interloper? A third of a century later, I believe I was.

Is Donald Trump's "huge ad buy — 2 minutes long" terrifying CNN?

I noticed this at Memeorandum:

"Donald Trump has huge ad buy - 2 minutes long — Donald Trump is trying something unconventional in the final stretch: a two-minute-long TV ad. — The campaign says it is spending $4 million to buy time for the ad in nine battleground states and on nationally televised shows."

That caught my eye, because it's CNN straightforwardly crediting the Trump campaign with a big and unusual move that could turn out to be quite clever.

Here's the ad (or what I think is the ad (maybe I'm just being tricked into propagating an ad and there's some other ad)):

But look at the CNN headline now: "Trump and Clinton prep long final ads."

Trump's not doing anything special. Both campaigns are just boringly doing the same thing — long ads.

Let's read the text and see whether Trump is doing something special — "huge" and "unconventional" — or just proceeding alongside his opponent in a boring nothing-to-see-here fashion.

Wait. Before reading the text, I realize that the first characterization is the one that makes you think I'd better check out that ad and the second version makes you think blah, more ads, leave me alone. So my hypothesis is that CNN changed the headline to keep readers from wanting to see that ad — either right away, on the web, or when it comes up as they're watching TV over the weekend. Oh, there's that Trump ad everyone's talking about.

Reading the text, I see it supports the older headline:
Donald Trump is trying something unconventional in the final stretch: a two-minute-long TV ad.

The campaign says it is spending $4 million to buy time for the ad in nine battleground states and on nationally televised shows. TV ads are usually 30 seconds long, so Trump is trying to stand out by buying longer blocks of time and placing the ads during Saturday college football games, Sunday NFL games, and tentpole shows like "The Voice."

The idea is that the uncommonly long ads will stand out from the noise.
The article is almost entirely about Trump's ad and its placement. And the accompanying TV clip, from Wolf Blitzer's CNN show, is only about the Trump ad. But there's also this about a Clinton ad:
A Clinton campaign spokesman said Clinton also has a two-minute ad in the works. It is scheduled to also air on Monday night on "The Voice." It will also be seen on CBS, which has the new sitcom "Kevin Can Wait." The election eve ad time was reserved by Clinton's campaign on Thursday.
That's not an equivalent big ad buy, just 2 airings of an ad yet to come. It's enough to make the new headline not entirely ridiculous, but I think the headline was rewritten to dampen interest in the story and the ad.

What did I think of the ad? It successfully portrays Hillary Clinton as the embodiment of the establishment, the establishment as the evil oppressor that must be overthrown, and Donald Trump as the embodiment of change, change that is needed. Within that ad, both candidates are symbols, not human beings. Don't think too much about Trump, the person, or Hillary, the person: Think about the big ideas.

The Hillary campaign has been stressing Trump, the person. He's a terrible man. Trump has called Hillary "a nasty woman," but his closing argument is not personal. I haven't seen Hillary's closing argument, but ad that I've seen in the last week on TV here in Wisconsin is this old one (from last July) that harps piano-chords on Trump's personal ugliness:

November 4, 2016

"Big Names Campaigning for Hillary Clinton Underscore Donald Trump’s Isolation."

A NYT headline that could so easily be rewritten pro-Trump.

"Religiosity is rising, especially among the middle class."

"A sense of identification is increasing."

How Clinton/Trump lost me.

Do I have a "lost me" tradition on this blog? In September 2004, I wrote "How Kerry lost me," mining the archive to trace down where my hostility to Kerry came from. On November 8, 2008, I wrote "How McCain lost me," using the same method. I can't remember or search out what I did in 2012. Was there a "How Obama lost me" or a "How Romney won me"? I can't find it. If I didn't do it in 2012, I feel less of a call to do it now in 2016, but on the other hand, maybe I need to do it just to figure out how to vote. I genuinely don't know how I will vote on Tuesday. It's possible that if I did a mining of the archive, I would discover the answer. Oh! But there are so many posts! The point of the 2004 and 2008 posts was that I saw how I was going to vote and found it interesting to see how the decision evolved. Now, I don't know. What would I look for? The comparable post would be Why I don't know how to vote. I could set out to do that, perform it in real time for you, and perhaps decide in front of you. I'm inviting you to prod me to do that, but at the same time, I don't know if I want to do something so shameful in public.

Home, at last. Serenity.


Arriving home on a fall afternoon.


The morning fog.


Translating the Lord's prayer into a language with no word for bread: "Give us this day our daily seal."

From an article that's not at all mostly about language or bread or prayer, "GREENLAND IS MELTING/The shrinking of the country’s ice sheet is triggering feedback loops that accelerate the global crisis. The floodgates may already be open" by Elizabeth Kolbert:
Nuuk sits on the southwest coast. It was founded in the early eighteenth century by a Danish-Norwegian missionary named Hans Egede, and for most of its existence was known as Godthåb. When Egede arrived, he discovered that the native people had neither bread nor a word for it, so he translated the line from the Lord’s Prayer as “Give us this day our daily seal.” Today, a giant statue of Egede presides over Nuuk much the way Christ the Redeemer presides over Rio.
I recommend the article for its main topic too, but I wanted to break out that translation question that interested me so much. I'd like to see other examples of translating the Bible for people with no word for bread. Bread is important in the Bible, as a food and as a metaphor. Jesus calls himself "the bread of life." Did that become "the seal of life" in Greenland? That hints at another question: Does comfort with metaphor vary from one language to another? 

At the Mid-Fall Café...


... you can catch what's left of the season.

Jury finds Rolling Stone liable in the defamation suit over its false fraternity-gang-rape story about the University of Virginia

The winning plaintiff is Nicole P. Eramo, who was the associate dean of students, the NYT reports.
[I]n videotaped testimony shown during the trial, Jann S. Wenner, Rolling Stone’s founder and editor, said the magazine was wrong to retract the story fully.

“We did everything reasonable, appropriate up to the highest standards of journalism to check on this thing,” Mr. Wenner said. “The one thing we didn’t do was confront Jackie’s accusers — the rapists.”

Referring to Jackie, Mr. Wenner said there was nothing a journalist could do “if someone is really determined to commit a fraud.”
The jury didn't buy that.  And Eramo was deemed a public figure so the verdict represents a finding that the publisher either knew the story was false or had reckless disregard for whether or not it was true.

There's a second lawsuit brought by the fraternity.

“It’ll apply next week, whether it’s one or the other. And it’s nice to take a break and not have to draw Trump—or Hillary, for that matter.”

Barry Blitt's New Yorker cover for the issue dated November 14th:

At the link, there are more of Blitt's covers from the mind-bending 2016 election season. Not all of them, though. Not this one of Hillary Clinton, the fighter.

"I know nothing about businessmen. I don’t know any personally; I’m intimidated by them. They’re kind of authoritarian."

Said Robert Weber, the New Yorker cartoonist known especially for his depiction of businessmen. Maybe he was joking, but I understand an artist keeping his distance from the subject of his satire. You can get your material second-hand, and getting close can dull your edge. It can foment empathy. Better to lean into your aversion.

And goodbye to Mr. Weber, who lived to the age of 92. I'm reading his obituary in the NYT. He had a terrific drawing style. He was, apparently, the only New Yorker cartoonist who used charcoal.

"Harvard announced on Thursday that it was canceling the rest of the season for its men’s soccer team..."

"... after university officials uncovered what they described as a widespread practice of the team’s players rating the school’s female players in sexually explicit terms," the NYT reports.
Lawyers for the university began investigating the men’s team after the college newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, reported last week that a player created a nine-page document in 2012 with numeric ratings, photos and lengthy evaluations of the freshman recruits of the Harvard women’s team based on their physical appearance. Men on the team referred to the document as a “scouting report.”
Here's the Harvard Crimson article. Excerpt:
The author... assigned each woman a nickname, calling one woman “Gumbi” because “her gum to tooth ratio is about 1 to 1.”

“For that reason I am forced to rate her a 6,” the author added.

“She seems to be very strong, tall and manly so, I gave her a 3 because I felt bad. Not much needs to be said on this one folks,” the author wrote about another woman.

Concluding his assessment of one woman, the author wrote, “Yeah… She wants cock.”
According to the NYT, the team had "a 4-0-1 conference record, 10-3-2 over all." There were 2 games left in the season, and the Ivy League championship was at stake.

Here's the response from the women's team, published in the Crimson. Excerpt:
“Locker room talk” is not an excuse because this is not limited to athletic teams. The whole world is the locker room.... We are hopeful that the release of this report will lead to productive conversation and action on Harvard’s campus, within collegiate athletic teams across the country, and into the locker room that is our world....
IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan said:
I roll my eyes at the title of the Women's Team's response.

"I wrote the best song I ever wrote and didn’t know what I was doing."

"I do know I was touched deeply when I was singing it. I almost cried. I was struggling, trying to come up with something different."

"Today, we stand as a collective, stand as a single voice... calling on the university to create a policy where there is zero tolerance..."

"... for racism, or racial gestures, slurs, proxies, or anything perpetuating against communities of color, whether it by staff, whether it be by teacher, whether it be by student."

Said Minister Caliph Muab’El, of Breaking Barriers Mentoring Inc., quoted in Isthmus, about the person at a University of Wisconsin football game last Saturday (the night of the Madison Halloween festival, Freakfest), who was wearing a prison suit, a noose, and a Hillary mask on the front of his head and an Obama mask on the back of his head. University officials asked the man to remove the noose and he did, and the University also put out an immediate statement calling the costume "repugnant" and reminding us that the man has a right to freedom of speech. That could have been the end of it, but it wasn't. It's an incident that something can be made of, and so we're getting statements like the one quoted above.

The idea of "zero tolerance" is horrifying in a context where street theater and symbolic speech is aggressively interpreted as racist, with the university officials taking the most extreme, hurtful position on what the costumed man meant. A university should be dedicated to intellectual exploration, and, indeed, our university has a famous plaque:
"Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great State University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth may be found." 

"The most obnoxious spin of the 2016 campaign came this week, as Democrats, their media allies and even President Obama accused the FBI of stacking the election."

"It’s an extraordinary claim, coming as it does from the same crew that has—we now know—been stacking the election all along in the corridors of the Justice Department," writes Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal.

"When you’re attacking one woman, you’re attacking all women, because we see each other as sisters."

Said a 14-year-old Hillary Clinton supporter, one of the teenagers featured in a NYT article titled "'It Really Does Get Into Your Head.' The Election, Through the Eyes of Teenage Girls."
In the national poll, almost all the girls had heard Mr. Trump’s comments about women. Forty-two percent said he had affected the way they thought about their bodies, and the same share said the comments had not.

“That hits me hard when people like Trump say people who are skinnier than I am are too big,” said Morgan Lesh, 15, in Moro. “It makes me feel extremely insecure about myself.”
The NYT would have you think that what we are voting on is the mental health of the younger generations. If Hillary wins, girls will grow up feeling happy and achievement oriented, but if Trump wins, their hopes will be dashed. When I voted for Obama in 2008, one factor I took into consideration was that he'd cheer people up. I have a tag for that: Obama the mood elevator. I do think mood inspiration is something, but be careful with that one. The President is not your drug, and it's not good relying on drugs anyway.

I have 73 posts with that Obama the mood elevator tag. The first one was "Vagal superstars." It linked to a Slate article, "Obama in Your Heart/How the president — elect tapped into a powerful — and only recently studied—human emotion called 'elevation.'"

That was in December 2008, when today's 14 year olds were only 6. Why aren't these teenagers today much happier and fabulously secure and hopeful? They've grown up with Obama as President.

Can Bernie help Hillary?

Look at the body language in this photograph (at the NYT). The chairs are set on the stage with room between them, so that the candidates could sit squarely on the seats and be close enough without touching, but both candidates sit off center. Bernie is quite far over to the side, and he's also crossing his leg away from her and high up on the knee to create a barrier which is fortified by his arm stretched all the way out across the leg. His other hand is in his pocket. Hillary, for her part, is turned away from Bernie, and she has her ankles crossed and her hands clasped in her lap.

The accompanying article, published today, is titled "Presidential Election: Any Surprises Left?" The political preference of the NYT is hilariously highlighted by the 2 headings: "Will the stars align for Mrs. Clinton?" and "Will the K.K.K. return to front and center?" As to the "stars"* aligning, the "surprise" for Hillary is that Pharrell Williams, Jay Z, and Katy Perry are performing at rallies, "working hard to drum up interest among millennial voters." And the political stars, Obama, Biden, and Bernie are doing events.

Judging from the photograph, Bernie is withholding his full and open support. Perhaps he knows that the passion and heightened consciousness that he inspired cannot simply be handed to Hillary Clinton. Or perhaps Bernie had recently read that newly leaked email:
In February, longtime Clinton adviser and Democratic insider Joel Johnson had sent an email to Clinton campaign head John Podesta, emphasizing, “Bernie needs to be ground to a pulp. We can’t start believing our own primary bullshit. This is no time to run the general. Crush him as hard as you can.”

Just after Salon reported Johnson’s message on Thursday morning, however, the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks released another trove of emails to and from Podesta. In this new batch of messages appeared Podesta’s response to Johnson’s advice.

“I agree with that in principle,” Podesta wrote in reply to Johnson’s “no mercy” email.

“Where would you stick the knife in?” Podesta asked....

Johnson proposed portraying Sanders as an “Obama betrayer,” noting that the White House would help affirm the talking point. He also said Sanders should be depicted as a “hapless legislator,” which other members of Congress would help affirm; a “false promiser,” which “policy elites” would affirm; and as someone who is unable to win, which “black people will affirm.”

* Did you know that when you're a star, they let you do anything?

Trump is "already somewhat comical and broad, which can make Bad Lip Reading a bit less effective from where I’m sitting."

Says the creator of Bad Lip Reading to the NYT.
The more serious a person’s public persona, the better the results are when putting nonsense in their mouths. At least that’s how I feel from a creative standpoint.
The BLR guy (who doesn't reveal his name) preferred working with the footage of Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders:
Bernie, in particular, is such a distinctive character.... Hands down, Bernie Sanders is the king of gesticulation and provided so much good material. His mannerisms and speaking cadence were a dream to work with. I actually ended up basing an entire segment around the physical gestures he made while simply listening to Hillary Clinton talk; he wasn’t even speaking, he was just physically reacting to what she said, and it resulted in one of my personal favorite pieces from the election (“Time to Act”).

November 3, 2016

Post-Halloween lunch setting.


Today, at Meadhouse.

"Bob Dylan Painted The Most Instagrammed Spot In Brooklyn."

"Yes indeed, Robert Zimmerman has painted the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO—that spot is located at Washington Street, between Plymouth and Front streets...."

"The British government’s plan for leaving the European Union was thrown into uncertainty on Thursday..."

"... after the High Court ruled that Parliament must give its approval before the process can begin...."
The case is a constitutional one, about the powers vested in the government, the crown and Parliament, which is supreme. The case is not about whether Britain will or will not leave the European Union, but about the procedure for invoking Article 50, which provides a two-year period for negotiations on the split.

The plaintiffs argued successfully that leaving the European Union involved the revocation of certain rights granted to Britons by Parliament, and that lawmakers must have a say and a vote before Article 50 is invoked.

In his ruling, the lord chief justice, John Thomas, said that “the most fundamental rule of the U.K. constitution is that Parliament is sovereign and can make or unmake any law it chooses.”

Oddly enough, this was precisely the case made by those who wanted to end membership, who argued that only by leaving the European Union could Parliament’s sovereignty be completely restored. Now that same argument could delay the very exit so desired by those politicians and their supporters.
There's still an appeal to a higher court in the UK and "the ruling might ultimately be referred to the European Court of Justice."

"Grandpa, your stomach is so gorgeous! Incredibly handsome!"

From a NYT article on "China’s hottest grandpa," the 80-year-old model Wang Deshun. Shirtless picture at the link.

The break in the Clinton firewall.

There are so many new polls today, but I think the biggest news is this:

To win in the Electoral College, Trump needs all the battleground states and at least one of the so-called "firewall" states. Both New Hampshire and Colorado are firewall states. Here's what Nate Silver said about that 2 days ago:
This time around, we haven’t seen too many of those polls in Clinton’s firewall states, such as Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. But that’s misleading, because we haven’t seen many high-quality polls from those states, period!
AND: Here's Ronald Brownstein, writing yesterday in The Atlantic:
[T]he question looming over her campaign is whether she has left herself open to a flanking maneuver from Trump in any of the seemingly safe Democratic states that he is now targeting—key among them Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin....

"Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues..."

"... but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations... Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?"

Wrote Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a Ghanaian columnist, quoted in "Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa."

I know. Some of you are going to say, if Africans like Trump maybe it's because he is a strongman. People who are weary of the strongman may nevertheless think the solution is another strongman. Here's Trevor Noah's take:

"A noose displayed in this fashion has no place on campus. Together, the athletics department and the university's Office of Legal Affairs..."

"... are initiating a review of stadium policies with the goal of ensuring that symbols of this type are not displayed in our stadium again."

A letter from UW chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, about the costume at Saturday night's football game. We talked about that the other day in my post titled, "Was that a 'racist' costume at the University of Wisconsin football game last night?" I approved of the way the incident was treated at the time: By respecting free speech and simply using more speech to reason with the costume-wearer and persuade him to voluntarily remove the noose from his neck.

The man was wearing a Hillary Clinton mask and another man, in a Trump mask, was pulling Hillary along. But the man in the Hillary mask also had an Obama mask on the back of his head, and a photo was taken from the back, so what you saw was Obama in a noose, an image people associated with the history of lynching black people in America. Seen from the front, with Hillary in the noose, the American history association might be with hangings in effigy that were standard political street protest in the Revolutionary War era.

This new letter, however, shows the campus authorities revealing that they want to make a rule that would exclude symbolic speech precisely because of the viewpoint. That is, they are flaunting their intent to violate freedom of speech. They're not even pretending that the rule would be viewpoint neutral. I could imagine a rule against rope premised on some theory that rope is some sort of safety or crowd-control problem. We still might smoke out the intent to suppress a particular political viewpoint. But here, the university seems to want credit for censoring the message they don't like.

Perhaps they don't care what a court might say about freedom of speech, and it's all only about expressing their own message that they are doing something about a problem they feel pressure to solve. But even if they don't mind losing in court or they're hoping that their rule is never challenged in court, they should want to express the message that freedom of speech matters, including speech that utilizes props — like ropes and flags.

(I say flags because of the most important Supreme Court case on the subject, which recognized the free-speech right to burn the U.S. flag to express an opinion. Here, read it yourself. It's written by the liberal hero William Brennan and joined by the conservative hero Antonin Scalia.)

"So choose your reality. If you like the reality where Trump wins, you can watch it happening live on FOX News."

"He’s crushing it over there. But if you hope for a Clinton win, watch CNN and see your dreams come true. She’s doing great on that network."

Quips Scott Adams.

He's right. The news networks are playing to their audience. But what channel do you watch when you don't want either candidate to win? I find myself watching CNN. To me, the election is a horror show, and it doesn't matter whether I go down into the cellar or jump out the window. A monster will grab me. I can't have the fun of enjoying Trump crushing it on Fox or Clinton basking in presumed victory on CNN. But the faces on CNN are hilarious. Adams observes that the content at CNN is comedic, as they "avoid mentioning Clinton" and go on about "process." I'm seeing that plus the pained expressions on the faces of the commentators, especially Jake Tapper. There's a subtle, ever-changing mix of suppressed panic and depression. Sometimes you get a talking head that flashes through all 5 stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — within a single minute of blah blah blah.

Here, watch the panel on Tapper's show from last night. Meade and I laughed and laughed:

How hard did the Libertarians have to try to blow it this badly?

They were in a fabulous position a couple months ago — what with the horrible nominations from the 2 major parties — and Johnson and Weld threw it away.

Between "What's Aleppo?" and Hillary Clinton is "reliable and honest," they made the Libertarian option less attractive than Evan McMullin, and I don't even know who his running mate is. Mindy something.

BBC asks: "In the age of genetic engineering, do we need two sexes any more?"

"Do we need men?"

Predictable sexist joke: Yeah, we need them to do the genetic engineering.

"Five Years After Giving Birth In A Gallery, This Artist Is Still Raising Her Child As Art."

"Many women are forced to adjust their careers when they become mothers. In a sense, [Marni] Kotak is no different."
The birth of her son coincided with the birth of an artistic endeavor that would stretch on far past the foreseeable future. The sequel to “The Birth” would be called “Raising Baby X,” and could continue until, well, indefinitely.

“It involves the entire birth to death continuum,” Kotak explained in an interview with The Huffington Post. “If I believe my real life is the ultimate performance, motherhood goes on, indefinitely.”
"Indefinitely" may not be when you reach the death end of that "birth to death continuum" but when the child, after learning to read, gets on the internet and sees how you've used and spoken about him all his life.

My life is not your performance, Mom.

"This is not a dress."

"This is the skeleton of Princess Diana's wedding dress."

Is this a pro-Clinton argument?

"How Men Behaving Badly Have Held Hillary Clinton Back."

It's intended as a pro-Clinton argument. It's by Jill Filipovic and published in Time (which seems to be trying to distinguish itself as the go-to place for women-oriented pieces that actually insult women through the implication that women will buy material like this).

Look, I think it's bad that so many women throughout human history have been held back by men, but that's no reason to make one of the held-back women President. A woman can be President, but it better not be a woman who's vulnerable to men holding her back. The presidency is not a sympathy prize. We need a President to protect us from bad men.

Filipovic begins:
The first woman is just days away from (probably) being elected President of the United States, and so of course her candidacy has been fraught by two guys obsessed with their own penises, including one whose last name is literally Weiner.
And she ends:
[T]he hard-ons of has-been men and the hard heads of quietly powerful ones might just screw Clinton’s shot at the White House.
By the way, the 2 men whose penises she's asking you to think about do not include Bill Clinton. BC is not mentioned in the article. Somehow, Filipovic imagines that she could get that penis-y and we wouldn't think of the man closest to Hillary. 

"The Cubs Have a Smaller Chance of Winning Than Trump Does."

(Via viator.)

"The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything."

"Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source."

Says Julian Assange.

"Secret Recordings Fueled FBI Feud in Clinton Probe/Agents thought they had enough material to merit aggressively pursuing investigation into Clinton Foundation."

By Devlin Barrett and Christopher M. Matthews at the WSJ (the link should work).
Senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t think much of the evidence, while investigators believed they had promising leads their bosses wouldn’t let them pursue, they said....

Amid the internal finger-pointing on the Clinton Foundation matter, some have blamed the FBI’s No. 2 official, deputy director Andrew McCabe, claiming he sought to stop agents from pursuing the case this summer. His defenders deny that, and say it was the Justice Department that kept pushing back on the investigation....

Much of the skepticism toward the case came from how it started—with the publication of a book suggesting possible financial misconduct and self-dealing surrounding the Clinton charity. The author of that book, Peter Schweizer—a former speechwriting consultant for President George W. Bush—was interviewed multiple times by FBI agents, people familiar with the matter said....

Sorry to join you so late this morning.

We had to watch the end of the World Series.

November 2, 2016

Anthony Weiner is reportedly in some sort of "rehab" facility for his so-called "sex addiction."

Daily Mail has the cheesily reported scoop.

Here's an article from last August about the "myth" of sex addiction.
[David Ley, author of "The Myth of Sex Addiction," says] that that “sex addiction” isn’t well-defined, is quite scientifically controversial, and in recent decades has been increasingly used to explain a broad range of bad behavior on the part of (mostly) men. But in a sense, this robs men of their agency, of the possibility that they can control their compulsions and put them in a broader, more meaningful psychological context. “Sex addiction,” in this view, is a lazy and easy way out.

To Ley, all this same logic applies to Weiner’s escapades. To him, pushing behavior like Weiner’s under the umbrella of something called “sex addiction” obscures more than it reveals. It strips away a huge amount of the psychological complexity that drives self-destructive human behavior. “Calling Anthony Weiner a sex addict is a distraction from the important issues of personal responsibility and mindful choice,” he said in an email. “It’s also a sad form of slut-shaming.”
Quite apart from the laziness of calling it "sex addiction," there's the cheap convenience of packing someone up into an institution — the theater of saying we're doing something about this combined with the practical solution of bundling him away where he's incommunicado.

The man is separated from his wife. Why can't he just get some actual real-world sex instead of the ridiculous trapped-at-home internet foolery that we're shaming him to death over? It seems absurd to institutionalize him. Why not liberate him? What's the more likely route out of his masturbatory hell?

Drudge calls out to me with a men-in-shorts photograph over a link about "'toxic' masculinity."

The Drudge headline — "More colleges work to purge male students of 'toxic' masculinity..." —  goes to the College Fix — "TRENDING: Universities work to purge male students of their ‘toxic’ masculinity." No shorts at the link, where the illustration is a stock photo of a guy shrugging. We only see his upper body, so maybe he is wearing bright-colored shorts. All we see that he's wearing is a shirt so nondescript in color that I've had to click over there several times to decide whether to go out on a limb and call it "gray." The shrugging guy seems to be intended to be completely generic — low class, if anything. The shorts guys in the Drudge pic look like rich guys, but maybe Drudge thinks they just look unmasculine.

The article itself is nothing much. You can't tell what's really happening in colleges. I don't know if anyone's being forcibly purged of masculinity or if these are another variation of the campus gender studies course. It looks as though the "toxic" part of masculinity is violence, which is always a problem and has nothing to do with fashion. Nothing much. I'm sure it has something to do with fashion. If I wanted to write an academic book about violence and fashion, I bet I could.

ADDED: (Ha.)

New Marquette poll has Ron Johnson closing the gap on Russ Feingold.

It's Feingold 45%, Johnson 44%. In early October, it was Feingold 46%, Johnson 44%.
Other public polls of the race in October have shown Feingold leading by between two and 12 points.
But Trump isn't closing the gap on Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin. Marquette has Trump at 40% and Hillary at 46%. I note that the belief that Hillary will win can work as a reason to support Johnson, to balance the federal government and position the Congress as a brake on the President.

I got played by the NYT — the headline is "Obama Criticizes F.B.I. Director: ‘We Don’t Operate on Leaks.'"

Then I watched the video:

That didn't come across as Obama turning around from the restrained, out-of-the-fray position he took yesterday, but the NYT has:
President Obama sharply criticized the decision by his F.B.I. director to alert Congress on Friday about the discovery of new emails related to the Hillary Clinton server case, implying that it violated investigative norms and trafficked in innuendo.
Where's the sharp criticism?!

Note that Obama, speaking very carefully, says:
I made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I’m meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments.
Interesting stress on how things look. But I think he means to keep looking like he's not meddling.

Now, Obama also says:
We don’t operate on incomplete information. We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.
But he's speaking generally, not directly at Comey, and not purporting to say specifically that anything Comey has done constitutes "operating" on "incomplete information." You'd have to put that together yourself — or trust the NYT to do that for you.

"Whenever the race tightens, we get people protesting that the popular vote doesn’t matter because it’s all about the Electoral College, and that Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes."

Says Nate Silver.
But this presumes that the states behave independently from national trends, when in fact they tend to move in tandem. We had a good illustration of this in mid-September, when in the midst of a tight race overall, about half of swing state polls showed Clinton trailing Trump, including several polls in Colorado, which would have broken Clinton’s firewall.

This time around, we haven’t seen too many of those polls in Clinton’s firewall states, such as Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. But that’s misleading, because we haven’t seen many high-quality polls from those states, period! We have seen lots of polls from North Carolina and Florida — for some reason, they get polled far more than any other states — and plenty of them have shown Trump gaining ground, to the point that both states are pure toss-ups right now.

So, should you expect to see polls showing Clinton behind in states like Colorado and Wisconsin?....

Did Donald Trump become a candidate for President because his friend Bill Clinton urged him to do it?

Maureen Dowd digs into the story in "When Hillary and Donald Were Friends":
The Washington Post quoted four Trump allies and one Clinton associate as saying that [Bill] Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party.

Roger Stone, author of “The Clintons’ War on Women” and a longtime confidant of Trump’s, claims that Bill urged Trump to get in the race and told him he thought he could get the nomination. “That’s why the people with the tinfoil hats are convinced the whole thing is a setup,” Stone says. “Bill can’t help himself from giving advice. He loves the game. He’s the great kibitzer.” Stone said Trump also asked Bill three years ago if anyone could be elected president as an independent, and Bill told him no.

I tried to get to the bottom of this murky story that day [last summer] at Trump Tower, but when you’re dealing with Bill and Donald and truth, it’s an elusive goal.

“Did Bill tell you that you should run?” I asked.

“He didn’t say one way or the other,” Trump replied, over a plate of meatballs.

"There is clearly a danger if you’re a police officer. These guys were gunned down, sitting in their car doing nothing wrong."

"There is a clear and present danger to police officers right now.... We’re very well aware of the society that we’re living in right now and the time... And that there are some not-so-positive views of law enforcement that a segment of our population holds. If we don’t provide the service in the area that we do, with the personal-type service that we do, we’re nothing more than an occupying army.... We’re going to do what we can to keep ourselves safe."

Said Sgt. Paul Parizek, a spokesman for the police department in Des Moines, Iowa where 2 police officers were killed early this morning in "ambush-style attacks."

Scott Michael Greene, of Urbandale, Iowa, has been taken into custody, and we're told "he has some information pretty crucial to closing this case out."

I'm going to miss this man.

Obama, handing out Halloween candy, sees a tiny boy dressed as Prince, and bursts into "Purple rain, purple rain":

I don't know how long that video will be available on YouTube, considering the infamous take-down notice on the YouTube video of the baby dancing to "Let's Go Crazy," which happened 10 years ago but got the attention of the Supreme Court this week:
The high court hasn't yet granted review of the nearly decade-old dispute between Stephanie Lenz and Universal Music, but on Monday in a strong sign that the justices are at least entertaining the possibility, they invited the U.S. Solicitor General to express the government's viewpoint about this case.

Lenz, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, alleges Universal Music made a misrepresentation of its copyright under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and asserts that Universal Music should have considered copyright fair use before telling YouTube that the background music in the cute baby video was a violation of the music giant's rights. After a long build-up at the California district court, the dispute was tackled in 2015 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 
Neither side got everything they wanted and both seek Supreme Court review. I think President Obama's spontaneous beautiful outburst helps the fair use side of the argument.

Wow, I miss Prince and I pre-miss Obama.

ADDED: Here I am on February 18, 2008 — the day I went to see Michelle Obama speak — looking forward to the experience of having the Obamas in the White House.

"When I said that in September that the enthusiasm level for African-Americans as far as Hillary Clinton's campaign was not there, I was right."

"They were wrong. They didn't want anyone to know they were in panic mode. I want everyone to know I was right. If they don't want to admit they were in panic mode they should admit it now. I said then it wasn't too late. It is too late now."/"There is nothing she can do?"/"Oh, no. It's over now as far as the African-American community is concerned. She had time back then to get into the community and get people out to vote. Now, you know, the numbers are the numbers. There's nothing she can do now. As far as bringing in all of the surrogates, I said then that wasn't going to get the African-American community to the polls. It didn't work. The numbers are the numbers...."

Said Leslie Wimes, the president of the Democratic African-American women's caucus.

"This is a message for any Democratic voters who have already cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton and are having a bad case of buyer’s remorse."

"Wisconsin is one of several states where you can change your early ballot if you think you’ve made a mistake. You can change your vote to Donald Trump and make America great again. She will never make America great."

Said Donald Trump in Eau Claire, Wisconsin yesterday. I did not know that you could rescind an early vote and revote. According to the linked article, not only can you rescind and revote, you can rescind and revote twice.

I haven't independently researched this law, but I am reading that you can change your early vote in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, Louisiana, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

Trump tweeted this morning: "You can change your vote in six states. So, now that you see that Hillary was a big mistake, change your vote to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

I wonder if the states are geared up to handle mass revoting.

How many people will actually do it? I would think early voters are the most settled in party loyalty. But just the call for revoting must be unsettling to the Hillary supporters who've been burbling about all the votes they have banked. That bank is not so secure.

"Donald Trump (or any candidate) may not be a solution in himself, but an outsider at least can be an instrument to dislodge an elite and replace it, for a while..."

"... with an elite less habituated to using public power to favor and enrich itself. With Mrs. Clinton, as with Mr. Obama, a voter naturally struggles to understand what the overarching vision is. There isn’t one. They exist to deliver the wish-list of Democratic lobby groups for more power over the people of the United States. Period. A few weeks ago Mrs. Clinton was the 'safe hands' candidate. If she wins, it now appears hers will be an embattled and investigated presidency from day one. Moderates will flee. Republicans will find it hard to cooperate with her. She will be forced back on the hard left of her party. The same who already are drawing up 'blacklists' of potential appointees suspected of sympathy for the private sector. The same who hesitate least about using government power to attack enemies (see Exxon). The same who are most comfortable relying on administrative diktat to impose policies the public doesn’t support and never voted for."

Writes Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. at The Wall Street Journal, in "Hillary Clinton Becomes the Unsafe Hand."

Hillary Clinton's "fate is enmeshed... with the wanton misdeeds of the weaker sex" — the "weaker sex" being men, because men are sexually ravenous.

Hillary "can’t seem to escape insatiable men," writes Frank Bruni, the NYT columnist, who is pushing for Hillary and must think it will help to cast Hillary as the victim of sexual predators (even though most of us are hoping the President will protect us, not thinking of ourselves as the protector of the President).

In Bruni's scenaro, the sexual predators Hillary can't outrun are: 1. Bill Clinton (whose "bimbo eruptions" might explain the secretiveness that got her into that email trouble), 2. Donald Trump (whose "candidacy is an unalloyed expression of male id... less a political mission than a hormonal one"), and 3. Anthony Weiner (the boy with the computer).

Hillary's story is "shaped by the appetites and anxieties of men." She lives under "a cloud of testosterone." I know Bruni is trying to help her, and I know Bruni took the trouble to characterize male sexuality as weakness, but he is making Hillary Clinton look hapless and ineffectual and weak. That isn't a closing argument.

November 1, 2016

"Basically people on Twitter are like 'HAHA LOSER' whenever Trump campaigns in a state that’s within Clinton’s firewall."

"But Trump has to win a firewall state or two in order to win the election!"/"But is he choosing from among Clinton’s firewall states wisely?"/"Sure. Wisconsin and ESPECIALLY Michigan are VASTLY underrated targets for Trump."/"And Minnesota, right?"/"Michigan is basically Pennsylvania, but with worse polling (hence more uncertainty) and probably slightly better demographics for Trump...."

From "On A Scale From 1 To 10, How Much Should Democrats Panic?" at FiveThirtyEight.

"That is an absolutely perfect message for this I'm-mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore electorate."

"People want change desperately. And almost no one believes Clinton represents that radical change — or anything close to it. Trump, in that passage above, puts his life outside of politics forward as incontrovertible evidence that he will walk the walk when it comes to bringing real change to the nation's capitol."

Writes Chris Cillizza in "Donald Trump gave a very, very good speech today in Pennsylvania."

At the Maple Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

(And, please, consider shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal!)

"I think this an outrage and I think the fact that the KGB is involved in this election is an outrage..."

"... our democracy is under assault by the KGB.... And people have to decide do we want our country for ourselves with the people in charge or are we going to elect the the KGB... And as we know the KGB is all over this election...."


"Proxemics is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction...."
Personal space is highly variable, and can be due to cultural differences and personal experiences. For example, the cultural practices of the United States show considerable similarities to those in northern and central European regions, such as Germany, the Benelux, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom. Greeting rituals tend to be the same in Europe and in the United States, consisting of minimal body contact—often confined to a simple handshake. The main cultural difference in proxemics is that residents of the United States like to keep more open space between themselves and their conversation partners (roughly 4 feet (1.2 m) compared to 2 to 3 feet (0.6–0.9 m) in Europe). European cultural history has seen a change in personal space since Roman times, along with the boundaries of public and private space.... On the other hand, those living in densely populated places likely have lower expectations of personal space. Residents of India or Japan tend to have a smaller personal space than those in the Mongolian steppe, both in regard to home and individual spaces. Different expectations of personal space can lead to difficulties in intercultural communication.

Hall notes that different culture types maintain different standards of personal space. The Francavilla Model of Cultural Types, also known as The Lewis Model, lists the variations in personal interactive qualities, indicating three poles:
linear-active cultures, which are characterized as cool and decisive (Germany, Norway, USA)
reactive cultures, characterized as accommodating and non-confrontational (Vietnam, China, Japan), and
multi-active cultures, characterized as warm and impulsive (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Italy).
Realizing and recognizing these cultural differences improves cross-cultural understanding, and helps eliminate discomfort people may feel if the interpersonal distance is too large ("stand-offish") or too small (intrusive).
I'm reading this entry in Wikipedia because it relates to a long, wide-ranging conversation I was having with Meade. Feel free to discuss the proxemics of whatever you want.

ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll has a 13 point shift from Clinton to Trump happening in a period of 10 days.

Look at this trajectory:
10/27 - 10/30 Trump +1
10/23 - 10/26 Clinton +4
10/21 - 10/24 Clinton +9
10/20 - 10/23 Clinton +12
That's a 13 point shift in a 10 day period. [ADDED: The +12 number is an average of several days, beginning on the 20th, and ending on the 23rd, so you might characterize the shift as occurring in 7 days, a more drastic plunge.]

Here's the graph, at an ABC news article:

The news article plays down what to me looks like a disastrous plunge:
Strong enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton has ebbed since the renewal of the FBI’s email investigation. While vote preferences have held essentially steady...
... she’s now a slim point behind Donald Trump -- a first since May -- in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
There's a second graph at that link showing also a big shift in the "strong enthusiasm" people. In the October 22 tracking poll, 52% of those likely to vote for Clinton had "strong enthusiasm," which only 49% of Trump's people had. By October 30, Clinton had slipped 7 points to 45% and Trump picked up 4 points to 53%.

One thing seems clear: Trump rode out the disaster of the pussy-grabbing remark and what looked like corroborating accusations from a number of women. It had seemed that he was destroyed, sinking fast, and no decent people would stick with him. We'd have to desert the sinking ship...

Version 9

... and get on S.S. Clinton. There was nowhere else to go. But that Trump hulk stayed afloat, and now it's The Clinton that feels deeply infected....

We gotta get outta here.

5 NYT reporters on one article aimed at Trump's taxes — "Donald Trump Used Legally Dubious Method to Avoid Paying Taxes."

The headline and the byline say: This fizzled. I encourage you to go to the link and understand the point of tax law that is involved and the position Trump's tax lawyers took about something back in the early 90s. I'm just going to quote one of the comments over there:
So where was the IRS when this happened? He made the dubious claim, submitted his tax form, and the IRS let it through? Why? How? What happened?
Those are such obvious questions. The tax filings were made nearly a quarter of a century ago. The "dubious" position Trump's lawyers took — doing what tax lawyers do, minimizing taxes — was entirely conspicuous. The IRS accepted these tax filings. That seems to resolve the question.

The Times calls attention to the change that was later made in the law to eliminate the provision for the advantage Trump took. That shows there was something in the law that needed to be changed, so this too is evidence that the "dubious method" Trump's lawyers saw in the law was really there.

And so we are back to the issue that Trump has openly embraced: Taxpayers look at the tax law and do what they can to pay as little as is legally possible.

Trump had a lot of money at stake so he paid a lot of money to have lawyers look quite intently at the complicated law and find the path for him. The NYT hints that there's something slimy about using lawyers to handle complex transactions and labyrinthine legal codes: "Clever tax lawyers found a way...." But it has to be said:
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump boasts of his mastery of tax loopholes and claims no other candidate for the White House has ever known more about the tax code. This background, he argues with evident disgust, gives him special insight into the way wealthy elites buy off politicians and hire high-priced lawyers and accountants to rig the tax system — just as, he claims, they rig elections.
Credit to the NYT for putting that paragraph into the article. It's buried, but it's there. It's written to prompt readers to think Trump is disgusting and he knows it, but the intelligent, skeptical reader may say: It's the law that is disgusting, and it takes an unusual person to operate in that disgusting place.

What sort of person would you be if you operated within the disgusting place that is the tax law and came out as successful as Donald Trump? Maybe you'd be such a monster everyone would think you're completely barred from switching over to the government side.

But are those who've operated from within the disgusting government side any less monstrous? Oh, but they are the monsters we're accustomed to seeing inside the government.

We know we are choosing a monster this time.

Berkeley linguistics professor says going after Hillary for her email is a "bitch hunt" — happening only because Hillary is a woman.

I'm reading this thing — "Hillary Clinton’s Emailgate Is an Attack on Women," by Robin Lakoff, published in Time — and I'm waiting for the linguistics analysis, but it's just a series of unsupported assertions in the manner of a Facebook rant.
The only reason the whole email flap has legs is because the candidate is female. Can you imagine this happening to a man? Clinton is guilty of SWF (Speaking While Female), and emailgate is just a reminder to us all that she has no business doing what she’s doing and must be punished, for the sake of all decent women everywhere. There is so much of that going around....

If the candidate were male, there would be no scolding and no “scandal.” Those very ideas would be absurd. Men have a nearly absolute right to freedom of speech. In theory, so do women, but that, as the creationists like to say, is only a theory....
It’s not about emails; it’s about public communication by a woman in general...

(How to tell the genders apart: men are truthful; women are liars. Now you know.)...
This is so embarrassing, I wouldn't talk about it except that Lakoff is a professor associated with a prominent university and promising special insight through linguistics. So I'm afraid we need to stare straight at what would normally cause decent people to avert our eyes.

As for freedom of speech, it doesn't mean that you're not responsible for the things you say and do with speech. And if you undertake to protect the security of the American people by handling classified information, you get access to speech that you must keep restricted. If you are extremely careless in protecting that information, you richly deserve criticism, and — male or female — "freedom of speech" is no defense.

By the way, the first paragraph of Lakoff's piece reads like a children's book — an insane children's book:
I am mad. I am mad because I am scared. And if you are a woman, you should be, too. Emailgate is a bitch hunt, but the target is not Hillary Clinton. It’s us.
Yeah, I'm mad too. I'm mad because a woman who is purportedly concerned that women's speech is treated as less worthy is putting out such a ludicrously unworthy exemplar of speech by a woman.

October 31, 2016

"Is this the year Halloween — traditional, neighborhood, door-to-door — died?"

"We have only had 3 doorbell rings so far. And I have an old-school jack-o-lantern out on the stoop to say we are here and we have candy."

I wrote (on Facebook) 18 minutes ago.

1 minute ago, I added: "Oh, great. Four boys came by. I encouraged them to take big handfuls of the mini candies. One was a generic clown but I asked if he was Pagliacci. The others were specific characters, but I couldn't tell because I don't watch the right TV shows. Scorpion? Never heard of it!"

"CNN said on Monday that the network has severed ties with the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile..."

"... after hacked emails showed that she shared questions for CNN-sponsored candidate events with friends on Hillary Clinton’s campaign...."
The network’s announcement came shortly after a new batch of hacked emails, released by WikiLeaks on Monday, revealed a note from Ms. Brazile sent on March 5 — a day before a CNN-sponsored debate in Flint, Mich. — with this subject line: “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash. Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” Ms. Brazile wrote to John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman, and Jennifer Palmieri, the candidate’s communications director.
It was a debate in Flint, Michigan, so it was completely predictable that there would be questions about Flint's water problem. The help isn't even that helpful. Why cheat for so little reason? It suggests cheating means just about nothing to you.

The NYT discovers guys who don't want to work in an office — they start out in offices, of course...

... but then they realize that's not how they want to live and go out and do something like landscaping  or stone masonry.
While he finds great satisfaction in the job, Mr. Kelley is aware of the assumptions of those who believe that making a living with one’s hands is not as prestigious as office work. On a summer afternoon last year, Mr. Kelley had an encounter with a woman who complimented him on a job. After they had spoken for a moment, she said, as he recalled it: "'You are really articulate for a laborer'.... I had to explain to her that just because I have a broom in my hand right now doesn’t mean I didn’t go to college. The assumption there is that you didn’t have opportunity at some point so you are stuck in a blue-collar situation, that you aren’t smart enough."

Mr. Schickel, the landscaper, knows that conversation, that look. But he said it stopped bothering him. “If I cared what everyone else thinks, I would still be at a blue-chip company and feeling unfulfilled,” he said...

“There are hard days when you are working labor and you hate it,” he said. “There is no way around it, and anyone who has ever worked labor will tell you that. But sometimes it’s nice to come home and your body is aching. You take a shower. You eat food as quickly as you can and you pass out. You wake up sore, and it’s nice. It really is. You will be working on a crisp fall day, and the leaves are changing, and you are outside and working hard, and then it’s lunchtime, and you grab your lunch and are lying in the grass, looking at the trees, and it’s a beautiful day and you think, ‘It’s worth it.’”
Even as men may need to wake up and see that they don't belong in an office, women ought to wake up and see the desirability of the men — not all of them, but some of them — who don't want to live like that. 

Tracking polls — today versus yesterday.

Via RCP. Click to enlarge.

The change looks extreme, don't you think? One day?

"AMC Theaters announced... that it would show CNN’s election night coverage in 50 theaters in the United States — designating a 'red' and a 'blue' theater in each of 25 cities."

It's one of these new forms of togetherness that people seek. TV was invented so you didn't have to sit with other people to watch shows. And now people go out to watch TV.

“You’ve got people in a room for two or three hours watching cable news together... one of the few times we can come together and watch something together," said John Smith, the social media director of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, where they've been showing the debates and will show the election returns.

The admission fee is nothing or close to nothing. Money is made from the food and drink served. Alamo serves liquor, so that seems like a good moneymaker on election night. They've got some themed drink ideas going like "the Canadian Passport."

I think it's nice to make it social, actually. Ideally, you'd have some great people at your house who are good for talking to and cracking jokes with, or at least one person. I think it's better to interact with people near a TV that you can pause and mute and rewind and where you can change channels. Does the theater mute or switch channels when the commercials come on? And it's hard to talk and fool around with other people when there's a big movie screen looming over you. I don't want my talking heads to be bigger than my own head. It's a matter of preference. Much as I like Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper and "False Toobin." I need to remote control them.

"Islam is an idea, a religion, but according to the public prosecution service, you have a lot of room to criticize ideas, but when it comes to population groups, it’s a whole different matter."

"His remarks touched the very being of this population group. You cannot choose to be part of a population group or not; it’s a group that’s decided by birth, so it’s a whole different matter."

Said Frans Zonneveld, the prosecutor in the hate-speech trial of Geert Wilders (in the Netherlands). 
As Mr. Zonneveld put it, the case is about a conflict between freedom of speech and the freedom from discrimination. “These are two essential rights in the Dutch rule of law,” he said, “and it’s clear that these two rights are conflicting in this case.”...

“It is a travesty that I have to stand trial because I spoke about fewer Moroccans,” [said Wilders, who refuses to attend the trial]. “Not because they despise all Moroccans or want all Moroccans out of the country, but because they are sick and tired of the nuisance and terror caused by so many Moroccans.... If speaking about this is punishable, then the Netherlands is no longer a free country but a dictatorship.”
Speaking about discrimination should be countered by speech against discrimination, and let people decide which is the better viewpoint. The prosecution is relying on the argument that speech about discrimination is discrimination. But anyone who smashes those 2 ideas together is quite simply rejecting the idea of free speech. 

"Forty-five percent of voters say they agree with Trump’s claim that Clinton's email scandal is worse than Watergate."

According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll (conducted after Comey's letter to Congress).

I wonder if people being polled today really know enough about what really happened in Watergate to use it as a standard of comparison. I remember growing up in a time when Teapot Dome was the standard of comparison. Worse than Teapot Dome was what people said, but no one ever quizzed them about Teapot Dome.

Nixon was a contemptible, horrible man — as we knew him, not personally, but from press reports. And so we came to understand that Watergate was the epitome of a scandal, which was convenient, because we lived through it, and then we never had to feel embarrassed about not knowing much about Teapot Dome.

But you kids today — Watergate is for you what Teapot Dome was to me — the symbol of presidential scandal, to be used in cogitations about whether something new is worse. So thanks, everyone, for answering Politico's question.

Now, can I add a little subtlety? Do you remember how Watergate looked on the eve of the 1972 election? We knew about the Watergate break-in when we went to the polls. Here's how we voted:

Here's a Watergate chronology. The break-in occurred in June 1972. The burglars, caught in the act, were indicted on September 15th. Nixon had made an announcement on August 30th that his counsel John Dean had done an investigation that determined that no one in the White House was involved, but on September 29th, WaPo reported that Attorney General John Mitchell "controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats." On October 10th, WaPo reported:
FBI agents have established that the Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon's re-election and directed by officials of the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President.
So that's what people had to think about when we reelected Nixon in the biggest landslide ever. (I was 21 and it was the first time I was eligible to vote, though the voting age was suddenly 18. All that youth vote — which represented a lot of opposition to the war (and, especially, the draft) — wasn't enough to stop Nixon. Like everyone I knew, I voted for McGovern.)

The news that there were audiotapes of White House conversations didn't come out until July of the following year, and without these tapes, Nixon would have hung onto the presidency. The slow roll out of the Watergate scandal went on for more than a year after that before Nixon resigned. It was August 8, 1974. Almost 2 years after that landslide election.

So let's look back in 2 years and see how Hillary's big trouble looks compared to Watergate. But if you want to compare it to Watergate now, try comparing it to how Watergate looked on the eve of the 1972 election. And think about what it was like to go through those 2 years from landslide election to forcing the President to resign. What an ordeal! But I'm not saying that if Hillary Clinton gets elected — even by a slim margin — that she'll be swamped by scandal the way Nixon was. The press won't be straining to take her out, and for all the wars we are fighting, there's nothing like Vietnam.

"If ruling Democrats hold themselves to the high moral standards they impose on the people they govern, they would follow a simple process..."

"They would demand that Mrs. Clinton step down, immediately, and let her vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, stand in her place."

Wrote John Kass in a much-linked column in the Chicago Tribune. That was published a couple days ago. I feel I said the same thing a while back. Oh, here it is, from August 8th, responding to a NYT piece called "Mike Pence Should Get Donald Trump to Withdraw." My post heading was: "And Tim Kaine should get Hillary to withdraw."

I took a poll. Here's how you voted:

BUT: At this point, 22 million people have already voted. I hate this new system of early voting, but it's the game as it is being played this time around. It's too late for a drastic change. And yet, Clinton could make a statement that if she is elected and X occurs, she will have the courage and integrity to resign, and her worthy running mate, Tim Kaine, will become President. But what is X? And would you trust Clinton to follow through? Given that X would have something to do with her being an immense liar, I would expect a lawyerly explanation of why X is not X.

"Vetting a former spy for the nation’s highest office isn’t easy, considering the classified nature of his government service."

"This has left McMullin vulnerable to attacks he cannot publicly address. But I interviewed six former CIA officers who worked with McMullin during his 10 years inside the agency. What emerged was a picture of a young case officer who volunteered for duty in the world’s most dangerous places and had a unique talent for recruiting members of extremist organizations as assets.... His campaign has garnered national press attention, but McMullin himself had avoided much scrutiny until polls this month showed him virtually even with Trump and Hillary Clinton in Utah. Then the attacks began.... Political professionals and pundits often lash out at what they don’t understand; for them McMullin, who spent most of his career in the shadows, is an enigma...."

From "Inside Evan McMullin’s 10 years undercover in the CIA," by Josh Rogin.

(And, yeah: garnered.)

"I always wanted to go somewhere which could be all about musical appreciation, to hear someone dig really deeply into their record collection and explore their private passion."

"These speakers were built totally without compromise. When you have equipment this good, it can deliver such high quality that it emotionally connects you to the music. We’re not afraid to say that listening to music is a very magical thing."

Said Paul Noble, the creative director of Spiritland, a "listening club," a place where you sit around listening to vinyl record albums played on very high-quality sound equipment.

Also quoted at the link, the bassist Peter Hook (of New Order and Joy Division):
“In [the 1980s], because [sound systems] were analog, they had a warmth that now has to be created... It’s very difficult to get the fullness of the old days, which is hard to manufacture. It’s always a bit too clicky and a bit too digital. I think digital has a lot to answer for.”
Back in the 80s — and the 70s — it was the norm to be an audiophile or to think you ought to be one or act like one. People were very opinionated about various brands of sound equipment and were willing to spend a bizarre proportion of their income on the right equipment, and of course, they could discern the subtle differences. But I never heard of going out just to listen to recorded music. You'd be at someone's house or apartment and they'd show off their wonderful audio equipment and you would admire it. They'd play their records for you.

But nothing was better than the 60s, when we had little record-players in suitcase-like boxes or maybe we traded up to a stereo that had a record changer (so you could stack up the records and they'd drop automatically). I'd like to see a new kind of commercial establishment based on the even more authentic warm analog experience of playing old records on a vintage record player. The clicks that you hear will be from scratches. I could open up such a place. Get an old Magnavox record changer like this from eBay, and I've still got my old vinyl records, collected from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, waiting inside their cat-scratched sleeves for one last chance at a spin.