December 10, 2016

"American intelligence agencies have concluded with 'high confidence' that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump..."

The NYT reports, citing "senior administration officials."
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
How does that evidence support the finding that the Russians were trying to help Trump and hurt Hillary — as opposed to just hacking into everything they could? Are senior Obama administration officials reliable in making that leap or is this political junk?

There's also the evidence that "it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public" (through Wikileaks). You have to interpret that evidence. Republicans say "their networks were not compromised, asserting that only the accounts of individual Republicans were attacked." The NYT cites a "senior government official" corroborating that position.

The NYT also raises the theory that the Russians — like most people — assumed Hillary was going to win, and they weren't trying to defeat her, but undercut her presidency. In this theory, they weren't so concerned with hurting Trump because they didn't think he'd win.

I'm reading these new conclusions as political junk.

"Rex W. Tillerson, the president and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has emerged as President-elect Donald J. Trump’s top choice to become secretary of state..."

The NYT reports:
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, has been described by Mr. Trump’s advisers as still in the running. But Mr. Trump has privately said conflicting things on his views of Mr. Romney, advisers said, and has indicated to several people that he is unlikely to be named. Mr. Romney harshly criticized Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign....

One initial contender for the secretary-of-state post, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a loyal Trump ally, is no longer in the running after removing his name from contention on Nov. 29, according to a statement Friday from the transition team.

A man brought what he thought was a breast implant into a police station. He'd found it in the water...

... and thought it might be evidence that a woman's body was somewhere in there — maybe a murder victim.

She's smiling because it's a jellyfish!

"It is indescribably painful to see the death of our friends being used to attack the form of safety we have built in each other."

Says the letter from former residents of an Oakland warehouse arts institution, who are worried about the crackdown on artist collectives after the Ghost Ship fire.
"We are just a few days into a nightmare that is still unfolding," the letter said. "But already people outside of this community are calling for a crackdown on art spaces."
There's the safety imposed by outsiders — the safety of fire codes — and there's the safety collectivist artists have in each other — the safety of togetherness and low rent. 

"The atmosphere, the lighting, the spaciousness of that upstairs area, it felt like we were in a dream," said one San Francisco DJ:
"The reality is that people will make their art happen and will make these events happen, whether it's a safe space or not."
Safe space! 

The DJ repurposes a cultural buzz phrase.

ADDED: I'm picturing a movie, sold with a slogan like: Sometimes, the only safe space is the least safe space of all.

"Dylan was absolutely worst [croquet] player I’d ever seen … a little spastic gnome."

Random fact from a long article, "What Bob Dylan Learned In Harvard Square."

Club owner Paula Kelley later described Dylan at the time “as a really scrawny, shabby kid … the only person I’ve ever seen with green teeth. Singing in-between sets for nothing than going out and saying he’d sang at the Club 47.”
Dylan doesn't even mention Harvard, Cambridge, or Club 47 in his memoir "Chronicles: Volume I." (Still waiting on Volume II. Maybe that "Volume I" subtitle was some kind of joke.)

Michael Flynn — Trump's choice for National Security Adviser — says there is Arabic signage marking "lanes of entry" for "radicalized Muslims" to enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Back in August, he said:
"I know from my friends in the Border Patrol in CBP that there are countries — radical Islamist countries, state-sponsored — that are cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the 'lanes of entry' into our country... And I have personally seen the photos of the signage along those paths that are in Arabic. They're like way points along that path as you come in. Primarily, in this case the one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that say, in Arabic, 'this way, move to this point.' It's unbelievable. This rise of Muslims and radicalized Muslims coming into our country illegally is something that we should pay very, very close attention to."
My first reaction was: He sounds too nutty to be National Security Adviser. But it's possible that he's correct about this. It's a particular fact about the real world that reporters should be able to verify (if it's true). My link above goes to CNN, which tries unsuccessfully to get Flynn to clarify and then goes to one representative of Border Patrol personnel:
Shawn Moran, a vice president at the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union of border patrol agents that endorsed Trump, told CNN's KFile the group was not aware of the signs Flynn referenced, but that they were concerned about the threat of terrorism at the southern border.
That's perfectly noncommittal. And that's as far as CNN gets into its investigation of the facts. It switches to talking about how "Flynn has often promoted conspiracy theories." Ironically, is an example of the conspiracy-theory style of thinking: This sounds like other things that fit a pattern and the pattern is really shaping up in an important and exciting way... what else can I find to fit this pattern?

Nominating Ben Carson for HUD Secretary, Trump spoke of "urban renewal": Doesn't that connote something racist?

Trump's press release said, in part:
"Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."
Campaigning in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late October he'd used the phrase once, at the beginning of a speech titled "New Deal For Black America":
It is great to be here in Charlotte to discuss an issue that means so much to me. That is the issue of urban renewal, and the rebuilding of our inner cities. Today I want to talk about how to grow the African-American middle class, and to provide a new deal for Black America. That deal is grounded in three promises: safe communities, great education, and high-paying jobs....
At the NYT, Emily Badger expresses anxiety about the phrase "urban renewal" (and she doesn't ignore that other historically resonant phrase, "New Deal"):
His language has an odd ring to it, not solely for marrying Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal with the post-World War II era of urban renewal. If Mr. Trump was reaching for a broadly uplifting concept — renewal — he landed instead on a term with very specific, and very negative, connotations for the population he says he aims to help....

The term “urban renewal” dates to the Housing Act of 1954; its 1949 predecessor called the same policy “urban redevelopment.” Under these laws, the federal government gave cities the power and money to condemn “slum” neighborhoods, clear them through eminent domain, then turn over the land to private developers at cheap rates for projects that included higher-end housing, hospitals, hotels, shopping centers and college expansions....

Urban renewal was meant to wipe clean poor, deteriorating neighborhoods, while boosting tax coffers, stimulating private investment and luring middle-class residents and shoppers back into the city.....
Did Trump mean to evoke these details when he used the old phrase? Badger says it's a "mystery" and compares it to the mystery of whether Trump knew the historical background when he had that phone conversation with the president of Taiwan.

My guess is that Trump not only knows the historical background, he intends to leave us off-balance — tangled up in the mystery of whether he knows. But I can't solve the mystery of what he intended to do by using the old phrase that James Baldwin once said was a euphemism for "Negro removal."

We know Trump has said "eminent domain is wonderful" and:
"If you have a factory, where you have thousands of jobs, you need eminent domain, it’s called economic development... Now you’re employing thousands of people and you’re able to build a factory, you’re able to build an Apple computer center, where thousands of people can work. You can do that, or you can say, ‘Let the man have his house.'"
I recommend assuming that Trump knows what he's doing. The alternative assumption — that he's a bumbling idiot — is too easy, and if you are wrong, you will be left in the dust. But to say that he knows what he's doing is not to know what he has in mind. It's easy to fall back on the old accusations of racism and to take advantage of his use of the old phrase to dangle that theory in front of NYT readers — who snap up the bait. The highest-rated comment there says:
The article makes clear "urban renewal" is code for racist policies. And the "political correctness" that clearly drove you to vote for Trump is coded language for racism.
But maybe Trump himself was baiting people like Badger and that commenter to talk about him like that and look like surly pessimists who make reckless accusations of racism over nothing. And here he has nominated that lovely man Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

December 9, 2016

How the GOP could pick up 2 more seats in the Senate.

Trump is considering Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic Senator from North Dakota, and Joe Manchin, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, for Cabinet positions — Heitkamp for Energy or Agriculture and Manchin for Energy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer this week to discuss a potential open Senate seat... Heitkamp is expected to face a difficult reelection in 2018 and Cramer has long been eyeing the seat. Last week, Cramer said he would be interested in throwing his hat into the ring for a special election in North Dakota if Heitkamp leaves the Senate.
Manchin also faces an election in 2018.

ADDED: It looks as though West Virginia, unlike North Dakota, fills a Senate vacancy by gubernatorial appointment. Thus, Manchin would be replaced by the Democratic governor, Tomblin, and it seems unlikely that these Cabinet appointments would lead to 2 more Senate seats.

Kirk Douglas is still alive — and today he's 100 years old.

Happy Birthday, Kirk Douglas!

From his Wikipedia page:
Growing up, Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread to help his family. Later, he delivered newspapers and during his youth worked at more than forty different jobs before getting a job acting....

Douglas' acting talents were noticed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, which gave him a special scholarship. One of his classmates was Betty Joan Perske (later to become better known as Lauren Bacall)... Bacall wrote that she "had a wild crush on Kirk"... During their time together, she learned that he had no money, and that he once spent the night in jail since he had no place to sleep. She once gave him her uncle's old coat to keep warm: "I thought he must be frozen in the winter... He was thrilled and grateful."...

What a face! What a presence! Here's a list of all his movies, many of which I have not seen. So I'll just say I loved him in "Lust for Life" and "Paths of Glory." (And though I have the DVD, I've never watched "Spartacus.") 

Fake news: fake boos.

Clicking on the first link:

Clicking on the second link:

Clicking on the third link:

Creating a "fake news" tag and applying it retrospectively.

I'd been avoiding it, sticking to "journalism" and "propaganda" and "fake" — all well-established tags on this blog. But today, I gave in — because "fake news" is not just the subject of fake news. It also means the deployment of the term "fake news" and that's something I need to keep track of.

But having applied the tag retrospectively with a word search and an automatic function, I had to go in by hand and "keep track of" it backwards, into the past. There are recent utterly on-point applications of the tag. I just want to highlight a few older things:

May 5, 2016: "Gloria Steinem hopes Donald Trump will lose 'in a very definitive and humiliating way."
She wants humiliation. What is that about?
Oh, Gloria. Grandiosity goes before the fall. Your imperious arrogance looks so stupid now. As for the "fake news" tag. It didn't belong and was removed.

April 11, 2016: "It's sad for the paper. You know, it used to be considered a major paper. And now, it's like a super-market throw-out."
Said Donald Trump, invited to comment on the stupid Onion-like front page of yesterday's Boston Globe, which was all fake news about the horrors of an imagined Trump presidency.
That's me, using the term before the use of the term became a thing. And it's in the context of anti-Trump fake news. I'd forgotten about that Boston Globe front page story:
Is that ground-zero of the "fake news" subject? Maybe all the later effort to point to pro-Trump things as fake was generated to cover up the embarrassing Boston Globe screwup.

October 27, 2015: "I am convinced... that the way the Drive-Bys and the Democrat Party and the left are attempting to reconstitute their media monopoly is via Twitter and Facebook." That's a quote from Rush Limbaugh. He continues:
"In a way, the sewer of Twitter and Facebook is the left attempting to corral everyone into their playground, their way of thinking, and create a new legacy media to replace what the big three networks had back in 1988. You populate Twitter and Facebook with enough political activists disguised as citizens in their underwear in their basements just tapping out comments and posting left-wing news stories from AP, Reuters, Washington Post, New York Times, and that's how you reconstitute your monopoly. You don't constitute a network media monopoly, but you constitute a mode-of-thinking monopoly by transferring your polluted, perverted way of thinking to social media to infect as many minds as possible who are incapable of critical thinking anymore, because it isn't taught."
So Rush was complaining about fake news more than a year before the election, and it was in the context of liberal media trying to control everything. The flip today is that you have people like Hillary Clinton contending that social media needs to be regulated to control "fake news" that hurts liberals.

December 8, 2014: "Credulous journalist ponders why journalists are so credulous." Here, "fake" comes up in the context of a phrase that should be seen as an ancestor of "fake news": "fake but accurate":
The expression "fake but accurate" is really all we need to understand the problem, and it's pathetic that journalists at the WaPo level haven't fully internalized the lessons of these old scandals. Tweeting one day and cogitating over the general problem the next — it's so sloppy, so lazy, so stupid.
July 10, 2014: "It's hard to fathom why a movie about Rathergate — with Robert Redford as Dan Rather — is being made."
Years ago, Redford played the role of another newsman, Bob Woodward, in "All the President's Men," the story of 2 dogged journalists who were wildly successful. They brought down a President and sparked an American love affair with "investigative journalism." What's become of that today? Maybe this new movie will seriously address what has happened to the profession that Bob Woodward (and his partner Carl Bernstein) made us see as heroic and centered on truth-seeking. In Rathergate, a once-illustrious network, centered on ruining a presidential candidate, faked a document.

The movie will be called "Truth." Ironically? I doubt it....

"Trump sticks the landing by making his favorability chart look like a huge phallus and tricking @HuffingtonPost into publishing it."

Tweets Scott Adams.

Linking to this:

"It was the delicate, feathered tail of a tiny dinosaur."

Preserved in amber.

"This is the second A-list lady star to wear sheer hose this week."

"We’re calling it. Officially a trend."

NYT anti-Trump headlines are getting pretty funny.

This morning I'm seeing: "Trump Is Still Not Very Popular, and His Problem With Women Could Return." Sounds like a petulant teenager.

And "Grandiose Ideas for Donald Trump Inaugural Give Way to Traditional." What were the grandiose ideas? All I'm seeing is that Trump's friend Mark Burnett (producer of "The Apprentice") thought of "a parade up Fifth Avenue" and "a helicopter ride to Washington from New York," but it sounds as though the idea has pretty much always been to do another traditional inauguration. I'd say it's already very weird if not crazy to many people that Donald Trump will be President, so doing something weird/crazy would actually be less weird than inserting the man into the most traditional inaugural setting. It's like why the Marx Brothers did "A Night at the Opera" rather than "A Night at the Burlesque Theater."

I'm most amused by the first line of the "Trump Is Still Not Very Popular" article:
Hillary Clinton, in a rare postelection public appearance, said on Thursday that “lives are at risk” from an “epidemic of malicious fake news.”
Well, I get my fake news from the NYT. Is my life in danger? Or is fake-news'll-kill-ya part of the fake news?
“It’s a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly,” she said at the Capitol, days after a gunman was arrested at a Washington pizza restaurant that had been linked to a fictitious child sex ring.

Speaking at the unveiling of a portrait of the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who is retiring, Mrs. Clinton joked that the occasion was not the postelection visit she had once pictured.

“This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving,” she said. “But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I thought it’d be a good idea to come out.”
No, it's actually a good idea to go into the woods. With or without selfies. Showing up at the unveiling of a portrait of Harry Reid is just really sad. But you made news. Fake news. Fake news about fake news. Look out! It's killing us.

Now, why does an article with the headline "Trump Is Still Not Very Popular, and His Problem With Women Could Return" begin with that dismal Hillary story? It's actually a collection of 10 little stories. Only 2 were selected for the headline — the 2 that makes Trump look worst.

The Return of the Problem With Women bit is justified by an ad for a bacon cheeseburger:

That is pretty atrocious. What it has to do with Trump is that he's picked Andrew F. Puzder for Secretary of Labor, and Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl's Jr. (along with Hardee's, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito). Puzder was quoted last year saying "I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American." If I was going to defend an ad like that, I'd say it's a brilliant parody of all the ads that have used sexual innuendo to sell a product. Pushing beyond light innuendo has been going on since that "Take it off, take it all off" Noxzema shaving cream ad, which seared the Noxema brand into our memory in 1967:

The subtle use of sex to sell products happens in ads all the time. It's funny to just be blatant. It's like an SNL ad parody. And there's an inherent limit to how far you can go: Do you want that shaving cream on your face? Do you want that bacon cheeseburger in your mouth? You have to sell the product, and you can't make it disgusting.

And I thought this poor girl was mistreated by the original NYT headline!

By "original," I mean the one I saw when I wrote the post yesterday: "How would you like to be the one person photographed to appear under the headline 'Political Divide on Campuses Hardens After Trump’s Victory'?" I said:
I had to laugh at this grim-faced young woman in her shadowy Ann Arbor bedroom, embodying post-election trauma for the NYT.

Oddly enough, this person was pro-Trump. She started out "ecstatic"....
But her mood of celebration quickly faded when students held an evening vigil on campus — to mourn the results — and her biology teacher suspended class on the assumption, Ms. Delekta said, that students would be too upset to focus.

She was outraged. “Nobody has died,” Ms. Delekta said. “The United States has not died. Democracy is more alive than ever. Simply put, the American people voted and Trump won.”
But click on the link to the article, and you'll see — at least if you're going there this minute — that the headline has become "On Campus, Trump Fans Say They Need ‘Safe Spaces.'" Now, the grim-faced young woman who let the NYT photographer into her bedroom looks like a big whiner who demanded a safe space! And she's the one who chided others for getting coddled:
She circulated an online petition and accused the university president of catering to the liberal majority by suggesting that “their ideology was superior to the ideology of their peers,” as she put it, when he sent out an email publicizing the vigil and listing counseling resources for students upset by the election. Three days later, she was invited to meet with the president in his office.

“I was completely shocked that he even read the letter,” she said. “That was definitely a new thing. It was very exciting.”
Quite aside from the distinct disservice to this particular 20-year-old individual, why is the new headline connecting the demand for "safe spaces" to the pro-Trump side? The first 5 paragraphs are about how Trump opponents were acting out grief and how the university administration was proactively offering psychological support (not "safe spaces," but counseling).

If we keep reading, do we ever encounter support for the proposition that it's the Trump fans who are demanding safe spaces?

There's a video from the woman in the first photo, Amanda Delekta, and she's talking about going to a biology class that began with the teacher saying she couldn't respect anyone who voted for Trump. Delekta only says there should be mutual respect within the shared space of the classroom, not that anything like a "safe space" must be provided.

There's the conclusory sentence:
Conservative students who voted for Mr. Trump say that even though their candidate won, their views are not respected. Some are adopting the language of the left, saying they need a “safe space” to express their opinions — a twist resented by left-leaning protesters.
"Safe space" is in quotes, but who is quoted? Where has this happened? And have "left-leaning protesters" really expressed resentment over this demand that I'm not sure has even been made?

Is this the fake news I've been hearing about?

I keep reading this long article, which is by Anemona Hartocollis, and I'm not finding anything to support the headline. Way down in the text there's this:
Ibtihal Makki, a self-confident senior in a pink hijab who is studying biopsychology and neuroscience and is chairwoman of a student government diversity committee, objected to conservatives on campus saying they needed safe spaces to express their views.
“To turn around and say that they need safe spaces after their candidate won I think is ironic and hypocritical,” Ms. Makki said.

In the past, she added, conservatives did not understand the need for safe spaces, “because they never needed it, because they don’t have any of the identities that made them feel that way.”
So it's hearsay from Makki?
White conservatives like Ms. Delekta...
Delekta is white? More hearsay. Does Delekta self-identify as white?
... Ms. Makki said, are not as vulnerable as someone with dark skin or who is wearing a hijab, because she cannot be identified as a conservative by any outward signs.
Okay, I get that Makki called Deletka a hypocrite, but did she have access to some quote from Deletka that isn't in the article or did the NYT reporter paraphrase Deletka's comments in a way that introduced the term "safe space" and elicited a reaction that got Makki to say what the reporter wanted said? These are very young people, Makki and Deletka, and it's wrong to use them to say something the reporter has decided ought to be said. If that's what happened, this is fake news.

By the way, Makki raised an interesting point that could have been further examined: People can be hated because of things they can't hide (like your race if you have a very dark or very light skin color) and because of things they can hide (like your race if you have a medium skin tone or your beliefs and opinions or your sexual orientation). But I wouldn't assume that it's easier when the attribute can be hidden. It's different to have a choice whether to be out and proud or to hide.

When it comes to political opinions, you can keep them to yourself, and the ballot is nicely secret. That left a lot of people hiding their support for Trump. Trump haters made it socially if not physically dangerous to openly support Trump, and so they laid the groundwork for the shock that came on election night.

Do you want political opinion to be out where you can see it and talk about it? Or do you want people to withhold their opinions? It seems to me that Delekta was saying: Let's have it out in the open. Let's have that marketplace ideas. We can be together. That's the opposite of a demand for a safe space.

And it seems that Makki is saying that she feels vulnerable because of things about her that she can't hide, even though she is choosing to wear religious garb. Is she saying because of her beliefs — which are inside her head — she feels threatened by what she uses her head to imagine is in Delekta's head? Where does all that get you? To a demand that everyone repress whatever they can because a few things — like very dark skin color — cannot be repressed?

I wish the article had explored some of these depths! Why not invite Delekta and Makki to sit down together and talk and see where they go instead of inducing one to talk about the other behind her back?

The anti-Trump Festivus pole, installed next to the 100-foot-tall Christmas tree in Delray Beach, and the Satanic pentagram in the park in Boca Raton.

It's interesting reading about these 2 displays the morning after my last law school class — which was about how sometimes the government gets itself into the position where it has to accept displays like this. (There's a Supreme Court case that said the city of Columbus, Ohio violated freedom of speech when it refused to allow the KKK to put up a cross on the statehouse grounds.)

The pentagram display in Boca Raton doesn't seem to be from an actual Satanist:
The man behind the display is Preston Smith. The city of Boca Raton gave him a permit to put up the display and the Freedom from Religion Foundation provided a Bill of Rights banner that accompanies the pentagram. In a statement, Smith said in part, "Love trumps hate. The First Amendment must be protected, including the freedom to offend."
Local "interfaith clergy" put out a statement saying they believe in freedom of speech but:
The use of satanic symbols is offensive, and harmful to our community’s well being. We find it a shameful and hypocritical way to advocate for freedom from religion. 
I think what we need here is for some real Satanists to step up and object to the hate speech against them. Why is their tradition being appropriated by nonbelievers as a symbol of hate? The proponents of non-hate seem to be hating on a minority group that has traditionally been marginalized and subjected to opprobrium. How is kicking this group around a call to love? Twisted thinking!

Meanwhile, in Delray Beach — a quick 9-mile drive — you've got your Festivus pole — wrapped in an upside-down American flag and topped with a "Make America Great Again" hat and stuck with a safety pin. The man behind the pole, one Chez Stevens, characterizes the pole as an anti-Trump statement.

Unsurprisingly, the hat has been stolen. The pentagram, for its part, has attracted spray paint.

Random skirmishes from the Florida front of the war on Christmas.

December 8, 2016

Goodbye to John Glenn.

The astronaut hero was 95. 

I remember the TV dragged into the classroom in 1962 and the announcement that we were to witness "history in the making"....

"This is when I knew he’s a true Republican."

Said Shirley MacLaine about Clint Eastwood:
"Quite brilliant, and funny… because he’s so laconic and doesn’t know it. I adore him… I remember when we were doing Two Mules for Sister Sara, his horse was acting up. This is when I knew he’s a true Republican: He got off the horse, looked at the horse, and socked him."
I ran into that today because — as noted earlier — we just watched "Being There." I was looking for more material about the character MacLaine played in that movie. Did "Eve" really love Chance the gardener? Not only is the answer yes, but Chance loved her, I think, because MacLaine says: 
"Two years [after I made 'Being There'], I’m at a restaurant and [producer] Dick Zanuck walks up to me and says, ‘What’s it like to have a love affair with Peter Sellers?’ I said, ‘He’s not my type, and I didn’t. What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘I would go into Peter’s dressing room, and he would be on the phone with you doing sex talk.’ I tried to put all this together… It was Dick who figured out, ‘Listen, he became Chauncey Gardner, he was in love with the character you played, and if he had interrupted it with a lunch or dinner, the whole illusion had been shattered.’”

How would you like to be the one person photographed to appear under the headline "Political Divide on Campuses Hardens After Trump’s Victory"?

I had to laugh at this grim-faced young woman in her shadowy Ann Arbor bedroom, embodying post-election trauma for the NYT.

Oddly enough, this person was pro-Trump. She started out "ecstatic"....
But her mood of celebration quickly faded when students held an evening vigil on campus — to mourn the results — and her biology teacher suspended class on the assumption, Ms. Delekta said, that students would be too upset to focus.

She was outraged. “Nobody has died,” Ms. Delekta said. “The United States has not died. Democracy is more alive than ever. Simply put, the American people voted and Trump won.”

"He wanted to 'shine some light on it'... he felt his 'heart breaking over the thought of innocent people suffering.'"

"The intel on this wasn’t 100 percent," but he had the "impression something nefarious was happening."

He "just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way."

"All of us fundamentally believe that those are students. Those are also people that want to join the Armed Forces."

"They gave their name, their address, their phone number where they are. They’re trying to achieve the American dream. No fault of their own, their parents came here. They are something we should hold up and embrace. We are clear, as mayors, that these are DREAMers who are seeking the American dream, and we should embrace them rather than do a bait and switch."

Said Rahm Emanuel, explaining what he'd talked about in his private meeting with Donald Trump.

I teach my last class today.

I look forward to never having to require anyone to read something or to force them to listen to me. It's not just about freedom for me. It's about freedom from me.

UPDATE: Done! Still exams to write and grade and loose ends to tie up. The official end of the semester is January 12th — my birthday.

"One of the benefits and concerns about high protein intake, especially animal protein, is that it tends to make cells multiply faster."

"That’s good in early life, when you’re a growing child. But in later life, this is one of the fundamental processes that increase the risk of cancer."

Said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, quoted in "Can You Get Too Much Protein?" (NYT).

Interviewing for a job with Trump, compared to interviewing for a job with Obama.

An interesting contrast slips out in this NYT article "What It’s Like to Apply for a Job in Donald Trump’s White House"
Mr. Trump’s interview style... is direct but conversational, according to people who have sat opposite him. He did not take notes or appear to refer to a set list of questions, but he did have dossiers on his visitors and often displayed intricate knowledge of their backgrounds and experience...

“If you filibuster, he’ll cut you off,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who was initially in the running to be Mr. Trump’s secretary of state but has since said he is not interested in a cabinet post. “He wants to know what you can do for him.”...

President Obama... interviewed a single finalist for each post in most cases, usually in a one-on-one discussion meant to confirm an already well-established conclusion that the candidate would be right for the job, said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior transition official in 2008.

“In some cases, he knew who he wanted and it was a question of convincing them to do it,” Mr. Pfeiffer said, citing examples like Hillary Clinton, who became Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, and Robert M. Gates, whom he persuaded to stay on as defense secretary....
Trump interviews multiple candidates for the same job and presses them on what they will do to solve problems. Obama only saw people after they'd been selected and only for the purpose of getting them to accept him. As if he were the interviewee! So the question is: Who chose those people that were brought in to work with Obama? 

"Policy wonks like me have wondered why more lower-skilled men aren’t adapting" by taking up "girly jobs."

Writes Bloomberg View columnist Betsey Stevenson. (She's also a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan and has been on the Council of Economic Advisers and in the U.S. Department of Labor during the Obama administration.)
A wealthier, better-educated and older population has allowed professional and business services to flourish, and boosted demand for various kinds of care and help. Over the last 20 years, the education and health services sector have added 9 million jobs, while the manufacturing sector has shrunk by 5 million.... 
Lower-skilled men don’t seem to want service jobs. As the goods sector has declined, so has the labor-force participation of men without a college degree. Today only 83 percent of prime-age men with a high school degree or less are employed or actively seeking work. In 1964, 97 percent were.

Why don’t [lower-skilled men] take care of their children when they are out of work? Why don’t they take jobs as home health aides? Or sign up for degrees in nursing? One problem is that these occupations conflict with traditional notions of masculinity....
Stevenson thinks Trump got support from people attached to these traditional notions: "He won in part because he promised to return us to a time when men are strong and work in manly jobs." But since these jobs are not coming back — Stevenson assures us — Trump ought to help by "chang[ing] the culture" to "make girly jobs appeal to manly men."

The Bloomberg column is obviously not intended to be read by the poorly educated.

Those who will change the culture and affect those men's minds might be amused and enthused by phrases like "girly jobs" and "manly men," but you don't oust the traditional notions by using the words that heighten the desire to cling to the ideas they represent. You don't tell a man who likes his masculinity that he ought to do something "girly." Words like that only work behind the scenes, among the well-educated, talking about the poorly educated.

Interestingly enough, Barack Obama originally wanted to bring manly jobs to working class men. His economic advisers — perhaps including Stevenson — were telling him in 2007 that the new economy had health care jobs for lower-skilled male workers:
But Obama shook his head.

“Look, these are guys,” he said. “A lot of them see health care, being nurse’s aides, as women’s work. They need to do something that fits with how they define themselves as men.” ...

As the room chewed over the non-PC phrase “women’s work,” trying to square the senator’s point with their analytical models, [Alan] Krueger—who was chief economist at the Department of Labor in the mid-1990s at the tender age of thirty-four—sat there silently, thinking that in all his years of studying men and muscle, he had never used that term. But Obama was right. Krueger wondered how his latest research on happiness and well-being might take into account what Obama had put his finger on: that work is identity, that men like to build, to have something to show for their sweat and toil.

“Infrastructure,” he blurted out. “Rebuilding infrastructure.”

Obama nodded and smiled, seeing it instantly. “Now we’re talking. . . . Okay, let’s think about how that would work as a real centerpiece.... Don’t even get me started about potholed highways and collapsing bridges,” Obama said....
Somehow he got talked out of that, and now here's Betsey Stephenson trying to talk Trump out of it.

"As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden."

We just re-watched "Being There":

Did we watch "Being There" now, because of Trump? Did "Being There" amaze and distress us with its continued relevance because of Trump?

Actually, not at all. Peter Sellers's character — Chance/Chauncey Gardiner — was just about the complete opposite of Donald Trump. Chance was a man who seemed to come out of nowhere and to make statements about gardens that other people perceived as brilliant political metaphor — "the most refreshing and optimistic statements I've heard in a very, very long time." His lack of any known background counted as a plus to the rich insiders who got the idea of advancing him to the presidency: "A man's past cripples him. His background turns into a swamp and invites scrutiny."

That's much closer to the story of Barack Obama than Donald Trump.

Trump has been so well known for so long. He had a huge weight of past baggage, and it didn't cripple him. He had that "swamp" of a background that invited scrutiny, but he made it anyway. He didn't make it because rich insiders chose him to serve their interests. He was the rich insider himself, and the other rich insiders were the opposite of delighted by his communication style. Trump didn't make simple abstract statements that worked because voters projected their own hopes onto him. He blabbed endlessly about all sorts of concrete problems and played upon our fears and our sense of loss at least as much as optimism.

(You can buy "Being There" at Amazon.)

The NYT wanted "Hairspray Live!" to "amaze and distress us with its continued relevance in 2016."

The Broadway musical was the latest show to get the live-TV treatment (previously seen in "The Sound of Music" and "Peter Pan" and — I'm losing track — "Grease"?).

The musical, which came out in 2002, was based on a film that came out in 1988, and it told a story of a fictional dance show that was on TV in 1962. So TV in 1962 became film in 1988 and musical theater in 2002 and got back to TV in 2016.

But the hope of the NYT was that it would be relevant in 2016.
Based on the 1988 John Waters film, the musical’s story of social outcasts and racial barriers is set in 1962, and it should amaze and distress us with its continued relevance in 2016. The broadcast, though, didn’t generate as much power it could have because of all the shots of the cast members golf-carting from one set to another, of viewing parties in various cities and so on.
What are we talking about? Who watches of a bunch of singing actors on TV knocking themselves out to produce a big live show? Might these viewers get a kick out of the backstage stuff, golf carts and all? The NYT wants "us" to be amazed and distressed. Distressed?! By the continued relevance?

Yes, the show is about racial prejudice — overcoming it with song and dance and teenage enthusiasm. The elite-media hope is that we'll watch this theater-on-TV antic and think — not Wow, Maddie Baillio is a star and I love Jennifer Hudson — but: America still struggles to overcome its shameful history of racial oppression. Or even: How tragic, the innocent dreams of these teenagers, who could not have imagined that half a century later racist America would elect Donald J. Trump!

I must give the NYT credit for not mentioning Trump. I felt I was being nudged to think about Trump, and that caused me to Google and see all the news outlets that covered "Hairspray Live!" in terms of Donald Trump. (And "Hairspray" is not actually about hairspray, which does call Donald Trump to mind.)

I'll just cherry pick one Trump-focused review of last night's big show. This is from A.V. Club:
Hairspray ... arrives as America is still grappling with the notion of having Donald Trump as a president...

[A]s Trump was busy attacking private citizens on Twitter, Hairspray Live! was celebrating the idea that we’re stronger together than we are apart. That’s just the kind of jubilant, cathartic message a lot of people need to hear right now....

Favorite celebrity cameo: It’s a tossup between Sean Hayes as plus-sized clothing storeowner Mr. Pinky, and Rose O’Donnell as the high school gym teacher (a piece of casting that feels like an explicit ‘fuck you’ to Trump).
Somehow the show's message of love and happiness is supposed to feel like an expression of hatred toward the man who just got himself elected. There are a whole lot of Americans who voted for Donald Trump. A new poll has his favorability rating at 50%. Something tells me the TV audience for a live Broadway musical is even more Trump-friendly then the American electorate in general.

The idea of "Hairspray Live!" working as anti-Trumpiana feels as out of touch as the assurance that Hillary Clinton's campaign was a celebration of the idea that we’re stronger together than we are apart.

December 7, 2016

Not sure what's more important: Stephen King criticizing people complaining about Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize or Fiona Apple's anti-Donald-Trump Christmas song.

1. Stephen King says: "People complaining about his Nobel either don't understand or it's just a plain old case of sour grapes. I've seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, I've got news for you, Gary: There are a lot of deserving writers who have never gotten the Nobel Prize. And Gary Shteyngart will probably be one of them. That's no reflection on his work. You have to rise to the level of a Faulkner if you're an American."

2. Here's Fiona Apple with "Trump’s nuts roasting on an open fire" etc. etc.

"In the autopsy of the doomed Clinton campaign, there is no shortage of fatal causes."

"Expectations certainly missed their target: the race between the first plausible female presidential candidate and a man who bragged about grabbing women 'by the pussy' did not boil down to gender. In interviews across the country in the year leading up to the election, many voters suggested that shattering the glass ceiling wasn’t an urgent priority for them. Some took it as a given that a woman will be President one day, and it wasn’t worth electing someone they believed was the wrong woman just to show it could be done."

From Time's Person-of-the-Year "Short List" article about Hillary Clinton.

"What amazes a lot of people is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen. And yet I represent the workers of the world."

Said Donald Trump, quoted in TIME's "2016 Person of the Year Donald Trump."

This is not the article linked in the earlier post, about the process of picking Trump for Person of the Year. This is the article about him. It's written in a fancy style (by Michael Scherer) with sentences like — referring to Trump's apartment — "It’s gilded and gaudy, a dreamscape of faded tapestry, antique clocks and fresco-style ceiling murals of gym-rat Greek gods."

And if you can wade through enough heavy prose, you'll find the dark side of journalism:
By seeking to condemn the dark side of politics, Clinton’s campaign may have accidently [sic] validated it. By believing in the myth that Obama’s election represented a permanent shift for the nation, they proved it was ephemeral. In the end, Trump reveled in these denunciations, which helped him market to his core supporters his determination to smash the existing elite. After the election, Trump’s campaign CEO Stephen Bannon—the former head of a website known for stirring racial animus and provoking liberal outrage—explained it simply. “Darkness is good,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

This is the method of a demagogue. The more the elites denounced his transgressions, the more his growing movement felt validated....
In the space between those 2 paragraphs is a black-and-dark-gray photo of Steve Bannon, brooding. Keep scrolling for similar dark pictures of Kellyanne Conway and (unrecognizable) Reince Priebus.

"Trump’s unpredictable style unnerves corporate America."

That's the WaPo headline for the story reporting: 1. Trump's tweet decrying the cost of Boeing's Air Force One project, 2. the announcement that Softbank would invest $50 billion in the United States, 3. the news that Trump sold his entire stock portfolio months ago.

Those 3 things are all very interesting, but why is the headline that the vague entity called "corporate America" is having a particular emotional reaction — being unnerved.

Is that what we call fake news?
It was a day of big pronouncements and few details, leaving many wondering whether this would be the unusual and unpredictable way that Trump will govern when he takes office next month.
Many! The famous Many! Well, WaPo, what did Many say that revealed the internal mental state of wonderment?

There was just no way to weasel out of it.

TIME picked Donald Trump as Person of the Year.
This is the 90th time we have named the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year. So which is it this year: Better or worse? The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer....
Points for resisting mentioning Hitler as a former Man of the Year as you remind us that it's not necessarily positive.
It’s hard to measure the scale of his disruption. This real estate baron and casino owner turned reality-TV star and provocateur—never a day spent in public office, never a debt owed to any interest besides his own—now surveys the smoking ruin of a vast political edifice that once housed parties, pundits, donors, pollsters, all those who did not see him coming or take him seriously. Out of this reckoning, Trump is poised to preside, for better or worse....
Again with the "for better or worse."

Smoking ruin.... how about the smoking ruin of mainstream media?

"Black Lives Matter — really! In my hometown, Chicago, they are being extirpated at an alarming rate."

"The discourse about race, violence, and the value of human life has been held hostage to partisanship — Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter. We can do better than that. The election is over. And, the body count mounts. I'm interested now in SOLUTIONS and, frankly, I don't give a damn where they come from. Obama ignored this catastrophe unfolding in his adopted home town for nearly a decade. At the moment, I'm inclined to #GiveTrumpAChance to 'fix it.' Anybody with a better idea? Speak now."

Writes Glenn Loury, linking to "Chicago tops 700 homicides — with a month to go in violent 2016."

"Former Senator Bob Dole, acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan..."

"... worked behind the scenes over the past six months to establish high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff, an outreach effort that culminated last week in an unorthodox telephone call between Mr. Trump and Taiwan’s president."

First sentence of NYT article "Bob Dole Worked Behind the Scenes on Trump-Taiwan Call."

December 6, 2016

"I agree WaPo's comments policy is capricious and arbitrary. I suddenly hate this paper more than usual."

"Can someone please explain why comments are actually open for this article? It seems to meet the criteria that has, up to now, been consistently applied by the WaPo to disable comments for incidents involving tragedies. If this doesn't qualify then I don't know what would."

From the comments section of the WaPo article, "'All we could do was stand there': She watched Oakland’s inferno consume the one she loved the most."

"And... I see the climate science skeptics within the scientific community as being similar to Shy Trump Supporters."

"The fact that a majority of scientists agree with climate science either means the evidence is one-sided or the social/economic pressures are high. And as we can plainly see, the cost of disagreeing with climate science is unreasonably high if you are a scientist. While it is true that a scientist can become famous and make a big difference by bucking conventional wisdom and proving a new theory, anything short of total certainty would make that a suicide mission. And climate science doesn’t provide the option of total certainty.To put it another way, it would be easy for a physicist to buck the majority by showing that her math worked. Math is math. But if your science depends on human judgement to decide which measurements to include and which ones to 'tune,' you don’t have that option. Being a rebel theoretical physicist is relatively easy if your numbers add up. But being a rebel climate scientist is just plain stupid. So don’t expect to see many of the latter. Scientists can often be wrong, but rarely are they stupid."

From "The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science" by Scott Adams, who has surprised me by reopening his comments section. (I'd believed his notice that his comments were "temporarily" closed was a funny way to say they were permanently closed. (In the manner of "Is never good for you?"))

And while we're on the subject of climate change, here's an article on what Al Gore said about his meeting with Ivanka Trump.
"I appreciate the fact that she is very concerned about this." Gore... called it a "very intelligent exchange."

Ivanka Trump has singled out environmental regulation as her primary policy focus as an incoming first daughter, despite her father's past claims that climate change is a hoax propagated by China. Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, in recent days said Trump's "default position" on the topic was that “most of it is a bunch of bunk.”
Gore also met with Trump:
“It was a sincere search for areas of common ground.... I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I'm just going to leave it at that.”
Gore was sent to Ivanka first, and then to Trump. Interesting theater. Gore must be tempted to make himself relevant again, and the Trumps must see a use for him. It's political theater, and Gore is a big ham, no? How can he resist the charm of the Ivanka-and-Donald routine?

A new class-action lawsuit accuses a big job-placement agency of discriminating against blacks job-seekers — in favor of Hispanics.

The NYT reports.
Kevin James, 29, one of the named plaintiffs in the suit, said he had applied for work through MVP on roughly 20 occasions but had been given a job only once. He sat in the MVP office waiting in vain while Hispanic applicants got assignments, he said.

On the one occasion when Mr. James was given a job, he said, he was sent to a packaging company where supervisors were hostile toward him, “hovering” over him and other black employees as they worked.

“It just seemed like a lot of tension, like they didn’t really want me to be there,” Mr. James said. He added that the staff of the MVP office in Cicero “was mainly Mexicans” and that the employees were not welcoming toward African-American job seekers. “I’d say the whole staff was Mexican,” he said. “It was like the whole thing was built up mainly around Hispanics."
There is evidence that MVP used the code words "guapo" — handsome — and "feo" — ugly:
"They said African-Americans wanted to keep their hands clean and not get dirty and not work as hard as a Mexican — that’s why they called them guapos,” [said Rosa Ceja, 29, a former dispatcher at MVP’s office in Elmwood Park, Ill.]. MVP employees were told that using the words “black” or “Mexican” instead of the code words, especially in an email, was a fireable offense....

The vast majority of Hispanic job applicants served by MVP were in the United States illegally, Ms. Ceja added, and their vulnerability made them attractive short-term workers. “That makes it harder for them to complain or do anything,” she said. “They are so scared to raise their voice and say, ‘Hey, this is not fair.’”
More at the link.

"I look down to see the people that are governing me and making my rules — and they haven’t got any hair on their head. I get very uptight about it."

Said Bob Dylan in 1963, quoted at "Longhair Presidents of the United States."

I've been thinking about how we haven't had a long-haired President in quite a while, but it's not as though we never did. Fun is made of Donald Trump's hair, and the comedy swirls around its unique weirdness — the color, the strange arrangements of strands with frontal projection and swooping sides.

But calm down and think about long hair on men and how for the most part — despite decades of admiring men with long hair — we have expected the men wielding political power to keep their hair short. (Not too short, though. There are no buzz-cut Presidents.) What does it mean that after all these years, we — some of us — have accepted a leader with long hair?

We haven't had one since James Polk:

It doesn't count that some Presidents had long hair after they left office...

... or when they were little boys...

ADDED: Here's Buzzfeed's (pre-Trump) effort at ranking the Presidents by their hairstyles, e.g., #14 Zachary Taylor — "I like that he probably just rolled out of bed that morning and was like 'What’s up, I’m the President, bitches.'" You can see how the line "What’s up, I’m the President, bitches" seemed funnier before Trump got elected. Or maybe you think it's funnier now. For some reason, Andrew Jackson is only #3:

That's got the kind of swirling dynamism we see in Trump. And without hair spray. Impressive. That look on his face though. I get very uptight about it.

2 things about Trump that are viral in China.

1. A video of Trump's 5-year-old granddaughter Arabella reciting ancient Chinese poetry in Mandarin.

Hoeing millet in the midday heat,
Sweat dripping to the earth beneath.
Do you know the food on your plate,
Each grain was hard-earned.
2. As I learned from this video (which discusses the love for Arabella): the idea that Donald Trump looks like this particular pheasant:

Ah, here. It's a golden pheasant called "Little Red" at Hangzhou Safari Park in eastern China. The keeper of the 50 pheasants at that zoo said: "I had not noticed the likeness in the past because I had not paid particular attention to the pheasant's hairstyle. But after Trump was elected President of America, I start seeing more pictures of him and I think the pheasant looks a little bit like him."

The pheasant's hairstyle...

A commenter at a Chinese news site said: "Not only does the pheasant's appearance looks like Trump, its facial expression looks like Trump's too. Look at its eyes, they are very similar [to Trump's]. The only difference is the man doesn't have a beak."

"Adult Swim cancels alt-right sketch show Million Dollar Extreme."

AV Club reports.

Top-rated comment over there: "Meanwhile, despite a reportedly troubled production, the offensive, ramshackle alt-right sketch show The Trump Presidency is still scheduled to premiere January 20."

"I am going to run in 2020."/"For what?"/"For president. What the hell man, anyway."

Biden will be 78 in 2020, and I assume he's joking or maybe combination joking and preserving a remote option, but anyone who cares about the Democratic Party should be horrified at this interference with the development of younger talent. Hillary performed that function for so long, to such a dreary effect.

December 5, 2016

Goodbye to Judge Leonard B. Sand.

"Leonard B. Sand, Judge in Landmark Yonkers Segregation Case, Dies at 88," is the headline at The New York Times.
The charges against Yonkers were brought in a lawsuit that the Justice Department filed in 1980 in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The case was assigned to Judge Sand, who had joined the court two years earlier.... Some applauded him as rightly following precedents when, in 1986, he ordered that the city remedy the housing portion of its violations by adopting a plan for building up to 1,000 units of low- and moderate-income housing in predominantly white neighborhoods.

They praised him again when he imposed potentially bankrupting fines on Yonkers to overcome its City Council’s repeated defiance of his mandated remedy.... Critics, however, viewed him as engaging in “social engineering,” and some called him a “judicial tyrant.” Yonkers officials, who denied they were responsible for the segregation, denounced the judge, as did many white residents, some of whom picketed his weekend home in northern Westchester County....

Other widely noted decisions by Judge Sand included a 1990 ruling that overturned a ban on panhandling in the New York City subway system. It was the first time a federal court found that panhandling was a free-speech right protected by the First Amendment....

Perhaps Judge Sand’s most prominent criminal trial was that in 2001 of four terrorists who were convicted of conspiring in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa, which killed 224 people. Two defendants then faced a death penalty hearing, which resulted in life sentences after the jury could not agree on imposing a death sentence.... [S]ome jurors noted that the terrorists “were suicide bombers, so why give them what they want?”...
I clerked for Judge Sand from the fall of 1981 to the summer of 1982 — the between-pregnancies period of my life. He embodied the qualities you imagine when you think about the ideal judge. It was wonderful to go from law school to the experience of watching him manage the day to day ordeals of the lawyers and clients of the Southern District of New York.


AND: Asked about Trump's tweeting, Dick Cheney said:
I think one of the reasons people get so concerned about the tweets is it is sort of a way around the press. He doesn't have to rely upon, uh, rely upon [the press]. This is the modern era, modern technology. He's at the point where we don't need you guys anymore.

Few benefit from the treatment of being bathed in cream...

Don't try to friend me on Facebook. I limit my scope over there. I just wanted to show you this:

7 reasons to be happy about the election of Donald Trump.

2 are things you could have taken into account when voting, and the rest are things that have accumulated in the transition period.

The link go to Instapundit, who warns "Don’t get cocky, because he could still blow it and the press will be looking for anything they can use to destroy him, as they do with every Republican president."

The warning interestingly interplays with reason #5, "Crushing the media’s sense of self-importance":
They thought they were going to hand this election to Hillary. Now they’re realizing just how few people like or trust them, while Trump bypasses them using Twitter and YouTube. As I’ve said before, in the post-World War II era, the press has enjoyed certain institutional privileges based on two assumptions: (1) That it’s very powerful; and (2) That it will exercise that power responsibly, for the most part. Both assumptions have been proven false in this election cycle. Like many of the postwar institutional accommodations, this one will be renegotiated under Trump. It’s past time. After getting spanked in 2004 over RatherGate, the press realized with Katrina that if they all converged on the same lies they could still move the needle. Now they can’t.

Edgar M. Welch came to Comet Ping Pong to "self-investigate" Pizzagate.

He fired a rifle...
People inside the restaurant fled, and the police locked down the area, ordering patrons of a nearby bookstore and cafe called Politics and Prose to remain locked inside. Officers with rifles and protective gear surrounded the restaurant and apprehended Mr. Welch....
The owner of Comet Ping Pong said:
“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences.... I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today and stop promoting these falsehoods right away.”
The co-ower of Politics and Prose said:
"This is one of the things we feared... That this could go from a social media attack to something much more dangerous and physical."
This isn't just about Pizzagate. It's about all the crazy stuff people are cranking each other up about — including the freakout over the Trump election. There are unstable people out there who can get the notion that they need to take action.

AND: I'm not saying that good people have to tone it down lest they set off some nut. I'm for vibrant speech. Just think about the kind of person you want to be. If it's winding people up, ask yourself why.

The sanctuary cities issue has the left inspired about federalism.

There's Jeffrey Rosen in the NYT, "States’ Rights for the Left."
IN the wake of the presidential election, as Democrats realized that Republicans will soon control all three branches of the federal government, progressives disinclined to secede from the Union rediscovered another exit strategy: states’ rights.

Mayors in several so-called sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and New York, immediately reaffirmed their commitment not to work with federal immigration officials in detaining and deporting illegal immigrants....
More detailed, doctrine-wise, is Ilya Somin in WaPo, with "Federalism, the Constitution, and sanctuary cities," explaining Printz v. United States (the anti-commandeering doctrine) and NFIB v. Sebelius (the limit on using the spending power to coerce compliance).

This is the main subject I wrote about when I wrote for law journals. See, e.g., "The Vigor of Anti-Commandeering Doctrine in Times of Terror." My experience was that liberals and lefties got annoyed at the suggestion that doctrine from conservative Justices could serve liberal causes.

ADDED: The post title is not intended to imply that Ilya Somin is himself a man of the left. And he now has a newer post: "Trump, federal power, and the left – why liberals should help make federalism great again."

"Tech-savvy rightwingers have been able to ‘game’ the algorithms of internet giants and create a new reality where Hitler is a good guy, Jews are evil and… Donald Trump becomes president."

The subtitle of "Google, democracy and the truth about internet search," a Guardian article by Carole Cadwalladr. (I know: Your first thought is I really want to move that e from her first name to her last name.)

"Pretty girl, not as pretty as James Bond, maybe prettier than his co-presenter (who was that?)."

Said Bad Lieutenant in the comments to "Patti Smith : Bob Dylan :: Sacheen Littlefeather : Marlon Brando?"

The "co-presenter" of the 1973 Best Actor Oscar was Liv Ullmann. Do people today really not recognize Liv Ullmann?! She was the greatest actress of that time. "Scenes from a Marriage," "Cries and Whispers," "The Emigrants," and "The New Land." Do people not know these movies?

I googled to find something to link to, and I was intrigued to see a 2014 article in The Guardian: "Liv Ullmann on Miss Julie, Donald Trump and why she hates the modern age/Ingmar Bergman’s muse talks about directing a version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, terrorism and Twitter."

That's 2014, not 2016, so what's up with Donald Trump showing up in a headline alongside Ingmar Bergman and August Strindberg? 
Liv Ullmann likes watching The Apprentice. Or, rather, she likes it when Donald Trump goes in and out of rooms. “I find it tremendously interesting, his entrances and exits. I can’t believe someone is doing this and taking it so seriously! If you made a movie about such a man, you would tell them they were overacting.”
Spend some time thinking about "If you made a movie about such a man, you would tell them they were overacting." It almost a conundrum. You have a larger-than-life character, except he is in life. He's real. Then you want to make a movie about him, and the actor playing him is trying to be exactly like him, but you have to tell him, no, you've got to tone it down, because otherwise you seem like a bad actor. You're going to have to underplay him to preserve this biopic's sense of realism.
It is Trump, she thinks, who is a modern-day Miss Julie – the queen bitch in the August Strindberg play she’s just made into a movie. Both are snoots sneering down from a pedestal of their own construction. “Trump says no to refugees trying to get into US from Mexico. He says it’s all Obama’s fault and he’s given them too much freedom. And he blames him for Ebola coming in from Africa.” Ullmann smiles, gentle and appalled and vulnerable. “If you live in a tunnel, hiding, then people don’t like you and in the end they will come back and kill you. It’s not because he’s evil. It’s that it’s easier for him to be apart than to hold the hand of someone homeless and alone.”
Hey, spoiler alert on "Miss Julie"! Oh. All right. Now, I've got to read the plot summary. Don't worry. Okay, I'm satisfied. Nobody other than Miss Julie kills Miss Julie. Miss Liv is not predicting assassination. Liv is very sensitive:
“That is the sadness of being human today. We still don’t realise that there is no 'other.' We still think we are the audience to everything; we don’t understand we are not witnesses, we are participants. You cannot save the world, I cannot, even Donald Trump cannot. But if we do allow beauty, if we don’t kill movies and concerts and ballets and books we still have a chance.”

"Vets worried by rising numbers of drunk pets as more owners leaving leftover tipples around the house."

That's a headline that Meade read out loud to me. Instead of asking him to send me the link, I googled "drunk pets," and — in addition to the link to the article — I got lots of video, supposedly hilarious, of drunk pets.

The article begins with warning decent people about the problem of dogs and cats sniffing out and lapping up what's left lying around in the dirty glasses you weren't careful enough about, but stuck in the middle is an acknowledgment of the truly awful people who are getting their pets drunk and making these videos.

Patti Smith : Bob Dylan :: Sacheen Littlefeather : Marlon Brando?

No. Bob Dylan is not declining the Nobel Prize, nor is his nonappearance at the ceremony a protest in service of some issue that Bob Dylan cares about and Patti Smith embodies. But Patti Smith will stand in for Bob Dylan at the Nobel Prize event next week.

Sacheen Littlefeather reference video:

"When people told him it was a deathtrap, he would laugh. In Derick's mind he was creating this amazing art space..."

"... and everything going on there was the most amazing thing ever."

Said one friend of the captain of the so-called Ghost Ship, where at least 33 people died in a fire Friday night. The man, who sublet space in the rented warehouse, is Derick Ion Almena, who reacted to the fire with a Facebook post that is the most perverse display of sensitivity I have ever seen:
Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel and safe and sound…it's as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope… to be standing now in poverty of self worth.
Here's a description of Almena's art space:
Visitors have described a squalid scene where cat faeces and used condoms litter the limited floor space, junk and 'art' is piled high in every room, nails protrude from stairs made out of old pallets, brick work crumbles in the walls and drug use rife among the party goers who came and went.
The photo of the place (from before the fire) looks like a perfect stage set for a tragicomedy about aging hippies:

In the upper right corner is a spider plush toy the size of a lamp shade. To the left is a sad, bowed-head figure that reminds me of the No Face character in the movie "Spirited Away."

Spirited away, in a vehicle called Ghost Ship.

So I was down there and I was having trouble finding the exit... the lower level is like a fucking maze. The stair room had three different exits and only one would have been the way to outside. Horrifying....

Some dude who had already gotten out stood right by the exit with all the billowing smoke and was repeatedly yelling "this is the exit" "exit." I can say without a doubt that that dude saved my life. If he wasn't there yelling I would have never found the exit and I probably would have died.
AND: From the comments at that "ADDED" link:

"I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development."

Said President-elect Donald Trump.
"Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

December 4, 2016

Reince Priebus calls Trump "a Socratic method guy" — "It kind of reminds me of being back in law school."

"He asks a lot of questions, asks questions about questions. And he will keep going until he’s satisfied with the information that he’s getting."

That was on "Face the Nation" today, in answer to probing by John Dickerson about whether Trump is getting intelligence briefings. Priebus says he is  — "it feels like every day." And then:
I’m not sure if it is every day. But it’s a lot. And that’s who he is. It’s someone who studies and someone that wants to be informed and it’s someone who asks a lot of questions and listens.
Dickerson asks if Trump is "a details guy," and Priebus says "He is a details guy," and then "I would say it’s he’s a Socratic method guy" and the rest of the quote I've set out above.

Dickerson asks Priebus what he does when Trump tweets something that's not true, such as when he said there were millions of illegal votes in California. Priebus's lame response was that we don't know it's not true. Dickerson patiently, politely nailed him:
I guess [the] question is, when you’re president, can you just offer a theory that has no evidence behind it, or does he have to tighten up his standard of proof?
We all know the answer to that question, but I appreciate that Dickerson had the presence of mind to put it in the form of a question... especially nice, since Priebus had just expressed admiration for the Socratic method. What can Priebus say (except You got me, Socrates)? He makes a lateral leap:
I think he’s done a great job. I think the president-elect is someone who has pushed the envelope and caused people to think in this country, has not taken conventional thought on every single issue. And it’s caused people to look at things that maybe they have taken for granted. 
Priebus distracts us onto the subject of Trump's ability to distract us with some new nutty thing. Hey, here's a theory! Ever think about it that way? Then Priebus brings up the flag-burning issue. That was a faux pas from Trump, wasn't it? So why shift to that? Priebus says flag-burning "is an 80% issue" — meaning (I presume) that 80% of Americans want to punish protesters who burn flags as a way of expressing themselves.
And then you watch the news media and they say, well, it’s constitutional. Well, right, it is constitutional...
He means the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to burn the flag as symbolic expression.
... and but it doesn’t mean it’s not a subject for debate and discussion for the Supreme Court to revisit down the road.
That is, a Supreme Court opinion on a constitutional matter does not stop the conversation about what the constitution means. A case can be overruled. And a Supreme Court appointment is in the offing. What issues will come to the foreground as we grill the new nominee? Why not make it flag burning? Whether the flag-burning decision is ever overruled, there's political advantage in getting us talking about how we feel about it.

America! The flag!  

It's an 80% issue.

Finally, snow!


I took that photo as we got back home after a 3.6-mile walk. The neighborhood looks great in the snow.

Talk about anything in the comments.

And, please, consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Saturday Night Live" is struggling to be funny about Trump.

This isn't very good, but I laughed out loud twice — once because I like very silly absurd stuff and once because I must be mean:

The sketch is about Trump tweeting, and the real Donald Trump tweeted that it wasn't funny:

Meta! Meta's funny. In my book.

Young people were told "Yes, You Should Shame Your Trump Voting Relatives At Thanksgiving Dinner..."

"They've gone beyond politics and should be treated like the pariahs they are.... For this sin against human decency, your Donald voting relatives should be shunned. They should treated as collaborators because that's what they are. They're the people in Germany who stood by and watched the Jews be herded into concentration camps and murdered. Except they're worse because at least the Germans had never seen anything like the rise of Hitler before. They had no frame of reference to understand what was happening to their country. Your Donald voting relatives have heard and read about Nazis their entire lives. They know and they didn't care.... This is when you look them in the eye and tell them that you're ashamed of them and they've stained their soul. It won't be fun. It won't be easy. It won't be a happy memory. But it's necessary...."

Ooh. That's rough. But at least one young person stepped up to the task. Fortunately, it was all caught on camera:

Madonna is "ashamed, ashamed to be an American, ashamed to be a human being, really."

It was a charitable event, held in Miami, to raise money to help the poor in Malawi. It cost $5,000 to get in and they were auctioning off glitzy Bulgari and Swarovski things, so the audience was rich. Madonna was assuming that the rich hate Trump. At one point, she said she'd "slept in Donald Trump's bed" — ha, ha — just a photo shoot... in Palm Beach... for Versace. And:
"I just want to mention that his sheets were not 100 percent Egyptian cotton. Yes. Cheap slumlord. Here's what I’m wondering: Do you think he's going to have nice sheets in the White House? Here's one thing I’m sure of. They won't be Egyptian cotton because we all know how he feels about Muslims, don't we?"
So... snobbery about bedsheets, deployed for the sake of the poor in Malawi — with confidence that the audience hates Trump. But Trump got elected, and not by the people in that audience. If they laughed, was it at all uneasy laughing, aware of how out of touch they are with their own fellow citizens? Or do they simply regard those people outside the room as shameful and those in the room as the good people... as they throw money at people much farther away — people who can't possibly have any effect on them — and walk home with a crystal-encrusted gown or a pavĂ© diamond necklace?

And somebody tell Madonna: "Egyptians... are among the world’s happiest people about the Trump win."

"Assignment: Someone, please make an 'it gets better' video for liberals who are depressed about Trump."

Writes John over at Facebook.

He gets a lot of negative reactions.

I react to that:
Does the reaction to John's idea reveal that the original "It gets better" videos were shallow and propagandistic? If people are very unhappy right now about their current circumstances, should those who don't even know them swoop in and sincerely assure them that "It gets better"? John's idea could be seen as a proposal for a comic riff that not only annoys Trump haters but that also portrays the original project as banal and insulting.