November 10, 2018

At the Snowfall Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And think of buying what you want on Amazon by going in through the Althouse Portal. I'll recommend a book: "Invisible Ink: My Mother's Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist" by Bill Griffith.

"We’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, so why is America still operating with a House of Representatives built for the start of the 20th?"

"The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.... To understand the implications of a larger House, we enlisted software developer Kevin Baas and his Auto-Redistrict program to draw 593 new congressional districts for the entire country... Then we used historical partisan scores to determine which party would win each district... [I]t would create a more competitive landscape, with 25 percent of seats qualifying as toss-ups, compared to just 10 percent today.... There’s no constitutional basis for a membership of 435; it’s arbitrary, and it could be undone by Congress tomorrow."

Says the Editorial Board of the NYT.

"Whomever has the gun, you see, gets to tell everyone else what to do — it’s the American way."

A line in Kurt Vonnegut's 1970 play "Happy Birthday, Wanda June," which is revived right now off Broadway and discussed in "Kurt Vonnegut’s Vietnam-Era Play Lands With a Gasp" (NYT).
“There’s absurdism in the news right now,” [said the director Jeff Wise], “and it’s getting more and more absurd in a very despairing and awful way.”...

“Even in the last few days,” [said the actor Jason O’Connell, who plays Harold, a "Trumpian guy"], “there are elements of the show that played funnier in April that feel a little darker now, and I don’t think we’re doing anything differently with them. I think people are receiving them differently.”...

Night to night, too, sensitivities change. The evening of the October day when 11 people were murdered at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the moment in the show that didn’t work involved Nazis, [the actress Kate] MacCluggage said. At a performance right after a different mass shooting, she recalled, a line that Harold speaks went over like “a stomach punch”: “Whomever has the gun, you see, gets to tell everyone else what to do — it’s the American way.”

"What do you say to Michelle Obama who says she will never forgive you for your birther comments in the past?"

A reporter asks Trump. Video at the link. Trump's answer:
Oh, Michelle Obama said that? I haven't seen it. I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book. And they always insist that you come up with controversial.

Well, I'll give you a little controversy back: I'll never forgive him for what he did to our United States military by not funding it properly. It was depleted. Everything was old and tired. And I came in, and I had to fix it. And I'm in the process of spending tremendous amounts of money. So I'll never forgive him for what he did to our military. I'll never forgive him for what he did in many other ways, which I'll talk to you about in the future.

But what he did -- because she talked about safety -- what he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.
The "safety" he's saying she talked about must refer to threats she says she received as a result of Trump's raising the question of whether Obama was born in the United States. From Michelle Obama's book (quoted at WaPo):
“The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she writes. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”
By the way, why did Trump say "Oh, Michelle Obama said that? I haven't seen it" and then "because she talked about safety"? It seems to be one statement, she'll never forgive him for putting her family's safety at risk by raising the "birther" question. Did Trump see that statement or not?

"The Satanic Temple filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Warner Bros. and Netflix, alleging copyright violation of its goat-headed statue, which it says appears in the new 'Sabrina' series."

The NYT reports:
The temple argues that the television show not only copied its conception of the deity — a muscled figure with two young children staring up at it — but also that it gives the statue and the Satanic Temple itself a bad rap. The Satanic Temple, based in Salem, Mass., defines its mission, in part, to “reject tyrannical authority” and to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.”...

But in “Sabrina,” the lawsuit argues, the statue is an evil symbol representing the show’s antagonists. The statue sits at the center of the academy where Sabrina is sent to learn magic, and it is considered a homage to the “Dark Lord,” whom Sabrina is fighting against.

Mr. Lederman said the concern is that the next time the temple uses its statue to send a message about the separation of church and state, people may associate it with the television show instead....
Notice the straining at a trademark claim in addition to the copyright claim which is weakened by the show's taking the trouble to make a somewhat different image:

ADDED: The Satanic Temple based its sculpture on this 19th century image of a goat diety (Baphomet):

I'm giving this post my "lawsuits I hope will fail" tag, because the tyrannical authority that I reject is the government lending its power to enforcing a religion's concept of blasphemy. The Satanic Temple seems to want to control what we viewers think the children are getting from their religion, and they want it to be something good, rejecting tyrannical authority (or so they say). The TV show wants us to see the children in thrall to evil. No one gets to own and control religious symbols like that. We must be able to use religious symbols to express things that the believers in the religion don't want to hear said. So there should not be a trademark claim.

As for the copyright claim, you've got to consider the common source material. The old drawing doesn't have the 2 children looking at the goat god. It would be a better sculpture without that idiotic sentimentality, but that's the part that was copied, and you can understand why the Temple included the children, as a way to say their god is worthy of adoration. Here's an example of that artistic device in a Christian context:

Not the loftiest presentation of religion. That's an 1898 painting, "Adoration of the Christ Child" by Carl von Marr.

2 visions of the aftermath of greyhound dog racing.

I'm reading "Thousands of Greyhounds May Need Homes as Florida Bans Racing" (NYT). I'm picturing:

1. Greyhound buses with a greyhound dog in every window, headed north, where, they've heard, southern dogs go to be the "rescue dogs" of soft-hearted midwesterners.

2. The cremains of thousands of euthanized greyhounds incorporated into the concrete of a monumental statue of a greyhound, erected on the site of a closed-down Florida racetrack.

Newly released footage of the Acosta accosting.

ADDED: This is an important cultural moment. There is now a comic meme about being physically violent to a woman. Notice how it's upping the violence that makes it funnier and funnier. It ends with a "Road Runner" type image where a bag of "intern feed" is handed to the woman and then a giant weight falls on her. Have we ever seen mainstream comedy like that before? We're laughing at a woman getting crushed to death. And am I the only one who sees the words "intern feed" and thinks of Bill Clinton's semen?

"O'Reilly: Where Pinhead Jim Acosta Went Wrong."

I just stumbled into that as I was poking around on YouTube. I'd entirely forgotten about Bill O'Reilly, and even now, reminded of him, I can't remember why he got kicked off Fox News. Just to show you how random my encounter was, the YouTube video I had on was something with 908 views, "semolina pilchard." I'd googled "semolina pilchard," because I'd seen the word "pilchard" in the context of looking up the word "mennard" in the OED. "Mennard" is an English variation on "minnow." Minnow was probably originally spelled "minnot," with the "-ot" ending like "turbot" added to a root that means small. The alternate ending "-ard" makes sense as another way to say "small fish," because the ending "-ard" is used in other fish names like "pollard" and "pilchard." I got interested in "mennard" in the first place, because it appeared on an interesting list of suggestions when I was looking for Fennario?

Have you ever gone looking for Fennario? Why were you looking? Did you find it? Or did you stumble on out of your reveries and land in one of the microsquabbles of the Trump era, like where Pinhead Jim Acosta Went Wrong?

Anyway. O'Reilly presents himself as the world's biggest expert on interviewing U.S. Presidents. He lists all the interviews he's done with them, and he talks about getting criticized for interrupting the President. "But I was never disrespectful. And I always couched my questions around facts.... I had a respect for the office. And once he [the President] answered it, I moved on to another question. Jim Acosta has no respect for the office. He hates President Trump...." Acosta didn't ask a question, but "immediately starts a debate." "He wants to debate and demean Donald Trump.... His intent isn't to seek information. If it was, he would ask 'Why do you consider it an invasion?'... but, no, he says, 'The caravan is not an invasion.'"

ADDED: Via Genius:
Semolina is a kind of wheat paste. A pilchard is small fish.

It has been speculated that “Semolina Pilchard” was Detective Sergeant Norman Pilcher, head of the Scotland Yard Drugs Unit. He led the arrests of several 60s rock stars, including Lennon, on drugs charges, before being investigated himself for blackmail and bribery in the ‘70s.

November 9, 2018

At the Fall Snow Café...


... have your midday conversation.

Trump's "Presidential Proclamation Addressing Mass Migration Through the Southern Border of the United States."

AADPosted at the White House website this morning.
The arrival of large numbers of aliens will contribute to the overloading of our immigration and asylum system and to the release of thousands of aliens into the interior of the United States. The continuing and threatened mass migration of aliens with no basis for admission into the United States through our southern border has precipitated a crisis and undermines the integrity of our borders. I therefore must take immediate action to protect the national interest, and to maintain the effectiveness of the asylum system for legitimate asylum seekers who demonstrate that they have fled persecution and warrant the many special benefits associated with asylum.... I therefore hereby proclaim the following:

Section 1. Suspension and Limitation on Entry. The entry of any alien into the United States across the international boundary between the United States and Mexico is hereby suspended and limited, subject to section 2 of this proclamation. That suspension and limitation shall expire 90 days after the date of this proclamation or the date on which an agreement permits the United States to remove aliens to Mexico in compliance with the terms of section 208(a)(2)(A) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1158(a)(2)(A)), whichever is earlier.

The fake news about Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez not being able to afford to move to Washington, D.C. until she gets her first paycheck as a Congressperson.

I'm seeing that over on Facebook, where my son John says he's unfollowing The Hill because...
I've noticed multiple inaccuracies, but this was the last straw. This article is simply false about what she said in her New York Times interview, which is the source for the article. (I get the impression the Hill doesn't do original reporting.) This *might* be true for all I know, but she didn't say or even suggest it in the Times interview.
Go to the link for details of what O-C said that was quoted in the NYT and how it was misparaphrased in The Hill (and News week).

"'Long Time, No See' Is Considered Offensive, Non-Inclusive Language at Colorado State University/Viewed as derogatory towards those of Asian descent."

A headline at Reason, linked by my son John at Facebook. I don't know about Asian. I'd have said Native American. Here's my comment over on John's post:
And don't substitute that you haven't seen the person in "many moons" or that you are "heap big" glad to see them. Don't say "Me talk-em Indian talk." Talk standard English. But, of course, to speak standard English is to exercise white privilege, so be very very careful. Or just don't say anything. You see someone you haven't seen in a long time? You could just pretend you don't see them.

"Yet the current Democratic leadership has insisted that no one so much as mention the word 'impeachment.'"

"Instead, they have suggested using Mr. Trump’s abuses of power as bargaining chips in future negotiations. For too long, Democratic leaders have convinced their fellow elected officials that bland, nonconfrontational and incremental centrism is the way to win elections and make progress. In truth, it’s just the easiest way to protect the balance of power in Washington. But by trying to meet a corrupt Republican Party halfway, instead of taking clear stands for what’s right, they have failed to define the party and failed to protect their constituents.... Should the establishment refuse to give up conventional orthodoxy and take up impeachment proceedings when the new Congress convenes, freshmen members — many of whom ran and won because of their promise to stand up to the president — must challenge the establishment and demand a say over the agenda. An overwhelming majority of people in this country elected them to hold this president accountable. There is no majority without them.... Democrats must stand up for the safety of the American people and our entire democratic system."

Writes the billionaire Tom Steyer in the NYT, in "Why Democrats Must Impeach the President/They won the House by promising to hold Trump accountable."

The most-liked comment at the Times is: "Moving too fast on any of this will play right into Trump's hands. He thrives on exactly this. Don't immediately give him the power to accuse Democrats of overreach. This all seems like bad advice."

It's such patently bad advice that I wonder why the NYT wanted to print it. It gives energy to the "freshmen members" who are going to demand overreaching. And speaking of playing right into Trump's hands, Trump has been talking about wanting a new, softer tone and working together with Democrats to get things done. They shouldn't make it easy for him to say he tried and they wouldn't have it. The main argument against Trump has always been that he seems too wild and weird. To counter that, Democrats just need to be calm and normal. But that's exactly what Steyer is railing against.

"The bats never hurt us, and we were always catching them in our hands and releasing them outside because you hear all the time about how bats are good..."

"... for the insect population, and you don’t want to hurt them... The bats would lick our fingers, almost like they could taste the saltiness of our fingers, but they never bit us.... I've always thought bats were kind of cute, but I had no idea the kind of risk we were at. We would wake up in the night and they would be walking on our bed."

Said Juanita Giles, who, with her husband Gary, was on friendly terms with the bats in their house, quoted in "Utah man, 55, who used to encourage bats to land on his hands to feed becomes the state's first rabies death since 1944" (Daily Mail).

"Secretaries claimed he was both brilliant and 'cute,' although Michelle Obama was skeptical, writing that white people went 'bonkers' any time you 'put a suit' on a 'half-intelligent black man.'"

"She also thought his picture had a 'whiff of geekiness.' But she was more than impressed after meeting him, by his 'rich, even sexy baritone' and by his 'strange, stirring combination' of serenity and power. 'This strange mix-of-everything-man,' when she finally let him kiss her, set off a 'toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.'"

From "Michelle Obama rips Trump in new book" (AP).

I chose to focus on something other than the ripping of Trump. Toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder — now, that's amusing! It's hard to picture Michelle Obama toppled. But how is anyone supposed to write in a dignified, appropriate way about the fact that they're sexually excited by the person they married? "Toppling" is as good a word as any, and you say "lust" but in a mix of other more exalted concepts.

I note she used the word "strange" twice — "strange, stirring combination" and "strange mix-of-everything-man."

Anyway, I'm less interested in Michelle Obama's shots at Trump than what she can say about random ordinary white people — like those secretaries — and what she thinks they think of any "half-intelligent black man" that you (who?) "put a suit on." Can't half-intelligent black men put on their own suit? But I like anything half-honest about how it felt to be an accomplished black woman in a Chicago law firm and trying to succeed despite suspicions and whatever real inequities prevailed at the time and looking to meet a man who could make a good-enough match for her. And then getting Obama! That really is strange!

ADDED: I'll just say one thing about the Trump ripping:
She remembers how her body “buzzed with fury” after seeing the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.
Is the book written in — speaking of "ripping" — bodice-ripper prose? We saw above that Michelle was toppled and blasted by a first kiss, and here we see that she experienced the "Access Hollywood" story as a bodily "buzz." Does she grasp things intellectually or do they happen in her body? And isn't that what Trump was really saying when he made that "grab them by the pussy" remark?
When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything... Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
The stardom itself reaches into the body and readies the woman to receive him — that's what he was saying.  Trump's impudent verbalization of that process angers Michelle Obama, but the way those words worked was to cause her body to "buzz" — as if Trump's voice were a vibrator.

"Rick Scott Cites Rampant Fraud in Florida, as Senate and Governor Races Tighten."

The NYT reports.
Mr. Scott’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to court records, asked for emergency hearings to force Brenda C. Snipes, the elections supervisor of Broward County, to publicly release vote totals, and to require Susan Bucher, the elections supervisor of Palm Beach County, to allow campaign representatives to witness the review of potentially defective ballots.

Dr. Snipes, who like Ms. Bucher is an elected official, had told reporters on Thursday afternoon that she could not say how many votes were left to count. “I think we had over 58 percent of our voters voted, and each voter received a ballot package of either five or six pages,” she said when asked about why counting was taking so long. “It’s volume that causes this.”

Her performance is of particular concern to Republicans because a court ruled in May that her office had illegally destroyed some ballots from a 2016 congressional race. As a result, the office has been under state monitoring....

November 8, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... say what you like.

"Blue wave or no, Trumpism lives on. And it continues to be America's loudest voice."

An L.A. Times editorial. Excerpt:
Many Americans had believed that Trump’s election two years ago was a brief deviation from the norm that would be reversed once rational voters saw what he was like in office. The [midterm election] returns were a depressing wake-up call to the true extent of division in the country. In fact, tens of millions of people turned out to vote in favor of Trumpism....

That message is horrendous. It is a message suffused with alt-right, racist ideology.... It is a message that manifests itself in shocking policies....

The battle to quiet Trump and Trumpism did not end on Tuesday. It will be a long slog, and the voters who spoke up in opposition Tuesday will have to keep speaking for at least another two years — loudly, courageously, unmistakably.
I'd say it's not enough to speak up in opposition — however long and loud. You need to respond convincingly on the issues, especially the issue of illegal immigration. It's not enough to say Trump's message is crude and inhumane and horrible. You need your own answer to the question, an answer that can be stated clearly and that will appeal to enough people (so it can't be open borders or don't do anything new).

"If Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay. Any effort to go after Mueller will be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency."

Said Lindsey Graham back in July 2017, quoted in "‘Coward’ Lindsey Graham Called Out For Empty Vow To Unleash ‘Holy Hell’ On Trump/The South Carolina senator once warned the president not to fire Jeff Sessions. Now, he’s singing a different tune" (HuffPo).

The Dutch man who's asking a court to change his age from 69 to 49 got his inspiration from Tony Robbins.

I really don't think the press should even cover this stupid and basically phony story, and I wouldn't blog it except for the Tony Robbins angle. From "A 69-year-old man asks to be declared 49, claiming age is as fluid as gender" (WaPo):
[Emile] Ratelband’s desire to remake himself is distinctly American, he said, and comes from his training under Tony Robbins, the motivational guru and master of the life hack. He lived and traveled with Robbins for about six months in the late 1980s, he said, and came to believe that, “You have to make your dreams come true from visualization.”

“This is American thinking,” he said. “Why can’t I change my age if I want to? You have to stretch yourself. If you think you can jump one meter, now I want to jump 20. If you earn 100 grand a month, now I want to earn 120 grand."

He drew a comparison to the forces elevating President Trump, arguing that people don’t want to be told how to live or what to believe, and therefore appreciate that the president has cut himself loose from standards of decorum that governed prior presidents.

“He is just himself,” he said. “Trump is the first one who is honest. He shows his emotion on Twitter, saying to everyone, ‘Shut up.’ He’s a new kind of person.”
Ratelband got everyone to pay attention to him, but obviously, he can't be concerned about getting perceived as 49, since he's made his age so conspicuous in this bogus effort to "change" it.

I'm interested in the way foreigners create their own conception of what it means to be "American" — and the subcategory of deriving the idea of "American" from Trump. Ratelband is (purportedly) trying to adopt a different age, but he's also trying to adopt a different nationality. So it's a type of cultural appropriation. But isn't that generally something we Americans like to see — foreigners inspired toward freedom and self-expression and calling that "American"?

I'm thinking of that 2003 Iraq war story (NYT):
In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today.

What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring?

''Democracy,'' the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. ''Whiskey. And sexy!''

Jim Acosta is "a rude, terrible person" who, when he reports "fake news" is "an enemy of the people"...

... said Trump at yesterday's news conference, where Jim Acosta, right in front of Trump was very rude and hit a woman:

I watched the press conference yesterday, but not from that angle, where the hitting of the woman is on camera. I got that video from "How CNN’s Jim Acosta became the reporter Trump loves to hate" (WaPo), where the headline suggests something I found myself thinking, that Trump and Acosta are both in control and choosing to do this theater of mutual hate.

And yet the White House has withdrawn Acosta's press credentials.

What do you think of the physical move? It made me think of the time Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery for grabbing Michelle Fields (a reporter):

At the time, WaPo ran an article, "Corey Lewandowski lied about Michelle Fields. That should matter to Donald Trump. It won’t."

Quoted at that link, Donald Trump: "Wow, Corey Lewandowski, my campaign manager and a very decent man, was just charged with assaulting a reporter. Look at tapes-nothing there!"

Either both instances of battery matter or neither does. Pick one.

November 7, 2018

At the Wednesday Café...

... you can talk about anything you want.

And please consider using The Althouse Portal if you need to buy something on Amazon.

Trump holds a lively press conference.

"President Trump forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, ending a partnership that soured almost from the start of the administration..."

"... and degenerated into one of the most acrimonious public standoffs between a commander in chief and a senior cabinet member in modern American history. Mr. Sessions’s resignation, made at the president’s request, was being delivered to John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff. It came just a day after midterm elections in which Democrats captured control of the House, but Republican success in holding onto the Senate and building their slim majority may make it easier for the president to confirm a successor.... Mr. Trump never forgave Mr. Sessions [for recusing himself from the Mueller investigation], and over the next year and a half, his complaints about Mr. Sessions on Twitter and in his public comments became more pointed and insulting....  As attorney general, Mr. Sessions made a forceful mark on the Justice Department. He rolled back some of President Barack Obama’s signature policies as he encouraged federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against criminal suspects. He successfully advised Mr. Trump to rescind Mr. Obama’s program protecting nearly 700,000 young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. He sued California over its sanctuary laws and targeted states that legalized marijuana."

The NYT reports.

"In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats."

"If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!"

Another cagey Trump tweet.

ADDED: I think Trump will enjoy this phase of the game. It was getting boring for him. The dealmaking needs to be more complex to be at the level of The Artist of the Deal. Whether he figures out clever moves or not, his antagonists will always fear his strange tricks, and that fear alone may trip them up.

Trump tweet-threats "Two can play that game!"

"If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!"

At some point, you will be able to just talk like that on television.

And not just as what we call in the law "fleeting expletives" — words that slip out on live TV before the broadcaster can bleep it. People will just talk like that on TV casually, because it's the way many of us do in normal life.

By the way, Beto lost but (NYT link)....
Most likely he will run for the Senate again in 2020, this time against the Republican who decides to run for the seat John Cornyn is expected to vacate.
Texas will have its congressional Beto soon enough.

ADDED: Then there's this participation from Jon Favreau and Michael Avenatti:

"The fact that the state of Colorado, in 25 years, has gone from being dubbed the 'hate state' to a place that can elect someone who is not just openly gay, but publicly gay, that’s historic."

Said Annise Parker, a gay-rights activist, quoted in "Colorado, once the infamous anti-LGBT ‘hate state,’ becomes first to elect an openly gay governor" (WaPo).

The new governor is Jared Polis:

"He’s probably one of the top three sociopaths I’ve ever come across... He wanted to tell everyone how smart he was for what he did to his mom."

Said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, quoted in "Teen accused of killing his mother over bad grades is ‘very proud of his work,’ police say" (WaPo).
[The unnamed 15-year-old boy] showed excitement about his perceived intellect, Chitwood said. He bragged to detectives about what he called the “Grammy-winning” phone call he made to 911 and was “bouncing on his toes” with enthusiasm when detectives brought him back to his mother’s burial site.

“There was no emotion. Nothing," Chitwood said. "He was very proud of his work and wanted to show it off.”...  He told police he had used the techniques he learned in criminal-justice classes to try to throw off detectives, such as pouring bleach into the hole where he buried his mother to cover up the smell, Chitwood said.... He bragged to detectives about what he called the “Grammy-winning” phone call he made to 911...

“It’s just unbelievable,” Chitwood said. “The woman brings you into the world, does everything humanly possible for you, and your reward is to strangle her for 30 minutes and bury her.”

"Let’s hear it for pre-existing conditions!"

I know what you mean, but...

"Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not conceding defeat to Democrat Tony Evers."

"Unofficial results show Evers beat Walker by about 29,000 votes, or just over 1 percentage point, out of more than 2.6 million votes cast. State law only permits recounts for losing candidates who are within 1 percentage point. Walker campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger says 'we need the official canvass and for military ballots to be counted before any decision can be made.'... Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign is alleging that 'thousands of ballots were damaged and had to be recreated' in the election that saw Democrat Tony Evers score a narrow victory. Walker campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger says until the ballots can be examined, there is no way to judge their validity.... Counties have until 9 a.m. Tuesday to canvas the vote."

AP reports.

AND: In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams refuses to concede.

UPDATE: Walker concedes.

A good column title "How to argue about whether these midterms were a 'blue wave.'"

That's for a piece by Colby Itkowitz at WaPo.

She's ignoring the question whether we should argue about whether these midterms were a "blue wave." In my perfunctory live-blog of the results last night, I said, mid-evening, "Seems fair to say it’s not a 'blue wave.'" Time stamp: 7:51 CT. Does that mean I want to argue about it?

I think Itkowitz is offering arguments for people who want to contend that it was a "blue wave." I think these people are like Trump and other Republicans who want to claim "tremendous success" for themselves. I'm not impressed by any of it. As I said in my live blog, "But I always assume things will be boring!" And I always assume things are boring, and I react very slowly, if not actively negatively, to efforts to nudge me to get excited and to think something huge is happening.

Is it in the interest of Democrats to fight over the label? Should they even respond if they're taunted by people like me saying it wasn't a wave? Maybe the "wave" spin is helpful in justifying a highly active House majority in the next 2 years, but then what if they're held to account for not doing enough with the power and authority represented by the idea that it was a wave? There was a wave, you said it was a wave, but you did not surf it. Shouldn't they manage expectations?

Itkowitz has a good, succinct list of arguments for those who want to argue that was a "wave." Example:
As of the early hours Wednesday morning, Democrats were projected to win the national popular vote by nearly 9 percentage points, which is greater than the Republican “waves” in 1994, 2010 and 2014 and the Democratic “wave” in 2006. If those elections were waves, then this one is, too.
That idea of "the national popular vote" is a good way to focus on what happened in the House races. The Senate races only covered some of the states, so the total there is more of a random number, based on which one-third of the seats happened to be up this time, and the states are all different sizes.

On Itkowitz's not-a-wave list of arguments, there's:
The massive repudiation of Trump that Democrats hoped for simply didn’t happen. In fact, in many states where Trump campaigned hard for Republicans, it seems the opposite occurred. He focused throughout the campaign on saving the Senate for the GOP, and it appears his efforts paid off.
I think the how-to-argue list is helpful in deciding whether to argue (and I'm guessing Itkowitz knew that and was really implicitly answering the question I said she "ignored").

This blog has a theme today.

Just noticing. And I'll be breaking the theme soon, but I thought I'd mention it.

ADDED: Why haven't people realized that Oumuamua is Lieutenant Custard's Banger of Time?

(Clearer audio here.)


Are you following Oumuamua — the cigar-shaped object that passed through our solar system last year?
A new paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics raises the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and traveling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an "artificial origin."

"'Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization," they wrote in the paper, which has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"Disturbingly long."

It's "disturbingly long" to Elon Musk.

Is it not disturbingly long to us ordinary human beings? And yet we submit to enclosure in tubes hurled far up into the air. Is the buried tube more disturbing?

It's clever to call the company The Boring Company, and not because puns are so damned wonderful but because boredom is the opposite of terror.

"Trump is the magic man" — said Ben Stein and Trump agreed.

Video of Ben Stein, at Mediaite:
"There’s only been five times in the last 105 years that an incumbent President has won seats in the Senate in the off-year election. Mr. Trump has magic about him. This guy has magic coming out his ears. He is an astonishing vote-getter, an astonishing campaigner. Republicans are unbelievably lucky to have him, and I’m just awed at how well they’ve done… It’s all the Trump magic. Trump is a magic man."
Trump tweeted the text of that quote, which you can see at Mediaite or in his Twitter feed, where you can also see his other reactions to yesterday's election results. Only 4 other tweets so far:

1. "Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!"

2. "@DavidAsmanfox 'How do the Democrats respond to this? Think of how his position with Republicans improves-all the candidates who won tonight. They realize how important he is because of what he did in campaigning for them. They owe him their political career.' Thanks, I agree!"

3. "Received so many Congratulations from so many on our Big Victory last night, including from foreign nations (friends) that were waiting me out, and hoping, on Trade Deals. Now we can all get back to work and get things done!"

4. "Ron DeSantis showed great courage in his hard fought campaign to become the Governor of Florida. Congratulations to Ron and family!"

That is, the one person he singled out, of all the many candidates he tried to help, is Ron DeSantis. That was 10 minutes ago, so expect more specific congratulations like that. I wonder if Trump will eventually address the GOP loss of the House, but I note that he concentrated his support on Senate candidates. Here's a list (at Wikipedia) of all of the rallies Trump has done since his election. There are a few of yesterday's losers on that list. One is Dean Heller, who lost his bid for the Senate seat for Nevada. Another is Leah Vukmir, who lost in my state, Wisconsin, as was predicted.

If you look at the Governors races, you'll see the Republicans lost a lot — the Democrats flipped 7 states — and one of the governor candidates for who lost despite a Trump rally, was Scott Walker. That was a completely close race, and who knows if Trump "magic" helped or hurt. Trump also rallied for Kris Kobach in Kansas and Adam Laxalt in Nevada, both of whom lost their race for Governor.

Anyway, Trump will, obviously, concentrate on his success with the Senate candidates. What can he say about the seats lost in the House? In the flippable districts, he really couldn't help, and he basically didn't try. I assume that means that, going forward, the House Republicans will be stauncher Republicans, and there will be a lot of Democrats who, facing reelection in 2020, will be susceptible to Trump's dealmaking. There will also be a lot of new, activist, left-wing Democrats to be wrangled. It will be interesting, and we'll see how Trump's "magic" works in the newly reconfigured game.

ADDED: Another new Trump tweet:
Those that worked with me in this incredible Midterm Election, embracing certain policies and principles, did very well. Those that did not, say goodbye! Yesterday was such a very Big Win, and all under the pressure of a Nasty and Hostile Media!
If you lost, it's your fault. If you won, it was thanks to me.

November 6, 2018

Watching the midterm election results.

1. How are you watching? The news channels have been nattering for hours about how to watch. They’re laying down the first phase of a narrative that we’ll look back on. In 2016, I didn’t fully appreciate the narrative at the time, and I don’t want to miss it this time. But I always assume things will be boring!

2. Seems fair to say it’s not a “blue wave.” 7:51 CT.

3. Fox News says the Democrats will take the House.

4. CNN says Cruz wins and GOP keeps the Senate.

What does Trump wish he could "take back and redo"? "I would say tone," he answers.

"I would like to have a much softer tone. I feel to a certain extent I have no choice, but maybe I do, and maybe I could have been softer, from that standpoint, but I want to get things done. We've had tremendous victories on trade, we've had tremendous victories on so many different things, on our military.... But I would say, if there's anything, I think tone would be, perhaps, something. I'm not sure that if I did that, maybe I'd be swamped — OK? — meaning, with the other side, because I wouldn't say their tone's been so nice either. But that would be something I would say that I'll be working on."

Let's be clear about what he said there. His unsoft tone may have been crucial to getting things done, things he's very proud of. He seems to regret only that it was necessary to forgo the soft tone, and he wants us to know that he prefers a soft tone, but he's doing something that's less personally pleasant for him because he needs to get things done for us. He blames the other side for being harsh and threatening to "swamp" him if he isn't tough. But he'll be working on tone, so it's something to hope for.

Is there a kinder, gentler Trump to come after the midterm elections? We saw a softer tone last night at the Cape Girardeau rally, when he presided over an 8-minute pause to wait for a woman to receive medical treatment. We need to see how the elections come out today, and how he is treated by "the other side." I don't think he will unilaterally disarm. He's clearly onto what I call "civility bullshit." But softer could work as a tactic, and our trickster President has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.

I was the 700-and-somethingst voter at my polling place, just before noon.

I walked right up to the A-L table, and no one was in front of me or behind me. We were in and out of there in no time.

It wasn't raining then, but it had been raining earlier. Rain averse people might be shying away. Who knows?

I was surprised to see there was a referendum on legalizing marijuana, so I just voted yes. I used to be against it, but I changed my mind for 2 reasons: 1. We're past the tipping point where too much is partly legal, and I don't like the confusion, and 2. I decided back in 2015 (after reading something about Henrik Ibsen) that that "substance-boosted disinhibition is important" because "freedom and democracy depend on our disinhibition; we need to be able to laugh at authority."

I'm not revealing any of the rest of my voting. It's too boring.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade offers what I take to be a poem and will reformat:
Because his name rhymes with “Golden Retrievers”
I would liked to have voted for Tony Evers
But for a number of other reasons I just couldn’t do it (including the fact
that instead of his political role model being Tommy Thompson,
Wisconsin’s former governor, it’s that son of a bitch Lyndon Johnson)

"How the Midterms Are Making Us Feel/Choose an emoji to add it to your approximate location."

At the NYT, it's about feelings. My feelings are neutral, but I didn't participate because the "neutral" face (purple) doesn't look neutral enough. It looks a little confused and ill at ease, and yet its neighbor "happy" (pink) looks too happy.

Excellent midterm election day graphic at Drudge.

It means: These elections are a referendum on Trump, and we don't know the answer yet.

Perhaps Drudge will lighten the image as the results come in and he's ready with a smiling face or a grim face. Perhaps something in between — or some face of puzzlement if it's close and there are recounts in the offing.

Abstention is a valid choice.

In a comments thread earlier this morning, richlb said:
Anne [sic] - I've tried to search and find your post from a few elections ago where you make an argument about NOT voting. I can't seem to locate it. On this election day, any chance to rerun it, or reference it?
In the comments, Meade located a post of mine from June 2012, "We're sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote":
This is an effort to shame and pressure people about voting, and it is truly despicable. Your vote is private, you have a right not to vote, and anyone who tries to shame and harass you about it is violating your privacy, and the assumption that I will become active in shaming and pressuring my neighbors is repugnant.

Not voting is a valid choice. If you don't have a preference in the election, don't vote. If you think no one deserves your vote, don't vote.
But this is a topic I've come back to. In April 2016, seeing President Obama appear on the "American Idol" finale, I wrote:
[Obama's] congratulations to the show morphed into a lecture on voting:
"Voting is the most fundamental and sacred right of our democracy. I believe it should be almost as easy as voting on 'American Idol,' and we're working on that. But when we choose not to vote we surrender that right."
Eh. What bilge. Voting is the most sacred right? Voting in elections should be like voting on "American Idol," where you call and text in multiple votes? And you surrender your right if you don't use it? No, you don't. Just as you have a right not to speak (as part of freedom of speech) and a right not to have a religion (as part of freedom of religion), the right to vote includes the right to abstain.

Dónde votar.

"You’re not allowed to use the word ‘beautiful’ anymore when you talk about women. It’s politically incorrect."

Said Trump at his Ohio rally Monday.

"I will never call a woman 'beautiful' again, and every man here — raise your hands — you will never, ever say your wife, your girlfriend, anybody — is 'beautiful.'"

Then, with mock puzzlement: "Oh? So, I'm not allowed to say it. Because, it's my daughter Ivanka, and she's really smart."

I'm seeing that at The Washington Post, under the headline "Introducing his daughter Ivanka at Cleveland rally, Trump vows never to call women 'beautiful.'"

Are they just pretending not to understand humor?

I feel a little sorry for them, the Trump haters. They're willfully deafening themselves to humor and missing out on some hilarious stuff.

The WaPo writer is Josh Dawsey, and he shows his laugh-withholding allegiance to the mores of The Era of That's Not Funny: "The remarks, part of an introduction of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, seemed a jab at the #MeToo movement."

"In an interview with The Times, Brandon Wade, the founder of SeekingArrangement, said his dating platform, which he has rebranded as Seeking, is not a vehicle for prostitution."

"The terms of service, he said, prohibit transactions for sex; the site simply seeks to bring the role that money plays in mating out in the open. 'We want to drive people to talk honestly on the first date about who they are and what they expect to gain from a relationship, just like you discuss in any business relationship and any business arrangement,' he said. If anything, a 'sugar baby' hoping to find a lasting arrangement with 'a good provider' should withhold sex for as long as possible, said the thrice-divorced Mr. Wade, who also runs other dating sites including, which promotes so-called 'ethical cheating.' 'The moment you give sex, you have lost all your power,' he said. That was a key theme of the keynote presentation he delivered at a Sugar Baby Summit (exploring 'the strategy behind living the sugar lifestyle') that he organized.... There, some 200 attendees, many silkily coifed young women, paid $50 apiece for admission to panels on topics like styling, personal branding and 'financial literacy.'"

From "A ‘Sugar Date’ Gone Sour/In the fuzzy space between jobs and relationships, there’s a lot that can go wrong" (NYT).

ADDED:From the SeekingArrangement website, an explanation of "What it means to be a Sugar Baby":
The Sugar Baby is empowered, because she is unafraid of setting a higher standard of whom they want in a romantic relationship hypergamy , and doing what is necessary to find that — even if society frowns on their approach.
The link on "hypergamy" goes to a page on the site headed "What is hypergamy?":
Hypergamy is the term social scientists use to refer to the phenomenon of women prioritizing wealth or social status in mate selection. Hypergamy is commonly referred to as trading or marrying up. There is a great deal of research that supports the notion that hypergamy plays a big part in female mate selection. Awareness of this female mating preference has caused a moral panic that upon consideration reveals itself as unjustified.

Trump pauses rally when a woman has a medical problem — and the pause goes on for 8 minutes. Trump at 6:25: "Take your time. Relax." At 6:50, the song "Amazing Grace" rises up from the crowd.

At 8:03, as the woman is being wheeled out on a stretcher, Trump: "That was really something. I want to just thank everybody for the way you behaved. That was beautiful and, at the end, was beautiful — 'Amazing Grace.' Thank you very much. That was beautiful."

Look, from 5:35, is this guy giving the Hitler salute?

No, go to 5:35 and see for yourself. The hand moves up and down. It's a "keep quiet" gesture after there's a bit of yelling in the crowd that has been almost entirely silent. What Trump was calling beautiful was not just the singing at the end — which happened only as they could see the woman was securely in the hands of medical professionals — but the quiet and calm throughout the whole period.

"These rallies are the envy of official Washington... There isn't a single elected official in either party who could do what this is tonight, other than Donald Trump. No one! And they're jealous. They are envious."

Rush Limbaugh at last night's Trump rally in Limbaugh's home town Cape Girardeau, Missouri:

"And this isn't supposed to happen. You people are supposed to love them. So guess what? They want to get in on it. Bill and Hillary Clinton and their national stadium tour.... Have you seen Obama? He's been stumping down in Florida, where I live. He's drawing crowds of a thousand people, two thousand people. Joe Biden can't fill a phone booth, because he's looking for somebody to punch out. This [gesturing at the size of the rally] is incredible!... When I first started watching the campaign, I watched the President and his family come down the escalator, in June of 2015, I heard his opening remarks, and I said this is [laughs], there's no way. And then I saw the first polls. And then I saw the first one of these, and I said, he's gonna win, because he has a connection. There is no other politician with a connection to voters like this. Nobody has it. And Washington can't stand it. I'm not kidding. The establishment cannot stand it at all."

I don't know what the actual crowd size for Obama has been (and I've looked), and I don't think Bill and Hillary are calling their tour a "stadium" tour. They're playing in 3,000-seat theaters (and they're charging big money — $59 to $745 a ticket — so it's no mere demonstration of love). But it's certainly true that Trump has set an insanely high new standard for what a political rally should look like. Can anyone else ever do it? Probably no one currently in the picture.

So "official Washington"/"the establishment" must surely hate it, and it's easy and fun to laugh at their dismay. But there are also a lot of ordinary people who don't like Trump and who look at these rallies and wonder what to think about it. The notion will need to be that rallies are bad. Large, enthusiastic crowds don't think clearly and make sound decisions about government. It's mob mentality. A big rally is a dangerous monster. It's scary. It feels like racism. Like Hitler. Etc. etc. That sort of spin is its own monster, gathering momentum and rolling out of control.

But it's election day. The big referendum on Trump. Maybe America will say no, and these crowds will come to represent Trump's limited appeal, a box he's built for himself. But if America says, yes... what then? Moderate that I am, I tend to think America will say... maybe.

November 5, 2018

At the Midterm Eve Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

The little bear.

"Why is (almost) nobody talking about Trump-Russia collusion? I'm ok either way, I just would like to know..."

"... why it was the #1 most important story in the world for so long and now it's not."

Tweets Sharyl Attkisson.

You know what Democrats are going to say if they don't win the House?

You might think Trump has set the midterms up as a referendum on himself, and I think that's true. But if the GOP wins, Trump antagonists are not going to give it to Trump and say his referendum passed and bow to democratic choice. They're going to say that racism won, and resisting and fighting is even more important now that we know so many Americans have been caught up in Trump's horrible scheme.

ADDED: I shouldn't have put a question mark in the post title. I really did mean you know. I'm not trying to be inventive. Sometimes there's reason to put the obvious down in print, to make a record in case anyone might doubt that we all knew. Also, it saves the trouble of having to write, after the fact, about not being surprised or wheel out the old "shocked, shocked" cliché one more time.

At the Day-Before-the-Deluge Café...

... talk about the midterms if you like. I'm tired of all the gabbing and need a break before the challenge of staying alert for the actual experience tomorrow. Feel free to talk about anything though.

A tribute to Wah Wah Watson.

"... whose sound was everywhere."

(Listen to the 3 audio tracks at the link, which goes to my son John's Facebook post and contains a lot of text from the NYT obituary. John picked some fantastic tracks to highlight the sound.)

ADDED: After listening to those 3 songs, I guessed it was him on this, and it is. Very distinctive sound on the first few notes:

"How Brain Science Could Determine the Midterms/Ever wonder why liberals and conservatives vote the way they do? It turns out they might literally be wired differently."

A Politico headline that misuses either the word "science" or the word "determine." The subheadline is worse: "Ever wonder why liberals and conservatives vote the way they do? It turns out they might literally be wired differently." Literally wired? Come on!

Anyway. Let's consider the notion that there's something scientists have discovered about the brain that might help us understand why an individual leans to the political left or right. The author — who probably didn't write the headline — is a professor and psychiatrist, Daniel Z. Lieberman:
The brain divides our thought life into two activities: appreciating what we have and desiring what we need.... The brain uses... chemicals like oxytocin, which encourages us focus on intimate relationships, and endorphins, which provide feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction. By contrast, desiring what we don’t have is the domain of a single chemical in the brain: dopamine. It gives us the drive to pursue new things....

Progressivism, the pursuit of progress, is, by definition, the pursuit of change, of new things. So, we might expect to see progressive ideology in people with more active dopamine circuits. And that’s just what we do find. Researchers from the University of California discovered that people who inherit particularly active dopamine receptor genes are more likely to subscribe to a liberal ideology. (They also tend to get bored easily and seek novelty, and can be impulsive, exploratory, excitable, quick-tempered and extravagant.)...
Why don't they like Trump? He's new, impulsive, exploratory, excitable, quick-tempered, and extravagant. Maybe it's that these dopamine folks want other people to stay put why they pursue newness and indulge their impulsive, exploratory, excitable, quick-tempered, and extravagant selves.
[P]eople with lower levels of dopamine and higher levels of the “Here & Now” brain chemicals are more likely to take their enjoyment from the appreciation of things they already have. They value tradition... A study of 1,771 students in Singapore found that conservative attitudes were more common among those who had a receptor gene that was less reactive to dopamine....
This sounds incredibly simplistic.
[C]onservative brains, chemically inclined toward preserving the here and now, are more sensitive to threats that might undermine their current way of life. When a group of volunteers were divided by political affiliation, researchers found that, compared to liberals, conservatives had a stronger physiological reaction to frightening images, such as a spider crawling on a man’s face.
Then why do lefties get so emotive in reaction to the sight of Trump's face and blurt feelings of disgust at his body, his hair, and his color?
This neuroscience suggests that the current confrontational political climate may be helping the conservative cause. News articles that describe public harassment by activists, for example, trigger threat circuits in the brain and can turn the ordinarily complacent conservative into an enthusiastic partisan.... In response, liberal leaders might reduce conservatives’ motivation to vote by playing down confrontation, and instead emphasizing the commonality all Americans share.
So the people you just described as "impulsive, exploratory, excitable, quick-tempered, and extravagant" are now the calm, quiet ones who keep everything in balance? I'm sure there's some brain science in there, but this article seems to have been processed into the usual pap for progressives. Why they continue to consume this stuff is a mystery, considering their vaunted love of newness and creativity.

The aptly named Joshua Quick. What weapon did he use to stop the yoga shooter? A vacuum cleaner.

"The gun stopped firing. I don't know if it jammed or what. So I used that opportunity to hit him over the head with [a vacuum cleaner]." The shooter used the jammed gun to hit Quick in the face, and Quick "jumped up as quickly as I could, ran back over and next thing you know, I'm grabbing a broom, anything I can. And I hit him again."

From "Hero who stopped incel yoga gunman by beating him with a vacuum cleaner: Student tells how he pounced on woman-hating shooter when his gun jammed after he killed two" (The Daily Mail).

What is a weapon? When is a person armed?

This is a question that's getting some attention after President Trump's remarks about the possibility of migrants in the caravan throwing rocks.

Here's "5 Questions About Rocks And Guns" (NPR).
Under the [Standard Rules for the Use of Force], as that code is known, the use of deadly force is justified "only when there is a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to a person."...

Would throwing rocks be legally considered "an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm?"

That question remains to be settled in a case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. It involves the 2010 fatal shooting by a U.S. Border Patrol agent of a 16-year-old Mexican boy who the agent says was throwing rocks from the other side of the border....

"I didn't see evil when I looked into Robert Bowers’ eyes. All I saw was a clear lack of depth, intelligence, and palpable amounts of confusion."

"Robert Bowers probably had no friends, was easily influenced by propaganda, and wanted attention on a sociopathic level... He’s the kind of person that is easily manipulated by people with a microphone, a platform, and use fear for motivation.... I wanted him to feel compassion. I chose to show him empathy. I felt that the best way to honor his victims was for a Jew to prove him wrong... Robert Bowers thanked me for saving him, for showing him kindness, and for treating him the same way I treat every other patient.... The fact that this shooting took place doesn’t shock me. To be honest, it’s only a matter of time before the next one happens."

Wrote Ari Mahler, quoted in "Jewish nurse who treated synagogue killer saw lack of intelligence in gunman and treated him with 'love'" (Daily News).

ADDED: Full text of Mahler's Facebook post:

Levels of the apocalypse.

What do you do when you've maxed out on hyperbole?

You act as though there are levels.

The headline is on the front page of WaPo. The article is here. I can see that I'm supposed to be alarmed, but I'm completely jaded. And that trickster Trump has a media-created privilege to say anything he likes. When the real apocalypse arrives, how will we know?

November 4, 2018

"[P]urely from the vantage point of Trump’s self-interest — particularly as it relates to winning reelection in 2020 — there is a compelling case to be made that a Democratic House might be a good thing..."

Writes Aaron Blake in WaPo.
The first reason is that voters seem to like divided government... The second is that it gives Trump a boogeyman — or, more apt, a boogeywoman... Nancy Pelosi...

Trump could also blame the Democratic House for his continued failures to live up to his many, many promises.... If you are going to have gridlock, you might as well have someone on which to blame it who is not in your own party.

And, finally, even that subpoena power could pose some tough choices for Democrats. There will be pressure from the party’s base to go after Trump heard and even impeach him, but we’ve seen how that can lead to overreach — most notably, when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. And Democratic leaders have already telegraphed a wariness about that. What happens when they actually have power and the base wants them to go further than they think is prudent?...

"Trump’s use of Air Force One is raising questions about the ethics and protocol of using a military asset for political purposes."

"But ethics experts said there is no law preventing Trump from campaigning within view of the plane. And they note that the president, as well as the vice president, is exempt from the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity. 'It’s a question of appearance,' said Richard W. Painter, ethics czar in the Bush White House and an outspoken critic of Trump’s ethics practices. 'It’s highly inappropriate, but there’s nobody who can go sanction him for standing in front of the plane to give a political speech. It’s not illegal.'... The president does not have the option of flying commercial or using his personal plane for political events. He is required to fly Air Force One for all of his travel, including vacations, because of the security and communications systems aboard. During the 2016 campaign, Trump used his personal Boeing 757 — branded Trump Force One — at his rallies, pulling the plane up to near the stage to great fanfare... But in February 2017, when Trump held his first airport hangar rally as president, the White House said it would not use Air Force One 'in the background as a prop.' That policy was clearly dropped as the president’s campaigning picked up pace, however...."

From "A ‘there-it-is’ moment: Trump wows fans by using Air Force One as a campaign prop" (WaPo).

"[T]he caravan was organized through social media in Honduras, initially planned as one of many such caravans that have left Central American in recent years."

"But this one quickly grew in size, stoked partly by opposition activists in Honduras, as well as by a Trump administration eager to play to its anti-immigrant base.... [Ruben Figueroa, a leader of the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, said,] 'Those of us who have been part of this process for years can tell you exactly who organized these people to migrate—they’re named hunger and violence... It got big fast because the migrants know the barbarity they’ll face while traveling through Mexico.'  They know that in a hostile environment, there’s safety in numbers.... The [World Social Forum on Migrations] seeks to do the same on a social level. It’s part of what Figueroa calls 'radical solidarity'—solidarity that goes beyond humanitarian assistance and shares responsibility for ending the vicious cycle of displacement, detention, and deportation and imagining freedom."

From "Why the Refugee Caravan Is So Big—and What We Need to Do About It/'Central America just couldn’t take it anymore.'" (The Nation).

"Wealthy individuals... well-funded nonprofits and even corporations like Walmart have begun buying deserted American main streets, hoping to reinvent them with a fresh aesthetic."

"The people behind these ventures frequently install their friends and acquaintances in storefronts, while attempting to preserve (or exploit, depending whom you ask) local history.... In addition to the art gallery [in Mountain Dale, NY], there’s an antiques store specializing in old-timey Americana, a vintage shop run by a breeder of Angora bunnies, a conceptual boutique that also shows art and an apothecary run by a fashion model.... Similar changes are happening in Wardensville, W.Va..... Over the last five years, Paul Yandura and his partner Donald Hitchcock purchased a handful of buildings there.... 'It’s about the nostalgia, the country, being out in fresh air,' Mr. Yandura said. The couple, former L.G.B.T.Q. activists and Democratic operatives, turned an old feed store into a fancy coffee shop and country market called the Lost River Trading Post, keeping many of the original details, like the grain chute. They renovated a ramshackle farmhouse into a bakery and started an organic farm... Many longtime residents still prefer to patronize Wardensville restaurants that either predate Mr. Yandura and Mr. Hitchcock’s activity or that locals have since opened... Mr. Yandura said he gets it: 'We’re creating a sense of place, but a sense of place is a tourist activity.'"

From "Can You Curate a Town?/Even Walmart wants to bring back ye olde Main Street" (NYT).

"Freebirth, or home birth without assistance,... has gone from a back-of-the-cab accident to a conscious lifestyle choice."

"In blog posts and viral videos, its adherents extoll the benefits of birthing at home or even in the wild. There are entire podcasts dedicated to freebirthing, with women discussing the 'ecstatic' experience of giving birth in a snowed-in yurt or on a remote Hawaiian island... [T]he Free Birth Society was the largest unassisted-birth page on Facebook before it closed down.... Members rejoiced in each other’s pregnancies, answered each other’s questions, and commiserated over those who didn’t understand their choice. They also subscribed to a strict code of conduct: Comments encouraging other members to seek treatment, or questioning a women’s autonomy in any way, would quickly be deleted... A group of concerned outsiders, worried the freebirthers were being reckless, had set up fake 'sock puppet' accounts to gain entry to the private group and monitor its members. The interlopers saw themselves as sentries, keeping watch over alternative-lifestyle practitioners they believed were putting their babies in harm’s way. The sock puppets took screenshots of [posts by 'Lisa,' a woman who was in labor for 6 days] and posted them in their own groups, sparking instant outcry from their followers.... Still other commenters reached out to Lisa directly.... 'What should have been a time of grieving and mourning alone with my family was now a time of defending myself from evil people and their horrible words,' Lisa told The Daily Beast in an email.... The lurkers brought her posts to bloggers in the pro-science community like Katie Paulson, a writer for faith-centered website Patheos. Paulson turned around nine blog posts about the incident in the span of two weeks, with headlines like, 'Mother Decides to have an Unassisted Childbirth and Kills Her Baby.'"

From "She Wanted a ‘Freebirth’ at Home. When the Baby Died, the Attacks Began/The stillbirth of Journey Moon prompted sympathy—and a backlash" (Daily Beast).

The audacity of hope.

"Hillary Clinton remains the Democrats best chance to defeat Trump in 2020" (Chicago-Sun Times).
Clinton remains the best-known and most accomplished potential Democratic candidate in the nation. She and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, bring immense star power. There is a greater determination than ever, across the nation, to elect the first women president, thanks to Donald Trump and the Me-Too movement. And millions of voters — not just diehard Democrats — believe they were robbed in 2016. They crave payback. A Trump/Clinton rematch would be the riveting political story of the century....
The 2020 campaign season begins in 3 days. Are you ready for the riveting rematch?

I'm still using my "Hillary goes away" tag. I'm not ready to make a "Hillary 2020." Everything about staying is still, so far — for the purposes of this blog — a subcategory of going away. And yet... there is always hope.

Comedy "doesn’t feel right anymore," says Lisa Lampanelli, who is quitting stand-up comedy.

She announced on Howard Stern's radio show a few days ago.
Lampanelli’s rise to prominence as a top-tier insult comic came in 2002 when she showcased her crass style at the Friars Club Roast honoring Chevy Chase. She has since become a fixture at those events, skewering everyone from President Trump to David Hasselhoff. While she plans to remain a member of the Friars Club, she said comedy “doesn’t feel right anymore” and she’s glad to leave the jokes to other comics.

“I’m not going to lie, I’d get off stage and I’d go ‘I hope that guy I made fun of was OK’ or ‘I hope that guy doesn’t feel like he didn’t know what he was in for,’” she confessed.
Here she is talking to Stern and saying her "message of including people through insults is getting lost, and now maybe, God forbid, I'm being misunderstood by different races, transgender people, gay people, even though I have love in my heart":

She wants to do something that has a "clear message to make people feel better about themselves." Her new routine has a big weight-loss theme (which, I don't know, does that deliver a clear message and help you feel better?):
“Do you spend much of your day obsessing about what you’re eating and how you’re eating it,” Lampanelli said. “Do you feel guilty about eating, hate yourself for eating what you enjoy, and cram down foods that are ‘good for you’?”

Well, she has too, Lampanelli said, and the workshop will provide participants with the tools they need to get them on a path to inner peace when it comes to food and body image. The workshop will use storytelling, sharing, meditation, journaling, brainstorming, deep listening and self-reflection.
For old time's sake, here she is roasting Donald Trump, and you can see him laughing at her insults:

Those were the days... before The Era of That's Not Funny kicked in.

I imagine that Lampanelli's move is influenced by the critical acclaim bestowed on Hannah Gadsby's show "Nanette." Here's the NYT last May:
Her self-mocking nebbish is a familiar persona, but there comes a moment when she drops and deconstructs it.... “Do you know what self-deprecation means coming from somebody who exists on the margins?” she asks. “It is not humility; it is humiliation.”...

[S]he explains that good stories have three parts (beginning, middle and end) while jokes require two (setup and punch line), which means that to end on a laugh, comics often need to cut off the most important and constructive element, where hindsight, perspective and catharsis exist.

“A joke is a question, artificially inseminated with tension,” she says, before explaining the mechanics of her job. “I make you all tense and then I cure it with a laugh. And you say: ‘Thanks for that, I was feeling a bit tense.’” Then in one of many tonal shifts, she raises her voice, irritated at the audience’s hypothetic gratitude: “But I made you tense!”

Then she points to the audience and back at her and quips, darkly: “This is an abusive relationship.”...

"The idea of putting the [Foxconn] plant in southeastern Wisconsin originated in April of 2017, during a helicopter ride President Donald Trump took with Reince Priebus..."

"... a Wisconsin native and Trump’s chief of staff at the time. Flying over Kenosha, Priebus’s home town, they passed the empty lot that once held the American Motors Corporation plant. 'Why is all that land vacant?' Trump asked, according to an account Priebus gave to a Milwaukee television station. 'That land should be used.' When Terry Gou, Foxconn’s chairman, came to the White House to discuss Foxconn’s desire to build a U.S. factory, Trump suggested the site in Kenosha. It wasn’t big enough, but the town of Mt. Pleasant, fifteen miles north, pursued the company aggressively, and was ultimately selected by Foxconn in October of 2017. The project moved quickly. Last June, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Mt. Pleasant to celebrate a political triumph for Trump and [Governor Scott] Walker...."

From "Did Scott Walker and Donald Trump Deal Away the Governor’s Race to Foxconn?/As the public has become aware of the spiraling costs associated with building a new Foxconn plant in Wisconsin, the deal has become something of a political liability for the state’s governor" (The New Yorker). I'm not sure what "Deal Away the Governor’s Race" means, though it seems clear that the deal is done and voting for Walker's opponent (Tony Evers) won't change that. I guess it means that Scott Walker may lose the governor's race because he made that deal.

"While political strategists and public opinion experts agree that Mr. Trump’s greatest electoral weakness is among female voters..."

"... here in Columbia [Missouri] and places like it, the president enjoys a herolike status among women who say he is fighting to preserve a way of life threatened by an increasingly liberal Democratic Party.... Some of Mr. Trump’s female backers initially supported him only reluctantly or do so now in spite of reservations about his bawdy language and erratic behavior. But they shared in his victory after the bitter and partisan battle over the confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. And many believe the president when he reminds them during each of his hourlong pep rallies that the world they know — largely Christian, conservative and white — is at stake on Tuesday.... Rachell Marks, 59, who works in car sales in Billings, Mont., said she would continue to support Mr. Trump because she believed he told the truth. 'I have an infatuation and a love for this man that’s not normal,' Ms. Marks said. 'I give the highest respect when people are telling the truth and giving their political power. If anything, I have a deeper respect now.'"

From "At Trump Rallies, Women See a Hero Protecting a Way of Life" (NYT). Worth clicking just to see the fantastic photograph of Rachell Marks. Other great photos too. I give the NYT credit for trying to understand the women who it would be so easy to dismiss as not making sense. And the blending in of the "experts" is just plain funny, intentionally or not.

"My God... he’s black," said Norman Lear, introducing Andrew Gillum, and his joke "killed"...

... according to the NYT, in "Jimmy Buffett and ‘MAGA’ Hats: Scenes From the U.S. Just Before a Tight Election" (an article that has a correction note about misspelling Buffett's name in the original headline.)

Andrew Gillum is the Democratic Party nominee for governor in Florida. Norman Lear is the ancient TV producer and political activist. Lear is 96 years old, so maybe he has the privilege to use the sort of humor that Americans less obviously close to the end no longer risk.

"'I bear a very heavy burden of responsibility,' [Gary] Hart says, picking at a 'game plate' of elk, buffalo and quail at The Fort restaurant outside of Denver."

"If all that stuff had not happened and if I had been elected, there would have been no gulf war. H.W. wouldn’t have been president. W. wouldn’t have been president. Everything would have changed. I don’t say that to aggrandize myself. It’s just, history changed. And that has haunted me for thirty years. I had only one talent and it wasn’t traditional politics — I could see farther ahead than anybody."

Writes Maureen Dowd in "Trump and the Hart-less Presidency/After 30 years, Gary Hart still wonders what might have been."

I'm blogging this because I love the line "picking at a 'game plate' of elk, buffalo and quail." Somehow Hart and Dowd have found themselves at a table at this restaurant, and Hart orders the "game plate" of elk, buffalo and quail, presumably because that make him look like the guy he wants her to think he is, but then he only picks at it, because even after all these years and at his advanced age, he can't just be the person he really is.

And what a gasbag! "I could see farther ahead than anybody." You couldn't see far enough ahead to the part where the newsfolk you told to follow you around actually followed you around and discovered the tacky sex you were enjoying in contravention of your upstanding family-man image.

Here's the idiotic photograph that destroyed him:

And here's Hugh Jackman dressed up to play Gary Hart in a movie based on his ridiculous debacle:

The movie comes from the 2014 book "All the Truth Is Out" by Matt Bai, which I've read and blogged a couple times. Dowd tracks what Bai has written:
Before Hart, we had F.D.R., L.B.J. and J.F.K., who did not suffer politically for dalliances because the mostly male press corps had a bro-code and a blind eye. After Hart, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump got through frenzies about sexual transgressions by enduring the ridicule, enlisting their wives to defend them on TV, and attacking their accusers.

But the scratchy Hart wasn’t made that way. The adultery story enhanced the sense that he was an enigma, a story line that developed when the press learned that he had changed his name from Hartpence and fudged his age by a year....
Dowd questions Hart about whether he should have done something different. Should he have fought back, like Clinton and Trump?
In 1998, in the midst of the Clinton-Lewinsky uproar, Hart told me that he thought America might be getting more European about pols and sex, “growing up, finding out there is not a Santa Claus.” I am not sure that’s true. We have not reached any consensus on the issue, except that most strategists know better than to publicly trash the women at the center of such scandals....

But last year, in the midst of the #Metoo reckoning, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand criticized Al Franken after he was accused of groping and faux-groping for a joke picture, and told The Times that Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Lewinsky matter. The standards remain subjective, inconsistently applied and partisan....
Not sure... no consensus... subjective... Dowd is vague. And Hart must have been vague too, since there's no answer from him, other than the idea that "America might be getting more European," which seems laughably tone-deaf about how Americans feel and hopelessly far from understanding why people embrace Trump. Weren't Americans supposed to be prudes — so un-European?

Dowd began the column with an admission that she can't understand her own country:
As we fantasize about a parallel universe, where America is not a joke and our president cares about other human beings, the same questions keep swirling in our heads. What has happened to this country? Can he be stopped? When will it end? How the hell did we get here?
As we fantasize... We? "We" must mean We, the People of the more European part of America.