February 9, 2019

At the Raturday Night Café...

... we're electrified at the prospect of all-night conversation.

And please be a doll and use the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you need to buy anything. A nice men's towel wrap maybe.

"Collegiality wise it was you stepping on my dick."

Wrote Jake Tapper, in email to Buzzfeed's Ben Smith, quoted in "Emails Reveal Jake Tapper Ripping BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith as ‘Irresponsible’ For Publishing Trump Dossier" (Mediaite).

Male bravado, even in humiliation. It's a funny expression. You've got the concession that the other man has impinged on you and hurt you, but you've worked in an image of your huge, out-there dick.

ADDED: In other news of newsfolk talking about body parts, there's "Rachel Maddow Skewers Matt Whitaker for Chugging Water at Hearing: 'A Lullaby for Your Kidney Health.'" I guess that's all they had on Matt Whitaker. Matt Watertaker. So much less amusing that "Collegiality wise it was you stepping on my dick." But to be fair to Rachel. She was on TV. We're not seeing her email, which might have much sexier body parts than kidneys.

Elizabeth Warren just gave a fantastic speech — announcing her candidacy.

I don't see how she could have done any better. Her delivery — the passion, inflection, energy, clarity — is as close to perfect as I can imagine from someone who's found her way into the position to run for the presidency.

I'm not saying I agree substantively. I'm talking about the sheer achievement in speech giving. And you may remember that my instant reaction to Trump's SOTU was, "That was damn near perfect. So upbeat, full of optimism."

I appreciate a great speech. And Elizabeth Warren just delivered the hell out of one. If you're not willing to concede that, then I think you can't distinguish form from substance.

Much of what she said was about the troubles of the middle class, and it sounded a lot like Trump. There were many times when I said out loud, "This is like Trump." And she got a crowd reaction that reminded me of Trump's. People cheered and chants got going.

Unlike so many candidates, she sounds as though she's really feeling what she is saying. In the very beginning there was a sobbing quality to her voice, but as she warmed up, it became excellent passion and energy. It was so different from Hillary, who could sound robotic or like some acting coach had taught her how to give the impression of human feeling. Warren seems to have a strong natural talent for speaking to a crowd, really coming alive in front of a crowd.

I'm thoroughly impressed.

"But look, I was trying to write a seamless narrative, and to keep breaking it up with 'according to' qualifiers would have been extremely clunky. But in retrospect, I wish I’d done that."

Jill Abramson, caught and waffling.

Interviewed at Vox.
Sean Illing —Would you call any of this plagiarism?

Jill Abramson — No, I wouldn’t. This was completely unintentional. I mean, I have 70 pages of footnotes and I tried to credit everyone’s work as best I can. What we’re talking about here are sets of facts that I borrowed; obviously, the language is too close in some cases, but I’m not lifting original ideas. Again, I wish I had got the citation right, but it’s not an intentional theft or taking someone’s original ideas — it’s just the facts. But I’m owning it and I’m disappointed in myself for these mistakes.

Sean Illing — I grant that plagiarism is a fluid concept and it’s not always clear where the lines are.... [T]hose facts had to be collected and corroborated by the people you borrow from, so in that sense, you are stealing their labor, no?

Jill Abramson — I’m not going to get into a semantic argument about whether this fits some definition or not. I really think I’ve talked about this in full, and really would love to move on.

You know me — I said, last December, "Why aren't the Democratic candidates better? I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar."


So what am I supposed to do with this: "Staffers, Documents Show Amy Klobuchar’s Wrath Toward Her Aides/'It’s hard to explain the anxiety that permeates the office,' a former staffer for the Minnesota Democrat told BuzzFeed News."

I could say, eh, it's BuzzFeed, well known fake-newsers.

Or I could say, this is what they do to women. The same thing that would be tolerated (or even celebrated) in a man is terrible in a woman. Oh, Amy's not nice enough. Every single woman who could pull off the presidency is not nice enough in your perverted sexist little world.

From the article:
But behind the doors of her Washington, DC, office, the Minnesota Democrat ran a workplace controlled by fear, anger, and shame, according to interviews with eight former staffers, one that many employees found intolerably cruel. She demeaned and berated her staff almost daily, subjecting them to bouts of explosive rage and regular humiliation within the office, according to interviews and dozens of emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News.
This reminds me of the way the media talk about Trump. He's always raging behind closed doors. He's so angry! What a loose cannon! I have never bought into that tale-telling.
That anger regularly left employees in tears, four former staffers said. She yelled, threw papers, and sometimes even hurled objects; one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen, though the staffer said the senator did not intend to hit anyone with the binder when she threw it.
I've heard of binders full of women. She's a woman full of binders. Notice: "accidentally hit." Remember when Hillary Clinton threw a lamp at Bill? Yeah, Snopes calls that a "legend."
The New York Times summed up the then-prevalent view of Hillary as “a lamp-throwing Delilah, emasculating her weak husband.” This aptly presented why, once the rumor was up and running, it continued to be repeated — it confirmed an image of the First Lady that was already widely suspected.
Back to the legend of Angry Amy:
“I cried. I cried, like, all the time,” said one former staffer.

In the emails seen by BuzzFeed, often sent between 1 and 4 in the morning, Klobuchar regularly berated employees, often in all capital letters, over minor mistakes, misunderstandings, and misplaced commas....
Email sent in the middle of the night isn't like a phone call in the middle of the night. The recipient gets it the next time they check their email. If your boss tells you your written work is full of little errors, you should get on it and proofread much, much more and strive for the level she's set. Yeah, maybe you would cry over falling short of her standard, but move on and get better. How did she act when you did a good job?
As Klobuchar prepares to potentially announce a presidential campaign Sunday, four of those former staffers said they were sharing emails and anecdotes with BuzzFeed News because they believe that insight into her office reflects on the senator’s ability to run the country. 
Sounds like she should have fired them.  They deserved to be fired, were given more of a chance, and they turned on their boss, and are getting revenge now. If it "reflects on the senator’s ability to run the country," how does it reflect? I don't think the President should be about coddling insiders who don't perform up to standard. The President works for us, and we are on the outside, not close to him/her where we can cry for leniency. Find the best people and make them do a great job or — as they say in Trumpspeak — "You're fired." Maybe the problem with Amy is that she didn't fire these people. She had incompetent snakes in the office and she hoped against hope that they'd get better.
Some former staffers have gone on the record to defend Klobuchar. “Amy was one of the best bosses I’ve had,” said Asal Sayas, who was referred to BuzzFeed by Klobuchar’s office and worked as her director of scheduling for three years. “I found her to be incredibly fair and extremely effective.”

The senator “cared deeply for me as her staffer," said Kali Cruz, who worked for her during her first term in the Senate. "When I was pregnant with my first baby, she threw me a baby shower, opening up her home and cooking a meal for my family and friends. We worked hard, but we always had some fun, too.”
You know what I like about Sayas and Cruz? I can see their names.  Meanwhile:
The employees [with bad things to say] all asked not to be named, most because of fear of retribution from Klobuchar.... They were hesitant to describe specific incidents on the record, or publish the text of emails, because they feared it would make them identifiable to the senator.
“Women shouldn’t be expected to nurture their employees or colleagues more than men, and they should be no less entitled to challenge them,” Sayas said. “As a strong woman, it was inspiring to work for another strong woman that was direct, incredibly smart, and a leader.”
That's a good theory, but awful women can use that as a cover. If you criticize me, I'll call you a sexist. And I'm afraid of having a woman President, because we will get called sexist when we criticize her. Sayas says "Women shouldn’t be expected to nurture their employees or colleagues," but by the same token, we the people shouldn't be expected to nurture a female office-holder.

BuzzFeed tells us the unnamed bad-mouthers are "experienced congressional employees who say they have worked with difficult lawmakers" and they found Klobuchar "uniquely unbearable."
Anything could set her temper off, they said... minor grammar mistakes, the use of the word “community” in press releases, forgetting to pack the proper coat in her suitcase, failing to charge her iPad, and using staples. “Two months later, that changes, and she’s really pissed about paper clips,” said the second former staffer....
"Community" — ha ha. I agree. Come on. Once you know the person you're writing for hates a word, you don't use that word. If that's too hard to get right, she shouldn't have you ghostwriting for her. I don't use ghostwriters myself, but if you were my ghostwriter and you studded the text with "garner," I would know you were either incompetent or out to get me. You're fired.

"Wish you could have seen the Seattle-area panic shopping yesterday."

"People in the grocery stores were buying everything in the store, because of the prospect of 3 or 4 days of snow. It was hilarious. The Governor declared a state of emergency. When I was at Loring AFB, we called this weather 'springtime.' I remember an April Fool's day in Denver in 1980 or 81 when we had 11 inches of snowfall over night, and by noon it was in the 60's. Imagine 11 inches of slush. Today's weather gave us maybe an inch of snow. God help us."

Writes alanc709 in last night's café.


February 8, 2019

At the Green Mouse Café...

... you can talk all night.

Like Elizabeth Warren, Scott Adams grew up believing he had substantial Native American ancestry... and he confesses that he once checked the box as Native American to see what would happen.

It had a radical affect on the college application process, he says. Offers of full scholarships poured in...

... but that made him realize it wasn't right to hold himself out as Native American. He didn't take any of the offers and he didn't check the box again.

"I'll tell ya — checking the box back in my childhood opened up the heavens, and you got free stuff."

Adams does however endorse checking the box if you are low-income person who can honestly check the box and take advantage in a way the system was designed to give advantage. If that's what you did, then "I don't think there's anything to apologize for."

But in his case, he says, "it was a step too far." He knew, even at the time, it would be wrong for him. But he "won't hold it against" Elizabeth Warren if she identified herself in the way she believed was true and took the advantage that the system was trying to give people who were what she believed she was. "She wasn't rich either, was she?"

Adams doesn't talk about whether he would advise his younger self to take the scholarships. If it was good ethics for Warren to take the advantage, was teenage Scott Adams deluded to deny himself a benefit? And Elizabeth Warren continued to take advantage far into her adulthood. What does Scott think about that? He doesn't say.

By the way, I don't believe Warren has apologized for holding herself out as a person with Native American ancestry and accepting the advantages that flowed from that self-identification. I think she's only apologized for failing to acknowledge that American Indian tribes care about tribal membership and object to individuals self-identifying based on their own claims of ancestry or genetic tests. She still asserts, I believe, that she never checked the box dishonestly and even claims that her DNA test, which shows a smidgeon of Native American ancestry, supports her family's story, which was the basis of her belief that she could check the box.

And Scott Adams eventually took a DNA test too. He has no Native American ancestry at all.

Not taking the time to look carefully.

From Intelligencer, a subdivision of New York Magazine. Here's my screen shot. Click to enlarge and clarify. The picture caption reads "Justice Kagan, top right, wrote the dissent."

In case it's not obvious to you, Justice Kagan is not even in that picture.

The executed man, Domineque Ray, asked to have his imam present. The Eleventh Circuit court granted a stay of execution. The Supreme Court majority took into account that Ray's application for a stay was "last minute." (I'm reading the opinion now.) Justice Kagan dissented:
This Court is ordinarily reluctant to interfere with the substantial discretion Courts of Appeals have to issue stays when needed.... Here, Ray has put forward a powerful claim that his religious rights will be violated at the moment the State puts him to death. The Eleventh Circuit wanted to hear that claim in full. Instead, this Court short-circuits that ordinary process—and itself rejects the claim with little briefing and no argument—just so the State can meet its preferred execution date.
The crime — murder of a 15-year-old girl — took place 20 years ago. But, as Kagan put it...
[T]here is no reason Ray should have known, prior to January 23, that his imam would be granted less access than the Christian chaplain to the execution chamber.

Celine Liu edits herself into old photographs of celebrities...

"I think people who show up on the screen are glorious.... So this series was created to fulfill my childhood wish, which was to become an icon by standing with the stars," she said. So we see her with Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. And she also puts herself on the scene with intellectuals — Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, and Simone de Beauvoir.

Did you think Simone de Beauvoir would shoot a gun... like that?


Example: Alex said:
Kirby Jenner, the "Fraternal Twin of Kendall Jenner" is a brilliant parody Instagram account where he pastes himself into photos of Kendall. I couldn't care less about the Kardashians but I am fascinated by the fashion and Photoshop skills on display.
Ha ha. Great! So much more fun than Celine Liu. I enjoyed them all — here — but let me pick out one.

AND: Well, you can probably tell I picked that one because of my longstanding "men in shorts" theme. So let me give you this one too, because it has another one of my themes:

How can you ever be unhappy when you live in a world with music...

... and a guy who does this —

Thanks to my son John for sending me that... after I sent him this...

Both videos are by Doodle Chaos, and there's more Doodle Chaos here.

AND: You can see Doodle Chaos as one of a group of 6 individuals who call themselves The Lemonade Machine at the end of this video which shows an elaborate device which could also be called The Lemonade Machine:

"From elementary school through college, girls are more disciplined about their schoolwork than boys; they study harder and get better grades."

"Girls consistently outperform boys academically. And yet, men nonetheless hold a staggering 95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies. What if those same habits that propel girls to the top of their class — their hyper-conscientiousness about schoolwork — also hold them back in the work force?... So how do we get hyper-conscientious girls (and boys, as there certainly are some with the same style) to build both confidence and competence at school?... Th[e] experience — of succeeding in school while exerting minimal or moderate effort — is a potentially crucial one. It may help our sons develop confidence, as they see how much they can accomplish simply by counting on their wits. For them, school serves as a test track, where they build their belief in their abilities and grow increasingly at ease relying on them. Our daughters, on the other hand, may miss the chance to gain confidence in their abilities if they always count on intellectual elbow grease alone."

From "Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office/Hard work and discipline help girls outperform boys in class, but that advantage disappears in the work force. Is school the problem?" by the clinical psychologist Lisa Lamour. That's at the NYT, where the highly rated comments are very resistant and want to talk about sex discrimination in the workplace and the demands of childcare.

I'm interested in this subject of the downside of conscientiousness. My tag for it is "scrupulosity."

"I think I never felt more sexually alive than in my 50s and 60s, and yes, even 70s, free from the dangers of childbirth but with sensuality aflame."

"For women of my generation, who grew up without birth control pills or much sex education, a lot about sex was fraught. And later, sex in long-term relationships can become routine. But life brings unexpected changes. Marriages end. And I have found that love later in life has been every bit as enthralling as when I was young. As we age, we can gain a comfort level with ourselves that lets us pursue whatever we wish, without shame. Even my mother’s reproving voice died down long ago (mostly), and I have felt myself free to choose whom I wanted — or not — and to act from my core."

From "At What Age Is Love Enthralling? 82/A confession of attraction from a man 30 years younger causes an octogenarian to reflect on desire, sensuality and aging" by Sophy Burnham (NYT).

Chief Justice Roberts joins the 4 liberal Justices to block a new Louisiana law that would have left the state with only one abortion clinic.

The NYT reports.
The court’s brief order gave no reasons, and its action — a temporary stay — did not end the case. The court is likely to hear a challenge to the law on the merits in its next term, which starts in October....

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh said they would have denied the stay. Only Justice Kavanaugh published a dissent, taking a middle position that acknowledged the key precedent and said he would have preferred more information on the precise effect of the law....
The Louisiana law is about requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals, and the constitutional question is whether that puts an "undue burden" on the right to have an abortion. Kavanaugh's idea is that if the law is allowed to go into effect it will create evidence of how difficult it really is for doctors to get the admitting privileges, which would put the Court in a better position to assess whether there's an "undue burden."

Here's Kavanaugh's opinion. Excerpt:
[E]ven without a stay, the status quo will be effectively preserved for all parties during the State’s 45-day regulatory transition period. I would deny the stay without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ ability to bring a later as-applied complaint and motion for preliminary injunction at the conclusion of the 45-day regulatory transition period if the Fifth Circuit’s factual prediction about the doctors’ ability to obtain admitting privileges proves to be inaccurate....

The law has not yet taken effect, so the case comes to us in the context of a pre-enforcement facial challenge. That means that the parties have offered, in essence, competing predictions about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges....

Before us, the case largely turns on the intensely factual question whether the three doctors—Doe 2, Doe 5, and Doe 6—can obtain admitting privileges. If we denied the stay, that question could be readily and quickly answered without disturbing the status quo or causing harm to the parties or the affected women, and without this Court’s further involvement at this time.... [D]uring the 45-day transition period, both the doctors and the relevant hospitals could act expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges....
Most of the news reports concentrate on John Roberts. I don't find his vote surprising at all. I've observed throughout my years as a law professor that the Court has a center, a powerful position to occupy, and it won't stay empty. Someone (or 2) will always move into it. There will be a lot of talk about whether the new centrist moved into the center or whether the other Justices in his/her wing of the Court got more extreme, creating the appearance that sticking to the same place caused the new centrist to be in the center. It's the mystery of centrism. Contemplate it or take my word for it, but John Roberts is obviously destined to be the man in the middle.

"I always say this is one city of 400,000 people divided by a fence. But now it’s divided by concertina wire."

"If the president gets his billions of dollars they’re not going to spend it in Nogales. We’ve had a wall. Now we have a wall with concertina wire."

Said Arturo Garino, the mayor of Nogales, Arizona, quoted in "Trump’s troop deployment strung ‘lethal’ razor wire on the border. This city has had enough" (WaPo). The city already has an 18-foot fence, but now there are rows of coils of razor wire.
The tensions with the town have been exacerbated by the fact that federal authorities have shut out local officials from the process, Garino said.... He shared his concerns during a sit down with three agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday, but said they had a ready made response, speaking about “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” and telling him that they had had a lot of incidents with people jumping the fence, he said.

“But that was strange, because the police chief, assistant chief and deputy city manager were there, and we don’t know of those things happening,” Garino said. “I don’t know where they’re getting their stats.... They can’t say they’re putting something up to protect us.... .They’re putting up something that’s lethal all the way to the ground.”....

The city’s fate is closely connected to Nogales, Mexico — a bustling city of a few hundred thousand on the other side of the fence with which it exchanges millions of dollars of goods and other commerce every year, Garino said. This symbiosis has given rise to a name that marries the two cities, despite the boundary between them: Ambos Nogales, or Both Nogales in Spanish.

February 7, 2019

At the Green-Eyed Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

As for news of my left eye — it's 20/20.

"I browsed around and met Izzy Young, the proprietor. Young was an old-line folk enthusiast..."

"... very sardonic and wore heavy horn-rimmed glasses, spoke in a thick Brooklyn dialect, wore wool slacks, skinny belt and work boots, tie at a careless slant... There were a lot of esoteric folk records... Extinct song folios of every type—sea shanties, Civil War songs, cowboy songs, songs of lament, church house songs, anti–Jim Crow songs, union songs—archaic books of folk tales, Wobbly journals, propaganda pamphlets about everything from women’s rights to the dangers of boozing, one by Daniel De Foe, the English author of Moll Flanders... Izzy had a back room with a potbellied wood-burning stove, crooked pictures and rickety chairs.... The little room was filled with American records and  a phonograph. Izzy would let me stay back there and listen to them. I listened to as many as I could, even thumbed through a lot of his antediluvian folk scrolls. The madly complicated modern world was something I took little interest in. It had no relevancy, no weight. I wasn’t seduced by it. What was swinging, topical and up to date for me was stuff like the Titanic sinking, the Galveston flood, John Henry driving steel, John Hardy shooting a man on the West Virginia line.... [Izzy would] write about me in his diary. I couldn’t imagine why. His questions were annoying, but I liked him... Had also instructed me to be kind because everyone you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle. I couldn’t imagine what Izzy’s battles were. Internal, external, who knows? Young was a man that concerned himself with social injustice, hunger and homelessness and he didn’t mind telling you so. His heroes were Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Moby-Dick, the ultimate fish story, was his favorite tall tale...."

From Bob Dylan, "Chronicles: Volume One." I looked that up because I read in the newspaper "Izzy Young, whose New York music shop was ‘the citadel’ of folk revival, dies at 90" (WaPo).

"Ok then. My day has started. I just need to go read the article on the Delta airline napkin thing and I'll get out of bed."

That's the top-rated comment on "A Florida politician allegedly made a habit of licking men’s faces. She has now resigned" (WaPo).

I had not noticed "the Delta airline napkin thing," but I looked it up. Here" "Delta nudged passengers to slip their number to their ‘plane crush’ on napkins. Now the airline is sorry." (WaPo).
Falling in love on an airplane is the kind of story you only ever hear in a bar or see in a Lifetime movie. But for a brief time this winter, Delta Air Lines wanted to help passengers make it a reality — by gently nudging them to hit on other passengers. With cocktail napkins.

“Be a little old school,” said the small print on the napkin, advertising Diet Coke. “Write down your number & give it to your plane crush. You never know ...” There was a little space on the napkin where flirtatious passengers could write down their name and another space for their number. The larger print said, “because you’re on a plane full of interesting people and hey,” again, “... you never know.”...

"PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!"

Trump, this morning, on Twitter:
So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces, after having found zero Russian Collusion, that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment....

....The Dems and their committees are going “nuts.” The Republicans never did this to President Obama, there would be no time left to run government. I hear other committee heads will do the same thing. Even stealing people who work at White House! A continuation of Witch Hunt!

Democrats at the top are killing the Great State of Virginia. If the three failing pols were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken. Virginia will come back HOME Republican) in 2020!

PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!

In politics, calls for civility are always bullshit.

I've said it a hundred times, and I'm saying it again this morning, because I'm looking at this WaPo headline: "The exquisite shade of Nancy Pelosi’s applause at the State of the Union."

Incivility is loved and celebrated!

The columnist Monica Hesse writes:
The lasting visual image from Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was captured by photographer Doug Mills. It featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applauding President Trump in a way that can only be described as . . . withering? Pitying? Lucille Bluth-like in its contemptuousness?
Only? I can think of some other descriptions: Rude. Out-and-proud assholean.
At his lectern, the president mentioned bipartisanship and turned to acknowledge Speaker Pelosi; she rewarded him by cocking her head, arching an eyebrow, and inventing, as comedian Patton Oswalt would put it online, a clap that somehow managed to be a profanity.

Its power was in its restraint. Pelosi was not booing the president. She was acknowledging his words. She was providing him, in the technical sense, with exactly what he was hoping for: approval. But this was a derogatory clap, make no mistake. This was mockery wearing a half-baked costume of politeness.
And it wasn't just that clap, it was the entire performance in her perch over his left shoulder
Her lips mostly remained either pursed or puckered, as if the entire speech was a bit of gristle that must be endured before it could be discreetly spit into a napkin. 
Gross. But somehow, because she's on your team, you're praising what would be appallingly disgusting if it were done by an old Republican.
She shuffled papers in front of her...  as if marking time for when it would all be over. Her applause was sparing, weary... Often, she was... bordering on rude.
Bordering on rude. Yeah. No. It was rude. Just plain rude. But it's funny to see that the border with rude is a border you care about it. But it's a metaphorical border, and you will draw and redraw it so that all your people are on the not rude side and all your opponents are on the other side. It's a weird, twisty-turny wall, and built out of bullshit.

"If ever wearing blackface, even in the 1980s as both Northam and Herring did, is a career-ender, and if we are supposed to 'believe all women,' then all three of these Democrats have to go."

"Only Northam has been thrown overboard by the party, with Fairfax and Herring getting passes so far because Democrats don’t want to nuke the entirety of a state executive branch they control. Regardless, Virginia is an indication of an inflamed and unforgiving Democratic mood that will define the party’s battle for the 2020 presidential nomination. Democrats are about to embark on the first woke primary, a gantlet of political correctness that will routinely wring abject apologies out of candidates and find fault in even the most sure-footed. The passage of time will be no defense. Nor the best of intentions. Nor anything else. Any lapses will be interpreted through the most hostile lens, made all the more brutal by the competition of a large field of candidates vying for the approval of a radicalized base. The Democrat nomination battle might as well be fought on the campus of Oberlin College and officiated by the director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.... No one will be woke enough to emerge from this process unscathed."

From "The Bonfire of the Democrats" by Rich Lowry (the National Review editor) writing at Politico. Go to the link for Lowry's details on the vulnerability of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Kamala Harris.

The Democrats have created a weapon that will be used repeatedly against anyone that rises within their ranks, and they didn't even keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Court. What a disaster!

It's the ultimate in Alinsky's rule #4 — "Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules." Looking for a place for the precise text of the rule, I happened upon "Who is Saul Alinsky, and why does the right hate him so much?" That's from July 2016. Hate?!

By the way... Ridicule is man's most potent weapon (Rule #5).

ADDED: The Editorial Board of The Washington Post, last night, dug in, "Ralph Northam must resign." But what about Fairfax and Herring? The allegations against Fairfax and Herring are not "relevant" to the question whether Northam can continue as an "effective governor."
It’s reasonable to guess that other revelations elsewhere, about other public figures with their own histories or photos of offensive, insensitive or racist conduct, may surface in coming days. Each should be judged on its own set of circumstances. In the case of Mr. Northam, the circumstances are decisive; what’s done cannot be undone. He must go.
Judge each person as an individual. Good idea. But you're also going to have to treat like cases alike. So if you don't want to throw out everyone who did nothing worse that darken his face to go to a costume party in the guise of a pop star he loved, then you have to stop yourself as you make that individual judgment against Northam, or you're setting up all the future cases to hinge on the argument that what this individual did was at least as bad as what Northam did. And I think the real reason the WaPo editors are against Northam is not that they want the wearing of a Michael Jackson costume to deserve the new political death penalty. It's that so many prominent Democrats put their reputations on the line demanding that Northam resign, and the editors don't want to leave them exposed.

But they are all exposed.

February 6, 2019

At the Bright Eyes Café...

... you can see your way clear.

I got up at 4:30 a.m. so I'd have time to drink a cup of black coffee before 5.

Not allowed to drink anything for 4 hours before the appointment. Now, it's 4 minutes after noon, and I'm back home. I've had the cataract surgery on my left eye — my much worse eye — and I'm doing fine.

Some people are taking the Democratic women's wearing of white and connecting it with the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan.

For example, at Instapundit:

I don't like this, taking clothing that people put on in an upbeat positive mood and turning it into something ugly.

But that's the move made by Democrats against the Americans who thought they were expressing something optimistic with their MAGA hats. Democrats have worked hard at rebranding the clothing so it would mean racism. They wanted to deprive the hat wearers of the powerful visual form of expression they'd found. They want the message to be: If you wear that hat now — now that we've shown you want we say it means — you must want to be identified as a racist.

I don't like that KKK flip on the Congresswomen's homage to women's suffrage. But if turnabout is fairplay, it's not unfair.

I'd rather call us to a higher level, but you know that I think that in politics, all calls for civility are bullshit. I'd like to be outside of politics, merely observing, from that position I've called "cruel neutrality." So maybe I'm not a hypocrite if I say, don't tie the suffrage expression to the KKK. But I completely realize that if you go along with me about that, it's not going to stop the Trump-haters who are dead-set on stamping the MAGA hat with the meaning RACISM.

"It’s true that much of Ocasio-Cortez’s appeal has to do with her frank and fluid way of expressing a politics whose particulars are increasingly popular across the country. But some of it feels substitutionary..."

"... having something to do with her status as an ambassador from everyday life—still so much like the rest of us who follow politics, caught between complicit spectatorship and horror at the seriousness at hand."

I'm consuming New Yorker prose...
"Substitutionary" is an odd word for me. But it is a word. The OED finds its earliest use in 1772, in "Clerical Subscription No Grievance": "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his Life,..a substitutionary Ransom for many."

My Google search suggests that the word comes up most in the phrase "Substitutionary Atonement," and there's an article for that in Wikipedia:
Substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, 'instead of' them.... There is also a less technical use of the term "substitution" in discussion about atonement when it is used in "the sense that [Jesus, through his death,] did for us that which we can never do for ourselves"....

Atonement is a theological term for the act of paying for and thereby redeeming sin... A distinction is often made between substitutionary atonement (Christ suffers for us), and penal substitution (Christ punished instead of us)....
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suffers for us?

As the tag says: too much drama.

AND: What is the "politics whose particulars are increasingly popular across the country"? Socialism? I think that's what the New Yorker writer is festooning his prose around. So let's quote Trump's speech, because he talked about socialism:
Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence - not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. 
ALSO: After Trump says, "We are born free, and we will stay free," the camera closes in on Bernie Sanders, visibly suffering:

He can't speak, but I imagine he's thinking something like: My socialism brings more freedom.

The Democratic Women — dressed in white to honor the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote — stand and cheer as Trump says just the right things to rouse them out of what I think was supposed to be grim disapproval.

It was so much fun to see this creation of festive happiness:

Let me break this scene down:

0:00-0:12 — "No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58% of the new jobs created in the last year," says Trump, leaning into "women." He pauses, nods and looks around.

0:15 — We see the array of women in white, keeping a solemn look at first. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez turns around and causes the women behind her to smile.

0:17-0:19 — This gesture happens — one woman  (who?) puts 2 elbows in the air and points 2 thumbs down at herself.

Is she receiving a signal (from Nancy Pelosi?) or simply deciding on her own? The thumbs are shaken and the woman nods her head vigorously. Her reaction sets off the woman 3 seats over to her left (who?), but there's a quick edit, so we don't see how that interaction progresses.

0:19: — We're shifted to this super-happy blonde woman (who?). The 2 other women are standing and clapping but looking like it pains them to have to approve of anything.

0:23 — Some real celebration breaks out (amid some dubiousness):

0:24 — Something's happening to the right of the screen that's exciting everyone, even bow-tie guy:

0:23-0:30 — The frame opens up and pans as if to help us see what they were pointing at, then the frame jumps back to the women we were seeing before, and they are clapping with arms extended and pumping fists in the air and laughing.

0:32 — Even AOC is standing and laughing (though not clapping):

0:36 — We get back to Trump, head back, blissful smile.... Nancy's applauding (or playing here comes the crocodile):

0:41-0:44 — The women sit down, and Trump nods a few times, and a slight smirk grows. I feel like he's thinking, Yeah, that's what I like.

He suddenly shakes his head to get into the character that works to deliver the presumably improvised line: "You were not supposed to do that."

There's an impish, confidential tone that, to me, reads as: Give me any kind of chance, and you will love me.

0:46 — The congresswoman in the headscarf is doubled over in elation. And look at the other women in this shot. Now, notice the man (with the glasses in his mouth, perhaps irritated to see that the women are going wild and annoyed that shallow charm like this works):

0:53-1:03 — "All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before."

1:07 — The reaction begins. One woman is standing (who?). AOC is talking and turning to the woman on her right, making her presence felt. Notice how the woman on her left leans away from AOC, perhaps tired of her continual efforts at looking like a powerful influencer:

1:12 — AOC is not the last one to stand. The woman on her left is (and she doesn't stand until 1:18):

1:25-1:27 — With one finger held aloft, Trump improvises: "Don’t sit yet. You are going to like this." There's an immediate, warm laugh from the assembly, and the instant he hears it, his face shows gratification:

He really does feed off the energy of the crowd. This moment is like what he gets (in much larger doses) at this rallies.

The hand position changes from upward pointing to the OK position. Given all the talk about the KKK over the weekend, I want to get out ahead of any stupidity about Trump's OK gesture. Here's Wikipedia on the 4chan prank of calling the OK sign a white power symbol.

1:30 — "And exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before." This is the dynamic in the middle of the word "before":

Nancy is calling on her people to rise.

1:45 — And here's how it looks as he gets to the end of "before":

1:47 — They're all up, and though AOC is looking dyspeptic (for an instant), there's lots of celebration and cheering:

2:03 — We see the family reaction  (with Ivanka looked so much like Ivana):

2:04- We see the women in white again, cheering. Many hands in the air, fist-pumping, pointing. AOC leaps forward in a big high 5 that connects with no one (2:06).

2:20 — A U.S.A. cheer begins off screen, and the on-screen women in white pick up the cheer, with rhythmic clapping.

2:30 — The camera closes in on AOC. She's a camera magnet. She had been doing the clapping and chanting, but stops and bows her head. What is she thinking?

What is that man doing to us?

February 5, 2019

At the State of the Union Café...

... you can talk about anything you want, but I'm going to be watching the State of the Union, which is just about to start. How about you? I don't live-blog anymore. I don't like the feeling of coming out with instant opinions. I'd rather soak it up, then see what stays with me and write the next morning, with the aid of a transcript. I hope Trump does well — brings us together, inspires optimism and so forth. I wonder what it will be like with Nancy in the background the whole time...

UPDATE: That was damn near perfect. So upbeat, full of optimism. The singing of “Happy Birthday” was a unique moment. Beautiful.

"I got a boo."

Said Cory Booker on a radio show today, using cutesy slang to let us know he has a girlfriend. (Booker is 49 and never married.)
“Before I declared for president, I’m dating someone that’s really special to me,” he said, not revealing her name. Booker was asked whether being a “bachelor in a basement apartment” could impact his chances of winning the 2020 presidential race.

“First of all, there’s two more years until I might fulfill this duty, so give me some time,” he responded. “My girlfriend might listen to this. I think that if Donald Trump can get elected president at this point with the personal life that he has, then anybody can.”
But this need to tell us that he has "a boo" is not the most embarrassing thing that happened to Cory Booker today. That would be this Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the woman Trump has nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the Court of Appeals:

"It’s an amazing story. Everyone is baffled and impressed. He had no weapons, no knives or trekking poles with him."

"How did he do it? It’s pretty rare. That is definitely a twist on this, I’m sure.... With a mountain lion, your best chance is to fight. If you make yourself small they will think you are prey."

Said the spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, quoted in "How the trail runner attacked by a mountain lion in Larimer County killed the animal/Necropsy: Jogger suffocated mountain lion in life-or-death struggle" (The Denver Post).
The victim was running on West Ridge Trail [west of Fort Collins] when he heard something behind him... As he turned, he saw the mountain lion pounce for his head and neck...The mountain lion bit him on the face and wrist. The victim managed to partially block the attack with his forearms, Ferrell said. He managed to fight and break free from the mountain lion. Once he fended the mountain lion off, he counter-attacked the cat by getting on top of it, she said. There are still a few mysteries, though, including exactly how he suffocated the animal....
I'm picturing something like this:

"Joshua Trump is a 6th grade student in Wilmington, Delaware."

"He appreciates science, art, and history. He also loves animals and hopes to pursue a related career in the future. His hero and best friend is his Uncle Cody, who serves in the United States Air Force. Unfortunately, Joshua has been bullied in school due to his last name. He is thankful to the First Lady and the Trump family for their support."

I like the stylish Official White House photographs — by Keegan Barber. You can see all of Trump's SOTU guests here — all photographed in a dark square like that.

"Learn to code" is irritating, but why would you do anything but ignore it?

ADDED: Remember that Washington Post Super Bowl ad that called on us to admire journalists because some of them go into war zones and show great courage in the face of real physical dangers? Here, watch it again and as the faces go by imagine Popken in the mix, with a caption about the time he was told to learn to code....

50 years ago today: The TV show "Turn-On!" premiered and was taken off the air in the middle of episode 1.

According to Wikipedia:
The show was created by Ed Friendly and George Schlatter, the producers of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Bristol-Myers contracted with them to develop the show, and provided it to ABC for a projected 13-week run after NBC and CBS rejected it. A CBS official confessed, "It was so fast with the cuts and chops that some of our people actually got physically disturbed by it." Production executive Digby Wolfe described it as a "visual, comedic, sensory assault involving animation, videotape, stop-action film, electronic distortion, computer graphics—even people."

Turn-On's premise was that it was produced by a computer. Distinguishing characteristics of the show were its use of the Moog synthesizer and lack of sets, except for a white backdrop. Unlike Laugh-In the show "focused almost exclusively on sex as a comedic subject," using various rapid-fire jokes and risqué skits, but no laugh track. The program was also filmed instead of presented live or on videotape. Several of the jokes were presented with the screen divided into four squares resembling comic strip panels....

An ABC executive... compared the show negatively to the comedy of Dean Martin, Laugh-In, and the Smothers Brothers, which the executive described as "absolutely beyond belief ... awfully blue," but were popular and less controversial because unlike Turn-On, "they're funny."... [TV Guide] quoted a source... "(T)here wasn't any sort of identification with the audience -- just a bunch of strangers up there insulting everything you believe in."

"It wasn't that it was a bad show, it was that it was an awkward show," concluded author Harlan Ellison, a fan of counter-cultural comedy and a TV critic for the Los Angeles Free Press in 1969....

Many assumed the show's title was itself an implicit reference to Timothy Leary's pro-drug maxim, "Turn on, tune in, drop out."

"But what made him a poet might have ruined him as a politician. He lived unconventionally—drinking wine into the night, wandering around after curfew, mingling with people from all walks of life."

"He was always deemed too free-spirited to be a safe candidate for office. Even Jin’s restrained tone can’t obscure Li's extravagant life, which saw the poet ping-pong between pawning clothes for cups of wine and having the Emperor serve him a ladle of soup. In times of disappointment, his faith kept him afloat. He wrote, 'Heaven begot a talent like me and must put me to good use / And a thousand cash in gold, squandered, will come again.' Sometimes his confidence seems close to egomaniacal: when a summons from the imperial court came, he gloated, 'laughing out aloud with my head thrown back, / I walk out the front gate. How can a man / Like myself stay in the weeds for too long?'"

From "Ha Jin’s Self-Revealing Study of the Chinese Poet Li Bai," a New Yorker review of "The Banished Immortal."

"A shockingly large majority of health news shared on Facebook is fake or misleading."

Now, there's a clickbait headline.

"Shockingly large"? It would need to be more than 90% to shock me.
Health Feedback approximates that of these 10 [most shared] articles, 2.1 million shares (33%) had very low scientific rating, while 2.6 million shares (41%) ranked neutral. The smallest category belonged to those deemed highly scientific at 1.7 million shares (26%).

Researchers then went on to examine the top 100 articles, many of which were also shared in the hundreds of thousands.... In terms of overall credibility, slightly less than half achieved a high credibility rating. However, highly rated articles received 11 million shares, while poorly rated articles had roughly 8.5 million shares. Of the latter category, there was a piece that linked ramen noodles to Alzheimer’s, and another that claimed onions can be used to treat ear infections.
So... it's shockingly small.

And here I am sharing a misleading health news article!

Things highly unlikely to bother Trump in the least.

"In the grand tradition of tweaking the executive in power, Democrats have filled the [State of the Union] invite list with some not-so-subtle rebukes to Trump."

What are these unsubtle rebukes? 2 women who were housekeepers at a Trump resort when they were not legally in the country, 2 mothers from Guatemala who were separated from their children while they were seeking asylum, and an independent contractor who lost work during the government shutdown. Is there some notion that the presence of these people in the audience could disturb Trump? I doubt it. But it does generate some news coverage, albeit not the kind of news coverage that  impresses me — the kind of news coverage The Washington Post made a Super Bowl commercial about.

"Some on the extreme political right had insisted that... it would be an ominous sign if [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] skipped President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night."

Writes Robert Barnes in "Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes first public appearance since cancer surgery" (WaPo).

And I'm just wondering who "some" are. I mean, I'm glad to hear that Justice Ginsburg was able to go to the theater...
The 85-year-old justice attended a production of “Notorious RBG in Song” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington.
But was anybody expecting her to show up at the State of the Union?
Ginsburg has attended past State of the Union addresses — television cameras have caught her napping at several. But Ginsburg, who created controversy when Trump was a candidate by calling him a “faker” and expressing distress about the possibility of his election, has not attended Trump’s events. She skipped his first speech to Congress in January 2017 and was out of town at a speaking appearance last year, an engagement she accepted before the date was announced....

Ginsburg, who was chosen for the court by Clinton, appears to have a more partisan attendance record than most justices. She did not show for any State of the Union address given by President George W. Bush.... On the other hand, Ginsburg made all of President Barack Obama’s speeches. She attended only some of those by Clinton....
That is, even if she had no medical problems at all, she wouldn't go. So who are the "some on the extreme political right" who were saying her nonappearance would be "ominous"? And why mention such dumb and ill-informed commenters in The Washington Post? My guess: To make right-wingers in general seem ghoulish.

And the theories that RBG is already dead are indeed ghoulish. I just don't believe that anyone newsworthy was looking to the State of the Union as a test of whether she's still alive. What got her out into the public was a celebration of herself...

... and that's fine.

"We don’t want to forget our roots in terms of having the greatest Modernist collection, but the museum didn’t emphasize female artists, didn’t emphasize what minority artists were doing, and it was limited on geography."

"Where those were always the exceptions, now they really should be part of the reality of the multicultural society we all live in."

Said Leon Black, chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, quoted in "MoMA to Close, Then Open Doors to More Expansive View of Art" (NYT).
[W]hile visitors will still be able to count on highlights like Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” they are also likely to be exposed to less familiar names, including Okwui Okpokwasili, an Igbo-Nigerian-American artist, performer and choreographer....
Still showing the old "Demoiselles"?

Will we at least get some serious feminist critique? Try this:
Most of all, this is a painting about looking. Picasso looks back at you in the central figure, whose bold gaze out of huge asymmetrical eyes has the authority of a self-portrait. It's interesting that we're trained to see transvestite self-portraits in the art of Leonardo or Marcel Duchamp, but it doesn't often occur to us to understand this painting in that way, misled as we are by the caricatures of Picasso as a patriarchal voyeur. What he painted in 1907 is a work of art that looks back at you with furious contempt.
What are you looking at with furious contempt?

"Historically, the antinuclear movement didn’t emerge from environmental concerns, which is why arguments for nuclear’s environmental advantages often fall on deaf ears."

"The movement originated out of a panic among European and American intellectuals in the 1950s and ’60s about overpopulation, expressed most luridly in such popular books as the entomologist Paul Ehrlich’s 1969 'The Population Bomb.' They believed more power plants would exacerbate human density and urban growth. But nuclear power champions like Alvin Weinberg, the longtime director of America’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, countered that nuclear could supply energy enough to forestall the social collapse the neo-Malthusians feared. In the end, the green revolution and the demographic transition that followed third-world economic development met food needs and limited population growth, now predicted to level off at 10 billion by 2100. But by then nuclear power was anathema to the Democratic Party and American and European Greens, a tragic misalignment of liberal values. The tide may be turning. Politics may catch up with necessity. But the 'Green New Deal' recently championed in Congress includes even existing nuclear power production only grudgingly, and promotes the notion that 'A Bright Future' disputes — that 100 percent renewables can save the day."

From "A Sensible Climate Change Solution, Borrowed From Sweden" by Richard Rhodes, reviewing "A Bright Future/How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow," Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvis.

Google is ending Google+... and if you have been using Google+ for comments, not only is it no longer usable. Your old comments will no longer appear!

This notice from Google appeared on my Blogger dashboard today:
Following the announcement of Google+ API deprecation scheduled for March 2019, a number of changes will be made to Blogger’s Google+ integration on 4 February 2019...
That was yesterday.
Google+ Comments: Support for Google+ comments will be turned down, and all blogs using Google+ comments will be reverted back to using Blogger comments. Unfortunately, comments posted as Google+ comments cannot be migrated to Blogger and will no longer appear on your blog.
Who has been using Google+ comments? I wonder how many old comments I'm losing!

If you want to find old comments that have disappeared, try archive.org. Feel free to cut and paste the text of old comments into new comments on old posts. Comments on old posts need to pass through moderation, but that means I will see them in my email. I'm eager to help anyone who has been affected by the demise of Google+. 

Perhaps some day, I'll get the announcement that Google is ending Blogger, and my entire blog will be undisplayed, and there's nothing I can do about it. All I can think is — there's still archive.org. And don't advise me to extract my blog from Blogger and put it somewhere else. Many years ago, the blog became too large to be exportable using the Blogger software. I'm too deeply intertwined with Google ever to break free. It's like my own human body. Either I can be in here, or I will die.

ADDED: From last November:
After the termination of Google Plus, Blogger users are also becoming apprehensive about their position on the platform. However, Google sets the record straight by stating that they don’t plan to close their free blogging service anytime soon.... Soraya Lambrechts, a spokesperson from Blogger clearly replied that the company has no plans to sunset its blogging platform....

Although Google has a long history of killing its products, the current statement shows that the tech giant will continue the Blogger site.... Apparently, Google doesn't want to disappoint bloggers yet.