April 27, 2019

At the Ancient Café...


... take a seat at the green table.

Music in Moab.

We're home now, but we drove into Moab, Utah last Wednesday, had a nice dinner at La Sal House, noticed a poster advertising free bluegrass music later that evening, went for a walk, and just happened upon the music venue, Moab Backyard Theater...

Moab, Utah

... as the show was about to begin. So we went in and took a chance...

Quicksand Soup in Moab, Utah

Great! The band was Quicksand Soup. Here's how they looked and sounded on the same stage a few days before we heard them.

They didn't do "Rock of Ages" the day we were there. My favorite song they played was "Sixteen Tons." Here's their studio recording of "Sixteen Tons."

From the Wikipedia article on "Sixteen Tons":
"Sixteen Tons" is a song written by Merle Travis about a coal miner, based on life in coal mines in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.... The line "You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt" came from a letter written by Travis's brother John. Another line came from their father, a coal miner, who would say: "I can't afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store."
Merle Travis got some fantastic letters! The brother even provided the rhyme. I'm impressed.

Now, I'm reading more about Merle Travis. What were his other songs? Well, one was "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed" (listen here). Travis seems to have been a master of found text. Not only did he get those "16 Tons" lines from letters, he got "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed" from the writing on a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes:
The slogan "So round, so firm, so fully packed, so free and easy on the draw" was used in the Lucky Strike brand cigarette advertising of the time.
The song also uses the slogans "I'd walk a mile" (from Camel cigarettes), "Just ask the man who owns one" (from Packard automobiles), and "The Pause that Refreshes" (from Coca-Cola).

ADDED: Here's a Lucky Strike commercial from 1948 where you'll hear the slogan:

That's very amusing, but please don't smoke! As President Trump says...

"Never take drugs. Don't drink alcohol. Don't smoke. Enjoy your life."

"thing 1 fears'HAPPENED'😱" to Cher!

Here's the Lucy image she must mean:

That's from "Lucy Gets Into Pictures" (Season 4, Episode 18 of "I Love Lucy," where "Lucy gets a bit part in a movie, but has a problem with the costume").

It's Winter Storm Xyler...

... bearing down upon us.

What did Winter Storm Xyler make you do?

It made us load up the car at 3 a.m. on Friday in Moab, Utah, and — after a stop to look at the stars from a vantage point in Arches National Park — drive until 4 a.m. this morning — 1300 miles back to Madison, Wisconsin.

We listened to the Grateful Dead channel on the satellite radio the whole way (just about, so it seemed). That felt like the right car-driving music for the occasion.
River gonna take me
Sing me sweet and sleepy
Sing me sweet and sleepy
All the way back home

When I woke up this morning — in a bed, in a bed — that's the song that was in my head.

I'm so glad to be back in Madison with this vantage point on the Xyler snowfall.

"Trump is not the first president to take a liking to [the NYT photographer Doug] Mills, who views the attention as flattering—if a bit embarrassing."

"'It’s awkward,' he says, with a laugh. Mills acknowledges Trump makes for a good subject, though. 'I always say that President Obama was the most photogenic because you couldn’t take a bad picture of the guy. He had a great smile, great skin, great teeth, the whole dynamic of him,' Mills says. 'Trump is the most iconic. You can look at any picture of him and know right away it’s him, even from afar. His hair, his coat, his hands, the size of him. No recent president has been as mindful as Trump of how the press captures not just what he does, but how he looks doing it.... Trump also has on occasion peered at the cameras and laptops of press photographers, commenting on photos before they’re submitted to editors. After meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May last summer, Trump noticed Mills and groused that a photo of his had made the president look like he had a 'double chin.'... Sometimes, Trump pushes for the angles he prefers as part of the give-and-take of a photo shoot.... Mills—a wire-style shooter focused on the president’s day-to-day activities, rather than portrait shoots—doesn’t find the president to be in the least controlling.... Mills... gets along with Trump, who is less chummy with his press corps than previous presidents.... Mostly, it is Mills’ iconic imagery that has captivated the president—and the public. A longtime former Mills colleague likes to say you can judge a picture by whether, decades from now, a news reporter could use it to write a 1,000-word article. Many such photos of the Trump era in Washington are likely to have Mills’ name under them."

From "Meet the Photographer Donald Trump Can’t Shut Up About
For all of his cries of 'fake news,' the image-obsessed president has singled out veteran shooter Doug Mills for his work—and can’t keep quiet about him"
at Politico (with lots of great photos). Mills word for The New York Times.

"[S]o, like, are men going to start wearing leggings, or what?" — asks GQ.

That's the way they talk at GQ now, okay?
At first... women sought to free themselves from the tyranny of the lopsided chaos of pant sizing. But then it was like, why not look like you’re working out all the time? If you can’t spend your day strolling from spin class to the ashram and over to the matcha canteen, can’t your legs look like it?

Men, on the other hand, have always had a healthier relationship with pants, which makes a full-on pivot to the Leggings Lifestyle less likely. Still, leggings are the CBD of clothing—they make everything more zen....
Now, that's funny. I like "the CBD of" formulation, but I don't accept the analogy, since I suspect CBD is a panacea, which would make "The Emperor's New Clothes" the CBD of clothing. With leggings, you're at risk of being considered underdressed by the leggings-are-not-pants crowd, but you're not naked.

I think I've blogged leggings for men before — long ago. Were they called "meggings" or am I just dreaming... dreaming of... see, that's the thing. You're going to need a long tunic or you'll be showing too much interleg bumpiness. For a woman, you can appease the leggings-are-not-pants people with a long top or a skirt of any length — you've already got plenty of these items — or you can just be out and proud. For a man, you'll need... tunics. There's no other way. The question is not "Are men going to start wearing leggings?" It's "Are men going to start wearing leggings and tunics?"

Or... no... I'm continuing to read this silly article, and I run smack into this:
Maybe you will wear them under tiny shorts, or maybe you will be bold and wear them unaccompanied with a giant top!
Maybe you will wear them under tiny shorts! I'd envisioned the "giant top" (i.e, a tunic), but I had not thought of the tiny shorts.  Why tiny, by the way? Why not big shorts? Why giant top but tiny shorts? Oh, the mysteries of fashion!

At the link, we see a male model in leggings and a rather elaborate upper-body get-up. It's about as good as you can do selling the idea of a man in leggings (outside of the ballet and various sports). But the model's legs are awfully spindly for that kind of exposure.

Anyway, I did blog leggings for men back in 2015 — here.

April 26, 2019

At the Late Morning Café...


... settle in.

"I look at Joe, I don't know about him... I would never say anyone's too old but I know they're all making me look very young both in terms of age and in terms of energy."

Said Trump, quoted in The Daily Mail.

Staycation tips in "If you’re in debt, you don’t deserve a vacation."

There are 4 tips in this WaPo article, and I think the most important one is: "Do not tell people you are staying home. Act as though you’re gone by not filling your days with obligations with friends and family — unless they are part of your vacation-at-home plans."

The way that's written, it seems to be based on the problem of other people taking up your time if they know you're around. If that's your problem, I don't think you've got your day-to-day life in order.  Arrange all your time to defend yourself against unenjoyable, unnecessary get-togethers.

I like the tip because it protects you from thinking too much about what other people think about you. People are always asking where you are going on vacation. They're mainly just being friendly and doing the most conventional small talk, but it can get into your head and make you feel that you're supposed to go away on vacation, that you'll be pitied if you don't. So keep it to yourself. Just like you don't freely dish out info on how much sex you're having, you don't need to tell everyone whether or not you travel. By making these topics private, you'll have a better chance of doing what you really want to do.

Of course, I've broadened the topic beyond the scope of the article, which is people who don't really have the money to travel but have been convincing themselves that they ought to anyway. If that's why you're staying home, there's all the more reason to keep your "staycation" private. Other people don't need to know what you can't afford.

"Given the almost numbing predictability of the President and the ever-increasing difficulty his critics have mustering outrage toward him at this point..."

"... it came as a jolt to see Joe Biden go directly at Trump in a video announcing his Presidential campaign, on Thursday."

Joltin' Joe.

That's from "Why Is Joe Biden the Only Democrat Who Wants to Talk About Donald Trump?" by Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker.

That caught my eye because of the open admission that the public is tired of the continual demonization of Trump. There's outrage fatigue. Other candidates seem to have moved on to actual issues, but maybe the man Trump calls Sleepy Joe Biden can jolt us awake and ready for a new go-'round of attacks on Trump. He's a big racist, etc. etc. Yes, yes, Joltin' Joe is a real cup of coffee for the bleary.

"I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, 'I’m sorry for what happened to you. I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose."

Said Anita Hill, after Joe Biden called her and talked to her for a long time about the hearings he chaired on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas. Quoted in the NYT. What, exactly, is Biden supposed to say about how he handled things?
[S]he cannot support Mr. Biden for president until he takes full responsibility for his conduct, including his failure to call as corroborating witnesses other women who were willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee. By leaving them out, she said, he created a “he said, she said” situation that did not have to exist....

In recent interviews, Ms. Hill and others involved in the confirmation fight portrayed Mr. Biden’s handling of the hearing as at best inept and at worst deeply insensitive. They fault his refusal to seriously investigate her accusations and take public testimony from other potential witnesses who said the future justice had acted inappropriately with them. Justice Thomas has denied any inappropriate behavior.

April 25, 2019

"Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems."

"Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe. Of course it’s important to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Individual errors in judgment can usually be corrected. As long as you have the courage to admit mistakes, things can be turned around. But intolerant, narrow minds with no imagination are like parasites that transform the host, change form, and continue to thrive. They’re a lost cause, and I don’t want anyone like that coming in here.”

That's a passage from Haruki Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore" that came up today in my relistening to the audiobook. It jumped out at me because it resonated with "America is an idea," Biden's new campaign slogan.

By the way, I was resting in the shade on a hike with Meade. He walked on a difficult path ahead, and I simply waited an hour until he got back. As I was waiting, another woman — whose husband was also going on the difficult path without her — waited in the same shade. We got to talking. She was traveling in America from South Korea, and I talked with her about where she was going, and what traveling in South Korea is like. America is so big, and South Korea quite small. I said I liked traveling within Wisconsin, and ventured the guess that Wisconsin and South Korea are about the same size. That was the substance of our conversation. Then Meade showed up and I introduced him to my new South Korean friend. Meade's first question — said in an expansive, exuberant way — was "So what do South Koreans think of our President?" Without hesitation, she said with enthusiasm, "We love him!" Should one immediately talk to a foreigner about politics? I would have thought no, but it worked out okay... though it was not long at all before she said she didn't concern herself with politics.

By the way, North Korea is an idea.
Juche... is the official state ideology of North Korea, described by the government as "Kim Il-sung's original, brilliant and revolutionary contribution to national and international thought." It postulates that "man is the master of his destiny,"  that the Korean masses are to act as the "masters of the revolution and construction" and that by becoming self-reliant and strong a nation can achieve true socialism. 

"America Isn’t an Idea/It's a place with unique customs that people are proud of. Why do country singers get this but so many scholars don't?"

Wrote Emile A. Doak in The American Conservative in May 2018. I'm reading this article after Biden announced his candidacy using the slogan "America is an idea." Doak explains:
[R]educing American identity to an idea neglects the visceral connection—the patriotism—that is felt by those who call the United States home. Bill Kauffman, in his toast at The American Conservative’s 15th anniversary gala, lauded America “not as an idea, or an abstraction, or a cynical marketing slogan, but as our home, and the land we love above all others.” We don’t feel American out of a reverence for the Lockean liberalism that animates our Founding documents, but because man is inherently shaped by his place. Relying on an idea to provide meaning to national identity is anthropologically unsound; man requires more elementary cultural practices to foster the type of allegiance necessary for national unity. The places that we call home—and the cultural practices that emerge from those places—elicit a much greater allegiance than any abstract idea ever could....

This concept of “America as home,” with specific practices, traditions, and customs—indeed, a specific culture—is increasingly necessary in a modernity shaped by a rapidly accelerating global anti-culture....

Joe Biden announced his candidacy with the slogan "America is an idea," and I've been searching for earlier examples of that saying.

Now, I'm reading "No, Senator Graham, America Is Not an Idea/The South Carolina Republican was right to rebuke Trump. But the U.S. is a nation, not a set of ideals," by Ramesh Ponnuru (from January 2018).
“America is an idea, not a race,” the South Carolina Republican said, adding that diversity is a strength and not a weakness.... “I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”

Graham deserves credit for rebuking the president... America isn’t a race. But it’s not an idea either. It is, rather, a nation. It is a nation whose identity is more bound up with political ideals than most nations: ideals such as equality before the law, self-government and freedom of religion. But those ideals are part of a national culture that is not reducible to them.

"America is an idea.... The power of the United States... more than anything else it comes from the strength of the American idea."

"Leave aside your politics for a moment. I don’t care whom you voted for, which party you identify with, whether you think we are stronger together or want to make America great again. If the power of America as an idea dies, American power will shortly follow.... I have never made any secret of how I felt about Candidate Trump, and my reservations about President Trump are even bigger. But in evaluating everything that comes over the next four years, do not lose sight for a moment of how powerful and important for all of us it is to maintain America as an idea. Doing so will be more important than the sum total of every individual policy outcome. In all instances, do your best to ensure that we continue to lift our lamp beside the golden door. Because when the idea of America is snuffed out, we forever become just another country."

On the occasion of Biden's rollout of his "America is an idea" slogan, I'm reading — from January 2017 — "America is an idea" by Michael J. Koplow. There's a plain anti-Trumpism to this "America is an idea" idea.

When Biden's slogan — "America is an idea" — was Bono's.

"It will be nasty - you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas."

"Joe Biden did not tell Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mother, that he would be invoking her daughter’s murder in Charlottesville in August 2017..."

"... in his presidential campaign launch video focusing on 'the battle for the soul' of America. 'But I wasn’t surprised,' Bro, co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation set up in her daughter’s memory, told The Daily Beast. 'Most people do that sort of thing. They capitalize on whatever situation is handy. He didn’t reach out to me, and didn’t mention her by name specifically, and he probably knew we don’t endorse candidates.... It’s been almost two years since Heather died. I’m moving forward. I still grieve for my daughter. But I have a realistic understanding that this was a public event, and people will use it however it suits them. It’s just a fact of life.'"

Biden's announcement video is anchored in a demonstrable lie.

I'm blogging this morning in a public place, so although I've put up 2 posts about Biden's announcement video, I had not yet listened to it. I finally got out my headphones out so I could  listen, but I could not get through to the end, because I became so angry at the LIE and the continued music and montage became torture to me.

In the part that I did see, we were shown images from the Charlottesville march — replete with the "Jews will not replace us" chant and swastikas — and then Biden's blandly earnest face asserted that Trump said some of them "are fine people." But Trump did not say that! It's absolutely established that Trump excluded those people explicitly before saying that there were some fine people on both sides of the question of keeping Confederate statues. (At the time of the fine people remark, Trump said, "I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.")

How dare Biden rest his campaign on a blatant lie — a lie that has been used to stir up fear and racial discord?! The hypocrisy of offering to bring us together and embrace lofty values when he is either repulsively ignorant or just plain lying!

I could not finish watching that video. I tried, but I couldn't force myself. It's utterly toxic bilge.

If Biden does not come forward and retract this video and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified. He does not have the character or brain power to be President.

"I’m surprised by his announcement video. It’s negative and depressing, mentioning racism and anti-Semitism and a woman who died at a white supremacist rally..."

"... even as it tries to be inspiring (showing Martin Luther King, Jr. right before cutting to Biden announcing his candidacy). He’s focused on what’s wrong with the incumbent president, but says nothing distinctive about himself in over 3 minutes. The subtext is: Unlike the many candidates who’ve only come to your attention this year, I don’t need to introduce myself. I need no introduction. You don't need to be reminded of my time as Vice President, and I don't need to tell you where I stand on the issues. Instead of talking about himself, he talks about us. He ends by saying dramatically: "We have to remember who we are! This is America."

Writes John Althouse Cohen on his blog. I put up the new Biden video 2 posts down, so please limit comments here to responding to John. John also criticizes the video for showing the elderly Biden just sitting statically — not out and about, rubbing body parts with the people (I'm paraphrasing!). And John notes Biden's use of the old phrase 'all men are created equal'  — "an odd choice for a candidate who’s going to be criticized for being an old, white man who’s intruded into women's personal space."  Biden not only uses that "created equal" but also 'endowed by our Creator,' so it seems as though he wanted to infuse some acceptable religion into his "America is an idea" pitch.

ADDED: I think it may be a great strategy for Biden to offer to be a neutral entity embodying the American civil religion and to portray Trump as the great apostate.

UPDATE: I have now watched the Biden video (halfway) and condemn it. Read my new post.

"During a speech Tuesday morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called out former President Barack Obama..."

"... for his buddy-buddy relationship with Wall Street and his questionable negotiations on trade.... 'He surrounded himself with Wall Street people who didn’t understand working people... He spent the last year of his administration fighting us on TPP... That probably cost [Democrats] the election.'... Beyond condemning Obama, the AFL-CIO penned a lengthy letter in opposition to the Green New Deal...  Trumka and Trump haven’t seen eye-to-eye in the past. The president has called him out over policy disagreements, claiming that Trumka’s leadership has driven the decline in union membership — which hit a record low in 2018....  It’s highly unlikely that the leadership at the AFL-CIO will be jumping on the Trump train anytime soon, but its public criticisms of Democratic policies and leadership signal that the Democratic Party may be losing grasp of the union votes it’s enjoyed for the past several decades."

From "Major Union Breaks From Political Norm to Slam Obama, Credit Trump: Here’s Why That Matters for 2020" (IJR).

ADDED: I remember, back in 2011, during the Wisconsin protests — which were intensely focused on union rights — there was a great deal of criticism of President Obama for not participating, not helping. Obama had promised, in a 2007 speech, to "put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself" and "walk on that picket line" with union workers:

"America is an idea" — Biden comes out sloganing.

UPDATE: I have now watched this video (halfway) and condemn it. Read my new post.

April 24, 2019

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can keep the conversation going.

"Half of American parents have cut back on their retirement savings to help pay their children's bills..."

"... a Bankrate.com study shows. Parents are putting their kids' car insurance, cell phone bills, credit card debt and health care costs ahead of their own needs to grow their retirement funds. Kids miss out on learning to be independent. 'When you write your first rent check or car loan check it feels so good to be able to face some problem and fix it for yourself,' says one expert."

Those are the subheadlines in a CBS piece titled "Adult children are costing many parents their retirement savings."

I like the way CBS, after referring to "adult children" — which is bad enough — goes on to refer, repeatedly, to "kids." How about "offspring" or "sons and daughters"?

"Suppose the Secretary puts in a question about sexual orientation. Suppose he puts a question in about arrest record. Suppose he says, I'm going to have the whole survey in French..."

"We have no role to play no matter how extreme?" Justice Breyer questioned the Solicitor General, who was defending the decision to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. (Here's the pdf of the oral argument.)

I couldn't find a story about the argument on the front page of the nytimes.com. I had to do a search, and I came up with this snippet:
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems poised to allow the Trump administration to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census. Adding the question, government experts said, could depress participation in the census (about 6.5 million people might not be counted) and affect how congressional seats are allocated. 
Ah, that links to the Adam Liptak report on the argument. Here. Excerpt:

"[I]t’s shocking to see national media voices after the release of Robert Mueller’s report patting each other on the back, congratulating themselves for a three-year faceplant..."

"... they must know will haunt the whole business for a long time.... There was no Trump-Russia conspiracy, that thing we just spent three years chasing.... Reporters are going to insist all they did was accurately report the developments of a real investigation.... They’ll also claim they didn’t spend years openly rooting for indictment and impeachment via wish-casted predictions disguised as reporting and commentary, or denouncing people who doubted the conspiracy as spies and Putin apologists, or clearing their broadcast panels and op-ed pages of skeptics while giving big stages to craven conspiracy-spinners like Malcolm Nance and Luke Harding.... Reporters should be furious about being fed these red herrings.... But they’re not mad, which makes it look like a case of intentional blindness, in which eyes and ears were shut among other things because the Trump-Russia conspiracy tale made a ton of money. Media companies earned boffo ratings while the Mueller probe still carried the drama of a potential spectacular ending, with blue-state audiences eating up all those 'walls are closing in'  hot takes.... News audiences were betrayed, and sooner or later, even the most virulently Trump-despising demographics will realize it and tune us out. The only way to reverse the damage is to own how big of a screw-up this was...."

From "The Press Will Learn Nothing From the Russiagate Fiasco/The inability to face the enormity of the last few years of errors will cost the news media its credibility, even with blue-state audiences" by Matt Taibbi.

Of course, the media won't say they were wrong. They have a self-interest in portraying themselves as having done everything right. And notice that Taibbi is only appealing to their self interest! The news audiences may "realize" how bad the media are "and tune us out." The idea that the media should be neutral, ethical, and professional is only a means to the end of keeping the audience.

NPR's "FACT CHECK: Russian Interference Went Far Beyond 'Facebook Ads' Kushner Described."

At a Time magazine event, Kushner got out an effective talking point.
The whole thing is just a big distraction for the country. You look at what Russia did — buying some Facebook ads to try and sow dissent. And it's a terrible thing, but I think the investigation and all the speculation that's happened over the past two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy... They said they spent $160,000. I spent $160,000 on Facebook in three hours during the campaign. If you look at the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished, I think the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country.
Here's NPR's fact check:
The redacted version of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's report revealed a years-long plot by the Russian government to interfere in the U.S. that investigators called "sweeping and systemic."...
As to the amount of money expended on Facebook ads, the company said Russian operatives did spend less than $200,000 on advertising on the platform — but that doesn't account for the organic content the operatives created and shared. Not only were influence specialists within Russia's Internet Research Agency purchasing normal advertisements, they were authoring their own posts, memes and other content as they posed as American users.

They also reached out to politically active Americans, posing as like-minded supporters, and helped organize rallies and other events in the real world.... Cyberattackers also went after political victims in the United States — whose emails and other data were released publicly to embarrass them — and state elections officials and other targets. And there may have been other avenues of interference as well....

By September 2016, two months before the U.S. presidential election, the Internet Research Agency was working with an overall monthly budget that reached over $1.25 million. It employed hundreds of employees, a graphics department, a data analysis department, a search-engine optimization department, an IT department and a finance department, according to an indictment filed last year by Mueller's team....

The U.S. military reportedly blocked the Internet access of the IRA during last year's midterm elections to keep it from interfering with the midterm election. U.S. Cyber Command also targeted Russian cyber operatives, according to a report by The New York Times, with direct messages letting them know that American intelligence was tracking them.
Kushner didn't say the Facebook ads were all there was. His main point, it seems to me, is that what we did to ourselves was far out of proportion to what they did. If we credit the Russians with figuring out how actively and doggedly we'd damage ourselves and aggrandize them, they did amazingly well, but I don't see NPR making that argument. Indeed, I suspect that NPR folks think that everything that worked to hamstring and delegitimize our President wasn't damage at all, but damage control. In that view, the damage was that Trump was elected, and even though he wasn't elected because of Russian interference, it was worth using the Russian interference to distract, trouble, and limit him as much as possible.

And that is the harsh impact on our democracy.

April 23, 2019

At the Late Morning Café...

... you are, once again, on your own.

UPDATE: Late morning extends into late evening. Thanks for all the talk!

ISIS claims responsibility for the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka.

The NYT reports.

2 new polls on the various Democratic Party candidates for President.

Things are oddly stable:

The screen shot is from Real Clear Politics. Click to enlarge and clarify.

I've got to say I don't even know who "Ryan" is. And also, there are so many candidates. I suspect a lot of people are ignoring the race and waiting for the field to thin out. It's so hard to believe the next President is on the list (other than as a potential winner in 2024).

40 seems really young, and it's easy to remember that Pete Buttigieg is younger than that — 30 whatever — so Moulton's probably second-youngest... journalism!

"ABC News flubs presidential candidates' ages," John Althouse Cohen blogs.

ABC News wrote that Seth Moulton is the "second-youngest candidate," when he's 40.
Wait, Tulsi Gabbard and Eric Swalwell are both 38-year-old members of Congress who've announced they're running for president. Have they dropped out? No, Moulton is at most the fourth-youngest candidate, not the "second-youngest"; ABC News just didn’t bother to fact-check....

"Why did Obama go soft on Russia? My opinion is that it was because he was singularly focused on the nuclear deal with Iran."

"Obama wanted Putin in the deal, and to stand up to him on election interference would have, in Obama's estimation, upset that negotiation. This turned out to be a disastrous policy decision."

From "Mueller's report looks bad for Obama" by Scott Jennings.

That's at CNN, which tells us, "Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and former campaign adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell... The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own" and directs us to "View more opinion articles on CNN." At that link, you can see how the "looks bad for Obama" story is balanced. Here's my screen capture:


April 22, 2019


"I’m calling for something truly transformational: Universal free public college and cancellation of student loan debt."

Elizabeth Warren goes big.

She's distinguishing herself, and she needs to — having languished at the bottom of polls.

She's also the only presidential candidate calling for the impeachment of Trump, as far as I've been able to see. From "How 2020 Democrats Are Gaming Out Trump Impeachment Quandary" (NYT):
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has worked for months to find traction in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, stepped forward on Friday with a call to arms: President Trump must be impeached.

What followed, generally, was conspicuous silence.... After sidestepping the explosive issue of impeachment for months by citing the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, most of the other 17 Democratic presidential candidates have responded to the special counsel’s report with tentative remarks about impeaching Mr. Trump, demands for the unredacted Mueller findings, calls for further hearings or attempts to simply change the subject.

Anything, that is, to avoid clearly answering the question of whether lawmakers should remove the president from office....

The Democratic contenders see the Mueller report mostly as a way to build their fund-raising and supporter lists and, ultimately, as a 448-page blunt instrument best used for thwacking the president in next year’s campaign for his behavior.
So they're being super-bland but promising to thwack Trump with a blunt instrument later. Noted. He thwacks back, though, you know. Bigly.

"The Supreme Court on Monday added what could be landmark issues... whether federal anti-discrimination laws protect on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Robert Barnes reports at WaPo:
The court accepted three cases for the term that begins October. They include a transgender funeral home director who won her case after being fired; a gay skydiving instructor who successfully challenged his dismissal; and a social worker who was unsuccessful in convincing a court that he was unlawfully terminated because of his sexual orientation.

The cases shared a common theme: Whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, is broad enough to encompass discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation....

Few would venture that Congress had transgender and gay Americans in mind decades ago when prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex....
Sex is different from gender — yes or no? I don't think the rights advocates have to say sex equals gender to win, and sex discrimination in the employment context rarely has to do with the genitalia. It's about how the employee looks and acts and speaks and the various assumptions and reactions that happen in the mind of others.

It will be interesting to have these issues so active in the public discourse as we go through the 2020 elections. Conservatives dominate the Supreme Court, and that may mean that the rights advocates lose all these cases, just as America is deciding who we want to appoint the next Justice or two or three. A lot of us may think it's time to bolster the liberal side of the Court. We will get a great chance to think about whether the liberals or the conservatives seem properly judicial and better in touch with what we imagine the law really means.

"Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically."

Says the lawsuit Trump has filed against House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings to block congressional subpoena of his financial records, WaPo reports.

The second-highest-rated comment at the link quotes what I quoted and says: "And if he didn't cheat on a regular basis, he'd have no worry."

Hating Trump has taken precedence over fundamental liberal values, and the shallowness of the belief in those values is revealed in the way people don't even notice what they are subordinating to their... singular obsession.

The government of Sri Lanka blames an Islamist group — National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

The NYT reports.
Sri Lanka’s security forces were warned at least 10 days before the bombings that the militant group was planning attacks against churches, but apparently took no action against it, indicating a catastrophic intelligence failure....

The group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, had a reputation for vandalizing Buddhist statues but little history of carrying out terrorist attacks.

Rajitha Senaratne, the health minister, called the group “a local organization” and said the suicide bombers appeared to be Sri Lankan citizens. “All are locals,” he said at a news conference on Monday. But, he added, “there was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”...

No one has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Sri Lanka does not have much history of Islamist terrorism. The country is predominantly Buddhist, with significant Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities.

April 21, 2019

At the Late Morning Café...

... you're on your own!

"Why Don’t Women Get Comebacks Like Tiger Woods?"

Asks Lindsay Crouse in the NYT.
The extreme qualities and the obsessive pursuit of success that drive [the ascent of high achievers] can lead to their downfall. The discipline and pressure can lead to addictions, the opposite of control. Obviously we saw that in Woods; following his descent grew excruciating....

Entering rehab in 2010 after accusations of infidelity, sex addiction and substance abuse, [Woods] said: “I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled.”...

Consider how swiftly the Olympic runner and nine-time N.C.A.A. champion Suzy Favor Hamilton was vilified after she was caught working as an escort while coping with mental illness....
Tiger was criticized for his transgressions (at least as much as SFH, as I remember it). But SFH never attempted a comeback. Maybe one reason Tiger could do it is that his sport was golf. You have more time to go through a long narrative of rise, fall, and comeback.
[Serena] Williams has surpassed her male peers and demonstrated the flip side of the extreme, confident and righteous qualities necessary to achieve success — she dared to get angry, and show it, when she opposed what she considered an unfair call at the United States Open last September.... No women have the leeway to behave like Woods and get away with it; a black woman certainly does not.
Tiger Woods is black...  so the race theory here is weak. I think people — especially white people — love and root for Tiger Woods even more — a lot more — precisely because he is black.
Women literally cannot afford to make the messy mistakes we see in the long arc of a lot of a storied male athletes’ careers, and they rarely get the payoffs.
Back to the gender argument. It seems to me, there's no one to compare to Tiger Woods — the ascent, the crash, the long time in the wilderness, the perfection of the big comeback win. You can't generalize to: Men can do that, women can't. Now, there's also the fact that people are much more interested in men's sports. But they're not so interested in golf. There are a lot of people who only care about golf to the extent that it's about Tiger. Who else has done that with a sport — made millions of people care about it only because of him (or her)?
“I’m no Tiger Woods,” Hamilton told me...
Yeah, you and everybody else on the face of the earth except Tiger himself.
Society rarely allows women to nurture those bold qualities that drive standout success. Instead, to get ahead, women either learn to stifle those instincts, or get punished for them. This muffles the traits that might lead to failure and inevitably also the qualities that lead to success. To be sure, some men are being held accountable for their bad behavior these days....
Shouldn’t everyone be able to recover from a fall from grace? Or at the very least, shouldn’t we allow both men and women to get high enough to fall?
Getting that high means beating everybody else. There's no way for the rest of us to "allow" that. Women already enjoy the allowance of playing in separated women's sports. Getting a comeback like Tiger Woods is something that's theoretically available for everyone, but who else could ever do it and who would even want that to happen to him (or her)? The argument for equality doesn't fly. We're talking about individual achievement here. You can dislike that adulation of the individual, but it's incoherent to demand equal access to it.

But it is true that we, the spectators, experience different emotions when we watch males and females. Is the author of the NYT piece trying to tell us we need to change our emotions and make them less about femaleness and maleness? Why should we do that? We're making a practice of watching different human beings as they perform physical feats. Why shouldn't our emotions have to do with gender? Why are we watching sports in the first place? I'd like to see a deeper analysis of the significance of sports spectating!

You don't get a comeback. You make a comeback. Maybe women are more inclined to wait for someone to give them something.
Yes, this is what troubled me most about this NYT piece. It really does undercut women by insisting proactively that women be given something no man was given. That's what's incoherent. The idea of equality doesn't work, because what's demanded for women is not something any man ever had.


Get ready for Woody Harrelson as Archie Bunker and Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson.

With Marisa Tomei as Edith Bunker and Wanda Sykes Louise Jefferson.
ABC is staging one-night-only revivals of two iconic Norman Lear sitcoms, All in the Family and The Jeffersons, Jimmy Kimmel announced during his show on Thursday. Airing Wednesday, May 22 at 8/7c, [it will be a] 90-minute live event...

“They have said over and over again that these two shows were meant for the ’70s and would not work today. We disagree with them and are here to prove, with two great casts depicting All in the Family and The Jeffersons, the timelessness of human nature,” Lear said in a statement. “I cannot wait to see what these glorious performers make in our time of these indelible characters....”
I like all those actors (especially Wanda Sykes, who's been excellent on "Curb Your Enthusiasm").

I wonder how well they'll do "the timelessness of human nature" in the Trump Era. Obviously, Archie will have to be a big Trumpster, but the question is whether they can balance the characters and spread the love and mockery across the political spectrum they represent.

"A series of coordinated explosions struck three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people and injuring 450."

"Blasts ripped through three churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa at approximately 8:45 a.m. as worshipers were gathering for services. Explosions also took place at four hotels within Colombo, the nation’s capital, police said, while an eighth blast occurred under a flyover within the city. There has been no claim of responsibility for the bombings.... Sri Lankan authorities... blocked Facebook and the messaging application WhatsApp to stop the spread of false and inflammatory messages."

WaPo reports.

ADDED: A "flyover" is "A railway or road bridge over another (e.g. a local over a main) line or road" (OED). This word goes back to 1901. I've never seen the word with this meaning. The American use of the word — which the OED calls "U.S. colloquial (depreciative)" — is "Designating the central regions of the continental United States over which aeroplanes travel on flights between the east and west coasts, regarded as less influential or significant than the urban coastal regions." This usage is traced to an article in Esquire by Thomas McGuane in 1980: "Because we live in flyover country, we try to figure out what is going on elsewhere by subscribing to magazines."

Happy Easter!

(The image, from the collection at "Resurrection of Jesus in Christian art" (Wikipedia), is from 1558, by Lucas Cranach the Younger.