September 28, 2019

“The rise of the bowl cut has nothing to do with the hairstyle itself, or the view that it’s somehow a cool or attractive hairstyle to be emulated.”

“In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s precisely the fact that it looks silly that it gained traction as a white supremacist symbol. Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow with ADL’s Center on Extremism, compares [Dylann] Roof’s bowl cut to Hitler’s mustache: an objectively ridiculous-looking, yet distinctive enough feature that it can be easily subject to memeification. Yet the rise of the symbol is inextricably tied to part of a larger effort to canonize Roof within the white supremacist movement. The ADL started seeing white supremacists incorporate the bowl cut into their iconography around 2017, a few years after the Charleston church shooting. Pitcavage says this timing is significant, in large part because in the immediate aftermath of the Charleston shooting, many white supremacists either disavowed Roof or expressed disapproval of his actions — not necessarily for moral reasons, but because they believed violence would attract undue scrutiny to the movement.”

From “How a White Supremacist’s Haircut Became a Symbol of Hate” (Rolling Stone).

The crowd laughed at the joke that Governor Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him.”

Reported at The Federalist, in “Texas Democrat Forced To Apologize For Saying Gov. Greg Abbott ‘Hates Trees Because One Fell On Him.’”

Governor Abbott was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 27 when he was out running on a windy day and a tree fell on him.

How I swam 100 laps today and only 20 yesterday.

Yesterday, I counted laps. 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, the whole length of the pool, and 2, 2, 2, 2, coming back. It was a boring thing to think, and it was nevertheless also hard not to lose track.

Today, I used a poem I happen to have already memorized, and I thought one word for the length of the pool and advanced to the next word for the next length and so on. I never lost track of where I was, and I found it very interesting to isolate a single word and roll it over and over in my head as I swam a length. I got many new ideas about the poem and the words of the poem mixed nicely with moving along through the water.

Did I get a “workout”? — you might ask, but I don’t, other than to imagine another person pushing me on that score. I’m just looking for pleasurable, stimulating things to do with my mind and body. For that, the one-word-per-lap/memorized poem approach was fantastic!

Why had I never thought of this before? I don’t know, but I got snagged by computer problems this morning. It slowed me down but also got me thinking laterally. Sometimes when you can’t go galumphing along in your usual way, you stand around awhile and see another avenue.

What did Schumer mean when he threatened Trump about the CIA’s ways to get back at him?

“Did anyone ever ask Sen. Schumer exactly what he meant when he warned Trump that the intel community had ‘Six ways from Sunday’ to get back at him? What made Schumer think that? What ways did he have in mind? Please send article or link if this was asked and answered. Thanks.”

Sharyl Attkisson tweeted.

[Sorry, I’ve been having some computer problems this morning, and the close quotes and “Sharyl Attkisson tweeted” got cut off. That must have been confusing. The request from more info is from Attkisson, and I’m just glad to see she’s working on that.]

Here is a girl whose name and picture should not be in the newspaper.

I saw this story in a tabloid yesterday and chose not to blog it, because the child should be protected, but now I'm seeing it in the New York Times: "Black Virginia Girl Says White Classmates Cut Her Dreadlocks on Playground/The police said they were investigating a report by 12-year-old Amari Allen that three white students forcibly cut portions of her hair at their Christian school."
The girl, Amari Allen, who is in sixth grade, and her family said the assault happened on Monday during recess on the playground of the school, Immanuel Christian School in Springfield. They said the three boys, whom they would not name, had been bullying Amari since the start of the school year in August.

“They put me on the ground,” Amari said on Friday in a phone interview. “One of them put my hands behind my back. One put his hands over my mouth. One cut my hair. They were saying that my hair was ugly, that it was nappy.”...

Cynthia Allen, who is Amari’s grandmother and legal guardian, said in an interview on Friday that Amari was initially hesitant to tell her what happened to her hair, but that on Wednesday she finally broke down crying about the episode. “They called her ugly and told her she should not be alive,” Ms. Allen said. “They said she shouldn’t have been born.”... 
Here's the NBC4 report, putting the names Mike Pence and Karen Pence in the headline: "Boys Pin Down Black Classmate, Cut Her Dreadlocks at Virginia School, She Says/The incident occurred at the evangelical Christian school where Vice President Mike Pence's wife, Karen Pence, teaches part-time." The page has teasers for stories about discrimination against black people for their hairstyles. Additional factual assertions (reported without the usual "X told Y" phrases that the NYT is careful about):
[O]n Monday, she was at recess and about to go down a slide when one of the boys grabbed her and put a hand over her mouth. Another boy grabbed her arms. A third boy cut off some of her hair.

"They put their hands over my mouth. They put my hands behind my back. And they started cutting my hair and saying it was ugly," Amari said The bell rang and the boys ran off laughing.

Scared, Amari told no one. On Wednesday, her grandmother was doing her hair when she noticed long portions of it missing. The girl started crying and told the whole story.... 

September 27, 2019

"Trump always fights. He will fight it to the very end. After all he's stood up to, it's bizarre to think he won't stand his ground now."

"He's a showman, into the narrative, and if all his enemies take arms against him, he will know he's the star of this show. He won't slink off like Nixon. And Nixon had his own party turn on him. That hasn't happened to Trump yet, but even if the GOP turned on him, it wouldn't be the same as with Nixon, because the GOP was never really on his side. It just aligned with him when it served its interests. He will be an even more poignantly heroic protagonist if his own party turns on him, and his people will love him to the end."

That's something I wrote on Facebook, after someone suggested that the Democrats may be thinking that Trump will, like Nixon, resign.

"That’s why I applaud Mattel’s Creatable World, a new collection of gender-neutral dolls, which allow kids to customize their Barbie and Ken in ways they never could before."

"The dolls come in a variety of skin tones, with extensions so they can have short or long hair and wear contemporary clothing styles that men and women have shared for decades."

Writes Hannah Sparks in The New York Post.

Does Mattel really call them "gender neutral" dolls? I'm also seeing the term "gender-fluid" in the article. They look like girl dolls to me. Lots of girls have short hair and like to wear jeans and t-shirts.

I'm looking at the Mattel website, and the words I'm seeing are the name of the product line, Creatable World, the slogan "Making Doll Play More Inclusive," and this copy:
In our world, dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them. Introducing Creatable World™, a doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in—giving kids the freedom to create their own customizable characters again and again.
So Mattel is ostensibly against "labels," but the journalists carrying their PR forward are introducing "gender neutral" and "gender-fluid." Frankly, I find this unfriendly to lesbians. And it's annoying to girls who like short hair and play clothes but feel like girls (whether they're lesbian or not). That is or should be most girls. Why slap the label "gender neutral" or "gender-fluid" on that? Mattel doesn't, and there's no reason why girls (or boys) at the playing-with-dolls age should be bothered with these labels. The idea of "Creatable World" seems to be to leave the kids to come up with their own ideas not to foist some additional adult concept onto them. Let children be children.

"Write your life in terms of ten cars from your past. Are you inside or outside the car? Where are you sitting? Who else is there? What's to your right and to your left? Where are you going?"

A writing prompt from Lynda Barry, quoted in "UW-Madison profs Lynda Barry and Andrea Dutton win $625,000 MacArthur 'genius' award" (at the subreddit r/Wisconsin).

"It’s very frustrating because this community likes to see itself as very progressive, but look what the fuck is happening with someone in our community."

"That’s why it bothered me so much. This woman, who looks like anyone you could see at a PTA meeting or next to you in yoga class, is out here terrorizing people in CVS."

Said Renée Saldaña, a witness to an incident that happened in L.A., described in "Police Are Investigating A White Woman Who Yelled The N-Word And Said She Was Pro-Lynching At A CVS." The woman did not just "yell the n-word." There's a whole long rant, with the n-word used many times. You can watch the video and read the transcript at the link (to Buzzfeed).

"The meditative 'Because' has John, Paul, and George singing every line together. John said he was listening to his wife, Yoko Ono, playing Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata..."

"... asked her to play the chords backwards, and then wrote 'Because' around that. The actual chords to 'Because' aren't the same as the Moonlight Sonata's first movement played backwards or forwards, but you can still feel how the spirit of Beethoven touched Lennon."

So writes my son John in a blog post yesterday about "Abbey Road," which came out 50 years ago yesterday. I had just started college, and I remember being surrounded by people who were all so excited about the new Beatles album. I remember listening to the album for the first time with the person who would turn out to be [my son] John's father and it was specifically the song "Because" that we both especially loved the first time we heard it. I even remember the line that seemed most sublime: "Because the world is round/It turns me on."

John writes:
"Come Together" starts the album on a dark note, with the band sounding united as they play a primal, minimalistic hook that fuses guitars, bass, and drums; every instrument feels essential, especially Ringo's repeated fill. Eerily, John starts each repetition of the hook by saying: "Shoot me!"
I don't know when I started, but ever since maybe the 3rd playing of the record, I put the second side on first. To me, the album begins with "Here Comes the Sun." Very bright. Not dark!

ADDED: I added the bracketed "[my son]" because there are 2 Johns mentioned here and one could imagine not just that there's no heaven but that I got mixed up into some time travel and listened to "Abbey Road" with John Lennon's father. I don't want you to be confused!

"Dems hold Trump to double standard – What was OK for Obama isn’t OK for Trump."

Writes Andrew McCarthy (Fox News).

"When a Des Moines Register reporter on Tuesday helped expose racist tweets posted years ago by a local man who used his viral Internet fame to raise millions for a children’s hospital..."

"... it inspired a vicious backlash against 'cancel culture' — and the reporter himself, who critics soon found had his own history of offensive posts. The Register announced late Thursday that the reporter, Aaron Calvin, no longer works for the newspaper.... Critics upset with Calvin for surfacing the old tweets dug into the reporter’s own timeline and found troubling posts that mocked same-sex marriage, made light of abuse against women and used a racial slur. Calvin began deleting the old tweets Tuesday evening and then apologized...."

From "Reporter who outed racist tweets by viral fundraiser leaves Des Moines Register after his own offensive posts surface" (WaPo).

Cancel, cancel, cancel... it's a dangerous machine. You might want to step back... unless you're sure you never did or said anything bad.

I made a tag for "cancel culture." I'd been avoiding it, but this story pushed me over the line. Sorry, I'm not applying this one retroactively. It would be nice if I never had to use this one again. What's wrong with us? So hateful in the fight against hate. What bizarre hypocrisy!

"Trump’s getting impeached? I defy you to convince anyone at this cursed truck stop."

Writes Alexandria Petri, who seems to have ventured out of the elite cocoon to talk to some deplorables before condemning them for failing to match her opinion. This account of a perilous journey to the hinterlands appears in The Washington Post. She doesn't state where this truck stop is, so I'm not certain it isn't a satirical fantasy. I'm just reading the headline and glancing at the text, trying to find out exactly where this is, and I'm suspecting "cursed" is a clue that the place is her invention, the truck stop from hell.

Now, I'm reading the text.
I’ve been interviewing for what I figure is at least an hour — the clock on the wall is broken — and everyone I speak to still supports the president just as much as they did the day he was elected....
Who relies on a wall clock to know what time it is? That's your first clue.
The old man at the end of the counter shakes his head when I tell him the president is beleaguered by scandal. He’s not tied to his phone, like some of you coastal types. He’s not bound even to the latest fashion. I notice he’s wearing an old wide-brimmed hat and rimless spectacles, the kind I haven’t seen outside of movies. He says he’s still with the president, and that he doesn’t pay attention to the daily buzz of news. He has priorities like many real Americans have. I want to go out to my car, but it’s raining too hard. Coffee here is only a nickel. I order another cup.
I think that's another clue. Coffee can't be only a nickel anywhere, can it? I look it up, and find this at Eater:
A latte may cost $5—but America’s cheapest cup of coffee is a mere 5 cents.... Yet, one kitschy old place in Wall, South Dakota is garnering attention for the opposite reason. Their cup of joe only costs a nickel. And owners haven’t raised the price since the 1960s. Wall Drug Store, also known as Wall Drug, is a Western-themed diner on the edge of the Badlands that sells the bargain brew using an honor system, with serve-yourself coffee urns and piggy bank-style boxes where customers drop their change. 
Well, hell. I feel like I've dropped into my own surreal scenario. I look up the clue — 5¢ coffee — and I get an answer about what "truck stop" we're talking about and there it is: "South Dakota is garnering attention"... garnering! That word I've been railing against since 2015 (click the tag for more). Sometimes it seems the universe is winking at me.

Back to Petri:
I try to say something about the impeachment, but no one can hear me over the noise of the soybeans, growing healthy and strong. I have never heard a soybean so loud before....
Okay. Ha ha. So funny. Laughing at the farmers.
When I look at my watch, the hands don’t seem to move, but when I look at it again after my next sip of coffee, it says hours have passed. How long have I been here?
So she's not relying on the wall clock.
Someone tries to mention the phone call to the president of Ukraine, and out of nowhere, pigs in all the neighboring fields begin to screech, horribly, an almost human sound, and they only stop when he gives up mentioning it....
Oh, no. She's laughing at the idea of people living in farm country. It makes them so stupid. The screeching of the plants and animals fills up their useful-for-nothing-but-farming brains. What tags should I give this? Besides "garner (the word!)," I mean. I'm thinking "class politics."
The corn and soybeans don’t care about what the president has been doing on his phone calls to Ukraine. Whenever I try to ask, something rustles against the window, and it’s corn. I think it must be higher than an elephant’s eye now. The corn is pressed right up to the glass. I think the corn wants to get inside.
This is the figure of speech called "metonymy" — the things associated with people stand in for the people. She's talking about corn and soybeans as a way to talk about the people. You can only do this with white people, by the way. Talk about black people as animals and your career is over, but talk about white people as plants and you'll do fine.
There’s a Norman Rockwell painting hung on the wall, and it says it doesn’t think the president has done anything bad. There’s a scarecrow in a pair of dungarees with a big pitchfork. He and his pitchfork both voted for Trump. They will vote for him in the next hundred elections. When I turn around from talking to them, I don’t see the windows anymore. Is it day or night? I thought there used to be windows. Has it always been so dark? Are we underground?...
Here's the reveal that it's all a bad dream, presumably. Ha ha ha. Not fake news, not class snobbery, just something hilarious cooked up in the Washington Post for the comfortable amusement of its readers.
The walls are packed earth and so is the clock and it still hasn’t moved and now there is something crawling in the wall. The wall bursts! There’s an enormous worm here, and I pledge allegiance to it, willingly. I burn my notebook for King Worm!...
Just in case you were slow picking up that this is satire, you're beaten over the head with a giant phallic symbol (and soon enough "The walls squeeze in and out, like the clenching of an enormous fist!").

Good satire? A commenter over there says: "Wow. A bravura performance. Perfectly captures the dystopic and Kafka-esque reactions of the right wing to this clear cut (and clearly impeachable) scandal. Kudos, Ms. Petri."

September 26, 2019

In troublesome times, keep your spirits up.


"The agency is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment."

"Based upon data and reports, the agency is concerned that California’s implementation of federal environmental laws is failing to meet its obligations required under delegated federal programs."

Wrote EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to California Governor Gavin Newsome, quoted in "EPA tells California it is ‘failing to meet its obligations’ to protect the environment" (WaPo).
San Francisco officials reject the idea that they have failed to capture objects such as needles because they send sewage and street runoff to the same pipes. This combined discharge is treated at one of the city’s sewage treatment plants, where pollutants are captured or treated before being released to the San Francisco Bay or the Pacific Ocean.

“We have our challenges in San Francisco around homelessness,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s communications director, Jeff Cretan, said in response to Trump’s comments aboard Air Force One. “But in terms of needles flowing into the bay, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
In terms of excrement flowing into the bay, it’s not absolutely ridiculous.
San Francisco is one of the few major cities with sewers that combine stormwater and sewage flows that is not operating under a federal consent decree.

Drawing on public databases and press reports — including a NPR report in August that “piles of human feces” are now visible on sidewalks and streets in San Francisco — Wheeler noted that even California’s own government has posted studies noting that human waste can increase bacteria levels in water off its beaches.

Apple's Emily Dickinson.

It's getting a reaction.

Me, I'm going to watch it and everything else more oddly.

The art of the paraphrase.

"Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!"

The wild clinch.


The whistleblower complaint is out.

Read it at Vox.

September 25, 2019

Rest stop.


The transcript is released.

Read it here (at NBC).

I haven't read it yet, but I see the line that NBC cherry-picked — presumably the most damning thing — is "I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down, which is really unfair."

Here's the mention of Biden (click to enlarge and sharpen):

Ah! So what Trump was talking about was the way Biden "stopped the prosecution" and "went around bragging about it." Trump wanted Ukraine to look into Biden's interference with an investigation into Biden’s son. [Correction made: I’d originally written “investigation into Ukraine.” Sorry for the confusion!]

Morning has broken...


The post title is the title of a 1913 Christian hymn sung by Cat Stevens that I often listen to on my morning walk/run. I had to look up the lyrics in the second verse because as Stevens sings it — and I've listened closely, over and over — it sounds like this:
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first cue ball on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass
But there can't be a cue ball in Eden!

"Then, as if to match this anachronistic sound, their lyrics were written from the perspective of various characters in distant-past American settings..."

"... Dust Bowl farmers ('King Harvest [Has Surely Come]'), Civil War soldiers ('The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'), Manifest Destiny fulfillers ('Across the Great Divide').... ... The Band is an album about America as written by a Canadian band (with the notable exception of Helm, who was from Arkansas). And it’s within the complications of that dynamic that perhaps The Band’s best song, 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,' lives, wrought with a particular type of humanity and heartbreak that’s increasingly hard to reckon with, given that its foundation lies within the perspective of a Confederate.... These stories weren’t really theirs to begin with -- they were just there to be plucked. And part of what makes it such a compelling, enduring, and difficult artifact of popular music to grapple with is this feeling that it’s a document of the country’s thorny past without being a strict endorsement of it."

From "Fifty Years of 'The Band,' an Album that Didn't Fit the Mold Then or Now" (Billboard).

Here, you can listen to the "Last Waltz" performance of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." This much-up-voted comment is more enlightening than Billboard's dumb explanation for dummies (that the song isn't "a strict endorsement" of America's "thorny past"):
---I was a young urban Black kid going to a suburban school. A White friend played this for me in his car. On a cassette.
----I almost cried right there, because the level of pain and stress in the lyrics. As a Northerner they did not teach us anything about the aftermath of that war.
------Forgive me, but I thought Levon was Black. Just the grit, power and Southern soul in his voice.
2018------It still moves me to tears. Absolutely the best history lesson of the post Civil War South.
I remember — as a college student — staring at that picture on album cover, listening to the music, and feeling like the men had magically arrived from the past and were bringing us song stories from the 19th century. It wasn't easy, in 1969, to look up who they actually were and why they were singing like this. You just had the music and the notions and images that arose in your mind. These were so powerful to me that I don't really like to read the true story now. The experience of the art was already everything.

The big story of the day is supposed to be the newly "formal" impeachment inquiry, but...

... look at the "promoted" stories that appear in my Twitter feed from The New York Times.

There's this old one from last April that the Times has promoted quite a bit over the months (perhaps because of the eye-catching expanse of male torso (which can fool the eye before you directly focus on it (for example, this morning, I thought it might be sweet potatoes)):

And then there's this new story... but it's about kitty cats:

I'm sure they know from experience that people click on stuff about pets, especially the age old question is Trump a tyrant, I mean, are dogs better than cats.

Here's the article, "Cats Like People! (Some People, Anyway)/Despite apparent aloofness, cats are social creatures capable of relationships with people, a new study suggests."

"Mark Normand's Bad-Ass New Orleans Trans Nanny."

"There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have. The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear."

"They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen to another President. Witch Hunt!"

Tweets Trump, setting the narrative, in which he is the protagonist.

There are different ways to respond to this cue. Just to pick from the tweets displayed directly under Trump's right now, there's:
The democrats hate President Trump more than they love this country. They are so emboldened with hate they are blinded.
President Trump has weathered many storms, and he will continue to ride high on the seas of destiny. He will eliminate the entire government completely, day by day, one by one. He will reign alone, and within the ruins of the demon-scape his truth will be the only sound


September 24, 2019

This morning's sunrise.

Looking west:


Looking east:


Is Hillary running?!

From "New Hillary listening tour: ‘I’d like to hear what you're thinking'" (Washington Examiner).
In an email to supporters, the 2008 and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said, “I’d like to hear what you’re thinking.”...

“I’ve been traveling and talking with folks around the world about their plans for the rest of the year. Some members of this team are doubling down on issues from voting rights to immigration reform, while others are focused on electing Democrats at all levels in 2019 and 2020. Like you, they’re all thinking about how we can best work toward making our country a place where the values we share are front and center — in our policy and in the way we treat each other,” she wrote for her group, “Onward Together.”
I said it last May:
Yesterday, on Facebook, my son John declared an "Open thread for your predictions on who’ll win the 2020 presidential election. I know it’s too early, but it’s still fun to guess." There were lots of answers, mostly "Trump," but some said Biden or Harris or Buttigieg. After 4 hours of that, I said:
Hillary. It’s her turn.
I laughed and I got laughs:
But is it a joke? Someone else commented...

How is it a "formal impeachment inquiry" when it was a "closed-door meeting" of only the Democratic Congress.

I'm trying to understand the terminology, as reported in The Washington Post, in "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry of Trump, says his actions were a ‘betrayal of national security.'"

What does "formal" mean? Pelosi made an announcement "after a closed-door meeting with her caucus." Shouldn't formality entail an open proceeding, with participation of all members of the House?

It's funny, there's criticism of Trump for withholding things Congress that he did outside of the public ver and for acting for his own political benefit, but they're operating as a single party behind closed doors, and it certainly seems that what they talked about was their own political advantage.

Madison's Vicki McKenna has a run-in with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — over the meaning of a wink.

Listen to McKenna's radio show today: "Ms. McKenna goes to Washington."

ADDED: If that link to the radio show doesn't work for you, you can go here (later).

And here's the coverage at Reason: "Witness Says Vaping Helped Her Quit Smoking. Rashida Tlaib Asks 'Are You a Conspiracy Theorist?'/'Vaping is a health miracle to me,' said ex-smoker Vicki Porter [AKA McKenna]. 'Not safe, but less harmful.'"

"River going to take me, sing sweet and sleepy/Sing me sweet and sleepy all the way back home...."

That's my favorite Grateful Dead song — "Brokedown Palace."

Goodbye to Robert Hunter.
Robert Hunter... died Monday night. He was 78. No cause of death was provided.... “He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. His wife Maureen was by his side holding his hand. For his fans that have loved and supported him all these years, take comfort in knowing that his words are all around us, and in that way his is never truly gone. In this time of grief please celebrate him the way you all know how, by being together and listening to the music. Let there be songs to fill the air.”...

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to announce on Tuesday that the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Democrats close to her said..."

"... taking decisive action in response to startling allegations that the president sought to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain," the NYT says.
After months of caution, Ms. Pelosi has become convinced that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, left the House no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry that has the potential to reshape his presidency and cleave an already divided nation just a year before he plans to stand for re-election...

At issue are allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress....

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation, but Democrats want the full whistle-blower complaint.
Trump knows what's in the transcript, and I see here that's coming out tomorrow. I wonder why the Democrats want to decide today rather than after the transcript comes out. Maybe they learned a lesson from Mitt Romney, who let the mention of a transcript break his stride. Oh! There's a transcript, well, then....

ADDED: Trump reacts:

"Whaddya mean 'no,' Ben?"

What a man in a United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners t-shirt said to me today.

“That’s a crazy head of hair you’ve got.”

I was just walking along a bike/pedestrian trail here in Madison, and he was a stranger who approached from behind and walked past.

Take the poll...

How I responded... free polls

"Voyeurs have created online communities, where they share and sell work, trade tips and egg one another on toward more and more exploitative photos and videos."

"In the process, victims are often exposed to exponentially more eyeballs.... Schklowsky, who taught drama and directed school plays... stashed at least one small camera in a drama department changing room to capture students as they undressed, police said. Such cameras are part of a generation of devices so small they can be hidden almost anywhere. Voyeurs have also turned to a range of devices embedded with cameras. A Johns Hopkins gynecologist filmed women with cameras in pens and phone chargers. A D.C. rabbi used a clock radio with a hidden camera to shoot women who were undressing for a ritual bath. A thriving online marketplace has even more devices: miniature cameras embedded in sneaker tops, shaving cream cans, electric razors and scales...."

From "One accused teacher, 8,000 dirty images: A school’s exploitation shows no place is safe from hidden cameras anymore" (WaPo).

By the way, the headline is terrible. There's nothing "dirty" about teenagers changing their clothes. The evil is in the behavior of anyone who invades their privacy. That evil is not in the pictures. The pictures are evidence of a dirty mind, but it's inaccurate to write "dirty images," and it shows the insidiousness of victim blaming, which I'm sure The Washington Post did not intend.

"Out of nowhere, it's all come together in past 18 games for Brewers."

Headline at the Wisconsin State Journal.
The Brewers’ 71-67 record on Sept. 4 left them in third place in the National League Central, 6½ games behind first-place St. Louis and four games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card spot — with two other teams standing in between.

On Monday, however, when Brewers players, coaches and fans woke up and checked their local newspapers, the standings told a significantly different story. Milwaukee, thanks to a stunning 15-3 run, began the day in a virtual tie for the NL’s top wild card spot with the Nationals and just three games behind the Cardinals with six games to play.
And they did this without their big star Christian Yelich (who fractured his knee cap) and with limited ability to use Mike Moustakas, Keston Hiura, Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun (all of whom are limited by injury). The lesser characters stepped up: Cory Spangenberg, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, and Orlando Arcia. It's a lovely narrative. Just 3 games in Cincinnati and then 3 games in Denver and the season is over. Fantastic ending. We now have a 99% chance of making the playoffs and (per FiveThirtyEight) even a 2% chance of winning the World Series.

Elizabeth Warren doesn't know how to make the news.

I assume the media want to cover Elizabeth Warren and to give her a boost and that she's just not giving them anything. Here's what I saw just now when I used Google news to search her name. It's just various sites re-analyzing the polls (which actually don't show her rising anymore!) and a prompt to switch my attention over to Bernie Sanders (who made the news by with the pithy statement, "billionaires should not exist"). Click to enlarge and sharpen:

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 9.15.38 AM

Here's the Real Clear Politics picture of the last 2 weeks in the polls, showing Biden gently rising and Warren sagging after her post-debate rise:

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 9.22.18 AM

And here's one of the stories from my Google news search that manufacture wan Elizabeth Warren "news" out of the polls: "The Latest Iowa Poll Is Good News For Elizabeth Warren And Tulsi Gabbard" (FiveThirtyEight). Yes, there was one poll that was good news for Warren. It was Iowa only (with her at 22% and Biden at 20).

I'm writing this post because it's hard to notice things that don't happen. But I noticed this — Elizabeth Warren's failure to make news — because I was so impressed by the strength of President Trump's news-making as he tossed off some remarks on his way to a meeting yesterday. Now, of course, it's always easier for a President to make news, but there Trump was just walking by going to a meeting on one subject (religious freedom) and he got out a fantastic quote making his case in the Ukraine story that the Democrats have insisted on forefronting. Nevertheless, the challengers to the President need to make their news. They need to make an impression. How can Warren hope to pick up supporters if there isn't a stream of stories about her?

I search the NYT to see the current stories that have her name, and they aren't stories about anything she said or did: "Sanders Proposes Wealth Tax, Setting Up Clash With Warren," "Democrats Want to Tax the Rich. Here’s How Those Plans Would Work (or Not)," "Bernie Sanders Proposes a Wealth Tax, Taking Aim at Billionaires," "'Way Too Extreme': Some Democrats Warn Against Moving Left," "How Similar Are Your Political Views to Those of Your Parents?/On which specific candidates, issues, policies or political theories do you agree? On which do you disagree?," "Late Night Calls Out Trump for Bringing Up Biden With Ukraine," "Biden Returns to Philadelphia for Big-Dollar Fundraiser," "Where Have We Seen This Before?/President Trump is casting Joe Biden in a familiar role," "Nancy Pelosi’s Failure to Launch/The House speaker’s hesitation on impeachment empowers a lawless president," "Democrats Increase Qualifying Thresholds for November Debate."

I got bored copying NYT headlines — not skipping anything — looking for an article that was actually about Warren. Skipping down a bit, I finally got to one that showed her making news: "Warren and Biden Join U.A.W. Picket Lines as Democrats Use Strike to Court Labor." Excerpt:

"We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine. Everybody knows it. It's just a Democrat witch-hunt. Here we go again."

"They failed with Russia, they failed with recession, they failed with everything, and now they're bringing this up. The one who's got the problem is Biden. Because if you look at what Biden did, Biden did what they would like to have me do — except with one problem. I didn't do it. What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace. His son took money from Ukraine. The son took money from China. A lot of money from China. China would love to see he would —they could think of nothing they'd rather see then Biden get in because they will take this great deal that we are about to make and they would really have themselves a deal for themselves. So let me just tell you--let me just tell you, what Biden did was wrong." ["Mr. President, what did you tell the Ukrainian President about Joe Biden and his son during your phone call?"] "Well, you're going to see because what we are doing is we want honesty. And if we deal with the country, we want honesty. I think with the new president [of Ukraine], you're going to see much more honesty in the Ukraine, and that's what we are looking for. We are supporting a country. We want to make sure that country is honest. It's very important to talk about corruption. If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? One of the reasons the new president got elected is he was going to stop corruption. So it's very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption. Very important."

Trump said to reporters yesterday at the U.N. (as he was on the way to a meeting about religious freedom).

Passing some construction workers in Madison, I overheard this fragment of an anecdote.

"... first time I ever saw a pair of titties and I was confused — wondering if I was a little gay or something."

"President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call..."

"... in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had 'concerns' and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.... Trump’s order to withhold aid to Ukraine a week before his July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky is likely to raise questions about the motivation for his decision and fuel suspicions on Capitol Hill that Trump sought to leverage congressionally approved aid to damage a political rival."

WaPo reports.

Three senior administration officials.

One reason I have difficulty taking the cue to feel suspicious that "Trump sought to leverage congressionally approved aid to damage a political rival" is that I think Joe Biden is Trump's weakest rival and that Trump should prefer that Biden get through and become the candidate, not help knock him out of contention and give more formidable rivals a better shot. My hypothesis has been that Democrats wanted to forefront the problem with Biden and Ukraine to push him out of the race, because they can see that he'll be a terrible nominee and his poll numbers have stubbornly held strong. But I see his numbers remain strong, even with all the damaging news about him and Ukraine.

ADDED: I wrote "My hypothesis has been that Democrats wanted to forefront the problem with Biden," so let me show you were I said that. On September 21,  I wrote: "For me, this reinforces the suspicion I aired yesterday, that the real motivation for surfacing this story now is to push Biden out." That links what I said on the 20th: "Is there some idea that this is the issue that will be used in the future against Biden and that it ought to come out now?"

Trump gets sarcastic, inviting us to think about the mental health of Greta Thunberg.

He seems lighthearted, in his usual style. He's almost always jolly, whatever's going on. But from Thunberg's perspective, his laughing is evil-villain laughter, and she projects herself into the future, where there are billions of her, hating him and, with him, all of the rest of us current adults who are ruining everything and laughing at a little girl.

September 23, 2019

At Itsy's Café...


... it's nice to see you again (on the first day of autumn!).

(And let me remind you about the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy all sorts of things?)

"If you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion and respect, then you can do any kind of work, in any field..."

"... and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you will ultimately reach your goal."

Tweets the Dalai Lama.

It is not by chance that this post follows the one below it.

“How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words!"

Trump is very creative at repurposing negativity — I said earlier this morning...

... here... and now I'm seeing this:

Bill Weld stands out in the Trump derangement crowd by saying Trump committed treason and the "only penalty" for treason is death.

Fox News reports.
“Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election, it couldn’t be clearer. And that’s not just undermining democratic institutions, that is treason," Weld said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It’s treason pure and simple. And the penalty for treason under the U.S. Code is death. That’s the only penalty.... The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office, and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he could work out a plea deal.... The only penalty for treason is death, it’s spelled out in the statute.”

While the U.S. Code does list the death penalty as a punishment for treason, Weld’s claim that it is the only penalty is false. Treason is covered by 18. U.S. Code § 2381, which says that a person guilty of treason “shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Impeaching Trump now = conceding the 2020 election.

That's my working theory. I don't know if the Democrats in Congress will go so far as to impeach Trump, but I tend to think that if they do, it will be because they think they're going to lose the election and they need another route toward defeating Trump.

Of course, if Trump is impeached by the Democrats who have a majority in the House, he will not be removed from office, because the Republicans control the Senate. We'll be subjected to a horrific blend of legal mystification and political advantage seeking.

So why would the Democrats predict that it will advantage them? My answer is: because they feel sure they're losing the actual election, the straightforward political fight.

The timing is important. They could wait for the actual election, the normal process of American democracy, or — if they think that won't work — they can start delegitimatizing it now, while they think they have a decent shot at making us believe they're doing something righteous and noble. If they wait too long, the con will become more obvious.

Now, I'm going to read the Daniel W. Drezner column, "The strategic case for impeaching President Trump/Welcome to some zero-sum game theory" (WaPo), which I think may say something like what I wanted to jot down before being influenced:
Pelosi thinks that impeachment needs to be a bipartisan process, and without GOP support impeachment is a hollow threat that would harm Democrats in 2020....
So, as long the Democrats think they can win the actual election, they shouldn't hurt their chances by going for impeachment.
For most of 2019, Pelosi had put the brakes on impeachment. The Ukraine business seems to have tipped the scales, however.... The problem is that Pelosi’s risk-averse political calculus at the start of 2019 has not necessarily changed. Very few Senate Republicans beyond Mitt Romney have said anything about the recent revelations. It is entirely possible that impeachment will be viewed as simply an exercise in partisan politics.
And it's entirely certain that impeachment will be viewed as partly an exercise in partisan politics. And 80% likely that it will be viewed as mostly an exercise in partisan politics.

Drezner offers game theory analysis:
In zero-sum games, one actor’s gain is always the other actor’s loss. The optimal strategy to pursue in this instance is called “minimax.” A minimax strategy anticipates that the other actor will adopt the most punishing strategy possible — and, in response to that strategy, takes the course of action that minimizes the damage....

It is safe to assume that Trump will continue to abuse the powers of the presidency as long as he is in office.... Would impeachment stop any of that? No, not directly. What it would do, however, is distract the heck out of him....  [H]e will obsess about it... He will rant to his... 
He's inept and dangerous, so let's make his job twice as hard. You know, we are dependent on him to do his job well. I have never accepted the effort to distract and confuse him, which has gone on since before he took office. And why don't people see that the endless screwing with him energizes him? He's very creative at repurposing negativity. He seems to revel in the fight. And to many Americans, that's exciting entertainment, and they feel they're cheering the underdog.
He loves a fight.
Yeah, I agree with that. But Drezner stops at thinking Trump will be distracted and imagines this will help the country because distracted Trump won't pay so much attention to doing his job as President.

That's how Drezner wants the Democrats to help?! First, that's a disgusting approach to running the country, and it's utter disrespect for the people who used their normal democratic power of voting him into office. And second, the Democrats will be distracting themselves from what they really need to be doing — winning the 2020 election.

Which is why my working theory makes more sense. The Democrats would be deciding that they won't win the 2020 election — an affront to democracy.

I'm sticking to my theory, which — it turned out — isn't anything like what Drezner had to say.

How do you watch "Fleabag"?

I'm seeing "Fleabag" everywhere, the morning after the Emmys. My first question — other than what is it? — is how do you watch it? Because TV isn't like it once was where if something was on TV, duh, you watched it on TV. Something on TV could be in any number of weird places, and if it's something new I have to think about whether I want to subscribe to, I don't know if I want to know anything else. But I googled how do you watch "Fleabag" and I was happy to see it's on Amazon Prime. Okay.

What's the show about then? According to Cosmopolitan, "'Fleabag' Fans Are NOT Happy With Ben Stiller For Saying the Show is About a Sex Addict." Sooo... it's a show with fans who can't take a light ribbing?
Anyone with access to Google (ever heard of it?) can easily tell you that Fleabag is about "a dry-witted woman, known only as Fleabag, has no filter as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tragedy." So, yeah. It's definitely weird that Ben Stiller chose to explain Fleabag as a "show about a sex addict," because that's definitely NOT the main storyline. It's very eye-roll worthy for a dude to describe a female protagonist that is open and honest about her sex life as a "sex addict."
I'm going to add that to my list of Things That Are Very Eye-Roll Worthy For a Dude.
If we're going to get technical here, it's probably worth mentioning that Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] has used the words "sex addiction" when speaking about Fleabag. (Seemingly only once.) In an interview with Vulture, Phoebe did casually mention Fleabag's "kind of sex addiction," but also quickly followed up with, "I suppose if it is that." It's kind of stretch to say that's what the whole entire show is about.
Why bother to make comedies for people with no sense of humor?

Anyway, "Fleabag" won for Outstanding Comedy Series. And Phoebe Waller-Bridge won for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, which is a big deal because they always give that award to Julia Dreyfus for "Veep" and this was the final season of "Veep." And she also beat out "Mrs. Maisel."

"In the casual opinion of most Americans, I am an old man, and therefore of little account, past my best, fading in a pathetic diminuendo while flashing his AARP card, a gringo in his degringolade."

So begins Paul Theroux, in this NYT excerpt — "Paul Theroux’s Mexican Journey/In his 70s, the writer embarks on one of the great adventures of a traveling life, a solo road trip from Reynosa to Chiapas and back" — from his forthcoming book "On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey."

No one has ever before said "degringolade," let alone used "degringolade" in a sentence with "diminuendo." No. Wait. "Degringolade" is a real word, not a sudden coinage based on "gringo."

Being a massive fan of his book "The Mosquito Coast," I trust Theroux with language.

I see that "degringolade" comes from the French French, "dégringoler," which means "to descend rapidly." It has nothing to do with the word "gringo." Theroux came up with that juxtaposition, quite nicely. A "degringolade" is a rapid descent. George Bernard Shaw used it in 1895 in The Saturday Review: "Miss Lottie Collins..will soon find her popularity degringolading from the summit on which the Tarara craze exalted it."

Anyway... I like Theroux, though I haven't read his travel books (but there is plenty of travel in the novel "The Mosquito Coast").

The book excerpt is too long to sample adequately, so I'll just give you one little thing that made me laugh. He's in a restaurant and addresses the owner's granddaughter:
“How old are you?” I asked, to change the subject.


Provoked by my question, the old woman’s daughter — the girl’s mother — approached me and sized me up. “How old are you, señor?” “Adivina.” Take a guess.

She studied me, she did not speak, she cocked her head, pursed her lips, and pressed a finger to her cheek, in actressy reflection, liking the suspense she was creating.

“Seventy-six,” she said. Tilting her head back, looking haughty, she was triumphant.

“But I’m a cabrón,” I said, thumping my chest.

They shrieked, because the word had a belittling meaning here, not “dude,” as I had meant, but “dickhead.”

"Drudge reads Althouse," says Meade, just now, looking at this:

Meade sings, "He is strong/He is invincible/He is Donald" (to the tune of "I Am Woman), as I click on Drudge's link.

It goes to that WaPo article "Trump’s Ukraine call reveals a president convinced of his own invincibility." That's the headline I mocked yesterday — in "WaPo's groping for bad news about Trump stumbles into the double vinc" — for the ham-handed repetition of "vinc" in "convinced... invincibility."

Drudge, amusingly, took the "invincibility" that WaPo intended only as an insult to Trump — who supposedly thinks he is invincible — and turned it into a reality — the idea that Trump is invincible.

This reminds me of something I've heard Scott Adams say a few times. If we see a word next to a person's name, it gets connected to that person, and it doesn't stay put in the precise meaning it had where we first saw it. The original user of the words can't control them after they enter other people's head.

WaPo intended to make Trump look like a delusional, dangerous fool, but maybe Drudge's presentation is something like what happens to WaPo's headline as it sets up residency in the human brain.

"The foreign strategy of soothing tensions with the United States by stroking President Trump’s ego was put into vivid effect here Sunday..."

"... when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lathered praise on his American counterpart at a massive rally celebrating the Indian diaspora. The leaders of the world’s two largest democracies took the stage together in Houston before a roaring crowd of tens of thousands of Indian Americans, where Modi delivered an unmistakable endorsement of Trump’s presidency and cast their joint appearance in historic terms. 'His name is familiar to every person on the planet,' Modi said as he introduced Trump. 'He was a household name and very popular even before he went on to occupy the highest office in this great country. From CEO to commander in chief. From boardrooms to the Oval Office. From studios to global stage.' The prime minister then repurposed his own campaign slogan in India to rally support for 'my friend' Trump in the United States: 'Abki baar, Trump sarkar,' meaning, 'This time, a Trump government.'....  Once Trump arrived, live video of him and Modi walking down a red carpet winding through the bowels of the stadium played on the screens as a drum band played in anticipation of their grand entrance. The two strode onto the stage holding hands. As Trump stood at his side grinning widely, Modi said he admired Trump’s 'concern for every American, a belief in America’s future and a strong resolve to make America great again... We are witnessing history in the making.'"

WaPo grouses in "Trump plays unusual role of warm-up act at massive Modi rally in Houston." "Bowels" is a nice touch. Bravo, WaPo!

September 22, 2019

Who are these festive soldiers, pictured at Drudge to represent Iran's preparation for war?

The linked article is "Iran's president warns America to 'stay away' as it unveils long range missiles that could strike US bases" (Yahoo News), and that photo is there, with the caption, "Iranian Turkmen Basij militia members marching during the annual." The annual what, I don't know. But who are the Turkmen in Iran? I look it up. Wikipedia says:
Turkmen rulers, successively of the Black Sheep Turkomans and White Sheep Turkomans, ruled much of Persia and surrounding countries before Shah Ismail I defeated them to begin the Safavid dynasty in 1501. Tabriz was their usual capital. There remains a relatively small population identifying as Turkmen in modern Iran.
So it makes zero sense for Yahoo to use that photograph for the article, which has nothing about the Turkmen other than that caption. Jesus said "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed." In fact, I was not alarmed. My reaction was to look up Tabriz in Google maps and take a look around. I caught this wonderful sight:

"Respectfully, it's an odd thing to say that Coates's debut is essentially long and shallow, but compare him to some of the most masterful storytellers in the canon."

"I understand it's challenging in this day in age to just say one or the other for fear of being cancelled, but you don't need to bring in Octavia Butler or Toni Morrison in order to do so. None of the sentences highlighted here suggest the tonality of any of the writers you've compared his debut to, either, except for Stephen King — even then, the most comparable thing seems to be pace and plot, not the shape or substance of the novel."

That's the top-rated comment at the NYT review of "The Water Dancer," the first novel by the high-profile nonfiction writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. I can see how the unsung fiction-writers of the world can be very easily irked when somebody who's already successful for some other reason suddenly presents himself as a novelist.

The review is by Dwight Garner — I don't have a problem with the name Garner — and I was looking at the NYT list of his other reviews and I see he reviewed a novel that I happen to have just finished reading: "With ‘Doxology,’ Nell Zink Delivers Her Most Ambitious and Expansive Novel Yet." As in the "Water Dancer" review, Garner names a lot of other writers, and unlike the "Water Dancer" review, this review has some solid quotes from the author to prove the praise is soundly based on artistic merit:

"Seinfeld is better artistically and infinitely more influential and generally more culturally important than Friends. It is not remotely, however, as binge-friendly. Not even close."

Wrote culture pundit Adam Sternbergh, quoted in "'Seinfeld’ for $500 million? ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for $1 billion? The streaming arms race has a big problem" (WaPo).
[Sternbergh] said the distinction was that the show was “innovative and hilarious and brilliantly constructed and spiky" but unlike “Friends” had “no hugging, no learning.”

The shows that are most repeatable — if Netflix’s pronouncements are accurate, “Friends” and “The Office” — do have likable characters you mainly just really want to hang out with, almost more than you’re interested in their ultimate fates. (That’s one reason “Big Bang” seems like it might, at least theoretically, fit into this group.) But likeability alone hardly seems enough to give you repeatability....
The top-rated comment over there does what so many highly rated WaPo comments do — makes it about Trump:
Bids for the 15 seasons of The Apprentice broke the $1.00 barrier and were zooming to a buck and a quarter the last time I tracked.
I bet a lot of people would love to stream old episodes of "The Apprentice." I would! I'd love to watch again knowing what I could not have known at the time, that this show will launch its weirdo star into the presidency, the most amazing event in United States history. But I don't think any of these new services — HBO Max, Apple TV+, Peacock... whatever — would want to hold out "The Apprentice" as their brand. It's completely offensive to half the potential audience. You might say, yeah, but you'd have a lock on the other half. But I don't think it works that way. These binge-watchable shows are about relaxing and getting away from the troubles of the world. "Seinfeld" might not work, because, as Sternbergh knows, the characters are unlovable, and you don't really want the experience of vicariously living with them.

But "Seinfeld" is about "nothing" — about lots of little things that don't really matter, like the position of the second button of a shirt. There's almost no serious social or political issue. Can you even remember one? Something about the need to regulate yogurt that claims to be sugar-free but isn't? That's the only one can remember.

It's easier to remember a "Friends" episode with some serious politics, "The One Where Ross Moves In," or, as I like to call it, "The One With Phoebe As Health Inspector Sidekick Vunda."

Phoebe is dating "Health Inspector Larry," who's on a real power trip, shutting down restaurants for minor violations, which Phoebe finds sexually exciting. You know, women and power! There's a lovely legalistic discussion of Health Code Section 5, the requirement that the chef wear the hat but only in the kitchen. Monica (the chef) is not wearing the hat, but she's also not in the kitchen.
Larry: "And where is your hat?"

Monica: "It's in the kitchen, I'll go get it"...

Phoebe: "You saw the hat in the kitchen and knew that she'd have to go in there hatless to get it. You can have your own health inspector detective show…. then I can be your sidekick Vunda."

Now, that's political material you can cuddle up with.

ADDED: The "Seinfeld" episode with the yogurt — "The Non-Fat Yogurt" — really does have some political content:

"During a recent meeting with local staff in San Francisco, I made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters..."

"... because sometimes men would claim to be women, and that HUD’s policy required the shelter to accept — without question — the word of whoever came in, regardless of what their manifested physical characteristics appeared to be. This made many of the women feel unsafe, and one of the groups described a situation to me in which 'big hairy men' would come in and have to be accepted into the women’s shelter even though it made the women in the facility very uncomfortable. My point was that we have to permit policies that take into consideration the rights of everybody, including those women — many of which have suffered at the hands of male domestic abusers — who believe there are men who might hurt them.... Our society is in danger when we pick one issue (such as gender identity) and say it does not matter how it impacts others because this one issue should override every other common-sense consideration. I think we have to look out for everyone, and we need to use our intellectual capabilities to find common good rather than attempting to always stir up controversy through identity politics."

Said Ben Carson, quoted in "As Democrats call for his resignation, HUD Secretary Ben Carson defends his controversial comments about transgender people" (WaPo). From the article:

Fighting for Iowa.

ADDED: There's a new Des Moines Register poll, reported here by CNN. Warren now has 22% of the likely Iowa caucusgoers. Biden has 20%.
Sen. Bernie Sanders' support has dipped to 11% in this poll, with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9% and Sen. Kamala Harris at 6%. Sens. Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar each land at 3%, while Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, investor Tom Steyer and businessman Andrew Yang each have the backing of 2% of likely caucusgoers. The poll marks Gabbard's third qualifying poll for inclusion in October's Democratic debates. The rest of the field each notched 1% or less....
Harris is exactly where she was in the previous Des Moines Register poll.
For many in the field, a summer spent campaigning in Iowa has done little to improve their chances there. Aside from Warren, no candidate has made meaningful gains in overall support...

A guy in a blue shirt.

"As part of my research in San Francisco, I spent 57 nights in 2014 and 2015 sleeping on the streets in encampments and more than 100 days following people..."

"... as they acquired food, shelter, benefits and money and interacted with the local welfare and justice systems. I also went on ride-alongs with police officers and sanitation crews. I experienced and witnessed interactions between police and homeless people nearly every day, and they were often devastating. Several times, I saw people refuse to go to the hospital to address serious medical issues, afraid that if they were admitted, their tents and belongings would be confiscated by city officials. The move-along orders and sweeps, aimed mainly at keeping people out of sight of other residents and business owners who would call 911, put services, food and toilets farther from reach; created conflicts and encouraged theft among those on the streets; and increased the vulnerability, particularly of women, to assault. Although the officers I observed saw their dispatches as a pointless shuffle — 'a big game of whack-a-mole,' as one described it — for the people they were policing, it was far from that: What the cops considered busywork was pushing people further into poverty and ossifying their homelessness."

From "Democrats hate Trump’s plan for homelessness. But it’s their plan, too/Liberal cities have treated homelessness like a crime for years" by Berkeley PhD candidate Chris Herring (WaPo).

From Trump's plan (released last Monday):
“Of course, policies intended solely to arrest or jail homeless people simply because they are homeless are inhumane and wrong. At the same time, when paired with effective services, policing may be an important tool to help move people off the street and into shelter or housing.” 
Herring opines:
Trump’s infusion of federal money and policy directives may merely expand this punitive approach. So the criticism by West Coast politicians of his attempt to “fix” homelessness in liberal cities is accurate: It won’t work, and we know that because their own punitive plans haven’t worked, either....

While Democratic politicians criminalize homelessness, they at least see its root causes in stagnating wages and a lack of government-funded affordable housing — diagnoses supported by research. Trump, on the other hand, blames high taxes, overregulation, poor public service delivery, mental illness and drug addiction. 
That is, the rhetoric is different — tapping left/right ideology — but the proffered solution is the same unworkable thing. Herring gives the Democrats a minimal pat on the head — "at least" they "see" what they always see.

WaPo's groping for bad news about Trump stumbles into the double vinc.

This is the top headline at WaPo right now, and I don't think it's even news. At best, it's a clumsy sketch for an opinion column:

I say it's not news because what is it saying just happened? The call, which we heard about days ago, is just evidence, lying there. The action verb is "points," but it's not as though the thing we already knew stood up and extended an index finger directing us to the complete abstraction of Trump's assessment of his own powers. And it's not as though WaPo just learned that Trump has this particular belief about himself. It doesn't even know that he does. It's just that the call suggests that Trump has this belief. The top news story of the day, according to The Washington Post, is a guess about what a piece of evidence might mean about how things look from the inside of the President's head.

But what points to a newspaper that has lost its bearings is the utter badness of writing "convinced" and then "invincibility."

The double vinc!