December 21, 2019

Running into winter.

1. It's the first day of winter. But it's not so cold. It's 40° as I write this. It was 27° as I began my morning ritual of running to see the sunrise, and that's 20 degrees warmer than the coldest day I've done this thing. So: Winter begins. But it is not a big hard block of cold that arrives and clonks down on you for 3 months. Nature serves up warm and cold. We've had some fall cold and snow, and we begin winter with some pleasing warmth. Every day will be different, and by staying around in the north through the winter, you get to see what winter really is — winter's true character, subtly varied.

2. Yesterday's photographs showed much more of the lake iced over. After a warm day yesterday, the ice had receded, but there was still enough of it to give texture to the surface of the water:


3. To the west, at the beach, it was more iced over. I wouldn't walk on it, but there were 2 people who had walked out on the ice and were carefully taking one more step and then one more step. I didn't stop to photograph their folly, and I presume they got away undunked, but it made me think of this video I saw yesterday on TikTok:

4. I got out to the end of the peninsula, and look:


5. Do you see it? Would I have seen it if another sunrise photographer had not gestured? See?

"The Steele dossier was central to obtaining the Page warrant, and the leaks about the dossier fanned two years of media theories about Russian collusion..."

"... that was one reason Mr. Mueller was appointed as special counsel. Mr. Mueller owed the public an explanation of how much of the dossier could be confirmed or repudiated. Instead he abdicated, and the mystery is why. Perhaps as a former FBI director, Mr. Mueller wanted to protect the bureau's reputation... A less generous explanation is that Mr. Mueller was more a figurehead as special counsel, and that the investigation was really run by his deputy Andrew Weissmann.... On the evidence in the Horowitz report, the special counsel team had to know the truth about the Steele dossier and false FBI claims to the FISA court, but they chose to look the other way."

From "Robert Mueller's Dossier Dodge," an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

And also in the Wall Street Journal from "FISA Court Owes Some Answers" by Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal:
Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer... blasted the FBI for misleading the court ...  The order depicts a court stunned to discover that the FBI failed in its "duty of candor," and angry it was duped. That's disingenuous. To buy it, you'd have to believe that not one of the court's 11 members -- all federal judges -- caught a whiff of this controversy until now. More importantly, you'd have to ignore that the court was directly informed of the FBI's abuses nearly two years ago....

[The court is] predictably pointing fingers at the FBI, but the court should itself account for its failure to provide more scrutiny, and its refusal to act when [Congressman Devin] Nunes first exposed the problem [in February 2018, when he was chair of the House Intelligence Committee]. The FBI is far from alone in this disgrace.

"Nike allegedly fostered a 'boys-club "jock mentality"' work culture that was hostile to people who do not fit gender stereotypes..."

"... which the complaint said is contrary to the progressive reputation the sporting goods company enjoys with the public. In its 'Be True' campaign, Nike hired transgender athletes to promote athletic wear like hoodies and sneakers. The suit alleged that placing the burden on Lyles to educate colleagues about gender identity caused tension between the engineer and coworkers, who allegedly called Lyles 'stupid' and 'unstable.' One colleague allegedly said, 'I know I'm not supposed to call you "she-male."' Another coworker allegedly chose not to interact with the plaintiff. Still another colleague allegedly said she would not use Lyles' gender pronouns for religious reasons. Despite reporting these and separate incidents to Nike and Mainz Brady, neither took action nor conducted an investigation into the matter, according to the suit...."

From "Transgender worker suing Nike for $1.1 million cites pronoun abuses" (NBC News). It sounds as though the lawsuit is based on a lot more than "pronoun abuses." Who wrote that headline?

The plaintiff is "against computer engineer Jazz Lyles, who identifies as transmasculine and prefers the pronouns they/them/their." Mainz Brady Group is "a staffing firm that hired workers for Nike."

Here's the face Nike presents to us, the customers, in that "Be True" campaign:

I don't know. Is that for some new drink?

I'm just trying to read "The Shady History of Mayor Pete’s Wine Cave—and the Ultra-Rich Couple That Owns It" at The Daily Beast and noticing a question posed in the sidebar: "Why Does Starbucks Melt Conservative Brains?"

I'm thinking they're concocting one of their flavors to squirt into coffee. Who wants caramel or toffee nut when you can have melted conservative brain? How many pumps?

The article is actually about the supposed phenomenon of "right-wingers... falling for hoaxes." It contains this embedded tweet, which I don't find to be an effective critique of right-wingers:

The real phenomenon here is: Articles must be written. Headlines must be clickable. Anger is the caffeine of the internet. The pot must be stirred. The frappaccino must be blended... and God knows what's in there — melted conservative brain, melted left-wing brain, melted everything.

That's how it looks from my outpost on the internet, where I don't get angry, and I don't melt. I'm blending my own frappuccino... with 3 pumps of cruel neutrality.

ADDED: So what's "shady" about the people who own the now-famous "wine cave"? The subheadline is "$100,000 checks, plum ambassadorships, and a $102 million settlement. The cave has been an oasis for dollar-eyed Dems long before Elizabeth Warren made it instantly infamous."

Dollar-eyed Dems — I guess those are the Democrats who are less left-wing than Elizabeth Warren. But candidates have to raise funds. Why trash a candidate for his ability to raise money? The Democrats are going to need a lot of money for the 2020 elections. Why would anyone who wants Democrats to win make fund raising into something dirty?

"We face the horror of Trump because the structure of American democracy gives disproportionate power to a declining demographic group passionately convinced of its right to rule."

"Trump, with his braying entitlement, his boastful ignorance, his sneering contempt for pluralism, is an avatar of a Republican Party desperate to return to the 1980s, or the 1950s, or maybe the 1910s. He can’t betray America if, to those who fetishize the 63 million, he embodies it.... Democrats didn’t want to impeach, but once they decided to, Trump’s insistence that his Electoral College victory grants him impunity didn’t work. For one night, democracy asserted itself....

Writes Michelle Goldberg in "The Tyranny of the 63 Million/Impeachment didn’t undermine democracy. It vindicated it" (NYT).

What happened to the reverence for the Framers and the Constitution? The Framers were not all for majoritarian democracy, exercised moment by moment. They came up with the Electoral College and presidential terms of 4 years.

Goldberg would validate day-to-day majoritarianism, but I suspect it's mainly because the people she likes are currently dominant in the most majoritarian part of the federal government. She is not taking into account the dangers and instability of majoritarianism.

(Look at the UK, with its Brexit, plunged into because they had a referendum and a surprise majority for the "wrong" side locked them into drastic change.)

The NYT "took only minutes — with assistance from publicly available information — ... to deanonymize location data and track the whereabouts of President Trump."

So we are told, in a piece titled "How to Track President Trump," in what feels to me like too much of a prod to readers to do it yourself.

Here's how the article is promoted on the front page of the NYT website (where the image is animated, giving the impression that you can follow the President around in real time if you learn this how-to advice):

Notice the title at the bottom left: "Why Is Trump Finding More Protection Than Nixon Did?" That's not an article about the personal, physical protection of the President from violence, but you don't know that until you click through to the article, and I see no good innocent reason to use the word "Protection" in that headline. Even if the potential to stimulate of violent ideation was purely accidental, it should have been noticed and changed. The "How to Track President Trump" image was already creepy (especially in the animated version, where the dot moves quickly across a GPS image).

The "Protection" article elaborates many differences between the facts relating to impeachment for the 2 Presidents.

The "How to Track" article raises an alarm that it's too easy to track the President (and anyone else). It ends with a plea for more regulation: "The sources who provided the trove of location information to Times Opinion did so to press for regulation and increased scrutiny of the location data market... So far, Washington has done virtually nothing to address the threats, and location data companies have every reason to keep refining their tracking, sucking up more data and selling it to the highest bidders."

In the last 7 days, President Trump's approval rating has improved by more than 2 percentage points.

In the Real Clear Politics average of many polls, Trump's approval number has moved from 43.9 to 44.5 and disapproval has moved 53.4 to 51.9. The gap between the 2 numbers has narrowed from 9.5 to 7.4, a 2.1 percentage point improvement in Trump's favor.

(Go to the link to display different time ranges on the graph.)

December 20, 2019

Last looks at today's sunrise.




1 minute after sunrise.


"When I was a kid — and my parents are hippies — we lived in San Francisco... and so I always thought of liberals as being people who were... open-minded... not wanting to silence people, letting people speak."

"They're all about just letting people be who they are, not trying to enforce, like, rigid patterns of behavior and thought on people. But that's not the case anymore..."

The part I'm quoting begins around 2:00, but I've left the beginning on, with some funny stuff about the similarity between Boris Johnson and Trump.

"J.K. Rowling spent Thursday once again demonstrating a perplexing inability to pipe down and enjoy her millions."

"This time, the Harry Potter author wasn’t retconning diversity into the series she finished writing over 12 years ago or disclosing that before indoor plumbing, the wizards of her universe used to just poop themselves and magically vanish the evidence away. Instead, Rowling tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a tax expert whose firing from a think tank over transphobic comments and subsequent court battle has generated a great deal of controversy in the U.K. In so doing, Rowling seemed to align herself with a virulently anti-trans group of otherwise liberal women, most often referred to as trans exclusionary radical feminists or TERFs."

From "After a Transphobic Tweet, J.K. Rowling Can No Longer Be Considered an LGBTQ Ally" Slate).

Here's the tweet that's provoking some people:

Here's what's linked at that "poop" reference:

In France, the "ex-boss of France Télécom" has been sent to prison for a year after his approach to restructuring the company was found to have led to 19 suicides and 12 attempted suicides.

BBC reports.
It is the first time that a French court has recognised "institutional harassment"...

[Didier] Lombard was trying to cut 22,000 jobs and retrain at least 10,000 workers. Some employees were transferred away from their families or left behind when offices were moved, or assigned demeaning jobs.

"I'll get them out one way or another, through the window or through the door," Lombard was quoted as telling senior managers in 2007. He accepted that the restructuring had upset employees, but rejected the idea that it had led to people taking their own lives.

"Christianity Today released an editorial stating that President Trump should be removed from office—and they invoked my father’s name (I suppose to try to bring legitimacy to their statements)..."

"... so I feel it is important for me to respond. Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece. In fact, he would be very disappointed. I have not previously shared who my father voted for in the past election, but because of this article, I feel it is necessary to share it now. My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump. He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation."

Writes Franklin Graham (on Facebook).

Wow. That was an own goal.

Franklin Graham (apparently) would not have talked about his father's support for Trump, but the attempt by editors at Christianity Today to put Billy Graham's name on their political opinion forced him to go public.

3 minutes before sunrise.


What happens when a Miss America contestant does a chemistry demonstration as her "talent" performance?

Answer: She wins!

Now, I think pouring those chemicals into flasks could be done by just about anyone. It's not like playing the piano, singing, and dancing — all of which take at least some talent and a lot of practice, but the woman in question, Camille Schrier "has two undergraduate science degrees and is studying a doctorate in pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University." She made a stage show out of real achievements that just happened not to be in the performing arts.

What if they held a debate and nobody noticed?

As I mentioned in an earlier post this morning, I turned off last night's debate in the middle of the second question. And glancing around at headlines, I'm not seeing anything. I checked Twitter:

Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 5.50.19 AM

At first, I thought: Nothing about the debate. But what's this about Sarah Huckabee Sanders? It turns out that's debate-related! Checking the hashtag, I see that Sanders tweeted:

Twitter blew up about that. Apparently, that was the best fuel available for the pyromaniacs of Twitter. To get up to speed on what that was about, here's Sanders's later tweet:

"My wife and I have a call list of somewhere between 20 and 100 people that we call at least every week or every month to tell them, 'I'm here,'" Biden said. "I give them my private phone number. They keep in touch with me. The little kid who said 'I-I-I can't talk. Wh-wh-what do I do?' I have scores of these young women and men who I keep in contact with."
It's not as though Sanders was mocking people who stutter. She was mocking Biden for speaking incomprehensibly. If you did have the background on Biden's experience with stuttering, you could get it in real time, and there's room to criticize Biden for being confusing or to say it brilliantly commanded attention and suckered some haters into mocking what sounded strange and accidentally looking like clods who lack empathy for persons with disability. Sanders walked right into his wily trap.

And that's the big subject from last night's debate.

But, you may be wondering, what's up with #BestPartOfMakingLove? I'll just select one:

"Queens Man Impeached."

From the article:
The entire Queens House delegation voted in favor of impeachment....

Trump’s old Jamaica Estates home, where he lived as an infant until he was four years old, went back on the market after it was sold to a Chinese investor and rented on Airbnb for $725 a night....

Trump’s parents’ graves are located at All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village. The cemetery was slapped with a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier this year for allegedly misappropriating funds.

"The lifespan of a holiday card is brief and brutal, at least in our home. It spends maybe a minute on its journey from mailbox to garbage bin...."

"Knowing this, I’ve never been able to bring myself to make and send them. Personalized cards can get pricey, and while each stamp is only 55 cents, did you know that 55 cents is more than half a dollar? I’d rather throw my money directly into a dumpster than spend it forcing my friends and relatives to do the same to a picture of me.... I’m sure you think I’m an insufferable Scrooge. 'Cards are pretty. Just prop them up on a ledge until New Year’s, like everyone else,' you’ll say.... I say I don’t have any open 'ledges' in my tiny apartment.... Are you on social media? If so, you’ve probably already seen your second cousin’s baby bump, heard about your high school frenemy’s MLM 'side hustle,' slogged through a zillion photos of every infant you know, and learned that your mom’s friend’s son got engaged at the Magic Kingdom.... Who needs a hard copy?"

From "Please Accept My Humble Plea to Never Send Me a Christmas Card Again/They will fill my trash faster than I can say 'This one’s from Aunt Trudy'" by Christina Cauterucci (Slate).

From the comments over there: "I used to sound exactly like the author, and it turned out to be the result of depression and anxiety."

Impeaching Trump and then not following through with what you did? What idiotic bumbling!

Don't start what you don't know how to finish. What a spectacle of incompetence!

And then they slink off for their Christmas vacation. Thanks for the tidings of comfort and joy.

I started watching the Democratic candidates' debate last night. The first question was about the impeachment: What should be done now, now that the House Democrats have voted to impeach without amassing and building support from a strong majority of Americans?

With the exception of Andrew Yang, they all blathered about how Trump should be impeached, as if the argument that hasn't worked yet could work if it were just repeated endlessly. It's not working, and you have no new ideas, no creativity, no thinking on your feet, and no restraint about seizing power, beginning to use it, and then not knowing how to complete the action that you began.

Yang spoke last. It looked as though he was going to speak second to last, before Tom Steyer, as moderator Judy Woodruff called "Mr. Yang," while looking straight at Tom Steyer. Yang had to call out "I'm over here." Woodruff kept speaking to Steyer, calling him "Mr. Yang," and Yang called out "Judy!" and then Judy realized her screwup and finally addressed the person she was looking at as "Mr. Steyer." I guess all businessmen look alike.

Anyway, what Yang said was (transcript): "What we have to do is we have to stop being obsessed over impeachment, which, unfortunately, strikes many Americans like a ball game where you know what the score is going to be, and actually start digging in and solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place."

That gave me a little hope that the debate could go somewhere, but the next question was about the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada and it immediately devolved into spewing factoids about how our economy is actually terrible or something. The subject of suicide got dragged in. Bernie was yelling. Something about Bernie's yelling makes me grab reflexively for the remote control. I can't take the perpetual anger and negativity, and I used to find Bernie Sanders to be charmingly lovable.

I turned the debate off in the middle of that second question. I heard myself say, "I'm not watching debates anymore." I wasn't just turning off that debate. I felt I was turning off all debates, that debates had become something a sensible, sensitive person ought to avoid.

I switched over to volleyball and enjoyed seeing the Badgers defeat Baylor in the Final Four. Now, I'm up at 3 this morning, scanning headlines over my coffee and crackers, and I balk at reading things like "Trump Impeachment Trial in Doubt as Democrats Weigh Withholding Articles/Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would wait to see what the trial in the Senate would look like before sending the two charges there" (the top story in the NYT). I'm afraid the NYT is going to try to con me into buying the notion that Nancy Pelosi has got this, that she's a wise strategist and an inspiration to all.

But I'll read it:

"No one has ever played a game like me. I did it my way.... It’s up, it’s down. It’s in your face. It’s not replicable. That’s how you win the million. Be a disrupter. Say things that people don’t see coming."

A perfect quote for the Trump era. But it wasn't Trump. It was Noura.

If you don't know who I'm talking about, you don't need me to warn you that this link is a spoiler for the 39th season of "Survivor."

For some people, chaos is a method. It's so disturbing to the other players.

ADDED: Noura also said, "If you follow the herd, you’ll never be heard. Be a peacock." But she mispoke/"mispoke" when she said "Be a peacock" and said, "Be a cock" before correcting it.

ALSO: One player got ejected from the game after he was accused once and then again of sexual harassment, and the show announced a new policy:

December 19, 2019

Sunrise came at 7:25 today.

I took most of my photographs about 5 minutes before then. It was a mellow orange and blue sky, with wispy contrails, and — on the lake — ice near the shore and coots massing a little way out:


The glassy surface to the right is ice:


Trump toys with the notion that Congressman John Dingell — who died recently — is in Hell!

"Everything! I gave him everything. That’s okay. I don’t want anything for it. I don’t need anything for anything. [His widow] calls me up, 'It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened, thank you so much, John would be so thrilled, he’s looking down, he’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.' I said that’s okay, don’t worry about it. Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe."

Up. Down. Who knows which way Heaven is? Maybe Heaven is down and Hell is up, and Trump was toying with the directional mysteries of the afterlife. But no sense denying it. He was goofing around with the idea that a dead person may be watching not from Heaven but from Hell.

The widow is Debbie Dingell, who now occupies her late husband's seat in Congress. Olivia Nuzzi writes in NY Magazine:

The modest boldness of voting "present" — Tulsi Gabbard made a TINY spectacle of herself.

It was an interesting move, but what did she hope to achieve... and will it work?

I'm reading The Daily Beast's report on Gabbard's conspicuous abstention. The reporter (Scott Bixby) characterizes the nonvote as an expression of the belief that the question of whether Trump should be impeached was "not worth answering." But Gabbard had something to say:
In a statement released after she voted “present” on both articles, Gabbard said that because she “could not in good conscience vote either yes or no... I am standing in the center and have decided to vote ‘Present.’”

Gabbard blamed both sides of the House for turning the impeachment inquiry into a “partisan endeavor,” blasting Trump’s defenders as having “abdicated their responsibility to exercise legitimate oversight,” and the president’s critics of using “extreme rhetoric.”

“My vote today is a vote for much needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country,” Gabbard concluded.
That strikes me as perfectly articulate and fully engaged. It's not that Trump didn't abuse his power but that the House Democrats have abused their power. That's her answer. She stands apart from all of them. She's better than everybody else. "Present" may sound lame, but to say both sides are wrong has meaning. Everything is so wrong that the woman of conscience abstains. That's the expression.

Trump frames the impeachment: "In reality/They're not after me/They're after you."

Facial Expression of the Year.

No laughing! No celebrating! Remember: We said somber, somber, somber. Somber, serious, solemn. Solemnity. Solemnity.

ADDED: The Pelosi discipline did not reach the hallways... or Twitter:

"DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS CARICATURE? And no, we are not kidding..."

"On Thursday, December 5, 2019, the victim was working as a caricature artist at the Festival of Lights event in downtown Riverside. Around 11:50 p.m., the suspect approached the victim and asked for a portrait of himself. The victim agreed and created the attached caricature of the suspect. Once the victim was finished, the suspect grabbed a money bag that belonged to the victim, which contained about $500 in cash. The suspect fled on foot leaving his portrait behind. This caricature is of the suspect, but of course, has exaggerated characteristics and features. The suspect was described as a Black make adult in his early 20’s, about 5’1” tall with an average build, black hair and mustache, and last seen wearing a blue and red jacket, white undershirt, black pants, and red hat."

A message on Facebook from the Riverside Police Department. (You'll have to look at the picture there.)

It's not your classic facial composite by a police artist — not this sort of thing:

That's D.B. Cooper. Seen him around?

It's a bit strange to see a street-artist caricature as the depiction of a suspect, with those "exaggerated characteristics and features." Some people might even feel offended to see a black person's features exaggerated like that. But how awful to extract that work out of an artist and then not pay, not care enough to want the portrait you sat for. Maybe the man was hurt to see how he was caricatured, and if he didn't want the drawing, he didn't want to pay for it, and if he didn't pay for it, he was already stealing, so perhaps he thought, might as well take all his money, and he deserves this, for drawing me like that. Art is dangerous. It's a miracle people want caricatures of themselves, but they do. That's why the artist had $500. And now the thief is humiliated by having his caricature displayed to the world. Chances are, he will be caught. That's quite a distinguishing feature, being only 5'1".

So... they impeached the President. Have you heard?

I didn't watch the big TV show last night. The one with the solemnity and professions of deep, deep belief in the Constitution.

I watched the other show, the Trump rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, the one with the festivity and booming good cheer. Trump was gabbing about the economy or reminiscing for the millionth time about the greatest night he ever had — the night he won the presidency back in 2016 — when the news of the vote arrived and word passed up to him that all the Republicans vote no, and he celebrated that. Always looking for the bright side, he is.

Was this the worst night he every had? It was pretty bad, but there he was, exposing himself in public, making a big show of not letting it get him down. His antagonists were back there in Washington, in the swamp, acting dreary and disapproving, but here he was, with his people — the people he's convinced he sees as his people — bubbling with energy.

They're impeaching me! Can you believe it! For nothing! I did nothing! For a phone call! A perfect phone call! These people are crazy! These people are sick!

And now what? The Democrats have their vote, but what can they do with it? Are they waiting until after Christmas to determine whether they're even going to send the case over to the Senate for trial? That way, We the People can brood over the darkness, as if that's what we seek in our winter holidays, or we can act like nothing even happened because we already know nothing can come of it, or we can futz over the legalisms of what to do if the House Democrats withhold the case or the Senate just acquits him anyway.

I guess we're supposed to have a lot of public discourse — commentary from pundits and jibber jabber from everybody — along with public opinion polls, and based on all that, the Democrats will determine what to do next and let us know. If we still care, we'll be challenged to believe that whatever it is they decide to do must be done because of the inexorable demands of the Constitution. If that decision synchs up neatly with the trend in the polls, it will be pure coincidence, we'll be asked to believe.

"The American ax fetish is everywhere — in designer ax brands, the rise of ax-throwing bars and the internet’s first ax emoji..."

"If you just want to hold one, try a social club like the one in Brooklyn that hosts urban wood-chopping workshops for 'desk job warriors' who crave timber skills and connection to the outdoors.... Axes have even begun to crop up as baby shower gifts, which explains the ax-themed birth announcements and baby milestone posts on Instagram (hatchet for scale).... 'I think owning an ax gives some of these people the idea, at least, that they’re connecting to their heritage, and to places outside of where they feel they may be trapped,' [said Craig Roost, of Council Tool Co.]... 'We call it ax therapy,' [said Michael Applegate, an axe thrower]. 'Get away from the 9-to-5, hit the pause button, throw some steel into some wood and feel a little bit better.' Some participate because it makes them feel powerful, confident, joyful. Others because it brings them calm. (Recent ax throwing literature ties the sport to female rage; see also, lumbersexuality.)"

From "Our Lives in the Time of Extremely Fancy Axes/What does the artisanal ax craze say about what we’re chopping?" (NYT).

There's a link on "female rage," and it goes to: "An Axe for the Frozen Sea/Learning to Throw Axes in 2018" by Megan Stielstra is (from September 2018 in the Believer Logger). Excerpt:
Rage is nothing new. But the policies and rhetoric of our current administration have kicked it screaming into the center of things. There are moments from this time that I will never un-see: children in cages under foil blankets.... A child-sized bulletproof backpack in polka dot pink, sold for a hundred and fourteen dollars on Amazon..... A photo of Merrick Garland.... Christine Blasey Ford saying that she remembers the stairwell, the bedroom, and “the uproarious laughter.”...

December 18, 2019

At the Indoor Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like — the impeachment vote, the Battle Creek rally, or anything else.

And please think of using The Althouse Portal to Amazon.

A federal judge has ruled that all the money Edward Snowden makes from his books and speeches must be handed over to the federal government.

WaPo reports.
Snowden has been charged with espionage since 2013, when he exposed top-secret surveillance documents in what may have been the biggest security breach in U.S. history. The former contractor sees himself as a whistleblower compelled to reveal sweeping surveillance programs hidden from the American people. But through two administrations, the government has viewed him as a traitor who escaped justice by fleeing to Russia....

“The contractual language of the Secrecy Agreements is unambiguous,” [the judge] wrote. “Snowden accepted employment and benefits conditioned upon prepublication review obligations.”

The New Yorker's most-liked-on-Instagram cartoons of 2019.

Collected here. I'll just present my favorite from the group (beating the others because of the clarity and precision of the drawing):

"I'm having kind of a pastel, and surreal, and gold, dreamy, beaded moment."

"Twenty-some years ago, I got a Guggenheim grant to write a memoir. I ended up using most of the money to buy a garden tractor."

"I failed for a number of reasons. I don’t feel interesting. I don’t trust my memories (or anyone’s memories) as reliable records of anything—and I have a fear of lying. Nor do I have much documentary material. I’ve never kept a diary or a journal, because I get spooked by addressing no one. When I write, it’s to connect. I am beset, too, by obsessively remembered thudding guilts and scalding shames. Small potatoes, as traumas go, but intensified by my aversion to facing them. Susan Sontag observed that when you have a disease people identify you with it. Fine by me! I could never sustain an expedient 'I' for more than a paragraph. (Do you imagine that writers speak 'as themselves'? No such selves exist.) Playing the Dying Man (Enter left. Exit trapdoor) gives me a persona. It’s a handy mask."

From "The Art of Dying/I always said that when my time came I’d want to go fast. But where’s the fun in that?" by Peter Schjeldahl. Schjeldahl is 77 and dying of lung cancer. This is quite a long essay — about death — but there's a highly enjoyable breeziness about it.

I chose that passage in part because it had a tractor and, then, potatoes. And because I identified with the feeling of being "beset... by obsessively remembered thudding guilts and scalding shames" and that reminded me of what I was reading about Adam Driver earlier today, that he had "a tendency to try to make things better or drive myself and the other people around me crazy with the things I wanted to change or I wish I could change." I'd said, "I do think there's a great range in how minutely people examine and reexamine their failings and imagined failings."

"The principle that senators are not jurors in the traditional sense was well established at the outset of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton."

"Tasked with delivering an opening statement for the House managers, who present the House’s case to the Senate, Rep. Robert Barr, R-Ga., reminded the senators of Clinton’s tendency to 'nitpick' over details or 'parse a specific word or phrase of testimony.' To Barr, the conclusion was obvious: 'We urge you, the distinguished jurors in this case, not to be fooled.' That was the moment Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, had been waiting for. 'Mr. Chief Justice,' he said, addressing William Rehnquist, who was presiding over the trial, 'I object to the use and the continued use of the word "jurors" when referring to the Senate.'... The chief justice sustained the objection. 'The Senate is not simply a jury,' he ruled. 'It is a court in this case.' Rehnquist thus admonished the House managers 'to refrain from referring to the Senators as jurors.' For the balance of the trial, they were called 'triers of law and fact.'... In an ordinary trial, the jury’s role is generally limited to fact finding, while the judge determines the scope and application of the law. In an impeachment trial, however, the Senate itself has the 'sole power' to decide every issue. Recognizing the Senate’s all-encompassing responsibility, and his own limited role, Chief Justice Rehnquist referred to himself throughout the proceeding only as 'the chair.'"

Writes lawprof Steven Lubet in (The National Interest).



Let me repeat my position on the relationship between impeachment and polls: There should be a supermajority to impeach — two thirds, the same as the Constitution requires for the Senate vote. It's an extraordinary step, and it should not be taken without overwhelming support from the people. It's not another way to take a vote on the President. I voted against Trump in 2016, but I accept the choice we made as a group on that formal occasion.

"If Democrats understood how entertaining impeachment is..."

Is Trump doing a rally today?

I ask, reading this:

The answer is yes!

He'll be in Battle Creek, Michigan, streaming to you live at 8 p.m. ET, Fox News reports.

At Twitter juxtaposition... is that "drink some water" advice pure chance?

"He would be thinking about nothing but. It would be a horror show for him. It would be an absolute embarrassment."

Tangled up in red, white, and blue.

"Trump supporters displayed a giant flag as the 2 groups jostled for position. Some of the pro-impeachment group got tangled up with that flag and the people holding it. And one woman wound up on the ground. There were no punches thrown, and cooler heads soon prevailed" — says the voiceover in video at "Pro impeachment rally in La Crosse met with counter rally of Trump supporters" (WXOW, La Crosse).

La Crosse is the home base of Ron Kind, who, according to yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is the only Wisconsin congressman who had not yet declared how he would vote on impeachment.
Kind is a centrist Democrat who represents a western Wisconsin district narrowly carried by Trump in 2016. Of the 31 Democrats across the country who hold seats carried by Trump, almost all have nevertheless announced plans to support impeachment. Kind is the last of these Democrats to announce how he will vote, according to some tallies kept by national media outlets....
ADDED: From Kind's Wikipedia page:
[In 2009, Kind] refused to join in the effort... to have Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) step down amid an ethics probe involving Rangel's taxes. “We're all ultimately human and none of us are perfect and we're all prone to mistakes from time to time,” Kind had explained. “If that becomes that new standard - that any mistake is subject to dismissal or losing their position - then that's going to be a very tough standard for each and every member to have to live up to."
There's a good sentiment to contemplate today... as the House rushes to impeach Trump for saying something in a phone call that was arguably imperfect.

Have you thought much about how American speech and writing will evolve in the next 100 years?

I'm reading the comments to my post "Trump's 6-page letter is — and he intended this — one of the prominent documents in the annals of American history." In the post, I talk about the way Trump addresses his letter to the people of the future, 100 years from now. The commenter, Freder Frederson, writes:
The letter is the ranting of an unstable old man. One hundred years from now the question will be "[What] kind of people elected this raving lunatic president?"
I don't think he's even tried to imagine how the American written language will evolve over the course of the next 100 years — with all the intense and manipulative usage raging in politics and in social and mainstream media.

I suspect that my use of the word "evolve" will set off Trump haters to characterize him as lagging  evolutionarily. He's an ape, an orange ape, an orangutan!

But I think Trump is more of an example of what lies ahead. His language is an early manifestation of evolutionary change. And he's an especially influential user of the language. Look around. More and more Americans are talking like him, including his critics!

The people 100 years from now will probably speak and write much more like him than the people of today. And if that is where we're going, they are likely to read Trump's letter as a quite ordinary expression of a President's position and to read the criticism of his letter (if it survives to be read at all) as trivial banter.

IN THE COMMENTS: Unknown said:
I am reminded of L. Sprague de Camp's "Language For Time Travellers", partially excerpted here.
For some reason that reminded me of my all-time favorite "Star Trek" thing:

That's from the episode "Omega Glory," where there are characters reciting the Preamble to the Constitution, but you can't make out the words make out the words, because they "said them so badly":
CLOUD: When you would not say the holy words, of the Ee'd Plebnista, I doubted you.
KIRK: I did not recognize those words, you said them so badly, Without meaning.
ELDER: No! No! Only the eyes of a chief may see the Ee'd Plebnista.

The 7th Approximation.

It sounds like a Bob Dylan song title... I must be thinking of "4th Time Around" and "Queen Jane Approximately"...  but I'm reading "There are three soil pits in Bill’s Woods...."
As humble as they may appear, the pits have a rather grand history. In 1960, they were a significant part of a field trip for the 6th World Congress of Soil Science, held in Madison. During that meeting, soil scientists from the United States introduced a soil classification system, known as the 7th Approximation, that eventually served as the basis for our current Soil Taxonomy and for many soil classification systems around the world.

Trump's 6-page letter is — and he intended this — one of the prominent documents in the annals of American history.

I wanted to write that out precisely because I believe it is true and it is — for millions of people — enraging — enraging and flummoxing.

The letter ends by stepping away from the present and imagining the people 100 years from now, looking back and seeing things from their point of view:
There is far too much that needs to be done to improve the lives of our citizens. It is time for you and the highly partisan Democrats in Congress to immediately cease this impeachment fantasy and get back to work for the American People. While I have no expectation that you will do so, I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.

One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again.
People of the Future, I am speaking to you.

That is, of course, a way to speak to people of the present. Conjure up the people of the future who are watching what we do now. Don't want them looking at us with horror or contempt, do we? The anti-Trumpers are doing the same thing. Join us or the People of the Future are condemning you.

(Greta Thunberg has soared to power and fame by convincingly embodying the People of the Future. She is Them, and she is scorning and excoriating you.)

So, we're hearing lots of statements using this rhetorical device of the People of the Future. Trump's contribution to the People of the Future genre is distinctive for 2 reasons:

1. It's not just one more statement in the voluminous back and forth about impeachment. It's a written compendium of everything the President of the United States wants to say on the subject of this important historical event. It is long in that it's 6 pages. (Anti-Trumpers have enough to be able to disparage it as rambling.) But it's also short. (The Mueller Report is 448 pages.) It will surely be preserved and read and studied and reflected upon far into the future. It is clearly a historical document, unlike virtually all the other statements bandied about in — to use Trump's term — "this impeachment fantasy."

2. The letter refrains from purporting to say what the People of the Future think. It speaks to them. It's modest in that regard: I'm thinking of you, and I want to talk to you, to "put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record" for you. He wants you "to understand... and learn." There's a mellow, humble tone to that. It should be distinguished from People of the Future rhetoric that conjures up a crowd shouting: We hate you! You were horribly destructive and blind!

ADDED: The People of the Future genre is vast. Think of The Ghost of Christmas Future:

ALSO: I wanted to list some of the ephemeral writings diminishing Trump's contribution to the annals of American history: "It is hard to capture how bizarre and frightening Trump’s letter to Pelosi is" (Jennifer Rubin in WaPo), "Trump's most expansive defense against impeachment is just as lame and dishonest as his tweets" (LA Times), "Trump's wild letter to Pelosi is filled with false and misleading claims" (CNN), "President Sends Six-Page Letter of Randomly Capitalized Ranting to Speaker of the House" (Slate).

Contemplating the sunrise run....

What do Lou Reed, Bill O'Reilly, and Adam Driver have in common?

Answer: They all walked out on Terry Gross — the magnificent interviewer of NPR's "Fresh Air."

Info gleaned from "Adam Driver skips out on his NPR interview after host Terry Gross tries to make him listen to a clip from his new Netflix film Marriage Story" (Daily Mail). Gross was on notice that Driver was sensitive about listening to himself. In previous interview with her, he refused to listen to a clip, and this dialogue ensued:
'I don’t want to hear the bad acting that probably was happening during that clip,' he joked.

'Does it throw you off to hear yourself?' she inquired.

'Yeah, no, I’ve watched myself or listened to myself before, then always hate it,' he replied. 'And then wish I could change it, but you can’t. And I think I have, like, a tendency to try to make things better or drive myself and the other people around me crazy with the things I wanted to change or I wish I could change.'
Each of us only knows our own inner life. Some of us more than others have a sense of what Driver is attempting to explain there. I do think there's a great range in how minutely people examine and reexamine their failings and imagined failings. I'm going to guess that Driver's acting is great because he's so uncomfortable with himself all the time that it produces a fascinating on-screen spectacle. In an interview, he doesn't have a script, he's supposed to be producing his own words, and the weird uncomfortableness is not part of a movie, but really him. I can believe that experience, inside his head, is intolerable. Those who feel confident, who roll along unconcerned with imperfections, and who love the sound of their own voice probably don't realize how much they are enjoying freedom from the condition Driver describes.

Why did Lou Reed walk out? According to Terry Gross:
For years I had wanted to interview Lou Reed. When people would ask, “who’s the person you most want to interview?” My answer would be “Lou Reed.”

I finally got to interview him (this was a few years ago) and he ended the interview, in about six minutes or so, or less, because everything I was asking him, he didn’t want to talk about. He said, “I’m sorry this isn’t working” and he walked out.
Why did Bill O'Reilly walk out?

"The House on Tuesday approved a $1.4 trillion spending package... acting in a burst of bipartisanship just a day before Democrats plan to impeach President Trump...."

"The package passed in two pieces, one focused on GOP national security priorities including the Pentagon, the other on domestic agencies dear to Democrats such as the Department of Health and Human Services.... The year-end legislative frenzy, which came ahead of the divisive impeachment vote in the House, showed how far both parties have moved since last year, when a spending fight led to a 35-day government shutdown. This time, both parties reverted to a hallowed congressional tradition of embracing an enormous year-end spending bill. Each side made concessions to secure long-sought funding.... The spending binge generated predictable finger-pointing, with Republicans defending their demands for increased Pentagon budgets while accusing Democrats of profligacy in funding domestic agencies. Democrats argued the reverse, contending that more money for health and education programs was justified and blaming Republicans for making defense spending the price to pay. Few if any voices could be heard defending Congress’ overall addiction to growing the federal budget, and with it the nation’s debt, which now exceeds $23 trillion."

WaPo reports.

December 17, 2019

The sunrise narrative arc.

1. At 7:19, 5 minutes before actual sunrise, there was that pink glow on the underside of the clouds that I've learned goes away very quickly. I stopped so I wouldn't miss it this time:


2. And, 2 minutes later, I stopped again:


3. I like the way the steam from the heating plant augments the clouds:

"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the government Tuesday to explain what the FBI will do to ensure the bureau does not mislead judges again..."

"... when applying for surveillance orders like those used in the 2016 investigation of the Trump campaign. The four-page order from Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, the presiding judge of the FISC, takes the FBI to task for 17 omissions and errors contained in applications to the court to secretly monitor the electronic communications of Carter Page, a former Trump adviser.... 'When FBI personnel misled (the Justice Department) in the ways described above, they equally misled the FISC,' Collyer wrote. 'The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the (inspector general) report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor' expected of FISC filings. Collyer is the judge who signed the very first surveillance application for Page sought by the FBI in October 2016.... 'The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable,' Collyer wrote."

WaPo reports.

"You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme — yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America's founding..."

"... and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build. Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying 'I pray for the President,' when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!"

Writes President Trump in a 6-page letter to Nancy Pelosi.

ADDED: He uses the phrase "Trump Derangement Syndrome" in his letter:
Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016... and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat. You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it.... So you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes. You view democracy as your enemy!
Your Speakership and your party are held hostage by your most deranged and radical representatives of the far left. Each one of you members lives in fear of a socialist primary challenger — this is what is driving impeachment. Look at Congressman Nadler's challenger. Look at yourself and others. Do not take our country down with your party.

"The president is not a lawyer. He’s not law-trained. But the truth is, the judiciary is a reactive institution. We don’t have a program, we don’t have an agenda. We react to what’s out there."

Said Ruth Bader Ginsburg last night, when she was asked what she thought about something Trump tweeted a couple weeks ago:

Ginsburg's answer is open to interpretation, and it's really not at all insulting to Trump. Here's how I read it: Because Trump is not a lawyer, he's free to float ideas about things, and he doesn't purport to know the answer, only to ask a question. Of course, his own lawyers could answer the question for him. Can we go to Supreme Court to stop the impeachment?

The answer is no, but Ginsburg isn't going to come right out and say it, and in all likelihood, the President himself knew the answer was no when he tweeted the question. The question is political rhetoric, and the reason to ask it is to make people feel that the House Democrats are behaving badly, violating the law, and it should be stopped. The President is very good at expressing feelings about what is fair and what is abusive, and such things can find their way into the law. I am sure Ginsburg has deep thoughts about that, far beyond what she'll say when asked a question by a journalist.

Now, you might ask, but if she says, "We react to what’s out there," does that mean she reacts to the President's howling about unfairness and abuse? It primarily means, I would say, that the courts don't do anything at all unless a case is filed, and if it is, and if it isn't filtered out by doctrines of jurisdiction and justiciability, the decision may be influenced by the public discourse about what the law should be. But certainly the Court can't reach out and become involved in a dispute ("We don’t have a program, we don’t have an agenda"). A case must be filed. And Trump — even though he's not a lawyer — reflects that proper understanding of the courts. He didn't say, Hey, Court, why don't you stop this travesty?! He said, "Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?"

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday rejected calls from his Democratic counterpart to subpoena new witnesses in a Senate trial of President Trump, calling it 'a strange request at this juncture.'"

"McConnell was responding to a letter from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) seeking testimony from senior administration officials, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who declined to appear in House impeachment proceedings."

WaPo reports the unsurprising news.

Justice Gorsuch on "Fox and Friends."

I'm putting that up before watching, and I presume the entire thing will be on a high level of general principle. I think he has a book to promote. I will watch and update this post if there's anything to point out. I noticed this because I saw "Neil Gorsuch" trending on Twitter, where I see comments like:
Justice Neil Gorsuch is on "Fox & Friends" right now. The Q: How is it appropriate for a Supreme Court justice to try to goose sales of his three-month-old book by chatting on one of the most partisan shows on TV?
That's from Brian Stelter.

Everytime Neil Gorsuch trends remember Merrick Garland. Everyime Brett Kavanaugh trends remember Dr. Christine Ford. The Supreme Court is tainted and compromised. Let's hope Justice Roberts puts the integrity of the judiciary over party and ideology but...don't hold your breath.
From Wajahat "Abu Khadija" Ali.

ADDED: Oh! My embedded clip did not play the whole interview. I'll see if I can find it somewhere.

AND: Here's the article at Fox News with some transcript:

To what extent can the House Democrats control what the Senate Republicans do about impeachment?

Or, to phrase it like Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post: "How far can the House go to stop a sham trial?"

The Senate doesn't control the House; Why should the House control the Senate? The Constitution gives the House "the sole Power of Impeachment" and the Senate "the sole Power to try all Impeachments." That's the text of the document the House Democrats have been making such a show of solemnly honoring. Are they going to switch now to creative hijinks? How far can they go?!

Go as far as you can!!! Rubin eggs them on. Forget how you deafened yourself to the accusations Republicans made about the "sham impeachment." Time steal their rhetoric and call it a "sham trial." Oh, you do have to be careful. This is politics and there are winners and losers. Who's worse off if the people get the idea "sham"? Will the Democrats' "sham trial" framing enhance the Republicans' "sham impeachment" framing? Republicans say a sham impeachment, like a frivolous lawsuit, needs to be met with anti-sham tools and dismissed summarily, or the shamsters will file one frivolous impeachment after another and clog up the Senate. Frivolous lawsuits don't go to trial in the courts. The courts, carrying out their duty to decide cases, have devised methods to save themselves from being ruined by excessive and inappropriate work that comes in the form of a case.

Rubin sets out 5 ideas:

"Buttigieg, like Barack Obama before him, speaks in orderly paragraphs that seem to exist primarily to advertise a calm, deliberate temperament."

"But as his campaign has become an unexpected obstacle to the left’s favored candidates, these deliberate paragraphs have become reliable rage objects. Excoriating Buttigieg’s comments, a Vice headline cried that 'Buttigieg’s Version of America Is Basically a Caste System.' Days later, addressing students at Grinnell College, Buttigieg was assailed for his higher-education plan and accused of 'spreading lies.' Activists unfurled banners reading 'Wall Street Pete' and 'Youth to Pete: You will kill us.' ('"You will kill us"?' Buttigieg said. 'That’s really mean.')... The Buttigieg backlash... is most intense within his own cohort of young, mostly white, college-educated liberals, who are torn between a mounting discomfort with their own privilege and an instinctive comfort with their own class.... Buttigieg... calls to mind... a type of young person who flooded eagerly into politics in the early Obama years: the emotive, irony-deficient millennial, shaped by generational traumas (the financial crisis, Iraq and Afghanistan) but not embittered or radicalized by them, excited by abstractions like hope and change.... [The new left that evolved out of Obama's base is] in direct conflict with Mayor Pete, one of their own who seems not to have evolved much at all.... The gravitational center of the rage against Buttigieg has been Very Online, as has the maximalism of its tone — its insistence that Buttigieg, by thriving within the American architecture of capitalism and privilege, must personally embody all its worst qualities. On left Twitter, it is axiomatic that Buttigieg is not merely a relentlessly ambitious striver but an actual 'sociopath.'"

From "How the Internet Came to Loathe Pete Buttigieg" by Charles Homans (in the NYT).

ADDED: The top-rated comment at the NYT is from Rick Shenkman:
I love the fact that young people are impatient with the status quo, but seriously, do they believe that the possession of a good idea is tantamount to seeing it implemented? As a presidential historian I have been studying politics for decades. One thing is clear. Democrats implement big changes when they rack up large majorities in both houses of Congress and control the presidency. Only then. As no one expects the Democrats to win in a landslide in 2020 it’s delusional to think that we’re going to see changes on the order of the New Freedom, New Deal or Great Society anytime soon.

Mayor Pete realizes this. Beating up on him for being a realist is crazy.

"He told me to 'kill it' in a serious monotone voice. I asked 'What? What did you just say?' He looked at me and repeated in a deliberate manner 'kill it.'"

That's an allegation about what Mike Bloomberg said to a pregnant employee who is quoted in "Bloomberg's sexist remarks fostered company culture that degraded women, lawsuits allege/Bloomberg allegedly told employee who had just announced pregnancy to 'kill it.'"

Did he really say that? He denied it, under oath and also while connected to a "lie detector."

But for the purpose of answering this question of mine assume he did or forget about Bloomberg and just answer my question as a hypothetical:

From the point of view of a person who genuinely and deeply believes that abortion is murder, which statement, made to a pregnant woman, is less odious: "Kill it" or "You should have an abortion"?

I'm thinking "Kill it" is less odious (again: from the point of view of someone who genuinely and deeply believes that abortion is murder). To say "Kill it" is to recognize that abortion is murder. Both "Kill it" and "You should have an abortion" are stated as imperatives and have the speaker telling the woman what to do, but perhaps the woman asked "What should I do?"

To say "Kill it" is perhaps a way to influence the woman to think about the unborn child as a real person whom abortion will kill. What's her next line? "I don't want to kill it. I just want to not be pregnant. It's not a good time for me now. I just want to have an abortion...." The line "Kill it" might ring in her head.

Now, in blandly conventional human relations in the workplace, I think if a pregnant employee asks the boss what she should do, he'd be wise to say something like, "This is a decision for you to make, and I will support whatever decision you make."

But I don't want you to think that I believe that if Bloomberg said "Kill it" it was because he wanted to stimulate anti-abortion moral thinking in the woman. I think that is less likely than: 1. He didn't say it, 2. He thought it was a funny, snappy way to give the advice he wanted to give (have the abortion), or 3. He knew the woman wanted to be pregnant and was doing a kind of outlandish teasing that's possible when you know you're among people who are entirely comfortable with abortion.

Can the candidate have his fundraiser in a beautiful place?

Can the candidate have his fundraiser in a beautiful place? free polls

December 16, 2019

"Arise, fair sun..."

1. At 7:18, a yellow orb comes into view...

2. What light through yon cloud cover breaks? It is the East, and Meade is the sun! I thought I would have no sun in my sunrise photograph, but Meade has importantly and profoundly worn a sun-costume on his globelike head. I only discovered his head as a sun substitute when I got home. If I'd noticed at the time, I'd have repositioned myself to frame the sun-head right where the sun was rising behind those clouds.

3. Something I did notice at the time — with Meade's helpful, flappy gesturing — were 2 bald eagles. I said "You have good eyesight," but then I got closer to one. It was huge! Quite seeable. Meade also had hearing, unlike me, with my AirPodded music, and when I wondered if I could recognize the call of a bald eagle, he reminded me that I knew it through "The Colbert Report":

"I have complete confidence in Mr. Wray, and I know that the F.B.I. is not a broken institution. It is a professional agency worthy of respect and support. The derision and aspersions are dangerous and unwarranted."

Writes William Webster in "I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A./There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love/The rule of law is the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants" (NYT).

William Webster was director of the F.B.I. from 1978-1987 and director of the C.I.A. from 1987-1991.

He is 95 years old.

Is Obama talking to Joe? He says: "If you look at the world and look at the problems it's usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way."

That's from a BBC article with a title that stresses his flattery of women: "Barack Obama: Women are better leaders than men." But I'm noticing the sharp nudge at Joe Biden (and Bernie Sanders):
Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you're better than us. I'm absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything... living standards and outcomes.... If you look at the world and look at the problems it's usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way.... It is important for political leaders to try and remind themselves that you are there to do a job, but you are not there for life, you are not there in order to prop up your own sense of self importance or your own power.
As for the stuff about women, I have heard that all my life, and I have always regarded it as manipulative and insincere. I consider it part of the subordination of women. And I don't think it helps women gain positions of power to talk about us this way. I think it exacerbates the suspicion that women won't handle power effectively and rationally.

The Supreme Court rejected a case about whether a city could make camping and sleeping in public a crime.

SCOTUSblog reports.
A group of homeless and formerly homeless Boise residents challenged the law, arguing that it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment when it is used as the basis for criminal penalties against homeless people who are sleeping outside because they cannot find space in a shelter. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with the challengers, holding that the city cannot impose criminal penalties on homeless residents “for lacking the means to live out the universal and unavoidable consequences of being human.”...

The creation of a de facto constitutional right,” the city argued, “to live on sidewalks and in parks will cripple the ability of more than 1,600 municipalities in the Ninth Circuit to maintain the health and safety of their communities.”

"The buck stops with everybody."

Said Donald Trump, in #8 on a list of what CNN calls "Donald Trump's 199 wildest lines of 2019" (collected by CNN). I was reading them out loud, here at Meadhouse, until I noticed that they didn't stop at 10 or even 25... or even 100. I see (now) that the number is in the headline — 199. What an entertaining/infuriating President we have. CNN had to go to 199 just for one year and just to get to the "wildest" lines.

It's subjective. What makes a line wild? Is "The buck stops with everybody" wild or is it stable genius?

I see (because I looked it up) that Trump was talking about the government shutdown last January, and combative journalists were trying to get him to accept the classic Truman slogan "The buck stops here." He said, "The buck stops with everybody." Everyone's responsible.

Truman's slogan is a play on the expression "passing the buck":
The expression is said to have originated from poker in which a marker or counter (such as a knife with a buckhorn handle during the American Frontier era) was used to indicate the person whose turn it was to deal. If the player did not wish to deal he could pass the responsibility by passing the "buck," as the counter came to be called, to the next player.
Trump's play on Truman's play is not passing the buck. It's a rejection of the idea that the buck can be passed. All are always responsible. Trump's slogan is not wild. It's a sound observation, cleverly stated, aptly deflecting a reporter who must have thought the old Truman line would work to pin blame on Trump. Trump always fights. He's never going to concede to a reporter you've got me this time.

Here's Jimmy Carter delivering a dismal lecture to America while sitting behind Truman's "The buck stops here" sign:

Watch that if you can. Carter is the opposite of Trump. He speaks of limitations and how were going to have to accept pain. It's such a downer. You feel the hope drain out of you. We're running out of energy! Indeed, we were.

"If you don’t consider FBI lying, concealment of evidence, and manipulation of documents in order to spy on a U.S. citizen in the middle of a presidential campaign to be a major scandal, what is?"

"But none of this is aberrational: the FBI still has its headquarters in a building named after J. Edgar Hoover – who constantly blackmailed elected officials with dossiers and tried to blackmail Martin Luther King into killing himself – because that’s what these security state agencies are. They are out-of-control, virtually unlimited police state factions that lie, abuse their spying and law enforcement powers, and subvert democracy and civic and political freedoms as a matter of course. In this case, no rational person should allow standard partisan bickering to distort or hide this severe FBI corruption. The IG Report leaves no doubt about it. It’s brimming with proof of FBI subterfuge and deceit, all in service of persuading a FISA court of something that was not true: that U.S. citizen and former Trump campaign official Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government and therefore needed to have his communications surveilled...."

Writes Glenn Greenwald at "The Inspector General’s Report on 2016 FBI Spying Reveals a Scandal of Historic Magnitude: Not Only for the FBI but Also the U.S. Media" (Intercept). Much more at the link.