February 8, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

That's today's sunrise, photographed at 7:11 — 5 minutes after the actual sunrise time. It was too overcast to see the sun though. Ice fishing was well under way.

Biden's new anti-Buttigieg ad — with just a soupçon of race-baiting and homophobia.

ADDED: Without first reading my post, my son John wrote his own blog post making the same observation that led me to write this post. Under the heading "Is there a homophobic undertone to Joe Biden's attack on Pete Buttigieg?," John wrote:
Now that Pete Buttigieg has been victorious (yes, victorious) over fourth-place Joe Biden in Iowa, and New Hampshire polls show Buttigieg continuing to gain momentum heading into the first primary, Biden has released an attack ad that paints Buttigieg as a mayor with misplaced priorities.

Biden's ad says Buttigieg "installed decorative lights under bridges" to create "colorfully illuminated rivers," and he "la[id] out decorative brick" on sidewalks.

So Biden is repeatedly trying to associate the word "decorative" with Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate with a serious chance at becoming president.

The repetition of that word — "decorative" — could not have been an accident.

One of the oldest stereotypes about gay men is that they're interested in interior decorating.

Yes, I know: someone's going to say I'm reading too much into it, oversensitive, etc. I know that response.

I also know that political attack ads are designed to operate on a subtle and sometimes subliminal level.
ALSO AT JOHN'S POST: The music playing when the ad talks about Buttigieg sounds an awful lot like "The Sugar Plum Fairy."

Strangely, watching the video before the text, I saw it as...

... watch the video before seeing what I thought...

... I saw it as anti-abortion.

UPDATE: The short TikTok video that was embedded in this tweet no longer displays. Did the TikTok or the person who put up the video take it down? Why? I suspect that the person who made the video didn't expect to get so much attention and wasn't comfortable with it. I didn't think it was a person actually getting an abortion and smiling in the end. I thought it was a comedy sketch, making fun of parents revealing the gender of the unborn. In the video, the woman acts like she's going to reveal the baby's sex — I'm saying "sex" because how is it "gender"? — and the text says something like "It's a" and a paper is opened up to say "borted" — It's a/borted. I don't know if the person who made the video intended for it to be in the #ShoutYourAbortion genre. The reason I thought it felt anti-abortion — rather than #ShoutYourAbortion (that is, pro-abortion) — is that laughing at abortion  feels cruel. The pro-abortion position should focus on the woman and her autonomy, not on the unborn whose life is lost.

UPDATE 2: I see now that the person who made the video has set her TikTok account to private.

"President Trump claimed on Saturday that a viral photo of his tan lines, which prompted #OrangeFace to trend on Twitter, was photoshopped...."

The Daily Beast reports.

According to @photowhitehouse, the source of the photo, "This picture was never photoshopped, but used the Apple smartphone’s photo app to adjust the color of the picture":

ADDED: TMZ says:
DT was captured on camera by a guy named William Moon -- a self-described White House correspondent and photographer, who doesn't appear to be part of the official press corps. or White House staff, but clearly has access of some sort to snap shots like these....

In Moon's photo, the outer edge of Trump's mug seems to be in stark contrast to the rest of his face ... showing a color distinction between pale and what looks to be orange or tan. Getty Images has the same pic, though ... and it's not nearly as saturated as this.

Now, it's possible Moon caught the Prez at a different angle with different lighting than the Getty photog did ... perhaps the photo isn't edited at all. Doesn't seem likely, however.
This is the big controversy of the day, apparently, so things are looking rosy for Donald J. Trump.

Trump takes a stand on the Pete Rose issue.

"When the New York Times starts imitating a satirical character..."

Andrew Doyle's "satirical character" is Titania McGrath. I've listened to Doyle's entire conversation with Joe Rogan and recommend it: here.

"In 1988, he stunned Joyce scholars... by revealing that he had destroyed about a thousand letters he had received from his Aunt Lucia, James Joyce’s daughter..."

"... who spent decades in mental institutions; even more, he said, he had discarded correspondence that she had received from the Irish expatriate playwright Samuel Beckett, Joyce’s onetime secretary, with whom Lucia had fallen in love. 'No one was going to set their eyes on them and re-psychoanalyze my poor aunt,” [Stephen] Joyce told The New York Times that year. 'She went through enough of that when she was alive.... I didn’t want to have greedy little eyes and greedy little fingers going over them. My aunt may have been many things, but to my knowledge she was not a writer.... Where do you draw the line? Do you have any right to privacy?... What are people going to do to stop me?'... His refusals to grant access to the Joyce archive could seem arbitrary. He rejected the request of one author whose work was being published by Purdue University because he deemed the nickname of Purdue’s sports teams, the Boilermakers, to be vulgar."

From "Stephen Joyce Dies at 87; Guarded Grandfather’s Literary Legacy/The last direct descendant of the author of 'Ulysses' and 'Finnegans Wake' was a fierce protector of James Joyce’s estate, to the frustration of scholars" (NYT).

Steve Bannon keeps smiling and gets enough of his message out as Bill Maher steps on absolutely everything he says.

I like how Maher trashed Trump for calling people "evil" and then ended the interview by calling Bannon "evil." And then Maher walked over to the table with a panel of guests and where everyone freely denounced Bannon. One of the panelists asserted that what Bannon had just said was "maniacal." So desperate.

This gets the "civility bullshit" tag because Maher argued against Trump's rough speech, then turned around and used the same kind of harsh speech himself and with the panelists who mirrored his ideology.

"And does one really need to point out why it’s so rich of those who argue for states’ rights to argue against site-specific architecture, stylistically conceived to suit America’s diverse cultures..."

"... and instead favor obedience to a mandate from Washington? Or to explain that disagreements about architectural style speak to a healthy, democratic society in action? After all, there is no single style of architecture that represents nationhood — or that does not, and should not, provoke debate. The executive order borrows language from the 'Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture' that Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in 1962 when the future senator was working in Kennedy’s Labor Department. Moynihan believed that federal architecture 'must provide visual testimony to the dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability of the American government.' The new proposal also refers to dignity, enterprise, vigor and stability. But it undoes the key principles on which, as Moynihan made clear, those goals depend — that design must 'flow from the architectural profession to the government, and not vice versa,' because expertise matters, and that 'an official style must be avoided.'"

From "MAGA War on Architectural Diversity Weaponizes Greek Columns/The Trump administration may impose a classical style on new federal buildings, a proposal aimed at the heart of modernism and diversity" by the NYT architecture critic Michael Kimmelman.

"Believing America’s generals were planning an imminent coup d’état, Mr. Bean abandoned his thriving career and moved his family to Australia in 1970."

"He became a disciple of the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and wrote a book about his psychosexual theories, 'Me and the Orgone.' (The orgone was a pseudoscientific theory about a universal life force.) When the book appeared in 1971, Mr. Bean returned to America with his wife and four children and for years led a nomadic life as an aging hippie and 'househusband,' casting off material possessions in a quest for self-realization. 'We were so sure we didn’t want to be possessed by things and so intent on not having them that we gave away almost everything we owned,' he wrote in a 1977 Op-Ed in The Times. 'We entered what I now call our late hippie stage. We tossed the kids into the van, bummed around the country, sponging on our friends and putting the kids in school wherever we happened to light.' In his dropout years, as he recalled in a memoir, he experimented with psychedelic drugs, communal sex and other excursions into self-discovery. His peripatetic family collected driftwood and books, and at night read aloud to one another."

From "Orson Bean, Free-Spirited Actor of Stage and Screen, Dies at 91/The television, stage and film comedian starred on Broadway, was blacklisted as a suspected Communist, founded a progressive school and moved to Australia before returning to the U.S." (NYT).

If you remember Orson Bean, it is probably not for his hippie phase. As the NYT puts it, he is "remembered for early panel shows, which, in contrast to the culture of greed, noise and kitsch of modern game shows, were low key, relatively witty and sophisticated." You know, stuff like this:

He also acted in plenty of of movies and TV shows, notably the "Mr. Bevis" episode in the first season of "Twilight Zone." Clip:

Another distinction: Orson Bean was the father-in-law of Andrew Breitbart.

ADDED: Bean did not die of old age. He was struck by a car as he crossed the street in Los Angeles.

And this is interesting, from 2014, 3 years after the death of Andrew Breitbart, "Orson Bean on God, America, and Yesterday's Hollywood that Embraced Both" (Breitbard):
Bean said Breitbart resonated with so many people because he was fighting to right that culture, which he said is decaying, with optimism and joy. And he did it in an unconventionally fresh and unique way that warranted Breitbart’s name to be a trademarked, one-of-a-kind brand. Bean said it was Breitbart’s larger-than-life spirit that makes people come up to him to this day with tears in their eyes, saying, “you’re Andrew Breitbart’s father-in-law!”

Breitbart, who once was a fierce liberal, may never have been a conservative or built the foundation for his media empire had he not seen a Rush Limbaugh book in Bean’s library.

“Take it home and read it, Andrew,” Bean recalled telling his son-in-law.

And the rest is history.

Even if Sanders can win the presidency, "nothing will happen, and he’ll just be sitting up there screaming in the microphone about the revolution."

From an interview at Vox — "'We’re losing our damn minds': James Carville unloads on the Democratic Party/Why the longtime Democratic strategist is 'scared to death' of the 2020 election" —answering the question "Are we really sure Sanders can’t win?," James Carville says:
Who the hell knows? But here’s what I do know: Sanders might get 280 electoral votes and win the presidency and maybe we keep the House. But there’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party defining it for the public. Eighteen percent of the country elects more than half of our senators. That’s the deal, fair or not.

So long as [Mitch] McConnell runs the Senate, it’s game over. There’s no chance we’ll change the courts, and nothing will happen, and he’ll just be sitting up there screaming in the microphone about the revolution.

The purpose of a political party is to acquire power. All right? Without power, nothing matters.
That is, it isn't even worth winning with Sanders. Another way of looking at this is: The Democrats need to refocus their strategy on winning the Senate. That's a reachable goal, and the fight for the presidency is overshadowing and endangering it.

"Democrats... want the race narrative to be 1619, America to be eternally damned as a foundationally racist country. Trump’s position, in contrast..."

"... raises everyone up: 'From the pilgrims to our Founders, from the soldiers at Valley Forge to the marchers at Selma, and from President Lincoln to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Americans have always rejected limits on our children’s future.' Trump wants to remind black Americans that this inheritance of striving and overcoming belongs to them, too.... It was clear from the choice of guests [at the State of the Union] that President Trump is going all out for the black vote, with personal stories of courage, success, and hopes answered. The first five featured guests were African American. The Democrats scowled through it all.... President Trump co-opted and promoted initiatives Democrats once claimed, making them his own: incarceration reform, family leave for men and women, infrastructure, high-speed internet for all communities, stamping out human trafficking...."

From "The Political Genius Behind Trump’s SOTU Theatrics" by Karin McQuillan (American Greatness).

In that light, look at this montage, cutting in Pelosi's ripping of the speech right after each of the the featured African American guests (which Pelosi unsuccessfully tried to get Twitter to censor):

"I don't have anything to say about the debate. Maybe I should just move on."

I say out loud after poking around on all sorts of articles — a fact check here or there, assorted quotes but not a complete transcript, the old "winners and losers" roundups, and I noticed I was drifting off into articles about finding an apartment in NYC and how to travel together as a couple and Kim Kardashian's regret that her shapewear doesn't have a "peehole." I rewatched this TikTok baby 10 times.

There's my son John's live-blog from last night. He continued long after I fell asleep, but ended in a way that confirmed the wisdom of taking the sleep route out of the tiresome ordeal:
Haven't been updating this post in a while, and I can just repeat what I said in the last debate: "I've been zoning out on the rather dry discussion of who's for what trade deals."

Stephanopoulos prompts each candidate to give a canned statement on child poverty. This debate hasn't had any drama for a while now.

And it's over. Not the most exciting debate, and I'd be hard-pressed to say anyone "won" or "lost" tonight.
I'll just say one thing I remember. I wanted to get hold of the transcript to do this more accurately, but memory alone will have to suffice for now. I remember Tom Steyer saying — on 2 different things — that they need to focus on how Donald Trump is and will be arguing for himself and have real and specific arguments to push him back. The 2 things are the economy and appealing to black people.

I don't know if Steyer or any of the others had any specific arguments, so to me Steyer's warning worked mostly as a prediction that all of these candidates are doomed. Maybe that's why I withdrew.

The economy is going great, and Trump is pointing that out and saying you've got to keep me. I know what the Democrats tend to say to this prompt: You people at the bottom need to feel resentful that others are doing better than you are, and we're going to switch everything around somehow.

As for black people, Trump offers specific programs aimed at improving conditions for black people and impugns the Democrats for mismanagement of American cities and for taking the black vote for granted. In response, the Democrats have taken the black vote for granted.

"China orders Wuhan to round up ALL suspected coronavirus patients and put them in quarantine camps as Beijing warns officials who run away from the 'war' will be 'nailed to the pillar of historical shame.'"

The Daily Mail reports.
[The country's Vice Premier Sun Chunlan] demanded four types of people in Wuhan be put into mandatory isolation in quarantine stations: confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever....

'There must be a 24-hour shift pattern. During the wartime condition, there must be no deserters, otherwise they will be forever nailed onto the pillar of historical shame', Ms Sun said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The Communist leader instructed the Wuhan government to send workers to every household to take the temperature of all family members in order to block the source of the outbreak.

February 7, 2020

At the Friday Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want... except the debate. Go one post down for the debate discussion.

The photo was taken at 7:04, 3 minutes before the actual sunrise time.

Are you up for a 3-hour Democratic candidates debate tonight?

Seems crazy. But we’re going to at least start to watch. The show’s on at 7 Central. Feel free to heckle and cheer in the comments.

ADDED: My son John is live-blogging.

Microphone riles snake; terrified reporter soldiers on.

"I spent a great deal of time as a child on a tiny, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. The island had no roads, houses or electricity..."

"... just a storm-blown, windy wilderness of sea birds and heather. My family and I would be dropped off like castaways on the island by a local boatman for the summer holidays and picked up again weeks later. While we were staying on the island, we had no way of contacting the outside world. Because there wasn’t any electricity, the house was lit by candlelight.... In the evenings, my father told me and my siblings tales of the Vikings who invaded the island 1,200 years before, of the quarrelsome ancient British tribes who fought each other and of dragons who were supposed to live in the caves in the cliffs of the island. That was when I first started writing stories about dragons and Vikings, way back when I was nine years old, by candlelight on that little island. These were the stories that later turned into 'How to Train Your Dragon.'"

From "To Save the Earth, We Should Teach Children the Magic of Nature/We must give children the opportunity to interact with the wilderness, so that they learn to preserve the natural world" by Cressida Cowell (NYT).

A photo essay of people living through the quarantine in Wuhan.

This is the NYT at its best.

Thanks to Chris Buckley for venturing in and humanizing the situation in Wuhan. I appreciate the courage and the optimism.

Photo segment shown only to copy the text and to encourage you to click through.

"Got this thing directly addressed to me the mail from Ukraine... no idea what it is. Please help!"

"I don’t have additional info besides that it was sent to me from someone I do not know... so confused how someone from Ukraine got my address and first and last name."

Writes someone in a subreddit I like, "What is this thing?" Here's the photo:

Somebody in the comments says, "I really wish someone would send me random kick-ass stuff like this."

Then, amazingly, as so often happens in this subreddit, someone comes a long and identifies the thing. It's this.

And, for more of the greatness of Reddit (another subreddit I like)... here's a dog retrieving its toy:

"So it is entirely possible that, following South Carolina, Sanders will have won three or all four of the contests."

"If nobody has emerged as a viable alternative by then, Michael Bloomberg’s campaign will be stepping in.... [I]f Bloomberg is the last Democrat standing against Sanders, he may well attract substantial support from Democratic elected officials and put up a strong fight. Still, he would face enormous opposition from the left.... At that point, the victory scenario would involve a long, bloody struggle all the way to the convention, with the Sanders movement claiming at every step of the way that the party is rigging the race against them, culminating in a convention where his enraged supporters will again try to shout down the proceedings. Unless one of the non-Bloombergs can somehow get off the mat and defeat Sanders, this is probably the best-case scenario for liberals at this point. It seems more probable that Sanders crushes the field and brings his historically unique suite of liabilities to the ticket. At the moment, the party is melting down over a vote-reporting fiasco in Iowa. In time, we liberals may look back at this moment as a high point."

From "If You Think It’s Bad for Mainstream Democrats Now, Just Wait" by Jonathan Chait (in NY Magazine).

"Unless one of the non-Bloombergs can somehow get off the mat..." How is Buttigieg on the mat? He's surging in the New Hampshire polls. Bernie has been expected to win New Hampshire for so long that he needs a clear win not to lose momentum to Buttigieg.

Have the Democrats decided to act panicked? I'm just speculating that they are desperate to stop Bernie and that acting panicked is a way to motivate people to get out there and vote for Buttigieg. Quick! Before it's too late!

But Biden isn't backing off and letting Pete take the lead. Here he is 2 days ago disparaging Pete:

"I do believe it's a risk — to be just straight up with you — for this party to nominate someone who's never held a office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana." (You have to listen to that 15-second clip so you can hear how he says "Indiana." My Indiana-born husband reacted strongly to what felt to him condescension and disdain.)

ADDED: The freeze frame on that video makes it look like Buttigieg is wearing a strawberry earring. No disparagement intended! Just an observation made necessary by the clarity of the image.

This morning, at 7:14.



Actual sunrise time was 7:07.

"For too long architectural elites and bureaucrats have derided the idea of beauty, blatantly ignored public opinions on style, and have quietly spent taxpayer money constructing ugly, expensive, and inefficient buildings."

"This executive order gives voice to the 99 percent — the ordinary American people who do not like what our government has been building," wrote Marion Smith, chairman of the National Civic Art Society, in a text quoted in "Draft Executive Order Would Give Trump a New Target: Modern Design/The proposed order, called 'Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again'" (NYT).

Also quoted there is architecture professor Roger K. Lewis: "At the most fundamental level it’s a complete constraint on freedom of expression.... This notion that the White House has expertise or knowledge or understanding of architecture and design sufficient to allow them to mandate that all federal buildings be classically styled is absurd."

The top-rated comment:
I have no doubt that this initiative like many coming out of this White House has at its' heart the desire to promote the ideals of white supremacy. The elevation of "classical" style over others can have no other real intention. It is not practical or affordable to build this way anymore. This is all about white nostalgia for the good old days. What's next? Control of the NEA to endow only "classical" art? Ridding the Smithsonian of all non western artifacts? Banning jazz? This is all on the way I promise.
White supremacy! As if black people are responsible for those soul-deadening modern federal building.

Here's a picture of the J. Edgar Hoover Building to temper your thoughts:

Another commenter at the NYT says: "The condemnation of Modern as degenerate is chilling. Where have we heard this before?" On that topic, please take 2 hours to watch the great documentary "The Architecture of Doom."

Note to self: Always put AOC material in a separate post.

That lady gets all the attention.

Lesson finally learned reading comments here. She was only a secondary part of a side note in a footnote....

"'Oh yeah,' Perez should step down as party chairman, said Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). 'We’re a party in chaos.'"

From "Iowa blowback scorches Tom Perez" (Politico).
For much of the week, the Iowa Democratic Party and its chair Troy Price have taken the brunt of the blame for the failed reporting app and the fiasco it created for Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The spectacle of the beleaguered and abandoned state party leader has frustrated a number of his fellow state party chairs, leading some of them to conclude Perez has sought to distance himself from the crisis and scapegoat Price in the process.

Do you think Trump will be better off not having to run against a woman this time?

That's my first question, upon reading "BUCHANAN: Could be down to 3 white guys by end of month..." (at Drudge). The link goes to a column by Patrick Buchanan at WND.*
If Klobuchar runs fifth in Iowa and third, fourth or fifth in New Hampshire, in what state does she win her first primary? And as her fundraising has never matched that of the front-runners, where does she get the money to match Sanders or Bloomberg on Super Tuesday, now just three weeks off?...

As for Warren, in her battle with Sanders to emerge as the champion of the progressive wing of the party, her third-place finish in Iowa, and her expected third-place finish in New Hampshire, at best, would seem to settle that issue for this election.... I[n] what state does Elizabeth Warren beat her progressive rival?...
It's bad for the Democrats to lose their female candidates, but that does seem to be where things are going. They've already lost all their black candidates (at least the ones strong enough to have gotten on the debate stage (there's still Deval Patrick)). So it will, in all likelihood, be a white male against Trump. Is that better for him? I could argue both ways, so I give the question to you for now.

* WND? Is that a disreputable website? I see it also has: "James Woods sprung from 'Twitter jail,' gets instantly political/Sarcastically asks: 'How's Jeffrey Epstein doing?'"
After being held captive in "Twitter jail" for nearly a year, essentially locked out of his own social-media account and precluded from posting any messages, actor James Woods triumphantly returned to the site Thursday night....
His first tweet:

If you were following Woods before his banishment, check to see if you still are. I was and am.

ADDED: From Wikipedia: "WorldNetDaily (WND) is an American news and opinion website and online news aggregator which has been described as 'fringe' and far right as well as politically conservative. The website is known for promoting falsehoods and conspiracy theories."

"Oh, I liked Dukakis. I like Buttigieg. I've finally lived long enough to realize I don't want a President I like."

Said Meade, just now. We'd been talking about the impeachment.

I'd read out an NPR headline, "Trump Impeachment Process Was 'Absolutely Worth It,' Schiff Says" — because I thought it was funny — so the subject was how the Democratic Party reacts after it focuses hate on a Republican President.

Meade and I lived through the Nixon hate fest in the 1970s. What did the Democratic Party give us after the hated Nixon withdrew from the scene? We got Jimmy Carter as a President, a notorious failure, and then 2 candidates who failed to win the presidency — Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.

I said "I liked Dukakis," and I really did at the time. I offered that Buttigieg reminds me of Dukakis. Something about his manner and his voice and style of speech. All of that was made to order for my taste.

Meade said: "Oh, I liked Dukakis. I like Buttigieg. I've finally lived long enough to realize I don't want a President I like."

If you're thinking of trying to top Meade's line by saying "I want a President who likes me," Meade already said that too, but I think "I don't want a President I like" is the more important concept here.

ADDED: From a PBS webpage:

The "other guy" was President Ronald Reagan. Neither Meade nor I liked Ronald Reagan. [CORRECTION: The other guy was George H.W. Bush. Meade and I did not like him either. Meade still doesn't like him: "He wasn't good enough."]

Michael Dukakis was Governor of Massachusetts. He was succeeded in office by William Weld, who's running for President right now, in the Republican primaries, challenging Donald Trump. The next elected Governor of Massachusetts was none other than Mitt Romney. After Mitt Romney came Deval Patrick, and he's running in the Democratic Party primaries right now.

Somehow, Governors of Massachusetts keep thinking they should be our President. There's a funny old NYT column about that. Hang on a second.

AND: How many newspaper columns stick in your mind for 30+ years? Here it is, "Well, if It Isn't the Governor of Massachusetts" by Veronica Geng (Sept. 22, 1988).
My boyfriend, Ed, has authorized me to tell this personal story about us, because it bears on the Presidential campaign. A few years ago I developed an infatuation with someone else, and then it fizzled out - mainly because of the shrewd way Ed handled the situation. He just began referring to this other guy, whose name he knew perfectly well, as ''the Governor of Massachusetts'' (which he wasn't). I'd come home on cloud nine, and Ed would say, ''So, did you have fun with the Governor of Massachusetts?'' This would deflate me....

February 6, 2020

At the Thursday Night Cafe...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

Today's sunrise photo, looking west, was taken at 7:18. The actual sunrise time was 7:09, but no sun came into view, and I found the most interesting colors and shapes in the western sky. The ice fishermen were a bonus.

Are dogs wearing enough clothes?

Trump is about to give his victory speech.

You can watch it live at NPR, here.

ADDED: A very enjoyable speech. Spontaneous. Some rally-style, good-humored nastiness at the beginning — "evil corrupt... dirty cops... it was all bullshit" — but most of it was team building. Early on he said, "You develop friends in battle," and it turned into his thanking and celebrating the individual friends, not just for what they did helping him win his fight, but also for how they won their own way into politics, and what their wonderful future could be. He talked about how they looked — who looks like he was sent over from "central casting" and who doesn't wear a suit jacket because he's so rightly proud of his wrestler's physique. My favorite part was about Steve Scalise, the man with a wife who, unlike many wives, did not want her husband to die. I love the description of Scalise back on the baseball diamond after his brush with death, fielding a hard shot though "He had no range!" The particularity of it all was just plain nice. Didn't it make them all love being on his team, ready to go and go into the fall elections and to spring into action as soon as the Democrats throw the next "bullshit" at them?

AND: The word that kept coming up as he complimented them one by one was: "warrior." They were warriors — "friends in battle." What great spirit he found and amplified in that room!

ADDED: I see on Twitter that Trump antagonists are jumping on him for saying:
"I want to apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony, rotted deal by some very evil and sick people. And Ivanka is here, and my sons, and my whole family. And that includes Barron."
Because... if he said "my whole family," why did he need to add "And that includes Barron"? These people. Always looking for something to spin.

I mean, I noticed "And that includes Barron." It was odd, but the man was speaking ad lib for over an hour. One thing was worded oddly. I think it was obvious that what he meant was he wanted to express love for his family after all they had to endure, and especially for Barron, the youngest one.

Here's an Onion headline that somebody I know to be intelligent saw on Facebook and mistook for a real news headline.

"Rush Limbaugh Admits Presidential Medal Of Freedom Less Of An Honor Knowing That Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou Also Received It."

"New High of 90% of Americans Satisfied With Personal Life."

Gallup reports its new "Mood of the Nation" poll.

65% are "very satisfied" — also a new high.

Republicans are happier than Democrats — 93% compared to 86%.

The happiest age group is 18-34 — at 92%.

"We are glad it’s done. If we could choose, this thing wouldn’t have happened. It would have been building the relationship rather than trying to save it from something very political, very loud."

"It’s a really strange thing. It all happened so quickly.... It definitely was stressful.... It was literally 24/7 of reading the news, analyzing the news, talking to people, and strategic sessions in the middle of the night.... Correct me if I’m wrong, but the vast majority of leaks that happened were anti-Trump.... We will come out—and we have come out—stronger from this whole situation."

Said Igor Novikov, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, quoted at The Daily Beast.

"Who gains from Biden’s decline?... Pete Buttigieg’s chances [of winning a majority of pledged delegates] are ... up, to 6 percent from 4 percent before..."

"... but even after getting most of the credit for winning Iowa in the model... they haven’t improved by as much as you think. That’s because... Buttigieg still has his work cut out for him in building a broader coalition; it’s going to require a big bounce in states and among demographic groups where the former mayor is not currently strong. With that said, Buttigieg is potentially quite competitive in New Hampshire, where our model gives him a 20 percent chance of winning, and that could give him a further boost. Buttigieg has a 9 percent chance of winning the plurality of pledged delegates. The gap between his plurality and the majority odds reflects how he might be poised to benefit from the field remaining divided between several candidates."

Nate Silver analyzes.

I was surprised to see this graphic at FiveThirtyEight:

Why does Pete Buttigieg only have 1 chance in 40 and why is his line going down when he just (I think) won the Iowa caucuses? Why did Warren's chance improve?

Matt Gaetz is filing an ethics complaint against Nancy Pelosi for tearing up her paper copy of Trump's State of the Union speech.

When a politician says he's "profoundly religious" and that explains what he is doing, do we shrink from the question of sincerity?

I'm asking the general question, which I've thought about a lot (having taught a course on Religion and the Constitution for more than a decade). But you know the prompt for my question, Mitt Romney's assertion:
"I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential... I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong."
When religion is used like this, does it silence critics? Does it cheapen religion? If you're skeptical and think he's parading religion, being sanctimonious, do you hold your tongue, because you worry that you'll look bad or offend some people if you question the sincerity of a profession of religion? Religion is a strong force, and it can motivate political decisions, but if your political argument is a religious argument, what can be said? Does the politician successfully put himself on the high ground, deserving admiration and fending off debate?

Now, Romney is different from a politician who says his religion gives him the answer to a particular question. He's only using religion to emphasize that he takes the oath seriously. Presumably, he means that for him, violating this oath would wreck his afterlife, so he needs to make this decision exceedingly carefully and without any element of hoping for worldly benefits. He then goes on to analyze the law and the facts and the arguments and to present his decision as based on what the oath said, and it's not as if the oath required him to vote the way God dictates.
[M]y promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?
That last question is very strange! It implies that a highly principled atheist would not follow the process demanded in the oath but would necessarily yield to the pressure of partisan politics. Only religion is enough to keep people on an honest, dutiful path?

That's a rather offensive thing to say about nonbelievers, yet you can see why he said it. He said it to vouch for his own profession of profound religiosity: Only a profoundly religious person would do X, I am doing X, therefore, I am profoundly religious.

Can we question the sincerity? Or must we stand back in awe of the great man? God help us if the answer depends entirely on whether you wanted to see Donald Trump continue as President or be out on his ass.

James Carville — glasses on crooked, foaming at the mouth — rages about Democrats veering far left and losing touch with American voters.

"This party needs to wake up and make sure that we talk about things are relevant to people. We need to go back to 2018 where we had good, diverse, strong candidates that had real connections to the community and talked about real things.... We’re like talking about people voting from jail cells.... We’re talking about not having a border. I mean, come on, people. Everyday people are out there struggling. We’re trying to get votes in Northern Wisconsin and Western Pennsylvania."

February 5, 2020

At the False Sunrise Café...


... go ahead and tell the truth.

The coronavirus just down the street from me.

"According to a news release from Public Health Madison & Dane County, the individual recently returned from China and went immediately from the airport to the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. The release said they were tested for coronavirus and have been isolated at home since then and are doing 'well.'" (Channel 3000).

This guy does a hilarious Trump imitation.

I'll put it after the jump because it's TikTok, which seems to cause trouble with some browsers.

"He was born Issur Danielovitch on Dec. 9, 1916... 'the son of illiterate Russian Jewish immigrants in the WASP town of Amsterdam,' one of seven children, six of them sisters."

"By the time he began attending school, the family name had been changed to Demsky and Issur had become Isadore, promptly earning him the nickname Izzy. The town’s mills did not hire Jews, so his father, Herschel (known as Harry), became a ragman, a collector and seller of discarded goods. 'Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder... And I was the ragman’s son.' A powerful man who drank heavily and got into fights, the elder Demsky was often an absentee father, letting his family fend for itself. Money for food was desperately short much of the time, and young Izzy learned that survival meant hard work.... [T]he summer after he graduated from college... he decided to change his name legally to something he thought more befitting an actor than Isadore Demsky. (When he chose Douglas, he wrote, 'I didn’t realize what a Scottish name I was taking.')"

From "Kirk Douglas, a Star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dies at 103/His rugged good looks and muscular intensity made him a commanding presence in films like 'Lust for Life,' 'Spartacus' and 'Paths of Glory'" (NYT).

And so... Trump emerges from the shadow of impeachment....

ADDED: The verdict is in. The judgment is final. Not guilty on both counts.

"The Iowa Democratic Party released another batch of caucus results on Wednesday afternoon, covering 75% of Iowa's precincts."

"Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg remained the leader of the race, with 26.9% of state delegates. He's closely trailed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 25.2%. They're followed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 18.2%, former Vice President Joe Biden at 15.6% and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 12.5%.... 'We took a gut punch in Iowa,' Biden told a crowd Wednesday morning in Somersworth, New Hampshire...."

CNN reports.

"August Strindberg once claimed in his profound, deranged seriousness that the stars in the sky were peepholes in a wall."

I'm reading that in "My Struggle: Book 1" by Karl Ove Knausgaard (p. 205).

Knausgaard goes on to other things, but I want the original Strindberg. I find this on the internet...
But that's from a play — "The Butcher's Apron" — by Charles Tidler in which Strindberg is a character.

I can't find the original Strindberg. When I read the sentence in the Knausgaard book, I imagined the stars as peepholes for those watching us from the other side of the sky.

But in that Tidler play, it's the other way around, and we on this side can go up to a peephole and look through to the other side. Maybe I was influenced by "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes":

And here's the post from a few days ago where we were talking about peepholes, including the idea of reversing a peephole.

"It is the last decision I wanted to take. The personal consequences, the political consequences that fall on me as a result of that are going to be extraordinary."

"Yeah, it's going to get very lonely. And again, the consequences are significant. ... There has not been a morning since this process began that I slept beyond 4 a.m."

Said Mitt Romney, reflecting on what it will mean for him, now that he's decided to vote to convict President Trump.

ADDED: Quick! Mitt! Change parties. Become a Democrat, and go for the nomination for President this year.

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can keep the conversation going.

That glowing round shape is not the sun. I took that picture at 7:08, 2 minutes before the "actual" sunrise time (7:10).

If that had been the sun, I would have had to hide it behind a tree to keep it from blowing out the camera, as I did here, in a photo taken at 7:14:


"Pete Buttigieg is a liberal who makes people think he’s a moderate. Amid the 'Mayo Pete' and 'Pete is CIA' jeers of his left-wing critics, it can be easy to forget..."

"... what Buttigieg’s actual policy agenda is. That agenda would easily be the most progressive by any candidate for the general election in decades.... ... [H]e’s endorsed and promoted: A $15-an-hour minimum wage/A universal child allowance of at least $2,000 per child, and quadrupling of the earned income tax credit for single adults/'Affordable, universal full-day child care and pre-K for all children from infancy to age 5'/A path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants/A Medicare buy-in open to all meant to 'create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All'/A cap on all student loan payments as a share of income, forgiven in full after 20 years/... DC/Puerto Rico statehood, banning gerrymandering, ending the Electoral College, and ending the filibuster/Expanding and reforming the Supreme Court to curb partisan rulings/Sectoral union bargaining where agreements apply to whole industries, not just individual companies/A carbon tax rebated to taxpayers in cash, plus a quadrupling of research and development funding for clean energy...  Sanders and Warren have performed a valuable service by making the objectively quite ambitious agenda of Buttigieg appear, by comparison, incredibly mild, a centrist approach to expanding the safety net. A perception of relative moderation will most likely help, not hurt, the eventual nominee.... Sanders would terrify and turn out Trump’s base, whereas Buttigieg likely would not."

From "Pete Buttigieg is more electable than Bernie Sanders — and more progressive than you think/The fourth in a Vox series making the best case for each of the top Democratic contenders" (Vox).

"Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who faces a tough reelection race in Alabama, will vote to convict President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment."

Politico reports.
“Senators are elected to make tough choices. We are required to study the facts of each issue before us and exercise our independent judgment in keeping with the oaths we take. The gravity of this moment, the seriousness of the charges, and the implications for future presidencies and Congresses all contributed to the difficulty with which I have arrived at my decision," Jones said in a statement.
I assume that's it for Doug Jones as a Senator from Alabama.

ADDED: I guess he was already expecting to lose his seat, which he took over when Jeff Sessions got up for a moment to go be Attorney General. Jeff's ready to sit down again, so it was time to get up and out of there anyway.

Quite aside from this closeup, she was easy to spot in the crowd, and I noticed her clapping and standing a lot. It really made me like her!

Remember that time Maureen Dowd needed to kick Rush Limbaugh, right after he announced he had advanced lung cancer, and she didn't spell his name right, because it was so important to remind us of the worst thing he ever said?

ADDED: This reminds me of the recent cancel-culture attack on Joe Rogan. You've got someone who talks for hours and hours and is good because he's free-wheeling and not too self-censoring. That makes for good listening. It's how to get popular on the radio or in podcasting. But it also means that there's a huge set of material that your antagonists can sift through, and the worst thing you ever said will be used as if it was most representative of the kind of person you are.

From a different perspective, it also reminds me of the reaction to the death of Kobe Bryant. Dowd is like the few people who brought up the old rape charge against Bryant. In this perspective, Dowd is not the canceller but the one who could be targeted for cancellation because of her lack of empathy for the person who has met with terrible misfortune. But she doesn't need to worry too much about that, because Rush Limbaugh is on the right and because his misfortune is his alone — there's no sweet daughter simultaneously struck by this lung cancer.

Equal justice for ball.

I do still have the power to make them talk about me — me, #1 me, I am the one with the last word... I destroy you, symbolically, ripping paper... paper covers rock... I mean, ripped paper overwhelms read paper... Destruction trumps Trump's glorious dream of American greatness... Take that, paper... Bleh!... I hate you, damned speech...

Who's the least electable of the Democratic candidates?

When I thought of this question, I had a clear choice, but the first person I tested the question on put my choice near the end of a list of Democratic presidential choices in order beginning with the least electable. My choice included thinking of how this person would be attacked after getting the nomination. I think the Democrats have been refraining from attacking each other, so there's room to fantasize about the success of candidates you prefer, but I was picturing how Trump would tear into this person.

I'll give you a poll to record your choice, but I'm more interested in seeing your reasoning, so I look forward to reading comments and participating in the comments. Also, I think those of you who don't want the Democrat to win may have trouble being honest. I remember when my father voted for George McGovern in the Democratic Party primary in 1972. It was completely strategic. He wanted the Republican to win the election. And he laughed about it, which hurt my 21-year-old feelings.

I know I can't make you do it, but please, even if you really want the Democrats to lose, identify the Democratic candidate who is most vulnerable to attacks and rejection by the American people:

Which Democratic Party frontrunner is least electable?

pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE: Here are the results:

My answer was Sanders.

"Rushing an impeachment case through the House without due process and giving the Senate a half-baked case to finish set a dangerous precedent."

"If the Senate were to convict, it would risk making this kind of quick, partisan impeachment in the House a regular occurrence. That would serve only to further deepen the divides that seem to permeate every part of our society today.... While the Senate is where this impeachment process will end, it is also the Senate that is best suited to help turn the page and begin a new chapter. We can do that by demonstrating that we can work together and address the issues our constituents care most about...."

Writes Senator Rob Portman in "Why I’m Voting to Acquit President Trump/Impeachment will end in the Senate. It’s time to take up consensus issues" (NYT). Portman is a Republican from Ohio.

The comments over there are very skeptical of Portman's asserted reasons. Example:
Maybe your rationalization helps you sleep at night, Mr. Portman. The only reason this was the only purely partisan impeachment in history is because Republicans refused to do their job, refused to be impartial despite an oath to do so, and declined to allow evidence and witnesses despite overwhelming probably cause to do so....
That reminds me... I think the #1 lesson of this impeachment is that there should never be another impeachment without bipartisan support in the House. With the 2/3 majority requirement in the Senate, it was easy to see that the vote to convict would not materialize and that therefore the vote to impeach was for show.

Maybe the show was exciting for House Democrats at one point, but what an awful ordeal for the country, and now here they are complaining that acquittal will further empower the President to do — as the phrase goes — "whatever he wants."

Are you lying about the effect of acquittal now? Are you denying that you foresaw this effect all along? Or do you really believe acquittal empowers the President to do whatever he wants and you knew that would be the end result and you chose to impeach him anyway? All the options are incompetent!

The board of the Milwaukee host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention terminates its 2 leaders after allegations of a "toxic workplace."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
The Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday that a group of senior women staffers wrote an unsigned letter last week complaining of being "bullied and intimidated" by Alonso — something they said Gilbert did nothing to stop. They said Alonso's actions fostered a "toxic and unstable" culture.

"Every employee has a right to feel respected in their workplace," said a one-page statement from the board. "Based on the information we have learned to date, we believe the work environment did not meet the ideals and expectations of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee Board of Directors. Accordingly, [committee president] Liz Gilbert and [her chief of staff] Adam Alonso are no longer employed by the organization, effective immediately."...

Gilbert's attorney, Peg Schaffer, [said] "Frankly, it is frustrating to me that a disgruntled staff who when confronted with a strong woman leader is using the euphemism of a toxic workplace to complain about their boss"....
Democrats need to live up to their own values... or at least look like they're living up to their own purported values. At least the employees felt empowered to come forward with a complaint, and they got results.

Here's the text of the (unsigned) letter:

February 4, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like... except the State of the Union Address, which we're talking about in the post right underneath this one.

Watching the State of the Union?

Hang out here.

Early Iowa results coming in...

... and Buttigieg is in the lead.

(No link. I’m watching television.)

Nice job by Susan Collins, explaining why she’s voting to acquit.

On TV just now.

"President Donald Trump's job approval rating has risen to 49%, his highest in Gallup polling since he took office in 2017."

Gallup reports.

"Whether the rise in Trump's approval rating and the Republican Party's image is being driven by a backlash against impeachment, the strong economy or other factors may become clearer in the near future. If it is mostly impeachment-based, his approval rating may revert quickly back to pre-impeachment levels, as it did for Clinton.... If Trump's higher approval rating is being driven by Americans giving him credit for improvements in the economy, his support may increase over the course of the year, as it did for Ronald Reagan in 1984, Clinton in 1996 and Barack Obama in 2012."

"Whether women singing and dancing in barely-there costumes or otherwise celebrating their bodies is empowering, or an assault on our ability to move through the world as men’s equals..."

"... is one of those forever fights.... If there was one thing the Shakers and the Clutchers could agree on, it’s that Jennifer Lopez... is a force of nature... 'I can’t believe she’s 50 and looks so good!' women said. Which quickly became, 'I can’t believe I’m 50 and I look so bad!'.... Some members of my social-media community were in awe. Others — myself included — were feeling personally judged by dat ass. I’m just a few months younger than J. Lo, and, with every birthday, I have asked: Is this the year it ends? Surely there’s a finish line; a point we’ll reach when the You Must Be This Hot in Order to Participate sign at the amusement park ride disappears, and we all get a seat on the roller coaster (right alongside the lumpy, balding, graying, potbellied men who’ve been riding the entire time).... Forty was clearly too soon to surrender, given Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston, Brooke Shields and Lisa Bonet.... Still, I’d been picturing 50 as the year when I’d be done....."

From "I Feel Personally Judged by J. Lo’s Body/Are we really supposed to look this good at 50 now?" by Jennifer Weiner (in the NYT). Personally, I'm almost 20 years older than that, so I'm thinking: You 50 year old women need to realize how young you are. There's (almost) always a you 20 years in the future whose perspective you can adopt, who thinks you are quite young and should appreciate what you have and not where you once were.

But also, you were never in a form that could dance like Jennifer Lopez at the Superbowl, so it's not about you and where you are on the time line of your life. And why were you ever thinking in terms of "You Must Be This Hot in Order to Participate"? That's internalizing the judgment of others. How good do you feel? If the answer to that has only to do with what other people think about you, you have a psychological problem. And you can work on that at any age.

And did you ever stop and think about how good Jennifer Lopez feels? I did! Watching the Superbowl halftime show, I wondered (out loud) how she felt. I didn't think she was experiencing the sexual feelings she danced about. I didn't even think she was enjoying herself. I think she was executing a very difficult and athletic pre-planned program that was less fun than what the football players had to do that night.

What do you mean? They look like they could be on the shore of Lake Mendota, here in Madison!

I'm reading "In Nova Scotia, Homes as Wild as the Landscape Around Them/Across the province’s cliffside fishing towns, Omar Gandhi’s residential architecture is as austere and intense as the environment for which it’s built" (NYT Style Magazine):
Though Gandhi’s projects are dramatically different in form, such consideration of their remote, subarctic backdrop connects them to one another — they “look like they could only be in Nova Scotia,” he says. It’s a slow, tough place, surrounded either by water that seems like it might be happier as ice or, on the southern coast, by trees so sparse and stunted that they probably would have preferred to grow elsewhere.
I love the photographs — and here are more photos at the architect's website — but they look like right here in Madison, right now. I guess our trees are bigger, but the land overlooking cold water is not like something faraway to me. It looks like my town.

"Erika Righter raises her tattooed forearm to her face, in despair of all of the racism she’s witnessed as a social worker, then laments how a white friend always ends phone calls with 'Love you long time.'"

"'And what is your racism, Erika?' Rao interrupts, refusing to let her off the hook. The mood becomes tense. Another woman adds: 'I don’t know you, Erika. But you strike me as being really in your head. Everything I’m hearing is from the neck up.' Righter, a single mother, retreats before defending herself: 'I haven’t read all the books. I’m new to this.'"

From "Why liberal white women pay a lot of money to learn over dinner how they're racist" by Poppy Noor in The Guardia).

"7:40 AM Sen. Durbin says it’s time for Iowa caucuses to end/7:35 AM Howard Dean says Iowa shouldn’t be first caucus anymore..."

I'm reading headlines at the Washington Post.

You see what they are doing? They're blaming Iowa. It's not the fault of the Democratic Party. It's Iowa's fault. After the citizens of Iowa put up with all that interaction with candidates swarming the state for the past year (and more) and after they showed up for this elaborate nighttime gathering in groups in gyms and showing support with their bodies, they are blamed for the screwup of the party!

The other blame-shifting I'm seeing is: The computers did it. There was an app and it somehow caused all the trouble. Reminiscent of Hillary's wipe-it-with-a-cloth computer problems. I really don't want to hear excuses that have to do with computers getting things wrong. This cannot have been a complicated app, and the backup was to use the phones, yet they want to blame the phone lines too! It's just not credible.

AND: There's also room to blame the Clintons: "Tech firm started by Clinton campaign veterans is linked to Iowa caucus reporting debacle" (LA Times):
An app created by a tech firm run by veterans of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign is taking heat for the unprecedented delay in reporting Democratic caucus results from Iowa. The firm behind the app reportedly is Shadow....

“When a light is shining, Shadows are a constant companion,” its website says....

Morning Joe on the State of the Union: "We expect the President to crow" about the impeachment acquittal.

I just heard that on the car radio as I was driving home from the sunrise.


Do you expect Trump to use the SOTU to crow about the impeachment? I don't even think he'll bring up the subject! The best political use of the SOTU is not to seem partisan or political at all. I expect Trump to say the state of the union is great, to highlight what he believes are his many accomplishments, and to lay out a future founded on those accomplishments and leading to more greatness. It's weird to think he'd use the SOTU like a rally and go on about the impeachment hoax and the "perfect" phone call.

I remember when Trump was the weirdest thing around. But the reaction to Trump out-weirded him. And here we are on the morning after the Iowa caucus and the Democrats don't seem to have been able to make their way through a predictable, planned event that should have been the height of normality. And here's morning Joe imagining the President behaving chaotically at his well-planned event.

By the way, speaking of Trump and his "greatness" theme, I thought of a slogan for the Democrats, to offset Trump's "Make America Great Again"/"Keep America Great": "What's so great about greatness?"

I also thought of "Oh, great," but you'd have to say it with sarcasm, and a slogan can't depend on saying it in the right tone of voice.

ADDED: Meade said: "We expect the President to crow, and there you have the sunrise.... It's funny that crowing is what a rooster does, and you use the word, but crows don't crow."

AND: Reading the "ADDED," I said: "Morning in America"... and then there's Morning Joe in America.

Only one victory last night...

I wasn't going to stay up late for the Iowa caucus results. They were delayed. Okay. I figured...

... I'd wake up, maybe in the middle of the night, look at my iPhone and, in 4 seconds, I'd see what happened.

I woke up around 12:30. No results yet. Then again at 2:30. Nothing but the increasing weirdness of no result. I had my conspiracy theory already in mind: They're protecting Joe Biden. He did terribly, and they're trying to work something out to protect his candidacy, or they already know it's going to fail, and they want to manage the transfer of votes onto their favored candidate, maybe Amy Klobuchar and not Pete Buttigieg... or is it the other way around.

I wake up for good at 6:33. Still no results! Is this tied to the way the Des Moines Register did not release its last poll? Why the suppression?

Are the Republican results suppressed? No! "Iowa results showed the president winning with roughly 97 percent of the vote over former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. The primary challengers walked away with about 1 percent each." (Fox News).

This is solely a screwup with the Democrats. How embarrassing and fishy!

February 3, 2020

Watching the Iowa caucuses?

Hang out here.

"A second worker at Mexico’s famed monarch butterfly sanctuary has been found murdered..."

"... sparking concerns that the defenders of one of Mexico’s most emblematic species are being slain with impunity.... The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection."

From The Guardian.

"Ostensibly the ad is designed to address the criticism of the fact that Bloomberg, as mayor of New York City, hired Trump to build a golf course... But that's not the real goal of the ad."

"The real goal is to troll Trump over his appearance — as there are several still photographs of Trump on the golf course shown on screen, all of which make the President look, well, large. Trump, as Bloomberg well knows, is decidedly vain and appearance focused. There is nothing that will bother Trump more than seeing an ad like this that is clearly intended to make Trump look out of shape and sort of bumbling."

Says CNN about this ad:

Now, I'm reading "REPORT: TRUMP IS MELTING DOWN OVER BLOOMBERG ADS ABOUT HIS WEIGHT" by Bess Levin in Vanity Fair. I'm soooo jaded about reports that Trump is "melting down." Levin quotes some Trump tweets about Bloomberg but none of them are about Bloomberg's insinuation that Trump is fat. Trump openly calls Bloomberg short, so he'd only undercut his own comedy routine if he got butthurt about Bloomberg calling him fat.

And Trump knows he's fat. He's self-deprecating about it, making it part of his own comedy. And he put out this tweet immediately after Bloomberg's fat-shaming ad:

Trump looks fat in his own tweet. And most Americans are fat too. Bloomberg is an idiot if he's aiming at Trump and collaterally damaging millions of Americans who are sensitive about their weight. And the same goes for Trump mocking Bloomberg for being short. I'll bet a third of American men are as short as Bloomberg. Why belittle them? Hmm. "Belittle" is one of those latent politically incorrect words. Why diminish them make them feel small disparage them?

"Even though people are telling me it’s not the way to look at it, I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down with this."

"But the upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.... So this has happened, and my intention is to come here every day I can and to do this program as normally and as competently and as expertly as I do each and every day, because that is the source of my greatest satisfaction professionally, personally... ... I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about. But I do, and I have been working that relationship tremendously, which I do regularly anyway, but I’ve been focused on it intensely for the past couple of weeks.... And, as is the case with everybody who finds themselves in this circumstance, you just want to push ahead and try to keep everything as normal as you can, which is something that I’m going to try to do... So, I’ll be back here. I hope I’ll be back Thursday. If not, it will be as soon as I can — and know that every day I’m not here, I’ll be thinking about you and missing you...."

Said Rush Limbaugh on his show today. Video below:

Sunrise, 7:17.


Actual sunrise time, 7:12.

This is 7:09:


"Eventually, he asked the audience, 'So, do you want to talk about the thing?' He was referring, of course, to the accusations against him."

"The audience cheered. Somewhat wearily, he said, 'I like to jerk off, and I don’t like to be alone.' More laughter. 'So what can I tell you? I can offer you some advice. If you ask, "Can I jerk off in front of you?"—don’t do it! And if they say O.K., don’t do it!' The warnings weren’t exactly sobering or remorseful; they gestured at his actions without really acknowledging what he’d done or to whom or, more important, why. It was a nod in the direction of his troubles, but with no hard look at what those troubles meant. 'Everybody has their thing sexually,' he said. 'But when everyone knows what your thing is . . . now Obama knows what my thing is. Oh, God.'... As the show went on, I began to want to feed C.K., telepathically, the different forms of storytelling he brought to his work when he was at the top of his game and unafraid of losing out on being loved. What if he were to turn his shame into a story? What if he imagined how his dick looked to a woman he had horrified? Couldn’t he go there, Richard Pryor style, and talk from the vantage point of his disgraced penis? Instead, he let his better stories trail off, fearing perhaps the existential ramifications of doing what he used to do, digging and dancing in the minefields of our collective unconscious."

In "Can Louis C.K. Spin His Troubles Into Art?/Touring for the first time since his sexual-misconduct scandal, the comedian gestured at his actions without really acknowledging what he’d done," The New Yorker's Hilton Als gives the genius-idiot comedian some advice on how to do comedy. Why not?

You probably won't read the whole thing because you probably don't have a subscription to The New Yorker, so I've got to tell you that much of the essay is about black people. It's too much trouble to explain why, so I'll just gesture at it: He begins by talking about the Norman Mailer essay "The White Negro," drags in a conversation between Louis C.K. and Chris Rock (with lots of "n-word"), refers to Pigmeat Markham and Big Mama Thornton, has some stuff about a black character on the "Louis" TV show, quotes Louis saying it would be "hot" if your mother told you she once had sex with "a black guy," and said it would be "hot" if Louis, in his new show, "became his mother, teetering toward that black consort, in love with the American forbidden?"

To absorb this you probably need to know if Hilton Als is black. If you don't already know, examine your thoughts first picturing him as white and then picturing him as black. Are they different? I think they they are!

ADDED: "Now Obama knows what my thing is. Oh, God." I like the "Oh, God," because, essentially, Obama has taken the place of God. He sees and He knows and His knowing that you have fallen short is a heavy burden for which you know you must atone.

AND: Here's Wikipedia on "The White Negro":

I used to listen to the NYT podcast "The Daily" every morning, but somewhere along the line, it lost me badly.

And I hadn't listened to any episode in months. I'd stopped even looking at the episode titles, which is something I was doing even after I'd stopped listening. I was looking at episode titles and rejecting them unheard. Something about the Trump Era made me resistant to what they were putting out. But I happened to listen this morning.

The episode is: "The Field: Iowa’s Electability Complex/As Iowans prepare to cast the first votes of the 2020 Democratic nomination process, they’re asking one question: Who can win?" ("Traveling around the state, we found anxious Iowans asking one question over and over: Who can beat President Trump?")

This was worth listening to, and, for me, it's worth blogging about because it made me think of what was missing. You have all these people in Iowa putting tremendous effort into picking one of the Democratic Party candidates, and the number one thing they're wracking their brains about is how other people will think. They're imagining the interior life of people who are inclined to or capable of voting for Trump.

But here's what's missing: Their imagination is pathetic and — though they all seem like such nice people — morally deficient. No one speaking in that podcast had any real feeling for Trump supporters as fully dimensional human beings. Trump supporters are ciphers who might as well be piled up in a basket labeled "deplorables."

Now, the podcast nudges us to think that it would be best for the people of Iowa to pull back from wondering what other people want and just ask themselves what do I want. That is, forget about electability. That's the too-hard-to-answer question of what everyone else wants. If each individual goes for what he or she wants, then there's a chance of aggregating that into a sensible picture of what people in general want.

That may be a good idea, especially if the alternative is to rely on inept thinking about what other people want. To me, what was missing from the podcast was a recognition of the poverty of the Iowa Democrats' thoughts about how voters in the middle might feel about various Democratic Party candidates. If there is any substance at all, it seems to be that some of the Democrats are actively offensive, others are sort of innocuous, and if they serve up one of the innocuous candidates, maybe enough of those voters in the middle will go along with it.

But there is another option for these Iowa caucus-goers (and others engaged in the Democratic Party nomination process): Accord full humanity to the Americans who are capable of accepting Trump and try to understand them as real people whose thoughts and feelings matter. This would be an arduous path, and it's almost surely too late to start. I don't think the Democrats involved in the nominating process even know how to find their way to the beginning of that path.

ADDED: They can't find their way to the beginning of that path because they are so deeply invested in demonizing the other side. They want voters in the middle to go with the Democrats because the GOP side is demonic. To demonize is to disbelieve in the possibility of connection with the real humanity of the people you want to convince. There's only a hope that some of the demons are getting tired of being demons.

Yet this demonizing is itself tiresome. And I say that as someone in the middle, someone who could go either way and 2020 and who voted against Donald Trump twice in 2016 (in the Wisconsin primary and in the general election).

"In the more than three years since the tape emerged, it’s become clear that the you-can-do-anything line wasn’t only describing Trump’s attitude toward women."

"It was describing his attitude toward everything: If you’re rich, famous or powerful, you can get away with much more than most people understand. You just do it. You don’t need to worry about ethical niceties or even, sometimes, the law. You use your advantages to bulldoze any obstacles.... Trump does what he thinks is best for him, often in open defiance of rules or customs that constrain almost everybody else.... The country is left with a president who has spent decades doing whatever he thinks is in his self-interest — and a political party willing to protect that president. Staying in power trumps all."

From "The Simple Reason Trump Does What He Does/Because he can" by David Leonhardt (NYT).

In this anti-Trump tirade, Leonhardt never pauses to note that the sense of being able to do anything — to overcome all obstacles in his way — is also a force for achieving good things that benefit the whole country. It's integral to the idea of making America great that binds Trump's enthusiasts to him.

Let's talk about Trump's Superbowl ads.

I'll show them as he is promoting them on Twitter today (with the first ad as his "pinned" tweet, holding the place at the top of his Twitter feed):

I'll call attention to the contrast between the 2 ads, and I'm going to give this post my "big and small" tag.

The first ad is in black and white, and we see a photo of one black woman on a black screen with white lettering, then close video shots of her telling her individual story, surrounded by a small group of people who care about her, along with more white lettering on a black screen. "My heart is just bursting with gratitude. I want to think President Donald John Trump," she says and the people around her — all black people — cheer. One person's story, one piece of legislation, and a narrow focus on a message for black people.

The second ad is a completely widened frame, lots of color, lots of different people, jets flying over, and the biggest issue for everyone (the economy). Even within that big frame, there's specific message to black people.