February 22, 2020

At The Owl Tree Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like... except the Democratic Party candidates and the Nevada caucus. Go to the previous post for that. The Owl Tree Café is a place for variety and unusualness.

Here's this morning sunrise:


Enjoy the conversation!

Nevada caucus results.

I'm not seeing anything worth linking to. The results just aren't in yet. Bernie is winning big, that's the projection. But how big? And how much panic will ensue? I'm avoiding the chatter on TV, and I have some pity on the talking heads tasked with keeping it up for hours on end. But here's my post, where you can chat all you like.

I liked the 2 times at yesterday's Las Vegas rally when Trump talked about computers — first, to say what's wrong with movies and second, enacting a scene between him and Barron.

1. Explaining his "Bring back 'Gone with the Wind'":

"What I say is: Make great movies. Not this computerized crap. Computerized garbage."

2. Talking about the bad $5 billion Obamacare website:

"I have a son at home — he's a genius with computers" — mimes typing on a keyboard, does his Barron voice — "'Hi, Dad. What's up, Dad? Get outta here'/'Hey, listen, I'm the President of the United States, Barron, don't talk to your —'/'Dad, can't you see I'm playing with my computer?' The guy talks to me, he's working with his computer. These guys are genius. You know, they grow up with that. It's like walking. But he's looking at me. I could have given him their health care site. He would have done it for nothing, and it would have been better than what they have there..." — mimes typing and does the Barron voice again — "'Come on, Dad. I'm busy, Dad. Whatdya want? Whatdya want, Dad?'" — the crowd cheers, chants "Barron, Barron!" — "Whoa! Wow!... He's gonna like — he's a good boy. He's a tall boy. He's up there. Just turned 13. I say" — looks up — "'Hi, Barron. How ya doin'?"

I love the father-son interaction where the father tries to use his I'm the President of the United States,  in the classic don't talk to your father like that format.

And I totally agree with him that computerized movies are crap.

"I love this shirt... You gotta see this shirt... He looks safe. He doesn't look like he's gonna start a fist fight."

Says Donald Trump, asking that a guy in a shirt be brought up on stage at yesterday's Las Vegas rally. Then he brings up another guy — a guy wearing a suit patterned as a brick wall — and the woman with him. Here, I've clipped out a couple minutes:

After they go back to their seats, he says, about the couple, "I just said how long have you 2 been together. Figured they'd say, 'We're married.' He met her at the rally in Colorado" — the previous day! — "Do you believe it?! Man, did he get lucky!" — pause — "They both got lucky, right?"

"irascible appetite, irascible affection, irascible part of the soul, in Plato's tripartite division of the soul, τὸ θυμοειδές, one of the two parts of the irrational nature..."

"... being that in which courage, spirit, passion, were held to reside; and which was superior to τὸ ἐπιθυμητικόν, the concupiscible... part in which resided the appetites."

From the OED definition of "irascible," which I looked up just now after writing "irascible" in the first 2 posts of the day. The first definition of "irascible" is "Easily provoked to anger or resentment; prone to anger; irritable, choleric, hot-tempered, passionate."

My first post today had a quote about Trump's "irascible fantasy of what the United States should be."  I said out loud: "Does Trump seem angry to you?" We watched a couple of his rallies this week, and my answer was, no, he seems jovial.

I liked the change of pace in encountering Plato in this OED definition. It's interesting, isn't it?, that the irascible part of the soul is the place that gives rise to courage, spirit, and passion. Maybe go down that road and figure out something about Trump.

To get up to speed, here's the Wikipedia article, "Plato's theory of the soul."
The Platonic soul consists of three parts:[
the logos (λογιστικόν), or logistikon (logical, mind, nous, or reason)
the thymos (θυμοειδές), or thumetikon (emotion, spiritedness, or masculine)
the eros (ἐπιθυμητικόν), or epithumetikon (appetitive, desire, or feminine)...
According to Plato, the spirited or thymoeides (from thymos) is the part of the soul by which we are angry or get into a temper. He also calls this part 'high spirit' and initially identifies the soul dominated by this part with the Thracians, Scythians and the people of 'northern regions.' In the just soul, the spirited aligns with the logistikon and resists the desires of the appetitive, becoming manifested as 'indignation' and in general the courage to be good. In the unjust soul, the spirited ignores the logistikon and aligns with the desires of the appetitive, manifesting as the demand for the pleasures of the body.
IN THE COMMENTS: Unknown says, "You've been anticipated by Carson Holloway in The New Criterion," pointing to "Thumos, Or Spiritedness, Is Central To His Appeal":

The sunrise owl...

... swooped across our path and landed in an old tree...


I didn't think there was time to tromp through the deep snow and get a close look...


... but he wasn't bothered by our presence at all and seemed to be in an unwakeable pre-sleep trance. or do owls sleep like that, with eyes slitted?


No, no, I saw the head swivel a bit. He was looking at us, but he's used to people walking around under his space and it would take a lot more to rouse him from his sweet torpor.

The Beatles did it in the 1960s, and now...

"Donald Trump Is Going to India to Find Himself/Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is the American president’s spiritual home: an inferno of systemic cruelty" — NYT headline.

Sample text:
Last September at a rock-concert-like rally at a Houston football stadium, Mr. Modi and Mr. Trump walked hand-in-hand, the two stocky strongmen looking like brothers-in-arms. Certainly, nowhere in the world can Mr. Trump encounter a profounder fraternal spirit than among India’s present rulers. India under them fulfills, to a startling degree, the American president’s irascible fantasy of what the United States should be: a country cravenly surrendering its traditions of law and decency before a perpetually inflamed and ham-handed autocrat....
Irascible Fantasy.... a good album title.

Has anyone ever written "irascible fantasy" before? I'm so entranced by the phrase that I do a Google search. I get 9 hits, including the current NYT article, which is the second hit. The first hit is:
"Oh Lucky Country," Rosa R. Cappiello - 2009 - ‎Australian fiction: "My interest-disinterest in the love-they-neighbor routine is poised on the outer fringes of my awareness. I never remember, to begin with, the place where visions run ceaselessly, frozen and mediocre. From the depths it is easy for me to reach into my irascible fantasy, to give it free rein, and if necessary, to isolate myself within it...."
Hit #3:
Lee Seung Gi's K-fanclub Mocks Up Smexy Hwayugi Posters ... koalasplayground.com › 2017/11/19 › lee-seung-gis-k-fanclub-mock... Nov 19, 2017 - He's set to play the (in)famous Monkey King Sun Wukong, and in this narrative he's the arrogant irascible fantasy being that's now living in the ...
Something about "Smexy" makes me afraid to click. I'll just look it up in Urban Dictionary. Oh! It means "Smart and sexy." Now, I'm not afraid to look up Monkey King Sun Wukong. Here's the Wikipedia article on the subject... with this photograph:

I'm far afield from India now, so let's move on.

Hits #4-9 all seem like spam, with "irascible" joining "fantasy" pretty randomly: "important health address to an irascible fantasy springs casino fireworks customer," "my favorite memory and irascible fantasy i love your new video's," "that is why the 2 Net wigs do irascible fantasy except in the recent book book."

Welcome to Saturday! May all your fantasies be as irascible as you want them to be. Good morning!

February 21, 2020

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Should Mr. Trump look out the window of the presidential limousine, he could see billboards blaring, 'Donald Trump cheats at golf,' and 'Donald Trump eats burnt steak.'

"There's also, 'Donald Trump lost the popular vote' and 'Donald Trump went broke running a casino.'"

From "Mike Bloomberg trolls Trump with billboards as Trump campaigns in West" (CBS News).

Maybe we can get Glenn Kessler to fact-check that "burnt steak" part.

Trump orders his steak "well done." Well done steak is not burned:
A well done steak is the hardest to cook. The secret is to do it low and slow—it's the only way to prevent burning while fully cooking it through the middle. This steak should not be burnt on the outside. While there is not the faintest hint of pink in the middle, it should be browned through, not burnt through. This steak should feel solid to the touch. For a 1-inch steak, grill over medium heat between 10 and 12 minutes per side. It should reach an internal temperature of 170 F (77 C) or higher.

"I’ve had the company go back over its record and they’ve identified 3 NDAs that we signed over the past 30-plus years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made."

"If any of them want to be released from their NDA so that they can talk about those allegations, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I’ve decided that for as long as I’m running the company, we won’t offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward. I recognize that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported. It is imperative that when problems occur, workplaces not only address the specific incidents, but the culture and practices that led to those incidents. And then leaders must act."

A statement from Mike Bloomberg.

Well done.

"U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest..."

"... according to people familiar with the matter. President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have also been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken.... Sanders’s opponents have blamed some of his most vocal online supporters for injecting toxic rhetoric into the primaries. At a Democratic candidates debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Sanders indirectly blamed Russia, saying it was possible malign actors were trying to manipulate social media to inflame divisions among Democrats.... Also this week, a senior U.S. intelligence official said that Russia had 'developed a preference' for Trump in the 2020 campaign — an assessment that infuriated the president....."

WaPo reports.

What do you think is really going on? Would Russia help both Bernie and Trump? Why? Is it a preference for chaos? I can see the theory that getting Bernie the nomination works in the long run to help Trump, but that requires you to think that Russia prefers Trump to Bernie. Why wouldn't Russia just help Bernie?

RELATED: "Will Bernie Sanders' long-ago praise of Socialist regimes hurt Democrats in November?/If Sanders is the nominee, some Democrats worry Trump will hammer him on his long-buried words in defense of governments in Nicaragua, Cuba and the USSR" (NBC News).

"Jurors in the trial against Harvey Weinstein indicated they were deadlocked Friday on the two most serious counts against him..."

"... prompting the judge to order that any verdict must be unanimous. New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke added that if the jury can't reach a unanimous decision, then it can't return a verdict on the two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.... [Weinstein] also faces one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape, and one count of a criminal sex act. The jury suggested it reached a unanimous decision on those three counts. The structure of the charges means Weinstein can be found guilty of no more than two of the charges against him. The first-degree rape and criminal sex act charges are each punishable by at least five years to 25 years in prison. The third-degree rape charge is punishable by up to four years behind bars."

NBC News reports.

It's the Era of That's Not Funny.

"I do not think that anybody — Bernie Sanders or anyone else — should simply get the nomination because they have 30 percent of the delegates and no one else has that many."

"Let’s say that he has 35 percent. Well, 65 percent he doesn’t have, or that person doesn’t have. I think that we have to let the system work its way out. I do not believe anyone should get the nomination unless they have 50-[percent]-plus-one.... A lot people in the race still, but they’ll be dropping off quick, because the money is running out. So I think you’re going to have the field winnowing fairly quickly. And you have most of the people who are not Bernie Sanders, are people who are moderates, and maybe they’ll work something out to get together and try to find that one person who can come up with the number of delegates. Maybe that’s one way to do it.... I just don’t think you can give the nomination to somebody who has 65 percent of the people that made a different decision."

Said Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, from his office at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, quoted in "Harry Reid says Sanders needs more than plurality to win Democratic nomination" (WaPo).

That sounds right to me, but there are times when I think it's becoming so likely that Trump will win that those who are trying to shape the future of the Democratic Party might prefer to let Bernie Sanders take the nomination and then go on to fail and fail big. That way, the left-wing extreme takes the blame, the loss can be massaged into the argument that the socialist move is a proven disaster, and the liberal moderates can reclaim control. If Sanders gets the most votes/delegates going into the convention, but the convention works out a way to give the nomination to someone else, the far left will rage on for another 4 years with a sense of entitlement that it's certainly their turn in 2024. And let's say that convention picks Pete Buttigieg, the shining new talent. Then, he'd be ruined for 2024. Save him. Let him age for 4 years. And give him a clear run at the presidency in 2024, after Trump is gone and after the Democrats prove to themselves that Americans won't vote for left-wing extremism.

"There’s been a real shift in how people, especially young women, think about beauty and desire. We’re in the age of #MeToo. Ideals are changing..."

"... and people want diversity and representation, ethnically and racially, but also in terms of shape and body type. For retailers to not adapt or evolve can be a fatal flaw."

Said marketing professor Kalinda Ukanwa, quoted under the heading "Out-of-touch, overly sexual marketing," the 3rd of "5 factors that led to Victoria’s Secret’s fall" (WaPo).

From the comments at WaPo:
Originally, Victoria's Secret sold pretty underthings and nightgowns in a time when women were wearing practical or professional clothes. Then they changed and the merchandise was more about overt sexuality and tartiness. It was like they were trying to replace Frederick's of Hollywood. The store windows could be embarrassing to people shopping with kids. Go back to things women want to wear for themselves, drop the stripper vibe, and the business could flourish again....
Do you remember the original Victoria's Secret — in the 1970s? It did always have to do with the male shopper, but it was created by a man who felt bad about the way he was treated when he went shopping for lingerie for his wife — like a "pervert." That is, it wasn't so much about the kind of leering, domineering male #MeToo is fighting, but about a male who himself feels dismissed and judged — the subordinate man.

"The ‘Rage Baking’ Controversy, Explained/'Rage Baking: The Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women’s Voices' is one of the most hyped cookbooks/essay collections of the year..."

"... but Tangerine Jones, a black woman who began using the phrase 'rage baking' years ago in response to racial injustice, isn’t credited," Eater explains.
On February 4, Simon & Schuster published Rage Baking: The Transformative Power of Flour, Fury, and Women’s Voices.... Then, on February 14, blogger and baker Tangerine Jones published an essay on Medium titled “The Privilege of Rage,” outlining how she coined the phrase “rage baking” back in 2015, and watched as Alford and Gunst’s book was published to great acclaim as her work went unacknowledged. Jones, a black woman, wrote that “Being black in America means you’re solid in the knowledge that folks don’t give a true flying fuck about you or anyone who looks like you,” and that she turned to baking as a form of self care. In 2015, she started posting online with the hashtag #ragebaking, and started the @ragebaking Instagram account in the summer of 2016....

“There are huge consequences when [black women] express our rage because we’re seen as threatening,” [Jones] said in an email, even noting that her post likely wouldn’t have been as popular “if I wasn’t code switching and couching my profound disappointment and anger in ‘eloquent’ ways.”
I'm trying to understand how Tangerine Jones feels, and here's what I come up with. What if some men — without so much as mentioning me — put out a book titled "Cruel Neutrality: The Transformative Power of Blogging, Brutality, and the Detached Voice," and the authors were raking in money and doing TV appearances and their names replaced mine on a Google search on "cruel neutrality":
I don't mind seeing Taylor Swift's name on "my" page, but it would irk me if some men — I made them men to approximate Jones's racial grievance — took my phrase and monetized it, fame-a-tized it. I'd be irked. But I wouldn't think, this is how the world marginalizes people like me. So I'm not getting the full Tangerine Jones effect.

ADDED: The authors of "Rage Baking" are giving some of their profits to "Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democrat women to office, and though Jones dismisses." It's interesting the way rage is becoming part of the Democratic Party brand. I searched for the phrase "rage baking" in the NYT archive, and I found "I Misjudged the Gender Effect/The Sanders-Warren spat looked as if it’d blow over. Instead it’s fueled the 'electability' debate" (a column by Lisa Lerer from a month ago):
Sure, the energy of the first Women’s March, the #MeToo movement and the historic number of women who won congressional seats in 2018 is still alive — or at least available for purchase. Books like “Rage Baking” urge women to use “sugar and sass” as political protest, as pink hats march down runways and designers sell $400 “resistance” sweaters. But it’s not translating into support for the remaining women in the Democratic primary....
Yes, before investing too deeply in rage, get some clarity about whether rage works. It might work to get somebody flinging flour around the kitchen and gobbling cookies — let's face it, "rage baking" comes from "rage eating," and most baking is for eating — but that doesn't mean we want rage at the center of presidential politics.

AND: Some people in the comments are making fun of the name Tangerine, but Tangerine is a fantastic name. I don't think there's anyone famous named Tangerine, but there are 2 great songs about a woman named Tangerine. There's the 1941 Johnny Mercer song "Tangerine" (listen here to Chet Baker and Paul Desmond... wait, that was great, but there's no singing, so here's Frank Sinatra):
Tangerine, she is all they claim
With her eyes of night and lips as bright as flame
Tangerine, when she dances by
Senoritas stare and caballeros sigh
And I've seen toasts to Tangerine
Raised in every bar across the Argentine
Yes, she has them all on the run
But her heart belongs to just one
Her heart belongs to Tangerine
Tangerine, she is all they say
With mascara'd eye and chapeaux by Dache
Tangerine, with her lips of flame
If the color keeps, Louis Philippe's to blame
And I've seen clothes on Tangerine
Where the label says "From Macy's Mezzanine"
Yes, she's got the guys in a whirl
But she's only fooling one girl
She's only fooling Tangerine
And Led Zeppelin had their "Tangerine"! Listen here. The lyrics are a noticeably inferior to the Johnny Mercer song, but still.... Led Zeppelin!
Tangerine, Tangerine
Living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen
And now a thousand years in between
Thinking how it used to be
Does she still remember times like these?
To think of us again
And I do

"That man has wild hair... oh wait."

That man has wild hair... oh wait. from r/confusingperspective

"We are very proud of crafting this idea. Mold grows in a very inconsistent way. We had to work for several months, with different samples, to be able to showcase the beauty..."

"...of something which is usually considered undesirable. I never thought I would become a specialist in mold, but that was required to make this one happen."

Said Björn Ståhl, quoted in "Why Burger King Is Proudly Advertising a Moldy, Disgusting Whopper/The chain's anti-preservatives pledge breaks just about every rule in advertising" (AdWeek)("The Moldy Whopper campaign, created through a partnership of three agencies features intriguingly high-resolution photography and video of a Whopper being consumed not by humans but rather by the voracious maw of time itself. In other words, we get to see a Whopper rotting").

Very beautiful, not that you want to eat it, but the point is that you eat it freshly made, and the mold that comes later proves its goodness on Day 1. And Burger King trusts its customers to understand the science and to enjoy the beauty of the artistically photographed food in its post-edible phase...

Snobs will say anyone sophisticated enough to appreciate this approach to advertising would never eat at Burger King anyway.

ADDED: Something you might not know about me is that in the year before I went to law school, I worked at J. Walter Thompson. The biggest client at the time was Burger King, and the big new campaign was "Burger King and I":

"Shh! You'll wake up the monkey" — We now know Trump's favorite movie.

There was a time when this business had the eyes of the whole wide world. But that wasn't good enough. Oh, no! They wanted the ears of the world, too. So they opened their big mouths, and out came talk, talk, talk... And who have they got now? Some nobodies — a lot of pale little frogs croaking pish-posh.... Words! Words! You've made a rope of words and strangled this business! But there is a microphone right there to catch the last gurgles, and Technicolor to photograph the orange, swollen tongue!

Yes, Trump was raving last night. In Colorado Springs. One of his many topics was the fact that a South Korean film had won the Best Picture Oscar:
"How bad were the Academy Awards this year? Did you see? And the winner is: a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We've got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. On top of it, they give them the best movie of the year? Was it good? I don't know? I'm looking for — where? — can we get 'Gone with the Wind' back please? 'Sunset Boulevard.' So many great movies. The winner is: from South Korea. I thought it was Best Foreign Film. Best Foreign Movie. No. Has this ever happened before? And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got up, said little wise guy statement.* Little wise guy. He's a little wise guy."
Now, the most interesting part of all that was saying "Sunset Boulevard."

Some people might say, no, the important thing was disrespecting South Korea or disrespecting films that are not American. But that's just his usual America-first rhetoric. We should be the best. Other countries may compete, and good for them, but we should play to win. Certainly, the film industry is a place where America has traditionally won big. So we should win every year.

Some people might say that the important thing was that when he needed to think of examples of American greatness in film, the first thing he thought of was "Gone with the Wind" — a movie that takes the Southern side in the Civil War and presents slavery in a positive light. How out of touch can you get? Or was he dog-whistling to present-day racists? Ah, "Gone with the Wind," those were the days! Is he nostalgic for old movies or for the Old South? Or is he just trying to sidetrack his critics into making weak accusations against him?

But I say the most interesting partis that after he cited "Gone with the Wind" — the most conspicuous Old Hollywood movie — he paused and said "Sunset Boulevard." Now, "Sunset Boulevard" is a great old movie. It's one of the few movies that has its own tag on this blog, one of my all-time favorites. But it is a smaller, more artsy, more film buff choice. It must be a movie he actually cares about. Does he identify with the main character, Norma Desmond? She's an aging actress, who has become sidelined, but she dreams of becoming big again, and it's all quite delusional. Think about what it means for Trump to identify with that... and then to find himself on the presidential stage.


* Pitt's "little wise guy statement" — accepting the Best Supporting Actor Oscar — was: "They told me you only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week. I'm thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it. In the end, the adults do the right thing."

IN THE COMMENTS: Temujin says something that completely resonates with me:

"We all know that Trump is a bully. But I say, I’m a New Yorker, and I know how to deal with bullies. I did it all the time. I’m not afraid of Trump and he knows it."

Said Mike Bloomberg, quoted in "Wounded but defiant, Bloomberg promises to keep fighting."

I don't think any of the Democratic candidates are afraid of Trump. They all say he's a bully and offer to stand up to him. The question isn't whether they're afraid, but whether they are capable of fighting to a win. Bloomberg's real answer on that question is that he's got all that money. And that he's more capable than the other finalists not because he's a fierce debater, but because he's moderate and normal.

By the way, I'd like to look at the new Bloomberg ads. Why can't I find a YouTube page that just gives me all his ads? Is it that the campaign wants to force me to go through a page where I give them my information (which I don't want to do), or is that they have targeted ads and they don't want me to see the ads that are targeting other people?

ADDED: About that "I’m a New Yorker" business. Sanders is also a New Yorker. I'm interested in the way United Statesians find important meaning in their particular state affiliation. Amy Klobuchar presents her Minnesotanosity as a compelling qualification. Buttigieg has some belligerent pride in Indiana. Biden finds meaning in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Warren goes all Oklahoma on us. They all act as though their particular state gives them special powers.

I like this about America, but it is a form of prejudice. It's apparently an acceptable prejudice, this notion that my state is superior to the other states, that I'm better than other people because I come from this state. I've lived in New York and experienced the New Yorker's attitude of superiority. I happen to come from Delaware, and I've learned that people don't think much of the Delaware person (unless it's a corporation), but I grew up thinking we were very special because Delaware is The First State. Like: We're #1.

But I learned long ago that no one outside of Delaware cares at all about that. New Yorkers, on the other hand, never let go of the belief that in their own superiority. You see that in Bloomberg. Who's nearly 80. And who's trying to convince the people in all those other states that he's their guy. He expects them to be awed by his superiority. But he was crushed at the debate. Where's the superiority?

Maybe he's too sophisticated to take the bait. These people can't make me mad. If you can find video that shows Bloomberg's face when Elizabeth Warren says "horse-faced lesbians" — most video shows only her at that moment — you'll see he does not look the slightest bit alarmed or intimidated. There's a slight smirk, like he still thinks his joke is funny or thinks Warren is merely amusing in bringing it up.

Just when you think huge, prominent eyebrows may be going out of style...

"Unibrowed model Sophia Hadjipanteli takes London Fashion Week by storm" (NY Post). Lots of amazing photographs at the link. Is the model some sort of humorist — a satirist of beauty?

Here's the Instagram page for #unibrowmovement.

And here's "This Model Is Making the 'Unibrow Movement' Happen" (Glamour). It's from September 2017, so maybe it means the unibrow movement is not happening, since it hasn't happened yet. I, for one, am sick of having everyone's eyebrows in my face. Back off! And yet, I've got to say I find this more appealing that the overly made-up, un-unified eyebrows that have been annoying me.

Points for originality — and, yes, I know about Frida Kahlo — and naturalness, nerve, and humor:

February 20, 2020

At A's Café...


... you can talk 'til day.

Mike Bloomberg tweets a comic montage of debate clips to make the point that he's the one with executive experience...

... but absolutely every response to it that I'm seeing on Twitter is attacking him for editing video to change the sequence — like it's dishonest, showing a real event in a way that it did not happen.

This is exactly like the montage Trump tweeted after the State of the Union, with Nancy Pelosi ripping up his speech at multiple points during the speech (and not after it was over, as happened in real life).

You can make people look awfully bad with this technique, but it's a standard comic method, and it would be terrible to lose it. But this is the Era of That's Not Funny and people have shown themselves to be woefully lacking in the ability to detect fake news.

Bloomberg's montage shows him asking whether seemingly trying to determine whether he is the only one on the stage with executive experience and portrays all of the others incapable of answering. I think the biggest problem there is that some of the other candidates do have executive experience. Buttigieg was a mayor, Biden was vice president, and Klobuchar was a county attorney. But Bloomberg is technically right, because the question he asks is "I think I'm the only one here, I think, that's ever started a business — is that fair?"

"Non-toxic masculinity."

There's a phrase.

I saw it on the front page of The New Yorker.

Inside, the article is titled "What Charles Portis Taught Us."* Charles Portis —who died this week at the age of 86 — was the author of the book "True Grit."
Portis’s diffident, modestly gallant characters were a world away from the marital bonfires and priapisms of other male writers of his crop—Roth, Updike, Yates. His male heroes practiced a masculinity that by the standards of the day was uniquely (and unfashionably) nontoxic. It’s hard to imagine the bafflement with which Portnoy or Angstrom would have confronted a guy like Jimmy Burns, from “Gringos,” who tries to persuade two young women to move into his hotel with a come-on like this: “The doorknobs are porcelain with many fine hairline cracks. The towels are rough-dried in the sun. Very stiff and invigorating after a bath.”

“Only a mean person won’t enjoy it” is something a critic once wrote about “True Grit.” In part, I love Portis because I feel less mean when I read him. It’s not just that his novels are gentle and funny; it’s that Portis’s books have a way of conscripting the reader into their governing virtues—punctuality, automotive maintenance, straight talk, emotional continence. Puny virtues, as Portis himself once put it, yet it is a great and comforting gift (in these days especially) to offer readers escape into a place where such virtues reign....
I didn't like the phrase "non-toxic masculinity" when I saw it in the headline, but in the context of this essay, it's fine. It's explained and specific. Out of context, I don't like the way it implies that masculinity is bad and in need of toning down or that we only want men who make sure they are innocuous.

* Is that supposed to make us think of the passage from "Alice in Wonderland"?
"Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?" Alice asked.

"We called him Tortoise because he taught us," said the Mock Turtle angrily: "really you are very dull!”
I think rhymes should be edited out of writing unless the writer has some sort of porpoise.

"[T]he Biodiversity Heritage Library... is now offering more than 150,000 high-resolution illustrations for copyright-free download."

"These public domain images belong to an archive of more than 55 million pages of literature about earth’s species of flora and fauna. They include animal sketches, historical diagrams, botanical studies, and scientific research collected from hundreds of thousands of journals and libraries across the world. Some of the illustrations date back to the 15th century."

Hyperallergic reports.

Here's the BHL website. Here's their Flickr page. A selected image:


There's a new Quinnipiac poll, and in Wisconsin, Trump beats everybody.

By a lot:

Results here. The Democrats all beat Trump in Pennsylvania and Michigan, so I don't know what's up in Wisconsin.
"Three different states, three different scenarios, one constant - the economy. It's a top issue for voters, and it's giving President Trump a strong tailwind. Wisconsin voters give him a job approval rating above 50 percent, higher than what he receives nationally and in Pennsylvania and Michigan. These Wisconsin numbers are a red warning sign for Democrats that rebuilding the 'blue wall' in 2020 may not be so easy. But it's a long way to November," said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow.

There's all this talk about Mike Bloomberg maybe wanting to stand on a box, but did anyone notice...

... that Amy Klobuchar stood on a box?

She carefully steps down off the box at the end of the show:


Nobody else had a box.

"I really enjoyed the online community. It is this form of self care. You’re making something specifically for yourself."

"It’s going to be the color you want, it’s the fit you want, I could make exactly what I wanted.... I really enjoyed putting the puzzle together. It’s problem solving. Even when you’re advanced you have to rip it out and reorder the steps."

Said Martha Moore Porter quoted in "Making your own clothes is making a comeback. These millennial women are leading the way/A backlash against fast fashion and a preference for experiences over things has boosted the popularity of sewing" (The Lily (WaPo)).

“Wearing sunglasses and a dark fedora, Stone... strode past a giant inflatable rat dressed as Trump with a red tie and yellow hair - a common prop in street protests - and a sign calling for his pardon.”

From a Reuter’s article about the Roger Stone sentencing, happening now.

UPDATE:  3 years!

AND: I've said it before and I can say it again: "I happened to be wearing a fedora when I ran across that." (Reason for wearing a fedora while blogging explained at that link.)

ALSO: From the NYT write-up:
Judge Amy Berman Jackson excoriated Mr. Stone, saying his behavior inspired “dismay and disgust”.... She said that for months, Mr. Stone carried out a deliberate and calculated effort to hinder an important congressional inquiry by blatantly lying, hiding hundreds of documents and pressuring a fragile witness. Mr. Stone enjoys “mind games” and political gamesmanship, she said, but “nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn’t a stunt and it wasn’t a prank.”

She added, “He was not prosecuted to give anyone a political advantage. He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”...

“I am confident that, liberated from foreign domination and interference, we together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights...”

“... where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity.... We will take all measures in partnership with other Afghans to make sure the new Afghanistan is a bastion of stability and that nobody feels threatened on our soil.... We acknowledge the importance of maintaining friendly relations with all countries and take their concerns seriously.... We will remain committed to all international conventions as long as they are compatible with Islamic principles.... We are about to sign an agreement with the United States and we are fully committed to carrying out its every single provision, in letter and spirit.... Once it is entirely fulfilled, Afghans will see the departure of all foreign troops.... We would then celebrate a new beginning that invites all our compatriots to return from their exile to our country — to our shared home where everybody would have the right to live with dignity, in peace.”

Writes Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban, in the NYT.

"I’m panicked. I’m absolutely panicked."

That's Donny Deutsch, and his name is trending on Twitter right now, because of this clip.

But keep listening and you'll hear Morning Joe, and he's doing the same kind of if-Trump-could-do-it reasoning that I was telling you about 3 days ago, here:
I like listening to "Morning Joe" on my car radio as I drive back home after my sunrise run. This is a 5 minute drive and about all I can tolerate, but it's good for giving me a sense of what Democrats are freaking out about at the moment. Today, they were tormenting themselves over Mike Bloomberg. He's got race-and-gender problems, but so did Trump. He's a billionaire, but so is Trump. If Trump did it, shouldn't that mean Bloomberg can do it?

I don't think they've faced up to why Trump was able to do what he did. Without first giving Trump credit, they're in no position to say so then Mike can do it too. It sounded to me as though they think of Trump as evidence that weird magic things happen. So, why not Mike? At the very least, they should recognize that Trump had a powerful skill in knocking down rivals on the debate stage, and Bloomberg has yet to set foot on the stage....
Well, now we've seen Bloomberg on the debate stage, and today, Morning Joe is using the same form of defective reasoning to try to bolster hopes about Bernie Sanders.

Oft-ridiculed for his typos, Trump gets a little fun revenge.

"I tried to watch but kept switching to 'Dr. Strangelove' on Turner Movie Channel. Much better acting and the plot was far more hopeful."

Writes Owen in the comments to this morning's post, "Mini Mike Bloomberg’s debate performance tonight was perhaps the worst in the history of debates, and there have been some really bad ones."

Somebody tell Mike Bloomberg that Roseanne Barr was kicked off her own show for telling a joke some people didn't like.

At last night's debate, Elizabeth Warren challenged Mike Bloomberg about the women — who knows how many? — who worked for Bloomberg and have signed nondisclosure agreements over sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims. She wasn't accepting his prepared response that there are many other women who've done quite well in his organization
WARREN: I hope you heard what his defense was. "I've been nice to some women." That just doesn't cut it.... So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?

BLOOMBERG: We have a very few nondisclosure agreements.

WARREN: How many is that?

BLOOMBERG: Let me finish.

WARREN: How many is that?

BLOOMBERG: None of them accuse me of doing anything, other than maybe they didn't like a joke I told. And let me just -- and let me -- there's agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that's up to them. They signed those agreements, and we'll live with it.
"We" will live with it? Fine. We'll live with it and your presidential campaign will die with it.

At this point in the debate, Biden calls out "Come on," and for once, I'm enjoying the Bidenism, which I would translate as: What bullshit!

How can Bloomberg live in the Democrats' America and not realize that telling a bad joke is cause for cancellation — banishment from your own well-established professional life? Here he is, expecting to make a big step up professionally, and he thinks he can shrug off a mere joke in the old male chauvinist style that would have us picture women as priggish and humor deaf. Quite aside from sexism, the old man is not up to speed with his own culture. How could he think he could get off the hook when Roseanne Barr — who ran for President in 2012 — got banished for one joke? The notion that jokes don't matter is profoundly out of touch.
WARREN: So, wait, when you say it is up to -- I just want to be clear. Some is how many? And -- and when you -- and when you say they signed them and they wanted them, if they wish now to speak out and tell their side of the story about what it is they allege, that's now OK with you? You're releasing them on television tonight? Is that right?
I love the lawprof vigor Warren displayed there. She listened to what he said and she instantly spun it into questions that displayed how defective his answer was and put him on the spot:

"Mini Mike Bloomberg’s debate performance tonight was perhaps the worst in the history of debates, and there have been some really bad ones."

What I'm trying to understand at the moment instead of last night's debate.

Why did Buttigieg go for the 5-o'clock-shadow look at last night's debate? It's the look that famously hurt Nixon!

To show you how it looked, I'll just give you a clip that happens to be one of my favorite moments. It begins with Amy Klobuchar  — "Are you trying to say that I'm dumb? Are you mocking me?" I can't even remember what that was about. I just think it's funny. Reminds me of that "Do I amuse you?" scene in "Goodfellas":

Anyway, Buttigieg clearly chose to display beard stubble. Why?! I've been hearing for 60 years that Nixon made a horrible blunder going on TV with 5-o'clock shadow.

But let's get a little correction from the Richard Nixon Foundation:
RN was not recovering from the flu, but from an infected knee. He was clean-shaven, though his complexion tended to give the impression of a five o’clock shadow. While the recently-hospitalized RN did not look his best, he hardly had the death’s-door appearance of legend. (When I show video of the debate to students, they wonder what the big deal was about.) JFK was youthful, but so was RN, who was only four years older....
Obviously, candidates learned long ago that they needed to tend to their appearance. Lighting and makeup are important, and you'd think every single man would go with a super clean shave. Don't make the Nixon mistake!

So why did Buttigieg decide — and it has to be a deliberate decision — to go with visible stubble?

One reason that seems very clear is that his problem is that he may be too young. As you can see from that quote from the Nixon Foundation, Nixon's problem was that he looked tired and old next to the youthful John Kennedy. Buttigieg is much younger than anyone else, so it was in his interest to look older.

I can think of other reasons. Stubble is masculinizing, and he might want to make a strongly masculine impression to defend against whatever prejudice against gay men is at play in voters minds.

And he might want to cancel out the Alfred E. Newman impression he makes on some people ... including President Trump:

Alfred E. Neuman is a beardless doofus. I mean, occasionally he sports a beard...

... but that's not the image that springs to mind. And it's not stubble.

February 19, 2020

Let’s talk about the Democratic debate... now, with Bloomberg.

It starts at 8 Central Time, and there’s a Trump rally starting at the same time. That’s all too late for me even to consider live-blogging, but I may write something tonight. Don’t expect much from me until tomorrow.

ADDED: My son John is live-blogging here. I’ll just say it’s awfully chaotic, with way too much Angry Bernie face. And I really can’t stand to hear them go on about health care. And by the way, Bloomberg blew his chance to make a decent first impression. He’s dull and he looks like death. Who did his makeup?

Our Tornado.

At the Snowman Café...


... you can talk about anything.

Birds... hats...

"If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she or it can go to the locker room with their daughter, that’s not a winning formula for most people."

Said Mike Bloomberg, just last year:

Via "‘Some guy wearing a dress’: Bloomberg reference to transgender people in 2019 video prompts outcry" (WaPo).

The "he, she, or it" is especially bad.

But if you like the kind of blunt speech we've been getting from Trump, you might welcome a Democratic candidate who does the same thing.

But it's inconsistent with Mike's presentation of himself as the one who speaks in a "presidential" style, as he does in this ad, which the Slate author who ranked all the Bloomberg ads put at #1. Here's the ad — sorry I can't find a version with embed code) — "Bring 'Presidential' Back."

That ad, hilariously, features LBJ (along with JFK) as the model of "presidential" speech. The most uplifting LBJ/JFK snippets are intercut with Trump's crudest lines (including the grab-them-by-their-pussy line that wasn't even part of a public presentation). But LBJ was notorious for very crude speech.

The Bloomberg ad shows LBJ's "We shall overcome," but (from MSNBC (censored by me)):

"I’ve written hundreds of stories, blog posts, magazine articles and, finally, a book on Blagojevich’s case. There was one sentiment I heard over and over again..."

"... which went something like, 'I know Blagojevich was guilty as hell but 14 years is insane.' That’s why President Donald Trump likely risks little political blowback by commuting the sentence of his onetime Apprentice contestant, even in the state that Blagojevich disgraced."

Writes Natasha Korecki in Politico.

And here's Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker, "The Trouble with Donald Trump's Clemencies and Pardons":
Authoritarianism is usually associated with a punitive spirit—a leader who prosecutes and incarcerates his enemies. But there is another side to this leadership style. Authoritarians also dispense largesse, but they do it by their own whims, rather than pursuant to any system or legal rule. The point of authoritarianism is to concentrate power in the ruler, so the world knows that all actions, good and bad, harsh and generous, come from a single source. That’s the real lesson—a story of creeping authoritarianism—of today’s commutations and pardons by President Trump....

[T]he pardons were entirely personal in origin.... A benevolent leader dispensed favors.... In this era of mass incarceration, many people deserve pardons and commutations, but this is not the way to go about it. 
Here's Wikipedia's list of Trump's pardons and commutations. Did Toobin just look at yesterday's announcements? It seems to me that Trump has granted clemency to some ordinary but deserving people caught in our "mass incarceration."

Toobin concludes:
All Trump has done is to prove that he can reward his friends and his friends’ friends. The chilling corollary is that he knows he can punish his enemies, too.
Granting clemency is a normal part of executive power, an explicit provision of the Constitution. Did Toobin indulge in this kind of "chilling corollary" reasoning when Obama was President?

By the way, why didn't Obama commute Blagojevich's sentence?

"President Trump’s job performance rating of +4 points is the highest it has been since he took office."

"This month’s poll [February 16-18] finds him at 48% approval and 44% disapproval, up from last month’s 47% approval and 48% disapproval. Emerson College Polling found Trump at 48% approval in December 2019, November 2019, and February 2017 as well but his disapproval numbers are lower now than they’ve ever been before.... In potential head-to-head match-ups, Trump leads 4 of his 5 democratic rivals, trailing only against Sanders 51% to 49%. The President leads Biden 52% to 48% and leads Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar 51% to 49%."

Emerson reports.

Here's the Real Clear Politics average of polls for the last 6 months:

Is that because of impeachment or in spite of it?

ADDED: The 7-day time frame highlights the recent upswing:

"I Watched 185 Mike Bloomberg Ads/And I figured out what this weird, expensive, suddenly ubiquitous campaign is trying to do."

Writes Justin Peters (at Slate), in case you're wondering what all those Bloomberg ads are. I was. I'd only seen a couple Bloomberg ads, because I skip ads. I avert my eyes. Sometimes I see that an ad is being talked about and I go out of my way to find it, but only because I want to blog about. I have my wits about me and I'm analytical and critical and inclined to make fun. But what's going on with the people who do let ads wash over them? I can't imagine. Are they influenced? What is Mike doing with all his money?

Well, this Slate accumulation of all the ads is a helpful place to start. I have no idea if these things are ranked correctly — whatever that means — other than that I'm sure they're not. One viewer can only give his opinion and these ads are intended for micro-targeting voters. That's what makes it interesting to get in there and find things that you know weren't made for you but for somebody else. Or to find things that appeal to you, like, for me "Big Gay Ice Cream":

I love ice cream. It's my #1 favorite food. And I'm as gay friendly as a nongay person can be. And I have an aversion to politics, so this ad is great. It does nothing but show the candidate eating ice cream, saying "mmmm," and calling it "Big Gay Ice Cream." I'm going to assume that's a brand name and not just a way to say excellent ice cream.

I notice the title of the ad is "Mike Love Big Gay Ice Cream." Is that bad grammar, intentional caveman/baby talk, or a Beach Boys reference? Mike pays so much that I can't imagine a plain vanilla mistake.

Okay, let's see what the Slate writer has to say. He ranks this ad as #10 (out of 185):
In its lonely quest to make the internet believe that Rich Mike, who wears expensive purple sweaters and spends lots of time in Bermuda, is Weird Self-Aware Mike, Bloomberg’s team has released several low-budget, shot-in-a-minute spots in which the candidate stands in a campaign office and woodenly endorses various foodstuffs and/or holidays. This message, in which Bloomberg calls out for ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream—an ice cream store in New York—is my favorite of these, in part because never before has someone seemed so wooden and odd while touting the virtues of ice cream. Bloomberg comes across like Mr. Burns in that one Simpsons episode where he had his first taste of “iced cream.” Oh, Weird Mike, you awkward, lovable, billionaire scamp!
By the way, the real Mike Love is almost a vegan, but he says, "I will succumb to an ice-cream shake." He likes "A Cold Stone Creamery coffee shake. I have a hard time passing that up."

What's my point here? It's: Who the hell knows what is going on with all these ads sloshing around in the mind of the American voter?

"In her defense of Weinstein, attorney Donna Rotunno attempted to put something of a post-feminist spin on the case, arguing that women must take responsibility — 'autonomy,' is a word she repeated..."

"... for choices like meeting men in hotel rooms for the sake of career advancement. Rotunno recently told a New York Times podcast that she had never been sexually assaulted because she never put herself 'in the position' to be assaulted. 'Regret,' she told the jury last week, is 'renamed as rape' by the accusers. Joan Illuzzi, the Assistant District Attorney serving as lead prosecutor in the trial, described a different universe altogether, one in which young, vulnerable women, financially struggling and attempting to succeed in the ferociously difficult business of Hollywood, were preyed upon by a man whose power was as outsized as his body was large.... On its way to those verdicts, though, the jury has any number of threads to untangle.... Why did Mann and Haley maintain friendly contact with Weinstein after, they say, he assaulted them?... Did Mann tell a friend that Weinstein gave her the best orgasm she’d ever had on the night she says he forcibly performed oral sex on her? If so, doesn’t that indicate consent?... "

From "No Verdict Today In Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial; What The Jury Could Be Thinking" (Deadline).

Amy Klobuchar gets a second chance to say the name of the president of Mexico, and she still can't say "Andrés Manuel López Obrador."

She pronounces "Andrés" as "Andre" — no "s" and the accent on the first syllable:

It's like Ron Blagojevich trying to prove to Donald Trump that he can name the houses in Harry Potter's Hogwarts School:

He says "It's Slithering and it's Hufflepuff and it's Ravencloth." But it's Slitherin and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

Blagojevich only needed to impress Trump. (He failed.) There were no Hogwarts voters to feel alienated by his inability to pronounce Hogwarts names.

Klobuchar needs to impress Hispanic voters, and saying "Andre" for "Andrés" feels as though you have no experience with people who speak Spanish.  Or even just the Spanish language, with its super-simple pronunciation rules. The way she grins while saying it wrong is so disturbing.

ADDED: If you keep watching the Klobuchar clip — which I finally did — you'll see she proceeds from her proud pronunciation of the name to blathering about why she got it wrong, and it's the worst possible answer! She says she'd had a very long busy day, and she was tired. She lists events "ending about 2 or 3 in the morning."

3 in the morning! That's the precise time that we've been saying a President needs to be ready to go, completely up for the most challenging tasks!

February 18, 2020

At the New Snow Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

And here's a little snow panorama (click and click again to enlarge):


Weird when multiple paragraphs of something you write off the top of your head making casual references to things heard on the radio and mouthing off about other people freaking out..."

... gets published in the Wall Street Journal. But actually I like it. It's much better than in the old days when MSM would see something I blogged and telephone me and invite me to redo it as an op-ed and I'd be ambitious enough to want to do it and then stuck with the conventions of op-editedness.

Here's the post I wrote yesterday. This got published at The Wall Street Journal (here, behind a pay wall and with some elisions, which I'll put in red):

"boned... too much..."

"These Crows Evolved Into a New Species, Boned the Old Species Too Much, Now Back Where They Started" (Gizmodo).

Made me think of this great song:

Ooh, and it's alright and it's coming on
We gotta get right back to where we started from
Love is good, love can be strong
We gotta get right back to where we started from

NOTICED AFTER PUBLISHING: The science story is about crows and the singer is named Nightingale. I love accidental rhymes like that. And love is good, love can be strong... and who's to say when you've "boned... too much..."?

NOW: You might wonder, Althouse, if you're reminded of a "get back" song, why isn't it "Get Back" by The Beatles, which is much more within your zone of familiarity? The easy answer is that the headline has "where they started," so that's much closer to Nightingale's song. But I'm going to quote some "Get Back" lyrics because there's a bird in the song:
Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman
But she was another man
All the girls around her say she's got it coming
But she gets it while she can
Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged...
Get back, Loretta
See the bird?

CC JJ Cadiz

A glimpse behind the scenes at Althouse.

Just a stray example of the sort of comment that doesn't make it through moderation:

Spam comments tend to begin with a big compliment. Some of the real commenters here begin with a compliment. I wonder if they realize how much they're matching up with the spam I see every day.

ADDED: Feel free to debate the general proposition: Compliments are spam.

If it's a good idea to put Harriet Tubman's image on U.S. currency, why isn't it also okay to use her on this debit card? Is it that the user is a bank? Or is it that hand gesture?

I'm reading "This Black-Owned Bank Put Harriet Tubman on a Debit Card and Social Media Lost It/OneUnited president and artist stand behind the design" (AdWeek).

AdWeek quotes 2 tweeters:

• "Harriet didn’t die for this" — Didn't die for black people to own banks and to have their own money and to spend it conveniently? What is freedom? Does it not include the freedom to amass wealth and to engage in commercial transactions and to do so with the convenience of a debit card?

• "Let me guess. A white marketing executive from Beverly Hills came up with the idea of a Harriet Tubman Visa Debit Card doing the Wakanda Forever salute" — But, we are told, the artist, Addonis Parker, says he started the painting before the movie came out and intended the gesture as "love" in American Sign Language. Compare:

The president of OneUnited Bank, Teri Williams says:

“When the decision was made to delay putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, we said we think that we have a role to play here because we can actually put her on a global payment instrument.... We put out many images that are unapologetically black... [b]ecause we believe that it’s important for us to celebrate our culture and to communicate to the world that Black money matters.... This is who we are. We’re black all day, every day.... We’re here for our community, and our focus is really on being unapologetically and authentically black."
You might think the image should look more like what the Treasury Department proposed for the $20:

But the black-owned bank — "unapologetically and authentically black" — chose an image painted by a black artist.

"With the race looking more and more likely to grow bitter and messy, and maybe even wind up in a contested convention, the former president..."

"... and those around him are increasingly sure he will need to play a prominent role in bringing the party back together and calming its tensions later this summer, including perhaps in Milwaukee, where the party’s meeting is scheduled to be held in July. So he is committed to not allowing his personal thoughts to dribble out in the meantime, directly or via leaks, conscious of how any sense that he’s taking sides in intraparty disputes could rock the primary in the short run and potentially undermine his ability to play this larger role in the months ahead.... While he’s following the race by reading newspaper reports, he’s been disengaged with its day-to-day dynamics, sure that he’ll have to catch up on them later this year anyway — he doesn’t even make a point of watching the debates... Even if he felt like speaking out against Sanders specifically, he knows such a statement would likely ruin his standing on the left and almost certainly divide the party just when it needs uniting, according to multiple people who’ve spoken with him about the race. Obama and those around him 'have a very clear understanding that if they put their finger on the scale right now, all of a sudden half of the Democratic Party hates him,' an influential Democrat who keeps in touch with Obama explained.... This time around, Obama has sought to make sure the full field of Democratic candidates understands his intention to be both neutral and passive.... Obama’s aversion to TV news hasn’t abated now that he has enough time on his hands that he’s compared himself to Neo, the time-slowing Keanu Reeves character from The Matrix, say people who’ve been spending time with him. If he’s in front of a television, they say, he’s probably watching sports."

From "What Obama Is Saying in Private About the Democratic Primary" (NY Magazine).

ADDED: I feel like Obama — I have an aversion to TV news and I am taking a position of cruel neutrality.

In the new NPR/Marist poll, Bernie is at 31% and second-place goes to Bloomberg, who gets 19%, enough to put him in tomorrow's debate.

Bloomberg needed a 4th poll giving him at least 10% nationally, and now he has it.

3rd and 4th places go to Biden (15%) and Warren (12%), and both of them are moving downward — Biden down 9 points and Warren down 5. Buttigieg and Klobuchar are both below 10% — the cut-off point for qualifying for the debate if you're qualifying on national polls.

(You can also qualify for this debate by hitting 12% in 2 polls from SC or Nevada or by having already won a delegate. Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden have all won delegates — 23, 21, 8, 7, and 6, respectively.)

High stakes for tomorrow's debate! This is where people will decide if Bloomberg deserves to become the focus of all the stop-Bernie action. If he doesn't, that action will continue to be diffused over 5 candidates, unless one of the other 4 — Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, or Biden — suddenly emerges as the one to back. It's hard to see how anyone other than Bloomberg has a shot at becoming The One, so the anti-Bernie anti-Trumpsters have got to be looking at Bloomberg with an absurd amount of expectation.

It's hard to see how he can do well enough in the debate for that to happen. I think the 5 — that is, all the Democratic non-Bernies — will simply try to keep a majority away from Bernie and position themselves to win at the convention. That's 5 months away. And then there are only 3 1/2 months before the election. Democrats need a way to get through the next 5 months without devolving into brand-destroying chaos. Unless Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden get together and pick one of them to go forward, the answer is going to be Bloomberg.

Unless he's awful at that debate.

And won't Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden all try to make him look awful?

I would advise Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, and Biden to get together and pick one. But they need to do it soon. If I picture those 4 huddling and really trying to decide which of the 4 of them should take up the banner of moderate anti-Trumpism, I see the choice as Amy Klobuchar. She's the best age (59), she's female, and she's got a long record in the Senate. But that's too sensible, isn't it? The Democrats are so keyed up to fight that they're not going to accept mere sensibleness.

And yet mere sensibleness is also all Bloomberg purports to be. But he's spending billions to make that feel good, good enough to let go of the crazy excitement that is Bernie Sanders.

And Donald Trump.

Here's an article at Politico about Bloomberg's debate prep:
[H]is team is working to get him to project comfort and composure in the line of fire, while portraying him as the toughest Democrat to take on Donald Trump. Howard Wolfson, the veteran Democratic strategist who joined Bloomberg’s orbit in 2009 after working on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race, is playing the role of Sanders... Wolfson joked that his inspiration for Sanders came from watching “Statler and Waldorf,” the cantankerous elderly Muppets who lob critiques from their balcony seats...
How much did Bloomie pay him for that?
Bloomberg is trying to hone a crisp and energetic appeal to voters that will contrast with Biden— another white, male septuagenarian on stage, according to advisers. Other potential pitfalls for Bloomberg are his tendency to use dated language — words like “bawdy,” for instance — to dismiss concerns about his financial news service’s work culture for female employees....
So.... understanding the sexual harassment problem as a problem of using "dated language" and understanding one's opponents in terms of really old TV puppet shows. You can have billions of dollars to spend but you can only buy what's out there for sale. And Bloomberg — who, if elected, will make a lot of hiring decisions — found Wolfson, the man who helped Hillary lose.

February 17, 2020

A dark Monday sunrise — 7:00 a.m.


Actual sunrise time: 6:54.

What really crosses the line...

I found that because I loved this: