February 29, 2020

At the Sunrise-in-the-Woods Café...


Talk about anything you like... except the South Carolina primary. Go one post down for that.


The first photo shows the owl-tree — sans owl. The photos were taken at 6:41. Actual sunrise time was 6:35.

Biden wins South Carolina by a lot.

I'm reading the results at FiveThirty Eight, here.

ADDED: Finally, somebody got a majority somewhere.

UPDATE: In the end, Biden didn't cross the 50% line. He got 48.4%. The Real Clear Politics average of the polls had him at 39.7%, so he was way ahead of expectations.

"As mayor, he famously chose not to live in Gracie Mansion, preferring the comforts of his 79th Street compound, though not everyone is impressed by his old-world décor..."

"'The first time I went to Mike’s house, I was surprised to find the décor very much like a child’s idea of what a rich man’s house would look like,' says an acquaintance. 'Very Citizen Kane.' He kept his social life mostly intact, spending weekends golfing at his home in Bermuda. 'Mike gets loosey-goosey on wine, visibly shining, but if you really try to get him to open up then, sure enough he gets flustered and retreats into his shell,' says a reporter. Bloomberg’s children, Georgina and Emma, are opposites. Georgina, 37, is an equestrian and private-plane-flying Instagram bombshell who, when her dad said he wasn’t going to run for president in March, posted a picture of a faux campaign sticker, reading BLOOMBERG: BECAUSE FUCK THIS SHIT, with the caption 'officially back to being just our family slogan.' Emma, 40, is a policy wonk who runs an education nonprofit. When I meet her in a hotel lobby near Bloomberg HQ, she’s all Tribeca-mom elegance: her brown hair slightly lightened, arms sculpted, and many tiny diamonds adorning her ears and climbing from wrists to forearms."

A nearly random excerpt from "Nevertheless, He Persists The ego and the altruism of Mike Bloomberg" (New York Magazine).

"If purple walls and a red tinted window surrounded you for a month with no color but purple around you, by the end of that time you would be a mad-man."

"No matter how strong your brain might be it would not stand the strain, and it is doubtful if you would ever recover your reason."

Said the Boston Globe in a 1903 article titled "Dangerous Tints: Some Colors Will Drive a Person Mad if the Eyes Are Continually Looking at Them," quoted in "15 Perfectly Safe Things That Were Once Considered Dangerous" (Mental Floss).
[Purple] wasn't the only color to avoid. Scarlet could push you into a murderous rage, while blue “excites the imagination and gives a craving for music and stagecraft, but it has a reaction that wrecks the nerves.” Meanwhile, “Solitary confinement in a yellow cell … will weaken any system and produce chronic hysteria,” and “sheer dead white, unbroken, will destroy your eyesight.”
Sounds like the key is to vary your colors. What drives you mad is the monotone. Do we really know the effect of one-intense-color interiors on people who stay inside all the time?

This question makes me think of Monet's all-yellow (almost) dining room at Giverny:

I love that, but if you lived there, you wouldn't be in a solitary confinement cell. Look at those open doors. You can un-yellow at the first frisson of hysteria. Just run out into the green. "Green is the king of colors... and no amount of it can do any harm."

The one person in Wisconsin with coronavirus has recovered.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

"While parents watch their kids’ games or dance classes, they strategize and share information in ways that help their kids."

"They’ll talk about how to get their children into the gifted classes and who the best math tutors are. In a nutshell, extracurriculars are 'where parents network with each other'... The downside: The kids whose parents can’t afford extracurriculars, and who don’t have the opportunity to network in these ways, might be missing out. Furthermore, the pressure parents put on kids and teens to excel may undermine their mental health.... But... should feel free to enroll our kids in activities they might benefit from and that they enjoy. But we need to let our kids be kids, too...."

From "Are Expensive Activities for Kids a Rip-Off?/Circus school?!" (NYT).

Reading between the lines, I can't help thinking the messages is: Sure, keep fighting for advantages for your own kids, and don't worry about the less privileged kids whose parents can't afford it or can't or won't spend their time networking with other parents who are supercharging their kids for success.

Somehow, reading that article made me think of this thing I was reading yesterday: "8 Fun (and Possibly Dangerous) Activities Enjoyed by Past Generations That Today's Kids Will Never Experience" by Megan Fox (PJ Media). I especially identified with #8: "Play all day with no adult supervision, roaming neighborhoods and friends' houses until dark":

"I got about half way through this and realized I have absolutely no interest in these Instagram accounts, or the mystery — whatever it is."

That's the second-highest-rated comment on the really long NYT article, "A Royal Instagram Mystery/Two royal couples, two Instagram accounts, one conspiracy theory."

The highest-rated comment is:
I know I'm alone in my thinking but having a "brand" and putting your entire life on Instagram (owned by Facebook) strikes me as quite tawdry, especially when you exploit your children in the process. Whether a Royal or a Hollywood star, the shamelessness, the egomaniacal way famous people present themselves in order to self promote and make money is sickening. Whatever happened to mystery, decorum, privacy, and discretion? I do not go on Instagram and never will. It also seems so hypocritical that Meghan left England because she did not want to be the focus of the British press but she is doing all she can to become as famous as possible. You can't seek fame and then complain about the scrutiny you might receive.

"The dissent suggests that Congress cannot fend for itself... [but] Congress can tailor its sanctions to the gravity of the Executive Branch’s offense."

"A congressional inquiry may begin and end with a polite request for information. Or a chamber of Congress may escalate by, say, issuing a formal subpoena, threatening to withhold appropriations, or passing articles of impeachment. By the same token, the Executive Branch’s interest in reaching a mutually agreeable compromise should grow as Congress turns up the heat.... This political process also offers an array of possible resolutions in interbranch disputes—a diverse set of compromises and accommodations. For instance, the Executive Branch might agree to waive executive privilege if the Legislative Branch narrows its document request. Or if the dispute concerns an official’s testimony, the Executive Branch might agree to allow an official to answer written interrogatories or to testify in private.... The dissent’s approach would eliminate this dynamic system of escalating political sanctions and flexible settlements. When a lawsuit is the end-game of any interbranch dispute, the response to an overbroad subpoena isn’t 'Let’s talk' but 'We’ll see you in court.' And the resolution of such a dispute isn’t a negotiated compromise—one that leaves everyone a little dissatisfied—but a rigid judicial judgment.."

From D.C. Circuit the majority opinion (PDF) in the case of the House Judiciary Committee against former White House Counsel Don McGahn. President Trump claimed an absolute privilege to bar McGahn from testifying, and the Committee attempted to use the court to enforce its subpoena. You remember that during the impeachment trial, Trump's lawyers argued that it was wrong to accuse him of obstruction of Congress when the House had not gone to the courts to get an authoritative answer to the question whether he really did have the executive privilege he claimed. Now, at least according to this 3-judge panel, we can see that the judiciary would not resolve the dispute because the House committee does not have the standing that would make this a real "case or controversy" within the meaning of the "judicial power" defined in Article III of the Constitution.

We didn't get any sort of answer to the question what is the scope of executive privilege. The court is defining its own role, and even though a lot of people, during the impeachment proceedings, seemed to think that it's exactly the court's role to say what the law is and let us know how much executive privilege the President has and whether his resistance to Congress was a lofty protection of the power of the Executive Branch or a scurrilous thwarting of the power of the Legislative Branch, the court stopped at the threshold question of the power of the Judicial Branch.

No standing. That's a constitutional decision and it is — as the 2 circuit court judges said — not susceptible to a balancing test about how much we want or could benefit from an answer to the question. The part I quoted above works to say... and that's okay. The court follows a strict standing analysis because it's constitutional law and because it's better this way. It's better because it will be resolved through political back and forth. Interestingly enough, the tools of that political process include impeachment:
[A] chamber of Congress may escalate by, say, issuing a formal subpoena, threatening to withhold appropriations, or passing articles of impeachment.  

"The United States signed a deal with the Taliban on Saturday that sets the stage to end America’s longest war..."

"... the nearly two-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11 attacks, killed tens of thousands of people, vexed three White House administrations and left mistrust and uncertainty on all sides.... The war in Afghanistan in some ways echoes the American experience in Vietnam. In both, a superpower bet heavily on brute strength and the lives of its young, then walked away with seemingly little to show. American efforts to instill a democratic system in the country, and to improve opportunities for women and minorities, are at risk if the Taliban, which banned girls from schools and women from public life, become dominant again. Corruption is still rampant, the country’s institutions are feeble, and the economy is heavily dependent on American and other international aid.... The withdrawal of American troops — about 13,000 are still in Afghanistan — is dependent on the Taliban’s fulfillment of major commitments that have been obstacles for years, including its severance of ties with international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.... The Trump administration has framed the deal as the long-awaited promise made to war-weary Americans, for whom the Afghan war has defined a generation of loss and trauma but has yielded no victory."

The NYT reports.

"Three people have died after dry ice was poured into a swimming pool at a party in Moscow on Friday...."

"Dry ice had been dumped in the pool after guests exiting the sauna complained it was too warm.... Several guests who had been in the sauna dived into the water to cool off. Immediately the swimmers started to choke and several lost consciousness.... Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide and if it is released in an area without proper ventilation, it can cause people to inhale dangerous amounts of the gas."

BBC reports.

The deceptiveness of Politico's claim that Trump called the coronavirus "a hoax."

I watched the Trump rally last night, so I knew as soon as I saw this that it was a serious distortion. Headline: "Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.'"

Here's how the text quotes him:
"The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They're politicizing it,” he said. “They don't have any clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa. No, they can't. They can't count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”

Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.”
The fact that the quote doesn't continue and  "Then Trump called the coronavirus" is inserted before "their new hoax" should make you suspicious, whether you've heard the original or not. But the purportedly verbatim text above it is not, in fact, verbatim.

Here's the original:

I'll have more to say about all that is left out. But let me give you this for now.

ADDED: Let me do a transcription, restoring the words that Politico elided (without using ellipses to show where they're dropping words and changing the flow of the meaning). The embedded video above has its own cuts, so I found uncut video. Here:

Trump is clearly not calling the virus a hoax. What he's calling a hoax is the political talking point that Trump has been failing to protect the country from the virus!

Now, Politico is pushing a hoax hoax — it's putting out a false story about what Trump called a hoax.

Trump is certainly not "rall[ying] his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.'" Trump is rallying his base to believe that he's doing an excellent job of handling the problem and to see the criticism of his work as a hoax. He's not saying they should "treat" the virus as a hoax!

AND: Here's my transcription, with boldface for what Politico left out:
"Now, the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They're politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say: 'How's President Trump doing?' They're going: 'Oh, nothing, nothing.' They have no clue. They don't have any clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa. They can't even count. No, they can't. They can't count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn't work out too well. They couldn't do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They've been doing it since you got in. It's all turning. They lost. It's all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax. But you know, we did something that's been pretty amazing. There's 15 people in this massive country, and because of the fact that we went early. We went early. We could've had a lot more than that. We're doing great. Our country is doing so great. We are so unified. We are so unified. The Republican Party has never been more unified than it is now." 
PLUS: Trump really is hard to transcribe. And when you see the transcription, you see the strangeness of his speech. It's impressionistic — short phrases with easy words and lots of repetition. I think it's mesmerizing if you're on his side and incredibly annoying if you are not. He jumps from one idea to the next and makes things feel as though they go together — if you're with him. If you are not, it's crazy talk. Word salad. And you may be grossed out by the people who love the salad. I'm writing from a position of cruel neutrality. I like observing how this salad is made, and I understand liking it and resenting people who don't get it, but I also understand the people who are horrified.

Let me tear into that paragraph. I object to the deceptions in the Politico presentation, but I also see that Trump doesn't make it easy for reporters who are trying to tell it straight. I would suspect that Trump is deliberately laying down traps for them so they'll screw up and he can hit them again for being "fake news." But I've listened to him so many times, talking for so long, and I tend to believe he just flows words and this is the form they take. It's working for him, and he keeps it up and gets energized and inflated by his own distinctive stylings.

But forget Politico for now. I know I've got an accurate transcription, so let me move forward and just criticize this text:
Now, the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. 
This is the big thesis. The implication is that the other party is politicizing something that should not be part of politics, but he's criticizing his political rivals, and that's political too. There's an inherent contradiction.
You know that, right? Coronavirus. They're politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say: 'How's President Trump doing?' They're going: 'Oh, nothing, nothing.' They have no clue. They don't have any clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa. The can't even count. No, they can't. They can't count their votes. 
The can't-count-Iowa line is something he plugs in whenever he wants to note that the Democrats are incompetent. It's a little hard to follow: How did Iowa get mixed in with coronavirus? But I'm used to his rhetoric. Instead of saying the Democrats are incompetent, he leaps back to this notable instance of incompetence. He's using very simple language, but he still trusts listeners to keep track of what's being talked about. Suddenly, we're in Iowa and when you think he might quickly get back to the coronavirus, he's off to Russia:
One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn't work out too well. They couldn't do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. 
"Russia" stands for the proposition that the Democrats are out to get him: They'll take whatever raw material appears and they'll beat it into an anti-Trump weapon. They tried Russia, and when that didn't work, they tried Ukraine (AKA the impeachment). His next line states the generality:
They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They've been doing it since you got in. It's all turning. They lost. It's all turning. Think of it. Think of it. 
That repeated line, "It's all turning," is the most dreamily impressionistic line in the passage. It's like a line from a psychedelic tune by The Byrds. I sense that it's a view of the swirl of thoughts inside his head, but he's trying, I think, to create a picture of the dizzy disorientation in the mind of Democrats. They're losing everything! Think of it!

As they spin and tumble, they're grasping after anything, everything:
And this is their new hoax.
But all he means is that they're saying he did a bad job — and, of course, they will — when he really did a good job:
But you know, we did something that's been pretty amazing. There's 15 people in this massive country, and because of the fact that we went early. We went early. We could've had a lot more than that.
That is, we've only found 15 people with coronavirus in the U.S., and without the things he did, we might have had a lot more. He doesn't specify what he did, other than that he did it "early." From there, he jumps to the most generic statement of his overarching idea of American greatness:
We're doing great. Our country is doing so great. 
Then he says something that's completely out of line with the idea that the Democrats are out to get him for anything that happens:
We are so unified. We are so unified. 
Thanks for the repetition, but how can that be true? Oh, I see:
The Republican Party has never been more unified than it is now.
"We" = the Republicans.

February 28, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Mick Mulvaney... blamed the media for exaggerating the seriousness of coronavirus because 'they think this will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about.'"

The NYT reports on remarks by the acting White House chief of staff at the Conservative Political Action Conference today.
Mr. Mulvaney also criticized the news media for generally not wanting to portray Mr. Trump in a positive light. But he chose a bizarre example, claiming it refuses to cover what he described as Mr. Trump’s loving relationship with his 13-year-old son, Barron.... “[T]he press would never show you that because it doesn’t fit that image of him, the press wants him to be this terrible monster.”

"A high school student created a fake 2020 candidate. Twitter verified it."

CNN reports.
After Twitter announced in December that it would give a blue checkmark to verify all 2020 congressional and gubernatorial candidates, the high school senior decided to test how the company was verifying that candidates really were who they said they were -- and if they existed in the first place.

"During Christmas break I was kind of bored and I learned a lot from history class [about Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election]..." the high school student told CNN....

For the photograph of the fake candidate, he said he downloaded a picture from a website called This Person Does Not Exist....

"The [Bloomberg] campaign is simultaneously a sophisticated, well-funded effort to win the presidency and a bizarre grift that allows staffers to enjoy catered meals and six-figure incomes. "

"It has inspired some people to get involved in politics and is at least attempting to create the framework for a real volunteer effort. But it also shows off that ground game to reporters with a Potemkin canvass that seems like a cobbled-together public relations exercise rather than a window into an organic grassroots effort.... If Joe Biden loses South Carolina to Bernie Sanders on Saturday, three days before Super Tuesday, it has the potential to turn the race into a binary choice, and that’s the type of campaign Bloomberg seems to be building. It’s designed to make the pitch to Democrats that if they have to pick between two septuagenarian Semites with questionable ties to the party, Bloomberg is the lesser of two evils. It’s not a campaign of inspiration or passion. It’s one of calculation. After all, Bloomberg is not spending the money to buy love. It just has to make him more tolerable than Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump."

From "Michael Bloomberg’s North Carolina Game Is Seriously Unlike Anything Else/The Super Tuesday state is the former New York mayor’s best shot at primary delegates — and he knows it" (Medium).

What does it mean that I put up a picture of a beautiful sunrise and the first comment contains the words "full panic mode"?

1. It means that Trump Derangement Syndrome has burst out into a raging pandemic that includes the coronavirus and anything else that comes along. (In the car ride home from my sunrise run, the CNN announcer at the top of the hour said, breathlessly, that yesterday the stock market took its biggest one-day plunge ever, "12 thousand points," before correcting it to "12 hundred points." We're supposed to feel as though it's 12 thousand, when it's only 12 hundred. Add a zero to every number to feel the feeling of today.)

2. It means that any photograph on the Althouse blog signifies an open thread, and that's actually true and something I've said many times. I'm not needy or bizarre enough to expect every sunrise pic to get comments like "beautiful," "one of your best," and other Facebookish clutter. If I did, I wouldn't have written "expect every sunrise pic to get comments like...." I'd have written "expect every sunrise photograph to garner comments like...." And you know I'm not that kind of blogger. So I understand that the comments would tend to be about whatever's in the news that I'm not blogging about in the same proportion as the news, and obviously, right now, that's coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus.

3. The commenter was going meta on the news coverage — "Wow. Drudge is in full panic mode today." The commenter is not looking at the sunrise and saying "Panic!" The commenter is, perhaps, looking at the sunrise and perceiving the harmony and grandeur of nature and the modest impression human footsteps make upon it, and he is observing and mocking the press in panic mode.

4. "... and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.... And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.... [T]he lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west.... [T]he sun [shall] be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken..." (Matthew 24).

Frozen lake sunrise.


Time: 6:35. Actual sunrise time: 6:37.

"There used to be a show on Fox called Man vs. Beast and you should know about it because it was probably the best show of all-time."

"In one of the competitions, a sprinter lost a 100-meter dash against a zebra (yet beat a giraffe!). In another, professional eater Takeru Kobayashi lost a hot dog eating contest against a Kodiak bear that did not even know he was taking part in an eating competition. And then there is my personal favorite: the world-class gymnast who defeated Bam Bam the orangutan in a 'dead hang,' even after Bam Bam clearly tried to play mind games with the gymnast by dropping his pants and urinating during the contest. Feel free to watch if you don’t believe me. Anyway, I wish that show still existed, because Tony vs. the Shark would totally make the cut.... I remember standing in the water just off of Mana Island at Survivor base camp and a shark swam by me for a good 20 minutes. I had no issues with standing in the water as it went back and forth by my feet but I’ll tell you what I didn’t do — reach down and pick it up. I guess Tony thought it was dead...."

From the Entertainment Weekly recap of Episode 3 of the new season — Season 40 — of "Survivor."

Here's Tony and the shark:

And here's "Man vs. Beast/Gymnast vs Orangutan":

And here's Kobayashi vs. the Kodiak bear and the man vs. giraffe/zebra.

As the recapper notes, only the human being understands that this is a competition, so it's only a test of whether the nonhuman beast is in the mood to perform the activity. This is the same problem that must be addressed at rodeos and bullfights: how to stimulate the animal to look as though it's participating in a man-versus-beast sport. In the case of catching a shark, the creature is stimulated by the threat of death. For him, it's literally an episode of survivor.

February 27, 2020

At the Off Day Cafe...

... things are on all night.

"'Damsel in Distress' is an homage to Joni Mitchell in some ways, particularly the structure."

"My husband and I now live in Laurel Canyon. I wasn’t that familiar with Joni’s music but Jörn became obsessed and took me on a journey into her music. We ended up hanging out with her and I get now why she’s one of the greats. So it’s part Laurel Canyon, part a song about a personal relationship that I’m trying to come to terms with, but mostly my Mitchell virginity being broken."

Said Rufus Wainwright, quoted in "Rufus Wainwright Announces New Album Unfollow the Rules, Shares New Song: Listen/‘Damsel in Distress’ is an homage to Joni Mitchell in some ways, particularly the structure" (Pitchfork).

Here's the song:

I got there via my son John's Facebook post, where someone brings up this post of mine from 2007 — about the time I sat at a table next to Rufus Wainwright in a restaurant in SoHo — and I reread my own old post, which ends:
I think about whether I'm excited to sit for so long so near a person whose music I have so much feeling for. But no, I feel normal, as usual. I remember the time, more than 30 years ago, when I sat in a restaurant at a table next to John Lennon. The feeling was overwhelming. I am so much older now, but is it that I fell in love with Rufus's music as an older person or that I'm sitting near him as an older person? I could find out if some day I'm sitting in a restaurant and, at the next table, it's Ray Davies. Maybe Bob Dylan. But no. I think it's a theory that can only be tested on Ray Davies.
Then, at Facebook, I say:
I realize I don't understand that last part... Why can't the theory be tested on Bob Dylan? I'm sure I meant that to be enigmatic at the time, but now I've excluded even myself!

Colbert forgot the one clue that would have worked on Elizabeth Warren: Doesn't wear pants.

"Like, one of my tiny habits is that after I pee, I do two pushups.... Or, after I sit down on the subway, I'll open my book and read a paragraph."

"After I turn off the TV, I'll take three calming breaths. So you find where [this habit] fits in your life. And then to wire in the habit, you fire off a positive emotion. In Tiny Habits, that technique is called celebration. For a lot of people, doing a fist pump and saying, 'Awesome!' works."

From "'Tiny Habits' Are The Key To Behavioral Change" (NPR).

"Smell of horror, the panic, the fear..."/"It's creepy, isn't it?"

"China could deploy 100,000 ducks to neighbouring Pakistan to help tackle swarms of crop-eating locusts..."

"An agricultural expert behind the scheme says a single duck can eat more than 200 locusts a day and can be more effective than pesticides.... Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Bloomberg that the ducks are 'biological weapon.' He said that while chickens could eat about 70 locusts in one day a duck could devour more than three times that number. 'Ducks like to stay in a group so they are easier to manage than chickens,' he told Chinese media.... 'Go, ducks! I hope you come back alive,' wrote one user of China's Twitter-like Weibo platform. 'Heroic ducks in harm's way!' said another, in a parody of the description commonly used for medical staff tackling the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. However, a professor from the China Agriculture University, who is part of the delegation to Pakistan, questioned whether the ducks would be suited to the mainly arid conditions where the locusts are a problem. 'Ducks rely on water, but in Pakistan's desert areas, the temperature is very high,' Zhang Long told reporters in Pakistan."

Possibly the feel-good story of the day, reported at BBC... but I'm not understanding ducks in the desert... because chickens are harder to manage?? And it's interesting to get a little taste of Chinese coronavirus humor ("Heroic ducks in harm's way!").

"This is going to make me gorgeous? I can tell already."

A post shared by Jemima Kirke (@jemima_jo_kirke) on

I found that via "The Secret to Beauty: A Stranger’s Hands Inside Your Mouth/Carrie Lindsey’s facial massage comes at a price. Her Brooklyn clients are willing to pay [$285] for it" (NYT). From that article:
It feels like being alternately treasured and ravaged, pulled and gently slapped and firmly pressed — like pizza dough that has dropped on a human skeleton and now must be rubbed into the skeleton to hide this mistake. It was chillingly relaxing... It felt how ASMR sounds, except that it was also intermittently briefly uncomfortable... 

"Interviews with dozens of Democratic Party officials, including 93 superdelegates, found overwhelming opposition to handing Mr. Sanders the nomination if he fell short of a majority of delegates."

The NYT got the interviews and reports:
[O]nly nine of the 93 superdelegates interviewed said that Mr. Sanders should become the nominee purely on the basis of arriving at the convention with a plurality, if he was short of a majority.

“I’ve had 60 years experience with Democratic delegates — I don’t think they will do anything like that,” said former Vice President Walter Mondale, who is a superdelegate. “They will each do what they want to do, and somehow they will work it out. God knows how.”
Mondale! I was just thinking about Mondale the other day. The context was: Who is the most boring major-party nominee for President I've seen in my life?
In recent weeks, Democrats have placed a steady stream of calls to Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who opted against running for president nearly a year ago, suggesting that he can emerge as a white knight nominee at a brokered convention....

“If you could get to a convention and pick Sherrod Brown, that would be wonderful, but that’s more like a novel,” Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee said. “Donald Trump’s presidency is like a horror story, so if you can have a horror story you might as well have a novel.”
That's exactly what gets my "if Trump could do it" tag.

ADDED: I'm not saying boring like it's a bad thing. As I've said many times — and I have a tag for it — "I'm for Boring." And I voted for Mondale.

Sock it to 'em, Walter.

WaPo's fact checker shows mercy to Joe Biden: "It’s a bit of hot mess, but Biden’s staff acknowledges he misspoke. We’ve corrected the record but will leave this unrated."

From "Biden falsely attacks Trump over a food stamp policy supported by Bloomberg":
In this campaign, we’ve seen Biden often get stories mixed up, mislead about his record or tell tall tales. He was talking about Trump, but somehow slipped in an attack line against Bloomberg, even using the high-dudgeon word “immoral.”

Trump has sought to tighten [food stamp] eligibility, but he has not required fingerprinting. That was an idea briefly in vogue in the 1990s, but it’s an idea whose time has passed. Meanwhile, Bloomberg still defends the practice, so it’s not even as if he’s flip-flopped on the issue.
Biden often gets stories mixed up....

Meanwhile, "Biden oddly suggests '150 million' people killed by guns since 2007."

He gets off the hook for lying because we're so sure he's just so mixed up.

And yet, after all this years-long ordeal, we're left with him as the best chance to avoid having an committed socialist as the major-party challenger to Trump. How the hell did that happen?! Well, I know how it happened, because I've been watching it happen every single day. But I still find it very, very weird.

"Trump campaign sues The New York Times for libel over Russia opinion article."

CNBC reports.
The lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, claims “millions” of dollars in damages, but does not give a specific monetary amount.
Filed in state court. The defendant could remove to federal court, however. The case arises under state law, but there's diversity jurisdiction. I'm trusting this NYT article, which says that Trump is now domiciled in Florida. [ADDED: As someone mentions in the comments, it may be that the named plaintiff isn’t Trump but the Trump campaign. The would change the jurisdiction analysis. I have trouble seeing how the campaign has a defamation claim.]

Here's the NYT article with the alleged defamation:  "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo/The campaign and the Kremlin had an overarching deal: help beat Hillary Clinton for a new pro-Russian foreign policy" (March 27, 2019). It begins:
Collusion — or a lack of it — turns out to have been the rhetorical trap that ensnared President Trump’s pursuers. There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.

Run down the known facts about the communications between Russians and the Trump campaign and their deal reveals itself. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, Russians also reminded the Trump family of their helpful cooperation with his past financial ventures. Perhaps, also, they articulated their resentment of Mrs. Clinton for her challenge as secretary of state to the legitimacy of Mr. Putin’s own election. But no such speculation is needed to perceive the obvious bargain reached during the campaign of 2016.
From the CNBC article:
The lawsuit, in its opening sentence, noted the article’s subhead and Frankel’s lead paragraph. “The Times was well aware when it published these statements that they were not true,” the suit said.... “There was no ‘deal’ and no ‘quid pro quo’ between the Campaign or anyone affiliated with it, and Vladimir Putin or the Russian government,” the suit stated.
Eh. There was a "deal" and a "quid pro quo" in the special sense defined by the author. This is the same idea of "quid pro quo" that was relied on by the Democrats when they impeached the President. There didn't need to be any outward expression of a deal or a this-for-that. It was only within the President and the foreign leader's mind, and we can infer what it was. There's an immense difference, however, between a writer in private newspaper spelling out his inferences for readers who can proceed to think for ourselves and using the machinery of the government to force the President into a legal proceeding that would deprive the people of the leadership of the person we chose in the last election.

And by "we," I mean we as a group. I did not vote for Trump, but I respect the group effort —  the immense slog — of electing a President of the United States. We're going through the process again, and it's a mind-boggling, multi-year ordeal. It's horrible to think of messing with the result using an intra-congressional legal device.

This gets my "lawsuits I hope will fail" tag. Freedom of speech, you idiots.

Obama steps into the fray? "Obama demands South Carolina TV stations pull misleading ad attacking Biden."

Here's the ad:

Do you see the problem?

The WaPo headline is "Obama demands South Carolina TV stations pull misleading ad attacking Biden." Here's the first paragraph:
Former president Barack Obama on Wednesday called on South Carolina television stations to stop running an ad from a super PAC supporting President Trump that uses Obama’s words out of context in a misleading attack on former vice president Joe Biden.
Ironically, the headline and that paragraph confused me more than the ad did. From the ad, what I'm seeing is the assertion — spoken by Obama — that Democrats cultivate the black vote with promises but don't really help black people. That's presented as a reason not to vote for Joe Biden, and there's no alternative offered. It's telling black people to be cynical about political promises.

From the headline, I thought Obama himself had spoken and told the TV stations to pull the ad. But, reading on, I see that there was just a statement issued by Obama’s communications director, Katie Hill, complaining that the ad takes "President Obama’s voice out of context" — it's from the audiobook "Dreams From My Father" — and "calling on TV stations to take this ad down and stop playing into the hands of bad actors who seek to sow division and confusion among the electorate."

The ad is definitely confusing: "Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama." Then there's the passage from Obama's book about broken promises to black people, but the passage is not about Biden. Obama was writing about the Democratic Party politicians he'd encountered in Chicago in his community organizing days.

So many ads have out of context quotations. I think the station should have a standard policy about censoring montages, not special treatment when the complaint is sourced to Obama.

Complaining about the ad gives it more prominence, but what's out of context is given a new context — the context of: Look at this lie!

If you look at it carefully, you see that a pro-Trump super PAC is trying to make black people cynical and confused, but you will also see that Obama himself was cynical and confused about politics when, as a young man, he first saw it close up. By making the ad specific to Biden, the super PAC missed the better argument and made itself look dishonest. If their goal is to make people cynical and alienated from politics, maybe they don't care if they look dishonest too. They've achieved their goal if they make black people think politics is all lies.

February 26, 2020

At the Gray-Blue Café....

February 26, 2020 sunrise

... you can talk all night.

At his press conference on coronavirus, invited to respond to Nancy Pelosi and other critics who say he doesn't know what he's talking about, Trump goes strongly political.

Most of this press conference is above politics, and his answer to this question is, ultimately, that we need to work together and be above politics, but Trump dives straight into politics at this point, and he's blunt and, I think, very effective:

He says Pelosi is "incompetent" and "not thinking about the country." He points to the doctors on stage with him and says they are "the most talented people in the world" and "they shouldn't be demeaned." He says, Nancy Pelosi knows what she is saying is not true, "she's trying to create a panic," and she's "trying to get a political advantage" when what is needed is for everyone to work together.

"ABC News suspended one of its veteran correspondents late Tuesday for unguarded remarks he made in a video by operatives of Project Veritas..."

"The choppy, poorly shot video, released Wednesday morning by Project Veritas, captured [David] Wright [saying]... 'I don’t think we’re terribly interested in voters'.... Also: 'Commercial imperative is incompatible with news.' At one point he says: 'We don’t hold him to account. We also don’t give him credit for what things he does do.' In subtitles, Project Veritas indicated that 'him' stood for President Trump. He refers to Trump at another point as 'the f-----g president.' But ABC probably was also alarmed at Wright’s criticism of ABC News, which is owned by the Disney Co. At another point, he raises another longstanding critique of ABC News — that it blends news with promotion of Disney-owned movies and TV programs. 'Like now you can’t watch "Good Morning America" without there being a Disney princess or a Marvel Avenger appearing,' he says. 'It’s all self-promotional.'... [A] voice asks the reporter if he considers himself 'a Democratic socialist,' and Wright seems to reply, 'more than that, I consider myself a socialist.'

From WaPo reports.

Here's that "choppy, poorly shot video":

Last night, at the big debate, the Democratic candidates had to state mottos, and they all did, so let's rank them.

Let's look at the mottos, which I'll put in boldface, because I want to keep some of the verbiage around the motto. I'll put these in the order they appear in the debate transcript:
STEYER: Every day, I write a cross on my hand to remind myself to tell the truth and do what's right, no matter what.

KLOBUCHAR: Then, I would say that my motto is the words of one of my political mentors, Paul Wellstone, who sadly is no longer with us. And he said that "politics is about improving people's lives. And that's been my life, from when my grandpa was an iron ore miner in the unions....

BIDEN: When you get knocked down, get up. And everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity, no matter what, no matter who they are. My -- also, that everyone should be represented. Everyone -- and no one's better than me and I'm no better than anyone else.... And my mother's motto was -- she said, "You know, you're defined by your courage; you're redeemed by your loyalty."...
Joe, that's 5 mottos. Should he have picked one? But which one? He might as well have stopped after the first one. It's not like they get better. The fourth one reminds me of Bob Dylan's "To Ramona": "I’ve heard you say many times/That you’re better'n no one/And no one is better'n you/If you really believe that/You know you got/Nothing to win and nothing to lose." In which case, why is Joe running for President? He's no better than anyone else.
SANDERS: The motto, the saying that -- that moves me the most is from Nelson Mandela. And Mandela said, "Everything is impossible until it happens."

WARREN:  My motto... It's Mathew 25, and that is, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these, the least of thy brethren, ye have done it unto me."

How the Democratic candidates responded to prompt what's "the biggest misconception about you."

There are different ways to interpret this invitation, so let's analyze and judge the candidates by the choices they made.

These are not in the order they appear in the transcript. I've grouped them in the way that fits my analysis.

First up: Biden and Bloomberg:
BIDEN: I have more hair than I think I do.

BLOOMBERG: Misconception, that I'm six feet tall.
Both of these men used the opportunity to point to a physical flaw that they've probably been sensitive about all their adult life. It's a well-known flaw. But it's not a misconception to believe that Biden has struggled with hair loss and Bloomberg is short. So they had to restate the flaw to make the answer fit.

One approach would have been to exaggerate the flaw so that it's wrong. That is, Biden could have said: The misconception is that I'm completely bald! And Bloomberg could have said: Some people say I'm only 4 foot 9! Now, nobody has that misconception, but I'd find it very funny.

Bloomberg exaggerates in the other direction, and nobody has that misconception, but he's imagining himself as a tall man, and in doing so, conceding that he is not. There's a kind of self-deprecation in that, even though it seems to be sneaking in a boast. But it's not a boast, because we absolutely know he's not 6 feet tall.

"On the plus side for Democrats, persuadables agree 'on ending racial discrimination, on the negative impact of divide and conquer tactics, on the value of working together, on the reality that African Americans face greater obstacles than whites.'"

"On the negative side of the ledger, according to the report, these middle ground voters 'have concerns about "reverse racism" and discrimination against whites;' a sizable majority agree 'focusing on race doesn’t fix anything and may even make things worse;' and 'persuadable adults believe that people of color who cannot get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition.' In other words, these persuadable voters provide fertile ground for conservative appeals to racial resentment.... [Democratic p]oliticians, according the report, should say 'our opponents point the finger for our hard times at blacks, new immigrants and Muslims' instead of saying 'our opponents are racist against blacks, new immigrants and Muslims.' Why? 'Framing scapegoating as tied to economic concerns allows audiences, including whites, to see that their well-being is tied to rejecting racial resentment.'"

From "Does Anyone Have a Clue About How to Fight Back Against Trump’s Racism?/Moderates and progressives have a lot to lose by ignoring each other on this crucial question" by Thomas Edsall (in the NYT).

Edsall quotes lawprof Ian Haney López, who has recommended "cross-racial solidarity as the key to both racial justice and economic fairness" and received pushback from progressives, who tend to be "wary of any alliance with working and middle class whites." Haney López says that "racial justice activists" resist "the race-class approach" because they don't like the way the Democratic Party elite always seem to be telling them to "subordinate their concerns to larger goals."

Here's a highly rated comment from over there:
It boils down to this. Racial resentment IS American politics. America was born of racial resentment, built from racial resentment and is still divided by racial resentment.

Framing the resentment along economic lines gives people an excuse to view the resentment as being nonracial. But is just that, an excuse. The core motivation is race, more specifically white privilege. No one want to be called a racist.

The whole package is then wrapped in the flag as a patriotic position. Actually, it is because America has always been about race.
Which side is full of resentment — the left or the right? The people who think in terms of economics or the people who think in terms of race? Reading that comment, I wasn't really sure, but I presume the commenter is perceiving resentment as a quality possessed by the side he's not on. Isn't that how it always goes?

I looked up "resentment" and got halfway down a rathole labeled "ressentiment." I'll just point it out. Just so you know I know it's there.

"They said Torres continued to call out to Boone saying he couldn't breathe, to which she is heard saying, 'That's on you. Oh, that's what I feel like when you choke me.'"

From "Florida man dies inside suitcase, girlfriend charged after claiming they were playing hide and seek: report" (Fox News).
Boone allegedly told police that they thought it would be funny if he got inside the suitcase, Fox 35 Orlando reported. She allegedly said they were drinking at the time and she passed out on her bed. When she woke up-- hours later-- she allegedly said she found him unresponsive and not breathing....
But she made videos, which police retrieved from her phone.
Deputies said Boone is heard laughing and saying, "For everything you've done to me, [expletive] you! Stupid!"
ADDED: Not exactly on point, but I thought about The Velvet Underground's "The Gift":

Spoken-word lyrics here. Excerpt:
Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit. It was now mid-August, which meant he had been separated from Marsha for more than two months.... He didn't have enough money to go to Wisconsin in the accepted fashion, true, but why not mail himself?... He bought masking tape, a staple gun and a medium sized cardboard box just right for a person of his build. He judged that with a minimum of jostling he could ride quite comfortably. A few air holes, some water, perhaps some midnight snacks, and it would probably be as good as going tourist!...

Why Ann Coulter is trending on Twitter this morning (no, she didn't die).

"Why am I stopping? No one else stops. It's my Catholic school training."

Best line of the night — here's the debate transcript — from Joe Biden, near the end of 2 hours of all the candidates talking over each other and the moderators failing horribly to maintain any sort of order.

The moderator Gayle King responds, "Vice President Biden, you're a gentleman. Good home training. Thank you, sir." But Joe Biden doesn't want to be Gayle King's good little boy. He says, "Yeah, gentlemen don't get very well treated up here."

Good home training. Ridiculous. Biden was making a criticism — "Why am I stopping? No one else stops. It's my Catholic school training" — a justified criticism, and Gayle King understood or pretended to understand that to be supportive of her and justifying her bonding with Biden, like the 2 of them are well bred and polite, but he cut her off.

"Gentlemen don't get very well treated up here" — that's superficially polite, not telling King she's not doing her job, but the treatment in question is from the moderators.

He's saying: I have been polite and gracious, but you've presided over an event where rudeness wins. Catholic school may have taught me good behavior, but you, Gayle King, are teaching bad behavior.

By the way, it's interesting that King changed "Catholic school training" to "home training." She cleaned the religion out of it for him. She erased his Catholic identity. And if it's home training, the implication is domestication by a woman.

Now, a lot of people seem to think that Donald Trump is rude, and the Democratic candidates sometimes appeal to our desire for more politeness and niceness and harmony. So maybe Joe Biden got somewhere by embodying the gentleman, and maybe he's savvy enough to have done that on purpose. But Gayle King patted him on the head for it, and that hurt. Who thinks you can beat Donald Trump being the boy with "good home training"?

ADDED: Back in 2012, when VP Biden debated VP candidate Paul Ryan, Biden behaved like a jackass. I wrote at the time:
Biden is being rude, laughing and mouthing words. And Ryan is talking about serious national security matters. Biden mutters an interruption. When Biden is given a turn, he calls what Ryan said "malarky."
Yeah, he said "malarky."

February 25, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like... except tonight's Democratic candidates' debate and how the Democratic candidates are doing. Put that in the previous post.

Let's talk about the debate. It's about to start.

1. I made my predictions first thing this morning about what was going to happen and what ought to happen, and I got myself thinking this was going to be the greatest debate of all time... except that Tom Steyer will be there. That's so dull. I'm looking for a savage fight!

2. I'm just going to write in a numbered list. It's too boring to write time stamps in classic live-blogging style. And I'm not even sure I'm going to live blog. But I feel inspired, and they're starting early tonight — 7:00 my time. We'll see what happens.

3. My son John is live-blogging here. He mentions that the show is on CBS. My cable company is feuding with CBS these days, so I had to figure out a different source. We're watching on BET. Caught the end of the NAACP Image Awards.

4. How can a Democratic Socialist do better with the economy than Trump? — the first question, to Sanders. He takes a swipe at Bloomberg, so Bloomberg gets to speak. He lashes out and says Russia is helping Sanders get elected. Sanders is touched off, starts raving, and accidentally hits the microphone twice.

5. Warren accuses Bernie's team of "trashing" her. She did the work, and they didn't, and then they attacked. I predicted a secret alliance between Warren and Sanders. Doesn't look like that.

6. Biden attacks Bernie for the 9 deaths at the South Carolina church... because he voted against the Brady Bill 5 times. A vicious attack.

7. "I'm hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight" (Bernie).

8. "That single garment of destimy"  — a Klobuchar garble. I forget what she was talking about. I was thinking about her garments, which are the dreariest color imaginable (dark brownish purple).

9. "I have been training for this job since I stepped on the pile — that was still smoldering — of 9/11" — Bloomberg.

10. Warren accuses Bloomberg of saying something he says he never said: "Kill it" (to a pregnant woman). Big reaction from the audience.

11. The moderators have totally lost control. The candidates are all talking at once, and the topic is: math. Yeesh!

12. After the break, there are 3 more moderators. I hope there's a little more order. The topic now is gun control. They have to vie for who's most controlling.

13. I got bored. There's a lot of recitation of proposals, not so much attacking each other. I'm not going to try to provide you with notes on that. This is the problem with live-blogging. If you start, then people expect you to keep going....

The "Best Sunrise" album.

September 18, 2019 sunrise

That's the first photograph in a set of 31 photographs, in chronological order, beginning on September 18, 2019. I've put them together because I want to make some judgments about what is most beautiful in a sunrise and in an effort to capture it in an iPhone photograph. As I quickly made these selections, I didn't check to see whether photographs were done on the same day, and it turned out that there were 6 days with 2 photographs, which means there were only 25 days out of over 100 days when I got something that reached the standard I was using, whatever that was.

December was clearly the best month, with 12 photographs, taken on 8 days. January was the worst, with only 1 photograph. September also only has 1, but I didn't start my sunrise run until September 9, and then a couple weeks were skipped because we were traveling. October and November were middling, with 5 photographs apiece. One of the November days was a 2-photograph day, the only 2-photograph day that was not in December. (That is, there were 2 photographs that met my "Best Sunrise" standard.) February is the second-best month, with 6 photos, and 4 more days to go. (It's Leap Year.)

Anyway, I invite you to click through to the album and to weigh in on what is your favorite — I have one that I consider the best — and on the subject of what sunrise makes the best photograph and various aspects of framing things. I'm very aware that there are some great sunrises that were beyond what the iPhone could handle and that there are often things in the frame other than the sunrise, notably branches, so there's a complication in talking about the best photograph of a sunrise and the best sunrise. I'm not so much interested in compliments on my photography as I am in figuring out what's the most beautiful sunrise and how to know which sunrises are going to make good photographs, how to time sunrise chasing, and what to include in the frame around the sunrise.

Obviously, I'm committed to photographing the sunrise over Lake Mendota here in Madison, so I've got the strategy of going to the same place and learning from a repeated similar experience. The alternative is to search for sunrises in different places, and that would be a different how-to question. I'm looking for details and differences within similarity.

It doesn't matter why, but we were talking about melodicas...

... and I found this, and I'm almost certain it will make you feel happy:

ADDED: There's also a melodica in The Hooters, "And We Danced":

That's from 1985. The band tells us that their name is based on "hooter" as another term for melodica.

The morning dog frolics in the ice wave...


No, that's not my dog. Not my dog, not our dog, and not our neighbors' dog. I don't know who that dog is, other than that he decided to break away from his people and join me at the lakeshore.

"Extremely pale people tend to have visible veins. No foundation is going to be able to cover a bruise effectively while allowing those blue-tinged lines to show through..."

"... which leaves the pasty among us kind of screwed unless we’re going to go get serious special effects makeup training. Try having your husband bite the nape of your neck in or just on your hairline.... Ask your doctor about arnica. It’s an herb that can be applied topically, and some circus people, BDSM aficionados, and sex workers swear by it for speeding up the healing of bruises...."

Advice from Slate's sex columnist, How to Do It, responding to a question that begins "I love being bitten. I especially love being bitten at the joint between my shoulder and neck during sex."

As an extremely pale person, I was interested in the makeup advice. I think she's saying that the EPP needs to use foundation that's translucent enough to let your little veins show through, that the purple is part of your natural-looking skin tone — sort of like pointillism....

As for the bruises... well, that's what's in Slate today. I wonder how hard they had to try to make sure nobody thought they were giving advice to women who are actually abused and wanting to hide it.

"The health official leading Iran’s coronavirus task force has tested positive."

The NYT reports.

There's another debate tonight, and it's not too soon.

It's less than a week since the last debate, but everything's speeded up now. There's the South Carolina primary this weekend, followed by Super Tuesday. And last week it was all about piling on Mike Bloomberg, but now Bernie Sanders has blown up into a seemingly unbeatable beast. So does everyone who isn't Bloomberg still go after Bloomberg, or is it forget about Bloomberg, and everyone who's not Bernie goes after Bernie? Or is it more complex?

I don't think Bernie should go after anyone. He must defend and would do best to appear worthily presidential and above the fray. But is he capable of controlling his angry face and modulating his yelling voice? Doesn't matter. Let Bernie be Bernie. It's worked so far, and how could he possibly change at this stage? Stand your ground, Bernie. Your mere presence as the frontrunner is horrifying and flummoxing to all the rest of them.

Elizabeth Warren should have a secret alliance with Bernie. All the delegates she collects can be handed over to Bernie later. She could give him the majority he needs at the convention. As she collects delegates, the radical left position gains force, but it's less obvious than it would be if all of them went to Bernie. She's serving his interests, and he can make her his VP choice.

In any case, Warren is not allied with Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar. They're the moderates, all begging for the nonradical voters in a desperate, bungling stop-Bernie effort. Warren should attack all of them, especially Bloomberg. She's good at that.

And what should Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar do? Continually barge in front of each other demanding to be seen as the one person who's palatable enough to have a ghost of a chance against Trump? Or will they take a first-things-first approach and insist they're the one to stop Bernie?They probably have convinced themselves that to do one is to do the other. The reason to vote for B/B/B/K is that Bernie must be stopped in order to stop Trump. But it has to be one of them, not 4 of them, and so they will have to turn on each other.

Bloomberg has a special position: He can say that he should be the one of the 4, because he has his own money, and none of the others has stood out enough as a candidate to have a stronger argument than that. That's why Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar all need to keep beating up on Bloomberg, and that keeps Bloomberg in at least as bad a position as Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar. And it keeps the entire group from mounting a serious challenge to Sanders.

Maybe Bloomberg will rise to the occasion. Expectations are low now, after last week's debate fiasco. Surely, he's taken some coaching and has a more realistic idea of how to do a debate. He's incredibly arrogant, but he got an epic humiliation. And everyone's interested in seeing what he can do to make a comeback. And now now there's less hope than ever that one of the other nonradicals (Biden, Buttigieg, or Klobuchar) can get all the attention, he's got reason to hope he can be the one. And he's got the motivation to regain his dignity and the constant boost of knowing that he's the one with all the money.

UPDATE: I'm told Tom Steyer will also be in the debate. Oh! That is so dull. He does not belong there. I guess he hurts Bloomberg because it is just so ridiculous to have 2 billionaires who've bought their way on to the stage and will be standing there so long after all those governors and senators have slipped away.

IN THE COMMENTS: DanTheMan says:
The so called moderates need to go after Biden. If he loses in SC he’s done and a big chunk of moderates have to find a new home.
I'm picturing something in the form of an intervention. He needs it. So much damage he has caused.

Fake news from 2015, circulated and debunked in 2018, is making the rounds on social media once again.

Are you seeing this thing?

The violent imagery is causing some tingles among Trump haters, but it's fake news. If you see it, it's very easy to drop this link to Snopes.
On 5 February 2018, Shaun Usher, the owner of the blog “Letters of Note” posted an image on Twitter that purported to show Donald Trump opining that any president presiding over the United States during a stock market crash of more than 1,000 points should be “shot out of a cannon.”... Apparently quickly remorseful for the rapid spread of the inauthentic tweet, Usher tried to backtrack....
Usher tweeted:  "Sweet mother of god. Not for one second did I think people would believe that to be genuine"/"omg it’s everywhere. What have I done"/"siri can i be arrested for making a fake tweet."

And Usher told Snopes he'd faked it. And: "Naively thought it too ridiculous to be believable. Says a lot, really. Was going to delete it but it was everywhere within minutes: feels like I need to leave it up in its place of birth."

Now, that is partly Trump's responsibility. He's tweeted wildly enough that it's made people credulous about any assertion of what he might have said, especially if you don't get his style of humor.

"It's our humour... just fun... It's our parade, our humour, people can do whatever they want. It's a weekend of freedom of speech."

Said Peter Van den Bossche, the mayor of Aalst, Belgium, quoted in "Belgian city of Aalst says anti-Semitic parade 'just fun'/A Belgian city has defended as 'just fun' a carnival featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews wearing huge fur hats, long fake noses and ant costumes" (BBC).
Other floats mocked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit, climate activist Greta Thunberg, and Jesus Christ on the cross. There were also people parading in Nazi SS uniform...

[S]ome caricature Jews posed with a mock-up of the Western Wall - often called Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, a holy site for Jews. It was labelled "the wailing ant", in Dutch "de klaugmier". The Dutch for "wailing wall" is "klaagmuur".

"This doesn't encourage anti-Semitism; the reaction last year was over the top," Mr Van den Bossche said. "Two hundred percent it's not anti-Semitic."

February 24, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign plans to unleash its cash-flush media operation against Bernie Sanders..."

"The campaign plans a multipronged attack, including the publication of opposition research on Sanders, these people said. It will also push out digital attack ads focused on Sanders’ record. On Monday, the Bloomberg campaign attempted to paint Sanders as a past ally of the National Rifle Association... The attacks on Sanders... will also attempt to highlight negative aspects of his record on race relations both as a congressman and senator..."

CNBC reports.

The first ad:

"A jury in Manhattan has reached a verdict in the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein."

The NYT reports.

Waiting for an update.

For some good reading while waiting, I recommend this from 4 days ago: "Why Harvey Weinstein Might Walk/Our reporter offers a view from the public line at the Weinstein trial" (The Nation):
Why people do the things they do, what’s complicated about anyone’s vulnerability and power in a relationship, what’s transactional, how time, suggestion, and changed circumstance can transform what formerly was acceptable or maybe regrettable into something utterly debased and criminal—all the messiness that people know from their own lives was raised only by the defense. Though partisan and narrow, Rotunno’s theory of the case, that sex with Weinstein was a form of barter, was situated in the real world. ADA Meghan Hast’s opening statement best captured the state’s approach: “These were not mutual adult relationships.… He was the Old Lady in the Gingerbread House, luring the kids in, missing the oven behind.”
UPDATE: Guilty on 2 counts:
Harvey Weinstein.... was found guilty of a felony sex crime and rape... But the jury acquitted Mr. Weinstein of the two top charges against him, predatory sexual assault.
UPDATE 2: Numbness from the heartless brute:
Mr. Weinstein appeared unmoved as the verdict was read.... The judge then announced that Mr. Weinstein would immediately be sent to jail to await his sentencing. But as court officers approached him, the producer seemed stunned and refused to move. Moments later, he was handcuffed and removed from the room, limping with two officers standing by his side.

Trump at the Taj Mahal.

I realize, writing "Trump at the Taj Mahal," that it needs some clarification like "the one in India." Anyway, I enjoy the raw footage... scroll to the parts you like... lots of Trump and Melania getting ready to be seen, with Trump adjusting his jacket and Melania moving her hair back in place...

"[I]n San Francisco... a two-bedroom apartment of what passes for affordable housing costs around $750,000 just to build...."

"In San Francisco a construction worker earns around $90 an hour on average... Not taking into account the price of land, around one quarter of the cost of building affordable housing goes to government fees, permits and consulting companies.... For a building to be defined as affordable housing it typically obtains tax credits and subsidies. A single affordable housing project requires financing from an average of six different sources — federal, state and local agencies.... 'It literally took us on the City Council six months to get all of our attorneys, all the developer’s attorneys, all the federal government’s attorneys, to agree on the paperwork. And that was just the financing... I walked away from that process and told the developer I cannot believe this project is going to employ more attorneys than construction workers to get built.'... Last year San Francisco broke ground on 767 subsidized affordable apartments. 'It’s nowhere near what we need'.... The average cost of a single affordable housing unit is around $500,000 in Los Angeles and around $600,000 in Oakland.... 'One word insanity — it’s just insanity'..."

From "Why Does It Cost $750,000 to Build Affordable Housing in San Francisco?/As California’s governor vows to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis, housing 'insanity' stands in the way" (NYT).

That quote, "One word insanity — it’s just insanity" — is from Governor Newsom.

The high point of last night's "American Idol": Jovin Webb.

ADDED: He sang "Whipping Post." I remember 15 years ago, when Bo Bice sang "Whipping Post":

I wrote:
Bo Bice... He's the best rocker and the most masculine singer the show has ever had. Wow! He blew everyone else away.... That song was "Whipping Post": Good lord, I feel like I’m dyin’.

Things that are not actually "buried."

Bernie's competition is stunningly noncompetitive.

And as ever... people see what they want to see.


I noticed "the Vestas"...

... and after looking up "vesta" to see if it might be something Indian — as opposed to Roman...

... and figured he must have meant Vedas.
Who really knows?
Who can here proclaim it?
Whence, whence this creation sprang?
Gods came later, after the creation of this universe.

Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whether God's will created it, or whether He was mute;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,

He only knows, or perhaps He does not know.

In India, Trump stirs up the competition of gender difference: Women are "great and natural entrepreneurs," and the men had better be very careful, because "They're really good!"

I clipped 19 seconds for you:

"We are delighted to be joined as well by dozens of Indian women entrepreneurs who are helping to build your nation's future. They are great and natural entrepreneurs, and I just say to you men: Be very careful — they're really good!"

ADDED: Is entrepreneurship innate? Is it a natural part of the human psychology, and if so, is it more predominant in males than in females? Trump is saying that men shouldn't rest on their prejudices and the accomplishments of men over the course of history. Women have arrived in modern commerce and women will compete and they're really good.

It was like something he'd say on "The Apprentice." Season 1 had a men's team against a woman's team. And in Season 4 — dissatisfied with the "street smarts" vs. "book smarts" theme of Season 3 — he returned to the competition of gender difference.

Trump gets criticized for being "divisive" and "polarizing," but I think he sees greatness as the product of competition. I said at the end of the first post of the day, riffing on a quote by Rabindranath Tagore about Swami Vivekananda: "If you want to know America, study Donald Trump. In him everything is positive and nothing negative." For him, us versus them is not a bad thing. It's a sport. It's all for the good. It's competition. It's the source of achievement.

Some of us are not natural entrepreneurs. I know I'm not. Some of us want harmony and peace and substantial comfort and niceness. But we can still see how the natural entrepreneurs benefit us and how we would lose if they could not do what they're born to do.

"A daylong affair featuring popular singers, dancers and pounding music under a blazing sun, the 'Namaste Trump' rally was an unabashed homage to Mr. Trump."

"His name and image appeared on dozens of banners and billboards throughout the stadium and outside its grounds.... The event catered to Mr. Trump’s taste for a giant crowd. It also made vivid an image the leaders are jointly cultivating as larger-than-life, unapologetically brash figures leading their countries to bright new futures — even as their critics accuse both men of encouraging caustic nationalism and abuses against minorities.... Ahmedabad did not deliver the 10 million well-wishers that Mr. Trump has said Mr. Modi promised to turn out — television images suggested tens of thousands, not millions in the streets."

The NYT presents the Trump-in-India story, which it does not put at the top of the front page. The top story, in the NYT view, is the continuing spread of coronavirus.

By contrast, the Washington Post puts the Trump-in-India story at the top:
Clicking through on that headline, we get "Live updates: Trump touts $3 billion U.S.-India defense deal at massive rally with Modi." Sample text:
Following a 13-mile roadshow, President Trump arrived at Sardar Patel Stadium known as Motera stadium, to the cheers of more than a 100,000 people. Roads had a festive air with cut-outs of Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, flags of the two countries and colorful balloons. Onstage, Trump in a suit and neon yellow tie waved to crowds and hugged Modi. Trump’s daughter Ivanka was mobbed for selfies by excited spectators....

Abhishek Parihar, 18, a university student, heard about the event at a tutoring class and jumped at the chance to see the prime minister. “I am very excited to see Modi,” he said. And Trump? “Yes, him also,” said Parihar. Trump is a “very nice person and he was a successful businessman. And he is the best friend of Modi.”