May 2, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


You can talk all night.

(And do any shopping you might have through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

(Photo taken at 5:52 this morning.)

Things no one was picturing in 2016... but we are now!

I'm going back to my old posts in early October 2016 to see what I said about Trump's Access Hollywood remarks (because I want to see how well I'm maintaining my cruel neutrality now as I process the news about Joe Biden). I was struck by this post from October 9, 2016, "Jake Tapper attempts a euphemism — and it's not 'vulva'":
So what Trump said was "And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

And Jake Tapper obviously didn't want to say "pussy":

If you're going to use the anatomical term to avoid the slang, use the scientifically correct term. "Vagina" for "vulva" is as much slang as "pussy." "Pussy" is at least a quote. "Vagina" is ridiculous.

No one was picturing grabbing a woman by the vagina.
No one was picturing that back then, but we are now! That's the Tara Reade allegation. We're not talking about a grabbing of the outer genitalia, but the penetration of the vagina using the hand — grabbing by the vagina — the seemingly ridiculous phrase used by Tapper.

The old post ends:
If we were, those of us who are saying that Trump was referring to sexual assault would be saying rape, not merely sexual assault.
The accusation against Biden is an accusation of rape.


I turned on the car radio and CNN was talking about "Jenzeers." Jenzeers, in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown, were going to decide whether to abandon New York City and leave it hurting for population and economic vigor.

Jenzeers... Jenzeers... who the hell are Jenzeers?

"Joe Biden’s most effective campaign strategy has been to lie low and let people vote for whatever imagined version of Joe Biden congealed inside their heads."

"On Friday, he went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss the Tara Reade allegations. It was not a good argument for changing this strategy.... In the face of mounting evidence that Reade’s allegations are more than the baseless smear his campaign has dismissed them to be, Biden has mostly faded into the background, while his surrogates, supporters, and some pundits went to bat for him, deploying timeworn canards about sexual assault victims and what circumstances justify disbelieving them, or dismissing Reade outright before a fuller picture sees daylight.... [C]olumnists from the New York Times to the Nation stepped up to discredit her, and politicos from Stacey Abrams to Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed their support of the vice-president. Even Kirsten Gillibrand, who drew ire from within the Democratic Party when she pushed for Al Franken to resign after evidence of his misconduct surfaced in 2017, doubled down on her support.... [Biden is] largely staying true to the strategy that’s guided his campaign since early on, which holds that the winningest Biden is one to be imagined, not seen, heard, or even thought about too hard. His staff recognizes that the less its candidate speaks, the less opportunity his supporters have to neglect evidence that undermines their faith — in his competence, his election odds, and, increasingly, his innocence. If there’s one thing for which the Democrats have yet to punish Biden this cycle, it’s his silence in the face of lingering doubt. To change that now would be to change the very foundation of his campaign’s success."

From "Tara Reade Is Making It Harder to Hide Joe Biden" by Zak Cheney-Rice (in NY Magazine).

I don't think Cheney-Rice mentions the coronavirus lockdown that's helping Biden hide. Biden doesn't have the option to come out of hiding by doing events surrounded by supporters who make him seem comfortingly normal. He can only do that face-in-the-camera sort of appearance from his basement, and he's not that great at that — and, in fact, no political candidate is good at campaigning like that.

5:46, 5:49.



Actual sunrise time: 5:49.

The pro-Biden talking point was the NYT did an investigation and found the Tara Reade allegations to be false.

So it's especially inconvenient that The Editorial Board of the New York Times is saying "Investigate Tara Reade’s Allegations/Americans deserve to know more about a sexual assault accusation against the likely Democratic Party nominee."
Last year, this board advocated strongly for a vigorous inquiry into accusations of sexual misconduct raised against Brett Kavanaugh when he was nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden’s pursuit of the presidency requires no less. His campaign, and his party, have a duty to assure the public that the accusations are being taken seriously. The Democratic National Committee should move to investigate the matter swiftly and thoroughly, with the full cooperation of the Biden campaign....

In his statement, Mr. Biden said that if such a document existed, there would be a copy of it in the National Archives, which retains records from what was then the Office of Fair Employment Practices... Later on Friday, after the National Archives said it did not have personnel documents....

Any serious inquiry must include the trove of records from Mr. Biden’s Senate career that he donated to the University of Delaware in 2012..... Any inventory should be strictly limited to information about Ms. Reade and conducted by an unbiased, apolitical panel, put together by the D.N.C. and chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible.... No relevant memo should be left unexamined....
There's no mention in the editorial of the way the NYT was used by so many Biden supporters, who claimed that the NYT had done an investigation and absolved Biden.

IN THE COMMENTS: The Editorial Board speaks of "an unbiased, apolitical panel, put together by the D.N.C. and chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible," which prompted Roger Sweeny to say: "'Unbiased, apolitical panel' and put together by a political party do not go together."

But, you know, it makes sense to me. Who can believe in such a thing as "an unbiased, apolitical panel" in the first place? They don't arrive from Planet Neutralia. Are you going to find a neutral panel to appoint the neutral panel? Where do you start?! The Editorial Board puts the burden to pick the panel on a political entity with a huge political stake, and sets it up for our political judgement by announcing the standard that must be met: It's supposed to be "an unbiased, apolitical panel... chosen to foster as much trust in its findings as possible." Why would the DNC meet that standard? The reason is stated right there, and it's a political reason: the interest in getting us to trust the outcome.

Now, I wonder who could be chosen who could perform the task. We're told that the Biden archive at the University of Delaware arrived in the form of "nearly 2,000 boxes and more than 400 gigabytes of data" and that "most of it has not been cataloged." The Reade incident is alleged to have occurred in 1993: Was that the gigabytes era or the paper-in-boxes era? Who are the hyper-trustworthy, unbiased and apolitical investigators who can and will handle a project like that and do it quickly enough to work on the election time line? That's the problem I see. How is the DNC supposed to find people like that?!

ADDED: To state the problem is to see the real solution. This "unbiased, apolitical panel" — if anything like it could be convened — cannot get a creditable search done within a satisfying time line. Therefore: Biden needs to withdraw. 

"I've never seen a beautiful lady reading The Guide... so far away from the TV... you must really like television...."

Goodbye to the actor Sam Lloyd, who has died at the age of 56.
Lloyd is best remembered for his portrayal of lawyer Ted Buckland on the comedy-drama series Scrubs and the sitcom Cougar Town. He and his uncle [Christopher Lloyd] both guest starred on Malcolm in the Middle, Lloyd as a housing lawyer and his uncle as Hal's father. The two also guested on The West Wing, Lloyd requesting the White House to release information about UFOs and his uncle as a constitutional law expert... Aside from acting, Lloyd was an accomplished singer with the a cappella group The Blanks, who made many appearances on Scrubs under the name "The Worthless Peons" (also known as "Ted's Band"). He also played the bass guitar in a Beatles tribute group called the Butties; although right-handed, he learned to play bass left-handed like Beatles bassist Paul McCartney to maintain authenticity.
"This is my band. We're all working from different departments in the hospital":

"I recognize this request is unusual and constitutes a drastic measure, and the emergency powers set out under the Riot Control Act should be invoked sparingly.

"However, the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order. Immediate action is necessary," wrote Mayor Louis Bonaguidi,  quoted in "Roads closed into New Mexico city to mitigate 'uninhibited spread of Covid-19'" (CNN).
Under the Riot Control Act, anyone who fails to comply with restrictions imposed under the act is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense is guilty of a fourth-degree felony....

"The spread of this virus in McKinley County is frightful," Lujan Grisham said. "And it shows that physical distancing has not occurred and is not occurring. The virus is running amok there. It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary."
I was only familiar with Gallup, New Mexico from the song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" — "You see Amarillo/Gallup, New Mexico/Flagstaff, Arizona/Don't forget Winona..." — but I'm reading about it now. Wikipedia:
Gallup (Navajo: Naʼnízhoozhí /nɑ̀ʔnɪ́ʒòːʒɪ́/; Zuni: Kalabwakin) is a city in McKinley County, New Mexico, United States, with a population of 21,678 as of the 2010 census. A substantial percentage of its population is Native American, with residents from the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes. Gallup is the county seat of McKinley County and the most populous city between Flagstaff and Albuquerque, along the historic U.S. Route 66.

The city was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, and named after David Gallup, a paymaster for the railroad. It is on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways. Because of the nearby rugged terrain, it was a popular location in the 1940s and 1950s for Hollywood Westerns....

Gallup is known as the "Heart of Indian Country" or "The Heart of Indians" because it is on the edge of the Navajo reservation and is home to members of many other tribes as well.

May 1, 2020

The sunrise brings the glassy calm surface of the lake to life.

At 5:46, the surface of the lake was like a mirror...


At 5:50 — the "actual" sunrise time — the lake began to stir...


One minute later — at 5:51 — there were long swooping waves, criss-crossed with tiny ripples...


In half a minute, as the sun peeked over the line, the effect was distinctly more dramatic...


And at 5:53, it looked like this...


At the Daffodil Diner...


... let's have lunch.

"Rose Byrne’s Gloria Steinem comes off as a vacillating, shallow, vain egomaniac; Tracey Ullman’s Betty Friedan strongly suggests that her feminist anger..."

"... came out of crushed romantic dreams; Bella Abzug is only slightly more appealing — but largely because her pragmatism seems so sane in comparison with the antics of her fellows.... And what the series gets so right about left-wing identitarianism is how riddled it often is with jealousy, personal rivalry, and internal spats... The intersection, if you’ll forgive my using that word, of glamour and elite left-wing politics is pretty damning of both. The feminists completely underestimated Schlafly, because their vain self-regard could not believe that any serious pushback against the ERA could be rooted in real arguments about the difference between the sexes rather than their interchangeability.... Schlafly’s version of feminism is, in fact, less a reactionary one than a truly prescient one. She was the first feminist (though she would reject that label) to depict traditional home and family life as something not to be despised, as long as women had the choice to abandon it.... This is the first time I’ve seen a conservative woman portrayed as human, complicated, vulnerable, and also extraordinarily courageous."

Andrew Sullivan praises the Hulu movie-biography of Phyllis Schlafly (in NY Magazine).

Here's the trailer (with Cate Blanchett in the starring role):

"By Biden’s Own Standards, He Is Guilty As Charged."

Headline at the new Andrew Sullivan column (in NY Magazine). Excerpt:
Perhaps in part to atone for his shabby treatment of Anita Hill, Biden was especially prominent in the Obama administration’s overhaul of Title IX treatment of claims of sexual discrimination and harassment on campus. You can listen to Biden’s strident speeches and rhetoric on this question and find not a single smidgen of concern with the rights of the accused. Men in college were to be regarded as guilty before being proven innocent, and stripped of basic rights in their self-defense....

In 2014, the Obama administration issued another guidance for colleges which expanded what “sexual violence” could include, citing “a range of behaviors that are unwanted by the recipient and include remarks about physical appearance; persistent sexual advances that are undesired by the recipient; unwanted touching; and unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or attempted penetration.” By that standard, ignoring the Reade allegation entirely, Joe Biden has been practicing “sexual violence” for decades: constantly touching women without their prior consent, ruffling and smelling their hair, making comments about their attractiveness, coming up from behind to touch their back or neck. You can see him do it on tape, on countless occasions.
Of course, his argument about all of that is that it wasn't sexual. Who thinks that hair smelling and neck nuzzling was a sexual advance on all those little girls (even if it always was on girls and not boys)?
He did not stop in 2014, to abide by the standards he was all too willing to impose on college kids. A vice-president could do these things with impunity; a college sophomore could have his life ruined for an inept remark.

Biden is now claiming simply that he never did what Tara Reade said he did. Let’s posit that he didn’t. Too bad.... By Biden’s own standards, he’s guilty as charged. He never got affirmative consent from Reade, and she feels and believes he assaulted her.
He says the entire incident didn't occur. There was no gym-bag-in-the-corridor encounter at all. Or... was there? Did Mika nail that down or not??
He never got affirmative consent for countless handsy moves over the decades that unsettled some of the recipients of such affection. End of story. By Biden’s own logic, it is irrelevant that he didn’t mean to harm or discomfit anyone, that Reade’s story may have changed over time, that she might have mixed motives, that she has a record of erratic behavior, a bizarre love for Vladimir Putin, and a stated preference for Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s chief rival. It’s irrelevant that she appeared to tweet that she would wait to launch her accusations against Biden until the timing was right. And her cause has been championed by the Bernie brigade. The many red flags and question marks in her case are largely irrelevant under Biden’s own campus standards....
Bottom line: "I’ll vote for him anyway, because Trump."

"Joe Rhodes, who’s been on the move in his 'Traipsemobile' camper for 10 years, has made a life of eating in restaurants, drinking in local bars and going to gyms, where he uses the shower."

"'But what’s happened is that those spaces where I was living my life have slowly but surely all shut down,' he said. As the crisis worsened, he fled to a friend’s home in Dallas, where he is now parked in the driveway. He has access to the house, a shower, a meal or bed should he desire, but he feels keenly aware of not wanting to impose on his hosts.... Robert Meinhofer, 49, has been living in a one-bedroom trailer with his wife, Jessica, 42, and their two children since 2015... which is marooned in his in-laws’ driveway in Mount Dora, Fla. 'Once you stop traveling, it turns into a routine and then we’re, "Oh my god, we’re in 26 feet of living space and my daughter is running down the middle of the R.V. and my son is trying to have video calls with his friends," and it just feels like the walls are closing in on you,' she said. Then there’s the added stress of parking a few feet away from relatives who don’t endorse their itinerant life. 'In an R.V. park, everybody’s in the same situation and you understand that you choose to live in a small space,' Mr. Meinhofer said. 'But my in-laws — they have never really approved of our lifestyle, so whenever we go to the house we’re very conscious that it’s not our place.'"

From "Sheltering in Place in an R.V. Is Not as Fun as It Sounds/With parks shut down and utilities harder to come by, drivers of motor homes are finding themselves trapped in the vehicles meant to liberate them" (NYT).

"On Monday, the court will, for the first time, allow the news media to provide audio coverage of its oral arguments as they happen...."

Writes Bruce Collins, the general counsel for C-SPAN, at WaPo:
Our network, C-SPAN, has long argued for greater public accessibility to the court and welcomes this development.... In 1988, we made our first formal request to then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for camera access to the court’s oral arguments....

Rehnquist agreed to let a coalition of more than 15 news organizations, including C-SPAN, conduct a demonstration in the chamber of how a two-camera setup could unobtrusively provide full coverage of oral arguments. Three justices, including the chief, sat at the bench while a lawyer for our media group took questions from the justices about the technology — just like an oral argument. We thought the demonstration went very well. Then, nothing....

Now, the court is giving the public live access to its arguments for the month of May....  The court’s move toward greater transparency should continue after the pandemic abates — and once the justices have become comfortable with live access, adding video coverage is the next logical step.

"Back in late 2017, it looked like Franken was going to weather the charges of inappropriate conduct against him, until Democrats apparently decided to sacrifice him..."

"... presumably in part to demonstrate that they could police their own.... The coup was quick and brutal. First, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand posted on Facebook a call for him to resign. Then, in quick succession, 13 more Democratic women senators (and a majority of the entire caucus) joined her. Whether Franken was guilty or innocent -- and he'd asked for a hearing -- his position became untenable. The day after Gillibrand’s shiv, he announced his intention to resign. (Chuck Schumer had told him to be out by 5 P.M.) If it looked like an orchestrated takeout, that's because it probably was. Biden -- even if innocent -- is now in a position where he must constantly worry about getting Frankened. By whom? Well, by the same sorts of powerful Democrats who helped him win the nomination (perhaps by helping orchestrate the well-timed withdrawals of Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg).... I'm also not saying 'they' want to replace Biden now.... But they could change their mind, and quickly, if he gives enough of them enough reason -- either by faltering, or pissing them off, or a combination of the two.... Biden probably wasn’t about to forge bold new directions.... But now Biden’s really in no position to step on anyone’s toes. Power has shifted away from the candidate."

From "The Frankening" by Mickey Kaus.

That could be read to say that Biden's position is stronger than ever. The Party wanted Biden because he would do what they want, and now there's even more reason for them to believe he will. He's boxed in.

"It could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations. I’ve been falsely charged numerous times. And there is such a thing. If you look at Brett Kavanaugh, there’s an outstanding man. He was falsely charged...."

From yesterday's press briefing:
Speaker 7: Follow up regarding the Joe Biden, your campaign and surrogates going after him pretty hard with regard to these allegations from Tara Reade, what do you say to Joe Biden-

Donald Trump: I don’t think so. I don’t think they’re going after him hard with regard to Tara.

Speaker 7: What do you think of the allegations and what do you say to Joe Biden?

Donald Trump: I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know exactly. I think he should respond. It could be false accusations. I know all about false accusations. I’ve been falsely charged numerous times. And there is such a thing. If you look at Brett Kavanaugh, there’s an outstanding man. He was falsely charged. What happened with him was an absolute disgrace to our country. And I guess three of the four women have now admitted that. And of the fourth, give me a break. I mean, take a look. 36 years. Look, this is a fine man. I saw a man suffering so unfairly. I’m talking about Brett Kavanaugh. But I don’t know, I can’t speak for Biden. I can only say that I think he should respond. I think he should answer them.
Here are some question to ask Democrats who are supporting Biden in this: In retrospect, do you regret the way your party treated Brett Kavanaugh? What do you say to people who believe in equal treatment for anyone who faces accusations like this and who see your different treatment of the 2 men as nothing but partisanship?

I know how they will try to answer. They'll say Christine Blasey Ford was credible in a way that Tara Reade is not. Meanwhile, anti-Biden partisans say the opposite — Tara Reade is credible in a way that Christine Blasey Ford was not.

Mika Brzezinski confronts Joe Biden with the Tara Reade allegation and he says "unequivocally" that it "never happened."

UPDATED: The original post did not have the full interview, so I want to put this at the top:


So there you have it — his flat denial. No follow up question, no grilling. Just the denial that is exactly what you would expect. No signs of lying jumped out at me. I do wonder if it's something that he could have forgotten. The flat denial implies that if it had happened he would have remembered. He's not asked if he remembers Tara Reade or knows what happened with her employment in his office. I'm not positive this is the entire clip.

Also: At the beginning of the clip, Biden coughs into his closed fist. Not a good look for the coronavirus era, but no reason not to assume that he washed his hands thoroughly afterwards.

ADDED: Based on this WaPo article, I see that the MSNBC clip above is not the full interview. And I see that Biden has issued a written statement, and, in that he "called on the National Archives to release any record of a complaint Reade says she filed." The statement asserts, "If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there."

On "Morning Joe," according to WaPo, Brzezinski does proceed to grill Biden:
“I’m not going to question her motive,” Biden said of Reade, adding, “I don’t understand it.”

The presumptive nominee said he has never asked anyone to sign a nondisclosure agreement. And Biden said that “women have a right to be heard,” but that “in the end in every case, the truth is what matters.”

In a tense exchange late in the interview, Biden repeatedly resisted the idea of querying his Senate papers at the University of Delaware, saying that they do not contain personnel records.

“Why not just do a search for Tara Reade’s name?” Brzezinski asked.

“Who does that search?” Biden replied. Brzezinski suggested the university or a commission could conduct it. Biden then returned to his initial point — that any complaint would be contained in the archives, not his papers.
That sounds evasive. Yes, if she said she filed a complaint, so the complaint should be in the archive, let's do that search, but why not also search his papers, not to find the complaint, but to see if there is anything at all about her? A big part of her allegations is that she was mistreated as an employee in retaliation for her failure to respond to sexual demands on her. Maybe the papers would show that she had other problems as an employee that justified the consequences she experienced.
He said the papers contained “confidential conversations” with the president and heads of state and he did not want them to be made public while he was still an actively pursuing public office.

Asked what he would say to Reade directly if he could talk to her, Biden responded, “This never ever happened. I don’t know what is motivating her.”
That too is evasive. The question — as paraphrased in this article — isn't why do you think she's accusing you, but how would you speak with her. He immediately inserts his denial. Maybe that's what he'd say to her: This never ever happened. I don’t understand what is motivating you. ADDED: Watching the entire interview — the video at the top of the post — I see that Brzezinski did ask Biden what he thought was motivating Reade.

AND: Let's read Joe Biden's written statement. It begins with 4 paragraphs expressing pride in his role introducing the Violence Against Women Act 25 years ago. He proceeds to talk about his role, as Vice President, starting the “It’s on Us” campaign, addressing college men and telling them that "they had a responsibility to speak out" — "Silence is complicity." He considers himself "a voice, an advocate, and a leader for the change in culture that has begun but is nowhere near finished." And:

President Trump doesn't want to "cast any dispersions" on China.

I saw it in the transcript — "dispersions" for "aspersions" — but checked the video before believing he said it:

It's not a transcription error. He said "I don’t want to cast any dispersions."

But enough of that. Let's consider what he was invited to cast aspersions on China about and whether he did, in fact, refrain from.... Or do you want to keep talking about "dispersions"? Maybe you are champing — or chomping — at the bit to defend your President. What are "aspersions" anyway? And it's not as though "dispersions" isn't a word. Is there some requirement that a speaker use the most obvious cliché? Does "cast" demand "aspersions" the way "scantily" demands "clad"? But you can choose to say "scantily dressed" — it's not wrong — so why not say "cast dispersions"?!

To "disperse" is to throw things about, and to "asperse" is to sprinkle things. "Dispersion" is the act of throwing things about, and "aspersion" is the act of sprinkling things about. To "cast" is to throw, so it might look as though we're dealing with a redundancy, but the word "aspersion" also means that which is sprinkled. So to "cast aspersions" is to throw the things that are thrown. But "dispersion" is not defined (in dictionaries that I looked at) as both the throwing of things and the things that are thrown. That's why "casting dispersions" sounds wrong. You're saying throwing the act of throwing.

If I wanted to defend Trump here, I'd try to find a dictionary that gave the necessary other meaning to "dispersion" and, failing that, I'd say that "dispersion" is easily understood to mean, in context, that which is dispersed and, as such, "casting dispersions" makes just as much sense as "casting aspersions," and the people who want to hear the most predictable combinations of words are very boring.

Now, on to the substance. From the transcript of yesterday's Coronavirus Briefing:
Speaker 2: Mr. President, you have said that China is doing everything they can to make sure you don’t get reelected. What specifically are they doing?

Donald Trump: Well, China doesn’t want to see me elected and the reason is that we’re getting billions and billions of dollars, many billions of dollars a month from China. China never gave our country anything. China gave us nothing, not 25 cents. And whether it was Biden in charge of China, which was a joke because they ripped off our country for eight years. And in all fairness to Biden and Obama, this went on long before they got into office. And you can go through many administrations until I came along. Then we signed a trade deal where they’re supposed to buy, and they’ve been buying a lot actually, but that now becomes secondary to what took place with the virus. The virus situation is just not acceptable.

Speaker 2: Do you think that withholding information about the virus is related to them trying to undermine your reelection?

Donald Trump: I don’t want to cast any dispersions. I just will tell you that China would like to see sleepy Joe Biden. They would take this country for a ride like you’ve never seen before.

April 30, 2020

At the Arb Café...


You can talk all night...


... and do any shopping you might have through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Frankly, I would call it forcible imprisoning of people in their homes against all of their constitutional rights, in my opinion."

"It's breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why they came to America or built this country. What the f---. Excuse me. Outrage. Outrage.... If somebody wants to stay in their house, that's great and they should be able to. But to say they cannot leave their house and that they will be arrested if they do, that's fascist. That is not democratic — this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom."

Said Elon Musk, quoted at Business Insider.

Very windy in Madison today...

A classic view from the Heights:

"Covid-19 lives in the shadow of the most vexing virus we’ve ever faced: H.I.V. After nearly 40 years of work..."

"... here is what we have to show for our vaccine efforts: a few Phase 3 clinical trials, one of which actually made the disease worse, and another with a success rate of just 30 percent. Researchers say they don’t expect a successful H.I.V. vaccine until 2030 or later, putting the timeline at around 50 years. That’s unlikely to be the case for Covid-19, because, as opposed to H.I.V., it doesn’t appear to mutate significantly and exists within a family of familiar respiratory viruses. Even still, any delay will be difficult to bear. But the history of H.I.V. offers a glimmer of hope for how life could continue even without a vaccine. Researchers developed a litany of antiviral drugs that lowered the death rate and improved health outcomes for people living with AIDS. Today’s drugs can lower the viral load in an H.I.V.-positive person so the virus can’t be transmitted through sex. Therapeutic drugs, rather than vaccines, might likewise change the fight against Covid-19.... Combine that with rigorous testing and contact tracing — where infected patients are identified and their recent contacts notified and quarantined — and the future starts looking a little brighter.... If all those things come together, life might return to normal long before a vaccine is ready to shoot into your arm."

From "How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take?" (NYT). The article examines many things that could be done to speed up the development and distribution of a vaccine (with the best possible result arriving in the middle to end of next year).

"Despite the growing uproar from many of his progressive supporters over the sexual assault allegation leveled against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden..."

"... Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has remained quiet on the matter in recent days. The only time Sanders mentioned the allegation against Biden was earlier this month during an interview with CBS, in which the Vermont lawmaker asserted that 'any woman who feels that she was assaulted has every right in the world to stand up and make her claims.' But Sanders added... 'I think that she has the right to make her claims and get a public hearing and the public will make their own conclusions about it... I just don't know enough about it to comment further".... Sanders, who just days before that interview endorsed Biden’s White House bid upon dropping out of the race, has not publicly commented on the matter since. Fox News has reached out on multiple occasions to Sanders campaign officials and political aides, and has yet to receive a response."

From "Sanders keeps quiet on Biden sexual assault allegation despite uproar from supporters, ex-aides" (Fox News).

Also in the news this morning: "Biden reaches deal to let Sanders keep hundreds of delegates" (AP).
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has agreed to let former primary rival Bernie Sanders keep hundreds of delegates he would otherwise forfeit by dropping out of the presidential race in a deal designed to avoid the bitter feelings that marred the party in 2016 and helped lead to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Under party rules, Sanders should lose about one-third of the delegates he’s won in primaries and caucuses as the process moves ahead... The rules say those delegates should be Biden supporters, as he is the only candidate still actively seeking the party’s nomination....

In some ways, the delegate count is a moot point....
Is it a moot point? At any moment, Joe Biden could have a genuine or faked health crisis and become unavailable. Isn't that what plenty of Democrats want? If that happens, who gets to be the nominee? Maybe some people think it should be whoever Biden picks as his VP, even if that is a person who hasn't participated in any of the primaries and caucuses, who never had to debate. But there's good reason to think that if Biden becomes unavailable, the candidate should be the person who clearly came in second — in 2020 and in 2016 — Bernie Sanders.

Sanders is keeping himself clean on the Tara Reade allegations, and he's continuing to acquire delegates. Is he not thinking of somehow getting the nomination? I assume there are other Democrats who are looking for a path to the nomination and not conceding that Joe Biden owns it. So it's right for Sanders to plot a win.

"Can The Dow Jones Today Nail Its Best Month In 45 Years?"

Asks Investor's Business Daily:
Wednesday's gain left the Dow Jones today, on the last day of April, sitting on its best month of the century. Actually, it's the century's best month for the Dow, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

In fact, the Dow's 12.4% advance so far in April puts it on track for its best month since a 14.2% surge in January 1975. That's a 45-year record. The Nasdaq is toiling away at its biggest monthly advance since February 2000. That was a 19.2% spike, preceded by a 22% Santa Claus rally in December 1999. The S&P 500 has rebounded 13.7% in April. That beats everything going back to its 16.3% rebound rally in October 1974.
So strange... in this lockdown month.

"As an activist, it can be very easy to develop a black and white view of the world: things are clearly wrong or clearly right."

"Harvey Weinstein’s decades of rape were clearly wrong. Donald Trump’s alleged sexual assaults were clearly wrong. Brett Kavanaugh’s actions, told consistently over decades by his victim (and supported by her polygraph results), were clearly wrong. So were Matt Lauer’s, Bill Cosby’s and so many others. As we started holding politicians and business leaders and celebrities around the world accountable for their actions, it was easy to sort things into their respective buckets: this is wrong, this is right. Holding people accountable for their actions was not only right, it was just. Except it’s not always so easy, and living in the gray areas is something we’re trying to figure out in the world of social media. But here’s something social media doesn’t afford us–nuance. The world is gray. And as uncomfortable as that makes people, gray is where the real change happens. Black and white is easy... Gray is where the conversations which continue to swirl around powerful men get started.... It’s not up to women to admonish or absolve perpetrators, or be regarded as complicit when we don’t denounce them. Nothing makes this clearer than the women who are still supporting Joe Biden even with these accusations. Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Amy Klobuchar, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed Biden and like me, continue to support him.... This is the shitty position we are in as women....  Believing women was never about 'Believe all women no matter what they say,' it was about changing the culture of NOT believing women by default.... I hope you’ll meet me in the gray to talk and to help us both find the way out."

From "Alyssa Milano On Why She Still Supports Joe Biden & How She Would Advise Him About Tara Reade Allegations – Guest Column" (Deadline).

If "Donald Trump’s alleged sexual assaults were clearly wrong" — alleged — then why can't you say "Joe Biden’s alleged sexual assaults were clearly wrong"? It's black and white at the allegation level. But then, you didn't say "Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged actions." You said "Brett Kavanaugh’s actions." You can get out of the grayness whenever you want just by saying "alleged." I don't know what motivated you to give Trump the "alleged." Maybe some editor worried about a defamation lawsuit and inserted that after you wrote it.

Anyway, grayness. Yes, real life as grayness to it. Let's be mature and fair and realistic. But don't confuse the grayness that is the uncertainty about what happened with the grayness about whether something is right or wrong. Tara Reade alleges that Joe Biden did something that Alyssa Milano — and all those other Democratic women she names — should have absolutely no hesitation to say is clearly wrong. The grayness is at the level of evidence. Who should be believed?

What do you do when someone on your side, on whom you've staked your party's success, is accused? You want to believe your guy! That's one way out of the grayness, and that looks like the way you have chosen. Why not be black-and-white honest that's what you and Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Amy Klobuchar, Nancy Pelosi, and Elizabeth Warren are all doing?

You say "Black and white is easy," but it's not, because you are still choosing what to call black and white and you are still smudging it into gray to suit your political preferences. That looks black and white to me.

"Man Who Killed and Ate the Spirit Raccoon," "Spirit Horses on Horse Hill," "Flying Skull," "Big Beaver," "Girl Whose Lover Went to War"...

... "Rattlesnake Myth," "Wakanda Loses Lake," "Wakanda Annoyed by Rabbit," "Thunderbird Roost," and "Girl Who Married a Sky Man" — Native American myths named on this map of Lake Mendota, drawn in 1948 by a student of a University of Wisconsin professor, to go with his booklet "Lake Mendota Indian Legends."

I first saw the map at "Daily diversion: See how Madison's lakes changed changed since 19th century, in photos" (Wisconsin State Journal).

And here's the booklet!

Lake Mendota was called Wonk-sheck-ho-mik-la — "the lake where the Indian lies."

"Manitou" = a spirit.

Lake Mendota this morning at dawn...


Biden's frustrating campaign by podcast.

I was listening to the NYT "Daily" podcast this morning. The episode is called "Biden's Campaign of Isolation." Because of the lockdown, Biden can't do any of the conventional campaign activities, and his main idea seems to be this podcast. But is anyone listening? I love podcasts, but not all podcasts. I need to hear a voice that's got something podcasty about it. The host of "The Daily," Michael Barbaro has it.  Obviously, Joe Rogan has it. You can name some others. I enjoy Scott Adams. Marc Maron. Etc.

That special quality could be a lot of different things, but it's not going to be a politician carefully shaping his message around the goal of getting elected. That's so unappetizing.

But listening to "The Daily," I heard some snippets of Biden's podcast, specifically his interview with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and they were talking about — I think they were talking about — the very subject I was just saying I wanted to hear more talk about. Here's what I wrote 3 days ago:
Why aren't people saying that when we emerge in phases from this lockdown — as we must, or we face economic doom — we should not attempt to go back to everything that we were doing before but go forward into some livable, workable form of the Green New Deal?

Shouldn't the Democrats be saying this? Where's Joe Biden?
I know how to listen to the Biden podcast with Inslee, but I'm not motivated to the point where I'm going to do that, partly because I value my time and hate to give a speaker control over it and partly because as a blogger, I need text. But I will read, because I can scan it at my own speed, and because I can copy and paste. I don't have to do my own transcription to write about it. So where is the transcript?! I can see one transcript at Joe Biden's podcast page — it happens to be with Ron Klain — but I can't find the Inslee transcription.

Did Biden embrace a Green New Deal approach to emergence from the lockdown? I can't believe I'm supposed to slog through a podcast to understand. So frustrating!

"You humiliated yourself with your ludicrous run for president last year, and every time you open your mouth now, Andrew Cuomo runs over and drops a stick of dynamite in it to remind you who’s boss."

Writes John Podhoretz in "Bill de Blasio’s new low: blaming the Jews" (NY Post).

The headline refers to De Blasio's harsh reaction to a specific event: a large gathering of Jewish mourners that took place in Brooklyn. De Blasio blamed those Jews for that one thing that they did. The headline makes it sound as though de Blasio had engaged in classic anti-Semitism, blaming Jews in general for things that go wrong.

For example, during the Black Plague in the 1300s, Jews got blamed and murdered on the theory that they were causing the disease. I don't think de Blasio is much good as a mayor and he should never have joined the overcrowded Democratic presidential race, but it's awful to characterize him as "blaming the Jews."

Podhoretz writes:
There’s no way to read your tweet from Tuesday night in an exculpatory fashion. Here it is: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
Now, there really is something stupid about that tweet. De Blasio refers to the "Jewish community" when he meant the Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, and they are a small proportion of the much larger set of Jewish residents in New York City. Podhoretz writes that there are 1.2 million Jews in NYC. I had to look up the number of Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, who are not even 10% of the total who belong to "the Jewish community" in New York.

But maybe Podhoretz is seeing into de Blasio soul. Why did he get so mad at the Jews who came out onto the street in mourning? Why did that provoke him into posturing about a strong show of police force? Why did he look at one Jewish community and see "the Jewish community"?

And what a terrible visualization — Cuomo sticking dynamite into de Blasio's open mouth. Where does that violent imagery come from?

April 29, 2020

At the Springtime Café...


... you can talk all night.

"There are only different hellish ways to adapt to a pandemic and save both lives and livelihoods. I raise Sweden..."

"... not because I think it has found the magic balance — it is way too soon to tell — but because I think we should be debating all the different ways and costs of acquiring immunity. When I look across America, though, and see governors partly lifting lockdowns — because they feel their people just can’t take it anymore for economic or psychological reasons, even though their populations have little or no immunity — I worry we may end up developing more herd immunity but in a painful, deadly, costly, uncoordinated way that still leaves room for the coronavirus to strike hard again and overwhelm hospitals.... Herd immunity 'has historically been nature’s way of ending pandemics,' added Dr. David Katz, the public health physician.... 'We need to bend with her forces...' That means a designed strategy, based on risk profiles, of phasing back to work those least vulnerable, so we gradually cultivate the protection of herd immunity — 'while concentrating our health services and social services on protecting those most vulnerable' until we can sound the all-clear."

From "Is Sweden Doing It Right?/The Swedes aren’t battling the coronavirus with broad lockdowns" by Thomas Friedman (in the NYT).

You'll have to take my word that this was my theory all along.

I didn't want to cast aspersions on a particular individual on this blog, so I never wrote it on the internet, but I said it out loud around the house. This was always my theory: "Woman Who Blamed Trump after Giving Her Husband Fish-Tank Cleaner Now Under Investigation for Murder" (National Review).

Top-floor sun.


(From yesterday, at 6:15 a.m.)

(And if you're enjoying this blog, please consider supporting it by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon when you're doing your shopping.)

"It’s a Bayesian thing. Part of Bayesian reasoning is to think like a Bayesian; another part is to assess other people’s conclusions as if they are Bayesians..."

"... and use this to deduce their priors. I’m not saying that other researchers are Bayesian—indeed I’m not always so Bayesian myself—rather, I’m arguing that looking at inferences from this implicit Bayesian perspective can be helpful, in the same way that economists can look at people’s decisions and deduce their implicit utilities. It’s a Neumann thing: again, you won’t learn people’s 'true priors' any more than you’ll learn their 'true utilities'—or, for that matter, any more than a test will reveal students’ 'true abilities'—but it’s a baseline."

From "Reverse-engineering priors in coronavirus discourse" by Andrew (at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science,) via "What’s the Deal With Bayesian Statistics?" by Kevin Drum (at Mother Jones).

Both of these posts went up yesterday, that is, 2 days after I said, "Shouldn't we talk about Bayes theorem?" I'm not saying I caused that. I'm just saying maybe you should use Bayesian reasoning to figure out if I did. I will stand back and say, this is not my field. I'm only here to encourage it.

"Confused by This Anti-Joe Biden Meme? The Creator Says You Just Don’t Get the Joke."

"Before being censored by Twitter, the way the image was shared blurred the line between parody and misinformation"  — by Ali Breland (in Mother Jones) — about this image created by Brad Troemel:

It's a great satire, but unfortunately, many people who were sharing it took it to be an actual ad from the Biden campaign.
“The DNC and the Biden campaign are the ones responsible for your familiarity with this type of messaging, because they’re the ones who have been fucking campaigning on it,” Troemel [said]. “This image wouldn’t be shared if it wasn’t so believable.”...

Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University who specializes in social media and memes, [said] “He seems to want to cross his arms and say that everyone is so stupid,” Grygiel said on the phone, skeptically. “He may claim that he’s helping democracy, but he’s lost control of his art.”

"The best and surest way to beat Trump is to... give all the disaffected Republicans, conservatives and independents only one alternative to Trump."

"Giving them a conservative alternative might be ideologically satisfying, but it increases the likelihood that Trump can pull off another narrow win In the past several months, I’ve been approached about running as a conservative independent in the general election. I’ve had people suggest that I run as a Libertarian. My answer has always been the same: No. Because I won’t do anything that might help Trump win.... I know how committed Justin is to the founding ideals of liberty and limited government. When this is over, I’ll gladly join him in fighting for those principles again. If he wants, I’ll join him in starting a new political party. Right now, our only job is ridding the White House of an authoritarian con man. The last thing we need is a third-party candidate. Not this year, congressman."

From "You can’t win, Justin Amash. You can only help Trump get reelected/We both came in with the tea party wave. Reelecting this president isn’t the way to go out," by Joe Walsh (WaPo). This Joe Walsh is a former member of Congress and the author of a book called "F*ck Silence: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish, Moronic, Authoritarian Con Man He Is." He's not the Joe Walsh doing the guitar solo in "Hotel California" (the best guitar solo of all time according to a 1998 poll of readers of Guitarist magazine).

"The last thing we need is a third-party candidate. Not this year...." You could say that... or you could say the opposite. This is THE year for a 3rd-party candidate. This is the ONE time the 3rd-party candidate can actually win. Biden is a terrible candidate — way too old and seemingly mentally debilitated and burdened with a late-breaking sex-assault allegation. And Trump is very divisive and very, very weird.

And why would Amash necessarily hurt Biden? Why wouldn't he hurt Trump, which would help Biden?

From the comments over there: "Don't believe a word of this article. Amash won't draw anything among Democrat voters. He's a hard right conservative. Walsh was recruited to write this by the GOP for the same reason the Mafia sends your best friend to kill you."

"While Wordsworth — who wrote of the French Revolution, which was raging when he was aged 19: 'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive' — is recognised as a revolutionary..."

"... arguably his views on poetry were stronger.... In ['Radical Wordsworth: the Poet Who Changed the World,' Sir Jonathan Bate] cautions against popular assumptions about the poets. He writes that 'among those labelled Romantics, there were abolitionists, vegetarians, advocates for women’s rights and animal rights and what we would now call an environmental ethic.' Wordsworth, while championed as the inspiration behind the national parks movement and a believer in spiritual attachment to the environment, would balk at some of the aims of Extinction Rebellion. Bate... said that although Wordsworth may have lost the radicalism of his youth, he would also have had reservations about modern concepts, such as rewilding, which is letting nature rule unhindered by human intervention. 'He’d say that not just because, like so many of us, he went from youthful rebellion to aged conservatism but also because he believed that the conservation of the environment depends on respect for ancient traditions of stewardship, as exemplified by the hill farms of the Lake District.'"

From "William Wordsworth ‘would have marched with Extinction Rebellion’" (The London Times).

I had to look up "Extinction Rebellion."

It's funny to take a dead person and make assertions about what side he'd be on in some current dispute. But which version of this dead one is relevant? Might as well take your pick:
“The young Wordsworth would have marched with them,” Bate said. “But the older Wordsworth would have written sonnets saying, ‘Lock them up’.”

Image there's no Trump/It isn't hard if you/Are a conservative WaPo columnist/With Biden pulling you through/Image Scranton, PA/Ooh Ooh Ooh Ooh...

ADDED: I didn't watch Hillary's endorsement of Joe Biden, so I was challenged not merely to "image" her as President but also to "image" what was so "priceless" about whatever she said about getting "pulled" through Scranton. I found the transcript though. It's nearly an hour long, and my time is not priceless. I would watch it for $1,000 and let you know what I think. But I will scan the transcript... perhaps only for the word "Scranton"... I'll "scran" the transcript... okay:
So for me, this is a moment that we need a leader, a president like Joe Biden.... And we share a common experience and a love of Scranton, Pennsylvania. When my great grandparents came from England and Wales, they ended up in Scranton and my grandfather and then my father grew up in a house on Diamond Avenue and while the randoms were living on Diamond Avenue, the Bidens were over on North Washington Street. And I’ve had a lot of time to visit Scranton, talk about Scranton with Joe and one memorable occasion we were there together and he said, “Hey, let’s go see the house that I lived in when I was a little boy.” And if you know Joe Biden, you know the words were out of his mouth and we were racing to get there. And of course we got there and he talked his way in.
Ugh! Ever had former owners of your house show up one day and try to talk their way in? Ever gone to a house you used to live in and try to talk your way in? On question 1, my answer is sort of. They weren't very direct about it, and they did not get in. On question 2, I have gone to look at the 3 houses I grew up in and each time I considered how hard it would be to go inside and realized that there was no way I would even go up to the homeowner and let them know I lived there when the house was new and I was a little child. As for trying to get an invitation to go inside... hell, no!
It wasn’t hard because the woman who was at home immediately recognized him and knew him.
And when you're a star, they let you do it.

"[T]he mortality rate among patients over age 65 exceeded 26 percent, and almost all patients over 65 who needed mechanical ventilation during that period died."

According to a new JAMA article (which studied coronavirus patients in Northwell Health hospitals "in and around New York City"), reported in "Do You Want to Die in an I.C.U.? Pandemic Makes Question All Too Real/Sobering statistics for older patients sharpen the need to draw up advanced directives for treatment and share them with their families" (NYT).
A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine questioned 180 patients over age 60 with serious illnesses; most said they would trade a year of life if that meant they could avoid dying in an I.C.U. on life support.... “Many older patients we’ve encountered with Covid-19 have opted not to undergo ventilation and an I.C.U.,” Dr. White said. “No one should impose that on a patient, though if there’s true scarcity, that may arise. But patients might choose it for themselves.”...
While you're thinking about that, here's the ad the NYT served up for me in the middle of the article:

"More than 20% of Americans think vampires are real/More than 25% think climate change is not"... therefore you might want to donate $1,000 to the World Health Organization. We're supposed to worry that a fifth to a quarter of Americans are so science-ignorant that we should give money to an organization that may or may not represent good science. How would I know? Well, one thing is: I'm wondering if it is really true that 20% of Americans think vampires are real, because if they don't, then the organization is passing on fake statistics and that's evidence against its dedication to good science!

Here's a study from last year (at YouGov) that says 13% of Americans believe in vampires — 14% of Republicans and 8% of Democrats. And here's an IPSOS survey from last year that said "Almost half of Americans believe that ghosts are real (46%), and a third believe that aliens visit earth (32%), while only a small amount believe in vampires (7%) and zombies (6%)."

For $1,000, you need to do better with the statistics. And now I'm wondering about the value of the statistics about how likely you are to die if you're over 65 and end up on a ventilator. Just as the World Health Organization wants its donations, the health care system would benefit if you decline its services and accept home-based death.

"Mx. Baggs was concerned that autism awareness had become a trendy catchphrase..."

"... 'whether it’s parent groups who throw the word "autism acceptance" around to sound current but don’t actually accept the slightest thing about their autistic children, or whether it’s autistic people who’ve fallen in love with the words and forgotten the meaning.' There were blog posts about hir father’s death, hir cats and the 'snake words' used in the disabilities-services industry that sounded helpful to clients but, Mx. Baggs said, were actually harmful. ('Apologies to actual snakes,' one of these entries noted.).... Mx. Baggs took the name of the ballastexistenz blog from “ballast existence,” a concept employed in Nazi propaganda to justify killing people with disabilities...."

From "Mel Baggs, Blogger on Autism and Disability, Dies at 39/Candid blog posts and a widely viewed short film sought to expand the very definition of what it means to be human" (NYT). Baggs died of "respiratory failure, though numerous health problems may also have played a part."

"'Haters keep saying they hate Diamond and Silk, but you can’t hate what you ain’t never loved!' the sisters, whose real names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, wrote..."

"... on their shared Twitter account Monday evening. Trump shared that message Tuesday morning, writing online: 'But I love Diamond & Silk, and so do millions of people!' The president’s social media post came after CNN reported Saturday that Fox Nation, Fox News’ digital streaming service, had not uploaded a new episode of Diamond and Silk’s weekly show since April 7, and they had not appeared on the network’s broadcast since March.... Although Fox News retains a stable of pro-Trump commentators, the president has grown increasingly frustrated with the network, despite its opinion hosts’ almost unflinchingly positive coverage of his administration. '@FoxNews just doesn’t get what’s happening! They are being fed Democrat talking points, and they play them without hesitation or research,' Trump [tweeted on] Sunday."

Politico reports.

Was there an existing saying "You can’t hate what you ain’t never loved" (or "You can’t hate what you never loved")? If not, great aphorism. But is it true?

I found a discussion on Quora: "Can you not hate what you don't love? Why or why not?" The top answer, written in March 2018, brings up Donald Trump, whom the writer hates:
For example, I utterly loath Donald Trump.... Even with all that, I can honestly say I do not hate the man. The way I see it, hatred is the first step to dehumanizing somebody else. Trump may be a shitty example of a human being, but he is still human...
But he doesn't get into the meat of the question. Is love the precondition for hate? If it is, we are strongly defended from hate! And we have fantastic insight into the haters. Do all those people who really hate Trump actually have love in there somewhere?

It's hard for me to answer, because I don't feel anything that I would call hate. Hate. I do sometimes feel an unaccountable love for Trump — perhaps because I'm seeing him hated, perhaps because Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love (agapēseis) your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love (agapāte) your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? — Matthew 5:43-46, RSV
But back to the Diamond and Silk aphorism "You can’t hate what you ain’t never loved." It had a ring of truth for me. I'm thinking hate is such a strong emotion that it only counts as real hate if it's a reversal from love. They're saying your rejection of us is nothing because you never liked us in the first place.

Biden promised to pick a woman VP, but because they are women, the possible choices are all under special pressure over the Tara Reade allegation against Biden.

This is the old backwards in high heels problem all over again!

Or is it?

This is the trouble with affirmative action. You get advanced to the front, but it comes with a catch. Biden wants a woman partner to help him out with woman things. Where's the feminism in that?

I'm reading "Here’s What Biden’s VP Shortlist Said About The Kavanaugh Allegations/Whichever woman Joe Biden picks to be his running mate will have a lot of explaining to do on past positions about sexual assault" (in The Federalist).

I've only read the headline so far, and I am irked. Female candidates should have the same status as male candidates, not special woman's work. We missed our chance to get a female presidential candidate, and a female presidential candidate is, clearly, required to take on all the work of the presidency. The equality of the sexes is locked in. But with a VP candidate, we have some mixed up ideas about what this person is for — not so much the backup President, but someone to help get through the election. Biden wants the show of having a woman, and now he particularly needs a woman to vouch for him as he's accused of sexual assault.

It's woman's work!

What a disgusting predicament. Now, let me try to read the article. Ah, this does not tell us what the various women are saying now about the Tara Reade allegations as they offer themselves to Joe Biden for his purposes. It simply collects what they said about Kavanaugh. So this sets them up to look hypocritical and ludicrous when they clamor for the big man's attention.

Biden should do his own work here. So far he's been silent. I want to say he's hiding, but I read this in the New York Times: "Joe Biden Is Not Hiding. He’s Lurking." That's a column by Michelle Cottle. Her idea is that Trump is destroying himself, so the best strategy is to let him. And:
[Biden] has to pick his moments, especially with personal appearances, to avoid seeming to undermine the president during a national meltdown. Criticisms must be targeted and measured... [W]ithout a frontal assault, he will have a tough time getting attention. The media respond to heat more than light. But that is Mr. Trump’s turf, and those who try to play on it tend to get burned.
Mr. Trump's turf is heat, and if you play on it — I picture a flaming golf course — you get burned.

None of that excuses Biden for doing nothing about the Tara Reade allegations when the women who are in the running for the VP nomination are all getting pressure to address the "woman's" issue.

I'm seeing this at BuzzFeed News: "Democrats Will Have To Answer Questions About Tara Reade. The Biden Campaign Is Advising Them To Say Her Story 'Did Not Happen.'/Joe Biden has yet to personally address Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation, but his campaign has circulated talking points." Biden is silent but his campaign sent out talking points "earlier this month":

April 28, 2020

At the Arboretum Café...


... you can talk all night.


Downtown Madison this morning... let's see how the lockdown is progressing.

There's certainly no rule against going outside, and that's what I did, taking my ebike down Willow Way and the lakeshore path to the Memorial Union. Click on the image to see the official "dos" and "dont's" of the "social distancing" to follow "if you spend time outdoors."


Here's how it looked on the Union Terrace:


Here's how that strip of lakeshore looks in good times:


That's from June 7, 2013 (when fewer students are in town than the end of April). Notice the picnic tables. They're not there today — now that they're regarded as vectors of disease and not places to stretch out and absorb sunlight.

Here's a pic from May 2, 2010:


Note the iconic tables and chairs that are gone today.

I walked through the terrace and up State Street and back. No trouble keeping my distance from anyone. I think I saw about 200 people along the way. At one point, I thought about writing this blog post and telling you that I did not see one person wearing a mask, but then I saw a young man in a mask. He was skateboarding. Was the mask ironic?

"New documents suggest that Flynn ‘was set up by corrupt agents’ who threatened Flynn’s son and made a secret deal with Flynn’s attorneys."

Writes Andrew McCarthy at National Review.
[L]ast Friday night, the DOJ provided some so-called Brady material — i.e., exculpatory information that prosecutors are required by law to reveal to defendants they have charged with crimes.... The information is still not public... But we can glean its outlines from a motion [Flynn's lawyer Sidney] Powell filed... [arguing that Flynn was] "deliberately set up and framed by corrupt agents."...

There was no good-faith basis for an investigation of General Flynn. Under federal law, a false statement made to investigators is not actionable unless it is material. That means it must be pertinent to a matter that is properly under investigation. If the FBI did not have a legitimate investigative basis to interview Flynn, then that fact should have been disclosed as exculpatory information. It would have enabled his counsel to argue that any inaccurate statements he made were immaterial....

5:50 a.m. — 4 minutes before sunrise.


"For more than a month, governors in a vast majority of states have urged people to stay indoors and away from one another, critical measures needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus."

Asserts Mihir Zaveri in a NYT column, "‘Quarantine Fatigue’ Has More People Going Outside/New research shows that people are venturing out more frequently, and traveling farther from home."

There's a link on "vast majority of states" going to a map that shows that the vast majority of states have a "statewide order," but how many of these states are telling people to "stay indoors"?

I know my state is one of this "vast majority," but we weren't told we needed to stay indoors. I know there are some cities, including, notably, New York, where it's hard to do social distancing if you go outdoors, but most places in America, you can get outdoors and do social distancing just fine.

I'm in a city, Madison, Wisconsin, where there's no problem at all keeping the recommended distance and enjoying the mental and physical benefits of being outside. If you can do that, there's nothing preferable about hiding indoors.

It's really annoying to see concern, outrage, or scolding from people who act like we're being disobedient or science-ignorant if we won't stay inside! I support government orders that are fine-tuned to the danger at hand, but some people seem to love excessive restrictions on freedom and to deplore the incorrigibles who won't just stay in their house.

"Commissioner Resigns After He Threw a Cat During Zoom Meeting/'OK, first, I’d like to introduce my cat'..."

"... said a planning commissioner in Vallejo, Calif., lifting it close to the camera and then, with two hands, tossing it off screen.... The cat squeaked as it was being thrown, and a thud could be heard."

The NYT reports.

"When some historian many years from now tries to explain the pandemic of 2020, there will be a separate chapter on New York City..."

"... but no separate chapter on any other American city. I loathe Trump, but the historian [will] have to look at the actions or inactions of de Blasio and Cuomo, not Trump."

Says a commenter on the NYT article "N.Y.C. Deaths Reach 6 Times the Normal Level, Far More Than Coronavirus Count Suggests" ("More than 27,000 New Yorkers have died since the start of the novel coronavirus outbreak in March — 20,900 more than would be expected over this period and thousands more than have been captured by official coronavirus death statistics").

"If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be reelected?"

That was the last question at yesterday's Task Force press briefing. Transcript. The reporter was Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine.

Here's the response it provoked from Trump:
So yeah, we’ve lost a lot of people, but if you look at what original projections were, 2.2 million, we’re probably heading to 60 thousand, 70 thousand. It’s far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions. The big decision was closing the border or doing the ban, people coming in from China. Obviously other than American citizens which had to come in. Can’t say you can’t come back to your country. I think we’ve made a lot of good decisions. I think that Mike Pence and the task force have done a fantastic job. I think that everybody working on the ventilators, you see what we’ve done there, have done unbelievable. The press doesn’t talk about ventilators anymore. They just don’t want to talk about them and that’s okay. But the reason they don’t want to talk… That was a subject that nobody would get off of. They don’t want to talk about them. We’re in the same position on testing. We are lapping the world on testing and the world is coming to us. As I said, they’re coming to us saying, “What are you doing? How do you do it?” We’re helping them. So, no, I think we’ve done a great job and one person, I will say this, one person is too many. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
That was a good, moderate answer, never mentioning the election, only taking the cue to discuss the basis for thinking that he is deserving. Importantly, he resisted the temptation to speculate about whether his opponent would have done better. Who knows what Joe Biden would have done in the same circumstances?

But that's the comparison. That's what I think about when I hear the question, and I'm going to assume that President Biden also would have lost more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War. If losses to a sudden contagious disease are the test of whether a candidate deserves our vote, then we'd just be voting based on which person happened actually to be President at the time the disease hit.

I suppose many people like to think a different President would have done better. Theoretically, things could have been done better. Our dream President would have done better. But would Joe Biden have done better? Anyone who answers yes is, I suspect, someone who was already going to vote for Biden for some other reason.

Anyway, Trump got the question he got, and he didn't get bogged down in the kind of speculation that I'm blogging about here. He just made the pitch that he's done a good enough job — which is, in Trumpspeak, "a fantastic job."

"Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine."

"The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test. 'The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans,' Dr. Munster said, noting that scientists were still analyzing the result. He said he expected to share it with other scientists next week and then submit it to a peer-reviewed journal."

From "In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead/As scientists at the Jenner Institute prepare for mass clinical trials, new tests show their vaccine to be effective in monkeys" (NYT).

Good news. Let's feel good about good news.

Also... I like the name Vincent Munster. It's like something from a screenplay about a scientist. But let's hope this story is too boring for a screenplay: They made a vaccine and it works.

Sunrise, 6:02.


Actual sunrise time: 5:54.

April 27, 2020

“A judge has ruled against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, issuing a restraining order over the extension of the state’s stay-at-home order, putting the statewide plan in jeopardy.”

“Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney ruled against Pritzker's order, granting a restraining order to Rep. Darren Bailey, who filed the lawsuit against the governor. The ruling only applies to Bailey, exempting him from the stay-at-home order, but it's unclear what impact the legal challenge will have on other state residents.”

NBC Chicago reports.

MEANWHILE: “Attorney General William Barr on Monday directed federal prosecutors to ‘be on the lookout’ for public health measures put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic that might be running afoul of constitutional rights” (The Hill).

"Kim Jong Un? I can't tell you exactly. Yes, I do have a very good idea, but I can't talk about it now... I do know how he's doing, relatively speaking... You'll probably be hearing it in the not too distant future."

"I do know how he's doing, relatively speaking" — I take that to mean Trump knows relatively more than the reporter. And he has "a very good idea," which suggests he knows quite a bit more than just relatively more than the rest of us. But he "can't talk about it," though to say that is to talk about it.

So what do you think Trump knows — that Kim Jong Un is dead (or in some near-death condition)?

Creepy sunrise.


I consider all Karenology to be sexist... nevertheless:

"The rally held at the Wisconsin State Capitol (Friday) by individuals protesting the governor’s ‘Safer at Home’ order was clearly an exercise in white privilege...."

"Why have there been no mass arrests or municipal citations issued for this non-essential gathering? In order for us to move past this pandemic and to truly flatten the curve we need compliance from the public. In any other situation, willful non-compliance with the law is met with the full force of law enforcement, yet when the protestors are predominantly white and male defiance is rewarded with inaction and complacency...."

From a statement by Wisconsin state Senator State Rep. LaKeshia Myers, quoted at The Daily Wire.

Just asking.

"I talk in the book about thinking about playing 'Imagine.' But that wasn’t the right one."

"I needed to play something from a great songwriter that had an emotion that wasn’t about violence, but that also contained grief. Tom Waits has the line, 'So close your eyes, son, this won’t hurt a bit.'"

Said Tori Amos, asked about performing Tom Waits’s song “Time” when she was the first musical guest to play on David Letterman's show after the 9/11 attacks. She is quoted in "Tori Amos Believes the Muses Can Help//A conversation about music, politics, and what you learn about America from being on the road" (in The New Yorker).

Here are the lyrics to "Time." Consider the process of thinking twice about playing "Imagine" and coming up with "Time." That was back on September 18, 2001. Now, as celebrities ineptly return to "Imagine" for our coronavirus pain, it's worth reflecting on Tori Amos's alternative, "Time."

Here's her new memoir, "Resistance."

"You can’t tell people in a dense urban environment all through the summer months: 'We don’t have anything for you to do. Stay in your apartment with the three kids.' That doesn’t work. There’s a sanity equation here also that we have to take into consideration."

Said Governor Cuomo, quoted in "Coronavirus Live Updates: Some States Ease Restrictions..." (NYT).

Cuomo "laid out a broad outline on Sunday for a gradual restart of the state that would allow some 'low risk' businesses upstate to reopen as soon as mid-May. He did not speculate when restrictions would be eased in New York City and surrounding suburbs. But he noted that they could not persist indefinitely."

"But the troublemakers were as bizarre as they were inescapable... There was the mysterious tent urinator, who found a way to pee on the side of another man’s tent..."

"... every night for six straight weeks (and whose identity is an as-yet uncracked case). The man who always took photos of me changing flat tires to send home to his wife, because 'she was never going to believe that a woman could do this.' The woman who had never ridden a bike before the trip. The daily hitchhiker who 'didn’t do climbs' and thumbed for rides up hills. The racer who wanted everyone else to ride farther and faster each day. The relapsed gambling addict who snuck into town every night and couldn’t be trusted with group funds. The sexual harasser who hounded me daily with lewd comments unfit to print. And in every group, there was always one person who tried to rile up a mutiny because he wanted out of the cooking rotation. It was hard to know who these people were in their daily lives, when they weren’t pushing their bodies to the limit and sleeping on the ground. I had to imagine that the mysterious tent urinator wasn’t similarly taking out his frustrations on a coworker’s office chair. Maybe all that misdirected rage could be chalked up to exhaustion, homesickness, and electrolyte imbalance?"

From "I Loved Bike Touring—Until I Got Paid to Do It/Seduced by the idea of turning my hobby into a paycheck, I led bike tours across the U.S. throughout my twenties. As I learned, some passion pursuits are best left pro bono," by Caitlin Giddings (at Outside). Excellent illustration, by the way.

"And as a young black girl growing up in Mississippi, I learned that if I didn't speak up for myself, no one else would."

"So... my mission is to say out loud if I'm asked the question, 'yes, I would be willing to serve.' But I know that there's a process that will be played out, that Joe Biden is going to put together the best team possible. And I believe that he will pick the person he needs."

Said Stacey Abrams, on "Meet the Press" yesterday, when Chuck Todd asked her, "Do you believe you'd be the best running mate Joe Biden could find?"

Notice that she's answering a different question from the one that was asked. One could infer that the answer to the question asked is no. She's not the best running mate Biden could find. She contorted her way to another question — Are you willing to serve? — which is, apparently, the question she wanted or anticipated. To that, she says yes.

But couldn't she have said yes to the question asked? Before she got to the part of her answer I've quoted above, she said, "I was raised to tell the truth. And so when I'm asked a question, I answer it as directly and honestly as I can." Who knows if that is the truth? But assuming it is, I infer that her answer to the question asked is no.

I guess she wasn't raised to answer questions straightforwardly. Only "as directly and honestly as I can." But why can't she give a yes or no to the question Chuck Todd asked? The answer seems to be that she was raised to speak up for herself. And yet she did not take the opportunity to promote herself as the best person.

That's as far as I go for now understanding the rhetoric, ethics, and mind of Stacey Abrams.

6:02, 6:12.



Actual sunrise time: 5:56.

"It is giving us this quite extraordinary insight into just how much of a mess we humans are making of our beautiful planet. This is giving us an opportunity to magically see how much better it can be."

Said Duke University conservation scientist Stuart Pimm, quoted in "As people stay home, Earth turns wilder and cleaner. These before-and-after images show the change" (by AP science writer Seth Borenstein, published at

Another quote — from Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: "In many ways we kind of whacked the Earth system with a sledgehammer and now we see what Earth's response is."

With photographs and maps, the article concentrates on the reduction in air pollution. There's also a bit about wild animals taking the opportunity to show themselves on city streets. But I'd like to see more about climate change.

All the article says is:
The greenhouse gases that trap heat and cause climate change stay in the atmosphere for 100 years or more, so the pandemic shutdown is unlikely to affect global warming, says Breakthrough Institute climate scientist Zeke Hausfather. Carbon dioxide levels are still rising, but not as fast as last year.
But this can be viewed as an experimental head start on the Green New Deal we've heard so much about. What had seemed impossible to begin is now a way of life we've plunged into. We've gone much further than what the climate activists were proposing, though we've done it for a different reason, by government order, under the fear of death by disease, and seemingly only for a few weeks (or months).

Why aren't people saying that when we emerge in phases from this lockdown — as we must, or we face economic doom — we should not attempt to go back to everything that we were doing before but go forward into some livable, workable form of the Green New Deal?

Shouldn't the Democrats be saying this? Where's Joe Biden?

Could Donald Trump and the Republicans offer something like this? I know the term "Green New Deal" has a Democratic Party sound to it, but why can't they present something visionary and future-looking that inspires hope instead of merely presuming that what's best is whatever we happened to have had in the past?

April 26, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk 'til dawn.