August 15, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can talk about anything you like.

I photographed the water lilies of Lake Mendota at 1:27 in the afternoon today. No sunrise picture today. I skipped the ritual for a couple inadequate reasons.

Is the biggest story in the world today the Postal Service?

That's how it looks in The Washington Post. The top left 2/3s of the home page:

You may wonder: What about Trump's Middle East deal? Isn't that the big news? Well, it is over there on the right-hand side under the heading "Opinion," the 4th item down, a column by Max Boot: "Despite the UAE-Israel deal, Trump will leave the Mideast a bigger mess than he found it."

It's easy to understand. Whatever happened, it's bad for Trump, and it's important to the extent that it's bad for Trump.

I see I have a tag "going Washington Postal." I'm adding it because it seems randomly appropriate and because I want to publish and click on it to see what it really is.

Facebook invites me to share a "memory" from November 2010... and it takes me a little while to get my head around it.

Here's my original blog post from 2010, when Trump was considering running for President in 2016 and said: "I am thinking about things. And I'm looking at this country ... and what's happened in terms of respect, and the respect for this country is just not there. I have many people from China that I do business with, they laugh at us. They feel we're fools. And almost being led by fools. And they can't believe what they're getting away with."

ADDED: This is a post about how Facebook confused me today, but maybe I'm confusing you. What's the time line? Today's suggestion from Facebook, if you read the fine print, says that I put this on Facebook 4 years ago, which was during the 2016 presidential campaign. It's a screen shot from something I'd put on the blog in 2010 which was 10 years ago. I think it's interesting again, as Trump runs for reelection.

Can Biden escape criticism for the political use of race by accusing the critics of racism?

I'm reading "Australian newspaper cartoon of U.S. candidates Harris and Biden criticized as racist" (Reuters):
The cartoon by Johannes Leak in The Australian newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and is known for its conservative views, depicted a beaming Biden saying, “It’s time to heal a nation divided by racism.” The drawing then showed him pointing to Harris, the first Black woman on a major-party U.S. presidential ticket, and saying, “So I’ll hand you over to this little brown girl while I go for a lie-down.”...

The cartoon drew immediate criticism from some officials, and other critics. “It’s offensive and racist,” Andrew Giles, an Australian Labor politician and shadow cabinet minister, said on Twitter. Former attorney-general Mark Dreyfus tweeted, “If The Australian has any respect for decency and standards it must apologise immediately, and never again publish cartoons like this.”

The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Christopher Dore, stood by the cartoon, saying Leak was mocking Biden’s own words. “The words ‘little black and brown girls’ belong to Joe Biden, not Johannes, and were uttered by the presidential candidate when he named Kamala Harris as his running mate yesterday; he repeated them in a tweet soon after,” Dore said in a note to the newspaper’s staff, provided to Reuters by News Corp.... “The intention of Johannes’s commentary was to ridicule identity politics and demean racism, not perpetuate it.”
In fact, as the article points out, Biden introduced Harris as his running mate by saying, “This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up - especially Black and brown girls who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities - but today, today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way: as the stuff of presidents and vice presidents.”

That is, Biden used race for political purposes. He said the words "black and brown girls" as he presented his running mate as an exemplar. Maybe that's okay. Maybe that's excellent. But it's not above mockery. The idea that the cartoonist is a racist is an effort to defend Biden, to give him free rein to use race and to make anyone who would criticize him afraid that they'll get called a racist and cancelled.

There are people who think that any use of race is racist. These people are mostly on the right. They'll say that anti-racism demands austere colorblindness. But these people are not dominant in mainstream politics and culture at the moment. So speaking in racial terms is quite common among people who don't want to be considered racist. But no one can control where the line is between the talk about race that's worthy and beneficial and where it begins to get racist. The cartoonist was implying that Biden's use of race is at least a little racist, and one defense of Biden is to say that the cartoonist was racist.

One thing is clear to me: If Biden is going to use race the way he has, he must be open to ridicule for using it the wrong way or using it too much. We are lost if we let American culture degenerate into power-seekers who use race as a manipulative tool and masses of people who look on blankly and nod because they don't know how to object without getting accused of racism.

ADDED: Here's the cartoon:

August 14, 2020

At the Friday Night Café...


... go ahead and write about anything.

As for that photograph, it was taken at 6:02 this morning, and we spent a lot of time trying to understand the unusual orange shape on the water — an elongated doughnut shape. It's a clear sky — Type #3 — sunrise. I've seen that many times. But the shape on the water brings uniqueness to this sunrise.

What? You believed me??!! — It was a debate.

"It’s a geopolitical earthquake."

"Just go down the scorecard, and you see how this deal affects every major party in the region — with those in the pro-American, pro-moderate Islam, pro-ending-the-conflict-with-Israel-once-and-for-all camp benefiting the most and those in the radical pro-Iran, anti-American, pro-Islamist permanent-struggle-with-Israel camp all becoming more isolated and left behind.... It was Trump’s peace plan drawn up by Jared Kushner, and their willingness to stick with it, that actually created the raw material for this breakthrough.... This deal will certainly encourage the other gulf sheikhdoms — Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — all of which have had covert and overt business and intelligence dealings with Israel, to follow the Emirates’ lead. They will not want to let the U.A.E. have a leg up in being able to marry its financial capital with Israel’s cybertechnology, agriculture technology and health care technology, with the potential to make both countries stronger and more prosperous. Three other big winners here are: 1) King Abdullah of Jordan. He feared that Israeli annexation would energize efforts to turn Jordan into the Palestinian state. That threat is for the moment defused. 2) The American Jewish community. If Israel had annexed part of the West Bank, it would have divided every synagogue and Jewish community in America, between hard-line annexationists and liberal anti-annexationists. This was a looming disaster. Gone for now. And 3) Joe Biden. Biden, if he succeeds Trump, will not have to worry about the thorny issue of annexation, and he should have a much stronger pro-American alliance in the region to work with. The big geopolitical losers are Iran and all of its proxies: Hezbollah, the Iraqi militias, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen and Turkey...."

From "A Geopolitical Earthquake Just Hit the Mideast/The Israel-United Arab Emirates deal will be felt throughout the region" by Thomas Friedman (NYT).

"Adolph Reed and his ilk believe that if we talk about race too much we will alienate too many, and that will keep us from building a movement."

"We don’t want that — we want to win white people to an understanding of how their racism has fundamentally distorted the lives of Black people," said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Princeton professor of African-American studies and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, quoted in "A Black Marxist Scholar Wanted to Talk About Race. It Ignited a Fury/The cancellation of a speech reflects an intense debate on the left: Is racism the primary problem in America today, or the outgrowth of a system that oppresses all poor people?" (NYT).

Also quoted, Cornel West, the Harvard professor of philosophy, who is a Socialist: “God have mercy, Adolph is the greatest democratic theorist of his generation. He has taken some very unpopular stands on identity politics, but he has a track record of a half-century. If you give up discussion, your movement moves toward narrowness."

From Reed himself: "An obsession with disparities of race has colonized the thinking of left and liberal types. There’s this insistence that race and racism are fundamental determinants of all Black people’s existence."

Buried in the article is Reed's opinion of Joe Biden: his “tender mercies have been reserved for the banking and credit card industries.” I'd like to hear more of that — skepticism about Biden's racial politics.

"Young White House aides frequently mocked Biden’s gaffes and lack of discipline in comparison to the almost clerical Obama."

"They would chortle at how Biden, like an elderly uncle at Thanksgiving, would launch into extended monologues that everyone had heard before....  Obama and [Hillary] Clinton both viewed themselves as pioneers who worked their way through America’s elite colleges. Obama went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he headed the law review; Clinton went from Wellesley to Yale Law School. They shared a work style as well, always sure to do their homework and arrive at a meeting prepared to get to the crux of an issue. 'They do the reading,' said one former Clinton aide. 'In Situation Room meetings, she had the thickest binder and had read it three times.' Biden’s own academic career was unimpressive—he repeated the third grade, earned all Cs and Ds in his first three semesters at the University of Delaware except for As in P.E., a B in 'Great English Writers' and an F in ROTC, and graduated 76th in his Syracuse Law School class of [1968].... He was not a binder person, Clinton and Obama aides said.... Biden’s tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind rankled Obama, who wasn’t afraid to needle him for it. In his first press conference in 2009, the young president quipped 'I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to—not surprisingly'.... Biden has long been defensive about suggestions of being dumb or a lightweight—a narrative that took hold during in his first campaign for the presidency, in 1988...."

From "'The President Was Not Encouraging': What Obama Really Thought About Biden/Behind the friendship was a more complicated relationship, which now drives the former vice president to prove his partner wrong" by Alex Thompson (at Politico). Lots more at the link.

"That’s what real leadership looks like. We just witnessed real leadership, which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months..."

"... so what real leadership looks like is Joe Biden to speak up, sometimes telling us the stuff that we don’t necessarily want to hear, but we need to know. And the need for this mandatory mask wearing will also be about what Joe has articulated....  So again, Joe Biden is about real leadership in our country, and I’m honored to be with you, Joe."

Said Kamala Harris, after taking off her mask to speak into the microphone into which Joe Biden had just spoken. He too took off his mask before speaking. I thought it was funny that she kept saying he's what "real leadership looks like," when we were looking at him without his mask as he was saying "every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum."

Transcript. Video.

To be fair, they were inside. My understanding is that the virus is more dangerous inside, but they want every American to wear a mask all the time when they're outside. I don't know why everyone would be asked to wear a mask everywhere outside in America. What if you're in your own backyard and there's no one else around or working on your rural property or in the backwoods somewhere? I guess they want a simple rule, one size fits all, and they're thinking about the crowded cities where their voters reside. Or maybe they think people are too dumb to apply a standard that's anything but a flat rule. Maybe they're hoping to irritate Middle America and cause the deplorables to act out and say stupid things.

I'll just focus in on Harris's last line. The delivery is astoundingly insincere — the boredom, the smirk, the rush to get the hell out of there...

... so bizarrely inconsistent with the "what leadership looks like" theme.

ADDED: The real reason for the statement "every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum"? I think it's a set up for an accusation that will be made against Trump in the coming months.
If the president had acted sooner, just one week earlier, it would have saved 30-some-thousand lives. Two weeks earlier, I think it was 51,000 or 57,000 lives. I hope we’ve learned a lesson. Hope the president has learned a lesson, but again, this is not about Democrat, Republican or independent. It’s about saving America’s lives, so let’s Institute a mass mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives. The estimates are we’ll save over 40,000 lives in the next three months if that is done.
That is, Biden said on Thursday, everybody start wearing masks all the time now. He's not President, so we're in imagination land, where everyone took the order from the President and masks were worn, and you can make up the number 40,000 and say that 40,000 people died because President Trump didn't say what Joe Biden said. Watch for that number.

ALSO: Here are Joe and Kamala exposing themselves to reporters long enough to make the shooing away of reporters look awkward. The one question we hear is a ludicrous softball:

"So Trump’s Suburban Lifestyle Dream is basically a walled village that the government built for whites, whose gates were slammed shut when others tried to enter."

"What is Biden proposing to remedy at least some of these injustices? Reasonable, significant, but hardly revolutionary stuff — things like expanding rental vouchers while cracking down on redlining and exclusionary zoning. Trump may claim that such policies would 'destroy suburbia,' but that only makes sense if you believe that the only alternative to bloody anarchy is a community that looks exactly like Levittown in 1955....  [T]he big difference between the parties now is that Biden and Harris are trying to make things better, trying to make us more like the country we’re supposed to be. Trump and Mike Pence, by contrast, are basically trying to make open racism great again."

Writes Paul Krugman in "Trump’s Racist, Statist Suburban Dream/Racial inequality wasn’t an accident. It was an ugly political choice" (NYT).

The second-highest-rated comment is from Phyliss Dalmatian of Wichita, Kansas:
Trump has turned the usual GOP dog whistle in a Tornado Siren. Blaring, omnipresent and undeniable. The Party Of, by and for White Males, with their stepford wives and perfect blue eyed children. That’s the myth, and the aspiration. Join us !

Except Johnny starts fires, bullies younger kids and has started stealing pain pills from relatives homes. And Sally has dreams of a glamorous life as a FOX spokesmodel, the epitome of GOP womanhood, before aging out. At 30. But, she’ll find a rich Husband before that, no problem.

Professor, to the very, very large majority of the GOP, not white people are an afterthought, at best. Takers, Moochers, Lazy, irresponsible, criminal, blah, blah blah.

Dream on, GOP. Your time is nearly done. You won’t be able to WIN, irregardless of vast and inventive Cheating.

Trump is your Epitaph. You own Him.
A wild fever dream from Wichita — replete with random capitalization, "irregardless," and raging contempt for white people. What's up with Kansas? I love the inclusion of the "Tornado Siren." Makes me want to conjure up some "Wizard of Oz" jokes. Maybe something with Toto and a Dalmation....

"I’ve been using 'Black' and 'African-American' somewhat interchangeably here. But there’s a good case to be made that this is a mistake..."

"... that 'Black' denotes a racial category and is inclusive of Americans throughout the African diaspora, while 'African-American' refers to national origins, specifically descendants of American slaves. But some Black Americans who are not descendants of slaves claim the term 'African-American,' and some who are descendants do not. And 'Black' also tends to be used in reference to the cultural heritage of Americans of African descent. This column is about 'blackness' as a category and a culture, so I will stick with 'Black' as my preferred terminology. My main point is this: Black American identity within the United States emerges from the interaction between structures of oppression — slavery, the slave trade and race hierarchy — and the needs and goals of those enmeshed within them.... Because of heritage, upbringing and the realities of American racism, [Kamala] Harris calls herself Black and is also understood as Black by people within and outside the Black community.... There has never been some essential element to blackness, no singular quality or attribute that makes someone a Black American.... [I]t might be better to ask 'Why do so many Americans of African descent claim blackness?'"

From "Black Like Kamala/Republican efforts to deny Senator Harris’s identity as an African-American and turn her into a noncitizen are destined to fail" by Jamelle Bouie in the NYT, reacting to Mark Levin's statement "Kamala Harris is not an African-American, she is Indian and Jamaican. Her ancestry does not go back to American slavery, to the best of my knowledge her ancestry does not go back to slavery at all."

Notice that Bouie speaks of "claiming" blackness, and Levin stresses outwardly checkable facts. It's a bit like the way people of the left and the right speak about gender.

By the way, why would you capitalize "Black" but not "blackness"?

August 13, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you want — until the break of day.

Who was the first person to say "groovy" in a movie?

"When you spend your workday failing to make words do what you want them to do, staring at G A C E H L N and suddenly seeing 'ganache' is a sweet victory."

"Discovering the pangram—'challenge,' in this case—feels like a colonic for my neural pathways.... It’s a rare morning that I don’t allow myself five to 10 minutes with Bee upon waking.... My goal is to hit 'Amazing' by 7 a.m., which allows me to circle back to the puzzle all day, pick, pick, picking until I hit 'Genius.' Only a lack of time ever causes me to surrender; I have kept the puzzle open in my tabs to keep working it for several days...."

From "The NYT Spelling Bee Gives Me L-I-F-E/In the real world, I am me. In Bee world I’m an Amazing! Genius!" (Slate). The article is from last February, but I've only started doing this puzzle in the last couple weeks. I'm a big fan! When I got "potable" out of OABELPT yesterday, I felt special.

"Seven weeks after a biracial woman told police she had been sprayed with lighter fluid by a group of white men and then set on fire..."

"... police and the woman’s family say the investigation into the incident continues. But little information about the June 24 incident has been released as the Madison police and the FBI continue to investigate. Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said... 'There is nothing new to release at this time'...  Althea Bernstein, 18, of Monona, told police she was stopped at a stoplight, possibly on West Gorham Street at State Street, around 1 a.m. on June 24 when four white men approached her vehicle. One yelled a racial epithet. She told police one of the men sprayed her with lighter fluid through her open driver’s-side window, then threw a lighter or match at her, igniting the fluid on her face and neck. She said they looked like 'frat boys' and that two were wearing floral shirts and blue jeans. The other two, she said, were dressed all in black and were wearing masks.... [P]olice have not released any surveillance camera images.... The Bernstein incident has been a much-debated topic of discussion on social media, with many asking why police have not released any further information since it was initially reported."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

ADDED: Couldn't the police just tell us whether there is continual camera footage for all the intersections crossing State Street and whether there's an image of her car when it crossed State Street? Shouldn't that be easy? She's clear that it happened crossing State Street. In Madison, crossing State Street is very obvious. You know when you're there, and she said that's where it happened. Shouldn't the police at least be able to tell us that something or nothing happened as the car crossed State Street (or alternatively that there is no footage of the car crossing State Street)? This story was such a big deal at the time, and it stirred people up about racial hatred. It's important to get the truth out so we can feel relieved or wary, depending on the evidence.

Pulling the light switch.

On Lake Mendota at 6:03 this morning.


Joe Biden and Kamala Harris deploy the Charlottesville hoax to stir up racial pain and anger.

Here's the "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Speech Transcript August 12: First Campaign Event as Running Mates." I watched a small part of it because the TV was on in the room I happened to be in. I myself never turn on the TV news. In fact, I often get up and leave the room when it's on. I keep my distance from the virulent news and stick to reading on line (with small doses of video occasionally). In the bit of Joe Biden's speech that I saw, I found him hard to listen to. I wondered how anyone who had English as a second language could understand him, the way he drops consonants — for example, saying "whe'er not" for "whether or not." He sounded angry but disconnected from the text he was reading.

But I'm reading the text this morning because I saw in a tweet that he was forefronting the Charlottesville "fine people" hoax. On his first day of campaigning with his running mate, he led with that. I say "he," but I don't really believe it's him. I think it's more likely that he's a foggy-minded figurehead, and other people have decided to frame the message like that. I consider these people — whoever they are — despicable. They have chosen quite deliberately to commit to a lie that is intended to make black people feel hated and they are doing it for political gain.

As my earlier post about the tweet says, I blogged in April 2019, "If Biden does not come forward and retract [a video relying on the Charlottesville hoax] and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified. He does not have the character or brain power to be President." Now, more than a year later, Biden has done the opposite. He's doubled down on the lie and he's making it the centerpiece of his campaign!

Biden put up that tweet last night after the speech. This post is to look at the transcript of the speeches that Biden and Harris gave at their event yesterday and to pull out the Charlottesville quotes:

"After 59 years of friendship, laughter, tears, jail cells and lost brain bells [sic], we have handed over our lovely lead singer Wayne Fontana to the big band in rock and roll heaven."

Wrote Peter Noone ("Herman"), quoted in "Wayne Fontana, British singer who topped US charts with Game of Love, dies aged 74" (The Guardian).
Born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis in the Levenshulme area of Manchester, Fontana took his stage name from the Elvis Presley drummer DJ Fontana. Backed by his band, the Mindbenders, he released his debut single in 1963 and further singles grew ever more successful: Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um reached No 5 in the UK in 1964, with The Game of Love reaching No 2 the following year and going on to become his signature song....

He was arrested on an arson charge in 2005 after setting fire to a car owned by a bailiff who had come to his house for an unpaid congestion charge fine, and who was inside the car as it was set alight. He faced a possible 14 years in prison, though was eventually sentenced to 11 months, which had already been served.
A "congestion charge" is a fee you have to pay to drive your car in Central London: "The charge helps to not only reduce high traffic flow in the city streets, but also reduces air and noise pollution in the central London area and raises investment funds for London's transport system."

I was wondering why the obituary didn't mention my favorite Mindbenders song, "A Groovy Kind of Love." Answer: Wayne Fontana had left the group by this point, 1965, and the lead guitarist Eric Stewart became the vocalist.

I've never much liked "The Game of Love" and to me "Um Um Um Um Um Um" is a Major Lance song. I didn't even know The Mindbenders had a version of it. In the UK, I guess.

I only got started writing this post because I love "A Groovy Kind of Love":

And here's the 1988 Phil Collins (which I include because I know people are talking about Phil Collins this week):

Biden once again tweets the lie that he put in his announcement video — the lie that caused me to say "If Biden does not come forward and retract this video and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified."

Here is the post I wrote on April 19, 2020, "Biden's announcement video is anchored in a demonstrable lie":
I'm blogging this morning in a public place, so although I've put up 2 posts about Biden's announcement video, I had not yet listened to it. I finally got out my headphones out so I could  listen, but I could not get through to the end, because I became so angry at the LIE and the continued music and montage became torture to me.

In the part that I did see, we were shown images from the Charlottesville march — replete with the "Jews will not replace us" chant and swastikas — and then Biden's blandly earnest face asserted that Trump said some of them "are fine people." But Trump did not say that! It's absolutely established that Trump excluded those people explicitly before saying that there were some fine people on both sides of the question of keeping Confederate statues. (At the time of the fine people remark, Trump said, "I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.")

How dare Biden rest his campaign on a blatant lie — a lie that has been used to stir up fear and racial discord?! The hypocrisy of offering to bring us together and embrace lofty values when he is either repulsively ignorant or just plain lying!

I could not finish watching that video. I tried, but I couldn't force myself. It's utterly toxic bilge.

If Biden does not come forward and retract this video and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified. He does not have the character or brain power to be President.

August 12, 2020

Sunrise, 6:02 a.m.


Please feel free to use the comments section to write about anything you'd like.

The delicate new avocado tree in the morning sunlight.


"On social media, Indian politicians and commentators also exulted in the selection of Harris."

"The fact that someone of Indian origin could be 'a proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency is thrilling,' wrote Shashi Tharoor, a politician with the opposition Congress Party. Ram Madhav, a senior official in India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, saluted the history-making nature of the pick.... In Tamil Nadu, the south Indian state where Harris’s mother grew up, there was special pride. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a local politician, praised the 'inclusiveness' of the choice and wished Harris well in the election. Harris — whose first name means 'lotus' — has said that after her parents’ divorce, her mother raised her two daughters with an appreciation of their dual heritage. 'My Indian mother knew she was raising two black daughters,' Harris said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2015. 'But that’s not to the exclusion of who I am in terms of my Indian heritage.'... Harris visited India regularly as a child and understands some Tamil, her relatives said."

From "Kamala Harris pick sparks delight in India and Jamaica" (WaPo).

There's something quite sad about saying "My Indian mother knew she was raising two black daughters." Why wasn't that mother — who did the work of raising the daughters and who contributed equally to their genetic makeup — allowed to feel pride in raising two Indian daughters? I know the stock answer. I just think it perversely gives power to the worst people.

ADDED: When Kamala Harris said "My Indian mother knew she was raising two black daughters," her mother had already died and was therefore in no position to speak for herself about how she conceived of her role as a mother. The mother,  Shyamala Gopalan "was an India born Tamil American cancer researcher and civil rights activist": "She insisted on giving her daughters names derived from Indian culture to help preserve their cultural identity."

Ah! The return of the snake chart! And there's Wisconsin! The most important state of all!

Nate Silver has his prediction model running again, with excellent graphics.

ADDED: Silver writes:
Our model says there’s an 81 percent chance that Biden wins the popular vote — compared to his 71 percent chance in the Electoral College.... [O]ur projection as of Tuesday had Biden winning the popular vote by 6.3 percentage points nationally, but winning the tipping-point state, Wisconsin, by a smaller margin, 4.5 percentage points....

[A]s a rough rule-of-thumb, perhaps you can subtract 2 points from Biden’s current lead in national polls to get a sense for what his standing in the tipping point states looks like. Add it all up, and you can start to see why the model is being fairly cautious. Biden’s current roughly 8-point lead in national polls is really more like a 6-point lead in the tipping point states. And 6-point leads in August are historically not very safe....

"The scenery that annually draws 120 million tourists would not exist if not for cows grazing."

"It has been cultivated over seven centuries of farmers driving their herds to mountainside meadows in the summer. The animals’ hoofs firm the soil, their tongues gently groom the grasses and wildflowers. In the process, they continually sculpt verdant pastures — beloved backdrops for movies like 'The Sound of Music.' All that seemed at stake when a court in the western state of Tyrol found [a farmer named Reinhard] Pfurtscheller solely responsible for the [death of a German woman hiker who was trampled by his cows] and ordered him to pay more than $210,000 in damages to her widower and son, plus monthly restitution totaling $1,850. The 2019 decision shocked farmers, and not just in Neustift im Stubaital, a village of fewer than 5,000 inhabitants who live at the foot of a glacier promoted as the 'Kingdom of Snow.' As foreclosure on Pfurtscheller’s home and farm loomed, some farmers contemplated banning hikers from their land, a move that would cut off access to the Alps. Others threatened to stop taking their cows into the Alps altogether, a move that would allow nature to cut back in. Forests would soon begin to take over.... Governments quickly acted to keep cows on the pastures. State governors, federal ministers, even the Austrian chancellor spoke out in support of Pfurtscheller, a slender man of 62 who has been farming since he was 10. Last year, federal law was changed to block similar litigation.... "

From "In the Alps, hikers on the trails and cows in the pasture make for perilous pairings" (WaPo).

It's dangerous to walk around cows! "Walkers in Britain, it seems, are killed by cows all the time," writes Bill Bryson in "The Road to Little Dribbling":
Four people were fatally trampled in one eight-week period in 2009 alone. One of these unfortunates was a veterinarian out walking her dogs on the Pennine Way, another long-distance trail, in Yorkshire. This was a woman who understood animals and liked them, probably had treats for cows in her pocket—and they still trampled her. More recently, a retired university lecturer named Mike Porter was trampled to death by an angry herd—yes, angry—in a field near the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire, a place where I had been walking only the year before. “It looked like they wanted to kill him,” one eyewitness breathlessly told the Daily Telegraph. It was the fourth serious attack on walkers in five years just by this one herd. 

"At this moment, the difference between the candidates is a chasm. There has never been a greater difference...."

"Take Biden's campaign positions. Farther to the left than any Democratic candidate in memory on things like climate. It's far better than anything that preceded it. Not because Biden had a personal conversion or the DNC had some great insight, but because they're being hammered on by activists coming out of the Sanders movement and others. The climate program, a $2 trillion commitment to dealing with the extreme threat of environmental catastrophe, was largely written by the Sunrise Movement and strongly endorsed by the leading activists on climate change, the ones who managed to get the Green New Deal on the legislative agenda. That's real politics.... This is not support for Biden. It is support for the activists who have been at work constantly, creating the background within the party in which the shifts took place, and who have followed Sanders in actually entering the campaign and influencing it. Support for them. Support for real politics. The left position is you rarely support anyone. You vote against the worst. You keep the pressure and activism going."

Said Noam Chomsky, quoted in "Noam Chomsky wants you to vote for Joe Biden and then haunt his dreams/The lion of the left on the pandemic, the election, the word Bernie Sanders needs to stop using, the Harper's letter, the 1619 Project, patriotism, and the greatest social movement in U.S. history" (The.Ink).

August 11, 2020

At the Tuesday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

"Years before meeting [Kamala] Harris, [Douglas] Emhoff was married to a woman named Kerstin, and they had two children together: Cole (after jazz saxophonist John Coltrane)..."

"... and Ella (after Ella Fitzgerald, of course). When Emhoff and Harris hit it off, the future attorney general was initially very wary of the idea of meeting his kids because she knew just how important they were to him. 'As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people... And I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. Children need consistency; I didn’t want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn’t want to disappoint them. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child.'"

From "Kamala Harris Husband, Douglas Emhoff, Is Her Number One Fan/Douglas Emhoff is the unofficial president of the #TeamKamala fan club" (Marie Claire).
View this post on Instagram

Grateful every day to be Momala to Ella and Cole.

A post shared by Kamala Harris (@kamalaharris) on

Trump has an anti-Kamala ad ready to go.

After all that! It's Kamala Harris.

"Joseph R. Biden Jr. selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his vice-presidential running mate on Tuesday, embracing a former rival who sharply criticized him in the Democratic primaries but emerged after ending her own campaign as a vocal supporter of Mr. Biden and a prominent advocate of racial-justice legislation after the death of George Floyd in late May" — the NYT reports.

It's so much the obvious choice that all I can wonder about is: Why did he almost not pick her?



"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez survived her primary. Rashida Tlaib did, too. Now it’s Ilhan Omar’s turn on Tuesday..."

"... and the Minnesota congresswoman faces the stiffest challenge of any member of the Squad.... Bankrolled by pro-Israel donors, Antone Melton-Meaux has spent more than twice as much as Omar on television ads, and outside groups have kicked in to increase his advantage.... Omar drew the ire of pro-Israel leaders this year when she made comments that many of them have deemed anti-Semitic. She tweeted once that Israel had 'hypnotized the world' and said that U.S. lawmakers supportive of Israel had a dual allegiance to that country and their own. Progressive groups, who spent big to help Tlaib in her primary last week, have not done much to back up Omar. The congresswoman’s internal polling from early July showed her with a big lead — but some operatives in the party fear this primary will be much closer than Tlaib’s...."

Politico reports.

"Like all the rich people leaving locked-down locales, parents removing kids from locked-down public schools have scared public officials."

"If just 10 percent of public-school kids homeschool or join a private school for two years, that is a watershed moment for the social undercurrent of animosity towards public schools.... This is dangerous to Democrats’ political dominance because the education system tilts voters their way through cultural Marxism, and because public education is a huge source of Democrat campaign volunteers and funds. Now Democrats have detached people from their conveyor belt. The consequences will be huge."

From "Why Democrats Have Started To Cave On Reopening Schools/The pressure to reopen schools is on everywhere now that New York is doing it. This means something else big: Their hard opposition to school reopenings is politically devastating for Democrats" (The Federalist).

That article links to "East Coasters are Snapping Up Vacation Homes Amid Coronavirus/Sales in resort and rural areas are surging as homebuyers look for getaways from Covid" (at Mansion Global). That shows the incredibly nice houses in beautiful places that the rich people of New York City have bought and relocated to. If they live there, they can send their children to school there. What a fantastic advantage!

"Joe Biden’s campaign, in conjunction with influential women’s groups, is preparing to blunt 'sexist' attacks aimed at his prospective running mate."

"That’s all well and good, but where does Sarah Palin go to recover her career? If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the Democrats (and women’s groups, and liberal elites in the media) are a bunch of hypocrites. After all, their sexist attacks helped batter a young female rising star deemed as an existential threat, and now they’re warning that the same thing might actually happen (gasp!) to them? Don’t get me wrong. Pushing back against sexism is good. But it also strikes me as a bit self-serving, coming from the party that has been less than chivalrous to women who got in the way of their liberal agenda (see Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and—most appropriately—John McCain’s running mate)."

Writes Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast, but you have to subscribe to read the whole article, unfortunately. I would subscribe — it's $35 a year — but then I would need to think about going to The Daily Beast because I've subscribed, and I don't want that burden. I haven't found The Daily Beast useful enough over the years to feel that I'm missing something. But I would like to read this whole article. I think we have enough of the idea in what we can see. Attacks on Biden's VP choice will be effective because Democrats who defend her can be confronted with their treatment of Sarah Palin and called hypocrites.

I wonder if Sarah Palin is presentable these days. If so, she can be used to lambaste whoever calls the VP attackers sexist.

And by "relish" you must mean enjoy looking on from the distance I am eager to put between me and this activity.

"I look forward to seeing how this department moves forward through the process of re-envisioning public safety. I relish the work that will be done by all of you," said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, quoted in "Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announces resignation/Best's resignation comes after the Seattle City Council voted to cut spending for the Seattle Police Department on Monday" (at King5).

"Stop! Are you aware that you have crossed into Welsh TikTok?"

If you're like me you will watch a few dozen of these.

"But while my husband and I knew the pressure of a traditional school day could be challenging for [Izac, my lanky, serious-faced 15-year-old], we didn’t realize exactly how miserable he was."

"It felt like he started breathing again the day in-person school was canceled. He started smiling again. This happiness was profound.... [T]here’s... a group of kids who, whether because of bullying, mental health issues or simple overscheduling and pressure, struggled at school in a way that’s been made undeniable by the way they’re thriving at home amid the pandemic. Parents like me are having to contemplate whether traditional school — a staple of American childhood — in fact hurts our children.... During quarantine, Izac hasn’t just finished schoolwork with more ease — he’s dived into hobbies and subjects he’s actually interested in: mountain biking, cooking and practicing archery at the local outdoor range. He even makes his own pizza crusts and sauces from scratch. It’s been painful for my husband and me to realize that in the years leading up to this pandemic, he was driven to exhaustion every day. But, we thought, doesn’t everyone hate school from time to time? Isn’t every teenager tired? So we nudged him back onto the hamster wheel, assuming that was the alternative to becoming 'helicopter parents' who cushion and coddle their kids into lifelong dependency. We never questioned whether we were pushing him into suffering. Now we have to ask: Will we do it again when his school reopens?"

From "What if Some Kids Are Better Off at Home?/For parents like me, the pandemic has come with a revelation: For our children, school was torture" by Joanna Schroeder (NYT).

Excellent illustration by Christine Almeda at the link.

I'm sure — I hope — that Izac agreed willingly to this invasion of his privacy. It gets back at the bullies and shows him in a much nicer light that it seems he appeared at school.

In the future, theft will be impossible.

August 10, 2020

At the Monday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

Have you ever heard of the street refrigerators of the United States?

The Guardian would like the world to think the United States is a place where there are refrigerators out on the sidewalk where people put their leftover food and from which the less fortunate can scavenge a meal: "'No one should go hungry': street fridges of free food help Americans survive Covid pandemic." This is a long article with photos. Excerpt:
[There's] a fridge set up on a street corner... in the Bronx. Neighbors and local businesses could donate food – homemade, store-bought, or leftover from a day’s sales – and anyone who needed food could take some..... At least 15 other community fridges have been set up in the five New York boroughs and New Jersey. Los Angeles and Oakland both have networks of community fridges up and running, and grassroots efforts to start community fridges in Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Miami are taking off....

A hot pink fridge with bright blue trim now sits outside [the home of a doula and software product designer named Tatiana Smith], with the words “FREE FOOD” and “COMIDA GRATIS” along the top. Neighbors help her watch the fridge, and people come looking for food at all hours of the day. “If you’re getting off work at 3am, that’s when you can have a meal,” Smith says, noting many Black and brown people may work multiple jobs with odd hours....

Smith says she never turns away donations unless they’re going bad, but she asks people to think about the fridge as an extension of their own. “If you wouldn’t eat that, what makes you think that other people would?”...
How do you know when the food is "going bad"? This just doesn't seem wholesome to me. A refrigerator?!

"Hillary Clinton will deliver a prime-time speech next Wednesday for the Democratic National Convention..."

"Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will join Mrs. Clinton, the 2016 nominee, on the Wednesday night program if she is not selected as Mr. Biden’s running mate, according to the officials. Former President Bill Clinton will speak as well, one of the officials said. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, a Republican who is a harsh critic of President Trump, will deliver addresses Monday night, the officials said. Former President Barack Obama’s time slot has not been announced (or leaked), but he could be included on a crammed Wednesday night program, or possibly introduce Mr. Biden on Thursday — to deliver a nationally televised rendition of the-Joe-I-know speech he has been giving during online Biden fund-raisers and round tables. It is not clear when Michelle Obama, who delivered what was widely regarded as the best speech at the 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C., will speak. But planners have privately said they believe her address could attract the widest viewership outside of Mr. Biden’s."

From "2020 Election Live Updates: Democratic Convention to Feature Obamas and Clintons" (NYT).

Other than the Obamas, this sounds awful. I can't believe we're going to be stuck watching both of the Clintons. It's all so terribly old. Who wants to hear from Kasich?! And Warren and Sanders are the opposite of Biden. They're the candidates who got elbowed out by the party that didn't want them. But I guess they'll be good and play their part and concentrate on how it's all about getting rid of Trump.

"I will bet you that no one has bombed harder than me."

For reference, here's the famously terrible intro routine from the 1989 Oscars:


"The looting began shortly after midnight as people darted through broken store windows and doors along Michigan Avenue carrying shopping bags full of merchandise. Cars dropped off more people as the crowd grew. At least one U-Haul van was seen pulling up.... Crowds repeatedly tried to bash in the windows of the Omega watch store at Delaware Place and Michigan Avenue. 'The watch store,' one officer said. 'They’re gonna get it eventually.' A group of people went in and out through a broken window of the Louis Vuitton store along Walton Place across the street from the Drake Hotel. A squad car drove by and the group ran away. But as the car rode off, at least one person tried to go into the shop. The police returned. 'Go home!' One cop shouted. 'You go home!' Someone shouted, apparently back at the officer."

ADDED: At the Washington Post, the headline is "Looters smash business windows along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile," and somebody in the comments says:
This must be a first for the Washington Post. They actually refer to those who smashed windows as "looters." Yesterday, they referred to those who intended to set fire to the Police Union's building in Portland as "protesters."

Is the Post finally waking up to smell the accelerant?

"You’re 24 dude. You don’t need an e bike. I might get one when I’m 80..."

"... or can’t ride a normal bike anymore because of injury, but until then I’m not taking the easy way out."

AND: Here's a 5-year-old mountain biking.

Why is Willie Brown saying Kamala Harris shouldn't accept an offer to be Joe Biden's running mate?

I can't get past the paywall at the San Francisco Chronicle, but here's a Newser article about Brown's column, "Kamala Harris should say no to vice presidency":
Brown is a fan of Harris, and he acknowledges that if Joe Biden wins the election, she'd have a place in history as the first-ever female VP. However, "the glory would be short-lived," he writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. The vice presidency is often "a dead end" to a person's political career, and while the veep is in office, the situation is not much better—he or she "has no real power and little chance to accomplish anything independent of the president."
First impression: That's weird. Is Brown forgetting that Joe Biden is so old and infirm that we're expecting the VP to become the president? Even if Biden were to win the election and serve a full term, he's not going to run for reelection and the VP will be obvious front-runner for the nomination in 2024. How, under these circumstances, could you possibly fall back on the standard notion that the vice presidency is often a "dead end"? You even used the word "dead"! I hope Joe lives a long long time, but come on, man, the Joe Biden VP will have the greatest inside track on the presidency anybody ever had.

So I wasn't going to blog that, but then it occurred to me. Brown knows all this. He has an ulterior motive. I'm just going to guess that he has reason to know or believe that Biden isn't offering the vice presidential nomination to Harris. So Brown's motivation is to give her cover: She didn't want it anyway. That person who's getting the nomination has lower stature than she does. She's too big for the vice presidency. That's the PR Brown is sketching out for his friend.

Womansplaining mansplaining.

In "She Explains ‘Mansplaining’ With Help From 17th-Century Art/In her new book 'Men to Avoid in Art and Life,' Nicole Tersigni harnesses her skill with a Twitter meme to illuminate the experience of women harassed by concern trolls, 'sexperts' and more" by Alisha Haridasani Gupta (NYT).

Here's Tersigni's Twitter feed, but it's not entirely examples of the meme explained and explained in the article. Here are 2 examples:

From the article:
“The mansplainer explains things in a condescending way,” Tersigni said. “Their thoughts are always unsolicited. Nobody is asking for them. One of my favorite jokes that I used in the thread and also in the book for the mansplainer is, ‘Let me explain your lived experience.’”
It's a nice social-media phenomenon that led quickly to the sale of a book, so congratulations to Tersigni. But she started her project last May. The idea of putting comic captions on old paintings certainly isn't her invention. It's the mainstay of the subreddit r/trippinthroughtime, which has 3.5 million followers and has been around since 2013. And the repurposing of old art for modern comic purposes was the method of the animation in in Monty Python (1969 to 1974):

August 9, 2020

At the Sunday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

And thanks for using the Althouse Portal when you shop at Amazon.

"It's been six years since Michael Brown's life was taken in Ferguson — reigniting a movement. We must continue the work of tackling systemic racism and reforming policing."

Breitbart reacts: "Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted Sunday that 'Michael Brown’s life was taken in Ferguson' — a reference to the founding myth of the Black Lives Matter movement, which claimed Brown was murdered by police in cold blood.... Left-wing activists popularized the slogan 'Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,' and claimed that Brown had been shot in the back with his hands raised in a gesture of surrender. Journalists and mainstream media pundits gave credence to the claim.... The Department of Justice under the Obama-Biden administration investigated Brown’s death and confirmed that there was no basis for charging Wilson under federal law. The investigation also suggested that Brown had attacked Wilson in his patrol car, reaching into the vehicle and attempting to seize the officer’s gun. In the ensuing struggle, part of Brown’s thumb was shot off. Brown ran away, and Officer Wilson pursued him. Wilson fired only when Brown charged at him...."

Loophole for Biden: He only said "Michael Brown's life was taken." Passive voice. True. There's no assertion that the life was wrongfully taken. Brown lost his life, and he didn't give his life, so technically, it was taken. And the loss of life did reignite a movement. People were touched off by that loss of life, and that really happened regardless of whether what the police did was entirely justified. And "the work of tackling systemic racism and reforming policing" stands apart from the facts of that particular incident.

So that's how he can defend himself if he's ever grilled with the material in the Breitbart article. But when is he ever grilled?! But if he's ever grilled, he has left himself room to explain his words. It's not a mistake. It's crafted. He meant to say exactly what he did (or rather, his people meant to say exactly what they did). They need that resonance with Black Lives Matter and are cagily constructing it.

"In June and July, Fox News was the highest-rated television channel in the prime-time hours of 8 to 11 p.m. Not just on cable."

"Not just among news networks. All of television. The average live Fox News viewership in those hours outstripped cable rivals like CNN, MSNBC and ESPN, as well as the broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC, according to Nielsen. That three-hour slot is a narrow but significant slice of TV real estate, and it is exceedingly rare for a basic-cable channel to outrank the Big Three broadcasters, which are available in more households and offer a wider variety of programming. Even the return of live sports did little to stop the momentum: The Fox News programs hosted by Mr. Carlson and Sean Hannity drew more live viewers than competing baseball and basketball games, including a Yankees-Nationals matchup on Opening Day.... MSNBC, whose liberal prime time is an ideological inverse to Fox News, has increased its audience from a year ago. But Rachel Maddow, once neck and neck with [Sean] Hannity at 9 p.m., has fallen behind all three of Fox News’s prime-time stars in total viewers. [Laura] Ingraham, who appears in the less desirable 10 p.m. slot, has drawn more viewers than Ms. Maddow for many months.... Major advertisers, including the Walt Disney Company, T-Mobile and Poshmark, boycotted [Tucker Carlson's show after he] denounced the protesters as violent anarchists. Later, the host called Senator Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran, a 'moron' and questioned her patriotism. In recent days, Mr. Carlson called former President Barack Obama a 'greasy politician' and wondered if [George] Floyd’s death had been caused by drug use rather than being pinned to the ground by a police officer. Mr. Carlson’s ratings have never been higher."

From "Boycotted. Criticized. But Fox News Leads the Pack in Prime Time" (NYT).

Shoes... ghosts....

For reference:

I have a Biblical theme this morning, but are there any shoes in the Bible? The closest I come is Ephesians 6:14-16:
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
It's because they were all wearing sandals. There are many references to sandals in the Bible. Matthew 3:11:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Come with me, and I will make you fishers of the sun.


I wanted to get the text of the Jesus quote right so I could transform it for the post title. Of course, there are many translations of Matthew 4:19, but the one I wanted was "Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men."

I couldn't find it. Translations that ended with "I will make you fishers of men" began with "Follow me" or "Come ye after me." Translations that began with "Come with me" had clumsy endings: "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish," "Come with me. The work I will give you will be to catch people,"  and — I am not kidding — "Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass."

The most fascinating part of this research project came at the beginning, when I started to search "Come with me...." Google guessed that I wanted "Come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination...."

As long as I'm googling, I search for Willy Wonka is like Jesus. Of course, people have talked about that on the internet. One answer:
Jesus is not like Willy Wonka. Our God is not a God who delights in keeping people in the dark, only to pull the rug out from under them in the last minute and deny them the rewards he promised. He is not a miser looking to withhold blessings on a technicality.

Instead, God delights in saving his people. Jesus says that he “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). That is why he came to earth, to save us from our sins. If he didn’t want to save us, he would not have come in the first place. Jesus is not a cheat. He is not a swindler. He is not an inhumane monster. Nothing could be further from the truth.