September 5, 2020

At the Golden Pink Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

How many comments do I need to read on this WaPo article about the professor who pretended to be black before the subject becomes Trump?

I'm reading "GWU plans to replace Jessica Krug, the professor who admitted to falsely claiming Black identity," and I've got the comments section sorted in order of up votes.

I bet the first comment makes it about Trump. What do you think? Want to do a bet with me? Well, if you had, I would have won, because the most up-voted comment is: "Weird. Be who you are people. If you're a failed businessman, grifter and reality-show host, don't try to be president. For example."

I remember when people said Trump was insane because he thought everything is about him, but these days, it's the anti-Trumpists who think everything is about him.

Journalism question: What does it mean to "confirm" a story?

"President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti of Kosovo took an enormous step toward a long-term resolution of their historic conflict on Friday morning."

"At the White House, under the auspices of President Trump, President Vučić and Prime Minister Hoti signed a brokered commitment to achieve economic normalization between the peoples and governments of Serbia and Kosovo....  The parties have agreed to construct a roadway and railway link between their respective capitals, Belgrade and Pristina. They have committed to a joint feasibility study on options for linking the rail infrastructure to a deep-sea port in the Adriatic.... All these agreements will enable a more free and efficient flow of people and goods across the border between Serbia and Kosovo.... It soon will be easier than ever for Serbs and Kosovars to live, work, trade and study in each other’s’ neighborhoods, companies and universities.... Friday’s agreement reflects President Trump’s long-held vision for Kosovo and Serbia to focus on economic development, job creation and industrial development as prerequisites to the permanent resolution of political disputes. His belief from the start has been that trust is built first in the process of creating opportunities and futures for young people, rather than in the settlement of scores, symbolism or the righting of historical wrongs...."

Writes Richard Grenell, a senior fellow of Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy and the Trump administration’s special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, in "Serbia-Kosovo agreement results from Trump's different brand of diplomacy" (The Hill).

And here's Grenell taking on the reporters:

He gets annoyed because the reporter wants to shunt Kosovo to the side and talk about homosexuality... because Grenell is a homosexual!

"I get this sense of dread, like I’m not going to wake up, like something is seriously wrong in the world."

Said Cheryl Ann Schmidt, describing "the heavy, knotlike feeling that hits her solar plexus every time she lies down at night, and even when she tries to nap," quoted in "The pandemic is ruining our sleep. Experts say ‘coronasomnia’ could imperil public health" (WaP).
[S]he lies awake fretting about finances and lost retirement plans, then chastising herself for self-pity when others are dying of covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Most nights, she waits in the darkness until she hears the thump of the newspaper hit her front door around 4:30 a.m. That’s when she gives herself permission to rise and read about the country’s latest crises at her dining table.

“Sometimes, the thought goes through my head that maybe getting this virus really is inevitable, that I should just get infected and get it over with. And if I die, I die,” Schmidt said. “It’s not that I really have a death wish, but in the middle of the night, I think to myself, I can’t continue living this way."
ADDED: I published this post, then thought: Look at the comments, look in order of up votes from readers, and see how far you need to read before somebody blames Trump. I predicted it would be the very first thing, and, indeed, this is the most up-voted comment: "it isn't the virus causing my insomnia, it's the orange idiot."

"President Trump is moving to revamp federal agencies’ racial sensitivity trainings, casting some of them as 'divisive' and 'un-American'..."

WaPo reports, citing a new memo from White House Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.
Vought says OMB will instruct federal agencies to come up with a list of all contracts related to training sessions involving “white privilege” or “critical race theory,” and do everything possible within the law to cancel those contracts, the memo states.... He... refers to press reports that say federal employees “have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism.’ ”...

“It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government,” Chris Rufo, research fellow at the right-wing Discovery Institute, told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson earlier this week....

[M.E. Hart, an attorney who has given hundreds of diversity training sessions for businesses and the federal government for more than 20 years, said] “If we are going to live up to this nation’s promise — ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — we have to see each other as human beings, and we have to do whatever it takes, including taking whatever classes make that possible... These classes have been very powerful in allowing people to do that, and we need them more than ever. There’s danger here.”...
Here's the memo.

Here's a Fox News article about Rufo's interview with Carlson. That article has the same quote plus a little more: "It's absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government. What I have discovered is that critical race theory has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people."

Why didn't The Washington Post find someone better than Hart to quote about the value of training federal employees in Critical Race Theory? It's Hart's business to sell this training. That's the ultimate bias. Instead WaPo pads its article with prods to think of Trump as some sort of racist:
Trump has put himself at the center of intense national debates about race, police tactics, the Civil War and the Confederate flag. Democrats have long taken aim at Trump’s comments about race, including his false assertion that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States. And this year, as numerous Black Lives Matter protests occurred around the country after police officers killed or shot Black Americans, Trump has sharply criticized social justice protesters and called for law enforcement to crack down.
Trump has sharply criticized social justice protesters? When did he criticize the protesters? Is WaPo using the word "protesters" to refer to the rioters, looters, and arsonists? Here's a higher level question for WaPo: Do you understand Critical Race Theory deeply enough to know whether it would include rioters, looters, and arsonists in the category "protesters"? Please show your work. I'm tired of the mushy insinuations. I'm reading WaPo this morning after taking a break from it and so far it's making me sick.

September 4, 2020

At the Deep Blue Café...


... you can write about anything you want.


If Trump had said he didn’t want to visit Aisne-Marne because the dead were "losers" and "suckers," John Bolton would have written an entire chapter about it in his book.

Biden did another press conference, but the pressfolk are helping him too much.

Here's the transcript in case you'd like to check the accuracy of York's assessment. And here's video:

"She must have treated that beauty salon owner pretty badly. She uses the salon and the salon turned her in? The salon turned her in."

"I don’t think I would have turned her in. I would’ve said, 'Well, you know, she’s a customer. I got to take care of my customers, right?' But she made them open, and the salon turned her in and the salon did business with her. How much do they hate Nancy Pelosi? Then she made a terrible mistake because you want people that can’t be set up. She said, 'I was set up. I was set up by the salon owner. I was set up.' I said, 'Tell me she didn’t say that, please.' I just put out, that if she was set up, then she shouldn’t be leading the House of Representatives. I want the salon owner to lead the House of Representatives, because she set up … Think of it. She set up the Speaker of the House. That was a big mistake. As soon as I heard, she said, 'Well, she’s set me up,' Nancy, you’re not supposed to get set up. You’re representing our country. You know what she should have done honestly? She should have said, 'I made a mistake, sorry,' and nobody would be talking about, this is like the biggest story. This is the big, crazy Nancy, highly overrated person."

From "Donald Trump Latrobe, Pennsylvania Rally Speech Transcript September 3."

"As the mail-in ballots are tallied, the Trump leads erode. But the situation is genuinely unclear. Trump is on the warpath, raging about fraud."

"Within weeks there are lawsuits and challenges everywhere. It’s like Florida in 2000, but the chaos is happening in many states at once. Ballots are getting tossed because of problems with signatures, or not getting tossed, amid national frenzy. Trump says he won’t let Democrats steal the election and declares himself re-elected.... It turns out, amid the existential crisis, there really is a group of sober people who are militant about America, who can see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship, and who are finally compelled to organize.... The process of mobilizing for an accurate election outcome, before it is too late, would be a struggle to preserve the order of our civic structure against the myriad foes who talk blithely about tearing down systems, disorder and disruption."

From "What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?/Playing out the nightmare scenario" by David Brooks (NYT).

There are way too many people who should know better who are stirring up the forces of chaos. The idea that these people are going to help if there's new chaos as the vote is tabulated and fought over seems overly optimistic. We are already having a national nervous breakdown and if there are "sober people" who "see reality unblinkered by the lens of partisanship," where the hell are they? Partisanship clouded the perception of reality quite a while ago, and it's going to continue and get worse in the next 2 months. Who has the credibility to "preserve the order of our civic structure" so we can get through some creditable tabulation of the vote? Nobody. Nobody even wants it. The fact that the discussion is focused on the idea of big bad Trump refusing to leave makes it all too obvious.

"If he said it, I'm thinking it was in the spirit of genuinely hating the losses in war, and he is keeping us out of military adventures."

"It makes me think of the famous quote from General Patton: 'The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.' It makes me think of this song lyric that I heard over and over when I was young: 'Come on fathers, and don't hesitate/To send your sons off before it's too late/You can be the first ones in your block/To have your boy come home in a box.'"

Things written by me, just now, in comments to a post on Facebook, put up by my son John, linking to and quoting "Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’/The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic."

Racial harmony, circa 1986: Everybody, especially Lou Reed, sings "Soul Man."

I ran across that this morning because the Jessica Krug story (see previous post) got me thinking about the old movie "Soul Man," which I've never seen, but remember very well, because it was about affirmative action in law school, in which a white guy misidentifies himself as black so he can qualify for a black-only scholarship at Harvard Law School. The movie is named after the old Sam and Dave song, and Sam participated in that remake with Lou Reed — known for, among other things, the song "I Wanna Be Black"* — of the already-old song.

The use of blackface in the movie was criticized at the time, most notably by Spike Lee. The actress Rae Dawn Chong, who played the main character's love interest, said: "It was only controversial because Spike Lee made a thing of it. He'd never seen the movie and he just jumped all over it... If you watch the movie, it's really making white people look stupid… I always tried to be an actor who was doing a part that was a character versus what I call 'blackting,' or playing my race, because I knew that I would fail because I was mixed. I was the black actor for sure, but I didn't lead with my epidermis, and that offended people like Spike Lee, I think."

Anyway, it has always been a terrible idea for a white person to adopt a black identity to get ahead within higher education. That was a subject of a Hollywood movie in 1986. It's amazing that real people so recently have attempted this sort of fraud. Jessica Krug has outed herself (perhaps because she would have been outed by others), but it makes you wonder how many other people are out there who've furthered their careers by pretending to be black.

I'm writing this post mostly because I was struck by the racial healing acted out in that music video — as if getting white people to sing "I'm a soul man" could bring us all together. To quote another Lou Reed song: You know, those were different times.
* Listen to the song "I Wanna Be Black" here. Read the lyrics, here. They're quite shockingly racist, but the key line, for comprehension purposes is, "Oh, I don't wanna be a fucked up/Middle class college student no more." The annotation at the lyrics link says:
"This song [is] described by Ann Powers as 'a proto-rap unspooling of racist stereotypes that makes fun of white hipsters by forcing a deep wallow in ignorance.' Though racist, this song attempts to be a satire of bored young white men in America and their attitudes and beliefs around black men. Whether it passes Poe’s Law or not, is up for debate."
What's Poe's Law? Wikipedia says:
"Poe's law is an adage of Internet culture stating that, without a clear indicator of the author's intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the views being parodied." 
I guess you "pass" Poe's Law when you're clear enough that you are not the thing you are parodying. So, Lou Reed was singing all these racist things but then he let us know that he's really making fun of the "fucked-up, middle class [white] college student" who fantasizes about acquiring a black identity.

"I Wanna Be Black" is from the album "Street Hassle," released in 1978.

"I hope to live long enough to see future historians pose the very serious question: What *was* wokeness?"

In case you haven't seen the underlying story: "Professor Jessica Krug admits she lied about being black: ‘I cancel myself’" (NY Post):
“For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies,” Krug, 38, writes in a brief but life-shattering Medium post titled “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies.”... “There is no parallel form of my adulthood connected to white people or a white community or an alternative white identity. I have lived this lie, fully, completely, with no exit plan or strategy,” Krug writes. “I have no identity outside of this. I have never developed one.... I am a coward... You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.... I don’t know what to build from here. I don’t know that it is possible to repair a single relationship I have with another person, living or dead, and I don’t believe I deserve the grace or kindness to do so."
More here: "Professor who lied about being black ripped ‘white New Yorkers’ in profanity-laced tirade" (NY Post). With video, showing her using an accent/speech style that must have seemed empowering to her when she was pulling off her assumed identity but is now so embarrassing:

"Honestly, I hate to say it but I see a civil war right around the corner. That shot felt like the beginning of a war."

Said Michael Forest Reinoehl yesterday, quoted in "Suspect in fatal Portland protest shooting killed by feds during arrest attempt" (NY Post).
Reinoehl in the interview insisted he acted in self-defense and “had no choice” when he shot Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, after an evening of clashing protests in Portland on Aug. 29....

The ex-military man said he headed out into Portland that night to provide security for Black Lives Matter protesters, who had rallied against a pro-Trump caravan that was making its way through the city.

He did not state why he felt his life was in danger and strayed away from discussing specifics of the shooting. “Well honestly, those are…details that I probably don’t want to get into other than just simply saying I realized what happened,” Reinoehl said when asked about the immediate aftermath of the shooting. “I was confident that I did not hit anyone innocent and I made my exit.”...

Reinoehl..., had often posted about Black Lives Matter and related protests on his social media accounts, where he described himself as “100 % ANTIFA.”... “If you just look at the basic definition of it, it’s just antifascist – and I’m 100 percent antifascist,” he said. “I’m not a member of Antifa. I’m not a member of anything.... I used to really love this country and I respected the flag and everything that it represented,” he added. “But because of all this, every time I see a big truck, especially with the flag on it, I immediately think they’re out to get me.”
We don't yet have details on how Reinoehl died in his encounter with federal agents. The interview is evidence of his paranoia. He imagined a "civil war." There's no civil war, but there does seem to be some kind of national nervous breakdown.

September 3, 2020

Sunrise, western view, this morning.




Open thread in the comments.

"I don’t wear a mask when I’m washing my hair. Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair?"

"I always have a mask. I always have a mask, for me, for the people I’m encountering, but for my family as well. But I don’t wear it when I’m getting my hair washed. And that picture is when I just came out of the bowl of getting my hair wet."

From Nancy Pelosi Hair Salon Statement Transcript September 2.

To answer her question — "Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair?" — I don't wear a mask when I'm alone in my bathroom washing my hair, but when I went to the salon to have my hair done, I wore a mask the entire time I was inside, including when my hair was washed. And I did not have a choice in the matter.

Also at the link, she blamed the salon for telling her to come in: "It was clearly a setup."

Trump restates his advice on how to vote... and he's not really saying to vote twice.

I called it "confusing and inflammatory" yesterday, based on something he said, so let's look at how he put it in tweet form this morning:
Based on the massive number of Unsolicited & Solicited Ballots that will be sent to potential Voters for the upcoming 2020 Election, & in order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED, SIGN & MAIL IN your Ballot as EARLY as possible. On Election Day, or Early Voting,..

.....go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do). If your Mail In Ballot arrives....

....after you Vote, which it should not, that Ballot will not be used or counted in that your vote has already been cast & tabulated. YOU ARE NOW ASSURED THAT YOUR PRECIOUS VOTE HAS BEEN COUNTED, it hasn’t been “lost, thrown out, or in any way destroyed”. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!
There's an assumption that the state has adequate safeguards, and it will prevent anyone who has mailed in a vote from voting in person and will refuse to count a mailed-in vote if it is received after an in-person vote has been cast. If that is so or if the voter believes it is so, then the person who votes twice isn't intending to vote twice, only intending to make sure one or the other vote is counted.

"This crash happened about 7 bn years ago, when the universe was half its current age, but is only being detected now because it happened so far away."

From "'It just sounds like a thud': astronomers hear biggest cosmic event since big bang/Researchers believe noise was two black holes colliding around 7 billion years ago, creating a previously unseen class of stellar object" (BBC).
Lost in the collision was an enormous amount of energy in the form of a gravitational wave, a ripple in space that travels at the speed of light.... Because the detectors allow scientists to pick up the gravitational waves as audio signals, scientists actually heard the collision. For all the violence and drama, the signal lasted only a tenth of a second. “It just sounds like a thud,” Weinstein said. “It really doesn’t sound like much on a speaker.”
So... it was heard as a tenth-of-a-second thud after traveling at the speed of lightlight, not sound —  for 7 billion years. I don't think they really heard the crash, but they picked it up, one way or another, after 7 billion years. It's mind-blowing to think of how far away that was.

"As a teenager, rambling the city with girlfriends, we preferred to shop in thrift stores downtown. But the couches and cavernous 'ladies’ lounges' of midtown department stores..."

"... were on a sacred list of places where we could sit and talk without being scolded, a list that also included dingier spots: the sticky vinyl booths of diners, coffee shops with armchairs, and the carpeted aisles of chain bookstores. Today all those places where we lingered might as well be from another world, they seem so inefficient and wonderful.... Department stores were the slick behemoths of their time, replacing tailors and specialty shops. Now we look back at them as homey and personal — and remember the way they enabled a lost American ideal of middle-class consumerism. A similar fate befell the country’s bookstores: Outcry met the giant Barnes & Noble stores in the 1990s, when they were seen as threatening smaller local rivals. But then those same megastores were displaced and undercut by Amazon, and their disappearance hurt for the same reason Lord & Taylor’s does: no more open bathrooms and cafes. No more freedom to browse for hours. No more indifference that felt like welcome. The pandemic has only underscored this loss. There is no such thing, in 2020, as a place to spend the kind of intimate hours department stores facilitated. We can’t gather spontaneously, certainly not inside, and certainly not for an entire day. Today, I purchase my family’s clothing with a click on my phone in a minute-long break between work, child care and worrying about the news.... The internet enables people from all backgrounds, especially Black shoppers, gender nonconforming and trans shoppers and those with different body types, to find clothes that make them feel great without worrying about the judgment or the profiling they might encounter at retail stores. This is no small benefit: It’s a huge step forward. So yes, the era of department stores has passed...."

Writes Sarah M. Seltzer in "Goodbye to Lord & Taylor, and the Way We Used to Shop/I haven’t shopped there in years. But I’m sad to lose another place to gather, and linger, with friends" (NYT).

"While President Trump has insisted that schools physically reopen, the private school his son Barron is attending is sticking with remote learning. Yes, that feels like a double standard...."

No, it doesn't. It's the same position an ordinary parent is in. You might want the schools to reopen, but you're stuck with they're deciding to do (or what local government is requiring them to do).

The quoted line is the beginning of "'Remote Learning' Is Often an Oxymoron/We need to try harder to get kids back in school" by Nicholas Kristof (NYT).

Now, I do see why Barron is dragged into this. He's a privileged kid and — like other privileged kids, including the offspring of Democratic politicians — he has a nice computer and internet access and a supportive environment and good food. It's the less affluent children who suffer the most with the schools closed.

So... Kristof agrees with Trump! But he still must complain about Trump: "I fear that Trump’s hyperbolic embrace of reopening schools has led Democrats to be instinctively wary." Note the implication that Democrats aren't really very good at looking at the science and deferring to the experts. They're "instinctively wary" — that is, they have an emotional reaction to Trump that keeps them from thinking straight.

"My crime was to arrange a symposium around an extract [of 'The Bell Curve'], with 13 often stinging critiques published alongside it."

"The fact I had not recanted that decision did not, mind you, prevent TIME, the Atlantic, Newsweek, the NYT and New York magazine from publishing me in the following years. But suddenly, a decision I made a quarter of a century ago required my being canceled. The NYT reporter generously gave me a chance to apologize and recant, and when I replied that I thought the role of genetics in intelligence among different human populations was still an open question, he had his headline: 'I won’t stop reading Andrew Sullivan, but I can’t defend him.' In other words, the media reporter in America’s paper of record said he could not defend a writer because I refused to say something I don’t believe. He said this while arguing that I was 'one of the most influential journalists of the last three decades.' To be fair to him, he would have had no future at the NYT if he had not called me an indefensible racist. His silence on that would have been as unacceptable to his woke bosses as my refusal to recant. But this is where we now are. A reporter is in fear of being canceled if he doesn’t cancel someone else. This is America returning to its roots. As in Salem."

Writes Andrew Sullivan "My run-in with the New York Times/'This is where we now are. A reporter is in fear of being canceled if he doesn’t cancel someone else'" (Spectator).

"Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones."

Wrote President Trump in a memo quoted in "Trump Moves to Cut Federal Funding From Democratic Cities/The president directed officials to identify 'anarchist jurisdictions' and move to withhold funds as he tries to build his campaign around the unrest that has accompanied racial justice protests" (NYT).
[The mem0] gives Mr. Barr 14 days to identify “anarchist jurisdictions” where officials have “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures,” although it does not specify particular cities.

[Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget,] has 30 days to direct “heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of federal grants,” according to the memo.

Among the factors that Mr. Barr is to consider in determining such jurisdictions are “whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction,” whether a jurisdiction has pulled back law enforcement after being prevented access to a certain area and “whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments.”...
Many onlookers are expressing shock, but conditional federal funding is a mainstay of federal legislation. When the conditions are not met, you don't get the money. I don't think it's good federalism, but there's so much of it and it's been going on for a long, long time!

I was just watching this new Biden ad — discussed in the previous post — and it flaunts the very same idea — withholding federal funds from cities that don't meet conditions that have been imposed. Here, I'll go right to the relevant spot:

I'll transcribe it for you: "Reforming policing in this country means creating a national standard on use of force and conditioning federal funds for police departments on adoption of that standard."

That is, Biden is relying on the same idea that Trump is using. Money isn't simply given to the cities for their police departments. Standards are imposed and they are enforced by a threat to withhold the money.

MSNBC commentator oozes enthusiasm: "That ad just oozed the message of his campaign... empathy..."

I don't have to specify that they were looking at a Biden ad. The bias in news media is so obvious that you probably think it's dumb to mention it. I know I'm just asking for reiterations of comments I've seen a thousand times: "You're just noticing?!" No, I'm not just noticing. I noticed it since at least January 1969 when my high school history teacher analyzed the NYT coverage of the Nixon inauguration.

Here's the ad. It's a standard political ad, old-fashioned and conventional.

The success of this ad depends a lot on whether hearing the voices of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris makes you feel warm and hopeful. I think you need be be in the mood to feel calmed. I know I like seeing images of a fatherly young black man reading a child a book that says "love" on the cover, and maybe the ad is really directed at centrist white women like me. But I felt a critical distance, perhaps because I was so put off by the MSNBC person going all ooey-gooey about the oozing empathy.

To be fair to MSNBC, they had just shown the ad, so presumably the normal TV audience was given a chance to feel the feelings that the ad was constructed to inspire. I was not the normal audience, but a car driver listening to TV on the satellite radio, and I jumped in late, after the ad. But much as I love love and want to see more love in politics, I want a President who'll be tough and fair and willing to enforce law and not stand back ineffectually while cities burn.

To some extent, I like the ad because it's so bland and ordinary. Trying to remember it, it seems like something that could have run on broadcast TV in the 1970s. It could reach me in my "I'm for Boring" place. I did vote against Trump in 2016 because I thought he was too weird to be President. He's still very weird, but I have gotten used to him. He's the prevailing norm in a hellish year. I think Americans can be lured into dully hoping that to vote for Biden is to turn the page.

By the way, the MSNBC folk assumed the ad was directed at black voters.

September 2, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"Who did this?"

Very confusing and inflammatory advice from Trump on how to vote.

The letter is obviously from someone pretending to be a racist as a way to call the sign-displayer racist.

Click to read the letter, which includes the line: "We Whites must stand together, we must keep Wauwatosa free from Blacks and their lack of morels."

Biden finally did a press conference!

It was pretty dull and low energy, but the expectations had gotten so low that it's some kind of success. He talked about school for a long time before taking the questions, and the questions were softballs, but he kept up a flow of reasonable words. He should do more of these events. Make them normal. It will be boring, but he's got to show himself in action, even if the action is tedious.

From the transcript, beginning with the Q&A, I'll excerpt a few things that I found comparatively interesting:

"In collaboration with the Black Student Union at the school, University of Wisconsin-Madison leaders are discussing plans to remove a 70-ton boulder from campus grounds due to it once being called a racist name nearly a century ago."

"The boulder had traveled to the region over 10,000 years ago, deposited by ancient pre-Cambrian bedrock drift from Canada, according to its plaque. In 1925, workers pulled the rock out of the side of a hill on campus and named it 'Chamberlin Rock' after Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, a 19th century glaciologist and University of Wisconsin president. The rock was adorned with a plaque commemorating Chamberlin and placed at the university’s Washburn Observatory, where it remains today. While Chamberlin Rock has been a campus fixture for 95 years, it recently came under fire due to once being described as a 'n****rhead' in 1925 as was common geological practice at the time to describe large dark rocks.... The Black Student Union at UW is now calling on the university to find an alternate way to represent Chamberlin on campus without the legacy implied by the rock. 'You clearly see what the rock was called and you can’t deny the history. Additionally you can’t deny the way it makes some people feel,' Black Student Union president Nalah McWhorter told 'If you’re not going to move the things that are disrespectful to us because other students love it, put something up that us Black and brown students can celebrate.'"

The College Fix reports.

What is the cost of moving a 70-ton boulder? What is the value of the beauty of the rock itself, which has nothing to do with racism? The only reason for attacking the rock is that there is no way to do anything to the use of a word 95 years ago. That's an incident in the past. Gone. But the rock is there. You're getting mad at a rock? No, you're asking for something to be done that can be done. A 70-ton rock can be moved, and so the demand is to move the rock. It's theater, and the university should have the sense to say no.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
We live a stone’s throw from the Chancellor’s mansion. Last Friday morning around 7AM, I heard chanting outside. Turns out it was coming from a group of 20-30 protesters at her front door chanting, “Wake up, Becky and move the rock! Wake up, Becky and move the rock!”

It is despicable of the protesters to harass Chancellor Rebecca Blank anywhere but especially at her personal residence.

"To my partial surprise, 'In Defense of Looting' is only tangentially about looting. Mostly it’s a defense of violence..."

"... arguing that nonviolence, in the form associated with (for example) Martin Luther King, is a tool of white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy. The book’s argument: the US was conceived in racist, patriarchal sin. The concept of 'property' is illegitimate and produces and perpetuates those evils. Loot and take up arms to fix the problem. That’s what works—not nonviolence—and by the way it is beautiful."

Tweets Graeme Wood, linking to his Atlantic article, "The Pinnacle of Looting Apologia/If the real, lasting change you wish to effect is burning society to cinders, then perhaps looting is the right tool."

From the article:
The destruction of businesses is an “experience of pleasure, joy, and freedom,” Osterweil writes. It is also a form of “queer birth.” “Riots are violent, extreme, and femme as fuck,” according to [the author Vicky] Osterweil. “They rip, tear, burn, and destroy to give birth to a new world.” She reserves her most pungent criticism for advocates of nonviolence, a “bankrupt concept” primarily valuable for enlisting “northern liberals.” Liberal is pejorative in this book....

Her conviction that her opponents deserve violence would be easier to abide if it were not obvious that nearly everyone counts as an opponent. Up against the wall are members of the media; “liberal commentators, de-escalators, nonprofiteers, right-wing trolls, vigilantes, and, of course, the police”; clergy who physically intercede between cops and protesters; and Nation of Islam members whose crime was to “broker a peace between gang leaders” and “chase looters” from neighborhood stores....
I don't agree that it's "easier to abide" violence aimed at a more specific group, but Wood is trying to reach Atlantic readers, and I think he's trying to shake them up with the warning that being a nice liberal is not going to save you from the form of violence that is bubbling up in America today.

Rasmussen's insane "production error." Just... "incorrect."

Wow. Let me screen-shot it for preservation:

"COVID-19 transmission would go down if we spoke less, or less loudly, in public spaces. Why aren’t more people saying so?"

Writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Apparently, it's easier to pressure Americans to wear a mask than it is to tell us to stop talking.
“Every route of viral transmission would go down if we talked less, or talked less loudly, in public spaces,” Jose L. Jimenez, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who studies disease transmission, told me. “This is just a very clear fact. It’s not controversial.”...

When you breathe or whisper, your respiratory system doesn’t emit large droplets. Jimenez told me that, compared with yelling, quiet talking reduces aerosols by a factor of five; being completely silent reduces them by a factor of about 50. That means talking quietly, rather than yelling, reduces the risk of viral transmission by a degree comparable to properly wearing a mask.

“The truth is that if everybody stopped talking for a month or two, the pandemic would probably die off,” Jimenez said.... “In terms of the science, I am convinced that something like [a] library rule [in all public, enclosed spaces] would reduce all modes of viral transmission,” Jimenez told me.... 
Thompson observes that "some Americans—mostly conservative men" rebel against masks, and these people might get outraged by a "library rule" — and this might lead them to talk even more and more loudly — perhaps "filming videos of themselves purposefully yelling into a barista’s face." I don't know who makes these coffeehouse confrontation videos. Is it the rebel or a bystander who thinks the rebel is an asshole? Who knows? Obviously, the trouble with telling people to pipe down is that we think it's a free country and we've got to speak our mind and you're just giving us one more thing we want to talk about or yell and scream about. But you don't need rules that say "no talking" — like a stereotypical school marm. That's the sort of thing that incites rebellion and suspicion that the government is trying to repress us. Just use education and social pressure.

But it can be hard to exercise social pressure on others to lower their voice. I'm thinking there could be a hand gesture — 2 outstretched hands, palms down, moved gently up and down — to signal to others that we can talk much more quietly. But some people will find that aggravating. You couldn't use it in a protest. And then another problem is that many people are hard of hearing. They'll have to use the hand-cupped-around-the-ear gesture to send the message that their disability overrides the general covid-mitigation quieting.

"On a plot designated by officials for the open-air school, builders installed a pavilion, gardens, activity areas and open sheds, some fitted with tables and benches for lessons."

"The school grounds also included a larger shed for meals, an enclosed shelter for rainy days and rest periods, a teacher’s room, a kitchen, toilets and a 'cure gallery,' a special structure designed to maximize sun exposure. In a departure from prevailing norms and in keeping with the goals of progressive educators, boys and girls were never separated. Whereas the average school in Prussia—Germany’s largest and most populous state—counted two square meters per pupil, students at Charlottenburg’s forest school enjoyed 40.... The forest school ensured a steady supply of fresh air to the children of workers. Half the school’s teachers were former patients at sanatoria, where they had already recovered from tuberculosis....  By 1908... the first outdoor school opened in the United States, in Providence, Rhode Island, in the dead of winter no less....

"There’s one thing about the people on the Trump team that I almost admire: When they do blurt out the truth, they really tell you the truth..."

"... in a way that’s so raw you’re left asking, 'Did they really say that out loud?' That was certainly my thought when Kellyanne Conway declared last week, 'The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.' The better it is? How could anyone be 'better' in America if we have more chaos, anarchy, vandalism and violence? It couldn’t be better — except for one man: Donald Trump."

Wait a minute! Isn't it also better for the people who are doing the chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence? Why are they doing it otherwise — doing it for months on end? It must be their idea of better, and they are in control of it, their own actions. But you don't talk to them. I wonder why not. It's so much easier to sit back and listen to things said by Trumpers, things that, of course, always inspire outrage... except to the extent that you can toy with edginess by saying almost admire the balls.

The quote above is from NYT columnist Thomas A. Friedman, in "For Biden to Win, Listen to Minneapolis/Not everyone is for defunding the police. Especially those in communities that would be most affected."

Friedman proceeds to do the same thing Kellyanne did: Look at the chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence and jump right to what apparently matters most — how it affects the presidential candidate you care about.
So, Joe Biden has a real challenge on his hands. To mobilize the majority he needs to credibly assure enough voters that he takes both the violence seriously and its social, policing and economic roots seriously. His “looting is not protesting” speech in Pittsburgh on Monday was a good start....
Key word: "start." Biden did the easy and obvious part, but he didn't do anything bold or courageous or difficult. He didn't demonstrate leadership. Indeed, he only read a text off a teleprompter. He won't submit to questioning. He has not had to show us one thought dredged up directly from his own head.  Friedman goes on to offer some nuanced notions about practical police reform that Biden could use to progress from "good start" to something of real substance.
[Martin Luther King Jr.] decried riots as “self-defeating,” but he also pointed out that “a riot is the language of the unheard..." Economic progress and social justice, King argued, “are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.” Which is why Biden, if he frames it right, can be the real “law and order” candidate in this election. Because he’s not for disbanding the police, but for improving them — which is how you build respect for the law from everyone — and because Biden knows that sustainable order can only come from a president who wants to build healthy and just communities, not from a president who thinks it’s “better” for him politically if they’re torn apart.
Trump wants "healthy and just communities" too, and Biden wants to do what's better for him politically too. I'm so tired of that template — hating Trump and puffing up Biden. Let's see Biden step up and show some real leadership and intellectual heft. Let's see him submit serious questioning and cruelly neutral criticism. So far, he won't do it, and the media are facilitating his evasion of any real test. I'm beyond fed up with this treatment of Biden and Trump.

"During a more than nine-hour meeting that stretched from Tuesday into the early-morning hours Wednesday, the Madison City Council approved years-in-the-making police oversight measures..."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
On a near-unanimous vote, the council passed an ordinance that creates a Civilian Oversight Board and Independent Police Monitor position, envisioned to work in tandem to oversee the police department. Only Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, 1st District, did not vote in support; she abstained. Also approved were a final report that selects nine local organizations to nominate members for the civilian board and a budget resolution that outlines costs for the board and monitor, estimated at a total of $482,000 for 2021....
$482,000. Why that's almost exactly the amount we spent a few years ago on an outside study to determine whether there's racism in the Madison Police Department.

Back to the WSJ:
Some said a few of organizations selected to make nominations, including local activist group Freedom, Inc. were too critical of police. But [UW-Madison law professor Keith] Findley said those groups are exactly who is needed to represent marginalized groups and those who have experienced over-policing. “Being critical or even very critical of police shouldn’t be a disqualifier,” Findley said.

The proposed ordinance creating the board requires that it have members from minority communities and members with experience in mental health, youth advocacy and substance abuse. At least one member is required to have an arrest or conviction record.

Half of the board’s members are required to be Black.
Explicit race discrimination is required in the composition of this board. The black population of Madison (according to the 2010 census) is 7.3%, yet 50% of the board must be black. I didn't watch the 9-hour meeting. Did anyone agonize or tremble even slightly over the constitutionality of the explicit race discrimination or would any acknowledgment of this problem be a politically unacceptable display of white privilege?

"They'd rather talk about thimbles."

On "Morning Joe" this morning, Elise Jordan, a former aide to George W. Bush, criticized Trump supporters for talking about symbols (slurred as "thimbles") instead of substance. The symbols in question were statues, which was the topic of discussion as a result of this news report yesterday (I'm quoting the DCist):
A new D.C. committee recommended renaming, removing, or contextualizing more than 50 different government-owned spaces in the city, after studying the history of racism and oppression behind the namesakes. The working group, known as DCFACES (District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions), was commissioned by Mayor Muriel Bowser and began meeting in July. It identified figures like Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, Ben Franklin, and George Washington as problematic candidates for public-works dedications.
Of course, people fixate on symbols! That's why the symbols are attacked. You can't expect the pro-Trump side to refrain from engaging on what is a super-easy subject for them. Why should they?! Plus those of us who care about the traditional symbols are moved on a very deep level. I know how I've felt ever since Wisconsin protesters tore down the Forward! statue and the Hans Christian Heg statue in my town.

Speaking of superficial trivialities... I'm fascinated by Jordan's vocal slip: "thimbles" for "symbols." It underscores her point — symbols are small (compared to the big policy questions that government must decide). Now, I think some symbols are very big! This D.C. committee is recommending that the federal government "remove, relocate, or contextualize" the Washington Monument!

Jordan bemoans human nature. "We live by symbols" (to quote Felix Frankfurter).

But if symbols were thimbles... A thimble is a symbol — a symbol of smallness.

Just a thimbleful for me!

September 1, 2020

At the 6:06/6:21 Cafe...



... you can write about whatever you want.

In Kenosha, Trump says he doesn't believe that police violence is "systemic."

"No, I don’t believe that. I think the police do an incredible job. And I think you do have some bad apples... And you do have the other situation too, where they’re under this tremendous pressure and they don’t handle it well, they call it choking, and it happens.... It’s a tough job, it’s a dangerous job. But I have to say this to the police, the people of our country love you. You don’t hear that, you don’t hear it from them, but the people of our country love you and they respect you, and they… And you know it, you feel it in your heart or you wouldn’t be doing it, but there’s a great love."

Here's the transcript.

The follow-up question is: "Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in this country?" He deflects the question: "Well, you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence that we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places, it’s tremendous violence...."

A bit later, the question recurs in the form of "Do you believe that there is a need for structural change?" He says the change the people of Kenosha want is a return to law and order. And: "They want the police to be police, they want the police to do what they do better than anybody else in the world... they want great police force, they want people that are going to keep them safe...."

"The firearm never crossed state lines. That is a legal firearm in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is an open carry state. That charge is incorrect as a matter of state law."

"He was in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death. This is 100% self-defense.... They began screaming that Kyle needed to be killed and they were going to kill him. They started relentlessly hunting him as prey as he ran down the street attempting to retreat. As he ran out of room to retreat, shots were fired from behind him. He fired and disarmed the individual, hitting him in the arm. He shot and killed the other person who was attacking him. And I got to tell you... in this war zone, in this chaos that is occurring in this city in America in the middle of Wisconsin... the only individuals that Kyle shot were the three individuals that were attacking him and putting him at risk of serious bodily harm or death. This is a 17-year-old kid... This is amazing... That man survived. That man has not been charged. He came at a 17-year-old with a gun. Why has he not been charged?... [W]here are the charges for aggravated assault against Kyle Rittenhouse... and where are the charges against the people who are funding this activity and who are financing it?"

Said John Pierce, the lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse (Real Clear Politics).

"Joe Rogan debuts on Spotify with his most controversial episodes missing."

EW reports.
Dozens of past episodes with controversial guests are notably absent from the new Joe Rogan Experience channel, such as interviews with conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and David Seaman, far-right figures such as Owen Benjamin, Stefan Molyneux, Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, Charles C. Johnson and Sargon of Akkad, as well as comedian Chris D'Elia (who has recently been accused of sexual impropriety). Also seemingly absent is an early episode where Rogan regular Joey Diaz infamously joked about coercing female comics into performing oral sex – an exchange that resurfaced in the press in the wake of the Spotify deal. A few of the vanished episodes were more perplexing, however, such as an interview with pot activist Tommy Chong.

When the Spotify deal was announced in May, Rogan told his listeners that "beginning Sept. 1, the entire JRE library will be available on Spotify."... Spotify reportedly paid more than $100 million to lure the country's most popular podcaster exclusively to the streaming service.... The comedian and MMA commentator has long prided himself on talking to people from across the political spectrum and has frequently railed against "de-platforming" – tech companies that remove controversial voices.

“They want me to just continue doing it the way I’m doing it right now,” Rogan has previously said of the Spotify deal. “It’s just a licensing deal, so Spotify won’t have any creative control over the show. It will be the exact same show. We’re going to be working with the same crew doing the exact same show."

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have "A Socially Distanced Conversation" with each other today.

I'm just noticing the transcript and will read it and react. I have no idea what the event was, hadn't heard about it, and don't know why we need to hear them talk to each other as opposed to taking questions — separately — from serious interviewers. Ah, here's the video...

I watched that up for a minute and 20 seconds, clicked it off, and said, "Oh! He's interviewing her!" I'm switching to the transcript, because I don't have patience for the video version.
Joe Biden: (03:04) I’ve heard you talk about the way you were raised and your sister and how you guys were together.
Kamala Harris: (03:15) My mother would come home, and she’d make dinner, and she’d spend some time with us, and then we’d go to bed, and she’d sit at that kitchen table figuring out how to make it all work....
Kitchen table figuring out how to make it all work.... Her mother was a medical researcher at prestigious institutions, and her father was an economics professor at Stanford. They didn't have any financial struggles, did they? But Harris proceeds to talk about "that thing that wakes us up in the middle of the night and wakes up so many people in the middle of the night... the things that cause people to lose sleep, because they’re worried about how they’re going to get through the end of the month, and feed their kids, and pay their rent." The implication is that she understands financial struggle because of her own family situation. That just puzzles me. She says "I was in high school when my mother was able to afford to buy our first home" and "We rented up until that point." They lived in Oakland. You can rent a nice apartment there. Is Harris saying their rented place was bad? She shouldn't be posing as lower class. But it's such a minor qualification for presiding over the economy anyway — that your family had economic hardship.
Joe Biden: (12:06) With all that’s going on, you have a pandemic, you have economic circumstances bad as it was during the depression, you got a situation where a systemic racism has been stripped bare and everyone has seen it....
He's saying what he has to say, but I bet he couldn't explain what he means and what the evidence is. It's just an article of faith.

At Wheeler's place.

And there's this from The Oregonian: "Man under investigation in fatal shooting of right-wing demonstrator in Portland was outside mayor’s condo night before with daughter": "Michael Forest Reinoehl, the 48-year-old man under investigation in the fatal shooting Saturday night of a right-wing demonstrator in downtown Portland, attended a Black Lives Matter protest the night before outside the mayor’s home. Reinoehl brought his daughter, who was carrying a baseball bat.... The Friday night protest had the feeling of an evening block party with a DJ and other musicians playing in the street as people danced, while about a dozen demonstrators sat inside the lobby of Wheeler’s residence in the Pearl District, locking arms with a list of demands for the city to address systemic police violence and racism..... Reinoehl calls himself an anti-fascist and wrote in mid-June on his Instagram page, 'I am 100 % ANTIFA all the way! I am willing to fight for my brothers and sisters!'"

Trending on Twitter: #TrumpStroke.

ADDED: I'll just throw this in here:

Democrats fear that on election night, it will look as though Trump has won in a landslide.

Axios reports.
Way more Democrats will vote by mail than Republicans, due to fears of the coronavirus, and it will take days if not weeks to tally these. This means Trump, thanks to Republicans doing almost all of their voting in person, could hold big electoral college and popular vote leads on election night.

Imagine America, with its polarization and misinformation, if the vote tally swings wildly toward Joe Biden and Trump loses days later as the mail ballots are counted. That is what this group, Hawkfish, which is funded by Michael Bloomberg and also does work for the Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden Super PACs, is warning is a very real, if not foreordained, outcome.

"We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump," [Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn said]. "When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after Election Day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage."...
We like to sit down in front of the TV on election night and see the result come into focus within a few hours. Now, we can expect to be told to forget about that exciting, dramatic event. Look away! Don't see that! Or we'll sit there and watch, see this massive landslide for Trump and be warned every minute that this is not real, that there are other votes out there, and, indeed, that way more of those other votes are for Biden.

I'm afraid whoever loses this time will find it impossible to accept the results. Americans are already in an emotionally chaotic state, and the media and the politicians are doing their best to keep us anxious and belligerent. The only hope is that in the end the winners' landslide will be so big that the losers accept their loss. It's hard to imagine how big that landslide will need to be to produce that acceptance. We saw how Democrats reacted to Trump's very clear victory in 2016, and America's grasp on reality has declined since then, I believe.

ADDED: "Under one of the group's modeling scenarios, Trump could hold a projected lead of 408-130 electoral votes on election night, if only 15% of the vote by mail (VBM) ballots had been counted. Once 75% of mail ballots were counted, perhaps four days later, the lead could flip to Biden's favor. This particular modeling scenario portrays Biden as ultimately winning a massive victory, 334-204." That's not as worrisome as a landslide for Trump declining into a narrow victory for Biden.

"Why haven’t we seen the leaders of antifa and BLM arrested and charged with conspiracy under, say, RICO like the heads of Mafia families were?"

Tucker Carlson asked DHS chief Chad Wolf, quoted at The Daily Beast.

Wolf answered: “Well, this is something that I have talked to [Attorney General William Barr] personally about. I know that they are working on it.

"The idea was for the new series to be soothing and nonviolent, an answer to the moral panic about violence in the media in the wake of Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination..."

"[They wrote] an adorable half-hour comedy-mystery with a lovable and hapless Great Dane — a character modeled, they often said, on the character Bob Hope played alongside Bing Crosby in the 'Road' movies. After 15 or so drafts, they realized that the dog, Scooby-Doo, was the star.... A half-century later, episodes of 'Scooby-Doo' are still being broadcast.... It has inspired fans in every decade, who cleaved to characters like the beatnik slacker Shaggy (based on Maynard G. Krebs from 'Dobie Gillis') and the bespectacled brainiac, Velma, who would become a lesbian heroine."

From "Joe Ruby, a Creator of ‘Scooby-Doo,’ Is Dead at 87/Charged with creating an animated mystery series, Mr. Ruby and his writing partner, Ken Spears, came up with a show that endures more than 50 years later" (NYT).

"The story is about the entire reaction of all the speakers and people in attendance, and that quote [in the headline] is one outlier falling within a flood of positive ones."

Said Daniel Thompson, an editor at The Kenosha News, quoted in "Journalist Quits Kenosha Paper in Protest of Its Jacob Blake Rally Coverage" (NYT). The headline he objected to was: "Kenosha speaker: 'If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.'"
Mr. Thompson, 30, said he attended the Saturday rally but did not cover it. Shortly after 7 p.m. that day, he sent a text that included a screenshot of the headline to Bob Heisse, the executive editor of The Kenosha News.

“I don’t even know if I can associate with the company after that,” Mr. Thompson said in the text exchange. “I need to calm down, but I wanted you to know immediately.”

"... it could increase love...."

From Trump's press conference yesterday (transcript):
Speaker 2: (20:25) Mr. President, are you giving any consideration, or did you give any consideration to the governor and mayor’s request not to come to Kenosha tomorrow?

President Trump: (20:35) No, because Kenosha was something we did a good job on. The governor didn’t want us there. He didn’t want the National Guard, as you know. He was very reluctant. But I give him credit because ultimately he said yes, and as soon as he said yes, the problem ended. But I have to see the people that did such a good job for me, and we’re meeting with numerous people. We have tremendous support in the state of Wisconsin, so I promised them when it all gets taken care of we’ll go.

Speaker 2: (21:01) The mayor expressed concerns, though, that it could exacerbate tensions and increase violence. Do you give any consideration for that?

President Trump: (21:09) Well, it could also increase enthusiasm, and it could increase love and respect for our country. And that’s why I’m going because they did a fantastic job. As soon as I called and told them, “Let’s go,” the whole problem stopped. That was, what, six days ago.

August 31, 2020

That sunrise at 6:20 and 6:24.



Write about whatever you like.

"Ask yourself: do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?"

Joe Biden went to Pittsburg today, where he read a speech indoors. Here's the video. I can't tell if he has an audience. There's no engagement with any questioners. I don't really know how this is different from speaking from his own home, but it was presented in the press as an important occasion. The NYT says: "Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday issued a forceful rebuttal to President Trump’s misleading charges that he would preside over a country wracked by disorder and lawlessness...." I watched the first minute of the video, but it was too tedious. I was distracted by the metal grid behind him.

I thought it looked like a screen and fantasized about a remake of "The Fly."

So I'm just going to read the transcript and react to it for you as I read:
In recent days, we’ve had a lot of talk about who’s going where and how I’ve decided to come to Pittsburgh to talk a little bit about what’s going on right now....
So vague. Such a weak beginning. You'd think he'd specify what the talk was. Trump's going to Lake Charles, Louisiana and Kenosha, Wisconsin? If he'd specified, we'd know Trump's decisions were based on the hurricane and the Jacob Blake incident. But there's no reason for choosing Pittsburgh. It's just: Here I am in Pittsburgh, talking a little bit. There's a lack of drive and purpose.

They prefer to live somewhere that has died.

Inappropriate appropriation.

"So what does [Andrew] Sullivan believe about race? ... Mr. Sullivan said he was frustrated by the most extreme claims that biology has no connection to our lives."

"He believes, for instance, that Freudian theories that early childhood may push people toward homosexuality could have some merit, combined with genetics. 'Everything is environmental for the left except gays, where it’s totally genetic; and everything is genetic for the right, except for gays,' he said sarcastically. I tried out my most charitable interpretation of his view on race and I.Q.... that he is most frustrated by the notion that you can’t talk about the influence of biology and genetics on humanity. But that he’s not actually saying he thinks Black people as a group are less intelligent. He’d be equally open to the view, I suggested, that data exploring genetics and its connection to intelligence would find that Black people are on average smarter than other groups. 'It could be, although the evidence is not trending in that direction as far as I pay attention to it. But I don’t much,' he said.... 'Let’s say Jews. I mean, just look at the Nobel Prize. I’m just saying — there’s something there, I think. And I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just not prepared to accept the whole thing is over.' I’ve been reading Mr. Sullivan too long to write him off.... I wish Mr. Sullivan would accept that the project of trying to link the biological fiction of race with the science of genetics ought, in fact, to be over."

From "I’m Still Reading Andrew Sullivan. But I Can’t Defend Him/He’s one of the most influential journalists of the last three decades, but he’s shadowed by a 1994 magazine cover story that claimed to show a link between race and I.Q." by Ben Smith (NYT).

I went over to Twitter to look up what Sullivan had to say, and at the top of my feed was this:

"Details with the exact time and location of where Mr. Biden will appear were not immediately disclosed in the campaign’s press release Sunday."

From "Biden to make surprise stop in southwestern Pa. on Monday" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

If you're around the area and would like to attend, where do you go? They're not saying. It's a surprise.

The Trump tweet snarking on this is quoted at the link: "Joe Biden is coming out of the basement earlier than his hoped for ten days because his people told him he has no choice, his poll numbers are PLUNGING! Going to Pittsburgh, where I have helped industry to a record last year, & then back to his basement for an extended period... His problem is interesting. He must always be weak on CRIME because of the Bernie Sanders Radical Left voter. If he loses them, like Crooked Hillary did, he is 'toast', and many will vote for me because of TRADE (Bernie was good on trade). Joe MUST always be weak on crime!"

"When police arrested the middle-aged Uighur woman at the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak... she was forced to drink a medicine that made her feel weak and nauseous..."

"... guards watching as she gulped. She and the others also had to strip naked once a week and cover their faces as guards hosed them and their cells down with disinfectant 'like firemen,' she said. 'It was scalding,' recounted the woman by phone from Xinjiang, declining to be named out of fear of retribution. '“My hands were ruined, my skin was peeling.'... [I]n what experts call a breach of medical ethics, some residents [of the Xinjiang region] are being coerced into swallowing traditional Chinese medicine.... There is a lack of rigorous clinical data showing traditional Chinese medicine works against the virus, and one of the herbal remedies used in Xinjiang, Qingfei Paidu, includes ingredients banned in Germany, Switzerland, the U.S. and other countries for high levels of toxins and carcinogens.... [T]he Xinjiang lockdown is especially striking because of its severity, and because there hasn’t been a single new case of local transmission in over a week.... Even as Wuhan and the rest of China has mostly returned to ordinary life, Xinjiang’s lockdown is backed by a vast surveillance apparatus that has turned the region into a digital police state... 'Xinjiang is a police state, so it’s basically martial law,' says Darren Byler, a researcher on the Uighurs at the University of Colorado. 'They think Uighurs can’t really police themselves, they have to be forced to comply in order for a quarantine to be effective.'... In March, the World Health Organization removed guidance on its site saying that herbal remedies were not effective against the virus and could be harmful, saying it was 'too broad.'"

From "In China’s Xinjiang, forced medication accompanies lockdown" (AP).

"It’s like a funhouse mirror. People look at the same facts and have wildly different reactions. It is troubling because..."

"...when people are having such different reactions, I guess tragedies like this shouldn’t be a surprise. People are afraid of each other and that is a situation that creates danger for everyone."

Said Wisconsin Law School professor Cecelia Klingele, quoted in "Dueling narratives fuel opposing views of Kenosha protest shooting/Amid intensifying political divisions, Americans are debating whether the shooter’s actions were homicide or heroic" (WaPo).
The conflicting interpretations of the case are fueled by murky details about who fired the first shot and other key factors in the encounter, as well as the state’s broad legal standard for self-defense. Wisconsin, unlike some other states home to high-profile self-defense cases, does not have a “stand-your-ground law,” which absolves armed people of an obligation to retreat when threatened. Instead, Klingele said, a Wisconsin court will determine whether Rittenhouse reasonably judged the danger he faced and used an appropriate level of force in responding — a standard that can be highly subjective.

Ominous insects.

August 30, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... go ahead and write about anything.

It seems as though Joe Biden is going to straightforwardly condemn the violence in Portland, but then he veers into pathetic blame-Trumpism.

Here's the entire text of his statement that went up on his campaign website. I'll boldface where he goes off message:
The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable. Shooting in the streets of a great American city is unacceptable. I condemn this violence unequivocally. I condemn violence of every kind by any one, whether on the left or the right. And I challenge Donald Trump to do the same. It does not matter if you find the political views of your opponents abhorrent, any loss of life is a tragedy. Today there is another family grieving in America, and Jill and I offer our deepest condolences.

We must not become a country at war with ourselves. A country that accepts the killing of fellow Americans who do not agree with you. A country that vows vengeance toward one another. But that is the America that President Trump wants us to be, the America he believes we are.
In addition to being off message, that's just a lie. It seems to me that it's the Democratic Party — much more than Trump — that wants "a country at war with ourselves... that accepts the killing of fellow Americans who do not agree with you... that vows vengeance toward one another." That sounds like the Black Live Matters protests.

The Portland mayor blames Trump for the violence and murder in his town.

ADDED: An occasion for Trump to say "Tone down the language":

ALSO: "I got white-people shit to do in there!"

PLUS: "Some kind of musical gathering":

"No cops/No jails/No linear fucking time."

I just encountered a perfect example of white privilege in real life, here in Madison, Wisconsin.

Today, I saw a UW University cop confronting a young white guy who had a bike on the trail in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve — where there are no bikes allowed. The guy had become really confrontational — in the style of a person who viewed the police as illegitimate — but then, and at one point, he said: "This is an $8,000 fucking mountain bike — do you think I have a warrant due?"

"Also, lol at the hair-splitting of: I don't want these writers to be canceled — I just want them to be stopped from getting published anywhere ever again! Reminds me of that old joke: 'We're not lost — we just don't know where we are!'"

Writes jaltcoh.

"People thought I was a strange girl, because I was different. Pretty much as soon as I was born, people would tell my mother to get rid of me because nobody would marry a girl like this."

"No-one knew what the matter with me was. Disabilities were not understood in my village at the time, and nobody knew what cerebral palsy was. People in the village would tell my family that I was a punishment from a previous life.... I was too young to remember but my auntie who lived with us told me that my body was like a rag doll. A few villagers argued that she should be thrown into the river and left to drown. But I was literally saved by my father. He physically had to intervene to stop my body from being taken from our home and discarded like an object... I remember when families would come over to our house to check if I would be suitable for their son... I'd dress up in traditional clothes and sit in our small living room. When the families who came over saw my condition, they would say to my family, 'You expect our son to marry this?' And then leave."

From "'They wanted to drown me at birth - now I'm a poet'" (BBC).

"After her speech, the first daughter strode past the first lady to greet her father. Melania, who had first smiled broadly at Ivanka, suddenly went stony."

"The exchange was particularly loaded given the context: Melania’s former BFF and aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, is beginning to dish on her new tell-all about the first lady, which includes accounts of conversations in which Melania mocks Ivanka. It has been reported that Melania calls Ivanka ''the princess' — Trump singled out his favorite child in his convention speech — and Ivanka has reportedly called Melania 'the portrait.' After many tugs of war, Melania has resigned herself to the fact that Jared and Ivanka run the White House. The basic view in the building is that Ivanka has wrestled Melania to a draw. Wolkoff writes that Melania was so annoyed by her stepdaughter’s attempts to, as she saw it, infringe on her role in planning the Inauguration that she launched 'Operation Block Ivanka.'"

From "The Princess vs. the Portrait in Trumpworld/The first family serves up a malarkey buffet" by Maureen Dowd (NYT).

Here's the excerpt about "Block Ivanka" from the Wolkoff book (published at New York Magazine)(warning: the author herself calls it "petty"):

"Most of the speakers talked about justice peacefully. But near the end of the rally, one man introduced as 'our president' strayed from the message by saying, 'If you kill one of us, it’s time for us to kill one of yours.'"

From "WATCH NOW: Kenosha speaker strays from message at rally" (Kenosha News).

"And I’m here to support the great people of Louisiana. It’s been a tremendous state for me... It’s very important that I was here..."

Said President Trump, speaking in in Lake Charles, Louisiana yesterday, 2 days after it was hit by Hurricane Laura. Transcript.

Classic Trump: It’s been a tremendous state for me... It’s very important that I was here...

Here's some detail about Trump's trip, surveying the damage and interacting with people on the ground.

Trump is quite different from George W. Bush, who, after Katrina hit Louisiana, chose to view the damage from the seat of his airplane. He got blasted for looking detached and uncaring. He wrote about it in his book "Decision Points":
I’ve often reflected on what I should have done differently that day. I believe the decision not to land in New Orleans was correct. Emergency responders would have been called away from the rescue efforts, and that would have been wrong. A better option would have been to stop at the airport in Baton Rouge, the state capital. Eighty miles north of the flood zone, I could have strategized with the governor and assured Katrina victims that their country stood with them. Landing in Baton Rouge would not have saved any lives. Its benefit would have been good public relations. But public relations matter when you are president, particularly when people are hurting. When Hurricane Betsy devastated New Orleans in 1965, Lyndon Johnson flew in from Washington to visit late at night. He made his way to a shelter in the Ninth Ward by flashlight. “This is your president!” he called out when he arrived in the dark and crowded space. “I’m here to help you!” Unfortunately, I did not follow his example.
You've got to take the consequences of modesty and restraint. You may hear it lauded many years after you serve in office, when your old job is occupied by a man who's chosen not to follow your model of modesty and restraint. How does that make you feel, seeing how much those people who hated on you are hating the new guy for being the opposite of you?