September 26, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

"Regardless of what you or I may think of the circumstances of this nomination, [Amy Coney] Barrett is highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court."

"I disagree with much of her judicial philosophy and expect to disagree with many, maybe even most of her future votes and opinions. Yet despite this disagreement, I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed. Those are the basic criteria for being a good justice. Barrett meets and exceeds them. I got to know Barrett more than 20 years ago when we clerked at the Supreme Court during the 1998-99 term. Of the thirty-some clerks that year... Barrett stood out. Measured subjectively and unscientifically by pure legal acumen, she was one of the two strongest lawyers. The other was Jenny Martinez, now dean of the Stanford Law School. When assigned to work on an extremely complex, difficult case, especially one involving a hard-to-comprehend statutory scheme, I would first go to Barrett to explain it to me. Then I would go to Martinez to tell me what I should think about it."

Writes Harvard lawprof Noah Feldman (at Bloomberg). I don't really believe Feldman needed Barrett to explain anything or Martinez to know what to think. The discussion of the 2 women is not really about Feldman's help-seeking but about 2 different approaches to statutory interpretation. Barrett (clerking for Scalia) found the meaning in the text "without reference to legislative history or the aims and context of the statute," and  Martinez (clerking for Breyer) would "pragmatically engag[e] the question of what a statute is actually trying to do."

Feldman also vouches for Barrett's character:
To add to her merits, Barrett is a sincere, lovely person. I never heard her utter a word that wasn’t thoughtful and kind — including in the heat of real disagreement about important subjects. She will be an ideal colleague. I don’t really believe in “judicial temperament,” because some of the greatest justices were irascible, difficult and mercurial. But if you do believe in an ideal judicial temperament of calm and decorum, rest assured that Barrett has it.
Reading between the lines, I see a recommendation to the Democratic Senators that they adopt a temperament of calm and decorum — and not because civility is good but because incivility will bite them in the ass. I presume the sincere and lovely Amy will have her 7 children lined up right behind her. Feldman is trying to bestow permission on the Democratic Senators to be very kindly toward Barrett, even though the RBG mourners are screaming for blood.

ADDED: Maybe you, like me, were irritated by the phrase "what a statute is actually trying to do." A statute has no mind. It is not trying to do anything. Human beings have minds and they wrote the statute. What legislators were trying to do when they wrote it includes what they could have put in the text and did not. Their legitimate power does not extend to things they'd also want but neglected or chose not to put in the text that was voted on. Feldman makes it sound more sophisticated for a judge to supply what was left out of the text, but the Scalia position on that is that it's illegitimate for judges to enforce what they imagine the legislators were "actually trying to do."

For the annals of "taking pains."

"For five years, my colleagues and I have taken pains to avoid Nazi comparisons," writes Dana Milbank in "This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning" (WaPo).


Gayle King is trending on Twitter. The mob is after Gayle King for inviting Nancy Pelosi to tone down the rhetoric:

"The fact was, the Senate’s 'advise and consent' was intended, from the start, to forestall the President from remaking the Court in his image."

"The Senate had, for most of its two hundred years, scrutinized the philosophy and politics of nominees—not just their competence, or honesty. And when a President picked a justice for reasons of ideology, it was the Senate’s duty to examine that ideology. Biden spoke for an hour straight, and at the end, no one could lay a glove on him. Mitch McConnell, GOP from Kentucky, actually had written on this subject at law school ... but when he came at Biden, Joe hammered him with history. And Dole, who had to carry the flag across the aisle, had a little speech ready, with a couple of zingers about 'constituent groups' and 'campaign promises.' But he couldn’t really knock down Biden’s point ... so he ended up just insisting that Bob Bork wasn’t such a bad guy. Biden said not a word about Bork (save to note his nomination, in the first sentence of his speech). He was arguing high principle. Tell the truth, he liked the view from high ground—Joe Biden, Defender of the Constitution! Anyway, if he could set the ground rules, he could take the fight to Bork. Through the millions of words that Bork had written or said, Joe Biden would paint a picture of the judge for the American people. That was how he could win the fight. Problem was, he didn’t know how he could paint the judge, or paint him into a corner, intelligibly. Joe had to make it connect. And he would not know ... till he had to make another speech."

From Richard Ben Cramer's book "What It Takes: The Way to the White House" (about the 1988 campaign, published in 1992). President Reagan nominated Robert Bork to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Lewis Powell on July 1, 1987, and Joe Biden, who was trying to get somewhere in the Democratic presidential primaries, as the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, needed to make his mark.

According to Cramer, Biden didn't know what he thought until he spoke it out loud and sometimes not even then. That's what Cramer meant by writing that Biden would not know if he could make the argument intelligibly "till he had to make another speech."

But the fact is, Joe out-argued the purportedly ultra-smart Yale law professor. And, according to Cramer, Joe had a real thing about the Ivy League elite:

4 major museums have postponed a retrospective for a highly respected painter — Philip Guston — because some of the paintings have images of the KKK.

I'm reading "Delay of Philip Guston Retrospective Divides the Art World/;Philip Guston Now' has become Philip Guston in 2024, after four museums postponed an artist’s show that includes Klan imagery."

There's no reason to think Guston liked the Klan. It's for the viewer to gaze on these painterly cartoons...

... and wonder what the hell is this supposed to mean? or just to think hmmm, there's that or whatever you think in a museum... those bastions of white supremacy!

Maybe you think, yeah, this is all cute fun or mysterious ambiguity for elite white folks but it's all made possible by an unexamined sense that black people don't matter.

Okay, but maybe Guston meant to say that — to draw you in and then challenge you to confront your impulse to accept the KKK when it's painted and in a museum.

From the NYT article:
This week, the directors of those museums released a joint statement saying that they were “postponing the exhibition until a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston’s work can be more clearly interpreted.”...

Darby English, a professor of art history at the University of Chicago and a former adjunct curator at the Museum of Modern Art, called the decision “cowardly” and “an insult to art and the public alike.”

And Mark Godfrey, a curator at Tate Modern in London who co-organized the exhibition, posted a searing statement on Instagram saying that the decision was “extremely patronizing” to audiences because it assumes that they are not able to understand and appreciate the nuance of Guston’s works.
Nuance! I saw people in my town tear down a statue of a young man who died in battle fighting against slavery, and Godfrey is criticizing the museums for failing to credit the public with high-level discernment! Of course, it's irksome for museums to over-explain the works of art, but the museums are rightfully afraid of destructive attacks on the paintings. I know the official statement is that the works need to be presented more "clearly" — what? with lots of wall cards saying the artist opposed the KKK? — but the real motivation must be a fear of violence and destruction.

The OED Word of the Day is an obsolete word, "Titanolatry."

Is the OED suggesting that we bring it back to life? We could use it: it means "Worship of, or excessive respect for, power." The mythological Titans represent power in this concoction with the familiar "-olatry" ending.

What's the worst Titanolatry going on today? Is the OED obscurely nudging us about Trump, whose crowds these days chant "We love you"?

Here's "The Fall of the Titans" by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (1596–1598). I love the placement of the dragonfly (and the overall it's-raining-men effect):

"Though they have terrible eyesight, the rats are ideal for such work, with their extraordinary sense of smell and their light weight – they are too light to trigger the mines."

"When they detect a mine, they lightly scratch atop it, signaling to their handler what they've found. Their reward: a banana."

From "Hero Rat Wins A Top Animal Award For Sniffing Out Land Mines" (NPR). Elsewhere, I've seen it written that this rat "won a medal," and, indeed, the president of the U.K. charity that honored the animal said "This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat." They call it a medal, so that makes it a medal.

It's a very useful rat, obviously, but it's not choosing benefit us people (or even other rats). It's simply doing what reliably produces a banana. It has no idea of the danger of a land mine, and there doesn't seem to be any danger for the lightweight creature, certainly nothing that the rat knows about, so there is no courage involved other than what courage it takes to hang around human beings for the sake of banana.

Show me a rat that has displayed heroism. This isn't that rat. But the medal is for us humans, to feel pleased with the contribution of a rat. The rat doesn't care about a medal. It cares about a banana.

September 25, 2020

At the Goldenrod-and-Milkweed Café...


... you can write about anything.

"wow, I’m very sorry this happened but I hope this serves an educational function - I’ve never seen someone have a stroke before..."

According to the NYT, "It was not immediately clear if Mr. Paul had experienced a stroke. Representatives for Mr. Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, did not immediately respond to messages seeking information about his condition on Friday."

"Trump Selects Amy Coney Barrett to Fill Ginsburg’s Seat on the Supreme Court."

The NYT reports.
Mr. Trump plans to announce on Saturday that she is his choice, according to people close to the process who asked not to be identified disclosing the decision in advance. The president met with Judge Barrett at the White House this week and came away impressed with a jurist that leading conservatives told him would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice who died in 2016 and for whom Judge Barrett clerked.

"The cognitive scientist George Lakoff, who studies propaganda, calls this a 'truth sandwich' — a lie gets sandwiched between true statements."

"Research shows it effectively corrects a falsehood, because people tend to remember the beginning and end of a statement, rather than what’s in the middle. Mr. Trump’s resistance to masks is... a target for a derisive truth sandwich: 'Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But you sure wouldn’t know it from the president, who has run around in public without one and mocks people like me who wear them. Is it vanity or that he just doesn’t believe in science? I don’t know, but the science is undisputed: wearing masks saves lives.'"

From "How to Debate Someone Who Lies/Truth sandwiches, ridicule and other tactics for Joe Biden when he faces President Trump" by Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry (NYT).

So, I guess Biden could say that. But wouldn't he have to be wearing a mask? Is Biden going to wear a mask for 90 minutes of debate?!

Here's how that column looked in my browser:

The Biden ad has a picture of Biden wearing a mask! I guess I don't "believe in science" if I "mock" that, but it's ridiculous. It's a photograph!

"A police tactic meant to keep officers safer — raiding homes late at night, giving occupants little or no warning — can conflict with 'castle doctrine' laws meant to keep homeowners safe by giving them leeway to use deadly force against intruders."

"In this case, Taylor’s boyfriend saw the police and thought they were intruders. He says he fired in self-defense. The police fired back, in self-defense against his self-defense. The result, as in other cases, was a tragedy that the law didn’t prevent and won’t punish.... Even after they fired back — missing Walker but striking Taylor, who was standing nearby — Walker said he did not know they were the police. 'I don’t know what is happening,' Walker said in a call he made to 911. 'Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.'.... Under Kentucky’s version of the castle doctrine... residents are allowed to use defensive force against someone 'forcibly entering' a dwelling...."

From "A woman killed. An officer shot. And no one legally responsible" by David Fahrenthold (WaPo).

The method of entering a home at night is presented as necessary to prevent people with drugs from destroying the evidence. From the comments at WaPo: "Rabid, over-enthusiastic drug enforcement. People die over nothing. Legalize and then focus on treatment."

If I were going to vote for Donald Trump, these would be my top 2 reasons.

That's a post title that occurred to me as I was out on my morning run...


... by the end of the run, my list had increased to 4, but I'll just give you the original 2 for now:

1. He defeated ISIS! And he hasn't gotten us into any new military adventures.

2. The Trump haters have gone so big for so long that it feels like extortion. I instinctively resist bullying.


3. The Democrats have given us a ridiculous candidate, a sort of mystery box. I don't know what this entity is. Some composite of Democrats who will act through him?

4. The Democrats pressure us to follow orders from experts, not to understand the evidence and analysis. When it comes to questions involving race and gender — which seem to be all questions nowadays — they impose an ideological template about how the human mind works without regard for any scientific method of analysis. I'm afraid of this irrationality presented as lofty learning, especially as it comes with a demand that we shut up and take orders.

"Is there anybody in America not high — sorry, 'blissed out' — on CBD?..."

"I am perhaps overreacting to the news that domesticity diva Martha Stewart pops about 20 CBD-laced treats a day. CBD stands for cannabidiol, a cannabis byproduct. America’s most fabulous felon reports that 'it’s not a high like a marijuana high. It’s a CBD high, like, relaxed.'... Tom Hanks, Jennifer Aniston, Megan Rapinoe, Morgan Freeman, and Whoopi Goldberg have all boarded the CBD train. Kim Kardashian is said to be 'addicted' to CBD salves. 'Anyone that knows me knows I am obsessed with CBD everything,' quoth the lifestyle goddess. 'Let’s zen out for a Saturday.' Let’s! Good grief, why wouldn’t you want to take the edge off? How can you face 'reality'... without a crutch?... If you are willing to face this world straight up and sober, you have more psychic fortitude than most of us...."

From "Blissed out on CBD/Good grief, why wouldn’t you want to take the edge off?" (Boston Globe).

Are people actually getting "high" on CBD? Quite aside from the stupidity of fawning over yourself for getting high, I don't believe these people are getting high at all. They're just selling products, including the product that is their celebrity persona. That is, I think they're lying about getting high, though it's possible they're getting a placebo effect.

And I don't think Zen is about using drugs to relax on weekends. If you're going to water down a religion, you ought to go for  your own religion.

"Josh Mendelsohn, CEO of the Democratic data firm Hawkfish, has warned of an election-day 'red mirage' of victory for Mr. Trump, which will be replaced in short order by a 'blue shift'..."

" the outstanding, heavily Democratic mail ballots are counted. Such a dramatic change from the election-night result could lead to baseless Republican charges of fraud and cries that the election was rigged, which could spark dangerous political unrest. These nightmare scenarios ignore several key facts, however. Most states begin processing their ballots before election day, and almost all begin putting them through scanners before the polls close. Many states intermingle sent-by-mail and election-day ballots at the polling places, where they are scanned together, so that when the precinct count is released, it contains both in-person and mail ballots. In such states—which include such battlegrounds as New Hampshire and most of Wisconsin—the polling place counts may be released a few hours later than they might in another year, but not days later. More generally, local jurisdictions have been preparing all summer for a surge in mail ballots; most will be counted on election day in parallel with the day’s in-person ballots, so that the results of many ballots cast in advance can be announced early on election night."

From "Actually, We Will Know a Lot on Election Night/Most states begin processing their presidential ballots before Nov. 3, and local officials have been preparing all summer for a surge in mail ballots" (Wall Street Journal).

September 24, 2020

The sunrise of the third day of fall followed a delicate sequence.





Please comment on any subject here. No need to discuss the sunrise!

"The whole point of a robot is that you can have a relationship with it."

President Trump and the First Lady pay their respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the top of the steps of the Supreme Court building, and the crowd at the foot of the steps yells, boos, and chants "Vote him out!"

IN THE COMMENTS: D.D. Driver said:
Hey it's Snyder v. Phelps! Ginsburg sided with Westboro Baptists' first amendment right to protest funerals.

Sad trivia — do you remember who the sole dissenter was?
Here's my blog post from the day the Court decided Snyder v. Phelps. Chief Justice Roberts wrote:
Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here— inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.
I said, "Clearly, this is the right outcome." And I quoted Justice Alito, the lone dissenter: "Respondents’ outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the Court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered. In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner."

Of course, no one cares about the brutalization of the not-so-innocent Trump, and Trump knows that and is taking it like a champion.

President Trump won't commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election!

You've seen the headlines. They're the drama of the day, extracted from yesterday's press briefing where a reporter said words that Trump chose not to repeat. It was a trap, and I presume Trump could see the various ways it would function as a trap, depending on how he answered.

Let's look at the original text:
Speaker 2: Win, lose, or draw in this election. Will you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of power after the election... There’s been rioting in many cities across this country.... Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferral of power after the election?

President Donald Trump: Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster.

Speaker 2: I understand that but people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferal of power?

President Donald Trump: We want to have… Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful… There won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.
Let's break it down:
Will you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of power after the election... Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferral of power after the election?

"The idea of getting hot during quarantine raises practical questions, but also philosophical ones."

"If a person gets hot during quarantine and no one’s around to see it, are they actually hot? Or does it create Schrödinger’s Thirst Trap, where a person is simultaneously Hot and Not?... 'If anything, [hotness is] building exponentially.... So, when I’m actually released into society again, I’ll be at elite status.'"

From "Some people are getting hotter during the pandemic. How dare they" (WaPo).

Are you one of the people who are getting hotter during the pandemic? free polls

NYT columnist Thomas Edsall lists 5 things Biden supporters should worry about.

First, there are indications that Trump’s base of support — whites without college degrees — is more energized and committed to voting this year than key Democratic constituencies. And there is also evidence that polling does not reflect this.

Second, Latinos, who are key to the outcome in several crucial states — Arizona and Florida, for example — have shown less support for Biden than for past Democratic nominees. Many Hispanic voters seem resistant to any campaign that defines them broadly as “people of color.”

Third, absentee voting is expected to be higher among Democrats than Republicans, subjecting their ballots to a greater risk of rejection, a fate more common to mailed-in votes than to in-person voting.

Fourth, the generic Democratic-Republican vote (“Would you be more willing to vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate for Congress?”) through early July favored Democrats by more than 10 points, but has since narrowed to 6 points.

Fifth, the debates will test Biden’s ability to withstand three 90-minute battles against an opponent known for brutal personal attacks.
I haven't looked at the comments yet, but I will. I predict intense denial, premised on: 1. The polls favor Biden so much!, 2. Everybody knows Trump is horrible!, 3. ???...

To my surprise, the top-rated comment is about something Edsall barely mentioned: the riots. It's a response to another commenter:

"Myself and the first lady are both fine. I was tested. Those results, the preliminary results, has come back as a positive test. . . . Right now, I feel fine — no symptoms of any kind."

Said Mike Parson, the Governor of Missouri. He looks rather old, but he's only 65.

"Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion."

NPR reports.
Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup.... Specifically, the study came up with $16 trillion in lost GDP by noting four key racial gaps between African Americans and whites:
  • $13 trillion lost in potential business revenue because of discriminatory lending to African American entrepreneurs, with an estimated 6.1 million jobs not generated as a result
  • $2.7 trillion in income lost because of disparities in wages suffered by African Americans
  • $218 billion lost over the past two decades because of discrimination in providing housing credit
  • And $90 billion to $113 billion in lifetime income lost from discrimination in accessing higher education
Here's the study.

"Police in Greenville, Wisconsin, found three trays of mail, including absentee ballots, in a ditch."

The Washington Examiner reports. According to the Sheriff's office, this was "mail going to the post office." That suggests that there was mishandling but not by the Post Office.

Were the "absentee ballots" ballots that real voters had completed and attempted to direct to the Post Office? There were "three trays" of mail and "absentee ballots" — which is an assertion only that there were at least 2 "absentee ballots" in the mix of what was in the "three trays." The trays were in "a ditch" near the Appleton International Airport.

Think of the different ways "three trays of mail, including absentee ballots" could find their way into a "a ditch" near the Appleton International Airport. Think of the different motivations. The presence of a few ballots — again, how many? — could be random. But let's say it's all about the ballots. Was this done by someone intending to prevent votes from getting counted, or was this done by someone faking evidence that mailed ballots are getting thrown away?

September 23, 2020

At the Smiling Tree Café...


... you can talk about anything you like.

"Democrats worry Feinstein can't handle Supreme Court battle/Colleagues fear the oldest senator may struggle to lead Democrats on the Judiciary Committee."

Politico interviewed more than a dozen Democratic senators and aides" about Dianne Feinstein, 87, who might not be up to the challenge of leading the opposition to Trump's nominee.
A Democratic senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a group of Feinstein’s colleagues want Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) or Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel for the upcoming nomination hearings, which are expected to be extraordinarily contentious. This senator is worried that potential missteps by Feinstein could cost Democrats seats.

“She’s not sure what she’s doing,” the Democratic senator said of Feinstein. “If you take a look at Kavanaugh, we may be short two senators because of that. And if this gets [messed] up, it may be the same result. I think it could impact a number of seats we can win,” the senator added.

Another Democratic senator said party leaders were “in an impossible position,” pointing out that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and other senior Democrats can’t replace a female senator for hearings on an expected female nominee to replace a deceased female Supreme Court justice....

A third Democratic senator put it this way: “She can’t pull this off.”...
ADDED: "Pull off" is a funny phrase. I looked it up in the OED. It has many meanings that are not at all what the third Democratic Senator meant. For example, in U.S. slang, it means "To steal, esp. by picking a pocket":
1883 ‘M. Twain’ Life on Mississippi lii. 511 I pulled off an old woman's leather; (robbed her of her pocket-book).
And it means, in "coarse slang," "To masturbate (a man); to cause (a man) to ejaculate by masturbation":
1909 J. Joyce Let. 8 Dec. in Sel. Lett. (1975) 184 I pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I am delighted to see that you do like being fucked arseways.
1922 J. Joyce Ulysses iii. xviii. [Penelope] 711 How did we finish it off yes O yes I pulled him off into my handkerchief pretending not to be excited.
I'm using high prestige authors to illustrate the lowly meanings.

But the perfectly appropriate meaning is "To succeed in accomplishing, achieving, or producing (something); to carry off." Not necessarily some sort of sneaky caper!
1923 H. G. Wells Men like Gods i. i. 6 He was not really clever enough to pull such a thing off.
1960 ‘Miss Read’ Fresh from Country (1962) xviii. 197 ‘And good luck to the old girl, say I!’ continued Joan warmly... ‘Let's hope she pulls it off!’

"Now I’m asking sleepy Joe Biden to give me a list and he doesn’t want to do it. You know why? "

"Because he can only put super radical left judges on, people that would destroy our country, people that would destroy your country. And he knows that he’s not electable… He shouldn’t be electable anyway. This is the worst candidate. You know where he is today? They have a thing called the LID. I don’t even know. Do you know what LID stands for? LID. He put out a LID today early in the morning. LID means he’s not going to be anywhere today. I’m working my ass off, I’m in Ohio, I’m in Texas, I’m in Florida, I’m in Michigan, I’m in Wisconsin. [CROWD CHANTS: 'We love you.'] Man. Thank you. That’s so nice. Well, that is something that one of the fake news reporters back there, they said they’ve never heard of that one.... That’s never happened to a politician before. Am I a politician? I don’t want to be a politician. I don’t think of myself as a politician. But it really is, I appreciate it. I’ve never heard it. I liked Ronald Reagan, but they never said we love you, or maybe they did. They’re going to try and find out. Then they’ll say, 'President Trump lied last night because 40 years ago I remember…' But no, nobody’s ever heard that one before and I appreciate it because it is reciprocal. Thank you very much. Reciprocal. Reciprocal love. It’s reciprocal. I had such a nice life before I did this. I had such a nice life...."

From "Donald Trump Pittsburgh Campaign Rally Transcript September 22."

"Her father was an immigrant from Odessa, her mother was born four months after her family arrived from Poland. Her mother later worked as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn."

"Ruth used to ask, 'What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court Justice?' Her answer, one generation. It has been said that Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso, but became a rockstar instead.... She was not an opera star, but she found her stage right behind me in our courtroom...."

From "John Roberts Memorial Speech for Ruth Bader Ginsburg Transcript September 23."

6:51, 7:05.



Sunrise on the second day of fall.

"The sun is rising, trumpets are playing, all signifying redemption."

How happy I was to find only that when I searched for "trump" on the page "How Can We Bear This Much Loss?/In William Blake’s engravings for the Book of Job I found a powerful lesson about grief and attachment" by Amitha Kalaichandran (NYT).
In Blake’s penultimate illustration in this series Job is pictured with his daughters.... The sun is rising, trumpets are playing, all signifying redemption. Job became a fundamentally changed man after being tested to his core. He has accepted that life is unpredictable and loss is inevitable. Everything is temporary and the only constant, paradoxically, is this state of change.

David Lat assesses the odds on the various candidates for the Supreme Court nomination.

At Above the Law.

He gives Amy Coney Barrett 50-50 odds:
Trump has wasted no time in meeting with Barrett, who made her way to the White House and met with the president [on Sept. 21]. According to the New York Times, Trump “spent much of the day with her and later told associates that he liked her, according to people close to the process, who considered her increasingly likely to be the pick.”

(One wonders whether having them spend so much time together was an attempt by Barrett backers to get Trump more comfortable with her. At their prior interview back in 2018, the thrice-married, not-very-religious Manhattan billionaire and the devoutly Catholic, midwestern mother of seven reportedly lacked “chemistry,” concluding their conversation before their allotted time was up.)

"The more you provide 'equal opportunity' for those at the bottom, the more you perfect a system in which those at the top can believe they are smarter and better (i.e. more meritorious)..."

"... than those who can't or don't climb up the pyramid. After all, they had equal opportunity. What's their excuse? Now we’re facing the end game: What to do when we no longer have enough jobs that practically anyone can do, but that pay enough to allow, if not a 'middle class' life, a life as a full participant in society. There seem to be at least seven approaches...."

From "Two Paths for Meritocracy/Are we free at last from Michael Young's doomsday machine?" by Mickey Kaus (substack)(Michael Young is the author of "The Rise of the Meritocracy" (1958)).

You can go to the link to read the 7 approaches. #7 is Kaus's own. He also finds the entire list "quite dispiriting." An alternative is to reject meritocracy.

Isn't everyone's answer "Mad"?

"What’s the first magazine you ever loved?"

ADDED: Oh, my! Kathy Griffin answered "The Iliad." That's a real when-they-go-low-I-go-high answer.

"Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!"

"[Mike Pence is] a good debater. So, I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint."

Said Kamala Harris, speaking at a fundraiser, quoted in "Kamala Harris Downplays Debate Skills as Buttigieg Stands In for Pence" (Bloomberg). I hope I'm detecting sarcasm in that "I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint."

The article also quotes Senator Claire McCaskill: "I think Kamala is suffering from too high of expectations in terms of her debate performance with Pence.... I think we all like need to take a deep breath and quit saying, ‘I can’t wait for Kamala to debate Pence.’ It won’t be like that. It won’t be that Pence will be laying bleeding on the floor when Kamala is done. So, we’ve got to lower expectations for Kamala and keep the expectations for Biden low."

"New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found."

"To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages."

Email from Google policing this blog and punishing me with the withholding of ads. I get this sort of thing regularly. Here are some blog posts on which Google has recently claimed to "detect" violations of its policy:

1. "The whiteness" — Larry Tribe observed that the audience for Pete Buttigieg is "overwhelmingly white."

2. "And I do think — the Democrats, I think, have come to understand, they somehow got on the wrong side of order" — quoting David Brooks on the topic of law and order and racism.

3. "In a disturbing number of the recent cases of the police being called on black people for doing everyday, mundane things, the calls have been initiated by white women" — quoting NYT columnist Charles Blow.

4. "Welcome to Madison, Sean" — about UW handing out an anti-gun book to new students.

In each case I was accused of having "Dangerous or derogatory content," which Google defines as content that:

The NYT's Frank Bruni says Trump replacing RBG will put us in "a special hell" — because the Court "won’t represent what most Americans believe."

He says those words — "won’t represent" — and he must immediately back and fill. He knows it's not right, but... but what?!
Sure, the court isn’t supposed to be beholden to public opinion, but...
But what?!!!
... Americans’ faith in their institutions and feeling that their voices are heard might be strained even further by what seem to be lurches backward by a court forged in the hottest flares of partisan passion.
Reread that. I love the way the word "strained" appears in the most strained sentence I've read all year. I mean really read. Mostly when I encounter strained prose, I'm disgusted and find something else to consume.

But I get sucked into this crazy sentence. It's full of colorful words but mind-bending if you try to picture what's going on. Let's see. Faith and feeling... might be strained... by lurches backward. Lurches backward might strain faith and feeling. And then there's a forge... so the Court is likened to metalwork of some kind.... yet it's capable of lurching. Backwards! Seemingly....

Bruni goes on to list questions of law that the new Court "could well" revisit — abortion, gay rights, voting rights, affirmative action. He presents this as a problem because the President who appointed the new justices doesn't have "deep-seated convictions" — or "a genuinely felt vision" — like some idealized liberal President who aspires to use the Supreme Court to achieve advances that are traditionally the work of legislatures. Bruni characterizes Trump as "the most brazen of opportunists" because he'd pick a nominee that would win him favor from voters.

That is, Bruni first complained that the Court won't be "representative" of Americans, then complained that Trump would not advance his personal political preferences but would think about what voters want. I suspect that Bruni's real point is that the Court ought to be political and liberal.

This picture of Hell is a detail from a fresco in a church in Bulgaria — found at the Wikipedia article "Hell." I chose it because of Bruni's "Hell" metaphor and his phrase "forged in the hottest flares of partisan passion" and because of the scales of justice in the upper left-hand corner.

September 22, 2020

At the House-at-Pooh-Corner Café...


... maybe you'll write something utterly charming.

I took the photograph this morning at sunrise, as I was entering my running trail. It looks as though a child lost the book somewhere on the trail and whoever found it put it on that rock in the hope that it would find its way if not to the home of the child who lost it to some other child's home.

At first I thought Christopher Robin was humiliating Pooh, but I think he's knighting him.

"As Joe Rogan’s Platform Grows, So Does the Media and Liberal Backlash. Why? The popular podcast host is a political liberal by all metrics. So what explains the contempt he provokes in liberal circles?"

Glenn Greenwald asks (at The Intercept).
The objections typically raised to Rogan concern his questioning of some of the very recent changes brought about by trans visibility and equality.... If the standard is that anyone who even entertains debates over the maxmialist [sic] and most controversial questions in this very new and evolving social movement is to be cast out as radioactive, liberalism and the Democratic Party will be a very small group.... The other critique centers on Rogan’s willingness to invite on his show various pundits with far-right views.... 
While Rogan is politically liberal, he is — argues former Obama 2008 campaign strategist and Rogan listener Shant Mesrobian — culturally conservative, by which he does not mean that Rogan holds conservative views on social issues (again, he is pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights). He means that Rogan exudes culturally conservative signals: he likes MMA fighting, makes crude jokes, hunts, and just generally fails to speak in the lingo of the professional managerial class and coastal elites. And it is those cultural standards, rather than political ones, that make Rogan anathema to elite liberal culture because, Mesrobian argued in a viral Twitter thread, liberals care far more about proper culture signalling than they do about the much harder and more consequential work of actual politics....
Democrats are crazy to let conservatism take possession of the crude, manly sector!

"Multiple voters characterized by ABC News as undecided—and selected to pepper President Donald Trump with questions during a network town hall—are longtime Trump critics."

"While the network claimed its Tuesday town hall 'provided uncommitted voters the opportunity to ask the president questions about issues affecting Americans,' a Washington Free Beacon review of social media posts found that two of the questioners have long denounced Trump. Kutztown University professor Ellesia Blaque—whom ABC repeatedly identified as 'uncommitted' in its coverage of the town hall—praised vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris during the Democratic primary, saying she would 'be there, volunteering' for the California senator in Pennsylvania. The English professor was not shy about her partisanship, calling Trump a 'f—ing moron,' 'pathetic,' 'pig," "swine,' 'punk ass,' and "'LOOSER' (sic) in a slew of 2019 tweets. She is a self-described 'liberal Democrat,' according to her Facebook profile, on the grounds that liberals 'are not motivated by money or power, but by humanity and the needs of the people.'... An ABC spokesperson told the Free Beacon that the voters 'all identified to [the network] as uncommitted.' The spokesperson would not say whether the network took any time to verify those claims, nor did he answer questions about the selection process."

Says the Free Beacon.

"Granted that most of the mythologizing came later, but for RBG to decide she was indispensable in 2013-14, when there was a Democratic President and Democratic Senate majority..."

"... that could have replaced her with another liberal, was a cosmic misjudgment. (As de Gaulle is supposed to have remarked, the cemeteries are full of indispensable people.) Self-confidence is fine and good, and in her case it was fully justified. But to imagine that through sheer will power you can endlessly defy age and illness is hubris, and we know from the Greeks, hubris invites nemesis — now in the form of a court that will pick apart and discard half her legacy. This is the tragedy we are now facing."

That's one of the most highly rated comments at "Why Ruth Bader Ginsburg Refused to Step Down/She could have had President Obama nominate her successor. But she didn’t get to the Supreme Court by letting other people tell her what she could do" by Emily Bazelon (NYT).

By the way: "Mitt Romney Supports Replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg Before the Election/Republicans are now almost guaranteed enough votes to replace the late justice before Nov. 3" (Buzzfeed). Romney offered what has become the stock GOP explanation: "The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own."

Nemesis ("In ancient Greek religion, Nemesis... is the goddess who enacts retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods)"):

How Joe Biden can make Barack Obama President again.

I invite Joe Biden to pledge to follow this pathway to putting Barack Obama back in the White House. By pledging, he may improve his chance of getting elected. Who knows? The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dying Wish must come true. The vacancy on the Supreme Court must remain open. I won't spend time on that step, because that's what everyone's already talking about. So let's jump forward to the new things:

First, President Joe Biden nominates Vice President Kamala Harris for the Supreme Court. He pledged to pick a black woman. Pledge kept. Now, he has the distinction of choosing not only the first black woman for the Court but also the first Asian person.

The choice would also meet a long-discussed goal of putting someone with political experience on the Court. This is something Bill Clinton wanted to do. In reminiscing — just a few days ago — about his choice of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he openly talked about his original preference for someone political (specifically Mario Cuomo). Trump has shown the same interest when he put Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton on his Supreme Court list.

When Harris is confirmed, she will resign from the vice presidency, which will give President Biden the power to appoint the new Vice President. He can pick Barack Obama. Then all Biden needs to do is resign. He's feeling too elderly to serve. Oops! Thought I could do it, but turns out I'm getting weaker by the day. Whatever. Or don't even surprise us. Tell us now that you'll follow this path. Then, when you resign, you'll just be doing what you promised, keeping your pledge.

And don't tell me Barack Obama is term-limited. As Supreme Court nominees like to say, you read the text and you say what it means, not what you wish it would mean. Here's the text of the 22nd Amendment: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice...." There's no point in this scheme where Barack Obama is elected to the office of the President more than twice. He's appointed Vice President, and he assumes the presidency not by another election but by the resignation of President Biden.

ADDED: Meade is accusing me of "energizing Trumpers." Hmm. Do you think so?

IN THE COMMENTS: tcross asks "What's in it for Obama?" Well, for one thing, he gets to appoint the next Vice President. And then he's free to resign whenever it works best for him — so that he will have appointed the next President! He can restore what will be proclaimed "civility." Make us feel like we're good people again. Pat us on the head for behaving better. Make concerts in the White House great again. Pose with world leaders. Win another Nobel Prize.

ALSO: tcross's comment had more to it: "What's in it for Obama? It might get him off the hook for the huge advance he got for the book he has yet to produce." And the really cool thing is, then Obama could win the Nobel Prize for Literature! He won the Nobel Peace Prize without doing anything for it. He should win the Nobel Prize for Literature for figuring out the most high-flown, brilliant way of NOT writing a book. Conceptual art, blah blah blah. Stunning!!!

Get ready, it's coming: The Equinox and the way Joe Biden can bring Barack Obama back as President of the United States before winter ends!

Here's this morning's sunrise, photographed at 6:50:


The actual sunrise time was 6:45, but more interesting than that is that The Equinox is coming at 8:30 CDT this morning.

But if politics interests you more than nature, you'll want to hang on for my wonderful plan for Joe Biden to bring back our friend, the pleasantest President, Barack Obama. And don't worry about Kamala Harris. I have a wonderful place for her. Explanation coming in my next post, but go ahead and speculate, and you'll see it too.

If Barbara Lagoa is Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, it will forefront a subject that roiled the presidential election in 2000 — Elian Gonzalez.

I'm reading "Lagoa’s Role in Florida Will Be a Big Factor in Trump’s Supreme Court Pick/Judge Barbara Lagoa lacks some of the usual credentials of a Supreme Court justice, but her roots in the Cuban-American community could make her an attractive choice for President Trump" (NYT).
Ms. Lagoa represented a relative of a 5-year-old boy found off the Florida coast after his mother had drowned trying to cross over from Cuba. His name was Elián González. Federal agents would eventually seize Elián and return him to his father in Cuba, setting off political shock waves that arguably cost former Vice President Al Gore the 2000 presidential election when he lost Florida.

“After six months, countless briefs, a few all-nighters, two oral arguments and one midnight raid by armed commandos, we learned what it was like to lose,” Eliot Pedrosa, another lawyer on the team, said at a ceremony last year when Judge Lagoa joined the Florida Supreme Court. The experience of “watching armed federal agents use force to pre-empt process,” he said, was “seared into her soul.”...

The Cuban-American community admired her work on Elián’s case, taking issue with the federal government’s position that the boy’s father, Juan Miguel González, was his sole legal guardian and had the right to make the decision to have him returned to Cuba. Also playing a role was a young lawyer named Brett M. Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice himself, who represented the boy’s Miami relatives when they needed someone to work on a federal appeal....
Here's a March 10, 2000 NYT article that mentions Lagoa, "Federal Judge Fails to Rule On Fate of Cuban Youngster":

September 21, 2020

At the Smooth Aster Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday and lie in state Friday at the Capitol before President Trump is expected to nominate a replacement."

"During a television appearance Monday, Trump said he would probably announce his nominee Friday or Saturday, which he said would leave 'plenty of time' for a Senate confirmation vote before Election Day."

WaPo reports.

And: "President Trump on Monday said he has narrowed his list of potential Supreme Court nominees to fill the seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to five people" (Fox News): "The president’s shortlist is said to include Judge Amy Coney Barrett from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Judge Barbara Logoa of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and Judge Allison Jones Rushing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, among others."

Isn't it crazy how this story has overshadowed everything else in the news — the coronavirus, the protest/riots, whatever the hell was in Woodward's book, the forest fires...?

Instead of Trump getting excoriated for being terrifyingly strange, he enters the last lap toward Election Day in his area of greatest normality — a President filling a Supreme Court vacancy with a stellar individual who manifests all the conventional attributes of a first-class judge.

Replacing Justice Ginsburg — an assortment of tweets.

Fact-checking Alan Alda.

"All the hysteria about a Ginsburg replacement stems from the fact that our political system is dominated by an allegedly nonpolitical Court that actually decides many political issues."

"And that Court is small (enough so that a single retirement can throw things into disarray) and unrepresentative of America at large. In an earlier article, responding to Democrats’ plans to 'pack' the Court with several additional justices whenever they get control back, I suggested going a step further, and add fifty new justices, one each to be appointed by every states' governor.... Under my proposal, the death or retirement of a single justice wouldn’t be much more than a blip in the news, instead of something serious enough that there are people talking about violence in the streets. A Supreme Court composed of 59 justices wouldn’t have the mystique of the current Court — you might believe in 9 Platonic Guardians, but the notion of 59 such is absurd. And since governors would presumably select people from their own states, it would bring a substantial increase in diversity to the Court."

Writes Glenn Reynolds at USA Today.

Do you want your political power raw or cooked?

I'm reading "Joe Biden Philadelphia Speech Transcript Sept. 20: Accuses Trump & Republicans of Abuse of Power Over SCOTUS." Joe went to Philadelphia again to read from the teleprompter. I assume he goes to Philadelphia because it's so close to Wilmington, Delaware. Anyway... I was interested in his discussion of filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court:
This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future, and the people of this nation, and the people of this nation are choosing their future right now, as they vote. To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power, and I don’t believe that the people of this nation will stand for it. President Trump has already made it clear, this is about power, pure and simple power.
Of course, it's about power — the appointment and the election... and the last election. Joe Biden wants that power — the power of the presidency, which he would like to include the power to appoint the successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But he can't get that power unless Donald Trump, for some reason, decides to abstain from the exercise of raw political power that is served up on a plate right there on his table.
Whether the voters should make it clear on this issue and so many others, the power in this nation resides with them, the American people, the voters....
It resided with them in 2016 and they exercised it. Now, it resides with the President until his term is up. That's the raw power answer, and raw power is power. The sushi is on the table. But maybe you can persuade the ravenous diner to pass up this meal. Maybe this power would be better cooked.
... and even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act until after the American people select their next president, their next Congress, their next Senate. If Donald Trump wins the election, then the Senate should move on his selection and weigh the nominee he chooses fairly. But if I win this election, President Trump’s nominee should be withdrawn....
But why?! If he loses the election, why would he take back what he's already done? If the Senate is about to be handed over to the Democrats in January, why wouldn't the GOP Senate majority feast on their last meal and confirm Trump's nominee? It's still raw power! Biden can only hope to convince them to walk away from the raw-power table and let things stew until late January.
... and as a new president I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor....
I should be the one! That's what all seekers of power are always saying: I should be the one!

The political limits of understanding.

I read that and this lyric sprang into my head: "Harmony and understanding/Sympathy and trust abounding/No more falsehoods or derisions...." Here's how the mystic crystal revelation looks in action:

"when you lose the emmy"

ADDED: I don't have Hulu and I don't keep track of all the many shows that are flowing out of the television these days, so I didn't know anything about Ramy Youssef. I looked him up and found this, which explains his show:

Now, I know who he is. He seems like a nice person. I still don't have Hulu. More interestingly, I have no idea who did win the Emmy in the category he was nominated in, so that shows the power of social media as opposed to the power of the old-timey bestowal of statuettes.

AND: "It's 2020. They don't want a man like me anymore. They want a man like you. A man who [inaudible] a little bit like a woman but is still officially a man."

ALSO: At the very end of that video, he talks about the show winning a Golden Globe. That underscores my point about the superiority of social media to traditional awards shows. I hadn't heard of him or his show until today — because of that tweet you see above — but it won a Golden Globe!

Is this elite? Or is this what elite people scoff at?

ADDED: As noted on this blog back in 2017, there's a difference between elite and elitist: "I'm not elitist. I'm elite. There's a difference." I would suggest to McCaskill that Trump is elite but he is not elitist.

If Trump nominates Barbara Lagoa to replace RBG, will Democrats make the "second Latina" argument? I see 2 big problems!

"An effort to install a second Latina on the high court would immediately raise the stakes of a nomination fight that quickly became a clash over principles of fairness and democratic legitimacy."

I just wanted to isolate that sentence, which appears in the middle of a Washington Post article by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Aaron C. Davis and called "Barbara Lagoa, Cuban American judge, rises on Trump’s Supreme Court list as allies emphasize Florida campaign edge."

First, I see that word "install," which I blogged about at length when we saw it in the text of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

As I explained at the time, "install" was not the normal word to use in the context of a new American President taking office. I won't be surprised to see a sudden vogue for "install." I'll be watching.

But that's not my motivation for writing this post. I want to talk about "a second Latina." Is this the incipient attack on Lagoa? We already have a Latina on the Court, so Trump, in a ham-handed attempt to do diversity, has failed! He would grossly over-represent Latinas on the Court!

Is that the attack they'd use or that they're testing right now or pretending that they'd use in order to scare Trump away from what would, in fact, be an excellent choice?

There are 2 big problems with the "second Latina" argument.

1. The "first Latina" is Sonia Sotomayor, who was born in the Bronx to parents who were born in Puerto Rico. Barbara Lagoa was born in Miami to parents who fled Cuba. You can group them together under the word "Latina," but if you care about diversity, you shouldn't be arguing that the proposed "second Latina" is just a repeat of an ethnicity already represented on the Court.

2. The "second Latina" argument radically exposes the problem with choosing people because of their ethnicity. You're saying just get one and then you've covered that group and you don't need another. This idea limits opportunities for those in the groups that you've posed as caring about. You're saying: We've got our Latina, so we don't need another; we can get back to hiring the type of person we always preferred.

I don't know if Trump will pick Barbara Lagoa, but I'll be very interested to see if Democrats unleash the "second Latina" argument. It's dangerous, and it should go horribly wrong.

September 20, 2020

At the Pokeweed Café...


... you can poke through whatever thoughts have invaded your brain.

"They’re now saying, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, they said, 'Biden should release his list.'"

"It’s no wonder the Trump campaign asked that I release the list only after she passed away. It’s a game for them. It’s a play to [inaudible] up emotions and anger. There’s a reason why no presidential candidate, other than Donald Trump, has ever done such a thing. First, putting a judge’s name on a list like that could influence that person’s decision making as a judge, and that would be wrong, or at least create the perception that it would have influence. Second, anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances will be subject to unrelenting political attacks. Because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest, she would endure those attacks for months on end, without being able to defend herself. Thirdly, and finally, perhaps most importantly, if I win, I’ll make my choice for the Supreme Court not based on a partisan election campaign, but on what prior presidents have done, Republican and Democrats, and I’ve served with many of them. Only after consulting Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate and seeking their advice and asking for the consent, it says, 'Advice and consent of the Senate,' the president is the person who gets to name someone, propose. The Senate deposes. As everyone knows, I made it clear that my first choice for the Supreme Court will make history as the first African American woman justice. But I’ll consult with senators in both parties about that pick, as well as the legal and civil leaders in our country...."

From Joe Biden Philadelphia Speech Transcript Sept. 20.

Oh? I'd forgotten that he'd pledged to choose a black woman. Isn't that inconsistent with his 3 reasons for not giving us a list? There can't be that many potential choices if he's got the type of person narrowed down like that. Who are the under-60 black female federal judges appointed by Democratic Presidents? Won't they all be influenced in their decisions — reason #1, above — even though their names are not on a list? Aren't they all just as vulnerable to "unrelenting political attacks" as the individuals on Trump's list (reason #2)? And are you not violating reason #3 by making this pledge? You are trying to gain favor in a partisan election campaign, and when it's over, you'll be locked into that limitation and not able to make the sober, nonpolitical analysis you want us to think you will make. And isn't your pledge to appoint a black woman — just a black woman, not the person with the greatest skill and integrity — more political than Trump's list of real people, whose skill and integrity we can investigate? And by the way, if you are really so concerned about tormenting judicial candidates with with unrelenting political attacks, why did you participate in the mistreatment of Bret Kavanaugh?

ADDED: No presidential candidate, other than Donald Trump, has ever done such a thing.... Yes, Trump innovated, but it was Trump, so, of course Orange Man Bad. But it was a good innovation for him, because he wanted to build confidence that he would indeed choose a principled conservative. Now, that the innovation has been done, other candidates will decide whether it suits them. It will suit some, but not others. And, clearly, it would not suit Biden. Biden can't possibly present a list of names. There would be "unrelenting political attacks" on him. There's no way he can provide names that will be far enough left to avoid attacks from the left. If he even attempts to give the left some satisfaction, moderates will be upset. It will further aggravate the suspicion that he's going to let the lefties push him around.

I watched the Sunday morning shows — 4 of them! — after shunning them for years, and I can boil them down for you.

The most interesting thing was this bizarre malfunction from Nancy Pelosi:

The boil-down is easy: Replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a completely political event, where there are constitutionally defined powers that will be exercised to their utmost. Nothing more is needed, and nothing can be done about it, and each party will do what the other party would do if the roles were reversed. And that's the same thing they did in 2016 after Justice Scalia died.

Good morning! Sunday morning! See ya!

"Trump wasn’t elected because Clinton was cordially detested. What American presidential candidate since George Washington hasn’t been?"

"She was dull on the stump. But if dullness were politically fatal, the entire American political system would have been in the cemetery with President Harrison since 1841. (He gave a two-hour inaugural address in freezing rain, then caught a cold and died a month later.) Clinton’s 'popular vote' victory was and is inconsequential. America, since its founding, has had a devolved system of voting for the president that eschews nationwide first-past-the-post to give more obscure regions (our Scotlands) a greater say than weight of population would allow. She and Trump knew the rules. The cheating would have been different in a different game. Russian electoral interference was doubtless factual but doubtfully culpable. I’ve spent time in Russia. The idea that the Russians could fine-tune America’s enormously complex machinery of election is … I’ve driven Russian cars. And there’s no use blaming Trump’s election on the rise of populism. 'Populism' is an epithetic catch-all in use whenever the ideas popular with the good and the great aren’t popular.... America is what you get when you turn a random horde of people loose in a vast and various space. Some came here on the make, some on the run, some were dragged here involuntarily as slaves, some were chased here by poverty, oppression or bigotry and some were here already and were defeated by disease and demographics until they became foreigners in their own country. The bunch of us have never got along...."

From "Trump v Biden: PJ O’Rourke on why this US election is the craziest yet/Why on earth isn’t Joe Biden set for a landslide? The inimitable political commentator takes a ringside seat at the election circus" by (obviously) P.J. O'Rourke writing in the Times of London.



... had a young audience today:


"If you are between the ages of 18 and 29, I mean hell, even a little bit older. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, 40, you have the ability to turn the outcome of this election. Period. Period."

I mean, hell! I'm about to turn 70. My son is about to turn 40. My son is in her I-mean-hell zone. He barely counts anymore. Too old! Oldies step aside. The young ones are taking over, and they know what's what. Period. Period. Period.

And by "her," I mean Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from "AOC Speech Transcript on RBG Death & What Democrats Should Do Next."
People say, “Oh my gosh, why is everyone in our government so old?” I don’t want to be ageist or anything like that, but we want a government that’s diverse....
So get out and vote for 77-year-old Joe Biden. Old white man Joe. It's your only choice. For diversity!
... I understand why people say, “I don’t vote. What’s the point?” I really empathize with it. I’m not here to dismiss you. I’m not here to poo-poo you. I’m not here to say you’re wrong or that you’re a bad person. What I’m here to say is that this year, this election, voting for Joe Biden is not about whether you agree with him. It’s a vote to let our democracy live another day. That’s what this is about....
You  have no choice.

"[Sandra Day] O’Connor... retired at 75 to spend more time with her husband, John. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease..."

"... and O’Connor wanted to make his last years as full of companionship and good times as possible. But there wasn’t any time. John O’Connor deteriorated much faster than his wife had expected. 'John was in such bad shape she couldn’t keep him at home,' [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg told me. It was a lesson, maybe, in how even the noblest motives aren’t always enough reason to throw in the towel. Ginsburg kept fighting and working... When she was old and frequently sick she still kept on keeping on. Her worries about problems with naming a successor were real. But there was also just the way she lived her life...."

From "Ruth Bader Ginsburg Knew What to Do With Her Time/But she also knew something about the unreliability of happy endings" by Gail Collins (NYT).

"Noble" is the right word for what Justice O'Connor did, and seeing what happened, it's hard not to think she made the wrong choice, that — to use Collins's crude expression — she didn't have "enough reason to throw in the towel." But a choice like that is made in its time, without knowledge of the future. You can't look at what happened next when you calculate whether there was "enough reason."

And even when you look at the decision based on the knowledge that the decisionmaker had at the time, you can't know whether there was reason enough without knowing what only Justice O'Connor knew, the depth and the meaning of her love for her husband. To look from a distance and say she misjudged... there's no nobility in that.

Ginsburg "kept fighting" — and "throw in the towel" comes from boxing, where an actual towel was thrown down to signal defeat. But her beloved husband was already gone, and it was her own illness. There was no parallel way that O'Connor could have fought on. She had to choose whether to give her time to her husband. Ginsburg could no longer give time to her husband.

It's not that one woman "knew what to do with her time" — to use the words in the headline — and the other did not. Neither faced the choice that the other faced, and neither should be regarded as more of a fighter or more noble. 

"Having Barrett replace Ginsberg because they are women is like having Clarence Thomas replace Thurgood Marshall because they're black."

Top-rated comment on "Who is Amy Coney Barrett, the judge at the top of Trump’s list to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" (WaPo).

From the article:
A devout Catholic who is fervently antiabortion, Barrett appeals to Trump’s conservative base. But Republicans also hope that for moderates such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), her gender makes her a more palatable replacement for Ginsburg, a feminist icon who spent her life fighting for gender equality....

Trump first nominated Barrett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017. Previously, she’d taught law at the University of Notre Dame for 15 years, so she had no previous judicial record to scrutinize. Democrats balked at her nomination, questioning whether the academic could be an impartial arbiter because of her deep religious convictions. Republicans accused Democrats of applying a religious test in their questioning.
That links to a September 7, 2017 WaPo article "Did Dianne Feinstein accuse a judicial nominee of being too Christian?"
Amy Barrett... has spoken often of her Catholic faith and drawn opposition from liberal groups, which argue that she'd place it above the law. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns Wednesday at a confirmation hearing, telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that's of concern …”
I blogged about that at the time, here. Excerpt:
Is "dogma" a dog whistle, expressive of anti-Catholic bias or does it aptly characterize a person with fixed beliefs that interfere with understanding law in a properly judicial way?... We're being asked to rely on the decisions that will come from the mind of this nominee. That mind must be tested, and it can't be tested enough. There are all sorts of biases and disabilities within any human mind, and the hearings can do very little to expose the limitations of an intelligent, well-prepared nominee....

A nominee with a mind entirely devoted to religion and intending to use her position as a judge to further the principles of her religion should be voted down just like a candidate who revealed that he'd go by "what decision in a case was most likely to advance the cause of socialism."

I'd like to think that a religious person has a strong moral core that would preclude that kind of dishonesty, but we're not required to give religious nominees a pass and presume they're more honest than nominees who are not religious devotees. That would be religious discrimination!
ADDED: Is it too late to be annoyed by the use of "they" in the quote in the post title? Also let me remind you of what Thurgood Thurgood Marshall said as he was retiring from the Court, before Clarence Thomas was nominated:
Q: Do you think President Bush has any kind of an obligation to name a minority justice in your place?

Thurgood Marshall: What?

Q: Do you think President Bush has any kind of an obligation to name a minority candidate for your job?

Thurgood Marshall: I don't think that that should be a ploy, and I don't think it should be used as an excuse one way or the other.

Q: An excuse for what, Justice?

Thurgood Marshall: Doing wrong. I mean for picking the wrong Negro and saying "I'm picking him because he is a Negro." I am opposed to that. My dad told me way back that you can't use race. For example, there's no difference between a white snake and black snake, they'll both bite. So I don't want to use race as an excuse.

A new Marquette poll shows strong support for holding hearings on the new Supreme Court nominee — and the support is highest among independents.

And there's a strong majority for holding hearings even among Democrats!

A majority in all 3 groups also say it was wrong not to have held hearings on Merrick Garland.

ADDED: "The survey was conducted Sept. 8-15, 2020, interviewing 1,523 adults nationwide, with a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points." That is, oddly enough, the poll was taken in the week before Justice Ginsburg died.