October 31, 2020

At the Smokestack-Skewers-the-Sun Café...


... you can write about anything you want.


"Ugly folks over there honking."

It's a podcast.

Topics: "Trump rhetoric, Halloween, fired up to vote, drive-in rallies, Kamala’s laughing, decoy debunking, cheese woes, predictions of violence, Brett Favre, nerve and courage, Michael Moore, Sean Connery, the lost landslide, Joe Rogan and Alex Jones."

"After popular Spotify podcaster Joe Rogan had conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his popular show 'The Joe Rogan Experience' earlier this week..."

"... Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended Rogan's decision. 'We want creators to create. It's what they do best. We're not looking to play a role in what they should say,' Ek said... ... Spotify's policies 'do not entail what guests our podcasts invite on, it's more about the content itself.'...  Jones has been banned from publishing on Spotify since 2018 for 'repeated violations' of the platform's policy on hate speech....  On Spotify's Thursday morning earnings call.... Ek referenced Spotify's content policies as to why the episode is still available to stream. "We obviously review all the content that goes up.... But it's important to note that this needs to be evenly applied, no matter if it's internal pressure or external pressure as well, because, otherwise, we are a creative platform for lots of creators and it's important that they know what they expect from our platforms. If we can't do that, then there are other choices for a lot of creators to go to.'" 

I'm only about 43 minutes into this episode, but I've been enjoying the interaction with Joe. Jones is quite a motor-mouth, and he's an interesting contrast to Kanye West, who did a 3-hour show with Joe recently. West, another motor-mouth, is all about imagining things that could happen in the future, while Jones is about all what might be going on all over the place right now. That is both West and Jones are furiously jabbering about what we blasé humans cannot see. Joe is a great mediator, the normal guy who can channel them to us... whether that's good for us or not. 

Thanks to Spotify for sticking with free speech... and its contractual obligations to Joe. I predict that at some point in the future, Spotify will buy Joe out of his contract, and Joe will walk away with a big bag of money and be independent again. Which reminds me of Glenn Greenwald. Isn't he going to be suing The Intercept for breach of contract? And isn't he going to win? In any case, who cares about The Intercept without Glenn Greenwald? It just seemed like a platform for Greenwald to me. 

I get the feeling the NYT is bracing for a Trump win.

I don't think the front page would look like this if they believed Biden is coasting toward victory. 

Front-page headlines/subheads that support my intuition: "Anxious but determined, Americans are pushing through challenges like the pandemic and long lines to cast their ballot," "A Frazzled World Holds Its Breath While the U.S. Chooses Its Leader," "The Day After Election Day/Current and former Trump administration officials are worried about what might happen on Nov. 4," "Fueled by Cash, Health Care and Trump’s Woes, Democrats Aim for Senate Control," "Trump Has Made the Whole World Darker," "How Lincoln Survived the Worst Election Ever/There are many parallels between 1860 and 2020. Let’s hope there aren’t too many," "Don’t Fool Yourself. Trump Is Not an Aberration." 

Where's Biden? There are a couple mentions of the disappearing man: "Some Older Voters Shift to Biden in Florida. Will It Be Enough for Him?/Polls suggest some retirees are shifting from having supported President Trump to voting for Joseph R. Biden Jr. But they are rare in Florida’s Republican heartland," "A last puzzle piece: Whether Joe Biden has a significant or modest lead comes down to Pennsylvania." 

There hasn't been talk of a Biden "landslide" in a long time. I think there's more of a desperate hope that he can hang on and discomfiture that Trump is still there, staying alive, never accepting that he was doomed. It's a hero's story for Trump, and that's got to hurt.

Here's Frank Bruni, 2 days ago, which I found searching the NYT archive for "Biden" and "landslide": 
I could be overreacting. Maybe, just ahead, there will be moments of grace, enough of them to redeem us. Maybe I’ll look up on or after Nov. 3 and see that Biden has won North Carolina, has won Michigan, has won every closely contested state and the presidency in a landslide. 
Maybe I’ll have to eat my words. Please, my fellow Americans, feed me my words. I’d relish that meal.

I also saw the word "landslide" in this letter to the editor on October 28, under the heading "It’s Biden! No, It’s Trump! Here Are Your Predictions Our readers suggest a wide range of scenarios that include landslides, pardons, claims of fraud, violence and the courts"

Joe Biden eventually wins a landslide in the popular vote but on election night the vote looks close enough for President Trump to claim that he won. The Electoral College is close and is manipulated by Republican governors and legislators to swing a “win” for Mr. Trump. Legal challenges ensue, and the Supreme Court gives the presidency to Mr. Trump. The Senate barely keeps a Republican majority. There is violence in the streets, and the country is further ripped apart in despair and factionalism. Democracy as we know it no longer exists.

"Landslide" is merely an element in a Trump-victory fever dream. 

I could do the same thing with The Washington Post. Here's how the front page there looks right now. Click to enlarge and clarify and maybe you'll be able to find the word "Biden" — it's there, just hard to see. "Trump" is popping up all over:

Ahem... Arizona...

I know you're leaving me, but I love you, October.


"Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons. Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family..."

"... and through talent and sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world's most accomplished actors. Sean will be remembered best as James Bond - the classic 007 - but his roles were many and varied. He was a global legend but, first and foremost, a patriotic and proud Scot - his towering presence at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 showed his love for the country of his birth. Sean was a lifelong advocate of an independent Scotland and those of us who share that belief owe him a great debt of gratitude." 

Said Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, quoted in BBC.

Goodbye to Sean Connery.


"Too bad you had to go — just as things were getting interesting."

ADDED: There have been 25 James Bond movies. I have seen 5 of them: "Dr. No" (1962), "From Russia with Love" (1963), "Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball" (1965), and "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971). 

There are 2 is one other Bond movies with Sean Connery — "You Only Live Twice" (1967) and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969). The rest don't have Sean Connery. I've never gone to the movies to see a James Bond that was not Sean Connery. I realize there've been a lot of other James Bonds, but they have no meaning at all to me. 

What a big deal "Goldfinger" was in 1964 — the same year that brought us The Beatles. I was 13, and it seemed that the culture was going to serve us up endless amazing delights. Now, I'm nearly 70, and it doesn't feel like that at all. 

Why did I see "Diamonds Are Forever" in 1971 when I'd skipped "You Only Live Twice" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"? Because we went as a joke. We went to laugh at James Bond as an absurd remnant of the past. 

He was in many other movies, but the only one I saw was "Marnie."

AND: From 1953 (when he competed in bodybuilding contests):

"He thinks he's going to win, and I know he's an evil genius. And he's smarter than all of us. And I know people hate to hear that."

Moore is incredibly nervous:

Trump gets a big Wisconsin endorsement. Brett Favre has a lot of nerve.

"Retailers including Nordstrom, Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue say they’re planning to board up windows or add extra security personnel in some locations ahead of the presidential election."

U.S. News reports.
More than 600 locations, particularly in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., have put in work orders to board up windows or add related security measures in advance of the election... Nearly two-thirds of those orders have been received since this past Tuesday. 
Did something shift? Did the prospect of a Trump win recently crystalize in the retail imagination? It's not a Biden win that gives rise to a real fear of violence, is it? Or... at least not the kind of violence that calls for boards on the windows of Nordstrom, Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The article quotes the general counsel of National Retail Federation: “If you board up early, does that increase the likelihood there is going to be violence in that area, or does that discourage it?” Apparently, the pros and cons have been weighed, though U.S. News doesn't enumerate them. I'd guess that boarding up sends an us-versus-them message — We think you people are vandals and thieves. But if you actually believe that message, you might find it unwise to refrain from sending it. 

At a Biden drive-in rally, "security involves not just a wand-and-pat-down, but a full sweep of the vehicle. For this reporter, that meant briefly being detained..."

"... and questioned by Secret Service agents after a pair of spent shotgun shell casings were discovered in the rear of the vehicle. (I’m a hunter. It’s hunting season. My car’s a little messy.) Applause lines in speeches are now honk lines. The car horn, of course, allows for limited expression. An outdoor event is also open to heckling, and a band of Trump supporters positioned themselves easily within earshot of the speakers. And they brought their own horns. At various points the heckling horns appeared to provide dramatic crescendos accompanying speeches, while at other times, they were distracting, with Biden remarking on them several times. Then, of course, there were times when the horns of jeer merged with the honks of cheer, creating an ambiguous cacophony." 

From "Election 2020 is so weird. Here’s what Biden’s drive-in rally was like" by Dave Orrick (Twin Cities Pioneer Press). Orrick attended yesterday's rally at the Minnesota State Fairground, which  was "essentially invite-only, with details sent to a relatively small list of party activists."

Of course, your car must be searched before you can get into a drive-in rally. You could have a weapon. Of course, it must be limited to party insiders: Cars themselves are potential weapons. And of course, the horn honking can make a cacophony of the speech.

 I see — in U.S. News — that the horns really bothered Biden:
A group close to the podium where he spoke blasted horns and shouted. Biden... shout[ed] to drown them out... “These guys are not very polite — but they’re like Trump.” [Advocating masks, he ad libbed], “This isn’t a political statement, like those ugly folks over there beeping the horns — it’s a patriotic duty.” 

It was an "essentially invite-only" event and he was reduced to calling people "ugly"? You're speaking to cars, you encourage some honking as an alternative to cheering, but then there's too much honking, and you have to insult people?

I listened to some of that rally on my car radio and watched some of it on TV. What was most notable to me was how much Biden garbled the words. He referred to "Amy Kobuchar" (and never corrected himself). He said a word that sounded like "pussy" (but wasn't, of course). I was saying out loud the things that it sounded like he was saying. Just for laughs. Was I making fun of the disabled, given that Biden is said to be a stutterer? No, I wasn't mocking stuttering. It was the articulation of wrong syllables and the mushing of strings of syllables into near incomprehensibility. 

Why was Biden spending time in Minnesota so few days before the election? The easiest answer is: to help Tina Smith win reelection to the U.S. Senate. It's a close race. She could lose, and it could make the difference in flipping the Senate. Or was he there because there's actually a risk that he could lose Minnesota? I see — in U.S. News — that "Joe Biden says he has learned from the mistakes that Hillary Clinton's campaign made four years ago in the Midwest." He needs at least to avoid a crushing defeat — which I would define as losing any state that Hillary won. He knows the erstwhile "blue wall" states of the Midwest can't be taken for granted. Imagine losing not just Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — like Hillary — but losing Minnesota too. And failing to get the Democratic Senator reelected. 

But I don't know. Is Biden playing from such a desperate position? He's supposed to win, not just avoid humiliating loss. 

I see in that U.S. News article that Biden will rally in Detroit today — with assistance not only from Barack Obama but also Stevie Wonder. It's another drive-in rally, so people don't really have a chance to see the stars, except on TV.

ADDED: Here are the polls from Minnesota showing Trump gaining on Biden.

October 30, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

IN THE COMMENTS: tcrosse said: 
The ancients knew that Hallowe'en occurs when the sun rises over the center smokestack of the Broome St Power Station. It's Madisonhenge.

Yeah, I love the way the smokestacks change the sun into 2 glowing eyes. 

"Tasty Hoon, a popular South Korean food blogger, was shooting a mukbang video involving barbecue chicken and melted cheese."

"Mukbang videos involve the host of the video just eating things while talking into the camera. To make his fondue, Hoon put melted cheese inside a device used to make a chocolate fountain...."


Via The Indian Express which documents the "meme" status of Hoon's video.

"Less than a week before Election Day, far-left NBC News created a decoy story to make it seem as though the increasingly credible scandal involving Joe and Hunter Biden has been debunked as a fake document."

Writes John Nolte at Breitbart. I don't usually link to Breitbart, but I found Nolte's piece after I read the NBC News piece and had my own independent reaction and went looking to see if anyone was saying what I thought, which was: What document is this? I'd never heard about it. 

Nolte writes: 
The [NBC News] headline... is… "How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge."  The sub-hed is… "A 64-page document that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump appears to be the work of a fake 'intelligence firm.'" And this story has absolutely nothing to do with the credible allegations currently swirling around Joe and Hunter Biden. But as you can see, it has been positioned, angled, and headlined as a decoy to fool NBC News consumers into believing the allegations are all fake and have now been debunked. 
What’s more, no one I know has ever even heard of this “64-page composition that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump [and] appears to be the work of a fake “intelligence firm” called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents.” I sure as hell have never heard of it. Breitbart News didn’t cover it, and way down deep in the story, NBC is forced to admit that a few obscure blog posts about the document were only shared 5,000 times across Facebook and Twitter, which is nothing. 

But NBC News writes that it "went viral on the right-wing internet"! So deceptive. And yet NBC's story will go viral. It's exactly what gets rewarded these days. And lots of people will glance at it and think the Hunter Biden story is debunked. It will completely work!

What's with the laughing?


I saw this clip a while back and didn't get around to blogging it, but I'm noticing it again this morning because it's one of several things embedded at "Forget the polls, these Rust Belters offer real election insight" (a column by Miranda Devine at the NY Post).

"People standing out here in your automobiles, you are the ones that built this country."

Said Joe Biden — from the "Drive-in Rally Speech Transcript Broward County, FL October 29."

I'm pulling that quote out of the transcript because I'm absolutely certain that if Trump had said it, he'd have been cruelly mocked. 

Trump thinks people STAND in automobiles! There'd be videos of people in MAGA hats trying to stand up inside cars, all twisted around stupidly. 

Trump thinks the Founding Fathers had automobiles! There'd be photoshopped pictures of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson driving around in Fords and Chevys.

"Americans are split on whether children should be allowed to trick-or-treat on Halloween this year and whether they will hand out candy, given the coronavirus pandemic."

"According to a YouGov poll, 30 percent of Americans say they plan to hand out treats to trick-or-treaters, while 26 percent say they usually do but won’t this year. Another 35 percent, who I can only surmise are either unable to give out treats or just extremely grumpy, said they never give out treats.... Twenty percent of American adults say that ghosts definitely exist, according to a YouGov poll conducted last week. About a quarter say they probably exist, 39 percent say they probably or definitely do not exist, and 16 percent said they don’t know."

From the extra stuff at the bottom of a FiveThirtyEight page with the headline "Americans Say They’re Fired Up To Vote — Especially Democrats." 

I clicked on that headline because I thought it sounded dubious. A poll asked Republicans and Democrats whether they were "more fired up than usual" about voting. Do you vote because you get "fired up"? I think more conservative people vote because they have a civic duty and a standard practice of voting. So they might not "say" that they are "fired up" — that is, emotionally agitated — even though they're going to vote. 

Really emotional people might react with a quick "yes" to the question whether they're "fired up" but may have some other emotion going on when election day comes around, perhaps a peevish resistance to the damned candidate put up by that party they feel they're supposed to vote for. 

"And just so you know, because all Biden does is talks about COVID. Right? He doesn’t call it the China virus. You know why?"

"Because China has him paid off. He can’t use that term. They gave his son one and a half billion to manage. He makes millions of dollars a year, I assume. Right?... He walked in, he walked out with one and a half billion. Hey, maybe he’s not so stupid after all. Right? That’s the only thing. I thought he was so dumb. Maybe he’s not as dumb as we think.... The biggest story, no, the second biggest story, the worst was when they spied on my campaign and they got caught. That’s the biggest political corruption story in the history of our country, but this could very well be second. And we have what’s called the laptop from hell, the laptop from hell. From what I’ve understood, you only have seen a tiny portion of it, but you know what the press is now doing? They’re blaming Russia. It’s Russia did it. Russia is the one that created the laptop. And Russia brought it into that little shop to have it fixed. Russia. I think Russia’s looking at us, they’re saying, 'Those people are stone cold crazy. This is…' No, it was Russia’s fault. They said it. Loud and clear. It was Russia, Russia, Russia. Aren’t we tired of this crap? I saw a Schiff the other day, two days ago, watermelon, he looks like a watermelon head. Right?"

Just a little sample of what your President said in Tampa, Florida yesterday.

Do the people understand that kind of talk? It made me think of that sentence from a New Yorker article about French poets that I saw fit to quote for you yesterday: "Rimbaud’s 'A Season In Hell' gave the idea that poetry should be, first of all, a journey into extreme experience, evidenced not by a coherent evocation of a story but by subversive images and sensual evocations that subvert logic and language itself."

Trump's Tampa speech gave the idea that politics should be, first of all, a journey into extreme experience, evidenced not by a coherent evocation of a story but by subversive images and sensual evocations that subvert logic and language itself.

Me, I get it. It's thoroughly poetic.

"I will have gold: I will be idle and brutal. Women nurse those fierce invalids, home from hot countries. I’ll be mixed up in politics. Saved. Now I am an outcast.... Forward! The march, the burden and the desert, weariness and anger. To whom shall I hire myself out? What beast should I adore? What holy image is attacked? What hearts shall I break? What lies should I uphold? In what blood tread?" — Arthur Rimbaud, "A Season in Hell." 

"The Trump faithful also accused us of trying to get rich on our Never Trump status. Yes, the founders of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project are now taking in lots of donations..."

"... but that was after burning personal and financial bridges to the Republican Party that sustained them and built their handsome homes over the years. (For the record, I have received zero compensation for my association with the Lincoln Project, but I hope the owners of the organization get plenty rich. They’ve earned it.) For most of us, media appearances came only with a ride to the studio and free coffee. (At 30 Rock in New York, at least it was Starbucks.)... If we’d been in it for our own enrichment, we’d have made the smart play and signed on with Trump, because that’s where the money was right from the start.... Now that it looks like Trump is headed for defeat, some Republicans feel safe to criticize him again. But courage exercised only when the coast is clear is not courage; it is opportunism...." 

How is it that NYC is supposed to be the greatest city in the world, but people there say "at least it was Starbucks"? In Madison, you'd never say that. It would be more like "The other cafés were closed so I was stuck going to Starbucks. Sorry. Had to do it...."

As for the Never Trumpers... did they do it for their own self-interest? 

"I would rather be in our position than theirs... We’ve got to stop the bleeding.... Look, our people hate Trump and they like Biden. But not enough of them love Biden."

Said Joshua Geise, Florida director for America Votes ("an independent organization coordinating with 50 groups on the ground to turn out voters for Biden"), quoted in "'We’ve got to stop the bleeding': Democrats sound alarm in Miami Party officials in Florida’s most populous county are sweating weak early voting turnout among several key groups" (Politico). 

And this is embarrassing:
State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat, said she wasn’t too worried about Hispanic voters in the county because, she said, they’re notoriously late to cast ballots. “We are Hispanics, we leave everything for ¡mañana!,” she said....
Then there's this, from Rep. Fredirica Wilson, "a party institution who represents Miami’s heavily Black congressional district": 
“I’ve been going to the different polling places... and you know, I never dreamed that Black people would be reticent at this point in Mr. Trump's administration about voting.”

"We had a good business, and it was a lot of fun working and being down there and meeting all the students and faculty and staff. We had regular customers that I saw five times a week and it's sad that it was all sort of taken away."

From "Sunroom Café closes for good; 'It's sad that it was all sort of taken away,' owner said" (Wisconsin State Journal). 
[Mark] Paradise said being on the second floor made doing business during the pandemic difficult, since he couldn't offer outdoor dining. Before the pandemic, Sunroom — which served breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch — could seat about 65 people inside. Complying with COVID restrictions would be impossible because the tables were squeezed too close together to make distancing realistic, he said....

When he closed because of the virus in mid-March, he remembers telling one of his managers they'd be closed for a month or two. Once restaurants were allowed to reopen at reduced capacities, he said he couldn't figure out a way to do it safely with the restaurant being able to "pay for itself." He continued to pay some of his 25 part- and full-time employees with the idea that they'd return when Sunroom reopened....

"Then, it started getting longer and longer, and you just think, 'OK, well, what are we going to do?' And I didn't really see a light at the end of the tunnel," Paradise said. He could have stuck it out and tried to think of a way to open for UW-Madison's second semester, but he didn't know if the virus would be under control. "There were just too many question marks," he said. Paradise said his landlord was helpful in negotiating out of the lease, but he regrets not being able to continue until he could sell to someone younger "with new ideas and a little bit more energy than I have right now." 

Sunroom (originally "Sunprint") has been a mainstay of State Street here in Madison since the 1970s. It's very sad to lose it. 

October 29, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write all night.

Glenn Greenwald's article on Joe and Hunter Biden that The Intercept censored...

... is self-published by Greenwald at Substack. Excerpt: 
All of these new materials, the authenticity of which has never been disputed by Hunter Biden or the Biden campaign, raise important questions about whether the former Vice President and current front-running presidential candidate was aware of efforts by his son to peddle influence with the Vice President for profit, and also whether the Vice President ever took actions in his official capacity with the intention, at least in part, of benefitting his son's business associates. 

"The investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald has resigned abruptly from the Intercept, the news website he co-founded, and accused the organization of seeking to censor him over a planned article critical of the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden."

"Greenwald, who was a vital part of the Guardian US team that broke the Edward Snowden whistleblower story in 2013, released a statement online that blasted the editors of the Intercept as being in hock to Biden and the Democratic party. 'The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression,' he wrote in a lengthy resignation post.... In a sharply worded statement, the Intercept’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, said that the charge that the Intercept was censoring its staff was 'preposterous' and that Greenwald’s main problem had been a desire to have his work published unedited. 'The narrative he presents about his departure is teeming with distortions and inaccuracies – all of them designed to make him look like a victim, not a grown person throwing a tantrum,' she added."

From Greenwald's statement:

"Incoherent stories of extreme experience."

It's a podcast....

Topics: "Woke movies, the dreary 33.1% GDP spurt, Kanye’s way, kind of like Verlaine and Rimbaud, enough is enough in France, Democrats and Republicans sleeping together, Trump’s womanliness."

And if you listen to podcasts on iTunes, please subscribe to The Althouse Podcast here.

"The great shame is not that Mr. Trump brought an anachronistic masculinity into the Oval Office, but that he used the Oval Office to market a very modern brand of compensatory manhood — with a twist."

"The hallmarks of contemporary ornamental masculinity — being valued as the object of the gaze, playing the perpetual child, pedestal-perching and mirror-gazing — are the very ones that women have, for half a century, struggled to dismantle as belittling, misogynist characterizations of femininity. The preoccupation with popularity, glamour, celebrity, appearance — what are these qualities but the old consumer face of the Girl? If Mr. Trump is reclaiming a traditional stereotypical sex role, it’s one that long belonged to women. Why have so many of the modern-day grunts who mourn the loss of 'old-fashioned' manhood hitched their wagon to a silk-suited flyboy? Since at least the 1990s, and at full tilt in the era of social media, men have been faced with a quandary: how to define their sex in a culture where visibility, performance and marketability are the currency. You could say that Mr. Trump has, if nothing else, found a way. But he’s done so not by defending the Greatest Generation man, but by abandoning him."

"Flyboy" is explained elsewhere in the column. It's a WWII epithet for aviators who posed in silk scarves, Faludi explains, and were disparaged as not showing true manliness.

By the way is Trump "silk-suited"? I presume his suits are wool, not silk. I looked it up and found a lot of articles about how cheap Trump's suits look! Here's an example of such an article from right before he won the 2016 election. We were told it matters because "you can tell a lot about someone by the way they dress," and Trump's baggy clothes show that "he isn't detail-oriented." The article ends: "Next Tuesday, vote with your sartorial conscience."

"Now there’s evidence that the heightened partisanship has — paradoxically — led politically mixed couples to understand each other better than before...."

"Although a sizable share of Americans don’t follow current events closely and don’t vote, the Trump presidency has been so polarizing and omnipresent that many voters say it has been all but impossible to avoid politics, even for couples who ordinarily do....  Politically mismatched couples may be the best example that Democrats and Republicans aren’t necessarily too polarized to relate. Battleground neighborhoods, where the number of Democrats and Republicans are roughly equal, have the highest rate of households with politically mixed marriages, the political science paper found. That suggests that in these places, the political climate may be more civil than people realize, Professor Hersh said. 'When we construct an image of the other party at a distance, abstractly, we tend to construct someone who’s different on every dimension,' he said. 'In spite of all the heightened rhetoric about Democrats and Republicans hating each other, they really do have exposure to these people in their lives, in their homes, and in their beds.'"

So... are we polarized or not? The press has worked hard to present us as polarized, and this article goes back and forth on whether individuals, in their closest relationships, and doing political polarization. I'm especially interested in seeing where we are not polarized. That's why I read this article. I didn't quite get the encouragement I wanted. I knew the comments would be depressing. Top-rated comment:
To have a Republican partner would literally be "sleeping with the enemy." How could you trust someone who supported Donald Trump with a key to your house much less a place in your heart? The reason I say that is that the number one reason people vote for Trump is to "make liberals cry." Having a spouse whose goal in life is to hurt other people is inconceivable.

"Less than two weeks after the beheading of a French schoolteacher, an assailant carrying a knife entered the towering neo-Gothic basilica in the southern city of Nice early Thursday..."

"... and killed three people, further inflaming tensions in a country already on edge and leading the authorities to increase the terrorism threat level. Officials in Nice described the attack as Islamist terrorism, and it was quickly followed by two similar events — including a knife-wielding assailant outside a French Consulate in Saudi Arabia — though it was not immediately clear whether the events were coordinated. The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, told reporters on Thursday that a suspect, who has not been identified, was arrested after being shot and wounded by the police. The suspect 'kept repeating Allahu akbar in front of us even though he was sedated,' Mr. Estrosi said, adding this left 'no doubt' about the motivation behind the attack. 'There is a woman who quite clearly was attacked with the same modus operandi as Samuel Paty,' the Nice mayor, Mr. Estrosi, told BFM TV, referring to the teacher who was killed, suggesting that the victim was also decapitated....  President Emmanuel Macron visited the site of the attack on Thursday. He has vowed to crack down on 'Islamist separatism' in France.... 'Enough is enough,' said Mr. Estrosi, the Nice mayor. 'It is now time for France to exempt itself of peacetime laws to permanently annihilate Islamo-facism from our territory.'"

"... this is presumably a caricature of the artist as the devil."

Noticed, this morning, in the lower right corner of a painting, as I was looking into the authorship of the Book of Revelation. The image appears over the artists signature. Nice feet, tail, wings, armor, and whatever that is on the head.

"By the testimony of Dylan’s mentor Dave Van Ronk, it was a paperback copy of modern French verse, heavy with underlining..."

"... which a fresh-from-Minnesota Dylan took down from Van Ronk’s bookshelf, on Macdougal Street, in 1960—that provided the impetus for that poet’s own stream of imagery. Rimbaud’s 'A Season In Hell' gave the idea that poetry should be, first of all, a journey into extreme experience, evidenced not by a coherent evocation of a story but by subversive images and sensual evocations that subvert logic and language itself. (Dylan’s great songs from 'Blonde on Blonde'—'Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' and 'Visions of Johanna'—are straight applications of Rimbaud’s symbolist methods to popular music.)... Rimbaud is the exemplar of the mad youth, the poete maudit, that runs right to Kurt Cobain, and also the model of the mysterious disappearance, which touches legends as different as those of Ambrose Bierce and Jack Black. (Not the actor Jack Black, but the California vagabond whose memoir has the best title in American literature, 'You Can’t Win,' and who disappeared, in New York, in the nineteen-thirties.)"

If you're trying to remember the Bob Dylan song with Verlaine and Rimbaud, it's: "Situations have ended sad/Relationships have all been bad/Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud/But there’s no way I can compare/All those scenes to this affair/Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go."

Are you looking for incoherent stories of extreme experience, evoked with subversive images and sensual evocations that subvert logic and language itself? Yeah, me neither. And yet, I do still read the newspaper.

"And while Trump had to mount a (successful) hostile takeover of the Republican Party, [Kanye] West’s run indicates a far less difficult path as an independent candidate for any celebrity..."

"... willing to spend the money and actually do a little bit of work. There’s no reason to think that it won’t happen in the future, and West has shown the path. Without lifting a finger to campaign or formulating a single discernible policy, he will receive tens of thousands of votes in November. If, in 2024, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson or Oprah Winfrey or even Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian, decides to mount a bid for the White House, there is a road map. With a little bit of foresight and the same investment of over $10 million that West has made in his campaign, there’s no obstacle to getting on the ballot in a majority of the states. And if the candidate decides to actually campaign, articulate some basic policy goals, and maybe even raise some money, then that person could become a political force to be reckoned with. After all, unlike more obscure third-party candidates, there is no need to build name ID or desperately solicit media attention....  This all may seem far-fetched, but this type of celebrity politics has already taken root across the globe and simply represents a natural extension of what has already happened in the U.S. with Trump and the lines between political allegiance and stan culture growing increasingly blurry. These trends will only accelerate and, for all his megalomaniacal pretensions, Yeezus may just be the John the Baptist of this new age in politics, a prophet who heralds the coming of a celebrity candidate who could actually blow up American politics."

"St. John the Baptist Preaching," c. 1665, by Mattia Preti.

"... fails to snap..."/"... pandemic remains..."/"... obscures troubling slowdown...."

You are warned not to enjoy the big 33.1% growth spurt:

Please keep your spirits dim.

"They’re progressive, positive young women, and they’re tragically boring, which is less the fault of their woke makeover than the film’s conviction that it’s incompatible with conflict or distinct personalities."

Writes Alison Willmore in The Craft: Legacy Is Progressive, Positive, and Tragically Dull (New York Magazine) about a sequel to a 1996 movie that I don't know about you but I saw. The idea for both movies is 4 high school girls who do witchcraft. The old movie was about the personal flaws of the 4 characters and their interpersonal problems. In the new movie....
The witches in "The Craft: Legacy".. use their blossoming powers on behalf of the community... effacing slut-shaming graffiti from a locker and humiliating a homophobe by turning his jacket rainbow-colored. As their pièce de résistance, they use a spell to transform a sexually menacing bully named Timmy... into an emotionally open young man who holds forth about heteronormativity and how much he loves Princess Nokia — not just for her music, but for her politics.... 
[In] an interview that writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones did with Vanity Fair... she explained... that [the 1996 movie was] “about women whose power was too overwhelming for them to harness and was turned on each other.”...  [The new movie] is so reluctant to subject its characters to any stress that it consigns most of its major dramatic developments into its barely coherent last half hour, which is when a foe finally emerges.... 

Spoiler alert... 

... a knitwear-clad warlock Jordan Peterson... 

Willmore wants more of this villain and blames the director for wanting to protect viewers from conflict and stress. It's funny — as if the movie is making an argument against movies. Why get yourself all upset about fictional characters? Just watch TikTok, why don't you. 

Here's some TikTok I thought was pretty funny... but it might stress you out if you're one of the millions of people who are swaddling and comforting Joe Biden, the man you are hoping will protect us from our enemies.

October 28, 2020

At the Real Matter Café...

IMG_0778 ... you can write like Jack Kerouac... or anyone else.

"Tit-for-tat tatters."


It's a podcast. 

Topics: "Trump/Biden refrigerators, love/hate for Trump, judge yelling at defense lawyer, Pennsylvania Trumpsters, tit-for-tat Court packing, protecting Black kids from in-person schooling, Biden-protecting journalism, and coronavirus Halloween."

You can listen right here, but it would be fantastic if you would subscribe on iTunes — here.

What's your plan for coronavirus Halloween?

Are you just going to turn out the lights and hide?


"Since beginning online learning, she explained, Saige has been liberated from hearing negative tropes about Black girls in the lunchroom and hallways."

"For one, the eighth grader can control her exposure to racial microaggressions. When a classmate wore a 'Make America Great Again' hat — attire that some people see as a symbol of racism — during a video class session, Saige simply changed her settings to view only the teacher. 'Although the violence is still there, she has the ability to maneuver in a way that she didn’t have when she was in school,' Ms. Aryee-Price explained... [S]ome Black families value keeping their children at home... to protect them from racial hostility and bias.... More than 40 [Black] parents [of 373 in a private Facebook group] said they appreciated virtual schooling because it allows them to, as one put it, 'hear how the teacher speaks to children.'... Cheryl Fields-Smith, an associate education professor at the University of Georgia, studies why Black families choose to home-school. 'I’ve never had a parent tell me it was one particular factor,' she said. 'It’s a multitude of factors, and a lot of them revolve around what I would just plainly say is racism.... If Black children so much as wiggle, it’s "Keep still!" White kids are wiggling, and they don’t say a word. It’s nothing but misgivings, misinterpretations, mis-whatever about Black people moving,' she said. 'They feel like they’re being picked on.'...  Dr. Aryee-Price, a former public-school teacher... said while she truly believes in education, she sees schools as 'sites for anti-Blackness.'" 

And yet teachers — as a group — seem to take special pride in their anti-racism. But it's hard to be a teacher. They have to interact with so many students at once. How can you serve them all well? Maybe students with a strong need for physical activity should be be in a different group and using different methods from the ones who easily sit still and adhere to book-learning. I sympathize with these parents who see their own children stigmatized — or believe that's what they are seeing. 

I'll bet a lot of parents of male children would make some similar observations. It's deeply disturbing to see your own child treated as a problem, when your own child is simply an individual with needs that don't align well with the needs of the group. And it's so much more disturbing if you think it's not just that your child is an individual who isn't appreciated for her individual characteristics but that your child is seen as a member of a group and the group is regarded — intentionally or not — as inferior. 

The urge to take your child out of school altogether is strong. It's the parent's primal urge to protect one's own children. What's new, with coronavirus, is the real experience that has been imposed on all parents — a different mode of learning, with the child required to be out of the classroom. It's harder to go back to a less-than-perfect situation than it is to keep going. Stopping school created an occasion for reflection and judgment, and re-opening school creates a new occasion for decision-making. The child's resistance to school is a familiar occurrence in normal times. But abnormal times have arisen, and all the resistance is coming at once.

"Once cooperation breaks down, the only play to restore it is tit-for-tat. It’s the only way both sides can learn that neither side wins unless they cooperate."

"President Trump and the Republicans are unapologetic about discarding longstanding cooperative rules for making judicial appointments. Should they lose the election after succeeding in putting Judge Barrett on the court, it becomes incumbent upon Democrats to respond in kind. Paradoxical as it sounds, tit-for-tat, hard ball for hard ball, would set the stage for, for constructing a judiciary we can once again respect. Adding two to four new justices is one way to do this, but there are others that are less disruptive and just as effective."

Writes Larry Kramer, former dean of Stanford Law School, in one of a collection of essays — "How to Fix the Supreme Court" — in the NYT. The word "fix" presumes the system is broken. Kramer expects us to assume that enlarging the Court to create new seats is equivalent to filling an empty seat whenever you can. It's "tit-for-tat." It's also simply asserted that the fate of the third branch of government is a game to be played by the partisan actors in the 2 political branches of government, and that the game must be played over time so that the "sides" "learn." 

Yes, there are studies that show that "tit-for-tat" is the best strategy for games played over time, but that has to do with 2 parties in an ongoing relationship, without regard to the damage done beyond the participants in the game. Here, the damage will be done to the third branch of government! But barge ahead, Kramer tells us, because the Democrats and Republicans need to learn that they can't win unless they stop their political aggression. Let the Supreme Court go to hell as these idiots play their game. 

Kramer does offer an alternative to simply adding seats to the Supreme Court. It's complicated, and I think there's no chance that people will like it. With each new Congress — that is, every 2 years — a new Justice is appointed, but the 9 longest-serving Justices continue to be the active Supreme Court. The new Justices just help out, substituting when there are temporary absences and working at the circuit or district level. Whenever one of the 9 dies or resigns, one of these standby Justices moves up to the active Supreme Court seat. This would drain a lot of the importance out of Supreme Court appointments. Kramer calls this "an easy fix."

A quiz showing the inside view of various different refrigerators and asking whether it belongs to a Trump voter or a Biden voter.

This is one of the most interesting and creative features I've ever seen in the NYT, and it was a delightful break from the onslaught of material about the candidatea and the polls. How they set up the question:
[W]e included images from people who said they planned to vote for president, planned to vote for either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden, took the picture themselves, and gave permission to publish it. We omitted images from people who said that not all of the voters in the household supported the same candidate, as well as images that were very dark, blurry or appeared elsewhere on the internet. Here, we have shown a balance of images from Biden and Trump supporters.

I kept going for 64 guesses, felt like I was pretty good at it, but only got 55% right. Who do people with big jars of mayonnaise vote for? Who has liquor and not much else? Who has a lot of stuff wrapped up or in containers and jammed in all over the place? Who buys Chobani? Who has a lone Coke can? Who has 4 dozen eggs? 

Actually, I was quite interested just to gawk at a lot of real refrigerators. They tend to look pretty unappetizing, and these were the refrigerators people were willing to photograph and agree to share. It was also a great test of your own prejudice. If you go on long enough, you'll see your conception of Biden voters and Trump voters clarify... and maybe you'll be a bit ashamed of yourself for such thoughts.

You get feedback and see each time you are wrong, sometimes asking you to tap on an item that seemed to indicate the wrong choice you made. The lone Coke can tripped up a lot of us! You can see the most correctly guessed refrigerator. This is the #1 correctly guessed refrigerator:

October 27, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"Polls show Mr. Biden leading by five to 13 points, but I grew up around here and am dubious. This place — the land of hoagies and Bradley Cooper and Rocky Balboa worship..."

"... and Tina Fey’s 'Cousin Karen' accent — has transmogrified into Trumplandia. 'He has so much more support than in 2016, because it’s been four years of accomplishments,' said Darinna Thompson, 49, a homemaker who was talking with a group of women outside the Trump Store. They were part of a caravan that had just encircled the Democrats’ rally 'to say bye-bye to Biden' and let his supporters know they were outnumbered.... Pollsters say that suburban women are President Trump’s kryptonite, that they’ve turned on him.... 'I feel like that’s wrong — we’re the majority,' said Jennifer Girard, 41, a single mother working in consumer goods.... My mom says many of her girlfriends will go for Mr. Trump, and she hasn’t been able to match with any man on Bumble who isn’t a Trump voter.... The front yards of the houses flanking my mom’s, the one across the street and three more on the block feature Trump signs. There is one Biden sign on the street. One of my mom’s acquaintances recently held a Trump-themed birthday party for her child. Icing on each cookie read, 'Make ninth birthdays great again.'... Lochel’s bakery in Hatboro has become an overnight Oracle of (Phila) Delphi, selling red 'Trump 2020” and blue 'Biden 2020' sugar cookies. Whichever cookie sells the most will predict how this area, and thus the state, and therefore the election, will turn. Supposedly.... So far, the count stands at 3,367 blue cookies, 18,241 red. 'I do think that Trump supporters are more competitive,' said Dan Rutledge, standing in line outside of the bakery in the spitting rain on Sunday."

ADDED: At FiveThirtyEight: "Is Joe Biden Toast If He Loses Pennsylvania?" Answer to the question: "No, not quite. It is close to being a must-win for Trump, who has only a 2 percent chance of winning the Electoral College if he loses Pennsylvania. Biden, however, has a bit more margin for error. He’d have a 30 percent chance if he lost Pennsylvania.... The reason losing Pennsylvania wouldn’t necessarily doom Biden is because he could still hold those other Midwestern/Rust Belt states. Pennsylvania is fairly similar to Michigan and Wisconsin, but not that similar."

"In a stunning moment, Judge Garaufis interrupted [the defense lawyer] in the middle of his speech, yelling, 'No!'"

"During a back-and-forth in which the two men shouted through face masks, Judge Garaufis spoke forcefully about how intent did not matter when a 45-year-old man sexually abuses a child. 'It’s an insult to the intelligence of anyone who listens,' the judge said."

Look at how the Lincoln Project is trying to make us hate Trump!

This is a fascinating symptom of Trump derangement syndrome — an inability to see how the things that you hate are what make the people who love him love him. And I'm not talking about racism. 

"Skittering in the fading purple light."

A podcast about the posts of this morning.

Topics: Trump and Obama in Lititz, Amy Coney Barrett on Senators and their policy preference, and Obama writes another book.

"But, of all the pleasures that first year in the White House would deliver, none quite compared to the mid-April arrival of Bo, a huggable, four-legged black bundle of fur..."

"... with a snowy-white chest and front paws. Malia and Sasha, who’d been lobbying for a puppy since before the campaign, squealed with delight upon seeing him for the first time, letting him lick their ears and faces as the three of them rolled around on the floor. With Bo, I got what someone once described as the only reliable friend a politician can have in Washington. He also gave me an added excuse to put off my evening paperwork and join my family on meandering after-dinner walks around the South Lawn. It was during those moments—with the light fading into streaks of purple and gold, Michelle smiling and squeezing my hand as Bo bounded in and out of the bushes with the girls giving chase—that I felt normal and whole and as lucky as any man has a right to expect."

The return of the prose style of Barack Obama, from an excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, published in The New Yorker under the title, "A President Looks Back on His Toughest Fight The story behind the Obama Administration’s most enduring—and most contested—legacy: reforming American health care."

I am emphatically not a fan of Obamaprose: "with the light fading into streaks of purple and gold, Michelle smiling and squeezing my hand as Bo bounded in and out of the bushes with the girls giving chase." Please don't do that. The light is aways in "streaks." Fading into streaks. No, it wasn't. The girls couldn't just chase the dog. They had to "give chase."

Now, I'm positive that this style of writing will thrill a certain sort of reader, and the people who eat up prose like that probably buy a lot of books.

Hey, remember when I argued with Michelle Goldberg and took the position that Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" wasn't really that bad compared to "Dreams From My Father"? (Remember Sarah Palin?!)

And by the way, Obama wasn't really a dog person. The dog was a prop. The dog is still a prop... in the purple, fading, streaky sunlight. 

"The confirmation process has made ever clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate. And perhaps the most acute is..."

"... the role of policy preferences. It is the job of a Senator to pursue her policy preferences. In fact, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to put policy goals aside. By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give into them. Federal judges don’t stand for election, thus they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people. This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government. A judge declares independence, not only from Congress and the President, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her. The Judicial Oath captures the essence of the judicial duty. The rule of law must always control."

Said Amy Coney Barrett in her short speech after she was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas at the White House ceremony last night. Transcript.

I read that as more than an acceptance of the confirmation process that has developed in which Senators openly vote their policy preferences rather than truly or fakely premising their vote on the nominee's character and credentials. She's saying that Senators have a duty to take "policy goals" into account. Did she mean to say that the confirmation vote ought to embody the Senators' policy preferences? Or did she only mean that when Senators do their legislative work, they must consider policy — which is what corresponds to the judicial role and contrasts with it (as judges must refrain from considering policy)? It's ambiguous! I hope to get clearly written opinions from our new Justice, so I don't like running into ambiguity in the first thing she says as a Justice. 

Obama twirling and skittering in Lititz... Trump in Lititz...

On April 2, 2008, I blogged about Maureen Dowd's assertion that "Hillary has clearly raised Obama’s consciousness about the importance of courting the ladies." She fleshed out the theory like this: 
Touring a manufacturing plant in Allentown, Pa., Tuesday, he was flirtatious, winking and grinning at the women working there, calling one “Sweetie,” telling another she was “beautiful,” and imitating his daughters’ dance moves by twirling around 
Later, at a Scranton town hall, he went up to Denise Mercuri, a pharmacist from Dunmore wearing a Hillary button. “What do I need to do? Do you want me on my knees?” he charmed, before promising: “I’ll give you a kiss.”... 
At the Wilbur chocolate shop in Lititz Monday, he spent most of his time skittering away from chocolate goodies, as though he were a starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline. 
“Oh, now,” the woman managing the shop told him with a frown, “you don’t worry about calories in a chocolate factory.”

At the time, I said: "Wait, is [Hillary] toughening him up or feminizing him? And is the feminine stuff nauseatingly stereotyped?" Look at all the stereotypically feminine things pasted on Obama: He was "flirtatious." He was "twirling." His dance was an imitation of his daughters' dancing. He "charmed." He "skittered." He acted like " starlet obsessing on a svelte waistline." He was chided by another woman for worrying about calories. 

There's less shaming of Trump for seeming feminine, but it happens. He was mocked just 2 days ago for dancing like a woman.

But the reason I'm going back to that post is that it's about Lititz and Trump gave a rally in Lititz. My paternal grandparents are from Lititz. They are buried in the Lititz Moravian Cemetery. 

Lititz was founded by members of the Moravian Church in 1756 and was named after a castle in Bohemia near the village of Kunvald where the ancient Bohemian Brethren's Church had been founded in 1457.... For a century, only Moravians were permitted to live in Lititz....
Here's Trump in Lititz: 

I'm so pleased to see him in the home of my ancestors. From the transcript:

October 26, 2020

At the Monday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you like.

Amy Coney Barrett confirmed.

Just seen on TV. 

"The best taste on the planet."


It's a podcast... of the odd last few posts on a blog called Althouse.

Topics: Kanye and Black History Month, abortion, and the best taste in the world, Chinese millennials don’t want democracy, the abstruse sexual inaction of politics, Cher sings for Joe like Sinatra sang for JFK, Kazakhstan adopts the Borat catchphrase, and the idea that voting for Biden will push back the left.

This time around, Kazakhstan rolls with the "Borat" satire and makes tourism ads with the catchphrase "Very nice!"


[Dennis Keen, and American who lives in Kazakhstan] hosts a travel show on a state television channel. (“I’m kind of like the American Borat,” Mr. Keen said.) When Mr. Keen learned about the sequel, he thought... Kazakhstan should embrace the Borat character’s catchphrase and turn it into the country’s tourism slogan: “Kazakhstan. Very nice!”...  Two weeks ago, Mr. Keen and a friend, Yermek Utemissov, who helps foreign film companies arrange shoots in Kazakhstan, pitched the board of tourism....
The government of Kazakhstan banned the first film and threated to sue Sacha Baron Cohen, but now, Utemissov says, “It’s a newer generation. They’ve got Twitter, they’ve got Instagram, they’ve got Reddit, they know English, they know memes. They get it. They’re inside the media world. We’re looking at the same comedians, the same Kimmel show. Kazakhstan is globalized.” 

"But fears of a Biden presidency leading to a woke takeover misunderstand the way public opinion moves in America."

"Because Trump’s ample failings have given the most misguided claims of the far left a superficial veneer of plausibility, Trump himself has been the far left’s biggest ally. And if the Biden administration does overreach on key cultural issues, that will likely set the stage for a course correction—a cascade back to moderation. If you want to combat illiberalism, casting a vote for Donald Trump is the worst possible thing you can do.'

"Right now our country's gloomy/Fear is in the air/But when Joe's president/Hope is everywhere/Troubles fly away/And life will easy flow/Joe will keep us safe/That's all we need to know...."


Cher weighs in — that's all you need to know — at the 2020 I Will Vote Concert last night. 

As New York Magazine explains, "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" is an old song — Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg song from the 1943 film musical "Cabin in the Sky." Here's its original context — question whether there's a problem of racial appropriation — with the devastatingly sweet Ethel Waters:


Original lyrics: "It seems like/Happiness is just a thing called Joe/He's got a smile that makes the lilacs want to grow/He's got a way that makes the angels heave a sigh/When they see little Joe passing by..."

ADDED: The all-time greatest political rewrite of a song was Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes" for JFK:


Here's the original version, from Sinatra's own movie, "A Hole in the Head":

"We are witnessing a new sexualization of politics, something quite other from 'repressive desublimation,' the term made famous by Herbert Marcuse in the 1960s..."

"... to describe the way an advanced industrial culture uses a mix of technology and partially satiated consumer desires to neutralize any potential working-class revolt. We might call it promiscuity in its psychotic mode. Brazenly, it displays itself without apology to a world excited and repelled in equal measure by unconscious forces—lust, greed, hatred, and rage—that no one readily admits to and that are being harnessed on behalf of everyone. No point, therefore, asking how bad it can get, how far they are willing to go, or how on earth they can get away with it all. Going too far is the point. The transgression is the draw and the appeal—transgression always carries a sexual tremor even when it is not manifestly about sex.... It is a truism of psychoanalysis that the law always nurtures the possibility, indeed the likelihood, of its own demise, because the super-ego, the agent of the law inside the head, is too tyrannical to be obeyed with any consistency...."

From "The Pleasures of Authoritarianism" by Jacqueline Rose (The NY Review of Books).

Millennials in China look askance at American democracy.

Or so we're told, in "Who needs democracy? China’s 400 million millennials prefer iPhones" (in the London Times): 
“These millennials represent a radical change from previous generations,” said Keyu Jin, a professor at the London School of Economics and consultant to Richemont, the world’s second-biggest luxury goods company. “They are confident. They’re prosperous. They’re privileged. And, most importantly, they’re incredibly proud of their nation and its economic prospects.” 
Despite the caveats about measuring public opinion, Jin said: “There has been a radical shift, even in the last few years. The new generation does not believe that democracy is suitable for China. It does not even believe that a multiparty system might be better for China than what it currently has.” 

"Anything I go into — producing, rap, homes, clothing, anything — once I'm given the right information, I apply my taste. And I have the best taste on the planet."

"It was something that God put in my heart back in 2015. A few days before the MTV awards it hit me in the shower. When I first thought of it, I just started laughing to myself and all this joy came over my body, through my soul. I felt that energy and spirit. Two days later, I accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Awards. Instead of performing my array of hit songs, I gave just my perspective on awards shows.... It even took heart to say it in that context and people were just like: Oh! Their minds were blown.... I had different friends -- some people in the music industry, some tech elites -- and they took it as a joke.... I'm completely confident that I will figure out how to get America out of debt, that I have the ability, once I see everything. I never make the wrong decision when I'm given all the information. That's my skill set. Anything I go into — producing, rap, homes, clothing, anything — once I'm given the right information, I apply my taste. And I have the best taste on the planet. Could you imagine Quincy Jones as a president? Walt Disney? Steve Jobs? For America to be as warming and inviting as Disney World. There used to be this dream. People still have this dream of coming to America.... I know that me as president would be the best thing that would ever happen for America's foreign policy. I've traveled more than any president already, and I bring people together. I put rivals on songs together to create masterpieces.... I'm definitely 100% winning in 2024...." 

From "10 Takeaways From Kanye West's Conversation With Joe Rogan" (Billboard). I tweaked a little of that text to make it more accurate. Here's the video clip (justifying my edit to make it "people were just like: Oh! Their minds were blowninstead of the blander "people's minds were blown")

I'm very interested in this concept that it all comes down to taste — that there are some taste geniuses in the world and you could put them in charge of maybe anything and — with experts to give them "all the information" — they can make the right things happen. They can figure it all out in a way that specialists in that field cannot. 

What if, choosing a President, we, the humble voters, thought Who has the best taste?! Have you ever, even passingly, looked at the array of candidates, at any point in the process, and considered the question in terms of taste? Not your taste. Not: It's reflective of good taste to vote for Barack Obama. Not: It's in bad taste to vote for Donald Trump (yeesh! I'd look awful voting for Trump). But: I don't have all the information and the information is always changing, so I want the person who — given all the information — will make the best choice, and that must be the person with the best taste.

West's idea is something like Trump's. He's taken his initial success and gone on to other fields of enterprise, using his name recognition as a brand, and running on immense confidence in his raw intuition. There's no humility, no fear of failure. 

"We're given Black History Month and we take that like it's some gift to us.... What if we had, Remember When I Cheated on You Month? How does that make you feel?"

Kanye West on Black History Month, quoted in "10 Takeaways From Kanye West's Conversation With Joe Rogan" (Billboard):
Most Black people, we don't know where we came from. We think we came from slaves. We don't know our bloodline. We're given Black History Month and we take that like it's some gift to us. No, it's programming to us. Racism doesn't end until we get to a point where we stop having to put the word 'Black' in front of it, because it's like we're putting the rim a little bit lower for ourselves ... We shouldn't have to have a special box, a special month. What they show during Black History Month is us getting hosed down, reminding us that we were slaves. What if we had, Remember When I Cheated on You Month? How does that make you feel? It makes you feel depleted and defeated.


There were 210,000 deaths due to COVID in America. Everywhere you go, you see someone with a mask on. With A, the A word, A culture -- I'll say it one time, with abortion culture -- there are 1,000 Black children aborted a day. Daily. We are in genocide. More Black children since February than people have died of COVID. And everyone wears a mask. So it's a matter of where are we turning a blind eye to?

October 25, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

"Alone in the closet."


It's a podcast... 

Topics: "The Supreme Court doesn’t need reforming, we’re all running out of steam, Kanye’s Coliseum for God, Mr. Bojangles, shaming men for acting like women, remaking 'Rebecca,; family love among the Bidens and Trumps, Obama knows you’re exhausted."

"We’ve got a president who actually suggested selling Puerto Rico. Believe it or not, it could have been worse. He once asked our national security officials if he could nuke hurricanes."

"I mean, at least he didn’t do that. A nuclear hurricane seems like it would have been bad. I mean, it would be funny if it wasn’t. Look. Some of the rhetoric you’re hearing down here in South Florida, it’s just made up. It’s just nonsense. Listening to the Republicans, you’d think Joe was more Communist than the Castros. Don’t fall for that garbage, don’t fall for that okey-doke. Joe Biden is not a socialist. He was a senator from Delaware. He was my vice president. I think folks would know if he’s a secret socialist by now.... [The President] likes to act tough and talk tough. He thinks scowling and being mean is tough, and being rude is tough. But when 60 Minutes and Lesley Stahl are too tough for you, you ain’t all that tough. You got to walk out of a 60 Minutes interview, then you’re never going to stand up to a dictator. If you’re spending all your time complaining about how mean reporters are to you, you’re not going to stand up to Putin.... With Joe and Kamala at the helm, you won’t have to think about them every single day. There might be a whole day where they don’t be on TV. There might be a whole day where they don’t tweet some craziness. You won’t have to argue about them every day. It won’t be so exhausting. Just having a normal president.... We’re not going to have a president that goes out of his way to insult anybody who he doesn’t think is nice enough to him. We won’t have a president who threatens people with jail for just criticizing him. That’s not normal behavior, Florida. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a co-worker. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a high-school principal. You won’t tolerate it from a coach. You wouldn’t tolerate it from a family member. Florida Man wouldn’t even do this stuff."

Said Barack Obama at his Florida rally speech yesterday. Transcript.

A WaPo perspective on family love.

A screen shot from the home page of The Washington Post right now:

Not going to click. Not going to make links for you. I am fed up with the stupidity... the mere thought that we should want to read such dreck. It's an insult.

"In 1938, the dread in taking over a big house like Manderley came from the idea that one could end up an inept matriarch, a woman who could not fulfill her obligations."

"Today, the story could have been fertile terrain on which to explore issues of control, abuse, and the sheer terror of becoming a wife at all. Hitchcock’s version was shaped in other ways by the mores of the time. Because of Hays Code restrictions, the homoeroticism of Mrs. Danvers’s longing for Rebecca could be addressed only through innuendo.... A new film could have explored the violence and sensuality of du Maurier’s tale any way it pleased. And yet Ben Wheatley’s superficial, slapdash new Netflix adaptation... is a film that lies somewhere between a lukewarm retread of Hitchcock’s original and a glossy Instagram feed.... Ultimately, 'Rebecca' suffers from a malady that is plaguing much of streaming entertainment.... 'Here,' [the streaming executives] seem to say. 'Here is some maximalist fare with actors you have heard of—press Play for serotonin.'... They really do think we’ll watch anything. And perhaps, in the end, they are right. We are stuck at home.... I longed for scenes in which [the lead actress] was simply able to roam, silently, feeling creeped out and trapped in her new reality.... but it never gives us a chance to dream of Manderley again."

Writes Rachel Syme in "All the Wrong Reasons to Remake 'Rebecca'" (in The New Yorker). 

The Hitchcock film is fantastic and endlessly rewatchable. If I wanted something else, it would be a much longer miniseries that uses everything in the book. Perhaps this is the idea in the new Netflix show, and Symes might be right that this formula is dull and dead. The fact is, the book is there and will always be there, for new readers, with their new minds, to make their own new version, which is what happens when we read.

The age-old shaming of men by likening them to women... and I know the built-in out is that the negativity is only in the reader's mind.

"He grabbed his pants for a better stance — whoa, he jumped so high... He let go a laugh, let go a laugh, shook back his clothes all around...."


 Goodbye to Jerry Jeff Walker, who died in Austin, Texas last Friday at the age of 78. 

The song "Mr. Bojangles," written by Walker and recorded by him in 1968, was a pretty big hit song for Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970. Others who've recorded it include: Chet Atkins, Harry Belafonte, David Bromberg, Garth Brooks, JJ Cale, Jim Croce, Sammy Davis Jr., John Denver, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Bobbie Gentry, Arlo Guthrie, Tom T. Hall, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, Elton John, Frankie Laine, Lulu, Rod McKuen, Don McLean, MC Neat, Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Nilsson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, Esther Phillips, Nina Simone, and Cat Stevens.

That's quite a list! And I edited out a lot of names. I read the list out loud to Meade and asked if you had to pick one to listen to right now, who would you pick. Meade's choice:


My choice — I especially enjoyed what seemed to me his conviction that the song is about him:

Kanye West envisions a "Coliseum for God" with 100,000 gospel singers and imitates the sound of 100,000 people singing "glory, glory" in unison.

I've just clipped out one section of this podcast, so please listen to the end of my cut. There's some great stuff about running everything on water and how we would all be happy by now if Edison had not defeated Tesla:

It's the season of fading — click on your favorite view of fading.

A view, yesterday:

This morning, Real Clear Politics gives us our choice of which of 2 roads diverged in a woods you want to take to view the fading foliage:


Maybe we're all running out of steam and continuing to fade. After watching years of this presidential campaign, to be left with these 2 dismal candidates and — knowing they both have terrible problems — to resort to clicking on articles by partisan writers who promise to show readers that the other guy is fading. Pick one. Who do you want to lag behind as the 2 decrepit septuagenarians strain to fail a little less badly than his unworthy competitor? 

Here's the link for Victor Davis Hanson — in case you like the orange foliage... verbiage. Sample: "The final question is... to what degree Biden’s suicidal talk of ending fossil fuels and denial of the Hunter Biden evidence that cannot be denied implode his campaign...."

Here's the link for Maureen Dowd — in case you like beige foliage. Sample verbiage: "Now a lot of Americans seem resigned yet relieved to step back in time with a sentimental old-school Irish pol... Back to a time when the president did not rubbish people like an insult comic.... You can only let King Kong.... smash up the metropolis for so long."