November 7, 2020

At the 6:42:49 Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Weasels and chainsaws distracted me."



It's a podcast.

Topics: "Mutated minks in Denmark, Chainsaw Gordy, Biden’s speech, chanting at the sun, a gracious concession, the cookie crumbles, tracking down fake ballots, irrational faith in Biden’s laying on of hands."

"As a young widower, he drove them to school, blasting Elton John’s 'Crocodile Rock' from the car radio, willing normalcy’s return."

"In an effort to heal, he rushed to wrap himself around others in mourning. Like Steven Spielberg’s E.T., he seems to instinctually believe in the healing power of physical connection—even if that intimacy can sometimes feel a bit too close. As the Irish literary critic Fintan O’Toole has written of Biden’s grasp, 'There is something religious in this laying-on of hands. It is an act of communion.' After the destruction of the Trump era, the nation is desperate for a parental figure to cultivate renewal amid ruin; shattered institutions will require an almost irrational faith in healing."

"Two armed Virginia men who were arrested Thursday outside the Philadelphia Convention Center may have believed fake ballots were being counted there..."

"'According to our information at this very early stage of investigation, it appears these individuals were operating under the belief that 'fake ballots' are being counted at the Convention Center — a completely unsupported claim -- and that belief may have been what drew their attention to Philadelphia.' [Philadelphia District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Jane Roh emailed CNN]. CNN affiliate KYW had earlier reported that the men were 'coming to deliver a truck full of fake ballots' to the city, citing prosecutors....Antonio LaMotta, 61, and Joshua Macias, 42, both of Chesapeake, Virginia, were arrested Thursday night outside the center on suspicion of carrying handguns in Pennsylvania without permits, authorities said. Philadelphia police said they found the men Thursday night after receiving a tip that people with firearms were heading to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in a silver Hummer truck."

"That’s the way the cookie crumbles and that’s the way the ball bounces are... the two commonest of a score of variant [catchphrases] for That’s fate–that’s the way things go..."

According to Eric Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases":
that’s the way (or that’s how) the cookie crumbles ... It has been a frequent c.p. in the US since the 1950s and in UK since the middle 1960s... in 1975, Prof. Emeritus F.E.L. Priestley spoke of ‘the now happily obsolete “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”’ and referred to ‘the lovely take-off line in the movie The Apartment [1960] when Jack Lemmon says, “That’s the way it crumbles cookiewise” ’–when he is also deriding ‘the horrible “-wise” jargon of about ten years ago’ (F.E.L.P.).  

Continuing with the catchphrase dictionary:

In The Zoo Story, prod. in Berlin 1959, in New York 1960, and pub’d in 1960, Edward Albee employs the more usual form thus:

The NYT headline just changed to this:

"To clarify, President Trump's press conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping- no relation with the hotel."

Tweeted the Four Seasons hotel, quoted in "Watch Live: Trump election press conference held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia" (CBS News). Bizarre. Almost... deplorable.

"The vote counting in Arizona and Georgia has seemed professional and transparent. The same can’t be said of Philadelphia..."

"... where the Trump campaign had to go to court so its poll-watchers could observe vote counting. Incredibly, Democratic lawyers opposed that Trump request. This is exactly the wrong way for Democrats to behave, feeding GOP suspicions.... The Democratic Pennsylvania Supreme Court also contributed to the mistrust by rewriting state election law to let mailed ballots be counted until Nov. 6. We warned multiple times that this mess could happen, and the U.S. Supreme Court could have helped by intervening. Chief Justice John Roberts refused. But it’s also important to note that Pat Toomey, the GOP Senator from the Keystone State, says he has seen no evidence of fraud in his state’s counting. We’ve also seen no concrete evidence. The delivery of a batch of votes all for Mr. Biden at one time can be explained by the practice of some jurisdictions to divide and report the votes of each candidate at different times.... Mr. Trump hates to lose, and no doubt he will fight to the end. But if defeat comes, he will serve himself and his country best by honoring America’s democratic traditions and leaving office with dignity."

From "The Presidential Endgame" by the editors of The Wall Street Journal (no pay wall). They want a gracious concession — after the counting and litigation — but they never mention how ungracious the Democrats were when Trump won in 2016. Did they ever concede that Trump won and stand back and acknowledge that he legitimately held the power of the presidency? 

Sun! Sun! Sun!

Young people assembled to watch the sun rise suddenly notice the sun has come into view. A woman shouts "Oh, my God!" and the group begins to chant...

A few seconds after that, they were playing The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."

The sun was first visible to me at 6:42:33:


I started the video at 6:43:00, a couple seconds after the "Oh, my God!" While I was out there, I believed that they'd gotten distracted talking to each other and missed the first break of the sun, but putting this post together, I'm thinking that I had a higher vantage point, so my line of sight made the sun visible slightly earlier. 

I enjoyed the congregation of young people openly expressing delight at the sun... and The Beatles.

Weasels and chainsaws distracted me from getting to the obvious first thing I feel I'm supposed to blog this morning. That's how dull it is.


Biden tottered out onto the national stage last night and said some words. I was asleep, so good for him. The old man stayed up late. Or got up early, maybe. Ha ha. What was it, 11 p.m.? 

I'll just read the transcript. Excerpts:
Good evening, my fellow Americans. We don’t have a final declaration of victory yet but the numbers tell us it’s clear. They tell us a clear and convincing story we’re going to win this race....

So he came out, not to prematurely declare victory, but to tell us he sees it in the future. He uses the legal phrase "clear and convincing" — which is a standard of proof more than "preponderance of the evidence" and less than "beyond a reasonable doubt." He's assessing evidence and essentially asserting that if he had to decide whether he'd won based on the evidence before us right now, he'd say he did, and that he's telling us this opinion because the standard "clear and convincing" is good enough for the purpose of when it's a good idea to come out on the national stage and assert your opinion. 

The evidence is still dribbling in, however, so he also could have waited. There must be some political advantage to claiming the stage and expecting us to listen to his prediction. I'm just guessing the reasoning had something to do with its being Friday. We need something semi-tangible to end Election Week.  

And what’s becoming clear each hour is that a record number of Americans of all races, faiths religions chose change over more of the same. They’ve given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism.

Oh, now that's a stretch. He's barely won, if indeed he's won. We still don't know. But if he's won, he wants you to know, that there's the mysterious thing called "a mandate." And he specifies the components of the mandate — "a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism." Wasn't it more of a vote just to be rid of Donald Trump? But that's the claim, the 4 elements of what we supposedly want — do something about COVID, the economy, climate change, and systemic racism. 

I say "we," but I see that Biden called us "they" — "They’ve given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism." They've given us. I take it "us" is the Democratic Party, and "they" is the people. They the People of the United States...

They made it clear they want the country to come together not continue to pull apart.

Yeah, he meant to "they" us. And he pictures us agglomerating into a more perfectly manipulable blob. Don't pull apart! Get together so that We the Democratic Party can take action on the Big 4 — COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism. I'll call it "CECS" to be snazzy. 

The people spoke, more than 74 million Americans and they spoke loudly for our ticket....

It was so loud we're still straining to hear it after 4 days.  

"Chainsaw Gordy."



That's from one of our favorite TV shows, "Wisconsin Life." I love the sculptural outdoor display of the chainsaw collection... not to be confused with chainsaw sculptures where chainsaws are the tools used to sculpt things out of tree stumps. 

Denmark will kill its 15 million caged minks — and not save the furs — because it's found a mutated version of the coronavirus.

AP reports. 

The coronavirus evolves constantly and, to date, there is no evidence that any of the mutations pose an increased danger to people. But Danish authorities were not taking any chances. “Instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly,” said Tyra Grove Krause, head department at Statens Serum Institut, a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in Denmark....

Instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly. A scary adage, but probably the right attitude for this specific problem. You can't individually test 15 million Danish minks and wait for the results. By the way, there are 5.8 human beings in Denmark, so there are nearly 3 minks per person. 

The pelts of the mink will be destroyed and Danish fur farmers have said the cull, which is estimated to cost up to 5 billion kroner ($785 million), may spell the end of the industry in the country. 

Speaking of weasels, the NYT reports: "A nasal spray that blocks the absorption of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has completely protected ferrets it was tested on, according to a small study released on Thursday by an international team of scientists." It's the animals that might infect us that are useful for tests. 

The nasal spray science is interesting:

November 6, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...



... you can talk all night.

"Wild accusations."


It's a podcast. 

Topics: "Trump’s speech — live and by transcript, praying to the government, the wretched decline of journalism, seeing your fellow citizens as toxic, and the belly-up elephant and donkey."

A Meadhouse still life.



Arrangement by Meade. Photo by Althouse.

Glenn Reynolds says he's quit writing a column for USA Today.

He doesn't give the details, only directs us to a new column at the NY Post and says:

The left is again showing that it can’t stand anyone who disagrees. “Moral superiority is an addictive drug, and perhaps the most unfortunate legacy of the Civil Rights era is that it got people on the left dependent on moral superiority for their self-esteem.”

Are we supposed to read that as a statement why he's quit USA Today?  The indented material above is all from the NY Post column, which isn't about leaving USA Today, of course. I'm just saying that, as it appears at Instapundit, with the news that he's quitting USA Today, it reads like a statement about why.

Here's the NY Post column. Excerpt:

This year’s presidential election hasn’t provided the catharsis that many on the left were awaiting. Instead of the hoped-for “Blue Wave,” we have a still-too-close-to-call presidential election, while Republicans picked up House seats and appear to have held on to the Senate. One response might be self-criticism: to wonder how, after four years of single-mindedly trying to get rid of Trump and marginalize his followers, things didn’t go better. Instead, Democrats’ thinkers seem to be asking themselves variations on “How can I live in a country where half the people supported Donald Trump?”...

Madison newspaper article tells us about a "group" that blocked the main highway "for hours" last night, but never says who they were or what they were protesting.

The "who" and the "why" seem to have dropped out of journalism. 

"Update: Group shuts down eastbound Beltline for hours Thursday night, police say" — Wisconsin State Journal. 
A group of about 20 people in cars shut down the eastbound Beltline in Monona and Madison for about four hours on Thursday night, authorities reported....

So... "people." This story has a front-page headline, and that says it went up 2 hours ago. If this happened last night, why is there no information about who these people are and why they're shutting down the Beltline?  

The group has a barbeque set up...

Are we supposed to infer the identity of the "people" and their purpose by the fact that they've set up a barbeque on the Beltline?! 

... similar to a protest on the Beltline in September that last [sic] several hours.

Okay, there's a link on that, so if I pick up a hint that these "people" must have the same purpose, I can click through and find out who they were and why they did this and then — if I chose — infer that last night's group had the same purpose. The linked article from September says: "The protest stemmed from police-involved deaths, including that of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and the Black Lives Matter movement, but it was unclear Thursday whether the protest was the result of a specific incident." In that protest, they "set up grills on the highway."

Here's an idea. Let's call it "journalism." You employees of the Wisconsin State "Journal" could take it upon yourselves to walk up to the "people" who are barbequing on the Beltline and interview them about what they are doing and why. If you find yourself wanting to write something like "it was unclear... whether the protest was the result of a specific incident," you might see that as a clue that you ought to find someone who could clear that up for you. 

Your potential informants were glaringly right out there in the most public possible location. Why didn't you walk up to them and ask?!

Last night's incident ended at 10:45. This is a front-page news story. Why isn't the "Journal" ashamed to have such an incomplete, uninformative story about an incident that disrupted the city for 2 hours?

Do they think they answered the question when they said that last night's "group" had a "barbeque," and the September protest — "stemmed from police-involved deaths" —  had "grills on the highway"? You shouldn't leave factual questions hanging like that! It's really disrespectful!

ADDED: Please understand that what I am calling "disrespectful" is the nudging to the reader to think in terms of race without speaking directly about race. I only refrained from calling that racism because I think there is too much readiness these days to call things racist. And yet, I'm pretty sure that if anyone from the right wing wrote something with that many cues about race, it would be called racist. 

Are we mocking religion?

I think it's valuable to read the transcript and judge Trump's words on their merit, not just to remember how you felt as you heard this...

... (if you listened to the whole thing live) and what it seemed as though he was saying. This speech was, I presume, intended to cause intense emotion, and I think it did. I got the feeling he was making wild accusations and that he ought instead to stay very closely connected to the evidence. 

From the transcript of Donald Trump's press conference yesterday:
The officials overseeing the counting in Pennsylvania and other key states are all part of a corrupt Democrat machine that you’ve written about. And for a long time, you’ve been writing about the corrupt Democrat machine. I went to school there and I know a lot about it. It hasn’t changed since a long time ago and hasn’t changed. It has gotten worse. 
In Pennsylvania, partisan Democrats have allowed ballots in the state to be received three days after the election, and we think much more than that, and they’re counting those without even postmarks or any identification whatsoever. So you don’t have postmarks, you don’t have identification. 
There have been a number of disturbing irregularities across the nation. 

November 5, 2020

At the Wild Accusations Café...


... it's a complicated business.

The photo was taken at 6:44 this morning. 

Biden asks everyone to "stay calm." Trump sounds the alarm —  they're stealing the election!

"I won."


It's a podcast.

"I realize that I won, and maybe you’ll see it my way, and then you too will have won!"

"Could we maybe just accept that identity politics isn't an effective political strategy? And could Democrats just stop with it, like now?"

"I'm a black woman who votes Democratic consistently, not once did I hear a Democratic candidate in this election cycle speak directly to my concerns and needs as a black woman. My vote for Biden was to remove Trump, not because I felt the Democratic party had a vested interest in my concerns. And by the way, the concerns of black people (and women in particular) extend far beyond police brutality -- an overwhelmingly black male issue that has taken up all the air in the room when we speak of black injustice. As a mother and small business owner my my issues regarding race surround around the poor teaching of history in public education (that often skims over slavery/Indian removal), lack of access to capital for my business (despite black women being one of the fastest growing entrepreneur groups), and poor maternal/female health (black women receive worse healthcare and have worse outcomes than white women.) But by all means, continue to patronize and tell me that I should vote Democrat because I am a black woman. I understand that representation matters but identity politics as a complete political strategy is infantilizing and condescending and it needs to stop."

That's the top-rated comment — with over 1500 up-votes — on the NYT column by Charles M. Blow "Exit Polls Point to the Power of White Patriarchy/Some people who have historically been oppressed will stand with their oppressors." 

Blow finds it "unsettling" that so many people voted for Trump, especially that more Hispanic and black people voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016, which he attributes to "the power of the white patriarchy and the coattail it has of those who depend on it or aspire to it." 

"Some people who have historically been oppressed will stand with the oppressors, and will aspire to power by proximity," Blow theorizes. They're susceptible to "Trump’s brash, privileged chest trumping and alpha-male dismissiveness and in-your-face rudeness." 

By the way, the usual cliché about coattails is that the lead candidate is able to bring along lesser candidates. He has long coattails, and they ride in on the coattails or they grab the coattails and are pulled along. Blow's image is that "white patriarchy" "has" "the coattail... of those who depend on it." That is, the weak person is wearing the garment with long tails and the oppressors are grabbing onto them. But what kind of people wear a coat with tails?! 


I'm steppin' out, my dear/To breathe an atmosphere /That simply reeks with class/And I trust that you'll excuse my dust/When I step on the gas...

What did Michael Bloomberg get for his money? He spent more than $1 billion running as a candidate, completely and embarrassingly failed, and then spent over $100 million on Biden...

... in Florida and $15 million in Ohio and Texas — and Biden lost in all of those states, Business Insider reports

What an astounding record of fruitless political spending! I was going to say, this record will last for ages, but then I realized... no. It will be smashed within the next 10 years. Don't you see why?

Bloomberg is super-rich with $55 billion, but that only puts him at #14 on the Forbes' list of richest people in America.  Jeff Bezos — #1 — has more than 3 times that much money. Why wouldn't he spend $3 billion or more if he ran for President... or just wanted to back one party's candidates? 

And since Trump won the presidency in his first run for office, spending his own money, why wouldn't other businessfolk think they have a shot? Just because Bloomberg failed so so badly? Some will resist the lure, but not all. Somebody's going to have the vanity and extra money to think they can be the next Trump and they're not going to be the next Bloomberg. In any case, Bloomberg was not a newcomer to politics. He'd been the NYC mayor for 12 years. He wasn't just parachuting in with his business expertise and money. He was more grounded in political reality. These other billionaires don't have that limitation. They can think, If Trump could do it....

"So much for the Democratic fantasy — the one that seemingly never dies — of unobstructed rule."

"Democrats didn't just want to win and govern in the name of a deeply divided nation's fractured sense of the common good. No, they wanted to lead a moral revolution, to transform the country — not only enacting a long list of new policies, but making a series of institutional changes that would entrench their power far into the future. Pack the Supreme Court. Add left-leaning states. Break up others to give the left huge margins in the Senate. Get rid of the Electoral College. Abolish the police. Rewrite the nation's history, with white supremacy and racism placed 'at the very center.' Ensure 'equity' not just in opportunity but in outcomes. Hell, maybe they'd even establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.... Nothing from the toxic progressive-fantasy wishlist will come anywhere close to passing. Instead, we will have grinding, obstructive gridlock. Some will demand that Biden push through progressive priorities by executive order. But every time he does... the country will move closer to witnessing a conservative backlash that results in Republicans taking control of the House and increasing their margin in the Senate in November 2022, rendering the Biden administration even more fully dead in the water."

From "The Left Just Got Crushed" by Damon Linker (The Week).

"White women. Again."

"Whatever happens in the courts, Trump is all but certain to be his own vortex of uncertainty over the next couple of months, until the Inauguration..."

"... and that will be true even after there is a decisive resolution. A vengeance-seeker in the best of times, Trump had already signalled before the election that he might fire a long list of officials in his government whom he views as insufficiently loyal or willing to go along with his orders. These include the director of the F.B.I., Christopher Wray; the Attorney General, William Barr; the director of the C.I.A., Gina Haspel; and, even in the midst of the pandemic, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He could seek to fire them even if he loses, or perhaps especially if he does.... Even defeated, Trump could use his executive powers to wreak significant additional damages before January 20th. He could break norms and traditions even more than he has already, and pardon his family, friends, cronies—even, potentially, himself. He could undermine public confidence in a coronavirus vaccine, or stop the government’s fight against it altogether. There are many scenarios for the havoc we might see....”

Writes Susan B. Glasser (in The New Yorker). 

I wonder if we'll miss this Trump-specific alarmism if/when Trump goes away. Of course, he won't go away. He'll regroup within media and carry on the havoc from the outside. He won't withdraw in humiliation at this seeming rejection. He'll feel immensely loved by the true Americans, unjustly ousted by his enemies, and stronger than you can possibly imagine

I enjoyed Glasser's reference to the idea that the outrageous President Trump might pardon himself. I used that idea on a Constitutional Law exam 20-some years ago. It was a current topic back then. Here's Slate from December 1998: "Can President Clinton Pardon Himself?" 

In 2018, Bill Clinton — no longer in possession of the pardon power — asserted that the President does not have the power to pardon himself. He just said "no" when asked, which, of course, would get zero credit as an answer on a conlaw exam, where it's all about the reasons you can elaborate. You've got to demonstrate your knowledge of the methodologies of constitutional interpretation. That's what matters.

Also quoted at that last link, President Trump:
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?

That's a strong assertion that the President has the power, then an enigmatic question that contains another assertion — that he did nothing wrong. But it's obvious why someone who'd done nothing wrong might want a pardon. A President may have powerful enemies who are threatening to prosecute him even though — in his opinion — he did nothing wrong.  

"Disappointed Democrats headed Wednesday toward renewing their control of the House... with a potentially shrunken majority as they lost at least seven incumbents without ousting a single Republican lawmaker."

"By Wednesday afternoon, Democrats’ only gains were two North Carolina seats vacated by GOP incumbents after a court-ordered remapping made the districts more Democratic.... 'They were all wrong,' House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters about Democrats’ assumptions of adding to their House numbers. Repeating a campaign theme Republicans used repeatedly against Democrats, he said, 'The rejection that we saw last night from the Democrats, was that America does not want to be a socialist nation... The Republican coalition is bigger, more diverse and more energetic than ever before'....  Democrats lost a majority Hispanic district in West Texas they expected to win after the GOP incumbent retired. And they lost a series of what seemed coin-flip races, failing to defeat GOP incumbents in Cincinnati, rural Illinois, central Virginia and the suburbs of St. Louis and several districts in Texas.... Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and the three other members of the so-called squad of young progressive women of color were easily reelected."

Moderate Democrats lost, so the new majority is not only smaller, but more intensely left-wing. I expect to hear more of the argument that Democrats lose when they skew moderate. Biden, if he ekes out a win, will be attacked from the left. Why didn't he accomplish a big win? Where was the landslide we were promised? Must be that he was too bland, too weak, too barely there. Trump will be gone. There will be no more monster to fight — just a relic of the old Democratic Party, which dragged him over the finish line to edge out that terrible President who had to go and almost didn't.

The NYT mishandles a metaphor: "Democrats’ ‘Blue Wave’ Crashed in Statehouses Across the Country."

It matters more than usual which party controls the state legislatures, because 2020 was a census year, and it's time once again for the partisan game of redistricting. Even if you think you only care about Congress, the House of Representatives is at stake as these lines are drawn, creating safe districts and competitive districts for Republicans and Democrats. 

I hadn't noticed any reports about the state legislatures, so I did a search. What came up first was this headline in the NYT:  "Democrats’ ‘Blue Wave’ Crashed in Statehouses Across the Country." 

When I see "wave," I picture a real wave, an ocean wave, so if it "crashes" on something, it hits with power and inundates. So I thought the Democrats had done very well at the state legislature level. Then I realized this is the problem of the dying metaphor that George Orwell wrote about. It began as a vivid image, and some of us still see the image in our head when we read it, but it's used routinely by some writers — it's just a go-to phrase — and they don't coordinate the image with the words they use alongside it. 

In this NYT headline, the verb "crash" was chosen to go with "blue wave" perhaps because it feels like a strong action verb or perhaps because it seems to go with "wave." Waves do crash. But here "crash" doesn't properly express what happens when waves crash. If a wave crashes on a building — such as a "statehouse" — the wave succeeds. The building is dominated. The headline uses "crash" more like the way the stock market crashes. It just collapses. It doesn't crash on something. 

Notice that the headline has the wave crashing "in" rather than "on" statehouses. The preposition indicates that the writer wasn't picturing the action of a wave at all.

How can a wave crash in a building? 

I did have a moment where I thought Oh, the Democrats got control of the redistricting! But, no. It's the opposite:
On Wednesday, the results were not yet final, but the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state-level races, said there were changes or potential shifts of control in just four chambers: the New Hampshire House and Senate, which Republicans took back from Democrats, and possibly the House and Senate in Arizona, though the contests for those chambers were still too close to call. He said it was the first time since 1946 that so few chambers were changing hands.

He? Who he? 

“This is crazy in that almost nothing has changed,” said Tim Storey, an expert with the N.C.S.L.

Oh, him. Tim Storey. 

November 4, 2020

At The Who Won Cafe...

 ... you can write about whatever you want.

"Biden looks screwed even if he wins/At a minimum, the lackluster performance of Democratic Senate candidates would hamstring a President Biden from Day One."

Says Politico.
[T]his campaign was always a referendum on Trump, rather than an affirmative endorsement of Biden and his agenda. That dynamic already cut against Biden claiming a strong positive mandate. He needed a crushing rejection of Trump to strengthen his case. He also needed the Senate... 
Final results that fall short of a massive rejection of Trump, as seems likely, would fail to trigger the repudiation of Trumpism in the Republican Party that many Democrats — and a minority of Republicans — had hoped for. As John Harris argues, whatever the final numbers, Trump’s appeal to half the country has proven to be durable....

The article doesn't even mention the role of Trump himself. As ex-President, he'll be liberated to speak, building some new media operation. He'll be the Democrats' nemesis. And won't he be the front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2024?

House Democrats stunned that they didn't oust a single GOP incumbent.

Politico reports. 
[B]y Wednesday morning, party officials and the rank and file were in panic mode as they awaited the results of nearly 20 members of the Democrats’ historic freshman class that handed the party control of the House just two years ago. And already they were saying goodbye to at least a half-dozen of their centrist Democratic colleagues, who were stunned by GOP challengers on Tuesday, including Abby Finkenauer in Iowa and Donna Shalala in Florida....
“It’s a dumpster fire,” said one lawmaker, who declined to be named.... Democrats were already engaging in rapid-fire finger-pointing... Several centrist Democrats blamed their more progressive colleagues, saying moderates in Trump-leaning districts couldn’t escape their “socialist” shadow.... 

"Can you tell me please, who won?"


It's a podcast.

Topics: "Post-election day rhetoric analyzed, a stoical approach, the language of boarded-up windows, there will be math, and the squandered credibility of the press."

You might want to subscribe on iTunes — here. Or subscribe on whatever podcast app you use. The podcast is a way to read the Althouse blog by ear, perhaps when you're out walking around, perhaps when you're taking a bath or falling asleep. There are many benefits to the podcast version of the blog. Not only can you do other things with yourself while listening, but the podcast has many extras beyond the text of the blog.

An obvious point.

"The Remaining Vote in Pennsylvania Appears to Be Overwhelmingly for Biden/The president leads by nearly 700,000 votes, but there are 1.4 million absentee votes outstanding."

Headline at the NYT.
So far, Mr. Biden has won absentee voters in Pennsylvania, 78 percent to 21 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The results comport with the findings of pre-election surveys and an analysis of absentee ballot requests, which all indicated that Mr. Biden held an overwhelming lead among absentee voters. If Mr. Biden won the more than 1.4 million absentee votes by such a large margin, he would net around 800,000 votes — enough to overcome his deficit statewide.

Biden needs to get 700,000+ more votes than Trump out of a pile of 1.4 million ballots.  If 78% of the uncounted ballots are for Biden, he can close the gap. But keep doing math. If the Biden percentage is 75%, it's dead even (with those big round numbers). Fall below 75% and Trump wins. 

ADDED: Does "1.4 million absentee votes outstanding" refer to the number of ballots that have been received within the required time frame or the number that were sent out but not yet included in the count? If the latter, we don't know that there will ultimately be what I called "a pile of 1.4 million ballots." Not everyone who received an absentee ballot will have returned it. And not all returned ballots will be received in time and properly filled out. So I doubt that 1.4 million is the right number to use in this calculation.

I'm back from my stoical walk — 3.4 miles, 60°, down by the lake and over to State Street...


... graffiti on a boarded up window says "Marxists are trying to make State Street a boarded-up unsafe dystopia."


Sunshine Daydream says "Spread love not hate."


... walking in the tall trees/going where the wind goes/blooming like a red rose...

"Don’t set your mind on things you don’t possess as if they were yours, but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them..."

"... if they weren’t already yours. But watch yourself, that you don’t value these things to the point of being troubled if you should lose them." 

Wrote Marcus Aurelius, quoted in "The Daily Stoic," an audiobook accompanying me as I take a walk — away from all TV sets and computers. 

We're having a frabjous Indian Summer right now here in Wisconsin, USA.


"Your patience is commendable. We knew this was going to go long, but who knew we’re going to go into maybe tomorrow morning, maybe even longer. But look, we feel good about where we are."

Said Biden in his super-short speech last night. He offers a basis for optimism to his supporters:
I’m here to tell you tonight, we believe we’re on track to win this election. We knew because of the unprecedented early vote and the mail-in vote it was going to take a while. We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying the votes is finished. And it ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted. But we’re feeling good. We’re feeling good about where we are....
It's true that all the legally cast ballots need to be counted, but I can't believe they were "feeling good." Not unless they knew all along that the polls were wrong.
As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election. That’s the decision of the American people. But I’m optimistic about this outcome.... Keep the faith guys, we’re going to win this.... Your patience is great.

Does he really believe it's not his place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election? 

Just yesterday, I read in Axios: "If news organizations declare Joe Biden the mathematical president-elect, he plans to address the nation as its new leader, even if President Trump continues to fight in court." That's not leaving it to "the American people," but to the news organizations who have been bending over backwards to help Biden. 

Unlike Trump, Biden doesn't need to declare his own victory. 

The elite media will declare it for him if they can, but Biden wasn't planning to wait until the entire process of ballot-counting ended. He was planning to seize strategic advantage in the ballot-counting battle and "address the nation as its new leader" — and that's more than Trump has done. 

"And we were getting ready for a big celebration. We were winning everything and all of a sudden it was just called off."

Said President Trump, last night, at "the latest news conference" he ever had. Transcript.

Yes, the news channels we were watching seemed to just stop calling states, ensuring that Trump's Electoral College number stayed below Biden's. 

I took the opportunity to get some sleep because I felt like the news had been turned off and got exasperated staring at nothing happening. How many times did John King touch and retouch Pennsylvania on his electronic map? It was surreal. You could go to sleep for a few hours, wake up, go to CNN again and there he'd be, futzing with the map, trying to show what could happen. 
The results tonight have been phenomenal and we are getting ready… I mean, literally we were just all set to get outside and just celebrate something that was so beautiful, so good... We won the great State of Ohio. We won Texas, we won Texas. We won Texas. We won Texas by 700,000 votes and they don’t even include it in the tabulations. It’s also clear that we have won Georgia.... They can’t catch us. Likewise we’ve clearly won North Carolina....They can’t catch us.... We’re up 690,000 votes in Pennsylvania, 690,000. These aren’t even close. This is not like, “Oh, it’s close…” With 64% of the vote in, it’s going to be almost impossible to catch....

Almost impossible. He's not lying and saying his victory is certain. He's giving a dramatic speech that makes you feel that a great victory has been won, but he still acknowledges that the outcome could change. 

I'm collecting old headlines like "Biden Will Win. Republicans Should Understand Why."

That, by Bill Scher, was published at Real Clear Politics the day before Election Day. In the light of the morning after Election Day, let's see how that reads now: 
Joe Biden is going to win. 
I have been wrong before. I will be wrong again. And maybe I’m wrong today. But we do not have any significant data to suggest Donald Trump was ever in a position to win reelection, or that he is closing the campaign with any sort of momentum needed for a come-from-behind victory.

We were patronizingly informed that we need to understand this news from the future. How biased was the information we were fed? The polls? The elite media? We knew they were biased, but they seem to have been far more biased this time around. 

Four years ago, we did have such data. In the RealClearPolitics national polling average, Hillary Clinton’s lead shrunk nearly six percentage points between Oct. 18 and Nov. 3, before ticking up a bit at the end....

Were the polls more wrong this time? With so much pressure to get it right after failing last time, the polls were even more wrong, and the commentators leaned into lecturing us about how Trump is toast, rejected forever, by a new America that wasn't going to stomach that nasty Trumpism anymore. 

November 3, 2020

Night falls... the election results should be coming in soon...

I will mark the occasion with a picture of the sunrise....


... perhaps by tomorrow's sunrise we will know the answer. I hope so! I'd like a crisply clear result to come into focus as soon as possible, and I'd like gracious winners and losers, all united in love for our beautiful country. 

Please use the comments section to discuss the election doings. We'll be moderating comments through quickly over the course of the evenings. I have seen a few requests to take moderation off, but you don't know what you are asking for. It's nice of you to have a positive idea of what could happen, but I have the real-life experience of seeing what the bad people will do. You'll have to accept the only substitute I have to offer — quick approval of comments over the course of the evening. 

Please don't talk about the moderation problem in the comments. Talk about the elections!

"We all had fun."

It's a podcast.

Topics: "The right not to vote, it all depends on Pennsylvania, second in line to vote, the 'mathematical president-elect,' we all had fun, what a Hitler ad would look like, the Little Pimp gaffe."

The "Little Pimp" gaffe.

To be fair to Trump, there is a movie "Li'l Pimp." It looks truly atrocious, but maybe Trump has watched it:

As for Lil Pump himself, I had never heard of him, but I read his Wikipedia page and watched the video he made with Kanye West, "I Love It," which I won't embed here because the lyrics include the n-word, but I thought it had some artistic merit. Nice costumes:

There's a point where I said "That's what a Hitler ad would look like."

The important thing.

Axios seems to invent the concept of "the mathematical president-elect" as it treats Biden's plan to declare early victory as wise when just yesterday it treated the same plan from Trump as devilish and deceitful.

"If news organizations declare Joe Biden the mathematical president-elect, he plans to address the nation as its new leader, even if President Trump continues to fight in court," Axios reports in "Scoop: Biden's plan to assert control."
Biden advisers learned the lesson of 2000, when Al Gore hung back while George W. Bush declared victory in that contested election, putting the Democrat on the defensive while Bush acted like the winner. So if Biden is declared the winner, he'll begin forming his government and looking presidential — and won't yield to doubts Trump might try to sow.
I'm very interested in the tone of this report because yesterday I blogged an Axios report about Trump's supposed plan to do the same thing. Here's my post. Here's the Axios piece: "Scoop: Trump's plan to declare premature victory" (Axios). 

Axios treated Trump as though he'd be doing something wrong to declare victory early. This strategic move was portrayed as premised on "false" and "baseless" claims. But when Biden has the same strategic plan, it's presented as wise and a defense against "doubts Trump might try to sow."

Now, I assume Axios would defend itself by saying the 2 plans are different. Trump's purported plan is to say the election night count should predominate and we should be suspicious of whatever gets counted later. It's expected that more Trump supporters will vote in person on Election Day and more Biden supporters mailed in their votes. Biden's plan is based on something that "news organizations declare" — that Biden is "the mathematical president-elect."

I think we can expect news organizations to declare things that help Biden, and what exactly is this math?! Is it something like the number of uncounted ballots and an assumption about the proportion of these ballots that should go for Biden? Let's say Biden is behind by 1,000 votes in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania makes the difference in who wins the electoral college and there are 50,000 uncounted mail-in votes from Philadelphia. Joe Biden is the "mathematical president-elect," right? Is that the idea?

I'm just guessing. Axios uses the term "mathematical president-elect," but doesn't define it. I'm googling this term, and everything just gets me back to this Axios usage. I'm so skeptical. Trump will only be making "baseless" claims, but Biden will be relying on the experts and math. 

AND: Here's a good source of percentages for your expert, news-organizational mathematics: ALSO: The "mathematicians" are there to protect you in case you were counting on there being no math...

Meade votes... second in line.


He arrived about a half hour before the polling place opened. I was out doing my sunrise run, but I drove past the polling place on my way home. Didn't see many people. I think this is a neighborhood where people would tend to vote early, so the open spaces don't mean lack of excitement and are, of course, good for resisting COVID.

If you're wondering what "Protected Count" means, it's just the total number of ballots that have ever been fed through that particular machine. The "Public Count" is the number for this election.

Look how the Pennsylvania polls ended.

Specifics here, but look at those lines:
I do think Pennsylvania will determine the outcome. 

Perhaps it all depends on how black people in Philadelphia feel today. 

"From March to June 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which has endorsed Biden and skewed coverage in his direction, saw his wealth rise by an estimated $48 billion to an estimated $183 billion, making him easily the world’s richest man."

From "Elite Democrats could destroy the middle class if Biden wins in 2020" by Joel Kotkin (NY Post).
If these Democrats win both houses of Congress as well as the White House, things could get far worse for the already beleaguered middle class, which has been rocked by the pandemic, with an estimated 100,000 small firms going out of business. Particularly hard-hit by the recent urban unrest are inner city and minority businesses.

"I'll just say this once, Althouse. Abstaining from voting is neither courageous nor principled."

"You don't have to love a candidate or adhere a million percent to his political philosophy in order to vote for him. It is your duty, which you appear to wish to neglect, to decide which candidate is less bad than the other and cast your vote. Anything else is cowardly."

Writes Tyrone Slothrop in the comments to yesterday's post "Galumphing toward the apocalypse."

I saw that last night but did not respond. What's different about today? 

Maybe the fact that I'd just read this by Sarah Hoyt over at Instapundit: 

"Forget about his manners; stop stomping your foot about how crass he is; and for the love of heaven stop holding your nose up high and pretending you’re too good for this: a vote for Trump is a vote for the constitutional republic."

Both Hoyt and Slothrop are saying something about Us the People Who Abstain that might be true of some of us, but is not true of me. And this method of using insults to push people to vote is ugly. Are they doing it because they think it's effective? I don't yield to bullies. Are they doing it to display their own staunchness? Does it feel like humor from their side? It falls flat for me. 

Notice how Hoyt and Slothrop contradict each other. Slothrop appeals to my vanity as he insists that I be  a good person — not cowardly and neglectful of duty. Hoyt denounces vanity and insists that I not get involved in any sense of my personal goodness. Is this about me or isn't it? I can harmonize Slothrop and Hoyt by saying Hoyt is also appealing to my vanity because she portrays the abstainer as snooty — with her nose in the air, acting like she's "too good for this."

Slothrop is distinctly wrong when he says voting is a duty. No. It is not. Like speaking, like religion, like getting married, like having sexual relations, voting is a right, and a right entails the power to decline to exercise it. It is horrible to be forced to speak, forced to take on a religion, forced to get married, forced to have sex — these are loathsome impositions. 

Hoyt is wrong — in my case at least — to attribute a refusal to vote for Trump to taking offense at his personal style — his manners, his crassness. I happen to enjoy his personal style. You can see that if you've been reading my blog over the last 5 years. I love freedom of expression, and I feel that I get him. He's a New Yorker. He's a comedian. He's free and daring. I like all that.  I do have some concern about the wellbeing of my fellow citizens who hate him at some instinctual level, but I don't think they ought to be appeased for losing or threatening to lose their minds.

Trump has his style and I have mine. If it makes you want to stomp your foot, go ahead. You can keep "stomping your foot about" how cruelly neutral I am. You're free. You've got your right and I've got mine. 

November 2, 2020

At the Morning Moon Café...

... you can write about anything you want.

The moon photograph was taken facing west at 6:37 a.m. At exactly that time, facing east, it looked like this:


"Galumphing toward the apocalypse."


It's a podcast. You can subscribe at all the usual podcast places, including iTunes (by clicking here). 

Topics: Melanie jokes, Lady Gaga throws beer, Marathon mind will do, Joe the stalking horse, fluffy wedding photos ape the West, Trump’s devilish plan, Anonymous is anonymous, woman’s way of knowing, Ben Franklin’s rising sun, Scotland’s intrafamily spies, Biden reveals his bunglers, and Meade talks and talks to phonebank women.

AND: Here's the Chaplin "wrench scene" I talk about — the buttons compared to Melania's buttons first appear at 1:35... but good lord, how can I predict you'll be that impatient? These 2 1/2 minutes are perhaps the greatest sequence of comedy ever filmed:

Me, I don't even answer the phone if I don't recognize the number, but my husband is answering calls now in the hope that it's a Biden phone bank person.

I thought it was quite something that he talked to a phonebank woman for 21 minutes yesterday, and then just now, he talked to a different phonebank women for 42 minutes — only ending the call when she said she had to go.

"It makes strategic sense that the Biden campaign would not draw attention to the bundlers who have helped him turn a lagging fundraising operation into a surprising powerhouse."

"Biden has worked to position himself as the candidate with the interest of the working and middle classes in mind, giving himself the nickname 'Middle-Class Joe,' and casting the general election 'as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue.' The Biden campaign has tried to draw focus to its small-dollar, online fundraising operation, rather than the celebrities, Silicon Valley billionaires, and Wall Street executives.... That’s an especially important task for Biden given that many of these characters are prone to draw the scorn of the left, which is already skeptical of Biden and wants to see big campaign contributors play a smaller role in politics." 

"Fifty years ago in Guzhen, China, a 15-year-old Red Guard called Zhang Hongbing heard his mother denounce Chairman Mao."

"Drilled in loyalty to the great leader, the boy told the authorities. Days later she was executed by firing squad. Zhang remains distraught. 'I killed my mother. I am tormented by this.' A tragedy so far from our experience: state spies in the home; blood betrayed for the regime. And yet, extraordinarily, we may ourselves be heading to a future in which children could snitch on their parents for expressing the wrong opinions. Last week Humza Yousaf, the Scottish justice secretary, talked about changes he wishes to make to hate crime legislation.... The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill will introduce an offence of 'stirring up hatred' against people with protected characteristics, including disability, age and sexual orientation.... Yousaf believes that this law should apply not only in public places but in private dwellings.... An Englishman’s home is his castle, a Scotsman’s home may soon be a sieve with forbidden conversations leaking out to the rozzers.... [A] fervently 'progressive' new son-in-law comes over to spend his first Christmas Day with the family, only to be appalled by batty aunt Doris with her tutting about 'coloured' people and her wondering aloud whether long hair on a young man automatically signifies that he is gay these days...." 

I learned a new word there. "Rozzers." Cops. 

I see Matt Yglesias is doing a sunrise picture... but it's for politics, not, apparently, for any love of nature.

I've got 2 poetry posts this morning, and I thought Yglesias's quote might be another poem... Maya Angelou, perhaps? But, no, it's Benjamin Franklin:
On the last day of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin observed that he had often wondered whether the design on the president's chair depicted a rising or a setting sun. "Now at length," he remarked, "I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun."

It's okay to use nature metaphors in politics. Reagan has his "Morning in America." It's nice to see the optimism, even though, I assume, Yglesias's optimism is an expression of the belief that Biden will win. If Trump wins, it will be... I had the transitory glimmer of happiness believing I was looking upon a rising sun, but no, no, it was a setting sun and darkness has fallen upon us once again.

Ah, whatever. Here's the sunrise I saw this morning — witnessed and loved purely as a sunrise and not any sort of metaphor:


Weird WaPo headline catches my eye: "Kamala Harris knows things no vice president has ever known."

I have not read this piece yet. I'm just trying to observe my understanding as it dawns on me. My first thought was: What kind of fawning bullshit is this? I was just complaining that the mainstream media hasn't subjected Kamala Harris to any serious testing, and now here's this ludicrous headline ascribing special powers of knowing to her. 

I see it's in the "Style" pages, which is what we have in the newspaper today instead of what used to be called the "Women's" pages. So now I'm thinking of the old concept "Women's Ways of Knowing." Have you heard of these 5 "ways of knowing" — something about "women's cognitive development, dependent on conceptions of self (self), relationship with others (voice) and understanding of the origins and identity of authority, truth and knowledge (mind)"? 

Is that what this WaPo thing is onto? Harris "knows things no vice president has ever known" because no vice president has ever been a woman? And extend that to no vice president has ever been black.

The piece is by Monica Hesse. 

I keep thinking about how, at some point in Kamala Harris’s life, she has painstakingly reviewed her office wardrobe with the understanding that the difference between “slut” and “feminazi” is a few inches of worsted-wool hemline. At some point, she has approached a stranger in a public bathroom because the Tampax machine is broken again, and she has said, I’m so sorry, but do you have — and then she didn’t have to finish the question because women in bathrooms know that there is only one end to that question.

You know, I went through an entire life's worth of menstruating and never once asked as stranger in a public bathroom for a tampon. It's not something that just has to happen to every woman. Nor did I ever even consider whether clothes I wore to the office needed to get between “slut” and “feminazi.” I don't even know now which one is shorter, but why would it matter, since neither message is office-appropriate? Wouldn't you just be picking your length and deciding how much you cared about being appropriate? 

I'm not buying Hesse's portrayal of the necessary experience of a woman, but in any case, who cares whether vice presidents know these things, and didn't Hesse already go through this collection of thoughts when she contemplated a first woman president 4 years ago?

"And then, this week, we got the big reveal. 'Anonymous' was Miles Taylor — a name that is likely literally anonymous to you to begin with."

"At the time he wrote the original column, Taylor was the deputy chief of staff to the director of Homeland Security — hardly a 'senior' Trump administration official. That description by The New York Times was the first major media misstep in all this. If Taylor published the column under his own name and title, it wouldn’t pack nearly the punch it did the way it was shrouded in mystery and secrecy. The only reason the Times would play this game was to deceive its readers, and the entire media world, into thinking the author was someone of far more prominence than Mr. Anonymous, Miles Taylor.... [T]he media spun a tale of a 'top administration official' working for Trump going public through The New York Times that turned out to be yet another massive letdown. The American public has seen the extreme lengths to which the press... has gone in abandoning its principles in the service of its perceived existential fight with the guy in the White House."

"We don't want to have Pennsylvania, where you have a political governor, a very partisan guy. ... We don't want to be in a position where he's allowed, every day, to watch ballots come in. See if we can only find 10,000 more ballots."

Said Trump, quoted in "Scoop: Trump's plan to declare premature victory" (Axios). 

The purported "scoop" — which is not the quote I have in the post title — is attributed to "three sources familiar with his private comments." If I understand journalese correctly, the sources do not claim to have heard Trump say whatever they say he said, they've just heard about it, whether second hand or third hand or eighth hand or whatever, there's no way to know. 

I presume Trump's idea is to claim victory whenever it's possible and strategically advantageous. That's an utterly mundane thing for Trump to have said. 

Obviously, people on both sides have to be intensely worried about how the votes will be counted and they are massively prepared to fight in court and in the political arena. And they are already fighting, such as by planting a "scoop" like this. The problem for Democrats is well understood: Trump may appear to be ahead on election night, because his voters are more likely to vote in person, and Biden will need to build up his numbers after election day, as the mail-in vote is counted. 

So Biden people need to get us to concentrate on the longer time frame, in which the numbers dribble in, but Trump will want us to fixate on what happened on Election Day and to fear that funny business is going on as Democrats look for whatever is the number of votes they will be able to see that they need.

That could get ugly, and Axios is helping Biden, showing us how to conceptualize the coming struggle:
Trump's team is preparing to falsely claim that mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3 — a legitimate count expected to favor Democrats — are evidence of election fraud.... Trump's team is preparing to claim baselessly that if that process changes the outcome in Pennsylvania from the picture on election night, then Democrats would have "stolen" the election. Trump's advisers have been laying the groundwork for this strategy for weeks, but this is the first account of Trump explicitly discussing his election night intentions....

Boldface added. Trump's strategy is quite ordinary, merely politically strategic, as is the effort to portray it as devilish and alarming. 

"But many of our relatives accused us of aping the West. They phoned us to ask what was the need for this? They said, have you forgotten our culture?"

Said the bride, from "A young Indian couple, whose intimate post-wedding photoshoot went viral on social media and attracted vicious trolling, have told the BBC they will not take down the pictures as it would mean giving in to their bullies" (BBC). 

If you put coy, posed photographs of yourself up on line and people make fun of you, are they "bullies"?

Click through to see the photographs. There's no nudity, just a couple acting playfully loving while swathed in big white comforters. Is that "aping the West"? Does anyone around here — this half of the globe — do wedding photos with giant expanses of comforter? 

BBC headlines "Biden and Trump criss-cross the US" when Biden only went from Delaware to Philadelphia yesterday and Trump flew 3,000 miles and rallied in 5 states.

Subheadline mostly concedes the embarrassing truth: "President Trump visits five states on Sunday while his rival Joe Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania." I say "mostly" because the geographical range of Biden's campaigning is muted by referring to the state, which is rather large, when Biden confines himself to the extreme southeast corner of the place, Philadelphia, which is an easy commute from his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

My screen shot is from the front page. The headline at the article is "US Election 2020: Biden and Trump hit swing states."

I am abstaining in the 2020 election, so I'm about as distanced and cruelly neutral an observer as you're going to get. I care about the quality of journalism, and the main thing I do here on this blog is monitor elite media. I've found the bias in favor of Joe Biden absolutely disgusting. And I believe Biden is a stalking horse for Kamala Harris, whom the mainstream media hasn't subjected to any serious testing. 

Stalking horse. Isn't that exactly the right expression? It's literally this:

"It was the exact same feeling. It was amazing. When I came in from Columbus Circle into the park? I just started crying. The exact same emotions."

Said Trephene Andrea Wilf, quoted in "The New York City Marathon Was Canceled. Runners Ran the Course Anyway. The 50th New York City Marathon would have been Sunday. Some runners still ran the 26.2-mile course despite the cancellation" (NYT). 
Even without the race banners lining city streets and ubiquitous advertisements on subway cars, taxis and billboards, New Yorkers knew the significance of the weekend, perhaps even more so this year. And many took note. They put up signs, cheered for runners in homemade marathon race bibs and wrote encouraging words with chalk on the sidewalk.
The human mind is powerful. It made me think of the Emily Dickinson poem...
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, 
One clover, and a bee. 
And revery. 
The revery alone will do, 
If bees are few.

Melania tells a joke in West Bend, Wisconsin.

I love the rough-hewn lumber background. It's almost as expressive of Melania's oneness with the place as Lady Gaga's pickup truck.

Now, Lady Gaga was mocked for that effort at performing American rural culture — redneckface, we might call it.
Much as that deserves mockery, perhaps it's so absurd it comes all the way back around to decent respect. The dashing of the nearly full beer can onto the ground might be the equivalent of a wink. I'm kidding! But the truth is Lady Gaga really does drive a truck — a 1993 Ford SVT Lightning pickup

The Trump campaign has responded, not on the strange visuals, but on the issue: "Nothing exposes Biden’s disdain for the forgotten working men & women of PA like campaigning with anti-fracking activist Lady Gaga... Biden repeatedly promised left-wing activists he would end fracking, which would be an economic death sentence and financial Armageddon for families in Pennsylvania and across the country." 

Meanwhile, we could talk about the clothes Melania wore to West Bend — brass buttoned up and staunchly military — and the choice of a rough wood background in West Bend (which isn't a rural outpost). We've seen that rough-hewn wooden statue of Melania — so perhaps that background is as appropriate as Lady Gaga's big truck.

What mileage does that huge thing get? It's much bigger than the 1993 Ford pickup, which I see only gets 14 mpg in the city. You know Gaga collects cars. Here are 14 of them. That Rolls-Royce Corniche gets 9 mpg in the city. How can an anti-fracking activist have cars like that? Is there a such thing as an out-and-proud activist for hypocrisy?

November 1, 2020

At the Sunday Night Cafe...

... you can write about whatever you want. 

"Only in it for the money."


It's a podcast. You can subscribe at all the usual podcast places, including iTunes (by clicking here).

Topics in this episode: "Costumes of mundaneness, the Biden bus incident, taking off the mask, why the polls might be more wrong in 2020 than in 2016, weaponizing movie stars, censoring harmful speech, is Trump doing everything for the money?"

If he doesn't win, it won't be because he didn't try hard enough.

"President Donald Trump is spending one of the last days before Election Day engaged in a five-rally blowout across several key states where he is either trailing Joe Biden or running narrowly ahead. After visiting Michigan, Trump will travel to Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida for events there later Sunday. Meanwhile, Biden is holding a pair of events in Philadelphia" (NBC News). 

So Biden is traveling about 30 miles from home to give 2 events, while Trump is traveling something like 3,000 miles and doing 5 events in 5 states.

"Since the beginning, Greenwald had been separated from The Intercept’s U.S.-based newsroom, having lived in Brazil for over a decade."

"As a result, most of the staff had little to no interaction with him, according to Intercept staffers who spoke with Intelligencer. Even as The Intercept built itself into a full-fledged news organization — complete with robust editing like the kind Greenwald balked at — the co-founder remained apart, writing and publishing his columns with little to no editorial oversight. 'He could have chosen to be a part of the mix, part of the conversation, the daily, weekly conversation about what we should be covering and what stories we were working on,' [Intercept deputy editor Roger Hodge said]. 'But he never did that. He always held himself aloof from the newsroom and never, ever soiled himself with the day-to-day business of news gathering.' Ryan Grim, The Intercept’s D.C. bureau chief, [said] Greenwald’s conflict with The Intercept was part of a larger culture clash between Greenwald, a civil libertarian... and some of his younger left-leaning colleagues, who believe they have a responsibility to call out and try to shut down what they consider hateful or harmful speech. Greenwald wrote that he eventually concluded The Intercept itself embraced this so-called 'cancel culture' in being reluctant to publish anything (like his Biden column) that might lead to accusations of aiding Trump and his supporters.... " 

"This newspaper has not supported a Republican for president since 1972. But we believe Mr. Trump, for all his faults, is the better choice this year."

Say the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette... that's Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in the state that will probably determine the outcome. 

"At the center of much of this creative coordination is Wisconsin’s Ben Wikler, chair of the state party Democrats, who was focused on comedy two decades ago, writing for the Onion and working for Al Franken..."

"... on his books and radio show, before rising in the political world. Now, his state party is the leading beneficiary of these fundraisers, raising more than $7 million since August, part of the $58.7 million it’s reportedly brought in over the past two years. David Mandel, former 'Veep' showrunner and 'Seinfeld' writer, says of the virtual format: 'I give credit to Ben Wikler for really weaponizing it.' Americans don’t particularly want to be politically lectured to by Hollywood, Mandel says. 'But they do like it when Hollywood people do what they’re really good at, and that’s to entertain,' he says. 'We entertained the fans and that’s what we weaponized.'"

 From "'Princess Bride,' 'Seinfeld' and more: How nostalgic cast reunions became a Democratic fundraising weapon" (WaPo) (you get to watch the actors on Zoom reading their lines from the old script).

"And yesterday, he had the gall to suggest that American doctors, people who are putting their lives on the line, on the front lines to save other lives..."

"... along with nurses and so many others, he suggested falsely that they’re inflating the number of COVID deaths to make more money. What in the hell is wrong with this man? Excuse my language, but think about it. It’s perverted. He may believe it because he doesn’t do anything other than for money."

Said Joe Biden, at his rally in Flint, Michigan yesterday. Transcript.

What exactly was Trump's claim and is there any basis for it? Here's (with a long quote from Trump):

But if you go wearing pictures of Chairman Mao.... you are going to make it with Portland people anyhow.

 Look at the skirt!

Nate Silver says "Trump Can Still Win, But The Polls Would Have To Be Off By Way More Than In 2016," but there's good reason to believe the polls are more off.

Before I tell you what I think is the good reason, let's see what Nate Silver came up with:
Biden is unambiguously ahead in the polls. The Normal-Polling-Error Zone is a place we talked about in 2016, when we told you that Trump was only a normal-sized polling error away from beating Hillary Clinton.... The Zone of where we are this year. I think of the Zone of Plausibility as extending out to reflect an error of up to two standard deviations — so, it’s a race where the favorite has somewhere from an 84 percent to 98 percent chance of winning. You wouldn’t consider the underdog winning in an election like this to be a routine occurrence. But, well, it’s plausible, and it isn’t that hard to find precedents for it.... At the same time, though, a 2016-style polling error wouldn’t be enough for Trump to win.... A Trump win remains plausible.... Polls can be wrong — indeed, the whole point of our probabilistic forecast is to tell you the chances of that — but they’re more likely to be wrong when a candidate’s lead is narrower....

Unless I missed something buried in all that statistical wonkery, Silver doesn't talk about why the polls might be more wrong in 2020 than they were in 2016. Here's what I'd say about that. 

First, there might be more reason this time around for Trump supporters to avoid talking to pollsters or to give dishonest answers to pollsters. Not only is there fear of economic and social consequences for supporting Trump, there's open advocacy of the practice of lying to pollsters. I don't think there's anything like that on the Biden side.

Second, if pollsters are at all inclined to skew their numbers to manipulate opinion, they may have been more motivated to do so in 2020. What Trump did in 2016 was a massive surprise, and the defenses against him were lower. There was complacency at the time. Smug confidence. In 2020, there has been endless anxiety and hyper-alertness. I think that may have led pollsters to provide better numbers.

Third, if pollsters plumped up the numbers for Biden to feed the emotional and political needs of Democrats, then that may backfire as confidence based on polls leads some Democrats not to bother to vote, especially if they don't feel too great about Biden. 

Fourth, we've got coronavirus this time, and anti-Trumpsters seem to be way more worried about it than Trumpsters. So more Trumpsters will show up in person to vote. More anti-Trumpsters have turned to mail-in voting, but who knows how well they've filled out the forms and whether they've put their envelopes into mailboxes in time to get counted?

Is he taking off the mask or putting it on? That's not like asking whether a glass is half full or half empty. Do you see why?

That's a sidebar teaser that gets you to this column by the WaPo editorial board — "What America would be like under a President Biden." The text isn't particularly interesting. We're told Biden will impose environmentalist regulations, defend Obamacare, protect "dreamers," accomplish a "project of racial healing," and rejoin the "good guys" in foreign affairs. 

I just want to talk about the mask. Is he taking it off, so that it symbolizes an eagerness to get us back to normal life, or is he putting it on, which would represent a more cautious approach, prioritizing safety over economic and social activity? I guess you can see it either way. The text noncommittally informs us that he would "release evidence-based national coronavirus guidance." 

The photo caption says it's a picture of Biden removing the mask, but why choose that photo? Isn't Biden the one who would impose a national mask requirement? I'm not sure. The column is only telling me that he'll do what "evidence" supports... and not even that he'll do anything — he'll just "release... guidance." 

But I'd like to know "What America would be like"! I see the picture and it stimulates hopefulness that we're about to rip off the masks and move forward. But I'm more of an optimist. I'd see the glass as half full, not half empty. But this legendary glass has always had a set amount of water in it and half empty or half full was always only about the observer's state of mind. 

A man with the mask half on or half off is in the middle of an action that he controls. He's either in the process of getting fully into the mask or getting fully out of the mask. It's not a test of the observer's state of mind. My optimism might lead me to see him as taking off the mask, and I am actually right if that caption is true, but the issue is "What America would be like under a President Biden," and I think Biden is the candidate who wants to err on the side of shutting us down.

When it comes to coronavirus, Trump seems to be the optimist and Biden the pessimist. I'm not convinced the 2 are really that different. Differences are exaggerated in the lead-up to the election. Once the votes are counted and the outcome of the election is known, we'll get something more like a rational discussion of what to do about the pandemic. Until then, I'm not trusting any half-masked grins.

"The New York Post articles based on the contents of the mysterious hard drive delivered by Mr. Giuliani failed to drive a broader narrative about Mr. Biden in the way that WikiLeaks did with the Clinton materials."

The NYT covers the Hunter-Biden-laptop story in "Their First Try Backfired, but Giuliani and Allies Keep Aiming at Biden The former New York mayor’s dirt-digging effort on Hunter Biden in 2019 ended with President Trump’s impeachment. Now he is back with new associates. So far it is not going exactly as planned." Written by Kenneth P. Vogel, Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Haberman. 
While highlighting questions about the business activities of Hunter Biden and the former vice president’s brother James Biden, Mr. Giuliani and his allies have failed to prove that Joe Biden was involved in or a beneficiary of them. And they have distracted from the documents about which there are fewer questions related to the chain of custody by making unsubstantiated claims and publishing salacious pictures and videos that have no apparent relevance to Mr. Biden’s candidacy.... 
[Tony] Bobulinski says he met twice with the former vice president after he left office. The [Wall Street] Journal dug into Mr. Bobulinski’s account, and in the end reported that corporate records showed “no role for Joe Biden” in the deal and that the documents provided by Mr. Bobulinski “don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”....