May 25, 2024

Sunrise at 5:26.


Wildflowers at 5:28 a.m.:


And a frog, semi-camouflaged, at 10:44 a.m.:


"Mr. Musk has posted about Mr. Biden on X at least seven times a month since January... Before that, he posted about Mr. Biden twice in December and not at all in November...."

"In all, Mr. Musk had posted nearly 40 times about Mr. Biden this year, compared with about 30 times for all of last year."

In contrast, Mr. Musk had posted more than 20 times on X this year about former President Donald J. Trump.... In those posts, Mr. Musk defended Mr. Trump, arguing that he is a victim of media and prosecutorial bias....

Mr. Musk’s posts about this year’s presidential race stand out because he is signaling a willingness to tip the political scales as the owner of an influential social media platform, something that no other leader of a social media firm has done. And Mr. Musk exerts outsize influence over the political discourse....

We're reading this in the New York Times, which, of course, has long signaled a willingness to tip the political scales as influential mainstream media. But Musk is an individual person, posting his speech as an individual, like other individuals who post on his platform. By contrast, other social media moguls avoid using their individual voice to openly say things about politics:

"Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has unexpectedly emerged as a top contender to become Donald J. Trump’s running mate..."

"... according to three people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s thinking who insisted on anonymity to discuss private meetings. These people said that Mr. Trump’s other current favorites were Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and three of Mr. Cotton’s Senate colleagues: Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina and J.D. Vance of Ohio...."

The former president has said privately that he views Mr. Cotton as a reliable and effective communicator in cable news interviews. Mr. Trump has also praised Mr. Cotton’s Army service, which included deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fact that he is a fellow Ivy League graduate. Mr. Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Cotton attended Harvard, earning undergraduate and law degrees....

Mr. Cotton has long been considered one of the party’s rising stars, ambition that could hurt his chances with Mr. Trump, who has undermined allies in the past when he perceived them to be intruding on his spotlight....

Bender could be wrong about Trump's determination to hog the spotlight. Trump may actually care about the ongoing project of making America great again. To a Trump hater, MAGA is at best an embodiment of Trump's ego, but Trump may want to pick the person who can carry Trumpism into the next administration and beyond. If he is thinking like that, then he'd pick Tom Cotton, don't you think?

I had Tom in mind for this purpose from just after the 2020 election:

And here's this from February 10, 2013: "I had never heard of the guy, but he impressed the hell out of me."

"There are days that I’ve come to my office after an announcement of a case and closed my door and cried. There have been those days. And there are likely to be more."

Said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, quoted in "Justice Sotomayor Describes Frustration With Being a Liberal on the Supreme Court/In a conversation at Harvard, the justice spoke of her despair at some of the court’s decisions, but she urged optimism and a focus on future generations" (NYT).
“There are moments when I’m deeply, deeply sad,” she said, without citing any specific cases. “There are moments when, yes, even I feel desperation. We all do. But you have to own it, you have to accept it, you have to shed the tears and then you have to wipe them and get up.”

"The film... earned him an Academy Award nomination for best documentary and helped spur a sweeping backlash against the fast-food industry..."

"... though only temporarily; today, McDonald’s has 42,000 locations worldwide, its stock is near an all-time high, and 36 percent of Americans eat fast food on any given day.... By making himself a part of the story, Mr. Spurlock could be considered a forerunner of TikTok influencers and citizen-journalist YouTubers. And even after the backlash against fast food subsided, 'Super Size Me' remained a staple in high school health classes.... Some people pointed out that Mr. Spurlock refused to release the daily logs tracking his food intake.... And in 2017, he admitted that he had not been sober for more than a week at a time in 30 years — meaning that, in addition to his 'McDonald’s only' diet, he was drinking, a fact that he concealed from his doctors and the audience, and that most likely skewed his results. The admission came in a statement in which he also revealed multiple incidents of sexual misconduct, including an encounter... that he described as rape.... His decision to discuss his sexual past, which came at the height of the #Metoo movement, was met with a mix of praise and criticism.... 'Career death,' The Washington Post declared it in 2022, noting that the once-ubiquitous Mr. Spurlock had largely disappeared."

From "Morgan Spurlock, Documentarian Known for ‘Super Size Me,’ Dies at 53/His 2004 film followed Mr. Spurlock as he ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month. It was nominated for an Oscar, but it later came in for criticism" (NYT).

Career death, and now real death. He had cancer.  From drink? From McDonald's? We don't know. McDonald's goes on, undying. 

May 24, 2024

Sunrise on what became a very rainy day — 5:06, 5:14, 5:23, 5:29.





The saddest, loneliest Althouse blog tag: "Biden the healer."

I created this tag on November 8, 2020, and I don't create a new tag unless I think there will be a good number of other posts that will support that tag. I imagined Biden stepping up to the role of healer. I went back today, looking for "Biden the healer" in my archive, because I've been thinking how much better Biden might be doing — and, more importantly, how much better this country might be doing — if Biden had followed the path of healing — of bringing us together. But Biden was and is a divider. Maybe January 6th was too much of a temptation, such great raw material for tearing us apart. He could have said — like Lincoln — "with malice toward none, with charity for all" and forgiven everyone involved and called upon all of us — on his side and the other side — to "bind up the nation's wounds." But he didn't do it. And now it's too late.

Here's my November 8, 2020 post. Read it and weep. It's title is an eloquent quote from someone who has gone on to distinguish herself for her comical lack of eloquence:

"Media in disbelief as Republicans like Nikki Haley flock to Trump while Biden coalition frays."

That's the headline at the NY Post for a column by David Harsanyi.
This week, former South Carolina governor and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley finally endorsed Donald Trump. And, boy, the news was an unpleasant surprise to a political media that’s convinced themselves Trump is the next Hitler. On outlets like CNN and MSNBC, Haley was disparaged as if she were a traitor to the American republic. The American left, it seems, continues to believe a sizable contingent of Never-Trump Republican voters can sink the former president....

"Any pretense of seriousness evaporated last week with the New York Times's expose of the Alitos' breach of flag etiquette...."

"While Justice Alito has stated that he had nothing to do with this flag hoisting, the incident, we are told, somehow amounts to evidence that the Alitos supported Donald Trump's 'stop the steal' campaign. Where does that connection come from? A search of the Factiva news database turns up no articles containing the phrases 'stop the steal' and 'upside down flag' before the Times report on May 16. Rather than retreat in humiliation, the Times doubled down this week with a follow-up report of yet another flag... spotted at the Alitos' vacation home in New Jersey. The left tells us that the 1775 Pine Tree flag was spotted among Jan. 6 protesters! And moreover, that its catch phrase, 'an appeal to heaven,' derives from a radical character —John Locke. The Times somehow fails to let readers know that the flag is a longtime symbol of independence; that it was designed by George Washington's secretary; was flown on ships commissioned by Washington; has been honored, commemorated and flown over state capitols; and is the official maritime flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...."

Writes Kimberley A. Strassel, in "A Flagging Campaign Against Justice Alito/The ‘ethics’ attack having failed, the left turns to flag etiquette" (Wall Street Journal).

"I was doing great, I was sort of like a hot guy. I was hot as a pistol. I think I’m hotter than I am now and I became president."

"I asked somebody, was I hotter before or hotter now. I don’t know… Who the hell knows? Who the hell cares? You have to always keep moving forward. And when it’s your time you’ve got to know it’s your time. And I said to myself in terms of politics, ‘You know what: we did so well in number one and we did even better in number two… we’ve got to do it again. I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it to make America great again...."

Said Donald Trump, quoted in "Trump brazenly asks Bronx crowd if he was 'hotter' before or after becoming president." 

That's in the Independent, which says "He is seemingly attempting to make inroads with ethnic minority voters, hoping it can bolster his support in traditionally Democratic strongholds and swing states."

Seemingly! The polls show that he has made inroads with ethnic minority voters, and he's keeping up the pressure, what with this rallying in the South Bronx. As he said, you have to perceive your hotness and move forward into greater and greater hotness. 

"I bit her, I am not denying that. I am defending myself and the sacrament."

Said Father Fidel Rodriguez, quoted in "Florida priest bites woman during Communion scuffle: 'I am defending myself and the sacrament'" (NY Post).

You've heard of Florida man. This is Florida priest.
The Catholic Diocese of Orlando defended the priest in a statement posted online. “The woman forcefully placed her hand in the vessel and grabbed some sacred Communion hosts, crushing them,” part of the statement said. “Having only one hand free, Father Rodriguez struggled to restrain the woman as she refused to let go of the hosts.... When the woman pushed him and reacting to a perceived act of aggression, Father Rodriguez bit her hand so she would let go of the hosts she grabbed. The woman was immediately asked to leave.... Further, while the Diocese of Orlando does not condone physical altercations such as this, in good faith, Father Rodriguez was simply attempting to prevent an act of desecration of the Holy Communion, which, as a priest, Father Rodriguez is bound by duty to protect.”

Should the priest be charged with a crime? Should the woman?

There's an additional angle: "A witness claimed to police the woman was rejected because of her sexuality and what she had on."

"What is unclear is who will get paid and how much. The $2.8 billion in damages is tied to revenue generated almost exclusively..."

"... by major conference football and men’s basketball, whose athletes represent one class of plaintiffs. Another class is women’s basketball players in the major conferences. And the final class is everyone else. Going forward, the settlement means that schools could set aside about $20 million each to pay their athletes as soon as the 2025 football season. Schools will have their own decisions to make on how to distribute payments to athletes. Does Michigan, for example, want to sprinkle money among its lacrosse and cross-country teams, or plow almost all of the money into football and basketball? And will Title IX require the money to be distributed equally among men and women?"

From "Decades in the Making, a New Era Dawns for the N.C.A.A.: Paying Athletes Directly/If approved by a judge, the $2.8 billion settlement of an antitrust lawsuit would allow for the first revenue-sharing plan for college athletes. The question now: How will it work?" (NYT).

"Post about your politics" on social media... "Let your friends and family know where you stand..."

"... not just on national politics, but on local and international issues as well. Do research and share your thoughts in a respectful manner. Welcome corrections and conflicting opinions. Over time, you’ll become better versed."

There's also this: "Content creators choose to share their lives or work with the world, but they are not actually your friend (usually). They also aren’t receptacles for your emotions or opinions. These nouveau celebrities don’t owe you much of anything, so there’s no sense in getting mean or demanding...."

Is this "new... etiquette"? Isn't it pretty much the same etiquette we've had all along, even before social media. "Content creators" are just another form of famous person. Only nuts — or children — imagine that a celebrity is in a personal relationship with them. 

May 23, 2024

Sunrise — 5:19, 5:23, 5:28.




"Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito noted many predominantly Black precincts in Charleston were moved out of one district and into another."

"But 'because of the tight correlation between race and partisan preferences, this fact does little to show that race, not politics drove the legislature’s choice,' he wrote. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the justices nominated by Democrats, said the majority got it 'seriously wrong'.... Kagan warned that the majority opinion sends a message to lawmakers and mapmakers to use race as a proxy to achieve partisan ends. 'And so this "odious" practice of sorting citizens, built on racial generalizations and exploiting racial divisions, will continue,' she wrote. 'In the electoral sphere especially, where "ugly patterns of pervasive racial discrimination" have so long governed, we should demand better — of ourselves, of our political representatives, and most of all of this Court.'"

From "Supreme Court allows disputed South Carolina voting map/At issue was whether the map was an unconstitutional attempt to divvy voters up by race -- or was permitted partisan gerrymandering" (WaPo).

"More people in the United States say they are using marijuana daily or near daily, compared with people who say they are drinking alcohol that often..."

"... according to a new study. In 2022, about 17.7 million people reported daily or near daily marijuana use, compared with 14.7 million people who reported drinking at the same frequency, said the report, which was based on more than four decades of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.... While 'far more people drink' than use marijuana, high-frequency drinking among Americans is less common.... The 2022 survey found that the median drinker reported drinking on four to five days in a month, compared with 15 to 16 days in a month for cannabis."

WaPo reports.

So does that mean cannabis is more addictive than alcohol? I searched the article for "addiction" and it only came up as the name of the journal where the study was reported.

"But if you know a person who is OK with silence, you can try... 'companionate solitude,' where you do something alone together."

"When [psychologist Robert] Coplan was young, he would go fishing with his father on a quiet lake. 'We would sit there for hours at a time and wouldn’t say a word to each other,' he recalled. 'It was like I was alone, but he was there, and that was comforting.'"

From "We All Need Solitude. Here’s How to Embrace It. Alone time can help you reduce stress and manage emotions, but you have to be intentional about it, experts say" (NYT).

It's not so much that it was a "shouting match." It's what they were shouting about.

The headline at CNN is "Florida hearing in Trump classified documents case devolves into shouting match" (CNN).

But look at this dispute!
[I]n the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.... Walt Nauta, one of former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants, [was scheduled] to present arguments that special counsel Jack Smith’s team had selectively and vindictively brought charges against him.

But the hearing quickly diverted into a longstanding disagreement over an August 2022 meeting between prosecutor Jay Bratt and Nauta’s defense attorney, Stanley Woodward. Woodward has claimed in court proceedings and filings that Bratt attempted to pressure him into convincing Nauta to cooperate against Trump by threatening to affect a potential judgeship nomination....

"Bronx Democrats are counterprogramming Trump's rally with a demonstration of their own at the other end of Crotona Park...."

"Jasmine Harris, the Biden campaign's Black media outreach director, called Trump's rally 'a halfhearted attempt ... to pander for Black and Latino votes,' adding he 'stepped into public life by falsely accusing the Central Park 5 [and] taking the racist birther movement mainstream.'... 10,000 people had signed up to attend the [Trump] rally, a person involved in organizing the event said this week. The Trump campaign has filed a permit for 3,500 people."

I hope it will be a delightful day in the park for people at both ends. 

Why is Nikki Haley announcing support for Trump? I thought she pledged, long ago, to support the GOP nominee.

It was a condition for the debates last year. Were we supposed to just forget? Are pledges some kind of joke? Was the pledge only ever about stopping Trump from running independently if he could not secure the nomination?

Anyway, I'm seeing "Nikki Haley says she’s voting for Trump in November" (CNN). No mention of the debate pledge. [ADDED: There is a mention, buried in the middle of the article: "[D]ays before dropping out, she said she no longer believed she was bound by the Republican National Committee pledge to support the party’s eventual presidential nominee."]

There's this, from March 3rd: "Haley says she no longer feels bound by the GOP pledge requiring her to support the eventual nominee."

May 22, 2024

After the big storm.


Glorying in the humiliation of others — it's not an endearing trait.

"That’s why middle school math is this flashpoint. It’s the first moment where you potentially make it very obvious and explicit that there are knowledge gaps opening up."

Said Joshua Goodman, an associate professor of education and economics at Boston University, quoted in "The Algebra Problem: How Middle School Math Became a National Flashpoint/Top students can benefit greatly by being offered the subject early. But many districts offer few Black and Latino eighth graders a chance to study it" (NYT).

"I failed and failed and got my share of deservedly horrific reviews in conspicuous vehicles. And, believe me, I didn’t feel like I was being misjudged."

"Unlike a lot of people, though, I did not swallow the Kool-Aid. I’m reasonably intelligent. I behaved well. But I would have preferred to have been good at what I was applauded for. I’m grateful I had all that, but I live a very different life now. I don’t care at all about being seen in the latest piece of clothing or knowing the latest song. I don’t feel diminished by not knowing those things. I did it all and was looked at, and that was for another time...."

Said Ali MacGraw, quoted in "Ali MacGraw on Her Natural, Beautiful Life" (NYT).

"The new Trump movie has his campaign in an uproar...."


Apparently, the Cannes audience gasped at the brutality of the rape scene. The victim: Ivana.

Another flag to interpret... perhaps...

"It is urgently important that Democrats find ways to depict this cartoon villain as more villainous than comic."

"A host of data shows that a crucial slice of the electorate has relatively sunny memories of the Trump years and a vague understanding of the extremist agenda his allies are putting together for a second term. And worse yet... the youngest voters, on whom Democrats are relying for a big 2024 advantage, know little about Trump at all... 'Santiago Mayer, the 22-year-old founder of the Gen Z group Voters of Tomorrow, which has endorsed Biden, told me that his 18-year-old brother and his friends see Trump as more funny than threatening. "They don’t know much about Donald Trump’s agenda, and Donald Trump is an entertaining character," Mayer said. "They are gravitating toward him not because of their political beliefs but out of sheer curiosity."' It is urgently important that Democrats find ways to depict this cartoon villain as more villainous than comic... Perhaps the way for Democrats to thread the needle is to make Trump appear not just scary but also predictably wedded to the worst aspects of his party...."

Writes Ed Kilgore in "The Biden Campaign Has a Trump-Fatigue Problem" (NY Magazine).

The internal quote — "Santiago Mayer... sheer curiosity" — comes from an Atlantic article by Russell Berman called "The Voters Who Don’t Really Know Donald Trump/Many of this year’s first-time voters were too young to remember what Trump was like in office. Biden hopes to show them." Berman's recommendation is to give young people "a well-funded history lesson." Noted.

"Ousted Trump prosecutor Nathan Wade shocks guests with appearance at ex-lover Fani Willis’ primary election victory party."

The NY Post reports.
The 52-year-old prosecutor’s victory over attorney and author Christian Wise Smith comes as she faces multiple investigations launched by state and federal lawmakers over her alleged misuse of taxpayer money and relationship with Wade.

“We can’t keep turning a blind eye to what’s going on in that office,” Wise Smith argued on the campaign trail Monday. “Chaos. Corruption. It’s time for us in Fulton County to stand up and take our justice system back”....

"The judge actually threatened to strike all of Costello’s testimony if he raised his eyebrows again."

"That of course would have been unconstitutional because it would have denied the defendant his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses and to raise a defense. It would have punished the defendant for something a witness was accused of doing. Even if what Costello did was wrong, and it was not, it would be utterly improper and unlawful to strike his testimony — testimony that undercut and contradicted the government’s star witness.... Moreover, [Justice Merchan's] affect while issuing that unconstitutional threat revealed his utter contempt for the defense and anyone who testified for the defendant. The public should have been able to see the judge in action, but because the case is not being televised, the public has to rely on the biased reporting of partisan journalists. But the public was even denied the opportunity to hear from journalists who saw the judge in action because he cleared the courtroom. I am one of the few witnesses...."

Writes Alan Dershowitz, in "I was inside the court when the judge closed the Trump trial, and what I saw shocked me" (NY Post).

Having Costello testify was a last-minute decision by the Trump defense. He had knowledge of Cohen’s credibility, having been Cohen’s lawyer.... Costello testified that Cohen told him that Trump did not know about the nondisclosure agreement payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. “Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” Costello said....

That is important information, given that it goes to the heart of the case — that Trump allegedly, with intent to defraud, falsified records of the payments because he was also intending to commit some other crime that prosecutors have not yet specified. If Trump “knew nothing about those payments,” as Cohen said, according to Costello’s testimony, that would throw a big wrench in the prosecution’s theory of what happened.

Perhaps you have not heard about Costello’s testimony. If not, that was likely because everyone, including the press, got very excited about what happened later....
Go to the link for quotes from the transcript covering the material Dershowitz wrote about as an eyewitness.

"This is a clarifying political vote that will put every Republican on record as to whether or not they believe in a constitutional right to contraception...."

"They can try to rationalize a vote, but that will not be how it is interpreted by women who want a right to contraception. If the bill doesn’t pass into law, it will be because Republicans oppose protecting American’s right to contraception."

Said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, quoted in "Schumer Plans Vote on Contraception Access, Teeing Up a Campaign Issue/Democrats are planning to spotlight Republicans’ opposition to legislation protecting birth control access nationwide, as part of an election-year push" (NYT).

Trump responded to a question about this bill: "We’re looking at that. Things really do have a lot to do with the states, and some states are going to have different policies than others." So: leave it to the states. The benefits of federalism. But that's a little hard to understand, and Democrats are pushing Republicans to speak in these mystifying terms that cause anxiety about what's really going on.

After Trump got a chance to see the reaction in the media, he stepped away from the federalism talk and said that he would "never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control" or a "ban on birth control."

May 21, 2024

Sunrise — 5:15.




"I say to every young man thinking of getting married, marry into a family with 5 or more daughters."

"I did. My wife is the oldest of 5 sisters. You know why? One of them will always love you. Not the same one. One of them is always going to be on your side. That's the biggest advantage of marrying into 5 daughters."

Oh, he's just an old, old man who re-uses his old, old laugh lines. He doesn't even think about whether this is the sort of thing that people still say these days. And I looked it up to see if maybe this is an old clip. No. He said it today. In Nashua, New Hampshire.

I had to be careful, sharing the forest trail with a turkey.

"Over a dozen Democratic elected officials criticized a parent group that asked for a review of rules that let students play on sports teams that align with their gender identity."

The NYT reports, in "N.Y.C. Parents Rebuked for Questioning Transgender Student-Athlete Rules."
The parent council — representing the diverse local District 2 that weaves through the West Village, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper East Side — said that the current policies present “challenges to youth athletes and coaches” and fail to consider the “well-being of girls.”...

In a letter made public on Monday, a coalition of 18 Democratic elected officials from New York called the proposal “hateful, discriminatory and actively harmful” to the city’s children.... The officials argued that while some parents say they were “simply asking for a conversation,” the resolution “was based in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric”....

"During the second week of Lent, on 'Cat Wednesday,' cats were tossed to their deaths out of the belfry tower onto the town square below."

"At the time, the animals were seen as a symbol of witchcraft and evil, so their deaths were celebrated. The last live cat was thrown in 1817, but Ieper (also called Ypres in French) developed Kattenstoet in 1937, a tradition to both acknowledge the city’s gruesome history and celebrate cats. The parade, which was held on Sunday, May 12, is filled with elaborate floats, costumes and performances. Afterward, a person dressed as a jester tosses stuffed animal cats from the belfry, down to the onlookers below."

From "A City With a Medieval History of Killing Cats Now Celebrates Them/Cat lovers from around the world gathered for Kattenstoet, a cat parade in Iepers, Belgium" (NYT).

I expended my second-to-last free gift link of the month on that because there are some cool and amusing photographs of the place. And there are still 10 more days — and all that Trump-trial business still remaining! Too bad! Belgians twirling in cat costumes and tourists cavorting in cat ears beat out NYT reporters informing us, moment by moment, about whether Trump's eyes are open or shut.

The Trump trial was supposed to be such a big deal, but somehow "a strange sense of anticlimax hangs over the whole affair."

As Michelle Goldberg puts it, in "The Trump Trial’s Great Anticlimax" (NYT).
In a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, only 16 percent of respondents said they were following the trial very closely, with an additional 32 percent following it “somewhat” closely. “Those numbers rank as some of the lowest for any recent news event,” wrote Yahoo News’s Andrew Romano. When people were asked how the trial made them feel, the most common response was “bored.”...

A hopeful possibility... is that a guilty verdict will come as a shock to many Americans who have checked out of the news cycle, perhaps giving them pause about putting a criminal in the White House. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

I wouldn't count on it either. People already have their idea of whether or not Trump is a criminal, and if the jury doesn't agree with them, they'll be outraged at the jury. 

"In resisting disclosure of his recordings, [Richard] Nixon lamented that they 'will be seized upon by my political and journalistic opponents.'"

"Mr. Biden has likewise justified his stonewalling by claiming that the tapes would be used 'for partisan purposes.' But fear of political consequences isn’t a legitimate basis to refuse compliance with a congressional subpoena, then or now. Finally, the administration’s justification for defying congressional subpoenas stands in uneasy contrast with its prosecution of political opponents for similar conduct. The Justice Department prosecuted Trump aides Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for criminal contempt because they refused to comply with congressional subpoenas on grounds of executive privilege.... If Nixon had to produce the tapes, so does Mr. Biden."

Writes James Burnham in "Biden, Nixon and the Hur Report/The president channels a predecessor in seeking to shield White House tapes" (Wall Street Journal).

"The drawing is prosaic, revealing asymmetrical breasts and bony middle-aged shoulders, but it also manifests a little poetry, suggesting that I’m a proud proto-crone."

Writes Sarah Thornton, quoted in "We Must Defend the Bust/Breasts are subject to capricious restrictions and contradictory norms. What would it take to set them free?" (The New Yorker). The New Yorker article is by Lauren Michele Jackson, writing about Thornton's book "Tits Up: What Sex Workers, Milk Bankers, Plastic Surgeons, Bra Designers, & Witches Tell Us About Breasts." Thornton was writing about an artist named Clarity Haynes.

This is the third appearance of the word "crone" on this blog. The first was on October 3, 2005, "Miers + cronyism," back when we were all talking about Harriet Miers: "I wonder how long it will take for someone to call Miers a 'crone.' Too sexist, you think? Clearly, you haven't read as many Mary Daly books as I have!"

May 20, 2024

At the Monday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(Photo by Meade)

"Is Gavin Newsom trying to help Donald Trump?..."

"California’s [gas] prices are the highest in the country—$5.21 a gallon on average vs. $3.59 nationwide—owing to hefty taxes and burdensome regulations, such as its cap-and-trade program and low-carbon fuel standard. The difficulty of operating refineries in the Golden State has caused many to shut down. More than 60% of the refineries that opened in California during the past 100 years are reportedly no longer operating. Econ 101 teaches that reduced supply increases prices.... California refineries supply nearly 90% of Nevada’s gasoline and half of Arizona’s. Gasoline prices in Nevada ($4.38 a gallon) and Arizona ($3.90) tend to rise in tandem with those in California....."

Writes Allysia Finley, in "Gavin Newsom’s Battleground Gift to Donald Trump/The governor’s war on gasoline will hike prices in California, but also Arizona and Nevada" (Wall Street Journal).

MTG owns her "bad-built butch body."

"Emil Bove, a defense lawyer, is suggesting that the prosecutors, in their proposed jury instructions, has shifted their theory of the case."

"It sounds like he’s talking about the state election law that underlies the felony business records charges against Trump. Justice Merchan doesn’t seem to agree, but in any case, he says, the prosecution’s proposal for jury instructions holds no weight at the moment. It is only a proposal. 'Just relax,' Merchan tells the defense lawyer, as he continues to argue. Nothing, he signals, has been determined yet. Bove continues to argue. He can tell that the judge is frustrated, but it’s clear that Bove is, too. If he believes that the prosecution changed its theory of the case in these final weeks, it would help to explain why he’s irate."

From the NYT's Live Updates of the Trump trial (free access link).

How can it still not yet be determined what law defines the crime?! 

Is it possible that Justice Merchan said "Just relax" to the defense lawyer because he knows that, in the end, he will hold the prosecution to account for failing to define the crime? I know, it's much more likely that Merchan said "Just relax" because it's irritating to listen to an agitated lawyer, even when, as here, outrage is part of his argument.

ADDED: David French addresses this problem in "The Trump Trial Is Disturbing on So Many Levels" (NYT):

"As members of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, it is our duty and ultimately privilege to be authentically and unapologetically Catholic."

"Don't be mistaken, even within the Church, people in polite Catholic circles will try to persuade you to remain silent.... Our Catholic faith has always been countercultural. Our Lord, along with countless followers, were all put to death for their adherence to her teachings. The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority. Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.... We must be intentional with our focus on our state in life and our own vocation. And for most of us, that's as married men and women.... [I] reflect on staying in my lane and focusing on my own vocation and how I can be a better father and husband and live in the world but not be of it.... It is essential that we focus on our own state in life.... Each of you has the potential to leave a legacy that transcends yourselves...."

My excerpts from that Harrison Butker commencement speech people are talking about.

But they're talking about this part, where he addresses "the ladies present today":

"The Biden Campaign, however, put out a Fake Story that I 'froze' for 30 seconds, going into the 'Musical Interlude' section..."

"... when in actuality, the 30 to 60 second period of silence is standard in every one of my Speeches where we use the Music. Check out any of my Speeches! The reason they came up with this Disinformation is that Biden freezes all the time, can’t put two sentences together, and can rarely find his way off the stage without help. Donald Trump doesn’t freeze! It is a MADE UP Biden Campaign story, put out in a dying Newspaper that I never heard of, and every Reporter knows it, including the large group that was there…."

Writes Donald Trump, at Truth Social.

I'm not sure which newspaper is the "dying" one that first put out — or "MADE UP" — the freeze story, but now, the story has become Trump's "furious rant" about it:

"Whether Alito was participating in the boycott matters, moreover, for one of the several reasons it matters why there was an upside-down American flag flying at his house on Jan. 17, 2021...."

" The New York Times reported earlier this week, and what he knew about that.... Participating in a boycott is undeniably a political statement. And there are pending cases for which participation in an anti-trans beer boycott could be seen as his having a finger on the scale of justice on the side of the anti-trans advocates supporting — and in some cases, defending — these laws such that recusal could be required...."

Writes Chris Geidner, in "Exclusive: Justice Alito sold Bud Light stock amidst anti-trans boycott effort/Alito did not respond to questions about the sale, but its timing raises fair questions — particularly in light of other recent ethical questions" (Law Dork).

Why would selling the stock reveal an anti-trans bias? If anything, it reflects a belief that the stock will go down because other people are biased. To participate in the boycott would be to decline to continue to buy Bud Light beer. There's no evidence that Alito was a Bud Light consumer. I googled Does Alito drink beer and I found this 2006 article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, "A Tiger on the Court: Sam Alito ’72 at Princeton":

"Young enthusiasts say that cultivating an air of sophistication is what separates the boys from the slightly older boys."

"Using terminology they absorb online, middle schoolers at sleepovers are discussing high-end fragrances the way that sommeliers might analyze wine.The scent Le Male by Jean Paul Gaultier has 'a really good honey note,' said Luke Benson, a 14-year-old who lives in Orlando, Fla. Tom Ford Noir Extreme, on the other hand, is 'a lot spicier and a little bit darker.' Other young scent aficionados throw around vocabulary like 'sillage,' a French term for how heavily a fragrance lingers.... Asked why middle schoolers have suddenly developed a nose for Dior, almost every teenager, researcher and merchandising expert offered the same answer: TikTok.... 'Social media and TikTok make people want to be more grown-up,' said Luke, the 14-year-old.... Some parents and teachers wonder about the appropriateness of these products for a young audience. Teenagers are especially fond of the packaging of Angels’ Share by Kilian, which resembles a glass of cognac, and Le Male, a strapping torso with wide shoulders and a bulging crotch. 'They make it so sexy,' said Ms. Glover, the middle school teacher, 'and an 11-year-old is like, I want to wear that to school.'"

A few thoughts:

May 19, 2024

Sunrise — 5:30, 5:32.



Did Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi die in a helicopter crash?

I'm seeing reports like this, from AP: "A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a 'hard landing' on Sunday, Iranian state media reported, without elaborating. Some began urging the public to pray for Raisi and the others on board as rescue crews sped through a misty, rural forest where his helicopter was believed to be."

At Al Jazeera: "Adverse weather conditions, including heavy fog, are hampering rescue efforts and the helicopter is still missing." And: "The conservative politician was a 'heavyweight' in Iranian politics, according to Mahjoob Zweiri, a professor at Qatar University." Was.

"The Trump campaign believes it can capitalize on — or foment — a backlash to the leftward march of the Twin Cities and still-fresh memories..."

"... of the unrest after the killing of George Floyd. 'Very sad what’s happened to your state,' Mr. Trump told a newscaster on the conservative website Alpha News on Thursday, attacking Minneapolis’s progressive Representative Ilhan Omar as a 'hater,' promising 'mass deportations' and vowing 'to bring back the law enforcement the way it was' before Mr. Floyd’s murder. 'Your state is out of control, and it’s this radical left philosophy that cannot be left to continue.' Recent polling has Mr. Biden clinging to a narrow lead in Minnesota, inside some polls’ margins of error. His tenuous position has been exacerbated by the war in Gaza. A protest campaign for 'uncommitted' in the Democratic presidential primary in March drew 19 percent.... Even Democrats in the state have their worries.... [Representative Dean Phillips, a Democrat who represents the affluent, educated suburbs west of Minneapolis that for years had voted Republican] said, 'I confess to have spoken to more people, and some remarkable people, who say they will vote for Trump. Many will, and many more than will admit it.'"

Hoping to put it in play? Clearly, it is in play, and Trump is forcing Biden to defend. Meanwhile, Biden must win all of the battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — just to edge out Trump in the electoral college. Trump has so many more ways to win.

The NYT has 3 articles this morning about Biden cultivating the black vote.

1."In Atlanta, Biden Warms Up His Pitch to Black Voters/The president, who is trailing key states in recent polling, tried to cast the election as a struggle for democracy itself."
President Biden... asked Black voters at two campaign events in Atlanta to see the election as a choice between protecting democracy and letting it backslide.... Mr. Biden laid out his argument to a powerful slice of the electorate that has been drifting away from him during a campaign reception on Saturday afternoon: “We cannot let this man become president. We have to win this race, not for me but for America.”
2. "Live Updates: Biden to Speak at Morehouse Graduation/The visit to the historically Black college in Georgia gives President Biden an opportunity to speak to students in a battleground state as he works to shore up support among young voters." Oh! I took to long getting to this link. It's the speech, playing live, now.
This speech so far has been mostly about Biden’s upbringing — one of a law student, public defender and single father — rather than promoting the economic achievements of the Biden administration. The White House has been focused on promoting such policy achievements to galvanize a crucial constituency of Black voters frustrated with the Biden White House....“Instead of forcing you to prove you’re 10 times better, we’re breaking down doors so you can have 100 times more opportunities,” Biden says.

3. "In His Beloved Philadelphia, Biden Faces Wariness From Black Voters/Even in the president’s favorite political stomping ground, his standing has slipped with Democrats who will be vital to a repeat victory, interviews with nearly two dozen Black voters showed."

In interviews with nearly two dozen voters in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Philadelphia this week, as well as with elected officials and strategists, signs of softness in Mr. Biden’s standing were palpable. Just eight voters said they were committed to voting for Mr. Biden, while many others were debating staying home, or, in a few cases, supporting former President Donald J. Trump. They cited concerns about immigration, the cost of living and their sense that Mr. Biden was more focused on crises abroad than on fixing problems in their neighborhoods....

Clinton Geary III, 41, an entrepreneur and organizer who works to end community violence in Philadelphia, said he would support Mr. Trump in November, his first time casting a ballot. He saw Mr. Biden as more focused on wars abroad than low-income communities domestically. “How are you going to help go to war and you can’t help feed people?” he said. He also said he was worried about the country’s influx of migrants, a theme echoed by several voters, including anti-Trump ones.

That reminds me. Over at TikTok, I keep seeing things like this:


♬ original sound - john

It's true that Trump is doing a rally in the Bronx. The NYT reported that a couple days ago, here: "Trump Plans a Campaign Event in the Deep Blue Bronx/The former president, who has sought to make some political appearances around New York as he stands criminal trial, is set to speak at an event next Thursday at Crotona Park."
The former president told donors at a Manhattan fund-raiser this week that he was planning something in the South Bronx, making a joke that he might get hurt in the neighborhood.

“We’re going to have a tremendous rally. You may never see me again,” he said, prompting laughter, according to an attendee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private event. “That could be a tricky one.”

May garden.


"Renting can be a better financial decision; owning can be a better financial decision. Too often, we simply buy because our parents told us to, and their parents told them to."

Said Ramit Sethi, author of "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," quoted in "Renting Forever and Trying to Create a Strong Financial Future/Either by choice or because they are priced out of the market, many people plan to never stop renting. Building wealth without home equity requires a different mind-set" (NYT).
Though he’s a millionaire, Mr. Sethi has rented for the last 20 years in cities like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. When he lived in Manhattan, he calculated that it would have cost him 2.2 times more per month to own than to rent. He emphasizes that your calculations have to include the phantom costs of mortgage interest, taxes and maintenance, which is often estimated at 1 to 3 percent of a home’s value. So he rented and focused on investing.... 

"RFK Jr. is radical left. He reminds me of this fly that's driving me crazy up here. This fly is brutal. I don't like flies!"

"But RFK Jr. calls you a terrorist group. You know he calls you a terrorist group."

Said Trump at the NRA convention — video.


Now I know that Trump knows the "insect politics" speech from "The Fly":
"Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. You see, I'd like to, but... I'm afraid, uh... I'm saying... I'm saying I - I'm an insect who dreamed he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake... I'm saying... I'll hurt you if you stay."

Have you ever heard of insect politics? Trump has! 

"Coppola has been unable to find a studio buyer for the movie and it’s clear why: 'Megalopolis' is likely to confuse and divide mainstream audiences."

"No two actors in this movie are on the same page about how to perform it, and the result is a mishmash of acting styles and big, misbegotten choices that had some journalists at the festival giggling in disbelief. The dialogue is either bluntly declarative or totally impenetrable, and Coppola often interrupts the action with shots of featured extras so prolonged that you can tell with certainty that you’re looking at one of the filmmaker’s relatives."

There is nothing in Megalopolis that feels like something out of a “normal” movie. It has its own logic and cadence and vernacular. The characters speak in archaic phrases and words, mixing shards of Shakespeare, Ovid, and at one point straight-up Latin. Some characters speak in rhyme, others just in high-minded prose that feels like maybe it should be in verse. At one point, Adam Driver does the entire “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet. Why? I’m not exactly sure. But it sure sounds good....

Watch out for mainstream disaffection based on the fact that this movie contains traces of Ayn Rand: