February 13, 2016

Another GOP debate.

I'm not live-blogging (nor is John tonight), but I'm watching and very interested in how they will talk about the death of Antonin Scalia.

Please comment. I'll drop in if I can (and if not, will say a few things tomorrow).

ADDED: The first question was about the vacancy left by Justice Scalia, and all of the candidates were called upon to address whether President Obama deserves to have control of the nomination. The moderator, John Dickerson, was heavy-handed enough pushing the idea of Obama's power and duty that the audience resorted to booing. As for the candidates, it was interesting. Each showed something of his personal style in addressing the question:

With the death of Scalia, "Clarence Thomas" starts trending on Twitter — full of ugly jokes.

How will the death of Antonin Scalia affect the presidential election?

I am absorbing the shock of the loss of Justice Scalia, who has been such an important figure in American constitutional law throughout the years. He was the first new Justice to come onto the Court in the time that I've been teaching. (I began in 1984, and he was nominated, by President Reagan, in 1986.) I've been reading his work for 30 years, and now there will be no more of his writings.

What will happen? I assume that it will be almost impossible for President Obama to get a nomination through the Senate. Is some compromise possible? Perhaps some old and widely respected, neutral-seeming judge or law professor? Do such beasts still roam Earth?

Is it unseemly to talk about the election? No, it is necessary. An old man has died. And he is a man who said, quite recently: "For the believing Christian, death is no big deal." The examinations of his life's work will need to be made, but I feel compelled to talk about what we are always talking about: the next election.

Both conservatives and liberals are launching furious thoughts and plans, including the plan to peg the other side as politicizing the Court and for showing its fighting spirit too soon, while the news of death is so fresh.

There's a GOP debate tonight. We'll get a first taste of how the new focus on the Supreme Court will work. Both parties' candidates are going to say their party needs to have the nomination, lest terrible things happen. Which party has the better argument that things will go awry without their person holding what must be seen as slot number 5 in what will make majority — a majority that will be either liberals or conservatives, depending on whether we get a liberal or conservative President?

The liberals have a great hunger after all these years with only 4, always needing to win over a swing vote. Imagine if they get it: No more of the endless puzzling over what Anthony Kennedy might think about this or that issue. The liberals will be 5, and all the arguments and opinions will be different.

If the conservatives get the nomination, we'll have more of the same, including the susceptibility that Justices appointed by a GOP President have to the lure of the liberal side of the Court, where a Justice can feel the love of the legal elite (as Justice Scalia loved to point out).

Will liberals overreach and show too much of a raging desire to control the Court and make it solidly liberal at long last, touching off a reaction among conservatives? Or will conservatives flare up with hostility to women's rights and gay rights and affirmative action and all the many issues that make them look too mean and ugly?

ADDED: Obama needs to figure out how to present a nominee in a way that would make the Republicans look as bad as possible if they oppose and obstruct. Even if the nominee is rejected, political progress will have been made.

I predict that candidates and their supporters in both parties will overplay their hand and get into trouble. There's no way everyone can show restraint and act neutral and dignified about the Court. It's more a matter of who self-inflicts the most harm.

"U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dead at 79."

Reported in the Chicago Tribune.

AND: "Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said."
According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body....

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Saturday afternoon, calling Scalia a man of God, a patriot and an "unwavering defender of the written Constitution." "He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Abbott said. "We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers."
ALSO: The NYT obituary by Adam Liptak. Or... I should say, the beginnings of what should be a long obituary. The NYT still has nothing on the front page, 18 minutes after I put this post up. I found the Liptak piece by searching the site. [UPDATE: There's a full obituary at the link now and a big banner headline on the front page.]

AND: From a post I did just 9 days ago:
Have you noticed the meme The next President will appoint as many as 4 Supreme Court Justices?

It seems hard to believe that there could be 4 vacancies to fill within one 4-year presidential term, and we have not seen more than 2 per term unless we go back as far as Richard Nixon. Nixon had 4 appointments, all within his first term. Consider the age of the current Justices: Justices Scalia and Kennedy will turn 80 in the next few months. Justice Ginsburg will be 83 next month, and Justice Breyer turns 78 in August.

A reader detects a Drudge juxtaposition

From yesterday (archived page here):



Get it?

Frosted tips!

That "Milo: Twitter tweeking election" link goes to a CBS Philly article: "Milo Yiannopoulos: Twitter Will Try To Sway The Presidential Election."

I don't know if "tweeking" is a misspelling of "tweaking" or a deliberate reference to the "side effect of extreme over indulgence in crystal meth or crack cocaine" or the "South Park" character (whose full name is, interestingly enough, Tweek Tweak (both spellings)):

"Surprisingly, OkCupid found that people have become more sexually conservative in certain ways."

Would You Consider Sleeping With Someone on the First Date?



"While “no” responses increased among gay and straight people of both genders, the change was biggest among gay men and straight women. The number of gay men responding 'yes' declined from 83 percent to 57 percent, while straight women dropped from 48 to 25 percent. What’s more, fewer people now say they’d date someone just for the sex. In 2005, 49 percent of OkCupid users said they would, while last year just 41 percent did. The number of people who said love was more interesting to them than sex at the moment remained unchanged, at 75 percent."

From "How OKCupid Users' Views of Sex Have Changed Since 2005/A new report from the company finds that American daters are growing more traditional in some ways, and more open-minded in others" in The Atlantic.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mingus Jerry said:
The OKCupid users that were in it for the sex simply moved over to Tinder instead.  
Similarly, Henry (upthread) said:
The article fails to mention competing services that have grown in popularity in the last ten years, some of which promote hookups more aggressively. The change must just as likely indicate shifting markets as shifting mores.

Madeleine Albright says you might think she knows better than "to tell a large number of women to go to hell."

"But last Saturday, in the excitement of a campaign event for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, that is essentially what I did, when I delivered a line I have uttered a thousand times to applause, nodding heads and laughter: 'There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.' It is a phrase I first used almost 25 years ago, when I was the United States ambassador to the United Nations and worked closely with the six other female U.N. ambassadors. But this time, to my surprise, it went viral."

What does "the excitement of a campaign event for Hillary Clinton" have to do with it? She didn't blurt out something unusual in a moment of excitement. She repeated an old line that had worked over and over before audiences where people have nodded, applauded, and laughed. It was tested and true.

The op-ed, in the NYT, is titled "My Undiplomatic Moment." But how is a line "uttered a thousand times" characterizable as a "moment"? How can Albright portray it as a momentary deviation within a long career, when she's been saying it consistently?
I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line. 
But all those other times were appropriate, because the audience gave her a warm reception? She set the heads nodding, the ladies chuckling. Pivoting from her nonexplanation for her go-to-hell gaffe, Albright proceeds to get back to condescending to young women:
And while young women may not want to hear anything more from this aging feminist, I feel it is important to speak to women coming of age at a time when a viable female presidential candidate, once inconceivable, is a reality.
When was it inconceivable? It was certainly always conceivable to me. I was born in 1951 and grew up hearing that Margaret Chase Smith could be President. Maybe I'm not picking up the inconceivable/reality distinction.



[In the comments, rhhardin calls attention to the 2 abortion-related words in "a viable female presidential candidate, once inconceivable, is a reality." Within that metaphor, if Hillary is viable, then it's too late to abort her.]

Albright moves on to her concern about "the tone of the debate." Not her tone, telling women who don't support Hillary that there's a special place in Hell for them, but the tone those of other people. What's wrong with the tone? Here, she — absurdly — has nothing. She just muses that people are "complacent" about the gains women have made and that we need "an informed dialogue that crosses generations."

Albright badly embarrassed herself and lacks the skill and grace to talk her way into a good light.  It makes me want to go back and review what she achieved for us as Secretary of State (other than being the first female Secretary of State).

"Appearing on America's favorite quiz show—the show so staid and reliable that John Oliver quipped at last year's Emmys that it might just be the most permanent fixture on earth..."

"... can make female contestants feel that they are running a sexualized gauntlet of unwelcome tweets, emails, and Facebook messages replete with explicit sexual material. I know, because I was one of them."
When I taped the show in August, I knew I'd bombed and tried to salvage it with a joke. I wasn't prepared for that joke—a reference to "Turd Ferguson" from the old Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy! Sketches—to go viral when the show aired in September. Twitter chatter during the game led to an article on Uproxx, then more and more elsewhere, and a YouTube video whose views ballooned into the millions in the following days. The experience of going viral is brief but intense. It had the peculiar urgency of a dream—especially when I started reading the comments....

The unsung heroes: the trimmers.

I got some email from a reader named Jim about my recent post that quotes Camille Paglia impugning Hillary Clinton as "a time-server and trimmer." He says he'd never seen "'trimmer' used to describe a person (except in the very literal sense of yacht crew)" other than in a book by Harry Crosby, “A Wing and a Prayer: The 'Bloody 100th' Bomb Group of the U.S. Eighth Air Force in Action over Europe in World War II”:





Jim observes that this use is "positive, acknowledging the importance of people who do their jobs diligently."
Camille P used the term pejoratively, but only mildly so, in the sense that merely being good at your job doesn't qualify you to be the boss. Or so I read things. I don't think she meant anything more harsh, though one or two of your other commenters took her meaning to be someone who shifted with the winds.
In his email responding to my request to quote him, Jim added: "I never forgot that reference as a testament to the unsung heroes who keep the world running well." (He also recommends the book, saying "an aviation book written by a navigator appealed to me since I'm a former naval flight officer.")

"Over the years, Mrs. Clinton has shown an unfortunate tendency to oscillate between harshness and compassion on immigration questions."

"She seems to reach instinctively for the tougher-sounding policy before coming around, eventually, to positions that more closely reflect American ideals of welcome — ideals that Mr. Sanders voiced fluently on Thursday night."

From a NYT editorial, "Mrs. Clinton’s Mixed Immigration Message."

Ironically, Mrs. Clinton is closely reflecting American ideals. These ideals are mixed and not unalloyed welcome. Americas do endlessly oscillate between harshness and compassion. I can see finding Clinton's instincts unpleasantly complicated and unbeautiful, but these instincts are also our own.

The analogy that springs to my mind is LBJ looking at a portrait of himself and condemning it as "the ugliest thing I ever saw."



By the way, here's a 2004 clip of Hillary Clinton staunchly defending marriage as a sacred bond between a man and a woman:



This is a certain kind of politician. LBJ was that kind. Can we give the trimmers some respect?

Trimmers? Remember Camille Paglia used that word to insult Hillary Clinton? I've got to do a separate post about "trimmers" as a pejorative and how it can be seen as a positive. After I called attention to Paglia's use of the word, I got some excellent email on that topic. But let me take that up in a separate post.

"As a Mexican-American, I can tell you... don’t be surprised to hear more about a new meme: 'Latinos for Trump.'"

Writes Ruben Navarette Jr. in The Daily Beast: "No Joke: Trump Can Win Plenty of Latino."
[W]hile Latinos haven’t forgotten what Trump said about Mexican immigrants being criminals and rapists, and how he wants to deport 11 million people, they have begun to put such comments in the context of a candidate who, it often seems, has offended just about everyone in this country.

"Long guarded by aides vigilantly limiting his exposure, Rubio has abruptly morphed into a freewheeling raconteur..."

"... in front of a press pack that he has kept at a distance since launching his presidential run last April."

Writes Sean Sullivan in WaPo, theorizing (aptly) that Rubio is desperate to undo the framing Chris Christie imposed on him in the last debate. He's got to prove he's not scripted and robotic.

This could be very funny. It's like the set-up in a sit-com. In the next episode of Rules for Rubio, Marco, earnestly making a point, repeats one phrase 4 times, causing his friends to mock him as "robotic." Determined to prove that he's not robotic, Marco decides to abruptly morph into The Freewheeling Raconteur:
MARCO: Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I did everything they told me to do and it came out so wrong.

ADVISER: Well, here's your chance to try the opposite. Instead of repeating all those talking points you learned, say something you just think up right there on the spot, something right from your actual brain.

MARCO: Yes! I will think of ideas, using my own brain, sending thoughts straight out of my mouth. Spontaneous! I'm not a robot, I'm a man. I'm a freewheeling raconteur!
But if it were a sitcom, Rubio would get into much wilder trouble, saying the wrong things. In Sullivan's article, there's really very little to support the "freewheeling raconteur" characterization. I'm willing to believe that Rubio's manner seemed different to the reporters who spend hours and hours traveling about with him, but where are the funny quotes? Yes, he said something about the coldness and hardness of Twix bars and there's that "pussy" conversation we talked about yesterday, but this reader can't see the abrupt morphing into freewheeling raconteur I read about in the opening paragraphs.

It's like Sullivan made me DVR an episode of Rules for Rubio and it really wasn't that funny.

C-SPAN host demonstrates the C-SPAN straight-face protocol, to be deployed when a serious caller turns out to be a joker.

The man's ostensible topic is why I support Donald Trump:

"Suddenly, it was the secularists who seemed stodgy: racist, authoritarian, élitist..."

"The Times started referring to them as 'the secular elite.' In 2007, the Times reported that a protest of the A.K.P. by hundreds of thousands of Turkish secularists was motivated in part by a 'fear' of the life styles of their more religious compatriots—by 'snobbish' complaints that 'religious Turks were uneducated and poor' and that 'their pesky prayer rugs got underfoot in hospital halls.' It’s difficult to imagine the Times reporting in an equally condescending manner about the élitism of Americans who oppose the Christian right."

From "Cover Story/The head scarf, modern Turkey, and me," by Elif Batuman in The New Yorker. As for head scarves, here's a conversation the author (who is the American daughter of Turkish immigrants) had with a cab driver in Istanbul (she was his sole passenger):
[O]nce, when a driver pressed me particularly jovially for an opinion, I said something like “I think all women should be respected. It shouldn’t depend on their hair.”

The driver replied that I was absolutely right, that of course women should be respected, and that the head scarf was the best way for women to remind men of this necessity for respect. Men, after all, were worse than women: they could sometimes forget themselves, and then unfortunate things could happen, “even”—he said in a hushed voice, adding that he didn’t like to mention such things in front of me—“even rape.”

I replied, in my simplistic Turkish, that to me this sounded like a threat: either cover your head or rape can happen. The driver protested in ornate phrases that nobody was threatening anyone, that to speak of threats in this situation was unfitting, that he could tell from my smiling face that I was a good and trusting person, but that the world was an imperfect place, that some men were less like humans than like animals, and that it was best to send clear signals about what one was or wasn’t looking for.....
Later, she describes her experience walking through Urfa after accidentally leaving on a head scarf that she kept with her to wear when she visited religious sites that women cannot enter without wearing a head scarf:
[W]alking through the city with a head scarf was a completely different experience. People were so much nicer. Nobody looked away when I approached. I felt less jostled; men seemed to step aside, to give me more room. When I went into a store, a man held the door for me, and I realized that it was the first time anyone had reached a door before me without going in first and letting it shut in my face. Most incredibly, when I got to a bus stop shortly after the bus had pulled away, the departing vehicle stopped in the middle of the street, the door opened, and a man reached out his hand to help me in, calling me “sister.” It felt amazing. To feel so welcomed and accepted and safe, to be able to look into someone’s face and smile, and have the smile returned—it was a wonderful gift....
Batuman gave some thought to wearing the head scarf all the time in Turkey. It's all communication, and failure to wear it communicated something she didn't mean to say to the people around her — perhaps that "I disapproved of them and thought their way of life was backward." So why not wear the head scarf, not just to make her experience easier, but also to make "the people who lived here feel so much better"? If they are poor and working people, and she is elite and privileged, shouldn't she adopt their form of expression? She wears high heels — which are more burdensome than a head scarf — to business meetings in NYC in order to get better respect from the people there. Why suck up to those elites and not to the common people in Turkey? She thinks of the answer: Because "it felt dishonest, almost shameful, as if I were duping people into being kind to me." We're left to infer the what that means about the heels in NYC. I think it's: But there's nothing dishonest or shameful about duping privileged people at business meetings in NYC.

Much more at the link. Read the whole thing. You don't know where it goes. In fact, I don't know where it goes. I stopped to write this blog post when I was only 2/3 of the way through. I decided to write this blog post when I was only 1/4 of the way through — that is, when I read the material about how Western elites notice elite condescension to working class, foreign Muslims but not the equivalent condescension to working class American Christians.

February 12, 2016

"My boys wanted to know, 'What was the word? What was the word?' I said, 'I can’t tell you.' I had to make something up."

Said Marco Rubio, quoted in a NYT article titled "Bruised Marco Rubio Gets Personal and Aggressive," which says:
Mr. Rubio expressed disgust with Mr. Trump’s use of obscene language earlier this week, describing how his two young sons had watched a news clip of Mr. Trump insulting Senator Ted Cruz on the eve of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Does the newspaper have to go all in with the drama? "Obscene language"?! The word was "pussy," and Donald Trump didn't even really use it — if we observe the use-mention distinction — because he was quoting someone else (and even chiding that person, saying he never wants to hear that word from her again).

This is ridiculous drama. When you call someone a "pussy" to mean that they are timid, you are referring to the little animal, the kitty cat. It's like calling someone a mouse. It shouldn't even be regarded as a bad word. It's true that "pussy" can be used to refer to a woman's genitalia, but so can "box" and "snatch." As George Carlin said in his famous "Seven Dirty Words" routine:
Now the word twat is an interesting word. Twat! Yeh, right in the twat. Twat is an interesting word because it's the only one I know of, the only slang word applying to the, a part of the sexual anatomy that doesn't have another meaning to it. Like, ah, snatch, box and pussy all have other meanings, man. Even in a Walt Disney movie, you can say, We're going to snatch that pussy and put him in a box and bring him on the airplane.  Everybody loves it. The twat stands alone, man, as it should.
Now, when Donald Trump calls somebody a twat, let me know. In public, I mean. And I'll show a brief flutter of outrage. In private, they're all free to call each other twats. And pricks. Because I'm for gender equality.

Bonus George Carlin joke: "Yes, you can prick your finger, but don't finger your prick. No, no."

And by the way, this post gets the civility bullshit tag. I hope you understand the restrictive use of the civility bullshit tag. It's for political speech calling for more civility. My working theory is it's always bullshit. In this case, with Rubio, it obviously is. I'm also giving this my using children in politics tag. I don't like it.

"There is no political architecture that will convince any Sunni over the age of 3 that he or she has a future with the Iraqi state."

"The administration is trying to use a limited military weapon to defeat an adversary that only a political offensive can overcome, and we’re not willing or able to make that effort."

Said Ryan C. Crocker, a former American ambassador to Iraq, quoted in "Sunni Resentment Muddles Prospect of Reunifying Iraq After ISIS" (in the NYT).
Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, worried that military gains in Iraq without political overhauls would be counterproductive. “At some point, they make things worse,” he said....

Mr. Crocker... said he had given up hope that the Obama administration would become more deeply engaged in seeking a political accommodation between Iraq’s factions. But he and Mr. Pollack, along with other experts on Iraq, have joined a task force organized by the Atlantic Council, a research organization based in Washington, that will make policy proposals on Iraq to the next administration.

“Unfortunately, that’s 11 months away,” he said. “The Islamic State rose because of a political vacuum,” he noted. “It wasn’t a military success but a political failure that allowed it to take hold.”

"No one else could make this work, and there will be plenty of people who say she should be listed among those who tried and failed..."

"... but this, to us, is the essence of Tildaism."

Top-rated comment: "David Bowie may be gone but hopefully we'll always have St. Tilda."

OK Go video of the day: "I Won't Let You Down."



After yesterday's post — embedding OK Go's "Upside Down & Inside Out" — my son John emailed me links to 2 other OK Go videos, the first of which is to the one you see above, which is immensely entertaining. Keep watching, as different things happen, and if you're emotionally like me, you'll be exclaiming in amazement at various points and profoundly moved by the beauty of the ending. And if you're as old as I am, you might, at a certain point, say aloud, as I did: "June Taylor Dancers!" And if you indulged in MTV in the 1980s, as I did, the audio might take you back to Scritti Politti:

Cruz campaign practices the withdrawal method on an ad with an actress who's done porn movies.

Here's the Cruz ad:



If I had to guess what was supposedly so offensive about that, I'd say they were making fun of people with substance abuse problems. Maybe recovery therapy sessions are supposed to be looked upon with empathy. The support group must be supported.

But no, the female in the little drama — about people seeking treatment for their addiction to Marco Rubio — was discovered to have done "soft-core pornography."
The woman, Amy Lindsay, as first reported by BuzzFeed, has appeared in multiple movies with titles like “Carnal Wishes,” “Insatiable Desires” and “Private Sex Club.” Ms. Lindsay told BuzzFeed that she was a Christian conservative and a Republican, deciding between supporting Mr. Cruz or Donald J. Trump....
She applied for the acting job through the normal process and got hired. Then she was rejected because the campaign is embarrassed by the jobs she's taken in the past and their own failure to do a background check commensurate with their potential for embarrassment.

I hope the Trump campaign figures out a way to embrace this woman, who is, we're told, deciding between Cruz and Trump. Cruz — who's running another ad about how mean Trump was to an old woman who wanted to keep her house and not lose it to eminent domain — would have denied a job to a woman who's struggled in the acting industry. Here's that Cruz ad about Trump's oppression of the female homeowner:



I'd like to see an ad, copying that presentation, putting Cruz in exactly the same negative light, oppressing the ex-porn actress. I'm not saying the Trump campaign should do it. I'd just like to see it, because there are those of us who will empathize with a woman who's treated as toxic because she took a sex-related job at some point, and there are those of us who don't want to give big political power to someone who's excessively censorious about sexual expression.

ADDED: Original Mike said: "Oh, for crying out loud, Cruz. I thought you believed in redemption."

Yes, that's what I thought when Meade told me about it. I said: "Not very Christian of him."

Citation: John 7:53-8:11.

Go, and do not sin again.

Hillary Clinton delivers a "low blow" to Bernie Sanders.



"Low blow" is his term.

ADDED: Here's the text of that clip:

Did Scott Walker just endorse Donald Trump?

The headline in the Wisconsin State Journal is "Scott Walker says Republicans could win Wisconsin with Donald Trump."

But Walker seems to have just been responding to reporters who were on the scene in Wisconsin last night to cover the Democratic candidates' debate and looking for insight into which candidates might do well in Wisconsin. The Democratic candidate has taken Wisconsin in every election in the last 30 years. You have to go back to Ronald Reagan to get a GOP winner. So who cares about Wisconsin? But the governor is Republican and both houses of the legislature are Republican. What's keeping a Republican from winning Wisconsin?

Walker did say he thought Trump could win Wisconsin — but couldn't Kasich? couldn't Bush? couldn't Rubio? I don't understand the context. Why single out Trump? Is there some thought that we the people of Wisconsin could take a special liking to the mogul with the New York accent? I would think a pleasant midwestern-y guy like Kasich would suit us better.
“There’s no doubt it will be a challenge,” Walker told reporters.... Walker noted some of the other candidates are faring better against Clinton in the polls than Trump, but he also said polls can go up and down.
I'm guessing the context was that Trump would be a harder sell in Wisconsin than Kasich, Bush, or Rubio. 
He emphasized turnout will also be a factor, especially if Sanders supporters aren’t happy about the nomination process.

“If, in the end, Hillary Clinton prevails, but a lot of particularly young voters feel disenfranchised because of the whole superdelegate process, they may not vote for a Republican, but they may vote for a third party or not vote at all,” Walker said.
That's the old conventional wisdom about low turnout helping the GOP applied to the scenario in which Democrats got passionate about a candidate who they think was cheated out of the nomination.

Walker said he was "glad the Republicans don’t have something like (superdelegates) so that it’s really reflective of how people vote in the respective state." Trump won big in NH and got a corresponding number of delegates. Sanders won big in NH and, because of superdelegates, Hillary seems to be getting the same total. The superdelegate approach was designed to control the effect of an upstart outsider like Sanders/Trump. So if, in the end, Trump gets through and Sanders does not, how will people vote? That seems to be what Walker was talking about. Republicans will probably end up with Trump, because of the nature of their process, and won't that be challenging, given that the Democrats have built moderation into their process and will likely succeed in putting up their normal-seeming candidate.
Walker has not endorsed a candidate for president, but he has not ruled out doing so before the April 5 Wisconsin primary. Walker and Trump clashed in the final debate before the governor dropped out of the race on Sept. 21. In his speech announcing that he would be ending his campaign, Walker said he had been called to lead by clearing the field “so a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to do the same so that voters can focus on the limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” Walker said at the time.
So, I assume Walker is absolutely not endorsing Trump. I infer that he wants one of the normal-seeming Republicans to go up against normal-seeming Hillary. And then the Republicans win because everyone's bored and alienated, and it's a low turnout, the dreary condition that gets us another Republican President. And life will go on as usual. We'll have our normalcy.

"He did emit smoke from the vaporizer," said DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about the Congressman who vaped during the hearing...

... on the markup of Norton’s amendment to the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act, which would treat vaping on airplanes the same as smoking. 

The vaping Congressman, Duncan Hunter (of California), said: "There’s no smoke in this. No carcinogens. It’s vapor. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment."

The airlines are already forbidding vaping on planes, but it's not illegal. Holmes Norton is pushing to make it illegal on top of the fact that you already can't do it. Because you ought to have it rubbed in how much you can't do it. Or... the airlines need to be blocked from competing by offering different conditions giving customers a choice. As if that's on the horizon. Some airlines might want to distinguish themselves as the flights where you can vape and create the illusion that smoking is going on, as in olden times. Fly the vapored skies of United.

It could happen, so make a law against it before it does.

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) exemplified the level of thought Congress is putting into its new rule: "I don’t want to sit next to someone making these clouds of vapor. I can imagine the passenger rage. We don’t want people talking on cell phones because it starts fights. We don’t want people vaping because flight attendants have enough to deal with. Duncan is free to wear a patch during the flight."

Follow the DeFazio logic and make a list of everything that people are now free to do that if done on a plane will stress out somebody else, including somebody who's sensitive and gets the facts and the science wrong, because that person might crank up into a rage and cause more trouble for the flight attendants. Make all those things illegal. 

February 11, 2016

Sorry, I can't put up with the debate... even though it's happening in Wisconsin.

It seems so repetitious! The American economy is rigged... top 1%... free tuition....

But I see my son John is carrying on the old live-blogging tradition, so I highly recommend that.

AND: That was a bald-faced lie when she said she wasn't asking us to vote for her because she's a woman. I was walking away from the TV and the computer, but I had to come back to take note of that. Now that I'm here, I'll add that I liked what Bernie Sanders said when he was asked how he felt about standing in the way of a first woman President. He said that if he won, considering who he is, it would also be historic. He didn't specify why. He didn't say "first Jewish President" or "socialist!" It's up to us to fill in why.

"What is the difference between hair and fur?"

Answer: "Hair and fur are the same thing."
SA: Why is it then that, for example, my dog's fur is three inches long and it never seems to grow longer, while my own hair keeps growing and growing?

NS: Actually, a lot of types of human hair won't keep growing and growing. The normal length of the hair is an individual and species specific trait. So across the breadth of mammals, there are many norms for hair length, or fur length....

SA: Is a whisker a special kind of hair?

NS: Yes, it is. There are many different kinds of modified hairs to which we give different names. A porcupines quills are greatly enlarged hairs. Whiskers are hairs that work as sensory receptors. There's a strange animal from the Old World called a pangolin, which has these scaly plates that cover most of its body those are modified hairs.
Tree Pangolin.JPG
By Valerius Tygart - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

I can't believe this is an official Ted Cruz ad.



It really disturbs me to see children used like that. I know the idea is that adults are behaving in a way that we wouldn't accept from children, but I had a hard time understanding what the children were saying and doing that was supposed to represent something Donald Trump is doing. I found it very creepy to see young children guffawing at the idea that someone was claiming to be a Republican when, in fact, he didn't act like Republican. What little kid could find that amusing? My heart hurt for the children, and I have no clarity on the intended message.

Watch this: OK Go "Upside Down & Inside Out" — and maybe like me you'll be laughing by the end.

OK Go - Upside Down & Inside Out

Hello, Dear Ones. Please enjoy our new video for "Upside Down & Inside Out". A million thanks to S7 Airlines. #GravitysJustAHabit

Posted by OK Go on Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Was that a meteor?! Did you see that?"

I asked last Saturday evening after Meade and I saw a spectacular light streak across the northern sky, east to west.

Reader MadisonMan checked to see if the UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center rooftop webcams had caught it, and isn't it cool that they caught the view we saw:



So there! A meteor! Beautiful!

"Well look, I know Al Sharpton better than I know you and I dealt with him for years and years and years and you know when he’s not political he says oh I love Donald Trump, I love Donald Trump..."

"... but I will say – in fact, he came up to my office not so long ago to apologize because on his show, which is now off the air which is a fortunate thing, he called me a racist and he came up, he literally came up to my office and he apologized to me, which, by the way I thought was very nice... You know Al is just doing his thing, Bill. He does his thing, we all do our own thing, he was doing his thing and he continues to do it."

"Steinem’s polished humanitarian mask had slipped, revealing the mummified fascist within."

Camille Paglia is weighing in on the recent feminism cataclysm.
I’m sure that my delight was shared by other dissident feminists everywhere....
Indeed!

As for Madeleine Albright, who said "There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women," Paglia says: "Waspishly policing the earth was evidently insufficient for the feminist politburo, who are now barging into the salvation and damnation game."

Oh, that reminds me of something a commenter — tshanks78 said — yesterday as I noted the way we don't see Bernie Sanders making equivalent "first Jewish President" arguments: "Is there a special place in hell for Jews that don't support Bernie Sanders?"

Back to Paglia:
Yes, [Hillary's] been handed job after job, but primarily due to her very unfeminist association with a man. As a senator, she initiated nothing of substance, and as Secretary of State, she stumbled into one disastrous fiasco after another, escalating the destabilization of North Africa and the Mideast.
And she was handed an unopposed path to the Democratic Party nomination. Why?! She lost to Obama. She never proved she had what it takes to be a dominating campaigner. Everyone just cleared out of her way. But some old man had the nerve to step into the path and prove the inanity of the everyone else's deference to the ex-President's wife.
Hillary Clinton, in contrast, is a time-server and trimmer who cynically panders to every audience and who shuffles through policy positions like playing cards.
A trimmer.  That's a rather British word, meaning someone who "inclines to each of two opposite sides as interest dictates," according to the OED, which attributes this usage "to Lord Halifax and those associated with him (1680–90), but by him accepted in the sense ‘one who keeps even the ship of state’; hence ‘one who changes sides to balance parties’ (Johnson)." Example from 1682: "A Trimmer, one neither Whigg nor Tory, is a Hater of Anti-christ, an Abominator of Enthusiasm."

Paglia wonders how Hillary ever got to be thought of as "a feminist icon." As for Gloria Steinem:
It was precisely because of the borderline lunacy of so many of those women [feminists, circa 1970] that I became a fan of Gloria Steinem from the moment she appeared on the national scene.

With her chic aviator shades, hip-huggers, and flowing, streaked-blonde hair, the telegenic Steinem normalized the public image of feminism and made it palatable to a vast mainstream. She projected steadiness and cordiality and presented feminist goals as utterly reasonable....
Former fandom renders Paglia, in her own eyes, an apt critic. Steinem resorted to "male-bashing." She alienated women who stayed home with their children and those who maintained a moral objection to abortion. She "and the leaders of the National Organization for Women... became backstage secret agents for the Democratic party," notably giving "Bill Clinton a free pass for his gross violation of fundamental sexual harassment principle." And Steinem denounced Paglia's magnum opus "Sexual Personae," comparing it to "Mein Kampf."
For nearly 25 years, Hillary Clinton, with her simmering subtext of contemptuous bitterness about men, has been pushed along and protected by a host of powerful women journalists in print and TV, Steinem chums or sympathizers who have a lot to answer for.

"Remember, my Rubio prediction was 100% wrong. That is objectively true. No wiggle room at all."

"Now watch me describe my wrong prediction as being more right than wrong. I do this for entertainment, and to make the point that you can force any data to fit the past if you try hard enough. I’ll do that for you now...."

Said the very entertaining Scott Adams.

ADDED: From another recent post (with a fascinating chart):
... I don’t believe our brains evolved to give us truth. Our brains evolved to create little movies in which we get to be the stars. And we can view our movies through many filters with no preference for which filter is the “right” one.

For example, Ted Cruz and Richard Dawkins believe totally different things about reality and yet both can use an ATM, shop at a store, and procreate. So your filter on reality need not be related to any actual underlying reality in order to keep you alive. It just has to NOT kill you.
That can't be true... by its own terms. But, boy, does it feel true! And, therefore, it's... true/not true.

A barber tells about about the time Justice Scalia stopped in for a haircut.



At Lovers Lane Barbers, near Southern Methodist University, a couple weeks ago.

"He sat on my chair, and I was trying to think how in the world am I going to cut his hair and what in the world am I going to say to him?... He had quite a bit of hair. Yes, he did. Well, he didn't have that much on top, but he had a lot in the back and the sides... I was honestly just trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with his hair.... I'd just probably fall over dead here."

Greetings from the land of "The Communist Manifesto."



There's that, somewhere in the lower depths of a Washington Post "Wonkblog" item titled, absurdly "What Ivy League students are reading that you aren’t." It begins:
If you want an Ivy League education, you could fork over $200 grand or so and go to Cornell or Harvard for four years. Alternatively, you could save a ton of cash by simply reading the same books Ivy League students are assigned.

That became easier recently with the release of the Open Syllabus Explorer, an online database of books assigned in over 1 million college courses over the past decade or so....
It's silly to suggest that reading the same books that are read in a college course would give you the same thing as a class where those books are read. The access to data here, though, is great. The maps and lists, however amusing, are a depiction of evidence that needs some explanation. (Especially for Florida!)

I'm sure "Communist Manifesto" is so prevalent because it fits in a place in a standard course and there's no competition for the slot it fills. As for "Elements of Style," it's a slim pamphlet that can (and probably should) be thrown at everybody.

When you get to works of fiction and see the dominance of "Frankenstein," you'll have your ideas about why that's taken on ridiculous importance over the years. I'm sure it does say something about Ivy League schools that "Frankenstein" is only 10th on their list when it's #1 on the "All Schools" list, but once you move everybody's favorite woman-written work into a more subordinate position, you'll see the usual line-up of "Canterbury Tales," "Paradise Lost," "Heart of Darkness," and "Hamlet."

The differences aren't so much in which books you read, it's what you talk about after you've read them. I assume! I haven't been in college in decades, but I know law school. We all read Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland, but what's happening in those in-class discussions and what are you expected to be able to write about them?

Watch out for the floor.

My advice after fooling with the FlowingData chart displaying data about people injuring themselves — over the course of the year — on various things.

Why are people more persuasive when they use language like “it could be the case”?

I'm reading "How to change someone’s mind, according to science," by Ana Swanson in WaPo:
A new paper from researchers at Cornell University sheds some light on how and why people are convinced to change their minds. The researchers analyzed nearly two years of postings on ChangeMyView, a forum on the internet community reddit where posters present an argument and invite people to reason against them....

Surprisingly, they find that hedging – using language like “it could be the case” – is actually associated with more persuasive arguments. While hedging can signal a weaker point of view, the researchers say that it can also make an argument easier to accept by softening its tone....
Via my son John at Facebook, where I comment:
I think the reason language like “it could be the case” is more persuasive (if it is) isn't so much that it's "softer," but that it establishes your credibility and your concern about accuracy. You're not acting like you know what you don't or can't know. You're showing that you are still in a process of gathering ideas and sorting them out. You're a living mind, not walking propaganda. You're also signaling that you respect the other person's mind and that you want to be in a relationship with them, examining ideas together. That's probably something people want even more than the particular ideas they happen to have in their possession at any given time.

February 10, 2016

Dog questions.

1. Should I pick a particular breed because I thought of a name that's specific to the breed? I'm thinking of a pug named Nate, which would be the nickname for Nacius, which seems Roman, based on pug Nacius, for pugnacious.

2. Should I pick a dog because I had a dream about a pug who said "I love you," and when I searched the web, I found this:

"Bill Maher Pens Blistering Essay on Hillary as 'Charlie Brown,' Trump and Why Bernie Sanders, Socialist, Can Win."

That's a funny, meta title for an essay by Bill Maher.

He begins:
It's finally a "Bill Maher election." And by that I mean it's a year of new rules — to borrow from Real Time — largely rewritten by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. No one thought a politician could survive, much less stay in the lead for as long as Trump has, based on a campaign of braggadocio and utter contempt for political correctness. But the younger generation is leading a movement to prize authenticity above all. Trump is a petulant child, but at least that's real, they seem to be saying. Bernie, too, is as real as real gets. (So real he doesn't even own a comb.)...
ADDED: You might not have wanted to wade through that much Bill Maher. It's in rant mode, obviously, necessarily. It's Bill Maher. Political comedians seem to need to use this mode. So let me pull out the part where he pretty much agrees with Trump — after a few disclaimers — on the subject of the Syrian refugees:
Forty countries in the world have some version of Sharia law. I just don't understand how liberals who fought the battle for civil rights in the '60s, fought against apartheid in the '80s, can then just simply ignore Sharia law in 40 countries. Apartheid was only in one. I am not anti-Muslim and never have been: I am anti-bad ideas. Killing cartoonists and apostates, these are terrible ideas and practices, and it would be lovely to think that they were confined only to terrorists. They unfortunately are not.

Not to be an "I told ya so," but when the Syrian refugee crisis happened, I said, "Certainly our hearts go out to these refugees, but the answer can't be to empty Syria and every other country in the Middle East where people live under repressive conditions and bring them all to Europe." Now Sweden is sending 80,000 refugees back and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is saying, "Hey, when we said you could come here, we didn't mean permanently."

Rather than letting them settle in Germany, these millions of young Muslim men, how about let's train them to go back and fight for their own country? That’s another one of my issues — the soft bigotry of low expectations. How come Saudi Arabia didn't take in any Syrian refugees? I would think they’d fit in there a little more than in Cologne. Why don't they fight their own battles? Why are Muslim armies so useless against ISIS? ISIS isn't 10 feet tall. There are 20,000 or 30,000 of them. The countries surrounding ISIS have armies totaling 5 million people. So why do we have to be the ones leading the fight? Or be in the fight at all?

So no, Donald Trump is not right — but he will win the election if the American people have to choose between his demagoguery and a party that won't even say the words "Islamic terrorism." I think the Democrats could lose on that issue alone, especially if there's another attack.
And by the way — as Trump says when he segues to his next thought — doesn't Maher's flow of ideas resemble Trump's approach to campaign oration. Trump — who's been on TV a lot — does comedy some of the time... much of the time. He has great comic timing, and part of the timing is choosing when to dip into comedy, when to go all in and when to be ambiguously serio-comic. People who like him go with the flow and enjoy it. Maybe they enjoy the daring things he gets to say, maybe they're comfortable with ambiguity, and maybe they agree with even the most extreme things. It's complicated. It's unexpected. It's entertainment. Those who hate Trump have a lower panic point: The President can't be a comedian! Or they don't like Trump's political bent, wouldn't like it even if the style was conventional, and they hate to see the conservative side finding a way to win. 

The NYT detects "a familiar mixture of celebration and anxiety among Jews in the United States and abroad" as Bernie Sanders becomes "the first Jewish candidate in history to win a presidential primary election."

It's "As Bernie Sanders Makes History, Jews Wonder What It Means," by Nicholas Confessore.
While Mr. Sanders was raised Jewish and even spent time on an Israeli kibbutz in the 1960s, he has been muted in his own embrace of the faith.... The Israeli paper Haaretz noted that Mr. Sanders often refers to himself as the son of a Polish immigrant, rather than a Jewish immigrant. “The Jewish establishment has a hard time considering him one of its own,” the paper observed.

Another Haaretz commentator, Chemi Shalev, worried that Mr. Sanders’ victory, and his firebrand liberal politics, would stoke anti-Semitism: “More than any other Democratic candidate, Sanders fits the bill of the G.O.P.’s favorite Jewish bogeyman, Saul Alinsky”....
Why do we have this idea that a candidate should forefront his ethnic or religious identity? I'd rather assume that Bernie Sanders is getting it right, presenting himself as an individual and not making much of his identity in a particular group. I'd rather call into question why other candidates try to gain by calling attention to their group identity. Hillary Clinton has been milking her status as a female like mad, even shaming those of us who are in this group — that is, the majority of Amercan voters.

I mean, just imagine Bernie pushing the "first Jewish President" theme as hard as Hillary pushes "first woman President." I'd like to see a SNL skit with Larry David running with that scenario. Here's a piece from a few days ago in The Washington Post, "Clinton looks to sisterhood, but votes may go to Sanders":
"Clinton’s struggles with women underscore the extent to which she has not yet figured out how to harness the history-making potential of her candidacy in the same way that Barack Obama mobilized minorities and white liberals excited about electing the first black president."
But Obama didn't go around talking about it. He presented himself and we, the voters, thought about it on our own. If he'd talked about the prospect of becoming the first black President half as much as Hillary talks about becoming the first woman President, things would not have unfolded the way they did. We're properly defensive to the verbalized argument that a group-based first is something to strain after. It has to be a good feeling that arises from within, out of a real sense of good will and promise. The hard sell stimulates our resistance to the huckster.

Christie is dropping out.

They say.

UPDATE: Christie is out, and so is Fiorina.

"The humor website Funny or Die on Wednesday began streaming a 50-minute comedy that finds [Johnny] Depp portraying [Donald Trump,] the businessman turned politician, full-blown comb-over and all."

"Kept a secret for months — no small task in Hollywood — 'Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie' was released to coincide with Mr. Trump’s victory on Tuesday in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.

"Funny or Die Made a Trump Biopic, Starring Johnny Depp."

I watched a couple minutes, and Depp seemed to be trying hard and getting at least some things right. I had to stop, partly because I'm not that interested and mostly because I'm too busy to sit around watching something for 50 minutes.

IN THE COMMENTS: Nonapod said:
Weirdly I think that Trump is probably more difficult to satire and have it be really funny and interesting. Let's face it, the real Trump is already pretty ridiculous and well mined in terms of comedy. I don't think you're going to get an original take on the guy at this point. 
Trump also plays himself comically. When spoofing big shots, you'll have an easier time if the guy is inflexibly serious.

"From the start, Anna claimed that the 'rape' was nothing of the kind, but rather a long-simmering and unlikely romance that..."

"... after much sensitive discussion, had at last been consummated. D.J. can neither talk nor dress himself, but Anna argued that he was able to communicate using a keyboard, as long as she was there to hold his hand and give support. 'I’ve dreamed about this,' she said he typed the first time they tried to have sex."

From "What Anna Stubblefield Believed She Was Doing." Stubblefield had been the chair of the philosophy department at Rutgers University in Newark and she wrote: "I believed that he and I were intellectual equals, and that our romantic relationship was consensual and mutually loving. I intended no harm, and I had nothing to gain."

From the comments:
I sat as a juror on this trial. This woman is no she-ro and deserves no one's pity. I wish the NYT and the writer would stop trying to persuade the public that she is some tragic hero that is being persecuted for falling in love with a disabled man. She is a predator, and as her husband stated "a pathological liar and narcissistic." She deserves no pity....

"Day 28: thinking about starting a herb garden."



Lovely animation from Ashleigh Green. Check out the whole blog.

"Is It Selfish for a Gay Couple to Have Kids via Surrogacy?"

The NYT "Ethicist" answers a question from David Lat (of Above the Law)("Sometimes when we mention this in conversation, people ask us, in a chiding tone, Why don’t you adopt?")

I noticed this via Facebook, where David Lat says it's the second time The Ethicist has answered a question from him. The first one, back in 2010, was about eating cookies from a minibar and then, before the hotel noticed, replacing them with identical cookies bought much more cheaply from a store. I was more interested in the cookie question, and what I said over there was:
Wow. Congratulations on getting two questions answered by The Ethicist. I haven't read the new one yet, but I enjoyed the cookie one. I had a problem with the analogy, though. It was clearly inapt. He said "You might with similar logic stop by the Staples Center and present vendors with a bottle of the same brand of beer you drank at the Lakers game last night" and ask for a refund, but in that scenario the employees have to do some extra work, interacting with you and processing the refund. In your situation, the minibar looked exactly the same and no one did any extra work. My problem with what you did would be that I wouldn't want to be the occupant of a room with a minibar that is presented as if it were tended to by the hotel's employees but really contains items that have traveled in the possession of some other hotel guest, some stranger. But then every hotel room is full of molecules that have traveled on (or in!) the person of previous guests. It's an ineffable fussiness.
I know the origin of babies is more important than the commerce in cookies, but the particularity of the cookie question intrigued me, and I'm drawn to bad analogies. I feel a sort of ethical duty to expose them. And then there was the underlying current of disgust over the residue of all those unknown guests who have occupied that hotel room that you need to think you can sleep in. As for getting a baby through an egg donor and a surrogate mother... is it selfish? There's so much selfishness in the baby-having business, once you stray away from an absolute spiritual merger between sexual intercourse and open, full acceptance of the occurrence of new life. You ought to think about that, but should you confront other people about what they are doing in that area? It's bad etiquette at least, but it's ethically bad if you're singling out gay people for your lecturing.

"Let's just stop boomersplaining politics to millennials."

Great word, boomersplaining. That's a piece in The Daily Kos (by CCBOhio). Excerpt:
Millennials’ choice of Bernie Sanders for president makes perfect sense, and boomer-age Democrats simply have to stop bashing them for it. Young people are also critical to the future of the Democratic Party. The party would be much better served if its leaders could figure out how to bring young Sanders supporters into the fold rather than ignoring them, silencing them, mocking them, or claiming their priorities will “never, ever” happen.

One point you make throughout your writing is that your generation of women has faced untold amounts of blatant sexism.  I get that.... But: Sexism is not the only issue that matters.  It is one of your main issues, and it is important.  But other issues are also important.  What bothers me so much about your ongoing defense of yourself through Hillary Clinton is that you do not seem to care about anyone or anything else. Please: Stop boomersplaining and start listening....
I found that as I was Googling to find my way back to something else I'd seen recently, the idea that Millennials — perhaps younger Millennials — have a newly emerging capacity to love Boomers — as we Boomers become what is to them the grandparent generation. The idea — developed as an explanation for the Bernie Sanders phenomenon — is that the loathing of Boomers happened as we were the parent generation. Each new generation must grow up and become independent of its parents, and some part of that necessary process of maturation is going to be experienced as rebellion and hostility. It's the age-old strife between children and parents. But grandparents are in a different position, at a greater distance. They intrude less into your life, but they are there, loving you, admiring you, wanting the best for you, inspiring you to rise to treasured, traditional ideals, not expecting too much for themselves, but truly hoping the world will live on with a new set of good people. The grandchildren can find their way into good feelings that the children withhold.

There's still plenty of hostility toward Boomers, and it's natural and understandable. But as one generation moves into later stages of life and a new generation comes on the scene... well, the aging Boomer in me writes that sentence and the song that distracts my train of thought is: One generation got old/One generation got soul/This generation got no destination to hold/Pick up the cry/Hey, now it's time for you and me/Got a revolution (got to revolution)/Hey, come on now we're marching to the sea...



Oh? See? That was a test... that worked as test. Do you hate the Boomers? I went full Boomer on you. Did you like that "revolution" theme? Everyone's saying "revolution" today, after the numbers Bernie (and Donald) racked up in New Hampshire. You know, Bernie Sanders is not a Boomer. He was born in 1941. He's in the grandfather generation and can attract the love of those who still feel the need to distance themselves from the Boomer-parent generation. We Boomers need maybe 5 more years to feel the kind of love that currently flows to Grandfather Bernie.

Okay, I've done enough boomersplaining. I'll stop now and get a little older.

"Hillary Clinton is set to campaign with Trayvon Martin’s mother and Eric Garner’s mother."

And so we turn to South Carolina.

The narrative of the primary season proceeds from ethanol, to heroin addiction, to black people. Are black people pleased to find themselves the subject of the week or is this irksome?
[The Clinton] campaign, sources said, is expected to push a new focus on systematic racism, criminal justice reform, voting rights and gun violence that will mitigate concerns about her lack of an inspirational message.

“The gun message went silent in New Hampshire,” remarked one ally close to the campaign. “Guns will come back in a strong way.” She is expected to highlight the problem of gun violence as the leading cause of death among African-American men as she campaigns in South Carolina on Friday.

In her [New Hampshire] concession speech... Clinton began to preview that new message... “Where people are held back by injustice anywhere in America, that demands action,” she said. “We also have to break through the barriers of bigotry.”
South Carolina has an open primary, by the way. Consider:



ADDED: Ta-Nehisi Coates says:
One can say Senator Sanders should have more explicit antiracist policy within his racial justice platform, not just more general stuff, and still cast a vote for Senator Sanders and still feel that Senator Sanders is the best option that we have in the race. But just because that’s who you’re going to vote for doesn’t mean you then have to agree with everything they say....

I will be voting for Senator Sanders. I have tried to avoid this question, but, yes, I will be voting for Senator Sanders. I try to avoid that, because I want to write as a journalist—do you know what I mean?—and separate that from my role as, I don’t know, a private citizen. But I don’t think much is accomplished by ducking the question. Yes, I will vote for Senator Sanders. My son influenced me.

You said you wanted a revolution...



Well, you know...

You want a revolution? (Check all that apply.)
 
pollcode.com free polls

"We’re all complicated people voting for complicated people. We’re not census subgroups falling in line."

"I’ll go to the barricades for that imagined gay candidate if he or she has talents I trust, positions I respect and a character I admire. If not, I’ll probably go elsewhere, because being gay won’t be the sum of that person, just as womanhood isn’t where Clinton begins and ends."

Writes Frank Bruni (who is gay) in the NYT in "Feminism, Hell and Hillary Clinton."

I'm quoting this, even though it is utterly banal and shouldn't even be worth saying, and maybe it's not anymore, as we see what's happening to Hillary. But I'm blogging it, perhaps in the hope that we are experiencing the end of an era in which insights like this were published as profundities and bloggers quoted them as if indeed they were. I'm making a show of the perspective I have, a little dance in the Theater of Optimism.

"It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the [Iowa] party establishment is trying to protect Hillary."

Says Howard Kurtz, observing the suppression of the raw vote totals.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that McGuire, an Iowa co-chairman of Clinton’s 2008 campaign, drives a Buick with the license plate HRC2016.

February 9, 2016

It's some kind of revolution in New Hampshire...

... as far as I can tell, watching the pre-returns CNN. It's a lefty thing, I think. They're very jazzed up about Bernie Sanders. But what about Donald Trump? Isn't that a revolution too?

ADDED: Trump, winning by 18% or so, plays the song "Revolution."

"It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director."

"It was pretty glowing about us... It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now."

Don't you want to lean on the Bernie Sanders guy with the silky-soft, mouse-brown raincoat?



ADDED: Meade was consuming this through headphones and I heard him say "Oh, my gosh." What was that? Oh, he was just repeating what some young woman in the video was saying as the guy in the raincoat embraced her. Then Meade said "I think Gloria Steinem was right" and starts singing "Where the Boys Are."

"Why Young Democrats Love Bernie Sanders... They have a lot in common with Ron Paul supporters."

According to Nate Silver. "Young voters have a more favorable view of socialism," but...
That doesn’t mean America is undergoing a leftist or revolutionary awakening, however. The biennial General Social Survey has a long-standing question about wealth redistribution, asking Americans whether the “government in Washington ought to reduce the income differences between the rich and the poor … perhaps by raising the taxes of wealthy families or by giving income assistance to the poor.” ...



... What’s distinctive about both the Sanders and Ron Paul coalitions is that they consist mostly of people who do not feel fully at home in the two-party system but are not part of historically underprivileged groups.

The future of nostalgia.

Get ready. Here it comes...

"Sometimes when I am on a stage like this, I wish that we weren't married, then I could say what I really think."

"I don't mean that in a negative way. I am happy."

Said Bill Clinton, introducing his wife.

I puzzled over that for approximately 3 seconds. The phrase "I wish that we weren't married" is certainly striking, coming from a husband, but obviously he means for us to imagine the much harsher words he'd be free to use if he were an independent speaker. As a husband, what he says automatically attaches to her, and he needs to be careful. He knows he needs to rein himself in and not say something like what got him in trouble back in 2008: "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen."



ADDED: He wants to be a Hillarybro.

"The hard, jagged object... dark blue and small enough to be held in a closed hand" fell from the sky and killed a man...

... in India:
The object slammed into the ground at an engineering college over the weekend, shattering a water cooler and sending splinters and shards flying....
It needs to be tested to determine if it's a meteorite or some man-made junk. 

Where did it come from — this myth of "Bernie bros"?

I'm seeing articles like "Bill Clinton Accuses Bernie Bros of Sexism." But what are "Bernie Bros"?
Fully committing to the patently false idea that Sanders’ supporters are uniquely nasty, TIME reported on Clinton’s recent New Hampshire speech thusly:
Clinton also called attention to a collection of male Sanders supporters dubbed ‘Bernie bros’ who launch vitriolic attacks on Clinton supporters online in solidarity with the Senator’s cause. Though the Sanders campaign has distanced itself from the “bros,” Clinton suggested that Sanders supporters made it difficult for women to speak freely about his wife’s campaign online.

Bloggers “who have gone online to defend Hillary, to explain why they supported her, have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane often, not to mention sexist, to repeat,” Clinton said Sunday.
Dubbed? Who dubbed? Are there guys who've adopted that term for themselves or is this the way Clinton supporters have decided to collectively insult male Sanders supporters? It's weird to be reading this so soon after Gloria Steinem — in her ham-handed effort to help Hillary — said that young women who are for Bernie are going where the boys are.

My ancient ear isn't well-tuned to the nuance of "bro," but to me it feels like a sexist insult, perhaps a mild one, like calling young women, "chicks." But I sense that "bro" refers to a particular type of man, and yet, I'm not picturing the type of man who'd be hanging out in a left-wing political campaign (which is another reason why Steinem's remark didn't work very well).

I'm seeing at ThinkProgress: "Bernie Sanders Tells Berniebros To Knock It Off — ‘We Don’t Want That Crap.'" Does that mean Sanders acknowledges the existence of a cadre called "Berniebros" (or Bernie Bros)?

"[E]qually fit men and women demonstrate their fitness differently."

"Whether physical fitness standards discriminate based on sex, therefore, depends on whether they require men and women to demonstrate different levels of fitness.... [T]he numbers of push-ups men and women must complete are not the same, but... the fundamental issue [is] whether those normalized requirements treat men in a different manner than women.... [A]n employer does not contravene Title VII when it utilizes physical fitness standards that distinguish between the sexes on the basis of their physiological differences but impose an equal burden of compliance on both men and women, requiring the same level of physical fitness of each."

Said the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Bauer v. Lynch, decided January 11, 2016, dealing a loss to a man the FBI rejected because he couldn't do the required 30 pushups. He could do 29. If he'd been a woman, 14 would have been enough. But if he'd been a woman, he wouldn't have been able to do 29 pushups, now, would he? What's harder, for a man to do 30 pushups or a woman to do 14? The FBI is trying to set a standard that makes the 2 tasks equally hard. That's equality enough for Title VII purposes.

Isn't it odd that he could do 29 but not 30, when 30 was the requirement? How does that happen? Such perfect facts for the argument he ended up making. A losing argument, it turned out.

What do you think of these "gender-normed" standards?

"She just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out because I don’t want to — OK, you’re not allowed to say..."

"... and I never expect to hear that from you again. She said — I never expect to hear that from you again! — she said he’s a pussy. That’s terrible. Terrible."



For the annals of saying something without saying it. But he said it! No, he didn't. It's the old use-mention distinction.
The use–mention distinction is a foundational concept of analytic philosophy, according to which it is necessary to make a distinction between using a word (or phrase) and mentioning it, and many philosophical works have been "vitiated by a failure to distinguish use and mention."
Trump even chided the woman... and yet, the chiding was comical. The man who normally denounces political correctness — who says we haven't got time for political correctness —  is scolding a lady for saying Ted Cruz is a "pussy."

So, he got the word out, got his distance from it, displayed some comic chops, and reminded us that political correctness isn't something to be completely thrown out. You transgress it strategically, and you call it back strategically. Keep them guessing. He wants to be unpredictable.

ADDED: Clint Eastwood calls a kid a "pussy" to "man him up a little bit":

What's going to happen after Trump wins big in New Hampshire?

Consider the scenario, described in The National Review — which hates Trump — by David French — who uses the subjunctive because he thinks Trump might not win big:
[T]he race would move on to South Carolina with Ted Cruz wounded slightly by the New Hampshire results, Rubio wounded badly, and the trio of governors energized just enough to stay in and keep attacking Rubio in the quest to gain exclusive ownership of the so-called “establishment lane.” Under this scenario, the loyal Trump plurality gives him disproportionate power not just in South Carolina but in the massive “SEC primary” that follows one week later. The longer the muddle lasts, the more powerful his plurality becomes. He can keep coasting as his rivals tear each other apart in their quest to create a true three-man race. Who will be the first to drop out when their polls are no better or worse than those of multiple competitors?  The primary calendar is front-loaded with states friendly to Trump and Cruz, and unless there is sufficient clarity following New Hampshire and South Carolina, the GOP establishment may just claw itself into irrelevance.
Too many governors! You can't have 3, doing the same thing. If only one of them were stronger than the others. If only the strengths of each could be merged into one Super Governor. But the GOP establishment is stuck with 3 governors, all incapable of running to the front in the governor lane. So they take shots at Rubio, and their argument is, basically, he's not a governor. He's not responsible for any consequences in the real world, because that's what it means to be a Senator. How funny for Trump to be loping along easily in the I'm-not-even-a-politician lane! How grim for the Trump-haters! And just when the Democratic Party is collapsing in an even more ludicrous scenario.

How are you feeling about this? (Multiple answers OK.)
 
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"Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters."

"Indeed, we see this reality every time there is a mass shooting. Boyfriends throw themselves over girlfriends, and even strangers and acquaintances often give themselves up to save the woman closest to them. Who can forget the story of 45-year-old Shannon Johnson wrapping his arms around 27-year-old Denise Peraza and declaring 'I got you' before falling to the San Bernardino shooters’ bullets?"

From "Only a Barbaric Nation Drafts Its Mothers and Daughters into Combat," an editorial in The National Review.

This is a traditionalist view of the female role, but it is deeply connected to physical and emotional differences that hold true for many (though not all) males and females. It's one thing to open the military to woman who, knowing themselves, choose to volunteer. But the many women who feel drawn to the caring, nurturing role should be allowed to hold their place back home, preserving the reality of home — a place with children and old people — and the idea of home — which must live in the minds of those who go far away to fight.

Goodbye to Rocky Rococo.



"The man who played Rocky Rococo, the beloved character behind the namesake Madison, WI-based pie chain with a cult following, died Thursday."

RIP, James Martin Pedersen.

The link goes to my son John's Facebook page, where he says: "When I was a kid, I always loved to go there with my dad, Richard L Cohen."

Which I think says something about what I thought of that pizza. I moved to Madison in from New York in 1984. Rocky Rococo pizza was let's just say incomprehensible compared to New York pizza. As for Rocky Rococo, he always made me think of Leon Redbone....



I love Leon Redbone....
With his wide-brim hats and big sunglasses, Redbone was a man of mystery from the start. He rose to fame in the mid-Seventies after Bob Dylan spotted him at a folk festival and told Rolling Stone how curious Redbone was. "Leon interests me," Dylan said in 1974. "I've heard he's anywhere from 25 to 60, I've been [a foot and a half from him] and I can't tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson."
Leon was at the extreme bottom end of Dylan's 1974 estimation. Today, he's 66.

The man who played Rocky Rococo was 68.
“On Valentine’s Day, he’d go to all (11) of our stores in La Crosse and Madison and entertain everybody at each place by handing out breadsticks and singing out a kind of rap poem that he’d change all the time,” [co-owner Roger] Brown said. “He’d get great applause at every place he visited. People would count on him coming every year.”
And: "He was a comedian with Chicago’s Second City and worked with John Belushi and Bill Murray for two years on stage before he moved to Madison."

February 8, 2016

Now, you can tour the London bedroom where Jimi Hendrix lived in 1969.

"The house, in Mayfair, has now been painstakingly restored to look exactly as it did in 1969, using picture[s] of him inside and recollections of former girlfriend Kathy Etchingham."

Among the details: a bedside tablescape of "Voodoo Child" lyrics, a shell, and Benson and Hedges cigarettes, a fruitbowl on the floor, a silky bed jacket, the board game Monopoly, and the album "Fifth Dimension" by The Byrds (which The Daily Mail inanely calls a record "from Fifth Dimension").



ADDED: Too bad we never got to see a Super Bowl halftime show with The Byrds and The 5th Dimension playing together, in the manner of last night's Coldplay + Beyonce.