March 26, 2016

The NYT begins to treat Donald Trump with some respect.

That's my perception, reading "In Donald Trump’s Worldview, America Comes First, and Everybody Else Pays," by David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman. This is not 100% respectful, of course, but I was struck by the seriousness of the presentation:
In Mr. Trump’s worldview, the United States has become a diluted power, and the main mechanism by which he would re-establish its central role in the world is economic bargaining. He approached almost every current international conflict through the prism of a negotiation, even when he was imprecise about the strategic goals he sought....

Mr. Trump explained his thoughts in concrete and easily digestible terms, but they appeared to reflect little consideration for potential consequences....
I thought a lot about "appeared to reflect little consideration for potential consequences." It could be that Trump is alarmingly uninterested in the details and the downsides of risks. But it could be that Trump, keyed into the task of running for office, is expressing himself aptly in the style that works — "concrete and easily digestible terms" — and simply withholding the elaboration of the problems and the risks. Perhaps he focuses on the task at hand. Right now it's getting enough Americans to vote for him, and if he's President he'll correspondingly lock into that task and do it as well as anyone.

Here's one of the most up-voted comments over there: "We can quibble about details, but this approach is long overdue. Why even have a country if its citizens are not the primary concern of those in power?" And: "Have to agree that it's time to play hardball with Saudi Arabia." And:

Bernie Sanders in Madison — after the big rally — arriving at our best restaurant, L'Etoile.

This is nice, with applause as he arrives:

The video was sent to me by someone who doesn't want to be named. I put it up on YouTube, with permission.

Here's the menu at L'Etoile. The entrance, where the clapping takes place, is for 2 restaurants. L'Etoile is the fancy side. The other restaurant is Graze, which is cheaper and more casual and doesn't take reservation. I think the clapping is coming from people waiting to get into Graze on this Saturday night.

Congratulations to Bernie Sanders for his big wins today in Washington and Alaska, and I hope he enjoyed his time in our city. (And let's see some others show up in Madison.)

The top 5 — most viewed — posts of the past week.

5. "A very long post about what Donald Trump said about libel in his interview with the Washington Post editorial board."

4. "Obama derides the 'sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist.'"

3. "WaPo seems surprised that people regard yoga in school as an Establishment Clause problem."

2. "The Washington Post reporter who — based on a single word, 'beautiful' — said Trump 'hit on' her."

1. "Somehow Trump has rigged it so that anti-Trump ads work as pro-Trump ads."


Yes, I've noticed this.

Reminds me of Obama and the fly.

Except the bird didn't need killing.

ADDED: I would have expected Bernie to come up with something more interesting to say. He had to imagine a different bird — a dove — and then use that bird for its stock metaphor, peace. Got to give him credit though just for being the sort of man a bird would come up to. Indicates some sort of fine gentleness of the soul. Or so I learned watching Disney movies....

Getting an abortion for what Indiana has deemed the wrong reason: the unborn has Down syndrome or some other anomaly or is not the sex or race you want.

WaPo reports.

I'd like to try to connect this to the original Roe v. Wade decision, which was resolved in favor of the woman's right to choose because of the difficulty of the question — before "viability" — of when the fetus should be considered "a person." I've never noticed anyone — other than me, making hypotheticals for law school class — proposing a law that would require the woman seeking an abortion to swear that she believes the entity she is about to destroy is not a person. But something about this new Indiana law reminds me of that hypo. The woman is ending the pregnancy because she sees the unborn not as mere abstract potential but as a person, a specific person — someone she rejects.

I presume the law would just cause abortion providers to make a statement about the law that would work as advice not to reveal the reason if you've got one of the wrong reasons. Let me look at the bill. Yes, it's directed at the provider:
Prohibits a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because of: (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.

"Privately, and to some degree publicly, Republicans seem resigned to death in November by fire or by hanging."

"The prolonged nominating process is merely a means of determining the nature of the execution and limiting the risk to other candidates on the ballot. The normal pattern of GOP nominating contests for the past two decades is that the party endures heated primary fights between populist, evangelical and center-right candidates, only to settle on the leading establishment choice. No more...."

That's how David Axelrod puts it.

"15 ways to tell you're a Wisconsinite."

#15: "Wearing shorts on a 50-degree day with snow on the ground just feels right."

"Donald Trump may be a rat but I have no desire to copulate with him."

That's something Ted Cruz actually said. 

"Please, ladies, I don't wanna talk about the National Enquirer report. Let's talk about... Wisconsin!"

Said CNN's Kate Bolduan, trying to get control of a discussion between Amanda Carpenter (former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz) and Adriana Cohen (a Boston Herald columnist):

Did Bolduan not know she was setting this up? Carpenter was saying that the candidates should move on from the back-and-forth over their wives. Bolduan prompted Cohen, who was known to support Donald Trump, about whether it's time to move on, and Cohen dropped the bomb it's hard to believe Bolduan didn't know was coming:
“Absolutely, I think we should move on,” Cohen said, “and where we should move to is the National Enquirer story that has reported that Ted Cruz has allegedly had affairs with at least five mistresses — including, you’ve been named, Amanda... You were named, Amanda... Will you denounce this story or will you confront it?” 
Carpenter called it "tabloid trash," but I'd be suspicious if she stopped there. She does not. She also said it's all "categorically false."

By the way, where did the Cruz adultery story come from? I'm seeing that Cruz is blaming Trump, but what basis does he have for that accusation? According to sources talking to The Daily Beast, the story came from allies of Marco Rubio (but not the Rubio campaign itself).  One source, at Breitbart (which slants in favor of Trump), said that "an operative allied with Marco Rubio—but not associated with his official campaign—showed the publication a compilation video of Cruz and a woman other than his wife coming out of the Capitol Grille restaurant and a hotel on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Every place other than The Enquirer rejected the story as too thin. I don't know the details of what was in the compilation video, but if it was the mere presence of Cruz and a woman together in a restaurant or in the public areas of a hotel, it's ridiculous to make inferences of an affair. The fact that there are 5 women underlines the weakness of the evidence. Cruz quite properly works with women, and women as well as men should be interacting with him. These rumors of affairs are not just unfair to the man, they limit the professional success of women. It's thoroughly sexist to see a woman with a man and assume they are together for the sex.

About that dog serial killer that had Marina del Rey in a panic...

... that man drowning a dog was not drowning a dog — he was washing a dog that was already dead — and the decapitated dog found in the same area was not a decapitated dog — it was the bloated corpse of a raccoon that wasn't even headless.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had offered a $20,000 reward for — as the L.A. Times puts it ungrammatically — "information on whomever was responsible for the acts of cruelty."
[A] transient came into the Marina del Rey station Thursday night looking for his dead dog The homeless man said the dog had been struck by a car and he decided to take it to the beach to wash the carcass because he wanted to stuff the animal.... The homeless man said he tied the dog’s collar to a shovel to keep the body from floating away. He did this because he said he needed to leave the beach to retrieve some of his belongings in another location. When the homeless man returned, the dog was gone.... 
Question 1: What does a homeless person do with a stuffed dog? How does he get it stuffed? In a do-it-yourself effort? Maybe he envisions the dog standing watch over him while he sleeps — something practical.  Maybe he just liked how the dog looked and it fit a general approach to finding and keeping things things in the street.

Question 2: Should the homeless man get the $20,000?

March 25, 2016

Wisconsin... we're watching...



"A photo taken of two little girls during nap time at their school is melting hearts across the Internet."

"This sweet picture was taken while the girls were taking a snooze on a mat at the Presbyterian Day School in Clarksdale, Mississippi."

So it's considered not merely acceptable but just wonderful for school officials — who, exactly? — to take a picture of little girls while they sleep and to post these pictures on the internet?

Spare me the melting-hearts sentimentality and don't make a special rule for "racial harmony." (One girl is black and the other is white.) This is an intrusion on personal privacy. Other people do not exist for your appropriation, even in propaganda for causes that good people think are good.

"Does the way the presidential campaign is being conducted make you feel as though the election process is working as it should, or not?"

Gallup asked Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Only 30% said yes, down from 46% in January. What accounts for this big drop? What do they think should have happened? Did they really find a problem with the "process" or are they just unhappy with the results?

What about Democrats and Democratic leaners? They were already low in January — at 32% — and, after dipping to 29% in February, they are back at 32%. So the question could be why were Republicans so upbeat back in January? Maybe just because they had so many options — seeming riches.
It is unclear from the data if partisans are reacting to the developments in their own party's nomination race, the other party's nomination race or both. Republicans' increasingly dour sentiments may be related to Trump -- either the increasing inevitability that he will gain his party's nomination, or the way controversial aspects of his campaign have dominated the news.... Another factor could be the increasingly contentious campaigns, particularly on the Republican side....

Crazy gun idea.

4,000+ people have signed a petition to allow guns inside the arena at the Republican National Convention.

Obama derides the "sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist."

"Oh, you know, you're a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you're some crazy communist that's going to take away everybody's property."

Those may be "interesting intellectual arguments" — "socialist theory or capitalist theory" — but it's better to "be practical and just choose from what works."

He was speaking in Argentina, and he repeated what he'd said to President Castro in Cuba:

How could Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system, lead by example?

The NYT reports on the incident at the University of California, Berkeley, in which the dean of the law school, Sujit Choudhry, received a confidential and mild punishment after his executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, complained that he had sexually harassed her. Sorrell was told to look for another job, while Choudhry kept his. The dispute became public when Sorrell filed a lawsuit. 400+ alumni signed a letter calling the punishment "feeble" and "threaten[ing] to withhold future donations until he was fired."

Janet Napolitano — who was President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013 — is the president of the University of California system. She "said she was upset that she had learned of his case from the news media barred Choudhry from campus for the rest of the term and ordered disciplinary proceedings that could ultimately result in stripping him of tenure."

Choudhry's lawyer sent a letter to Napolitano charging that he'd been deprived of due process and that the school had "lumped" his case in with other sexual harassment problems at Berkeley, making him "a scapegoat for any shortcomings, real or perceived, in the university’s handling of sexual harassment claims and related policies and procedures."

Napolitano gave an interview to the NYT, which gives us scant information about what was said. We're told "she stood by her order to keep Mr. Choudhry off campus." And we get this distanced quote: "I think our society at large has undervalued sexual harassment in the workplace...It’s gone on in many professions for decades. We are a public university, and we ought to be leading by example, not by mistake."

You want to set examples? You are the president of the system. Why hadn't you already figured out how to handle accusations of sexual harassment adequately? Why did you only hear of the case through the news reports? If you're upset about how little you yourself knew, and if the system over which you preside has been inadequate to handle complaints, what "example" should be set against yourself?

Napolitano is both too general and too specific. She says: "our society at large has undervalued sexual harassment in the workplace" when it should be "The University of California has undervalued sexual harassment." And she takes a severe action against Choudhry, but only after his case became an embarrassment to her. She says she's "leading by example," but what's the example? Undervaluing due process to deflect attention away from systemic failure?

"Then Wolf Blitzer says: '63 is so young!' And then I looked up with a little hope, because I'm about the same age as Robin."

"And then I realized: '63 is so young' is a phrase you never hear relative to anything but death. '63 is so young to be playing in the NFL'? There's nothing!"

Said Garry Shandling, who died yesterday — so young! — at 66.

And, here, Marc Maron just reposted — out from behind the pay wall — the interview he did with Garry Shandling in May 2011.

March 24, 2016

WaPo seems surprised that people regard yoga in school as an Establishment Clause problem.

The headline is: "Ga. parents, offended by the ‘Far East religion’ of yoga, get ‘Namaste’ banned from school."

In my opinion, it's cultural appropriation and otherizing not to perceive that this is religion.

Commenters pick up the cue and say things like "Georgia hicks object to 'mindfulness.' Why am I not surprised?"/"They opt for 'mindlessness.'"

Wow. Double otherizing.

Suddenly, a fox runs across the backyard with a big old squirrel in its mouth.

I missed the really close shot. But caught him running through the next-door neighbor's land...


... and beyond...


"Certainly, it takes fearlessness to begin a Broadway musical emerging nearly nude from a tanning bed."

Ugh. What passes for courage in the narrow canyons of Manhattan.

ADDED: Nudity on Broadway was a thing back in the 60s when "Hair" happened. How could it possibly amount to anything like bravery 50 years later? It seems utterly pathetic to drum up interest in a show by pointing out that someone gets naked. And it's only "nearly" naked.

Spring snow... turkey in front yard...


... wish I'd gotten a photo of the fox that ran across the backyard the other day. Much easier to catch a turkey. That bird cheered me up as I was feeling a little dismal devoting this spring-break afternoon to doing our taxes.

Feel free to talk about anything you like in the comments.

UPDATE: Hey! Check it out: I got the fox!

Goodbye to Garry Shandling.

The brilliant comedian — who was only 66 — died today of a heart attack. 

ADDED: "What I want at my funeral is an actual boxing referee to do a count, and at 5, just wave it off, and say 'He's not getting up.'"

From "It's Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive," (an episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee") recommended by rehajm in the comments.

"Trolls turned Tay, Microsoft’s fun millennial AI bot, into a genocidal maniac."

"Microsoft also appears to be deleting most of Tay’s worst tweets, which included a call for genocide involving the n-word and an offensive term for Jewish people. Many of the really bad responses, as Business Insider notes, appear to be the result of an exploitation of Tay’s 'repeat after me' function — and it appears that Tay was able to repeat pretty much anything."

But it wasn't just reflexive repetition. Example:

In response to a question on Twitter about whether Ricky Gervais is an atheist (the correct answer is “yes”), Tay told someone that “ricky gervais learned totalitarianism from adolf hitler, the inventor of atheism.”...

"And despite all the time girls spend 'impersonating sexiness'..."

"... Orenstein finds that absent from their universe is a sense of actual female sexuality — figuring out what you want and doing it. Society is giving girls, she concludes, a 'psychological clitoridectomy.'"

From a review of the book "GIRLS AND SEX/Navigating the Complicated New Landscape," by Peggy Orenstein.
The interviews... reveal an almost comical generation gap. When one recent high school graduate explains to Orenstein that performing oral sex is “like money or some kind of currency. . . . It’s how you make friends with the popular guys. . . . It’s more impersonal than sex,” Orenstein writes, “I may be of a different generation, but, frankly, it’s hard for me to consider a penis in my mouth as ‘impersonal.’ ”

Somehow Trump has rigged it so that anti-Trump ads work as pro-Trump ads.

Egregious example I just saw:

ADDED: Trump is the old "Feed It with Fire" TV trope:
Pyrrhon: Try my pyroweaponry on for size!
(boss turns red)
Pyrrhon: That's... odd.
Palutena: Apparently adding heat to heat only makes things hotter.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
The Monster of the Week is apparently Immune to Bullets, but not only that, it's getting stronger too! Maybe you shot it with an Energy Weapon, maybe you intervened in a situation and caused a worse problem to appear, or maybe you just hit its Berserk Button, but it didn't die, and now it's stronger than ever. Feed It with Fire is the process by which attempting to kill or destroy something ends up making it grow, become more powerful, or otherwise help it out.....
IN THE COMMENTS Before I found the TV Tropes bit (above), I'd said: "What are people supposed to do now? He's like a movie monster that gains energy from the attacks. That is some old movie, right? Some monster is strengthened by nuclear bombs and such." And EDH pointed us to: "'Mars Attacks' Nuclear Scene." The clip is very funny and worth watching the commercial, but for the impatient, the Martians capture the energy of the nuclear bomb, smoke it, and giggle. If this analogy holds true, then — spoiler alert — maybe Trump can be defeated with Slim Whitman music.

"Wisconsin finds a way to restrict voter registration in the name of expanding it."

That's the headline at Americablog, where criticizing Scott Walker is the norm.

The new law provides for on-line voter registration. So what's the restriction?
[O]rganizations conducting voter registration drives must always collect a photocopy of a voter’s proof of residency and mail or deliver it with the form....
And: "[T]he online system requires voters to submit a drivers license or state-issued ID number, which many citizens in Wisconsin lack. These are the same voters who would be most likely to register to vote through — you guessed it — community voter registration drives."

"Someone wrote 'Trump 2016' on Emory’s campus in chalk. Some students said they no longer feel safe."

Some... some...

These somes are everywhere.

Said the Emory president: "... I cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity. Instead, the students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own."

An old tune plays in my old head: "'Rip down all hate,' I screamed."

Doing the tags for this post, I noticed I had both conundrums and paradox

“This is a natural park and home to many species of wildlife. We will continue to adapt to P-22.”

P-22 is a mountain lion that lives in Griffith Park in L.A.

It had a lot of fans, but then it killed a koala. Or so it is believed? Who else could have jumped the 9-foot zoo wall?

Let's take closer look at those Clerihews.

Donald J. Trump,
Like him or lump,
Wants to build a huge wall;
We'll find out this fall.

— Clyde
Okay. Nice! That's from the comments to last night's "A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley."

To follow the rules
Unlike some of those fools.

So did Curious George:
Professor Ann Althouse
Larry’s her spouse.
He helps her with blogging
And the sink when clogging.
Good! First line is the name of a ((famous)) person and nothing more. Second line rhymes, then 2 more lines that rhyme with each other. There's no rule about meter or number of syllables, but keep it amusing and delightful.

Curious George
Knew how to forge
A Clerihew about me, Meade
And the clogging he freed.

Now, Cath did one about me before Curious George, and she followed the rules:
Professor Ann Althouse
Allows us all t' grouse
In this welcoming forum
With varying decorum.
Written a Clerihew
For the literary few.

Another appropriately rule-following Clerihewer is mccullough:
John Kasich
Pronounced like basic
Wants to get along
But is getting schlonged
Could cull a
Great word from the pile
And make us all smile.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said:
Ignorance is Bliss
Is seriously piss
'd, to Let's take a closer look he alluded
Yet his poem was excluded
Ah! Yes:
Ann Althouse, Professor
And Meade, who impress'd her
Con-Law she unmuddies
Plus Critical Breast Studies

I can't believe Trump put this up.

That's a screen shot (in case he deletes it). Here's the link.

I imagine he'd say he's just retweeting something someone else put up that he's not completely endorsing, just noting that it's interesting (which is how he explained retweeting @ilduce2016).

Do you need background on the "spill the beans" story from yesterday? Here.

"A man who nested in a giant sequoia tree in downtown Seattle, drew a flock of Twitter comments, with some cooing over #ManInTree..."

"... and others condemning him for damaging the 80-foot-tall... city landmark before coming down on Wednesday."
Seattle police negotiated with the bearded man from the window of a Macy's department store building some 30 feet... from where he had been perched in the tree branches since Tuesday, said Officer Patrick Michaud. Michaud said the man "created himself a little seat, maybe even a nest up there at the top."...

Police closed off a small, triangular city block at the base of the tree to protect the public from falling objects, including the man himself, who became a top trending topic....

"Has anyone tried sending a cat up to rescue him? I think they owe us one. #ManInTree," tweeted @TheChrisAsbury on Wednesday.

In Argentina, the state dinner is not a staid dinner. As Barack Obama does the tango with a woman who is not his wife...

.... fortunately, Michelle Obama is doing the tango with a man who is not her husband...

ADDED: Should Obama be dancing the tango after the terrorist attacks in Brussels? Yes. Don't encourage the terrorists. Don't reward them. Don't let them think they can make the President of the United States cancel his plans. Do you want terrorist attacks in response to every presidential plan? Support the President in this, whether you like his politics or not.

[T]hey wanted to create an atmosphere of fear. And one of the great goals of this nation's war is to restore public confidence... Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Go down to Disney World in Florida, take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed.

March 23, 2016

"A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley."

"The first line is the name of the poem's subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light. The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and metre are irregular."

Well, that sounds awfully easy. Why aren't we seeing these more often? Check out the examples at the link to see how simple these are. (Much easier than limericks.) The first one ever written was:
Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
Which sets the standard. Easy, no? Perhaps you'll feel inspired to write one about the most famous man on the face of the earth (Donald J. Trump) or some other famous person.

I don't remember ever seeing this word before, but I've discovered the on-line archive of NYT acrostic puzzles and I've been working my way back in time, got to the puzzle from July 27, 2014 and was stymied by the clue "Four-line verse poking fun at a famous person."

(From the same puzzle, I learned that the word "orchestra" originally meant "the circle where a chorus sang and danced" and that the first intercollegiate football game was hosted by Rutgers. Love the randomness of the information in acrostics. Much more interesting than the crossword.)

"The most committed Republican voters aren’t rallying behind efforts to deny Donald Trump the party’s nomination at their national convention in July..."

"... but he still faces an uphill climb after that. A Bloomberg Politics national poll shows 63 percent of those who have voted in this year’s Republican primaries and caucuses, or plan to do so, back the billionaire’s view of the nominating process and think the person with the most delegates should win, even if he lacks a majority."

"In the future, I would like to do things such as go to college, start a business, even have my own home and family."

"But I am not considered a legal person and cannot yet do these things."

Said the scientist: "I do believe that there will be a time where robots are indistinguishable from humans. My preference is to make them always look a little bit like robots, so you know."

By the way, the title of this video annoys me, and I hope it doesn't distract you. There's something funny at the very end where the designed-to-be-helpful robot says: "Okay, I will destroy humans."

Paul Ryan said: "Looking around at what’s taking place in politics today, it is so easy to get disheartened."

"How many of you find yourself just shaking your head at what you see from both sides of the aisle these days?"
Speaking Wednesday in the House Ways and Means hearing room, Mr. Ryan spoke broadly against divisiveness but once again stopped short of specifics. He did implore his young audience to be thoughtful and civil, a clear swipe at Donald J. Trump, the front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination.

“All of us as leaders can hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and decency,” Mr. Ryan said.

The "startling moment" in the argument about Obamacare and religious accommodations when Justice Kennedy said the word "hijacking."

Lyle Denniston describes today's oral argument in  Zubik v. Burwell:
“Hijacking” is what a long list of religious institutions that object for reasons of faith to contraceptive methods have used to describe what they say the federal government will do to their health-care plans as it moves toward providing free birth control to those institutions’ female employees and college students...

Four Justices remain from the majority... in the ruling two years ago... [in] Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores...  [Justice Kennedy, one of the 4, wrote a separate opinion endorsing] the technique the government had used for non-profit religious institutions, to allow them to opt out of the birth-control mandate, and suggested it would work for for-profit companies, too.  But that is the very “accommodation” approach that, on Wednesday, he labeled a form of “hijacking” of non-profits’ health plans....
Kennedy's use of the word may suggest that he will not vote with the Hobby Lobby dissenters, and the prediction would be that there will be a 4-4 tie, setting no precedent and leaving the results from the Courts of Appeals in place. That is, the government's accommodation would work in most states but not in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota — the 8th Circuit.

"[T]he butthole is one of the finest innovations in the past 
540 million years of animal evolution."

"The first animals that arose seem to have literally had potty mouths: Their modern-day descendants, such as sea sponges, sea anemones, and jellyfish, all lack an anus and must eat and excrete through the same hole. Once an independent exit evolved, however, animals diversified into the majority of species alive today, ranging from earthworms
 to humans. One apparent advantage of a second hole is that animals can eat while digesting a meal, whereas creatures with one hole must finish and defecate before eating again. Other possible benefits, say evolutionary biologists, include not polluting an animal’s dining area and allowing an animal to evolve a longer body because it does not have to pump waste back up toward the head...."

From "Why watching comb jellies poop has stunned evolutionary biologists" (via Metafilter).

"And then when you get out of it you realize, oh, well, that... was just silliness."

"And when that occurred to me, I felt so much better and I realized, geez, I don’t think I care that much about television anymore."

Said David Letterman, who's been doing some introspection and come to see that it just wasn't true that the show was so important.

He looks completely different now too, with shiny baldness balancing his beard.

I could retire. What would I realize? The danger is you'd realize you preferred working.
"I thought I would have some trouble, some emotional trouble, or some feeling of displacement, but I realized, hey, that’s not my problem anymore. And I have felt much better. It’s something for younger men and women to take on."
If you knew that's what you were going to realize, you'd go ahead and retire. But it you end up realizing you'd prefer working, it's too late to go back. And yet it's a delusion to think you're maintaining your options by continuing to work, because every day that passes is a day gone forever, not saved for future use. You either worked or did not work on that day.

A very long post about what Donald Trump said about libel in his interview with the Washington Post editorial board.

Here's the transcript of the interview. As I said in the previous post, I'm engaging with the libel section of the interview line by line. The engagement went long, and what was originally the end of that post got so out of proportion that I had to break it out. This might be the longest post I've ever done, and I guarantee you that my comments were what I thought as I read each section, so you see my reaction as it developed in real time.

Let's begin:

"I went from being 6-foot-5 to 4-foot-5 when I climbed up on that witness stand. I thought, 'My God, this is really horrible.'"

"I tried to keep it in context, what I was dealing with. [The defendants] said it was newsworthy — I felt like I was in the middle of a joke, that they were trying to make something that’s a joke in a locker room with men getting dressed. Then to have to talk about it or be exposed to it was just ridiculous, very embarrassing. It’s hard to talk about this stuff especially when you’re trying to be serious or under oath."

Said Terry Bollea, (Hulk Hogan) about his lawsuit against Gawker, which he characterizes as "actually protecting the First Amendment and carving out that little piece of privacy."

Also quoted in the linked article — which goes to The Washington Post — is Donald Trump, who brought up the Hulk Hogan lawsuit in his recent interview with the WaPo editorial board:
 "I mean I must tell you that the Hulk Hogan thing was a tremendous shock to me because — not only the amount and the fact that he had the victory — because for the most part I think libel laws almost don’t exist in this country."
Not that Hulk Hogan's case was a libel case. (It was for the invasion of privacy.)
"You know, based on, based on everything I’ve seen and watched and everything else, and I just think that if a paper writes something wrong — media, when I say paper I’m talking about media. I think that they can do a retraction if they’re wrong."
Here's the full interview with Trump. Let's get a little more context, because someone in the comments the other day was asking me to try to make sense of what Trump said about libel. He does leap around and make associations freely. If you're unsympathetic to him, it's easy to say he's uninformed, incoherent, and doesn't care if it shows. If you're sympathetic, you can infer and interpolate and make the connections yourself. For example: Hulk Hogan's case surprised him because he thought the courts leaned heavily in favor of the media's rights and would get away with publishing whatever they want and that therefore lawsuits — whether they are based on libel or privacy — would fail.  

You may want to know — before you read what I have to say about the transcript — whether I'm sympathetic or unsympathetic to Donald Trump. Isn't everyone on one side or the other? Actually, no. Somehow, I find myself resting comfortably in the middle. I care about seeing how other people react, and it's better to stay uncommitted. Cruel neutrality. It's real. I couldn't even tell you who I'll vote for in the Wisconsin primary next week. I may decide on my walk to the polling place.

Ugh! The transcript! The discussion of libel goes on so long, and I'm engaging with it line by line. It no longer belongs at the end of this post. I'm cutting and pasting what I've been writing into a new post, which will be up fairly soon.

"It seems increasingly clear that the current Supreme Court Term will have to be headlined 'Justice Scalia is sorely missed.'"

"Next Wednesday, March 30, the Court will hear argument in yet another criminal case in which the unexpected passing of Antonin Scalia on February 13 will leave an unanswered 'hole' in the Court’s deliberations. Last June, Justice Scalia wrote the opinion in Johnson v. United States, in which, after an eight-year campaign originating in Justice Scalia dissents, a majority declared the 'residual clause' of a federal repeat-offender statute unconstitutionally vague.

If you lost the capacity to appreciate food, where would you travel?

Assume you have a medical condition that has destroyed the pleasure of eating food, so that finding new restaurants, sitting around reading menus and choosing things, and putting hours of each day into eating had become a burdensome, boring (not to mention expensive) activity for you, much worse than having access to the decently reliable, efficiently consumed foodstuffs you keep at home. Think about travel devoid of any food and restaurants aspect.

Where would you go? Why?

"It is not working. President Obama’s slow-but-steady strategy to defeat the Islamic State..."

"... is clawing back a little territory in Syria and Iraq but is doing nothing to dent the charismatic appeal of the militant group, disrupt its propaganda or prevent it from killing Europeans.... Since the Paris attack, Obama has insisted that an anti-Islamic State coalition with European and other allies is getting the job done. More than 20 percent of the group’s territory has been recaptured. The president has suggested that more radical military action to crush the militants — essentially the deployment of infantry — would drag the United States into another Middle Eastern war and increase the appeal of the Islamic State. His argument has been: Defeating the Islamic State is militarily feasible, but then what? This is a very high-risk policy — too high in my view. It allows the Islamic State to strut its pure evil in and from Raqqa. The Obama approach posits that the Islamic State can be beaten before European and American societies are undermined.... But today at least the West’s ponderous wait-them-out approach to the murderous fanatics of the caliphate looks like capitulation."

Writes Roger Cohen, a NYT columnist. And another NYT columnist made a similar move. Here's Thomas L. Friedman:
Obama’s primary goal seems to be to get out of office being able to say that he had shrunk America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, prevented our involvement on the ground in Syria and Libya, and taught Americans the limits of our ability to fix things we don’t understand, in countries whose leaders we don’t trust, whose fates do not impact us as much as they once did.... Initially, I thought Obama made the right call on Syria. But today the millions of refugees driven out of Syria — plus the economic migrants now flooding out of Africa through Libya after the utterly botched Obama-NATO operation there — is destabilizing the European Union..... Unfortunately, Obama seems so obsessed with not being George W. Bush in the Middle East that he has stopped thinking about how to be Barack Obama....

March 22, 2016

Biking the Seminole Trail...

... today in Madison. Trying to restore my skills I learned last fall. The leafless woods looks dreary, but it was just perfect.

"Heroin is bad, and injecting heroin is bad, so how could supervised heroin injection be a good thing?”

Said Svante L. Myrick, the mayor of Ithaca, New York, about an idea he now supports.

ADDED: I blogged a similar story back in 2008:
"People who use heroin, they have the image of losers. They have the image of... junkies."

It's not fashionable anymore to be a heroin addict, so why not dispense it, legally, at a clinic?

"Sarah Palin Signs Deal to Preside Judge Judy-Style Over Her Own Reality TV Courtroom."

"Unlike the two famous TV judges, Palin does not have a juris doctor degree. But the source notes that the bestselling author has a variety of other qualities that make her perfectly suited to the job...."

Sure. Why not make up new ways to be a judge? This aligns nicely with the suggestions I've seen lately that the President ought to put a nonlawyer on the Supreme Court. Who trusts lawyers to make decisions? Branch out!

Oh, yeah, here it is. Glenn Reynolds said it: "Maybe it’s time to name a non-lawyer to the Supreme Court. There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires Supreme Court justices to be lawyers, and there are some pretty decent arguments as to why non-lawyers should be represented.... [L]aw is supposed to govern everyone’s actions, and everyone is supposed to understand it.... [T[here are hundreds of millions of Americans who aren’t lawyers, and surely some of them are smart enough to decide important questions...  Shouldn’t we open the court up to a little diversity?"

"Doesn't Trump sound a lot like a Democrat sometimes?"

"This is him explaining how his administration would be different from Reagan's...."

At the Lenten Rose Café...


... from Meade, just now, in the garden.

"The other way to neutralize a bad analogy is with an equally bad analogy that cancels out the first one."

"For example, as of today, the Trump=Hitler analogy is partly neutralized by Belgium=USA-with-porous-borders."

(That's Scott Adams, and his first idea for canceling the Trump=Hitler analogy is an appeal to identity, saying something like "We’re Americans, and the instinct for freedom is in your DNA. Have some confidence in our constitution and in our people that a dictatorship can never happen on our shores.")

"I looked... She seemed like a good person to me" ≈ "I looked the man in the eye.... I was able to get a sense of his soul."

Donald Trump, about that woman, he interviewed and (seemingly) hired at a press conference:
"I looked... and I have a gut instinct. We're allowed to have that. I looked at her. She asked a positive question.... She seemed like a good person to me."
This power to look at a person and to know him... George Bush thought he had it:
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul."
("The man" = Putin.)

The lying crackhead is a lot less funny...

... dead.

Were you among those who laughed at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford? I wasn't: "Me, I've always ignored Ford. I didn't care to amuse myself with him when he was supposedly so amusing."

The world’s wealthiest failed state... a population that’s complicit.... a very strong implantation... politicians who don't want problems....

"[D]espite its success in arresting [the alleged leader of the Paris massacre Salah] Abdeslam, Belgium continues to present a special security problem to Europe."
The country of just 11.2 million people faces widening derision as being the world’s wealthiest failed state — a worrying mix of deeply rooted terrorist networks, a government weakened by divisions among French, Dutch and German speakers, and an overwhelmed intelligence service in seemingly chronic disarray....

“This shows the limits of the actions you can undertake in a state of emergency,” said Philippe Hayez, a former official with the D.G.S.E., the French external intelligence service.... But unless you occupy it militarily, you don’t hold a town just by circulating police cars. We’re talking about guerrilla terrorism. And there’s a population that’s complicit.”...

[Alain Juillet, who helped reorganize the D.G.S.E., said:] “We can easily see that Belgium has become a hub. So that when you arrest someone” — he referred to the arrest Friday of Mr. Abdeslam — “there will be a reaction... All of this is to say that the implantation of the network is more firm than we thought... The police were efficient — and yet this happened. So, there is a very strong implantation in Belgium"....

“The Belgian police are excellent,” said another former D.G.S.E. official, Alain Chouet. “The problems are political. They let develop violent Islamist currents. They were not disrupted because they didn’t want problems with the Muslim community.”

Donald Trump calls a woman "sweetie" and — accepting her kiss — gives a return air kiss.

Because of the content of the previous post,  I'm calling attention to what happens at the end of this clip:

The details of what's going on there are described, by Dylan Byers at CNN, in "Behind Trump's 'job interview' with Alicia Watkins."
Identifying herself as a 9/11 survivor and Afghanistan/Iraq war veteran, [Alicia] Watkins asked Trump if his new hotel in Washington would include a veterans employment program. Trump said it would, and asked her to come to the podium for a job interview.

"What are you looking for? What kind of a position? Come up here, you look so smart and good," Trump said. "Do you mind if I do a job interview right now?"
Oh! He commented on her looks: You look so smart and good.
Watkins, who came to the stage wearing a media credential, told Trump that she did "design," "briefs" and "all kinds of decorations." Trump then passed her along to one of his aides, and told the crowd: "If we can make a good deal on a salary she's probably going to have a job."...

Trump himself was asked about his exchange with Watkins after Monday's press conference.... "I felt good about her," Trump responded "I looked at and I have a gut instinct. We're allowed to have that. I looked at her. She asked a positive question.... She seemed like a good person to me."
I wonder if the whole thing wasn't planned and staged. In this C-SPAN clip of her talking to reporters afterwards, at 3:58 — for what it's worth — she says it wasn't planned.

The Washington Post reporter who — based on a single word, "beautiful" — said Trump "hit on" her.

At 2:34 yesterday, WaPo's Karen Attiah tweeted:
So. I got hit on today by Donald Trump.
No context. No detail. It wasn't until 7:02 PM that she put up a column: "I asked Trump a policy question. Then he called me 'beautiful.'" Trump had been talking with a group of WaPo editors for over an hour and:
As the meeting ended and we were walking out of the room, I thanked Trump for taking my question. He turned to me and said, “I really hope I answered your question,” and added casually with a smile, “Beautiful.” I was stunned. I didn’t say thank you, and I don’t think I smiled. He then walked out to meet with my Post colleagues briefly before heading to the elevator. I stayed in the conference room for a few minutes as it sunk in that the potential GOP nominee for president thought it was okay to comment on my appearance. Did he just say that?
The first thing I need to know is, what was Attiah's response to his "I really hope I answered your question"? If she said "yes, thanks" or nodded or gave any kind of positive response, then "beautiful" would tend to mean "Great" as in I'm glad you're satisfied with my answer.

It's at least ambiguous. I can understand the psychology of a woman wondering if she was just called beautiful, but this was a very particular woman, a reporter who seems eager to hurt Donald Trump. She stayed in the conference room thinking... exactly what? That she could immediately tweet out "I got hit on today by Donald Trump."

You know, "hit on" goes way beyond getting called "beautiful." Even if we were to assume she's correct and Donald Trump was pushing the social norms and giving a woman a personal compliment in the workplace, it's a big step from there to "hit on." Speaking of social norms... when is it okay to say that another woman's husband is "hitting on" you? Whenever he tells you you're really pretty? If a woman told people my husband "hit on" her and it turned out he'd just said, commenting on her appearance, "beautiful," I'd regard her as delusional or dangerous or both.

Here's the next paragraph in Attiah's column:
Planning out how to question Trump in a way that was illuminating was like planning for asymmetrical warfare against an opponent who doesn’t follow the same rules as you do. Who doesn’t believe in rules. Who thinks that rules won’t help make America great again....
But what rules are you following?!

I'm looking at the transcript of the whole discussion with WaPo's editorial board, and it's interesting that Trump does make a comment — an unambiguous comment — about personal appearance. It's directed at the whole group:
TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here.  Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?
So, yeah, maybe he does have a way of disarming people — or trying to — by suddenly making a surprising and positive remark about physical appearance. He also threw in "the hell." It's an exuberant, casual style of speech.*

Should he not be talking like that? Well, he would not be the front-runner if he hadn't plunged ahead, talking in his unique, entertaining way. Reporters are only jumping on what they can call mistakes because he's been doing so well.

And each little dust-up like this "beautiful" gets conversation going on all sides, and it's hard to predict or watch what's going on in other people's minds. Who knows how many women smile on the man who is generous with the compliments and how many men rankle at what might seem like oversensitive "feminist" sulking over a simple, perfectly nice compliment?

"A series of deadly terrorist attacks struck Brussels on Tuesday..."

"... with two explosions at the city’s main international airport, and a third in a subway station at the heart of the city."

The report now is of 13 killed in the airport and 15 killed in the subway.

Prime Minister Charles Michel is telling his people to "avoid all movement."

March 21, 2016

A new NYT/CBS national poll has Trump up by 20 over Cruz, Clinton over Sanders by only 5.

The news is reported in a NYT article with the headline "Most Republicans Feel Embarrassed by Campaign, Poll Says."

Here's the part of the text that is the source of that "embarrassed":
Anxieties run higher among Republicans in large part because of the ferocious and at times juvenile nature of the insult-laden campaign, which has featured taunts over character and even manhood as much as serious policy debates. About six in 10 Republican primary voters say the overall tone of their party’s nomination fight has been more negative than in past campaigns, while only one in 10 Democratic primary voters hold the same view of their party’s campaign.

And 60 percent of Republican primary voters said the campaign had made them feel mostly embarrassed about their party, while only 13 percent of Democratic primary voters expressed that opinion.
I went into the PDF of the poll to get the "embarrassment" question. It's: "So far, do you think the Republican presidential campaign has made you feel MOSTLY proud of the Republican Party or MOSTLY embarrassed by the Republican Party?"

So "embarrassed" is the pollster's word and your only options were "embarrassed" or "proud." Personally, I wouldn't know how to answer that question. I don't have enough of a feeling of identity with a party to feel embarrassed or proud of it. It's not me. It's not my child.

But in any case, you can't figure out from the answer what is embarrassing the people who are embarrassed.  The NYT — in writing "ferocious... juvenile nature... insult-laden... taunts" — seems to assume it's Trump's manner of speaking.  But there are other things one might be embarrassed about — the way the elite insiders are disrespecting the people Trump is energizing, the failure of low-polling candidates to withdraw in time to let those with a chance build up sufficient support to balance Trump's fast start, or maybe just the way the media is continually advising them that they ought to be embarrassed.

Has Bill Clinton lost his mind?

He said:
"Now if you don’t believe we can all grow together again, if you don't believe we're ever going to grow again, if you believe it's more important to re-litigate the past, there may be many reasons that you don't want to support her. But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we've finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that where we were practicing trickle-down economics with no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her. Because she's the only person who basically has good ideas, will tell you how she's going to pay for them, can be commander-in-chief, and is a proven change maker with Republicans and Democrats and Independents alike."
How do you make a mistake like that? It can't be that he forgot it's 2016 and delusionally believed he was back in 2008, because "and the 7 years before that" would have to refer to his own presidency. And putting the 7 years before the 8 years is hopelessly mixed up, since GWB served a full 8 years, and the 7 must refer to the unfinished term that is Obama's. Bill is clearly talking about 2 presidential terms there, so it seems hard to figure out how he isn't lambasting Obama. But I'm going to assume he meant to say that Obama, in his 7 years, has got us to the point where we are past the the awful legacy of the preceding 8 years.

Bill is just a little tired. People misspeak. It's not that big a deal. He's not running for President. And he's not insulting Obama. It's not like Bill and Hillary behind the scenes talk about how awful Obama is, and Bill let it slip. But maybe you think it's funny to imagine that.

"If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel."

Nebraska and Oklahoma said to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for permission to begin its litigation against Colorado in the country's highest (no pun intended) court — that is, to use the Court's original jurisdiction.
"The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 states in 2014..."
The Court said no. That was the answer the federal government wanted. The Solicitor General argued that Colorado had not "directed or authorized" anyone to take marijuana over the state border. The states can still begin their litigation at the federal district court level.

Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, wrote a dissenting opinion. Thomas's opinion questions the Court's longstanding notion that its original jurisdiction is discretionary. The Constitution says "[i]n all Cases . . . in which a State shall be [a] Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction." Art. III, §2, cl. 2. Nothing in federal statutory law purports to create discretion. So Thomas would like some "reconsideration" of the "discretionary approach."

"Mission Accomplished."

Drudge's link goes to AP's "Obama, Castro Come Face to Face in Historic Meeting in Cuba." ("Outside the palace in Havana's sprawling Revolution Square, Obama posed for a photo in front of a giant sculpture of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, creating an indelible image sure to reverberate in Cuba and beyond").

"My 10-year-old son said, ‘Daddy, that’s not Grandma’... I said, ‘Yes, that’s what happens'" — that's what happens when a person dies.

But the boy was right. That wasn't Grandma in the casket in Grandma's clothes and jewelry.

After the open-casket funeral, after the kissing of the dead person, after the cremation, the funeral home called to say "That body was not your mother. Your mother is still here."

Upscale, Downscale.

That's a play on the old TV show title "Upstairs, Downstairs" — which I never watched (don't watch "Downton Abbey" either) — and assumes your familiarity with the first post of the day, the one that examines the phrase — spoken by WaPo's Ruth Marcus yesterday on "Face the Nation" — "downscale white guys."

I have an aversion to talking about people as "upscale" and "downscale." I think these are words for shopping malls and product lines. But let's assume the currency of these words, displacing — for some reason — the various other options, such as rich and poor or upper/middle class and working class, or affluent and... what's the counterpart of affluent?... struggling?

If we're going to say "upscale" and "downscale" right now, it might help to say upscale-downscale and downscale-upscale. I'm looking for a way to deal with the phenomenon of those so-called downscale white guys getting energized by Donald Trump.

Donald Trump himself is very rich, but he's speaking in a way that appeals to those who are getting called "downscale." He sounds like a proudly working-class New Yorker guy. Everyone knows he's a billionaire and that he was born rich, so what's going on there? I think he's a businessman who knows how to spot and appeal to an unfilled market niche. He presents his wealth in a way that those with upscale aspirations and pretentions find to be in bad taste — big name on a gold-plated building, heavily made-up model for a wife, steaks, bragging — but it's just fine to reach out in hearty friendship to the downscale white guys. He's upscale-downscale.

As for downscale-upscale... I'm thinking of all the unwealthy people who maintain the aspirations and pretentions associated with the political/academic/professional elite —  the prideful underpaid people of America who feel called to a higher taste level and look with repugnance upon Donald Trump.

"Talking about art without looking at art is difficult, but Navasky explained to his young audience that their teachers didn’t want them to see the cartoon he had just described."

"However, he said slyly, it was easily found on the Internet; just Google 'David Levine Kissinger.' Hundreds of high school students whipped out their phones, typed in the words, and – voila! – there was Kissinger, screwing the world. Needless to say, the kids cheered in appreciation."

From "A real lesson in freedom of expression" ("What if you were invited to a discussion about freedom of speech and part of your presentation was censored?").

What happens when you ask the internet to name a £200 million polar research vessel?

You get the name: Boaty McBoatface.

The name was suggested — putting the "jest" in suggestion — by a communications manager with a nice name of his own: James Hand. After that, the nefarious procedure known as voting worked its evil magic.

Actually, the Natural Environment Research Council was scientific enough to predict the ways of the internet and reserved the right to make the final decision...

But why not call the ship Boaty McBoatface? free polls

A phrase that shocked me — "downscale white guys" — spoken by Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post.

I am used to class politics and racial politics. I have 181 and 993 blog posts with these tags. I read elite media every day and watch the Sunday shows — often all 5 — nearly every week. I notice and focus on language in my writing here. It's what I do. When something jumps out at me as different — not the way they normally talk — it means something. I think: Whoa! That must be the way they talk behind the scenes. The mask slipped.

Yesterday, on "Face the Nation," John Dickerson was moderating a panel discussion. He'd asked Ruth Marcus about Donald Trump's efforts to reach out to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in the interest of party unity. Marcus said "some Republicans" were "getting to yes with Donald Trump" but a lot were "getting to OMG with Donald Trump."

There was some talk about GOP leaders plotting a 3rd party move or "piggybacking" on the ballot access of the Libertarian or Constitution Party. But even if that worked to keep Trump from winning the presidency, where would it leave the Republican Party going forward? Reihan Salam (of The National Review) observed that younger voters — 18-29-year-old voters — leaned toward Bernie Sanders, and:
The Republican Party needs to think around the bend. Donald Trump is - he's energized a lot of voters who are, frankly, not going to be the voters of the future.
"Frankly" = These people are old and therefore on their way off Planet Earth (if not quite soon enough to stop Trump).

Susan Page (of USA Today) revealed that the Republicans who are talking to her (off the record) assume they're going to lose the presidential election, and they're just trying to figure out "a way to lose the presidency but hold the Senate" or — at least — "lose the White House and the Senate but not have the party destroyed." With that as the goal, they can't agree on "whether Ted Cruz or Donald Trump is the smarter bet."

John Dickerson said he'd talked to Lindsey Graham about that and "the gap between what they say privately and what they're willing to do [in] public... is vast." Two other panelists — Page and Jonathan Martin (of the NYT) — back Dickerson up. The GOP leaders don't want to endorse Cruz. Martin says:
[I]'s hard for these folks in the party to get behind Ted Cruz. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham are trying to make it easier, but it's - it's still very difficult.... But this is - this is - the state of the GOP in March of 2016 is, we have to lose with Cruz, it's important. That's astonishing, right, that they are trying to save their party by nominating somebody that they assume will lose the presidency.
This idea that Cruz is the preferable loser triggers Ruth Marcus. She thinks Trump would be "a less strong candidate against Hillary Clinton than Ted Cruz," but then she says "the Clinton campaign is quite nervous about the prospect of running against Donald Trump." Now, that seems contradictory, but it makes sense if you think that both Cruz and Trump will lose to Hillary, but Trump will be a much more unpleasant opponent for her.

Dickerson prods Marcus to explain:
DICKERSON: Because why?

MARCUS: Because who knows.

MARTIN: The unknowns. Yes.

MARCUS: Be - because the rustbelt. Because all those down scale white guys, who knows what - you know with Ted Cruz sort of where he's going and what he's going to say. You don't know that with Donald Trump and you don't know what voters he can energize.
The adjective "downscale" along with "white" and the too-casual "guys" felt so contemptuous to me. And that comes right after the inarticulate "be- because the rustbelt." So disrespectful, so revealing of waves of loathing roiling underneath. These people who should be dead already might get "energized" by Trump. He's the trumpet that blows on Judgment Day and wakes the dead. Could they just please remain in a state of suspended animation until they have the dignity to disappear? That's what I'm hearing in "all those down scale white guys." She's saying: Don't they know they're not needed anymore... how ridiculous they look heaving themselves up off their death beds and dancing to Trump's tune?

I didn't think I'd ever heard the adjective "downscale" to refer to a human being. It seems like something you'd say about a shopping mall or a neighborhood (if you were talking about a place where other people go). I searched the NYT archive to reinforce my impression, and it mostly did. But I found this July 2013 column by Paul Krugman, "Whites and the Safety Net" that used "downscale" to refer to human beings — white human beings — 3 times:
But if there really is a missing-white-voter issue — and I’d like to see some more analysis by serious political scientists before I completely buy in — what will it take to bring these people back out to play? Sean Trende, who has been making the missing-whites case, describes the missing as “downscale, rural, Northern whites”. What can the GOP offer them?
Wow! We know the answer in 2016. The GOP could offer Donald Trump. Krugman continues:
Well, the trendy answer now is “libertarian populism” — but the question is what that means. And for a lot of Republicans, as Mike Konczal notes, it seems to mean lower tax rates on the wealthy, tight money, and deregulation. And this is supposed to appeal to downscale whites because, um, because.
There's that "because" tic we saw in Ruth Marcus.

Krugman, of course, thinks the GOP really has nothing for these people. He doesn't buy the GOP's supply-side economics and doesn't think it has any power to win over anyone who's not already a believer. And what's worse for the GOP is that their attacks on safety-net programs threaten the downscale white people:
[N]ews flash: these programs don’t just benefit Those People; they’re also very important to downscale whites, the very people that will supposedly rescue the GOP.
There's the theory. "Downscale white guys" — or "downscale whites" if you're in print — are on the dole. They should belong to the Democrats, who empathize with the vulnerable. The GOP wanted them, but only if they bought an agenda that made no direct appeal to them. And the billionaire saw them and spoke to them: We don't win anymore! And they came alive. 

March 20, 2016

Enjoying the basketball...

... here in Wisconsin tonight.

The embarrassing mad scramble of the serious people.

On "Meet the Press" today, Chuck Todd called attention to that NYT article we were talking about yesterday, about how GOP leaders are about to unleash a 100-day campaign to block Trump from getting the nomination. But, Todd said, "there is no strategy that they can unite around."

Molly Ball (of The Atlantic) said:
Well, and this whole thing has been a Keystone-Cops operation from the start. I mean, if there were a Republican establishment that had its stuff together...
Trump would say "shit together"...
...  and really wanted to make sure Donald Trump didn't get the nomination, the time would have been six months ago. Instead, they've been running around like chickens with their heads cut off, going in different directions. Even now, this is not unified. And the chances of stopping him are very, very small. And as Donald Trump said, you know, he's gotten a lot of flak for saying, "Oh, there'll be riots." But I think it's true that you can't just say to his voters, this large so-far plurality of the Republican party that you don't count, and that we're not going to listen to you. Donald Trump doesn't go away if there's some kind of weird contested convention and they take it away from him.
Todd observed that none of the GOP leaders were talking about actually trying to "woo the Trump voter." No, those are the people who are supposed to step back and wait until their betters manipulate things to produce a non-Trump candidate they're told to vote for. There's no plan to deal with the outrage and resentment these people will feel.

"President Barack Obama touched down in Cuba on Sunday, definitively ending a half-century of estrangement..."

"... in a dramatic personal demonstration of his core foreign policy principle of engaging America's enemies."
Obama stepped from Air Force One carrying an umbrella as a persistent rain fell on the tarmac. Before he emerged, he sent a message to Cuba on Twitter: "¿Que bolá Cuba?" he wrote, using an informal Cuban greeting. "Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people."

Hot of the trail of gender politics.

On "Meet the Press" today, Chuck Todd was talking to Molly Ball (The Atlantic) and Jose Diaz-Balart (Telemundo and NBC News)on the subject of whether some of the criticism Hillary Clinton is based on her gender.

Molly Ball said that the political science research shows that women don't get more comments about their looks than men do and that controlled experiments show people are more likely to trust the woman (mainly because women seem like outsiders). The unstated implication is that Hillary Clinton is a specific woman and the dislike for her isn't about women generally but her specifically.

But there's a difference between what's really true and what is useful. If women — notably older women — believe discrimination against women is a problem, that belief might be leveraged. Chuck Todd asked Jose Diaz-Balart if Hillary would be able to "galvanize women." (Putting the "gal" in "galvanize.")

Diaz-Balart just said: "When was the last time that we heard a criticism of a man screaming too much?" And Chuck Todd said "Howard Dean" (referring to this). I couldn't believe it! How did they suddenly forget the man they otherwise can't stop talking about — Donald Trump? Donald Trump's manner of speaking is continually criticized. He's yelling. It sounds mean. It incites violence! It's coming out of a mouth that looks like Mussolini's mouth!

Diaz-Balart said: "I don't understand why Hillary Clinton has to be said she's screaming, she has to smile more. I don't hear men being asked that in the same way." But the speech styles of male candidates are often the subject of criticism. For example, just a few days ago, Chris Matthews said:
"I find Cruz very hard to listen to. He’s relentless, and he whines... He’s got this same angry edge to his voice all the time... There’s no, there’s no lift in it. There’s no hope in it. It’s just this grinding negativity toward anyone he’s competing with."
Molly Ball said that Hillary Clinton is trying "very hard to turn herself into a sort of feminist-identity politics candidate... has really leaned into the woman thing this year, and it hasn't worked." But there's this idea that if/when she gets to a one-on-one fight with Trump, the gender politics will get "really intense."

Chuck Todd brought up that anti-Trump ad we were talking about yesterday — the one with various women reading out-of-context quotes from Donald Trump (e.g., "That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees"). Todd enthuses: "Can you imagine if they put money behind that ad and ran it for two weeks?"

There's no recognition of any incoherence and hypocrisy. I'm seeing — in Todd and the others on his show — a willingness to use overt gender politics against Republicans whenever it seems it will work, but Republicans are criticized for using gender politics even whenever it's just an argument that some criticism of Hillary could have something to do with her femaleness.

ADDED: Let me put that "dropping to your knees" quote in its proper context, which isn't a general statement about women, but a specific situation in which someone else had used the expression and he was cracking a mildly smutty joke:

"A 4-month investigation into a University of Kansas professor who used a racial slur in class has concluded the word was used in an educational context and not intended to be racist...."

Yes, but...
The university recommended that [Andrea] Quenette undergo cultural competency training, re-evaluate orientation curriculum to include more diversity support and pair up with a faculty member. The school also recommended possibly reassigning duties within the communications department.

"My gut tells me much of the contempt for Trump reflects contempt for his working-class white support."

"It is one prejudice gentry liberals and gentry conservatives share. It is perhaps the last acceptable bigotry, and you can see it expressed on any primetime TV program. The insults don’t all seem good-natured to me. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, surrounded by the kind of people supporting Trump, and I sympathize with their worsening plight. For generations, they went all in for the American dream. Their families fought the wars, worked in the factories, taught school, coached Little League and built a middle-class culture. Now they are abandoned and know it. Nobody speaks for them. The left speaks for the unions, the poor and the nonwhite, even shedding tears for illegal immigrants and rioters and looters. The GOP speaks for the Chamber of Commerce, big business and Wall Street. Trump alone is bringing many of these forgotten Americans into the political system.... I would be delighted to support a more conventional candidate who has Trump’s courage and appeal, but we don’t always get to pick our revolutionaries. And make no mistake, Donald Trump is leading a political revolution that is long overdue."

Writes Michael Goodwin in The New York Post.

"It’s a question every candidate for state Supreme Court is asked: Which U.S. Supreme Court justices do you most admire?"

Writes the left/liberal Bill Lueders at the end of his Isthmus piece "Battle for the [Wisconsin Supreme] court/Bradley v. Kloppenburg is a classic contest between two visions of the role of law":
Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg...  has picked Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor. Her rival, Justice Rebecca Bradley, finds this highly objectionable. These two justices, she accuses, “espouse a judicial philosophy that believes the Constitution is a living, breathing document, that it should change to reflect changing social and political conditions.”

But here is what Kloppenburg actually says about Ginsburg and Sotomayor: “They seem to share my view of the Constitution as protecting individual rights and promoting a more fair and equal society.”

Does Bradley disagree that the Constitution calls for protecting individual rights and promoting equality? “There are individual rights that are protected under the Constitution,” Bradley replies. “But when she talks about a more equal society, that’s a very subjective statement,” one whose meaning can vary from judge to judge.

Bradley named Antonin Scalia, before his recent death, as the U.S. Supreme Court justice she most admires, along with Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. “These three justices have the judicial philosophy I follow,” she says, she says, including their embrace of originalism: the notion that the Constitution must be interpreted in light of the Founding Fathers’ original intent. She notes that Scalia exhibited qualities that surprised others, such as being “protective of the rights of criminal defendants.”
The question is not who's correct about how to interpret the Constitution. We're having an election. The people get to vote on how they think the Constitution (and all the other law) should be interpreted. Kloppenburg and Bradley have clearly stated what you need to know, Wisconsin voters. Pick!

Who's right about interpretation and who would you pick? free polls

"In an upside-down version of a traditional campaign, the Republican front-runner is immensely unpopular in the reddest part of the state — the outer suburbs and exurbs that ring Milwaukee."

Writes Craig Gilbert in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
These are the party’s bedrock counties: Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee. They typically dictate the outcome of GOP primaries... In extensive polling by the Marquette University Law School, 25% view him positively and 64% view him negatively, for a “net favorability” — in his own party — of “minus 39.”

The picture is dramatically different at the other end of the state, in the small cities, towns and countryside of northern and western Wisconsin. Here Trump’s favorability score is “plus 21” among Republicans: 53% view him positively and 32% view him negatively.....
Those counties around Milwaukee are the GOP's "high-turnout geographic base." In 2012, Romney routed Santorum by winning big in that area. Same for McCain over Huckabee in 2008.
“The outer suburban areas around Milwaukee are the strongest Republican areas of the state in general elections, but in primaries, it may also be worth seeing them as the strongest ‘establishment Republican’ areas of the state,” says [Charles Franklin, who conducts the Marquette poll]. “So when it comes to the very unconventional, non-establishment candidate in Trump, it’s perhaps not surprising to find that area the least supportive.”...

Trump has done better in economically hard hit places, but Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee have some of the lowest unemployment rates in Wisconsin....

“It’s three main things,” [says political scientist Katherine Cramer of the University of Wisconsin] of the discontent she encounters in struggling communities, many of them in rural Wisconsin. “It’s a sense, ‘my place is not getting its fair share of resources.’ But also that, ‘It’s not getting its fair share of decision-making, because whoever is making decisions is not doing right by my community.’ And this sense that people in power clearly don’t get what’s going on in small town Wisconsin and small town America.... He is drawing support in outstate Wisconsin from people who aren’t devout Republicans, but people who are feeling this economic stress. If you ask them which political party best represents you, they’d say neither … Trump is clearly someone (they think) is going to come in and shake things up.”...
If Trump wins Wisconsin, Gilbert says, he'll be "rewriting the rules" of Wisconsin GOP politics and "redrawing the map."

"The thing that lots of people are missing is that I was wearing a costume. A homage to Mad Max."

"I look ridiculous in frocks. I can’t wear heels – my back goes out and my feet get terribly sore. And besides, I have no interest in clothes other than what they tell me about a person. I am a storyteller – I’m not interested in fashion. Other than people like Alexander McQueen. The rest of it is just so much Cinderella stuff.... I don’t mean that as an insult to Cinderella. It’s just – fashion like that is just telling one story. Catwalk models: not only do they all walk the same way, they all look identical. It’s only the clothes that change. Whereas when I’m researching something, I go and sit in a relevant café and just watch people, which is completely fascinating. For myself, I just wear black and white. I want to be in the background."

Said Jenny Beavan — about why she wore what she wore when she won the Oscar for costume design. Beavan is 65 — same age as me — and the way she looked, she got mocked as a "bag lady" and as "a rude woman" who "plainly could not be bothered... self-absorbed and childish... puffed up by her own ego."

Back in 1987, she also won an Oscar. It was for "Room with a View" — which was a very un-Mad-Max-y movie. Here's how that looked... with Lauren Bacall announcing the thing (looking very 80s):

Beavan doesn't appear until 8:18 — there's a lot of 80s dancing in the process of listing the nominees — and she's wearing a sort of tuxedo. I wondered what was the best costume for the day.

Seeing all 59 National Parks in 59 weeks.


I want to do that! Well, not in 59 weeks, but I would like to see them all. Or maybe just all 47 Wisconsin state parks. I'm more of a small-scale type person.

Upon what landscape does the human body and soul belong? Your human body and soul?

She's sick, he's sick, we're all sick.

So Donald J. Trump tweeted that Megyn Kelly is "sick," and Fox News issued a statement saying Trump has an "extreme, sick obsession" with Kelly, which I'm reading in New York Magazine under the headline "Fox News Denounces Donald Trump’s ‘Sick Obsession’ With Megyn Kelly After New Diatribe."

Sickness is a metaphor, but it's contagious. The cure is to notice that your thinking has taken an imaginative leap and return to your senses. If you can't, you're not mentally ill, you're just mentally lazy and too easily manipulable by the power-seekers using nothing but words.

Why did Fox throw Trump's word "sick" back at him? Why are those who oppose Trump — often criticizing him for his harsh, crude language — picking up his style of speech? They are throwing away their best argument — that normal, serious candidates don't talk like that.

If he gets other people talking like him, he's no longer an outlier: It's just the way we talk here in America, where we are losers, who don't win anymore.

ADDED: Why doesn't Fox just say "I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you?"

I see Hollywood just brought back Pee Wee Herman.