May 7, 2016

"The appetite of the people of these States, in popular speeches and writings, for unhemmed latitude, coarseness, directness, live epithets, expletives, words of opprobrium, resistance."

"This I understand because I have the taste myself as large, as largely, as any one. I have pleasure in the use, on fit occasions, of—traitor, coward, liar, shyster, skulk, doughface, trickster, mean cuss, backslider, thief, impotent, lickspittle.... A perfect writer would make words sing, dance, kiss, bear children, weep, bleed, rage, stab, steal, fire cannon, steer ships, sack cities, charge with cavalry or infantry, or do anything that man or woman or the natural powers can do.... I like limber, lasting, fierce words. I like them applied to myself,—and I like them in newspapers, courts, debates, congress. Do you suppose the liberties and the brawn of these States have to do only with delicate lady-words? with gloved gentlemen words? Bad Presidents, bad judges, bad clients, bad editors, owners of slaves, and the long ranks of Northern political suckers (robbers, traitors, suborned), monopolists, infidels.... shaved persons, supplejacks, ecclesiastics, men not fond of women, women not fond of men, cry down the use of strong, cutting, beautiful, rude words. To the manly instincts of the People they will forever be welcome...."

From "An American Primer" (1856-1857) by Walt Whitman.

Nicholas Kristof, at the NYT, calls out universities for their bias against conservatives.

Read the whole thing, but this jumped out at me:
A friend is studying for the Law School Admission Test, and the test preparation company she is using offers test-takers a tip: Reading comprehension questions will typically have a liberal slant and a liberal answer.
A student asked me the other day why I'm the only conservative at the law school. I said but I'm not a conservative. (I'm a moderate.) And the amazing thing is that I'm viewed as a conservative — even though it's easy to see from this blog that I support abortion rights and gay marriage and that I voted for Obama in '08 and have any number of liberal ideas as I'm sure my conservative readers will be happy to point out.

I had to change the question to: Why am I viewed as conservative? My answer to that was that I show respect for the conservative viewpoint as I teach and write about a range of issues. If that creates the impression that I'm a conservative, what are students hearing from the rest of the professors?

Wild life.




(Just now, in the UW Arboretum.)

Trump on Hillary: "She's been the total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives."

"She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful."

"There’s a long tradition of men living with something like roommates."

"Men used to live in boardinghouses quite commonly. You had places like the old Y.M.C.A.s. These were really significant parts of the housing stock a century ago. They have since become far less common... I think it’s flipped... There’s much less of a stigma being a 40-year-old man living alone than being a 40-year-old man living with a male roommate. Living alone has become far more viable. A hundred years ago, that would have been completely different."

Says an NYU sociology professor, Eric Klineberg, quotes in the NYT article "Age 31 and Up, With Roommates. You Got a Problem With That?"

"He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob."

"According to Rhodes" — Ben Rhodes, "The Aspiring Novelist Who BecameObama’s Foreign-Policy Guru" — "the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.... Barack Obama is not a standard-issue liberal Democrat. He openly shares Rhodes’s contempt for the groupthink of the American foreign-policy establishment and its hangers-on in the press. Yet one problem with the new script that Obama and Rhodes have written is that the Blob may have finally caught on...."

Commenting on that long NYT piece: Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign policy:
Rhodes comes off like a real asshole. This is not a matter of politics — I have voted for Obama twice. Nor do I mind Rhodes’s contempt for many political reporters: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

But, as that quote indicates, he comes off like an overweening little schmuck. This quotation seems to capture his worldview: “He referred to the American foreign policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.” Blowing off Robert Gates takes nerve.
Lee Smith in The Weekly Standard: 
[David] Samuels's profile is an amazing piece of writing about the Holden Caulfield of American foreign policy. He's a sentimental adolescent with literary talent (Rhodes published one short story before his mother's connections won him a job in the world of foreign policy), and high self regard, who thinks that everyone else is a phony. Those readers who found Jeffrey Goldberg's picture of Obama in his March Atlantic profile refreshing for the president's willingness to insult American allies publicly will be similarly cheered here by Rhodes's boast of deceiving American citizens, lawmakers, and allies over the Iran deal. Conversely, those who believe Obama risked American interests to take a cheap shot at allies from the pedestal of the Oval Office will be appalled to see Rhodes dancing in the end zone to celebrate the well-packaged misdirections and even lies—what Rhodes and others call a "narrative"—that won Obama his signature foreign policy initiative.
Jack Shafer in Politico:
Rhodes deserves his castigation. You don’t claim that the “average reporter” you talk to is 27 years old and they “literally know nothing” without suffering some blow-back. You don’t dismiss the American foreign policy establishment—including Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and editors and reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Yorker—as “the Blob,” and expect polite applause in response. And you especially don’t brag about leading a “war room” effort to turn arms-control experts and reporters into sock puppets, or admit to creating a false narrative about the Iranian nuclear deal to sell it to the public, as Rhodes does, without expecting return fire.

Cat problem is a skunk problem.

A letter to a real estate advice column (in the NYT):
A neighbor leaves bowls of food around the neighborhood for feral cats, even placing some on the grounds of the Russian diplomatic mission at the end of our block. I’ve asked her to stop, and I remove food when I can, but to no avail. The cats treat my garden like their litter box, track mud over my car and wail and moan when they fight or mate. Worse, the food attracts skunks. A neighbor’s dog was sprayed twice and my shuttered window was sprayed, filling my house with the stench. Another neighbor and I trapped seven skunks to be released in Pelham Bay Park, but there are more. What recourse do I have?
Sounds like he currently has 7 skunks in a cage and is relying on letter-writing to figure out what to do. Doesn't he have a bigger problem than the feral-cat lady. 

"I continue to hope that logic will prevail."

Says a man who built a big swing set in his yard — in violation of the village code — and wants a variance. Part of his argument involves portraying the structure as a "wisteria arbor."

I'm not sympathetic to people in this position, which of course has nothing to do with logic. He's relying on the old strategy: Better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Every time that works, it erodes the belief that the rules apply to everyone.
“The village is interested in compliance. . . . The rules apply to everybody. They apply them equally,” said Suellen Ferguson, an attorney who represents Chevy Chase Village in the case. Ferguson said the swing set initially was described as an “arbor” in documents his family submitted requesting a variance. Then, things got a little wild. Time went on, swings started being attached... It became a play structure.”

Did Donald Trump intentionally expose a photo of Marla Maples in a bikini within the cluttered frame of his taco-bowl Cinco-de-Mayo photograph?

It's just a sliver, a slice of magazine, at the bottom of the pile of newspapers underneath the plate that held the china bowl that held the taco bowl that Trump acted as if he might be eating. There are many details in the picture that captured everyone's attention 2 days ago, and Buzzfeed's Benny Johnson won the prize for noticing it first....

... and then everyone wanted to talk about that. It's an old picture of Marla, from 1985, so you might at first think he's got an old memento, but it turns out it's the May 2d issue of People, an article about him, "Marla Maples Opens Up About Surprisingly Modest Lifestyle After Her Split from Donald Trump: 'I Laugh When People Think I Walked Away with a Fortune.'" It makes sense that he'd have that magazine, open to that page, so you can go any way you want, asking whether the old man was ogling a picture of his ex-wife. He was maybe going through what's in the current press in a businesslike fashion, maybe enjoying/treasuring/"creeping on" the photograph.

But, come on! It's intentional! It's such a specific sliver — the woman in a bikini — barely visible, but framed neatly in the lower right hand corner, just under his thumb...

That was meant to be discovered and to spark a whole new round of attention to the absurd taco-bowl picture. We're dragged into the old story of Trump's cheating on his first wife, his access to beautiful women, his cheerful nonchalance about the whole crazy overstuffed life as he's about to overstuff his smiling face with an insanely large portion of faux-ethnic glop. And we're caught peeking, guilty of peering into details that he — we might imagine — didn't mean to expose. Oh, bad us! And let's take a closer look at that bikini-pic, as all the articles about Taco Bowl, Phase 2 contain glaringly clear, large photos of the bosomy 21-year-old. How are we to feel about all this — about him, about ourselves, about all the young women in bikinis and the older men who are able to have sex with them, and our exclusion from and, now, inclusion in their glamorous life?

This is the place he's brought us to, with that little sliver, that tiny slice we got for lunch when he was seemingly wolfing down 20,000 calories.

"My best guess is that the public is primed for Trump to act presidential because it fits the 'bad boy turns good' movie we all have in our heads."

"Everyone likes Han Solo, the tough talker with the heart of gold. Trump is making that movie-like transition now, but don’t expect him to go easy on Clinton. The Clinton attacks will be vicious, but Trump’s overall vibe will still trend (spottily) toward presidential.... It serves Trump well to have it both ways at the same time."

Says Scott Adams, who also says Trump opponents who are calling him “dangerous” are making a mistake because "You know who likes dangerous men? Answer: Everyone."

This reminds me of something I heard Rush Limbaugh say on yesterday's show. He was saying that the new media shape their coverage in a manner that is like movie-making. They look for a main character with a quest and antagonists:
So, going forward, which story will the media find more interesting, Trump's or Hillary's?  Does Hillary even have a story?  Does anyone even care?... [The media] know what Trump wants.  They are fascinated with the idea, "Can Trump really get this?"  Because Trump, there's nothing professional about him.  He doesn't have a speechwriter, doesn't have a teleprompter. He doesn't have a pollster, he doesn't have a consultant, he doesn't have campaign staff. He hasn't been fundraising. He hasn't done anything you're supposed to do. Look what he's doing!  They are fascinated....

That's it.  The Republicans have never had, in their story -- conservatives, either, have never had... I'm talking this in a media context, now. They've never had an agenda or a story that the media would like them to have.  The Republicans are never anything but villains.  Whatever the Democrats want, yeah, they should get it.  We're for it! (interruption)  No, no.  I'm just saying, there may be ways unlocking this deadlock here in the way the media covers people, Republicans and Democrats, and there may be a way for Republican to change it around.  Trump may be showing how it's done, but I run great risks in saying that. 

Bill Kristol just met with Mitt Romney to try to persuade him to run as an independent candidate for President...

... or at least to support another independent candidate if Kristol is able to rustle one up. (WaPo link.)

Here's the top-rated comment over there:
William Kristol has no shame. Remember this:
"The other journalists who met Palin offered similarly effusive praise: Michael Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.” The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said. The moderator, Chris Wallace, finally had to ask Kristol, “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”
Why anybody gives this loser any credibility is an absolute mystery to me. If I were Kristol, I'd be ashamed to show my face in public much less offer political commentary. Loser.
ADDED: Let me add a line so you can see where the left margin is. At least one commenter seems to think I wrote that "Why anybody gives this loser any credibility" business. 

"For around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive..."

"The relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along," writes psychology professor Matthew D. Johnson in The Washington Post (just in time for Mother's Day).
Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples....

Fundamental identities may shift — from wife to mother, or, at a more intimate level, from lovers to parents. Even in same-sex couples, the arrival of children predicts less relationship satisfaction and sex. Beyond sexual intimacy, new parents tend to stop saying and doing the little things that please their spouses. Flirty texts are replaced with messages that read like a grocery receipt....
ADDED: I wonder what other things we depend on people to do could be shown not to produce personal happiness. 1. Caring about the thoughts and feelings of others. 2. Taking on a significant job and working hard at it. 3. Following the law. 4. ...

"I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality. I have lived it and I’m not really there yet."

Says Belle Gibson, "the disgraced Australian 'wellness blogger' who faked terminal [brain] cancer and claimed she was cured using natural remedies, faces legal action and penalties of more than £500,000 for profiting from her elaborate global scam."

I'm having trouble understanding the "scam." She lied about her health, but what did she sell? It seems to be a cookbook and a cookbook app. And there seems to have been some sort of "promise[] to give some of her profits" to charity.

I see a future for her: writing about living a lie and then trying to discover "reality." The quote in the post title reads like a book proposal, no? Gibson, a very pretty 24-year-old, obviously already knows how to do media to her advantage. The big, bad government is after her, so that's a big, dramatic aspect to the narrative for a woman who began her lucrative career having to make something up.

ADDED: Being a liar is a condition of the brain, as is brain cancer. She's trying to get well. She's trying to find her way to health reality. She's seen that place before and thinks she knows where it is. Watch her struggle to find her way there.

May 6, 2016

"He’s trying, and honestly, he’s trying and I will tell you what, I honestly think he understands that building and unifying and growing the party is the only way we’re going to win. And I think he gets that."

Said Reince Priebus.
Priebus also suggested that Trump would pivot into general election mode but that it might take some time, remarking that in private, the candidate is "far more gracious and personable than I think you see at rallies."...

[Priebus] rejected the notion that Trump's campaign would assume a firm grip over the convention process, saying people on the candidate's team have shown "no indication" of seeking control of the party.... "It's the party's party."
ADDED: The quote in the post title is talking about Trump as if he's a child.

"Its design touches the ground lightly and with an environmentally sensitive and delicate presence - like jewels in a necklace - energising the city's Riverwalk, and attracting the eyes of the world."

"Gently fitting in and standing out at the same time, it will allow local people and visitors alike to appreciate the city and its world-class architecture from a completely new perspective, stimulating Chicago's tourism industry."

Is it just my imagination or have sentences suddenly got longer?

I blame Donald Trump. Seriously. I think commentators have become grandiloquent in response to what they feel is his crudeness, his brutality. And look for the words "crude" and "brutal." They're everywhere.

ADDED: It seems that the anti-Trump people are LIKE the pro-Trump people: so theatrically emotional. Maybe it's that everyone, deep down, knows the next president is Hillary Clinton, and it's a pre-freakout.

"It's a nuisance, it's a distraction, because he can't win the nomination and every dollar that he spends and every time she has to defend against an attack or answer some accusation of his..."

"... is money and time not spent defining Donald Trump and the Republican nominee. That's all it is at this point. I think people gave him a wide berth when he had a numeric chance but there is no math that ends up with his being the nominee, so at this point I think even the wins don't do anything but continue the inevitable problem of he can't get there from here."

Said Joe Trippi, disrespecting Bernie Sanders and all he has done. And it's simply not true that "there is no math." If Sanders keeps winning, it's possible for him to get ahead of Clinton in the non-super delegates. If that happens, the super delegates could flip.

ADDED: With all the help she had, all the money, all the name-recognition, what Sanders has done is truly astounding. If he overtakes her in the democratic process, how can the supers not respond. He'll only need half of them to win. In a year of unlikely occurrences, that seems almost ordinary.

AND: From John Cassidy in The New Yorker:
In the weeks ahead, the calls for Sanders to wrap up his campaign are likely to become more explicit. He seems certain to ignore them, and he has at least four reasons to do so. First, most of his supporters want him to keep going. Second, he still has a (very) slim chance of obtaining the nomination. Third, there isn’t much evidence that his dropping out would affect the result in November. And fourth, back in 2008, Clinton herself did something very similar to what Sanders is doing now, extending her primary contest with Barack Obama well beyond the point at which most commentators had concluded that she had no chance of winning....

Since the primary season began, Sanders has won more than nine million votes and finished ahead of Clinton in eighteen states. (Clinton has won more than twelve million votes and won twenty-three states.) Sanders continues to attract large crowds—on Thursday he will be campaigning in West Virginia—and he seems likely to win more primaries in the coming weeks, including in West Virginia, on May 10th, and Oregon, on May 17th. If he were to end his campaign now, many of his supporters would be furious, and even some Democrats who aren’t necessarily backing him would be disappointed. According to new poll from NBC News/Survey Monkey, fifty-seven per cent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners want Sanders to campaign until the Convention, and just sixteen per cent think he should drop out now. Eighty-nine per cent of Sanders’s supporters said they wanted him to keep going until July. More surprisingly, perhaps, twenty-eight per cent of Clinton’s supporters agreed....

"[A]fter repeating the standard line for months that he would support the party's nominee, the country's highest-ranking Republican could not bring himself to do so once Trump actually became that person."

"And so, in the most searing and drastic defection of this wild campaign season, [Paul] Ryan broke ranks with the brash New York billionaire. The decision will shape Ryan's political future in the short and long term, and could have a real effect on the outcome of the 2016 election. Immediately, the move could give the 200-plus Republicans up for reelection — particularly those in the swing districts that will decide the size of the GOP's majority, or even whether it keeps the House — a measure of cover from Trump's unpopularity. Many of them think the presumptive nominee is too politically crude to represent the party. Ryan's move came just hours after Trump tweeted 'I love Hispanics!' along with a picture of him eating a taco bowl, not exactly the kind of fence-mending with a growing voting bloc that GOP brass had in mind for Trump's general election pivot. But Ryan's decision to buck the nominee-in-waiting was borne out of opposition to Trump's principles, not any particular policy, according to a source familiar with his thinking...."

From "How Ryan decided to ditch Trump/The speaker did not expect Trump to clinch the nomination so soon and huddled quickly with advisers to plot his break," in Politico.

"Technology does cut two ways: it facilitates a weird and sometimes useful intimacy, sure, but it also teaches us to conflate a curated identity with a real one..."

"... and, moreover, to work on perfecting our systems of curating rather than our actual selves. This becomes important, politically, when we can no longer read or understand the human character. Our present cultural climate discourages empathy—a stay-in-your-lane policing has been afoot for a while now—and demands the performance of absolute authority. The idea that a person could work to understand another, to assume their struggles and their triumphs, to question them, and to love them regardless, is the crux of any spiritually functioning civilization. Yet this seems to be Radiohead’s real anxiety: that we are all forgetting how to know each other, and how to be properly alive."

Last paragraph of a New Yorker article Amanda Petrusich — author of “Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records" — about how the band Radiohead had suddenly "bleached its Internet presence—its Web site faded to white; its Twitter and Facebook pages were scrubbed of content—a move so blatantly counterintuitive that acolytes knew to recognize it as a portent. "

"Some humans are optimized for small spaces, and I am one of them. Perhaps you are, too."

"Here’s an experiment to try. Find the square footage of your home and calculate how big it is in units of you. I am 5-foot-4, and my current apartment is 320 square feet. Therefore, my current apartment is 3 x 3.75 Mollys. I wonder if there is a golden ratio at work here — a crude logic behind our spatial preferences. As a compact and rectangular human, I gravitate toward compact and rectangular shelters. Ranch houses make me feel diluted. When I walk into a spindly Victorian, I feel as though someone is tightening my corset. My first thought upon entering any dwelling more than 6,000 square feet is 'Nobody will hear my screams.'"

Writes Molly Young in "Letter of Recommendation: Tiny Spaces."

"The battle lines among American feminists over selling sex were drawn in the 1970s."

"On one side were radical feminists like the writer Andrea Dworkin and the lawyer and legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon. They were the early abolitionists, condemning prostitution, along with pornography and sexual violence, as the most virulent and powerful sources of women’s oppression. 'I’ve tried to voice the protest against a power that is dead weight on you, fist and penis organized to keep you quiet,' wrote Dworkin, who sold sex briefly around the age of 19, when she ran out of money on a visit to Europe. Other feminists, who called themselves 'sex positive,' saw sex workers as subverters of patriarchy, not as victims. On Mother’s Day 1973, a 35-year-old former call girl named Margo St. James founded a group in San Francisco called Coyote, for 'Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics.' Its goal was to decriminalize prostitution, as a feminist act. In its heyday, Coyote threw annual Hooker’s Balls, where drag queens and celebrities mixed with politicians and police. It was a party: In 1978, a crowd of 20,000 filled the city’s Cow Palace, and St. James entered riding an elephant. By the 1980s, Dworkin’s argument condemning prostitution moved into the feminist mainstream, with the support of Gloria Steinem, who began rejecting the term 'sex work.' St. James and the sex-positivists were relegated to the fringes....."

From a long NYT article by Emily Bazelon, "Should Prostitution Be a Crime?/A growing movement of sex workers and activists is making the decriminalization of sex work a feminist issue."

May 5, 2016

At the Red, White, and Blue Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

Photo comes from the UW Arboretum, today.

"Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!"

An actual Donald Trump Facebook post, complete with photo of him eating with a taco bowl.

As I was just saying a few days ago (a propos of the mockery of John Kasich for getting photographed eating various foods):
Food-eating used to be a cliché campaign photo-op. Bob Dylan sang about it in 1963:
Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote
He’s a-runnin’ for office on the ballot note
He’s out there preachin’ in front of the steeple
Tellin’ me he loves all kinds-a people
(He’s eatin’ bagels
He’s eatin’ pizza
He’s eatin’ chitlins
He’s eatin’ bullshit!)
But, note, Donald Trump isn't eating in that photograph. He's posing with food. And Donald Trump was one of the main people who mocked Kasich for eating: "He has a news conference all the time when he's eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion. This guy takes a pancake and he's shoving it in his mouth. It’s disgusting."

Now, back to today's quote: "Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!" That's got to be so wrong on so many levels. Or is it a trap?

That supposedly "brutal" ad from Hillary shows "Trump being opposed by… a bunch of useless losers on the Republican side. Trump annihilated every one of them. And it wasn’t even hard."

Says Scott Adams, about that ad we discussed yesterday. It's my observation that various media sites called the ad "brutal" as if it were terribly effective — "Clinton Releases a Brutal Anti-Trump Ad" (Mother Jones‎), "This brutal new ad shows the shredding machine that awaits Trump" (Washington Post‎). Adams lists 4 things that ad does to our mind, none of which are things Hillary should want to do:
1. The ad lumps Clinton with the losing Republican candidates. They all share a dislike of the presumptive Republican nominee. Do they belong to the same club of establishment politicians who are ruining the country?

2. The ad shows that Trump is disliked by the Republican establishment. But that is his appeal, not his flaw. Trump already “fired” the losers in the video who are attacking him. Do you believe anything you hear from a disgruntled employee who just got fired?

3. When you remind viewers how many big-name politicians Trump has defeated, it makes him seem stronger.

4. Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans will see that Trump is an “enemy of their enemy” and bond to him.
Nice analysis. I know when I watched the ad, I felt pulled toward Trump. I don't know if it was because of those 4 things or something else. An obvious something else — to me, anyway — is: They're all being so cruel to him that: 1. It makes me want to help Trump (I feel protective), 2. I feel like they're trying to hide something from me and trying to scare me away from thinking about something that, understood, would hurt them, and 3. They seem ridiculous and abnormal, not talking like mature politicians at all (they seem like a bunch of schoolkids whose game could be broken by a simple "I'm rubber, you're glue" retort).

Here's the ad again, for reference:

"Although we remain convinced that Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable and would probably lose to most other Republicans..."

"Donald Trump's historic unpopularity with wide swaths of the electorate - women, millennials, independents and Latinos - make him the initial November underdog. As a result, we are shifting 13 ratings on our Electoral Vote scorecard, almost all of them favoring Democrats."

Says the Cook Political Report.

"After a teammate dared [Hunter] Osborn to stick out the top of his penis during the yearbook football picture, Osborn did just that."

"Osborn was arrested and faced 70 charges: 69 misdemeanor charges for indecent exposure — one for each person in the photo — and one felony charge for 'furnishing harmful items to minors' (for exposing himself).... But on Wednesday, officials announced they had dropped the charges against Osborn after all 69 people in the yearbook picture declined to file charges."

ADDED: The government had 69 possible complainants, and not one would side with the prosecution. Nice teamwork.

A Harvard political theorist gives Hillary Clinton some ludicrous advice about how not to walk into Donald Trump's "trap."

This is in WaPo, by Danielle Allen. The "trap" is that Hillary has a problem with men.
The more that Clinton takes Trump’s bait around the issue of his denigration of women, the more powerfully this flaw in her own campaign will show itself.
By "around the issue of his denigration of women," Allen means Trump's criticism of Hillary for playing the "woman card." That's not denigration of women, whatever... Allen's point is Hillary needs to do something about her man problem.

Allen has 3 ideas:
First, she should let her surrogates do the work of responding to issues raised by Trump that would pull her off her core message. She should let her surrogates do the work of replacing his labels with her own. Personally, she should meet his insults with a cheery silence, or a lighthearted deflectionary joke. She needs to become Teflon — not to engage.
So... just continue with those knowing smiles and big horse laughs? That's a basic strategy, but it can get annoying, especially if we feel there's an issue of substance that she's avoiding. Allen is assuming that Trump's statements will be misogynistic insults, but that's underestimating the opponent.
Second, each week, Clinton needs a message powerful enough to rival the rhetorical force of Trump’s own messages. How many of us can say what Ted Cruz’s or John Kasich’s messages have been in the past eight weeks? But we can all say what Trump’s have been. “The Republican primary process is rigged.” “The person who gets the most votes should get the nomination,” and so on. Clinton needs weekly messages that meet the moment and drive the conversation.
All right, that's the second level strategy. The first level was no substance. The second level is: Substance! Okay, if you've got it. Your substance has to beat his substance.
Third, and most important, Clinton needs to force Trump to fight on the ground he has claimed as his own. No one has yet forced him to do that. She needs to challenge him on the terrain he is seeking to defend. Rather than simply fighting for women and children, Clinton needs to fight Trump for the votes of men. His slogan is, “Make America Great Again.” Hers should be, “Make America Fair Again.”

Can we be great without being fair? No we cannot.

Do women want fairness? Yes. Do men want fairness? Yes. Do African American, Latino and Muslim Americans want fairness? Yes. Do white Americans want fairness? Yes. Do religious Americans want fairness? Yes. Do gay, lesbian and transgender Americans want fairness? Yes.
Allen lapses into a rhapsody about fairness, replete with the saccharine lyrics of the 5th verse of "America, the Beautiful" ("Till souls wax fair as earth and air....").

I had to laugh. "Make America Fair Again" is not going to beat "Make America Great Again." It's a terrible response for Hillary. It may please some people who already support her (though that "again" points to the When was America fair? detour). But it's not going to win over the men (or women) who are drawn to Trump. They're going to hear "fair" to mean: You've had enough, time for other people to get their share.

My advice to Hillary Clinton would be: Stop listening to advice from people who consider Donald Trump patently loathsome. You must understand what is happening from the perspective of people who do not hear misogyny and xenophobia, but a positive message of America and greatness.

IN THE COMMENTS: Nurse Rooke said:
Presumably in the "America the Beautiful" lyrics, "souls wax fair" means "souls grow more beautiful" not more just.
Yes. You'd think the song title would clue that pretty strongly. I considered calling the line racist, with "fair" understood as in "fair-haired." The use of the word "soul" made me think in those terms. I thought of the William Blake poem, "The Little Black Boy" with the line: "And I am black, but O! my soul is white...."

“It tastes like chicken. It’s crazy. I don’t know how they do it."

"'Yes, it is actually a real thing,' said Anna Mugglestone, marketing and communications director for Ogilvy & Mather Group in Hong Kong, the agency running the campaign."

Donald Trump is "fine" with the "low road" if that's the road Hillary wants to take — "I can handle the low road if I have to do it."

I noticed this little dialogue on Bill O'Reilly's show last night:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): Now, tone, tone. If history is any barometer, the Clinton campaign will go after you through surrogates. MoveOn, these sleazy left-wing websites are going to tear you up. Are you going to respond to that if Hillary Clinton takes the high road and doesn't do any of that?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I'm going to be able to figure it out. We had 17 people just now and I figured that out and I will be able to figure it out with Hillary. It depends on where she is coming from. If she wants to go the low road, I'm fine with that. And if she wants to go the high road, which probably I would prefer, I would be fine with that.

O'REILLY: But wait. You're fine with the low road? Most people don't want to go on the low road?

TRUMP: No, I can handle the low road if I have to do it. I mean, we've had some low roads over the last few months.

O'REILLY: Really?

TRUMP: I'm fine with it if we have to go that direction. Maybe you haven't noticed.

O'REILLY: You know what? I hope you don't have to go it. I would like to see you and Mrs. Clinton in a spirited campaign about issues without the low road. I know the media likes it. I know they like all that stuff but I don't. I would like to see you, you know, you guys just fight it out over issues.
That was kind of brilliant, now, wasn't it? He's not saying he likes the low road or that he'd choose the low road, just: If she or her people take the low road, they'll be on the low road with him and he knows how to handle it. He had 17 people in the primary, taking whichever roads they were taking on any given day for nearly a year, and he dealt with it. So he's warning the Hillary people: You do not want to take the low road with me. That can't possibly warn Hillary and all her proxies off the low road, but he's staked out his position: It won't faze me — "I'm fine with that" — and you will lose. 

My link goes to Media Matters, which mangles the meaning in its headline: "Trump Tells O'Reilly He's Ready To Take The 'Low Road' Against Hillary Clinton In The General Election/Bill O'Reilly: 'You're Fine With The Low Road? ... I Hope You Don't Have To Go To It.'" They completely omitted the main idea, that he wouldn't choose the low road, but he's prepared to operate on that level if his opponents choose it.

What was so striking about the rhetoric — and I almost don't blame Media Matters for screwing up the interpretation — is that Trump seemed to enjoy saying "low road" and exhibiting his comfort with that place. Also Trump avoided the original question, which specified that Hillary herself would take the high road and those sleazy proxies would do the dirty work. Trump declined to see Hillary standing apart from her surrogates.

Gloria Steinem hopes Donald Trump will lose "in a very definitive and humiliating way."

She wants humiliation. What is that about?

It made me think about something else I read this morning: "MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Caught on Hot Mic Ogling Melania Trump." That's in Variety, which is going after Matthews for saying, "Did you see her walk? Runway walk. My God is that good." I have trouble even seeing what's wrong with that. Modeling was her chosen profession and she has real skills that people admire. Variety puts Matthews's remark into what's supposed to look like a pattern: "The pundit has been accused of sounding sexist on live television many times before. Here’s a look at some of his sexually regressive greatest hits." That sounds awful, but I don't see the pattern. Just because you make a list doesn't mean you have a list of things that belong together. But what I wanted to pull out of that list — because I'm trying to understand why Steinem wants to see humiliation — was something about humiliation:
(3) January 9, 2008: Argues Hillary Clinton Is Successful Because Bill Clinton “Messed Around”

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Matthews credited said she appealed to voters as a suffering wife, “I think the Hillary appeal has always been somewhat about her mix of toughness and sympathy for her. Let’s not forget the reason she is a U.S. Senator, the reason she is a candidate for President is because her husband messed around. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t get there on her merits, because everyone felt, ‘My God, this woman stood up under humiliation.’ Right? That’s what happened.” Matthews later apologized and admitted he “sounded nasty.”
What is it about humiliation? We have a creepy love of it — a fascination — do we not? I confess to using the word myself on the night of the Indiana primary: "CNN talk is all about Trump but the big news is Hillary's humiliation."

It should be enough that the better candidate wins and the loser concedes with dignity. Why do we want to stare into the pain of the one who is defeated? What's wrong with us? Those questions relate to what I said on Tuesday and what Gloria Steinem said about the coming election, but it's a weirder dynamic that Chris Matthews talked about, the embrace of the humiliated woman, the desire to see her win because of her humiliation. It makes me wonder whether we really accept the truly independent, strong, successful woman. Maybe we need our woman pre-crushed.

But I'm looking back to the last time Hillary Clinton was elected, which was 9 years ago. Maybe we've changed, and that humiliation happened 18 years ago. Whatever taste for humiliated women America may retain at this point, is Hillary still crushed enough?

IN THE COMMENTS:  Henry said:
Althouse wrote: Modeling was her chosen profession and she has real skills that people admire.

This reminded me of a weird line in the Melania profile [in The New Yorker that] you linked the other day:

Through a quirk in immigration law, models, nearly half of them without high-school diplomas, are admitted on H-1B visas, as highly skilled workers, along with scientists and computer programmers, who are required to show proof of a college degree.

What a lovely mashup of intellectual snobbery and fake distinction this is! Think of all the athletes, artists, actors, and musicians who work in the U.S. despite not being "highly skilled" workers like "scientists and compute programmers." Of course, through a quirk of immigration law they have O and P visas.

May 4, 2016

It's the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jane Jacobs, author of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities."

1. TIME: "Jacobs was not just a writer who had big ideas, she was also the champion of those ideas in the real world. At the time city planning aimed to make cities orderly, with tall buildings and open space, and had no qualms about demolishing large swaths of neighborhoods to make their ideas reality, as with New York City’s Cross Bronx Expressway. A similar highway was the subject of what remains perhaps her most famous battle: The Lower Manhattan Expressway, proposed by city planner Robert Moses, which would have been a 10-lane road cutting across what is now SoHo and Little Italy. At a public hearing on the proposed expressway in 1968, Jacobs was arrested and later charged with 'second-degree riot, inciting to riot and criminal mischief'...."

2. The Guardian: "Washington Square Park anchored the Village, offering 10 acres of green space to a steadily changing set of neighbours, from Edith Wharton to Bob Dylan. In 1880, Henry James wrote in Washington Square of its 'rural and accessible appearance' – a quality that had not entirely dimmed by the 1950s. Moses, however, upon looking at the park, was convinced that the amenity it most sorely lacked was a four-lane road through its centre." Below: "An artist’s sketch from 1959 of the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway, a 10-lane highway through SoHo and Little Italy that required the demolition of 416 buildings."

3. HuffPo: "Even though Jacobs had no training in the field (let alone a college degree), she turned urban planning upside down and led cities to embrace mixed use development such as what transformed Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from urban decay to a major tourist attraction. Just as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 raised awareness over the misuse of pesticides and sparked the beginning of the ecological movement in the U.S., Jacobs’ book fueled the New Urbanism movement."

4. Treehugger: "Jane Jacobs did her research just by looking around and watching the sidewalk ballet, but others are now using more sophisticated methods to show that she was right. [Marco De Nadai] at the University of Trento and his team have examined six cities in Italy to test Jacobs' four conditions of multiple functions, small blocks, mixed age and relatively high density. Instead of eyes on the street, they used big data...."

5. Tech Insider: "6 ways the ‘Mother of Urban Design’ has transformed American cities.... 100 years after her birth, many urban dwellers are living in the kind of American cities she imagined and fought for."

6. Vox: "Her fight with [Robert] Moses has been turned into an opera called A Marvelous Order, drawn from a Jacobs passage about the logic under the chaos of urban life: 'Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city.'"

7. Slate: "Bulldoze Jane Jacobs/The celebrated urban thinker wrote the blueprint for how we revitalize cities. It’s time to stop glorifying her theories.... Thinking through how to make cities truly equitable is harder than uncritically reaffirming a small selection of the work of Jacobs. If Jacobs remains an almost-deific figure in urban planning, the profession will end up perpetuating what Jacobs fought so hard against: doing things to cities simply because they replicate the ways they’ve been done in the past. If we want to celebrate Jacobs, it’s time to move beyond her."

8. Gothamist: "Confirmed: Bob Dylan Did Co-Write Protest Song About Robert Moses With Jane Jacobs."

"I had told Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone that I would cover the Patty Hearst trial..."

"... and this pushed me into examining my thoughts about California. Some of my notes from the time follow here. I never wrote the piece about the Hearst trial, but I went to San Francisco in 1976 while it was going on and tried to report it. And I got quite involved in uncovering my own mixed emotions. This didn’t lead to my writing the piece, but eventually it led to—years later—Where I Was From (2003). When I was there for the trial, I stayed at the Mark. And from the Mark, you could look into the Hearst apartment. So I would sit in my room and imagine Patty Hearst listening to Carousel. I had read that she would sit in her room and listen to it. I thought the trial had some meaning for me—because I was from California. This didn’t turn out to be true...."

Writes Joan Didion in the new issue of The New York Review of Books.

The problem with "too risky" as an argument against Trump.

Scott Adams notes the Clinton campaign is going for the "too risky" attack on Trump, but predicts it's not going to work because...
American voters have decided how much risk they want. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the “more risk” candidates and they each outperformed expectations. Added together, the higher-risk candidates (Trump and Sanders) got far more votes than the safe candidate, Clinton....

I have said before that there are no trained persuaders working on the Clinton campaign. That comes through in all of their decisions. Their decision to use “risk” as a warning to the public at the same time the public is begging for more risk is an enormous persuasion error. It borders on a self-kill shot.

To be fair, Trump scares the pants off of about one-third of the public. So “risky” will hit home for those voters. The problem for team Clinton is that Trump has complete control of his persona. All he needs to do is act less risky for a few months to prove his campaign persona was all for effect. That process is well underway.
BUT: Check out Hillary's new ad:

Now that Trump is the GOP nominee, shouldn't Republicans want to see Merrick Garland confirmed?

I'm seeing a fair amount of discussion of a point I'd been making — if not on this blog, then in person on a couple panels I've done at the law school: The GOP should want to confirm Garland now.

Garland was a moderate choice for a Democratic President. After an election won by a Democrat — presumably Hillary — we'll almost surely see a more strongly liberal nominee. Conservatives shouldn't hang onto much hope that Donald Trump — if he's elected — would nominate someone who'll turn out to be a solid conservative. So it's a good time to take the known person, Merrick Garland.

Aside from the effect on the Supreme Court, the theater of confirmation could — at this point — do the Republicans in the Senate some political good. The congressional elections are important, not everything should be about Donald Trump, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is a place where the party can display itself as dedicated and principled. I'm sure Ted Cruz — a member of the committee — can help with the show.

"I’ve never noticed anyone not liking my body hair."

"We’re seeing a return to ’70s fashion... The late ’60s and early ’70s were about freedom, the hippie movement, having lots of hair."

"You’re a Trump supporter, and you frequently refer to him as Daddy."/"I do because that’s what he is."

"I assume that’s not in a purely father-figure sense. Are you sexually attracted to Donald Trump?"/"Oh, yes. I call myself a Trump-sexual. I have a very antiwhite bedroom policy, but Trump is kind of like the exception to that rule."

From a dialogue — in the NYT — between Ana Marie Cox and Milo Yiannopoulos.

And now we can stop asking why he's still in.

Kasich is out.

Are you reading the post-mortems on Ted Cruz?

I've been avoiding things like "What Went Wrong for Ted Cruz" (in The Weekly Standard).

I think it's impressive he got as far as he did. Why fuss over why he didn't do more?

Why you accidentally call family members by your dog's name.

But not your cat's name.

"I never, ever, ever read anything about myself. Not my interviews, not stories about me."

"I never, ever read any criticism of my films. I scrupulously have avoided any self-preoccupation. When I first started, that was not the case. [But now I] just pay attention to the work and don't read about how great I am or what a fool I am. The enjoyment has got to come from doing the project. It's fun to get up in the morning and have your script in front of you and to meet with your scenic designer and your cinematographer, to get out on the set and work with these charming men and beautiful women and put in this Cole Porter music and great costumes. When that's over, and you've made your best movie, move on. I never look at the movie again — I never read anything about it again."

Said Woody Allen.

Also, he doesn't read: "I never enjoyed reading. I was not a bookish guy.... I'd always rather watch a baseball game or a basketball game or go to the movies or listen to music."

One reason not to read — of the many, many reasons — is that people are writing horrible things about you. Allen is quick to say none of the scandal affected him — "Oh, no. Not in the slightest."

And let me excerpt the anti-travel sentiment — anti-travel being a theme of mine — "I never liked to fly on an airplane for six hours and get the time change. It makes me crazy; it takes me six months to get [over the time change]. Just from daylight saving time, I can't recover." By the way, I like the idea of relocating and living somewhere different for something like 6 months. That's very different from travel. You get the feeling of living there, no pressure to stack up the seeing of things in a particular set of days.

His view of religion: "I feel it's a pleasant fantasy for people to try and mollify the pain of the reality of existence."

On Donald Trump: "I've met Trump because he was in one of my movies, Celebrity. He's very affable, and I run into him at basketball games and at Lincoln Center. And he is always very nice and pleasant — hard to put together with many of the things he has said in his campaign."

"The winning design for the American Institute of Architects' competition to design a tiny house community for Chicago was built in two days and displayed at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus."

Hmm. Strangely porch-heavy don't you think?

They invited commentary from 3 formerly homeless persons, one of whom said "Well, I really didn't like it, I'm going to be honest because ... you really can't put that much stuff in that little house. I mean I just think it was just... it would be bigger than that."

Larry Wilmore reflects on his White House Correspondents Dinner performance — which, to him, felt "very surreal... almost like an out-of-body experience."

"And I think the first indication [of the reaction in the room] was the Wolf Blitzer joke, which to me was more tongue in cheek than anything else, you know? I think it came off harsher than how I had initially intended it. It seemed like a hard comment, but I really meant it more roasty. Because I saw all of this as a roast, really. Like, in other words, I have nothing against Wolf Blitzer. He’s a nice guy. I’m just giving my observation on that. And just trying to be snarky about it, but it came across pretty cold-blooded."

More at the link, including discussion of why he addressed President Obama with the n-word: "Usually that’s something we only do behind closed doors. But to do it in public, I thought, would be a strong way to end. And I knew it would be controversial and I was ready to accept the fallout from it."

ADDED: The bit about Wolf Blitzer was: "Speaking of drones, how is Wolf Blitzer still on television? Ask a follow-up question. Hey, Wolf, I’m ready to project tonight’s winner: Anyone that isn’t watching 'The Situation Room.'"

The loopy optics of Hillary's "Woman Card."

Count the problems:

1. Hillary's original response to Trump's pestering her about playing the woman card was "Deal me in!," which refers to playing cards. That's not a playing card, it's a credit card.

2. A credit card is for running up debt, so the most obvious meaning is that women are to blame for the debt, we have our needs and wants and think we deserve special, gender-based power to satisfy ourselves, and Hillary wants to facilitate this profligacy.

3. That awful international pictogram for woman — so impersonalized, so inane. The main distinguishing feature of a woman isn't the shape of the torso, delicate legs or hands, or long hair, but a skirt. And Hillary never wears a skirt.

4. Skirts... the color pink... I thought we were getting away from these stereotypes — from the stark binary view of the sexes. She's off trend.

"It’s time for MLB to force teams to expand protective netting before another death at the ballpark."

Argues John Harper at The New York Daily News.
[Teams] know fans are more vulnerable than ever these days, for a variety of reasons: modern ballparks have them sitting closer to the field than ever; pitchers throw harder than ever, which results in harder-hit foul balls; modern, thin-handle bats break more easily sending them flying into the stands; and iPhones at the ballpark, which distract fans from games, are a way of life.
So the people who want to pay attention must look through netting so that the people who want to look at iPhones can have the freedom not to pay attention? And the teams can't even decide for themselves and their fans which group to favor — it ought to be a top-down rule dictated by the MLB?

Good metaphor, by the way.

The "historic" decision of the Italian court is "right and pertinent" and based on an idea that has "informed the Western world for centuries — it is called humanity."

Proclaimed, celebrating the ruling in favor of a homeless man who was convicted of theft for taking $4.50 worth of cheese and sausage from a supermarket.
"The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court.
The BBC headline is: "Italian court rules food theft 'not a crime' if hungry."

The case of the UW student arrested for "White supremacy iz a disease" and other graffiti is diverted to Community Restorative Court.

"Many times, diversion is more onerous than paying a ticket. The majority of people want us to hold people accountable, they would like people to repair the harm and they would like some assurance … that we are working to ensure this doesn’t happen again."

Said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne about the case of UW student Denzel McDonald (previously discussed here, after the UW police apologized for going into a classroom to confront him).

Meanwhile, there's another Madison graffiti case in the news:
Timothy A. Arnold, 21, was charged with four counts of misdemeanor graffiti after a criminal complaint said he used green paint to draw Swastika-like symbols on the Jewish Experience of Madison and the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, both located on Langdon Street, and the Samba Brazilian Grill on Gilman Street.... According to a criminal complaint, Arnold told a Madison police detective that he found some green spray paint and used it to draw “old runic” symbols on places in the Langdon Street area. He also admitted to painting the symbol on the building where the Samba Brazilian Grill is located. He said when he paints the symbol, “he is trying to express pride,” the complaint said.

Are medical errors the 3rd most likely cause of death in the United States?

"Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research, said in an interview that the category includes everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another."

May 3, 2016

Polls have closed in Indiana, Trump already declared the winner.

Let's talk about it.

ADDED: Whoa! Sanders is going to beat Hillary?

AND: CNN talk is all about Trump but the big news is Hillary's humiliation.

AND: And Cruz slinks off.


AND: Horns emerge from the head of Donald Trump:


"The real reason some people end up with partners who are way more attractive."

"[A] study published last year in the journal Psychological Science... found that heterosexual couples who were friends before they dated were more likely to be rated at different attractiveness levels."

But look for more closely matched couples in the future as people get together primarily through computer services. This friends-first thing isn't going to be happening much. 

"Clearly, elite journalists, political advisers, media anchors, and pollsters, for all their analyses, have no idea where, why, and how Trump garners support."

That's Victor David Hanson in National Review with "Trump: Something New under the Political Sun."

I'm of 2 minds here.

1. He's addressing the topic I said I want addressed.

2. He said "garner."

Campus signage.

On Bascom Mall, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, yesterday:



Novelists, why?

Why are you continually telling me how and where characters are moving — in and out of rooms and buildings, onto and up out of chairs and sofas, hands gesticulating this way and that? It's 20% of some novels. Why are you doing this?

Maybe you don't think we, the readers, notice. Maybe you imagine yourselves successfully staging a play in our minds — causing us to "see" your story as if we were sitting in a theater. But a play wouldn't waste my time with words about X passing through doorways and across rooms. X would be saying something interesting.

I won't say what I was trying to read. I'm just pushing back any novelists whose foot this shoe fits. You can walk across this dark, cluttered room, over the worn, plush carpet, and plant your well-padded ass on that comfy upholstered chair and remove your customary footwear and place your nether extremity inside this shabby slipper and ascertain if it's approximately your size.

I'm having a flashback to high school English class, where we were taught why "Lord of the Flies" was well-written. I still remember the sentence the teacher used — half a century ago! — to make his point that it's best to convey the emotions of the characters by describing some outward movement: "He took two leaden steps forward."

"As a graduate student... he graded what he called a 'so-so' exam by a young John F. Kennedy and the English assignments of 'an intense, hungry-looking' Norman Mailer."

From the obituary of Daniel Aaron — "Critic and Historian Who Pioneered American Studies" — who has died at the age of 103 and who "described himself as 'a citizen of two Americas'":
“One of them is the country of Uncle Sam... an America, in the words of Herman Melville, ‘intrepid, unprincipled, reckless, predatory, with boundless ambition, civilized in the externals but savage at heart.' The other is its blessed double, home of heroes and clowns and of the cheerful and welcoming democratic collective — ‘the place where I was born.’ For all of my romantic Satanism and the satisfaction I took and still take in the doctrine of original sin, it is this second America to which I feel culturally and temperamentally attuned."

Office hours.


The view from my office, yesterday.

Talk about anything you want.

"Critics were puzzled. Was Marisol a Pop artist or not?"

"The critic Lucy Lippard, in 'Pop Art' (1966), said no, calling her work 'a sophisticated and theatrical folk art' that had nothing to do with Pop. It was often overtly political and funny — 'clever as the very devil and catty as can be,' John Canaday wrote in The New York Times of her 1967 exhibition featuring sculpture caricatures of the British royal family, President Lyndon B. Johnson and other eminent figures. She drew on celebrity images, as well, creating sculptures of John Wayne and Bob Hope.... Like Warhol and his disciple Jeff Koons, Marisol was aloof and opaque, a master of the gnomic pronouncement. 'I don’t think much myself,' she told the critic Brian O’Doherty in The Times in 1964. 'When I don’t think, all sorts of things come to me.'"

From "Marisol, an Artist Known for Blithely Shattering Boundaries, Dies at 85."

Here's the Marisol LBJ:

Full sculpture, in a museum setting, with some actual humans — not part of the sculpture, just interestingly in the shot — here. Closeup of the women in his hand: here.

"Everyone kept coming up to me and asking if they could pop a few. It made me realize that I’ve tapped into something in America..."

"... a need to leech the zit snot out of our culture so we can rise to a new, blemish-free day. I will be recording a concept album about it, which will drop without warning in the next 36 hours or so."

"UW-Madison faculty declare 'no confidence' in Board of Regents, UW System president."


Justin Verlander is engaged to Kate Upton.

I'm seeing lots of news stories about this, and they all feature pictures of the exceedingly gorgeous Kate Upton. I think that's unbalanced gender-wise. Males and females are fully equal in the modern American marriage. So let me correct the imbalance. Here is Justin Verlander:

ADDED: The news of the engagement came out as a result of Kate's wearing a big diamond ring to the Met Gala. You can find her somewhere on this page, which has about a hundred photographs of models, singers, and actresses as dressed up as humanly possible. I recommend Claire Danes in a big ballgown that lights up in the dark, Lady Gaga and Madonna strapped into elaborate bottomless things, and Taylor Swift stealing my hairstyle.

Is it Super Tuesday yet?

Have we finally reached the Tuesday that's going to end this bizarrely prolonged primary season? How soundly crushed do Bernie and Ted need to be for us to get out of this phase and onto the grisly business of choosing between 2 candidates most of us are never going to like?

I'm ready to move on to the stark reality that we've been staving off for so long. Put away your tattered dreams, America, and look at what you've done. It's Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, God help us.

How did that happen? Come, let's live in the world where we have to face that question. Put aside the denial that reeks of last year when we distracted ourselves endlessly with the thought that things that have happened can't possibly happen. Think about the Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton conflict in the context of an America where Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton happened.

I have no idea what we are to do in this place where we find ourselves, but I want to hear from people who have processed the reality that what has happened has happened. Don't waste my time with explanations of why Donald Trump cannot win. That's the sort of thing commentators have been saying for 10 months as Donald Trump been doing something new, something we've never seen before, so I don't want more assurances based on past elections about why someone like him cannot win. We haven't seen someone like him before. I don't think the commenters have begun to understand what he has done, so they are in no position to explain why he cannot do something else.

Here's Andrew Sullivan — emerging after a gloomy retreat from political commentary — to display his angry face on MSNBC and enact the old melodrama Donald Trump Is Racist and Fascist:

"He is a dangerous neofascist and he is using reality television and the media in a way that is leaving the rest of us in the dust. And it's terrifying to watch."

At least Sullivan recognizes that his defense is antiquated.

"In her journal, she jotted down her frustration: 'There’s Prince sitting on his purple throne...'"

"'... and he’s taking a perfectly good song off of this brilliant record and replacing it with this horrible "Gett Off" song.'...  she placed the book down and walked over. Suddenly, she heard Prince say, 'There’s prince, sitting on his purple throne...' He had picked up [Sylvia] Massy’s journal and started reading it aloud. Horrified, Massy ran to Prince and grabbed it out of his hand. But instead of being angry, Prince was laughing. 'He thought that was the greatest thing,' Massy said. 'Everyone just gave him lip service constantly, and no one really was honest with him, so I think he was impressed with that.... He was better at everything — it was just like the rest of the world was just kind of slowing him down'... [S]he remembers Prince once picking up an untuned Fender Telecaster with rusty strings: 'He played it in tune by shifting his fingers on the fret board so that the chords were in tune. I’d never seen anything like that before... Someone who could play an untuned guitar and make it in tune. It was mind-blowing.'"

From "What It Was Like To Be A Woman And Work With Prince/According to a sound engineer, a producer and a performer."

Jesus Lunch update.

A couple weeks ago, we were talking about the "Jesus Lunches" in the Middleton, Wisconsin park next to the high school. I'd said:
The district superintendent and the high school principal in Middleton, Wisconsin are trying to end this activity, which started in 2014, when some parents began meeting with their own children and their children's friends, and has grown to the point were the authorities are worrying about whether it's legal (and not worrying enough about whether stopping it is illegal).... A city park is a traditional speech forum where free-speech rights are at their strongest.... These are private citizens, not government employees, and they're speaking on a subject of their choice with their own point of view. That's plain old freedom of speech. You can't discriminate against it because the religious message is making some people uncomfortable or because you're reminded of things like prayer in the classroom that would present a problem under the Establishment Clause.
A fine point was that the school had some kind of lease on the park that let it impose school rules on the students, but the park was still open to the general public, to whom the school rules didn't apply.

The news today is that the school officials are planning to ask the city to cancel the lease, so the school will have no authority over the park. Email from the district superintendent Don Johnson to employees and parents suggested that this was the best move, in view of the potential for lawsuits from both sides of the controversy.
Johnson wrote in his message that Fleming believes the district’s authority to enforce school rules in Fireman’s Park under the lease “is questionable, and that the city has no interest in litigation to resolve the ambiguities in the language.”

[City attorney Matt] Fleming didn’t disagree. “The only legal problems they might have right now, they brought on to themselves,” he said. “Their school rules only apply to school people. It is a public park, and I don’t think anything untoward was happening.”
In Fleming's view, canceling the lease doesn't make a difference. But I'd say that since some people thought the school's lease mattered, getting that out of the picture could help them adjust to the reality of life in the United States of America.

Fleming says the situation "needs to calm down," but "there isn’t anything the city will do, if there’s no lease, to fundamentally change anything." He's right about that. The city shouldn't do anything (other than enforce the neutral rules that apply to everyone using the park, whatever they're talking about Jesus or geometry or whatever).

"This won’t be a place for nuns, but it’s not like we’re trying to recreate Sodom and Gomorrah."

"If attendees want to take things to another level, they can go to a nearby motel — which we will operate."

ADDED: Made me think of this:

May 2, 2016

"This is going to be a rough summer. There is no doubt about it. This is why we are talking about people getting to the airport a little earlier than planned."

Or how about a little later? Like... never.

(Quote in the post title is from Gary Rasicot, "recently appointed to a newly created position as the T.S.A.’s chief of operations," from a NYT article titled "Catching a Flight? Budget Hours, Not Minutes, for Security.")

"But we only want to see you laughing in your purple lace..."

"This is not a thing we’re inclined to love... but it’s a flawless Prince homage in a place where no one expected to see one. It’s all about the timing. This would’ve been almost generic at, say, the Grammys this year. But on Queen Helen at the White House...."

"The Giant Al Qaeda Defeat That No One’s Talking About."

So let's talk about it.

"Why Rubio hasn't endorsed Cruz."

Politico seems to know.

Oh, no! That was just too metaphorical.

Ted Cruz responds to a boy who yells "You suck!" at him.

"Apparently there’s a young man who's having some problems. Thank you, son. You know, I appreciate you sharing your views. You know, one of the things that hopefully someone has told you is that children should actually speak with respect. Imagine what a different world it would be if someone had told Donald Trump that years ago. You know, in my household, when a child behaved that way, they’d get a spanking."

Via The Daily Caller, which has numerous errors in the transcription, which I've corrected here. You know, in my household, when a child transcribed that way, they'd get a disquisition on the importance of accurate transcription.

By the way, maybe I'm a bad person — though not Lucifer — but this made me laugh a lot:

Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog tries to read the cert. petition in the Wisconsin John Doe case, but finds it hard because of redactions (even in parts of the questions presented).

But he finds what he calls "two meaty issues":
First, it seems pretty clear to me that the Wisconsin Supreme Court mangled U.S. constitutional campaign finance law to let elected officials like Gov. Scott Walker coordinate with outside groups on an unlimited basis with groups taking unlimited campaign contributions from whatever source so long as the outside groups avoid express words of advocacy like vote for or vote against. The second issue is whether those Justices on the WI Supreme Court who benefitted from the outside spending by the very groups before the court should have recused themselves from hearing the case. The number of redactions involving the actions of controversial state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser are remarkable in and of themselves.
But Hasen doesn't think the Court is likely to take the case — especially in its current 4-4 condition.

If emotion is inherently a component of reasoning and decisionmaking, is it wrong to discuss our political opinions in terms of how we "feel"?

Molly Worthen — the author of "Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’" — does exactly what I'd want to do: she consults Antonio Damasio (author of my absolute favorite book about thinking, "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain"):
So when I called Dr. Damasio, who teaches at the University of Southern California, I worried that he might strike down my humanistic observations with unflinching scientific objectivity. He didn’t — he hates the phrase ["I feel like"] as much as I do. He called it “bad usage” and “a sign of laziness in thinking,” not because it acknowledges the presence of emotion, but because it is an imprecise hedge that conceals more than it reveals. “It doesn’t follow that because you have doubts, or because something is tempered by a gut feeling, that you cannot make those distinctions as clear as possible,” he said.
ADDED: I'm not sure why Worthen limited her discussion to the phrase "I feel like..." rather than "I feel...." "I feel like" feels different from, feels like something different from "I feel." See what I mean? The "like" suggests approximation and simile. The speaker seems to be dramatizing his internal landscape. You don't even need the "feel." You can just say — as the kids these day do — "I'm like...." The idea is: This is me, here, having this experience. Watch me enact it.

But "I feel..." — without the "like" — could casually substitute for "I think." It's verbiage, stalling for time, perhaps setting up an honest revelation of the thought process and conceding, accurately, that it hasn't been carefully worked out. It can suggest a willingness to accept new information and to accommodate what the other person feels. Maybe we could combine our intuitions and get somewhere in this process of figuring out what's the best policy or which candidate to vote for.

And conversation isn't just about finding answers to various pesky questions. The highest value of conversation is intrinsic, human beings in a relationship. To say "I feel" can be to offer access into that intimacy. Can be. If the other person is saying "That's just how I feel," the signal is: I don't want to do this intimacy with you.

The problem isn't the word "feel" itself, but the particular feelings, expressed in context.

"Melania is as imperial as her husband, if not more so."

"Most aspiring First Ladies chase accessibility to the point of absurdity—Teresa Heinz Kerry called herself an 'African-American' when she spoke to black audiences—but Melania positions herself as aspirational, playing ice queen rather than soccer mom. Not only does she never joke about her husband; she is entirely self-serious. The most un-American thing about her is that she is discreet about her weaknesses. She doesn’t attempt to bond by deprecating herself. She makes no apologies for her twenty-five-carat diamond (a gift from Trump for their tenth anniversary), her formal life style ('He’s not a sweatpants child,' she has said, of Barron), her multiple houses ('Bye! I’m off to my #summer residence #countryside #weekend')."

From "The Model American/Melania Trump is the exception to her husband’s nativist politics" in The New Yorker. (Worth clicking through for the Barry Blitt illustration, which captures, among other things, her ever-smizing eyes.)

"As I read the transcript of Wednesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments in the corruption case of the former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, I thought of the movie 'Wayne’s World.'"

"There’s a scene halfway through the film in which Wayne and Garth, the lovable public-access TV hosts, argue with Benjamin, the slick corporate producer, about giving their sponsor airtime. As they make their case against selling out, Wayne and Garth serve as pitchmen. 'I will not bow to any sponsor,' Wayne says, sticking his hand into a Pizza Hut box and pulling out a slice. Before the Court this week, McDonnell’s lawyers made a similarly convincing claim that he couldn’t be bought."

Writes Gilad Edelman in The New Yorker.

Andrew Sullivan has a point but it's too hard to see.

He's back — instructing us about the meaning of Plato's Republic and Trump as "an extinction-level event" — but here's the challenge:

I know, I can make the text tinier and the headline box will take its intended place within the illustration...

... but this is like a shop without a wheelchair ramp. You're saying you don't care about people like me.

Anyway, here, I'll excerpt a paragraph — one that's not about Plato or Trump-as-Hitler dramatics. This is some well-stated political analysis about Hillary:
Remember James Carville’s core question in the 1992 election: Change versus more of the same? That sentiment once elected Clinton’s husband; it could also elect her opponent this fall. If you like America as it is, vote Clinton. After all, she has been a member of the American political elite for a quarter-century. Clinton, moreover, has shown no ability to inspire or rally anyone but her longtime loyalists. She is lost in the new media and has struggled to put away a 74-year-old socialist who is barely a member of her party. Her own unfavorables are only 11 points lower than Trump’s (far higher than Obama’s, John Kerry’s, or Al Gore’s were at this point in the race), and the more she campaigns, the higher her unfavorables go (including in her own party). She has a Gore problem. The idea of welcoming her into your living room for the next four years can seem, at times, positively masochistic.
Okay, this is something I've been wanting to talk about — reliance on "unfavorables." It seems to me, we're going to end up with 2 major-party candidates that most people don't like. The election is going to be decided by the people who are going to be stuck voting for one of 2 people neither of whom they like. The question isn't who has higher unfavorability, but which one is more capable of getting a vote from a person who is disgusted by both of them. As Sullivan's paragraph suggests, one is exciting, risky, and entertaining. The other is dreary, predictable, and medicinal.

May 1, 2016

"Ted Cruz’s Support Softens Among the Delegates He Courted."

The NYT observes:
Even as Donald J. Trump trounced him from New Hampshire to Florida to Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz could reassure himself with one crucial advantage: He was beating Mr. Trump in the obscure, internecine delegate fights that could end up deciding the Republican nomination for president.

“This is how elections are won in America,” Mr. Cruz gloated after walking away with the most delegates in Wyoming.

But turns out that delegates — like ordinary voters — are susceptible to shifts in public opinion. And as the gravitational pull of Mr. Trump’s recent primary landslides draws more Republicans toward him, Mr. Cruz’s support among the party’s 2,472 convention delegates is softening, threatening his hopes of preventing Mr. Trump’s nomination by overtaking him in a floor fight....

Bumble bee in the lungwort.

Video'd by Meade, just now, and texted to me from the backyard.

Feel free to discuss whatever you like in the comments.

"Who could imagine a man who is genuinely fond of ice cream becoming a Bolshevik?"

"Even strawberry ice cream would arouse no latent anarchistic tendencies, while vanilla or peach would be soothing to the very reddest of the Reds. There is as yet no record of a dangerous plot being hatched over a dish of ice cream."
In the 1920s, officials at Ellis Island became convinced that serving new immigrants ice cream “was an efficient method for making our future citizens more at home in their new environment.”...

"The problem right now is that the masculine has no honor whatever in our culture."

"We’re in a period now where young people are being processed for the universities, and the gender norms are said to be that gender is a construct. It is simply the product of environmental pressures on people. There’s no... nothing in the body...."

Said Camillle Paglia, in a conversation with Tyler Cowen, who'd asked here "For America, what should an ideal of masculinity look like now?"
COWEN: We have a big culture. Not everyone goes to university, thank goodness. You can go to a NASCAR race and a few of the people there have not been to the Ivy Leagues.

PAGLIA: Working class culture retains an idea of the masculine. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. But, with that, comes static. So you have to have strong women in order to deal with masculine men. That is why masculinity is constantly being eroded, diminished, and dissolved on university campuses because it allows women to be weak. If you have weak men, then you can have weak women. That’s what we have. Our university system, anything that is remotely masculine is identified as toxic, as intrinsic to rape culture. A utopian future is imagined where there are no men. We’re all genderless mannequins. The movie The Time Machine is like one. We’re moving toward that, the Eloi. That’s how I see the upper middle class graduates of the Ivy League. They’re the Eloi. They’re completely bland. They have no ideas. They all get along very well with each other because they’re nothing. They’re eating their fruits which are given to them by the Morlocks, or the industrial class. That’s how I see the future — unfortunately. I began my career talking about androgyny and talking about the imaginative complexity of androgyny and how the artist and the shaman and the prophet have this androgynous component. But today’s androgyny, it’s just boring....
Here's the precise clip (from the middle of an hour-and-a-half conversation):

I encountered the conversation because a few days ago, a commenter, Kit Carson pointed it it out because of something she said something about travel that seemed, to him, "althouse-like": "I’m like Huysmans’s aesthete, des Esseintes. I am not a great fan of traveling. I just feel like it’s become too onerous. No, I’m a mind traveler."

Here's the Huysmans text — "Against the Grain" — in full. Relevant excerpt:
The pleasure of travel, which only exists as a matter of fact in retrospect and seldom in the present, at the instant when it is being experienced, he could fully relish at his ease, without the necessity of fatigue or confusion, here in this cabin....

Movement, after all, seemed futile to him. He felt that imagination could easily be substituted for the vulgar realities of things....  One could revel... in long explorations while near one's own fireside, stimulating the restive or sluggish mind, if need be, by reading some suggestive narrative of travel in distant lands.....

The secret lies in knowing how to proceed, how to concentrate deeply enough to produce the hallucination and succeed in substituting the dream reality for the reality itself.

Artifice, besides, seemed to Des Esseintes the final distinctive mark of man's genius. Nature had had her day, as he put it. By the disgusting sameness of her landscapes and skies, she had once for all wearied the considerate patience of æsthetes. Really, what dullness! the dullness of the specialist confined to his narrow work. What manners! the manners of the tradesman offering one particular ware to the exclusion of all others. What a monotonous storehouse of fields and trees! What a banal agency of mountains and seas!
Kit Carson may have thought Paglia sounded like me, but Paglia proclaimed that she was like Des Esseintes. Reading the text, I wonder if Paglia really intended to seem to be finding nature dull and boring and best replaced by artifice and imagination. Paglia tends to recommend that brainy folk get out of their cloisters and into the real world, and I don't think she looks down her nose at "the vulgar realities of things."

In fact, the part of the conversation that interested me most, about the draining of masculinity from the loftier realms of American culture, bemoans the lack of experience living in the world, living — as she put it — in the body. That's why she talked about the Eloi. Here's the scene with the fruit-eating:

"I'm going back to my own time. I won't even bother to tell of the useless struggle, the hopeless future. But at least I can die among men!"

What Paglia said that interested me most was that "masculinity is constantly being eroded, diminished, and dissolved on university campuses because it allows women to be weak." That's a variation on something I've been thinking lately. In my way of looking at it, "allows" is the wrong word. I think we need to consider whether masculinity is constantly being eroded because it serves the purpose of making women weak.