March 12, 2016

A man holding a Trump sign is interviewed and, as he speaks, someone creeps up and calmly rips the Trump sign in half.

On Twitter, much tittering.

"And to think I had such an easy life. What do I need this for, right? You know why I need it? Because I've done great. I love this country. We're going to make this country great again. I owe... it's payback time."

Says Donald Trump, immediately springing back after "his bodyguards race to surround him on stage minutes after he brushed off last night's Chicago racist violence as 'planned attack' by 'professional wiseguys.'"

The quote in the headline is my transcription from the video at the link (which goes to The Daily Mail). Just before he says that, he says, "'Thank you for the warning. I was ready for 'em, but it's much better if the cops do it, don't we agree?," which is quoted in the article. The Daily Mail headline says that Trump is "left visibly shaken," but it is my observation that Trump does not flinch and displays solid physical courage. And by the way, the "bodyguards" are Secret Service agents. They surrounded him because an audience member had gotten onto the stage and thrown something.

The line "it's payback time" could be misinterpreted and used very aggressively against Trump (as part of the theory that he's against various groups and out to damage them), but I think that, in the context, it's obvious that he's answering his own question: Why am I doing this when I had such a luxuriously comfortable life? The answer is that he did well and he feels an obligation to give back.

2 minutes of 360° video at the scene of the canceled Trump rally in Chicago.

This is from the Chicago Tribune. I love the ability to swivel around an see different people and get a sense of where they were. (The function worked in my Firefox browser but not in Safari.)

Particularly interesting, at 1:14: A black man yells "Go back to Europe" repeatedly at a young white man who's wearing a Trump T-shirt.

"Okay, so as a looney leftie who is constantly told by liberals I can't dislike Obama for things like..."

"... ramping up the drone war, finding legal justification to extrajudicially murder American citizens without trial, and so on and so forth, because of his "other accomplishments" that just outweigh that so much. You know, like that hand-out to the insurance industry instead of giving us Single Payer healthcare we all asked for, oh and don't forget, he's cool with gay people! So *waves hands* just forget all this icky shit happening, he loves teh gays! Isn't that just progressive? So, for real, considering this is fucking flat out going down the 1984/Police State hole, can I officially hate Obama for such obviously fascist positions? Can I just say I hate him, just this once, and not be told that I'm not a good liberal because of it? That I need to let it go because he's done some minor stuff for regular people? What the living hell is going on with our government? How can they make these kind of arguments with a straight face, and why am I expected to take them fucking seriously, and treat them with respect when they pull this kind of shit? How am I supposed to take Democrats seriously when this is just as bad, or worse, than anything Bush II ever pulled while in the White House? This was a moment that the shoe incident needed a fucking repeat. Maybe a swift redwing to the noggin might make Obama realize he's being the worst he can fucking be. He may have skipped Nancy Reagan's funeral for this, but god damn did he position himself on the coattails of Reagan with this speech. Seriously, I am so angry right now. I can hardly even contain it over this shit. Honestly, any government official suggesting this kind of thing against their citizens should be fucking impeached."

A comment on a Metafilter post about "Obama, at South by Southwest, Calls for Law Enforcement Access in Encryption Fight."

At last night's canceled Trump rally, why did individual protesters, asked on camera what they were protesting, say "I choose not to answer"?

In the comments to the first post of the day, sane_voter said:
Lots of Mexican flags at the riot, with the folks holding them flipping the bird and shouting profanity. Just doing the jobs that many Americans won't do.
Original Mike said "I saw that" and added:
Fox had reporters going through the crowd later in the evening. When asked why they were protesting, several protesters said "I choose not to answer". WTF kind of protester is that?
I'm making a separate post out of that because I believe the question is easy to answer. I know the answer from thousands of history lessons and Hollywood movies, like that one where the child disperses a lynch mob by talking to one individual and calling him by name.

There are the things people do in groups, where the individual is merged with the feeling of the whole group, where the group activity deafens the individual's access to conscience...

... and the way the conscience can snap back when the individual is singled out, confronted squarely, and asked to speak — to bring forward thoughts from his own mind. In the movies, that individual stares silently, then turns and goes away. On television, with a microphone aimed at his face, he says: "I choose not to answer."

The greatest mob break-up in the history of cinema came, I believe, in the 1927 silent film "King of Kings," discussed a few years ago on this blog, here. The mob is about to stone a woman to death for the sin of adultery, and Jesus goes one by one to individuals and writes in the sand, for each, the name of a sin. Each individual, on seeing the name of his sin, turns and walks away.

"Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say."

"Recently, university researchers asked children and parents to describe the rules they thought families should follow related to technology...."
[T]here was one surprising rule that the children wanted that their parents mentioned far less often: Don’t post anything about me on social media without asking me. As in, no pictures of them asleep in the back of the car. No posts about their frustration with their homework. That victory picture after the soccer game? Maybe. The frustrated rant about the fight you just had over laundry? No way.
It's not surprising to me. I've been saying this on the blog for at least 10 years. It's something parents don't want to hear, so I guess every time they hear it it comes as a big surprise.
Many, if not most, new parents post images of their newborn online within an hour of birth, and some parents create social media accounts for the children themselves....

With the first babies of Facebook (which started in 2004) not yet in their teens and the stylish kids of Instagram (which started in 2010) barely in elementary school, families are just beginning to explore the question of how children feel about the digital record of their earliest years. But as this study, although small, suggests, it’s increasingly clear that our children will grow into teenagers and adults who want to control their digital identities.
Denial and resistance will blot out this report. People want to believe that what they do with their children they do out of love. But even where you feel love, you should not act out in a way that appropriates another person's autonomy. Think of other things love makes us want to do and that we know we cannot do without permission.

The politics of getting 17-year-olds the right to vote in the Ohio primary.

On March 8th, the NYT said "Bernie Sanders Sues Over Ohio Rule Barring 17-Year-Olds From Primary," but yesterday's NYT article — "Bernie Sanders Praises Ruling Allowing 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Ohio" — began "A group of 17-year-olds in Ohio has successfully persuaded a state judge to allow them to vote in the state’s primary on Tuesday."

Who brought the lawsuit? Sanders or a group of teenagers? Answer: Both. The March 8th article says that Sanders filed a suit in federal district court. (He argued that the Ohio Secretary of State Jon A. Husted, had "'arbitrarily' discriminated against young black and Latino voters by not allowing 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote in Ohio’s primary next week.")

But the decision that was announced yesterday came from a state judge. The article about the victory at the trial court level in that case eventually refers to the federal court case. A decision in that case is expected on Monday (and I'll bet that the federal judge abstains in deference to the state court proceedings). There was duplicative litigation, presumably to increase the publicity about the issue and the likelihood of some useful action from a court.

The primary is this coming Tuesday, so how is this litigation supposed to play out sensibly? There will be an appeal from the state court's decision, and the state appellate courts will have to act very quickly, perhaps visiting disappointment on the teenagers at the 11th hour, just as they were envisioning their sunny jaunt to the polls for the very first time.

Young people are being encouraged to feel that they are being treated unfairly, discriminated against, and I expect the primary day media to be filled with fresh-faced idealistic 17-year-olds yearning to participate in democracy. They've got to fill the airwaves with something on Tuesday, as we're so interested in what's happening but there are no results to report yet. How many 18- and 19-year-olds will feel inspired to go down there to the polls and vote on behalf of their oppressed fellow teenagers and cast that vote for Bernie, the old man who cares about the youngest of the young voters? And even older voters will get a charge out of the fight against that "'arbitrar[y]' discriminat[ion] against young black and Latino voters."

Oh, it's a fine brew of law and politics. Drink up, children! Feel the Bern!

Protesters shut down the Trump rally in Chicago and WaPo's headline is "Skirmishes erupt after Trump cancels Chicago rally over security concerns."

As if the action started with Trump. He canceled, and then "skirmishes" happened. The active agents, the protesters, don't even appear. They are merged into the notion of "skirmishes" — blurs of human activity within which who knows who's doing what?

The text of the article, unlike the headline, puts the events in what I think is the right order:
Donald Trump hastily postponed his Friday night rally in Chicago because of “growing safety concerns” created by thousands of protesters inside and outside of an arena at the University of Illinois. The decision immediately sparked nasty verbal and physical fights between protesters and Trump supporters who had been eager to see him that night.
The protesters created a scene of massive disorder, forcing Trump to stay away, and the Trump supporters experienced a great affront. They'd come out to see their guy, gone through all the procedures and the waiting, witnessed the protests, and then heard that these protesters had crushed their opportunity to listen to a speech and show him their support.
A crowd of more than 9,000 learned of the cancelation at about 6:35 p.m. Central Time, more than half an hour after Trump was scheduled to take the stage. The thousands of protesters immediately burst into cheers and began chanting: "We stopped Trump! We stopped Trump!" Many of Trump's supporters, who had waited hours to see him, seemed stunned and a few tried a chant of their own, without much luck: "USA! USA!" As the two sides reacted to the news, skirmishes broke out in the crowd and spilled out of the arena into a mass protest outside.
I'm surprised it wasn't an all-out riot. The Trump supporters were massively disappointed, needed to get out of a crowded arena, and they were surrounded by the people who'd caused the disappointment, people who'd now taken to taunting them, chanting. But there were only "skirmishes." I'd say the Trump supporters showed amazing restraint
"It sent a message that Chicago is a very liberal city and it will always be a liberal city because it does not promote hate -- it promotes love and it promotes prosperity," said Farris Ahmad, 23, a protester and junior political science major at the College of DuPage. He was cut off by a group of police sparring with a Trump supporter who had ripped away a cloth sign being held by a protester, sparking a profanity-filled tussle.
I guess WaPo highlighted Ahmad's shaky lesson in the meaning of "liberal" because of the vivid contrast between his fuzzy-headed proclamation and the police getting after a Trump supporter who could be portrayed as out of control. One guy grabbed a sign. Through the veil of WaPo journalism, I'm seeing surprisingly tame Trumpers.

WaPo tells us that the Chicago police and the University of Illinois police say they didn't participate in the decision to cancel but doesn't provide information about the role of the Secret Service.
After the rally was canceled, demonstrators on the streets could be heard shouting "Bernie! Bernie" as well as "16 shots," a reference to the number of times a white Chicago police officer fired at Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old killed in 2014. Large protests erupted in Chicago after video footage of McDonald's death was released last November.
How connected were the protesters to the Bernie Sanders campaign and to Black Lives Matter? These organizations should be pressed to take a position: Do they condone protests aimed at shutting down rallies or do they condemn them? If Trump had something like this happening in his name he would be pressured to denounce, condemn, deplore, and disown — over and over.

March 11, 2016

"Oh, brother - if more and better tape emerges proving this was a bum rap on Lewandowski delivered by fellow sure to be characterized as a Trump-bashing media elitist, then yike."

"Even paranoids have real enemies, and even righties have real fears about a hostile media. Not Helpful to run towards the flames with a can of gasoline. DISCLOSURES: I am #NeverTrump with a long history of distrusting the media, so take a moment to imagine my angst... UPDATE... Unless C Lew and the security guy have extraordinary footwork I don't see how C Lew grabs Fields on her left arm without blocking the security guy. OTOH, the security guy could easily grab Fields' left arm, drag her back, and slide right by...."

Either you know what that's about or you don't. But steel yourself for endless he-hit-me stories from the press (as they jostle for position and feel roughed up) and from protesters at political rallies who get right where they only need to provoke one intemperate Trump enthusiast to make trouble for the politician they hate.

"The intelligence source said the FBI is 'extremely focused' on the 22 'top secret' emails deemed too damaging to national security to publicly release under any circumstances..."

"... with agents reviewing those sent by Clinton as well her subordinates including former chief of staff Cheryl Mills."
"Mrs. Clinton sending them in this instance would show her intent much more than would receiving [them],” the source said. "Hillary Clinton was at a minimum grossly negligent in her handling of NDI [National Defense Information] materials merely by her insisting that she utilize a private server versus a [U.S. government] server. Remember, NDI does not have to be classified." According to the Congressional Research Service, NDI is broadly defined to include “information that they have reason to know could be used to harm the national security.”...
From: "Source: Clinton IT specialist revealing server details to FBI, 'devastating witness.'"

"So I take it you're posting this because it resonates with that Donald Trump pledge that's been criticized as too fascistic."


If Trump is teaching a class in how reality works, Scott Adams is the gunner in that class.

"Trump will change how you view human beings in general. His complete disregard for facts is irrelevant to the outcome of the race because he knows humans don’t use facts to make decisions. They use emotion.  Only one candidate in the race understands how reality works, and he’s teaching us as he goes. All I’m doing is documenting it."

Says Scott Adams.

"There’s the one you see on the stage, and there’s the one who’s very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully."

"You can have a very good conversation with him. And that’s the Donald Trump that you’re going to start seeing more and more of right now."

Said Ben Carson, endorsing Donald Trump.

It was a whole 45-minute press conference. Trump loves the press conference format. From the NYT description:
Mr. Trump, whose sedate appearance in the Miami debate Thursday evening was widely noted, said he believes it’s time to move past [debates].

“We’ve had enough debates in my opinion,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his news conference. “It would be nice to finish off with this one,” he said, pointing out that he had repeatedly called it an “elegant” debate and saying it was simply time for a calm, staid debate so that the party could come together.
If the new tone is to be elegant and calm, there's no better exemplar of the tone than Ben Carson.

Well played.

AND: This post gets the civility bullshit tag. Do you see why? There are a lot of posts with that tag, so let me save you the trouble of looking for the answer if you don't remember what that tag means. It designates a call for civility and includes my opinion on the subject: Calls for civility are always bullshit. They are never really about civility as a neutral principle. Civility is called for to tame the opposition, when it serves your interest.

I assume we're dealing with burst photography, so the question is: Why choose this particular instant?

Everyone was just talking about that wonderful photograph that Christopher Horner captured at a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game last Saturday. A father's arm stops a baseball bat the instant before it would have hit the face of his son, who seems to have been distracted by his smart phone, and all the people around are flinching in various interesting ways. It's a wonderful composition, and I assume Horner used a camera that shot a burst of photos that made part of the art the choosing of the precise instant in which the various elements were, in his view, most meaningful and exciting.

Now, here's a fascinating frame shot by AP's Jacquelyn Martin, published in USAToday, documenting the state dinner last night in the White House, where the Obamas honored Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau:

My first thought was: This frame was chosen for the tilt of Michelle Obama's head and the expression on her face. Is there a Sophia Loren vibe?

It must be that we were intended to feel the lure of the age-old drama of sly/anxious woman-on-woman inspection. But no. I step back from that precipice. I'm not skiing down that slope.

I scan the whole frame. I think: This is a very odd picture, with President Obama exiting into the right margin, his face already out of the frame. The absence of the most important face might reinforce the idea that this frame is all about Michelle. She's the center of human drama. What's going on in her head?

But settle in. Calm down. Obama's striding off-screen is symbolic. The man is in the act of walking out of the Presidency. Once you notice that — ah! — you see it: Another face! Peeping over the shoulders of those military men. We've been talking about the photo frame, but within that frame there's another frame, like a window into the room, and in that window there's the face of a man, eyeing the interior, like he's watching and thinking about how to climb in. Of course, it's not really a window frame. It's a picture frame. But there's that face. The man who wants in.

Bill Clinton!

UPDATE: The NYT has the same photo but with the complete figure of Obama in the frame (except for the end of his foot). So the picture we've been talking about was cropped, with Obama's face deliberately excluded. The full-width picture makes a very different impression, with Obama and Justin Trudeau striding forward, in step, each with one long leg extended.

"Men are enemies and oppressors of women, sexual intercourse is an act that 'perfectly expresses' male domination..."

"... every male is potentially a rapist, male and female roles are the 'pathology of oppression,' and sex roles must be destroyed — this is what feminists believe. If you do not believe these things, guess what? You are not a feminist."

Robert Stacy McCain makes an argument for a very strong and quite offensive definition of feminism.

This is an interesting form of argument, where you take a central term that people have infused with various meanings, adapting it to their preferences and purposes, and present evidence that the truest, most historically accurate meaning of that term refers to things that those who've been embracing it would find repellent.

One post down, we see something similar in Garry Kasparov's argument — aimed at Bernie Sanders supporters — about socialism.

I'm interested in words, and I go back, as I do so often, to my personal favorite go-to wordsmith, Bob Dylan. As soon as I wrote the sentences you see above, this verse played in my head:
A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now 
"Equality," that's your word, and it's suppressing a better word: "liberty." Watch out for those untrustworthy oldies who are calling you to ruin with their word "equality." You know what's really happening under the "equality" banner? Well, let me tell you.


A state-ordained professor.

"I'm enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means!"

"Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd."

Wrote Garry Kasparov on Facebook, in a post that has been widely shared. He expands on it here, at The Daily Beast.
America transformed the 20th century in its image with its unparalleled success. American technology created the modern world while American culture infused it and American values inspired it. In recent decades that storyline has flipped. The tireless work ethic and spirit of risk-taking and sacrifice have slowly eroded.....

I respect and even like Bernie Sanders. He’s a charismatic speaker and a passionate believer in his cause...  The “revolution” rhetoric of Senator Sanders has struck a chord with many Americans, especially the young voters who are realizing that their own lives are unlikely to match the opportunities and wealth of their parents and grandparents. They are being left behind in a rapidly changing world. It is a helpless, hopeless feeling.

The problem is with the proposed solutions. A society that relies too heavily on redistributing wealth eventually runs out of wealth to redistribute. The historical record is clear. It’s capitalism that brought billions of people out of poverty in the 20th century. It’s socialism that enslaved them and impoverished them....

Madonna's sad, drunk clown performance expressing her woe over losing her son Rocco to Rocco's father Guy Ritchie.

The Sun reports:
The 57-year-old singer stunned fans by riding on stage on a child’s tricycle dressed as a clown — four hours late. Then, while downing vodka cocktails, she told the crowd that... “Everybody knows the saga of me and my son Rocco. It’s not a fun story to tell or think about.”... She explained she was dressed as a clown because “to me they symbolise heartbreak”.

The star added: “There is something tragic about clowns because they try so hard to make you laugh and smile. They are obviously covering up something, there is something going on inside. What do you think is going on inside of me?”
Was she drunk and missing cues? I would assume the answer is no. Madonna always survives, always performs, and — most famously — always transforms. Crying clown is another Madonna persona. She was drinking vodka on stage, the report says? How do you know that isn't water? Madonna is very dramatic, but she's controlled and performing. This drunken performance included special costumes — for herself and her fellow performers — and coordinated video projections. She had a tricycle to ride and fall off of. An accident, you think? I don't. She even had a line — I say prepared — for when she fell of the tricycle: “Somebody thought I was pregnant. Nope. Nobody wants to fuck a clown.” She sang a song while sprawled on the floor. A sign of drunkenness? She sang while sprawling on the floor 30 years ago.

I remember watching that in 1984 and talking about how she was losing control, had terrible judgment, and was turning into a mess. Ha! How wrong can you be?! I recovered from that misassessment long ago. My presumption is that Madonna is a pop-art media genius. And I bet her boy Rocco turns out just fine.

March 10, 2016

Another debate! This might be very important.

Please talk about it here. And here's my son John's live-blog, which should be really good.

How about reducing rising ocean levels by pumping seawater up onto Antarctica where it can freeze?

The difficulty is you'd have to pump 360 billion tons of water for each millimeter of seawater, and the oceans are said to be rising 3 millimeters per year. The energy it would take to shoot the water inland and up 2 miles would be 7 percent the energy generated worldwide. You could use wind turbines — and it is very windy in Antarctica — but you'd need 850,000 of them. And it would be screwing with the ecosystem of Antarctica, in violation of the Antarctic treaty.

Ben Carson is going to endorse Donald Trump.

That's huge.

Camille Paglia, from her "perspective as a fervent supporter of the ruggedly honest and principled Bernie Sanders," likes Trump's "moxie" and "pragmatic real-life record."

She finds Trump "far more palatable national figure than Ted Cruz, whose unctuous, vainglorious professions of Christian piety don’t pass the smell test."  She proudly displays a visceral loathing of Cruz's face as "weirdly womanish... with its prim, tight smile and mawkishly appealing puppy-dog eyebrows... a waxen mask, always on the verge of melting." Trump, on the other hand, has "the urban flash and bling of a Frank Sinatra," except that he's better than Frank Sinatra because he's "a workaholic who doesn’t drink and who has an interesting penchant for sophisticated, strong-willed European women."

"Can we agree that calling the candidate with German ancestry 'Hitler' is racist?"

"It sure feels that way to me. I’m about half German, same as Trump. And it feels like a racial insult to me...."

Scott Adams, doing his thing today.

Also: "You might THINK Trump has said some ethnically insensitive things during this campaign, but that’s an illusion...."

Sanders campaign accuses Hillary of cheating during the debate.

A photo seems to prove that she met with advisers during the commercial break, which was against the rules.

The dean of Berkeley's law school has taken an indefinite leave of absence after an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment.

"The complaint states that when [Sujit] Choudhry took over as dean of the law school in July 2014, he gave [executive assistant Tyann] Sorrell unwanted bear hugs and kisses, among other sexual contact from July 2014 to March 2015," The Daily Californian reports.
In July, UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination found that Choudhry had violated the university’s sexual harassment policies, according to the complaint. During the investigation, Choudhry allegedly admitted to hugging, kissing, messaging or caressing Sorrell at least multiple times per week, as well as hugging and kissing other female employees.
Messaging? I'm going to assume that was supposed to read "massaging."

Anyway, I don't know what actually happened, but I'm a little puzzled by what might have been an openly displayed "huggy" style. I don't quite understand why, if there were rules against it, he didn't quickly learn that it wasn't considered acceptable. Is the accusation that he was actually seeking sexual intimacy or just that he was going for a warm, family-style feeling that he thought was good?

"It is not surprising that a party which argues for a self-conscious nation-state in a Europe of Fatherlands is seen as reactionary."

"That only shows how one-sided the discussion in Germany has been for years," said Frauke Petry, a leader of Alternative for Germany quoted in a NYT article titled "Germany’s Embrace of Migrants Spawns Rise of Far-Right Leader."
As for the Nazi past, she said, “the uniqueness, the singularity of German guilt has stood much too often in the forefront, and distorted the view that there are also enough positive aspects to our history.”

In a shabby hall on the outskirts of Mannheim, a city of 300,000 about 60 miles south of Frankfurt, Ms. Petry got a sympathetic hearing from some 250 listeners.

“Germany is crazy,” said Katja Kornmacher, 46, who said she works in a publishing house and holds two university degrees. “We have the feeling that we can’t say anything” against the leftist view in Germany. “It starts in school, where we are told what is correct. And those who follow this line land better in life... The line is: ‘Right is bad, left is good.’ And then the leftists are outside shouting against this democratic event.”

"Although the new 2017 law school rankings will be released online on Wednesday, March 16..."

"... the Top 50 has been leaked online."
The biggest winners are Houston (+9), Indiana (+9), UC-Hastings (+9), Wake Forest (+7), Boston University (+6), Boston College (+4), Ohio State (+4), Michigan (+3), Arizona (+2), Iowa (+2), Temple (+2), UC-Irvine (+2), Washington & Lee (+2)

The biggest losers are Alabama (-6), University of Washington (-5), BYU (-4), North Carolina (-4), William & Mary (-4), Duke (-3), Emory (-3), Fordham (-3), George Mason (-3), George Washington (-3), Utah (-3), Georgia (-2), Minnesota (-2), Wisconsin (-2)

Donald Trump isn't a con man.

He's a huckster.

There's a difference.

I'm making the con man/huckster distinction.

He's not like Bernie Madoff. He's more like Hugh Hefner or Ron Popeil. Meade and I were talking about this idea and he challenged me to name someone else who fit my idea of Trump as the huckster. It took me a while, but I came up with Hugh Hefner. Then he revealed the name he had in mind: Ron Popeil.

Notice how both of those men put their brand on products and promoted them and — through their personality — made people feel an extra boost of positivity about products that were varied and real.

"The fall 2016 Undercover show began with models dressed in long, nubby cardigans, furry trousers, fuzzy slippers and photo-printed shirts."

"They cuddled into big furry jackets and toted handbags that looked like pillows. They were somnambulating beauties.  A concrete jungle had been transformed into a fanciful forest. And the message for the curious consumer is that fashion is getting ever easier and more comfortable. So you might as well relent and buy a pair of fuzzy house shoes and wear them to the market...."

Writes Robin Givhan — sorry it's WaPo again, and I know you don't have a subscription — about some pretty amazing clothes. Example:

Wife privilege.

"Camille Cosby refused to answer questions at least 98 times, citing marital or attorney-client privilege, during a contentious deposition that became public when a transcript was filed earlier this week in a federal court in Massachusetts."

"When judges are not interpreting, they’re creating, and to understand judicial creation one must understand first of all the concept of 'priors.'"

Writes Judge Richard A. Posner in a WaPo column titled "The Supreme Court is a political court. Republicans’ actions are proof."
Priors are what we bring to a new question before we’ve had a chance to do research on it. They are attitudes, presuppositions derived from upbringing, from training, from personal and career experience, from religion and national origin and character and ideology and politics. They are unavoidable tools of decision-making in nontechnical fields, such as law, which is both nontechnical and analytically weak, in the sense that there are no settled principles for resolving the most difficult and consequential legal controversies. The tools I am calling priors can in principle and sometimes in practice be overridden by evidence. But often they are impervious to evidence, being deeply embedded in what we are, and that is plainly true of judging — not in every case but in cases that can’t be resolved by interpretation or some other decision-making tool that everyone understands and uses in an identical way. The priors that seem to exert the strongest influence on present-day Supreme Court justices are political ideology and attitudes toward religion....

I may seem to be criticizing the court by calling it politicized. That is not my intention....
IN THE COMMENTS: PB says: "Singling out one party over the other is idiotic, in spite of my respect for Posner."

I think Posner would admit that if the parties were reversed and the President were Republican and the Senate Democrat that the same strategies would be followed by the President and the Senate. His theory does dictate that, even though the WaPo headline writer makes this piece looks like a swipe at Republicans.

This reminds me of a passage I was just reading in the great book about the Supreme Court, "The Brethren.": "Brennan liked to tell his clerks that Harlan had been the 'only real judge' on the Court in the years of Brennan’s service, the only Justice who weighed the legal issues with sufficient dispassion."

ADDED: Posner makes much of judges' religion and elsewhere in WaPo today there's "What would a Hindu justice mean for the Supreme Court?" (by Julie Zauzmer). One of the buzzed about names is Sri Srinivasan, who is Hindu, so Zauzmer — speaking with much less depth about law than Posner — asks how Hinduism might affect "religiously charged issues like abortion and gay rights." She finds an expert on Hinduism who isn't thinking about Posner's notion of "priors" when he tells her:
“There is no such thing as a Hindu belief about, say, abortion or stem cell research right now which would influence any particular case. Any Hindu who occupies a judicial position will interpret the law as it is, rather than through his or her religious viewpoint... There is no Hindu baggage, as such, at all.”
By the way, if we're going to think about the religion that exists in the minds that will be making decisions for us, and I think it is something important to consider, we ought to remember that there are currently no Protestants on the Court. Yes, a Hindu would give us another "first," but in terms of representing the majority of Americans and the history and tradition of America, the complete absence of Protestants is dramatic. 

"Oleaginous spiked on March 8th, after the word was used by New York Times columnist David Brooks, in reference to Senator Ted Cruz."

Says the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website.
Brooks is not the only writer who has seen fit to employ this adjective when describing the senator from Texas; a fair number of other pundits have decided that Cruz merits this less-than-flattering descriptor....

Oleaginous came to the English language in the 15th century from Latin via the Middle French. For several hundred years the word simply had such meanings as "resembling or having the properties of oil" and "containing or producing oil." In the early 19th century it began to be used in a figurative sense, to refer to people or things that were perhaps a little too slick....
"Oleaginous"? It's a big word, suitable for elite-media prose, where — when a man makes you think about oiliness — you can't just write something blatant and easy-to-understand like "greaseball":
usually offensive
a person of Hispanic or Mediterranean descent

Men's fashion photo that made me click from email to the Barney's website.

I'm just so fascinated by this picture. Is it the painter's pants detail and the illusion of white paint? Is it the way the lower legs seem to be breaking up like a bad hologram? Is it the blue face? The oh-my-kidneys pose?

I don't know but the link took me here, where I didn't see the particular outfit, but I did see some clothes with the brand Fear of God — which is either blasphemous or nicely associative with the sexy idea of putting it into you — and some pants that I find simply hilarious.

Like a child playing dress-up with daddy's pants.

"I am not a natural politician"... but I play one on TV.

So there was Hillary at last night's debate:
9:51 — A mother who brought her 5 children to the debate asks a question, in Spanish (translated by a moderator), about the fact that her husband has been deported and can't see his family. Of course, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both say they're committed to stopping that kind of thing from happening. But Sanders's answer is relatively vague. Clinton gives a stronger answer, not just because she gives more policy specifics, but also because she starts by connecting with the woman on a more emotional level, praising her for her bravery: "This is an incredible act of courage that I'm not sure many people really understand." Clinton seems to have sharply observed her husband in a famous moment in one of the general-election debates in 1992, when incumbent President Bush gave a weak answer to a woman who asked about the national debt, and then Bill Clinton connected with the questioner in a way Bush hadn't.

Ironically, a few minutes later, [Hillary] Clinton candidly admits: "I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama. . . ."
Here's that fateful 1992 vignette, which begins with H.W. Bush looking at his watch:

The debate live-blogging came from my son John, who posted that particular bit on Facebook, where I responded:
Watching that clip again, I'm pained by that woman's disrespect for President Bush. She's interrupting him, prodding him to answer the question her way. Bill Clinton then swanned into his hokey role. It made great political theater, with the help of a press that didn't have the internet to show how things look from different perspectives. Hillary knows the lesson from 1992 and she's always looking for a way to show empathy. But to me, she's more like HW Bush, who's famous for saying "Message: I care."
Like H.W. Bush, Hillary doesn't have the kind of human feeling — real or fake — that oozes out naturally and gets all over some lady's dress. She knows it and strives — ever the overachiever — to make up for it. She has her memo to take a pause and, before launching into a wonky answer, just voice shared emotion with someone who has revealed her pain. H.W. Bush seemed to actually quote the memo when he said: "Message: I care." Hillary's a lot more verbally adept. She said something specific to the questioner — "This is an incredible act of courage that I'm not sure many people really understand" — and she added some disarming self-effacement — "I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama."

I just want to show a little empathy for the politicians who offer their services to us even though they know they don't light our fire. There's no reason to think that those who heat us up are going to do a better job when confined to the White House endlessly force-fed information and pressured into continual decisionmaking. It's okay, it's perfectly fine not to be a natural politician, and I liked her left-handed compliment to Bill and Barack.

We don't need an entertainer in the Oval Office and maybe we shouldn't even want one.

"Inside Rubio’s collapse: A fateful decision that helped unravel his campaign."

That's the headline at WaPo for an article by Philip Rucker, Ed O'Keefe and Matea Gold. What's the "fateful decision"? It's something you know very well: the decision to suddenly take on the persona of a bad standup comic and to talk about sweat, pee, and penises in a desperate attempt to cut down Donald Trump.
A strategy designed to get under Trump’s skin and force him on the defensive instead backfired on Rubio, diminishing the 44-year-old senator who had spent years trying to demonstrate presidential gravitas. At rally after rally, Rubio was unintentionally personifying the caricature that Trump was perpetually drawing of him: “Little Marco.”...

“In terms of things that have to do with personal stuff, yeah, at the end of the day it’s not something I’m entirely proud of,” Rubio said [at an MSNBC town hall on Wednesday]. “My kids were embarrassed by it, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t.”...
Sure, after you've seen the results, you regret the decision. A President is supposed to need good judgment looking forward.
Rubio’s pivot to Trump was by all accounts deliberate and carefully planned. With the exception of his debate meltdown in New Hampshire — when he was mocked for robotically repeating talking points — Rubio had a strong early February, slowly gaining momentum, money and high-wattage endorsements. Once Trump beat him and Cruz in South Carolina and Nevada, however, Rubio’s supporters agitated for him to take a more aggressive stance or risk letting Trump run away with the nomination.

Randy Kendrick, an influential conservative donor, said she and her husband, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, encouraged Rubio to go on the offensive, “defining Trump.” “Stand up for what we believe in,” she said. “If we lose, okay. But he will be able to say, ‘We did the right thing.’ ”
A President is responsible for choosing his advisers and deciding what to do with their advice.
As the Houston debate approached, the senior leadership of Rubio’s campaign decided to go after Trump. They fed the candidate a mountain of opposition research about Trump’s business dealings and past liberal positions. Senior adviser Todd Harris, who runs Rubio’s debate preparation sessions, helped him develop specific lines of attack that would serve Trump some of his own medicine.

“Rubio felt he needed to point out some of Trump’s massive inconsistencies — and to try to do it with a little bit of humor,” said one Republican with knowledge of the preparations, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “It was a conscious decision.”

In the post-debate spin room, Rubio’s team boasted that their candidate had finally found Trump’s Kryptonite. “Donald Trump has always been effective at picking up someone’s perceived weakness, and really exploiting it,” campaign manager Terry Sullivan told reporters. “Well, guess what? Marco has Donald’s number. And it’s that this is a joke.”
Rubio thought he could play Trump's game, but he had way too little respect for that game and thought he could jump right in and do it well, while provoking the man who'd developed it, practiced it in public for many years, and who came to that style as a natural expression of his thoughts and feelings. Rubio's decision was either foolish or utterly desperate. If it was foolish, we don't need a fool for President. If it was desperate, that means Rubio had already lost and he knew it.

And by the way, as I said yesterday, Rubio has all the information he needs to know that if his goal is to stop Trump, he should get out now, endorse Ted Cruz, and give Cruz a chance to win Florida. If he doesn't, he should be held responsible for the failure to stop Trump. And I'd assume it means that Rubio prefers Trump to Cruz, but that's an assumption based on a weak foundation — that Rubio is good at making decisions.

March 9, 2016

I cannot believe there is another debate.

Feel free to comment here. I don't have the spirit to live-blog, but somehow, as ever, my son John is carrying on the old live-blogging tradition....
9:11 — Hillary Clinton is asked how she "failed" last night, when she lost Michigan. She doesn't answer the question. Instead, she points out that she got more total votes and delegates last night — in Michigan and Mississippi combined. When pressed to answer the question, she just says it was "close."

Padma Lakshmi says her husband Salman Rushdie called her "a bad investment" and was insensitive to her struggle with endometriosis.

She stood by him as he lived under a fatwa, but he accused her of using her ailment as an excuse not to have sex with him. She decided it was better to live alone, "free to wallow in my malaise, and nurse myself without seeing the disappointment in his face." She has a new memoir, and as she tells it, he said "You have the right to tell your side of the story as you see it."

He's written about her after all, in a memoir where he calls her his "Illusion" and — as the NYT puts it in "Padma Lakshmi Opens Up About Rushdie in Memoir" — he "describes her as irrational, vapid and vain."
“Her feelings for him — he would learn — were real, but intermittent,” he wrote. “She was ambitious in a way that often obliterated feeling. They would have a sort of life together — eight years from first meeting to final divorce, not a negligible length of time — and in the end, inevitably, she broke his heart as he had broken Elizabeth’s.” He also suggested that she was competitive with him ”and thought he was blocking her light.”

Picture 1 is Rushdie with Elizabeth. Picture 2 is Rushdie with Lakshmi. The NYT has the word "Elizabeth's" without any antecedent. I had to guess that Elizabeth was his previous wife. I Googled and learned about Elizabeth West, who was his third wife.
‘You saw an illusion and you destroyed your family for it,’ Elizabeth would tell him, and she was right.
Ah, "Illusion" is West's word for Lakshmi.

The rainbow at 4:46 p.m.

Over Centennial Gardens in Madison today.


"In what has to be some kind of record, the Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours..."

"... between roughly 10:20 PM EST Sunday, March 6, to 3:54 PM EST Monday, March 7—a window that includes the crucial Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, and the next morning’s spin," observes Adam Johnson at CommonDreams.
All of these posts paint his candidacy in a negative light, mainly by advancing the narrative that he’s a clueless white man incapable of winning over people of color or speaking to women....

The Washington Post was sold in 2013 to libertarian Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is worth approximately $49.8 billion.... The Washington Post’s editorial stance has been staunchly anti-Sanders, though the paper contends that its editorial board is entirely independent of both Bezos and the paper’s news reporting.

"Let’s stop pretending that other adults are offended by language. That isn’t a thing."

"We are offended ON BEHALF of people we imagine would be offended. But those people do not exist. Stop imagining offended people."

Writes Scott Adams in "Who Trump Offends with His Salty Language."

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said...
My 90 year-old greatest generation wise beyond her years mother is offended.

My mother exists.

My mother grew up on a cattle farm in central Indiana. Manure. Blood. Dirt. Guts. Varmints. Sex everywhere you looked. None of that offends her.

But Trump does. 

"It's hard to exaggerate what a debacle Tuesday night was for Rubio."

"It was fine to come in third in Iowa's caucuses, when he saw a late surge and was running against 11 other people. It is not fine to come in third in Idaho in a field of four candidates. It is not fine to win 16 percent of the vote there, when you need 20 percent in order to qualify for any delegates. It is not fine at all to come in fourth -- dead last in the current field -- in both Mississippi and Michigan, qualifying for delegates in neither.... So now Rubio's campaign is spending the day doing two things. One, it is brashly predicting that it will win Florida. Second, it is insisting that it will still exist by the time of that vote next Tuesday."

From "Marco Rubio’s campaign is basically over" by Philip Bump in WaPo.

I'm looking at the new Florida polls. It seems obvious to me that if Rubio is interested in stopping Trump, he should get out before Florida and allow as many of his votes as possible to go to Cruz. He should endorse Cruz now. It's the one thing he can do, and since it is so clear, if he fails to do it, he's responsible for Trump's getting the nomination. Now, maybe he thinks Trump is better than Cruz. If so, stay in. That's how I'm going to read it.

"The truth is that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two sides of the same coin," says Carly Fiorina, endorsing Ted Cruz.

"My fellow conservatives ... you have a very important job on Tuesday and I say to you it is time to take our party back.... It is time to take our government back. It is time to take our country back and so it is time now to unite behind the one man who can beat Donald Trump, who can beat Hillary Clinton."

Now that Carly has endorsed Ted... free polls

About those Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates....

1. Rebecca Bradley wrote a column when she was a college student 24 years ago in which she said that Camille Paglia had "legitimately suggested that women play a role in date rape." Paglia had used the words "fools" and "idiots" to refer to women who get drunk at frat parties and said: "Feminists will call this 'blaming the victim.' I call it common sense." Bradley also wrote (all those years ago): "I intend to expose the feminist movement as largely composed of angry, militant, man-hating lesbians who abhor the traditional family."

2. JoAnne Kloppenburg, speaking at a candidate forum last month, said: "Any president that you might name would highlight how internally complex every person is. President Lincoln had slaves and yet he led this country in emancipating black people from slavery." Obviously, Lincoln never owned slaves.

Here's that whole forum, where you can see both candidates speaking at length. The 2 tidbits above are what's viral today, but it's probably a good idea to go beyond that sort of material as you decide how to vote. I know that sounds absurdly pedantic, and what I really believe is that people can tell that there is a liberal and a conservative candidate and they will vote based on their political preference.

"Facebook's 'Like' button violates German and European privacy laws..."

"... in a case brought by a consumer group against an online shopping site which relied on the user recommendation feature, a Dusseldorf regional court said on Wednesday."

I find that I've stopped using question marks.

What's the point of question marks. We understand questions from the order of the words alone, and when there are ambiguous sequences — like "How ugly is he" — we tend to know what we're looking at or can figure it out, just as we can figure out when we are dealing with irony or with a rhetorical question. Proposals for an irony mark — and a rhetorical question mark[?] —have little traction. I think the drift is in the opposite direction, at least in my experience, as I am continually rereading my writing and finding questions without question marks. 

What do you think. free polls

ADDED: This post should have been titled "Questioning question marks."

Elite media slowly absorbs the meaning of Donald Trump.

In the NYT this morning.

1. A photograph that exemplifies Donald Trump voters as they ominously approach a polling place. The sky is dark, the couple is old and funereal, the man is grim, the woman a clown.

2. A photograph that's mostly black space, with Donald Trump's face all the way over to the right, emerging from the gloom, and the shadows giving his neck the appearance of a scrotum.

3. The Editorial Board is "Trying to Read Donald Trump, in Translation." This is not — as I'd originally imagined — the NYT people translating Trump's simple statements into the language of the elite so they can understand it. It's attempting to imagine how Trump's statements are heard by people in other countries.

4. "Does Donald Trump represent a legitimate expression of the people’s will? Is his rise a manifestation of justifiable resentment among less privileged whites at their neglect by higher caste Republican leaders?" A columnist (Thomas B. Edsall) wonders.

I'm thinking about The Beatles this morning.

The George Martin memorial post is 2 posts down. This post is just a Beatles trivia question that occurred to me. See how far you can get before looking it up.

Many Beatles songs include names of fictional characters, for example, Vera, Chuck, and Dave in "When I'm 64." But some fictional characters in Beatles' songs have full names — given name + surname. I'm not looking for 2-word names like Bungalow Bill or 2-word first names like Mary Jane, but first + last name, such as you would find of a birth certificate.  I believe there are 6 8 such names.

There are 7 9 if you try to make sense of the list of names in "Dig It." I've read that none of these are fictional characters, but if you don't count "Georgie Wood" as George Harrison, then there is a 7th fictional character. And all the characters in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" were real people, from Pablo Fanque on down, so don't get distracted by that song.

Wow, writing that last post...

... I felt so uplifted, I questioned all the time I've devoted to following politics. Before I woke up, got out of bed, and read the news today, oh boy, I thought I'd spend the first hours of this new day sifting through the results of the Little Tuesday primaries. Donald Trump even won Hawaii. He has a big hotel there, let me tell you. Bernie burned Hillary in Michigan. But you know that, whether I write about it or not. I'd love to turn you on with a fresh new insight for 2 or 3 of the 6 presidential candidates right now, but the sun is coming up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful, and so are you....


I'm thinking of this blog's old subtitle: "Politics and the aversion to politics, law and law school, high and low culture, and the way things look from Madison, Wisconsin."

George Martin — the brilliant producer who made The Beatles The Beatles we know — has died at the age of 90.

If there are death triads, he fits with Nancy Reagan, who made Ronald Reagan the Reagan we know. (Didn't she?)

The NYT has a lovely obituary, written by Allan Kozinn. Excerpt:
In the dozen years before he met the Beatles, Mr. Martin produced symphonic, chamber and choral recordings, jazz albums and a string of popular comedy records by Peter Ustinov, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. In the 1960s, as the recordings he made with the Beatles rode the top of the charts, he also produced hits by other British Invasion acts, among them Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. He later worked with a diverse roster of pop and jazz performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, the Bee Gees, Jeff Beck, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Paul Winter, Cheap Trick, America and Ultravox....

When the Beatles played “Please Please Me” for him for the first time... it was in a slow arrangement meant to evoke the style of Roy Orbison, one of their heroes. Mr. Martin told them the song sounded dreary, and insisted that they pick up the tempo and add a simple harmonica introduction. His suggestions transformed “Please Please Me,” which became their first big hit.
My son John — who has studied The Beatles more than I would have thought possible — writes:
George Martin wasn't just a great producer who happened to work with the greatest rock band of all time. There's a reason he's called the fifth Beatle, but even that honorific fails to capture what he really did. He didn't merely provide so many studio innovations that it's possible to pick out many Beatles songs where his effect on the finished product was at least as important as that of some of the actual Beatles. He radically challenged every preconception of what a rock band was supposed to be, in a way that didn't just change what the Beatles sounded like, but changed the next 50 years of music.
John quotes a passage from the Ian MacDonald book "Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties":
Lennon wandered into an antiques shop and picked up a Victorian circus poster advertising . . . a show put on by some travelling tumblers . . . in 1843. This appealed to his sense of the ridiculous and, when the new album [Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band] called for another composition from him, he hung the poster on the wall of his home studio and, playing his piano, sang phrases from it until he had a song. Taking it to Abbey Road, he asked George Martin for a "fairground" production wherein one could smell the sawdust — which, while not in the narrowest sense a musical specification, was, by Lennon's standards, a clear and reasonable request. (He once asked Martin to make one of his songs sound like an orange.) While The Beatles' producer worked more naturally with the conventionally articulate McCartney, the challenges of catering to Lennon's intuitive approach generally spurred him to his more original arrangements, of which Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! is an outstanding example. Using harmonium, harmonicas, and a tape of Victorian steam organs and calliopes cut up and edited into a kaleidoscopic wash, he created a brilliantly whimsical impression of period burlesque, ideally complementing Lennon's dry nasal delivery. Few producers have displayed a tenth of the invention shown here.
 ADDED: Here's George Martin explaining his work on "Please Please Me":

AND: Here's a whole 51-minute BBC documentary about George Martin:

March 8, 2016

At the Little Tuesday Café...

... are you watching the primary results?

Marla Maples — Donald Trump's second wife — will compete on "Dancing with the Stars"...

... in the new season that begins March 21st.
Above all, Marla is a proud mom to daughter Tiffany Trump, who is graduating this spring from University of Pennsylvania and they each happily reside in New York City once again.
This is helpful to Donald Trump, don't you think?

"Stopped for driving with a large tree embedded in the front grille."

"We didn't stand there and measure it, but it was a big tree."

Video at the link. The moving image is funnier than these stills.

"Hey, it's International Women's Day and someone left a used sanitary napkin on our front walk!"

Said Meade, just now.

ME: "Lightly used or heavily used?"

MEADE: "Want me to take a picture of it so you can use it on your blog?"

ME: "Yes."

100% guaranteed dialogue. Meade proceeded to leave the house. I'm not currently in possession of a photograph, but I will say I am nauseated. Lightly nauseated.

UPDATE: Meade does the photography, then comes inside to check the city's website to determine if the item is considered a recyclable.


His photos follow a let's-take-a-closer-look sequence...


... and I comment: "Oh, used side down."

"To be clear, I am in agreement with the Madisonians who think the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist teachings and practices provide a valuable perspective on compassion, achieving happiness and American culture."

"Even though it’s far from clear that the Dalai Lama and Buddhism make anything like a clean break from the gender-role-bound, homophobic and rule-obsessed approach to faith that so many spiritually yearning Madison liberals reject.... Clearly, the Dalai Lama and Madison like each other, but the Tibetan monk and meditation expert doesn’t always seem to check all the politically correct boxes usually required for Madison’s approval...."

Chris Rickert comments on The Dalai Lama's 10th visit to Madison.

The 1,089-seat venue is sold out for 2 shows — with tickets priced at $80 to $200.

"In Describing a Pattern to Harassment of Female Scientists..."

"... Professor’s Op-Ed Strikes a Chord," says The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The New York Times published an op-ed on Friday night by A. Hope Jahren, a professor of geobiology at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, entitled “She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk ‘Feelings.’” The piece landed with a bang — it has been shared widely among academics and nonacademics alike — and has since reverberated well beyond the sciences....
I thought you should know about this big positive reaction, since I had presented the column in a somewhat negative light here and continued the discussion in here and that second post of mine got quoted at Instapundit, where Glenn wrote:
Well, you know, if smart scientist women can’t tell a guy that they don’t want to go out on a date, then maybe all this “affirmative consent” folderol is the natural consequence. But so is the conclusion that the Victorians were right, and that women need to be chaperoned by wise elders until they’re placed under the authority of a husband, because the silly things just aren’t up to making decisions on their own.
I'm trying to call attention to what I believe is an important distinction: Colleagues who continue to communicate their sexual interest in you after you've told them you're not interested and colleagues who haven't been told and believe they have a chance at intimacy or think there's mutual pleasure in sexual banter and flirting. 

4 weeks before the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, opponents of Walker-appointee Rebecca Bradley turn up some nasty writing she did as a college student 24 years ago.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Among the choice quotations from 1992:
"How sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments."

"Either you condone drug use, homosexuality, AIDS-producing sex, adultery and murder and are therefore a bad person, or you didn't know that he supports abortion on demand and socialism, which means you are dumb. Have I offended anyone? Good — some of you really need to wake up."

"But the homosexuals and drug addicts who do essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior deservedly receive none of my sympathy."

"[W]hy is a student government on a Catholic campus attempting to bring legitimacy to an abnormal sexual preference?"
You know, if Bradley were Donald Trump, her popularity would surge. Maybe the voters are hungry for outrageous tough talk and the flouting of political correctness.

But Bradley has apologized. She issued a written statement assuring us that the old remarks "have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist." This is, in her view, a "blatant mudslinging campaign to distract the people from the issues."

Her opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg, rejects the apology and connects the old remarks to who Bradley is now: she's allied herself with Scott Walker and Scott Walker is "against gay rights." (Scott Walker opposed same-sex marriage, even in the era after which Barack Obama evolved into support for it.)

There's only been one poll, and it shows the candidates at 37% (Bradley) and 36% (Kloppenburg). The election is April 5th, the same day as the presidential primary, so I'd been thinking the result will be affected by what's happening in the 2 presidential races. If Hillary has it locked up on the Democratic side, maybe Democrats won't bother to come out. And yet I think there are quite a few people who would want to vote for Bernie Sanders anyway or who'd cross over to the GOP side to vote against Donald Trump. (It's an open primary.) If Trump has clinched or all but clinched the nomination, will Republicans drag themselves to the polls? I'm seeing an advantage for Kloppenburg, quite aside from this new controversy.

Anyway, here's one of Bradley's old writings. I read the whole thing and was struck by the appearance of the old Nancy Reagan slogan, "Just say no":

"Terrified sheep make lousy teachers, lousy scholars, and lousy colleagues."

"And today at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thanks to #FakeTenure, I’m surrounded by terrified sheep."

Sara Goldrick-Rab takes a parting shot at UW and Scott Walker.

Click the Sara Goldrick-Rab tag for more background.

"Meet Donald Trump’s sister, the tough, respected federal judge Ted Cruz called a ‘radical pro-abortion extremist.'"

By Fred Barbash in The Washington Post. I don't know if Donald Trump deserves much credit for having an accomplished, sensible sister, so this article operates more as an attempt to discredit Ted Cruz.
Cruz’s sole citation for labeling her an “extremist” was a 2000 opinion she wrote for a three-judge panel striking down a New Jersey law banning  so-called “partial birth abortions” — she called law so broad and vague that it could be read to ban almost any abortion at any stage....

As [the Third Circuit panel Maryanne Trump Barry, Samuel Alito, and Leonard Garth] were preparing their opinion... the Supreme Court... rul[ed] in Stenberg v Carhart, that [a similar Nebraska] statute was unconstitutional, first, because it lacked any exception “for the preservation of the… health of the mother” and, second, because, by its vagueness, it “imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability” to choose “abortion itself”....

The panel could have simply affirmed the District Court ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.... But Barry, joined by Garth, disagreed. “The majority opinion which follows,” Barry wrote at the outset of their opinion, “was in final form before the Supreme Court of the United States heard argument” in Stenberg. “Because nothing in that opinion is at odds with this Court’s opinion; because, in many respects, that opinion confirms and supports this Court’s conclusions and, in other respects, goes both further than and not as far as, this opinion, and, because we see no reason for further delay, we issue this opinion without change.”
That is, Barry and Garth chose to publish a long analysis that had been written before the Supreme Court had issued what was now binding precedent. Instead of redoing their work and producing something that simply and duly followed the Supreme Court, they added a statement that worked to reinforce what the U.S. Supreme Court had done. The Supreme Court opinion had been 5-4, so this bolstering of the Supreme Court majority was significant.

Samuel Alito — who's now, of course, on the Supreme Court — wrote  a concurring opinion calling Judge Barry's opinion "obsolete" and beyond the proper role of a lower court, which is "to follow and apply controlling Supreme Court precedent."

"I would tell you to trust your instincts — except in this case my instinct was to chalk up my symptoms to something else..."

"... and to worry about whether the doctors and nurses would think I was crazy. So I’ll say don’t trust your instincts, if your instincts are to wait and see what happens. When you just don’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Fredi says that 9 out of 10 women with my symptoms would not have gone to the hospital. I wouldn’t have gone either, if it weren’t for Tim. Many women have no chest pain, no tightness, no pain in the arm or jaw until it is much too late. Many women suffering a heart attack simply 'don’t feel right,' just as I did. So if that happens, don’t ignore the feeling and don’t worry about someone thinking you’re crazy...."

From "She thought it was only a 24-hour bug. What she really had almost killed her."

March 7, 2016

Stunning pro-Trump propaganda from Drudge.

Wow. The restoration of youth to the face, the unfathomable color, the earthquake terminology — "TRUMP SHAKES WORLD ORDER."

The link goes to a tame Reuters item: "Foreign diplomats voicing alarm to U.S. officials about Trump." ("On Tuesday, General Philip Breedlove, the United States' top military commander in Europe, said... 'I get a lot of questions from our European counterparts on our election process this time in general... And I think they see a very different sort of public discussion than they have in the past.'")

The phrase "World Order" does not appear in the Reuters article. It sounds foreboding. I see that Henry Kissenger published a book 2 years ago with the title "World Order." From the NYT review:
There has always been a dark, almost Spenglerian cast to Mr. Kissinger’s thinking, and he sees ominous signs today of a descent back into a Hobbesian state of nature — in the bedlam overtaking Syria and Iraq, where “no common rules other than the law of superior force” seem to hold; in the spread of weapons of mass destruction and “the persistence of genocidal practices”; and in the Wild West of cyberspace, which has “revolutionized vulnerabilities.” In fact, he says, we are “insistently, at times almost desperately, in pursuit of a concept of world order,” at this moment in history when “chaos threatens side by side with unprecedented interdependence.”

"Uber hits back at claims of thousands of rape and sexual assault complaints."

"Company says customer-service tickets including 'rape' often involve misspellings of 'rate' and customers claiming 'you raped my wallet.'"

ADDED: In somewhat related news: "NYC’s ‘sex spa’ is grossing people out."
The Spa Castle in Queens is billed as a sprawling, 22-pool Disneyland of soaks and steams.... The wading pool is where much of the action occurs. It’s heated and equipped with underwater jets and a swim-up bar....

"The issue of unmarried females, stigmatised in China as 'sheng nu' or leftover women..."

"... has long been a topic of concern in a culture that prioritises marriage and motherhood for women. The state has tried to urge more single women to marry, particularly with a huge gender imbalance caused by the recently ended one-child policy."

From a BBC article about a 43-year-old woman who was left inside an elevator that workers shut down for maintenance. Her body was discovered when the elevator was opened a month later. Though the problem is obviously shutting down an elevator without checking to see if anyone is inside, there's a lot of talk about why no one was looking for her. Presumably, it would take days to die trapped in an elevator, quite a few if you had some water.

"It has taken five years. But this will be the first time a law school will be on trial to defend its public employment figures."

The case of Anna Alaburda against Thomas Jefferson School of Law is going to trial.
Law schools labor to keep their employment data at the highest percentage level because it is a major factor in national law school rankings, which in turn give schools the credibility to charge six figures for a three-year legal education....

Thomas Jefferson’s lawyers will argue that Ms. Alaburda never incurred any actual injury, because she was offered — and turned down — a law firm job with a $60,000 salary shortly after she graduated. Ms. Alaburda said, in legal papers, that she received “only one job offer — one which was less favorable than non-law-related jobs that were available” — after she sent her résumé to more than 150 law firms and practicing lawyers.

"I always thought it was a little unfair how much she was made fun of for her 'just say no' campaign against drugs."

"I actually think the reminder that you can always just say no can be pretty effective."

I know, I'd been thinking about that myself, just last Saturday, the day before hearing that Nancy Reagan had died. I was blogging about a NYT column telling about women leaving the field of science because they'd received email expressing desire for an intimate relationship and couldn't figure out what to do about it.

These women had never, as far as I could tell, just said no — I'm not interested. The NYT author wrote of the women deciding "[p]erhaps... to ignore the first email," then getting further efforts at closeness from the man, after which "any objection on her part... would seem heartless." I said: "Why isn't it also 'heartless' to deprive this man of the basic information that he is not experiencing a successful response to his attempt to go on a date?" The column author spins out a nightmare: "On and on it goes, and slowly she realizes that he’s not going to stop because he doesn’t have to." I said: "Why is this smart woman so absurdly slow?"

There are, I'm afraid, a lot of people out there who need to be bonked over the head on a regular basis with the stunningly simple advice, "Just say no." It sounds crushingly stupid, but an awful lot of people — including very smart people — become stupid in social situations. These days, there's an effort to pick up the slack left by those who've forgotten the magic of "no," and they'd like to institute a system in which the failure to say "yes" counts as a "no" (and a silent sexual encounter becomes rape).

We wouldn't need such an oppressive, twisted regime if people kept in the front of their head the go-to advice: Just say no.

Nancy was, of course, speaking specifically about drugs...

... and the message looked really ridiculous to those who were already into drugs. I remember some comedian — perhaps Bob Goldthwait — doing a routine about the idea of Keith Richards attempting the "just say no" solution to his all-out addiction. But Nancy was — like most First Ladies — talking to children, and "no" is most effective when you say it early on — to drugs, to sex, to whatever it is you have a right to decline.

Which reminds me of my old motto. Nancy had hers. I have mine: Nothing is a high standard.

I couldn't find the old Keith Richards joke, so here's William S. Burroughs, "Just Say No To Drug Hysteria":

"In a cobblestone plaza, under an Ottoman clock tower, men lounge in the sun with the paraphernalia of cafe culture..."

"... croissants, cellphones, cigarettes and paper cups of nus-nus, a silky coffee drink with a dash of milk and cream. In the best shopping areas, near the old Italian buildings, there are gyms and pizza parlors and gleaming outlets for European fashion brands. Not many war zones can boast Benetton or Marks & Spencer or, as Tripoli does, a well-stocked Boss outlet.... 'It’s become like America, a land of opportunity — for kidnappers,' said Mohanned el Mahjoub, a chatty 30-year-old militia commander, as we sped through Tripoli one night in his hulking four-wheel-drive Jeep."

From "Tripoli, a Tense and Listless City With Gunmen and a Well-Stocked Hugo Boss Outlet," by Declan Walsh in the NYT. In case you've been wondering, what is it like, these days, living in Libya.

"Like a Wild Wild west brothel, but without the honesty."

"My instant reaction was -- it's the Belle Watling collection!"/"I thought carousel pony."/"My immediate reaction: this is inspired by a Wild West bordello (and its lampshades)."

My first reaction was staring with disbelief at the success in creating the optical illusion that the ass was in front.

How would you recognize an atheist if one appeared in American presidential politics?

I brought this question up before, in a February 20th post titled "'Why Not Question Trump’s Faith?'/Why not question everything everyone asserts about religion?" NRO writer Kevin D. Williamson had questioned whether Donald Trump actually believes in the religion he cites as his own. I said:
I'm inclined to think we should judge each candidate in proportion to how much he or she relies on religion. If someone forefronts sanctimony, we should examine whether it's a lie. But if a candidate takes a minimal position — claiming a faith but grounding himself in morality that can exist apart from religion (which is what Trump does) — there's nothing to delve into. If it's a lie, it's an insignificant social lie, like saying you love your wife when your feelings have in fact gone cold.

There are no visible atheists or even agnostics at the presidential level of American politics. Do you want to start outing them? Maybe Bernie Sanders. He might be an atheist. What do you think? Want to try to smoke him out? He said:
“I am not actively involved with organized religion... I think everyone believes in God in their own ways... To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”
To my ear, that sounds like an effort to say: Even atheists believe in God... in our own way. A mystical attitude toward all of humanity counts as belief in God.
So I was very interested in what Bernie Sanders said in last night's Democratic Party debate — video, transcript — when Anderson Cooper gave him a prompt to talk about his religious belief:
COOPER: Senator Sanders, let me just follow up. Just this weekend there was an article I read in the Detroit News saying that you keep your Judaism in the background, and that’s disappointing some Jewish leaders. Is that intentional?

SANDERS: No. I am very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of what I am. Look, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical, and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping, and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camp. I am very proud of being Jewish, and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being.
Sanders spoke with feeling and political, sociological substance about his Jewishness, and I am sure most Americans would come away convinced that he gave a strong answer to the question asked, and that is fine. But the question was Judaism, the religious belief, and nothing in the answer reflected any belief in religion.

Read "'Judaism' or 'Jewishness'?" by Shalom Goldman, a religion professor at Duke University. He's interested in the way some people — notably Madonna — have embraced Judaism without Jewishness:
Thus a type of “Judaism”—in the sense of ritual practice—has found a home among those who are not Jewish. And we can now speak of “Judaism without Jewishness”: a situation in which the content is from the Jewish tradition, but the actors are not.
And he notes the corresponding phenomenon, "Jewishness without Judaism." Goldman cites an article in the NYC Jewish newspaper Forward referring to Jews who “changed Judaism forever.”
Expecting to read about Maimonides, Moses Mendelssohn, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I was startled to see that the article was about Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Sandy Koufax, and Lenny Bruce. And the “Judaism” that the article referred to was the way Jews are perceived by other Americans, and by extension, the way they perceive themselves. As a child of the Sixties, I too am proud of Bob Dylan, et al.—but what does that have to do with Judaism? In today’s cultural and religious marketplaces, religion and ethnic solidarity are often confused...
Goldman talks about a collection of correspondence between the writers Frederic Raphael and Joseph Epstein, who "are constantly referring to their Jewish identity":
But this is an identity devoid of all content.... [T]heir interest is in the way Jews are perceived by others, and more specifically it is about uncovering any hint of antisemitism. Neither  of these erudite authors (each of whom has authored over twenty books) expressed any interest in Jewish texts, languages, or rituals. Jewishness for them is ferreting out potential or actual antisemites. This all-too-common type of “Jewishness” has as its hallmark a lack of real content.
I think it's unfair to say there's no content when what you mean is there is no religious content. To me, what is striking is not the absence of religious content, because I would simply assume there is an absence of belief and even interest in religion. What is striking is absence of forthright atheism.

How would you recognize an atheist if one appeared in American presidential politics? He probably would speak of his family and ethnic background, showing respect and making a connection to a religious tradition, and he would present himself as a moral person with the same kind of values embraced by Americans who find those values in religion. He's not going to say "Look, I'm an atheist. There is no God. I believe in science. And as President, I will consult science, not this 'God' my opponent keeps talking about."