February 20, 2016

Trump wins.

But what I've got my eye on is Rubio's potential to come in second.

Bush, Kasich, and Carson should see the light and endorse Rubio. It's already too late, but come on! It's the only decent hope of stopping Trump.

UPDATE: Bush, appropriately, drops out.

UPDATE 2: He doesn't sound like he means what he's reading. When he says he's suspending his campaign there's a bit of a no from the crowd, but it's... I've got to say... Low energy.

UPDATE 3: "It's tough, it's nasty, it's mean, it's beautiful" -- running for President, according to Trump.

UPDATE4: Rubio says it's now, practically speaking, a 3-man race, and it's his campaign that has the best hope of bringing people together.

"With the naked eye, you see the insect as brown bug. But when you enlarge it..."

"... you really see the wonderful colors that come from the process."

Insects. Just insects. No politics. No insect politics.



Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not?

"Buoyed by the support of enthusiastic workers in the city’s big casinos, Hillary Clinton defeated Senator Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday..."

"... thwarting his momentum and proving to an anxious Democratic Party that she maintains strong support among minority voters that she can carry to a general election," the NYT reports.
At a caucus at the famed Caesar’s Palace, blackjack dealers, pit bosses, cooks and housekeepers excitedly declared their support for the former secretary of state. “She’ll change immigration. She’ll change the economy. She’ll change todo!” said Dora Gonzalez, 54, a casino porter at the Bellagio, using the Spanish word for everything.

“And she’s a mujer!” added her friend Elba Pinera, 51, and originally from Honduras, using the Spanish word for woman....

And Mrs. Clinton, who is typically a reserved presence on the trail, seemed to embrace the quirkiness of campaigning in Las Vegas... even receiving the endorsement of 500 sex workers, mostly from Carson City brothels, who formed the “Hookers 4 Hillary” group.
A mujer's gotta do what a mujer's gotta do.

"It's 100 years since Annette Kellerman became the first person to appear nude in a Hollywood film."

BBC reports.
"From the far-away sphere of the Unknown we are immediately borne, by this film, to a land of enchantment," [The Green Room theatrical magazine said]. "Something of the wonder of the Arabian Nights, of the glory of the East, of our own war, of fairyland, of womanly power and eternal beauty, is manifested to us by this masterpiece of cinematography."...

"She represented the fit, active and spectacular female body, and urged other women to throw away their corsets and become fit and healthy," says Angela Woollacott, professor of history at Australian National University. "She saw herself as something of a guru for women's fitness, but others also saw her as an icon of feminine modernity," she adds.

Threat/metaphor?

"Attempt to place Review-Journal obituary for Hillary Clinton prompts report to Secret Service."

Hillary Clinton is achingly honest when asked if she's always told the truth.

I don't know why everyone's treating her so roughly, like this WaPo item titled "Hillary Clinton’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad answer on whether she’s ever lied." Here's the exchange:
PELLEY: You know, in ’76, Jimmy Carter famously said, “I will not lie to you.”

CLINTON: Well, I have to tell you I have tried in every way I know how literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people.

PELLEY: You talk about leveling with the American people. Have you always told the truth?

CLINTON: I’ve always tried to. Always. Always.

PELLEY: Some people are gonna call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself.

CLINTON: Well, no, I’ve always tried —

PELLEY: I mean, Jimmy Carter said, “I will never lie to you.”

CLINTON: Well, but, you know, you’re asking me to say, “Have I ever?” I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will. I’m gonna do the best I can to level with the American people.
"I will never lie to you" is always a lie, isn't it? A President must lie some of the time. A Secretary of State must lie. A compulsive truth-teller would be a disaster. But she can't say that. She uses the word "leveling" in place of "truth-telling," and she shifts to the concept of trying.

In the course of her career, she's had to try to do a lot of things. Telling the truth doesn't always come first. In fact, we need a capable liar who has good judgment about when to lie. Pelley was trying to box her in. If she says "I've never lied," we'll be able to point to that as a lie, because we know she's lied about at least a few things. Pelley's question is oversimplified, but it worked for him. He got a great soundbite. She stumbled horribly, but wasn't that evidence of some honesty?

"Why Not Question Trump’s Faith?"/Why not question everything everyone asserts about religion?

The first question is asked by Kevin D. Williamson at The National Review. The second question is mine and is intended not so much as a question as an answer to Williamson's question.

Williamson says:
This is, after all, a man who avoided the draft with the help of imaginary bone spurs who nonetheless felt confident in mocking John McCain’s endurance of torture in a Vietnamese prison camp. Never mind Trump’s adultery and the pride he takes in it, never mind his desire for a hippie-style “open marriage,” never mind the bearing of false witness, the coveting, etc. Trump explicitly rejects the fundamentals of Christianity, i.e. man’s fallen state and his need for reconciliation with God. When asked about that, Trump made it clear that he doesn’t believe he needs to be forgiven for anything, that he just needs to — in his words — “drink my little wine and have my little cracker.” 
Trump explicitly rejects the fundamentals of Christianity? Do we really know that? And shouldn't we then have to question what are the fundamentals of Christianity? Is it "man's fallen state"? Isn't it love one another? Want to have a big public debate about it? Would Jesus forgive you for not forgiving a political candidate who won't say he needs forgiveness? Forgive me if I laugh.


"Depiction of the sin of Adam and Eve" by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Pieter Paul Rubens.

So what do I really think? How much religion should be part of the political debate? Speaking of fundamentals, I can't get to the bottom of that. There's already so much religion and so little religion. There's no getting to nothing, and yet going all in is ridiculous. 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. I found that quote in this article by Frances Stead Sellers and John Wagner in The Washington Post. They say:
Sanders often presents his support for curbing Wall Street banks and ending economic inequality in values-laden terms. He recently described it as “immoral and wrong” that the highest earners in the country own the vast majority of the nation’s wealth....

Their Jewish education was “unsophisticated,” [his brother] Larry Sanders said, grounded in a simple moral code of right and wrong. “He could read a prayer in Hebrew,” Larry Sanders said, “but not with a great deal of understanding.”... “He is quite substantially not religious.”
Do you feel a need to push any further? Are questions in order? Why? You shouldn't be saying: Because I oppose him politically and I think there are American voters who will vote against a candidate because his religion isn't good enough.

"A Chicago Tribune archival photo of a young man being arrested in 1963 at a South Side protest is Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders..."

"... his campaign has confirmed, bolstering the candidate's narrative about his civil rights activism."

"Last night a disturbing racist post that was made to social media was brought to my attention."

"This post was hurtful and destructive to our campus community. While social media can certainly bring about positive change, it can also be a place that deeply hurts and harms others."

Said the statement by the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater chancellor about a Snapchat photograph of 2 students who posed in the middle of having a facial that had dark goo spread on their faces. The students say they just thought it looked funny and had no thought of imitating black people.

We're told the students won't face any discipline — why would they? — but that "Following the incident and the reaction caused by the image, the college is planning to host a number of race awareness seminars for staff and students."

Here's an article in the local news. Excerpt:
“Some of our multicultural and nontraditional students feel the environment on campus is not welcoming to all," [the Whitewater chancellor Beverly] Kopper wrote. “Over and over, the students in attendance expressed their need to be heard and for campus to do more than just talk.”...

"There's policy for everything else on campus except for racial injustice, not just for the Black people, but for all minorities," [said one student].
There's a policy for everything else? Is there a policy protecting freedom of expression on social media? Is there a policy for when it's appropriate for university officials to describe student speech as "racist"? The university should want all students to feel welcome, but part of welcoming all students is taking care to understand and not to mischaracterize what individual students are saying and doing.

February 19, 2016

"But - but a cease-and-desist letter, I mean, you're not going to sue [Ted Cruz]," said Anderson Cooper to Donald Trump.

Trump's answer made me (and the town-hall audience) laugh: "Well, you don't know that. But I like to send letters. I have a lot of lawyers. I have wonderful lawyers. I like to send letters."

I laughed... and yet I generally disapprove of threats to sue. Still, if someone is lying about you and you do nothing, people will say why didn't you sue — was it not defamation? And look how he wove in as sideswiping attack on Marco Rubio as he bore down on the "problem" Ted Cruz supposedly has "with the truth":
I mean, look - he has a problem with the truth. And even Marco Rubio - I guess today there was something about he was - you know, picture was manufactured, and it was.... was totally Photoshopped. I could see by just looking at it. In fact, they even made Marco a lot shorter than he is, if you look at it really. And I'm sure that's probably the thing that bothered him the most. He was a hell of a lot - he was, like, very small. I mean, he's not that small. Not too big, but he's not so small.
Five times he said — in 8 seconds — that Marco Rubio is small!

Trump is very serious about establishing dominance. 

Bernie takes flight.

Drudge's presentation right now:



How do you interpret that juxtaposition? I see Trump thumb-pointing over to Bernie and Bernie spreading his wings, ready to take flight.

Harper Lee has died.

The much-read, much-loved author was 89.

ADDED: A look back: "Attacking Atticus Finch for not taking rape seriously... is nothing new.."

The UW-Madison swastika incident.

This morning I'm reading about an incident that took place on campus last month, on January 26th. It's gone viral overnight after a student put up a Facebook post (now removed) showing this picture of the door in a UW dorm and expressing the view that if there had been an equivalent anti-black incident, "the campus would mobilize" and "professors would bring it up in lectures."



The Facebook post led almost immediately to a response from campus officials — "Statement on Sellery Hall incident":
University Housing and the Division of Student Life responded to this incident immediately, providing support to the targeted students and identifying the perpetrator. After investigating, we notified the Sellery Hall community via email and organized a discussion and support group, in keeping with the context of the situation and appropriate protocols.

When a bias incident occurs, our first priority is to respond immediately to the community most directly affected....
That's the explanation for why we hadn't heard about it yet from university officials. Of course, nothing prevented the students from reacting and speaking however they wanted. The Facebook post is one such reaction — interestingly, it's a reaction not to the incident itself, but to the absence of reaction to it.

The UW official response continues with an invitation "to attend a Town Hall on Anti-Semitism on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Gordon Dining & Event Center as we discuss actions that will continue to address intolerance and hate."

I'm frustrated by the absence of reporting on the question of the motive for putting this stuff on the door. It so often seems to be the case that perpetrators of incidents like this are not expressing their own feelings of hate but trying to make people think that there are haters and that the problem of hate is an emergency that must get attention now. Which was this? Or is there something else that could have happened? — I'm wondering as I wade through this obscure passage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Why aren't we talking about the environmental impact of the wall Trump says he will build?

I raised the subject in the comments to the earlier post about the wall. I said: "Am I the only one who worries about the wall as aesthetically and ecologically troubling?" John Henry said:
Why aesthetically troubling? You have no idea yet what it will look like, do you? I suspect that in some placed it may be a wall, in others a fence, in others natural barriers. No wall is needed when the border is at the base of a 100' cliff, for example.

Ecologically troubling? You are the first person I have ever heard ask that. Could you elaborate?

I think you are the first person I've seen have trouble with the what the wall looks like, too.
I said that I was concerned about "a wall slicing through such a long huge length of" of America, "imping[ing] on nature so brutally" and that I worried about "the plants and animals that flow back and forth within those areas." I didn't remember hearing anyone else bring this up, but I had no trouble finding this Newsweek article from a few days ago: "THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER WALL." There's a photograph with the caption: "Javelina (Pecari tajacu) turn away after looking for 100 yards for a place to cross the U.S.-Mexico border fence near the San Pedro river corridor in Arizona in July 2008."
[T]he Rio Grande Valley [is] one of the most biodiverse places in North America, with more than 700 species of vertebrates alone. It sits at the convergence of two major flyways for migratory birds... some 500 different bird species.

Before construction of the fence began in 2009, a list of species likely to be affected was prepared by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It included 10 plants and animals on federal and state endangered lists, 23 on Texas’s threatened list and dozens of species of concern. But the wall went up anyway.

Species with small populations and specialized habitats have suffered the most from the disruption, says Jesse Lasky, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State. He co-authored a 2011 study reporting that the barrier reduced the range for some species by as much as 75 percent. Small range size is associated with a higher risk of extinction, and, according to the study, the wall puts additional stress on Arroyo toads, California red-legged frogs, black-spotted newts and Pacific pond turtles—all listed as endangered or threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—and the jaguarondi, a small wildcat endangered in the U.S. and threatened in Mexico.

Other research concluded that the barrier disrupts movements and distribution of the ferruginous pygmy-owl and bighorn sheep and could isolate small populations of large mammals in Arizona’s Sky Island region, including black bears and pumas. Such isolation reduces exchange of genetic material and makes the animals more vulnerable to disease.

Barrier posts cross the Nature Conservancy’s Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve near Brownsville, and staffers there have seen increasing numbers of white-tailed deer and javelina on the property. That isn’t a good thing; it likely means, says Laura Huffman, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Texas branch, that wildlife squeezed out of its natural habitat is forced onto the preserve—and not that the overall number of these animals has increased.

“The fence is the very definition of habitat fragmentation, the very definition of what inhibits free movement of wildlife within its natural habitat,” Huffman says.
Much more at the link.

Man compels John Kasich to hug him.

What choice did Kasich have?
“Over a year ago, a man who was like my second dad, he killed himself,” Smith said, breaking up. “And then a few months later, my parents got a divorce, and then a few months later, my dad lost his job. I was in a really dark place for a long time, I was pretty depressed. I found hope in the Lord and in my friends and now I’ve found it in my presidential candidate that I support. And I would really appreciate one of those hugs you’ve been talking about.”
There's so much touching involved in presidential campaigning. It's weird, in these days of scrupulous protection of each individual's physical integrity — did she affirmatively consent? — that bodily touch, including the full body contact of hugging, is expected and lauded. And by contrast, the instinct to keep other people from grabbing and groping you is viewed as evidence that you are rather despicably cold and snooty:



I think these expectations and perspectives have a different impact, generally, on males and females. It's really amazing that Hillary — if not Huma — has walked smiling through crowds of touching, touch-needy people and we have not seen one viral video clip of her recoiling in aversion and disgust. How many miles is that long walk through the handsy mob before one can reach the presidency? It must be hundreds of miles. Quite the gantlet.

The Vatican "isn’t all surrounded by walls, and it’s not like you need a separate visa or a passport to enter."

"You wouldn’t know, almost, when you even entered Vatican City. There is a white line painted on the ground in St. Peter’s Square, but that kind of thing is not obvious everywhere."
There are, to be sure, formidable walls in Vatican City, and much of of the site, including the gardens and the modest guesthouse that is home to Francis, is set behind them. But the walls do not entirely enclose the city-state, and in the modern era they are not meant to, historians said.
The NYT pushes back the "Pope Francis, tear down that wall!" crowd.
“Anybody can walk into St. Peter’s Square — that’s the whole point of it,” said [Gerard Mannion, a professor of Catholic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington]. “It was designed to be welcoming and to draw people in like two open arms, to draw them into the heart of the church.”...

Walls like those found in some parts of the Vatican were a fixture in almost every significant city of the medieval period, including London, Paris and Jerusalem, said [Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, also a Catholic studies professor at Georgetown'.

“The walls are a fortification, there is no question, but they were a fortification built at a time when armed invasions by barbarians and other forces were happening,” she said. “And that is not the same thing we are talking about with a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.”
To tear down those walls would be to destroy historically significant structures. Destruction like that, for symbolic purposes, is like what ISIS did when it razed Palmyra!

The preservation of historical structures — whatever they might symbolically mean — is dramatically different from the question whether to build something new.

"Pope Francis, tear down that wall!" might seem funny at first, but look again. You are unwittingly giving support to the terrorists who blow up temples and sledgehammer statues.

February 18, 2016

"Tired of Small Talk? Try Medium Talk."

"Everyone has an intuitive sense of what 'medium talk' might mean...."
Most people seem to interpret the question the way you’d expect — how do you lift a fleeting and likely unimportant-in-the-grand-scheme conversation up out of dulls-ville so that you’ll at least remember or learn something from it?

Reddit being Reddit, many of the answers are jokey and stupid, consisting of intellectually stimulating fare like “Would you rather have a vagina on your forehead or a row of penises down your back like a stegosaurus?” But there’s some good stuff, too. The top-rated response is “What's something you like that most people don't?”...
Actually, the top-rated response now is "If Batman died, would the Joker be happy?"

"Thousands of Latinos, immigrants and their allies are descending on the state Capitol in Madison today to defeat what they believe to be anti-immigrant legislation."

"The rally is called 'A Day Without Latinos and Immigrants in Wisconsin.' It is intended to both defeat the legislation and show the economic power of Latinos and immigrants...."

They're opposing 2 bills in the state legislature, one that keeps counties from issuing ID cards to people who are in the country illegally and another that bans "sanctuary cities."

"Montana quarterback receives $245K settlement for university’s ‘unfair and biased’ rape investigation."

This is the Missoula case that Jon Krakauer wrote a book about.
Missoula was labeled the “rape capital” of the country. Investigative reporter Jon Krakauer turned the town, and Johnson’s trial, into the centerpiece of a book on America’s college campus rape epidemic....

After a tear-filled [criminal] trial, during which Johnson decided to take the stand to defend himself, a jury took less than two hours to find him not guilty.

On Tuesday, the former quarterback’s comeback was complete when a court approved his $245,000 settlement agreement with the state. The agreement listed 11 claims made by Johnson, including violations of due process and his civil rights, along with sexual discrimination, negligence and destroying evidence, according to the AP.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian."

Said Pope Francis, asked what he thinks of Donald Trump.

ADDED: Trump responds to the Pope:
If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President....

The Mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope, because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them. The Pope only heard one side of the story....

For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian.... No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.
Is there an antecedent for "They" in the last paragraph?

AND: I love the Drudge presentation:

"The shelf life of the great American law review article is about five years, and of the great American treatise maybe 25; after that, they're just of historical interest."

Said Justice Scalia, stepping on lawprofs' dreams, knowing that Supreme Court opinions are so much more significant. But we'll see how long his opinions last. Me, I write blog posts. I know the shelf life is one day. (Ah, but days! We live in days....)

How negative can you get?

Looking for "real-world examples with five or more negations in a dozen words, e.g. 'Not that I don't doubt that his reputation isn't undeserved.'"

NBC News has Trump 26, Cruz 28... and a day later CBS News has Trump 35, Cruz 18...

How did that happen? Quinnipiac, yesterday, had Trump 39, Cruz 18, so I'm thinking NBC is the outlier.

There's also a new Quinnipiac poll showing a lot of matchups:



So... the Dems should pick Sanders if they want to win? That can't be right!

Extra info:
If Bloomberg mounts a third party run, results are:
• Sanders and Trump tied 38 – 38 percent, with 12 percent for Bloomberg;
• Sanders tops Cruz 39 – 33 percent, with 14 percent for Bloomberg.

"If Apple is forced to open up an iPhone for an American law enforcement investigation, what’s to prevent it from doing so for a request from the Chinese or the Iranians?"

"If Apple is forced to write code that lets the F.B.I. get into the Phone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, the male attacker in the San Bernardino attack, who would be responsible if some hacker got hold of that code and broke into its other devices?"

"Smoking kills more people than Obama, although he kills lots and lots of people. Don’t smoke, don’t be like Obama."

A poster in Russia.



"The advert has no attribution, no author has come forward to claim it and Moscow city hall has not commented."

And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?

David Lat writes about a controversy at Georgetown University Law Center. On the day we learned of Justice Scalia's death, the school sent out a press release with the headline, "Georgetown Law Mourns the Loss of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." 3 days later, 2 Georgetown lawprofs sent out their own messages. Louis Michael Seidman wrote:
Our norms of civility preclude criticizing public figures immediately after their death. For now, then, all I’ll say is that I disagree with these sentiments and that expressions attributed to the “Georgetown Community” in the press release issued this evening do not reflect the views of the entire community.
And Gary Peller wrote (to quote only part of it):
Like Mike Seidman, I also was put-off by the invocation of the “Georgetown Community” in the press release that Dean Treanor issued Saturday. I imagine many other faculty, students and staff, particularly people of color, women and sexual minorities, cringed at headline and at the unmitigated praise with which the press release described a jurist that many of us believe was a defender of privilege, oppression and bigotry, one whose intellectual positions were not brilliant but simplistic and formalistic....
Lat is critical of Seidman and Peller on the theory that lawprofs "have a special duty to demonstrate to their students the values of collegiality, professionalism, and respect for differing viewpoints."
So what was the point of Professor Peller’s message? It seems he wanted to make clear that he is not part of the “Georgetown Community” mourning Justice Scalia: “That ‘community’ would never have claimed that our entire community mourns the loss of J. Scalia, nor contributed to his mystification without regard for the harm and hurt he inflicted. That community teaches critique, not deference, and empowerment, not obsequiousness.”

I think Professor Peller is being a bit of a drama queen...
And yet... what better tribute to Justice Scalia than to be a drama queen and write a dissent?

"Which Famous Artist Drew These Floating Hands?"

A test.

"Who would rather read about some dry, multipronged doctrinal test than about 60,000 naked Hoosiers..."

"...(in his nude-dancing opinion) or even just nine people selected at random from the Kansas City phone book (addressing the relative competence of the nine justices to decide right-to-die issues)? And his colorful prose could have serious consequences — I am not sure the Lemon test on religion and the First Amendment ever recovered from Justice Scalia comparing it to a B-movie ghoul."

Writes Paul Clement, explaining why "scores of law students, across the ideological spectrum, confess that they always read the Scalia opinion first — whether majority, dissent or concurrence."

For Obama, "appointing Supreme Court Justices is a process of trying to lock outcomes in place, and we shouldn't believe [him] if in the future [he tries] to say otherwise."

A position I took on September 29, 2005.

My son John remembered that and wrote about it just now on Facebook:
I basically agreed with my mom, Ann Althouse, back when she wrote this (eerily prescient) blog post after Chief Justice Roberts was confirmed in 2005. And I still basically agree with it — which doesn't change my view that the president and the Senate should act promptly to replace Justice Scalia....

February 17, 2016

"They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow," said Donald Trump.

And now John Poindexter, the man who found Justice Scalia dead, clarifies: He "had a pillow over his head, not over his face as some have been saying. The pillow was against the headboard."

That should end the conspiracy thinking.

Or... would you say "over his head" to refer to a pillow above the head, between the head and the headboard?

Nikki Haley endorses Marco Rubio.

"Haley, the state’s most popular GOP politician in polls, has decided to back the establishment candidate considered to be in best position to challenge Republican front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz."

"Are we using all the incentives at our disposal to encourage older people not just to be a negative burden on the state but actually be a positive part of society?"

"Older people who are not very old could be making a very useful contribution to civil society if they were given some incentive or recognition for doing so. We’re prepared to say to people if you’re not looking for work, you don’t get a benefit. If you’re old and you’re not contributing in some way, maybe there should be some penalty attached to that. These debates never seem to take place."

Said Lord Bichard —— great name — an ex-chief of the Benefits Agency in the UK.

ADDED: "So who’s going to pay for you to live to be 100?"

"Accused of being a witch, the tiny boy had spent months trying to survive on the streets."

"[W]e heard that the child was only 2 to 3 years old.... A child that young cannot survive a long time alone on the streets.... Thousands of children are being accused of being witches...."

"Why Justice Scalia was staying for free at a Texas resort."

WaPo reports:
The ranch is 30,000-acre getaway that is home to John B. Poindexter... “I did not pay for the Justice’s trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch,” Poindexter wrote in a brief email Tuesday. “He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others.... The Justice was treated no differently by me, as no one was charged for activities, room and board, beverages, etc. That is a 22-year policy.’’... A person familiar with the ranch’s operations said Poindexter hosts such events two or three times a year.... The nature of Poindexter’s relationship with Scalia remained unclear Tuesday.... It is also still not known who else was at the Texas ranch for the weekend....

China is kicking 9,000 villagers out of their homes so it can build a 1,640-foot wide telescope for the purpose of listening for extraterrestrials.

Each dislocated person gets $1,800 in housing compensation.
Forced relocations for infrastructure projects are common across China, and the people being moved by officials often complain both of the eviction from their homes and inadequate compensation. The Three Gorges Dam displaced more than one million people along the Yangtze River, and the middle route of the gargantuan South-North Water Diversion Project has resulted in the relocation of 350,000 people to make way for a series of canals.
If only the telescope, once built, would detect faraway creatures who say don't treat people like that.

"The scenario that the left would most favor and the right most fears would be the selection of a barrier-breaking nominee who could spur liberal support and turnout in November."

"The name most frequently discussed in this situation is Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who would be the first black woman to serve on the court. A former United States attorney and Harvard Law graduate, she drew the votes of 10 Republicans when she was confirmed as attorney general."

From a NYT article "Obama’s Options for a Supreme Court Nominee, and the Potential Fallout."

I don't understand the Loretta Lynch idea. Don't we need an attorney general? Why would you vacate that position and set up another appointments problem in an election year? Why would you make a political football out of her when she's doing important work that we rely on continually?

"Just imagine with me, imagine if white kids were 500 percent more likely to die from asthma than black kids."

“Imagine if a white baby in South Carolina were twice as likely to die before her first birthday than an African-American baby. These are not only problems of economic inequality. These are problems of racial inequity, and we need to say that loudly and clearly."

Said Hillary Clinton, quoted in the NYT in "In Speech on Ending Racism, Hillary Clinton Offers $125 Billion Plan to Help Poor Minorities." This was the speech at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan, which is getting more attention — in some places, notably Drudge...



... for her extensive coughing interlude. (I used the word "interlude" avoid "fit." Not every coughing incident is a "fit.")

"It's pretty [expletive suppressed] hard to find that in the Constitution."

I've watched this 10 times and laughed ever time:



Obama is saying that he has the power under the Constitution to nominate someone to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court even in the last year of his presidency and that there's nothing in the Constitution that says he can't. Of course, the Constitution also provides that the appointment isn't complete until the Senate votes to confirm, and there's nothing that says that power must be exercised within a certain period of time. These are opposing powers and the present struggle is political, which the President surely knows. Part of the politics is making claims based on interpretations of the Constitution, and each branch of government tends to interpret its own power broadly. It's interesting to me to watch how the rhetoric plays out. I mean, it's temping to say "It's pretty fucking hard to find that in the Constitution." And it's hilarious to get as close as he did to saying that.

A new Quinnipiac poll has Clinton up nationally by only 2 points.



The previous Quinnipiac poll, from 12/16 - 12/20, had Clinton up by 31.

Trump is now up by 20.  The previous Quinnipiac poll, from 12/16 - 12/20, had Trump up by 9.

Here are the details from the new poll.

This is interesting:



Trump gets 30% of the college-educated Republican and Republican-leaning voters, with Rubio getting the second most from this group. Isn't it interesting that Cruz, who presents himself as intellectual, gets more support from those who don't have a college degree than from those who do? Trump also has more from those who don't than those who do, but Trump doesn't try to present himself as the thinking-man's/woman's candidate. (I'm just noticing that the phrase "the thinking man's [whatever]" has died out. Who believes in the concept of "the thinking man" anyway, perhaps someone who knows he/she hasn't been thinking enough and imagines outsourcing thinking to a character like Cruz.)

"Killer Mike Defends Himself After ‘Uterus’ Comment at Sanders Rally."

"The Atlanta rapper, who has helped Mr. Sanders in his attempts to garner support from black voters...."

Garner.

"... said that he was quoting from a recent conversation with a feminist as he pointedly attacked Hillary Clinton...."
“When people tell us, ‘Hold on, wait awhile.’ And that’s what the other Democrat is telling you,” Killer Mike said. “ ‘Hold on, Black Lives Matter. Just wait awhile.’ ‘Hold on, young people in this country, just wait awhile.’ And then, and then she — she get good, she have your own mama come to you. Your own mama say to you, ‘Well, you’re a woman.’... But I talked to Jane Elliott a few weeks ago, and Jane said, ‘Michael, a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States. You have to be — you have to have policy that’s reflective of social justice.’ ”
Why does he have to defend himself for saying that?

ADDED: The name "Killer Mike" got me thinking about the old one-hit-wonder recording "Killer Joe," by The Rocky Fellers. Just a 1960s diversion for a Wednesday morning. Nothing to do with the election. Not everything's about the election.

That grated Parmesan cheese might be mostly or nothing but wood.

"Some grated Parmesan suppliers have been mislabeling products by filling them with too much cellulose, a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp, or using cheaper cheddar, instead of real Romano. Someone had to pay. Castle President Michelle Myrter is scheduled to plead guilty this month to criminal charges. She faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine...."

February 16, 2016

A cure for cancer?

"The researchers genetically modified the t-cells to engineer a new targeting mechanism - with the technical name of chimeric antigen receptors - to target acute lymphoblastic leukaemia."
The lead scientist, Prof Stanley Riddell from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle... told the BBC: "Essentially what this process does is, it genetically reprograms the T-cell to seek out and recognise and destroy the patient's tumour cells. [The patients] were really at the end of the line in terms of treatment options and yet a single dose of this therapy put more than ninety percent of these patients in complete remission where we can't detect any of these leukaemia cells."

Embracing Computer Programming and Business law, UW students run from Problems of American Racial and Ethnic Minorities and Introduction to American Politics and Government.




These kids today! So practical, so averse to the wisdom of their elders...

For more analysis, here's the Cap Times article "Introductory politics class suffers biggest enrollment loss at UW-Madison over last 10 years."
Overall, UW-Madison officials have noted a trend toward higher interest in STEM courses — science, technology, engineering and math — as well as health disciplines.

"We still provide students a liberal arts education and have general education that requires breadth," Associate Provost Jocelyn Milner said. "But we do see more students wanting to take those gateway courses into the sciences and then stay around in majors that are sciences."

Asked "What's your greatest hope for the next 10 years?" — who resisted the question the most?

You hear, in order, from Heather Hurlburt, Bill Scher, Matt Lewis, Sarah Posner, Robert Farley, Megan McArdle, Matthew Yglesias, Andrew Sullivan, John McWhorter, John Horgan, Michelle Goldberg, David Frum, Glenn Loury, George Johnson, and — last — me:

Stevie Wonder taunts you about your inability to read Braille.

Displaying the Grammy results before announcing a winner:

"How white is too white?"

Begins a NYT article titled "Program Aims to Keep Schools Diverse as New York Neighborhoods Gentrify." It continues:
At the Academy of Arts and Letters, a small K-8 school in Brooklyn founded in 2006 to educate a community of “diverse individuals,” that question is being put to the test.

The school — along with six others in New York City — is part of a new Education Department initiative aimed at maintaining a racial and socio-economic balance at schools in fast-gentrifying neighborhoods. For the first time the department is allowing a group of principals to set aside a percentage of seats for low-income families, English-language learners or students engaged with the child welfare system as a means of creating greater diversity within their schools.
It's interesting to read this the day after teaching the complicated compendium of writings that appears under the rubric Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. That collection of writings suggests that crudely classifying individuals by race violates the Equal Protection Clause but that government may pursue racial integration (and counter racial isolation) through subtler means. It's rather hard to strain out what can be done as opposed to what can't be done. But, wow, there is one case that would clearly go the other way if Justice Scalia were replaced by a liberal Justice. Straightforward race balancing, taking note of the race of the children in public schools, would be constitutionally permissible.

Gaga's tribute to Bowie.

At the Grammys last night:



The beginning is especially good. It becomes a medley that requires an immense amount of coordination, admirable in a live show if not entirely aesthetically sublime.

ADDED: The red carpet outfit — also a Bowie tribute — was better than the white jumpsuit in the performance. I don't really understand the jumpsuit. Why was it so baggy? When Elvis wore a white jumpsuit, he kept it tight even when he was unpleasingly plump. And that was more of an Elvis white jumpsuit, wasn't it? When I think of Bowie in a white jumpsuit, I think of the "Ashes to Ashes" costume:



Yes, it's white. Don't tell me it's blue. I've seen it in person.

"I also think Scalia had a great sense of humor and a quick mind. So my hypothesis is that in his final seconds of life..."

"... realizing he would not survive, he thought it would be hilarious to put a pillow over his head and make it look like a political murder."

Says Scott Adams
(at the end of a post that analyzes the effect of Scalia's death of election year politics (mostly: it helps Hillary).

"Obama will nominate someone whose demographic characteristics help in the contests for president and U.S. Senate. That is not just his main criterion."

"It is his only one. The candidate could be from a purple state. Or a Latino. Or openly gay. Having finished law school would be a plus."

Yes. Don't waste your time thinking we are talking about a person who will actually serve on the Court. It's just another dimension within which we're talking about what we were already talking about, with greatly jazzed up attention to the effect the new President and the new Senate will have on the Supreme Court.

"Oh? I have to watch a 30-second commercial to hear Hillary Clinton bark like a dog? Is this how we live now?"

Exclamation out loud by me, just now, after clicking here, via Stephen Green.

Upon enduring the commercial and watching the clip, hearing the "arf, arf, arf," my spontaneous exclamation was: "Oh, she's working on her presentation. Don't be mean to her."

Now, before you jump on me with "Who's being mean?" and the analysis of my excessive, absurd emotion, remember, I didn't have to share that with you. And I wrote the previous sentence and had the insights I'm ascribing to you. I wanted to show that unfiltered reaction to you so you can think ahead and predict how mocking her might play out. Don't make me feel protective of her! I was already predisposed to think she'd need protection. I've got my cool, distanced view of all this, but my spontaneous, emotive reaction is something upon which you should coolly reflect. 

"They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none."

Said Donald Trump at the last debate.  Marc A. Thiessen, at WaPo, says:
This is uninformed left-wing claptrap. Trump’s allegation was definitively refuted by the bipartisan WMD commission led by former senator Chuck Robb (D-Va.) and Judge Laurence Silberman. Silberman has called Trump’s allegation that Bush lied “dangerous,” writing “it is one thing to assert . . . that the Iraq war was ill-advised. It is quite another to make the horrendous charge that President Bush lied to or deceived the American people about the threat from Saddam.”...
Thiessen goes on to reveal his hopes that Trump's "rantings should backfire" and hurt him in South Carolina, where George W. Bush is, we're told, popular, and he's been suddenly released to pump up his as-yet-unpopular brother. Trump also put some blame on GWB for 9/11:
The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that. That’s not keeping us safe. . . . And George Bush — by the way, George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA.
That's not "truther" territory, though Thiessen dishonestly calls it such: "It turns out the front-runner for the GOP nomination is a 9/11 'truther'...." A truther believes or explores the belief there was a conspiracy behind 9/11 that included GWB. Trump is obviously only adverting to the warning that Osama bin Laden was determined somehow, somewhere to strike in the U.S.
This is the realm of conspiracy theory. In Republican circles, it is heresy. And in normal times, it would be disqualifying for a candidate seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
Thiessen is plainly overdoing it, making accusations that it takes 3 seconds of clear thought to reject. Ironically, he's the one ranting. Trump's statements are strong and surprising, but they're not wild swinging. These aren't stray thoughts that popped out of his head, but carefully framed statements. Trump comes across as spontaneous, but he is prepared. The statements are simple, but these are thought-out punches, not ravings. Thiessen and others would like us to think of these statements as ravings, as if Trump is deranged. A better question is: Why is Trump taking this track?

Rush Limbaugh got into that zone of inquiry yesterday:
And the things that Trump said and did Saturday night came out of nowhere.  They didn't make any sense.  Here we are in a Republican primary, and Donald Trump, out of the blue, starts blaming the Bush family for 9/11, for knowing that the intelligence was made up, that there never were any weapons of mass destruction, and they knew it, Trump said. Michael Moore doesn't even say that.  The World Trade Center came down when George W. Bush was president so don't anybody tell me, Trump said, he kept us safe.  He jumped all over the Bush family and the Iraq war...
And, "Donald Trump defended Planned Parenthood. Not the abortion stuff, he said, but the fact that they do great things for women's health." So, Rush asks, "What's going on?... Donald Trump sounded like the Daily Kos blog... like the Democrat Underground... like any average host on MSNBC... he went to liberal Democratville." Rush doesn't go to the stupid/crazy/dangerous explanation. He says: "Trump strategically was making a move on independents and Democrats in South Carolina since it's [an] open [primary]." And he's not just trying to win the South Carolina primary. Rush theorizes that Trump is looking ahead to the electoral college and trying to get the polling to show that he could beat the Democrat in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and even New York. That is, before the nomination is sewn up, we could be seeing a potential to win (in November) states that the other GOP candidates might write off from day one.

Rush talks about the anger we're seeing in both parties' races and how the anger roiling up needs somewhere to go:

Why is Trump saying these things about Iraq and 9/11? (Multiple answers ok.)
 
pollcode.com free polls

Goodbye to Vanity.

Denise Matthews, the artist formerly known as Vanity, has died. She was 57.
After she met Prince at the American Music Awards, he helped her form the Vanity 6, three women who had a hit in 1982 with “Nasty Girl.”... She thrived on raciness, often appearing in lingerie. “My music is very sexual, so you could say I’m just putting all of me out there,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She was on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1983, with Prince, and of Playboy in 1988....

Ms. Matthews later said that the fast life had taken its toll, describing herself as “extremely wild” to Jet magazine in 1993. “There was a lot of cocaine,” she said. “I tried men, women, everything. I didn’t snort cocaine, I smoked it.”
She nearly died of renal failure in 1990, after which she dropped the name Vanity and "became a Christian evangelist." She was married for a short time to "the N.F.L. player Anthony Wayne Smith, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder last month."

February 15, 2016

"Ted Cruz is a totally unstable individual. He is the single biggest liar I’ve ever come across, in politics or otherwise, and I have seen some of the best of them."

"His statements are totally untrue and completely outrageous. It is hard to believe a person who proclaims to be a Christian could be so dishonest and lie so much."

So begins "DONALD J. TRUMP RESPONDS TO THE LIES OF SENATOR CRUZ AND WARNS OF LEGAL ACTION."

ADDED: "Cruz says I am in favor of ObamaCare, when in fact I have spoken about repealing and replacing this disaster of a system at every speech throughout my campaign and since it’s inception." Can he not afford a copy editor?

AND: Key paragraph:
One of the ways I can fight back is to bring a lawsuit against him relative to the fact that he was born in Canada and therefore cannot be President. If he doesn’t take down his false ads and retract his lies, I will do so immediately. Additionally, the RNC should intervene and if they don’t they are in default of their pledge to me.
There's no direct connection between the lies he's citing as his motivation to sue and the ground for the lawsuit, the argument that Cruz is not a natural-born citizen. I know Trump has deal-making as his model for just about everything, but it comes across as a threat to file a lawsuit. He's also threatening to run as a third-party candidate, laying the groundwork, dragging the RNC into the conflict, demanding that it intervene or he's seeing himself as released from his pledge not to go third-party. 

"Recently while riding the B train northward, I noticed the hands of the two people sitting opposite me."

"They were both engaged in moving their thumbs in the same pushing motion. The young woman was scrolling through her cellphone messages. The man was holding his rosary and gently moving his beads."

Ah, but if the woman was opposite you, how do you know she was reading messages? Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if what she had there on the iPhone was a rosary app?

There's a special place in Hell...

... for Trump supporters.

"If anyone thinks the center of the electorate is clamoring for Obama to name another left-wing jurist they’re nuts."

"The liberal left will be as loud as they ever have been, but the reality is that the consternation will be confined to the activist left."

Said Josh Holmes, Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff, quoted in a NYT article floating the theory that the GOP plan not to act on an Obama nominee to replace Scalia "could alienate moderate voters and imperil incumbent Republicans in swing states."

I think Holmes's assessment is correct, especially coming after years of Obama's pushing the limits of executive power (one of the issues in a pending Supreme Court case right now). Why wouldn't the Senate make its vigorous claim to power and exert it? That, to my mind, fits the most fundamental idea about separation of powers, expressed in Federalist 51:
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defence must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to controul the abuses of government.
ADDED: It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

Drudge's mystery mongering.



The link goes to "Cibolo Creek Ranch owner recalls Scalia’s last hours in Texas":
When [Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John] Poindexter tried to awaken Scalia about 8:30 the next morning, the judge's door was locked and he did not answer. Three hours later, Poindexter returned after an outing, with a friend of Scalia who had come from Washington with him.

"We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled," said Poindexter. "He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap," he said....

Scalia came to the ranch because he was friends another guest. Poindexter said he knew the other guests. "All the guests were friends of mine, I paid for all of them. There were no politics, no jurisprudence in the slightest," he said. "This was strictly a group of friends that the judge decided to join. He was coming with his son who had to drop out for reasons I don't' know."
I infer that Drudge is inviting conspiracy theories, and I've seen some things on the web, so I'll just point out that Poindexter didn't have to report these details and that, taken together, they describe an old man dying, peacefully, in his sleep, the way most of us would probably, given the choice, chose as our style of departure. As for the pillow, my father used to sleep with a pillow over his head. It's a way to block the light. 

"If losing a normal game of monopoly is frustrating, losing to this strategy is excruciating..."

"... as a losing opponent essentially has no path to victory, even with lucky rolls. Your goal is to play conservatively, lock up more resources, and let the other players lose by attrition. If you want to see these people again, I recommend not gloating, but simply state that you're playing to win, and that it wasn't your idea to play Monopoly in the first place."

From "How to Win at Monopoly and Lose All Your Friends," recommended by Throwing Things. The trick is to create a housing shortage.

If a liberal Supreme Court Justice replaces Scalia, how many 5-4 conservative precedents will the new 5-person liberal majority overturn?

This is the question that's waking me up in the middle of the night.

I'm thinking of the cases that are coming up in my Constitutional Law classes this week, wondering which ones were decided 5-4, and imagining saying: But if Justice Scalia had died earlier and been replaced by an Obama nominee, this case would have gone the other way. So the case you have read and its inverted version, with the dissents as the majority, are essentially equally good law, distinguished not by reason and logic, but by the hardiness or fragility of the human body. Yes, you need to see that this is the precedent now, but you need also to know that it may be the other way around by the time you graduate. It's naive self-deception to learn the cases as a statement of the law. They are only temporary resting places. And yes, I've devoted my life to teaching people like you about these scurrilous writings, but they were somewhat satisfyingly anchored by this Justice whose time on the Court has spanned my teaching career, who wrote with engaging clarity and vigor. Now comes the deluge of muddled repositionings, couched in tedious verbiage and, bobbing woozily in the muddy water, you will spot a few bright-colored floaty toys, the overrulings.

But first come the articles, written by law professors, like: "How Scalia’s Death Could Shake Up Campaign Finance/It might be the opening reformers have been waiting for," by Richard L. Hasen. Maybe the new liberal majority — if it comes to be — will overturn Citizens United. And yet:
... Supreme Court justices of whatever stripe are reluctant to easily overturn precedent.... It does not look good for Supreme Court precedent to swing like a pendulum, or for lower court judges to ignore Supreme Court rulings, making the boundary between law and politics look ever more porous.
I boldfaced the word "look." I expect the justices to to tend to appearances. It won't look like a pendulum swinging or an ever more porous boundary. It also won't look readably Scaliaesque. The coherence of the changes will be explained in long, complicated opinions that no one will want to read, but that law professors will have to continue to assign and explain.

February 14, 2016

Did Donald Trump inadvertently reveal that he does not think of himself as a Republican?

That's a question that occurred to me as I listened to Trump on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." I'll give you the full context, with the part that raised the question in boldface:
STEPHANOPOULOS: They really seem to be piling on you last night. You heard those boos from the crowd as well. You think this is all happening because the other Republicans have figured out that if you win South Carolina, you may not be stopped?

TRUMP: Well, the reason it happens is because I’m self-funding. I’m putting up my own money. I’ve built a tremendous business, I don’t need anybody’s money, and I’m going to do what’s right for the people of the country. In that room were many people that I know very well. They’re all lobbyists and they’re special interests and they gave a lot of money to Jeb Bush. This guy’s wasted $140 million running a failed campaign. I mean, the guy spent $43 million in New Hampshire and he came in fourth or fifth. I spent $3 million and I came in first by a lot. I mean, this is the kind of a guy you want a president? So between him and Cruz, I’ll tell you what, the Republicans are in trouble and they will never beat Hillary Clinton. I’m the only one that’s going to beat Hillary Clinton. Believe me, they will never beat Hillary Clinton.

"But I hope he sends us someone smart," said Scalia to David Axelrod. "I hope he sends us Elena Kagan."

Writes Axelrod, at CNN.com today.

He's relating a conversation he had with Scalia when they happened to have been seated together at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, right after David Souter had announced his retirement.
I was surprised that a member of the court would so bluntly propose a nominee, and intrigued that it was Kagan.... Later, I learned that Scalia and Kagan were friends.... Each was a graduate of Harvard Law School and had taught at the University of Chicago Law School, though in different eras. They were of different generations, he the son of an Italian immigrant, she a Jew from New York City's left-leaning West Side. But they shared an intellectual rigor and a robust sense of humor. And if Scalia could not have a philosophical ally in the next court appointee, he had hoped, at least, for one with the heft to give him a good, honest fight.
Kagan did not get that nomination, though she got the next one, when Justice John Paul Stevens retired a year later. The Souter seat went to Sonia Sotomayor... and perhaps you remember that before she was nominated, when she was thought to be the top candidate, she was openly attacked in the press as not smart enough. Jeffrey Rosen made "The Case Against Sonia Sotomayor":
Her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees. It's customary, for examples, for Second Circuit judges to circulate their draft opinions to invite a robust exchange of views. Sotomayor, several former clerks complained, rankled her colleagues by sending long memos that didn't distinguish between substantive and trivial points, with petty editing suggestions--fixing typos and the like--rather than focusing on the core analytical issues.
ADDED: I assume Axelrod's story is true. He did wait to tell it until the one who could contradict it died, but what advantage is there in this that would make it seem like a lie? To my ear, it hurt Sotomayor, but Axelrod might not have thought about that. So I see an advantage in saying that the honorable conservative wanted a worthy liberal with whom to engage and therefore, perhaps, that it might honor him to be replace by a really smart person of Obama's choice.

"We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation."

"Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots—the 'applesauce' and 'argle bargle'—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his 'energetic fervor,' 'astringent intellect,' 'peppery prose,' 'acumen,' and 'affability,' all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp."

Said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a statement I selected from a USA Today page collecting the statements of all the Supreme Court Justices, including the retired Justices Stevens and O'Connor (though not Souter, perhaps because he's attached to inconspicuousness).

Our longtime commenter Simon sent me that link, and he has his reflections on the death of Scalia here: "Our Hero has died... Over the last decade, I have often used 'Our Hero' as a sobriquet for Justice Scalia; that was tongue-in-cheek doesn’t mean that it’s a joke.... I never met Justice Scalia, but ten years ago last month, his debate with Justice Breyer at American University changed my life. He gave me direction, focus, and  an intellectual toolkit that has shaped my approach to every question where we confront a text.... Would I be a Catholic today but for his influence? Perhaps; but if so, like a man who stumbles upon the right answer for the wrong reason (or no particular reason), it would been by blind luck, and would be a fragile, chancy thing...."

That made me look up what I said about the old Scalia-Breyer debate — back in 2005 (video of the debate is here):

Gov. Kasich thinks it's "kind of cool" for the people "to have sort of an indirect vote on who's going to be a Supreme Court justice."

On "Meet the Press" today, Chuck Todd pushed Ted Cruz about the GOP plan not even to "bother" considering an Obama nominee for the now-empty Scalia seat on the Court. Looking at the problem not from the perspective of the power struggle between the President and the Senate, Kasich stressed the role of the people:
GOV. JOHN KASICH: But, you know, I just think at a time when the country is so divided, it would just be great if the president didn't send somebody forward and we had an election. And then everybody would be clear about what they want in the next Supreme Court justice. 
Todd taunted him: But you could end up with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President and then you'd get an even "more liberal justice than what President Obama might provide." Kasich stuck to his love of democracy:
GOV. JOHN KASICH: Well, but that's life. I mean, you know, then the people actually have had some say. It's really kind of a unique thing when you think about it, Chuck. It's unique to say that the public itself is going to have sort of an indirect vote on who's going to be a Supreme Court justice. I think that's kind of cool. 
Yeah, it is kind of cool. Scalia's seat is the 5th vote to be added to the liberal 4 or the conservative 4. It's cool to have a vote on precisely that.

But, as Kristen Soltis Anderson said on "Fox News Sunday":
Only 20 percent of Americans say that they think that the Supreme Court is too conservative right now... [Y]ou have 37 percent of Americans who think the court is already too liberal, in general I think conservatives are excited about having this battle moving into November.  
A question for liberals is: Why don't you want to ask the people what we want? I can think of a few answers. #1 is: We're afraid the people want to preserve the existing balance, not suddenly to shift to the left. And conservatives should needle them with that: You don't want to hear what the people want, because you know they don't want a more liberal Court.

But there are other reasons: #2: Why should liberals wait to get what they want through an election when they see a way to get what they want now? #3: The people don't really understand the workings of the Court and don't know what they really want, not like the experts, the liberal elite. #4: Constitutional law is not about the transitory preferences measured in elections but enduring values and principles enshrined in a venerable document intended to transcend political passions. #5: The presidential election is about many important issues that have been developed over the past months — immigration, ISIS, the economy, heath care — and it would be a terrible distortion to suddenly twist it into the question whether we want the Supreme Court to be majority conservative or majority liberal.

"This year’s idea is distance — in clothing, in manners, in art — a heightened consciousness of irony and effect."

"We seem to be passing from the age of touchies to a time of politesse. The direction in interpersonal behavior in the sixties was toward breaking down the walls between people. Look for people to start building them back up. An important aspect of glamour is invulnerability. Being fashionable demands a certain stylization of one’s inner emotions, the discipline which taste imposes. You can expect to see emotion vented in more traditional ways — through eloquence and wit — as public rage and undue candor become uncool. What we lose by this decision is all that psychologists have said about the relationship between emotional release and health. What we gain by this decision is a heightened sense of style."

From "Entering the Age of Swank," by Richard Goldstein in New York Magazine, on the front page today, but originally published in the September 17, 1973 issue.

OK Go video of the day: "The Writing's on the Wall."



Wow. So fun and pop-arty and amazing from a technical point of view. Thanks to my son John for pointing me to this video and to a news story from a couple years ago about Apple allegedly ripping them off.

"And that’s always the ugly Faustian bargain with the Clintons..."

"... not only on the sex cover-ups but the money grabs: You can have our bright public service side as long as you accept our dark sketchy side. Young women today, though, are playing by a different set of rules. And they don’t like the Clintons setting themselves above the rules."

The conclusion of Maureen Dowd's new column, "When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism."

Here's one of the highest-rated comments there (at the NYT):
Okay, so I'm supporting Bernie (as a Jewish male, I'm obligated to do so — right, Ms. Albright?). Even so, it's clear that none of Hillary's enemies in the top echelons of the GOP have anything on Maureen Dowd when it comes to pure, obsessive, unadulterated contempt. How many of these relentless screeds will The Times have to publish before its contractual obligations to their author are finally fulfilled? Whether it's an election year, an off-year or the (Chinese) Year of the Shrew there are simply no limits to the amount of spleen that Ms. Dowd has proven herself ready to vent when it comes to the affairs of Clinton and Clinton, Assassins at Large. I can't imagine just how many of the writer's loved ones have been bumped off over the years by this 21st Century version of the Borgias but the number must truly be immense. In any case, there's absolutely nothing in this op/ed piece that has anything new to say about Maureen's personal bĂȘte noirs. It may simply be time for her to knock off for a while, spend a few weeks (at least) on a beach in Cancun and try to find some other target for her all-consuming wrath. There IS another political party out there, after all, whose presidential candidates make Hillary look like Mother Teresa, particularly insofar as the rights of women are concerned.

"Will the G.O.P. Response to Antonin Scalia’s Death Hand the Election to the Democrats?"

Asks John Cassidy at The New Yorker, and you might wonder why the question doesn't work the other way too: Why not ask Will the Democratic Response to Antonin Scalia’s Death Hand the Election to the GOP?

The way I asked the questions yesterday was:
Will liberals overreach and show too much of a raging desire to control the Court and make it solidly liberal at long last, touching off a reaction among conservatives? Or will conservatives flare up with hostility to women's rights and gay rights and affirmative action and all the many issues that make them look too mean and ugly?
I gave some balance to it, a question for both parties, but you can see by the difference between my questions that the GOP is tempted in a different way, lured to move the social issues forward and alienate people. Like what happened back in the War of 2012, the War on Women.

But let's see why Cassidy thinks the GOP is exposed in a way that the Democrats are not. He's saying that political maneuvering to hold the nomination for the next President is an "apparent contravention of precedent and the U.S. Constitution." Nice use of the word "apparent" to avoid responsibility for an actual constitutional law interpretation.

But, really, does it matter what the Constitution means? (Especially now that Scalia is dead. It can mean whatever we need it to mean now. The bulwark is gone. Let creativity run wild.)

Just as Donald Trump wrings political energy out of saying that Ted Cruz is not a "natural born citizen," Democrats can get something out of saying Obama has the right to fill the vacancy. The President has a power to nominate new Justices, subject to the check of the Senate, which must confirm. It's balanced power, to be played out politically.

So what if the GOP-dominated Senate plays hard? Cassidy says it will "prompt" "outrage" "among Democrats and independent-minded Americans who dislike partisan warfare." The GOP "appears to be intent on hurtling into a deep pit." Obviously, Cassidy wants to scare the Republican Senators away from pushing back, checking the President's power with their own power, but you've got to play chess games looking ahead several moves.

The GOP will also say it's partisan politics, and this argument will be boosted by the usual claim that liberal Supreme Court Justices infuse their opinions with political preference that does not belong in constitutional interpretation. They'll celebrate their dead icon Scalia, whose method of interpretation will be presented as politically neutral and legally solid. We need another Justice like him, they will say. How terrible to allow Obama to install the 5th vote that achieves a liberal majority on the Court, they will say. Not only is the delay crucial, but the next President must be a conservative, they will say.

Cassidy says:
If the Republicans block the nomination without properly considering it, which also seems likely, a huge political row will ensue, enveloping the Presidential race....

Small wonder, some senior Democrats already appear to be dancing a jig
"Dancing a jig"?! Dancing on a man's grave? Is it not obvious how the GOP will respond? That was the basis of my question yesterday: "Will liberals overreach and show too much of a raging desire to control the Court and make it solidly liberal at long last, touching off a reaction among conservatives?"

The jig of raging desire is revolting to those who do not share the Democratic orientation.

ADDED: The title of this post is the title of Cassidy's essay that appears with the essay, but in the sidebar "Most Popular" list the title is "Will Scalia’s Death Boost the Democrats?" That's a much uglier image, depicting the dead body as a step stool. The Democrats are just hopping up on it. In the more sober title, the bad behavior comes from the Republicans and the Democrats stand by decorously, merely accepting what is handed to them.

AND: Here's the membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, through which any nomination must pass. One notable face: Ted Cruz. What an opportunity for him to perform in The Theater of Proper Constitutional Interpretation. The GOP hold the majority and can calmly control the vote. The trick will be maintaining scrupulous dignity and veneration of constitutional principle. Expect Antonin Scalia to be canonized as the Saint of Constitutional Principle. The Democrats will not have him as their scary monster anymore. Dead, he's an angel. It will be hard to say his seat should be filled by someone unlike him.

That game has been played successfully: I'm thinking of the vicious fight that flared up when George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to take the seat that Thurgood Marshall had vacated. That happened in 1991, with the presidential election a year away. Bush won that fight, even with a Democratic majority on the Judiciary Committee, but he proceeded to lose the election. Obama doesn't face reelection, so he can perhaps absorb the heat, and he has an opportunity to pick someone that will be very damaging for the other party to attack. I'm sure he's working on an exquisitely strategy.

ALSO: "Scalia's Grave-Dancers Deserve a Harsh Verdict," by Stephen Carter. 

"Comfortable shoes and the freedom to leave are the two most important things in life."

A quote from Shel Silverstein, found in a New Yorker article from 2014, which I got to after Googling looking for criticism of the book "The Giving Tree," which Meade and I were talking about. What Silverstein said about that book is "It’s just a relationship between two people; one gives and the other takes" and "It’s about a boy and a tree. It has a pretty sad ending." I'd never read the book myself. Something about hearing other people talk about how deeply meaningful it was to them closed my mind to it. And I grew up thinking about Silverstein as a Playboy guy (Playboy being a fixture, as regular readers know, in the Althouse childhood home).

Silverstein's biographer said: "Given his disgust with the me-first attitude among the folksingers and other artists in the Village who were creating art as a form of self-analysis, it almost sounds like he wrote ['The Giving Tree'] as an experiment, a reaction to their own mushiness."

Yeah, that's the vibe I caught from a distance. And I couldn't project myself into the character of the boy, who I thought of as representing a man who frequented the Playboy mansion: "[H]e bedded hundreds, if not thousands, of women... Silverstein never intended to write or draw for children. He was often impatient around kids and... Silverstein never married and never wanted to have kids. But circumstances changed the year he turned forty, when one of his former Mansion 'playmates' gave birth to a daughter; in 1982, the girl, Shoshanna, died of a brain aneurysm at age eleven, a tragedy from which Silverstein is said to have never recovered."

"Your most recent post is idiotic."

In the email some time in the last few days.

"You are the single biggest liar. You are probably worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar."

"This guy lied — let me just tell you. This guy lied about Ben Carson when he took votes away from Ben Carson in Iowa. And he just continues. And today, we had robocalls saying, 'Donald Trump is not going to win in South Carolina,' where I'm leading by a lot. I'm not going to win. Vote for Ted Cruz. This is the same thing he did to Ben Carson. This guy will say anything. Nasty guy. Now I know why he doesn't have one endorsement from any of his colleagues."



Intense pressure from Donald Trump. You wouldn't think the frontrunner would choose this approach and that it would be everybody else who's getting desperate and knows he must make some noise. You might think Donald Trump is exploding with emotion and just can't keep it in, but I think this is a strategy, to seal his victory and block everyone else, through sheer nerve and intimidation. It's amazing to watch. Will voters accept it? He's offering to deploy this intense power for our benefit. And he's no war monger. Look at him bearing down on Jeb Bush. Trump is cranked up to a boil against war:



"George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East. You call it whatever you want. I will tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction."