March 19, 2016

Republican leaders opposed to Trump are unleashing 100-day campaign beginning with the Wisconsin primary.

The NYT reports.

I'm glad to see that Wisconsin looks important, but I don't understand what these people think they can do. Spend a lot of money on ads? Ads don't seem to be working.

Here's Frank Luntz making that point — the ads don't work — and showing an ad:



And here's an ad that came out recently that seemed to enthuse some people (whether it works within the range of those who might vote for Trump is another matter):

"For hours, the protesters — about two dozen in total — parked their cars in the middle of the road, unfurling banners reading 'Dump Trump'..."

"... and 'Must Stop Trump," and chanting 'Trump is hate.' Traffic was backed up for miles, with drivers honking in fury. Protesters were also chanting, 'Donald Trump, shut it down, Phoenix is the people's town.'"

The anti-Trump protesters remind me of the anti-Walker protesters I saw here in Wisconsin in 2011. They seem so close to their own grievance and anger that they have lost track of how it looks and feels from farther back, and they unwittingly strengthen the target of their protest.

"I thought we were going to die. I really did. And I didn’t care if I died..."

"... as long as I could save her and get her out of there, that’s all I cared about... I’ve lived [in Framingham] my whole life and I never imagined anything like this could happen just walking down the street....”

Donald Trump "doesn’t like invidious comparisons but he’s cool with being called an authoritarian," writes Maureen Dowd...

... paraphrasing her own question to Trump. He answered: 
"We need strength in this country... We have weak leadership. Hillary is pathetically weak. She got us into Libya and she got us into Benghazi and she’s probably got 40 eggheads sitting around a table telling her what to do, and then she was sleeping when the phone call came in from the ambassador begging for help. You know, the 3 a.m. phone call?"
Trump also told Dowd that "Hillary is the one disrupting my rallies. It’s more Hillary than Sanders, I found out," and...
He said he would soon unleash the moniker that he thought would diminish Hillary, the way “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” torched his Republican rivals; “I want to get rid of the leftovers first.”
Other shots taken:

About Elizabeth Warren: "I think it’s wonderful because the Indians can now partake in the future of the country. She’s got about as much Indian blood as I have. Her whole life was based on a fraud. She got into Harvard and all that because she said she was a minority."

About Mitt Romney: "He’s a jealous fool and not a bright person.... He’s good looking. Other than that, he’s got nothing."

About Obama: "Obama, who is African-American, has done nothing for African Americans." (That came in response to a question from Dowd which she paraphrases as asking "if he realized that, in riling up angry whites, he has pulled the scab off racism.")

"[Adam] LaRoche’s abrupt decision to leave behind his baseball career because his employer wanted to limit the time his 14-year-old son could spend at the ballpark..."

"... has reverberated well beyond the White Sox’s spring training headquarters in Glendale, Ariz. LaRoche’s conclusion, that he would rather abandon his $13 million salary than go through a year without his son by his side, has been featured on TV’s morning talk shows and been the subject of debate and discussion in baseball clubhouses and corporate board rooms, not to mention across social media: About children in the workplace. The demands of modern-day parenting. The value of formal education vs. time together as a family. And, in LaRoche’s unique case, the wisdom of having his child with him for almost every one of 162 regular season games, not to mention the entirety of spring training...."

From "How Adam LaRoche’s decision to quit quickly became bigger than baseball" in WaPo (which you can read without a subscription if you use private browsing).

I haven't read any of the debate and discussion, but it seems obvious to me that bringing a child to work should be a some-time thing, not an everyday practice. I think it's insane to present LaRoche as a great dad for what he did and insisted on continuing to do.
LaRoche and his wife, Jennifer, always have removed their two children from school in their home state of Kansas and received educational help from a tutoring service to keep the family together during the baseball season. LaRoche not only believed having Drake with him at the ballpark didn’t hinder his son’s education, he felt it enhanced it.
Even if it was good for the child, why should one child have complete access to what is a shared workplace? The father and son had side-by-side lockers. I see that the players all say they supported LaRoche, but how is any player supposed to come out and oppose this man who's dug in so deeply in the fatherhood game? Objecting to what seemingly loving parents are doing with their kids is a fool's errand.

ADDED: An underlying problem here is the designated hitter.  That occurred to me as I was reading the NYT article, which quotes Dwier Brown, who acted in the movie "Field of Dreams" and wrote a book titled "If You Build It." He said: "Most other sports don’t have that opportunity for contemplation and time... When you’re sitting at a ballpark with your dad, you have time to talk. It’s not like a Raiders game." Time to talk? Sitting? There's a lot of sitting when you're the DH, as LaRoche was.

Scott Adams talks to Reason TV about the way Donald Trump is a "Master Wizard."



"Humans are essentially robots that are made of meat. In that world, emotion and influence and all the techniques that Trump uses are really the only things that explain what's happening in the world. Reason will never be a satisfying explanation of what you see," he says — funnily — to the journal that calls itself Reason.

Here's a Reason interview with Adams from last fall. And here's his book "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life."

"For some in the US This Land is Your Land is an alternative national anthem. And when you’re faced with a threat to democracy and liberty like Donald Trump..."

"... to find out that the guy who wrote it was on to this shit 70 years ago, it gives you the sense that we are right to take a stand. There’s a connection here between Trump Sr and Trump Jr, and that connection is the exploitation of working people. And at the moment Trump Jr is exploiting working people’s fears. He’s a classic blowhard."

Said lefty songster Billy Bragg, talking about Woody Guthrie, who, long ago, was a tenant in a building belonging to Donald Trump's father Fred. Well, just about nobody loves his landlord, and now we're seeing Guthrie’s "series of bitter missives, which have only just come to light, accusing his landlord of having encoded in his contracts regulations evincing not just a cynical treatment of the working class but a bigotry towards black Americans." I'm quoting that from The Guardian, which gives us no actual quotes from what Guthrie wrote in what I take it are songs about his landlord, not "missives" in the sense of letters to the landlord.

That makes me think of "Dear Landlord," which sounds like the beginning of a letter, but is a song lyric, by Bob Dylan, who seems to be the one person who did love his landlord, the landlord in question being — if I'm reading this thing right — God.

Anyway, here's a NYT piece about the Woody Guthrie/Fred Trump connection, and we are talking about songs, songs with lyrics like: "I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial Hate/he stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line/Here at his/Eighteen hundred family project...."

Comedians have been trying to wreck Trump with mockery, but it doesn't work.

And that's terrifying, explains Scott Timberg at Salon, using this bit from "The Late Show," when Stephen Colbert got the real Donald Trump on the telephone. Colbert had an opportunity "to skewer Trump hard."
Somehow, Trump has found a way to inoculate himself from criticism....

He makes fun of his own tie, he praises the state where he’s appearing, South Carolina, in his usual vague language (“It’s a great, great place”), and drops his comically familiar campaign slogan (“We’re gonna make America great again.”). Colbert brings up Trump’s tendency to work blue, and the billionaire developer explains, coolly, why he sometimes uses sharp language. And it makes utterly no sense....

When the two discuss politics, Trump mentions that he would, if he were president, push for a new Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia even if it was an election year — and then contradicts himself by saying that President Obama should wait for the next president to do it. (Colbert doesn’t call him on it the fact that this makes no sense, either.) Alright, sounds good!

The audience had its laugh and Colbert got some good lines across. But the strange thing is that Trump won the exchange. He was mocked, laughed at, and booed by the audience. “You’re not making any friends here, Donald,” Colbert said as the crowd groaned. He may not have convinced the liberals and progressives gathered in the studio. But for a lot of people watching on television, this came across as just riffing. For them, this was just fun. For Trump it certainly seemed to be....

What’s dangerous is that Trump can get in and out of an interview with someone as sharp as Colbert without being demolished. Colbert fans came out of this thinking their guy won, but Trump fans have every reason to think the same thing.
This really shouldn't be a surprise. Trump should be most comfortable with comic entertainers. How many hours has he gone back and forth with Howard Stern? There's no comic interviewer sharper than Stern. Trump is comfortable walking into comic abuse, so he's playing Colbert, et al., for free media coverage. If these leftish comedians think they're laying a trap for him, they are fools. But they get their ratings, and the in-house crowd laughs with them, so they don't feel the pain.

"Like Dylan, he writes his own songs, so of course he will write a wonderful book."

Said the literary agent for Prince, whose book deal was just announced. The publisher was garrulous: "Prince is a towering figure blah blah blah..." The 5-foot-2 rock star was laconic: "You still read books, right?"
Rock memoirs have proved a lucrative niche for publishers as baby boomers snap up books by their favorite performers. The gold standards in terms of both sales and literary qualify include “Life” by Keith Richards (776,683 print copies sold, according to Nielsen), “Chronicles” by Bob Dylan (560,706) and “Just Kids” by Patti Smith (466,635).
I've read all 3 of those — and Eric Clapton's book too — so I guess I'm in the niche. And I love Prince. But the author needs to tell good stories on himself — like Richards, Smith, and Clapton — or have an endless assortment of interesting things — like Bob Dylan. I don't know if Prince is up for any of that. He seems so secretive and enigmatic. But it's surely not enough to "like Dylan" write ones own songs. Song lyrics are song lyrics for a reason. They go with singing and lots of instrumentation. When read, what seemed sublime is often stupid.

I did a chapter-by-chapter series of blog posts when I read Dylan's "Chronicles" in 2004. Sample:
Dylan seems to have gotten some ideas from Harry Truman, whom his parents took him to see when he was a kid: "Truman was gray hatted, a slight figure, spoke in the same kind of nasal twang and tone like a country singer. I was mesmerized by his slow drawl and sense of seriousness and how people hung on every word he was saying." Pp. 230-231....

A Bob Dylan political opinion: "I wasn't that comfortable with all the psycho polemic babble. It wasn't my particular feast of food. Even the current news made me nervous. I liked the old news better." P. 283.
UPDATE: Meade and I are discussing the meaning of "Just look for the purple banana til they put us in the truck." I say it was what was a typical Prince message: Live it up because you're going to die. The banana is obviously the man's penis and the truck is the hearse that takes you away. Meade says the truck is the vagina. He agreed about the banana. 

March 18, 2016

"Hulk Hogan Awarded $115 Million in Privacy Suit Against Gawker."

The NYT reports.
Samantha Barbas, a law professor at the University at Buffalo whose research focuses on the intersection of the First Amendment, media and privacy, said... “For a jury to say that a celebrity has a right to privacy that outweighs the public’s ‘right to know,’ and that a celebrity sex tape is not newsworthy, represents a real shift in American free press law”...
The top-rated comment tops the lawprof:
This decision will have a chilling effect on the dissemination of private sex tapes involving professional wrestlers. A sad day for America.

"The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals."

"[M]ore intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently."

"They were stuck together like two hot dogs… so I poured a little hot water on them and help them out."

"They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water."

"Hipsters are an uptight bunch. They like dance music, but they lack the sense of abandon that made raving so much fun...."

"Organised and particular, hipsters know to detest big business. Instead, they fetishise the authenticity of an independent operator. Yet they expect a level of service that can only be delivered by a multinational corporation.... Perhaps the most depressing trend of all is the introduction of the ‘safe space’ policy.... Once, the rave was supposed to feel like a distinctly unsafe space, even if the danger was illusory.... Under the hipsters’ watch, dance music has become tedious and diluted... I’m out."

Says George Hull.

The new Emerson poll has Trump way up in New York, at 69%, with Cruz at 25%, and Kasich at a ridiculous 1%.

What was the point of winning Ohio if not to show that he could do well in places like New York? 1%!

But Trump has a long way to go if he's to beat Hillary in New York, which he's bragged he can do. The poll has Clinton up 55% to 36%. (She beats Cruz 61% to 30%.)

"Are you white?"

That's from the NYT, which seems to be forefronting whiteness these days. (I wonder why. Trying to get the jump on Trump? Isn't this unhealthily racial? Trump never mentions white people, does he? It's the people who are worried about Trump who talk about white people. Should they be doing that? I know they must feel it's okay because they're known to be so solidly liberal, but there's something wrong with that feeling, in my book.) 

Here's the article, "'Bro'-liferation," which begins:
Are you a young or youngish man who prefers the company of other men? Platonically, platonically. (For the most part.) Are you currently wearing — or have you ever worn — baggy shorts? A baseball cap? A polo shirt? White sneakers? Sunglasses on your head? All at the same time? Are you white? And these other men whose company you enjoy, do you guys drink and watch sports together? Are they white, too?...
Then there's "As Hillary Clinton Sweeps States, One Group Resists: White Men," by Patrick Healy. The article is illustrated with a photograph of what I assume is the NYT's idea of a typical Hillary-resistant white man. Is he old? Is he sitting at a bar? Is he alone? Is he drinking a beer? Is he wondering where's his America? I inferred the last question. The answer to all the other questions is, naturally, yes.
In dozens of interviews in diners, offices and neighborhoods across the country, many white male Democrats expressed an array of misgivings, with some former supporters turning away from her now.... [M]ost said they simply did not think Mrs. Clinton cared about people like them.

“She’s talking to minorities now, not really to white people, and that’s a mistake,” said Dennis Bertko, 66, a construction project manager in Youngstown, Ohio, as he sipped a draft beer at the Golden Dawn Restaurant in a downtrodden part of town. “She could have a broader message. We would have listened. Instead, she’s talking a lot about continuing Obama’s policies,” he said. “I just don’t necessarily agree with all of the liberal ideas of Obama.”
I can't tell if Bertko brought up whiteness or if he said "white people" because he was asked. It seems as though he's saying he doesn't like racial politics, the appeals to subgroups, and would prefer a "broader," inclusive message that grouped everyone together, not that he wanted special attention for white people.
Mr. Bertko said that he rarely crossed party lines but that he voted for Donald J. Trump, who is making a strong pitch to disaffected white men by assailing free-trade agreements that Mrs. Clinton once supported. “I know a lot of guys who are open to Trump,” he said.
Again, see my point? Did Bertko bring up a "strong pitch to disaffected white men," or did the NYT insert that amplification into the center of what Bertko did say, which is that he and guys he knows are "open to Trump"? I'm guessing it's the latter, and that's unfair to Bertko, and it feels to me like intentional anti-Trump propaganda.
[S]ome Democratic leaders say the party needs white male voters to win the presidency, raise large sums of money and, like it or not, maintain credibility as a broad-based national coalition. To win a general election, Mrs. Clinton would rely most heavily on strong turnout from blacks, Hispanics, women and older voters. Though she won among white men in Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee, and tied in Texas, some Democratic officials and pollsters say they fear that without a stronger strategy, Mrs. Clinton could perform as poorly among white men as Walter Mondale, who drew just 32 percent in 1984, or even George McGovern, who took 31 percent in 1972.

“Her most serious relationship problem is with white men, on a policy issue front but also stylistically, and she is at real risk for running worse than the average Democrat with white males,” said Peter Hart, a veteran Democratic pollster.
So, the analysts speak frankly and openly about the need to win over white people. Somehow that's still socially acceptable. How different the commentators would sound if they didn't feel free to talk about everyone's race!

Do the candidates ever openly talk about white people? I think that's not socially acceptable. Even Donald Trump, who flouts "political correctness," doesn't say "white people." He may brag "Muslims love me" or "The Hispanic people love me," but I don't think he ever says "White people love me." I mean, if he did, a huge deal would be made of it.

Anyway, apparently, Hillary's people know she needs to get white men, and the NYT wants to help her. Lord knows what will get written in this effort. Let's notice.

I was wrong.

I don't often use my I was wrong tag, but I was distinctly wrong about something that 2 commenters helped me see.

In a post 2 days ago, I took 2 commas out of a sentence written by Scott Adams. He wrote "Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American, Alpha Males, and Women Who Like Alpha Males." For what I thought was clarity, I changed it to "Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American Alpha Males and Women Who Like Alpha Males."

I missed the first commenter who showed my mistake, but noticed, just now, Kristo Miettinen, who said: "Ann, by taking out the commas you changed Scott's meaning. In Scott's taxonomy of identities 'American' and 'alpha male' are two separate things."

I still thought I was right and said:

"Some women... are 'tetrachromat.'"

"Thanks to two different mutations on each of the X chromosomes, they have four cones – increasing the combination of colours they should be able to see. The mutation isn’t very rare (estimates of the prevalence vary and depend on your heritage, but it could be as high as 47% among women of European descent)...."
Given that many women may be carrying the mutation, why do so few people prove to have such astonishing vision, for instance? “One possibility is that you need early training to capitalise on the signal,” says Kimberly Jameson at the University of California, Irvine, who has tested Antico extensively. Antico is an artist, who has paid close attention to subtle variations in colour for almost all of her life. “I was fairly manic,” Antico says today. “I always wanted to represent everything I could see.” Perhaps this kind of intense experience was crucial to rewire the brain so it could cash in the extra signals her eyes were receiving....
IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said...
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly...
ADDED: The subject of whether an artist with abnormal eyes can make a painting that lets ordinary people see what the artist sees came up in the context of El Greco in this well-reasoned letter to the NYT which I read 25 years ago and never forgot:
''Studying Art With the Eye of a Physician'' discusses the debunking of the theory that El Greco painted elongated figures because of astigmatism, a disorder in which the eyeball is more elongated than round. The proof that astigmatism did not cause El Greco to draw elongated figures is relatively simple:

If he chose to draw a life-size man six feet tall, the man and his drawn image side by side would be the same length with or without astigmatism. An astigmatic person would perceive the length of the man and his life-size image as equivalent. Any perceived distortion in length would apply to both the object and the drawn image.

I have noticed also that El Greco's elongation applied to vertical torsos, not to horizontal ones. If he were consistent, the hips of a reclining, horizontal figure would be 15 percent to 25 percent wider in the vertical direction. But I have not seen this in his paintings.

"Is there anything these days that doesn't 'stir debate?' How banal. I really don't want to think that there are NYT reporters scouring Twitter..."

"... looking for something that 'stirs debate.' I mean, there are real things going on in the world. Ya know?"

"I don't see any debate on air pollution, just a bunch of snarky twitter posts. If this is what passes for news then no wonder people are ill-informed and nothing gets done."

The top-rated comments on a NYT article titled "With 'Smog Jog' Through Beijing, Zuckerberg Stirs Debate on Air Pollution."

I also liked: "At least he is not running for president."

Because: Why wouldn't he? Why aren't we just at the beginning of an era when self-made billionaires — one after another — present themselves for insertion into political power where they can try out all their brilliant, cool ideas on all of us?

March 17, 2016

Hillary, mocking Republicans, barked like a dog, and Trump used the video she made in a viral-video-style ad.

Scott Adams gave the ad "an A+ for persuasion":
Your rational mind knows that Clinton’s “barking” has nothing to do with anything. But your irrational mind sees Putin and ISIS looking powerful on the video while Clinton barks like a chihuahua.
Adams's post was effective in making me look at an ad I knew people were talking about but didn't want to bother with.



By the way, speaking of dogs, I like this story of the German Shepard puppy Luna that got washed overboard, was believed dead, but was found 5 weeks later having swum 2 miles to an island where she fended for herself.

The NYT is going big with the Merrick Garland nomination.



But I find it hard to believe the American electorate has much interest in the subject. I follow the Supreme Court and law-related news continually, yet I feel no motivation to read these articles. To me, it seems that the NYT is serving its usual readers the fare they expect, but I doubt if anyone is getting more stirred up about the appointment process now that they know the name. The political situation is stagnant. Has anyone been nudged into a higher state of excitation? I'm guessing at how jaded other people feel, even though I'm in an unusual situation, being a lawprof blogger and all. The Republicans in the Senate seem so marginalized in relation to presidential politics right now. This attempt to prod us into being irritated with them is itself irritating. That the nominee would be highly qualified and impressive was always already understood. What is the incentive to learn more or think more about the particular individual? Surely not that the NYT frontpages a slew of headlines.

"Silent disco... is just one of many activities that are 'atomizing' our society."

"'What a shame to turn the concert hall or dance club into another such lonely crowd... These venues should be super—not anti—social.' Headphones may silence our city streets, runs the argument, but they also silence our social connections. To paraphrase those seminal pop philosophers from Athens, Georgia, the B-52s, we’re all living in our own private Idahos."

But: "When You Listen to Music, You’re Never Alone/Technology hasn’t diminished the social quality of listening to music."

Well, I don't know which side of that argument is right, but it made me hear, in my own private headphones, Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man": "There ought to be a law/Against you comin’ around/You should be made/To wear earphones...."

And it made me think of a clue I just encountered in a NYT acrostic: "'In individuals, ___ is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule': Nietzsche." That was from February 2015, so it wasn't an intentional reference to Donald Trump.

"The bend-don’t-break adaptability of trees extends to handling climate change..."

"... according to a new study that says forests may be able to deal with hotter temperatures and contribute less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than scientists previously thought."
In addition to taking in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, plants also release it through a process called respiration. Globally, plant respiration contributes six times as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as fossil fuel emissions. Until now, most scientists have thought that a warming planet would cause plants to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which in turn would cause more warming....
IN THE COMMENTS: Rick said:
I recall an alarmist once responding to the point that some warming doesn't seem like an existential crisis by asking if I'd "ever heard of a feedback loop." I found it revealing alarmists believe being able to think of a way warming might harm the planet is proof it will do so. Decades in and these so-called scientists are only now testing the theories they included in their models. So how could the science be settled?

People get tremendous emotional satisfaction from believing they are opposing evil, it makes them heroes. But we live in a time and place where there isn't much, and what does exist is hard to find. So people satisfy this need by overreacting to lesser issues, thus global warming goes from something to keep an eye on to something justifying a complete reordering of society. And Trump goes from a buffoon to Hitler.
Meade says:
"Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."

Reagan was wrong.
Then he was right.
Now he's wrong again, right?
Meade also notes the correction —  "An earlier version of this article misstated the temperature to which some trees were exposed to test their reaction to warming. The temperature was about 6 degrees warmer than ambient temperatures, not 38 degrees warmer." — and says:

The Academy's nonapology was not appreciated.

"It pains us that any aspect of the show was considered offensive, and I apologize for any hurt the skits caused," wrote the chief executive of Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Dawn Hudson in response to a complaint by Academy members of Asian descent expressing "complete surprise and disappointment with the targeting of Asians at the 88th Oscars telecast and its perpetuation of racist stereotypes."

They wanted "to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts" and what "concrete steps" would "ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect."

Hudson's response — a classic nonapology — was not well received. George Takei called it "a bland, corporate response" and said: "The obliviousness was actually shocking. Doesn’t anyone over there have any sense?"

The Broadway musical "Hamilton" seems to have saved the image of Hamilton on the $10 bill.

"Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the hit Broadway musical 'Hamilton,' said on Wednesday that he had received assurances from Jacob J. Lew, secretary of the Treasury, that admirers of Alexander Hamilton would not be disappointed by a forthcoming redesign of the $10 bill. Mr. Lew has said that he wanted to add a woman’s image to that bill...."

Art works.

When does an argument against vegetarianism become harassment akin to racial harassment — based on someone's belonging to a particular group?

Eugene Volokh calls attention to the case of a 6th-grader who was punished — 5 lunch-hour detentions — for telling a fellow student "it’s not good to not eat meat" and that "he should eat meat because he’d be smarter and have bigger brains" and "vegetarians are idiots."

An administrative judge wrote that the boy's statements "were reasonably perceived as being motivated by a distinguishing characteristic between the two boys, namely vegetarianism, which substantially interfered with the rights of K.S. and had the effect of insulting or demeaning him."

Volokh observes that the judge did not stress the empty insult "vegetarians are idiots," but "treated this statement as on par with polite factual and normative claims (whether accurate or not), such as 'it’s not good to not eat meat' and '[you] should eat meat because [you]’d be smarter and have bigger brains.'"

So would the boy have been punished if he'd limited himself to a substantive argument against avoiding meat? Isn't it significant that vegetarianism can be part of a person's religion or religion-like in its importance to a person? Are children allowed to proselytize in the lunch room? Does it depend on whether they can refrain from insults or do we just not want them arguing about things that go to the deep core of human identity? The question is: How big is this notion of harassment and how small — by contrast — are the free speech rights of school children?

If you had to design an outfit that made a person look extremely covered up and simultaneously disturbingly sort of really naked...

... it would be this very strange thing worn by Gwyneth Paltrow the other day.
And there is something a little ’70s sci-fi about the look that endears it to us a little. Very “Space 1999” or “Logan’s Run.” She needs feathered hair and a big plastic raygun that looks like a hair dryer to complete the picture.

But no, really. It’s awful. We kind of love her for wearing it, but it’s truly, truly awful.

"Someday there’s going to be a Jeopardy question, 'The gutsiest person of all time.'"

"And the correct answer will be, 'Who is Philip [T]iu.'"

"'No hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, McConnell says.'... Caving on this would wreck the party. McConnell seems to realize that."

Says Glenn Reynolds.

I thought the party already got wrecked, what with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but I suppose there's a decent interest in keeping the wreckage in something of a neat pile that might look like a functioning device from a respectful distance.

I could imagine that at some point the Trump-n-Ted damage could get so bad that staging some political theater around Merrick Garland might seem like a way to regain some dignity within the wreckage, especially if it becomes obvious that Hillary will win the election and the prospect of getting someone more conservative than Garland disappears. 

"Gwendolyn Jenrette can be forgiven for putting security cameras around her modest Miami home."

"She lives in Liberty City, a high-crime neighborhood in a high-crime town. Her low-slung duplex backs onto the railroad tracks and has been targeted in the past. She can also be forgiven for racing home when, on Thursday afternoon, her security system alerted her to another break-in at the property. But can she be forgiven for, according to police, fatally shooting a teenager as he fled her house, even as officers were on their way to help?"

Begins a WaPo article titled "A Miami woman killed a teen burglar as he fled her home, police say. Should she be charged?" Read the whole thing. Details about Florida statutory law, which includes Stand Your Ground, come at the end.

There are a lot of comments from the family of the dead 17-year-old, Trevon Johnson. ("He was not supposed to die like this. He had a future ahead of him. Trevon had goals. He was a funny guy, very big on education, loved learning... You have to look at it from every child’s point of view that was raised in the hood... You have to understand … how he gonna get his money to have clothes to go to school? You have to look at it from his point-of-view."/"What’s wrong with her? She did not have to shoot him.")

There's a photograph of Johnson but not one of Jenrette. There are no references to race in the article.

March 16, 2016

"Nothing like going to the Cincinnati Zoo and being on lock down due to a polar bear on the loose!"

"Polar bear just got out at the #CincinnatiZoo. We're hiding in the monkey house."

Trump chooses not to present himself for pummeling at the next debate.

And Fox promptly cancels the debate.

Why did Fox cancel?
 
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: The poll is defective because after Trump got out, Kasich got out, and then Fox canceled. The article kind of buried that key fact, and I didn't dig it out. Sorry. But I want to say that Kasich's withdrawal shows the significance of the 5th option on the poll, which is that being alone on stage with Cruz was dangerous to Kasich. As soon as the big target Trump was out, Kasich declined the opportunity. He was fine with passively looking norma while Cruz attacked Trump, but he did not want the opportunity to go one-on-one with Ted.

Meanwhile, his staying in the race stops Ted from having the advantage of going one-on-one with Trump. There's something very annoying about the Kasich candidacy. He has some big problems that are not getting much attention, and he's hanging back waiting for a process to play out that will leave him standing there looking like the rightful owner of the nomination. But he has not fought for it and there's no reason to think he'd be a strong opponent for Hillary.

"Does a horse need a suit? Does a horse like to wear a suit?"

"I think it’s very brilliantly done. The silhouette and the proportions and the fit are all outstanding." And of course a horse looks better in menswear. If you tried womenswear, it "could just end up being a big, voluminous mess."

"Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American Alpha Males and Women Who Like Alpha Males."

"Clinton is well on her way to owning the identities of angry women, beta males, immigrants, and disenfranchised minorities. If this were poker, which hand looks stronger to you for a national election?"

That's Scott Adams. (Again. Sorry, but he keeps saying interesting things.)

(Note: I took 2 commas out of the quote in the post title. He says interesting things but sometimes his punctuation blurs his otherwise nice and clear prose.) [ADDED: I was wrong to take out the commas, as explained here.]

"Women Who Like Alpha Males" — a challenging phrase. It gets capitalized, unlike "angry women," the set of women that aligns with Hillary in Adams's vision. Adams hypothesizes women (or maybe only Hillary-supporting women) splitting 50-50 between the "angry women" and the "Women Who Like Alpha Males." That's cartoonish. But Adams is a cartoonist! He's allowed. You have to take some liberties to be this interesting and funny and concise.

I could bore you by positing a continuum from abject subordination to outright man-hating and giving nuanced descriptions of the real women in the center who look at particular men and form individualized opinions. But that sentence suffices.

"If we don't have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I'm for none of the above," said John Boehner.

"They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I'm for none of the above. I'm for Paul Ryan to be our nominee."

And a Ryan spokesman said: "The speaker is grateful for the support, but he is not interested. He will not accept a nomination and believes our nominee should be someone who ran this year."

That puts it more strongly than what I've seen from Ryan. Yesterday, for example: "I'm not running for president. I made that decision, consciously, not to. I don't see that happening. I'm not thinking about it. I'm happy where I am, so no."

That seems to leave the door ajar. I say "seems" because I don't know the precise question that's getting the "so no."

Merrick Garland "took a 50 percent pay cut; traded in his elegant partner’s office for a windowless closet that smelled of stale cigarette smoke."

"This was a time when crime here in Washington had reached epidemic proportions and he wanted to help. And he quickly made a name for himself going after corrupt politicians and violent criminals. His sterling record as a prosecutor led him to the Justice Department, where he oversaw some of the most significant prosecutions in the 1990s, including overseeing every aspect of the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing. In the aftermath of that act of terror, when 168 people, many of them small children, were murdered, Merrick had one evening to say goodbye to his own young daughters before he boarded a plane to Oklahoma City and he would remain there for weeks. He worked side by side with first responders, rescue workers, local and federal law enforcement. He led the investigation and supervised the prosecution that brought Timothy McVeigh to justice. But perhaps most important is the way he did it. Throughout the process, Merrick took pains to do everything by the book. When people offered to turn over evidence voluntarily, he refused, taking the harder root of obtaining the proper subpoenas instead, because Merrick would take no chances that someone who murdered innocent Americans might go free on a technicality."

From Obama's introduction of his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

ADDED: I quoted that because I liked it. Real facts, beautifully stated. But, of course, the political stuff had to follow. I know he's compelled to say things like this, but I am compelled to say I don't believe it:
At a time when our politics are so polarized, at a time when norms and customs of political rhetoric and courtesy and comity are so often treated like they are disposable, this is precisely the time when we should play it straight...
... though I don't consider that to be playing it straight...
and treat the process of appointing a Supreme Court justice with the seriousness and care it deserves because our Supreme Court really is unique. It’s supposed to be above politics. It has to be. 
... and it can't possibly be...
And it should stay that way.
... which assumes a fact that can't possibly be in evidence. 
To suggest that someone as qualified and respected as Merrick Garland doesn’t even deserve a hearing, let alone an up or down vote, to join an institution as important as our Supreme Court, when two-thirds of Americans believe otherwise, that would be unprecedented. To suggest that someone who has served his country with honor and dignity, with a distinguished track record of delivering justice for the American people might be treated, as one Republican leader stated, as a political pinata. That can’t be right.
Yeah, well, it can be right, and you'd be saying it's right if you were in the Senate and a GOP President made a nomination this close to the election. But I know you have to say that. These are the lines in political theater, and you have delivered them with persuasive elegance — complete with the subtle articulation of the tilde on "piñata."

Now, Republicans, take your turn on the stage with refined gestures that don't look like swinging at a piñata.

ADDED: Time's transcript has a homophone typo: "taking the harder root."

"He could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man," said Orrin Hatch a few days ago.

"The President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate [to fill the court vacancy], but I don’t believe him."

And that's the nominee we're about to get... according to CNN. How can the GOP Senators say no? It's a challenge!

ADDED: "Who is Merrick Garland?"
Garland’s relatively advanced age [63] may help explain why Hatch floated the DC Circuit chief judge as his ideal Obama nominee. Another factor that almost certainly played a role is Garland’s reputation for moderation. In 2003, for example, Garland joined an opinion holding that the federal judiciary lacks the authority “to assert habeas corpus jurisdiction at the behest of an alien held at a military base leased from another nation, a military base outside the sovereignty of the United States” — an opinion that effectively prohibited Guantanamo Bay detainees from seeking relief in civilian courts. A little over a year later, the Supreme Court reversed this decision in Rasul v. Bush....

The former prosecutor also has a relatively conservative record on criminal justice. A 2010 examination of his decisions by SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein determined that “Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants’ appeals of their convictions.”...

The Garland nomination.... appears to be an attempt to box in Senate Republicans who’ve refused to confirm anyone Obama nominates.
But doesn't it also mean that Obama doesn't expect this nominee to be confirmed? It's a political game and he's chosen the best person for that game. Other names are saved for other games.

Privilege watch: Check your "tourist privilege."

I've got a long-time anti-travel theme going on this blog, so my heart leaped at the prospect of a newly hyped up political version of my critique. I mean, I deplore the overdone political correctness of the left as much as... well, as much as I do... which is only up to a point, which is the point at which it seems overdone to me, which is a complex matter, interswirled with my taste and my sense of humor.

So here's Katherine Timpf at The National Review, looking askance at the students at Clare College in Cambridge who are critiquing an "Orient Express" themed party on the ground of tourist privilege.

One student — with the delightful name Ploy Kingchatchaval — said:

"Do you remember a year ago when you thought humans were rational most of the time – let’s say 90% of the time – and irrational the rest of the time?"

"That was how most people saw the world, and still do. But Trump is teaching you that you had it backwards. The truth is that humans are irrational 90% of the time."

I wasn't one of those people who saw the world that way. I always thought what people like to think of as reason is thoroughly interwoven with the bodily nervous system and inherently emotional. So I also don't agree with Scott Adams that "humans are irrational 90% of the time." I think we are human 100% of the time, and our wonderful, beautiful, horrible human mind loves to divide things into 2 categories like "rational" and "irrationality," so we enjoy reading Scott Adams as he lays that all out and puts numbers on it. We love numbers. 90%. So specific and yet so rounded.
Our brains simply evolved to keep us alive. Brains did not evolve to give us truth. Brains merely give us movies in our minds that keeps us sane and motivated. But none of it is rational or true, except maybe sometimes by coincidence.
What percent true would you rate that?

Drudge is antagonizing a lot of people right now...

... with this "BERN EXTINGUISHED" headline...

"John Kasich is saying he might go to the Republican convention with more delegates than anyone else."

"And now, I'm afraid all the remaining Republican candidates might be mentally ill."

And: "When the left stops Trump from speaking, Trump wins. He gets to tell his people that the forces of far-left activism and political correctness are trying to silence him."

Elizabethkingia in Wisconsin.

"Since November 2015... Elizabethkingia anophelis, has caused blood infections in 48 people in Wisconsin, 15 of whom have died."
It's a type of gram-negative bacteria found commonly in the environment, but only rarely causes disease in humans.... Most of the victims have been older than 65, and all were dealing with a serious illness of some kind at the time....

Over a typical year, health officials generally report a half dozen or more Elizabethkingia infections in each state, [said Michael Bell, deputy director for the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta].... "We don't see 48 of the identical organism causing an outbreak like this very often," he said. "In fact, this is probably the largest one we've seen.... The fact that they all have one fingerprint makes us think that it could be one isolated source."

"Today, I will announce the person whom I believe is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court."

Emails Barack Obama. 

The announcement comes at 11 E.T.

Exciting! Exciting to see who it is. I think we know. The linked NYT report says, "Among the finalists are the federal appellate judges Sri Srinivasan, Merrick B. Garland and Paul Watford."

I assume it's the first of those 3, based on the way the media has been reporting on this story. I could be wrong.

I assume the choice has a lot to do with playing a theme in the music of the 2016 election. Whether this person gets to take the Scalia seat on the Court is another matter, an important matter, but subordinate, I think, to the way useful political drama can be stirred up for electoral purposes. That's what I will be following and writing about. I'm sure the nominee will be highly qualified and immensely respectable. It wouldn't work as a political move if he were not.

So: it's exciting to see who the nominee is, but more exciting to see how the nomination/confirmation process interacts with out volatile presidential campaign.

ADDED: As noted by rhhardin in the comments, Obama misused that pesky word that you should never use unless you're absolutely sure it's correct: whom.

UPDATE: CNN is saying (half an hour before the announcement) that it's going to be Garland.

March 15, 2016

"Mega Tuesday: Possibly The Most Consequential Day Of Voting Yet."

An anxious headline... at NPR where I see Trump has already won the Northern Mariana Islands:
Trump began the big day of voting with a win in the U.S. commonwealth's GOP caucuses. He took 73 percent of the vote (343 votes out of just 471 cast), which will give Trump all nine available delegates. Cruz was second with 113 votes, while Kasich got 10 votes and Rubio took just 5.
What's up in the Northern Mariana Islands? Why are they for Trump? I don't know but the polls in Ohio (and North Carolina) close in less than 15 minutes.

UPDATE 1: Trump and Hillary win Florida — CNN has called it.

UPDATE 2: Poor Rubio! He loses no time coming out, and dropping out. His speech is awful, pretending that he chose the high road, and there was an easier way that would have worked. Not believable.

UPDATE 3: Looks like Clinton will win all 5. Trump will win 4 of 5. Kasich gets his state.

UPDATE 4: From Rush Limbaugh's show today:
So this probably suffices as an opinion or thought shared by many in the establishment, and that is, "Whatever we do, we cannot allow Trump, and we've gotta use everything at our disposal.  Hell, it's our party!  We run the party....."...  So that's why all of these people are focusing on Ohio today and John Kasich. John Kasich winning Ohio, they all believe, gives them the power/the right/the necessary energy and indication of support that they can go in and take control of this entire nominating process and do whatever they have to do to deny it to Trump.  So that's why they're all claiming the future of the GOP today hangs on Ohio and what Kasich represents for them....
And they got it. So we will see what they can do with that foothold. Deny Trump the nomination?

UPDATE 5: Then there's the theory that losing Ohio benefits Trump...

"Man, you guys cannot stop talking about him. He is a dangerous presence and, you know, it’s just like candy by the bushel."

Said Hillary into a hot mike. She was talking to Chris Matthew, chatting between segments of an MSNBC town hall.
“We dip into him, dip out of him,” said Matthews. “We have a progressive audience, obviously. But, uh, nobody can tell what people want to watch.”

“Yeah,” she said, adding that people do “want to watch him.”

“— to laugh at him,” Matthews replied.
Then they talked about  Chris Christie: “Why did he support [Trump]?” Clinton wondered. And then Ben Carson, whom Matthews said he'd known "forever" and found "very soft spoken, never said a thing." Then Matthews said Carson reminded him of Tommy Smothers, and Clinton expressed appreciation to get to talk to someone who — unlike her young staffpeople — remembers the old TV shows. That caused Matthews to say "Sid Caesar" 3 times, and Clinton said "Ed Sullivan!"

"The Internet is a hybrid of television and print. And in order to communicate to a younger audience, they expect there will be accompanying illustration..."

"... proof of what the writer is saying... If you are trying to communicate to a modern audience, pictures are essential."

Said Gawker mogul Nick Denton, testifying in the invasion-of-privacy case brought by the man whose public persona is Hulk Hogan, who seeks $100 million in damages for the sex video published on Gawker.  The sex video "was our way to show a highly unusual encounter," Denton said.
"Let's talk for a lack of a better word, your philosophy on privacy," said [Hogan's lawyer Ken] Turkel, bringing up a 2013 interview... ("Gawker's Nick Denton Explains Why Invasion of Privacy Is Positive for Society") as well as another interview with Playboy where Denton addressed privacy by stating, "I don’t think people give a fuck, actually" and "Every infringement of privacy is sort of liberating."

Denton [said] "I think being our true selves, being open to our colleagues and friends and family, my personal view is that we are happier as a result.... [The sex video] was our way to show a highly unusual encounter."... Denton was asked to read salacious passages from Gawker's Hogan story in the "most humanizing way possible." And so, with a British accent, as gently as Denton could muster, the jury heard a play-by-play of Hogan having sex, lines like: "Then we watch Hulk stand up and clumsily attempt to roll a condom on to his erect penis which, even if it has been ravaged by steroids and middle-age, still appears to be the size of a thermos you'd find in a child's lunchbox."

"I think it’s important that we give him this trial. It is a victory in itself for us, as a society, not for him."

"Even terrorists have human rights. We have to keep in mind, though, that even though he is just one man, he represents an idea that we need to combat."

Said Bjorn Ihler, a survivor of the Utoya massacre that killed 77 persons, mostly teenagers. The convicted terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, who is serving a 21-year-sentence (with the prospect of longer detention if he is deemed at threat), is getting a trial on his complaint that the conditions of his solitary confinement are torture within the meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights. The conditions are described in the first paragraph of the NYT article as follows:
He lives in a three-room suite with windows, about 340 square feet, that includes a treadmill and other exercise equipment, a fridge, a DVD player, a Sony PlayStation and a desk with a typewriter. He has been taking distance-learning courses at his country’s main university. He has access to television, radio and newspapers. He prepares his own food, and he entered the Christmas gingerbread-house baking contest at his prison.
The last paragraph of the NYT article connects Breivik — who gave a Nazi salute in court — to present-day Norwegian politics:
Norwegian politics have shifted to the right since Mr. Breivik’s conviction. In 2013, a conservative-led alliance came into government, replacing a previous coalition of social democrats and environmentalists. The Progress Party, a right-wing party that opposes immigration and seeks to lower taxes, and of which Mr. Breivik was briefly a member, is part of the new governing coalition.
The mother of one of the child victims is quoted: "What I fear most today is that he gets a venue to spread his extreme-right message...." 

"Can Bernie Sanders Pull Off An Upset In Ohio?"

Asks Nate Silver, comparing Ohio to Michigan (the state where Sanders pulled off an upset last week, an upset that Silver failed to predict).
[T]he demographic model gives Sanders a 42 percent chance of winning Ohio, much better than the 3 percent chance that our “polls-only” forecast gives to him.
As for Illinois — Clinton's original home state — "the polls have been all over the place, with recent surveys showing everything from a 42-point lead for Clinton to a 2-point lead for Sanders."
Our weighted polling average has Clinton up by 7 points there, and the demographic model is largely in agreement, forecasting a 9-point win for Clinton.
In the southern states, North Carolina and Florida, the forecast is a blowout for Clinton, so "[i]f Sanders were to win or come close... it would be an even bigger upset than Michigan."

"Pete Rose’s attorney: ‘We do not know how Mr. Trump got the ball.'"

Well, since I blogged Trump's tweet with the baseball yesterday, I guess I'm obligated to blog this Washington Post story today. But, man, the trivia! And why can't WaPo get a statement from Rose himself? We get his lawyer? Ugh.
“We do not know how Mr. Trump got the ball,” Genco said. “I can’t authenticate the ball from some Twitter picture.” He added: “I can’t speak to how Trump got the ball. Pete didn’t send it. I made that clear.”
How does Genco know?
“Pete has made a point not to ‘endorse’ any particular presidential candidate,” Genco wrote. “Though he respects everyone who works hard for our country — any outlet that misinterpreted a signed baseball for an endorsement was wrong. Pete did not send any candidate a baseball or a note of endorsement. That said, through my discussions with Pete about this cycle, I’ve learned that he believes that who to vote for is a decision each voter should decide for him or herself. Pete knows and has impressed upon me that, above politics, it’s leadership and teamwork [that] make all the difference. Both the left and right are Baseball fans — and it is those institutions and their people that make America exceptional.”
A lawyer talked like a lawyer. I'm supposed to believe that Pete "impressed upon" Genco something about "leadership and teamwork" "above politics"? Also, why capitalize "Baseball"? Blecch.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd said:
GOP issues statement summing up the entire 2016 primary election.

“We do not know how Mr. Trump got the ball.” 

Hillary says "we didn't lose a single person" in Libya.

That's going to get a response.

Oh! This portrait of Donald Trump!

It hangs in his Mar-a-Lago estate:



I cut that to show only the portrait, so go here to see it in its ornate frame and the wood-paneled setting. It was photographed at an angle (visible at the top left of my crop), so there's some distortion not attributable to the artist. But how rich do you need to be to hire an artist that can paint hands? Ah, but who's going to look at the hand — other than me — when the head is glowing and ascending to the heavens? Or are you looking at the stretched folds of fabric straining over the crotch?

The photo of the portrait goes with a NYT article titled "A King in His Castle: How Donald Trump Lives, From His Longtime Butler." About the painting, the butler, Anthony Senecal, said: "I’ve been in other homes in Palm Beach — same exact painting. Just a different head."

Also from the article, how Trump likes his steak: "It would rock on the plate, it was so well done." And information that explains a lot: "Mr. Trump insists — despite the hair salon on the premises — on doing his own hair."

And there's the 20,000-square-foot Donald J. Trump Ballroom, where, in 2005, Trump married Melania (whom Senecal "described as exceptionally compassionate"). Hillary Clinton attended the wedding and Senecal "offered a profane description for Mrs. Clinton." The ballroom was later the scene for the Oprah Winfrey party for Maya Angelou's 80th birthday. Senecal says it was a "religious ceremony with the hooting and the hollering" and "Mr. Trump was right on into it. It was so great. He was clapping."

IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said, "That is certainly a more inspiring picture of him than this one":



MORE IN THE COMMENTS: Brando says:
That portrait supports my theory that he's a poor man's idea of what he would be like if he were rich. A big majestic portrait of himself! Maybe Trump has a secret sense of humor about this — it seems like a gag I'd do if I were rich.
Exactly. It looked that way to me too. The question is whether he's having fun with it and making it fun for other people or whether he's really serious, psychologically needy, and oppressing other people. If it were the latter, the NYT would have told us.
I wonder about the "profane" description of Hillary — what did she do when she arrived? Was she nasty to the help? I've heard she could be very cold and mean to secret service agents.
Well, that's another thing the NYT didn't tell us. Here, we know the NYT had information, and we can see that it was suppressed. What was it?

"In the 1980s and 1990s, the politics of crime turned distinctly punitive and remained racially coded."

"Hillary Clinton’s reference to 'superpredators' when talking about crime (which has come up repeatedly in the current campaign) was made in 1996. On the campaign trail and in office, Bill Clinton worked to shore up his 'tough on crime' credentials. As the legal historian Ian Haney Lopez writes, 'Clinton flew back to Arkansas to oversee the execution of a mentally impaired black individual, Ricky Ray Rector,' and he advocated for a number of federal measures, including [the] federal 'three strikes' law."

From "From Wallace To Trump, The Evolution of 'Law And Order,'" by Marquette polisci prof Julia Azari at FiveThirtyEight.

That reminds me: At Sunday's Democratic candidates town hall, Hillary Clinton got a question from a black man named Ricky Jackson, who'd spent 39 years in prison, some of it on death row (and won freedom through the work of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati).

Ricky Jackson did not bring up the horrible Ricky Ray Rector case and the racial politics of 1996. I don't know who screened or wrote his question for him, but it was a tame invitation to justify the death penalty in light of the cases of innocence we've seen. The only racial element to Jackson's question was the visual, Jackson himself. And Hillary had a nice opportunity to express empathy for him and balance that with a demand for excellent judicial process and some targeted outrage over real crime (without using the word "superpredators").

What she did was take a hard shot at state courts: "[T'he states have proven themselves incapable of carrying out fair trials that give any defendant all of the rights a defendant should have, all of the support that the defendant's lawyer should have."

State courts are incapable of giving any defendant a fair trial? Not only are all state court trials unfair, it's impossible for state courts to give a fair trial! That's a ridiculous statement. Presumably, she'll walk it back if confronted, but clearly, she had no compunction about stirring up anxiety that the courts that hear the vast majority of criminal trials are hopelessly unfair. That doesn't relate only to the death penalty, but to everyone who's convicted, now and in the future, in state courts.

But federal courts — federal courts are different. She doesn't discourse on the reason. (I'm familiar with it. It's a topic I teach. But it doesn't go so far as to portray the state courts as always and forever unfair.) She supports the death penalty — though she's still "struggling" with it — for "terrorist activities" — but maybe that's a "distinction that is hard to support." Note the weak hedging, even after the intemperate trashing of state courts.

Here's a Salon article from last July, "Bill Clinton’s gutsy apologies: Now he owes one to Ricky Ray Rector," quoting Margaret Kimberley at The Black Commentator:
[R]icky Ray Rector became world famous upon his execution in 1992. Then Governor Bill Clinton left the campaign trail in January of that year to sign the warrant for Rector’s execution. Rector’s mental capacity was such that when taken from his cell as a “dead man walking” he told a guard to save his pie. He thought he would return to finish his dessert.

I try to remember this story when I am told that all Black people love Bill Clinton or that he should be considered the first Black president. Clinton wasn’t Black when Rector needed him. He was just another politician who didn’t want to be labeled soft on crime.
AND: By the way, what's the historical origin — in American politics — of the stock argument that a candidate is "soft on crime"? Was it George Wallace in 1968?

"Military Times survey: Troops back Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders for president."

"The Republican front runner Trump was the most popular candidate in a subscriber poll that closed Sunday, with 27 percent saying they would back the business mogul if the election were held tomorrow. Sanders, the independent Vermont senator, was a close second at 22 percent."

March 14, 2016

"Yesterday on Face the Nation, John Dickerson asked Donald Trump a question that didn't seem to make sense."

"Both my mom (Ann Althouse) and I pointed this out without discussing it with each other or reading what the other had said about it. My mom and I are both in the legal field, and we thought it was very odd that Dickerson suggested that since Trump claims he has *followed* the law as a businessperson, it will be hard for him to ask people to follow the law under his administration! So I'd ask John Dickerson to give some kind of clarification or retraction."

Wrote my son John Althouse Cohen, referring to my post "On 'Face the Nation' today, John Dickerson asked Donald Trump a question about law that I — being in the law field — found very weird."

What was very cool was that John Dickerson responded:
Good question. What I was trying to get at is where is he on the question of gaming the laws and abiding by them. Does he think laws exist to be maneuvered around and taken advantage of? In the case of companies like Apple and others he makes a moral objection to their taking advantage of tax and trade laws. But in his own business he says he plays every game he can even when he acknowledges (as he did with H1B visas) that it's a bad thing to do. (He's under investigation both for his use H1B visas and his tax filings) So what I was trying to get at is whether he expects everyone to game the system when he's trying to make the system better or whether he expected a different standard than the one he uses once he's on the other side — since his view of standards is a moving target. (For example, he campaigns against foreign workers taking jobs but hires them; campaigns against foreign made goods but makes them). So where's' the line? How does he draw it? How will he draw those lines when he's president. He offered a lot of that in his answer. The point is to excavate his reasoning. The reason I asked about his event with Dr. Carson is that it's part of the same inquiry: what guides your behavior? Is politics a system to be gamed? Seems like a lot of people are upset about politics being turned into a game this election cycle. As the candidate who has achieved a special status because voters think he tells unique truths, how can he say something seemingly true one minute and then say oh that wasn't true it was just politics the next minute. There's no law against doing that. He's just playing the game. But I keep hearing that people are tired of the game playing. Also, it seems like a pretty shifting set of standards — and campaigns are about whether what you're saying will still be true once you're elected. So why, if his standards are shifting now, should people not think he'll shift his standards when he gets into office. Nothing will be there to bind him in many cases but his personal set of standards. Thanks for asking!
I continue to believe that private citizens are entitled to take advantage and it's the job of government to refine the law and make it right. I don't see any hypocrisy from Trump here. Businesspersons should be competent and government should be competent. Trump is offering to transfer his businessman competence into the field of government and saying it's a plus that he understands the game. 

"So when people look at Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, with their heavy accents and awkward hairstyles..."

"... they see themselves (sure Donald Trump was born wealthy, but he has a distinct nouveau riche affect; he can hardly be described as patrician). And when people mock them for their hair or their straightforward manner of speech, it channels every cultural slight these voters have faced in the past decade. Sadly, this is unlikely to get better before it gets worse; this growing cultural divide shows no signs of abating."

From "The Perils and Promise of Authenticity," by Sean Trende in Cato Unbound.

Ban the ban.

"Wisconsin bill would create ban on plastic bag bans."
GOP lawmakers... are trying to head off any future local initiatives.... Senate Bill 601 would restrict a town, village, city or county from regulating "containers" made of plastic, paper, cardboard, metal and glass. This would prohibit a community from regulating single use bags at retail locations, including restaurants. Communities also could not impose fees or surcharges on plastic bags and containers....

Scott Adams takes responsibility for the Trump riots and therefore disavows himself.

Then he explains how the media are "priming the public to try to kill Trump, or at least create some photogenic mayhem at a public event."
Again, no one is sitting in a room plotting Trump’s death, but – let’s be honest – at least half of the media believes Trump is the next Hitler, and a Hitler assassination would be morally justified. Also great for ratings. The media would not be charged with any crime for triggering some nut to act. There would be no smoking gun. No guilt. No repercussions. Just better ratings and bonuses all around.
Adams bolsters his credibility with the accurate prediction he made in 1997 that the media would "kill famous people to generate news that people will care about." 3 months later paparazzi chased Princess Diana to her death.

Adams calls on the media to withdraw its assassination incitement and predicts the call will go unheeded because it is "not financially advantageous."

ME: "I would bet $500 that Trump is going to win Ohio."

MEADE: "Oh, yeah. Especially now that Mitt Romney is there campaigning for Kasich."

(Conversation just now at Meadhouse. I was looking at the 2 new polls today, which both show Kasich and Trump in a tie, after weeks of polls showing Kasich ahead.)

ADDED: I am not actually taking bets here, please note. No betting is occurring through this website. But by the way, did you notice....

Since when do town hall moderators kiss the candidate?

Watch Hillary Clinton walk in and accept kisses on the cheek from Jake Tapper and Roland Martin. This was last night's CNN town hall:



What do you think of that kissing?
 
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: How is Sanders greeted? Tapper leans forward with an extended hand and, after the handshake, pats him on the back a few times. Martin extends his hand and, during the handshake, uses his left hand to grip Sanders's upper arm.

Hillary said she's "receiving messages" from foreign leaders asking "if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump."

Do Americans want the foreign-endorsed candidate? We're seeing Trump tarred as xenophobic, and meanwhile Hillary touts herself as the choice of foreign leaders. This deserves a closer look, and I expect some lampooning from Trump.

At last night's CNN town hall in Columbus, Ohio, Hillary Clinton got a question from Amit Majmudar, a radiologist and — Jake Tapper called this "trivia" — the poet laureate of Ohio. (Majmudar referred to the minority status of his religion, but didn't say what religion it was. The answer is Hindu. He's got a book of poems called "Dothead." That has a poem that refers to "my dark unshaven brothers / whose names overlap with the crazies and God fiends.")

Majmudar had already asked Bernie Sanders a question. He'd said Donald Trump had started to make him and his family "a little uncomfortable here, and frankly, a little bit scared." His question, to both candidates was: Which one of you has a better chance to defeat Trump? Sanders said that the polls show him beating Trump by a wider margin than Hillary and that Democrats win when turnout is high and he's the one who's exciting and energizing the crowds. Presenting himself as the one who'd be good at exposing Trump, Sanders misspoke ludicrously:
This is a guy who goes on Republican T.V. debate and says wages in America are too low. Tell that to the people in Ohio that wages are too low. 
Oh, Bernie.

When Majmudar posed the same question to Hillary, she referred to all the votes she's gotten so far in the primary (more than anyone else), the "broad-based, inclusive" nature of her campaign, and how tough and ready she is to fight. She says she's got "a lot of arguments" she's going to be able to make against Trump but she's "not going to spill the beans right now" about what they are. Then she says:
But, one argument that I am uniquely qualified to bring, because of my service as Secretary of State is what his presidency would mean to our country and our standing in the world. I am already receiving messages from leaders — I'm having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump. I mean, this is up to Americans, thank you very much, but I get what you're saying.
So... it's "up to Americans," but Americans might prefer her because foreign leaders say they prefer her? Why do foreign leaders prefer her and not Bernie? I get that they are opposed to Donald Trump (and suspect Donald Trump counts that in his favor). But the question is why Hillary over Bernie? It seems that she's just enthused about this support from foreign leaders and wanted to clue us in about it. But why? Why does she think we'd be impressed and why are they supporting her? Who is supporting her?

Jake Tapper asks: "And can you tell to tell us who?"

She doesn't reveal who's been speaking to her behind the scenes, offering support. She just says: "Well, some have done it publicly, actually. The Italian Prime Minister, for example."

Tapper aptly pushes: "How about the ones that have done it privately?"

She says "No, Jake," and the audience laughs. She adds: "We're holding that in reserve too."

How can you refer to it and then hold it in reserve? Who are these people? Why are they supporting her?

She keeps talking, changing the subject — "But, I - you know, lots of times foreign policy doesn't play as big a role as I think it should, you know? The wonderful question that the woman asked me before...." — and blabbering up to the commercial break.

IN THE COMMENTS: Balfegor said:
Well, there's a not insubstantial segment of the American public today who believe that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" requires that we follow their opinions, rather than that we merely explain why we're conspicuously not doing so, like in 1776.

"Wow. Finally. An article from the NYTs about economic populism. The working class has been screwed by the political elites since the 1990s."

"By both political parties. True, many jobs may never come back. But our manufacturing base, what made America, has been decimated. We can rebuild, but the politicians really need to clamp down on the EPA and the other useless alphabet soup federal agencies. Obama has waged war on coal. That means more job losses for Americans. This is why Trump is leading. This is why Sander's won Michigan, and may win other 'rust belt' states."

Says a top-rated comment at a NYT column titled "The Era of Free Trade Might Be Over. That’s a Good Thing" by Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former economic adviser to Joe Biden.

Trump and Sanders represent a single phenomenon, no? It's a phenomenon that Hillary and the GOP establishment have a motivation to minimize, and portraying Trump as toxic (and Sanders a nice, but unrealistic old man) is a minimization device.

March 13, 2016

At the Subliminal Café...

IMG_1065

... what have you noticed lately? That photograph is something Meade just made a point of writing down.

On "Face the Nation" today, John Dickerson asked Donald Trump a question about law that I — being in the law field — found very weird.

From the transcript:
DICKERSON: At the debate, you talked about H-1B visas. You said: "It's something I, frankly, use, and I shouldn't be allowed to use it." When you have talked about the bankruptcy laws, you talk about how you took advantage of them. When you and I talked about your taxes, you say you try and pay as little as possible. If you are president, why would anybody follow the laws that you put in place if they knew you were taking advantage of those laws when you were in the private sector?
What's Dickerson trying to say, that taxpayers should pay more than they owe? That businesspersons shouldn't understand the law, see what's to their advantage, and structure their transactions efficiently? Why wouldn't voters trust a businessperson who followed the law and figured out how to use it? Don't we want someone knowledgeable and competent? We're supposed to prefer someone who's so intimidated by law that he wastes money? Is Dickerson a fool or is he just trying to manipulate viewers into thinking ill of Trump?

Here's Trump's answer (with another weirdly obtuse question by Dickerson):

A 7-point sequence beginning with the assertion that adults getting offended by language isn't a thing.

1. Scott Adams blogged: "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."

2. 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.... She isn't offended on anyone else's behalf. She isn't offended by any of his words. She's offended by Trump. She has voted Republican her entire life. But she's offended by Trump."

3. At the last debate and in the press conference with Ben Carson that followed, Trump introduced a new elegant, calm, presidential tone, which I blogged about here, causing R. Chatt, in the comments, to ask: "What does Meade's mother think? Is she persuaded by Trump's less offensive demeanor?"

4. 4 minutes later, Meade said, "I'll call her and get back to you."

5. About an hour and a half later, Meade came back with: "@R. Chatt, I finally got a hold of her. She said she spent the morning out on her front porch in the sun watching cement trucks moving around and she forgot to take her phone with her.  Quotes: 'Oh, I hated seeing the doctor [Ben Carson] line up behind Trump,' 'Ben might be able to keep Donald in line.' Asked about her opinion of DT's behavior during the debate last night: 'Better than usual. Trump seems to appreciate the doctor.' 'It will be hard for [Trump] to change his me, myself, and I attitude and his being money hungry because he's too old to change.' Mother said she will 'hope for the best' and will 'pray' because 'even though prayer doesn't always give us what we want, it never hurts to pray that God's will be done.' When I told her that you were interested in her opinions, she said, 'Oh, well, isn't she NICE?' By the way, I've never known my mother to use sarcasm."

6. 2 days after that, amba said: "Meade should start a blog called 'Shit My Mom Says.' She's very wise."

7. I remember the old "Shit My Dad Says" twitter feed, which recorded the things comedy writer Justin Halpern's dad said. The dad really did use words like shit (and worse). Example: "1st amendment doesn't protect assholes from criticism. The right to act like an asshole and be called an asshole's the same fucking right." That's from 3 years ago, so don't think it's Trump-inspired, even though it's Trump-applicable.

8. But, of course, Meade's mother would never use words like that, as amba necessarily knows, which is why we found her comment so amusing and I'm writing this list.

When protesters prevent people from hearing the speaker they came out to see: It happened to us here 5 years ago in Wisconsin.

"Why did the anti-Palin protesters think it was right and good to shout her down?" — I wrote in April 2011. It was a Tea Party rally featuring Sarah Palin at the Wisconsin Capitol, coming at a time when the Capitol had been dominated by anti-GOP protesters for 2 months. In video shot by Meade and me, we are surrounded by protesters chanting, booing, and blowing vuvuzelas. We were near a loudspeaker but could barely hear Palin:



About a minute into that, I turn around to the man who's been yelling "shame, shame, shame" right behind me. He doesn't like being on camera. He vigorously asserted his right not to be photographed depriving me of my right to hear Palin. He switched to a threat of violence: "I will knock those cameras out of your hands." And Meade says, "No, you won't. That would be assault." He says: "You're here to see the damned rally. Turn around and watch it." "Watch" was the right word, because I couldn't hear, since he went back to shouting "shame."

I have another video montage of that day. In this you hear a 14-year-old girl, speaking from the podium and getting heckled. A woman actually bellows "Corporate thief!" and "Koch suckers!" at this child. Hang on until the end and you will hear a voice you may remember — beginning at 3:35 — telling the protesters to "go to Hell."



That's Andrew Breitbart. The protesters laugh at him.

Here's one more video from that day featuring a little boy banging on a plastic bucket "drum" and lots of cowbell ringing. The 14-year-old speaker is heard over chants of "Go home! Go home! Go home!" and when the girl ends with "God bless America" the protesters boo:



So for those of you who think Donald Trump has given rise to a new phenomenon of protesters aiming to destroy a rally, I can tell you with personal experience and my own video evidence that this was done 5 years ago in Wisconsin. And a lot of the protesters came here from Chicago. Keep an eye out for the CPD hat — CPD = Chicago Police Department — and the White Sox jacket. We were very familiar with the Chicago presence at the Wisconsin protests. I'll never forget the band of union protesters who marched onto the scene with the chant: "Chicago is up in the house! Chicago is up in the house!"



ADDED: If the anti-Trump protests continue, Trump has a fine opportunity to do an endorsement press conference, if, in fact, Scott Walker supports Trump. Walker could bring some great perspective on these issues of protest and free speech.

AND: Scott Walker mostly stayed off the scene during the Wisconsin protests, but one time he came out on the Capitol steps to honor some Special Olympians, and protesters — dressed as zombies — got between the Governor and the honorees.

The new YouGov/CBS poll has Sanders up over Clinton (by 2) in Illinois...

... and Trump equal to Kasich in Ohio.

There's also a Marist poll out this morning, and it has Kasich leading Trump by 6 in Ohio and Clinton up by 6 in Illinois.

FiveThirtyEight has incorporated these new polls already and still gives Hillary a 96% chance of winning Illinois. Kasich has a 74% chance of winning Ohio.

"Have we contributed to this culture that has turned American politics and the American political discourse into the equivalent of the comments sections in these blogs?"

That's the question Marco Rubio said "we all need to take a step back" and ask. He adds: "Presidential candidates are now basically Twitter trolls."

That's my transcription from "State of the Union" this morning, where the moderator Jake Tapper is bearing very heavily down on the subject of the violence and anger supposedly fomented by Donald Trump.

ADDED: Here's a taste of Tapper. Note the woeful face and the dire words:

"I’ll advance a superwild hypothesis for why [the word 'super'] has taken off in this country..."

"... that in the land of the Super Bowl, of superstars in every discipline and their droves of superfans, of countless superheroes..., of the superrich who rule the uncontested superpower of the world, super is tied to American exceptionalism and its own sense of superiority. While it is true that many Europeans say super in their tongues and ours — the French, in particular, have a fondness for it — it doesn’t seem to be as rampant as it is for American English speakers. On its own in a Google Books Ngram search, super bottoms out in 1902 before elevating unchecked from 1910 to 1931, then again from 1940 to its peak in 1947 — both periods of growing American ascendancy. Perhaps, too, there was a need to buck up the troops during wartime with words of encouragement and optimism."

Writes novelist Teddy Wayne, who fits the mood of the Obama administration, which seems to have actively sought to dispel exceptionalism and deflate our sense superiority. Despite the old posters that said HOPE, Obama invited us to mature beyond our need for encouragement and optimism. Don't buck up. Buck down.

ADDED: This post needs a little musical accompaniment:



AND: How is it Teddy Wayne failed to mention superdelegates?! From last night's cold open on "Saturday Night Live," Larry David as Bernie Sanders expresses his annoyance when he's prodded by "Jake Tapper" with "You may have won Michigan, but Hillary still leads you in delegates and superdelegates":
Can I ask just something? What's a superdelegate? Who calls themselves that? It's so cocky. They walk around like they're such big shots. Ooh! I beg your pardon, Mr. Superdelegate. Let me tell you something. I've met some of these superdelegates. They're not so super. Mediocre delegates is more like it.