March 11, 2017

If you wanna see the sun rise/Honey, I know where/We’ll go out and see it sometime/We’ll both just sit there and stare....

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The post title is from this Bob Dylan song.

The place where we stared was Panorama Point, Arches National Park.

If you're close to someplace where the sunrise might be good, why don't you jump out of bed before dawn and get out there?

Or maybe you've figured out a way to live exactly in that very place and you don't even need to leave the house at all... or even the bed.

Because of Trump, chick-lit writer Jennifer Weiner can't watch the TV show "The Bachelor" anymore.

This piece (in the NYT) would make a lot more sense if the TV show Weiner used to like to watch obsessively was "The Apprentice." What does Trump have to do with the sudden unwatchability of "The Bachelor"? I mean, you've got to begin by imagining what it would take to like "The Bachelor" in the first place....
And oh, was “The Bachelor” amusing, while being flagrantly problematic. Everyone was young and attractive. Almost everyone was white. There were bad boys and mean girls; studs and sluts. Insults were flung. Grammar was shredded (I still cringe at the memory of every “hers and my’s relationship” I heard over the years). I live-tweeted the whole thing, along with a gleeful community of other hate-watchers who’d call out the show’s icky sexual politics and double standards, then hold our breath at the proposal point, and weep along with the winners.
Oh, so she was hate-watching all along. She never liked the show. She liked hating it. Now, it begins to make sense. She's lost the feeling of superiority, the sense that her people are running the culture, that makes it fun to rag on the show.
[I]n a post-Trump world, it doesn’t feel entertaining. Or maybe it’s that I don’t think I can allow myself the luxury of escape...
I don't want to be too pedantic, but Weiner suggests that pedantry is good fun, so I just want to say that yours and my's world is not yet "post-Trump."

"Sweden was ranked the best country in the world for women. That may come as a surprise to American conservatives..."

"... some of whom.... have argued in recent weeks that criminal hordes of Muslim immigrants have forced frightened Swedish women to barricade themselves at home. That Sweden had a temporary 'mansplaining' hotline last year — which women could call to report condescending instances of men explaining things to them that they already knew — may have helped matters. The United States was ranked 16th."

From "The Best Country in the World? Survey Says It’s Switzerland" in the NYT.

At the Sand Arch Café...

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... maybe you can get in edgewise.

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Photos taken just before sunset yesterday in Arches National Park.

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"Over the last 15 years, according to a new study, men have been as likely to move into predominantly female jobs as the other way around — but not all men."

"It’s those who are already disadvantaged in the labor market: black, Hispanic, less educated, poor and immigrant men. While work done by women continues to be valued less, the study demonstrates, job opportunities divide not just along gender lines but also by race and class."

Maybe these are just worse jobs. Why would you expect better educated people with a more advantageous upbringing to take these jobs? The equalization between men and women happens as women with the same talent, industriousness, and education have access to the same good jobs men have had.

But there is, I assume, something of a problem that difficult jobs that attracted women paid worse because women tended to accept lower pay. This problem should not be over-stated however. Some of the women-associated jobs are safer and easier. There's no reason to expect those jobs to pay more.

Anyway... I'm not doctrinaire on this subject, just putting it into play for you to discuss.

"I don’t think people are missing sex, per se, so much as they are missing touch. The loss of a partner results in skin 'hunger.'"

"That’s more challenging to address. Being open to hugs from friends, treating yourself to massages, etc, can all help. I won’t marry again. I doubt I will have a sexual relationship with anyone. I had the love of my life. I won’t stop missing my husband and what we had together. However, people to talk with, people to hug, people to care about and that I hope care about me? Those things, along with pets, being part of a larger community such as church or politics or whatever results from one’s special interests, and having activities one enjoys, can result in a very rich life. The lack of the sex act itself does not diminish a life."

A comment on a NYT essay, "When a Partner Dies, Grieving the Loss of Sex."

"Marines nude photo scandal expands to all branches of military."

CBS News reports.

Jake Tapper's 7-year-old son sasses him by saying "fake news" when he doesn't like what his dad is saying.

Hollywood Reporter reports.

Tiresome assertions of ever-increasing wrath.

"Anger mounts over handling of US attorney firings."

It was something totally normal to do. Democratic Presidents have done it. But it's got to be enraging because it's Trump, so "handling" comes in handy.

March 10, 2017

In Utah, Althouse photographs Meade and Meade photographs Althouse.

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Yesterday in Capitol Reef National Park.

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"Statue Being Pulled From a Gritty Patch of Cairo Could Be of Ramses."

The NYT reports.
“This was a great surprise,” said Dietrich Raue, a director of a team of German and Egyptian archaeologists who have been excavating a vast temple complex at the site since 2012. “We had to clear the area before any future construction work and because the monuments are below the level of the groundwater. The quality of the stone is fantastic, and it has an amazing art historical value.”...

Establishing the identity of the colossus is complicated because it has been broken into pieces and only fragments of the face have been found. Dr. Raue said it might have been destroyed by early Christians, or by the Muslim rulers of Cairo in the 11th century as they used limestone stonework from ancient temples to build the city’s fortifications.

But statues like the colossus were cast aside because they were made from quartzite....

"Journalists should recalibrate themselves to be more skeptical of the consensus of their peers."

"That’s because a position that seems to have deep backing from the evidence may really just be a reflection from the echo chamber. You should be looking toward how much evidence there is for a particular position as opposed to how many people hold that position: Having 20 independent pieces of evidence that mostly point in the same direction might indeed reflect a powerful consensus, while having 20 like-minded people citing the same warmed-over evidence is much less powerful... [T]he conventional wisdom can congeal so quickly — and yet has so often been wrong — a certain amount of contrarianism can go a long way."

Writes Nate Silver in "There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble/Groupthink produced a failure of the 'wisdom of crowds' and an underestimate of Trump’s chances."

(The point he's making is so ridiculously obvious that the length and seriousness of this piece is evidence of the pathetic dilapidation of the press.)

Speaking of hair and of Camille Paglia...

... there's also this from that New York Magazine article (linked in the previous post):
Lately, she wears her hair in a light-brown shag, which she got after bringing a photo of Jane Fonda’s Klute cut to her stylist.
Yeah, I too got hair-inspired by Jane Fonda in Klute...



... back in 1971 when the movie came out.

Why Camille Paglia loves the Women's March — "Oh, wow, to be with all the women.”

"I think it’s important that women rediscover solidarity with themselves. It really wasn’t about feminism. It’s really not about Trump. It’s not about any of that. It was all of a sudden, Oh, wow, to be with all the women."

But: “I was horrified, horrified by the pink pussy hats... a major embarrassment to contemporary feminism."

At the Red Dog Café...

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... you can bark all day long.

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"With Trump in White House, Some Executives Ask, Why Not Me?"

In the NYT:
“There is this sense that if Trump got it, why shouldn’t they?” said David Gergen, co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and an adviser to four presidents. “They’ve been more successful, they have more experience, and they’ve run a public company, which is more equivalent to what a president does than a private company” like the Trump Organization.

Stu Loeser, once the press secretary for Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who considered a presidential run last year, concurred. “If you run a company that has employed tens of thousands of people, and generated lots of profit and been undeniably successful, and you look at a sitting president who, to be honest, a lot of business people don’t have much respect for, you think, why not me?” he said.

Speaking of hairstyles... Hillary Clinton shows up in a new hairdo for International Women's Day.

Because what says progress for women better than a new hairstyle?

I'm seeing the video — with her saying "Stand up. Resist. Run for office. Be a champion" — at The Daily Mail, which forefronts the hair, but where the highest rated comments are not hair-related. There's a lot of resistance to the word "resist":
• Resist what? She certainly can't be talking to American women. There's nothing to resist here....

• Resist what??!!!

• Resist what? Obeying the laws?

• Yeah right, 'resist' but she couldn't 'resist' that 250 million dollar donation from S.audi A.rabia who has to be THE most women abusing country on the planet.

• Resist what?

Big positive reaction to female Korean chief justice after she shows up in court with 2 curlers in her hair.

Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi had to rush in for the momentous announcement of the ouster of the South Korean president.

You'd think the curlers left in the hair would symbolize terrible tendencies in a judge — negligence, obliviousness, sloppiness, and lack of attention to detail. But no. She's a woman and therefore you have to put a positive interpretation on everything.

According to the AP reporter (in WaPo):
Many saw the episode as a sign of Lee’s dedication to her work. She was photographed arriving three hours before the scheduled reading of the verdict.
Some women also found it humbling that one of the highest judges in the country does her own hair instead of hiring a stylist even on such an important day.

“Any woman who does her hair on her own has an experience like that at least once,” one tweet said.

Some compared it to the impeached president who prosecutors say summoned her hair stylist to her office several hours after a ferry sank in 2014, killing hundreds of teenagers. Park’s first appearance after the sinking was at an emergency meeting; her hair was near-perfect. One of the contentious issues in the case before the Constitutional Court was whether Park fulfilled her duty as president on the day of the Sewol tragedy.
To be fair, the ousted president — Park Geun-hye — is also female. Here's an article about why she was removed.
“It was such an obvious case that there was no room for the court to rule other than impeaching the president,” said Kim Seon-taek, a professor of constitutional law at Korea University.
That is to say, there was no possible positive interpretation to be placed on what Park had done.

IN THE COMMENTS: Henry said: "The photograph is from when she arrived. I don't get the impression that the hair curlers were still in her hair three hours later." So I've removed a sentence that had appeared above ("So she had 3 hours to notice her mistake.") On reflection, I'm willing to think that she knew the curlers were there and wanted to look right later and just accepted that she'd be seen like this. It used to be very common in the United States for women to go out with their hair in curlers. Not all women, but many women, thought it was fine to go out in rollers covered by a scarf, if it was during the day and you were only doing errands like grocery shopping. I think the idea was that you'd look good when men were around and what other women would see was you in preparation mode, showing off that you had a man worth looking good for later.

Remember, kids — if your mom posts a photograph of you sleeping, you get to post a photograph of her sleeping.

That's my reaction to "'He's a laugh!': Victoria Beckham pokes fun at her son Brooklyn as she posts playful photo of him sleeping on social media" (in The Daily Mail).

The boy is 18 years old, by the way, not a baby or toddler.

What are the social media ethics between parents (or grandparents) and children? Isn't consent always required? Whose personal "branding" counts? I would think the person in the image has the greatest interest in image control and the photographer is wrong to interpose her own sense that the child is part of her brand.* Other people are not your handbags and chihuahuas.

A photo of someone sleeping flaunts the lack of participation by the subject. If you really were sensibly concerned with your own image — instead of egoistically presumptuous — you'd make it clear when your share sleeping-person photos that the subject of the photo has seen it and expressed happiness with the idea of your sharing it.

_______________________

* Feminine pronoun not intended to imply that a man can't commit this offense or deserves any ore leeway when he does.

March 9, 2017

Early morning light on Bryce Canyon.

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This morning.

See the pictographs?

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A closer look:

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Photographed today at Calf's Creek Falls — on Utah highway 24.

Here's an article about the Fremont People who made these images.
The Fremont culture or Fremont people is a pre-Columbian archaeological culture which received its name from the Fremont River in the U.S. state of Utah where the first Fremont sites were discovered.... It inhabited sites in what is now Utah and parts of Nevada, Idaho and Colorado from AD 1 to 1300 (2,000-700 years ago)....

Scholars did not agree that the Fremont culture represents a single, cohesive group with a common language, ancestry, or lifeway, but several aspects of their material culture suggests they might be a single ethnic group. First, Fremont culture people foraged wild food sources and grew corn.... [They made] gray ware pottery and a signature style of basketry and rock art. Most of the Fremont lived in small single and extended family units comprising villages ranging from two to a dozen pithouse structures, with only a few having been occupied at any one time....

What would it take for Samantha Bee to apologize for saying that the people at CPAC have "Nazi hair"?

It would take the sheer happenstance that one of the photographs shown as she said "Nazi hair, Nazi hair, Nazi hair" was of a woman man with stage 4 cancer.

"Since the nuclear crisis in Fukushima in 2011, video footage taken by journalists has shown packs of badly unkempt dogs scampering across roads."

"Rat colonies have overrun abandoned supermarkets. Farmland, transformed into grassland, has became a perfect habitat for wild boars and foxes."
Hundreds of toxic wild boars have been roaming across northern Japan....

Officials have also expressed concern that returning residents may be attacked by the animals, some of which have settled comfortably in abandoned homes and have reportedly lost their shyness to humans.

“It’s important to set up an environment that will make it tough for the boars to live in,” an official told the Yomiuri daily.

Answering the question: Will Althouse break her 13-year record of blogging every single day?

Here I am, after getting an early start in Bryce Canyon and riding the very scenic Utah Routes 12 and 24, with stops for hiking at Calf Creek Falls and Capitol Reef. Meade did all the driving, getting us into Moab just after sunset.

Thanks for carrying on in the comments section of last night's Bryce Canyon post. I've got lots of new photographs to upload and tweak, but I'm going to take the next hour or so to read the internet in my usual morning way and see if I can come up with something worth talking about.

ADDED: "Capitol Reef encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the earth's crust that is 65 million years old."
It is the largest exposed monocline in North America. In this fold, newer and older layers of earth folded over each other in an S-shape. This warp, probably caused by the same colliding continental plates that created the Rocky Mountains, has weathered and eroded over millennia to expose layers of rock and fossils. The park is filled with brilliantly colored sandstone cliffs, gleaming white domes, and contrasting layers of stone and earth.

The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building, that run from the Fremont River to Pleasant Creek on the Waterpocket Fold.

March 8, 2017

Greetings from Bryce Canyon.

We're holed up inside another national park... waiting for pizza in the nice little restaurant near the lodge. We walked the Navajo Trail which had some steep and muddy declines and uphill slogs and even some ice. This was quite scary to me because of the sharp drops off to one side, but I toughed it out and feel a little proud of myself. I haven't shuffled through all my photographs, but let me toss these up before the pizza arrives....

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"Purple America Has All But Disappeared."

FiveThirtyEight reports.

"Ann Arbor woman pleads guilty to making up hate crime."

"Halley Bass admitted in court that she fabricated a story about a strange man scratching her face in downtown Ann Arbor on Nov. 15."
"I was suffering from depression at the time," Bass told Judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines. "I made a superficial scratch on my face. It was visible and I was embarrassed about what I'd done. So I made up a story and told a friend that a stranger had done it while I was walking. I was encouraged to report it to the police. I made the mistake of doing that."

At the time, Bass claimed her attack was part of the surge in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump a week earlier. She told police she was targeted for wearing a solidarity pin connected to Great Britain's "Brexit" vote.

"A man who beat his murder case when prosecutors failed to give him a speedy trial was killed minutes after leaving Cook County Jail on Monday night..."

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Cook County prosecutors dropped the murder charges at the end of January after allowing too much time to elapse under the state’s speedy trial statute, according to court records and Belmont’s attorney.  The robbery charges remained and [Kamari Belmont, 23] was ordered held on a $100,000 bond.

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, a friend of Belmont posted the required $10,000 on the bond and Belmont was released at 11:12 p.m., according to jail officials.

Belmont was a few block from the jail when a white SUV pulled up to his car on California Avenue and someone inside started shooting, police said. Belmont was hit several times....
Time — too long and too short.

At the Zabriskie Point Café...

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... you can keep up the conversation while Meade and I zoom across America.

(And consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal... and help keep us on the road.)

Tim Kaine's son was arrested "on suspicion of second-degree riot at the 'March 4 Trump' rally in St. Paul."

March 4 Trump? March for Trump? Was Linwood Michael Kaine, 24, for Trump? No. There was a clash between pro- and anti-Trumpers.

"So for all we know, 'Russian hacks' might actually be by the CIA, or by the Iranians, or by Indian mobsters. Great."

Instapundit sums up, after an explanation of the meaning of the new Wikileaks leaks from a security expert named Eric Cowperthwait, who said:
The CIA has built a capability to hack pretty much anything, anywhere. It turns out that they, potentially, have more ability to intrude into servers, computers, smartphones and electronic communications than even the NSA.

This capability is now in the hands of people other than the CIA.

All the things you’ve read, that seem like science fiction movie plots, are really true. Other people can listen to you via your smart TV, can read your email, turn on the webcam on your laptop, without you ever knowing.

The "oldest dust" is "in a galaxy with only a number for a name in a constellation called Sculptor, and so far away that its distance barely has any meaning."

"The light from A2744_YD4, as it is known, has been on its way to us for 13.2 billion years, since the universe was only 600 million years old."

Talk about headlines that make an assumption: "It’s Not Just You. Americans Are Having Less Sex."

In the NYT.

"A Day Without a Woman" makes a classic sexist mistake.

That phrase — "A Day Without a Woman" —  assumes you are a man!

I am a woman. I never have a day without a woman.

ALSO: "Is the ‘Day Without a Woman’ protest elitist?" (in WaPo):
The organizers of the massive post-inauguration women’s mar­ches have called on female workers to stay home Wednesday, raising concerns among some supporters of the burgeoning feminist movement that the burden of the protest will fall too heavily on the poor.....

To make it more inclusive, organizers are urging women to take the day off only if they feel they can....

Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, said the strike also is a way to continue the momentum from the marches....

“The idea of the strike — it’s another strategy,” Sarsour said. “It was not going to be comfortable for everyone.”

Historically, the people at the forefront of labor strikes have not been from among the most privileged, she said, citing hourly-pay workers who have fought to raise the minimum wage and farmworkers who have left the fields to advocate for worker protections.

“They risked their jobs, and they had big wins,” Sarsour said.
So... with today's strike, people are doing it only where they are not risking their jobs, where they are already privileged. Where's the leverage for the "big wins"? But it makes the news, even as it is kept comfortable. 

Ben Carson savaged for saying the slaves were a kind of immigrant...

... and then it turns out Barack Obama did the same thing at least 11 times.

I don't want to laugh in the vicinity of the suffering of the slaves, but... man, it is satisfying when the double standard pops into stark view like that. Is it too much to hope for progress in cross-party understanding?

ADDED: I'd like to know what the NYT's Frank Bruni would like to say now that these words attach also to Barack Obama:
[H]e’s a great lesson — for the left as well as the right — that sensitivity is a function of sensibility, not merely of complexion or membership in a given identity group.

A black person can bumble into racially hurtful comments....

March 7, 2017

Zabriskie Point sunset, sunrise.

Sunset, yesterday evening:

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Sunrise, today:

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Fantastic theater experiment: A male Hillary and a female Trump.

Using text and gestures and tone from the 2016 debates, actors play the 2 candidates, with the gender flipped. The audience is surveyed before and after, and pretty much everyone is stunned to discover that gender bias did not work at all as they thought it did. The male Hillary was rather repulsive, and Trump's approach to communication was quite successful coming from a woman.
Based on the conversations after the performances, it sounded like audience members had their beliefs rattled in a similar way. What were some themes that emerged from their responses?

We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she was was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it. Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.” Someone said that Jonathan Gordon [the male Hillary Clinton] was “really punchable” because of all the smiling. And a lot of people were just very surprised by the way it upended their expectations about what they thought they would feel or experience. There was someone who described Brenda King [the female Donald Trump] as his Jewish aunt who would take care of him, even though he might not like his aunt. Someone else described her as the middle school principal who you don’t like, but you know is doing good things for you.
I'd like to see video of the complete performance, but there is this clip from a rehearsal:



Brilliant. What a great realization of a great idea!

It's great for Trump to pop out and surprise a bunch of schoolkids who were touring the White House today...



... but why did he stage it right in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton?

Why did Trump pose in front of the Hillary portrait?
Lighthearted teasing: I'm the one who's here and she's not.
Cruel mockery: She was crushed and I am the victor.
It just happened to be the best location for ambushing children.
He admires old Hillary. He's almost copying her gesture, arms out. He's showing love and inclusion. She's here in spirit, and I'm here with her.
free poll

"Self-driving Volkswagen 'Sedric' pod unveiled as your futuristic personal chauffeur."

"Rather than have a standard car layout, VW is pitching Sedric as more of a lounge on wheels. It will have leather upholstery and no steering wheel or pedals."
"And the concept offers tailor-made mobility for everyone: adults and children, retirees and people with physical disabilities, city people who do not have their own car or a driving license, and visitors in a new city and suddenly decide they want to get from A to B in a convenient mobility setting."
So much better than trains. 

Greetings from Lake Las Vegas.

We climbed our way out of Death Valley and past Las Vegas to Henderson, but we're jumping off soon to wend our way back after getting over 2,000 miles away from home. We have no set plan other than a need to pass through Denver. We're big on National Parks and don't want to hit any ski resorts. Any suggestions?

At the Zabriskie Point Café...



... bundle up, stargazers.

The Harvard law professor argues that the President of the United States can and should be impeached for saying something that's not supported by evidence.

This is Noah Feldman, writing at Bloomberg:
The sitting president has accused his predecessor of an act that could have gotten the past president impeached. That’s not your ordinary exercise of free speech....

In a rule of law society, government allegations of criminal activity must be followed by proof and prosecution. If not, the government is ruling by innuendo....
But impeachment is not available as a solution to excessive innuendo.
Breaking the law by tapping Trump’s phones would have been an abuse of executive power that implicated the democratic process itself. Impeachment is the remedy for such a serious abuse of the executive office....
Why would that make impeachment the right remedy for saying that Obama did it?
The Constitution speaks of impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”... Suffice it to say that what makes crimes “high” is that they pertain to the exercise of government office. That’s exactly what accusations by the executive are: actions that take on their distinctive meaning because they are made by government officials....

Obama is the best-known and most popular Democrat in the country. The effect of attacking him isn’t just to weaken him personally, but to weaken the political opposition to Trump’s administration.

Given how great the executive’s power is, accusations by the president can’t be treated asymmetrically. If the alleged action would be impeachable if true, so must be the allegation if false. Anything else would give the president the power to distort democracy by calling his opponents criminals without ever having to prove it.
So the power available to be used against the President must equal the President's power? We need symmetry, an equal-playing-field fight? If that's the theory, we won't have a presidency anymore. The fact that seems to escape Feldman is that Trump was elected President. THAT was the procedure. The trust was put in him.

I know some people are having a terrible time accepting that. Trump wasn't supposed to win. But he did, and the people who voted for him are entitled to their victory, and those who did not still need a President, and those about to devote themselves to the next campaign need elections to maintain their meaning.

Trump may be outright lying about Obama, but Obama told lies too, and all Presidents tell some lies, sometimes for good reason. We made a human being President. We always do. This person will say many things, and we'll be saying many things against him too. Like Professor Feldman, we can say that the President ought to be impeached. But to say the President should be impeached for lying about a political opponent is too much drama.

"A Democrat that votes for cloture on Gorsuch is a Democrat voting to overturn Roe... This is absolutely a fight they should be fighting and that we will hold them accountable if they don’t fight it."

A quote from an article at The Hill about threats to primary Senate Democrats who don't fight the Gorsuch confirmation.

The GOP replacement for Obamacare.

Usefully depicted in chart form at the NYT.

"WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions."

The NYT reports:
Among other disclosures that, if confirmed, would rock the technology world, the WikiLeaks release said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”...

WikiLeaks said the source, in a statement, set out policy questions that “urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the C.I.A.’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.” The source, the group said, “wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

Greetings from Pahrump, Nevada.

We've left Death Valley, where we were up at 4:00 and out at Zabriskie Point, lying on our backs looking at the stars, seeing the Milky Way for the first time in years. We were warm in sleeping bags, but it was windy and in the 30s then. We had the place to ourselves for a while, but as the light rose and the stars faded, others arrived, mostly with cameras and tripods, and they set up looking away from the sunrise, onto the landscape. I took a few pictures myself, but I can't show them to you yet, because my camera battery died just as the sun popped fully into view over the mountain and changed the colors on the beautiful landscape in all the photographs.

Now, I'm in a McDonald's in Pahrump, eating an egg-and-sausage biscuit and finally getting some coffee. It's nice to get some WiFi and a chance to peek at the news before pushing on toward Las Vegas.

ADDED: The senior citizens at the table next to me are reminiscing about old processed foods. Sample dialogue:
"Remember Hungry Man?"

"Oh, God, yes!"
AND: Meade texted me one of his photographs. The dark blue line shows the progress of the sun hitting the mountain across the valley:

March 6, 2017

From Dante's View at midday in Death Valley.

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Then, down in that valley — a sharp-edged, incredibly rugged landscape called the Devil's Golf Course:

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"While all this head-spinning legal jibber-jabber goes back and forth, the foundation of the false narrative we’ve been hearing since November 8 has vanished."

"Now that we’re supposed to believe there was no real investigation of Trump and his campaign, what else can we conclude but that there was no real evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia . . . which makes sense, since Russia did not actually hack the election, so the purported objective of the collusion never existed."

Writes Andrew McCarthy.

The weasel word of the day is "Ordered."

I'm tired of reading things like "President Trump’s astonishing and reckless accusation that he was wiretapped on orders from President Barack Obama should finally be the tipping point in how the country views him and his presidency." (That's E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post.)

From what I've read, "ordered" is the weasel word that allows anti-Trumpsters to make flat statements portraying Trump as out of his mind. But the notorious Trump tweets do not say that Obama "ordered" a wiretapping. They ask if it is "legal for a sitting President to be 'wire tapping' a race for president prior to an election?" and refer to what a court had done. Though Trump didn't precisely say this, any "order" came from the court. He then said "President Obama was tapping my phones," which isn't to say that he "ordered" it. I think the story Trump is relying on is that the FISA court granted a warrant (after some funny business to get around a previous denial), not that Obama just "ordered" it. Then, Trump tweeted that Obama had gone "low... to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process." Trump portrays Obama as doing something, not "ordering" it.

Unless the anti-Trumpsters can speak clearly avoid the safety of that word, I will not trust what they say. 

"I think he did it because he’s Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.'

Said the juror in the case the Supreme Court decided today, reported at the NYT as "Jury Secrecy Doesn’t Apply if Marred by Bias, Supreme Court Rules."

The Supreme Court sends the transgender rights case back to the lower court...

... in light of the Trump administration's withdrawal of the Obama administration's advice to schools to "treat transgender students consistent [sic] with their gender identity," enforced with a threat of the loss of federal funding. The 4th Circuit had ruled in favor of a student — Gavin Grimm, who sought access to the boys' bathroom — based on the Obama administration policy, so it's unsurprising that the Court sent the case back .

The link goes to the NYT, which includes a — fake news? — map showing the estimated percentage of transgender high school students in each of the 50 states.

"Feminism, feminism … gender wage gap … why oh why am I not taken seriously … feminism … oh, and here are my tits!"

Said Emma Watson, as imagined by some tweeter the Washington Post deemed worthy of quoting. The tweeter was reacting to a photograph of Watson wearing some clothing that bared not her breasts but her central chestal area and midriff. At the link, other anti-Watson tweets are quoted. Also, Watson's response, which is so utterly banal you should be able to guess the first 6 words verbatim:
"Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing.... I’m confused. Most people are confused. No, I’m just always just quietly stunned."
Parts of that are not banal. I like "Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with." And the banal part is actually good. It's just so good we shouldn't have to keep saying it. I blame the haters for the banality.

As for the business about how confusing it all is. Here's where Emma and other members of The Confused could begin some productive thinking. But maybe if she worked past the confusion — and dared to talk about it — she'd find herself holding a stick to beat other women with. And that's why people stay confused.

By choice.

"New executive order bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries applying for visas."

WaPo reports.

Good morning from Death Valley.

I don't know how much time I'll have to put up some posts. It's Monday morning, so I'd like to think there's no fresh hell to put before your eyes as if you haven't seen it yet.

Here's the view from the terrace outside our hotel room....



It's hard to blog from the Pacific Time Zone! I suppose the best practice would be to write late at night and get the jump on the rest of the bloggers from the dark side.

March 5, 2017

Today in Death Valley, we walked up Titus Canyon.

I'm not going to describe how windy it was. I'm just going to say: Look at the wiener dog's ears:

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Eventually, the canyon walls had the effect of blocking the wind (as opposed to being a wind tunnel)...

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And Meade put up with my slow walking camera wielding...

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He sweetly amused me by handing me rocks he thought I'd particularly enjoy. Like this...

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... and this tiny pseudo-petroglyphic heart....

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... which I left in Titus Canyon.

It's the Winter of the Shark, and I find it offputting and childish, but it's also an ominous sign that we don't have enough problems.



There's way too much insanity right now. It's like the "summer of the shark" before 9/11.* If anything really serious started happening, I assume all the participants in the current insanity would suddenly sober up and act like grownups.

I don't have a taste for blood myself, and I've been turning away from this drama, disgusted. I don't know who's most responsible for the current insanity, but I will be looking for some decent journalists to read and politicians to listen to.
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* "The Summer of the Shark refers to the coverage of shark attacks by American news media in the summer of 2001. The sensationalist coverage of shark attacks began in early July following the Fourth of July weekend shark attack on 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast, and continued almost unabated—despite no evidence for an actual increase in attacks—until the September 11 terrorist attacks shifted the media's attention away from beaches. The Summer of the Shark has since been remembered as an example of tabloid television perpetuating a story with no real merit beyond its ability to draw ratings."

At the Death Valley Rainbow Café...

Look Closely — a Rainbow

... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please think of supporting the ongoing, on-the-road blogging of Althouse by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"FISA Is Not Law-Enforcement – It’s Not Interference with Justice Department Independence for White House to Ask for FISA Information."

The invaluable legal analysis of Andrew M. McCarthy, checking the work of the NYT.
According to [the NYT report "Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones"], a Trump official said that White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II is “working to secure access” to what is believed to be “an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates.” Presumably, this means the Trump White House is seeking to review the Justice Department’s applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance of Trump associates, and perhaps Trump himself, from June and October 2016, including any orders issued by the FISA court – as my post explains, it has been reported that the Obama Justice Department’s June application was denied, but its October application (which apparently did not name Trump) was granted.   
The NYT report makes assertions about the law — "Any request for information from a top White House official about a continuing investigation would be a stunning departure from protocols intended to insulate the F.B.I. from political pressure" — that McCarthy debunks. McCarthy is adamant:
[A] FISA investigation is not a “law-enforcement matter” or “case.” A law-enforcement matter is a criminal prosecution. That is the mission in which there should never be any political interference because it involves the strictly legal matter of whether there is evidence that penal statutes have been violated. In such a situation, White House intrusion would be political interference in a proceeding that is essentially judicial in nature, involving the potential removal of liberty from a citizen.
McCarthy has great expertise in this area and the NYT should be powerfully embarrassed to botch things this badly — whether the mistakes are from ignorance or from a deliberate attempt to deceive. I'm not an expert in this area, so maybe McCarthy is wrong and the NYT is right. The NYT had better scramble to explain itself if it's right or come clean if it's wrong.

Meanwhile, this gets my "fake news" tag.

"President Trump... demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election."

The NYT reports.
“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in the statement.

Mr. Spicer, who repeated the entire statement in a series of Twitter messages, added that “neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”