May 26, 2016

"I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!"

The laugh-out-loud line (for me) in "Letter from Oberlin/The Big Uneasy/What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?" a great New Yorker article by Nathan Heller. The line is spoken by Roger Copeland, a professor of theater and dance who's been teaching at Oberlin since the 70s.

Sometimes life looks like YouTube... and you feel you can press "PLAY."


Seen, this morning, and photographed by Meade.

The "straddling bus"... an idea from China.

"The bus, powered in part by solar energy, would run on tracks, carrying up to 1,200 passengers in raised compartments that can glide over the traffic below."
Critics at the time it was first unveiled questioned whether the hovering bus could interact safely with other vehicles. They also argued that the tracks would require relatively straight roads not found in many older urban areas, and that the overhead boarding stations that the bus needed would take up too much space.
I find it disturbing, but maybe it makes more sense than a train... or isn't it actually really a train? It goes on tracks. But it's like a bus, because it runs on the road along with cars. It's a very cool (but disturbing!) variation on a bus, and I would recommend that if they think they could do this in America, they should not call it a bus. Call it a train. Americans don't like the idea of riding on a bus. We like the idea of a train. And I think a lot of Americans would enjoy the way this vehicle makes things very weird for the cars, getting in their space, overwhelming and digesting them. The anti-car people might love this, even as cars are taking over. And we'll have our self-driving cars soon, so the emotional distress of getting overtaken by a straddling bus won't affect the maneuvering of the cars. It will just screw with the heads of the passengers of the cars, who will already be reeling in a new reality.

IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy sees what's so unsettling:
There is something Female about that bus engulfing your penis shaped little car. Was it good for you? 
Yes, trains, planes, cars — all the moving vehicles — have been phallic. A vaginal vehicle is beyond all normal experience. Yes, we've ridden vehicles into garages and tunnels, but those things hold still.

The cube...

"I think you solved the mystery of the pyramids."

Should a 6-month-old be water skiing — 686 feet across a lake?

"People don’t realize that it was done properly... It was planned and she was ready for it."

"America can’t eat its way out of this massive cheese problem."

Yes, we have a cheese problem. I'm acknowledging it by quoting that headline I like, but it's in the Washington Post behind its pay way, so you probably won't bother clicking on this link. I'll quote a bit:
[E]ach American would have to eat an extra 3 pounds of cheese this year, on top of the 36 pounds we already consume per capita, to eliminate the big yellow mountain. Even for a society that piles the stuff on sandwiches and rolls it into pizza crusts, that’s a tall order....

... Americans will probably never top the world champion cheese-eaters, who are, of course, the French, with annual per capita consumption of 57 pounds.
So we need to go from 36 to 39 to solve the problem, and the French already do 57. So why can't we eat our way out of this massive cheese problem? We'd need to increase our cheese intake by about 8%. What's that — an extra slice of pizza every 3 weeks? One extra slice on a sandwich once a week? Of all the things we are asked to do to help our country (and to help Wisconsin)....

Here's the Wall Street Journal article from a few days ago: "A Cheese Glut Is Overtaking America/Rise in production comes just as exports are hit by strong dollar; can you eat three pounds more?"

A Washington Post editorial: "Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules."

"While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules. In the middle of the presidential campaign, we urge the FBI to finish its own investigation soon, so all information about this troubling episode will be before the voters."

ADDED: From The Hill: 
The potential for any of this to end Clinton’s White House campaign, while slim, is real. And it clearly fuels Sanders’s hope that a noxious legal cloud will cost Clinton the nomination. What Sanders signals to his voters in the weeks to come could be critical to Clinton’s ability to win them over later. Taking a victory lap now could cost her victory in November.

In the perceptual entropy of the metamodernist, the Sanders revolution has already happened.

From an Atlantic article — "This Is How a Revolution End/The Democratic insurgent’s campaign is losing steam—but his supporters are not ready to give up.s" — by Molly Ball:
The Sanders movement has become impervious to reality. Some have even called into question the nature of reality itself: “Bernie Sanders’ ‘political revolution’ is political only inasmuch as thought is political,” a self-described “metamodernist creative writer” named Seth Abramson wrote in the Huffington Post a few days ago. “By the very nature of things—we might call it perceptual entropy—the impossible, once perceived, enters a chain of causation whose natural conclusion is realization.” By this logic, Abramson reasons, Sanders is actually winning. It’s, like, the Matrix, man, or something....

Clinton, for her part, has taken to pretending Sanders does not exist....
Just stop believing and he'll go away.
Sanders was introduced [in Anaheim] by a blind Filipino delegate and a gay actress who... compared Sanders to a unicorn, because “he seems too good to be true.”...
Ball is pushing the Hillary theory: It can't be true. A blind lady can see that he looks like a unicorn. Why won't everyone just stop?!!

But it's not that kind of year. And that unicorn is getting in position to win California.

IN THE COMMENTS: shiloh said:
ok, Althouse just wanted another excuse to use her Hillary's in trouble tag.
I said:
I made that tag to correspond to my tag for Obama: "Obama's in trouble."

That tag arose from a comic take we had at Meadhouse, which was, in longer form, "Obama's in trouble! We need to help!" I thought that was the tone of the news around Obama, and we were — I am not kidding — riffing on the old TV show "Lassie," where Lassie would bark about someone being in trouble and people would then know to spring into action and help.

But with Hillary, we don't have that instinct: If she's in trouble, then that means we need to help. She just doesn't inspire us that way. Few politicians do.

"Some irrational youths threw flammable missiles at the houses of Christians in the village and some women ran away in their nightgowns."

Said Tarek Nasser, the local governor in Minya, Egypt, putting his spin on what the UK Independent reports as:
A 70-year-old Christian woman has been stripped naked, beaten and paraded through the streets by a mob of around 300 Muslim men in a village in southern Egypt.

The mob also burned down seven homes belonging to Christian families, according to an unusually outspoken statement issued by the local Orthodox Coptic church, after rumours circulated in the village that a Christian man was having a relationship with a Muslim woman... The woman who was stripped naked was reported to be the mother of the man involved in the rumoured affair.
Police did not respond until after the mob had dispersed on its own, 2 hours after the terror began.

ADDED: Remember 2011? We in Wisconsin were subjected to things like "Wisconsin and Egypt: A tale of two uprisings/Reflections from a Madison labor activist in Cairo": "So while political imagination is blooming in Cairo, it is somewhat disappointing in Wisconsin."

And here was that man with the sign "Egypt, Libya/Madison, Wisconsin/Civil Unrest Is Best" who — when Meade asked "Are you calling for civil unrest — here?" — said "Uh, sure, why?" and then, a few questions later, "Get your head fucked."

"I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest."

Said Peter Thiel — the PayPal billionaire — explaining why he bankrolled Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. He said it was "less about revenge and more about specific deterrence." The "revenge" part relates to the fact that Gawker had once written about him "Peter Thiel is totally gay, people." Revenge looks backward, getting recompense for wrongs done. Deterrence looks to the future:
“I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves.” He said that “even someone like Terry Bollea who is a millionaire and famous and a successful person didn’t quite have the resources to do this alone.”...

“I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations,” he said. “I think much more highly of journalists than that. It’s precisely because I respect journalists that I do not believe they are endangered by fighting back against Gawker.... It’s not like it is some sort of speaking truth to power or something going on here. The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean.”...

“[W]e would get in touch with the plaintiffs who otherwise would have accepted a pittance for a settlement...."
If you keep reading over at the link — which goes to the NYT — past the quotes from lawprofs who explain there's no ethical violation in Hogan's receiving help from an unnamed donor and no effect on the merits of his case and past some defense of Gawker from its founder and into the part about Thiel's brilliant career, you'll eventually get to:
A libertarian, Mr. Thiel is a pledged delegate for Donald J. Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The top-rated comments at the Times all pick on this point: 1. "After reading this my respect for Peter Thiel, as it were, disappeared." 2. "At least Gawker relies on truth. Trump, on the other hand, disseminates lies like confetti. Wonder how Thiel reconciles that reality." 3. "Isn't it funny how libertarians don't want any rules, until they do?" 4. "I was actually rooting for Mr. Thiel until I read, 'Mr. Thiel is a pledged delegate for Donald J. Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention.'"

#3 is a good comment. I'd up-vote that.

Jimmy Kimmel has brokered a deal between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: They will debate.

Trump was on Kimmel's show last night, and when Jimmy asked, he said yes — with the condition that the proceeds would go to charity. Bernie immediately tweeted "Game on"!

This is great — great of and for both men.

Great for Trump because it shows — in addition to the instinct to toward charity — that he's unafraid and not inclined toward the passive role of standing back and letting his opponents beat each other up.

Great for Bernie because he's shown his readiness to debate and Hillary turned him down. She turned him down the day after she said — on "Meet the Press," when asked if she'd do the debate Bernie had accepted — "You know, I haven't thought about it." I wrote at the time: "How is that possible? That's an unforced lie." When she declined the debate the very next day, I thought it was ridiculous. She never bothered with the pretense of taking the idea of the debate seriously.

But Trump is game. And so is Bernie "Game on!" Sanders.

May 25, 2016

At Meade's Garden Café...


... you can talk about anything.

(Photo by Meade... a closeup of his elegant work.)

Matt Yglesias explains Hillary Clinton's mindset — it all goes back to Vince Foster.

From "Vince Foster's death and subsequent conspiracy theories, explained" at Vox:
If you ever find yourself wondering how it is that Clinton doesn't manage to resist the temptation to accept paid speaking gigs even when she's already rich and clearly gearing up for a presidential campaign, Foster is basically the reason. Where most politicians would be warned by staff to avoid even a slight appearance of impropriety, Clinton feels from experience that she'll be slammed regardless of what she does, so she might as well let her own conscience be her guide star in terms of policy and cash whatever checks she's offered.

"Protesters Throw Rocks at Police Horses Outside Trump Rally in Albuquerque."

That NYT headline should make it clear that the protesters were anti-Trump protesters. In fact, there's close to nothing in the text of the whole article that specifies who the protesters were. Midway through, you get this:
The raucous scene outside the convention center was matched by Mr. Trump’s fiery tone inside the rally, which protesters disrupted less than three minutes after he started speaking.
And then the rest of the article displays Trump's fieriness. So the only evidence that these awful protesters — throwing rocks at horses! — were anti-Trump, rather than fired-up supporters, was the news that they "disrupted" Trump.

"The State Department’s inspector general sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had."

The NYT reports.
In a report delivered to members of Congress on Wednesday, the inspector general said that Mrs. Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with officials responsible for handling records and security but that inspectors found “no evidence” that she had.

"No need for ironing, neat, stain resistant, and with a common touch... This has made the jacket a favorite informal attire for Chinese officialdom."

"The jacket has been loved by generations of leaders, because it is versatile and easygoing... The jacket look is lively and exudes vigor."

Quotes from Chinese media about the "Xi jacket" — the navy-blue, zippered windbreaker worn by President Xi Jinping of China, from a NYT article titled "China’s Leader Wears Many Hats, but Only One Jacket."

And here's a quote from an Australian professor, Louise Edwards, who, we're told, "has studied the political symbolism of clothes in China":
“It is sufficiently distinct from the worker ant conformity of the Mao suit but still invokes the same spirit as the Mao suit: frugality, practicality, proximity to the people.... He wears the windbreaker when he wants to show he is down to work.”

The jacket’s message, she said, is, “Running the country is my job, I labor at it, I am a political worker.”
In the summer, Xi just wears "a long-sleeved white shirt and dark trousers." According to the NYT, in what I would have thought as too potentially racist-seeming to print: "When accompanying officials follow suit, as they often do, they call to mind a rookery of emperor penguins."

Why did Josh Marshall title his column "The Trumpian Song of Sexual Violence"?

This is a very verbose thing that Josh put up at Talking Points Memo yesterday. I slogged through it, even read some sentences aloud to Meade to test the intelligibility of the multiple negatives and piled up phrases:
The simple fact is that there's no evidence or logic to the idea that anyone who doesn't already hate Hillary Clinton with a passion will believe that she is culpable in some way for her husband's acts of infidelity against her.
But what's up with the title to his column? There's no music to Marshall's prose. There is a musical metaphor at the very end: 
As I've written in similar contexts, when we look at the messaging of a national political campaign we should be listening to the score, not the libretto, which is, like in opera, often no more than a superficial gloss on the real story, mere wave action on the surface of a deep sea. You're missing the point in trying to make out the logic of Trump's attacks on Clinton. The attacks are the logic. He is trying to beat her by dominating her in the public sphere, brutalizing her, demonstrating that he can hurt her with impunity.
Oh, I get it. He shouldn't attack her. That should be seen as sexual violence. If you listen to the music. Not the words. Hmm. Not any logic. Just how it feels. I know how I felt reading this piece, on the wave action of the deep sea that is Josh Marshall. Kinda seasick.

But to answer my question up there in the title. I think he meant to evoke the great song from "The Threepenny Opera," "Ballad of Sexual Dependency." Here's Marianne Faithfull's version:

Here are the lyrics. Read along and contemplate. Count how many times you think sounds like Trump and how many times you think sounds like Clinton and how many times you think Idiots, all of them....

One day after the NYT publishes "Kenneth Starr, Who Tried to Bury Bill Clinton, Now Only Praises Him"...

... we learn — from Inside Higher Ed — that Starr is expected to resign from his job as president of Baylor University, where the Board of Regents has been considering firing him for looking the other way when the school's football players were accused of sexual assault and domestic violence.

There have also been a lot of reports that the board voted to fire Starr. 

Here's our discussion, yesterday, about the NYT article, which seemed framed to help Hillary Clinton by offering up the supposedly surprising news that Ken Starr is a fan Bill Clinton's. The Times downplayed Starr's current troubles, which undercut the value of his seeming admiration for Bill Clinton.

I didn't say this yesterday, but I think it was unfair to Starr to write that he "tried to bury Bill Clinton." Starr was appointed Independent Counsel to investigate the Clintons, beginning with the Whitewater matter and expanding into the death of Vince Foster and then various other matters — "the firing of White House Travel Office personnel, potential political abuse of confidential FBI files, Madison Guaranty, Rose Law Firm, Paula Jones law suit and... possible perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up President Clinton's sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky."

Whatever criticisms he may deserve for going too deeply into these things, he was acting in the role of a prosecutor, under a charge from the 3-judge division that appointed him and subject to removal for good cause. One may be dismayed at all the things he turned up, but I don't see why he deserves to be seen as motivated by an intent to destroy Bill Clinton. He was a prosecutor, and if he were on a personal vendetta, why didn't Attorney General Janet Reno fire him?

By the way, Trump has brought up the old Vince Foster story, and there's some amazement that he's willing to sully himself with the sort of tawdry material that GOP candidates have traditionally left to others, as the NYT is talking about in its new article, "As Donald Trump Pushes Conspiracy Theories, Right-Wing Media Gets Its Wish":
[B]y personally broaching topics like Bill Clinton’s marital indiscretions and the conspiracy theories surrounding the suicide of Vincent W. Foster Jr., a Clinton White House aide, Donald J. Trump is...  defying the norms of presidential politics and fashioning his own outrageous style — one that has little use for a middleman, let alone usual ideas about dignity.
The Times observes that the Hillary campaign is trying to figure out how to interact with an opponent like this. It's much harder to decline to respond when material is purveyed by the GOP candidate himself and not just right-wing radio and websites. The Times quotes James Carville recommending no response at all.

Then it goes to Anita Dunn, who was once Obama's communications director. (This isn't in the Times, but let's not forget: She's the one who called the Obama White House "a genuinely hostile workplace to women.") Dunn told the Times that Hillary needs to figure out how to respond or Trump gets viewed as "winning the day" whenever he lobs one of his attacks.

And then here's the last sentence of the article:
Half-jokingly imagining Mr. Trump dredging up the 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex., she said, “We haven’t heard ‘David Koresh’ yet.”
I don't know why that "Half-jokingly" is there. I fully expect Trump to bring up the Waco siege, and there's nothing amusing about it at all.  

May 24, 2016

It seems to me Donald Trump handled Ali G perfectly.

I don't know how Sacha Baron Cohen thinks he has something on Trump to tell. This is just unbecoming: "Sacha Baron Cohen Claims Trump Lied About His Famous Ali G Interview/The details simply don't add up."

It made me watch the old clip, which I've embedded. It's funny. Both men are funny and smart. Cohen is stooping now, trying to exploit something that's just nothing and saying things like "I was the first person to realize [Trump] was a dick." The encounter was in 2003. No way Cohen could have been the first person to "realize" (i.e., think) that.

"Bob Dylan Is the Greatest American Singer of All Time."

"As the legend turns 75, it's time to reexamine his vocal talents alongside his songwriting...."