July 1, 2016

Eat Pray Love... pick 2.

"''I am separating from the man whom many of you know as 'Felipe' — the man whom I fell in love with at the end of the EAT PRAY LOVE journey," says Elizabeth Gilbert.

Oh, I'm sure the new story is good for another memoir. They'll probably be new love in it too. If you fell for the first one, I'm sure you'll fall for the next one. Your love affair with bullshit memoirs will go on.

Madison police officer fatally shoots a man who was coming at him with a pitchfork.

"Police Chief Mike Koval said.... a neighbor... called 911 around 9 p.m. to report that a man was about chest-deep in the water [of Lake Monona] and acting oddly..."
... seemingly talking to himself and slapping the water. The man then reportedly threw a rock into the window of the residence, Koval said....

Koval said the first officer on the scene was waiting for backup when the intruder approached the doorway from inside the house with a four-pronged pitchfork....

The officer gave numerous orders to the man to stop, which he ignored, Koval said. “The person was aggressing, and the officer was compelled to shoot him,” he said.

"Jen and I are utterly horrified to announce the arrival of our son, Jasper Heusen-­Gravenstein, born May 21st at 4:56 a.m."

"For nine long months, we’ve wondered who this little creature would be. Well, now we know: he’s the living embodiment of our darkest imaginings, with a nefarious agenda and Grandpa Jim’s nose. At seven pounds four ounces, Jasper may be small, but he’s large enough to have triggered our most primal fears...."

Anti-baby humor in The New Yorker. But babies can't read.

"We don't want barriers unrelated to a person's qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission."

"We have to have access to 100% of America's population. Although relatively few in number, we're talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction. We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we've invested in and who've proven themselves."

Said Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, ending the ban on trangender people serving openly in the military.

"U.S. District Judge strikes down Mississippi’s ‘religious freedom’ law."

WaPo reports on a preliminary injunction issued late last night.
“The State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others. Showing such favor tells ‘nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and . . . adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ ” Reeves wrote, citing precedent. “And the Equal Protection Clause is violated by HB 1523’s authorization of arbitrary discrimination against lesbian, gay, transgender, and unmarried persons.”
The Mississippi law, which you can read here, is different from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gives religious persons some exemptions from generally applicable law. That law applies to any religious belief that is substantially burdened. The Mississippi law specifies 3 particular religious beliefs it exempts: "Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman... Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage... Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth."

"I’m not going to promote this book ... How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?"

Said Gay Talese. (WaPo link.) His book, “The Voyeur’s Motel,” is about a motel owner who (supposedly) spied on his guests through ceiling vents into various rooms:
Foos’s earliest journal entries, for example, were dated 1966. But the author subsequently learned from county property records that Foos didn’t buy the Manor House Motel until 1969 — three years after he said he started watching his guests from the catwalk. “I cannot vouch for every detail that he recounts in his manuscript,” Talese writes in the book.

But property records also show a series of sales and purchases of the motel from 1980 to 1988, none of which Talese said he knew about. In a series of interviews, he expressed surprise, disappointment and anger to learn about the transactions. He said he had not been aware of them until a reporter asked him about it on Wednesday.

“The source of my book, Gerald Foos, is certifiably unreliable,” Talese said. “He’s a dishonorable man, totally dishonorable. . . . I know that. . . . I did the best I could on this book, but maybe it wasn’t good enough.”
The New Yorker looks bad too: "New Yorker editor David Remnick said he hadn’t had time to review the magazine’s vetting of the excerpt it published in April but would look into it."

We talked about this book back in April when the New Yorker excerpt appeared. In the comments, M Jordan said, presciently: "Wait a minute ... was this fiction or nonfiction?"

100 years ago today — the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

"The first day on the Somme (1 July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, which was forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army...."
The attack was made by five divisions of the French Sixth Army either side of the Somme, eleven British divisions of the Fourth Army north of the Somme to Serre and two divisions of the Third Army opposite Gommecourt, against the German Second Army of General Fritz von Below. The German defence south of the Albert–Bapaume road mostly collapsed and the French had "complete success" on both banks of the Somme, as did the British from the army boundary at Maricourt to the Albert–Bapaume road. On the south bank the German defence was made incapable of resisting another attack and a substantial retreat began; on the north bank the abandonment of Fricourt was ordered. The defenders on the commanding ground north of the road inflicted a huge defeat on the British infantry, who had an unprecedented number of casualties. Several truces were negotiated, to recover wounded from no man's land north of the road.
On this one day: "The Fourth Army took 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 men were killed, the French Sixth Army had 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army had 10,000–12,000 losses."

"Veteran pedestrians... shoulder their way into bike lanes or walk purposefully on the street alongside cars — eyes ahead, earphones in — forming a de facto express lane."

"They move en masse along Seventh and Eighth Avenues like a storm system on a weather map, heading north in the mornings and south in the evenings.... 'When you get out-of-towners and New Yorkers, it’s like mixing Clorox with ammonia, it doesn’t work — there’s a chemical reaction,' said Jato Jenkins, a street worker, as he swept a stretch of Seventh Avenue. 'The New Yorkers walk their normal route, and the out-of-towners are going the opposite direction, like salmon going upstream.'"

From "New York’s Sidewalks Are So Packed, Pedestrians Are Taking to the Streets" (in the NYT).

From the comments over there, here's a high-rated one with lots of practical suggestions:
Smartphone jammers at all transportation hubs, or open manholes to swallow anyone preoccupied on one. Escalating fines for 3 across, 4 across, and 5 across the sidewalk, which become felonies during the Xmas holidays. Sidewalk etiquette orientation films while tourists are in line at customs. Right of way for anyone carrying a briefcase or shopping bag over 12 lbs. Ban the sale of dog leashes over 4 ft long. Ban baby carriages during rush hour. Public flogging of wrong-way cyclists. What did I miss?
Somebody says tourists "need to learn to keep pace with the locals... keep up - we walk fast around here." And somebody else says:
I am deeply concerned about elderly people who live in NYC. They have a right to walk at their slow pace sometimes using walkers or canes and they deserve respect and attention. I am quite fit and strong but find it a battle to keep from being assaulted like it is a football tackle. I defensively watch out, call out, jump aside but still find I am regularly badly knocked by someone passing in the other direction. I suspect it is often deliberate. How can the elderly be protected? They don't just have the option to go out on the streets when there is no one else out.
And then somebody named sakura333 says:
Small cities in Japan are as crowded, and major ones more so. What is different from there to here is the perception of the people. There, being in a crowd is expected. Here, the perception is "You are in MY way." Our emphasis on individuality bites us again.
Why doesn't belief in individuality cause awareness that other people are also individuals? Or is that just me being a pathetically romantic American liberal?

After intense criticism about her meeting with Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch will announce that she will accept whatever the F.B.I. recommends about prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

The NYT reports, based on a "Justice Department official" "on the condition of anonymity because the internal decision-making process is normally kept confidential." Normally, but not this time. The info needed to escape.

I'm impressed by what looks like quick move to expunge what was at least an appearance of impropriety, but maybe this is what would have happened anyway:
The Justice Department had been moving toward such an arrangement for months — officials said in April that it was being considered — but a private meeting between Ms. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton this week set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable....
The meeting [with Bill Clinton] created an awkward situation for Ms. Lynch, a veteran prosecutor who was nominated from outside Washington’s normal political circles. In her confirmation, her allies repeatedly sought to contrast her with her predecessor, Eric H. Holder Jr., an outspoken liberal voice in the administration who clashed frequently with Republicans who accused him of politicizing the office. 
Holder, the Times reminds us, reduced the charges against David Petraeus to a misdemeanor after the F.B.I. recommended felony charges. And: "That decision created a deep — and public — rift."
Ms. Lynch has said she wants to handle the Clinton investigation like any other case. Since the attorney general often follows the recommendations of career prosecutors, Ms. Lynch is keeping the regular process largely intact.
Often... largely... It seems to me discretion is discretion. Even if you rarely use it, the ability to use it changes the the process. To give up the discretion before you see what you'll be asked to do is very different indeed. But Lynch could have given up her role much earlier in this process, and she chose to wait until now to give it up, now, after the secret meeting with Bill Clinton came to light. That doesn't look terrible lofty and disinterested, but at least she moved quickly to extract herself from the political storm.

How that storm hits Hillary, we shall see.

June 30, 2016

"So we are supposed to believe here that Bill Clinton, a 70-year-old man with a history of heart trouble played golf in Phoenix where it was 108, 110 degrees..."

"... maybe he played on Sunday when it was 108, I don't know. And then he's on the way to the airport to leave, is told that Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, is soon due to arrive, delays his departure, goes to a vacant private jet on the tarmac where she happens to be. He delays his departure to go have the meeting at which they discuss their grandchildren and their travels.... I try to envision that and it just doesn't work for me. It just doesn't work for me. So what else might have been going on at this meeting?..."

Rush Limbaugh applies his skeptical mind to the Bill-meets-Loretta story.

Photographing the bee...


... and seeing the ants. (Click image to enlarge.)

"Conviction vacated, new trial granted for Adnan Syed of 'Serial.'"

"The court finds that trial counsel's performance fell below the standard of reasonable professional judgment when she failed to cross-examine the state's cell tower expert regarding a disclaimer obtained as part of pre-trial discovery," wrote retired Judge Martin Welch.

MORE: Here, in the NYT:
In February, Mr. Syed’s defense challenged the testimony of an AT&T engineer whose sworn statements on cellphone data were used to link Mr. Syed to the park where Ms. Lee’s body was buried. The engineer, Abraham Waranowitz, said he was not shown a crucial disclaimer about cell tower data that would have affected his testimony in the murder trial.

But much of the defense team’s argument for a retrial centered on the testimony of Asia McClain, an alibi witness who also figured prominently in “Serial.”

Eye-catching tweet of the afternoon.

"The bright, wide-eyed, pupils-dilated, bushy-tailed look with the over-zealous grin is a dead giveaway in c.o.c.a.i.n.e users."

"Surprised her Fox employer didn't catch on sooner or maybe they just thought she was high energy."

The top-rated comment on a Daily Mail article titled "Fox Business producer, Chipotle executive and Merrill Lynch banker arrested in huge crackdown on cocaine buyers in New York."

Looking at the picture of her — and, really, go to the link and see the picture — I'm thinking that's a look I see way too often on TV. It annoys me, whatever the cause. Horrific.

"In a moment of desperation to get out of the cell, I took the pay phone off the wall and hit myself once across the forehead with it as hard as I could."

"I knew I had to injure myself to get out of the cell and into a hospital, and it was the only solution I could find to get myself out of there.”

The strange story of Calum McSwiggan, the 26-year-old YouTube personality, who's charged with making a false report.
The absence of visible marks on his face when he was booked did not mean his story of being attacked was false, he wrote [on a long Facebook post].... “Being accused of being a liar and being called a disgrace to the LGBT+ community, a community I’ve dedicated my life to, is more painful than any hate crime could ever be,” he wrote.

The Gary Johnson/William Weld alternative.

Headline I completely misread: "Air Wars Favor Clinton."

That's at ABC News, for an item by Michael Falcone that turns out to be about the money spent on advertising. Hillary spent 12 times as much as Trump this month.

I clicked through thinking I was going to read an interesting theory about how the Obama administration's military strategy of keeping drones in the air and boots off the ground would redound to Clinton's benefit.

"Whatever you do, don’t apologize. You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back."

"Remember? He was doing okay ’til he said he was sorry.... Hillary’s called me a ‘xenophobe’ a few times. How many people even know what the word means? Same with ‘nativist.'"

Said Donald Trump.

By the way, how many people know what Jimmy the Greek did way back? I remember that it was something racist-ish. Here, refresh your recollection:

"uh, professor, i think you better hustle over to drudge for a classic drudgetaposition."

Says Kit Carson in the comments to the 8:03 a.m. post. Drudge is featuring the new Rasmussen poll, which I've already blogged about here, but what's Drudgtapositionally interesting is Trump's pointing at a man's naked ass:

That "pulls into" is... cheeky.

Widening the frame, we see — in contrast to Trump's dominant and solitary finger — a mishmash of hands, one of which belongs to Obama:

"VIDEO: '3 Amigos' look like 3 Stooges during botched handshake..."

The intentionality of the the juxtapositioning is proved beyond dispute if we continue down the central column to find another dominant hand:

The big hand of Michael Phelps — 5 fingers for the 5th Olympic qualification.

So we have 2 big dominant hands — each starkly meaningful — bracketing the botched, muddled handsiness...

... of Obama, in Canada, with his globalizing friends Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto.

"After trailing Hillary Clinton by five points for the prior two weeks, Donald Trump has now taken a four-point lead."

"The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds Trump with 43% of the vote, while Clinton earns 39%.... Last week at this time, it was Clinton 44%, Trump 39%."

What happened? Trump's jobs speech on top of Brexit? The newest dollop of terrorism? Or just another fluke in the not-to-be-believed-yet polls?