Showing posts from September, 2019

“An escaped prisoner who had been on the run from police in China for 17 years was finally tracked down by authorities....”

“A police drone spotted a blue piece of steel among the trees in the forest — and came in for a closer look to find garbage and debris around the entrance of a small cave.... Yongshan police officers made the climb to the site and found Jiang — disheveled and struggling to communicate after years of isolation — living in a cave of just over 2 square yards. Jiang later told police he survived by collecting water from a nearby stream and cooking food over small fires....” The New York Post reports.

“The sixth-grade girl at a private Virginia school who accused three classmates last week of forcibly cutting her hair now says the allegations were false...”

“... , according to statements from the girl’s family and the principal at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield. School officials met with the girl and her family Monday morning before releasing the statement. The 12-year-old, who is African American, said three white boy students held her down in a school playground a week ago during recess, covered her mouth, called her insulting names and used scissors to cut her hair. The grandparents of the girl, who are her legal guardians, released an apology Monday....” WaPo reports the least surprising news of the week, and this is why I said from the start that this story should never have been reported, certainly not with the little girl’s name. ADDED: Here’s what I wrote in the comments 2 days ago: I’m blogging this story because I believe there are many adults in the picture here, including the people at the NYT, who are not doing enough to protect this child. Whether the story arose 100% from a real life incident or whether it’s all

“[W]hen I was growing up, the most liberal thing you could do is not see color. Well, that’s wrong now.”

“You see color, always, so you can register your white privilege. But I grew up in the Martin Luther King era: Judge by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. I still think that’s the best way to do it. Not see it.” Said Bill Maher, in a NYT interview, “Bill Maher on the Perils of Political Correctness.” The interviewer pushes him: “But we do see color, and no one is arguing that people shouldn’t be judged by their character. So what problem is being caused by the shift you just described?” He responds: “If someone walks in the room, after a minute, I should not be thinking about color. And I am not. That’s how I have always been. I have actual black friends. I don’t think they want me to be always thinking: Black person. Black person. I’m talking to a black person. Look, I tried to drive a stake through political correctness in the ’90s. I obviously failed dismally. It’s worse than ever.” Actually, that’s not a response to the question asked. He just changed the

“President Trump is trying to hijack this election. We cannot let him get away with it.”

Tweets Joe Biden , rather enigmatically. I don’t know what he means. Do you? I checked and rechecked to make sure this really was Joe Biden’s Twitter account. In fact, I’m going to go check again. Yes, it is. How is Trump trying to hijack this election? If anything is threatening to hijack the election, it’s the Democrats veering suddenly into a high-speed impeachment maneuver, overshadowing the long, drawn-out primary process that is pretty boring but had nevertheless occupied the front pages of the news. Is it that Trump isn’t sitting still for getting impeached but insists on fighting? Who writes Joe’s tweets? Is this actually him babbling and making no sense? That would be comprehensible (at least). Maybe he means that the Ukraine phone call was an underhanded effort to get an advantage in the election and Biden wants us to imagine that Trump is doing other things as well, inviting foreign interference with our election. I’ll go with this theory, but come on, Joe, write tweets we c

“On another frenetic day of political exchanges, Democrats sought to engineer a fast start to their impeachment efforts as their chances of political success hinge on early momentum to keep the White House off balance.”

I’m quoting “Washington at war: Dems aim for speedy impeachment push as Trump threatens whistleblower” (CNN). I see everything needs to be fast, fast, fast for this to work. If another week passes without the whole country getting the cue to go “frenetic,” maybe the Ukraine phone call will fade away like 100 other impeachable offenses attributed to Trump. I’m put off by the pressure for speed. All the time we devote to electing a President and all the work lavished thus far into the next election, and we’re supposed to suddenly stop everything and throw this bum out? Quick! Don’t think! That makes me want to slow down and think quite a bit. And I’m amused by the war metaphor, “Washington at war,” because I was just reading a diatribe in The Washington Post against Trump for quoting some preacher who used the words “civil war” to describe the impending discord over the impeachment. Real war is truly horrible, so what an outrage to use war as a metaphor! And then CNN tosses off the wa

Patti Smith “dressed more masculine … my approach was different. . . . I was playing up the idea of being a very feminine woman...”

“... while fronting a male rock band in a highly macho game. I was saying things in the songs that female singers didn’t really say back then. I wasn’t submissive or begging him to come back. I was kicking his a--, kicking him out, kicking my own a — too. My Blondie character was an inflatable doll but with a dark, provocative, aggressive side. I was playing it up but I was very serious.” Writes Debbie Harry, quoted in  “In her memoir, Debbie Harry gives an unvarnished look at her life in the punk scene” by Sibbie O’Sullivan (WaPo). Also: She also loved drag’s performative qualities, especially its attention to fashion and gesture, two practices Harry perfected while shaping her own image. Drag queens saw Harry’s display of femininity as drag, “a woman playing a man’s idea of a woman.” Harry’s words are more revealing: “I’m not blind and I’m not stupid: I take advantage of my looks and I use them.” The idea of a woman in drag as a woman is useful, but you see that the book reviewer is

“My wife quit watching Fox News as the news was so boring and depressing, too. I see Althouse is also bored.”

Writes Michael K in the comments to “Just another Sunday morning.” Let me be a little annoyingly precise about what you’d see if you really knew me well. First, I am not bored. I’m never bored because I protect myself from intrusions and I continually go in search of what interests me. I have the luxury at this stage in my life to look at what I want, and I write only what gratifies me, which is sometimes to let you know what I don’t want to look at. If I found even that boring, I would not have written “Just another Sunday morning.” As for watching TV news, it’s something I’ve rarely done in life, so it’s nothing for me to be getting tired of now. I read the news. I like to cut and paste and blog. But you can see that I only blog what feels intrinsically rewarding to me. The TV news requires video clips or transcripts, and sometimes I use these, mostly after I read about something. I hate the TV news because it sounds ugly to me, and I truly loathe ugly sound. I used to monitor the Su

“ My biggest fear in leaving my MPD Family as Chief? Who will protect the guardians when they are hurting...”

“... when they are tried in the court(s) of public opinion/Facebook/and the media without fundamental fairness and respect for due process? Who will check in on them when they are hurt or injured (emotionally or physically)? Who will lead the cheers for the birth of a child, a wedding, a retirement? And who will be there for them to grieve the loss of someone special? Who will be unafraid to speak up on their behalf?“ Blogs Mike Koval, retiring as Madison’s Chief of Police .

Just another Sunday morning...

... not much to blog about, not for me, anyway. I’m feeling distanced from the impeachment drama. Too much yelling. Too much histrionics. There’s no way for me to contribute right now, not that interests me. I look for other things, but the news is clogged with Trump. I don’t take well to prods to get excited. We’ll see what happens. Feel free to talk about whatever you like in the comments.

I don’t think anyone is saying “brownface” now.

There’s new video of Justin Trudeau in blackface.

“He’s been forecasting that the ‘deep state’ is out to get him, and there’s a way in which the narrative of the whistleblower can come to confirm all of that for his followers.”

Said historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “an expert on authoritarianism at New York University,” quoted in “Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions” (WaPo).

“The rise of the bowl cut has nothing to do with the hairstyle itself, or the view that it’s somehow a cool or attractive hairstyle to be emulated.”

“In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s precisely the fact that it looks silly that it gained traction as a white supremacist symbol. Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow with ADL’s Center on Extremism, compares [Dylann] Roof’s bowl cut to Hitler’s mustache: an objectively ridiculous-looking, yet distinctive enough feature that it can be easily subject to memeification. Yet the rise of the symbol is inextricably tied to part of a larger effort to canonize Roof within the white supremacist movement. The ADL started seeing white supremacists incorporate the bowl cut into their iconography around 2017, a few years after the Charleston church shooting. Pitcavage says this timing is significant, in large part because in the immediate aftermath of the Charleston shooting, many white supremacists either disavowed Roof or expressed disapproval of his actions — not necessarily for moral reasons, but because they believed violence would attract undue scrutiny to the movement.” From “How a White S

The crowd laughed at the joke that Governor Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him.”

Reported at The Federalist, in “Texas Democrat Forced To Apologize For Saying Gov. Greg Abbott ‘Hates Trees Because One Fell On Him.’” Governor Abbott was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 27 when he was out running on a windy day and a tree fell on him.

How I swam 100 laps today and only 20 yesterday.

Yesterday, I counted laps. 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, the whole length of the pool, and 2, 2, 2, 2, coming back. It was a boring thing to think, and it was nevertheless also hard not to lose track. Today, I used a poem I happen to have already memorized, and I thought one word for the length of the pool and advanced to the next word for the next length and so on. I never lost track of where I was, and I found it very interesting to isolate a single word and roll it over and over in my head as I swam a length. I got many new ideas about the poem and the words of the poem mixed nicely with moving along through the water. Did I get a “workout”? — you might ask, but I don’t, other than to imagine another person pushing me on that score. I’m just looking for pleasurable, stimulating things to do with my mind and body. For that, the one-word-per-lap/memorized poem approach was fantastic! Why had I never thought of this before? I don’t know, but I got snagged by computer problems this morning. It slowed

What did Schumer mean when he threatened Trump about the CIA’s ways to get back at him?

“Did anyone ever ask Sen. Schumer exactly what he meant when he warned Trump that the intel community had ‘Six ways from Sunday’ to get back at him? What made Schumer think that? What ways did he have in mind? Please send article or link if this was asked and answered. Thanks.” Sharyl Attkisson tweeted. [Sorry, I’ve been having some computer problems this morning, and the close quotes and “Sharyl Attkisson tweeted” got cut off. That must have been confusing. The request from more info is from Attkisson, and I’m just glad to see she’s working on that.]

Here is a girl whose name and picture should not be in the newspaper.

I saw this story in a tabloid yesterday and chose not to blog it, because the child should be protected, but now I'm seeing it in the New York Times: "Black Virginia Girl Says White Classmates Cut Her Dreadlocks on Playground/The police said they were investigating a report by 12-year-old Amari Allen that three white students forcibly cut portions of her hair at their Christian school." The girl, Amari Allen, who is in sixth grade, and her family said the assault happened on Monday during recess on the playground of the school, Immanuel Christian School in Springfield. They said the three boys, whom they would not name, had been bullying Amari since the start of the school year in August. “They put me on the ground,” Amari said on Friday in a phone interview. “One of them put my hands behind my back. One put his hands over my mouth. One cut my hair. They were saying that my hair was ugly, that it was nappy.”... Cynthia Allen, who is Amari’s grandmother and legal guardian,

"Trump always fights. He will fight it to the very end. After all he's stood up to, it's bizarre to think he won't stand his ground now."

"He's a showman, into the narrative, and if all his enemies take arms against him, he will know he's the star of this show. He won't slink off like Nixon. And Nixon had his own party turn on him. That hasn't happened to Trump yet, but even if the GOP turned on him, it wouldn't be the same as with Nixon, because the GOP was never really on his side. It just aligned with him when it served its interests. He will be an even more poignantly heroic protagonist if his own party turns on him, and his people will love him to the end." That's something I wrote on Facebook , after someone suggested that the Democrats may be thinking that Trump will, like Nixon, resign.

"That’s why I applaud Mattel’s Creatable World, a new collection of gender-neutral dolls, which allow kids to customize their Barbie and Ken in ways they never could before."

"The dolls come in a variety of skin tones, with extensions so they can have short or long hair and wear contemporary clothing styles that men and women have shared for decades." Writes Hannah Sparks in The New York Post. Does Mattel really call them "gender neutral" dolls? I'm also seeing the term "gender-fluid" in the article. They look like girl dolls to me. Lots of girls have short hair and like to wear jeans and t-shirts. I'm looking at the Mattel website , and the words I'm seeing are the name of the product line, Creatable World, the slogan "Making Doll Play More Inclusive," and this copy: In our world, dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them. Introducing Creatable World™, a doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in—giving kids the freedom to create their own customizable characters again and again. So Mattel is ostensibly against "labels," but the journalists carrying their PR forward

"Write your life in terms of ten cars from your past. Are you inside or outside the car? Where are you sitting? Who else is there? What's to your right and to your left? Where are you going?"

A writing prompt from Lynda Barry, quoted in "UW-Madison profs Lynda Barry and Andrea Dutton win $625,000 MacArthur 'genius' award" (at the subreddit r/Wisconsin).

"It’s very frustrating because this community likes to see itself as very progressive, but look what the fuck is happening with someone in our community."

"That’s why it bothered me so much. This woman, who looks like anyone you could see at a PTA meeting or next to you in yoga class, is out here terrorizing people in CVS." Said Renée Saldaña, a witness to an incident that happened in L.A., described in "Police Are Investigating A White Woman Who Yelled The N-Word And Said She Was Pro-Lynching At A CVS." The woman did not just "yell the n-word." There's a whole long rant, with the n-word used many times. You can watch the video and read the transcript at the link (to Buzzfeed).

"The meditative 'Because' has John, Paul, and George singing every line together. John said he was listening to his wife, Yoko Ono, playing Beethoven's 'Moonlight' Sonata..."

"... asked her to play the chords backwards, and then wrote 'Because' around that. The actual chords to 'Because' aren't the same as the Moonlight Sonata's first movement played backwards or forwards, but you can still feel how the spirit of Beethoven touched Lennon." So writes my son John in a blog post yesterday about "Abbey Road," which came out 50 years ago yesterday. I had just started college, and I remember being surrounded by people who were all so excited about the new Beatles album. I remember listening to the album for the first time with the person who would turn out to be [my son] John's father and it was specifically the song "Because" that we both especially loved the first time we heard it. I even remember the line that seemed most sublime: "Because the world is round/It turns me on." John writes: "Come Together" starts the album on a dark note, with the band sounding united as they play a pr

"Dems hold Trump to double standard – What was OK for Obama isn’t OK for Trump."

Writes Andrew McCarthy (Fox News).

"When a Des Moines Register reporter on Tuesday helped expose racist tweets posted years ago by a local man who used his viral Internet fame to raise millions for a children’s hospital..."

"... it inspired a vicious backlash against 'cancel culture' — and the reporter himself, who critics soon found had his own history of offensive posts. The Register announced late Thursday that the reporter, Aaron Calvin, no longer works for the newspaper.... Critics upset with Calvin for surfacing the old tweets dug into the reporter’s own timeline and found troubling posts that mocked same-sex marriage, made light of abuse against women and used a racial slur. Calvin began deleting the old tweets Tuesday evening and then apologized...." From "Reporter who outed racist tweets by viral fundraiser leaves Des Moines Register after his own offensive posts surface" (WaPo). Cancel, cancel, cancel... it's a dangerous machine. You might want to step back... unless you're sure you never did or said anything bad. I made a tag for "cancel culture." I'd been avoiding it, but this story pushed me over the line. Sorry, I'm not applying this one

"Trump’s getting impeached? I defy you to convince anyone at this cursed truck stop."

Writes Alexandria Petri , who seems to have ventured out of the elite cocoon to talk to some deplorables before condemning them for failing to match her opinion. This account of a perilous journey to the hinterlands appears in The Washington Post. She doesn't state where this truck stop is, so I'm not certain it isn't a satirical fantasy. I'm just reading the headline and glancing at the text, trying to find out exactly where this is, and I'm suspecting "cursed" is a clue that the place is her invention, the truck stop from hell. Now, I'm reading the text. I’ve been interviewing for what I figure is at least an hour — the clock on the wall is broken — and everyone I speak to still supports the president just as much as they did the day he was elected.... Who relies on a wall   clock to know what time it is? That's your first clue. The old man at the end of the counter shakes his head when I tell him the president is beleaguered by scandal. He’s no

In troublesome times, keep your spirits up.


"The agency is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment."

"Based upon data and reports, the agency is concerned that California’s implementation of federal environmental laws is failing to meet its obligations required under delegated federal programs." Wrote EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to California Governor Gavin Newsome, quoted in "EPA tells California it is ‘failing to meet its obligations’ to protect the environment" (WaPo). San Francisco officials reject the idea that they have failed to capture objects such as needles because they send sewage and street runoff to the same pipes. This combined discharge is treated at one of the city’s sewage treatment plants, where pollutants are captured or treated before being released to the San Francisco Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “We have our challenges in San Francisco around homelessness,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s communications director, Jeff Cretan, said in response to Trump’s comments aboard Air Force One. “But in terms of needles flowing into the bay, it’s a

Apple's Emily Dickinson.

It's getting a reaction. This new Dickinson show on Apple TV+ is hilarious for the simple reason that it’s triggering copious amounts of white people into “This isn’t Emily Dickinson!” rants and that makes me wanna watch it more, oddly. Bravo, Tim Apple... — Major K, MBA (@MajorKMusic) September 22, 2019 Me, I'm going to watch it and everything else more oddly.

The art of the paraphrase.

Rep. Schiff re-writes the call transcript for added drama: "I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that, I’m going to put you in touch with people" — Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 26, 2019

"Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!"


The wild clinch.

About last night.... #MKEHistory | #ThisIsMyCrew — Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 26, 2019 ADDED: It’s official now. Dancin’ Ueck is back. — Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) September 26, 2019

The whistleblower complaint is out.

Read it at Vox.

Rest stop.


The transcript is released.

Read it here (at NBC). I haven't read it yet, but I see the line that NBC cherry-picked — presumably the most damning thing — is "I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down, which is really unfair." Here's the mention of Biden (click to enlarge and sharpen): Ah! So what Trump was talking about was the way Biden "stopped the prosecution" and "went around bragging about it." Trump wanted Ukraine to look into Biden's interference with an investigation into Biden’s son. [Correction made: I’d originally written “investigation into Ukraine.” Sorry for the confusion!]

Morning has broken...

The post title is the title of a 1913 Christian hymn sung by Cat Stevens that I often listen to on my morning walk/run. I had to look up the lyrics in the second verse because as Stevens sings it — and I've listened closely, over and over — it sounds like this: Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from Heaven Like the first cue ball on the first grass Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden Sprung in completeness where His feet pass But there can't be a cue ball in Eden!

"Then, as if to match this anachronistic sound, their lyrics were written from the perspective of various characters in distant-past American settings..."

"... Dust Bowl farmers ('King Harvest [Has Surely Come]'), Civil War soldiers ('The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'), Manifest Destiny fulfillers ('Across the Great Divide').... ... The Band is an album about America as written by a Canadian band (with the notable exception of Helm, who was from Arkansas). And it’s within the complications of that dynamic that perhaps The Band’s best song, 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,' lives, wrought with a particular type of humanity and heartbreak that’s increasingly hard to reckon with, given that its foundation lies within the perspective of a Confederate.... These stories weren’t really theirs to begin with -- they were just there to be plucked. And part of what makes it such a compelling, enduring, and difficult artifact of popular music to grapple with is this feeling that it’s a document of the country’s thorny past without being a strict endorsement of it." From "Fifty Years of 'The

The big story of the day is supposed to be the newly "formal" impeachment inquiry, but...

... look at the "promoted" stories that appear in my Twitter feed from The New York Times. There's this old one from last April that the Times has promoted quite a bit over the months (perhaps because of the eye-catching expanse of male torso (which can fool the eye before you directly focus on it (for example, this morning, I thought it might be sweet potatoes)): The findings of a new study that looked at the heart of a swimmer vs. the heart of a runner underscored how sensitive our bodies are to different types of exercise — The New York Times (@nytimes) May 10, 2019 And then there's this new story... but it's about kitty cats: Researchers reported that cats are just as strongly bonded to us as dogs or infants, vindicating cat lovers across the land. “This idea that cats don’t really care about people or respond to them isn’t holding up." — The New York Times (@nytimes) September 25, 2019 I'm sure they know from experience that p

"Mark Normand's Bad-Ass New Orleans Trans Nanny."


"There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have. The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear."

"They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen to another President. Witch Hunt!" Tweets Trump , setting the narrative, in which he is the protagonist. There are different ways to respond to this cue. Just to pick from the tweets displayed directly under Trump's right now, there's : The democrats hate President Trump more than they love this country. They are so emboldened with hate they are blinded. And: President Trump has weathered many storms, and he will continue to ride high on the seas of destiny. He will eliminate the entire government completely, day by day, one by one. He will reign alone, and within the ruins of the demon-scape his truth will be the only sound #MAGA

This morning's sunrise.

Looking west: Looking east:

Is Hillary running?!

From "New Hillary listening tour: ‘I’d like to hear what you're thinking'" (Washington Examiner). In an email to supporters, the 2008 and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said, “I’d like to hear what you’re thinking.”... “I’ve been traveling and talking with folks around the world about their plans for the rest of the year. Some members of this team are doubling down on issues from voting rights to immigration reform, while others are focused on electing Democrats at all levels in 2019 and 2020. Like you, they’re all thinking about how we can best work toward making our country a place where the values we share are front and center — in our policy and in the way we treat each other,” she wrote for her group, “Onward Together.” I said it last May: Yesterday, on Facebook, my son John declared an "Open thread for your predictions on who’ll win the 2020 presidential election. I know it’s too early, but it’s still fun to guess." There were lots of answers

How is it a "formal impeachment inquiry" when it was a "closed-door meeting" of only the Democratic Congress.

I'm trying to understand the terminology, as reported in The Washington Post, in "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry of Trump, says his actions were a ‘betrayal of national security.'" What does "formal" mean? Pelosi made an announcement "after a closed-door meeting with her caucus." Shouldn't formality entail an open proceeding, with participation of all members of the House? It's funny, there's criticism of Trump for withholding things Congress that he did outside of the public ver and for acting for his own political benefit, but they're operating as a single party behind closed doors, and it certainly seems that what they talked about was their own political advantage.

Madison's Vicki McKenna has a run-in with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib — over the meaning of a wink.

Rashida Tlaib: WHY WERE YOU WINKING >"I know Glenn Grothman. He introduced me. He's a friend." Rashida Tlaib: Oh. I thought there was a conspiracy — Harry Khachatrian (@Harry1T6) September 24, 2019 Listen to McKenna's radio show today: "Ms. McKenna goes to Washington." ADDED: If that link to the radio show doesn't work for you, you can go here (later). And here's the coverage at Reason: "Witness Says Vaping Helped Her Quit Smoking. Rashida Tlaib Asks 'Are You a Conspiracy Theorist?'/'Vaping is a health miracle to me,' said ex-smoker Vicki Porter [AKA McKenna]. 'Not safe, but less harmful.'"

"River going to take me, sing sweet and sleepy/Sing me sweet and sleepy all the way back home...."

That's my favorite Grateful Dead song — "Brokedown Palace." Goodbye to Robert Hunter. Robert Hunter... died Monday night. He was 78. No cause of death was provided.... “He died peacefully at home in his bed, surrounded by love. His wife Maureen was by his side holding his hand. For his fans that have loved and supported him all these years, take comfort in knowing that his words are all around us, and in that way his is never truly gone. In this time of grief please celebrate him the way you all know how, by being together and listening to the music. Let there be songs to fill the air.”... Born Robert Burns in California in 1941, Hunter met Garcia in 1961 at a local production of the musical Damn Yankees , where they were introduced by Hunter’s ex-girlfriend, and Garcia’s then-girlfriend, Diane Huntsburger. The two didn’t immediately hit it off, their friendship took root a couple nights later when they saw each other at a local coffeehouse. Just one year apart in age (

"Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to announce on Tuesday that the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Democrats close to her said..."

"... taking decisive action in response to startling allegations that the president sought to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain," the NYT says . After months of caution, Ms. Pelosi has become convinced that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, left the House no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry that has the potential to reshape his presidency and cleave an already divided nation just a year before he plans to stand for re-election... At issue are allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress.... Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the co

"Whaddya mean 'no,' Ben?"

What a man in a United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners t-shirt said to me today.

“That’s a crazy head of hair you’ve got.” I was just walking along a bike/pedestrian trail here in Madison, and he was a stranger who approached from behind and walked past. Take the poll... How I responded... An icy look followed by acting like he didn't exist. “Crazy hair for a crazy head.” “Thanks.” “Go to hell, union thug.” free polls

"Voyeurs have created online communities, where they share and sell work, trade tips and egg one another on toward more and more exploitative photos and videos."

"In the process, victims are often exposed to exponentially more eyeballs.... Schklowsky, who taught drama and directed school plays... stashed at least one small camera in a drama department changing room to capture students as they undressed, police said. Such cameras are part of a generation of devices so small they can be hidden almost anywhere. Voyeurs have also turned to a range of devices embedded with cameras. A Johns Hopkins gynecologist filmed women with cameras in pens and phone chargers. A D.C. rabbi used a clock radio with a hidden camera to shoot women who were undressing for a ritual bath. A thriving online marketplace has even more devices: miniature cameras embedded in sneaker tops, shaving cream cans, electric razors and scales...." From "One accused teacher, 8,000 dirty images: A school’s exploitation shows no place is safe from hidden cameras anymore" (WaPo). By the way, the headline is terrible. There's nothing "dirty" about teena

"Out of nowhere, it's all come together in past 18 games for Brewers."

Headline at the Wisconsin State Journal. The Brewers’ 71-67 record on Sept. 4 left them in third place in the National League Central, 6½ games behind first-place St. Louis and four games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card spot — with two other teams standing in between. On Monday, however, when Brewers players, coaches and fans woke up and checked their local newspapers, the standings told a significantly different story. Milwaukee, thanks to a stunning 15-3 run, began the day in a virtual tie for the NL’s top wild card spot with the Nationals and just three games behind the Cardinals with six games to play. And they did this without their big star Christian Yelich (who fractured his knee cap) and with limited ability to use Mike Moustakas, Keston Hiura, Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun (all of whom are limited by injury). The lesser characters stepped up: Cory Spangenberg, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, and Orlando Arcia. It's a lovely narrative. Just 3 games in Cincinna

Elizabeth Warren doesn't know how to make the news.

I assume the media want to cover Elizabeth Warren and to give her a boost and that she's just not giving them anything. Here's what I saw just now when I used Google news to search her name. It's just various sites re-analyzing the polls (which actually don't show her rising anymore!) and a prompt to switch my attention over to Bernie Sanders (who made the news by with the pithy statement,  "billionaires should not exist" ). Click to enlarge and sharpen: Here's the Real Clear Politics picture of the last 2 weeks in the polls, showing Biden gently rising and Warren sagging after her post-debate rise: And here's one of the stories from my Google news search that manufacture wan Elizabeth Warren "news" out of the polls: "The Latest Iowa Poll Is Good News For Elizabeth Warren And Tulsi Gabbard" (FiveThirtyEight). Yes, there was one poll that was good news for Warren. It was Iowa only (with her at 22% and Biden at 20). I'm writing

"We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine. Everybody knows it. It's just a Democrat witch-hunt. Here we go again."

"They failed with Russia, they failed with recession, they failed with everything, and now they're bringing this up. The one who's got the problem is Biden. Because if you look at what Biden did, Biden did what they would like to have me do — except with one problem. I didn't do it. What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace. His son took money from Ukraine. The son took money from China. A lot of money from China. China would love to see he would —they could think of nothing they'd rather see then Biden get in because they will take this great deal that we are about to make and they would really have themselves a deal for themselves. So let me just tell you--let me just tell you, what Biden did was wrong." ["Mr. President, what did you tell the Ukrainian President about Joe Biden and his son during your phone call?"] "Well, you're going to see because what we are doing is we want honesty. And if we deal with the country, w

Passing some construction workers in Madison, I overheard this fragment of an anecdote.

"... first time I ever saw a pair of titties and I was confused — wondering if I was a little gay or something."

"President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call..."

"... in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had 'concerns' and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.... Trump’s order to withhold aid to Ukraine a week before his July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky is likely to raise questions about the motivation for his decision and fuel suspicions on Capitol Hill that Trump sought to leverage congressionally approved aid to damage a political rival." WaPo reports. Three senior administration officials. One reason I have difficulty taking the cue to feel suspicious that "Trump sought to lever

Trump gets sarcastic, inviting us to think about the mental health of Greta Thunberg.

She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019 He seems lighthearted, in his usual style. He's almost always jolly, whatever's going on. But from Thunberg's perspective, his laughing is evil-villain laughter, and she projects herself into the future, where there are billions of her, hating him and, with him, all of the rest of us current adults who are ruining everything and laughing at a little girl.

At Itsy's Café...

... it's nice to see you again (on the first day of autumn!). (And let me remind you about the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy all sorts of things?)

"If you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion and respect, then you can do any kind of work, in any field..."

"... and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you will ultimately reach your goal." Tweets the Dalai Lama. It is not by chance that this post follows the one below it.

“How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words!"


Trump is very creative at repurposing negativity — I said earlier this morning...

... here ... and now I'm seeing this: This is the real corruption that the Fake News Media refuses to even acknowledge! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2019

Bill Weld stands out in the Trump derangement crowd by saying Trump committed treason and the "only penalty" for treason is death.

Fox News reports. “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election, it couldn’t be clearer. And that’s not just undermining democratic institutions, that is treason," Weld said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "It’s treason pure and simple. And the penalty for treason under the U.S. Code is death. That’s the only penalty.... The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office, and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he could work out a plea deal.... The only penalty for treason is death, it’s spelled out in the statute.” While the U.S. Code does list the death penalty as a punishment for treason, Weld’s claim that it is the only penalty is false. Treason is covered by 18. U.S. Code § 2381, which says that a person guilty of treason “shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any offic

Impeaching Trump now = conceding the 2020 election.

That's my working theory. I don't know if the Democrats in Congress will go so far as to impeach Trump, but I tend to think that if they do, it will be because they think they're going to lose the election and they need another route toward defeating Trump. Of course, if Trump is impeached by the Democrats who have a majority in the House, he will not be removed from office, because the Republicans control the Senate. We'll be subjected to a horrific blend of legal mystification and political advantage seeking. So why would the Democrats predict that it will advantage them? My answer is: because they feel sure they're losing the actual election, the straightforward political fight. The timing is important. They could wait for the actual election, the normal process of American democracy, or — if they think that won't work — they can start delegitimatizing it now, while they think they have a decent shot at making us believe they're doing something righteous

How do you watch "Fleabag"?

I'm seeing "Fleabag" everywhere, the morning after the Emmys. My first question — other than what is it? — is how do you watch it? Because TV isn't like it once was where if something was on TV, duh, you watched it on TV. Something on TV could be in any number of weird places, and if it's something new I have to think about whether I want to subscribe to, I don't know if I want to know anything else. But I googled how do you watch "Fleabag" and I was happy to see it's on Amazon Prime . Okay. What's the show about then? According to Cosmopolitan, "'Fleabag' Fans Are NOT Happy With Ben Stiller For Saying the Show is About a Sex Addict." Sooo... it's a show with fans who can't take a light ribbing? Anyone with access to Google (ever heard of it?) can easily tell you that Fleabag is about "a dry-witted woman, known only as Fleabag, has no filter as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tr

"In the casual opinion of most Americans, I am an old man, and therefore of little account, past my best, fading in a pathetic diminuendo while flashing his AARP card, a gringo in his degringolade."

So begins Paul Theroux, in this NYT excerpt — "Paul Theroux’s Mexican Journey/In his 70s, the writer embarks on one of the great adventures of a traveling life, a solo road trip from Reynosa to Chiapas and back" — from his forthcoming book "On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey." No one has ever before said "degringolade," let alone used "degringolade" in a sentence with "diminuendo." No. Wait. "Degringolade" is a real word, not a sudden coinage based on "gringo." Being a massive fan of his book "The Mosquito Coast," I trust Theroux with language. I see that "degringolade" comes from the French French, "dégringoler," which means "to descend rapidly." It has nothing to do with the word "gringo." Theroux came up with that juxtaposition, quite nicely. A "degringolade" is a rapid descent. George Bernard Shaw used it in 1895 in The Saturday Review: "Mi

"Drudge reads Althouse," says Meade, just now, looking at this:

Meade sings, "He is strong/He is invincible/He is Donald" (to the tune of "I Am Woman), as I click on Drudge's link. It goes to that WaPo article "Trump’s Ukraine call reveals a president convinced of his own invincibility." That's the headline I mocked yesterday — in "WaPo's groping for bad news about Trump stumbles into the double vinc " — for the ham-handed repetition of "vinc" in "con vinc ed... in vinc ibility." Drudge, amusingly, took the "invincibility" that WaPo intended only as an insult to Trump — who supposedly thinks he is invincible — and turned it into a reality — the idea that Trump is invincible. This reminds me of something I've heard Scott Adams say a few times. If we see a word next to a person's name, it gets connected to that person, and it doesn't stay put in the precise meaning it had where we first saw it. The original user of the words can't control them after they

"The foreign strategy of soothing tensions with the United States by stroking President Trump’s ego was put into vivid effect here Sunday..."

"... when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lathered praise on his American counterpart at a massive rally celebrating the Indian diaspora. The leaders of the world’s two largest democracies took the stage together in Houston before a roaring crowd of tens of thousands of Indian Americans, where Modi delivered an unmistakable endorsement of Trump’s presidency and cast their joint appearance in historic terms. 'His name is familiar to every person on the planet,' Modi said as he introduced Trump. 'He was a household name and very popular even before he went on to occupy the highest office in this great country. From CEO to commander in chief. From boardrooms to the Oval Office. From studios to global stage.' The prime minister then repurposed his own campaign slogan in India to rally support for 'my friend' Trump in the United States: ' Abki baar , Trump sarkar ,' meaning, 'This time, a Trump government.'....  Once Trump arrived, live vide

Who are these festive soldiers, pictured at Drudge to represent Iran's preparation for war?

The linked article is "Iran's president warns America to 'stay away' as it unveils long range missiles that could strike US bases" (Yahoo News), and that photo is there, with the caption, "Iranian Turkmen Basij militia members marching during the annual." The annual what, I don't know. But who are the Turkmen in Iran? I look it up. Wikipedia says: Turkmen rulers, successively of the Black Sheep Turkomans and White Sheep Turkomans, ruled much of Persia and surrounding countries before Shah Ismail I defeated them to begin the Safavid dynasty in 1501. Tabriz was their usual capital. There remains a relatively small population identifying as Turkmen in modern Iran. So it makes zero sense for Yahoo to use that photograph for the article, which has nothing about the Turkmen other than that caption. Jesus said "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed." In fact, I was not alarmed. My reaction was to look u

"Respectfully, it's an odd thing to say that Coates's debut is essentially long and shallow, but compare him to some of the most masterful storytellers in the canon."

"I understand it's challenging in this day in age to just say one or the other for fear of being cancelled, but you don't need to bring in Octavia Butler or Toni Morrison in order to do so. None of the sentences highlighted here suggest the tonality of any of the writers you've compared his debut to, either, except for Stephen King — even then, the most comparable thing seems to be pace and plot, not the shape or substance of the novel." That's the top-rated comment at the NYT review of "The Water Dancer," the first novel by the high-profile nonfiction writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. I can see how the unsung fiction-writers of the world can be very easily irked when somebody who's already successful for some other reason suddenly presents himself as a novelist. The review is by Dwight Garner — I don't have a problem with the name Garner — and I was looking at the NYT list of his other reviews and I see he reviewed a novel that I happen to have ju

"Seinfeld is better artistically and infinitely more influential and generally more culturally important than Friends. It is not remotely, however, as binge-friendly. Not even close."

Wrote culture pundit Adam Sternbergh, quoted in "'Seinfeld’ for $500 million? ‘The Big Bang Theory’ for $1 billion? The streaming arms race has a big problem" (WaPo). [Sternbergh] said the distinction was that the show was “innovative and hilarious and brilliantly constructed and spiky" but unlike “Friends” had “no hugging, no learning.” The shows that are most repeatable — if Netflix’s pronouncements are accurate, “Friends” and “The Office” — do have likable characters you mainly just really want to hang out with, almost more than you’re interested in their ultimate fates. (That’s one reason “Big Bang” seems like it might, at least theoretically, fit into this group.) But likeability alone hardly seems enough to give you repeatability.... The top-rated comment over there does what so many highly rated WaPo comments do — makes it about Trump: Bids for the 15 seasons of The Apprentice broke the $1.00 barrier and were zooming to a buck and a quarter the last time I t