September 26, 2016

The big debate.

I'm not going to try to live-blog. I'm just going to watch straight through and see how the whole thing affects me — me, attempting to experience reality like a normal person, not a blogging machine. But please, do comment. Keep up the conversation. I'll join in eventually.

ADDED: Jaltcoh — my son, John Althouse Cohen — is live-blogging. He's good at this. Check it out.

AND: On watching the debate straight through: That was intense. Those 2 faces on the split screen for 90 minutes was quite the ordeal. How many times did Trump lean into the microphone and say "wrong" while Clinton was speaking? There was plenty of interrupting from both candidates, and it almost turned into the event that Trump had proposed: No moderator. Not that Lester Holt didn't attempt to fact-check Trump a few times.

Trump brought a lot of stress to the event, and Clinton certainly stood up to him. She even managed to flash a smile a number of times — even though there was never a thing to smile about (and really no humor whatsoever). Clinton never coughed, and there was no flagging of energy. It was Trump who needed to drink water and wipe the sweat from his upper lip with his finger a few times. Clinton was a bit artificial, but she never got dead and robotic the way we've seen elsewhere.

Substantively, it's mostly a blur now. Trump seemed strong talking about law and order and, later, blaming Clinton for the rise of ISIS. Clinton got very severe accusing Trump of racism early on (over the issue of whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.) and, at the end, sexism (letting fly with a prepared list of misogynistic things Trump supposedly did or said).

Overall, I'll just say that was very unpleasant and I'm glad it's over. I switched it off without stopping to listen to any of the spin.

Who do you think won? free polls

An Althouse blog first — since I don't see anyone else doing it right — a drinking game for the presidential debate.

Trump says "And by the way." 1 sip.

Clinton coughs. 1 sip for each second beyond 1 second.

Lester Holt corrects something Trump says. 1 sip.

Lester Holt corrects something Hillary says. 1 large gulp.

Clinton claims to have been a champion of women and children all her life. 1 sip.

Anyone mentions "the glass ceiling." 1 sip.

Somebody says "basket of deplorables." 1 sip.

Trump says "We have to do it" or "We have no choice." 1 sip.

Anyone says "Still dicking bimbos at home." 1 large glass.

Either candidate refers to the other as a big liar. 1 sip.

Clinton uses her long career in government as a positive factor/Trump disrespects a long career in government. 1 sip.

Trump portrays himself as a newcomer to politics in a positive light/Clinton disrespects newcomer status. 1 sip.

Clinton refers to the times Trump has insulted a woman. 1 sip.

Trump brings up Clinton's efforts to discredit Bill Clinton's women. 1 sip.

Clinton is referred to as "The Bitch America Needs." 1 large gulp.

Anyone gets caught up in the meaning of the concept of being "qualified" to be President. 1 sip.

Any reference to Trump steaks. 1 sip.

Any reference to Skittles. 1 sip.

Any reference to anyone's hair. 1 sip.

Any reference to how much sleep either candidate needs. 1 sip.

An answer begins with "Well" and then a pause. 1 sip.

Trump says his father told him not to attempt to build in Manhattan. 1 sip.

Hillary says her mother worked as a maid. 1 sip.

Either candidate refers to the other's supporters as under-/over-educated. 1 sip.

Hillary calls Trump "Donald." 1 sip.

Trump calls Clinton anything other than "Hillary Clinton" or "Secretary Clinton." 1 sip.

Anyone says "What have you got to lose?" 1 sip.

Hillary delivers a laugh line that you are 100% sure is scripted. 1 sip.

Hillary delivers a laugh line that you are at least 90% sure is spontaneous. 1 gulp.

Someone mentions Arnold Palmer. 1 sip.

Someone mentions the new Museum of African American History and Culture. 1 sip.

Anyone says "Citizens United." 1 sip.

Any reference to Americans as "hard-working." 1 sip.

Any comprehensible explanation of how Hillary will or will not repeal the Second Amendment. 1 sip.

Any mention of dogs or cats. 1 sip.

Any reference to something that will be done on the first day. 1 sip.

Hillary uses one of Trump's characteristic hand gestures (such as the index finger poised on the thumb). 1 sip.

Either candidate — except at the very beginning or end — leaves his/her place behind the lectern and moves into the other person's territory. 2 large gulps.

3 theories on why lower-educated men have so much more leisure time than higher-educated men.

By Derek Thompson, writing in The Atlantic. (The title is so bad: "The Free-Time Paradox in America/The rich were meant to have the most leisure time. The working poor were meant to have the least. The opposite is happening. Why?" I hate the use of the word "meant," and the article is mostly about men who don't work, so "working poor" is bad.)

Theory #1: "The availability of attractive work for poor men (especially black men) is falling, as the availability of cheap entertainment is rising."

Theory #2: "Social forces cultivate a conspicuous industriousness (even workaholism) among affluent college graduates."

Theory #3: "Leisure is getting 'leaky.'" (That is, work leaks into leisure time through our wonderful gadgets.)

Overheard at Meadhouse.

"I see there's a libertarian theme in your blog today."

"Maybe that's what happens if I sleep until 8. I wake up libertarian."

The right to refuse to make a racist cake...

... and to form your own opinion about what constitutes racism....

... and to apologize if commercial interests indicate you made the wrong call.

"I think it's fine to have a free market where the debate is on many channels and one of them has on-screen fact-checking."

"I'd like one of them to be like 'Mystery Science Theater' or 'Beavis and Butthead.' Another could be 'Bad Lip Reading.' Let the people decide what they'd like to watch."

"Weed marketers have managed to corrupt the language and sell this as 'recreational' use, as if getting high was akin to hiking, tennis or soccer."

"You sip booze, you’re a social drinker or — if a gulper — a drunk. Puff on cigarettes, you’re a smoker. You’re never a recreationist."

Writes George Skelton in an L.A. Times piece with the headline "The problems with rushing to legalize marijuana for stoner use in California." He's trying to shape opinion against Proposition 64, which would "legalize marijuana use for anyone 21 and older." Skelton is being pedantic about language, but he doesn't notice the problem with saying "legalize" when marijuana trade and possession remain a crime under federal law.

Skelton thinks the word "stoner" should be used to refer to all marijuana use that is not "medical." He seems to think that "stoner" corresponds to drinker (for alcohol) and smoker (for tobacco smoking) and that "recreational" is an inappropriate euphemism. But "recreational" was only needed to distinguish "medical," and "medical marijuana" is the real scam — politically useful to get nice people to go along with halfway legalization and politically perverse in that it invites people who halfway care about law to cheat their way into access. Only the completely honest sticklers for truth and law are left on the outside.

Skelton wants the more negative word — "stoner" — but I think that "recreational" is too negative. It suggests that an individual's use of a mind-altering drug is — if not to treat a physiological ailment — just for fun. But drugs like marijuana can be used — non-medically — to heighten aesthetic awareness (to appreciate music and art), to open up a religious experience, to improve sexual relationships, and to alter routine thinking patterns — perhaps enhancing one's ability to see the repression inherent in laws that bar us from choosing what we do with our minds and bodies.

You need some human flesh on those bones, Skelton.

AND: If you didn't laugh at that last line, maybe you would if you had used some marijuana.

"That I am totally devoid of sympathy for, or interest in, the world of groups is directly attributable to the fact that my two greatest needs and desires — smoking cigarettes and plotting revenge — are basically solitary pursuits."

"Oh, sure, sometimes a friend or two drops by and we light up together and occasionally I bounce a few vengeance ideas around with a willing companion, but actual meetings are really unnecessary."

One of 25 quotes from famous women about being alone. There are a lot of interesting quotes over there. I just picked the one that jumped out at me and needily insisted on being my friend. It's from Fran Lebowitz.

"Facts are simple and facts are straight/Facts are lazy and facts are late/Facts all come with points of view/Facts don't do what I want them to..."

"... Facts just twist the truth around/Facts are living turned inside out/Facts are getting the best of them/Facts are nothing on the face of things."

Lyrics from "Crosseyed and Painless" by Talking Heads, presented as a comment at New York Magazine on a long, tendentious piece titled "How Will Voters Separate Fact From Fiction at the Debates?"

"Facts don't stain the furniture/Facts go out and slam the door/Facts are written all over your face/Facts continue to change their shape/I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting... I'm still waiting...I'm still waiting..."

"The Great Wall has been rebuilt as a small road which is too horrible to look at."

"Its cultural value has been seriously sabotaged. This is not a restoration, it has been seriously ruined."

Have you seen the photographs of how China is preserving the Great Wall by pouring concrete all over the top of it, obliterating its distinctive features?

"Everyone (at least in certain high-profile or professional circles) is doing it, and very few are confessing..."

"... a fact that in some ways is more disturbing than the surge in the surgeries themselves. Because not only are we nipping, suctioning and using hormones, but we’re also feeling embarrassed about it, and lying. Neither of which was really the point of women’s liberation."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Aging and My Beauty Dilemma," by Debora L. Spar, who is the president of Barnard College. The essay is adapted from one of the essays in a new book, "The Bitch Is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier," which says, on its back cover, "Having aged into their forties, fifties, and sixties, these 'bitches'—bestselling authors, renowned journalists, and other extraordinary yet also ordinary women — have brilliant and bold things to say."

Is "too risky" a good argument against Trump?

Consider this colloquy from yesterday's "Face the Nation":
JOHN DICKERSON: In advance of the debates, the Clinton team is pushing the idea that Donald Trump is too risky to be president. You had some interesting finding there about this idea of risk and Donald Trump. Explain that.

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Right. Well, both candidates, to some extent, are described as risky among a number of other descriptions that voters use. Trump, in particular, but you notice even his voters say that he is risky. Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for them. And the reason is, they want change. They want change -- political change and cultural change and economic change, so they’re willing to tolerate some risk in order to get the change that they want.

But The Washington Post is saying — on the day of the debate — "It's beyond debate that Donald Trump is unfit to be president."

At FiveThirtyEight:

At Real Clear Politics:

The Washington Post and The New York Times just came out with their big editorials, but did anyone who's for Trump or seriously considering Trump even read that material? It was already understood that elite media regard Trump as not just way worse than Hillary but not even in the same category. Trump — they've told us for over a year —isn't qualified. He's not even normal.

But after media's drumming all of that into our head, Trump is still around, and he's practically even with Hillary. He's inching up day by day. Jumping up today. And that's before Trump does the kind of ad spending that Hillary has been doing all along.
Donald Trump's campaign is planning for what it says will amount to $140 million worth of advertising from now until Election Day....
The plan represents a new approach for the billionaire businessman, who has repeatedly bragged in recent weeks about how much less he's spent than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and seemed to rely heavily on free media coverage of his large rallies.
And the Trump rallies continue — tomorrow in Florida, the next day in Wisconsin — with all the attendant word of mouth. But Hillary is doing rallies too. Her campaign schedule has her in North Carolina tomorrow, New Hampshire (with Bernie Sanders) on Wednesday, and Florida on Thursday. Her campaign must know that elite media cannot carry her, no matter how hard they try — and that trying so hard has been destructive to the power of elite media.

But there's always the debate. We've been told to believe that Trump doesn't even deserve to stand on the stage alongside her and that she can somehow simply talk and look like the only real candidate and he'll somehow be revealed as the devil he is. But look at those polls. How did that man get where you can clearly see he is? She's the one who's supposed to be so well-grounded in reality, and it's undeniable real that he's right up there next to her.

September 25, 2016

Flowers in the sewer — the misogyny of the disgust for Bill Clinton's lover.

On "Meet the Press" today, Chuck Todd was interviewing Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta:
CHUCK TODD: Is your goal of this debate is to get under his skin? Is that why you gave Mark Cuban a ticket right in the front row?

JOHN PODESTA: No, I think Mark Cuban is one of the business leaders who was never involved in partisan politics who's endorsed Hillary because he thinks she'll do better for the-- for the economy. I think that, you know, you saw his reaction, which is to do his favorite sport, which is to dive in the sewer and go for a swim.
Trump's reaction, you remember, was "Perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" Now, I have a feminist problem with Trump's remark, one that I haven't seen anyone else notice, and that is the idea that he can "put" the woman where he likes. Flowers is a person, not an object — like a vase of flowers — but Flowers has already responded positively to the notion of getting placed in front of Hillary.*

So let me move on to the feminist problem I have with what Podesta said. He says the name, Mark Cuban, and vaunts him as a business leader who is above politics, but he won't say the name of the woman and he speaks of her as a creature of the sewer.

Todd pushes him: "You said-- you referred to diving into the sewer, so you believe that inviting Gennifer Flowers is diving into the sewer?" And Podesta has the smarts to resist further disrespecting the woman. But later, there's a panel, and one of the participants is Stephanie Cutter (who was Obama's deputy campaign manager in 2012 and who helped John Kerry prepare for debates in 2004). Todd asks her about "the idea of gamesmanship, which is the Clinton Campaign deciding to put Mark Cuban in the front row," and the response had me shouting at the TV:
STEPHANIE CUTTER: ... What Clinton and Trump are doing are trying to throw each other off their game. The difference is Hillary Clinton is doing it with a legitimate businessman, also, a celebrity. And as John Podesta put it earlier on your show, Trump is just jumping right down in the sewer and swimming in it by inviting Gennifer Flowers.
The man is "legitimate," and the woman is a "sewer."

Chuck Todd turned to another panelist, Steve Schmidt (a senior adviser to John McCain in 2008).
STEVE SCHMIDT: [The tactic of inviting Cuban] was clearly designed to provoke Donald Trump and it provoked Donald Trump, it provoked Donald Trump into going down the Gennifer Flowers rabbit hole....
The Gennifer Flowers rabbit hole?! Don't call a woman a "hole." Don't speak of a human being as a lower animal, a rodent. Whatever these people want to say about Trump, they should say it about Trump, but they instinctively jumped to express disgust toward the woman — who's really just a bystander to the pre-debate mind-games. Is this misogyny? The argument that it is not depends on the idea that the disgust is with sexuality — what happens when the man and the woman — Bill and Gennifer — get together and not with the woman herself. But the instinct — in both Podesta and Cutter — was to take the man out of the picture. Bill, like Mark Cuban, is legitimate. That horrible woman over there should be treated as a nonentity — down in a hole, there in the excrement, a rodent, a filthy pest. Anyone who would name her or treat her with equal dignity has himself fallen down into the sewer with her — "swimming in it," swimming in shit.

Being on the side of the female candidate does not absolve you of misogyny. It blinds you to it. 

* The full tweet is: "If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" You can see that Cuban's autonomy is respected in the word "wants." What does Cuban want to do? By contrast, Flowers can be put where Trump wants.

"The suspect is Arcan Cetin, born in Turkey. Who the hell tried to spin the whole Hispanic narrative?"

Who indeed?

Robby Mook pushes the theory that it would be "unfair" to Hillary Clinton for the debate moderator not to intervene on her behalf and correct Trump.

On "This Week" this morning:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You guys have been pushing that pretty hard, this idea of a double standard, and saying it’s up to the moderator to point out falsehoods. But the debate commission has been pretty clear that they think it’s the job of the moderator basically to get out of the way and just ask the questions.

MOOK: Well, all that -- again, all that we’re asking is that, if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out. It’s unfair to ask for Hillary both to play traffic cop while with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people.
Stephanopoulos pushes back. Debate moderators are supposed to let the candidates debate each other. Mook's response is that Donald Trump is "special," and "this is a special circumstance, a special debate," and Hillary won't be getting her fair share of the time if she has to use it to correct Donald Trump.

Stephanopoulos also asks Mook about the "psychological warfare" of talking about inviting Mark Cuban and getting the return fire of Trump saying he'll "put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him" (and Flowers accepting). Mook tries to act as though Trump started it:
If this is what Donald Trump wants this debate to be about, that’s up to him. He is a reality TV star. He’s very experienced at providing television entertainment. The presidency is not about entertainment. It's about serious decisions...
Trump followed their lead.  Trump said it best back in May:
If she wants to go the low road, I'm fine with that. And if she wants to go the high road, which probably I would prefer, I would be fine with that.... I can handle the low road if I have to do it. I mean, we've had some low roads over the last few months.... I'm fine with it if we have to go that direction. Maybe you haven't noticed.
ADDED: Ironically, the argument that Trump is "special" is really an argument that Hillary is special: The rules don't apply to her. That fits a template her people should want to take care not to confirm.

"Gaming out every potential permutation of what might happen in the 90-minute showdown helps a candidate calculate how to respond."


Then why didn't Mitt Romney know what to do when Candy Crowley propped up Barack Obama with the infamous "transcript" remark?

Just when you think you've got everything "gamed out," there's one more game, the one you didn't imagine. But even if you could know "every potential permutation" and you could figure out the ideal reaction to each one — which is obviously impossible — could you memorize all those things and in the heat of the moment call to mind the correct one each time and deploy it? Wouldn't you look weirdly robotic cranking through all the alternatives? It's hard enough to read a prepared speech off the teleprompter in a naturally human way. And there's already a meme that Hillary is a robot. More here.

The ideal response would have to take into account how the people respond on an emotional level. There's no perfect scripted zinger for that. There's no planned facial expression or hand gesture. We the People are very sensitive to what we see and hear. We feel that we feel whether a person is good and true. We are manipulable and we can be faked out, but I think we are more likely to be manipulated and faked out by Trump's I'm-being-myself approach than by Hillary's gigantic team gaming out every potential permutation of what might happen.

What about me?

"Remember me? I’m the one your husband raped and you threatened. I’m still here telling the truth and you are a liar."

"The woman, a business owner in the restaurant industry, told police that about 4 a.m. she and a male housemate heard a possible intruder..."

"... so she pulled a handgun and went to search the home, police said in a statement. Police said she saw three men — who were armed — walking through the front door during what police think was an attempted robbery. She fired multiple rounds, police said, striking 28-year-old Antonio Leeks, who died of his injuries."

1. I've long been fascinated by names that can read as sentences — ever since I met a man with the last name Peed. It's terrible when you've got a name like that and you suffer a misfortune that makes that sentence sound especially meaningful.

2. How many heterosexual couples sleep in bed together with the plan that if they wake up to the sound of intruders, it's the woman who's going to jump up and go looking for a confrontation?

3. I hope lots of would-be intruders encounter this viral video and factor that into their calculation whether it's worth it to break into somebody's house at night.

4. But from the looks of that video, I kind of doubt whether that was a run-of-the-mill burglary.

D.C. hotels keep using a photograph of the Wisconsin Capitol to illustrate their (supposedly) beautiful city.

The George Washington University Inn, Avenue Suites Georgetown,  One Washington Circle Hotel, a Holiday Inn in Hyattsville, and the Navy Yard Hampton Inn and Suites are all using a gorgeous photograph of the Capitol on the Square here on the isthmus of Madison, Wisconsin.