October 17, 2017

Lawrence Lessig tells us the 5-step procedure for getting Hillary to be President, and none of the steps are "????"

But you probably already know what these steps are. They're just so unlikely that they're obviously not going to happen:
If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.

If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.

If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.

If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.
I'm quoting the paraphrasing at Newsweek, by Julia Glum. I don't like the wording at #1, "If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia...." That makes it sound as though he's already been found to have colluded with Russia (just not "definitively" or "directly").

And I hate the jocose use of the term "Mother Russia." I know that female personification of the country exists in Russian history — originally in an anti-Bolshevik context...



Glum's use of the phrase feels like some stray sexist taunting — as if Trump and Pence are mama's boys.

Here's the Lessig original, at Medium. It doesn't have the wording that bothers me. Step 1 is:
What if there were a conspiracy?

This “if” has got to be specified very precisely. The question is not whether Trump obstructed justice, or is guilty of tax evasion, or has violated the Emoluments Clause or done any other act justifying impeachment. The “if” here is quite specific: It relates explicitly to the validity of the election. The question I’m asking here is what should happen if Trump conspired with a foreign government to get elected?
Lessig doesn't even say "colluded with." He says "conspired with." Step 1 is a huge "if," and Lessig isn't implying (as I read this) that we're already part of the way toward finding a conspiracy. I'd say that so much time and effort have been put into looking for collusion/conspiracy that we're pretty far along toward saying definitively that there wasn't one.

But I think something else is missing here, something that is key toward establishing points #3 and #5. Was the participation of Russia what caused Hillary Clinton to fall as short as she did in the Electoral College? If only Trump conspired, but Trump won because of his open message to the voters and Hillary Clinton's shortcomings, then we're missing a causation element that would be needed to reject Pence and Ryan and to persuade Ryan that the "right thing" would be to give the presidency to Hillary. Lessig says:
By hypothesis, we’re assuming the office was effectively stolen from the legitimate winner by a criminal and treasonous act of the (previous) leader of Ryan’s own party.
No. Even if we knew that Trump conspired with Russia to get Russia to do some things like spread disinformation in social media, we wouldn't know that without that, Hillary would have won.

I don't think the things Russia is said to have done were enough to shift the Electoral College victory from Hillary to Trump. So, let's say Step 1 is satisfied. Okay: Impeach Trump. But unless you can establish that without that conspiracy, the people would have elected Hillary, you haven't shown why the people aren't entitled to have Pence as their President, and you haven't shown why Ryan would step down and why he would bring in the defeated candidate from the other party.

I know it's hard for Lessig and many others to believe that the people preferred Trump — the man and his policies — to Hillary Clinton — the woman and her policies — but that's what I think happened, and it would be very hard to make me believe that something the Russians did tipped that preference.

Professor Lessig, you need a causation element. 

When Courtney Love was asked, in 2005, "Do you have any advice for a young girl moving to Hollywood?"

She said "I’ll get libeled if I say it. If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go."



Via TMZ.

(By "I’ll get libeled if I say it," she meant "I'll get sued for libel if I say it," and really, "libel" is the wrong word. It should be "slander" or "defamation.")

ADDED: Also at TMZ:
Our Weinstein sources say he knows he's "momentarily toxic" but thinks with a little time, writers and actors will seek him out again because of his track record. He believes -- and probably rightly so -- that TWC exists because of him. He believes he can go back and produce movies, or he can just as easily do it somewhere else.
"Momentarily toxic." What a phrase! But O.J. Simpson has been seen chatting up women in a Las Vegas bar, so maybe cleansing toxins is a thing that happens in America.

ALSO: I wonder what calculations went through Ms. Love's head as paused. She began with a long "Umm" (an umm that I hear as knowing and sarcastic, not as slow-thinking or hesitant). She makes a show of looking over at a companion or adviser (which I see as performance). It's meant to focus the listener's attention, as is the next line: "I’ll get libeled if I say it." We're really ready to hear it now. Then, very quick, conveying the sense of urgency, danger, and being let in on a secret, she says: "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go."

Now, what if Love had been sued for libel? First, why would Weinstein sue? He'd be opening the door to discovery about his modus operandi, which had been going on for over a decade at that point. The shit would have hit the fan 12 years before it did. And he would have lost the case for sure. Courtney's line doesn't state a fact about him. She's just advising actresses on what to do IF there's an invitation, and she doesn't say why the actress should not go. Plus, Harvey Weinstein was a public figure and would have had a high burden of proof.

So I wish Weinstein had sued Love because — and maybe at the time Love realized this at the time — the lawsuit would have advanced an important cause. Love has $100+ million and could afford great lawyers. And she'd have been a big feminist hero.

IN THE COMMENTS:Virgil Hilts said:
As a lawyer who dislikes almost all lawyers (the profession where the 98% who are bad apples make the other 2% look bad) I'm upset more lawyers are not being crucified in connection with this. If Weinstein enterprise was like a mafia whose goal was not so much to make $ as to allow HW to assault hundreds of women with impunity, then the attorneys here were the hit men. Its one thing to defend a client who screws up once or twice (say, like OJ!). It's another thing to become the legal oppression grease that makes a young-woman rape machine continue to run like a well-oiled machine over 20-30 years. Any attorneys who helped HW more than twice were complicit IMHO and shouldn't be getting a pass. But they have.

"Individual pours will be sold for $55 each, in timed, ticketed experiences in Klatch’s private tasting room."

Individual pours of coffee.

"Some 130 million years ago, in another galaxy, two neutron stars... produced gravitational waves... a brief flash of light a million trillion times as bright as the sun..."

"... and then a hot cloud of radioactive debris. The afterglow hung for several days, shifting from bright blue to dull red as the ejected material cooled in the emptiness of space. Astronomers detected the aftermath of the merger on Earth on August 17... Using infrared telescopes, astronomers studied the spectra—the chemical composition of cosmic objects—of the collision and found that the plume ejected by the merger contained a host of newly formed heavy chemical elements, including gold, silver, platinum, and others. Scientists estimate the amount of cosmic bling totals about 10,000 Earth-masses of heavy elements."

From "The Plume of Gold Ejected by a Cosmic Collision" (The Atlantic).

"57 Things I Need You to Stop Doing to the Women You Work With/I'm begging you: Don't be a creep at work."

I was going to say, that headline, if it wants to meet its own high standards, seems wrong because it assumes the reader is a man (and a heterosexual man at that), and I was going to say that's all right because it's in Esquire.

But now, I'm thinking the "you" works on women and nonheterosexual men. You shouldn't do these things to women in the workplace.

And you shouldn't do equivalent things to men in the workplace.

So I'm just going to take issue with the last sentence: "And if she wants to fuck you, she will tell you."

October 16, 2017

A-ha... the same song, in 2017, without the familiar video.



Lovely.

"For the first time since gruesome accounts of the systematic detention and torture of gay men began leaking out of Russia’s republic of Chechnya..."

"... a young man has gone public with his story," WaPo reports.
Maxim Lapunov, 30, told reporters on Monday that he was demanding justice from the Russian government for the 12 days he spent locked in a blood-soaked jail cell, led out daily with a plastic bag over his head to be beaten by police officers demanding he confess to being gay...

Lapunov, who is ethnically Russian, is the first person to make a formal complaint to Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee challenging a government narrative that the “gay pogrom” in Chechnya never existed because no victims have come forward....

Kadyrov, the powerful head of Chechnya, was installed by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in 2007 with wide-reaching powers to suppress a militant insurgency in the region. He has built a powerful cult of personality and championed conservative values in the mostly Muslim region.

“If there are any [gays], take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them,” he told HBO in a televised interview in July.

"The sun went bang, with smithereens of birds bursting in all directions."

Wrote D.H. Lawrence in "Mornings in Mexico" (1927).

Whence this word "smithereens"? It's smithers, with an Irish diminutive ending, but the OED can't figure out where "smithers" came from.

I had never noticed the word "smithers" before, but Charles Dickens used it in "Our Mutual Friend" (1865): "The old lady nearly blowed us into shivers and smithers, many times."

"Smithers" does work as a last name. There's Mr. Smithers on "The Simpsons," and Dickens has a Miss Smithers in "The Pickwick Papers," but why would you throw an Irish diminutive ending on that name and use it to mean small fragments? The OED doesn't make the obvious move of connecting it to "smith" and I don't know enough about smithing to have any idea if small fragments are created (other than that I'm seeing photos of blacksmiths who are not wearing eye protections).

"Smithereens" was the name of a 1982 movie about a young woman from New Jersey getting into the NYC punk rock scene. It was the first film by Susan Seidelman, who went on to make "Desperately Seeking Susan."

Also in the early 80s were The Smithereens, a rock band from New Jersey. What was it about New Jersey and smithereens back then?



I'm thinking (remembering?) that feeling fragmented was arty and cool in that time and place.

According to Wikipedia, "The band's name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, 'Varmint, I'm a-gonna blow you to smithereens!'"

There's a town in British Columbia called Smithers, named after some railroad guy was named Smithers, and it seems to be the case that townsfolk prefer to be called Smithereens, rather than the less snazzy Smitherite.

"I think there's a lack of information out there about rope jumping..."

"... anyone who watches these jumping videos, please please don't try it on your own!"

ADDED: That video was shot in Yosemite National Park. Right after reading that, I saw this piece about a couple dying in Joshua Tree National Park:
Two bodies have been found in Joshua Tree National Park, locked in an embrace, nearly three months after a southern California couple vanished while hiking nearby....

Orbeso and Nguyen's car, a burgundy Lexus, was discovered near the Maze Loop, in the northwest area of the park, and footprints were seen leading away from it. 'The way the tracks were picked up indicate these people could be walking in circles, which is not uncommon when people are lost,' George Land, a spokesman for Joshua Tree National Park, told the Orange County Register.

Temperatures in the park had topped 100 degrees and it was unclear whether the couple had water and supplies with them. Land said the couple did not appear to be experienced hikers.

"Lars von Trier Denies Bjork’s Sexual Harassment Allegations."

Variety reports.
“It was extremely clear to me when I walked into the actresses profession (sic) that my humiliation and role as a lesser sexually harassed being was the norm and set in stone with the director and a staff of dozens who enabled it and encouraged it,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “When I turned the director down repeatedly, he sulked and punished me and created for his team an impressive net of illusion where I was framed as the difficult one. Because of my strength, my great team, and because I had nothing to loose (sic) having no ambitions in the acting world, I walked away from it and recovered in a years time.... the director was fully aware of this game and I am sure of that (sic) the film he made after was based on his experiences with me. Because I was the first one that stood up to him and didn’t let him get away with it.”
The film von Trier made with Bjork was "Dancer in the Dark." The next one — which Bjork believes was based on Von Trier's experiences with her — was was "Dogville." I saw the harrowing "Dancer in the Dark," because I'd been led to believe it was a significant work of art. I avoided "Dogville" however. The description in Variety is enough to remind me why: "Nicole Kidman’s character was repeatedly raped after being accused of betraying the townspeople of a small American village."

"One deputy's rescue efforts late Sunday night and early Monday morning in the Mark West area during the Tubbs Fire."



Sonoma Sheriff Robert Giordano said: "I think it really tells the story of how dangerous and how difficult the event was. It’s absolutely human and it’s very real and very honest and transparent."

Trump in the Rose Garden.

Live now (and you can scroll back to the beginning):



ADDED: "Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope! Hillary, please, run again!"

Reading Hillary's book, Part 2: "wax."

As you may remember from Part 1, I am not reading Hillary Clinton's  book ("What Happened"). I put it into our Kindle because Meade wanted to do some proto-blogging. That's my term for his reading and searching and talking to me and sending me links. That sometimes gets me to things I want to blog, and that's what we're doing with this book.

For Part 2 in the "Reading Hillary's book" series, my note for getting to the material I want to talk about is "wax." Beginning at page 5, Hillary writes about what I would call her friendship with Donald Trump. As you can see she denies that she was ever friends with him, even though she and her husband, former President of the United States Bill Clinton, attended Trump's wedding:
I had known Donald Trump for years, but never imagined he’d be standing on the steps of the Capitol taking the oath of office as President of the United States. He was a fixture of the New York scene when I was a Senator—like a lot of big-shot real estate guys in the city, only more flamboyant and self-promoting. 
I think she should mention that Trump was a big donor to Democrats. Wasn't that the relevant "scene"? 
In 2005, he invited us to his wedding to Melania in Palm Beach, Florida. We weren’t friends, so I assumed he wanted as much star power as he could get. Bill happened to be speaking in the area that weekend, so we decided to go. Why not? I thought it would be a fun, gaudy, over-the-top spectacle, and I was right. I attended the ceremony, then met Bill for the reception at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. We had our photo taken with the bride and groom and left.
She makes it sound as though she's all about having "fun," but then why get your photograph taken and then bug out? If you came to the big lavish party for fun, wouldn't you have wanted to eat the food and dance to the music and so forth? You just had your photo taken with the couple and left? That sounds kind of mean and rude. Why are you saying it like that? It seems as though you just want to elbow us into believing that you were never friends and assume we won't be thinking that this is a game of extracting money from a rich guy by making him think he was your friend.
The next year, Trump joined other prominent New Yorkers in a video spoof prepared for the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner in Albany, which is the state version of the more famous White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The idea was that the wax figure of me at the Madame Tussauds museum in Times Square had been stolen, so I had to stand in and pretend to be a statue while various famous people walked by and said things to me. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said I was doing a great job as Senator—then joked about running for President in 2008 as a self-funder. When Trump appeared, he said, “You look really great. Unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. The hair is magnificent. The face is beautiful. You know, I really think you’d make a great President. Nobody could come close.” The camera pulled back to reveal he wasn’t talking to me after all but to his own wax statue. It was funny at the time.
It's actually pretty funny now. And Trump was gamely self-deprecating (while also, until the punchline is revealed, gushing compliments at her). Maybe he only did that to get attention, but I think it shows that they had a friendly relationship. She goes into no detail denying that they were friends. Trump's making a joke at the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner immediately becomes segue to: "When Trump declared his candidacy for real in 2015, I thought it was another joke, like a lot of people did." And the book is off into a discussion of Trump's political rise.

But I want to stop at the comic sketch that has Hillary playing the part of her own wax dummy. It's an old comedy idea, documented at TV Tropes. It's a subcategory of a trope called "Paper-Thin Disguise":
A character that the other characters should recognize (or at least recognize as out of place) dons a disguise and is treated as neither recognizable nor conspicuous. This disguise is so completely transparent that the audience wants to shout "For the love of God, it's him!"...

While not a Dead Horse Trope, these days Paper Thin Disguises are parodied as often as they are used seriously. The trope is still an important dramatic convention in live theater and opera productions — where a really good disguise would render the character unidentifiable from the cheap seats, and be beyond the scope of the prop budget to boot — but is usually employed along with some kind of nod to audience acknowledging the absurdity. This can sometimes be exaggerated for comedic effect, for example wearing bunny ears and becoming indistinguishable from a real rabbit, or pretending to be an ancient statue by simply standing still in a specific pose. Children's shows still employ this trope regularly without any parody element.
The link on "standing still in a specific pose" goes to "Nobody Here but Us Statues":
Alice tries to hide from Bob, so she pretends to be a statue (or, in more cartoonish settings, even a painting or a relief) in a museum, art gallery etc. Sometimes she has to Walk Like an Egyptian to fit in, or get in a suit of armour, or end up holding an empty picture frame in front of herself. Bob typically doesn't catch on, though he looks at Alice suspiciously (bonus points if he says "I'll never understand this modern art" or "What an ugly statue!").
In the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner sketch, Hillary didn't pretend to be a wax statue of herself to hide. Rather, the set-up had her enlisted to cover up the problem that the real wax figure had been stolen. It's a nice sketch and it was funny — I can tell even from reading the leaden waxen prose — because Trump was funny. He was funny in part because he made fun of himself, and Hillary didn't have to do anything except stand there. She didn't have to stand still for any jokes at her expense. Nobody said "What an ugly statue!" or anything like that but Trump allowed himself to seem like a ridiculous narcissist for saying "I really think you’d make a great President. Nobody could come close."

They all laughed...



ADDED: The first comment on this post, from sodal ye, is: "Hillary just broke a toe in the UK." I do a quick search and get to The Daily Mail and the headline begins: "I was running downstairs in heels with a cup of coffee and fell backwards!" I sincerely hope she's feeling better, but I've got to say that strikes me as really freaky — falling backwards in high heels — just after I've made a big leap from Hillary Clinton to Ginger Rogers, whose most famous quote is that she did everything that Fred Astaire did but "backwards and in high heels."

And I've already written about "backwards and in high heels" — and it was in a post that began by being about Hillary Clinton and then leaped into Ginger Rogers. It was September 4, 2016 and people were questioning whether Hillary was doing enough when her favorability rating had dropped as low as Donald Trump's. ABC News chief political analyst Matthew Dowd said:
[Hillary] is judged -- she is judged a little bit, I have to say, all of the controversy surrounding her and they're both -- Donald Trump and her, she's judged a little bit on a Ginger Rogers standard, which is, is that the bar is so low for him. I mean, Ginger Rogers, the famous like she did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in heels.
I said: "Suddenly, Trump is the Fred Astaire, judged by an easier standard when what his opponent/partner is doing is actually harder?"

There's more good stuff at that old post, including the debunking of the idea that Ginger Rogers is the source of the quote, the Ann Richards use of the quote, and Trump on "SNL" dancing like Fred Astaire Drake.

"There's something wrong with Hillary Clinton. It is not just her constant lying. It is not just that she throws off menacing glares..."

"... and seethes thwarted entitlement. Watch closely. Something much darker rides along with it. A cold creepiness rarely seen."

Tweets Julian Assange
after taking this hit from Clinton:

"Footage shows Trump squeezing and kissing a woman while talking about offering a job to a 'beautiful' teenager."

"Getting named to Salon’s list of The 25 Conservatives Actually Worth Following On Twitter is either a grievous insult or..."

"... a certification that you suck. Salon is saying that you’re not a carrier of a hardcore conservative contagion, and that the liberal establishment doesn’t need to worry. At best, Salon thinks you’re no threat. At worst, it considers you a fellow traveler. And some of these selectees really are straight-up Fredocons... The simple fact is that Salon’s list, the mainstream media panels, and the editorial pages don’t want straight-up conservatives... Basically, it’s all part of a campaign to construct a safe space for triggered libs, but their ostrich strategy won’t help them.... About half of America likes what Trump is doing, and if you only read Salon or the NYT or WaPo, or watch only MSNBC or CNN, you have absolutely no clue why. That’s okay with us. We’re always pointing out how, 'That’s why you got Trump,' but they never listen.... So when Trump is re-elected in 2020, their shock and dismay will be that much sweeter."

Writes Kurt Schlichter are Townhall.

"Saturday Night Live" had a sketch designed to address the Harvey Weinstein story that was so obviously avoided the week before:

Here:



That's Leslie Jones as Viola Davis, Cecily Strong as Marion Cotillard, and Kate McKinnon as the fictional character Debette Goldry.

It's too late and I'd also say: too little.

They lined up some chairs, plunked female cast members and had them say there's a lot of sexual harassment in Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein is ugly.

Harvey Weinstein's ugliness was joked about in terms of how he looks, not what he has done and is accused of doing, which really is ugly.

The cheap joke, which could be used against any man, was that he was hanging upside down naked and he looked pretty much the same as if he were not upside down. A man's face is as ugly as genitalia. Notice all the problems:

1. Judging people by the way they look.

2. The baseline assumption that male genitalia is ugly (which undercuts the complaint about sexual harassment by trading on the notion that the male body is inherently repulsive and nothing a woman would want).

3. The lack of anything specific about Harvey Weinstein. (He is said to have done many things, but I don't think hanging upside down naked is one of them).

4. If the idea is that Harvey Weinstein is ugly, so no one would want to have sex with him, that actually sounds like a form of humiliation that has often been directed at women. It's like the terrible old rape jokes that responds to a rape accusation by talking about how unattractive the woman is, so who would rape her? (And some of that "Debette Goldry" material was supposed to be funny because she's physically unattractive — she's old (get it??) — and yet even she had experienced sexual harassment.)

Later in Saturday's show, in the "Weekend Update" section, there were a few Weinstein jokes and again the idea of his physical ugliness dominated. As the NYT described it:
Michael Che, the other co-anchor of “Weekend Update,” noted that the Weinstein scandal put comedians in a “tough spot” because it was hard to make jokes about sexual assault. Then, with a photo of Mr. Weinstein on the screen, Mr. Che added:
“But it’s so easy to make jokes about a guy that looks like this. I mean, he looks like chewed bubble gum rolled in cat hair.”
It's hard to make jokes that are actually on the subject of what Weinstein did wrong, so let's make jokes that could be made against him if he were a great guy. I wish Che had entered into the realm of self-deprecation and said something more like:

We know we have to make some jokes about Harvey Weinstein. We know because we got scorched in social media last week for weaseling out of it. Lorne Michaels said "It's a New York thing." What's a New York thing? Running away from humor that too hard to do? So we are scampering this week. The weasels are scampering, trying to come up with something we can say to make you laugh about sexual harassment, and I've got to admit, 99.9% of the ideas we came up with boiled down to the fact that Harvey Weinstein is ugly. We were coming up with material like "he looks like chewed bubble gum rolled in cat hair." It's like we were liberated to do jokes about physical ugliness because a guy who did horrible things is, fortunately, ugly. It was funny because half the people pitching the jokes to Lorne were also physically ugly. Maybe they knew so many jokes because they've been hearing them all their lives. Probably a lot you out there, staying home watching TV on Saturday night, are ugly too. And just saying that, I feel ugly... on the inside.

"Many Americans have debated whether the country would be better off with Pence as President."

"From a purely partisan viewpoint, Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic operative, argues that—putting aside the fear that Trump might start a nuclear war—'Democrats should hope Trump stays in office,' because he makes a better foil, and because Pence might work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich predicts that Pence will probably get a chance to do so. 'I think he’s the most likely Republican nominee in 2024,' he said. Ron Klain, who was chief of staff to the former Vice-President Joe Biden, is skeptical of this, given Trump’s accumulating baggage. 'There is no success for Mike Pence unless Trump works—he cannot run far enough or fast enough to not get hit by the falling tree,' Klain said. 'But he may think he can.' Evidently, the next chapter is on Pence’s mind. Over the fireplace in the Vice-President’s residence, he has hung a plaque with a passage from the Bible: '"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."'"

Last paragraph of "The Danger of President Pence/Trump’s critics yearn for his exit. But Mike Pence, the corporate right’s inside man, poses his own risks," by Jane Mayer (in The New Yorker).

"Bowe Bergdahl, Called a ‘Traitor’ by President Trump, Pleads Guilty."

The NYT reports.
He was charged with desertion, which carries a potential five-year sentence, and with misbehavior — essentially, endangering the troops who were sent to search for him — which carries a potential life sentence.

The negotiations for his release became a presidential campaign issue and an attacking point for Republican critics of President Obama’s foreign policy. Last year, as a candidate, Donald J. Trump repeatedly called the sergeant a “traitor” and called for him to be executed.

At the Slow Start Café...

DSC05089

... what is there to write about? I'm still trying to figure that out....