October 8, 2015

Making Cheney look like the kiss of death.

Near the top of Memeorandum right now:

"I always have food with me. It comforts me. In restaurants, when people order food — and they have menus — I hate that."

"Just give me something to eat. Quantity matters, not quality. In North Korea I thought a frozen potato was the fanciest food in the world.... I feel guilty... I never dreamed this life. I did not know this life was coming...."

"Hillary Clinton: I Totally Oppose The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement I Negotiated In 2012..."

"... even though 'In her 2014 memoir, Hillary Clinton listed the negotiation of TPP as one of her key accomplishments as Sec. of State.'  As Twitchy asks, 'Did TPP flip-flopper Hillary even READ her book before sending it to GOP candidates?'"

I have the book in my Kindle, so let me do a search:
So we worked hard to improve and ratify trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and encouraged Canada and the group of countries that became known as the Pacific Alliance— Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile— all open-market democracies driving toward a more prosperous future to join negotiations with Asian nations on TPP, the trans-Pacific trade agreement....

As President Obama explained, the goal of the TPP negotiations is to establish “a high standard, enforceable, meaningful trade agreement” that “is going to be incredibly powerful for American companies who, up until this point, have often been locked out of those markets.” It was also important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field.

And it was a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia. Our country has learned the hard way over the past several decades that globalization and the expansion of international trade brings costs as well as benefits. On the 2008 campaign trail, both then-Senator Obama and I had promised to pursue smarter, fairer trade agreements. Because TPP negotiations are still ongoing, it makes sense to reserve judgment until we can evaluate the final proposed agreement.

It’s safe to say that the TPP won’t be perfect— no deal negotiated among a dozen countries ever will be— but its higher standards, if implemented and enforced, should benefit American businesses and workers....
It "won’t be perfect," but perhaps the imperfections mounted after her involvement ended. I see a loophole she might be able to exploit.

"Having a prefabricated laugh at the expense of my own dear mother without provocation of cause is not my idea of gratitude for the interview..."

"... which took up 10 of more pages in your puerile smokescreen periodical masquerading as a songwriting litany! My mother is not a public figure to be satirized and ridiculed with silliness and malicious nonsense by some scurrilous little wretch with a hard-on for comedy!"

Wrote Bob Dylan in a letter — which he never sent — to Song Talk magazine.

"School District to Pay $600,000 Over Death of Teens Who Were Hypnotized by Principal."

As the lawyer for the 3 students who died put it: "you had someone who decided to perform medical services on kids without a license. He altered the underdeveloped brains of teenagers, and they all ended up dead because of it.”

The principal seems to have been trying to help students (and staff member) deal with various psychological problems through hypnosis and delivered his services to "at least 75 people at the school." The students died through suicide (in 2 cases, both by hanging) and a car accident (in which the young man reportedly had "a strange look on his face" before going off the interstate).

I can't figure out what the cause and effect was, but the school district chose to pay rather than to fight over it.

"If you think fetal-tissue research is wrong and should be banned, would you refuse to use any therapies that may come out of it?"

"I thought not. I’ve posed this question to abortion opponents before, but so far, no one has said, Yes, Katha, I would rather let Alzheimer’s turn my brain into cottage cheese and ketchup than benefit from this diabolical practice. If I get Parkinson’s, HIV, breast cancer, diabetes, or the flu; if I go blind from macular degeneration; if I have a miscarriage, so be it. Treatments for those conditions are still being developed, but surprise! If you have been vaccinated for polio, mumps, measles, chicken pox, hepatitis, or rabies, it may be too late for you to stand your ethical ground: You have already benefited from fetal-tissue research. This is, after all, a practice that’s been legal since the 1930s. In 1954, John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins won the Nobel Prize for work on the polio virus that paved the way for the Salk and Sabin vaccines. They used fetal tissue, the monsters. Should their heirs return the medals?"

Writes Katha Pollitt in The Nation in a piece titled "Fetal-Tissue Bans Are All About Making Abortion Providers Look Like Monsters/Life-saving research is collateral damage in the war on Planned Parenthood."

"First rule of conceal carry is don't talk about conceal carry."

"I do the same. I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6."

"I don't care if they make a law that says death penalty for anyone caught with a gun. I WILL BE ARMED! My life is more import than any law, rule, policy or ban."

Presented for discussion. I'm not commenting on that one way or another. Those are comments at Facebook on this image:

ADDED: Meanwhile, in Texas:
Economics professor emeritus Daniel Hamermesh will withdraw from his position next fall, citing concerns with campus carry legislation. The law will allow the concealed carry of guns in campus buildings beginning Aug. 1, 2016. Hamermesh said he is not comfortable with the risk of having a student shoot at him in class. 
Does that make sense? It will still be against the law to shoot at him in class. I guess the argument is that the decision to carry a gun into class is more deliberate. You plan ahead, and might be more rational in making the decision whether to break any laws. But the decision to pull out your gun and shoot the professor is more impulsive and thus less susceptible to contemplation of the legal consequences. So the ban on carrying a gun was protecting Hamermesh in ways that the ban on shooting the professor does not.
“My guess is somebody thinking about coming to Texas is going to think twice about being a professor here,” Hamermesh said. “It’s going to make it more difficult for Texas to compete in the market for faculty.”
Spoken like an economics professor.

"There’s a particularly mean meme about presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson and his wife, Lacena, aka Candy, circulating around social media."

Writes Demetria Lucas D’Oyley at The Root:
In the meme, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are striking at the China state dinner Friday. President Obama is dressed in a well-tailored tuxedo, and the first lady has long, side-swept hair and an off-the-shoulder, custom-made Vera Wang gown. The contrasting picture of the Carsons was taken in May, on the day Carson officially announced his candidacy for president in Detroit. He is dressed in an unremarkable but still presentable blue suit. It’s Candy Carson’s appearance that makes the meme funny to some (but not me). She is wearing a hairstyle and patriotic ensemble that is unflattering, ill-fitting and dated. The meme caption is a play on a popular DirecTV commercial that clowns its cable competitors for being subpar...

[The un-P.C. part of my mind is] mature enough not to laugh at Candy Carson’s expense, but it’s still asking why she came out of the house looking like that when her man is announcing his presidential bid...

"Sharafat Khan, the co-owner of a million-dollar mansion in suburban Houston, has spent the past 6 months living on his front lawn after his wife kicked him out the house."

And the WaPo has written an article about him, replete with photographs.
“He’s wearing the same clothing, it’s dirty,” neighbor Debbie Scoggins told NBC TV affiliate KPRC. “He has no bathroom facilities, no shoes.”...

“They’re married so it’s community property,” Detective Tim Dohr of the Lakeview Police Department, which oversees policing in the neighborhood, told the Chronicle. “One has just as much right as the other to be there. We can’t make him leave, which is her wish, and we can’t really force her to do anything with regard to him.”...

While Khan lives outside, with no access to food, his wife, a physician, has placed a sign on the front door asking people not to feed her husband....
According to the son, "My dad has abused my mom, emotionally as well as physically." Obviously, the living on the lawn is a form of emotional abuse. “We are ashamed that my father has caused all this problem and hate toward my mom.”

Sharafat says he wants his wife “to realize whatever she is doing she’s doing bad. People will know, the neighbors and everything else. People will ask her, put her down. Let her know what you’re doing to your husband.”

I'd lean toward the wife, but she has the power to seek a divorce and to divide that property. She's not taking that step, supposedly because of "religious reasons."

Why did CNN cut the length of the Democratic candidates' debate from 3 hours to 2 hours?

No reason is given.

Meade speculates: "Bernie and Hillary are too old to stand for 3 hours."

Me: "We can't sit through 3 hours."

From my 36-point live-blog of the 3-hour GOP debate:
26. How long is this darned thing? I thought 2 hours. Then I thought 2 and a half. Now, I'm thinking it's going to go on for 3 hours. This is madness!...

35. After the debate, in an interview, Trump says what he learned is that he can stand for 3 hours. Yeah, that was a severe challenge — having to stand there for 3 hours. It was hard enough to sit through!
And the woman has to do the standing in heels, as HuffPo pointed out after the 3-hour GOP debate:
"I watched eagerly when Carly Fiorina first walked on stage to see how high her heels were," said our very own Arianna Huffington. "I immediately recognized the heels she was wearing, as I have the same Manolo Blahnik pumps in black. They're high -- 3 1/2 inches! I personally wear them when I know I'm sitting down! I love them and completely understand why she chose them, in terms of style. But, as the debate dragged on, I wondered how uncomfortable she must have been, especially since she didn't just have to stand there looking elegant but being alert and firing on all cylinders...."

But the height of the heel aside, it reminds us of what was once said about actor/dancer Fred Astaire and his legendary dance partner: "Sure he was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards ... and in high heels!"
Who originated that Ginger Rogers line? Ann Richards? No. Frank and Ernest:

Cass Sunstein purports to explain "How the Gun Lobby Rewrote the Second Amendment."

I know the author of a column probably doesn't write his own headline, but there's nothing in this column that explains how the gun lobby rewrote the Second Amendment. Sunstein explains how people in the law field long relied, without studying the question in depth, on an assumption about the meaning of the amendment. To do the deep study and to arrive at a different opinion of the meaning of a text is not to rewrite it.

Sunstein's column is loaded with filler that has nothing to do with how the gun lobby supposedly rewrote the amendment: the recent shootings in Oregon, a Ben Carson statement in support of gun rights, the recency of the Supreme Court's discovery of an individual right in the Second Amendment, an old statement in an interview by Chief Justice Warren Burger of his understanding that the Second Amendment contains no individual right to bear arms, old case law that failed to perceive an individual right.

In the 11th and 12th paragraphs of the 15-paragraph column, Sunstein presents the fact that the National Rifle Association spent money expressing its belief in the individual right, that expression "resonated with the public," and that public opinion is "used strategically by politicians seeking votes." Yes, we live in a culture, and we vote in a democracy, and voters respond to arguments they hear and feel persuaded by, but how does that mean that one set of voices rewrites a clause in the Constitution?

Here we are, then, it's Paragraph 13. I want the answer my question. What do we get? Sunstein admits that there is no rewriting!
An important qualification: The text of the Second Amendment is ambiguous, and it could indeed be read in favor of an individual right; historians continue to debate the question. And because the individual right to own guns has long been a central part of American culture, if not its jurisprudence, federal judges might well hesitate before entirely denying that right.
The introductory phrase "An important qualification" is a rhetorical trick to make us feel the author has already made the basic point and this is a minor concession for the sake of scrupulous accuracy. But the basic point has not been made and the concession is really all there is: It's a difficult question of interpretation, and when serious scholars did the hard work, many of them perceived a right, a right in the original text. These people were not "rewriting" the Second Amendment, and they certainly were not accepting a rewrite delivered by a political lobby.

Ironically, Sunstein, writing in a newspaper, attempting to influence public opinion, is more of a lobbyist than the scholars he'd diminish as manipulated by lobbyists. 

As for judges, of course they should hesitate before denying a constitutional right! Whatever is happening in the political arena, judges should always look carefully at claims of right, as I am sure Sunstein and fellow anti-gun rights law professors will say about non-Second Amendment rights.

Paragraph 13 is the shocking "never mind," and the column peters out in the final 2 paragraphs, ending with the assertion that gun rights "have a lot more to do with interest-group politics" than with what the Constitution really means, which is certainly a true statement about Sunstein's column.

"MOOCs may soon become a prominent factor in admissions decisions at selective colleges..."

"... a way for students who may not do well on traditional measures like the SAT to prove they can hack it."
That’s the argument by officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which on Wednesday announced a plan to create what it calls an "inverted admissions" process, starting with a pilot project within a master’s program in supply-chain management.

... Students who come to the program after first taking the MOOCs will then essentially place out of the first half of the coursework, so they can finish the degree in a semester rather than an academic year. That effectively makes the master’s program half the usual price.
ADDED: With so much hanging on success in the MOOCs, how will MIT deal with cheating? Here's an article from last month in the MIT News: "Study identifies new cheating method in MOOCs/Research from MIT and Harvard shows how to exploit and protect MOOC certification":
In this [new] method of cheating, a user creates multiple accounts, one of which is the primary account that will ultimately earn a certificate. The other accounts are used to find or “harvest” the correct answers to assessment questions for the master account.

"After jokingly referring to himself as the Fat Forrest Gump, he was asked about his use of the word 'fat.'"

"People need to get over it... I’m fat and I’m calling myself fat. People are too worried about offending everybody. That’s what’s wrong with this country.”

Said Eric Hites, the "Fat Guy Across America," who's arrived in New York City and has a big NYT article about him.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded for "her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time"...

... to Svetlana Alexievich, of Belarus.
In an interview posted on the press’s website, Ms. Alexievich said her technique of blending journalism and literature was inspired by the Russian tradition of oral storytelling. “I decided to collect the voices from the street, the material lying about around me,” she said. “Each person offers a text of his or her own.”

“By means of her extraordinary method — a carefully composed collage of human voices — Alexievich deepens our comprehension of an entire era,” the academy said.
ADDED: What's really interesting here is that the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded for writing  nonfiction, though it's not purely nonfiction. It's a "mix of nonfiction and fiction."

I want to know which purely nonfiction writers have won!
While the Nobel committee has occasionally awarded the prize to nonfiction writers, including Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill, it has been decades since a journalist or historian has won. Some prominent writers, among them the New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch, have called for the Nobel judges to recognize nonfiction as a worthy art form.

October 7, 2015

The idea that Biden shouldn't run because he won't be able to answer the question "Why are you running?"

I think that's the point of this Slate article "Joe Biden’s Big Question/Why are you running?" by John Dickerson. Key paragraph:
But if Joe Biden runs, it will be a character campaign against Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean there won’t be specifics discussed about wages and health care and the U.S. role overseas. But at its heart what will have gotten Biden in the race and what will animate it will be character—both his own and the perception that Clinton’s isn’t strong.
And he can't come out and say that — right? — so when he's asked the inevitable question he'll have to use that story about his son's dying wish. But that's not a reason why we should vote for him. And Beau didn't tell him to get out there and destroy Hillary, but only to go ahead and pursue your decades-long dream. And that's not a reason that explains why we should vote for him — because he's always wanted it and his son, who died, backed him up. It has to be that Hillary's no good, and that will have to be his message, the message he won't be able to come out and openly admit. That's what I get from Dickerson's piece, which I read as pressuring Biden not to run.

And yet, I don't think it's obvious that Biden can't put together a campaign that's basically anti-Hillary but manages to keep a veneer of positivity constructed out of the death of Beau.

"How John Boehner could stay Speaker."

His resignation is contingent on the election of a new Speaker, so he stays until somebody wins a majority vote in the House.

"The decidedly not-safe-for-work image, which cannot be reproduced here, can be easily found through a search engine."

Sentence in a NYT article about the sale at auction of a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph for $478,000. The photo, "Man in Polyester Suit," was part of an exhibition for which Mapplethorpe was criminally prosecuted in 1990.

Charles P. Pierce re Bobby Jindal: "Please Punch This Man in the Dick."

Sexualized violence... it's funny because...? Exactly why is it funny to you Charles?

Multiple answers permitted: Pierce thinks this sexualized violence is funny because...
pollcode.com free polls

"It's absurd to say [Ben Carson is] 'blaming the victims.'"

"He's either right or wrong about what a victim should do in such a situation. That depends only on whether his strategy would actually be effective, not whether he's 'blaming the victims.'"

The blaming-the-victims concept has grown ridiculously beyond its proper place.

We need to stand up and not be victims of the fear of being accused of blaming the victims. It's one thing to be sympathetic to people who have been victimized and not to confront these individuals with our hindsight-assisted advice about what they could have done to avoid injury. It's quite another to stifle creative thinking about what we can do in emergencies that might arise in the future.

What's so stupid about the Politico piece titled "Clinton gag gifts her GOP rivals with copies of her memoir."

1. You're obviously trying to help Hillary with her effort to come across as "fun," but you have absolutely nothing to report. Candidates have books, and they're always trying to get these books out. It's the essence of nonnews.

2. Hillary sends out a lot of copies of a book about herself. What is the "gag"? Why are you saying "gag"... other than to make it more obvious that you're propagating the message that Hillary is such a fun, fun lady.

3. "Gag" is not a good word to use when talking about the woman whose husband got the most famous blow job in the history of the world.

Anyway... the word "gag" does not appear in Hillary's "Hard Choices," but the memoir does contain some discussion of jokes. She writes:
In politics a sense of humor is essential. There are countless reasons why you have to be able to laugh at yourself.... In diplomacy, with its carefully scripted conversations across language and cultural divides, there’s less room for humor. But occasionally it comes in handy. This felt like one of those times.

In a speech at the Munich Security Conference in February, Vice President Biden had said, “It is time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should be working together with Russia.” I liked the idea of a “reset”... Why not present [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey]Lavrov with an actual reset button? It might get people laughing— including Lavrov— and ensure that our commitment to a fresh start, not our disagreements, made the headlines. A little unconventional, maybe, but worth a try. Lavrov and I met in the InterContinental Hotel’s Salon Panorama, named for its panoramic view of Geneva. Before we sat down, I presented him with a small green box, complete with a ribbon. While the cameras snapped away, I opened it and pulled out a bright red button on a yellow base that had been pulled off the whirlpool in the hotel.
She vandalized the hotel for that button?! Wow. Reminds me of the wreckage in the White House at the end of the Bill Clinton administration, when staffers pried the "W"s off the computer keyboards to spite George W. Bush.