"Did he have a sense of humor about himself? Kind of. But you couldn’t quite tell..."

"... because he would start saying things like, 'I am the most beautiful. I am the king,' all that kind of stuff. It’s like [Flamboyant 1940s and Fifties wrestler] Gorgeous George. A lot of boxers and wrestlers do that. Trump does that [laughs]. But that was like stuff he said on stage. Maybe he got confused, as many of us do, about whether you’re on the stage or in real life.... When he was the biggest singer in the country and his songs were huge hits, people didn’t talk about him being gay or anything. I don’t know if he was beyond that because he was so scary. They didn’t even know what he was. He was a Martian more than being gay. It was like he was from another planet.... [H]e died completely homophobic and saying horrible things about gay people and transgender people. I would always say in my [spoken word] show that we should kidnap him and deprogram him, like what that guy Ted Patrick used to do with Moonies. Remember when parents would hire him to get their kids, and he would take you to a hotel room for a week and get you unprogrammed?...  I guess he flipped over to radical Christianity. He could have been a Christian and not a hate-Christian. He could have just quietly gone to church. A lot of people do, but they don’t say terrible things about gay people. Especially when you look like that [laughs]. Especially when you were Princess Lavonne in the carnival; he was a drag queen in the carnival and wrote about it in his book."

From an interview in Rolling Stone with the film director John Waters. Waters interviewed Little Richard for Playboy in 1987, and Little Richard tried to take the interview back after he'd given it.

Waters has long worn a mustache that he says was modeled on Little Richard:

And Waters used Little Richard's song "The Girl Can't Help It" in his movie "Pink Flamingos":

That's a parody of this sequence in the 1956 movie "The Girl Can't Help It":

"Try to imagine Muhammad Ali without Little Richard’s winking persona, his swing and swagger ('I am the King!')."

"Try to imagine James Brown, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Elton John, and Prince without his electrical charge. Little Richard was an original, and he did not hesitate to remind his students of their debt. He once looked into a television camera and, with affection, told Prince, 'I was wearing purple before you was wearing it!'... Richard Penniman was born in 1932 into a large, poor Christian family, in Macon, Georgia. His father was a brick mason and a bootlegger. One of Richard’s legs was shorter than the other, making him a source of mockery among other children. 'They thought I was trying to twist and walk feminine... The kids would call me faggot, sissy, freak.'... Even as a child singer, Richard was known for his high range and incredible volume. But, in his father’s eyes, he was unbearably effeminate and not to be tolerated. When Richard was a teen-ager, he was thrown out of the house and went to live with Ann and Johnny Johnson, a white couple who ran a local venue, the Tick Tock Club.... Throughout his teens, he was in and out of outfits like Buster Brown’s Orchestra (where he got the name Little Richard) and the Tidy Jolly Steppers. He sang, sometimes wearing a red evening gown, under the name Princess Lavonne, in Sugarfoot Sam’s Minstrel Show."

From "Little Richard, the Great Innovator of Rock and Roll" by David Remnick (The New Yorker).

I wanted to find a photograph of Little Richard in the Princess Lavonne persona. I did find this description at Talkhouse, "Pour on the Steam: Little Richard at Age 19/Adam Weiner (Low Cut Connie) tells a tale of magical personhood in a Macon, Georgia bus station":
It was a medicine show spiritualist pseudo-psychic passing through town named Doctor Nobilio who was the first to tell Richard he would be massively famous—he just needed to get the hell out of Macon. He quit high school and joined up with a series of amazingly-titled rinky-dink traveling shows, initially billed as Little Richard, and then as the great Princess Lavonne. He performed with Dr. Hudson’s Medicine Show, Sugarfoot Sam from Alabam, the Tidy Jolly Steppers, and the Broadway Follies. Princess Lavonne was an intense, hilarious Queen in Pancake 31 makeup. He worked on his schtick, but ultimately was an awkward drag performer. He had a natural gift to electrify and seduce, but with his mismatched legs, he couldn’t figure out how to walk or dance in heels so he would just stand still and wait for someone to open and close the curtain...
I'd also love to hear the story from the perspective of Ann and Johnny Johnson. Who were these white people who took in Little Richard when his father was so cruel to him? Or was his father cruel to him?
Bud Penniman. What voice did that man have?

At the Magnolia Diner...


... the lunch crowd is rolling in.


"Jimmy Kimmel aired edited video that falsely claimed Pence carried empty boxes."

"Former President Barack Obama is being quoted from a private call that the 'rule of law is at risk' after the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case against... Michael Flynn."

"Obama reportedly told members of the Obama Alumni Association that 'There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free.'... [But] former Attorney General Eric Holder... moved to dismiss such a case based on prosecutorial errors in front of the very same judge, Judge Emmet Sullivan.... The Obama statement is curious on various levels. First... Flynn was never charged with perjury... Second, there is ample precedent for this motion... Third, there is also case law.... Fourth, there are cases where the Department has moved to dismiss cases on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct or other grounds touching on due process, ethical requirements or other concerns.... The rare statement by President Obama is also interesting in light of the new evidence... that Obama was following the investigation of Flynn who he previously dismissed from a high-level position and personally intervened with President Donald Trump to seek to block his appointment as National Security Adviser. Obama reportedly discussed the use of the Logan Act against Flynn. For a person concerned with precedent, that was also a curious focus. The Logan Act is widely viewed as unconstitutional and has never been used to successfully convicted a single person since the early days of the Republic. Now that is dubious precedent."

Writes Jonathan Turley.

I see a reference to Little Richard... Oh! Does that mean that Little Richard died?

I quickly go to the NYT and search the page for "Little Richard" — "Little Richard, Flamboyant Wild Man of Rock ’n’ Roll, Dies at 87/Delving deeply into the wellsprings of gospel music and the blues, and screaming as if for his very life, he created something new, thrilling and dangerous."

I'm so sad to see that. Here's my favorite Little Richard song:

Well, along about ten I'll be flying high/Rock on out unto the sky/'Cause I don't care if I spend my dough/Tonight I'm gonna be one happy soul...

Rock on out unto the sky, Richard... tonight and forever, one happy soul.

ADDED: Not that he was always happy!

AND: My son John has a long blog post, with lots of excerpts from the NYT obituary and clips of Little Richard.

Not phrenology. Phenology.

Phrenology is the pseudo-science of studying bumps on the skull ("When the forehead is perfectly perpendicular, from the hair to the eyebrows, it denotes an utter deficiency of understanding").

Phenology is...
... the study of plant and animal activities and when they occur each year. Phenology is a real science that has many applications. In farming and gardening, phenology is used chiefly for planting times and pest control. Certain plants give a cue, by blooming or leafing out, that it's time for certain activities, such as sowing particular crops.... Indicator plants are often used to look for a particular pest and manage it in its most vulnerable stages. They can also be used to time the planting of vegetables, apply fertilizer, prune, and so on....
We were worried that we were going to have a freeze last night, and Meade said to look at the lilacs. They're an indicator plant. If they're opened up, then we would not get a frost. Those within earshot all thought — But how does the lilac know the future? I was going to the Arb, and I made sure to photograph the lilac:


It's indicating that there will be no freeze, and sure enough, there was no freeze. The lilac knew. There was a lack of lie in that indication.

Another thing about yesterday: It was the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' "Let It Be." That includes "Dig a Pony," which has those lines: "You can celebrate anything you want... You can penetrate any place you go... You can radiate everything you are... You can imitate everyone you know... You can indicate everything you see... You can syndicate any boat you row..."

John Lennon wrote that song, which he called "a piece of garbage." Wikipedia says it has a "multitude of strange, seemingly nonsense phrases which were strung together in what Lennon refers to as a Bob Dylan style of lyric." I don't trust these putdowns. That's a way of speaking to the press (a Bob Dylan way by the way). But "Dig a Pony" — with all its "-ate" words — does feel like Bob's "analyze you, categorize you, finalize you, or advertise you...."

I'm willing to believe you can celebrate anything you want, penetrate any place you go, radiate everything you are, imitate everyone you know, and indicate everything you see.

Look! There's the lilac, telling the truth again.

I left out "syndicate any boat you row" because that's getting into metaphor. Genius lyrics tells me "syndicate" is a British way to say "incorporate," and, at the time, The Beatles were turning themselves into "Apple Corps."  To get back to phenology: "When apple trees shed their petals, sow corn."

ADDED: That link on "it was the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' 'Let It Be,'" goes to my son John's post at Facebook. John states a preference for the song order in a later version of the album:
The joyously driving "Get Back" is moved from the end to the beginning (in contrast with the original album's first song, "Two of Us," which is beautiful but wasn't a particularly exciting way for a rock band to kick things off).
I said:
"Two of Us" is seared into my head as the way this thing begins. Nothing else feels right. But then, I always listened to side 2 of "Abbey Road" first, making it begin with "Here Comes the Sun." I like the quiet, hopeful beginnings. I guess the notion of "side 2" doesn't even make sense anymore, hasn't made sense for the last quarter century. And yet, I still have my 50 year old LPs.

I could do without John (Lennon) yelling at the beginning. "'I Dig A Pygmy' by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf-Aids! Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats!" That was Phil Spector's choice, I'm reading. Is it racist? It's always felt ugly to me. But now I'm reading that "Deaf-Aid" is a Britishism for hearing aid, and that "Doris gets her oats" means Doris is getting regular sexual intercourse.
That "I Dig A Pygmy" business begins the album and goes right before "Two of Us." Only later in the album do we reach the song titled "Dig a Pony," which doesn't really have a pony in the lyrics. It's just John (Lennon) announcing "I Dig a Pony" before beginning the song. It's Phil Spector who is responsible for editing in these spoken-word bits.

ALSO: I edited this post to change the song title to "Dig a Pony." I'd had it as "I Dig a Pony," but now I'm seeing on Wikipedia that "Early American pressings of Let It Be mistitled this song as 'I Dig a Pony.'" I take issue with "mistitled." The album that was bought here in America the day it came out 50 years ago and that I've kept all these years has the correct title in my world.

In any case, the original Beatles title for the song was "All I Want Is You" (rhymes with Bob's "All I Really Want To Do" (quoted above)).

And Phil Spector is in prison.

Greenwald: "The abuse of power... by the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA... is a vastly more serious scandal than 'Russiagate' ever could dream of being."

"I had a great mom. I loved my mom and she loved me, which... is probably not easy to do."

"She was so good to me. I couldn’t do any wrong, which is a big problem. Maybe that’s why I ended up the way I ended up. I don’t know. I couldn’t do any wrong in her eyes."

Said Trump, quoted at AP.

I like his comical use of "which": "I loved my mom and she loved me, which... is probably not easy to do.... I couldn’t do any wrong, which is a big problem."

He uses "which" to signal a change in voice, from serious/positive to comical/self-effacing.

"I don't want to touch an object," I found myself saying, socially distancingly.

The sun was rising, and 3 young women...


... had asked me if I'd take a picture of them — the kind of request I've always happily agreed to. And here I was being stand-offish, in the manner of a person with OCD because they wanted to hand me their phone. It's covid19world, and we're all OCD now, so I couldn't go along with that, and I knew they'd understand. Actually, they'd probably have understood in pre-covid19world and simply regarded me as a person with a disability to be treated with empathy.

But in  pre-covid19world,  covid19world, and  post-covid19world, there is a solution to the problem of not wanting to touch the other person's phone. You don't need to refuse the lovely social opportunity to take someone's picture for them. It's AirDrop. Take a photograph on your own iPhone and AirDrop it to their phone. You just have to remember, and fortunately I did.

It was nice to encounter some young people, up for a 5:40 sunrise, experiencing our strange time with optimism. Nothing more optimistic than a sunrise.

The walk back from the vantage point had the sun at our back and the fading Flower Moon up ahead. I always love when Meade sings. He began "When the moon...." but it wasn't the "When the moon" song that I thought it was. There are at least 3 well-known songs that begin "When the moon...." Which is the first one that you think of? Two are optimistic but they take entirely different paths of optimism. The other one is sad. I don't know why the sad one is the one I thought of, such a sad old Depression-Era song...

"So when you say, 'We knew,' the reality is you knew nothing"/"Correct."

From "Obama Defense Official Evelyn Farkas Admitted She Lied On MSNBC About Having Evidence Of Collusion/'I didn't know anything'" (The Federalist)("Former Obama administration defense official Evelyn Farkas testified under oath that she lied during an MSNBC interview when she claimed to have evidence of alleged collusion, a newly declassified congressional transcript of her testimony shows").

I looked for the story in the NYT and the Washington Post — search term "Evelyn Farkas" — and found nothing.

There are stories at Fox News — "Ex-Obama official, in released transcript, admits she didn't know about Trump-Russia collusion despite prior claims" — and the NY Post — "Adam Schiff lied about the Trump investigation — and the media let him."

"Some may wonder why an innocent man would ever plead guilty. Anyone who knows how the system works in practice..."

"... would understand why an innocent man—or a defendant in a close case—might be coerced into pleading guilty. The cruel reality is that if a defendant pleads not guilty and is found guilty, the sentence will be far greater than if he had pled guilty—perhaps even 10 times greater. Moreover, in this case, it is alleged that the government threatened, if Flynn did not plead guilty, to indict his son. These are the kinds of pressures routinely used by prosecutors. Civil libertarians have long been critical of these pressures, but fair-weather civil libertarians refuse to object when these improper tactics are used against Trump's associates. Partisan hypocrisy reigns."

Writes Alan Dershowitz in "Flynn Was Innocent All Along: He Was Pressured to Plead Guilt" (Gatestone Institute).

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk 'til dawn.

At the Treeshadow Diner...

... the lunch group is assembling.

"Scrutiny of Social-Distance Policing as 35 of 40 Arrested Are Black/Mayor Bill de Blasio said the police had enforced rules properly..."

"... but other officials expressed concern about tactics similar to unfair 'stop and frisk' practices" (NYT)("Of those arrested, 35 people were black, four were Hispanic and one was white").
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has long denounced the unconstitutional “stop and frisk” practices of the Bloomberg administration, has found himself in recent days forced to explain why enforcement of social distancing in predominantly minority neighborhoods is different than “stop and frisk.”...

“What happened with stop and frisk was a systematic, oppressive, unconstitutional strategy that created a new problem much bigger than anything it purported to solve,” he said. “This is the farthest thing from that. This is addressing a pandemic. This is addressing the fact that lives are in danger all the time. By definition, our police department needs to be a part of that because safety is what they do.”
Stop and frisk was aimed at the black community because that's where the incidence of gun violence was highest. Why is the enforcement of social distancing concentrated on the black community? I don't see how the difference from stop and frisk makes concentrating on black people better. It makes it worse!

I don't see de Blasio arguing that the coronavirus is victimizing black people disproportionately and that justifies the enforcement disparity. To say that would be to cite a similarity to stop and frisk, and how could that work for de Blasio? The pandemic is a bigger danger than gun violence? I don't know, but what he is saying doesn't cohere for me. It's a string of disjointed sentences — just nonsense.

"I've already had some emails from people who think they've seen the Asian giant hornet in Wisconsin..."

"... but I'm convinced that they're seeing our own large wasps that live here, which are for the most part harmless... It's actually not highly likely that they'll ever be established in Wisconsin just based on where they live in Asia. They are not found in the kind of climate that you can find in Asia that's similar to Green Bay." Also: "They're really big hornets, OK, and they have a painful sting, but many, many more people die of honeybees in Japan and China and Asia than murder hornets."

WMTV quotes UW-Green Bay Nature Sciences Professor Michael Draney.

"Hot man confused about how to put on sweater..."

"The ecologically minded smart city was supposed to replace neglected docklands and disused warehouses with a sea of wooden towers, protected by raincoats."

"Mechanised awnings would protect pedestrians from rain and snow during Toronto’s harsh winters, while traffic lights would optimise the flow of self-driving cars. A network of machines, including subterranean parcel delivery bots, and sensors tracking residents’ behaviour, would provide a blueprint for the connected cities of the future.... Only Toronto has welcomed Sidewalk Labs, making it a test bed for the company. Many residents baulked at the idea of surrendering control to Google, and technology experts expressed concerns over the possible erosion of democratic norms."

From "Google’s sister abruptly cancels work on 'smart city'" (The London Times). So, don't worry, it's not going to happen. Democratic norms can continue uneroded.

"'They’re coming to take your gas stoves' is a central message of Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions (C4BES), an astroturf group formed to push back against electrification in California...."

"It’s all part of a large, broad, and well-funded campaign against electrification being waged by the [gas] industry. APGA has the Media and Public Outreach Committee, set up by the industry with the goal of 'winning the communications war' over electrification. AGA has the Sustainable Growth Committee and the Building and Energy Codes Committee fighting against electrification.... This industry campaign... comes in response to a rapidly spreading grassroots 'all-electric movement' that has dozens of towns, cities, and counties passing new building codes or ordinances to encourage electrification or, as in Berkeley, California’s case, simply prohibiting gas hookups in new buildings. It’s getting ugly. When the city council in San Luis Obispo planned a vote on an energy code to encourage electrification in buildings, the leader of the opposition (a worker at a gas utility and a board member of C4BES) threatened to bus in protestors and spread coronavirus at the city council meeting.... [F]or the individual homeowner, as for society at large, managing harmful pollution eventually starts to seem a little silly when equally effective, affordable, and pollution-free alternatives are available. It’s time to start making new buildings all-electric and switching out all those existing gas appliances, including gas stoves, for electric alternatives."

From "Gas stoves can generate unsafe levels of indoor air pollution/An accumulating body of research suggests gas stoves are a health risk" (Vox).

"They’re coming to take your gas stoves" is the message, we're told, but the article shows that the message is true. The question is how unhealthful is a gas stove and how sound is the belief that a gas stove is better. People are into seeing the blue flame, so there's a psychological advantage. That psychological advantage can be destroyed by the fear of pollution. All of that belongs properly to the realm of advertising and propaganda.

We've addressed this topic before. A year ago I blogged a NYT article called "Your Gas Stove Is Bad for You and the Planet/To help solve the climate crisis, we need to electrify everything."

"I'm the enemy of treason/Enemy of strife/Enemy of the unlived meaningless life/I ain't no false prophet/I just know what I know/I go where only the lonely can go."

More new Bob:

"This man was cupping my breast and swirling it all around, he was going to cut it off, along with the other one, in a few hours...."

"Cold in this man’s hand, they were beautiful. Historically, they were the most complimented parts of my body, aureoles dark as my grandmother’s face, a gift from her that I was supposed to empty into a baby’s mouth.... A few years after I had surgery, I was at the $20-for-an-entire-day spa in Los Angeles’s Koreatown and a woman who’d been eyeing me for the better part of an hour cornered me to ask if mine was the same surgery that Angelina Jolie had. The best I could do that moment was 'sure.'"

From "Editing My Body/'I’d just signed the form that said "paid: $6,043.00/male reconstructed chest"'" by Emerson Whitney (New York Magazine).

"Racism begins in the crib."

"When you hear someone demanding inchoate generalized 'freedom,' ask whether he cares at all that millions of workers..."

"... who clean the zoos and buff the nails and intubate the grandmas are not free. These people are cannon fodder for your liberty. The long-standing tension between individual liberty and the collective good is complicated, and and as Kendi is quick to point out, the balance often tilts, trade-offs are made, federal and state governments shift clumsily along together, and the balance tilts again. Nobody denies that individual liberty is essential in a democracy, but in addition to parsing whether we as a collective do better in providing the 'freedom from' while also offering some 'freedom to,' it’s worth asking whether those making zero-sum claims about liberty are willing to sacrifice anything for freedom, or are just happily sacrificing you."

From "Whose Freedom Counts?/Anti-lockdown protesters are twisting the idea of liberty" by Dahlia Lithwick (at Slate).

Kendi is Ibram X. Kendi who has an article in The Atlantic called "We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic/The pandemic has brought the latest battle in the long American war over communal well-being." Lithwick instructs us that there is "a long-standing difference between core notions of what he calls freedom to and freedom from."

Lithwick's phrasing is confusing. It's "long-standing," so it's not as though Kendi invented the distinction between "freedom from" and "freedom to." Two out of 4 of FDR's "Four Freedoms" were "freedom from" (from want and from fear).  I remember an early interview with Barack Obama, in which he observed that Americans think too much about "freedom to" and not enough about "freedom from."

Lithwick writes:
The freedom to harm, [Kendi] points out, has its lineage in the slaveholder’s constitutional notion of freedom: “Slaveholders disavowed a state that secured any form of communal freedom—the freedom of the community from slavery, from disenfranchisement, from exploitation, from poverty, from all the demeaning and silencing and killing.” Kendi continues by pointing out that these two notions of freedom have long rubbed along uneasily side by side, but that those demanding that states “open up” so they may shop, or visit zoos, are peeling back the tension between the two....
How do you "peel back" "tension"? I had that image of 2 notions rubbing along uneasily side by side for a long time, and then these people who want to shop are "peeling back the tension." That kind of vaguely titillating metaphor is unfair to the reader. I'm seeing 2 notions in bed with each other and the would-be shoppers bursting in and ripping back the sheets. Aha! We see what you're doing! What a distraction! But I suppose that because slavery was invoked, I'm expected to listen without protest while Kendi's solemn, censorious lecture is promoted by an over-excited Lithwick. I resist. Sorry. I do hear what you're saying, and I see how well it works to justify depriving us of all freedom. There's never enough freedom from all the things in the world that might hurt us if we're not kept in eternal lockdown.

I liked it.

But Rex Parker was grumpy about the little joke in today's NYT crossword (spoiler alert):
And the sense of "humor" on this one ... I guess I'm thinking specifically of the ATTIRE clue, which ... I just don't get (11D: Difference between a well-dressed bicyclist and a poorly dressed unicyclist, in a joke). I mean, a tire, ATTIRE? Is that it? They sound alike, so it's funny? Yeesh.
I've always — since I was a kid — liked homophone jokes like "When is a door not a door?" They're so simple. They're right there. Undeniable jokes. And yet, Rex denies this one, questions whether it constitutes a real joke. Okaaay.

The sunrise this morning was well-attended.


So many people out there at 5:45. The cloud cover was 0%, so it looked a way that I've seen many times. Type #3 I'll call it. The completely clear sky. Type #1 is a completely clouded sky, Type #2 is fully clouded but with some texture. The only other type I've identified is Type #5, which is distinctive, with a golden zigzag. I'll get to 10 types once I've seen the full annual cycle, which will be on September 8th.

Anyway, this is the open thread to get you through the night and onto the next sunrise. Keep watch.

“Justice Dept. Drops Case Against Michael Flynn.”

NYT reports.
The extraordinary move comes amid a sustained attack by Mr. Flynn’s lawyers on prosecutors and the F.B.I., accusing them of egregious conduct. In recent days, Mr. Flynn’s lawyers said the Justice Department had uncovered new documents that pointed to misconduct.

In a possible sign of disagreement with the Justice Department decision, Brandon L. Van Grack, an assistant United States attorney who led the prosecution of Mr. Flynn, abruptly withdrew from the case on Thursday. Mr. Flynn’s lawyers have repeatedly attacked Mr. Van Grack by name in court filings, citing his “incredible malfeasance.”

At the Verticality Café...


... it's time for the late-morning snack, third breakfast, or early lunch, if you will. Never brunch, not unless you're a breakfast skipper. Breakfast skipper — that sounds like another name for Cap'n Crunch. The term "brunch" goes back to 1895, according to the OED, which finds it first here:
1895 Independent 22 Aug. 2/1 Breakfast is ‘brekker’ in the Oxford tongue; when a man makes lunch his first meal of the day it becomes ‘brunch’: and a tea-dinner at the Union Club is a ‘smug’.
A smug, eh? That never made it into the OED as a definition of "smug," but I think a tea-dinner at the Union Club sounds really nice. You'll have to wait a few hours for that, and you'll have to come up with your own notion of the "Union Club" — which was a "gentleman's club" in London from 1800 to 1949.

The rant that's the reason "Carville" is trending on Twitter.

"Supreme Court unanimously reverses 'Bridgegate' convictions."

Fox News reports:
The court recognized that the lane closures, known commonly as "Bridgegate," were done as political payback against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. for not supporting the reelection campaign of then-Governor Chris Christie. The problem, the court pointed out, is that this is not a violation of the statutes under which the defendants were charged.

"The question presented is whether the defendants committed property fraud. The evidence the jury heard no doubt shows wrongdoing—deception, corruption, abuse of power," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court's unanimous opinion. "But the federal fraud statutes at issue do not criminalize all such conduct."
ADDED: Here's the opinion — Kelly v. United States.

AND: An excerpt from the opinion:
Federal prosecutors may not use property fraud statutes to “set[ ] standards of disclosure and good government for local and state officials.”... Much of governance involves (as it did here) regulatory choice. If U. S. Attorneys could prosecute as property fraud every lie a state or local official tells in making such a decision, the result would be... “a sweeping expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction.”... In effect, the Federal Government could use the criminal law to enforce (its view of ) integrity in broad swaths of state and local policymaking. The property fraud statutes do not countenance that outcome. They do not “proscribe[] schemes to defraud citizens of their intangible rights to honest and impartial government.”... They bar only schemes for obtaining property....

[N]ot every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime. Because the scheme here did not aim to obtain money or property, Baroni and Kelly could not have violated the federal-program fraud or wire fraud laws....
ALSO: Professor Tribe reacts on Twitter: "Congress: let’s amend those statutes!"

That is, he wants the federal prosecutors to be able — in Kagan's words — to "use the criminal law to enforce (its view of ) integrity in broad swaths of state and local policymaking."

Testing... your intelligence.

"It certainly seems as though something has happened. I’m not sure... frankly, this is a messy moment, and I think we need to acknowledge that — that it is not clear cut."

Said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on NPR this morning. So there is at least one prominent Democratic Party woman who's not donating her reputation to the joint enterprise of vouching for Joe Biden.
“Instead of focusing on her account, instead of focusing on her story as a survivor, people are fast forwarding to the political implications,” she said. “‘Do you want Trump to win? Will you be voting for Joe Biden?’ And that denies justice in this situation.”
She's right about that.
Ocasio-Cortez says she will vote for Biden for president but has so far declined to endorse him. An endorsement, she says, “has to do with an understanding of what we are fighting for together.”

“I think an endorsement means we have come to a place where we have come to a place where we have developed a vision together not just for winning [in November] but for getting our country to a better place.”
Nice to see somebody in that party preserving her credibility.

AND: Don't you want to come to a place where we have come to a place where we can see how to get to a better place?

"Why is Tara Reade’s official complaint against former Vice President Joe Biden so hard to find?"

"Possibly because the system for lodging it was opaque and challenging for accusers. Reade, a onetime Biden staffer, says she filed a complaint against him in 1993 when he was in his fourth term in the Senate representing Delaware. The process would have subjected her to a system that did little to protect Capitol Hill staffers from retribution and offered little recourse if they were not satisfied with the outcome. It would take a 1995 overhaul of congressional personnel laws to bring Congress in line with federal labor and anti-discrimination laws. Even almost 30 years later, the alleged complaint — the secretary of the Senate won’t even confirm or deny whether there is one — may never be released because of strict disclosure rules.... Four in 10 women who responded to a 2016 CQ Roll Call survey of congressional staff said they believed sexual harassment was a problem on Capitol Hill, while one in six said they personally had been victimized. 'Unfortunately, due to the system that Congress created to protect itself from being exposed, there has been no accountability,' [said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.]. Between 1997 and 2014, the U.S. Treasury paid $15.2 million in taxpayer dollars toward 235 awards and settlements for Capitol Hill workplace violations...."

From "The opaqueness of Congress’ workplace rules hangs over the Tara Reade allegations about Biden/Secretary of the Senate says law prohibits disclosure of any complaint" (Roll Call).

"And so I do have empathy for what it feels like to suddenly be told that you can’t go back to work, or that you might lose your job, and it’s a situation you have absolutely no control over."

"And so while we may have found ourselves in similar situations albeit for very different reasons, I still feel that some of the emotional struggles are very much the same."

"Folks delaying seeking care or, taking the most extreme case, somebody drinking bleach as a result of structural factors just underlines the fact that we have not protected the public from disinformation."

A sentence fragment from a doctor quoted in the NBC News article "'What are we doing this for?': Doctors are fed up with conspiracies ravaging ERs/'I left work and I felt so deflated,' one doctor said about an effort to counter misinformation he saw on Facebook. 'I let it get to me.'"

What did he mean by "structural factors" — in "drinking bleach as a result of structural factors"? NBC attempts to inject coherence into the doctor's statement:
The structural factors in this case include Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which have struggled to contain the spread of misinformation, some of it coming from positions of authority.
I found this article frustrating, because it's written in this impressionistic style that begins in the middle of things with a fed-up doctor expressing his frustration as he encounters one guy on Facebook ("a man insisting to him that 'no one's dying' and that the coronavirus is 'fake news' drummed up by the news media").

Yes, bad info on Facebook and the blowhards who pass it on are a problem, but when I turn to mainstream media for the news, I want factual information, clearly stated. So if NBC wants to do an article about coronavirus conspiracy theories in social media, I expect it to be easy for me to look at the article and see what the conspiracy theories are and how prevalent they are in social media. Not just what one guy said that annoyed another guy!

Look at that headline. It says we're going to get you anxious and excited about people you're expected to care about who've got their emotions stirred up. Yes, that did get me emotional. The emotion was annoyance that the professional news media does not give me a straight factual story!

It's like they want to get in on the conspiracy theory action by puffing up theories about theories.

"Our country has to go back to being our country again. You have people that are not going to stand for this and I understand them very well..."

Said President Trump in his interview with ABC's David Muir — transcript, video.

Muir was trying to get Trump to talk about how the reopening would work — whether the results would be monitored and the restrictions reimposed if transmission/hospitalization/death rates go up. Trump continued:
... and we are going to put out little embers and little fires and maybe some big fires, but we still have to go back to work.
Muir wanted Trump to speak in the same terms as Governor Cuomo, who'd said — this is Muir's paraphrase — "you just have to be ready to turn the valve off for a time if you see a spike."

But Trump's reaction to hearing Cuomo's name was to remind us that Cuomo had praised him. Trump said: "Governor Cuomo last week said, the president and the federal government have done a phenomenal job. He said that, a phenomenal job."

That's Trump's strategy in dealing with these difficult questions, to get right on the message that his administration has done a great job. Every question is understood first as a prompt to bang us on the head again with that message. He ignored the whole point of the question, which is about how the reopening will be done. Why couldn't he address Cuomo's idea and agree with it or reject it?

Here's Cuomo speaking on May 4th. Trump acted as though he wasn't familiar with this, but I don't believe that. It's so cogent and sensible that it's very disappointing to hear Trump professing unawareness of it and Muir letting him off the hook. Cuomo:
As long as your rate of transmission is manageable and low, then reopen your businesses and reopen the businesses in phases, so you’re increasing that activity level while you’re watching the rate of transmission. Rate of transmission goes up, stop the reopening, close the valve, close the valve right away. So reopen businesses, do it in phases and watch that rate of transmission. If it gets over 1.1 stop everything immediately. That’s where the other countries wound up. They started to reopen. They exceeded the 1.1, it became an outbreak again. They had to slow down. Rather than starting and stopping, you’d rather have a controlled start so you don’t have to stop, right? And that’s what you learn from the other countries. You reopen too fast then you have to stop and nobody wants to have gone through all of this. And then start just to stop again. Well, how does that happen? First of all, it’s not going to happen statewide. This state has different regions, which are in much different situations than other regions in this state. And rather than wait for the whole state to be ready reopen on a regional basis. If upstate has to wait for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time. So analyze the situation on a regional basis. Okay? And you look at a region on four measures, the number of new infections, your healthcare capacity. If the infections goes too high you overwhelm your health system.... [G]uidelines from the CDC... say a region has to have at least 14 days of decline in total hospitalizations and death on a three day rolling average... This is telling you that you are basically at a plateau level that you can actually start to reopen. Then you’re watching the rate of infection and the spread of the infection....

"That seems to be more of this 'stuff has agency' trend that is going on. I did not do it, the gun just went off."

Says Todd in the comments to the post that talks — the post that talks! — about using the expression "release weight" instead of "lose weight."
It is NEVER ever MY fault. Stuff just happens, bad stuff anyway. Everyone owns the good stuff but bad stuff just happens.

In this case if the weight doesn't leave, well "it" chose to stay and it is NOT your fault!
But this made me think about the virus. It's just a thing. It has no mind. But we're encouraged to think of it as stuff with agency. Here's Trump, yesterday:
I view the invisible enemy as a war.... Hey, it’s killed more people than Pearl Harbor, and it’s killed more people than the World Trade Center. World Trade Center was close to 3,000. Well, we’re going to beat that by many times, unfortunately, so yeah, we view it as a war. This is a mobilization against the war. In many ways, it’s a tougher enemy. We do very well against the visible enemies. It’s the invisible enemy. This is an invisible enemy, but we’re doing a good job.

"The Best Celebrity Couple Has Broken Up."

At teaser on the front page of New York Magazine.

You know they're not really "the best celebrity couple" or we'd be seeing their names. I won't be conned in to clicking through to see who is supposedly the best.

Or... okay, I will do it for you, so you don't have to: "Cara Delevingne and Ashley Benson Broke Up?" The only reason given for their being the best is that they, at first, "hid" their relationships "from the paparazzi," and that they call each other "squish."

If that's the best, why can't we have better celebrities?

"Is it OK to rail against fat discrimination but still want to lose weight? Or does that make her part of the problem?"

"'I’ve had people question whether I truly love myself if I want to be thinner,' [said Anne Coleman, who weighs 200 pounds and considers herself to be 'body positive'].... 'I kind of feel stuck between people bashing me for having obesity and telling me I should lose weight, and the other half that says you should love yourself and that means you shouldn’t lose weight,' said Sarah Bramblette, 42, of Miami. 'I’m bad for wanting to lose weight, and I’m bad for not losing weight.'... Molly Carmel, 42, understands the conflict between wanting to be thinner and wanting to rebel against cultural norms. At her heaviest, she weighed 350. She lost 170 pounds from 'gastric bypass surgery and bulimia,' as she put it. Then she founded The Beacon Program, an eating disorder center in Manhattan. While she does weigh clients, she doesn’t let them see the number. 'I’m not saying to get into this skinny mini body... But when you’re eating in a way that’s supporting a really heavy body, it’s arguable that that’s self-love. When I weighed 325 pounds, I couldn’t get into the shower. My underwear stopped fitting. That girl deserves to release weight if she wants to, culture or no culture.'"

From "Fighting Fat Discrimination, but Still Wanting to Lose Weight/Is it OK to be 'body positive' while striving to be thinner?" (NYT).

That's an interesting expression: "release weight." It replaces "lose weight." It suggests the weight would like to go, and you're letting it, rather than that you're somehow oblivious and dropping it somewhere.

Is this language change being promoted? I'm not seeing much of it on the web, though I did find this article at a website called Wholistically You:
Years ago, my Wing Chun Sufi taught me that “we do not lose weight, we release weight”. At first I didn’t quite understand what he was saying, until he explained that whenever you lose something our instinctual nature as humans, is to find it or want it back. He went further to explain that if we truly wanted to lose something, or to give something up, then we needed to release it....

I adopted the language, understood the power behind what I was saying and watched as it manifested in my life, and in my lovely body. The results I have garnered have been life altering....
We do not achieve results. We garner them.

At the Serenity Cafe...


... you can talk all night.

(And shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

At the Expressionist Diner...

IMG_5062 (1)

... let's have lunch.

"When Trump was 13, he and a friend started collecting switchblades that they’d play with in parks."

"Donald’s father, Fred Trump, already alarmed by his behavior in school and in church, promptly shipped him off to NYMA to be straightened out. The academy, where Trump arrived in 1959, was hardly a common destination for the children of New York City’s elite. Trump had been raised with a chef and chauffeur, and was shocked by this strict, abrasive, and intensely physical environment. Scuffles and fights were common. Trump allegedly got into an argument with his roommate Ted Levine that got so heated he tried to throw Levine out of a second-story window. But by all accounts, Trump responded well to the rigidity of a military academy; it was the ideal educational incubator for someone with an unquenchable thirst for competition and a love of physical dominance...."

From "Was Donald Trump Good at Baseball?/The president has long claimed he could have gone pro. We looked into it" (Slate).

"... Grimes, the Canadian singer, and Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla, announced that they were calling their baby boy X Æ A-12..."

"... saying the name is inspired by the fantasy Elvish language, artificial intelligence and a CIA spy plane. Grimes, 32, whose real name is Clair Boucher, explained their inspiration last night, telling followers on social media that: 'X [represents] the unknown variable. Æ is the Elven spelling of Ai (love &/or artificial intelligence). A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent,' and added that the A additionally stood for Archangel, 'her favorite song.'... Grimes told followers before the birth that she would allow her child to choose its own gender. She described 'being knocked up' as a 'very feral and war-like state of being'...  She and Mr Musk have been a couple for more than two years after bonding online over an esoteric joke about artificial intelligence."

The London Times tells us.

There's artificial intelligence... and there's goofball intelligence.

Anyway, nothing wrong with gender privacy. And if Clair Boucher can rename herself Grimes, then this gender-private offspring can stop being X Æ A-12 any time said entity chooses.

What is the song "Archangel"? Is it this? ("So contorted and twisted/Condemned and submissive....")

A love story for the age.

"The scientist whose advice prompted Boris Johnson to lock down Britain resigned from his Government advisory position on Tuesday night as The Telegraph can reveal he broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover. Professor Neil Ferguson allowed the woman to visit him at home during the lockdown while lecturing the public on the need for strict social distancing in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The woman lives with her husband and their children in another house."

The Telegraph reveals.

It's not the adultery. It's the hypocrisy.

If she doesn’t find a better speller, Don Jr. stands ready.

ADDED: Quite apart from the aisle/isle mixup, there's something off about this. The young woman has made an attention-getting TikTok video, but we do not know the parents' side of the story. There's an assertion about a sexual molestation and something her parents said about it, and I think there is much more to be understood here than the idea that they are rejecting her because the man she wants to marry is "conservative." In responding to this, Don Jr. is getting in on the attention and, at first look, he seems considerate and generous, but you really should not side with one person who's made a video and against some people who are getting talked about.

Sunrise, 5:33.


Actual sunrise time, 5:43. This was the kind of sunrise that peaks 10 minutes before the "official" sunrise time.

No better metaphor.

He wore goggles. To keep his tears off you.

What does it matter to you?
When you got a job to do
You got to do it well
You got to give the other fellow hell...

No intercourse whatsoever!

"I know why the Nicolas Caged Bird sings extra loud."

Overheard at Henhouse... I mean Meadhouse.

The point is: Maybe this blog has a theme today. And throw in last night's café last post from yesterday, in which the sandhill cranes have large talons. 

On the occasion of the NYT winning a Pulitzer Prize for the history/fantasy "1619 Project," Scott Adams reveals why the Pulitzer Prize is meaningless.

And he used to want one (for his comic strip):

I've always remembered what Saul Bellow said about the Pulitzer Prize — recounted in the May 11, 1984, NYT article "PUBLISHING: PULITZER CONTROVERSIES":
For years it seemed that Saul Bellow would never win the Pulitzer, although he was often a serious contender. In addition to ''Henderson the Rain King,'' his ''Adventures of Augie March'' was a finalist in 1954, and ''Mr. Sammler's Planet'' was a 1971 finalist. Both times the board decided to forgo a fiction award.
What a kick in the head! They didn't give the award to somebody else, but to no one.
In ''Humboldt's Gift,'' published in 1972, Mr. Bellow's narrator, Charlie Citrine, is depicted as a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who nevertheless agrees with Humboldt's assessment: ''The Pulitzer is for the birds - for the pullets. It's just a dummy newspaper publicity award given by crooks and illiterates. You become a walking Pulitzer ad, so even when you croak the first word of the obituary is 'Pulitzer Prize winner passes.' ''

Reminded of that passage soon after ''Humboldt's Gift'' won in 1973, Mr. Bellow laughed and said he thought it would be best to accept the award ''in dignified silence.''
Now, when Saul Bellow died, they did not say "Pulitzer Prize winner passes." They said Nobel Prize winner passes:
Saul Bellow, the Nobel laureate and self-proclaimed historian of society whose fictional heroes -- and whose scathing, unrelenting and darkly comic examination of their struggle for meaning -- gave new immediacy to the American novel in the second half of the 20th century, died yesterday at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.
If you have to be a walking billboard for some prize-bestowing outfit, it's best to be a Nobel ad.

You may have heard that Nicolas Cage will take on the role of Joe Exotic ("Tiger King")...

... Jimmy Fallon takes on the even more challenging role of playing Nicolas Cage playing Tiger King:

"People around the world are reporting that birds are much louder these days."

"But Sue Anne Zollinger, an ornithologist from Manchester Metropolitan University, cautions: Don't believe everything you hear. With the decrease in traffic, there's less noise pollution. That means birds have less noise to compete with, she says. 'Although our perception might be that they're singing louder, it's actually likely in places that are typically noisy that they're singing more quietly than normal... But when the noise is gone, they're probably singing quieter than they do normally.'"

NPR reports.

At the Blue Stripe Café...


... you can talk all night (and shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

The photo was taken at 5:49 this morning. The actual sunrise time was 5:45. I almost did not make it out to my vantage point. As I stepped onto the trail in the twilight, I heard the loudest, craziest crane noise I have ever heard. I kept going, the noise stopped, but then I saw — up ahead, on the hill about 20 feet away from the trail — 2 very large cranes standing side by side. They were not moving away. They had their territory staked out, and I was the intruder. I considered turning around and leaving, but I decided to keep going. Do cranes attack? I didn't think they were sandhill cranes, because I didn't see the red patch on their head, and they were strangely huge. But I've researched the sound of all the large birds at that location, and I have to admit that they were sandhill cranes, which I think of as friendly. But these things were spooky. I really did not trust them at all.

Ah, here is an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette about the dangerousness of sandhill cranes:
Sandhills are big. They’re as tall as humans, with a wingspan approaching 7 feet.... Sandhill cranes are also delicious... “the prime rib of game birds” or “ribeye in the sky”.... Imagine a crumpled marionette suddenly springing to life as the puppeteer lifts its strings. Glenn’s crane [the crane Glenn shot] did that.... My brave friend now finds himself eye to eye with a fiercely angry bird, a bird with a foot-long rapier for a beak, a bird with an eagle’s talons, a bird now trying to pounce on my back-pedaling buddy.... I am standing now beside another crane [which] decides to re-enact the drama just played out. A scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds races through my head — the scene where the guy’s eyes get pecked out by seagulls. Only this is no itty-bitty seagull. It’s the bloodthirsty pterodactyl from Jurassic Park. Wilkerson screams again: “Shoot him! Shoot him!” And just as the demon is about to thrust his beak through my pounding heart, I do. Wilkerson had warned us. “Cranes can be dangerous,” he said. “Be careful how you approach birds, even when they look like they’re dead.” On another day... [a] man had [a] sandhill’s neck in a death-grip, but again and again the bird buried its knifelike beak in his face. The talons of one foot were embedded in the man’s arm; those of the other were locked in his thigh. Fortunately, the bird’s thrusting bill missed his eyes, but the hunter was frightfully injured and had to be transported to a hospital... I figured out then why there are no crane dogs to retrieve the birds. Imagine a Labrador or Chesapeake shish kebab. Picture your favorite hunting dog carried off in the talons of your game....

"They were playing Rambo. They were playing hero."

Said Venezuelan President Maduro, quoted in "Venezuela detains two Americans allegedly involved in failed raid to remove Maduro/President Nicolas Maduro claims men were among 13 ‘terrorists’ involved in plot to enter country via the coast and oust him" (The Guardian).

"Fat cells produce large amounts of a protein used by the coronavirus to infiltrate human cells, researchers have warned..."

"... pointing to a potential explanation for why obese people are more severely affected....  Fat cells in obese or diabetic patients produce higher amounts of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (Ace2) than those in other people. It is the protein that the coronavirus binds to in the bodies of infected people, they said.... [F]at might therefore 'serve as a viral reservoir.'"

The London Times reports on a study published in the journal Obesity.

"26% of Democrats, including 40% of those under the age of 45, said the party should select a different nominee."

"The party’s younger voters and women are less likely to view Biden’s denial as credible than older or male Democrats. 38% of all voters say elected officials should resign when facing credible accusations of sexual misconduct, down 18 points since late 2017."

The Morning Consult reports on its new poll.

"President Trump said on Tuesday that the White House’s coronavirus task force would be shut down and replaced with 'something in a different form'..."

"... as the country moved into what he called Phase 2 of a response to a pandemic that has killed nearly 70,000 Americans. 'We will have something in a different form,' Mr. Trump told reporters as he toured a Honeywell mask manufacturing plant in Arizona, where he wore safety goggles but no mask... 'I think we are looking at Phase 2, and we’re looking at other phases,' Mr. Trump said after he was asked whether it was a good idea to shut down the task force while the virus was still spreading through the country. He said that Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the virus response coordinator for the task force, and other top public officials would still be involved in the efforts to address the pandemic after the task force disbanded. 'They will be, and so will other doctors, and so will other experts in the field,' he said, adding, 'We are bringing our country back.'... The task force’s demise would only intensify questions about whether the administration is adequately organized to address the complex, life-or-death decisions related to the virus and give adequate voice to scientists and public health experts in making policy.... It was not clear exactly what might replace the task force. A group led by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been functioning as something of a shadow task force. That group is likely to continue working..."

The NYT reports.

"A Wisconsin Supreme Court justice on Tuesday invoked the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II during oral arguments for a challenge to the state's controversial stay-at-home order...."

"The Wisconsin Legislature filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to reopen the state and block the extension of the stay-at-home order issued by state health officials to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 'I'll direct your attention to another time in history, in the Korematsu decision, where the [U.S. Supreme Court] said the need for action was great and time was short and that justified, and I'm quoting, 'assembling together and placing under guard all those of Japanese ancestry' in assembly centers during World War II,' said [Justice Rebecca] Bradley.... 'Could the [Department of Health Services] secretary under this broad delegation of legislative power or legislative-like power order people out of their homes into centers where are they are properly social distanced in order to combat the pandemic?... The point of my question is what are the limits, constitutional or statutory? There have to be some, don't there, counsel?... My question for you is where in the Constitution did the people of Wisconsin confer authority on a single unelected Cabinet secretary to compel almost six million people to stay at home and close their businesses and face imprisonment if they don't comply with no input from the legislature without the consent of the people? Isn't it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work?'"

CNN reports.

MEANWHILE: A Southern District of New York judge un-cancelled the New York primary, the NYT reports. Democratic members of the State’s Board of Elections made the decision to cancel the primary, and the challenge was brought by Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang.
“If all but one of the presidential candidates are removed from the ballot and the primary is not held, Delegate Plaintiffs will be deprived of the opportunity to compete for delegate slots and shape the course of events at the Convention, and voters will lose the chance to express their support for delegates who share their views, [U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres wrote]. “The loss of these First Amendment rights is a heavy hardship."
Torres was appointed by Obama.

"The judiciary is right to take seriously allegations that sitting judges are gaming their retirements at the request of politicians"

"Mitch McConnell has been clear that his top priority is packing the courts with the judges his right-wing donors want, and that he’s actively pushing judges to retire. A judge would undermine the credibility of the bench by participating in that partisan gamesmanship."

Said Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, quoted in "Appeals Court Vacancy Is Under Scrutiny Ahead of Contested Confirmation Hearing/The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit publicly advanced a call by a progressive group for an ethics investigation into the circumstances of a plum vacancy" (NYT).

Was McConnell "actively pushing judges to retire"? There's a link to this NYT article from March 16th: "McConnell Has a Request for Veteran Federal Judges: Please Quit/The Senate majority leader has encouraged judges thinking about stepping down to do so soon to ensure that Republicans confirm their replacements this year." But there are no quotes from McConnell, just material like this:
Running out of federal court vacancies to fill, Senate Republicans have been quietly making overtures to sitting Republican-nominated judges who are eligible to retire to urge them to step aside so they can be replaced while the party still holds the Senate and the White House. Senator Mitch McConnell... has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions. It was not known how many judges were contacted or which of them Mr. McConnell had spoken to directly....
I wouldn't call that "actively pushing judges to retire." And how could McConnell or anybody else "actively push" a federal judge to retire? By speaking in an especially pushy way? That wouldn't work! Is it unethical to tell a federal judge that you'll be able to expedite the confirmation of his successor? That seems to be what's going on here. McConnell's assurance that the vacancy will be quickly filled may tip the decisionmaking of a judge who doesn't want to create a vacancy that will still be around if Trump loses the election and/or the Senate majority shifts. That's not "actively pushing judges to retire." That's actively removing an obstacle in front of a judge who wants to retire.

When Jake Tapper asked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to explain her belief in Christine Blasey Ford and not Tara Reade...

... she really got desperate. Let's look at the transcript from last Sunday's "State of the Union." Tapper asks a completely fair and well-stated question:
TAPPER:  You have said that you believe Vice President Biden. I want to compare that to 2018, when you said you believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she accused now Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assault. Kavanaugh also, like Biden, categorically denied that accusation. And Blasey Ford, to be honest, she did not have the contemporaneous accounts of her view of what happened that Tara Reade does. You have spoken movingly about how you're a survivor — survivor of assault yourself. Why do you believe Biden, and not Kavanaugh? Are they not both entitled to the same presumption of innocence, regardless of their political views?

WHITMER: You know, Jake, as a survivor and as a feminist, I will say this. We need to give people an opportunity to tell their story. But then we have a duty to vet it. And just because you're a survivor doesn't mean that every claim is equal. It means we give them the ability to make their case, and the other side as well, and then to make a judgment that is informed. I have read a lot about this current allegation. I know Joe Biden, and I have watched his defense. And there's not a pattern that goes into this. And I think that, for these reasons, I'm very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is. He's — and you know what? And that's all I'm going to say about it. I really resent the fact that, every time a case comes up, all of us survivors have to weigh in. It is reopening wounds. And it is — take us at our word, ask us for our opinion, and let's move on.
Let's move on?! The question does ask her to answer as a survivor, and she began her answer "as a survivor and as a feminist." She didn't object to being asked as a survivor until after she'd answered, though she did begin by expanding her status from "survivor" to "survivor and... feminist."

But after quickly answering, she registered her objection: She resents that her survivor status makes her a target of questions about sex assaults. It reopens the old wound. But she does want to be asked. She wants to get the question, to answer it quickly, and to be believed as a commentator on the things that happened to other people: "take us at our word, ask us for our opinion, and let's move on."

I certainly believe it's her opinion that Kavanaugh did what Blasey Ford said he did and Biden did not do what Tara Reade said he did, but why is that her opinion? Is it only because of what political side Whitmer is on? If so, I can understand telling us to move on. Don't look too closely at that.

Notice how Whitmer stopped herself in the middle of her explanation of why Biden's denial is more believable than Kavanaugh's: "I'm very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is. He's — and you know what?" She decided not to go on about her reason why but to switch to attacking Tapper for asking the question. You know what? I resent the question! Let's move on!

That seems to give the game away. Her reason was that she's on Biden's side. It's like the way Bill Clinton was treated back in the 90s — complete with the old "move on" catchphrase.

Tapper defended himself:
TAPPER: Well, just for the record, the reason I'm asking you is because you're the only Democrat on the show today, not because you're a survivor, and not because you're a woman. But thank you so much for your time. I want to...
Well, he did present her survivor status as a basis for authority on whom to believe. He said "You have spoken movingly about how you're a survivor... of assault yourself: Why do you believe Biden."  She may have been "the only Democrat on the show today," but why was she  the only Democrat on the show today? Looking at the whole transcript, I think it was because of the protests against the lockdown in Michigan. I can see how maybe she felt ambushed by that extra question.

She responded to his self-defense:
WHITMER: Yes. No, and it's not a criticism of you, Jake. It's not a criticism of you. You're doing your job, and I appreciate that. I'm just sharing, I think, some of the simmering anger that we survivors have every time that we have got to confront this from someone else's behavior that we weren't a party to, that we weren't even a part of the reality in the moment. What I think is this. We owe it to every woman who has a story to listen to that story, and then to vet that story, ask the questions and be critical thinkers, and then make a judgment, based on all of those pieces. I have done that in this instance. And I will tell you this. I don't believe that it's consistent with the Joe Biden that I know. And I do believe Joe, and I support Joe Biden.
There is no further question, but here are the questions I would ask:

Does it all depend on who you know? If someone you know is accused, you disbelieve the accuser, but if someone you don't know is accused, you believe the accuser? Or does that depend on whether you like that person you know or the person you don't know? Seriously, what is the rule going forward as these accusations arise — especially in the context of a nomination for a high office, where there is the temptation to try to find a shortcut to bring someone down? We can't make it easier and easier to destroy a candidate, and it can't work — it shouldn't work — to stand up for the candidates we support and to participate in the destruction of the candidates we oppose, so don't you need to reexamine your position on Brett Kavanaugh if you want fair-minded people to accept your vouching for Joe Biden? You say we need to listen to every story, vet that story, and be critical thinkers, but where is the critical thinking in your distinction between Brett Kavanaugh and Joe Biden?

ADDED: Rereading this post, I noticed a point where Whitmer deviated from supporting Biden and said something that I think is properly respectful of the problem of due process to the accused. In her response to Tapper's self-defensiveness, after she rejected the idea that she was criticizing him, Whitmer talked about the "simmering anger" that survivors feel as they are called upon to look at the evidence and weigh in on whether the accused is guilty or innocent. She doesn't like having "to confront this from someone else's behavior that we weren't a party to, that we weren't even a part of the reality in the moment."

I'm not sure exactly what that meant. Maybe it's the idea of reopening the wound. To judge what happened you have to hear the evidence and imagine the entire scene, the events, and put yourself inside of it and to use your own personal experience to form a belief about whether it is true. That's a painful ordeal, and those who impose it on the survivor ought to be more aware of what they are doing.

Maybe it's the idea that fact-finding is truly difficult. It's difficult in a courtroom trial, with all of the safeguards of cross-examining witnesses under oath and a judge excluding improper evidence and meticulously instructing a sworn-in jury about the legal standards. And it's all the more difficult when we've got allegations passed along in newspaper articles and amplified by political partisans. Whitmer may have been saying — just in that one sentence — that she is in no position to give the accused the due process he deserves.

"Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that has become dominant worldwide and appears to be more contagious..."

"... than the versions that spread in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated quickly to the East Coast of the United States and has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March.... The mutation identified in the new report affects the now infamous spikes on the exterior of the coronavirus, which allow it to enter human respiratory cells.... Italy was one of the first countries to see the new virus in the last week of February, almost at the same time that the original strain appeared. Washington was among the first states to get hit with the original strain in late February, but by March 15 the mutated strain dominated. New York was hit by the original virus around March 15, but within days the mutant strain took over.... Some of the [vaccine] compounds in development are supposed to latch onto the spike or interrupt its action. If they were designed based on the original version of the spike, they might not be effective against the new coronavirus strain... Although the researchers don’t yet know the details about how the mutated spike behaves inside the body, it’s clearly doing something that gives it an evolutionary advantage over its predecessor and is fueling its rapid spread. One scientist called it a 'classic case of Darwinian evolution.'"

From "A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says" (L.A. Times reports).

"And just two men, locked in a hut for six months of dark and cold, would probably kill each other, he concluded."

"So it would have to be one person alone. As the leader of the expedition, he felt obliged to assign himself to the job.... Once the sun set, on April 12, he would be stuck. No plane could fly in again until the sun returned in October.... Byrd at first took comfort in his routine of weather observations and in constantly rearranging his supply closets.... His cabin was buried in the snow, to present a low profile to the wind; the only way out was through a hatch in the roof.... On the page, Byrd’s voice cries out like the merciless Antarctic wind. He sits in his sleeping bag playing solitaire. He bangs around in the dark, fetching food and fuel from his storage tunnels.... He registers the ice crawling up the inside walls of his cabin, and the drifts of snow that cover him whenever he manages to lift the hatch to peer out at the weather and tend his instruments. Weakened by the carbon-monoxide fumes from his stove, he throws up most of his food. He stares at sleeping pills and wonders if he should take them. 'The dark side of man’s mind seems to be a sort of antenna tuned to catch gloomy thoughts from all directions,' he wrote of a particularly bitter day early in June. 'I found it so with mine.'"

From "Self-Isolated at the End of the World/Alone in the long Antarctic night, Adm. Richard E. Byrd endured the ultimate in social distancing" (NYT).

"Melville’s ever-philosophical narrator, Ishmael, asks: 'Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that.'"

"From a world he experienced as spherical from atop ships’ masts, Melville perceived a sea-level humanity, embracing and celebrating the latitudes and longitudes of human variation, now termed diversity. When Ishmael finds himself compelled to share a blanket at the sold-out Spouter Inn, he declares, 'No man prefers to sleep two in a bed.' But he settles in, waiting for his mysterious South Seas roommate who, he’s informed, is peddling a shrunken head on the streets of New Bedford. Queequeg’s appearance terrifies Ishmael mute. But after things equilibrate, Ishmael reconsiders: 'For all his tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal … a human being just as I am. … Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.'... Reflecting on Queequeg’s tatted visage, he concludes: 'Savage though he was, and hideously marred about the face — at least to my taste — his countenance yet had a something in it which was by no means disagreeable. You cannot hide the soul. … Queequeg was George Washington cannibalistically developed.'... Nearly two centuries ago, Melville showed us how easy it is to welcome as our own the touches of others, their equivalent colors, customs and beliefs; their journeys, their transitions. And to remember those who, unwelcomed, suffered. How much could have been avoided, and embraced, had we heeded...."

From "Melville’s Whale Was a Warning We Failed to Heed" (NYT).

An old-looking new ad for a new Jerry Seinfeld special — it caught my eye, so I deem it successful, if creepily weird.

Obviously reminiscent of posters for pop-culture nonsense from the 1960s (but I'm not sure quite what):

ADDED: The reviewer at New York Magazine says the first half is good and the second half is bad. This is from a description of the second half:
He has been married for 19 years, and it is exhausting. “Marriage,” Seinfeld says, “is two people trying to stay together without saying the words ‘I hate you.’” He imagines himself waking up every morning and standing in front of a Jeopardy! podium, trying and failing each day to match his wife’s level of petty animus. “‘I’ll take ‘Details of a Ten-Minute Conversation We Had at Three in the Morning Eight Years Ago,’” he envisions her saying, “and I would like to bet everything I have on that, Alex.” Women are the Übermenschen; men who try to take them on do so foolishly and with no hope of winning....

"Tengujo can be made so thin that, at a certain point, it is too insubstantial for even the most gentle, decorative uses."

"At the width of a couple of kozo fibers, the paper becomes as thin as the wings of a mayfly. Only one use remains then: paper conservation. Trying to aggressively mend a document is risky because long-term chemical and physical effects are highly variable and relatively unknown. 'The more and more I am in this field, I feel that I should do less and less,' Ms. Choi said. So, as far as reinforcement material goes, the thinner the better.... The width of this thinnest tengujo is the same as the diameter of a single kozo fiber: 0.02 millimeters.... Slicing a 3-millimeter strip of Hidaka Washi tengujo with an ethanol-activated adhesive brushed onto one side, Ms. Choi gently covered an imperfection in Pinckney’s yellowing page. With a little push, the papers melted into each other. From a normal reading distance it looked as if nothing had been done, but under close examination you could see tiny strands of kozo gripping onto the ink....."

From "The Thinnest Paper in the World" (NYT).

Kozo is material — stems — from mulberry trees.

Choi is Soyeon Choi, "the head paper conservator at the Yale Center for British Art."

Pinckney is Eliza Pinckney, who was "a prominent American agriculturalist" and who wrote that letter in 1753.

From her Wikipedia article:
Eliza was 16 years old when she became responsible for managing Wappoo Plantation and its twenty slaves, plus supervising overseers at two other Lucas plantations, one inland producing tar and timber, and a 3,000 acres (12 km2) rice plantation on the Waccamaw River. In addition she supervised care for her extremely young sister, as their two brothers were still in school in London. As was customary, she recorded her decisions and experiments by copying letters in a letter book. This letter book is one of the most impressive collections of personal writings of an 18th-century American woman. It gives insight into her mind and into the society of the time.

From Antigua, [her father] Col. Lucas sent Eliza various types of seeds for trial on the plantations. They and other planters were eager to find crops for the uplands that could supplement their cultivation of rice. First, she experimented with ginger, cotton, alfalfa and hemp. Starting in 1739, she began experimenting with cultivating and improving strains of the indigo plant, for which the expanding textile market created demand for its dye. When Col. Lucas sent Eliza indigofera seeds in 1740, she expressed her "greater hopes" for them, as she intended to plant them earlier in the season. In experimenting with growing indigo in new climate and soil, Lucas also made use of knowledge and skills of enslaved Africans who had grown indigo in the West Indies and West Africa.

After three years of persistence and many failed attempts, Eliza proved that indigo could be successfully grown and processed in South Carolina. While she had first worked with an indigo processing expert from Montserrat, she was most successful in processing dye with the expertise of an indigo-maker of African descent whom her father hired from the French West Indies.

Eliza used her 1744 crop to make seed and shared it with other planters, leading to an expansion in indigo production. She proved that colonial planters could make a profit in an extremely competitive market. Due to her successes, the volume of indigo dye exported increased dramatically from 5,000 pounds in 1745–46, to 130,000 pounds by 1748.[4] Indigo became second only to rice as the South Carolina colony's commodity cash crop, and contributed greatly to the wealth of its planters. Before the Revolutionary War, indigo accounted for more than one-third of the total value of exports from the colony....

This letter book is one of the most complete collections of writing from 18th century America and provides a valuable glimpse into the life of an elite colonial woman living during this time period. Her writings detail goings on at the plantations, her pastimes, social visits, and even her experiments with indigo over several years. Many scholars consider this letter-book extremely precious because it describes everyday life over an extended period of time rather than a singular event in history....
There's a Pinckney Street in Madison, Wisconsin because of her son, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who was one of the founders of the United States Constitution.

You can read some excerpts from Eliza Pinckney's letter book here. Example (from May 1742):
Wont you laugh at me if I tell you I am so busey in providing for Posterity I hardly allow my self time to Eat or sleep and can but just snatch a minnet to write you and a friend or two now. I am making a large plantation of Oaks which I look upon as my own property, whether my father gives me the land or not; and therefore I design many years hence when oaks are more valueable than they are now — which you know they will be when we come to build fleets.  I intend, I say 2 thirds of the produce of my oaks for a charity (I'll let you know my scheme another time) and the other 3rd for those that shall have the trouble of putting my design in Execution. I sopose according to custom you will show this to your Uncle and Aunt. “She is [a] good girl,” says Mrs. Pinckney. “She is never Idle and always means well.” “Tell the little Visionary,” says your Uncle, “come to town and partake of some of the amusements suitable to her time of life.” Pray tell him I think these so, and what he may now think whims and projects may turn out well by and by. Out of many surely one may hitt. . .

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night... and do any shopping you might have through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The photo was taken at 5:48 this morning. The actual sunrise time was 5:46. Should I give you the 5:44 photograph too, so you can see what I was getting when Meade took this photo of me? Okay. Here:


Isn't it interesting how much the clouds reconfigured themselves in 4 minutes? They're really not as different as it may look, because the top photo is zoomed in.


Ha. Not looking to call down the PC police, but this is just something else about the lockdown and the bookshelves, from Roz Chast:

That's the one Philip K. Dick book that I read, loved, and found to be sufficient: "The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch."