Wednesday: Hili dialogue

November 11, 2020 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Wednesday: the Cruelest Day, November 11, 2020. It’s National Sundae Day, which would be more appropriate on a Sunday. It’s also Origami Day, World Orphans Day.

It’s also Veteran’s Day: the 102nd anniversary of the Armistice of World War I. Google commemorates that with a Doodle (click on screenshot).  It’s a federal holiday, which means my life doesn’t change at all except I don’t get mail.

The Doodle above was constructed by Jenn Hassin (an Air Force veteran) from actual military uniforms (it does read “Google”):

Specifically, the Doodle is made from ten different uniforms of varying age from multiple branches of the US military including the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. These uniforms were deconstructed and made into a kind of paper, then ultimately rolled and arranged in the way you see it today.

Jenn Hassin, the Doodle’s artist and an Air Force veteran herself, is featured in an interview on the Doodle Blog where she explains the deeper symbolism behind the rolls created from the uniforms.

My artistic process revolves around transformations. For this project, I first transformed military uniforms into soft cotton rag paper, then rolled the paper into spirals as a symbol for life. One aspect of military service that I’ve found is a common thread amongst my peers is that our time in uniform transforms us in one way or another, and I hope that comes across.

Another example of symbolism in this Veterans Day Doodle is in the colors used. Except the patriotic red and white used for the star and stripes, all of the colors used are normal hues of various US military uniforms.

The artist and her creation:

Here’s a summary of the World-War-I-related holidays today:

In Japan, it’s Pocky & Pretz Day. (These are Japanese stick-shaped snacks.)

News of the Day:

The constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is being weighed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Surprisingly, at least to me, the Court’s questions yesterday signaled that the Justices are not eager to overturn the ACA. 

In other news, Franco is still dead, and Trump (now supported by “Secretary of State” Mike Pompeo) is still refusing to concede. This denies Biden access to certain documents, like the President’s daily briefing, that he’d have if Trump condeded

A postal worker in Pennsylvania whose allegations of ballot tampering has been widely cited by Republicans as fraud has admitted that he made up the allegation:

Richard Hopkins’s claim that a postmaster in Erie, Pa., instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day was cited by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William P. Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.

But on Monday, Hopkins, 32, told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee tweeted late Tuesday that the “whistleblower completely RECANTED.”

What does it sound like in the deep sea, and why should we care? The NYT has a good article on the issue, and links to a collection of “Soundcloud” recordings that show it can be damn noisy down there.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 240,241, a big increase of about 1,400 from yesterday’s figure. The world death toll is 1,281,161, a big increase of about 10,600 over yesterday’s report. The second wave is here with a vengeance. 

Stuff that happened on November 11 includes:

Here’s a photo of it, labeled as “Remnant of SN 1572 as seen in X-ray light from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.”

While the original document doesn’t exist, establishing a self-governed colony (under fealty to the British), here’s a transcript by William Bradford:

Here’s a summary of what looks like calculus from Leibniz’s notebooks:

  • 1750 – The F.H.C. Society, also known as the Flat Hat Club, is formed at Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, Virginia. It is the first college fraternity.
  • 1831 – In Jerusalem, Virginia, Nat Turner is hanged after inciting a violent slave uprising.
  • 1880 – Australian bushranger Ned Kelly is hanged at Melbourne Gaol.

Here’s a Wikipedia photo of the brigand with the caption, “Kelly on 10 November 1880, the day before his execution. The photo was taken by renowned photographer Charles Nettleton.”

And here’s a photo taken right after the signing, labeled by Wikipedia as “taken after reaching agreement for the armistice that ended World War I. This is Ferdinand Foch‘s own railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne. Foch’s chief of staff Maxime Weygand is second from left. Third from the left is the senior British representative, Sir Rosslyn Wemyss. Foch is second from the right. On the right is Admiral George Hope.”  Hitler insisted that the same car be used for the surrender of the French to the Germans in June, 1940. The car was later destroyed by the SS.

  • 1923 – Adolf Hitler was arrested in Munich for high treason for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch.
  • 1926 – The United States Numbered Highway System is established.
  • 1930 – Patent number US1781541 is awarded to Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd for their invention, the Einstein refrigerator.
  • 1992 – The General Synod of the Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1493 – Paracelsus, Swiss-German physician, botanist, astrologer, and occultist (d. 1541)
  • 1821 – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and philosopher (d. 1881)

Here’s a photo of Dostoyevsky hanging on the wall of his apartment in St. Petersburg, which I visited in July, 2011. I’m not sure if it’s his autograph, and, if so, a real one rather than a reproduction:

Here’s a nice Vuillard, “Théodore Duret” (1912). The cat is just ok: it has weird eyes.

Omar Bradley, Ike, and Patton in Bastogne, Belgium, 1945. When we lived in Germany, my father drove us to Bastogne just so he could see the place where General McAuliffe said “Nuts” as a response to a German order to surrender during the Battle of the Bulge (1944). (Did he really say “Nüsse”?)

  • 1904 – Alger Hiss, American lawyer and convicted spy (d. 1996)
  • 1922 – Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist, short story writer, and essayist (d. 2007)

Here’s Vonnegut during WWII; he was a prisoner of war, forced to work in a factory making malt syrup for pregnant women, an experience that gave rise to his fantastic book Slaughterhouse-Five”. After the war, he attended the University of Chicago, majoring in anthropology, but didn’t graduate.

  • 1962 – Demi Moore, American actress, director, and producer
  • 1964 – Calista Flockhart, American actress
  • 1974 – Leonardo DiCaprio, American actor and producer

Those who snuffed it on November 11 include:

  • 1831 – Nat Turner, American slave and rebel leader (b. 1800)
  • 1855 – Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, author, and poet (b. 1813)
  • 1880 – Ned Kelly, Australian criminal (b. 1855)
  • 1945 – Jerome Kern, American composer (b. 1885)
  • 1972 – Berry Oakley, American bass player (b. 1948)
  • 2004 – Yasser Arafat, Palestinian engineer and politician, 1st President of the Palestinian National Authority, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1929)

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s evincing her usual pessimism:

Hili: I do not have any doubts.
A: About which subject?
Hili: About everything looking very bad.

In Polish:

Hili: Nie mam żadnych wątpliwości.
Ja: Na jaki temat?
Hili: Że to wszystko bardzo źle wygląda.

Paulina took some photos of Kitten Kulka, who’s starting (save for her gold eyes) to look more and more like Hili:

From Facebook:

From Jesus of the Day: How to turn your hands into hooves:

From The Fabulous Weird Trotters, we get a handful of Vietnamese Mossy Frogs:

Hillary speaks!

From Ginger K.:

From reader Ken, who says “Jesus Christ, at least one Trump cabinet  member will do anything to stay on Dear Leader’s good side. Pompeo is a fascist at heart.”

And this first tweet from Matthew reflects Uncle Joe’s view of Pompeo:

Oopsie on this one!

File under “I did not know that” (viz., Johnny Carson)

I’m slowly winding down on Trump-related tweets, as we don’t want to remember the guy, but here are a couple:


76 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

    1. This story in the Post is ridiculous. Its only source for the supposed recantation is tweets from Democratic Committee on Oversight and Reform, and in the fourth paragraph the Post says that the postal worker denied the recantation, but the headline is that he recanted. “Democracy Dies in Darkness” indeed.

      1. Apparently, because he was falsely reported as having “recanted”, the GoFundMe for his legal fees was taken down. Also, he’s been put on unpaid, administrative leave because his actions, in reporting a crime, might put his fellow employees as risk.

    2. Dang, that’s quite the fever-swamp fringe source there, ZeroHedge, with a byline attributed to a character out of the film Fight Club, based on info from the all-time el jefe of the deceptively edited video, James O’Keefe.

    3. Also from the Washinton Post: “Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe on Saturday hailed Hopkins as “an American hero” on Twitter. A GoFundMe page created under Hopkins’s name had raised more than $136,000 by Tuesday evening, with donors praising him as a patriot and whistleblower. The fundraising page was removed by GoFundMe after this story was published Tuesday, a spokesman for the platform said.

      Separately, on Monday Project Veritas announced it was offering a “$25,000 reward” for “first hand election fraud tips in Pennsylvania.” Late Tuesday, O’Keefe claimed to have recordings of agents questioning Hopkins and said that he was pressured to sign a document he did not understand.”

      1. You may remember O’Keefe from the ACORN sting video. From Wiki: “Settlement was “O’Keefe agreed to pay $100,000 to former California ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera for breaking state law prohibiting surreptitious recording, and acknowledged in the settlement that at the time he published his video he was unaware that Vera had notified the police about the incident.”

    4. As the Daily Beast has it, the story “just keeps getting weirder and weirder.” Yesterday, I also heard about a story that I can’t find now, except on the website of an outfit called “VLAD TV (obviously, an impeccable source),” the report stated that Hopkins said he’d been paid 130K by Republican donors to lie.

  1. Surprisingly, at least to me, the Court’s questions yesterday signaled that the Justices are not eager to overturn the ACA.

    For what it’s worth (probably not much): I vaguely recall reading some legal op-ed about the Supreme Court that basically said ‘the oral questions are not a good predictor of how they rule’.

    I do think however that we may see a number of pragmatic vs. idealistic conflicts come out between the right members of the court. The pragmatics (Roberts…Gorsuch??) not wanting to screw the court’s reputation or the GOP’s political future by instituting some right-wing notion that drastically overturns precedent or which they know is going to be extremely unpopular, with the idealists (Thomas, Alito?) not caring about the consequences.

    1. With respect to you and Prof. Coyne, there was never a realistic chance of the ACA being “overturned.” To oversimplify, the issue is whether, if one aspect of the ACA (specifically, the individual mandate) is unconstitutional, must the entire ACA be invalidated, or can the unconstitutional aspect be “severed” while the remainder of the law is left intact?

      An overwhelming majority of commentators across the political spectrum believes that the provision at issue is severable. Indeed, some of those most strongly opposed to the ACA on constitutional grounds have taken this view. The idea that the ACA was at risk of being overturned seems to me to have been an idea created to whip people into a frenzy during the recent judicial confirmation process.

      Incidentally, because the individual mandate is not currently enforced, holding the mandate unconstitutional would not appear to have any effect on the law.

      1. The idea that the ACA was at risk of being overturned seems to me to have been an idea created to whip people into a frenzy during the recent judicial confirmation process.

        At the behest of several Republican state attorneys general, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the ACA on the grounds argued yesterday before the Supreme Court, and the Trump administration filed briefs with SCOTUS in support of the Fifth Circuit’s decision to invalidate the ACA. That’s where the idea that the ACA is at risk comes from.

        That said, I think that SCOTUS, even with its current right-wing composition, will decline to invalidate Obamacare — on either the “standing” issue or on the issue of “severability” — though I doubt the Court’s decision will be unanimous, as it should be.

  2. I believe the supreme court made it clear they are not overthrowing anything – With the exception of one baby psychopath.

  3. Watching Pompeo’s answer in full it looks like he was making a lame joke, but Trump has no sense of humo(u)r so tweeted approvingly.

      1. Pardon for what? I think he was a terrible Sec of State, but AFAIK there’s been no rumblings of him doing anything that would bypass the standard government immunity and put him in jail.

        I think it’s much more likely he’s eyeing some Kansas elected position, and this is his way of catering to the Trump vote in his home state.

        1. If nothing else, a pardon for being the poorest excuse for a Secretary of State in history. His actions on behalf of Trump in Ukraine would be enough to get him run out of most states in this country. Kansas may still have a place for this gas bag, dog catcher maybe.

        2. Pompeo is nothing if not ambitious. It’s pretty clear he fancies himself presidential timber. He’s also a dedicated believer in kissing up and kicking down.

          Like everyone else eyeing a future in Republican politics, he fears alienating the dead-enders in Trump’s base.

    1. I took it as a joke too, but one definitely in poor taste. He also had a chance to support decency by declaring Biden the winner but we know he’s not going to do that with Trump watching.

      1. If he were a standup comedian, the joke would be “in poor taste”. Since he’s the secretary of state of the US, it’s grossly inappropriate. He’s playing games at the podium while DT searches for more ways to disrupt the transition, which gives foreign governments reason to question the sanity of the government. That’s not just poor taste. Putin is giggling over it, you can be sure.

    2. Heaven forfend that Republican officeholders should act as responsible public servants rather than sycophantic courtiers whose job it is to humor the mad king in the hope he’ll be able to process his defeat before he has to move out of the White House.

        1. To date, to the best of my knowledge, just four of 53 sitting GOP US senators — Romney, Murkowski, Collins, and Sasse — and a handful of sitting Republicans in the House of Representatives have offered congratulations to Biden and Harris.

          The rest remain in mortal fear of the mad king’s wrath. I can think of no precedent for such a pitiful showing by an opposing party in modern US history.

      1. I’m genuinely shocked, not to mention, repulsed and horrified, that so many Republican politicians are tRumping his rump, even as his Ship of State capsizes dramatically — those rats ain’t leaving, they’re going down with the ship. They fight to get in line to osculate his rump, as PCC(E)has it, and as soon as their turn is up, they rush to the back of the line to queue up for more they’re proud of it. People complain at the foul way he treated Martha McSally. What was her response: she jumped to it and said “Thank you, Mister President”! She may have been a fighter pilot, but her sycophantic behavior is a disgrace to the female sex. The depth and breadth of these Republicans’ corruption is stunning, and what makes it even worse is that they boast about it, it’s a badge of honor. I do not understand that at all.

        1. I think of it as how worthless modern politics in this county have become. And currently Biden is ahead by more than 5 million votes. Half the states in this country do not even have 5 million people, let alone 5 million voters. Biden won so big in California it is a joke.

          1. I think you folks may be missing the forest for the trees. Sure some of them are lick-spittle toadies but many are not. Many see what (I guarantee) that the Democrats don’t; the Republican party did very well in this election. Those folks aren’t sucking up to a tinpot who’s lost touch with reality, they are looking to their own electoral future and see that they have a base they don’t want to alienate. IOW, many are remaining silent because they did very well in this election and there will be another in two years.

            1. In what exact sense is it significant whether one is a sycophant for a tin pot wanna be dictator for it’s own sake or if one is a sycophant on behalf of a set of voters who would prefer that the country be run by a tin pot dictator?

              In what world is a sycophant, direct or indirect, not looking out for their own selfish needs?

              1. Are you suggesting that I don’t understand that different people are driven by different motives which ultimately have the same effect?

                It seems a weird point to make. I would have thought you’d go after me for the crack at the Democrats rather than this one.

              2. I find it weird that you think it matters that Republicans who are selling out the electoral process are doing it because they want to keep in the good graces of profoundly anti-democratic (small “d”) voters.

              3. You are welcome to your opinion of me. I don’t care.

                But I have a question for you, as a Democrat (big “D”). It is my prediction that your party will not recognize that the Republicans actually did quite well in this election and will double down on the reasons why.

                Do you, as a party member, see the danger that the Republicans’ strong showing in this election presents to the Democrat’s future hopes?

              4. “…that your party will not recognize that the Republicans actually did quite well in this election”

                I’m not sure what authority you have for whaat “my” party thinks, but many Democrats have expressed concern that the Republicans did as well as they did. I’m among them.

                Sorry to disappoint you.

              5. There is simply no reason to come at me like this GBJames. It is difficult to get exact meaning across in this kind of extemporaneous commentary so a little charity in reading goes a long way.

                I claimed NO authority. I stated an opinion, a prediction. And why in the world would I be disappointed that you recognize the danger in how well the Republicans performed?

              6. I assumed disappointment that your predicted characterization turns out to be wrong.

                But I’ll stop now, in the interest of abiding by Da Roolz. Apologies if disrespect was taken.

            2. Yes, I agree. Dems hope that these GOP politicians state unequivocally that Biden won but they’ve shown repeatedly that they value party and their own careers over country and what’s ethical and right. Once we acknowledge this, what’s really in it for them? It’s a bit unreasonable to expect them to say anything about the opposition party winning while there is any controversy over the results, regardless of how flimsy the case might be. The only reason for them to come out for Biden is if they perceive that it helps them rise from the ashes of the GOP. That doesn’t sound like a good bet to me.

              1. “…what’s really in it for them?”

                I don’t know… maybe demonstrating that they put their country’s democratic institutions above the interests of their insane party base? Possibly encouraging stability of national institutions so that the next time they win a coup doesn’t happen in the other direction?

                Just initial thoughts, of course.

    1. Seeking revenge on a Defense Department that failed to support him enthusiastically when he wanted to use soldiers as riot police.

      Some people have suggested that this is part of the preparations for a coup, but I just think it’s the Toddler in Chief lashing out.

      1. Hmmm, mixed thoughts about this.

        First, with the exception of Esper, a bunch of the old guard retired, they weren’t fired. The simultenaeity might be a gesture of support for Esper (IIRC, that happened in the FBI too), or a gesture of disapproval of Trump, not evidence of Trump ‘cleaning house’. Lots of people leave at a change of administration; the only unusual thing is that a bunch of them left on the same day. Trump then simply takes advantage of this to reward loyalists (see below). But, that’s probably overly optimistic.

        Second thought: if it IS Trump cleaning house, then I agree, there’s no deep plan here, it’s just spite.

        Third thought: he’s rewarding loyalists just to signal to others that he does that. The appointee gets to put the new high office on their resume forever, even if they’re only in the position for a couple months, meanwhile when Trump tries to buy someone else in the future, he can point to these folks and say “see? I take care of my supporters.”

        1. Their exit is not unrelated to Esper being fired.

          Trump doesn’t take care of supporters unless there is something in it for him.

    2. Aides who can’t tell a hotel from a landscaping business probably aren’t capable of even a chicken “coop.”

      1. You got it. Before any of the Trump appointees could do anything they would have to find a brain. The people in the military did their oath to the constitution, not some president.

    3. Most likely needs toadies to agree to whatever he needs to pay off his debts….at least that’s the Mooch’s take. Still dangerously coup like.

  4. “The US has hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalisations and surpassed 1 million new confirmed cases in just the first 10 days of November.

    Infections are now running at all-time highs of well over 100,000 per day, pushing the total to more than 10 million and eclipsing 1 million since Halloween.

    There are now 61,964 people hospitalised, according to the Covid Tracking Project.”

    Biden can’t start work too soon…

  5. The good news is tRUMP is now too lame/inept/irrelevant in most other leader’s eyes to start WW III. The bad news is Pompeo: “Here, hold my latest book about the Book of Revelationzzz…”

  6. Re. Veterans Day, talking with an old pal (now 77y/o) who was a SeaBee in VietNam – altho we exchanged letters at the time he was there, the subject rarely comes up in conversation. And so it was a real surprise to me when something about WWII veterans came up and he said “Fuck those guys.” It seems that at some point after he got back, he went to a VFW hall, expecting some form of favorable reception but instead got a complete cold shoulder, and until recently it has been that way in every one he’s ever been in.

    A hell of a situation to be ostracized on one side, by the general public who act like you started the war, and then on the inside by what one might think would be your brothers-in-arms.

    Anyone else ever hear anything along these lines?

    1. I have not but then, I never officially joined any veteran’s organization. When in college I joined a veteran’s club or whatever they called it but it was strictly vets from the Vietnam era. I only did it for the ability to get cheep books and a few beers. I would say that was a very strange experience to get from other vets.

  7. Pompeo may not have just been whistling Dixie. There are speculations that there is method to the madness…

    The argument goes like this:

    States with Republican Houses can refuse to certify election results because of fraud allegations, and can elect their own Electors who will disregard the popular vote and instead vote for Trump at the Electoral College.

    Notice how Pompeo stressed a 2nd Trump administration would be accomplished legally? He also specifically mentioned the Electoral College.

    I have no idea if any of this is indeed legal, but David Sirota believes it might be.

    1. I dunno, Pennsylvania has pretty much an all-republican state government but all the public announcements coming out of it seem to be State officials telling everyone the suits are baseless, the count is legit.

      There seems to be some conflict here between the national party’s interest in seeing Trump reelected, and state party interests in running their own business (and being viewed as legitimate in the eyes of their state constituents).

      I guess we shall see. I certainly hope your scenario doesn’t come to pass.

      1. Trump’s arm-twisting has yet to begin. If he’s going to do it, it will be after his court cases have worked (or not) to convince the faithful that his election has been stolen, but before states certify their results. My guess is that he will fail to make a strong enough case and he will stop short of twisting their arms.

    2. Pompeo’s comment was deeply disturbing and irresponsible, and I’m concerned that Trumpists will indeed move to seat a different slate of electors. They have demonstrated repeatedly that they will sink to any depth and advance any form of disinformation to justify their hold on power. Trumpists and their GOP enablers are simply incapable of acting in good faith or advancing democratic ideals.

    3. Yes, a similar interpretation can be made to Barr’s recent statement. They have perfected the art of saying something we would agree with but only if we ignore the context in which it is being made.

      As far as states refusing to certify election results and sending hand-picked electors is concerned, I also think it is legal. However, doing something like this with no evidence would be political suicide. Of course, we know that Trump would be twisting their other arms and might win the argument. Would SCOTUS come to Biden’s rescue? I suspect they would not as it is a state issue.

    4. Yes I’ve heard the same. There is nothing to say the Electors must vote as they are supposed to. It will be interesting if they pull this because who will the rest of the world recognize as the leader? Will Trump be considered an illegitimate leader? What does that usually mean for a state?

      1. If that happened, other countries and non-Trumpian news sources would undoubtedly call it a coup, and be correct in doing so. My only doubt is that “coup” implies replacement of an existing power with a new one, whereas this situation is a bit different.

        1. But it would be very strange for allies of the US. The ones who have already congratulated Biden are still having to deal with the US with an illegitimate leader (with a large military & nuclear arsenal).

          1. I think our allies would have to deal with us as if we had just had a successful coup and the elected government had been thrown out of office. Some (most? all?) might refuse to deal with Trump, at least until the battle subsided here in the US. Perhaps some would formally cut ties.

          2. It is worth noting that because of tRump’s childish nature, and the sycophants who populate his administration, the congratulations from abroad are not going through the State Department, which is the normal order of business.

              1. No. It is worse than that. Because tRump’s head of the General Services Administration refuses to recognize the results of the election, normal transition can’t begin. So… no access to Presidential Daily Briefs, no access to State Department communication protocols, etc., etc.

  8. Kulka is a fine young cat now, so agile and alert. If you got two more cats, you should name them Fran and Ollie. (If you don’t know the reference, there used to be a puppet show on US TV in the 1950s, called Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. Just reverse the “l” and second “k” and there is Kulka.

    Those Vietnamese moss frogs are incredibly cool.

    Duret’s cat looks cross-eyed. I’ve had a couple of cross-eyed cats.

    1. I got a kick out of that video too. The raccoons were surprisingly orderly. They came forward one-by-one and, once they got their hot dog, retreated a respectful distance to eat it. No squabbling either. Though I guess one had to pull at his shoulder to get his attention.

  9. The ass-kissing continues because they have their eyes on the In Georgia and they need the sycophants to hold the line. The naked power grab and the machinations by the incumbent’s posse are sickening.

  10. 11 November y2020 = at when Two ( Mr Trump and
    Mr Pence ) ” suckers and losers ” upon Veterans’ Day
    and themselves as Two Huge Hypocrites with a bigass wreath
    boogie on over to the graveyard of Arlington National Cemetary.

    And p r e t e n d One Whit … … to care.


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