Sunday: Hili dialogue

July 17, 2022 • 6:30 am

Good morning at the week’s end—actually the beginning, but we can pretend. It’s Sunday, July 17, 2022: National Peach Ice-Cream Day, though I’m not sure why they put a hyphen in “Ice-Cream”.  It’s also National Ice Cream Day (period), National Tattoo Day, World Day for International Justice, World Emoji Day, and  International Firgun Day. What is “Firgun”? Wikipedia explains:

Firgun (Hebrew: פירגון) is an informal modern Hebrew term and concept in Israeli culture, which compliments someone or describes genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other person. Another definition describes firgun as a generosity of spirit, an unselfish, empathetic joy that something good has happened, or might happen, to another person. The concept does not have a one-word equivalent in English.

Today is the day when you’re supposed to “share compliments or express genuine pride in the accomplishment of others on social media.” Well, that is very rare, but here is a tweet I’ve issued extolling Dr. Cobb as my firgun for today. You should do it too: pick someone and call attention to your pride in them. I appoint all readers Honorary Jews® for today.

Stuff that happened on July 17 includes:

Here’s a group I love, the English Concert (I’m not sure if it still exists), performing the overture of Handel’s great composition, written at the request of the King.

  • 1821 – The Kingdom of Spain cedes the territory of Florida to the United States.
  • 1850 – Vega became the first star (other than the Sun) to be photographed.

Here’s that first photo of Vega as it appears on the website Secrets of the Universe, some info, and then the telescope that was used:

The first photo of Vega was also taken using this technique. The exposure time was 20 minutes. So on July 17, 1850, William Bond and John Adams Whipple imaged Vega. John Adams Whipple was a photographer and American inventor, completely unrelated to astronomy, and William Bond was the first director of the Harvard Observatory. The telescope in the picture is a 15-inch (38 cm) refractor.

  • 1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.

Actually, he created the schematic drawings for one on this day, which I suppose is “creation.” Here’s Carrier with an early air conditioner, and of course his company is still the name in air conditioners:

Once again, here is a video of the execution and its precursors, which I show because it was such a horrible event. Don’t watch it if you don’t want to see slaughter.

  • 1938 – Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn to fly the “wrong way” to Ireland and becomes known as “Wrong Way” Corrigan.

Corrigan wasn’t authorized to fly across the Atlantic, filed a flight plan to go to California, and then went to Ireland, later admitting it was a deliberate ruse.  He made it! Here he is, along with a backwards headline from the New York Post on August 5, when he returned to the U.S., bringing his plane back by ship (third photo)

Douglas Groce Corrigan poses beside the Curtiss J-1 Robin in which he flew across the Atlantic from New York to Ireland on July 18, 1938. ( © Museum of Flight/Corbis via Getty Images)

Here are the Big Three. By this time Roosevelt had died of a cerebral hemorrhage and Truman had taken over as President.

  • 1955 – Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.

Here’s a short video of the opening ceremony. Note that Mickey was still neotenic in those days.

  • 1976 – The opening of the Summer Olympics in Montreal is marred by 25 African teams boycotting the games because of New Zealand’s participation. Contrary to rulings by other international sports organizations, the IOC had declined to exclude New Zealand because of their participation in South African sporting events during apartheid
  • 1984 – The national drinking age in the United States was changed from 18 to 21.
  • 1989 – First flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.

Here’s a video about this amazing plane:

 

Da Nooz:

*Joe Manchin’s repeated toying with the Democratic party and the leaders of the Senate has left Biden mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it any more. After scuttling Biden’s climate and “build back better agenda”, Manchin has been cast into perdition. That is, Biden’s given up on trying to compromise to secure Manchin the Third’s vote.

Rather than engage in another round of will-he-or-won’t-he negotiations with Mr. Manchin, Mr. Biden let it be known that he was done trying to secure his climate agenda in Congress.

Mr. Manchin’s abrupt withdrawal left Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, jilted after months of courting a colleague whose demands and red lines seemed to shift by the day, or the latest economic projection. And it prodded many Democrats into open revolt against Mr. Manchin, blaming him for the demise of their ambitions and the last chance for their party to tackle the existential threat of climate change.

Mr. Manchin, said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, “has shown that he doesn’t know how to close a deal — or he doesn’t want to close a deal — and that you can’t trust him.”

For more than a year, Mr. Manchin, who at 74 is serving his third term in the Senate, has been situated exactly where he prefers to be: at the center of a high-stakes political and policy negotiation, with attention and speculation focused on him.

*Leah Stokes, a political science professor at UC Santa Barbara, savages Manchin in an NYT op-ed column called “What Joe Manchin cost us.” What he cost us, she says, is no less than the chance to reverse anthropogenic climate change.  In fact, she accuses him of “torching the climate”.

Since early 2021, congressional Democrats and President Biden have worked relentlessly to negotiate a climate policy package. When Build Back Better passed the House last fall, it included $555 billion in clean energy and climate investments. After four decades of gridlock in Congress, the Democrats were poised to finally pass a major climate bill, with agreement from 49 senators. But yesterday, one man torched the deal, and with it the climate: Mr. Manchin.

By stringing his colleagues along, Mr. Manchin didn’t just waste legislators’ time. He also delayed crucial regulations that would cut carbon pollution. Wary of upsetting the delicate negotiations, the Biden administration has held back on using the full force of its executive authority on climate over the past 18 months, likely in hopes of securing legislation first.

The stakes of delay could not be higher. Last summer, while the climate negotiations dragged on, record-breaking heat waves killed hundreds of Americans. Hurricanes, wildfires and floods pummeled the country from coast to coast. Over the last 10 years, the largest climate and weather disasters have cost Americans more than a trillion dollars — far more than the Democrats had hoped to spend to stop the climate crisis. With each year we delay, the climate impacts keep growing. We do not have another month, let alone another year or decade, to wait for Mr. Manchin to negotiate in good faith.

I wonder if historians of the future, all living in Canada and Patagonia since everything else is burned up or inundated, will see Manchin as the linchpin of a movement that stopped the climate-change movement cold.

*Speaking of the New York Times, it’s just started new weekend opinion section called “Sunday Opinion.” Nothing much has changed in terms of the regular Sunday op-ed writers, but there are new features as well, as Opinion Editor Kathleen Kingsbury describes:

Sunday Opinion also has several new regular features that we hope will make the section even more surprising and enlightening. Each of them has been conceived with an eye toward Opinion’s goal of creating a platform for ideas and conversation, where people from all backgrounds can see themselves meaningfully represented while encountering opinions that may complicate their thinking.

That sounds both woke and anti-woke. We shall see. “Complicate their thinking”, though, is lame. “Challenge their thinking would be more straightforward.” She goes on:

Twice a month, the section will present our America in Focus series, in which Times editors ask groups of Americans to share their views on life, society, politics and more. The series has already convened independent voters on the direction of the country, parents on what they want their kids to learn in school about race and racism, and millennials on work and the Great Resignation, among others, and I’m excited to see where it goes as we head into the U.S. midterm election season. This week we gathered 10 pro-abortion-rights Americans and 12 anti-abortion Americans and asked them about pregnancy, abortion and the decision that overturned Roe.

That’s long-form Twitter.

Once a month, the back page of the section will be devoted to a longer piece of first-person writing. Along with Opinion’s newest podcast, “First Person,” this signals our commitment to going beyond broad trends and demographics to explore how people’s opinions and ideas are shaped by their individual experiences. The essays will be grouped in limited-run series, and first up is Fortunes, a series on the psychology of class. (You can read more about it in this note from our Sunday Opinion editor, Rachel Poser.)

Rounding out our roster of new features are Witness (portraits of people whose lives have intersected with national events) and Footnotes (recommendations of things to read, listen to and watch that provide context for the news of the week). .

*Reader Ken has some news for us:

The public library in rural Vinton, Iowa, which opened in 1904. was driven to shutter its doors on July 8th after right-wing activists whipped up controversy over its display of books about prominent Democrats and LGBTQ subjects and its having LGBTQ folks on staff.

The Left is not the only censorious ideology—far from it.

*If you want to get slightly ill, Andrew Sullivan has put his toe back in Republican territory with his Friday column, “The DeSantis dilemma,” devoted to arguing that electing Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis is the only way to prevent Trump from being reelected. His thesis is that the Democrats have no viable candidates, including Biden, and so DeSantis, who according to Sullivan has many admirable qualities (he’s a “family man”, for example), is supposedly the sensible Republican who keeps Trump out of the White House:

The Democrats, meanwhile, appear to have run out of fake “moderate” candidates, are doubling down on every woke mantra, presiding over levels of inflation that are devastating real incomes, launching a protracted war that may tip us into stagflation, and opening the borders to millions more illegal immigrants. They are hemorrhaging Latino support, and intensifying their identity as upper-class white woke scolds. And a Biden campaign in 2024 would be, let’s be honest, “Weekend At Bernie’s II.”

So get real: If you really believe that Trump remains a unique threat to constitutional democracy in America, you need to consider the possibility that, at this point, a Republican is probably your best bet.

One stands out, and it’s Ron DeSantis, the popular governor of Florida.

Granted, Sullivan recognizes that some of DeSantis’s policies are odious, but he’s the best of a bad lot:

. . . I’m deeply uncomfortable with much of this.

But how different is it really from the Biden administration rigging Title IX to impose trans ideology and end due process for the accused in schools and colleges? Or from the federal government mandating active race and sex discrimination for the sake of “equity”? Or trying to ban any mental health therapy for gender-dysphoric kids that doesn’t instantly affirm the self-proclaimed gender of a child? Or proposing vaccine distribution by race? Or imposing mask mandates and lockdowns with a fervor that lasted far beyond the need to control the first and second waves — and that were instantly and conveniently waived when BLM arrived on the scene?

As a registered Democrat, I will not be voting in any Repubican primaries, so I don’t have a say in whether DeSantis will get the GOP nod as Presidential candidate. But if he does, I don’t think I could bear to vote for him in the final election. For chrissake, Mayor Pete or Amy Klobuchar are much better, and we should vote for the candidate we most want, not one that can keep Donald Trump from regaining the White House. But perhaps readers disagree with me. Maybe we should vote tactically rather than ideologically.

*From Inside Higher Ed, which is somewhat paywalled, we have this report about “streamlined” (i.e., hidden) reporting of data.

The College Board will no longer make public data on race and the scores of those who take Advanced Placement exams.

The change was first noted by Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost for enrollment management at Oregon State University, who wrote on Twitter that the change was “the most 1984-esque example of College Board-speak I’ve seen in a while” because the College Board says “withholding data is now called ‘streamlined reporting.’”

Jaslee Carayol, director of communications at the College Board, said the data are available to some. “AP provides demographic data to schools, districts, and state departments of education. Schools and districts have already received their AP data for the 2022 AP Exam Administration and, later this month, AP data will be delivered to state departments of education. Researchers who would like access to AP data can make requests via online form,” she said.

The data from 2018 show that Asian students excelled on the exams in biology, calculus (advanced), computer science, English language and composition, and U.S. history.

As the tweet below indicates, the data used to be public, but are now hidden except from those who want to use them to practice differential admissions.

*Finally, I just saw this ad for a pain-relieving patch on the NBC Evening News.  It is SO phony that it makes me wonder what the ad guys were thinking. Three doctors are having lunch in the hospital in their spotless white lab coats (their food in undentifiable, but is undoubtedly healthy and in small portions), and they have a conversation about pain relief. And one of them just happens to have a box of Salonpas patches with him to show the others. Which one of the “licensed medical doctors” put the Salonpas box on the table? And the conversation is so stilted! Why even pretend this is a spontaneous discussion? Get off of my lawn!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili objects to having her picture taken if Kukla’s in it

Hili: You will have to trim this picture.
A: Why?
Hili: There is a superfluous detail
In Polish:
Hili: To zdjęcie będziesz musiał przyciąć.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Tam jest jakiś zbędny szczegół.

*****************

From Merilee: Animals, mostly corvids) messing with other animals (source: Quora)

A classic from Gary Larson’s The Far Side. But did he have to make a cat part of the formula for creationism?

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From Merilee; the artist is in the header:

The Tweet of God:

Titiania’s started tweeting again:

A tweet sent by reader Andrée. Damn cats have been a nuisance for over 5 centuries. Or, I could say, “Cats will be cats, and thus it has ever been.”

From Barry, who says, “Emmanuel won’t listen!”

From the Auschwitz Memorial: Renée Kipf was 13 when she went to Auschwitz, the same age as Anne Frank when Frank got the book that became her diary (it was a 13th birthday gift).

Tweets from Matthew. His comment on the first tweeter:

Thomas is a comedian, with an interest in evolutionary biology (which he doesn’t really get ). But this is good

Amanda’s an evolutionary biologist, and I know her. Hi, Amanda!

This is a most excellent tweet, though I might have posted it yesterday (I can’t be arsed to look):

No, she’s not a literal angel because angels don’t exist. She is a caring and wonderful human being—a metaphorical angel, if you will.

40 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue

  1. I name PCC(E) as my Firgun as he expresses loving kindness and selflessness as well as giving credit where credit is due in the platyrinchian dimension – or, in mallard matters.

    Now, how to make wise use of my Honorary Jewishness? I can read some great Jewish folklore and make a matzo ball, I suppose…

  2. Andrew Sullivan’s column disgusts me. He mentions several commentators and scholars that consider DeSantis even more dangerous than Trump because the Florida governor is apparently not a sociopath, but his adherence to democracy is about the same as the former president. Then, Sullivan goes on to brush off these criticisms and asserts that since a Democrat can’t win in 2024 (in reality, it is much too soon to tell), DeSantis isn’t really that bad. Of course, even with Trump gone, DeSantis will take up his mantle (assuming he can even get the Republican nomination) and will adopt all of Trump’s authoritarian policies including accelerating the nation’s descent into theocracy. Let’s also not forget that DeSantis, as any good Republican, will do his best to shred the social safety net. I think also that Sullivan is overly confident that his gay rights wouldn’t be jeopardized by DeSantis. All in all, I think Sullivan is delusional about DeSantis. Even if DeSantis is the next president, it can be argued that the country would be worse off than under another Trump administration. Either Trump or DeSantis – the country is screwed. The choice is whether democracy will die a quick death with a stab through the heart by Trump or a slow, lingering death under DeSantis.

    1. Indeed. DeSantis is a version of Trump who can speak in complete sentences and maintain concentration. It would be Trump 2.0.

    2. Sullivan’s piece sets a new low in Nervous Nellyism. Voting DeSantis is the only way to ensure Trump doesn’t win the 2024 election? Chrissake, according to the most recent polling, even with his abysmal approval ratings, Joe Biden still beats Trump in head-to-head polling by three or four points.

      Could the Republicans really be so stupid as to nominate for a third time a disgraced, twice-impeached character who’s lost the popular vote twice in a row by a combined 10 million votes, especially one who’s likely to be under indictment well before the 2024 primaries get seriously underway — if not by the feds, then by the Fulton County GA district attorney’s office (for his blatant post-electing meddling there)?

      It’s virtually impossible that Donald Trump, who in two tries failed to top the 47% mark (something even Mitt Romney managed to do in 2012) would ever win the popular vote for president. Too many US voters detest the man. Of course, maybe Republicans will bank on Trump’s pulling another electoral-college victory out of his hat despite losing the popular vote. But that’s something that’s been done but five times in this nation’s 59 prior presidential elections, and never twice by the same candidate.

      Plus, if Trump does what I think he’s going to do — announce his candidacy for the GOP nomination before this year’s midterms, in an effort to clear the field for himself — he’s likely to tear the party apart. The vast number of Republican congressional candidates won’t be happy about it, since they’ve had to placate the Trump base to win their primaries, but would much rather turn in the general election to criticizing Biden and fretting over inflation than having to face repeated questioning over whether they support Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination. (Hell, Mitch McConnell is already chewing on his own spleen, given that Trump’s helping nominate three Celebrity-Apprentice-style candidates — Herschel Walker, Dr. Oz, JD Vance — in three key swing US senate elections could cost Mitch the only thing Mitch really cares about: regaining the senate majority leadership.)

      Whatever happens on the Democratic side (and I’m hoping Biden won’t run again, but will be replaced on the ticket by a Buttigieg or a Klobuchar or someone similar), the chances of the 76-year-old Donald Trump ever becoming US president again are remote in the extreme — still too close for comfort, of course, given what an incompetent narcissistic sociopath he is, but remote all the same.

      1. > Could the Republicans really be so stupid as to nominate [Trump] for a third time
        – Sure, as the public loves a celebrity. Hero or Super-Villain, doesn’t matter. Sequels/rematches sell tickets.

        >Plus, if Trump does what I think he’s going to do… he’s likely to tear the party apart. 
        – Wouldn’t bother him in the slightest to take down the party, or the country. And maybe this time he really could become America’s First Dictator.

        Revisit his dramatic reading of his favorite ‘poem’ “The Snake”:
        “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

        And I believe he ad libbed the “damn well.”
        https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=CgUBu1lkOMs

    3. I see no signs that DeSantis won’t go along with the GOP’s “stop the steal” plans if put in a position of power over them. He’s probably just as bad a person as Trump though probably smarter and with more self-control. Sullivan is wrong to support him, though I think it is more about him reasserting his “conservative” identity. He’s basically telling us that he’ll vote GOP as long as Trump isn’t the candidate.

      I will repeat what I’ve been saying about DeSantis. If he becomes the GOP candidate, he will face national scrutiny, and Trump’s if he’s still around. I suspect we’ll start to see big gaps in his “better version of Trump” visage. He also can’t pull off the bombastic Trump demeanor. First, it can’t be repeated. Second, he comes off much nastier than Trump does when he tries it. Trump always has a big shit-eating grin when he delivers his blows that brings people along with his thinking. DeSantis just doesn’t have those chops.

  3. I saw some political genius suggest that Manchin be stripped of his committee chairmanship (Energy). We’d see the Senate flip Republican as quickly as he could walk across the aisle to get his chairmanship back.

    1. Stripping party members of committee chairmanships based on policy positions isn’t something Democrats do; it’s something Republicans do — just ask Liz Cheney, who was stripped of her position as House Republican Caucus chair for refusing to blind herself to what every other Republican with so much as a scintilla of sanity knows to be true (even if they’re too pusillanimous to admit it in public): that Donald attempted to pull a post-election coup.

  4. The English Concert still exists, and they still make recordings and give live performances, but Trevor Pinnock passed the directorship to Andrew Manze almost twenty years ago, and he was succeeded by Harry Bicket a few years later. The musicians are from a new generation as well. It is, after all, half a century since the ensemble was founded.

    I have several recordings from the Manze and Bicket years, and I have been to performances led by the latter. They are still good, but (in my personal opinion) they are not the equal of the English Concert in its finest years, the late 1970s to the late 1980s, when Simon Standage was the leader and principal violin. Fortunately, they recorded prolifically during those years, including much of the works of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and the other Baroque greats.

  5. I think future historians will (should) blame voters who voted for Jill Stein in 2016 handing the election to Trump for the climate disaster. Joe Manchin would not be pivotal if Democratic voters went to the polls and voted. There are 50 Republican Senators who voted against the climate agenda.

    1. Yes, Barry, good to remind us that the Senate Republicans as a group are the worst evil. I slightly disagree with you about the importance of the votes gotten by Jill Klein. Let’s look at the bigger picture. Clinton stomped Trump in the popular vote, beating him by approximately 3 million votes. Trump became president because of accidents of geography coupled with our antidemocratic Electoral College. He squeaked by with 80,000 votes scattered among Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Perhaps Klein’s votes may have made a difference in Wisconsin. The most depressing thing about 2016 was the number of eligible voters who did NOT vote. These nonvoters I call the dark matter of USA politics. To be explicit, ~66 million voted for Clinton, ~63 million voted for Trump, and ~70 million did not vote at all. I believe future historians will look back and blame these nonvoters rather than Klein voters. And the Dems have to stop worrying about the irredeemable Trump supporters and try to bring as much of the dark matter into the light as possible.

      1. You are assuming something that is not a foregone conclusion: increasing turnout will help the Democrats. This mantra may be losing whatever validity it once had. Ruy Teixeria is a Democratic strategist, although quite centrist and he hates with a passion that segment of the party that can be called woke. He runs a substack site called The Liberal Patriot. He has several posts in which he warns Democrats that they are losing more Hispanic and white working class voters while solidifying their hold on the college educated. In a recent post he states: “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Democrats’ emphasis on social and democracy issues, while catnip to some socially liberal, educated voters, leaves many working class and Hispanic voters cold. Their concerns are more mundane and economically-driven.”

        If Teixeria’s analysis is correct (I have no reason to doubt it) then the question arises: would an increased turnout largely reflect the views of the white working class and Hispanics that currently vote? If so, increased turnout is likely to hurt Democrats. Democrats need to be careful in what non-voters they target. Curiously, Republican attempts at voter suppression may in aggregate hurt them. So, in a perverse sort of way, non-voters that will now vote in the next presidential election, may unwittingly contribute to the demise of democracy. Unconcerned about democracy, but worried about immediate economic security and the perceived threat to their cultural values, they are easy prey for Republican propaganda. The Democrats, inept politicians that they are, are doing little to counter this disturbing trend.

        https://theliberalpatriot.substack.com/p/working-class-and-hispanic-voters

        1. I, too, follow Teixeira and have agreed with his analysis of the Dems’ woes. I am not assuming or arguing for indiscriminate GOTV. We saw that in the 2020 presidential election, when both sides turned out in record numbers, and Trump received the most number of popular votes than any previous president—except Biden got even more. The Dems must stake a claim to the sensible center and argue for that position. If they do, I think they’ll bring more of the nonvoters back to the polls to vote for them. But, as you say, the Dems are inept politicians, and so their woes, and ours, sad to say, will continue.

          1. Right after I wrote the above, this popped up in my news feed. From the Economist, it’s most likely behind a paywall, sorry.
            Democrats in America are realising they must moderate or die from TheEconomist https://www.economist.com/briefing/2022/07/14/democrats-in-america-are-realising-they-must-moderate-or-die
            Fortunately, the study referenced in the article is not behind a paywall.
            https://www.progressivepolicy.org/publication/the-new-politics-of-evasion%20%5bprogressivepolicy-org%5d/

            1. Thanks for citing the PPI report by Galston and Kamarck. They reveal the myths that many Democrats believe in and could ultimately ruin them. Those myths are:

              1. People of Color Think and Act Alike
              2. Economics Trump Culture
              3. A Progressive Ascendancy is Emerging

              Myth 2 is very important and what I have commented on before: “For Americans across the political spectrum, social, cultural, and religious issues are real and — in many cases — more important to them than economic considerations. These issues reflect their deepest convictions and shape their identity. Economic circumstances do not determine views on guns, abortion, or religion, and attitudes toward immigration reflect deep-seated beliefs about ethnic and national identity.”

              Indeed, the mantra of “it’s the economy stupid” does not always hold at all times. Sometimes, yes, such as during the Great Depression. But, at other times, such as now, economics is not the driving force in determining the votes of a critical portion of the electorate. It seems to me that the geriatric leadership of the Democratic Party is living in the past. If nothing else, the Democrats need a younger leadership. Thanks for your service, Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer, but it’s time you went into retirement.

              1. I’d add Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy to your list. (Sorry, Vermont!) And, speaking of gerontocracy, let’s not forget about Trump and McConnell on the other side.

              2. @StephenB:

                Let’s not forget that fossilized Iowa corncob of a US senator, Chuck Grassley, who will be 89 when he funs for an eighth six-year term in the senate this fall. If he is reelected, and if Republicans regain control of the US senate, Grassley will once again become the senate’s President Pro Tempore — third in line, after the VP and House Speaker, for succession to the US presidency (heaven forfend).

        2. I think some of the appeal of the Republican party for Hispanics is its anti-abortion, and to some extent, anti-LGBT stance, which, of course, is permeated via Catholicism into their culture. Also, there have been many Spanish speaking conservative/hate radio stations that have sprung up in recent years, filling the airwaves with Republican propaganda. There is nothing on the left to counter this (that I’m aware of).

      2. Complaining about the Electoral College is like playing in the World Series under the same best-of-seven rules as your opponent, but then after you lose four games, whining for the next six years that you were robbed because you scored three more runs than they did over the seven games. The winner, obviously, should have been determined by total runs…..or hits, or combined total of strikeouts and double-plays, or whatever other metric you found you did better in.

        Neither campaign cares about chasing the popular vote. They both work to win battleground states by at least 50%+1 and they ignore safe states. Only partisan losers complain the next morning about having “won” the meaningless popular vote. If you don’t like the Electoral College, amend the Constitution. Meanwhile, figure out how to win with it.

        If those 70 million non-voters had been motivated to vote, say, because their votes directly counted—GOP voters mostly stay home in California and New York, Dem voters stay home in West Virginia where Trump won every county—you can’t know they would have split 51% or better for Clinton. Unless you know that those 70 million “dark matter” are heavily Black (and not brown or yellow), you might get a nasty surprise if they ever show up to vote.

        One way to test this hypothesis is to see if voter turnout is higher in states known before Election Day to be battleground states than in safe landslide states. Or let’s use your numbers in a thought experiment. Suppose half of those 70 million who didn’t vote in ‘16 had instead been motivated to vote. If >19 million of those, 54.3%, had voted for Trump, he would have erased Clinton’s popular vote edge.

        Now of course there is no way to predict how or whether those apathetic non-voters would actually have voted had they been arm-twisted. Non-voters exist in enormous numbers in every democracy except where voting is compulsory. American turnout is low by OECD norms but turnout is slipping everywhere. That may turn out to be the biggest story of all.

        1. Complaining about the Electoral College is like playing in the World Series under the same best-of-seven rules as your opponent, but then after you lose four games, whining for the next six years that you were robbed because you scored three more runs than they did over the seven games.

          No, Leslie, it’s much more as though World Series games (and only World Series games) were decided by how many innings a team won — while every other baseball game in the nation, from T-ball to the major league playoffs. is decided by how runs a team scores — all because Abner Doubleday, back in the days before professional umpires and scoreboards, wrote an arcane rule owning to his distrust of the people to keep an accurate score during the national championship game.

          One needn’t be a “sore loser” — or, indeed, on the losing end of an election at all — to comprehend what an illogical, archaic system the electoral college is, and how it flies in the face of the fundamental American principle, which holds true for every other election in this nation, that every citizen’s ballot should be counted equally.

          In any event, if the electoral college is to be kept, the Electoral Count Act should be amended to dispense with all the post-election rigmarole and just call it a number to be awarded to each state’s winner on election night. What possible purpose is served by having anonymous slates of electors travel to each state’s capital to actually cast their votes (or, in the case of Donald Trump’s bogus “alternative” electors, sneak into capitol buildings to cast phony secret votes) on December 14th every four years? And while convening both houses of congress and having the vice-president tabulate the electoral college votes on January 6th each election cycle may have made sense back when the electoral-college votes were transmitted to the nation’s capital by horseback, where the party transporting the votes could by waylaid by highway robbers who would switch the votes, what possible value does this procedure serve today?

          If the last election demonstrated anything, it is how these arcane procedures leave the nation vulnerable to machinations by a corrupt incumbent president intent on stealing an election and thereby undermining American democracy.

          1. Ken, you didn’t rebut my central point which was that the strategy of winning the Presidential election state by state instead of trying to hoover up every single decided voter in Landslide Country is adopted by both parties who know they must try to win an EC majority. Both parties. Only sore losers complain after the fact that we coulda won if the rules had been more indulgent of our strengths. Reforming the Electoral College’s now vulnerable procedures that were necessary in 1791 is beside the point, albeit a good thing to do.

            By all means get rid of the Electoral College if you like, and can. But don’t assume that a binding national popular vote would necessarily elect Democratic Presidents forever just because today’s popular vote, a mere by-product of the state contests, breaks their way more often.

            (FWIW, owing to peculiarities in the Canadian political landscape, a Liberal Party leader can form a government, albeit a minority, with as little as 31% of the popular vote while the Conservatives attract 34-35%. Liberal Party strategists boast that they can get it down to 30% if they really try. Currently it’s about 32:33 in favour of the Tories who have nonetheless many fewer seats in Parliament. Even though the Prime Minister is not directly elected, most Canadian voters vote as if they were voting for or against him personally, not for the nobodies who are running as the leaders’ puppets in their ridings.)

            Do consider that a pure popular vote might go 50.001 vs. 49.999 % simply because politics these days attracts very few good people anywhere who are head-and-shoulders above the rest and can claw their way up to national prominence. For every voter who loves her or her party, one hates her and the rest flip a coin. In a recount, every single polling station across the country would have to be redone, to verify that 3000-vote split, an average of 60 votes in each state. Currently, only the one or two decisive states where a clear victor had not emerged as the count neared completion need scrutiny.

            Lots to think about in the face of intransigent, motivated opposition.

            1. But don’t assume that a binding national popular vote would necessarily elect Democratic Presidents forever just because today’s popular vote, a mere by-product of the state contests, breaks their way more often.

              Not “necessarily elect Democratic Presidents forever,” but Democrats’ having won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections (the only exception being 2004, when George W. Bush was still riding the crest of his post-9/11 popularity before the wave broke and washed back out to sea) certainly lends more support to the idea that the popular vote supports Democrats than to its favoring Republicans — especially when combined with the 50 Democratic US senators’ representing 46.5 million more constituents than do the 50 Republican senators, and with Democrats’ routinely winning millions more total votes in the House of Representatives (even when they lose a majority of seats in that body due to gerrymandering).

              In any event, whether the electoral college favors Democrats or Republicans, I think it an anachronistic, useless institution on principle alone (and said so well before Bush vs. Gore in 2000 — the first US presidential election in over a century in which the popular vote winner lost in the electoral college).

  6. This is the first I’ve heard of Firgun, a lovely virtue I will take to heart. It reminds me of the Indian concept, muditā मुदिता, usually translated as “sympathetic joy.”

    1. Sam Harris explains Metta excercises “loving kindness”, and I recall “sympathetic joy” is in there too.

    2. “Firgun” seems to be the exact opposite of “freudenschade,” feeling a sense of satisfaction over the misfortunes of others. Not only is the first word a nobler emotion, but it’s easier to spell, too.

        1. And “Firgun” is easier to remember, too!

          Curiously, both terms look like they are sometimes given the same meaning, and sometimes “freudenschade” is misery over someone else’s happiness, as opposed to joy over someone else’s distress.. Though you’re right in that “schadenfreude” is the more common, and what I meant to write. I messed up.

          So it’s appropriate to gloat.

  7. Manchin’s first and most important job is maintaining his and his family’s wealth which is based on coal. A distant second priority would be his constituency with no concern at all with the rest of the country or climate.
    Why hasn’t he crossed the isle to join with the like minded?

  8. Jerry, I appreciate that nice post about my father’s Wrong Way flight, but one small correction: I don’t think he ever admitted that he did it on purpose. [“…later admitting it was a deliberate ruse.”] His standard statement was “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.” My brother did say he sort of admitted it to him once. The plane is now on display at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA https://planesoffame.org/aircraft/J-1
    Needs a bit of restoration, delayed somewhat by the coronavirus.

    1. I have never heard of your dad & fail to see why a solo Atlantic flight in 1938 was significant? Is it only because he flew to Ireland instead? Why did he not fly back?

      1. Good questions. I have myself wondered why the reaction from the public. My theory is that we were still in the depression, Amelia Earhart had disappeared over the Pacific a year before, things just weren’t going well. Now something turned out well. Something to celebrate. Plus, it was the little guy, doing it on a shoestring, [I don’t think he spent over $2,000 total], and I wouldn’t doubt that the fact he was “sticking it to the man” [I still have the letter from the CAA refusing him permission to make the flight] helped in the masses eyes. Howard Hughes had made a truly significant achievement just a week before – fastest round-the-world flight – without anywhere the same reaction. But he had the most modern craft and basically unlimited funding, whereas my dad had a nine year old “crate”. As for not flying back: I don’t think the Irish authorities would have let him take off. And the flight east to west across the north Atlantic is a lot tougher than west to east – headwinds vs tailwinds. And the CAA suspended his license for two weeks – turned out that about how long as he spent as guests of the American Ambassadors to Ireland and the UK, plus the boat trip back, lasted. Yes, Joe Kennedy milked it for all it was worth.

  9. Per Amanda’s F*** card, I would just add that the word can also be used in non-transitive-verb word forms, e.g.

    “Are you F***ing kidding me?”

    “Are you F***ing F***ing with me?”

    What a F****ingly flexible word!

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