Saturday: Hili dialogue

April 22, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Cat shabbos: Saturday, April 22, 2023, and National Jelly Bean Day. Remember this?

At least Reagan made one good choice: his favorite brand of jelly beans (which was his favorite treat) was Jelly Belly® beans, which were regularly shipped to him at the White House and also when he was California’s governor. He started the bean habit as a way to give up smoking a pipe.

Herman Goelitz Candy Company provided the Reagan White House with Jelly Belly® jelly beans for all eight years of Reagan’s presidency. In February 1981 Herman G. Rowland, the president of Herman Goelitz and a fourth-generation descendant of the company’s founders, received official Government authorization to develop a Jelly Belly® jelly bean jar with the Presidential Seal on it. These Presidential jars of Jelly Belly® beans, each in its own blue gift box, were given by Reagan to heads of state, diplomats, and many other White House guests.

President Reagan’s favorite Jelly Belly® flavor was licorice.

It’s also Earth Day and its related observance: International Mother Earth Day, celebrated in today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot to go to where it points):

Finally, it’s (oy) In God We Trust Day (“On April 22, 1864, Congress passed an act allowing for “In God We Trust” to begin appearing on U.S. coins), and the National Day of Puppetry.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the April 22 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*UPDATE to item below: Yes, the Supremes decided to allow the abortion pill to remain available while the case works its way through the system.

The Supreme Court said Friday evening that the abortion pill mifepristone would remain widely available for now, delaying the potential for an abrupt end to a drug that is used in more than half of abortions in the United States.

The order halted steps that had sought to curb the availability of mifepristone as an appeal moves forward: a ruling from a federal judge in Texas to suspend the drug from the market entirely and another from an appeals court to impose significant barriers on the pill, including blocking access by mail.

The unsigned, one-paragraph order, which came hours before restrictions were set to take effect, marked the second time in a year that the Supreme Court had considered a major effort to sharply curtail access to abortion. . .

In Friday’s order, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

. . .This is most likely not the final word from the justices. After the Fifth Circuit hears the appeal, the matter is likely to make its way back to the Supreme Court.

None of the justices appointed by President Donald J. Trump publicly dissented.

The court’s decision is, at least temporarily, a victory for the Biden administration.

This split is odd because it was Alito who originally allowed the pill’s distribution to go forward until midnight last night, and now it’s going forward for a while. But this case will wind up in the Supreme Court.

You can see the short formal decision and Alito’s longer dissent here.

What I wrote about this yesterday evening: It looks as if the U.S. Supreme Court is going to weigh in on whether a Texas judge’s blocking of the abortion pill mifepristone (on a national basis, apparently) can be continued. Justice Alito paused the ban at the request of the Biden administration, but that pause ended at midnight last night. This will not be a formal for-all-time ruling, but a temporary ruling. The court may take up the issue later, and it’s a biggie, for it will determine whether the judicial arm of government can rule on whether the FDA used proper science when approving a drug. Here are the some things the article says could happen:

At issue is the availability of mifepristone, part of a two-drug regimen that now accounts for more than half of the abortions in the United States. More than five million women have used mifepristone to terminate their pregnancies in the United States, and dozens of other countries have approved the drug for use.

Federal judges have questioned steps the F.D.A. has taken to expand the drug’s distribution, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, imposed significant barriers to access last week, even as it said that it would allow the pill to remain on the market.

Its decision essentially turns back the clock to 2016, when the F.D.A. added a series of guidelines that eased access to the pill. The restrictions would include blocking patients from receiving the drug by mail.

Experts say removing the mail option would have significant consequences: Patients would have to take time off work, pay travel costs to get to a medical office and endure the stigma of going out in public to seek an abortion.

The case could also pave the way for all sorts of challenges to the F.D.A.’s approval of medications. Legal experts said medical providers anywhere in the country might be enabled to challenge government policy that might affect a patient, as did the anti-abortion medical coalition that filed the original lawsuit against the pill.

If the Supreme Court halts the nationwide distribution of mifepristone, there will be hell to pay, for now the court has arrogated unto itself the right to judge whether drugs were properly tested. Not to mention the outrage of women everywhere, especially in states where the use of the drug is perfectly legal. What will the court do? (I’m writing this on Friday afternoon.) I predict they’ll allow the drug to be distributed until the full court hears the full case. And then, well, anything goes.

*The Washington Post reports that Biden is in trouble with respect to appointing judges, and it’s seemingly the fault of Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic Senator from California. She’s out with shingles and other age-related conditions, and that leaves the Senate Judiciary Committee, which must approve all federal judges nominated by the President,  one Democrat shy of a majority. The result: it’s a party-line deadlock and no judges can be approved.

But Senator Dianne Feinstein’s failing health has frozen the Senate Judiciary Committee, the group that must consider any judicial nominees before the full Senate votes on them. Feinstein, who’s 89 and has represented California since 1992, has been ill with shingles since February. She has also been struggling with her ability to hold conversations and the deterioration of her short term memory for more than a year. It is unclear when she will return to the Senate.

Biden and other Democrats had hoped for the appointment of judges — both to federal trial courts (known as District Courts) and to appeals courts (known as Circuit Courts) — to be a major accomplishment this year. That plan is now in doubt because Democrats do not have the votes to confirm judges without Feinstein.

Instead, about 20 Biden nominees are in limbo, and 9 percent of District Court and Circuit Court judgeships remain vacant. Among Biden’s unconfirmed nominees: Mónica Ramírez Almadani, a civil rights lawyer; Robert Kirsch, a former prosecutor who focused on white collar crime; and Kato Crews, an expert in labor law.

Look how far behind Biden’s fallen in appointing judges, and its all because of Feinstein’s absence. This is a graph from the paper:

There’s argument back and forth about whether Feinstein should resign (she’s been a very good Senator), and Nancy Pelosi even blames calls for Feinstein to step down on sexism. That’s not fair, though. Feinstein will never again be at the top of her game, and her keeping her job is hurting the liberal cause in a big way. She needs to go with great thanks from us. What will happen now? The paper says this is the result if Feinstein resigns:

“In that case, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat, would replace her, and he has pledged to name a Black woman to fill the seat.”

A friend who sent me the link was incensed by that statement, saying that Newsom should appoint the most qualified candidate, whatever their ethnicity. If a black woman is among the most qualified candidates, they argued, then you could exercise a form of affirmative action and appoint a minority candidate. My friend replied:

However, Gavin will make sure this will not be the case – other candidates need not apply.  This is racism in its purest form.  Just replace “black” with “white” and we would have an insurrection in CA.
What do you think? Should the governor pre-specify the sex and ethnicity of his choice before he’s even vetted the candidates? And should Feinstein resign? (I think that’s a no-brainer.)
 *Over at The Free Press, Nellie Bowles wrote her patented snarky review of the week’s news, this time called “TGIF: That’s all, Folx!” It’s mainly for this feature that I keep on subscribing. As usual, I’ll give three of the many stories she features (indented words, as always, are hers):

→ Portland loses its REI: The do-good outdoor recreation chain, the one and only REI, the store where I buy most of my clothes (whoever says they don’t carry black tie clothes isn’t trying hard enough), is closing its big downtown Portland location, citing crime and theft. The company said that the store “had its highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, despite actions to provide extra security.” From the local coverage: “The company said its theft problem came to a head last November, when a car crashed through the glass front doors of REI’s Pearl District store on Black Friday. It was the store’s third break-in in a week.” Thieves driving a car into and through the side of the store to get access to those sweet REI goods was the third incident of the week. (As someone who appreciates water-wicking material more than most of my blood relatives, I get it!)

I understand that antifa doesn’t believe in private property and that Portland is their capital. But guys, all you wear are cargo pants and hiking boots. How is this going to work? Who will provide your balaclavas and headlamps?

Meanwhile, the brand-new Shake Shack downtown was met with a Portland Hello: a broken window. It goes without saying that this week it was revealed that staff at Portland’s city-funded drug treatment center were doing drugs with the addicts.

→ I like this guy: I don’t know anything about his politics and, no, I do not care to google. I barely want to know his name (Jeff Jackson, Democrat from North Carolina). But I like this message, which I think is true and a good reminder (reader, do not send me some arrest record from the time he killed kittens; let me have one nice thing):

→ Good news on campus: I love campus news. I love it because what starts on campus comes to run all our lives a few years later. It’s like a sneak peek into Thanksgiving in three years. And I love it because it’s funny. It’s funny that the word folks, which was already gender-neutral, had to be changed to folx, to be more gender-neutral. It’s funny that for every sophomore on any given campus, there are five sex educators and three mental health counselors. This week, though, we have some good news. First, Harvard got a free speech group, a special Council on Academic Freedom formed among the faculty. I’m not sure what they’ll do exactly, like day-to-day, but I’m happy for them. And across the country, over at Stanford University, a pro-partying slate won control of the student government, calling themselves the “Fun Strikes Back” movement.


*And in another Substack column, Andrew Sullivan writes about the transgender woman Tik Tok star who sold Budweiser:   “The Strange Minstrelsy of Dylan Mulvaney“. Minstrelsy? Yes, for Sullivan thinks that’s what Mulvaney is doing: acting the role of a female in stereotypical ways, and it’s all just a big shtick. Is he right? Who knows; he could be! But it’s certainly a lucrative shtick:

Dylan has brand partnerships with Anheuser-Busch, Nike, Crest, Instacart, Ulta Beauty, Kate Spade and many more. And here is what Dylan means by “becoming a girl” in his/her own words. Trigger warning for feminists:

Day One of being a girl and I’ve already cried three times, I wrote a scathing email that I did not send, I ordered dresses online that I couldn’t afford, and then, uh, when someone asked me how I was, I said I’m fine — when I wasn’t fine [applies lip gloss]. How’d I do, ladies? Good? Girl power!

If you think this has to be a joke, a parody making fun of sexist ideas about women, you’re not the only one. (Trans YouTuber Blaire White also assumed it was a spoof at first, and her video on Dylan’s “womanface” is well worth a watch.)

. . . But is Dylan genuinely trans? We’re not supposed to ask, of course. In our post-modern world, everyone is who they say they are — even if Dylan has an impressive bulge in a bikini. (One of her a cappella songs is titled “Normalize the Bulge!” for women with big dick energy. Go on, I dare you: watch the vid.) More to the point, she’s walking the walk, is on estrogen and underwent “facial feminization surgery.” There’s no evidence she is a fake as such. But has Dylan always felt some deep, destabilizing disjuncture between the sex in her head and in his body and is now trying to alleviate it?

. . .There is, in fact, a perfect word to describe Dylan Mulvaney. She isn’t trans or queer or subversive so much as a minstrel. She’s performing a deeply misogynistic version of a Disney princess for an audience that is uncomfortable with actual transgender people whose appearance is not monetizable and whose lives are more than gay parodies of blonde ditzes. But minstrelsy has always been lucrative — and I don’t fault Dylan for seeing an opening here, and succeeding beyond what must have been his/her wildest dreams.

What I worry about is what happens to Dylan as this buzz eventually wears off. She’s only 26, and has a lifetime to live after her 12 months of TikTok fame. The future may not be as pretty as she currently is.

*This is pretty horrible: the Russians, who deny HIV-infected prisoners effective treatment in jail, offer them good antiviral drugs if they agree to leave prison and fight against Ukraine. Since 20% of Russian prisoners are reported to be HIV-positive, this is a Hobson’s choice: a slow death from AIDS or a quick one from a bullet. But I’d do the fighting, because at least then you have a chance to live—assuming the Russians keep their promise about the antivirals.

It was a recruiting pitch that worked for many Russian prisoners.

About 20 percent of recruits in Russian prisoner units are H.I.V. positive, Ukrainian authorities estimate based on infection rates in captured soldiers. Serving on the front lines seemed less risky than staying in prison, the detainees said in interviews with The New York Times.

“Conditions were very harsh” in Russian prison, said Timur, 37, an H.I.V.-positive Russian soldier interviewed at a detention site in the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine, and identified only by a first name, worried that he would face retaliation if he returned to Russia in a prisoner swap.

After he was sentenced to 10 years for drug dealing, the doctors in the Russian prison changed the anti-viral medication he had been taking to control H.I.V. to types he feared were not effective, Timur said.

He said he did not think he could survive a decade in Russian prison with H.I.V. In December, he agreed to serve six months in the Wagner mercenary group in exchange for a pardon and supplies of anti-viral medications.

Timur had no military experience and was provided two weeks of training before deployment to the front, he said. He was issued a Kalashnikov rifle, 120 bullets, an armored vest and a helmet for the assault. Before sending the soldiers forward, he said, commanders “repeated many times, ‘if you try to leave this field, we will shoot you.’”

Soldiers in his platoon, he said, were sent on a risky assault, waves of soldiers with little chance of survival sent into battle on the outskirts of the eastern city of Bakhmut. Most were killed on their first day of combat. Timur was captured.

The Russians are that desperate for bodies on the front line. The paper also reports that captured Russian soldiers who were former prisoners also had tuberculosis and hepatitis C.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are talking serious business:

Hili: We should stop waiting for better times.
Szaron: And do what?
Hili: Start meowing.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba przestać czekać na lepsze czasy.
Szaron: I co?
Hili: Zacząć miauczeć.

And a photo of baby Kulka:


From Jesus of the Day:

A Dan Piraro cartoon sent by reader Merilee. I mention this attraction in an upcoming book review (stay tuned):

Novel uses for Marshmallow Peeps™, one of my favorite confections:

From Masih, mothers whose children were killed by the Iranian theocracy. The white scarves symbolize the desire for freedom:

I found this one, the original Big Gulp. Sound up to hear the crunching!

From gravelinspector. The Brits, god love ’em, are tracking individual cuckoos migrating from Africa to Blighty. There’s a race on. For more, see here.

From Malcolm, an extreme case of pareidolia in a shark photo:

From Simon, who says, “But Larry gets food and lodging [at 10 Downing Street] with the job”:

An adorable tweet from Peter:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a 16-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:

Tweets from Matthew. The proper response to the first one is “Oy!”:

Well, the Northern Cardinal is not found exclusively in Canada, either:

12 thoughts on “Saturday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1529 – Treaty of Zaragoza divides the eastern hemisphere between Spain and Portugal along a line 297.5 leagues (1,250 kilometres (780 mi)) east of the Moluccas.

    1864 – The U.S. Congress passes the Coinage Act of 1864 that permitted the inscription In God We Trust be placed on all coins minted as United States currency.

    1945 – World War II: Prisoners at the Jasenovac concentration camp revolt. Five hundred twenty are killed and around eighty escape.

    1945 – World War II: Sachsenhausen concentration camp is liberated by soldiers of the Red Army and Polish First Army.

    1954 – Red Scare: Witnesses begin testifying and live television coverage of the Army–McCarthy hearings begins.

    1969 – British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston wins the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and completes the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world.

    1970 – The first Earth Day is celebrated.

    1977 – Optical fiber is first used to carry live telephone traffic.

    1993 – Eighteen-year-old Stephen Lawrence is murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Well Hall, Eltham. [The subsequent Macpherson Report found the (London) Metropolitan Police Service to be “institutionally racist”; little has changed and there are currently a series of ongoing investigations into officers for a variety of racist and sexual offences.]

    2016 – The Paris Agreement is signed, an agreement to help fight global warming. [Not enough has been achieved since. Plus ça change.]

    1724 – Immanuel Kant, German anthropologist, philosopher, and academic (d. 1804). [A real pissant who was very rarely stable…]

    1830 – Emily Davies, British suffragist and educator, co-founder and an early Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge University.

    1870 – Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary and founder of Soviet Russia (d. 1924).

    1899 – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-born novelist and critic (d. 1977).

    1916 – Yehudi Menuhin, American-Swiss violinist and conductor (d. 1999).

    1917 – Sidney Nolan, Australian painter (d. 1992).

    1922 – Charles Mingus, American bassist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1979).

    1936 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 2017).

    1946 – Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford, English economist and academic.

    1946 – John Waters, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

    1950 – Peter Frampton, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1963 – Sean Lock, English comedian and actor (d. 2021).

    Getting older was definitely preferable to an up close and personal meeting with the Duck of Death: [With apologies to JoAnn Ross.]

    1933 – Henry Royce, English engineer and businessman, co-founded Rolls-Royce Limited (b. 1863).

    1984 – Ansel Adams, American photographer and environmentalist (b. 1902).

    1994 – Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (b. 1913).

    2013 – Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1941).

  2. I think the Feinstein issue is only the proximate cause. As we know, the Republicans find it difficult to work as a bloc. They are doing so now because they view several of the judicial candidates as extremists. (And given the caliber of some of his other appointments, they may well be.) Schumer still has options for getting those candidates out of committee and onto the floor for a vote.

  3. True that Schumer can in theory get candidates out of committee and onto the floor, but Senator Feinstein really needs to resign. She is in failing health, both physically and (supposedly) cognitively. It’s just a matter of time before she *must* resign for those reasons. She should do it now to reduce the friction and eliminate the excuse that her absence is the problem. Craft a dignified press release and issue a resignation. Don’t be that aging baseball player who plays one more season than he should and sullies the reputation built over an entire career.

  4. I think the guy tweeting about cardinals is confused, not the website he criticizes. Questions about “Catholic cardinals” are answered, appropriately, as being about Church officials. Questions about “cardinals” are answered as being about the bird. He seems not to have read what he tweeted.


  5. “What do you think? Should the governor pre-specify the sex and ethnicity of his choice before he’s even vetted the candidates?”


    Instead, the harm and erasure of the ethnicities, genders, and other intersectional minorities represented by any choice by cis-gendered white male hegemonies … shall be required to be … decontextualized … from the oppression of the capitalist subtext.

    [ nailed it ]
    [ adjusts turtleneck and rainbow flag ]

    1. Sounds like the governor has already done exactly that. Just as with Reparations, once he’s dangled the trinket in front of the mob, putting it back into the toy box is just asking for violence.

      But what’s to stop a gaggle of transwomen who self-identify as black from demanding to be considered? You and I both know that the Rachel Dolezals would be told to get lost, but couldn’t an obviously white person with a black great-grandparent or a few African genes claim under the one-drop rule? And who in California would dare tell a man in a dress or a pantsuit and pearls that he wasn’t “really” a woman?

      What Gov. Newsom is really looking to is his own politics. He wants Sen. Feinstein’s putative replacement to be seen as an obvious affirmative-action hire. Not just that he does appoint a black woman but that he said ahead of time that he wouldn’t even look at anyone who wasn’t. He (like President Biden with the Supreme Court) doesn’t care that it will stigmatize her or demean the United States Senate. The whole point is that it makes him look good among a constituency that keeps score on that sort of thing.

  6. I think ChatGPT is running the Catholic website. Reads like its prose: tone is tentative, yet somehow assertive; willing to answer anything. AI working for God!?

  7. Most unfortunate that Governor Newsom, in limiting the pool for appointment to the Senate to Black women, did not also specify that the appointee must be trans, Islamic, differently-abled, left-handed, and homeless. He will no doubt be excoriated by the relevant marginalized groups for his display of these implicit biases and phobeisms. Fortunately, however, his announcement did follow the zeitgeist in focusing on group representation rather than ability as a prerequisite for the appointment. This substitution is being applied to more and more social functions, including the practice of medicine (see Prof. Stanley Goldfarb’s recent book “Take Two Aspirins and Call Me By My Pronouns”.) When this doctrine reaches the appointment of firefighters, we will finally be in a position to see the whole oppressive system burn down.

  8. According to The Naked Pravda the Russians, more specifically Prigozhin’s Wagner Group are recruiting in at least one high school, sports clubs and the Pornhub site. Female V/O to a video adv ” We are the most fucking bad arse private army in the world we recruit from all Russia’s regions don’t jerk off, go work for a private military company Wagner” the Naked Pravda host at the end of the piece declares, “I rather jerk off” that made my gardening a little more a humorous exercise.

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