Monday: Hili dialogue

August 28, 2023 • 6:45 am

Greeting at the beginning of the “work” week: Monday, August 28 2023. In one week I’ll be in Israel! (Posting will be light for three weeks after Friday, but I do my best.)  It’s National Cherry Turnover Day, second only to the strawberry turnover as a tasty species in this genus of pastries. 

It’s also National Bow Tie Day, International Read Comics in Public Day, National Thoughtful Day, Red Wine Day (I have mine for tonight), and the Christian feast day of Augustine the Hippo. (Yes, I know the right name.) I had to read tons of Augustine when I was writing Faith Versus Fact, and I have to laugh when he’s signled out as a great Church Father who did not take the Bible literally.  “A great thinker” about theology is like a great thinker about the Loch Ness Monster. And yes, Augustine did take the Bible literally, allowing a metaphorical dimension, too. But he was bonkers as well, writing at great length about the types of angels that existed and their nature. He was obsessed with angels!

Here’s Augustine the Hippo:

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 28 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Shooting of the day: It’s in Chicago again: three people were found wounded in a car yesterday morning in the Little Village area of Chicago’s West Side. All the victims will survive, but the shooter hasn’t yet been found. It’s the Second Amendment, folks: the shooter was part of a well regulated militia!

*FINALLY Russia has confirmed that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin died in the plane crash last week.

The Russian authorities have officially confirmed the death of the Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, with investigators saying on Sunday that genetic testing showed that the victims of a plane crash last week matched all the names on the jet’s manifest.

The announcement put an end to several days of speculation over the fate of the mercenary chief, who was presumed to have died in the plane crash on Wednesday, just two months after he launched a failed mutiny against Russia’s military leadership. U.S. and Western officials believe the crash was the result of an explosion on board and several have said they think that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may have had Mr. Prigozhin killed in retaliation for his mutiny — suggestions the Kremlin on Friday dismissed as an “absolute lie.”

Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Russia’s investigative committee, said in a statement on Sunday that “the identities of all 10 victims have been established” and that “they correspond to the list stated in the flight manifest.”

. . .Tearful mourners gathered in Moscow over the weekend to pay muted respect to the founder of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, and nine other people whom the Russian authorities said were killed in a plane crash last week.

Hundreds of people have placed flowers, photographs, candles and flags — including some bearing the private military group’s skull design — at a small sidewalk memorial near Red Square in Moscow.

Many wept openly, expressing shock over the death of a man they said they respected, and sadness at the loss of life. Almost all expressed their support for the invasion of Ukraine.

Pity they can’t be mourning Prigozhin for standing up to Putin and starting to instigate a mutiny. But of course they wouldn’t publicly criticize the invasion of Ukraine to a Western reporter.

*The AP documents how Trump continues to lie about the 2020 election. Here are a few choice highlights:

With Donald Trump facing felony charges over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, the former president is flooding the airwaves and his social media platform with distortions, misinformation and unfounded conspiracy theories about his defeat.

It’s part of a multiyear effort to undermine public confidence in the American electoral process as he seeks to chart a return to the White House in 2024. There is evidence that his lies are resonating: New polling from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that 57% of Republicans believe Democrat Joe Biden was not legitimately elected as president.


Biden’s victory over Trump in 2020 was not particularly close. He won the Electoral College with 306 votes to Trump’s 232, and the popular vote by more than 7 million ballots.

Because the Electoral College ultimately determines the presidency, the race was decided by a few battleground states. Many of those states conducted recounts or thorough reviews of the results, all of which confirmed Biden’s victory.

. . . Trump was repeatedly advised by members of his own administration that there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

Nine days after the 2020 election, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a statement saying, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” The statement was co-written by the groups representing the top elections officials in every state.

. . . The Trump campaign and its backers pursued numerous legal challenges to the election in court and alleged a variety of voter fraud and misconduct. The cases were heard and roundly rejected by dozens of courts at both state and federal levels, including by judges whom Trump appointed.

. . . An exhaustive AP investigation in 2021 found fewer than 475 instances of confirmed voter fraud across six battleground states — nowhere near the magnitude required to sway the outcome of the presidential election.

The review of ballots and records from more than 300 local elections offices found that almost every instance of voter fraud was committed by individuals acting alone and not the result of a massive, coordinated conspiracy to rig the election. The cases involved both registered Democrats and Republicans, and the culprits were almost always caught before the fraudulent ballot was counted.

. . . Many of the claims Trump and his team advanced about a stolen election dealt with the equipment voters used to cast their ballots.

At various times, Trump and his legal team falsely alleged that voting machines were built in Venezuela at the direction of President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013; that machines were designed to delete or flip votes cast for Trump; and that the U.S. Army had seized a computer server in Germany that held secrets to U.S. voting irregularities.

None of those claims was ever substantiated or corroborated. CISA’s joint statement released after the election said, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”

It goes on, but you’re familiar with the lies. As I’m not a psychiatrist or therapist, I violate no professional dictum when I say that the man is an arrant sociopath.

*Speaking of the Trumpster, Mark Meadows’ request to move his Georgia racketeering trial from Georgia state court to federal court (there are 18 defendants in total, including The Donald, and many of these may file similar motions), could provide an instructive preview of the prosecutors’ evidence against Trump. From CNN:

Why is Meadows doing this?

US law allows defendants in state civil suits or criminal cases to seek to move those proceedings to federal court if those defendants face charges based on conduct they carried out “under color” of the federal government.

While such proceedings are not uncommon in civil lawsuits against current and former federal officials, they are extremely rare in criminal cases, legal experts told CNN, meaning Jones will be navigating in uncertain legal territory.

“This is just that rare case where there is just not a lot of law,” Vladeck said.

Meadows is arguing that under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the federal court should dismiss the charges against him, because the conduct underlying the charges was conducted as part of his duties as a close White House adviser to Trump.

Back to the juicy details:

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will lay out the first details of her sprawling anti-racketeering case against former President Donald Trump, his White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and 17 other co-defendants at a federal court hearing on Monday morning.

This will be the first time that substantive arguments will be made in court about the four criminal cases brought against Trump this year.

The subject of the hearing, set to begin at 10 a.m., is Meadows’ motion to move his case to federal court and possibly have it thrown out, but it’s much more than that – it could end up acting as a mini-trial that determines the future of Fulton County’s case against the former president.

Willis is expected to preview the case that she is planning to bring against the 19 co-defendants, getting on the public record some of her evidence and legal arguments for why Trump and his allies broke the law when pressuring Georgia election officials to meddle with the 2020 results.

. . .Beyond Meadows’ participation on the Raffensperger call, Willis has also highlighted as alleged acts in the racketeering conspiracy his surprise visit to an Atlanta election audit and a request Meadows and Trump are said to have made to a White House official to compile a memo on how to disrupt the January 6, 2021, election certification vote in Congress.

“In order to prevail, Meadows has to convince the court that when he was banging on the audit door he wasn’t representing the private interests of Donald Trump,” said Lee Kovarsky, a University of Texas law professor and expert in the removal statute.

Willis, in her response to Meadows’ filings, is leaning on a federal law known as the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from using their federal office to engage in political activity, including campaign-oriented conduct. She argues Meadows’ involvement in the pressure campaign on Georgia election officials is clearly conduct he was not allowed to engage in as a federal officer, and therefore he is not entitled to the federal immunity defense.

The Hatch Act framing is a “nice way of illustrating that he was acting outside the scope of his official duties,” Kovarsky said, adding that Willis will not have to prove that Meadows violated the federal statute to be successful in the argument.

Willis’ filings in the dispute also appear to be a shot across the bow at Trump and any attempt he could make with similar claims.

Several key witnesses may take the stand at Meadows’ hearing, and these could tell us some of the evidence that could be used against Tr*mp.

*Obsessed with mortality as I am, I’m a sucker for stories like this one in the WaPo: “I am dying at age 49. Here’s why I have no regrets.” Actually, she does have regrets, but also gratitude for the good things that happened to her (“She” is Amy Ettinger, who has stage 4 4 uterine leiomyosarcoma, an aggressive cancer that, doctors says, gives her just a few months to live.)

The good stuff she mentions is this:

  • I learned that lasting love is about finding someone who will show up for you [she wed a good man and they’ve never been apart for a day, even after 25 years of marriage]
  • I pursued my dream career with passion [she was a writer and published a guide to America’s best ice cream, a worthy endeavor]
  • I have never had a bucket list; instead I said ‘yes’ to life [she took a lot of trips on the spur of the moment]
  • I found people in my life who can accept me as I am [although she’s an introvert, she has some very close friends]
  • I live where I want even though the numbers never add up [she lives in hyper-expensive but beautiful Santa Cruz, California.

Her ending:

I am dying around people who love me and are bringing me meals when I need them. These are people who are willing to show up for me no matter what. And I know they will show up for my husband and daughter, even after I am gone.

The end of my life is coming much too soon, and my diagnosis can at times feel too difficult to bear. But I’ve learned that life is all about a series of moments, and I plan to spend as much remaining time as I can savoring each one, surrounded by the beauty of nature and my family and friends. Thankfully, this is the way I’ve always tried to live my life.

*And more clickbait (at least for me): a NYT op-ed called “We asked 16 writers to tell us about the immoral, indulgent things they do, and they confessed.” Oh dear, I had to read on. Here are three answers:

Chick-fil-A has historically been a very anti-gay company. It has donated to charities with anti-L.G.B.T.Q. stances, and its chairman, Dan Cathy, was once quoted saying he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit.” Yet, traitorous and masochistic though it may be, I, a gay man, regularly consume its homophobic chicken.

What can I say? I know it’s wrong, but McDonald’s simply can’t compete, Burger King and Jack in the Box don’t compare, and while Popeyes and Wendy’s might come close, they’re not the same. And none of them offer what I find most appealing about Chick-fil-A anyway: the Southern charm of its employees.

It reminds me of home. And while that doesn’t make me any less guilty for pulling up to the drive-thru, I won’t apologize for the pleasure I feel driving away, crispy sandwich in hand.

I don’t think the company is still anti-gay, and I have to say that I partake of one of their delicious sandwiches once in a while.

This guy STEALS!

Whenever I’m at the airport, I like to do a little shopping at the Free Store. The Free Store is any establishment that leaves its permanently price-gouged wares unsecured on shelves unattended by underpaid and overharried employees. I stroll in, select my items, then suddenly “receive a phone call” that “my flight is almost done boarding.” I’ve known people who get a rush from the act of stealing. Not me. What I love is having and using things I didn’t pay for.

I sleep with my friends, and I befriend the people I sleep with. As a result, my social life mostly consists of a sort of merry traveling band of fellows with whom I have happily porous and shifting relationships. This is what we all used to do when we were young and then grew out of when we moved into the serious part of life. Except I just didn’t.

I know this sounds like hell to most people — the lack of boundaries and the mess and the logistics — and it certainly can be. I’ve been hurt and I have hurt people. It’s icky and embarrassing and kind of a pain in the ass.

When it works, though, it feels like a vindication that the worth men and women can hold for one another is beyond sexual and romantic and also that it can continuously change, like everything else. When it doesn’t, it’s still pretty hot.

Oh, and I have to add Paul Bloom:

Saint Augustine, in his “Confessions,” describes going into an orchard with his friends to steal some pears and writes: “I had no motive for wickedness except wickedness itself. It was foul, and I loved it.”

As a psychologist who has spent my career studying transgression, I’m particularly attuned to my own Augustinian impulses. My most regular one is hate-reading. I can spend hours on end consuming the words of people whose views I find repugnant and unhinged, becoming inflamed in both anger and self-righteousness.

You can, of course, learn things from awful people. But there is also a simple evil pleasure in indulging in their wrongness.

Indeed, and there are certain websites that I can’t resist hate-reading.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is getting older and a bit chunky:

A: It’s been a long time since you jumped up on this shelf.
Hili: Unfortunately, it has begun to be difficult.
In Polish:
Ja: Dawno nie wskakiwałaś na tę półkę.
Hili: Niestety, to zaczyna być trudne.
And a picture of the loving Szaron:


From Barry. I think I’ve posted this one before, but I love the bit about theology:

From David, a Hilary Price cartoon:

From Harry:

From Masih, more Iranian women defying the hijab dictates of the theocracy big time. They could get into serious trouble for this.

From Malcolm, a cat discovers in the mirror that it has EARS!

Here’s a groaner from Barry:

And from Simon:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a survivor still alive—and it’s her birthday!

Tweets from Dr. Cobb, who’s beavering away on his biography of Crick:

Matthew says, “This is worth 10 mins of your time, with a cracking reveal that made me laugh out loud.”  It’s a (free) New Yorker piece:

Sound up to learn some biology (satellite flies lay live larvae on the bee’s prey, and the larvae consume the hard-won food):

47 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

  1. With regard to the writers, it seems like unvirtue-signaling is also a thing.

    The bit about theology is from an old joke: A famous Rabbi is granted an audience with the Pope. As expected, the meeting turns to theology. After some time the Rabbi observes to the Pontiff, “We are both like blind men, searching in a darkened room, for a invisible, black cat that isn’t there. The difference is that you have found it.”

  2. … 57% of Republicans believe Democrat Joe Biden was not legitimately elected as president.

    This is the greatest instance of mass political delusion in the history of the Republic. It could not have happened in the days before people began relying on social media for so much of their “news” and before the emergence of national media outlets willing to put out propaganda rather than verified fact.

    1. I agree that it might be the “greatest” instance. But let’s qualify:

      Here is a Washington Post piece from September 26, 2019: “Hillary Clinton dismissed President Trump as an “illegitimate president” and suggested that “he knows” that he stole the 2016 presidential election in a CBS News interview to be aired Sunday.” Want another one? June 28, 2019: How about Jimmy Carter saying that “. . . Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election . . .” because, yeah, the Russians did it.

      A Washington Post-University of Maryland Center for American Politics and Citizenship poll conducted in collaboration with the University of Chicago, conducted from September 27th to October 5th of 2017, asked “Regardless of whom you supported in the 2016 election, do you think Donald Trump’s election as president was legitimate, or was he not legitimately elected?” Results: 42% said it was “not legitimate.” They compared this to results when the question was asked several times about George Bush in early 2001. Those results: 36-40% said “not legitimate.” How about Barack Obama? On 10/05/17 there were only 14% who believed his election was “not legitimate.” (They didn’t provide data from shortly after he was elected.) Now, the pollsters unfortunately did not break down party affiliation among those 42%, 40%, and 14% who were “election deniers” and who rejected the legitimacy of Trump, Bush, and Obama, respectively. Hmm, I wonder what parties those could be. If 42% of Americans denied Trump’s legitimacy, then I suspect that the Democrat component of that could give your “57%” above a run for its money.

      Rejection of US election results is, unfortunately, a bipartisan affair over the last 20+ years. Selective amnesia about this fact isn’t a good look for freethinking adults. Additionally, public denial (or “forgetting”) of the idiocies hoisted on the country by one party simply fuels the idiocy of the other party; the dynamic works both ways. (I’m not directing these latter comments at you, Ken. It’s just a general observation of social trends.)

      Sorry for the lack of links. My recent posts with links have been rejected, so I tried to provide enough information that people could pull the sources if they wanted to.

        1. Surely this is sarcasm after my comment about “selective amnesia.” I mean, it isn’t true if it isn’t news! I mean, it isn’t true if what was once news is now ignored as never having been news.

          And that National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago: hack practitioners all. Why be on the fence as to their veracity?

      1. Personally, I don’t think any democratic election is legitimate when the loser of the popular vote wins the Presidency. The Electoral College creates illegitimate Presidencies IMO. Based on that, W. and Trump were both illegitimate.

        And you can play “both sides do it” all you want, but Trump’s claims of illegitimacy are of a class all there own and don’t compare with a couple statements made by Clinton or Carter. The fact that he’s been indicted with felony convictions for rejecting the election and trying to hold on to power should be all the proof you need that this isn’t a case of “both sides do it.” That’s a laughable comparison.

        1. I disagree about the Electoral College. I feel that a pure national popular vote would give the population of cities, especially on the coasts, almost total dominance over the rest of the country. I think it would be dangerous if much of the population felt they were permanently disenfranchised (as well as unfair).

          However, I agree there is a massive difference between saying you don’t think a president legitimately won because they “only” won the EC vote (which is Constitutional and and therefore completely legal) and claiming a president only won because of illegal actions. Though I don’t think politicians should be saying either one. They can argue for change of the EC college of course, but current EC college wins are completely legitimate.

          1. The other point I can never resist bringing up as a purely non-partisan (and foreign) wonk is that no one can know what the popular vote would be if it actually counted. For all anyone knows, there are lots of Republicans in California, and Democrats in West Virginia, who don’t bother to vote because their favoured candidate for President always loses in a landslide. Their votes can’t possibly determine the national winner. But if the popular vote did determine the winner, every single vote in the nation would count. A Republican in California would be motivated to come out to vote, to help get Biden out, just as a Democrat in WVa would, to help keep Haley out. Move to a national popular vote and you might have a nasty surprise if you are counting on getting rid of the Electoral College to give you Democratic Presidents till the end of time.

            In support of this half-baked hypothesis, I note that voter turnout is somewhat lower in landslide Democratic states — the big ones — than in battleground states. (The landslide Republican states tend to be smaller and harder to statistically eyeball. Red states with large population tend to have several blue blobs, preventing landslides.) So if turnout bumped up in big blue states, the extra turnout might well be mostly “newly enfranchised” Republicans, easily tipping the popular vote. Of course the Democrats would try to increase their turnout everywhere, too. (What we’d like to know is if eligible voters who didn’t vote in landslide states were more likely to lean to the losing side, whichever that was.)

            As in all contests, if the rules change, the strategy of competition changes and outcomes may shift. Lowering the pitching mound, the time-in-the-key rule, the shot clock, no EPO, etc. etc. may well favour one side until the other side learns to play by the new rules. It would be ironic if the Democrats worked to abolish the EC, and then got whacked for their troubles with 55:45 Republican wins from higher turnouts for several election cycles.

            In the last federal election in Canada, the Conservatives won 34% of the popular vote, the Liberals 33% but the Liberals formed the government because they won quite a few more seats in the legislature. (Much of the conservative vote was “wasted” in landslide ridings, exactly analogous to California and New York landslides.) Nobody in Canada, not even conservatives, regards the Liberal win as “illegitimate” because the popular vote counts not at all in Canada, just as it counts for zilch in the U.S. Indeed Liberal strategists cackle about how efficient their campaigning is. “Can we try for a 30:35 split with the Tories and still form a government?” tweeted one.

            1. Keep in mind, Leslie, that in two out of three presidential elections, a state’s voters will also be electing one of their two US senators. And in every even-year election, voters elect their member of the US House of Representatives. Also, depending upon a state’s particular election cycle, at the same time voters are called upon to cast their ballot for US president, they may be electing their state’s most important state officials — governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and treasurer. among others — as well as local officeholders such as mayor and city councilmen. The ballot may also contain potential state constitutional amendments, referenda, propositions, initiatives, and the like.

              You may be correct that a significant percentage of US voters sit out our quadrennial elections when the results of a state’s presidential election seem a foregone conclusion. But that perspective bespeaks a rather jaded view of how seriously we Yanks take our duties of citizenship.

              1. I’m just going on turnout figures which are low by comparison with peer democracies and do vary state to state — statistically significantly I don’t know. Turnout has been declining in the legacy democracies for many years. Former dictatorships and communist Utopias may be keener.

                Maybe your ballots are too long. Ours (in federal and provincial elections) are a single piece of paper where you make one X, with a pencil. Municipal elections we vote for mayor, ward councilor, and school board trustee. No sheriff, DA, judge, dog-catcher (old joke) or local props.

                I didn’t mean to cast any aspersions on civic engagement in the U.S. I was only trying to point out that currently low turnout could produce surprises if it was boosted by a sense that a vote mattered nationally and not just for state- and local- level contests where, as they say, no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.

          2. What’s unfair about “one person, one vote?” It really has nothing to do with population densities; we should have a True democracy. No other modern democracy has an anachronism like the EC, and they seem to be doing OK; no large disenfranchised groups causing mayhem, etc. Disenfranchisement is inevitable and unavoidable in all political systems. The EC tries to enforce fairness, originally to give the slave states equal federal power, and that concept is not only untenable, it’s wrong: who decides what is fair? Why enforce faux fairness, when “one person, one vote” is the simplest form of fairness? EC needs to go, pronto!

      2. In 2016, the Russian government undertook a largescale effort to help Donald Trump win the US presidential election. This effort took two forms: First, it created and funded the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia — a troll farm that set up thousands of fake social media accounts to inundate potential US voters with false information disparaging Hillary Clinton and promoting the virtues of Donald Trump.

        Second, the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU, hacked the email accounts of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. The hacked emails were selectively released to the public during the 2016 to maximize the benefit to Donald Trump and the damage to Hillary Clinton.

        The Trump team welcomed this help from the Russians and repeatedly used the information released by the Russians during the 2016 campaign. These were the conclusions reached in the report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Republican US senator from North Carolina Richard Burr. They were also the conclusions reached by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his report and are consistent with the conclusions reached by the United States intelligence community as a whole. (You can read summaries of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report findings regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election here and here. You can read Special Counsel Mueller’s conclusions regarding the Russians’ troll-farm and hacking operations in the Executive Summary issued as part of Volume I of Mueller’s final report here.

        I do not believe that the above-described events rendered Donald Trump an illegitimate president. Nevertheless, I do think that they make any comparison of those events and the events surrounding the 2020 election completely distinguishable. For over two and a half years now Donald Trump has been telling arrant lies, based on thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories and unsupported by even a scintilla of hard evidence, claiming that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. Any comparison between this and partisan complaints regarding the legitimacy of the 2016 election is spurious at best.

        1. Ah, yes, election denial is a spectrum.

          The 2000 election was legitimate, but I understand why many called it illegitimate. We had chads, the Supreme Court, that abomination of an Electoral College. And this is America; everyone is free to pick their own definitions of “illegitimate.” I bet Dubya can’t even pronounce it.

          The 2004 election was also legitimate but, you know, Ohio and all; feelings were still a little raw. I was never really keen on that douchebag Kerry, anyway.

          2016? No way! Trump? No way in hell. Can’t be real. Russia: they cracked the code for winning votes with social media, for flipping blue voters red (or orange, or mad, or something). And they even did it on a budget. Damn. But I’m a believer in process so–grit my teeth–it was legit. Still, I understand why most of my party sees things differently.

          2020. Damned straight! Dance, Pinker, dance! That’s what we call legit. Who the hell would ever vote for Trump? What were those fools thinking? Stolen? Where did that word come from? Listen to those lies! I just can’t understand these people.

          We have a national problem. It’s bipartisan. It’s longstanding. Large numbers on both sides respect process only when it produces the outcomes they desire. It will not be fixed with the continuing game of “their lies are worse than our lies; our erroneous beliefs are less wrong than theirs.” Given our primary system, I’m not sure whether it can be fixed at all.

    2. Just as an FYI from states that are not in the news:
      Nevada had (has?) a fraudulent slate of electors. Our Attorney General (a Democrat) has refused to prosecute because he says Nevada has no laws making this illegal; this year our Governor (Republican) vetoed a bill that would make this illegal. So I guess it is up to other states and the feds to hold these people accountable.

      The fraudulent electors did file a suit in 2020. The judge ruled against them. He bent over backwards, giving these people every opportunity to prove their case. He said he evaluated evidence from the expert witnesses even though they did not meet the criteria to be considered experts. He evaluated the evidence using a standard of proof less than what was needed to sustain their claims. On December 4, 2020, District Court Judge Russel wrote that Trump’s would-be electors “did not prove under any standard of proof” their claims of fraud. He dismissed the suit with prejudice.

      The false electors appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. On December 8, 2020, this court dismissed the appeal saying the electors provided no grounds on which they could overturn the district court ruling. Even granting that these people had every right to bring suit, on December 8 they knew they could not call themselves electors. Two courts told them so. Nevertheless, they met on December 14 and signed forms claiming to be the true slate of electors from the state of Nevada.

      I guess the only silver lining in Nevada is that voters rejected the attempts of Jim Marchant, one of the fraudulent electors, to be our Secretary of State. Unfortunately noise about unsecured elections continues unabated in my state of Nevada.

  3. Honest question: Has any single person had a more malign and influence on American politics and society than Donald Trump?

    1. I would say no if you are restricting this to the U.S. However, if worldwide no. What I have noticed most which is not good, the media and particularly Television gives this bum more air time than anything ever. It is this constant obsession with him by the media that presents the current danger. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

    2. I suppose it depends on how you look at it. It could be argued that one of the several primary architects and operatives of the strategies devised by the Republican Party over the past 20ish years might beat Trump out on that honor. They intentionally created the conditions that allowed for someone like Trump, thinking they could control things, but of course Trump came along and they lost control to him and the cult they created to embrace him. Potential candidates could be Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove, no doubt several others.

      Personally I think Mitch McConnell is a contender. Trump is more like a force of nature, but Mitch, he knew exactly what he was doing all those years he was leading the Senate RP Conference.

      1. McConnell is up for reelection in 2026 and, barring some further health issues, will want to stay ’till then. Not too unlike Biden’s unwillingness to acknowledge serious decline. Biden, however, is much the nobler as he is not willing to destroy democracy in order to maintain power.

    3. If we’re talking about presidents, none in living memory, including Nixon, but I’ve seen historians put James Buchanan, who among other things exacerbated conflicts that led to the civil war, above Trump in the “worst president” list.

      1. A recent C-SPAN poll (which I consider greatly flawed) placed Buchanan worse than Trump. I disagree. Although Buchanan was a terrible president, at the end of his term he stood for the Union and purged his Cabinet of secessionists.

    4. Has any single person had a more malign and influence on American politics and society than Donald Trump?

      Questions like this interest me. I take it that you are looking for people’s opinions. That I understand.

      However, suppose we treat the question formally. Then, one would have to define what is meant by ‘malign’ etc., and also provide a way of measuring the influence on American politics and society. Suppose also that we define the terms and provide a measure. Unless such definitions and methods are unique, there would still be room for disagreement and questions: Could one rig the reification to obtain a desired result?

      There are people who might sincerely think that Obama and Biden were the worst (more malign and|or with greater influence by their judgment) presidents in history. If one thinks that Trump was the worst, how would one convince someone from the other side? Where would one start? If there is no such way, are the answers just opinions and nothing else?

      1. No, just because the answer can’t be determined by purely objective means doesn’t mean that everyone’s answers are equally legitimate. There are facts of the matter, and there are norms of human behavior. The terms can certainly be adequately defined and most people would be able to ascertain what is meant by those terms merely from context. Even most die hard Trumpers.

        Someone who believes that Obama is a Muslim terrorist because that’s what Limbaugh, or Jones, or Hannity, or whoever told them so, and therefore believes Obama was the worst president ever may certainly truly believe that. But they are simply delusional and no one should take them seriously. We don’t all get to create our own realities. Postmodernism does not correlate with reality.

        1. No, just because the answer can’t be determined by purely objective means doesn’t mean that everyone’s answers are equally legitimate.

          If the answers cannot be determined by purely objective means, what decides legitimacy? What does ‘legitimate’ mean, other than that some answers are more ‘legitimate’ in your subjective evaluation? What are the premises from which you would start to convince someone else of your position?

          People can arbitrarily disagree on who is more or less malign. Much of political discourse is like this. It’s a bit like people arguing about football, or other popular sports for that matter.

          Obama was not convicted for terrorism. So he was not a terrorist in that sense. The matter becomes much less objective if you don’t define exactly what ‘terrorist’ means. Then you can say he wasn’t and someone can say he was and you can say he wasn’t and they can say he was… 🙂

          And then you can say he wasn’t to seal the issue.

          There are people who have not been convicted for terrorism that I would call terrorists (like OBL), but I would be careful when arguing against someone who insists that he wasn’t. I would instead explore the criteria they are using and look for inconsistencies.

          Someone characterized a US athlete’s kneeling for the national anthem as an expression of hatred for the US. The only objective thing there is that the fellow knelt 🙂 He might well have been under the impression that he was kneeling out of love for an ideal. Debating whether it was hatred or love, while providing entertainment for me, is rather loose.

          1. I’ll repeat . . .

            “No, just because the answer can’t be determined by purely objective means doesn’t mean that everyone’s answers are equally legitimate. There are facts of the matter, and there are norms of human behavior. The terms can certainly be adequately defined and most people would be able to ascertain what is meant by those terms merely from context. Even most die hard Trumpers.”

  4. On this day:
    1565 – Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sights land near St. Augustine, Florida and founds the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental United States.

    1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Delaware Bay.

    1619 – Election of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.

    1789 – William Herschel discovers a new moon of Saturn: Enceladus.

    1830 – The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s new Tom Thumb steam locomotive races a horse-drawn car, presaging steam’s role in U.S. railroads.

    1833 – The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 receives royal assent, making the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal in the British Empire with exceptions.

    1845 – The first issue of Scientific American magazine is published.

    1859 – The Carrington event is the strongest geomagnetic storm on record to strike the Earth. Electrical telegraph service is widely disrupted.

    1898 – Caleb Bradham’s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.

    1917 – Ten suffragists, members of the Silent Sentinels, are arrested while picketing the White House in favor of women’s suffrage in the United States.

    1936 – Nazi Germany begins its mass arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are interned in concentration camps.

    1955 – Black teenager Emmett Till is lynched in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman, galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.

    1957 – U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the United States Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.

    1963 – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his I Have a Dream speech.

    1964 – The Philadelphia race riot begins.

    1968 – Police and protesters clash during 1968 Democratic National Convention protests as protesters chant “The whole world is watching”.

    1973 – Norrmalmstorg robbery: Stockholm police secure the surrenders of hostage-takers Jan-Erik Olsson and Clark Olofsson, defusing the Norrmalmstorg hostage crisis. The behaviours of the hostages later give rise to the term Stockholm syndrome.

    1988 – Ramstein air show disaster: Three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. Seventy-five are killed and 346 seriously injured.

    1990 – Gulf War: Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.

    1993 – NASA’s Galileo probe performs a flyby of the asteroid 243 Ida. Astronomers later discover a moon, the first known asteroid moon, in pictures from the flyby and name it Dactyl.

    1999 – The Russian space mission Soyuz TM-29 reaches completion, ending nearly 10 years of continuous occupation on the space station Mir as it approaches the end of its life.

    2003 – In “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI”, Brian Wells dies after becoming involved in a complex plot involving a bank robbery, a scavenger hunt, and a homemade explosive device.

    1476 – Kanō Motonobu, Japanese painter (d. 1559).

    1749 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, and diplomat (d. 1832).

    1801 – Antoine Augustin Cournot, French mathematician and philosopher (d. 1877).

    1814 – Sheridan Le Fanu, Irish author (d. 1873).

    1833 – Edward Burne-Jones, English artist of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (d. 1898).

    1859 – Matilda Howell, American archer (d. 1938).

    1906 – John Betjeman, English poet and academic (d. 1984).

    1919 – Godfrey Hounsfield, English biophysicist and engineer Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2004).

    1925 – Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 2003).

    1930 – Windsor Davies, British actor (d. 2019).

    1943 – David Soul, American actor and singer.

    1949 – Hugh Cornwell, English singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1950 – Tony Husband, English cartoonist.

    1957 – Ai Weiwei, Chinese sculptor and activist.

    1965 – Shania Twain, Canadian singer-songwriter.

    1969 – Jack Black, American actor and comedian.

    1969 – Sheryl Sandberg, American business executive.

    1986 – Florence Welch, English singer-songwriter.

    I intend to live forever, or die trying:
    430 – Augustine of Hippo, Algerian bishop, theologian, and saint (b. 354).

    1646 – Johannes Banfi Hunyades, English-Hungarian alchemist, chemist and metallurgist. (b. 1576).

    1665 – Elisabetta Sirani, Italian painter (b. 1638).

    1832 – Edward Dando, English thief (c. 1803). [Came to public notice in Britain because of his unusual habit of overeating at food stalls and inns, and then revealing that he had no money to pay. Although the fare he consumed was varied, he was particularly fond of oysters, having once eaten 25 dozen of them with a loaf and a half of bread with butter.]

    1978 – Robert Shaw, English actor (b. 1927). [For several years my mother worked with his sister.]

    1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906).

    2005 – Esther Szekeres, Hungarian-Australian mathematician and academic (b. 1910).
    2005 – George Szekeres, Hungarian-Australian mathematician and academic (b. 1911). [Died within an hour of each other. George was 94 and Esther 95.]

    2012 – Shulamith Firestone, Canadian-American activist and author (b. 1945).

    2020 – Chadwick Boseman, American actor and playwright (b. 1976).

    1. 1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906).

      Referring to John Huston as “Irish” is a bit of a stretch. Huston moved to Ireland in the early 1950s in protest of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the second Red Scare. His father, actor Walter Huston, moved to the US from Canada before John was born, and the Huston family traced its ethnic roots to Scotland, England, and Wales. By nature, John Huston was as quintessentially Yank as they come.

  5. “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? ”
    ― Augustine of Hippo, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Vol 2

    1. So, I’m looking at that and wondering if it’s just a typo…….or whether I was supposed to spit my coffee

      1. Well, the cartoon says science uses a “fucking” flashlight which unfortunately means i shouldn’t forward it to my niblings.

  6. T.S. Eliot wrote on the hippopotamus, perhaps the beast pictured above:

    “He shall be washed as white as snow,
    By all the martyr’d virgins kist,
    While the True Church remains below
    Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.”

  7. So did that cat pass the “mirror test?” Sort of looks like it.

    I think Chick-fil-A is still discriminatory based on a quick google. But it also has a DEI initiative that sent right-wingers through the roof. They don’t exist where I live, but I don’t eat fast food, so I doubt I’d eat there. Are “taco trucks” fast food? I eat at a lot of those…

    1. I was thinking the same about that cat. It appeared to understand it was seeing itself, but there might be some nuance I’m missing. I’ve always been a bit skeptical about the mirror test and what it is supposed to imply about animals. Species that don’t rely on vision to the extent humans do might not react like we would expect. Also, there may be a time factor where they can come to a realization but it takes them longer (I’ve noticed cats get used to mirrors with time).

      1. One of our cats routinely uses mirrors to keep track of what’s going on around her. Doing so allows her to avoid having to expend any extra effort.

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