TOPIC OF THE DAY – 2015

1.7 In Paris, ten members of the staff of Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical magazine, are murdered by Muslim terrorists. Two policemen are also killed.
gcs1.8 Met with Kurt, Lisa and Rick Newman at the Campbell Apartment re: reviving Loose Lips. Game on!
1.8 Nice Christmas Garden at the NYC Transit store in GCS
1.9 The suspects in the Charlie Hedbo killings are shot dead by police. In a related event, a terrorist who had killed a police officer was killed in a police assault on a French grocery where he had taken hostages. Four hostages were also killed. A total of 17 people were killed by terrorists over three days.
1.19 BBC: “More than three million people have taken part in unity marches across France after 17 people died during three days of deadly attacks in Paris. Up to 1.6m are estimated to have taken to the streets of the French capital. More than 40 world leaders joined the start of the Paris march, linking arms in an act of solidarity.”
1.11 Tina Fey on The Golden Globes: “George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected to a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
1.12 Amitai Etzioni in The Atlantic: “When Elizabeth Warren talks about fighting for the little guy she can be talking either kind of populism, but the moment overcoming inequality is added to mix, it’s game over. The proportion of Americans who ranked abuse of power and corruption as their top concern in the January 2014 poll was six times higher than those concerned with the gap between the rich and the poor—which only 4 percent ranked as their top concern. Warren’s rhetoric smacks of equality of results rather than opportunity, which many Americans—including many who are anti-elite—consider un-American.”


1.17 Leon Wieseltier in the Times: “Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted. The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry. Writers hover between a decent poverty and an indecent one; they are expected to render the fruits of their labors for little and even for nothing, and all the miracles of electronic dissemination somehow do not suffice for compensation, either of the fiscal or the spiritual kind. Everybody talks frantically about media, a second-order subject if ever there was one, as content disappears into “content.” What does the understanding of media contribute to the understanding of life? Journalistic institutions slowly transform themselves into silent sweatshops in which words cannot wait for thoughts, and first responses are promoted into best responses, and patience is a professional liability. As the frequency of expression grows, the force of expression diminishes: Digital expectations of alacrity and terseness confer the highest prestige upon the twittering cacophony of one-liners and promotional announcements. It was always the case that all things must pass, but this is ridiculous. Meanwhile the discussion of culture is being steadily absorbed into the discussion of business. There are “metrics” for phenomena that cannot be metrically measured. Numerical values are assigned to things that cannot be captured by numbers. Economic concepts go rampaging through noneconomic realms: Economists are our experts on happiness! Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be. Quantification is the most overwhelming influence upon the contemporary American understanding of, well, everything. It is enabled by the idolatry of data, which has itself been enabled by the almost unimaginable data-generating capabilities of the new technology. The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past.”
1.18 Capping an improbably comeback, The Seahawks beat the Packers 28-22 in Overtime, in a classic NFC championship game. The Seahawks trailed 16-0 at the half and 19-7 with about five minutes left. At the end, abetted by a blown onside kick recovery and a poorly defended two point conversion play, and by Green Bay’s inability not only to make a first down on two possessions, but even to run time off the clock, Seattle won.
guilt1.19 Dallas billboard, sent from Larry Bowman.
1.20 Completed the second season of The Fall. Excellent.
1.20 President Obama in the State of the Union address: “At this moment, with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production, we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come. Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort? Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet? Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another?—?or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?”
quade1.21 Luncheon at Rosa Mexicano for the New Mexico author Kirsten Valdez Quade
1.21 Meeting with Henry Bushkin at the Campbell Apartment
1.27 Fulfilling the requirement that players spend five minutes answering reporters’ questions, Marshawn Lynch respmds to 29 different questions by saying “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
1.30 Push the Cush Tour opens in Pleasantville with an appearance before The Group
2.1 In a very exciting Super Bowl, the Patriots beat the Seahawks. Seattle had the ball on the New England one with about twenty seconds left. Instead of giving the ball to the unstoppable Marshawn Lynch for the win, Seattle passed. The ball was intercepted, and everyone went home staggering in disbelief.
2.2 Predictions of a massive snowstorm go unrealized as storm forms further east over the Atlantic; we get about 8 inches. Boston, on the other hand, gets two feet.
2.9 Sen. Bernie Sanders at The Brookings Institute: “On Saturday, I was returning from Pennsylvania to D.C. and my friend and I drove through Gettysburg. . . .while there, we read Lincoln’s extraordinary Gettysburg address – where he spoke of his hope that this nation would have a “new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” And as we drove home it struck me hard that Lincoln’s beautiful vision – a government of the people, by the people, for the people – was, in fact, perishing, was coming to an end, and that we are moving rapidly away from our democratic heritage into an oligarchic form of society – where we are experiencing a government of the billionaire class, by the billionaire class and for the billionaire class. Today, the most serious problem we face is the grotesque and growing level of wealth and income inequality. This is a profound moral issue, this is an economic issue and this is a political issue.”

2.12 Kidney stone

2.13 Chappaqua Library

2.18 Lithotrypsy

2.20 Peter, Rick, Lisa re: Loose Lips

2.23 Jim Quinn

2.25 Rockland CWRT

2.27 Ulster Co. CWRT

2.28 Midnight Ramble, with Dave Jensen, who rescued me from a snow bank

3.7 President Obama, at the 50th anniversary of Selma: “As we commemorate their achievement, we are well-served to remember that at the time of the marches, many in power condemned rather than praised them. Back then, they were called Communists, half-breeds, outside agitators, sexual and moral degenerates, and worse – everything but the name their parents gave them. Their faith was questioned. Their lives were threatened. Their patriotism was challenged. And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people – the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many – coming together to shape their country’s course? What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals? That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents: “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.”

3.8 Maureen Dowd in the Times:  “Certainly, Hillary wants a lot of control. She has spent a lifetime cleaning up messes sparked by her overweening desire for control and her often out-of-control mate. She always feared that her emails could become fodder for critics, and now they have. Everyone is looking for signs in how Hillary approaches 2016 to see if she’s learned lessons from past trouble. But the minute this story broke, she went back to the bunker, even though she had known for months that the Republicans knew about the account. The usual hatchets — Philippe Reines, David Brock, Lanny Davis and Sidney Blumenthal — got busy. The Clintons don’t sparkle with honesty and openness. Between his lordly appetites and her queenly prerogatives, you always feel as if there’s something afoot. Everything needs to be a secret, from the Rose Law Firm records that popped up in a White House closet two years after they were subpoenaed to the formulation of her health care plan. Yet the Clintons always act as though it’s bad form when you bring up their rule-bending. They want us to compartmentalize, just as they do, to connect the dots that form a pretty picture and leave the other dots alone. If you’re aspiring to be the second president in the family, why is it so hard to be straight and direct and stand for something? Why can’t you just be upright and steady and good? Given all the mistakes they’ve made, why do they keep making them? Why do they somehow never do anything that doesn’t involve shadows?”

3.9 Gregg Easterbrook in the Times: “For many centuries, naval rivalry was a central aspect of great-power relations. Yet for more than half a century there has been no great-power naval rivalry — because the United States Navy rules. The last major sea battle was at Okinawa, in 1945. Piracy still occurs, but in the main, global trade has flowered because sea lanes are open and commercial vessels ply the oceans unthreatened by warships. Free commerce upon the oceans brings nearly all nations, including developing nations, higher living standards and less poverty. Since Navy operations take place far from home, Americans may be unaware of their country’s nautical strength and of the progressive role the Navy plays in world affairs. Many Americans have never seen an active-duty United States warship; ships can’t march in Fourth of July parades or fly over football games. But arguably, naval hegemony is among the greatest American achievements, and one that makes all nations better off. That hegemony is secured by such a dramatic margin that no naval buildup is needed.”

11025768_926198314087545_1942630060583210627_n3.11 A visit to Annapolis, and Rose

3.15 Document appears on Facebook that purports to show the payments that were made to the artists who performed at photo (35)Woodstock. The Grateful Dead needed a better agent.

3.19 A visit to La Salle

3.26 The New York Times:Andreas Lubitz was breathing, steady and calm, in the final moments of Germanwings Flight 9525. It was the only sound from within the cockpit that the voice recorder detected as Mr. Lubitz, the co­pilot, sent the plane into its descent. The sounds coming from outside the cockpit door on Tuesday were something else altogether: knocking and pleading from the commanding pilot that he be let in, then violent pounding on the door and finally passengers’ screams moments before the plane, carrying 150 people, slammed into a mountainside in the French Alps. Those clues led French prosecutors to say Thursday that the co­-pilot had locked the pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the plane. The sound of Mr. Lubitz’s breathing indicated that he was conscious to the end, Brice Robin, the Marseilles public prosecutor, said at a news conference. It appeared that Mr. Lubitz intended “to destroy the aircraft,” he said. “The interpretation we can give at this time is that the co­-pilot, through a deliberate act, refused to open the door of the cockpit to the commander, and activated the button that commands the loss of altitude,” Mr. Robin said.”

imrs3.31 Front page of the Indianapolis Star

3.31 David Letterman: “”This is not the Indiana I remember as a kid.  I lived there for 27 years, and folks were folks, and that’s all there was to it. We all breathed the same air, we were all carbon-based life forms. We didn’t care. Something’s gone haywire. It may be legal, but it ain’t right.”

4.1 Kurt and Lisa at Lisa’s apartment

4.1 Sen. Tom Cotton on CNN: “I think it’s important we have a sense of perspective. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay.”

4.2 Gail Collins: “The Indiana law was passed at a time of major frustration by the state’s social conservatives over a court ruling that made it impossible to pass a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. All those who believe the Indiana Legislature was acting out of concern over the right of Native Americans to use peyote raise their hands. “The politics as it went through the statehouse was clear,” said Deborah Widiss, a law professor at Indiana University. [Gov. Mike] Pence did have another explanation for why Indiana needed a religious freedom law right now. He said he wanted to expand the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which held that corporations have the right to refuse to cover the cost of contraception under the Affordable Care Act. “With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the need for a RFRA at the state level became more important, as the federal law does not apply to states,”  the governor wrote in The Wall Street Journal. Think about that for a minute. Indiana passes a law that is widely regarded as a sop to the state’s social conservatives for their inability to ban same-sex marriage. The Republican establishment expresses dismay at this interpretation, and insists that its only intention was to deprive female residents of the right to get birth control. We seem to have a pattern here. Last year in Arizona when the governor vetoed the anti-gay bill, the Legislature vented its frustration by passing a new anti-abortion law. The gay rights movement is winning, big time. But governments are still insisting on their authority to mess with the sex lives of heterosexual women. Right now, Indiana is in a mess, and residents are worried about the loss of jobs and investment because of a meaningless and spiteful piece of legislation. They should feel free to blame their governor. Mike Pence was supposed to be one of those evenheaded fiscal conservatives that moderate Republicans point to as a potential presidential candidate. But he didn’t have the foresight to see how badly this would turn out, or the spine to push back. . . .Pence and the Legislature want to appease the business community by amending the law. They’re currently trying to find a way to accomplish that mission while not upsetting the social conservatives they made so happy just last month. Good luck with that one, guys.”

awh (37)4.4 Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, separated by a very good French dinner at Benoit on 55th Street.

4.4 Perfection rejection! Wisconsin beats Kentucky, 71-64,  in the NCAA semifinals. At least Cara had a good time.10614300_10153243654946477_3251246062763853002_n

4.6 Thomas Friedman in the New York Times:  `I asked if there was a common denominator to his decisions to break free from longstanding United States policies isolating Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests vis-à-vis these three countries far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America, with its overwhelming power, needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities — like trying to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran that, while permitting it to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer. “We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk. And that’s the thing … people don’t seem to understand,” the president said. “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies. The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. … You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.” The notion that Iran is undeterrable — “it’s simply not the case,” he added. “And so for us to say, ‘Let’s try’ — understanding that we’re preserving all our options, that we’re not naïve — but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be secure, in a better position to protect our allies, and who knows? Iran may change. If it doesn’t, our deterrence capabilities, our military superiority stays in place. … We’re not relinquishing our capacity to defend ourselves or our allies. In that situation, why wouldn’t we test it?”

4.6 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Research debunks almost all the horse-race narratives beloved by political pundits — never mind who wins the news cycle, or who appeals to the supposed concerns of independent voters. What mainly matters is income growth immediately before the election. And I mean immediately: We’re talking about something less than a year, maybe less than half a year. This is, if you think about it, a distressing result, because it says that there is little or no political reward for good policy. A nation’s leaders may do an excellent job of economic stewardship for four or five years yet get booted out because of weakness in the last two quarters before the election. In fact, the evidence suggests that the politically smart thing might well be to impose a pointless depression on your country for much of your time in office, solely to leave room for a roaring recovery just before voters go to the polls. Actually, that’s a pretty good description of what the current British government has done.”

4.7  Dr. Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist: “I’m gonna say I think we’re going to have strong indications of life beyond earth within a decade and I think we’re going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,”

4.8 New York Post:  “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing by a federal jury that now must decide whether the 21-year-old former college student should be executed. . . .He was found guilty on charges that included conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction — offenses punishable by death. His conviction was practically a foregone conclusion, given his lawyer’s startling admission during opening statements that Tsarnaev carried out the attack with his now-dead older brother.”

4.8 Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson on The Ed Show: “I don’t normally codify or describe anything as historic, but [Obama’s deal with Iran] is in the category with Kissinger and Nixon opening China, with Camp David under Carter, with the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and so forth, George Bush‘s reunification of Germany and retention in NATO. We have a deal here that if it’s consummated in the complexity that it will need to be by the end of June, if it’s consummated this is a deal that has win win written all over it.” But if not? “I think it is going to be a much more dangerous region for sure. I am not one to go immediately to war. I would go to some sort of containment policy. And try to do something about it through that policy rather than going to war. But I know what my political party wants. My political party, at least some of them—the 47 for example who signed the letter to the Ayatollah—they want war.”

09firstdraft-obama-marley-tmagArticle4.9 President Obama visits the Bob Marley museum in Jamaica.

4.11 Ava Gardner on Frank Sinatra: “He was good in the feathers, and you don’t listen to what people say when a fella’s good in the feathers.”

4.12 Hilary Clinton announces presidential run.

4.12 Jordan Spieth, 21, following up on his second-place finish in his Masters debut last year, achieved a wire-to-wire victory.He became the second youngest Masters champion after Tiger Woods and tied for lowest score in the tournament’s history.

4.13 Jonathan Chiat, New York magazine: “The argument for Clinton in 2016 is that she is the candidate of the only major American political party not run by lunatics. There is only one choice for voters who want a president who accepts climate science and rejects voodoo economics, and whose domestic platform would not engineer the largest upward redistribution of resources in American history. Even if the relatively sober Jeb Bush wins the nomination, he will have to accommodate himself to his party’s barking-mad consensus. She is non-crazy America’s choice by default. And it is not necessarily an exciting choice, but it is an easy one, and a proposition behind which she will probably command a majority.”

4.13 David Blight, The Atlantic: “American society seems to surge forward one moment, and then in the next sink back into polarization over race and ethnicity, over the advent of the nation’s first black president, over the rights of immigrants, over religious tolerance and birthright citizenship, over reproductive freedom, over the use of basic science to understand climate change, over the extent and protection of voting rights, over civil rights based on sexual preference, and over endless and incompatible claims of “liberty” about the possession and use of firearms, taxation, environmental protection, or the right to health insurance. Perhaps above all, America is a society riven by conflict over federalism, the never-ending debate over the proper relation of federal to state power, perhaps the most lasting a legacy of what many nineteenth century Americans called the “secession war” or simply “the rebellion.” In short, despite enormous changes of heart, head and law, Americans still struggle every day to discern and enact that society of equality that the Civil War at least made imaginable. Yes, the Civil War was rooted in states’ rights, but like any other constitutional doctrine, it significance rests with the issue in whose service it is employed. States’ rights for or to do what? For whom or against whom? In 1860 and 1861, some Southerners exercised “state sovereignty” as an act of revolution in the interest, as they said over and over themselves, of preserving a racial order founded on slavery. Today, states’ rights claims are advanced by many governors, legislatures, and presidential candidates in the ubiquitous language of “limited government,” or resistance to “big government.” Every now and then, though, these claims are couched in the rhetoric of “secession” or even “nullification” made so infamous during the Civil War era. More often, such claims have manifested in a new Orwellian language etched into laws to protect the “right to work,” or “religious freedom,” or the “integrity of the ballot.Americans still struggle every day to discern and enact that society of equality that the Civil War at least made imaginable. Although these contemporary echoes from previous centuries ought not be treated as straight equivalence between past and present, far-right federalists, who dominate the movement called the Tea Party, and who have found a vigorous leadership position at the heart of the Republican Party and on the federal judiciary, have much in common with the secessionists of 1861. Both groups are distinct minorities who have suddenly seized an inordinate degree of power due to congressional districting practices and effective use of conspiracy theories about centralization and the “leviathan” state. One acted in revolution to create and save a slaveholders’ republic; the other seems determined to render the modern federal government all but obsolete for any purpose beyond national defense and the protection of private citizens from having to participate in a social contract with their fellow citizens in tax-supported programs such as Social Security, Medicare, public education, environmental protection, or disaster relief. Both groups claim their mantle of righteousness in the name of “liberty,” privatization, hyper-individualism and racial supremacy (one openly, the other covertly). Both vehemently claim the authority of the “Founders” as though the American Revolution and the creation of the Constitution have no history. Modern-day states’ rightists and sometimes nullifiers embrace versions of federalism that might once have been thought all but buried in the mass slaughter of the Civil War, or in the imperatives of the New Deal’s response to the Great Depression, or in the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts, or in the battle over the Environmental Protection Agency. But history does not end; it keeps happening. The radical wing of the conservative movement in America, still ascendant in Congress and dominant in most of the South, seems determined to repeal much of the twentieth-century social legislation, and even tear up its constitutional and social roots in the transformations of the 1860s. As Americans disturbingly learn, generation after generation, many have never fully accepted the verdicts of Appomattox. In 1867, Edward A. Pollard, a former Confederate partisan and editor of theRichmond Examiner, published The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates, one of the first of the thousands of books that have contested the meaning of the Civil War’s results. Pollard issued a warning to all who would ever try to shape the meaning and memory of the war or of Reconstruction policies and their legacies. “All that is left the South,” wrote Pollard, “is the war of ideas.” The war may have decided “the restoration of the Union and the excision of slavery,” he declared, “but the war did not decide Negro equality.” Wars of ideas, hopefully always conducted with civility and without weapons, are the essence of republicanism and democracy. But every time a federalist such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas vows to “stand on principle” and “stand up for liberty” in order to “reestablish the crucial boundary of dual sovereignty,” or pledges to protect “self-government” through a “return to our founding principles of limited government and local control,” his audience should be alert not only for political ambition, not only for policy positions advancing the liberties of the powerful against those of the powerless, but for an effort to push the present back into the lost causes of the past.”

4.22 “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” –Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, quoted in the New York Times

4.22 From a Times article on Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the LA Clippers:  “Phoenix Suns forward Reggie Bullock said Ballmer drew attention in his own way on game nights. “He has a very distinctive voice,” said Bullock, who was a Clipper until a trade in January. “It sounds like he’s howling at the moon.”. . ..The Clippers are a reflection of their new owner, all right. But it is not the goofy, giddy guy seen gyrating like a giant inflatable tube man near his baseline seat — most memorably during a January halftime performance by the singer Fergie that prompted the real estate mogul Donald Trump to describe Ballmer as “an embarrassment to rich people.”’

4.24 Paul Krugman in the Times:  “Last week, a zombie went to New Hampshire and staked its claim to the Republican presidential nomination. Well, O.K., it was actually Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. But it’s pretty much the same thing. You see, Mr. Christie gave a speech in which he tried to position himself as a tough-minded fiscal realist. In fact, however, his supposedly tough-minded policy idea was a classic zombie — an idea that should have died long ago in the face of evidence that undermines its basic premise, but somehow just keeps shambling along. But let us not be too harsh on Mr. Christie. A deep attachment to long-refuted ideas seems to be required of all prominent Republicans. Whoever finally gets the nomination for 2016 will have multiple zombies as his running mates. Start with Mr. Christie, who thought he was being smart and brave by proposing that we raise the age of eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare to 69. Doesn’t this make sense now that Americans are living longer? No, it doesn’t. This whole line of argument should have died in 2007, when the Social Security Administration issued a report showing that almost allthe rise in life expectancy has taken place among the affluent. The bottom half of workers, who are precisely the Americans who rely on Social Security most, have seen their life expectancy at age 65 rise only a bit more than a year since the 1970s. Furthermore, while lawyers and politicians may consider working into their late 60s no hardship, things look somewhat different to ordinary workers, many of whom still have to perform manual labor. And while raising the retirement age would impose a great deal of hardship, it would save remarkably little money. In fact, a 2013 report from the Congressional Budget Office found that raising the Medicare age would save almost no money at all. But Mr. Christie — like Jeb Bush, who quickly echoed his proposal — evidently knows none of this. The zombie ideas have eaten his brain.”

4.24 Richard Corliss dies at 71. “The long view of cinema aesthetics is irrelevant to a moviegoer for whom history began with Star Wars. A well-turned phrase is so much throat-clearing to a reader who wants the critic to cut to the chase: What movie is worth my two hours and six bucks this weekend? Movie criticism of the elevated sort, as practiced over the past half-century by James Agee and Manny Farber, Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael, J. Hoberman and Dave Kehr — in the mainstream press and in magazines like ‘Film Comment’— is an endangered species. Once it flourished; soon it may perish, to be replaced by a consumer service that is no brains and all thumbs.”

4.25 Tom DeLay, quoted in rawstory.com: “I think we got off the track when we allowed our government to become a secular government. When we stopped realizing that God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.”

4.25 Lincoln Depot Museum Speaker

4.25 Best jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner: Cecily Strong on the Secret Service: “The only law enforcement agency that actually gets in trouble if a black guy gets shot.” President Obama on Hillary Clinton: “I have one friend—just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year, and now she’s living out of a van in Iowa.” Luther, Obama’s “anger translator” (played by Keegan-Michael Key) on Hillary Clinton’s campaign: “Khaleesi is coming to Westeros”! Cecily Strong on Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid: “I’m excited about Hillary running, though I’m not sure she’s excited about having to run. I imagine she feels the same way Meryl Streep feels when she’s asked to audition for something.” Strong:  “We tried to get Memories Pizza to cater this event but they heard a rumor Barney Frank was going to be here.  So thanks a lot, Barney. We could have had that world famous Indiana pizza.” Strong: “Our relationship [with Israel] will be better in the next administration, just as soon as Israel makes a generous donation to the Clinton Foundation.” Strong on Carly Fiorina: “Seems like a lot of work just to be a Fox News pundit.”

photo (38)4.25 Steve Winwood

4.26 The New York Times: “The decision by PEN American Center to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage award to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo has prompted six writers to withdraw as literary hosts at the group’s annual gala on May 5, adding a new twist to the continuing debate over the publication’s status as a martyr for free speech. The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn from the gala. . . .Mr. Carey, in an email interview yesterday, said the award stepped beyond the group’s traditional role of protecting freedom of expression against government oppression.“A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?” he wrote. He added, “All this is complicated by PEN’s seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognize its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population.” . . . .The withdrawals reflect the debate over Charlie Hebdo that erupted immediately after the attack, with some questioning whether casting the victims as free-speech heroes ignored what some saw as the magazine’s particular glee in beating up on France’s vulnerable Muslim minority. In an essay for The New Yorker’s website after the attack, Mr. Cole noted that the magazine claimed to offend all parties, but in fact in recent years “has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations.” (Mr. Cole declined to comment for this article.) This month, the cartoonist Garry Trudeau drew criticism from a number of news-media commentators for saying in a speech that “by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech.” . . .But Salman Rushdie, a former PEN president who lived in hiding for years after a fatwa in response to his novel “The Satanic Verses,” said . . .“If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name,” Mr. Rushdie said. “What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”

mom34.27 Baltimore riots after funeral of a man killed in police custody.

4.27 John Angelos, COO of the Baltimore Orioles: “Speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible. That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state. The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”

5.1 Saw The Avengers: The Age of Ultron. Why did Captain America not say `Avengers Assemble’?

5.1 Alex Rodriguez hits home run 660, the first pinch hit homer of his career . Sports Illustrated: “Rodriguez has become a different hitter. He is no longer a great hitter, but he is athreat, which shows in how pitchers are approaching him. His contact rate is the worst it’s been in at least 14 years, his strikeout rate is the worst it’s been since he was a teenager, and yet his walk rate is higher than ever before. He is a righthanded Adam Dunn, king of the three true outcomes (home runs, strikeouts and walks).”

5.2 Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: “There’s a phrase I’ve been thinking about a lot recently by the great Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn has this great, great quote that I think about all the time: He says in his book The Gulag Archipelago,  “Wherever the law is, crime can be found.” And I love this quote—it’s a beautifully written sentence—because it hints at, though it does not say, the human agency in law and what we call people. And so, certain things are violence, and certain things are not. Certain things are the acts committed by thugs, and certain things are the acts committed by the law. And in terms of rendering black people illegitimate, in terms of putting black people in certain boxes where things can be done to them, the vocabulary is very, very important—the law is very, very important—in terms of where we draw the line.”

5.2 Gloria Steinem, quoted on Facebook about a trip to North Korea: “I’m the oldest person on this trip, I’m the only one who remembers the Korean War and the armistice. So it seems an obligation to point it out, especially since in my lifetime I have been told that the Soviet Union absolutely could not change without major bloodshed, that apartheid would never end in South Africa without an enormous war, that the Berlin Wall would not fall as long as the Soviet Union existed, that the Irish conflict would never [be] solved. I’ve been consistently told that all of these conflicts would not end without war. Yet they have, and they have ended because people talked to each other.”

5.5 The New York Times: “For investors in hedge funds, like big pension funds, 2014 was not a lucrative year. But for those who managed their money, the pay was spectacular. The top 25 hedge fund managers reaped $11.62 billion in compensation in 2014, according to an annual ranking published on Tuesday by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine. That collective payday came even as hedge funds, once high-octane money makers, returned on average low-single digits. In comparison, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index posted a gain of 13.68 percent last year when reinvested dividends were included. Still, the men (no woman has ever made the cut) at the top of the hedge fund universe now run firms that are bigger than they have ever been. Their influence is growing beyond the industry and even beyond Wall Street. They lobby in Washington, donate to political campaigns nationwide, and can pick their advisers from a pool of former central bankers.”

5.11 The NFL suspends Tom Brady for four games, further penalizes the Patriots for Deflategate violations.

5.13 Appearance at Ossining Library

5.15 Pitch Perfect 2. Funny!

5.16 Anniversary Party

ayoga-good-for-the-brain-celebrity-yogis-agree-after-mad-men-finale5.17 Last episode of Mad Men

5.18 Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams at The City Winerylt

5.19 Appearance at the Ryerson Civil War Roundtable, Vernon NJ.

5.20 Simon Pegg in a Radio Times interview: “Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie and Clyde and The French Connection — gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed. I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste. We’re essentially all consuming very childish things — comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously! It is a kind of dumbing down in a way. . . Because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about…whatever. Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.”

Lettermen set5.20 David Letterman signs off

5.20 From The New York Times: “Four large global banks —Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays andRoyal Bank of Scotland — pleaded guilty to a series of federal crimes over a scheme to manipulate the value of the world’s currencies. The Justice Department accused the banks of collusion in one of the largest and yet least regulated markets. . . In announcing the cases, the Justice Department emphasized that the banks’ parent companies entered the guilty pleas rather than a subsidiary, representing a new frontier in efforts to punish Wall Street misdeeds. At a news conference, Loretta E. Lynch showed that she had taken on the mantle as top Wall Street cop, less than a month after she was confirmed to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general. “Today’s historic resolutions are the latest in our ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes,” Ms. Lynch said on Wednesday.For the banks, though, life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems. Although they could be barred by American regulators from certain activities, the banks scrambled behind the scenes to persuade those regulators to grant exemptions. That process, which delayed the Justice Department’s announcement by a week, already led to the Securities and Exchange Commission providing a number of waivers that allow the banks to conduct business as usual.”

5.22 Robert DeNiro delivers commencement speech at NYU Tisch: “When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump commonsense. You weren’t just following dreams, you were reaching for your destiny. You’re a dancer, a singer, a choreographer, musician, a filmmaker, a writer, a photographer, a director, a producer, an actor, an artist. Yeah, you’re fucked. The good news is that’s not a bad place to start. Now that you’ve made your choice or rather succumbed to it, your path is clear, not easy but clear. You have to keep working. It’s that simple. You got through Tisch, that’s a big deal. Or put it another way: You got through Tisch, big deal. Well, it’s a start. On this day of triumphantly graduating, a new door is opening for you: a door to a lifetime of rejection. It’s inevitable. It’s what graduates call the real world. You’ll experience it auditioning for a part or a place in a company. It’ll happen to you when you’re looking for backers for a project. You’ll feel it when doors close on you while you’re trying to get attention for something you’ve written or when you’re looking for a directing or choreography job. How do I cope with it? I hear that Valium and Vicodin work. Eh, I don’t know. You can’t be too relaxed and do what we do, and you don’t want to block the pain too much. Without the pain, what will we talk about?”

bock5.23 Mad Max: Fury Road, followed by dinner at the Port Chest Beer Hall

5.31 Chris Hedges in Truthdig: “The final stages of capitalism, Marx wrote, would be marked by developments that are intimately familiar to most of us. Unable to expand and generate profits at past levels, the capitalist system would begin to consume the structures that sustained it. It would prey upon, in the name of austerity, the working class and the poor, driving them ever deeper into debt and poverty and diminishing the capacity of the state to serve the needs of ordinary citizens. It would, as it has, increasingly relocate jobs, including both manufacturing and professional positions, to countries with cheap pools of laborers. Industries would mechanize their workplaces. This would trigger an economic assault on not only the working class but the middle class—the bulwark of a capitalist system—that would be disguised by the imposition of massive personal debt as incomes declined or remained stagnant. Politics would in the late stages of capitalism become subordinate to economics, leading to political parties hollowed out of any real political content and abjectly subservient to the dictates and money of global capitalism. But as Marx warned, there is a limit to an economy built on scaffolding of debt expansion. There comes a moment, Marx knew, when there would be no new markets available and no new pools of people who could take on more debt. This is what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis. Once the banks cannot conjure up new subprime borrowers, the scheme falls apart and the system crashes. Capitalist oligarchs, meanwhile, hoard huge sums of wealth—$18 trillion stashed in overseas tax havens—exacted as tribute from those they dominate, indebt and impoverish. Capitalism would, in the end, Marx said, turn on the so-called free market, along with the values and traditions it claims to defend. It would in its final stages pillage the systems and structures that made capitalism possible. It would resort, as it caused widespread suffering, to harsher forms of repression. It would attempt in a frantic last stand to maintain its profits by looting and pillaging state institutions, contradicting its stated nature.”

5.31 Orin Kerr in The Volokh Conspiracy: “If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy. Yikes.”Christie-baseball-pants-707x1024

awh6.3 Reading of Loose Lips at Lisa Birnbach‘s apartment

6.4 Gov. Chris Christie plays in a charity softball game benefiting the families of fallen NYPD officers

6.4 Interview with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams at the White Horse Tavern, where I had never been before.

6.4 Dinner with Henry Bushkin at Doc Watson’s on Second Avenue

6.15 Thunderclap at 415, followed by 30 minute deluge. Rest of the day eventless.

6.15 Chicago Blackhawks defeat Tampa Bay Lightening, four games to two. Close series.

6.15 Donald Trump announces that he is a candidate for president.

6.15 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Something important is happening, and in the long run it will matter a great deal. Ever sinceRonald Reagan’s election in 1980, Democrats have been on the ideological defensive. Even when they won elections they seemed afraid to endorse clearly progressive positions, eager to demonstrate their centrism by supporting policies like cuts to Social Security that their base hated. But that era appears to be over. The Democratic Party is becoming more assertive about its traditional values. Why? Part of the answer is that Democrats, despite defeats in midterm elections, believe — rightly or wrongly — that the political wind is at their backs. Growing ethnic diversity is producing what should be a more favorable electorate; growing tolerance is turning social issues, once a source of Republican strength, into a Democratic advantage instead. Reagan was elected by a nation in which half the public still disapproved of interracial marriage; Hillary Clinton is running to lead a nation in which 60 percent support same-sex marriage. At the same time, Democrats seem finally to have taken on board something political scientists have been telling us for years: adopting ‘centrist’ positions in an attempt to attract swing voters is a mug’s game, because such voters don’t exist. Most supposed independents are in fact strongly aligned with one party or the other, and the handful who aren’t are mainly just confused. So you might as well take a stand for what you believe in.”

6.16 Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers, four game to two. A gallant LeBron James carries his depleted team as far as he could.

6.17  Nine people were murdered by a racist gunman during a Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

6.19 “You took something very precious away from me,” said Nadine Collier, daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, her voice rising in anguish. “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Take down the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ConfederateFlag?src=hash”>#ConfederateFlag</a> at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Charleston?src=hash”>#Charleston</a> victims.</p>&mdash; Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MittRomney/status/612276050182049792″>June 20, 2015</a></blockquote>
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TURTLE)6.19 Alex Rodriguez joins the 3000 hit club.

6.22 Big turtle laying eggs in the Pocantico.

6.22 Paul Krugman in the Times: “In 2012 the Supreme Court gave individual states the option, if they so chose, of blocking the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, a key part of the plan to provide health insurance to lower-income Americans. But why would any state choose to exercise that option? After all, states were being offered a federally-funded program that would provide major benefits to millions of their citizens, pour billions into their economies, and help support their health-care providers. Who would turn down such an offer? The answer is, 22 states at this point, although some may eventually change their minds. And what do these states have in common? Mainly, a history of slaveholding: Only one former member of the Confederacy has expanded Medicaid, and while a few Northern states are also part of the movement, more than 80 percent of the population in Medicaid-refusing America lives in states that practiced slavery before the Civil War. And it’s not just health reform: a history of slavery is a strong predictor of everything from gun control (or rather its absence), to low minimum wages and hostility to unions, to tax policy.”

6.22 President Obama on Mark Maron‘s podcast: “’Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

6.23 South Carolina State Senator Paul Thurmond: “Our ancestors were literally fighting to keep human beings as slaves, and to ciacontinue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. I am not proud of this heritage.”

6.23 Bill Tonelli on Facebook, re: the escaped prisoners story: Here’s a novel just waiting for somebody to type it up: “The husband of a prison employee who is accused of aiding two convicted killers in their escape said the inmates threatened to kill him if she did not follow through with their getaway plan. In his first extensive remarks on the escape, the husband, Lyle Mitchell, told the “Today” show on NBC in an interview televised on Tuesday that his wife, Joyce E. Mitchell, was drawn to the inmates by the “attention” they gave her, but that she realized she was in over her head when they began threatening to hurt him. “She didn’t know if I loved her anymore, she said,” Mr. Mitchell recounted. “And they give her a little attention, she said, and it just it went too far.”

6.24 Dinner at the Culinary Institute America with Greg, Susan and Ginny. The theme was Pangyra. We had chilled cucumber and radish soup, red beet hummus, fried pine needles, seared arctic chard, roasted celery root, braised artichokes, squash with duck egg vinegarette, tagine of char grilled chicken, summer pudding and hudson valley cheeses. Plus a delicious cocktail called Tears of Chios.

6.25 The Supreme Court affirms the Affordable Health Care Act by a 6-3 vote. Chief Justice Roberts: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

6.26 The Supreme Court affirms gay marriage by a 5-4 vote.

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7.5 Behind a hat trick from the superb Carli Lloyd–the tournament MVP scored all three goals in the first sixteen minutes–the United States Women’s Soccer Team defeated Japan, 5-2, to win the World Cup. The US captured the cup for the first time since the immortal 1999 won.

7.7 Jon Pareles in the Times: “The Grateful Dead was a band that celebrated the vanishing moment: never playing a song the same way twice, letting every player improvise, singing about a sunshine daydream or a ripple in still water. But it was also the band whose initial run lasted 30 years, whose every performance was obsessively documented by fans and the band, and whose style became the lingua franca of countless jam bands.”
7.11 Dinner party with Greg and Susan, Tim and Cathy, and Molly
7.18 Dinner with Ginny at Hopscotch

200px-RagtimeDoctrorowHardcover7.21 E.L. Doctorow dies
8.4 Loose Lips reading at Lisa’s
8.6 The 17 member, two-tiered GOP debate
8.6 Jon Stewart signs off
8.7 Donald Trump re: Megyn Kelly on CC: ““You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever”
8.8 Neil Genzlinger in the Times: “He delivered a monologue on the theme of bullshit, a word he used over and over in the span of a few minutes. He called out public officials who give names like the Patriot Act to their legislation because the Are You Scared Enough to Let Me Look at All of Your Phone Records Act would not have sold. He called out financiers and politicians and assorted others for two-facedness. It was the kind of piece Lewis Black would have screamed while frothing at the mouth. Mr. Stewart skipped the theatrics and delivered it fairly calmly, as if he wanted to make sure we knew it was not a gag. Mr. Stewart was returning to the beginning — he was delivering a mission statement. The mere fact that it had a mission is what made “The Daily Show” stand out in the first place. Mr. Letterman, Mr. Carson and Jay Leno were on for more years, but their late-night sessions behind the desk were solely for the purpose of entertaining. Mr. Stewart was after something more, and achieved it.”
8.8 John Dickerson on Facebook: “Stepping back for a moment and looking at things anthropologically: The influences on politics have put us in some strange territory. The story in politics for the moment is about a blogger turned mini king-maker not inviting a billionaire front-runner to his event because the first-time candidate said a cable news host asked tough questions because she was hormonal. This has led to a parsing of the underlying statement. Candidates are weighing in on the topic. If you had bet on this scenario happening in your office pool you should turn your attention to the stock market.”
gallery-1439556129-hbz-sharon-stone-18.14 Sharon Stone in Harper’s Bazaar
8.22 Giants pre-season game with Paul Lindstrom and Nadia Lindstrom
8.23 Ken Burns on Face the Nation: “We’ve grown up as country with a lot of powerful symbols of the Civil War in popular culture that would be ‘Birth of a Nation,’ D.W. Griffiths’ classic, and ‘Gone with the Wind,’ of course,” he explained. “And in that, it postulates, among other things, both films, that the Ku Klux Klan, which is a homegrown terrorist organization, was actually a heroic force in the story of the Civil War. So it’s no wonder that Americans have permitted themselves to be sold a bill of goods about what happened, oh, it’s about states’ rights, it’s about nullification, it’s about differences between cultural and political and economic forces that shaped the North and the South. {South Carolina’s Articles of Secession] do not mention states’ rights. They mention slavery, slavery, slavery. And that we have to remember. It is much more complicated than that, but essentially the reason why we murdered each other — more than 2 percent of our population, 750,000 Americans died; that’s more than all the wars from the Revolution through Afghanistan combined — was over essentially the issue of slavery. The main American theme, I think, is freedom,” he noted. “But we also notice that race is always there. Always there. When Thomas Jefferson says all men are created equal, he owns a couple hundred human beings and he doesn’t see the contradiction or the hypocrisy and doesn’t free anybody in his lifetime and sets in motion an American narrative that is bedeviled by a question of race. And we struggle with it. We try to ignore it. We pretend, with the election of Barack Obama, that we’re in some post-racial society,” he continued. “And what we have seen is a kind of reaction to this. The birther movement, of which Donald Trump is one of the authors of, is another politer way of saying the N word. It’s just more sophisticated and a little bit more clever. He’s ‘other,’ he’s different.What’s actually ‘other’ and different about him? It turns out it’s the same old thing. It’s the color of his skin.”
8.24 Saratoga battlefied
8.24 Saratoga Springs
8.25 Cooperstown
8.26 Baseball Hall of Fame. Meh.
8.26 In Roanoke VA, an on-air reporter doing a live remote report and a cameraman were shot and killed by an ex-colleage
SCAN01049.1 Man from UNCLE
9.2 Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
9.3 Kykuit
9.3 Museum Village
9.3 Judge vacates suspension of Teflon Tom Brady
9.4 Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “What Kim Davis did was troubling. What Ted Cruz did was downright alarming.Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, refused to issue marriage certificates to gay couples. She said she was operating “under God’s authority,” but she now sits in jail for ignoring federal authority. Davis, at least, is facing the consequences of her actions. Not so Cruz, senator from Texas and Republican presidential candidate. “Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny,” he said. “Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. . . . I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally.” Tyranny? Our system of government gives the Supreme Court final say over constitutional matters, and, though Cruz doesn’t like it, the court ordered states to recognize same-sex marriages. In fact, the high court specifically declined to give relief to Davis, and the federal judge who ordered her jailed for contempt of court is a George W. Bush appointee and son of a former Republican senator. Now Cruz, who took an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution,” wants people to defy the Supreme Court’s authority? Who is the lawless one? Cruz isn’t the only Republican candidate seeking the nation’s highest office while encouraging people to ignore its laws. Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, declared: “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, too, supported Davis, and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) called her jailing “absurd” and said stands such as Davis’s are “an important part of the American way.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that “you have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there. It’s a fundamental right.” True. And there’s a proud American tradition of defying unjust laws with civil disobedience. But nobody is denying Davis freedom to believe what she wishes; she’s merely being ordered to do what she swore to do: “faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor.” Refusing to do so doesn’t make her Martin Luther King Jr. It makes her George Wallace.”
9.4 Talk at Glen Arden Senior Citizens Residence, Goshen NY
9.7 Paul Krugman in the Times: “As of last month, the U.S. unemployment rate, which was 7.8 percent when Mr. Obama took office, had fallen to 5.1 percent. For the record, Mr. Romney promised during the campaign that he would get unemployment down to 6 percent by the end of 2016. Also for the record, the current unemployment rate is lower than it ever got under Ronald Reagan.”
8.9 Andrew Ross Sorkin in the Times: “Not everyone thinks Jobs was a jerk. Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, wrote on Twitter that he felt the Gibney film was “an inaccurate and meanspirited view of my friend. It’s not a reflection of the Steve I knew.” But the black hat-white hat version of Jobs may be too confining. In a fascinating interview last year with Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s famed designer and longtime friend of Jobs, recounted a telling story. He remembered a time when Jobs had been tough — too tough, in Mr. Ive’s estimation — on his team. Mr. Ive pulled him aside and told him to be bit nicer. “Well, why?” Jobs replied. “Because I care about the team,” Mr. Ive responded. “And he said this brutally, brilliantly insightful thing, which was, ‘No, Jony, you’re just really vain,’ ” Mr. Ive recalled. “He said, ‘You just want people to like you, and I’m surprised at you because I thought you really held the work up as the most important, not how you believed you were perceived by other people.’ ” That story and the documentary left me with me with two questions: Would you rather do something extraordinary that benefits the lives of millions of people? Or be liked by several hundred? And does it have to be an either-or question? The answer, like Jobs, is complicated.”
9.20 Mets-Yankees game with Dave Jensen. Matt Harvey starts for the Mets.
har1harveyhar3har49.22 Joe Nocera in the Times: “Trump claims, implausibly, to be worth over $8 billion. (Forbes puts his net worth at half that amount.) But even taking him at his word, that sum is less impressive than you’d think. As several writers have pointed out, if, in 1988, he had simply put his money in a stock index fund, it would be worth $13 billion today. In effect, his post-1988 business career has cost him $5 billion.”
9.22 In an unauthorized biography of British prime minister David Cameron, Lord Ashcroft, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.says that Cameron once inserted his penis into the mouth of a dead pig during the initiation for a debauched and secretive society at the University of Oxford.
9.23 Yogi Berra dies at 90.
10.6 Ben Carson, describing how he would handle the Pergon mass murderer: “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can’t get us all.”
10.7 Ben Carson: “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
10.9 James Kwak in The Baseline Scenario: “Hillary Clinton is competing for the nomination of a party whose progressive base thinks, with considerable justification, that her husband is to blame for letting Wall Street run amok—and that Barack Obama, under whom she served, did too little to rein in the bankers who torpedoed the global economy. On top of that, she faces a competitor who says what the people actually think: that the system is rigged, that big banks should be restrained, and that people should go to jail. So she has no choice but to try to appear tough on Wall Street—but she has to do that without simply jettisoning twenty-five years of “New Democrat” friendliness to business and without alienating the financial industry donors she is counting on. So the “plan” she announced yesterday has two messages. On the one hand, she wants to show that she has the right approach to taming Wall Street. Unfortunately, it’s just more of the same: another two dozen or so regulatory tweaks, mainly of the arcane variety, that will produce more of the massive, loophole-ridden rules that Dodd-Frank gave us.Or, that could be the point. Her second message is a promise to the financial industry that, instead of real structural reforms, she will continue the technocratic incrementalism of the Geithner era—which has left the megabanks more or less the way they were on the eve of the financial crisis. Maybe, for her base, that’s a feature, not a bug.”
10.13 Playboy announces that it will stop running pictures of nude women.
10.13 The Democrats debate. Charles Blow in the Times: “Hillary Clinton crushed it.”
10.13 David Brooks in the Times: “Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple. This produced a radical mind-set. Conservatives started talking about the Reagan “revolution,” the Gingrich “revolution.” Among people too ill educated to understand the different spheres, political practitioners adopted the mental habits of the entrepreneur. Everything had to be transformational and disruptive. Hierarchy and authority were equated with injustice. Self-expression became more valued than self-restraint and coalition building. A contempt for politics infested the Republican mind. Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions. It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests. But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal. A weird contradictory mentality replaced traditional conservatism. Republican radicals have contempt for politics, but they still believe that transformational political change can rescue the nation. Republicans developed a contempt for Washington and government, but they elected leaders who made the most lavish promises imaginable. Government would be reduced by a quarter! Shutdowns would happen! The nation would be saved by transformational change! As Steven Bilakovics writes in his book “Democracy Without Politics,” “even as we expect ever less of democracy we apparently expect ever more from democracy.”’
10.15 Speaking in Austin
10.16 Visit Matt in Tucson
10.17 Donald Trump: “I think I’m much more competent than all of them. I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during [George W. Bush’s] time. He was president, OK? . . . Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
10.21 Behind overpowering pitching by Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob de Grom, the hitting of Curtis Granderson, and an out-of-the-world slugging performance from series MVP Daniel Murphy, the Mets sweep the Cubs and win their fifth National League championship. Next up: Royals or Blue Jays.
10.22 Benghazi committee grills Hillary Clinton for 11 hours, learns nothing.
10.23 Dan Balz in the Washington Post: “Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s appearance before the House Benghazi committee provided one more example of the breakdown of a Republican Party torn by factionalism and heavily influenced by a cadre of supporters who are far less interested in governing than in expressing its anger.By the time the committee ended 11 hours of questioning of the Democratic presidential front-runner, the long day of testimony had come to symbolize seven years of Republican frustration with the administration of President Obama — and the fears within the party that it could face another four or eight years of Democratic occupation of the White House. This combustible mix already had brought disorder to the search for a successor to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and has turned the Republican race for the White House on its head. The Republicans are now at a moment where events are forcing them to rethink and regroup, but to what end? What happens in the fight for the Republican presidential nomination is the most important test of where the party may be heading. Currently, the GOP primary electorate appears enamored with two candidates — Donald Trump and Ben Carson — with no experience in elective office and no clear principles or guidelines for how they would govern.
10.23 Met Matt Vaughn
photophoto 1photo 210.24 Ginny and I attend the Alpaca Showtacular in Syracuse
10.24 Saw Bridge of Spies, saved Ginny’s life
10.26 Paul Krugman, quoted in Salon: “Obamacare hasn’t been perfect, butconsidering the scorched-earth opposition it has faced,” it has been remarkably successful, as 16 million people who wouldn’t otherwise be insured currently are — and “[m]illions more would be…if Republican-controlled states weren’t refusing to expand Medicaid (even though the federal government would pay the costs) and generally trying to obstruct the program.” He continued, asking: “Oh, and have you noticed how those ads featuring people supposedly hurt by Obamacare have disappeared? That’s because none of their stories held up.”

Actress Charlize Theron poses for photographers during a promotional event in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Actress Charlize Theron poses for photographers during a promotional event in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
10.28 Charlize Theron in Hong Kong
10.28 William Rivers Pitt in truthout.org: “On Friday – the news day when these people hope no one is looking – Bush announced a major evisceration of the campaign. Mass firings of staff members, and a 40 percent cut in payroll, including funds for travel … and if you can’t travel as a candidate, you’re not a candidate; you’re just a guy on TV with an exclamation point after your name on the campaign posters you can no longer afford to print. Also on Friday, CBS News reported that the candidate would be attending a summit with his father, George H.W. Bush, and his brother, George W. Bush, to discuss the ongoing viability of his run. This was pathetic on a truly grand scale. Here is a candidate for the presidency of the United States running to Daddy for help … and running to the worst president in the history of the country for advice. One may as well ask a car wreck for wisdom. October has been the cruelest month for Jeb Bush. It was revealed that he has his own email scandal brewing, one that appears to have far more substance than his assumed Democratic opponent. The New York Times revealed that half his fortune came from businesses he worked with while governor of Florida. At an event in South Carolina a few days ago, in which he shared the stage with none other than Trey Gowdy, author of that nifty little Hillary-Benghazi Fail hearing, Bush had himself a nifty little meltdown. “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them,” he spat. “That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.” Yikes.”
10.30 Anthony Bourdain quoted in the Washington Post: `If Mr. Trump deports 11 million people or whatever he’s talking about right now, every restaurant in America would shut down. Serious minds can honestly disagree over what we want to do in the future as far as how tightly we want to control our borders and how many people we want to let in. But for the people who’ve been living here, and who are so much part of our lives, and who have done nothing but do their best to achieve the American dream … there should be an easy path to legality.”
10.30: Paul Krugman in the Times: “Mr. Rubio has emerged as the leading conventional candidate thanks to Jeb Bush’s utter haplessness. There was a time when Mr. Rubio’s insistence that $6 trillion in tax cuts would somehow pay for themselves would have marked him as deeply unserious, especially given the way his party has been harping on the evils of budget deficits. Even George W. Bush, during the 2000 campaign, at least pretended to be engaged in conventional budgeting, handing back part of a projected budget surplus. But the Republican base doesn’t care what the mainstream media says. Indeed, after Wednesday’s debate the Internet was full of claims that John Harwood, one of the moderators, lied about Mr. Rubio’s tax plan. (He didn’t.) And in any case, Mr. Rubio sounds sensible compared to the likes of Mr. Carson and Mr. Trump. So there’s no penalty for his fiscal fantasies.”
11219626_10153731957516477_8881910984821374314_n12208753_127618564264746_5077185965065638015_n10.31 Halloween: Cara; Molly with her friend Shelby (left)
11.1 Fred Thompson dies at 73.
11.1 In New Orleans, the Saints beat the Giants 52-49. Drew Brees threw 7 TD passes, and Eli Manning threw 6.
11.1 The Kansas City Royals won the World Series, beating the Mets 4 games to 1. The Mets were one out from winning Game One, and five outs from winning Game Four, and one out from winning Game Five. As happens so often in these short series, the Mets weaknesses were exposed: inconsistent middle relief, a weak bench, and poor fielding. But their starting pitching is amazing, and should provide a foundation for more postseason fun in the future.
11.2 Paul Krugman in the Times: Last year the economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson circulated a paper comparing economic performance under Democratic and Republican presidents since 1947. Under Democrats, the economy grew, on average, 4.35 percent per year; under Republicans, only 2.54 percent. Over the whole period, the economy was in recession for 49 quarters; Democrats held the White House during only eight of those quarters. But isn’t the story different for the Obama years? Not as much as you think. Yes, the recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-2009 has been sluggish. Even so, the Obama record compares favorably on a number of indicators with that of George W. Bush. In particular, despite all the talk about job-killing policies, private-sector employment is eight million higher than it was when Barack Obama took office, twice the job gains achieved under his predecessor before the recession struck.”
11.4 From the Times: After years of holding back, former President George Bush has finally broken his public silence about some of the key figures in his son’s administration, issuing scathing critiques of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In interviews with his biographer, Jon Meacham, Mr. Bush said that Mr. Cheney had built “his own empire” and asserted too much “hard-line” influence within George W. Bush’s White House in pushing for the use of force around the world. Mr. Rumsfeld, the elder Mr. Bush said, was an “arrogant fellow” who could not see how others thought and “served the president badly.” Mr. Bush’s sharp assessments, contained in “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” gave voice to sentiments that many long suspected he had harbored but kept private until now. While he continued to praise his son, he did tell Mr. Meacham that the younger Mr. Bush was responsible for empowering Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld and was at times too bellicose in his language. “I do worry about some of the rhetoric that was out there — some of it his, maybe, and some of it the people around him,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Meacham. “Hot rhetoric is pretty easy to get headlines, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the diplomatic problem.” Asked for specifics, Mr. Bush cited his son’s State of the Union address in 2002, when he described an “axis of evil” that included Iraq, Iran and North Korea. “You go back to the ‘axis of evil’ and these things and I think that might be historically proved to be not benefiting anything,” he said.
11.6 From the New York Post: “Robert DeNiro channeled his inner Vito Corleone to oddly verbally whack a tech mogul at a chic MoMA gala on Wednesday. The star was presenting an award to Angelina Jolie at the WSJ. Magazine Innovator Awards when he took exception to an earlier acceptance speech. “We are a long way from San Francisco,” joked tech mogul Stewart Butterfield of hot app Slack, when he scanned the room of “supermodels and movie stars” including Karlie Kloss, Brad Pitt and Jared Leto, who gave him the award. Butterfield joked he was receiving the “nerd award” and pointed at De Niro, mentioning, “I watched ‘Godfather II’ on the plane . . . when you killed Don Fanucci, I liked that.” De Niro, up next, growled, “Whoever the last speaker was . . . I thought you were a bit condescending to us actors . . . celebrities. I’m gonna go on record with you just to say that. And I don’t give a fuck who you are.”
photo (55)11.7 Cousins party at Ali‘s house in Bel Air. Gas at $1.85 a gallon in Fort Lee NJ
11/10 Asked if he would kill Baby Hitler, Jeb Bush said “Hell yeah, I would! You gotta step up, man. The problem with going back in history, as we know from the Back in the Future movies, is that it could have a dangerous effect on everything else. But I’d do it — I mean, it’s Hitler.”
11.10 Appellate court strikes down Obama’s executive orders on immigration, setting up a Supreme Court review and decision next June. At that time, the court will either agree with Obama, handing him a big victory, or will overrule Obama, insuring that tens of millions of Hispanic voters will vote Democratic in 2016, and for a generation following. Kung Fu Master Obama strikes!
11.11 Steve Jobs. A tour de force of writing and acting, the film bombards one with information. What does one feel at the end? Battered, really. Confused about the character.
635830428045355966-AFP-546373758
11.12 James Kwak in the Baseline Scenario: “In Georgia, you can get a life sentence for a second or succeeding drug offense. Right now, there are 375 people serving those life sentences. 369 of them—more than 98%—are African-American. There’s no population base rate that can explain that discrepancy. One justice on the Georgia Supreme Court found that an African-American with two or more drug priors is 28 times as likely to get a life sentence than a white person with the same record. Or this? On Monday last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Foster v. Chatman. In that case—a death penalty case—the prosecution struck every black member of the jury pool. The law says that you can’t strike a potential juror because of race, so the prosecution came up with facially race-neutral reasons for all of their strikes. Their notes, however, showed that they highlighted the names of the black jurors, marked them with a “B,” identified one of them as the best “if it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors,” and put the five black jurors at the top of their list of definite strikes—ahead of a white person who said she opposed the death penalty on principle. The all-white jury sentenced the African-American defendant to death. Even after the evidence came to light, the Georgia Supreme Court refused to overturn the verdict.”
11.13 Muslim extremists murder 120 people in Paris, with the death toll to perhaps grow higher. Says President Hollande, “Face à l’effroi, il y a une Nation qui sait se défendre, sait mobiliser ses forces et, une fois encore, saura vaincre les terroristes.”


11.14 Spoke at the Putnam Valley Historical Association
11.15 Spectre
11.15 John Oliver on HBO: “Look, it’s hardly been forty-eight hours, and much is still unknown. But there are a few things we can say for certain. And this is where it actually helps to be on HBO, where those things can be said without restraint. So here is where things stand. First, as of now, we know that this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes, unconscionable, flaming assholes, possibly, possibly working with other fucking assholes, definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery. Second, and this goes almost without saying, Fuck these assholes! Fuck them, if I may say, sideways! France is going to endure. And I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and life style with France, good fucking luck! Go ahead, go ahead. Bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloises cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust, and the fucking croquembouche! The croquembouche! You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friends. You are fucked! That is a French freedom tower!”
11.19 Donald Trump advocates maintaining a database on Muslims. “We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule.. . .We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
11.20 Spotlight. Excellent!
11.23 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield MA, with Paul Lindstrom
11.26 Thanksgiving.
photo-1photo-211.29 Dinner at Xavier’s in Piermont with Paul and Ann Lindstrom
12.1 Dana Milbank in The Washington Post: “It might be possible to explain away any one of Trump’s outrages as a mistake or a misunderstanding. But at some point you’re not merely saying things that could be construed as bigoted: You are a bigot. It has been more than a quarter century since Trump took out ads in New York newspapers calling for the death penalty for “criminals of every age” after five black and Latino teens were implicated in the Central Park jogger case. The young men, convicted and imprisoned, were later cleared by DNA evidence and the confession of a serial rapist – and Trump called their wrongful-conviction settlement a “disgrace.” Since then, Trump led the “birther” movement challenging President Obama’s standing as a natural-born American; used various vulgar expressions to refer to women; spoke of Mexico sending rapists and other criminals across the border; called for rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants; had high-profile spats with prominent Latino journalists and news outlets; mocked Asian accents; let stand a charge made in his presence that Obama is a Muslim and that Muslims are a “problem” in America; embraced the notion of forcing Muslims to register in a database; falsely claimed thousands of Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey; tweeted bogus statistics asserting that most killings of whites are done by blacks; approved of the roughing up of a black demonstrator at one of his events; and publicly mocked the movements of New York Times (and former Washington Post) journalist Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition limiting mobility.”
kingprayer4n-7-web12.2 Fourteen people shot to death by husband-and-wife radical Muslim terrorists in San Bernadino CA
12.3 New York Daily News
photo12.4 Ginny and I cut a tree at Battenfield’s, then ate at the Eveready Diner
12.5 A man wielding a knife stabbed three people at an East London subway stop on Saturday evening and shouted, ‘This is for Syria,’ as he was being handcuffed … An onlooker yelled, ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv!’ You’re no Muslim. You ain’t no Muslim.”
12.7 Peter Beinart in The Atlantic: “At the core of Barack Obama’s terrorism speech on Sunday night lay a contradiction. He gave the address to convince an increasingly fearful nation that he takes the terrorist threat seriously. But he doesn’t, at least not in the way his political opponents do. For George W. Bush, the fight against jihadist terrorism was World War III. In his speech to Congress nine days after 9/11, Bush called al-Qaeda “the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century … they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism.” Many Republicans still see the “war on terror” in these epic terms. After the Paris attacks, Marco Rubio didn’t merely warn that the Islamic State might take over Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East. He warned that it might take over the United States. America, he argued, is at war with people who “literally want to overthrow our society and replace it with their radical Sunni Islamic view of the future.” In his telling, the United States and “radical Islam” are virtual equals, pitted in a “civilizational conflict” that “either they win or we win.” Obama thinks that’s absurd. Unlike Rubio, he considers violent jihadism a small, toxic strain within Islamic civilization, not a civilization itself. And unlike Bush, he doesn’t consider it a serious ideological competitor. In the 1930s, when fascism and communism were at their ideological height, many believed they could produce higher living standards for ordinary people than democratic capitalist societies that were prone to devastating cycles of boom and bust. No one believes that about “radical Islam” today. In Obama’s view, I suspect, democratic capitalism’s real ideological adversary is not the “radical Islam” of ISIS. It’s the authoritarian, state-managed capitalism of China. While Republicans think ISIS is strong and growing stronger, Obama thinks it’s weak and growing weaker. “Terrorists,” he declared on Sunday, now “turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society.” In other words, the Islamic State probably can’t do anything to America that we Americans aren’t doing to ourselves all the time, and now largely take for granted. Obama also argued that the Islamic State is losing in the Middle East, where the “strategy that we are using now—air strikes, special forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country” will produce a “sustainable victory.” The leading GOP presidential candidates reject that. They believe defeating the Islamic State requires some dramatic, if vaguely defined, new military and ideological exertion. Obama, by contrast, thinks America simply needs to not screw up. That means not being “drawn once more” into an effort to “occupy foreign lands,” thus allowing the Islamic State to use “our presence to draw new recruits.” Obama believes powerful, structural forces will lead liberal democracies to triumph over their foes—so long as they don’t do stupid things. While Obama doesn’t say it outright, he appears to be subtly referencing Robert Pape’s influential argument that the great driver of suicide terrorism is not jihadist ideology but occupation. Because Obama, unlike Bush and Rubio, believes the Islamic State is ideologically weak, he thinks America’s current strategy will eventually defeat it unless America commits a large occupying force, which would give the jihadists a massive shot in the arm. The other unforced error America must avoid, according to Obama, is “letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want.” Because the GOP candidates see violent jihadism as a powerful, seductive ideology, they think that many American Muslims are at risk of becoming terrorists, and thus that the United States must monitor them more aggressively. Because Obama sees violent jihadism as ideologically weak and unattractive, he thinks that few American Muslims will embrace it unless the United States makes them feel like enemies in their own country—which is exactly what Donald Trump risks doing.”
12.7 Donald Trump said Monday as president he would halt all Muslim immigration to the United States. The Republican presidential frontrunner announced in a press release he wants a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This includes tourists planning to visit the United States as well as Muslim-American citizens now abroad.
CVstTutWUAABz6q12.8 The Philadelphia Daily News
12.8 David Brooks in the Times: “Mass movements, he argues, only arise in certain conditions, when a once sturdy social structure is in a state of decay or disintegration. This is a pretty good description of parts of the Arab world. To a lesser degree it is a good description of isolated pockets of our own segmenting, individualized society, where some people find themselves totally cut off. The people who serve mass movements are not revolting against oppression. They are driven primarily by frustration. Their personal ambitions are unfulfilled. They have lost faith in their own abilities to realize their dreams. They sometimes live with an unrelieved boredom. Freedom aggravates their sense of frustration because they have no one to blame but themselves for their perceived mediocrity. Fanatics, the French philosopher Ernest Renan argued, fear liberty more than they fear persecution. The successful mass movement tells such people that the cause of their frustration is outside themselves, and that the only way to alter their personal situation is to transform the world in some radical way. To nurture this self-sacrificing attitude, the successful mass movement first denigrates the present. Its doctrine celebrates a glorious past and describes a utopian future, but the present is just an uninspiring pit. The golden future begins to seem more vivid and real than the present, and in this way the true believer begins to dissociate herself from the everyday facts of her life: Her home, her town, even her new child. Self-sacrifice is an irrational act, so mass movements get their followers to believe that ultimate truth exists in another realm and cannot be derived from lived experience and direct observation. Next mass movements denigrate the individual self. Everything that is unique about an individual is either criticized, forbidden or diminished. The individual’s identity is defined by the collective group identity, and fortified by a cultivated hatred for other groups. There’s a lot of self-renunciation going on here. Ironically the true believer’s feeling that he is selfless can lead to arrogance and merciless cruelty. It can also be addictive. If the true believer permitted himself to lose faith in his creed then all that self-imposed suffering would have been for nothing. These movements generate a lot of hatred. But ultimately, Hoffer argues, they are driven by a wild hope. They believe an imminent perfect future can be realized if they proceed recklessly to destroy the present. The glorious end times are just around the corner. This kind of thinking is fantastical. “In the practice of mass movements,” Hoffer continues, “make-believe plays perhaps a more enduring role than any other factor.” The fanatics stage acts of violent theatricality, acutely aware of their audience. They dress up in military costumes. They rent mysterious black SUVs. Shooting a bunch of unarmed innocents couldn’t be more pathetic, but they play it with all the theatrical dramaturgy of a Hollywood action movie.”
dvydb58athsqyakzf2g812.7 The 2015 family Christmas card of Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore. Peace on Earth!
12.8 Helena Horton in The Daily Telegraph: “The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has rubbished Donald Trump’s claims about London and radicalisation. Trump says his Muslim ban proposal is motivated in part out of fear that the US cities will become like Paris and London, where he says areas are completely radicalised. “We have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that police are afraid for their own lives,” he said in an interview with MSNBC. Mr. Johnson, when he heard Mr. Trump’s claims, was quick to deny them – and insult the fellow blonde-haired politician. He said: “Donald Trump’s ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense. “As a city where more than 300 languages are spoken, London has a proud history of tolerance and diversity and to suggest there are areas where police officers cannot go because of radicalisation is simply ridiculous. “I would welcome the opportunity to show Mr Trump first hand some of the excellent work our police officers do every day in local neighbourhoods throughout our city. “Crime has been falling steadily in both London and New York – and the only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
CVvzCvgWwAALCA512.9 New York Daily News
12.11 In the Heart of the Sea
12.12 Pavillion burns down
12.14 LL meeting with Kurt and Lisa
12.18 Cara graduates from Kentucky! Hooray!
12.24 Rose, Cara, Shawn, Molly join us for Christmas. Cowboy party at the Schmidt’s.
12.25 Christmas. We see Joy.
12.27 The Big Short
12.31 Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

1.4 Loose Lips meeting. Kurt, Greg miss it, Lisa, Angelo run late. Not an auspicious beginning.
1.6 Cara‘s car is repossessed

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