Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Arrival

Disappointing.  Strong cast giving good performances - Amy Adams (always good), Jeremy Renner (always a good second banana) and the reliably solid Forest Whitaker.   Arrival starts well, with what seems to be an intriguing story built around the arrival of twelve alien spaceships around the world.  Amy Adams is a linguist called in to figure out exactly what these space dudes want, and who has an intriguing possible back story of her own.  Forest is the military guy who recruits Adams and Renner is the science man.

The problem is that the movie drags and the plot line has too many holes, with one puzzling and seeming random key twist inserted near the end to apparently clean up a dead end the story has gotten itself into.  There is a big "reveal", but if you are paying any attention you've figured it out well before the film tells you.  I'd anticipated the story would be much more interesting than it was.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Other Life

A few days ago, I ran across this article in Politico by Carl M Cannon, reminding me of the other man killed by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on November 22, 1963 -Dallas police officer JD Tippit.  I've written previously about the assassination and the Warren Commission in A Cruel And Shocking Act.
https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/find-a-grave-prod/photos/2001/222/tippitjdbio.jpg(JD Tippit)

JD Tippit was 39 years old and an eleven year veteran of the Dallas Police Department.  At 1245pm that day, Tippit was in his patrol car when all officers were directed to central Dallas in response to the shooting.  A few minutes later, a description of a possible suspect was broadcast.  Around 110pm, Tippit was driving slowly up East 10th Street, when he saw a man walking who matched the description - it was Lee Harvey Oswald.  Tippit stopped, and onlookers described Oswald walking over to the patrol car and a brief conversation ensuing (the contents of which remain unknown).  Tippit got out of his car and walked to the front.  Oswald suddenly pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his jacket, firing five shots and hitting Tippit four times; twice in the chest, once in the stomach and once in the head.  Tippit was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead, while Oswald fled the scene, seeking refuge in a nearby movie cinema where he was captured shortly thereafter.  Tippit's family learned of his death from radio news reports.

There's been a lot of speculation about where Oswald was headed when Tippit noticed him.  He was clearly not returning to his apartment which was in the opposite direction.  His decision to stop and the tragic shooting that ensued, led witnesses to attempt to track Oswald and to his ultimate capture.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/J_D_Tippit_historical_marker.jpg
JD Tippit was a Texas native who joined the US Army in 1944, served in the 17th Airborne Division, participating in Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine River in March 1945, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in the course of action.  Returning to America, he married his high school sweetheart, Marie Gasway, in 1946.  They had three children, who were 13, 10 and 5 at the time of his death.  JD's police salary was $490 a month in 1963 and he worked two part-time jobs to supplement the family income.  He'd also received two citations for bravery while a Dallas police officer.

According to Cannon, Marie Tippit gave a rare interview to a Dallas paper in 2004 in which she said:
No amount of time can take away the pain I feel for the man I loved. And for anyone who thinks I’m over it, well, they never really knew J.D. Tippit.”
Cannon reports that Bobby and Jackie Kennedy both reached out to Tippit's widow.  Marie told Jackie that she and JD admired JFK and requested a picture of their family.  Jackie sent the framed picture with this inscription:
“For Mrs. J.D. Tippit - with my deepest sympathy - and the knowledge that you and I now share another bond - reminding our children all their lives what brave men their fathers were - With all my wishes for your happiness, Jacqueline Kennedy."
The plight of Tippit's widow and children touched Americans and they received $650,000 in donations.  Among the largest contributions was $25,000 by Abraham Zapruder from the proceeds of the sale of his film of the assassination to Life Magazine.

(Photos below from Dallas Morning News)
Marie Tippit at her husband's funeral, November 25, 1963
 Marie Tippit was escorted by a mourner and a police officer at the funeral of her husband on Nov. 25, 1963. J.D. Tippit was buried at Laurel Land Memorial Park.
Marie and her children at 2012 ceremony honoring JD
J.D. Tippit’s family — (from left) wife Marie, daughter Brenda and sons Curtis and Allan — were photographed at a Nov. 20, 2012, ceremony in Oak Cliff honoring their father.





Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Good News

The world is a little bit better place today.  Fidel Castro is dead.
http://testing.therealcuba.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/fusilamiento.jpg
(Prisoner executed by Castro)

After almost 58 years of rule by Fidel, his brother, and their accomplices, a once-thriving country has been demolished.  As PBS summed it up:
On the eve of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Cuba was neither the paradise that would later be conjured by the nostalgic imaginations of Cuba’s many exiles, nor the hellhole painted by many supporters of the revolution, who recall Cuba as “the brothel of the Western hemisphere” — an island inhabited by a people degraded and hungry, whose main occupation was to cater to American tourists at Havana’s luxurious hotels, beaches and casinos. Rather, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America.
Cuba’s capital, Havana, was a glittering and dynamic city. In the early part of the century the country’s economy, fueled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown dynamically. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba’s income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility. 
Or, as Michael Totten put it more succinctly: 
Cuba isn't a developing country; it's a once-developed country destroyed by its own government.
The extent of the adulation afforded Fidel (and we will, no doubt, see some nauseating examples in reaction to his death*), and to his gay and black-hating, Stalinist thug lieutenant, Che Guevara, is disgusting for anyone who values human rights and liberty. We can only hope that his death hastens the day when the entire regime will be swept away, though unfortunately the Obama administration's recent opening has only triggered another wave of repression against Castro opponents.
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/14/ed/a3/14eda30e2b5f9b7773b0874716086a84.jpg
Rather than spend any more time on Castro, let's remember the millions exiled from Cuba, the tens of thousands who perished in the Florida Straits over the decades, attempting to escape a regime that regarded them as human chattel, and the uncounted thousands executed and imprisoned by the dictator.  Here is one of those dissidents who survived two decades in Castro's prisons - Armando Valladares:
The next morning, they welded the doors shut. Lieutenant Cruz, head of the Political Police, told us Castro had personally ordered it done. We were told we’d stay in those cells not for months, but for years. 
You can find more THC posts on Cuba here.

*UPDATE:

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, takes the early lead in the most morally repulsive statement.  You can read the whole thing here, but look at this excerpt:
“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

“While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.
Meanwhile, kudos to Democratic House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi:
“The death of Fidel Castro marks the end of an era for Cuba and the Cuban people.  After decades under Fidel’s doctrine of oppression and antagonism, there is hope that a new path for Cuba is opening. . . Generations of Cuban political prisoners, democracy activists and families suffered under Fidel Castro’s rule.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dominion Of New England

http://flashmedia.glynn.k12.ga.us/webpages/kadams/photos/19589/2map-03-01.jpg(from pinimg)

Most forms of government tend towards centralization motivated by a number of reasons including control, consistency and efficiency.  In his groundbreaking book, Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes To Improve The Human Condition Have Failed, James C Scott described the process by which early modern European statecraft became "devoted to rationalizing and standardizing what was a social hieroglyph into a legible and administratively more convenient format", concluding:
The social simplifications thus introduced not only permitted a more finely tuned system of taxation and conscription but also greatly enhanced state capacity.
In the 17th century, several of Britain's American colonies went through an attempt at such centralization and categorization.

During the 1620s and 30s, the New England colonies were settled by religious separatist groups, the Pilgrims and Puritans, along with dissenters from those sects who founded Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  During much of the following twenty years, England itself was convulsed with Civil War, the overthrow of the monarchy and the regime of the Puritan, Oliver Cromwell, all of which allowed the colonies to grow with support but little interference from the home country.

Adjacent to the New England colonies was a Dutch settlement, New Amsterdam, encompassing Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley.  Further south were the Jersey colonies containing Dutch and Swedish settlements.

In 1660, the monarchy was restored with the reign of Charles II.  Four years later, the English seized New Amsterdam and the Jersey colonies.  In 1675-6, the New England colonies went through the trauma of King Philips War, the largest Indian war in American history (for more see Bloody Brook and The Sudbury Fight).  Though the colonists prevailed, much of the interior of New England was abandoned until the early 18th century.

Charles II viewed the Massachusetts Bay Colony as an unruly nuisance that had supported the Cromwell regime which had executed his father.  The Bay Colony was a theocracy, banning the Anglican Church.  It also flaunted English property law and ignored the Navigation Acts which forbid colonial merchants from selling to customers outside of England.  In 1684, Charles revoked the colony's charter after it refused to relax its religious restrictions.  The King died in February 1685 and the next steps were left to his brother and successor, James II, the last Roman Catholic monarch in British history.

In addition to the religious disputes with the errant colony, James faced some broader issues with the American colonists.  There was a continued threat from the French and their Indian allies in Canada, separated by wilderness and ill-defined and disputed boundaries from the English settlers.  The Crown was also losing revenue because of a lack of taxation and the blatant disregard of the Navigation Acts.

The solution James arrived at was a massive reorganization of the colonies, revocation of existing charters, and more direct rule by the home country which would provide for coordinated defense, enforcement of the Navigation Acts, increased revenues and the added benefit of allowing him to bestow lucrative administrative posts and land grants upon his favorites.

The initial commission for this project was given to Joseph Dudley in October 1685.  Arriving in Boston in May 1686, his writ extended to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the province of Maine, Plymouth Colony, and Narragansett County in Rhode Island.  On September 9, the Dominion was expanded to include Connecticut and the rest of Rhode Island.  The next year, New York and East and West Jersey were to be joined to the new administrative unit.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3e/Sir_Edmund_Andros_RI_State_House.jpg/220px-Sir_Edmund_Andros_RI_State_House.jpg(Sir Edmund Andros)

It was only with the arrival in Boston of Dudley's successor, Sir Edmund Andros, that the Dominion truly took shape.  Under Andros, town meetings were restricted, his council was appointed, not elected, and property law was aligned to conform with English practice which threatened the freeholds of many colonists.  For the most part, the colonies resisted the authority of Andros, some passively, some actively. In Massachusetts, the most obvious manifestation was resistance to Sir Edmund's attempts to create an Anglican Church in Boston.  At that time, Anglican congregants had to hold services outside. He was rebuffed in his attempts to find land for a church as no one would sell to him.  He then requested use of the Puritan meetinghouse and was also refused.  Finally, he seized part of the public burying ground along Tremont Street and built a wooden church, now known as King's Chapel (rebuilt in stone in 1749), further outraging public sentiment.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/Kings_chapel_boston_2009h.JPG/1024px-Kings_chapel_boston_2009h.JPG(King's Chapel today; Burying Ground is to the left)

And even worse religious affront was to come.  According to history of massachusetts.org, citing the book, The Imperial Executive In America:
“Further evidence of Anglicization was provided by the presence of a Maypole in Charlestown, a symbol that was particularly offensive to Puritans. Angry Puritans cut down the Charlestown maypole, but an even bigger one was put up. Its very existence was a sign that Anglican influence was becoming stronger and that the Puritans were losing control of their society. The Maypole represented only the tip of the Anglican wedge, soon to be followed by observance of Christmas and other holy days, and by card games, dancing, playgoing, and other activities previously banned by the Puritans.”
Cats and dogs, living together! 

Connecticut also actively resisted Andros' authority, refusing to surrender its charter, an unusually liberal one, issued by Charles II in 1662, granting the colony virtual autonomy.  Things became so tense, that Andros went to Hartford in October 1687 to meet with local leaders and take the charter back to Boston with him.  His efforts were to be thwarted.  According to Connecticut lore, Andros attended an evening meeting at which he demanded the document, which was initially produced but then the lights were suddenly dowsed and when the candles were lit again, the charter had disappeared, eventually being hidden in a large oak tree nearby.  The Charter Oak, as it became known, survived until felled by a storm in 1856.  The Governor's desk and the Chairs for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate are made from the wood of the Charter Oak.
(The Charter Oak, by Charles De Wolfe Brownell)

At the same time, James II was becoming increasingly unpopular in England.  As a Roman Catholic he was always suspect by the Protestant majority and his attempts to reduce the number of official posts subject to the religious test of being a member of the Anglican Church only increased the suspicion.  Meanwhile, religious leaders in the Massachusetts Colony, led by the Puritan ministers, Increase Mather and his son, Cotton, decided to send Increase to England in order to lobby the King for a relaxation of the rule of Andros and the return of the colony's charter.

According to 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, Increase received his name "because of the never-to-be-forgotten increase, of every sort, wherewith God favoured the country about the time of his nativity.”  Bitterly opposed to religious tolerance in Massachusetts, Mather's later reputation suffered because of his association with the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.  Both he and Cotton played ambiguous roles, urging caution in the proceedings and rejecting certain types of evidence but refusing, at the time and thereafter, to criticize the overall process.  He also served as President of Harvard from 1692 through 1701.  Not sure whether that helped his reputation.  Cotton's unusual first name came from the maiden name of Increase's wife, Maria Cotton.

Despite efforts by Andros to prevent the journey, Mather was smuggled aboard a ship leaving for England in April 1688.  We was finally able to meet with James in October and received promises that the colony's concerns would be addressed, but before James could take any action, other events intervened.

In June 1688, a son was born to James, giving him an heir to the throne that most believed would be raised Catholic.  The Parliamentary opposition conspired with the King's Dutch Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange and his wife Mary to install them as the new rulers of England.  In early November 1688, William, accompanied by 15,000 soldiers landed in Devon in southwestern England.  Five weeks later, after minor fighting, William entered London and James fled to France.  The Glorious Revolution of 1688 had succeeded, and England entered a new, and permanent, phase of Parliamentary supremacy, crowned by the Bill of Rights of 1689, a revolutionary document that was to be cited by the American colonists in support of their claimed rights during the 1760s and 1770s.

News traveled slowly across the Atlantic in the 17th century, particularly during the stormy winter weather when few ships crossed the ocean.  In January, Sir Edmund led a military expedition to Maine in response to Indian incursions.  Returning to Boston in mid-March, Andros was present when the first news of the revolution reached the city in early April.  Despite his efforts to suppress the reports, the news quickly became widely known.

On the morning of April 18, 1689, militia companies accompanied by large crowds assembled in town and raised an orange flag on Beacon Hill in support of King William and Queen Mary.  The total crowd of about 2,000 began arresting Dominion officials; Andros, who had a garrison of only about a dozen British soldiers, surrendered, and was held captive for nearly a year. File:AndrosaPrisonerInBoston.png(19th century depiction of arrest of Andros)

The triumphant insurgents issued a declaration:
We have been quiet, hitherto, but now the Lord has prospered the undertaking of the prince of Orange, we think we should follow such an example. We therefore, seized the vile persons who oppressed us.
Four days later, Samuel Prince wrote a letter to his father-in-law, Thomas Hinckley, governor of Plymouth Colony, describing the start of the revolt:
I knew not any thing of what was intended, till it was begun; yet being at the north end of the town, where I saw boys run along the street with clubs in their hands, encouraging one another to fight, I began to mistrust what was intended; and, hasting towards the town-dock, I soon saw men running for their arms: but, ere I got to the Red Lion, I was told that Captain George and the master of the frigate was seized, and secured in Mr. Colman's house at the North End, and, when I came to the town-dock, I understood that Boolifant and some others with him were laid hold of; and then immediately the drums began to beat, and the people hasting and running, some with and some for arms, Young Dudley' and Colonel Lidgit with some difficulty attained to the Fort. 
The Dominion's authority rapidly collapsed.  The final bastion fell in late May of 1689 when Sir Edmund's deputy and Lt Governor, Francis Nicholson, a British army captain, who seat of authority was New York, was overthrown in a rebellion led by Jacob Leisler, a German immigrant and militia captain.  Leisler's rule lasted for almost two years, despite local opposition but when he refused to recognize the authority of the new governor sent by King William, he was captured and executed.

With the failure of the Dominion, most of the colonies reverted to their former status.  The exception was Massachusetts which did not get its old charter back.  Under a new 1691 charter a degree of local rule was restored and boundaries expanded; the province of Maine and the struggling Plymouth Colony being added to the colony, and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard transferred from New York to Massachusetts Bay.  At the same time, the colony's governor became a Royal appointee, as did other officials (though, in reality, Increase Mather named the initial individuals to receive such appointments), freedom of worship established and religious restrictions on voting removed.

From thence forward until the end of the Seven Years War (known as the French & Indian War in America), the British government followed a policy of what was later christened "salutary neglect"* towards the American mainland colonies, in particular those of New England, under which the enforcement of the trade laws was abandoned and local affairs left to run on their own.  It was this experience of growing self-government that helped fuel resistance to British attempts after 1763 to reassert its authority.


* The phrase, "salutary neglect" comes from a speech in Parliament by Edmund Burke on March 22, 1775.  Speaking in opposition to the government's attempts to coerce colonial cooperation, he remarked:
“That I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of watchful and suspicious government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection; when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt, and die away within me.”


Monday, November 21, 2016

Mose Allison

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/uGAYeRcfiW8/hqdefault.jpg
[Pete Townshend]
Uh... we'd like to carry on now, and play a song originally recorded by Mose Allison, who's really a jazz musician, and I did read something on one of his record covers which said he was a "jazz sage." And, uh, quite what that means, I don't know, but, uh—

[Keith Moon]
Just play the tune

[Pete Townshend]
(laughing) And, anyway, we've picked up quite a number of his songs, "Eyesight To The Blind," which is on the Tommy album, we picked up from him, and also this song, which I think has got to be one of his best. It's one of his own compositions, which he wrote when he was about forty—

[Keith Moon]
A teenager!

[Pete Townshend]
Just a mere teenager, and he called it, "Young Man Blues."
- From "Live At Leeds" (1970) 

Mose Allison passed away at his home in Hilton Head, SC, last Tuesday at the age of 89.   Allison inhabited the world of jazz and blues while transmitting his sensibility to the rock generation, through his reinterpretations of blues standards as well as his own compositions.  Along with The Who, his songs have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Cactus, Leon Russell, Robert Palmer, The Clash, Van Morrison, The Yardbirds and The Bangles, among others.

Let's listen to some of his music.  First up, is his version of Bukka White's delta blues, Parchman Farm, which served as an inspiration for covers by John Mayall & The Blues Breakers and Blue Cheer.


Next up is I'm Not Talking, best know as done by The Yardbirds.

Here's Bonnie Raitt's version of Everybody's Cryin' Mercy. And this is Mose doing Sonny Boy Williamson's, Eyesight To The Blind:

We'll wrap with Mose doing The Seventh Son, which became a hit for Johnny Rivers in the 1960s.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Batting With Ted Williams

Want to be able to hit .400 in the majors?  Just watch this video.

Looks like it was made near the end of Williams' career around 1960.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Almost Christmas

It a trifle, not a great film, but an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.  Almost Christmas, which THC and the Mrs saw recently, features Danny Glover, Mo'Nique, JB Smoove, Omar Epps and Gabrielle Union.  The set up is simple - it's the first Christmas after the death of the family matriarch and all the adult children, who don't get along, are coming home.  The plot is rickety - one of the children is in the midst of a Congressional campaign, but it's Christmastime - elections are in November! - but it's got fun and smiles.  And Danny Glover gets to say, "I'm getting too old for this s***"!    

It also got me thinking that in the 21st century if you want to see a decent Hollywood family comedy the likeliest place to find one is with an African-American cast.  I think of movies of this genre we've enjoyed like the Barbershop series, Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins and Guess Who (the reverse remake of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?, starring Zoe Saldana, Ashton Kuchner and the late, great Bernie Mac).  And speaking of Bernie Mac and family entertainment what about the Bernie Mac show?              

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wicked Game

The world was on fire and no one could save me but you . . .
 
Listen to this brooding, anguished song late at night driving alone on a dark road.  Or in your room after midnight.

Written and recorded by Chris Isaak, it became a hit when featured in the 1990 film Wild At Heart.  The distinctive and haunting guitar is by James Calvin Wilsey.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Calm Down, Everybody

As readers know, this blog was not a supporter of either major party candidate (or minor ones, for that matter), preferring the office of presidency to remain vacant for the next four years.  And we remain very concerned about the President-elect.  However, the ongoing hysteria about Trump being a white supremacist, racist, homophobe is just crazy.  Moreover, the folks making these allegations fail to realize they've lost all credibility because it's what they always accuse any Republican or conservative of being.  Remember when Joe Biden was telling black audiences in 2012 that Mitt Romney was "going to put y'all back in chains"?

Take a few minutes and read this lengthy piece by Scott Alexander, the pseudonym of a psychiatrist who writes at Slate Star Codex.  His posts are consistently interesting and thought provoking.  He also endorsed Hillary Clinton and thinks Trump is a very weird guy who will be a terrible president.
(From Slate Star Codex)

But he also thinks the hysteria about Trump, at least as to his alleged prejudices, is completely unjustified and should stop.  He takes the reader through the allegations and then patiently deconstructs each.

Here are his closing paragraphs:
Stop centering criticism of Donald Trump around this sort of stuff, and switch to literally anything else. Here is an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, whose philosophy of governance basically boils down to “I’m going to win and not lose, details to be filled in later”, and all you can do is repeat, again and again, how he seems popular among weird Internet teenagers who post frog memes. In the middle of an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host getting his hand on the nuclear button, your chief complaint is that in the middle of a few dozen denunciations of the KKK, he once delayed denouncing the KKK for an entire 24 hours before going back to denouncing it again. When a guy who says outright that he won’t respect elections unless he wins them does, somehow, win an election, the headlines are how he once said he didn’t like globalists which means he must be anti-Semitic.

Stop making people suicidal. Stop telling people they’re going to be killed. Stop terrifying children. Stop giving racism free advertising. Stop trying to convince Americans that all the other Americans hate them. Stop. Stop. Stop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Demographics And Destiny

If you want to understand the election read this piece by Sean Trende, The God That Failed from today's Real Clear Politics.  Sean, who leans right, is one of the two political numbers guys that I most rely on.  The other is Nate Silver, who leans left.  I've found both to be dispassionate and analytical when it comes to looking at polls and trends.  Nate is superior on probabilistic analytics, while Sean has the better background knowledge of politics and history.

Sean's starting point is the 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, by John Judis and Rudy Teixiera, which had as its thesis that a Democratic party employing "progressive centrism" could capitalize on demographic trends and establish long-term political dominance.  As Trende describes it:
Progressive centrism was never thoroughly fleshed out, but the basic idea was to combine the goals of populism—harnessing the power of government to do good for the “little guy”—with the New Democrats’ recognition of markets as a powerful tool for achieving those goals.  Combined with an incrementalist approach, Judis and Teixeira argued, Democrats would form a new majority coalition.  This coalition would be an expansion of the old “McGovern” coalition, and would consist of working-class whites, women, African-Americans and Hispanics, as well as professional whites living in what they called “ideopolises” – high-tech areas filled with state employees and professional workers. 
From an analytical perspective, Trende is sympathetic to this thesis: 
This was mostly sensible, and certainly all very defensible.  If this “soft” view of the Emerging Democratic Majority had prevailed, I probably would not have spent a good portion of the past eight years arguing against it.  Changing demographics are absolutely an issue for Republicans to contend with, and if Democrats had stuck to the “progressive centrism” playbook, they could have built a powerful coalition indeed.
He then proceeds to give us his opinion as to why the "hard" version of this theory that prevailed among Democrats over the past decade has proven to be a failure; a failure masked by the personal popularity of Barack Obama, but the trend since 2008 is unmistakable.  Democrats have lost twelve Senate seats, sixty House seats, fifteen governorships, almost 1,000 state legislators and had Hillary Clinton beaten by Donald Trump (I still can't believe I'm writing that last phrase); all this to a Republican Party that itself is in disarray.  Some excerpts (the whole article is worth reading):
It’s not just that Republicans have now won four of seven elections since the book was published, although that is, as we would sometimes note dryly when I practiced law, a “bad fact.” It’s more that it is very difficult to shoehorn into the theory this election of a 70-year-old white male with a policy portfolio that is basically the antithesis of what the “Emerging Democratic Majority” recommended.  It is even more difficult to do so given that Donald Trump won in the most racially diverse electorate in American history.

Part of the problem is that the theoretical underpinnings for “The Emerging Democratic Majority” are rickety at best. Much of what is today thought of as an obvious period of Democratic or Republican dominance now looks more to me like random chance.  Contingency drives elections, not “history.”  

Analysts should have been skeptical of the Emerging Democratic Majority thesis because the party dominance that proponents of the theory – especially of the “hard” version of the theory – were suggesting was essentially unprecedented in American history.  That doesn’t mean that something like that couldn’t happen, or that it can’t happen in the future.  It just means that we shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t.

The major theme of my book is that all party coalitions fall apart because, well, governing is hard and it inevitably forces parties to choose among members of their coalition.  More importantly – and this is where I think realignment theory isn’t just wrong but also counterproductive – parties see their wins as a sign that they’ve finally “won” at politics.  But this hubristic take is always wrong, and usually destructive. 

I have little doubt that a belief that demographics would save them at the presidential level led Democrats to take a number of steps that they will soon regret, from going nuclear on the filibuster to aggressive uses of executive authority.  But one thing deserves special attention.  A good deal of e-ink has been spilled describing the ways in which the culturally superior attitudes of the left drove Trumpism.  This too, I think, derived from a belief that history had a side and that progressives were on it, combined with a lack of appreciation of just how many culturally traditionalist voters there are in this country.
I think Trende is also on point in discussing how Trump, a tawdry and troubling figure, obtained such a high percentage from white Evangelical voters, who gave him a higher total number of votes than Clinton received from African-Americans and Hispanics combined:
. . . you may wonder why this group voted in historic numbers for a man like Trump.  Perhaps, as some have suggested, they are hypocrites. Perhaps they are merely partisans.  But I will make a further suggestion: They are scared.

Consider that over the course of the past few years, Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding**; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners.  In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions.  
On top of the actions taken and advocated by progressives, their hostile and condescending attitudes backfired. Trende quotes the eye-brow raising remarks of Harvard Law School professor Mark Tushnet, as big a progressive as his former colleague, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cherokee Nation):
"The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. . . . For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won."
As Trende dryly remarks:
Perhaps comparing evangelicals to the Japanese in World War II was a bit much, and helped push evangelicals into a defensive crouch. Before my Democratic friends warm up their keyboards to protest “but we’re correct,” let me say that on some of these issues I agree with you! My point here is descriptive, not prescriptive. An aggressive approach to the culture wars and the sneering condescension of the Samantha Bees and John Olivers of the world may be warranted, but it also probably cost liberals their best chance in a generation to take control of the Supreme Court.  
He closes by cautioning those on the other side not to over read the long-term implications of Trump's unexpected victory.  Remember Karl Rove in the early Bush administration predicting a permanent Republican majority?


**  In a grace note for voter sanity, a Democrat lost a statewide race in progressive Oregon for the first time in 14 years, when Republican Dennis Richardson beat Democrat Brad Avakian for Secretary of State.  Avakian promised in his campaign to use his office to pursue the progressive agenda.  Avakian is also the bureaucrat at the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries who persecuted Sweetcakes by Melissa, a bakery operated by Melissa and Aaron Klein, Christians who politely declined to bake a specialty cake for a lesbian wedding.  The Kleins, who had many gay customers, "believed that by participating in the wedding ceremony, they were condoning the marriage, which conflicted with their Christian beliefs".  A vindictive Avakian imposed $144,000 in fines on the couple, bankrupting the business.  Aaron Klein is working as a garbage truck driver to support the family.






Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On The Need For Rules

A disquisition by Walter Sobchak regarding the importance of establishing well-defined boundaries for behavior in complex societies with reference to the anarchic consequences that flow from the breaching of said rules without corrective action being taken.  Attention must be paid!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Election Afternath

A few articles that caught my eye over the past few days:

California Jumps The Shark by Joel Kotkin.
Kotkin is an old-line California Democrat who has lamented the takeover of his party by tech oligarchs and the media and academic elite to the detriment of the middle-class.  California is now one of only four states where Democrats control the governor and both houses of the legislature, and they even arranged it so that in this year's senatorial election, voters could choose from two Democrats and no Republicans.  Progressive heaven!  From his article:
We may have more freedom to smoke pot, but it won’t be so easy to start a business, buy a house or build a personal nest egg, if you are anything other than a trustifarian or a Silicon Valley mogul, or are related to one.
Gradually, the key swing group — the “business Democrats” — are being decimated, hounded by ultra-green San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer and his minions. No restraint is being imposed on Gov. Brown’s increasingly obsessive climate change agenda, or on the public employee unions, whose pensions could sink the state’s finances, particularly in a downturn.

The interior parts of California already rank near the bottom, along with Los Angeles, in terms of standard of living — by incomes, as opposed to costs — in the nation. Compared to the Bay Area, which now rules the state, the more blue-collar, Latino and African American interior, as well as much of Los Angeles, account for six of the 15 worst areas in terms of living standard out of 106 metropolitan areas, according to a recent report by Center for Opportunity Urbanism demographer Wendell Cox.

California is on the road to a bifurcated, almost feudal, society, divided by geography, race and class. As is clear from the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, it’s not just the poor and ill-educated, as Brown apologists suggest, but, rather, primarily young families and the middle-aged, who are leaving. What will be left is a state dominated by a growing, but relatively small, upper class, many of them boomers; young singles and a massive, growing, increasingly marginalized “precariat” of low wage, often occasional, workers.

These 3 Maps Show Just How Dominant Republicans Are In America After Tuesday, by Amber Philips in The Washington Post
As mentioned above, Republicans now completely control 25 states in contrast to four for Democrats with the rest split.  The R's have a record 33 governors and Democrats have lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures since Barack Obama's 2008 election.  Even my state of Connecticut elected enough  Republicans for them to equal the Democrats in the state senate.

'I Won' by Kevin Williamson, National Review Online
Williamson, a dedicated NeverTrumper (as were many at NRO), takes some solace in pointing out that "The Left will not enjoy living with its own precedents":
Ten minutes ago, somber progressives were lecturing Donald Trump over his “Make America Great Again” slogan. “America,” they sniffed, is already great. Five minutes later, out came the “F*** AmeriKKKa!” signs and American flags were being burned in the streets. Ten minutes ago, Democrats were fretting that Donald Trump and his partisans would refuse to concede defeat, and insisting that Trump must make a dramatic public commitment to personally working toward a peaceful transfer of power. (Well, he did.) There were whispers of political violence, of riots in the streets, arson, smashed windows, violent assaults. Five minutes later, all of that came to pass — perpetrated by progressives in reaction to Trump’s winning the election fair and square. Ten minutes ago, Democrats were complaining that Trump’s talk of “rigged” elections undermined faith in democracy and in the legitimacy of the United States government. Five minutes later, Democrats were complaining that the elections were rigged against them by an electoral system that treats the states as states — entities with political interests of their own — rather than as administrative subdivisions of the federal government.
There is much to dislike about Donald Trump, a man who is morally and intellectually unfit for the office to which he has been elected thanks to a cheesed-off Republican primary electorate and the fact that the alternative was . . . ugh. But the Left does not quite seem to get what he is about. His views on trade, and on economic relations with foreign countries in general, are very close to that of Senator Bernie Sanders, and his views on immigration are not all that different, either: It was Senator Sanders, not Trump, who whispered darkly of a shadowy “open borders” plot being hatched by American billionaires to undermine the economic and political power of the working class.
If the election had gone the other way and crowds of angry Trump voters were out in the streets beating people (they aren’t, though there are hate-crime hoaxes aplenty) there would be klaxons of alarum sounding 24 hours a day — and zero talk of how the protests were “mostly peaceful.” Perversely, the Trump presidency is bearing some worthwhile fruit before it even begins: Once more, dissent is the highest form of patriotism, free speech is an absolute right that must be defended at all costs rather than regulated away in the name of reform, presidential power is to be limited . . .
Two cheers for all that. The pretensions of the imperial presidency are going to haunt Democrats for the immediate future. For eight years, Democrats celebrated the aggrandizement of the already inflated presidency left to Barack Obama by George W. Bush. You remember the greatest hits: “If Congress won’t act, I will.” “I have a pen and a phone.” “Elections have consequences.” And, my personal favorite: “I won.” Somebody else won this time around.

The pretensions of the imperial presidency are going to haunt Democrats for the immediate future, but they’ll quickly rediscover their belief in limits on the executive. While they’re rediscovering old virtues, they might take a moment to lament Senator Harry Reid’s weakening of the filibuster, an ancient protection of minority interests in the less democratic house of our national legislature. They might also lament Senator Reid’s attempt to gut the First Amendment in order to permit the federal government — which in January will be under the management of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and — incredibly enough — President Donald Trump — to regulate political speech, deciding who can speak, about what and when, and on what terms. Perhaps they’ll thank those wicked “conservative” justices on the Supreme Court for saving basic political-speech rights. 
If they are smart, they will rediscover federalism, too, and the peacemaking potential of a school of thought that says in a diverse nation of 320 million souls, there is no reason that life in rural Idaho must be lived in exactly the same way as it is in Brooklyn or Santa Monica. As Charles C. W. Cooke pointed out, the same people who until ten minutes ago denounced federalism — which they mischaracterize as the doctrine of “states’ rights” — as an instrument for the suppression of African Americans are now embracing secession, which, in the American context at least, has a little bit of its own racial baggage.

The problem is that while conservatives see “Live and Let Live” as a useful if imperfect instrument of civil peace, progressives view “Live and Let Live” as a distinct moral evil. It is less important to them that California is allowed to be California than that Texas should be forbidden to be Texas. Progressives have since the time of Bismarck had a mania for uniformity, because they believe that uniformity is necessary for their larger project: managing society as though it were a single factory and its people were widgets.

And, in the category of "I thought this wasn't supposed to happen", we have from ABC News:
Jefferson  County elected Zena Stephens, a black woman and Democrat, as county sheriff.  ABC reports:
One of those GOP voters was D'Ann Riggs, a 53-year-old emergency room nurse from Beaumont, who voted for Stephens and for Trump.

"I voted for Zena not because she was black or a woman. I voted for her because I felt she was the best person" for the job, said Riggs.

Erin Landry, 32, an epidemiologist from Beaumont who considers herself a Republican, said she also voted for Stephens as well as for Trump.
Landry said the selection of both Stephens and Trump shows that local voters were able to see past the presidential race and "pick the best representatives for the job, regardless of which party they represent."
On a related note, racist Colorado Democrats refused to support an African-American candidate for the Senate when pasty-white Democrat Michael Bennet defeated Darryl Glenn by 97,000 votes as the Democratic strongholds of Denver and Boulder counties gave Bennet majorities of 123,000 and 76,000, respectively.  Glenn ran 12,000 votes ahead of Donald Trump, so appears to have been supported by most of those voting for Trump.

http://unitedwedream.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/MicahelBennetElex2010-304.jpghttp://www.denverpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/darryl_glenn-dp.jpg

  











Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nice View

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/travel/2016-digital/outer-space-on-earth/aurora-borealis-vik-beach-norway.adapt.1190.1.jpg
The aurora borealis in Norway.  From National Geographic.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

DPRK News Service

A must read - the twitter feed of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  Actually, it's a very funny parody, skewering everyone.  Some samples:



Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day

Veterans Day was originally Remembrance or Armistice Day, established by the victor nations in commemoration of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.  In the early 1950s it was changed to Veterans Day in the United States in honor of the veterans of all wars.

Written by Canadian surgeon John McCrae, who served with his nation's forces on the Western Front, In Flanders Fields was the most popular poem of the war.  McCrae composed it in May 1915 after seeing the death of a friend during the Second Battle of Ypres.   Dr. McCrae continued to tend to wounded and injured soldiers until he died of pneumonia in January 1918.

This recital of the poem was recorded last year by Leonard Cohen, who passed away yesterday at the age of 82.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sun Red Sky Blue

I first listened to Kenna on the recommendation of the THC Daughter.  He's got quite a few catchy songs with multiple influences from every type of pop music and I've always been puzzled why he's not more popular.   This is one of my favorites - Sun Red, Sky Blue from 2007.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Man Of His Word

Well, after all, Barack Obama did promise he would "fundamentally transform" America.

Too bad both candidates couldn't lose and just leave the Presidency vacant for the next four years.

Here's hoping President Trump (gulp) is not as bad as I fear.  In the meantime, as a precaution, I'll be finishing construction on my secure underground bunker.

And I think the Clintons are about to find out who their real friends are.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The County Election

http://www.reynoldahouse.org/sites/default/files/tms-objects/1983_2_37_m1_2011.jpg
(From Reynoldahouse)

By George Caleb Bingham (1852).  Bingham was a Missouri resident and, as you can see, the rituals of voting in those days were a mite different from today.  There was no registration so each voter took an oath, you declared your vote publicly, and the provision of liquor at polling places, often courtesy of the candidates, was commonplace (you can see a gentleman holding up a dead drunk friend in the painting).

Tired Of Thinking About The Election?

There may be trouble ahead, but while there's music and moonlight and love and romance, let's face the music and dance.



And moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, how about a tribute to the greatest song in the world?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Theo To The Hall

http://m.mlb.com/assets/images/7/9/4/98227794/cuts/101114_Theo_Epstein_1280_5ioyfmat_k2grdldn.jpg
(Theo Epstein, Hall of Famer)

That's Theo Epstein to the Baseball Hall of Fame, now.  He's taken the Boston Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2004, ending an 86 year drought and now done the same for the Chicago Cubs after 108 years.  Since Theo is only 42 years old, we would normally have to wait until five years after his retirement for his enshrinement in Cooperstown.  That could be 20 or 30 years from today.  Why wait?

This was a wonderful world series with, from my perspective, solid Red Sox credentials on both sides - Theo, John Lester, John Lackey and David Ross for the Cubs; Terry Francona and Mike Napoli for the Indians.  I had the chance to meet Theo and Terry a few years ago and they are both nice guys.

Game Seven was an all-time classic and there's one particular aspect I'd like to highlight.  While I'd seen Kris Bryant of the Cubs play a few times, I was not prepared for the base running skills he twice demonstrated during the final game, in which he showed both speed and savvy in scoring.

It was a 1-1 game in the top of the 4th, when Bryant found himself on third base.  Addison Russell hit a fly to shallow center field on which Kris tagged up and slide home safely on a beautiful slide in between the catcher's legs.  Russell's fly went only 231 feet and during the regular season only 8% of runners scored from third on a ball hit that shallow.  Watch it here.

In the 5th inning, Bryant was on first base after working a two-out walk, when Anthony Rizzo hit a ball sharply down the right field line.  Bryant took off and easily scored from first on a single, making it 5-1 Cubs.  You can watch him fly around the bases (look at his turn around third) at this link.

So, a belated congratulations to all the long-suffering Cubs fans!  And maybe next year, if the Red Sox don't do it, the Indians can bring home their first trophy since 1948.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cinnamon Girl

A 1991 concert version of the song from Neil Young's 1969 album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.  Featuring a lot of guitar with a classic riff, including a musical quote from Norwegian Wood near the end.

I've always liked that the song ended with a chorus that lyrically had nothing to do with any of the previous lyrics, but sounded great on its own. 

Pa send me money now
I'm gonna make it somehow
I need another chance
You see your baby loves to dance
Yeah...yeah...yeah.


And while we're at it, here's another Neil live rocker from the same era, Rockin' In The Free World, in which he solos while simultaneously trying to strangle the guitar.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Chabet Ilelouine

http://www.romanaqueducts.info/aquasite/foto/ilelouine4.jpg
Another reminder of the extent of Roman civilization at its height.  These are the remains of the what is called today the Chabet Ilelouine bridge, but is really the remnants of the aqueduct supplying water to the ancient city of Caesarea Mauritaniae (modern day Cherchel) which sits on the Algerian coast mid-way between Oran and Algiers.
http://explorethemed.com/images/maps/RomanAfrica2.jpg
(From explorethemed)

The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Mauritania, an ally of Rome, before its incorporation into the Empire in 42AD.  The aqueduct runs for about 35 miles from mountains to the south to the city and was initially built during the reign of Juba, the last King of Mauritania, and a friend of Emperor Augustus.  The aqueduct was rebuilt in its current form during the 2nd century, when Caesarea was the capital of a Roman province.  The area remained subject to Rome until the middle of the 5th century, when it became governed by the Vandals, a barbarian tribe which crossed the Rhine in 406, settled initially in Spain and then migrated en masse to Africa in 429, establishing a kingdom that lasted for a century.

Rising more than 100 feet above the valley, the aqueduct bridge at Chabet Ilelouine, is the second tallest in Roman Africa and tenth highest in the entire empire.  That such effort, in engineering, construction and expense, was made in an obscure corner of the empire, shows both its wealth and determination to bring the basic benefits of its way of life to all of the cities in its orbit.