February 9th, 2016

Trump encourages audience participation

Trump being oh-so-coy:

Trump was touting his hardline stance against terrorists from the Middle East when he mentioned Cruz’s response during the debate Saturday on the use of waterboarding.

“Honestly I thought he’d say, ‘absolutely’ – and he didn’t,” Trump said, suggesting that Cruz was concerned about how some might take his answer on the subject.

“She just said a terrible thing,” Trump said, stopping his own remarks at the arena in Manchester and pointing out a woman in the audience, beckoning her to raise her voice.

“You know what she said? Shout it out, ’cause I don’t want to,” Trump continued. “OK, you’re not allowed to say – and I never expect to hear that from you again – she said … he’s a pussy.”

“That’s terrible, terrible,” Trump said as the audience erupted into a mix of laughs and cheers and he threw his hands into the air and moved away from the microphone.

I can’t imagine why half of America says it would be embarrassed if Trump were to become president.

Here’s Trump on Rubio:

Trump also went after Marco Rubio during the rally for “sweating like a dog” at the debate Saturday night…

Cats, dogs.

And lest you say to me “neo my dear, the word ‘pussy’ in that context has nothing whatsoever to do with cats, and everything to do with female private parts,” I actually looked it up, and the derivation for the term meaning “coward” (which is how the Trump-surrogate used it) is unclear. Could be both, could be either—could even, according to the more pedantic among us, be derived from “pusillanimous.”

As for dogs and sweating: they don’t. Even I knew that, although I didn’t know all the details:

A dog’s skin is quite different, which is why you have never seen a dog with sweaty underarms. Most of the dog’s sweat glands are located around its foot pads. That is why, when a dog is overheated, you will sometimes see a trail of wet footprints that he has left behind as he walked across the floor.

Rather than relying upon sweat, the principal mechanism that a dog uses to cool himself involves panting with his mouth open. This allows the moisture on his tongue to evaporate, and the heavy breathing also allows the moist lining of their lungs to serve as a surface from which moisture can evaporate. In this way the dog can manage a significant cooling of his body temperature.

Another mechanism that dogs use to try to cool off in involves dilating or expanding blood vessels in their face and ears. If it is not too hot outside, this helps to cool the dog’s blood by causing it to flow closer to the surface of the skin. This mechanism works best if the overheating is due to exercise, rather than a high outside temperature.

And speaking of pussies and Donald Trump, I had no idea until just now that there’s a vogue for making your cat’s hair into some sort of supposed facsimile of Trump’s and posting a photo of it at #trumpyourcat. For example:


And of course dogs, too:


Trump’s mention of Rubio sweating made me think of this:

America may have noticed Nixon sweating; pundits certainly did. But young neo, who was watching back then, didn’t notice a thing about it. Nor would I have thought a thing of it—didn’t everybody sweat?

Of one thing I am fairly sure: Kennedy wasn’t going to mention it. Candidates might sweat, but they were also expected to maintain a certain verbal decorum, at least in public. For example, in private LBJ may have been the possessor of an extraordinarily foul-mouthed wit, but in public he would never have displayed it, even against an opponent. Voters expected more of their leaders back then.

February 8th, 2016

Bet you didn’t know this about Ted Cruz

I didn’t know it either. Take a look.

I was talking to a liberal (but not at all doctrinaire) friend the other day, and she brought up the Republican candidates and asked my opinion on them. She’s not keen on Hillary or Sanders, and is taking a look at the Republicans. As I spoke, it became clear that all she knew about Cruz so far was the MSM hype (and the Trump hype, I might add) about him: “everybody hates him.” When I explained some of his experience, and some of the laudable traits I see in him, she was both impressed and surprised.

Cruz has been demonized by the MSM for several years now, and it’s sunk in. I don’t think it’s insurmountable, and I don’t think he’s “unelectable.” But there’s quite a bit that would need to be overcome.

February 8th, 2016

About that Christie-Rubio flap last Saturday

I mentioned the other day that I was going to write more on the Christie-Rubio exchange during the last debate, the one that has everyone abuzz. I’ve been working on an article that I might ship out (if it doesn’t get published elsewhere, it will appear on this blog soon), but I thought in the meantime I’d just summarize what I discovered.

Strangely enough, when I actually went back to the transcript of the debate (something very few people seem to have done), I was very surprised to find that Christie was startlingly wrong. What’s more, Christie was repeatedly ignoring Rubio’s main point and repeating his own flawed premise. Rubio was repeating himself in response because Christie kept restating the error.

When people (and that most definitely included me) listened to the debate, they didn’t catch it. It happens fast, and you have to be tracking the back-and-forth very very carefully. But going back to the transcript and reading closely, I found it fairly clear.

Unfortunately, because of Christie’s emphasis on Rubio’s repetition (as though that has any deep meaning), Rubio’s point got lost. Rubio would have done well to have specifically said something like “You keep repeating your error and that’s why I’m repeating my answer,” but that was his biggest failure, and it was rhetorical.

Those who believe that it was Christie who had a good night must believe it’s true that Obama is a bad president because of inexperience, because that was Christie’s position. In other words, Christie’s answer to the “knave or fool?” question for Obama is: fool.

That, IMHO, makes Christie a fool about the biggest question of Obama’s presidency, and in addition a fool about the danger the left presents. Rubio was trying to say that. Too bad Christie’s belittling of Rubio’s method of saying it fooled so many listeners.

I wonder: would people have liked it better if Rubio had just let the analogy of his inexperience with Obama’s inexperience—and the idea that that’s the source of Obama’s “errors”—stand? Or would it have been better if, instead of saying “Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” several times, Rubio had said “Obama is aware is the meaning and consequences of his own actions, and is therefore culpable rather than incompetent?” Yes, Rubio repeated himself for emphasis, but he also said plenty of other things that evening (and elsewhere) that weren’t in his stump speech. And of course Christie, and the others, repeat themselves all the time.

Rubio is not necessarily my frontrunner. I’m most simpatico with Cruz’s stances on most things, although I worry about his “electability” (I’m growing to hate that word). And in the past I’ve been somewhat positive towards Christie, as well as of Rubio. My defense of Rubio here is because of what I found when I went to the transcript—and not just what I found about Rubio, but what I found about Christie.

[NOTE: And by the way, although I don’t happen to think repetition is a crime when you’re making an important point, here’s a piece on how Christie repeated himself during the same debate.]

[ADDENDUM: I plan to be more specific in my longer piece. But in response to a commenter request, here’s a really quick listing of what Christie got wrong in terms of content:

(1) the idea that Obama’s flaws stem from inexperience rather than intent, a serious and dangerous underestimation of the man’s agenda, and the left’s agenda. That was why Rubio was hammering that point home. Not only did Christie have no effective answer, he didn’t even attempt to answer at any point, just kept repeating his error.
(2) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about his snow removal faux pas (and it was Christie who cited snow removal as some sort of experience relevant to the presidency, which it is not)
(3) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about Christie’s budget failings.

Actually, of Rubio’s three points, Christie only even attempted to answer one—the snow removal charge. And he did so ineffectively.]

February 6th, 2016

Post-debate thoughts on the debate I mostly didn’t watch

I watched about one-third of this evening’s debate. After that I turned it on intermittently, but what I saw convinced me to finally call it quits, and to eat my (very late) dinner in blessed silence.

Maybe this really wasn’t one of the worst debates ever, but it sure felt that way. But maybe it felt that way because my disgust is cumulative. So I suppose that what I’m about to write refers to the entire debate process as it’s evolved (or devolved) over the years.

I could say that there are now too many debates, and that they’re too long. And there are, and they are.

I could say there were too many people up there, and that each GOP debate should instead have consisted of two groups of roughly equal size, randomly selected each time and both appearing in prime time, and running two hours each maximum.

I could say that the candidates should each have to answer the same question, until all on the stage have answered, and each should get the same amount of time to answer.

I think these things would go a long way towards improving the situation. But I also think those things will never happen, so they are probably irrelevant.

Right now it’s become a multi-candidate press conference conducted by a small number of “gotcha” journalists who are far more interested in “winning” the debate themselves than in helping the viewers get an idea of what the candidates would do about certain substantive issues. Yes, there are a small number of the latter type of questions, but way too few, and the rest are either attempts to trip up whatever candidate[s] they’ve decided needs tripping up, or to get one of them to trip up another, on and on in succession.

Because the candidates are, after all, in competition with each other, many are only too happy to oblige. And then it becomes a verbal duel to see which of the two who are warring at any particular moment can come up with the best sound bite put-down of the other. But there’s really no time for a takedown that’s meaningful and substantive, and someone can get away with a very bad answer in terms of the facts if it just sounds aggressive enough.

It’s an Attention Deficit Disorder debate with a World Wide Wrestling format. This is not just a frivolous objection about tone. I believe that the debates have become at least part of the reason we have come to choose presidents on a more and more superficial basis in recent years. This format not only lends itself to superficial, it pretty much requires superficial, plus a huge and growing emphasis on looks.

I can’t speak on who “won” tonight’s debate. I didn’t watch enough of it. I know that I’m usually very impressed with Cruz, because he manages to stay calm and focused, and because his mind is stupendously organized he probably gets in more statements of substance that anyone else there. I know that Donald Trump has never said anything in a debate that shows an understanding of issues, and that he shies away from detail and just want us to believe his bluster and boundless self-confidence is enough. It’s not. I know that Rubio looked shaky tonight during the time I watched, and Christie like the New Jersey prosecutor that he is. Carson said he wouldn’t attack Cruz and then seemed to go on to sort of attack Cruz. Kasich and Bush were there, I think, as they always are. Fiorina wasn’t.

February 6th, 2016

GOP debate thread

Ah, here we go again. And on a Saturday night, too!

Here’s what Carly has to say: “You’ll just have to find out, won’t you?”

If any of Carly’s advisers are listening, I have an idea: I think they should wheel in a big cake, and she should jump out of it.

And if anyone says she’s too old for that sort of thing, she’s not even close. See this:

I’ll be watching the debate this evening as long as I can stand it.

8:35 PM: I already can’t stand it. Seriously.

I don’t know whether any of you are watching, but this is just a stupid bunch of fighting on a personal level. Christie getting tough, Rubio getting tough back, none of it having anything to do with anything of substance. To me (and I’ve always been okay with Christie), it makes Christie look bad. I have no idea how other people react, though.

Everything I hate about so-called “debates” is on display. Well, not everything, but one big thing.

8:49 PM: I have a feeling this debate will get the lowest ratings of all.

9:11 PM: As far back as I can remember I have always hated debates.

Not actual debates with a regular debate format, but these things that they call debates, which are all about attacking each other in ways that seem stupid and petty to me, and then seeing how the other person manages to parry the attack. I suppose that measures a useful skill of some kind or other, but I don’t see it as part of being president. But apparently it’s become a mandatory part of how you get to be nominated to run for president.

It doesn’t entertain me, it makes me almost ill in addition to boring me. It’s an odd combination, stress and boredom, and not a pleasant one.

I do think Ted Cruz is doing well. Nothing rattles him, and I think that’s because (a) he’s really smart, and (b) he’s participated in so many real debates over his lifetime that mounting arguments in an organized way is second nature to him. But it gives him that controlled quality that a lot of people find offputting.

Hmmm, Jeb Bush finally mentions what Trump did to Vera Coking in Atlantic City, and Trump no like.

February 6th, 2016

Dance teachers I have known: Stanley Holden, revisited

A while back I wrote a tribute to a ballet teacher of mine, Stanley Holden. A little recap is in order:

One doesn’t ordinarily think of comedy in connection with ballet dancers, but Holden was a master of it, best known for originating the en travesti character Widow Simone, choreographed on him by Frederic Ashton in 1960 as part of the ballet “La Fille Mal Gardee” with the Royal Ballet.

Holden is said to have performed the role—and its most famous number, the clog dance—with far more humor than anyone has ever managed to bring to it since. But alas, there is no video of him that I can find online…

Since I wrote that in 2010, guess what? A video has appeared on YouTube of Holden in the role.

Before I present it to you, here’s a bit more from my post, to refresh your memory:

Holden didn’t look like a ballet dancer at all; more like a jockey. He exuded a tremendous amount of energy and an unforced cheeriness that was both unusual and infectious. He never yelled or was even cross, unlike so many temperamental dance teachers.

…Holden excelled at giving the class what are called “combinations,” those little pieces of choreography that make a dance class interesting rather than a mere repetition of the same steps every day.

…He kept them coming at us rapid-fire. Whether he planned these combinations ahead of time or made them up on the spot, or whether he had a secret book with lists of them that he’d memorized, I have no idea. But I do know that—especially towards the end of class, when the combinations featured large jumps and other big movements across the diagonal of his huge studio (a space that, unlike most dance classrooms, was constructed without any obstructive pillars or columns)—the feeling most of us had, along with exhaustion, was sheer joy.

“I want to die teaching” Holden said in an interview in 1997. “That’s my life. I love it.” He managed to convey that love not in any conventionally schmaltzy (or balletic) way, but through his own exuberance.

So, here’s the video. I hope you can see what I mean about Holden’s exceptional personality. Although he could certainly do classical ballet, here you’d never know he had ever danced in anything but the British Music Hall tradition, and you can see how very much he is enjoying himself. So now you can enjoy it, too:

Here’s a video I included in my earlier post. It’s of a more recent dancer doing the same variation. He’s very good, but to me he can’t compare. This dancer’s training as a ballet dancer comes across too strongly, which is at variance with the character. In the same role, Holden hid his ballet background and seems very natural, and that included his facial expressions.

Holden also added a lot of funny bits you don’t see in the later video. Note in particular Holden’s slide (at around 1:34 on the first video) vs. this one (at about 1:44). This guy slides a lot longer and more dramatically. But it doesn’t seem like an integral part of the dance, it seems like a forced thing to show off the fact that he can do it. But, more importantly, you may have noticed that right at the end of Holden’s slide he does a subtle little bit where he looks back and down at the floor as though wondering what on earth he just slipped on (just like a regular person might really do), whereas the modern guy just sliiiides, then turns around and runs back. No rhyme or reason to it. And the omission of those sorts of telling details, those little touches, are part of what makes the difference between Holden and the others.

RIP, Stanley Holden (1928-2007).

February 6th, 2016

Over There: Bush predictions back in 2007

This certainly seems prescient. It’s a 2007 interview with President Bush. He uses the phrase “failure in Iraq,” but we didn’t actually fail; we (Obama, that is) abandoned it very prematurely. I don’t think that, at the time of this 2007 interview, Bush could conceive that his successor would voluntarily do that, although the Democrats in Congress had certainly been trying for a while. Bush also uses the term “Al-Qaida,” because ISIS did not yet exist. But what he’s doing here is predicting something like ISIS:

Failure in Iraq will cause generations to suffer, in my judgment. Al-Qaida will be emboldened. They will say, “Yes, once again, we’ve driven the great soft America out of a part of the region.” It will cause them to be able to recruit more; it will give them safe haven. They are a direct threat to the United States.

And I’m going to keep talking about it. That’s my job as the president, is to tell people the threats we face and what we’re doing about it. They’re dangerous, and I can’t put it any more plainly to the American people, and to them, we will stay on the offense. It’s better to fight them there than here.

And this concept about, well, maybe, you know, let’s just kind of just leave them alone and maybe they’ll be all right is naive. These people attacked us before we were in Iraq. They viciously attacked us before we were in Iraq, and they’ve been attacking ever since.

They are a threat to your children, David. And whoever is in that Oval Office better understand it and take measures necessary to protect the American people.

This is a later interview with Danielle Pletka, who was “the president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute” and “a former Republican staff member at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee”:

If we retreat, if we surrender in Iraq, then I think we should have no doubt that there will be places from which they can plan and operate. That doesn’t take away from their ability to plan and operate elsewhere. That’s why we need to be fighting them in Iraq and elsewhere.

But the second part of this is, it reminds me of the discussions that we had with the Clinton administration about Afghanistan in the 1990s. There was a huge amount of frustration that the rise of the Taliban, at the fact that the Taliban was giving al-Qaida a safe haven, and that the administration wasn’t doing enough about it. Now, to be fair, the Congress wasn’t doing enough about it, either.

But, again, you heard the same sort of complacency about where they would be doing their planning. No, they’re not going to operate and plan against us in the United States. They’re focusing on Africa. Or they’re focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I think that they are focusing on us. And where we give them room to breathe, they will operate, and they will plan, and they will strike us, and they will be encouraged and emboldened if we retreat and allow them that headquarters in Iraq.

Obama gave them plenty of room to breathe, and now they have that headquarters in Iraq and Syria, and they’ve already been striking at the west after wreaking tremendous havoc in the Middle East.

February 6th, 2016

As Hillary flails, there’s talk of Biden

I’ve seen a number of articles recently about it, such as this:

A prominent Democratic donor worried about the party’s chances of winning the presidency emailed dozens of fans of Vice President Joe Biden on Friday, urging them to remain prepared to donate if Biden jumps into the race.

The donor, Bill Bartmann, cited new polling showing Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont nearly tied with the Hillary Clinton, eroding the 30-point lead the former secretary of state held at the end of last year. Bartmann and other party insiders are concerned that Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, is too far to the left to win against a Republican in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“We cannot afford to lose the White House,” Bartmann wrote in the email, seen by Reuters.

The problem isn’t really the emails, although it’s often framed that way. The problem is that apparently Obama was being too kind when he said to Hillary in 2008, “You’re likable enough.”

At the moment, Hillary isn’t likable enough. I think she would be forgiven the emails by most Democrats if she was.

Study that video from 2008. It seems to have been taken not long before the New Hampshire primaries, so that’s eight years ago. Hillary was a mere slip of a girl at the time at 60, and now she’s 68. The difference—particularly for a woman—is generally quite large between those two ages. That’s not an indictment, it’s just a reality of life. You can see a certain hardness in Hillary when she listens to what is in fact a rather rude question, but that hardness passes and she makes what actually is a pretty good (and almost charming) comeback under the circumstances. Notice, also, the smooth nastiness of Obama, whom I have never found the least bit likable and have long been amazed that anyone does.

These days not only does Hillary look considerably older, but that hardness has taken over the image she projects, and any humor seems a lot more false. She seems brittle and ill-at-ease, quite angry at something or many things, and not angry in a good way. I think she’s frightened, and well she might be. It’s not going well for her.

The Democrats’ problem—and it’s why she seemed to be coasting to an anointment in the first place—is that they have few alternatives. Biden could be nominated, and he even could win (depending on who the Republican is, I suppose). But he’s a weak candidate, too, and he’s now 73.

The Democrats realize they have a dilemma, and that’s why they continue to cling to Hillary (bitterly). I’ve never understand why Elizabeth Warren didn’t run, because although she’s no spring chicken either (in fact, at 66 she’s almost Hillary’s age) she looks pretty good for her age, and doesn’t have the same sort of baggage as Hillary. Of course, she has different baggage, but in the scheme of things it’s rather light.

I’ve read many analyses of why the Democrat bench is so shallow, and most of it boils down to the fact that Democrats control fewer state governments and governorships and that therefore they don’t have the same volume of choices.

But I don’t think that is enough to explain it. After all, there are governors who are Democrats, and there certainly are members of Congress, plenty of them. I think it’s that the Democratic governors don’t have such great records for the most part, and/or are in very liberal states and probably have the same drawbacks as Warren and Sanders do, which is that they are pretty far to the left. The entire party has moved to the left. Obama was able to hide his leftism from a lot of people (although I think it was pretty obvious) because he had less of a record, I suppose, and because he’s gifted at hiding things. But other people probably can’t do it so effectively.

The Democratic Party has for the most part rejected the previously-winning strategy of Bill Clinton, which was to pull to the middle or to seem to pull to the middle. In recent years Obama has been so far left, and the party has also been so far left, that unless the population follows suit, the Democrats are in some difficulty. The voters certainly have become more leftist in recent years—for example, 52% of Hillary supporters now view “socialism” positively (even more of Sanders’ supporters do), and 32% of all Americans view it positively.

But it’s still not a majority. Not yet, although they’re working on it.

February 6th, 2016

In the snows of New Hampshire

Candidates have snowball fights with the press:


And yes, that’s Kasich. He’s still a candidate, having spent a lot of his money and effort so far in New Hampshire, and he’s doing pretty well there. That New Hampshire snowball he’s got in his hand is in the nature of a Hail Mary pass.

Donald Trump’s jet didn’t make it back to the state Friday night and he had to cancel that rally (he jets home every night to sleep, and he keeps a much lighter appearance schedule than all the others without meet-and-greets or answering of citizen questions). I’m assuming he’s in New Hampshire by now. But I thought you might like to see the following. After viewing it, it occurred to me that Air Force One would be a step (or several steps) down for Mr. Trump:

That photo of Kasich made me think of this, from my art history classes so long ago:


February 5th, 2016

Your Trump tidbit for today

Look, I almost did it. Almost stayed away from Trump posts today.

But those cookies…they were in the jar…and I just couldn’t help myself…I reached out…and…and..I found my hand going in…and then…

Thus, this post. But it will be mercifully short. Just a link.

There. Done now.

February 5th, 2016

Fiorina should be in the debate on Saturday

Of course she should. I don’t even think those who don’t like her think there’s any real reason to exclude her if Kasich, Bush, and Christie are there.

Take a look at the Iowa results. At this point, as the only actual voting that’s occurred, these figures should matter far more than any poll.

It would be different if there were still an undercard debate, and she could appear there. But right now Fiorina is the only candidate excluded from the big stage, and there will be no undercard debate. Either have another undercard debate (personally, I’d like to see the number of main debate participants be limited to three at this point) or include everyone in the main debate, unless one person is so obviously way way way below all the others that it’s clear he or she doesn’t belong (for example, Gilmore, who is also excluded, and whose exclusion no one seems to be protesting because even he knows he’s not a serious candidate). That’s not true of Fiorina, so her exclusion is both absurd and an unconscionable interference with the public’s right to see the candidates spar with each other.

Legal Insurrection’s Kemberlee Kaye suggests that the other candidates should escort Carly onto the stage on Saturday. Not a bad idea, although I doubt they’ll do it. But such disparate people as Romney, Gingrich, and Ben Carson have tweeted their support for her appearance.

February 5th, 2016

And then there’s the Democratic debate

I hear it was very contentious.

And I hear that it was the lowest-rated debate of the season by far. Probably by design; I don’t think the Democratic Party wants people to pay a lot of attention.

Well, I did as they wanted. I didn’t watch it.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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