Monday November 23, 2020
Suspended from Twitter for 12 Hours
Last week, former Bush speechwriter and current senior editor at The Atlantic David Frum tweeted that Congress was unprecedentedly approving more conservative judges during this lame-duck session, and my anger at Mitch McConnell was stoked anew. I dashed off this response before I went for a walk:
When I returned and logged onto Twitter, I found, instead of the usual feed, a message telling me I'd been suspended from the site for 12 hours for violating its rules against abuse and harassment. “You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.”
They had a link where you could argue your case, and I certainly had one: It was obvouosly a joke, or a metaphor, and anyway the harm Mitch McConnell is visiting upon our country is a million times worse than my little tweet. But then I thought: No. I really do mean it. I want Mitch McConnell kicked in the nuts. On some level, it's unfathomable to me that the man is able to walk around D.C. without at least three people a day taking a shot. So I didn't argue my case. I took the punishment. If it was punishment. It was kind of freeing, to be honest. I had to delete the tweet, but I could still scroll through Twitter; I just couldn't tweet, retweet, like, or comment on anything. Sometimes I forgot and tried to like something, but mostly the 12 hours, half of which were sleeping hours, went like that. I spent more time on legit news sites. I spent more time reading.
I'm glad they're policing. I just wish they did it better. Mis/disinformation is the battle and we're losing it every day on all of these social media platforms.
Sunday November 22, 2020
'Strained Legal Arguments Without Merit'
The best thing about our courts is you can't just blab on as you can before the press; the court won't take it. Remember David Boies' line about eviscerating an anti-marriage equality proponent during the Prop 8 case? “In speeches, no one got to cross-examine him.” But Boies did. And there went that guy's argument.
Last week, Donald Trump's personal $20k-a-day lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who's been busy spouting theories of voter fraud, went back into the courtroom for the first time in decades. It didn't go well.
Asked what standard of review should be applied, Giuliani responded “the normal one.” He said he didn't understand what “strict scrutiny” meant. He said he didn't understand what “opacity” meant, then guessed it meant “you can see.” U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann responded: “It means you can't.”
My favorite line from Judge Brann?
“You're alleging that the two individual plaintiffs were denied the right to vote. But at bottom, you're asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth. Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?”
Man, why can't journalists do this?
Cut to the chase. Yesterday, Brann ruled on a request to dismiss Giuliani's/Trum's case. His ruling was basically “Fuck, yeah.” It was “Get this shit out of my court.” Here's his intro:
In this action, the Trump Campaign and the Individual Plaintiffs (collectively, the “Plaintiffs”) seek to discard millions of votes legally cast by Pennsylvanians from all corners – from Greene County to Pike County, and everywhere in between. In other words, Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated. One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.
That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.
P.S. Brann is a Republican.
Trump won't go away on Jan. 20 but he will be removed from holding the levers of power; and we'll be a better country and a better world for it.
Saturday November 21, 2020
“Consider just how openly racist and undemocratic the Michigan debacle was. Two white Republican canvassers refused to certify the results of the state's most populous Democratic county, which contains Black-majority Detroit. Was there evidence of fraud? No. ... One of those canvassers, Monica Palmer, suggested that the white-majority areas of the county could be certified, while the Black-majority city of Detroit could not. ...
”This was a racial disenfranchisement move so blatant it would make Jim Crow blush. Michigan Republican leaders applauded this, and Trump tweeted, “Flip Michigan back to TRUMP.” Among the national Republican leaders, those with a conscience—a group that could fit in a broom closet—have been quiet.“
-- Timothy Egan, ”Donald Trump Is Leaving Behind Blueprints to End Democracy," The New York Times
Saturday November 21, 2020
Dreaming of Jeff Bezos
Here's a dream from last night—or early this morning.
I was working at Amazon and heading to some event with Jeff Bezos. Was it planned that we would go together or were we just leaving together the office at the same time? The office was on the second floor and to get to the street level you had to walk down a long wooden outdoor staircase. That's what we were doing, but every other step there was a giant object, like a huge iMac computer, that we had to step over. Was there also snow? We were going to a movie premiere or event like SIFF, and Bezos was talking about how he hadn't been to a movie in years. I said “Really?” and was going to mention seeing him at Seattle movie theaters over the years—like at that Ricky Gervais movie—when he added he'd been to see “Our Miss Brooks” and some other film. I couldn't hear him. We were reaching the bottom of the staircase, and I was like, “What did you say again? 'Our Miss Brooks' and what movie?” He got frustrated. No, he insisted. It wasn't “Our Miss Brooks” but “Our Miss Brooke.” It was a festival dedicated to the life and career of Brooke Shields.
Friday November 20, 2020
America Held Hostage, Day 17
“I'm no political pundit, but I grew up with a dad who was a federal prosecutor and he taught me a lot. I've also sat a fair amount of poker with serious players and l'll say this: I do not think Trump is trying to 'make his base happy' or 'laying the groundwork for his own network' or that 'chaos is what he loves.' The core of it is he knows he's in deep, multi-dimensional legal jeopardy and this defines his every action.
”We're seeing: 1) a tactical delay of the transition to buy time for coverup and evidence suppression, and, above all, 2) a desperate endgame, which is to create enough chaos and anxiety about a peaceful transfer of power, and fear of irreparable damage to the system, that he can cut a Nixon-style deal in exchange for finally conceding. But he doesn’t have the cards. His bluff after ‘the flop’ has been called in court, his ‘turn card’ bluff will be an escalation and his ‘river card’ bluff could be really ugly. But they have to be called. We cannot let this mobster bully the USA into a deal to save his ass by threatening our democracy. THAT is his play. But he’s got junk in his hand. So call him.
“I will allow that he’s also a whiny, sulky, petulant, Grinchy, vindictive little 10-ply supersoft bitch who no doubt is just throwing a wicked poutfest and trying to give a tiny-hand middle finger to the whole country for pure spite without a single thought for the dead and dying. But his contemptible, treasonous, seditious assault on the stability of our political compact isn’t about 2024, personal enrichment or anything else other than trying to use chaos and threat to the foundation of the system as leverage to trade for a safe exit. Call. His. Bluff.
”Faith in the strength of our sacred institutions and founding principles is severely stretched ... but they will hold. They will. He’s leaving, gracelessly & in infamy. But if we trade for it, give him some brokered settlement, we’ll be vulnerable to his return. We can’t flinch."
-- Actor Edward Norton, in a six-tweet thread, early this morning
Friday November 20, 2020
Very bummed about the PED-revelation and year-long suspension for Robinson Cano. I guess even in our 50s we remain kids and want our baseball heroes to be clean and upstanding rather than what we know the world to be: problematic.
A short synopsis of my history with the man: Ignored/worried about him as a Yankee, counseled against the Mariners signing him for too long and too much money, wrung my hands when they did exactly that, dug him as a stellar talent on our team, empathized with his struggles with acid reflux, shook my head over his first suspension for a diuretic/PED masking agent, worried that we would trade him and Edwin Diaz during the 2018/19 off-season, wrung my hands when we did exactly that. I didn't want him to come and didn't want him to go. I guess I like stasis? No, that's not right. He grew on me. I was hoping to see him hit 3,000 at the Nei-House.
Now it looks like he won't hit 3,000 at all. He had 2,376 hits after his age-34 season in 2017, but he's only gotten 248 hits over his last three seasons, for a total of 2,624. He lost half a season to the diuretic, hit poorly in 2019, and this season, while PED-fueled, was a blip. Wait, make that 248 hits over four seasons. He's not playing in 2021. The next time he'll have a chance to get an official hit, he'll be 39 years old.
It's all a bit sad. Among active players, Cano is currently third in hits (81st all-time), third in doubles (28th all-time), seventh in batting average, fourth in bWAR (68.9).
I like this graf from Tyler Kepner's semi-obit in the Times:
If Cano had accepted [the Yankees' seven-year deal after the 2013 season], the deal would have just expired. Instead, he wisely took advantage of a bad team's desperation to be relevant. The Mariners splurged on Cano for 10 years and $240 million, and could hardly believe their luck when the Mets took the second half of the deal off their budget — and gave up the franchise's best prospect, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, for the privilege.
All that is exactly brutally right. Still sad.
Thursday November 19, 2020
What is Shirley Jones 'Known For'?
Ask me what Shirley Jones is known for and I'd say the 1955 movie “Oklahoma!” and the 1970s TV show “The Partridge Family.” Oh right, and “Music Man.” Marian, librarian. She was so lovely in that. She also won an Oscar for “Elmer Gantry” or something. So all that.
The other day I was checking out her IMDb page because of a Cagney connection (“Never Steal Anything Small”), and it seems IMDb's algorithms disagree with my assumptions. Again. I guess it weights for Oscars? Hence “Elmer Gantry.” Also weights for movies? Hence, no “Partridge Family.” But why isn't “Oklahoma!,” suerely one of the great American musicals, mentioned?
This could be me and the world caring about different things. That describes much of my life, actually. But I still think the algorithms are off. They care too much for Oscars and too little for TV and ...
Wait, is it that with “Oklahoma!”? I bet it is. God, that's dumb.
Shirley Jones is the female lead in “Oklahoma!” but because it was her movie debut she's fifth-billed. So I bet IMDb dings her for that. Except the movie made her such a star that she was second-billed in “Carousel” the following year. Which is why, in IMDb's logic, that one trumps the other. Even though everyone knows “Oklahoma!” and less so “Carousel.”
The problem with a society run by algorithms.
Don't even get me started on “Grandma's Boy.” JFC.
Lovely in “Oklahoma!”
Wednesday November 18, 2020
America Held Hostage, Day 15
I've been fairly calm through this, although less so yesterday afternoon when two Republicans in Wayne County, Michigan voted (w/o precedent or evidence) to not certify the 2020 electioin outcome. Outcry. Two hours later, they recanted. I'd like to hear them confess, to be honest.
This guy, Ned Staebler, was a hero in that fight.
Trump seems intent on bringing anything down with him: these Wayne County Republicans, Lindsey Graham, half the Republican party, the entire country. Wait, make that about 90% of the Republican party. They're now not just the opposite of the Democratic party, they are anti-democratic—and thus anti-American. This is what you get when you listen to your own bullshit for a quarter century.