Later On

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Archive for October 26th, 2020

How Newt Gingrich broke politics and brought dysfunction

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McKay Coppins wrote in the Atlantic two years go:

Newt Gingrich is an important man, a man of refined tastes, accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and so when he visits the zoo, he does not merely stand with all the other patrons to look at the tortoises—he goes inside the tank.

On this particular afternoon in late March, the former speaker of the House can be found shuffling giddily around a damp, 90‑degree enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo—a rumpled suit draped over his elephantine frame, plastic booties wrapped around his feet—as he tickles and strokes and paws at the giant shelled reptiles, declaring them “very cool.”

It’s a weird scene, and after a few minutes, onlookers begin to gather on the other side of the glass—craning their necks and snapping pictures with their phones and asking each other, Is that who I think it is? The attention would be enough to make a lesser man—say, a sweaty magazine writer who followed his subject into the tortoise tank for reasons that are now escaping him—grow self-conscious. But Gingrich, for whom all of this rather closely approximates a natural habitat, barely seems to notice.

A well-known animal fanatic, Gingrich was the one who suggested we meet at the Philadelphia Zoo. He used to come here as a kid, and has fond memories of family picnics on warm afternoons, gazing up at the giraffes and rhinos and dreaming of one day becoming a zookeeper. But we aren’t here just for the nostalgia.

“There is,” he explained soon after arriving, “a lot we can learn from the natural world.”

Since then, Gingrich has spent much of the day using zoo animals to teach me about politics and human affairs. In the reptile room, I learn that the evolutionary stability of the crocodile (“Ninety million years, and they haven’t changed much”) illustrates the folly of pursuing change for its own sake: “If you’re doing something right, keep doing it.”

Outside the lion pen, Gingrich treats me to a brief discourse on gender theory: “The male lion procreates, protects the pride, and sleeps. The females hunt, and as soon as they find something, the male knocks them over and takes the best portion. It’s the opposite of every American feminist vision of the world—but it’s a fact!”

But the most important lesson comes as we wander through Monkey Junction. Gingrich tells me about one of his favorite books, Chimpanzee Politics, in which the primatologist Frans de Waal documents the complex rivalries and coalitions that govern communities of chimps. De Waal’s thesis is that human politics, in all its brutality and ugliness, is “part of an evolutionary heritage we share with our close relatives”—and Gingrich clearly agrees.

For several minutes, he lectures me about the perils of failing to understand the animal kingdom. Disney, he says, has done us a disservice with whitewashed movies like The Lion King, in which friendly jungle cats get along with their zebra neighbors instead of attacking them and devouring their carcasses. And for all the famous feel-good photos of Jane Goodall interacting with chimps in the wild, he tells me, her later work showed that she was “horrified” to find her beloved creatures killing one another for sport, and feasting on baby chimps.

It is crucial, Gingrich says, that we humans see the animal kingdom from which we evolved for what it really is: “A very competitive, challenging world, at every level.”

As he pauses to catch his breath, I peer out over the sprawling primate reserve. Spider monkeys swing wildly from bar to bar on an elaborate jungle gym, while black-and-white lemurs leap and tumble over one another, and a hulking gorilla grunts in the distance.

At a loss for what to say, I start to mutter something about the viciousness of the animal world—but Gingrich cuts me off. “It’s not viciousness,” he corrects me, his voice suddenly stern. “It’s natural.”

There’s something about Newt Gingrich that seems to capture the spirit of America circa 2018. With his immense head and white mop of hair; his cold, boyish grin; and his high, raspy voice, he has the air of a late-empire Roman senator—a walking bundle of appetites and excesses and hubris and wit. In conversation, he toggles unnervingly between grandiose pronouncements about “Western civilization” and partisan cheap shots that seem tailored for cable news. It’s a combination of self-righteousness and smallness, of pomposity and pettiness, that personifies the decadence of this era.

In the clamorous story of Donald Trump’s Washington, it would be easy to mistake Gingrich for a minor character. A loyal Trump ally in 2016, Gingrich forwent a high-powered post in the administration and has instead spent the years since the election cashing in on his access—churning out books (three Trump hagiographies, one spy thriller), working the speaking circuit (where he commands as much as $75,000 per talk for his insights on the president), and popping up on Fox News as a paid contributor. He spends much of his time in Rome, where his wife, Callista, serves as Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican and where, he likes to boast, “We have yet to find a bad restaurant.”

But few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise. During his two decades in Congress, he pioneered a style of partisan combat—replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism—that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction. Gingrich’s career can perhaps be best understood as a grand exercise in devolution—an effort to strip American politics of the civilizing traits it had developed over time and return it to its most primal essence.

When I ask him how he views his legacy, Gingrich takes me on a tour of a Western world gripped by crisis. In Washington, chaos reigns as institutional authority crumbles. Throughout America, right-wing Trumpites and left-wing resisters are treating midterm races like calamitous fronts in a civil war that must be won at all costs. And in Europe, populist revolts are wreaking havoc in capitals across the Continent.

Twenty-five years after engineering the Republican Revolution, Gingrich can draw a direct line from his work in Congress to the upheaval now taking place around the globe. But as he surveys the wreckage of the modern political landscape, he is not regretful. He’s gleeful.

“The old order is dying,” he tells me. “Almost everywhere you have freedom, you have a very deep discontent that the system isn’t working.”

And that’s a good thing? I ask.

“It’s essential,” he says, “if you want Western civilization to survive.”

On june 24, 1978, Gingrich stood to address a gathering of College Republicanat a Holiday Inn near the Atlanta airport. It was a natural audience for him. At 35, he was more youthful-looking than the average congressional candidate, with fashionably robust sideburns and a cool-professor charisma that had made him one of the more popular faculty members at West Georgia College.

But Gingrich had not come to deliver an academic lecture to the young activists before him—he had come to foment revolution.

“One of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty,” he told the group. “We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal, and faithful, and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around the campfire but are lousy in politics.”

For their party to succeed, Gingrich went on, the next generation of Republicans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to realize that politics was, above all, a cutthroat “war for power”—and to start acting like it.

The speech received little attention at the time. Gingrich was, after all, an obscure, untenured professor whose political experience consisted of two failed congressional bids. But when, a few months later, he was finally elected to the House of Representatives on his third try, he went to Washington a man obsessed with becoming the kind of leader he had described that day in Atlanta.

The GOP was then at its lowest point in modern history. Scores of Republican lawmakers had been wiped out in the aftermath of Watergate, and those who’d survived seemed, to Gingrich, sadly resigned to a “permanent minority” mind-set. “It was like death,” he recalls of the mood in the caucus. “They were morally and psychologically shattered.”

But Gingrich had a plan. The way he saw it, Republicans would never be able to take back the House as long as they kept compromising with the Democrats out of some high-minded civic desire to keep congressional business humming along. His strategy was to blow up the bipartisan coalitions that were essential to legislating, and then seize on the resulting dysfunction to wage a populist crusade against the institution of Congress itself. “His idea,” says Norm Ornstein, a political scientist who knew Gingrich at the time, “was to build toward a national election where people were so disgusted by Washington and the way it was operating that they would throw the ins out and bring the outs in.”

Gingrich recruited a cadre of young bomb throwers—a group of 12 congressmen he christened the Conservative Opportunity Society—and together they stalked the halls of Capitol Hill, searching for trouble and TV cameras. Their emergence was not, at first, greeted with enthusiasm by the more moderate Republican leadership. They were too noisy, too brash, too hostile to the old guard’s cherished sense of decorum. They even looked different—sporting blow-dried pompadours while their more camera-shy elders smeared Brylcreem on their comb-overs.

Gingrich and his cohort showed little interest in legislating, a task that had heretofore been seen as the primary responsibility of elected legislators. Bob Livingston, a Louisiana Republican who had been elected to Congress a year before Gingrich, marveled at the way the hard-charging Georgian rose to prominence by ignoring the traditional path taken by new lawmakers. “My idea was to work within the committee structure, take care of my district, and just pay attention to the legislative process,” Livingston told me. “But Newt came in as a revolutionary.”

For revolutionary purposes, the House of Representatives was less a governing body than an arena for conflict and drama. And Gingrich found ways to put on a show. He recognized an opportunity in the newly installed C-span cameras, and began delivering tirades against Democrats to an empty chamber, knowing that his remarks would be beamed to viewers across the country. . . .

Continue reading. There’s much, much more.

Later in the article:

The rest is immortalized in the history books that line Gingrich’s library. The GOP’s impeachment crusade backfired with voters, Republicans lost seats in the House—and Gingrich was driven out of his job by the same bloodthirsty brigade he’d helped elect. “I’m willing to lead,” he sniffed on his way out the door, “but I’m not willing to preside over people who are cannibals.”

The great irony of Gingrich’s rise and reign is that, in the end, he did fundamentally transform America—just not in the ways he’d hoped. He thought he was enshrining a new era of conservative government. In fact, he was enshrining an attitude—angry, combative, tribal—that would infect politics for decades to come.

In the years since he left the House, Gingrich has only doubled down. When GOP leaders huddled at a Capitol Hill steak house on the night of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, Gingrich was there to advocate a strategy of complete obstruction. And when Senator Ted Cruz led a mob of Tea Party torchbearers in shutting down the government over Obamacare, Gingrich was there to argue that shutdowns are “a normal part of the constitutional process.”

Mickey Edwards, the Oklahoma Republican, who served in the House for 16 years, told me he believes Gingrich is responsible for turning Congress into a place where partisan allegiance is prized above all else. He noted that during Watergate, President Richard Nixon was forced to resign only because leaders of his own party broke ranks to hold him accountable—a dynamic Edwards views as impossible in the post-Gingrich era. “He created a situation where you now stand with your party at all costs and at all times, no matter what,” Edwards said. “Our whole system in America is based on the Madisonian idea of power checking power. Newt has been a big part of eroding that.”

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 5:03 pm

“I believe in the president, now more than ever”

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George Conway goes through what Trump asks his supporters to believe. He writes in the Washington Post:

believemore than ever, in the president.

I believe Sleepy Joe Biden and that “monster” Kamala D. Harris would turn America into a “socialist hellhole,” and we’d all have “to speak Chinese.” I believe they “want to take out the cows” and “any form of animals.” There will be “no airplanes,” they’ll “rip down the Empire State Building,” and we’ll only have “little, tiny windows.”

I believe Sleepy Joe leads an “organized crime family.” I believe he and President Barack Obama committed “the greatest political crime in the history of our country,” and it will be “a very sad, sad situation” if the attorney general doesn’t indict them.

I believe Hunter Biden is a criminal, because someone got hold of his “laptop from hell,” and because of some guy named Bobulinski, whoever he is. I believe Fake News reporters are also criminals because they won’t report this.

I believe the laptop didn’t come from Russian intelligence. I believe Hunter Biden flew from his home in Los Angeles to Philadelphia, and then took a train to Delaware, because he needed a legally blind repairman there to fix his laptop. I believe Rudy Giuliani when he says the odds are “no better than 50/50” he worked with a Russian agent to dig up dirt on the Bidens.

I believe “the president knows all about this” dirt-digging, so all the dirt must be true. I believe Giuliani may have been duped by fake Kazakh rubes but could never be conned by real Russian spies.

I believe Giuliani was just tucking in his shirt.

I believe the president doesn’t know much about QAnon other than “they like me very much,” and that it’s not “a bad thing” they are “very much against pedophilia.” I believe people should be able to make up their own minds whether Biden had Seal Team Six killed to cover up the faking of Osama bin Laden’s death.

I believe Harris is “nasty,” a “communist” and a “madwoman.” I believe we can’t have “a socialist president — especially a female socialist president.” I believe she has a funny name, and it’s possible “she doesn’t meet the requirements” for the vice presidency because her parents were born abroad.

I believe the president is the “least racist person” in any room he’s in. I believe it was fine for him to tell the Proud Boys to “stand by,” because “somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” I believe “corona” sounds like a “beautiful seaside island in Italy,” and so we must say “China plague.”

I believe the president has already announced his new, “incredible” health care plan, and it’s something “nobody has seen … before.” But I believe if it hasn’t been announced yet, it will be “very soon,” perhaps in two weeks. I believe that the president will improve on Obamacare by getting the Supreme Court to “end it,” which would be “so good.”

I believe it was the strategy of a stable genius for the president to urge Congress to pass a stimulus bill, and then, three days later, refuse to negotiate one, and then, seven hours after that, demand Congress “IMMEDIATELY Approve” one.

I believe the president was “not looking to be dishonest” about the China virus and that he played it down because he didn’t want “to create a panic.” I also believe he . . .

Continue reading. There is a lot more.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 4:32 pm

What the Rush to Confirm Amy Coney Barrett Is Really About

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Ronald Brownstein writes in the Atlantic:

Nothing better explains the Republican rush to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court than the record crowds that thronged polling places for the first days of early voting this week in Georgia and Texas.

The historic number of Americans who stood in long lines to cast their ballot in cities from Atlanta to Houston symbolizes the diverse, urbanized Democratic coalition that will make it very difficult for the GOP to win majority support in elections through the 2020s. That hill will get only steeper as Millennials and Generation Z grow through the decade to become the largest generations in the electorate.

Every young conservative judge that the GOP has stacked onto the federal courts amounts to a sandbag against that rising demographic wave. Trump’s nominations to the Supreme Court of Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Barrett—whom a slim majority of Republican senators appears determined to seat by Election Day—represent the capstone of that strategy. As the nation’s growing racial and religious diversity limits the GOP’s prospects, filling the courts with conservatives constitutes what the Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz calls “the right-wing firewall” against a country evolving electorally away from the party.

This dynamic suggests that the 2020s could reprise earlier conflicts in American history, when a Court majority nominated and confirmed by the dominant party of a previous era systematically blocked the agenda of a newly emerging political majority—with explosive consequences. That happened as far back as the first years of the 19th century, when electoral dominance tipped from John Adams and the Federalists to Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party. At the time—and in language today’s Democrats would recognize—Jefferson complained that the Federalists “have retreated into the judiciary as a stronghold … the tenure of which renders it difficult to dislodge them.”

Some lag time between the composition of the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, and the country’s electoral balance is built into the constitutional system, with federal judges receiving lifetime appointments.

But just as in earlier eras, conflict is likely to be on tap for the 2020s once Barrett’s seemingly inevitable confirmation cements a 6–3 conservative majority. Because the oldest Republican-appointed justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, are only 72 and 70, respectively, this majority might hold the last word on the nation’s laws for at least the next decade. The oldest Millennials may be in their 50s before any of these Republican justices step down from the high court.

Republicans have built this Supreme Court majority over the past 30 years even as Democrats have consistently won more votes. If Joe Biden takes the popular vote in November, Democrats will have captured the most votes in seven of the past eight presidential elections. No party has done that since the formation of the modern party system in 1828. Yet Republicans have controlled the White House, and thus the right to nominate Supreme Court justices, for 12 of the past 28 years.

The pattern in the Senate is similar. Boosted by their dominance of smaller states between the coasts, Republicans have controlled the Senate for 22 of the 40 years since 1980. But according to calculations shared with me by Lee Drutman of the centrist New America think tank, if you assign half of each state’s population to each senator, the GOP has represented a majority of the American public for only one two-year period during that span: 1997 to 1998. Today, according to Drutman’s figures, the 47 Democratic senators represent almost 169 million people, while the 53 Republican senators represent about 158 million. Measured by votes, the disparity is even more glaring: The current Democratic senators won about 14 million more votes (69 million) than the Republican incumbents (55 million), according to calculations by Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

The result is a Republican Supreme Court majority that, to an unprecedented extent, embodies minority rule. Assuming Barrett is confirmed, five of the six sitting Republican justices will have been appointed by GOP presidents who initially lost the popular vote. (George W. Bush, like Trump, won the Electoral College and lost the popular vote in his first election.) And all three of Trump’s nominees will have been confirmed by senators who represented less than half of the American public. The same is true for Thomas, who was nominated by George H. W. Bush.

As the party is now constituted, the GOP’s chances of winning popular majorities in presidential elections—or representing most Americans in the Senate—will probably be even lower in the coming decade than they’ve been in the past few. Trump has relentlessly targeted the GOP on the priorities and resentments of non-college-educated, Christian, and rural white voters—groups whose numbers are either stagnant or shrinking.

Meanwhile, the key groups  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 2:23 pm

A very nice Mandelbrot set zoom: 750,000,000 iterations

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The comment on the video on YouTube gives the exact co-ordinate being zoomed and other technical info (e.g., “This value took more than 10 gigabytes of ram to render the reference.”).

I liked this zoom a lot, and the Mandelbrot set is fascinating. From the Wikipedia article:

Images of the Mandelbrot set exhibit an elaborate and infinitely complicated boundary that reveals progressively ever-finer recursive detail at increasing magnifications, making the boundary of the Mandelbrot set a fractal curve. The “style” of this repeating detail depends on the region of the set being examined. Mandelbrot set images may be created by sampling the complex numbers and testing, for each sample point c, whether the sequence f (c(0)) , f (c (f (c ( 0 ) ))) , … goes to infinity. Treating the real and imaginary parts of c as image coordinates on the complex plane, pixels may then be coloured according to how soon the sequence | f (c ( 0 )) | , | f (c ( f (c ( 0 ) ))) | , … crosses an arbitrarily chosen threshold.

That explains how the colors are derived: they indicate speed of convergence. Here’s the video:

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 11:55 am

Posted in Math, Video

The media never held Trump responsible for a mass atrocity

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Jennifer Rubin is a Republican opinion columnist for the Washington Post. She writes:

The mainstream media have fallen short in covering President Trump in many respects — from playing along as if he were sane and coherent, to perpetuating false moral equivalences between Trump and his opponents, to refusing to call his lies “lies.” That’s how we get coverage of the final presidential debate that praises Trump for not interrupting rather than making clear that Trump showed indifference to the deaths of more than 222,000 Americans because of covid-19. Somehow that accurate, verifiable statement is verboten in straight news coverage.

The most extraordinary failure in presidential history — the attempt to disguise and downplay the deaths of more Americans than all the U.S. military deaths from World War I, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined — has not been laid at Trump’s feet. Put aside criminal law for now; this is a moral crime of unimaginable dimensions that should never be erased from the records of Trump and his enablers. What’s more, it is still going on.

Trump’s refusal to tell the American people that the novel coronavirus was a deadly airborne virus far worse than the flu, as he told The Post’s Bob Woodward, followed by his effort to goad governors into opening their states’ economies early, his disdain for masks and social distancing, and his recklessness in holding rallies and unmasked events needlessly exposed Americans to death and illness.

In the closing days of his campaign, Trump is still holding mass rallies that have left a trail of infection. We now learn a coverup was underway to conceal the extent of an outbreak among Vice President Pence’s staff. The New York Times reports, “Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, portrayed an outbreak among Vice President Mike Pence’s close advisers as a matter of medical privacy that White House officials were right to try to keep from the public.” Meadows’s excuse that Pence was engaged in “essential” work and therefore exempt from health guidelines is false:

The C.D.C. guidelines allow “critical infrastructure workers” to continue working after a coronavirus exposure as long as they are asymptomatic. Campaigning, however, is not essential work. The guidelines also state clearly that a critical worker who has been exposed to the virus should “wear a face mask at all times,” among other precautions.

Mr. Pence appeared without a mask at a rally in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, and some in the crowd were also maskless. Mr. Trump’s supporters also rarely wear masks at his rallies.

The mentality remains: Ignore the science, cover up the danger and risk others’ lives. The Post reports, “With the election a little over a week away, the new White House outbreak spotlighted the administration’s failure to contain the pandemic as hospitalizations surge across much of the United States and daily new cases hit all-time highs.” In short, “The outbreak around Pence, who chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, undermines the argument Trump has been making to voters that the country is ‘rounding the turn,’ as the president put it at a rally Sunday in New Hampshire.”

Even more damning, we now hear a confession straight from the lips of the president’s chief of staff: The administration is not even trying to control the pandemic and reduce infections and deaths. “We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

She concludes the column with this:

In the bizarre effort to maintain “balance,” the mainstream media have failed to press the question to Trump: “Aren’t you responsible for possibly hundreds of thousands of deaths because you never wanted to admit failure?”

Furthermore, soft-peddling the direct consequence of Trump’s pandemic denial gives cover to Republican politicians and pundits who still defend his presidency and even back his reelection. The question for them is: “How are tax cuts or Supreme Court justices worth the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives?” That is a question that should haunt them forever.

We talk about presidential blunders that lead to unnecessary wars, holding them politically and morally account for massive loss of life. Yet in peacetime, we do not apply that same exacting judgment to Trump. You would think the death of thousands upon thousands of Americans would top every story and be addressed in every interview with an administration figure and fellow Republicans. The failure to hold Trump accountable for one of the worst civilian mass death in U.S. history stands among the greatest failures of American media.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 11:33 am

A powerful campaign video from Joe Biden, with “The Love” by Black-Eyed Peas and Jennifer Houston

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It’s four minutes and worth watching.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 11:23 am

A Message to Democrats from Your New Ally (namely, a Republican consultant)

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Stuart Stevens has a powerful piece in The Bulwark:

I’ve spent a lot of my life—far too much in retrospect—waging war on the Democratic party. It was my job and I was good at it but in all those battles, even in the toughest of races, I never hated the other side. I wanted to win each race with the heat of a thousand suns and when I did lose, I found it sickening in a way that hung with me longer than any victory. But I never feared for the country if the Democrats won.

This year, for the first time in my life, I’m helping out the other side, because I very much do fear for the country under an even more unrestrained Donald Trump. There are many good men and women in the Republican party, but they have proven themselves to be smaller than the moment demanded. They stink of fear and desperation and it breaks my heart to watch them flail around trying to convince the world, and themselves, that they are not who they have proven to be. I feel sadness. I feel pity. But not remorse.

Today’s Republicans are not worthy of the great legacy they inherited. When grown men and women refuse to denounce a man who boasts he did not rape a woman because “she was not my type,” any semblance of public good has been lost. I can’t direct the Republican party to the lost and found where it might reclaim its soul, but I do know that defeat, while not sufficient, is necessary in order for it to embark on that journey.

It’s a strange feeling to be working on the side of those whom you fought for so long. Often in winning campaigns—and the Democrats are winning this campaign—there comes a giddy sense of satisfaction when you near the end. I feel none of that. For me there’s no joy in working against my former tribe. I think the experience must be a little like having been a member of the First Alabama Cavalry, the soldiers from the deep South who remained loyal to the Union. General Sherman relied on them as his personal escort. I suspect it was because he knew they had made a bitter choice that pitted them against friends and family—and once that line was crossed, they would not flinch seeing the task to completion. So it is with those of us who are, or once were, Republicans now fighting against Trump and Trumpism.

Having spent decades attacking the Democratic party, I don’t approach your party with any illusions about it being perfect. But I am convinced that the Democratic party has remained far truer to aspirational American values than the compromised, moral disgrace that is the party which endorsed Roy Moore and welcomes the dangerous lunacy of QAnon.

I am proud to be helping a good and decent man like Joe Biden and I welcome the future that is represented by Senator Harris.

The Biden operation is running a superb campaign: disciplined and mature. To launch as a frontrunner and stumble as badly as the Biden campaign did in the primary, there is tremendous pressure to change the candidacy in some dramatic and almost inevitably unsuccessful way. The vice president and his campaign didn’t go down that path. They decided to win or lose with who Joe Biden is. And damn if they didn’t win.

The most vulnerable moment for any challenger facing an incumbent president is the period immediately after . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, and it’s worth reading and repays reflection.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 11:14 am

Kansas counties with mask mandates adding new infections at half the rate of state, analysis shows

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Antonia Farzan reports in the Washinton Post:

Kansas counties that opted to require masks in public are adding only about half as many new coronavirus cases per capita as the state overall, according to a new analysis from the University of Kansas’s Institute for Policy and Social Research.

Although Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) instituted a statewide mask mandate at the start of July, a bill passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature allows counties to opt out. As of Oct. 15, only 24 out of 105 counties were requiring masks, according to the Kansas Health Institute. But those include some of the more populous areas of a largely rural state, and roughly 72 percent of the state’s population is covered by either county or city-level mask orders.

The KU study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, finds that counties that implemented the mask mandate saw a decrease in new cases within 14 days. Even when factoring in occasional spikes, the number of new infections in those communities has remained largely consistent since July. But in counties that opted out of the mask mandate, the number of new cases reported each day has risen steadily for the past four months.

On average, Kansas reports slightly over 14 new cases per 100,000 people each day. Counties with mask mandates, however, average around seven cases per each 100,000 people, according to the analysis.

Donna Ginther, a professor of economics and the institute’s director, told the Lawrence Journal-World that she and her fellow researcher experimented with controlling the data to account for compliance with other public health measures. They found that residents of counties with mask orders weren’t necessarily more likely to stay home and avoid traveling outside the county or the state.

“The mask-wearing didn’t stop people from moving around,” she told the paper. “It didn’t stop people’s movements, but it stopped the spread of the disease.”

I sure that conservatives will think this is merely a coincidence.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 11:09 am

Natural Bay Rum and a brush with a slight waist

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This very nice little Vie long brush is either a horsehair brush (my view) or a boar brush (vendor’s claim). In either case, I soak the knot. The handle is octangle and a rather handsome resin, and as you see the waist is merely hinted at. Withal, the handle is quite comfortable and knot is excellent in terms of efficiency and (if soaked) feel. Even if you don’t soak it before use, by the time you’ve completed the first pass and start to lather for the second, the knot will have softened and be quite nice.

Meißner Tremonia’s Natural Bay Rum is another good soap with a full-throated fragrance (as it were): clearly distinct and present — and pleasant. However, this is another example of the tub not fitting into its upturned lid,  a low-level annoyance since I have to find a place to stash the lid and my bathroom has as little counter space as it can have and still have any counter space at all. It has ε counter space.

Still, a good and fragrant lather and a warm, comfortable brush soothed me, and then there was the pleasure of the vintage Merkur white bakelite slant, the first slant that totally bowled me over. Made probably in the 1930’s, a big case of them was found in a warehouse and for a brief period they were available again. Gone now, though.

After three passes, my face was perfectly smooth and a splash of Krampert’s Finest Acadian Bay Rum, an aftershave I like a lot, finished the job and launched the week.

Written by Leisureguy

26 October 2020 at 10:05 am

Posted in Shaving

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