Monday, January 23, 2017

Sorry, but Donald Trump is not the next Ronald Reagan. He is the next Richard Nixon.


Meeting of minds, 1989

Kellyanne Conway, Ann Coulter's doppelganger and fashion gangsta, has been making the rounds:
A top aide to President Donald Trump says he won't release his tax returns, insisting that voters aren't concerned about the issue. 
"The White House response is he's not going to release his tax returns," said Trump's senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, on ABC's "This Week." 
"We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care," Conway added.
Conway peddled the same line to Seth Myers on his late show, much less success (it's right at the end):



That rang a bell for me, and the bell cast my memory back to a 1993 Seattle Times story (I'd just moved there) about some more just-released Nixon Watergate tapes:
In an Oval Office conversation on June 21, 1972, four days after the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate office building, Nixon and H.R. Haldeman, one of his closest aides, discussed the impact of the event. They considered whether the American people would share Washington's curiosity about the attempt to listen in on conversations at Democratic headquarters. 
Nixon said the Washington press would be bound to be interested. "Anything that's as bizarre as this - and interesting - is going to be a national story," Nixon said. He continued: 
"In terms of reaction of people, the reaction is going to be primarily in Washington and not the country because I think the country doesn't care much about it."

Whenever two or more are gathered in Philosopy's name, jokes will follow.


As a middle manager, is it better to be feared or loved? Well, as it turns out, it doesn't really matter because you are a meaningless cog in a giant corporate machine.

h/t Existential Comics.

Memento Mori: Samuel Barber.

Samuel Barber died on this day in 1981. He was 70 years old.

Barber was a formalist, which always appealed to me; for within the discipline of structure the most remarkably intense expressions can be formed. He knew spectacular success and critical acclaim at an early age, but lived to see the fashions change and diss his work as passe'.

The day he died was a Sunday, and I had gone out to lunch. I was new to Portland, Oregon, and tended to eat alone.

The weekly Chicago Symphony broadcast was on the radio as I drove along the scenic Terwilliger Boulevard. The announcer disclosed the news of Barber's death. The audience gasped. I pulled into a layby overlooking downtown.

The orchestra played "Adagio for Strings." I cried.



He will remain forever in the popular canon for his Adagio- in its varied forms, from quarter to choral piece- but Barber was a vastly more gifted and versatile composer than that piece alone can convey. Here is an Indiana University School of Music performance, from 2015, of Barber's ethereal "Knoxville, Summer of 1915" composed in 1947 from a text by the author James Agee published in 1938:

We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child. It was a little bit sort of block, fairly solidly lower middle class, with one or two juts apiece on either side of that. The houses corresponded: middle­sized gracefully fretted wood houses built in the late nineties and early nineteen hundreds, with small front and side and more spacious back yards, and trees in the yards, and porches. These were softwooded trees, poplars, tulip trees, cottonwoods. There were fences around one or two of the houses, but mainly the yards ran into each other with only now and then a low hedge that wasn’t doing very well. There were few good friends among the grown people, and they were not enough for the other sort of intimate acquaintance, but everyone nodded and spoke, and even might talk short times, trivially, and at the two extremes of general or the particular, and ordinarily next door neighbors talked quiet when they happened to run into each other, and never paid calls. The men mostly small businessmen, one or two very modestly executives, one or two worked with their hands, most of them clerical, and most of them between and forty-­five.

But it is of these evenings, I speak. Supper was at six and was over by half past. There was still daylight, shining softly and with a tarnish, like the lining of a shell; and the carbon lamps lifted the corners were on in the light, and the locusts were started, and the fire flies were out, and a few frogs were flopping in the dewy grass, by the time the fathers and the children came out. The children ran out first hell bent and yelling those names by which they were known; then the fathers sank out leisurely crossed suspenders, their collars removed and their necks looking tall and shy. The mothers stayed back in the kitchen washing and drying, putting things away, recrossing their traceless footsteps like the lifetime journeys of bees, measuring out the dry cocoa for breakfast. When they came out they had taken off their aprons and their skirts were dampened and they sat in rockers on porches quietly. It is not of the games children play in the evening that I want to speak now, it is of a contemporaneous atmosphere that has little to do with them: that of fathers of families, each in his space of lawn, his shirt fishlike pale in the unnatural light and his face nearly anonymous, hosing their lawns. The hoses were attached at spigots that stood out of the brick foundations of the houses. The nozzles were variously set but usually so there was a long sweet stream spray, the nozzle wet in the hand, the water trickling the right forearm and peeled-­back cuff, and the water whishing out a long loose and low­curved and so gentle a sound. First an insane noise of violence in the nozzle, then the irregular sound of adjustment, then the smoothing into steadiness and a pitch accurately tuned to the size and style of stream as any violin. So many qualities of sound out of one hose: so many choral differences out of those several hoses that were in earshot. Out of any one hose, the almost dead silence of the release, and the short still arch of the separate big drops, silent as a held breath, and only the noise of the flattering noise on leaves and the slapped grass at the fall of abig drop. That, and the intense hiss with the intense stream; that, and that intensity not growing less but growing more quiet and delicate with the turn the nozzle, up to the extreme tender whisper when the water was just a wide of film. Chiefly, though, the hoses were set much alike, in a compromise between distance and tenderness of spray (and quite surely a sense of art behind this compromise, and a quiet deep joy, too real to recognize itself), and the sounds therefore were pitched much alike; pointed by the snorting start of a new hose; decorated by some man playful with the nozzle; left empty, like God by the sparrow’s fall, when any single one of them desists: and all, though near alike,of various pitch; and in this unison.

These sweet pale streamings in the light out their pallors and their voices all together, mothers hushing their children, the hushing unnaturally prolonged, the men gentle and silent and each snail-like withdrawn into the quietude of what he singly is doing, the urination of huge children stood loosely military against an invisible wall, and gentle happy and peaceful, tasting the mean goodness of their living like the last of their suppers in their mouths; while the locusts carry on this noise of hoses on their much higher and sharper key. The noise of the locust is dry, and it seems not to be rasped or vibrated but urged from him as if through a small orifice by a breath that can never give out. Also there is never one locust but an illusion of at least a thousand. The noise of each locust is pitched in some classic locust range out of which none of them varies more than two full tones: and yet you seem to hear each locust discrete from all the rest, and there is a long, slow, pulse in their noise, like the scarcely defined arch of a long and high set bridge. They are all around in every tree, so that the noise seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, from the whole shell heaven, shivering in your flesh and teasing your eardrums, the boldest of all the sounds of night. And yet it is habitual to summer nights, and is of the great order of noises, like the noises of the sea and of the blood her precocious grandchild, which you realize you are hearing only when you catch yourself listening. Meantime from low in the dark, just outside the swaying horizons of the hoses, conveying always grass in the damp of dew and its strong green-black smear of smell, the regular yet spaced noises of the crickets, each a sweet cold silver noise three-noted, like the slipping each time of three matched links of a small chain. But the men by now, one by one, have silenced their hoses and drained and coiled them. Now only two, and now only one, is left, and you see only ghostlike shirt with the sleeve garters, and sober mystery of his mild face like the lifted face of large cattle enquiring of your presence in a pitch dark pool of meadow; and now he too is gone; and it has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by. A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt; a loud auto; a quiet auto; people in pairs, not in a hurry, scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually, the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk, the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber. A street car raising its iron moan; stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past, the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks; the iron whine rises on rising speed; still risen, faints ; halts, the faint stinging bell; rises again, still fainter, fainting, lifting, lifts, faints forgone: forgotten. Now is the night one blue dew. Now is the night one blue dew, my father has drained, he has coiled the hose.Low on the length of lawns, a frailing of fire who breathes. Content, silver, like peeps of light, each cricket makes his comment over and over in the drowned grassA cold toad thumpily flounders.Within the edges of damp shadows of side yards are hovering children nearly sick with joy of fear, who watch the unguarding of a telephone pole. Around white carbon corner lamps bugs of all sizes are lifted elliptic, solar systems. Big hardshells bruise themselves, assailant: he is fallen on his back, legs squiggling. Parents on porches: rock and rock: From damp strings morning glories : hang their ancient faces. The dry and exalted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums. On the rough wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts.

We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there. First we were sitting up, then one of us lay down, and then we all lay down, on our stomachs, or on our sides, or on our backs, and they have kept on talking. They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. All my people are larger bodies than mine, quiet, with voices gentle and meaningless like the voices of sleeping birds. One is an artist, he is living at home. One is a musician, she is living at home. One is my mother who is good to me. One is my father who is good to me. By some chance, here they are, all on this earth; and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth, lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of night. May god bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father, oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble; and in the hour of their taking away.After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well-beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am.



Kellyanne says, "God is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I mean, four gospels?"



Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a rigorously grounded man. When his friend James Boswell twitted him over Bishop George Berkeley's theory of immaterialism- that things cannot exist unseen, and only God prevents us endlessly flashing in and out of existence- Johnson kicked a large stone hard with his shoe, and growled, "I refute it THUS."

Immaterialism revived itself this weekend. Here is a simple, Johnsonian refutation I offer as a public service:
Right now, it is raining outside. It is not an alternative fact to posit that President Putin is flying a planeload of the World's Best Whores overhead to pee on my house.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hippocrates' Four Humors, updated

A useful guide from MIT linguistics expert George Lakoff:

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We are heading into a new golden age of protest signs.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, sky, shoes, outdoor and nature

It's not little at all. It's yuge and solid gold. #MAGA

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Move over, Miss Manners. Mr. J. Rhett Clement of Boiling Springs, SC is the new social arbiter of American taste, and he says I am bigly- yugely- Out.Of.Date.

The animal spirits are running high among the sore winners of social media these days.

In a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page- something or other about Mrs Trump- yesterday this comment by one J. Rhett Clement appeared:

J Rhett Clement Get over it HATERS, She's the first lady now!!
At least she has CLASS, something that has been missing in the Whitehouse.😁😁😁😋

I replied with a question:

Lindsay Thompson Define "Class" please, J. Rhett Clement. Feel free to use yourself as an exemplar.

I posted that January 21 at 10:37 am. I figured a man who considers a former model who did nude photo shoots simulating lesbian amours before becoming adored by evangelicals had some decided views he, too, tries to model in his life and would jump at a chance to dilate upon.

Mr Clement studied on the matter until around 1:30 this morning, and decided to pass on the chance to elaborate on his views. Instead, he gave me a right sharp one:

gibbs head slap.jpg

J Rhett Clement Lindsay it sure ain't a bowtie , I think your out of date, time wise. There is a spell checker too!!


Let’s take Mr Clement’s points in order:

1: “Lindsay it sure ain't a bowtie , I think your out of date, time wise.”*

As an ad hominem attack, Mr Clement’s riposte is poor.

For bowtie wearers, indifference to the J. Rhett Clements of the world is a first principle.

People who wear bowties are like the old general in the Flannery O’Connor story: they don’t give two slaps what people like Mr J. Rhett Clement think.

It’s nothing personal. I’m sure few, if any, bowtie wearers have ever heard of Mr J. Rhett Clement. I haven’t. I can live with that.

I see where Mr J. Rhett Clement lives in Boiling Springs, South Carolina.

South Carolina is the second most popular state when it comes to bowties, it turns out. A Father’s Day 2015 story in The State- South Carolina’s leading newspaper, reported,

“Our bowtie business is the best it’s been in our history,” said Perry Lancaster, store manager at Brittons of Columbia. “With us setting the record (for the most bowties tied in five minutes) back in February of 2014 and Lucky Levinson (Brittons co-owner) having the No. 1 most-viewed YouTube site in the world, our bowtie business is stronger than it’s ever been.” Levinson’s video shows how to tie the perfect bowtie.

Even necktie sales are “doing alright” this year heading into the busy Father’s Day shopping weekend, Lancaster said. “But it’s mostly bowties.”

In fact, four of the top five states for bowtie sales are in the South. Perhaps Mr J. Rhett Clement feels menaced, or surrounded.

Nationally, bowtie sales doubled from 2010 to 2013. In 2014 the trade mag MR reported, “bowties continue to do well for some retailers (they tend to be regional or catering to a younger, more fashion-forward customer) in an otherwise flat neckwear market.

Since 2009 Google searches for bowtie have been four times as high as those for neckties.

Bowties remain the default neckwear for formal occasions, as we have seen this week:

trump bow.jpg

The Scots TV producer Steven Moffat says,

See the bowtie? I wear it and I don’t care. That’s why it’s cool.

Cooper Ray, a 13th-generation Southerner and bowtie designer for Brooks Brothers, said- in The Wall Street Journal, no less,

Whenever I wear one, women smile.

cooper ray.jpg
Mr Cooper Ray of Charleston, SC

I respect Mr. Ray's perspective. My family has been in North Carolina for twelve generations, but we are country people in the main.

Warren St. John of The New York Times wrote of the hooptie:

But perhaps most of all, wearing a bowtie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think… A list of bow-tie devotees reads like a Who’s Who of rugged individualists: Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and Fred Astaire wore bowties, as did Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York and Paul Simon of Illinois.

To those one can add Groucho Marx, The Cat in the Hat, Andre 3000, Playboy Bunnies, Waylon Smithers, The 11th Doctor Who, James Bond (for 70 years, no less), Abraham Lincoln, Bill Nye Johnny Depp, Pharrell Williams, and Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

John Glenn, America’s first astronaut, wore bowties.  So did Col. Sanders. So did President Roosevelt. Both.

Tucker Carlson made his name in media wearing bowties. Then he went to Fox News and became a dullard because Roger Ailes’ tastes ran to blonde babes.

I’m betting more people know and respect those characters more than those who, facing a style dilemma, wonder, WWJRCD?

In 2014, when a ten-year-old fan gave Justin Timberlake a bowtie, he called it, ““The greatest gift ever – because a gentleman can never have too many bowties.”

Justin Timberlake is also way more famous that J. Rhett Clement. I don’t need to know J. Rhett Clement to know that.

In a 1995 Atlantic article John D. Spooner recalled a friend who summed up the emblematic meaning of the bowtie:

A bowtie is like the ideal life," Mike told me. "You have to play with it, tweak it, to get it right. Even then, of course, it's always a bit askew. But it should be."

Dr. Seuss said, “You can’t dribble on bowties.” Indeed, a 2013 Bloomberg News story noted,

Recent converts to bowties have found they have some enduring advantages. They’re easier to wear than long ties, and they use less fabric -- 37 inches instead of 57 inches for neckties -- making them a bit lighter, Macy’s Guion said. They also sit on the neck, so the wearer is less conscious of them and they’re less prone to food stains.

The band Outkast says,

Crocodile on my feet
Fox fur on my back
Bowtie ’round my neck
That’s why they call me gangsta mack
In the Cadillac!! Yeah!!!

They even titled the song “Bowtie.”

There is a National Bowtie Day. It comes every August 28.

Mr J. Rhett Clement has a birthday, I assume. I do not see it noted in listings of national events and holidays, though. There is no J. Rhett Clement Day.

I looked hard, too:

Screenshot 2017-01-22 at 18.55.49.png

Maybe Mr J. Rhett Clement hates on bowtie wearers because he can’t tie one. This should not be a source of shame: 99% of men can’t. A common caution to newbies is, “Remember, tying a bowtie is like tying your shoes in the dark while drunk."

I can do that.

Here are some other interesting facts about bowties:

infobowties7-01-e1410806772984.jpg

Here’s Mr J. Rhett Clement’s second comment:

“There is a spell checker too!!”

Mr Clement must feel ‘exemplar’ is mis-spelled, as every other of the thirteen other words I used is correct.



Exemplar- the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “fit to be imitated (arch.); typical, illustrative”- has, however, been spelled as I spelled it since its first known appearance in English in 1570: “The Exemplar Number of all things Numerable,” Preface to Euclid.

(I cohost an internet show about rare books. This sort of thing is my briar patch.)

You could look it up- "exemplar." It’s always a dodgy business to chide someone else’s spelling when you don’t know how it is spelled yourself. It invites comparisons.

_______________________________________


* As Jimmy Carter said he wouldn’t speak of pardons when he ran for president, I will not use the term “spellcheck” here, or draw attention to Mr J. Rhett Clement’s use of “your” where “you’re” would have been correct.

How not to seem dumb on social media: don't post brainless memes

Of all the dumb memes that populate social media, the term limits meme is among the more utterly, cynically stupid:


term limits meme.jpg

Term limits proposals are ever with us, of course; the Republicans won the House in 1994 with a promise they never intended to keep, and didn't.

The term-limits movement, which drew more support from conservatives than liberals, started its growth during an era when Democrats had a powerful hold on the congressional majorities — controlling the House from 1955 to 1995, while holding the Senate for all but six of those 40 years. 
But when Republicans retook the congressional majority in the 1994 midterms, a new era of competition took hold. The Senate majority has flipped four times in the past 16 years, and the House majority has changed hands twice in the past decade. 
That took much of the wind out of the sails for term limits. 
“We have term limits now — they’re called elections,” McConnell said the day after the election. He said there would be no consideration of the proposal in the Senate.
Mostly, term limits plans are designed by partisan groups or pols set on keeping their own options open as long as possible. They tend to mix and match US House and Senate service at around twelve years total.

This they do because that is, in fact, the more than the average service of all members of Congress since 1789.


Through the 19th century- indeed, until 1913- senators were chosen by state legislators, which tended to limit their service in light of all the others seeking to climb the greasy pole. House membership tenure tracked that of the senate closely:
The database consists of a total of 48,872 cases. The average service of Representatives was highest in the 102nd, 110th, and 111th Congresses, where Members had an average of 10.3 years of House service, or just over five terms. The highest average service of Senators occurred in the 111th Congress, where Senators had an average of 13.4 years of service, slightly more than two terms. For both the House and Senate, the Congress with the least average years of experience was the 1st, as all Senators and Representatives necessarily had zero years of experience upon arrival. In the last 50 years, the Congress with the lowest average years of service among Representatives and Senators was the 97th Congress (1981-1982), in which Representatives had an average of 7.4 years of service in the House (slightly more than 3.5 terms) and Senators had an average of 7.5 years of service in the Senate (1.25 terms).John Conyers, Jr. is the longest serving Representative, with 52 years of service at the beginning of the 115th Congress (2017-2019). As of the beginning of the 115th Congress, Representative Conyers also has the most cumulative congressional service. The longest serving Senator isPatrick Leahy, with 42 years of service in the Senate at the beginning of the 115th Congress.  
As shown in Figure 1, during the 19th century, the average service of Representatives remained roughly constant, with only 12 Congresses having an average service greater than 3.0 years and just one Congress having an average service less than 1.5 years. Additionally, there appears to be little or no change over time; the average years of service was slightly higher for the first half of the century than during the second. During the 20th century, the average years of service for Representatives steadily increased, from an average of just over four years in the first two Congresses of the century to an average of approximately 10 years in the three most recent Congresses. The average years of service peaked at 10.3 years of service in the 102nd Congress (1991-1992), and was also 10.3 years of service in the 110th and 111th Congresses (2007-2008 and 2009-2010). At the start of the 115th Congress, the average years of service for Representatives was 9.4  years.



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Here’s a link to the report from which this data comes. It was published by the Congressional Research Service on January 3, 2017.




Over the last ten years, the average time of service in Congress has dropped a year and a half. Of the 100 senators in the last Congress, only seven fell into the 30-40 year service period the meme says spawns corruption.


In contrast, in the new Congress, forty-six of the 100 senators were elected in or after 2010.


Here are historical comparisons:


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The Congressional Research Service report concludes:


Two additional observations accompany the analysis presented here.

First, aggregate statistics on Member service tenures tend to disguise the variety of congressional service records found among individual Members. Some Members have very short tenures of service and choose not to seek re-election; other Members have long tenures which end after re-election defeat. At the aggregate level, average careers have become longer; in the case of any individual Representative or Senator, however, these aggregate statistics have little or no predictive ability.

Second, the institutional and policy contexts that have shaped Member decisions to seek or not seek re-election, and succeed or fail when seeking re-election, are not static factors. Just as the institutional contexts of elections and congressional operations have developed since the 19th century, they continue to change in the contemporary Congress. To the degree that patterns of congressional service in part reflect the incentives provided to Members by these institutional factors, it is likely that the patterns of Member service tenure will also continue to change.Similarly, the continued development of the institutional environment suggests that there is no way to predict how the patterns of service tenure will change; just as seemingly stable 19th century patterns rapidly changed toward the end of the century, so could the service tenure patterns we observe today.


I will add this: American have term limits. They can impose them at will in two ways.


The easier and more frequent, option, is actually voting.


The second is to elect state legislatures that are not intent on cementing themselves into power and then, given their power to redistrict congressional seats, doing the same in Congress.


North Carolina’s General Assembly is a case in point. After a billionaire bankrolled a successful takeover in 2010, the new majority redistricted themselves into a veto-proof supermajority in 2014.  


At the end of 2016, there were 636,000 more Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina, and the Democrats outpolled Republicans in legislative races. But the Republicans hold 74 of 120 House seats (76 members ran unopposed) and 35 of 50 Senate seats. They hold 10 of 13 congressional seats with half the votes of the public.


In the 2016 election, US House Republicans won 49.1% of all congressional votes cast. They won 241 seats- a majority of 23. 49.1% of the vote should have given them 213 seats.


Last summer in Conservative Review, Logan Albright made the case against term limits pretty plainly. With gerrymandering, pols pick their voters. With term limits, incumbency is maximized and the power of money- which flows to incumbents- is magnified:


[T]he fact is that incumbents win elections because people choose to vote for them, people want them to win. You can argue that those people are wrong, that they are uninformed, that they shouldn’t want what they want. To do so, however, is not an argument for term limits, but one against democracy. Politicians can’t really buy votes: they buy advertising. If advertising gets people to vote for them, that is a criticism of the voters, not the politicians. 

The complaint really seems to be that voters don’t know what they are doing, but term limits do not address that problem as directly as say limits on who is allowed to vote. It just forces incumbents out after certain number of years. What’s the magic number of years an incumbent can serve? Any answer will necessarily be arbitrary. If a Member of Congress is likely to be less corrupt after two terms than three, then it follows they should be still less corrupt after only one term, but I have not heard anyone propose limiting terms to just one. 

The biggest problem with term limits is that there is no guarantee that the person you kick out will be replaced with anyone better. All the term limits accomplish is removing the people’s first choice as an option when an incumbent would otherwise be elected. Why should we suppose that voters’ second choice will be an improvement? And if the second choice is likely to be better than the first, doesn’t it follow that the third choice will be better still? Following this logic, an argument could be made that the candidate with the least votes is likely to be the most qualified, which again comes down to a rejection of democracy.


President Trump says he wants congressional term limits. Without explaining why, he wants to limit House members to six years’ service, and senators to twelve. One winning election to both would be able to serve eighteen: twice the historical average and double what term limits enthusiasts say is intolerable now. And why twice to time for senators?


The fact is, term limits is just a con on voters. You win by calling for it, knowing that a constitutional amendment needs a ⅗ vote of both houses of Congress. Turkeys never call for an early Thanksgiving.


And when it doesn’t pass, pols can just keep beating up on Congress.


It’s a win-win- for them.


So let’s move on to a meme that makes sense.

Just the once?

Aziz Ansari's SNL opener: "There's no place like home" is still true- if you can figure out where that is.


Since the President lifted lines from a Batman movie for his inaugural address, the Government Printing Office should move at once to start a new set of archive volumes, "State Papers of American Comedians, and let Ansari's set open Volume 1, and give it pride of place next to "Public Papers of the Presidents."

I particularly enjoyed his reflections on life in the newly insane Carolinas. My family has been here since before the Revolution, but Ansari and I have the same problem:
You know who I’m talking about. There’s like this new, lower-case K.K.K. movement that started — this kind of casual white supremacy. “Oh, let me put my foot in the pool and see how cold this water really is.” No! No! I’m talking about these people that are running around saying stuff like, “Trump won! Go back to Africa!” “Trump won! Go back to Mexico!” They see me: “Trump won, go back — to where you came from.” 
Yeah. They’re not usually geography buffs. 
[APPLAUSE] 
Is that the plan, by the way? We’re all going to move? All the minorities? Forty-some percent of the country? Every minority’s going to move? 
Beyoncé’s going to move? Beyoncé ain’t moving. 
I ain’t moving. O.K.? My parents — 
[APPLAUSE] 
My parents moved from India to South Carolina in the early ’80s. They didn’t move until nine years ago. You know where they moved? North Carolina. They love it here. They’re not leaving.
Me, I've been told I need to go home, too.

I don't know how to answer. Is home where your people are? Then I have to choose between a graveyard in Texas, and one of two in Richmond County, North Carolina. One of them- the new, preferred locale for my aged relatives' interments- is on the private property of an uncle. I might get arrested for trespass if I tried to set up camp in the woods to await my call.

Robert Frost was wrong when he wrote, "Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in." Among the living of my people, doors done long since hit me on the way out.

Shelby, my nominal hometown, where I graduated high school?

Not likely. Stop at a business in The City of Pleasant Living, and you are likely to see one of these:



Not the formulation, "where you belong." Last October, Governor Pat McCrory praised my hometown as "the real North Carolina"-  place where his bathroom bill is only a good start:
“I need to let you know this is not just a Charlotte debate,” he said when asked about HB2. “As governor now, not as a former mayor, I need to tell you, if you think this is only a Charlotte issue, you need to think (about) what people are saying about it 20 miles outside of Charlotte.” 
McCrory listed the names of several smaller cities — Shelby, Lincolnton and Wadesboro — as examples of places where support for HB2 runs much stronger.
So where does that leave me? Portland or Seattle, between which I lived for thirty years? Can't afford to move back, can't afford to stay when I get there.

I used to think of a quartet of counties in the North Carolina Sandhills as home: Richmond, Hoke, Scotland, and Cumberland. They still send Democrats to the General Assembly and have such substantial minority populations that overtly discriminatory behavior is sporadic.

But when they do send Democrats to Raleigh, they tend to send the stupidest ones with free time on their hands. Almost half the eleven Democrats who voted for HB2 admitted, afterward, they had no idea what it would do.

My undergraduate alma mater, St Andrews University, is the only one of its peer group of North Carolina schools not to take a stand in opposition to HB2. They sit on their hands, humming loudly, staring at passing clouds.

Aziz Ansari ended his monolog last night with this:
I want to leave you guys with a serious thought. I know there’s a lot of people that are worried right now. This is a weird time. 
If you’re excited about Trump, great. He’s president. Let’s hope he does a great job. 
If you’re scared about Trump and you’re very worried, you’re going to be O.K., too. Because if you look at our country’s history, change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen. 
[APPLAUSE] 
Good luck to you.
I reckon I will just hunker down where I am. The leadership of Charlotte is predictable and mostly self-cancelling. The Democrats will come to any event, sup at any fundraiser, and promise anything to anyone so long as doing anything isn't required. They got burned by HB2, see, and when the squeeze got uncomfortable, they heaved their LGBT constituents over the side faster than Alfred Hitchcock did characters in Lifeboat (to their credit, they said recently they were thinking about talking about re-enacting their antidiscrimination ordinance, but in a purely symbolic, unenforceable way: a gesture while we wait our turn).

Charlotte Republicans, who all live in a big white triangle on the South Side, make no pretense of caring about my rights, but their free market principles demand that they take a hands-off view. The market should pick winners and losers, under advice from Mark Harris, who is pastor of First Baptist Church when he is not running unsuccessfully for federal office to write his loathing of minorities into law.

Mind, when pushed, Charlotte Republicans will vote for discrimination. There aren't enough gays to swing an election, after all, and no one has figured out how to stack them all in one district the way they have the blacks and browns in two.

My wild card, "go back to" choice is Drakes Branch, VA, a village my family lived in from 1959 to 1960. But it is dying fast as a going civic proposition and rests at the epicenter of the anti-integration Massive Resistance campaign, where the public schools were all shut down for a couple of years rather than let black kids attend them.

That DNA is still in the people, and the rule for gays in the country is you just don't move there unless you have enough money to buy tolerance, acreage and a top-notch perimeter security system.

So I feel kind of like the old man Alben Barkley- Harry Truman's vice president and a longtime Kentucky congressman and senator- remembered from his hometown in the early 1900s.

Asked which side he was on in a heated local campaign, the old man replied, "I haven't decided yet. But when I do, I'll be mad as hell!"


"After this, all the women will march *for* me, and it will be so beautiful."

WBTV is fallen far from the days it was a television news pioneer, then leader, in the Carolinas.

Until I realized it just means they have no copy editors any more, this WBTV promo tag line made me wonder if the reason the Trumps look so unhappy together is that The Great Grabber has told Melania he wants to start trading outfits:

"WBTV News is your best source for Trump transition coverage!"