I have had only a vague, distant impression about what's driving Brexit, and only within the past week or so did I realize how close the vote was going to be. For US votes, I follow Sam Wang and 538 for their data-driven, boring approach. The nearest equivalent I can find for the UK is YouGov, where I guess I'll be following results. Their polling shows a map with a vaguely familiar pattern, if you swap blue and red:
Remain is strong in the cities, Leave in the more rural areas. But why is Leave so popular in the estuaries of the Wash and Thames? Why is Scotland all pro-Remain, when the Scottish independence vote was divisive? If the rest of the UK votes Leave, will Scotland vote for Independence and join the EU?
I came into this leaning cautiously to Remain. However, I really hoped to find that my initial impressions of Leave were wildly wrong, and I was hoping they had very strong arguments.
Why? Because the country might vote for Leave. And if that happens I'd much rather be saying "well, at the end of the day both sides have a good point" than "oh god, oh god, we're in real trouble now".
Unfortunately, "well, at the end of the day both sides have a good point" is not what I found.
At every single turn, I found that the Leave campaign's arguments were founded on lies. Sorry, it's as simple as that. I wish it wasn't.
Over to you, Nigel and our other Britfriends, and best of luck.
The Last of England, by Ford Madox Brown. I never noticed before that there are cabbages hanging from the netting. Are they supposed to be on some sort of Bum-boat, carrying passengers as well as fresh provisions to the big ships at anchor? It's interesting that Brown didn't choose to show "the last glimpse of home", but portrayed middle-class people literally turning their backs on England.
Ever since it became clear that Donald Trump would have enough delegates for the Republican Presidential nomination, various desperate Republicans have been talking about the possibility of a "coup" at the convention, where the cooler heads of party stalwarts might install someone more generally-acceptable as the nominee.
I've been laughing at these ideas, because A) the second-place finisher in the primaries should be the logical choice, but that's Ted Cruz, and the party stalwarts hate him as much as they hate Trump. More importantly, B) the GOP base chose Trump, and, to quote Republican strategist Anna Navarro:
A brokered convention would be the equivalent of the political "Hunger Games". And I am not exaggerating. Take a look at what's going on at Donald Trump events. Take a look at what happens to protesters. They get basically assaulted. If you think people aren't going to get clubbed like baby seals on the floor of the convention you haven't been watching what's been happening.
But now I'm starting to wonder if I should change my mind. The May FEC filings dropped Monday night, and Trump's campaign is in worse financial shape than anyone expected. Well, almost everyone: Josh Marshall has been saying for a while that Trump is probably broke, or has so little liquidity it amounts to the same thing. Remember, Trump hasn't released his tax returns, and some people have wondered all along if they'd show that Trump is really only millionaire-rich, not billionaire-rich.
Donald Trump's whole campaign looks like a grift, a self-serving con. Will this turn GOP delegates away from him, or is it just business as usual?
The Disciples at Emmaus painted by Han van Meegeren as a forgery of Vermeer. I first learned about van Meegeren in the Time/Life book about Vermeer, when I was a teenager, and I was struck from the start by how much van Meegeren's paintings don't look like Vermeers. I believe they looked much more like Vermeers when they were first painted, but even by the 1960s Vermeers looked different to us, we paid attention to different things.
I used to think I didn't like roses. The standard roses of my youth in the 60s and 70s were Hybrid Teas: gorgeous, large flowers without much scent, from plants that are magnets for bugs & diseases. Ugh, not worth it.
What really changed my mind was a particular rose. It grows in front of the Sullivan Real Estate office on Water Street, Block Island, at the south corner of their garden. It's been there for well over 10 years, but I can't find a picture of it. It's a light-to-medium pink, many-petaled "old rose" type, repeat flowering and salt tolerant, with the most wonderful, full, rose-and-lemon scent. The people there don't remember what the name is, but I figure it's a David Austin rose introduced no later than 2000 (might be "Gertrude Jekyll").
Every time I go to Block Island, I make sure to stop by this rose at least every other day and stick my nose into it, snorting the delicious scent until I feel almost drunk. "Roses might be worth growing!" I said to myself, "too bad my garden is all shade, all the time."
Maybe for the sunnier spot where I plan to have peonies & phlox?
They don't have nearly enough David Austin roses, and too many Hybrid Teas. Of course, that's partly because no others can compare to HTs for color varieties and for their long, cutable stems.
I've been thinking about roses, but what I've been putting in are some native plants plus a whole lot of Sedums:
Though the hill we're on top of is only about 150 ft. above the village, it's so dry and windy (by the standards of central NJ) that we have very few mosquitos and almost no poison ivy. We'll have to terrace the front to make a garden that can grow things like Garden Phlox, but meanwhile I'm trying all kinds of supposedly shade-tolerant Sedums to see which will grow.
I've put my pots of herbs on the front porch, because that spot actually gets the most consistent sun:
That's: basil, basil, parsley, mint, parsley, basil, basil, parsley. Next summer I'm going to really try to get some more kinds of basil, especially lemon -- it makes the *best* tuna salad.
I'll take a picture of the front garden after the annuals have had a little time to settle in. Other garden developments: there are several places around the house where leaves have apparently been piling up for years. When the top layer is removed, wonderful leaf mulch like you pay for is revealed! My garden elf is making a screen to get out the gravel so we can use even the bottom layer.
We're also collecting old pallets to use in making a compost bin. Following suggestions I found online, I discovered that the local lawnmower & power equipment store, just as they predicted, often has pallets to get rid of. My biggest problem: we don't have a station wagon like we used to, so we can only get one pallet at a time and it has to be the small size. We've got two so far, and the elf thinks he'll only need 3 (or maybe 4) to make a double compost bin.
So what's up in your gardens?
ETA: It turns out Sprog the Younger has a picture of the Block Island rose I love:
Any idea what variety it might be? I'm pretty sure that's *not* "Gertrude Jekyll". "Abraham Darby", perhaps?
A couple of weeks ago, there was a primary election here in California. Per California law, most of the races were what we call "top two". That is, everybody can vote for all of the candidates, from all parties, for each office. The top two vote winners go on to the general election.
That applies even when, as happened in the US Senate race, both of the top two are from the same party. (Actually, the state of the California Republican Party is such that, in state-wide races, that result is more common than not.) In fact, in the Senate campaign if all of the votes for the 11 Republicans in the race were combined, they would have only barely exceeded those of the second place Democrat (there were also 7 Democrats in the race; plus the other 4 regular parties' candidates and a couple of independenets). That's have far things have gone.
But there were two exceptions. The first, of course, was the Presidential primary. Three of the parties (Republicans, Greens, Peace and Freedom) only let registered members of their parties vote in their primary. The other three (Democrats, Libertarian, American Independent) allow voters who have not registered in a party to request (at the polls) one of their ballots. (Makes for great fun for poll workers. We are explicitly forbidden from telling voters that they have those options. All we are allowed to do is point them to the written statement on that point, and wait for them to ask "of their own volition." Sigh.)
The second was the contest for members of the party Central Committee for the local county. In my county, there were 9 candidates for 7 positions. But the trouble was this: there was zero information available about those 9 candidates. No mailers arrived. None of them had websites. With one exception, I could not even find anything about them with a web search. So, no information on which to make a decision. Nada.
Why does that matter? Because the County Central Committee is where political careers start. Not so much via membership, as because they are the ones who recruit candidates of local and state legislative office. Who the committee members are, and what they think the party should be, shape who they recruit. But what is that; what do they each think? How do I, as a party member, give my vote to the ones who reflect my views on that?
I don't have an answer to that. Just some frustration. And a hope that I can figure out how to make the situation better -- not this time, obviously, but perhaps for the future. Without some changes, the party which could win Govenrorships, and Presidential general elections, in the 1970s and 1908s, will remain an irrelevance here. And government really works better if there is some real competition between parties.
One facet of the discussion regarding the Islamic inspired attack on the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando is the heavy political tribalism that is already shaping the narratives, particularly regarding whether it was an Islamic terrorist attack or an anti-gay hate crime.
Team Blue takes the anti-gay hate crime side of the argument while Team Red takes the Islamic terrorist attack side. What is so frustrating is that it clearly was both. To fail to understand it as both is to abandon your ability to talk about it as it really was, and to fail to respond to the dangers it really represents.
Team Blue doesn't want to talk about it as a terrorist attack for a number of reasons. First they know that Trump's reaction to it as a terrorist attack will be ridiculous and counterproductive. Second, they know that such acts stick to the President, no matter how unfairly. Third, they worry that fear about terrorist attacks accrues more power to Trump and/or Team Red.
Team Red doesn't want to talk about it as an anti-gay hate crime because there are too many strong anti-gay elements in their midst. They don't want to be associated with this kind of massacre. They don't want us to look at how the anti-gay elements of our own culture dovetails nicely with the ideology of Islamic terrorists. They don't want to admit that the rhetoric of many of their allies supports the kind of thinking that makes killing gays in a nightclub seem righteous.
So we chose our sides and cut off half of the analysis.
This attack cannot be properly understood without looking carefully at both.
I won't claim to fully understand the Trump phenomenon. But I will suggest that a large part of his appeal is in speaking aloud truths that we have been neglecting. His stated methods for addressing these problems are foolish. His framing of the problems is misguided. For all his bullshit, he seems to strike a lot of people as being unafraid to talk about certain obvious things that we on the liberal consensus have been papering over for decades. He is dangerous in a case like this not because his solutions for terrorism make sense, but because he won't hide from the fact that it was terrorism. He knows we can't even engage him because we won't call it terrorism. But it is. People know it is. So we will look like lying fools for denying it and he will gain power.
Team Red however wants to frame it wholly as terrorism because they are connected to anti-gay elements that don't seem entirely uncomfortable with the idea of killing a bunch of faggots. I'm afraid I'm too angry at how that all has played out, and more distant than ever from my old Republican connections to adequately address it. But there is a virulent strain of anti-gay sentiment that is well nurtured on the Team Red side, and its kinship to Islamic terrorism ought to give pause.
I don't often remember my dreams. This morning I woke up into a dream where I was waking up in my bed. I realized that the north and west walls in my room had transformed into a plexiglass and that there were no doors anymore. There was some crazy straight guy yelling at me for not thinking that his girlfriend was hot and how I was never going to get out. I picked up a heavy claw hammer and was banging uselessly against the walls as he screamed. But just as I woke up I had realized that the claw side could break through and the spiderweb cracks were spreading as I was breaking through and getting ready to attack the screamer.
Don't you hate it when your brain informs you that you aren't dealing as well as you thought?
Hulk Hogan's case against Gawker has caused quite a bit of consternation.1 The concerns seem to cover a few major topics: forum shopping2, the media being chilled from conducting their normal business, the size of the award, the immense costs of defending a lawsuit, the danger of having rich third parties fund lawsuits.
In case you haven't heard of the case, it is fairly simple. Hulk Hogan was filmed having sex without his knowledge. Gawker media published the video in full on the internet. Hogan sued Gawker for various privacy torts. He won a gigantic verdict against them. After the verdict, Billionaire Thiel was revealed as having helped Hogan fund the lawsuit. Thiel had a grudge against Gawker for outing him as gay.
My initial response as a lawyer was: nothing about this seems particularly surprising. Forum shopping is standard for class actions and privacy torts, companies are always complaining about how lawsuits chill their ability to act the way they want to (attend any meeting with doctors and mention malpractice suits), windfall awards are scary for everyone, everyone talks about how expensive lawsuits are to defend, and having rich third parties fund lawsuits is nothing new (I'm sure you've all heard of the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and the NRA).
All of these problems are brought up repeatedly in tort reform discussions so I couldn't understand what was so special about this case. After reading quite a few articles on the case (some of them almost apocalyptic in tone) I realized that there was some truth in their complaints, and I had just been convinced by tort reform arguments that most of those problems were unadressable. However, many of these arguments were being advocated by people and institutions which had previously not been very receptive to tort reform arguments, so maybe it was time to revist them.
Forum shopping. This actually wasn't a problem in this case, but it is indeed a big problem. The problem is that most states have very long-arm statutes which allow those in the stream of commerce to be sued almost anywhere. Those statutes were a progressive reform in response to the fact that far flung corporations could do harm in a venue without ever being present in that venue. This caused people who were harmed to have to sue them in the forum where the corporations were incorporated, which could be a huge pain to someone on the other coast. The modern view is that you should be suable where you are, or where you caused the harm. That seems like a sensible rule to me. It causes problems with media cases because the harm is everywhere they broadcast, and with class actions because it allows the plaintiffs' lawyers to choose essentially anywhere.
Chilling. We want to chill bad behavior like publishing secret sex tapes and pollution. So that isn't what people mean by a chilling effect. What they mean is that we don't want to limit legitimate behavior that comes close to things that can be sued over. This case isn't a good case for that worry, because Gawker's actions are among the type of thing we clearly don't want to allow. (This point has been well covered in the feminist analysis of revenge releases of private nude pics, or in peeping tom crimes). The complaint among media corporations seems to be that they don't want to have to have their legal department go over every release. That is true, but I'm unsympathetic in this case, because it is exactly the type of thing that is clearly out of bounds and that therefore you shouldn't even need legal review for.
Giant windfall awards can seem scary. But they aren't just scary for media companies, they are scary for everyone. The obvious solution would be some sort of cap on non-economic damages. That generally hasn't been considered a good solution for reasons that I have never fully grasped. It may have to do with incentives for lawyers to take expensive to litigate cases with medium level direct damages.
Lawsuits are expensive to defend for everyone. I have no idea how to deal with that well. Loser pays partially fixes the problem in other countries, though it stacks the deck in favor of large corporations in all but the clearest of cases unless poor people can get financial backing from someone else in the fairly good but not slam dunk cases.
Rich third parties funding legitimate cases. These seems like the least problematic of the things mentioned. Rich third parties funding illegitimate cases is a different issue, but non pertinent to the Gawker case. Third party funding is a huge part of how all sorts of big cases get dealt with. If you don't allow it, you get rid of almost all of what we normally think of as public interest law. Disclosure seems the key to keeping it from corrupting the system. There don't seem to be disclosure requirements and I'm not at all sure why. Unless there is some sort of good argument against disclosure that I haven't heard of, I'd be all for it.
So after thinking it through, I was wrong. The articles do point to serious problems in our legal system, just not special problems with media companies and not just affecting freedom of the press. I've become so used to people dismissing tort reform that my "this is nothing different" response was correct, but it only showed that I have become used to the abysmal state of modern law.
2As far as I can tell, this case doesn't actually involve forum shopping. Filing in the home county of plaintiff's residence is pretty much the definition of routine non-forum shopping. Hulk Hogan appears to live in the filing forum, so absent other evidence I don't see forum shopping here.