Bark Bark Woof Woof https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com The Blog of Mustang Bobby Sun, 18 Nov 2018 11:35:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 90241377 Sunday Reading https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/sunday-reading-733/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/sunday-reading-733/#comments Sun, 18 Nov 2018 11:35:18 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53398 A Small, Sure Sign of Hope — Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker on how Lucy McBath’s win in the Georgia 6th is a harbinger.

Three years ago, HBO aired a documentary called “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets,” which examined the tortured aftermath of the death of Jordan Davis, a seventeen-year-old boy who was shot as he sat in an S.U.V. parked at a Florida gas station. At the start of the film, you see Lucy McBath, Davis’s mother, sitting at a table, depleted, telling how she came to name her son after the Biblical River Jordan. “I wanted to name him something that would symbolize the crossing over and a new beginning,” she says. Later, you see a more resolute McBath seated in a Senate hearing room with Sybrina Fulton—whose son Trayvon Martin was also shot to death at the age of seventeen—giving testimony about Stand Your Ground laws and their impact on her son’s death.

The two moments are as apt an encapsulation as you’ll find of the significance of McBath’s victory last week in the race for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, situated just north of Atlanta. McBath, a Democrat who ran on a platform of growing the economy, funding education, and addressing climate change, was inescapably wed in the public’s mind to the issue of gun reform. Her despair and her resolve are equal parts of her political identity. She narrowly defeated the Republican incumbent, Karen Handel, in a race that remained somewhat low-profile among the prognostications about which districts the Democrats might flip in the midterms. Last year, the Democrat Jon Ossoff gained national attention in his bid to win the seat, which opened after the Republican Tom Price left it for what turned out to be a short stint as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration. Ossoff lost to Handel in a runoff, by less than four percentage points, with 48.1 per cent of the vote. A measure of the skepticism about McBath’s chances could be seen in the fact that, before last Tuesday, the race was being referred to in some quarters as the “Ossoff race without Ossoff.”

McBath’s victory reflects several trends: the inroads that Democrats are making in Republican suburban districts that Trump’s tax cuts and border-fearmongering were supposed to secure, the record number of women elected to public office in the face of the mainline misogyny that is a feature of the Trump era, and the fading ability of gun-rights appeals to safeguard Republican districts. It is also worth noting that nine new African-American candidates were elected to Congress in the midterms—all of them Democrats, five of them women—and that, once all the outstanding races are called, will likely bring the ranks of the Congressional Black Caucus to a record fifty-six members. All but two of them are in the House, and the majority of those members won election in majority-minority districts. The nine incoming representatives, however, were all elected in largely white districts—a fact that may complicate the calculations of the caucus and the voting behavior of its members. McBath will be the first African-American to represent her district.

There are other, subtler dynamics at play in the Georgia Sixth results. The fight over Georgia’s gubernatorial race, between the Democrat Stacey Abrams and the Republican Brian Kemp, who, until last week, served as Georgia’s secretary of state, focussed on Kemp’s record of voter-roll purges and voter suppression. Many elections come down to turnout; in Georgia, the question was how many potential voters would be turned away. Kemp, however, was just following a playbook pioneered by Handel, who preceded him as secretary of state, serving from 2007 to 2010. Early in the 2008 Presidential campaign, when it was optimistically suggested that Barack Obama’s candidacy might put Georgia in play for the Democrats, Handel engineered a purge in which some four thousand eligible voters were flagged for removal for being “non-citizens.” (At the time, I was teaching at Spelman College, and this happened to one of my students. It took, in part, the intervention of a local CNN station to get her registered; a panel of federal judges overturned Handel’s order.) The gerrymandered redistricting in the Republican-controlled state legislature was also intended to thwart Democrats.

In a sense, the race in Georgia’s Sixth District was a small-scale version of the governor’s race. McBath’s results—she won 50.5 per cent of the vote—are particularly notable, given that black voters make up roughly a third of the electorate in the state but only thirteen per cent in the district. Ossoff ran in 2017 on a platform that was similar to McBath’s on issues such as climate change, the economy, and Medicaid. Ossoff also campaigned against subsidies that made it easier for foreign airlines to compete in the United States, recognizing that Delta Air Lines is headquartered in Atlanta, and that voters employed at the nearby Hartsfield-Jackson airport were affected by the issue. (McBath worked for Delta for thirty years.) The 2017 race became the most expensive House contest ever, costing some fifty-five million dollars. McBath’s campaign spent $1.2 million, but she improved on Ossoff’s margin by more than two points.

There are a number of ways to look at this outcome. The district, despite its history as a home of G.O.P. stalwarts—it was Newt Gingrich’s seat for twenty years—was trending toward the Democrats. In 2000, George W. Bush beat Al Gore by thirty-six points there. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s margin of victory was twenty-three points. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by just a single point. It is sixteen months further into the Trump era than when Ossoff ran, and it is entirely possible that the President has worn out the grace period that moderate voters were inclined to give him last year. But, crucially, McBath represents a movement. Her son was shot by a white man named Michael Dunn, following a dispute over playing loud music, on November 23, 2012. Trayvon Martin had been shot nine months earlier, as he walked, unarmed, through a gated community where he was staying. Both deaths occurred in Florida and became central to the debate over the so-called Stand Your Ground gun laws in that state. George Zimmerman was acquitted in Martin’s death; Dunn, in a second trial, was sentenced to life without parole. The film “3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets” follows McBath and her ex-husband, Ron Davis, as they pursued justice for their son over two trials. (They requested that the prosecutors not seek the death penalty.)

When I interviewed them after a screening of the film, at the Schomburg Center, in Harlem, McBath emphasized the extent to which she had channelled her sorrow over her son’s death into action with the groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. McBath served as the national spokesperson for both organizations and testified on the dangers of Stand Your Ground laws before the Florida, Georgia, and Nevada state legislatures. In 2016, McBath, with Sybrina Fulton and seven other women who had lost children, most of them to gun violence, appeared in support of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, under the banner of the Mothers of the Movement. McBath’s campaign Web site carefully noted that she supports “2nd Amendment rights of Georgians,” but she also promised to “push for implementing background checks for all firearm purchases; raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 years of age; working to defeat conceal carry reciprocity measures; and introducing legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other criminals.”

McBath was elected nine months after seventeen people were shot to death at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, and a little more than a week after eleven people were killed in the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, and two were murdered in a Kentucky supermarket. She was also elected almost exactly six years after her own son died. The plague of gun violence and the intransigence of the gun lobby in the face of it have often seemed like an unbreakable stalemate. McBath’s election is a small, sure sign of hope.

Speaking of Oz — Julia Baird in the New York Times on how hard it is to speak Australian.

SYDNEY, Australia — Running out of gas is one of the most foolish things you can do, but I was guilty of it several times when I was a lean-living university student. That changed, though, when Hugh Jackman was hired as the attendant at my local gas station. He was older than me, clean-cut and hot, an improbably nice star of local high school musicals who was known to date unassuming women. I tried not to stumble over my feet — or, say, into his arms — as he greeted me with a big grin when my Volkswagen Beetle sputtered in: “Jules!”

That year, I never ran out of gas.

Today, Mr. Jackman, the star of films like “Wolverine” and “Les Misérables,” is widely adored in Australia, even by those who never saw him behind a cash register. He holds a special place in Australian hearts because international success has not made him pretentious. Most crucially, his accent is still intact.

Australians have a strong, often irrational suspicion of people who leave the country, succeed and change. Even Paul Hogan, the comedian and actor who played that most iconic Australian caricature, Crocodile Dundee, belied his working-class image after he found global stardom and dumped his wife for his more glamorous — and American — co-star. Occasional grumbling is heard about the model Elle Macpherson or the singer Kylie Minogue, both of whom have acquired “global” accents.

By shifting accents, Australian expatriates are seen to be shifting class and status, indicating a sense of superiority to those who remain in Australia. The quickly acquired faux-British accent in particular has been associated with pretension, or a snootiness that reveals desperation to cover a humble antipodean past, to disown a sunburned, bikini-clad family. Part of our fight against a long-held cultural cringe has been the insistence that we do not need to erase our accents to, say, host a TV show or radio program.

The problem is, sometimes we do need to adapt the way we speak. When I moved to Manhattan in 2006 to work at a newsmagazine, my accent became a hurdle. “We are cursed by a common language,” my editor was fond of telling me, a line he ascribed to some British statesman, who doubtless looked down his pince-nez at his convict-descended cousins. After he told me that he could not understand 80 percent of what I was saying, I began to emphasize my R’s and slow my speech.

We Australians are used to people being rude about the way we talk. Winston Churchill was particularly cruel about our accent. He described it as “the most brutal maltreatment that has ever been inflicted on the mother-tongue of the great English-speaking nations.” At best it’s called cute; at worst it’s dismissed as incomprehensible.

But given that it is so hard to mimic, perhaps we should be proud of its uniqueness.

What Americans — and, to a lesser extent, the British — fail to recognize is that as much as they mock us, they are almost constitutionally incapable of imitating the Australian accent, no matter how often they repeat “G’day, mate!” Even the great Meryl Streep failed to capture it when she portrayed Lindy Chamberlain in the 1988 movie “Evil Angels,” about a woman whose baby is killed in the Australian outback. The line remains famous for its melodrama — “The dingo’s got my bay-bee!” — but in Australia it’s also famous as a reminder that even Hollywood’s greatest stars cannot master our way of speaking.

Foreign media’s inability to capture how Australians really talk has been back in the news recently, thanks to the new season of the American sitcom “The Good Place,” part of which takes place in Sydney. On social media and in newspapers, Australians are baffled — if not outraged — by hearing American actors mock and mangle the way we speak. This has revived a long-held resentment about the fact that we so often appear as caricatures, fools or comic figures onscreen, with failed attempts to capture our accents that make us seem like bigger idiots.

Why are we so hard to imitate? Maybe part of it is that there’s something deeply laid back about the Australian accent. One theory suggests that this is because of our habitat: Given the swarms of flies buzzing around the outback, the legend goes, we developed a pattern of speech that would involve only opening our mouths slightly for fear of letting in insects. That’s probably not true, but we can conduct entire conversations while barely moving our lips.

In recent years, another startling theory emerged: Drunken convicts are to blame. Dean Frenkel, a lecturer in public speaking and communications at Victoria University in Melbourne, wrote in 2015: “Our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions unknowingly added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns. For the past two centuries, from generation to generation, drunken Aussie-speak continues to be taught by sober parents to their children.” A horde of linguists dismissed this, but the theory, predictably, got coverage around the world — it’s what people want to think about Australia.

Professor Frenkel is right that our speech is lazy. He thinks we use only two-thirds of our articulator muscles. We replace T with D (“impordant”) and drop I’s (Austraya) or make them into oi’s (roight!). But we also add vowels in surprising places (future becomes fee-yu-cha).

But the people best placed to mock Australian accents are Australians. Self-parody is a national sport. On Twitter, we lampoon our country by calling it #Straya. We shorten “Good on you” to “onya” and we stretch out the greeting “mate” to “maaaaaaaate,” the length depending on the depth of affection and time of day. These kinds of joyous subtleties are lost on outsiders, though. And that’s what American television and movie producers need to understand. Next time, hire Australian actors to do Australian accents. Like, say, my mate Wolverine.

Doonesbury — Phoning it in.

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A Little Night Music https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2934/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2934/#respond Sat, 17 Nov 2018 23:30:55 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53396

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Random Youtubery https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/random-youtubery-141/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/random-youtubery-141/#comments Sat, 17 Nov 2018 12:42:27 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53394 The lap of luxury, London to Singapore.

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A Little Night Music https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2933/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2933/#respond Sat, 17 Nov 2018 00:41:05 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53392

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Of Course He Did https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/of-course-he-did-2/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/of-course-he-did-2/#respond Fri, 16 Nov 2018 08:55:15 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53388 Trump basically says he fired Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to stop the Mueller investigation.  Via the Daily Beast.

There has been a persistent disbelief among many observers throughout the Trump presidency that the underlying reality is as bad as it appears on the surface. But the scumminess of the arrangement is increasingly naked. Here, lying about in plain  sight, is Trump’s response yesterday to a question from the conservative Daily Caller, which asked, “Could you tell us where your thinking is currently on the attorney general position? I know you’re happy with Matthew Whitaker, do you have any names? Chris Christie?”

In response Trump embarked on a rant about the Mueller investigation:

I knew [Whitaker] only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions. And, um, you know, look, as far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had.

It’s something that should have never been brought. It’s an illegal investigation. And you know, it’s very interesting because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, well, Mueller’s not Senate confirmed.

Trump is all but confessing that he hired Whitaker to stop the “illegal” Mueller probe.

And he will deny he’s ever said any such thing, the same way he told Fox News in October that he knew Matthew Whitaker and three weeks later said he’d never met the guy.

Frankly I don’t think Trump cares what other people may take away from what he says, whether it’s a confession or an admittance; he says whatever works in the moment to make himself look — in his mind — like he’s the victim.

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With Friends Like These https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/with-friends-like-these-10/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/with-friends-like-these-10/#comments Fri, 16 Nov 2018 08:35:39 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53386 According to the Daily Beast, being a fawning suck-up to Trump doesn’t guarantee he’ll return the favor.

Trump’s close relationship—on air and off—with Sean Hannity hasn’t stopped the president from mocking the Fox News star behind his back for being such a suck-up, according to three sources who have independently heard this mockery. These sources asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss private conversations with the president, and in one case also to avoid incurring the ire of Hannity, whom they called a “perfectly nice guy.”

Trump’s many radio and TV interviews, always touted as “exclusives” and rarely making any news, have been widely derided by media critics and political observers as simpering propaganda. And the president himself, a man famous for demanding relentless validation and unwavering loyalty, feels the same way.

Trump has repeatedly—and sometimes for a sustained period of time—made fun of Hannity’s interviewing skills, usually zeroing in on the low-quality laziness of the host’s questions, the three people with direct knowledge tell The Daily Beast.

“It’s like he’s not even trying,” Trump has said, one source recalled, right before the president launched into a rough imitation of Hannity’s voice and mannerisms to complain that the questions about how “great I am” give him nothing to work or have fun with.

No real surprise here; Trump doesn’t have any real friends other than that swell guy he sees in the mirror.  It’s pretty obvious that he treats even the members of his own family as if they were partners in a business deal.

Not that it matters, but it will be a major dose of schadenfreude when the wheels finally come off Trump’s wagon and he’s either indicted or carted off under sedation and no one will stand by him.  He’ll be all alone and railing against how everyone has turned against him.  Well, boo-hoo.

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A Little Night Music https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2932/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2932/#respond Thu, 15 Nov 2018 23:15:04 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53383 R.I.P. Roy Clark.

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Too Clever https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/too-clever/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/too-clever/#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2018 08:29:59 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53378 Republicans seem to live for conspiracy theories, and the loopier the better.  Right now Florida and a bunch of other states are going through the final stages of counting very close races (see below), but for all the hard work and glitches that any large operation is heir to, the GOP thinks it all comes down to a very clever master plan dreamed up by George Soros and a bunch of Hollywood liberals: make the races so close that recounts are necessary and then swoop in and snatch the victory!

Steve M:

The governor’s race and Senate race in Florida are both very close. So is the governor’s race in Georgia. The Senate race in Texas was fairly close. And hey, you know what other races were close? The presidential races in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in 2016.

The right-wing theory of Democratic voter fraud is this: Democrats cheat in such a sophisticated way that they almost win many key races on Election Night, and then they manipulate the vote count so they seize the lead some of the time. What a skilled set of crooks Democrats are! Dems could simply cook the books on Election Day or earlier, but I guess they’d rather do part of the work then and then manipulate the vote almost successfully afterward, when everyone’s paying attention. Because that’s how professional election thieves roll.

This is the dumbest conspiracy theory about Democrats since the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. You remember that conspiracy: Democrats had a sexual assault accusation against Kavanaugh all teed up, but deliberately held it until after the hearings were over, presumably because they wanted it to look suspicious and desperate. Holding back on the allegation for months was all part of Democrats’ sinister plan, the fiendish brilliance of which became clear when Kavanaugh was confirmed anyway.

It didn’t seem possible that Democrats could top that, but letting Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Bill Nelson fall behind and then scrounging up probably not enough fake votes for them is even cleverer, isn’t it?

I’m sorry; I’ve been a registered Democrat for fifty years and I have yet to meet anyone in the party who is that clever.

Well, as I noted the other day, if you’re really going to steal an election, the way to do it is to commit such massive and well-hidden fraud that there would be no question about the outcome.  To rig it for a cliffhanger makes no sense.  But in the Republicans’ fevered imagination, that’s just how the Democrats wanted it to go so that when there was a recount, there would be all this drama and confusion and then the cheaters could slip in the few extra votes so the Democrat wins.  (Okay, that doesn’t even make sense to me, and I write fiction as a side gig.)

In reality, the whole thing plays to the GOP and right wing’s need to play the victim.  They’re always the ones being cheated, even when they win.  Trump will never get over Hillary Clinton getting more votes than he did in the popular tally, and to this day he still acts as if it’s late October 2016 and the troops have to be rallied.  White men were once in charge but now they have to share and it’s SO UNFAIR.  That and they know somehow, somewhere in what’s left of any moral compass they still have, they can only win by cheating or demonizing, and it eats away at them.  But hypocrisy and hubris are very powerful enablers, and as long as they can get away with it — and as long as there’s a gullible and weak-willed base to lap it up — they will keep doing it.

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Still Rolling In https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/still-rolling-in/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/still-rolling-in/#respond Thu, 15 Nov 2018 08:09:25 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53376 The results keep coming in.

Republican Jeff Denham has conceded to Democrat Josh Harder in California’s 10th District.

[…]

Blue America candidate Katie Porter pulled ahead of Mimi Walters in California’s 45th district by 3,797 votes as of the latest update. Dave Wasserman projects her the winner after this latest update.

In California’s 39th district, Gil Cisneros is nipping at Republican Young Kim’s heels, with just 122 votes separating the two. Kim is still leading, but that will probably change tomorrow.

In New Jersey, Democrat Andy Kim has been declared the winner over Tom MacArthur, architect of the Trumpcare efforts in 2017.

Meanwhile, over in Utah, Mia Love is not happy with the way results are coming in for her, so she is doing what Republicans do best: Trying to cheat.. TPM reports:

Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love sued Wednesday to halt vote counting in the Utah race where she is narrowly trailing her Democratic challenger.

Love’s campaign said in a lawsuit Salt Lake County clerk isn’t allowing poll-watchers to challenge findings during the verification process for mail-in ballots. Voting is done primarily by mail in Utah.

Note that Love is only suing in Salt Lake County, where there are still many outstanding votes and where her challenger, Ben McAdams, is leading by a narrow margin.

Here in Florida, well, things were getting a little overheated.  Literally.

Palm Beach County has managed to recount about 175,000 early votes affected by a machine malfunction, but the county is still far behind schedule to finish recounts in the races for U.S. Senate, governor and commissioner of agriculture and consumer services.

On Wednesday, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said her staff had worked through the night to recount early votes after ballot-counting machines overheated Tuesday and gave incorrect vote totals. The county brought in mechanics to repair the machines on Tuesday, and Bucher said the equipment had worked well overnight.

But Bucher said she wasn’t sure whether elections staff would be able to finish recounting votes cast in the Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline set by the state.

Gov. Scott has recused himself from the final voting results, but it didn’t stop him from going to Washington to participate in freshman orientation.  Counting those chickens, eh, Rick?

Ah, democracy.

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A Little Night Music https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2931/ https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/2018/11/a-little-night-music-2931/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 23:01:35 +0000 https://barkbarkwoofwoof.com/?p=53374

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