Category Archives: Arts -Visual

Harvard, Affirmative Action, “Reparations,” & Me

An earlier exposés of legacy preference/WASP affirmative action, from 2006.

One of the most shopworn and least shocking of discoveries about USA higher education Is that of Ivy League “affirmative action” (aka preferential admissions) for the non-genius children of wealthy donors or powerful alumni (mainly WASPS). This “exposé” (which, to be fair, is also found at many other non-ivy schools) has been around about a century or so, and has since been repeatedly documented by many scholars, novelists, biographers, pretend radicals — and news editors who have not read much or got out enough.

Someone fairly high up on the editorial ladder at The Guardian — normally relatively up to date on such matters— evidently fits into one of these dim categories. At least they thought the scandal of legacy preference needed to be disclosed back in the unenlightened times of fourteen months ago, and then worth repeating, at least online, in January 2023. Continue reading Harvard, Affirmative Action, “Reparations,” & Me

Monday, Monday — Can’t Trust That Day! The Supreme Court Will Be Back

In a recent speech at Independence Hall, President Biden called on Americans to stand against an assault on democracy — the ongoing assault waged by insurrectionists and would-be patriots, by election deniers and other extremists. “We are not powerless in the face of these threats,” he insisted. “We are not bystanders.”

Yet that role — bystander — is exactly the one Mr. Biden seems to have assigned himself when it comes to the Supreme Court, which is posing a more profound challenge to the American system of self-government than any violent mob has managed.

The court’s conservative justices have issued a run of rulings that make it harder for many Americans, particularly citizens of color, to vote; make it easier for partisans to grab power by distorting the shape of legislative districts; and make it nearly impossible to counter the corrupting influence of money in politics. This is only a partial list — and is, most likely, only the beginning.

In the term that starts on Oct. 3, the conservative bloc, six justices strong and feeling its oats, will decide whether an Alabama congressional map discriminates against Black voters and will consider a novel theory that state legislatures should have a free hand, unconstrained by state courts, in setting rules for federal elections.

After the court, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, Mr. Biden stood in the White House and decried the decision as “the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law.” He hit the same refrain the next week, warning that an “extremist court” was “committed to moving America backwards.”

. . . While Mr. Biden promises to “build back better,” the court’s majority is a demolition crew, razing or gutting legislative landmarks — the Voting Rights Act, the Clean Air Act — by means of sweeping opinions. . . . [They are ] the defining project of the court’s conservatives: to lay waste to the welfare state and the administrative state, the civil rights revolution, the underpinnings of an accountable, workable government.

In Philadelphia and on the hustings, Mr. Biden has begun to acknowledge the tribal warfare that consumes this country. Yet the Roberts court is both a product and a sponsor of that conflict, and the president should say so. He needs to “take the country to school,” as Felix Frankfurter, who would later become a Supreme Court justice himself, urged Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, when another ideologically driven court had put democracy on the docket.

. . . In a similar spirit, Mr. Biden should view adverse rulings as opportunities to deliver his own dissents — to expose the designs of majority opinions, demystify them, debunk them, show whose interests they serve and whose they do not, and provide a countervailing view of the Constitution.

– Historian Jeff Shesol, in the New York Times

But Tuesday, Tuesday — And Soon  Tuesday will Be Voting Day . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Choice — No! But Guns Everywhere, Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

The Leak That’s Bleeding Women All Across The Map

 

 

 

Oh— Did We Forget to Mention —??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Lesson – Time to Re-Learn It . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This “Horton” Today Is Listening to — Who???

Dark Money, Babe — Definitely Not To You!

 

 

 

 

Quote of the Day — Lincoln & Emancipation: The First Version

On this day [Sept. 22] in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a document that put the Confederacy on notice of his intention to free their slaves. They had until January 1, he said, to lay down their arms; after that, any slave within a rebelling state would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

Although he didn’t make a point of it, his proclamation — both this preliminary one, and the official one he made at the first of the new year, when the deadline arrived — did not free all slaves; those living in border states, for example, would remain enslaved. Nor did Lincoln have, of course, any way to actually enforce a liberated slave’s freedom; other than promising to no longer aid in the capture of fleeing slaves, his promised emancipation relied entirely on the Union eventually winning the war.

But continuing to fight was exactly what Lincoln hoped to avoid with his announcement. Continue reading Quote of the Day — Lincoln & Emancipation: The First Version

On the Brink of Autumn: Quote of the Season

 

Joe Biden, 09/15/2022, United We Stand Summit, at the White House:

George Floyd mural, Minneapolis

“Too much hate that’s fueled extremist violence [has] been allowed to fester and grow.

Heather Heyer, spontaneous memorial, Charlottesville

You know, as a result, our very own intelligence agencies — our own intelligence agencies in the United States of America, have determined that domestic terrorism rooted in white supremacy is the greatest terrorist threat to our Homeland today.

I’ve been around a while.I never thought I’d hear that or say that.

Enough.”

Hunter Biden’s Laptop

From New York Magazine — Sept. 12, 2022

The Sordid Saga of Hunter Biden’s Laptop

The most invasive data breach imaginable is a political scandal Democrats can’t just wish away.


Imagine the entirety of your digital existence
plotted out before you: your accounts and passwords; your avatars; your contacts; every exchange of written dialogue; the full history of your logged interests, banal and forgettable and closely held; the note where you scrawled once-urgent word fragments that now make zero sense to you; the rabbit holes you fell down or the minor obsession or the thing that connected to the thing that led you to decide to do another thing that became a part of a part of a part of who you are, or a part of who you are to some people, or a part of who you are only to yourself, barely recognizable in the light of day. Your selfies. Your sexts. Your emails. Your calendar. Your to-do list. Your playlists. Your tabs.

Now imagine that you are both the son of a man running for president and a lawyer and lobbyist accustomed to mixing with powerful people and doing business overseas premised on your proximity to those powerful people, and that you are in the throes of a divorce and a midlife catastrophe brought on by the early death of your older brother and that, in your distortion field of grief, on a hell-bent drug-and-alcohol binge, you have been making even more horrible choices, taking up with your brother’s widow and, while in considerable financial debt, hiring prostitutes and zoning out with camgirls and staying awake for days at a time on crack cocaine and generally hurting everyone in your life who is trying to help you with your cruel and idiotic behavior.

And imagine that, in the middle of all of this, you lose control of 217 gigabytes of your personal data: videos in which you have sex; videos in which you smoke crack; bleary-eyed selfies; selfies that document your in-progress dental work; your bank statements; your Venmo transactions; your business emails; your toxic rants at family members; analysis from your psychiatrist; your porn searches; your Social Security number; explicit photos of the many women passing through your bedrooms, photos of your kids, of your father, of life and death, despair and boredom.

Imagine revealing this kaleidoscopic archive of all your different selves to anyone else. Now imagine it’s not just anyone but the same political opposition that has already sought to destroy your father’s candidacy by improperly pressuring a foreign leader to offer up dirt about your (sketchy, for sure) business dealings. Imagine, in a country with toxic and broken politics, how explosive this collection of data might appear to your enemies in the days leading up to a presidential election, and how valuable it might become after their defeat, as they seek to overturn and then undermine the results. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call this nebulous cloud of data a “laptop.”

It is hard to think of a single living individual who has experienced as total an annihilation of digital privacy since our devices became extensions of our consciousness. A suite of executives and thousands of employees were victimized by the Sony hack. In the iCloud hack known as “the Fappening,” nude photos of dozens of celebrities ended up on Reddit and 4chan. The 2016 hack of DNC servers and John Podesta’s Gmail exposed the private communications of a major political party. But in terms of the vastness of the data breach, the narrowness of its target, and its capacity to be deployed as a political weapon, none of those compare to the exposure of Hunter Biden’s entire virtual life.

Hidden inside the laptop, according to those (almost exclusively on the right) who have reviewed the data or who trust the word of those who claim they have, is a corruption scandal that implicates not just Hunter but other members of the Biden family, including the president. The laptop details Hunter’s involvement with a Ukrainian natural-gas producer that paid him millions of dollars to serve on its board — the relationship at the center of Donald Trump’s first impeachment. It shows how a Chinese energy company directed millions of dollars in consulting fees to Hunter and his uncle. It reveals White House meetings and slush-fund dinners and wheeling and dealing, from Romania to Monte Carlo to Cafe Milano. Most important, these people claim the laptop contains proof that, despite his denials, Joe Biden — allegedly referred to in emails as “the big guy” — was fully aware of, and looking to profit from, his son’s business activities.

The most serious allegations remain unproved. The White House has whistled past the issue, with ritual “no comments” on the occasions it is questioned about matters related to the laptop. (In response to a request from New York, a White House spokesperson said, “You can say the White House declined to comment for the story.”) Without a counterargument from the White House or the Biden family, and with mainstream political reporters only now trying to catch up to the tabloid coverage and the ideologically motivated actors who have been advancing the story, Democrats in Washington simply don’t know what to say. There has been no penalty for silence while they’ve been in power, just the vague assumption that it does seem like there’s something to the story, if only anyone credible would bother to check it out.

But the present stalemate, in which one side treats the subject with polite indifference while the other side foments and fundraises off it, is unsustainable. Maybe it will be broken by the Justice Department, which is reported to be conducting a wide-ranging criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, examining whether he violated various tax, money-laundering, and lobbying-disclosure laws. In July, CNN reported that the Justice Department had “debated the strength of the case for months,” as it faced an unofficial September deadline to file charges ahead of the midterm election. Biden paid off a large tax liability with the help of a loan from an entertainment attorney (one of at least three lawyers on his team) in an apparent attempt to head off a potential indictment.

Even if the DOJ doesn’t bring charges against Hunter, Republicans may gain control of at least one chamber of Congress — and, with it, subpoena power — in November. If they do, they have vowed to start their own investigations, which would lead to months or years of manufactured drama. (The laptop has already been entered into the Congressional Record on a motion by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz.)

When you look at it as merely a political object, the laptop may not seem all that remarkable. But the implications of what happened to Hunter Biden go far beyond politics. Whether or not he turns out to be the perpetrator of a crime, he is certainly the victim of a violation — an invasion of privacy that is staggering in its totality. Even the people who are responsible for disseminating the laptop admit that, on a human level, what happened to Hunter is horrifying. “A lot of stuff I do, I don’t feel great about,” says one of them, Steve Bannon. “But we’re in a war.”

[NOTE: there’s about 10,000 more words of this story, much more than would fit here. It detais among other things the many copies and alterations that have been made to the purported laptop, and the manic marathon of rightwing efforts to get it into the center of public attention. They see it as the keystone of a Trumpist tower of scandal that, some believe, would fall on and bury Joe Biden.

But the chain of custody and the handling of its files are likely to be a nightmare for actual prosecutors (and a billing goldmine for defense attorneys). One evidence specialist said the laptop hard drive was like a crime scene which police had left littered with burger wrappers. Not a good look in a real court.

But meantime, we’ll close with the article’s last glimpse of Hunter, post-rehab, married again, parenting a toddler and keeping busy with a seemingly very profitable business selling his original paintings and other artwork.

Hunter Biden, a hot-selling artist?

Well, why not? Picasso was a dissolute scoundrel too; among other greats who filled up canvases. And Gauguin, as the The New York Times art critic pointed out, was a stockbroker. If you don’t believe Biden’s work is real, join the club . . . .

New York: As for Hunter, the oldest living child of the president now resides in Malibu, at the top of a hill, in a place of sublime beauty. He lives in a sunlit home of modest size and modern style. The Secret Service, ever hovering, has a house next door.

[NOTE: The three paintings here were part of Biden’s one-man show in New York City last year.]

He tries to dodge the paparazzi, not always successfully. He looks different today, at 52, than the man on the laptop. His face is fuller. His teeth, once rotting and crooked, have been restored to gleaming condition by a Manhattan cosmetic dentist (at a cost of $69,977, according to records cited in Laptop From Hell).

He has given up practicing law as he awaits a long-delayed decision from the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, who has continued the probe of his finances. He spends his days making art in his garage. Last year, he had shows in New York and Los Angeles. (Several pieces sold at a reported price of $75,000 each to undisclosed buyers.) He follows the work of the researchers closely. At first he thought Trump’s defeat might provide a definite end point to his troubles, that his father’s adversaries might move on to other obsessions. Like so many Americans, he has since learned his hopes were misguided.

He deals with his violation in his own way. He paints still lifes of flowers; portraits of Catholic martyrs; paintings of birds done in alcohol ink, which creates a ghostly effect.
In one series, according to someone who has seen them, Biden has made a number of self-portraits, based on the photos in the tabloids, the ones that show him in the depths of his despair. . . .