Monday, October 26, 2020

'Boom!' Charlie Cook predicts a Biden win

Charlie Cook

Folks, the 2016 pollsters weren't all that off-key, said Charlie Cook on Sunday at a Zoom gathering of the Adult Forum at St. John's Episcopal Church-Lafayette Square. (Yes, the same church where Trump thumped or thumbed or trummed or trumped the Bible or whatever he did to it upside down on June 1.) 

What the pollsters missed in 2016 was the Electoral College count, but there's no mistaking that Joe Biden is a lot more likeable than Hillary Clinton was, and voters this year are weary of Donald Trump, evidenced by his falling poll numbers which match his falling fundraising numbers, covid and the first debate and "boom!"  

Trump is done and fried.  

All his lies before the first debate and his performance that night turned off the few remaining undecided voters, said Mr. Cook.

After the first debate, the fence sitters "turned down the volume" and "boom! I don't think they are hearing a word he's saying now," Mr. Cook said. 

It's a "totally different dynamic" this year compared to 2016.  What we have now is "an up or down vote on the incumbent," absent in 2016 which saw a late breaking vote for Trump. His unfavorable ratings then were matched by Hillary's, both candidates' ratings, "way upside down."  

Many voters didn't much like either person.

This year Joe Biden has positive ratings which exceed his negatives, while the opposite has always plagued Trump who has a 20% chance of winning the Electoral College.

Mr. Cook quoted a portion of the "unknowns" statement by Donald Rumsfeld (the second most remembered thing about him):

As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Biden has a 40% percent chance of a "skinny win" and a 40% chance of a "big win" if he wins five or six of the "big 6" (Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina) and a big get if he wins Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, or Texas.

Trump must win Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia to stay in office.

This year's turnout is "huge;" it's not "a close race," but whether the early voters are new voters or ones who would have voted anyway is not known...yet.

2020 may become a "wave" election, like those in 1964 and 1980, Mr. Cook said.

The 2016 pollsters may have leaned too heavily on the college-educated without adequate attention to the non-college-educated, Mr. Cook said, skewing the numbers, but pollsters have pretty well learned their lesson, and that is not happening this year.

One of Hillary's errors in 2016 was using the word "deplorables" which "cost her a half million to a million votes." 

Another "big mistake" she made was going to Arizona at the expense of Michigan and Wisconsin which she did not visit between Labor Day and Election Day.  (Hillary "has accumulated a lot of baggage over the years.")

She lost those states and, in case anyone has been napping four years, the election.

Mr. Cook quoted the Gallup Poll: Trump's first year in office earned him the lowest post-World War II job approval rating ever recorded for any president (by 10+ points! 38%) and his second year (40%), was the second lowest post-World War II rating.  (Jimmy Carter's third year in office takes that prize.) 

Trump's job current job approval average is 43% with an average over his term of 41%. He has hit as high as 49%, but his solid base of favorability by 40-42% of Americans will support him no matter what.  

History shows his present job approval rating is not enough to win a second term.

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Photo by Patricia Leslie

From St. John's:

 "Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report, political analyst for the National Journal Group, and a political analyst for NBC News. Founded in 1984, New York Times once described The Cook Political Report as, 'a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative' while CBS News’ Bob Schieffer called it, 'the bible of the political community.' Mr. Cook has appeared on numerous news shows and has served over the years as an Election Night analyst; since 1996, he has been part of the NBC News Election Night Decision Desk."

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Photo by Patricia Leslie 

Charlie Cook is one benefit of belonging to St. John's. Another one is a nice respite from the election this coming Sunday when CNN "royal commentator," Victoria Arbiter, will speak on The Windsors: A Chat about the British Royal Family.

Writer's note to the Cook Political Report:  You are wrong labeling Virginia as "likely Democrat" in the "2020 Electoral College Ratings." We are SOLID Democrat as evidenced by the 44 point spread Biden has over Trump in Fairfax County. Whither goest, thou, Fairfax County, there follows the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Ancient Egypt rests in Richmond

Bust of Neilos, God of the Nile, ca. AD 100-200. Neilos was the "divine personification" of the River Nile in ancient Greece and Rome, according to the label copy. This sculpture was found in the submerged city of Canopus. The Nile is vital to Egypt's welbeing, then and now/Maritime Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Osiris, 664-610 BC.  Here he wears the "white crown" of Upper Egypt, with a rearing cobra. Considered to be a god of the afterlife and "Lord of Life," he has a curved beard, a sign of divinity. The white dots are reflected lights/Egyptian Museum, Cairo/Photo by Patricia Leslie

At the entrance to the exhibition, Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Near the entrance of the exhibition is this statue of a Ptolemaic queen dressed as the goddess, Isis, whose styles and imagery reflect Egyptian and Greek influences, 2nd century BC/National Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Head of a woman, possibly Princess Berenike, II, c. 300-200 BC. She was the daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy III who died young and was deified. Found underwater at Canopus where she was honored at the temple alongside Osiris. The white lines in the photograph are reflections of lights/Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
In the galleries atTreasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie
We three kings and pharaohs... were found at Canopus/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Perhaps this is Emperor Hadrian (who just spied Cleopatra) and ruled Rome from AD 117-138 or perhaps he is a citizen who looked like Hadrian.  This bust was found on the banks of the Nile where stones were quarried for Hadrian's building projects in Italy. 
In AD 130 Hadrian visited Egypt where his lover, Antinous, drowned. He doesn't blink, then or now/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Temple Stele, c. 664-332, BC, limestone/

Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
In the galleries of Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Arsinoe II, c. 300-200 BC, an excellent example of Greco-Egyptian art/
Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The photograph by Christoph Gerigk of Arsinoe II being raised from discovery at Aboukir Bay in the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria
This is Horus protecting the pharaoh (between its talons), c. 350 BC. The Egyptians believed that every pharaoh was a reincarnation of Horus, the son of Osiris and Iris/Egyptian Museum, Cairo

In front of Horus is the smaller bronze statuette of a pharaoh c. 664-380 BC/Maritime Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Statue of Tawaret, 664-610 BC. Tawaret was the "Great One" whose scary looks help protect mothers and infants. She has the head and body of a hippopotamus, the limbs of a lion and the tale of a crocodile/Egyptian Museum, CairoPhoto by Patricia Leslie
 In the galleries of
Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Head of a priest, c. 332-330 BC. Found in an Alexandria harbor with features likely obliterated by hundreds of years spent under the sea. His bald head identifies him as a priest. If he were a little bit younger, I'd swear he was an old boyfriend/Martime Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Apis Bull, AD 117-138, The cult of the sacred bull probably rose in the city of Memphis where Alexander the Great offered sacrifices to Apis, 
but this statue was found at a temple in Alexandria/Greco-Roman Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Goblet, c. 1 - 200 CE, gilded silver/
Greco-Roman Museum, Alexandria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
In the galleries at Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie

It's only a three-hour drive* from D.C. to Richmond where you can see the notable Robert E. Lee Monument (if it's still standing; please see photos below) on Monument Avenue, and just a mile away, the fascinating "underwater" exhibition, Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities at the beautiful Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The Ptolemaic Egyptian exhibition is the East Coast premiere (and the last stop before returning home) of the presentation, spread over several large galleries and designed to make visitors experience the sensation of being underwater as they descend the stairway to the museum's lower level and enter the show. (Elevators are available.)

Scientists, archaeologists, researchers, and Egyptologists from the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology spent more than a decade recovering and studying the artifacts, almost 300 which are displayed; some, from Egyptian institutions.

IEASM, headed by Franck Goddio, its founder, subscribes to the standards of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. In its arsenal of treasured discoveries, Mr. Goddio has recovered about a dozen historic ships, some lying on the sea floor for hundreds of years, including Napoleon Bonaparte's Orient.

Researchers believe a natural event such an an earthquake, tsunami, or other cataclysmic force "sunk" the two ancient cities featured in Richmond: Canopus (which Herodotus called an ancient port) and Thonis-Heracleion (their Greek and Egyptian names are combined). Both places prospered in trade in and around Aboukir Bay on the Mediterranean Sea, and on the western edge of the Nile delta not far from Alexandria's center where 60 shipwrecks are recorded.

Research and excavated coins from the second century BC tell the story of Canopus whose buildings collapsed, and the city disappeared from view. A British air officer spotted the ruins from a plane in 1933, according to Wikipedia. 

The exhibition was curated by Mr. Goddio and organized by VFMA's Peter Schertz. Dominion Energy is the chief sponsor.

Who's not to be fascinated by Egypt? Curiosities of young and old alike never wane when it comes to the Land of the Nile, pharaohs, pyramids, cobras, and strange (at least, to Westerners) practices. It's a magical and alluring ancient civilization one thousand years old whose busts, statues, gods and goddesses, travelers can see nearby at little cost. 

It's a large show, beautifully designed to welcome visitors to "somewhere beneath the sea" to visit galleries on timed entrances which allow plenty of "elbow room" to see and practice social distancing.  

Make sure to get tickets before you go. The show was sold out the weekend I visited, and as time grows closer to the closing date on January 18, 2021, I do imagine the crowds will grow. Maps and an audioguide make the visit more rewarding.

Remember your mask! And, practice social distancing.

* I refuse to drive the crowded, the ugly I-95, and I take instead the beautiful two-lane highway 522 south from Culpeper to I-64 or turn off 522 and pick up Route 33 at Cuckoo, that's right, (my preferred route) into Richmond. The time from here to there is about the same as on I-95, but you "keep on truckin,'" as they say, without 95's "stop and go," but please, keep my secret highway "secret," or it won't be a secret. Thank you.

What: Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities

When: Now through Jan. 18, 2021; open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday nights, until 9 p.m.

Where: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

How much: Free general admission to the Museum. but a fee  for the exhibition, students (over age 7), $10 ; seniors over age 65, $16; adults, $20. Free for members, children age 6 and under, state employees, teachers, active-duty military members and their families.

Free virtual lectures:

Sun, Oct 25 | 2:30–3:30 pm
Re-Membering Osiris: Overcoming Death in Ancient Egypt
with Dr. Robert Ritner, Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago who will examine the underlying mythology, symbolism, and festival rituals for Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead, focusing on the rites of reanimation celebrated at the now sunken city of Canopus on the Mediterranean coast.

Sun, Nov 15 | 2:30–3:30 pm
The Maritime History & Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
with Dr. Pearce Paul Creasman, Archaeologist and Director of the American Center of Oriental Research who will provide a brief history and review of the field of study, discussing topics as diverse as early dynastic (ca. 3000 BC) boat burials found on land at Abydos, Ramesside (ca. 1200 BC) tax levies on imported ship cargoes, and underwater excavations of the Ptolemaic (ca. 300 BC) harbor at Alexandria and identifies possible avenues for future work.

Fri, Dec 11 | 6:30–7:30 pm
The Art of Object Conservation with Elsa Sanguoard, Senior Conservator, USS Monitor Center, Newport News, VA, in conversation with Ainslie Harrison, Associate Objects Conservator, VMFA, moderated by Dr. Peter Schertz, Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art, VMFA Join experts in the field of conservation for a discussion about the different techniques and strategies needed to stabilize objects for display.

Thu, Jan 14 | 6:30–7:30 pm
Cleopatra’s World: Greeks, Egyptians and the Fusion of Culture
with Dr. Jeremy McInerny, Professor of Classical Studies, UPENN who will examine how Egyptians and Greeks dealt with each other, how Egyptian culture changed as a result of the occupation by Greeks and how Greek culture was transformed as well.

Parking: The onsite parking deck is free to members and $6 for others. There are some free handicapped spaces.

For more information: 804-340-1400
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Robert E. Lee Monument, Richmond, Aug. 15, 2020/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Robert E. Lee Monument, Richmond, Aug. 15, 2020/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The base of the Robert E. Lee Monument, Aug. 15, 2020, Richmond/Photo by Patricia Leslie