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Varna in Violet

I went to see Hillary today in downtown Pittsburgh. If you follow my Twitter stream, you can get caught up with what happened. I’ll have more on it tomorrow. Tonight, I’m a little tired from standing for about 4 hours. If you have a chance to see her, you won’t regret it. She’s inspiring.

Tonight, I leave you with something really lovely and the ideal American-Russian collaboration. Joy Womack recently competed in the international ballet competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Varna is a biggy in the Ballet world. To perform well in Varna can have a profound effect on your career. Joy took silver. That’s fantastic considering how many dancers were competing.

Joy dances at the Kremlin Ballet in the heart of Moscow. She speaks fluent Russian and is a Bolshoi trained dancer. Her dance partner, Mikail Martynyuk, who did not compete, and her ballet teacher Zhanna (very long Russian last name I have to look up) went to Varna with her. Zhanna must be very proud of her student. And Misha is Joy’s rock. A talented dancer on his own, Misha is a tightly coiled spring and a sympathetic partner.

Here is their first round dance, the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. Relax and enjoy on a cloud of violet vapor.

Lighter Notes

Jaysus this week has been depressing. Let’s lighten things up around here.

For those of you who are Serial fans, Adnan Syed may be getting a new trial. Based on the evidence that was presented in a hearing a few months ago, his conviction was vacated. I think that’s a fancy way of saying, “technically, you’re innocent but we’re not done with you yet”. It’s hard to believe he could have been convicted in the first place based on such flimsy evidence -and that’s probably why I have never been selected as a juror. I’m just a f&*(ing pain in the ass with questions and not going along with the crowd. Anyway, hope he’s home soon.

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It’s hard to believe that anything about Hillary’s email can be considered light hearted but it always amuses me when I listen to Poltical Gabfest where David Plotz, John Dickerson and Emily Bazelon twist themselves into knots over them. You can hear the frustration in their voices over the 8 years of a very secret presidency where the press that elected Obama has been fed nothing but eensy-weensy nuggets of nothing. It’s a bit ironic that the only person who we have any tinge of scandal about is Hillary and that only because the Republicans have been relentless over Benghazi. I’m sure everyone who is anyone in Washington has a private email account where they squirrel things away and it probably comes with a lot of encryption and poison pills these days.

Bazelon was uncharacteristically flummoxed over the legal reasoning why James Comey did not pursue Hillary for “gross negligence”. But I think we can all logic this out.

1.) There was no criminal intent and no evidence of any legal wrongdoing.

2.) Comey, knowing he was on the hook to deliver the goods, gives an unprecedented press conference to discuss his findings and why he isn’t going to indict. It’s the best he can do for Gowdy’s committee. There’s nothing to charge her with but he can smear her for carelessness and make her behavior look negligent and inexcusable.

3.) The problem is it wasn’t even gross negligence, which is why he was trying so hard to signal this to Gowdy et al during the hearing. He was telling them that the attack ad he gave in the press conference was as far as he could legally go. As I understand it, the State Department’s probe is going to pick up where it left off before it was so rudely interrupted and the truth about the emails is going to come out. Comey’s pronouncements were purely subjective statements that indicated the borders of his abilities to prosecute. He can’t get her for doing anything illegally with criminal intent AND he can’t get her for “gross negligence” because it doesn’t even make that threshhold either.

There’s nothing there.

Emily Bazelon, legal scholar, is smart enough to figure this out so I don’t know why she sounds so mystified about it. It’s staring her right in the face but she doesn’t want to admit it. The Comey press conference was a political hit job. It was a PERSONAL email server with nothing important on it and while the State department might have rules and guidelines, no laws were broken and no one even knew it existed until Benghazi went looking for gotcha emails.

Why do we need to see what’s in her personal email anyway, Emily? I mean, if there’s nothing classified in them of any interest, not even for the Chinese, why do we need to be snooping? I don’t think Emily has a good reason for this except that Hillary made it harder for them to do it and avoided FOIA requests. But then, the whole administration has been avoiding FOIA requests and has zipped it good and have left the media kicking the curb. They didn’t get any juicy scandal to report about for 8 long years. Later on in the podcast, they discuss a White House released description of Obama’s evening routines and note that there’s not even mention of Michelle and the girls in it. There are, however, details of exactly how many salted almonds Obama eats each evening. It’s exactly 7. It’s hillarious how the White House jerks the media’s chains especially after they were so extremely helpful getting him elected in the first place.

We tried to warn them but did they listen?

At one point, Bazelon likens Hillary’s behavior to that of Chelsea Manning’s. This shows just how disconnected the media has become over Clinton’s email. There’s no comparison between Manning and Clinton. Manning, regardless of how you feel about her motives, intentionally broke the law and leaked undeniably classified information of national importance. It’s not like apples and oranges, it’s like apples and platypuses. They’re not even in the same kingdoms.

Give it up, guys. If you pursue this, it’s going to depress your ratings. I guarantee that the only people who want this to come up in a debate between Trump and Clinton are the diehard Trump supporters and a small group of Bernie supporters experiencing a temporary psychogenic fugue state. The rest of us won’t watch the debates or will switch them off the minute the emails come up. There’s a resistant conspiracy culture growing around this issue that’s unhealthy and counterproductive going into the general election. The media has great power but it hasn’t been very responsible lately.

Yes, Emily, John and David, I’m talking about YOU and your colleagues. Grow up already.

********************************************************

Joy Womack, principal dancer for the Kremlin Ballet, is going to the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Ballet fans know that Joy was one of the first American students to graduate from the Bolshoi ballet academy and then joined the Bolshoi itself as a soloist. But she never really got an opportunity to dance at the Bolshoi. She was in the company in the year when the director was splashed in the face with acid, an attack that was arranged by another dancer over the treatment of his girlfriend, an up and coming dancer. Joy herself was told that if she ever wanted to dance on stage, she would have to pay for the privilege. So, she left, and the Kremlin Ballet picked her up. In the last few years, she’s been working hard on classical repertoire, which bores me to tears, but whatever. She’s good at it. She’s gone through a lot of ups and downs, like alcoholic partners and unpleasant co-workers who take their anti-Americanism out on her. Plus, the pay sucks. She supports herself on her little company that makes Prima Bars.

Varna may change that. If she does well, it could give her more opportunities to dance as a guest artist for companies. I think that’s what she’s shooting for here.

Here’s one of her rehearsals for Varna with one of her more reliable and complementary partners, principal dancer Misha Martynuk and her ballet teacher, Zhanna. She’s the seated woman shouting corrections in Russian. They’re rehearsing the pas de deux for Le Corsaire first, followed by Diane and Acteon. Keep an eye out for the lift at about the 5:30 mark.  I’ve watched a lot of youtube videos of this pas and have never seen it done so effortlessly. Not even Vishneva and Acosta are this breathtaking.