February 20, 2017

At the Tiny House Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And think about doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. If you like nice dollhouses, you might like this bungalow. Or for big within the category of smallness, there this mansion.)

Is this the downfall of Milo?

"Milo Yiannopoulos Disinvited From CPAC Over Pedophilia Commentary."

Milo's defense of himself is included at that link:
I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim.

I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors. I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers. I've outed three of them, in fact -- three more than most of my critics. And I've repeatedly expressed disgust at pedophilia in my feature and opinion writing. My professional record is very clear.

But I do understand that these videos, even though some of them are edited deceptively, paint a different picture....

"Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous."

"But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed. Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump."

From a NYT op-ed by Sabrina Tavernise titled "Are Liberals Helping Trump?"

I'll just answer from my personal perspective (about how it affects me): Yes.

"But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop on the Trump story in some time."

Okay, you can go over here if you want to know what Josh Marshall is so exercised about. And here for the underlying NYT article, "A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates."

I just want to talk about the mangled cliché "one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop" — because we had so much fun 3 days ago talking about "he is a bull looking for a china shop" (a NY Post description of Donald Trump). I'd said if you'd just avoid clichés, you'd escape the danger of screwing them up. The phrase is "a bull in a china shop," not "bull looking for a china shop" and:
Bulls aren't hot to relocate to china shops! They're not on a mission to break china. They just would break a lot of china if they ever were in a china shop, which never happens.
I enjoyed the conversation in the comments, especially the pointer to the episode of "Mythbusters" where they showed that a bull in a china shop would not break a lot of china but would actually move about with agility and avoid hitting anything:

And here's a follow-up I found on my own:

So, I love stuff like that. It's overriding my Russia paranoia right now. I want to talk about Josh Marshall's phrase "one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop." Shoes of different sizes don't randomly drop. The shoe cliché is about 2 shoes of the same size — a pair of shoes — where one has already dropped so you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The idea isn't that shoes are important news and here comes another shoe and wow this one is really big. It's just predictability. Where one shoe has dropped, you know there is a second shoe:
A common experience of tenement living in apartment-style housing in New York City, and other large cities, during the manufacturing boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Apartments were built, similar in design, with the bedrooms located directly above and underneath one another. Thus, it was normal to hear a neighbor removing their shoes in the apartment above. As one shoe made a sound hitting the floor, the expectation for the other shoe to make a similar disturbance was created.
You never see these shoes. You only hear them. That's why waiting for the other shoe to drop involves distinct anticipation: You're not seeing the person unlace the shoe and reach the point where he will drop the shoe. You know he will, but you don't know exactly when, not until you hear the shoe hit the floor. And that goes to show just how badly Josh Marshall mangled the cliché when he wrote "one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop."*

You shouldn't be using clichés anyway, so why expose yourself to the lampooning you're going to get here at Althouse if you get them wrong?


* And I don't even want to talk about Marshall's image of shoe dropping on the Trump story. The shoe-dropping cliché is about the need to endure the sound of the shoe hitting the floor. The floor isn't hurt or changed in any significant way by the shoe.

Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out/Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about...

From "Liberals Are Still Angry, but Merrick Garland Has Reached Acceptance" (in the NYT):
After the election, the judge took a little time off, friends said... And on Jan. 30, two colleagues on the appeals court, Judges David S. Tatel and Laurence H. Silberman, hosted a more formal affair at the Metropolitan Club here.

“It was kind of, ‘Welcome back, Garland,’” Judge Tatel said. “‘Would we have been happy to see you on another court? Yes, but we’re glad you’re back.’”

Judge Tatel added, “He’s fully engaged and he’s back to being an extremely good chief judge.”...

“He did everything right — he never said a cross word, he never made a joke about it, he never politicized it,” said Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a former Garland clerk.....
In case you need to sing the post title: here.

As for the NYT article title... it's those insidious 5 stages of grief again. I don't for one minute believe that Merrick Garland had to process the experience like that, and remaining where you've been all along is not like dying. Getting an opportunity and then having it not pan out is a big experience in life, but I think anyone sensible enough to get a Supreme Court nomination isn't going to get so high on hope that he needs 5 stages to work through dashed hope. I'm sure Garland knew all along it was a game that he'd probably lose. He had the honor and distinction of being chosen, and I'm sure he accepted the nomination with the knowledge that he was being cast in a tragic role in some political theater.
“The character he showed through the whole process proves how qualified he was for the job,” [Tali Farhadian Weinstein] added, “and it adds to the tragedy that he didn’t get it.”

"From retirement communities to nursing homes, older Americans are increasingly turning to marijuana for relief from aches and pains."

"Many have embraced it as an alternative to powerful drugs like morphine, saying that marijuana is less addictive, with fewer side effects...."
“If residents are taking it, they are taking it undercover without the staff knowing so it’s not part of their care plan,” said Dr. Cheryl Phillips, senior vice president for public policy and health services for LeadingAge, an industry group representing more than 2,000 nursing homes. “I think that creates a safety problem.”

Fred Miles, a Colorado lawyer who represents nursing home operators, said nursing homes — unlike assisted living facilities — were regulated by the federal government, and were fearful of jeopardizing their Medicare and Medicaid funding....
The linked article (in the NYT) stresses access for pain avoidance and begins and ends with assurances that nobody is getting any affirmative pleasure. The piece begins with a 98-year-old woman who says "I don’t feel high or stoned... All I know is I feel better when I take this." And it ends with an 80-year-old woman who says "It’s got a stigma.... People don’t really believe you’re not really getting high if you take it."

Notice how she takes it for granted that there should be a stigma on getting high. She (and the NYT) want to assure you that the marijuana users used to tug our hearts are not only not using marijuana for the purpose of getting high, they are not even getting high at all.

It's interesting to me that the argument for legalization is so firmly based on puritanism ("the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy").

"Yes, nothing says female empowerment like a bunch of androgynous models dressed like homeless people."

"This displays the same cognitive dissonance as all the 'feminist' fashion shows featuring models in burqas and niqabs. It's like listening to a joke whose punchline never comes."

That's the second-highest-rated comment on a WaPo piece by Robin Givhan titled "After the Women’s March, designers try to bring their new woke energy to the runway." (The highest-rated comment is a complaint against the use of "slang" (presumably, "woke").

Another good comment is:
Hilarious - the "fashion" industry emphasizes treating women daily as objects to be ogled with ever skimpier clothing and NOW they are concerned about women's rights? Where was this concern when they were objectifying women all these years?

Did Trump make a sexist joke?

"What can look so beautiful at 30? An airplane."

New York Magazine says: "Trump Somehow Found a Way to Insult Women at the Unveiling of an Airplane."

Was that a sexist joke?
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"Her early life had been a Dickensian nightmare. By her own account, she was the unwanted child of a broken home..."

"... a ninth-grade dropout who was raped repeatedly by a relative, and a homeless runaway and thief consigned to reform school. She was married at 16, divorced and left pregnant three times by different men. She had bouts of suicidal depression, she said. Ms. McCorvey gave up her children at birth and was a cleaning woman, waitress and carnival worker. Bisexual but primarily lesbian, she sought refuge from poverty and dead-end jobs in alcohol and drugs. She was 22 and pregnant when she joined the abortion rights struggle, claiming later that she had not really understood what it was all about...."

Norma McCorvey, the person who happened into the role of Jane Roe, has died at the age of 69.

"As a trader in this village it's hard enough to earn a living without a prat like this sticking his fat nose where it['s] not wanted."

"You know who you are, u prat."

That made me look up "prat." It's English slang, going back to the 1500s, meaning "a buttock." Later, it came to mean both buttocks, i.e., a "bottom." (Source: OED.)

"Why, she's getting groggy on her pins, and if you don't pipe rumbo, she'll go prat over nut." That's from 1846. 

By 1955, it was slang for "An idiot, a fool; an ineffectual or contemptible person." Joe Orton used it in 1964 in "Entertaining Mr Sloane": "Go on, you superannuated old prat!"

I must say that before looking it up, I pictured it as a fish. I was thinking: sprat.

ADDED: This planted it in my head that Brits insult each other with fish:

IN THE COMMENTS: Laslo Spatula said: "I'm surprised Althouse din't also link o this Monty Python fish skit:"

The answer (to quell your surprise (I'm always alarmed at what surprises people around here)) is that — although I've had the DVD on my shelf for years — I've never gotten very far into "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life." There's only so much of this sort of foolery I can take in one sitting. A half hour is best for comedy. In the early days of movies, that was well understood. For example, this half hour of Chaplin from 1918:

That's all you need and all you want.

"The Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago could require a $1.5 billion endowment... three times what was raised for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas."

"The Obama Center is due to be so expensive because it will require the construction of both a presidential library and a museum about the lives of Barack and Michelle Obama."

February 19, 2017


... it's a continent if you believe it is.

Fake news? (And should we care if a rich person throws an expensive party?)

2 camels @ $1500 each / 400 people = $7.50 per person
$200,000 for dinner / 400 people = $500 per person
$60,000 for service / 400 people = $150 per person
$500,000 for singer / 400 people = $1250 per person
$8 million / 400 people = $20,0000 per person
Innumerate NYT readers = Priceless!

"I propose that we teach death ed in all of our high schools. I see this curriculum as a civic responsibility."

"I understand that might sound radical, but bear with me. Why should death be considered more taboo than sex? Both are a natural part of life. We may think death is too scary for kids to talk about, but I believe the consequences of a bad death are far scarier. A death ed program would aim to normalize this passage of life and encourage students to prepare for it, whenever it might come — for them, or for their families."

From an op-ed (in the NYT) by Jessica Nutik Zitter, who practices critical care and palliative medicine.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jay Elink said:
Batshit crazy.

All that would do is scare a bunch of kids into thinking, "OMG, Grandpa's gonna croak, any minute now".

Themselves, they will continue to act and think as if they were indestructible. No high schooler walks around thinking about what's going to happen to him, someday in the distant future.

The only advice I would offer to kids on Death is the one John Cardinal Newman gave (paraphrasing):

"Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will have no beginning."

Catholic teaching and iconography have a lot of references to death, beginning with Jesus dying on the Cross. So Catholics don't need no steenkin secular teachers to come along and tell them what Death's all about.

In fact, secular types would do their damndest to dispel the ideas of Heaven and Hell , instead pushing "you're really stupid to believe that religious nonsense". But hey, that's what secular types see as their mission, i.e., undermining religion.

(sez I, a lapsed Catholic and agnostic)

Chelsea Clinton takes her 2-year-old daughter Charlotte to her "1st protest rally."

The event — in Times Square (in NYC) — was called "Today, I Am a Muslim Too," which doesn't sound like a "protest." Isn't it more of a positive happening, like what we once called a "love-in"?
“Thank you to all who organized #IAmAMuslimToo today – Charlotte’s 1st protest rally. #NoBanNoWallNoRaids,” Chelsea captioned a snap featuring a popular protest sign that shows a woman wearing an American flag hijab.
Speaking of hippies, I remember when clothing made from the American flag was considered a desecration — not pro-America at all. I mean, Abbie Hoffman got arrested for this:

I'm not saying there's no free-speech right to use the flag to express an opinion. I'm just asking why a woman in an American flag hijab reads as a Muslim embracing American values.

Why didn't Trump get a honeymoon?

Let me quote something else from the "Fox News Sunday" transcript:
WALLACE: There is another aspect to this first month, and that is the pushback by the establishment, various sources, and we asked you for questions from the panel, and we got a lot like this, a tweet from George who writes, "what other president has faced as much resistance in their first month in office? Where did the honeymoon go?"
I don't know how you watch the Sunday shows at home, but me, I just shout out the answers. I had 2 for this one:

1. Honeymoons are for women.

2.  I just start kissing them.... I don’t even wait....

Chris Wallace learns a new term, "deep state"... and he's loving it.

On today's "Fox News Sunday," first Chris Wallace was talking to Rush Limbaugh:
WALLACE:  You also use a phrase which I have to say that I only heard for the first time in the last couple of weeks, "the deep state".  And that’s the notion that there’s an Obama shadow government embedded in the bureaucracy that is working against this new president.  I think that some folks are going to think that’s right on and some folks will think it’s awfully conspiratorial. 

LIMBAUGH:  Well, I would love to claim credit for that, but actually, I think a reporter by the name of Glenn Greenwald at "The Intercept" who has got a relationship with -- what’s his name?  Assange.  I think [Greenwald] actually coined the term.*  And I think it works.  I don’t think -- who is driving this business that the Russians hacked the election?  It’s the Democrat Party.  It’s Hillary.  It’s Obama.  It’s all those people who just can’t accept...
And then later Wallace had WaPo's Charles Lane on a panel discussion:
WALLACE: [The Obama administration in 2009] didn’t get the resistance from the news media. Some would say that -- that it was very compliant and -- and you certainly didn’t get resistance from the -- the deep state, I’m now loving the expression --
I want to include all of Lane's answer just because I thought he said a lot of good things (not because they're on the topic of "deep state"):
LANE: You sure got a lot... of resistance from the problems. But let me make my second point. Of course you’re getting resistance from all these sort of establishment agencies, if you like, because Donald Trump himself came in promising to attack them, promising to disrupt them, promising to take them down. What does he expect them to do, just stand back and let him, you know, destroy their influence and their power? Of course there’s going to be resistance. But, you know, he -- it’s not as if he avoids provocation of these people, particularly the media, as you have been pointing out. He relishes this combat. A lot of what he’s complaining about as resistance and so forth is resistance that he himself is provoking for the very political reasons.... For his base, a battle with the media is wonderful. It’s almost as good as actual policy change because it makes -- it confirms their world view. It confirms their view of what’s wrong with the country and its terrific politics.

* Jonah Goldberg quickly tweeted "Note to Rush and Chris Wallace, 'the Deep State' is not a new term and Glenn Greenwald didn't coin it," and Greenwald retweeted that saying "FACT CHECK: True," with a link goes to "Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry 1st Edition," a 2013 book by by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady. Goldberg's tweet linked to a Wikipedia article, "State within a state":
State within a state is a political situation in a country when an internal organ ("deep state"), such as the armed forces and civilian authorities (intelligence agencies, police, administrative agencies and branches of governmental bureaucracy), does not respond to the civilian political leadership. Although the state within the state can be conspiratorial in nature, the Deep State can also take the form of entrenched unelected career civil servants acting in a non-conspiratorial manner, to further their own interests (e.g., job security, enhanced power and authority, pursuit of ideological goals and objectives, and the general growth of their agency) and in opposition to the policies of elected officials, by obstructing, resisting, and subverting the policies and directives of elected officials. The term, like many in politics, derives from the Greek language (κράτος εν κράτει, kratos en kratei, later adopted into Latin as imperium in imperio or status in statu).
That article has a long list of historical examples, including one for the United States, which goes here. Excerpt:
According to Philip Giraldi, the nexus of power is centered on the military–industrial complex, intelligence community, and Wall Street, while Bill Moyers points to plutocrats and oligarchs. Professor Peter Dale Scott also mentions "big oil" and the media as key players, while David Talbot focuses on national security officials, especially Allen Dulles. Mike Lofgren, an ex-Washington staffer who has written a book on the issue, includes Silicon Valley, along with "key elements of government" and Wall Street....
IN THE COMMENTS: The Godfather said:
I'm concerned that this business of complaining about some "deep state" in the federal government is counterproductive.

I understand the "Yes, Minister" phenomenon, the beaurocracy's protection of its own position and power. I practiced law in Washington DC for almost 50 years, and I saw this all the time. One aspect of it is the glorification of "public service". The lawyer who got a job with a government agency was somehow a "better" person than his private sector counterpart. This is often quite sincere. When I was in law school in New York City, 1965-68, there was a dramatic shift in students' aspirations, no longer to Wall Street, but to Washington. They really wanted to go to the New Frontier and build the Great Society. They -- or more accurately their successors -- didn't sign on to "Make America Great Again". That's going to be a problem for Trump as it was for Reagan and GWBush, Presidents who came into office intending to reduce the size and power of the federal government.

But the problem I have with the term "deep state" (or "dark state" as one commenter referred to it) is the implication that there is a conscious and coherent conspiracy to undermine democratic and constitutional governance. References to the CIA and the Military, etc. seem to lead in that direction. Now I have no doubt that there are "spooks" out there who are willing to play their own games if they can get away with it. Somehow Nixon, who should have known better, allowed them to try to get away with it, and other "spooks" nailed him for doing so. But if there is a conscious and coherent conspiracy of government employees that is trying, in their official positions, to undermine the democratically-elected President, then that ought to be revealed to the public. So far, I haven't seen any evidence that this has happened. But if you think it has, let's have the evidence -- not inference, evidence. There are a lot of lawyers commenting on this blog, and you know what evidence is.

Lighter Hair... Lord's Prayer...

I'm delighted by US Weekly's ear for poetry with this headline: "Melania Trump Debuts Lighter Hair, Leads Crowd in Prayer at Donald Trump's Florida Rally."

What I'm looking for is commentary on Melania's saying not just a prayer, but The Lord's Prayer.

It's what got me up out of my comfy chair and live-blogging the rally. And as I laid me down to sleep last night, I thought I had done with the issues of the day, but I just had to bring up one last thing: "Why did Melania say the Lord's Prayer?"

I had my answer, and it's certainly not because she's a Christian, and The Lord's Prayer is the form of prayer that Jesus presented as exactly right. And I don't believe Donald Trump's assertion that he "didn't know Melania was going to be saying The Lord's Prayer."

I think it was deliberate bait to get Trump antagonists to attack her, to have her attacked for saying The Lord's Prayer. But I am not seeing the attacks, so congratulations for everyone that had the sense not to take that bait. Even on Twitter, a search for Melania Lord's Prayer turns up no complaints about the use of the specifically Christian prayer — maybe, given the words of the prayer, a lot of people don't recognize its Christianity — and the problem of making non-Christians feel like outsiders. I do see a few things that imagine other people objecting:

But where are the liberals whose reaction justifies that mockery? I'm not seeing them. Maybe the zealotry over separating church and state is not what it used to be.

Perhaps that means my answer to my late-night question is wrong. Maybe Melania said The Lord's Prayer because it would be so well-received by some people. Example:

I'm not going to nail it down. I'll ask you:

Why did Melania say The Lord's Prayer?
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"A workmen’s café in central France was overwhelmed with gourmet customers and TV crews after it was awarded a Michelin star by mistake."

"Prospective diners were astounded when they turned up at Le Bouche à Oreille, in the small town of Bourges, to find a cheap and cheerful eatery with red and white polka dot tablecloths, serving a fixed price lunch menu with homemade lasagna or beef bourguignon for about €10 (£8.50)."

Why aren't there some great anti-Trump humor books?

I was curious about the continuing sales of Milo Yiannopoulos's book (which isn't out until June 13th*). Looking around, I stumbled into Amazon's Best Sellers in Political Humor:

I'm not surprised to see 3 versions of Milo's book hogging the top row. What shocks me is that there's nothing really happening in what I would have thought was the rich field of anti-Trump humor. There are 2 books. One is just a compilation of Doonesbury strips from the past 30 years, and it came out last July, before the "pussy" recording, before the winning of the election. Essence of old and out of date. The other one is also from last July, "A Child's First Book of Trump." Cute enough...

... but where's anything even slightly up-to-date? Where's something that deals with Trump's success, something that takes him on without assuming he's a such an easy target that the laughs are already implicitly there? Two of the next 4 books on the list are about historical figures like George Washington. The one about "The Daily Show" is a history of a humor show, not new humor at all. And the Bill Bryson book came out in 1996 (and is about traveling through England).

If you go to the link and keep scrolling, you'll have to go to #21 to find another Trump book (and it's a trifle, "The Trump Coloring Book," from December 2015, probably intended as a joke gift, with Trump in a Superman costume on the cover).  Keep scrolling, and you'll find the next Trump item at #30, "2017 Donald Trump Out of Office Countdown Wall Calendar" (which isn't a book). Then there's something like "Trump Memes" around 40, and at #66 "Not My F*cking President" (and it's another fucking coloring book).

What's up, hilarious Trump haters? Where are the books?!

* That's one day before Donald Trump's birthday, as I learned from Trump's speech at the rally yesterday. Maybe I'd heard about his birthday before, but I don't remember, and it made us perk up with what felt like new information: His birthday is on Flag Day. Interesting that he's never made a thing out of Born on Flag Day (which is close to the old brag "born on the 4th of July").

Some people think Donald Trump is a compulsive braggart, but the absence of bragging is hard to see, so I'm pointing it out. Now, there's good reason not to brag about the date of your birth: Show me the unborn child who even knows the date and I will humor your fantasy that this naive entity may have a plan to resist expulsion from the maternal enclosure or burst forth early to claim a desirable day for his birthday.

And it's not effective to say you're more of a patriot because of your birthday when your message is let's all be very patriotic together. Here, from the transcript, is how Trump dropped the reference to his Flag Day birthday:
The dishonest media... have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda. In fact, Thomas Jefferson said, “nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” “Truth itself,” he said, “becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle,” that was June 14, my birthday, 1807. 
But maybe he was subtly nudging us to think that patriotic holiday birthday means something. He'd just highlighted Thomas Jefferson, the person most famous for being born dying on an American patriotic holiday. But Jefferson didn't call attention to the fact himself. He wrote: "The only birthday I ever commemorate is that of our Independence, the Fourth of July."