May 26, 2017

"To be sure, Trump got plenty of negative coverage in the press as well, but, during the campaign at least, the negative stories didn’t seem to stick to him with the same adhesion."

"And even now, as investigations of his administration’s connections to Russia splash across front pages, the Times has launched a new feature, a weekly call to readers to 'Say something nice' about him. I ask Clinton if she’s seen it. 'I did!' she says with a wide smile, taking a beat. 'I never saw them do that for me.'"

From "Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried./The surreal post-election life of the woman who would have been president," by Rebecca Traister.

AND: Here's the transcript of the graduation speech Hillary just gave at Wellesley:
You may have heard that things didn't exactly go the way I planned. But you know what? I'm doing okay. I've gotten to spend time with my family, especially my amazing grandchildren. I was going to give the entire commencement speech about them but was talked out of it.

Long walks in the woods. Organizing my closets, right? I won't lie. Chardonnay helped a little too. Here's what helped most of all. Remembering who I am, where I come from, and what I believe...
Too bad she didn't remember during the campaign. If she'd seemed at least a bit to be someone who believed in a few things, maybe the negative stories wouldn't have stuck to her with the same adhesion.

Evergreen State College biology professor Bret Weinstein is swarmed and cursed and hounded by students who are scarily deluded about their own righteousness.

The man is condemned for objecting to a "Day of Absence" demonstration that took the form of asking white students to stay off campus for one day.
In the past, the Day of Absence has been a day where black and Latino students leave campus to highlight their significance on campus. This year students wanted to change the format. Instead of leaving campus themselves, they wanted white students and professors to leave campus, thereby creating a safe space for the students left behind. Professor Weinstein objected to that format and wrote and email saying he would not be leaving campus and encouraged others not to do so. 
The students are now calling him a racist and demanding that he resign.

He's also been warned by by the Chief of Police that he's not safe on campus, and he obliged (ironically) by staying off campus. He appears very calm and courageous in the video as he's confronted by a horrible mob, so I'm not sure why he didn't stand his ground and teach his class in the usual place (especially considering his position on the Day of Absence).

There's something in the video that I really like. Professor Weinstein says:
"There’s a difference between debate and dialectic. Debate means you are trying to win. Dialectic means you are using disagreement to discover what is true. I am not interested in debate. I am only interested in dialectic, which does mean I listen to you, and you listen to me."
That's so well put. I've been saying for years I won't debate. Students at the law school would often set up events as debates and ask me to speak on one side of the debate. It was usually a side I wasn't even on, but that's beside the point. I resist the human interaction that is debate. I'd love to think the students would respond to the calmly stated, crisp debate/dialectic distinction, but it got this aggravated comeback:
"We don’t care what terms you want to speak on. This is not about you. We are not speaking on terms — on terms of white privilege. This is not a discussion. You have lost that one."
ADDED: "You have lost that one" is an interesting declaration. It's so arrogant in its faux authoritativeness but if there's "one," there's also another. In this case, the next "one" is this public airing of the video, and it's pitifully obvious that the students have lost this one.

ALSO: This story disturbed me so much, but it took me longer than usual to come over and blog it, because I wanted to research the subject of students attacking teachers. It's a big subject, but I took the time to read "Student Attacks Against Teachers: The Revolution of 1966," by Youqin Wang. If you're wondering how bad things can get, read that.

At the Iris Bud Café...


... finally, you are free to talk about anything you want.

(And please consider doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Dating apps "tempt you to keep swiping, and as you whiz through tens, hundreds or even thousands of profiles... there’s got to be someone better than the person I’m seeing right now."

"Which means that monogamy requires more sacrifice than ever. If offered free travel, why would anyone settle for one place when it’s possible to tour the entire world?"

Well, I, for one, would not settle for someone who's that bad with analogies.

You can travel the world and still have a home town, and the town lets you live there, no matter how often you go elsewhere and how long you stay away, and the town doesn't get jealous and betray you when you're gone. You can have a home town — even 2 or 3 home towns — and come back to them whenever you want homey comforts and familiarity.

But you can't have a husband or wife unless you get married. If you want a good analogy, you'd have have to think about whether you'd want to live on the road forever if the alternative were to have one home and never travel. Make sure to think about what it will be like if you get sick or when you get old, if you're fortunate enough to grow old in this world that might get ugly as you're out there traveling through its entirety.

"It’s good to normalize evil, in the sense of showing how otherwise 'normal' people and institutions can perpetrate evil acts..."

"... and every attempt should be made to do so. That’s how you prevent more evil from happening in the future."

Ah! I chose to blog this before I noticed the author, Jesse Singal. He's good!

He's writing about the reaction to that Atlantic article "My Family's Slave" (by Alex Tizon). Some people said that article shouldn't have been published. Example of the objection: "I am filled with nothing but anger and hatred at the vileness of the attempt by Alex Tizon to whitewash a slaveholder. No. FUCK! NO!"

Singal says:
In fact, it’s a common reaction just about any time a journalistic account of evil people or evil acts includes nuance and texture. Back in 2013, for example, some people were furious at Rolling Stone for running a cover image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in which the Boston Marathon bomber looked like… well, a normal kid. A handsome one, even. Some of the critics accused Rolling Stone of giving him the “rock star” treatment.

This “you’re normalizing evil!” critique didn’t make sense then, and it doesn’t make sense now.

What I found when I was looking for what Jake Tapper said about that "He just body-slammed me" story.

Jake Tapper wrote a book called "Body Slam: The Jesse Ventura Story."

Okay. Try again. Here:
The editorial board of the Billings Gazette, a CNN affiliate, retracted its endorsement of Gianforte, stating, "We believe that you cannot love America, love the Constitution, talk about the importance of a free press and then pummel a reporter."

Tapper echoed the newspaper's stance.

"Let us add that those public officials finding it difficult these days to muster the courage to strongly condemn a politician committing assault on a reporter, maybe you need to reexamine how much you truly love the Constitution beyond just saying the words," he said.
The Constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press not just for reporters, but for everyone. And the Constitution guarantees due process for the criminally accused. Someone who would "strongly condemn a politician committing assault on a reporter" might also demonstrate a love of constitutional values by refraining from assuming that a particular individual accused of committing a crime is guilty. The hesitation to condemn Gianforte — I believe, even though I averted my eyes from yesterday's swarming and feasting — had to do with a fear that an audiotape was being exploited and possibly distorted to raise a sudden frenzy just as an election was occurring.

You talk about courage, but jumping into a frenzied mob isn't a mark of courage. Show me everyone who without hesitation condemned Gianforte, and I'd like to know whether he or she either: 1. Wanted the Republican to lose the election, or 2. Was afraid of getting attacked for endorsing violence. Is there anyone left? Show me the man or woman of true courage.

Mixed metaphor of the day.

"Trump's Budget Guts The Safety Net, And Other Myths." ("Spending on entitlement programs isn't being cut. At least not in the traditional sense of spending less next year than you spend this year. Trump's budget doesn't touch Social Security or Medicare, and only slows the growth of the remaining 'safety net' programs.")

You can talk about the policy angles. I want to talk about the mixed metaphor of gutting a net. It seems interestingly fish-related, no?

The verb "to gut" means, of course, to take out the guts, notably of fish.
1599 H. Buttes Dyets Dry Dinner sig. L7v, Carpe..Lay it scaled and gutted sixe houres in salt.
That's from the OED. The most common figurative use, historically, is in reference to buildings.
1688 N. Luttrell Diary in Brief Hist. Relation State Affairs (1857) I. 486 The 11th, in the evening, the mobile gott together, and went to the popish chappel in Lincolns Inn Feilds, and perfectly gutted the same.
I think of "net" in connection with fish — a fishing net — but a "safety net" is not a fishing net. The phrase "safety net" — "An extensive net suspended or held above the ground to prevent injury in the event of a fall or jump from a height" — goes back to at least 1840:

"John Glenn’s remains were disrespected at the military's mortuary, Pentagon documents allege."

"A senior mortuary employee at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware twice offered horrified inspectors a peek at American icon John Glenn's dead body while the famed astronaut awaited burial earlier this year, according to an internal memo obtained by Military Times."

What if Dusko Markovic had shoved Donald Trump back and Trump had yelled "You just body-slammed me" and we had the whole thing not on video, but only audio?

Here's Trump getting physical with the Prime Minister of Montenegro.

I don't know if you've ever been videotaped moving through a packed, stopped crowd, with the camera zoomed in on you and the video rendered in slow-mo at the point at which you made the most physical contact and the most forward progress. But that happened to Trump. And even in that clipped-down snippet, we see Dusko Markovic smile, which reassures fair-minded people that it wasn't a big deal, but even so, it gave the anti-Trump folks something to cry "thug" about and psychoanalyze — "You tiny, tiny, tiny little man," tweeted J.K. Rowlingand mock. Everything that can be used will be used.

But what if the camera weren't there? I assume Trump would have behaved differently, perhaps he'd have been more brusque and brutal, perhaps less. He might have barged through more carelessly if he knew there were no visual record. But he might have been more patient and meek, because he wouldn't have had to worry about looking comically ineffectual. And the situation he faced might have been different if the people in front of him had had no concern that they might look disrespected and unimportant.

It's even possible that the blockage Trump faced was a deliberate closing of ranks by the European leaders assigned to the back row, so the cameras would capture thousands of images of poor Trump, stuck behind the feisty Europeans, unable to make his way forward. Imagine the headlines the newspapers could plop on top of the funniest, most symbolic-seeming picture of trapped Trump.

But what if the cameras weren't there and instead we had audio? Men moving for position within a crowd, each with his own agenda, each wanting power and high respect. They're jostling around and past each other. And let's imagine that Dusko Markovic, without the camera, reacted to Trump by pushing back, just a little bit harder. Picture it: Trump barged past, a little physical, and then Markovic took a you-push-me-I-push-you attitude and deliberately knocked Trump back. Remember, there's no video. But there's audio, and Trump yells "You just body-slammed me."

You see my point. All we'd have would be Trump's "You just body-slammed me." We wouldn't know that Trump did some modest manhandling that Markovic experienced as degrading and that Markovic was doing the old manly tit-for-tat.

You can do things with audio. I have no idea what really happened in the audio involving Greg Gianforte that was all over the news yesterday, but Gianforte has won the special election in Montana — with something like a 7 point margin of victory — and he's made a careful apology: "I should not have responded the way I did, for that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

I say "careful," because he doesn't say what, exactly, "the way I did" was or why — there are many reasons — he "should not have responded" like that. Of course, he's sorry. He wisely refrains from adding nonapology baggage after "I'm sorry." (People often add words like "if anyone was offended," but they never add "that I got into so much trouble.")

Speaking of "careful," going forward, politicians need to be careful. I'm worried about things that can be done with audio. The "body-slamming" vocalization may have been entirely justified by whatever happened out there in Montana, but it also points the way to endless dirty tricks. You can say anything, and you can say it with feeling: Hit hit me! He grabbed me! How dare you! You choked me!

You can lie with video too. Dusko Markovic could have hammily stumbled off to the side and fallen on the floor. But lying with speech is the normal, daily behavior of the human being. It comes so naturally and easily to us. Fortunately, sorting through lies and deceit is also something we do every day. It's hard to keep up. But we still care about trying.

"Gunmen opened fire on vehicles carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt early Friday, killing at least 20 people..."

"... according to state news agencies," the NYT reports.
A Christian official in Minya province, south of Cairo, said the attackers opened fire on a pickup truck carrying workmen and a bus carrying worshipers as they traveled in convoy to St. Samuel’s monastery. Many of the worshipers were children.

“We are having a very hard time reaching the monastery because it is in the desert. It’s very confusing. But we know that children were killed,” said the official, Ibram Samir....

The Islamic State bombed the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on Dec. 11 and attacked a church in Alexandria and a church in Tanta on Palm Sunday, April 9, killing at least 78 people. A small Christian community in northern Sinai fled the town of El Arish after a series of gun attacks on homes and businesses....

After the Palm Sunday attack, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, declared a state of emergency....
ADDED: Just last month, the Pope visited Egypt. The NYT wrote:
The pope also spoke at a peace conference hosted by Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar mosque, and met with the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II....

In a decentralized Muslim world, the pope’s speech and his continuation of a dialogue with Sheikh Tayeb provided Muslims with a high-profile counterpoint to the radical language coming from extremists. Al Azhar forms many of the Sunni world’s imams and oversees the education of millions of Egyptian children and college students....

May 25, 2017

"The pain was... I can’t explain the pain except to say if you’ve ever put your finger in a light socket as a kid, multiply that feeling by a gazillion throughout your entire body."

“And I saw a white light surrounding my body—it was like I was in a bubble. Everything was slow motion. I felt like I was in a bubble for ever."

From "What It's Like to Be Struck by Lightning/There’s a good chance you’ll survive. But the effects can be lasting."

The best light in Meade's garden just now...


... fell on the columbine.

(That's shot — by me, just now — with the Micro-NIKKOR 105mm lens.)

Body-slammed in Bozeman.

The news from Montana.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refuses to reinstate Trump's revised travel ban.

Adam Liptak reports in the NYT.
The case is now likely to go to the Supreme Court.

France censors a public-service ad that shows children with Down syndrome growing up happily.

Here's the ad:

Here's Sohrab Ahmari in The Wall Street Journal.
In France three TV networks agreed to carry [the "Dear Future Mom" ad] as a public service. The feedback was glowing -- until that summer, when the government's High Audiovisual Council, or CSA, issued a pair of regulatory bulletins interdicting the ad. The regulator said it was reacting to audience complaints.
The Jerome Lejeune Foundation, which sponsors the ad in France, eventually learned that only 2 complaints had been filed. One objected to the foundation, because it is anti-abortion. The other came from a woman who'd had an abortion when she was told her unborn child had Down syndrome. Because she mourned the child, she said, she experienced the ad as "violent."
The foundation appealed [the ban], and the case eventually came before the Council of State, France's highest administrative court. The council in November affirmed the ban, holding that the ad could "disturb the conscience" of women who had had abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis....

For the foundation, the claim that the ad evokes feelings of guilt only attests to its moral truth. Says spokeswoman Stephanie Billot: "When you show a video of DS kids who say, 'Well, I won't be normal, but I will still be able to love you,' the guilt becomes so unbearable that society rejects it. It's a common, unconscious guilt for all who said nothing about the effort to systematically eliminate DS." Guilt can be salutary.

The foundation this month lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights, asserting free-speech violations as well as genetic discrimination....

"This week the Harvard campus served as a reunion of sorts for several former Obama administration officials."

"Former vice president Joe Biden spoke to college graduates, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates addressed the graduating class at Harvard Law school," and former secretary of state John F. Kerry spoke to the graduates at the Kennedy School of Government.
“And the truth is – no, this is not a normal time,” Kerry said. “It’s not normal to see a president of the United States decrying ‘so-called judges.’ It’s not normal for the leader of the country that invented the First Amendment to routinely degrade and even threaten journalists. And no, it’s not normal to see the head of the FBI fired summarily because he was investigating connections between Russia and the presidential campaign of the very man who fired him. And it’s not normal that when you close your eyes and listen to the news, too often the political back and forth in America sounds too much like it does in the kinds of countries that the State Department warns Americans not to travel to."
ADDED: This makes me think of the novel I've been reading, "The Mosquito Coast" (by Paul Theroux). The narrator describes his father, a genius who dropped out of Harvard:
Father [was] talking the whole way about... the awfulness of America— how it got turned into a dope-taking, door-locking, ulcerated danger zone of rabid scavengers and criminal millionaires and moral sneaks. And look at the schools. And look at the politicians. And there wasn’t a Harvard graduate who could change a flat tire or do ten pushups....

[Father] boasted that he had dropped out of Harvard in order to get a good education. He was prouder of his first job as a janitor than his Harvard scholarship....

“Strictly speaking,” Father said, “there is no such thing as invention. It’s not creation, I mean. It’s just magnifying what already exists. Making ends meet. They could teach it in school— Edison wanted to make invention a school subject, like civics or French. But the schools went for fingerpainting, when they could have been teaching kids to read. They encouraged back talk. School is play! Harvard is play!”

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind," said Ben Carson.

"You take somebody that has the right mind-set, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there...."
You take somebody with the wrong mind-set, you can give them everything in the world — they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom....

If everybody had a mother like mine, nobody would be in poverty. She was a person who absolutely would not accept the status of victim.

"More than five dozen Middlebury College students were disciplined for their roles in shutting down a speech by the author Charles Murray in March..."

"... the college announced this week. But the students were spared the most serious penalties in the episode, which left a faculty member injured and came to symbolize a lack of tolerance for conservative ideas on some campuses," the NYT reports.
Mr. Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, [said] "The sanctions are a farce,... They will not deter anyone. They’re a statement to students that if you shut down a lecture, nothing will happen to you.”...

Matthew Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury, said he believed that while the penalties might satisfy some members of the faculty and the community... [But] “[The students] don’t understand the value of free speech at a college and what free speech really means... I think some people are going to say we should be looking more broadly at the institution and whether we taught these students properly.”

Devon Arthurs shot 2 of his roommates to death and said they were neo-Nazis and so was he, before he converted to Islam.

He said they were anti-Muslim (which, of course, doesn't justify murder). There's also a 4th roommate, Brandon Russell, and the murder investigation uncovered,  we're told, a picture of Timothy McVeigh or his dresser and what are said to be bomb-making ingredients, the NYT reports.
Mr. Russell, who was arrested on Sunday in Key Largo, confirmed to law enforcement officials that he was member of Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group, and that he had manufactured the “white-cake-like substance,” the authorities said. He told the F.B.I. that he had been planning to use the substance to “boost homemade rockets and to send balloons into the atmosphere for testing.” The F.B.I. agent who wrote the affidavit on which the complaint was based, Timothy A. Swanson, expressed skepticism about Mr. Russell’s explanation, given the volatility of the substance.

I agree: It was implicit.

"I thought it was implicit."

Maybe India, not China, is the most populous country in the world.

According to Yi Fuxiang, a Chinese medical expert and population researcher based here at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, quoted in the NYT.
China’s real population may be 1.29 billion people, 90 million fewer than the government’s estimate of 1.38 billion in 2016, Mr. Yi told a meeting at Peking University on Monday, citing what he said were telltale inconsistencies among birthrate, hospital and school statistics. India’s population, on the other hand, had grown to 1.33 billion in 2016, according to the United Nations.

“I want people to pay attention, because this is such a big issue for China,” Mr. Yi said. He has long criticized China’s family planning policies that emerged in the 1970s and took a draconian hold in the 1980s... “Even if family planning stopped, habits die hard,” he said. “Overall, our structure is where Japan was in 1992, and our economic waning will be a long-term trend.”

What "three separate occasions" was Trump referring to when he said that Comey had told him that he was not under investigation?

Here's Comey's friend Benjamin Witte explaining why he finds it "simply inconceivable to me that Comey would tell the President that." That is, he doesn't know, but he tries to imagine what Comey could have done, and he just can't.

Witte says "it would have been lunacy for Comey to assure the President that his conduct was not ultimately a matter of scrutiny in at least some of the investigative threads the FBI had—and has—ongoing." Lunacy? But perhaps Comey is a lunatic? Witte — conceding that Trump has said Comey is "a nut job" — assures us: "Comey is not, in fact, a lunatic."

Witte says it would be "completely inappropriate and irresponsible" for Comey to have assured the President he's not under investigation, and Comey is a man of dedication and integrity. Therefore, he couldn't have done it.

Finally, Witte says that Comey cared about the independence of the FBI, and therefore it's "inconceivable" that Comey would do anything other than resisting encroachments by the President.

Now, Witte concedes that something must have been said that makes Trump think he can make his "three times" statement. But what? Witte concedes that "there’s actually nothing unusual about a person who is wrapped up in a white collar investigation inquiring about his status within it." Often, Witte tells us, the Justice Department will tell people whether they are “witness,” a “subject,” or a “target.” Witte "wouldn’t be surprised at all" if Trump asked about his status and got an answer from Comey. So that's completely conceivable, and Witte's complaint dwindles down into an argument about what it means to be "under investigation."

Witte concedes that Trump might have asked "Am I under investigation?" and Comey might have answered "You are not currently the target of any investigation." Trump might have inaccurately paraphrased that statement to "not under investigation." It's not that different from the way Witte paraphrases "not under investigation" as "not ultimately a matter of scrutiny in at least some of the investigative threads the FBI had."

"White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is nervous about what could be in store for him if the former FBI director reveals more details of his secret memos."

Write Betsy Woodruff, Lachlan Markay, and Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast.

How do they know he's "nervous"?
Three White House officials told The Daily Beast that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has privately expressed worry about a possible Comey memo specifically involving one of their reported chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators.

“Nervous laughter,” one official succinctly characterized Priebus’ demeanor in the midst of recent revelations.
So... he's "nervous" because he laughed at something — we're not told what — and one unnamed person characterized the laughter as nervous. And, in the opinion of the reporters, Priebus should be nervous — "Any anxiety on Priebus’ part, however, would appear to be well-justified" — because Comey wrote memos — which the reporters characterize as "judicious" — about conversations and
"Priebus’ private conversation with Comey could have violated longstanding FBI policy barring officials from discussing its cases with the White House."

Maybe Comey should be nervous, but Comey wrote a memo, and perhaps Priebus should be worried that any Comey memo in this situation would protect Comey's interest in not being seen as violating FBI policy.

I've noticed what I think may be a significant trend in reporting in the Trump era: reporting it as news that somebody is — perhaps only by slanted inference — nervous. Here's last Sunday's post, "Nervous." I'm making a new tag for this trend: nervous.

"Here are the 66 programs eliminated in Trump's budget."

At The Hill.

May 24, 2017

Iris gets ready to overtake the allium...


... in Meade's garden.

This Washington Post article — "How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe" — is extremely hard to read.

I needed to read it out loud with Meade and discuss it sentence-by-sentence and almost word-by-word. It took me at least 10 minutes to get past the first 2 sentences.

So I don't have the time or patience to parse through this entire thing, and I encourage you to read it carefully and try to figure out what the Washington Post is trying to pump up or minimize, who's lying or stretching the truth, and whether the underlying story in the document has any element of truth to it. Why did 3 of the 4 key characters named in the document flatly deny everything and one refused to speak?*

If everyone always thought the document was unreliable,** why is it being held up now as having had an effect on Comey's decision to go public in July? There's an idea that he was afraid that the Russians would be able to dump this story after Lynch took a position, undercutting her authority. But why did it help for Comey to go public first? The story could still have been dumped on him, undercutting his authority (though it wasn't).

It seems that Comey just knew about a (fake?) story that the Russians could dump if and when they wanted. What exactly was he afraid of and why are we hearing about it now? And how do I know the story wasn't true? It sounds like something that could have happened... in which case, why tell us about it? What's the motivation to leak a story about a fake story if everyone always thought it was fake? Is it that the story is true and they're trying to get out ahead of it with some sort of reason why we should perceive it as fake?

We're told that several of the "people familiar with the Russian document" — anonymous people who aren't supposed to talk about it — are — in the words of the Washington Post — "concerned that revealing details now about the document could be perceived as an effort to justify Trump’s decision to fire Comey." So, there's a document that might help Trump, but they want to make sure that it's only used to — to what? — help Comey? Why are they revealing it when they're not supposed to? We're told these people support Comey, but then shouldn't it be clear how this document explains why Comey did what he did last July? It's certainly not clear. It seems to have had more to do with protecting Loretta Lynch and helping the Clinton campaign, and I don't know who it helps now. If it doesn't help the people you want to help, why are you leaking?

The more labyrinthine it feels, the more I lean toward accepting the story that Debbie Wasserman Shultz really did write that email. And in the current manner of doing political analysis — when it's aimed against Trump — I could say let Wasserman Shultz prove she didn't do that.

And this really puzzled me:
While it was conducting the Clinton email investigation, the FBI did not interview anyone mentioned in the Russian document about its claims. 
Why not?! We're supposed to believe that the document had a big effect and 3 of the 4 people named in it would flatly deny what it said, but they were never asked? Why not? Either it's just a crap document that no one ever believed or it needed to be checked out. The only other option seems to be that they didn't want to know whether it was true. Why not?

I feel as though I have to try to unravel the WaPo report because I cannot trust WaPo to do anything other than to try to hurt Donald Trump.*** I have to take it apart and put it back together in some guess at what might be a straight story.

* The document says that there is email from Debbie Wasserman Schultz (then DNC chair) to Leonard Benardo (of George Soros's Open Society Foundations) saying that Loretta Lynch had assured Amanda Renteria (a senior Clinton campaign staffer) that — as WaPo puts it — "the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter." Wasserman Schultz, Leonard Benardo, Amanda Renteria all deny, and Loretta Lynch won't talk about it. And yet we are told that Lynch did meet with FBI officials, and that she told them — in what was not a formal interview — "I don’t know this person [Renteria] and have never communicated with her." If that is correct, why wouldn't she acknowledge as much when WaPo tried to talk to her for this article?

** I'm assuming that there is a document and that it's from the Russians, but that's just what the Washington Post tells me its unnamed sources are telling them.

*** I'm thinking about what I heard Bob Woodward say this morning on C-SPAN:
“There is this kind of sense of too many people writing things like—when is the impeachment coming, how long will it last, will he make it through the summer, and so forth. No, there may be stuff that comes out, but it has to be hard evidence. I worry for the business and I worry for the perception of the business by people, not to just Trump supporters, but people that see that kind of smugness that they are talking about.”

"Demanding that women smile is akin to suggesting that women are not entitled to be in charge of their own emotional life."

"But for women who live the greater part of their lives in the public eye, smiling is a kind of code for being not only engaged, but also being engaging. For a woman who was once a model, who ostensibly is practiced in the art of nonverbal communication, the willingness to forgo a grin seems less like an accident and more like the tiniest declaration of personal control and rebellion. She is here for you, but she is not going to perform for you."

Writes Robin Givhan, about Melania Trump, under a headline that struck me as comical juxtaposed with the photograph:

I'm not sure where the "control and containment" is supposed to be — maybe in the constricting leather skirt or maybe it's something she's extracting from the President who scampers at her heel — but from the waist up, I'm seeing a more freewheeling style, an eschewing of a fully controlled structure. I'm not criticizing this choice, I'm just saying this isn't the Jackie Kennedy choice of clothing as armor, but a stretchy sweater over something less than the most rigid undergarments. I see an amusing combo of loose and tight.

The headline is probably not written by Givhan. I'm just poking fun at WaPo there. I mainly wanted to show you that part about women smiling, which is a long-term feminist issue. It's sexist to tell women to smile,* so what do you do when you want to comment on Melania's unsmiling face? Givhan reads it as "the tiniest declaration of personal control and rebellion," which sounds as though she — in her own little way — is part of the female resistance against Trump.

* See "The Sexism of Telling Women to Smile: Your Stories," "Why you shouldn't tell a woman to smile," "Telling a woman to smile may seem like an innocent request, but there's a darker undertone," "It’s Important For Men to Understand That They Need To Stop Telling Women to Smile," "The Sexism Behind Telling Women to Smile," "Why We Should Stop Telling Women to Smile," "'Stop Telling Women To Smile' Goes National," "'Stop telling women to smile.'"

At the Allium Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please consider supporting this blog by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"Michelle Obama proves there is a grown-up way to do the cold shoulder trend."

No, this is not an article about how — unlike Melania Trump* — Michelle Obama has a good way to keep her husband from touching her, it's about that not-dead-quite-yet fashion trend of wacky necklines that expose the shoulder.

And I have no idea why this particular blouse of Michelle's is supposed to look "grown-up" — or why children are getting blamed for what has always looked to me like just a last-ditch effort to find a new approach to baring female flesh. Okay, we did midriffs, we did lower back, we did ass cheeks, so... how about shoulders? Yes, let's break out the shoulders! Most women want to wear bras and most bras have shoulder straps, so it's at least a challenge of some sort, even if no one's too fixated on shoulders, but maybe they once were.

There was a 1931 movie "White Shoulders":

And not long after that, Evyan introduced White Shoulders perfume:
Actually it is probably the iconic American fragrance. Classified as a Floral Aldehyde, it is: beautiful, sweet, sexy, powdery, radiant, maternal, refined, approachable, fresh, gracious and warm but at [its] core — very "night"...

Anyway, sorry to veer over into all that whiteness. The correct answer — I think — to why the UK Telegraph article characterizes Michelle Obama as "proving" that the bared shoulder look can be worn in a "grown-up way" is simply that Michelle Obama is doing it. In syllogistic form: Whatever Michelle Obama does is grown up, Michelle Obama is wearing a "cold shoulder" garment, therefore it is possible to wear the "cold shoulder" look in a grown-up way.

* Twice, Melania has been shown on video seemingly rejecting Trump's effort to hold hands with her. She doesn't just let him (to coin a phrase — have you ever heard that phrase? I just came up with it!). And speaking of Melania, did you see that she (and Ivanka) wore a black veil on her head to meet the Pope? She didn't cover her head for the Muslims, but she covered her head for the Catholics? I'd say, she didn't cover her head for the political leaders in Saudi Arabia, but she did cover her head for the religious leader in the Vatican. As for the flicking away of her husband's hand, I'd defend her this way: He has expressive hands and instinctive affection, but she is a model, more concerned with appearances and focused on walking with professional elegance in high heels and not getting thrown off balance. There's a bit of a conflict there, and the subtle flick of the wrist would normally go unnoticed, and it would work just fine. But a million eyes are scanning each microsecond of video, and the tiniest gestures will be detected and magnified. And if they want to use you to show that your husband is hateful, they will find whatever they can. Just as anything Michelle Obama does can count as how to be a "grown up" — or whatever the hell — anything Melania does might count as evidence that Trump is loathsome.

"Mushrooms are the safest of all the drugs people take recreationally, according to this year’s Global Drug Survey."

"Of the more than 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, just 0.2% of them said they needed emergency medical treatment – a rate at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD and cocaine."
“Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” said Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey....

“Death from toxicity is almost unheard of with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms.”
What about the problem of people foraging for hallucinogenic mushrooms and picking toxic mushrooms by mistake? It doesn't sound as though the study counts that against hallucinogenic mushrooms. But I guess all of these statistics are complicated by the illegality of the drug. When is the visit to the emergency room because of something that could have been avoided if the drug were sold legally, with assurances of purity and known doses?
“Drug laws need to balance the positives and problems they can create in society and well crafted laws should nudge people to find the right balance for themselves,” said Winstock.

“People don’t tend to abuse psychedelics, they don’t get dependent, they don’t rot every organ from head to toe, and many would cite their impact upon their life as profound and positive. But you need to know how to use them.”

The argument that anti-male talk on campus creates a hostile educational environment in violation of Title IX.

Is that the argument Glenn Reynolds is making here, or is he only saying that campus "diversity workshops" should give equal time to the problem anti-male talk?

Examples of anti-male talk that the shapers of campus speech should address:  "toxic masculinity," "testosterone poisoning," "frat boy," "bro." And then there's the problem of "rape-gendering":
[I]t’s sexist — and in light of data from the Centers for Disease Control showing rough equality here, it’s scientifically inaccurate — to pretend that sexual coercion on campus is strictly, or even largely, a male-on-female phenomenon. Discussions of sexual assault that assume a male perpetrator and a female victim, or the use of phrases like “Teach men not to rape,” constitute the gendering of a crime that is in fact committed by people of all genders. That is not okay.
Another alternative, not discussed in the linked essay, is to back off on diversity instruction and let the free-speech market do its work. 

Shillong — the Indian town that loves Bob Dylan.

From Charuskesi Ramadurai in the UK Independent:
Dylan has never visited – in fact, he’s never performed in India and is thought to have visited only once, for a wedding – but the people of Shillong don’t care. For several decades now, the city has hosted an informal celebratory concert every year on his birthday: 24 May.
(Happy birthday, Bob.)
The annual tradition was started in 1972 by local celebrity Lou Majaw – known as the grand old musician of Shillong, and homegrown Dylan fan – some say fanatic.... This 70-going-on-17-year-old musician regularly performs Dylan’s songs at some of the most popular pubs and cafés in town....
Here's a documentary about Majaw and Shillong:

"Two homeless men... Steve Jones and Chris Parker, were in the area to sleep and beg for money."

Steve Jones: "We had to pull nails out of children's faces."

Chris Parker: "I saw a little girl… she had no legs. I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said 'where’s your mum and daddy?'"

From "The two homeless heroes who helped Manchester attack victims."

IN THE COMMENTS: Paul Zrimsek attacks the very poorly written headline:
"The two homeless heroes who helped Manchester attack victims."

So it wasn't ISIS after all?

You'd think a place the size of Manchester would be capable of attacking a bunch of little girls without the aid of vagrants.

"Like some bizarre parody of a Trump rally, a belligerent man in a 'Make America Great Again' hat was booted off a plane in Shanghai Sunday..."

"... defiantly waving as a crowd of passengers jeered in the terminal: 'Lock him up! Lock him up!,'" WaPo reports.
“Obviously, the hat provoked some of the stuff,” said Alexis Zimmerman, who was flying back to Newark from a business trip... “He wanted to sit in the whole row by himself,” Zimmerman said.

Her video shows him leaning back in his seat — hands folded behind his red hat, feet propped on someone else’s arm rest — while a woman in crutches and many others stand in the aisle, snap photos and glare....

The man said he was a diabetic, Zimmerman said. But at one point, passengers said, he also dared the flight crew to cuff him and drag him off the plane — reminding other passengers of last month’s infamous deplaning, amid a barrage of in-plane horror stories that have plagued United and the rest of the airline industry in recent years....

“He was trying to explain to the crew and captain … because he had points, he felt he deserved an upgrade,” he said. “So this was his way of getting it.”
The Trump angle is interesting, and (unsurprisingly) the video shows the incident beginning after things had cranked up, but I'm not surprised if passengers behave badly, given the incentive of special treatment (upgrades) and nervous fear-of-litigation payoffs. 

IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan said:
Does the author know what a parody is? Where's the comic exaggeration? What is funny about "lock him up?" That's not parody; that's irony.

"It’s unclear whether Chinese police did jail the man or who he was." -- If we don't know who he was... what's the story?
Ah! This is why I have a tag "MSM reports what's in social media." The story is that something's in social media. And that's the end of it. La la la. How funny!
I mean, the guy sounds like a nutjob, if we believe everything that these people reported.

I mean... really? The guy wearing the MAGA hat engages in every leftist stereotype, even the cackling "I wasted your time!" like a cartoon villain?

"The man remained defiant until the end — jeered in multiple languages, surrounded by police, he finally walked down the concourse and out of sight to an unknown fate."

WHY is his fate unknown? You're a Goddamned News Reporter. If you're going to report this, at least have the bleepin' nerve to do your job and follow up on the story to find out WHO this guy is, WHAT happened to him, etc. As it is, this sounds like an urban legend, or maybe the Chinese disappeared the MAGA Man. Who knows? Who cares! WaPo got to publish a 5-minute hate.

Why don't we hear from the female passenger he berated, or the one he called a lesbian?

So many questions that a decent reporter could solve.
MSM is just traipsing along after social media, thinking that's what we must want. It will do that, then suddenly reel around and yell at us for not wanting to receive our news as curated by professional journalists.

May 23, 2017

"One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester."

ISIS claims credit.

ADDED: "[T]he man who blew himself up the previous night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, was 23-year-old Salman Abedi, who was known to British authorities prior to the attack."
There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn't try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concertgoers flooded out of the arena. Prime Minister May said the attacker had deliberately chosen "his time and place to cause maximum carnage" in the young crowd.

Goodbye to Roger Moore.

"Mr. Moore was the oldest Bond ever hired, taking on the role when he was 46. (Sean Connery, who originated the film character and with whom Mr. Moore was constantly compared, was 33.) He also had the longest run in the role, beginning in 1973 with 'Live and Let Die”' and winding up in 1985 with 'A View to a Kill.'"

ADDED: I don't know if I've ever blogged the obituary of a movie star whose movies I have never seen. The last James Bond movie I saw was "Diamonds Are Forever," the last Sean Connery Bond movie, which we went to see as basically a joke. It was 1971, and we thought James Bond was absurdly passé. So I never saw Moore as Bond or any of the other later Bonds. And I've looked over the list of Moore's movies, and I haven't seen a single one. I might have seen him in some late 50s/early 60s TV shows. (He appeared in a couple episodes of "77 Sunset Strip," which I watched, and I might have followed the season of "Maverick" with Beauregard Maverick.) I really feel no connection to Moore, but I'm guessing some of you may care a lot and want a place to talk about him, so here it is.

"Many of the commenters here show a bad trend in commenting. I wasn't awake and attempting to moderate..."

"... but I would like those who participated here to reflect on the dynamic among the commenters and let me know" — I wrote in the comments — "whether you see what I am talking about, whether you unwittingly contributed, whether you got off causing this to happen, or something in between. I would like to see comments that address the substance of the post, and this idea of calling out each other by name and doggedly insisting on always taking another shot and naming somebody who also needs to get the last shot, drives up the quantity of comments but makes them unreadable to anybody who's not among the named. If your name keeps coming up multiple times in comments threads, you are contributing to what I regard as a comments disease, and you need to help stop it or I will see you as doing it intentionally. It's shameful that you let this happen in a post about children being murdered.... If you keep finding yourself in what I call 'back and forth,' you need a new approach to commenting. There are a few people who regularly end up getting named in long back and forth and it's incredibly boring to read. I don't want that here. If you're one of these commenters and you don't understand why this is happening to you, then my advice is to think: substance.... Make your points alongside other people's points. You can respond to what other people say, but respond to the substance. Don't make it personal.... I'm only talking about the way people who are here in the comments name each other and go back and forth in a personal way. Instead of disagreeing with the substance, they frame their comment in the 'Jane, you ignorant slut' format...."

"The Democratic National Committee reported its worst April of fundraising since 2009..."

"... according to Federal Election Commission records released Monday."
[T]he drop in donations coincides with an effort by DNC Chair Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to rally support for the party. The two traveled the country on a "unity tour."
The DNC raised $4.7 million in April. Meanwhile, the RNC raised $9.6 million in April. The RNC has $41 million cash on hand. and the DNC $8.8 million. But Trump's in trouble. Wait for those midterms. The Dems will flip the House and the Senate. That's what I read in the MSM.

Incredible people and amazing monuments.

Trump spoke yesterday at the private residence of Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. Full transcript here. Excerpts:
[T]hank you for that beautiful tour. Melania is still talking about it.... This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God. I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people. Because it’s all about the people....
The themes are: 1. Love for the human beings, and 2. Respect for what is inanimate, this place. Everyone knows love for human beings come first. Here they are in this beautiful place. And he just came from another beautiful place:
In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world. He really does. I got to know him well, and he really does.
Really, really, really. Love, love, love. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
We are willing to work together. I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen.... It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.
Deals. That's his special skill. Making deals. But out there in his business life, he was on one side, trying to close a deal if he could get a good one and also willing to walk away. Here, he's the mediator between 2 sides, not making a deal of his own, and there's nowhere to walk away to, just an endless unmade deal in the same old place. But it's a beautiful, amazing place. Melania is still talking about it.

Those 2 words together like that.

Is it a big deal?
The Obama administration at least twice – in 2011 and then again last year – corrected photo captions and datelines that had read “Jerusalem, Israel” to “Jerusalem,” reflecting longstanding executive branch policy that the city should not be described as being in any country until there is a final status agreement. (Congress recognized the city as Israel’s capital in 1995.)

The George W. Bush administration also routinely captioned photos and listed the city on schedules and in news releases as simply “Jerusalem.”

As a candidate, Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, but since assuming the presidency he has retreated.
Maybe it was just — as with Obama — a mistake.

ADDED: In July 2012, when he was running for office, Mitt Romney said: “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."
That was a powerful statement, Jennifer Rubin writes, since the Obama administration has "repeatedly put out documents suggesting that Jerusalem isn’t in Israel and has attempted to scrub from the White House Web site the reference to Israel’s capital."

"If you have good luck with your instincts, you might as well trust them. It’s an emotional art form. It’s not an intellectual art form at all."

Said Clint Eastwood, talking about movies and himself, but he could also be talking about politics and Trump.

He also talked about humorlessness in connection with himself and movies...
“A lot of people thought ['Dirty Harry'] was politically incorrect. That was at the beginning of the era that we’re in now, where everybody thinks everyone’s politically correct. We’re killing ourselves by doing that. We’ve lost our sense of humor."
... and that could also be about politics and Trump.

Now, that doesn't mean that if Eastwood is right about his approach to movies that Trump is right about his approach to politics. Movies and politics are different! One man's movie could fail and it doesn't really matter except to him and to whoever invested in his project. We're all invested — whether we chose him or not — in the President of the United States.

To some extent, it's good for a politician to think that because he's had "good luck with [his] instincts" that he "might as well trust them." That seems like a pretty good statement of how Trump blew past 16 GOP rivals and made the final leap over the keeled-over shell of a woman that the Dems put up for a candidate. But to continue with nothing but trusting instincts and good luck when you're actually President — that would be utterly unethical. I'm not saying that is what Trump is doing, just that it better not be what he's doing.

The least relaxing thing about this work chair setup...

It looks like a dentist's office.

Waldkita — forest kindergarten — in Germany.

There are 1,500 of them in Germany.
Most have opened in the last 15 years and are usually located in the city’s parks, with a bare-bones structure serving as a sort of home base, but others... rely on public transportation to shuttle their charges daily out into the wilderness, where they spend most of the day, regardless of weather. Toys, typically disparaged at waldkitas, are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves. A 2003 Ph.D. dissertation by Peter Häfner at Heidelberg University showed that graduates of German forest kindergartens had a “clear advantage” over the graduates of regular kindergartens, performing better in cognitive and physical ability, as well as in creativity and social development.

The American journalist Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” is cited often by Robin Hood staff, as is “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature,” by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown. (“Savage Park,” by Amy Fusselman, is another book that chronicles uninhibited play and was inspired by a visit to an adventure playground in Tokyo.) The pedagogical philosophy of waldkitas, which privileges outdoor play and hands-on environmental learning, comes originally from Scandinavia, but, as one teacher put it to me, “they don’t make a big fuss about it like they do here.” The trend’s non-Teutonic origins are somewhat surprising: There might be nothing “more German” than a state-funded preschool based primarily in a forest....
I strongly support this approach to childhood education, but writing about it this morning — after the Ariana Grande concert, which was full of little girls — a sad thought occurred to me. Children who are outdoors never have to run for narrow exits and get crushed by larger people pressing toward the doorways. If you stay outside, it's easier to get away, and you'll be in the habit of moving with quick agility. And yet, the biggest terrorist attack that targeted children — that I can think of — took place in an outdoor setting — on a 26-acre, forested island.

May 22, 2017

"At least one explosion, which may have been a suicide bombing, thundered through a Manchester concert arena on Monday night just as a performance by the pop star Ariana Grande ended..."

"... in what the police described as a 'terrorist incident.' They said at least 19 people had been killed and 50 wounded as panicked spectators, including adolescents, screamed and fled."

The Washington Post writes an ambiguous headline.

"Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership."

When I opened the tag for that article (hours ago) I assumed that the professor got his membership terminated, but now I see I am wrong.
An Alexandria gym terminated the membership of white nationalist Richard Spencer last week after he was confronted by a Georgetown University professor who recognized him and lambasted him over his alt-right views.
Why was the person who got confronted terminated?

The professor, C. Christine Fair, of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, asked Spencer if he was Richard Spencer, and when he denied it (because he didn't want trouble, she said: "Of course you are, so not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi." And: "I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap... As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable."

Finally, as the professor tells it, the general manager told her she was creating a "hostile environment" at the gym, and "Fair responded that Spencer’s views create a 'hostile environment' for gym employees who are women and people of color." But later:
Fair said she was contacted by a corporate representative for the gym last week, who informed her that Spencer’s membership had been terminated. The gym wanted her to come in to provide more information about the incident.“I’d do it again,” she said of the episode. “I told the fellow, ‘I think we can have a deal here: You don’t let any more Nazis in, and I won’t be making a scene.’ ”

The work of thinking about doing the work.

The "mental load."

ADDED: Here's what I recommend doing if you find yourself in the household "manager" position, putting all the mental effort into noticing what needs to be done and planning ahead. Explain the issue to the other person. Talk about it. It's possible that he's carrying a mental load consisting of things you are not keeping track of. It's something you don't see each other doing. But if it's really true that he's only ever waiting to be asked, use your acquired manager position to assign him a fair share of tasks. Give him more than you keep for yourself to balance out the mental work. It's pretty easy nowadays — isn't it? — to text a list of things he needs to do. If a lot of your work is going about the house noticing and doing little things — such as picking up clutter — that are more work to assign than to do, just give him enough of the big tasks to compensate and equalize. If this managerial assigning approach is objected to, then he wasn't just waiting to be asked, so you've at least punctured that illusion.

"Are we able to stay at home and explore the meaning of the things around us, at least until the world has gotten a little more 'normal' again? "

"Pierre Bayard, a professor and psychoanalyst in Paris... may provide us with some additional requisite know-how on how to not lose face and even be comfortable with staying at home. In How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel, he dissects the reports of the likes of Marco Polo, Jules Verne, Karl May, on minute details of geographies they had never visited, to tell the reader they were wrong. He exposes the alternative reality they unfolded, but he doesn’t blame them: 'Ill-equipped to defend itself against wild animals, inclement weather or illness, the human body is clearly not made for leaving its usual habitat and even less so for traveling to lands far removed from those where God intended us to live.' And: 'We know from Freud and the works of other psychiatrists who have studied various travelers’ syndromes that traveling a long way from home is not only liable to provoke psychiatric problems: it can also drive you mad.'"

From "Between Everywhere and Nowhere/A little review of travel literature," by Bernd Brunner, which I'm reading mostly because it has something about Paul Theroux — "one of the grand doyens of travel writing... His passion for the foreign appears to have been lost, if only partly so" — whose novel "The Mosquito Coast" I started reading after seeing it likened to a movie I loved ("Captain Fantastic").

But I got interested in Bayard, and added How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel to my Kindle. Love the title, and I'm fascinated by the critique of travel, since I love to read and feel prodded to travel, and reading is so much faster and simpler than traveling.*

I had the vague feeling that I'd blogged about that book before, but it was another book by Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, which I blogged about without reading.


* You know me, I'm not up for a challenge.

"Suddenly, male actors who make other kinds of movies are ageing into mid-career obsolescence as quickly as female actors once did."

"The idea that ageism has caught up with their tiresome rock-star behaviour is almost as satisfying as watching Meryl Streep cruise nobly into her late 60s with a full dance card of upcoming productions."

Big game hunter dies...

... when an elephant that had been shot falls on top of him.

"There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing."

I said earlier this morning, after starting the day with a post about the Trump orb and then a post about that statue of Karl Marx — you can see it here — that China gave to Trier, German (Marx's birthplace).

I still haven't taught myself how to photoshop 2 images together, but my complaint about how I was too lazy to learn somehow lit a fire under Rick Lee, and he made this:

Rick Lee is a professional photographer. You can see his website here.

And I know you might ask what that new image is even supposed to mean. Uh... late capitalism!

ADDED: Since Rick is a professional photographer, accepting this image made me think of something I saw yesterday that amused me: "Tired Of Being Asked To Work For Free, This Artist Started Drawing These Client Requests."

"I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian."

"Does he really do the things that he's saying or is that his act? And in Donald's case, I equated it that way. When he said what he said, I'd like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I'd have called the FBI."

Billy Bush speaks.

I think a lot of people don't get Trump's statements because they don't understand the humor. But why should they? They don't want to let him off the hook more than they don't want to look like they have no sense of humor.

There's the famous feminist punchline: That's not funny

I think it's important to perceive the humor, so you can understand why he says some of the weird things he does. You don't have to think it's funny or have a taste for that kind of humor, but you should understand that it is humor, unless you have some reason to want to stand on your obtuseness. It could serve some political purpose that you like, perhaps for yourself, perhaps for others. But if you can understand how a statement is humor and you engage in speech that treats it as if it is intended to be taken seriously because you find it useful for other people not to see the humor, you are a propagandist.

"A precedent of this Court should not be treated like a disposable household item—say, a paper plate or napkin — to be used once and then tossed in the trash."

"But that is what the Court does today in its decision regarding North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District: The Court junks a rule adopted in a prior, remarkably similar challenge to this very same congressional district."

Writes Justice Alito in the dissenting opinion to Cooper v. Harris, a 5-3 opinion released today.

About that Orb...

"Here it is..."

A hit of the Orb to MisterBuddwing, in the comments to "The Orb," about that Orb...

Morning light and shadows...

... on Meade's alliums:




Trump at the Western Wall.

Raw video:

"It is important to note that Mr. Albee wrote Nick as a Caucasian character, whose blonde hair and blue eyes are remarked on frequently in the play, even alluding to Nick’s likeness as that of an Aryan of Nazi racial ideology."

“Furthermore, Mr. Albee himself said on numerous occasions when approached with requests for nontraditional casting in productions of ‘Virginia Woolf’ that a mixed-race marriage between a Caucasian and an African-American would not have gone unacknowledged in conversations in that time and place and under the circumstances in which the play is expressly set by textual references in the 1960s."

Said the letter from the estate of Edward Albee, quoted in a NYT article about the refusal to grant rights for a Portland, Oregon production "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" with a black actor cast in the secondary role of Nick (the character George Segal played in the movie with Richard Burton in the leading male role).

"Why the Phrase 'Late Capitalism' Is Suddenly Everywhere/An investigation into a term that seems to perfectly capture the indignities and absurdities of the modern economy."

By Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic.
A job advertisement celebrating sleep deprivation? That’s late capitalism. Free-wheeling Coachella outfits that somehow all look the same and cost thousands of dollars? Also late capitalism. Same goes for this wifi-connected $400 juicer that does no better than human hands, Pepsi’s advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, United Airlines’ forcible removal of a seated passenger who just wanted to go home, and the glorious debacle that was the Fyre Festival. The phrase—ominous, academic, despairing, sarcastic—has suddenly started showing up everywhere.

This publication has used “late capitalism” roughly two dozen times in recent years, describing everything from freakishly oversized turkeys to double-decker armrests for steerage-class plane seats. The New Yorker is likewise enamored of it, invoking it in discussions of Bernie Sanders and fancy lettuces, among other things. There is a wildly popular, year-old Reddit community devoted to it, as well as a Facebook page, a Tumblr, and a lively Twitter hashtag. Google search interest in its has more than doubled in the past year....
Read the whole thing to understand how the usage of the term has changed over time. It used to be more of an intellectual, analytical, dark Marxist term. Now, it's more just gesturing at various absurdities of whatever it is we're doing these days.

I loved the Tumblr page, by the way. The total effect must be experienced at the link. I'll just pass on one perfect image:

"What’s the best part of trucking?"/"Freedom. Oh my God, I cannot tell you."

From a NYT collection of interviews with truck drivers: "Alone on the Open Road: Truckers Feel Like ‘Throwaway People’/President Trump ignited a national discussion of blue-collar jobs./Truck driving, once a road to the middle class, is now low-paying, grinding, unhealthy work. We talked with drivers about why they do it."

The "throwaway people" line came from a 54-year-old man who is the one interviewee who doesn't appear in the photograph that goes with his words. The line I quoted in the title came from a 33-year-old man who is a co-owner-operator.

Why am I too lazy to learn photoshop?

There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing. If I took one day, I'm sure I could learn it, and yet I feel if I can't do it right now, it just doesn't matter anymore. But why not learn it today, so I'd be ready the next time some idea hits me? But that's the nature of my form of laziness kicks in: I'm completely industrious about everything I can do right now, but unwilling to prepare to do something in the future.

You might think this attitude seems immature and childish, but it's actually pretty appropriate in the old. 

"Maybe a certain naïveté is not always bad if it prevents over-interpretation, so you don’t always dissect things in detail and suspect everything."

Said Wolfram Leibe, the mayor of Trier, Germany, where Karl Marx was born. He's talking about the town's acceptance of a gift, a 18-foot-tall statue of Karl Marx, to be erected in a public square, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth. Leibe asserts that “It was a gesture of friendship and has nothing to do with ideology,” and yet he recounts the statement of the sculptor, Wei Weishan, on seeing the square: "This square is too small and cramped. Karl Marx was a great man and we can’t put him in a small square." 

The NYT reports, noting that "[m]illions* died in Communist political campaigns after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, and in a famine precipitated by an effort to collectivize agriculture in the late 1950s," but "Marx is officially revered in China."

The article also quotes Chang Ping, "a Chinese journalist who has lived in exile in Germany since 2011":
“This is not just a question of commemorating a historical figure. It’s also a question of how to deal with the Chinese government’s ambition to shine on the world stage. I think that I can see better than ordinary Germans the hideous grin behind the statue that is to be erected in Trier, and the threat it represents to the civilized political cultures of the world.”
And Geremie Barmé, "a founder of the Wairarapa Academy for New Sinology in New Zealand, the sculpture is an expression of party power":
“The Germans’ suggestion was for an early, humane, humanist Marx, a source for change in China — not the heroic, sclerotic, formalized Marx used for party purposes that Wu offered. Since we’re the only one that’s been successful and adapted Marxism to state leadership, we’ll tell you what it’s about.”
Meanwhile, in America, we're not putting up statues of heroes — revered or rejected — we're taking them down.


* "Millions" is not an adequate way to express what is something more like 45 or 65 million.

The Orb.

"'One orb to rule them all': image of Donald Trump and glowing globe perplexes internet."

The longer view:

ADDED: The "orb" is a globe, and I've already compared Trump to Chaplin in "The Great Dictator." Back in January, when this photograph was installed at the Smithsonian...

I said, "Nice picture. Especially because the apple represents the geographic place Trump dominated, it makes me think of Chaplin tossing the globe around in 'The Great Dictator'":

May 21, 2017

Trump isn't telling them what to do, but he is telling them what to do.

Here's the full transcript of Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia, which I listened to live. I want to pick out a few things:
I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope....
Trump selects a theme of hope — not, say, carnage, which some people think was the theme of his inaugural address. He doesn't think that, of course. In fact, he brings up his inaugural, as if its theme was also hope:
In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America's oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.... Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.
3 things there that will recur throughout the speech: 1. He's not going to tell them what to do, 2. We all have children and our children are the future, and 3. He knows something of what God thinks.

Idea #1 repeats:


On "Face the Nation" today, the key word was "nervous":
ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS & SURVEYS DIRECTOR: [The people who were conditional supporters of Trump have] an increasing feeling of nervousness that they say that they feel this is back to the idea that -- that this relates -- this investigation relates to the president's judgement and temperament…. But that said, everyone that we re-interviewed [was] increasingly nervous, saying that's the word they consistently use, that they're getting more and more nervous about what the administration is doing… [F]olks who were on the fence are sort of coming over to that firmer opposition, in part because of... that nervousness....

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": … I spent most of my week talking to Republicans on Capitol hill and their staff and people around the Congress and… they're very nervous when -- when Anthony was talking about the -- the nervous Trump curious voters out there in the country, that was very much the vibe I got from Capitol Hill Republicans. They really still want him to be something that he hasn't been so far. They are incredibly nervous by all of these things happening….

RAMESH PONNURU, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": [O]ne of the things that's happening with congressional Republicans is, look, they've got this feeling in the pit of their stomach. They wish the president would act in different ways, but they are keenly aware that the vast majority of Republican voters across the country, including the voters in their districts, still supports this president. And you will see a pattern where the House Republicans who are in swing seats are more nervous. The senators who are in blue or purple states are more nervous. But the bulk of Republicans don't fit into either of those categories and they're nervous but they're still going to be supporting this president....

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: [T]hey're nervous and what about the agenda? Are they nervous about that too?… They're nervous about an unpredictable president, but what about the future in terms of getting stuff done?

Watch Trump's Saudi Arabia speech — about to stream live.

"Spiteful and destructive... sophomoric and petty."

Insulting words from one critic of Maine Governor Paul LePage, who declines to put up signs marking the way to Katahdin Woods and Waters — which Obama designated a national monument — because the Trump administration might reverse Obama's decision. LePage says Obama made "a horrible, horrible decision" and resists spending "taxpayers’ money" on signage that might not be permanent.  to signage or any type of project without knowing that it [the monument] is in place and that everyone is on board with it,” he said.

The land was donated to the federal government by the family that rich on the Burt’s Bees brand, and it's one family member — Lucas St Clair — who supplied those adjectives I put in the post title.

ADDED: Speaking of family fortunes, I wonder if LePage is related to the mucilage people:

"It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever."

"But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel."
When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.
Redefining forever: turns out to be only 9 years.

And there wasn't even a disaster, just one unusually hot season, in the end of 2016, when temperatures were over 7C above normal. Is it scientifically sound to refer to the temperatures in one season as caused by global warming? And speaking of what's scientific, they obviously were conning us with claims about the impregnability of the Global Seed Vault.

Trump in Arabia — the raw footage.

Scene 1:  

The 81-year-old King walks — with a cane — to greet President Trump:

It was 100+ degrees in Riyadh yesterday. The old king may be used to it, and he's got loose, mostly white clothing, but what keeps Trump and Melania — in their cinched black outfits — from keeling over? (Hillary keeled over on 9/11 when it was only 79°.)

Scene 2: 

Trump bobs to the rhythm alongside the Saudis doing the old "sword dance" (not real swords though, right? (because how could the Secret Service permit that?)):

Trump's moving without really doing the dance is reminiscent of his (sometimes mocked) swaying at the African American church:

And how did Tillerson and Wilbur Ross look doing the sword dance, with Priebus and Bannon wistfully wallflowering:

Scene 3:  

Trump gets a medal (does he bow or does he figure out some other body-lowering move so people wouldn't say he bowed (except all the haters (of course, they said he bowed)?):

Here's the famous Obama bow to the king (done in greeting, not by necessity if you want to receive a medal (not that Trump's people couldn't have nixed the medal-giving)):

May 20, 2017

Comey's delicate stomach: connecting "just completely disgusted" with "mildly nauseous."

An emailer connected these 2 expressions of Comey's, and I subsequently noticed this comment in last night's post about Comey's "just completely disgusted" remark, from hombre:
July 5, 2016. That was the day that anyone with integrity and associated with, or knowledgeable about, law enforcement understood that Comey was a lapdog for his Democrat masters.

His sanctimonious posturing makes me a lot more than "mildly nauseous."
The "mildly nauseous" phrase came from Comey's May 5, 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (He said "It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election." July 5, 2016 was the date Comey determined that "no reasonable prosecutor" would proceed against Hillary Clinton over the email matter.)

And I found this from CNN last night connecting the recent "just completely disgusted" with "mildly nauseous." They played a clip of Comey's friend Benjamin Witte saying:
Comey really did not want to go to that meeting. He just really doesn't believe that the president and the FBI director should, you know, have any kind of social relationship or, you know, shows of warmth…. And so if you watch the video, he extends his hand and Comey's arms are really long and he extends his hand kind of preemptively and Trump grabs the hand and kind of pulls him into a hug but the hug is entirely one-sided. Comey was just completely disgusted by [OTHER VOICE: Disgusted?] disgusted by the episode. He thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public.
After some discussion, the host Chris Cuomo said: "[L]et's not forget who James Comey is in our political context. He said was -- felt, you know, nauseated by it. He was also seen nauseous -- as inducing nausea -- by Democrats for what he did."

Disgust and nausea are synonymous. I think it's interesting — but what exactly does it mean? — that Comey expresses himself with the metaphor of an aversion to or a revulsion after eating. I don't know how enlightening that might be about his psychology. As you think about it, you might want to factor in the vivid, horrible experience Comey had when he was 16.