January 19, 2019

At the Deep Snow Café...


... you can talk all night.

"BuzzFeed's report... as written, was as clean as it gets: Trump directed Cohen to lie about the Trump Tower in Moscow project, and there’s tons of evidence to support that."

"Very rarely has a story been so unequivocal — usually there are more hedges and acknowledgments of what isn't known. And unlike most other reportage in this saga, this accused the president of a felony — a very different bar. Democrats read the story and began immediately dreaming up articles of impeachment. Even some conservatives joined the 'If true' chorus...."

Writes Axios in "A reckoning for political journalism" (also reporting that BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith is standing by his story, saying "We literally don't know what the special counsel is referring to" and "This is a line of reporting that has been repeatedly vindicated").

Badgers beat Michigan.

That was amusing.

"President Trump plans to use remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room on Saturday afternoon to propose a notable immigration compromise, according to sources familiar with the speech."

"The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.... Advocates for the plan argue that by offering the new proposal, Trump is showing he’s willing to negotiate while Pelosi remains unmoved. But even some top Republicans are skeptical Trump's overture will be enough to break the logjam."

Says Axios.

Even if its not "enough to break the logjam," it's enough to allow him to say I offered a specific compromise and you didn't... unless and until they do make a specific counteroffer.

"[Kamala] Harris is not, of course, alone in possessing 'baggage' that will attract criticism from within her own party and intense media scrutiny."

"Joe Biden famously has enough baggage to derail a train’s luggage car. Critics of Bernie Sanders always suspected that conservatives built a massive oppo research file on the Vermont socialist that they would have pushed with hundreds of millions of dollars of negative 'stories' and ads had he won the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, matching or exceeding the damage they did to Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren has struggled to overcome the stupid but pervasive 'Pocohontas' taunt, along with persistent (if probably sexist) doubts about her 'likability.' Cory Booker’s past links with Wall Street and support for private school vouchers will be a problem for him. Both Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand are vulnerable to the kind of 'flip-flopper' charges that tend to undermine voter trust. And Amy Klobuchar’s history of high staff turnover has spurred rumors about her personality and temperament.... [I]t’s best for Democrats to deal with the baggage now rather than later...."

Writes Ed Kilgore in "2020 Candidates Carry Heavy Baggage, and Trump Will Everything He Can to Exploit That" (which begins with the NYT op-ed about Kamala Harris that we talked about here 2 days ago).

"Video footage showed dozens of people in an almost festive atmosphere gathered in a field where a duct had been breached by fuel thieves. Footage then showed..."

"... flames shooting high into the air against a night sky and the pipeline ablaze. Screaming people ran from the explosion, some themselves burning and waving their arms.... Lost shoes were scattered around the scorched field, as were plastic jugs and jerry cans that the victims had carried to gather spilling fuel. 'Ay, no, where is my son?' wailed Hugo Olvera Estrada, whose 13-year-old son, Hugo Olvera Bautista, was at the spot where the fire erupted. Wrapped in a blanket outside a clinic, the man had already gone to six local hospitals looking for his child...."

From "At least 66 dead in massive Mexico gas pipeline blast; 85 still missing" (AP).

People are criticizing Gladys Knight for accepting the invitation to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

CNN reports.

My reaction is, in this order: 1. Don't criticize Gladys Knight, 2. Don't make singing the National Anthem into a bad thing, 3. The question of protesting the National Anthem is separate, and if you want to defend the players who have been protesting, you're making a big leap if you go from arguing that the protest is respectful, respectable, and permissible to saying that protest is required and anyone not protesting is to be disrespected, 4. Those who are making that big leap are confirming the fears of the kind of people who worry that once something is permitted we're on a slippery slope to its being required.

The Daily Beast calls this — from Bill Maher — a "sexual harassment meltdown."

I'm reading "UNBELIEVABLE/Bill Maher Has Sexual-Harassment Meltdown Over Bernie Sanders Story on ‘Real Time’/The HBO host appeared to minimize the allegations of sexual harassment in Bernie Sanders’ campaign, saying, 'It didn’t seem like it was the worst kind of sexual harassment'" — about this segment on last night's show:

I hate the overuse of the term "meltdown," which I believe used to be more common. I don't like the implication that a person speaking with passion is becoming mentally incompetent. In fact, I'd prefer to promote a counter-theory — that a person speaking in a flat, emotionless manner is lacking full mental competence. (He's not engaged, he's not expressing something that he really thinks, he's mechanically mouthing rote nothings.)

A lot goes on in that short sequence. Maher says Democrats are hurting themselves too much by attacking their own over things that aren't really all that bad. He says things like: "If the Democrats are going to keep killing their own—Al Franken, Eliot Spitzer, Gore didn’t support Clinton from the blowjob horror—I don’t know where it ends."

He gets a lot of pushback from Catherine Rampell (a WaPo columnist). And Barney Frank is there and quite amusing taking Maher to task for saying that the Sanders campaign worker may have misread "signals." The idea that women are "signalling" deserves examination and gets it.

Meanwhile, at HuffPo, they're attacking Bill Maher over something else: "Bill Maher Jokes About Penetration Between Donald Trump And Vladimir Putin":
"He did nothing when they told him Russia was meddling in our elections, he fired Comey when he was looking into that shit, he wants to get out of NATO, he met Putin five times," Maher said. “That’s a lot of times in just a couple of years, always with nobody around. Nobody can know what they’re doing. Forget collusion, I want to know if there’s penetration”...

Joe Rogan rants about the Gillette "toxic masculinity" commercial...

... and — within 3 minutes — gets on to the topic of southern accents and the fact that — because of the internet — there are now "cool people everywhere":

IN THE COMMENTS: Tim in Vermont says:
“Toxic masculinity” is either sloppy language, or a slur against all men.
I've been meaning to write a post about the phrase. There is a big problem with it, because there are basically 2 ways to understand it and one is so offensive that it should probably be avoided, because if you mean the one that I think is okay, you're still likely to be misunderstood and you are — even if only unwittingly — emitting some hate vibes.

The okay meaning sees the adjective "toxic" in "toxic masculinity" like the adjective "red" in "red shoes." It identifies a subcategory — the shoes that are red (as opposed to all the many other shoes) and the masculinity that is toxic (as opposed to all the other masculinity).

The hateful meaning sees the adjective "toxic" in "toxic masculinity" like the adjective "beloved" in "beloved country." You're referring to one thing — one country or masculinity as a single concept — and you're branding it as "beloved" or "toxic."

Let me use a survey to try to understand how you have been reading the term. I have not found the Gillette commercial hateful, and a lot of you have disagreed with me, and I suspect it's because I'm hearing the okay meaning and you're hearing the hateful meaning. (You can watch the commercial at that link.)

When you hear "toxic masculinity" in the Gillette commercial, what meaning do you hear?
pollcode.com free polls

I will ignore... and resist...

It's sentence-diagramming time at Althouse. Today's sentence comes from Roger Cohen in a NYT column titled "The Strange Persistent Troubling Russian Hang-Up of Donald Trump":
I will ignore the hermetic sealing of Trump’s personality against decency, and resist the temptation to riff on Abraham Lincoln’s brooding portrait in the White House dining room above the buffoon in chief with his burgers, to ask a simple question: If President Donald Trump is a Russian asset, what would he be working to achieve?
I'm just into examining that as a sentence because, as the post title reveals, I am exasperated with the get-Trump enterprise.

But let me say something about punctuation. The commas after "decency" and "burgers" are not right, especially if you're going to be as comma-averse as to write "The Strange Persistent Troubling Russian Hang-Up of Donald Trump."

And my resistance is not strong enough to keep me from saying if you're going to pontificate about strange persistent troubling hang-ups of Donald Trump, you need to pause now and then and consider  strange persistent troubling hang-ups about Donald Trump.

By the way, I wonder whether some people — ordinary people who don't really want to have to follow politics too much — are going to be influenced in the 2020 election to vote against Trump just to help all the strangely persistently troublingly hung-up people.

"CNN anchor John King asked on Friday if it matters that taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for Karen Pence's housing and Secret Service protection if the vice president's wife is teaching at a private school that seeks to exclude LGBTQ students and staff members."

Sometimes I read something that gives me an instant headache. A literal headache. This was one of those times. The article is in The Hill.

"But on Friday, Trump and Pence spoke again. And again, some said they were unhappy to associate the antiabortion movement with a president they dislike."

I'm reading the Washington Post article about yesterday's March for Life, "Trump and Pence give surprise addresses at antiabortion March for Life."
[L]last year, when Trump addressed the crowd, some complained that the polarizing president distanced those who aren’t fans of Trump from the antiabortion movement. In this shifting environment, the march leaders picked science as their theme this year — under the headline, “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.”

March for Life president Jeanne Mancini and other leaders of the movement said before the march that they wanted to include a politically diverse audience of anyone who opposes abortion — which, according to polling, includes at least a quarter of Democratic voters, although antiabortion Democrats in Congress are a rapidly dwindling group. ...

“I think the most dangerous thing we ever did is make this a partisan issue. It’s a human rights issue,” said Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, 35, president of a group called New Wave Feminists that brought about 50 marchers to the event....
How many marchers were there? The first sentence of the article gives the only clue: "President Trump and Vice President Pence surprised thousands of protesters demonstrating against abortion on the Mall in Washington...." Thousands? That surprised me because I searched for a news story on the 2019 March for Life after I happened across this aerial video of a mindbogglingly huge crowd.

How many people am I seeing in that video? I googled "how many people at March For Life 2019," looking for another news report. First, I clicked on USA Today:
Thousands of anti-abortion activists, including many young people bundled up against the cold weather gripping the nation's capital, gathered at a stage on the National Mall Friday for their annual march in the long-contentious debate over abortion.

CNN: "Crowds of people packed the National Mall on Friday for the March for Life, an annual march against abortion." Crowds!

Is the video I looked at fake news?

Anyway, here's the video and text of Trump's address (which, unlike Pence's, was presented on video at the event). Excerpt:
This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life. When we look into the eyes of a newborn child, we see the beauty and the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation. We know that every life has meaning and that every life is worth protecting, As president, I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence -- the right to life.
Did he mention the science theme — "Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science"? That's debatable. He said: "Every child is a sacred gift from God. As this year's March For Life theme says, each person is unique from Day One." He said "unique from Day One," which is the proposition some of the speakers discussed in scientific terms. But he doesn't say "science," and his stated support for the proposition is religious: "Every child is a sacred gift from God."

January 18, 2019

At the Red Eye Café...

... you can stay up all night.

(And remember that you can use the Althouse Portal for your Amazon shopping.)

"Mueller Statement Disputes Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie."

The NYT reports.
The rare public statement by a spokesman for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, challenged the facts of an article published by BuzzFeed News on Thursday evening saying that Mr. Cohen had told prosecutors about being pressured by the president before his congressional testimony.

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said the spokesman, Peter Carr.

The Buzzfeed report led to a flurry of statements by senior members of Congress before Mr. Carr’s statement who said that the allegations, if true, could be grounds for initiating impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump....
Never mind. How embarrassing for the Trump haters. I didn't even write about the Buzzfeed story myself. I'm so jaded about the latest impeachment bait.

"When Keizer and the nurse who was to assist him arrived, they found around 35 people gathered around the dying man’s bed."

"'They were drinking and guffawing and crying,' Keizer told me when I met him in Amsterdam recently. 'It was boisterous. And I thought: "How am I going to cleave the waters?" But the man knew exactly what to do. Suddenly he said, "OK, guys!" and everyone understood. Everyone fell silent. The very small children were taken out of the room and I gave him his injection. I could have kissed him, because I wouldn’t have known how to break up the party.' Keizer is one of around 60 physicians on the books of the Levenseindekliniek, or End of Life Clinic, which matches doctors willing to perform euthanasia with patients seeking an end to their lives, and which was responsible for the euthanasia of some 750 people in 2017. For Keizer, who was a philosopher before studying medicine, the advent of widespread access to euthanasia represents a new era. 'For the first time in history,' he told me, 'we have developed a space where people move towards death while we are touching them and they are in our midst. That’s completely different from killing yourself when your wife’s out shopping and the kids are at school and you hang yourself in the library – which is the most horrible way of doing it, because the wound never heals. The fact that you are a person means that you are linked to other people. And we have found a bearable way of severing that link, not by a natural death, but by a self-willed ending. It’s a very special thing.'"

From "Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far?/Countries around the world are making it easier to choose the time and manner of your death. But doctors in the world’s euthanasia capital are starting to worry about the consequences" (The Guardian).

Some weary sighers and defeated shruggers are telling The Atlantic that only a shocking disaster can end the shutdown.

I'm reading "Waiting for a Shutdown to End in Disaster/Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table", from McKay Coppins:
The basic theory—explained to me between weary sighs and defeated shrugs—goes like this: Washington is at an impasse that looks increasingly unbreakable.... For a deal to shake loose in this environment, it may require a failure of government so dramatic, so shocking, as to galvanize public outrage and force the two parties back to the negotiating table.

[T]he one theme that ran through every conversation was a sense that the current political dynamics won’t change until voters get a lot angrier.... [O]ne congressional staffer who wondered aloud whether it might take a stressed-out air-traffic controller causing a plane crash to bring an end to the shutdown. And several aides worried that some kind of terrorist incident would end up serving as the catalyst to get the government up and running again....

If one thing unites most Republicans and Democrats on the Hill these days, it’s that there is little use in trying to negotiate in good faith with the Trump White House. The president is simply too volatile, too prone to change his mind in a fit of pique, too apt to reverse course after watching Fox News....
ADDED: I'm trying to understand "little use in trying to negotiate in good faith." I realize the author must want to say that Trump is in bad faith. But being "volatile" — or, redundantly, "prone to change" and  "apt to reverse course" — is not in itself in bad faith. It's a style of negotiating, and I suppose it's annoying and hard to match and beat, but "bad faith" entails deception and fraud. Perhaps the author means that Trump's negotiating style is so effective that those on the other side of the deal feel that if they "negotiate in good faith," they'll lose, and that's why there's "little use in trying" their usual techniques. 

Harry Truman said "If you can't stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen." Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says...

"It’s not the kitchen that’s popular, or the cooking that’s popular, it’s that I’m engaging people doing something I’m already doing." She was instructing her colleagues on how to do social media.

Here's the background on the Truman quote, from the Truman Library (where, if you click, you'll get a message that the site isn't being updated regularly because of the federal government shutdown, so this might not be the latest on Harry Truman):
One of the results of this system is that it gives the President a good many hot potatoes to handle--but the President gets a lot of hot potatoes from every direction anyhow, and a man who can't handle them has no business in that job. That makes me think of a saying that I used to hear from my old friend and colleague on the Jackson County Court. He said, "Harry, if you can't stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen." I'll say that is absolutely true.
For Truman, "the kitchen" was metaphorical. It meant the hard, complicated, stressful work of politics. For Ocasio-Cortez, it's literally the kitchen. She's talking about her highly successful Instagramming of herself in her kitchen:

And she's comparing herself favorable to Elizabeth Warren, whose stilted get-me-a-beer kitchen performance was so awkwardly wrong:

But AOC does pull out the old Harry Truman metaphor when cornered:

In my previous post, which is also about AOC's advice on doing social media, I focused on her word of wisdom: "If you’re an older woman, talk like an older woman talks." I wonder if she accepts the corollary: "If you’re a younger woman, talk like a younger woman talks." Because "If you can't stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen" is the way an old man talks.

"If you’re an older woman, talk like an older woman talks" — instructs Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez...

... in her lesson to Congresspeople on how to do Twitter.

Oh! Was that failing to talk like the generic "older woman" while being the specific older woman I readily admit I am?

Goodness gracious! I ought to withdraw from the fray and make toast and tea.

To be fair to AOC, she also said, "Don’t try to be anybody who you’re not" and "The top tip, I think, is really to be yourself and to really write your own tweets so that people know it’s you talking."

I agree with that advice, but I observe that it can only be followed by people who have a real self that anyone wants to hear talking.

And by the way, the proposition extends beyond social media. It applies to in-person talking — interviews and rallies. I want to feel that the words come from the brain of the person I'm seeing talking. It's something we expect from people we know in our ordinary life, and we have a well-tuned sense of who's being genuine and who's a phony. That's why we hate politicians instinctively.

Roll over, Beto, ven vill you go away?

Just a second post on the same topic as the last one because I thought of an alternative title.

Making Beto go away.

They know they have to do it. Here's what the early-stage ousting looks like on Drudge:

Reading the links (in order):

1. "MEDIA TURNING AGAINST 'BABBLING' BETO..." = "Preseason is over for Beto O'Rourke" (Carter Eskew in WaPo, reprinted at CT):
The nation's best and toughest reporters have his number and want nothing more than to take his measure and knock him down.... The love bubble surrounding O'Rourke is leaking. To his would-be Democratic rivals, he's no longer the scrappy, truth-telling, unifying underdog. He is now an upstart who threatens what they have spent years coveting. He is coming after what they think they deserve and he hasn't earned. And right now, there are smart operatives with deep media contacts from several campaigns who are talking smack to anyone who will listen.
2. "CNN: DRIPS WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE..." = "Beto's excellent adventure drips with white male privilege" (Nia-Malika Henderson, at CNN):
Imagine this: A 46-year-old former congresswoman and mother of three, who just lost a Senate bid to one of the most despised incumbents, sets off on a road trip adventure to clear her head. She instagrams part of her trip to the dentist. She gives a two-hour interview to The Washington Post where she shows no real knowledge of policy. Like a first-year college student, she pontificates on whether the Constitution is still a thing that matters after all these many years. And then she writes a stream of consciousness diary entry, where she is all in her sad and confused feelings, over ... something...

And Jack Kerouac-style, he roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world. This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have. But O'Rourke, tall, handsome, white and male, has this latitude, to be and do anything. His privilege even allows him to turn a loss to the most despised candidate of the cycle into a launching pad for a White House run. Stacey Abrams, a Yale-trained lawyer, couldn't do this.....
3. "'Draft' Video Hits Web..." = "Group aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video" (The Hill).

I watched this video before absorbing the message that it's not an ad by Beto himself but by "Draft Beto, a group of Democratic activists urging former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) to run for president." My reaction? I love the song ("Baba O'Riley"), but I doubt if the group got The Who's permission to use it, and it comes across as very "white male," so maybe it's subversively trying to wreck his chances. See #2, above.