November 14, 2018

At the Breakfast Club Café...



... what are you seeing as you want to see — in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions?

CNN: "Trump says he's not a racist. That's not how white nationalists see it."

"White supremacists are saying they were winners in last week's midterm elections."

Why did some Wisconsin high school boys give what looks like a Nazi salute in the prom photos.



This explanation makes sense of it, and I would let these boys have their lives back:



Here's what I'm seeing in my local paper: "Twitter recap: World's eyes on Baraboo High School after Nazi salute photo goes viral."

Here's the ending of "The Breakfast Club," and here's the famous freeze-frame gesture that, we're told, the photographer wanted to get from the boys:



If I understand the explanation given, some of the boys didn't understand and the photographer, in the course of explaining, extended his arm to point to a section of the group, and his pointing gesture happened to look like the Nazi salute, and some of the boys believed the photographer was demonstrating the gesture he wanted. I would accept that explanation, in the spirit of mercy, and end the grotesque titillation of this viral interlude and stop exploiting young people for idle entertainment and propagation of fear of racism. It's incredibly stupid, but hey look, the "Breakfast Club" statue is giving the Nazi salute:



ADDED: Raise your hand at your own peril. In the freeze-frame, those looking for Nazi salutes may see Nazi salutes:

"Scientists behind a major study that claimed the Earth's oceans are warming faster than previously thought now say their work contained inadvertent errors..."

"... that made their conclusions seem more certain than they actually are. Two weeks after the high-profile study was published in the journal Nature, its authors have submitted corrections to the publication. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, home to several of the researchers involved, also noted the problems in the scientists' work and corrected a news release on its website, which previously had asserted that the study detailed how the Earth’s oceans 'have absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought.'... The central conclusion of the study... is in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions...."

WaPo reports. 

I wonder how much overstatement of certain happens because of a pull to see things "in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions." Can someone study that — in an unbiased, scientific way?

ADDED: The most-liked comments at WaPo are in line with other WaPo most-liked comments and therefore exactly what I expected.

Trump's racial rhetoric flares up again.



He tweets: "It was my great honor to host a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, in the Roosevelt Room at the @WhiteHouse this afternoon. Very, very special people!"

We are all equal, Mr. Trump. There are no very, very special people.

"A group of LGBT migrants who were part of the massive caravan slowly marching toward the U.S. made it to the coastal border city of Tijuana on Sunday."

Reports NPR. I'm surprised to see NPR using the word "marching," which reinforces the idea that the caravan is an invading army. But maybe the NPR writer is thinking of something more like a civil rights march. We're told this group of 80, "the majority of whom identify as LGBT, splintered off from the larger group in Mexico City after weeks of what they say was discriminatory treatment by local residents and other travelers."
The LGBT migrants gravitated toward one another within the caravan and began organizing en route.... "When we entered Mexican territory, those organizations began to help us. We did not contact them; they learned from our group thanks to the media and decided to help us," [Honduran migrant Cesar] Mejia said.

On Sunday the group arrived at an upscale neighborhood called Coronado in Playas de Tijuana just a few miles from the San Diego port of entry.... "We want to do things in order, in the right way," Mejia told reporters. He said the LGBT group plans to request asylum at the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa ports of entry. "We are waiting for our representatives," he added.

If it's true that "Trump's Talk of Caravan 'Invasion' Disappears After Midterms"....

fullsizeoutput_2d80

... which is what I'm seeing on MSNBC right now, then the question is not merely why did Trump stop talking about it, but why does MSNBC want to bring it up? I think the answer to both questions is easy, and the answer to the second question is valuable even if it turns out that Trump hasn't stopped talking about the "Caravan 'Invasion.'" MSNBC wants a daily influx raw material that can be manufactured into the proposition that Trump is a racist whose power comes from racists wanting more racism. Trump's talk of the "Caravan 'Invasion'" worked as that raw material for MSNBC and now Trump's lack of talk works to the same end.

As I said 2 days ago:
It reminds me of a little game I used to play with my sons when they were adolescents called What if you had to argue? It challenged you to argue for a proposition that isn't true and doesn't even make sense. The game showed again and again — and comically — that you can state arguments for anything. I feel as though the press is playing a game of What if you had to argue? and the proposition is always The last thing Trump did is outrageous. But it's not a known and understood comical exercise. It's the only press we have.
So the proposition is Trump is a racist whose power comes from racists wanting more racism. MSNBC looks at what new material is available. When the material was that Trump was talking about the "Caravan 'Invasion,'" and MSNBC used that to argue for the proposition. But when the material is that Trump hasn't talked about the "Caravan 'Invasion'" in the last few days, MSNBC will use that material to argue for the proposition. If Trump now talks about the "Caravan 'Invasion,'" MSNBC will continue to play What if you had to argue? and the talk, like the previous silence, will show that Trump is a racist whose power comes from racists wanting more racism.

November 13, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything you want.

"Amazon Is Getting $1.5 Billion to Come to Queens."

The NYT questions whether it's worth it for New York to hand the big corporation all that money.
“Either you are creating jobs or you are losing jobs,” said [Governor Andrew] Cuomo. “This is a competition.”

Added [Mayor Bill] de Blasio, “We had an unprecedented opportunity to add to the number of jobs.”c....

But as the details emerge, many expressed anger that the costs — in crowded subways, rising home prices, strained sewers and actual state and city tax dollars — could far outweigh the benefits of possibly 25,000 new workers making an average of $100,000.

“We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this,” Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will represent a neighboring Queens community, wrote on Twitter. “The community’s response? Outrage.”

This John Kelly replacement candidate, Nick Ayers, looks so much like a young Donald Trump.

I'm looking at "Top Pence aide resurfaces as leading candidate to replace John Kelly/Nick Ayers, Pence’s chief of staff, was initially seen as a potential Kelly successor this summer" (Politico). I can see what Trump sees in him:

Perfecting Audrey Hepburn...

... using the the Photoshop Surgeon Perfection Mask:

"When his book came out last year, I saluted Flake for doing something politically contraindicated and Rubicon-crossing, establishing himself..."

"... as the first Republican senator to call President Trump the domestic and international menace that he is. I applauded him for describing the president’s tweets as 'all noise and no signal' and for daring to charge his administration with Orwellian doublespeak, 'dividing us along fissures of truth and falsity and keeping us in a kind of low-level dread.' I said that Flake’s book had rhetorical power. But looking back on it, it didn’t. Jeff Flake’s book couldn’t even convince Jeff Flake. As of this writing, he has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time... It wasn’t that I was too kind to Flake when his book came out. It was that I mischaracterized his book altogether. 'Conscience of a Conservative' was not a cri de coeur, a critique of Trump, an analysis of the sorry state of our politics or an invitation to recommit to Goldwater’s philosophy. It was a relic. It was a bit of quixotica. It was a tragedy."

From "I Take Back My Praise of Jeff Flake’s Book" by Jennifer Senior (NYT).

historyofoverplucking.

An Instagram account. I'll just give 2 examples:

View this post on Instagram

Bette Davis

A post shared by @ historyofoverplucking on



Trump's French tweetstorm ends with "MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!"

Alex Trebek said the wrong thing — the Trumpish thing — about #MeToo.


I found that via WaPo, "‘A scary time for men’: Alex Trebek talks #MeToo, politics and the kind of ‘Jeopardy!’ player that bothers him."
“You know, when the #MeToo movement started, I had discussions with the staff during production meetings,” he said. “I said, ‘My gosh, this has got to be a scary time for men.... I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in a position of power where I might be able to lord it over somebody sexually. I said, ‘But there are guys out there — young guys are stupid in their teens.’ There’s nothing stupider than a teenage boy. They’re operating on testosterone.”

When [the Vulture interviewer David] Marchese responded that youth isn’t always an “acceptable excuse” and that “young men are not the only ones who are a problem,” Trebek launched into an explanation of a scene from the 1994 film “Disclosure,” starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas.

“This conversation has taken a turn,” Marchese said.

“You took a turn,” Trebek shot back.

On social media, Trebek was almost instantly excoriated for echoing an opinion voiced by Trump as well as his son, Donald Trump Jr., and other conservatives. (Trebek, who says he is an independent, was critical of Trump during the 2016 election.)
 Here's the Vulture interview.

The message from social media is: We'll come after you if you give priority to concern for the accused. And maybe even also: We'll come after you if you voice an opinion voiced by Trump.

"Allyn Pierce was trapped by a wall of fire as he tried to flee the flames coming closer and closer to his truck... 'I was like, I think I’m done'..."

"... said Mr. Pierce, a registered nurse who was trapped in traffic in Paradise, Calif., where most of the community was burned. 'I just kept thinking, I’m going to die in melting plastic.'... Fearing he might not make it out of Paradise alive, Mr. Pierce recorded a goodbye message to his family as the town burned to the ground around him. 'Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out,' he later recalled saying into his phone. He held his coat against the window, a futile guard from the intense heat, and put on Peter Gabriel’s 'In Your Eyes' to calm himself. Just in time, a bulldozer came out of nowhere and knocked a burning vehicle out of his way, giving him enough space to flee."

From "California Fire Death Toll Now at 44 With Discovery of 13 More Bodies" (NYT).


Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are
All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside....
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
The heat I see in your eyes...
What songs played in the cars where the others were hopelessly trapped and no bulldozer came out of nowhere to create a path of escape?

"The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme Is 100 Years Old/'Cultural Marxism' might sound postmodern but it’s got a long, toxic history."

This is from Yale history-and-lawprof Samuel Moyn (in the NYT).
According to their delirious foes, “cultural Marxists” are an unholy alliance of abortionists, feminists, globalists, homosexuals, intellectuals and socialists who have translated the far left’s old campaign to take away people’s privileges from “class struggle” into “identity politics” and multiculturalism....

Some Marxists, like the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci and his intellectual heirs, tried to understand how the class rule they criticized worked through cultural domination. And today, it’s true that on campus and off, many people are directing their ire at the advantages that white males have historically enjoyed....

A number of the conspiracy theorists tracing the origins of “cultural Marxism” assign outsize significance to the Frankfurt School, an interwar German — and mostly Jewish — intellectual collective of left-wing social theorists and philosophers. Many members of the Frankfurt School fled Nazism and came to the United States, which is where they supposedly uploaded the virus of cultural Marxism to America. These zany stories of the Frankfurt School’s role in fomenting political correctness would be entertaining, except that they echo the baseless allegations of tiny cabals ruling the world that fed the right’s paranoid imagination in prior eras....

The defense of the West in the name of “order” and against “chaos,” which really seems to mean unjustifiable privilege against new claimants, is an old affair posing as new insight. It led to grievous harm in the last century.... “[C]ultural Marxism” is not only a sad diversion from framing legitimate grievances but also a dangerous lure in an increasingly unhinged moment.

November 12, 2018

At the Noon Café...

... express your midday self.

Is this the real life?


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I'm going to pause my boycott of the recounts to give you this one Trump tweet.


This is very close to the argument the lawyers for George W. Bush made, repeatedly and sternly, after the 2000 election. I remember it drove me crazy at the time. I'd voted for Al Gore, and I kept hoping the count would come out my way. But I must say that, unlike a lot of people who wanted Gore, once the Supreme Court gave the opinion that shut down further recounting, I accepted the result and regarded George W. Bush as the legitimately elected President of the United States. It has always bothered me that other people didn't do that.

Anyway, of course the side that's sitting on the higher total is going to insist we've gone far enough, but one of the strongest arguments against recounting is that conditions are such that the recount will be less accurate than the first count, and at least the first count was done before it was known how many votes the erstwhile loser needed to find to flip the result. In the 2000 election, there were punch cards with incompletely punched holes and the handling of the ballots seemed as though it could change the degree of detachment of the "chads." That created a tremendous amount of anxiety about human tampering that made the machine's first reading of the cards feel superior (except to the extent that one simply wanted, as I did, the other candidate to win).

So Trump is making a strong argument, stoking worries that human beings are tampering and interfering and a changed result will be a less accurate result. Of course, that's the argument of choice for the side that won the first count. It's hard to believe anyone who's hoping for a flip will stand down.