February 20, 2019

At the Frisky Wild Café...



... you can do your own interpretation.

"Could we have our first four-party election in 2020 — with candidates from the Donald Trump far right, the old G.O.P. center right, the Joe Biden center left and the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez far left all squaring off, as the deepening divides within our two big parties simply can’t be papered over any longer?"

Asks Thomas Friedman (NYT).

It's a good question in terms of attention-getting, but substantively, it's silly. Parties have often had wings, and it's not that special that the wings are pretty far apart. I'm thinking of the 1960s, for example.

Everyone's such a drama queen these days.

"Jussie Smollett has officially been named a suspect in the criminal investigation into his attack, Chicago police have announced."

"He is suspected of filing a false police report, which carries a felony charge.... According to the Chicago PD, detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County grand jury, which could lead to Smollett’s indictment. Two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, were eventually arrested and brought in for questioning in the attack..... The brothers reportedly said all three men 'rehearsed' the attack days prior to it happening.... CBS reported that Smollett allegedly plotted the attack after being upset that a threatening letter containing a white powder that he received a week prior to the attack did not elicit a more serious response from 20th Century Fox, the studio behind Empire. A magazine potentially used to create the letter was seized from the brothers’ home; that letter is currently being investigated by the FBI."

That's how the story is reported in New York Magazine's "Vulture."

UPDATE: Jussie Smollett is charged with felony disorderly conduct.

This is so bad I probably shouldn't give it any attention, but it was published in Out.

"Trump’s Plan to Decriminalize Homosexuality Is an Old Racist Tactic." That's by Mathew Rodriguez, and all I can think is that he went to college.
The Trump administration is set to launch a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in dozens of nations where anti-gay laws are still on the books, NBC News reported Monday. While on its surface, the move looks like an atypically benevolent decision by the Trump administration, the details of the campaign belie a different story. Rather than actually being about helping queer people around the world, the campaign looks more like another instance of the right using queer people as a pawn to amass power and enact its own agenda....

The truth is, this is part of an old colonialist handbook. In her essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” postcolonial theorist Gayatri Spivak coined the term “White men saving brown women from brown men” to describe the racist, paternalistic process by which colonizing powers would decry the way men in power treated oppressed groups, like women, to justify attacking them. Spivak was referencing the British colonial agenda in India. But Grennell’s attack might be a case of white men trying to save brown gay men from brown straight men, to the same end....
I looked up that Spivak essay and found this description a book of essays about the essay:
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's original essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world.
Worlding.

"... interpretation! — a frisky wild animal..."

Some of you are reading Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities" along with me. In the "Bonfire" project, here on the blog, I select a few consecutive sentences as I go along and offer them up for discussion. Please concentrate on the text. It's fine to bring in the context of the book, but give a spoiler alert if you're going beyond the chapter under discussion.

So let me give you this, from Kindle Location 1624:
Do you tell the police that Mrs. Arthur Ruskin of Fifth Avenue and Mr. Sherman McCoy of Park Avenue happened to be having a nocturnal tête-à-tête when they missed the Manhattan off-ramp from the Triborough Bridge and got into a little scrape in the Bronx? He ran that through his mind. Well, he could just tell Judy—no, there was no way he could just tell Judy about a little ride with a woman named Maria. But if they—if Maria had hit the boy, then it was better to grit his teeth and just tell what happened. Which was what? Well…two boys had tried to rob them. They blocked the roadway. They approached him. They said…A little shock went through his solar plexus. Yo! You need some help? That was all the big one had said. He hadn’t produced a weapon. Neither of them had made a threatening gesture until after he had thrown the tire. Could it be—now, wait a minute. That’s crazy. What else were they doing out on a ramp to an expressway beside a blockade, in the dark—except to—Maria would back up his interpretation—interpretation!—a frisky wild animal—all of a sudden he realized that he barely knew her.
To me, the most interesting part is "interpretation!—a frisky wild animal." And I've got to admit that I am not positive that interpretation is the frisky wild animal. Maybe Maria is the frisky wild animal.

It reminds me of the problem I had with the last "Bonfire" passage I discussed. Remember? Sherman was "holding a violently lurching animal in his arms, staring, bug-eyed, and talking to himself," and at first glance, it seemed to be the "violently lurching animal" (his dachshund) that was "staring, bug-eyed," and it was only when I got to "talking to himself" that I knew it was Sherman staring bug-eyed.

I do think a writer should be more careful. Wolfe seems to assume the reader will follow the wild pathways he intends to lay down. It's exciting and should be fast, but when multiple pathways open up, we're slowed down, or we just get sloppy and hurtle along. That's what Wolfe wants from us, isn't it? But like Maria behind the wheel of Sherman's Mercedes, we should watch where we're going or we're going to get in trouble.

But I like to think that interpretation is the frisky wild animal. And Wolfe's prose is a frisky wild animal (and a violently lurching animal). Look what's going on in that sentence. We're in McCoy's mind, and he's been going over his story as he might recount it to the police or to his wife (Judy), and he sees what his problem is. The sentence begins with an attempt to fill in what was missing — how the 2 black youths were going to attack him — and he knows that's an interpretation he wants to impose to serve his interests, so he shifts to thinking about how he could get away with that, and he locks onto Maria. She'll back him up. It's all interpretation. With interpretation you can do... what you want, but what about that other person. She could back him up, but he doesn't know that she will. And the sentence ends with his realization that this woman — his lover — is someone he barely knows.

Sad for Sherman! But that's what you get when you cheat on your wife who's not sexy to you anymore because she is so familiar. You get someone you don't know, and the liberty you took is a horrible entanglement, all bound up with someone you never learned you could trust. 

Camille Paglia has a new column.

But it's all about "A Star Is Born," and I really don't care. I haven't seen even one of the 4 "Star Is Born" movies that have come out over the years, and I've read enough descriptions to know the differences, but I just don't care. Excerpts:
Unsparingly presenting [the male lead] as arrogant with male privilege, the script [of the 1954 version] prepares the way for the tragic intensity of the love story. In contrast, [the 2018 version] upgrades [the male lead] to lovable stumbling klutz, merely drawing a few hard glances from fellow musicians. He thus defeats the entire redemptive pattern of the three earlier films....

A harrowing highlight of the series is the ritual humiliation of the leading man. The [1937 version] and [the 1954 version] are gut-wrenching in showing the cold contempt of other men for a wounded alpha male as he tumbles down to become a mere adjunct to a more successful woman.....

[I]n [the new] film, the tipsy [male lead]... ends in infantile passivity: [he] pisses his pants in full view of the audience. This ugly scene, which reduces a triumphant career woman to a gal pal awkwardly hiding a urine spill with a flap of her gown, is a misogynous disgrace.
So there's something there of general interest — how to do male humiliation the right way? Maybe that's separable from the focus on that particular movie plot. A woman rises as a man falls — How that is shown tells us something about our time?

ADDED: Paglia objects to the importance of the male character in relation to the female character and seems to think the movie is misogynist because it makes him more important than her. But why isn't that a fresh idea? I'm not going to watch all these movies to try to find the answer, but it seems to me that Paglia adores the various females, especially Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand and seems to think it's wrong for Lady Gaga to be given smaller role — a supporting role to the man. But I don't see that as misogynist, and Lady Gaga isn't an experienced movie star. It may have been appropriate not to give her many big scenes, and why shouldn't the big movie star Bradley Cooper have more for himself? He's an established star and the director.

Japanese fireworks.



IN THE COMMENTS: Unknown said:
I think it's actually computer generated. No, I'm not kidding. I don't see smoke - it's low res, the sound is exactly synced (they could have altered it afterward, but...). As a software developer with a lot of experience in computer generated images, it looks totally fake to me.
Aw, too bad! I looked it up and found, at Hoax-Slayer, "'Japan’s Fireworks Best in the World' Video is A Digital Simulation."

That was my question too.

"Dow, Bitcoin Price Wobble While Trump Gives Ridiculous Stock Market Analysis."

That's the headline at CCN.

CCN? Crypto Currency News.

What was Trump's "Ridiculous Stock Market Analysis"? He tweeted:
Had the opposition party (no, not the Media) won the election, the Stock Market would be down at least 10,000 points by now. We are heading up, up, up!
Is that really "analysis"?

If it's not analysis, what is it? Theater? Lying? Taunting? Why would the President of the United States act silly about the stock market?

One answer is he's crazy and incompetent, but I think he's in control and choosing to express himself like that, so the question is why. First, obviously, he's been successful, so it's more of something that works. But why is it successful (I don't think he's successful in spite of his strange way of talking)? I think it's the virality of being weird and (to some) very annoying. The economic news is good — I guess — so he wants people to notice and give him credit. That's something the media won't do on their own, so he has to appeal to their desire to write only negative stories. If it didn't have the material needed to go negative — the made-up alternate reality of "down at least 10,000 points" and the irrational exuberance of "up, up, up!" — they wouldn't report it at all.

"Smollett—if he really did stage the attack—would have been acting out the black-American component in this eschatological configuration, the role of victim as a form of status."

"We are, within this hierarchy, persecuted prophets, ever attesting to the harm that white racism does to us and pointing to a future context in which our persecutors will be redeemed of the sin of having leveled that harm upon us. We are noble in our suffering."

Writes John McWhorter in "What the Jussie Smollett Story Reveals/It shows a peculiar aspect of 21st-century America: victimhood chic" (The Atlantic).

What is "this eschatological configuration"? The antecedent sentence is:
Racial politics today have become a kind of religion in which whites grapple with the original sin of privilege, converts tar questioners of the orthodoxy as “problematic” blasphemers, and everyone looks forward to a Judgment Day when America “comes to terms” with race.
Eschatology is — in my dictionary, the OED — "The department of theological science concerned with ‘the four last things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell'" or "In recent theological writing, esp. as ‘realized eschatology’ (see quot. 1957), the sense of this word has been modified to connote the present ‘realization’ and significance of the ‘last things’ in the Christian life." The etymology has roots for last + discourse. McWhorter is talking about "Judgment Day," so the word (the metaphor) is apt.

And here's the Wikipedia article "Immanentize the eschaton":
In political theory and theology, to immanentize the eschaton means trying to bring about the eschaton (the final, heaven-like stage of history) in the immanent world. In all these contexts it means "trying to make that which belongs to the afterlife happen here and now (on Earth)."...

Modern usage of the phrase started with Eric Voegelin in The New Science of Politics in 1952. Conservative spokesman William F. Buckley popularized Voegelin's phrase as "Don't immanentize the eschaton!" Buckley's version became a political slogan of Young Americans for Freedom during the 1960s and 1970s.

Voegelin identified a number of similarities between ancient Gnosticism and the beliefs held by a number of modern political theories, particularly Communism and Nazism....
Back to McWhorter. I'm skipping ahead now:
Notable in smollett’s [sic] account is that he sought to come off as an especially fierce kind of victim—the victim as hero, as cool. “I fought the fuck back,” he told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an interview. Smollett has long displayed a hankering for preacher status. His Twitter stream is replete with counsel about matters of spirit, skepticism, and persistence that sounds a tad self-satisfied from someone in his 30s. His mother associated with the Black Panthers and is friends with the activist Angela Davis, and in interviews Smollett has identified proudly with the activist tradition.

The problem is that amid the complexities of 2019 as opposed to 1969, keeping the Struggle [sic] going is more abstract, less dramatic, than it once was....
It is and should be a mistake to switch to fakery and overdramatizing to keep the Struggle going. There's no reason why we can't be empathetic and attentive to subtle things. Let's talk about what's really true and what matters. It may be hard to believe that anyone will care about less dramatic problems, but if you wreck your credibility, you'll have no way to talk to people anymore.

"The suit alleges that The Post 'targeted and bullied' 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann in order to embarrass President Trump."

I'm reading about the lawsuit against The Washington Post in The Washington Post.
“In a span of three days in January of this year commencing on January 19, the Post engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism by competing with CNN and NBC, among others, to claim leadership of a mainstream and social media mob of bullies which attacked, vilified, and threatened Nicholas Sandmann, an innocent secondary school child,” reads the complaint.

It added, “The Post ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President.”

The suit was filed by Sandmann’s parents, Ted and Julie, on Nicholas’s behalf in U.S. District Court in Covington. It seeks $250 million because Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos paid that amount for the newspaper when he bought it in 2013....
An interesting basis for the claim of damages. When I just saw the headlines I guessed that $250 million was the estimated value of the life Sandmann would have had if the media hadn't ruined his reputation.
The Sandmanns’ lead attorney is L. Lin Wood, who represented Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused in the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996. He also represented John and Patsy Ramsey in pursuing defamation claims against media outlets in connection with reports on the death of their young daughter, JonBenet....
Did Richard Jewell win his lawsuits? According to Wikipedia, it looks like there were 5 lawsuits, 4 of which were settled (with the amount of the settlement only known for the one against NBC ($500,000)). The Atlanta-Journal Constitution fought and won — with the court saying, "because the articles in their entirety were substantially true at the time they were published—even though the investigators' suspicions were ultimately deemed unfounded—they cannot form the basis of a defamation action."

Back to the new WaPo article. Here's an interesting juxtaposition of paragraphs:
The Sandmanns’ suit asserts that the newspaper “bullied” Sandmann in its reporting “because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap.”

It calls Phillips “a phony war hero [who] was too intimidated by the unruly Hebrew Israelites to approach them, the true troublemakers, and instead chose to focus on a group of innocent children.”
I read between the lines: If we're going to be sensitive about "bullying," this lawsuit is bullying the Native American man ("phony war hero") and the black men ("unruly"). WaPo's argument might be that there are a lot of colorful characterizations that get expressed, but they're not really falsehoods in the sense that ought to matter. That is, it shouldn't be so hard to report the news with vivid prose, and courts should refrain from delving into the motivations of the various speakers and judging who's got a "bullying" mentality. I'm not choosing sides at the moment, just trying to picture how the lawsuit might play out.

The WaPo article ends with the assertion that "A plaintiff must show that a defendant acted with 'reckless disregard' to sustain a defamation action." I don't think that's right. Sandmann was a private citizen. You on have to show "reckless disregard" ("actual malice") when you're suing a public figure. That's the First Amendment standard dating back to New York Times v. Sullivan.

Interestingly enough, it was just yesterday that Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion (concurring in the denial of certiorari) arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court ought to reconsider New York Times v. Sullivan. This was a defamation case brought against Bill Cosby by a woman who accused him of rape. The court below had decided that the woman, Kathrine McKee, was a "limited person public figure" who would have to show that Cosby had "reckless disregard" for the truth when he said defamatory things about her. She "thrust" herself into the public debate by talking about Cosby.
McKee asks us to review her classification as a limited-purpose public figure. I agree with the Court’s decision not to take up that factbound question. I write to explain why, in an appropriate case, we should reconsider the precedents that require courts to ask it in the first place.
Thomas wants to take up the entire question of the higher standard rather than to tinker with the scope of what it takes to trigger the standard, what it means to be a "public figure."
We should not continue to reflexively apply this policy-driven approach to the Constitution. Instead, we should carefully examine the original meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we.
Well, that's a big deal! But it's only Clarence Thomas. And yet, who knows? President Trump, who's been appointing Justices lately, has said he wants it to be easy to sue for defamation. Maybe things are moving in that direction.

But in any case, Nick Sandmann wasn't a public figure when the media jumped on him and mauled him!

"Paul Soglin, Satia Rhodes-Conway advance to general election for Madison mayor."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
Mayor Paul Soglin and former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway advanced from an energetic, expensive six-way Madison mayoral primary Tuesday, setting up a battle between the city's longest-serving executive and a facilitator for a UW-Madison think tank who would be the first openly gay mayor in city history.
Nice photographs of the 2 winners at the link.

AND: In the school board primary: "Madison School Board: Blaska and Muldrow, Mertz and Mirilli advance to spring election."
[Ali] Muldrow, the co-executive director of GSAFE, held a commanding lead in a four-way primary for Seat 4 at nearly 56 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting, more than twice the number of votes for second-place finisher Blaska, a former Dane County Board member and conservative blogger....

"We thought we could survive simply because no one else is saying what I'm saying," Blaska, 69, said of the primary results.
For more of what Blaska has been saying, click on my "Blaska" tag.

"Ms. Warren’s plan, the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, would create a network of government-funded care centers based partly on the existing Head Start network..."

"... with employees paid comparably to public-school teachers. Families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level would be able to send their children to these centers for free. Families earning more than that would be charged on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 7 percent of their income. The plan would be funded by Ms. Warren’s proposed wealth tax on households with more than $50 million in assets, her campaign said. 'The guarantee is about what each of our children is entitled to,' Ms. Warren said at a campaign rally in Los Angeles on Monday, announcing her plans to introduce the bill. 'Not just the children of the wealthy, not just the children of the well-connected, but every one of our children is entitled to good child care.'"

The NYT reports.

Of course, "the children of the wealthy" and "the well-connected" won't be in the government-funded care centers, but you get the rhetoric. The money is supposed to come from the rich — and only the rich — so in the abstract, it sounds logical.
Mark Zandi and Sophia Koropeckyj, economists at Moody’s Analytics, estimated that the plan would cost the federal government $70 billion per year more than it currently spends on child care programs, but would be fully covered by revenue from Ms. Warren’s wealth tax. Their cost estimate was based on the assumption that the plan would produce economic growth by giving lower- and middle-class families more spending money, allowing parents to work longer hours, and creating more and higher-paying jobs for child care workers....

Ms. Warren framed the issue... as a means to promote economic growth and address gender inequality in the work force.....  In a post on Medium on Tuesday, Ms. Warren repeated a personal story she has often told before: that if it hadn’t been for her Aunt Bee, who helped care for her children, she would have had to quit her job as a law school instructor.
A "law school instructor" can't afford to pay for childcare? I'm a tad wary of oft-told "personal stories" from Elizabeth Warren. And much as I do think finding and affording childcare is serious problem, I don't trust the federal government to take over the whole thing, and I don't believe that federal wealth tax is ever going to happen. (Doesn't it violate the Constitution?) And yet, I'm open to the argument that Head Start has been a good program, and it sounds like the expansion of Head Start to bring in more and more people. Warren has reason to make it sound innovative, but maybe it's just more money for the same old program.
Katie Hamm, vice president for early childhood policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal think tank, said that framing was significant. “It reflects the fact that the issue has clearly grown into the public policy sphere and the economic policy sphere, where before it had been relegated to a family policy issue or an education issue,” she said.
So...  more money for the same old program, but let's talk about it in a new way. Let's do framing.

A hiker in Zion National Park gets trapped in quicksand — and stays trapped for hours in freezing cold water.

WaPo reports.
“Quicksand is not normally a problem at Zion, but it does happen if conditions are right,” said Alyssa Baltrus, a spokeswoman for the park. “We have been unusually wet here this winter. The weather was most likely a contributing factor.”

Despite what Hollywood would have you think, a 2005 study by researchers at the University of Amsterdam showed that it is not possible for a person to sink entirely into quicksand, because they are too buoyant.....

“The water was so cold I thought for sure I’d lose my leg because there was no way she was going to be able to get there fast enough to have people come get me out,” [Ryan] Osmun told ABC News.
Osmun was hiking the "Subway" trail and his companion, Jessika McNeill "tripped, landing in quicksand." I'm inferring that the quicksand wasn't part of the trail. This is the Park Service's photograph of where Osmun was rescued, where he got stuck rescuing her:



They had no cell phone service, and as WaPo puts it:
It was like a scene out of an old-fashioned horror movie: two hikers, alone in the frigid wilderness with no cell reception, suddenly stumbled into a pool of quicksand.
No. In old horror movies, the issue of "no cell reception" doesn't come up.

Anyway, the woman hiked for hours to get to the point where she could call for help, and it was hours more until the search-and-rescue team found him, and longer still to complete the rescue.

I'm reading about the Subway Trail here (from the bottom) here (top-down route), and it looks challenging and watery. You need a wilderness pass. For the easier of the 2 hikes, it says, "Strenuous non-technical day hike in a wet canyon with many obstacles."

February 19, 2019

At the Chartreuse Café,,,



... you can stay up talking.

And you can buy things through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Trying to answer the question "How small a hole can a mouse get through?"

"The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it's still illegal to be gay...."

NBC reports:
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

“It is concerning that, in the 21st century, some 70 countries continue to have laws that criminalize LGBTI status or conduct,” said a U.S. official involved in organizing the event....

Narrowly focused on criminalization, rather than broader LGBT issues like same-sex marriage, the campaign was conceived partly in response to the recent reported execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration’s top geopolitical foe....

“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” Grenell wrote. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”
Excellent.

Can we get something like this for Trump?

"Suddenly, the writer, very close to his public, is tempted to work hard and fast to please immediately, superficially..."

"... in order to have immediate gratification for himself in return. Curiously, the apparent freedom of e-mail and the Internet makes us more and more conformist as we talk to each other unceasingly."

Writes Tim Parks in "Do We Write Differently on a Screen?" in The New Yorker. And I wonder — even if you are hooked on the immediate response from readers, why are they responding to what is conformist? What makes anybody want to read anything? If it's the same as everything else, not reading it is the same as reading it. Why bother?

I had to look up how old Tim Parks is, because that talk of "conformity" sounds so 1950s/1960s to me. And, indeed, Tim Parks was born in 1954. He's in my cohort. I remember blogging a while back... oh, here it is:
It's funny, I was just saying to Meade that people don't rant against "conformity" anymore — not like they did in the 50s and 60s.... [I was thinking] about the way liberals, including liberal media folk, talk to each other and feel emotional rewards for saying what they all say back and forth to each other. They become so immersed in this feeling of belonging that they don't even hear the things that are not the things that they've been saying back and forth to each other. And my question is: Why does that feel so good? Why doesn't that immersion feel like drowning? Why don't you want to surface into the air and be free — to think about everything, from any perspective, and to find out for yourself what is true and what is good? You are a human individual: Don't you want that?

"I voted for Bernie Sanders in the New York primary in 2016. I do not intend to do so in 2020."

"My vote for Sanders in 2016 was a protest against the lack of adequate competition. That doesn’t seem like it will be a problem this time."

Writes my son John on his blog today. He also includes some of the things he wrote while live-blogging Bernie in the 2016 campaign debates. Example:
A member of the audience begins his question by pointing out that opportunities often go disproportionately to "older Caucasian men and women." Sanders interrupts him with a self-effacing joke: "You're not talking about me, are ya?!"

Calling Trump on telephone — "He just picks up."



WaPo article about how Trump actually answers the phone. It's so weird when people do that.
The chatterbox in chief has eschewed the traditional way that presidents communicate with members of Congress, calling lawmakers at all hours of the day without warning and sometimes with no real agenda. Congressional Republicans reciprocate in kind, increasingly dialing up the president directly to gauge his thinking after coming to terms with the fact that ultimately, no one speaks for Trump but Trump himself.

“I never called President Bush or President Obama,” said [Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)], who has served in the Senate since 2007. “I just feel comfort in calling President Trump. He calls me regularly to talk about issues. He’s always helpful for both of us.”

Longtime senators who have served through multiple administrations say they have never seen a president so easily accessible to lawmakers. The calls are part of what occupies the wide swaths of “executive time” on Trump’s schedule — an unstructured stretch of the day he uses to call allies and hold meetings that are otherwise not publicly announced.
Oh, no. They were so hoping he was watching Fox News in the "executive time."
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said one GOP senator who occasionally calls Trump, chuckling....

Trump regularly calls senators if he sees news about their states. Other times, he talks about what he just saw on television or asks about golf.....

Lawmakers rarely have to wait for Trump to return their calls — if they have to wait at all. “The vast majority, he just picks up,” said another GOP senator, who regularly calls Trump and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “If he doesn’t . . . he’ll return them within an hour.”
Under Obama, calls with lawmakers were usually planned in advance.... “I cannot recall Obama phone bombing people for anything substantive,” the senior official said.
ADDED: I looked up "phone bombing" and got this recommended definition at Urban Dictionary:
When you, along with a few of your best bros, get together and decide to multilaterally mass text spam the fuck out of someone's phone to the point where their phone can no longer take it and just freezes. Sometimes done out of hate, but more often than not simply out of sheer enjoyment.