June 24, 2018

At the Silhouette Duck Café...


... don't just stand there. Make a comment.

(Or buy something through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

Scraping the bottom of the outrage barrel.

"Under President Trump, once stately medallions have gotten glitzier, and at least one featured a Trump property. Ethics watchdogs are worried," the NYT wants us to know.
Since Bill Clinton occupied the White House, the commemorative medallions known as challenge coins have been stately symbols of the presidency coveted by the military, law enforcement personnel and a small circle of collectors.

Then came Donald J. Trump.

His presidency has yielded more — and more elaborate — coins that are shinier, flashier and even bigger, setting off a boom for coin manufacturers, counterfeiters and collectors, with one official Trump challenge coin recently fetching $1,000 on eBay.
Well, hell. I blame Bill Clinton. Why does this junk exist at all?! If it exists, what difference does it make what the design is? Aren't coins generally shiny? Who would make a deliberately dull coin? The NYT consulted John Wertman, "a former Clinton White House aide who is a leading expert on challenge coins":
His collection includes the official presidential challenge coins of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama, muted bronze affairs that have the presidential seal on one side and the White House and the president’s signature on the other.
Muted bronze affairs!

Wertman seems okay with Trump's choice — "If you look at what he did with the design of the White House drapes and his general inclination toward gold, that’s his personal preference" — and that sounds right to me. It's a Trump coin. It should be shiny gold-colored even if Clinton and Obama chose to show off with muffled dignity. These guys are all manufacturing coins celebrating themselves. I'm not going to accept any special antagonism toward Trump because his coins are shinier.

Stupidest Trump outrage yet.

"Trump Calls for Depriving Immigrants Who Illegally Cross Border of Due Process Rights."

That's how the NYT puts it, looking at this tweet:

You call that "LIVING"? Or: Let's pose him so his head looks like a pineapple.

This is just so delightfully absurd...

... at The NY Post. I love everything about it — the name Randall Bellows III, the way the shirt pattern matches and clashes with the sofa, the long-fingered hand gesture, the plant on the top of the shelf that (just by chance?) makes Bellows's head look like a pineapple, the fact that I have no idea what Venmo is, the goofy smile that seems not to be anxiety but actually could be a very particular kind of anxiety that I have not yet encountered, the kind of anxiety known as "Venmo anxiety." Personally, I feel no anxiety at all. I'm just amused and bemused by Randall Bellows III and the quirky ailment-of-the-moment he seems to be experiencing — without ostensible pain — in Brooklyn, where — apparently — one dispels anxiety with a roll of the eyes and an insouciant hand flourish.

Okay. Now I'll read the article:
Whenever Caroline Keane opens the Venmo app, she always intends to just go in and out. But, inevitably, she gets sucked into the mobile money-transfer service — specifically, its social feed, where she can see friends and co-workers requesting cash from one another for drinks, dinners and Ubers. Scrolling through the app gives the 23-year-old PR professional a particular sense of anxiety: Is everyone hanging out without her?...
The solution is: Put down the phone and get back to writing Nancy Drew mysteries.

ADDED: I read the headline to Meade and he said, "Ben Wa?" I repeated the word more clearly, Venmo. He said: "I know what Ben Wa balls are."

Facebook reality.

Just looked at Facebook and saw this message: "9 years ago today, you and your sister, Dell, became friends on Facebook. We made you this video to celebrate your friendship!"

I guess the real world doesn't matter on Facebook. It's when things begin on Facebook that matters to Facebook. And if you are "friends" within the meaning of Facebook, you have "friendship" in the only sense that matters to Facebook.

scrapbook 2_0007

The battering Trump is taking in the press is not hurting him.

From Real Clear Politics (which averages the polls):

I invite you to offer your own explanations, but I'm reading "As Critics Assail Trump, His Supporters Dig In Deeper" (NYT)...
In interviews across the country over the last few days, dozens of Trump voters, as well as pollsters and strategists, described something like a bonding experience with the president that happens each time Republicans have to answer a now-familiar question: “How can you possibly still support this man?”...

Republican voters repeatedly described an instinctive, protective response to the president, and their support has grown in recent months.... Mr. Trump has also retained support across a range of demographics other than the working-class voters who are most identified with him....

[A]s another immigration crisis of his own making smoldered this past week, critics inside and outside Mr. Trump’s party predicted another devastating, irremediable low point in his presidency. Yet many Trump voters said that they no longer had the patience or interest to listen to what they see as another hysterical outburst by Democrats, Republican “Never Trumpers” and the media....

For many Republicans, the audio of children sobbing at a migrant detention center barely registered, because these voters don’t pay attention to the left-leaning and mainstream media that have covered the family separation crisis far more than their preferred channel, Fox News....

Others said they saw a ploy by the president’s enemies to obscure news that was more favorable to him, like the internal Justice Department investigation that recently uncovered evidence of F.B.I. officials speaking disparagingly of Mr. Trump....
Then there's "Trump Loses His Superpower/The president’s tweets have been powerless against images of migrant children in the news media," by Jack Shafer (Politico) — which I feel like calling As Trump Supporters Resist the Assailing of Trump, His Antagonists Dig In Deeper:
The border story couldn’t have arrived at a worse time for Trump. After the inspector general’s report on FBI handling of the Clinton email investigation came out on June 14, Trump seized on it with his demagogic tentacles and started to score points with his misguided supporters about how the deep state had attempted to block his election....

But... the border story nullified Trump’s howling about the IG report and the evil James Comey. Nobody wanted to hear about the IG anymore; they wanted to hear Trump justify the border policy. Trump was now facing a story that couldn’t be diluted or contaminated with Twitter truculence....

For three years now we’ve been told that nothing bad sticks to Trump, that his mind games and double-talk make him invulnerable to the protestations of the righteous. That no matter how tight his detractors tie the knot, he’ll always slip out of it. This week we learned differently. Trump can reliably win the battle if it’s fought with words. But against images and descriptions of distraught and traumatized children and parents, Trump’s superpowers fail. If you want to beat Trump, hit him in the heart because he doesn’t seem to have one. He’s a man with zero emotional intelligence.
So... hit him in the thing that he doesn't have. Is that a Zen koan? I don't know. Jack Shafer just sounds... truculent. It's inspiring my instinctive, protective response. Shafer ought to see how battering Trump stimulates that feeling... but it would take some... emotional intelligence.

"The original writer of the Village Voice story that inspired 'Boys Don’t Cry' looks back on her reporting — and the huge error she still regrets."

Here's how the original story looked in 1993:

See the problem? (From the perspective of today.)

Donna Minkowitz writes:
For years, I have wanted to apologize for what I now understand, with some shame, was the article’s implicit anti-trans framing. Without spelling it out, the article cast Brandon as a lesbian who hated “her” body because of prior experiences of childhood sexual abuse and rape. (One of Brandon’s acquaintances had told me he’d said he was “disgusted by lesbians,” and several friends said Brandon had said, “I can’t be with a woman as a woman. That’s gross.”) I saw this youngster’s decision to lead a life as a straight man as incredibly bold — but also assumed it was a choice made in fear, motivated by internalized homophobia.

At the time, I was extremely ignorant about trans people. Like many other cis queer people at the time, I didn’t know that there were gay trans men, trans lesbians, bisexual trans folks, that being trans had nothing to do with whether you were straight or gay, and that trans activism was not, as some of us feared, an effort to stave off queerness and lead “easier,” more conventional heterosexual lives.

Even in New York City, someone like me, a journalist who considered myself very involved in queer radical politics, could be massively ignorant about what it meant to be transgender. In particular, I conjectured that Brandon’s long-term sexual abuse by an uncle and a rape in high school had led him to abjure his “female” genitals and breasts. It’s the aspect of my article that makes me cringe the most today....
Ever wonder about what aspects of the article you're writing today that you will cringe at in 25 years? No, no, today is today's today. Yesterday was yesterday's today. The insights of today are good enough for today. Tomorrow belongs to somebody else, possibly you, but Alien You — Alien You who will look upon the You of Today as benighted and despicable.

About Roseanneless "Roseanne" and persons "of colors."

I'm trying to read "How ABC changed ‘Roseanne’ into ‘The Conners’ and kept the status quo/The frustrating reality of the entertainment industry" by Monica Castillo at The Lily (which is a woman-oriented offshoot of The Washington Post).

Castillo objects to the new version of the show — "Roseanne" without Roseanne — because the actors and writers employed on the old show could have been used to produce a completely new show. Castillo then gives us this paragraph (as if it supports the proposition that a completely new show should be devised to keep the the old show's people employed):
Yesterday, the Directors Guild of America published their diversity figures for movie directors, revealing a shocking. but not entirely surprising statistic: There were fewer directors of colors helming movies last year than in 2013....
Directors of colors? Is that how we talk now? Is there some idea that because "directors" is plural that you should also pluralize "color"? That's not the grammar rule I was taught in high school by an English teacher who justified the rule by maintaining that it is manifestly ridiculous to say to a group of people "use your heads" (because it creates the image of individuals with more than one head).

Maybe the plural seemed to express Castillo's interest in colors other than black (and "directors of color" seemed to signify only black directors). But maybe it's just a typo. Later in the column, I do see "directors of color."

Anyway — beyond that strange phrase — I don't see what the interest in employing more nonwhite directors has to do with whether John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, et al., do a completely new show or play the familiar roles of Dan and Darlene Conner.

That question has to do with what will draw an audience. I wonder how the new show will be promoted. The message will be:

Hey, don't you want to watch "Roseanne" without Roseanne? You loved "Roseanne" so much that you'll love it without Roseanne, who had to go because... well, you know, for that reason we don't what to talk about anymore, and we hope that you remember so you'll know why this is "Roseanne" without Roseanne, but you won't want to reopen the question why she had to be made a total outcast from all polite society.

Putting that in writing, I'm thinking I'd be interested in a new show, starring Roseanne Barr, about the greatest woman in the history of television, who Ambien-tweeted a stupid joke that everyone took to be racist and who got kicked out of her own TV home and who is now ranting and raving — watching "Roseanne" without Roseanne on the TV in her home on a nutty macadamia farm in Hawaii.

Is shunning a "lost art"? That is, had we stopped doing it, and is it the sort of thing — an "art" — that we should want to revive?

I'm reading "Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the lost art of shunning" by Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post, which riffs on something that happened on Friday: The owner of a restaurant (Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia), asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who'd already been seated and served) to leave. That came on top of 2 other restaurant shunnings last week: Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen left a restaurant when she "was heckled" (it was a Mexican restaurant, news reports stress, as if the type of food served creates a topic that conflicts with the border-control policy Nielsen defends and enforces). And, at another Mexican restaurant, somebody yelled at Stephen Miller ("Hey look guys, whoever thought we’d be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging [for] money for new cages?").

Rubin asks whether these are "reassuring and appropriate acts of social ostracism" or "a sign of our descent into incivility." Her answer is: "It depends on how you view the child-separation policy." So... incivility is okay as long as you feel strongly about the policy that's motivating you to engage in shunning?!

This is why I have the tag "civility bullshit." It stand for my hypothesis that people only push the civility issue against their antagonists and that they will put other values above civility when the time comes for anyone to demand that their side practice civility.

If the immigration policy is perceived as "a human rights crime, an inhumane policy for which the public was primed by efforts to dehumanize a group of people," then, Rubin reasons, "it is both natural and appropriate for decent human beings to shame and shun the practitioners of such a policy."

Natural!? How did that get in there with "appropriate"? Is it appropriate because it is natural? Xenophobia and racism are natural. I thought the moral challenge was to overcome natural urges like that. And Rubin is also saying that it's enough that one views the policy as inhumane or "a human rights crime." You don't have to have listened carefully to the evidence and the arguments, you can just close your eyes and intuit, and if your heart says that person is evil, then lean into your natural urges and shun.

Oh, but wait: "This exception to the rule of polite social action should be used sparingly (if for no other reason than we will never get through a restaurant meal without someone hollering at someone else)."

What kind of reason is that? Why should getting through restaurant meals get be placed on a higher level than the practice of the "lost art of shunning"? There's no effort at coherent moral reasoning here. I imagine Rubin eats in restaurants a lot and really did have to stop and think about whether her elite lifestyle is threatened.

She ends by ludicrously quibbling with herself:
Each to his own method of expressing disdain and fury, I suppose. 
You suppose?!
Nevertheless, it is not altogether a bad thing to show those who think they’re exempt from personal responsibility that their actions bring scorn, exclusion and rejection.
Not altogether a bad thing? What a weaselly ending!

I am tricked by a headline one more time. To call something "a lost art" is to say that it is "something usually requiring some skill that not many people do any more." Was shunning something — like letter writing — that through widespread practice, people knew how to do well? Rubin has little to say on the subject other than she understands the outrage Trump-haters feel called to express in public, but please don't let that ruin her nice dinners out. Could the Trump people really just know they are hated and eat at home?

ADDED: This has me thinking about how Meade and I were treated in Madison in 2011:
Get out, and stay out. Far out. Meade - You ain't no man for this city. We're out on the streets every day, all day. The 77 square is not for y'all. You say we're from out of state? Bullshit. You're from fucking out of state. We'll show you just how fucking Madison we are. Althouse, we will ruin your goddamn career, your comfort, your pocketbook, your sense of safety and wellbeing, and your life....

For background, read "Exclusive Interview With... the Man Behind the Ann Althouse Threat" (Breitbart).

June 23, 2018

At the Sidewalk Café...


... don't trample the flowers.

(And please remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon when you've got some shopping to do.)

"Is water racist?"

Baptizing babies violates fundamental human rights, says the former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

"You can’t impose, really, obligations on people who are only two weeks old and you can’t say to them at seven or eight or 14 or 19 'here is what you contracted, here is what you signed up to' because the truth is they didn’t," The Irish Times reports. McAleese said that for centuries "people didn’t understand that they had the right to say no, the right to walk away... But you and I know, we live now in times where we have the right to freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion and freedom to change religion. The Catholic Church yet has to fully embrace that thinking."

I thought it was the parents, the godparents, and the congregation who were making vows about how to bring up the child and the child was only receiving a benefit — or what the adults present believed would be a benefit. Adults must make decisions about what is good for a new human being at least up to some point when it's in a position to think for itself. The idea that adults should refrain from making decisions for a child isn't even coherent. To hold back from imposing any values is itself a decision. You might think it is best for a child to maintain a religion-free environment, but you could be wrong about that and why not go hysterical and call that too a violation of fundamental human rights?

"Faced with open antagonism, Trump’s millennials over the past year and a half have quietly settled on the margins..."

"... a stretch of Washington that spans from the Wharf—a shiny new development three blocks south of the National Mall—southeast along the Waterfront and into Navy Yard, on the banks of the Anacostia River. It’s a string of neighborhoods that peer out over the water, separated from most of the city by an interstate, and facing away from official Washington. It’s a bubble within the Washington bubble: Here, young Trump staffers mix largely with each other and enjoy the view from their rooftop pools, where they can feel far away from the District’s locals and the rest of its political class.... When it comes to disclosing their affiliation with Trump, no ground is more fraught than courtship. 'Trump supporters swipe left'—meaning 'don’t even bother trying'—might be the single most common disclaimer on dating app profiles in Washington.... 'I literally got the other day, Thanks but no thanks. Just Googled you and it said you were a mouthpiece for the Trump administration. Go fuck yourself,' says [a 31-year-old female administration official].... 'I’m no longer on Bumble,' she says...."

From "Young Trumpies Hit D.C./… And D.C. hits them right back." (Politico).

"Mueller’s Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: It makes no difference how honorable he is. His investigation is tainted by the bias that attended its origin in 2016."

"It seems pretty clear that this is a case of investigating a man in the hopes of finding a crime, rather than investigating a crime and hoping to find the man behind it."

"In non-question mark [NYT crossword] clues, I think I actually laughed, or at least internally chuckled, when I finally got AFFAIRS at 32D: Business, either personal or otherwise."

"It seemed like such a dull clue at first, but then AFFAIRS gave 'Business' a sexual implication that I was not expecting. At least that's how I read the 'personal' part of the clue."

Text and video reference from Rex Parker, who always blogs the NYT crossword. I've watched that video before but still laughed about 20 times in less than 4 minutes. As for the crossword, it took Rex 9 minutes and 9 seconds of crossword time. Is that it? I took my time and kept it going for 13 minutes and 34 seconds. Why do men think it's better to get it done fast?

He likes to keep his fire engine clean. It's a clean machine...

"There is a stream of bourbon and water running down the hillside that has taken much time to properly and thoroughly assess..."

"Thousands of full barrels of bourbon, and possibly other spirits, came crashing down when a storage warehouse in Bardstown, Ky., partly collapsed on Friday... [Tt]he Barton 1792 Distillery... structure houses about 20,000 barrels, and... 9,000 barrels were amid the rubble... Each barrel holds 53 gallons....The Environmental Protection Agency responded to the collapse because of concerns that alcohol may have seeped into the area’s groundwater."

The NYT reports.

A view of the aftermath:

"In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses..."

"... is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him. A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House. And to those who say, 'But the judges, the judges!' the answer is: Article III institutions are not more important than those of Articles I and II combined."

Writes George Will (WaPo).

Rat eats 1.3 million rupees — $19,000.

In an ATM machine in Gauhati, India.

Version 4

"Melania Trump’s East Wing team includes only 10 aides, compared with the 25 or so who worked under Michelle Obama and Laura Bush."

"She also a eschews a 'body person,' a personal aide who typically travels with a president or first lady and acts as an assistant. In an interview in April, the first lady’s chief of staff, Lindsay Reynolds, said Mrs. Trump determined that she didn’t need to fill that role. 'She is so low-maintenance, so efficient, that she does everything herself,' Reynolds said. 'So in the very beginning, I started interviewing people for the role. I said, Okay I have people for you to meet. And she said, I don’t need one.' Mrs. Trump is known for taking on the kind of decisions that previous first ladies typically delegated to others. For her first state dinner, she opted not to hire an outside party planner, as is the norm, and chose everything, including the flowers and the table linens, herself, with the help of Rickie Niceta, her social secretary. And she often selects her clothing without assistance, relying less on stylists and personal shoppers than on her own taste. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham [said last December] that the first lady 'chooses what she likes and what is appropriate for the occasion. She does not worry about her critics.'"

I'm extracting the interesting, pro-Melania factual material at the center of a duly anti-Melania article at The Washington Post, "Why didn’t someone stop Melania Trump from wearing that jacket? That’s not how this White House works."

That's a great click-bait headline for WaPo readers, who might find the material I've excerpted mind-bending. The top-rated comment fights back against the line that must be the most disturing — "She is so low-maintenance, so efficient, that she does everything herself":
Because she doesn't actually DO anything. I like how they're trying to paint it like she doesn't need as many assistants as previous First Ladies because she's just soooo much harder working and awesome, when in actuality, she doesn't need them because she doesn't do even a fraction of the stuff those other First Ladies did. She exists solely as a prop.