August 15, 2018

"The narratives that painted Black Lives Matter activists as 'violent' have turned into legislation that targets black people, leftists, and other marginalized groups."

"The Dangers of Shunning ‘Bad’ Protesters" (The Nation).
Moderates are keen to promote only passive, nonviolent tactics under any circumstance, but fail to realize that when the police attack demonstrations that kind of resistance isn’t always an option....

The popular narratives that painted Black Lives Matter activists as “violent” have since escalated to new legislation targeting black people. Since Trump’s inauguration, lawmakers in 31 states proposed 64 anti-protest bills, some of them geared toward preventing protesters from blocking highways, a common Black Lives Matter protest tactic. Several of these bills proposed making it legal for drivers to run over protesters if they are blocking roads. These bills make formerly legal, even anodyne, forms of protest illegal, and in doing so, target marginalized protesters much more than others....

Given what we know about protest repression, it’s imperative to resist these harmful laws and narratives at all costs, and fight like hell for “bad” protesters. The Republican bill names anti-fascists, but it’s not hard to imagine the vague term “disguise” being applied to any number of garments commonly worn to protests. Maybe even pussy hats.

"I’m riddled with shame. White shame.... I feel like there is no 'me' outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity."

"I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else. I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people). I engage in conversations about privilege with other white people. I take courses that will further educate me. I donated to Black Lives Matter. Yet I fear that nothing is enough. Part of my fear comes from the fact that privilege is invisible to itself. What if I’m doing or saying insensitive things without realizing it?"

From an apparently serious question by "Whitey" to "The Sugars," who write a "radically empathic advice column" at the NYT.

To summarize the advice given to this woeful man:
You’re not going to empower others by disempowering yourself.... Seek out the causes and classes and candidates that speak to your vision of America — one in which the lives of the disenfranchised matter more than white people’s feelings...
Which sounds suspiciously like: Vote for the right party and you are absolved. That's from the male "Sugar," Steve Almond. From the female half of the team, Cheryl Strayed:
[P]art of learning how to [relinquish your privilege] is accepting that feelings of shame, anger and the sense that people are perceiving you in ways that you believe aren’t accurate or fair are part of the process that you and I and all white people must endure in order to dismantle a toxic system that has perpetuated white supremacy for centuries. 
In other words, you should feel bad.

So it sounds as though "Whitey" is right where he needs to be. He feels ashamed of himself. Good. And then he just needs to vote for Democrats. That's how I read it.

ADDED: I wrote "this woeful man," but as Rick says in the comments "Nothing in the letter indicates this is a man." Isn't it strange that this person who stresses identity — "there is no 'me' outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity" — has avoided leaving any trace of whether he/she is male or female? That's the most identifying identity of all, and yet it's eradicated from this weird letter. So is this letter for real? David Begley writes, "Fake letter published by the Fake News."

"Minnesota Republicans decisively rejected the comeback bid of former governor Tim Pawlenty... who proved unable to overcome his 2016 description of Donald Trump as 'unhinged and unfit'..."

Writes Michael Scherer in WaPo. And if you click on the link you might be momentarily befuddled because the article, which begins with that sentence and names only Tim Pawlenty in the headline, is illustrated with a photograph that's decidedly not Tim Pawlenty. It's Christine Hallquist, a transgender who just won the Democratic nomination for governor of Vermont.
“The Republican Party has shifted,” [said Pawlenty]. “It is the era of Trump, and I’m just not a Trump-like politician.”...

Pawlenty’s defeat came after he and his allies outspent Johnson by a margin of roughly 3 to 1, according to a Democratic consultant tracking the spending. When Trump recently visited Duluth for a political rally, Pawlenty decided not to attend....
Pawlenty got 43.9% of the vote.

"Trump is the first president in more than a century not to have a dog, and his dislike for the pets shows in his frequent put-downs."

From the front-page teaser for "'Like a dog': Trump has a long history of using canine insults to dehumanize enemies" by Philip Rucker at The Washington Post. Trump called Omarosa "that dog"  — and also "a crazed, crying lowlife." So that made an opportunity to talk about dogs, which is one of the most popular things to do on the internet. But that's because we love dogs, right? So what to say about "dog," the insult, which, of course, must be portrayed as really bad, racist actually, because Trump said it?

Let's look:
Animalistic slurs come easily to Trump, who over the past few years has likened a long list of perceived enemies to dogs — including former FBI director James B. Comey, former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates, former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), journalist David Gregory and conservative commentator Erick Erickson.
That makes it hard to call "dog" racist. But not too hard for Rucker.
But in Trump’s telling, Manigault Newman did not simply get fired “like a dog.” She was a “dog” herself.
The old metaphor/simile distinction!

The president’s calling a woman a dog — and not just any woman, but the highest-ranking African American who has served on his White House staff — drew stern condemnations.

“Mr. President, it is beneath you and the office of the presidency to call any woman a dog,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) tweeted. “It is degrading and demeaning, and I pray that you will stop this vulgar behavior. Our country is better than this.”
Yes, it's sexist too. Interesting that Rucker made that point without using the idea that a female dog is a "bitch." By the way, has Trump ever called a woman a bitch? Yes! It's part of the famous Access Hollywood audio: "I moved on her like a bitch." Like a bitch. Another simile. Too much of a complication.

Rucker takes on the conundrum of how "dog" works as an insult when we seem to love dogs. He talks to David Livingstone Smith, "a philosophy professor who studies dehumanization and racism":
Smith said leaders use dehumanizing rhetoric to elicit fear and solidarity against some perceived existential threat from “others.” Yet while dogs are considered dirty in some cultures, such as in the Middle East, they are popular in the United States as household pets and are considered loyal and adoring. Smith suggested that a more apt slur in America would be calling someone a rat or a pig or a wolf.

But Trump, an avowed germaphobe, has long had an aversion to dogs.
Wait. He's good with dogs:

The rest of the article is padded with information about other Presidents having dogs. Morsel of evidence Rucker fails to process: The Secretary of Defense is nicknamed "Mad Dog."

"Whether your doctor is male or female could be a matter of life or death, a new study suggests."

"The study, of more than 580,000 heart patients admitted over two decades to emergency rooms in Florida, found that mortality rates for both women and men were lower when the treating physician was female. And women who were treated by male doctors were the least likely to survive."

From "Should You Choose a Female Doctor?/Studies show that female doctors tend to listen more, and their patients — both male and female — tend to fare better" (NYT). So should you pick the female over the male? "The difference in mortality was slight — about half a percentage point — but when applied to the entire Medicare population, it translates to 32,000 fewer deaths." I guess that means 32,000 fewer deaths per year. Can that be right? I think fewer than 2 million Americans over 65 die each year, and .5% of 2 million is 10,000, so I find the number hard to understand.

Anyway, the article goes on to guess that the difference is that women are better listeners.

From the comments over there:
I am a female surgeon in a male-dominated field (8% of practicing urologists are female). I find these stats in the article to be interesting and I believe that female physicians internally hold themselves to a higher standard. Personally, I feel that I have to prove my competence daily. Routinely after counseling a patient on surgical options, I am almost 100% of the time asked “so who will perform the surgery?”
The theory there is that the female doctors are discriminated against and therefore try harder to demonstrate their worth.

August 14, 2018

At the Other Cafe...

... because a night cafe is good too.

Wisconsin primary results.


"[T]he new [Academy] award won’t devalue the artistic merits of a regular Best Picture victory—nobody will be fooled."

"But it will divert some of the limelight away from the actual Best Picture nominees and winners, and, in so doing, it will divert some of the commercial significance of those nominations and awards, as well. The new category appears to be a play by the studios to siphon off some of the commercial benefits of the awards—to redistribute Oscar-related money upward from independent producers to the studios, from productions costing and yielding tens of millions to ones costing and yielding hundreds of millions. It’s the Oscars equivalent of Republican tax 'reform.'"

There's an analogy!

From "What the Oscars’ New “Popular Film” Category Says About the Art—and Business—of the Movies" by Richard Brody (The New Yorker).

"There were hundreds of 'predator priests' sexually abusing more than 1,000 children in Pennsylvania for decades..."

"... all while being shielded by Roman Catholic Church leaders, according to a scathing grand jury report released Tuesday. 'The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid scandal,' the report states, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 'Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: They hid it all.'...  Church officials would routinely use language like 'horseplay' to downplay concerns brought forward by victims or their families, [Attorney General Josh Shapiro said].... The report names 301 abusive priests, but the grand jury received files on more than 400, Shapiro said, adding, 'We don’t think we got them all' because not all allegations were documented by the church. Dozens of church superiors were also named as complicit.... About 1,000 child victims were identifiable from the church’s records, but investigators believe the real number is much greater...."

The NY Post reports.

"If Tiffany Trump wants to be just another Georgetown Law student, her plan isn’t working."

That WaPo headline sound like a jerk. Do they know what she wants? No. But if that's what she wants, would it mean she has a "plan"? No. There are 2 assumptions before the ha, ha, she's failing announcement, and only one of them is put in an "if" clause. The other, that she has a plan to achieve what she might want, is trampled over in the rush to taunt her for not scheming properly.

But it's just a headline. From the article:
The children of presidents are generally left alone during their undergraduate years. Malia Obama mostly flies under the media radar at Harvard, and other students at Stanford went out of their way to treat Chelsea Clinton as any other classmate.

But Tiffany Trump’s experience has been different. She’s in her mid-20s, and even before she arrived at Georgetown Law, it was clear she would be a proxy for her father’s often divisive politics, whether or not she shares them.

Maria Kari, a Pakistani Canadian lawyer who enrolled in the law school’s master’s program, penned an open letter that was published last year in Teen Vogue. In it she questioned Tiffany’s motivations for choosing law school and outlined her own anxieties about the Trump administration, which she felt was causing “chaos around the world.”

Kari, who shares no classes with Tiffany, had hoped to talk to the first daughter about her concerns and spotted Tiffany leaving a building on campus and introduced herself as the author of the letter. Tiffany, according to Kari, said she had read it several times.

“I told her that I really would love to get coffee sometime and hear her thoughts — I said ‘I’m genuinely curious,’ ” Kari said. Tiffany told her to be in touch, but Kari’s attempts to send an email through the student directory were unsuccessful. Kari also tried DMing her on Instagram, but heard nothing....

Anthony Cook, a law professor who teaches progressive politics and community development, says that Tiffany may encounter critiques of her father’s administration in the classroom. But even the most liberal professors take care not to let partisanship overtake scholarship, he said. “They are mostly focused on analysis of law and teaching the skills that students need — how to isolate the essential issues of a case, how to argue both ways.”...

Greyson Wallis, a graduate who participated in the protest of the Sessions speech as a third-year student, said... [s]ome of her friends think Tiffany shouldn’t be held accountable for her father’s actions. “Some of them say that the sins of the father shouldn’t be visited on the children — but I think that, look, none of us are children,” Wallis said. “She is a grown woman with an Ivy education who has elected to be silent and thereby complicit, like her sister.”...
Interesting to hear from a lawprof whose field is "progressive politics and community development" that the focus is on analyzing the law and learning lawyerly skills. And it's no surprise that Tiffany didn't want to get coffee with the student who professed to be "genuinely curious" about her thoughts. To my ear, the intro "I'm curious" is never as disarming as people who say it seem to think.

What headline would fit the substance of the article? Rather than "If Tiffany Trump wants to be just another Georgetown Law student, her plan isn’t working," a fair headline might be something like "At least some Georgetown students find it hard to let Tiffany Trump be just another law student."

"The jurors were called back to the courtroom shortly after 1:30 p.m., when they heard Manafort’s attorneys rest their case and say they would not be calling any witnesses."

WaPo reports.

"A Brief History of Fat, and Why We Hate It."



... there's a morning café.

August 13, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... talk, talk, talk.

"Just fired Agent Strzok, formerly of the FBI, was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!"

Tweeted Trump.

"'Nobody even told me about it,' Trump says in the recording of a phone call that Newman says is from the day after she was fired from her White House communications post in December."

"'I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that. Goddammit. I don’t love you leaving at all.'... Newman, in a combative interview on Today, dodged questions about whether Trump was lying on the phone call, saying that she was 'not certain.' She added that Trump, in general, is 'absolutely' a serial liar, but said she 'never expected him to lie to the country.' She said she was locked in a room before Kelly told her she was fired, and characterized the meeting as 'false imprisonment.' 'It’s not acceptable for four men to take a woman into a room, lock the door and tell her wait, and tell her that she cannot leave,' she said. 'It also is unacceptable to not allow her to have her lawyer or her counsel, and the moment I said I would like to leave and they said I can’t go, it became false imprisonment."

CNN reports.


ADDED: Trump reacts to his antagonist in 2 tweets this morning:
Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....

...really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me - until she got fired!
ALSO: I'm amused by the phrase "She was vicious, but not smart." It implies (inadvertently) that it might be good to be vicious if you are smart... or okay to be dumb if you're not vicious. Song cue:

That song is actually about Andy Warhol — Andy Warhol as seen by Andy Warhol:
[Warhol] said, ‘Why don’t you write a song called 'Vicious, and I said, 'What kind of vicious?’ ‘Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.’ And I wrote it down literally.
ALSO: Speaking of "vicious, but not smart"... there's a popular notion that Andy Warhol had an IQ of 86, and Gore Vidal once quipped, "Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an I.Q. of 60." I may have already connected that to Trump. I should search my archive, but I'll just say there's a style of using language that looks stupid to people who don't see why it's brilliant, and these uncomprehending people often puzzle aloud — perhaps using big words and long sentences — about how that idiot could be so successful.

AND: One more Trump tweet:
While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!
Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!

"There's a perception that we sit way more than any other culture out there — or even any culture throughout time...."

"Anthropologist David Raichlen at the University of Arizona says that is not accurate.... Raichlen studies modern hunter-gatherers called Hadza, in Tanzania. They live primarily off wild foods, such as tubers, honey and barbecued porcupines. And to acquire this food, there's no doubt they are active.... On average, Hadza adults spend about 75 minutes each day exercising, Raichlen says. That amount is way more than most Americans exercise.... But... [a] few years ago, Raichlen and colleagues... strapped heart-rate monitors onto nearly 50 Hadza adults for eight weeks and measured how often each day, they were just, well ... sitting around. The results shocked Raichlen. 'The Hadza are in resting postures about as much as we Americans are,' he says. 'It's about 10 hours a day.'"

From "To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit" (NPR)(arguing that back pain comes not from sitting to much but sitting the wrong way, with a C-curved spine).

ADDED: Barbecued porcupines! Do they skewer the meat on the animal's own quills?

"In one case, Trump, while studying a briefer’s map of South Asia ahead of a 2017 meeting with India’s prime minister, mispronounced Nepal as 'nipple' and laughingly referred to Bhutan as 'button,” according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting."

From "Trump’s diplomatic learning curve: Time zones, ‘Nambia’ and ‘Nipple’/The president has often perplexed foreign officials and his own aides as he learns how to deal with the world beyond America's borders" (Politico).

"He wasn’t great with recognizing that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time,” said a former Trump NSC official. “When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is,” added a person close to Trump.
AND: I can't believe that Trump's impulse to call somebody at 11:00 at night is going to be directed at any of the 80 and over world leaders.

Think about it: You're Trump. You want to call somebody up and talk about the fate of the world, somebody in a position of power like you and capable of doing something to the world, and it's late at night. Who would you call?

By the way, of the elected world leaders, Trump himself is the oldest (at age 72), so who would this elderly leader even be? King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud? He's 82. Do you picture Trump at 11 at night feeling like just calling him up? Hey, Salman.

Even older are the Prime Minister of Malaysia (the oldest, at 93), Queen Elizabeth, the President of Tunisia, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea, the Emir of Kuwait, the  Governor-General of the Bahamas (Dame Marguerite Pindling, 86), the Governor-General of Belize, the President of Cameroon, the Emperor of Japan, and the President of Lebanon. Who among them would you call late at night? Do you call the home phone number? I assume Trump has all the home phone numbers. At least Dame Marguerite Pindling is in his time zone, but I bet she doesn't pick up after 9 p.m.

"Back then, I wrote all day, getting up at five. By this time, I rise scratchy at six or twitch in bed until seven."

"I drink coffee before I pick up a pen. I look through the newspaper. I try to write all morning, but exhaustion shuts me down by ten o’clock. I dictate a letter. I nap. I rise to a lunch of crackers and peanut butter, followed by further exhaustion. At night I watch baseball on television, and between innings run through the New York Times Book Review. I roll over all night. Breakfast. Coffee."

From "Notes Nearing Ninety: Learning to Write Less" by Donald Hall, who died at the age of 89 just before that essay was published in The Paris Review. The essay appears in his book, "A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety."

How do you see yourself spending at day when you are 90? Are you happy with that picture of yourself? I would be happy, at 90, to have what Hall describes — except "I roll over all night."

WaPo covers the Wisconsin gubernatorial race and — in its effort to help Democrats — shows the awful problem they have.

There's a primary here tomorrow, and the Republican nominee is not in question. It's the current governor, Scott Walker. What's in play is the Democratic Party nomination, and there are 8 candidates in the race, each struggling for some way to come out on top. WaPo seems to want to cover the primary, but the article is, "Once a rising star, Scott Walker is still looking for his path in Trump’s Republican Party."

So Walker is the one with the problem?! It seems to me he's destined to win another election, because the Democratic challenger — whoever it turns out to be — is getting such a late start and will be stuck with ridiculous positions taken trying to win the primary — notably, releasing half the prison population.

But WaPo dithers over Walker's supposed problems. "'This the first year he’s running in a midterm with partisan national head winds against him,' said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll." There's a "blue wave" this year, you see.

You have to scroll down to the bottom third of the article to find out anything about the potential Democratic Party candidate, which is all I'm interested in, because Walker isn't going to lose unless he's challenged by someone who can beat him:
Although eight candidates remain in the race, many Democratic operatives and activists believe that only three have credible paths to victory. Polls show Tony Evers, the three-term state schools superintendent, is the front-runner. If he wins, an Evers-Walker race would become a showdown over Wisconsin’s spending on public education. But some Democrats wonder whether Evers, 66, is inspirational enough to lead the party to victory....
But Evers will probably win in tomorrow's primary, because there are 7 other candidates, and none of them has polled very high, so there's no apparent way to go to the polls tomorrow and say, somebody other than Evers. (And I don't understand why "an Evers-Walker race would become a showdown over Wisconsin’s spending on public education." Evers and Walker have worked together on education, and in that context, Evers has said some nice things about Walker.)
"[Evers is] the same retread of the candidates that we’ve run in the past,” said Mahlon Mitchell, 41, who is president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and would become the state’s first black governor. “You can talk about a ‘blue wave’ . . . but you can’t just go up against [Walker] with the same old rhetoric.”
Mitchell didn't participate in the candidates debate last week, so he doesn't inspire much hope that he can fight Scott Walker, but he does have the distinction of being the black candidate.
Kelda Roys, a former state legislator backed by NARAL and Emily’s List, also argues that she could put together a more effective Democratic coalition. She made national headlines in March by breast-feeding her baby in a campaign ad.
So... there's a woman, and such a woman — she breastfeeds! But the Democrats put up a woman candidate the last time they lost to Scott Walker.
“We can get the real swing voters in Wisconsin, who are suburban married women, if we have a candidate they can relate to,” Roys, 39, said.
That's the pitch? Voters "relating" to the candidate? What if you're not a suburban married woman?

WaPo discussed only 3 of the 8 candidates — the front runner, the black person, and one of the 2 women. What about the woman who's a dairy farmer? I guess the argument is that women should vote for the other woman, because suburban women are the swing voters. But don't rural and small town voters relate to the farmer woman? Identity politics is tough, so I can see why WaPo only skims the surface and pads the article out with material about Walker and details about the hinterland that is Wisconsin. At Friar Tuck’s restaurant, known for its $7 roast beef sandwiches and leather-backed bar stools....