January 18, 2019

At the Red Eye Café...



... you can stay up all night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roll over, Beto, ven vill you go away?

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

Making Beto go away.

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



Reading the links (in order):

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

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



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

The hot messiness of white-woman ass.

Phrases jump out at me as I try to read Rebecca Traister's "Don’t Give Up on the Women’s March" (New York Magazine):
[T]he fact that millions of women and men have turned out for mass protests for two years in a row, not despite tensions over racial, religious, ideological, and economic differences — but in the midst of them, some engaging them head-on — has been one of the most defining and electrifying features of this iteration of a women’s movement. The hot messiness has been one of contemporary feminism’s surest signs of life and of a willingness to work toward being better than it has been in the past.

At the Women’s March convention in 2017, the session on confronting white womanhood was the most oversubscribed of the weekend.... In the two years since, there has been vivid, if insufficient, acknowledgment of white patriarchy, not just within the nation but within the women’s movement.....

There was too little sense that a march of resistance to Donald Trump — organized and primarily attended by white women, co-opting a renewed culture of public protest pioneered within movements for racial justice (BLM) and leftist policy (Occupy), held in the wake of an election in which exit polls showed the majority of white women voting for Donald Trump and 94 percent of black women voting for Hillary Clinton — would have been disastrous. Such an event would have ensured that a contemporary revivification of a woman’s movement was bound to replicate the mistakes of the past, rather than to address and correct them. In other words, Mallory, Perez, and Sarsour wound up covering a lot of white-woman ass in 2017....
The reporting on Mallory, on Farrakhan, on the Women’s March, has taught me so much: about the history and role of the Nation of Islam, about the history of anti-Semitism in some black communities, and of racism within some Jewish communities. Is this not the ideal future for a movement of women, in which we must expose and examine the twisted histories of our own resentments?....
ADDED: It's almost as if Traister is calling on white women — especially Jewish women — to patronize women of color?

January 17, 2019

At the Night Snow Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

"I have so many more part-related questions, but I’ll limit it to just a few for the sake of my word count (and your time)..."

"Do you think about where you part your hair, or do you just allow your hair to fall where it may, willy nilly? Do you agree with my mom that middle parts are 'less flattering'?..."

From "How, When and Why Did Middle Parts Become Cool?" by Harling Ross (at Man Repeller).

For the record, her mom's position was: "I’m just saying, I’ve always heard the philosophy that wearing your part in the middle emphasizes the asymmetries of your face, which is why side parts are more flattering. And I believe that’s true."

I was reading Man Repeller because I'd clicked through to "Menocore is the New Normcore, and It’s a Lot More Comfortable" while reading a NYT article, "The New Mom Uniform of Park Slope/It involves clompy ol’ clogs and a mysterious strap." "Menocore" is, according to the NYT, "a hateful takeoff on normcore, celebrated mostly by women in their 20s on Instagram who haven’t even started going through perimenopause yet."

"We are not going to stop even one minute. Nobody in the rescue team is putting in doubt that we will bring him out, and we all remain confident that he will be alive."

Said a government official quoted in "Crews Race To Save 2-Year-Old Spanish Boy Who Fell Down 300-Foot Hole."
Members of a Swedish company that helped locate the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground in 2010 arrived on Tuesday, Spanish police told Reuters.

Julen was playing with his 1 1/2-year-old cousin when he fell down the hole.... The hole may have been drilled by someone in an attempt to find water, El País reports. "There are hundreds more like that one, covered with rocks, and nobody thinks that anyone could slip down one," an officer with the Civil Guard's nature protection service told the newspaper.
Julen had an older brother, Oliver, who died when he was 3 of cardiac arrest.

Trump strikes back.


AND: Politico characterizes Pelosi's disinvitation of Trump for the State of the Union as "a carefully crafted, old-school letter," in which she "played the political game on her terms and accomplished three important things."

But Scott Adams calls it a strategic blunder (because the House setting for the SOTU is boring and now Trump can give his speech somewhere else):

"Weather permitting, we would sit on the Truman Balcony, enjoying the weather and a martini (or two), with delicious hors d'oeuvres prepared by their extraordinary chefs; they used to make the most delicious, mini open-faced BLTs with a hit of sugar."

Writes Valerie Jarrett in her new memoir, quoted at The Daily Mail.
Jarrett says she loved the movie theaters at the White House and Camp David with their 'very comfortable chairs' that came with a blanket, pillow and a footrest in the front row. Obama's favorite movies had complicated plot lines that involved suffering and ended with everyone dying. 'I think the contrast to real life made him feel better', she writes....

In Saudi Arabia, they stayed at King Abdullah's ranch where she found a large gift box in her villa that contained a huge, green leather briefcase made from reptile skin and filled with emeralds and diamonds, a necklace, earrings, a ring, two watches, a bejeweled pen....

A whirlwind trip to four countries in five days and sleeping all but two nights on Air Force One that wasn't as plush as Valerie had imagined....

Jarrett said on the night of the 2016 elections, she was with the Obamas watching the Marvel superhero movie Doctor Strange. When exit polls started to come in and the outlook did not seem good for Hillary, Michelle went to bed. Valerie decided to leave Barack alone. The next morning, 'the election outcome was soul crushing. We were all clearly shattered.'
The diamonds and emeralds were handed over to the State Department. Gifts like that are accepted but not kept.

Kids eat school lunches from all the decades, beginning with 1900.

"Kamala Harris Was Not a ‘Progressive Prosecutor’/The senator was often on the wrong side of history when she served as California’s attorney general."

Writes lawprof Lara Bazelon in a NYT op-ed.
Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. 
Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors....

In “The Truths We Hold,” Ms. Harris’s recently published memoir, she writes: “America has a deep and dark history of people using the power of the prosecutor as an instrument of injustice.... I know this history well — of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants, of the disproportionate application of the law.”

All too often, she was on the wrong side of that history....
I'm giving this my "NYT pushes Kamala" tag, though it counts against the proposition for which I created the tag.

It would be interesting to see Kamala Harris as the Democratic Party nominee, up against Trump, with Trump able to claim a more progressive record on criminal justice reform.

"When Did SJW Culture Start?" — "There are 6 different causal threads...."

"Both the book and the film work hard to adjust the notion that [Fred] Rogers was... 'a two-dimensional milquetoast who spoke in warm bromides.'"

"In this endeavor [Maxwell King, in "The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers,"] seems obsessed with Rogers’s sexuality—though to be fair, a lot of people are, with the apparent exception of his wife, Joanne, to whom he was married for fifty years. King seems to almost reluctantly settle on 'androgynous' when he might have just left it with what Rogers told a friend: 'Well, you know, I must be right smack in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive.' This would satisfy a preschooler but is too loose for King, who treats his subject’s sex life as if he were conducting a police investigation: 'There was no double life. And without exception, close associates concluded that Fred Rogers was absolutely faithful to his marriage vows.'...  [In the film 'Won't You Be My Neighbor'], François Clemmons, the opera singer who played Officer Clemmons on the show, testifies that, as a gay man, he would have known if Fred Rogers was gay: 'I spent enough time with him that if there was a gay vibe I would have picked it up.' This statement turns out to be complicated by the fact that Rogers initially asked Clemmons to hide his sexuality for fear of scaring sponsors, and encouraged him to marry (which he did).... 'I’m thinking about many different ways of saying I love you,' Rogers tells Clemmons in [one] episode. 'You’ll find many ways to understand what love is,' Clemmons sings. Rogers then notes the way memories are called up by actions, like being in a pool. At the show’s close, Clemmons returns to sing a spiritual, with Rogers beaming. 'I’m so proud of you, François!' Rogers says at one point. It’s hard not to see it as an apology."

From "The Ministry of Mr. Rogers" (The New York Review of Books).

"By the time I got readmitted to the school district, I was 14 but looked pretty much as I do now: six feet tall, full beard, lean, hairy."

"But something miraculous was happening; my peers were catching up to me. Other kids in my grade had started shaving, developing muscles, and thinking about sex as obsessively as I had been since age 4. Plus I was going to a public high school in Los Angeles with 3,000 students. Suddenly, I was just another skinny white kid who smoked too much pot. I stopped sticking out. Most important, after more than a decade, puberty was finally done with me. The hormonal roller coaster leveled out. I calmed down. I could see beyond the immediate moment. Indeed, for the first time, I could see my future, and it scared the shit out of me. My past was stained with expulsions and arrests and violations. College seemed out of the question. It was this vision of personal apocalypse that spurred me to action. I pulled away from my friends, many of whom were getting into hard drugs and would soon end up in rehab or prison. I stopped smoking cigarettes and started playing sports. I read. I took honors classes. I had a long-term relationship with a girl who was smart and kind and ambitious. I got into Dartmouth and earned a fellowship to attend graduate school in Ireland. Along the way, I met Meredith, the woman I would marry, who went on to become an obstetrician/gynecologist and then a female-infertility specialist. Proving the gods do have a sense of humor, infertility medicine is a subspecialty of endocrinology — the field that also studies familial male-limited precocious puberty."

From "A 4-Year-Old Trapped in a Teenager’s Body 'I was all of the things people are when they’re 14 or 15' — except a decade younger" (New York Magazine)(about a man with a gene called the luteinizing hormone/choriogonadotropin receptor (LHCGR), which caused him to enter puberty at age 2).

"The 'spiritual but not religious' of now is not the old New Age."

"What I have been seeing is that this version has much more depth. It has a lot of substance. The conversation I have on the show is really intelligent — we value the life of the mind. It’s not something that is in a category of "This is where my emotions and my spiritual life are" — it shows up in how people do their jobs or the workplaces they want to create or how they think about their life trajectory.... I grew up in an immersive southern world that had all the answers. I do love deep religious conviction, and I really honor that, but I like the idea that we can hold that in a creative tension with a real humility before mystery."

From a long New York Magazine article, "On 'On Being' Krista Tippett tends to her flock in the Church of the Spiritual (but not necessarily religious)" — which is teased on the front page with a phrase that caught my attention: "has made NPR the center of a new New Age":



The phrase "NPR the center of a new New Age" isn't in the article, but there's this:
Th[e] decline in religiosity, particularly among the more educated, urban classes, has meant less community, less ritual gathering, less time for quiet contemplation; that, in turn, has meant more yoga classes with earnest cooldown dharma talks, more meditation studios and acupuncture. It’s meant that SoulCycle and CrossFit and Tough Mudder all have begun to fulfill roles previously occupied by churches and synagogues and mosques.

It has also meant boom times for Krista Tippett and her gentle, quiet, Sunday-morning voice piping through NPR, suggesting a version of spirituality for the cultural one percent, a population fried out on bad news and dire predictions. “On Being” is not about naming the world’s many ills, but it is not about escapism, either — not premium television, or sports, or luxury ecotourism. It’s about imagining a more beautiful, thoughtful, generous way of existing that is neither hopeless nor instrumental but is instead thoughtful and questioning and open.....
ADDED: Phrase in the teaser that I only noticed after publishing this post: "Krista Tippet Is a Religion." Ack!

AND: I notice that NY Mag has 2 different spellings of the name of the person they published a very long article about. Editing!