August 14, 2018

"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....

August 12, 2018

At the Lotus Café...


... you can open your heart.

"I felt it as artificial, that sitting down to write a book."

"And that is a feeling that is with me still, all these years later, at the start of a book—I am speaking of an imaginative work. There is no precise theme or story that is with me. Many things are with me; I write the artificial, self-conscious beginnings of many books; until finally some true impulse—the one I have been working toward—possesses me, and I sail away on my year’s labor. And that is mysterious still—that out of artifice one should touch and stir up what is deepest in one’s soul, one’s heart, one’s memory.... Artificial though that novel form is, with its simplifications and distortions, its artificial scenes, and its idea of experience as a crisis that has to be resolved before life resumes its even course. I am describing, very roughly, the feeling of artificiality which was with me at the very beginning, when I was trying to write and wondering what part of my experience could be made to fit the form—wondering, in fact, in the most insidious way, how I could adapt or falsify my experience to make it fit the grand form.... 'I had an impression'—[Somerset Maugham wrote about Thomas Hardy] —'that the real man, to his death unknown and lonely, was a wraith that went a silent way unseen between the writer of his books and the man who led his life, and smiled with ironical detachment at the two puppets….'"

From "On Being a Writer" by V.S. Naipaul from the April 23, 1987 issue of The New York Review of Books. (Naipaul died yesterday.)

"After weeks of hype, white supremacists managed to muster just a couple of dozen supporters on Sunday in the nation’s capital..."

"... for the first anniversary of their deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., finding themselves greatly outnumbered by counterprotesters, police officers and representatives of the news media.... [T]he streets of downtown Washington were charged on Sunday with tension, emotion and noise, particularly in the afternoon, as the right-wing agitator Jason Kessler and perhaps 20 fellow members of the far right... marched under heavy police escort from the Metro station in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood to their barricaded and heavily protected rally area near the White House. They were surrounded by a vast, rolling plume of counterprotesters, who hurled insults, waved middle fingers and chanted 'Shame!'... [I]n Charlottesville... few if any far-right demonstrators could be found, and...  the most palpable tensions developed between left-wing protesters and the police, whose presence in the city was heavy and, some argued, heavy-handed."

From "Rally by White Nationalists Was Over Almost Before It Began" (NYT).

The Crack Emcee moves on to "The Republican Record."

Listen to the new song here (along with the earlier "A Message to Kanye"). "The Republican Record" includes the voices of Nixon, George W., Reagan, and Trump (and begins with Rachel Maddow).

You know The Crack Emcee from our comments section, but please listen to his recordings (or at least one of them) before commenting on this post. Don't just continue the back-and-forth from recent comments threads. Talk about the music.

The 14-year-old running for Governor of Vermont.

It's Ethan Sonneborn:

"'As a white man,' Joe begins, prefacing an insight, revelation, objection or confirmation he’s eager to share — but let’s stop him right there."

"Aside from the fact that he’s white, and a man, what’s his point? What does it signify when people use this now ubiquitous formula ('As a such-and-such, I …') to affix an identity to an observation?.... The literary theorist Barbara Johnson wrote, 'If I tried to speak as a lesbian, wouldn’t I be processing my understanding of myself through media-induced images of what a lesbian is or through my own idealizations of what a lesbian should be?' In the effort to be 'real,' she saw something fake. Another prominent theorist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, thought that the 'as a' move was 'a distancing from oneself,' whereby the speaker became a self-appointed representative of an abstraction, some generalized perspective, and suppressed the actual multiplicity of her identities... It’s because we’re not just one thing that, in everyday conversation, 'as a' can be useful as a way to spotlight some specific feature of who we are. Comedians do a lot of this sort of identity-cuing. In W. Kamau Bell’s recent Netflix special, 'Private School Negro,' the 'as a' cue, explicit or implicit, singles out various of his identities over the course of an hour. Sometimes he’s speaking as a parent, who has to go camping because his kids enjoy camping. Sometimes he’s speaking as an African-American, who, for ancestral reasons, doesn’t see the appeal of camping ('sleeping outdoors on purpose?'). Sometimes — as in a story about having been asked his weight before boarding a small aircraft — he’s speaking as 'a man, a heterosexual, cisgender Dad man.' (Hence: 'I have no idea how much I weigh.')"

Writes philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah in "Go Ahead, Speak for Yourself/Not every opinion needs to be underwritten by your race or gender or other social identity." (NYT).

"Nurturing a few solid relationships without feeling the need to constantly populate your life with chattering voices ultimately may be better for you."

"Thus, if your personality tends toward unsociability, you shouldn’t feel the need to change.... [A]s long as you have regular social contact, you are choosing solitude rather than being forced into it, you have at least a few good friends and your solitude is good for your well-being or productivity... feel free to de-clutter your social calendar. It’s psychologist-approved."

From "Why being a loner may be good for your health/We tend to decry being alone. But emerging research suggests some potential benefits to being a loner – including for our creativity, mental health and even leadership skills" (BBC).

Those are some onerous conditions after "[A]s long as" and before you can "feel free." I'm not really seeing a robust justification of "being a loner." If you're really the loner type, do you "have regular social contact" and "at least a few good friends"? "A few" in my book means more than 2, and "good friends" seems like a pretty high standard, as if you need substantially more than 3 friends to be psychologist-approved to "de-clutter your social calendar." Even that phrase "de-clutter your social calendar" seems ridiculous. It assumes you've got lots of social options and you just want to be free to decline some of them. This isn't a real loner we're talking about. It seems to be about people who take on far more social connection than necessary and have had trouble admitting that it is crowding out something else they'd prefer.

"When moderators at Facebook, Google, and Twitter review the appropriateness of posted content, they generally follow First Amendment-inspired principles..."

"... according to Kate Klonick, a legal scholar who analyzed the practices of the three companies in the Harvard Law Review last year. Some of the platforms’ standards are unsurprising, such as their bans on pornography and terrorist incitement. Other rules require moderators to block 'hate speech,' an ambiguous term that, despite Facebook’s efforts at delineation, can be politicized.... Facebook and YouTube have long positioned themselves as neutral platforms, akin to eBay, open to all who are willing to abide by community standards. They’ve resisted the argument that they are in fact publishers—that their human moderators and algorithms function like magazine editors who select stories and photos. But Facebook’s stance has seemed to shift recently. In April, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, told Congress, 'When people ask us whether we’re a media company or a publisher, what they’re getting at is: do we feel responsible for the content on our platform? I think the answer is clearly yes.'  This is a be-careful-what-you-wish-for intersection; none of us will be happy if Silicon Valley engineers or offshore moderators start editing our ideas.... Practices that marginalize the unconventional right will also marginalize the unconventional left. In these unsettled times, the country could use more new voices, not fewer. From its origins, the American experiment has shown that it is sometimes necessary to defend the rights of awful speakers, for the sake of principles that may help a free and diverse society renew itself."

From "Alex Jones, the First Amendment, and the Digital Public Square/How should we challenge hate-mongering in the age of social media?" by Steve Coll in The New Yorker.