January 21, 2017

The Women's March in Madison.

At the state capitol today:

Women's March, Madison

The photos are all by my son Chris, not me.

Let's close in on the "Forward" statue — often seen in my old pictures of the Wisconsin protests of 2011. Today, it had on a "pussy hat":

Women's March, Madison

I was critiquing a Women's March poster earlier today — one that was way too complicated — and I said: "Keep it simple. Pick one idea and present it clearly." So I was pleased to see this image:

Women's March, Madison

The Fallopian tube is giving the finger. And it's saying "Boy, Bye," which obviously means about the same thing as giving someone the finger — brusque rejection. If you know the  Beyoncé song, "Sorry," it calls to mind the lyric:
Middle fingers up, put them hands high
Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye
Tell him, boy, bye, boy, bye, middle fingers up
I ain't thinking 'bout you
I'm reading the placard to mean: Get government out of my uterus. The "boy" is Trump and the sign is warning him away from any impingement on the female body. This is a good, straightforward message, and I agree with it.

I do see 2 problems:

1. One might read the "boy" as an unwanted child, waved "bye" through abortion. That's unfortunately mean and not helpful to the abortion rights cause. Abortion is better presented as the woman's choice about what do with her body, not any hatred toward the unborn.

2. The message Get government out of my uterus is a compelling libertarian message, but the Women's March may be seen as demanding more than the continued protection of reproductive freedom (which Trump does endanger, since he's said he wants a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade). Here's a list of the Women's March "unity principles," and it is not a "boy, bye" to the government. It's demanding that the government get very involved in women's bodies:
We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.
It's more of a "hi" than a "bye" — more of a hi, get in here and never go away. If that's your message, that Fallopian tube ought to be waving furiously.

Can someone explain to me why Chuck Schumer spoke at the Trump inauguration?

I've searched many articles and can't find an answer. If you leave out the religious speakers — doing invocations and benedictions — and the Supreme Court Justices administering the oaths, you only get — other than Trump himself — Inaugural Committee chair, Roy Blunt, who gave the opening remarks, and Schumer. Why Schumer?

Schumer's remarks were widely perceived as antagonistic to Trump. Why was Schumer allowed to step on Trump's big day? I don't think he was entitled to speak. I don't think there's a tradition of letting the other party insert a dissenting voice. So why did that happen?

Was it Trump's idea — perhaps some deal-making guile involving flattery and extracting buy-in? I noticed Trump being cozily friendly with Schumer at the Congressional Luncheon and the signing ceremony. Is this a campaign to co-opt Schumer?

But was the Schumer speech antagonistic to Trump? Here's the full text. I'm reading it. He refers to our "challenging" times and our aptitude for dealing with challenges. He praised democracy (without any suggestion that Trump didn't fully win the election). And he mainly used his time to read a letter from a Civil War soldier that showed fortitude and patriotism. That letter, Chuck Schumer says, gives him "solace, strength," and he hopes it "will give you the same."

I guess what's anti-Trump is the suggestion that some people are needing solace and strength to get through the Trump administration and the hyperbole of likening our post-election divisions to the calamitous breakdown that was the Civil War. It's not that big a deal.

I'm just wondering why Schumer was speaking at all.

ADDED: I just happened to turn on CNN and hear:
Maggie Haberman (of the NYT): "Schumer's speech... was not exactly sort of a come-together we're-all-in-this-together. It was essentially a party doctrine."

Dan Balz: "It was a pre-buttal."

Haberman: "Exactly. And it was much more so than we have heard in a while. I understand what Schumer is doing. But if you are Trump, you hear that and then you say, you're only yelling at me about why we're not doing things together."
Fake news!

What Schumer actually said is being forgotten and replaced by a fake story that Schumer went completely partisan and divisive. 

"You know, we’re all worried about living in this fact-free world we’re in right now. The great thing about the local level is you don’t get to do that."

"Either the pothole got filled or it didn’t. It’s not like proving I wasn’t born in Kenya."

Said the 35-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, who's in the running for chair of the Democratic National Committee. Does it seem absurd that the major of a population-101,000 town could beat out Tom Perez and Keith Ellison? But he's an Afghanistan veteran, a Harvard graduate, and a Rhodes Scholar, and he's gay too, so you've got your diversity angle.
“Thanksgiving morning, by the way, I spent in a deer blind with my boyfriend’s father, so how’s that for a 2017 experience?,” he said. “But in the afternoon, we were sitting around the coffee table and his mom showed me this tube of cream, about the size of a tube of toothpaste. Only it’s not skin cream. Well, it is, but it’s topical chemotherapy her life depends on. It costs $2,000 a month. What is she supposed to do if they take away the ACA she used to pay for that?”

It's the "Here our Voice" poster for Women's March on Washington.

That's what it says in the caption at Isthmus, and I can't "here" it, but I c it, and it looks just terrible:

Elsewhere, I'm seeing the poster as "Hear Our Voice," so let me move past the inane caption and look at the poster.

There's just way too much going on. Too many elements. That's a problem in itself. But look at these elements.

Everyone was saying Melania got her inspiration for that blue outfit from Jackie Kennedy...

... but I'm seeing the tie to Laura Bush...

Here's how Melania showed up to appear with her predecessor:

Note the similarity in the sleeve length and the flapped over section at the top as well as the color. The colors are interestingly different, and — funnily enough — for all of Melania's matchy-matchiness* — Laura's color would have much more closely matched the Tiffany box...

... the box that led to so much awkwardness yesterday — laughed at by me here.

I ran across that picture of Laura because, in the comments at that last link, MadisonMan said:
The picture of the Obamas' arrival at the White House 8 years ago includes Michelle handing a package to Laura. Why should she have been surprised to receive something today?
I still haven't found a picture of Michelle arriving with a package for Laura. I have no idea whether bringing a gift is traditional and required or bizarre and rude or somewhere in between, but I do think there is a principle of etiquette that overrides all others which is that when someone else is trying to be nice but gets something technically wrong, you do what you can to smoothly erase the appearance that anything is awry. The classic trope is Drinking the Fingerbowl. Thus, if Melania committed a faux pas, Michelle committed a worse faux pas.

* "Matchy-matchy" has been a standard fashion insult for many years, but as Maureen Dowd said in her live-chatting of the inauguration:
Matchy-matchy used to be bad but Melania may make it a trend. Coats and dresses that match, like old Doris Day movies. Monochromatic outfits that make you look tall and slim, like Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn in the “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” scene where she’s all in fuschia.
ADDED: Here's the video showing that Michelle did in fact bring a gift and hand it to Laura. Watch how deftly Laura hangs onto it while keeping it out of the photo op:

Laura carries it as if she appreciates it and hands it off discreetly to an unseen person after she enters the house.

The NYT banner-headlines Trump's lurid phrase "American carnage."

On the front page, right now:

I love the novelty sunglasses, and I was going to give the NYT credit for highlighting a beautiful woman who supports Trump, but after I did the screen-capture and uploading, my impression that I was looking at a Jean Seberg type of woman...

... gave way to a realization that this is a young man and then that the NYT wasn't saying even some hip, pretty women love Trump but — Listen for the first strains of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me."

In that light, AMERICAN CARNAGE isn't political hokum, it's a dire warning.

So let's find the phrase in context. The article linked through that front-page headline has a different, milder headline, "Donald Trump Is Sworn In as President, Capping His Swift Ascent." But the cherry-picked phrase appears in the first paragraph:
Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, ushering in a new era that he vowed would shatter the established order and reverse a national decline that he called “this American carnage.”
Shatter the established order! Does that seem at odds with ending carnage? No, not if you think he is lying about the existence of carnage and gulling Americans into believing we need dramatic change. The "established order" was presided over by a man, Barack Obama, who got elected under the banner of "change," and "change" was a worship word then. The existing order of the time needed to be overthrown, and it was delightful that Obama had descended from the heavens to perform the miracle.

But Trump has ascended — up from hell? — and the change he's threatening is shattering.

In the NYT's annotated transcript of the speech, we see the carnage line — "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now"— is accompanied by an attempt at factual correction:
Violent crime increased about 4 percent in 2015, but that is a small blip in a decades-long decline in crime. The United States remains far safer than it has been in generations.
But did the speech equate "American carnage" with "violent crime"? Let's look at the text. The line appears about halfway in, after Trump has accused Washington insiders of channeling the rewards of government to themselves and denying the "just and reasonable demands of righteous people."

The demands are 3: "great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves." That's all The People want and it's what they deserve — good schools, neighborhoods, and jobs.

With that premise, Trump unleashes exactly one sentence before the end-to-carnage announcement:
Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
So you see the "carnage" is not merely violent crime. It refers to everything that is robbing people of good lives: poverty, the loss of manufacturing businesses, bad schools, gangs, and drugs, in addition to crime. Trump embraces the people — we are "just and righteous" and "beautiful," but deprived of what government fails to give us as it funnels benefits to its own insiders.

That scam is over. That's what the carnage ends now means.

AND: Sometimes I feel that I'm making things happen. Here's the NYT front page right now, linking to the same article:

January 20, 2017

I'm reasonably proud of my Inauguration Day blogging. There were times — I'm sure you knew...

... when I bit off more than I could chew, but through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all, and I stood tall, and I am done for the night.

I've still got the TV on....

I don't know. This entertainment. It's really bad. It's just not at the level to belong on this grandiose stage.

ME (to Meade): "What were those piano guys called? The Piano Guys?"

MEADE: "Yeah."

ME: "Yeesh." (I can't believe I watched them at the concert last night, and now I have to sit through this again.)

MEADE (reading the internet): "They're a YouTube sensation. From Utah."


Did that one lady who sang "Mack the Knife" end with "Now that Trump is back in town!"? The character in the song "Mack the Knife" is a serial murderer!

I couldn't believe the children singing. It went on so long! Wasn't it their bedtime? All those 60s pop songs that never go away, so you never miss them. I never want to hear "Can't Help Myself" again, but I'm utterly appalled when a little girl who looks about 9 sings the line "I'd do anything you ask me to." Have words lost all meaning?

I know there was a lot of bullying of performers, so that it was very difficult to put this show together at all creditably. I appreciate the predicament. And I know I don't have to watch. I do think averting one's eyes would be best.

Now a bunch of men are clogging. They're attractive men. Oh! He's doing his horse routine and they projected a photo of a statue of a soldier on a horse. Oh, no, they projected the Iwo Jima, flag-raising sculpture. What does Iwo Jima have to do with buff men clogging?

ME (doing voiceover for a dancer): "Let me waggle my ass at you in a military fashion."

I don't really want Sam Moore's backbone to slip. He's 81.

FINALLY: Trump and Melania appear. Her white dress reminds me of cake decorating. Her bare shoulders glimmer. Trump's tux has extremely baggy pants. He eschews tailoring. That's his style. They dance that dance that's not really a dance — just rocking back and forth. I'm worried that the bulky Trump will squish the delicate swirl of fabric that extends from Melania's extensive bust. The dress is floor-length and then some, and I'm sure he's treading on it. Don't tread on me!

The song is "My Way" — "I ate it up and spit it out."

About Donald Trump's incredibly short speech at the Congressional Luncheon.

It may seem that the most distinctive thing about it was how much of it was devoted to applauding Hillary Clinton. That took up about half of the speech, because the applause was long and the speech was so short.

The most distinctive thing was that he made his remarks to the members of Congress so small in relation to the length of the Inaugural Address, which was a speech very much directed to Us the People.

To the members of Congress, he said there was work to be done, and they need to get together to do it. "We all want the same thing. We're all good people. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat doesn't make any difference. We're all going to get along." That's it.

It's not true — other than as an aspiration. But it's his big ask. It's the premise upon which future dealings will be made.

But it's not important. The people in that room were minimized. Humble servants. Our eyes are directed back to the main speech outdoors, to The People. The We-the-People Speech:
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort.... Together, we will determine the course of America and the world.... We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done....
That's a lot of "We."
[W]e are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People. For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost....
The smallness of the remarks to the "small group" at that luncheon implicitly said: It's not about you anymore. It was a call to humility, coming in soft-spoken words from the man who's been portrayed as the biggest narcissist in the world.

And maybe he is. Maybe the cleverest way for him to be the narcissist is to diminish the others who hold governmental power. If he says to them: We of the government must be humble together for the sake of The People, the humility of Congress is more real than any humility that he can possibly take on. He is the President of the United States.

He has perhaps only humiliated all of his serious competitors for power, all the more aggrandizing himself.

So watch out. Don't be taken in. Stand back. Maintain your objectivity. You can't. But try a little. Let's be careful. And hope for the best.

Live-blogging the Trump Inauguration.

1. We've been watching for a couple hours, but I think it's time to get the blog going.

2. I'll say what I suppose everyone is saying — I haven't looked — Melania's outfit is delightfully perfect. The color, the gloves, the length of the sleeves, the high cut of the jacket revealing the slimly columnar torso, the wrapped up, folded over neckline. Love it!

3. There's a scene we here at Meadehouse have watched 3 times and discussed at length. I think the title is: Delivery of the Tiffany Pizza. Donald and Melania drive up to the Obama's house. Donald gets out of the car and amiably greets the Obamas as Melania emerges from the far side of the car and walks around to the steps, and she's carrying a horizontal, flat box — the size and shape of a pizza box — and we know by the color and the white bow that it's from Tiffany. Melania, smiling warmly, joins the group, and she hands the box to Michelle. Michelle reacts as if a box of crap has been foisted on her, and she looks around as if she's truly pissed to be stuck with the box. No one off camera comes forward, presumably because they're all instructed to stay out of the photo op. The 2 saluting military men can't stop saluting. They're not like apartment doormen or hotel bellhops. They can't wrangle the packages. Michelle could pretend to appreciate the gift and hold it in a discreet sideways position. It's not really pizza. It's not as though the cheese will slide off if she turns it vertical. Obama sees he must cater to his wife's emotional needs, and he, in his last moments as President of the United States, walks over, gets the package, and takes it inside the house, and then he comes back out to line up for the big, historical photo.

4. Kellyanne Conway arrives at the Capitol. I saw her earlier on one of the morning shows and thought her majorette outfit could use a hat, so I'm glad to see she's got a nice red hat to complete the costumery. [ADDED: I'm seeing a closeup of the buttons on her coat. They seem to be the heads of lionesses. I think of what Donald Trump said about her last night: "There is no den she will not go into."]

5. Hillary Clinton arrives at the Capitol. She's wearing a nice champagne-colored pantsuit and puts on a matching light overcoat. From off-screen, some reporter yells out, "Madame Secretary, how does it feel to be here today?" Another one says: "How are you feeling, Madame Secretary?" What's she supposed to say? I'll say it for her: How the fuck do you think it feels? We overhear the CNN commentators giggling and one of them — maybe Axelrod — mutters "probably come up with a different question."

6. Axelrod says he finds it "irritating" that some Democratic Party members of Congress are boycotting the inauguration. When Trump takes the oath he will be President for all of us and there's business we need to do as a country, and we need to do it together, he says.

7. The Supreme Court Justices — all 8 of them — are here, arriving together, all in robes. Justice Breyer is carrying a ziploc bag of supplies. Alongside him is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with a brown-colored lace collar. Is that a deliberate variation from white?! Remember she's on record having called Trump "a faker" with "no consistency about him." The Chief Justice looks determined — do not botch the oath. Clarence Thomas — who's doing the oath for Pence — looks happy. Kennedy and Alito seem spry. Elena Kagan seems fine. Sonia Sotomayor, perhaps rather weary, lumbering.

8. Trump and Obama emerge from the White House. They both look grim. Grumpy. CNN has a split screen so we also see Bill and Hillary Clinton arriving at the Capitol. They look grim too. Oh, no, now Bill is smiling. He's on camera, living in the moment, looking good. Good old Bill.

9. "She looks stunning. She looks great. She's stunning in defeat. She looks great." Meade is watching Hillary walk through the halls out toward the inaugural stage.

10. Oh, that steep stairway! So great that no one falls.

11. Trump swivels toward the camera. Looks right at us. He's waiting inside while Pence comes out. Pence has to shake many hands — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, all the Trump ladies, etc. etc.

12. Trump is announced. He walks out. Gives a thumbs up then an upraised fist. Kisses Melania. Kisses Michelle. Takes his place. Who's that lady standing behind him doing an iPhone video?

13. Shots of Trump include Barron, sitting right behind him. Barron looks as though he might be staring into an iPhone. He's corrected by his mother at one point. He yawns. He looks annoyed, even angry.

14. "And God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you..." The Bible reading seems to refer to Trump.

15. Clarence Thomas administers the oath to Mike Pence.

16. An ultra-smooth rendition of "America" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

17. President Donald Trump. It's real now. It happened. Good luck, America!

18. Oh! The speech. I'd forgotten. We have a whole speech to go. "We are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it to you."

19. The theme: YOU. Today is "The day The People became the rulers of this nation once again... Everyone is listening to you now."'

20. "When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice."

21. Trump ends his speech and raises his fist. Waves it around in the air.

"It may rain, it may not rain. I don't care, it doesn't matter. If it really pours that's OK because people will realize it's my real hair and that's OK."

Said Donald Trump, at last night's pre-inaugural dinner. Lots of pictures at the link (to The Daily Mail). Unlike the previous night's dinner, this one had not just Kellyanne Conway but the full triumvirate of Trump women. Melania was sheathed from neck to wrists to floor in skin-tight, nude-tone sparkle. Ivanka was a tower of white with a black void midsection.

Rounding out the female entourage — in addition to Tiffany — was Caitlyn Jenner, dripping fringe and displaying side-boob.

But I want to concentrate on the little speech Trump gave, his last pre-President speech. I was a bit critical of the remarks he made, earlier in the evening, at the feet of the statue of Abraham Lincoln. I said it was too partisan, with the bragging about the campaign and the polls. Some of it was fine, and I'm looking forward to hearing the Inaugural Address, which I hope turns out to be if not appropriate in the standard way at least some new kind of Trump appropriate — Trumpropriate.

The post title is from the text of last night's dinner speech, and now I'm reading the whole thing, live-blogging my reading. Go to the first link to find the full text. I'm just picking out things I want to talk about:
That was some big victory, some victory. And records were set that haven't been beaten since Ronald Reagan from the Republican side. 
That's how he begins, partisan and bragging about winning. And a bit incoherent. If you haven't beaten Reagan, you haven't set a record.

January 19, 2017

"The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.' 'We the People.' 'We shall overcome.' Yes, we can."

President Obama leaves a final note to his fellow Americans.

Trump arrives at the Inaugural Concert — stopping to salute the statue of Abraham Lincoln — to the tune of The Rolling Stones' "Heart of Stone."

"You'll never break this heart of stone," Mick sings — in recorded music — as Donald Trump walks out, holding hands with Melania.

Let's keep watching.

Here's the NYT coverage:
With cameras filming his every move, even his airplane, Mr. Trump arrived in Washington a day before he is sworn in, appearing at a luncheon with supporters at the Trump International Hotel, where he praised the collective I.Q. of his cabinet members.

“We have by far the highest I.Q. of any Cabinet ever assembled,” Mr. Trump said in the remarks, which reporters heard only the first several minutes of before being escorted out.
UPDATE 1: Is Trump tweeting? Seems like he's using a device.

UPDATE 2: 3 Doors Down is performing a song — "Kryptonite" — with the line "If I go crazy then will you still/Call me Superman."

Let me get back to "Heart of Stone." That blew my mind. It was clearly cued up to began as Trump began his walk out. The song begins "There've been so many girls that I've known/I've made so many cry and still I wonder why." Given the gender politics of the campaign, that's radically insolent. And he's walking with his wife. She has to hear of the many "girls" that he's known? The song continues:
Here comes the little girl
I see her walking down the street
She's all by herself
I try and knock her off her feet
Try and knock her off her feet?! Does she just let you?

And later:
Don't keep on looking that some old way
If you try acting sad, you'll only make me glad....
UPDATE 3: Toby Keith is singing, "We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces" and holding up a big red cup of what he calls whiskey. [AND: We know Trump sees alcohol in the light of his older brother's tragic descent and death, so I don't think the alcohol-based crowd-rousing suited the occasion.]

UPDATE 4: I loved the fireworks with the military performance of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." That was properly elevated and spectacular, with reverence appropriate to the occasion and the setting. I'd have liked it if all the music had been done by the military performers, but I understand that some of the popular music suited Trump's man-of-the-people theme.

Trump's speech, with a hand-held mike, was very casual. There were some good references to national unity and a desire to serve all of the people, but too much of it leaned toward the partisan, with bragging about the campaign and even talking about polls.

I thought everyone looked great. Trump had very glossy hair. His black coat went nicely with Melania's black coat. Ivanka stood out in green. Tiffany looked better than I'd ever seen her. All the adults were super-tall. The children were adorable. But kids: No chewing gum!

Stephen Tucker, a 27-year-old farmer in Tennessee, poses with world-record antlers — 47 points.

(Photo by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.)

"When the full rack was scored, the total was 312 ⅜ inches. That made it the highest-scoring buck ever shot by a hunter."
The previous record, 307 ⅝, was set in Iowa in 2003 by 15-year-old Tony Lovstuen, also with a muzzleloader. The biggest rack ever measured was 333 ⅞ on a deer in Missouri, but that was a pickup, or found deer, not one shot by a hunter.
IN THE COMMENTS: Annie C said:
Frankendeer. I hate them. Too many land managers using boosted feed.
Here's a Humane Society article on the subject.

"We don't want your tiny hands/Anywhere near our underpants/We don't want your tiny hands/Anywhere near our underpants..."

A very minimal anti-Trump song by Fiona Apple gets an article of its own in The New York Times.

ADDED: I was glad to have a chance once again to use my underpants tag.  I hadn't used it since March 1st of last year. Oddly enough, the post was about Trump. I was linking to something in the NYT, something tragically titled "Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump":
“They’ll flip their top, and they’ll flip their panties...” read the subject line of a recent news release from Emily’s List, a group that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights. The quote came from comments Mr. Trump made about women on “The Howard Stern Show” in the 1990s, unearthed by BuzzFeed last month.

Those types of comments, spoken by Mr. Trump over the years as he served as a tabloid regular and reality TV star, could help Mrs. Clinton excite suburban women and young women who have been ambivalent or antagonistic toward her candidacy....
The excited suburban and young women will need to content themselves with the women's march. Apple's tiny-hands-underpants song is intended to be chanted by the marching women.

Before that, there was a Jeb Bush interview in February 2015:
When Hannity said he had one more question, Jeb said "boxers." (Bill Clinton's answer to the famously inappropriate question, by the way, was "Usually briefs. I can't believe she did that." Obama's answer was:  "I don't answer those humiliating questions. But whichever one it is, I look good in 'em.")
And remember that sculpture of a man stumbling about in his underpants that disturbed the women of Wellesley College?

And all the posts about Anthony Weiner's underpants? And references to the underpants gnomes? There was the underpants bomber.

And there was the time The Gatsby Project — should I bring back The Gatsby Project? — got to a sentence with underpants:
The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back.
And "Hey, look! It's my giant underpants!"

ALSO: I do want to give Fiona Apple credit for inventing a new chant. "We don't want your tiny hands/Anywhere near our underpants" really is chantable. I'd like to see marches with new chants. I'm really tired of the continual repurposing of: 1. "What do we want?/X!/When do we want it?/Now!" and "Hey, hey, ho, ho/X has got to go." (The Wisconsin protests of 2011 were notable for their distinctive chants: "What's Disgusting?/Union busting" and "This is what democracy looks like.")

"One of the most beautiful photographs I know of is an image of a woman standing in the doorway of a barn, backlit in a sheer nightgown..."

"... peeing on the floorboards beneath her. It was taken in Danville, Virginia, in 1971, by the photographer Emmet Gowin, and the woman in question is his wife, Edith. The picture is so piercingly intimate that I find it difficult even to look at it. This is not because I feel as if I am intruding, or being shown something that I was not meant to see, but simply because it seems to hover too close to the vital force of human connection. It is too poignant, too alive. Rather than merely avoiding clichés—about love and intimacy, artist and muse, public and private­—the picture seems to repel them, as an amulet repels evil spirits. Clichés are prophylactics against the complexity and intensity of direct experience, tools used to distance ourselves from reality, but this photograph brings love near enough that we can feel its hot breath..."

Writes Chris Wiley in The New Yorker. 

ADDED: Isn't it funny that the New Yorker is being so reverential and arty about this in the same week everyone's been talking about the fake news peeing story?

"I simply can't understand people who are driven to work harder than necessary. I admire them. They tend to do great things."

"But I'm in my 30s now and never once has my mind suggested 'You know what sounds fun — working harder!' I've never found myself without some sort of leisure that would be more personally fulfilling."

Another comment in the same discussion:
In one of my last college classes before graduation, I had a professor ask us what we would do if money was no object. We went around the room. Everyone had these answers like 'I would still use my degree" or "I would still work". I was one of the last. I told everyone I would find a beach somewhere and do nothing but be a beach bum and learn to surf. Then when I got sick of that beach, I would go to another beach. And just keep going places but doing mostly nothing except what makes my soul happy. Being a beach bum makes my soul happy. Everyone in the class did not understand that. I would, however, probably volunteer some time to somehow help people and animals. Man, I would start every morning with some mango, paddle out in the water, smoke a joint, and surf. Then beach bum stuff or volleyball. Some sushi, another joint and a fire. Then repeat. Mix in some volunteer work and some hikes. I would be perfectly content being that guy and leaving the world mostly behind except for a dog.

WaPo's Fact Checker looks back on "Obama’s biggest whoppers."

"The Fact Checker started during the 2008 campaign and then went on hiatus for the first two years of President Obama’s presidency before becoming a permanent Washington Post feature in 2011..."

Was the hiatus because you didn't want to fact-check Obama?

We get to see 10 4-Pinocchio statements by Obama, in chronological order, but only beginning after the first 2 years.

The most-remembered one is: "If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it."

The one that relates to the tricking of Mitt Romney was: "The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism." What Obama had said the day after "Benghazi happened" was: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for."

That vague "no acts of terror" must have been carefully chosen, because he said it again, twice, the next day (with "act" instead of "acts"),  "No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world," and "no act of terror will go unpunished." That states a general proposition without saying that Benghazi was an act of terror. And there is a distinction between "terror" and "terrorism" that Glenn Kessler (the Fact Checker) finds important. 

Trump thought of the line "Make America Great Again" the day after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election.

"Five days later, Trump signed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office..."
... in which he asked for exclusive rights to use “Make America Great Again” for “political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues and fundraising in the field of politics.” He enclosed a $325 registration fee....

The slogan itself was not entirely original. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had used “Let’s Make America Great Again” in their 1980 campaign — a fact that Trump maintained he did not know until about a year ago.

“But he didn’t trademark it,” Trump said of Reagan.

His decision to claim legal ownership reflected a businessman’s mind-set. “I think I’m somebody that understands marketing,” Trump said....

The trademark became effective on July 14, 2015, a month after Trump formally announced his campaign and met the legal requirement that he was actually using it for the purposes spelled out in his application.

"Even the chance position of a bird perched on a lamppost has been reproduced, the man who took the photograph was astonished to discover."

Bob's copying again.

What's worse — that Bob painted from somebody else's photograph or that Bob called it America when it was actually England?

Now that we're talking about magazines, and it's the last full day of Obama the President...

... let's look back to Inauguration Week 2009. Here are the shrines to Obama I observed in the (now defunct) Borders Bookstore:

Bookstore shrine to Obama

Bookstore shrine to Obama

Bookstore shrine to Obama

That title "What Obama Means" provoked me at the time: "Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute."

That reconfirmed my practice of reading on line to get my political news and analysis. In our era of fake news, these are fake books* and fake magazines. You don't want to get sucked into the passive experience that awaits you inside these rectangular objects. You've got to keep it digital so you can cut and paste and blog as you read. Save yourself.

I won't go to a bookstore this week, but if I did, I wonder how the front tables and racks would look. I'm sure there are no comparable shrines to Donald Trump. Maybe there are, once again, shrines to Obama: What Did Obama Mean?

* My use (coinage?) of this term is interfered with by the common reference to Facebook as Fakebook and by those wonderful music books that help musicians play 100s of songs.

Just got totally distracted into the subject of songs about magazines.

In the comments to the first post of the day, we were talking about the line "We can try to understand/The New York Times' effect on man" which appears in a NYT video about people doing an exercise routine in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I said:
Here's a discussion of the line...  [in the] book "Hot Stuff: Disco and The Remaking of American Culture"... "Presumably [the Bee Gees] were trying to fit in a reference to the city and convey something about upward mobility. But these are such inelegant, head-shaking lines that for years critic Dave Marsh, eager for more class-conscious lyrics, misheard them as 'We can try to understand / The New York Times don't make a man.'"

The author of the book observes that the movies shows the NYT delivered each morning to the female character. I would add — based on decades-old memory of ["Saturday Night Fever"] — that the NYT represented the NYC that the characters — who lived in seedy 70s Brooklyn — dreamed of reaching some day and the characters do make it to Manhattan in the end.

The movie was based on a New York Magazine article "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night." Maybe the NYT is mentioned in the song because "Times" scans better than "Magazine."
But is the word "magazine" hard to work with? Magazine is kind of a great set of syllables. And magazines stir up so many aspirations and desires. Why wouldn't you write a song with the word "magazine"?

2 songs that had popped into my head were not on the list: "Bennie and the Jets" ("She's got electric boots a mohair suit/You know I read it in a magazine"). And "Darling Nikki" — the song that upset Tipper Gore — rhymes "magazine" with "a sex fiend":

Then I found this Guardian article that for no apparent reason had already fixated on the topic and put together a playlist of 55 songs.

It has one song that should have popped into my head, one of my all time favorite songs, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone":

You're reading all those high fashion magazines/The clothes you're wearin' girl are causing public scenes...

I love the contrast between the "public scenes" in those 2 videos.

"I’m looking forward to being an active consumer of your work rather than always the subject of it."

Said Barack Obama to the White House press corps* on his second-to-last full day as President of the United States. But he's not promising to withdraw and leave the presidential stage to his successor, which is what George W. Bush did for him.

But there's this meme that the new President is not normal, adverted to by Obama:
There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.
Bush, like his father, adhered to an absolute principle. Obama respects the principle by cushioning it with a malleable escape clause: where core** values may be at stake. And what a wide door that is! Not only is the concept "core values" subject to infinite debate, but — whatever these values are — they don't have to be severely threatened, only "at stake." And they don't even need to be at stake. It's enough that they "may" be at stake. Well, then there's really no one-President-at-a-time principle of withdrawal at all.

Obama gives 4 examples of what would override the principle of withdrawal:

1. "Systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion."

2. "Explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise."

3. "Institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press."

4. "Efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids, and send them someplace else, when they love this country."

Is #4 restricted to "kids"? Younger than 18? Is he serious about the condition "when they love this country?" When has Obama shown an interest in limiting immigration to those who actually love America? That sounds like a condition Trump would set.

The 4 examples of what Obama will consider not to be the "normal functioning of politics" suggests that he's ready to exert his influence whenever he wants. We'll see what he wants. The threat that he can drop back in might work as a check on President Trump: Don't stir the sleeping Obama. But we all know Trump has figured out how to leverage opposition. A reactivated Obama would offer a springboard for Trump's antic attacks on Obama. Any deviation from the principle of presidential withdrawal would put at stake the core value of the Dignity of the American Ex-President. And, frankly, it would threaten the the core value of the dignity of the current President.


* Pronounced corpse?

Some of those press corpsmen must feel they are dying, with the withdrawal of life-giving presence of the President We Loved and the arrival of President who tells them to their face they are garbage.

** Pronounced corps.

"And there's no judgment"... oh, but there will be judgment, as the NYT pushes working out inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The video shows the nature of the movement — vigorous walking through fabulous museum rooms with stops for jumping and stretching movement at the feet of grand statues. It's pre-opening, so no one stand in the way of this exercise-focused, seemingly art-oblivious group:

But the video does not include the voice that the museum-goers are hearing. Maira Kalman — who is an interesting author/illustrator — is saying lord knows what. I can only guess from the hints given in the article:
Her narration proffers personal thoughts about art and unexpected aphorisms on mortality. 
Tell me one!

And the video plays only one song, "Stayin' Alive." That has some "aphorisms about mortality" in it: "Life goin' nowhere/Somebody help me, yeah." More importantly, "Stayin' Alive" mentions the New York Times: "We can try to understand/The New York Times' effect on man."

And woman, it's only fair to say, as this marchin'-through-the-museum bunch is overwhelmingly female.

You know, you can also get an early-morning NYC workout by walking briskly outdoors...

To work on the upper body, carry a paint can.

Paint, ah... Back to the museum.

I'm saying that the video of the museum workout is unlike the real experience described in the text because it lacks the voiceover narration and because it plays only one song. It does appear that "Stayin' Alive" is the kind of song that is played: Elton John is cited in the text.

I don't know which Elton John. One of the peppier ones, I bet.

Maybe: "Crocodile Rock." Maybe "Crocodile Rock" as they are passing one of the museum's many representations of crocodiles, though the article never suggests that the music lyrics are keyed to the visual experience.

Quite the opposite:
The workout, with its pop-rock playlist and jazzercise-y moves, successfully removes any pretense or affected erudition. For one, talking is prohibited. (Kalman, at one point, narrates, “I really hate talking about art.”) And the constant disorientation disallows for higher cognitive thought to occur. 
So the one quote from Kalman — "I really hate talking about art" — undercuts the promise of "unexpected aphorisms."

I don't really mind people walking briskly through the vast spaces of the Metropolitan Museum. It's good to get the message out that it's one of the best places in the world to take a long indoor walk.

You don't have to look at the art, except in passing, the way you glance into shop windows when you power down the sidewalks. Big museums get very tedious if you think you need to pause and gaze reverently at every piece of art.

I don't mind if the museum lets some people for special off-hours activities. It needs to build its audience and to remind us to come back and relive its grand spaces.

You could make the Metropolitan Museum of Art your regular "workout." A long, brisk walk is good whether you're in some special organized group or not.

Just don't bump into people. Don't annoy people.

And don't knock into the art. When I saw this article, that was my main concern. You shouldn't be thinking I'm getting a workout! while barging around and swinging your arms in the vicinity of artworks.

Since we didn't get any aphorisms on mortality and you've stayed alive until the end of this post, I will give you a photograph I took in the Metropolitan Museum a while back:

In the Greek and Roman gallery

Quite a lively sarcophagus, no?

And here — your final reward — an unexpected aphorism:
Yes, man is mortal, but that would be only half the trouble. The worst of it is that he's sometimes unexpectedly mortal—there's the trick!

January 18, 2017

"Women are not a footnote to history.... We value women who allege they have been the victims of injustice."

"It takes a great deal of courage to sue the most powerful man on the planet."

"Look, I don’t like tweeting. I have other things I could be doing."

"But I get very dishonest media, very dishonest press. And it’s my only way that I can counteract. When people make misstatements about me, I’m able to say it and call it out."

Said Trump. People like to portray him as tweeting out of an irrepressible urge to blurt out random thoughts. It fits the hopeless-narcissist template. Of course, he rejects that template, and that serves his interests. He might be lying.
“Now if the press were honest, which it’s not, I would absolutely not use Twitter,” he told host Ainsley Earhardt on “Fox & Friends," adding, "I wouldn’t have to.”
If that's a bluff, it's impossible to call.

50 years ago today: The U.S. gets its first spaghetti Western, "A Fistful of Dollars."

"'A Fistful of Dollars' was filmed on a low budget (reported to be $200,000), and Eastwood was paid $15,000 for his role."

You see, I understand you men were just playin' around, but the mule, he just doesn't get it. Course, if you were to all apologize... I don't think it's nice, you laughin'. You see, my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it....

"President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a man convicted for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to more than 100 bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s."

The NYT reports:
The man, Oscar Lopez Rivera, was serving a 70-year sentence after being convicted of numerous charges, including seditious conspiracy, a charge used for those plotting to overthrow the United States government.

He was linked to the radical group known as the F.A.L.N., the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation, and was one of more than a dozen group members convicted in the 1980s....

Levi Dylan, Bob Dylan's grandson, is a model.

Very cute.

More here, from last summer:
“I gave up on music,” he told the Cut at the Cinema Society’s post-screening party for Southside With You on Wednesday, standing in a courtyard outside Harold’s Meat + Three. “I still love to play, but it’s too hard to make a living. And I think that was a mature decision to make.”
His girlfriend got him into modeling: “She kind of set me up, and from there it was sort of like dominoes.”

He's got "DYLAN" tattooed on his forearm.

A cap is more of a hat than a cape is a hate.

Let's frontpage a debate that broke out in the comments. I had said, in the previous post:
Trump the billionaire has successfully bonded with millions of working-class Americans. He's convincingly worn a trucker hat and spoken like a tough guy. Trump's wealth is built on branding, and he made his grand political success out of branding: He's a man of the people.
jacksonjay said...
The Professor can be so dumb. The headwear is OBVIOUSLY a cap not a hat.
I responded (links added):
The standard term for that item of clothing is "trucker hat." I agree that the term for the baseball item is "baseball cap," but I believe the thing Trump wears is not a baseball cap but a trucker hat.

On the standard distinction between the words "hat" and "cap" in English, I'll start the debate with the statement: Not all hats are caps, but all caps are hats... except perhaps a skullcap.
I found a discussion of the hat/cap distinction at the blog of Mary Robinette Kowal, who, I see, is a Hugo-award winning author and professional puppeteer. Kowal writes:

At Donald Trump's big pre-inauguration dinner — Melania isn't there, and neither is Ivanka.

Lots of photographs at The Daily Mail, which puts special emphasis on Kellyanne Conway:
The president-elect was seen stepping off his Trump jet at Reagan National Airport with Conway in tow at about 8pm. She was wearing a white gown and appeared to be carrying a fur coat.
The Daily Mail can be so dumb. In the photograph, the garment is obviously a stole, not a coat. Whether it's real or fake fur is unknown. It doesn't look very nice, so I'm going to assume it's fake fur and Conway is baiting anti-Trumpists to lambaste her for wearing fur.

The article says, "Melania Trump did not appear to have made the trip with her husband," and a commenter says: "Don't think we'll be seeing much more of her. Ivanka has taken on the role of first lady." But there's no sign of Ivanka at this event either.

Whether Ivanka or Melania will step into the made-up "First Lady" role, neither Melania nor Ivanka attended the big gala dinner, as far as I can tell, and the glammed up lady at Trump's side was Kellyanne Conway. Conway has a spouse too, but I don't see him there either. Here's why I think all of this is perfectly okay:

1. Trump was tending to donors. There were about "150 diplomats and 300 or so of Trump's biggest donors and VIPs." He flew down from NY to do the political theater, then got back on his plane and returned to NY. It was a quick business trip. Trump graciously and efficiently cranked through it.

2. Conway is Trump's female partner in this political business. She's up for the political talk and comfortable with the exposure, and she deserves the spotlight for all that she has done.

3. Melania and Ivanka are reserved for other occasions, perhaps more exclusive groups than the 300 top donors. Maybe these women are "reserved" in the other sense: private.

4. Melania and Ivanka may have minds of their own and a distaste for being shown off, especially to big donors, people who have bought access to power. If it is possible to buy access to these women, it's not as easy as being 300th on the list of top donors to a presidential campaign.

5. When they appear at inaugural events, Melania and Ivanka's looks will be subjected to extreme attention. Fashion designers have balked at dressing them, and while I'm sure they can overcome that trifling obstacle, they may want their first entrance on the presidential stage to be more beautiful and grand.

6. Melania and Ivanka may love Kellyanne Conway performing this part of the feminine role.

7. The Obamas have — or so it seems — loved parties. Some of that love may be because they have been loved. It's been relatively simple to show up in nice clothes and get perceived as fabulous by everyone in the press and the political establishment. The experience for the Trumps is completely different. Not only have they already had plenty of fancy parties in their lives — it's no big new thrill — but they don't have the hope the Obamas had of inspiring Americans to enjoy the parties vicariously. With the Obamas, many Americans could feel that the first African-American President and First Lady embodied our dream of progress. If they danced together in fancy clothes, they danced in our hearts: How good we are! Not in all hearts, of course, but in many hearts, and the Obamas knew this, and performed in the Theater of Racial Harmony with enthusiasm and grace.

8. The Trumps must follow the Obamas, and they must know very well that their political show is very different. They step into the roles as very rich people. They've already had plenty of parties — fancier parties — for decades. If they party in the public spotlight, they are rich people, enjoying their riches, excluding us. And there's probably little intrinsic pleasure for them. It's just another party, and, really, an inferior party, humoring donors and diplomats.

9. Upgrading Kellyanne Conway like this dilutes the perception that Ivanka is — in some weird, creepy way — the real First Lady. There are 3 important women, and they appear in different settings. It increases the perception that Melania is the First Lady. She's automatically the First Lady by being the President's wife, so what is the argument that she's lost that status? If Kellyanne and Ivanka both do appearances at Trump's side, Ivanka isn't special enough to oust Melania.

10. Trump the billionaire has successfully bonded with millions of working-class Americans. He's convincingly worn a trucker hat and spoken like a tough guy. Trump's wealth is built on branding, and he made his grand political success out of branding: He's a man of the people. He's told us that he had a great life, and he didn't need to do this, but he saw our need, and the left the pleasures and comforts of his billionaire life to do service for us, to make America great again. To preserve that message, he should not be seen to care about big parties. He's coming to Washington to work — for us — and not to enjoy himself.

11. The message described in #10 is consistent with what we will be seeing from Melania: She's staying in NYC to do her work, which is to care for her son and to support him as he finishes the school year. She's not a rich, self-centered lady eager to show off her beauty and her clothes in the public spotlight. She's modest and circumspect and, like so many of the Americans who voted for her husband, focused on doing a good job at the task in front of her — rearing a child.

January 17, 2017

Obama frees Chelsea Manning!

The NYT reports:
President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.
Manning gets out this May, instead of in 2045.

We were just talking yesterday about the NYT's sympathetic highlighting of Manning's plight. And we were just talking today — it's one post down — about the NYT editorial "Mr. Obama, Pick Up Your Pardon Pen."

ADDED: Obama has also pardoned James Cartwright:
Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, pleaded guilty in October to a single charge of making false statements to federal investigators in 2012 when he was questioned about leaking top secret information on US efforts to cripple Iran’s nuclear program to two journalists. 

"The clemency process is run out of the Justice Department, where career prosecutors have little interest in reversing the work of their colleagues."

"It’s a recipe for intransigence, dysfunction and injustice on a mass scale. Mr. Obama understands the problem, even if he didn’t fix it. As he wrote in an article published in this month’s issue of The Harvard Law Review, the process operates like a lottery, making it hard to tell what distinguishes the few lucky applicants who get clemency from the many deserving ones who don’t."

So write the editors of the NYT in an editorial titled "Mr. Obama, Pick Up Your Pardon Pen." The headline is misleading. Yes, Obama does have a few days left, and he could issue a bunch of pardons. But the point is that the system is bad, Obama obviously knows it, he could have done something to restructure the process, and he did not.

The final sentence is extraordinary for the NYT: "Perhaps President-elect Donald Trump will learn from Mr. Obama’s failure to heed that wisdom."

1. The word "failure," attached to Obama?!

2. Hope expressed that Donald Trump will fix something.

3. Wisdom attributed to — you have to read the preceding sentence — George W. Bush.

"Did Trump really come and meet with Moscow prostitutes?"

Putin asks and answers:
Firstly he is an adult, and secondly he is a person who for many years has organized a beauty pageant, socialized with the most beautiful women in the world. It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world. But finally, you know, what I want to say, prostitution is a serious, ugly, social phenomenon, young women do this connected to the fact that they cannot survive any other way and that is a problem of society but people who order false information and spread this information against the elected President, who fabricate it and use it in a political fight, they are worse than prostitutes.
Ah! This pithy statement proceeds in stages:

1. Defense of Trump: He's got so much access to the most beautiful women that it makes no sense to think he'd consort with low women.

2. Defense of prostitutes: Our prostitutes are great prostitutes!

3. Feminist/left-wing critique: Don't speak of prostitution in terms of low women choosing a degraded way of life. Society forces them into it, and society deserves the blame, and we must improve it.

4. Attack on the purveyors of fake news: Worse than prostitutes!

IN THE COMMENTS: Lyssa quoted "It is hard to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world" and asks: "Did Trump craft this statement? It sounds so much like something that he would say. Maybe he'll fire back at the perceived slights to America's prostitutes."

Freeman Hunt scripts tweets for Trump:
"Even prostitutes are poor in Russia. Sad! American prostitutes at all income levels. Bad work but more money in US!"

"Poor women forced to hook in Russia! Sad! Americans prostitutes by choice. Some big $$$! Against law though. Don't do it! Gross!"

"Americans richer than Russians. No need to be prostitutes! Russian prostitutes better because American prostitutes lazy. Just guessing!"

"Putin wrong. American prostitutes best in world! Have heard. No experience. Always gotten from classy women free. Not prostitutes!"

Here we are.

ADDED: Here's an older video of jack rabbits fighting.

It's interesting, I think — if you want to understand the art of film — that the first video feels immediately and continuously hilarious and the second video — much longer and with insistent music — may not even make you laugh at all.

My first stab at analysis is that the darkness and absence of context in the first video makes it feel abstract and allegorical, causing you to instantly visualize the rabbits as stand-ins for human beings: I know people like that. Silly people are like that. Hey, we're all kind of like that.

You go hurtling through important thoughts quickly. It's not a nature film of curious animal behavior. It's a horror flick shocking us with a harsh look at how stupid we are.

"So Yahoo's now called Altaba - not to be confused with Alt-Abba, the crypto-white nationalist Swedish pop group with hits like #DanzigQueen."

Mocking the Yahoo name change.

That's from a week ago, when the news hit that Yahoo — with one of the all-time great company names — was changing its name to Altaba.

I'm not positive this incredibly stupid change is really happening. There's also this:
Yahoo announced last week that it would be changing its name to Altaba (upon completion of Verizon acquiring core Yahoo) seemingly to reflect the investment in Chinese giant Alibaba.

However, the name change will only take effect if and only if Verizon goes through with the planned acquisition of core Yahoo....
By the way, I'm a little sensitive to all this mockery around the prefix "Alt-." I don't like this late-developing impression that Althouse is a crypto-white nationalist edifice of some kind. The "Alt-" in Althouse means "old" not "alternative" or "high," though "alternative" and "high" are at least as positive as "old." This idea of "Alt-" meaning "crypto-white nationalist" is not only inaccurate, but it's unfair to all of the persons, places, and things that have already constructed our identity with the very positive prefix "Alt-."

"Hillary is going to be very busy as President the next 4-8 years. Donald Trump is going to be very bitter. And the Republicans are just going to be gone. Good riddence."

A comment written 2 months ago on an ABC News article, "2016 Race Stays at 47-43 Through Sunday (POLL)."
Rolling forward to interviews conducted Thursday through Sunday, the ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll shows the same results as its previous estimate of 47 percent for Hillary Clinton and 43 percent for Donald Trump, with Gary Johnson still at 4 percent and Jill Stein now at 1 percent.
I'm reading that today after this brand new article from ABC News, "Trump to Enter Office as Most Unpopular President for at Least 40 Years, Poll Finds":
Donald Trump enters office as the most unpopular of at least the last seven newly elected presidents, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds, with ratings for handling the transition that are also vastly below those of his predecessors.
While you're busy talking about who's the most unpopular President, can you spare a few moments to tell us which news organization has the least accurate polling?

With election polls, you are put to the test and capable of embarrassment in the end, and even so, you're not too reliable. In this current popularity poll, no one can ever show you up. There's no ultimate accounting when the people reveal how much they like or don't like Donald Trump. You can say whatever you want in the form of numbers that are called a poll, but we know that you want to cripple the Trump presidency before it even begins. I consider the poll fake news.

And I realize that from your perspective I am one of those terrible people who have "come unmoored from a shared set of core facts." I'm not hearing the call to adhere to the "knowable, hard, empirical truth." But I can't accept ABC News/Washington Post poll numbers as facts. It's a fact that ABC News/Washington Post got the election polls wrong. I don't want be moored to false facts. It's better to be unmoored. I don't want to believe in a truth beyond the real limits of truth.

I have heard Barack Obama say:
But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.
That's a tricky sentence. If you drift along with it, you might find it blandly pleasant in a can't-we-all-get-along kind of way. But it's actually radically specious! I've written about this sentence before, when I live-blogged Obama's Farewell Address:
Obama resorts to what's been a stock argument with Democrats since the election: We need a "common baseline of facts." That always sounds to me like longing for a time when liberal mainstream media filtered the facts. That's over. What are you going to do about it? The facts are open to debate now, and many voices can be heard. If you really love democracy, why aren't you thrilled?
Looking at this sentence again this morning, I am irritated by its trickiness. The middle part is fine. I like "a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point" — let's keep learning and let's keep talking — and I agree  that "science and reason matter" — let's research and study and think. I love progress in human knowledge and understanding. But why does that fine middle section belong enclosed within the statement: "But without some common baseline of facts... we’re going to keep talking past each other." That says we can't have a real interchange with each other unless we already agree. It's a complete rejection of the idea that people with different understandings of the world can have a good-faith debate and an opportunity to persuade each other or to see the flaws and gaps in their own knowledge and the need for more research and analysis. Why must conversation begin with a common baseline of facts?

It's an ugly, false statement with a big glob of sweetener plopped into it!

ADDED: The ABC/Washington Post poll oversamples: 31% Democrats and 23% Republicans.

Can the President tweet? Yes, but not very well at all.

ncHe hasn't put anything up since January 10th, and it's just:

That's pointing you to another place, the place where he's most comfortable speaking to the American people: on TV, in a calm, upholstered setting, a few feet away from a news or talk-show celebrity whose face glows with love.

And it's odd, isn't it?, that @BarackObama speaks of Barack Obama in the third person — President Obama reflects on eight years of progress.

That's not really the right way to do Twitter. You should feel like a real person, talking straight to us. Directly at us and in clear words that convey specific, almost startling meaning.

And you have to put a few things up every day. Before that January 10th tweet, @BarackObama hadn't tweeted anything since before the election. On November 5th, he tweeted: "In the weekly address, President Obama discusses what #Obamacare has done to improve health care" — (another promo for a speech, a little note to say what I have to say will be somewhere other than on Twitter). And he had 2 posts that day. The other one was: "Let's keep working to keep our economy on a better, stronger course."

Now, I'm reading the fine print: "This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the President are signed -bo." I don't think there's been a "-bo" tweet in over a year.

Imagine the praise that would be lavished on Barack Obama if he'd really tweeted in the way that counts as real tweeting. Imagine if he'd said pithy things that cut to the core of important issues and events and if he had taken good-humored shots at critics. Oh! He'd have been celebrated as the new-media-savvy genius of the world!

But Barack Obama will only be President for 3 more days. The incoming President actually has already established himself a brilliant Twitter user. He has leaped over innumerable political and media critics, danced over their heads in a mind-boggling journey to the White House. He's talked to us the People in clear, sharp words and no one could stop him. We liked the straight talk. Not all of us, but some of us, and those that liked it got their/our way.

But the mainstream media will never celebrate his new-media genius. That's why he had to be a new-media genius to get where he did in the most impressive free-speech achievement in the history of the world. Oh! Suddenly, I am celebrating him. But I'm not mainstream media. I'm new media too. I'm savvy in my own way in my little domain of blogging, and I think I can say from one new-media voice to another: I celebrate you! 

And to those old media people who publicly agonize about the prospect of the new President tweeting: I have seen your phony-baloney worried faces on the news shows...

...  as you confront the serioso question whether Trump's advisers can stop him from tweeting. You are worried about yourselves, and rightly so. And you know damned well you'd have been utterly delighted and overflowing with praise if Barack Obama had tweeted like Donald Trump.

ADDED: Organizing for Action. That sounds familiar. Ah! Here it is. My post from January 18, 2013:
"Obama unveils 'Organizing for Action.'"

I read the Politico headline out loud.

Meade immediately improvises a song, and I have the wit and the skill to transcribe as he sings:
Organize for action
Organize for some action, baby
Organize! Organize!
Organize my organ
Activate my organ for organizing
A little girly action
Organize for action
ADDED: "You in?"
Ha ha. And now, clicking on the Politico link, I see why @BarackObama is such a dead, dull Twitter feed:
President Barack Obama on Friday announced the relaunch of his remaining campaign apparatus as a new tax-exempt group called Organizing for Action that will “play an active role” in “mobilizing around and speaking out in support of important legislation” during his second term.
The tax code lures people into restricting their own speech. Obama let his name appear on a Twitter feed that was doomed to be un-Twitter-y by the need to fit the demands of the IRS. Big Government trips over itself. Sad!

ALSO: I am directed to the Twitter feed @POTUS. This too presents itself as Barack Obama tweeting. I see 3 MLK Day tweets. e.g., "Dr. King and those who marched with him proved that people who love their country can change it. As Americans, we all owe them a great deal." Before that there is a January 12th post expressing pride in the arrival of Obama's autograph on Mars.

There is a January 12th post:
Thank you for everything. My last ask is the same as my first. I'm asking you to believe—not in my ability to create change, but in yours.
Ask not what your President can change for you, ask what you can do for change.

On January 1st, similarly, Barack Obama spoke in vague terms about himself:
It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year everybody.
And, also on New Year's, he approved of himself in a series of tweets like:
From realizing marriage equality to removing barriers to opportunity, we've made history in our work to reaffirm that all are created equal.
I've reviewed this Twitter feed too, and I stand by my position that Barack Obama is not doing anything that I would count as real tweeting. There's no sense that the human being Barack Obama is using Twitter to speak to us directly and to speak clearly in his personal voice. Like @BarackObama, @POTUS feels like banal PR written by some unknown person with an assignment to cause a Twitter presence to exist. 

AND: I've actually followed @POTUS since its inception, so I have seen it come up continually as I read Twitter. It's obviously not made an impression on me as something beyond a generic White House PR feed.

January 16, 2017

The 18 highest ranked comments on the NYT article "Chelsea Manning Describes Bleak Life in a Men’s Prison."

The disjuncture between the NYT and its readers is extreme. 

The highest rated comment is this:
As a physician who has worked with prisoners, what bothers me is how many medical amenities Chelsea is getting compared to the average prisoner. Prisoners show up with horrific late stage disseminated cancers because of staff apathy. If a patient shows up struggling to breathe or talk because there's a laryngeal mass in their hypopharynx closing off their airway and they had to wait 2 years to be seen, why should Chelsea Manning get speech therapy? The system is struggling to have life threatening conditions treated, it is not justified to spend resources on elective therapy.
(According to the article, Chelsea Manning receives "speech therapy to feminize the tone and pitch of her voice.")

Next highest:
Maybe he shouldn't have committed a crime. We're 20 trillion in debt why are we paying for prisoner sex changes. Real vets, who served with honor and distinction, who are wounded need care, can't get it, commit suicide at alarming rates and we waste money on prisoner sex changes. This is insane. What happened to common sense.

"Cobb said the final play was not an actual playcall. Rodgers just told each receiver what to do..."

"... like a kid drawing in the dirt. Seriously."

"It’s very hard to lose weight in the Trump era.... I’m trying so hard to have it not turn into 30 pounds."

"I think it tests our ability to not want to numb out. There’s so many things that are hard to hear every day that you do want to have some Oreos. Like people say, what do you invest in during the Trump era? I feel like, Hostess Cakes. Most of us are just scared and eating ice cream."

Said Judd Apatow. He was talking Maureen Dowd, whom he treated to a meal of "spinach omelets with hash browns and hot sauce that he has picked up after dropping off his daughter at school."

I extract these details from the column because:

1. It's a somewhat charming, self-effacing confession that anyone might make: What's happening in politics seems horrible to me, so I comfort myself with the sweet, creamy foods of childhood.

2. Apatow is a big old powerful movie maker, so why is he being such a big baby? My guess is that his success lies in channeling the mundane reactions of young and powerless people, so it serves him well to relax into immature thinking patterns. It's creative, lucrative work for him. Easy work! What a lucky guy!

3. He's eating Oreos? That's his food reference? Trump owns Oreos foolery:

4. What kind of rich man entertains his NYT interviewer by serving her a take-out spinach omelet with hash browns and hot sauce? Take-out is bad enough, but a take-out omelet? I think an omelet is something you get out of the pan and onto the table in seconds or you just don't serve it at all. And then to make it spinach? What the hell are you trying to say? It would make more sense to serve Oreos and ice cream.

5. Has Maureen Dowd ever indicated her amenability to omelets? Back in February 2010, she forefronted an omelet served to her in a restaurant — so presumably she ordered it — in the presence of Harold Ford Jr. — or maybe it's only what he's eating — and she connected said eggs to the grossness of Harold Ford's feet:
Between bites of an egg-white garden omelet at a bistro in his Union Square neighborhood, Harold Ford Jr. defended himself on pedicures and flip-flops.

“I either run or try to play basketball every day,” he said. “I have severe athlete’s foot — feet. I get a foot scrub out of respect for my wife because getting into bed with what I have when I take my socks off isn’t respectful to anybody.”
I'm not reading that as an OK on omelets. I'm reading that as wafting methanethiol. And that was a high-tone, fresh-cooked, designed-for-a-lady egg-white garden omelet, not something that would be dumped into a styrofoam container to be called back to life with hot sauce.

January 15, 2017

Rockslide on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Photograph by Zion National Park.

That's approximately 200 tons of rocks that slid down on Friday evening.

We'd been thinking of Zion National Park as a good winter road trip destination. We are recalibrating.

Trump has interviewed 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor — one of the candidates on the list for Supreme Court nominees.

David Lat reports and explains why Pryor's chances are so good:
First, Sessions is a major Pryor proponent — and now that Sessions is definitely going to be AG, having killed it at his hearings, his Trumpworld stock is way up and his views enjoy greater sway within the administration. Sessions and Pryor are close friends and have known each for more than 20 years....

Second, the success of Sessions shows that what gets liberals all hot and bothered isn’t necessarily enough to stop a nominee — and this might encourage the Trump Administration to “go bold,” swing for the fences, and put up Pryor. Judge Pryor, more than any other potential Trump nominee, triggers strong opposition from liberal interest groups — civil rights groups, LGBT groups, and especially pro-abortion groups, who loathe his comments about Roe v. Wade (“worst abomination in the history of constitutional law”)....

Judge Pryor is very conservative and very outspoken — but he’s also very smart and a stickler for preparation, and he would likely perform well at confirmation hearings....

"They are the opposition party. I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."

The possible plan to move the press corps out of the White House press room over to the White House Conference Center or to the Old Executive Office Building.
Reporters have had some sort of workspace at the White House since Teddy Roosevelt's time, but the current press room is an artifact of the Richard Nixon era, the dawn of the symbiosis of the press and the modern presidency. The "room" is actually a space containing work stations and broadcast booths, as well as the briefing area that is so familiar to viewers of presidential news conferences.

For the media, the White House press room—situated on the first floor, in the space between the presidential residence and the West Wing—is not only a convenience, with prime sources just steps away. It is also a symbol of the press' cherished role as representatives of the American people.....
Should they be ousted if they are not playing the role the place supposedly symbolizes? Are they representing us, the People, who, collectively, elected Trump, or are they representing the Democratic Party?

I don't know that the symbolism is what should determine whether the press has that space or some other space, but I don't think the press — with respect to the Trump administration — represents the people. I think the statement "They are the opposition party" is much more accurate. Too bad they did that to themselves. We could use a vigorous, professional press.

"Don't give up blogging; our minds would rust without you. But I think you have earned a retirement from watching those Sunday morning panel shows."

I'm reading the comments on yesterday's post "This blog is 13 years old today" just after shutting off the TV — after 2 minutes — with the thought I don't have to do this. Not that I ever had to do it. It wasn't my job to monitor the Sunday morning shows.

The quote is from WA-mom. And thanks to all who commented on my bloggiversary post — and on all posts, which (I assure you) are written because I have genuinely found something interesting. I'm not under assignment to do any of this. It's not like the way I had to submit myself to the task of reading, say, Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, when it was my job to teach Conlaw1.

Why have I watched the Sunday shows? It's a one-day-a-week variation from the usual approach to looking around for something to talk about. Often I do sit through 3 or even 4 or 5 of them. This morning, I couldn't get started even on the first one.

What's blocking me isn't that I just retired and I'm living in a new way. It's that — or so it seemed from the first 2 minutes — the shows are grinding through all the complaints about Donald Trump. I feel I've heard them, I've had my fill of the grousing, and I think a new President deserves his moment of elevated pomp followed by a fair chance to show he can do something beneficial for the country. I've never seen anything like this kind of hostility and opposition thrown in front of a new President.

I think Trump has figured out how to thrive on hostility and opposition, and I know it causes me to root for him. It's my instinct to pull for the underdog, even as I recognize the absurdity of seeing the most powerful man in the world as the underdog. But that's what the Trump haters have done. Congratulations, you nitwits. Now, could you sing me a song about your triumph?

By the way, celebrities, "I Will Survive" is not "by Gloria Gaynor." The song was written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. The big hit version was sung by Gloria Gaynor, but when it's you singing it, you're not singing a song by Gloria Gaynor. But I appreciate your underscoring how embarrassingly stupid you are. That helps the rest of us "survive" — by ignoring everything you have to say.