April 29, 2017

At the Late Afternoon Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

Trump's secret weapon: We don't want to be bored.

An intuition that arose from seeing these 2 articles in quick succession today:

1. In the NYT (top center of the front page): "Our White House Reporters Recall Their Most Vivid Moments of Trump’s First 100 Days/Covering the Trump White House can be exhilarating, maddening, exhausting — but never boring. The New York Times’s White House correspondents recall memorable moments from their first 100 days on the beat."

2. On WaPo's front page, a link to an opinion by Kathleen Parker: "Disliking Trump is getting very boring." ("The 24/7 news cycle has jumped the shark with its incessant critique of the first 100.... Disliking Trump, even for all the right reasons, is exhausting and unsustainable. It’s also boring. With 265 days still left of Trump’s first year — talk about exhausting — our highest calling is to encourage wiser men and women to prevail, to ignore most of what Trump says....")

At the time of the rise of the Tea Party, in the spring of 2010, "Bannon went through 'a visible transformation,' a friend said."

"'In his days in business, he dressed like an investment banker from Connecticut—shirt and jacket, tie or not, boring men’s shoes, a short, conventional men’s haircut. But he couldn’t show up at the Tea Party dressed like that. He started dressing more casually. There was this other side of him—he was from the South, he could be in a sports bar in West Virginia, and he would be accepted... He never fit in in the world of investment banking—he was this gauche Irish kid. Never fit in in the Hollywood world—his politics were much too conservative. Never fit in in the mainstream Republican world—he wasn’t uptight like them. But then he got embraced by the Tea Party world. He really started playing that role, and he came into his own. He loved being on TV.'"

From "HOW HOLLYWOOD REMEMBERS STEVE BANNON/He says that, before he became a senior adviser to the President, he was a successful player in the film industry. But what did he actually do?" by Connie Bruck (in The New Yorker).

Also about clothing:
In 2011, Bannon released a documentary about Sarah Palin, “The Undefeated.”... The real star of the movie was Andrew Breitbart... Over footage of a young man wearing a fitted suit in a corporate office, Breitbart says, "When you go to Washington, D.C., and you meet with the conservative movement, it’s as if they’ve read the exact right books, taken the right tests, met the right people, are wearing the right outfits, wearing the right tie—and you almost feel like an outsider, even though you’re in the actual conservative movement."
To pick up that topic of books, let me just pull out 2 things:
1. "By the early aughts, the former Hollywood colleague recalled, '[Bannon] was sitting on Canon Drive, in his fabulous office, his bookshelves lined with military and history books, and he would take meetings all day with people, some of whom came to him for money for their movies."

2. "When the girls were ready to start kindergarten, Bannon and his ex-wife visited a number of schools. During an interview at one of them, she wrote in a court filing, Bannon 'asked the director why there were so many Chanukah books in the library.'"

"Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong."

"Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts. None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism.... Perhaps if there had been less certitude and more second-guessing in Clinton’s campaign, she’d be president. Perhaps if there were less certitude about our climate future, more Americans would be interested in having a reasoned conversation about it."

From Bret Stephens's first NYT column, "Climate of Complete Certainty."

The commenters are trashing him for comparing the deficiencies of the Clinton campaign's use of data analytics with the science of climatology and for not seeing why action is sometimes needed even when you don't have absolute certainty about what's going to happen in the future.

But Stephens is trying to get people to understand how to talk with each other. I'm giving this my new "separatism" tag — invented in the previous post after something the film director John Waters said: "You know, I'm not a separatist, I'm friends with some people who voted for Trump, not many."

ADDED: Is "scientism" an annoying word? I noticed MadAsHell in the comments complaining about it — along with "traduces," "censoriously," "overweening," and "certitude." It's funny, where one's tipping point is, when you get that thesaurus-y feeling. I definitely get it at "traduces," but swallow "censoriously," "overweening," and "certitude" easily.

"Scientism," though, is a weird word. Why do we need it in addition to "science"? What's the work of the "-ism"? It makes "science" into an insult, like you're being too science-y, to the point where it's not even science at all, but a religion with the trappings of science. I looked up the word in the OED, and that got me into this George Bernard Shaw opus, "Back to Methuselah (A Metabiological Pentateuch)":
Let the Churches ask themselves why there is no revolt against the dogmas of mathematics though there is one against the dogmas of religion. It is not that the mathematical dogmas are more comprehensible. The law of inverse squares is as incomprehensible to the common man as the Athanasian creed. It is not that science is free from legends, witchcraft, miracles, biographic boostings of quacks as heroes and saints, and of barren scoundrels as explorers and discoverers. On the contrary, the iconography and hagiology of Scientism are as copious as they are mostly squalid. But no student of science has yet been taught that specific gravity consists in the belief that Archimedes jumped out of his bath and ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting Eureka, Eureka, or that the law of inverse squares must be discarded if anyone can prove that Newton was never in an orchard in his life. When some unusually conscientious or enterprising bacteriologist reads the pamphlets of Jenner, and discovers that they might have been written by an ignorant but curious and observant nurserymaid, and could not possibly have been written by any person with a scientifically trained mind, he does not feel that the whole edifice of science has collapsed and crumbled, and that there is no such thing as smallpox. It may come to that yet; for hygiene, as it forces its way into our schools, is being taught as falsely as religion is taught there; but in mathematics and physics the faith is still kept pure, and you may take the law and leave the legends without suspicion of heresy. Accordingly, the tower of the mathematician stands unshaken whilst the temple of the priest rocks to its foundation.

"Saturday Night Live" is "incredibly brilliant activism, I think and I'm for that, it's using humor again as terrorism like the Yippies did..."

"... to make fun of the enemy until they squirm in embarrassment and that's fair, that's good terrorism to me. You have to make each other laugh. If you just go out there and are preaching, no one's going to listen. You know, I'm not a separatist, I'm friends with some people who voted for Trump, not many. Nobody has the nerve to tell me, but a few have."

Said John Waters, who seems to have a lot of friends.  I enjoyed his use of the term "separatist."

Oh, that reminds me of something I wanted to show you, this Heineken ad. It's anti-separationist:

"The 70 Best Magazine Covers of the '70s."

I doubt if these actually are the best, and the ranking seems haphazard, but I was in the mood to reminisce about magazines in the 1970s. Here, I picked out 4 to show you. Kind of working on a theme:

"These pants embody a masochist aesthetic. They are ostensibly 'chill' and yet they are not comfortable..."

"... high waist, no stretch, devious center seams. At their most extreme they have the potential to be punishing both physically (you don’t feel good) and visually (you don’t look so good, either), which seems like a remarkable achievement. We have arrived at wide-leg pants that are somehow more restrictive than the typical tight ones. These pants propose a pants-strategy that is the exact inverse of jeggings."

From "Succumb to the Siren Song of Unflattering Pants."

To augment your understanding: "11 Pairs of Unflattering Pants That Will Make You Look Ugly-Cool."

You have to think about the idea that to look ugly is to be cool. You might never believe that idea, but just get your head around it. Put yourself in the shoes of — inhabit the pants of — somebody who believes that, yes, it's true. Hmm. Jeesh. Levi's has pants called "Wedgie Icon Jeans." Wedgie! This is what's so interesting here. Pants that are not ugly because they're nice and comfortable. They are ugly and uncomfortable. If you're wearing something odd looking, you don't want people to infer that you're wearing it because you don't care about fashion and just want to be comfortable. It's humiliating to wear something that elicits the noncompliment "That looks comfortable."

By the way, many years ago, in the 1970s, before I went to law school, when I fancied myself an artist, I had a day job that consisted of reading all the magazines, including all the fashion magazines. (All is only a slight exaggeration.) For 2 years, I saw the trends come and go, and the insight I remember 40 years later is that some designs are brought forward and promoted as good mostly so that a year later it could be trashed as "suddenly" looking awful. The funniest lines in the intro from the editor in chief of Vogue were making fun of something that I knew very well Vogue had quite recently, mischievously told us looked exactly right "today."

I was reading Vogue in the Grace Mirabella years, and now I feel like reading her book, "In and Out at Vogue."

What's the life span of a social media app?

I don't know. Maybe some are immortal. But Yik Yak ended.
The app, by its design, was problematic from its inception. A platform where people can say whatever they’d like without disclosing their identity? What could possibly go wrong?...
Mean things were said. Bullying. Hate speech. Threats. The company tried to deal with it:
The company tried introducing handles to make the app safer and more enjoyable for users, but this backfired and translated to more targeted harassment. Last August, the company required all users to disclose their identities in order to use the app, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to keep its user base from ditching the app. RIP, Yik Yak. You were a real beast.
I've blogged about Yik Yak before. A year or so ago, I read it pretty often trying to see what terrible things might be going on around here in this forum that had been — until they tried to fix it — optimized for uninhibited speech. I never participated, but only eavesdropped, and I found the opposite of meanness and bullying. From my old posts:

1. December 28, 2015: "So I downloaded Yik Yak, because I wanted to see what the students around here are talking about. The #1 thing seems to be that the professors haven't put their grades in yet."

2. March 6, 2016: "By the way, I downloaded Yik Yak after I read that it was full of horrible racist and sexist things. I never see that here. I see, in addition to jokes, people who are trying to get up the nerve to talk to somebody they like, concern about doing well in school, and expressions of joy at having seen a dog."

For anybody around here, I believe, Yik Yak would have worked as a cure for the feeling that other people are mean. It would have made you feel that other people are busy, often shy, and pretty damned nice. But it's gone now, because some tiny percentage of the speech amounted to something that people could point to and call hate. 

"They overlooked so many very basic things. And baby, they forgot to make me sign an NDA."

Great closing line to an article in New York Magazine titled "I Worked at Fyre Festival. It Was Always Going to Be a Disaster."

April 28, 2017

I'm so tired of all the 100-days-of-Trump articles, especially the idiotic assigning of grades...

... but I like where Glenn Reynolds came out in this USA Today roundup of grades for Trump:
President Trump was elected in no small part because he was not Hillary Clinton, and he's done an A+ job of not being Hillary Clinton during his first 100 days.... And, I'm happy to say, I expect President Trump to go on not being Hillary Clinton for the next four (or eight!) years. A+ job, Mr. President!
That reminds me of a conversation we had on this blog on April 1st, when I raised the topic, "Trump is down to the last month of his first 100 days/How do you think he's doing?" I copied this colloquy I'd had with a commenter in an earlier post:
David Begley said:
Trump has accomplished more POSITIVE things in less than 100 days than Obama did in 8 long years.
I reacted to that:
I like the way Trump has accomplished NEGATIVE things.

Less doing. More nothing. That's what I want.

I give him credit for what he has NOT done. Where are the big bungles? He DIDN'T get that health thing done. That was good, no? Nothing military has happened. No foreign affairs blowups. Etc.
David Begley said:
Item one: Trump has begun to tear down the CAGW scam. That single positive thing will save billions.
I reacted to that:
Notice how that is SUBTRACTIVE and further supports my argument that his accomplishments are NEGATIVE.
That got The Cracker Emcee to say:
Every single day he's been in office, Hillary has not. You can't get more positively subtractive than that.

The NYT profile of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, seems to have spurred talk about starting a new conservative cable news channel.

"The piece struck fear into the minds of some Fox News’ hardcore conservatives with talk of the sons wanting to rid the company 'of the old-guard culture on which their father built his empire' and bringing 'a warmer and fuzzier workplace' that would move away from an 'anti-politically correct environment,'" Mediaite reports.
Could the new channel include stars like the ousted Bill O’Reilly, who didn’t waste much time hitting the podcast waves after he was fired amid a sexual harassment scandal? Could Tomi Lahren, the conservative mega star, who was recently sidelined at The Blaze also take on a prominent role?...

“I just don’t see Fox News and Sean [Hannity] aving a long relationship. If Sean becomes available, you have 100 percent turnover in primetime and a huge opportunity,” a television executive, who didn’t want to be identified, but is involved in some of the talks, told Mediaite.

“I’m working on it (the new conservative channel) hot and heavy,” the source said. “It’s live, it’s real.” The new channel could come to fruition within the next 10 to 12 months, the executive said.
Would you like to see this new cable channel happen?
pollcode.com free polls

The return of "Roseanne."

Not just the delightful comedienne, the Lucy of the 90s. The actual sitcom, with the whole original cast (at least for 8 episodes).

What will the characters be up to after all these years? Perhaps what Roseanne herself sketched out on her website in 2009:
Roseanne and Jackie opening the first medical marijuana dispensary in Lanford; Dan reappearing alive after faking his death; DJ being published; Mark dying in Iraq; David leaving Darlene for a woman half his age; Darlene coming out, meeting a woman and having a baby with her; Becky working at Walmart; Arnie befriending the governor of Illinois and remarrying Nancy; Bev selling a painting for $10,000; Jerry and the grandsons forming a boy band; and Bonnie being arrested for selling crack.

At the Dropping Out Café...


... I'm finding the morning news unreadable, unclickable. You say something, won't you?

"A Bahamas festival backed by a host of A-list models and with packages costing up to £10,000 ($13,000) has descended into chaos..."

"... amid reports guests have been stranded at an unfinished site overrun by feral dogs. The boutique Fyre Festival, due to start today and run over two weekends, was billed as a 'cultural moment created from an alchemic blend of music, art, and food'... While the website promised 'chef-curated culinary pop ups' one reveller posted a picture of a basic cheese sandwich served out of a polystyrene box. Paying guests were told they could expect to stay in 'modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes.' But some online likened the 'cabanas' to disaster zone relief tents...."

Reports The Daily Mail.

Why is that so much fun to read? The top-rated comment there with 980 up votes and only 9 down votes is just, in its entirety, "LOL."

"The president took us to every room and looked at every painting and talked about every bed and every carpet and every rug and every bulletproof glass."

A quote from Ted Nugent is the jumping off point for a WaPo style piece titled "Alone in the White House, Trump is enjoying the perks of his new home." The WaPo writer, Krissah Thompson unleashes the inferences:
But the fact that Trump entertained Nugent’s party, which included Sarah Palin and Kid Rock, for four hours on a Wednesday night may indicate his hunger for company. Trump currently has more than 20,000 square feet to himself in the official residence on the second and third floor of the East Wing — at least until his wife, Melania, and son Barron move from New York to Washington....
It is weird to think of him being alone there. I'd watch that movie. But he's not alone if you count the staff. There are "95 full-time ushers, butlers, chefs, housekeepers and other workers." I'm picturing something like the old TV show "Benson" — "Benson" on steroids, because Trump is the President, not just a governor, and he doesn't just have one butler, but 95 butlers and other servants. And the Governor in "Benson" may have had no spouse, but he had a daughter. The Governor did have some other staff (including, for a while, a delivery boy, Frankie, played by Jerry Seinfeld).

Here's 12 minutes from first season of "Benson," in case you'd like to visualize a TV show about lonely Trump, shot in the style of "Benson."

ADDED: I know there was show with the President in the White House done like an old-time sitcom, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "That's My Bush!"
The duo were "95 percent sure" that Democratic candidate Al Gore would win, and tentatively titled the show Everybody Loves Al. It was, essentially, the same show: a lovable main character, the sassy maid, the wacky neighbor. Parker said the producers did not want to make fun of politics, but instead lampoon sitcoms. 
And there was a full-size family, as in so many sitcoms, and the idea involved cutting the President down to the size of an ordinary sitcom dad. I want something about a full-size President, who is lonely and rattling around in the spooky old mansion, trying to get different D-list celebrities to come by and then making them uneasy by showing them every bed and talking about it.

"Foreign countries and companies might appreciate the idea that they can more easily handle Donald Trump if they lavish his daughter with attention..."

"... this is a common enough practice when dealing with authoritarian governments. But it should at least cause a little unease here at home," writes Amy Davidson in "The Global Effort to Flatter Ivanka" (in The New Yorker). She's writing about that panel discussion about women and entrepreneurship that happened at the W20 conference, where Ivanka Trump got to share the stage with Angela Merkel, Queen Máxima, Christine Lagarde, and Chrystia Freeland.
And one saw, again... how the perceived need to pander to Ivanka Trump can distort almost any conversation. At one point, Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister, while making a point about the important role that fathers play in their daughters’ progress, said, as she looked at Ivanka, who nodded in agreement, that behind “every successful woman” was a very supportive father.
So it's Ivanka's fault that the Canadian Foreign Minister said something plainly wrong and obviously damaging to the self-esteem of millions of women?!
The moment played less as a shout-out to men in the developing world (which was likely what Freeland intended) than as a validation of the First Daughter concept.
Why does Freeland get the benefit of charitable interpretation and Ivanka get the blame for the negative aspect of a remark she did not make?
And it left little room for the fatherless, or for the defiant, or even for the sort of complexity experienced by, say, Queen Máxima, who is originally from Argentina, where her father was a member of the junta that ran that country’s Dirty War. Whatever their relationship, Máxima went along with the decision not to invite him to her wedding to the Crown Prince of the Netherlands, in deference to Dutch public opinion. Even royalty has to listen, sometimes.
Even royalty? Here you have Davidson complaining about the stature acquired by the daughter of a U.S. President, and somehow simultaneously viewing royalty as lofty. Ivanka may have her position by birth but the U.S. President was elected by the people. Royalty gets its power by birth and by marriage.

By the way, did Davidson ever critique the global effort to flatter Barack Obama's wife (not to mention the truly insane effort to flatter Bill Clinton's wife — which is the main reason we've got Ivanka Trump's father as President).

"... the Old Vic's upcoming production of Girl From the North Country which is written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan."

"Brought to life by a 20-piece company of actors and musicians, award-winning playwright Conor McPherson beautifully weaves the iconic songbook of Bob Dylan into this new show full of hope, heartbreak and soul."

IN THE COMMENTS: AReasonableMan said...
From their web site:

"Duluth, Minnesota. 1934. A community living on a knife-edge huddle together in the local guesthouse. The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for. And, when a preacher selling bibles and a boxer looking for a comeback show up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no return…"

I guess they ran out of cliches at that point, the 'point of no return'.

April 27, 2017

"Am I taking this too seriously? The casual racism of the Asian salad stems from the idea of the exotic — who is and isn’t American is caught up wholesale in its creation."

"This use of 'Oriental' and 'Asian' is rooted in the wide-ranging, 'all look same' stereotypes of Asian culture that most people don’t really perceive as being racist.... [T]he language of the Asian salad is revealing of the dangers of bland, disembodied generalization: When you fail to see countries and cultures as discrete entities, what kind of consideration could you be expected to give to individual people?"

From a NYT column titled "Why Is Asian Salad Still on the Menu?"

In the comments over there, a lot of people are answering that question "Am I taking this too seriously?" They're all saying yes. And the highest-rated comment is:
I'm just going to go out on a limb here and credit the "white audience" with the smarts to know that the Asian salad isn't any more Asian than the Ortega tacos are Mexican or the SpaghettiOs are Italian. I'm pretty liberal and Asian, but this is the kind of crying wolf - whining wolf actually - that makes people tune out when we complain about actual racism. Gimme a break.

"Several years ago, I lost my power of smell. So I can't smell anything...."

Says Scott Adams at the beginning of this video (which someone who knows I have the same disempowerment alerted me about):

ADDED: Adams makes 2 surprising claims:

1. His sense of taste is unchanged. I'm not going to say he's lying, but I don't believe him. I think he's right when he says he may be delusional about it, that his brain has filled in the experience of tasting. You've got the part of taste that isn't smell, so you're still getting salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and whatever (umami), and you're enjoying the texture and temperature and appeasement of hunger and you've learned to see that as enough. If you say it's the same, it's perhaps because you've forgotten what it used to be. Or perhaps your inability to smell is located in your brain (rather than your nose) and you have become unable to think of what smell is, so you literally don't know what you are missing.

2. He doesn't want his sense of smell back — even though once his house was filling up with leaking natural gas and he had no idea — because there are more bad smells than good. Of course, it's subjective which smells are bad and good — especially when it has to do with other people's bodies — and you have some choice about what you put near your nose — whether to live in a polluted city, how clean to keep your house and your clothing, what to cook, whether to use cologne, and so forth. But even if we assume he's right and there's more bad than good, a lot of what's bad is important information — about what not to eat, whether a place is safe, when to clean. And I don't think what smell gives you is just plus and minus, with zero being a good setting. Smell is an integral element of emotion and memory and the feeling that the world is real and alive.

"Does Le Pen have a chance of winning French presidency?"

"Since his impressive first-round victory on Sunday, Mr Macron is still at least 20 points ahead, which sounds an unassailable lead.... So what could go wrong for him?"
All she needs is to advance a little more in the polls, and this is how she could do it.

"If she gets 42% of the vote, which isn't impossible, and Macron gets 58%, normally she loses the election," physicist and Sciences Po political expert Serge Galam told RMC radio. "But if 90% of people who said they would vote for Le Pen do it, and at the same time only 65% of people who declared they would vote for Macron actually do it, then it's Marine Le Pen who wins the election with a score of 50.07%."

Under Serge Galam's mathematical formula, he gives three examples of how Marine Le Pen can win, where she is candidate "A turnout x" and Emmanuel Macron is "B turnout y" with a Turnout (T). He calls this model "differentiated abstention."

Movie review that I literally almost blogged.

"The Circle literally plays as if it has been written by a bunch of elites that have spent a little bit too much time on their phones, decided that the world has become too dependent on technology, and now they're going to make a film that saves people from themselves. It's smug, condescending, and completely without incident. In fact, The Circle is the reason why people hate Hollywood. It feels like a decree laid down to 'the people' from those up in their ivory towers, a call to arms for everyone to put down their keyboards and just come together in peace, love, and heart-emojis, but which unfolds in an overly heightened and sensationalized world with barely a semblance of reality. There's literally no complexity to the characters...."

That's where I stopped reading this movie review by Gregory Wakeman at Cinema Blend, which I'd arrived at via Rotten Tomatoes, where I looked to see what critics were saying about the movie made from a novel I read a few years ago.

At the Wet Pink Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


(And if you're doing any shopping, consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"… there’s a weird number of people battling snails from medieval times … Why is this?"

"We don’t know. Seriously. There are as many explanations as there are scholars."

One answer is: "Since human knights are often seen trembling before—or, indeed, losing to—the harmless, slow-moving snails, it makes sense that the image is a way to emphasize cowardice."

I finished reading "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign."

Here's the book. You might remember that I was pulling out interesting quotes — here and here — as I went along, and the last one I had was 30% of the way through. Maybe it's me, but the book seemed to get tedious after the first third, as though they'd edited it more intensively but then didn't bother and just left us with dumped notes from their interviews with Clinton insiders. There was a lot of semi-digested material about the mechanics of getting speeches written and where to expend funds and how nervous and uncomfortable various people felt at various times. I got pretty bored.

But there were 3 more things I highlighted as I read. I'll give you these:

1. 34% of the way into the book: "While they were in the car, thinking about how Nevada could really turn the race on its head, [Democratic campaign operatives Tad] Devine’s phone rang. It was Podesta. The Clinton campaign chairman was upset. The day before, Bernie’s brother, Larry, had wondered aloud to a reporter whether Bill [Clinton] was 'really such a terrible rapist' or 'a nice rapist.' President Clinton doesn’t like being called a sexual predator, Podesta told Devine, especially not by a Democratic candidate. What kind of bullshit strategy is that? Devine tried to calm Podesta.... 'Did you see what I said?' Devine said of a television appearance he’d made the previous day. 'Larry is eighty years old. He lives in England. He gave this interview, and he’s not going to talk to the press anymore. This is not a strategy.' Podesta was not assuaged."

2. 67% of the way in: "But [Hillary] accepted the conventional wisdom that she could win or lose the presidency based on her performances [in the debates] against Trump — a rival who thrived on getting under the skin of an opponent. And what [Phillippe] Reines found, [playing the role of Trump] as he practiced against her, round after round, is that Hillary’s heavily nuanced policy arguments were boring and easy to pick apart with a sharp retort. Her strength and her weakness were one and the same: she mastered so much material. 'As the guy who would kick her ass over and over again,' it was obvious to Reines that Trump’s messaging was better, said a source with singular knowledge of his thinking.... [H]er stiffness and her inability to reply to specific questions with thematic answers... were painfully obvious in the debate-prep sessions. Reines had been able to exploit them and outperform her. Heading into the first debate.... Hillary and her team were nervous that Trump might do the same thing. "

3. 68% of the way: "As she had done before facing Bernie Sanders in the primaries, Hillary huddled with Klain, Dunn, Sullivan, and Podesta before the debate. This time, she seemed on edge. There was so much riding on a curious, nationally televised piece of performance art. It was such a poor test, she thought, of which candidate would make a better president. Normally so stoic, she betrayed the butterflies in her stomach by nervously joking with her aides about the outsize significance the debates took on. They tried to reassure her. Have fun, they advised. The winner of the debate was usually the candidate who appeared to be enjoying the moment more." (That was bad advice, don't you think? Her laughing, I'm-having-fun routine seemed phony, smug, and not well matched to the subject matter.)

"You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely."

Said the anonymous email that caused Portland to cancel its Rose Festival Parade, WaPo reports.
Set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year was the Multnomah County Republican Party, a fact that so outraged two self-described antifascist groups in the deep blue Oregon city that they pledged to protest and disrupt the April 29 event.

Then came an anonymous and ominous email, according to parade organizers, that instructed them to cancel the GOP group’s registration — or else...  200 people would “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those marching with the Republican Party.

“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it said....
So now that's all it takes to end freedom of expression in Portland. What a flimsy, pathetic place.

And it was only a threat to drag and push a specific set of people who were going to be present at a particular place and time. Do the police in Portland not know how to manage crowds? Let the parade happen, let the protesters arrive and protest, and deal with the situation as it unfolds. If you won't do that, you don't have a free society.

ADDED: The threat to shut down roads is particularly absurd to me after what I've seen in Madison down at the state capitol. When the protesters were coming, the police themselves would shut down the roads to make it easier on everyone. I've also seen the police here deal with situations where they knew antagonistic groups were going to be in the same place at the same time. There are techniques for this. You don't just give up and say now we can't assemble in groups anymore.

$10,000! This should be entertaining. How close to $10,000 do you think the bidding will ever go?

"United Airlines will offer up to $10,000 when a traveler voluntarily gives up a seat on an oversold flight, part of a policy overhaul following the passenger-yanking video seen around the world."

Can state law require that churches permit women to breastfeed openly — with no covering — in the congregation during a service?

Virginia has a law that gives women a right to breastfeed wherever they are "lawfully present." I can see why laws like this get passed, and I feel sympathy for this woman who was embarrassed to be told she can't breastfeed in the manner she presumably believed was okay (especially after the government has purported to enshrine this right in the law)...

But I think privately owned places — especially religious institutions — should be allowed to impose their own standards of modesty. There's a big difference between being deprived of the freedom to  breastfeed wherever you are and being required to drape a light cloth over the exposed breast.

This WaPo report on the subject completely takes the perspective of the woman and makes the churchgoers seem prudish and ignorant of the law:
A woman promptly asked the Dumfries mother to decamp to a private room, she said. Peguero declined and was later told that the church does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers “uncomfortable,” she said. One woman told her the sermon was being live-streamed and that she would not want Peguero to be seen breast-feeding....

It is also a legally protected right in Virginia, where the legislature passed a 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be....
The woman, Annie Peguero, is described as a "42-year-old personal trainer and fitness and nutrition specialist" and — these are her words — a “hippie mama."

It seems to me that churches — and other religious organizations — have rules about how covered up you need to be in the building or during a service. And the last time I looked, Virginia has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02:
No government entity shall substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Quite aside from whether Peguero has a statutory right to breastfeed uncovered in church (and I don't think she does), as a matter of etiquette and caring for others, she should have willingly covered her breast as soon as she noticed the exposure distracted or bothered anybody.

Here's the highest-rated comment at WaPo:
As someone who has lived all over the world, I can assure you America is the only place on earth where people get hysterical seeing mothers breastfeed their babies.

Exactly what is it about a breast that has you guys upset? It is not a sex organ. It was made for women to feed their babies. The fact that it has been sexualized by men does not make it a sex organ.
Here's the second-highest-rated:
I get the whole "it's natural" thing, but have a little consideration for those around you. You still cannot walk around nude freely in our society. And, it does make people uncomfortable ... which is also "natural". Use a blanket or step out of the room. Why is that such a huge deal?
 ADDED: I'd originally misread a sentence in the article that said: "Now Peguero, and an attorney, are pressing church leaders to issue a statement and reverse their policy." I've corrected the post.

IN THE COMMENTS: I Have Misplaced My Pants said:
Haha. Women who make a fuss about this are almost always attention seekers best ignored.

I am on my fourth breastfed-into-toddlerhood child over 15 years (didn't breastfeed the adopted one, alas) and I have always nursed wherever I happen to be and no one has ever once given me so much as the stink-eye, let alone approached me and been an ass. Of course I've been discreet when appropriate, finding a quiet corner if it seemed like the thing to do, but I have never nursed under a drape or cover of any kind and I have never nursed in a bathroom.

The whole "zomg men sexualize the breast waah waah waah" thing is a hoax. Again, in 15 years of off and on public breastfeeding and hanging out with other public breastfeeders I have never had a man be anything but polite. I'm calling bullshit.
Policraticus said...
You know, I'm all for modesty and things having a time and place. I am sure the mother in question could have been a little more discreet.

But... the reaction of the church officials crosses over into the absurd. The idea that a woman breastfeeding a child should hardly be shocking. The image of Maria Lactans is ubiquitous in Christian art and you can find images of Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus pretty much everywhere you look. Irony. It can be pretty ironic sometimes.
Good point (though I think the images of Mary are not so common among protestants). Here's an example:

There's also Lactatio Bernardi, where Mary squirts some milk sideways onto Saint Bernard:

April 26, 2017

"Ann Coulter said Wednesday that she was forced to cancel her speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley amid concerns of violence..."

"... calling it 'a dark day for free speech in America.'"
"I have my flights, so I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment," Coulter said in an emailed message when asked if she was still coming to Berkeley.

Taking a picture of a water droplet and, later, seeing the inverted tree.

I couldn't really see what I was getting in the rain in the Arb today, but when I saw this on the computer screen, I was truly delighted:

Version 3

Closeup, in case you don't see it:


"The NYT's new columnist defends his views on Arabs, Black Lives Matter, campus rape."

"It’s a decision that infuriated many of the paper’s liberal readers. [Bret] Stephens may be a vocal critic of Donald Trump, but his views are firmly right-wing...."

Meet your newest conservative NYT columnist, joining Ross Douthat and David Brooks.

I have to add the tag Bret Stephens and publish this post so I can click on it and see what I've said about him over the years. Hang on a sec....

ADDED: I've got 2 old posts tagged Bret Stephens:

1. April 28, 2015: I posted about a column of his that was called " "Hillary’s Cynical Song of Self/The Clintons are counting on America to digest their ethical lapses the way a python swallows a goat." I said:
Does Stephens's analogy function properly? He isn't saying Americans will be able to do the equivalent of slowly digesting the a goat, only imagining that Clinton's people must be hoping that will happen. But the slow digesting can only occur if the goat is swallowed. The python performs 2 tricks: swallowing the goat and digesting the goat. The swallowing must come first. Without the swallowing, the devastating evidence is preserved....
2. April 15, 2014: I just quote something he writes and call it "very sarcastic." It's:
No, what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him. This man is Rand Paul....

"Wild boars mauled three Islamic State (Isil) fighters to death near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk...."

"Some refugees saw the bodies on the edge of a farm when they were fleeing and they told us. A few days later Isil started to kill pigs around the area...."

"I've been in a lot of locker rooms. I don't know where in locker rooms where it is acceptable to talk about, 'Man, I was out this weekend and boy, I got a piece of her, and I did this and I did that.'"

"The guys who usually say that are usually the ugliest sons of bi— guns in the room. Here's the deal guys, you gotta speak up. You cannot let that kind of talk be bred on a college campus.... When you see something, if you're a fraternity brother and you see a young freshman co-ed in the second week dead drunk, and him walking her up the stairs, you gotta go up to him and say, 'Hey, not in my house, Jack. Not in my house.' Because if you don't, you are an accomplice. You know what's about to happen. You know!... I say to you guys, please, please act like men. Rape and sexual assault are not about sex, it’s about power. If you want to be a man, stand up, man. And if you can't get her to say yes because she wants to, you ain't much."

Says Joe Biden, who is out and about talking to guys the way guys talk to guy or so Joe Biden seems to think is the way guys talk to guys.

I certainly agree with him about not raping anyone, not having sex with anyone who is drunk, and intervening to stop drunks from getting victimized.

But he is imposing a crude stereotype on men, and there is some problematic lookism in that quote.

"One of the leading voices of the Trump resistance is not some black-masked radical or a marching young woman with a pink knit hat but a man with gray hair, a name you know and a neatly knotted tie."

It's Dan Rather — the subject of a Politico article titled "Dan Rather’s Second Coming/With millions of Facebook fans and the freedom to speak his mind, the 85-year-old journalist is back in the arena—facing the opponent he’s been waiting for his entire life."

Yes, Dan Rather is back, and he's on... Facebook.

Has Trump been thinking about breaking up 9th Circuit?

"Absolutely, I have. There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It's outrageous."
"Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic," Trump said.

His comments came one day after U.S. District Judge William Orrick temporarily blocked Trump's efforts to withhold funds from any municipality that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement officers....

"You see judge shopping, or what's gone on with these people, they immediately run to the 9th Circuit," Trump said. "It's got close to an 80 percent reversal period, and what's going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame."

Controlling the "100 days" narrative.

With 3 days left to go in the vaunted "100 days"...

1. Trump drops his tax proposal...
President Trump on Wednesday proposed sharp reductions in both individual and corporate income tax rates, reducing the number of individual income tax brackets to three — 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent — and easing the tax burden on most Americans, including the rich.

The Trump administration would double the standard deduction, essentially eliminating taxes on the first $24,000 of a couple’s earnings. It also called for the elimination of most itemized tax deductions but would leave in place the popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, which Mr. Trump has railed against for years, would be repealed under his plan....
2. NAFTA is about to get knocked out...
President Trump is likely to sign an executive order formally withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a senior administration official, a move that would set the stage for renegotiating the deal with Canada and Mexico and fulfill one of Mr. Trump’s major campaign promises.

In recent days, the White House has announced that it will impose tariffs on Canadian lumber and asserted that Canada has treated the American dairy industry unfairly.
3. Healthcare reform comes back to life...
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-line conservatives who were instrumental in blocking President Trump’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month, gave its approval Wednesday to a new, more conservative version, breathing new life into Republican efforts to replace President Barack Obama’s health law.

Senior White House officials, led by Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, have relentlessly pressed Republicans to revive the health care push before Mr. Trump’s hundred-day mark on Saturday, and with conservatives falling into line, the bill has a chance to get through the House, possibly as early as Friday....

The arb in the rain... with turkeys,




Obama to be paid $400,000 for one speech — an amount that equals the annual salary of the President.

And twice what Bill Clinton has been paid for speaking.

What do you think of that speaking fee?
pollcode.com free polls

"Life Accordion To Trump #2."

"The rock band is composed of electromechanical instruments that make music with rocks by throwing them through the air, slapping them and making them vibrate."

"The song that they're playing, Here Comes the Sun, is biographical, describing the daily experience of a rock sitting on the ground."

Rock Band from Neil Mendoza on Vimeo.

"The rock band is made up of the following members..."
Pinger - fires small rocks at aluminium keys using solenoids.
Spinner - launches magnetic rocks, Hematite, at pieces of marble. Rocks are launched by spinning magnets using Applied Motion applied-motion.com stepper motors.
Slapper - slaps rocks with fake leather.
Buzzer - vibrates the plunger of a solenoid against a piece of marble.

"On the drive back, she said it would be very easy for her to convert someone to Catholicism. 'It has great appeal,' she said."

"'Not for me, of course, but I can see the appeal.' A few years after she discovered the Ghost Ranch and built her house there, the ranch (not including her property) was sold to the Presbyterian Church, which used it as a conference center. 'I gave the Presbyterians a wide berth,' she told us. 'You know about the Indian eye that passes over you without lingering, as though you didn’t exist? That was the way I looked at the Presbyterians, so they wouldn’t become too friendly.'"

She = Georgia O'Keeffe. I = Calvin Tomkins, who's writing today about an encounter that occurred in 1962.

"The Indian eye" — I don't remember seeing that before, but maybe I did and passed over it, as though it didn't exist. But it seems politically incorrect, no? Isn't it unkind to pin that on Georgia, after all these years?

I idly google "Was Georgia O'Keeffe racist?" and I get to a passage in a biography I read a long time ago (by Roxana Robinson). The word "racism" appears in the context of her comparison of sexism to racism: "I think it's pretty funny that women have always been treated like Negroes in this country and they don't even know it." That was said in the 1970s, when feminists took to idolizing her. I enjoyed this paragraph on the next page:

"A white cloth napkin, now displayed in the National Museum of American History, helped change the course of modern economics."

"On it, the economist Arthur Laffer in 1974 sketched a curve meant to illustrate his theory that cutting taxes would spur enough economic growth to generate new tax revenue. More than 40 years after those scribblings, President Trump is reviving the so-called Laffer curve as he announces the broad outlines of a tax overhaul on Wednesday. What the first President George Bush once called 'voodoo economics' is back, as Mr. Trump’s advisers argue that deep cuts in corporate taxes will ultimately pay for themselves with an explosion of new business and job creation. The exact contours of the plan remained murky and Mr. Trump will not produce a fully realized proposal on Wednesday. But what the president has called a tax reform plan is looking more like a tax cut plan, showering taxpayers with rate reductions without offsetting the full cost by closing loopholes or raising taxes elsewhere. In the short run, such a plan would add many billions of dollars to the national deficit. Mr. Trump contends that it will be worth it in the long run. 'The tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth,' Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary and main architect of the plan, told reporters this week."

From "Arthur Laffer’s Theory on Tax Cuts Comes to Life Once More," by Peter Baker (in the NYT).

Here's the famous napkin:

From the museum website:
Displeased with President Gerald Ford’s decision to raise taxes to control inflation, four men got together at a Washington, DC restaurant to think about alternatives. Laffer was joined by journalist Jude Wanniski and politicians Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Laffer argued that lowering taxes would increase economic activity. Wanniski popularized the theory, and politicians Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney carried it out.
And by "it" the museum means the theory. The "it" that is the napkin was carried out by Jude Wanniski.

By the way, who draws on a cloth napkin?

"This was an utterly mad politically correct idea written by extremists at a university already extreme in this direction."

"Among its targets were students who took practical courses like economics and pre-med and tried to use college to get a job. It was going to begin with a year-long common course that laid down the correct propaganda line. Thank God the majority of the faculty has not lost its mind.

A comment on "Years of Work, Tabled/Collapse of undergraduate curricular reform at Duke illustrates the difficulty of building consensus on just what students need to learn" (at Inside Higher Ed).

The name of the commenter matches the name of a Duke professor.

Does it matter that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has a wife who's 25 years older than him...

... and whom he fell in love with when she was his drama teacher and he was 15?

Here's the mockery in The Daily Mail, by Jan Moir:
How can I get the world to take me seriously if they think I am a mummy’s boy with a wife who is 25 years older than him?...

‘Bibi’, as I call her, was 40 and married with three children when we met. It was complicated, but I knew I had to be with her. Mama and Papa sent me away to Paris to stop the romance, but I wooed her from afar....

Now.... a website has suggested I am secretly gay and live a double life. What? I got so upset, Brigitte had to calm me down with a Babybel and a carton of juice. This wild allegation is impossible!...
You get the level of the humor over there. Anyway, it's a question of judgment, is it not? Does the relationship say anything about the man's fitness to serve as President? I know people will compare it to a man marrying a much younger woman. For example, Melania is 23 years younger than Donald Trump. But Trump didn't meet Melania when he was 38 and she was 15, and he wasn't her high school teacher. It's the short-circuiting of young life that is so disturbing. A 15 year old deserves a chance to develop, not to be snatched up by a much older adult who finds him cute and an easy mark because of his inexperience, his admiration for the person in the teacher position, and (perhaps) some sort of struggle over sexual orientation.

So here's Zoe Williams at The Guardian, pushing back against The Daily Mail:
[I]f Madame Macron were a male drama teacher, leaving his marriage for a student whom he met when she was 15, then, even if they waited until she (the hypothetical student) were 18, as the Macrons did in real life, the feminist would still have a thing or two to say. The double whammy of her being so much older, and in a position of authority, sets the relationship off on an imbalance. The common sense, middle-of-the-road, Delia Smith-style feminist would say, well, after two decades together, we can probably be satisfied that their feelings are authentic, and not the result of some authority fetish on one side, and a controlling nature on the other. But the more hardcore, absolutist, Nigella-style feminist would nope the whole thing, on the basis that a relationship conceived on an unequal footing can never find its balance.

In order to overlook all of that, because the gender roles are reversed, you would have to consider it impossible for a woman to exert power over a man, regardless of her age and position. ...

I’m going to go with: “The heart wants what it wants.” These are dizzy times and we all have fascists to fight.
The Guardian writer uses the old Woody Allen quote. I would have thought you'd only use that if you wanted to criticize what the older person did. And yet I see there's a 2014 pop song with that title, so perhaps the line has different meaning to Zoe Williams.

Anyway, Williams misses the main point, which isn't what we think of the marriage, but what we think of Macron's judgment. He's offering to run a country. His private life only matters as evidence of whether he'd made a good President.

ADDED: I guess that last line — "we all have fascists to fight" — can be taken to mean that nothing about Macron matters. The opponent is Le Pen, and she must be defeated, so brush aside any concern about Macron. Too late for any of that. We're down to the final two. That kind of thinking is so reminiscent of how many Americans experienced the 2016 election. We know how that turned out.

"The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly."

"If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other."

Said Pope Francis, in his TED TALK.

April 25, 2017

"Judge Blocks Trump Effort to Withhold Money From Sanctuary Cities."

The NYT reports.
The judge, William H. Orrick of United States District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the administration, directing it to stop trying to cut off aid to sanctuary jurisdictions. But the order does not prevent the federal government from moving forward on designating certain places as “sanctuaries,” nor does it keep the administration from enforcing conditions for doling out federal money if they already exist, as the Justice Department has already begun to do with some law enforcement grants.

At the Yellow Tulip Café...


... now it's your turn to think of topics (and to shop, if you're so inclined, through The Althouse Amazon Portal).

"He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it."

"When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor."

"The human brain... is a time machine that allows us to mentally travel backward and forward, to plan for the future and agonizingly regret that past like no other animal."

"And... our brains are time machines like clocks are time machines: constantly tracking the passage of time, whether it’s circadian rhythms that tell us when to go to sleep, or microsecond calculations that allow us to the hear the difference between 'They gave her cat-food' and 'They gave her cat food.'"

Justice Breyer's cellphone rang during oral argument today.

SCOTUSblog reports the news and refers to the sound as a "lively chime."
Justices Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan chuckle. Breyer looks to Chief Justice John Roberts with an apologetic expression before sharing a laugh with Justice Clarence Thomas. Some of my colleagues think they see Breyer handing the phone to one of the court aides who sit behind the justices....

I would like to be able to say that after the argument, reporters retired to the press room and began discussing the finer points of personal jurisdiction. But all we can really talk about for several minutes is Justice Breyer’s cellphone....

"I appeal to the men and women, to the boys and girls of Tralee, to dissociate themselves from this attempt to besmirch the name of our town for the sake of filthy gain."

"I ask the people to ignore the presence of this woman and her associates. They are attempting something that is contrary to the moral teaching of our faith, that is against our traditions and against the ordinary decencies of life, something that is against everything we hold dear."

"The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think."

That headline for an article at Politico (by Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty) makes me say out loud, "Why do they think they know what I think?" And the answer is too obvious for me to leave it to you to write in the comments: They're in a bubble. (And it's worse than they think.)

But don't skip the article because of the irritating headline. Shafer and Doherty crunch some data. They conclude:
In a sense, the media bubble reflects an established truth about America: The places with money get served better than the places without. People in big media cities aren’t just more liberal, they’re also richer: Half of all newspaper and internet publishing employees work in counties where the median household income is greater than $61,000—$7,000 more than the national median. Commercial media tend to cluster where most of the GDP is created, and that’s the coasts. Perhaps this is what Bannon is hollering about when he denounces the “corporatist, global media,” as he did in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference. If current trends continue—and it’s safe to predict they will—national media will continue to expand and concentrate on the coasts, while local and regional media contract.

The latest trapped-on-an-airplane, viral-video horrorshow.

"The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower."

"To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha — which is to demean oneself."

Wrote Robert Pirsig, the author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," who died yesterday at the age of 88.

Ivanka does her perfect-poise routine when Germans hiss and boo at her for talking about her father as a champion of women.

She was on panel — alongside Angela Merkel, Queen Màxima of the Netherlands, and International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagardeon — at the W-20 where the topic was women's empowerment and entrepreneurship at the W-20.

Video at the link.

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt asked, "How could anyone not like her?," and I answered:
There's something robotic and trancelike about her demeanor. It's interesting to me that people don't dislike her for that glossy, plastic, stage-y quality, which actually reminds me of Hillary Clinton. I don't myself dislike her, but I'm fascinated that people don't call her out for the Stepford Wives aura that so many political women have been mocked for.

But Jackie Kennedy was a similar case. People loved it in her. I guess if you read as beautiful and you don't misbehave, people will accept a woman who seems anesthetized.
And AReasonableMan says, "Drudge's front page currently featuring Ivanka is pretty funny." Here's the part he means, with Ivanka in the middle — looking like a sensibly beautiful woman — flanked by Madonna displaying elongated Jayne-Mansfield-style breasts and some absurdly plastic-surgeried human Barbie doll. Click to enlarge:

Oatmeal toenail.

What I googled — because the image lodged in my head — to get to that article I'd meant to blog and had lost track of: "PLEASE, GOD, STOP CHELSEA CLINTON FROM WHATEVER SHE IS DOING/The last thing the left needs is the third iteration of a failed political dynasty," by T.A. Frank.

You know, it's a good idea to put some very memorable and distinctive words in a piece of writing you want people to be able to figure out how pull up out of the internet archive.

Here's how Frank got oatmeal and toenail into his article about Chelsea:
What comes across with Chelsea, for lack of a gentler word, is self-regard of an unusual intensity. And the effect is stronger on paper. Unkind as it is to say, reading anything by Chelsea Clinton—tweets, interviews, books—is best compared to taking in spoonfuls of plain oatmeal that, periodically, conceal a toenail clipping.
That was easy to find. I'm surprised that anything else came up, but there was:
[Amyre Qualls] said all the photos were taken in the school cafeteria at Prince George High School and show food that is being served to students.

“Oatmeal, toenail clippings, cauliflower,” Qualls said. That’s what people told her the pizza looked like it was made with.

Democratic shit talk.

I was fascinated by the news that "Sh*t talking is Democrats' new strategy" and blogged it yesterday in "DNC Chairman Tom Perez routinely uses the word 'shit' in speeches." So I decided to search for "shit" in the book I'm reading "Shattered/Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign."

Here's what I found. I've left out occurrences of "bullshit," because that word is more normalized (why is an interesting question that Meade and I just had a long conversation about). I've left in the somewhat oddball word "ripshit" (which seems to be like "ripsnorting," but with shit (watch what you snort!)).

At Kindle Locations 1250-1256:
Biden’s penchant for saying impolitic things would be an area ripe for exploitation for the Clinton team. He, and his legacy, would suffer. While [Biden and Clinton] fought over who had the better style, Sanders would float above the mudslinging by continuing to focus on issues. “It’s ticky-tack shit that would just not be good and then they would grate on each other and then it would be a downward spiral,” the Clinton aide said.
Kindle Locations 1352-1359:
[Iowa state director Matt] Paul... walked in to find the former president sitting in a leather chair. Bill was wearing a suit and a pair of leather gloves; his arms were crossed. Even if the yelling hadn’t been audible through the walls of the boutique hotel, it would have been clear that he was in a foul mood. His eyes were fixed on Paul. If there’s ever a time to make sure I know my shit, the staffer thought, this is it.
Kindle Locations 1835-1837:
At the end of the spot, Hillary says she is running for all of the “Dorothys” out there who need a champion. Voters liked her “strength, resilience, [and] take no shit attitude,” said a person familiar with focus group data.
Kindle Locations 3220-3223:
The kneecapping of several aides, which wouldn’t fully take shape for a few more weeks, didn’t mean Hillary intended to let the rest of her staff off easy. She was ripshit over the confluence of calamities in Michigan. Her senior aides and advisers all got reamed... the day after the Michigan primary.
Kindle Locations 4579-4580:
Heading into Monday, July 25, the first day of the convention, Mook was nervous. “Absolutely shitting my pants” is how he described it to others.
Kindle Locations 5599-5602:
Putin might not be a Communist anymore, but he was a Russian autocrat who came to power after a distinguished career in the KGB. This was the kind of spy-thriller shit that would surely break through in the press. If the public saw Trump putting Russian interests above American sovereignty, Hillary’s aides thought, the story had the potential to break his back....
Kindle Locations 5636-5641:
“Could you imagine a day so fucking crazy that no one gives a shit about this?” one aide said of the October 7 intelligence report. Suddenly, the upside-down dynamics of the 2016 election came into sharp relief.... “Here’s something Donald Trump did and said and was arguably disqualifying to a lot of voters— something that could put the race away— but within moments, a factor related to e-mails comes around and puts the thumb on the other side of the scale.”
Kindle Locations 5686-5693:
[T]he most jarring and memorable video clip in modern campaign history... couldn’t put Trump away. Early in the campaign, Trump had said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue shooting people and not lose a vote. Maybe he was right.... It was a terrifying realization... “People already knew he was a womanizing piece of shit,” a senior Clinton aide said. “It doesn’t change the narrative.”

Can Bill O'Reilly succeed as a podcaster?

Here, you can listen to his first episode. Key word: Listen. How much of Bill O'Reilly's performance came though the face and the hand gestures? And it wasn't just him, it was all the glitter and noise surrounding him — the crazy moving shapes and words and flashing lights that the opening sequence of "The Colbert Report" had such hilarious fun with.

In the podcast, all we have is the voice. The banging, bonging Fox News music is stripped away. It's just one man's voice, all alone. And it's a TV-trained voice. Whatever it is that works on television, O'Reilly had it. His TV show was phenomenally successful, and his voice was important, but there were many other elements in play as we listened to that voice.

Now, you are invited to take O'Reilly's voice straight — just the talking. I found it fascinating to experience O'Reilly as just a voice. It makes you wonder where the magic was, but you can easily tell that it was not in the voice alone. The voice is familiar but you notice how different it sounds from a professional radio voice. The pronunciation isn't crisp. There's a downbeat quality. O'Reilly may have special reason to be sad right now, but a depressive voice doesn't draw you in and energize you.

Naturally, I compare him to Rush Limbaugh, who developed his style on the radio and figured out what works when you are only a voice. There's so much energy and forward drive in Rush's monologues. You get the feeling that it's fun and funny and you're drawn in and propelled along. It's very different. It's radio. (And that's all podcasting is: Radio.) And Rush doesn't rely only on his fabulous radio voice. Exciting music begins each segment, and he has a line-up of well-chosen and edited audio clips to play to change the pace and give him something to bounce off of.

Has O'Reilly even thought about what it takes to be a radio commentator? Well, the answer must be yes, because he did have a radio spin-off of his TV show for a little while. He was on a thing called "The Radio Factor" from 2002 to 2008. I don't think it did very well, and that was with the assistance of Fox News.

April 24, 2017

"What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech."

An enticing headline for a column I don't agree with, by Ulrich Baer (in the NYT). He's a vice provost for faculty, arts, humanities, and diversity and a professor of comparative literature, and — as he champions excluded voices — he claims authority — funnily enough — based on his own positions of prestige:
As a college professor and university administrator with over two decades of direct experience of campus politics, I am not overly worried that even the shrillest heckler’s vetoes will end free speech in America. As a scholar of literature, history and politics, I am especially attuned to the next generation’s demands to revise existing definitions of free speech to accommodate previously delegitimized experiences. Freedom of expression is not an unchanging absolute. When its proponents forget that it requires the vigilant and continuing examination of its parameters, and instead invoke a pure model of free speech that has never existed, the dangers to our democracy are clear and present.
I don't think I have ever read 4 consecutive sentences containing as much bad writing and bad thinking. I'm a bit awestruck at the badness. I'm certainly glad that it was published. I was going to criticize it, but I think it speaks for itself. I'll just say thanks for hanging your ideas out where we can see them. I'm moving on, looking for other parameters to examine.

"BART takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, rob weekend riders."

There's surveillance video of this incident, but according to the BART spokesperson, because the people who are seen committing obvious crimes appear to be minors, the video cannot be put up on line.
The juveniles “committed multiple strong-arm robberies of bags and cell phones,” said a police summary prepared after the incident. “At least two victims suffered head/facial injuries requiring medical attention.”...

The attack was quick, police reported, and the teenagers were able to retreat from the station and vanish into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could respond.
I can't believe they won't/can't make the video available so these criminals can be caught. Is that really the law in California?

DNC Chairman Tom Perez routinely uses the word "shit" in speeches.

Politico reports:
With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump "doesn't give a shit about health care."

Perez, President Barack Obama's former labor secretary, made similar comments earlier this year. "They call it a skinny budget, I call it a shitty budget," Perez said in Portland, Maine.
And here's a shirt that's sold (for $30) on the DNC website:

Derangement syndrome.

I can't believe they think this is a good idea.

ADDED: Instapundit links to this post and says, "It was just a few months ago they were going to the fainting couches over Trump. Remember?," pointing at Hillary's "Our Children Are Watching" ad:

"Don’t Call Me a Millennial — I’m an Old Millennial."

Jesse Singal notices the old millennial/young millennial distinction. He doesn't identify with those under-29 millennials and those are the millennials that people talking about millennials tend to be talking about. I don't know why he draws the old/young line between 29 and 28, but he does.

In my day, we used to say "Don't trust anybody over 30," and I understand the sensitivity about who feels as though they're actually in your generation. I grew up as a Baby Boomer, always knowing I was a Baby Boomer, and then — rather recently — seeing Baby Boomer defined as anyone born from 1946 to 1964. Sorry, but people who were babies in the 60s never felt like Baby Boomers to me. You're talking about people who don't remember Elvis as a new and exciting phenomenon, didn't live through the Kennedy assassination, don't remember the arrival of The Beatles, never faced (or had classmates who faced) the draft, and did not learn about sex when abortion was a crime? They're not my generation.

But what are the big differences between old and young millennials?
“Early millennials grew up in an optimistic time and were then hit by the recession, whereas late millennials had their worldview made more realistic by experiencing the recession while during their formative years,” explained [social psychologist Jean] Twenge. According to Twenge, this has led to certain differences between older and younger millennials that manifest in the data. 
Jeesh. What a dreary distinction!
For example, she’s found some evidence from survey data that younger millennials “are more practical — they are more attracted to industries with steady work and are more likely to say they are willing to work overtime” than older ones. Us Old Millennials could afford to develop views on work and work-life balance that were a bit more idealistic.

Then there are smartphones and social media, which hit the two halves of the generation in massively different ways. “Unlike [Young Millennials],” wrote [Juliet] Lapidos, “I am not a true digital native. The Internet wasn’t a fact of nature. I had to learn what it was and how to use it. I wrote letters home when I was at summer camp. I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was 19.” For us Old Millennials, the social aspects of our middle- and high-school-years were lived mostly offline....
Yeah. Sounds massive all right. Millennials.

Obama speaks!

He's back, and talking to students at the University of Chicago. I haven't watched it yet, but here's the whole thing. I'll comment later if I can think of anything:

ADDED: Sorry, I cannot watch this. I'm just going to quote some things people were saying in the open thread a couple posts down. Chuck wrote:
Is anybody watching this Obama thing?... Words sort of fail me, in trying to describe what a feckless production disaster this is. It is as if Resident Director Barack Obama was meeting with all of the kids in his dorm hall. I think that they are passing the talking pillow, as they share their feelings.
And then:
I hope Althouse (Obama-voter Ann Althouse) does a post on that thing. It was hilariously bad. If she watches it, and blogs it, it will spare countless innocents from being bored into insensibility. If she does watch it, and doesn't turn it off after ten minutes...
Yeah, which is what I did.
... we will all owe her for blogging above and beyond the call of regular duties.

I read Obama's expression as, "OMG what am I doing here? Valerie is going to have hell to pay, for roping me into this..."

The disastrousness of this won't last. There is so much happening this week, and there was so little newsworthiness with Obama, that it won't even be news in a couple of hours. I'd understand, if she blew it off.
Thanks for your understanding.

3 more things from "Shattered."

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm reading "Shattered/Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign." Listening to the audio version on my walk along the lake today...


... I made a mental note of 3 words — "-splain-," "clutch," and "construction" — so I could find 3 passages in the Kindle version and quote them for you here:

1. 18% of the way into the book, we encounter the delightful word "campaign-splained": "[I]n early September 2015... the New York Times had just published a story about a coming Clinton campaign strategy shift. Hillary would 'show more humor and heart,' the headline declared.... Clinton supporters across the country read it [as] a pure what-the-fuck moment... [Susie Tompkins Buell, a big donor] scolded [Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook...  The campaign’s inability to reveal Hillary’s authenticity— and its ham-fisted effort to manufacture a false version of it — was infuriating.... Trying to placate Buell, Mook offered up [communications director Jennifer] Palmieri as a sacrifice. The large, domineering communications team was pretty much a separate shop within the operation, he campaign-splained."

2. 29% of the way in, we see this contrast between Bill Clinton and Robby Mook that makes Mook sound modern, even as we know — having watched the Sanders and Trump campaigns — it is probably even more passé than what Bill wanted to do: "[Bill] liked to go to small towns in northern New Hampshire, Appalachia, and rural Florida because he believed, from experience, that going to them and acknowledging he knew how they lived their lives, and the way they made decisions, put points on the board. Mook wanted Bill in places where the most Hillary-inclined voters would see him. That meant talking to white liberals and minorities in cities and their close-in suburbs. That was one fault line of a massive generational divide between Bill and Mook that separated old-time political hustling from modern data-driven vote collecting. Bill was like the old manager putting in a pinch hitter he believed would come through in the clutch while the eggheaded general manager in the owner’s box furiously dialed the dugout phone to let him know there was an 82 percent chance that the batter would make an out this time."

3. At 30%: "[T]he one aspect of her campaign that [Hillary Clinton] was most confident about was that none of the tribes" — The Mook Mafia, The State [Department] Crew, The Consultants, and The Communications Shop — "separately or in collaboration, had any idea how to construct a winning message for her. In her view, it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her — a construction deeply at odds with the way Sanders and Trump built their campaigns around their own gut feelings about where to lead the country."

At the Fritillaria Café...


... come up with your own topics.

(And remember The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"A liberal blogger who wrote satirical critiques of the Maldivian government and the spread of radical Islam..."

"... died Sunday after being stabbed in the stairway of his apartment building."
[Yameen] Rasheed was best known for satirical Twitter posts and weekly posts on his popular blog, The Daily Panic, which riffed on the week’s headlines, often criticizing the government’s use of religion to appeal to the public....

Celine Peroni, Mr. Rasheed’s girlfriend, said he was “just the smartest, wittiest and sweetest person I’ve ever met.”...

“He was aware of the threats, but cautious,” she said. “He wanted the voice of the truth to be heard, despite the risks.”