August 14, 2018

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

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

The NY Post reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WaPo reports.

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



... there's a morning café.

August 13, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... talk, talk, talk.

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

Tweeted Trump.

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

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

CNN reports.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 12, 2018

At the Lotus Café...


... you can open your heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's Ethan Sonneborn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Naipaul’s sympathy for the political and emotional fragility of his characters did not extend, alas, to his wife."

"His brutally fulfilling affair with Margaret Gooding—'I wished to possess her as soon as I saw her,' he tells his biographer—gradually voided a passionless marriage. In the mid-nineteen-seventies, husband and wife began to spend more and more time apart, as Naipaul travelled on ceaseless journalistic assignments. Naipaul’s sister Savi suggests that once [Naipaul's wife] Pat realized that she would not have children, and that her husband was committedly unfaithful, she lost her confidence as a woman. This is an extraordinary biography because Patrick French has had access both to Pat’s diaries and to searching interviews with Naipaul, whose candor is formidable: as always, one feels that while Naipaul may often be wrong, he is rarely untruthful, and, indeed, that he is likely to uncover twenty truths on the path to error. Pat’s diaries make for painful reading: 'I felt assaulted but I could not defend myself.' 'He has been increasingly frenzied and sadly, from my point of view, hating and abusing me.' Pat died of breast cancer in 1996. 'It could be said that I had killed her,' Naipaul tells French. 'It could be said. I feel a little bit that way.'"

From "Wounder And Wounded/V. S. Naipaul’s empire" by James Wood, originally published in The New Yorker in 2008, featured on The New Yorker front page today because Naipaul died yesterday.

ADDED: I'm interested in the notion that a woman has "confidence as a woman." It suggests that there is a special sort of confidence situated in sexuality, fertility, and motherhood and that a woman without that sort of confidence is not much of anything at all or will feel like nothing much and be unable to muster up any alternative reason for being.

"A job at a cat sanctuary on the idyllic Greek island of Syros has come up, complete with accommodation, views of the Aegean Sea and - currently - 55 feline friends."

"[Sanctuary owner Joan] Bowell, an artist, is looking for someone over the age of 45, who is not only capable of loving the cats, but also knows how to 'trap or handle a feral or non-sociable cat.' That means knowledge of 'cats' psychology' as well as good 'cat-whispering skills' are vital for the successful applicant." BBC reports.

From the Facebook page:

August 11, 2018

At the Lotus Café...


... unfold.

"He continued to write novels even after declaring the form a 19th-century relic, no longer able to capture the complexities of the contemporary world...."

"Mr. Naipaul’s writing about Africa drew criticism from many who were unsettled by his portraits of Africans.... He was also criticized for his unflattering portrayals of women.... He visited Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia in the late 1970s, when they were witnessing a rise in political power and Islamic fundamentalism. His first travelogue, 'Among the Believers,' was published in 1981. A sequel, 'Beyond Belief,' followed in 1998. He started his inquiry, he later explained, by asking simple questions: To what extent had 'people who lock themselves away in belief shut themselves away from the active, busy world?' 'To what extent without knowing it' were they 'parasitic on that world'? And why did they have 'no thinkers to point out to them where their thoughts and their passion had led them?' The books are grounded in Mr. Naipaul’s belief that Islamic societies lead to tyranny, which he essentially attributed to a flaw in Islam, that it 'offered no political or practical solution.' 'It offered only the faith,' he wrote. These books were harshly criticized...."

From "V.S. Naipaul, Who Explored Colonialism Through Unsparing Books, Dies at 85" (NYT).

"To put it bluntly, the birth of a baby is not only a matter of the family itself, but also a state affair."

Said the official Chinese newspaper People’s Daily, quoted in "Burying ‘One Child’ Limits, China Pushes Women to Have More Babies" (NYT).
It is a startling reversal for the party, which only a short time ago imposed punishing fines on most couples who had more than one child and compelled hundreds of millions of Chinese women to have abortions or undergo sterilization operations.

The new campaign has raised fear that China may go from one invasive extreme to another in getting women to have more children. Some provinces are already tightening access to abortion or making it more difficult to get divorced....

“Women cannot decide what happens to their own ovaries,” one user complained on Weibo, a popular microblogging platform, after Jiangxi detailed the abortion guidelines in July.

"Eleanor Roosevelt lived across the hall in the 1940s when we first moved in."

"My mom, Jane Bishir, was a Midwestern girl who’d come to New York to make it as a writer and became the closest of friends with Vivian Vance long before she was on 'I Love Lucy.' She was my godmother. My godfather was the best babysitter on God’s green earth, Garth Williams, the illustrator for all these wonderful books. He would be doodling, and there was one evening where he showed me three or four spiders: 'Which spider do you like?' He and E.B. White were going around the bend to avoid the Disneyfication of 'Charlotte’s Web,' and he wanted to try it out on a kid. My dad was a classical harmonica player and good friends with Burl Ives, who asked him if we could let this songwriter from Oklahoma stay at our house for a while. So I’m in bed, and in the next room I hear Woody Guthrie singing and playing, and in my total infancy I thought, 'He’s not as good as Dad.'..."

Said John Sebastian, quoted in "How ‘Summer in the City’ Became the Soundtrack for Every City Summer/The dog days of 1966 were filled with riots, protests and a nation on edge. Not to mention a brutal heat wave. But in Greenwich Village, something new was happening" (NYT).

Harvard statistician developed an algorithm to determine the likelihood that a song was written by John Lennon or Paul McCartney...

... and pretty much resolves the longstanding controversy over who wrote the music to "In My Life." There's no controversy about the lyrics — only about the music. This Science Friday podcast goes through some of the characteristics of Lennon music and McCartney music, and it's mainly that John was more conventional and ordinary and Paul was creative (for example, jumping whole octaves in songs like "Love Me Do" and "Eleanor Rigby"). But the statistician, Mark Glickman, is not given enough time to tell us about the detail of the music in "In My Life," so I don't know why his algorithm gave that song to John (with a 98.2% likelihood). Isn't there a big jump from one note to the next in the final "in MY-EYE-EYE-EYE life"?

Yeah, that's called viewpoint neutrality.

"Facebook censors artist's work criticising male-dominated society because it features naked breasts" (The Art Newspaper)(photograph with naked breasts at the link).
The Icelandic artist Borghildur Indridadóttir is blaming Facebook for having taken over her account after she had posted pictures featuring bare female breasts. "Facebook told me the pictures were against their community standards and did not only take those away from my timeline, but also deleted my friends and likes," she says.

The pictures were part of her work Demoncrazy, which deals with how older men continue to dominate certain public and social spaces in Iceland. As part of the Reykjavik arts festival in June, Indridadóttir showed photographs of topless young women standing in front of painted portraits of older men...
More Demoncrazy — watch out for breasts — here.

Facebook should have a viewpoint neutral standard, not a ban with an exception for the right political ideas. And if posing your naked model in front of a picture of an old man was enough to get special treatment, then anyone could set up their photoshoot like that.

Omarosa doesn't know what's in her own book... or she does and she's pretending not to.

I do not want to spend much time on Omarosa's book. I'm just going to link to this NPR piece, "Omarosa Tells NPR She Heard Trump 'N-Word Tape,' Contradicting Her Own Tell-All Book" and quote this:
In her interview with NPR's Rachel Martin, Manigault Newman claims to have heard the tape and heard Trump using that slur on the tape.

But that's not what it says in her tell-all book, Unhinged, due out on Tuesday.

When asked by Martin about the discrepancy during the interview, Manigault Newman insisted Martin must not have read the book (she had) and pointed to a section at the very end of it. But in that section, Manigault Newman doesn't actually describe hearing the tape. She writes of calling one of her "sources" who had a lead on the "N-word tape."
"Unhinged" is such a common insult these days, but I heard some comedian say something like: "They said I was 'unhinged,' but I don't even have hinges." I'm just going to guess it was Kathy Griffin, because I can't find the joke on the internet and I recently sat through her 3-hour show. I liked that joke, and I'm tired of the insult "unhinged" (and all the other insults that rest on the premise of mental illness, a condition that warrants empathy (including my own longstanding tag "Trump derangement syndrome")).

I can also see that when the comedian Michelle Wolf was called "unhinged," she reacted with the joke, "Now is not the time to be hinged," but I like "I don't even have hinges" much better, because it takes you immediately to the concrete image — a person with hinges. This is what I picture:

That man — his name is Jeff Warner — is really good at operating that toy and I like his voice too. It reminds me of Jim Kweskin. The toy is called a "limberjack" or a "jig doll." I was a little worried that the term "jig doll" in a post involving Omarosa might strike some people as racist, especially since the song Warner is singing is "Buffalo Gals." But a "jig" is a dance, and these dolls — also called "limberjacks" — have been around for hundreds of years and don't seem connected to the racial slur that begins with those 3 letters and that can be shortened to those 3 letters. But here are some Pinterest images of jig dolls, and you'll see that some of them depict black people in a way that is easily interpreted as racist (like this one).

As for "Buffalo Gals"... are they supposed to be black women? I've never thought about this before. From Wikipedia:
"Buffalo Gals" is a traditional American song, written and published as "Lubly Fan" in 1844 by the blackface minstrel John Hodges, who performed as "Cool White." The song was widely popular throughout the United States. Because of its popularity, minstrels altered the lyrics to suit the local audience, so it might be performed as "New York Gals" in New York City or "Boston Gals" in Boston or "Alabama Girls" in Alabama (as in the version recorded by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins on a field recording trip in 1959). The best-known version is named after Buffalo, New York.
Hmm. So "Buffalo" is not a way to refer to black people. It's just Buffalo, New York. But it is an old blackface minstrel song! What a strange set of facts to encounter as I put some extra effort into steering away from anything arguably racist. And I don't want to be unfair to Jeff Warner, who just seems delightful to me. Here's the most famous version of the song:

"Buffalo Gals" is also what the slave character Jim is singing when we first encounter him in Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer":
Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing Buffalo Gals. Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom's eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarrelling, fighting, skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour--and even then somebody generally had to go after him. Tom said:

"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."

Jim shook his head and said: "Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an' git dis water an' not stop foolin' roun' wid anybody. She say she spec' Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an' so she tole me go 'long an' 'tend to my own business--she 'lowed SHE'D 'tend to de whitewashin'."

“Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That's the way she always talks. Gimme the bucket--I won't be gone only a a minute. SHE won't ever know."

“Oh, I dasn't, Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an' tar de head off'n me. 'Deed she would."
I didn't have to censor the "N-word" in that passage. It does appear elsewhere in "Tom Sawyer," but not (as in "Huckleberry Finn") as part of Jim's name. But Mark Twain's use of the African American Vernacular English is on vivid display. The white author completely failed to follow the Roxane Gay directive to "know your lane" and stay in it.

And now, if you need a book to read, you can't be thinking of reading "Unhinged." That would be nuts. Don't you feel like reading "Tom Sawyer"? "Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden." That's great stuff. And I love running into words that it seems we've been forgetting to use, like "skylarking."

"Skylark" is also a song. Here, this is nice:

I think the "skylark" there is the bird. Not the prankish horseplay. And not the Buick...

Bonus: The French word for the "skylark" (the bird) is "alouette" — as in...

Je te plumerai la tête = I'll pluck the feathers out of your head.

And that's where I'm going with all this: I'll pluck all thoughts of Omarosa out of your head.

"Anders Carlson-Wee engaged in nothing we moderns need slur as 'blackface.'"

"To wit, while we must evaluate each case on its own basis, to the extent that any white person’s depiction of Black English of whatever quality or diligence elicits rolling eyes at best and social media witch hunts at worst, we have lost step not only with linguistic science, but also with what most would consider norms of how human groups co-occupy social spaces and learn from one another."

Writes John McWhorter in "There’s Nothing Wrong With Black English/Accepting it as an alternative form of the language, and not a degraded one, requires being open to artists employing it in their work, even if they didn't grow up speaking it" (The Atlantic).

Anders Carlson-Wee is the white poet whose poem The Nation obsequiously apologized for publishing. We talked about it here.

McWhorter pushes back the writer/professor/editor/commentator Roxane Gay (who, like McWhorter, is African American):
[Roxane Gay] directs white writers to “know your lane,” and not depict the dialect.... Of course, if a Carlson-Wee depicted Black English gracelessly in terms of the grammar, it’d be time to call foul. But he got it right....

Gay... wrote on Twitter: “The reality is that when most white writers use [African American Vernacular English] they do so badly. They do so without understanding that it is a language with rules. Instead, they use AAVE to denote that there is a black character in their story because they understand blackness as a monolith. Framing blackness as monolithic is racist. It is lazy.” Indeed. But it isn’t clear to me that Carlson-Wee is guilty of either of these flubs....
This may be some solace to Carlson-Wee, but — for all McWhorter's linguistic expertise — Gay's message is the one that will stick. What white writer would read all this and decide anything other than just to stay in your lane as Gay instructed? You might get McWhorter's elevated, educated approval, but you'll only get that — is that enough?! — if you avoid "flubs" — what are all the possible flubs?! — and even then, I sense there's something more:
[W]hen a Carlson-Wee briefly explores the pain of a black homeless person and shows her using precisely the speech variety she actually would, or an Oscar Hammerstein knows that working-class black people in a parachute factory [in Carmen Jones] would not talk like the characters in his previous hits Oklahoma! or Carousel, it’s time for educated America to get past the cringe of seeing Black English depicted on the page by someone who didn’t grow up speaking it.
It seems the writer will also have to pass an empathy test and successfully inspire the belief that he's exploring the pain or showering knowledge of working class black people. But good literature doesn't make it that clear. How do we know this writer is not making fun of black people or criticizing them in some way? Even when he's not, you may think he is. I read Carlson-Wee's poem and I don't think it unambiguously or simply "explores the pain." As I wrote a few days ago:
The voice is that of a black person, talking to other black people, explaining how to to collect money from the white people who pass by... The key insight is that you get money by causing white people to think about who they are and to be motivated to give you money because they were made to think that the person who gives you money is the person they want to be. So you succeed if you essentially cease to be and transform yourself into the image of whatever it is that jogs them into feeling they need to be the person who helps you. That key insight follows a how-to list of ways to be that inauthentic person who gets white people to give you money.

Is the main problem that the white poet had the nerve to appropriate a black voice or is it that he portrayed black people as pathetic and conniving? Or is it that he portrayed white people helping black people as a matter of white narcissism?
That is, I suspect that the hostility to Carlson-Wee came not because he tried to embody a suffering black person, but because he had that black person criticize the kind of good white person The Nation's readers like to think they are. Didn't pass the political test. And I see McWhorter as carrying forward a political test, though he paid almost no attention to it.

I'd like to think McWhorter would approve of the politics of the Carlson-Wee poem that means what I said it means. But even if the McWhorter seal of approval is all a white writer would need to have permission to depict a black style of speech, who would take the risk? And what writer would choose a project that entails the incessant inhibition of gunning for that approval?

August 10, 2018

Casual — and maybe charming — sarcasm from President Trump.

"The judge in Paul Manafort's trial has called a recess without explanation."

"U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis lll huddled with attorneys from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office and Manafort's defense lawyers, as well as court security officers, for more than 20 minutes before calling the recess. The judge then exited the courtroom toward the jury room...."

Yahoo News.

ADDED: As you can see at the same link, the trial resumed and there was no big deal. Too bad this boring post sat at the top of the blog all day! I hate when that happens. And before I went out for my 4-mile walk, I considered putting up this photograph:


But I decided it was too boring. How wrong I was! It is fascinating compared to the Manafort trial.

"We understand the purpose of education is not a career and a technical job, the purpose of an education is to teach young people how to think, which scares the hell out of Scott Walker."

Said Paul Soglin at the Democratic Party gubernatorial forum on Wednesday, quoted in "At Democratic forum Matt Flynn says Scott Walker will eat Tony Evers for lunch" (Wisconsin State Journal).

Here's the Isthmus report on the forum:
The mostly collegial conversation took a turn toward the end of the 90-minute forum, when Flynn took aim at Evers, criticizing him for supporting Walker’s most recent budget and calling him “Republican light.” Evers pushed back against the attack, calling Flynn’s characterization a “cheap shot” and pointing out that he praised the budget as “pro-kid” because Walker adopted 90 percent of the funding Evers had proposed. “I’ll never back off from that,” Evers said. “That is, frankly, an outrageous comment from somebody that I respect. We can win this race without this type of diatribe."

Flynn responded by suggesting that Evers couldn’t stand up to Walker. "If you ask an open question to a liar — to Scott Walker — he'll have you for lunch," Flynn said.
Tony Evers is the state school superintendent, and he's leading according to the latest Marquette poll. The primary is next Tuesday. It's a shame there are so many candidates. The forum was very hard to watch — technically amateurish to the point of absurdity. We watched and here's the comment I dashed off in my own comments section last night:
We watched the whole thing. Laughed a lot. At what??! They weren’t funny but we laughed anyway. Something about the mikes malfunctioning, Evers mumbling, that guy who seemed like Andy Kaufman wearing a yellow suit that turned green as the time wore on, Vinehout getting so gosh darn excited over everything and rocking back and forth, Flynn being so weirdly gruff, etc. It all seemed so rinky dink. At one point, a fedora floated by. No one took care of the technical side of this show. They were all seated, yet they stood up to talk and the camera had to tilt up and down woozily.

And you want to be my governor?
"A fedora floated by" literally refers to a man in a hat walking in front of the camera. Figuratively, it's a bit like an empty suit.

Floating Fedora from Natasha Kirke on Vimeo.

ADDED: Scott Walker won't eat Tony Evers for lunch because he's famous for eating the same thing for lunch every day, and it's not Tony Evers. See "This Governor Is Getting Mocked for Brown-Bagging Lunch Every Day" (Money):
Walker tweeted that for 26 long years in a row, he has eaten not one, but two ham-and-cheese sandwiches almost everyday for lunch. “Like millions of Americans, I bring my own lunch to work,” Walker wrote in the tweet.
Walker eating lunch is not a good metaphor for his opponents. It's long been part of his political rhetoric, and they're making me think of it.

Violent headline in The Washington Post: "Time for Mueller to bring out the big guns."

It's just an op-ed by a lawprof, and I haven't read it, but I see it's #1 on the "Most Read" list in the sidebar, so the headline worked as clickbait. Which makes me notice that the list should be headed "Most Clicked," because, as I said, I didn't read the op-ed, and I doubt if many of WaPo's readers (i.e. clickers) did. I mean I glanced at it again just to get an idea of when I decided, after clicking, that I didn't really want to read it after all, and I couldn't get past the first sentence...
Even as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III marches forward with his prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and as the case that President Trump engaged in criminal conduct grows stronger, the president and his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani continue their tango about whether the president will deign to answer questions from Mueller’s team.
... and even then, I was just thinking idle thoughts like: marches forward, that sounds like something that might be done with big guns, but oh, what's this?, a tango. Mueller is marching and has guns, and Trump and Giuliani are tangoing. And they're purportedly tangoing "about" something. How do you tango about whether to answer questions?

It makes me think about the old aphorism "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." The point there is, obviously, you can't dance about architecture (so you can't write about music). It's a great line, because it's so trippy to think about dancing about architecture.

Dancing About Architecture from ZEITGUISED on Vimeo.

3 long sentences beginning with "When."

From "Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson/The Canadian psychology professor’s stardom is evidence that leftism is on the decline—and deeply vulnerable," by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic:
When the poetry editors of The Nation virtuously publish an amateurish but super-woke poem, only to discover that the poem stumbled across several trip wires of political correctness; when these editors (one of them a full professor in the Harvard English department) then jointly write a letter oozing bathos and career anxiety and begging forgiveness from their critics; when the poet himself publishes a statement of his own—a missive falling somewhere between an apology, a Hail Mary pass, and a suicide note; and when all of this is accepted in the houses of the holy as one of the regrettable but minor incidents that take place along the path toward greater justice, something is dying.

When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system.

When even Barack Obama, the poet laureate of identity politics, is moved to issue a message to the faithful, hinting that that they could be tipping their hand on all of this—saying during a speech he delivered in South Africa that a culture is at a dead end when it decides someone has no “standing to speak” if he is a white man—and when even this mayday is ignored, the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end.
I was going to challenge you to diagram these sentences, but what I really want to ask you to do is to sing them to the tune of "Queen Jane Approximately." You know the Bob Dylan song I'm talking about?
When your mother sends back all your invitations/And your father to your sister he explains/That you’re tired of yourself and all of your creations...

Now when all of the flower ladies want back what they have lent you/And the smell of their roses does not remain/And all of your children start to resent you...

Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned/Have died in battle or in vain/And you’re sick of all this repetition...

When all of your advisers heave their plastic/At your feet to convince you of your pain/Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic...

Now when all the bandits that you turned your other cheek to/All lay down their bandanas and complain/And you want somebody you don’t have to speak to...
Dylan follows all of his "when" clauses with "Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?" Flanagan's "when"s are followed by: 1. "something is dying," 2. "it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system," and 3. "the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end." Which do you like better, the Flanagan variety or the Dylan repetition? Dylan gets an extra plus or minus because one of the "when"s is about being "sick of all this repetition." I give a plus, myself, especially since where all the "when"s get us is to a desire to be with "somebody you don’t have to speak to." There's no repetition like no talking at all.

"It just happened that way. When I’m on a knee, most of the time I’m praying, and thank God for having Albert next to me."

"Being a part of this protest hasn’t been easy. I thought I was going to be by myself out there. Today I had an angel with me with Albert being out there. I’m grateful he sees what’s happening, and he wants to do something about it as well."

From "N.F.L. National Anthem Protests Resume With Players Kneeling and Raising Fists" (NYT). The quote is from Kenny Stills took a knee along with his Dolphins teammate Albert Wilson during the anthem before the preseason game last night. They were the only knee-takers this week, and there were also a couple players who raised a fist.

Did you notice it's time to pay attention to football again? It's early August. I notice that the Dolphin who raised a fist last night (Robert Quinn) is wearing a winter hat...

You don't need a hat in August in Florida, and — think about it — you don't need football.

The perfection of press vanity.

The Birds.

ADDED: "Fed-up locals are setting electric scooters on fire, smearing them with poop and burying them at sea" (L.A. Times).
These vandals are destroying or desecrating the vehicles in disturbingly imaginative ways, and celebrating their illegal deeds on social media — in full view of authorities and the public....

Lt. Michael Soliman, who supervises the LAPD Pacific Division’s Venice Beach detail, said he’s aware of some vandalism — his team has seen scooters left in a pile 10 feet high. But because people aren’t reporting such incidents, it’s not something officers are responding to, he said.

“If we have to prioritize the allocation of our time and resources, first and foremost we’re going to prioritize the preservation of life,” Soliman said. “Protection of property comes second.”
So it's open season.

Light-hearted pro-Trump street art — reacting and in contrast to the demolition of his Hollywood star.

"What exactly might an 'insurance policy' against Donald Trump look like? He would have to be marginalized at every turn."

"Strategies would encompass politics, the courts, opposition research and the media. He’d have to become mired in lawsuits, distracted by allegations, riddled with calls for impeachment, hounded by investigations. His election must be portrayed as the illegitimate result of a criminal or un-American conspiracy.... Once Trump is in office, a good insurance policy would call for neutralizing the advisers seen as most threatening, including his attorney general. The reigning FBI director could privately send the implicit message that as long as Trump minds his own business, he won’t be named as a target. When the president asks the FBI director to lift the cloud and tell the public their president isn’t under investigation, the FBI director could demur and allow a storm of innuendo to build. Idle chatter benefits the plot. There would be rampant media leaks, both true and false, but none of them would benefit Trump. All would be well unless the president removes the FBI director. Then, a rider on the insurance policy would kick in...."

Writes Sharyl Attkisson at The Hill.

Also at The Hill: "The handwritten notes exposing what Fusion GPS told DOJ about Trump," by John Solomon.
... Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson — paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to find dirt on her GOP rival — met secretly with [then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr], right after Trump won the 2016 election. And all of it was captured in the official’s handwritten notes — a contemporaneous record that intelligence professionals tell me exposes the flaws plaguing the early Russia collusion case....

Early on, Ohr’s notes detail, the conversation focused on a theory apparently offered by Simpson that revolving Trump team members — former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, followed by informal adviser Carter Page, then personal lawyer Michael Cohen — forged a secret channel with Moscow to hijack the election. All three men long have been cited in the Russia investigation; each denies any coordination with Russia. But Ohr’s notes are the first to quote Simpson as suggesting the three essentially were shark-tooth spies who replaced each other in a secret plot....

The Ohr interview and many other now-public actions in the Russia collusion case are “breaking every protocol at the fundamental level of intelligence gathering,” one highly decorated intelligence professional told me....

August 9, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Did anyone watch the debate last night — the Democratic Party candidates for Wisconsin governor?

Personally, I forgot. But here's the video, so it's not too late.

If you watch and see some good moments, tell us the precise time.

WaPo's empathy provoking headline — "Tennessee plans to execute killer with controversial drug that Justice Sotomayor said could inflict ‘torturous pain’"...

... fails to inspire empathy. Comment after comment carry on the theme I've encountered in all sorts of comments threads on articles about the cruelty of the death penalty:
How much pain did Paula Dyer experience when Billy killed her? How much pain did her family feel? Her friends and community? If Mr. Irick does not have a comfortable demise, I for one will not shed a tear.

Bring back the chair and set to medium rare.

He raped a first-grader 33 years ago. Let him suffer.

Who the hell cares how much he suffers if at all? He certainly didn't give a damn about the suffering he was causing his victim!

In fact all murderers should be executed in the same manner of the murder they committed and then some, PERIOD!


If you don't want them to use the drugs, there's still "Ol Sparky" on standby.

Torturous pain? Only one way to find out, heh heh.

Oh boo hoo. Since the writer conveniently left our what this inmate is being executed for, I decided to find out. Billy Ray Irick is being executed for the rape and murder of a 7 year old girl in 1985. He's had 33 years of life since raping and murdering a 7 year old child. I shed no tears when he finally kicks it and if he feels a little pain - so be it....
Not one commenter mentions Sotomayor, whose humanity WaPo seems to have hoped its readers would want to echo.

"Ever the good student, Jeong... absorbed a bastardized version of critical legal studies and critical race studies, both prevalent at Harvard Law."

"Those by now hoary theories portray the great traditions of Anglo-American jurisprudence as just a mystifying cover for illegitimate power. 'In law school,' Jeong writes in her Rolling Stone post, 'we learned that due process is what we get in lieu of justice. And what’s due process besides a series of rules that are meant to keep things as predictable as [f***ing] possible?' It would be salutary for Jeong to live for a while in a society without due process and where the workings of justice are not 'as predictable as [f***ing] possible.'"

From "Sarah Jeong Is a Boring, Typical Product of the American Academy" by Heather Mac Donald in National Review.

I don't understand attacking Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies as "hoary." "Hoary" means "Ancient; venerable from age, time-honoured"(OED). Mac Donald objects to the disparagement of "the great traditions of Anglo-American jurisprudence." If tradition is something you like, hoariness is a plus.

I don't think cursing about the regularity of rules is much of an effort at Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies, and apparently Mac Donald doesn't either, since she calls what Jeong is doing "bastardized."

I haven't read enough of the Jeong oeuvre to have a real opinion of the quality of her mind, and I don't know what, specifically, Harvard lawprofs were teaching in the years when she attended. Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies were vibrant back in the 1980s, and lawprofs said all sorts of things under those labels back when the theories were young and fertile. The lawprofs who did this sort of thing used to argue with each other, and it wasn't boring at all.

"[T]he president is only partially correct in saying that the meeting with Trump Jr. is 'done all the time in politics.'"

Writes Jonathan Turley at The Hill.
The media has largely ignored that Hillary Clinton and her campaign spent a huge amount of money to fund the efforts of former British spy Christopher Steele to gather dirt on Trump, including information from the Russian government and intelligence figures...

However, this particular meeting is not “done all the time” because it was uniquely dumb. Trump Jr. pulled Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner into a meeting with unknown participants connected to the Russian government in Trump Tower as members of the media meandered around downstairs. The irony is that the Clintons showed how this is “done all the time” with cutouts and third parties like Steele. Indeed, despite denials during and after the campaign, the Clinton team only admitted to funding the dossier after the media stumbled onto the paper trail long after the election. When caught, they simply declared it was done all the time as “opposition research.”...

If the Russians had evidence of criminal conduct by Hillary Clinton, her campaign or her family foundation, the Trump campaign had every reason to want to know about it. That is precisely what the Clinton campaign spent millions to do, talking to Russians and other foreigners investigating Trump....

In the end, the Trump Tower controversy is not based on “fake news” as claimed by the president, but the federal crime alleged by the media is based on fake law.
"Fake law" is a great catchphrase. You could just say that somebody is wrong about the law. But "fake law" plays into our present-day anxieties so well.

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors have spent several days building what many legal experts consider a slam-dunk case against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort."

"But it has been surprisingly hard going at times, and as they prepare to rest their case by the week's end, they bear battle wounds that Manafort’s lawyers are sure to exploit as they mount their defense," Politico reports.
Most notably, Manafort’s attorneys have painted the prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates, as a serial liar, embezzler and philanderer who — as a defense lawyer asserted in court on Wednesday — engaged in four extramarital affairs.

Several other setbacks have come courtesy of the cantankerous presiding federal judge, T.S. Ellis III...  The judge also seemed to give credence to Manafort’s argument that he did not keep close enough track of his money to commit knowing fraud and tax evasion.

“Mr. Manafort was very good about knowing where the money is and knowing where to spend it,” Gates said.

“Well, he missed the amounts of money you stole from him, though, didn't he?” the judge said.

Gates conceded that was true.

“So, he didn't do it that closely,” the judge quipped, to some laughter in the courtroom....

"This young woman is exposed to the world as if she's a racist, but maybe look into your own heart..."

"... If there were some line you could say to the cop who stopped your car that would cause him to let you go with just a warning, wouldn't you say it? Also, what if this woman were a little smarter and more experienced and knew to just give a smile and a look that communicated 'I'm a clean, white girl' but never said the words? She'd be the more white-privileged woman, and she wouldn't be getting her life ruined by social media."

I wrote, over on Facebook, where my son John posted the news article "A Woman Arrested For Drunk Driving Told Police They Shouldn't Arrest Her Because She's A 'White, Clean Girl.'"

"Does Sacha Baron Cohen Understand Israel?/The comedian’s new show makes a mockery of Israeli machismo. But he doesn’t know who we really are."

In the NYT, Shmuel Rosner critiques Cohen's character Morad — "an ultra-macho ex-Mossad agent who travels around the United States duping Israel-loving conservatives into embarrassing themselves."
We cannot escape the suspicion that there are still some Morads in our midst: Brave commandos who become political leaders or arms dealers or pundits; Israelis who are blunt, macho, crude, boisterous, pompous and trigger-happy; Israelis who forget to shed their uniformed mentality even when their services are no longer needed....

We still have dangerous enemies, so maybe keeping this stereotype going is useful. We seem tough after all, with our big muscles and love of guns. On the other hand, the Morad caricature makes us look bellicose and pigheaded, if not downright absurd. And it probably makes us seem hideous to many Americans, especially young ones, especially liberal ones — the Americans with whom Israel already has an image problem....

Israel’s most avid supporters in America might like us more as crude machos than as start-up entrepreneurs. They might even prefer our satirized fossils to our real selves....

When I was working on this article, I called a friend of mine, a former paratrooper, to get his thoughts. “Are there still a lot of Morad types in our country?” I asked him. And then he gave me the answer that made it all clear: Every Israeli who serves in the military knows that we still have Morads. But for every idiotic Morad, we also have two prankish Cohens. That’s why we can afford a laugh.
So there are idiots and pranksters in a 2 to 1 ratio. What's the ratio of idiot-or-prankster to those who are neither idiot nor prankster. Rosner doesn't say.

The word "macho" (or "machismo") is used 4 times in Rosner's column. "Masculine" is used once — in a phrase that stands in for "macho": "blustering, masculine image." So "masculine" is nothing but bad and retrograde — in Rosner's words, "bellicose and pigheaded."

Rosner says that Americans might prefer such awful people to "our real selves." But what are your real selves — "prankish Cohens"?

I can't watch Sacha Baron Cohen's show (and I used to like him) because he comes across as an aggressive jerk. Not just his characters. He seems clearly to hate the character he's invented, even as he gets into embodying the character and having the freedom to act out that guy's hatefulness. I find it sad and demoralizing.

Is there no way to be a good man — a good man? Rosner doesn't talk about that, and I wonder if Cohen believes in it at all.

"The five suspects accused of abusing 11 children at a New Mexico compound were training them to commit school shootings..."

CNN reports the prosecutors said.
Allegations against the suspects come in the wake of the discovery that 11 starving children had been living in a filthy compound in Amalia, New Mexico, that lacked electricity or plumbing.

Authorities raided the compound on Friday as part of their search for Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, a child with severe medical problems who was allegedly abducted from Georgia by his father, Siraj Wahhaj, about nine months ago. A boy's remains were found at the compound on Monday, police said, although it is not yet clear whether the remains are those of 4-year-old Abdul-Ghani.

The five defendants -- Wahhaj; his sisters, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, who are thought to be the children's mothers; Lucas Morten and Jany Leveille -- were each arraigned Wednesday in a Taos, New Mexico, courtroom on 11 counts of child abuse related to the neglect and abuse of the children....

Wahhaj's father, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a controversial New York imam, said he has "no knowledge" of the alleged training, said spokesman Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid.

The imam was the first Muslim to offer an opening prayer before the US House of Representatives, the Muslim Alliance in North America said. He was also a character witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman.
I found that hard to understand!  Who is the Wahhaj  who is one of the 5 defendants? Not Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. He's 4-years-old and probably deceased. But not Imam Siraj Wahhaj either, I don't think. I have to do my own research to make sense of the CNN article! Wikipedia tells me this about Imam Siraj Wahhaj (who is 68 years old):

"Sikh man beaten, spat on. ‘Devastated’ police chief says suspect is ‘my 18-year old son.'"

WaPo reports.
“Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now,” [Union City Police Chief Darryl] McAllister wrote in a lengthy, emotional message on the Union City Police Department’s Facebook page. “Violence and hatred is not what we have taught our children; intolerance for others is not even in our vocabulary, let alone our values.”

His son, Tyrone McAllister, was arrested along with a 16-year-old on charges of attempted robbery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. Police say that one of them waived [sic] a firearm in the air as they left the scene of the attack....

“Despite having the desire any parent would have in wanting to protect their child, my oath is (and always will be) to the law and my vow of integrity guides me through this horrendous difficulty,” Darryl McAllister wrote in the Facebook post. “My stomach has been churning from the moment I learned this news.”

McAllister said his son began running away and “getting involved in a bad crowd” a couple of years ago. “He pretty much divorced his friends and family, associating with people none of us knew.”

He spent some time in a juvenile center after getting in trouble for theft-related crimes, and was again arrested for theft as an adult, his father wrote. After spending about three months in jail, he “has been wayward and has not returned to our family home for several months,” McAllister wrote.

“It’s difficult for us to comprehend how one of three kids who grew up with the same parents, under the same roof, with the same rules and same values and character could wander so far astray,” McAllister said. His 18-year-old son has two sisters, McAllister said, “one corporate and the other about to start law school.”
Difficult to comprehend? The successful two are the daughters. The "wayward" child is the son. What do boys need? You can't say this child didn't have a strong father figure in the house. His father is the Chief of Police. Tyrone McAllister is just one individual, and who knows his particular story? I'm not going to generalize, but the sex difference between that father's successful children and his unsuccessful son is too glaring not to mention.

IN THE COMMENTS: Karen of Texas said:
Begs the question - was dad a strict disciplinarian while his son and daughters were growing up who punished his son for transgressions in ways he did not punish his daughters? It would also appear the son is the baby of the family. Perhaps mom was too permissive when her last child came along - and dad had higher expectations of his male heir.

Who knows what the family dynamics and dysfunction were. The blanket statement that they were all raised under the same roof, yada, is and indication that dad (and mom) are unable to self examine to see if perhaps they did treat son differently - and perhaps not in the "good" way they think they did.
MikeR said:
Sad story. But I didn't like the police chief's statements about his son; his son needs his love right now. The chief shouldn't be speaking publicly about it. It feels like he's throwing his son under the bus to save the family's reputation.

I have three sons. One had a hard time but now is doing well, one has been doing very well, and the third is still having a very hard time. It really makes no sense to wonder about whether their gender or any other external factor led to their circumstances. Everyone ultimately makes their own choices.

"The thing to do with this young man is put him in jail for a long time." There are no circumstances where it ever makes sense to put anyone in jail for a long time. Give him lashes if you think it will help, put him in a chain gang to work off his debt if he can, transport him to a colony if you have one, or execute him. Civilized human beings do not keep people in cages.

August 8, 2018

At the Blue Beach Café...


... talk about anything you want.

And if you need to buy anything, buy it through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

New, improved Trump tweeting — now, shorter than ever.

ADDED: The new, totally terse tweet came a few after this series of tweets, which I'm reprinting to give you a more fleshed out view of our President's public display over yesterday's voting:

1. "5 for 5!"

2. "The Republicans have now won 8 out of 9 House Seats, yet if you listen to the Fake News Media you would think we are being clobbered. Why can’t they play it straight, so unfair to the Republican Party and in particular, your favorite President!"

3. "As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win! I LOVE the people, & they certainly seem to like the job I’m doing. If I find the time, in between China, Iran, the Economy and much more, which I must, we will have a giant Red Wave!"

4. "Congratulations to @LenaEpstein of Michigan on a job well done. Also, thanks for your great support!"

Striking photograph of Epstein at her Twitter page:

She won the GOP primary in Michigan's 11th District. The Detroit Free Press has this:
Epstein was all but unknown in political circles before 2016, when she helped to engineer President Trump's successful Michigan campaign, the first won by a Republican presidential nominee in the state since 1988...

"Lena definitely ran as the Trump candidate. Others (in the Republican field) attempted to but didn't have the natural connection," said Republican consultant John Truscott..... Truscott said that while the 11th district has traditionally been Republican, it only marginally backed Trump in 2016...

"Change is coming to the #Oscars... A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film."

The Academy announced today.

Here's some criticism at Slate.
But creating a category that segregates popular films from more elevated fare...
See where this is going?... segregates....
... hardly seems like an improvement or likely to keep the academy relevant, since it calls attention to the awards’ elitism rather than actually broadening their appeal. If the academy really wants to make the Oscars more appealing to a wider audience, it should consider just recognizing the artistic merit of deserving popular films instead of cordoning them off in their own category.... [P]retty much any solution would be better than sticking Black Panther with a participation trophy.

"Part of winning retweets and likes is sending missives your community will love. Given how human beings police group boundaries, that means..."

".... making jokes only your friends understand, slamming common enemies, expressing sentiments in ways that signal group belonging. Twitter is a medium that rewards us for snark, for sick burns, for edgy jokes and cruel comments that deepen the grooves of our group. And then it’s designed to make the sickest of those burns and the worst of those jokes go viral, reaching far beyond their intended audience, with untold consequences.... [Twitter] is built to reward us for snarky in-group communication and designed to encourage unintended out-group readership. It fosters both tribalism and tribal collision. It seduces you into thinking you’re writing for one community but it gives everyone the ability to search your words and project them forward in time and space and outward into another community at the point when it’ll do you maximum damage. It leaves you explaining jokes that can’t be explained to employers that don’t like jokes anyway...."

From "The problem with Twitter, as shown by the Sarah Jeong fracas/Behind our Twitter wars lies Twitter’s problems" by Ezra Klein (Vox).

"'Kris, can you predict what might become this season’s popular buzzword?' asked the host — to which Wu responded, 'Skr skr skr skr skr skr skr skrrrr,' varying each monosyllable’s pitch."

"Tellingly, Wu did not elaborate on the colorful colloquialism: Though widely used, its meaning is head-scratchingly difficult to pin down."

From "How ‘Skr’ Took Over the Chinese Internet/A brief history of the meaningless hip-hop term that inspired countless viral memes" (Sixth Tone).

Here's some audio, for what it's worth: "Kris Wu - SKR."

"A young woman, well known to the New York City-based chattering class, has finally let loose with what she really thinks. 'The white race is the cancer of human history,' she says..."

"'... it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.' Has this author discovered some new tweet from Sarah Jeong, the now-notorious new hire at the New York Times? Nope. The quote above dates back to 1967. It’s from Susan Sontag, the chic literary critic. Her words were mostly in response to the Vietnam War, but as we can see, her critique extended far further. We might also add that Sontag later said she regretted her quote—because it was insensitive to cancer victims...."

So begins James Pinkerton in "Social Justice Warriors Are the Democrats’ Electoral Poison/Those who don't denounce the politics of Sarah Jeong will crash and burn just as George McGovern did" (The American Conservative).

ADDED: From Sontag's book "Illness as Metaphor":
The cancer metaphor seems hard to resist for those who wish to register indignation....  D.H. Lawrence called masturbation “the deepest and most dangerous cancer of our civilization”; and I once wrote, in the heat of despair over America’s war on Vietnam, that “the white race is the cancer of human history.”

But how to be morally severe in the late twentieth century? How, when there is so much to be severe about; how, when we have a sense of evil but no longer the religious or philosophical language to talk intelligently about evil? Trying to comprehend “radical” or “absolute” evil, we search for adequate metaphors. But the modern disease metaphors are all cheap shots. The people who have the real disease are also hardly helped by hearing their disease’s name constantly being dropped as the epitome of evil. Only in the most limited sense is any historical event or problem like an illness. And the cancer metaphor is particularly crass. It is invariably an encouragement to simplify what is complex and an invitation to self-righteousness, if not to fanaticism.

"A Florida tourist has died after being punched in the face by an SUV driver in New York who he likely mistook for an Uber worker."

"Sandor Szabo, 35, was knocked unconscious around 1.15am on Sunday in Queens while trying to make his way home from his stepsister's wedding" (Daily Mail).
It is thought that he had called for an Uber and began knocking on car windows to find out which ride was his. When he knocked on the window of a white SUV the driver climbed out, hit him in the face, and then drove away leaving him bleeding on the sidewalk.
AND: Another example of possibly justifiable self-defense: "Woman shoots masturbating bicyclist trying to break into her SE Houston home, police say."

"'It’s fantastic,' Mr. Trump said about his rapport with Mr. Rosenstein when a spokesman told him The Wall Street Journal was seeking a comment."

"'We have great relationship. Make sure you tell them that.' Mr. Rosenstein declined to comment for this article. In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said he has a 'productive working relationship' with Mr. Trump. As the Mueller investigation proceeds, their relationship may sour. Mr. Trump has consistently called it a 'witch hunt,' and Mr. Rosenstein has said protecting the probe is a priority. But the rapprochement may signal that, despite the president’s public statements, the investigation isn’t in immediate danger of being halted. Senior White House officials privately praise Mr. Rosenstein’s handling of demands by congressional Republicans to share internal documents on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email server and any Trump campaign contacts with Russia. Some Trump allies—such as Reps. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio)—accuse Mr. Rosenstein of stonewalling, but White House officials say they view their effort to impeach Mr. Rosenstein as a sideshow. Indeed, the president has recently come to rely on Mr. Rosenstein, the No. 2 at the Justice Department whom the White House increasingly views as the No. 1, given the president’s disenchantment with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he served on the Trump campaign...."

From "'It’s Fantastic!' Trump Warms to Rosenstein/Nearly fired by the president, the No. 2 Justice official—the man in charge of the Mueller probe—builds a rapport" in The Wall Street Journal, which seems available without a subscription. I got in anyway.

"Trump has been the great doctor, stitching up our scars and healing us organically."

Said Washington Governor Jay Inslee, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, quoted in "Democratic Party’s liberal insurgency hits a wall in Midwest primaries" by David Weigel in WaPo.

Such an absurd and colorful quote. Stitching up scars?! If your wounds are already scars, it would be freaky to stitch them up. Inslee's metaphor sent me looking for images in that genre of tattoo that includes things like this:

Also, "organically." He's not only crediting Trump as the "great doctor" but putting him in what sounds like some alternative medicine category of doctor.

By the way, when did David Weigel start looking like Edgar Allan Poe?

"You are young yet, my friend... but the time will arrive when you will learn to judge for yourself of what is going on in the world, without trusting to the gossip of others. Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see" — a quote from my favorite Edgar Allan Poe story, "The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether."