June 21, 2018

"How much apes really do resemble us in their emotional range and mental capacity will probably remain a mystery for longer than many of us will live."

"But when it comes to Koko, that may not really matter. Our response to a creature at once so like us and so different was to seek out the similarities — to experience empathy and to trust that Koko experienced it, too. It didn’t matter that she didn’t speak English the way we did, or even that she wasn’t human the way we were. What mattered was that somewhere in Koko’s eyes, we saw ourselves."

From "How Koko the gorilla spoke to us" (WaPo).

Koko died this week, at the age of 46.

Here's something I wrote about Koko back in 2005:
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said that if a lion could speak, we would not be able to understand him. But people taught a gorilla to speak and she said the very thing – if we are to believe this new lawsuit – that drunken guys say to women at Mardi Gras. If a gorilla could speak, we would understand her all too well!

Perhaps sensitivity to gorilla culture ought to have moved the women who worked with the renowned Koko to show her their nipples, but, America being what it is, they sued. Ah! Our litigious society! Should that be part of a job? Accommodating a gorilla? Make that, accommodating a celebrity gorilla! Well, there's no hope – exceedingly little hope – of convincing the gorilla that sexual harassment is wrong.

Being human, we love Wittgenstein's idea that the lion – or the gorilla -- would say something stunningly new. But the truth may be that the animal would just say "show me your t**s" – again and again. Oh, Koko! We once thought you were so profound. We believed we could make you human through language, but what have we done? Have we only reminded ourselves of our own lack of profundity?
Interesting, that bit about " accommodating a celebrity gorilla." It makes me think of Donald Trump's "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy." Donald Trump, by the way, is not a gorilla. He's an orangutan.


(In California.)


Come on, that must be fake! But no, "Melania Trump wears a $39 jacket with 'I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?' scrawled on the back as she boards plane to visit immigrant children at the Texas border - but insists there is 'no hidden meaning' in her choice/The first lady wore the khaki green Zara jacket upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland but changed before she disembarked the plane in Texas...  Melania, 48, visited a shelter for children in McAllen, Texas, the day after her husband signed executive order ending policy of family separation for illegals/Her spokeswoman said it was her idea to visit before the president signed his executive order and he supported her trip...." (Daily Mail).

How does that happen? What sense does it make? Generally, serious people making public appearances avoid wearing clothes with any written messages on them. It simply must be intentional. So why? What does it mean?

First, I assume, that she (and whoever worked with her on that jacket selection) wanted the image to go viral, as it has. It's in your face: Here, think about this, talk about this, assail me over this as I know you will.

Take that one step forward: I know you'll find a way to attack me, like for the wrong shoes or whatever, so let me make this easy for you. Let me have written on my back the precise statement you're looking to project onto me: I really don't care. It doesn't matter what I do. That's what you'll bend over backwards to find a way to say, so let me save you the trouble of straining yourself.

But if you get through that first phrase — "I really don't care" — you'll have to confront the rest of it: "DO U?" What are you doing here, photographing me, attacking me? You're doing the Theater of Empathy, but it's all political. You act like you care because it's useful to look that way, but you don't really care, DO U?

And then, step back, what exactly is Melania saying she doesn't really care about? The children? But she's here to see them first hand. (Yeah, she's doing the Theater of Empathy too.) Maybe what she's saying she doesn't care about is what you haters think of her. She has her shell of uncaring. I mean, why was that jacket made like that? Who was it for, that $39 jacket? I think it was made for people who want to feel self-sufficent and sure of their own values and mission and to let the would-be critics know the wearer of the jacket is on her own, doing what she thinks is right, and nothing you say can shake her.

ADDED: Over the past couple weeks, there's been so much anxiety about showing that you care and so much shaming about insufficient caring. To say "I really don't care" is an amazing counterpoint. It may be experienced by some people as a deep breath of fresh air. It's okay not to care. Maybe we don't have to jump at the intense demand to express caring. Do something that actually helps somebody, and enough with the noise about how much you care. "I really don't care" that you say you care, she says, and I wonder if you really even do.

SCOTUSblog is live-blogging the release of new Supreme Court opinions.

Here. At this point, all we know is that there are 2 boxes, which might mean 2 new cases.

ADDED: One of the cases is Lucia v. SEC:
Indeed, this is a case that Ronald Mann, who is covering it for us, says “may be as important a decision for the administrative state as any case the justices have heard all year.” The Constitution’s appointments clause requires that all “officers” of the United States be appointed by the president, by the “courts of law,” or by the “heads of departments.” At issue in this case is whether administrative law judges (commonly known as ALJs) of the Securities and Exchange Commission – who are not appointed by the SEC, the president or the judicial branch – are “officers” of the United States; if so, the ALJs’ appointments were unconstitutional....

The justices hold that the ALJs ARE "officers of the United States" for purposes of the Appointments Clause.
AND: Another case is Pereira v. Sessions:
When a non-citizen is eligible for deportation, he may (in some narrow circumstances) avoid deportation by having his removal cancelled. One requirement for cancellation of removal is that the non-citizen have had a “continuous physical presence” in the United States for specific periods of time. That presence stops, though, when the government serves the non-citizen with a “notice to appear” for removal proceedings. The question in this case was whether the clock stops when the notice to appear does not specify when the proceedings will be held....

The court holds that a notice to appear that does not designate the specific time or place of the non-citizen's removal proceedings is not a "notice to appear" for purposes of the statute and therefore does not stop the clock on the "continuous physical presence."
SCOTUSblog is discussing why the Kennedy concurrence is "a big deal." It has to do with whether or not the decision ignores Chevron (and some of you know what that means).

Next, in South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Court does something that makes it easier for states to tax retailers that don't have a "brick and mortar" presence within their borders: "The Internet's prevalence and power have changed the dynamics of the national economy." This meant rejecting an old case called Quill.

"The female political candidate’s uniform developed largely as a feminized version of the men’s suit, chosen to demonstrate that women could fit into what was a male-dominated world."

"But that does not necessarily mean that the opposite choice — the clichés of floral or frilly garments often associated with the word 'girlie' — is the answer.... But there’s no question that the dominant dress code and mind-set about dress still hews to the Elizabeth Warren/Hillary Clinton/Kirsten Gillibrand mold.... That mold says the pantsuit — and its cousin, the stewardess skirt suit — is the Garment Least Likely to Offend Any Interest Group, and thus the garment of choice. All else is a risk...."

From a NYT article by Vanessa Friedman titled "It’s 2018: You Can Run for Office and Not Wear a Pantsuit/As unprecedented numbers of women enter the political arena, what does it mean to 'dress to win'?"

I clicked on that title because I thought it was going to say that it's a mistake for female candidates to wear pants (in any form) rather than a skirt/dress (of some kind). But the article lumped skirted suits and pantsuits together.

To my eye, women in pants look less dressed up than a man in a standard business suit, and I don't think women should put themselves at that disadvantage, especially since pantsuits look sloppier on a woman's body than a business suit on a man's body.

I don't mean to insult women by saying that, but women's bodies are (generally) shaped differently than men's and women's pants are (generally) fitted differently from men's suit pants. Men's suit pants do not hug the legs or crotch, so they completely deflect attention away from the lower body. Men's suits bring us right up to the shoulders — the idealized shoulders — and and then, via shirt and tie, aim us straight at the face.

Women's pantsuits are more fitted in the leg and use color in a way that draws the eye downward, and they often do things with the jacket — such as making it very long — to cover up what's happening down there in the legs. But then the jacket is distracting.

In the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton's jackets were flat-out weird, with perplexing patch pockets. In fact, I don't like Vanessa Friedman's reference to the "Elizabeth Warren/Hillary Clinton/Kirsten Gillibrand mold," because Warren and Gillibrand wear very low-key things and Hillary Clinton launched into clothes that we struggled to understand, that got compared to loungewear or sci-fi costumery.

I don't really know what the best answer is. It depends on the individual. But you're asking to be trusted with responsibility, not to be enjoyed as a pop star or fashion maven. You don't want to look as though you're seeking power for purpose of expressing your individuality. Rather than go into more detail on that subject, I'll just give this post my tag "I'm for Boring."

"And this is my Nelson Mandela couch... with matching suit."

"Obama cyber chief confirms 'stand down' order against Russian cyberattacks in summer 2016."

Writes Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News.
As intelligence came in during the late spring and early summer of [2016] about the Russian attack, [Michael] Daniel instructed his staff on the National Security Council to begin developing options for aggressive countermeasures to deter the Kremlin’s efforts, including mounting U.S. “denial of service” attacks on Russian news sites and other actions targeting Russian cyber actors....

Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, asked about a [passage in the book “Russian Roulette”] in which one of Daniel’s staff members, Daniel Prieto, recounted a staff meeting shortly after the cyber coordinator was ordered by Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, to stop his efforts and “stand down.” This order was in part because Rice feared the options would leak and “box the president in.”

“I was incredulous and in disbelief,” Prieto is quoted as saying in the book. “It took me a moment to process. In my head, I was like, did I hear that correctly?” Prieto told the authors he then spoke up, asking Daniel: “Why the hell are we standing down? Michael, can you help us understand?”

Daniel has confirmed that the account was “an accurate rendering of what happened” in his staff meeting....

"Like many Americans, I am very impassioned and distraught over the situation with children separated from their families at the border, but I went way too far."

"It was wrong and I should not have done it. I immediately regretted it and sincerely apologize to the family for what I said and any hurt my words have caused," wrote Peter Fonda, admitting that it was "highly inappropriate and vulgar" to tweet "We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles and see if mother will stand up against the massive giant asshole she is married to."

I wonder where the pedophilia idea came from? The problem under discussion was the separation of children from adults and putting children in cages/"cages" with other children. If the idea was to give the Trump family the same treatment, parallelism would have Barron Trump in a cage apart from his parents and held captive with other children. Why introduce a new evil, pedophilia, which actually seems to be something the complained-of policy protects against?

What a strangely disordered mind was put on display! No wonder Mr. Fonda is sorry.

"Silence white supremacy!"/"Get him out" — that was the chant at a meeting of the Madison school board ad hoc committee on police officers in schools.

Here's the video, with David Blaska attempting to speak and getting shouted down by the crowd:

Blaska — a local conservative politico — blogged about his experience here:
Room 103 of the Doyle administration bldg was packed with the usual suspects, a term I used in my remarks.... They sprayed the F-bomb liberally and insulted the committee members at will. They brandished the usual posters, including “Expel Cops, Not Kids.”...

Committee chairman Dean Loumos (whom I was seated behind) shouted into my ear (to be heard above the cacophony) if I would be willing to stop right there. Given the pandemonium, I did so. Still had 17 seconds left of the allotted three minutes, but Blaska is public spirited.

Then Dean Loumos did the unforgivable. He apologized to the disrupters! Dean Loumos said he did not know Blaska would use “coded language.”

What coded language? The protestors were black, white, hispanic, and east Asian. Very few are parents. All but a handful are very young, very loud, and very obnoxious....

What else is new? Madison school board leadership race-shamed Karen Vieth for complaining about the dysfunction in her school. So why shouldn’t school board member Loumos do the same when a citizen and parent speaks in favor of keeping the police?!...
There's a second Blaska post here, with the video that I've embedded.

Blaska maintains a calm demeanor throughout the disturbing intimidation, but you can see that his hands shake (something commented on by the videographer, DuersttheWuerst), and I can only imagine how scary it must be to publicly express opinions in a small room that is packed with people denouncing you. The committee members do nothing to push back the intimidation or to protect Blaska's right to speak to the group.

Blaska called attention to the Madison teacher, Karen Vieth, who quit because of the terrible situation at one middle school. Here's my post from last week where I linked to her detailed and disturbing blog post.

June 20, 2018

At the Belleville Café...


... you can talk about anything.

And do consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"During the procedure, an instrument called the 'UltraFemme 360' is repeatedly inserted into the νagina."

"'It introduces heat which stimulates cellular turnover which makes you feel younger again... And it gets tighter and nicer and functions like it did when we were back in our twenties.' An additional attachment is also worked around the labia and the urethra 'which does make the appearance sometimes tighter and helps with stress incontinence and you become more supple.... So it’s easier to have sex again.' According to the Vitality Institute’s website, the treatment works to 'stimulate your body’s healing response, cell regeneration, collagen synthesis, and blood supply.... Two out of 10 women do have a happy time while they’re getting the treatment. That’s what the literature told us.”

The first quote within the quotes is from Kelly Rainey, the owner of the Vitality Institute, which is getting a lot of publicity because Jada Pinkett Smith says she had that procedure and that her "yoni is like a 16-year-old — I’m not kidding. It looks like a little beautiful peach."

I'm blogging this because I'm seeing other blogs taking the angle that Smith is absurdly vain — e.g., "FIRST-WORLD BRAGGADOCIO: Jada Pinkett Smith is 46 but says her vagina is ‘like a 16-year-old'" (Instapundit). But I think what's important here is the commercial venture that involves sticking an instrument repeatedly into the vagina to "introduce heat" and the claim that this is somehow healing and tightening.

By the way, the yoni is the vulva, not the vagina, and it's the vulva, not the vagina, that might look something like a peach.

Here, from Buzzfeed, is "33 Images Of Food Just Straight-Up Looking Like Vaginas" (funny images, but they're funny because they look like vulvas, not vaginas).

None is a peach.

"President Trump is preparing to issue an executive order as soon as Wednesday that ends the separation of families at the border by indefinitely detaining parents and children together..."

"... according to a person familiar with the White House plans," the NYT reports.
Mr. Trump’s executive order would seek to get around an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention — even if they are with their parents — for more than 20 days....

The order would keep families together, though it is unclear how Mr. Trump intends to claim the legal authority to violate what have been legal constraints on the proper treatment of children in government custody, which prevented former President Barack Obama from detaining families together during a similar flood of illegal immigration two years ago.

And the president could quickly find himself the subject of another legal challenge to his executive authority, much the way he attacked Mr. Obama for abusing the power of his office with an immigration executive order in 2014.
People (e.g., Chuck Schumer*) have been saying Trump has the power to solve the problem with an executive order, so if Trump attempts to do that, and he gets challenged, that will support his earlier position that he needs legislation and put more pressure on Congress to give him that legislation and undermine the argument that Trump has the power. He'll be better off politically.

But the Trump haters will regroup and hit him with new arguments. For example, right here in the NYT article:
While Mr. Trump’s actions appear to stop short of calls for an end to the “zero tolerance” policy, it would be a remarkable retreat for a president who has steadfastly refused to apologize in almost any other context. And it would be a testament to the political power of the images of the immigrant children to move public opinion.
It's "a remarkable retreat" for Trump. Also, images of children are powerful, so whatever their new situation is, it will be sub-optimal, and there will be new images reframing the story of the plight of the children.



"Do I look crazy? So far, you know, I still have all my senses, and I’m a heck of a lawyer. And I get drummed out of the profession if I did. I mean, the reality is, you don’t put your client in a kangaroo court."

Rudolph Giuliani, quoted in "'Kangaroo court': Giuliani says he would be crazy to let Trump be interviewed by Mueller’s team" (WaPo).

The Tuesday NYT crossword puzzle had a "trigger warning" theme with answers — like "bazooka bubblegum" — that began with guns, and the regular crossword-puzzle columnist at the NYT refused to blog it!

The crossword editor, Will Shortz, took over:
There was a behind-the-scenes discussion regarding Peter Gordon’s crossword, which is why I’m writing about it rather than Deb Amlen, the Wordplay editor.

She was so disenchanted with the puzzle’s gun theme — especially in this era of widespread violence — that she didn’t feel she could give it a fair write-up. [This is true. I believe that this puzzle will be upsetting to some people because of its timing, subject matter and revealer, and did not think I could be respectful or kind to it. So I thought that it would be better for you to hear from Will today. — D.A.]

I respect that, so I am writing today’s column, instead.

I liked the puzzle because of the freshness and simplicity of the idea and the elegance in the way it was done.... The revealer of TRIGGER / WARNING (26D/25D) — using this modern phrase in an unexpected way — was icing on the cake.

I added the photo for metaphorical zing. Back to Shortz (somebody stop me from saying "men in shorts"):
The puzzle’s subject of guns didn’t bother me. For better or worse, guns are part of American life. I have my own opinion about guns and their regulation, but as a general matter I try to keep my political views out of the puzzle.
Lots of things are part of American life but kept out of the NYT crossword because they're thought to be inconsistent with the escapist fun of doing the puzzle at breakfasttime. For example, defecation — also part of American life — is excluded.

I don't normally read the NYT puzzle column, though I always do the NYT crossword and I usually read Rex Parker's blog about it. It's via Rex that I ended up looking at Shortz, and the guns bothered Rex too (and before he saw Deb Amlen's resistance:
[G]uns, violence, yuck. This is a personal thing, but I don't really want to participate in crossword gunfests. Guns don't "tickle" me, I guess. Too much daily slaughter in this country for me to be able to enjoy cutesy gun-related wordplay.... But if I just pretend there's no theme, I actually like this grid pretty well, except for WANGLE, which is about the most off-putting word in the English language (67A: Accomplish schemingly). I really wanted WRANGLE there, as it's a good word, as opposed to WANGLE, which is like WIGGLE and DANGLE got together pretended to be a phallus. I mean, come on. It's got WANG right in the name.
An interesting train of thought, but the guns/phallus association is so common it's trite, except to the extent that it's funny, it's some serious analysis of the human tendency toward violence, or it's revelatory of why some people feel instinctive disgust about guns.

The Shortz column has an update:
The original photo on this column, which showed a man firing an automatic rifle at a firing range, was my choice, not Will’s. It was a misguided attempt to demonstrate that words are not just words, and pictures are not just pictures. I apologize for it, and have replaced the photo.
The replacement photograph is of an old man at a lectern, with the caption "English-Canadian musicologist Dr. Alan Walker lecturing on the music of Franz Liszt at the Mannes College of Music." That must seem to fit because the title of the column — and the clue for the answer "trigger warning" — is "Caution Before a Potentially Upsetting Lecture."

A misguided attempt to demonstrate that words are not just words, and pictures are not just pictures... I'm really not sure what that means. The explanation is itself misguided. What was Shortz Amlen attempting to do? Why would a picture of a gun demonstrate that a picture of a gun is not just a picture of a gun and that a word is not just a word? All I can think is — and thanks to the person* who made this image (which I was hoping would exist):

* The poster — based on the famous Magritte painting "The Treachery of Images" — seems to be by Dave Kinsey. I think you can buy it here.

"Calling the shots as his West Wing clears out, President Donald Trump sees his hard-line immigration stance as a winning issue heading into a midterm election he views as a referendum on his protectionist policies."

AP reports.
“You have to stand for something,” Trump declared Tuesday... While the White House signaled Trump may be open to a narrow fix to deal with the problem [of separating parents and children], the president spent the day stressing immigration policies that he has championed throughout his surprise political career...

“I think this is one of his best moments. I think this is a profile in courage. This is why America elected him,” [said former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon]. “This is not doubling down, it is tripling down.”...

Worried that the lack of progress on his signature border wall will make him look “soft,” according to one adviser, Trump has unleashed a series of tweets playing up the dangers posed by members of the MS-13 gang — which make up a minuscule percentage of those who cross the border. He used the loaded term “infest” to reference the influx of immigrants entering the country illegally....

"Man with a tattoo of a gun on his face charged with illegally possessing a gun."

USA Today reports. Here's the police photo:

ADDED: If you had to have a tattoo on your face, what would it be? And I mean a tattoo that large and conspicuous. So don't just make it very small or say you'd have tattooed eyeliner or your eyebrows "microbladed" or you'd wear long bangs to cover it up. Your only power is to pick the image. What is it? Not a gun! Let's say the image must be of a weapon. Still, a gun is just not graphically appealing or interesting. Even if you like guns, that tattoo is clunky and indistinct. A mess. If it had to be a weapon, I'd say: an arrow.

June 19, 2018

At the Little Library Café...


... have you been reading anything interesting?

Consider buying some books — or anything — at Amazon, through the Althouse Portal.

And when you're done, if you're in Madison, maybe you can find a "little free library" like this one, where you can leave a used book and take a book somebody else left.

"Congressman Trey Gowdy... does a beautiful job of tying together the now-familiar FBI text exchanges with the issues of bias..."

"...  the effect of that bias on the Clinton and Russia investigations, and the FBI’s total failure to investigate the 'intent' standard that it wrongly read into the Espionage Act."

"The number of Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits is plunging, a startling reversal of a decades-old trend that threatened the program’s solvency..."

The NYT reports.
Fewer than 1.5 million Americans applied to the Social Security Administration for disability coverage last year, the lowest since 2002. Applications are running at an even lower rate this year, government officials say.

All told, 8.63 million workers received disability benefits in May, down from a peak of 8.96 million in September 2014. A drop of several hundred thousand may not sound like much. But it is a sharp turnaround from what seemed to be an inexorable rise, in which the disability rolls more than doubled over the past 25 years. That increase led some conservative lawmakers to criticize the program as wasteful and riddled with fraud.

"Indiana trooper wins praise for stopping driver going too slow in left lane."

The Star Tribune reports on a popular tweet.

That's one of the "most read" stories at that news site, which is located in Minneapolis (not Indiana). I guess it's a "man bites dog" story.

"Yang [Bingyang] has developed a panoply of pseudoscientific theories that she claims are guaranteed secrets to success in the marriage market."

Writes Wang Qianning in "Ayawawa, Wang Ju, and China’s Confusing Female Role Models/Complex and contradictory images of women allow a hyper-conservative relationship guru to exist alongside an empowered, independent pop" at Sixth Tone.
Most of her advice equates happy marriages with material comfort.... Yang advises women to dress and act conservatively so that their male partners don’t feel insecure or threatened by perceived public displays of sexuality. She also says that women should not aspire toward conventionally attractive husbands... She encourages women to find themselves a man who will buy them a home and spend money on them. In her world, a man’s wealth and drive outweigh the need for him to be attractive and kind....

Yang is so influential in China because she has exploited the shallow opportunism of the country’s marriage culture.... Yang’s adherents argue for a hyper-practical view of marriage built around transactional relationships between husbands and wives. But they are not representative of Chinese society as a whole...

During the most recent season of the online girl group show 'Produce 101,' a 25-year-old contestant named Wang Ju became the poster girl for this emergent movement.... On a recent episode of 'Produce 101,' Wang made an impassioned speech in favor of female independence. Meanwhile, several old photos of her appeared on the screen, showing how she used to look. The long hair, white skin, slender frame, and a fresh-faced, wholesome appearance were every inch the romantic ideals of most Chinese men. In her monologue, Wang said that despite the fact that she now looks 'unconventional' by Chinese beauty standards, she loves herself more the way she is now....

As Wang sang in a recent rap, riffing on another female icon, Beyoncé: 'You don’t have to put a ring on me, I can buy my own.'"

"An emergency room doctor in California has been suspended after she was caught on video mocking and cursing a patient who said he had an anxiety attack."

"The doctor, identified by the San Jose Mercury News as Beth Keegstra, was recorded on June 11 while questioning the behavior of 20-year-old Samuel Bardwell. 'I'm sorry, sir, you were the least sick of all the people who are here, who are dying,' she can be heard saying in a video that has been viewed more than 4 million times.... At one point Bardwell, a 6-foot-9 basketball player, complained to the doctor at El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos that he could not inhale. It was at this point that Keegstra said, 'He can't inhale! Wow! He must be dead. Are you dead, Sir? I don't understand, you are breathing just fine.' The doctor asked if the patient wanted narcotics... Near the end of the conversation, the doctor tells the patient, 'You have changed your story the whole f-----g time.'"

The Daily News reports (with video of the doctor's interaction with the patient).

ADDED:  Years ago, I was in an emergency room in New York City, waiting to have a large embroidery needle removed from my foot. (I'd stepped barefoot on exactly the wrong spot on a crack in an old wood floor causing a needle that was lying there to spring up and go completely into my foot.) In the next bed, behind a curtain, was a woman who'd taken something in an effort to kill herself. She was yelling dramatically at the doctors, "Go! Go help someone who wants to live!"

The top-rated comment on a column titled "Harvard can’t have it all" (about the lawsuit charging discrimination against Asian-American applicants).

Sorry to link to WaPo one more time. I know you probably don't want to go there and read it and don't have a subscription, but I wanted you to see this comment:
What people don't realize is schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford don't select students for admission, they curate. My brother was on the admissions committee at Yale. A student with a 4.00 and 1600 SATs was no big deal, but a student who won the oboe competition in her state and had a 3.8 and 1530 was. My wife graduated summa cum laude from Yale, I graduated from Emory with no honors. She's no smarter than me and we're equally successful in our chosen fields. People get so upset about perceptions of status.
That's challenged by someone who calls himself mendacityofhope: "I wonder if she believes you are as smart as she is?"

The first commenter comes back and says: "She be the first tell you that while she is far better read than I, she doesn't hold a candle to me in terms of practical knowledge. There are many kinds of intelligence." Ha ha. Classic answer — street smarts and different kinds of intelligence.

Mendacityofhope snarks back: "So true! You are correct about the curating thing too. Applicants are specimens in a grand butterfly collection."

By the way, there are 50 states and — what? — at least 20 different instruments in an orchestra, so that's a thousand big-deal applicants just on the level of that street-smart guy's hypothetical oboe girl. I love when bullshit is so obvious.

And — ironically — when you picture those thousand competition-winning orchestra kids, what ethnicity are you picturing? I'll bet classical music virtuosity counts for very little in the Ivy League admission process because it would help Asian American applicants. Or does it help a lot when you are not Asian-America but not at all when you are?

"Trump defiant as crisis grows over family separation at the border."

That's the headline at The Washington Post, with this video of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen vigorously defending Trump's policy:

From the article:
The president on Monday voiced defiance and continued to falsely blame congressional Democrats for what he decried as a “horrible and tough” situation. But Trump is empowered to immediately order border agents to stop separating families as a result of his “zero tolerance” enforcement policy.
The insertion of the word "falsely" is such a distracting signal that WaPo doesn't want to be looked upon as neutrally professional journalism. If what Trump is saying is wrong for some reason, that should be brought out, with factual statements, somewhere else in the story. I also don't like "voiced defiant" (or, from the headline, "Trump defiant"). For one thing, it purports to know his state of mind. For another, it refers to something that he's defying before setting up what that is. We're dropped into the middle of things, and Trump is all emotional and spouting lies. I feel like I'm reading a pulp fiction novel.
The president asserted that the parents illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with their children “could be murderers and thieves and so much else,” echoing his incendiary remarks about immigrants at his campaign launch in 2015. And in a series of dark tweets, he warned that undocumented immigrants could increase gang crime and usher in cultural changes.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said in a midday speech. “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places. We can’t allow that to happen to the United States. Not on my watch.”
So he's doing more of the kind of talk that won him the election in 2016. What makes Democrats in politics and the media believe it will work out differently this time? Big bets are being made on which high-emotion scenario will capture the hearts of voting Americans. I wish this were not forefronted as the issue for 2018. Whatever happened to the IG's report or North Korea or — for that matter — Russia collusion and impeachment?
The crisis garnered round-the-clock television news coverage, with journalists reporting about their first glimpses of the ­concrete-floor and metal-cage conditions inside the detention centers.
So no human beings were making the decision to devote round-the-clock coverage of this issue. The "crisis" did the acting. The abstraction — there's that bullshit wordgarnered the coverage.
Nielsen acknowledged that she was not keeping pace with coverage of the crisis, including audio of wailing children published a few hours earlier by ProPublica....
As if her job is to monitor the media, and how to enforce the law should be determined by what video has been chosen to run on television. Nielsen should have her own accurate sources and should work on performing her duties, not spend her time consuming journalism/propaganda and continually modify what she is doing in response to the imagined mood of the country. The test will come when the elections arrive, more than 4 months from now. Will crying, "caged" children fill our TV screens that long?
Trump has been closely monitoring the coverage...
Yeah, Trump, who we've been told spends too much time watching television.
... but has been suspicious of it...
LOL. That's what he does.  Watches TV suspiciously. If you're going to watch the news on TV — a horrible practice (I can't stand it) — that's what you should do, watch suspiciously.
... telling associates he believes that the media cherry-picks the most dramatic images and stories to portray his administration in a negative light, according to one senior administration official.
Well, of course. What competent watcher of television would not conclude that the images are cherry-picked for drama? As for negativity to the Trump administration, can you be a competent TV watcher and believe the concern here really is purely for the welfare of children?
Meanwhile, Trump and his advisers were unable to stanch the wellspring of public opposition. 
I'm skeptical of the phrase "wellspring of public opposition." There are surveys — the article refers to a CNN poll and a Quinnipiac poll showing 67/68% of Americans disapprove of separating children from parents — but I suspect that millions of Americans want what they voted for in 2016, which is strong immigration enforcement, and these people may not want to talk about the innocents who get hurt along the way and they may embrace the idea (that Nielsen stated clearly) that the children are being hurt by the adults who are taking them on a dangerous, criminal journey or suspect that many of these children are not so young and are already involved in gang violence and will bring more of that violence into the United States. What about that wellspring of public sentiment?

By the way, "stanch the wellspring" is a mixed metaphor. "To stanch" is to stop the flow of blood or other fluid from a wound in a living body. A "wellspring" is the source of a river emerging from the ground. These are emotive, colorful words, but they have concrete meaning and they're being used in a way that makes no sense.*
Some Republican elected officials joined Democrats in expressing moral outrage and calling for an immediate end to the administration’s family separation policy.
Are these people saying that what they want is that the adults who arrive with children and make a claim for asylum should — as before — gain free access to the United States? Or do they just express their "moral outrage" and leave it there?

* And — one more time — I've got to remind you of what George Orwell said about dying metaphors:
Dying metaphors. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying.

"Complaining the federal government has been 'thwarted' in its attempt to enforce immigration laws..."

"... Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene Monday in his feud with Chicago over so-called sanctuary city policies. Sessions wants the high court to limit to Chicago a nationwide injunction blocking him from applying new conditions to grant money as he tries to force cities to cooperate with immigration authorities. But in a 41-page application to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco also framed the case as a larger fight over the use of sweeping, 'categorical' orders from district courts. He argued the high court should 'address the propriety of enjoining a federal immigration policy everywhere at the behest of one litigant.' U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber handed down the injunction in the Chicago case last September. Sessions has also tried, without success, to persuade the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to limit the injunction to the city...."

The Chicago Sun-Times reports.

June 18, 2018

At the Other Peony Café...


... keep blooming.

And keep using the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can find many of the nice things you need.

"The plaintiffs argue that their legal injury is not limited to the injury that they have suffered as individual voters, but extends also to the statewide harm to their interest 'in their collective representation in the legislature'..."

"... and in influencing the legislature’s overall 'composition and policymaking.'... But our cases to date have not found that this presents an individual and personal injury of the kind required for Article III stand­ing. On the facts of this case, the plaintiffs may not rely on 'the kind of undifferentiated, generalized grievance about the conduct of government that we have refused to countenance in the past.'... A citizen’s interest in the overall composition of the legisla­ture is embodied in his right to vote for his representative. And the citizen’s abstract interest in policies adopted by the legislature on the facts here is a nonjusticiable 'gen­eral interest common to all members of the public.'... [Professor] Whitford’s testimony does not support any claim of packing or cracking of him­self as a voter [in his district in Madison, Wisconsin].... His testimony points merely to his hope of achiev­ing a Democratic majority in the legislature—what the plaintiffs describe here as their shared interest in the composition of 'the legislature as a whole.'  Under our cases to date, that is a collective political interest, not an individual legal interest...."

From the Supreme Court's opinion today in Gill v. Whitford, finding no standing to challenge the alleged partisan gerrymandering here in Wisconsin.

You may remember that there was much talk of something called the "efficiency gap," a new way to calculate and give definition to the asserted constitutional wrong. (I blogged about it here, here, and here. ) The Court said:

"F--- you, Melanie. You know damn well your husband can end this immediately...you feckless complicit piece of s---."

Tweeted Kathy Griffin, in response to a message from Melania Trump's office that said "Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families & hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws but also a country that governs w/heart."

Interesting that she wrote out "fuck" and "shit" but merely gestured at "cunt" by writing "feckless."

ADDED, without comment:

Live-blogging the Supreme Court.

At SCOTUSblog this morning, beginning in 20 minutes. Maybe the gerrymandering case today? It's the oldest case we're still waiting for, and SCOTUSblog calculates that the opinion is being written by the Chief Justice.

UPDATE: 3 boxes of cases. The first 2 from Sotomayor and Breyer are about sentencing guidelines. The 3rd case, is written by Kennedy — as the cases are announced from the most junior Justice to the most senior, meaning only the Chief remains — is Lozman v. Riviera Beach:
In 2006, Fane Lozman was arrested when he got up to speak at a city council meeting. He filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, arguing that his arrest was retaliation for activities protected by the First Amendment – specifically, filing a lawsuit against the city and his criticism of city officials. A federal appeals court ruled against him, holding that he could not win on his retaliatory arrest claim because there was probable cause for police to arrest him.
Only Thomas dissents. Here's the PDF of the opinion:
Held: The existence of probable cause does not bar Lozman’s First Amendment retaliation claim under the circumstances of this case. Pp. 5–13.

(a) The issue here is narrow. Lozman concedes that there was probable cause for his arrest. Nonetheless, he claims, the arrest violated the First Amendment because it was ordered in retaliation for his earlier, protected speech: his open-meetings lawsuit and his prior public criticisms of city officials. Pp. 5–6....
UPDATE 2: The gerrymandering case is out. Whitford (my colleague) loses: No Article III standing. Opinion here. Will make new post.

AND: There are no dissents in Gill v. Whitford.
ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined, and in which THOMAS and GORSUCH, JJ., joined except as to Part III. KAGAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which GORSUCH, J., joined.
ALSO: The separate post on Gill v. Whitford is here.

3 years ago, Trump announced that he was running for President, and, oh, how the media mocked him.

He was manifestly a joke. He could never become President. The question was only how much chaos and hilarity he could inject into the process before the serious candidates had the stage to themselves.

Via "FLASHBACK: Three Years Ago Today – Donald Announced His Historic Run for President — WATCH HOW MEDIA MOCKED HIM" (Gateway Pundit, June 16th), via Drudge.

My attitude was just about exactly what you see in that video except that I believed in ignoring him (because, don't encourage him). My post noting the occasion was just a collection 5 anagrams of the name I would not say, and the only tag was "nothing," which I used in the sense of muttering an obscenity.

But over the 3 years, my attitude has changed. I'm thinking of mining my archive to write a book with the title "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Donald Trump." Seriously, that's my title. I'll self-publish on Kindle Direct if I can make that happen. Consider encouraging me. Or not.

"Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support...."

A text from Peter Strzok, dated August 26, 2016. From a list of "text messages of a political nature commenting on Trump and Clinton" by Strzok and Lisa Page quoted in the IG report at pages 399-400.

February 12, 2016, Page: “I’m no prude, but I’m really appalled by this. So you don’t have to go looking (in case you hadn’t heard), Trump called him the p-word. The man has no dignity or class. He simply cannot be president. With a Slur for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump Further Splits Voters http://nyti.ms/1XoICkO.”
She's no prude, but she can't write the word "pussy" in a text to her paramour? She had to write "p-word." And:
March 3, 2016, Page: “Also did you hear [Trump] make a comment about the size of his d*ck earlier? This man cannot be president.”
She can't write out "dick" in a text to her dick-having sexual partner?!
March 12, 2016: Page forwarded an article about a “far right” candidate in Texas, stating, “[W]hat the f is wrong with people?”...
Oh, for fuck's sake.
July 18, 2016, Page: “...Donald Trump is an enormous d*uche.”
But enough about Page. I want to talk about Strzok and his detection of odor among the deplorable people who shop at Walmart... in southern Virginia.

"For perspective, let’s flip the script. Would you believe that answer if it came from Tiger Woods?"

"Mickelson insisted he had not acted in haste or irritation. Instead, he said, he knew that the penalty for striking a moving ball was two strokes, and he had quickly determined that was a better result than letting his wayward putt roll off the green into worse shape. (There is a separate rule for stopping or deflecting a moving ball that could have led to a disqualification, but officials determined that Mickelson had violated the rule for striking a moving ball, not the one for stopping or deflecting one.) 'I’ve thought about doing the same thing many times in my career,' Mickelson said about striking rather than stopping his moving ball. 'I just did it this time. It was something I did to take advantage of the rules as best I can.'"

From "What Was Phil Mickelson Thinking?" by Bill Pennington (NYT) about this bizarre golfing:

Quite aside from what you think about that bizarre golfing, what do you think of the "perspective" supposedly to be gained by asking what we'd think if it was Tiger Woods? Is that supposed to be some sort of racial analysis, like that if you believe Phil Mickelson, you're a carrier of the infection of white privilege?

This is the third NYT article I'm blogging this morning, and the first 2 are about race. Maybe my thinking is skewed to see race everywhere — because, you know, it's deeply complex, historically layered, powerful, and submerged.

"My dissertation chairman was Richard Brandt. Once after I had earned the doctorate and was meeting with him, he stood over me, lifted my chin toward him..."

"... and remarked that I looked like a maid his family once employed. Around the same time, early in the Ronald Reagan administration, an effort was made to rid Washington of the sex trade and shops that flourished along the 14th Street corridor a few blocks from the White House. I worked in nearby McPherson Square at the National Endowment for the Humanities and, as a volunteer at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. One day I was walking near my office with a white male friend, a philosopher at an Ivy League university. We were stopped by the police, who profiled us as a hooker and john. I had to answer questions and show ID."

From "The Pain and Promise of Black Women in Philosophy" (an interview with Anita L. Allen) (NYT).

"The backlash that forced ABC to cancel Ms. Barr’s television series reflects a distaste for passé, plainly stated racism..."

"... in a society that likes to see itself as having put bigotry behind it. Nevertheless, centuries of institutional racism — and the dehumanization of black people upon which it relied — have left an indelible imprint on how Americans process blackness. The notion that the country might somehow move past this deeply complex, historically layered issue by assuming an attitude of 'color blindness' is naïve. The only real hope of doing that is to openly confront and talk about the powerful, but submerged, forms of discrimination that have long since supplanted the undisguised version."

The last lines "The Racist Trope That Won’t Die" by Brent Staples (NYT). The trope under discussion is the likening of black people to apes. The column went up yesterday, the day we were watching the new video "Apeshit," in which Jay-Z calls himself a gorilla. The line is "I'm a gorilla." Unfortunately, Staples didn't incorporate that complexity, and he's left saying things like "The toxically racist ape characterization has been pushed to the margins of the public square." Jay-Z isn't on the margins!

The other problem with Staples is that he ends up with the age-old prescription, the conversation about race. He calls that the "only real hope." Why is it the only real hope? Is there no hope at all in creating a powerful social etiquette of never saying anything that is regarded as racist and waiting until the population is replaced by people who don't think racist things (or who only think them in vague, innocuous ways)? Is there no hope in the forthright, vigorous reclaiming of race in the Jay-Z manner?  Who gets to say where the "only real hope" lies? Maybe the idea that what we really need is a conversation about race is itself a racial trope that won't die.

But, look, here I am, doing conversation about race. Probably not the right kind, and I expect that if Staples were to notice this, he'd tell me I'm doing it wrong.

And that's one problem with the conversation prescription. It's not a freewheeling, endlessly flowing, back-and-forth kind of conversation. It's a conversation that needs to go the right way, and that can get you into bad trouble if you do it wrong, and that often seems to be a demand that somebody sit still and take a harsh lecture.

So it may be might be naïve to think that "assuming an attitude of 'color blindness'" could easily work, but it's also naïve to think that "this deeply complex, historically layered issue" can be processed through that precious human interaction we call conversation.

June 17, 2018

At the Peony Café...


... bloom.

(And maybe shop Amazon (through the Althouse Portal)).

Garish hyperbole.

On Twitter today:

I like the Scott Adams riposte... or do you think it's in bad taste (in the Era of That's Not Funny)?

ADDED: By the way, it's Father's Day. What's with mothers and children? Are no children ripped away from fathers or is that just not visualizable as tragic and traumatic?

And as long as we're looking closely at the sex of the parents and children, "Where Are The Girls Being Detained By The Trump Administration?"
I've poured [sic] over these reports. I've scoured the photos. I've looked at every publication and every news outlets reporting. Not. One. Covers. Girls. Being. Detained.

Where are the girls?

Mark Sanford was living a lie, in the chapter of his life when he imploded, so he has a unique vantage point on Trump and his lies.

I wasn't going to turn on the Sunday shows today, but I did. You can see in the previous post that I watched "State of the Union." I blogged the discussion of the Bob Corker observation that "It's becoming a cultish thing, isn't it? It's not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be purportedly of the same party."

I also watched "Meet the Press," and I'd scribbled a note for what I wanted to blog from the transcript, and I'm surprised to see that this too is something that began with that Corker quote. The host, Chuck Todd, was talking to Congressman (and former Governor) Mark Sanford, who tried to get the GOP nomination for South Carolina Senator, but lost out to someone who, unlike him, supported Trump.

Todd asked Sanford if he'd use the word "cult" to describe what has happened to the GOP, and Sanford said:
I wouldn't go so far as cult, but I would just say that, from an electoral sense, people are running for cover because they don't want to be on the losing side of a presidential tweet.... And from a popular standpoint, it's almost a Faustian bargain. I'll pander to you if you pander to me.... And that exchange is very dangerous really, with regard to, again, what the Founding Fathers set up, which is a system designed to garner debate and dissent. 
Garner! I exclaimed the word out loud.
The idea that you can't speak out and say, "I disagree with you here but I agree with you on 90% of the stuff"... is, again, a twilight world that I've never seen.
Huh? You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight World!

Todd pushed Sanford to talk about the way "that literally the president can just say whatever he wants, fact free, mischaracterized." And Sanford said:
That's a larger commentary on society and where we are. But because we've gone from George Washington, "I can't tell a lie by cutting down the apple tree"...
Apple tree?!!
... to they've become so replete that nobody even questions him anymore. And that's, again, a dangerous spot to be in a reason-based republic. I have a unique vantage point on this front.
Yeah! He's famously a liar!
We all know the story of 2009 and my implosion.
A lie was told on my half -- behalf, which means I own it. 
We paused after he said "half" and laughed a lot. Then when we got to "behalf," we were puzzled. What? Did someone else lie for him and it's big of him to take responsibility?
More to the point, I was living a lie in that chapter of life.
Yeah, get to the point. You were a liar. Living a lie. Chapter of life. Implosion. A lie was told on my half. Ludicrous! We were laughing here at Meadhouse.
But there were incredible consequences..... Financially, politically, socially, I lost my -- I can go down a long list. A long list. And so maybe the reason I'm so outspoken on this now is there is no seeming consequence to the president and lies. 
He's envious! How does Trump get away with all his lies? (It's like the sexual harassment conundrum: Why did Al Franken need to resign, why did all those Democrats crash and burn, and Trump gets to be President?)
And if we accept that as a society, it is going to have incredibly harmful consequences in the way that we operate going forward, based on the construct of the Founding Fathers.
Consequences, consequences. If the liar doesn't get consequences, there will be consequences for all of us, going forward. Ask the Founding Fathers.

"Number one, the camera of history is rolling. And it is on videotape now. And we will be able to see exactly what history is showing here."

Said Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) on Jake Tapper's "State of the Union" this morning (transcript here). It's all on videotape now. That amused me.

What was the topic? Oh, the panel was invited to talk about Senator Corker's statement "We are in a strange place. It's almost, it's becoming a cultish thing, isn't it? It's not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president." (We talked about that a few days ago on the blog, here.)

Jake Tapper was so into Corker's idea that he teased it before the commercial by saying, "Everyone, stick around. We're going to take a very quick break. Look into my eyes. What do you see? I'm the cult of personality."

I wonder what percentage of Tapper's audience just thought he was being pretty weird as opposed to realized he was saying some lines from this old song:

Lyrics printed and annotated here. The lines that follow the ones Tapper quoted are: "I know your anger, I know your dreams/I've been everything you wanna be ohhh/I'm the cult of personality/Like Mussolini and Kennedy/I'm the cult of personality." Kennedy! Also mentioned in the song are Stalin and Gandhi.

Anyway, Rick Santorum was also on the panel, and he said: "I would just say any president has a cult-like following within -- to say Barack Obama didn't have a cult-like following. He had absolutely a cult-like following --" Then he got cut off by Jennifer Granholm, who interrupted him and invaded his space like mad. (That lady is on fire. Earlier, talking about separating migrant parents and children, she said — with big passionate gestures — "You could drive nails through my hands. You could whip me on my back but do not take my children away.")

Meeks followed Santorum's effort to include Barack Obama in the idea that there's a "cultish thing" around a President:
MEEKS: Number one, the camera of history is rolling. And it is on videotape now. And we will be able to see exactly what history is showing here. Barack Obama when he was president, there were Democrats that did not agree with some of the things that he said. For example, TPP, they spoke out about it. They didn't reel it in. Even (INAUDIBLE) to immigration. There were members of Congress, Democrats who said -- and pushed it more on DACA, to create DACA.... But the Republicans here is yielding everything and the Republican Party no longer exists. It is the Trump party. We are losing our values. And when we took our oath of office it wasn't to a president. It was to a country. We are on a dangerous —
Obviously, there are Republicans who don't agree with some of the things Trump says. What's the real distinction here? Shouldn't a party reshape around a President if the President's any good? What compliment is it to Obama to say he didn't recreate the Democratic Party?

"When they gas the young ones, they literally cry out and squawk for their parents. The adult geese are slaughtered."

"It’s horrific. When they call it a goose roundup it doesn’t sound so bad. But what they are doing is cruel and unnecessary.... I get it. People who use the parks don’t want goose poop everywhere. But I don’t think those people are saying, ‘Hey. Let’s kill the geese.' We can deal with the problems geese create this year and then take more preventive steps next year to ensure no geese have to be killed. My organization is willing to help out. I’m confident lots of other people will, too. I just want to do the right thing."

Said Mary Telfer, executive director of Alliance for Animals, quoted in "Madison moving forward with annual geese kill/Goslings found in city parks are gassed; adults are slaughtered" (Isthmus).

"Grandma strangles rabid bobcat with her bare hands."

ANY Post headline. The "Grandma" is a 46-year-old woman, DeDe Phillips. She was taking a photo of the animal when it "took two steps and was on top of me . . . it came for my face."
“I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat... Once I got him where he wasn’t moving I started screaming for my daughter-in-law to call 911,” she said....

“They go for your jugular . . . when they can get the vein you’re dead in a couple of minutes,” she said, noting she was careful not to yell until the cat was subdued, because she didn’t want her 5-year-old granddaughter to come outside.

Phillips refused to release the beast until her son showed up and stabbed the animal “four or five times.”

“It never budged, so I knew it was completely dead,” she said.

Whatever happened to the sweet comedians?

I ask the internet, a propos of a conversation in last night's "Deep Purple Café," which had a photograph of some lush purple flowers. Xmas said:
I'm surprised they are still selling purple lupines. I thought you were far enough East that they'd be considered invasive.
And I said:
These are not lupines. I am certain they are salvia because I have another picture of the same set of plants where the label, a sticker on the pot, is clearly readable. These are May Night Salvia. The 2 plants are completely different, not even the same order. Salvia are Lamiales, which include 23,810 species, including (Wikipedia says) "lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, the ash tree, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, and a number of table herbs such as mint, basil, and rosemary." Lupines are Fabales, which include "the families Fabaceae or legumes (including the subfamilies Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae, and Faboideae), Quillajaceae, Polygalaceae or milkworts (including the families Diclidantheraceae, Moutabeaceae, and Xanthophyllaceae), and Surianaceae."

Lupines are in the family Fabaceae or Leguminosae — "commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family..."
Blah blah blah... I had to reverse that line of Wikipedia-powered blather:
I'm just cutting and pasting from Wikipedia and not showing off my own knowledge. I had to look it all up. If you'd have told me, 10 minutes ago, that salvia and lupine were 2 words for the same plant, you could have fooled me.
rhhardin reacted aptly:
Furze and gorse are the only two exact synonyms in English.
And I said:
I'd like a comedy team named Furze and Gorse.
And then I started thinking of all the comedy teams that were around in the 1960s. There was a sweetness to them. Who was I thinking of? Allen & Rossi?

That's a random men-in-shorts occurrence. Anyway, back then, the audience laughed easily at Marty simply saying "Hello dere."

The second sweet comedy team I think of is Shields & Yarnell:

That was back when we loved mime. Mimes were so sweet. And Sonny and Cher were a pretty sweet comedy team too. But where is the sweetness now?

The internet returned this 2017 NYT article, "Sick of Angry Comics? Try Some Sweet-Tempered Stand-Up":
Comedy clubs have long been packed with head-shakers airing grievances and heatedly picking apart nonsense. But [Josie] Long is part of a new breed of young performers more likely to begin a joke with affection than annoyance and to end with ridiculousness, not ridicule. This sunnier stand-up is in part a function of the times, when social media keeps count of likes and favorites, and late-night television is a chummy safe space for celebrities. But the hopefulness is also a refreshing artistic change of pace, a backlash against generations of smug finger-pointing and knowing raised eyebrows. When irritation becomes so common, good cheer can be novel, if not downright irreverent....
Is there a nascent sweetness trend in comedy? If so, can we also get a sweetness trend in politics? I'm sick of all the anger there too.

Walking at sunrise (because I don't want to walk when it's hot).

I had a nice 2-mile walk after putting up that first post of the day. It's going to get up in the 90s and I don't even like it when it's in the 80s. The solution is to be up and out early. Today, I got a low-70s walk, which was just fine. Only slightly hot for my taste, but good enough. We had a massive rainstorm the night before last, and there were some big branches down in our neighborhood.


... and some giant pools of standing water...


Some fascinating photography and dance at the Louvre...

... in this new Beyonce and Jay-Z video, which is called "Apeshit":

There's lots of "Mona Lisa" in that video, but there's other Louvre art shown very well. Watch for "The Coronation of Napoleon" (beginning at 1:37 and then at 4:01). And the "Winged Victory of Samothrace" and the museum's beautiful staircase make a stage set for lots of interesting dancing.

I've got nothing to say about the music, because I don't listen to this kind of music enough to be able to hear it, let alone have an opinion, but I'm extremely interested in the use of artwork — the long views, the closeups, the combination with dancers.

I can hear some of the words, and they seem to be just expressing gratitude about having become rich and famous. The title — which had me thinking about Roseanne's recent ape-related screwup — seems to be simply a reference to the enthusiasm of Beyonce and Jay-Z's fans — "Have you ever seen a crowd going apeshit?"

Let me look up the lyrics and read them. Here. I see there's something about pay equity:
Rah, gimme my check
Put some respeck on my check
Or pay me in equity, pay me in equity
Or watch me reverse out the dick (skrrt)
The annotation explains that last line as "a simple threat: she’ll leave projects and especially men that are cutting her a less-than-satisfactory check for her work."
He wanna go with me (go with me)
He like to roll the weed (roll with me)
He wanna be with me (be with me)
He wanna give me that vitamin D (D!)
I did not need to click on the annotation or use Urban Dictionary to understand the term "vitamin D."

When Jay-Z finally gets his closeup, he begins:
I'm a gorilla in the fuckin' coop
Finna pull up in the zoo
I'm like Chief Keef meet Rafiki
Who been Lion King to you
Pocket watch it like kangaroos
Tell these clowns we ain't amused
Banana clips for that monkey business...
Last night was a fuckin' zoo
Stagedivin' in a pool of people
Ran through Liverpool like a fuckin' Beatle
Smoke gorilla glue like it's fuckin' legal....
All that "ape" and "gorilla" business seems like an invitation to white people to Roseanne ourselves. According to the annotation at the lyrics link:
Jay directly quotes rapper, Chief Keef’s “Faneto”, the first of many animal references he makes throughout this verse.

I’m a gorilla in a fuckin' coupe, finna pull up to the zoo...

“Gorilla” is a racial slur directed towards black people who are perceived by some to be primitive or ape-like. Jay embraces this word proudly and uses it as a sense of empowerment.

“Coupe” or “Coop” are interchangeable. The latter continues Jay’s animalistic theme, saying he is a Gorilla among chickens.
ADDED: This is missing all the art, but musically, it's so much more my style (from 1970):

The lyrics are as fresh as ever:
I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized
'Cause I'm a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an ape man
We had crazy politicians and a threat of nuclear war back in 1970s. That's not just some new thing cooked up for you kids today.

June 16, 2018

At the Deep Purple Café...


... have your Saturday night conversation.

And here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

I'm finding my own little entry points into the IG report, and what's calling to me now is that damned phrase "Viva le resistance."

The IG report describes an instant message exchange on November 22, 2016. FBI Attorney 1 — referring to how much some subject of the FBI investigation got paid working for the Trump campaign — said "Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?"

And FBI Attorney 2 said “Hell no” and “Viva le resistance.”

If that's supposed to be French, the word is "vive" not "viva," and "resistance" should have the feminine article, "la," not "le." If it's Spanish, "viva" is fine, there's no "le" in Spanish, "resistance" is not the Spanish word, and it's still feminine, so "la" would be the proper article. I'm seeing "Viva le resistance" repeated a lot — like here, at Instapundit — and I'm getting tired of looking at something so formally ignorant.

But as long as I'm moved to make that formal critique, I'll look at the substance (pages 415 to 424).

FBI Attorney 2 was asked what he meant by that "Viva le resistance," and he said:
So, this is in reference to an ongoing subject. And then following that, like I interpreted [FBI Attorney 1’s] comment to me as being, you know, just her and I [sic] socially and as friends discussing our particular political views, to which I see that as more of a joking inquiry from her. It’s not something along the lines of where I’m not committed to the U.S. Government. I obviously am and, you know, work to do my job very well and to continue to, to work in that capacity. It’s just the, the lines bled through here just in terms of, of my personal, political view in terms of, of what particular preference I have. But, but that doesn’t have any, any leaning on the way that I, I maintain myself as a professional in the FBI.
Obviously, he's just asserting what he must (and what the Executive Summary will also assert) that he has political opinions but they don't bleed into his work because he is a professional.

The IG "asked FBI Attorney 2 if 'Viva le resistance' signaled he was going to fight back against President Trump" and he said:
That’s not what I was doing.... I just, again, like that, that’s just like the entire, it’s just my political view in terms of, of my preference. It wasn’t something along the lines of, you know, we’re taking certain actions in order to, you know, combat that or, or do anything like that. Like that, that was not the intent of that. That was more or less just like, you know, commentary between me and [FBI Attorney 1] in a personal friendship capacity where she is just making a joke, and I’m responding. Like, it’s not something that, that I personally believe in that instance.
That's a repetition of the same idea. Personal opinions and professional work are kept separate. It really is a convention to believe that people can do that. You can be cynical or skeptical or just plain realistic and think that's not how human minds function, but it's a fiction we actually do need to believe in (at least up to a point) if we are going to put human beings in a position of trust.

The IG said that it showed "extremely poor judgment and a gross lack of professionalism" to use the FBI's systems and devices to send these messages, because "It is essential that the public have confidence that the work of the FBI is done without bias or appearance of partiality, and that those engaged in it follow the facts and law wherever they may lead and without any agenda or desired result other than to see that justice is done."

Perhaps in the interest in maintaining what is "essential," the IG "found no documentary or testimonial evidence directly connecting the political views these employees expressed in their text messages and instant messages to the specific Midyear investigative decisions." I notice the words "directly" and "no documentary or testimonial evidence." You can read the report yourself and see the basis for inference and suspicion, but you're on your own. There's plenty of evidence that does shake our confidence that the FBI does its work without bias and without any agenda or desired result. But — the IG encourages us to think — it's also possible to maintain your confidence, so why don't you do that? Because your confidence is essential!

Jeff Sessions is making us talk about what the Bible says.

I'm reading "Sessions says the Bible justifies separating immigrant families. The verses he cited are infamous" by Kyle Swenson in The Washington Post. Asked to defend the separation of children from parents taking them illegally across the U.S. border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes... Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”
Swenson observes:
The passage — “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” — has been read as an unequivocal order for Christians to obey state authority, a reading that not only justified Southern slavery but also authoritarian rule in Nazi Germany and South African apartheid.
And what about other things in the New Testament? Stephen Colbert joked darkly:
“Hey, don’t bring God into this. I don’t think God picked you, because I don’t worship Vladimir Putin... Jesus said, ‘Suffer the children to come unto me.’ But I’m pretty sure all Sessions saw was the words ‘children’ and ‘suffer’ and said, ‘I’m on it.’ ”
Swenson collects other pro-immigrant Christian responses
“I guess Sessions forgot about the Gospels part of the Bible. Matthew 25:35 says ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,’ ” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said on Twitter. “Nothing in the Bible says to separate kids from parents. It teaches the opposite.”...

Theology scholar Mike Frost wrote in 2016 that Romans 13 should not be used to quell dissent because it comes from a period when Christians faced persecution from the Roman Emperor Nero.

“This is the guy who was said to have had Christians dipped in oil and set on fire to light his garden at night,” Frost wrote. “It makes perfect sense that Paul would commend the fledgling church to keep its head down, to avoid rocking the boat, to submit quietly to the prevailing political winds. They had no choice. They lived under the authority of a dictator.”
Quite aside from what the Bible says, should the Attorney General be using the Bible to defend a government policy? One might answer yes, because the policy was challenged morally, and even though it is theoretically possible to discuss morality without religion and some people can only discuss morality without religion, for many people morality is bound up with religion, and it should be at least permissible to discuss the morality of a public policy in terms of religion. There are consequences to using religion this way, though, of course. It may feel exclusionary to those who don't share the religion or who have a religious problem with interpreting scripture for a political purpose. And if you've got a passage for your position, then I'll have a passage for mine, and I can reinterpret yours and you can reinterpret mine, and we may find ourselves making garbage out of what we were only using in the first place because we posed as believing it was holy.

By the way, we all feel bad for the children, but I'm seeing a spotlight on the point when the children are removed from parents who are being sent to prison. If the separation is wrong, what is the less wrong thing that ought to be done instead?  I'm not seeing anyone talking about that. Am I missing everything that answers my question or are there reasons why no one wants to talk about that?

ADDED: At National Review, Rich Lowry explains the limitation imposed by the Flores Consent Decree (from 1997):
It says that unaccompanied children can be held only 20 days. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit extended this 20-day limit to children who come as part of family units. So even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so.

"And I remember at that point saying, well, you know, thank you very much kind of thing, and he sort of continued chatting and, and said, and made a comment about his travels he was headed on."

"And I said, well, we’ve got to get going to the hotel. And I said I’m sure you’ve got somewhere to, to go. And he said yes. And I forget where he told me he was going. He was flying somewhere, but...I’ve forgotten where. He said I’m going to wherever I’m off to. And then he made some comment about West Virginia. And I do not know if he was headed to West Virginia. I just don’t know...if that was the reference to it. And he made a...comment about West Virginia and coal issues and how their problems really stem from policies that were set forth in 1932. And he talked about those policies for a while. And, and I said, okay, well."

I have read part of the IG's report. I read pages 202 to 211, about Bill Clinton's weird, extended intrusion onto Loretta Lynch on the tarmac in Phoenix on June 27, 2018. Could you please read that section and tell me what you think Bill Clinton was doing and the extent to which Loretta Lynch understood it and when in the 20 minutes or so she realized it was a problem?

The Executive Summary (page v) says "we found no evidence that Lynch and former President Clinton discussed the Midyear investigation or engaged in other inappropriate discussion during their tarmac meeting" but there was "the appearance problem" and Lynch made "an error in judgment" by not "tak[ing] action to cut the visit short."

We could talk about how narrowly the statements in the Executive Summary are framed. There's a lot of talk of finding no evidence, often tied to a particular issue, like whether Lynch and Bill Clinton discussed the Midyear investigation or another topic that they shouldn't have discussed. But I'd like to talk about the evidence that that the IG did find and the inferences that can be made from that evidence. There is a lot of evidence on pages 202 to 211, and I wish you'd read it before I tell you the inference that came through loud and clear for me.

My inference, from the evidence, is that Bill Clinton intended to cause Loretta Lynch to believe that she would be shown favor in a Hillary Clinton administration and to think that she was a front runner for the empty Supreme Court seat. Bill did not need to talk about the Midyear investigation. In fact, he needed to avoid it as he made himself at home on the plane, sitting down and staying far too long. In this interpretation, talking about the grandchildren made sense...
Well, after he was sharing with us his story about how...they introduced the two grandchildren to each other, which involved a toy...and that was green, and just, again, the family issues...
... because it created an aura of friendly closeness — a toy... that was green — and was meant to lodge in her mind that she was indeed a good friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton's.
At some point, after two or three minutes, President Clinton turned around. I had my tote bags on the bench seat of the plane, because I had put them there when he came on board. I had been holding them. I put them down. He picked up my tote bags and moved them, and then he sat down. So he sat down, and my husband and I were still standing in front of him having the discussion. And...he sort of sat heavily, and...I didn’t know...how he felt, so I can’t say one way or the other. But he sat down and started talking about, you know, the grandkids and how they introduced them to each other. And so, and ultimately, because this went on for a little but, my husband and I sat down also, and, you know, had that discussion about his family and the kids[.]
He moved her tote bags! He used bodily movements to convey the idea that this is a sit-down session that is going to last, to draw her close and give her time to feel that something will come her way if she returns the good, warm, close feelings. I don't know if she ever got the idea: He's trying to say without saying that I will get the Supreme Court nomination. Or at least: Is he trying to make me think I'll get the Supreme Court nomination? And then, if she thought that, what next? Of course the IG has no evidence of what she thought, but I assume that the idea of getting the nomination flashed through her head. And when it did, what did she think?

I imagine that Lynch thought he's trying to make me think I've got a lot to gain if I treat Hillary Clinton well and that Lynch wanted what Bill Clinton was implicitly offering but also knew what he was doing was horribly wrong and had more potential to hurt her reputation than to get her the prize he was dangling.

ADDED: Bill moved the tote bags to create room "on the bench seat." Here, Loretta. Here's a seat on the bench. Won't you sit down?

ALSO: Did Lynch have reason to think she was a major contender for the empty Supreme Court seat?  Yes. She was enough of a contender at the time when Barack Obama was trying to be the one to fill the seat that she publicly withdraw her name for consideration (in early March of 2016):
“While [Lynch] is deeply grateful for the support and good wishes of all those who suggested her as a potential nominee, she is honored to serve as Attorney General, and she is fully committed to carrying out the work of the Department of Justice for the remainder of her term,” [said a  Justice Department spokeswoman].

There is speculation that Lynch did not want a long, drawn-out confirmation battle, which is almost assured given that congressional Republicans have said that they will not confirm any nominee put forth by the president—but especially one who might tip the court to the “left.”
It's easy to infer that she knew the odds were much better to wait for Hillary Clinton to win. Of course, Bill Clinton knew all this when he approached Lynch in June on that tarmac.

And here's an article in The Washington Times from about a month before the election about Hillary Clinton's possible nominees:
Mrs. Clinton, unlike Donald Trump, hasn’t released a list of names she would recommend to the court, saying only that Congress should confirm President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. That’s the politically correct thing to say right now — but if Mrs. Clinton wins in November, there’s no doubt she’ll name her own, more liberal choice to the bench. There’s been some speculation that Loretta Lynch, the attorney general of the Department of Justice, could be on Mrs. Clinton’s short-list....