September 22, 2018

At the Orange-and-Blue Café...


... you can talk all night.

And do think of using the Althouse Portal to Amazon. One thing I bought recently is "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover. I recommend it. Here's an excerpt, something that I was listening to as I walked on Willy Street today:
I had grown up preparing for the Days of Abomination, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. I spent my summers bottling peaches and my winters rotating supplies. When the World of Men failed, my family would continue on, unaffected. I had been educated in the rhythms of the mountain, rhythms in which change was never fundamental, only cyclical. The same sun appeared each morning, swept over the valley and dropped behind the peak. The snows that fell in winter always melted in the spring. Our lives were a cycle—the cycle of the day, the cycle of the seasons—circles of perpetual change that, when complete, meant nothing had changed at all. I believed my family was a part of this immortal pattern, that we were, in some sense, eternal. But eternity belonged only to the mountain.

There’s a story my father used to tell about the peak.... From a distance, you could see the impression of a woman’s body on the mountain face: her legs formed of huge ravines, her hair a spray of pines fanning over the northern ridge. Her stance was commanding, one leg thrust forward in a powerful movement, more stride than step. My father called her the Indian Princess. She emerged each year when the snows began to melt, facing south, watching the buffalo return to the valley....

"My siblings who chose to film ads against me are all liberal Democrats who hate President Trump."

"These disgruntled Hillary suppporters are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Stalin would be proud. #Az04 #MAGA2018"

Tweeted Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-4) after 6 of his siblings made an ad endorsing his opponent.

Here's the ad:

Here's a WaPo article with more details:
In January, he drew bipartisan rebukes after he said he asked the Capitol Police and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to check IDs at the State of the Union to arrest and deport any undocumented immigrants in attendance...

The next month, Gosar said FBI and Department of Justice officials such as Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, former acting attorney general Sally Yates and former FBI director James B. Comey should face “treason” charges because of developments in the Russia investigation. In the summer, he spoke at a rally in London for one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, Tommy Robinson, drawing rebukes from Muslim American groups.

But perhaps his most notorious moment came in 2017 in an interview with Vice News, when he spread a baseless conspiracy theory that the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that summer had been “created by the left.” He also brought up the common right-wing falsehood that the liberal philanthropist and financier George Soros, who survived the Holocaust, had collaborated with Nazis.
There are 3 more siblings who didn't appear in the ad. The parents support Paul. Paul is quoted: “To the six angry Democrat Gosars—see you at Mom and Dad’s house!”

"Men, Tell Us About Your High School Experience."

Fill out this form, just in case you want to tell on yourself before anybody else does.

The NYT wants you to trust it with your information:
We want to hear from men about their high school experiences. A Times editor may contact you with follow-up questions. No information you provide will be published without your permission.
But Christine Blasely Ford didn't want her name to come out, and yet it did. Is the Times more trustworthy than Dianne Feinstein?

Given the stakes these days and the low standard of what counts as sexual abuse — like Cory Booker's reaching for a breast a second time — why would anyone volunteer anything? I understand the value of having an open and honest conversation about these things, but hasn't that route been closed off by the shocking dire consequences to Brett Kavanaugh (and Al Franken and Louis CK, etc.)?

But the NYT has a form it would like you to fill out. The first question is:
Did you ever, as a teenager or younger man, behave toward women in ways you may now regret? If so, how? And how has that experience stayed with you over the years?
Won't this drag in a thousand "Cat Person" and Cory Booker stories? If you've got anything in the Kavanaugh-as-told-by-Blasey category, you'd have to be irrational to put it in writing. Or maybe just old or dying and not looking for another step of professional or social advancement.

"Her mind-set was, 'I’ve got this terrible secret.... What am I going to do with this secret?'"

"She was like, 'I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court'... She wanted out."

Said Russell Ford, the husband of Christine Blasey Ford, quoted in "Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford moved 3,000 miles to reinvent her life. It wasn’t far enough" (WaPo).

"The drinking was unbelievable," said Bernie Ward, who was the sex-ed teacher at Georgetown Prep in the Kavanaugh years...

... and who — according to "'100 Kegs or Bust': Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, has spent years writing about high school debauchery" (WaPo) —  "later spent two decades as a radio talk-show host in San Francisco and served six years in federal prison for distributing child pornography."
“It was part of the culture. A parent even bought the keg and threw one of the parties for the kids.”..,

[Mark] Judge wrote that he came to view Ward as an example of his school’s fall from Catholic orthodoxy and traditional discipline into a New Age emphasis on feelings and liberal notions about faith and politics.

"25 years ago today, on September 21, 1993, Nirvana released its third and last studio album, In Utero..."

"... the defiantly raw and noisy follow-up to Nevermind, their much slicker breakthrough album... And if you really want to feel old, think about this: In Utero is an older album today than the Beatles' White Album was on the day In Utero was released!"

Writes my son John on Facebook, with audio and commentary on various album cuts. [ADDED: Also presented in blog form, here, where it's easier to read and enjoy.] Example:
“Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” is one of my favorite Nirvana songs, with manically oscillating guitar noise over relentlessly thumping drums. Most of the song is not quite “radio friendly,” but it gets most melodic in the bridge, with Kurt Cobain offering uncharacteristically straightforward advice: “Hate, hate your enemies/Save, save your friends/Find, find your place/Speak, speak the truth.”
As I wrote in the comments over there:
“Hate, hate your enemies/Save, save your friends...” made me think of a book I just read, which identified that sort of thinking as one of the "three great untruths" that are ruining the American mind...
The book is "The Coddling of the American Mind," which identifies "The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life Is a Battle Between Good People and Evil People." From Chapter 3 of the book:
The bottom line is that the human mind is prepared for tribalism. Human evolution is not just the story of individuals competing with other individuals within each group; it’s also the story of groups competing with other groups—sometimes violently. We are all descended from people who belonged to groups that were consistently better at winning that competition. Tribalism is our evolutionary endowment for banding together to prepare for intergroup conflict. When the “tribe switch” is activated, we bind ourselves more tightly to the group, we embrace and defend the group’s moral matrix, and we stop thinking for ourselves. A basic principle of moral psychology is that “morality binds and blinds,” which is a useful trick for a group gearing up for a battle between “us” and “them.” In tribal mode, we seem to go blind to arguments and information that challenge our team’s narrative. Merging with the group in this way is deeply pleasurable—as you can see from the pseudotribal as you can see from the pseudotribal antics that accompany college football games.

But being prepared for tribalism doesn’t mean we have to live in tribal ways....
It's not easy to forget that Kurt Cobain committed suicide, but, reading those lyrics, I feel that it's worth reminding you that he shot himself to death less than a year after writing that.  It's hard to know, reading lyrics, whether the writer is speaking in his own voice or inhabiting a persona whose views he hates. Lyrics Genius, annotating those lyrics, says:
Kurt Cobain was not about forgiving one’s enemies. In his personal journal, he wrote:
John Lennon has been my idol all my life but he’s dead wrong about revolution… find a representative of gluttony or oppression and blow the motherfuckers [sic] head off."
And then he blew his own head off, and somebody else blew out John Lennon's heart.

ADDED: Perhaps the Cobain suicide expressed the terrifying old realization: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

"It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive," tweeted the 85-year-old Charles E. Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee...

... letting the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh know about the latest deadline extension accorded to Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

The newest deadline is 2:30 PM today (Saturday). I'm told — reading the NYT — that they're working on negotiating the terms, but it's hard to believe this "tango" — NYT's word — is really over terms:
Throughout the day on Friday, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers and Senate Judiciary Committee aides tried to work out details like how many photographers and television cameras would be in the room (Dr. Blasey, fearful of being mobbed by the news media, wanted one of each); who would ask the questions (Republicans wanted an outside lawyer, Dr. Blasey favored senators); and what day the session would take place (Dr. Blasey asked for Thursday, Republicans wanted Wednesday).
If Blasey really wanted to testify, I think these terms would easily have been worked out. I suspect this last moving of the deadline is simply because they already know there will be no additional hearing, and the vote can't be until Monday anyway, so why not make even more of a show of being caring, considerate, and accommodating to Blasey? In this view, Grassley isn't really "b-ing" indecisive, nor is he really addressing Kavanaugh. It's a show for us, the sensitive people, and Grassley already knows the outcome of this story — that there will be no hearing and Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
In a follow-up tweet sent after the one directed to Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. Grassley wrote: “With all the extensions we give Dr Ford to decide if she still wants to testify to the Senate I feel like I’m playing 2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra and Schumer is the conductor.” He was referring to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.
Schumer is making him do it. I understand teenagers getting pushed around but the man is 85 years old. Grow up, already, or retire. Is he suffering from learned helplessness? I suspect he's simply posing as a man who gets pushed around by a stronger man. Maybe he thinks the American public is so sympathetic to victims these days that he'll get some.

Notice the use of phallic symbol metaphor: Schumer wields his powerful conductor's baton and he's stuck with a stupid old trombone.

A trombone is a well-known phallic symbol, so don't try to tell me otherwise. The motion of playing it is typically compared to male masturbation. Commenting on Prince's phallic display of his guitar at the Super Bowl in 2007, Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Gavin Edwards said: "Those trombones are phallic, too. What are you going to do?"

There's even more commentary on the conductor's baton as a phallic symbol. Example (click to enlarge and clarify):

"What [Christine Blasey Ford is] describing, I saw at parties in 2003 and ’04. Boys trying to take advantage of girls who were drunk."

Said Eric Ruyak, who attended Georgetown Prep in the 2000s — long after Kavanaugh left — quoted — for what it's worth — in USA Today.
"It’s predominantly white, very homogeneous," Ruyak said. "There’s a tremendous amount of wealth, no women, and, quite frankly, male teachers making lewd jokes. I feel badly. I know plenty of wonderful guys who went to Prep. "When I went to Northwestern (University), I saw then how malignant that environment really is.”
The article also quotes Elizabeth Mitchell, "a 1995 graduate of Georgetown Visitation, an all-girls Catholic school whose students often interacted with Georgetown Prep's."
"The re was definitely a heavy-drinking, country club-entitled, future-kings idea that I think prevailed," she said. "You had this culture where mom and dad weren't home, and you had these massive mansions."
Why — given that we're so ready to talk about race in connection with this story — are we not talking about religion? These are Catholic schools, and the teachers there attempt to shape the character of the students.

People are talking about Mark Judge's book "Wasted: Tales of a Genx Drunk," but I'm reading his other book "A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll." And there's also "God and Man at Georgetown Prep: How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling," but at the moment it costs $1,500, so I can't tell you about that, but you can see from the title Judge is highly critical of his own Catholic schooling.

We're too afraid to talk about religion, even though we've plunged deeply into sex and even thrown race in where there's scarcely any reason. Why don't we talk about religion? There are so many Catholics on the Supreme Court that it's bizarre not to talk about it. Only Breyer and Ginsburg are not Catholic. (Gorsuch was raised Catholic and, like Kavanaugh, attended Georgetown Prep, but since marrying, he has attended Episcopal services with his wife and, I'm reading, refrains from saying whether or not he is Catholic.)

September 21, 2018

"Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment."

NYT headline.
The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit....

Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.

Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations....
Thanks to commenter readering for saying — on my post about the "Battle of Brett" Drudge graphic — "Much better Drudge headline now."

Drudge rarely uses the siren in recent years, so it has a big impact now.

Nice Drudge graphic.

I read that as humorous critique, the play being on "The Battle of Britain." Drudge is saying they're making a mountain out of a molehill.

Cory Booker and Brett Kavanaugh — Chris Cillizza pushes away whataboutism, but we might reach for it anyway.

"What makes Cory Booker's groping incident different than the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh."

That's the CNN headline for a piece by Chris Cillizza.

The automatic, easy, snarky answer: He's a Democrat.

I still haven't read the article, and I hadn't previously noticed there was a "groping incident" about Cory Booker. Is it an allegation or something we know happened? Anyway, to give an nonsnarky answer — again, before reading the article — I'd say: Cory Booker has a limited term and faces reelection. Brett Kavanaugh is up for a lifetime appointment.

Let's read this piece now:
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker wrote in the early 1990s -- while a student at Stanford -- about an incident on New Year's Eve 1984 (when he was 15) in which he groped a female friend's breast after the two of them had kissed.
"With the 'Top Gun' slogan ringing in my head, I slowly reached for her breast," Booker wrote of that night. "After having my hand pushed away once, I reached my 'mark.'" The point of Booker's column was how that moment, and his work on the issue after, had changed him -- and his views on women, consent and assault -- forever. "It was a wake-up call," Booker wrote in his Stanford column. "I will never be the same."
You're already consensually kissing. You try to touch her breast and are pushed away, and you try again and — what? — the end of the story is missing. But, holy God, if that's what ruins your life these days, the world has gone mad. I wonder whether college-student Cory was bullshitting when he claimed to be changed forever by this "wake up" call. But, again, I don't know the end of the story. Did the woman take him to task for trying again? And what's the "Top Gun" slogan? Maybe Cillizza isn't telling the story straight.

So the difference between the 2 stories — and this is my opinion, not Cillizza's — is that Booker's story was a story he told on himself, as part of posturing and instructing about how to be a good man. I don't know if it's true, but he chose to tell it and tell it that way. What really happened? I have no idea. Kavanaugh is suffering through someone else's telling of what is purportedly his story, and it's not told in the template of how he became such a good man, but to frame him as secretly evil. Within that other person's story, he is brutal and ugly, not boyishly copping a feel that he later lavishly regrets.

Back to Cillizza:
The rise of the #MeToo movement and the cavalcade of high-profile men admitting to behavior that ranges from boorish to criminal has opened eyes and forced uncomfortable and important conversations. The accusations against Kavanaugh are another moment to examine our assumptions and talk openly about how we should bets [sic] approach these situations -- both now and going forward.
Oh, yes. Let's have a conversation about everything! Talk openly! How do you think that will go? Place your "bets."
What we don't need amid all of this is an epic bout of "whatboutism" [sic].
Yeah, don't come after my guy while I'm going after your guy. That's whataboutism! I want you to stand down while I take all my shots. Funnily enough, that's how all these "conversations" tend to go when we're encouraged to have a conversation about some hot subject.
What Booker did as a teenager wasn't right. And he has been and will be judged by voters on them. But to turn Booker into a political missile to prove hypocrisy misses the mark. This isn't about Booker. This is about Ford, Kavanaugh, and how we, together, figure out the right way forward.
Yes, tell us what this is about.  You call out "whatboutism" — AKA whataboutism— but I'm going to call out your "what-it's-about-ism." You don't get to restrict the subject to exactly the scope you like. When you do that, it's "what-it's-about-ism" (my coinage).

But of course, everything's different from everything else. We can talk about differences and samenesses. Don't tell me what to do.

IN THE COMMENTS: Nonapod said:
"an incident on New Year's Eve 1984 (when he was 15) in which he groped a female friend's breast after the two of them had kissed. 'With the 'Top Gun' slogan ringing in my head'"

Top Gun came out in 1986. This whole story is an anti-strawman.
Wow. I found 2 typos in Cillizza's piece — "whatboutism" and "bets" — so maybe "1984" is another typo.

Anyway, checking the release date of the movie — it is indeed 1986 — I found the "slogan," I believe. It's "I feel the need... the need for speed!" That's such a stupid sex slogan.

Does Trump's tweet attack Christine Blasey Ford?

On CNN, they're going on and on about how Trump has suddenly begun directly attacking Blasey.

The front-page of the NYT says he's ending his "days of restraint":
I guess they've been waiting for Trump to say anything that could be construed as an attack and hoping he'd go low. I don't think this is low at all, but the anti-Kavanaugh media seem to be working off a theory that says that any attempt to defend Kavanaugh is an attack on the alleged victim. No matter how restrained and deferential, any defense of him will be presented as an attack on her. Those who want Kavanaugh confirmed should resist that template, but they still need to be careful. The media are trying to provoke them into saying things that really will seem like an attack on someone who may be a real victim or that unsettle people like me who are invested in the larger #MeToo movement.

And this does get the "civility bullshit" tag.

Trump tweets, just now: "I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents."

"They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General....."

Still waiting for the rest of that sentence.

ADDED: Still waiting, but I wanted to ask what does "may have a perceived negative impact" mean? Did he mean that the people he talked to perceived a negative impact? Because that's not what the word literally mean.

Literally — as I read those words — it means that the people at the DOJ did not themselves perceive a possible negative impact, but thought that other people — the press? the public? — might  perceive a negative impact. In that view, the people at the DOJ were not worried about a negative impact on the Russia probe but were worried that Trump will be thought of as negatively affecting the probe.

UPDATE: The second tweet, with the rest of the sentence:
....has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me - and everyone!
SO: He changed his mind! Speed is very important, so he's delaying.

Are they going to say "time's up" suddenly in 7 minutes when the deadline hits?

ADDED, 2 minutes after the hour: No word yet.

Meade is watching MSNBC right next to me, and the people on that channel are freaking out, while nothing is happening.

ME: "Why do you watch MSNBC?"

MEADE: "Because they're the most extreme."

"We unravel the Russian plot to subvert the 2016 election."

Teaser on the front page at for a big NYT article that I cannot bring myself to read. I've glanced at it, seen the diagrams that make it seem as though there are hundreds of data points and the NYT has arranged them to tell a story.

To "unravel" is "To cause to be no longer ravelled, tangled, or intertwined, to disentangle; to unweave or undo (a fabric, esp. a knitted one)" (OED).

To want to read that article, I would need to believe the NYT is going to unravel something that I already see as terribly important and horribly tangled, so that what looks like a long, complicated article seems to offer to helpfully simplify things for me.

But I don't feel that way, and I'm afraid their aim is to create the impression of hopeless entanglement, not to rescue me from a place where I'm currently struggling.

Can't I just wait for Mueller to lay it all out for me? If there really was "a horrible Russian plot to subvert the 2016 election," it's an emergency, but it's going on 2 years that Mueller's been mulling it over. If Mueller can be so leisurely, I can wait for Mueller. Sorry I'm not more concerned about "the Russian plot" — I would be if I thought Mueller were part of it.

ADDED: Look at the paranoia-inducing Putin pic they've got on the front page:


Reminds me of the title sequence from "Vertigo":

"A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon/A panel of critics tells us what belongs on a list of the 100 most important books of the 2000s … so far."

At Vulture (NY Magazine). Worth a click just for the illustration (by Tim McDonagh). I love the drawing of Joan Didion (whose "Year of Magical Thinking" is in the canon), one of many drawings of writers, all colorfully jumbled together.
Any project like this is arbitrary, and ours is no exception. But the time frame is not quite as random as it may seem. The aughts and teens represent a fairly coherent cultural period, stretching from the eerie decadence of pre-9/11 America to the presidency of Donald Trump. This mini-era packed in the political, social, and cultural shifts of the average century, while following the arc of an epic narrative (perhaps a tragedy, though we pray for a happier sequel). Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, one of our panel’s favorite books, came out ten days before the World Trade Center fell; subsequent novels reflected that cataclysm’s destabilizing effects, the waves of hope and despair that accompanied wars, economic collapse, permanent-seeming victories for the once excluded, and the vicious backlash under which we currently shudder. They also reflected the fragmentation of culture brought about by social media. The novels of the Trump era await their shot at the canon of the future; because of the time it takes to write a book, we haven’t really seen them yet....
The Trump era books haven't come out yet, but one of the books in the canon is "The Plot Against America," by Philip Roth (September 30, 2004), and...
It can be easy to forget that The Plot Against America, which today reads as a parable for Trump’s America, was widely received as an allegory for W.’s — an interpretation that Roth encouraged by insisting the opposite. The novel begins in a buzz of fear and the pitch increases steadily, unbearably. But it’s Roth’s doomed hero, Walter Winchell, whose speeches have the uncanny urgency of prophecy: “How long will Americans remain asleep while their cherished Constitution is torn to shreds by the fascist fifth column of the Republican right marching under the sign of the cross and the flag?”
An interpretation that Roth encouraged by insisting the opposite... ha ha. Years ago, that used to be called "reverse psychology." It used to come up in sitcoms. We'll use reverse psychology. That is, when we want to get somebody to do something, we'll act like we want the opposite. It's like playing hard to get. When you suspect someone's trying to do that to you, you say they "protest too much."

Maybe I'll read "The Plot Against America." And by read, I mean let it read itself to me as I take my walks about Madison. I've read very few of the books in The Vulture's canon. Only "The Year of Magical Thinking" — maybe the only nonfiction book on the list — and some of the stories in "Oblivion." I've read part of "The Sellout." I haven't even read the Haruki Murakami book on the list —  "1Q84" — and I've read 5 Murakami books in the last year. So maybe the "dozens of authors and critics" on their panel are not very much like me.

Vulture also has "The Best Audiobooks of 2018 (So Far)," which influenced me to buy 2 things: "Convenience Store Woman" and "Educated: A Memoir."

Remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you want to buy any of these things (including the audiobooks). I like to buy the Kindle version of the book on Amazon and check the box or hit the button to add on the audiobook. You get both for a lower price than you'd pay for just the audiobook, and it's great to be able to find things in the text after you've heard them in the audiobook, especially for me, blogging and wanting to cut and paste.

Kavanaugh is "a great intellect, a great gentleman, an impeccable reputation, went to Yale, top student, went to Yale Law School, top student, so we're going to let it play out, but I gotta tell you...."

"... he is a fine, fine person, so — and he's got tremendous support, I can tell you, just like Neil Gorsuch, who's now on the Supreme Court has tremendous support. So, we'll let it play out, and I think everything's going to be just fine. This is a high. quality. person."

Said Trump, last night in Las Vegas:

Here's the whole rally:

Trump was rallying for the incumbent Senator Dean Heller, who wouldn't even say he was voting for Trump right before the 2016 election. Last night, Trump said:
"I didn’t like him; he didn’t like me. And as we fought and fought and fought, believe it or not, we started to respect each other, we started to like each other, then we started to love each other. And the fact is, he has been a tremendous supporter ever since I won the election. He’s always been there. We can count on his vote. I mean Wacky Jacky will never vote for us, folks. She’s wacky."
"Wacky Jacky" = Jacky Rosen, the Democrat trying to unseat Heller. I have no idea what's supposed to be wacky about her, but "wacky" certainly does rhyme with Jacky, who has the nerve to oppose the stellar Heller feller.

By the way, if you laughed at "went to Yale, top student, went to Yale Law School, top student" because it seemed like idiotic repetition, it's not. Kavanaugh went to Yale as an undergraduate. Trump is ticking off stages in Kavanaugh's fine, fine career. So put aside that Kavanaugh man of straw.

September 20, 2018

"'Piano & a Microphone 1983' contains nine songs that were recorded on a cassette at [Prince's] home studio..."

"... the year before 'Purple Rain' would multiply the size of his audience. It’s just Prince on his own (with an engineer) for about 35 minutes, brainstorming while tape ran, segueing from song to song until it was time to turn over the cassette.... The album feels like eavesdropping, as Prince the songwriter delves into nuances and Prince the pianist cuts loose. He’s exploring and playing around, not constructing taut commercial tracks.... The album includes familiar songs (a brief excerpt from 'Purple Rain'), B-sides ('17 Days,' which was the B-side of the single 'When Doves Cry' in its band version), album tracks ('Strange Relationship,' 'International Lover'), covers (Joni Mitchell’s 'A Case of You,' the gospel standard 'Mary Don’t You Weep'), and previously unreleased songs and sketches ('Wednesday,' 'Cold Coffee & Cocaine' and 'Why the Butterflies.')... For Prince, it was just another night in the studio, an unfinished rough draft he saw no reason to release. Now that he’s gone, it’s a glimpse of a notoriously private artist doing his mysterious work."

Writes Jon Pareles (NYT).

You can buy "Piano & a Microphone 1983" at Amazon — here.

Christine Blasey Ford communicates that she “would be prepared to testify next week" on "terms that are fair and which ensure her safety."

The NYT has obtained the letter from her lawyer to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But the letter also says that a Monday hearing "is not possible and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event" and — backing off from an earlier demand — that Blasey just has a "strong preference" for an F.B.I. investigation before she testifies.

"The 33-year-old Kipchoge, who is 5 foot 6 and weighs 115 pounds, had run 26 straight, blazingly fast, 4-minute and 38-second miles."

"I’ve always said of world-class marathon times like this that if I didn’t know it could be done, I wouldn’t believe it was possible to run that fast for that long. 'It was a performance so far superior to anything we’ve seen before that comparing it to another marathon feels inadequate,' the running-news website said of Kipchoge’s new record. 'This was Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in basketball, Usain Bolt’s 9.58 in the 100-meter dash.... Kipchoge’s run was so remarkable it’s hard to give it its proper due... In today’s age of hyperbole, this run deserves every accolade said about it. The lower the world record gets, the harder it is to be broken, and the less it should be broken by. Yet Eliud Kipchoge just broke the world record by more than any man in the last 41 years, and he ran the last 10 miles by himself.'... If I didn’t know that Kipchoge had run a marathon in 2:01:39, I wouldn’t believe it was possible. But now that I know he’s done it, I believe I’ll still be running marathons when someone—possibly Kipchoge himself—runs 26.2 miles in less than two hours."

Writes Vernon Loeb in The Atlantic.

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law."

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular."

I'm reading "Edward R. Murrow: A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy/See it Now (CBS-TV, March 9, 1954)" not because I was looking for old content that resonates with current troubles. I found it because I was looking for a recording of Edward R. Murrow's voice:

The reason I wanted to hear Murrow is that — as I sit at my desk — I'm overhearing the television news, and some of the voices annoy me. There's a modern way of speaking that is informal and often harsh and strangled. I said out loud that I wished they'd get vocal training, but immediately realized that the trained, open, resonant voice I was thinking of would seem old-fashioned and radically uncool.

Then I had my idea. Feel free to steal it and make this for me: A cable news channel with old-school voices, like Edward R. Murrow's. Embrace the uncoolness.

I think this could be very popular, because I see how much people of today love to listen to The Report of the Week ("Review Brah"). Here's his newest:

Like many people, I love listening to this man talk. I don't care what he talks about. Often it's fast-food items that I would never eat, but I like to listen. Get some new people like that, and it's a plus if they're unconventional looking. Review Brah is proof that it doesn't matter how you look if you figure out an approach to visual style that's neat, clean, and retro.

Can I get that in a cable news channel? And while you're at it, you who are stealing this idea I am trying to foist on you, please use language in the more literary, elevated style exemplified by Murrow... and Review Brah.

Remember that we are not descended from fearful men —not from men who feared to write, to speak...

"Her dress of sleazy silk was bright burned orange painted with black sail-boats sailing over purple trees and red football players playing over steeples and..."

"... white skiers skiing over sail-boats cascading to the hem and locked acrobats, the entire field of outdoor sports, it seemed, being on her body, for her scarf was painted with spidery tennis players and tennis nets and ice-skaters skating on silver ponds and red polo riders riding red horses, and there were little footballs hanging from her charm bracelets, tennis rackets and ice-skates and golf clubs and numerous other trophies, some of field and stream, satin fishes running around the hem of her chiffon petticoat edged with yellow lace, butterflies embroidered upon the keens of her thin silk stockings…"

From "Miss MacIntosh, My Darling," a 1198-page novel written by Margurite Young, published in 1965, quoted in "The Most Unread Book Ever Acclaimed," a Paris Review essay by Meghan O’Gieblyn, who actually read the whole thing and recommends that anyone hoping to read it should "abandon all hope of destination" and "Accept that the bus is going nowhere." That's not a metaphor. There's actually a bus: "A young woman, Vera Cartwheel, is traveling by bus through southern Indiana, looking out at an endless expanse of gray mist." She's wearing the dress you see described in the sentence partially quoted above.
The description of her dress does not end there. More sports are named. It’s hard not to feel that something has gone wrong; the record is skipping; whoever was manning the controls has stepped out for a cigarette—or a very potent joint. Why must the pattern contain every conceivable sport? Would not three, or four, or a dozen, have been enough? In a similar vein, one might ask why there needs to exist ten thousand types of birds or 350,000 species of beetles....

Racializing the confrontation between Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.

I think we've got a confrontation between 2 individuals whose lives got launched within lovely economic advantage. Both of them, as far as I can tell, are life-long elite. The dispute is deeply (and shallowly!) gendered.

I say "deeply" because — whatever happened between these 2 young people — we need to contemplate how the subordination of women can happen and the psychological burdens that arise out of the complexities of sex and the fear of violence.

I say "shallowly" because there is a political, partisan game going on, and the serious questions are getting appropriated and exploited for political power.

I'd like feminism to operate independently: I'm a believer in the separation of feminism from partisan politics. But I don't expect the world to arrange itself around my belief. So I'm just an observer and a writer in a style I call "cruel neutrality." I've been writing about the gender politics of the Blasey/Kavanaugh matter. And I'd add class politics, because we're dealing with the elite and the political community reacting to and serving the needs of the elite.

But to drag in racial politics when everyone is white is blatant confusion and misappropriation of racial problems, which are important on their own and don't deserve to be tossed in with every other problem.

I'm reading, "Joy Behar Accuses 'White Men' on Senate Judiciary Committee of Protecting 'Probably Guilty' Kavanaugh" (IJR): "These white men, old by the way, are not protecting women... They're protecting a man who is probably guilty."

I know, she also said "old" and "probably guilty." Maybe Behar prefers a shotgun approach. Something might hit.

Is it just Behar? The Free Beacon presents it as a standard talking point: "MSNBC and CNN anchors and reporters are fixating on the optics of Republican 'white men' on the the Senate Judiciary Committee publicly questioning a woman who has accused Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault." Many examples at that link ("Once again, it will be all white men on the Republican side of the Judiciary Committee...," "It is a lineup of white guys over the age of 50," "Are these Republican white men essentially going to ask her if she's telling the truth?," "worst-case scenario for a bunch of white men...," "a bunch of white men once again defending another white man"). The woman is white, and white men have been defending white women for a good long time, often to the disadvantage of black men.

This is a despicable talking point, deliberately and eagerly inciting racial discord over something that isn't racial. Why not spend a little less time on this one news story and forefront some stories that really are about race? I'm sure we haven't run out of them.

McDonald's buys cure to viral criticism for $50,000.

Pranksters do a great job of identifying themselves as the place to put the money to gain absolution.

So everybody wins. Right? Everybody feels good. Even Ellen.

"Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has agreed to contribute $10 million to women's organizations but will not face any other punishment..."

"... stemming from what NBA commissioner Adam Silver called 'disturbing and heartbreaking' allegations of harassment and violence toward female employees within the organization, the league announced Wednesday. The NBA launched an investigation seven months ago following a Sports Illustrated report in February which described 'a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior' that spanned decades in the Mavericks' organization... 'First, just an apology to the women involved,' Cuban told ESPN. '... This is not something that just is an incident and then it's over. It stays with people. It stays with families. And I'm just sorry I didn't see it. I'm just sorry I didn't recognize it.' While Cuban himself was not cited in any of the incidents of harassment or misconduct, the NBA said that he didn't pay enough attention to the business culture within the Mavericks' organization...."

ESPN reports.

We were just looking at the 2020 election odds, and Cuban was on the list, with 50-1, trailing Beto O'Rourke.

And here's a post from February 2017, "Trump is trying to figure out who's going to run against him in 2020":
It's really hard to figure out:
Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, asked consultants to scour the backgrounds of four outspoken Democrats — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, two sources close to the administration said....

The White House believes both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are “too old” to mount a serious campaign three years from now, sources said....
Have we ever had such a vulnerable President and so few credible contenders?

"I keep hearing that the Dems are trying to delay the vote on Kavanaugh with a view to defeating his nomination."

"Isn't it clear that delay advantages the Dems only if Kavanaugh is confirmed? The theory that explains every action the accuser and the Dems have taken is: they want the confirmation to occur as close as possible to the midterm elections in order to enrage the Dem base into turning out in huge numbers. If Kavanaugh is defeated close to the midterms, it is the GOP base that will be enraged into turning out. Same result (though likely to a lesser extent) if the Dems induce Kavanaugh to withdraw or delay the vote past the midterms. And Kavanaugh's confirmation will not move the Court so significantly to the right as to outweigh the potential advantage of controlling both houses of Congress. The Dems want Kavanaugh confirmed, under circumstances that will enrage the Dem base as much as possible, and as close to the midterm election date as possible. "

That's PJ in last night's open thread.

I disagree with "And Kavanaugh's confirmation will not move the Court so significantly to the right as to outweigh the potential advantage of controlling both houses of Congress," but there's a lot of interesting analysis about the goals and the timing that I think will get a good conversation started.

September 19, 2018

At the Wednesday Night Cafe...

... keep up the conversation.

The sex-ed teacher at Georgetown Prep had filled Mark Judge's "vocabulary with words like clitoris, orgasm, and ejaculation."

"What he hadn’t prepared me for was falling in love with a real person. To be sure, hormones were driving me to have sex with Donna. But it was also something more transcendent. As Saint Ambrose once put it, lovers embracing seem to be attempting to breathe their souls into each other. Again, rock ’n’ roll seemed to describe the powerful parallel world I was entering. Where my parents and their generation considered lovemaking a wonderful taboo not to be spoken of in detail, and [the sex-ed teacher] Mr. Ward reduced it to Marxism and moving parts, the songs I loved told me that it could be both—the swiveling hips of Elvis and the tender ballads of the Fab Four; the erotic dynamism of Little Richard and the moonlit romance of Van Morrison. To put it in theological terms, the music made the connection between agape, the love of God, and eros, physical desire. At night, from Joe’s room, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and the blues musicians he loved would serenade me with the wonder of love."

From "A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll," by Mark Judge.


Mark Judge was the other boy in the room with Brett Kavanaugh and her, according to Christine Blasely Ford.

Do liberal media notice the elitism oozing from their discussion of the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford?

I'm overhearing the television, so I'm not going to link to anything, but I keep hearing the indicia of elite status — notably, that Blasey is a college professor.

I'm trying to think of how her allegations should be handled, and I want like cases to be treated alike. When will one allegation from long ago justify delaying the Senate confirmation process and the opening of new investigations?

The answer cannot be: when the accuser has elite status!

I'm thinking of how Paula Jones was denigrated 20 years ago. "If you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find," James Carville said famously.
[Carville] with Hillary's assent — set the tone on how the Clintons would treat women who dared accuse former President Clinton of sexual harassment....

[Paula Jones] wasn't fancy or rich, just a working woman sexually harassed by Bill when he was governor of Arkansas. But she was denigrated by Clinton's top advisers as "trailer park" trash, as someone so craven she'd crawl on dirt for the cash to slander Bill.

She was telling the truth. It was a straightforward sexual harassment case. If Bill had been a private-sector CEO, he'd have been fired.

But Hillary and Bill fought back, using the "nuts and sluts strategy," denigrating Jones and others, including Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and the intern Monica Lewinsky.
So what is the standard we are creating? How will we apply it in the future? I'm seeing analogies to Anita Hill, but how is Christine Blasey Ford like Anita Hill other than that she's challenging a Supreme Court nominee? Anita Hill worked with the nominee (Clarence Thomas) in a professional context. That was not in question. With Blasey, we only have her assertion that she was once in a room with Brett Kavanaugh. How will we treat other women who assert that they were once with the nominee? What is the principled plan that we can agree on?!

"How Connected Is Your Community to Everywhere Else in America?"

The NYT has an interactive map that lets you click on counties in the U.S. and see what other counties are connect to it through Facebook friending.
Even in Washington, D.C., nearly half of friendship links extend to people who live within 100 miles. Nationwide, in the average county, 63 percent of friendship links are that close, probably reflecting that many people on Facebook know one another through real-world sites like grade schools, colleges and offices....

If we were to divide the United States into two regions, merging counties that are most closely connected to one another, we would get a very simple map. It would not show the coasts versus the heartland, or red America versus blue America.

It would show, simply, all of the continental U.S. and Alaska in one region, and far-off Hawaii in the other. Divide the country further, and cohesive regions become clear at different scales. Northern Florida merges with southern Georgia. Texas and California splinter. Divide the country into 50 regions, and you get something that looks like how we might redraw our state borders to reflect the social worlds people in America inhabit today....
Go to the link to see that vividly depicted.

Does having a large head make you look short?

I'm thinking of this question a propos of Stormy Daniels's discussion of Donald Trump (blogged here). I've never thought about this question before, even though I have a large head, which I've only ever thought of as a problem when shopping for hats...

... which is the main point of that video. But I'm seeing some discussion from body-builders who worry about the distortion of perception from a large head: Your body will be perceived as smaller.

And here's a woman angsting over the opposite problem (in Elle, a fashion magazine):
I'm convinced that [my head is] too small for my body, and only if I'm at an impossible-to-maintain weight (for me that would be 123 pounds for my 5'7" height) do I look balanced....
Hmm. There's a benefit to having a large head. You can weigh more. (Also factor in the added weight of the head itself!)
Actors are known to have large heads, which are thought to translate better to the screen, and the actress as determiner of beauty ideals has never been stronger....

"Hmm," [says casting director Meredith Tucker], "I saw Carey Mulligan in The Seagull on Broadway and thought, Here's this amazing actress, but she'll never make it on screen; her head is too small. Then she did. So I think it's a myth." She pulls away from the receiver to consult her associate. "Yes!" she hollers. "It is true." I hear the words "Philip Seymour Hoffman" in the distance....
Actors are big heads on the screen, and it doesn't seem to matter too much if they are short. Maybe it's preferable for them to be short. And once you get some shortish, big-headed actors in the movies, you don't want to bring in actors who will distract viewers into thinking about head size.
[T]he head, the female head in particular, it turns out, is a locus of much social meaning. Stanford professor Londa Schiebinger... tells me that... [c]apacious skulls were viewed as a sign of greater intelligence and thus the ability to reason. Women, who have smaller skulls than men on average, were said to have limited reasoning capacity, a belief presented during the suffrage era as an argument against our getting to vote. The theory hit an impasse when data grew and it became evident that women have proportionately larger skulls than men. But science in the service of the patriarchy found a way out. "Who else has proportionately larger heads?" Schiebinger asks. "Children! So this became a way of labeling women as more childish than men, rather than smarter."

One could argue that figures such as Betty Boop were a particularly reassuring sex symbol. As unchallenging and loving as babies. Have I not always coveted a bouffant, or at least more hair, because it inflates the head and helps achieve the sexy baby effect?....
The sexy baby effect... That doesn't sound right.

Nate Silver creates anxiety and allays it.

'It sounded like you said 'robot waffles.'"

Me, responding to Meade, who re-articulated: "'Robot brothels.' They're 'dehumanizing and dangerous.'"

Me, looking for the link to whatever he's reading: "Are you really reading 'dehumanizing and dangerous'?" Because I was Googling that phrase and not finding the article. Suddenly: "Oh! It's in a British paper!"

The headline in The Sun: "BAD BOTS Sex robots BACKLASH as brothel workers reveal fury over ‘dehumanising and dangerous’ droids."

Me, looking at the photograph and laughing: "It's funny how they look standing up because they're trying to make room between their legs."

But don't worry, guys, the robot woman won't laugh at you.

Another angle on The Era of That's Not Funny.

Isn't this how we know Bill Clinton exposed himself to Paula Jones?

"When Daniels came out of the bathroom, she claims Trump was lying on the bed in his underwear. They had sex. She then describes his genitalia in great detail. 'His penis is distinctive in a certain way,' she writes. Proof, her attorney Michael Avenatti says, she is tired of being called a liar by Trump’s people."

From "CNN’s Jake Tapper Dedicates Segment to Trump’s Penis" (Breitbart).

Oh, look! It's Roseanne. 1998. Dragging out the penile details:

Is the woman lying? To ask the question is to express a desire for corroborating evidence. If the offense is sexual, I'm afraid the evidence might trigger your ickiness reaction. Too bad! How would you like it if you stopped by to see the governor and he whipped it out, erect, and said "kiss it"? You're only hearing about it, not suffering through it.

From "Clinton scandal: Privates on parade as sex harassment case turns ugly" (November 7, 1997):
[Paula Jones's] lawyers have... named... women believed to be former girlfriends of the President, including Gennifer Flowers. She is the woman named during the 1992 election campaign as his long-time mistress, who has steadfastly refused to speak against him.

The strategy is two-fold: to show "a pattern of behaviour" in Mr Clinton's past and to demonstrate the veracity of an affidavit Ms Jones reportedly swore when she first brought her case three years ago that could prove her case. In the affidavit, Ms Jones apparently describes "distinguishing characteristics" of Mr Clinton's "genital area".

Last month, it seemed the puzzle of the distinguishing characteristics had been solved, when newspapers quoted "sources" as saying she referred to a curvature of the President's erect penis - a phenomenon said to be caused by Peyronie's disease. The theory was backed up by more "informed sources" saying that Mr Clinton had been tested for this condition during his annual medical examination the previous week.
Did we ever find out if Bill Clinton is really bent like that? The Onion had the story in 2005: "Bill Clinton Finally Just Shows America His Penis." Funny, right? It was 2005, and #MeToo hadn't clicked in yet. But time's up now. And it's not funny anymore.

ADDED: You may have reached the end of this post with the question what is "distinctive" about Trump's genitalia. And good for you if you didn't. What a fine person you are! If you did, you don't have to by Stormy's book to get the answer. The NY Post has it. Should I just send you there, or should I quote "He knows he has an unusual penis... It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…like the mushroom character in Mario Kart"?

Hillary, I will accept your good faith on this subject if you will do just one thing first: Denounce your husband.

I cannot watch the video without screaming at the screen. Having turned it off after a few seconds, I will blog from the text:
MADDOW: “If the Brett Kavanaugh nomination is now hurdling into the suns..."
"Hurdling" or "hurtling"? Is the nomination running on its own and jumping over obstacles or has it been thrown with great force?
"... which is what I think, and that’s just my take on it. I don’t know if that will be proven right or wrong, there is the question about how the Senate should handle this matter going forward. I mean, there is this screwy precedent now where Republicans would not let President Obama fill an opening on the Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Scalia for nearly a year until they got another shot at the White House in the 2016 election. Some Republican senators during the election campaign said that if you were elected in 2016, they fully intended to hold that seat open for all four years if necessary to give a Republican another shot at holding it. Given that extreme recent history, do you think that Democrats should play that kind of hardball too, be prepared to use those kinds of tactics so as not to be sort of the Patsy being pushed around on this, or do you think Democrats should just go through regular order with whoever Trump has to put up next if the Kavanaugh nomination fails?”
(Funny to capitalize "Patsy."*) But that's a great, well-framed question by Rachel Maddow. I just have a problem with the interlocutor, Hillary Clinton, who worked hard to push back the women who accused her husband. She has no credibility on this issue. Make her talk about Juanita Broaddrick first!
CLINTON: “What I would like to see is a democratic majority that actually has the chance to make that choice right now the Democrats have very few tools at their disposal to stop the Republicans from going full speed ahead and engaging in the kind of unprecedented behavior as they did with the Garland nomination. So I’m not in favor of either unilateral disarmament or Defcon-10."
I had to look up "Defcon-10." Urban Dictionary, with lots of down votes, says it means "awesome." Wikipedia has an entry for "Defcon," showing levels of military readiness that begin at 5, the lowest level, normal readiness, and go up to 1 — "maximum readiness," "imminent nuclear war."

Why would Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, say "Defcon-10"? What is that, one tenth of normal readiness?! Does she not know Defcon is a 5-point scale and that the lower the number, the more intense the situation? Saying "Defcon-10" is stupider than saying "It goes up to 11" or "I support him 1,000%," because she not only got the scale wrong, she had it going in the wrong direction.
"I think there has to be some effort to try to get back to regular order, try to get back to having a system, a process in place so that we are not subjected to the hardball behavior of the Republicans.... I mean, there can’t be one set of rules for Democrats and one set of rules for Republicans...."
That is, we need to play hardball, because they play hardball. We'd be foolish to unilaterally disarm.
That’s one of the reasons why people don’t have any confidence in the Congress. How can you? You don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day. I remember back in the Thomas hearing when senator bird...
Patsy Bird?!
... was asked what he was going to do....
"He" = him:
... and he said in a situation like this we should give the benefit of the doubt to the court and the country. And that’s what the Republicans should be doing right now, from the White House down Pennsylvania avenue to the Senate, give the benefit of the doubt to the court and the country. And that means have an investigation that will then lead to a hearing that will then lead to a vote if appropriate.
This is the new move of the Democrats: After Republicans acceded to a hearing, they demanded an investigation. To be followed by hearing. And with the words "a vote if appropriate," Hillary reveals the planned goal: There will never be a vote. Make that happen.
And instead, they are playing the hardest of hardballs...
They are playing hardball. You're playing, what? Rope a dope?
... to try to pack the court with, you know, another nominee, regardless of the questions....
Everyone is always trying to pack the Court. The other side will always have more questions. It's challenging to play from the down position, but the Democrats are trying. It's working pretty well too!

But do I need to hear from Hillary on this subject?

That's — and I'm choosing my words carefully — looney tunes.


* "Patsy" is a common noun. It means, to quote the unlinkable OED, "A person who is easily taken advantage of, esp. by being deceived, cheated, or blamed for something; a dupe, a scapegoat." But it originated as a proper noun, in the context of — surprise! — a minstrel show:
1889 H. F. Reddall Fact, Fancy & Fable 404 A party of minstrels in Boston, about twenty years ago, had a performance... When the pedagogue asked in a rage, ‘Who did that?’, the boys would answer, ‘Patsy Bolivar!’... The phrase..spread beyond the limits of the minstrel performance, and when a scapegoat was alluded to, it was in the name of ‘Patsy Bolivar’..the one who is always blamed for everything.
My favorite "patsy" quote is — "Patsy" being a nickname for Patti/Patty — something Patti Smith sang about Patty Hearst:
And I was standin' there in front of that flag
With a car bomb between my legs
You know, I felt so free of death beyond me
I felt so free, the F.B.I. is looking for me baby
But they'll never gonna find me, no
They can hunt me down like a dog
And I will stay on the run
And they can speculate what I'm feelin'
But daddy, daddy, you'll never know just what I was feelin'
But I'll tell you
I am no little pretty little rich girl
I am nobody's million dollar baby
I am nobody's patsy anymore
I'm nobody's million dollar baby
I'm nobody's patsy anymore
And I feel so free...
And now the F.B.I. is looking for Brett Kavanaugh... in the Democrats' dream. Well, 60 days ago, he was such a lovely child...

AND: I had a feeling I'd riffed on "patsy" before. Here: "Let's look at the word 'patsy' — used yesterday by Donald Trump to describe the United States" — back in 2015. Look how similar my stream of consciousness was, complete with Patti Smith. BUT: In the old post, I had Lee Harvey Oswald. That was suggested by Meade though, and didn't come out of my stream of consciousness. My stream got diverted.

A montage I'd like to see on YouTube: TV characters watching TV and talking about how TV is like or not like real life.

For example, in "Friends," the friends are watching TV, and the character Joey — who is an actor (played, of course, by an actor) — says: "It really hit me last night. I'm gonna be on 'Days of our Lives.' And then I started thinkin' about all of you, and how these are the days of our lives.”

That's from "The One With the Lesbian Wedding" in Season 2. As you may know, I've been given the box set of the complete episodes of "Friends" and I am watching them all. Here's the uncut script of that episode.

There must be a hundred examples of characters on TV watching TV and speaking as if they are real people and saying something about the TV/reality distinction, giving us the joke of seeing them on TV while we're here in reality. For all I know, there's a sitcom where the characters are watching that episode of "Friends" and hearing and commenting on that very line "these are the days of our lives."

Could somebody else collect all those examples and make a montage for me?

By the way, back in the 90s, that line would be called "going meta," and it was a very popular comic device. Maybe it got overused and trite and was largely abandoned, and I'm liking it in a kind of retro-throwback-ironic way. Nostalgic for going meta?! What a concept!

There's other going meta just in that episode. For example, Marlo Thomas is playing Jennifer Aniston's character's mother, and Marlo ("Mrs. Green") keeps enthusing about how she wants to live like her daughter ("Rachel") — single, free, in NYC. This involves getting a divorce from Rachel's father. Rachel says, "Couldn't she have just copied my haircut?" That's funny because in real life, the Rachel haircut was the rage. A photograph of Rachel was probably the most-shown-to-a-hairstylist photograph ever.

If you think too much about "going meta" you'll be ready to close the door on it again too. Go ahead, shut that door. It's over there. In the fourth wall.

Ever have one of those Facebook exchanges that make you think, I need to stay out of Facebook for a good long time?

I have!

I'm used to being the blogger, and readers come to me, and they comment here. Over on Facebook, I'm a passive reader and an occasional commenter. I do very bland posts of my own sometimes, mostly of the here's-how-Lake-Mendota-looked-today kind.

I should probably never comment on a political thread (other than my son John's posts, which are feel very much like a blog I'd love to read outside of Facebook). But I do sometimes see awful things that other people have written and feel called to say, for example, as I wrote yesterday (not on one of John's posts), "Eliminationist rhetoric. Humans visualized as insects. Is this where you want to go?"

The response I got from this person made me want to sign off Facebook and never look back.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
So there's some insect-related hot button so far unrevealed.
Thanks for prompting me to add my "insect politics" tag.

September 18, 2018

At the All-For-Naught Café...

... gnaw on anything but Kavanaugh.

About the Kavanaugh accusation, Trump says "I don't want to play into their hands."

I think the Democrats believed the Kavanaugh accusation would play out differently, that Republicans would resist and obstruct, but Trump saw how they were playing and chose not "to play into their hands."

Here's the quote in context:

"I feel so badly for him that he's going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not a man that deserves this... this should have been brought up long ago and that's what you have hearings for, you don't wait until the hearing is over and then all of a sudden bring it up. When Senator Feinstein sat with Judge Kavanaugh for a long period of time a long, long meeting. She had this letter, why didn't she bring it up? Why didn't she bring it up then? Why didn't the Democrats bring it up then? Because they obstruct and because they resist. That's the name of their campaign against me. Resist. And they just obstruct. And, frankly, I think they're lousy on policy and in many ways they're lousy politicians, but they're very good on obstruction. And it's a shame. Because this is a great gentleman. With all of that, I feel that the Republicans, and I can speak for myself, we should go through a process, because there shouldn't even be a little doubt. There shouldn't be a doubt. Again, they knew what they were doing. They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don't want to play into their hands."

You can think about how the hand would have played out if the Republicans had been the ones to "obstruct and... resist." I think that's what the Democrats pictured, when they waited until after the hearings: "They did it now." Trump sees that as a deliberate play, and he's not going to let it work the way they planned. After what they did... "we should go through a process." That's surprising. Now, what are they to do?

I think they are scrambling. Today, we see that the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, might not appear at the scheduled hearing — "Kavanaugh’s Accuser Has Yet to Confirm Appearance at Monday Hearings" (NYT):
The mysterious silence from Dr. Blasey and her lawyers was another turn in a drama that has gripped the Capitol since Thursday....

Dr. Blasey, thrust suddenly into a spotlight that she never sought, has been inundated with vulgar email and social media messages, and even death threats.... Dr. Blasey, who has two teenagers, has moved out of her house, is arranging for private security for herself and her family, and is effectively in hiding, [an unnamed person close to her told the NYT]....

Democrats and Republicans, meanwhile, are clashing over the scope and shape of the hearings. Mr. Grassley said Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey would be the only witnesses, prompting pushback from top Democrats, who are demanding an F.B.I. investigation to search for additional witnesses or evidence, and to avoid the specter of a “he said, she said” debate that will not get at the truth.

One possible witness is a friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s, Mark Judge, who Dr. Blasey said was in the room with Judge Kavanaugh when the assault occurred. Mr. Judge had told the Judiciary Committee that he does not remember the episode and has nothing more to say, seemingly foreclosing the possibility of an additional witness interview, at least for now.
He could be asked about his problems with alcohol-induced amnesia, his observation of Kavanaugh's drinking, and any alcohol-induced amnesia he saw in Kavanaugh, and he could be pressured to admit that he's unreliable as a witness to the nonoccurrence of any event from his heavy-drinking years.
“We have two diametrically opposed stories,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said on the Senate floor. “My view: Professor Ford is telling the truth. But if you don’t want the hearing to be just a ‘he said, she said’ affair, an independent investigation, a background check by the F.B.I., is essential.... We must not repeat the mistakes of the Anita Hill hearings,” he said. “They were rushed, and they were a debacle.”
That is, once the hearing was scheduled, Democrats switched to saying they didn't want it. And Blasey (Ford) seems to have become unavailable. Going public with the accusation now looks a bit like a bluff. But — not wanting to play into their hands — the bluff was called. And now they want a new deal: an independent investigation. Trump rejected that (in the clip above).

Anita Hill has been brought in, with an op-ed in the NYT, saying the Clarence Thomas hearings were not done right and the Senate needs to handle the woman's allegations about sexual misconduct properly this time. She says "The job of the Senate Judiciary Committee is to serve as fact-finders, to better serve the American public, and the weight of the government should not be used to destroy the lives of witnesses who are called to testify." But her idea of fact-finding is not for the Senators to question Blasey directly, according to Hill, who says:
Select a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases that will investigate the incident in question and present its findings to the committee. Outcomes in such investigations are more reliable and less likely to be perceived as tainted by partisanship. Senators must then rely on the investigators’ conclusions, along with advice from experts, to frame the questions they ask Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey. Again, the senators’ fact-finding roles must guide their behavior. The investigators’ report should frame the hearing, not politics or myths about sexual assault.
So the new hand has been dealt. How do you not play into that? I'm using Trump's idiom. If it seems wrong, let's talk about that.

ADDED: This post caused me to do a fair amount of research into the phrase "play into their hands." I'm not sure what the original metaphor is, but you can see from the post that I assumed it was poker. Anyway, the phrase means to do something that unwittingly advantages your opponent.

In my search, I ran across the phrase in the famous and tragically hilarious NYT article "The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru/How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age" (May 2016):
With three hours to go until the president’s address to Congress, Rhodes grabs a big Gatorade and starts combing through the text of the State of the Union address. I peek over his shoulder, to get a sense of the meta-narrative that will shape dozens of thumb-suckers in the days and weeks to follow. One sentence reads: "But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands." He retypes a word, then changes it back, before continuing with his edit. "Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks, twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages — they pose an enormous danger to civilians; they have to be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence."
AND: Something new from Dianne Feinstein, about Blasey: "I can’t say everything’s truthful. I don’t know."

Later, she said, “Look I believe she is credible... But based on what I know at this stage she is credible,” which doesn't explicitly walk back the idea that maybe not everything Blasey said is true.

But then Feinstein came back with a sledgehammer: "During every step of this process, I’ve found every single piece of information from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford eminently credible, sincere and believable. She knew this would have a huge effect on her life and she was incredibly brave to come forward."

PLUS: Just last August, Dana Milbank (at WaPo) had a column titled "Journalists are playing into Trump’s hand":
Trump is making us the story by making us the in-house villain of his rallies.... My colleagues’ instinct has been to fight back. During a live stand-up from Trump’s Tampa rally this week, CNN’s Jim Acosta was taunted by the crowd, which had been chanting “fake news,” “go home” and “CNN sucks.” Said Acosta: “We’re staying right here. We’re going to do our job and report on this rally to all of our viewers here tonight.”

A noble sentiment, but better to “go home” — so Trump can’t use the scenes to his benefit. Eric Trump retweeted video of Trump supporters chanting “CNN sucks” at Acosta during his stand-up, adding the hashtag #Truth. The president retweeted his son....

Stop letting him make us the story.
UPDATE: I just heard on the Tucker Carlson show that Blasey has announced that she will not testify until after an independent investigation is done.

Hating trains because of "the feeling that I was running along tracks that had already been laid down."

"I could see the rails stretching in front of me — school, university, career. I could picture myself as one of those people jam-packed in a rush-hour train. I wanted to derail myself."

That's the opinion of Yusaku Maezawa, who, as a student at a Tokyo high school, got fed up with the hour and a half train commute. He absconded to Santa Monica, California, skateboarded and played punk rock music 6 months, then returned to Japan to market T-shirts and CDs and enough other things to became a billionaire.

Now, that hater of riding on tracks has bought all the seats SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket's trip around the moon. The ship leaves in 2023. (WaPo.)
The interstellar trip is all part of Maezawa’s grand project, which he has named Dear Moon. His plan is to bring with him six to eight artists from various disciplines, including film, architecture, painting, sculpture and photography, with the goal that upon their return to Earth they create works inspired by the experience....

“There are so many artists with us today that I wish could create amazing works of art for humankind, for children of the next generation.”... Maezawa said his team of artists will be recruited from around the world, adding, “If you should hear from me, please say yes and accept my invitation. Please don’t say no.”
What kind of artist would say yes? Who would say no... and why? You become part of his project, which he has already named. Dear Moon. You'd have to be a group project artist, and I'm thinking most artists are fiercely solitary. But you'll get a lot of publicity, and you only have to put up with being packed into a scary tube for a week. What the hell!!

"The profound sacred and spiritual meaning of the great music of the church must never be mixed with the transitory quality of rock and roll music."

"The former serves to lift men’s souls to higher levels of reality, and therefore to God. The latter so often plunges men’s minds into degrading and immoral depths."

Wrote the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1957, in Ebony magazine, where he was writing as an advice columnist and answering a question from a 17-year-old who said he played gospel music and rock ’n’ roll" and wanted to know if that was okay. MLK said the 2 forms of music were "totally incompatible."

Quoted in "The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock/The genre has been disdained by the church and mocked by secular culture. That just reassured practitioners that they were rebels on a righteous path" by Kelefa Sanneh (The New Yorker).

I almost don't care in the slightest about the Emmys, and I barely watch any TV "shows"...

... but 2 of the things that I actually watched this past year won. There's RuPaul (for best reality show), seen here in a press conference after winning, and displaying great moderating and marketing expertise as well as a nice Statue-of-Liberty suit and bright orange shoes:

And "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" won for best comedy, best comedy actress, and best comedy supporting actress. Here's Rachel Brosnahan picking up the best actress award:

Don't know why I picked 2 shows that those who watched all the shows picked, because those are about the only current shows I watched.

"Today, in the internet age, anyone can be a Nigerian prince. In Mr. Abel’s time, however, the hoaxer’s art — involving intricate planning..."

"... hiring actors, donning disguises, printing official-looking letterheads, staging news conferences and having the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker — entailed, for better or worse, a level of old-time craftsmanship whose like will almost certainly not be seen again.... Mr. Abel’s first major hoax, the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, or SINA — which sought 'to clothe all naked animals that appear in public, namely horses, cows, dogs and cats, including any animal that stands higher than 4 inches or is longer than 6 inches' — began in 1959.... Over the next few years, the organization’s activities (including a 1963 picket of the White House by Mr. Abel, who demanded that the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, clothe her horses) were faithfully reported by news organizations, among them The Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and CBS News.... Then there was Omar’s School for Beggars, a New York City institution founded amid the recession of the 1970s, which claimed to teach the nouveau poor the gentle art of panhandling.... the subject of credulous coverage by many news outlets, including The Miami Herald and New York magazine.... There were also the Topless String Quartet, with which, Mr. Abel said, an unsuspecting Frank Sinatra wanted to book a recording session; the Ku Klux Klan Symphony Orchestra, which, he said, the failed presidential candidate and former Klan grand wizard David Duke briefly accepted an invitation to conduct; Females for Felons, a group of Junior Leaguers who selflessly donated sex to the incarcerated; the mass 'fainting' of audience members during a live broadcast of 'The Phil Donahue Show'; his 'discovery' (he posed as a former White House employee) of the missing 18½ minutes from the Watergate tapes; Euthanasia Cruises ('For people who wanted to expire in luxury,' Mr. Abel’s website recounted); Citizens Against Breastfeeding....  To some observers, Mr. Abel’s antics were a Rabelaisian delight. To others, especially members of the news media who had been taken in, they were an unalloyed menace."

From "Alan Abel, Hoaxer Extraordinaire, Is (on Good Authority) Dead at 94" (NYT).

The question that can destroy Brett Kavanaugh: Have you ever been so drunk you could not remember what happened?

Kavanaugh's accuser might never be able to provide a specific time and place for the alleged attack, and you may think Kavanaugh will do all right simply avowing that he has no memory of ever doing anything like that. That answer creates the occasion for any other woman to come forward and say he did something like that to me, and it will be relevant not just to his actions long ago, but his truthfulness in the present.

But the bigger problem is that Kavanaugh can only say he has no memory of something. And Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is telling us that he was very drunk, so maybe a failure to remember could be attributed to drinking. He could honestly testify to no memory of the incident, but still need to establish that he didn't have a memory blanked out by alcohol use. Now, since we're not going to hear of the specific time and place of the incident, Kavanaugh will need to say that he never, in that entire period, experienced alcohol-induced amnesia. (And what if he can only say I have no memory of losing my memory?!).

If Kavanaugh denies ever experiencing alcohol-induced amnesia during that period, anyone who hung out with him back then is a potential source of testimony that they saw him drunk and, especially damning, they had reason to know that he couldn't remember what he had done. Is there anybody who knew Kavanaugh in high school who has tales of things  Kavanaugh couldn't remember later? Did Kavanaugh ever have a discussion with anyone about alcohol-induced amnesia?

Once we get this far, you can see that whether Christine Blasey Ford's story is accurate or not, Monday's hearing can be used to trap Kavanaugh in lies, and then it's not a possible attempted rape from 30 years ago but perjury in the present.

Remember, the other person in the room, according to Ford, was Mark Judge, and Mark Judge seems inclined to corroborate Kavanaugh, but Judge is on record as a having been "completely annihilated" in high school. I'm reading that in HuffPo:
But Mark Judge, now a writer and filmmaker, wrote [a] memoir two decades ago... Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, of getting drunk his first time at age 14, binge drinking at teen parties and a struggle with alcoholism. His “immersion” into alcohol began the end of his sophomore year during a typical annual “beach week,” when Catholic high school students headed to the shore after school was out. “Now I had an opportunity to make some headway [with girls]. Most of the time everyone, including the girls, was drunk. If you could breathe and walk at the same time, you could hook up,” he wrote.

His drinking became so extreme that he had blackout episodes, and woke up on the floor of a restaurant bathroom with no memory of how he got there. Once “I had the first beer, I found it impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated,” he wrote.

Judge said last week he had no memory of the incident described by Kavanaugh’s accuser.
But Ford said Judge was extremely drunk, so how good is the inference that it didn't happen? It's also possible that Judge had one of his admitted episodes of alcohol-induced amnesia. You can use Judge's statement in whatever way you think is correct (and nothing stops you from using it to support the conclusion you like). On its surface it corroborates Kavanaugh's lack of memory, but it also can support an alcohol-induced amnesia theory.

If you want to go further down into this dark place, here's some more from that HuffPo article:
Judge’s book changes the name of his high school to “Loyola Prep,” and makes a glancing reference at a character he calls “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” A girl at a party, wrote Judge, asked him: “Do you know Bart O’Kavanaugh? I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.” Judge responds: “Yeah he passed out on his way back from a party.”

In his 2005 book God and Man at Georgetown Prep, Judge slammed his high school and the “insane liberalism” of Catholicism in the 1960s. He said the school was “overrun” by gay priests — part of the church’s “lavender mafia,” he later wrote in The Daily Caller — and was infused with alcohol.

“Only a person in denial still claims that something did not go terribly wrong in the Church after the 1960s, and that more often than not that thing was homosexual priests molesting teenage boys,“Judge wrote in the The Daily Caller in 2011. “My own take is that it had less to do with homosexuality than with the feverish libertinism of the 60s. Liberals have no interest in connecting the dots from liberalism to sexual abuse.... I’m guilty as well, at least of the bouts of dehumanizing lust that is part of the fallen world and being human ... we all have that monster to some extent.”