January 5, 2019

The top-rated comment on the WaPo column, "A freshman, a viral video and a profanity revive Trump impeachment talk."

"Kanye called himself a 'lazy mfer' in the Oval Office and trumpy and all his lackeys smile and giggle. trumpy uses vile, vulgar, smutty language and all his lackeys smile and giggle. Rep. Rashida Tlaibs [sic] says it and everyone gets the vapors! Can you say f-ng hypocritical?"


Isn't it to Trump's credit that only 3 have died in the National Parks during the shutdown?

The anti-Trumpism of The Washington Post is on display in "Three dead in national parks as shutdown wears on":
Three days after most of the federal workforce was furloughed on Dec. 21, a 14-year-old girl fell 700 feet to her death at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, part of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona. The following day, Christmas, a man died at Yosemite National Park in California after suffering a head injury in a fall. On Dec. 27, a woman was killed by a falling tree at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee.
It's not as if a federal worker would have been there to catch them. What is even the theoretical connection between the shutdown and these fatal falls?
The deaths follow a decision by Trump administration officials to leave the scenic — but sometimes deadly — parks open even as the Interior Department has halted most of its operations. During previous extended shutdowns, the National Park Service barred access to many of its sites across the nation.
Oh, I see. If only the parks were closed, they wouldn't have been there at all. This would argue in favor of permanently closing all the national parks because if people go there, they might die. But the real argument, thinly veiled, is that if only the parks were closed (like in past shutdowns), the shutdown would affect a lot of real people who could be shown complaining about their wrecked vacation.

Coddo Woddo.

My new favorite pronunciation of "Colorado." But only usable out loud by very young children. In my mind I'm pronouncing it "Coddo Woddo."

The swearing in of Kyrsten Sinema — beautifully distinctive — I approve!

Why not draw attention to yourself with fashion? I like this arrival with a splash so much nicer than the splash Mitt Romney chose to make, writing a peevish op-ed about Trump's "character" and preening as the unimpeachably serious adult in the chamber.

My favorite part of this is not the right-to-bare arms, but the fur. I assume it's fake fur, but it reminds me of the first time I saw Sarah Palin.

And then there's the swearing in on a volume of the Supreme Court reporter (which volume? the one with Roe v. Wade?).

ADDED: I'm obviously not endorsing the text of tweet with the bare arms photograph. I think it's very stupid. And I don't even know what "her bisexual lifestyle" is supposed to refer to. Conservatives bristling at the sight of young women are making fools of themselves.

AND: And here's Marilyn Monroe in glasses and a bit of fur in "How to Marry a Millionaire":

I didn't do it, but anyway, it's no big deal and Obama did it too.

January 4, 2019

At the Friday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Congresswoman attacked for dancing."

BBC reports.
A day before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was officially sworn-in, near decade-old footage of the congresswoman dancing as a student at Boston University re-emerged on Twitter, apparently in an effort to embarrass her....

"Here is America's favourite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is," one right-wing Twitter account, @AnonymousQ1776, wrote as they shared the clip. The account, which appears to reference the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, has since been removed.

"After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is forced out of office after one term she can go dance on a stage that has a pole," said another.
The attacks are so stupid I wonder if they're false flag, but I've seen enough to believe the AOC haters are this stupid.

"Speaking in a dimly lit room, Tlaib told a cheering crowd that she had told one of her young sons: 'We're going to impeach the motherf***er!'"

This is Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, widely celebrated as the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress.

Archaeologists find the temple of the Flayed Lord — Xipe Totec.

NPR reports.
"Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration"... The temple was recently uncovered in excavated ruins of the Popoloca Indians in the state of Puebla in central Mexico.... Authorities believe the victims who lost their skin were involved in gladiator-style combat and were later flayed.

"Average earnings climbed to $27.48 an hour."

That's up 3.2% in the 12 months (up from a 3.1% increase in November), NPR reports.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate jumped to 3.9 percent — the highest rate since August — as more people felt confident enough to quit their jobs and look for new ones....

"I’m a big fan of Sen. Harris, and I work with her. But she’s brand-new here, so it takes a little bit of time to get to know somebody."

Said Dianne Feinstein, endorsing Biden (L.A. Times):
“He has the experience, the drive, he was chairman of [the Senate Judiciary Committee] when I came” to the Senate, Feinstein said Thursday. “I worked with him closely on a number of different things. I have a great respect for his integrity as well as his ability. And I think experience is really important at this particular point, where our world is today.”
That's a very bland endorsement, based entirely and openly on the length of her personal relationship.

Can't be allowed?!

"Bernie Sanders' fans can't be allowed to poison another Democratic primary with personal attacks" — writes David Brock (at NBC News) with ludicrous disregard for the freedom of speech. And is Bernie's participation in the 2016 primaries to be characterized as personal attacks?
I'm hardly the only political observer who blames Hillary Clinton's general election defeat to Donald Trump in part on personal attacks on Clinton first made by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his backers. Those attacks from her left laid the groundwork for copycat attacks lobbed by Donald Trump....
Donald Trump, copycat?

The "personal attacks" Brock cites are — she got " $15 million from Wall Street through [her] super PAC," it was a problem her husband to be heading a foundation collecting money from foreign governments when she was Secretary of State, and she used the term "superpredators" and "everybody knew it was a racist term."

Much of this column is about protecting the image of Beto O'Rourke:
The real problem for Sanders' supporters seems to be that this "Kennedyesque golden boy," as one has derided O'Rourke, seems perfectly poised to steal Sanders' thunder among millennials and white liberals with his fresh energy and personal charisma....

We've seen this movie before: Sanders' assault on Clinton's progressive credentials were pernicious in large part because they were not about policy disputes at all, but rather intended to falsely impugn Hillary's character and integrity.
Falsely? What was false in Bernie's attacks on Hillary? I don't think Bernie gave Trump material that Trump wouldn't have found for himself.

"I am particularly proud to be the woman Speaker of the House of this Congress, which marks 100 years of women winning the right to vote, as we serve with more than 100 women in the House of Representatives – the highest number in history."

Says Nancy Pelosi in her remarks on the opening of the 116th Congress.

"So now the slander on my name is all homophobia. So now I’m a little upset. Because I know who I am. I know I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body."

Said Kevin Hart to Ellen DeGeneres, who backs him up:
“There are so many haters out there on the internet,” DeGeneres told Hart. “Don’t pay attention to them... You can’t let them destroy you.... I think it’s perfect that all this happened... Because there has to be a conversation about homophobia... You’ve grown, you’ve apologized, you’re apologizing again right now, you’ve done it. Don’t let those people win, host the Oscars."
They still need a host, but should Hart reverse his decision? Watch the clips at the link. I think the stronger position for him is to resist them, unless they truly crawl.
“We’re back with this year’s Oscar host Kevin Hart,” DeGeneres joked after [a] commercial break.... He said he would be “evaluating” his decision to step down, but still seemed aggrieved over the “malicious attack” on his character.... 
He should be aggrieved! I'd love to hear how he talks about all this when he's not in the warm, fuzzy Ellen DeGeneres showcase. She did a fine job with her role, but notice how she's acting like she's boosting his self-esteem and challenging him, as if he needs to step up and be a winner. I think the people who drove him out are now exposed as the losers, so sticking to his decision isn't "letting them win."

ADDED: Ellen is getting flak for defending Hart.

January 3, 2019

At the Front Row Café...


... come in and sit down.

(And may I remind you of the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy what you might happen to need?)

Trump said, "The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there."

I'm reading that at "Warren Endorses Afghanistan Withdrawal As Trump Spews Soviet Propaganda About the Country" (Reason).

Is anyone defending Trump's statement? I'd like to hear something substantial. It's Soviet propaganda seems to be a kneejerk reaction. I'm withholding judgment other than to say maybe Trump means "They were right" from their own perspective, taking their national interests seriously, which seems to be generally what he says other countries should be doing as he puts his own country's interests first.

ADDED: Here's Elizabeth Warren talking about Syria and Afghanistan with Rachel Maddow last night:

"... feel the whole chicken carcasses of flavor..."

I'm a fan of imported Japanese ramen, including the roughly translated descriptions like this:
Cup noodles of "NichiShinrao" is, has been well received and enjoy the taste and eat meet preeminent thick slice pork, such as there was no instant noodles until now "like raw noodles". Tsurumi, waist and thick straight noodles Motchiri and the texture of the feature,. Deep flavor based on the pig bone plain hot water extract to feel the whole chicken carcasses of flavor, plus the taste, garlic aroma is rich pork bone soup of features.
ADDED: The link above goes to Amazon, but the ramen we ordered came from ZenPop. Here's what they sent us from Osaka for about $30:


I went to ZenPop after seeing a vlog that I can't remember well enough to link for you.

Trump tweaks Warren with a very simple visual.

ADDED: Something about the comments got me thinking about anagrams, and "Elizabeth Warren" yields an amazing number of anagrams. But what caught my eye are the anagrams with "ale," because I've long loved the anagram for my own name, "Nun's Oath Ale." I mean, I love it so much, I'd like to manufacture it! Anyway, there's "ale" in the "Elizabeth Warren" letters, so let's see what we have. I'm choosing Brazen Writhe Ale.

Uh oh, now I'm seeing the potential for beer. Oh! But there is exactly one anagram, and it's a terrible product name: Hernia Waltz Beer. And wasn't that a hernia waltz the other day, Elizabeth Warren, in her kitchen, getting her some beer?

You've got to feel for her, but then... not enough to want to hand her the Presidency.

"I don’t necessarily feel hated. I feel respected. They wouldn’t come after me if I were not effective."

"I consider myself a master legislator. Republicans fear me for that, but also because I am a successful fundraiser, enabling our candidates to have the resources they need to win. So from a political standpoint they have to take me down, and from an official standpoint they have to take me down. But I’m spending more time talking about it right now than I ever have thinking about it.

Said Nancy Pelosi, interviewed in Elle.

Goodbye to Officer Judy, Super Dave Osborne, Marty Funkhouser — Bob Einstein.

The comic actor who entertained us for half a century has died at the age of 76.
After spending some time in the advertising industry, he began his television career as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and in 1969 won his first prime time Emmy. He went on to write for the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and the Canadian sketch comedy show, Bizarre. But his second Emmy came in 1977, as a producer for Van Dyke and Company....

Einstein played a slew of oddball characters on many of the variety shows he wrote for and produced, but it was Super Dave Osborne, an accident-prone stuntman who was a send-up of Evil [sic] Knievel, that made the writer-turned-actor a star. And it eventually led to his own TV show from 1987 to 1991 on Showtime called simply Super Dave. He revived the character for Spike TV (now called Paramount Network) in 2009 for Super Dave's SpikeTacular.

In more recent years, he developed a new fan base appearing as Marty Funkhouser, Larry David's self-proclaimed best friend on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Larry Middleman, a surrogate for the family patriarch on Arrested Development.
There are so many great clips of Einstein. I'll just highlight the role that first made me love him — Officer Judy on The Smothers Brothers:

Goodbye to The Captain.

"He was a brilliant musician with many friends who loved him greatly. I was at my most creative in my life, when I was with him," said Tennille, who was by his side when he passed away.

To ward off colds and flu... meditate?

The Wisconsin State Journal reports on a UW-Madison study:
The study divided 390 adults into three groups. One group took an eight-week meditation class, another group took an eight-week exercise class and the third group did neither. All received flu shots.

From fall to spring, the meditation group had 112 respiratory infection episodes, for which they missed 73 days of work. The exercise group had 120 episodes and missed 82 days of work. The control group had 134 episodes and missed 105 days of work.
I'm surprised at how many illnesses there were. I wonder what would have happened if the exercise group had exercised alone, as opposed to in a class where germs could be spread, but the meditation people were also in a class, and the control group seems not to have had to gather together with potential germ-spreaders.

"[W]hile many German journalists report honestly from this country, going to great lengths to travel and meet ordinary people..."

"... the gun-toting, death-penalty-seeking, racist American nonetheless remains a stock character of much superficial coverage, particularly in left-leaning outlets such as Hamburg-based Der Spiegel. Ugly Americans, and American ugliness, crop up repeatedly in [the fake reporting of Claas Relotius]... [O]n the outskirts of rural Fergus Falls, Minn., a majority of whose voters backed President Trump in 2016, Relotius purportedly found a large sign — 'almost impossible to overlook,' he wrote — reading 'Mexicans Keep Out.' The fact that no one in the U.S. press or social media had previously spotted the sign apparently did not prompt so much as a follow-up call to Fergus Falls by Der Spiegel’s editors. They believed what they found believable. Their credulousness was rooted partly in truth — xenophobia, gun violence and the rest are real problems in the United States, just as anti-foreigner violence was, and is, in Germany. But it also reflected bias: Contempt for American culture has a long history among the continental European cognoscenti, the sort of people who read Der Spiegel and write for it."

Writes WaPo's Charles Lane in a column that I read because the headline evoked my contempt for the American mainstream press —  "I thought fraud in reporting was done for. I was wrong."

The headline makes him sound like a naif, and that is supported by some of the text. Lane was the editor in chief of The New Republic when it was humiliated by the Stephen Glass scandal in the 1990s. But after the Jack Kelley and Jayson Blair scandals in the early 2000s, Lane says he thought, "Surely computer-aided fact-checking would deter fraud." That still doesn't support the headline, because to deter something doesn't mean it's over. Lane confesses, "my hope was naive. Reporters keep inventing stories and getting prizes for them."

Why, with all the accusations of "fake news" these days, would you snuggle up inside a hope that computer-facilitated fact-checking was preventing fraudulent reporting? You can see in the quoted passage above that the bad stories get published because human beings are involved in the process. They have to read critically and get suspicious about things that don't sound true before they do the work of checking. But the editors get excited by things they want to publish — the things that serve their interests and that confirm their fears and hopes. Ironically, it was Charles Lane's hope that made him slack off in maintaining skepticism about whether fraudulent reporting was still going on. And this is the man who got burned by the Stephen Glass fiasco!

They made a movie about it:

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe lands on the far side of the moon.

"It's an important milestone for China's space exploration," said Wu Weiren, designer of the program, quoted in Reuters.

"In South Korea, Queen-related events are being held across the country... Queen’s songs are taking over South Korean national television as well..."

"A major broadcaster replayed the 1985 Live Aid concert in December, while young singers from the nation’s enormously popular K-pop bands, who were not even born when Mercury died, staged a tribute ensemble in a televised year-end show. In Tokyo, the movie ['Bohemian Rhapsody'] is discussed endlessly in company cafeterias, bars and restaurants. Fans share their favorite scenes, including those that made them weep, and even trade tips on which movie theaters allow people to stand up, sing and dance along with the songs. That in itself is quite something in reserved Japan, where moviegoers usually sit in absolute silence, even through the credits at the end of films."

From "Bohemian Rhapsody fever sweeps Japan and South Korea" (WaPo).

January 2, 2019

At the Second Day Cafe...

... how’s the new year going for you?

"Jill Abramson, the veteran journalist who led the newspaper from 2011 to 2014, says the Times has a financial incentive to bash the president and that the imbalance is helping to erode its credibility...."

"Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. 'The more "woke" staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,' she writes [in her forthcoming book 'Merchants of Truth']. Trump claims he is keeping the 'failing' Times in business—an obvious exaggeration—but the former editor acknowledges a 'Trump bump' that saw digital subscriptions during his first six months in office jump by 600,000, to more than 2 million. 'Given its mostly liberal audience, there was an implicit financial reward for the Times in running lots of Trump stories, almost all of them negative: they drove big traffic numbers and, despite the blip of cancellations after the election, inflated subscription orders to levels no one anticipated.'"

From "Former NY Times editor rips Trump coverage as biased" by Howard Kurtz (Fox News).

"This is what the Trump playbook looks like when it comes from the left."

"I discovered a love for cooking and working with ingredients when I started cooking for myself after becoming vegan, and I noticed that I used my stump naturally as a kitchen tool - a juicer, a masher, as a spatula..."

"... you name it! This whole process helped me fall in love with this awesome part of myself that I had kind of forgotten about in my adulthood (yes, sometimes I even forget I have one hand!) I also swear, wear sweatpants, and don't give a shit about dropping or burning stuff!"

From a Metafilter post about Alexis Hillyard, which links to her YouTube page, "Stump Kitchen." The video that autoplays when you click on that last link illustrates the proposition in the quote. Here's a more sustained video, "Episode 1: Gluten free vegan waffles":

"Whether the speaker is a drawling Spacey in character as a secretly homicidal sociopath or a comedian who styled himself as a postmillennial cross between John Cassavetes and Alan Alda..."

"... while he was whipping it out every chance he got, a horrible truth still emerges. These types of guys thrive on attention, and if they can’t get the positive kind, they’ll settle for the negative. 'Oh, sure, they’ve tried to separate us,' Spaceywood said, inadvertently speaking for Louis C.K. as he emerged from his alt-right chrysalis and flapped his moth wings in Levittown. 'But what we have is too strong. It’s too powerful.' Unless it isn’t. This concludes the last thing I’ll ever write about Kevin Spacey or Louis C.K., until they’re sentenced in courts of law, or I have to write their obituaries."

Writes Matt Zoller Seitz in "The Real Louis C.K. Is Finally Standing Up" (The Vulture). So he's saying that even if there are court proceedings, including trials with witness testimony and announcements of jury verdicts, he won't write a word? He'll wait for the sentencing stage?

The idea is that Spacey and C.K. just want attention, so don't feed them, or you're part of the problem. I remember when I tried that with Trump. But silence is not like yelling. One person's silence only enhances the speech opportunities of other people. Yelling, you might drown other people out, but shutting up doesn't work like that.

"No other country in the world symbolizes the decline of the American empire as much as Afghanistan."

"There is virtually no possibility of a military victory over the Taliban and little chance of leaving behind a self-sustaining democracy — facts that Washington’s policy community has mostly been unable to accept.... The heavily Pashtun Taliban, an accessory to the Sept. 11 hijackings, continues to make battlefield gains and, if there are actual peace negotiations, is poised to share power with the American-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, if not eventually replace it. The United States’ special adviser to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is trying to broker a diplomatic solution that allows the United States to draw down its forces without the political foundation in Kabul disintegrating immediately.... An enterprising American diplomat, backed by a coherent administration, could try to organize an international peace conference involving Afghanistan and its neighbors, one focused on denying terrorist groups a base in South-Central Asia. It is the kind of project that Henry Kissinger, Richard Holbrooke, James Baker III or George Shultz would have taken up in their day. But it is not something anyone can reasonably expect this administration, as chaotic, understaffed and incompetent as it is, to undertake, especially with the departure of Mr. Mattis...."

Writes Robert D. Kaplan in "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan/The United States is spending beyond its means on a mission that might only be helping its strategic rivals" (NYT)(I put in the boldface).

Harry Reid "does not have long to live. I hate to be so abrupt about this, but Reid probably would not mind."

Writes Mark Leibovich in "Harry Reid Has a Few Words for Washington/The former Senate majority leader on President Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer, and on why he doesn’t regret ending the filibuster for judicial appointment" (NYT Magazine).
In May, he went in for a colonoscopy, the results of which caused concern among his doctors. This led to an M.R.I. that turned up a lesion on Reid’s pancreas: cancer. Reid’s subdued and slightly cold manner, and aggressive anticharisma, have always made him an admirably blunt assessor of situations, including, now, his own: “As soon as you discover you have something on your pancreas, you’re dead.”...

Reid once called the Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan a “political hack,” Justice Clarence Thomas “an embarrassment” and President George W. Bush a “loser” (for which he later apologized) and a “liar” (for which he did not). In 2016, he dismissed Trump as “a big fat guy” who “didn’t win many fights.” Reid himself was more than ready to fight, and fight dirty: “I was always willing to do things that others were not willing to do,” he told me.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, he claimed, with no proof, that Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes over the past decade....
Leibovich asks Reid if he agreed with James Comey's likening of Trump to a mafia boss:
“Organized crime is a business,” he told me, “and they are really good with what they do. But they are better off when things are predictable. In my opinion, they do not do well with chaos. And that’s what we have going with Trump.”

Still, Reid added: “Trump is an interesting person. He is not immoral but is amoral. Amoral is when you shoot someone in the head, it doesn’t make a difference. No conscience.” There was a hint of grudging respect in Reid’s tone, which he seemed to catch and correct. “I think he is without question the worst president we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ve had some bad ones, and there’s not even a close second to him.” He added: “He’ll lie. He’ll cheat. You can’t reason with him.” Once more, a hint of wonder crept into his voice, as if he was describing a rogue beast on the loose in a jungle that Reid knows well....
Reid takes an anthropological interest in the changes that Trump has wrought on his old institution. “You can’t legislate when you have a chief executive who’s weird, for lack of a better description,” he told me...

I asked him if he could identify at all with Trump’s dark worldview. “I disagree that Trump is a pessimist,” Reid said, as if to allow him that mantle would be paying him an undeserved compliment. “I think he’s a person who is oblivious to the real world.”...

“As has been written since I left,” he told me, “I was kind of a strange guy.”
Also interesting — his relationship with Chuck Schumer:
In our conversation, Reid seemed incapable of not constantly reminding me that he did not wish to talk about Schumer, as if this itself was something he wanted me to emphasize. “I do not call Schumer,” he told me. Then: “I call him once in a while — not weekly. Let’s say monthly I may call him.” This sounded straightforward enough until he added: “I talk to Nancy often. I love Nancy Pelosi. We did so many good things, and we still talk about that.” ...

January 1, 2019

New year, new snow...


A rape revenge fantasy from Ellen Barkin.

Oh, my. I guess she meant it figuratively, but this is awful speech. Maybe she thinks it's okay because it's just not funny. Meanwhile, Louis CK was funny while saying awful things, as noted in this post yesterday. Some other Louis CK-related tweeting I'm seeing this morning:


ADDED: Did the all caps bother you? It bothered Chris Cillizza: "Typing in all caps is a very good and very presidential way to calm people down!"

A fresh view, from the doorstep...


... I like the look of this 2019 place. Bright and cushion-y!

"#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball...if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger."

Tweeted the US Strategic Command, which is in charge of America's nuclear weaponry. The tweet was subsequently detected to have entered the zone of bad taste and deleted.

The NYT looks for the Democratic Party candidate who "matches the moment," tells us what this "moment" is, and nudges the non-moment-matching would-bes to stay out of the way.

"It is hard to recall a recent presidential primary where, at the outset of the race, there was this much genuine mystery — not only about who would eventually emerge as the nominee, but who planned to run at all," write Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in "2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Lining Up. Who Matches the Moment?" (NYT):
Ms. Warren’s announcement Monday was expected. And it will not be a surprise when Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California enter the race in the coming weeks. But the number of would-be candidates who may ultimately stay out of the race is larger than the list of contenders who are certain to run.

There are the well-known, or at least much-buzzed-about, Democrats who are still deliberating: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the most prominent of this group, and leads the field in initial polling in Iowa. But there is also great anticipation over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the runner-up for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, whose losing Senate bid this year electrified many grass-roots Democrats.

It is unclear if any of these men will enter the race — particularly Mr. Biden, who, associates say, is ambivalent about running after over three decades of presidential fits and starts.
It's a subtle pushback to the Bernie-Beto-Biden triad, but it is — as I see it — another NYT pushback to the 3 white men who ought to know better than to clutter the path of The Foursome. And we can see who the expendable member of The Foursome is, because they've left her name out of this article altogether.

Martin and Burns home in on Warren, who just announced she's in the running. She's early, but she's late:
Would she be the president today if she had run in 2016, as some liberal activists and admirers urged her to? Mr. Sanders ended up filling the void on the populist left and ran a surprisingly strong campaign against Hillary Clinton....

[T]he more recent history of presidential calculations suggests that candidates are wiser to run when the moment presents itself. That is what Mr. Obama did in 2008 after just four years in the Senate, the same period Ms. Warren would have served by 2016. Some Democrats think 2020 is Mr. O’Rourke’s moment: He has been in the House for just six years, but many liberals see his energy and freshness as inspiring.

One reason Ms. Warren announced on Monday and declared so early, her allies suggested, was to erase any uncertainty about her intentions among supporters whom she kept waiting — and ultimately disappointed — in 2016....

Timing is also crucial in presidential races because the issues can change so quickly. Mr. Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and policies around race and immigration have shifted the political conversation away from matters of economic inequality, which has been the life’s work of Ms. Warren and which defined much of the 2016 Democratic primary.
I think the reason why the NYT didn't mention the fourth member of The Foursome (Kirsten Gillibrand) was because they had to focus on Warren, given her announcement, and there's this idea that the "political conversation" has shifted from class consciousness to race consciousness. It's not a white-person "moment" anymore. "Who Matches the Moment?" says the headline, and the "moment" is, apparently, what Trump made it, with his "incendiary rhetoric and policies around race and immigration."

So Warren had her time, 2016, and she missed it, and let's not even mention that other white woman — or get derailed into the icky inquiry whether Warren is white — because the path needs clearing. Who knows how much white-person clutter could fall on the path the NYT would like to clear for — let's be honest — Kamala Harris?

The NYT is trying to be somewhat subtle, but it seems so obvious to me.

By the way, whatever happened to the rise of women, and why isn't the "moment" about #MeToo, which would vault Kirsten Gillibrand to the front?

"Letitia James, a Democrat, has made no secret that she intends to use her powers as New York’s attorney general to pursue possible legal action against President Trump."

"She calls him an 'illegitimate president.' She says her decision to run for attorney general was largely 'about that man in the White House who can’t go a day without threatening our fundamental rights.'... Her strident attacks on the president could potentially threaten the legal standing of cases that her office brings against Mr. Trump, his family members or their business interests, legal experts said.... In an interview, Ms. James defended her remarks about the president, adding that she believed that her race and gender were shaping what she characterized as assumptions and misconceptions about how she would perform as attorney general. Ms. James is the first woman in New York to be elected as attorney general, the first African-American woman to be elected to statewide office, and the first African-American to serve as attorney general. Before winning election, she was the New York City public advocate. 'This is similar to when I was about to take office as public advocate, and individuals expressed concerns,' Ms. James said. 'What I have done repeatedly throughout my life is I have been underestimated and have continued to perform.'"

From "N.Y.’s New Attorney General Is Targeting Trump. Will Judges See a ‘Political Vendetta?’" (NYT)

"There’s a risk to thinking about genes all the time."

"He was a semiprofessional loose cannon... We become prisoners of our own persona," said Nathaniel Comfort, a science historian at Johns Hopkins University, quoted in "James Watson Won’t Stop Talking About Race/The Nobel-winning biologist has drawn global criticism with unfounded pronouncements on genetics, race and intelligence. He still thinks he’s right, a new documentary finds" (NYT).


A great number! I love it. What have you done so far, making the new year great?

What's the first song you listened to? We listened to "Nowhere Man." Why? Because the Google Doodle today...

... reminded us of Jeremy Hillary Boob...

... the character in "Yellow Submarine" who is presented as "Nowhere Man."

December 31, 2018

Hey, happy New Year, everybody!

Thanks for hanging out — or just stopping by— here, tonight and any other night.

A toast to 2019! What a fantastic year.

And a toast to you, fantastic readers, fantastic commenters!

I hope to spend many fine 2019 moments with you, but for now, it’s the last sweet drops of 2018. Goodbye to a beautiful year. Enjoy every last lovely second.

Speaking of white men not "reflecting the gender and racial diversity" we've come to expect in liberal America — see previous post — look at what just came in the email from CNN?

No Kathy?! I knew that was happening, but they're not replacing her with a woman? There was a rumor that the replacement was going to be Leslie Jones (a black woman):
Griffin says she heard from a few different people a hosting rumor. “The hilarious @Lesdoggg (Leslie Jones) was in talks to co-host CNN’s New Year’s telecast with Anderson Cooper this year,” Griffin wrote. “I was elated when I heard this news. If I can’t get the gig, I will cheer for Leslie.”... But then Griffin says Jones was iced out of the hosting position...
So we have Andy Cohen, gleefully smiling as he grips his phallic-symbol bottle of popping champagne. I actually don't even know who Andy Cohen is, but that laughing face just makes me feel really bad about the ousting of Kathy. That picture looks like something from the days of Rowan and Martin. Smirking, self-pleased white men in tuxedos.

I've been seeing the simultaneous crushing of the white male triad — Bernie, Beto, Biden — and I get it, but what's with "Why the Bernie Movement Must Crush Beto O’Rourke"?

That's the headline for this Jonathan Chait piece (in NY Magazine).

2 days ago, I was strongly impressed by the NYT article that promoted the Senate Foursome (Harris, Gillibrand, Warren, and Booker) and, on their behalf, gave the BBB triad a shove:
For the Senate foursome, moving quickly into the race is also a pre-emptive effort to undercut the early advantages of a duo of universally known contenders, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who may enter the race in the coming months. Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders would start off with important advantages....

But as white men, Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders and Mr. O’Rourke do not reflect the gender and racial diversity of many Democratic candidates and swaths of the electorate that dominated the 2018 midterms. Ms. Harris, Ms. Warren, Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker, by contrast, would instantly make the 2020 Democratic field the most diverse array of presidential candidates in history. And they might well scramble the early polling leads held by Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders, who benefit from strong name recognition but would be in their late 70s by Election Day 2020, at a moment when some in the party are agitating for generational change....
So let's take a closer look at Chait's plan to get Bernie — or is it just his "movement"? — to crush Beto. (Maybe get the BBB triad to fight itself and leave The Foursome free to perform more appealing feats?)
[O'Rourke] has replicated aspects of Sanders’s appeal — his positivity and refusal to accept PAC money — while exceeding it in some ways. Sanders is charismatic in an unconventional way, the slovenly and cranky but somewhat lovable old uncle, while O’Rourke projects a classic handsome, toothy, Kennedy-esque charm that reliably makes Democrats swoon. Hard-core loyalists find the contrast irksome....

The frequently invoked comparisons between O’Rourke and [Obama] explain both O’Rourke’s wide appeal within the party ranks and the mistrust he has inspired on the far left. Socialists generally regard Obama as a failure....

Baffled liberals, many still nursing wounds from 2016, see the passionate intensity of the Bernie movement as a personality cult, propelled by unthinking devotion to him (or spite at the party that they believe rigged the primary against him). It is anything but. The socialist left belongs to Sanders simply because there is no other presidential candidate who meets their exacting ideological criteria. They see O’Rourke as a threat to their project because, in important ways, he is.
So, about that headline — "Why the Bernie Movement Must Crush Beto O’Rourke." I don't think it's Chait saying this is what he wants to happen. I think it expresses the point of view of "the Bernie Movement" (i.e., real socialists). The idea is that Beto (like Obama) isn't a real socialist and he's a threat to the socialist agenda, therefore those who care about socialism must get Beto defeated.

The NYT was trying to crush the BBB triad in one fell swoop, for the sake of The Foursome. Chait is talking about socialists getting a good footing as the race goes forward, and opining that it won't happen at all unless Bernie has that niche. Beto is blocking Bernie's access to the niche.

By the way, beginning with this post, I'm using Beto to refer to Beto O'Rourke. I generally use last names, but there are some exceptions, and one of them is Bernie, and I like grouping the 3 B's together —  Bernie, Beto, Biden. I made a new tag: the Bernie-Beto-Biden triad.

2018 was a great year for men's hair.

According to New York Magazine, with lots of pictures to make the point about what they are calling "heartthrob hair."

Elizabeth Warren is running for President.

Here's the announcement:

I haven't watched that yet. Will update to give my reactions.

ADDED: My second-by-second reactions:

0:06 — EW begins in a dreary, ordinary kitchen. Dark cupboards. I'm just going to guess this is her actual kitchen. She intones the middle-class code words, "work hard and play by the rules."

0:09 — She's momming about with a baby and a birthday cake.

0:14 — The cake says "Atticus" on it. Does EW have a grandchild named Atticus? Yes!

0:49 — EW's family were able to make it economically, but things are much more difficult for families today. Is that true? We're shown a chart that shows horrible decline, but it's a depiction of the share of wealth, not real income. There are dismal chords playing on a piano, and EW's voice conveys controlled anger.

1:15 — "America's middle class is under attack." Closeup of EW's face saying this line. She seems very intense. She's telling us we are threatened. Who is attacking us?

1:19 —  Answer to my question: "Billionaires and big corporations."

3:01 — "An atmosphere of fear and hate designed to divide us" — with images of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Steve Bannon.

3:19 — But "we can make our democracy work for all of us" — she says as the music becomes more soothing and we're shown the Statue of Liberty.

3:44 — Many images of EW in the sunshine, encountering people of color, hugging.

3:51 — She loves the America where people "play by the same set of rules." Images with rainbow paraphernalia (presumably representing gay people).

4:01 — She's announcing her exploratory committee, she says, followed by protesters chanting a chant that is very evocative here in Wisconsin: "This is what democracy looks like."

4:22 — "If we persist together, we can win, we can, and we will."

"'It isn’t safe for you at the house anymore, at least not on your own, and this concerns me. I need you to live long enough to see Donald Trump impeached.'"

"We’d fought bitterly after the election, and I knew it would be just my luck: my father would die, and the very next day the President would go down, denying me a well-deserved opportunity to gloat."

From the new David Sedaris story in The New Yorker, "Father Time/I can’t predict what’s waiting for us, lurking on the other side of our late middle age, but I know it can’t be good."

"Trump's Top 10 Achievements of 2018."

At Real Clear Politics.
1. Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court...

2. Confronting China... America now embraces its strong bargaining position and demands reciprocity in trade and an end to rampant industrial theft and piracy.

3. Middle-Class Wages Rise – Incomes in general soared in 2018...

4. U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal...

5. Ending the Iran Nuclear Deal...

6. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem...

7. Smashing the ISIS Caliphate and Exiting Syria...

8 Increasing Minority Jobs...

9. Holding the Line with Migrant Caravans...

10. Record American Oil Production – In 2018, the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil....

"It's no longer tenable to imagine that the anxieties of a white heterosexual young man expelled from an expensive prep school capture the spirit of our era."

"Today's snarky young anti-hero instead looks like Norris, the black French Canadian boy who moves to Texas in Ben Philippe's forthcoming young-adult novel, 'The Field Guide to the North American Teenager.'"

From "Is 'Catcher in the Rye' still relevant on Salinger's 100th birthday?" (SF Gate). The 100th birthday is tomorrow, New Year's Day.

"I threw the ball 100 metres towards the Swiss border and told the children to run and get the ball. They ran after the ball and this is how they crossed."

"After that, the Italians left France and the German came in. It became too dangerous to play ball with the children like this. With the Germans we didn’t play these games.”

From "French Resistance hero who saved hundreds of Jewish children dies aged 108/Georges Loinger escaped from German camp and spent rest of the war helping children cross Swiss border" (The Guardian).

Is it news that Trump's wall is not a wall made out of concrete?

I'm trying to read "Kelly, on His Way Out, Says Administration Long Ago Abandoned Idea of Concrete Wall" by Maggie Haberman in the NYT.
The concrete border wall that President Trump has repeatedly called for as a signature campaign promise...
What? Trump has been repeatedly calling for a "concrete" wall? I thought he'd been saying all along that it needs to be see-through and couldn't be a solidly opaque wall. The word "concrete" is ambiguous. Is the NYT using it to mean the opposite of "abstract" or does it mean (as I assume) the building material, the stuff poured from cement trucks?

Let me start again. I reject the premise of this story, that Trumpsters have been picturing a certain type of wall, with a particular material.
The concrete border wall that President Trump has repeatedly called for as a signature campaign promise is not actually a wall...
Not actually a wall? What does that mean? What is "a wall"? What does it mean to be "actually a wall"?
... and has not been since “early on in the administration,” the outgoing White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, said in an interview published on Sunday....

“To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Mr. Kelly told The Los Angeles Times.
Well, in the negotiations over funding the barrier at the border, the terminology matters, because everyone wants to win. If you can get the thing built by stopping saying "wall" and by declaring that Trump didn't get the "wall" he promised, then which side won?
Mr. Kelly, whose last day in his role is Monday, said he had sought advice from Customs and Border Protection officials early in 2017, when he was the homeland security secretary. Mr. Kelly said he was told that “we need a physical barrier in certain places, we need technology across the board, and we need more people.”

He went on: “The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.”
See what I mean? Kelly isn't telling me something I didn't already know, and I think Trump supporters who have been paying attention will not be surprised. Is Kelly hurting Trump by talking like that? I don't think so, because he's giving Democrats cover. I think Trump is trying to offer that cover. Can we all get on the same page and say there needs to be a barrier across the whole southern border, with the nature of that barrier based on good design attuned to the conditions at every point?

UPDATE: Here's Trump himself, tweeting:
An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media. Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!

Louis C.K. is back and he's insulting young people for not acting crazy like he did when he was young.

And — oh, no! — it sounds right wing!

The headline at TMZ is "GOES AFTER PARKLAND VICTIMS... In Leaked Audio of New Stand-Up."

Does he "go after Parkland victims"? Well, I think he's saying the ones who are testifying before Congress are not victims, since they didn't get shot to death (because they "pushed some fat kid in the way"). His main point is that they should be out there enjoying their youth (mainly, it seems, through substance abuse) and not drearily lecturing the rest of us about what we should be doing.

ADDED: What is Louis C.K.'s path back into a career? It can't be by getting in good with the left-leaning people who banished him. He can never do enough, and if he tried, how could it be funny? I hear the audience laughing, and I assume there are plenty of people ready to laugh at a great comedian who pokes at the places were we feel anxious and we've been repressing ourselves. Laughter is a release, so there's plenty of laughter to be made out of things the mainstream culture has been so serious about. It is like Trump. It's a way to be transgressive, a way to have fun.

CORRECTION: I had "pushed some fat kid out of the way."

"We — the people who worked on Bernie 2016... request a meeting... to discuss the issue of sexual violence and harasmment on the 2016 campaign...."

Oh, no! It's a letter from "more than two dozen women and men who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign" — obtained by Politico and reprinted under the headline, "Bernie alumni seek meeting to address 'sexual violence' on ‘16 campaign/The signees are looking to change what they call a pervasive culture of toxic masculinity in the campaign world."
The signees did not describe specific instances of “sexual violence and harassment” that occurred on the campaign....

Several people who signed the letter... stressed that they hoped their letter would not be reduced to reinforcing the “Bernie Bro” caricature...

People involved in the effort said they signed the letter before Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched a 2020 presidential bid in the hopes that it would lead to real action if and when the senator begins assembling his team....

The signees range from field organizers to some of the top officials on the 2016 campaign, according to multiple people involved in the effort. Some of the signees do not expect to join any 2020 campaign while others are open to joining a potential Sanders 2020 bid....
I don't know these people but if I were researching the story, I'd be skeptical about their motives. Other potential candidates — notably Senators who are not white males — are looking to hire people to work on their campaigns, and I think there's an effort — I see it in the NYT — to get the Bernie Sanders (and Joe Biden and Beto O'Rourke) to realize this is not their time. To my ear, that letter says, Bernie, get out of the way — you see how difficult we can make this for you (and for any white man)?

December 30, 2018

I'm tracking what I believe is the NYT's obvious selection for the 2020 Democratic Party nominee for President — Kamala Harris.

I started yesterday, blogged here, with my new tag "NYT pushes Kamala."

Today, at the top right corner of the home page:

There's no particular reason for that op-ed to appear now other than to give KH some substance within our political emotions. Here's an excerpt:
I remember that I had just entered the race for California attorney general and she asked me how it was going.

“Mommy, these guys are saying they’re going to kick my ass,” I told her.
She called her mother "Mommy."
She rolled over and looked at me and unveiled the biggest smile. She knew who she’d raised. She knew her fighting spirit was alive and well inside me.

My mother died on Feb. 11, 2009, two months after her 70th birthday.... And though I miss her every day, I carry her with me wherever I go. I think of the battles she fought, the values she taught me, her commitment to improve health care for us all.... As I continue the battle for a better health care system, I do so in her name.
Remember Hillary launching her 2016 campaign by talking about her mother? Is this a woman-running-for-President cliché? I imagine advisers telling women candidates that they must associate themselves with motherliness, but without causing us to picture them in the motherhood role.

Kamala Harris's mother was a breast cancer scientist (and her father is a Stanford University economics professor).

At the Noble Rat Café...

Version 3

... have some coffee-based conviviality.

"In the flickering light of the campfire, you can’t do much that requires keen eyesight like sewing or making tools, but you can chat away across the flickering flames."

"This is nicely illustrated by what South African San Bushmen talk about around their campfires. When anthropologist Polly Wiesner listened in on their conversations, she found that daytime conversations typically consisted of boring factual topics and discussions of trading agreements with neighbours, but evening conversations were invariably about social topics or involved storytelling and jokes.... So, if you want to know the secret of a long and happy life... the important thing is to take time out with people you know and talk to them over a beer or two, even that bottle of Prosecco if you really must. There’s nothing quite like a convivial evening wrapped around a pint to give you health, happiness and a sense of wellbeing."

From "Why drink is the secret to humanity’s success/Alcohol has been more valuable to our species’ survival than we might imagine" from last August in The Financial Times. I'm reading that this morning because my son John put it up on Facebook.

I like the article because it fits well with how I've been thinking about the use of disinhibiting substances ever since I read this passage in Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals":
There was one aspect of Ibsen’s vanity which verged on the ludicrous... He had a lifelong passion for medals and orders. In fact, he went to embarrassing lengths to get them...

[T]here is ample evidence for Ibsen’s passion since he insisted on displaying his growing galaxy of stars on every possible occasion. As early as 1878 he is reported to have worn all of them, including one like a dog-collar round his neck, at a club dinner. The Swedish painter Georg Pauli came across Ibsen sporting his medals (not the ribbons alone but the actual stars) in a Rome street. At times he seems to have put them on virtually every evening. He defended his practice by saying that, in the presence of ‘younger friends’, it ‘reminds me that I need to keep within certain limits.’ All the same, people who had invited him to dinner were always relieved when he arrived without them, as they attracted smiles and even open laughter as the wine circulated....
And, later, repeating that quote, I said: "Freedom and democracy depend on our disinhibition; we need to be able to laugh at authority."

That's "Mens Sana in Corpore Sano" by Georg Pauli (the Swedish painter who encountered Ibsen wearing his medals as he walked around in Rome).

"Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin phrase, usually translated as 'a healthy mind in a healthy body," Wikipedia tells us. The idea is that "physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being."

Speaking of Rome... the phrase traces back to the Roman poet Juvenal:
You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts
that can endure any kind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.

"I pretend to be a Democrat because I feel like people assume Democrats are 'good' and Republicans are 'bad.'"

"I am pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, anti-hate, but Democrats to me are even bigger hypocrites than Republicans. I always vote for the most socially liberal Republican and I lie about it."

Says an anonymous 30-year-old New Yorker, quoted in "13 Political Secrets People Kept From Family and Friends. What’s Yours?/We asked readers to share a political secret they’d never told a soul. Hundreds responded," from 2 months ago, just before the elections, but I'm reading it this morning in the NYT because the illustrations were featured in something new, "The Year in Illustration 2018."

Another one, from a 23-year-old Utahan, "I know my husband would divorce me if he knew I voted for Trump. Some secrets save marriages." It would be funny if the truth was he'd divorce her if he knew she thought of him that way.

Can we all just get along?

Dogs and cats together: The dog pets the cat and, in response, the cat stands up and hugs the dog:

"The press reports he watches television for hours, is inattentive to briefings, doesn't read, rants, rages, nurses petty resentments..."

"... doesn't listen to those with expertise, doesn't understand the constitutional limits on his office, is increasingly alone and paranoid. Are these things true? What else is true?... Why do those who have worked with Mr. Trump so rarely if ever speak in any depth, in public, of their experience?... Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said a great deal in his resignation letter... But one letter isn't enough. The Trump supporters I know are motivated by patriotism, not spleen, bigotry or bitterness. They are so loyal to their man in part because they see all the forces arrayed against him, especially in the media. They believe, legitimately, that he gets only grudging credit for his accomplishments. And they have told themselves a story about the brave if unlikely outsider who sacrificed his own comfort to upend a corrupt system and protect the interests of the common man.... They won't believe someone like Omarosa... They won't believe the words of 'Anonymous,' author of the September New York Times op-ed that became a sensation.... They will believe only the testimony of serious people who are obviously patriots.... We need some noble rats. May they come forward, speak softly, and make their motives clear."

Writes Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. I added the boldface.
We need some noble rats.
And — since I'm thinking about illustrations this morning, having just perused "The Year in Illustration 2018" (NYT) — I'll add my illustration:

Version 2
The Noble Rat ("Pop").