January 22, 2019

"Trump gets just 41 or 42% in head to head match ups against 7 likely Democratic candidates for President."

"He trails Joe Biden 53-41, Bernie Sanders 51-41, Kamala Harris 48-41, Beto O’Rourke 47-41, Elizabeth Warren 48-42, and Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand each 47-42."

PPP polls. (Full results here.)

Also in the poll: 45% think "members of Donald Trump’s campaign team worked in association with Russia to help Trump win the election for President." 43% say no. And 45% "think that Donald Trump has committed any crimes since he began running for President." 41% say no.

There's also a series of "Who do you trust more: X or Donald Trump?" where X is an MSM outlet. Trump loses every matchup, even against Fox News.

"The Senate will vote Thursday on two separate bills that would bring an immediate end to the partial government shutdown..."

"... one backed by President Trump that includes $5.7 billion for his border wall and another that would simply extend funding for shuttered agencies through Feb. 8. The plan, a compromise between Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, offers the first hint of a path out of the partial shutdown, which is now in its fifth week and has left 800,000 federal workers without pay. The two announced it Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor."

The NYT reports.

Most ridiculous Google intrusion ever.

I was Googling that after reading the comments on "Podcaster Joe Rogan and NYT writer Bari Weiss talk about the Covington Catholic school boys." Walter wrote:
Oh look: A Saturday Night Live comedy writer responded to the media’s false story about the Covington High kids by offering oral sex to anyone who punches them in the face.

“I will blow whoever manages to punch that MAGA kid in the face,” tweeted Sarah Beattie.
I wanted to check to see if she really wrote that. But I'm distracted from any outrage I might have experienced because I am overwhelmed by the utter silliness of Google.

1. Anyone writing something that crude isn't likely to think about whether "whoever" or "whomever" is correct.

2. When you're writing in such crude sex-and-violence terms, you shouldn't want to use "whomever" even when it is correct.

3. "Whomever" is not correct!

Damn, Google, if you're going to be a busybody grammar nerd, at least get the grammar rules right.

Erstwhile idiot becomes genius.

I just ran across this cartoon from the March 19, 1949 issue of The New Yorker:

That caption is: "Wouldn't you think they'd have a place for withdrawals, too?"

At the time, she was laughed at as a fool, but from our point of view, she's envisioning the ATM machine. Genius!

Why am I reading the March 19, 1949 issue of The New Yorker?, you ask.

I wanted to see the old J.D. Salinger story "The Laughing Man," because I was talking about it in the comments to yesterday's post, "With a gun against my belly, I always smile." That post was about the criticism of the Covington Catholic schoolboy's smile, which was not a natural smile, but a forced smile, and I had got to thinking about our sensitivity to smiles that don't arise out of relaxed happiness.

That moved the commenter Nonapod to say, "One of the more tragic smiles is from the silent film 'The Man Who Laughs'" and to link to this:

I said:
Thanks, Nonapod. I had never seen that before. Fantastically melodramatic and completely effective.

It made me think of the J.D. Salinger story "The Laughing Man," and I see from Wikipedia:

"The Laughing Man" is a short story by J. D. Salinger, published originally in The New Yorker on March 19, 1949; and also in Salinger’s short story collection Nine Stories. It largely takes the structure of a story within a story and is thematically occupied with the relationship between narrative and narrator, and the end of youth. The story is inspired by the Victor Hugo novel of the same name: The Man Who Laughs (L'homme qui rit)."
From Salinger's story (click to enlarge and clarify):
In Hugo's story...
In late 17th-century England, a homeless boy named Gwynplaine rescues an infant girl during a snowstorm, her mother having frozen to death whilst feeding her. They meet an itinerant carnival vendor who calls himself Ursus, and his pet wolf, Homo. Gwynplaine's mouth has been mutilated into a perpetual grin; Ursus is initially horrified, then moved to pity, and he takes them in. Fifteen years later, Gwynplaine has grown into a strong young man, attractive except for his distorted visage. The girl, now named Dea, is blind, and has grown into a beautiful and innocent young woman. By touching his face, Dea concludes that Gwynplaine is perpetually happy. They fall in love. Ursus and his surrogate children earn a meagre living in the fairs of southern England. Gwynplaine keeps the lower half of his face concealed. In each town, Gwynplaine gives a stage performance in which the crowds are provoked to laughter when Gwynplaine reveals his grotesque face....
Since I'm talking about the Catholic schoolboy's face again and looking into literature, I wanted to link to my son John's blog post, "Why are adults freaking out about a smiling kid?" which begins:
In the novel 1984, George Orwell wrote about a dystopian future where “to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for instance) was itself a punishable offense.” It was called a "facecrime."
From "1984":
It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called. The girl had turned her back on him again.

It sounds like a bad joke, but the "Bikini Hiker" seems to have died of exposure.

BBC reports.
A Taiwanese hiker known for posting bikini clad photos from mountain summits has died after falling into a ravine during a solo trek. Gigi Wu managed to contact emergency services but bad weather delayed rescue operations, local media reports say. The 36-year-old is thought to have died of hypothermia.... While she was famous for posting pictures of herself in bikinis from summits, she was an experienced hiker, appearing to use proper equipment and precautions during her expeditions. According to Taiwan News, bad weather had prevented a rescue helicopter from reaching her three times. A rescue mission was eventually sent out on foot.... Her last Facebook post to her more than 18,000 followers is dated 18 January and shows the view from a mountain above the clouds.

Podcaster Joe Rogan and NYT writer Bari Weiss talk about the Covington Catholic school boys.

Rogan wonders how "a hat with white letters" has become "so repulsive to half the country." His guest — Bari Weiss (a NYT columnist) — says "some people see it as the equivalent of a white hood." Rogan counters: "Kanye wears it."

Weiss: "It was this perfect encapsulation of our outrage culture." The little clip was "like a Rorschach test." On her first look, she saw the boys as bullying. But "The challenge of what it means as a journalist is to not see people as signifiers, as stand-ins, based on their identity." Weiss finds it "horrifying" that blue-check-mark Twitter adults were saying "This is the face of white patriarchy — the 16-year-old kid.... Reza Aslan said have you ever seen a more punchable face... Kathy Griffin was saying I need names, shame him, dox him. How do these people not see the implications of that?... The fact that adults who should know better are fomenting this and don't see how thin... the veneer of civilization is — like they're taking a pickax to it."

Rogan agrees with all that. He decries the "lack of nuance" and "people taking one side versus the other and sticking with it" and "not confronting their own personal biases" and "looking at these things through the eyes of This is the enemy/I'm on the good side/They're on the bad side/Let's get them."

Rogan shifts to the subject of his childhood. His parents were hippies and he grew up "living in the middle of the hippie world." And he thought of people on the left as "well-read, kind, compassionate people." And now, it seems to him — just in the last few years — "people on the left are calling for violence." He's missing something here, but it's nice to know that his parents were kind, and he's an interesting example of a person whose initial affiliation is with the left, so that he's inclined to think what the people on the left think of themselves, that they are the good people. So now he finds it "very confusing."

I had to pause to look up how old he is. He's 51. He's working on a theory that social media is making the difference, causing people to say "punch Nazis," etc., when they would not say that in person. Social media is having an effect, but I don't see why Rogan is ignoring/forgetting the left-wing violence that went on before Twitter arrived in our world. The hippie aura is powerful.

Rogan and Weiss talk about how the word "Nazi" has been expanded so that it covers a 16-year-old in a MAGA hat and irrationally justifies violence against him. Weiss says: "That's what a lot of people in very high positions of power in this country — at least in the culture — actually believe, and they don't understand the implications of hollowing out words like that." She works at The New York Times. "I know this personally, because I'm called alt-right, I'm called an apologist for rape culture, I've been called everything. I'm a centrist. I'm a Jewish, center-left-on-most-things-person who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and is super-socially-liberal on pretty much any issue you want to choose. If I'm alt-right, what words do we have left for people who actually are that?" And if you use "Nazi" for a kid in a MAGA hat, what word is there for a hard-core white nationalist?

Rogan says he gets called "alt-right adjacent," even though he goes left on everything ("except guns").

Weiss says that when she first saw the still of the smiling boy, she had a visceral reaction, calling up memories of her schoolgirl days when teenage boys said cruel things to her, but she knows, and other adults ought to know, that you don't stop there. And if you're calling yourself a journalist, "your job is to figure out the facts of the case, not to make this into a kind of identitarian morality play." But that's what so many journalists did, and when more evidence came out, they only dug in.

"Former FBI top lawyer James Baker just admitted involvement in FISA Warrant and further admitted there were IRREGULARITIES in the way the Russia probe was handled."

"They relied heavily on the unverified Trump 'Dossier' paid for by the DNC & Clinton Campaign, & funded through a big Crooked Hillary law firm, represented by her lawyer Michael Sussmann (do you believe this?) who worked Baker hard & gave him Oppo Research for 'a Russia probe.' This meeting, now exposed, is the subject of Senate inquiries and much more. An Unconstitutional Hoax."

Trump tweets this morning — here and here.

Here's the news as reported by Fox, "Former top FBI lawyer personally involved in FISA warrant for Trump aide, other Russia probe irregularities, transcript shows."

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday revived the Trump administration’s policy of barring most transgender people from serving in the military."

"In a brief, unsigned order, the justices temporarily allowed the ban to go into effect while the case moves forward. The vote was 5 to 4. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. The policy, announced on Twitter by President Trump and refined by the defense secretary at the time, Jim Mattis, generally prohibits people identifying with a gender different from their biological sex from military service. It makes exceptions for several hundred transgender people already serving openly and for those willing to serve 'in their biological sex.'"

The NYT reports.

"Twitter suspends account behind video of Native American’s standoff with teens."

The NYT Post reports.
The account, with the username @2020fight, was set up in December 2016 and supposedly belonged to a California schoolteacher named Talia — but the actual owner was by a blogger based in Brazil...

“This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protester at the Indigenous Peoples March,” read a caption with the video....
The official basis for the suspension isn't that the caption told us to view a video in a way people were stupid to go along with. It's that "misleading account information is a violation of the Twitter Rules." So Twitter is not purporting to take control of deceptive narratives imposed on video that trick people into thinking that they're seeing something directly when they're being slipped an interpretation. We're still challenged to wise up and know propaganda when we see it. Twitter can't, won't, and shouldn't help us with that.

Did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "crack" and reveal that she believes the world will end in 12 years?

Drudge would like to tease you into thinking so:

But no... even if you only click through to the Grabien News story and read the excerpt from her interview (with Ta-Nehisi Coates), you'll see that she's only colorfully presenting the anxiety that young people are feeling about climate change:
“And I think the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people, in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us are looking up and we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change."
The phrase "we're like" is used to switch into the voice of the millennials and the succeeding generations who are freaking out about their future. This allows her to speak in a comically dramatic voice and say "the world is gonna end in 12 years."

But if you enjoy thinking of her as a nut or an idiot, good luck. Sleep well.

Another apology — "apology"? — from Scott Adams — this time about who's entitled to have/express an opinion about whether abortion should be legal.

I've heard him express his opinion about who should determine whether women have access to abortion. He's been saying that the answer should be what women decide is the right answer, because only women get pregnant. So he'll defer to women and he recommended that all men and all children shut up about it and, in any case, he's not interested in what anyone other than adult women think.

I've always had a problem with his idea because he jumps to saying that the majority of women should make the decision that should then bind all women. But why? I'm not even sure he's recognized that he's making a big jump there. Under the current law, where there is a right to have an abortion, no woman is required to have an abortion, and all women get to choose for themselves.  100% of women get decision-making power over their own bodies.

Under a majority-of-women approach, abortion could be outlawed, 50% + 1 get to make the choice for everyone, and presumably that group includes mostly people who would not choose an abortion for themselves, so nearly 100% of the women who want to have the power to make the decision with respect to their body (and only their body) would have their preference overridden by outsiders to their body.

But today, with his "apology," he seems to have forgotten his own reasoning. He's not talking anymore about who is most interested in the question of the legality of abortion and giving the power to women because only women can get pregnant, he's switched to who's smart and who's dumb. Let the smartest people decide. In the comments to his own tweet he adds — responding to "At what age would you allow opinions on the important issues of the day?" — "Apparently it doesn't matter. I have learned today that voters don't get smarter over time."

I know he's being funny, sort of. But abortion is completely unfunny. Adams has had a work-around to having an opinion, and he hasn't even seriously examined his work-around. I understand the fun and the freedom of exiting into comedy whenever you like. But we are talking about a profound matter of life and death, and many people believes abortion is murder, and many people (sometimes the same people!) believe that access to abortion is crucial to the equality of women.

By the way, the very next thing in my Twitter feed was an ad for a horror movie that plays on the primal fear of the intrusion of the baby into to the life of a woman:

I watched the announcement of the Oscar nominations....

... and you can too:

Did any of you watch that? I'm sure you can easily find the list of nominees somewhere. Feel free to comment about the specifics and try to resist simply saying you don't care about Oscars or you don't like Hollywood generally. I know!

I'll just say:

1. I've only seen 2 of the movies under discussion — "The Isle of Dogs" (nominated for best animated movie) and "RBG" (nominated for best documentary and for some song that I don't remember). The only one I saw in the theater was "RBG," and that's also the only one I saw in its entirety.  I'm still only 2/3 of the way through "The Isle of Dogs" on Amazon Prime, and weeks have past since I paused it and realized I didn't much care exactly how the dogs completed their mission, and now I forget what the mission was. Anyway — dogs on an island in Japan, having a hard time but being feisty, as visualized by the ever-quirky Wes Anderson.

2. Viggo Mortenson got a best actor nomination! I think that was unexpected. I'll have to look up who was "snubbed" to give him recognition. I haven't seen his movie "Green Book," and I doubt I'll go to the movie theater to see it when I'm just a few weeks from getting cataract surgery and am no good at seeing anything right now, but I just happen to love Viggo Mortenson because I loved him in "Captain Fantastic." I'm better with TV — and frankly, better with things I've already seen before (or with new episodes of the old TV series "Friends" because it's easy to recognize the 6 recurring characters and to get the hang of what they're up to) — so maybe I'll just watch "Captain Fantastic" again.

January 21, 2019

At the Purple Eyes Café...

... you can talk all night.

Sometimes I feel The New Yorker is written especially for me.

Right now, the center of the home page looks like this....

... featuring 2 of my favorite writers. (In terms of pages written that I've read in the last 10 years, these 2 writers rank first and second.)

From "The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives/On a Presidential paper trail," by my hero, Robert A. Caro:
There are certain moments in your life when you suddenly understand something about yourself. I loved going through those files, making them yield their secrets to me. And here was a particular and fascinating secret: that corporate executives were persuading a government agency to save them some driving time at the expense of a poor kid getting an education and a better chance in life. Each discovery I made that helped to prove that was a thrill. I don’t know why raw files affect me that way. In part, perhaps, it’s because they are closer to reality, to genuineness—not filtered, cleaned up, through press releases or, years later, in books. I worked all night, but I didn’t notice the passing of time. When I finished and left the building on Sunday, the sun was coming up, and that was a surprise. I went back to the office, and before driving home I wrote a memo on what I had found....
From "Cream" by Haruki Murakami (and I've read 6 of his books in the last year):
The old man spoke again. “Listen, you’ve got to imagine it with your own power. Use all the wisdom you have and picture it. A circle that has many centers but no circumference. If you put in such an intense effort that it’s as if you were sweating blood—that’s when it gradually becomes clear what the circle is.”

“It sounds difficult,” I said.

“Of course it is,” the old man said, sounding as if he were spitting out something hard. “There’s nothing worth getting in this world that you can get easily.” Then, as if starting a new paragraph, he briefly cleared his throat. “But, when you put in that much time and effort, if you do achieve that difficult thing it becomes the cream of your life.”


"With a gun against my belly, I always smile."

Linked by Meade in the comments to "An affected or simpering smile; a silly, conceited, smiling look," which is a post about the criticism of the smile — the "smirk" — on the face of the Covington Catholic schoolboy Nick Sandmann.

Sandmann is smiling, but it's not a natural, happy smile, because — as he wrote in his statement — he was anxious and trying to express that he "was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation." So that's just about exactly the the position of Gary Cooper's interlocutor. Cooper ("The Virginian") says, "If you want to call me that, smile." And Walter Huston ("Trampas") smiles non-naturally and anxiously, as he says, "With a gun against my belly, I always smile."

When I think of a person who is smiling when he is not in a condition of relaxed happiness, I think of the beautiful Charlie Chaplin song "Smile" — sung with unearthly warmth by Nat King Cole:

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...
ADDED: I think Bob Dylan was influenced by "The Virginian" when he wrote "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest":
“Eternity?” said Frankie Lee
With a voice as cold as ice
“That’s right,” said Judas Priest, “Eternity
Though you might call it ‘Paradise’”
“I don’t call it anything”
Said Frankie Lee with a smile
“All right,” said Judas Priest
“I’ll see you after a while”

Isn't it interesting that the figure at the center of mass delusion is named Sandmann?

Wikipedia tells us:
The Sandman is a mythical character in Western and Northern European folklore who puts people to sleep and brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of people while they sleep at night, i.e. rheum....

Hans Christian Andersen's 1841 folk tale Ole Lukøje introduced the Sandman, named Ole Lukøje....
There is nobody in the world who knows so many stories as Ole-Luk-Oie, or who can relate them so nicely. In the evening, while the children are seated at the table or in their little chairs, he comes up the stairs very softly, for he walks in his socks, then he opens the doors without the slightest noise, and throws a small quantity of very fine dust in their eyes, just enough to prevent them from keeping them open, and so they do not see him. Then he creeps behind them, and blows softly upon their necks, till their heads begin to droop. But Ole-Luk-Oie does not wish to hurt them, for he is very fond of children, and only wants them to be quiet that he may relate to them pretty stories, and they never are quiet until they are in bed and asleep. As soon as they are asleep, Ole-Luk-Oie seats himself upon the bed. He is nicely dressed; his coat is made of silken fabric; it is impossible to say of what color, for it changes from green to red, and from red to blue as he turns from side to side. Under each arm he carries an umbrella; one of them, with pictures on the inside, he spreads over the good children, and then they dream the most beautiful stories the whole night. But the other umbrella has no pictures, and this he holds over the naughty children so that they sleep heavily, and wake in the morning without having dreams at all.

ADDED: Yes, yes, I know, and I knew when I wrote the post.... A hundred people are nudging me to include the candy-colored clown (which by the way sounds like another sobriquet for Trump):

"There’s so much so in sorrow"... "Let me down from here"... "I’ve lost my modality."

Things said in the last 3 weeks of life by "a clinical psychologist who had also spent a lifetime writing poetry." Mort Felix was dying of cancer and on morphine.
To the surprise of his family members, the lifelong atheist also began hallucinating angels and complaining about the crowded room—even though no one was there.
His very last words were, "Thank you, and I love you, and enough." We know all this because his daughter, Lisa Smartt, a linguist, copied down his words and wrote a book.

I'm reading "What People Actually Say Before They Die/Insights into the little-studied realm of last words" by Michael Erard (The Atlantic).
From a doctor I heard that people often say, “Oh fuck, oh fuck.” Often it’s the names of wives, husbands, children. “A nurse from the hospice told me that the last words of dying men often resembled each other,” wrote Hajo Schumacher in a September essay in Der Spiegel. “Almost everyone is calling for ‘Mommy’ or ‘Mama’ with the last breath.”...

In Final Gifts, the hospice nurses Callanan and Kelley note that “the dying often use the metaphor of travel to alert those around them that it is time for them to die.” They quote a 17-year-old, dying of cancer, distraught because she can’t find the map. “If I could find the map, I could go home! Where’s the map? I want to go home!” Smartt noted such journey metaphors as well, though she writes that dying people seem to get more metaphorical in general....
Well, that sort of effort to get home and being on a journey without a map is the storyline of nearly every dream I can remember, so I don't think that's special to the dying process. And when you're on a powerful opiate, you're drifting into dreams all the time.
Despite the faults of Smartt’s book (it doesn’t control for things such as medication, for one thing, and it’s colored by an interest in the afterlife).... 

"Modern parents haven’t stopped playing favorites; they’ve just stopped doing it openly."

"Though few parents today will admit they have a favorite child, studies indicate that about two-thirds of parents do. In one small but astounding survey, 80 percent of mothers acknowledged favoring one child over the others. This was no secret to their children, 80 percent of whom agreed. Interestingly, however, when they were asked which child their mother loved most, they almost always got it wrong. Similar results are borne out in larger studies: Two-thirds of children accurately perceive that their parents have a favorite, but less than half get the favorite right. The idea that you’re supposed to treat your children equally is recent, and it’s still not the norm in much of the world, where different siblings might have different roles and even different titles. In English, we refer to both younger and older siblings as sister or brother, but Chinese has separate terms for each. A gege (older brother) has different rights and responsibilities than a younger one (didi), as do a jiejie (big sister) and meimei (little sister). In Japan, an old slang term for the second son was 'Master Cold Rice,' because historically he ate only after the firstborn got his food."

From "It Used to Be Okay for Parents to Play Favorites/The idea that you’re supposed to treat your children equally is recent, and it’s still not the norm in much of the world" by Jennifer Traig (The Atlantic).

"An affected or simpering smile; a silly, conceited, smiling look."

That's the definition of "smirk" in the (unlinkable) OED. I looked up the word because it was used over and over to refer to the smile on the face of the Covington Catholic schoolboy the media singled out to destroy over the weekend.

When is a smile a "smirk"? The dictionary says, when it's affected or simpering or silly and conceited looking.

But I'd like a deeper psychological explanation of what is supposed to be in the mind of the smirker and how observers of smiles decide they have a window into that mind. My hypothesis is: People see what they want to see. That means: When people tell you what they think they see about the inside of another person's head, they are opening a window for us to peer into their head.

And, of course, that means that if we talk about what we think we see in the mind of the observer of another person, we too reveal ourselves. We express misunderstandings and expose ourselves to being misunderstood. That's human life. I think it's quite wonderful, but it can be dangerous and painful.

Here are some the OED's examples of the use of "smirk":
?1570 T. Ingelend Disobedient Child sig. D.ivv Howe many smyrkes, and dulsome kysses?
1601 B. Jonson Fountaine of Selfe-love Palinodia sig. Mv From Spanish shrugs, French faces, Smirks, Irps, and all affected Humors.
1675 W. Wycherley Country-wife iv. 56 He has the Canonical smirk, and the filthy, clammy palm of a Chaplain.
1718 Lady M. W. Montagu Let. Sept. (1965) I. 439 A jolly face and a stupid smirk in his countenance.
My son John had a couple tweets yesterday pushing back against Slate:

So I clicked through to the Slate article, "The MAGA Teenager Who Harassed a Native American Veteran Is Still Unnamed, but We’ve Seen His Face Before." This is by Ruth Graham, from January 19th and with no update, and it's really creepy. Here are the last 2 paragraphs, which tell us so much about what's inside Ruth Graham's head:
But I think the real reason the clip has spread is simpler: It’s the kid’s face. The face of self-satisfaction and certitude, of edginess expressed as cruelty. The face remains almost completely still as his peers hoot in awed delight at his bravado. The face is both punchable and untouchable. Many observers recognized it right away.

The face is in this photo of a clutch of white young men crowding around a single black man at a lunch counter sit-in in Virginia in the 1960s, and in many other images of jeering white men from that era. The face is the rows of Wisconsin high school boys flashing Nazi salutes in a prom picture last year. The face is Brett Kavanaugh—then a student at an all-boys Catholic prep school—“drunkenly laughing” as he allegedly held down Christine Blasey Ford. Anyone who knew the popular white boys in high school recognized it: the confident gaze, the eyes twinkling with menace, the smirk. The face of a boy who is not as smart as he thinks he is, but is exactly as powerful. The face that sneers, “What? I’m just standing here,” if you flinch or cry or lash out. The face knows that no matter how you react, it wins.
"It wins." It. There is no person anymore. No "he," just an "it." There is no human, just an empty mask, as Ruth Graham sees it.

Looking into her mind, I think — and I show myself in saying this — that she believes she is and loves herself as a person of great empathy for human beings, and she is simply oblivious to the humanity of the teenager who she fears is harassing and mocking a person who looks to her like the kind of person she thinks of as Victim. She doesn't realize that she, a good person, could engage in victimizing, and when she looks in the mirror and smiles at herself, the expression on her face is never a "smirk."

"watch whiteness work."

(DeRay Mckesson is a Black Lives Matter activist — Wikipedia.)

ADDED: Another we're-not-sorry angle:

I certainly hope the kid is not all alone. He should have adult counseling! I thought the statement sounded genuine — like a teenager telling a straight story — but I assumed that meant he had a good lawyer. And he should have a good lawyer.

AND: Here's a third approach to digging in:

"[Kamala] Harris chose to enter the race on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, an overt nod to the historic nature of her candidacy..."

"... and her timing was also meant to evoke Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president 47 years ago this week. In addition, Ms. Harris will hold her first campaign event on Friday in South Carolina, where black voters are the dominant force in the Democratic primary, rather than start off by visiting Iowa and New Hampshire, the two predominantly white states that hold their nomination contests first. She will hold a kickoff rally Sunday in Oakland, Calif., her hometown.... Ms. Harris made her announcement on 'Good Morning America' and also released a video aimed at supporters and other Democrats. 'The future of our country depends on you, and millions of others, lifting our voices to fight for our American values,' Ms. Harris said in the video. She also debuted a campaign slogan that played off her background as a prosecutor: 'Kamala Harris, for the people Let’s do this together: For ourselves, for our children, for our country'...."

The NYT reports just now in "Kamala Harris Joins Democratic Presidential Field." I'll watch the video and update this post.

ADDED: Here's the video:

The persistent drumbeat had unfortunate resonance with the Covington Catholic boys story that the mainstream media embarrassed itself with over the weekend. I'm not sure I noticed anything about what Harris actually said in the video, because there was the distracting, puzzling drumbeat and because the whole thing started with flashing block-letter words at us. I remember that words were there, not what the words were. Was it "truth," "justice," and something else that made me say — as a Baby Boomer raised on the "Superman" TV show — "and the American way"? Without watching it again, all I remember is that Harris looked pleasant but spoke in a slightly stilted way and that she wore a gray jacket over a gray top. Bottom line: I heard no message at all other than that she's got an upcoming event in Oakland.

January 20, 2019

"I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me."

Writes Nick Sandmann, in a statement published at CNN:
I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us "racists," "bigots," "white crackers," "faggots," and "incest kids." They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would "harvest his organs." I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Rat magnet.


"I used to love to watch her dance the Grizzly Bear/I guess she's gone to Frisco, to dance it there..."

There really is a dance called the Grizzly Bear, which I didn't know until yesterday, though I've heard the lyric quoted in the post title hundreds of times. "Grizzly Bear" by The Youngbloods was in the stack of singles next to my record player in the 1960s. I happened to play this video of it:

Before they play the song, Dick Clark interviews Jesse Colin Young about it, and he says: "I'm a ragtime freak, and... this is about a dance in the 1890s called the Grizzly Bear where people used to hug each other and jump." Dick Clark is amazed: "An actual dance?" Yes, there was "a club in San Francisco called The Grizzly Bear."

Here's an NPR article from 2015, "Dirty Dancing In The Early 1900s":
[T]he Bunny Hug, the Turkey Trot, the Grizzly Bear and other so-called "animal dances" of the early 1900s... shocked America and had polite society crying shame, shame, shame....

"Wilson Banned Ball Fearing Turkey Trot," was the New York Times headline on Jan. 13, 1913. According to the report, the Inaugural Committee was told that the president-elect wanted to cancel the usual Inaugural Ball because he "feared there would be indulgence in the turkey trot, the bunny hug and other ragtime dances and thus provoke what might amount to a National scandal."... Later in the month, Wilson characterized such reports as "ridiculous," but the ball was canceled....

[According to the] 1924 book The Social Dance... "The 'Boll Weevil Wiggle' and the 'Texas Tommy Wiggle' are danced in close personal contact intended to arouse sex feeling. The 'Grizzly Bear' encourages the closest and most violent physical contact for the same purpose... The 'Turkey Trot, 'Fox Trot,' 'Horse Trot, 'Fish Walk,' 'Dog Walk,' 'Tiger Dance,' and the 'Buzzard Lope,' are all imitative of the lower animals in their sex life, sex desire, sex excitement and sex satisfaction; and these things are in the minds of the dancers who understand the meaning of the animal dances."
Oh, don't just about all dances represent sex?  Sex isn't a special "lower animals" activity. But it made me wonder whether there were "animal" dances in the 1960s when I was listening to "Grizzly Bear." Answer: Yes. There was The Monkey, demonstrated by the great Smokey Robinson (and possibly requiring censorship in the modern age):

And here's "Monkey Time" — as performed by Major Lance on "Shindig" (in perhaps 1964). Keep your eye on the dancers way in the background. I found this disturbing enough to begin to question whether it was intentionally racist at the time, but I see the song was written and produced by Curtis Mayfield, so that's the end of the inquiry for me.

Anyway, the subject of this post is dances named after animals, and the possible objections to them.

"Scott Adams apologizes for believing @CNN about the Covington Catholic Boys fake news."

Oh, well, this is interesting...

... because I realize that my idea of what happened — which you're jumping on me about in the comments to the previous post — was influenced by listening to what Scott Adams said about it yesterday...

So do I need to apologize for believing Scott Adams? Not exactly. My post — "The man in the middle" — is carefully written based only what I know, which is what I'm always doing around here. I wasn't a tube channeling what went through Scott Adams from CNN. I protect myself from that sort of thing. But the way in which I wrote around my lack of knowledge was influenced by what Scott Adams said yesterday, and he's apparently backing off from all that.

I can't watch the first video yet, because it's a live-stream until he gets done and I entered after the relevant part.

By the way, one thing that I'm actively trying to avoid and that I'm wary of in other white people is a patronizing, sentimental attitude toward Native Americans.

UPDATE: The live stream is over now, so I'm watching the new video. First, Adams observes that on the very day when MSM were observing their own screw-up over the BuzzFeed fake news about the Mueller investigation, they were falling into another fake news story. Next, Adams admits, "I totally got taken by it," and begins what he calls "an extended explanation/apology."

He says he's now seen "extended video" and declares everything CNN reported to be "absolutely fake news." And it was the "worst kind" of fake news, because "They didn't even get the good guys and the bad guys right."

Adams believed, based on the CNN reports, that the "Native American man was awesome," because he came between 2 groups of antagonistic youths and "de-escalated" a conflict, and he called them "assholes." Scott refrains from repeating the a-word in the new video, substituting the word "jerks." Now, he says, based on longer video, "That is completely not what happened."

The most important thing that CNN did not report, Adams says, is that the African American group — the Black Israelites — were being "flat-out racist." On the extended video, you can hear them calling the Catholic schoolboys "crackers" and (repeatedly) "school shooters."

The Black Israelites denounced Democrats as "racist." "You didn't see that on CNN," Adams laughs. The black protesters were, Adams says, "overtly anti-white." "They were also anti-gay" and "used anti-gay slurs," and the Catholic schoolboys "spontaneously and unanimously pushed back against an anti-gay statement" — "They were offended." The Catholic schoolboys were smiling, "didn't look angry," and "were all well-behaved," Adams says.

CNN presented the elderly Native American man as coming between the 2 groups of youths, but, Adams says now, that "definitely didn't happen" — "He was just kind of doing his own thing... He was causing trouble. He was not looking to stop it. He was very obviously looking to cause trouble... He looked like he was escalating the situation, not de-escalating." [ADDED: I have now watched that part of the video, and I have nothing to say about what that man had going on in his head.]

Adams now interpret the boys as seeing the old man as "all part of the fun." "They were just sort of dancing around because he was dancing around." Adams stresses that the old man approached the boys — got "in their faces." The Catholic schoolboys "did not back up," which is what created the viral video image from which the fake news was manufactured.

Adams notes that CNN still has the story in fake form on its front page "Teens in Make America Great Again hats taunted Native American elder" and I'm seeing that now, at 11:30 ET:

According to Adams, in the extended video, you see a large group and only about 10% of them have MAGA hats, and, more importantly, they do not taunt the man. I guess CNN isn't afraid of libel suits.

Maybe Adams is worried about libel suits. He says, "I'm going to do a full 180 on you.... This is the most complete apology you're ever going to see from anybody. I couldn't have been more wrong about this group of kids. These kids kept their composure, stayed on the right side of every issue, avoided trouble, and never lost their smiles." But he still thinks "It was a mistake to wear their MAGA hats in public, because you know that's going to cause trouble and it probably did."

AND: Let me quote EDH (from the comments in the previous post):
Most of the kids seemed to be chanting with the drum beat, albeit in an irreverent way, but more jocular than threatening.

That's why I'd like to see what's on either end of that edited video clip, especially the genesis and termination of the encounter.

And who was the president that said "I want you to argue with them. Get in their face"?
I'll embed the 1 hour and 45 minute video, which I clicked on and watched less than a second of before clicking off:

I may watch it eventually.

OKAY: I've watched the key part of the video, and I think this is a whole lot of nothing. The men making the video remind me of religious ranters I've seen in Madison many times. Ordinary people just ignore them, and that's what I'm seeing in the video. The Catholic schoolboys group is large, and they seem to be taking in the free speech forum and doing some sort of cheers on their own, widely separated from "Black Israelites" group. Then the Native American guy enters the space and walks up to the schoolboys beating his drum. The schoolboys react by bouncing along with the beat in a way that seems to welcome the man and include him in their boisterous fun day out in the public square. Shame on the adult professionals who latched onto this as something to make into the big issue of the day. Total fake news. I ignored this yesterday, but my ignoring something doesn't have any effect on the total amount of noise. So I have to speak up and rephrase my silence into words: This is nothing.

AND: The man holding the camera narrates, accusing the schoolboys of "mockery" and so forth. But you're a fool if you watch the video and see what he's telling you to see. It's a microcosm of fake news, and big media responded and amplified.

The man in the middle.

"It was an aggressive display of physicality. They were rambunctious and trying to instigate a conflict. We were wondering where their chaperones were. He was really trying to defuse the situation."

Said Chase Iron Eyes, an attorney with the Lakota People’s Law Project, quoted in "'It was getting ugly': Native American drummer speaks on the MAGA-hat-wearing teens who surrounded him" (WaPo).

I am touched by the charity of "They were rambunctious."

But I'm only guessing at what the video sounds like. I cannot bring myself to play it.
[A] Native American man steadily beats his drum at the tail end of Friday’s Indigenous Peoples March while singing a song of unity urging them to “be strong” in the face of the ravages of colonialism that now include police brutality, poor access to health care and the ill effects of climate change on reservations.

Surrounding him are a throng of young, mostly white teenage boys, several wearing “Make America Great Again” caps, with one who stood about a foot from the drummer’s face also wearing a relentless smirk.

Nathan Phillips, a veteran in the indigenous rights movement, was that man in the middle....
The phrase "man in the middle" resonates with me. I will never forget the day — at the rambunctious Wisconsin protests — when Meade encountered The Man in the Middle:
[O]ne man — who did not agree with the protesters — decided he would occupy the central spot. To the consternation of the others, he invited people to come talk to him one-on-one....

I started to imagine Wisconsinites coming back to the building every day, talking about everything, on and on, indefinitely into the future. That man who decided to hold dialogues in the center of the rotunda is a courageous man. But it isn't that hard to be as courageous as he was. In the long run, it's easier to do that than to spend your life intimidated and repressed. That man was showing us how to be free. He was there today, but you — and you and you! — could be there tomorrow, standing your ground, inviting people to talk to you, listening and going back and forth, for the sheer demonstration of the power of human dialogue and the preservation of freedom.
Video at the link.

Looking for posts about that man in the middle, I see that in 2013 I wrote about the phrase "man in the middle" as it appears in "Atlas Shrugged." Ayn Rand wrote:
There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube.
I said:
Is this cranking you up? It doesn't work on me. I think moderation is a virtue, but in this imagery, virtue is blood, evil is poison, and moderation is a tube. You're supposed to feel this as a flashy display of reason, but it's full of emotional bluster and heavily reliant on metaphor. I'm being asked to regard myself as a rubber tube. No....

I'm not accepting this picture of life in terms of people with good blood and people with bad blood and everyone else as a bunch of tubes conducting a big old transfusion that's just got to stop....
I was talking about that Ayn Rand passage because Ted Cruz read it — along with "Green Eggs and Ham" — out loud while filibustering in the Senate. The phrase "the man in the middle" grabbed me, and I wrote:
"Man in the middle" is a phrase that feels like a call to action, because it's a phrase Meade and I have used when we talk about a man we saw as a hero for sitting down in the middle of the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda, in a crowd of sign-carrying, noisy partisan protesters, inviting them to speak, one-on-one, with someone who was not in agreement with the crowd....

Talking, indefinitely into the future... in the middle of a government building. That's what Ted Cruz is doing, but not in the moderate, surely-we-all-can-get-along mode. He's on one side, and he's reviling anyone in the middle. He's reading from Ayn Rand, saying that the moderate is evil, because the moderate is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist.

In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. Oh? But would you like it it in a box? Would you like it with a fox? Would you like it in a house? Would you like it with a mouse?
rat 1

UPDATE: I still haven't watched the video, but I have watched Scott Adams's strong apology for portraying the Catholic schoolboys in a negative light, and Adams describes the extended video in detail. So check out my new post, which includes quotes from Adams's description.

"Early in his career, he was a co-author of two seminal works on American society, 'The Lonely Crowd'... in 1950 and 'Beyond the Melting Pot'... in 1963."

"Later volumes included 'We Are All Multiculturalists Now' in 1997 and 'From a Cause to a Style: Modernist Architecture’s Encounter with the American City' in 2007.... A child of Jewish immigrants from Warsaw, Nathan Glazer was born on Feb. 25, 1923, in New York City and spent his early years in East Harlem. His father, Louis, was a garment worker, and his mother, Tilly, was a homemaker. Nathan was the youngest of seven children, and when he was 10, the family, which was crammed into a four-room apartment, moved to the wider spaces of the East Bronx. Mr. Glazer’s interest in urban affairs stemmed directly from personal experience, and his upbringing had an impact on his later ideas. His East Harlem tenement block, dominated by the iron structures of elevated trains, had no trees or green strips. It was, Mr. Glazer once said, a 'bad place to live.' Only a few blocks away was Central Park, where a boy could lose himself in the meadows and woodlands, enjoying a respite from the city’s noise and grime. For Mr. Glazer, the park was a 'wonder' of childhood, and in years to come, when some urban planners challenged Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision of a pastoral retreat within a crowded city, he spoke out in Olmsted’s defense.... Mr. Glazer’s turn to neoconservatism followed an almost paradigmatic path. Throughout the 1950s, and even after he went to work for the Kennedy administration’s Housing and Home Finance Agency in 1962-63, he continued to consider himself a radical. But if, as his longtime friend Irving Kristol put it, a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality, then Mr. Glazer got hit over the head...."

From "Nathan Glazer, Urban Sociologist and Outspoken Intellectual, Dies at 95" (NYT).

Finally, some relief from the heat.

I knew it had to be good and cold — at last! — from the look of the morning sunlight on the plume from the steam plant:


Did Trump just threaten Pelosi with a "big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally"?

January 19, 2019

At the Deep Snow Café...


... you can talk all night.

"BuzzFeed's report... as written, was as clean as it gets: Trump directed Cohen to lie about the Trump Tower in Moscow project, and there’s tons of evidence to support that."

"Very rarely has a story been so unequivocal — usually there are more hedges and acknowledgments of what isn't known. And unlike most other reportage in this saga, this accused the president of a felony — a very different bar. Democrats read the story and began immediately dreaming up articles of impeachment. Even some conservatives joined the 'If true' chorus...."

Writes Axios in "A reckoning for political journalism" (also reporting that BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith is standing by his story, saying "We literally don't know what the special counsel is referring to" and "This is a line of reporting that has been repeatedly vindicated").

Badgers beat Michigan.

That was amusing.

"President Trump plans to use remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room on Saturday afternoon to propose a notable immigration compromise, according to sources familiar with the speech."

"The offer is expected to include Trump’s $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act — which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.... Advocates for the plan argue that by offering the new proposal, Trump is showing he’s willing to negotiate while Pelosi remains unmoved. But even some top Republicans are skeptical Trump's overture will be enough to break the logjam."

Says Axios.

Even if its not "enough to break the logjam," it's enough to allow him to say I offered a specific compromise and you didn't... unless and until they do make a specific counteroffer.

"[Kamala] Harris is not, of course, alone in possessing 'baggage' that will attract criticism from within her own party and intense media scrutiny."

"Joe Biden famously has enough baggage to derail a train’s luggage car. Critics of Bernie Sanders always suspected that conservatives built a massive oppo research file on the Vermont socialist that they would have pushed with hundreds of millions of dollars of negative 'stories' and ads had he won the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, matching or exceeding the damage they did to Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren has struggled to overcome the stupid but pervasive 'Pocohontas' taunt, along with persistent (if probably sexist) doubts about her 'likability.' Cory Booker’s past links with Wall Street and support for private school vouchers will be a problem for him. Both Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand are vulnerable to the kind of 'flip-flopper' charges that tend to undermine voter trust. And Amy Klobuchar’s history of high staff turnover has spurred rumors about her personality and temperament.... [I]t’s best for Democrats to deal with the baggage now rather than later...."

Writes Ed Kilgore in "2020 Candidates Carry Heavy Baggage, and Trump Will Everything He Can to Exploit That" (which begins with the NYT op-ed about Kamala Harris that we talked about here 2 days ago).

"Video footage showed dozens of people in an almost festive atmosphere gathered in a field where a duct had been breached by fuel thieves. Footage then showed..."

"... flames shooting high into the air against a night sky and the pipeline ablaze. Screaming people ran from the explosion, some themselves burning and waving their arms.... Lost shoes were scattered around the scorched field, as were plastic jugs and jerry cans that the victims had carried to gather spilling fuel. 'Ay, no, where is my son?' wailed Hugo Olvera Estrada, whose 13-year-old son, Hugo Olvera Bautista, was at the spot where the fire erupted. Wrapped in a blanket outside a clinic, the man had already gone to six local hospitals looking for his child...."

From "At least 66 dead in massive Mexico gas pipeline blast; 85 still missing" (AP).

People are criticizing Gladys Knight for accepting the invitation to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

CNN reports.

My reaction is, in this order: 1. Don't criticize Gladys Knight, 2. Don't make singing the National Anthem into a bad thing, 3. The question of protesting the National Anthem is separate, and if you want to defend the players who have been protesting, you're making a big leap if you go from arguing that the protest is respectful, respectable, and permissible to saying that protest is required and anyone not protesting is to be disrespected, 4. Those who are making that big leap are confirming the fears of the kind of people who worry that once something is permitted we're on a slippery slope to its being required.

The Daily Beast calls this — from Bill Maher — a "sexual harassment meltdown."

I'm reading "UNBELIEVABLE/Bill Maher Has Sexual-Harassment Meltdown Over Bernie Sanders Story on ‘Real Time’/The HBO host appeared to minimize the allegations of sexual harassment in Bernie Sanders’ campaign, saying, 'It didn’t seem like it was the worst kind of sexual harassment'" — about this segment on last night's show:

I hate the overuse of the term "meltdown," which I believe used to be more common. I don't like the implication that a person speaking with passion is becoming mentally incompetent. In fact, I'd prefer to promote a counter-theory — that a person speaking in a flat, emotionless manner is lacking full mental competence. (He's not engaged, he's not expressing something that he really thinks, he's mechanically mouthing rote nothings.)

A lot goes on in that short sequence. Maher says Democrats are hurting themselves too much by attacking their own over things that aren't really all that bad. He says things like: "If the Democrats are going to keep killing their own—Al Franken, Eliot Spitzer, Gore didn’t support Clinton from the blowjob horror—I don’t know where it ends."

He gets a lot of pushback from Catherine Rampell (a WaPo columnist). And Barney Frank is there and quite amusing taking Maher to task for saying that the Sanders campaign worker may have misread "signals." The idea that women are "signalling" deserves examination and gets it.

Meanwhile, at HuffPo, they're attacking Bill Maher over something else: "Bill Maher Jokes About Penetration Between Donald Trump And Vladimir Putin":
"He did nothing when they told him Russia was meddling in our elections, he fired Comey when he was looking into that shit, he wants to get out of NATO, he met Putin five times," Maher said. “That’s a lot of times in just a couple of years, always with nobody around. Nobody can know what they’re doing. Forget collusion, I want to know if there’s penetration”...

Joe Rogan rants about the Gillette "toxic masculinity" commercial...

... and — within 3 minutes — gets on to the topic of southern accents and the fact that — because of the internet — there are now "cool people everywhere":

IN THE COMMENTS: Tim in Vermont says:
“Toxic masculinity” is either sloppy language, or a slur against all men.
I've been meaning to write a post about the phrase. There is a big problem with it, because there are basically 2 ways to understand it and one is so offensive that it should probably be avoided, because if you mean the one that I think is okay, you're still likely to be misunderstood and you are — even if only unwittingly — emitting some hate vibes.

The okay meaning sees the adjective "toxic" in "toxic masculinity" like the adjective "red" in "red shoes." It identifies a subcategory — the shoes that are red (as opposed to all the many other shoes) and the masculinity that is toxic (as opposed to all the other masculinity).

The hateful meaning sees the adjective "toxic" in "toxic masculinity" like the adjective "beloved" in "beloved country." You're referring to one thing — one country or masculinity as a single concept — and you're branding it as "beloved" or "toxic."

Let me use a survey to try to understand how you have been reading the term. I have not found the Gillette commercial hateful, and a lot of you have disagreed with me, and I suspect it's because I'm hearing the okay meaning and you're hearing the hateful meaning. (You can watch the commercial at that link.)

When you hear "toxic masculinity" in the Gillette commercial, what meaning do you hear?
pollcode.com free polls

I will ignore... and resist...

It's sentence-diagramming time at Althouse. Today's sentence comes from Roger Cohen in a NYT column titled "The Strange Persistent Troubling Russian Hang-Up of Donald Trump":
I will ignore the hermetic sealing of Trump’s personality against decency, and resist the temptation to riff on Abraham Lincoln’s brooding portrait in the White House dining room above the buffoon in chief with his burgers, to ask a simple question: If President Donald Trump is a Russian asset, what would he be working to achieve?
I'm just into examining that as a sentence because, as the post title reveals, I am exasperated with the get-Trump enterprise.

But let me say something about punctuation. The commas after "decency" and "burgers" are not right, especially if you're going to be as comma-averse as to write "The Strange Persistent Troubling Russian Hang-Up of Donald Trump."

And my resistance is not strong enough to keep me from saying if you're going to pontificate about strange persistent troubling hang-ups of Donald Trump, you need to pause now and then and consider  strange persistent troubling hang-ups about Donald Trump.

By the way, I wonder whether some people — ordinary people who don't really want to have to follow politics too much — are going to be influenced in the 2020 election to vote against Trump just to help all the strangely persistently troublingly hung-up people.

"CNN anchor John King asked on Friday if it matters that taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for Karen Pence's housing and Secret Service protection if the vice president's wife is teaching at a private school that seeks to exclude LGBTQ students and staff members."

Sometimes I read something that gives me an instant headache. A literal headache. This was one of those times. The article is in The Hill.

"But on Friday, Trump and Pence spoke again. And again, some said they were unhappy to associate the antiabortion movement with a president they dislike."

I'm reading the Washington Post article about yesterday's March for Life, "Trump and Pence give surprise addresses at antiabortion March for Life."
[L]last year, when Trump addressed the crowd, some complained that the polarizing president distanced those who aren’t fans of Trump from the antiabortion movement. In this shifting environment, the march leaders picked science as their theme this year — under the headline, “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.”

March for Life president Jeanne Mancini and other leaders of the movement said before the march that they wanted to include a politically diverse audience of anyone who opposes abortion — which, according to polling, includes at least a quarter of Democratic voters, although antiabortion Democrats in Congress are a rapidly dwindling group. ...

“I think the most dangerous thing we ever did is make this a partisan issue. It’s a human rights issue,” said Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, 35, president of a group called New Wave Feminists that brought about 50 marchers to the event....
How many marchers were there? The first sentence of the article gives the only clue: "President Trump and Vice President Pence surprised thousands of protesters demonstrating against abortion on the Mall in Washington...." Thousands? That surprised me because I searched for a news story on the 2019 March for Life after I happened across this aerial video of a mindbogglingly huge crowd.

How many people am I seeing in that video? I googled "how many people at March For Life 2019," looking for another news report. First, I clicked on USA Today:
Thousands of anti-abortion activists, including many young people bundled up against the cold weather gripping the nation's capital, gathered at a stage on the National Mall Friday for their annual march in the long-contentious debate over abortion.

CNN: "Crowds of people packed the National Mall on Friday for the March for Life, an annual march against abortion." Crowds!

Is the video I looked at fake news?

Anyway, here's the video and text of Trump's address (which, unlike Pence's, was presented on video at the event). Excerpt:
This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life. When we look into the eyes of a newborn child, we see the beauty and the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation. We know that every life has meaning and that every life is worth protecting, As president, I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence -- the right to life.
Did he mention the science theme — "Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science"? That's debatable. He said: "Every child is a sacred gift from God. As this year's March For Life theme says, each person is unique from Day One." He said "unique from Day One," which is the proposition some of the speakers discussed in scientific terms. But he doesn't say "science," and his stated support for the proposition is religious: "Every child is a sacred gift from God."

January 18, 2019

At the Red Eye Café...

... you can stay up all night.

(And remember that you can use the Althouse Portal for your Amazon shopping.)

"Mueller Statement Disputes Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie."

The NYT reports.
The rare public statement by a spokesman for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, challenged the facts of an article published by BuzzFeed News on Thursday evening saying that Mr. Cohen had told prosecutors about being pressured by the president before his congressional testimony.

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said the spokesman, Peter Carr.

The Buzzfeed report led to a flurry of statements by senior members of Congress before Mr. Carr’s statement who said that the allegations, if true, could be grounds for initiating impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump....
Never mind. How embarrassing for the Trump haters. I didn't even write about the Buzzfeed story myself. I'm so jaded about the latest impeachment bait.

"When Keizer and the nurse who was to assist him arrived, they found around 35 people gathered around the dying man’s bed."

"'They were drinking and guffawing and crying,' Keizer told me when I met him in Amsterdam recently. 'It was boisterous. And I thought: "How am I going to cleave the waters?" But the man knew exactly what to do. Suddenly he said, "OK, guys!" and everyone understood. Everyone fell silent. The very small children were taken out of the room and I gave him his injection. I could have kissed him, because I wouldn’t have known how to break up the party.' Keizer is one of around 60 physicians on the books of the Levenseindekliniek, or End of Life Clinic, which matches doctors willing to perform euthanasia with patients seeking an end to their lives, and which was responsible for the euthanasia of some 750 people in 2017. For Keizer, who was a philosopher before studying medicine, the advent of widespread access to euthanasia represents a new era. 'For the first time in history,' he told me, 'we have developed a space where people move towards death while we are touching them and they are in our midst. That’s completely different from killing yourself when your wife’s out shopping and the kids are at school and you hang yourself in the library – which is the most horrible way of doing it, because the wound never heals. The fact that you are a person means that you are linked to other people. And we have found a bearable way of severing that link, not by a natural death, but by a self-willed ending. It’s a very special thing.'"

From "Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far?/Countries around the world are making it easier to choose the time and manner of your death. But doctors in the world’s euthanasia capital are starting to worry about the consequences" (The Guardian).

Some weary sighers and defeated shruggers are telling The Atlantic that only a shocking disaster can end the shutdown.

I'm reading "Waiting for a Shutdown to End in Disaster/Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table", from McKay Coppins:
The basic theory—explained to me between weary sighs and defeated shrugs—goes like this: Washington is at an impasse that looks increasingly unbreakable.... For a deal to shake loose in this environment, it may require a failure of government so dramatic, so shocking, as to galvanize public outrage and force the two parties back to the negotiating table.

[T]he one theme that ran through every conversation was a sense that the current political dynamics won’t change until voters get a lot angrier.... [O]ne congressional staffer who wondered aloud whether it might take a stressed-out air-traffic controller causing a plane crash to bring an end to the shutdown. And several aides worried that some kind of terrorist incident would end up serving as the catalyst to get the government up and running again....

If one thing unites most Republicans and Democrats on the Hill these days, it’s that there is little use in trying to negotiate in good faith with the Trump White House. The president is simply too volatile, too prone to change his mind in a fit of pique, too apt to reverse course after watching Fox News....
ADDED: I'm trying to understand "little use in trying to negotiate in good faith." I realize the author must want to say that Trump is in bad faith. But being "volatile" — or, redundantly, "prone to change" and  "apt to reverse course" — is not in itself in bad faith. It's a style of negotiating, and I suppose it's annoying and hard to match and beat, but "bad faith" entails deception and fraud. Perhaps the author means that Trump's negotiating style is so effective that those on the other side of the deal feel that if they "negotiate in good faith," they'll lose, and that's why there's "little use in trying" their usual techniques. 

Harry Truman said "If you can't stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen." Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says...

"It’s not the kitchen that’s popular, or the cooking that’s popular, it’s that I’m engaging people doing something I’m already doing." She was instructing her colleagues on how to do social media.

Here's the background on the Truman quote, from the Truman Library (where, if you click, you'll get a message that the site isn't being updated regularly because of the federal government shutdown, so this might not be the latest on Harry Truman):
One of the results of this system is that it gives the President a good many hot potatoes to handle--but the President gets a lot of hot potatoes from every direction anyhow, and a man who can't handle them has no business in that job. That makes me think of a saying that I used to hear from my old friend and colleague on the Jackson County Court. He said, "Harry, if you can't stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen." I'll say that is absolutely true.
For Truman, "the kitchen" was metaphorical. It meant the hard, complicated, stressful work of politics. For Ocasio-Cortez, it's literally the kitchen. She's talking about her highly successful Instagramming of herself in her kitchen:

And she's comparing herself favorable to Elizabeth Warren, whose stilted get-me-a-beer kitchen performance was so awkwardly wrong:

But AOC does pull out the old Harry Truman metaphor when cornered:

In my previous post, which is also about AOC's advice on doing social media, I focused on her word of wisdom: "If you’re an older woman, talk like an older woman talks." I wonder if she accepts the corollary: "If you’re a younger woman, talk like a younger woman talks." Because "If you can't stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen" is the way an old man talks.

"If you’re an older woman, talk like an older woman talks" — instructs Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez...

... in her lesson to Congresspeople on how to do Twitter.

Oh! Was that failing to talk like the generic "older woman" while being the specific older woman I readily admit I am?

Goodness gracious! I ought to withdraw from the fray and make toast and tea.

To be fair to AOC, she also said, "Don’t try to be anybody who you’re not" and "The top tip, I think, is really to be yourself and to really write your own tweets so that people know it’s you talking."

I agree with that advice, but I observe that it can only be followed by people who have a real self that anyone wants to hear talking.

And by the way, the proposition extends beyond social media. It applies to in-person talking — interviews and rallies. I want to feel that the words come from the brain of the person I'm seeing talking. It's something we expect from people we know in our ordinary life, and we have a well-tuned sense of who's being genuine and who's a phony. That's why we hate politicians instinctively.

Roll over, Beto, ven vill you go away?

Just a second post on the same topic as the last one because I thought of an alternative title.

Making Beto go away.

They know they have to do it. Here's what the early-stage ousting looks like on Drudge:

Reading the links (in order):

1. "MEDIA TURNING AGAINST 'BABBLING' BETO..." = "Preseason is over for Beto O'Rourke" (Carter Eskew in WaPo, reprinted at CT):
The nation's best and toughest reporters have his number and want nothing more than to take his measure and knock him down.... The love bubble surrounding O'Rourke is leaking. To his would-be Democratic rivals, he's no longer the scrappy, truth-telling, unifying underdog. He is now an upstart who threatens what they have spent years coveting. He is coming after what they think they deserve and he hasn't earned. And right now, there are smart operatives with deep media contacts from several campaigns who are talking smack to anyone who will listen.
2. "CNN: DRIPS WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE..." = "Beto's excellent adventure drips with white male privilege" (Nia-Malika Henderson, at CNN):
Imagine this: A 46-year-old former congresswoman and mother of three, who just lost a Senate bid to one of the most despised incumbents, sets off on a road trip adventure to clear her head. She instagrams part of her trip to the dentist. She gives a two-hour interview to The Washington Post where she shows no real knowledge of policy. Like a first-year college student, she pontificates on whether the Constitution is still a thing that matters after all these many years. And then she writes a stream of consciousness diary entry, where she is all in her sad and confused feelings, over ... something...

And Jack Kerouac-style, he roams around, jobless (does he not need a job?) to find himself and figure out if he wants to lead the free world. This is a luxury no woman or even minority in politics could ever have. But O'Rourke, tall, handsome, white and male, has this latitude, to be and do anything. His privilege even allows him to turn a loss to the most despised candidate of the cycle into a launching pad for a White House run. Stacey Abrams, a Yale-trained lawyer, couldn't do this.....
3. "'Draft' Video Hits Web..." = "Group aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video" (The Hill).

I watched this video before absorbing the message that it's not an ad by Beto himself but by "Draft Beto, a group of Democratic activists urging former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) to run for president." My reaction? I love the song ("Baba O'Riley"), but I doubt if the group got The Who's permission to use it, and it comes across as very "white male," so maybe it's subversively trying to wreck his chances. See #2, above.