March 30, 2019

"Hey, hey, hey, hey that’s unacceptable. And that’s the difference between me and Trump."

ADDED: AOC did not merely scold one audience member into silence. She characterized herself as doing this as a rule and deserving, because of this, to be regarded as distinctly different from Trump. Now, my tag is "civility bullshit," and that represents my belief that calls for civility are always bullshit. That is, I think they're made only when it serves the politician's interest. So keep an eye on AOC, and when she condones incivility, remember this post. I don't think she'll want to maintain this claimed difference between her and Trump. So remember to point it out when she doesn't.

Sam Donaldson wishfully predicts that Americans will be a bunch of humorless, fusty prigs.

This, reported in HuffPo, is ridiculous bullshit:
Veteran ABC news anchor Sam Donaldson warned Friday how President Donald Trump’s use of a curse word at a political rally this week may over time end up turning “a lot of people off.”

Trump said at an event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday that “the Democrats now have to decide if they will continue to defraud the American public with this ridiculous bullshit.”

It was in reference to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible Trump campaign collusion. 
Sam Donaldson. I hadn't heard of him in a good long while. But he's posturing as if he knows what turns a lot of people off. Meanwhile, Trump assumes we're ready to hear that ridiculous bullshit is ridiculous bullshit.

This gets my "civility bullshit" tag not because Trump said "bullshit." The tag isn't for saying "bullshit" or even saying things that I think are "bullshit." The tag is for bullshitting about civility, and that's what Sam Donaldson is doing. Donaldson says Trump's use of "bullshit" isn't civil, but Donaldson is bullshitting. That's civility bullshit.

It was genius of Trump to lure Donaldson into saying what caused the press to repeat the kick-ass line: "The Democrats now have to decide if they will continue to defraud the American public with this ridiculous bullshit."

And it was modestly smart of Donaldson to get the press to make a headline that begins "Sam Donaldson."

ADDED: It was just last December that people loved it that Michelle Obama said, "That shit doesn’t work all the time." And in 2012, Barack Obama called Mitt Romney a "bullshitter."

"Nicolas Cage has said he was 'too drunk' to get married in annulment papers filed four days after he tied the knot in Las Vegas."

"In court documents the actor claims he and now ex-wife Erika Koike were intoxicated and he 'lacked understanding of his actions in marrying [Koike] to the extent that he was incapable of agreeing to the marriage'... 'Prior to obtaining a marriage license and participating in a marriage ceremony, [Cage] and [Koike] were both drinking to the point of intoxication. As a result of his intoxication, when [Koike] suggested to [Cage] that they should marry, [Cage] reacted on impulse and without the ability to recognize or understand the full impact of his actions."

The Daily Mail reports.

I think this is video of the scene of the wedding...

I heard they were like 2 bottles of vodka walking around in human form.

It's not enough for women to succeed. Men must fail.

That's the message I take from this Daily Beast graphic:

The image is of a shattering of the symbol of the male. The conventional shattering we hear about when the topic is feminism is the shattering of the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling is a barrier that has kept women from rising beyond a certain point. It's glass because you don't see it. Women are told that they can rise and that there is no limit, but in reality, there is a ceiling. The glass ceiling metaphor led to the idea of breaking through the glass ceiling, and when you break glass, it shatters. But the glass shouldn't have been there in the first place. Maybe "shattering" feels like a feminist activity, but it is destructive, and it shouldn't be done to things you don't want to destroy. So I hate this image of shattering the male. Women are not trapped inside the male and needing to destroy him to achieve our full dimension. The male is not the equivalent of the glass ceiling.

The article is "Democrats Can Vote to End the Myth of the White Male Savior/As accomplished women fear that they’re imposters, men see greatness as their birthright. Will primary voters agree?" by Emma Goldberg (in The Daily Beast). I don't know how much supports the offensive message in the graphic. After the first 3 paragraph, it's blocked by a pay wall.
The 2020 Democratic primary will serve as a referendum on a whole host of political questions—chief among them the myth of the white male savior.

One of the assumptions stubbornly lodged in our cultural psyche is the belief in male genius, the notion of men destined for a hero’s journey. Women can be hardworking, motivated, enthusiastic—but not brilliant by nature. For children, this assumption forms as early as age 6; according to NYU psychologist Andrei Cimpian, girls rate their male classmates as better suited for activities that demand exceptional talent. This insecurity persists throughout women’s careers. Research in the journal American Psychologist found that women are less likely to apply for jobs when the description requires candidates with “a brilliant mind.” Another recent study, also by Cimpian, found that people associate terms like “genius” and “brilliance” more often with white men, not people of color.

It’s unsurprising that we find it so hard to undo our tightly held belief in white male saviors; it’s a story that gets perpetually reinforced. Harry Potter was anointed, from birth, to slay Lord Voldemort; Hermione Granger may be savvier and more hardworking, but without a messianic birthright, she remains just Harry’s sidekick. From Odysseus to Skywalker, we’ve been raised on tales of men who are reluctant to take on epic journeys but find that they were just born for it....
Perhaps Goldberg goes on to say that women can be brilliant and heroic too. I don't know, and I'm not going to subscribe to The Daily Beast to find out. Judging from the title, the idea is that we need to stop thinking of men as heroes. Is it that we need women to be our heroes or just that we ought to stop looking for heroes and give the job to a savvy, hardworking Hermione type? That makes sense to me, but I've never looked to politicians for salvation. The "Myth of the White Male Savior" isn't anything I've ever believed in. And I'm not interested in Harry Potter or Star Wars or all the many super-hero movies that fill the theater these days. Maybe America does have a problem of fixation on heroes, and maybe that does affect our willingness to vote for a woman for President because — on some deep level — we feel the hero is male.

If so, the "myth" might be something like a glass ceiling, and I might see the temptation to illustrate the concept with a shattering symbol of the male. But the temptation should have been resisted. It expresses a hateful intention toward a class of human beings.

Watching your front door security footage after your child has consumed the milkshake the DoorDash guy delivered.

You see the guy drinking the shake.

My question: Why would you accept delivery of a shake with an unwrapped, open straw sticking out of it? It's obviously unsanitary.

I was a little surprised to see this story made the front page of the New York Daily News. It's so piddlingly small. And yet... it is one of the nagging fears of modern life. You're not supervising the preparation and service of your own food. You want other people doing this work, and that means that many hands (and mouths and other body parts) touch or could touch your food. What's going on?
And here's a case where you've got video of what you fear....

March 29, 2019

It's been determined that it's time, at long last, to destroy Joe Biden.

Click image to enlarge and clarify. To get to clickable links, go to Memorandum, here.

Here's how the top story looks at Drudge:

"In moments between the wonder, awe and privilege of traveling through the world, I have been followed and harassed by men who assume I’m a sex worker, not a solo black female traveler simply trying to see a bit of the world."

Said Martha Mukaiwa (of Windhoek, Namibia, who has traveled to Thailand, Malaysia, Ghana, Indonesia, Germany, France, and Italy), quoted in "'Don’t Succumb to the Fear': Women Share Travel Safety Tips/No woman is responsible for harassment or any other violent act against her. But experienced travelers and government agencies show how to travel as safely as possible," a NYT article with this correction: "An earlier version of this article misquoted a woman who described her experiences being followed or harassed while traveling alone. She said she has been followed and harassed by men who assume she is 'a sex worker,' not 'a prostitute.'"

I wonder how that mistake happened. The quote expresses disrespect toward prostitutes, whether they are called prostitutes or not. The woman's attitude is how dare men assume I'm a prostitute. What's the switch to a euphemism supposed to do? The disrespect is still there, isn't it? It does say, I want to use the politically correct terms, but isn't that more about wanting to avoid the disrespect of the elite who will think you're not the right kind of person?

There I was tripping through the world with my wonder, awe and privilege, and men interfered with my fantasy by imagining that I was a woman who is working for a living. What's the problem? If "sex worker" means what correct-speakers act like it means, there is no problem! It's an insult only if you think of those women in the way that is expressed by the word "prostitute."

Perhaps that's what caused the transcription error, if it was in fact a transcription error. It's possible that the quote was accurate, post-publication criticism arose, and dignity was restored with the white lie "misquoted." It's also possible that it's a translation glitch, but English is the official language of Namibia.

"I just didn’t see films when I was young. I was stupid and naïve. Maybe I wouldn’t have made films if I had seen lots of others..."

"... maybe it would have stopped me. I started totally free and crazy and innocent. Now I’ve seen many films, and many beautiful films. And I try to keep a certain level of quality of my films. I don’t do commercials, I don’t do films pre-prepared by other people, I don’t do star system. So I do my own little thing."

Said Agnès Varda, quoted in "Agnès Varda, Influential French New Wave Filmmaker, Dies at 90" (NYT).

May I recommend "Cleo from 5 to 7"?

People seem to be experiencing Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke as occupying the same niche.

Try to explain the psychological structure of these emotions.

You might question the proposition. I'm getting it from articles like "Buttigieg is leaving Beto in the dust/The ninth installment of the Post Pundit 2020 Power Ranking" (WaPo). From the comments there: "Buttigieg's better than Beto's kennedy-look-alike charm!" "[Buttigieg is] Kind of like Beto but with substance," "And maturity," "Buttiegiege definitely surpasses Beto. As someone said, when Beto speaks, it's like there is dance music in his head. Mayor Pete talks substance."

The personal touch.

It's nice for actual political candidates (or their surrogates) to come right up to your house and ring the doorbell. But just because they want to get personal doesn't mean I can't be aloof. It's my house! I don't answer the doorbell.

"The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association issues statement condemning the Cook County State’s Attorney’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case."

Full text here. Excerpt (with boldface added):
The manner in which this case was dismissed was abnormal and unfamiliar to those who practice law in criminal courthouses across the State. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges alike do not recognize the arrangement Mr. Smollett received. Even more problematic, the State’s Attorney and her representatives have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal...

When an elected State’s Attorney recuses herself from a prosecution, Illinois law provides that the court shall appoint a special prosecutor. See 55 ILCS 5/3-9008(a-15).... Here, the State’s Attorney kept the case within her office and thus never actually recused herself as a matter of law.

Additionally, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office falsely informed the public that the uncontested sealing of the criminal court case was “mandatory” under Illinois law...

The appearance of impropriety here is compounded by the fact that this case was not on the regularly scheduled court call....

Lastly, the State’s Attorney has claimed this arrangement is “available to all defendants” and “not a new or unusual practice.”...  Central to any diversion program, however, is that the defendant must accept responsibility....

"Since 2008, the share of men younger than 30 reporting no sex has nearly tripled, to 28 percent."

WaPo reports, in "The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high/You can blame young people for this dry spell, data show."

Interesting... and you can speculate about the reasons — the article mentions unemployment, living with parents, and video games.

But I just want to say I was offended by "You can blame...".

What is blameworthy about not having sex? You might just as well say it's praiseworthy. I wouldn't say either. Sometimes sex is good and sometimes it isn't. But better than nothing is a high standard!

"Shortly after Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union, in 1985, he released a banned film, Repentance, that explored the underlying institutional, ideological, and personal dynamics of Stalinism."

"The film set off a nationwide media trial and condemnation of that murderous era. Though Russiagate has generated in America some Soviet-like practices and ruined a number of lives and reputations, it is, of course, nothing even remotely comparable to the Soviet Stalinist experience. By comparison, therefore, some introspective repentance on the part of Russiagate perpetuators should not be too much to ask. But... there is unlikely to be much, if any. Too many personal and organizational interests are too deeply invested in Russiagate.... No mainstream media did anything to expose, for example, two crucial and fraudulent Russiagate documents—the so-called Steele Dossier and the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment—but instead relied heavily on them for their own narratives.... Nor... was this entirely inadvertent or accidental. On August 8, 2016, the trend-setting New York Times published on its front page an astonishing editorial manifesto by its media critic. Asking whether 'normal standards' should apply to candidate Trump, he explained that they should not: 'You have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century.' Let others decide whether this Times proclamation unleashed the highly selective, unbalanced, questionably factual 'journalism' that has so degraded Russiagate media or instead the publication sought to justify what was already underway. In either case, this remarkable—and ramifying—Times rejection of its own professed standards should not be forgotten. Almost equally remarkable and lamentable, we learn that even now, after Mueller’s finding is known, top executives of the Times and other leading Russiagate media outlets, including The Washington Post and CNN, 'have no regrets.'"

From "The Real Costs of Russiagate/Its perpetrators, not Putin or Trump, 'attacked American democracy'" by Stephen F. Cohen (professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and author of "War With Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate").

"You have always been loyal to your nation. And now you have a President who is loyal to you — 100 percent."

"You rejected the failed political establishment that shipped away your jobs, sold out your sovereignty, and tied us down in endless foreign wars, which we're now winning and getting out.... You stood with me.... You took back your country. You recaptured your destiny. You defended your dignity. And you proudly reclaimed your freedom. Maybe for a second time. You have always been loyal to your nation. And now you have a President who is loyal to you — 100 percent. The Democrats took the people of Michigan for granted. But with us, you will never ever be forgotten again. You will never be take for granted — ever ever ever."

Trump's rally last night in Grand Rapids:

This is President Trump's argument to the people of Michigan, why they should vote for him again in 2020. What counterargument can the Democrats make to Michigan (and who among the Democrats can make it)? Listening to Trump's pitch, I felt it was so upbeat, so admiring and praising of people who usually hear that they're washed up and pathetic. Democrats seem only to offer empathy for their predicament — all their losses, their bad water, their victimhood. But Trump is building them up. They're the best people, the smartest people, the most loyal people.

I wish I had a transcript of the entire speech so I could count how many times Trump said "loyal." He combined loyalty to country with readiness to vote again for Trump. And he expressed loyalty to the country and loyalty to the voters.

You stood with me.... You took back your country... You have always been loyal to your nation. And now you have a President who is loyal to you.

Using the word loyalty rather than, say, patriotism, allows this combination of feeling for the country and for the individual human being. You could write an essay about the potential in this combination. Loyalty to a person may seem like something you have within families (and it also has a whiff of crime families). Loyalty to the country reminds us of its opposite — disloyalty. Treason.

I've transcribed a quote from the very end of the long oration, but the beginning was full of accusations of treason for those who perpetrated the Russia hoax in — as he sees it — a plot to overturn the result of the election.

So look for this "loyalty" theme. It has great potential to inflate the spirits of the people and to encourage them to stand with him "a second time." And it has great potential as an attack on his opponents who were — in his view — disloyal to their nation.

"Overwhelmed by pain and loneliness, [Barbara Bush] contemplated suicide. She would pull over to the side of the road until the impulse..."

"... to plow into a tree or drive into the path of an oncoming car had passed. 'I felt terrible. I would pull over and park so I wouldn't go hit a tree... I really wasn't brave enough to do that, but that's why I pulled over, so I wouldn't do that, or I wouldn't run into another car... I almost wonder why he didn't leave me.'..."

"The Matriarch Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty," quoted in The Daily Mail, "'I would pull over and park so I wouldn't go hit a tree.' Barbara Bush revealed how she fell into a deep depression and considered suicide while her husband George carried on decade-long affair with younger aide, explosive new bio reveals."
'Just seven years younger than Barbara and not a striking beauty, [Jennifer Fitzgerald] was flirty and solicitous and focused completely on him. Their surreptitious romance would last for more than a dozen years, inexplicable to those around him and impossible for anyone to manage', writes the author....

March 28, 2019

"Maybe, in fact, Trump is the genius he claims to be, possessed — as he likes to boast — of a 'very good brain.'"

"O.K., I don’t quite believe that. But going forward, it would be wise for all of his inveterate critics in the news media, including me, to treat it as our operating assumption. The alternative is to let him hand us our butts all over again, just as he did by winning the G.O.P. nomination and then the election, and then by presiding over years of robust economic growth. That should be the central lesson from the epic media fiasco of Russiagate."

Writes Bret Stephens in "Is Trump Keyser Söze — Or Inspector Clouseau?/Maybe the president brilliantly played the media. Or maybe we just played ourselves" (NYT).

Some day, Trump will tell us the secret.

The NYT struggles to cheer up the anti-Trumpsters with "Bad Times in Trumpville."

Bad times? How can that be?

Gail Collins writes:
I know some of you were very sad about the way the Mueller report let Donald Trump off the hook. Even if you secretly doubted that he was actually well-organized enough to run an international conspiracy, it made you depressed to see him looking so happy.

But then he took off on the worst victory lap since — well, do you remember that baseball player who celebrated his grand slam home run by leaping in the air and fracturing a leg?

“We’re not talking about health care right now, but I will,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

He also vowed to make the Republicans “the party of health care.” Great strategy!
And here we go again, presuming Trump does everything wrong... because you so much want him to be wrong. What if those thoughts he's causing you to have — thoughts about what an utter screw-up he is — are part of his genius way of winning?

"[T]he temperature setting in most workplaces is calibrated to men’s metabolic rates, so women are often uncomfortably cold..."

"... especially when the air conditioning kicks in. Or that until recently, even the White House did not have enough lactation rooms for the moms who wanted to work there. These are unfortunate realities that shouldn’t be ignored.... This week’s news from NASA reminds us why it’s so critical to talk honestly about the lasting legacies of a gender-biased era — the 'little' things that will affect the daily lives and careers of women for decades to come. When we don’t, it turns out that even the world’s best rocket scientists can forget that spacesuits were originally designed and built for men. Our girls — tomorrow’s astronauts — deserve better than that."

From "What the Failed All-Female Spacewalk Tells Us About Office Temperature/In a for-men, by-men world, the little things still really do hurt women" by Marisa Porges (who flew jets in the United States Navy and now heads an all-girls school)(in the NYT).

"Leading Democrats should explain how it is that their promises of 'more than circumstantial evidence of collusion,' as Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) put it, resulted in zero indictments on such charges when #MuellerTime ran out."

"Top intelligence officials, both current and retired, also owe us an explanation: not just for their explosive statements—such as former CIA director John Brennan’s prediction earlier this month that a new round of conspiracy indictments was coming—but for their investigatory decisions from the start. That includes relying on the Steele dossier to seek a surveillance warrant against Trump’s former campaign adviser Carter Page, and to open a counterintelligence investigation on Trump himself, motivated in part by disagreement with his public embrace of Russia. Accountability on this front may well serve Trump’s self-promotional claims of a 'witch hunt.' But it is vital that intelligence abuses be held to account as well, no matter the partisan consequences. A failure to do so could very well hurt progressives in the future, should overzealous intelligence officials put them in their sights."

From "RIP, Russiagate/The implosion of the collusion theory is a humiliation for everyone who promoted it" by Aaron Maté at The Nation.

The self-interest part is particularly amusing. Overzealous intelligence officials need to be held to account, because they could very well hurt progressives in the future. You should have been saying that all along.

"Can I tell you why I’m frustrated by this reparations conversation? It’s because it’s being reduced to a box to check..."

"... on a presidential list when this is so much more of a serious conversation. Do I support legislation that is race conscious about balancing the economic scales? Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it. In fact, I’ve got the only legislation, I think, in the entire congress that Columbia University says would virtually eliminate the racial wealth gap in our country. It’s something called baby bonds.... [I'm for] not only trying to right economic scales from past harms, but to make sure we are a country that creates a more beloved community where all dignity and humanity is affirmed of every single person."

Said Cory Booker, quoted in "6 key moments from Cory Booker’s CNN town hall" (Vox).

Baby bonds?
Booker’s plan would offer all newborns $1,000, and then add up to $2,000 annually for children in low-income households. By age 18, that could add up to serious money; Booker’s team estimates that for kids from lowest-income families, the nest egg would average some $46,000....

[E]very newborn would start out with $1,000 in a low-risk savings account managed by the Treasury Department. Booker’s team assumes in their analysis (as does Zewde) a 3 percent rate of return.

March 27, 2019

At the Night Mouse Café...

... crawl around wherever you like.

"When you’re younger, Lear doesn’t feel real. When you get to my age, you are Lear in every nerve of your body."

Said Laurence Olivier, some years back. He's quoted today in "At 82, Glenda Jackson Commands the Most Powerful Role in Theater/'King Lear' has long been the crowning performance for actors who know how to dominate a stage. As a longstanding member of Parliament, Jackson has unique insight into authority" (NYT).

Remember Glenda Jackson, half a century ago, in "Women in Love"?

Are you excited to see her now, as King Lear? I'd love to see this in the theater. I saw "King Lear" in the theater half a century ago. Playing King Lear was Lee J. Cobb. Remember Lee J. Cobb?

"Singer/songwriter Cardi B has confessed that she used to drug and rob men who were interested in her sexually after bringing them to hotels."

"She's responded to criticism for this by saying the men were 'willing' and 'aware.'... If a male pop star confessed to these kinds of crimes against women, then defended himself by vaguely making it sound like the women really wanted it or were asking for it, his career would be over.... The way society has this muted response to the worst kinds of abuse of men by women is doubly sexist: (1) obviously sexist against men by not caring about them being wronged, but also (2) insidiously sexist against women because of the implication, 'She’s just a girl — surely she couldn’t have done that much harm . . .'"

Writes my son John (on his blog).

"Openly disagreeing with people here is like pooping in the pool."

From "Leaving the 'liberal bubble'/Iconoclastic history professor John Sharpless retires" (Isthmus).
Sharpless taught American history, specializing in statistical methods, comparative demography, and exploration. Political science was never part of his official syllabus, but since 1975, his classroom has been a space for safe political discussions between both left and right leaning students.

“I think it’s more about how I treated students generally,” says Sharpless, 73, who gave his final lecture on Dec. 11. “I treated them as adults whose opinions should be respected and I was always truly interested in what each person had to say. I still am.”...

“These labels have put people into their own bubbles, which is hard for those of us who are really just a bundle of ideas,” says Sharpless. “We tend to talk to people we know agree with us to reinforce what we already believe. I tell my students to get out of their bubbles but I realize it’s extremely difficult because if you push too hard against the walls of that bubble, the people who are in there with you might turn against you.”

"I think you don’t run for second place.... If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary."

"And if I don’t enter a primary, my job is to make certain that the best Democrat becomes the nominee and whoever wins the primary that we make sure that person gets elected in 2020."

Said Stacey Abrams on "The View."

According to "The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty" by USA Today reporter Susan Page, Barbara Bush blamed Trump for what she called her "heart attack."

I'm reading "Barbara Bush said ‘angst’ over Trump led to heart issue, according to new book" (WaPo).
“It wasn’t technically a heart attack, though she called it that. It was a crisis in her long battle with congestive heart failure and chronic pulmonary disease that hit her like a sledgehammer one day in June 2016,” Page wrote in USA Today. But, Page added: “The tumultuous presidential campaign in general and Trump’s ridicule of son Jeb Bush in particular had riled her. 'Angst,’ she told me.”...

Bush was so concerned about Trump that after first expressing hesitancy about her son Jeb running for president, she ultimately gave in — and even campaigned for him, according to Page.
Is she blaming Trump or blaming Jeb? Jeb was a terrible candidate, and his early accumulation of money hampered other candidates who might have been more competitive. I'm sure it hurt to see her son battered about, but that's what a campaign is. Everyone gets ridiculed, and I think Jeb ridiculed Trump too. Trump just came up with effective attacks, but, if I remember correctly, Trump specialized in fighting back when he was attacked.

ADDED: From February 2016, "The 17 saddest moments of Jeb Bush’s very sad campaign" (Vox).

Street art.

"An exuberant President Trump is considering attending the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, which he boycotted the last two years."

Axios reports.
Yesterday's post-Mueller trip to Capitol Hill was being called a "victory lap" — and this could be his next stop.... Historian Ron Chernow is the featured speaker. The association isn't having an entertainer this year.
Well, if they have Trump, they will have an entertainer.
It goes without saying: It could be awkward for both sides.
Ha ha.

I hadn't noticed that Trump went to Capitol Hill yesterday. Here's the AP article about that:
Trump strode into a high-spirited gathering of Senate Republicans on Tuesday, flanked by party leaders, saying the attorney general’s weekend summary of Mueller’s report “could not have been better.” GOP senators applauded his arrival, and he celebrated what he called his “clean bill of health.”...

Trump’s hour-long talk to Senate Republicans touched on trade, foreign policy and a vote later in the day on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which the Senate declined to take up. Trump said the climate-change proposal would be a good campaign issue to fight over with Democrats.
"declined to take up" = voted 57 to 0 against. There was a vote, so they "took up" the idea in the sense that they had a vote. AP is ambiguous in a way that feels pro-Democrat to me.

"I'd love to know what it is about this president that makes these people so loyal. Even if they're fans of his policies..."

"... how can they overlook his crass behavior, his sycophantic praise of dictators, and his obvious attempts at obstructing justice (and many more offenses) to the extent that they will put so much effort into celebrating 'No Collusion'? I can't help but feel they're part of a cult of personality that blinds them to the many apparent shortcomings of Trump as a leader, and it's that more than any actual leadership on his part that drives them. It frightens me that these demonstrations of hero worship have become a defining element of American culture, and I hate feeling this way about my countrymen."

The 4th-highest-rated comment at "Russian Vodka. A ‘No Collusion Day’ Rally. Trump Fans Celebrate the Mueller Report" (NYT).

"Within MSNBC, there’s an acknowledgement that the Trump-Russia narrative on which the cable network—and especially its primetime star Maddow—built monster ratings has fizzled for the moment."

"Insiders also claim not to be surprised that the conclusion of the long-awaited Mueller report—or at least the Trump-appointed attorney general's summary—was a whimper, not a bang for an outlet that has invested so much time and energy, in primetime and throughout its dayparts, in the notion that Trump is unworthy of the Oval Office and might at some point be forced to give it up. And it’s also possible that the Mueller disappointment drove loyal viewers away in much the same way that people avoid looking at their 401(k)s when the stock market is down. Maddow, who has consistently vied for the first or second top-rated cable news program, was sixth on Monday evening, down almost 500,000 total viewers from the previous Monday, as was MSNBC’s second top-rated program in primetime, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.... The hope now is that Trump’s conduct as president, along with the ramping up of the 2020 presidential campaign, will prove powerful storylines that will give MSNBC the opportunity to regroup.... 'This stuff ebbs and flows,' said one network insider. 'I think we’re ebbing.'"

From "MSNBC’s Trump-Russia Ratings Fizzle: ‘Time to Pivot to 2020’/The Mueller report and its potential implications have driven the network’s coverage—and monster ratings—for two years. Now it’s ended with a whimper, leaving execs in a bind" (Daily Beast).

Maddow was way down on Monday night, but I watched, and I hadn't watched Maddow in months. I wonder how many of her Monday viewers were people like me, who have not been feeding on collusion delusion and wanted to see how it looks when a collusion delusionist deflates. But one night of that was enough. It's not as funny as you might think. It's boring.

ADDED: I learned a new word there: "dayparts."


"... 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place."

"A group of male students in their program created the list more than a year ago... Dozens of senior girls decided to speak up to the school administration and to their male classmates, demanding not only disciplinary action in response to the list but a schoolwide reckoning about the toxic culture that allowed it to happen. 'It was the last straw, for us girls, of this "boys will be boys" culture... We’re the generation that is going to make a change.'...The girls and administrators agreed that they should have a large meeting with the male students in the program, including the boys who created and circulated the list.... Sitting toward the center of the room during the meeting was the male student credited with creating the list, an 18-year-old senior in the IB program. After listening to all of the girls’ speeches, many of which were directed specifically to him, he stood up and spoke to the group, admitting to making the list and apologizing for the hurt it caused.... The Bethesda-Chevy Chase students are planning a day next month in which pairs of students — one senior girl and one senior guy — will go to the younger students’ classes to talk about toxic masculinity, said... one of the senior girls taking the lead on the campaign."

From "Teen boys rated their female classmates based on looks. The girls fought back" (WaPo).

In a simulation....

"if... only."

March 26, 2019

At Bluey's Café...

... you can talk all night.

Mueller's name is quickly disappearing from the pages of mainstream media.

Sometimes one letter at a time....

I've noticed that The Washington Post and The New York Times have practically scrubbed the name Mueller from their pages. Over at New York Magazine, they're changing the focus to Hillary and they've pared his name down to "Muller." What happened to the "e"? Maybe it's gone the way of Hillary's e-mail.

Can you believe they're pushing the problem of those crazy Republicans who can't let go of their Hillary hatred? The story is the insane vortex of hatred for Donald Trump that caused a bizarre hoax to preoccupy the country for 2 years. I want responsibility taken for this hoax. If Hillary Clinton was part of what happened, we need to look straight at it (and not be scared off by the notion that it's an emotional problem, an "obsession").

Pope Francis jerks his hand away from people trying to kiss his ring.

He seems to think it's funny, his withdrawal of consent to this old-time practice:

"John Allen, a veteran Vatican journalist and editor of the online Catholic news site Crux, concurred, saying Francis’s actions Monday are one further move in a trend that’s continued since Pope John XXIII to 'dial down the tradition of subservience,' which has traditionally marked the papacy over the centuries, Francis’s reaction, he believes, is one further step to demystify one of the world’s most secretive institutions, and after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), popes have made gradual efforts to bring the office into the modern era," WaPo reports.

The Senate votes on the Green New Deal — and it fails 0 to 57.

The no votes are all the Republicans and 4 of the Democrats. No yes votes at all. The rest of the Senators voted "present."

WaPo reports. And opines:
[T]he vote amounted to a political show vote as President Trump and Republicans deride the Green New Deal, but few in Congress have worked on crafting a bipartisan approach to deal with climate change....

One irony of the Green New Deal proposal is that it is forcing some Republicans to put forward their own climate proposals after being led by for two years by Trump, who has repeated dismissed as a hoax the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that humans are warming the world.

"[I]t was Mueller, not Barr, who concluded there was no underlying crime, so if the next stage of this madness is haggling over an obstruction charge..."

"... that would likely entail calling for a prosecution of Trump for obstructing an investigation into what even Mueller deemed non-crime. After all the insistence that we put our trust in St. Mueller because he 'knows all,' the new story suddenly is that Mueller all along didn’t know and didn’t try to know.... Therefore, despite the fact that Mueller didn’t determine he had evidence for a charge, we can 'infer his conclusions by reviewing how he marshaled the evidence for and against guilt.' This meant we should read between the lines of what Mueller ended up 'saying,' so we can divine (I use that religious word on purpose) his true meaning. By not delivering the desired goods, Mueller is now being described as 'The God that failed Democrats,' by Edward Luce of the Financial Times, who makes the shockingly belated observation that the Democrats putting all their hopes in the 'magic bullet' of the Mueller investigation 'postponed the harder, less glamorous work the party needs to be doing.'... Members of the media... spent two years speaking of Mueller in mythical tones, hyping him as the savior who was pushing those 'walls' that were forever said to be 'closing in' on Trump.... This manipulative brand of news programming preyed upon the emotional devastation of liberal audiences, particularly the older people who watch cable. It told them the horror they felt over Trump’s election would be alleviated in short order. The median age of the CNN viewer is 60 and MSNBC’s is 65, and these people were urged for years to place their trust in Santa BOB, who knew all and whose investigation would surely lead to impeachment and 'the end.' All you had to do was keep turning in, because the good news could come any minute now!"

Writes Matt Taibbi in "As the Mueller Probe Ends, New Russiagate Myths Begin/Donald Trump couldn’t have asked for a juicier 2020 campaign issue" (Rolling Stone).

For similar outrage against CNN and MSNBC for making money flogging the Russia hoax, watch Glenn Greenwald on Tucker Carlson (from last night):

"I gotta say, I don’t know any 23-year-old that cares about any of this stuff: Homer, Charley Patton, Grant... How did you get into this stuff?"

"Again, I got my eye on being one of them. To me, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, it’s really three sides of the same coin to me. It’s the American canon. This is what our country is. I hope the Republic lasts forever, but if it doesn’t, this is the stuff we will be judged by by future generations. Look, Lincoln was the first writer, Twain after him, to write American as if American was a language itself. And I actually studied Lincoln’s writings a lot. And the reason is because every line says something. Every line is important. There’s never any stuff that’s not supposed to be there."

From "Bob Dylan’s Grandson Pablo Explains Why He Went From Hip-Hop to Folk-Rock/He’s just 23, but Pablo Dylan already says he wants to be 'the biggest star in the world'" (Rolling Stone).

"Charges Dropped In Jussie Smollett Case."

CBS Chicago reports.

ADDED: The Chicago Sun Times reports:
“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice, and sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power, you’ll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way,” [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel said. “There is no accountability in the system. It is wrong, full stop.”

Ed Wodnicki, the 18th District police commander who oversaw the investigation, called the decision to drop the charges “a kick in the gut." He said the $10,000 in bond forfeited by Smollett “doesn’t come close” to covering the cost in resources and manpower to probe the heater case that drew national attention.“I think the citizens of Chicago should be upset about that... We wasted time and effort on a reported serious, serious crime, to get to the point that it’s a lie? I want reimbursement. I’m a citizen in the city of Chicago. I want my money back... We were absolutely prepared to go to trial. We were rock solid. We were excited to have this case prosecuted”....
Can Chicago prosecute anybody for making a false report now?

"Obama, these people said, made few if any remarks about Trump or the newly released conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election."

"Impeachment also never came up. Rather, the evening was casual and friendly. Obama spoke about his own experience in Congress, however brief it was before his ascension to the White House. The former president — who had campaigned for a number of freshmen in the room — said he was proud of them for fighting for what they believed was right."

I'm reading "Obama cautions freshman House Democrats about the price tag of liberal policies" (WaPo), reporting on an Obama appearance at a Democratic Party rally that happened yesterday.

I have to highlight this one sentence, because... "garner"...
While the more liberal freshmen have garnered much of the attention in Washington, many first-year Democrats hail from swing- or even red districts and have struggled with how to respond to the emboldened far-left.
I just created a new tag this morning, "Obama and the Russia hoax." So this is my second post with that tag. It's not surprising that Obama doesn't want to talk about this subject, but I want to know about his role in getting the hoax rolling. Was he just a passive bystander? His party has a lot to account for. Where was his leadership?

I remember when Trump won the election. Obama sounded so gracious the morning after the election:
"We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country," Obama said in a statement in the Rose Garden. "The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy, and over the next few months we are going to show that to the world.... Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We're not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first... This was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so, but that's the nature of campaigns. That's the nature of democracy. It is hard and sometimes contentious and noisy. It's not always inspiring.... Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election.... We try really hard to persuade people that we're right, and then people vote, and then we lose. We learn from our mistakes. We do some reflection. We lick our wounds. We brush ourselves off. We get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time."
The "arena" is the public space — politics, fought out in the open. The goal is the next election. That's not where Democrats chose to "go at it" and "try even harder." Was that Rose Garden speech a con or did he believe what he was saying at the time?

How did the late-night TV comedy guys deal with Mueller's vindication of Trump?

I'll try to figure out the answer by just reading the WaPo article "'I’m sorry that you’re a terrible president': Late-night hosts 'apologize' to Trump in aftermath of Mueller findings." Even though I can't trust WaPo, I don't have the patience to actually watch these shows. The headline makes me think the answer is they just came out and said I've always hated Trump and that's really what all this "Russia" bullshit was about anyway.

Okay, let me read...
... Trump and his supporters [have mounted] vigorous attacks against his critics, demanding they apologize.

During his CBS show, Colbert appeared to bend to the pressure...  “I have said one or two things about Donald Trump, like how he’s a terrible president, so I’m just going to bite the bullet and say it,” Colbert told his audience. A camera zoomed in dramatically on the host’s face, ready to capture the monumental moment.

“Mr. President, if you’re watching, and I know you are,” he said, pausing to take a deep breath, “I’m sorry that you’re a terrible president.”

Over on Comedy Central, [Trevor] Noah begrudgingly admitted that “The Daily Show” also needed to apologize to Trump. “Mr. President, we’re sorry we called you a Russian-pee-loving-pumpkin-headed-colludasaurus,” Noah said. “Portions of that name were not accurate.... It’s a little bit like coming down the stairs on Christmas morning... You were hoping for a brand-new BMX, but instead you find Santa’s dead body, burnt because your parents forgot to turn off the fire.”
To be fair, Noah is not an American citizen (I don't think). But Americans are listening to him, and he's on American TV purporting to deliver comic commentary on American government and politics, and he is communing with viewers who, he assumes, cherished a hope — a downright unpatriotic hope — that American President is in league with its Russian enemies.

Colbert echoed or mocked this despicable hope: "This weekend we received some troubling news... Our president is not a Russian asset."

From Jimmy Kimmel: "Now, the process of tearing our country even further apart can finally begin." That's badly written, because you don't "begin" to do something that you're already doing. The words "even further apart" don't save it. The sentiment is good, but it's pathetic that writers on a big network show can't polish their gags any better than that.

What about Jimmy Fallon? Does he not exist anymore? He's not in the WaPo article. I had to trudge over to the Chicago Tribune:
And Jimmy Fallon of the “Tonight Show” did have a new episode Monday, but not really: It had no fresh comedy or monologue and its point seemed to be to serve as an extended infomercial for the new Samsung phone used to shoot it outside of the usual studio.
Oh. Boring.

Anyway, these shows are awful. But I guess they're a comfy enough cocoon for some American pupae.

AND: Speaking of Christmas hopes, remember this?

Is it foolish to think this painting of union workers killing strikebreakers expresses something about homosexuality?

I'm reading ""Modern Art Critic Assumes 1939 Painting Is All About Homophobia. It's About Murderous Union Thugs."/Paul Cadmus's Herrin Massacre is 'The Painting Our Art Critic Can't Stop Thinking About.' If only he'd thought harder" by Robby Soave (in Reason).
The Herrin massacre had nothing to do with homophobia; it was a labor dispute that ended with union workers massacring a bunch of people who had been hired to replace them....

This is a fascinating chapter in the history of American labor, and one that we don't often revisit. For modern progressives, unions are generally the good guys—an important branch in the tree of intersectionality. (Though they occasionally cause trouble. Trump attracted some union support.) Cadmus reminds us that they could be thuggish; in his painting, he portrays the unionists as ugly, sullen, drunken, murderous brutes.

It's not that the painting is devoid of gay content—the victims are shirtless and ripped—but to portray it as an obvious metaphor for anti-gay violence is to insert modern grievances where they don't belong....
Gay content? By that standard, all the paintings of the Crucifixion have gay content.

The art critic, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is Jerry Saltz. To be fair, he's looking at a painting that was included in a show called "The Young and Evil," which is (as Saltz puts it) "on the homosexual body in America as rendered by gay and bisexual artists from 1929 to 1957." Saltz is clear that "The actual event pictured was a 1922 massacre of strikebreakers by laborers that left 23 dead in an Illinois mining town." I don't think Saltz is confused about what the painting depicts and why the murders happened. It's just that it's a painting by a man who was gay (or bisexual), and it highlights male bodies, and it was included in the "Young and Evil" show. Saltz doesn't say the actual murders had to do with homophobia. He only says it shows "American violence, secular fundamentalism, crazed crowds, execution, martyrdom, the starvation of the spirit, and a complete lack of amazing grace."

Who knows what Cadmus really intended to express? Cadmus was commissioned by Life Magazine, but he got to pick the historical moment he depicted. He could have chosen this scene because he thought of it as a picture of some other kind of murder, and he could have chosen in because, as Soave concedes, it let him paint a bunch of beautiful reclining male bodies in a state of physical extremity. Who know what is in the artist's mind? And any viewer of the painting can meditate on these things without being a fool. Soave would like to forefront union thuggery, but Saltz doesn't have to, and the people who put the "Young and Evil" show together also obviously didn't.

Let's think about all the great historical paintings that hang in museums. Are they really about the specific event they depict or are they often about something else entirely? And where does the reality lie? In the mind of the dead artist? The painting matters and is on the wall now because it has some capacity to live in our own minds. And there are so many murder scenes in paintings that are, it seems to me, really about fleshly sensuality. And that includes some of those Crucifixion paintings.

"Well, I don't know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected that there was more than there actually was."

Said John Brennan, who once led the CIA, quoted at "$25 Million Later, 3 Pundits Kind-of-Sort-of Change Their Minds on Collusion/Shockingly, most people are sticking to their guns" (Reason).

Doesn't it seem wrong that the former director of the CIA is now a "pundit"? And why wasn't he a better pundit? He's just... people gave me information and I was kinda confused by it. But at least he's not digging in, like the rest of the embarrassed clowns.

Who are the other 2 pundits? Jeffrey Toobin ("Certainly the most important thing is the total vindication of the president and his staff on the issue of collusion. There's just no way around that") and Joe Scarborough ("the release of Robert Mueller's report was the best day of [Trump's] presidency. But also another big headline: It is good news").

"These people who are already insecure about losing their job switch on the TV, look at the newspaper and hear that they are being described as bigots, racists... and they resent it."

"And the one thing I would urge you people who do this type of content is try and complete the idea of 'the other' being in the room because they can hear what you are saying.... Don’t tell them everything is good. That you deserve it and that you are all basically slaveholders under their skin blah, blah, blah, which is what Hollywood is saying to them every second of the day."

Said Andrew Sullivan, speaking to what The Hollywood Reporter called "packed audience of [Hollywood] professionals, including some of the town’s biggest names, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles," who gasped audibly. There followed "an immensely tense 20-minute panel which ended in Sullivan being shouted at by an audience member, prompting the moderator to step in and end the panel."
“I said what I wanted to say,” he said [afterwards]. “When you’re a struggling, white working-class person in say, Kentucky, and a Yale student says, ‘You have white privilege,’ what do you think happens? [Donald] Trump gets elected — that’s what happens. And they don’t seem to understand any of the lessons from the last time and I don’t want [Trump] to be re-elected, but I don’t think the left is helping and I don’t think Hollywood is helping.”...

"The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE."

"For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party!"

Trump's morning tweet, 19 minutes ago.

ALSO: From last night:

March 25, 2019

At the Monday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything, early enough in the evening for me to moderate you through. Talk to us!

A suggestive Drudge juxtaposition.

Click to enlarge and clarify.

You know where to find Drudge, here.

Avenatti arrested — accused of "threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met."

Federal prosecutors said, reported in the NYT.
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney in Manhattan, said at a news conference that Mr. Avenatti’s conduct amounted to a “shakedown.”

“Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threates for the purpose of obtaining millions of dollars in payments from a public company,’’ he said. “Calling this anticipated payout a retainer or a settlement doesn’t change what it was — a shakedown. When lawyers use their law licenses as weapons, as a guise to extort payments for themselves, they are no longer acting as attorneys.”...

Mr. Avenatti said he would refrain from publicizing his evidence if Nike paid $1.5 million to his client, who is not named, the court documents said. He also demanded that Nike hire him and another lawyer to conduct an internal investigation, for billings worth between $15 million and $25 million, court documents said.
It's Trump's lucky week.

By the way, was what Avenatti did to Trump a "shakedown"?

And, I just love that Avenatti's chosen weapon was — in the words of the prosecutors — "garnering publicity." As you may know, I look askance at those who find a need to use the word "garner." As I said a few years ago (provoked by Jeb Bush):
The only reason to say "garner" is if you think there's something wrong with a very common word that normal people just go ahead and say all the time without thinking they need to rise above it. The word is: "get."

"For Democrats, the Mueller report turns upside down the politics of what lies ahead."

"From what seemed a position of strength, or at least the ability to stay on offense, they are now looking at the road ahead in a far more problematic position. The issue of impeachment was always in question, given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s cautionary view. At this point, it is off the table. Beyond that are difficult questions about what investigations House Democrats should pursue and to what end. For nearly two years, Democrats have eagerly awaited the Mueller report, having already connected many of the dots of contacts between Trump associates and the Russians.... Democrats must now reckon with a far different set of political realities.... [I]s the absence of a conclusion or recommendation about obstruction a gift for the Democrats or a trap?... Trump claims 'total exoneration,' which is explicitly not true based on Mueller’s report. But it is exactly how he has played things as a candidate and as president, which is to say he exaggerates in his own favor and slams opponents as hard as he can.... Democrats put their faith in Mueller. Now they are questioning how and why he did what he did.... After two years of insisting that there was collusion, the Democrats have been undermined by Mueller."

From "For Democrats, the Mueller report turns their politics upside down" by Dan Balz (WaPo). I've been thinking that Barr's statement that Mueller didn't "exonerate" Trump on obstruction of justice is a trap for Democrats. They really ought to be careful — but they won't all be careful — about making new statements that will look bad when we get the actual text from Mueller.

Balz mentions (but doesn't link to) this Trump video, "Collusion Hoax!":

"Scott Walker, a pop singer who gave up stardom to carve out one of the most original and uncompromising careers in modern music, died Friday."

"He was 76," NPR reports.

"This rethinking of disposability has an anti-capitalist appeal, as does thinking of oneself as someone who is not only, always, a consumer in search of the next purchase."

"But in the same way that making sustainable clothing purchases is a privilege many cannot afford, [visible mending] is a privilege to have the resources needed not only to mend something but also to take the time to make it beautiful. It is also a privilege to feel comfortable wearing clothes that are visibly worn, however beautiful the repair. We need to be careful not to romanticize the history of mending, a craft that has grown out of necessity. Miho Takeuchi, a traditional sashiko instructor and designer born in Japan and based in the United States, tells me via email that sashiko, which developed in poor communities in Japan’s Edo period, 'was born from the necessity of mending and patching garments, beddings and household items. In ancient days, clothing and bedding were made from homespun fabrics woven from native fibrous plants such as wisteria and hemp and necessity demanded that this clothing be recycled for as long as possible.' It was only later, she tells me, that the technique evolved to include the elaborate surface-level designs and intricate patterns popular with visible menders today."

From "Instead of hiding rips and tears, the visible mending movement turns them into art/Born from the Japanese art of sashiko, visible mending enables crafters to eschew fast fashion and make mistakes beautiful" (Vox). Some photographs of the handiwork at the link.

I'm avoiding reading the many pundits who seem to be straining to resist the reality of the Mueller report.

I read. I don't watch the news on TV. But if I wanted to laugh at these people in their ludicrous scrambling for dignity and a way to keep hating on Trump, I'd watch it on TV. I'd do what you can see Scott Adams doing in this video, watch them on TV and laugh at them. Look at their faces! They're so unhappy! But — maybe a bit like Trump himself, with his cheerful simple tweets this morning — I don't want to get bogged down in their dismal, entropic experience. It's too time-consuming. I watched a little. Laughed a little. But my thing is blogging, and I mostly use text.

But I scan the headlines and I pretty much know what's in the text. I don't drop into reading unless my senses tell me there's some rich material. And I feel that I already know the Trump haters' talking points about the Mueller report and Barr's letter about it. I'm not putting my time into counting the repetition of talking points I already know. If I applied myself, I could go deep — oh, so deep! — into all the perseveration about the word "exonerate." Do you know that the word means to relieve of a burden (an onus)? I am lightening my load by not reading all that stuff.

But I will read "Conclusion of Mueller probe raises anew criticisms of coverage" by Paul Farhi (WaPo):
“Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media,” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in a column published Saturday, a day before Barr nailed the collusion coffin shut. He added: “Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population.”...

Journalist and commentator Glenn Greenwald — a longtime skeptic of the collusion angle — tweeted his contempt for the media coverage on Sunday, too: “Check every MSNBC personality, CNN law ‘expert,’ liberal-centrist outlets and #Resistance scam artist and see if you see even an iota of self-reflection, humility or admission of massive error.... While standard liberal outlets obediently said whatever they were told by the CIA & FBI, many reporters at right-wing media outlets which are routinely mocked by super-smart liberals as primitive & propagandistic did relentlessly great digging & reporting.”...

“Russiagate” has been a news media obsession since Trump’s victory in November 2016.... The cable news networks, particularly CNN and MSNBC, have added hundreds of hours of discussion about the topic, too. The story undoubtedly was an important factor in shaping voters’ perceptions before the 2018 midterm election, in which Democrats won control of the House. But the conclusion of the inquiry has put a question once hazily debated into sharp focus: Did the mainstream news media mislead?..
I call fake news on the assertion that the question is just coming into focus! The question has been there all along, but the Trump-resistance media has deliberately blurred it and actively diverted us from it. I don't even want to spend my time watching this phony hand-wringing over what went wrong. Either you did it on purpose or you're so insane and incompetent that you're not worth reading at all.

Trump's tweets this morning — upbeat and circumspect.

The morning, so far (click to enlarge and clarify):

He retweets his 2 tweets from yesterday morning, putting the delightful "Good Morning, Have A Great Day!" at the top. The other one is, "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN."

He retweets his short and sweet reaction to Barr's letter, "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!"

Then there's a quote from Brett Baier: "'No matter your ideologies or your loyalties, this is a good day for America. No American conspired to cooperate with Russia in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 election, according to Robert Mueller, and that is good.' @BretBaier @FoxNews"

A headline from MSNBC: "Breaking News: Mueller Report Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy."

And the key line from Barr's letter: "The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump Campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian Government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump Campaign."

He's not gloating, he's not accusing, he's not angry, he's not running off at the mouth like that imaginary Trump of media fever dreams. He's upbeat and succinct, making America happy again.

And shame on you if it doesn't make you happy that the President of the United States isn't a Putin puppet!

"Iowa 2020: Biden and Sanders neck and neck in Democratic Field, Mayor Pete jumps to double digits."

It's Emerson’s second poll of the Iowa caucus.
... former Vice President Joe Biden narrowly leads the Democratic field with 25%, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at 24%. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana has surged to 11%. Senator Kamala Harris of California follows with 10% - the only other candidate to clear double digits in Iowa....
Buttigieg was at 0% in the previous Emerson poll, in January.
Sanders maintains a lead among 18-29 year olds with 44%, followed by Buttigieg with 22%. Biden leads among all other age groups with 32% support among 30-49 year olds, 29% among 50-64 year olds, and 31% among those 65 years or older. [Spencer Kimball, Director of the Emerson Poll] notes that, “If Buttigieg is able to maintain his momentum, his candidacy appears to be pulling from the same demographic of young voters as Sanders, and that could become a problem for Sanders.”
Kamala Harris — who I've believed is the media's favorite — doesn't seem to be getting traction. And:
When looking at potential general election matchups, all are within margin of error, except for Trump against Harris, where the President leads 54% to 46% to Harris. Sanders and Biden are the only Democratic contenders in Iowa to receive more support than the President; Biden has a 6 point advantage, and Sanders has a 2 point advantage.
If beating Trump is the Democrats #1 concern, Harris is especially bad. I wonder why?!

ADDED: Maybe Harris's biggest problem is that people can tell the media is foisting her on us. That's the main problem I have with her. Let's have a fair competition among all the candidates. Don't try to clear the path for one person. That's what they did twice for Hillary Clinton. We're onto that. We're beyond immune. We're actively resistant.

ALSO: Buttigieg supporters should resist the effort to switch to calling him Mayor Pete. If he is to be believable as a presidential candidate, we need to be able to say his name. If we have the affection to switch to a first name basis — as with Bernie — it should just be Pete. There's no other Pete. Not running for President and really not in any current context.

Pete Seeger died. Pete Sampras, Pete Rose — they don't play anymore. Pete Townshend — he's quite old and out of the range of politics. The only Pete I can think of who ran for President was Pete Du Pont, who had been Governor of Delaware and, term limited out in 1985, "was widely expected by many to challenge the incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Biden," but instead made a long-shot run for the GOP presidential nomination in 1988. Biden also ran for President in 1988. We're still talking about Joe Biden, but who remembers Pete Du Pont?

March 24, 2019

At the Sunday Night Cafe...

... raise whatever topics you like.

I’m moderating comments, so you might not see much in real time during the night, but it’s a great way to communicate with me on Monday morning as I’m looking for things to blog.

And here’s a place where you can talk about the new comments policy, which I edit out in threads on posts that have specific subject matter.

"Attorney General William P. Barr delivered to Congress on Sunday afternoon the main findings of the inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, a House Democrat said..."

"Lawmakers received the four-page letter, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter."

The NYT reports.

UPDATE: The headline (at the same link) is now updated to: "Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy but Stops Shorts of Exonerating President on Obstruction of Justice" (NYT). From the article:
The investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found that neither President Trump nor any of his aides conspired or coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s findings made public on Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr.

The summary also said that the special counsel’s team lacked sufficient evidence to establish that President Trump illegally obstructed justice, but added that Mr. Mueller’s team stopped short of exonerating Mr. Trump.

“While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Mr. Barr quoted Mr. Mueller as writing.
AND: You can read Barr's summary here. The line "does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him" refers to the obstruction of justice issue. The Mueller report, we're told, says that it looked at the facts relevant to an obstruction of justice charge but only set out the evidence and noted that there were "'difficult issues' of law and fact about whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction." The report "leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct" it describes "constitutes a crime."

Barr writes that he (along with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein) has concluded that the evidence is "not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."

"Stories have been coming out for some time now hinting Mueller’s final report might leave audiences 'disappointed,' as if a President not being a foreign spy could somehow be bad news."

"Openly using such language has, all along, been an indictment. Imagine how tone-deaf you’d have to be to not realize it makes you look bad, when news does not match audience expectations you raised.... The story hyped from the start was espionage: a secret relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian spooks who’d helped him win the election.... It was literal spying, treason, and election-fixing – crimes so severe, former NSA employee John Schindler told reporters, Trump 'will die in jail.'... CNN told us Trump officials had been in 'constant contact' with 'Russians known to U.S. intelligence,' and the former director of the CIA, who’d helped kick-start the investigation that led to Mueller’s probe, said the President was guilty of 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' committing acts 'nothing short of treasonous.'... Either Trump is a compromised foreign agent, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, news outlets once again swallowed a massive disinformation campaign, only this error is many orders of magnitude more stupid than any in the recent past, WMD included...."

From "It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD/The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it," which is mostly an excerpt from the forthcoming book, "Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another" by Matt Taibbi.

"We don't agree on all issues; I consider myself a political independent, while he's a solid Democrat."

"But I've spent hours and hours having civil discussions of politics and policy with him, not on social media but in person, one on one. For years, we worked closely together on a monthly student publication in high school. So I wasn't surprised in 2014 when I heard Howard Dean, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, say during a TV appearance with him: 'I happen to know Ben, and he's one of the smartest people under 35 in the entire country.' (He's now 38.) If you know Ben, you know he's an incredibly hard worker who's passionate about putting his progressive ideals into action. I'm confident that Ben Wikler is the right person to lead the Democrats in our home state."

Writes my son John, over at his blog, with information on how to help Ben Wikler as he runs for chair of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin. I myself am not a member of any party, and I don't contribute to any candidates or even endorse them. I often won't even tell you who got my vote, and when I do, my political caginess is such that people often misremember what I've admitted to. I wish I had a dollar for every time some commenter over at Instapundit has asserted that I voted for Obama twice. And only a handful of people know who got my vote for President in 2016. I'm about standing back and observing. But I like linking to John's blog, and he certainly does know Ben very well. I know Ben very well too. That "monthly student publication" they worked on got edited right here in the house where I still live. I've had long conversations with Ben, from when he was a teenager, and he's just an all-around fine person.

Donald Trump offers simple, context-free salutations.

The justice and only justice of removing "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue" from the courthouse wall.

The words are from the Bible — Deuteronomy 16:20 — and they appear on a plaque under the name of the circuit attorney of St. Louis, Missouri. The demand to take down the plaque, on the theory that it violates the Establishment Clause, comes from The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Christian News reports.
“We write to request that this sign be removed, both because it represents a government endorsement of religion in violation of the First Amendment, and because it advocates a form of ‘justice’ that is incompatible with constitutional principles,” the letter, sent on Monday, reads.
How does that statement — "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue"  — advocate a form of quote-unquote justice that's incompatible with constitutional principles? FFRF's idea seems to be that we can't judge the words out of context, and if we add the rest of Deuteronomy, we find a whole lot of "justice" that would be way out of line with the law to be applied in the courthouse. Would an ordinary observer load that meaning into the phrase? Well, the plaque does include the citation "Deut. 16:20." So we're told there is context, and you could check that out or draw up some general memories of what's in Deuteronomy, but I think an ordinary, reasonable observer would give a modern, general meaning to "justice." It's an abstract, noncontroversial value and not an endorsement of any particular religion or even the vaguest notion of God.

ADDED: I did a quick search for the worst idea of justice to be found in Deuteronomy. Maybe you can find something worse, but the one I came up with is Deuteronomy 23:1: "If a man's testicles are crushed or his penis is cut off, he may not be admitted to the assembly of the LORD." That's the New Living Translation. Here's the King James Bible: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD."

"But in Hollywood, Apple must hone its identity and reputation in an entertainment market crowded with competitors, from Netflix and Hulu to HBO and Disney."

"It’s using its deep pockets to buy itself a name in Hollywood. Apple is paying Witherspoon and Aniston about $1.1 million an episode each, according to a Hollywood executive with knowledge of Apple’s plans.... Apple has been trying to shed the notion that it is different because it hails from Silicon Valley. Hollywood is programmed to be skeptical of outsiders who don’t understand the intricacies of filmmaking.... Still, Apple has no Hollywood track record, and people who have inked deals with the company described the decision as a leap of faith in Apple’s ability to execute on its plans and deliver big audiences.... 'Apple is the only company in the world that can drop a couple million dollars in entertainment and get Reese Witherspoon and M. Night Shyamalan on board without any articulation of a plan in terms of marketing or distribution,' said one well-connected Hollywood executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to upset Apple.... "[Apple CEO Tim Cook] is paranoid about anything that affects his brand,” the Hollywood executive said. Now that Apple is becoming its own film studio, it’s in direct competition with other services."

WaPo reports.

Apple, the TV/film studio. What do you think? I care a lot more about Apple's various devices than I do about whatever TV and film it might be able to throw into the already-huge mix of TV and film. There's a high chance of diluting the brand. The brand for the devices is so clean and neutral. A TV show or film with the same kind of aesthetic would be so incredibly dull that it is, realistically, impossible.

"As a podcaster, the 51-year-old Rogan is basically what you’d get if a less-neurotic Marc Maron and a less-manic Alex Jones had a baby who looked like a muscular thumb."

"An enthusiastic, self-deprecating lunk with an abiding fondness for both snake oil and its salesmen, Rogan is funny and friendly and easy to like. His personal politics are a bit hard to nail down. He is not a supporter of President Donald Trump and does not generally host the sorts of overtly political figures who are fixtures on Fox News. 'I go left on everything. Basically except guns,' he said recently, though he is also very clearly a libertarian, at least temperamentally. He reminds me of many of the intense, talkative stoners I knew in college, the sorts of people who were always yelling about how graphic novels were literature and who inevitably blamed their professors for being biased against them when they were kicked out of school for pulling a 0.0 GPA. Not for nothing does his podcast art depict him with a third eye."

From "Joe Rogan’s Galaxy Brain/How the former Fear Factor host’s podcast became an essential platform for 'freethinkers' who hate the left" by Justin Peters at Slate. That's a small part of a long article. There's much more, but just in that snippet, notice the anxiety that somebody cool could give air to the nonleft.