July 20, 2019

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

"Anyone old enough to remember the moon landing, fifty years ago today, is also old enough to remember what was said about the moon landing while it was happening."

"At the time—the very height of the Vietnam War, when the establishment that had sent up the rocket faced a kind of daily full-court-press rebellion, from what had only just been dubbed the 'counterculture'—the act of sending three very white guys to the moon seemed, as Norman Mailer wrote at the time, like the final, futile triumph of Wasp culture... Mailer’s book on the topic, 'Of a Fire on the Moon'... was the usual mid-period Mailer mix of eight parts bullshit to two parts very shrewd observation... The Apollo 11 mission was, he insisted, chilling in its self-evident futility, its enormous orchestrated energy, and its ultimate pointlessness. We went there because we could go there, with the strong implication that this was also, to borrow the title of another Mailer book, why we were in Vietnam; the Wasp establishment had been restless since it got off the Mayflower, and was always seeking new worlds to conquer for no reason. What is easy to forget now is that it was a summer balanced between two equally potent national events: the Wasp triumph of the moon landing, answered, almost exactly a month later, by the counterculture triumph of Woodstock...."

From "Between the Moon and Woodstock" by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker.

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing and not only do I remember what was said about the moon landing while it was happening, I remember having the same opinion as Norman Mailer.

From a review by Steven Achilles Brown (at Medium):
Throughout ["Of a Fire on the Moon,"] Mailer returns to a recurring question: is the moon landing a good and noble achievement of America, or is it an errand of the Devil?... ... Mailer seems ambivalent until the very end, when he writes
the expedition to the moon was finally a venture which might help to disclose the nature of the Lord and the Lucifer who warred for us . . . probably we had to explore into outer space, for technology had penetrated the modern mind to such a depth that voyages in space might have become the last way to discover the metaphysical pits of that world of technique which choked the pores of modern consciousness — yes, we might have to go out into space until the mystery of new discovery would force us to regard the world once again as poets, behold it as savages who know that if the universe was a lock, its key was metaphor rather than measure.
This quotation discloses much about Norman Mailer. He had a degree from Harvard in aeronautical engineering, yet as a writer in this technological age, had roots in 19th-century romanticism; he wished that all men, including astronauts, be poets and philosophers. Throughout the book, indeed throughout most of his career, Mailer was preoccupied with one central theme, that God was an embattled vision: good and evil fight each other for possession of the souls of humankind....

"When I’m alone late at night on a deserted road, I like to walk on the double yellow lines. One time I decided to stop and lie down..."

"... right there in the middle of the road. I kept myself narrow, arms pinned, so cars could pass on either side. But I wasn’t invisible, and I alarmed a kind policeman who happened to drive by me. After determining that I was not dead, drunk or high, he concluded I was suicidal. We had a long talk. It didn’t help for me to explain that if I had wanted to be run over I would’ve moved several feet in one direction or the other. And picked a busier road. He wanted to know, why, if I didn’t want to be run over, was I lying in the middle of the road? There were so many reasons. I wanted to see the night sky from the perspective of the road; I wanted to be in this secret spot that always got passed by and never occupied..."

From "Unruliness" by Agnes Callard, a 2018 blog post, which is discussed in a new New Yorker article by Paul Bloom, "The Strange Appeal of Perverse Actions/Why do we enjoy doing things for no good reason?" Callard is a philosopher, Bloom a psychology professor.

Bloom writes:
Callard is careful to distinguish unruliness from rebellion. By lying down in the road, she wasn’t critiquing the status quo or sticking it to the Man. Unruly people might flatter themselves as rebels, but unruliness is nothing so determinate—it’s just an unwillingness to play by the rules. It’s a near-neighbor, therefore, to perversity, a topic long central to theology and philosophy...

Perverse actors—I won’t call them “perverts,” since that word evokes distracting connotations—can also be creative or funny.... The blogger Scott Alexander points out that four per cent of Americans tell pollsters that they think reptilian aliens rule the Earth....

Unruliness, perversity, pigheadedness—psychologists have long been interested in this bestiary of paradoxical thought and action. Perversity is a puzzle. It’s hard to explain, scientifically, what Edgar Allan Poe described as “the imp of the perverse.”...

A friend of mine tells how his family made him a pie on his birthday, as a surprise. His young niece was repeatedly instructed not to reveal the secret, and she solemnly agreed. But, when he came into the house, she suddenly screamed, “There is no pie!”...
Much more to this article — I'm skipping over a lot of good stuff — but it, perversely/harmoniously, ends with pie:
It’s said that a waitress once asked [the Columbia University philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser] what he wanted for dessert—apple pie or blueberry pie. He chose the apple pie. Then she returned with news: there was also cherry pie. “In that case,” Morgenbesser said, “I’ll have the blueberry.”

"... and while she endures their pranks and shares meals with them, she invents a secret friend. This friend is, curiously, distant and hidden..."

"... a friend who she hopes will be revealed to her one day. She has made up a friend who won’t keep her company."

Imagine being snubbed by your friends, creating an imaginary friend, and being snubbed by your imaginary friend! (Or is that easy to imagine: It's religion.)

I'm reading "The Weil Conjectures" by Karen Olsson.

I noticed that book because of "Two Brilliant Siblings and the Curious Consolations of Math," a review in the NYT. Excerpt:
The precocity of the Weil siblings is the stuff of legend. At 9 years old, André was tinkering with doctoral-level math. By 12, he had taught himself Sanskrit, become a proficient violinist and taken his younger sister’s education in hand. The pair spoke to each other in rhyming couplets and Ancient Greek....

“The Weil Conjectures” takes its title from a series of propositions written by André that led to the development of modern algebraic geometry. “The word ‘conjecture’ derives from a root notion of throwing or casting things together,” Olsson writes. To the story of the Weil siblings, she adds her own infatuation with mathematics, which she studied briefly in college before turning to fiction...

The book advances in fragments, historical divagations that drift by, smoothly as clouds: Hippasus of Metapontum supposedly flung off a ship for his discovery of irrational numbers, or the unearthing of the Rhind papyrus of 1700 B.C., one of the oldest mathematical documents, with an insuperable opening line: “Directions for Attaining the Knowledge of All Dark Things.” Olsson is drawn to anecdotes that emphasize the role of beauty and chance. Why do we represent the unknown with x? Credit René Descartes’s printer, who was running out of letters while producing copies of the treatise “La Géométrie.” X, y and z remained, and the printer settled on x, the least used letter in French....

For all of Olsson’s skill at untangling knotty mathematics, she is baffled by Simone.... The issue of Weil’s mental state has long preoccupied and divided her biographers. She died at 34, from tuberculosis, aggravated, it is said, by prolonged malnutrition from restricting herself to children’s wartime rations....

July 19, 2019

At the Succulent Café...


... luxuriate in all-night conversation.

"But Mr. Trump’s approval rating has been stable even after seemingly big missteps."

"And if it improves by a modest amount — not unusual for incumbents with a strong economy — he could have a distinct chance to win re-election while losing the popular vote by more than he did in 2016, when he lost it by 2.1 percentage points. The president’s relative advantage in the Electoral College could grow even further in a high-turnout election, which could pad Democratic margins nationwide while doing little to help them in the Northern battleground states. It is even possible that Mr. Trump could win while losing the national vote by as much as five percentage points.... Many assume that the huge turnout expected in 2020 will benefit Democrats, but it’s not so straightforward. It could conceivably work to the advantage of either party, and either way, higher turnout could widen the gap between the Electoral College and the popular vote. That’s because the major Democratic opportunity — to mobilize nonwhite and young voters on the periphery of politics — would disproportionately help Democrats in diverse, often noncompetitive states. The major Republican opportunity — to mobilize less educated white voters, particularly those who voted in 2016 but sat out 2018 — would disproportionately help them in white, working-class areas overrepresented in the Northern battleground states...."

Writes Nate Cohn in "Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Rewarding Polarizing Campaign/Re-election looks plausible even with a bigger loss in the national popular vote" (NYT).

That's all very interesting about the Electoral College, and if you read the whole article, you'll see a lot about polls about "approval" of Trump, which are used as a proxy for how people will vote. But in an election, you have to vote for one or another candidate (or abstain), and you might disapprove of all of them.

That is, withholding approval doesn't mean you won't vote for Trump. It's hard to approve of Trump. He's not exactly approval-seeking. You might like the results he's getting and still feel you want distance from him. You might vote for him because you want more of the same or because you think his opponent will take away some of the things you like and still be able to say that you "disapprove" of the person known as Trump.

A conscious sense of disapproval may even facilitate a vote for Trump. People who seek approval for themselves may find it expedient to express disapproval of Trump — to be free of the onus and stigma of approving of him — but when the time comes to answer the question whether they want 4 more years of his work, they might also find it expedient to say "yes."

"Wearing matching 'Squad' pajamas with 11 bridesmaids I’d never met, for the sake of a perfectly filtered, faux candid photo of us throwing our heads back and laughing..."

"... didn’t seem worth what the room would cost. So how could I say no to a friend I’ve known since we were 16, without becoming persona non grata?... I was uninvited to the long bachelorette weekend in Spain, and told, via WhatsApp, that I was no longer a bridesmaid. This left me $675 in the hole for what I had already spent on a trip I was now banned from, including a nonrefundable airline ticket...."

From "Go Broke or Go Home Bachelorette Parties/What happens when friends are consumed by wanting their bachelorette parties to be picture perfect at any cost? Credit cards are maxed out and debt rises. Instagram wedding envy wins the day" by Rhiannon Picton-James, published in the NYT on July 16th.

Interesting to see the disparaging use of "Squad." On July 15th, I was asking about the origin of the term "squad" to refer to the set of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna S. Pressley. It had popped into the national discourse through Nancy Pelosi, who'd seemed to be trying to get the group under control. In my effort to understand the term, I checked out Urban Dictionary and found 2 definitions that help understand the disparagement intended by Nancy Pelosi and Rhiannon Picton-James:
"Crew, posse, gang: an informal group of individuals with a common identity and a sense of solidarity. The term is a bit flashy and is more likely to be heard in hip-hop lyrics than in spoken conversation"/"A word overused by teenagers that think they're ghetto to describe their clique of friends"/"A dumb word only used by white middle schoolers in suburban areas to describe their group of friends and try to sound ghetto. It doesnt make them sound ghetto, but actually increases their whiteness."
And here's a piece from Vox on July 17th, "How 4 congresswomen came to be called 'the Squad'/The term is making headlines, but Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib have their own definition."

"For a left magazine to remove a classic gay-left essay is close to unheard of. But the remnants of The New Republic did exactly that last week..."

"... after publishing an article by Dale Peck on the candidacy and character of Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate for president in American history.... At the heart of the essay is a point that could, in someone else’s hands, have yielded a potentially nuanced insight into Buttigieg’s psyche. Buttigieg only came out four years ago; it seems his first serious relationship was and is with the man he married. Buttigieg is thereby more a homosexual than an acculturated 'gay.'... Like many others over the centuries, Buttigieg channeled this repression into becoming a classic example of 'the best little boy in the world'.... Peck tells us: Buttigieg is the gay equivalent of an 'Uncle Tom,' and he coins the term 'Mary Pete' to smear him as such.... [Peck's] 'gayer-than-thou' act is a classic of identity politics.... The point of the gay-rights movement for the left was to join other oppressed groups in overturning the entire liberal democratic and capitalist system. The point of the gay-rights movement for those of us on the right was to expand the space in which gay people can simply be themselves. That may mean embracing the identity of queer nonbinary whatever, or it may mean simply getting on with life as an individual who happens to be gay. No one is wrong to be the person they want to be. There is no right way or wrong way to be gay. I thought of Peck’s argument when confronted this week by a speech by Democratic congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.... 'We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice.' That’s why the hard left hates Buttigieg. Because he is a gay man who does not have what they believe is the correct 'queer voice.'"

Writes Andrew Sullivan (in NY Magazine).

Any moment now... Celebrate the moon landing with President Trump.

"He has an enormous amount of chutzpah to attack me and challenge my perfect, perfect sex life...."

Said Alan Dershowitz, antagonized by David Boies, "who is representing Virginia Roberts Giuffre [who] claims Dershowitz had sex with her while she was a minor after being recruited by Epstein" (Washington Examiner).

"I have had sex with one woman since the day I met Jeffrey Epstein. I challenge David Boies to say under oath that he's only had sex with one woman ... He has an enormous amount of chutzpah to attack me and challenge my perfect, perfect sex life during the relevant period of time."

"If you touch me/You'll understand what happiness is..."

Happiness or horrowshow... you decide:

ADDED: I think what's disconcerting here is that they are naked and yet not naked.

Why are 2 power stations in Madison burning?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Two fires burning at Madison Gas and Electric substations in downtown Madison."
The first and larger of the two fires appears to be at the MG&E property on East Washington Avenue. A second fire could be seen at the substation behind Ogg Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus....

ADDED: "Update: MGE explosion shot flames 150 feet high, thousands still without power Downtown" (Wisconsin State Journal). Video at the link. ALSO: here:

"Put your money on someone who energizes and excites you rather than someone who appeals to a voter in a diner in rural Michigan who you invited in your head."

Said Adam Jentleson, "a Democratic strategist working for a group focused on suing Mr. Trump," quoted in the last line of a NYT article titled, "Why 2020 Democrats Won’t Stop Talking About Wisconsin."

Seems to me Jentleson stopped talking about Wisconsin. He talked about a guy in a diner in rural Michigan. It's just mythology, these flyover people. Once upon a time in a faraway land — Michigan, Wisconsin — what's the difference?

The point is, apparently, Democrats are sick of thinking about that guy, the "guy in a diner in rural" whatever. Once they were safely stowed in a basket — a basket of deplorables — and that worked out so disastrously that the reaction could be to obsess over these imaginary people. Are Democratic Party candidates expected to actually venture into the hinterlands? No, they'll just worry about those people, and then they come to Madison (where I live) or Milwaukee to try to score enough votes to outnumber those diner people. That's what Democrats do to win Wisconsin.
“We have created an electorate full of pundits and strategists, and the result is that we’re puzzling through not who we like but who we imagine someone else will like,” said Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii. “It’s a fool’s errand to imagine who will be appealing to someone else.”
Yeah, it's a fool’s errand to imagine... Stop imagining what other people are like inside, and just say what you want. Says the man from Hawaii, which is 4,000 miles away from Wisconsin. I can imagine — no, I can't — what people way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean think of the opinions of people up there in that part of Wisconsin where at some point it turns into Michigan.

Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 8.10.02 AM

What is that stuff? Watersmeet? Iron Belt? It'll make you crazy if you think about who lives there and what they want.
“There’s something fundamental about the fact that Trump presented himself as a noxious human and still won that is disconcerting and unsettling about America,” said Adam Jentleson.... “But the why, we don’t know. It depends who you talk to.”
Who should be President of the Disconcerting and Unsettling States of American?

"They stole my ideas"/"They copied my novel"/"They ripped me off"/"Since [the studio] stole my novel, I poured out the liquid and set it ablaze."

Statements allegedly made by Shinji Aoba, arrested for killing 33 persons at Kyoto Animation in Japan (reported in Variety).
Since its founding in 1981, Kyoto Animation has regularly adapted novels into anime series....

Local authorities said two bodies were found on the first floor of the burned-out building and eleven others on the second floor. Another body was discovered in a stairwell leading from the first to second floors. The remaining 19 bodies were found in a stairwell leading from the third floor to the roof, whose door was closed but which could have been opened from the roof.

"Lemon and Cuomo reenact Trump's 13 seconds of silence."

This made me think of the way George W. Bush was treated for how he reacted on 9/11 when he was told that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. Interestingly, it's very hard to get to video clips and mockery of the ex-President (by Googling). The top hit on my search was "Bush explains slow reaction to September 11 attacks" (Reuters)("Former President George W. Bush says his apparent lack of reaction to the first news of the September 11 2001 attacks was a conscious decision to project an aura of calm in a crisis").

But for many years, an extremely negative interpretation of his silence prevailed. Eventually, I found this clip from the Michael Moore documentary:

George W. Bush Reads 'My Pet Goat' in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' from MMFlint on Vimeo.

ADDED: Writing this post, I wondered whatever happened to Michael Moore. I see that The A.V. Club a few weeks ago had "15 years later, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 remains essential American agitprop":
One of the most striking things about watching Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2019 is realizing just how deeply, uncomfortably resonant it is with our current state of the union. Within the first half hour, it depicts a venal, intellectually bankrupt administration led by a preening dimwit as he spends most of his time in the White House golfing and avoiding responsibility....

But even without the striking parallels to our current fiasco of an administration, Fahrenheit 9/11 remains a potent and stirring work, cinema with the ability to boil the blood and activate righteous indignation in the viewer. True, Moore’s reputation has diminished somewhat in recent years. ... A lot of this has to do with his self-aggrandizing persona, a loudmouthed man-on-the-street type...
He means Moore.... though it sounds like Trump. Isn't that Moore's problem now?! George W. Bush had the dullness off which the exuberantly expressive Moore could bounce. That's the style Trump himself displays. Ask the other Bush, Jeb.

ALSO: Is Michael Moore shadow banned on Twitter? I've followed him for a long time, but I never see his tweets in my timeline. When I go to his Twitter page, I see that he has been putting things up, maybe not every day, but a few things each week.

July 18, 2019

At the Ducks-in-a-Row Café...


... get your ducks in a row.

"President Trump on Thursday disavowed the 'send her back' chant that broke out at his re-election rally Wednesday night..."

"... when he railed against a Somali-born congresswoman, as Republicans in Congress rushed to distance themselves and their party from the ugly refrain. Mr. Trump said he was 'not happy' with the chant [and] claimed that he had tried to cut off the chant, an assertion contradicted by video of the event. Asked why he did not stop it, Mr. Trump said, 'I think I did — I started speaking very quickly.' In fact, as the crowd roared 'send her back,' Mr. Trump looked around silently and paused as the scene unfolded in front of him, doing nothing to halt the chorus. 'I was not happy with it,' Mr. Trump said on Thursday at the White House. 'I disagree with it.'"

From "Trump Disavows ‘Send Her Back’ Chant as G.O.P. Frets Over Ugly Phrase" (NYT).

Are we supposed to have a big debate about what was in his head at the time and whether he — the only one with access to the place — is lying when he purports to tell us what was going on inside? Do we have nothing better to do?! The important thing is that he's distancing himself from the chant and letting his fans know they shouldn't chant it.

We talked about the chant earlier this morning, and I took a poll. Here are the results (with almost a thousand voters):

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 4.30.27 PM

I'm surprised anyone voted for the disgusting option, "Yes. It's thrilling to see one individual singled out and scared." I'm going to assume those were trolls. That was the last of the "yes" options, and it led to "no" options, the first 3 of which signaled why that last "yes" ooption was off-the-charts bad. Perhaps some voters were influenced by the Alinsky answer: "Yes. Alinsky said it best: 'Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.'" I think that nudges some people to think: The left would do it to the right, so the right should do it to the left.

I like to develop and express my opinion through poll options, and I try to write each one fully committing to the state of mind one would need to make that choice. Sometimes I do polls when I don't really have a right answer in mind. But in this case, my answer was most certainly "no," and I really felt like an actor playing a villain when I was composing 2 or 3 of those "yes" options.

ADDED: Assess "I started speaking very quickly" for yourself:

If you've watched that whole video, please vote here:

Did Trump lie when he said "I started speaking very quickly"?
pollcode.com free polls

"In ancient times purses were a male accessory because carrying money was a man’s job; for much of history, women didn’t need bags because they didn’t venture far from home...."

"It wasn’t until the Renaissance that women’s massive skirts allowed them to cache the stuff they needed in large pockets that dangled beneath their clothes.... Around the French Revolution, women’s silhouettes grew slimmer and bulging interior pockets were seen as an impediment to style. Instead, women were encouraged to carry their stuff in a small bag on a string called a 'reticule.'... The Rational Dress Society, founded in the 1890s, arose along with the burgeoning suffrage movement; its adherents argued that female independence could not be achieved in a tight-fitting, pocketless dress. True liberation required loose-fitting clothing that allowed freedom of movement — and pockets for keeping necessities close, including a revolver if necessary. But fashion won, and near the end of the 19th century, when it became permissible for women to travel alone, luggage designers like Louis Vuitton began peddling large handbags for women, positioning their wares as a signal of female independence.... But what’s independent about being so useful, so encumbered, as if every trip to the office were a trek on the Appalachian Trail?... The male purse went out of fashion more than 300 years ago, when tight breeches prompted the invention of the slender wallet.... Freedom from having to carry stuff is power...."

From "Men Know It’s Better to Carry Nothing" by Lisa Miller in The Cut.

I eschewed purse-carrying from the age of about 18 until... when was it? I insisted that clothes have pockets, only carried around a skinny wallet and keys, and considered it a feminist issue. Also a freedom issue. At some point, I decided it was simpler to carry a very small handbag, big enough for a wallet and keys and — ah, yes, the cell phone. It was the cell phone that made me want to get my carry-ables out of my clothing and separately compartmentalized.

These women who carry about large, heavy bags (discussed at some length in the linked article) — I have never understood how they could stand being weighed down like that. The article goes on at some length about the female obligation to take care of everything, such as wiping up spills, as if women are overly responsible, while men skate free.

I remember a particular handbag that I got when I was about 11. It was suede and a lovely shade of orange. I'd love to have it now. But I had no idea what to put in it. I asked my older sister and she went about finding things to fill up the empty space. I remember her getting the idea to throw in a few hair curlers. That seems so absurd to me now.

"Harris probably needs to start plotting out a media and expectations-management strategy now that allows her to remain viable even if she strikes out in the first four states."

"California and some of the other Super Tuesday states should be good states for her, by contrast, but she needs to get there and to remain above the 15 percent threshold first."

Writes Nate Silver in "Bulletpoint: Does Kamala Harris Need A Win Before California?"

Is it too early to start talking about the potential for a brokered convention? No. From 2 days ago, Oregon Dem at Kos, "Prediction: The 2020 Democratic Convention Will be Contested, and Harris Will Emerge as the Nominee":
Per the revised DNC rules, “Superdelegates”... cannot vote on the first ballot.... Because of this change, for the current contest, those who are Superdelegates appear to be less vocal in who they may be supporting. I haven’t seen a single tabulation this time as to which candidates have which Superdelegate’s support....

"Federal prosecutors signaled in a court document released on Thursday that it was unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation..."

"... that ensnared members of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle and threatened to derail his presidency. In the document, the prosecutors said they had 'effectively concluded' their inquiry, which centered on payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had had affairs with Mr. Trump.... The president’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, was convicted in the case. He has said he helped arrange the hush money at the direction of Mr. Trump, and prosecutors have repeated the accusation in court papers. Mr. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence."

The NYT reports.

ADDED: From the comments at the NYT: "Why does trump always get away with everything, every single time? he is completely immune from prosecution, let alone the very most basic of scrutiny. This is untenable and threatens the foundation of our democracy."

That makes me think of a Dylan lyric: "I can’t help it if I’m lucky." Original context:
Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out but when they will I can only guess
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
I can’t help it if I’m lucky

Ihan Omar takes to the high ground — the Maya Angelou high ground.

Very well played by Omar.

Here's the full text of "Still I Rise," which is not to be confused with "On the Pulse of the Morning," the poem — often mocked by Rush Limbaugh — that Angelou performed at Bill Clinton's inauguration, the one that begins with "A Rock, A River, A Tree" and the "dry tokens" (petrified droppings?) of dinosaurs:

From the Wikipedia article, "On the Pulse of the Morning":
The popular press praised Clinton's choice of Angelou as inaugural poet, and her "representiveness" of the American people and its president. Critic Mary Jane Lupton said that "Angelou's ultimate greatness will be attributed" to the poem, and that Angelou's "theatrical" performance of it, using skills she learned as an actor and speaker, marked a return to the African-American oral tradition of speakers such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Poetry critics, despite praising Angelou's recitation and performance, gave mostly negative reviews of the poem....
I think the move to poetry is good! Trump does poetry too. Famously, "The Snake"!

CORRECTION: The original headline for this post was "Ihan Omar takes to the high ground — the Maya-Angelou-at-the-Clinton-inauguration high ground." That lets you see that I myself confused "Still I Rise" with "On the Pulse of the Morning." I'd discovered my mistake as I put the post together, but I forgot to change the post title until after publication. Fixed!

And, as you know, hot dog is Mitt Romney's favorite meat.

Meat 'n' Mitt — America's favorite combo.

Actually... if I were Mitt, I'd worry about prodding people with "dog"... If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's an entire Wikipedia article, "Mitt Romney dog incident." From that article:
Responding to Democrats who emphasized the Seamus story, conservative bloggers such as Jim Treacher drew a comparison between the Seamus incident and Barack Obama sampling dog meat as a child in Indonesia, where it is a local delicacy, as mentioned in Obama's autobiography. While an Obama spokesman called it an attack on a small child, Obama himself has displayed a sense of humor about it.

The White House Correspondents' Dinner saw Obama saying that Sarah Palin's stint guest hosting The Today Show reminded him of an old query: "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious." Delaney, Arthur; Stuart, Hunter (April 30, 2012). "Obama Ate Dog, And He'd Do It Again To Remind You Of Seamus Romney". Huffington Post (Video).
Ah, I got to use my old "Obamedy" tag again. And it's interesting to see Sarah Palin again. She's been off the radar screen for quite a while. Do we ever hear of her these days? Well, there's this outré acknowledgment from Sacha Baron Cohen, who just got an Emmy nomination for that barely watchable show he put out:
"While I am flattered at these nods, it is a shame that my co-stars were not recognized," Cohen wrote on Twitter. "Particularly Dick Cheney, who I had hoped would come across on camera as someone who’d gleefully sent hundreds of thousands to their pointless death — and boy did he deliver." He added, "There’s one more person I need to thank even though she didn’t appear in the final project, Sarah Palin. Sarah, if you are out there, and you are WAY out there, please know the last time unseen footage generated as much interest, was when Donald Trump visited a Moscow hotel room."
Well, this post went down the rat hole. Here we are in the Steele dossier!

The crudeness and the precision of the "Send her back" chant — heard at Trump's rally last night in Greenville, NC.

The crudeness: Trump, in his original tweet and later statements, was asking about the failure to leave and noting their option to leave. They are free. "Send her back" is not a question. It's an imperative. And it's not about the individual's option to leave. Someone — the group as a whole, Trump as President? — is told to do the sending, which sounds like an overriding of the individual's freedom — a deportation. Trump hasn't ever talked about kicking a Congresswoman out of the country. So the crowd has gone beyond Trump's idea and re-understood it as a harsh exercise of power against the will of the individual and in retribution for exercising the most basic American freedom, the freedom to speak in criticism of governmental power.

The precision: They said "her," limiting themselves to Ilhan Omar as Trump was talking about her. Trump's tweets were addressed at "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all)." He didn't name anybody individually, but he used the plural, and it's been assumed that he was talking about the set of 4 Congresswomen who have grouped themselves together, the so-called "Squad" of Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib. Once you make that assumption, Trump looks like he's made an assumption — that nonwhite people came from another country. From there, Trump was open to accusations of racism (which, of course, he got, like mad). But only Omar is an immigrant. By chanting "Send her back" (and not "Send them back"), the crowd arrived at a greater accuracy than Trump's original tweet.

Is the chant "Send her back" a good one, going forward, for Trump rallies? Check all that apply.
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July 17, 2019

At the Pinkness Café...

Sunlit flower

... is there anything left to talk about.

Let's watch Trump's rally, live-streaming from Greenville, North Carolina.

ADDED: After listing his accomplishments in office: "But could you imagine what it could have been if we didn't have that witch hunt?" He hears a voice in the crowd. He points to the person. "You said it. He said it. I won't say it, 'cause it's a terrible word, so I will not say that this guy said if we didn't have the bullshit. That's right." Big cheers.

AND: He goes after Congresswoman Omar, and the crowd chants, "Send her back/Send her back."

50 years ago today, The New York Times withdrew its 1920 article "A Severe Strain on Credulity," which mocked Robert Goddard for believing that a rocket could land on the moon.

Here's "A Severe Strain on Credulity" (1920):
As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even highest, part of the earth's atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard's multiple-charge rocket is a practicable, and therefore promising device. Such a rocket, too, might carry self-recording instruments, to be released at the limit of its flight, and conceivable parachutes would bring them safely to the ground. It is not obvious, however, that the instruments would return to the point of departure; indeed, it is obvious that they would not, for parachutes drift exactly as balloons do...

That Professor Goddard, with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react -- to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.

But there are such things as intentional mistakes or oversights, and, as it happens, Jules Verne, who... deliberately seemed to  make the same mistake that Professor Goddard seems to make. For the Frenchman, having got his travelers toward the moon into the desperate fix of riding a tiny satellite of the satellite, saved them from circling it forever by means of an explosion, rocket fashion, where an explosion would not have had in the slightest degree the effect of releasing them from their dreadful slavery. That was one of Verne's few scientific slips, or else it was a deliberate step aside from scientific accuracy, pardonable enough in him as a romancer, but its like is not so easily explained when made by a savant who isn't writing a novel of adventure.
On July 17, 1969, with the manned moon launch under way, the NYT (lightheartedly) retracted the old statement:
Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.
The Times is being cute, but there's no apology to Goddard. Wikipedia describes the effect of the NYT mockery:

"The House on Wednesday killed an attempt to impeach President Trump for statements that the chamber condemned this week as racist..."

"... turning aside an accusation that he had brought 'ridicule, disgrace and disrepute' to his office. But 95 Democrats signaled their support for impeachment, while 137 opposed it — a dramatic split signaling trouble ahead for a divided party. The 332-95 vote to table the impeachment article drafted by Representative Al Green, Democrat of Texas, constituted the first action by the House since Democrats took control in January on a measure to impeach Mr. Trump, a significant move that Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and other party leaders have toiled to avoid. By agreeing to table the article, Ms. Pelosi and the Democrats put off — at least for now — a prolonged and divisive debate over whether Mr. Trump’s conduct warrants his expulsion."

The NYT reports.
"You have to give him credit: He’s a great distractor,” Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, said of Mr. Trump on Wednesday. She waved off questions about whether the Democrats’ policy priorities were being eclipsed by the president’s antics, saying, “We’re not having him set our agenda; we’re setting our own agenda.”
She looked really happy at her press conference. It was weird:

Meanwhile, in about an hour, Trump has another one of his rallies. [ADDED: I've moved the live stream to a new post.]

Anti-manspreading chairs.

"That Notre-Dame still stands is due solely to the enormous risks taken by firefighters in those third and fourth hours."

"Disadvantaged by their late start, firefighters would rush up the 300 steps to the burning attic and then be forced to retreat. Finally, a small group of firefighters was sent directly into the flames, as a last, desperate effort to save the cathedral.... 'We were at first reluctant to go because we weren’t sure we’d have an escape route'... A group of firefighters from a neighboring suburb refused to go, but another team said it would do it. They broke a gate, and as they went inside the northern tower, found parts of a wall and the floor on fire. They climbed a set of stairs to the height of the bells. From there, they could douse the flames. One firefighter almost fell through the cracking steps — but by 9:45, they had the flames under control.... 'First off, this is all about our fragility,' Monsignor Chauvet, the rector, said on reflection. 'We are as nothing. The fragility of man, in respect to God. We are nothing but — creatures.'"

From "Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew. This is how it was saved" — a detailed and elaborately illustrated NYT piece.

"At the most basic level, true crime satisfies that little-kid desire to see beneath the surface of everything."

"As a child, I was often ashamed of my curiosity, which always seemed to go in socially unacceptable directions. I’d reach for a stick to explore a dead fish at the edge of a pond. I yearned to learn taxidermy. Grown-ups smiled when I said I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, but I knew better than to tell them my main motivation: I wanted to see everyone naked. As a teenager, I liked nothing better than testing my ability to withstand upsetting things. If at that time I felt isolated because of my true-crime fixation, as an adult I know I’m not alone. My fascination springs from the same sources that have always drawn people to the genre: straightforward curiosity, vicarious thrills and a kind of magical thinking that maybe if you consume crime as art you’ll never confront it in real life."

Writes Kate Tuttle in "Why Do Women Love True Crime?"

Why is "curiosity" — once experienced as shameful — now deemed "straightforward"?

This feels like another version of an old phenomenon: It's about women, so it must be perceived as good. Women love the true-crime genre — they're something like 70% if the audience — so it can't be that there's something perverse or creepy or disordered about the fascination.

Trump floats a new nickname — "four horsewomen of the apocalypse" — and rails against the do-nothing Democrats.

I'm reading Trump's tweets this morning.

First, there's this quote from Louisiana Senator John Kennedy (in 3 parts: 1, 2, 3):
"In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave. The simple fact of the matter is, the four Congresswomen think that America is wicked in its origins, they think that America is even more wicked now, that we are all racist and evil. They’re entitled to their opinion, they’re Americans. Now I’m entitled to my opinion, & I just think they’re left wing cranks. They’re the reason there are directions on a shampoo bottle, & we should ignore them. The 'squad' has moved the Democrat Party substantially LEFT, and.....they are destroying the Democrat Party. I’m appalled that so many of our Presidential candidates are falling all over themselves to try to agree with the four horsewomen of the apocalypse. I’m entitled to say that they’re Wack Jobs."
Then, Trump's own words:
The Democrats in Congress are getting nothing done, not on drug pricing, not on immigration, not on infrastructure, not on nothing! Sooo much opportunity, yet all they want to do is go “fishing.” The American people are tired of the never ending Witch Hunt, they want results now!
I added the boldface to reveal an interesting resonance.

ADDED: So... the rhetoric is — They think we're wicked and there are witches, and we think they are the destruction of one fourth of humanity:
I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest... Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword... before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, 'A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!'... I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him.... They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by the sword (war), famine, and plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.

"Whether this is a walk for the exits of public life, or voluntary entry into a cryogenic experiment to ride out the rest of Trump era is yet to be seen."

From a Bulwark article that begins, "Former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will soon have a new job: President of Young America’s Foundation."

"More than 6 in 10 Mexicans say migrants are a burden on their country because they take jobs and benefits that should belong to Mexicans."

"A 55 percent majority supports deporting migrants who travel through Mexico to reach the United States. Those findings defy the perception that Mexico — a country that has sent millions of its own migrants to the United States, sending billions of dollars in remittances — is sympathetic to the surge of Central Americans. Instead, the data suggests Mexicans have turned against the migrants transiting through their own country, expressing antipathy that would be familiar to many supporters of President Trump north of the border.... [President Andrés Manuel] López Obrador holds a 70 percent job approval rating... While he took office as a lifelong populist, López Obrador quickly had to respond to threats from Trump, mostly about immigration enforcement. Many expected López Obrador — who once compared Trump’s hostility toward Mexicans to the way Adolf Hitler spoke of Jews — to condemn the U.S. president. Instead, he has largely submitted to Trump’s demands on migration.... Mexicans continue to have an overwhelmingly negative opinion about Trump. More than three-quarters of Mexicans dislike Trump, according to the survey, and over 8 in 10 say he treats their country with disrespect."

WaPo reports on a WaPo/Mexico’s Reforma poll.

MEANWHILE: "Support for U.S. President Donald Trump increased slightly among Republicans after he lashed out on Twitter over the weekend in a racially charged attack on four minority Democratic congresswomen, a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll shows... [H]is net approval among members of his Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72%, compared with a similar poll that ran last week.... Trump’s overall approval remained unchanged over the past week. According to the poll, 41% of the U.S. public said they approved of his performance in office, while 55% disapproved," Reuters reports.

It's ridiculous for a mainstream news organization to apply the phrase "racially charged" to Trump's tweets (which didn't even mention race). A strong position on controlling illegal immigration isn't necessarily "racial," as WaPo's Mexican poll indicates. Journalists should keep a professional distance from the characterizations purveyed by politicians and political activists.

"What's your ethnicity?"

The best you can say about this is: awkward rhetorical move.

And let me close in on this part, a word salad with one edible nugget...

... she is tired.

Wearing quilted armor in 90° heat, Conway tries to deliver her lines. But the newsman won't do the dialogue. Of course he won't! Why would he respond to startling nosiness with personal information? The "What's your ethnicity?" was never going to work. So she plunges forward into her — scripted? — "sick and tired" incantation.

She's sweating profusely, but only below the face, which is, I'm guessing, sealed with the waterproof spackle of makeup.

ADDED: How to spackle your face:

You've heard of building the wall. Your face is a wall, and a good wall needs spackle.

"A photo went viral of New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the border, as on the other side of the detention center fence stood another Latina woman, a customs officer..."

"... who works for U.S. Customs & Border Protection, which the Internet couldn’t help but dub 'Ice Bae.' The hashtag quickly grew in popularity on Twitter, and while there were some people supporting the woman identified as Kiara Cervante, many users were angry at the inappropriate nickname, and then incensed at her proud response to the overnight fame. In the viral meme, Kiara appears to be unaffected while AOC and her supporters rally outside the fence. Once identified, Cervante created a Twitter account, which already has 12K followers, and posted a video online introducing herself to all her new 'fans.' In the clip she says, 'It’s me. I’m based in Texas. And yeah, I don’t what else to say.'"

Heavy reports. Here's her Twitter page, where she now has over 49,000 followers.

Here's the picture that frames her with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

In the future, perhaps, political argument will consist of juxtapositions of beautiful women.

ADDED: Only after publishing this post did I perceive that's not one photograph. I don't know who put the 2 photographs side-by-side and created the impression that AOC was pleading dramatically with a cool and unperturbed KC.

July 16, 2019

"The House voted on Tuesday to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks against four congresswomen of color..."

"... but only after the debate over the president’s language devolved into a bitterly partisan brawl that showcased deep rifts over race, ethnicity and political ideology in the age of Trump," the NYT reports.
Some Republicans were... adamant in their defense of Mr. Trump: “What has really happened here is that the president and his supporters have been forced to endure months of allegations of racism,” said Representative Dan Meuser, Republican of Pennsylvania. “This ridiculous slander does a disservice to our nation.”...

“There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong, unified condemnation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as the House debated the resolution. “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets.” As Republicans rose to protest, Ms. Pelosi turned toward them on the House floor and picked up her speech, her voice rising as she added, “To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, made a formal objection to the remarks, charging that they had violated the rules of decorum in the House, which call for lawmakers to avoid impugning the motives of their colleagues or the president.... Republicans sought to turn the tables and condemn Ms. Pelosi for her remarks about Mr. Trump — which many Democrats had echoed in their own speeches before her — touching off tumult as officials scrambled to review House rules and determine how to proceed.... The move by Republicans to have her words stricken from the record then failed along party lines, and Ms. Pelosi was unrepentant.

“I stand by my statement,” she said as she strode through the Capitol. “I’m proud of the attention being called to it because what the president said was completely inappropriate.”...
What a painful spectacle! I watched a good deal of it on C-SPAN and it struck me as a perversion of the legislative function — appropriating the institutions of government for the purpose of exaggerated, ugly political speech. Take it to Twitter, why don't you? The Democrats were interpreting the President's remarks, which were only, at worst, implicitly racist, and condemning him based on their interpretation — their partisan interpretation. That does not belong in Congress.

Justice John Paul Stevens has died.

He lived to the age of 99.

Linda Greenhouse has a long obituary in the NYT. Excerpt:
When he retired in 2010 at the age of 90, Justice Stevens was the second-oldest and the second-longest-serving justice ever to sit on the court. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was about eight months older when he retired in 1932, and William O. Douglas had served 36 years (1939-75)....
Justice Stevens served for 35 years.
Societal debates over the rights of gay men and lesbians, the role of race, private property rights, environmental regulation and the separation of church and state also made their way onto the Supreme Court’s docket, and Justice Stevens, a soft-spoken Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago, was as surprised as anyone to find himself not only taking the liberal side but also becoming its ardent champion....

[In his early years on the Court his] reputation was that of a very smart, nonideological, slightly quirky loner who, if a case was decided by a vote of 8 to 1, was as likely as not to be the solitary dissenter, caring neither to lead nor to follow....

At the Lunchtime Café...

Backyard woodland

... take a walk on the dappled path.

(Or — if you must shop — think of using The Althouse Portal to Amazon. I don't really know what "prime day" is, but I read at Instapundit this morning that there were bargains "out the wazoo." I didn't even know that Amazon had a wazoo.)

"Pottery Barn is releasing a new collection inspired by Friends, including accessories, furniture and tabletop items."

"The items [include] the Pottery Barn apothecary table that Rachel convinced Phoebe was a one-of-a-kind antique in a legendary Season 6 episode titled – wait for it – 'The One with the Apothecary Table.' In that classic, Rachel bought the table from a Pottery Barn catalog, and then, upon learning that 'Phoebe hates Pottery Barn' from Monica, try to pass it off as a flea market find."

Deadline reports.

With certain topics, mainstream media completely forgets about the issue of climate change.

At least the first commenter brings it up: "Also: climate change still exists."

The article, in The Washington Post, is "Airfare is dropping — and you can enjoy the trend through September." It's a gung-ho promotion of air travel. You should do it because it's cheap, and there's not one word of caution or opprobrium, nothing but encouragement to stomp down the biggest possible carbon footprint. If low prices were the "trend" for gas-guzzler cars, WaPo wouldn't publish a hey-kids-check-out-the-bargains article.

Another commenter says, "If you love your children/grandchildren stay on the ground!/A humble request from a Swede," and gets pushed back with "I will only do that when you have convinced me that we have done everything else" and "The biggest burden on the planet comes from having children and grand children. That's my humble request."

Yeah, that's another topic where mainstream media completely forgets about the issue of climate change. Having children.

Everybody who's activated about climate change still has some amnesia-inducing topics. I like confronting people about it, to see how they fight back. Probably not with, Oh, you're right, I really do need to apply the same standard across the board and not be a hypocrite.

ADDED: The ultimate amnesia topic has got to be air conditioning. As the heat goes up — which it does every summer, quite apart from the long-term global-warming phenomenon — people want their air conditioning. As it gets hotter, they're going to be more resistant to giving up air conditioning, and I predict there will be a decline in concern about global warming as it increases, because the desire for air conditioning — now — is going to create a mental block about believing in something that is happening slowly and subtly. But wait. Why am I so pessimistic? I stop and Google "zero carbon footprint air conditioning" and find "WHAT IF AIR CONDITIONERS COULD HELP SAVE THE PLANET INSTEAD OF DESTROYING IT?" (Wired):
Using technology currently in development, AC units in skyscrapers and even your home could get turned into machines that not only capture CO2, but transform the stuff into a fuel for powering vehicles that are difficult to electrify, like cargo ships. The concept, called crowd oil, is still theoretical and faces many challenges....

First of all, you’d need to incorporate a filter that would absorb CO2 and water from the air. You’d also need to include an electrolyzer to strip the oxygen molecule from H2O to get H2, which you’d then combine with CO2 to get hydrocarbon fuels. “Everyone can have their own oil well, basically,” [materials chemist Geoffrey] Ozin says.

For this process to be carbon neutral, though, all those souped-up air conditioners would need to be powered with renewables, because burning the synthetic fuel would also produce emissions. To address that problem, Dittmeyer proposes turning whole buildings into solar panels—placing them not just on rooftops but potentially coating facades and windows with ultrathin, largely transparent panels. “It's like a tree—the skyscraper or house you live in produces a chemical reaction,” Dittmeyer says. “It's like the glucose that a tree is producing.”...

"The Justice Department will not bring federal charges against a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, ending a yearslong inquiry..."

"... into a case that sharply divided officials and prompted national protests over excessive force by the police, according to three people briefed on the decision....  A state grand jury declined to bring charges against Officer Pantaleo in December 2014.... But a federal investigation into Mr. Garner’s death proceeded, sharply dividing the Justice Department under four attorneys general and two presidents.... The attorney general at the time of the death, Eric H. Holder Jr., said that evidence strongly suggested that the federal government should bring charges against Officer Pantaleo.... While career civil rights prosecutors agreed with Mr. Holder, prosecutors under the United States attorney in Brooklyn, Loretta E. Lynch, sharply disagreed.... After Ms. Lynch succeeded Mr. Holder in April 2015, officials... worked to convince her that the officers had used excessive force and had likely violated Mr. Garner’s civil rights.... But the case stalled again after Mr. Trump won the presidential election and appointed Jeff Sessions as his attorney general. Civil rights division prosecutors recommended that charges be brought, and they asked the deputy attorney general at the time, Rod J. Rosenstein, about indicting Officer Pantaleo. But Mr. Rosenstein did not allow the department to move forward on an indictment, and many officials said they believed that there was a good chance that the government would lose the case should it go to trial...."

From "Eric Garner’s Death Will Not Lead to Federal Charges for N.Y.P.D. Officer/The decision came five years after Mr. Garner’s dying words — 'I can’t breathe' — became a rallying cry" (NYT).

"How hot is too hot? Will we be, like, ow! all the time?"

Marianne Williamson is polling higher than Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee...

I say out loud (as I read about a new poll of registered voters in New Hampshire).

The response from Meade was singing: "Hey, Marianne, what's your game now, can anybody play?" Based on:

It's a pretty small poll — only 390 respondents — but it's fascinating that Marianne Williamson got 1.5%, and "serious" candidates Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee lagged behind (with 1.2, 1.0, 0.7, and 0.3, respectively).

ADDED: If a pollster called you up, why wouldn't you say "Marianne"? It says so many things. For example it says: I know who you are pollster, but you don't know me, you don't know anything about my world.

AND: Screw the pollsters! Everyone should say "Marianne."

Biden's entry in the game of words.

How well did Biden do? Pick what's closest to your reaction after watching the video clip.

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"The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass..."

"... and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public..... .... .....shouting of the F...word, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills. Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!"

Tweeted Trump, just now.

1. He's a master of Tweet-talk — he's tweet-talking us — but he makes language mistakes that I would edit out. He writes, "the petrified Dems run for the hills," but if you are petrified — the dead metaphor is turned to stone — you can't move, so you can't run. (The OED gives this example from Jack London's "White Fang": "The cub was in a frenzy of terror, yet he lay without movement or sound, frozen, petrified into immobility, to all appearances dead.")

2. But "petrified" is a slightly unusual word, so it works as a stimulant.

3. The implicit subject is that Nancy Pelosi is going forward with a vote to condemn Trump for his "Why don't they go back..." tweets (which we discussed here yesterday). Trump is certainly not backing down. He doesn't do that, and how could that possibly work? If he ever withdrew a remark and apologized, his antagonists would react by demanding another concession. So he plunges forward, in attack mode: "Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said?" You don't like what I said, look at what you said. And on and on.

4. A return of the iconic "Sad!"

5. The key line is: "Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on." He's tying all the Democrats to a small, vocal group that the Democrats don't want as their brand. He's taunting them: You can't even distance yourself from this small group, within your own party, for your own sake. Implied: How can you be trusted to defend America?

6. Look at the arc of emotion in Trump's brief statement: It begins with hate (the "spewing" of "vile, hateful, and disgusting things") and proceeds to love ("a big embrace") and then to anger ("shouting of the F...word") and then to fear ("petrified Dems... afraid to take them on"), and finally sadness ("Sad!"). The hate and anger are projected outward from the small subgroup of Democrats. The love and fear are experienced within the fragile body of mainstream Democrats. And the sadness is Trump's idea of the appropriate reaction from anyone watching.

7. Look at the narrative of action: the small subgroup of Democrats spews. The more sensible Democrats have one strong action — the big hug — and the rest is weakness — frozen into immobility or running. Yes, there's that implied activity, voting to condemn Trump, but he doesn't mention it. His defense is to go on the offense. Yet he assumes the position of standing back and observing and finding it sad.

July 15, 2019

At the Windowbox Basil Café...

Window-box basil

... you can pick your topic.

Why are Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna S. Pressley called "The Squad"?

I keep seeing the term without an explanation of its origin. It wasn't easy to Google — especially with all the clutter having to do with Trump's recent tweets, which we're already discussing here. This post is just about the term "The Squad."

I decided to search the NYT archive for the 4 names plus "the squad" and to look at the oldest  all of the returns. The oldest article was "For All the Talk of a Tea Party of the Left, Moderates Emerge as a Democratic Power" (June 30):
While the House’s liberal superstars are adept at promoting their progressive positions and routinely generate headlines for breaking with the party line, they have not made a habit of lobbying their colleagues to defy Ms. Pelosi en masse. Last week, the foursome known as The Squad...
No explanation of who started that term and why.

The second-oldest is "It’s Nancy Pelosi’s Parade/'If the left doesn’t think I’m left enough, so be it,' she told me," a Maureen Dowd column from July 6th.
I asked Pelosi whether...it was jarring to get a bad headline like the one in HuffPost that day — “What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing?” The article described the outrage of the Squad, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts are known.
The term is not explained in the Dowd column (and isn't used in the HuffPo piece).

Next oldest is "Tensions Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of ‘the Squad’ Burst Into Flame" (July 9th):
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they have no following in Congress. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York shot back that she and three of her fellow liberal freshmen, darlings of the left known collectively as “the squad,” are wielding the real power in the party.... The contretemps began when Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist, asked Ms. Pelosi about the squad’s fury over the border aid package... The squad and its allies argue that they are tapping into the real energy in the Democratic base with their uncompromising and unapologetic stances....
Again, the term is used with no explanation. Further down, we see:
“AOC and The Squad have changed the entire national debate,” said an email rehashing the spat from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which offered a colorful “I STAND WITH AOC” sticker to anyone who donated to their work “electing more AOC’s to Congress.”
That suggests that the women came up with that name for themselves. Why would they do that? Maybe they're taking an epithet and wearing it with pride. I don't know.

There's also this other usage of "squad" in that article:
“This is an inevitable tension between a few progressives with one priority, which is their ideology, and a speaker with many priorities, including preserving the majority in the House, electing a Democratic president against Trump, and responding to the consensus of her caucus,” said Steve Israel, a Democrat and former representative of New York. “To the extent that it distracts from Donald Trump and becomes a circular firing squad among Democrats, it can be lethal.”
I am going to guess that talk of a circular firing squad — there's been a lot of that — led to calling the 4 Congresswomen "The Squad." That would explain why the explanation of the origin is suppressed. Too violent. Too much like a death threat.

Consulting Urban Dictionary, I can see that the use of the term could be experienced as racist: "Crew, posse, gang: an informal group of individuals with a common identity and a sense of solidarity. The term is a bit flashy and is more likely to be heard in hip-hop lyrics than in spoken conversation"/"A word overused by teenagers that think they're ghetto to describe their clique of friends"/"A dumb word only used by white middle schoolers in suburban areas to describe their group of friends and try to sound ghetto. It doesnt make them sound ghetto, but actually increases their whiteness."

How embarrassing! Embarrassingness increases the likelihood that this is the real origin of the term, since the source of the term isn't talked about.

I get the feeling Maureen Dowd heard the term and thought it was hip/cute/clever and she went public with it without understanding the problem with it. Now, they're stuck with it and vulnerable if anyone is ever curious enough to ask about the origin.

ADDED: From Elle Magazine in 2015: "Meet Hillary Clinton's Girl Squad/On Wednesdays, they wear pantsuits." Also, from 2018: "What Happened to Taylor Swift's Girl Squad?/Taylor Swift practically invented #SquadGoals, and now she's traveling solo inside her own suitcase. What gives?"

"Law Profs Weigh In: What Is The Appropriate Response When A White Student Wears A MAGA Hat In Class?"

Lawprof Paul Caron follows up on his earlier post, "What Should A Black Law Professor Do When A White Student Wears A MAGA Hat In Class?"

I passed on blogging this story earlier, and I'm trying to remember exactly why. Was it that I knew the young lawprof was going to get slammed and I'd have to join the pile-on? Something like that. The professor —  Jeffrey Omari — scored a column in the ABA Journal. Excerpt:
I was unsure whether the student was directing a hateful message toward me or if he merely lacked decorum and was oblivious to how his hat might be interpreted by his black law professor. I presumed it was the former. As the student sat there directly in front of me, his shiny red MAGA hat was like a siren spewing derogatory racial obscenities at me for the duration of the one hour and fifteen-minute class. ...

As my blood boiled inwardly, outwardly I remained calm. In an effort to assuage the perceived tension, I jokingly told the student, “I like your hat,” when he raised his hand to participate in class discussion. Without missing a beat, the student mockingly grinned from ear to ear and said, “Thank you.”  
He was that angry, but he assures us he appeared perfectly calm and successfully delivered what others would receive as a joke. He knows what's in his head, and how he looks to others, which is reading the inside of their head. How could he know that the students didn't hear his joke as the sarcasm it was? He's sure he knows the student's grin was mockery? Did he consider that the student may have believed that outwardly he remained perfectly polite?

Anyway, all the lawprofs easily arrive at the opinion that a professor should allow students to wear their politically expressive clothing without regard to viewpoint and it was really wrong to publish an article calling a particular, identifiable student a racist.

I really don't see how a person can teach if they get angry at students. Even if you do have a superpower of preventing it from showing, you're the teacher, you're the one with the power. You shouldn't be getting angry at them.

His shiny red MAGA hat was like a siren spewing derogatory racial obscenities at me... MAGA hats are shiny?

"One day in early June, Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, tapped the glass of the bakery case at a Blue Bottle coffee shop on a non-iconic block in Beverly Hills."

"No one seemed to know who she was—another polished professional woman, grabbing an afternoon coffee—which was fine by her. She had chosen the spot, presumably for the anonymity. A few minutes later, her body woman delivered her a cookie: caramel chocolate chip, covered in a light snowfall of flaky salt. As Harris broke off small pieces and popped them in her mouth, we talked about her early life, rummaging through the layers for identifying details. The child of immigrant academics who divorced when she was young—her mother, a cancer researcher, came from India, and her father, an economist, from Jamaica—Harris grew up between Oakland and the Berkeley flats, but also spent time in college towns in the Midwest and a few years in Montreal, where her mother was teaching. 'A very vivid memory of my childhood was the Mayflower truck,' she told me. 'We moved a lot.' She speaks some French. She loves to cook and enjoys dancing, puns. She tells her own story uneasily. 'It’s like extracting stuff from me,' she apologized. 'I’m not good at talking about myself.'"

The inauspicious beginning of "Kamala Harris Makes Her Case/The Presidential candidate has been criticized as a defender of the status quo/Can she prove that she’s a force for change?" by Dana Goodyear (The New Yorker).

Here's my screen shot of one of the 2 Blue Bottle coffee shops in Beverly Hills (from Google Maps):

Where do you go when you want to look like just another polished professional and you want to pop a light snowfall of flaky salt and talk about yourself without talking about yourself?

Did I read the rest of the article? Okay, I'll force myself to skim, but I take that opening to mean that Goodyear got nothing out of her. Let's see...
Harris, who is fifty-four, has a billboard smile, and brown eyes that soften easily but just as readily turn skeptical.

Josh Marshall applies "a hermeneutic of suspicion" to the what seems to be a decision by the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan to close its investigation into the Trump Organization without filing charges.

He comes up with this:
US Attorney Geoffrey Berman had to recuse himself from the Trump-related investigations because of his ties to the President. Supervision was undertaken by the Deputy US Attorney Robert S. Khuzami. But he left the US Attorney’s office in late March of this year. A month earlier, Attorney General Bill Barr was sworn in. So Bill Barr was sworn in about exactly five months ago – which seems to be roughly the time of the last contact between the US Attorney’s office and executives of the Trump Organization....

To be clear, I am not aware of any reporting documenting any interference from US Attorney Berman, Attorney General Barr or anyone at Main Justice. But given the Barr DOJ’s demonstrated record of consistently unethical behavior and more or less open efforts to protect President Trump, this requires some scrutiny.

"If 'Maple' is a kind of real-life 'Rosebud,' for Jeffrey Epstein, then maybe his money is not the root of all his evil."

"Maybe Epstein’s particular evil is not just rooted in his wealth and the arrogance it engendered, but in whatever happened in those years while he was raised on Maple Avenue by a mother and father who seemed to their neighbors to harbor only humility and decency."

Maybe maybe maybe!

Articles must be written. The one I'm reading is The Daily Beast, "Epstein’s Coney Island Days: From Math Nerd to ‘Arrogant’ Prick" by Michael Daly, who found a pathway to Trump:
[B]y the 1960s, Sea Gate was largely home to working-class people such as the Epsteins. The fence had become a protective barrier against urban blight and its accompanying dangers. Coney Island had been transformed from a summertime paradise to a crime-plagued ghetto with the help of real estate developer Fred Trump, who actively arranged for welfare recipients to move into what had been holiday bungalows. That caused residents of the year-round homes to flee, some of them to apartments at the new Trump Village that the developer had been having difficulty filling.

Street criminals still managed to cut through the chain link occasionally, but Sea Gate had its own private police force to patrol the streets and man the two gates, admitting only residents and guests. Sea Gate thereby remained an exclusive community in the sense that outsiders—particularly of the black and Hispanic variety—were excluded.

That caused Jeffrey Epstein and the other “Sea Gate kids” to be viewed as snobs by some of their classmates beyond the fence.
So Epstein's family was middle class, but — because of Fred Trump — poor people got housing nearby and that led to a social dynamic that cast Epstein, the middle class kid, as, essentially a rich kid.