July 18, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

Vivid street theater in a NYC free-speech zone.

After that last course in the White Woman Restaurant — the overstuffed platter from Ms. Palmieri — here's the palate-cleanser you need.

"The white man’s path is a rut for the rest of us" — writes a privileged white woman...

.... Jennifer Palmieri, in a newspaper owned by a white man (The Washington Post, owned by mega-billionaire Jeff Bezos).

Where does Palmieri get the identitarian authority to speak for a group called "the rest of us" against "the white man"?

To her credit, she begins by showing her awareness that she really doesn't have the authority:
A few years ago, I would have dismissed as unhelpful the notion that I was a woman struggling to succeed in a man’s world. I thought I was doing great. I was working in Barack Obama’s White House. Hillary Clinton’s election as the first female president seemed to be on the horizon and....
Palmieri was Hillary's communications director.
But I no longer see it as self-defeating to call myself an outsider in a man’s world.
She'd have been an insider if Hillary had become President. But she's not saying she is an outsider, just that it's to her advantage — not "self-defeating" — to call herself an outsider.
Instead, I think the self-preservation of all marginalized people demands it.
All marginalized people need you — extremely privileged white woman — to call yourself an outsider. Their "self-preservation" depends on you claiming to be one of them?
Patiently waiting for things to improve has served only to sustain the very systems that keep women and people of color from obtaining real power.
Systems! You were communications director and your candidate lost. That's why you don't have power — and it would have been immense and real. Because your campaign fell short, you now posit "systems" that are holding you back in the same way they hold back women in general and "people of color." What were the "systems" that held back "people of color" when you were working in Barack Obama’s White House? Or do the "systems" come and go depending on whether Hillary Clinton blabbered about "deplorables" and didn't go to Michigan?

"President Donald Trump on Friday broke his silence on a tell-all book that dives into the president's upbringing and family life..."

"... distancing himself from his author niece and calling her a 'mess.' 'Mary Trump, a seldom seen niece who knows little about me, says untruthful things about my wonderful parents (who couldn’t stand her!) and me, and violated her NDA,' Trump wrote on Twitter. 'She’s a mess! Many books have been written about me, some good, some bad. Both happily and sadly, there will be more to come!'... Speaking with CNN's Chris Cuomo hours after Trump's tweet, Mary Trump [said] that she and her grandmother were 'very close.' 'My grandfather didn't really have positive feelings for anybody except perhaps Donald'.... During the explosive interview with Maddow [on Thursday], Mary Trump said that she had heard the president and other members of their family use anti-Semitic language and a derogatory slur on Black people."

From "A seldom seen niece': Trump fires back at Mary Trump over tell-all book/The author, in turn, delivers a live rebuttal on cable television" (Politico).

I'd thought that Trump was going to keep silent about Mary Trump — that silence would be an eloquent way to suggest that he knows a lot about her — leaving us to imagine that she may have mental health problems or complicated grudges and that Trump is honoring his beloved dead brother by leaving his daughter in a special sacred circle of immunity from his otherwise free-wheeling attacks.

And maybe that was what he'd decided to do but he had to reverse his position after the Maddow interview, because the poison of the accusation of racist speech requires an immediate antidote.

But was that an effective antidote? It's a hell of a thing to say to someone — your grandparents couldn't stand you.

I know I discarded the racist-speech accusation immediately because it's just about individual words that were used — used or mentioned? — in private. I need at least sentences — not isolated words — to have any idea whether what was said was even bad.

Here's the Rachel Maddow segment:

By the way: "When you ask a normal, right-handed person about something he's supposed to have seen, if he looks upward and to his left, he's truly accessing his memory of the incident... However, if he looks upward and to his right, he's accessing his imagination, and he's inventing an answer." Mary Trump repeatedly looked up and to the right to "see" the answers to the questions she was asked. I don't know if she's right-handed.

What is the real "free speech problem" on the left from the point of view of a real leftist?

I'm reading "Do Progressives Have a Free Speech Problem?/The illiberal left is a lot less threatening than the right. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist" by Michelle Goldberg (NYT). Goldberg signed the "Letter on Justice and Open Debate" that was published in Harper's, and she's using this column to expand on the topic.

She says she initially declined to sign the letter, "in part because it denounced 'cancel culture'" — a term she associates with "right-wing whiners like Ivanka Trump who think protests against them violate their free speech." I'd like to see the first draft! I want to know what had to be taken out to get so many signatures. At least we know what one person says she objected to and that it was, she says, edited out. Goldberg notes that discussions of the letter have talked about "cancel culture," even though the words aren't in the draft.

After avoiding writing about the subject — telling herself other things are more important — she got triggered by the "scathing rejoinder" written by Hannah Giorgis (in The Atlantic):
“Facing widespread criticism on Twitter, undergoing an internal workplace review, or having one’s book panned does not, in fact, erode one’s constitutional rights or endanger a liberal society.”

This sentence brought me up short; one of these things is not like the others. Anyone venturing ideas in public should be prepared to endure negative reviews and pushback on social media. Internal workplace reviews are something else. If people fear for their livelihoods for relatively minor ideological transgressions, it may not violate the Constitution — the workplace is not the state — but it does create a climate of self-censorship and grudging conformity....

"Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality..."

"... and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.... He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders, the Black and white activists who challenged segregated interstate travel in the South in 1961. He was a founder and early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which coordinated lunch-counter sit-ins. He helped organize the March on Washington, where Dr. King was the main speaker, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Mr. Lewis led demonstrations against racially segregated restrooms, hotels, restaurants, public parks and swimming pools, and he rose up against other indignities of second-class citizenship. At nearly every turn he was beaten, spat upon or burned with cigarettes. He was tormented by white mobs and absorbed body blows from law enforcement. On March 7, 1965, he led one of the most famous marches in American history. In the vanguard of 600 people demanding the voting rights they had been denied, Mr. Lewis marched partway across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., into a waiting phalanx of state troopers in riot gear. Ordered to disperse, the protesters silently stood their ground. The troopers responded with tear gas and bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. In the melee, known as Bloody Sunday, a trooper cracked Mr. Lewis’s skull with a billy club, knocking him to the ground, then hit him again when he tried to get up."

The NYT reports.

July 17, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

Andrew Sullivan explains why he's leaving New York Magazine and — sort of — reviving his blog.

From his final NY Magazine column (I've added boldface):
What has happened, I think, is relatively simple: A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me.... They seem to believe... that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media. That, to the best of my understanding, is why I’m out of here....
[I]f the mainstream media want to cut ties with even moderate anti-Trump conservatives, because they won’t bend the knee to critical theory’s version of reality, that’s their prerogative...  But this is less of a systemic problem than in the past... I was among the first to recognize this potential for individual freedom of speech, and helped pioneer individual online media, specifically blogging, 20 years ago.
Andrew Sullivan is returning to blogging???? You know, I'm a die-hard, dead-ender blogger, and I'll do this even if it's obsolescent and obscure, but I've been half predicting a big blogging revival. So I'm excited to see Sullivan write "And this is where I’m now headed." But wait, he's got a problem with blogging:

3 occasions — this morning at sunrise — for thinking — if only momentarily — is that the comet?




(Click images to enlarge if you can't see what I was seeing.)

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, has had a recurrence of cancer, she announced on Friday."

The NYT reports.
She said she had begun a course of chemotherapy on May 19, after “a periodic scan in February followed by a biopsy revealed lesions on my liver.”

“Immunotherapy first essayed proved unsuccessful,” she said. “The chemotherapy course, however, is yielding positive results. Satisfied that my treatment course is now clear, I am providing this information.”

"Is the Anti-Racism Training Industry Just Peddling White Supremacy?"

Jonathan Chait is asking what I think is the right question. Let's see if he answers "yes." I'm afraid the "just" provides weasel room, but I have been asking the same question and my answer is yes.

So let's read Chait:
[T]he anti-racism trainers go beyond denying the myth of meritocracy to denying the role of individual merit altogether. Indeed, their teaching presents individuals as a racist myth. In their model, the individual is subsumed completely into racial identity....

The ideology of the racism-training industry... collapses all identity into racial categories. “It is crucial for white people to acknowledge and recognize our collective racial experience,” writes DiAngelo, whose teachings often encourage the formation of racial affinity groups. The program does not allow any end point for the process of racial consciousness. Racism is not a problem white people need to overcome in order to see people who look different as fully human — it is totalizing and inescapable.

Of course, DiAngelo’s whites-only groups are not dreamed up in the same spirit as David Duke’s. The problem is that, at some point, the extremes begin to functionally resemble each other despite their mutual antipathy.

I want to make clear that when I compare the industry’s conscious racialism to the far right, I am not accusing it of “reverse racism” or bias against white people. In some cases its ideas literally replicate anti-Black racism....
Chait is talking about the way "the industry" characterizes written communication, rationality, science, hard work, and planning as white. Here's his last sentence:
[O]ne day DiAngelo’s legions of customers will look back with embarrassment at the time when a moment of awakening to the depth of American racism drove them to embrace something very much like racism itself.
Is that a "yes" to the question in the post title? It's pretty close.

"Let's pretend this coffee is champagne... to celebrate life... like the rich, classy people do."

"I deleted a tweet that in retrospect was mean spirited. I’m mad at myself for commenting on someone’s looks..."

"... instead of their ideas, especially so because I didn’t realize their identity, which obviously could make my comment more hurtful," tweets Thomas Chatterton Williams, who wrote that "Letter on Justice and Open Debate" we were all talking about last week.

So what was the tweet? Whose looks did he disparage?

I don't think it's the "In the middle of nowhere expelling" tweet that became a meme, explored on Know Your Meme:
"In the Middle of Nowhere Expelling" refers to a tweet by Harper's columnist Thomas Chatterton Williams. In the tweet, he relays a story about "expelling" a person from his house because they insulted New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss. Many parodied the tweet online as a phrasal template, replacing elements of the tweet with various other absurd situations....
Hilarious. Though he deleted that post too, it's not what I'm looking for. Whose looks did he take a shot at? I'll just take a shot at his looks — he reminds me of Pat Paulson and Taylor Mead...

... but I'm going to guess that his target was Robin DiAngelo, because that's someone he's been tweeting about substantively lately:

I think DiAngelo looks great in that picture. Just perfect for what she is and what she's purveying. So maybe it's someone else. Maybe Mary Trump? I tried to watch some of her interview with George Stephanopoulos and got a little absorbed in her looks...

I think it's good, if you're a writer, to have some lines about how a person looks, but I can certainly see pushing back your antagonists for talking about anybody's looks in a negative way. And there's a certain conventional etiquette that forbids speaking about looks, even in a positive way. Thomas Chatterton Williams wants to be a public intellectual, but he's showing how easy he is to push back. Stand your ground!

Love or hate Kayleigh —  she is prepared as hell.

Misspelled "Mueller" though.

Who's Hogan? The Republican governor of Maryland. Here's CNN from last night (after McEnany's conference):
Hogan had earlier slammed Trump's early response to the coronavirus pandemic as "hopeless" in an article published Thursday in The Washington Post, elaborating on his efforts to secure testing kits and prevent the deaths of residents in his state. His account, excerpted from his forthcoming book, subsequently drew criticism from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Mediaite covers the mind-bending binder closeup:
During her tenure, McEnany has developed a reputation for flipping open her briefing book after a particularly confrontational question and reading verbatim from pre-written responses, which often included canned attacks on the press or praise from allies.
Aw, don't they hate that — when they trigger the canned response? Oh, no, not the binder! She has a tab for that!

Interestingly, one of the tabs is "Goya." Speaking of canned....

Oddly enough, that photograph could be what wins him reelection. Think about it. People are emotional.

ADDED: Looks like Kayleigh has some magnificent rings, but they are not sized correctly.

"No, Joe Biden Didn’t Introduce Man in Blackface at 1985 Fundraiser."

Snopes explains. The video you're seeing — with captions like "Joe Biden participated in 'Black Face' skit in a unfunny way" — is Biden introducing a black singer.

The true story isn't particularly good for Biden, who said, quoted in the Washington Examiner (video at the link):
“Now, the next man I would like you to meet,” Biden said. “Now, y’all got to sit down for this. We’re going to have some important people coming out in a minute. But there is one more band member that I want you to meet: Ladies and gentlemen, our vocalist tonight, Michael Jackson. Michael, would you please stand?” Biden said, pointing his hand toward the singer, who smiled and took a bow. Biden added: “Soon to become Prince, as was just pointed out to me."
But it's not about blackface.
In fact, the singer was a D.C.-based performer named Jerome Powell. Looking back at Biden's joke this week, Powell, now 75, told the Washington Examiner it was "just a big mistake" because Powell was influenced by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Tony Bennett and was nothing like Jackson. "People know the difference. I mean, Michael Jackson and I were in two entirely different categories."...

Powell said that while Biden's comment was "a mistake on his side" because he shared no musical similarities with Jackson, he was not offended and did not feel Biden was racially insensitive. “I’m a very sensitive person, so my sensitivity would have kicked in when a statement like that was made. It didn’t. I would have commented or responded to it."
I wanted to find some video of Jerome Powell singing, but it's hard to look up this Jerome Powell, because Jerome Powell is also the name of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

I see #gestapo is trending on Twitter. Example:

From the above-linked WaPo article:
“I was terrified,” [Mark] Pettibone told The Washington Post. “It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.”

Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. The federal officers who snatched him off the street as he was walking home from a peaceful protest did not tell him why he had been detained or provide him any record of an arrest, he told The Post. As far as he knows, he has not been charged with any crimes....

NASA wants you to know it did not change the Zodiac.

NBA star James Harden is getting attacked for wearing this mask.

Scroll at Twitter — here — to see how he's being attacked.

WaPo explains what's going on:
Harden’s face covering featured the “Thin Blue Line,” a pro-police symbol that critics have long claimed also stands for white supremacy and opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement, and a Punisher skull, which has been associated with far-right groups....

Among those who slammed Harden for wearing the mask were musician Trey Songz, who called Harden’s choice of a mask “certified clown s---,” tweeting that “I’ll say it for everybody who scared to.”...

"Yesterday morning my wife came to me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad."

"There comes a time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to continue with such a low quality of life, or whether you want to just ease yourself into the next level. It doesn’t bother me in the least."

Said Alex Trebek, quoted in "Alex Trebek Is Still in the Game/In his new memoir, the longtime “Jeopardy!” host delivers clues and facts about himself, and looks back on his life as he struggles with advanced pancreatic cancer" (NYT).

“There’s a certain comfort that comes from knowing a fact,” Trebek said. “The sun is up in the sky. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to change that. You can’t say, ‘The sun’s not up there, there’s no sky.’ There is reality, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting reality. It’s when you try to distort reality, to maneuver it into accommodating your particular point of view, your particular bigotry, your particular whatever — that’s when you run into problems.”
One morning last year, early in the course of his treatment [for pancreatic cancer], Trebek felt so sick that he lay down on the floor of his dressing room, sobbing from the pain. Producers suggested canceling the rest of the day’s tapings, but Trebek insisted on hosting all five episodes. When he walked onto the stage and greeted the audience, he felt focused, like himself....

“Once I introduce him on that stage, he is Alex Trebek,” said the longtime “Jeopardy!” announcer Johnny Gilbert. “You can tell that that’s what he’s living for.”
Here's the memoir: "The Answer Is …: Reflections on My Life" (out next week).

July 16, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... write about whatever you want.

Found in the street — note the tire marks — near our house.


"Sooner or later you’re going to encounter these anti-American ideas about addressing racism in your workplace, on kids’ homework, or in the faculty lounge..."

"... and you can’t be fragile when confronting it. You need to have a base of knowledge about race in America that demonstrates an understanding of the enormity of the country’s sins, as well as demonstrating you’ve made an effort to inform yourself about overcoming them. You need to understand that your opponents might be employing manipulative logic to make their arguments – arguments that are fast becoming so pervasive that many people making them might readily revise their opinions once you confront them with your concerns. Already there are stories circulating that people have successfully challenged the woke racial thought police in the office and at professional organizations by arming themselves with some basic knowledge. But we can’t stop there. If we inform ourselves about the real history of race in America and engage with the good-faith arguments on both sides, we might be able coalesce around solutions and come together as Americans. It won’t be easy, but if this is what it means to 'do the work' rather than simply let ourselves be told what to think, the effort will be worth it."

From "What To Read Instead Of 'White Fragility'" by Mark Hemingway (The Federalist).

He's flipping the imprecation to "do the work," and predicts that you'll fare better if you've worked (in some other way) and are not avoiding the issue of race — being lazy, not working. And yet, I'm reading that "Whiteness" article from the National Museum of African American History & Culture and it presented the work ethic as part of the internalized aspects of white culture:

For the record, I consider it racist to assign the value of hard work to white people and leave black people on the other side (exactly where the traditional stereotype puts them). I think each of us values work and the avoidance of work in our own way, and it's fine that we do. We should be efficient and make particularized judgments about what's worthwhile, otherwise we'll lose our productive energy and languish in meetings and training sessions led by the dullest people on earth.

"Zephyrinus's predecessor Pope Victor I had excommunicated Theodotus the Tanner for reviving a heresy that Christ only became God after his resurrection."

"Theodotus' followers formed a separate heretical community at Rome ruled by another Theodotus, the Money Changer, and Asclepiodotus. Natalius, who was tortured for his faith during the persecution, was persuaded by Asclepiodotus to become a bishop in their sect in exchange for a monthly stipend of 150 denarii. Natalius then reportedly experienced several visions warning him to abandon these heretics. According to an anonymous work entitled The Little Labyrinth... Natalius was whipped a whole night by an angel; the next day he donned sackcloth and ashes, and weeping bitterly threw himself at the feet of Zephyrinus."

Stray information about religion, picked up not because I was searching for the most depressing religion — see previous post — but because I was wondering what was happening in the world in the year 199 so I could make a joke to amuse someone who'd emailed me privately and made a typo in the process of writing that something had been going on since 1999.

The answer is that Zephyrinus became Pope in 199.

And I'm wondering — because I happen to be a person who audibly struggles with something while I am asleep (so I am told) — what it is like to be whipped a whole night by an angel. And will the whipping stop if I don the modern equivalent of sackcloth and ashes and throw myself at the feet of the modern equivalent of Zephyrinus?

ADDED: Gauguin's "Vision After the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel)":

What's the most depressing religion in the world?

That's a question I had after writing the previous post, which made me think: This is like religion, but it's the most depressing religion in the world — no salvation, no joy....

Isn't it characteristic of religion that there's something rewarding for you, the believer — some uplift in the present or bliss in the afterlife? No, maybe sometimes there's only compulsion for fear of pain and punishment.

I googled my question — What's the most depressing religion in the world? — and here's some of what popped up:

1. "Are religious people more depressed?/A new study finds a high correlation" — by Amanda Marcotte (Salon): "Certainly there’s some reason to believe that if society protects people against some of the worst causes of depression, such as the fear of falling into poverty, that society will have more atheists in it. Stable, egalitarian societies repeatedly prove to be places where the atheist message takes off really well. We know that on a national level, if people feel like they have control over their lives and there’s hope in the here and now, those nations tend to have more atheists. So why wouldn’t that be true on an individual level?"

2. "'Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Associated With Depression/Recent research shows that spirituality predicts depressive symptoms" (Psychology Today): "The risk of depression was over a third greater than for those in whom religious belief was higher than spirituality.... While religion represents deeply rooted belief and practice, usually coming from family and cultural background, spirituality represents a departure from that traditional, familiar support. People seeking spiritual answers may be coming from a position of distress, searching for answers or looking for relief from mental suffering.... Directed spiritual practices which include optimistic and other-oriented approaches, for example those emphasizing gratitude, forgiveness and compassion for self and other, are more useful when it comes to improving overall well-being...."

3. "Religious affiliation and major depressive episode in older adults: a cross-sectional study in six low- and middle- income countries" (BMC Public Health): "We observed no association between having a religious affiliation (vs. no affiliation) and the odds of [major depressive episode] in older adults. In most cases minorities had higher odds of MDE as compared with the majority religion, but the associations were only significant for Muslims in Ghana and for Muslims, Hindus and Other in South Africa."

4. "Hidden Brain: Does Going To Church Improve Your Mental Health?" (NPR): "[I]ncreasing religiosity by one standard deviation - which is going from not going to church at all to attending church once a week - decreases the probability of being at risk for moderate to severe depression by as much as 20%.... And... if religiosity does help your mental health, why is that? Is it being part of a religious community? Is it the rituals? Is it the belief? Can atheists get some of those things outside of religion?"

5. "Afghanistan is the most depressed country on Earth" (BigThink): "As suggested by Afghanistan's abnormally high rate of depression, decades of armed conflict and economic misery can have a devastating effect on the mental health of a population. The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for Libya, Honduras, and Palestine. A bit more puzzling is the strong representation of Middle-Eastern countries that are relatively peaceful and affluent: Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait. With just over 8 percent of its population clinically depressed, the Netherlands is the only European country to make the Top 10."

None of that is much help answering my question, but I'm not surprised there's so little discussion of the topic. It's generally bad etiquette to go beyond saying your religion is a source of joy and onto the topic of why someone else's religion is dark and dreary and only makes life worse. But I'm trying to talk about religion substitutes, notably this "White Fragility" cult practice, which is snowballing in our country and on the verge of becoming a compulsory state religion.

What is the science behind the "white fragility" ideology that people are being pressured to internalize and not question?

I wondered as I began to read the long NYT Magazine article "‘White Fragility’ Is Everywhere. But Does Antiracism Training Work?/Robin DiAngelo’s best seller is giving white Americans a new way to talk about race. Do those conversations actually serve the cause of equality?" by Daniel Bergner.

To leap into the text to find an answer to my question, I searched the page for "science." Look what I found instead of the science underlying the ideology:
Borrowing from feminist scholarship and critical race theory, whiteness studies challenges the very nature of knowledge, asking whether what we define as scientific research and scholarly rigor, and what we venerate as objectivity, can be ways of excluding alternate perspectives and preserving white dominance. DiAngelo likes to ask, paraphrasing the philosopher Lorraine Code: “From whose subjectivity does the ideal of objectivity come?”...
Robin DiAngelo is the author of the book "White Fragility." She's critiquing science — or "what we define as scientific research" — but is she doing science? There's a paradox here. Is her theory about white supremacy white supremacy or is it just completely unscientific?

And there's this:
[Glenn E. Singleton, a Black trainer whose firm, Courageous Conversation, has been giving workshops for over two decades, said that] “a hallmark of whiteness,” which leads to the denigration of Black children in school... is “scientific, linear thinking. Cause and effect.” He said, “There’s this whole group of people who are named the scientists. That’s where you get into this whole idea that if it’s not codified in scientific thought that it can’t be valid.” He spoke about how the ancient Egyptians had “ideas about how humanity works that never had that scientific-hypothesis construction” and so aren’t recognized. “This is a good way of dismissing people. And this,” he continued, shifting forward thousands of years, “is one of the challenges in the diversity-equity-inclusion space; folks keep asking for data. How do you quantify, in a way that is scientific — numbers and that kind of thing — what people feel when they’re feeling marginalized?” For Singleton, society’s primary intellectual values are bound up with this marginalization....
That's what we're dealing with — the radical dumbing down of America.

Now, pay attention to the article, which focuses not on whether the theory of white fragility has scientific support — which was my question — but about whether the cure for the problem — the "training" that is being foisted upon us — has scientific support.

"Because of his incontinent use of it, the rhetorical mustard that the president slathers on every subject has lost its tang."

Writes George Will, slathering his own rhetorical mustard in his new WaPo piece, "The nation is in a downward spiral. Worse is still to come."

Yeesh. That title. It's like a parody of the columns Bari Weiss was referring to when  she wrote about the NYT "publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world."

"The media can keep calling you 'Republicans,' but if you support Democrats, take Democratic Party positions, make voting for Democrats all the way down the ticket a... moral imperative..."

"... and then take most of your money from big Democratic Party donors, you’re a Democrat. That’s fine. You should embrace it. I’m not really a fan of making a big deal over a group’s funding. Your arguments should stand on their own. I don’t care who pays you. But if you advertise your cause as something it’s not, you’re a fraud. And the biggest funders of The Lincoln Project aren’t distraught Republicans but long-time Democratic Party operatives."

From "Who Funds The Lincoln Project? Exactly Whom You Expect" by David Harsanyi (National Review).

"NPR Radio Ratings Collapse As Pandemic Ends Listeners' Commutes."

NPR reports.
NPR's research revealed recommencing commutes would boost back audience the most. Yet a significant minority of public radio listeners said they would tune in more often if NPR shows offered a greater variety of news coverage, beyond the coronavirus, recent protests for social justice and the election....
NPR has been planning for the migration of listeners away from traditional radio for years....
The lack of commuting is just accelerating the decline of news radio. People were already moving away from it. NPR has its website and podcasts to get its share of the audience as radio becomes less important to people. I remember when I didn't have satellite radio in my car. I would have the radio on my local NPR station nearly all the time. If I was in the car, I listened to whatever was on NPR. But it's been 20 years since I did that.

July 15, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... go ahead and write about anything you want.

"The National Museum of African American History & Culture wants to make you aware of certain signs of whiteness: Individualism, hard work, objectivity, the nuclear family, progress..."

ADDED: Titania McGrath comments:
According to the @NMAAHC, white culture is defined by independence, rational thought, hard work, respect for authority and politeness.

To emulate black culture we therefore need to be more subservient, irrational, lazy, disrespectful and rude.

THAT’S how you defeat racism. 👏
AND: There's also this:

"Cleaners did not know graffiti on a London Underground train was by world-renowned artist Banksy when they removed it...."

BBC reports.
The piece, If You Don't Mask, You Don't Get, was painted inside a Circle Line service carriage. But by the time he unveiled the work on his Instagram account, it had been wiped away by Transport for London (TfL) cleaning crews. A TfL source said: "It was treated like any other graffiti on the network." "The job of the cleaners is to make sure the network is clean, especially given the current climate," they said.... Of course there will be those who say it should have been kept or protected as art but that is somewhat academic....
Here's the Instagram post:

View this post on Instagram

. . If you don’t mask - you don’t get.

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

This gets my "rats" tag. In case you have the question "Is it art?," remember that "art" is an anagram for "rat."

John McWhorter says that "White Fragility" is "actually a racist tract" that "diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us. "

I'm reading "The Dehumanizing Condescension of White Fragility/The popular book aims to combat racism but talks down to Black people" (The Atlantic).
[Robin DiAngelo] operates from the now-familiar concern with white privilege.... To atone for this original sin, she is devoted to endlessly exploring, acknowledging, and seeking to undo whites’ “complicity with and investment in” racism. To DiAngelo, any failure to do this “work,” as adherents of this paradigm often put it, renders one racist.... ... White Fragility is the prayer book for what can only be described as a cult.

We must consider what is required to pass muster as a non-fragile white person. Refer to a “bad neighborhood,” and you’re using code for Black; call it a “Black neighborhood,” and you’re a racist; by DiAngelo’s logic, you are not to describe such neighborhoods at all, even in your own head. You must not ask Black people about their experiences and feelings, because it isn’t their responsibility to educate you. Instead, you must consult books and websites. Never mind that upon doing this you will be accused of holding actual Black people at a remove, reading the wrong sources, or drawing the wrong lessons from them. You must never cry in Black people’s presence as you explore racism, not even in sympathy, because then all the attention goes to you instead of Black people. If you object to any of the “feedback” that DiAngelo offers you about your racism, you are engaging in a type of bullying “whose function is to obscure racism, protect white dominance, and regain white equilibrium.”... You will never succeed in the “work” she demands of you. It is lifelong, and you will die a racist just as you will die a sinner....

Is it wrong for President Trump to use the White House Rose Garden to deliver what turned into a campaign speech?

Yesterday's speech was similar to his long, extemporaneous rally speeches — except it didn't have the exuberant energy and humor. I wrote about it in the previous post — reacting to Charlie Sykes's trashing of the event — and at one point I said, "The main objection is that he's in the Rose Garden setting, and he's making the case against his political opponent." After publishing, I had the question I've put in the post title.

There is something called the Rose Garden strategy. From the Political Dictionary:
A Rose Garden campaign is when an incumbent president takes advantage of the power and prestige of his office to help him run for re-election. The phrase originally referred to a president staying on the grounds of the White House to campaign as opposed to traveling throughout the country....

The term “Rose Garden campaign” was first used by then-candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976. At the time, Carter was challenging the incumbent president Gerald Ford. Carter complained that Ford was using a “Rose Garden strategy” to get himself free publicity, staying in the public eye by signing bills and making pronouncements....
That implies doing presidential work in a way that implicitly makes the case for reelection, not using the Rose Garden as a platform for campaign speeches.
On a metaphorical level, a Rose Garden strategy refers to any time the incumbent president distributes political favors or largesse as part of his re-election strategy. This can mean offering economic packages to certain key states....
Obviously, that's a worse problem than choosing your backyard as the location for overtly political speeches!

The Political Dictionary cites a NYT article from May 2019, "Why Trump Can't Get Enough of the Rose Garden":

"The president of the United States, ladies and gentlemen, was in full Mad King mode, rambling, confused, disjointed, parading his grievances..."

"... with barely a wave from afar at coherence. It was as if a hive of buzzwords exploded in his head: statues, boats, vandalism, socialism, suburbs. It is hard to write this display without using the word 'impaired.' Because it wasn’t just the disjointed word salad. It was the delivery. Trump was somnolent, as if he’d pulled an all-nighter watching Fox & Friends or maybe his VCR tapes of Shark Week. Imagine the covfefe tweet come to life. The Rose Garden event was ostensibly about China, but quickly disintegrated into something between one of his improvisational stump performances, a stream of broken consciousness, and a rambling oppo dump. Perhaps the president really misses campaign rallies. Or maybe he just got confused. Someone on his staff gave him a summary of horrible things that he might someday be able to craft into a campaign attack on Joe Biden . . . and so he just stood there and read the whole thing...."

Writes Charles Sykes at The Bulwark. The full video of Trump's press conference is embedded over there. I could embed it here, but instead, I'll link to the transcript — a much faster, easier way to check Sykes's characterizations. It seems to me Trump has a way of speaking, and it's idiosyncratic but enjoyably listenable if you get into its groove but weird and chaotic if you resist. That's nothing new.

Let me pick something out of the transcript for discussion. Well, the first thing he says may explain the somnolence — it was hot (over 90°): "Too hot, but it’s pretty warm." Right off, that's crazy, no? What's with "but"? It's hot, but it's warm! I get a "Walrus and the Carpenter" vibe, you know:
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
That's not word salad. That's genius!

I've got to pick out something else. That was too easy. Here's the part where he transitions from talking about China — the lead-off topic — to Joe Biden. That is, it becomes a campaign speech with a forced-to-be-polite captive audience, broiling in the hot-but-warm sun:

"Why isn't Tuberville on the front page of the NYT?"/"If Tuberville had lost it would have been at the very top."

Overheard at Meadhouse.

I had to do a search to find the article. The headline doesn't mention Trump: "Alabama Votes for Tommy Tuberville, and Democrats Name a Challenger in Maine/A former college football coach defeated Jeff Sessions in a Republican runoff in Alabama, and Sara Gideon will challenge Susan Collins for the Senate in Maine. Key races also took place in Texas." But Trump is mentioned in the subheadline like this:
Trump’s support lifts Tuberville to victory.

Jeff Sessions spent his final days on the campaign trail reiterating his support for President Trump’s agenda, reminding voters of his efforts to curb illegal immigration while attorney general and emphasizing how, as a senator, he had endorsed Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign at a time when few others in Washington would.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough. And in truth, after Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Sessions’s opponent, it probably never was.
If Tuberville had lost, the stinging defeat for Trump would have been trumpeted.

Why did Glenn Loury refuse to sign that "Letter on Justice and Open Debate" published last week in Harper's?

From "The Weekend Interview with Glenn Loury: A Challenger of the Woke 'Company Policy'" (Wall Street Journal):
Mr. Loury says he "politely declined" an invitation to sign "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" published by Harper's on Tuesday. Endorsed by some 150 liberal academics and writers, it denounces President Trump as "a real threat to democracy" before criticizing leftist repression.

"I declined for two reasons," Mr. Loury says. "First, I'm not 'on the left' and felt no need to signal solidarity with the left before criticizing cancel culture. And second, I don't view Trump as the greatest threat to democracy in this country." The truth, he adds, is "quite the opposite. It has been the refusal of the left to accept the democratic outcome of 2016 which precipitated the intolerance about which [the signatories] were complaining. So I did not sign."

"A number of young journalists have been arguing lately that the traditional mission of journalism needs to be cashiered in favor of 'moral clarity,' that journalism should be more like activism."

"What we have in this story is an example of where that leads us. The 'moral clarity' was all there. It told a literal 'cautionary moral tale.' But, the reporting and editing have lacked all the traditional ethics of the trade of journalism. The result looks to me like fake news and a disgraceful attempt at memory-holing the evidence."

From "Did the Times Print an Urban Legend?" (National Review).

When I first saw the story...
A 30-year-old man who believed the coronavirus was a hoax and attended a “Covid party” died after being infected with the virus, according to the chief medical officer at a Texas hospital.

The official, Dr. Jane Appleby of Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, said the man died after deliberately attending a gathering with an infected person to test whether the coronavirus was real.

In her statements to news organizations, Dr. Appleby said the man had told his nurse that he attended a Covid party. Just before he died, she said the patient told his nurse: “I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”
... it wasn't in the NYT, it was being passed around on Facebook, and I chose not to blog it because I didn't think it had the indicia of credibility. But then it appeared in the NYT, so I read it again, and  the reasons to be skeptical remained. (The indented quote above is the NYT version.) Who was the guy? Are we just accepting one doctor repeating what a nurse supposedly said, impugning a young person who just died? And why would this guy attend a "Covid party"? It sounds like a fictional tale designed to tell people to heed the warnings and be careful.

As the National Review piece points out, the NYT rewrote its story at least twice. It added:
The Times could not independently verify Dr. Appleby’s account. On Monday, the San Antonio health department said its contact tracers did not have any information “that would confirm (or deny)” that such an event had happened there.
Did the Times try to verify the story only after it printed it?  It's one of these too-good-not-to-share things and the Times didn't want to miss out?!

They need to check first and deem it not fit to print if it can't be verified. Otherwise the Times is just aping social media, and this kind of clickbait is what makes Facebook almost intolerable. I knew right away when I saw it on Facebook that it was fishy. How did it get through the NYT filter? The hypothesis has to be that it's not a journalism filter anymore but a sleazy combination of what works to tell the story we want to tell and what will get readers to click.

Ironically, readers are invited to think of themselves as superior to this Southern man who believed the virus was a hoax, but the material used to give them that feeling of superiority may itself be a hoax. You know, it's more ignorant to rush to believe things that may not be true than it is to be skeptical of things that may be true. The latter is critical thinking. The former is credulousness.

July 14, 2020






Actual sunrise time was 5:31.

Write about whatever you want in the comments.

And please remember to support this blog by using the Althouse Portal when you need to shop at Amazon.

"Bloated with eggs and ready to reproduce, the brown, cockroach-sized queens are prized for their rotund, pea-shaped bottoms, which can taste like peanuts, popcorn..."

"... or even crispy bacon when roasted and salted. 'For me, the flavour is unique,' said Higuera, while plucking the papery wings off ants that filled a small pot on her kitchen table. 'It reminds me of my past. I remember one time when my grandfather bought a barrel full of them and you could hear them all crawling inside. The whole family sat around it preparing them one by one.'... Wearing ankle-high rubber boots and long sleeves for protection, collectors must work quickly because the soldier ants of the colony, who are tasked with protecting the queens from predators, can inflict painful bites that draw blood. Villagers scattered in the fields deposit the mouth-watering queens into anything at hand – bags, jugs, pots, sacks – working frantically through the daylight hours.... 'That’s the reason why us baricharas (locals) usually live long, healthy lives,' said Cecilia González-Quintero, a shopkeeper who has been preserving and selling the ants in glass jars for 20 years. 'The ants give us a special strength – [especially] the ones with the juicy culonas (big butts).'"

From "Could eating ants help us live longer?/Crunchy and curvy, these ample-bottomed queen ants are as prized in Colombia as caviar. But to find them, you’ll have to make it past thousands of soldier ants" (BBC).

"In a nearly 1,500-word letter addressed to A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher, Ms. Weiss offered a deep critique of Times employees and company leadership..."

"... describing a 'hostile work environment' where co-workers had insulted her or called for her removal on Twitter and in the interoffice communications app Slack. 'I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public,' she wrote. Mr. Sulzberger declined to comment.... Ms. Weiss, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has been known to question aspects of social justice movements that have taken root in recent years. She was critical of a woman who described an uncomfortable encounter with the comedian Aziz Ansari and questioned whether the sexual assault charges leveled against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh should disqualify him from the post....  Ms. Weiss recently came under fire for online comments on the staff unrest that followed the publication of a Times Op-Ed piece by Senator Tom Cotton calling for a military response to civic unrest in American cities during the widespread protests against racism and police violence.... In her resignation letter, which was posted on her personal website Tuesday, Ms. Weiss said 'intellectual curiosity' was 'now a liability at The Times.' She added: 'Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor.'"

From "Bari Weiss Resigns From New York Times Opinion Post/In a letter posted online Tuesday, she cites 'bullying by colleagues' and an 'illiberal environment'" (NYT).

From Weiss's letter:
Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.
Strangely, Andrew Sullivan announced his withdrawal from New York Magazine today too, though we don't have a long explanation from him yet, just a few tweets. Are the two of them — Weiss and Sullivan — working on some new project together?

"So honesty is outlawed here? I can't be honest? That was our deal when we first got together — brutal truth — remember?"

What a scene! Kelly Preston, RIP.

"David 'Lee' Roth changes name!"

Via "David Lee Roth Is Letting His Art (Mostly) Do the Talking/Since the Covid-19 pandemic forced him off the road, the singer has been making comics at his Los Angeles home, and calling it performance therapy" (NYT).
“Humor — not jokes — humor, the best stuff, isn’t funny at all,” Roth said, defending his work. “My version is the truth dipped in sugar. And maybe it’s a little sugar and spice. But the good stuff compels discussions.” Art, he continued, “has been a constant in my life. My hand has always been in wardrobe, background sets, stage sets, album covers, video direction. This is part of it. And there’s craft involved, so there’s a little bit more heft to some of the statements.” Roth laughed. “This is the adult table; as a fellow artist, I sense you understand that.”

Bob Dylan was really pissed off at Elvis.

Because Elvis didn't record Bob Dylan songs, and Bob specifically wanted Elvis to record "Forever Young." Before he recorded that song himself, Bob sent it to Elvis and... nothing.

I learned that from listening to Rob Stoner (who was the Rolling Thunder Revue bass player and bandleader) on the "Is It Rolling, Bob?" podcast, here.

I'm thinking about that story this morning, because Elvis's grandson killed himself.
Ben [Keough] has kept a low profile throughout the years, but the one thing he's well-known for is looking almost identical to his famous grandfather, The King himself. Lisa addressed the similarity, saying ... "Ben does look so much like Elvis. He was at the Opry and was the quiet storm behind the stage.... Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo because it is just uncanny."
Ben was 27. Elvis was 42 when he died in 1977. If Elvis had taken the prompt from Bob Dylan and recorded "Forever Young" when it was offered to him, that would have happened in 1973.
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Why didn't Elvis want to sing that? If he had sung it, and we'd all heard it from Elvis first, Elvis and not Dylan, the world would have been entirely different all these years, I imagine. Elvis would not have died when he did. We would not be reading of the grandson's death today.

Elvis only recorded one Bob Dylan song, and he didn't get it straight from Dylan. He heard it from Odetta...

"The Fox News star Tucker Carlson said on Monday evening that he would leave on a vacation, starting immediately, days after a writer on his program, Blake Neff, resigned over racist, sexist and misogynist messages..."

"... that Mr. Neff published pseudonymously on an online message board. Mr. Carlson told viewers that he would return to his show next week and described the vacation as 'long planned,' suggesting that his time off had been set before Mr. Neff was revealed on Friday as the author of the offensive posts.... Mr. Neff... resigned last week after Fox News learned of his activity on AutoAdmit, an online forum popular with law students. There, Mr. Neff had written messages that denigrated African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women.... 'What Blake wrote anonymously was wrong,' [Carlson] told viewers. 'We don’t endorse those words. They have no connection to the show. It is wrong to attack people for qualities they cannot control.'... Mr. Carlson, who has used his platform to denounce a so-called cancel culture that he says stymies free speech, appended a somewhat defiant note. He said that Mr. Neff 'has paid a very heavy price' for his behavior, 'but we should also point out to the ghouls now beating their chests in triumph at the destruction of a young man, that self-righteousness also has its costs... We are all human.... When we pretend we are holy, we are lying. When we pose as blameless in order to hurt other people, we are committing the gravest sin of all, and we will be punished for it, there’s no question."

From "Tucker Carlson to Take ‘Long-Planned’ Vacation After Writer’s Resignation/On his Monday evening show, the Fox News host said racist and sexist posts by one of his writers, Blake Neff, were 'wrong,' while castigating his detractors as 'ghouls'" (NYT).

I hope this "ghouls" terminology catches on. It was only 3 days ago that I myself said: "I've been seeing this Steven Pinker story out of the corner of my eye for a while. I don't even know what the cancel ghouls even say that he did wrong. I just assume they're crying wolf."

IN THE COMMENTS: Wince links to the fascination with the word "ghoul" in "Gangs of New York":

"The Supreme Court cleared the way for the Justice Department to carry out the first federal execution in more than 17 years..."

"[A] federal judge had delayed the execution hours earlier, saying on Monday that questions about the constitutionality of the lethal injection procedure the government planned to use had not been fully litigated.... The Supreme Court delivered an unsigned 5-to-4 ruling, with Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting. They were joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, the other members of the court’s four-member liberal wing.... [Daniel Lewis] Lee, 47, a former white supremacist who has denounced his ties to that movement, was set to be executed for his part in the 1996 killing of a family of three. The Trump administration announced its intention last summer to resume the federal death penalty after a nearly two-decade hiatus and to employ a new procedure to carry it out — a single widely available drug, pentobarbital — after several botched executions by lethal injection renewed scrutiny of capital punishment. But the government has been fighting off legal challenges to the single-drug technique.... In her ruling on Monday, Judge [Tanya S.] Chutkan wrote that lethal injection by pentobarbital could expose the inmates to the risk of flash pulmonary edema, or the rapid buildup of fluid in the lungs that resembles the feeling of drowning or asphyxiation...."

The NYT reports.

Here's a PDF of the Supreme Court opinion. From the majority opinion:

"When I was in prison, I thought the outside world is heaven and those who are released, they’re on their way to heaven."

Released from prison: "I thought everyone was staring at me. Pointing their fingers toward me while whispering, as if they knew I was a prisoner, but of course it was all in my head."

From "She Went to Prison for Killing Her Husband. The Pandemic Set Her Free/Foroozan was one of nearly 20 women held in an Afghan women’s prison for murdering her spouse after years of abuse. 'Thanks to coronavirus, I am given a second chance to live'" (NYT).

"10 Theses About Cancel Culture/What we talk about when we talk about 'cancellation.'"

Well, you definitely got me with that title, Ross Douthat. Not only do you have the variation on the old Raymond Carver title — "What We Talk About When We Talk About [Blank]" (Carver's topic was "love," Murakami's was "running," etc.), you have the variation on "[Number] Theses" (Martin Luther's number was 95, and his theses were a "Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences").

Douthat notes a current disputation about the meaning of "cancel culture" and whether it exists at all and announces he'll make "10 sweeping claims" about it:
1. Cancellation, properly understood, refers to an attack on someone’s employment and reputation by a determined collective of critics, based on an opinion or an action that is alleged to be disgraceful and disqualifying....
The idea here is to narrow what counts as "cancellation." You need a "collective of critics" and it must be "determined." And their attitude must be that they find their target "disgraceful."
2. All cultures cancel; the question is for what, how widely and through what means....
The idea here is to broaden what counts as "cancellation." It's not something special that the left is doing. Conservatives do it too, Douthat says, they just do it for different "sins."
3. Cancellation isn’t exactly about free speech, but a liberal society should theoretically cancel less frequently than its rivals. The canceled individual hasn’t lost any First Amendment rights....
Freedom of speech is about much much more than what the First Amendment protects. It's important to fight for the freedom of speech that you can't enforce in courts. We need a culture of free speech, and the cancel culture threatens it. Which side are you on in this fight? I need some stronger commitment than the theory that we should "cancel less frequently" than societies that aren't free at all!
4. The internet has changed the way we cancel, and extended cancellation’s reach....

5. The internet has also made it harder to figure out whether speech is getting freer or less free....
We're sorely challenged to understand — in sped-up real time — what the hell is happening to us.

Sunrise, 5:32.


Actual sunrise time, 5:31.

Photo by Meade.

"From 1973 to 1997 she largely left music behind, working as a librarian, starting a cassette-tape duplication company with her husband and raising children."

Caption on this undated photograph...

... in "Judy Dyble, Singer in Fairport Convention and Beyond, Dies at 71/Her crystalline soprano drew on folk tradition, but she also embraced psychedelia and progressive rock" (NYT)(photo by Sophocles Alexiou).

July 13, 2020

At the Monday Night Café,,,


... you can write about whatever you want.