January 23, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"The President of the United States is impeachable at any time during his continuance in office."

Wrote James Madison in The Federalist Papers, Number 39.

Will Wilkinson, cancelled for tweeting, "If Biden really wanted unity, he'd lynch Mike Pence."

If cancelling is something that is going to be done, why should Will Wilkinson be an exception? It's got to be that the attempted cancellation of Will Wilkinson reverses the course of cancel culture. 

I'm reading "Cancel Culture Comes for Will Wilkinson/The Niskanen Center fired a senior staffer for tweeting an offensive joke about Mike Pence, and hypocrisies abound" by Robby Soave (at Reason). 
Wilkinson apologized, describing his tweet as a lapse in judgment. "It was sharp sarcasm, but looked like a call for violence," said Wilkinson. "That's always wrong, even as a joke." ...
And thus a noted doubter [that cancel culture exists] has been canceled for a problematic tweet—ironic, but also regrettable, in my view. 
Both the Niskanen Center and The New York Times are private organizations and free to associate with whomever they wish, of course; a think tank that intends to influence public policy by lobbying legislators may find it inconvenient to employ someone who threatened violence against Mike Pence, even in jest.... 

By the way, I once did a Bloggingheads episode with Will Wilkinson, but I don't remember it, and now the video won't play. Here's the audio. It was July 2010, and the topics included: "Re: Shirley Sherrod, Ann defends taking things out of context" — remember Shirley Sherrod? — "Do we deserve to know what was on Journolist?," "Are ordinary people becoming savvier media consumers?," and "Ann’s and Will’s tips for summer road trips."  The road trips bit begins around the 1-hour mark.

"A son of European immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn and never went to college, Mr. King began as a local radio interviewer and sportscaster in Florida in the 1950s and ’60s, rose to prominence..."

"... with an all-night coast-to-coast radio call-in show starting in 1978, and from 1985 to 2010 anchored CNN’s highest-rated, longest-running program, reaching millions across America and around the world. With the folksy personality of a Bensonhurst schmoozer, Mr. King interviewed an estimated 50,000 people of every imaginable persuasion and claim to fame — every president since Richard M. Nixon, world leaders, royalty, religious and business figures, crime and disaster victims, pundits, swindlers, 'experts' on U.F.O.s and paranormal phenomena, and untold hosts of idiosyncratic and insomniac telephone callers.... His personal life was the stuff of supermarket tabloids — married eight times to seven women; a chronic gambler who declared bankruptcy twice; arrested on a fraud charge that derailed his career for years; and a bundle of contradictions who never quite got over his own success but gushed, star-struck, over other celebrities, exclaiming, 'Great!' 'Terrific!' 'Gee whiz!' He made no claim to being a journalist... he rarely asked anyone, let alone a politician or policy maker, a tough or technical question, preferring gentle prods to get guests to say interesting things about themselves. To former President Nixon: 'When you drive by the Watergate, do you feel weird?' To former President Ronald Reagan: 'Is it, for you, frustrating to not remember something?' To Donald J. Trump, when he was still best known as a real estate mogul: 'Does it have to be buildings?' He bragged that he almost never prepared for an interview. If his guest was an author promoting a book, he did not read it but asked simply, 'What’s it about?' or 'Why did you write this?'"

Skaters on Lake Mendota at sunrise. Temperature 8°.

I wasn't skating. Just running. Was it terribly cold? Really — no. It's crisp and lovely. There's so much difference between running and walking. 

"We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us. But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability."

Said Chuck Schumer, quoted in "Schumer agrees to two-week delay of Trump’s impeachment trial/The ex-president's second trial is now set to begin the week of Feb. 8" (Politico). 

Is there truth in those sentences? 

"We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us." 

Who is "we"? The Senators or the people? I don't think he'd say "All we Senators want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us." That would be enraging. More than 74 million people voted for Trump, and the point of the impeachment, now that he is out of office, is to disqualify him from running for office again — to deprive the people of the option of ever voting for him. It's flatly wrong to assert that we all want Trump powerfully and absolutely excluded from electoral politics.

But what is "this awful chapter" that we are told we all want "to put... behind us"? The past is always behind us (assuming you use the conventional metaphor that time is a walk and we're facing forward), but there's some fuzzy idea of doing something to the past that makes it more behind us — resolved somehow or less accessible. But if the point of the trial is to bar Trump from running for office, Schumer is talking about manipulating the future, not alienating us from the past. 

What is the "awful chapter"? Is it the January 6th attack on the Capitol or is it the entire Trump presidency? We all deplore Trump and want to sever him from our understanding of ourselves? But obviously we don't all want that. Biden enters the presidency with a poll — from Rasmussen — that has the exact same percentages of approval and disapproval that Trump had on his last day — 48% approve, 45% disapprove. 

Of course, Schumer is explaining waiting until February 8th. The next sentence is: 

"But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability." 

The implication is that by spending 2 weeks prepping for trial — after the House voted without taking any time at all — we'll get a proceeding that will deliver "truth and accountability." Another way to read that sentence is that there will never be healing and unity, because it will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that's not going to happen. Who believes the 2 weeks will be used to ensure that the trial is centered on the truth? 

And isn't the delay designed to give President Biden a little time to establish himself in the presidential role, to bask in the positive light the media are shining on him, before the harsh spotlight returns to Trump and it's all about "this awful chapter"?

January 22, 2021

Contempt fail: "Wasn't just a Trump thing."

"Mitch said to me he wants Trump gone. It is in his political interest to have him gone. It is in the GOP interest to have him gone. The question is, do we get there?"

Said "one Republican member of Congress," quoted in "McConnell privately says he wants Trump gone as Republicans quietly lobby him to convict" (CNN). 
The ongoing Republican whisper campaign, according to more than a dozen sources who spoke to CNN, is based on a shared belief that a successful conviction is critical for the future of the Republican party. Multiple sources describe this moment as a reckoning for the party.... 

"Trump created a cult of personality that is hard to dismantle," said a former senior Republican official. "Conviction could do that."

It could. But it could also do something else. I'm trying to picture what Trump's defense will look like and how people will react to it. "Mitch said to me he wants Trump gone," but Trump is already gone. How "gone" do you need to render him? A big show of crushing someone beyond any real need can make onlookers side with him.


1. Is "a successful conviction... critical for the future of the Republican party"? If the answer isn't "yes," then why would there be a "shared belief that a successful conviction is critical for the future of the Republican party"? Are you dubious that this "shared belief" exists?

2. How many of these "dozen sources" are Republicans? How many are members of Congress? At least one — unless CNN is wrong — is a "Republican member of Congress," but I'll bet he's not a Senator, or CNN would have said so. It seems likely that not one of the sources is a Republican Senator.

3. A successful conviction might be "critical for the future of the Republican party," but is an unsuccessful effort to seek a conviction more useful to the Republican party than avoiding the trial on a procedural ground?

4. What do you mean by "Republican party"? These people who are saying "a successful conviction is critical for the future of the Republican party" — if they exist — aren't they elite insiders talking about preserving their hold on a party that chose Trump rather than one of them? How will the trial reach out to Trump supporters as opposed to alienating them?

"As of 1:15 p.m. on January 22, The Washington Post has updated its website and URLs to restore the original version of the Kamala Harris profile detailed in Reason's post, below."

"'We should have kept both versions of the story on the Post's site (the original and updated one), rather than redirecting to the updated version,' Kris Coratti, the Post's vice president for communications, told Reason in a statement on Friday. 'We have now done that, and you will see the link to the original at the top of the updated version.' Rason has updated the headline of this story to reflect those changes. The rest of the story remains unaltered."

Do the math.

Subheadline in the NYT: "Each additional daily cup of coffee was associated with a 1 percent decrease in the risk of prostate cancer." 

Top-rated comment: "Based on the NYT's excellent reporting, I will immediately begin drinking 100 cups per day and reduce my prostate cancer risk to 0%. What could go wrong?" 

The subheadline is ridiculous for reasons expressed in the comment, but the commenter is doing the math wrong. After each additional cup of coffee — in the mad logic of the subheadline — you have 99% of what you had before. Drink a million cups of coffee, and you still won't get to zero, just 99% of what you had before that last cup.

It's the Zeno's paradox of prostate cancer.

"CNN glowed almost as brightly about the event as a state media would have.... Biden’s perfectly fine if pedestrian speech earned instant accolades..."

"... from Wolf Blitzer, who jibbered that Biden had put 'his soul into his first address.'...  MSNBC worked from the same script, going gaga for not just Lady Gaga but the whole schmear. At day’s end, Rachel Maddow confessed to having worked her way through an entire box of Kleenex during the festivities and Joy Reid gushed like a partisan about the event.... The Washington Post got with the program, giving Biden credit for not waiting 'long to begin staffing up his administration, swearing in top White House aides,' as if previous incoming presidents had dilly-dallied about taking the reins. The New York Times swallowed whole the recent myth-making that has transformed Biden from a shifty politician into a statesman, conveying his call for civility and unity and portraying him as a disciplined, restrained character when anybody who has studied his career knows he’s anything but.... [B]y going overboard for Biden, the press was guilty of 1) hyping Joe; 2) inflating expectations to a volume he can’t possibly fulfill and 3) giving viewers and readers a reason to suspect if not distrust the gleaming Biden coverage. In an era when large portions of Americans think mainstream media is a tool of the left, a tad less bootlicking could help build trust among media skeptics.... [M]aybe we could embed a house cynic on each network and newspaper to police or at least tamp down the irrational exuberance that rains down on most inaugurations."

Notice that he's only arguing about how to do propaganda well. If it worked in the stupidly gaga form we saw on Inauguration Day, he'd be okay with it.

"Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.... typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as beliefs, propositions, and declarative sentences...."

"Most human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life.... Most commonly, truth is viewed as the correspondence of language or thought to a mind-independent world."

From "Truth," a Wikipedia article I stumbled upon, via "The McNamara Fallacy," as I was writing the last post, which ended with my saying I needed to start this new post, because "Truth" converged with something I've been planning to write about.

Now, here's the thing I'd been meaning to write about: "Joe Biden’s Love Letter to the Truth" by Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker. That's about the inauguration address. It so absurd to say "the Truth" while gushing. 

And "Love Letter"? I believe that politicians position themselves somewhere in relationship to the truth, but not that they do it out of love. But then, not all love letters are sincere. Nor are all New Yorker columns, is it even true that Biden's speech professed love for the truth?
Biden spoke of unity, of national reconciliation, and also—and perhaps most important of all—of the need for leaders “to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”... 
[I]t was his love letter to the role of truth in a free society that rang loudest to me during his twenty-minute speech, which took place under a sunny Washington sky....

Ha ha. That reminds me of the lesson in spotting propaganda that I received in my high school class — a class where we were required to subscribe to and read The New York Times. The object of study was a news report on Nixon's inauguration. There was a description of the "gloomy drizzle" of the day....

... and here's how the NYT covered the weather on John F. Kennedy's inaugural day, which the teacher must have reported on from memory:

Isn't that hilarious?! I never forgot that lesson, the seed, perhaps, of 80% of my blogging. 

Must I go back to Susan Glasser, or can I simply end with that light-hearted lesson, which I will now place in the #1 position on my ranking of Things I Learned in School?

I'll just quote Glasser's last line:

Never have the old patriotic clichés about America sounded so good. May their words matter and their aspirations turn into reality. Is this what optimism feels like?

But old patriotic clichés, aspirations, and optimism are not truth — "the property of being in accord with fact or reality." Glasser loathes Trump, but Trump was full of old patriotic clichés, aspirations, and optimism are not truth. They just sounded bad to her when they came from Trump. It sounds good coming from Biden because she's rid of Trump and is in the mood to feel optimistic. 

The snow glistens for the President of your heart.

"Fixating on the R number isn’t real science/The pandemic response should be based on judgment, not a figure that’s only an educated guess."

Writes Ed Conway at The London Times. 
Science is a discipline predicated on constant doubt and reassessment and contemplating the evidence through alternate prisms...Taking a number, stripping it of context and uncertainty and using it to justify policy is something else altogether. 
The economist Friedrich Hayek had a word for it, “scientism”, a kind of bastardisation of science which amounted to “the pretence of knowledge”. He was writing in the mid-20th century about socialist governments attempting to engineer economic planning by assuming complex society could be distilled into a few key metrics, but since then scientism has only grown. 
It came of age with Robert McNamara, US secretary of defence under Kennedy, whose data obsession meant the White House paid far more attention to the body count in Vietnam than more subjective questions like: have we any chance of winning this war? But, as the American historian Jerry Muller wrote in The Tyranny of Metrics, McNamara was only bringing to the Oval Office what had long been the mantra at business schools and management consultancies: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”...

Wikipedia has an article, "The McNamara Fallacy." It features this quote from Daniel Yankelovich, "Corporate Priorities: A continuing study of the new demands on business" (1972):

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can't be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can't be easily measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide. 

That article has a great "See also" list: Allegory of the cave. Goodhart's law, Newton's flaming laser sword, Occam's razor, Streetlight effect, Truth, Verificationism, Verisimilitude. I can't read — or even link — all of that right now, but I am interested in Newton's Flaming Laser Sword:

In its weakest form it says that we should not dispute propositions unless they can be shown by precise logic and/or mathematics to have observable consequences. In its strongest form it demands a list of observable consequences and a formal demonstration that they are indeed consequences of the proposition claimed.
And who even thought about looking up "Truth" in Wikipedia? But that's a subject for a separate post, because it charmingly converges with something else I've been planning to blog about.

Ella Emhoff, the style icon.

I totally approve. The best of the inauguration (Daily Mail).

So grimly fun and playfully in-your-face. I feel resonance with the old hippie movement.

Emhoff is a design student at Parsons so it must be presumed that this is all quite intentional, not just something she geekily stumbled into. Ah, yes:

Speaking to Vogue, Ella, who is in her final year at the Parsons School of Design in New York, explained how she had the bespoke look made. 'My mood board was very “little girl,” in a sense, a lot of scalloped collars and big silhouette shoulders and small buttons. 'I was going for something girlier, to embrace my feminine side — especially after that suit that I felt so great in — because, like, how many times do you prepare yourself to attend an inauguration? This momentous of an event deserves a momentous outfit,' she said.

She's studying textiles, specifically knitwear, and wants to have her own knitwear business. Great! I wish her big success.

Here's her Instagram page, for lots more pictures. 

The Bidenification of the Oval Office.


And now I have the answer to the question we had when we watched him sign those executive orders on Day 1: Who's that a bust of in the most prominent place right behind the desk, looming amongst the family photographs?

January 21, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader. We can get shit done around here and we ought to be focused on getting stuff done. If we don’t, the inmates are going to be running this ship."

Said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), quoted in "Democrats rebuff McConnell’s filibuster demands/'Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader'" (Politico)("McConnell has publicly and privately pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to work to keep the 60-vote threshold on most legislation as part of their power-sharing agreement. Democrats have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they're about to govern"). 

As for "the inmates are going to be running this ship" — the stock phrase is The inmates are running the asylum (or The lunatics are running the asylum). I don't know where Tester got a ship. The ship of state? What's he trying to say, anyway? That you don't want the Senators running the Senate?

A great story on the subject of lunatics running the asylum is Edgar Allan Poe, "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether."

As for "get shit done" — well, it's funny to hear that from a fusty old Senator. I'm trying to figure out if "get shit done" is routine in the workplace these days. I can see that there are books on productivity with that in the title and motivational posters and mugs, but it didn't sound right to me. 

I looked up Tester's life story: "Before his election to the Senate, Tester had never lived more than two hours away from his north-central Montana farm.... [H]e butchers and brings his own meat with him to Washington. He said 'Taking meat with us is just something that we do... We like our own meat.'" 

Close to the farm, brings his own meat — I give him a total pass on "get shit done."

At the Moby Dick Café...


... you can pursue your dreams.

"For weeks, QAnon followers had been promoting 20 January as a day of reckoning, when prominent Democrats and other elite 'Satanic paedophiles' would be arrested and executed..."

"... on the orders of President Trump. But, as Mr Biden took his oath and no arrests were made, some in the QAnon community had an uncomfortable meeting with reality.... 'This is a very difficult day for all of us,' said one influencer whose Twitter account with 200,000 followers was recently suspended. 'Today's inauguration makes no sense to the Christian patriots and we thought "the plan" was the way we would take this country back.'... Some said they were waiting for 'Q,' who has been largely silent since election day, to post as they had so many unanswered questions. And some expressed hope that Mr Trump would communicate directly with them soon. However, a considerable chunk of the community remains steadfast in their belief, urging one another to remain patient and keep the faith." — From "Biden inauguration leaves QAnon believers in disarray" (BBC).

From "The QAnon 'Storm' Never Struck. Some Supporters Are Wavering, Others Steadfast" (NPR): "[E]ven late on Wednesday morning, QAnon groups were still hopeful that the mass arrests would materialize. But after noon, 'the mood changed quickly'... with supporters saying they felt fooled by Trump and felt sick. Feeling fooled may not lead to a return to normalcy.... [D]isappointed Q followers could be prime targets for radicalization by other extremist groups, like neo-Nazis.... A multitude of Q predictions has failed to materialize, and that has never stopped the conspiracies from spreading. Like apocalyptic cults that persist despite a noteworthy lack of apocalypse, QAnon may survive...." 

From "Inauguration sows doubt among QAnon conspiracy theorists" (AP): "'We gave it our all... Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.'... Other followers continued to hunt for clues that QAnon prophecies would be fulfilled, with several social media posts noting that Trump’s speech Wednesday was delivered in front of 17 American flags — a significant number to QAnon conspiracy theorists because 'Q' is the 17th letter of the alphabet. 'I believe the game is still being played this is not over!' one QAnon user wrote to his 26,000 Telegram followers moments after Biden took office."

"Orwell never equated technology with progress. On the contrary, he wrote during the war, 'every scientific advance speeds up the trend towards nationalism and dictatorship.'"

"It was in a review of [H.G.] Wells’s scenario for Things to Come that he mocked what he called the author’s false antithesis between the benign scientist and the bellicose reactionary. 'It never occurred to Mr. Wells that his categories might have got mixed, that it might be the reactionary who would make the fullest use of the machine and that the scientist might use his brains chiefly on race-theory and poison gas.' That wasn’t fair at all. The creator of the Invisible Man and Doctor Moreau was no stranger to perverted science."

From "The Ministry of Truth" by Dorian Lynskey.

I was listening to that audiobook on my sunrise run today, and that paragraph jumped out at me.


"If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly-veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book, calling us people who don't tell the truth."

Said Rand Paul on Fox News last night, quoted in "Power Up: Unity in Washington will be harder than Biden makes it sound" (WaPo)("Some Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) even trashed Biden's speech itself, which was widely-lauded for its appeals for Americans to set aside their political differences and work together for a better country"). 

If I had a little more time at the moment, I'd go through the speech line by line and look for every phrase that can be interpreted as saying that Rand Paul and whoever he thinks of as "us" are white supremacists, racists, liars, or whatever other names might be in that book. 

ADDED: Here's Rand Paul's Fox News segment with the "thinly-veiled innuendo" charge:


Paul cites a particular line in the speech: "And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured." According to Paul, the "gist" of what Biden was saying there is that his political opponents manufacture and manipulate the truth.

AND: Without yet going through the comments to see your suggestions, I have read the speech to look for what can be characterized as the "thinly-veiled innuendo" Paul was talking about. Here's what I found:

"We must strongly eradicate the ‘puppet words’ and ‘puppet style’ in our society."

Said Kim Jong-un, quoted in "Kim Jong-un outlaws slang from South Korea" (The London Times).
North Korean propaganda refers to South Korea as a puppet of the United States. Despite strict censorship and propaganda North Koreans have been increasingly exposed to South Korean culture in the past decade. People can watch foreign content on mobile phones, and smugglers and activists bring in films, dramas and news programmes in memory cards.

Kim expressed special concern about the words “oppa” and “dong-saeng,” which, the Times tells us "mean older brother and younger sister but which are used of friends, or flirtatiously."

Maybe the reason these Bernie memes are so big is that a lot of us feel like that now.

If you're asking What Bernie memes? then go here (The Verge), where you can see the original picture  — Bernie Sanders, scrunched up and bundled up, sitting in a folding chair, with no one around him, waiting for the inauguration ceremony to get going — and you can also see lots of photoshops putting this Bernie image in various amusing settings. 

If you're asking Feel like what now?, you have reached the topic I want to talk about.

January 20, 2021

I feel distant from the Washington, D.C. doings.

I'm not watching the TV, not thinking about the inauguration. I'm uninterested in hearing analysis of the speeches, the poetry, the song-belting, the executive orders, the race-and-sex firsts. Bored by social media posts about how happy this or that person I follow happens to be about all those things. I want my distance. Trump got my attention — more than he deserved. There's no reason to pay so much attention to Biden. I know he needs monitoring, but that doesn't make it my job.

Talk about anything you want in the comments.

ADDED: The main reason I am averting my eyes is that I don't want exposure to all the favorable, flattering media. The media were so awful to Trump, whatever he did. The sudden shift to bathing Biden in sunlight just feels so wrong to me. It seems sappy and patronizing. But I hope Biden does well, and I'll be giving him a chance. Just don't expect me to blog the details. As ever, I will blog what interests me, and I'll be looking for things that feel fresh and different.

AND: I'll quote this NYT headline because — after what I just wrote — it feels like humor (unintended humor): "For Many Across America, a Sigh of Relief as a New Era Begins/'I feel lighter,' said a woman in Chicago. For many in an exhausted, divided nation, the inauguration was a sea change, not just a transition." I don't know about the "many," but for me, there is no sighing, I'm not exhausted, and I feel exactly the same weight. 

"Sea change" — is it a sea change? The phrase is Shakespeare's — from a description of a dead man, lost at sea:
Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes; 
Nothing of him that doth fade, 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell.

The inauguration was a sea change? 

President Biden.

 “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire.”

"Remember in the Lion King when Scar cheated to win the title as king? And the pride land was overrun with the hyenas? And all of the lions lost everything they had built and maintained? Just asking. No reason."

Tweeted Donald Trump Jr., quoted in "Ivanka praises her own work in farewell message as bitter Don Jr compares Biden to The Lion King’s Uncle Scar/Members of the Trump family signed off after four tumultuous years in the White House" (The Independent).

Don't compare human beings to animals. Don't say "pride land was overrun with the hyenas"! Your father was called a racist for his statements and policies on immigration, and "pride" resonates with white pride and Proud Boys. Why would you do that? Sheer stupidity?

By the way, "The Lion King" is racist on its own. I've said that all along (having taken children to the original Disney cartoon and then to the Broadway show), but here's a 2019 article in Fast Company, "The original ‘Lion King’ had a racist hyena problem"

"The critic Kenneth Tynan divided playwrights into two categories, 'smooth' and 'hairy,' and one could probably make a similar distinction among biographers."

"Smooth biographers offer clean narrative lines, well-underscored themes, and carrots, in the form of cliffhangers, to lure the reader onward. Their books are on best-seller lists. They’re good gifts for Dad. William Feaver, the author of 'The Lives of Lucian Freud'... exists on the opposite extreme. There’s little smoothness in him at all. His biography is hairier than a bonobo.... Lucian and his furious id would have made an interesting case study for his grandfather. The artist was amoral: violent, selfish, vindictive, lecherous.... He had at least 14 offspring he acknowledged as his own. He called himself 'one of the great absentee fathers of the age.' Soon there are grandchildren as well. Freud did not do much hugging, but his progeny could tap him for money. Many got to know him by sitting for portraits. He painted his daughters naked. 'They make it all right for me to paint them,' he said. 'My naked daughters have nothing to be ashamed of.' Freud had a mean word for everyone.... If he didn’t like you, he cut you from his life like cancer. You can always tell a monster: He wears scarves indoors."

The biography is a 2-volume thing, and Volume 2 just came out. In posing this question about whether you could just start with Volume 2, Garner reveals a shocking ignorance of the power of Google: 
When "Clement" suddenly appears in Volume Two, with no surname attached, will every reader know this is Clement Freud, Lucian’s estranged brother? 
Who capable of reading a big hairy biography wouldn't just google the words Lucian Freud Clement? It gets you right to a Wikipedia article on Clement Freud.
The grandson of Sigmund Freud and brother of Lucian Freud, he moved to the United Kingdom from Germany as a child.... He worked at the Nuremberg Trials and in 1947...  He married June Flewett (the inspiration for Lucy Pevensie in C. S. Lewis's children's series The Chronicles of Narnia).... Freud was one of Britain's first "celebrity chefs"... He appeared in a series of dog food advertisements (at first Chunky Meat, later Chunky Minced Morsels) in which he co-starred with a bloodhound called Henry (played by a number of dogs) which shared his trademark "hangdog" expression. 

Too much information, if anything. Bark, and Google scoops it into your bowl. Chunky Meat, later Chunky Minced Morsels indeed! Not only will every reader know this is Clement Freud, Lucian’s estranged brother. Every reader will know that the dogfood Chunky Meat was rechristened Chunky Minced Morsels.

Emotional dawn.


He did it. He left the White House.

AND: "We will be back — in some form.... Have a good life. We will see you soon."

He walked up to that last stage to the tune of "Hail to the Chief" and walked off to "YMCA."

"Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to become secretary of state, deftly sidestepped Democratic invitations to sharply criticize the Trump administration..."

"... and Republican efforts to lure him into controversy, in a confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.... Firing off his trademark 'yes or no' confirmation questions, [Lindsey] Graham asked whether Blinken considered Iran the world’s 'largest state sponsor of terrorism.' 'I do,' Blinken replied. Did he consider Israel a racist nation? 'No.' Should any U.S. agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan be conditions-based? 'Absolutely.' What would he tell people in a caravan heading toward the American border? 'I would say, "Do not come."'  Did he agree that China’s repression of the Uighur minority constituted genocide, as the Trump administration declared Tuesday? 'That would be my judgment as well,' Blinken replied. 'We’re on a really good start here,' Graham said. 'I really just very much appreciate this.'"

"Besides hanging out with Tavi, going to all the fashion week shows, meeting famous designers, chatting with buyers about yachts, and, of course, wearing the kinds of clothes..."

"... young men (and women) would pretty much give a kidney for, the dynamic duo are so... beautifully fancy... they swallow attention like nobody's business. We mean, just look at them. Transfixing, aren't they? Gawker hails Peter II (never Jr.) and Harry as potential new role models for gay youth – which is interesting and encouraging, if perhaps a bit premature. After all, these guys were born into a helluva lot of power and privilege. Connecting with the young man who buys his eveningwear from Walmart could be a stretch. It gets better? For these kids, it was never bad. Also, it might be a little narrow minded to think that gay youth will always look up to the fabulously dressed and fabulously wealthy? But, then again, we just can't look away from that picture. They're like a couple of Persian cats with the hair of a young Elvis. Somebody get these boys a reality show asap!" 

From "Meet NYC’s Most Beautiful Teenage Brothers," from February 2012 (in Refinery).

I'm reading that this morning because it was linked in "Harry Brant, Troubled Society Fixture, Dies at 24" (The Cut)(death by drug overdose)("Naturally, his upbringing [son of Interview magazine owner Peter Brant and supermodel Stephanie Seymour] instilled in him a deep obsession with fashion and beauty. 'I have a love of opulence,' he told the Times in 2012 matter-of-factly. His childhood uniform was a pair of overalls, an Alaïa T-shirt, and his mom’s Manolo Blahnik loafers, he said.... By the time he was 17, he had a column in Interview called 'The Look.' In 2015, the Brant brothers turned their dandyism into a business, founding a unisex makeup line with MAC....").

ADDED: Another linked article, this one in Gawker, also from 2012, "The Brant Brothers: The World's Luckiest Teenage Homosexuals": "The great thing is that these two are even allowed to exist.... [T]hey're just allowed to wear leopard print tops in public, hang out backstage at a Versace show, and wear the latest Dolce and Gabanna fashions like Little Lord Fauntleroy and his gay brother. And no one cares. No one calls them names or tears them down or tries to get them to change just until they get to college. They're just allowed to be The Brants...."

What feels boring to you right now? 
H: Gender binaries. 
P: What are gender binaries? 

Last words from "the only true outsider ever to win the presidency."

From Trump's Farewell Address, which I didn't watch live or on YouTube. I waited for the transcript, the cold record. He begins with something he ought to have been talking about since mid-November, instead of the doomed notion that he had won the election:
As I conclude my term as the 45th President of the United States, I stand before you truly proud of what we have achieved together. We did what we came here to do, and so much more...
The next part of the speech is full of thanks. Thanks to people who worked with him and thanks to America for giving him the "honor beyond description, " the "extraordinary privilege" of serving as President.

He forefronts an expression of horror for the attack on the Capitol:
All Americans were horrified by the assault on our capital. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated. 
He calls for unity:
Now more than ever, we must unify around our shared values and rise above the partisan rancor and forge our common destiny. 
Then he talks about himself. He was an outsider, "the only true outsider ever to win the presidency." 

"President Trump granted a full pardon to Stephen Bannon. Prosecutors pursued Mr. Bannon with charges related to fraud stemming from his involvement in a political project. Mr. Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen."

One of the shortest entries on "Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Executive Grants of Clemency/President Donald J. Trump granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 individuals," issued just after midnight on this, the last half-day of the Trump presidency. 

The pardon for Mr. Bannon was described as a pre-emptive move that would effectively wipe away the charges against him, should he be convicted....  The president made the decision on Mr. Bannon after a day of frantic efforts to sway his thinking, including from Mr. Bannon himself. The White House had planned to release the list of those granted clemency earlier on Tuesday, but the debate over Mr. Bannon was part of the delay, officials said. 
By late afternoon on Tuesday, advisers believed they had kept a pardon for Mr. Bannon from happening. But by around 9 p.m., Mr. Trump had changed his mind once again. Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon spoke by phone during the day as the president was weighing the pardon, and Mr. Bannon’s allies tried to apply pressure to make it happen while his detractors pushed the president not to go ahead with it. 
Mr. Bannon helped guide the president’s campaign to victory in 2016. He then had an extraordinarily messy split with Mr. Trump in August 2017, prompting him to leave the White House....

As for the rest of those pardons — no pardon for Snowdon or Assange, but Trump did pardon Li'l Wayne. 

January 19, 2021

At the End of an Era Cafe...

 ... you can talk until the new era dawns.

"The State Department declared on Tuesday that the Chinese government is committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its wide-scale repression of Uighurs..."

"... and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in its northwestern region of Xinjiang, including in its use of internment camps and forced sterilization. The move is expected to be the Trump administration’s final action on China, made on its last full day, and is the culmination of a yearslong debate over how to punish what many consider Beijing’s worst human rights abuses in decades.... The determination of atrocities is a rare action on the part of the State Department, and could lead the United States to impose more sanctions against China under the new administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said last year through a spokesman that the policies by Beijing amounted to 'genocide.'"

"MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan argues that we should think of Trump’s followers as if they were al-Qaeda members, who move freely among us because they are white..."

".... The comparison fails even though the mob in the Capitol included at least a few honest-to-goodness, unambiguous terrorists, who came there with the express purpose of violently scaring the hell out of politicians in an effort to change policy...  I once thought resistance to the hysterical style was hopeless.... We overdose on serotonin, or some equally enchanting neurotransmitter, and experience an addict’s bliss at the hysterical scenes that pass before our eyes, whether they make us happy or furious. The only thing that displeases us is boredom—and that is why boredom is our salvation. Developing an aversion to hysteria is a long process—as hard as for a drunk to learn to hate the bottle—but it is possible. You just have to learn to feel disgust for it, and for those who retweet it. I feel my own blood seroconverting against hysteria—I was once entertained, then riled, then bored, and now I am disgusted by it. And that makes me hopeful that others can undergo the same process. One sign that herd immunity against this hysterical style is within reach was the election of Biden, a nonhysterical fogey. More tests will come. A representative from Georgia has vowed to introduce articles of impeachment against Biden the day after the inauguration, for reasons too risible to bear repeating. These non-incidents are good practice: Follow the bead of your attention. Where does it go? Does it slavishly follow the antics of incorrigible exhibitionists? Do you wish it did not?"

Too risible to link to an article? I looked it up. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) said Biden "is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments, foreign Chinese energy companies, Ukrainian energy companies." Is willing to abuse...? At least wait until he abuses power. Willingness to abuse power is not enough. 

Trump has a +3 approval rating in the new Rasmussen poll.

 You can see all the latest polls here, at Real Clear Politics.

"I don’t remember the last time I laughed at a Trump joke on any show, including my own. That’s not an indictment of my show or the host or the writers..."

"... it’s just that I can’t find the humor in this anymore. I can write jokes and hope that someone else finds the humor, but none of it’s funny to me. And it was useless. It doesn’t hurt him, it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t change anyone’s mind. But live audiences only responded to Trump jokes. We tried to do silly non-Trump jokes. We rehearsed in front of a live audience, but when we were done with the Trump jokes, the energy just died. It was just clear that, for whatever reason, other stuff was just not going to fly. So most of the monologue ended up being 90 percent Trump jokes. It’s like an addiction: That’s all people wanted. That infected other jokes too... let’s say that there’s some story about a panda rescuing someone or something. It’s so easy to make a Trump joke about that because, from the audience’s point of view, it’s so unexpected. So it’s very easy for even non-Trump stories to have a Trump punchline, because it’s this kind of shorthand. Then it becomes like, Oh my God, this is just, like, The Trump Show.... It’s the narcissist’s dream to have everyone thinking and talking about him constantly, and he manipulated us into doing that. We rewarded his abuse by giving him exactly what he wanted.... [T]here is some question of whether our audience will stick around if we’re not just dunking on Trump every night.... It’s easy to hate Trump because he’s hateable, but I’d be pretty surprised if Biden got all the kids out of cages or took down the border wall. Is that gonna be a tough pill to swallow for some of our audience?... [I]f the good jokes aren’t pulling in the same kind of numbers as lukewarm jokes with a more palatable political take for our demo, strictly from a business perspective, that’s going to be something that someone, somewhere at the network has to think about."

"I’m not getting a very strong 'sans-culottes sacking the Tuileries' vibe here."

Historical reference: "Insurrection of 10 August 1792." Graphic depiction for comparison purposes:

"When she arrived at Stanford in 1979, she had wanted to teach gender and the law, but the dean refused, telling her to pick a 'real subject.'"

"She agreed to teach contracts instead, but changed her mind two years later when the dean retired, and several alumni threw him a party — and invited a stripper. 'I said to hell with contracts,' she later wrote." 

Who was dean of Stanford Law School in 1979? 

Here's a chronology of Stanford Law School deans. 

Imagine a law school retirement party with a stripper — in 1981.

I can imagine a law school dean telling a new professor that she's got to cover a basic required course — like contracts. But it would have been very awkward, even then, to say that "gender and the law" was not a "real subject." As I remember it — and I started teaching law school in 1984 — the standard course name was "Women and the Law," and it would have been considered an upper-level elective. I don't know what it was like at Stanford in the 80s, but at Wisconsin, you could invent your own seminar. We had to teach 4 courses a year, but one of them could always be anything you were interested in. There were many seminars called "Law and ______" — fill in the blank. It was considered funny to refer to these courses as "Law and My Ego." 

Maybe over at Stanford, the joke was "not a real subject." But that was a bad joke to aim at a new hiree, when she was only the second woman on the faculty and the course she wanted to teach was women and the law.

By the way, when I began my search for a law school teaching job, I was advised by one of my law school professors — a female professor — to resist getting slotted into one of the "women's" courses. I was warned. Watch out for these deans who want you to teach, say, Family Law.

ADDED: I do see that the the party for the dean does not seem to have been an official retirement party. It says "a party." Set up by "several alumni." Who knows how long ago these alumni graduated or, more importantly, how important these alumni were to the current faculty? You might wonder why would you say "to hell with contracts" because there was a stripper a law school party — or a stripper invited to a law-school-adjacent party? What's the connection between a particular law school course and that party? 

But I understand. And it fits with the advice I was given to stay out of "women's" courses. Contracts is the classic law school course. A woman, like the woman who advised me, might think the idea is to transcend gender. But if you got a wake-up call and decided, no, things are really retrograde here and I'm not going to pretend there's not a gender problem, you might say "to hell with contracts."

"The general sense seems to be that Republicans and conservatives in Congress and think tanks and the media are just going to Don Draper the last four years."

Writes Jonathan Last in "Break-Ups Are Hard To Do" (The Bulwark), embedding this:

This is the more apt clip:

"Perhaps the next Trump, if there is one, will be another celebrity. Someone with a powerful and compelling persona..."

"... who traffics in fear and anger and hate. Someone who 'triggers the libs' and puts on a show. Someone who already has an audience, who speaks for the Republican base as much as he speaks to them. Republican voters have already put a Fox News viewer into the White House. From there it’s just a short step to electing an actual Fox News personality." 

The link on "an actual Fox News personality" goes to "Tucker Carlson 2024? The GOP is buzzing/The Fox News host's ratings have gone gangbusters, and many Republicans think he'd be a force in a Republican primary" (Politico, July 2020).
While practically every Republican eyeing a 2024 presidential run is professing loyalty to Trump the person... 
That was back in July. 
... Carlson has become perhaps the highest-profile proponent of “Trumpism” — a blend of anti-immigrant nationalism, economic populism and America First isolationism that he articulates unapologetically and with some snark. At the same time, he's shown a rare willingness among Republicans to bluntly criticize Trump when he believes the president is straying from that ideology.

"Adams, the second US president and first to lose an election, simply refused to attend the inauguration ceremony of Thomas Jefferson in 1801, whose supporters had referred to Adams as 'hideous [and] hermaphroditical.'"

From "How many presidents have boycotted successors’ inauguration and who are they?/The 45th commander in chief is set to become only the fourth to skip the ceremonies" (The Independent).

ADDED: The last President to avoid his successor's inauguration was Andrew Johnson. Here's a picture of him:

Meade texted me that and said Johnson looks like George W. Bush. I said he looks like a combination of Nixon and William Shatner. Which is a pretty funny/terrifying idea for a President.

"Are teens watching Pretend It's a City?" — asks Raphael Bob-Waksberg about the Martin Scorsese series — on Netflix — with Fran Lebowitz.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg is the comic writer associated with the animated Netflix show "Bojack Horseman." I have read and enjoyed his story collection "Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory." I follow him on Twitter, and I loved his question. I've watched the Fran Lebowitz series, and I'm the same age as she is (and lived in the NYC in the 70s and 80s), so I liked it, but what about these kids today?

Bob-Waksberg hasn't gotten too many answers. A couple teens say they've watched it, but give no report on whether they found it to be any kind of "key into a different kind of being." 

But here's the most striking answer:
I clicked around and found this
I love Fran Lebowitz too... & I would love to be simply excited for this new netflix thing but I have some awfully depressing news... Fran Lebowitz is a TERF! I know this because in this 2010 documentary about Candy Darling, Beautiful Darling, Lebowitz articulates the TERF position just about as explicitly as you can--that Candy isn't a woman, but a man tragically and fetishistically fixated on womanhood.... I suppose I am bringing it up because, as usual, it's that thing where an older cis lesbian has been just about as explicitly hateful towards trans people as you can be, but because she's an elder or whatever we're all pretending that never happened....

TERF = trans-exclusionary radical feminist. 

You can watch the entire documentary "Beautiful Darling" here, but I'll just embed the trailer, which begins with Lebowitz talking about Darling:


Lebowitz expresses the opinion that you cannot be a woman if you didn't begin life as "a little girl." The power behind Candy Darling was Andy Warhol, and Lebowitz knew Warhol — she wrote for his magazine — and did not like him, as you can see in this clip from a Scorsese domentary that was HBO in 2011:


"This is what happens when an inside joke gets into the water supply."

ADDED: I wrote "Lebowitz expresses the opinion..." but these are not "opinions" in the non-artist sense of the word. I like to quote Oscar Wilde: "Views are held by those who are not artists."

You've got to understand that Lebowitz is a humorist. She's releasing her inside jokes into the water supply. 

January 18, 2021

At the Marigold Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The dissolving of one of America's most enduring transfer-of-power rituals — the outgoing president welcoming the incoming president on the steps of the North Portico..."

"... and then riding with them to the United States Capitol — is just one of the snubs the Trumps are perpetrating as they leave Washington. Instead of a president and first lady, the Bidens will be greeted by the White House chief usher Timothy Harleth, according to a source familiar with the day's events and planning.... The Inauguration Day snub of the Biden's comes on the heels of a series of broken norms and childish behavior that comes directly from the President of the United States, who has been vocal about his disinterest in preserving any semblance of decency towards the man who will succeed him. Trump, according to several sources, is even mulling whether to write a letter to Biden to leave for him in the Oval Office, a standard-bearing tradition. Melania Trump, who has not been seen in public in more than two weeks, has not reached out to Jill Biden, dashing expectations she would continue the passing along of hospitality to her successor, hosting her for a tour. Even after contentious election cycles, first ladies and presidents have set aside hard feelings and ego, no matter how bruised, until now...."

Please watch the entire Luke Mogelson video of the Capitol riot.

"Despite these delusions, Ms. Gilbert — a self-described mystic who has written four books, with titles like 'Swami Soup' — mostly struck me as a New Age eccentric who could use some time away from screens."

"She disdains the mainstream media, but she agreed to be profiled, and we kept in touch. Over a series of conversations, I learned that she had a longstanding suspicion of elites dating back to her Harvard days, when she felt out of place among people she considered snobby rich kids. As an adult, she joined the anti-establishment left, advocating animal rights and supporting the Standing Rock oil pipeline protests. She admired the hacktivist group Anonymous, and looked up to whistle-blowers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. She was a registered Democrat for most of her life, but she voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, in the 2016 presidential election after deciding that both major parties were corrupt. Ms. Gilbert’s path to QAnon began in 2016 when WikiLeaks posted a trove of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign. Shortly after, she started seeing posts on social media about something called #Pizzagate. She had dabbled in conspiracy theories before, but Pizzagate — which falsely posited that powerful Democrats were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington pizza parlor, and that all of this was detailed in code in the Clinton emails — blew her mind. If it was true, she thought, it would connect all of her suspicions about elites, and explain the horrible truths they had been covering up. 'The world opened up in Technicolor for me,' she said. 'It was like the Matrix — everything just started to download.' Pizzagate primed Ms. Gilbert for QAnon, which she discovered through the YouTube videos of a British psychic.... For her, QAnon was always less about Q and more about the crowdsourced search for truth. She loves assembling her own reality in real time, patching together shards of information and connecting them to the core narrative...."

The article assumes this woman was a person of the left who — encountering QAnon — flipped into a right-winger. But it's pretty clear that the conventional left/right divide doesn't explain her. She's into New Age and conspiracies and fitting interesting, exciting ideas together. It's a quality of mind, a way of being, a way to feel and to have fun with your mind and with the internet.

Posing around pardons.

"Kids having fun!"

"Another big issue is his lack of interest in me in other ways. He can monologue for hours about politics, culture, social issues, and..."

"... he rants like a combination of Grandpa Simpson and Archie Bunker about anyone under age 40, but when it comes to anything I’m up to, or how he or I are feeling? Crickets. I’m actually keeping a list of things he’d rather do than, well, me. The list is pretty depressing. I am less desirable than playing Windows Solitaire or watching BBC detective shows and The Seventh Seal (I’m less desirable to my husband than an overwrought, depressing Swedish movie, FML)." 

From "My Husband Won’t Have Sex With Me!," a letter to the "Ask Polly" advice columnist at New York Magazine. If I can trust the internet, "FML" means "fuck my life."

"But for the armored vehicles, extra barricades and rooftop surveillance teams, Sunday was just another dreary winter day on Madison’s Capitol Square."

"Dog walkers and joggers passed through the area. A man in black workout clothes did squats. Three men sought to share the 'good news' of Jesus Christ with passersby, one of the men’s voices echoing throughout the quiet square. 'Jesus died for all your sins,' he shouted. 'If you’re a sinner, you’re lost.' Adding to the sense of normalcy: the absence of an armed insurrection."

January 17, 2021

I thought I saw a pussycat.


But it was just a cat-sized snowperson. In the bleak sunrise.

Open thread.

"On Jan. 3, three days before the attack on the Capitol, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right organization known as the Proud Boys, shared a cryptic post..."

"... on the messaging app Telegram: 'What if we invade it?' The message was sent to his more than 7,000 followers on the app, with the first reply reading 'January 6th is D day in America.'... [Messages on Parler, Telegram and Gab] show the group repeatedly invoking President Trump’s rhetoric in the weeks leading to the Jan. 6 protest.... On Parler, where the group’s official account had more than 340,000 followers before the platform went offline last week, Mr. Tarrio said on Dec. 29 that the Proud Boys would be able to put a thousand 'boots on the ground' and 'turn out in record numbers on Jan. 6.' In December, after Mr. Trump tweeted about the Jan. 6 rally and said to 'be there, will be wild,' the Long Island chapter of the Proud Boys posted that Trump supporters have been 'waiting for the green light from the President.' 'Everyone who said "Mr. President, just say when?" He just did,' the post said. The Proud Boys escalated their social-media activity and appeared emboldened after the Sept. 29 presidential debate... [in which] moderator Chris Wallace asked Mr. Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups. As part of his reply, the president said, 'Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.' The response within the group... was euphoric. On Parler, members shared designs for a T-shirt inspired by Mr. Trump’s comments. It read: 'Proud Boys standing by.'"

"He is only twenty-three years old, for godsake, the first millionaire businessman to rise up out of the teen-age netherworld, king of the rock and roll record producers...."

"Spector walks into the inner office, gingerly, like a cowboy, because of the way the English boots lift him up off the floor. He is slight, five feet seven, 130 pounds. His hair shakes faintly behind. It is a big room, like a living room, all beige except for nine gold-plated rock and roll records on the wall, some of Phil Spector’s 'goldies,' one million sales each. 'He’s a Rebel,' by the Crystals, 'Zip-a-dee-doo-dah,' by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, 'Be My Baby,' by the Ronettes, 'Da Do Ron Ron,' 'Then He Kissed Me,' 'Uptown,' 'He’s Sure the Boy I Love,' all by the Crystals, 'Wait Til My Baby Gets Home,' by Darlene Love. And beige walls, beige telephones all over the place, a beige upright piano, beige paintings, beige tables... There have been teen-agers who have made a million dollars before, but invariably they are entertainers, they are steered by older people, such as the good Colonel Tom Parker steers Elvis Presley. But Phil Spector is the bona-fide Genius of Teen....  Anyway, Phil Spector likes this music. He genuinely likes it. He is not a short-armed fatty hustling nutball fads. 'I get a little angry when people say it’s bad music.... This music has a spontaneity that doesn’t exist in any other kind of music, and it’s what is here now. It’s unfair to classify it as rock and roll and condemn it. It has limited chord changes, and people are always saying the words are banal and why doesn’t anybody write lyrics like Cole Porter anymore, but we don’t have any presidents like Lincoln anymore, either. You know? Actually, it’s more like the blues. It’s pop blues. I feel it’s very American. It’s very today. It’s what people respond to today. It’s not just the kids. I hear cab drivers, everybody, listening to it.'"

Wrote Tom Wolfe in "The First Tycoon of Teen," chapter 5 of "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby."

The erstwhile teen genius died yesterday — at the age of 81. In prison. Of covid.

"It’s like you get the most confident, strong personality people, a lot of them being women, and it’s like you’re layering all of them on top of each other and it becomes everyone trying to talk over each other."

"So it’s a lot of really enthusiastic yelling.... It was nice to have so many different, really strong opinions. We always joke that whenever we bring our friends over for the first time they’re going to get grilled. Like, if you don’t have your 10-year plan, like, fully ready and outlined in a spreadsheet for them, you’re not going to survive that meal." 

Said Ella Emhoff, quoted in "What’s It Like to Have Kamala Harris As ‘Momala’? We Asked Her Stepkids/A Zoom interview with Ella and Cole Emhoff" (NYT). 

I was interested in the question — asked by the NYT interviewer — "Your dad has never not worked, right? What do you think that’s going to be like for him?" 

The reader is forced to infer that Emhoff is quitting his work. There's no link or statement to that effect, and I didn't know it. He's only 56. He's been a lawyer. I see at his Wikipedia page that he took a leave of absence from his law firm when Harris was running for VP, and he permanently resigned when she became VP. So what will this be like for him? I'd say, he's old enough to retire, and not retiring would probably cause more trouble than any good his working could have done, even assuming that his legal work was for the good.

Here's his daughter's answer:
I hope he takes up, like, another hobby. I hope he starts knitting, like I do. I think it’ll be a good time for him to slow down and just, I don’t know, like appreciate life. And tap into a lot of the things that he couldn’t do because he was working so much or had these, like, time constraints. I hope that it opens up some of those creative outlets, but that’s obviously just me, the creative child.

Let him play the supportive role with grace and dignity, like the female first and second spouses have done. He's inventing the masculine version of a traditional role. I've seen some people say that the arrival of a man into this role ought to be an occasion for getting rid of it altogether — as if the role itself is sexist, and putting a man in it reveals that it was never a good at all. But I'd say that line of reasoning is sexist. 

BUT: Just clicking on footnotes at Emhoff's Wikipedia page, I see "Kamala Harris’s Husband Named to Faculty at Georgetown Law":  

Emhoff will be a Distinguished Visitor from Practice focusing on media and entertainment law, which he practiced for nearly three decades as a partner at DLA Piper. He will also serve as a distinguished fellow of the school’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy.

Dad needs a hobby. Ha ha. Being a law professor is a hobby. Or such a nothing pastime that you need to load in something like knitting to keep from being at loose ends. 

That NYT question — "Your dad has never not worked, right? What do you think that’s going to be like for him?" — contains the inference that to be a law professor is not to work!

"Mr. Biden’s team has developed a raft of decrees that he can issue on his own authority after the inauguration on Wednesday..."

"... to begin reversing some of President Trump’s most hotly disputed policies. Advisers hope the flurry of action, without waiting for Congress, will establish a sense of momentum for the new president even as the Senate puts his predecessor on trial. On his first day in office alone, Mr. Biden intends a flurry of executive orders that will be partly substantive and partly symbolic. They include rescinding the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries, rejoining the Paris climate change accord, extending pandemic-related limits on evictions and student loan payments, issuing a mask mandate for federal property and interstate travel and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from families after crossing the border, according to a memo circulated on Saturday by Ron Klain, his incoming White House chief of staff, and obtained by The New York Times. The blueprint of executive action comes after Mr. Biden announced that he will push Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion package of economic stimulus and pandemic relief, signaling a willingness to be aggressive on policy issues and confronting Republicans from the start to take their lead from him. He also plans to send sweeping immigration legislation on his first day in office providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally."

Aggressive and confrontational... that's the tone they want to set. 

I say "they" because it's "Mr. Biden's team" putting these things together. What part of this is the actual man, Joe Biden, choosing and acting? 

Here's a sentence that's about Biden personally: 
After a lifetime in Washington, the restless, gabby man of consuming ambition who always had something to say and something to prove seems to have given way to a more self-assured 78-year-old who finally achieved his life’s dream.
A man got what he wanted. He was "restless" when he didn't have it yet, and now that he's achieved his dream — getting the position — he's "self-assured." The struggle is over, I guess, and he can relax.
“He is much calmer,” said Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and a close ally. “The anxiety of running and the pressure of a campaign, all that’s behind him now. Even after the campaign was over, the election was over, all the foolishness coming from the Trump camp, you don’t know how all this stuff is going to play out. You may know how it’s going to end, but you’re anxious about how it plays out. So all that’s behind him now.”