December 13, 2017

At the Winter Swan Café...



... you can talk about whatever you like.

The photo — of Whooper swans —is by Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.net.

We walked out on Picnic Point today, where it was very blustery with icy horizontal snow. Out on the lake, there were lots of white birds yelling and laughing like a party full of half-drunk humans. Were they swans? I couldn't get a good enough look and didn't think taking my own picture from that distance would help.

The Wikipedia article on Whooper swans says: "They are very noisy; the calls are strident... kloo-kloo-kloo in groups of three or four." But they are in Asia and Europe. The 3 swans of Wisconsin are: Trumpeter, Tundra, and Mute. I've listened to recordings of all 3, and I'm going to say they were Tundra swans. (Listen here.)

Anyway, this is an open thread. You certainly don't have to talk about swans!

And if you've got some shopping to do on line, I recommend going into Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another.... I had to say yes...."

"I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears. Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then. My mind understood that I had to do it, but my body wouldn’t stop crying and convulsing. At that point, I started throwing up while a set frozen still waited to shoot. I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse. As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene."

From "Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too" by Salma Hayek (NYT).

The delusion that Elizabeth Warren "slut-shamed" Kirsten Gillibrand.

I'm reading "Did Elizabeth Warren Just Call Her Fellow Senator a Slut?" (by Tyler O'Neil at Pajamas Media) because it was linked by Glenn Reynolds in a post that says "And yesterday [Warren] was 'slut-shaming' fellow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand."

O'Neil is talking about Warren's response to this Trump tweet...
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
... which I blogged about here. I said a few things about what Trump was doing with that tweet, but I ended with:
Trump is toying with sexual innuendo. The woman is "USED!" and she "begg[ed]" and "would do anything."
So it didn't surprise me when, later, I saw that Elizabeth Warren tweeted (in response to Trump's tweet):
Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump....
That's not Warren slut-shaming Gillibrand. That's Warren seeing the same thing I saw, I believe. I said "toying with," where she used the device of asking a question, and I said "sexual innuendo" where she said "slut-shaming." It's the same point.

O'Neil concedes that Trump's language "does seem sexually suggestive," which I think gets him as far as agreeing with me. So what's different about how Warren put it? O'Neil says the term "slut-shaming" is a way to criticize someone who's "blaming the victim of sexual assault" because she was acting or dressing a certain way, so that would mean that Warren implied that Gillibrand must have been overtly manifesting sexuality and that it was wrong of Trump to react to her expressiveness in a negative way.

I think that's what O'Neil is groping at. I'm trying to help O'Neil make sense even as I think that O'Neil does not make sense and that whatever shred of sense there may be is used at the price of looking as though he'd just do anything to attack Elizabeth Warren.

Volokh Conspiracy has moved from The Washington Post to Reason.com and it's not just about getting out from under the paywall.

It's also about wanting to be free of the censorship of "vulgarities."

And the Volokh bloggers don't even use vulgarities in the own writing. They just want to be able to quote things like "Fuck the Draft."
[I]t's hard for me to see what value... redaction adds. And the symbolism is important to me... More importantly, we want the decision whether or not to redact to be ours, not the Post's. This is so for the familiar vulgarities, but also as to similar decisions about what to do with quoting incidents that involve offensive epithets, allegedly offensive team names and band names, allegedly improper use of pronouns to refer to various people, and much more. Once we acknowledge that it's proper to constrain our accurate reporting about one kind of offensive word, how would we effectively be able to defend our right to judge how to report on incidents involving other words?

Esther Perel "wants to redress a traditional bias against cheating spouses, to acknowledge 'the point of view of both parties—what it did to one and what it meant to the other.'"

"In practice, it must be said, her method seems to demand heroic levels of forbearance on the part of faithful spouses. They are asked not only to forgo the presumption of their own moral superiority but to consider and empathize with what has been meaningful, liberating, or joyous about their partners’ adulterous experiences. The affair that has caused them so much anguish may have been prompted by boredom or a longing for sexual variety, or it may have been a bid for existential 'growth, exploration, and transformation.'... They are also asked to control their vengeful impulses, learning to 'metabolize' their desire for vengeance 'in a healthy manner.'... They must resist the desire to 'know everything' and avoid demanding details about the physical acts involved in their partners’ betrayals. (They can ask 'investigative questions' about feelings but not 'detective questions' about hair color, sexual positions, or the size of genital organs.) Americans, Perel observes, are particularly inclined to believe that a process of forensic confession is a necessary forerunner to the restoration of trust, but 'coming clean,' she argues, is often more destructive than it is salutary, and 'honesty requires careful calibration.'"

From "In Defense of Adulterers/Esther Perel’s new book argues for a more compassionate understanding of our unruly desires," by Zoë Heller in The New Yorker.

The book under discussion is "The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity." I'm trying to think who would be inclined to read this book. But the article about it caught my eye.

"What Conversations About Bitcoin Sound Like to Me."

Yeah.

Me too!

The linked article is by Ethan Kuperberg at The New Yorker. Full disclosure: He also wrote (last April) "What I Have in Common with Trump."

"Hip New York Restaurant Reportedly had a ‘Rape Room.'"

New York Magazine reports.
The Spotted Pig, located in Manhattan’s West Village, [had] an invitation-only space that employees and industry insiders claim has been nicknamed the “rape room.” [Co-owner Ken Friedman allegedly] made it clear that regular restaurant rules do not apply on the third floor, and guests frequently groped female employees there....

Did Anderson Cooper call Trump a "tool" and a "pathetic loser"?

Or did "someone gain[] access to [his] twitter account," which is what somebody with access to Anderson Cooper's Twitter account is saying now?

Link goes to Breitbart, which calls this "yet another catastrophic blow to CNN’s credibility, a news outlet that indentifies as objective."

ADDED: Breitbart can snark "a news outlet that indentifies as objective," I presume, because Breitbart does not "identify as objective."

That reminds me... yesterday Fox News had an article "CNN mocked for airing segment on Trump's soda consumption while NYC faced terror attack," and it has this:
While viewers scrambled to hear the latest news, several people took to Twitter to mock CNN’s programming’s decision. Blogger Ann Althouse noted that the New York Times article that first mentioned Trump’s soda habit came out a few days ago and added, “CNN is hopeless,” after expressing frustration that CNN didn’t offer the live report on the attempted terror attack.
Would it kill them to link? Here.

Another Trump tweet, further processing the Roy Moore defeat.

We've been talking about what Trump tweeted at 10:08 PM. Now, here's what he tweeted at 5:22 AM:

Here's the NYT article about the new tweet:

"Sexually assaulted in full view of millions, the 18-year-old boy really has no option but to treat it as a joke."

I just happened to land on this post from a mere 5 years ago:
Look at the photograph of the hulking Jenny McCarthy grabbing Justin Bieber by the throat and suctioning the back of his neck:
"Wow. I feel violated right now," he said, laughing.

"I did grab his butt," McCarthy said backstage. "I couldn't help it. He was just so delicious. So little. I wanted to tear his head off and eat it."
Imagine the sexes reversed. If you can. McCarthy is more than twice Bieber's age. She's 40. But, oh, she's trying so hard to project sexuality....
I said "stop molesting teenagers. That's not funny, even if circumstances require Bieber to pretend that it is." Here's the photograph:


How did I happen upon that? I was searching my archive for "men's project," after seeing a link at at Instapundit to the Campus Reform piece "The University of Wisconsin-Madison has confirmed that it has disbanded its 'Men’s Project,' a program designed to teach 'men-identified students' about the harms caused by traditional notions of masculinity."

The McCarthy molestation post had the word "men's" ("She first posed for the men’s mag at 21, which helped launch her career as a sexy doofus") and "project" ("She's 40. But, oh, she's trying so hard to project sexuality").

Anyway, the UW "Men's Project." I must have paid attention to that, since it involves my school and topics I care about, but I can't find an old post. My question is whether the Men's Project was as heavy-handed and demeaning as Campus Reform makes it sound.

IN THE COMMENTS: CJ said points to this "SNL" routine with Tina Fey as a teacher fantasizing about sex with her student, played by Justin Bieber. This is from April 2010:


CJ's comment is "I remember watching this when it aired and saying to my fiancee at the time - 'God this skit could've been so much funnier but they're obviously scared of sexualizing Bieber too much - but that's the whole point of the sketch!'"

I think that sketch is great. Pitch perfect, right down to the "I'm going to go call Gloria Allred." It's prescient... about a future that still isn't quite here, the point when #MeToo extends to men accusing women.

Eligible for almost 30 years, The Moody Blues finally make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.



I never liked that overblown, lavish style of rock music, and I don't really care who gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (a place I like enough to have visited twice), but I just want to say that I remember when the first Moody Blues song came out, and it was simple and charming in that 60s pop-song way I'll always like:



Here's the news, from the L.A. Times:
The induction of veteran English art-rock band the Moody Blues will quell a raft of fans who have consistently, and loudly, made their voices heard each year when the group was overlooked previously. Although the Moodys became eligible in 1989 under the hall's requirement that 25 years elapse after an act's first recording, the group perhaps best known for its 1967 ambitious and heavily orchestrated concept album "Days of Future Passed," and the single it yielded, "Nights in White Satin," appeared on the nominees list for the first time this year....
On the ballot for the first time, they're coming in along with 3 groups that I always think of in terms of MTV videos in the 1980s: Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, and The Cars. (Those 3 links go to videos I watched about a million times in the 80s.)

The write-ins wrote out Roy Moore.

Sad!



Add it up yourself:



The photo of Roy Moore is a screen grab I made from "LIVE NOW: Roy Moore's Election Night Headquarters...." (which you can watch non-live).

The graphic of the vote was grabbed from the NYT article "Alabama Election Results: Doug Jones Defeats Roy Moore in U.S. Senate Race."

What happened in Wisconsin's John Doe investigation — a forewarning to Robert Mueller?

I'm reading "Governmental accountability board? More like Wisconsin's Secret Police," by Glenn Reynolds, which ends:
It’s too early to say, as one account does, that the Wisconsin debacle prefigured the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation into Trump’s campaign, though there are certainly similarities between the attitudes of “The Resistance” in Washington and the Wisconsin establishment’s response to Walker. Writing in The Washington Post last week, Ed Rogers wrote that, though he’d supported Mueller in the past, Mueller needed to get a handle on the overwhelming partisan slant of his prosecutors or he’d be discredited.

It’s good advice. Mueller and his investigators should take care not to get wrapped up in partisan politics while conducting a criminal investigation. Because that seldom ends well.

When has this happened in the last 50 years? Everyone's talking about the same short story!

This is the second post on the topic of "Cat Person" by Kristen Roupenian, so start here if you don't know what I'm talking about already. This post just collects some of the fascinating tweeting under #CatPerson:

"When I was reading the #CatPerson short story, my first reaction was to be annoyed with the protagonist, but then I realized that I was annoyed because I myself have felt powerless to stop situations that felt bad to me in the past because I didn't want to hurt the other person." — Mina Salome.

"#CatPerson was such an odd thing to be published. Girl meets socially inept loser, aggressively pursues him despite lack of attraction so she can use his reaction to feel like a goddess, then dumps him and no one is surprised when he sends a mean text." — keanu steves.

"Margot can be shallow, rude, naive and still be the victim of patriarchy. Robert can be a bad kisser and a creep and still be sweet, considerate and deserving of sympathy. Good literature will resist simplistic moral interpretations. Call me ‘bout it." — Claire Ní Carol-aigh.

"One great thing about #CatPerson is I’ve never seen so many men suddenly collectively decide fatphobia is a real thing." — BridgetCallahan. (In the story, the young woman is grossed out by the man's slight tubbiness.)

"#CatPerson male opinion: He knew she was uncomfortable and ignored it. He knowingly took advantage of her unwillingness to say no. He was aware of her characterisation of him and intentionally groomed her by playing into it. We aren't stupid, we're predators. Story is spot on." — difgefs uktyuk.

"A girl meets an older guy with old fashioned tastes & he gives her a Pepe lighter & some food when she's hungry. Later, after she coerced him into fucking her, she finds him repulsive. And fat. #CatPerson." — Problematic Lola.

"What I like about #CatPerson: it destroys the 'loveable awkward oaf' excuse that assholes lean on when they behave manipulatively/poorly. Being a socially awkward nerd doesn't excuse you from treating people like shit." — Grace Lau.

"Can we please talk about how sis was in the car going to God knows where thinking 'I hope he doesn’t murder me' and then homeboy said 'don’t worry I’m not going to murder you' and then sis says 'It’s OK, you can murder me' GIRL WHAT?! #CatPerson." — The Honorable Chemist.



Trump absorbs the Roy Moore loss: "the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!"


That's a modest, well-balanced response, but will he get any credit for that?

In the primary, Trump fought hard for Moore's GOP opponent, but he adjusted and found a way to support Moore — who was made very hard to stand anywhere near. Now that Roy Moore is out, Trump is moving on. He's an optimist who tends to see the good in whatever happens and to go searching  for new ways to win. In this case — I'll say, modeling optimism — Trump is better off looking for good things elsewhere than stuck with Roy Moore, his candidate, in the flesh, in the Senate, vocalizing social conservatism in an unappealing way and attracting a big expulsion effort.

Do you remember that it was called a "stunning defeat" for Trump when Roy Moore won the primary?* On September 27, I blogged by WaPo's Robert Costa, said:
Moore’s win... demonstrates the real political limitations of Trump, who endorsed “Big Luther” at McConnell’s urging and staged a rally for Strange in Huntsville, Ala., just days before the primary. The outcome is likely to further fray Trump’s ties to Republicans in Congress, many of whom now fear that even his endorsement cannot protect them from voter fury.
I said:
What if this thing that seems to be Trump is bigger than Trump — a wave he figured out how to ride for a little while, but from which he can fall and which will roll on without him? Or is the whole thing — whatever it is (anti-establishment fury?) — already played out? We can't have an endless string of characters like Trump and, now, Moore... can we?...

How many "out there" candidates can there be? How wild can you be before people won't trust you? It's hard to know in post-2016 America. We've got a taste for the bizarre and we don't trust the appearance of normality anymore.
Yesterday, Alabama chose normality, and there's good in that for Trump, who's pretty bizarre.

December 12, 2017

"Two FBI agents assigned to the investigation into alleged collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia exchanged text messages referring to the future president as an 'idiot'..."

"... according to copies of messages turned over to Congress Tuesday night by the Justice Department," Politico reports.
“I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car," [Lisa] Page wrote in an August 2015 exchange.

“He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out,” Strzok replied....

2 people watching the election results — on 2 different channels, at different locations — just told me they can tell the newspeople already know Roy Moore will win.

I wasn't watching the election results yet. I was finishing that last post.

Meade was watching Fox News, and he just started talking about how he could tell by the way they were talking that they are seeing some sort of information — which they're not revealing — that shows them Roy Moore will win.

A minute later, I got a text from my son Chris, saying "The tone of the punditry on CNN makes me think they know he'll win."

UPDATE: NYT declares Jones the winner!

I was drawn in by the creepy close-up and started reading before "Cat Person" became an internet phenomenon.



See? You can't look away. The shape of his mouth. The prickly growths. It's the same can't look away that's luring you out to see "The Shape of Water"....



Women... and the creepy monsters they feel compelled to have sex with....

"Cat Person" is just a New Yorker short story. I get The New Yorker every week and almost never read the short stories, but I started "Cat Person" (by Kristen Roupenian), and I'm certain the photograph (by Elinor Carucci) made me do it. But I only got 7 paragraphs into it before moving on, intending to come back, but knowing my relationship with these mouth people might never be consummated.

And then I found out the internet was going mad for this story. So now, I've read it, and I'm reading the stories about how and why it when viral. Let's dip into the discussion with "The reaction to 'Cat Person' shows how the internet can even ruin fiction," by Laura Adamczyk at the AV Club:
Response to the story has varied from praise for its relatability to flat dismissal to jokes about how everyone is talking about a—Who’da thunk it?—short story of all things, with much of the conversation focusing on who is the more sympathetic character between Margot and Robert. On Sunday, someone created a “Men React To Cat Person” Twitter account, compiling screenshots of responses to the story, wherein some men express confusion over its merits, others defend Robert as the story’s victim, and one wonders if the story should exist at all, stating that the events depicted don’t just happen to women....

Debating over who’s the bigger jerk in this [story about a short male-female relationship], or any, work of fiction misses the point.... And yet because so many people came to the story through social media, as opposed to having the print issue delivered to their mail boxes, they clicked through and read without seeing its “fiction” designation. This no doubt encouraged some people to read the story not only as nonfiction but also as something that was up for debate, something they should or should not agree with...
I'm not going to read any more of the internet chatter, at least not right now. But I'll just say, based on my own reading of the story, that it makes a good jumping off point for discussing the problem of bad sex. Bad sex is something you need to distinguish from a criminal assault and take responsibility for avoiding. And reading the story is a good vicarious experience that might help women (and men) get better at ending an evening at an appropriately early point. The sex in that story is very graphic — graphic in a completely nontitillating way. In fact, the sex in that story is such that it would make excellent reading for an abstinence-only class.

How I calculated that my nap lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes.

I did not intend to be able to calculate the length of the nap nor to sleep anywhere nearly that long. But I know the last thing I heard on my audiobook and the next thing I heard on my audiobook, and I can see in my app (Audible) how much time was left in the book — "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen" — at each of those 2 points.

This paragraph — which I heard about half of — happens with 3 hours and 36 minutes left in the book:
People have surprisingly strong feelings about word breaks [at the end of a justified line of text]. A long time ago I met a man on a ship in the Dodecanese who complained to me about the way The New Yorker broke “English” and “England.” We follow Merriam-Webster’s, which divides words phonetically, giving us “En-glish,” “En-gland.” Webster’s New World Dictionary (among others) divides words along meaningful units and goes with “Eng-lish” and “Eng-land.” What bothered my shipmate was the way “glish” and “gland” looked on the next line, especially at the top of a column. What bothered me was that here in the Aegean an American— a college English professor, to judge by the tan Hush Puppies he wore— was grilling me about word breaks. (He also complained about his subscription.) The truth is that I, too, disliked it: “glish” and “gland” are unsightly stand-alones. Yet I was deeply invested in our way of doing it and resentful about having to defend it while I was on vacation.
I woke up in the middle of this:
At that pencil party, I encountered for the first time a handheld long-point pencil sharpener. Until then, I had not known that a handheld pencil sharpener could be anything but a toy; I have one in the shape of the Empire State Building that I treasure for sentimental reasons, but it is useless except as a cake decoration. The party featured a Sharpening Lounge, where there were state-of-the-art wall-mounted X-Acto sharpeners along one wall (they not only deliver a beautiful point but do so in reverent silence) and copies of a pencil-yellow manual called How to Sharpen Pencils, by David Rees. It is one of very few books worthy of the dual category “Humor/ Reference.”
42 minutes left.

Now, Meade is asking "Do you want chili for dinner" and I'm saying "I want breakfast."

"Roy Moore shows up to vote on horseback."

Reports the NY Post (with a photo).

ADDED: The first commenter and (I'm thinking) a million people on the internet responded with some variation of "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on."



Hey, whyntchya leave me alone, I'm tryna do my routine here.

At the Bike-Shadow Café...

IMG_1709

... you can talk about whatever you want.

And remember, if you've got to do some shopping, to go into Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"The power of appearances first became clear to him at school, in the mid-eighties, when he noticed how much attention a particular girl received because she was the only pupil who owned a bra."

"He soon found that there was money to be made selling cosmetics on the sidewalk — 'Owning a tube of lipstick was an untold luxury' — and dropped out of school after ninth grade to pursue business ventures. Cai co-founded Meitu with another entrepreneurial Quanzhou native, Wu Xinhong. The initial plan was to build a simplified Photoshop for what Cai called lao bai xing. (The phrase means, roughly, 'just plain folks,' and Cai constantly applied it to himself.) Once user data started coming in, they saw that their app was overwhelmingly used by young women for selfie enhancement. 'The demand was there even though no one knew it,' he said. He realized that the market for online beautification was his for the taking...."

From "China’s Selfie Obsession/Meitu’s apps are changing what it means to be beautiful in the most populous country on earth."

"I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate."

"The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated," said Ryan Lizza, saying The New Yorker's decision to fire him "was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts" and "a terrible mistake."

Quoted in the NYT.

The unnamed accuser is represented by Douglas H. Wigdor, "who has filed at least 11 lawsuits against Fox News this year for defamation, sexual harassment and racial discrimination." Wilder said that “in no way did Mr. Lizza’s misconduct constitute a ‘respectful relationship’ as he has now tried to characterize it.”

I wish I had a clue what Lizza was accused of doing. He was disrespectful to a woman he was in a relationship with? Are we really going down that road now? As long as one party to a relationship wants to submit that relationship to public inspection, we're going to deem the other party to be the bad person his sexual partner deemed him to be? That seems crazy! But maybe Lizza did something truly horrendous. And yet, if he did, wouldn't he take advantage of the opportunity to slink away into the dark? Why would he beg for a full investigation into the facts? If there is no full investigation, if firing happens instantly when the woman steps into the light, then light is darkness.

Will a man in an abusive relationship ever step forward and blindside a woman? Would The New Yorker fire the woman if he did?

Trump tweet-trashes Kirsten Gillibrand.


It took me a while to understand "Crooked-USED!" That hyphen is confusing. But I think "USED!" is a free-standing exclamation like his famous "Sad!" It's the way he abruptly ends tweets and not — as the hyphen suggests — part of a new nickname for Hillary. He's just calling Hillary "Crooked," not "Crooked-USED!"

And Hillary is not the one who, according to Trump, is used. Gillibrand is used. She's "a total flunky."

There are some mixed values in this tweet. Is loyalty good or bad? Gillibrand doesn't get credit for being loyal to Schumer. She gets called "a total flunky" for that. But she gets knocked for being disloyal to Trump and disloyal to Bill and Hillary.

Trump cannot be totally serious. He can't think that Gillibrand, as a Democratic Senator, would support him politically just because he gave her money when he was a private citizen and she was fundraising. It sounds almost as though he's asserting that campaign contributions are bribes. Maybe that's why he gave Democrats the money, to get better treatment personally, but that's not a demand he should make publicly.

And what's the disloyalty to Bill and Hillary he purports to be concerned about? From last month, "Gillibrand remark on Clinton sends shockwaves through Democratic Party/The anti-sexual harassment crusader and potential 2020 candidate prompted an uncomfortable debate among Democrats about a beloved party figure" (Politico):
Asked whether [Bill] Clinton should have stepped down [because of the Lewinsky scandal], the senator paused and responded, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”

However, she then pointed to the difference between the late 1990s and now, highlighting the dramatically changed social and political environments.

“Things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances, there should be a very different reaction. And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him,” she said.
Where's the flunkyism there? Seems to me she led the way... if "led the way" makes sense when we're talking about doing something 20 years too late. In the heat of the struggle over what to do about Al Franken and confronted with a question about Bill Clinton, she quickly aligned her positions. I don't see what role Schumer played, and I think the problem of loyalty to Bill and Hillary is that there's been too much loyalty to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and it's made a mess of the Democratic Party (not that I think Kirsten Gillibrand has what it takes to drag the party out of that mess).

So I guess I still don't get the "USED!" I think Gillibrand is trying to seem like an independent leader. I suppose Trump sees that and wants to screw up her game. She's a potential opponent for him in 2020, and he's trying to put a sticky label on her. He's trying "flunky," "lightweight," and "USED!" All of those are the opposite of what she's trying to establish for herself.

ADDED: Trump is toying with sexual innuendo. The woman is "USED!" and she "begg[ed]" and "would do anything."

Okayed Ullah, "the nephew of an American citizen... benefited from what the officials called 'extended family chain migration.'"



That's the stark photograph at the NYT. It has the notation "The photograph was provided by a city employee." I guess the city employee doesn't want a photo credit, perhaps because he was violating rules by taking that picture and/or sharing it with the press.

The NYT article — "Suspect in Times Square Bombing Leaves Trail of Mystery" — tells us that Ullah lived in the Flatlands neighborhood in Brooklyn, next door to a guy named Alan Butrico, who had a problem with him: "He used to block the driveway. His family used to block the driveway all the time." Yesterday, he blocked traffic in the subway, by detonating an explosive in the tunnel between 2 major subway lines in Manhattan.

Although that article purports to delve into the "mystery" of Okayed Ullah — and whoever "okayed" him for immigration should be delved into — it does not contain the element I'm searching for (which I heard in the NYT "Daily" podcast this morning). Ah, here it is in another NYT piece, "Bomber Strikes Near Times Square, Disrupting City but Killing None":
Law enforcement officials said the attacker, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, a motive that recalled strikes in Europe, and he told investigators that he set off his bomb in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.
So... a war on Christmas... as the right-wing talking point goes. Lefties may mull over whether the visibility of the Christian majority in the United States makes non-Christians feel like outsiders and fuels — in a tiny minority of non-Christians — the kind of anti-social reaction that occasionally manifests itself in violence.

Anyway, this idiot had little impact on the concrete space of the NY subway, but he'll have plenty of impact on thinking and talking about extended family chain migration.

"I encourage you to take a stand for our core principles and for what is right. These critical times require us to come together..."

"... to reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance," said Condoleezza Rice, speaking as "a native daughter" who "at heart, remain[s] an Alabaman who loves our state and its devotion to faith, family, and country."

Which side is she on?
It is imperative for Americans to remain focused on our priorities and not give way to side shows and antics. 
Now, she's saying "Americans," not "Alabamans," and she's using the word "imperative." That sounds like an elite outsider, lecturing. And she is an elite outsider, having got out. But she was speaking in Alabama, at the Invest in a Girl Celebration at the Von Braun Center, in Huntsville.

It's hard to tell which direction her abstraction points. It's the anti-Moore forces that have put on the "side show and antics," right? Or is Roy Moore's whole public persona a "side show" with "antics"? (I'm thinking of his 10 Commandments routine and pandering about sexual "perversion.") Maybe Rice means that both sides are distracting voters with side issues. She says "focus[] on priorities." Does that mean focus on what legislation you want Congress to pass? Or does she mean personal morality?

She continues:
I know that Alabamans need an independent voice in Washington. But we must also insist that our representatives are dignified, decent, and respectful of the values we hold dear.
Which candidate is the "independent voice"? And does that "But" mean that the one who's not the independent voice is the one who's "dignified, decent, and respectful of the values we hold dear" or is she just saying we want both things? And what are "the values we hold dear" — not dating and kissing underage girls or not aborting babies? Is Rice trying to be the master of ambiguity?

She switches to the bland value of just voting:
Please exercise your right to vote - a privilege won by the sacrifices of our ancestors. 
There's also a right not to vote. And a privilege not to vote. Many very sensible and good people believe in not voting. Some people have a religious scruple against voting,* some have the comic/distanced attitude expressed in the old line "I don't want to encourage them,"**  and some are  maintaining neutrality so that they can analyze everything better.***

Condi concludes:
Sustain the central ideals and values that make our country a beacon for freedom and justice for the sake of Alabama and for the good of the United States of America.
I think she's trying to say something without saying anything — trying to be appropriate in an elevated setting in the strange, specific state where she grew up (and Denise McNair did not).
____________________

* Wikipedia on "Religious rejection of politics":
Many Taoists have rejected political involvement on the grounds that it is insincere or artificial and a life of contemplation in nature is more preferable, while some ascetic schools of Hinduism or Buddhism also reject political involvement for similar reasons. In Christianity, some groups like Jehovah's Witnesses, the Amish, Hutterites, and the Exclusive Brethren may reject politics on the grounds that they believe Christ's statements about the kingdom not being of the world mean that earthly politics can or should be rejected.

In other religious systems it can relate to a rejection of nationalism or even the concept of nations. In certain schools of Islamic thinking nations are a creation of Western imperialism and ultimately all Muslims should be united religiously in the umma.... Likewise various Christian denominations reject any involvement in national issues considering it to be a kind of idolatry called statolatry. Most Christians who rejected the idea of nations have associated with the Christian Left.
** Some of the best comedians take this position, often with better lines than the old joke I quoted above. For example, George Carlin:
"I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don't vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain,' but where's the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote -- who did not even leave the house on Election Day -- am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created."
I know: the joke there probably is that he does vote, and you're an idiot if you don't.

*** Scott Adams has an April 2016 post on "The Value of Not Voting":
Anderson Cooper of CNN says he probably won’t vote in the coming election. He says voting would bias him when he covers political news. I agree.

I call it the joiner problem. The minute you take a side, you start acquiring confirmation bias to bolster your sense of rightness. Objectivity is nearly impossible once you commit to a team.

The way confirmation bias works is that you can’t see it when you’re in it. Other people might be able to observe the bias in you, but by definition you can’t see it in yourself. The act of voting causes a sort of psychological blindness.
I would be in this group if I weren't a longtime devotee of the ritual of voting (and maybe if, like Cooper and Adams, I didn't live in a swing state) but I do decline to decide until the time to vote arrives, and I have at least twice picked my presidential candidate as I walked to my polling place.

December 11, 2017

At the Sleeping-Dogs-Lie Café...

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... you can lie all you want or rouse yourself and tell the truth.

And you can shop at Amazon, using this special link, if you've got some shopping to do. If you're looking for a video to stream, here's the movie Meade and I just watched (for only 99¢). It wasn't really a great documentary, but how could it be, made out of reels and reels of badly shot footage of a very long bus trip that was mostly happening inside the head of a bunch of people who were in no position to show or tell us what it was like for them. Occasionally a word of wisdom seeps through, like the fact that no matter how much you believe you can, you can't pick up a saxophone for the first time and play like John Coltrane and why the bus was called "Further" rather than "Farther."

"Sexbots With Full Motion Are Closer Than You Think."

That sounds dangerous. You're making them sound like stalkers. In the next room, perhaps.

The headline is from Pajamas Media, linked by Stephen Green at Instapundit. The first comment is "Faster, please."

Full motion? Can they rape you? Can they strangle you if you rape them? What are we talking about, full motion?

As I've said before, I think someone really interested in sex would prefer some sort of virtual reality machine. A full size, human-like robot is more of an all-around companion:
It occurs to me that the preference for a robot over virtual reality reflects a longing for a real human companion. You have this human-sized, human-looking object in your home. Why would you want that? Perhaps to give the feeling you have company, someone to talk to. And it would talk to you. If it were only for sex, wouldn't virtual reality work better and seem more realistic as sex?

There are so many lonely people.... You might say: Deprive them of realistic robots so they will be forced to get out in the world and find somebody. But not everyone can do that easily (or without exploiting or manipulating another human being). I don't want to say that anyone is too old, ugly, disabled, diseased, or disagreeable to find a sex partner, but it's a big challenge for some people.

"I want greater honesty regarding judicial clerkships. Law students are often told in glowing terms that a clerkship will be the best year in their career."

"They are never told that it might, in fact, be their worst—and that if it is their worst, they may be compelled to lie to others in the name of loyalty to their judge. I also want law schools to start giving our best and brightest students accurate advice about clerkships. Students are often told that if they receive a clerkship offer from a judge, they must say 'yes' without hesitation. I cannot imagine a situation more rife for abuse. Students should feel free to say no to any judge who triggers their discomfort for any reason."

That's one of 4 proposals at the end of the compelling narrative written by Heidi Bond (AKA Courtney Milan), which is the background to "Prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski accused of sexual misconduct" (Washington Post). I had not seen Bond's full statement when I wrote about the WaPo article 2 days ago, and if the link is in there, I'm still not seeing it. I got the link from Paul Campos at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, who begins "Heidi Bond’s account of her interactions with Alex Kozinski needs to be read in full...." I agree. Please read the whole thing. It made a very different impression on me than the WaPo article... and from the things Paul Campos goes on say.

Here's Campos:
It’s important to recognize that men like Kozinski — and there are obviously a lot of them in our society — are sadists. That is, they get off, metaphorically and no doubt literally, on being cruel to people who are relatively powerless. Power, sex, domination, hierarchy, cruelty — it’s all mixed up for these guys. They are bullies and perverts, and they are everywhere.
Before taking the time to read Bond's direct account, I was inclined to say that I agree with the generality about some men, but didn't think it was fair to conclude that Kozinski belonged in that category and that we should only be saying that he might and that we only know what Heidi Bond says happened and how it made her feel. It's some evidence, and even if we take it as true, we still need to make an inference to get to Kozinski's mental state. It seemed wrong and unfair for Campos to present that inference as a known fact.

But now I want to step back from a critique of the Campos rhetoric and direct you to Bond's excellent narrative. To encourage you to read Bond, let me extract the part that relates to her career path into writing romance novels:

"If you’re going to make up an entire false identity, why would you make yourself into a shitty person?"

Key question in the tl;dr Deadspin piece, "Teen Girl Posed For 8 Years As Married Man To Write About Baseball And Harass Women."

I got there from Metafilter, which sums it up like this:
A 13-year-old girl managed to become a writer for on-line sports publications. She pretended to be a man and kept up the masquerade for eight years. During this time she harassed and insulted women on line, even getting nude photos from a few before being exposed....  
As for that question I put in the title — "If you’re going to make up an entire false identity, why would you make yourself into a shitty person?" — I've got to say that every time I've contemplated writing through an alter ego — on another blog or as a sock puppet here — the attraction was being a shitty person.

To be clear, I never wanted to do this for the purpose of engaging in bad behavior or hurting anyone in any way, and in fact, I never have created an alter ego. But to the extent that I've been interested in adopting a fictional persona as a writing experiment, I wanted to be a "shitty person."

It would be like writing a novel and creating a great villain. Who writes a novel for the purpose of showing a wonderful, saintly person? I know there are such characters in fiction, but I think novelists create them for the purpose of torturing them, so the novelist, along with his readers, are getting off on the sadism.

I'm not saying that's good. As the grand mufti said in the context of film: fiction is a source of depravity.

"Me and the wife are thinking about voting for Moore, but I just don’t like some of the things they saying about him."

Roll Call finds an Alabaman to quote.

"In the latest in a series of gestures toward modernization that would once have seemed improbable, Saudi Arabia announced on Monday..."

"... that it would allow commercial movie theaters to open for the first time in more than 35 years" (NYT).
Although satellite television and video downloads have made the ban on commercial theaters all but moot, the announcement highlights the diminishing power of the kingdom’s conservative clerics. The grand mufti, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, publicly called commercial films a source of “depravity” and opposed the opening of movie theaters as recently as a few months ago.

And opening the door to such changes raises suspenseful questions about how far they will go, beginning with the issue of what movies will be shown and how they may be censored.
I welcome the liberalization of Saudi Arabia, but I want to give the grand mufti his due: Commercial films are a source of depravity.

"I’m a human just like anybody else. I’m a man just like the other man in the stands."

"Folks in the stands was throwing beer and throwing soda, whatever. I mean, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do... I’m a human just like anybody else. I’m a man just like the other man in the stands. I’m not going to let somebody disrespect me, throw a beer on me."

From "Seahawks Game Turns Ugly As Fans Throw Food At Ejected Player" (HuffPo).

Quinton Jefferson was ejected for unnecessary roughness, and I see one fan throw one thing at him as he leaves, and he comes back out and "had to be restrained from climbing into the stands."

There's news of an explosion in the subway in NYC.

I saw the report in the NYT and turned on the TV to get some immediate, on-the-scene news. I rarely switch out of print media to watch the news on TV, but there are some events that have a live quality that makes me think I should be watching television. (I sat at my dining table reading the paper NYT on the morning of September 11, 2001). 

So I went straight to CNN — which I still imagined was the right place to encounter the live news — and there was some over-made-up lady teasing a story about how President Trump, according to The New York Times, watches TV for 4 hours a day. 

The NYT story about Trump watching TV appeared on the NYT website on Saturday, and I blogged it at 7 a.m, yesterday. So much for switching on the TV to get the news of what's happening right now!

Ironically, that NYT story about Trump watching TV says that the first thing he does in the morning is turn on CNN, which is where he goes "for news." So if he did that this morning, he turned on the TV for news and got news of him turning on the TV for news, but that news was 2 days old, and it wasn't news that he needed any news at all to know. 

Imagine turning on the TV and getting the news that you watch TV. And it isn't news, not just because you're already in the know about the fact that you're watching TV, but it's from 2 days ago. 

But back to the real news, the explosion in the NY subway. 

And why doesn't CNN have someone on the scene covering it? Maybe it does, but it wasn't the first thing I saw when I turned on the news, and I was completely disgusted by what was getting palmed off as new news — and it was only a teaser that they were going to give this old news later — so I turned it off.

The morning after the 50-year anniversary of the death of Otis Redding.

I put up a post last night, linking to a New Yorker tribute, with my own photograph from an airplane of the Madison lake where Redding's plane crashed. This morning, I'm clicking on my Otis Redding tag, because there's one thing I know is there and I want to find it. But I'm interested in all the old Otis Redding posts, and I'm going to list them here.

1. April 30, 2005 — "Songs transformed with the sex of the singer."
What songs well-known as girl songs would take on intriguing meaning sung by a guy?... The obvious actual example of this is Aretha Franklin singing Otis Redding's "Respect."... The trouble with a man singing that song is that it's a bit ugly: I make the money, so you owe me. It's the conventional arrangement. The lyrics are a bit awkward in the female re-sing. Why was Aretha giving this guy "all my money"? But we ignored that. It was the remnant of the Otis version. She sang through that and pulled out the better, female meaning through sheer force.
2. June 4, 2006 — "Convergences."
... I put in my earphones and fired up Pandora and meant to type in "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" to get to some more music like that. Mixing in the movie title ["Coffee and Cigarettes"] and influenced by that coffee I was drinking, I typed in "Cigarettes and Coffee." Pandora turned up a song I'd never heard before called "Cigarettes and Coffee" -- by Otis Redding. I wasn't meaning to listen to that kind of music but I liked it well enough.... [T]he theme [of "Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan"] this week is "Coffee," and one of the songs on the playlist was "Cigarettes and Coffee" by Otis Redding.... Bob mentions how Otis died, converging by airplane with a lake here in Madison, Wisconsin. And he plays a clip from the movie "Coffee and Cigarettes"...
3. March 4, 2007 — "It is [blank] that makes us human."

"The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people."

"As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profit that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance. As a taxpayer’s income gets much higher and moves out of those phaseout ranges, the marginal tax rates would go down. Consider, for example, a married, self-employed New Jersey lawyer with three children and earnings of about $615,000. Getting $100 more in business income would force the lawyer to pay $105.45 in federal and state taxes, according to calculations by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. That is more than double the marginal tax rate that household faces today. If the New Jersey lawyer’s stay-at-home spouse wanted a job, the first $100 of the spouse’s wages would require $107.79 in taxes....."

From "The Taxman Cometh: Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some/Certain high-income business owners would face backwards incentives; lawmakers work to bridge gap" in The Wall Street Journal (which you can get into without a subscription if start at Drudge, where it's the top story right now).

So the rich are fighting back. The effort to make the tax bill politically palatable with these phaseouts at the high end created what is either a terrible problem or the raw material to frame an argument that the phaseouts are unfair. So the rich have got the Wall Street Journal drumming up sympathy for the group that was getting less than zero sympathy. These people who needed to be deprived of a tax cut now need to be saved from radical unfairness. Or so this article says.

I don't know if this is enough to leverage the GOP in Congress to help the rich (but I've heard that's what the GOP really always wants to do). It needs a lot of political cover. The WSJ paints a vivid picture of unfairness — even for a New Jersey lawyer who makes $615,000, normally one of the least sympathetic characters on the face of the earth.

If this article is wrong, somebody better get on the task of showing why it's wrong. Who's motivated to disprove what this article says? I don't think it it would be the Democrats, who hate the tax bill and want to see the whole thing fail. And it won't be the GOP people who actually want to help the rich and don't like the phaseouts. It might be someone who wants the big tax cut and also wants to make sure the rich don't get it — which could be someone who simply believes that for GOP to prevail in the next 2 elections, it must deliver a tax cut that does not hand the Democrats the argument that the GOP gave a big tax cut to the rich.

Aging... at the NYT.

Screen shot from an inner page at the NYT — "Things I’ll Do Differently When I’m Old" — with the comments open and showing the highest-rated comment at the top (click to enlarge):

December 10, 2017

"Fifty years ago, on December 10, 1967, a private plane carrying Otis Redding and the members of his touring band stalled on its final approach to the municipal airport in Madison, Wisconsin..."

"... and crashed into the waters of Lake Monona, killing all but one of the eight people onboard.... When he came up, in 1962, he was a completely unschooled performer who stood stock still onstage as he sang the pining, courtly ballads that brought him his first success. Over time, however, as his repertoire broadened to include driving, up-tempo songs, Redding found a way to use his imposing size and presence as a foil for his heartfelt emotionality, eschewing the conventions of graceful stagecraft in favor of a raw physicality that earned him comparisons to athletes like the football star Jim Brown. Marching in place to keep pace with the beat, pumping his fists in the air, striding across stages with a long-legged gait that parodied his 'down home' origins, Redding’s confident yet unaffected eroticism epitomized the African-American ideal of a 'natural man.'... And then he was no more. Redding’s sudden death thrust him into the ranks of a mythic group of musical performers that included Bix Beiderbecke, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Charlie Parker, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, and Redding’s own favorite, Sam Cooke––artists whose careers ended not only before their time but in their absolute prime, when there was every reason to expect that their finest work was yet to come...." — Jonathan Gould (The New Yorker).

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If Roy Moore wins, says David Brooks, Republicans are "for a generation...repulsive" and "repulsive to people of color forever."



Brooks gets awfully grandiose and contemptuous (on "Meet the Press" today), especially at the end when he tells Republicans "you end up, not only making yourself unpopular but sort of corrupting a piece of yourself... There is no end to what they are going to be asked to tolerate, and that is just, internally, so corrosive."

Does a win by Roy Moore really mean all that? Why can't it just mean that the voters of Alabama — deprived of these allegations (about old events) until after the primary — were stuck with a choice between a particular, possibly morally flawed Republican who would represent them in Congress by voting for the policies they want and a Democrat who might be less morally flawed but would vote against the policies they want, and they voted according to their policy choices and not as a judgment on the morality of the man?

If Roy Moore's opponent wins, I would expect Democrats to exult at the fabulous new political opportunity and even to laugh openly at the Alabamans (who will be on the receiving end of contempt no matter what they do).

And I do not believe that after this election there's going to be any great shift to voting based on which candidate is more moral. I watched the Sunday shows this morning. All that cheesy emoting in the Theater of Sanctimony. Such scenery chewing! Especially by Brooks.

Isn't he too a sinner?

On the morning bakery run...

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... we found lots of stuff to love.

Enjoy the open thread.

And please use this link — which is also always in the sidebar — if you feel the urge to shop at Amazon. Here are some cookie cutters in different sizes, for making "gingerbread children" and "gingerbread parents."

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Don't even ask what I was playing on YouTube that made it serve this up...

... but I love the lighthearted jaunty feeling:



Oh, I'll tell you what I'd been playing. It was "Charmaine," by The Harmonicats:



That's something I used to like to play (with hippie irony) in 1969 at a diner in New Jersey that had individual jukeboxes built in at every booth table. I'd forgotten about those things but the old memories came back to me suddenly when I saw a picture (on Facebook) of somebody eating at a table at Outback that had a digital device built into the table. It wasn't for music, but for ordering food. So I went looking for "Charmaine." (Hey, isn't that the music that's playing during "medicine time" in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"? (a 1975 movie and not the source of my belief that it was funny to play that song in the diner).)

But back to The George Shearing Quintet. You may remember that I listened to an entire The George Shearing Quintet album and blogged about it back in 2013:
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this music, even as I remember feeling perfectly annoyed at my father for listening to something that seemed so inanely smooth and pleasant....

I expected this album to be Muzak — schmaltzy, embarrassing junk. But it was detailed and crisp, and I asked the spirit of my father to forgive me for my deafness to the things that he loved.
It's so funny that I've stumbled into the topic of Muzak, because twice in the past week, I've expressed the opinion (to Meade) that I think Muzak will be the piped in music in the future. It makes you feel calm and happy (as long as you let it!) and public places are going to want to exclude music with lyrics, because — more and more — people will come to feel that song lyrics are sexual harassment. Too many stray "I want your body" lyrics.

Should Justice Ginsburg at least explain why she does not recuse herself in the travel ban case?

Lawprof Ronald Rotunda — in a WaPo op-ed — says that she should.
We already know what Ginsburg thinks of the president. She told us more than a year ago that she “can’t imagine what the country would be . . . with Donald Trump as our president.” Facing criticism for her apparent endorsement of Hillary Clinton and her attacks on Trump, Ginsburg doubled down, emphasizing in a CNN interview: “He is a faker.” She then went on “point by point, as if presenting a legal brief,” the CNN analyst said.

Her statements are particularly troubling in the context of the travel ban case, in which the crucial issue — at least, according to the lower courts and the plaintiffs — is the personal credibility of Trump and whether he delivered his executive order in good faith — in other words, whether he is faking it....
This reminds me most of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, watching the election results at a party on November 7, 2000, as described (on Christmas Eve, 2000) by Michael Isikoff in Newsweek, :
[S]urrounded for the most part by friends and familiar acquaintances, she let her guard drop for a moment when she heard the first critical returns shortly before 8 p.m. Sitting in her hostess's den, staring at a small black-and-white television set, she visibly started when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Al Gore. "This is terrible," she exclaimed. She explained to another partygoer that Gore's reported victory in Florida meant that the election was "over," since Gore had already carried two other swing states, Michigan and Illinois

Moments later, with an air of obvious disgust, she rose to get a plate of food, leaving it to her husband to explain her somewhat uncharacteristic outburst. John O'Connor said his wife was upset because they wanted to retire to Arizona, and a Gore win meant they'd have to wait another four years.
Not long after that outburst, O'Connor participated in the Bush v. Gore litigation. Should she have recused herself?

Ah, here's a Washington Post piece by Aaron Blake from the summer before the 2016 election, talking about whether Ginsburg should have to recuse herself:
It's not clear that there is any real precedent for what Ginsburg just did.

Then-Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was criticized by some in 2000 after Newsweek reported her saying, "This is terrible," at an election-night watch party after Florida was prematurely called for Al Gore. Some argued that she should have recused herself from Bush v. Gore.
In some ways, what O'Connor did seems worse, since she revealed a personal interest in seeing Bush elected (though she did not retire until after he was re-elected). But Rotunda identifies a special problem with Ginsburg's indiscretion: The case may turn on whether to trust Trump about whether the purported reason for the ban is the real reason. She's asked to decide if it's real or fake, and she called Trump a faker.

Drudge attributes superhuman powers to Trump.



Too mean? How hurt is she? Not that hurt:
Looks like i have an acute facet (spinal joint) dysfunction. I got compressed on the 6th gate and my back seized up. Rested and had a lot of therapy tonight. We will see how I feel tomorrow and then decide if I will race....
What did she say about Trump? Asked if she'd do the traditional visit to the White House after the Olympic, she'd said "absolutely not." Later, she clarified: "I was asked my opinion and I gave it. I mean, it's not necessarily my place to be sticking my nose in politics, but as an athlete I do have a voice." She also said that at the Olympics she would "represent the people of the United States, not the president." She didn't mention Trump, but she did say she admired Colin Kaepernick, which the linked article (to Fox News) connects to Trump, in that Trump has tweeted about Kaepernick. But Kaepernick's protest wasn't about Trump. If I remember correctly, Kaepernick protest is about race and the police (something we don't hear much about anymore).

"How did CNN end up aggressively hyping such a spectacularly false story? They refuse to say."

"Many hours after their story got exposed as false, the journalist who originally presented it, Congressional reporter Manu Raju, finally posted a tweet noting the correction. CNN’s PR Department then claimed that 'multiple sources' had provided CNN with the false date. And Raju went on CNN, in muted tones, to note the correction, explicitly claiming that 'two sources' had each given him the false date on the email, while also making clear that CNN did not ever even see the email, but only had sources describe its purported contents... [H]ow did 'multiple sources' all misread the date on this document, in exactly the same way, and toward the same end, and then feed this false information to CNN? It is, of course, completely plausible that one source might innocently misread a date on a document. But how is it remotely plausible that multiple sources could all innocently and in good faith misread the date in exactly the same way, all to cause to be disseminated a blockbuster revelation about Trump/Russia/WikiLeaks collusion? This is the critical question that CNN simply refuses to answer. In other words, CNN refuses to provide the most minimal transparency to enable the public to understand what happened here."

Glenn Greenwald, at The Intercept, "The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened."

How does the NYT know what Trump does in his bedroom when he wakes up in the morning?

I'm reading "INSIDE TRUMP’S HOUR-BY-HOUR BATTLE FOR SELF-PRESERVATION/With Twitter as his Excalibur, the president takes on his doubters, powered by long spells of cable news and a dozen Diet Cokes. But if Mr. Trump has yet to bend the presidency to his will, he is at least wrestling it to a draw."

The article — by Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, and Peter Baker — says it's based "on interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress." But that doesn't mean every stated fact has 60 sources. Who was in the bedroom? The most logical guess is that the report comes from Trump himself:
Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day.

Energized, infuriated — often a gumbo of both — Mr. Trump grabs his iPhone.
So first he turns on the TV, watches it until he gets excited, and then he grabs his iPhone? Personally, I begin by grabbing my iPhone — oh, sometimes I just pick it up — and I read the news, probably the NYT, until feel so inspired to blog that I jump out of bed. Just kidding. I don't jump out of bed. And, really, who "jumps" out of bed in real life? But it's what everyone does in writing, just like they "grab"* their iPhone.

Anyway, I believe that when Trump wakes up, he turns on the TV and uses it to orient himself to the morning. Is he looking for something precise, like "news" from CNN, "comfort" from Fox, and "fire" from MSNBC — and in that order? "Friends suspect"! Well, I suspect some poetic license is taken there, but the reporters have deniability: They're passing along the suspicions of "friends." How many friends — all 60? What could they know of the order Trump flips through the news channels, what he's seeking on each of the channels, the feelings that actually arise — a "gumbo" of energy and fury! — and whether those feelings impel his famous fingers to the small electronic device.
Sometimes he tweets while propped on his pillow, according to aides.
Does he really tweet from the iPhone? That takes dexterity... or willingness to use speech-to-text. I never do that. I have to leap out of bed — literally hurtle myself out — to get to a real computer with a good keyboard, not just to make typing easier, but to feel better grounded in the real world. But then, I am clinging to the edge of reality in my remote outpost in Madison, Wisconsin, and President Trump, even propped on his pillow, is in the White House, and when he turns on the TV, on multiple channels, people are talking about the fact that he's in the White House. I'm sure he feels grounded. Or insane. One or the other.

But that gumbo, I want to talk about the gumbo. I know HabermanTrushBaker are using "gumbo" to mean "stew," but "stew" is well established to mean "A state of excitement, esp. of great alarm or anxiety." The OED has that meaning for "stew" going back to 1806, whereas "gumbo" only means okra, the "soup thickened with the mucilaginous pods of this plant," something mud-related, and "A patois spoken by black people and Creoles in the French West Indies, Louisiana, Bourbon, and Mauritius." Yes, metaphor can take you beyond those meanings, but why express contempt for Trump by using a word associated with black people?
Other times he tweets from the den next door, watching another television. Less frequently, he makes his way up the hall to the ornate Treaty Room, sometimes dressed for the day, sometimes still in night clothes, where he begins his official and unofficial calls.
So the man walks down the hall, possibly in his pajamas. Or what are we talking about here — "night clothes"? "Quite undress'd, with only Night-cloaths on my Head, and a loose Morning Gown wrapt about me." I'm back to reading the OED. That quote is from the 1722 novel "Moll Flanders," by Daniel DeFoe. I'm just going to picture Trump in pajamas and a bathrobe. Maybe they didn't want to say "bathrobe" because there are too many bathrobes in the news lately. (I see a Slate article from last month, "Ban Men's Bathrobes.")

Back to the NYT article:
As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress....
But that is the way they portray him in the news —  a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously. I don't need 60 insiders to explain that to me. It's an accurate picture of the media. Now, you may say, he just shouldn't watch the TV, shouldn't pay attention to media, should let media do its thing and stick to what's conventionally presidential — ignore what's being said about him.
Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals. People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.
Don't fight back. Be above it all. Remember how well that worked for George W. Bush? But that's not Trump. I can see why he uses Twitter. He's a master at Twitter, keeping the media honest (or at least looking as dishonest as it is (or might be)). Maybe you think he shouldn't stoop to things like this:

But I don't believe that sort of thing takes much time, just like I don't believe that having a muted TV running in the background for 8 hours means he's spending 8 hours watching TV.  I read Trump's Twitter feed. Some days there's nothing. Some days there is one thing. Occasionally, he spreads out and drops 4 or 5 tweets. How much time does that really take? It might save time, because instead of feeling irritated and distracted by some stupid news report (e.g., Weigel's "phony photo") and involving somebody else in doing something about it, Trump spends probably one minute typing out a tweet. Efficient, effective. The media would, I'm sure, prefer to filter his message through their own template, replete with naysayers and qualifications. But Trump leaps over the media. He springs. He vaults.

Yes, yes. Excalibur. I haven't talked about Excalibur....
__________________

* "Grab" is an evocative word in anti-Trumpiana, because of "Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything."

"The huntresses’ war cry — 'believe all women' — has felt like a bracing corrective to a historic injustice."

"It has felt like a justifiable response to a system in which the crimes perpetrated against women — so intimate, so humiliating and so unlike any other — are so very difficult to prove. But I also can’t shake the feeling that this mantra creates terrible new problems in addition to solving old ones. In less than two months we’ve moved from uncovering accusations of criminal behavior (Harvey Weinstein) to criminalizing behavior that we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish (Glenn Thrush). In a climate in which sexual mores are transforming so rapidly, many men are asking: If I were wrongly accused, who would believe me? I know the answer that many women would give — are giving — is: Good. Be scared. We have been scared for forever. It’s your turn for some sleepless nights.... I believe that the 'believe all women' vision of feminism unintentionally fetishizes women. Women are no longer human and flawed. They are Truth personified. They are above reproach. I believe that it’s condescending to think that women and their claims can’t stand up to interrogation and can’t handle skepticism. I believe that facts serve feminists far better than faith. That due process is better than mob rule."

This is an excellent NYT op-ed — "The Limits of 'Believe All Women'" by Bari Weiss, and I'm sorry I didn't catch it when it was first published, on November 28th. Why am I reading it this morning? Because I did a search of the NYT archive for the name "Glenn Thrush." (See it in there: "behavior that we previously regarded as presumptuous and boorish (Glenn Thrush).")

Why was I searching for the name "Glenn Thrush"? Because I remembered that the NYT reacted to the allegations about him by suspending him. (Here's the NYT announcement of that on November 20th.) Yet I see his name on  a big NYT article about Trump that went up last night "INSIDE TRUMP’S HOUR-BY-HOUR BATTLE FOR SELF-PRESERVATION/With Twitter as his Excalibur, the president takes on his doubters, powered by long spells of cable news and a dozen Diet Cokes. But if Mr. Trump has yet to bend the presidency to his will, he is at least wrestling it to a draw."

I am going to blog about that article in the next post, so please don't comment on the details of what's inside that article in this comment thread. Please pay attention to Bari Weiss's excellent op-ed, which is similar to some of what I said in my December 8th post "How the Franken & Franks resignations will, I'm afraid, end up hurting women."

The Weiss line I most wish I'd written is: "I believe that the 'believe all women' vision of feminism unintentionally fetishizes women."

And feel free to talk about how Glenn Thrush got unflushed.

ADDED: Now, I see the note at the bottom of the long article: "Glenn Thrush contributed to this article before he was suspended pending the result of an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior." So, he's still in exile.

December 9, 2017

At the Sunset Café...

IMG_3783

... you can talk about whatever you like.

Meade texted me that photo from the bike trail while I stayed warm inside.

And if you've got some shopping to do, here's the good old link to Amazon.

"It's all psychological, to a large extent, and that's what creates greatness," said Trump.

In Pensacola last night (talking about economic growth, low unemployment, and high consumer confidence).

Here's the video of the speech at C-Span, where you won't find that quote in the transcript under the video, which seems to be the hit-or-miss that is closed captioning. Go to 22:00:



I thought that was kind of profound. Reminded me of The Beatles:



"It's all in the mind, you know."

If "it's all psychological... and that's what creates greatness," then Trump can Make America Great Again if we simply believe again that it is great.



"You won't get it unless you want it/And we want it now..."

"I know he brought you into his office to show you porn, I know he made sexual innuendos to you. I know this because you told me so in DC..."

"... and you even used the words sexual harassment. You said you would warn off other women thinking of clerking for him. And if there’s a woman out there he harassed worse than you, do you really want to be pitted against her? Because that’s what it would be. I’m worried that this is what he’s asking you to do — to be the female, intelligent face of his defense and make whoever it is accusing him look like a stupid slut, and then he hopefully never has to actually address those allegations."

Wrote "fellow romance novelist Eve Ortega" to Heidi Bond, who clerked for 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and "who went on to clerk for the Supreme Court and now works as a romance novelist writing under the name Courtney Milan," quoted in the WaPo article "Prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski accused of sexual misconduct."

Bond is now saying that the judge "called her into his office several times and pulled up pornography on his computer, asking if she thought it was photoshopped or if it aroused her sexually.... One set of images she remembered was of college-age students at a party where 'some people were inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed.' Another was a sort of digital flip book that allowed users to mix and match heads, torsos and legs to create an image of a naked woman."

The "pornography" wasn't related to any legal case. I'm putting "pornography" in quotes because I don't think of photographs of a naked person as "pornography." Is this Renoir painting pornography?
It's bad — it's atrocious! — but it's not pornography. If I ask you whether you find those Renoir women sexually attractive, am I sexually harassing you? Is the workplace hostile if X lets you see that he's looking at a picture of a naked person and asks if you find that naked person sexually attractive? I mean, anybody can see from the vantage point of today that it's a bad idea to interact like that in the workplace, but I think a proportionate reaction would be to agree that we shouldn't be doing that and move forward.

A few personal footnotes:

1. I've met Judge Kozinski and like him, though I haven't seen him in a long time. I think he's more casual, freewheeling, and individualistic than most judges. In fact, what I remember most about talking to Judge Kozinski is that when he attempted to tell me how to become a federal judge, I said I didn't want to be a federal judge: it's better to be a law professor, precisely because you have more personal freedom and can express yourself in a less conventional, more individualistic style.

2. The only time I've ever watched actual pornography was in the chambers of the federal judge I was clerking for. A box of VCR tapes had been seized by the U.S. government en route to some man whose wife actually showed up in court to argue that those tapes were good for her relationship with her husband. So the videos needed to be watched to determine if they reached the level of "obscenity" within the meaning of First Amendment law. I have a vivid image of seeing "my" judge reading legal briefs next to a TV screen closeup of well-lit genitalia.

3. My idea of the meaning of "pornography" is grounded in the 1980s and early 90s when feminists set aside the concept of "obscenity" and spoke instead of "pornography," which they defined as "the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women through pictures and/or words." That idea for legislation had a lot of problems and never got very far, but the point is, it was an effort to get at the real problem of the subordination of women. I was a law professor when those things were happening and I wrote and taught about some of these subjects, and the ideas about subordination and inequality still affect what I think about claims relating to seeing pictures of people naked.

And...

Here's the Amazon page for Courtney Milan. People seem to like her books. I've never read any of them. I don't look at pornography and I don't read romance books. Just my personal preference. But I was amused by the biographical statement on that Amazon page:
Before she started writing historical romance, Courtney got a graduate degree in theoretical physical chemistry from UC Berkeley. After that, just to shake things up, she went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude. Then she did a handful of clerkships with some really important people who are way too dignified to be named here. She was a law professor for a while. She now writes full-time.
I too was a law professor for a while and now write full-time. I'm impressed by her background and her career choices, including the earlier sloughing off the lawprof persona and recreating herself as a freely expressive writer.

ADDED: Here's an article from 2015 on Heidi Bond/Courtney Milan. This seems to be from the University of Michigan Law School, presenter her as a successful alumna. We're told that her romance novels, set in the 19th century, include details about "judges, lawyers, and courts as well as epidemiological studies and complex calculus."
“Everything that happens and everything that I learn or think or feel is fair game for ending up in a book,” she says. “All these things are tools that can be used.”...
Her encounters with Judge Kozinski are part of "everything that happens," and perhaps she has used that somewhere in her writing, which sounds high-level (and I'm not going to look down my at romance novels (to the extent that I'm an art snob, it's not about sticking to the high side of the high-art/low-art distinction)).

Bond/Milan also seems to have done very well financially:
In early 2014, Yahoo Finance ran a story featuring Bond among a handful of other writers with the headline: “These Romance Writers Ditched Their Publishers for E-Books-and Made Millions.”

“Some of the most exciting entrepreneurs in the U.S. today aren’t hoodie-wearing app developers,” the article says, “they’re women writing books for women and making millions in the process.” The article quotes Bond as one of the pioneering authors who decided to stop selling her books to mainstream publishers and instead launch her novels independently. The result yielded more control over what she was producing while successfully targeting e-book readers who wanted to buy digital copies of books often for less money and more frequently than traditional publishing could produce them....