April 21, 2018

"Remember that kid in school—every school has at least one—who everyone tolerated but never really liked, who was more concerned with adhering to and obeying the rules than understanding the reasons for them..."

"... and who self-righteously prided themselves on reporting everything to the nearest teacher they could every time? The kids who always seemed to end up 'in charge' of small-authority things like the A/V equipment, hall monitors, or street crossings, who immediately lorded their 'authority' when doing their 'jobs,' who invariably ended up wearing their 'uniforms' (vests or badges or whatever) literally everywhere they went, and who started virtually every sentence with, 'Well, as a hall monitor, I think...' If they never grow out of that attitude, they grow up to be James Comey."

That's the top-rated comment at a Jezebel article by Ellie Shechet titled "On James Comey's Book Tour, America's Daddy Complex Gets a Pacifier." Shechet herself has this line:
Comey, whom Trump recently dubbed the “worst FBI director in history,” is a center-right believer in the innate goodness of America’s law enforcement institutions, and possesses the affable demeanor of a little league coach, or a generic provider-type leaning casually over a barbeque in an Old Navy commercial. If I were to write a script for a movie about the life of James Comey, which I would find unpleasant, it would include wholesome lines like “These brussels sprouts are delicious, Patrice,” and “Say hi to your mom and dad for me, kiddo.”
Shecet's point (of course) is that Trump is so awful that this kind of bland mediocrity seems attractive now, and that is very different from what the commenter expressed. The commenter's attitude is closer to mine, perhaps because I've been instinctively resisting anti-Trump hysteria. And also the idea that Comey "possesses [an] affable demeanor" does not resonate with me at all. I think he seems hostile and cranky but capable of maintaining a robotically calm game face.

"Each winter, for close to a century now, hundreds of Amish and Mennonite families have travelled from their homes in icy quarters of the U.S. and Canada to Pinecraft, a small, sunny neighborhood in Sarasota, Florida."

"Arriving on chartered buses specializing in the transportation of 'Plain people' from areas such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, they rent modest bungalows and stay for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. It’s vacation.... [W]ithout barns to raise or cows to milk or scrapple to prepare, the typically stringent rules of Anabaptist life are somewhat suspended in Pinecraft.... Earrings, usually forbidden, can be seen glittering from beneath white bonnets, and houses are outfitted with satellite dishes. Horses and buggies are nowhere to be seen, but adult-sized tricycles abound. Swimming, volleyball, and shuffleboard are encouraged; ice-cream cones are a nightly ritual."

"Where the Amish Go on Vacation" is a colorful photo essay at The New Yorker.

I'm interested in:

1. The Amish, who seem to have pared down their lives to the essentials, still maintain a need to travel. Is it because travel is essential (in a way that applies to all or us) or because their lives are so restricted that they have a special need for periodic variation?

2. How do people who keep horses and cows ever leave their farm? Is it easier for the Amish, because there's a system of covering for each other when they take these Amish vacations? When I consider getting just one dog, I think of it making travel much more difficult (but perhaps that's because I'm pretty averse to travel, and I need to worry that if I added a strong anti-travel factor to my life, I'd never leave home).

3. The New Yorker doesn't seem to be looking down (or up) at the Amish. Maybe you'll disagree (assuming you can get to the photographs at this mostly subscription site). It's seems to be just a subject for photography. Look, this exists. Our camera is pointed at something you're not looking at. But maybe that's my subjectivity, looking at The New Yorker.

4. One of the benefits of limiting your life is that you preserve the potential to get great pleasure from things as simple adult-sized tricycles, swimming, volleyball, shuffleboard, and ice-cream cones.

April 20, 2018

What Clinton loyalist Philippe Reines said to NYT reporter Amy Chozick: "I didn’t know I had to say it was off the record when I was inside you."

That line — which Chozick called "grossly gynecological" — is from the movie “Thank You for Smoking," and it came up in a discussion of whether a prior conversation was off the record. Chozick didn't reveal Reines's name in her new book — "Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling" — but the WaPo reviewer (Carlos Lozada) revealed it, and Reines confirms, as he gives his riposte to Jezebel:
Amy deserves credit for confessing. Because anyone who’s seen “Thank You for Smoking” knows the problem isn’t Aaron Eckhart’s language or behavior, it’s Katie Holmes’s ethics and tactics. I said it then, I’d say it again today. Oh, one more thing: she and [New York Times assistant managing editor Carolyn] Ryan should know this about my own book I’m currently writing: there are tapes. And unlike some, I don’t bluff.
I'm not someone who's seen "Thank You for Smoking," but I can understand Reines's defense and its limits. He used a line that, he wants us to see, expressed the idea: I thought we had a close relationship, and you're a bad person if you use our closeness in a way that hurts me.

The limits:

1. The movie reference would only work if he knew she was quite familiar with the movie. I don't know the answer to that. Maybe he did!

2. He's bringing up sexual intercourse metaphorically. That suggests a level of familiarity that might have existed. It might be used to intimidate a woman, but it might suggest that the woman was included in the group, more like a man, that she was in the "locker room" where sexual metaphor is freely used. It's possible that Chozick is repeating intimate talk to outsiders who don't understand the style of repartee, and her ew, gross is really quite unfair to Reines.

3. Why would the analogy work? She was a NYT reporter and he was a campaign aide. Even if Chozick achieved phenomenal access to the campaign, how could it possibly equate to his getting "inside" her? Does Reines mean to say that she tricked him into believing that she was a lover and not a real journalist and now it's wrong of her to reveal herself as someone who never really loved him?

4. How could Reines possibly have been so naive? Anyone halfway sophisticated knows what Janet Malcolm famously wrote in "The Journalist and the Murderer":
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. ...

The catastrophe suffered by the subject is no simple matter of an unflattering likeness or a misrepresentation of his views; what pains him, what rankles and sometimes drives him to extremes of vengefulness, is the deception that has been practiced on him. On reading the article or book in question, he has to face the fact that the journalist—who seemed so friendly and sympathetic, so keen to understand him fully, so remarkably attuned to his vision of things—never had the slightest intention of collaborating with him on his story but always intended to write a story of his own. The disparity between what seems to be the intention of an interview as it is taking place and what it actually turns out to have been in aid of always comes as a shock to the subject.
5. I'm just going to guess that Reines is bullshitting, playing the faux naif today, even though back at the time he meant to flummox Chozick. As for Chozick, I think she's making a power move too. She must know how devastating it is in these #MeToo times to accuse a man of sexual harassment in the workplace, which is more or less what she is doing. I think Reines is scared, but he's trying to act tough — There are tapes! I don’t bluff! She's unethical! Like Katie Holmes!

6. I love the utter tininess of this dispute. It's so Friday. Such a relief from all the Comeosity.

"The Democratic Party on Friday sued President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, the Russian government and the Wikileaks group, claiming a broad illegal conspiracy to help Trump win the 2016 election."

"The multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court says that 'In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort' to mount 'a brazen attack on American Democracy,' which included Russian infiltration of the Democratic Party computer network... The suit alleges claims that include conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, misappropriation of trade secrets, trespass and other violations of the law."

CNBC Reports.

Now that there's a lawsuit, it's time to think about counterclaims. I'd like to see what the defendants would come up with using an equally aggressive, far-reaching approach to using the courts to promote your political cause.

"Orthodox and other dox."

The word "dox" came up in the comments, here, so I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, which was useless in defining the present-day verb, but amusing on the subject of the old noun (click to enlarge):

At the Bobblehead Café...


... you can say what you want.

And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Free advice for any pol who has to visit the Holocaust Museum to prove he's not anti-Semitic: Just assume the Nazis are the bad guys in all the exhibits."

Jonathan Chait, quoted in "Anti-semitic 'Jews control the weather' DC lawmaker makes a disastrous 'conciliatory' visit to the Holocaust museum which sees him DEFEND the Nazis and then leave early" (Daily Mail).

"First Congregational Church of Oakland... has joined a small handful of like-minded congregations with a radical goal: to stop calling the police."

"Not for mental health crises, not for graffiti on their buildings, not even for acts of violence. These churches believe the American police system, criticized for its impact especially on people of color, is such a problem that they should wash their hands of it entirely," The Mercury News Reports.
“Can this actually be reformed, when it was actually created for the unjust distribution of resources or to police black and brown bodies?” [volunteer leader Nichola] Torbett asked. For her and for her fellow church members, the answer is no – the police don’t just need reform. The police need to be abandoned altogether.

The churches call their drastic approach “divesting” from policing... The project of divesting is organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a nationwide organization that tries to get white Americans working on behalf of racial justice....

“It’s a challenging ask,” acknowledged the Rev. Anne Dunlap, a United Church of Christ minister who leads SURJ’s outreach to faith communities. “It’s a big ask to invite us, as white folks, to think differently about what safety means. Who do we rely on? What is safe? For whom? Should our safety be predicated on violence for other communities? And if not, what do we do if we’re confronted with a situation, because we are, as congregations? . . . How do we handle it if there’s a burglary? How do we handle it if there’s a situation of violence or abuse in the congregation?... In the case of interpersonal violence, for the survivors as well as the perpetrators, we want to look at transformative justice... Would a punitive police and legal system actually bring us the desired outcome for everyone involved? What are our actual values? What do our traditions teach us about redemption?”
No mention of the #MeToo movement, which seems to be on a collision course. In this light, notice Torbett's rhetoric about policing "black and brown bodies." Why "bodies"? It seems that women are being called to subordinate their bodies to the even more vulnerable bodies of men — more vulnerable because the violence they encounter comes from the government. And yet it is women who are quoted in the article — Nichola Torbett and Anne Dunlap. For many many years, women were discouraged from calling the police on their men. Are we circling back to that position? How can that be, given the intensity of #MeToo?

One answer to my question "Why 'bodies'?" is that it's the rhetoric of Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Do a search the page for "body"/"bodies" on his Atlantic article "Letter to My Son/'Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage'" and you'll see what I mean.) But that simply restates the question.

What he did for love: "Maybe Trump did it all for Melania..."

Here's a far-out theory, designed to test the credulity of nearly everyone, by Martha Ross in The Mercury News.

What if Donald Trump just quite simply loves Melania?
Perhaps the 71-year-old Trump was worried his wife Melania would hear these stories and think he had cheated on her.... At least that’s the story Trump reportedly tried to tell Comey in their now heavily scrutinized conversations... With regard to the “pee tape,” Comey wrote in his book: “It bothered (Trump) if there was ‘even a one-percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true.”...

During a February 8, 2017 conversation in the Oval Office, Comey recounted in one of his memos, Trump said that Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that his country “had some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

But Trump also said that the “hookers thing is nonsense” and repeatedly told Comey he wanted the FBI to debunk the pee tape claim. His reason? Yes, Trump told Comey in a March 30, 2017 phone conversation that he was concerned that the “golden showers thing” would cast a “cloud” over his presidency. Trump insisted the claim wasn’t true, asking Comey: “Can you imagine me, hookers?”

Comey then writes in his book: “In an apparent play for my sympathy, (Trump) added that he has a beautiful wife and the whole thing has been very painful for her. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ ”...
Other evidence marshaled at the link, but I won't try your patience. Here, let's just have a quick vote:

Was it love for Melania that brought on Trump's troubles?
pollcode.com free polls

Rescue tortoise.

The 90-pound beast was found in San Diego County after it fell off a wall — "escaping a dog." The county spent $4,000 repairing its broken shell (with "screws, zip ties and denture material").

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument on the case of the Marquette polisci prof who was suspended for something he wrote on his blog.

WPR reports:
Marquette suspended [John] McAdams after he wrote a blog attacking Cheryl Abbate, a graduate student and philosophy instructor, for telling students that everybody agrees with gay rights, and there was no reason to discuss it.

Abbate was confronted after class by a student who disagreed, and in a conversation he recorded, Abbate said the student didn't have a right to make homophobic comments in her class. The student then shared the recording with McAdams, who blogged about the exchange.

McAdams included a clickable link to her contact information and personal website, and Abbate began receiving negative, threatening emails. She has since left the university.

"This is not a case about free speech, it's about safety," Marquette attorney Ralph Weber told reporters after arguments. "You don't paint a target on the back of a student — put her out in front of a hostile audience so that she can receive vile and horrific threats — and claim that that is somehow consistent with your obligations as a professional."
McAdams was represented by Rick Esenberg, of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty President, who based his argument on academic freedom: "If academic freedom means anything at all, it has to mean that he can't be fired for writing that blog post." McAdams told what was apparently an accurate story and did not threaten Abbate. You can see that Marquette's lawyer is forced to talk about how the blog post could inspire others to threaten Abbate.

After the argument, McAdams said: "Well, three justices completely savaged Marquette's lawyer... However, I need more than three votes." And McAdams says he wants to return to teaching at Marquette: "Because while I have essentially zero respect for the people who are running the place, the students are pretty good." he said.
Marquette's attorney noted that McAdams was suspended by a unanimous vote of seven of his peers on the Marquette faculty. McAdams said a process like that would always work against conservatives like him because most professors are liberal.

"Images showed cash laying out in the open, on desks, drawers, as well as wads of money stuffed in envelopes and brown bags..."

From "Newly released images show glimpse of life inside Prince's Paisley Park" at CNN Entertainment, which is too shoddy an operation to bother with the laying/lying distinction:

The investigation into Prince's death has ended — there will be no criminal charges — and the file became public, including 100s of photographs of the strange enclave where he lived, worked, and died. The photographs, not lit for publicity purposes, make the place look very sad.

ADDED: Under the "wads of money," there's a CD, "The Best of Missing Persons." This is a band I don't remember, but Wikipedia says it was an L.A. band that combined new wave and hard rock. The singer (Dale Bozzio) was married to the drummer (Terry Bozzio) and they met while working with Frank Zappa in the 1970s.
Dale's quirky voice and heavy makeup made the band a favorite on MTV in the early 1980s. Her revealing outfits played a pivotal role in moving the culture of music videos towards that of overt sexual exhibitionism.
Let's listen (and look):

AND: The other CD — harder to read, because it's upside down — is The Chambers Brothers, "The Time Has Come." And the time had come for Prince. Lyrics:
Now the time has come (Time)
There's no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I've been loved and put aside (Time)
I've been crushed by tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)
I've heard "The Time Has Come" many times. I even saw The Chambers Brothers in concert (in 1969), but never before googling the phrase just now had I associated it with Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter":
'The time has come,' the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.'

"President Trump spoke in intimate and candid terms to the former F.B.I. director James Comey about some of the most sensitive matters before the agency..."

"... including the salacious dossier detailing Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia and the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, according to Mr. Comey’s closely guarded memos. The redacted and declassified memos — running 15 pages in total, and sent to Congress from the Justice Department on Thursday night — detail a series of phone calls and encounters between the two men in the months leading up to Mr. Comey’s firing.... The memos are exacting in their specificity, including details about who was sitting where, the precise times that conversations began and their durations. In some cases, Mr. Comey shared his accounts with others immediately afterward. These details add credibility to Mr. Comey’s account of events. Mr. Trump has disputed some parts, including asking Mr. Comey to shut down an investigation into Mr. Flynn....  The three Republican chairmen... issued a joint statement Thursday night [saying that w]hile Mr. Comey 'went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation'..."

Comey Memos Provide Intimate Look Into Trump Presidency" (NYT). And here's the link to PDFs of the 15 pages of memo.

There's also an interview with Comey on the NYT "Daily" podcast, which begins with Comey openly confessing to egomania (and stressing his conscious efforts to keep it under control). From Michael Barbaro's description of the interview:
I started the interview where Mr. Comey begins his book — actually before he begins his book, in the author’s note, with a strikingly candid observation about his own personality. “All people have flaws and I have many,” he wrote. “Some of mine, as you’ll discover in this book, are that I can be stubborn, prideful, overconfident and driven by ego.”

It seemed like his decision to itemize his own shortcomings before recounting his role in the investigation of Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump over the past two years might be an acknowledgment that those flaws help explain his conduct. But Mr. Comey quickly rejected the idea that his ego had played a role in how he managed the investigation into Mr. Trump....

Mr. Comey said his ritual of writing memos about conversations with Mr. Trump began after a meeting inside Trump Tower on Jan. 6, 2017 — but not because Mr. Trump, then president-elect, had said something especially alarming. Instead, Mr. Comey said, from the very first moments of their relationship, he believed Mr. Trump could not be trusted.

"I knew it. I knew this would happen to me. They were never going to let me be president."

Said Hillary Clinton, on election night, "a couple of inches" from the face of Robbie Mook, who'd just informed her she'd lost the election, quoted in "Hillary Clinton On Election Night: ‘They Were Never Going to Let Me Be President’/A new book from Amy Chozick has revelations and rumors about a doomed campaign" (The Daily Beast).

From early on, the Clinton camp saw Trump as an enemy to encourage, Chozick writes.... “An agenda for an upcoming campaign meeting sent by [Campaign Manager] Robby Mook’s office asked, ‘How do we maximize Trump?’” Chozick writes, describing a time when the GOP primary was still crowded.

Even as Trump surged in the polls, the Clinton camp still saw him as a danger to stronger candidates rather than such a candidate in his own right, Chozick reports, so that in August 2015, “when the main GOP debate came on, everyone pushed their pizza crust aside and stared transfixed at the TV set… [Campaign Manager] Robby [Mook] salivated when the debate came back on and Trump started to speak. ‘Shhhhh,’ Robby said, practically pressing his nose up to the TV. ‘I’ve gahtz to get me some Trump.’ Robby thought Rubio would be the nominee. Podesta was bullish on Kasich. Bill and Hillary, still stuck in the 1990s, feared the Bush surname most of all.”...

April 19, 2018

"Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”

Said Chuck Schumer, who is introducing a bill to decriminalize marijuana, as reported in Vice, which doesn't mention Trump's recent statements in support of getting the federal government out of the marijuana control business.

And here's a new article in The Atlantic by Reihan Salam, "Is It Too Late to Stop the Rise of Marijuana, Inc.?/America is on the path to legalization, but as pot becomes a big business, lawmakers aren't yet wrestling with how to regulate it effectively."

A sequence of museum rooms.




Photos from the Blanton Art Museum on the University of Texas Austin campus. The picture at the right in the first photo is Andy Warhol's portrait of Farrah Fawcett. In the second and third photo, the "Blue Woman in Black Chair" is by George Segal. The brownish squares on the right of the bottom photo is "Synecdoche" by Byron Kim. The painting all the way in the back in the first photo is "Painter and Loid Struggle for Soul Control" by Trenton Doyle Hancock.

IN THE COMMENTS: FWBuff said, "Isn't that the Farrah Fawcett portrait that Ryan O'Neal fought UT for?" Ah, yes! Thanks for reminding me. Blogged on October 22, 2013:

At the Whispering Wind Café...


... can you hear the wind blow?

Whatever you're buying, try to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Apparently, it's right-wing to find the "Hotep Jesus" Starbucks reparations video hilarious.

I had no idea that I was evincing right-wingery by laughing, but now I am learning, reading "Right-Wing Media Promote An Anti-Semitic Extremist To Mock Starbucks Controversy" (at Right Wing Watch).

I thought it was kind of a Saul Alinsky/Yippie move, but I guess nothing is supposed to be funny anymore. Oh, yeah, I'm remembering I have a tag for these times — the Era of That's Not Funny.

Here's the original video — high-level comedy:

Brilliant! So much to talk about. It's really a Borat-style stunt. I assume the barista isn't playing a role but spontaneously responding to Hotep Jesus's demand for "reparations" and embodying all the empathy she's learned to show, even as she's videoed doing something that must be a firing offense, handing out free coffee.

Yes, there is something wrong with making light of reparations, but that's what makes it funny. It's transgressive. I'll group this with the story of Randa Jarrar, who extracted dark humor from the death of Barbara Bush. Oh, no! Death is super-serious. Don't laugh at death!

These are the very things we should be laughing about — death, racism — not because they aren't serious but because they are.

Help me, Randa.

"Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India. The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching..."

"... Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex. China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015, was a huge factor in creating this imbalance, as millions of couples were determined that their child should be a son.... Among men, loneliness and depression are widespread. Villages are emptying out. Men are learning to cook and perform other chores long relegated to women.... Bachelors are furiously building houses in China to attract wives, and prices are soaring. But otherwise they are not spending, and that in turn fuels China’s huge trade surplus. In India, there is the opposite effect: Because brides are scarce, families are under less pressure to save for expensive dowries... Trafficking of brides is on the rise. Foreign women are being recruited and lured to China, effectively creating similar imbalances in China’s neighbors... With the increase in men has come a surge in sexual crime in India and concerns about a rise in other crimes in both countries. Harassment of schoolgirls in India has in some towns sparked an effort to push back — but at a cost of restricting them to more protected lives...."

From "Too Many Men" (WaPo).

"Trump's 'great man' play on North Korea."

I just like the graphic. That and the fact that the writer (at Axios) has a name that is also a bird — Jonathan Livingston Seagull... I mean, Jonathan Swan.