April 24, 2017

"What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech."

An enticing headline for a column I don't agree with, by Ulrich Baer (in the NYT). He's a vice provost for faculty, arts, humanities, and diversity and a professor of comparative literature, and — as he champions excluded voices — he claims authority — funnily enough — based on his own positions of prestige:
As a college professor and university administrator with over two decades of direct experience of campus politics, I am not overly worried that even the shrillest heckler’s vetoes will end free speech in America. As a scholar of literature, history and politics, I am especially attuned to the next generation’s demands to revise existing definitions of free speech to accommodate previously delegitimized experiences. Freedom of expression is not an unchanging absolute. When its proponents forget that it requires the vigilant and continuing examination of its parameters, and instead invoke a pure model of free speech that has never existed, the dangers to our democracy are clear and present.
I don't think I have ever read 4 consecutive sentences containing as much bad writing and bad thinking. I'm a bit awestruck at the badness. I'm certainly glad that it was published. I was going to criticize it, but I think it speaks for itself. I'll just say thanks for hanging your ideas out where we can see them. I'm moving on, looking for other parameters to examine.

"BART takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, rob weekend riders."

There's surveillance video of this incident, but according to the BART spokesperson, because the people who are seen committing obvious crimes appear to be minors, the video cannot be put up on line.
The juveniles “committed multiple strong-arm robberies of bags and cell phones,” said a police summary prepared after the incident. “At least two victims suffered head/facial injuries requiring medical attention.”...

The attack was quick, police reported, and the teenagers were able to retreat from the station and vanish into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could respond.
I can't believe they won't/can't make the video available so these criminals can be caught. Is that really the law in California?

DNC Chairman Tom Perez routinely uses the word "shit" in speeches.

Politico reports:
With children on stage behind him, Perez told an audience in Las Vegas this weekend that Trump "doesn't give a shit about health care."

Perez, President Barack Obama's former labor secretary, made similar comments earlier this year. "They call it a skinny budget, I call it a shitty budget," Perez said in Portland, Maine.
And here's a shirt that's sold (for $30) on the DNC website:

Derangement syndrome.

I can't believe they think this is a good idea.

ADDED: Instapundit links to this post and says, "It was just a few months ago they were going to the fainting couches over Trump. Remember?," pointing at Hillary's "Our Children Are Watching" ad:

"Don’t Call Me a Millennial — I’m an Old Millennial."

Jesse Singal notices the old millennial/young millennial distinction. He doesn't identify with those under-29 millennials and those are the millennials that people talking about millennials tend to be talking about. I don't know why he draws the old/young line between 29 and 28, but he does.

In my day, we used to say "Don't trust anybody over 30," and I understand the sensitivity about who feels as though they're actually in your generation. I grew up as a Baby Boomer, always knowing I was a Baby Boomer, and then — rather recently — seeing Baby Boomer defined as anyone born from 1946 to 1964. Sorry, but people who were babies in the 60s never felt like Baby Boomers to me. You're talking about people who don't remember Elvis as a new and exciting phenomenon, didn't live through the Kennedy assassination, don't remember the arrival of The Beatles, never faced (or had classmates who faced) the draft, and did not learn about sex when abortion was a crime? They're not my generation.

But what are the big differences between old and young millennials?
“Early millennials grew up in an optimistic time and were then hit by the recession, whereas late millennials had their worldview made more realistic by experiencing the recession while during their formative years,” explained [social psychologist Jean] Twenge. According to Twenge, this has led to certain differences between older and younger millennials that manifest in the data. 
Jeesh. What a dreary distinction!
For example, she’s found some evidence from survey data that younger millennials “are more practical — they are more attracted to industries with steady work and are more likely to say they are willing to work overtime” than older ones. Us Old Millennials could afford to develop views on work and work-life balance that were a bit more idealistic.

Then there are smartphones and social media, which hit the two halves of the generation in massively different ways. “Unlike [Young Millennials],” wrote [Juliet] Lapidos, “I am not a true digital native. The Internet wasn’t a fact of nature. I had to learn what it was and how to use it. I wrote letters home when I was at summer camp. I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was 19.” For us Old Millennials, the social aspects of our middle- and high-school-years were lived mostly offline....
Yeah. Sounds massive all right. Millennials.

Obama speaks!

He's back, and talking to students at the University of Chicago. I haven't watched it yet, but here's the whole thing. I'll comment later if I can think of anything:

ADDED: Sorry, I cannot watch this. I'm just going to quote some things people were saying in the open thread a couple posts down. Chuck wrote:
Is anybody watching this Obama thing?... Words sort of fail me, in trying to describe what a feckless production disaster this is. It is as if Resident Director Barack Obama was meeting with all of the kids in his dorm hall. I think that they are passing the talking pillow, as they share their feelings.
And then:
I hope Althouse (Obama-voter Ann Althouse) does a post on that thing. It was hilariously bad. If she watches it, and blogs it, it will spare countless innocents from being bored into insensibility. If she does watch it, and doesn't turn it off after ten minutes...
Yeah, which is what I did.
... we will all owe her for blogging above and beyond the call of regular duties.

I read Obama's expression as, "OMG what am I doing here? Valerie is going to have hell to pay, for roping me into this..."

The disastrousness of this won't last. There is so much happening this week, and there was so little newsworthiness with Obama, that it won't even be news in a couple of hours. I'd understand, if she blew it off.
Thanks for your understanding.

3 more things from "Shattered."

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm reading "Shattered/Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign." Listening to the audio version on my walk along the lake today...


... I made a mental note of 3 words — "-splain-," "clutch," and "construction" — so I could find 3 passages in the Kindle version and quote them for you here:

1. 18% of the way into the book, we encounter the delightful word "campaign-splained": "[I]n early September 2015... the New York Times had just published a story about a coming Clinton campaign strategy shift. Hillary would 'show more humor and heart,' the headline declared.... Clinton supporters across the country read it [as] a pure what-the-fuck moment... [Susie Tompkins Buell, a big donor] scolded [Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook...  The campaign’s inability to reveal Hillary’s authenticity— and its ham-fisted effort to manufacture a false version of it — was infuriating.... Trying to placate Buell, Mook offered up [communications director Jennifer] Palmieri as a sacrifice. The large, domineering communications team was pretty much a separate shop within the operation, he campaign-splained."

2. 29% of the way in, we see this contrast between Bill Clinton and Robby Mook that makes Mook sound modern, even as we know — having watched the Sanders and Trump campaigns — it is probably even more passé than what Bill wanted to do: "[Bill] liked to go to small towns in northern New Hampshire, Appalachia, and rural Florida because he believed, from experience, that going to them and acknowledging he knew how they lived their lives, and the way they made decisions, put points on the board. Mook wanted Bill in places where the most Hillary-inclined voters would see him. That meant talking to white liberals and minorities in cities and their close-in suburbs. That was one fault line of a massive generational divide between Bill and Mook that separated old-time political hustling from modern data-driven vote collecting. Bill was like the old manager putting in a pinch hitter he believed would come through in the clutch while the eggheaded general manager in the owner’s box furiously dialed the dugout phone to let him know there was an 82 percent chance that the batter would make an out this time."

3. At 30%: "[T]he one aspect of her campaign that [Hillary Clinton] was most confident about was that none of the tribes" — The Mook Mafia, The State [Department] Crew, The Consultants, and The Communications Shop — "separately or in collaboration, had any idea how to construct a winning message for her. In her view, it was up to the people she paid to find the right message for her — a construction deeply at odds with the way Sanders and Trump built their campaigns around their own gut feelings about where to lead the country."

At the Fritillaria Café...


... come up with your own topics.

(And remember The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"A liberal blogger who wrote satirical critiques of the Maldivian government and the spread of radical Islam..."

"... died Sunday after being stabbed in the stairway of his apartment building."
[Yameen] Rasheed was best known for satirical Twitter posts and weekly posts on his popular blog, The Daily Panic, which riffed on the week’s headlines, often criticizing the government’s use of religion to appeal to the public....

Celine Peroni, Mr. Rasheed’s girlfriend, said he was “just the smartest, wittiest and sweetest person I’ve ever met.”...

“He was aware of the threats, but cautious,” she said. “He wanted the voice of the truth to be heard, despite the risks.”

With Gorsuch, will the Supreme Court take the cake?

We've been waiting and waiting to see if they'll take the cake.
So this week’s conference will be the first for Gorsuch. That fact is reflected in this week’s unusually long roll of relists, which are plentiful enough that it appears that the court may have simply rolled over the entire “discuss list” from last week’s conference. Three of last week’s relists return again, including the closely watched six-time relist and potential blockbuster Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 16-111, involving a cake decorator who refused on religious grounds to make a cake for a same-sex wedding....

"We did not want to make this pink-washed. This is not a girl’s condom."

"It’s not just like, ‘Hey, I’m the guy, I bring the condom.’ It’s people involved together making decisions for their sexual health."

Said Bruce Weiss, Trojan’s vice president of marketing, explaining a new product with "more gender-neutral purple packaging" and "a carrying case that could slip easily (and discreetly) into a purse," quoted in a NYT article titled "XOXO Campaign: Will It Spell Profit or Trouble for Condom Maker?"

The "trouble" is, we're told, that in today's "unforgiving environment,"* Trojan could get criticizes for seeming to shift responsibility onto the woman when it — like the condom — belongs on the man.

Fortunately for Trojan, the NYT extracted a quote from Naomi Wolf, who enthuses:
“It wonderfully addresses women as adults who can take responsibility, not victims of whatever the guy happens to have in his pocket or not,” Ms. Wolf said. “It addresses women as adults who are thinking about their sexual health.”
Victims of whatever the guy happens to have in his pocket — great phrase.


* E.g., the reaming given to Pepsi for seemingly trivializing Black Lives Matter

"Fire Spicer and hire O'Reilly. It would be the most fun ever."

Surfed wrote in the comments to the post about the Trump interview transcript.

Meade wrote:
I said that very thing just a few days ago. So great minds think alike. A least I've heard they do. I don't know. Maybe great minds don't think alike. But I've heard it. From great scholars. The greatest. So I'm pleased either way.
I can vouch for Meade. He really did say that. About Spicer and O'Reilly. Not about great minds thinking alike. I don't think they do. See?

By the way, recently Trump said: "I’m not firing Sean Spicer. That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in."
Trump even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera, noting proudly that his press secretary attracted nearly as many viewers....

During an intimate lunch recently with a key outside ally in a small West Wing dining room, for instance, Trump repeatedly paused the conversation to make the group watch a particularly combative Spicer briefing....
ADDED: Also in the comments on that other post and before Surfed made his proposal, EDH wrote:
Here's what I propose: Trump hires Bill O'Reilly. They set up a fake "old school" cathode ray tube TV cabinet in the Oval Office. Bill O'Reilly then does The O'Reilly Factor show live in person from inside the hollowed-out TV cabinet while Trump watches the program.

Trump asked.

Here's John Henry in the comments to the post on Trump's interview transcript:
I sold machinery for 22 years and now sell myself as a consultant. I used to read a lot of books and listen to a lot of motivational tapes on how to be a better salesman. They really do work. They helped me a lot.

If I had to pick one thing that a successful salesperson does and that the moderately or un-successful person doesn't do, it's this: ASK FOR THE ORDER!!!!!

A lot of different ways to do this and phrase this but it is amazing how many times salespeople fail to do this and then can't understand why they didn't close the sale.

So something that jumped out at me from the interview was this:
AP: Can you tell me a little bit about how that came about?

TRUMP: No, just — you know, I asked the government to let her out.

TRUMP: You know Obama worked on it for three years, got zippo, zero.

AP: How did you hear about this story?

TRUMP: Many people, human rights people, are talking about it. It’s an incredible thing, especially when you meet her. You realize — I mean, she was in a rough place.

AP: Did you have to strike a deal with (Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah) el-Sissi over this?

TRUMP: No. No deal. He was here. He — I said, “I really would appreciate it if you would look into this and let her out.” And as you know, she went through a trial. And anyway, she was let go. And not only she, it was a total of eight people.
And there was this with the Italian Primo:
TRUMP: He’s going to end up paying. But you know, nobody ever asked the question. Nobody asked. Nobody ever asked him to pay up. So it’s a different kind of a presidency.
President Trump has been a salesman all his life. You may or may not like what he is selling but he has been a master of it. He knows that the most important part of the sales process is knowing to ask for the order. Knowing how and when is important but the most important is asking.

We saw that in his campaigning style. He went out among the people and asked for the order (their vote) Loser-loser Hillary couln't be bothered. She could have had Wisconsin for the asking, probably. She didn't ask.

Ya don't ask, ya don't get.

Let's read the full transcript of Trump's interview with AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace.

Talking Points Memo put the whole thing up here. I'm cutting and pasting the whole thing before reading it, and as I read it, I'll be cutting it down to what I'm interested in blogging. That is, if you start reading as soon as I put this up, the whole thing will appear below. If you arrive at this post later, it will have been cut down to my taste, and you'll need to go to the link for the full text. I haven't read what anyone else has said about this interview, so my cut-down will show what jumped out at me.
AP: I do want to talk to you about the 100 days.

TRUMP: Good.

AP: I want to ask a few questions on some topics that are happening toward the end of the interview.

TRUMP: Did you see Aya (Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker who had been detained in the country for nearly three years) …
Trump takes control of the interview, depriving Pace of control of the narrative arc. Don't let Pace pace it. 
AP: Can you tell me a little bit about how that came about?

TRUMP: No, just — you know, I asked the government to let her out. …

TRUMP: You know Obama worked on it for three years, got zippo, zero.
He's bragging, taunting Obama, using the benevolent, suffering woman — Hijazi — as the centerpiece for his dance of triumph. 

"Marine Le Pen Is In A Much Deeper Hole Than Trump Ever Was."

Writes Nate Silver. 

Are we still hanging on the wisdom of the Nate Silver? The headline suggests he knows he has a credibility problem. (This time he really means it.) But let's look beyond the headline. There's a lot of stuff crunched over there — that's the confidence-building methodology — and here's how it ends:
There’s still some uncertainty about the outcome.... Although the polls haven’t systematically underestimated nationalist and right-wing parties, they also haven’t been all that accurate in pinning down their support, having come in both high and low in different elections. In cases since 2012 where the right-wing party polled at 25 percent or more, the polls missed the party’s actual support by an average of 3.6 percent of the vote. That translates to a true margin of error (or 95 percent confidence interval) of about plus or minus 9 percentage points. And because any vote that Le Pen gets is one that Macron won’t get, the margin of error for the gap between Le Pen and Macron is twice as large, or about 18 percentage points.

An 18-point margin of error is huge! But it still isn’t enough when you’re 26 points behind, as Le Pen is against Macron.... She could beat her polls by as much as Trump and Brexit combined and still lose to Macron by almost 20 points.
That's excitingly put and it sounds strong. As I said, confidence-building. But we're all skeptical now, aren't we? 

This was the final prediction, published on America's Election Day, at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight:

April 23, 2017

"Why Trump likes his freewheeling Oval Office schedule/The loose set-up allows friends and unofficial advisers to whisper in the president’s ear on policy issues."

Reports/speculates Politico.
That routine traces back at least to his days in real estate. "I try not to schedule too many meetings," Trump wrote in “The Art of the Deal.” "I leave my door open. You can’t be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you’ve got too much structure. I prefer to work each day and just see what develops. There is no typical week in my life.”
One thing he does is watch television. Sometimes he sees somebody on television saying something nice about him and he calls them up, invites them over. Or he just calls in his advisers to talk about what came up on the TV news.
"Number one, he's lonely. It's part of why he's reached out to me," said one confidante of the president who Trump has contacted many times by phone since taking office. "He's always been a creature of routine."
Creative/lonely... who knows? The man is an enigma, an enigma who watches TV and talks about the shows. 

I decided after all to read "Shattered."

I'm 16% of the way into the book that goes "Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign." (I know the percent because I'm reading it on Kindle (in combination with the "whispersync'd" audio version, useful when walking around).)

I just wanted to quote 3 things:

1. At the 5% mark, the unholy mess: "The campaign was an unholy* mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose. No one was in charge, and no one had figured out how to make the campaign about something bigger than Hillary. Muscatine felt that the speech said nothing because it tried to say too much."

2. At the 9% mark, Huma, the croc-filled moat: "[Huma Abedin] had the final say on where Hillary went and who had access to her. Rather than just being a gatekeeper, Abedin took on the role of channeling Hillary for the rest of the campaign... That made her indispensable to both the candidate and the rest of the team... But many feared speaking their minds around her. She couldn’t be counted on to relay constructive criticism to Hillary without pointing a finger at the critic. If Hillary was a candidate often isolated from her formal campaign — and she was — Abedin was the croc-filled moat encircling her. The Royal Huma Guard made it harder for Hillary’s senior- and midlevel aides to get time with the candidate, and that made it impossible to really know the woman they were selling."

3. At the 14% mark, the Brianna/Bianna screwup: "In May [2015], as Bernie was starting to campaign in earnest and it was becoming clear that the press wouldn’t let the e-mail story go, Hillary’s aides began planning her first national television interview of the campaign, a chance to strike back at the widely held perception that she was hiding from the press. Palmieri asked Abedin to find out which newscaster Hillary would prefer, and the answer that came back was 'Brianna.' That meant CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and Palmieri worked to set up a live interview on CNN. Only it turned out that Hillary had said 'Bianna'— as in Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo! News, the wife of former Clinton administration economic aide Peter Orszag. By the time the mistake was realized, it was too late to pull back. Hillary went through with the interview on July 7, and it was a disaster." Here's what her own people perceived as a disaster:


* The use of the word "unholy" to just mean awful or dreadful interested me. I wondered how long that completely nonreligious application of the religious-seeming word had been around. The OED finds the first published use in a letter written by Charles Dickens in 1842: "I am reminded of my promise to see to the Pantomime, and am called out at this unholy hour." A similar word is "ungodly," first recorded in the nonreligious meaning in a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Olalla" (1887)(whole text here):
I went to bed early, wearied with day-long restlessness, but the poisonous nature of the wind, and its ungodly and unintermittent uproar, would not suffer me to sleep. I lay there and tossed, my nerves and senses on the stretch. At times I would doze, dream horribly, and wake again; and these snatches of oblivion confused me as to time. But it must have been late on in the night, when I was suddenly startled by an outbreak of pitiable and hateful cries. I leaped from my bed, supposing I had dreamed; but the cries still continued to fill the house, cries of pain, I thought, but certainly of rage also, and so savage and discordant that they shocked the heart. It was no illusion; some living thing, some lunatic or some wild animal, was being foully tortured...

Fritillaria, redbud, serviceberry.




All photographed by Meade — and grown by Meade.

At the Tulip Café...


... it's a place to talk about the subjects that haven't been offered up for conversation so far here at Althouse, a blog you can help support by using The Althouse Amazon Portal. (But don't buy a leaf blower! All you need is a broom. And a rake.)

"How can anyone barbecue with the smell of meat near political prisoners fighting for their country?"

"Torturing" hunger strikers.

"Their cleverest scene together is the one in which Benjamin asks Mrs Robinson if they can't, for once, talk about something."

"Conventionally, that would make him the 'sensitive' one - the one who wants a meaningful relationship, rather than just uncomplicated rutting. But it comes across as cruel and heartless: He's too insensitive to sense her vulnerability, and too uncaring to try to figure it out. So, even in the New Hollywood, Benjamin is a traditionalist - opting for romance and conversation over sex and compartmentalization. Mike Nichols' genius was in finding the sweet spot where edgy sells, providing you smooth out all the rough stuff."

Writes Mark Steyn (on the occasion of the return of "The Graduate" to theaters on its 50th anniversary). (Can you see it in Madison? Yes. But only at 2:00, and it's a beautiful, warm day here. To go to the movies this afternoon would be like taking Elaine to a strip bar, no?)

"When it comes to really bad ideas, the leafblower ranks right up there with adding lead to gasoline and using CFCs in aerosols."

"Leafblowers are diabolical machines. Even if the claims their promoters make for them were true, the damage leafblowers do outweighs such meager benefits by many, many orders of magnitude."

ADDED: Here's an article written in a more sober style, "On Banning Leaf Blowers" (in the NYT):
Most landscapers use leaf blowers with two-stroke engines, which are light enough to carry but produce significant exhaust and noise. The gas and oil mix together, and about a third of it does not combust. As a result, pollutants that have been linked to cancers, heart disease, asthma and other serious ailments escape into the air....

United Airlines must be really glad that this American Airlines character got caught abusing a passenger.

"American Airlines flight attendant 'whacks a mother in the head with a metal stroller while she holds her twin babies and reduces her to tears' - then is filmed challenging a passenger to a FIGHT and yelling 'hit me!'"

A social force has been unleashed and who knows where it will end? The passengers feel empowered and feisty, and the flight attendants cannot maintain peaceful order within their sweet, smiling persona anymore. The iPhones are ready to record video that MSM and social media snap up and viralize.

The airlines try to compartmentalize: It's just United. It's just this one rogue flight attendant. I don't think so. I think this is the new normal: Passengers in rebellion and flight attendants in over their head.

I scan the French election headlines.

1. Simon Heffer in the U.K. Telegraph writes under a headline that seems internally contradictory: "France is resigned — Marine Le Pen may win." So there's this collective entity, "France," and it's having an election, which is a means of choosing what it wants. What's to be "resigned" about, if it's getting what it wants? I can't read the whole column because I don't have "premium" access, so I'm forced to guess. It could mean that the "France" that matters — the elite, the good people — don't want Le Pen, but this other France that doesn't deserve to be called "France" is choosing her. But it might mean that the run-off style of choosing ensures that Le Pen will get through to Round 2 and her opponent will not present an adequate not-Pen choice, so she might win even though she's opposed by a solid majority. It could be kind of like the way Trump won, jazzing up about a third of the electorate, then only having to beat an opponent who was, at best, uninspiring.

2. Kenneth Rapoza in Forbes, "In France, If Le Pen Cracks 30% 'She Could Win It All.'"
"I'm not ready to make a call yet on a Le Pen victory," says Vladimir Signorelli, founder of Brettonwoods Research in Long Valley, NJ. Brettonwoods correctly called the Trump win. "I've been telling my clients that if she gets over 30% of the vote on Sunday, she has a good chance to win it all. She will make it to the second round and when she does, all she needs is roughly a third of the remaining votes from the other candidates who didn't make it," says Signorelli.

Scandal-plagued Republican candidate, Francois Fillon, is rising in the ranks at the last minute with around 19% today. Melenchon has about the same percentage. There are more similarities with Fillon and Melenchon to Le Pen than there [are] to Macron. This does not bode well for Macron....

Brettonwoods Research also suspects a 3% to 4% under-representation of support for Le Pen in the polls, based on past polls that just missed Brexit and Trump....
3. Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, "Democracy’s dyin’, who’s got the will? What France’s election tells us about the state of modern discontent/With the left facing disarray and defeat amid a new age of revolution, it's time to ask: Is democracy over?" This is a phenomenon I've been following since the Wisconsin protests. (The side that had just lost the election laid siege to the state capitol building and chanted "This is what democracy looks like.") What makes left-wingers think that when they lose, there's no democracy? There seems to be a delusion that they embody the people, so the actual voting by people is a failure of democracy if the stupid people bumble into voting for the right. I'm just riffing on the headline. Is that what O'Hehir says? He writes: "I see a bunch of people on both sides of the Atlantic desperately trying to pretend that democracy isn’t broken and may yet yield an acceptable and/or 'progressive' outcome." Ha! I think I'm right!

4. Unnamed writer at Fox News, "France election: Marine Le Pen sees Trump-like boost in support, but victory far from assured." What's the "boost" and why is it like Trump? Trump didn't get a terrorist attack on the eve of the election. What's Fox News blabbering about? This is the kind of incoherence you get when you want to use multiple ideas and don't have a way or don't take the trouble to weave it together. I suspect Fox News of being committed to throwing Trump into the story because they think it's too hard for American readers to care about France unless it's about us, and they say one thing and then another and don't think the readers will notice if the statements don't make sense together. Maybe they think it will be good because it's "Trump-like." Isn't that the way Trump does those speeches some people like so much?

5. Nikita Vladimirov at The Hill, "Ex-Obama aide [Ben] Rhodes: Le Pen victory in France would be 'devastating.'" Oh, this is one of those articles that just takes somebody's tweet pumps it into an article. The tweet is embedded and then the text quotes the tweet and there's a bit of filler to make it look as though it's something more than just the tweet. My take for that species of fake news is: MSM reports what's in social media.

6. JTA in Forward, "Should France’s Jews Leave If Le Pen Wins Elections?" The question is apropos of Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar's statement: "If Marine Le Pen is elected president of France, the Jews must leave." Lazar also said: "Putin was the first president to publicly speak out against anti-Semitism and did the most for the Jews in Russia. There is no institutional anti-Semitism in Russia."

April 22, 2017

Fuzzy, purple.


"What has happened over the last 10 years, Newton has got more affluent, more two-family houses, not as many people do their own lawn care, and more and more landscapers coming into neighborhoods."

"It’s not just one landscaper, once a week. It’s one comes, then it’s 20 minutes later another one."

Banning leaf-blowers in Newton, Massachusetts. It was hard — harder than raising taxes — but they did it.

I wish they'd do it here in Madison.

"I intend to return Berkeley to its rightful place as the home of free speech — whether university administrators and violent far-left antifa thugs like it or not."

"I will bring activists, writers, artists, politicians, YouTubers, veterans and drag queens from across the ideological spectrum to lecture, march and party."

Says Milo Yiannopoulos (and he won't say who's inviting him or backing him).

At the Daffodil Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And you can help support this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"So the guy in charge of 'Greek' life on campus is worried about cultural appropriation?"

My favorite comment on a WaPo column (by Catherine Rampell) titled "A fraternity was told it was ‘appropriating culture.’/Administrators won’t say which."

I think it's actually pretty clear what the appropriation was. The fraternity was doing a badminton-based fundraiser and it called it "Bad(minton) and Boujee." There's a rap song "Bad and Boujee" and "boujee" is a distinctive spelling of the shortened form of "bourgeois" that's used as an insult and more commonly spelled — if anybody tries to write it — "bougie." The spelling "boujee" is actually good because it's phonetic and it keeps people from pronouncing it "boogie," which actually is a racial slur!

Here's the OED entry for the noun "boogie":
U.S. slang. offensive.

A derogatory term for an African American.

1923 Confessions of Bank Burglar vii. 40 Three coons came into the barn..the three of them took a drink and then put the bottle in the hay... At noon the ‘boogies’ came in for another shot.
1925 Flynn's 1 Aug. 572/1 One of the cops..caught two boogies. We picked up the two hard-lookin' young negroes.
1925 Flynn's 1 Aug. 572/1 The boogie jus' got up and grinned.
1937 E. Hemingway To have & have Not iii. xiv. 205, I seen that big boogie there mopping it up.
Anyway, the spelling "boujee" is associated with black people, especially when used in connection with the rap song title. Here's the video of the song. Once you've watched that, you'll have to stoop to faux naivety to act like you don't know what the university was talking about. It's a separate question whether cultural appropriation is bad and whether it's something universities should patrol and how clearly they need to speak when they do.

Anyway, I'm just getting up to speed on the word "boujee," and I found a helpful blog post by Damon Young at Very Smart Brothas, "THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOUGIE, BOUJEE, AND BOURGIE/BOURGEOIS, EXPLAINED." Excerpt:
Bougie Black people are mostly urban, have completed some form of secondary education, and, most importantly, possess and are mindful of a certain urban/educated aesthetic. These are the people discussed and deconstructed in my Shit Bougie Black People Love series....

Anyway, Boujee describes the type of nouveau/hood rich that would totally, definitely cook up some dope with an Uzi.* They may have even made more money last year than their Bougie and Bourgie/Bourgeois counterparts, but the IRS would never, ever, ever know.


* That's a reference to the lyrics to the song "Bad and Boujee": "My bitch is bad and boujee/Cookin' up dope with an Uzi."

ADDED: The word pronounced boujee or bougie seems to have originated in speaking about black people. The first printed examples — according to the (unlinkable) OED — were spelled "bourgie" (showing the connection to the word "bourgeois" more clearly). The OED defines this word as "slang (chiefly U.S., orig. in African-American usage). Chiefly depreciative... A person, esp. an African-American, regarded as bourgeois or middle-class, or as exhibiting characteristics attributed to the middle class, such as conventionality, materialism, or pretentiousness." Example:
1968 Negro Digest Nov. 64/2 Instead of recognizing differences among members but valuing the common cause, individuals will begin to call some people ‘Uncle Toms’, ‘bourgeois’ or ‘bourgies’, conservatives, foot-shufflers, black Caucasians and a variety of other uncomplimentary names.
It was also an adjective, again, "Originally used chiefly of and by African Americans." Example:
1968 Ramparts 26 Oct. 29/1 Silly-ass Kenneth Freeman..said some bull crap about ‘Huey P. Newton come from a bourgie family.’

The problem with mocking McDonald's "soul-crushing uniforms for our modern dystopia."

AV Club is snarking about the new gray-on-gray outfits:
The new looks will be distributed to all 14,000 of its U.S. locations beginning this month, their total elimination of distracting colors facilitating the orderly consumption of beef discs and potato sticks by an estimated factor of 40 percent, under the watchful eye of Commander McCheese.

Still, lest you think their monochromatic drabness somehow runs counter to the notion of that all-important individuality, McDonald’s points out that its uniforms also include a denim apron that “may be worn full or as a half apron to fit restaurant employees’ personal style.” Personally, I don’t know that I would trust some insouciant, half-apron rebel to hand me a Serenity Meal. But leaving that up to the manager’s discretion is what makes McDonald’s the industry leader in acknowledging that free will has not yet been totally eradicated.
And I'm seeing this at Gizmodo (with photos):
To me, [the new uniforms] invoke a very Logan’s Run future. But mandatory gray-on-gray with a dash of black is pretty much universally recognized as the standard uniform for bleakest of futures... Or, if you prefer, maybe it’s a bit more Hunger Games... Or if you want something even more recent, how about Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale?
Here's my problem. They are not thinking from the perspective of the the people who work at McDonald's. They're talking about how they feel as customers who are used to seeing McDonald's workers in garish colors that scream I work at McDonald's. I think it's obvious from the company's press release that they are trying to be more respectful to the employees, who feel conspicuous or embarrassed when traveling to and from work and who want to blend in with other people who work at other kinds of jobs. The respect — expressed through restrained gray-on-gray uniforms — is not soul-crushing except in the mind of the people who are not wearing those uniforms.

AV Club surrounds quotes from the press release with efforts at humor that in fact reveal its I don't work at McDonald's snobbery:
“Individuality is important to McDonald’s restaurant employees,” McDonald’s says in a press release, charitably recognizing that many of its workers are separate entities from their stations, some even boasting identities and interests that go well beyond operating deep fryers. As such, the company partnered with designer Waraire Boswell to create these fun, flirty, uniquely gray-on-gray uniforms that can provide an “easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment,” where they may engage with their fellow civilians in more casual discussions of deep-frying techniques.
It's AV Club that is failing to see the humanity of the employees. The phrase "easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment" implies that the company knew that the garish orange uniforms made it difficult for employees as they commuted to and from work, perhaps picking up and dropping off their children or doing errands or wanting to do things with friends before getting home and changing into street clothes. The new uniforms are more like ordinary clothes and they make it possible for restaurant workers to blend in with other people. That only translates to "soul-crushing" to people who feel sure they won't have to work in a fast-food restaurant.

The new gray-on-gray uniforms are actually sensitive to the well-being of McDonald's employees.
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Donald Trump Jr. shoots dogs — prairie dogs.

He's going to Montana to help Greg Gianforte with his campaign for the U.S. House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke (the new Secretary of the Interior). Gianforte is reveling in the the occasion:
"As good Montanans, we want to show good hospitality to people. What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?"
That's quoted at Yahoo News, where the headline says there's "backlash." Backlash at taking out plague-ridden vermin? Who is backlashing?
[P]rairie dogs are also listed as a species of concern by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks because their numbers have declined and because of threats like disease.
They carry disease. The disease is bubonic plague! Isn't this a concern that supports culling them?
More than 100 other animals depend on the prairie dog as food or move into the burrows they dig, said Lindsey Sterling Krank, the organization's director for its Prairie Dog Coalition. Now is the time year when prairie dogs are still nursing their new offspring, meaning hunters who shoot lactating females are condemning the pups to starvation, Sterling Krank said.

"I would love to take Donald Trump Jr. out with a spotting scope and shoot the prairie dog with our cameras," Sterling Krank said. "Shooting a prairie dog colony is not a good conservation message."

Gianforte, whose campaign has focused on gun rights, dismissed the organization's concerns. "Clearly they've never shot a prairie dog," he said. "They don't know how much fun it is."
The lines are drawn. Montanans will vote and get the Congressperson they want. I'll just say I love the name Lindsey Sterling Krank. Oh! I see I've said that before...
... the director of the Prairie Dog Coalition, an "environmental scientist," with the sublimely perfect name Lindsey Sterling Krank....
That was back in 2015, in the context of Boulder, Colorado's Naropa University, which had a big prairie dog colony on land where it wanted to put up some new buildings.
"All of sudden it was, 'The Buddhists want to kill the prairie dogs,' but we had no intention of killing them," said [Naropa spokesman Bill] Rigler, who isn't a Buddhist. "The very act of applying for a [lethal control] permit triggers an open comment period, which gives everyone the opportunity to say, 'I have a site for relocation,' or put forward other ideas."
I wonder how that dispute worked out? Did the Buddhists give in to the dogs?

"Animals have no place in art."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote to the artist who sat — for 23 days in a Paris art museum — on a nest of chicken eggs until they hatched.
"There is nothing to celebrate in the birth of this chick born alone in a museum," the organisation said in an open letter to the artist. Considered merely as a part of an 'artistic' performance, it will never meet its mother. ...."
What do you think of PETA's criticism of the "human hen" artist?
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"Here’s the deal breaker with the Republican Party. And the deal breaker is, 'You mess with my community... you don’t give us equality and a fair shot, I’m coming after you.'”

Said Caitlyn Jenner.

When dead columnists tell state governors which prisoners Jesus would pardon and a governor follows the prodding from beyond the grave...

Is there outrage at a flyover state's governor's embarrassing delusion, inability to maintain the separation of church and state, and outrageous approach to doling out special treatment to prisoners?

No! Because it's not a flyover state. It's New York. It's Governor Andrew Cuomo. And the prisoner was part of a famous incident in the history of American radicalism.

I'm reading — in the NYT — "Judith Clark, Getaway Driver in Deadly Brink’s Heist, Is Denied Parole/The decision came despite a commutation by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Ms. Clark, 67, who was convicted in a 1981 crime in which a guard and two police officers died."

Here are paragraphs 2 and 4:
Speaking at the funeral of the former Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin in March, he went further.

“It was a hard political decision,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I could hear Jimmy’s voice saying, ‘She made a mistake — we all do. She learned, she paid the price, she spent her life in a cage, and she is now different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus?’”
Cuomo had the power to order her immediate release, but chose a lesser exercise of power, which only made her eligible for parole and left it to the parole board to decide whether she'd get out.

Was Jimmy that specific about how Jesus would handle the case? Was Jesus?

The linked article includes a recent snapshot — supplied by Clark's daughter — of Clark posing — I'm not kidding — with 2 Labrador Retrievers.

From the article's description of the murders:
[In a 2012 interview, Clark] said that as a new mother, she was nervous about the plot, but she agreed to be the getaway driver, fully aware of what she was doing. As she sat in a car in a parking lot of a mall in Nanuet, her associates approached the Brink’s van. Gunfire erupted. One guard was killed; another was left in a pool of blood.
"Gunfire erupted" is a classic hiding of human agency. And then one guard "was killed" and another guard "was left." The dead guard was Peter Paige.

Later, the fleeing group encounters a roadblock and kills 2 police officers, Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.
At the time of her trial, Ms. Clark was still inflamed by her beliefs, and she represented herself. She expressed no remorse, telling the jury that revolutionary violence was a “liberating force.”
The daughter — the one who supplied the photo with the dogs and who was the baby who made her mother nervous about joining the "liberating force" — is quoted saying "My mother did not kill anyone, and it’s hard for me to understand who is served by making her die in prison, which is what decisions like this eventually amount to."

April 21, 2017

"Ann Coulter rejected an offer to speak at the University of California at Berkeley on a new date..."

"... after the university canceled her event because of safety concerns, then quickly reversed itself, saying it would reschedule her speech," WaPo reports.
In a series of tweets Thursday night, Coulter criticized the university, saying Berkeley officials were adding “burdensome” conditions to her speech. She said she had already spent money to hold the event on April 27 and was not available to appear May 2. She also pointed out that the later date would coincide with a reading period before final exams, when there are no classes on campus and fewer students are around. Instead, she vowed to speak in Berkeley on April 27 whether the university approves or not.
Berkeley is making a fool of itself. I laughed out loud when I heard the spokesperson on TV:
University spokesman Dan Mogulof responded to the lawsuit threat, saying, “We are confident that we are on very solid legal grounds.... We are concerned about her disregard for the assessment and recommendations of law enforcement professionals whose primary focus is the safety and well-being of our students and other members of our campus community"... 
Pathetic. At best, "confident that we are on very solid legal grounds" is a bald-faced lie.

"We’re told by many wise and well-meaning people that it is a huge and even fatal mistake for liberals (and for constitutional conservatives) to respond negatively to every Trump initiative, every Trump policy, and every Trump idea."

Adam Gopnik considers the possibility that Trump Derangement Syndrome "is a thing" and that perhaps he's got it and should do something about it.

"I am beginning to wonder if it isn't blackness that Dolezal doesn't understand, but whiteness."

Because growing up poor, on a family farm in Montana, being homeschooled by fundamentalist Christian parents sounds whiter than this 'silver spoon' whiteness she claims to be rejecting."

Lake Mendota, today, early afternoon.


The French election is, apparently, about Trump... because everything is.

"Now, with the French election starting this weekend, Mr. Trump faces the biggest test yet of whether nationalist and nativist ideas like his appeal to voters elsewhere in the Western world."

"The trustees of Columbia wrote a $2.5 million check to the faculty and said, 'Figure this out. What's going on with sex and the sex lives of students?'"

"My life over the past two years has been thinking about college students and sex, and it's both really boring and really disturbing in sort of twin ways."

At the I-Took-Notes Café...


... I took note.

(Maybe you need to buy a notebook and a fountain pen. If so, please use my Amazon portal.)

"How many folks, I wonder, who have engaged in the Tiny House Movement have ever actually lived in a tiny, mobile place?"

"Because what those who can afford homes call 'living light,' poor folks call 'gratitude for what we’ve got.'"
And it’s not just the Tiny House Movement that incites my discontent. From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle — and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.
Is this discontent necessary? When there's something you have no choice about, and somebody else who has a choice chooses that, why would you feel worse about it? I can see being envious that somebody else had a choice, but if they chose the thing you're stuck with, wouldn't that give you a fresh, positive perspective on how good that thing is? And if it doesn't, aren't you the one who needs a better attitude?

Let's try to think of examples other than living in a small house (something some people are compelled to do because they can't afford larger). These are not all exact analogies, but I want to explore the general area that the author of the linked essay (July Westhale) calls "poverty appropriation." I think she's describing something that's a subcategory of what I'm going to call envy shortcircuiting.

1. X is disabled and cannot walk and sees her neighbor Y choosing to sit at every possible opportunity.

2. X is diabetic and her doctor has forbidden her to eat anything with added sugar. She's having dinner with Y who doesn't order dessert because she just doesn't like sweets.

3. X lives in a sleepy midwestern town. Y — who had several job offers in different places — chose to move to this town.

4. X is a member of a religious group that requires him to wear black clothing. He knows this other guy who has no obligation to wear black but adopted an all-black wardrobe to make shopping and getting dressed in the morning more efficient.

5. X was a poor student in high school and couldn't get into college, so he found a job working in construction. One of his co-workers is Y, a guy he went to high school with who had excellent grades and went to a good college and graduated. X asked Y, "What are you doing working here?" And Y said: "I like to work outdoors. I like to make things."

"The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."

"It's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship. It's the quality of your close relationships that matters."

"The price of a can of soda in a vending machine can now vary with the temperature outside."

"The price of the headphones Google recommends may depend on how budget-conscious your web history shows you to be, one study found. For shoppers, that means price — not the one offered to you right now, but the one offered to you 20 minutes from now, or the one offered to me, or to your neighbor — may become an increasingly unknowable thing."

I want to call this New Yorker article a puff piece... but it's about marijuana edibles.

But I really do think there's a sad lack of critical edge in this thing, "The Martha Stewart of Marijuana Edibles," by By Lizzie Widdicombe. Excerpt:
Ricardo Baca, the founding editor of the Cannabist, told me, “Laurie [Wolf] represents a voice in the food-and-cannabis space that can be trusted.” Her columns are full of global ingredients and lush food photography meant to attract what she calls “the CB2 and West Elm crowd.” Her books would not seem out of place on the shelf next to the latest tome from the Barefoot Contessa or Yotam Ottolenghi. Evan Senn, the editor of the California-based cannabis magazine Culture, told me that, increasingly, foodies are the target audience for pot. “I love to drink wine, and I’m kind of a snob about it,” she said. “I’m not going to drink Franzia out of a cardboard box. I’m going to buy a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and aerate it and enjoy it. I have the same approach to edibles.”
But there's one big difference: Cannabis doesn't taste good. All the recipes are about disguising the flavor and smell. (Many are also impaired by the need to avoid deactivating the ingredient by getting it too hot.)

I read The New Yorker a lot, and this is one of the articles that make me think the magazine isn't for people like me — people who want more raw intelligence and edge — but for people who really want to be shown how to happily enjoy a bourgeois lifestyle. These are the people for whom Laurie Wolf manufactures "gourmet" marijuana foods. I wish I could feel that Widdicombe wrote "marijuana-free chicken Marbella and couscous, paired with infused sides and appetizers" with some comic intent, but I don't think she did.

But she does let it show that the food-prep problem here is that you're trying to force in an ingredient that you actually don't want there for any food-related purpose:
Wolf pulled a Mason jar of infused olive oil from a shelf and encouraged me to smell it. It had a powerfully green scent. “Olive oil infuses beautifully,” she said. “It’s very earthy.” A jar of infused canola oil, on the other hand, smelled like bong water. Wolf had used the infused olive oil to make the stuffed mushrooms as well as a spinach tart. Those who wanted even more weed could slather their food with an infused feta sauce made with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and red onion. “Strong flavors help conceal the taste,” Wolf said. “It is a challenge to keep the foods from tasting like cannabis. That’s probably the hardest thing about making edibles.” Dessert was a “mildly infused” strawberry trifle in a big glass bowl. For palate cleansers, there were frozen grapes—an old standby for Wolf. “They’re wonderful when people get stoned,” she explained.
A guest shows up who claims to be "not really an eater," which I found funny, even though I can't tell if that person just meant she doesn't use eating as her method of getting cannabis into her body or whether it's a more general way of life, a kind of euphemism for anorexia. I thought it was funny because I assumed the latter, but now I think it's the former. The woman goes on to say "Joints, vape pens. I like the patch a lot."

People want cannabis for the feeling it gives them, and they can get it various ways that don't require eating it, so if it tastes bad, why put it in food?! I think the answer is right there in that "Martha Stewart" idea, that vision of The New Yorker that puts me off. There are people — probably mostly women — who want to think they of themselves as appreciating the finer pleasures of life, and maybe that desire is heightened when they approach a psychoactive substance. They don't want the stark confrontation with getting high — they're not that kind of girl — but need to see themselves as involved in something more complex and tasteful.

"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."

Said Jeff Sessions, quoted in The Washington Post in "Jeff Sessions doesn’t think a judge in Hawaii — a.k.a. ‘an island in the Pacific’ — should overrule Trump." The piece is by Aaron Blake, who has "a few problems":

1. "Hawaii is a state...."

2. "[T]he judge isn't a Hawaiian judge, per se" — he's a federal judge. (But "federal" isn't a place. The federal district courts are in particular places, and this one is in Hawaii, and the judge, Derrick Kahala Watson, happens to have been born in Hawaii, like the President who appointed him, even though he's been off the island and even gone to Harvard Law School, like the President who appointed him.)

3. "Hawaii does have major ports of entry, with international travelers arriving regularly."

What do you think of the "a judge sitting on an island" remark? (Multiple answers allowed.)
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"Every sculpture needs space. That is the nature of sculpture. If you put something else there, it changes it."

"Fearless Girl" is “cute,” but “you don’t stand up for women’s rights at the expense of the artist’s rights. Each right is equally important. I am saying this as a woman.”

Said Gabriel Koren, an artist who made a statue of Frederick Douglass that is situated in Central Park, looking into Harlem. What if a second statute — a figure reacting to Frederick Douglass — were put close to it? Should Koren have final say about whether the second statue can be there? I'd say no, but I think she has moral power to influence the decision, and I think that would be enough to preserve the space around Frederick Douglas.

But that's in part because it's Frederick Douglass...

.... not a charging bull. There's a debate to be had about whether things should be put near other things, but the first thing to go up shouldn't become a tyrant. Sometimes putting things together makes a dialogue that benefits the people, who, after all, have our space cluttered by all sorts of art and art-like junk. And sometimes the first thing that goes up is kind of bad or an incomplete statement, and continuing the "conversation" with something else is an improvement.

Considering the urge to take down statues that don't say what the public wants said, we ought to keep open the option of putting up another sculpture nearby and changing the meaning. For example, in New Orleans:
Statues of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are targeted for removal in New Orleans, after a federal appeals court approved the city's plan to change how it treats symbols of its history. Opponents of the move vow to keep fighting it in court....

In addition to the statue of Lee, [Mayor Mitch] Landrieu and other city officials want to take down a statue honoring Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and a monument to the paramilitary White League, which launched a Reconstruction-era rebellion against the integrated Metropolitan New Orleans Police Force....

"White House officials said Mr. Trump took a personal interest in her case.... 'He just said, "Let’s bring her home."'"

From the NYT report, "American Aid Worker, Release Secured by Trump Officials, Leaves Egypt."

This article, new today, appears in the print edition not on the front page, but on page 10. On the home page of the web edition, it's hard to find. I did a search for the woman's name and found nothing, then for "Egypt," and found the headline tucked away... do you see it?

It's not under "World" or "U.S." but "Politics" — politics? — sandwiched between "Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss" and "Jeff Sessions Dismisses Hawaii as ‘an Island in the Pacific.’"

By contrast, the Washington Post home page has the story at the top of the home page, with the woman's name, Aya Hijazi, in clear print:

The visual effect is a triad of bold females challenging the powers that be: 1. There's "Aya Hijazi, a charity worker... incarcerated without trial on charges that were widely derided." 2. There's that "Fearless Girl" sculpture we've been talking about. (It's not a new story, so it seems especially conscious to put the story front and center today. (The article has an interesting feminist angle: The male artist expresses pain that his bull — against his original intent — has become a symbol of male chauvinism.)) 3. There's Marie Le Pen, boosted by the latest Paris terrorist attack.

It's hard — isn't it? — for the liberal media to give President Trump credit for anything, but they should gracefully give him the credit he genuinely deserves. Imagine what the NYT would look like if President Obama had brought Aya Hijazi home! Trump was portrayed in a negative light for cozying up to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, but the Obama administration tried and failed to bring Hijazi home. From WaPo:
It was not until Trump moved to reset U.S. relations with Egypt by embracing Sissi at the White House on April 3 — he publicly hailed the autocrat’s leadership as “fantastic” and offered the U.S. government’s “strong backing” — that Egypt’s posture changed. Last Sunday, a court in Cairo dropped all charges against Hijazi and the others.
Let's talk about which is better, Obama's words or Trump's words? Do Trump's words seem ridiculous and clownish — calling Sissi "fantastic" — when we see that Trump got results?

WaPo prods us to think of the Trump administration in terms of "confusion" (it's the old "chaos" template, that alternates with "evil" in the elite media's coverage of Trump):
What the White House plans to celebrate as vindication of its early diplomacy comes at the end of a week in which the administration has combated charges of foreign policy confusion. Although the president received wide praise for his decision to punish Syria for its presumed chemical weapons attack with a barrage of cruise missiles, the administration has been criticized for contradictions over policy toward Syria and Turkey, and misstatements on the U.S. response to North Korea’s weapons activity.
Successful action is camouflaged in verbiage about things that have been said. Some of his words may sound like confusion, but that doesn't mean Trump is confused about what he is saying. Maybe he knows how to use words. There's an awful lot of evidence that he does. You can look down on him and call him confused, but when the results come in, you ought to question your analysis of what he is doing with words.

Toward the end of the WaPo article:
The senior Trump administration official said the agreement for Hijazi’s release was the product of Trump’s “discreet diplomacy” — meaning the president’s efforts to cultivate warm relations with strongmen such as Sissi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in part by avoiding public pronouncements on human rights that might alienate the foreign governments.
Discreet. Consider the notion that Trump is discreet

April 20, 2017

At the Early Garden Café..


... you can talk about whatever you want.


The photos are by Meade.

And please consider supporting this blog through the use of The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Here's a wider view of the garden where Meade found those things. This picture was done by me, standing on the deck.


You can compare it to a picture from about the same place 5 days ago, here.

"Trump and Clinton Swap Sexes in Off-Broadway Play 'Her Opponent.'"

I've blogged about this before — in "Fantastic theater experiment: A male Hillary and a female Trump."
Using text and gestures and tone from the 2016 debates, actors play the 2 candidates, with the gender flipped. The audience is surveyed before and after, and pretty much everyone is stunned to discover that gender bias did not work at all as they thought it did. The male Hillary was rather repulsive, and Trump's approach to communication was quite successful coming from a woman....
We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back.
Here's an article about the theater experiment, which you can see in NYC. The title is "Her Opponent."
The two creators are admittedly liberal and expected the project to reinforce the shock they experienced on election night — “I was struck by the aggressive body language that Trump was using and thought it would never be tolerated by a woman,” recalls [co-creator Maria Guadalupe]of the debates — but found themselves understanding how the outspoken businessman and reality TV star won the presidency. After each performance, [director Joe] Salvatore conducts a discussion with the audience, who generally dislike the male Clinton character’s mansplained fact flood and “all the nodding and smiling that a woman needs to do to be listened to,” says Guadalupe, and favor the female Trump character’s visible passion and clear messaging.
Obviously, Guadalupe is wrong about what a woman "needs to do." It's more like what she thinks she needs to do. The unsmiling, forceful, engaged female Trump has a better effect.  I think the show is evidence that women can be like that. They don't need to tone everything down and try to act pleasing. And maybe they shouldn't. It's phony. Now, Hillary Clinton was her own special version of phony, so you can't just generalize.

There's a clip at my old post. And here's another clip (within an MSNBC program):

Here's a clip showing one rehearsal technique:

I'm so interested in this show! I hope they put the whole thing on line in the end. It is so educational. Such a great perspective on how we experience gender.

"Scientists believe their facts and logic convinced all the smart people to their side already, so now they need a new strategy for the dumb ones."

"A different version of reality, as seen through the Persuasion Filter, is that citizens who don’t understand history are doomed to believe whatever the experts tell them. Half the country has been persuaded to climate alarmism by fear, not an understanding of the issue. At the same time, those who know the most about both history and science realize that complex climate models are generally not credible, so they are not persuaded by fear."

Scott Adams. Obviously. Who else says "Persuasion Filter"?

Frank Bruni talks with Camille Paglia and Andy Cohen.

I haven't watched much of this yet, but somebody prodded me to make this available for commenting. Have at it.

ADDED: At about 22:00, Paglia talks about how only a power-hungry "monomaniac" would run for President, because the campaigns "go on far too long." She says "We need to shorten the period, and this will make it more likely that we'll get women candidates, okay, who are not going to have to go around the country and giving up 2 years of their lives, okay. It's brutal."

This immediately made me think of my blog post from 6 days ago about Elizabeth Warren. Warren has a new book in which she tells of her decision not to run for President in 2016. She wrote that she seriously considered it, but decided against it after a discussion with her husband — the aptly named Mann — who said that campaigning for President "looks pretty terrible" and "a lot worse" than running for Senate. I commented:
And you wonder why we haven't had a woman President.

As Barbie once said, "Math class is tough!" And running for President is tough. That's your reason?

Note: I don't really believe that was her reason. I just don't enjoy bullshit that leverages the stereotype that women won't do work that is too strenuous.
But here's Paglia saying that somehow we ought to soften the ordeal of running for President so women (and non-megalomaniacs) will take it on. Contemplating whether Paglia had read my blog post, I was then floored when her next subject was hormones, because my next subject in that post is hormones. I say:
As long as we're talking about the stereotype about women, let me show you something I've been listening to that's kind of blowing my mind — even though I heard it when it originally aired in 2002 — the recently rebroadcast "Testosterone" episode of "This American Life."...
In the video, Paglia proceeds to say that it's not misogyny that's kept women out of running for President, but "the sheer brutal experience" — "you have to be a fighter or have a very thick skin. Most women seem to personalize, the barrage of negativity...." When Bruni asks if women "have thinner skin," she answers: "You know, hormonally, it's true. I know hormones have been out at the New York Times for many a decade."

(If you're wondering whether Camille Paglia even knows who I am, read "My Dinner with Camille.")

Posing at the White House.

Photo posted at Facebook by Shemane Nugent.

More, from Sarah Palin, here.

I guess Trump must think it's funny to keep that portrait of Hillary hanging there. Lord knows what is said in its vicinity. If that portrait could talk....


TRUMP: That's my line!

ADDED: I'm thinking they keep the portrait hanging crooked to get the same joke started again and again.

NEW GUEST TO THE WHITE HOUSE: You know the portrait is crooked.

TRUMP: A very accurate portrait, yes, I agree.

NEW GUEST #2: I feel the urge to straighten that portrait.

TRUMP: I've never heard of anyone wanting a portrait to be less lifelike.

Anti-Althousiana in the Instapundit comments.

Glenn linked to my "tired of Democratic partisan emotion" post, and it brought out the Althouse haters (and some defenders). Some spicy examples:
Althouse has always been a self-entitled, privileged, upper class woman who likes to preen about her pseudo-victimhood and responsibility while enjoying her life of luxury and lack of consequences.
A defender said: "That is not true. She has never played a victim card. She has always been fair to both sides. She tends to take the other side in a devil's advocate kind of way, to see if people would react in same way if the names/parties were different. You must not read her blog."

Which caused somebody else to say:
You missed the "splooge stooge"* meltdown where she told all of her readers to fuck off and die, closed down comments and stayed drunk for 2 months and pouted. To say that she is emotionally unstable is an understatement. She is an alky on a decades long bender, someone who makes Hillary look sober and steady. The devil's advocate part might be right, if you leave out "advocate"....
Althouse is an Obamavoting cunt. There. It is said. It is out there....

* Here's where I originally wrote "splooge stooge."  It was in the context of saying men are responsible for the children who are born when they have failed to control where their genetic material goes. That was unrelated to shutting down the comments, which I had to do for a time because of a technical problem — later solved by some people at Blogger — that had made moderation next to impossible.

"Gorsuch Looks Poised to Rule That States Must Sometimes Subsidize Churches."

Writes Mark Joseph Stern.

Another way to put that is: The Supreme Court Looks Poised to Rule That Sometimes Not Discriminating Based on Religion Is More Important Than the Strict Separation of Church and State.

ADDED: The cases is about whether Missouri can exclude religious organizations from an otherwise generally available program to distribute recycled tires for surfacing playgrounds. Missouri is taking a strong no-aid-to-religion approach that entails discriminating based on religion.

Amy Howe analyzes the argument at SCOTUSblog:

"Did what Bill supposedly did really amount to a firing offense or were his accusers just looking for money or fame, as O'Reilly himself has implied?"

"Or was it just a political hatchet job by the seemingly endless legions who spend all their waking hours and seemingly most of their sleeping ones doing their best to oppose, discredit, and destroy all things Trump?"

Asks Roger L. Simon.

April 19, 2017

"Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News..."

"... the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of multiple settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His ouster brings an abrupt and embarrassing end to his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television," the NYT reports.

ADDED: The NYT takes — and probably deserves — credit:
Mr. O’Reilly’s departure comes two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.

At the White Tree Café...


... you can talk about anything.

(And consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. If you're thinking, I just want to buy what Althouse just bought, then you should buy this parasol.)

"Democrats begin to wonder: When do we win?"

"For all the anger, energy, and money swirling at the grassroots level, Democrats didn’t manage to pick off the first two Republican-held congressional seats they contended for in the Trump era, and the prospects aren’t markedly better in the next few House races coming up: the Montana race at the end of May, and the South Carolina contest on June 20...."

Politico channels Democratic emotion. 

I get really tired of Democratic partisan emotion. I'm someone who sometimes votes for Democrats, and I've voted for a lot more Democratic candidates than Republicans over the years, but I have nothing but a negative reaction to all this anger at losing. If they'd won, they'd be exulting and gloating, with no empathy for the other side. Republicans don't act like that. I mean, maybe some Republicans somewhere do, but mostly they're better sports about winning and losing. It makes them look more responsible and more respectful of democracy. Could the Democrats grow up and stop being so offputting... so ossoffputting?

"I’m not going to look foolish for you. I’m not going to gesture in some way that you’re going to capture that’s going to make me look foolish or awkward.”

“I’m not going to be portrayed this way by the left-wing media. I’m not going to let the left-wing media frame me in some way that is going to be damaging to me."

What Michele Bachmann said, as remembered/paraphrased by Chris Buck, the photographer of the 2011 Newsweek cover that came to be known as "Crazy Eyes."

Buck comments:
I was shocked, because one, it’s amazing for someone just to speak their mind so directly, but two, we had really just begun. And I was asking for something pretty standard, you know? Not to say that she has to do everything I say, but there are other ways to deflect or refigure something without directly accusing me and my client of trying to disparage her.
He was — as he tells it — asking her to "relax, and maybe even if you want to gesture a little bit, we can even talk so you can be more relaxed," so he could get something "more animated with more life."

The interview is from 2011, but it's only getting published now, the occasion being a new book of Buck's photographs, "Uneasy: Portraits 1986-2016." (Buck sent me a copy of the book, but I haven't got it yet.)

"I mean, I'm a girl and I like being a girl, but I've just never been into it like they have. I think I get that from my dad."

"I'd say I'm more of a Jenner than a Kardashian... I was a huge tomboy... I had a phase where I wore boys' clothes. I was always hanging out with guys. I've always connected with guys more."

"For awhile, I was seeing a guy who really liked David Foster Wallace. He once forced me to do cocaine..."

"... by shoving it inside me during sex. He wasn’t the first man to recommend Wallace, but he’s the last whose suggestion I pretended to consider. So while I’ve never read a book by Wallace, I’m preemptively uninterested in your opinion about it. These recommendations from men have never inspired me to read Wallace’s magnum opus, Infinite Jest, or his essays, or stories, or even to take the path of least resistance and see the Jason Segel movie about him. Said recommendations have, however, festered over such a long period that they’ve mutated into deeply felt opinions about Wallace himself: namely, that he was an overly self-aware genius who needed a better editor and that I’d hate his writing."

Writes Deirdre Coyle in "Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me."

So that's how books are getting recommended these days.

It's a wonder anybody reads anything anymore. All these hideous men have marked the territory before your arrival, and now there are nothing but pissed on books. Who'd want to pick those things up?