Saturday, November 17, 2018

Literary Corner: Old Forester

Photo by Tim Allendörfer, soft forest floor, somewhere in Germany, I think, July 2015. I couldn't find an image of a really well-raked forest.

The Floors of the Forest
by Donald J. Trump

We have to take care of the floors,
the floors of the forest; it is very
important. You look at other countries,
they do it differently and it's a whole
different story. I was with the president
of Finland and he said: "We’re a forest nation."
He called it a “forest nation.” And they spend a lot
of time on raking and cleaning and doing
things, and they don’t have any problem.
And when it is, it is a very small problem.
So I know everybody is looking at that…
to that end. And it’s going to work
out; it’s going to work out well.
A lot of people don't know that Finland is a forest nation. I do like the picture of all the Finns patiently raking the obnoxious needles, like so many Zen monks cultivating it as a garden, and whisking them away to a decent burial somewhere, perhaps at sea. It's nice to see Donald in this contemplative and caring mood, anxious to make things better, though he's not well equipped for the task.

Plumas National Forest north of Tahoe, where the Camp Fire apparently started. Lack of raking isn't what stands out here as a possible fire factor. But you don't quite know if our emperor has ever seen a forest, of one kind or the other.

Friday, November 16, 2018

New York note: In defense of Bill de Blasio, don't @ me

Photo by Yeong-Ung Yang/New York Times.

My distinguished tweep Nathan Newman lays out a reasonable schema for how we should feel about the deal making Long Island City, Queens, one of Amazon's new HQ2s:
That is, it's a horrible feature of late capitalism that giant companies should be playing off localities against each other in a race to the bottom in which they award the prize to the one that allows them to exploit it the most, but given that that's the way it is, and the feds won't do anything to stop it, local authorities would be irresponsible not to see if they can get something out of it for their citizens.

I've been listening to Mayor de Blasio on WNYC radio explaining the Amazon deal under questioning from Brian Lehrer and a couple of callers-in, and he's obviously kind of defensive, under intensive criticism from everybody from Alexandria Ocasio-Córtez and Jumaane Williams to Rod Dreher and the National Review, as Roy points out at the subscription site, but I'm inclined, on the whole, to think he may have done this thing right, or at the least that he's not just kidding when he presents himself as a kind of Mitterand figure:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Freedom's just another word for no follow-up questions

A much cheerier and more benign event than the press gaggle, but they have something in common.

A highlight of the Trump Daily Caller interview was this elegant number in the "No Puppet No Puppet You're the Puppet" series:

The Real Threat to Freedom of the Press Is the Press
by Donald J. Trump
I will say that I really think
when you have guys like Acosta,
I think they’re really bad for the country.
Because they show how fake it all is.
And he’s a grandstander and we’ll see
how the court rules, and then they talk,
"Oh, freedom of the press." But can you
really have — is it freedom of
the press? It’s actually the opposite.
Is it freedom of the press when somebody
comes in and starts screaming questions and won’t
sit down after having answered a couple of them?
And then won’t sit down and then I can’t ask you
guys because he’s standing — I don’t think that’s
freedom of the press, I actually think that’s the opposite.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

For the Record: Cheap Shots and an argument

William Simpson, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1855), via Wikipedia.

Other than that, I just wanted to lay out this argument:

Patriotism and nationalism

This is such a shot for a 1950s movie poster, isn't it. From the White House state dinner in April, photo by AFP/Getty.

Trump's making the US irrelevant, forcing the rest of the world to figure out how to do things without us. It's a good thing in some places, as I've said with reference to South Korea, which has taken to managing its own foreign policy because they can't trust Americans to be consistent or coherent, but I'm not sure about others. Very cool column by David Ignatius/WaPo interprets the Armistice Day events in Paris in this light:

Last weekend’s events in Paris offered a dramatic demonstration that “other things being equal” is not a safe assumption. The world is moving to adapt to the reality that Donald Trump is president of the United States. Our friends and allies may hope his election eventually will be reversed, and maybe they think the United States turned a corner with the 2018 midterm elections. But they can’t count on it, so these countries must consider that the United States may be a different country from what they had believed.
French President Emmanuel Macron articulated this reality last week. In one of his World War I remembrances, he told a French radio station that Europe needs a “true European army” at a time when the United States is a less reliable ally. “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron said.
Trump blasted Macron’s comments as “very insulting,” and he continued to complain in tweets Tuesday about French ingratitude and claimed that Macron was trying to distract from his “very low” approval ratings. But joining Macron on Tuesday was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told the European parliament that she shared others’ view that “a common European army would show the world that there would never again be war in Europe.”
That—Macron suggesting a "European army"—seems to have been a major part of what triggered Trump's weird behavior beginning over the weekend, alongside dawning realization that he just lost an election, bigly, and as we're told that Corsi and Stone and apparently Junior himself are getting busted, and that his brilliant maneuver of planting his own personal agent at the attorney general's desk to protect him is a failure, and maybe even, Steve suggests this morning, a crash from some prescription high.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Gentlemanly Spirit

British troops in France, 1917,  George Grantham Bain collection/Library of Congress, via Britannica.

Brooks's commemoration of the centenary of the 1918 Armistice ("The Struggle to Stay Human Amid the Fight") seems to have been written mostly by Brainy Quotes, but it does take a surprising angle, while everybody else is praising the sacrifice of the troops in the conventional way people do, Brooks is complaining about the cultural effects of the Great War, which is that it created an atmosphere of distrust in institutions and spoiled everybody's gentlemanly, sporting spirit.
Disillusionment was the classic challenge for the generation that fought and watched that war. Before 1914, there was an assumed faith in progress, a general trust in the institutions and certainties of Western civilization. People, especially in the educated classes, approached life with a gentlemanly, sporting spirit.
As Paul Fussell pointed out in “The Great War and Modern Memory,” the upper classes used genteel words in place of plain ones: slumber for sleep, the heavens for the sky, conquer for win, legion for army.
Paul Fussell did not point out that the British upper classes used genteel words for plain ones before the war. Winston Churchill did not ask Mrs. Churchill if she had a nice slumber, or take his steed out for a canter. Fussell is talking about writing: the awful, disembodied, euphemism-soaked literary language of the Edwardians and Georgians, particularly in poetry (p. 21?):

Monday, November 12, 2018

For the Record: Bad Sports

From Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa (2003), via.

Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought. II

Drawing by Glenn McCoy, via Valley News.

I'm still stuck on this question of why Trump should be so offended at Sessions's insisting on recusing himself. As if it were a bad habit, you know, that people should be able to easily control; "What kind of man is this?":
"Jeff Sessions recused himself which he shouldn't have done or he should have told me," the president said. "Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn't have put him in.
"(Sessions) took the job and then he said 'I'm going to recuse myself.' And I said 'what kind of man is this?' By the way, he was on the campaign. The only reason I gave him the job was I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter. He was on the campaign. He knows there was no collusion."
Why should Trump in the wake of the election have expected Sessions not to recuse himself in the Russia investigation? Or rather why should Trump have assumed he knew what Sessions would say if somebody asked him to recuse himself from it, so he could subsequently be so disappointed with Session's failure to do it? Given how unclear Trump seems to be, at the same time, as to what "recusal" actually means?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

RIP Roy Hargrove

This great young trumpet player, 49 years old, died Friday of cardiac arrest in New York City after going to the hospital with kidney issues.

In this remarkable cut Hargrove and his band members systematically, though not directly, establish their place in the entire heritage of jazz from the 12-bar blues through the harmonic explorations of John Coltrane, through the mediation of the name of Charlie Parker:

For the Record: Mystery

Undated picture of the Aisne-Marne (spelled wrong by me below, with an extra -s), Belleau, France, via.