Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Trumpfendämmerung

We've often enjoyed seeing politicians' language as a performance of poetry, but today could be the first time I've seen it as opera. But it really is:


[This is the only really good performance I could find of the exact sequence I was looking for from Aida act 1, from the naming of young Radamès as general to go meet the invading Ethiopian army and the cries of "Ritorna vincitor!" (Come back victorious!) to the Ethiopian slave girl Aida gradually realizing that her secret lover Radamès will be working to kill her royal father and brothers and asking the gods to take pity on her in her ambivalence. Video and sound from 1966 not great, sorry, but the musicians including Leyla Gencer as the heroine are doing a fantastic job.]

The curtain rises, the emperor Don Donaldo (tenor) is holding his formal levée in the presence of the whole court including his most senior legislative advisers, La Pelosina (contralto) and Chuck (bass-baritone), and his lieutenant Michele di Pence, the Stone Guest (mime), and he sings, plangently, of the grandeur of his wall, which may or may not exist (that is, in fact it doesn't exist, but he's only sporadically aware of this, as of a pizza that still hasn't arrived a couple of hours after you ordered it), in his majestic aria, "Se vuoi provare del muro il valor":
If you really want to find out
how effective a wall is,
just ask Israel:
99.9 percent effective
our wall will be
every bit as good as that,
if not better.
So we’ve done a lot
of work on the wall,
a lot of wall is built.
A lot of people don’t know that.
A lot of wall is renovated.
We have walls that were
in very bad condition
and they are now
in A-1 tip-top shape.
And frankly, some wall
has been reinforced
by our military.
The military has done
a fantastic job.
Though something is darkening his pleasure, a sense that his legislative agenda may not be working so well:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Hazel Scott






She was a great singer, too. The bass player in this trio is a very young Mr. Charles Mingus (Rudie Nichols on drums), and it's just appalling how great the group is.

One reason you may not have heard of her and none of us know her the way she deserved is the way her career was interrupted in the early 1950s by some familiar suspects:
With the advent of the Red Scare in the television industry, Scott's name appeared in Red Channels: A Report on Communist Influence in Radio and Television in June 1950. Scott voluntarily appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).[12] Scott insisted on reading a prepared statement before HUAC. She denied that she was "ever knowingly connected with the Communist Party or any of its front organizations, but said that she had supported Communist Party member Benjamin J. Davis's run for City Council, arguing that Davis was supported by socialists, a group that "has hated Communists longer and more fiercely than any other."[13]
Her television variety program, The Hazel Scott Show, was cancelled a week after Scott appeared before HUAC, on September 29, 1950. Scott continued to perform in the United States and Europe, even getting sporadic bookings on television variety shows like Cavalcade of Stars and guest starring in an episode of CBS Television's Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town musical series. Scott's short-lived television show "provided a glimmer of hope for African American viewers"[11] during a time of continued racial bias in the broadcasting industry and economic hardships for jazz musicians in general. Scott remained publicly opposed to McCarthyism and racial segregation throughout her career.
To evade political fallout in the United States, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s. She appeared in the French film Le désordre et la nuit (1958). She maintained a steady but difficult career in France and touring throughout Europe. She did not return to the US until 1967. By this time the Civil Rights Movement had led to federal legislation ending racial segregation and enforcing the protection of voting rights of all citizens in addition to other social advances.


George Papadopoulos, Birther Fan Fiction Artist

From the original covfefe boy:

Publishhed February 2014, 8 pages, 99 cents on Kindle.
The preview:



Simple racism? Check. Anti-miscegenation fervor? Check. Little hint of anti-Semitism? Check. It's no wonder Trump was eager to get this crack hand on his foreign policy team in April 2016.

Found this while investigating the book young George announced last week, emerging from his 336-hour prison ordeal, springing back like the resilient lad you knew he was:

Sunday, December 9, 2018

For the Record: The I-Word

Image via Focus Washington, 28 August 2017.


But that certainly doesn't mean it won't be.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

For the Record: Lumped Up Head

A starving Irish family from Carraroe, County Galway, during the Famine. National Library of Ireland, via Daisy Escorcia.

Again, this is not all about how I defeated a stupid person. "Not a Russian Pornstar" isn't even particularly stupid, just afflicted with some dumb stereotypes that seem obviously true to her, too true to bother checking out. I'm putting it up here, for the record, because it puts together an argument I've been wanting to make for a long time.

In fact the Cato study found it could be as low as $3.3 billion—$15.6 billion was the top of the range—and that was just by examining the flaws in the report that put it at $116 billion. But there's no reason to suppose that there are really any negative economic effects at all.

Leverage

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters via Daily Beast.

When the John Bolton interview on NPR started up yesterday morning, I was pretty taken aback:

Steve Inskeep: We'll just dive right in. But I want to start with the arrest that we learned about last night and that I presume you've known about for some time. What is the message that is sent by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou?
National security adviser John Bolton: Well, I'd rather not get into the specifics of law enforcement matters but, but we've had enormous concern for years about ... in this country about the practice of Chinese firms to use stolen American intellectual property to engage in forced technology transfers and to be used really as arms of the Chinese government's objectives in terms of information technology in particular. So not respecting this particular arrest, but Huawei is one company we've been concerned about, there are others as well. I think this is going be a major subject of the negotiations that President Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed on in Buenos Aires.
She's busted for intellectual property theft? Because the news coverage was pretty clear that the offense she was being held for was to do with her company violating Iran sanctions. Did Bolton not know that? Also, copyright violation isn't generally considered a criminal offense.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Whole Science of Conservatism

Perkins + Will design for the Suzhou Science and Technology Museum, via ArchDaily.

Not sure I can let go of that Douthat column, in spite of wonderful takes from Steve and Roy (subscribe to his newsletter) and my own fool parody, because I really believe there's much much more, starting with the introductory words:

Why We Miss the WASPs

Their more meritocratic, diverse and secular successors rule us neither as wisely nor as well.

"We"!!!

And the idea that the United States was once ruled by an ethnic group, a hereditary aristocracy,  the Anglo-Saxon Protestant, presumably lording it over the Scotch-Irish Protestant peasantry. And all the other Protestant tribes of northern Europe and mercurial Papists, some pink and others swarthy, saturnine Hebrews, the sullen American natives and cheerful Africans, with their banjos on their knees.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Why We Miss the TWITs




Why We Miss the TWITs

Their more scientifically educated, multi-hued and poly-gendered, atheistical successors rule us too wisely and not well, or will if we ever let them.

Ross Douthat
By Bertram Wooster
Opinion Columnist
The nostalgia roused by the passing of Poppy Bush-Nottle grows from a multiplicity of roots, interrelated like those of an aspen grove: our memories of a simpler, better time, during what I am told is often known as the Second World War, with which Poppy himself, though mentally spry as a stripling, was always irrefragably associated, owing to his actually having been there, for some reason that escapes me at the moment; the yearning of our Marxist press for the kind of Republicans who would cheerfully sign a tax hike or a bill forcing us all to throw away our funds on ramps and elevators so our homes can be invaded by noxious people in wheelchairs; and the selfishness of Jeeves, who has suddenly deserted me over a matter that should have been too trivial to separate us, a little tastefully trimmed chin-and-lip hair that seems to me entirely appropriate and has been praised by sophisticated judges including the Honorable Roberta “Bobbie” Wickham, and which I shall never give up. Do your worst, Jeeves!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Literary Corner: Rodolfo

CNN screenshot, July 2016, via Splinter.


From Politico, Rodolfo's free dimeter response to the Flynn sentencing memo:

Justifying Monkey
by Rudolph Giuliani
Wow big crime for a
SPECIAL WHATEVER.
maybe a group of
Angry Bitter
Hillary Supporters
who are justifying
themselves by the goal
justifies the means....
Over the top
In ethical behavior.
All the capital letters as in the original, line breaks my own. "In ethical" may be an error for "inethical" or a palimpsest on it.

I hear it as signifying, or slam poetry, wrapping each line around two stresses and spat defiantly into a mic. Like Steve Doocy (see below), he's hogtied between the fact that he doesn't know what the memo says, since 90% of it is redacted, and the fact that he can't acknowledge that there's anything he doesn't know. Doocy's so deeply stupid he just sails, serenely, over himself; Giuliani, too, escapes the tether of meaning, but all the tension remains in his furious howl.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Riposte

Uncredited photo via BinsBox

Longtime commenter Procopius writes with reference to yesterday's post:
I'm hampered here, because my initial reaction to the initial accusations of Russian interference being so effective that it caused Hillary to lose the eledtion was, "Are you kidding me?" Since then I've felt gaslighted since, for example, the advertisements FaceBook identified as examples of "Russian Influence" were mostly purchased after the election and were mostly trivial click-bait. I've said so, so please don't think I'm trying to be disingenuous when I pull out your
Junior's cheerful acceptance of the Russian offer of stolen documents "as part of Russia and its government's support for the Trump campaign" (whoever drafted that expression for Goldstone might as well have been working to incriminate Junior, as if they were planning to use it as kompromat), is unquestionably a crime
OK, we're talking about many different possible crimes, and I applaud your even-handedness in this article. Since there are at least 5,000 felonies defined in the United States Code, many of which are only prosecuted when a prosecutor gets really obsessive about a particular defendant, and so most of us routinely commit a couple of felonies every day without realizing it, just what crime is this unquestionably? A violation of election finance laws?

This is an openly partisan blog, so you can spare me the sarcasm about "evenhandedness".

I'm not familiar with whatever you're citing on the FaceBook manipulation, so I can't really argue with it, but I was under the impression that the ads bought by Internet Research Agency trolls weren't meant to persuade anybody but to gather the volunteer army of reposters who shared the unpaid material posted from bot accounts, from anti-Semitic memes of Hillary and Soros to the "Pizzagate" scandal, that was actually effective:

Monday, December 3, 2018

Crime and Puzzlement

Somebody's Twitter avi.

An unusual take from National Review's legal beagle Andrew C. McCarthy ("Robert Mueller's Plan") on the Mueller investigation: that they're not building up a criminal case, because
No prosecutor builds a case the way Mueller is going about it. What prosecutor says, “Here’s our witness line-up: Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Alex van der Zwaan, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen. And what is it that they have in common, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? Bingo! They’re all convicted liars.”?
This proves that the litigation documents Mueller files from time to time, such as indictments and statements of guilt, are not addressed to a jury, which shows McCarthy that there is no crime, which demonstrates that the special counsel's behavior is very reprehensible:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Yes They Did

Updated with Bush funeral reference 12:30 PM

"Donald, Donald, I am so disappoint." Photo by Reuters/Marcos Brindicci via MSN.

I told you
.
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held what the White House described as “informal” conversations at the G20 summit in Argentina. 
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Saturday that the two spoke at a cultural dinner for leaders and their wives and husbands at the famed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires Friday night.
Huckabee Sanders did not disclose the content of their conversation, but in a press conference later Saturday Putin revealed that Trump had questioned him about Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea. 
“I answered his questions about the incident in the Black Sea. He has his position. I have my own. We stayed in our own positions,” Putin told reporters, according to the Associated Press. (Newsweek)
Russia's seizure of two Ukrainian naval ships and a tugboat and 24 crew members who are still in dentention a week later was an "outrageous violation of Ukrainian sovereignty," as Ambassador Haley said, on behalf of and with instructions from "the highest level at the American government" (that "at" is pretty weird English). But not so outrageous you can't have a chat with an old friend you have so much in common with, right?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

It's the stupid, economy!

Hi, it's Stupid to say that it's still the economy, whatever David Brooks may think.

Shorter David Brooks, "It's Not the Economy, Stupid", New York Times, 29 November 2018:
The US economy is the best ever, so if you're not happy there must be something wrong with you, like not going to church or getting married often enough. This explains why life expectancy has declined three years in a row for the first time since 1915-18. It's your fault.
Looks like he thinks the Republicans might lose the election two weeks ago, but only time will tell. Disclaimer: I am not writing this because I think there is anything interesting or worth responding to in the Brooks argument. I think it's dumb, and we've dealt with it before. But he's got some new errors and deceits and instances of terrible writing and he still has a gig with the New York Times, so I don't have any choice.
We’re enjoying one of the best economies of our lifetime.
Are you now? It looks delicious. Did you get it at Ottomanelli's?
The gains are finally being widely shared, even by the least skilled. As Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute recently noted, the median usual weekly earnings for workers who didn’t complete high school shot up by 6.5 percent over the past year. 

Cheap shots




Trump shakes hands in photo op with Argentine President Macri, forgets why he's there, and wanders away. The second one with appropriate soundtrack.

Whoever wrote his eulogy tweet for Old Bush was singularly inventive: "Whenever I was with him," as if there was some historical moment when they used to hang together all the time:

RIP GHWB

Also, as he receded in very old age into inoffensiveness, whether jumping out of airplanes in his 80s or wearing Bill Clinton socks in his 90s, he became truly cute in spite of everything. Photo via Associated Press.

I don't usually stop to commemorate the deaths of old people about whom I don't have a lot of positive things to say, but the contemplation of George H.W. Bush could lead somewhere interesting:
Dick's getting his Hemingway on here, isn't he? It's that, though, the "real sense" of being a conservative, which I think for the real Nixon might be what this anonymous Redditor suggested a couple of years ago:
I've always thought of Nixon as a Gaullist or Disraeli type of conservative with a small-town American strain in him rather than a Reaganite conservative or a "closet liberal". He was conservative in the real sense of the word--his major domestic and foreign goals revolved around order and structure, not ideals or justice--but a different kind of conservative. Makes a lot more sense, and that's what Nixon himself thought.
I don't know if he thought it or not, but I think he might have been pleased by having the description applied to him alongside the patrician George Herbert Walker Bush, emphasizing the calm "realism" of his views once he achieved the presidency, and papering over the noise and squalor of the dirty fighting and deceit that got him there up from early poverty and rage.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Keep watching


This thing where NPR is accused of falsely accusing Donald Trump Jr. of lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee—
—is getting things wrong in its own right, in the sense that when we're asked to distinguish between two distinct Trump Tower Moscow deals, one involving the high-class Junior and the Agalarov family, which died in 2014 of "deal fatigue", and the other involving the roughnecks Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, which was ongoing in 2016 when Trump was lying about it in every conceivable venue, that's a really false picture.

Watch this space



Watching Putin and MBS and their bro enjoyment of each other, high fives and all, he's like, oh, you guys think I'm a nobody because I never get to kill a journalist. Just wait!

Hard to believe that at the last G-20 summit, as the story of the Trump Tower meeting of 9 June 2016 was being revealed to an astonished public, Trump was unable to restrain himself, no matter how bad it looked in the circumstances, from having semi-secret discussions with President Putin—people watched them interacting, but couldn't find out what was being said—and at the current G-20 summit pretty much the same thing is happening!

Or not.

On Thursday, Donald announces from on board the plane to Buenos Aires that he's canceling the long-planned formal sidebar conference he was supposed to have with Vladimir Vladimovich. Not, ostensibly, with any connection to that morning's new guilty plea from Michael Cohen, establishing that Trump and his agents were trying to put together a Trump Tower Moscow deal for at least six months after Trump said no such thing was going on (and two years after Junior claimed to think the discussion ended) and that Trump had thus being lying outrageously throughout the campaign every time, and there were dozens, he said "I have no business in Russia"—no, he was canceling the sidebar because of the news of Russian aggression against Ukrainian ships in the waters off Crimea.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

No Puppet No Puppet Department



Reports of how the Manafort lawyers and Trump lawyers kept cooperating after Manafort made his cooperation deal with the special counsel's office have led to a bizarre trend of suggesting that Trump's tweets on the investigation represent some kind of privileged knowledge:
In his own recent Twitter attacks on the special counsel, the president seemed to imply that he had inside information about the prosecutors’ lines of inquiry and frustrations. “Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie,” Mr. Trump wrote on Tuesday.
In its most virulent form from, I'm sorry to say, Rachel Maddow:
She pointed out that, in a tweet Thursday morning, Trump referred to the "inner workings' of the Mueller investigation, a phrase he has never used before. Maddow argued that this indicates Trump has used his new dubiously appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to gain an unprecedented look inside the Russia investigation.
And even Digby!

Readers write

AP photo via NPR.

Very pleased to report the appearance of another New Yorker piece by Jordan Orlando, this one a tribute to the late William Goldman and the making of maybe his greatest screenplay, All the President's Men:
William Goldman, who died a week ago, had already written three Robert Redford movies when the actor contacted him in early winter of 1974 and asked him to write a fourth: an adaptation of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, a firsthand account of the two young Washington Post reporters’ Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the Watergate scandal. Redford was the one doing the asking because he was producing the movie under the aegis of his company, Wildwood Enterprises—Redford was among the first wave of post-studio-system, post-auteur-movement movie stars who, in the late nineteen-sixties and early nineteen-seventies, began taking direct control of their careers, forming companies that would choose projects; select co-stars, directors, and writers; and participate in the casting, writing, and promotion of their movies. But Redford’s involvement in “All the President’s Men” was unusually complex and deep, predating not just Goldman’s involvement but also the conception of the book itself. By most accounts, Redford is a big reason why the book—which launched Bob Woodward’s iconic career as the first modern “star” reporter and permanently changed the public’s understanding of journalism—assumed its innovative form, focussing on the reporters and the Post rather than Nixon and the White House. But it was Goldman, in the crowning achievement of his long, successful career as a novelist and screenwriter, who used his screenplay to forge the modern myth of the reporter as hero.
Glad to see that double-s "focussing" in the first graf just in case people don't believe it's really the New Yorker. This is starting to look like a career. Congratulations, Jordan!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Got Paranoia? Disclaimer

Ecuadorian Embassy, Knightsbridge, AP Photo/Sang Tan, August 2012. Funny to think it's really been that long.

I should have emphasized—and didn't even really mention—that Luke Harding's Assange story hasn't yet been corroborated by any other news organization, except for one compelling detail on the Ecuador angle:
CNN contributor Carl Bernstein reported Tuesday that Mueller's team has been investigating a meeting between Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in Quito in 2017 and has specifically asked if WikiLeaks or Assange was discussed in the meeting, according to a source with personal knowledge of the matter.
That's an important exception, because quite a bit of the story seems to have been sourced in Ecuador, in particular these—

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Got paranoia? Manafort and Assange


Photo via The Mermaid's Tale.

This Guardian story, on Paul Manafort's previously unreported visits to Julian Assange's quarters in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, has colossal implications for my understanding of the whole history of Russia's engagement in the Trump campaign:
Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.
In March 2016, to be precise, at some point in the sequence in which

Scared Senseless

Photo via LaffyTaffyDaphne.

David F. Brooks ("Liberal Parents, Radical Children") has been chatting up people who run organizations in blue states:
When I meet someone who runs an organization in a blue state, I often ask: Do you have a generation gap where you work?
I don't know why he only "often" asks the question. It would have more statistical validity if he asked it every time. We can't really tell whether the answer represents anything.

Is he doing a formal study of people who run organizations in blue states? Is he comparing them to people who run organizations in red states? Does he ask the red-state bosses if they have generation gaps, or not?  If not, why not? If yes, why doesn't he tell us. I mean, if there's a generation gap in blue states but not in red states, that's interesting. But if there are generation gaps in both kinds of states, then maybe it's just normal. I'm saying, how are we supposed to read this information?

Also what kinds of organizations? Any kind? Baseball teams? Garden clubs? Nonprofit companies? For-profit companies? Newspapers? Political parties? Labor unions? Lay confraternities? Sororities? Well, something like that; he's studying certain types of corporate entities, that do certain types of business:

Monday, November 26, 2018

For the Record: D'Souza as academic historian, Shapiro as historical hallucinogen

I know everybody's seen this picture, but I can't get over it: the evil, violent criminals invading our country, as Trump sees them, fleeing from tear gas. Photo by Kim Kyung-hoon/Reuters, via NBC.


One of the more fun D'Souza owns, short and sweet:


And below the fold, an exhausting encounter with a troll and with reference to this:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Literary Corner: Days on the Border




One of the most 25th-Amendment things yet, from Trump's Mar-a-Lago Thanksgiving press availability, as reported at Huffington Post Canada, starting around 16 minutes in, when he informed the startled reporters that he had closed the US-Mexican border a couple of days earlier. Startled, I mean, because if he had done that they thought they probably would have heard about it, And of course they hadn't....


I. Closing the Border

Actually two days ago
we closed the border.
We actually just closed it.
We said nobody’s coming in
because it was out of control.
You take a look at Tijuana Mexico
and see what's happening there
it's really a bad situation.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Life Goes On

Cambrian ocean scene, featuring an Anomalocaris canadensis ("anomalous Canadian shrimp") chasing trilobites. Image by diorama artist Ken Doud.



In fact it's likely she meant the Cambrian, and I think it's very likely that a system of global warming, rising sea levels, and coastal erosion, worked in at least as disruptive fashion as it does now, if I'm getting this great post from Science News for Students and a Britannica article right. In a sense, I'll show, conservatives are right in their claim that the climate change phenomena we're experiencing now aren't that different from the climate change phenomena that have been around forever, and they certainly weren't caused by humans then. But don't get too comfortable, conservatives.

For the Record: McArdle on Climate Change



This video is so funny and at the same time so deeply frightening, like a Buñuel film. [Update: It's not Venice, obviously, as Arundel notes in comments: turns out to be Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, and the video is doctored. I stand by my Buñuel remark.]  It probably wouldn't bother Megan McArdle:


She'd calmly point out that Venetians [or Canarios as the case may be] in the pre-Cambrian era managed to make it through. Oh wait, there was no life, plant or animal, on land at the time, so perhaps nobody minded in those days. The hard-shelled creatures that had just started evolving at the end of the period, 540 million years ago, might have enjoyed watching the coasts wash away.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Leftover Turkey

I guess it's too late already.

Which of the following proposals from the bipartisan list released by Opportunity America ("Work, skills, community: Restoring opportunity for the working class") with cooperation from Brookings and AEI might not benefit "the working class"?
  • Make work pay by expanding the earned income tax credit to cover childless workers and experimenting with a new wage subsidy. 
  • Require state and local agencies that administer government benefits to make a priority of getting recipients back to work. 
  • Strengthen work requirements for some beneficiaries of means-tested government programs so long as jobs, training, treatment slots and other relevant services are available.
  • Reform unemployment and disability insurance to promote work. 
  • Reform federal education spending to fund programs that teach students, college-age and older, the skills they need for the jobs of the future. 
  • Mobilize communities to make the most of the job-creating investment we expect to be unleashed by the Opportunity Zone provision of the 2017 tax bill. 
  • Make the child and dependent care tax credit more available to working-class families. 
  • Create a new federal program to monitor and limit opioid prescriptions.
I guess it's the ones that look as if they're designed to loosen up the job market and keep wages from rising. I mean, what problem exactly does a member of their target population have

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving

Thought I'd rerun this piece of fragile hope from the fearful Thanksgiving of 2016:


Image by blogfriend Fearguth, November 2015.
We spend a lot of time criticizing the Thanksgiving myth, of that first feast at Plymouth Plantation, where the Indians, having helped the Pilgrims survive into their first harvest, come to share its fruits at the same table; for its false consciousness and historical decontextualization, ripped out of the record of exploitation, theft, and violence that marks the white people's takeover of the continent, but maybe we ought to remember that it is, after all, a myth.

Athena didn't leap, an armed baby, out of Zeus's skull, either! You can't expect a myth to be true! Maybe we should be thinking about the fictionally happy picture itself, of that multicultural table, as something we yearn toward, prospectively, without any illusions about the actual festival of 1621, toward the time when we can all sit down together, conscious of our identities and willingly sharing across the boundaries, those who have more obliged to share more, or even better to make it real every day, or as real as we can, imperfect and selfish as we all are by nature.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cheap shot



Come on, how else is she supposed to make it through the thing?

Cloud lifting

Cloud Lifting via Pixabay.

Our friends at the Sherman Oaks Review of Books have obtained a copy of some of the answers President Trump wrote all by himself to the questions of Special Counsel Mueller:
After the resignations, what efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?
Why would I want to seek immunity? I didn’t do anything wrong. Look, first of all, there was no collusion. Also, as you know, I already have immunity. You cannot arrest a sitting president—especially if he has no collusion, which is what was pertaining to me at that time and it still does.
As far as pardons are concerned, I think I’ve shown that I’m pretty good at pardons. Universities have told me that I have made some of the best pardons in history. A very smart person from a university called me up and said, “Sir, your pardons are incredible.” Who did Lincoln pardon? Nobody even remembers that.
My piece, that is, out tonight, here. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mystifications

Better "medicalize" it, subject to regulation and protection against abuse, than spiritualize it and make it a new grift industry.

Brooks ("Fighting the Spiritual Void") leading with the usual "it's a spiritual problem" maneuver as a way of explaining why nobody can do anything about it, or at least nothing that will cost him any tax money:
Our society has tried to medicalize trauma. We call it PTSD and regard it as an individual illness that can be treated with medications. But it’s increasingly clear that trauma is a moral and spiritual issue as much as a psychological or chemical one. Wherever there is trauma, there has been betrayal, an abuse of authority, a moral injury.
Note that he doesn't like calling it an "individual" illness. It's wherever "there is" trauma,  and "there has been" betrayal, like Trump's "there is no" collusion. It's a sickness of the social organism, not bound to any particular persons, which means that David F. Brooks suffers from it just as much as the Afghanistan vet. And he's not asking for any medication. What's wrong with you guys?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Nightmares

Via.

A couple of truly bizarre misinterpretations in Mark Landler's New York Times account of the emperor's views on the murder of Jamal Kashoggi—first,
Mr. Trump, who had once condemned the Saudi leaders for perpetrating “the worst cover-up in history,” praised Saudi Arabia this weekend as a “truly spectacular ally,” even after the C.I.A. concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, ordered the murder.
"Condemned" is a very peculiar descriptor for Trump's initial remarks on the killing, and especially the cover-up—

And don't go mistaking Paradise for that Pleasure down the road

Paradise, 16 June, photo by AFP via BBC.


Meanwhile, Emily Jane Fox of Vanity Fair (h/t Raw Story) has been reporting on Emperor Trump's intense anxiety over the fate of his eldest son, Junior, expecting to be indicted over his involvement in the Russia business, and now she's looking into its motives. What's he anxious about?