Monday, December 31, 2018

Literary Corner: Makes Sense to Me!

Photo by Mani Albrecht/DVIDS via Fast Company.





I was enchanted from the start by the lapidary beauty, almost Chinese, of that first sentence in these Trump tweets from almost a year ago, but didn't know what to do with it—with the pedestrian rest of the sequence, which seemed to be about how it wasn't "the Wall" at all, and wouldn't be paid for either, but somehow compensated when he punished Mexico for its offensive habits of manufacturing car parts for American firms, so in this lose-lose arrangement they'd be doing as badly as we were.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Kettle-Corn Kevin

Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls, 1966.
London Skinheads, 1980s, photograph curated (I guess) by Sean Reveron.

Haven't noticed National Review's Kevin D. Williamson ("Whose Streets, Indeed?") doing this in a long time, pretending to be Tom Wolfe:

S
o there’s this really whacked-out young lady just absolutely spitting high on rage with one of those weird Chelsea Girl fringe haircuts like skinhead molls used to wear back in the Age of Reagan and she is right at this moment very fixated on — and I am not making this up — kettle corn, that weird repulsive caramel-coated Dutch mutant popcorn varietal sold at state fairs and any place men in laced-up pirate blouses are gathered, and she’s just going on and on about it, screaming at the top of her skinny little lungs: “It’s salty and sweet! It’s salty and sweet! It’s salty and sweet!”

This is some of your High Bad Writing indeed, pounding the reader with cultural signifiers without regard to the laws of physics, in allowing a character to be simultaneously wearing two completely different haircuts and whacked out on rage while fixated on snacks, I mean even if rage really does give you munchies, which is somewhat at odds with my own experience of both, can you be fixated on kettle corn and spitting with rage at the same instant? Or is it the kettle corn that enrages her? Is she high on rage because it's salty and sweet? Does that give her something in common with Kevin D. Williamson? How many places are there where men in laced pirate blouses gather, other than Disney movie sets and maybe a Halloween party gone wrong, and are any of them really state fairs? Do our lungs in fact comport with our body types, do we have fat lungs, skinny lungs, and mesomorphic lungs to match the various torsos that enclose them?

Wall Is Lost!


And the best part is free shipping.


OK so for starters the Mexican border is secure. Found a very nice account from the human rights advocacy group WOLA providing US government statistics. Migrant apprehensions are at their lowest levels since the early 1970s. Children and families make up about 40% of them now, as opposed to 10% as recently as 2012, and they're overwhelmingly from the Northern Triangle of Central America, not Mexico. Of unaccompanied children, 0.06% are suspected of being members of MS-13 (no word on how many are actually members, suggesting they haven't found any). Of migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol, 0.03% are from "countries of interest" as defined by the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (i.e. countries with lots of scary Muslims), and of these, 788 of 1,010 in 2017 were from just two countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Terrorists, like eonomic migrants in increasing numbers, prefer to enter the US with legitimate visas and then overstay, which is a lot easier than crossing the Mexican border. Drug deliveries of opiates and amphetamines overwhelmingly come through the USPS or by vehicles crossing the border at official crossings; the only drug significantly crossing where the Wall would go is marijuana. Human trafficking may be bad, there are no reliable numbers, but bringing victims, prostitutes and slave workers, to America, endangers the foreigners being trafficked, not the Americans who are going to exploit them. There is no crisis, and there is nothing wrong that a Wall would fix. Repair fencing, by all means, install more cameras, hire some of those contract agents you've been unable to hire—

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Vicinity of Prague

Bohemian forest retreat, by Uhlik Architekti.

Very startled by this story from McClatchy that seems to corroborate one of the key details of the Steele memos, according to which
A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say.
During the same period of late August or early September, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague, two people familiar with the incident said.
Which is consistent with two of Steele's most startling reports, in BooMan's paraphrase, placing Cohen somewhere around Prague at that point

Jon Swift Roundup

Batocchio piccolo rosso, a Venetian carnival mask for a pretty small face, via Maskworld.

For in those days it is written that the late and great journalist Al Weisel, who used to blog snark as Modest Jon Swift, did wish to encourage the humble bloggers throughout the land and even outside of it and to make their work known far and wide, and each year somewhat after the winter solstice did assemble a metapost to which every blogger no matter how small might link her or his favorite post of the year, which tradition is maintained and curated by our friend Batocchio, this year's edition of the Jon Swift Roundup #jonswift2018 is online, and if you want something to read there's tons of great stuff from many friends old and new, funny, thoughtful, sweet, and terrifying as your mood requires.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

House of Cards

From Veep, I guess 3rd season, via.

I don't know if I've made a point of how deprived I've been, in recent years, of contact with popular entertainment culture, as the old lady has dropped herself into an insane work routine and the kids have gotten old and don't need to be monitored any more and I'm left to live the non-work half of my life in the blog world and not getting much conventional entertainment of any kind, and, long story short, one of the things in contemporary cultural life I'm most ignorant of is the artistically ambitious TV series from The Sopranos and Game of Thrones onward, but yesterday we wound up watching the first episodes of House of Cards, so that I got to notice something for the first time two years after the election that everybody else saw three years before, with the effect that I saw it, I think, in a quite different way.

Namely, the story of the Conservative politician Francis and his lady Claire Urquhart, originally written by Michael Dobbs, now Lord Dobbs of Wylye, translated to some kind of America where the protagonists are Frank and Claire Underwood, vaguely evokes Bill and Hillary Clinton, as everybody must know: he's a politician from the South, with a very shallowly liberal kind of perspective, and she has short blonde hair, and their connection seems not sexual, or with a sexiness that's not based on sex but the deployment of power, or mind-fucking, like the relationship between the ex-lovers Valmont and Mme de Merteuil as they seduce other victims and brag to each other in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. And I have to say we all thought it was kind of crude, at least at the beginning, with the characters' villainy being so undisguised in the Dallas-style dialogue, though also very exciting and dramaturgically effective, I'm not gonna lie.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

An Irony of Unimaginable Proportions

Reprinted (with minor edits) from Christmas 2012
On the conservative Liberty Counsel radio show Faith and Freedom, hosts Mat Staver and Matt Barber discuss the fact that an elementary school in Jackson County, Fla., removed a nativity scene while allowing Santa Clause and Frosty the Snowman to remain. “What an irony at this time of year, where Jesus gets put in the closet, and in California, where we’re litigating out there, where they’re wanting to make homosexuality the preferred method or topic of counseling discussions, but anything contrary to that would be banned,” said Staver.
“This is just an irony of unimaginable proportions,” he went on. “When we say there’s a war on Christmas and somebody says ‘oh,’ mockingly, ‘oh there’s no war on Christmas,’ this is a war on Christmas. This is discrimination, it is viewpoint-based discrimination.” Then Barber argued that as “people who are engaged in all form of aberrant sexual behavior” come out of the closet, “Christians are being forced into the closet, and here literally the baby Jesus is forced and crammed into the closet."
(Via Raw Story)
Houses of Parliament, London, February 2009. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe.
If homosexuality is the method of the counseling discussion then it's not the topic, and if it's the topic then it's not the method, because anything contrary to that is banned, but you don't have to have counseling discussions at all, honestly, and most of us don't. At worst you can just have counseling. Let the record show that.

As to whether it's a war or not, that's a matter of perspective, isn't it? But to my way of thinking, there's something awfully violent about the concept of a war and it doesn't represent the way I feel, which doesn't even have anything directly to do with Christians and Christmasites; it's more about our own traditions and families, and preserving them the way they've always been.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Whaddaya know, I'm with Chomsky

Rebel-held Douma, May 2017, photo by ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images, via TheOdysseyOnline.

"Let's declare victory and go home." There was a lot of logic to that position in the Vietnam case, as had become clear to everybody by the time the Ford administration got around to it, about seven years too late for the victory-declaration part.

But what was really needed in that case was for the United States to lose the war, as did duly happen, and for somebody to win, namely the Communist Party of Vietnam and its armed wing, the People's Army, which was fully prepared to take power, though its rule would be harsh for the first decades, and a lot of people wouldn't be able to live with it—there was also a broad willingness in the US to take on refugees from Vietnam, which did a lot to alleviate that. It would have been much better if the US had lost a bit more definitively, and begun paying reparations as well, for the terrible environmental and economic damage it had brought about, but that did not happen. (Although the trade embargo ended under the Clinton presidency and economic cooperation became very lively under Obama.)

What I want to say is, when you make a violent assault on a country and recognize that it was the wrong thing to do, it's not enough to dust off your hands and walk away, "Oops, my bad." You need to do something about the horror you've created and to take some punishment. You need to give something back, preferably in a peaceful currency. If World War II was really "the good war", it was less on account of the wickedness of the enemies (nobody prevented the Rape of Nanjing or the Holocaust or gave Jewish refugees a home in North America) as much as the Marshall Plan in Europe and the Japan reconstruction initiatives, which truly did something to atone for the atrocities committed in turn by the Allies.

It would also have been a lot better if the US had definitively lost the war in Iraq, only in this case there wasn't anybody available to lose to—that is, I thought there was somebody (as I started saying four years ago), in the form of the populist-nationalist Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who was almost equally hostile to the US and Iran, and eager for collaboration with Sunni and actual-leftist factions, but I was alone in that view until lo these many years later, after his Sairun party won enough seats in the May elections to become an essential element in any ruling coalition, and some of the wise men started noticing him, like Michael D. Sullivan in Foreign Policy (a post slightly marred by Sullivan's insistent belief that he was just as right when he was anti-Sadr as he is now that he's pro):

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The non-general in his labyrinth

Update: Thanks for the shoutout, Infidel753!

Screenshot from Jim Henson's Labyrinth, 1986.

A lot of people roll their eyes when journalists like Haberman and Baker file another story about Trump's "increasing isolation"—how much more could it have increased since the last time they wrote it? Is it getting near bottom yet?
WASHINGTON — When President Trump grows frustrated with advisers during meetings, which is not an uncommon occurrence, he sits back in his chair, crosses his arms and scowls. Often he erupts. “Freaking idiots!” he calls his aides. Except he uses a more pungent word than “freaking.”
For two years, Mr. Trump has waged war against his own government, convinced that people around him are fools. Angry that they resist his wishes, uninterested in the details of their briefings, he becomes especially agitated when they tell him he does not have the power to do what he wants, which makes him suspicious that they are secretly undermining him.
Personally, I've long thought such stories were appropriate to the Trump administration, in the same way the protocol trivialities and sly portraiture of the memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon were appropriate to the reign of Louis XIV, because that's the kind of administration it is, based on the day-to-day lurches in the emperor's mood and how he bestows his favor. Yesterday he was praising the newly resigned General Mattis for his distinguished service, today somebody's explained to him what the resignation letter said and he's demanding Mattis leave by New Year, instead of sticking it out through February:

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Literary Corner: Wallternatives

Stretch of the Great Wall in a rural region, somewhat in disrepair, photo by Mark Holmquist/Wikimedia Commons.

When Trump started saying "wall" without an article and Kirst Jen Nielsen decided to imitate him, as if this was the latest style ("From Congress, I would ask for wall. We need wall" and "DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly. We are not replacing short, outdated and ineffective wall with similar wall"), I was inspired to some song parody after Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, 1955:
The attached video, a rapid tour of the US-Mexico border made out of Google Earth shots, is a really extraordinary piece of film and I urge everybody to watch it, even though it looks kind of long.

Trump's latest summary of his infatuation with wall covers a tremendous number of bases in a very compact way, in one of those song-like forms he sometimes experiments with:

Friday, December 21, 2018

Post-Libertarians Shopping For Ideas



Hey la hey la, my Brooksy's back ("A New Center Being Born")!
Americans have lost faith in the big institutions of society. Many fly off to extremes, to the Donald Trump right or the Bernie Sanders left. Most of the rest of us feel adrift, gloomy and politically homeless.
But people figure it out. New ideas emerge. Old ideas are put together in new ways. Today, I offer you just one example — the Niskanen Center, which has become one of the most creative think tanks in America today.
I feel less politically homeless than any time I can remember, in a wildly quarrelsome but furiously loyal Democratic party—like an Italian or Jewish or Chinese family, full of drama and hot rages and sloppy kisses, not like an Anglo one—where there's suddenly room for all my contradictory priorities to be entertained, if not necessarily carried through. But anyway...

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Turkey

Trump Towers Istanbul, via Hürriyet Daily News.

What provoked Trump to decide to pull the 2,200 US troops out of Syria by tweet wasn't a Fox story or a hallucination, or anything to do with Vladimir Putin either, contrary to what you may be hearing over the Internet, but apparently a phone call last Friday from the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as Karen DeYoung reports at the Washington Post:

Officials familiar with the Friday call said that Erdogan, among other things, had stressed to Trump that the Syrian Kurds were terrorists — allied with Kurdish separatists in his own country — and asked why the United States was supporting them rather than its NATO ally. He noted that the Islamic State had been vanquished and questioned the need for an ongoing U.S. troop presence, saying that Turkish troops already massed on the Syrian border could handle any problem there.
The Erdogan call, many concluded as they tried to understand the reasoning behind a decision widely considered rash and unwise, was the only thing that could have provoked Trump. A senior congressional aide speculated that the call, and the withdrawal, were “definitely related.”
Erdoğan's call must have been a response to something else that happened on Friday, which I found out about in an article by Michael Jansen/Irish Times: the Pentagon issuing a warning to Turkey over Erdoğan's planned expedition to Syrian Kurdistan:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

For the Record: It's Wall Good

Tijuana side of the border fence, Mothers' Day, 2016. Photo by Brooke Binkowski.



Make that "or the mass disruption".

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Out Like Flynn

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty via Paste.

A couple of things about old General Flynn that may perhaps not be getting said because a responsible journalist can't say them (late addition: Erin Branco/Daily Beast is going there, in fact):

I.

We irresponsibles can say pretty much precisely what he was doing on 29 December 2016—after the Obama administration announced a set of diplomatic measures to punish Russia for its interference in the presidential election (expulsion of Russian personnel, and sanctions on individuals and agencies suspected of involvement in hacking) and foreign minister Lavrov announced that Russia would retaliate—
—when he engaged in a series of phone calls from his vacation spot in the Dominican Republic with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that were intercepted by the FBI in its normal surveillance of Kislyak's phone and with an official from the presidential transition team (PTT).

Namely, when he advised Kislyak that the Russian government should not retaliate against these new sanctions and spoke about the possibility of lifting US sanctions after Trump's inauguration, he was working to tamp down a conflict that would interfere with the lifting of sanctions, which was an essential element of the Trump campaign's arrangement with the Russians.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Winston

It's well known that all babies look like Winston Churchill, but the resemblance is even more amazing when they actually are Winston Churchill. Photo via somebody's Pinterest.


Mr. Bret Stephens suggesting a new biography for our Christmas reading, Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Walker, as "an antidote to the reigning conceits, self-deceptions, half-truths and clichés of our day":
For instance: Being born into “privilege” is ipso facto a privilege.
For Churchill — who suffered as a child under the remote glare of contemptuous father and a self-indulgent mother; fought valiantly in four wars by the time he was 25; and earned his own living through prodigious literary efforts that ultimately earned him a Nobel Prize — the main privilege was the opportunity to bear up under the immense weight of inner expectation that came with being born to a historic name.
It's true that Churchill's careers in the military and politics didn't pay him enough to live in the style to which he accustomed himself, as Alan Livsey/Financial Times wrote in his review of David Lough's 2015 No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money:

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Literary Corner: Rhyme



Great Liability
by Donald J. Trump
I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.
He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know
the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and
a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made.
      That is why they get paid.
Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly
stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to
campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because
this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty
on many charges unrelated to me,
but he pled to two campaign charges
which were not criminal and of which he probably
was not guilty even on a civil basis.
Those charges were just agreed to by him in order
to embarrass the president and get a much reduced
prison sentence, which he did—including the fact
that his family was temporarily let off the hook.
As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!
They gave General Flynn a great deal
because they were embarrassed by the way
he was treated - the FBI said he didn’t lie
     and they overrode the FBI.
They want to scare everybody into
     making up stories that are not true.

Friday, December 14, 2018

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?