Friday, December 14, 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


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.


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.


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!