Thursday, June 21, 2018

Literary Corner: Trump is Right!

Four Corinthians, the whole New Testament only has two. TV-room/mancave in the Trump Tower 63rd-story penthouse, not as good as Trump's own place upstairs because where's the gold, via

On the Elite
by Donald J. Trump

You ever notice they always call
the other side ‘the elite’? The elite!
Why are they elite? I have a
much better apartment than they do.
I’m smarter than they are.
I’m richer than they are.
I became president and they didn’t.
(From the Duluth rally, 20 June 2018)

He's absolutely right. This needs to be understood. People who use "elite" to refer to people who don't have money and power are using the word incorrectly. Who does that, anyway?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

We don't have to prosecute them/but then we're not prosecuting them

Francisco de Goya, St. Peter Repentant, 1823-25. Via Wikipedia.

The truest Trump is perhaps the one who's spare and blank and at the same time musically repetitive, like the Eliot of "Ash Wednesday" ("Because I know that time is always time/ And place is always and only place/And what is actual is actual only for one time/ And only for one place...")—in this case literally true, because, speaking to the National Federation of Independent Businesses on their 75th anniversary, uncharacteristically using fairly elaborate notes but no prepared text, he found himself hovering around, if not quite landing on, a helipad of contrition:

by Donald J. Trump

We have one chance
to get it right.
We might as well
get it right or let's
just keep it going but
let’s do it right.
We have a chance. We want to solve
this problem. We want to solve
family separation. I don’t want
children taken away from parents
and when you prosecute the parents
for coming in illegally, which should happen,
you have to take the children away.
Now, we don’t have to prosecute them
but then we’re not prosecuting them
for coming in illegally. That’s not good.

It's the acknowledgment that this crisis of concentration camps for children is of his own making: he did it, personally, voluntarily, in some kind of knowledge of what the consequences were going to be. "We don't have to" but it "should happen" (dodging the responsibility with the impersonal verb).

And then what do you know? After contrition comes atonement, and lo and behold!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

No True Conservative Would Ever Tear a Family Apart

In Tijuana, from the April "caravan", via CNN.

Now that Anthony Scaramucci and Franklin Graham are on board, Brooks ("The Rise of the Amnesty Thugs") is venturing out to say he doesn't think much of the Sessions-Miller-Trump family separation party either, and it's not so bad in parts, especially since he points out that it's not just the CPB at the border that's violently separating immigrant families, but also ICE in the heartland, with links:
Sontag and Russakoff capture the fabric of immigration enforcement today: a van-load of men coming back from an Alcoholics Anonymous gathering detained by a state trooper after a routine traffic stop; a magisterial district judge in Camp Hill, Pa., pre-empting a Tajik wedding by calling ICE on the groom and best man, who were led away in handcuffs; work sites raided, with the Latinos separated from everybody else and lined up face to the wall; police officers who ticket Hispanics at a rate of twice or even five times their share of the population.
But of course there's always a razor blade in that apple, as our friends Driftglass and Boswood likes to say, which is that what he wants to say about it isn't so much that it's bad, or that it has to be stopped, or that Republican Senators need to do something about it, which would be terribly commonplace, as to produce his own smoking hot take, which is to clarify that it's not conservative! Though it is anti-liberal, where "liberal" means, as is becoming usual in the movement, "conservative looking for liberal approval", or trying to lull liberals into argumentative cease-fire, or into uniting against the common enemy of Imaginary Collectivism—Black Lives Matter secretly planning to turn into the Great Leap Forward and enslave us all!

That is, what's wrong with the Trump policy is its relentless statism:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Literary Corner: Particular Vernacular

George Rose as Major-General Stanley in the Joseph Papp production of Pirates of Penzance at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, 1980 (if you watch the video you'll get a glimpse of the stars, Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline).

Particular Vernacular (To the tune of "I Am the Very Model")

"He says things that are not true all the time," Karl said.
"I don't believe that," Bannon said. "I think
he speaks in a particular vernacular that connects
to people in this country." (ABC News)
Our president has mastered a particular vernacular
By turns appealing, angry, cheery, solemn, and spectacular,
A sort of synthesis comprising every kind of orat'ry
Like some concoction out of a rhetorical laborat'ry.
He calls down angry curses on the evils of society,
And feels the sorrow of our economical anxiety,
And praises his own genes and brains and beauty and tenacity,
But you must never, ever think to question his veracity!
[But we must never, ever think to question his veracity,
No, we must never, ever think to question his veracity,
No, we must never, ever think to question his veraci-racity!]
So if in certain circumstances pleasant or unpleasant, you
Should just occasionally hear him say a thing that isn't true,
Do not deny the substance of his utterance oracular—
It's only Donald doing his particular vernacular.
[We won't deny the substance of his utterance oracular—
It's only Donald doing his particular vernacular!]

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Gray-green Eminence: Stephen Bannon as depicted on the cover of Time. 2 February 2017, via Flickr.

Actually why is Stephen Bannon important again?

I started noticing something like a Bannon comeback around a week ago, when he turned up in back-to-back articles in the Times as a crucial window into the Trumpian mind, that hilarious Mark Landler piece on Trump's deep study of the North Korea issue—
“To the president, ‘duck and cover’ and the Cuban missile crisis were formative experiences,” said Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist. “He knows the Korean War hasn’t ended, and he can accomplish what destroyed his idol, General MacArthur.”
And the next day in the latest iteration of the "Trump feels emboldened and is taking over now" theme, by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Consider the lilies: Update

From the 1952 Mosfilm production of Nikolai Gogol's Revizor, commonly known in English as The Inspector General.

One good reason why the FBI Inspector General's report has so little to say about the rogue agents in the New York field office who leaked information about the Clinton email investigation to Fox News, Rudolph Giuliani and James Kallstrom, and others and manipulated Comey into his very bad decisions—the investigation is ongoing, as Mother Jones reports:
The FBI leaked like a sieve in 2016, and those disclosures helped Donald Trump, according to a newly released inspector general’s report on former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The 500-page report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz suggests anti-Clinton leaking from the bureau’s New York office likely influenced Comey’s decision to announce the resumption of the email probe less than two weeks before the presidential election—a step that may have thrown the race to Trump. The FBI could be in for a bloodbath over these leaks: Horowitz says his office plans to report on multiple investigations into extensive “unauthorized media contact by FBI personnel.”
Josh Marshall is still inclined to doubt that they've taken it seriously, and I have to say the Mother Jones story seems kind of thin; the multiple investigations promised in the report aren't necessarily the ones that need to be done:
In addition to the significant number of communications between FBI employees and journalists, we identified social interactions between FBI employees and journalists that were, at a minimum, inconsistent with FBI policy and Department ethics rules. For example, we identified instances where FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were the guests of journalists at nonpublic social events. We will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded, consistent with the Inspector General (IG) Act, other applicable federal statutes, and OIG policy.
It certainly wouldn't cover leaking to Congressional bad actors like Devin Nunes, in a really startling story Marshall relates that Nunes told on himself on Laura Ingraham's show:

Friday, June 15, 2018

Consider the Lilies of the Field Office

Can't come up with a great credit for this, but it's indoors in the New York Field Office,  via

Not quite: there is a single mention, sort of, making it clear that the New York office was where they expected the leak of the Weiner laptop investigation to be leaked from, on p. 359 (h/t Tim Dickinson/Rolling Stone):

But no followup, and that's why Josh's frustration is justified. What made them confident the New York office would leak it?

Philosophic Nub

Not relevant to the post, but expresses something of the way I feel. xkcd via an old Language Log.

Are you sick of being forced to choose between (in the words of Margarita A. Mooney, Associate Professor of Congregational Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, from a 2012 blogpost at Patheos describing lessons she learned when she was a grad student, on a flight to Paris with the eminent political scientist Paul Sigmund, a son-in-law of Ambassador Lindy Boggs)
Marxist materialism and other forms of collectivism in which the individual is subsumed to the communal and the individual has no inherent worth
the idea that economic prosperity is the final ends of individuals and societies

Then David F. Brooks (I think there may be a David Brooks Plagiarism Watch situation with Mooney, whose post he links in today's column only after 14 paragraphs of material most of which she discusses) has a philosophy for you! As he says, "Personalism: The Philosophy We Need". Are you sick of philosophies you don't need? Me too! Those things are just taking up space! Plus, they're a fire hazard, since they're entirely made of straw, and extremely dry.