February 4, 2017

After walking in Wisconsin, where the cold wind hurt my face, I had a conversation with Siri...




Here's where that last link goes "The 10 Best Weather Cities." It doesn't work for me because hot and dry is not my idea of "best." I like seasons and moisture.

"Third-party report finds that the Dog’s Purpose video was intentionally misleading..."

"The report falls in line with claims from numerous people involved in the movie’s production who have seen the full footage of the day’s events."

The video was originally discussed on this blog here: "Expensive dog movie — 'A Dog's Purpose' — struggles for its life in the roiling waters of public opinion after a video leaked out of one of the stunt dogs resisting pressure to serve his purpose of playing the role of a dog willingly leaping into roiling waters to save a human life."

"The first thing we're going to do is to go over some of the amenities of The Home Theater Experience."



"Portlandia" has been even greater than usual lately. The Home Theater Experience material from the new episode is the clip I found on line, and AV Club liked it best, but what I really wanted to show you was the "safe bully" part:
[Fred Armisen plays] “The Safe Bully,” who is brought in by a school after a PTA meeting where parents complain that their children don’t have enough grit. He picks on kids, but also helps them up, and even offers them food when they don’t have any lunch money. It’s a lot of cognitive dissonance for the children, but it ultimately works, as within three days, they gain the courage to stand up to him, and his work is done. Amusingly, the parents now complain that their children have too much grit, and they can no longer tell them what to do....

Beating out "1984" as the #1 best-selling book at Amazon — it's Milo Yiannopoulos.



Is this book even written yet? You can only advance-order it. The publication date is March 14th. Here's the link to buy it and simultaneously make a contribution to the Althouse blog (without paying extra).

My son John writes:
The Streisand effect: you attract publicity for what you were trying to conceal

The Milo effect: you get free publicity by rioters and arsonists trying to stop you from speaking, and your book becomes a #1 best-seller before it's released
And at that link, there are people talking about something I was going to bring up earlier this morning when I was writing a post about Robert Reich's floating the rumor that the Milo protesters were actually right-wingers. If we see that Milo benefits, it makes sense to explore the possibility that the protesters were pro-Milo. I don't believe that. I think the protesters are just very bad at understanding the consequences of their behavior (or they just don't care).

ADDED: "Dangerous" may have been #1 at some earlier point. At Breitbart, I'm seeing: "The book is now back at the top of Amazon’s rankings, holding the #1 best seller spot for books." Key word: "back." But the cause-and-effect of the protests is plain:
Pre-order sales of Breitbart Senior Editor MILO’s upcoming book Dangerous increased by 12,740% following the violent left-wing and “anti-fascist” riot that occurred at UC Berkeley on Wednesday in protest of a scheduled speech by MILO on campus.

"Vandals scratch sinister message into pensioner’s beloved yellow car because it ruins the view of their picturesque village."

"Tourists moaned about the 'ugly' car on medieval Arlington Row, which is on the UK passport’s inside cover.... The word 'Move' had been scratched into the bonnet of the car, and the driver’s side window and rear windscreen had been smashed."

"You should never have resigned. You didn’t do anything wrong. You only did what the president ordered. Why are you quitting? You raised me not to be a quitter. Why are you a quitter?"

What Neil Gorsuch said to his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, when he was 15 years old, as reported in the NYT piece, "In Fall of Gorsuch’s Mother, a Painful Lesson in Politicking."
More than three decades later, Judge Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, has been nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump and faces a political culture even more caustic than the one that destroyed his mother’s public career. Like her, he is a committed conservative and can expect strong opposition, but where she was bold and brash, he has advanced to the pinnacle of the judiciary with understatement and polish.

"How protesters plan to get under Trump’s skin wherever he goes."

A headline at The Washington Post.

By the way, wasn't that Hillary Clinton's plan for the debates — "get under Trump's skin"? Wasn't there an old idea way back then that Trump was "thin-skinned"* and could be defeated by getting under his skin? He'd self-destruct? That's how I've packaged my memories of how everybody who tried failed to keep Trump from winning.

Back to the WaPo article, which is by Perry Stein and David A. Fahrenthold:
Having sought to create unprecedented disruption in Washington, his critics will now seek to bring unprecedented disruption to his life as president — including demonstrations that follow him when he travels, and protests that will dog his businesses even when he doesn’t.
Why aren't these people afraid that Trump draws energy from this negativity?
There have been small gestures of pique: lipstick graffiti on the sign at Trump’s golf course in Los Angeles, and a plan for a mass mooning of his hotel in Chicago. There have also been more organized efforts to take time and money away from family businesses — a boycott of stores selling Ivanka Trump’s clothes and a campaign to flood Trump businesses with calls demanding that the president divest from his holdings.

For Trump’s opponents, these demonstrations are a way to change his behavior by denting the president’s own self-image, as a popular man with a successful business.
Why would what hasn't worked yet suddenly start working?

"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"

"When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security - big trouble!"

Trump tweets, quoted in Yahoo's "Trump fumes, vows to act, after judge lifts travel ban."

"Watch The Beatles Record 'Hey Bulldog' in 1968."

Guitar World is telling us what to do:



"The February 1968 footage seen in the clip was originally utilized in the 'Lady Madonna' promotional video, until someone (perhaps a talented lip reader) noticed the band was actually recording 'Hey Bulldog' (The band recorded both songs during the same sessions). The footage was later re-cut to fit 'Hey Bulldog,' one of many standouts from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album."

The new "selected tags" widget.

Check it out in the sidebar.

I was asked the other day by Another Unknown:
I’d like to see a post about your post tags. And then, that post would naturally require you to use all of your tags. That would be fun and interesting. Separately, is there a way to see all the Althouse tags? I know we can click on a tag used in a particular post and see all of the other related postings, but is there a way to see the full list of tags?
There are 6,444 tags on this blog. Back in 2013, here, I did a post listing all the tags when the total was under 4,000. I'm not going to list all the 6,444 tags now, and I'm surely not going to put them in the sidebar. It would make the page absurdly long and presumably slow loading. But I was able to see how to do a sidebar widget with selected tags. It was a big job eyeballing all 6,444 tags while thinking about how to choose what to make visible in the sidebar.

Writing that last sentence made the tag "seen and unseen" appropriate for this post, and that's an example — perhaps the prime example — of the kind of tag I selected for display in the sidebar. I picked mostly abstractions, especially ones that pull together miscellaneous things. I excluded the biggest category of tags: Names of people. I also excluded tags for animals — bats, bears, bees, etc. — objects — furniture, sandwiches — and places — Lake Mendota, Yellowstone. I excluded many big categories — books, movies, TV, religion, law — because they were big but specific in ways that made them not seem to be doors that anyone would be intrigued to open.

I wanted a list of tags that I'd enjoy poking into. The tags are in order by frequency, with the last thing on the list — the least-used of the selected — being "unwritten books." Perhaps — with all my new time — I am writing a book or many books using what I've collected over the past 13 years under those tags.

What got me onto this tag-widget project — in addition to the nudging by Another Unknown — is something I wrote at the end of the first post of today:
The only way it's "hyperbolic" to call it stealing is if you expect us to modify language to coddle and insulate politicians. It's not hyperbole to defeat that expectation. It's clear speech — my #1 cause on this blog.
"Clear speech" is the tag that underlies my most important unwritten book.

"I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students. Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before."

Said UC Berkeley professor and former Democratic Secretary of Labor Robert Reich — about the rioters who succeeded in shutting down a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos.
"There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event. So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth.”

“You think it’s a strategy by [Milo Yiannopoulos] or right-wingers?” asked host Don Lemon.

“I wouldn’t bet against it,” Reich said. “I saw these people. They all looked very– almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”
Yes, they did look "almost paramilitary." Here's a description:
Black-clad protesters wearing masks threw commercial-grade fireworks and rocks at police. Some even hurled Molotov cocktails that ignited fires. They also smashed windows of the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held.
They wore masks. It's ludicrous to say "I have never seen them before" when you are talking about people who hid their faces with masks.

How can you say they were from the "outside" and "not from the campus" when you can't see who they are? Even if you could see the faces, how could you know if you were looking at students? Reich may be a Berkeley professor, but there are over 38,000 students at Berkeley. He can't recognize them all.

Is he relying on some sort of stereotype of what Berkeley students look like?



That's a microaggression against students who don't look like the stereotype.

Although Reich went to Yale Law School — he's currently a professor not of law but public policy — he does not use weaseling language to say something without saying anything. That makes it easier to cry "fake news" on him as he wafts his theory.

But that doesn't mean his theory is wrong. It might be true. It's interesting to hear a person of the left say "outside agitators."

"Outside agitators" was a classic phrase used against civil rights workers. Here it is in a classic context from 1963:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely."...
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in."...

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here....

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
The last time I looked Berkeley was inside the United States.

Fake news... we're swimming in it.

The only solution: Learn to swim.

The fake news is not going to stop. It's still worth saying "fake news." It stimulates better swimming.

"Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills."

A WaPo headline.

What the government paid for was Secret Service protection.

Were there equivalent headlines for what taxpayers paid when members of Obama's family traveled to do things that were not the work of government — vacations, career-boosting internships, political fundraisers and rallies?

WaPo wafts the notion that traveling for business is different because one makes money doing business. The wafting is done through a quote from a law professor:
“This is an example of the blurring of the line between the personal interest in the family business and the government,” said Kathleen Clark, an expert on government ethics and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis....

“There is a public benefit to providing Secret Service protection,” Clark said. “But what was the public benefit from State Department personnel* participating in this private business trip to the coastal town? It raises the specter of the use of public resources for private gain.”
As an erstwhile law professor, I'm fascinated by the use of law professors to give heft to wafting theories. There's no way to know how many law professors WaPo queried before getting this quote from Clark. A cynically educated guess would be 17.** And I'm fascinated by the ability of law professors to seem to say something useful to the theory being wafted without really saying much of anything at all. Note the phrases "blurring of the line" — no line is crossed or even located — and "raises the specter" — which doesn't even acknowledge that there's an issue. A "specter" is a ghost.

In other Secret Service news, "Malia Obama parties into the early morning in NYC":
The former first daughter attended a starry HBO “Girls” premiere, then went dancing into the early hours of the morning....

We were told that “Secret Service agents were all over the place” at the party, but they managed to blend into the crowd of more than 600 guests.
_______________________

* The Secret Service is not located in the State Department — it's in the Department of Homeland Security — but the money for the Secret Service's hotel rooms was paid through the State Department. The State Department and the Secret Service refused to talk to WaPo about why the money came from the State Department. Is it the usual source of funding when the trip is outside of the homeland? WaPo doesn't explain. It just leaves us with the lawprof's wafting, which blends the spectral problem of the State Department source of funding with the question how it benefits the public to protect members of the President's family. Is that really something we wonder about?

** [ADDED at 8:33] I'm less cynical now, because I just happened to be researching a completely different government ethics question — whether Bill and Hillary Clinton stole furniture from the White House — and the government ethics expert quoted in the fact-checking article I found was Kathleen Clark:
[O]ne Steve Mittman from New York gave [Bill Clinton] two sofas, an easy chair and ottoman worth $19,900... [Mittman said he thought he was] donating to the White House itself as part a major remodeling project in 1993....

[T]he White House had retained an interior decorator who, according to the report, coordinated 43 of the 45 furniture gifts received over the Clintons’ eight years. 
Kathleen Clark focuses on government ethics law at Washington University in St. Louis. For her, that interior decorator raised a flag. "I don’t know how you coordinate gifts without soliciting them," Clark said....
There's a ban on soliciting gifts, so the solicitation would be evidence that the furniture was not a personal gift to the Clintons.
"Calling the Clintons’ actions ‘stealing’ or ‘theft’ is hyperbolic," Clark said. "It’s hard to take that language seriously in this context."  
I didn't find it hard! Clark is the one who made me see that the furniture must have been a gift to the White House and not personally to the Clintons. She said it must have been solicited. The only way it's "hyperbolic" to call it stealing is if you expect us to modify language to coddle and insulate politicians. It's not hyperbole to defeat that expectation. It's clear speech — my #1 cause on this blog.

February 3, 2017

At the Sunset Café...

IMG_0986

... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And remember The Althouse Amazon Portal... in case you're doing some shopping.)

"20 Essential Books to Prepare You for What's Next/A handy reading list featuring not-so-speculative dystopian fiction, political memoirs, and cautionary tales from Nazi Germany."

From Esquire.

What is the point of this list?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Sentence of the day.

"You know like any face I made when I was young was adorable and now if I’m worried there’s this pathetic gleam of how do I look and yet we love an old dog or an old leather couch so why not an old female arm or an ass all its own, speaking powerfully shabbily in time."

From "Aging Is Feminizing Me and I Hate It," by Eileen Myles in New York Magazine.

The Daily Mail and the New York Post report fake news on Neil Gorsuch.

They take a high-school yearbook blurb for fact, and the "fact" is that Gorsuch founded a club called "Fascism Forever."

That's either really embarrassing or outright evil. Either they don't have the common sense to detect a possible joke and they don't have the professionalism to check a fact before publishing OR they actively chose to get the rumor out there festering in the public mind and they knew they'd probably have to update and withdraw the assertion later.

"I never wanted to play to the boy-clothes market. I’ve fought my whole life trying to get boys to dress like men."

Says fashion designer Joseph Abboud, interviewed in the NYT.

I have officially hit my limit on news reports of what's happening in social media.

This is what put me over the edge: "Tammy Baldwin opposes Donald Trump's SCOTUS pick, sparks Twitter war with Scott Walker."

If mainstream journalism thinks it's better than social media, it should go out and find real-world events to describe and explain. I can read social media for myself.

And I'm especially sick of the ridiculous hyperbole like "war."

If you want mainstream prestige, talk about what is important and use grownup language. Don't effuse like a teenager about the nonevent that somebody said something on-line and then somebody else retorted.

"I don’t really know what the path to power is with protest, it’s done, this is where we are."

"If you wanna protest, protest the DNC, protest Hillary, protest whatever. But what you’re protesting here is an elected president. I think the protest is aiding this divisiveness, social media is aiding this, celebrity culture, the worst, is aiding it.... It is all about image and how people are swayed by surfaces and Trump disgusts people.... They see this big orange lump, angry, big puffy face and it really is quite a different step from the celebrity hep-cat, glamour of Obama.... People love celebrities, I love celebrities, I’m obsessed with celebrities, I’ve written books about celebrities, so I love that celebrity culture exists. But when celebrities become these kind of strident, political advisers, wagging their finger, really people don’t buy it. I do think there has been an overreaction to what’s going on. But that’s just endemic in the culture. It did not help Hillary Clinton at all having this mountain of celebrities on her side. Rejection, rejection."

Said Bret Easton Ellis. I'm totally with him on this. Exactly right. I'd say it myself, except the part about having written books about celebrities. But I have been blogging about celebrities for 13 years. I've been watching these characters as they interface with politics. They're just awful. Of course, BEE — great initials — is himself a celebrity and he's doing politics so... whatever. I love celebrities, I’m obsessed with celebrities....

"Machete-wielding man slumps to the ground after being shot in the stomach at the Louvre museum as he attacked French soldiers while screaming 'Allahu Akbar.'"

"After being refused entry, he pulled out the weapon and was shot by a soldier, officials have confirmed. A soldier is believed to have suffered a head injury."

He didn't get into the museum. So Drudge's image of the Mona Lisa is a bit hysterical.



It's not as if the man were slashing masterpieces (or tourists). Still, of course, it's bad. It was utterly squelched by soldiers (why were there soldiers at the museum?). Over a thousand people were inside and (if I'm reading this article correctly) aware that there was a terrorist attack in progress.

Donald Trump was immediately on it, Twitterwise:
'A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.'

Isn't it suicidal to veer toward a pillar?

The headline at the NYT right now is giving my too-concrete brain a concussion:



Trying to sneer at Trump while adulating Obama can get you into trouble. But if you click through to the article, the "pillars" metaphor is used with a more soothing verb: "Trump Embraces Pillars of Obama’s Foreign Policy."

Is this veering/embracing — this new respect for Obama's approach — the consequence of the arrival of Rex Tillerson?
The administration’s abrupt turnaround also coincided with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s first day at the State Department and the arrival of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in South Korea on his first official trip. Both men are viewed as potentially capable of exerting a moderating influence on the president and his cadre of White House advisers, though it was unclear how much they had to do with the shifts.
I wanted to get a picture of a man hugging a pillar to illustrate this article, and I found one at this 2013 Daily Mail article about the new fad of "koala-ing":  "First it was planking and then owling but now an even stranger craze inspired by an iconic Australian animal is sweeping the internet — koalaing."

Trump is koalaing Obama's pillars.

FutureCNN.

"We're not that far off."

Via Metafilter.

Soda.

"After watching the one-minute advertisement carefully, however, I understood feminism, or equal pay, is the last thing Audi wants you to take away from it."

"The message is far subtler, and more powerful, than the dull recitation of the pseudo-progressive catechism droning on in the background. This spot is visual — and as you’ll see below, you can’t understand it until you watch it and see what it’s really telling you."



Excellent shot-by-shot analysis at the link, which goes to a post at The Truth About Cars by Jack Baruth. Watch the commercial, form your own opinion, then read this analysis.

"NYU Students Protest Inclusion of ICE Recruiters in Law School Job Fair."

NYU Local reports:
Students have been asked to gather at the NYU Law School’s Vanderbilt Hall on Thursday at 2PM in solidarity against the inclusion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement recruiters in the school’s Public Interest Job Fair. Allowing ICE recruiters on campus is particularly sensitive at this time given President Trump’s recent executive order and NYU’s vague position on Sanctuary Campus status.
I don't see an update there. What happened?

Googling, I find "Hundreds attend IYSSE rallies to defend immigrant rights in New York and San Diego" at World Socialist Web Site — "Students and workers at San Diego State University (SDSU) and New York University (NYU) rallied Thursday afternoon" — but that's not the Law School event. Somewhat interesting though:
IYSSE leaders who spoke at the rallies provided an international socialist perspective, emphasizing that Trump’s attack on immigrants is part of an attack on the entire working class supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Speakers reviewed the danger of war, the terrible social conditions facing workers and youth and the need to break with the Democratic Party and build an independent party of the working class.
Liberals attacked from the left — now, that is one of my favorite subjects:
Nicole, a student at SDSU, said after the meeting that she was particularly happy to hear about the IYSSE’s affiliation with the SEP, stating that the two-party system was a dead end. “You know, we have never had a poor president,” Nicole explained, adding, “What do they know about the interests of the poor?”

February 2, 2017

At the Sleeping Tree Café

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... you can talk about anything you want.

And please remember — if you're enjoying this blog — to use The Althouse Amazon Portal if you're shopping on line.

Howard Stern reveals what he knows and thinks about his friend Donald Trump.



ADDED: Howard's sonorous voice and intimate gabby chatting style might carry you along, especially if you're driving and want the feeling of a friend keeping you company, but there's little substance here. He's filling the time and coasting on the fact of his longtime friendship with Trump, but it's the kind of freewheeling speculation about Trump's motives and feelings that anyone might bullshit about. I'll bet if you clicked on this and tried to just sit and listen, you got exasperated waiting for "beans."

"President Trump... for the first time warned the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off new settlement construction."

The NYT reports.
“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” the White House said in a statement....

The statement resembled those issued routinely by previous administrations of both parties for decades, but Mr. Trump has positioned himself as an unabashed ally of Israel and until now had never questioned Mr. Netanyahu’s approach....

The Madison City Council considers a resolution that would "Designate City Council offices as a safe space, where all residents may enter and be safe and protected."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports. There are other parts to the resolution, which is a reaction to President Trump's immigration policies, but this "safe space" business is screwy.

Mayor Paul Soglin called it "reckless":
“The consequences of declaring the offices a safe space can be disastrous.... We have made the point that we are a sanctuary city. We are committed to justice. The law is on our side. Let us avoid a futile gesture that that may make us feel good but that does not add to the sanctity of our position and only creates enormous risk."
Sanctity?? "Sanctity" means holiness. Maybe Soglin sees it as the adjective that goes with "sanctuary." [ADDED: Another — better? — word is "sanctimoniousness."]
City attorney Michael May said language on the Trump executive orders and safe place is new, but the rest of the proposal is existing policy and practice, even though some of what’s existing isn’t written down. The safe space language is so vague that it’s essentially “meaningless,” May said, adding, “I see it as aspirational.”
Well, that's certainly reassuring. The city's lawyer says it's meaningless.

Nothing like meaninglessness to make you feel safe.

Violent ideation from Sarah Silverman.

This is an actual tweet from the once seemingly smart comedienne:
'WAKE UP & JOIN THE RESISTANCE. ONCE THE MILITARY IS W US FASCISTS GET OVERTHROWN. MAD KING & HIS HANDLERS GO BYE BYE,' Silverman wrote.

Later she added: 'We're all gonna die sounds so dire but we are though (all gonna die).'
IN THE COMMENTS: PB says:
Comedienne? when was she ever funny?
Darrell says:
Woman are smart and funny. Deal with it.
Heh. I get it:

New word learned today: "gazump."

I was reading "Malcolm Turnbull's approach vindicated by President Donald Trump's madness" in The Sydney Morning Herald:
Malcolm Turnbull, who has spent much of this week defending government secrecy over his phone conversation with Donald Trump, has just been done a favour by the forces of media scrutiny and public accountability.

On the surface, this is just another SNAFU - another uncontrolled leak that has gazumped the Prime Minister's agenda, right when he wants to talk about tax cuts, cheaper electricity, and affordable childcare.
The (unlinkable) OED says the slang word means to swindle, and traces it back to 1928:
1928   Daily Express 19 Dec. 2/7   ‘Gazoomphing the sarker’ is a method of parting a rich man from his money. An article is auctioned over and over again, and the money bid each time is added to it.
The spelling "gazump" arrives in 1971, and there's also "gasumph," "gezumph."

But wait, here's a blog post by that goes into much more detail: "Gazip, Gazipe, Gazump - Variants of Gazabo?" It looks at an earlier American word, "gazump," from 1910, that referred to an old automobile.

"The hard left, which has become so utterly anthetical to free speech in the last few years, has taken a turn post-Trump's election..."

"... where they simply will not allow any speaker on campus — even somebody as silly and harmless and gay as me — to have their voice heard. They're absolutely petrified by alternative visions of how the world ought to look."

Says Milo Yiannopoulos, in this NYT video, which also shows the violent protests that got Berkeley to shut down his speech.



I transcribed the quote, because it does not appear in the accompanying article, "Berkeley Cancels Milo Yiannopoulos Speech, and Donald Trump Tweets Outrage."

(The previous post has more detail about the Berkeley incident. I'm only putting up this second post because of the video and the interesting quote from Yiannopoulos.) 

Berkeley shuts down Milo Yiannopoulos — "Amid violence, destruction of property and out of concern for public safety..."

WaPo reports in an article headlined "Trump lashes back at Berkeley after protests block speech by Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos":
Security officials said that about 150 “masked agitators” joined the demonstration, setting fires, throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks and attacking some members of the crowd. Officers from the city of Oakland and Alameda County arrived at 7:45 p.m. to help the university and Berkeley city police. There were no immediate reports of arrests or serious injuries. The “shelter in place” order was lifted about 10 p.m., although campus police warned that protests were still going on in the surrounding community and advised people to avoid neighboring streets....

The demonstrators included “Black bloc” protesters, who wear masks and black clothing to present a unified front as they disrupt events, making it difficult for police to recognize individuals in the group. They are often seen at protests organized by groups such as Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street, destroying property and setting fires. They torched a limousine in Washington last month on the day of Trump’s inauguration, and a group spray-painted buildings and smashed electrical boxes during a demonstration in Portland, Ore., earlier in January. When a group of them arrived at Berkeley, it swiftly changed the tenor of the peaceful demonstration....
Lots more at the link, with plenty of photographs.
More than 100 faculty members signed two letters to Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. One said: “Although we object strenuously to Yiannopoulos’s views — he advocates white supremacy, transphobia and misogyny — it is rather his harmful conduct to which we call attention in asking for the cancellation of this event.”
His harmful conduct?? According to the professors:
"Yiannopoulos’s views pass from protected free speech to incitement, harassment and defamation once they publicly target individuals in his audience or on campus, creating conditions for concrete harm and actually harming students through defamatory and harassing actions. Such actions are protected neither by free speech nor by academic freedom."
What a shameful and embarrassing interpretation of free speech at the university whose name once meant FREE SPEECH!

"The potential unraveling of a refugee pact between the U.S. and Australia that President Donald Trump blasted as 'dumb'..."

"... threatens to strain ties between the longtime allies amid China’s push to extend its sway in the Pacific region," writes Rob Taylor in the WSJ.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been counting on the Obama-era deal to close off one of his government’s biggest flashpoints and resolve the fate of 1,250 refugees stranded in two Australian-backed camps in the Pacific, which for years have drawn criticism from rights groups and the United Nations over their conditions. Instead Mr. Turnbull found himself clashing with Mr. Trump in a weekend phone call, according to people familiar with the talks.

In a Twitter post Thursday, Mr. Trump suggested he could back out of the deal, which was reached in November. “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!” the post read....

Asked if there was a “Plan B” if Mr. Trump backed out, Mr. Turnbull said his government was still working on agreements with other unspecified nations, but Australia wouldn’t back down on its border-security laws, which bar asylum seekers arriving by boat from settling in the country.

“Our expectation naturally, given the commitments that have been made, is that it will go ahead,” he said. “The only option that isn’t available to [the refugees] is bringing them to Australia for the obvious reasons that that would provide a signal to the people smugglers to get back into business.”
So, Australia refuses to take in the refugees and absolutely must stick to its position so it won't incentivize more migration. But it does desperately want to move the refugees somewhere else that they'd presumably like as much as Australia. Doesn't that call into question the cited reason for excluding them? If the real reason is the concern that some of them are dangerous, it's the same reason Trump and the Americans who agree with him don't want to let them in here without "extreme vetting."

Outrage of the moment: Trump talks about "The Apprentice" at the National Prayer Breakfast and jokes about praying for Arnold Schwarzenegger...

... because the ratings for the new "Apprentice" — with Schwarzenegger taking over the Trump role — "went right down the tubes. It has been a disaster."

Here's how CNN covers it:
The comment may have been intended as a joke, but Trump's opening came in sharp contrast to how past presidents have addressed the breakfast.

Schwarzenegger promptly replied via a Twitter video: "Hey Donald. I have a great idea. Why don't we switch jobs? You take over TV, cause you're such an expert in ratings. And I take over your job, so that people can finally sleep comfortably again."
No joking! This is religion here! In the religion space, there will be no joking! You must be somber!

Has CNN ever gone to church? Whenever I've gone to church, there have been jokes in the sermon. It's a normal part of religion — from what I've seen — for people who actually practice it. And there are all sorts of calls to prayer for little things — like football games — that the believers don't really expect God to rig for them.

That's my experience within a fairly narrow range of Protestant Christians — but my range includes Presbyterians, so I've shared Trump's cultural background.

But what CNN — "They're very dishonest people" — nudges people to think is that Trump is disrespectful toward religion. I don't think that will pry religious people away from Trump. I think actual American religious people are completely comfortable with that style of humor within religion and Trump's seeming comfort with it makes him feel more not less like them.

Please compare your reaction to mine. I don't have really have a way of knowing.

The White House says Trump's talk for sending the U.S. military to deal with "bad hombres down there" in Mexico was just "lighthearted."

AP reports through a White House official who "who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the details publicly."

The leaked transcript of the phone conversation had Trump saying:
"You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it."
The unnamed source says that was "part of a discussion about how the United States and Mexico could work collaboratively to combat drug cartels and other criminal elements, and make the border more secure." That conversation, we're told, was "pleasant and constructive."

How did this conversation get leaked? I can see the value to Trump. I invite you to entertain the idea that Trump wanted it leaked.

Wanted the conversation with the Australian prime minister leaked too, but I'll put that in a second post.

ADDED: On proofread, I don't like the word "just" in the post title. I don't think it could have been just lighthearted. Humor is also serious, especially in a situation like this. I can believe Trump was trying to loosen up President Nieto and create a man-to-man relationship through humor, humor relevant to the very real problems. We know that Trump has seriously said Mexico will want to help him with his border-security project as they understand the benefits to Mexico, especially in fighting criminal gangs that harm both countries at the border. The "lighthearted" statement gets at that problem and why Nieto should work with Trump.

Now, whoever leaked the transcript has cued up this very controversy, crime across the border with Mexico. The press must pick up this story, because the irresistible candy coating is Trump saying something bad again. But to digest that story, you've got to talk about the crime problem and how anyone other than Trump has a way to solve it. "I alone can fix it," Trump has said. And is it not true? Does anyone else have a way to fix it? Having swallowed the yummy Trump-said-something-bad story, the country will take a close look at Dr. Trump's Remedy.

Trump made us talk about that. I mean, whoever leaked that story is making us talk about that.

ALSO: Consider the special problem of using humor across a language barrier. How could Trump expect nuances of tone — from lighthearted to threatening — to pass through translation correctly? Maybe you think President Enrique Peña Nieto speaks English. I looked it up. He claims to speak English, but from what I've seen, he only speaks it very poorly, not well enough to communicate with any sophistication.

In 2014, on a visit to California to address the state legislature, he offered to speak only Spanish and with no translator, because "I believe that most of you speak Spanish."

MORE: I meant to say, in that last update, Trump, in his humor/"humor" used a Spanish word, "hombre." I have no idea how that felt to Spanish-speaking Nieto. To an American, it's reminiscent of old cowboy movies, and "hombre," even without the "bad," has a negative connotation. Beyond the old cowboy context, "hombre" sounds funny to us, but it wouldn't have automatic funniness to a native Spanish-speaker. Yet, if Nieto was listening to a translator, he wouldn't even know that Trump had used the Spanish word, would he?

IN THE COMMENTS: Quoting my, "I invite you to entertain the idea that Trump wanted it leaked," Balfegor says:
Ah, I see -- perhaps the White House official spoke on condition of anonymity because it was John Miller

February 1, 2017

"Ten Meter Tower."

Tillerson confirmed by the Senate, 56 to 43

The Democrats who voted yes were Mark Warner, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Manchin.

The NYT writes:
The many votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation made his selection among the most contentious for a secretary of state in recent history, and he takes his post just as many traditional American allies are questioning the policies of President Trump. In the past 50 years, the most contentious confirmations for secretary of state were those of Condoleezza Rice in 2005, who passed by a vote of 85 to 13, and Henry Kissinger in 1973, who was confirmed 78 to 7.
I wonder how many people take this "contentiousness" seriously as anything about Tillerson as opposed to Democratic Senators dedicated to obstructing Trump.

There's also the news that Jeff Sessions has been approved by the Judiciary Committee:
The action came on a straight party-line vote, with 11 Republicans supporting their former colleague from Alabama and nine Democrats opposing him.
There was some byplay in the committee as Senator Franken attacked fellow committee member Ted Cruz when Cruz was out of the room. Cruz's co-Texan John Cornyn objected Franken's "disparaging a fellow member of the committee here in his absence," and Franken said, "Well, he should be here — first of all — and, secondly, he disparaged me." Cornyn said if Franken wanted to disparage Cruz he ought to "do it to his face," and though Senator Grassley tried to break up the fight, Franken, as the NYT put it "went right on talking — with Mr. Cruz at the center of his attacks."

I'd like to see the video. I really doubt if Democrats are winning any new fans here. If the idea is to make us feel that Trump is the lout, they've got to refrain from looking loutish.

AND: Hey, remember "Lout Rampage"?



ADDED: Ah, here's the video of Franken:



Cornyn succeeded in breaking up Franken's written presentation and drawing out Franken's irascibility. Franken had elaborate prepared remarks that included talking about Cruz and didn't want to vary from them. I don't think he knew Cruz wouldn't be there.

Brexit passes Parliament.

"Members of the House of Commons voted by 498 to 114 to advance the bill that would give Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty -- the formal process of leaving the EU."

"One problem with hyperbolically calling it a 'Muslim ban': you end up with headlines like 'Most Americans support Muslim ban.'"

Says John Althouse Cohen, commenting on a new Slate article: "First Muslim Ban Poll Finds Americans Support Trump Order by 7-Point Margin."

The poll referred to in that headline (by Reuters/Ipsos) asked the question in a way that tipped people more negatively than another poll. In that other poll, by Rasmussen, likely U.S. voters favored Trump's policy by a 23-point margin.

Jon Stewart does an anti-Trump turn on Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" that is so bad...



... that when I said that might push people toward Trump, Meade said — quite seriously — that he believed they were secretly pro-Trump.

I really don't know how "The Late Show" can have become this bad. Stewart's reliance on yelling, laughing faux-helplessly at his own jokes, and saying the words "bullshit" and "fucking" seemed really pathetic, and I think both men knew the material was awful.

And I don't know why a network show that needs ratings would offer comedy that automatically writes off half of its potential audience. What's worse is that even for the people they are trying to reach — the Trump haters — it is bad comedy. Yelling, dirty words, desperation... that's what you resort to when there are no real jokes to deliver.

And the late-night tradition used to take into account that the viewers were getting ready to go to sleep. There was a certain sweetness, a niceness. At one point Stewart does a little bit that references Johnny Carson — he holds a paper up to his forehead Carnac-style — and it just made me sad at the loss of Johnny. I longed for a make-late-night-great-again champion. I'd thought that's what Stephen Colbert was going to be.

And what was Jon Stewart doing with a dead animal on his head? I know it was a comic impression of Trump's hair, but Stewart's post-Daily-Show way of life has been a big animal-rescue facility, a sanctuary premised on an utterly unironic love for animals.

"Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it recently conducted a missile test..."

"... but it rejected accusations from the United States that the launch had violated a United Nations Security Council resolution...."
The remarks came a day after President Hassan Rouhani disparaged President Trump for his immigration order barring refugees, as well as citizens of seven predominantly-Muslim countries including Iran.

“Banning visas for other nations is the act of newcomers to the political scene,” Mr. Rouhani said.
UPDATE: National security adviser Michael Flynn said:
"President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama Administration, as well as the United Nations, as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.... The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms."

"Since the end of the 2016 election, and especially since it resulted in the victory of Donald J. Trump as president, Facebook has become utterly intolerable."

"I took the application off my phone when I realized, a few days after the election, that I felt angry every time I scrolled through my newsfeed.... Deleting the application made me feel more disconnected from these online friends from all walks of my life, but also happier and more calm. One of my many friends also feeling this way, Sarah Barak, wrote on Facebook recently: 'I feel hectored. I’ll be happier if I unfollow the worst offenders... The problem with Facebook political rants is this: It is not Twitter. I do not 'follow' my high school best friends because of their insightful political commentary; I want to see updates on their lives and pictures of their adorable children. Unlike Twitter, I don’t want to unfollow or unfriend them because of their rants, because if I do so, I’ll miss out on the all-important baby announcements and updates."

Writes Bethany Mandel in "Facebook Dead At 12, A Victim Of 2016."

Reminds me of what I wrote on Facebook yesterday:
All the politics on Facebook! Trump's fault, right? It's probably not worth begging the people of Facebook to talk about other things than Trump. Trump certainly is the most exciting character to appear in the world in my entire lifetime. But can we think of some other people and things to talk about? Here's the new Bob Dylan recording (of an old Frank Sinatra song).
(I keep my Facebook stuff private and only friend people I know in off-blog life.)

"Why are we letting Trump pick a Justice in the last year of his presidency?"

Joke seen on Facebook.

(I don't know who started it, or I would give credit.)

"I don't care what they want at this point," said Orrin Hatch.

"They" = Senate Democrats.

Senate Democrats have been failing to attend committee meetings (as a way to stop the confirmation of Trump Cabinet nominees). Hatch is the chair of the Finance Committee where every seat on the Democratic side was empty. Under the "extraordinary circumstances," Hatch allowed a vote to suspend the committee rules so it can get on with the confirmation of Steve Mnuchin (as Secretary of Treasury) and Tom Price (as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services).

The rules had required there to be at least one Democratic Party committee member present for a vote to take place, but, without that rule in the way, Republicans voted unanimously to put Mnuchin and Price through to the full Senate:
"They on their own accord refused to participate in the exercise," Hatch said about the Democrats on the committee. "They have nobody to blame but themselves."

Hatch said the Senate Parliamentarian had approved of the procedural maneuver, and insisted to reporters after the exercise was a "just utilization" of the rules. "This is all approved by the Parliamentarian," he said. "I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been."...

Hatch chuckled when confronted by questions from reporters about the little notice that the public received about Wednesday's meeting. "You were scrambling? Well, you know, that's neither here nor there," he said.

Melania's "mysterious world" — "and why she may never move into the White House."



There's not really any news here — "may never move." Maybe she will. Maybe she won't. She's mysterious!

In other words, US Weekly knows nothing...
"They will reevaluate toward the end of the school year if they will keep this arrangement or if Melania and Barron will move to Washington," [says the unnamed "family insider."] "They could go either way right now. They will ultimately do what's best for Barron."
... but it's still riveting the attention of a certain sort of soft, distanced political observer, the kind that responds to the lure of a cover she sees while waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket.

Just yesterday, I was blogging about the previous week's issue of US Weekly, the one with Trump's 5 children on the cover. The feminist rabble-rouser Jessica Valenti had called for people to cancel their US Weekly subscriptions (as if her readers — or anybody — subscribes to the thing (it's more of a checkout-line impulse buy, isn't it?)). And Mashable's Heather Dockray chided the rag for "normalizing" Trump.

US Weekly may not know much about how the Trumps live their private life, but it must know its audience and what sells magazines. The thing has been around for 40 years. It knows its groove through the culture, the right degree of coziness with politics, the niceness toward celebrities. From its Wikipedia page:
It was acquired by Jan Wenner in 1985 and is a part of Wenner Media LLC, which also publishes Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal... In 1999... Wenner expressed his intention to keep Us "celebrity-friendly" in contrast with the more gossipy character of its competitors. He told The New York Times: "We will be nice to celebrities. A lot of my friends are in the entertainment business."...

[In 2007, Tina Brown said,] "I adore Us Weekly. I think it's a genius magazine. I'm a big fan of magazines that fulfill the goal of what they're trying to be."...

The magazine was criticized for allegedly biased coverage of the 2008 Republican National Convention. The September 5, 2008, issue featured Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the cover with the headline "Babies, Lies & Scandal", while the June 19, 2008, issue featured U.S. Senator from Illinois Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama with the headline "Why Barack Loves Her." 
US Weekly is kind of a safe space for people who want to think that celebrities are nice. If you're not one of those people, you're probably not picking up US Weekly anyway. It's not for you. But the don't-normalize-Trump crowd might get upset because they need the whole supermarket to be a safe space and these Trump covers are impinging on their mental peace. These people have to worry that other people like the magazine, and what is on the cover is presumably what US Weekly knows (or expects) those other people to like.

And the Trumps are getting the usual nice family-love-oriented treatment. From the current mysterious Melania article:
Though living 200 miles apart is unprecedented for a president and first lady, it suits the fiercely independent Donald just fine. 
Fiercely independent. That's US Weekly's spin on this:
When ABC News anchor David Muir asked January 25 if not having Melania, 46, or Barron around left him feeling lonely, he responded, "No, because I end up working longer. And that's OK."
What I like to think Trump was saying there is that he knows he signed up for a big job and he intends to work hard on it, for us, as he said he would do. In this view, living in the White House is not about getting lots of family time. If you need too much of that, stay out of the White House. This is a major workplace, not a domestic retreat.

And if he's the one who goes to her — and she stays in where she is, in place, embedded in her life, with her activities and friends and associates — shouldn't feminists celebrate? Maybe she's one who is "fiercely independent." But look at the "abused Melania" meme:



The presumptions there are outright misogynistic.

"Neil Gorsuch wrote the book on assisted suicide. Here’s what he said."

Writes Derek Hawkins in The Washington Post.
In 2006, the year he was nominated to the federal bench, he released a heavily-researched book on the subject titled “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.”... In it, Gorsuch reveals that he firmly opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia, and argues against death with dignity laws, which currently exist in just five states. His reasons, he writes, are rooted in his belief in an “inviolability” of human life.

“All human beings are intrinsically valuable,” he writes in the book, “and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
You see the connection to arguments for abortion rights. I'm interested to see at how Gorsuch opponents avoid getting tangled up in... death.
[I]n the early 2000s... Gorsuch attended Oxford University [and] studied legal and moral issues related to assisted suicide and euthanasia under the Australian legal scholar John Finnis, a staunch opponent of aid-in-dying measures....
[In his 300-page book, Gorsuch] touches on everything from Greek and Roman laws on taking one’s own life to present-day arguments in support of aid-in-dying legislation.... [He] seems to have been alarmed by the sudden proliferation in the mid-1990s and early-2000s of proposals seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. He also cites the flurry of articles, books and defenses that emerged after the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian made headlines in 1990 for helping an Alzheimer’s patient kill herself. One particular work that seemed to bother him was Final Exit, a popular book by the right-to-die organization the Hemlock Society that describes various methods of “self-deliverance,” including suicide by plastic bag and firearm.

Some of Gorsuch’s sharpest criticisms were directed at one of his fellow jurists, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Posner has written in favor of permitting physician-assisted suicide, arguing that the government should not interfere with a person’s decision to take his or her own life, especially in cases where the patient is terminally ill.

Gorsuch rejected that view, writing it would “tend toward, if not require, the legalization not only of assisted suicide and euthanasia, but of any act of consensual homicide.” Posner’s position, he writes, would allow “sadomasochist killings” and “mass suicide pacts,” as well as duels, illicit drug use, organ sales and the “sale of one’s own life.”

Gorsuch concludes his book by envisioning a legal system that allows for terminally ill patients to refuse treatments that would extend their lives, while stopping short of permitting intentional killing.
So, Gorsuch is distinctly not a libertarian. I'm putting the book in my Kindle, because I want to look more closely how he connects abortion to suicide. I've taught the abortion and assisted suicide cases for many years, and what's always seemed importantly different about assisted suicide is the problem that a few years back got labeled "death panels." It's one thing for an individual woman to decide to decline to devote her own body to the gestation of a new individual and for courts to deprive the group of the power to force her to do it. It's quite another to empower the group to deliver death to an individual who is suffering at the end of life when the group is in a position to benefit emotionally and financially from ridding itself of this needy and vulnerable person. 

AND: I do realize that I have a lot of readers who are about to tell me that it's not quite another thing, it's the same thing. I do understand the way in which the 2 things are the same. I am highlighting the way they are different.

The morning after: Why did I do that last night — not blog about Neil Gorsuch?

I'm asking myself that question in the cold dark of pre-dawn. All I wrote last night was "UPDATE: Gorsuch." Not even an exclamation point after "Gorsuch."

But this is good. Talk about normalizing Trump! Trump named someone on his pre-vetted list, just as he said he would do. The man, by all observable indicia, appears perfectly appropriate, including the humble demeanor.*

Trump looked and sounded very presidential in the classic East Room setting. Those who want immediately to trash anything Trump does were invited to look like fools.

I was watching CNN, and the first (and only) attacks I heard were about Gorsuch's opposition to assisted suicide. I laughed. The Trump antagonists are going to rage about the value of suicide?!

We're supposed to get outraged because Gorsuch is against suicide? The Trump-haters think they can rally us with our enthusiasm for suicide?! Maybe they think they can. After all, younger folks may hanker for euthanizing us baby boomers, and arguments about suicide resemble arguments about abortion. Knock yourself out, Gorsuch opponents, you crazy nuts.
_____________________________

* If I had live-blogged my every thought last night, I would have dinged him for wearing a plaid tie and wiping his nose a few times and turning the pages of his written speech with undue amplitude. I'd have complained about his incantation of all the usual pieties,** but that wasn't enough to get me up out of my comfy TV-watching chair last night. Perhaps Trump planned it that way. Make it a prime-time TV show and people will be deactivated in their comfy chairs. They'll watch and feel that Gorsuch is a very fine man. Look at his education credentials. Clerked for Whizzer White and Anthony Kennedy. And doesn't his wife look like my high school teacher in that white blouse and a-line skirt? Zzzzz.
_____________________________

** "'Pieties' — is that not a word?" I ask the room as Blogger impugns it as a typo. Before looking it up and ensuring that it is indeed a word — it is — I'm distracted by its silliness — "pie ties," just as I'm writing about the man's tie. I'm contemplating the American slapstick/protest history of pies in the face of dignified tie-wearing men....





... it's so perfectly the opposite of pieties. But the dignified men of the present are well-defended nowadays, and I haven't seen a classic pie-in-the-face protest in a long time. The one in those 2 pictures is a mayor deliberately taking a pie-in-the-face challenge.***

_____________________________

*** The answer to the old question Can a footnote have a footnote? is: Yes!

January 31, 2017

The Supreme Court Show is about to start.

Let's watch!

UPDATE: Gorsuch.

You showed a clear preference for blogging over tweeting...

... when I asked "What's the best combination of blogging and tweeting?"



That was a gratifying reinforcement of the choices I've made!

"No one has ever tried moving at Trump’s speed before."

"We expect the slow-moving traditional leader to create less 'chaos' than the entrepreneurial and disruptive leader.... The whole point of Trump’s flurry of activity is that he’s trying to create good outcomes. We don’t know if the good outcomes will pan out. All we know is that it was a bit messy at the start. Is being a bit messy a sign of a problem? Not if you’re the entrepreneurial, disruptive, candidate of change who just got elected.... If you see a pundit crying 'chaos' about Trump’s early moves, you’re probably seeing someone with no entrepreneurial management experience. In the startup world, speed has replaced intelligence whenever you can rapidly test. Doing things quickly, and adjusting as needed, often gets you to a faster/better result than planning a moonshot that has exactly one path to success."

Writes Scott Adams — observing the alternative templates of chaos and disruption.

At the Teapot Café...

DSC07634

... take a look around.

Photo from Winter 2010.

A "café" post is the signal to talk about whatever you want in the comments and to think about using The Althouse Amazon Portal if you've got some shopping to do. Using that link to go into Amazon gives you the superpower of sending a contribution to the enterprise known as the Althouse blog without spending any extra for things you're getting for yourself.

And yes, you can get a nice teapot at Amazon. I like this and this and this.

"Trump essentially ran against a united Democratic party, the Republican establishment, the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) — and won."

"He was outspent. He was out-organized. He was outpolled and demonized daily as much by Republicans as Democrats. Yet he not only destroyed three political dynasties (the Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas) but also has seemingly rendered the Obama election matrix nontransferable to anyone other than Obama himself... Instead of seeing Barack Obama (both his successful two elections and his failed two terms) as the wave of the future, Democrats would be wise to reassess his electoral legacy as a unique phenomenon. In truth, Obama’s legacy is twofold: He took the party hard left, and he downsized it to a minority party of the two coasts and big cities. And then he faded off into the sunset to a multimillionaire retirement of golf and homilies... [T]he Democratic-party strategists are doubling down on boutique environmentalism and race/gender victimhood, while hoping that Donald Trump implodes in scandal, war, or depression.  They are clueless that their present rabid frenzy is doing as much political damage to their cause as is the object of their outrage."

Writes Victor David Hanson in "The Democrat Patient/Ignoring the symptoms, misdiagnosing the malady, skipping the treatment."

"Trump Promise Tracker... We’re tracking the progress of 60 pledges he made during his campaign — and whether he achieved his goals."

"It’s day 12 of the Trump administration with 1,449 days left in his term," and Trump has kept 5 promises and broken one, according to the WaPo Fact Checker. Trump has taken some action on 7 promises and not yet done anything on 47.

The broken promise is: "Impose a five-year ban on White House and congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service."
On Jan. 28, Trump signed an order that he said would impose a five-year ban on lobbying after government service by executive-branch officials. This appeared broader than the language in the contract, which said it would apply to White House officials, but it actually fails to fulfill his repeated pledge to "drain the swamp." There is no reference in an executive order to a ban on congressional officials. The five-year ban applies only to lobbying one’s former agency — not becoming a lobbyist. Moreover, Trump actually weakened some of the language from similar bans under Obama and George W. Bush, and reduced the level of transparency. Given that this action in many ways is a step backward, we will label this as a promise broken.

2 Supreme Court hopefuls — Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman — are known to be coming to Washington as we wait for Trump's announcement tonight.

Obviously, Trump wants us to tune in for the prime-time TV show. At least one of the 2 is needed for cover. But perhaps both are cover for a third person.

I remember getting tricked by George Bush the day he nominated John Roberts. I blogged:
Bush is announcing the new nominee tonight. Apparently, her name is Edith. We're just not sure what her last name is...
There were 2 Ediths...
When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her plans to retire in 2005, it left George W. Bush with his first opportunity after more than four years in office to nominate a member of the Supreme Court. First Lady Laura Bush suggested that a woman should replace O'Connor and two female judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals—Edith Brown Clement and Edith Jones...—were reportedly among the leading candidates. Clement soon emerged as the rumored choice, but after ABC News published a story on its website that Clement was not Bush's pick, the attention turned to the candidate who had become known as the "Other Edith." Bush, of course, selected John G. Roberts....
I thought my quip was so cute — "Apparently, her name is Edith. We're just not sure what her last name is..." — and I was completely faked out.

"Bob Dylan unveiled a classic country cover of Frank Sinatra's 'I Could Have Told You'..."



"... set to appear on his new triple album of American standards, Triplicate, out March 31st via Columbia."


"Triplicate" will include "Stormy Weather," "That Old Feeling," "As Time Goes By," "Imagination," "How Deep Is the Ocean," "P.S. I Love You," "The Best Is Yet to Come," "Sentimental Journey," "These Foolish Things, "You Go to My Head," "Stardust," and "Why Was I Born" — to name the 12 of the 30 songs that I know.

Maybe I know some of the others and I'd recognize them if I started to listen. For example, do I know "September of My Years"? Here's Andy Williams singing it. In 1970. No, I don't know that, and that's about the furthest thing from what I'd have paid attention to in 1970s. That's from his network TV show. That was soothing somebody. Presumably people who were maybe 20 years younger than I am right now. People got old so quickly back then. Or so it looked from my point of view at the time compared to my point of view right now.

In 1970 was the year Bob Dylan put out rock's "shittiest album ever," and then the great "New Morning," which we listened to every day, when we were sophomores in college.

My parents would have maintained at the time that Frank Sinatra was the greatest, and now I'm older than my parents were then, and Bob Dylan is singing Frank Sinatra songs.

WaPo editorial: "Democrats shouldn’t go scorched-earth on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee."

Why?
We say this not because it is contrary to the Democrats’ own best interests, though that is probably true, too: Filling the former Scalia seat won’t tip the court’s ideological balance, yet provoking Republicans to resort to the filibuster-abolishing “nuclear option” would leave Democrats disarmed of that weapon against a second Trump pick should another vacancy arise during his presidency.

Our objection is rooted, rather, in our belief that the Supreme Court confirmation process needs to be protected from partisan politics to the greatest extent possible and that a scorched-earth Democratic response to any nominee, regardless of the individual merits, would simply deepen that harmful politicization.....
The test of whether their objection is really rooted where they say it is rooted will come when/if Trump gets an opportunity to replace a liberal Justice.

But I see the loophole the WaPo editors have left for themselves:

The Supreme Court confirmation process needs to be protected from partisan politics to the greatest extent possible but we surpass that "greatest extent" if Trump is replacing a liberal Justice with anyone who's a solid conservative.

There's even an alternative path to a loophole: The core value is protecting the Supreme Court from partisan politics, nominating a solid conservative to replace a liberal threatens that value, so strong opposition to this nominee is no longer politicizing the Court but saving the Court from harmful politicization.

The stretch-pierced earlobe + snake problem.

"I was holding my #SNAKE and his #DUMB ASS saw a hole, which just so happened to be my fuckin #EARLOBE, and thought that it would be a bright idea to #ATTEMPT to make it through... "

Facebooking from the emergency room, with photograph.

To remove that image from your mind, I leave you with these snake quotes:

1. "'Where are the people?' resumed the little prince at last. 'It’s a little lonely in the desert…' 'It is lonely when you’re among people, too,' said the snake.'" — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)

2. "I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?" — Voltaire (Candide: or, Optimism)

3. "Don't touch me, I'm full of snakes."  — Jack Kerouac

Boycotting the normalizers.



Via Mashable, "US Weekly is all-too-ready to normalize Trump," by Heather Dockray:
While printing photos of a president's family is standard practice for a pop culture magazine...

For readers just starting to become aware of the dangers of the Trump presidency, (yes, that's just happening for some), US Weekly's cover is a mistake.
Dockray seems to have the assignment of tending to Trump-related feelings of millennial (and younger) readers. What's just the right touch of outrage + humor? How much earnestness? How much sarcasm?

Her post yesterday was: "What to do when you're so overwhelmed by the Trump presidency you can barely move." It's illustrated by a cutesy cartoon of a wide-eyed Statue of Liberty in hell saying "This is fine." There are lots of gifs showing sweet young people getting upset. What are kids supposed to do when they feel required to stay engaged but battered by one scary thing after another?
The bad news comes in so fast you can hardly keep up with it.... As important as it is to remain informed, however, it's equally necessary for people to stay calm and not lapse into full on Facebook post hysteria. It's far easier to organize when you're motivated by the hope in your heart rather than the panic our president inspires.

You can't and shouldn't dissociate from what's happening in Washington. You have a moral responsibility to act. But there are more effective ways you can manage your media consumption and activism, making you a stronger organizer (and way more likable human)....
There are 13 items, like:
8. Eat whatever the hell you want because f*ck it

Listen, the doomsday clock is literally inching towards midnight — now is not the time to go Paleo, folks. Sure, it's technically "good" to eat healthy, but who cares. If eating fettuccine alfredo for breakfast keeps you from bawling in front of your boss, then do it. Don't let Trump take away your constitutional right to cream sauce.
That's not representative of the list. That's in there for relief. Mostly the list tells you to limit your consumption of the news and pick a few moderate political things to do (like "Go to a march").

Managing the mood of young people is serious business. It won't be easy. It shouldn't be easy.

"In hindsight, I believe it was wrong for Barack Obama to normalize Donald Trump."

Said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), really sticking his neck out. He's a Democrat from California.

At least he's criticizing Obama, but what did he — does he, retrospectively — want Obama to do? Not welcome Trump to the White House? Not attend the Inauguration? That would have made Obama look abnormal.

As I'm writing this, Meade points me to Instapundit, who is saying: "The more they try to 'de-normalize' Trump, the less normal they seem."

ADDED: Ted Lieu is not just from California, he's from the 33rd District...



... Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Malibu, Santa Monica, UCLA campus, University of California, Venice, Westwood...

"The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities"...

... is the title of the new book by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor (who co-authored "Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case").

They talk about the new book here (at Volokh Conspiracy):
Despite horror stories like the one at Amherst, the mainstream media has poorly covered the campus sexual assault issue. There has been a handful of good work (most notably this Emily Yoffe article in Slate). More typical, however, has been the approach of the New York Times, which has virtually ignored concerns expressed by civil libertarian organizations and cohorts of law professors about the campus system’s unfairness. To the contrary, in an article about Stanford the Times recently portrayed the university’s process — which uses the lowest possible standard of proof, bans direct cross-examination by accused students, and has featured panelists who have been trained to believe that is it a sign of guilt for an accused student to respond to an accusation in a “persuasive and logical” way — as unfair to accusers. The reason? The school’s one fair rule — that the three panelists must be unanimous to justify a finding of guilty....

As for the universities, the power of identity politics has generally worked in tandem with the schools’ financial self-interest in appeasing federal officials who have the power to exact huge financial penalties to incubate unfairness toward accused students....
I immediately downloaded this book to my Kindle because — after writing the previous post about massive donations to the ACLU — I wanted to see where the organization stands on due process in campus sexual assault cases. I'm interested in the ACLU's vigor in disappointing donors who suddenly love the organization because of one issue. I highlighted free speech in my post, but I'd also wanted to say something about this due process problem, and my casual Googling had not turned up a clear answer.

There's not much about the ACLU in this book. This is the main reference:
[D]uring George W. Bush’s presidency, a handful of cases (at the University of Georgia, the University of Colorado, and Arizona State University) involving highly credible sexual assault allegations against college football and basketball players kept the issue in the public eye. In each case, the accuser filed a Title IX lawsuit against her school, alleging that it had knowingly recruited potentially violent felons solely because they were talented athletes and it had thereby shown deliberate indifference to the well-being of female students. Each case ended with a denial of the university’s motion to dismiss, followed by a settlement, driven by a hailstorm of negative publicity, in which the university apologized for not doing enough to protect women on campus. The American Civil Liberties Union filed amicus briefs supporting the Arizona State and Colorado plaintiffs.

"I just can't understand why the ACLU defends free speech for racists, sexists, homophobes and other bigots. Why tolerate the promotion of intolerance?"

A question, asked and answered at the ACLU website.

I'm just reading the ACLU website, because I'm seeing that the ACLU is doing fabulously well raising money right now:
This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.
The ACLU rakes in money from people who like what they see them doing right now. I trust the ACLU to outrage its transitory fans on other occasions.

January 30, 2017

"For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America... have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs."

"However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state."

The acting attorney general refused to defend Trump's immigration order... and Trump fired her.

I did not have time to blog about her refusal — I would have said it's up to Trump to fire her — before Trump fired her.
Taking action in an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, Mr. Trump declared that Sally Q. Yates had “betrayed” the administration, the White House said in a statement. The president appointed Dana J. Boente, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as acting attorney general until Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is confirmed....

The extraordinary legal standoff capped a tumultuous day in which... Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, went so far as to warn State Department officials that they should leave their jobs if they did not agree with Mr. Trump’s agenda, after State Department officials circulated a so-called dissent memo on the order.

“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it?” Mr. Spicer said. “They should either get with the program or they can go.”
ADDED: "went so far"? 

At the Black Ice Café...

P1050727

... you don't have to stick with what real. You can slide on the ice — eyes, -ize — like we did 6 years ago, the last time there was black ice on Lake Mendota.

I'm tapping the past for a seasonally appropriate photograph for a post. It's been too winter-dull here lately for me to want to get out the camera.

And, please, remember The Althouse Amazon Portal — it's how you can support this blog simply by thinking of me when you're doing shopping that you're doing anyway.