August 23, 2017

If you're going to pick out the "57 most outrageous quotes" from a Donald Trump speech, you need to put them in order of outrageousness.

At CNN, Chris Cillizza has "Donald Trump's 57 most outrageous quotes from his Arizona speech," but they're in chronological order. He's trying to bowl us over with numerosity, but if you start reading them, and it's a big slog. Most of them aren't even "outrageous," just susceptible to some criticism or clarification. I end up scrolling looking for anything I'd call "outrageous." What's the most outrageous thing here? I don't even know. 57 is just too damned many. It makes Cillizza look peevish and nit-picky.

To be fair, when you say these are the "57 most outrageous quotes," they don't need to be that outrageous. These are just the most outrageous quotes from the set of quotes that were Trump's speech. Maybe he made 500 statements. These are just the 57 that struck Chris Cillizza the hardest. And it's a way for people who don't want to have to watch or read the whole thing to get a feeling for what was said.

Nevertheless, the headline aggravates me, because it clickbait-promised a torrent of outrageousness and I can't find anything too exciting. And when I realized that the ordering was merely chronological, I felt ripped off by the come-on.

I ended up skimming, but I stopped at #28 and laughed:
"Now, you know, I was a good student. I always hear about the elite. You know, the elite. They're elite? I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment, and I live in the White House, too, which is really great."
Not outrageous, just Trump being Trump. I guess for some people any of Trump's Trumpish statements are experienced as outrageous and perhaps Cillizza is entertaining them or helping them with their horrible mood.

That reminds me: I think the tearing down of Confederate statues is something people are doing because they can't tear down Trump. It's like kicking the dog after a hard day working for a boss you hate.

At the Green Café...

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... keep the conversation fresh and vital and moist.

And would it kill you to do some shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal?

"It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled."

"It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’"

So Hillary admits that she couldn't think of what to do under pressure. She needs a pause button. Is that like a reset button? There's no such thing. I mean you can vandalize the hotel hot tub to get a plastic button to call whatever you want — the Make Me President button — but it doesn't work.



More from the leaked excerpts to the memoir we're not all going to buy when it comes out in a few weeks:
"I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off."
The writer assumes the reader will not immediately think: Bill Clinton!
"I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard," she wrote. 
The writer assumes the reader will not think: phallic symbol.
“I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.”
If you present an endlessly smiling controlled face to the world and choose to say nothing, people won't know what you think, won't trust you, and — since you're asking to be our President — won't be able to rely on you to speak for us. If you're that afraid to come up with an apt response to someone who's being intimidating, how do you have what it takes to be President? You think if you said something, it might be bad, so best to say nothing?

Look how easy it was for George W. Bush to push back Al Gore's overbearing physical encroachment during a debate:



Perfect. That nod. Everyone laughed. Nobody thought Bush seemed unpresidentially peevish. I still laugh every time I play that clip. And I play it a lot.

The insanely awful Louise Linton.

The wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made such a preposterously bad Instagram post that you almost have to love her. Click to enlarge and read:



I mean, we haven't had anything like this for a long time. I was going to name some ladies of the past I'm reminded of, but I don't want to libel anybody. I'll just say it's nice to have a good old-fashioned rich bitch to be horrified by.

I'll just link to Robin Givhan's piece in The Washington Post — "Louise Linton just spelled out her value system for you common folk," noting, among other things, that Linton has taken her account private and apologized.

Should Louise Linton have apologized? Pick what most closely shows what you think.
 
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WaPo's Dana Milbank has a urine-filled column about Bannon and Trump.

Dana Milbank reached all the way back to potty-mouthed Lyndon Johnson for a quote: "it’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." (LBJ was talking about J. Edgar Hoover.)

Now, I know from having read Robert A. Caro's "Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III" that if you want to talk about politics and piss, LBJ is a good source. It's always amusing to whip this out:
“He would piss in the parking lot of the House Office Building,” says Wingate Lucas, a farm boy who represented Fort Worth. “Well, a lot of fellows did that. I did it. But the rest of us would try to hide behind a car or something. Lyndon wouldn’t. He just didn’t care if someone noticed him.” In fact, Lucas says, he seemed to want to be noticed. “I remember once, we were walking across the lot and some [female] secretaries were behind us, and he just stopped and began to take a piss right in front of them.” He would also urinate in front of his own secretaries— and since some of them were attractive young women, this, too, was startling to those who witnessed it. During the years in the House, he had a one-room hideaway office on the top floor of the House Office Building— without a toilet, but with a washbasin in the corner of the room, concealed behind a wood and green-burlap screen. While entertaining guests in the hideaway, or dictating to a secretary, he would pull the screen aside and urinate in the basin... And if ... a colleague came in, Johnson, finishing, would sometimes turn to him with his penis in his hand. Without putting it back in his pants, he would begin a conversation, still holding it, “and shaking it, as if he was showing off,” says one man with whom he did this. He asked another man, “Have you ever seen anything as big as this?”
Yes, LBJ — a Democrat, you know — was awfully crude, so how can Dana Milbank re-aim him so his piss witticism is about Trump and Bannon? Unlike LBJ with Hoover, Trump didn't keep Bannon on the inside.
And now Bannon, who only last week was boasting that his rivals within the administration were “wetting themselves,” is on the outside, fly unzipped.
Milbank must know that he looks crude and childish speaking of Bannon unzipping his fly, because he goes to the trouble of digging up something Bannon once said about peeing. It wasn't about peeing on anybody, just "wetting themselves." That's similar to Obama's famous quote about people in Washington getting "all wee-weed up."

Having established his piss metaphor, Milbank proceeds to describe the headlines at Breitbart.com as "a rhetorical golden shower." Milbank tries to wring comedy out of the piss he's given himself permission to splash everywhere, but he dribbles out stuff like:
Which way the flow goes now in these early days of the post-Bannon White House could well be determinative — not just for the Trump presidency but for the country as it grapples with a reemergence of white supremacists. 
He should have grappled with the flaccid structure of that sentence. He forced me to think about Bannon's cock peeing and the meat of the sentence is "could well be determinative." Didn't his writing class ever mention strong verbs? The closest he gets to piss-related strong language is "flow goes," a dumb unintentional rhyme.

Now, anything he writes that seems pee-related is going to stick out like Jumbo. (That's what LBJ called that thing about which he asked a guy if he'd ever seen anything as big as.) So it's piss I picture when Milbank writes "Can Trump control the wave of racism he has released?" And it's genitalia on view at the mention of "Bannon’s cockamamie idea," and the idea has to do with Blackwater, which seems like something one ought to consult a doctor about.

August 22, 2017

At the Green Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

And please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

By a vote of 3-to-2 vote, the Supreme Court of India invalidated the law that let Muslim men divorce their wife by saying "talaq" (divorce) 3 times.

The NYT reports:
Of those who voted against, two said the practice was unconstitutional and one said it went against Islamic law. One of the dissenters was a Muslim judge; the other was the court’s chief justice, who urged Parliament to come up with a new provision.
That is, only a minority said it was a violation of the constitutional right to equality. Moreover, the tone was, according to one law professor, demeaning to women:
“The patronizing tone towards Muslim women in all the opinions is quite breathtaking,” Ratna Kapur, a law professor and author of a forthcoming book on gender and human rights, wrote on Facebook. “Women are talked about as if they are in need of protection, not in terms of their rights.”

She added, “Nearly every reference to the Muslim woman in the majority and dissenting opinions reduces Muslim women to ‘suffering victims.’ ”

McMaster used a 1972 black-and-white photo of 3 Afghan women in mini skirts to persuade Trump about Afghanistan.

According to The Daily Mail.



The Daily Mail is extracting a tidbit from an WaPo article titled "'It’s a hard problem’: Inside Trump’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan":
One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.
Second-highest-rated comment at The Daily Mail: "Gee - maybe if someone sends him pictures of short-skirted nurses in Sweden, we'll get single-payer health care..."

Breitbart — now with Bannon — covers Trump's Afghanistan speech.

A screen shot of the front page right now:



Key word: "Flip-flop."

Seemingly ready-made joke that contains a pop-culture reference you might need to be over 40 to get: "…HIS MCMASTER’S VOICE."

Whether you get the reference or not, you might be interested to know that Wikipedia has a page for "His Master's Voice":
His Master's Voice, abbreviated HMV, is a famous trademark in the music and recording industry and was the unofficial name of a major British record label [parent of RCA]. The name was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting of a dog....



[T]he dog, a terrier named Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud's brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark's voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas....

In 1968, RCA introduced a modern logo and restricted the use of Nipper to the album covers of Red Seal Records. The Nipper trademark was reinstated to most RCA record labels in the Western Hemisphere beginning in late 1976 and was once again widely used in RCA advertising throughout the late 1970s and 1980s....
"His Master's Voice" is also the title of a sci-fi book by Stanisław Lem:
It is a densely philosophical first contact story about an effort by scientists to decode, translate and understand an extraterrestrial transmission.... [T]he scientists are able to use part of the data to synthesize a substance with unusual properties. Two variations are created: a glutinous liquid nicknamed "Frog Eggs" and a more solid version that looks like a slab of red meat called "Lord of the Flies" (named for its strange agitating effect on insects brought into proximity with it, rather than for the allegorical meaning of the name).... "Frog eggs" seems to enable a teleportation of an atomic blast at the speed of light to a remote location, which would make deterrence impossible....

By the time the project is ended, they are no more sure than they were in the beginning about whether the signal was a message from intelligent beings that humanity failed to decipher, or a poorly understood natural phenomenon.
But back to Breitbart. It's easier to understand than Lem's frog eggs. I'm not going to read all these articles. As a collection of headlines, they make a spicy first page, but I'm just going to use a sampling method by clicking on one. I choose "Flynn: An Old Casino King Doubles Down on a Bad Hand in Afghanistan." Flynn is a Daniel J. Flynn, not Michael Flynn, the general who used to have Trump's ear, and the headline distracted me into thinking Trump's old confidant had taken a swipe at him. No sooner do I succumb to the click than I get the feeling there's nothing here that isn't already understood from the headline, which now looks like a one-liner for a late-night talk-show host.

But Trump himself introduced the idea that he's playing a card game. From the text of the speech:
No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems. But, one way or another, these problems will be solved -- I'm a problem solver -- and, in the end, we will win.
He didn't say "I was dealt a bad and very complex hand," nor did he say "we will play to win." He didn't stress the card-playing metaphor, and but — by using the word "hand" — Trump played into the hands of comedians and headline writers who easily connect his presidential rhetoric to his old work in the gambling business.

The term "double down" comes from blackjack: "to double the bet after one has seen the initial cards, with the requirement that one and only one additional card be drawn." That's the OED, which explains the extended use: "to engage in risky behaviour, esp. when one is already in a dangerous situation." I'm fascinated by one of the examples, from a 1991 set of essays by Joseph Epstein called "Line Out of a Walk."

Epstein's weird title is easily understood once you learn that the artist Paul Klee described how he draws by saying, "I take a line out for a walk." And if that interests you, remember I have a whole series of blog posts called "How to draw/paint like Paul Klee," including "Approximating biomorphs," which sounds frog-egg-related, and see how this blog post is taking a line out for a walk?

Anyway, Epstein's quote, illustrating how to use "double down," is "Let me double down..and see if I can't win some points for being a racist by asserting that, for some while now, black men have worn hats with more flair than anyone else in America."

And that's where this walk abruptly ends, because Amazon's "look inside" feature excludes the page with that quote and there's no Kindle edition. I'll just assume the venerable essayist is only joking about being a racist, back in 1991 when smart white people were comfortable with the notion that everyone is racist and exposing a detail of one's own particular racism felt like a mark of sophistication. 

"That was what she did. She just wandered places. She trusted somebody, and then this is what happened."

Said Christopher Harress‏, a colleague of the 30-year-old free-lance reporter Kim Wall who took a ride on a "personal submarine" and never returned, quoted in "A man accused of killing a journalist on his private submarine ‘buried her at sea,’ police say" (WaPo).

The "inventor" of the submarine, Peter Madsen, says she died in an accident.
Before his story changed, Madsen told police that he dropped Wall off from the ship late on Aug. 10, and later barely made it after the ballast tank malfunctioned and the Nautilus sank in less than a minute. “I couldn’t close any hatches or anything,” Madsen told a Danish television station.

But a witness contradicted this. He told reporters that he saw Madsen emerge from the belly of the vessel and stay in the submarine's tower until water began pouring into it. Only then did Madsen swim to a nearby boat, the witness said. “There was no panic at all,” he told a Danish outlet. “The man was absolutely calm.”

The Washington Post takes Daily Caller click bait... probably because Chelsea Clinton got something right.

You don't have to click on any of this:

1. The Daily Caller: "It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House." (The occasion: Barron Trump, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, was photographed walking with his parents from Air Force One after some trip from New Jersey back to Washington. Barron's mother is wearing a sun dress (with the usual high heels) and his father is wearing the same thing he always wears. The Daily Caller refers to Melania and Donald's clothes as "their Sunday best" — an old-fashioned expression that isn't even accurate, since bare shoulders are a traditional no-no for church.)

2. Chelsea Clinton tweeted (linking to The Daily Caller): "It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves."

3. The Washington Post followed on with: "Chelsea Clinton defends Barron Trump after conservative website bashes his clothes."

August 21, 2017

Trump's Afghanistan speech.

Chasing a break in the clouds to get a look at the 85% solar eclipse.

It was overcast here today in Madison, so we jumped in the car and headed for the blue:

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About 40 minutes north we pulled over where if all else failed we still had a great look at the prairie:

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We got a nice crisp view of the eclipse using the glasses I'd picked up at Walmart. I shared my glasses with Meade and with a nice couple from Mineral Point who happened to drive up. After the peak of the eclipse, we drove a short distance to Palfrey's Glen, where the eclipse affected the dappling light:

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And we hiked all the way to the waterfall, where a big patch of light gave an excellent view of the last part of the eclipse:

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On the way back home, we took the Merrimac Ferry across Lake Wisconsin:

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Did you break all the rules and look at the sun? Trump did!

Pics, at CNN, of the Prez squinting at the famous disc of fire.

"Even talking about this… Men get so mad when they hear women talk about them this way. They get so defensive."



I watched that video a few days ago, and it's haunting me. Something about the demeanor of the 2 women — Amanda Marcotte and Fiona Helmsley — is just so weirdly enervated as they bemoan the deplorable energy ("fragility") of men.

More transcript here, at Salon:
I think the single greatest threat, and I’ll say to humanity, at the moment is male fragility, and men just not being able to process their feelings of insecurity, their feelings of anger....

What they were chanting in Charlottesville: ‘You will not replace us.’ Who is trying? Who is trying to replace you?...

I think it’s just the way that society raises them. Women are raised to have some concern about the way that they look, and they’re encouraged to be more sensitive. A lot of men aren’t....
So they're taking the nurture side of the old nature-or-nurture argument. And they're happier with women because they've been nurtured to care about how they look? Shouldn't a feminist oppose the nurturing of women to care about how they look and whether they're "more sensitive"? That sounds as though low-level vanity is meritorious.

And oddly enough those Charlottesville Alt-Right guys were concerned about how they look. There's this (in Vice):
... Andrew Anglin, who runs the popular hate site the Daily Stormer, published a truly astounding blog post... that explains how the movement he helped build should market itself [at the Charlottesville rally]....

"It may be a trend, but I can’t be the only person to find the term ‘cougar’ repulsive."

"It’s predatory, naff, insulting to the woman and the man. And ‘toyboy’ isn’t exactly complimentary to anyone, either. (A boy to be toyed with? No, thanks.) Instead, I’m going to campaign for older women who are dating younger men to henceforth be called WHIPs – Women who are Hot, Intelligent and in their Prime. And the men shall be called really bloody lucky."

From "Now I'm in my 50s, young men want to date me: Welcome to the world of WHIPS" (in The Telegraph).

Nuclear enthusiasm posters from North Korea.



More at "With Color and Fury, Anti-American Posters Appear in North Korea" (NYT).
“What is typical in these posters is the image of an undaunted, fierce North Korea that is not fazed by the moves by the United States or the United Nations,” Koen de Ceuster, an expert on North Korea at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told Reuters.

“It reinforces the images of the strides North Korea made in missile capability,” he said, “and how North Korea is undaunted by any challenges to its sovereignty.”

"This is the second time in the past two months where a US guided-missile destroyer has been involved in a collision in the region."

"In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven navy sailors were killed, and two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident."

And, in the past 24 hours, "Five US Navy sailors are injured and another 10 missing after guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker early on Monday morning (Aug 21) off the coast of Singapore."

How are accidents like this possible? 

IN THE COMMENTS: MayBee said:
I'm worried someone is messing with our navigation systems.
etbass said:
Starting to look like the US Navy is pretty vulnerable to fairly primitive battle tactics that have been around a couple millennia.
Which seems more likely to you:
 
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ALSO IN THE COMMENTS: FleetUSA said:
I served in the Navy and spent many hours doing underway deck watches as an officer. I would like to know exactly what the deck watches were doing during the 30 minutes prior to the collisions. Were the watchers distracted? Internet surfing? Chatting up enlisted sea(wo)men?

Published comments after the first one gave us no information other than the heroics after the collision.
Much as we should feel concern for the personnel who are injured, missing, or killed, we should resist being manipulated by demands to pay attention only to that and not to the serious questions about why this has happened twice now.

"But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of the perfect object."

"This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."

Said Harry Shearer, one of the few people who have actually seen the long-suppressed "The Day the Clown Cried." The movie, directed by Jerry Lewis, starred Jerry Lewis as a comedian who made fun of Hitler and got arrested and forced to entertain children in a Nazi death camp.
Lewis biographer Shawn Levy probably sums it up for many of us when he says the interest in Clown is the “the inconceivable oddness of it. Jerry Lewis is still such a strange and singular bird that I think the very concept is intriguing. And the people who’ve seen the film and spoken about it – Harry Shearer, say – are so vivid in their description that they’ve made it a holy grail. Plus, the fascination with grindhouse, Ed Wood, and movies so bad they’re good (a dubious category) virtually insures there’s a cult for something like this.”
Here's Jerry Lewis saying it will never be seen because it's bad and he's embarrassed by it and he's grateful he had the power to suppress it.



But he didn't destroy it, and in fact he donated it, along with other films, to the Smithsonian, and the instructions are simply that it not be shown until at least 2025. And Lewis once said:
“After I’m gone, who knows what’s going to happen? The only thing that I do feel, that I always get a giggle out of, some smart, young guy is going to come up with an idea, and he’s going to run the fucking thing. I would love that. Because he’s going to see a hell of a movie!”
He's gone now, so maybe we will see it. I've expressed my opinion before (in 2013):
Even if it was in the end, a terrible idea — but wasn't it basically the idea in "Life Is Beautiful"? — can't we see it now, with the understanding that it was a mistake and extract the good and learn from the lesson about what badness is?
It ended with a notoriously cringe-inducing scene of cavorting clown Lewis leading the laughing kids into the gas chamber. Overcome by the grief of what he is being forced to do, he chooses to stay in the gas chamber with them as they are killed.
Let us see it. Of all the Nazi-related things to be ashamed of... maybe this excessive shame about bad art is shameful. Or is it the other way around... and more bad art should be destroyed before anyone can see it?

The sun rises again, not knowing or caring...

... about the United States, where millions are motoring to position themselves in a shadow the moon will cast — for a couple minutes — on a place called the United States.

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That's a photograph I took just now from our backyard in Madison, Wisconsin. The sky was very orange at that moment, but the orange has dissipated in the couple minutes it's taken me to get the picture up here.

Yes, we will not be among the millions in the moon shadow. It's not that we didn't plan. We were onto the eclipse very early and had hotel reservations in Boise, Idaho, which looks like just about the best place to be. But we canceled. It was one of the many things we could have done, but clouds got in the way.

ADDED: I seriously considered hopping in the car and barreling down to Nebraska — not worrying about hotels, just sleeping in the car when necessary. But here's the morning weather report for Nebraska:
The morning showers and thunderstorms could leave some significant cloud cover over parts of the region through Monday afternoon, leading to potentially difficult eclipse viewing in some locations, the National Weather Service office in Valley said. However, a few breaks in the clouds cannot be ruled out. In southeast Nebraska, there is a good chance of high-level clouds, but they may be thin and broken with peeks at the sky possible. Looks at the sky may be more possible closer to the Interstate 80 corridor and north, the weather service said.
That's where I'd be, on I-80. But what's I-80 going to be like today — especially if people start chasing the breaks in the clouds? I'm picturing people pulling over everywhere on I-80 and then just even stopping right in the lanes and the whole thing becoming an insane parking lot. Then everyone runs out of gas, including the gas stations, and we have to wait until the federal government saves us.

At CNN, it says:
"This will be like Woodstock 200 times over -- but across the whole country," said Alex Young, solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
I missed the real Woodstock too. I had a ride and all, but I couldn't afford the $17 ticket and how was I to know people would just tear down the fences and get in free? And yet my friend who would have driven me there came home and told me that with all the rain and mud it was impossible to enjoy "unless you were part pig."

August 20, 2017

The great Jerry Lewis has died!

NYT obit.
A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Mr. Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.
ADDED: I like this 1995 interview (with Charles Grodin, whose show I, unlike most people, loved):



And here's the car chase scene from "The Disorderly Orderly," which I saw when I was 13:



That scene revealed a whole new dimension of hilarity to me. I'd had no idea how funny something could be — just waves and waves of funnier and funnier. With possibly one exception, it's the most I ever laughed at a movie.

AND: Here's the Marc Maron interview with Jerry Lewis.

At the Questionable Artwork Café...



... you are invited, once again, to examine the political significance and possible offensiveness of a painting. This time there's no hiding the name of the painter. Even if I smudged out the signature, I think you'd know it's Norman Rockwell. I'll add that it's from 1926 and titled "Love Song." The rest is up to you. I especially encourage you to discover the 5 things that are egregiously wrong with this picture.

And it's a café post, so that means that you can talk about any subject and that I remind you that if you want to encourage my scurrilous scribblings here, you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal or make a direct contribution using the PayPal buttons in the sidebar. The advantage of using the Amazon Portal is that you can buy things you want to buy anyway and send a contribution to me without paying anything more. The advantage of using the PayPal button is you're not burdened by pesky packages arriving by truck and you'll have a space where you can write a note that I'll get by email. For example, recently somebody gave me $100 and said: "I am particularly grateful for your recent focus on the media."

"When you put a hat and sunglasses on it, it kind of takes the raunchiness out of it."

"I want to raise the bar for dick pics. If you’re going to send one, at least make me laugh. Put some effort into it."
[Soraya] Doolbaz says her husband is very supportive of the idea and dick pics in general, noting that they dated long-distance for a while. Before that, she says she received enough dick pics to give her plenty of inspiration for the project: “Oh my God, when I was single, I would get a ton of them,” she says. “And my friends would get them too and we would show them to each other.”
That's from a Village Voice piece published in 2015. I found that as a result of searches inspired by discussion in the comments to yesterday's "Questionable Artwork Café," where I'd invited people to impose political analysis on a Thomas Hart Benton painting of a farm scene. Participating in the comments myself, I said:
Huge vagina symbol in foreground.

Empowering for women or insulting?

Horse is big phallic symbol, but far from adequate to that huge vagina. Also the harnessing of the horse is emphasized. Is that empowering for women?
And after I got a little pushback for seeing a vagina symbol, I added:
Freud thought a hat was a vagina symbol.
And then the fanciful notion:
That suggests that when a man is having sex with a woman, he's wearing her.

Not wearing her out. Wearing her like she's a very elaborate hat.
Robt C brought up one of my all-time favorite books:
If what Althouse says about sex and hats is true, it give a whole new meaning to Oliver Sacks' book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
I said:
Suddenly, everything makes sense!

The man wasn't wrong at all. He was right and everyone else was wrong. And that's the way of the world, if we could only see things from a different point.

As Bob Dylan sang: "We always did feel the same/We just saw it from a different point of view."
Meanwhile, CWJ had said, "Well there are pussy hats after all." But those are hats for your head. To get the humor — and it's my favorite form of humor — you have to picture the ridiculous big-and-small foolery. The penis is wearing that hat. I figured somebody had already made a project out of putting little hats on penises, and I was right. The big-and-small element or humor is not present in the art project shown at The Village Voice. Soraya Doolbaz — great name! — makes penis-sized clothing, including hats, and dresses real penises up for posing in photographs. In the woman-as-hat notion that amused me, the "head" for the hat is much smaller than the head in a normal hat, but the hat is much larger than the normal hat, so you've got a very radical disproportion.

As I said in a post back in 2009, I have long been aware I am usually amused by humor about the size of things:
We were talking about the expression "postage stamp lawn," that is, a very small lawn, perhaps the size of an area rug. But what if there really were a postage stamp the size of an area rug? That would be a huge postage stamp. Ha ha. Imagine the size of the envelope you'd put it on. Okay. That to me is hilarious, and it reminded me of the joke I found so funny — decades ago — that I laughed so hard the teller of the joke got mad at me for laughing so much. I was cutting the joker's hair — I used to think I could do haircuts and acted upon that belief — and I noticed a bright red dot on the top of his head — the size of a pimple, but not a pimple — and not something he'd ever have noticed. I said, "What's this red dot on top of your head?" He said, "That's my Santa Claus hat!"
I have ever since regarded that as the funniest spontaneous remark I've ever heard, and maybe that will give you some insight into how I feel about the woman-as-hat notion that amused me so much yesterday. Or maybe you have the same taste in big-and-small jokes and you're laughing too. Click the "big and small" tag for more insight into Althouse's big-and-small fetish. In any case, I hope you like the photographs of Soraya Doolbaz.

And apologies to all of you who are thinking I waited nearly 4 hours for the 3d post of the day and this — this!! — is what I get? This post, half written, spurred a real-world conversation that took up nearly the entire interval. So that makes me think if you'll find plenty to say in the comments.

NYT headline offers Trump a measure of praise.

"Protesters Flood Streets, and Trump Offers a Measure of Praise."

Here's the part of the article about Trump:
President Trump, who has faced unyielding — and bipartisan — criticism after saying that there was “blame on both sides” in Charlottesville, tweeted Saturday that he wanted “to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

He also wrote: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

It was an abrupt shift in tone. The president posted earlier Saturday that it appeared there were “many anti-police agitators in Boston.”
Nothing in the Times about Trump's need to delete and retweet after misspelling "heal" as "heel," a topic of mirth in the lesser New York paper, The Daily News, where the headline is "Trump roasted over pair of tweets saying country must ‘heel.'"

That's not just a nonsense misspelling like covfefe. "Heel" has meaning, as a tweeter named @dexter_doggie barked: “Donald Trump intends to bring you to heel."

"Every time I do your show, it's almost like I'm on a black station... There's a certain clairvoyance that black folks born with."

"We don't have as much as we used to, but that's always been there. And so, they can listen to you and know ain't no tricking going on, ain't no nothing. They don't even have to question. Very seldom you hear a black person talking about conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory is The New York Times and The Washington Post and NBC and CBS. And just thank God that all these radio stations like yours...."



That's just the first thing I ran into as I looked for old video of Dick Gregory — old in the sense of not things put together on the occasion of his death. That's Dick Gregory talking to Alex Jones.

Here's the obituary in the conspiracy theory New York Times:
Dick Gregory, the pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights in the 1960s, then veered from his craft for a life devoted to protest and fasting in the name of assorted social causes, health regimens and conspiracy theories, died Saturday in Washington. He was 84....

In 1962, Mr. Gregory joined a demonstration for black voting rights in Mississippi. That was a beginning. He threw himself into social activism body and soul, viewing it as a higher calling.

Arrests came by the dozens. In a Birmingham, Ala., jail in 1963, he wrote, he endured “the first really good beating I ever had in my life.”

He added: “It was just body pain, though. The Negro has a callus growing on his soul, and it’s getting harder and harder to hurt him there.”...

There seemed few causes he would not embrace. He took to fasting for weeks on end, his once-robust body shrinking at times to 95 pounds. Across the decades he went on dozens of hunger strikes, over issues including the Vietnam War, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, police brutality, South African apartheid, nuclear power, prison reform, drug abuse and American Indian rights.

And he reveled in conspiracy theories, elaborating on them in language that could be enigmatic and circuitous. Hidden hands, Mr. Gregory insisted, were behind everything from a crack cocaine epidemic to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; from the murders of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon to the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr. Whom to blame? “Whoever the people are who control the system,” he told The Washington Post in 2000.
Correction appended: "An earlier version of this article misstated the year of the Sept. 11 attacks. They were in 2001, not 2011." Of all the dates to botch.

August 19, 2017

Playing the wrong song.

On December 16, 1977, Elvis Costello was on "Saturday Night Live, and he was supposed to play "Less Than Zero." He gets started, then starts waving his hands and saying "Stop! Stop!"...



and "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to do this song here" — it was about some British political situation — and switches to "Radio Radio."

Later, Costello said he got his inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, who was on Lulu's BBC TV show back in January 1969 and supposed to play "Hey Joe." Hendrix starts the song, then stops and says: "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream regardless of what kind of group they might be. I'd like to dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce." Cream had broken up a couple months before.

Jimi then switches to "Sunshine of Your Love" and goes on and on until "We're being pulled off the air":

At the Questionable Artwork Café...

P1140484

... you can write about anything — this is a café post — but I am inviting you to consider whether this painting is deplorable.(Double click the image to enlarge and see details much more clearly.)

Does it deserve a place of honor or is this something that good citizens should pressure the museum to store in its basement along with other disreputable junk from America's shameful past?

And if these proddings amuse you, encourage me by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the wall card for that painting (at the Indianapolis Museum of Art):

Not very informative — politically — is it? Why did Thomas Hart Benton lead "Regionalists" and why did these people "favor images of America, especially the rural Midwest"? It's 1942. It's WWII. It's the year FDR relocated Japanese Americans to internment camps. Why so hot to show us the America of the rural Midwest where farmers still plow with a horse? Isn't this the kind of image Hitler would have enjoyed? Hitler too objected to the abstract art of the Modernists. He himself painted rural scenes. For example:
And yet, what a difference between Hitler's rural scene and Benton's. Benton had everything rolling and flowing, pulsating with life. Hitler doesn't even have a person or an animal, and there's no activity in his inanimate things. Hitler's painting looks like a snapshot of a real place — a boring place not even worth photographing. Benton's painting refers to reality, but everything is transformed. He takes the most humble subject and pumps it up into the mythic, heroic, and phantasmagoric.

But who knows? Maybe that's what Hitler meant to do too, and he was too crappy a painter to achieve the intended effect. And more importantly, similarity/difference to Hitler is not a good enough political test, especially for art.

"By identifying sexual desire as a universal drive with endlessly idiosyncratic objects determined by individual experiences and memories..."

"... Freud, more than anyone, not only made it possible to see female desire as a force no less powerful or valid than male desire; he made all the variants of sexual proclivity dance along a shared erotic continuum. In doing so, Freud articulated basic conceptual premises that reduced the sway of experts who attributed diverse sexual urges to hereditary degeneration or criminal pathology. His work has allowed many people to feel less isolated and freakish in their deepest cravings and fears...."

From a NYT book review of "FREUD/The Making of an Illusion." The book is by Frederick Crews, who is extremely hostile to Freud. The review is by George Prochnik, who sees value in Freud, despite all of the bad science and self-deception belabored by Crews.
Crews has been debunking Freud’s scientific pretensions for decades now; and it seems fair to ask what keeps driving him back to stab the corpse again. 
The Oedipus complex?
Now that we’ve effectively expelled Freud from the therapeutic clinic, have we become less neurotic? With that baneful “illusion” gone, and with all our psychopharmaceuticals and empirically grounded cognitive therapy techniques firmly in place, can we assert that we’ve advanced toward some more rational state of mental health than that enjoyed by our forebears in the heyday of analysis? Indeed, with a commander in chief who often seems to act entirely out of the depths of a dark unconscious, we might all do better to read more, not less, of Freud.
Ooh! Trump keeps popping up everywhere. It's like sex in Freud. It/he is everywhere. I'm going to read Freud just because I'd like some reading material where I know Trump won't show up.

Just kidding. What I really mean is that there's some reason we seem to need a big, dominating, larger-that-life male figure to loom over us and mess with our mind.

Prochnik says Trump seems to act entirely out of the depths of a dark unconscious, but maybe the feelings we project onto Trump are arising entirely out of the depths of our dark unconscious.

"Do not waste your time photographing it."

From "Five Things You Must Not Do During Totality At The Solar Eclipse."

But let me offer something for your things-to-do list: If you must take photographs, take photographs of things other than the eclipse. Maybe something about the landscape in the dark or with an approaching moon shadow. And if you're stuck surrounded by people during the eclipse, maybe get something interesting about how human beings behave, such as stupidly wasting their time trying to get their own amateur photograph of the thing that pros will be photographing to death. I'll bet lots of people will try for the selfie "Me With the Total Eclipse of the Sun." Pictures of them posing for themselves with the eclipse framed in the background might be amusing.

Who would spray paint "Tear It Down" on a statue of Joan of Arc in New Orleans?

I'm reading this story at PJ Media  — which misquotes the graffiti in the headline and makes it sound as though the graffiti was on the statue when it's actually on the base. So let's switch to The Times-Picayune (which is linked at PJ Media):
The phrase "Tear it Down" was hastily sprayed in black paint across the base of the golden Joan of Arc statue on Decatur Street in the French Quarter sometime earlier this week. It has since been removed, with only the vaguest traces of the paint remaining.

The "Tear it Down" tag would seem to relate to the debate surrounding the city's ongoing removal of four Confederate monuments. But the statue of Joan of Arc, a 15th-century military leader, martyr and Catholic saint, hasn't been mentioned in the controversy to this point.
Now, wait a minute! This article is from last May, and the PJ Media article went up yesterday and doesn't mention that the defacing of the Joan of Arc monument predated the current uproar over the removal of Civil War monuments. But there was a "Take Em Down NOLA" movement at the time that — as the Times-Picayune tells us — aimed at the local Confederate monuments (and this group denies targeting the Joan).

Anyway, who would spray paint "Tear It Down" on a Joan of Arc monument? Do you leap to assume that some idiot believes that Joan of Arc has to do with the Confederacy? Maybe that's how you have fun. At PJ Media, the author (Tom Knighton) does not assume it was ignorance about Joan of Arc. At the end of his piece he says:
It's also possible that this was the result of someone being intentionally ridiculous. After all, while removing statues of Confederate leaders is the big thing, there are also movements to remove a Thomas Jefferson monument from outside of Columbia University and a Teddy Roosevelt from outside of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. So maybe someone is just trolling these lunatics.
Yes, that theory fits the facts better than the theory that some idiot thought it was a pro-Confederacy statue.

But it could also be anti-Catholic. Speaking of ignorance of American history, it's ignorant not to know that the KKK and other nationalists have been virulently anti-Catholic. Here's a Wikipedia article, "Anti-Catholicism in the United States."

Here's some KKK artwork from 1925:
You see the tear-it-down enthusiasm.

There are people who would want to take down a statue of a Catholic saint. Quite aside from the KKK, what about people who want the strict separation of religion and government? Why is there a religious monument in the public square?

If "the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over" — as Bannon says — then who is this Trump-minus-Bannon we've got now?

The quote comes from The Weekly Standard:
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said.... “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
The "we" in Bannon's quote is a subset of the people who voted for Trump. Clearly, Trump won the Electoral College, which is our system. He won the game according to our rules, but his opponent got more votes and something like 40% of the eligible voters abstained for one reason or another. But even if you look only at the — what is it? — 26% of the people who voted for Trump, only some unknown fraction of that were people who fit Bannon's "we," people who want whatever Trump-minus-Bannon is not.
Among the senior advisers competing with Bannon in trying to shape Trump’s agenda, and his tone, were the president’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared. Bannon pointedly voiced criticism of those in the president’s sphere whom he considered to be globalists, or liberals (or both), and the president himself plainly bristled over the early attention that Bannon got from the press (including a Time magazine cover, which is said to have particularly irked Trump).
Yes, some of the people who voted for Trump want something more moderate, something represented by Jared and Ivanka, the Trump who said things like:
“Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the L.G.B.T. community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words? I will tell you who the better friend is, and someday I believe that will be proven out, big-league.”
The big league is a strange place. You never know what you're getting when you vote for a President. Some people who voted for Trump were saying he didn't really mean those harsher things he said. Voters hear what they want to hear or hear and hope for the best or just loathe both candidates and join the 40% who abstained or pick somebody because they're more afraid the other person. I was in that last category, and while I have never revealed which of the 2 candidates I voted for in spite of disliking both of them — I voted for the one I disliked more! — there's no way I'm in Bannon's "we."

Bannon deserves to feel great pride that he got Trump over the line. He's entitled to think of himself as the without-which-nothing of Trump's presidency. But the intensely excited subset of Trump supporters don't deserve to get everything they want. Trump is the President of all of us, even those who didn't vote or who are not eligible to vote or who voted for Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. The people outside of Bannon's "we" are the vast majority of Americans and include millions of people who voted for Trump and would like to vote for him again in 2020.
“Now, it’s gonna be Trump,” Bannon said. “The path forward on things like economic nationalism and immigration, and his ability to kind of move freely . . . I just think his ability to get anything done—particularly the bigger things, like the wall, the bigger, broader things that we fought for, it’s just gonna be that much harder."...

“I think they’re going to try to moderate him,” he says. “I think he’ll sign a clean debt ceiling, I think you’ll see all this stuff. His natural tendency—and I think you saw it this week on Charlottesville—his actual default position is the position of his base, the position that got him elected. I think you’re going to see a lot of constraints on that. I think it’ll be much more conventional.”
But the vast majority of Americans — 80? 90? 95%? — want something more conventional! Convention is tradition. Trump said "Make America Great Again," invoking the past, tradition, and there is a longing for stability and recognizable values and principles and inclusiveness.
“I feel jacked up,” he says. “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
Great! Get out there where you belong. Speaking freely, speaking directly to us, out there where we can see you and where you don't have your hands on political power.

August 18, 2017

August's autumn.

The colors are beginning to change, I see:

DSC04940

Photographed today, near Lake Mendota.

Feel free to write about anything in the comments.

"The anger and action aimed at the statues are reminiscent of recent controversies over two prominent artworks..."

"... Dana Schutz’s painting 'Open Casket' depicting Emmett Till, the murdered African-American teenager, in the Whitney Biennial, and Sam Durant’s sculpture gallows 'Scaffold,' at the Walker Art Center’s sculpture garden, which was denounced by Native American groups for recalling an act of genocide. Protesters objected to both pieces on racial, ethnic, and historical grounds and called for their removal or destruction. Neither work celebrated the Confederacy or slavery, however, and both were created as art rather than as public memorials like some of the statues now being removed."

Created as art? What does that even mean? They were political and intentionally so.

The passage is from "Trump Aside, Artists and Preservationists Debate the Rush to Topple Statues" (NYT).

Both "Open Casket" and "Scaffold" were discussed on the blog. Here:
But why would the Whitney choose ["Open Casket"] for its vaunted biennial? You could say that the Whitney should want art that challenges us, but this is simply bad. The historical photograph speaks for itself. What did Schutz contribute with her simplified and smeared paint job?
And here:
What were the mental processes of the elite arts people who decided this was a good idea? Now, they have to backtrack, because their mistake was so bad and they want to salvage their reputation. They're dismantling the thing they should never have put up. That's not censorship. That's belated shame.
Also from the NYT article:
[Some] argue that removing a statue from its place of origin diminishes the power of its historical significance. “The meanings and the history that we are able to draw from them in a different site, especially a sort of sanitized site like a museum, are not going to be the same,” said Michele H. Bogart, a professor at Stony Brook University. “That is a historical loss.”
This is an important point: Don't sanitize the history. Some people say the history remains the same when the statue is taken down. They're probably thinking of the history of the Civil War. But there's also the history of putting up monuments.

The statues were put up by white people who wanted to express something, and they are now being taken down because white people are ashamed of what they expressed back then. They want to delete the old evidence and use the deletion as the creation of new evidence — evidence of how kindly white people really are. Why should white people have such an easy time covering up their shame? Removing the statues can be portrayed as a kindness toward black people, but critical race theory teaches us to presume that what white people do they do for themselves.

"Steve is now unchained. Fully unchained."

"He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad."

Comments from 2 different Bannon friends, relayed by Politico.

And:

“First he’s gonna figure things out with Bob and Bekah [Mercer],” said one Bannon ally. “Breitbart’s certainly the likely landing spot.” This ally said that Bannon may also move to a Mercer-funded outside group, or even start a new one.

Another friend of Bannon’s doubted this: “Why would he help them from the outside at this point? Run the outside group and then Jared Kushner takes credit?"...

We can infer that Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs declined to talk to the NYT about Donald Trump.

I'm reading "Circling the Square of President Trump’s Relationship With Race" in today's NYT.

First, let me get this out of the way. What's with "Circling the Square"? The standard expression, referring to an ancient geometry problem, is "squaring the circle." That's a used as a metaphor for something you just can't do. I'm seeing "Circling the Square" as a book title, referring to the Egyptian Revolution, where there were demonstrations in a square — Tahrir Square. The title seems to be a play on the the old expression "squaring the circle." In this NYT article, however, there's no square to form the basis of a play on the old expression. I think it's just a weird mistake.

Now, let's get to the meat of this article. It seems apparent that the NYT set out to find out if there's any evidence that Trump is a racist. Read the article. They found strong evidence that he is absolutely not any sort of a racist. The headline ought to come out and celebrate his excellent record.

The article begins with Kara Young, a "biracial" model who went out with Trump for 2 years and says “I never heard him say a disparaging comment towards any race of people." (Young, like Barack Obama, had one black parent and one white parent.) The only seemingly negative thing the NYT got out of her was that he noticed the high number of black people in the crowd at the U.S. Open when Venus and Serena Williams were playing.

But this is what really struck me:
Beyond dating a biracial woman, [Trump] made outsize efforts to hang out publicly with African-American celebrities: the boxing promoter Don King, the hip-hop impresarios Kanye West, Russell Simmons and Sean Combs, and celebrities as big as Muhammad Ali, James Brown and Michael Jackson.
Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs are all still alive. Do they not take phone calls from the New York Times? I've got to assume they were called and they all refused to talk. I'm going to guess that they all would give a good report but won't speak because they'd be savaged economically if they spoke well of Trump. But they don't have to speak. The inference is so strong that the silence is enough.

But let's see what these men may have said about Trump elsewhere. Here's something from 2 days ago: "Kanye West deletes all tweets defending Trump meeting." The tweets were from last December, and the deletions happened this past Sunday or Monday.

Russell Simmons has an open letter to Trump, published just this afternoon in The Daily News (perhaps in response to his name coming up in the NYT article). He talks about "the Donald I called friend... the Donald I know," who had great relationships with black and Jewish people, and asks "Where is he now? I have to believe he is still in there, somewhere." He implores Trump to change and "begin to feed the light":
The racist, bigoted movements you are feeding now are gaining power by your words, actions and refusal to hold people accountable for the destruction they are causing in your name....

Scripture tells us the Donald I knew — or an even greater Donald — is still there inside you, sleeping. It is time to wake him the f--- up.
As for Sean Combs, it seems that the last relevant thing we've heard from him was back in June, when he said that black people "don’t really give a fuck about Trump, because we're in the same fucked-up position... The tomfoolery that’s going on in D.C., that’s just regular everyday business to black folks."
“We’re turning CNN and all that shit off because we’re trying to get ourselves together,” he said. “That’s what I’m about. I’m like, ‘Turn that shit off, let them deal with all that shit. We gotta start dealing with us.’ So my thing is, I gotta keep showing the dream. I gotta keep magnifying that and keep it focused on that self-love that we need to give our race.”

At the Second-Look Café...

DSC04934

... nobody's naked.

Talk about whatever you like.

Consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

It's your way to help Althouse get out and about, taking pictures with peripheries that demand a second look.

I really thought I'd just happened to capture a naked person standing on the street. That would be odd!

"Trump tells aides he has decided to remove Bannon."

According to my TV screen, set to CNN.

ADDED: Here's the NYT article, "Stephen Bannon Out at the White House After Turbulent Run." Excerpt:
Mr. Bannon’s dismissal followed an Aug. 16 interview he initiated with a writer with whom he had never spoken, with the progressive publication The American Prospect. In it, Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

He also bad-mouthed his colleagues in the Trump administration, vowed to oust a diplomat at the State Department and mocked officials as “wetting themselves” over the consequences of radically changing trade policy. Of the far right, he said, “These guys are a collection of clowns,” and he called it a “fringe element” of “losers.” “We gotta help crush it,” he said in the interview, which people close to Mr. Bannon said he believed was off the record....

"You need violence in order to protect nonviolence. That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically."

Said Emily Rose Nauert, "a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley," quoted in the NYT in "‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right."
Antifa adherents — some armed with sticks and masked in bandannas — played a visible role in the running street battles in Charlottesville, but it is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members of the movement. Its followers acknowledge it is secretive, without official leaders and organized into autonomous local cells. It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past several months to the fight the far right....
That makes me think about that NYT article 2 days ago —  "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language" (blogged here) — that relied on the characterizations of Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, who deemed “alt-left" "just a made-up epithet" and "antifa" an "old left-wing extremist movement."

The new article today seems to acknowledge the inadequacy of the 2-day-old article. The older article seemed intent on pushing back Donald Trump for talking about the "alt-left" as well as the "alt-right." The term "false equivalence" — which was a big media talking point earlier in the week — appears in the older article. I thought "false equivalence" was being used to say, essentially: When one side is worse than the other side, you're not even allowed to compare them.

There was something false about saying "false equivalence." Strictly speaking, the label applies only when 2 things are said to be the same. It shouldn't work to exclude all comparisons when people are being clear about the similarities and differences.

In the case of Charlottesville, there was no logical fallacy in saying there were 2 opposing factions that arrived on scene ready to rumble as long as you're also clear that the 2 sides were different. One side wanted to exercise its free speech rights to express bad, ugly ideas. The other side wanted to interfere with the exercise of free speech rights and was motivated by hostility to ideas that deserved hostility.

In the new article, there's less concern about stepping on the "false equivalence" talking point. There's a recognition that people like Nauert are headed in a violent direction and are gaining adherents. Maybe acting like they're nothing (or nothing any good people dare speak about) is dangerous. Right after that quote from Nauert, there's this subtle discarding of the "false equivalence" talking point:
Others on the left disagree, saying antifa’s methods harm the fight against right-wing extremism and have allowed Mr. Trump to argue that the two sides are equivalent....
Now, Trump never said "the 2 sides are equivalent." He didn't say "equivalent" and he didn't even say "2 sides." He said "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." But those who were pushing the "false equivalence" idea needed to rely on the idea that one side is bad and the other is good, and they needed to minimize antifa. Now, the NYT admits the left has a violence problem. Good!

Trump has us studying General Pershing.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!," he tweeted. That was after "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!"

That's not making an assertion about what General Pershing did, just telling us to go study something. Is that really enough to get a "Pants on Fire" rating from Politifact?

Politifact merges the new tweet with something Trump said back in February 2016:
"They were having terrorism problems [in the Philippines], just like we do," Trump said, according to a February 2016 account in the Washington Post. "And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem."
Is that story true? How would we know? If it were true, it might be denied, and if it were false, it might be claimed.
The best evidence U.S. troops used pigs as a tactic against Muslims comes from a memoir by Pershing titled My Life Before the World War, 1860-1917, which was republished in 2013 by the University Press of Kentucky. In the memoir, Pershing writes that another commanding officer in the Philippines, Col. Frank West, had in at least one case seen to it that bodies of Muslim insurgents "were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig. It was not pleasant to have to take such measures, but the prospect of going to hell instead of heaven sometimes deterred the would-be assassins."

In a footnote, the editor of the 2013 edition, John T. Greenwood, cited a letter about the incident from Maj. Gen. J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the Philippines Division, to Pershing: "Of course there is nothing to be done, but I understand it has long been a custom to bury (insurgents) with pigs when they kill Americans. I think this a good plan, for if anything will discourage the (insurgents) it is the prospect of going to hell instead of to heaven. You can rely on me to stand by you in maintaining this custom. It is the only possible thing we can do to discourage crazy fanatics."

While these writings do provide strong evidence that United States forces used pigs as a tactic against Muslim insurgents, there is no evidence that Pershing himself committed these acts.
The interesting thing is that Trump is choosing to waft this myth right now. That is, he's thinks its a good idea to let radical Muslim terrorists know we might mess with their dead bodies in a way that he (presumably) thinks they think will wreck their afterlife. He might think that threat will influence the terrorists, but not necessarily. He might just think that he had cheeky tweet to entertain his fans and confound his MSM antagonists. It's a new topic: Pershing!

It gets rid of whatever the old topic was.

Purging with Pershing.

But, seriously, the bodies of the enemy dead should not be desecrated.

Remember: "Horror at Fallujah / SAVAGE ATTACK: Bodies dragged through street, hung from bridge 4 U.S. contractors killed in ambush hours after 5 soldiers slain in Iraq."

And the respect the previous administration showed to the body of our arch-enemy bin Laden:
"Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea.''
AND: From 2013: "One of the U.S. Marines who was caught on video urinating on the corpses of suspected Taliban fighters has broken his silence to say that he's not sorry for what he did and he'd do it again."

"These were the same guys that were killing our family, killing our brothers," Sgt. Joseph Chamblin told ABC News affiliate WSOC in his first interview since the 2011 incident. Chamblin said he did regret any repercussions it may have had on the Marines, "but do I regret doing it? Hell no."

"Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority..."

"... who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit. And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then 'you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome'...."

From "How to Make Fun of Nazis," a NYT op-ed by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.

Quite aside from "their narrative of victimhood," there's their desire to be regarded as staunchly masculine and powerful. If you respond with fear and violence, you're reinforcing their self-image and helping them recruit more lost souls and losers.

But humor is hard. It takes some brains. Violence is easy.

ADDED: This post made me think about the courage it took to make fun of the real Nazis, in Germany, in the Nazi era, which was the subject of an August 9th post. Excerpt:
I found this article in Spiegel from 2006 about a book by Rudolph Herzog called "Heil Hitler, The Pig is Dead" (published in English as "Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany"). From the article:

"We make the assumption that if people are aware of how urgent and frightening and scary these issues are, then people will automatically translate that into ‘Oh my gosh, what kind of actions can I take?'"

"That’s just simply not the case," says Renee Lertzman, "a psychologist who studies climate-change communication," quoted in The Atlantic in "Constant Anxiety Won't Save the World/Spreading fear and worry about issues you care about on social media can lead to burnout rather than action."

There's also this from Scott Woodruff, "the director of the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive treatment program at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy":
The anxious mind and the worried mind can manage to bring back topics over and over again. It is possible that people can really spend quite an amount of time every day worrying about world events.... Excessive worry can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration, and muscle tightness. The interesting thing is the fatigue and lack of concentration are the opposite of what people are trying to promote when they’re advocating for vigilance.... [P]eople get overwhelmed. They burn out and short-circuit and turn their backs on the very issues that they care most deeply about.
I'm watching this phenomenon every day on the internet. And I really am vigilant, having blogged daily for 13+ years, with genuine, unbroken concentration. I observe the anxiety of others and how they spread it in social media (and mainstream media), but I experience the opposite of anxiety for some reason. I think I'm often saying calm down, it's not so bad. Why is everybody cranking everybody else up?

One answer is: It's not everybody. It's just everybody on the internet. There are huge numbers of ordinary people who go about their business, working for a living, caring for their loved ones, experiencing real-world pleasures, and doing constructive, concrete things that can be done.

Facebook could be about friends sharing views into their life in the real world. That's why I'm on Facebook. My Facebook feed is currently cluttered with posts expressing alarm about Nazis and slavery. Oh my gosh, what kind of actions can I take? The only "action" required is to express, again and again, just how terribly much you oppose Nazis and slavery. There isn't even any challenging thinking involved. What can you say other than the obvious, that Nazis and slavery are wrong? Well, you can put some serious effort into denouncing people who are not stating the obvious with sufficient intensity or who are not stating the obvious in a statement that does not contain additional statements.

This intense policing of the virtue of others — it's not even virtuous. But that's not where the article in The Atlantic goes. Cautioning against burnout, it recommends more self-care.

August 17, 2017

"The removal of City-owned monuments to confederate soldiers in Forest Hill Cemetery has minimal or no disruption to the cemetery itself."

"There is no disrespect to the dead with the removal of the plaque and stone," said a written statement from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, after the removal of the memorial. My post on the subject is here, where there's been a discussion under way for a couple hours. In that time, I walked over to Forest Hill and found the Confederate’s Rest section:

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I had hoped that perhaps the plaque was not yet gone, because I wanted to read the text. But here's a photograph from William Cronon that shows how it looked. The text is mostly readable. The soldiers (who died as prisoners of war) are called "valiant." We're told they surrendered "after weeks of fighting under extremely difficult conditions" and that they arrived in the prison camp here in Madison "suffering from wounds, malnutrition and various diseases."
Within a few weeks 140 graves were filled, the last resting place for these unsung heroes, far from their homes in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
It's a neutral, informative account except for that word "heroes." They were called "unsung heroes," but to say "unsung heroes" is to sing — however slightly — of their heroism. "Unsung" was thus untrue, and that little bit of singing of heroism was enough to incite the passion for cutting down monuments. Don't call them heroes just because they fought hard and suffered and died!

Who are heroes? "If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero." That's what Donald Trump said after he said "He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

My dictionary, the OED, says "A man (or occasionally a woman) distinguished by the performance of courageous or noble actions, esp. in battle; a brave or illustrious warrior, soldier, etc." It doesn't say the man had to fight on your side, but who puts up monuments using the word "heroes" for the courageous fighters on the other side? We know the answer: Our city. We had whatever reason we had to express kind thoughts toward the men who suffered and died in our prison camp. But our city's thoughts are harsher today. To paraphrase Trump: I like people who weren't fighting for slavery. 

Here's an article from last May about veterans honoring the different sites, including Union Rest and Confederate Rest:
“You want to honor the soldiers. It doesn’t matter what side they were on,” said Carol Gannon-Hembel, who accompanied her husband, Alan Hembel, to the ceremony....

At the Confederate Rest service, Alan Zeuner and Dan Bradford, dressed in Confederate regalia, lamented the removal of the flag pole holder in front of the Confederate Rest grave site. Bradford called it a “slap in the face” to Confederate veterans who were repatriated after the war.

“It’s a part of history that is largely ignored,” Bradford said, regarding the role of Confederate soldiers in 19th-century Wisconsin history. “I want to see to it that people see it for what it really is, rather than outright lies.”

Bradford, a member of the 61st Georgia Infantry, has both Union and Confederate ancestors. He said he is a descendant of Union Army General James Shields, who is known for challenging Abraham Lincoln to a duel, prior to his presidency.

“These are just interesting little points of history,” Bradford said....

"There's a cemetery just a few blocks from where I live up here in the north where there is a section full of graves of Confederate soldiers."

"These are well-tended graves in part of a beautiful cemetery. I think these men suffered and died at the place we still call Camp Randall. It's where we play football now, but it was a miserable prison camp. But statues in the public square honoring the other side in a war? Why are we doing that? It's very strange!"

I wrote that in the comments section to a post I put up 2 days ago. I'd said "Why do we have monuments celebrating the losing side, the Americans who took up arms against America? That's rather crazy other than to express respect for the dead."

I really did not think the monument-topplers would go after the cemetery. 

But today I see that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has ordered the removal of a stone with a plaque memorializing those dead men at the site of their graves:
Soglin said in a statement Thursday that he has directed staff to remove a plaque and a stone at the Confederate Rest section of the cemetery, adding "there should be no place in our country for bigotry, hatred or violence against those who seek to unite our communities and our country."...
A plaque at the Confederate Rest section of the public cemetery describes how the 140 soldiers ended buried in Wisconsin after surrendering in a battle and being taken to Camp Randall. It described them as "valiant Confederate soldiers" and "unsung heroes."
Here's an article from 2014 about that part of the cemetery:
The servicemen, most from Alabama’s 1st Infantry Regiment and others from Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, died from their injuries or other ailments not long after arriving in Madison by train in April 1862. They were captured at Island No. 10 — a Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River where Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee meet — and held at Camp Randall, a Union army training facility that became a prisoner-of-war camp and military hospital.

Visitors from around the U.S. seeking their forebears have made pilgrimages to the small plot, and some have taken its plight to heart. Alice Whiting Waterman moved to Madison from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1866 to care for the graves. When she died in 1897, she was buried there with “her boys.”
I truly believed that Madisonians were proud of the respect they had shown for so long for those prisoners who died here.

It is awful to preempt public discussion about these graves, to choose go after them in a time of heightened passion. These are graves!

ADDED: Here is the full text of the statement Paul Soglin put up on the City of Madison website an hour ago: