February 24, 2017

"Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing."

"Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend."
Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended....

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”
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"Well @realDonaldTrump, from one Republican to another, this is a disaster. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me."

"What kind of a crazy person celebrates Noam Chomsky's birthday like it's some kind of official holiday?"

Just one of the many great scenes in "Captain Fantastic," which Meade and I watched on streaming video last night. I give it the Althouse seal of approval. You can stream it here. And let's talk about it!

I enjoyed listening to Tom & Lorenzo talk about that movie in this podcast. Tom was outraged at the Viggo Mortenson character, calling his treatment of his children "child abuse" and said that because the man was inculcating left-wing politics in his children, viewers were not going to be able to detect the badness of his fathering.

That resonates with something I said to Meade immediately after watching the movie (and before listening to Tom & Lorenzo): This movie would be experienced very differently by someone with left-wing politics, someone who actually thought Noam Chomsky was great. Things we found hilarious — and also painful — would read entirely differently. I think this was Tom's problem, but it forced Tom to see that there's something abusive about inculcating children with politics (he just thought the common people needed clearer instruction, which would have been there if the father's politics were right-wing or Christian fundamentalist).

The movie is complicated, hilarious and dramatic. A father is sort of leading his band of 6 children against the world. He's both good and bad. And the grandfather who disapproves — played by Frank Langella — is also good and bad, even though he's in the position that would normally be The Villain. (He's trying to take the children away.) There's a great dinner-table scene where the 6 children try to relate to their cousins, and it's complex to think about. There's some of the feeling Meade and I remember from many movies circa 1970 where the people who reject American society are morally and intellectually better, but that's also challenged as one of the boys yells at his father for making them into "freaks."

And I just want to say: Viggo Mortenson is 58 years old. He looks great. And we got a comprehensive look at him at one point.

It was horrible of that CNN editor to say it's the role of journalists to "aid the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Good thing James O'Keefe smoked out that horror (spoken by Richard T. Griffiths, vice president and editorial director at CNN, when he thought he was off microphone).

It was horrible of Griffiths to mangle the great old aphorism, which is usually phrased "The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" and which was originally written — in the kind of dialect people don't find too amusing anymore — in the 1902 book "Observations by Mr. Dooley":
“Th' newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs th' polis foorce an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, marries th' foolish, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward.”
(Mr. Dooley, an Irish bartender, is the fictional creation of the newspaper humorist Finley Peter Dunne.)

How can Griffiths be a media editor and so lacking of an ear for language? What makes the saying great is the flipping of the 2 words, comfort and afflict.  In the first phrase, comfort is the verb and the noun is formed out of the word afflict. In the second phrase, afflict is the verb and the noun is formed out of the word comfort. That's some beautiful humor, full of meaning and poetry.

Then along comes this lummox Griffiths and he botches the first word, instead of beginning with comfort — the word upon which you're then supposed to cleverly end (in its variation comfortable) — he begins with aid, which never appears again in his clunky non-aphorism.

It's like saying: It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the amount of the fight in the dog.

"What do you think happens to the political sensibilities of young people watching a political discourse like that?'

It's 1992 and Bill Moyers asking his his intellectual panel about the remix video made from George H.W. Bush's "Read my lips: No new taxes." You can watch the video, followed — beginning at 2:11 — by the egg-headed discussion:

I got that over at Reason.com, where Jesse Walker writes:
The publisher of The Hotline replies that the video "debases the process"; the dean of the Annenberg School for Communication calls it an "invitation to cynicism that I think is very unhealthy." And they both go on from there, condemning in advance the entire media landscape of 2017. I'm not sure 1992 has ever felt as distant as it does while I'm watching this.

"We've had the privilege to carry a century of humanity. But maybe what we carry isn’t just people, it's an idea: that while we're not the same, we can be one."

Cadillac's ad (to play during the Oscars):

I got there via "Cadillac Ad Tries to Bridge Nation’s Chasm, Without Falling In," by James B. Stewart (in the NYT), who compares this ad to Audi's Super Bowl ad (which we talked about here). Stewart writes:
Uwe Ellinghaus, chief marketing officer of Global Cadillac, said, “We can have a point of view without adding fuel to any controversial political debate."...  [But] “I didn’t see how we could shy away from the division in the country,” he said. “We didn’t want to enter the political debate. We wanted to transcend it.”

Perhaps it took two non-Americans — Mr. Sadoun is French, Mr. Ellinghaus is German — to suggest that by acknowledging the divide, an ad campaign might actually help heal it. After all, America had been divided before in its history — at times far more than now. (Hence the image of a civil rights demonstration.) The nation had overcome the divisions, moved forward and prospered, the American dream intact.

For many years (though not in recent decades), the Cadillac brand embodied that dream. Perhaps Cadillac’s ad could remind Americans of the nation’s resilience and inherent optimism, and “celebrate what America is capable of,” Mr. Ellinghaus said....

“Cadillac realizes that it needs to connect with buyers emotionally,” Ms. Sewell said. “That’s never been more true than now in the luxury space.” In the ad, Cadillac is identified with “unity, optimism, courage — the great American values,” she said. “I think dealers and customers, too, are hungry to hear something positive like this.”

Leslie Jones is sick of you and your rescue dogs.

From a prominent NYT article about the comedienne's standup act:
During a riff about rescue dogs and self-righteous pet owners who say things like “Did I rescue the dog, or did the dog rescue me?” Ms. Jones spun a wicked fantasy.

“How about both of y’all get caught in a fire, and neither one of y’all get rescued?” she said.
“If I see another 45-year-old white woman from Williamsburg saying ‘black lives matter,’ I’m going to punch you in the mouth,” Ms. Jones said. “Stop doing that.”

When she observes these political protests, Ms. Jones said: “Not one black woman out there. Black woman at home watching ‘Housewives of Atlanta.’”

If 90,000 jump the subway turnstile in NYC every year and 2,000 are arrested for it in one month — is there too much law enforcement or too little.

This article at DNAinfo (linked from a linky page in the NYT) highlights the opinion of a transit authority board member, David Jones, whose objections are 5-fold:

1. Triviality. It's a mere "quality of life problem" that shouldn't preoccupy the police.

2. Poverty. It's a crime people commit because they're insufficiently rich. So it's "like Victor Hugo, 'Les Miserables,' persecuting people for stealing bread." And then the punishment is to collect a fine, but these are "people who have already indicated they don’t have money."

3. Race. Jones either knows or imagines that there is a disparate racial impact: "I’m also worried that if you start to look at the demographics, who’s interfacing with the criminal justice system on this, it’s generally young people, blacks and Latinos."

4. Illegal immigration. It will lead to deportations. "Even before the Trump victory, I would’ve been concerned because I don’t want young people having an interaction with the criminal justice system that doesn’t involve some very serious activity.... Now it’s heightened — we just don’t want to give more ammunition and more reason to deport people who have engaged with us because of poverty."

5. Sneakiness. The NYPD uses plainclothes officers to catch people in the act. Why don't they just have "a big sign there and a policeman under the sign"? Then that turnstile wouldn't be luring impulsive youngsters to leap.

Nicholas Kristof begs Trump-haters to "please don’t practice his trick of 'otherizing' people into stick-figure caricatures, slurring vast groups as hopeless bigots."

"We’re all complicated, and stereotypes are not helpful — including when they’re of Trump supporters."
First, stereotyping a huge slice of America as misogynist bigots is unfair and impairs understanding. Hundreds of thousands of those Trump supporters had voted for Barack Obama. Many are themselves black, Latino or Muslim. Are they all bigots?

Second, demonizing Trump voters feeds the dysfunction of our political system. One can be passionate about one’s cause, and fight for it, without contributing to political paralysis that risks making our country ungovernable.

Tolerance is a liberal value; name-calling isn’t....
 I agree: Tolerance is a liberal value. But that's why an awful lot of those in this country who call themselves liberals ought to be referred to as so-called liberals.

"The new '... nevertheless, she persisted'?"

Writes my son John about the statement "She got exactly what she wanted, which wasn't to speak.... She wanted to cause a scene...."

The statement appears in an L.A. Times article, "A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam":
After trying to make a statement about the late Tom Hayden and his opposition to the Vietnam War, Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) was removed from the floor of the state Senate on Thursday, a tense scene that ended in a slew of angry accusations from both Republicans and Democrats.

Nguyen, who was brought to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee when she was a child, said she wanted to offer "a different historical perspective" on what Hayden and his opposition to the war had meant to her and other refugees....

In the statement which she later posted on her official Senate website, Nguyen criticized Hayden for siding "with a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family."
A procedural rule was cited as the basis for wanting shut Nguyen up. She was ruled "out of order" for using a "point of personal privilege." Nguyen had refrained from airing her opinion during a remembrance of Hayden that had occurred earlier in the week.

February 23, 2017

A hot new Bloggingheads episode.

I can't figure out how to embed it, so you have to go here.

How bad were Milo’s pedophilia comments? 8:21
Are evangelicals demonized? 5:40
Debating the limits of free speech 18:35
Is the media’s coverage of Trump unprofessional? 7:38
Is Trump anti-Muslim? 7:26
Ann’s “hypothetical Trumps” thought experiment 11:10
How not to oppose to Trump 3:36

ADDED: This might work:

At the Ulmus New Horizon Hotel...


... you can stay up all night.

(And if you're staying up shopping, you know you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

The most interesting sentence in George Packer's musing about whether Trump is insane enough to be removed under the procedure set forth in the 25th Amendment.

"The gaudy gold drapery of the East Room contributed to the impression that at any moment Trump might declare himself President for Life, and a flunky would appear from behind the curtain to pin the Medal of National Greatness on his suit jacket, while, backstage, officials and generals discussed his overthrow."

So let me get this straight — who's crazy?

"If you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason, and that is the deconstruction."

"The way the progressive left runs is if they can't get it passed, they’re just going to put it in some kind of regulation in an agency. That’s all going to be deconstructed."

Steve Bannon, speaking at CPAC.

"#CNNLeaks: Project Veritas Releases Over 100 Hours of Audio From Inside CNN."

ADDED: I put up the video before watching it. I've watched it now and I'm not seeing anything significant in the few little clips of audio presented. There's also an invitation to us to go through all the hours and hours of audio at the Project Veritas webpage.

"Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent."

"After getting nowhere, he took his objections to the White House because he could not go forward without her consent. Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general... and told Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her opposition. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along. Ms. DeVos’s unease was evident in a strongly worded statement she released on Wednesday night, in which she said she considered it a 'moral obligation' for every school in America to protect all students from discrimination, bullying and harassment. She said she had directed the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate all claims of such treatment 'against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,' but also argued that bathroom access was not a federal matter...."

From "Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students" (in the NYT).

"As I previously mentioned on the show last year, there would be times I would be taking off from the show to deal with a medical issue."

"This is why I’ve been out recently and will be out this week as well. But I will be back taking your calls as soon as I can."

Wrote Alan Colmes on January 30th.

This morning:

What can we say about the new Washington Post catchphrase: "Democracy Dies in Darkness"?

It looks like this on the homepage:

Without reading any of the articles on the subject, I'll just jot down all the thoughts I can come up with:

1. Somebody loves alliteration!

2. Why not forefront death? There's usually lots of death on the front page of the newspaper? "If it bleeds, it leads," they say. So why wait until something bleeds? Why not scream DEATH!!! right at your bloodlusting readers?

3. It makes me think of the emotionalism of the Scott Walker recall election of 2012 — "Democracy died tonight!"

4. They're giving the premise for an unstated assertion. The assertion is: We are the light! The idea is that you need this newspaper because we are what keeps democracy alive.

5. So then why not put it positively? If only I could have listened into the brainstorming session:
We are the light that shines on democracy!

No, we don't just show democracy by illuminating it, we actually cause its continued existence. If you shine a flashlight on a brick wall at night, it lets you see a wall that is always there. It doesn't build the wall. It doesn't keep the wall from crumbling.

We need it to be more like a plant in the sunlight, feeding on the light, and dying in darkness.

We are the blazing sun keeping the plants of democracy growing...

Like kudzu strangling the gnarled trunk of Trump!

That monster. That Satan.

The Prince of Darkness.

The Prince of Darkness is killing democracy.

Death darkness democracy.

Democracy Dies in Darkness!
6. Maybe they knew they could get everybody to write about it and then they would take it out later. 

Language deleted from Melania Trump's lawsuit against The Daily Mail.

"[The] plaintiff had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world."

Well, that really was embarrassing, that blatant statement of intent to cash in on that First Lady cachet.

Good thing she took that out. And I like how taking that out had the collateral effect of ousting that word you know I hate — click on the tag — garner.

"Why Was Times Theater Critic Charles Isherwood Fired?"

Asks Boris Kachka at Vulture:
[L]ast year Isherwood asked culture editor Danielle Mattoon for a promotion to co-chief theater critic, an arrangement the art and movie critics share. He was turned down and wound up storming out of the office.

“Most of us were thinking, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? You have the best job in the world,’” says a colleague. “If I had the role of second-string critic, where you could discover things and make a different kind of mark … I don’t think there was a lot of sympathy for the way he was behaving.”

Yet the dismissal still confuses this colleague, who notes, “It’s very rare for the Times to fire somebody. They could have shifted him to the municipal-bonds beat and the guild wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, so it is kind of shocking. But Charles had no rabbi left at the paper, nobody really protecting him, and maybe he was aware of that and gave up, or kept pushing the limits.”....