April 23, 2017

"Why Trump likes his freewheeling Oval Office schedule/The loose set-up allows friends and unofficial advisers to whisper in the president’s ear on policy issues."

Reports/speculates Politico.
That routine traces back at least to his days in real estate. "I try not to schedule too many meetings," Trump wrote in “The Art of the Deal.” "I leave my door open. You can’t be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you’ve got too much structure. I prefer to work each day and just see what develops. There is no typical week in my life.”
One thing he does is watch television. Sometimes he sees somebody on television saying something nice about him and he calls them up, invites them over. Or he just calls in his advisers to talk about what came up on the TV news.
"Number one, he's lonely. It's part of why he's reached out to me," said one confidante of the president who Trump has contacted many times by phone since taking office. "He's always been a creature of routine."
Creative/lonely... who knows? The man is an enigma, an enigma who watches TV and talks about the shows. 

I decided after all to read "Shattered."

I'm 16% of the way into the book that goes "Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign." (I know the percent because I'm reading it on Kindle (in combination with the "whispersync'd" audio version, useful when walking around).)

I just wanted to quote 3 things:

1. At the 5% mark, the unholy mess: "The campaign was an unholy* mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose. No one was in charge, and no one had figured out how to make the campaign about something bigger than Hillary. Muscatine felt that the speech said nothing because it tried to say too much."

2. At the 9% mark, Huma, the croc-filled moat: "[Huma Abedin] had the final say on where Hillary went and who had access to her. Rather than just being a gatekeeper, Abedin took on the role of channeling Hillary for the rest of the campaign... That made her indispensable to both the candidate and the rest of the team... But many feared speaking their minds around her. She couldn’t be counted on to relay constructive criticism to Hillary without pointing a finger at the critic. If Hillary was a candidate often isolated from her formal campaign — and she was — Abedin was the croc-filled moat encircling her. The Royal Huma Guard made it harder for Hillary’s senior- and midlevel aides to get time with the candidate, and that made it impossible to really know the woman they were selling."

3. At the 14% mark, the Brianna/Bianna screwup: "In May [2015], as Bernie was starting to campaign in earnest and it was becoming clear that the press wouldn’t let the e-mail story go, Hillary’s aides began planning her first national television interview of the campaign, a chance to strike back at the widely held perception that she was hiding from the press. Palmieri asked Abedin to find out which newscaster Hillary would prefer, and the answer that came back was 'Brianna.' That meant CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and Palmieri worked to set up a live interview on CNN. Only it turned out that Hillary had said 'Bianna'— as in Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo! News, the wife of former Clinton administration economic aide Peter Orszag. By the time the mistake was realized, it was too late to pull back. Hillary went through with the interview on July 7, and it was a disaster." Here's what her own people perceived as a disaster:


* The use of the word "unholy" to just mean awful or dreadful interested me. I wondered how long that completely nonreligious application of the religious-seeming word had been around. The OED finds the first published use in a letter written by Charles Dickens in 1842: "I am reminded of my promise to see to the Pantomime, and am called out at this unholy hour." A similar word is "ungodly," first recorded in the nonreligious meaning in a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Olalla" (1887)(whole text here):
I went to bed early, wearied with day-long restlessness, but the poisonous nature of the wind, and its ungodly and unintermittent uproar, would not suffer me to sleep. I lay there and tossed, my nerves and senses on the stretch. At times I would doze, dream horribly, and wake again; and these snatches of oblivion confused me as to time. But it must have been late on in the night, when I was suddenly startled by an outbreak of pitiable and hateful cries. I leaped from my bed, supposing I had dreamed; but the cries still continued to fill the house, cries of pain, I thought, but certainly of rage also, and so savage and discordant that they shocked the heart. It was no illusion; some living thing, some lunatic or some wild animal, was being foully tortured...

Fritillaria, redbud, serviceberry.




All photographed by Meade — and grown by Meade.

At the Tulip Café...


... it's a place to talk about the subjects that haven't been offered up for conversation so far here at Althouse, a blog you can help support by using The Althouse Amazon Portal. (But don't buy a leaf blower! All you need is a broom. And a rake.)

"How can anyone barbecue with the smell of meat near political prisoners fighting for their country?"

"Torturing" hunger strikers.

"Their cleverest scene together is the one in which Benjamin asks Mrs Robinson if they can't, for once, talk about something."

"Conventionally, that would make him the 'sensitive' one - the one who wants a meaningful relationship, rather than just uncomplicated rutting. But it comes across as cruel and heartless: He's too insensitive to sense her vulnerability, and too uncaring to try to figure it out. So, even in the New Hollywood, Benjamin is a traditionalist - opting for romance and conversation over sex and compartmentalization. Mike Nichols' genius was in finding the sweet spot where edgy sells, providing you smooth out all the rough stuff."

Writes Mark Steyn (on the occasion of the return of "The Graduate" to theaters on its 50th anniversary). (Can you see it in Madison? Yes. But only at 2:00, and it's a beautiful, warm day here. To go to the movies this afternoon would be like taking Elaine to a strip bar, no?)

"When it comes to really bad ideas, the leafblower ranks right up there with adding lead to gasoline and using CFCs in aerosols."

"Leafblowers are diabolical machines. Even if the claims their promoters make for them were true, the damage leafblowers do outweighs such meager benefits by many, many orders of magnitude."

ADDED: Here's an article written in a more sober style, "On Banning Leaf Blowers" (in the NYT):
Most landscapers use leaf blowers with two-stroke engines, which are light enough to carry but produce significant exhaust and noise. The gas and oil mix together, and about a third of it does not combust. As a result, pollutants that have been linked to cancers, heart disease, asthma and other serious ailments escape into the air....

United Airlines must be really glad that this American Airlines character got caught abusing a passenger.

"American Airlines flight attendant 'whacks a mother in the head with a metal stroller while she holds her twin babies and reduces her to tears' - then is filmed challenging a passenger to a FIGHT and yelling 'hit me!'"

A social force has been unleashed and who knows where it will end? The passengers feel empowered and feisty, and the flight attendants cannot maintain peaceful order within their sweet, smiling persona anymore. The iPhones are ready to record video that MSM and social media snap up and viralize.

The airlines try to compartmentalize: It's just United. It's just this one rogue flight attendant. I don't think so. I think this is the new normal: Passengers in rebellion and flight attendants in over their head.

I scan the French election headlines.

1. Simon Heffer in the U.K. Telegraph writes under a headline that seems internally contradictory: "France is resigned — Marine Le Pen may win." So there's this collective entity, "France," and it's having an election, which is a means of choosing what it wants. What's to be "resigned" about, if it's getting what it wants? I can't read the whole column because I don't have "premium" access, so I'm forced to guess. It could mean that the "France" that matters — the elite, the good people — don't want Le Pen, but this other France that doesn't deserve to be called "France" is choosing her. But it might mean that the run-off style of choosing ensures that Le Pen will get through to Round 2 and her opponent will not present an adequate not-Pen choice, so she might win even though she's opposed by a solid majority. It could be kind of like the way Trump won, jazzing up about a third of the electorate, then only having to beat an opponent who was, at best, uninspiring.

2. Kenneth Rapoza in Forbes, "In France, If Le Pen Cracks 30% 'She Could Win It All.'"
"I'm not ready to make a call yet on a Le Pen victory," says Vladimir Signorelli, founder of Brettonwoods Research in Long Valley, NJ. Brettonwoods correctly called the Trump win. "I've been telling my clients that if she gets over 30% of the vote on Sunday, she has a good chance to win it all. She will make it to the second round and when she does, all she needs is roughly a third of the remaining votes from the other candidates who didn't make it," says Signorelli.

Scandal-plagued Republican candidate, Francois Fillon, is rising in the ranks at the last minute with around 19% today. Melenchon has about the same percentage. There are more similarities with Fillon and Melenchon to Le Pen than there [are] to Macron. This does not bode well for Macron....

Brettonwoods Research also suspects a 3% to 4% under-representation of support for Le Pen in the polls, based on past polls that just missed Brexit and Trump....
3. Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, "Democracy’s dyin’, who’s got the will? What France’s election tells us about the state of modern discontent/With the left facing disarray and defeat amid a new age of revolution, it's time to ask: Is democracy over?" This is a phenomenon I've been following since the Wisconsin protests. (The side that had just lost the election laid siege to the state capitol building and chanted "This is what democracy looks like.") What makes left-wingers think that when they lose, there's no democracy? There seems to be a delusion that they embody the people, so the actual voting by people is a failure of democracy if the stupid people bumble into voting for the right. I'm just riffing on the headline. Is that what O'Hehir says? He writes: "I see a bunch of people on both sides of the Atlantic desperately trying to pretend that democracy isn’t broken and may yet yield an acceptable and/or 'progressive' outcome." Ha! I think I'm right!

4. Unnamed writer at Fox News, "France election: Marine Le Pen sees Trump-like boost in support, but victory far from assured." What's the "boost" and why is it like Trump? Trump didn't get a terrorist attack on the eve of the election. What's Fox News blabbering about? This is the kind of incoherence you get when you want to use multiple ideas and don't have a way or don't take the trouble to weave it together. I suspect Fox News of being committed to throwing Trump into the story because they think it's too hard for American readers to care about France unless it's about us, and they say one thing and then another and don't think the readers will notice if the statements don't make sense together. Maybe they think it will be good because it's "Trump-like." Isn't that the way Trump does those speeches some people like so much?

5. Nikita Vladimirov at The Hill, "Ex-Obama aide [Ben] Rhodes: Le Pen victory in France would be 'devastating.'" Oh, this is one of those articles that just takes somebody's tweet pumps it into an article. The tweet is embedded and then the text quotes the tweet and there's a bit of filler to make it look as though it's something more than just the tweet. My take for that species of fake news is: MSM reports what's in social media.

6. JTA in Forward, "Should France’s Jews Leave If Le Pen Wins Elections?" The question is apropos of Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar's statement: "If Marine Le Pen is elected president of France, the Jews must leave." Lazar also said: "Putin was the first president to publicly speak out against anti-Semitism and did the most for the Jews in Russia. There is no institutional anti-Semitism in Russia."

April 22, 2017

Fuzzy, purple.


"What has happened over the last 10 years, Newton has got more affluent, more two-family houses, not as many people do their own lawn care, and more and more landscapers coming into neighborhoods."

"It’s not just one landscaper, once a week. It’s one comes, then it’s 20 minutes later another one."

Banning leaf-blowers in Newton, Massachusetts. It was hard — harder than raising taxes — but they did it.

I wish they'd do it here in Madison.

"I intend to return Berkeley to its rightful place as the home of free speech — whether university administrators and violent far-left antifa thugs like it or not."

"I will bring activists, writers, artists, politicians, YouTubers, veterans and drag queens from across the ideological spectrum to lecture, march and party."

Says Milo Yiannopoulos (and he won't say who's inviting him or backing him).

At the Daffodil Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And you can help support this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"So the guy in charge of 'Greek' life on campus is worried about cultural appropriation?"

My favorite comment on a WaPo column (by Catherine Rampell) titled "A fraternity was told it was ‘appropriating culture.’/Administrators won’t say which."

I think it's actually pretty clear what the appropriation was. The fraternity was doing a badminton-based fundraiser and it called it "Bad(minton) and Boujee." There's a rap song "Bad and Boujee" and "boujee" is a distinctive spelling of the shortened form of "bourgeois" that's used as an insult and more commonly spelled — if anybody tries to write it — "bougie." The spelling "boujee" is actually good because it's phonetic and it keeps people from pronouncing it "boogie," which actually is a racial slur!

Here's the OED entry for the noun "boogie":
U.S. slang. offensive.

A derogatory term for an African American.

1923 Confessions of Bank Burglar vii. 40 Three coons came into the barn..the three of them took a drink and then put the bottle in the hay... At noon the ‘boogies’ came in for another shot.
1925 Flynn's 1 Aug. 572/1 One of the cops..caught two boogies. We picked up the two hard-lookin' young negroes.
1925 Flynn's 1 Aug. 572/1 The boogie jus' got up and grinned.
1937 E. Hemingway To have & have Not iii. xiv. 205, I seen that big boogie there mopping it up.
Anyway, the spelling "boujee" is associated with black people, especially when used in connection with the rap song title. Here's the video of the song. Once you've watched that, you'll have to stoop to faux naivety to act like you don't know what the university was talking about. It's a separate question whether cultural appropriation is bad and whether it's something universities should patrol and how clearly they need to speak when they do.

Anyway, I'm just getting up to speed on the word "boujee," and I found a helpful blog post by Damon Young at Very Smart Brothas, "THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOUGIE, BOUJEE, AND BOURGIE/BOURGEOIS, EXPLAINED." Excerpt:
Bougie Black people are mostly urban, have completed some form of secondary education, and, most importantly, possess and are mindful of a certain urban/educated aesthetic. These are the people discussed and deconstructed in my Shit Bougie Black People Love series....

Anyway, Boujee describes the type of nouveau/hood rich that would totally, definitely cook up some dope with an Uzi.* They may have even made more money last year than their Bougie and Bourgie/Bourgeois counterparts, but the IRS would never, ever, ever know.


* That's a reference to the lyrics to the song "Bad and Boujee": "My bitch is bad and boujee/Cookin' up dope with an Uzi."

ADDED: The word pronounced boujee or bougie seems to have originated in speaking about black people. The first printed examples — according to the (unlinkable) OED — were spelled "bourgie" (showing the connection to the word "bourgeois" more clearly). The OED defines this word as "slang (chiefly U.S., orig. in African-American usage). Chiefly depreciative... A person, esp. an African-American, regarded as bourgeois or middle-class, or as exhibiting characteristics attributed to the middle class, such as conventionality, materialism, or pretentiousness." Example:
1968 Negro Digest Nov. 64/2 Instead of recognizing differences among members but valuing the common cause, individuals will begin to call some people ‘Uncle Toms’, ‘bourgeois’ or ‘bourgies’, conservatives, foot-shufflers, black Caucasians and a variety of other uncomplimentary names.
It was also an adjective, again, "Originally used chiefly of and by African Americans." Example:
1968 Ramparts 26 Oct. 29/1 Silly-ass Kenneth Freeman..said some bull crap about ‘Huey P. Newton come from a bourgie family.’

The problem with mocking McDonald's "soul-crushing uniforms for our modern dystopia."

AV Club is snarking about the new gray-on-gray outfits:
The new looks will be distributed to all 14,000 of its U.S. locations beginning this month, their total elimination of distracting colors facilitating the orderly consumption of beef discs and potato sticks by an estimated factor of 40 percent, under the watchful eye of Commander McCheese.

Still, lest you think their monochromatic drabness somehow runs counter to the notion of that all-important individuality, McDonald’s points out that its uniforms also include a denim apron that “may be worn full or as a half apron to fit restaurant employees’ personal style.” Personally, I don’t know that I would trust some insouciant, half-apron rebel to hand me a Serenity Meal. But leaving that up to the manager’s discretion is what makes McDonald’s the industry leader in acknowledging that free will has not yet been totally eradicated.
And I'm seeing this at Gizmodo (with photos):
To me, [the new uniforms] invoke a very Logan’s Run future. But mandatory gray-on-gray with a dash of black is pretty much universally recognized as the standard uniform for bleakest of futures... Or, if you prefer, maybe it’s a bit more Hunger Games... Or if you want something even more recent, how about Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale?
Here's my problem. They are not thinking from the perspective of the the people who work at McDonald's. They're talking about how they feel as customers who are used to seeing McDonald's workers in garish colors that scream I work at McDonald's. I think it's obvious from the company's press release that they are trying to be more respectful to the employees, who feel conspicuous or embarrassed when traveling to and from work and who want to blend in with other people who work at other kinds of jobs. The respect — expressed through restrained gray-on-gray uniforms — is not soul-crushing except in the mind of the people who are not wearing those uniforms.

AV Club surrounds quotes from the press release with efforts at humor that in fact reveal its I don't work at McDonald's snobbery:
“Individuality is important to McDonald’s restaurant employees,” McDonald’s says in a press release, charitably recognizing that many of its workers are separate entities from their stations, some even boasting identities and interests that go well beyond operating deep fryers. As such, the company partnered with designer Waraire Boswell to create these fun, flirty, uniquely gray-on-gray uniforms that can provide an “easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment,” where they may engage with their fellow civilians in more casual discussions of deep-frying techniques.
It's AV Club that is failing to see the humanity of the employees. The phrase "easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment" implies that the company knew that the garish orange uniforms made it difficult for employees as they commuted to and from work, perhaps picking up and dropping off their children or doing errands or wanting to do things with friends before getting home and changing into street clothes. The new uniforms are more like ordinary clothes and they make it possible for restaurant workers to blend in with other people. That only translates to "soul-crushing" to people who feel sure they won't have to work in a fast-food restaurant.

The new gray-on-gray uniforms are actually sensitive to the well-being of McDonald's employees.
pollcode.com free polls

Donald Trump Jr. shoots dogs — prairie dogs.

He's going to Montana to help Greg Gianforte with his campaign for the U.S. House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke (the new Secretary of the Interior). Gianforte is reveling in the the occasion:
"As good Montanans, we want to show good hospitality to people. What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?"
That's quoted at Yahoo News, where the headline says there's "backlash." Backlash at taking out plague-ridden vermin? Who is backlashing?
[P]rairie dogs are also listed as a species of concern by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks because their numbers have declined and because of threats like disease.
They carry disease. The disease is bubonic plague! Isn't this a concern that supports culling them?
More than 100 other animals depend on the prairie dog as food or move into the burrows they dig, said Lindsey Sterling Krank, the organization's director for its Prairie Dog Coalition. Now is the time year when prairie dogs are still nursing their new offspring, meaning hunters who shoot lactating females are condemning the pups to starvation, Sterling Krank said.

"I would love to take Donald Trump Jr. out with a spotting scope and shoot the prairie dog with our cameras," Sterling Krank said. "Shooting a prairie dog colony is not a good conservation message."

Gianforte, whose campaign has focused on gun rights, dismissed the organization's concerns. "Clearly they've never shot a prairie dog," he said. "They don't know how much fun it is."
The lines are drawn. Montanans will vote and get the Congressperson they want. I'll just say I love the name Lindsey Sterling Krank. Oh! I see I've said that before...
... the director of the Prairie Dog Coalition, an "environmental scientist," with the sublimely perfect name Lindsey Sterling Krank....
That was back in 2015, in the context of Boulder, Colorado's Naropa University, which had a big prairie dog colony on land where it wanted to put up some new buildings.
"All of sudden it was, 'The Buddhists want to kill the prairie dogs,' but we had no intention of killing them," said [Naropa spokesman Bill] Rigler, who isn't a Buddhist. "The very act of applying for a [lethal control] permit triggers an open comment period, which gives everyone the opportunity to say, 'I have a site for relocation,' or put forward other ideas."
I wonder how that dispute worked out? Did the Buddhists give in to the dogs?

"Animals have no place in art."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote to the artist who sat — for 23 days in a Paris art museum — on a nest of chicken eggs until they hatched.
"There is nothing to celebrate in the birth of this chick born alone in a museum," the organisation said in an open letter to the artist. Considered merely as a part of an 'artistic' performance, it will never meet its mother. ...."
What do you think of PETA's criticism of the "human hen" artist?
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"Here’s the deal breaker with the Republican Party. And the deal breaker is, 'You mess with my community... you don’t give us equality and a fair shot, I’m coming after you.'”

Said Caitlyn Jenner.

When dead columnists tell state governors which prisoners Jesus would pardon and a governor follows the prodding from beyond the grave...

Is there outrage at a flyover state's governor's embarrassing delusion, inability to maintain the separation of church and state, and outrageous approach to doling out special treatment to prisoners?

No! Because it's not a flyover state. It's New York. It's Governor Andrew Cuomo. And the prisoner was part of a famous incident in the history of American radicalism.

I'm reading — in the NYT — "Judith Clark, Getaway Driver in Deadly Brink’s Heist, Is Denied Parole/The decision came despite a commutation by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Ms. Clark, 67, who was convicted in a 1981 crime in which a guard and two police officers died."

Here are paragraphs 2 and 4:
Speaking at the funeral of the former Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin in March, he went further.

“It was a hard political decision,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I could hear Jimmy’s voice saying, ‘She made a mistake — we all do. She learned, she paid the price, she spent her life in a cage, and she is now different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus?’”
Cuomo had the power to order her immediate release, but chose a lesser exercise of power, which only made her eligible for parole and left it to the parole board to decide whether she'd get out.

Was Jimmy that specific about how Jesus would handle the case? Was Jesus?

The linked article includes a recent snapshot — supplied by Clark's daughter — of Clark posing — I'm not kidding — with 2 Labrador Retrievers.

From the article's description of the murders:
[In a 2012 interview, Clark] said that as a new mother, she was nervous about the plot, but she agreed to be the getaway driver, fully aware of what she was doing. As she sat in a car in a parking lot of a mall in Nanuet, her associates approached the Brink’s van. Gunfire erupted. One guard was killed; another was left in a pool of blood.
"Gunfire erupted" is a classic hiding of human agency. And then one guard "was killed" and another guard "was left." The dead guard was Peter Paige.

Later, the fleeing group encounters a roadblock and kills 2 police officers, Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.
At the time of her trial, Ms. Clark was still inflamed by her beliefs, and she represented herself. She expressed no remorse, telling the jury that revolutionary violence was a “liberating force.”
The daughter — the one who supplied the photo with the dogs and who was the baby who made her mother nervous about joining the "liberating force" — is quoted saying "My mother did not kill anyone, and it’s hard for me to understand who is served by making her die in prison, which is what decisions like this eventually amount to."

April 21, 2017

"Ann Coulter rejected an offer to speak at the University of California at Berkeley on a new date..."

"... after the university canceled her event because of safety concerns, then quickly reversed itself, saying it would reschedule her speech," WaPo reports.
In a series of tweets Thursday night, Coulter criticized the university, saying Berkeley officials were adding “burdensome” conditions to her speech. She said she had already spent money to hold the event on April 27 and was not available to appear May 2. She also pointed out that the later date would coincide with a reading period before final exams, when there are no classes on campus and fewer students are around. Instead, she vowed to speak in Berkeley on April 27 whether the university approves or not.
Berkeley is making a fool of itself. I laughed out loud when I heard the spokesperson on TV:
University spokesman Dan Mogulof responded to the lawsuit threat, saying, “We are confident that we are on very solid legal grounds.... We are concerned about her disregard for the assessment and recommendations of law enforcement professionals whose primary focus is the safety and well-being of our students and other members of our campus community"... 
Pathetic. At best, "confident that we are on very solid legal grounds" is a bald-faced lie.