November 23, 2017

"Lazy Meade bastard’s turkey."

That's video by Meade and title by Meade (based on the comment by Yancey Ward, here, "That Meade is a lazy bastard").

"She was 17 when I met her, and... we've been married now almost 42 years."

Let's think about Franni Bryson. Here's Al Franken, last June, talking about the love of his life:

What made you think you could be an actor?

"The search for the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan reached a 'critical' point on Wednesday amid fears the 44 crew members..."

"... could be on their last day of oxygen, as the country’s navy said they had found “no trace” of the missing vessel.
“We are continuing with this phase of search and rescue. We are in the critical part, it has reached the seventh day in terms of oxygen, supposing that for seven days it has not had the capacity to go the surface and renew the oxygen. But we are not dismissing the other options, that it could be on the surface.”

More than 4,000 personnel from 12 countries are now scouring the South Atlantic search zone, braving stormy conditions with high winds and waves up to seven metres high....

The British contingent has drawn insults from far-Left figures in the country where the dispute over the Falklands remains contentious. Leaders of the Workers’ Party and of radical Left wing group Quebracho branded British forces “pirates” and occupiers on Twitter, but were widely condemned by Argentine users.

"Malia Obama's Harvard boyfriend revealed to be British student Rory Farquharson who was head boy at Rugby School."

That's very nice. Good luck to the lovely couple.

ADDED: Jeez, how do you pronounce that name? It's pronounced just how it's spelled, Farquharson.

"I changed my mind. I decided not to roast a turkey after all. Here. Here's your turkey."

Said Meade, tossing this on my toast plate:


ADDED: And if you're thankful for the Althouse blog and want to support it, you can buy Epic Turkey bars at through this link — click the arrow to see all 11 flavors — or anything else at Amazon through The Althouse Portal. The frugal Meadhousehold is thankful for your kind support, on special days and normal days.

"Isn't Thanksgiving more deserving of a naysayer? I mean, really, we eat dinner every day."

"Is it that for Thanksgiving--as opposed to Christmas--you are only asked to give thanks, not presents? To give thanks and eat dinner. But you must give thanks and eat dinner in a way that outdoes the thanks-giving and dinner-eating of other days. I do think there should be a Scrooge/Grinch analog. The Thankswithholder. The Ingrate."

That's what I said on this blog's first Thanksgiving, which I'm reading this morning as I scan old posts under the "Thanksgiving" tag, looking for something to say about Thanksgiving. I want to acknowledge the special day, but I prefer normal days. As I said in 2014, on the topic of refraining from doing Thanksgiving (because your family members have other plans, which had been portrayed in the NYT as a virtuous letting-go):
I love when doing nothing — especially when it avoids a lot of effort — amounts to the higher path. Virtue in not acting. That applies to a lot more than Thanksgiving. As for Thanksgiving, I always appreciated it when my sons' father wanted them over. Thanksgiving is the last weekend of the semester, and there follows a lovely, long winter break. Thanksgiving is precisely the weekend when I am not looking for more of a workload. So I was glad to step back and let the ex-husband have the boys over. If I got extra points — kindness credit — for letting go, that was nice, but I was always openly grateful for the relief. I was glad to do nothing. It's Thanksgiving, and as they say — and I truly mean it: Thanks for nothing!
The second Thanksgiving on this blog introduced a character, the Thanksgiving squirrel: "Find some critter to eat." He was back the following year — "Oh, my! There he is! It's the Thanksgiving Squirrel! Keep safe everyone. Boil your meat well" — but then I forgot about him... until just now. Ah! Just think of all the things we've forgotten. No, you can't. You've forgotten. Unless you've got notes somewhere, like the archive of a 13-year-old blog, replete with tags. But if you're like me and you love the negative space of life and you see the joyful meaning of "Thanks for nothing!," then you can be thankful for all the things you've forgotten.

ADDED: In the stories with a Christmas naysayer, the narrative arc is toward yea-saying. The Scrooge/Grinch of Thanksgiving would find the true (i.e., conventional) meaning of Thanksgiving, in its most essential form.

So he'd begin with remarks like mine: It's just dinner. We have dinner every day.

And in the end, it would be...

He HADN'T stopped Thanksgiving from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Gurkey, with his gurkey-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came with out stuffing! It came without pie!"
"It came without cranberries, and I don't know why!"
And he puzzled 3 hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Gurkey thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Thanksgiving," he thought, "is not about food."
"Maybe Thanksgiving... is more of a mood!"

November 22, 2017

At the Buttoned-Up Café...


... you don't have to relax.

Talk about whatever you want in the comments, and please consider supporting this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal

"Not only did people look the other way, but they went after the women who came forward and accused him."

"And so it doubled down on not only bad behavior but abusive behavior. And then people attacked the victims."

Says Kathleen Sebelius, the former secretary of Health and Human Services and Kansas governor, talking with David Axelrod on his show "The Axe Files."
Sebelius extended her criticism to Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton White House for what she called a strategy of dismissing and besmirching the women who stepped forward—a pattern she said is being repeated today by alleged perpetrators of sexual assault—saying that the criticism of the former first lady and Secretary of State was "absolutely" fair. Sebelius noted that the Clinton Administration's response was being imitated, adding that "you can watch that same pattern repeat, It needs to end. It needs to be over."
It's still too little, too late. Too easy to say this now when it's convenient. Nevertheless, good to hear.

"An international survey has revealed that spirits are often associated with feelings of energy, confidence and sexiness..."

"... but on the flip-side anger and tearfulness – while red wine is the drink most commonly linked to relaxation, but also tiredness."

"Mature women"?

Apparently not!
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down."

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

"The department head... said there might have been alternative explanations for the professor’s behavior including 'maybe he just needs his eyeglasses adjusted'..."

"... (to explain the breast staring), 'he might be on the autism spectrum,' 'he might just be socially awkward like Albert Einstein was' and 'do you think maybe you’re more sensitive than other people?'"

From "UW-Madison dean acknowledges school's failure to address sexual harassment" at the Wisconsin State Journal.

For reference, here's Larry David getting out of a social gaffe (racial, not sexual) by lying about having Asperger's syndrome:

But it should be noted that some people with Asperger's Syndrome have been speculating for years that Larry David is on the spectrum and that Jerry Seinfeld has diagnosed himself as "on the spectrum":

Maybe all that great "observational" comedy has to do with the autistic tendency to focus on exactly what isn't the focus for the nonautistic.

In that clip, Jerry talks about comedians being the only people that he feels "completely relaxed" around. Maybe that suggests some insight into what's wrong with Louis C.K....

Meanwhile, on the tech front: "'I see things differently': James Damore on his autism and the Google memo/ He was fired from Google for arguing that men may be more suited to working in tech than women. Now James Damore opens up about his regrets – and how autism may have shaped his experience of the world."

Where are you on the spectrum from "This excuse is bullshit" to "We must empathize with and accommodate the differently abled"?

"Brolliology" — the book about umbrellas.

Reviewed here, in The Washington Post:
A typical chapter skims the metaphysical and the dialectical, with the umbrella described variously as creating a “portable room,” as a “private sky” and “a hat with a handle.” Its combination of replaceability and contingency even “reads like a textbook symptom of late capitalism.” An early-19th-century article by J.S. Duncan classified umbrella wielders into familiar types such as the Sky-Striker and the Shield-Bearer, both of which species remain alas all too common to this day. And Rankine does not neglect such memorably sinister instances as the mysterious Umbrella Man present at Kennedy’s assassination and the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov by way of a poisoned ferrule.
Here, you can buy it at Amazon. It would make a nice Christmas present especially alongside a stylish umbrella.

I'm making an "umbrella" tag now (and adding it retrospectively). It's a tag I've considered making before, so I'm reaching a tipping point. Absurdly, every time I've checked to see if I have an "umbrella" tag, I see that I have a tag "Obama's umbrella." (Weirdly, that tag has 5 posts. 6 now.)

Now, I'm tempted to by "Brolliology" just to see if the author discussed Obama's umbrella. No, I don't need to. There's a search-inside-the-book function at Amazon, and Obama does not make an appearance in "Brolliology," but that doesn't mean it's not a good book. Quite the contrary! I'm browsing around in it and like it a lot. Plenty of amusing illustrations. And it has what I love: miscellaneousness.

There. I bought it.

"The forces of chaos and public disorder disrupted another democratic institution Monday night in Madison..."

"... our elected Dane County Board of Supervisors, under the banner of “Derail the Jail.” Yes, these nut cases want NO JAIL at all! (We’ve written extensively about them.) Who do they represent? Maybe the sociology department at UW-Madison and the John Nichols chapter of the Socialist Workers Party. No one else. Because even Madison alders voted for more police just last week. No, even the smaller and more humane jail proposed for Dane County — really, a mental health hospital with bars — is too much for the anarchists."

Writes David Blaska, passing along this video of the disruption (which includes chants familiar from the 2011 Wisconsin protests, such as "This is what democracy looks like" (apparently, what democracy looks like is chaos)):

I am trying so hard to resist clicking on any click bait articles like "This Is What It's Like to Be the Only Trump Fan at Thanksgiving Dinner."

How about you?

Are you reading the politics-at-Thanksgiving articles? free polls

Phrases from the past: "Crotchgate" and "pro-sex feminism."

After writing that post about Gayle King adjusting her position relative to Charlie Rose, I created a 2 new tags: "Era of That's Not Funny" and "Trump's Access Hollywood remarks." Both tags can be applied retrospectively to the archive, but the second one is going to take a long time, and I'll get to that eventually. The first one is a more recent concept, and I'm only applying it retrospectively to posts where I've used that exact phrase, and that task is done. But in searching for the phrase, which I failed to put in quote marks, I turned up a few random things, including, from December 2006, "Camille Paglia on... it's not my word.... 'crotchgate.'"

What was "crotchgate"?! I see that there's something right now that's got a #crotchgate and Donald Trump has even weighed in:

Oh, I see. A college football player grabbed his own crotch (in a taunting gesture):

But what was "Crotchgate" in 2006? It was something I only blogged about because Camille Paglia took it on: Some female targets of paparazzi — Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan — were flashing their pantsless crotches. Paglia said:
"These girls are lowering themselves to the level of backstreet floozies. It angers me because I fought a bitter fight to get feminism back on track and be pro-sex at the same time. This is degrading the entire pro-sex wing of feminism.... [T]hey are cheapening their own image and obliterating all sexual mystery and glamour, which are the heart of the star system... These are women who are clearly out of control because the old studio era is over. The studio system... guided and shaped the careers of the young women who it signed up. It maximized their sexual allure by dealing it out in small doses and making sure you don’t have -- what has become here -- a situation of anarchy."
So the women are bringing the anarchy of too much uncontrolled sex?! That's not how it looks today, after the Weinstein revelations. But, of course, Weinstein and the men like him were active back in 2006, exercising control, trying to wrest "small doses" of "sexual allure" out the actresses for their own gratification. But, as Paglia put it then, the "girls" were "lowering themselves." And Paglia expressed anger, because it interfered with her "wing" of feminism: "pro-sex feminism."

Is anyone talking about "pro-sex feminism" — or "sex-positive feminism" — these days? Searching for both terms in the news of the last month, I find only a reference to Taylor Swift song lyrics and a description of a 1986 movie character (who's being brought back for a new TV show).

No one seems to be jumping at the opportunity to reconcile "pro-sex feminism"/"sex-positive feminism" with the new, staunch, zero-tolerance approach to sexual abuse. I'm sure many of those who write about feminism today are too young to remember the feminism of the 1980s, so they're unlikely to see that the things that are happening now resemble what sex-positive feminism fought against. And won. For a while.

But nobody wants to talk about sex-positive feminism now, and no female pop stars are seeking attention by giving paparazzi an unobstructed view of naked crotch.

ADDED: By today's standards, the flashing of naked crotch is considered sexual abuse. If a man were to do it, he'd be professionally and socially dead. 

AND: I've done the retrospective adding of the tag "Trump's 'Access Hollywood' remarks." 49 posts so far, including this one. I might do a project of analyzing my personal reactions over time. I'm told I really changed over time, and obviously the context has changed.

"CBS This Morning" may have fired Charlie Rose, but it used to revel in his sexual creepiness.

It's been a running joke on John Oliver's show for years:

Charlie Rose's "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King just happened to be a guest on Stephen Colbert's show last night. We're told she was already scheduled and, when the Rose story broke, she considered canceling, but Colbert's show is on CBS, and I assume I'm looking at CBS trying to extricate itself from the Charlie Rose story. And Gayle King isn't just committed to CBS, she's got her own reputation to keep clean. Watch the mind-numbing performance of Gayle King who plays dumb and cloyingly emotional:

1. In Colbert's introduction of King, he says she "delivers the hard news as co-anchor of 'CBS This Morning' and delivers the good news as the editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine." Was "hard news" an intentional reference to Charlie Rose, whose penis is in the news? If innuendo was not intended, I believe it would have been noticed after it was written and edited out, so I say it was intended. Deniable, of course. Everything's deniable, like King's I-knew-nothing! routine.

2. Less than half-way through this clip, I was pausing and researching signs of lying. King is looking down and to her right (as if she had notes down there she needed to read) and scratching her cheek (at 2:02 (I've seen myself on video many times touching my cheek when I know I'm saying something that's has an element of deceit)). And look at her fist at 2:55.

3. "This is very difficult for me" — King's tactic is to make this a story of her emotional journey. Colbert plays a supporting role, with softball questions like: "Are you angry?" To which King answers: "I am a variety of emotions. There's certain some anger. There's some sadness. There's compassion. There's concern." It's so complex! "You can hold a variety of emotions around one particular incident."

4. At 3:52, she repositions and goes back to "what these women are going through." But what I want to know is what she knew and might have done to help "these women" before the news story broke and had an impact on her career. We have to start listening to women. King has been a professional in woman-oriented media for a long time. She didn't just recently get a clue about these issues. But the Colbert audience gives her a massive cheer (as she interlaces her fingers and works her hands back and forth).

5. Women will continue to speak up, King tells us in an impassioned tone, because "they're now being believed." She has to say "they," though she's a woman, because if she said "we," it would seem as though she had a story to tell.

6. King says that men need to "join the conversation." How? Men have to condemn sexual harassment and not make fine distinctions. They have to say that "it's all bad." So... not really a conversation. "All of it is really unacceptable." There's nothing to debate. Oh, but then she says, "By the same token, I want to be able to joke and laugh with friends without thinking I'm going to be called into human resources. But we all know the difference. What that is. We do." We do? Is it that talking is different and you can joke? But look at the most famous joke on the subject: "And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy, you can do anything." That has plainly been dumped into the all-of-it-is-really-unacceptable category. (No wonder Siri is telling me, "Ann, I don't really know any good jokes. None, in fact." It is the Era of That's Not Funny.") [AND: As Ignorance is Bliss asks in the comments: "So who put a pubic hair on my Coke?"]

And here's Gayle King talking about the Rose story with Norah O'Donnell on their show, "CBS This Morning" yesterday:

That's very stiff and stilted. The 2 women are scripted to say what's been decided as the correct way to save their show. It goes on and on, and I'm saying that after stopping the clip at 2:12. There's no way, no matter how much longer they talk — the clip goes on for another minute — they are not going to get to the topic I want to hear discussed: What did you know? If you didn't know, why didn't you know? What good are you in your women-helping-women role on morning TV if you didn't recognize the monster who sat next to you for 5 years?

November 21, 2017

At the No-Jokes Café...

... you'll have to think of your own jokes.

If any shopping is part of your fun, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows and that is kind of healthy."

"It’s painful, but I think pain is a precursor to change."

Mel Gibson weighs in.

"All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives."

First-class bullshit from Charlie Rose.

Seeking the "purity" of "younger women."

Talking Points Memo quotes what Pastor Flip Benham said on the radio last night:
"Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school. All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies. By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, is a younger woman. He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”
Audio at the link. The discussion continues, with Benham, under questioning from the show hosts, saying that it is acceptable for a man to "court" a 14-year-old girl if he has her parent's permission.

I'm interested in the appeal to the value of "purity," because I've been reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion," which posits 5 foundations of moral reasoning, one of which is sanctity/degradation. Haidt has studied how conservatives and liberals do moral reasoning, and liberals stick to only 2 of the 5 foundations — care/harm and fairness/cheating — which is why they have a terrible time understanding (and appealing to) conservatives, who use all 5. (The other 2 are loyalty/betrayal and authority/subversion.)
The Sanctity/degradation foundation evolved initially in response to the adaptive challenge of the omnivore’s dilemma, and then to the broader challenge of living in a world of pathogens and parasites. It includes the behavioral immune system, which can make us wary of a diverse array of symbolic objects and threats. It makes it possible for people to invest objects with irrational and extreme values—both positive and negative—which are important for binding groups together.
Of course, to the liberal mind, the idea that there's "something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight" just sounds horribly sexist. And I find it hard to believe that liberals don't think about purity too. They just aim their thoughts at the impurity of the older man — the creep — who's going after young girls. His interest in their purity is impure. 

Trump carries out the annual nonsense, pardoning turkeys.

I love when Trump asks if he can touch the bird and then, petting it, says "I feel so good about myself doing this." That almost gets a smile from Barron.

"Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo moment if Donald Trump had not been elected, even after being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape."

"But in recent weeks several of Trump’s accusers have said that while they’re happy sexual harassment is being discussed more openly, they’re still dismayed that their own stories seem to have had little impact. Some have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more ready to listen to their accounts. A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, one of the accusers, has also opened up the possibility that they’ll get their day in court. But for now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed last month that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning alleged sexual harassers (if they’re Democrats)."

From "What Happened to the 16 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct," by Margaret Hartmann in New York Magazine. Hartman lists the 16 women, their allegations, and what's happened since the allegations were made, but does not examine why — as so many others take massive hits and lose their jobs — Trump remains relatively unscathed. So let's talk about that. Let me get the conversation started with a few ideas. I'm not endorsing any of these theories, just putting them on a list of things you might want to consider:

1. The election worked as absolution. We factored in the allegations — giving them whatever weight we thought right — and they haven't really changed since the election, so the election is like a final judgment in a court case. As a political matter, we move on and get on with our life.

2. Since Trump is the President, we need him to carry out his duties. We especially want to put these accusations in the past, because we see the dangers of complicating his life. He's been chosen to shoulder the difficult tasks of the presidency, so leave him alone. Let him move forward.

3. Those who want to complicate his life probably didn't vote for him and would be happy to take him down now. Every time there's another Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose, they want to talk about Trump the sexual harasser again, but to those who've supported Trump or who want to respect the results of the election and not add to the difficulty of Trump's presidential tasks, they seem to be relitigating the election.

4. Many of the new targets of allegations are people who had seemed to be male allies of the women's movement, and it's the lying and the hypocrisy that bothers us the most. The accusations against Trump seem only to reinforce what we already saw on the surface of Trump: brash exuberance, wanting plenty of good things for himself, excitement over beautiful women, impoliteness. The new allegations don't take us back to the Trump allegations because Trump wasn't accepted as an ally of feminism. He seems to represent the old school, male chauvinism. That's a different category and not what we're paying attention to right now.

Mugabe gone at last.

"Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him, according to the speaker of Parliament," the NYT reports.

"Only morons pay the estate tax" is a reason (if it's true) to get rid of the estate tax.

It may sound rude, but it's memorable, and it makes a point. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, said it and also resaid it more politely: The estate tax is only paid by “rich people with really bad tax planning.”

The NYT has an editorial about it, in which it uses the word "loopholes" to refer to the provisions of the tax code that allow for the avoidance of the estate tax, and "windfall" for what Cohn's "morons" would get if the estate tax were repealed.

I'm tempted to ask Why doesn't the NYT care about morons? Shouldn't the law protect those who lack the intelligence to take steps to protect themselves? But I guess the NYT would say that the rich who are doing intelligent tax planning are bad people, and the rich who are exposing themselves to the estate tax are good people. No need to give a "windfall" to the good rich people who decline to use the tax avoidance provisions (the "loopholes"). Let's just give them a pat on the head and move on to denouncing the bad rich, the ones who aren't paying their fair share.

On the other side of the argument are Republicans who call the estate tax the "death tax" and stress that it hurts small businesses and farmers — including businesses owned by women and minorities.

The NYT says this characterization of who pays is wrong. It says (and see if you find this as hard to follow as I did):
So who actually does pay estate tax?... A few dozen farmers, and even fewer minority business owners. About 80 family farmers or small-business people would be subject to the estate tax this year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center — a far cry from the “millions” Mr. Trump wrongly claims. The biggest winners in an estate tax repeal wouldn’t be struggling ranchers, minority contractors or mom-and-pop grocers. They’d be people like Mr. Trump’s kids, unless they’re …

Morons. “Only morons pay the estate tax,” Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, told Senate Democrats, meaning, it was later explained, “rich people with really bad tax planning.” Many of the very wealthy use loopholes, like trusts, to avoid paying inheritance tax. We don’t know where Mr. Trump’s kids would stand because Mr. Trump has never fulfilled his promise to publicly release his tax information.
First, how would "people like Mr. Trump's kids" be the "biggest winners in an estate tax repeal... unless they're morons"? Shouldn't it be the biggest winners will be people like Mr. Trump's kids only if they're morons? If they're not morons, they're already using the "loopholes." They have good tax planning. They don't need the repeal. The repeal is only needed by those who are too moronic to get tax planning. (Actually, it's not the heirs who do the tax planning. The question isn't whether Trump's kids are morons, but whether Trump is a moron.)

I guess that's just an editing screwup, where it seemed cute to connect those 2 paragraphs. The idea is: Don't think of anybody sympathetic. Exclude all the farmers and mom-and-pop people. Visualize those Trump kids. That's who you should think of the repeal as helping. Now, let's think about morons. The Trump kids, like a lot of rich kids, are probably protected by tax planning, but some of them are morons (or, really, have parents who are morons). Do you care? Trump-kid types sometimes get less money because of a moronic failure to do tax planning: Who wants to help them?! We're currently raking in revenue from these unsympathetic nitwits. Why is that a problem to be fixed? That's the argument that, I think, was intended.

Finally, let's look at the radical discrepancy between Trump's "millions" and the number 80 that the NYT used. The Times is referring (I'll assume correctly) to the number who become subject to the estate tax in a given year. Trump said he wanted "[t]o protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer." His set of persons is everyone who might ever be subject to the tax, dying over a period of many years, and including people who might not, in the end, have enough to be subject to the tax but just have to worry and make decisions under the influence of the tax and those who are under pressure to use the services of tax professionals because they've heard that to fail to do so is to be a moron. 

"Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not 'succumb to [his] sexual advances.'"

Buzzfeed reports on what looks like an egregious case of sexual harassment and on the way Congress hides its sexual harassment problems (and thereby facilitates them going forward).

Buzzfeed has acquired what it says are the documents showing the settlement and the ludicrously biased procedure: "a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her."
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution....

Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.
The procedure also requires the complainant to continue working during 90 days of this counseling and mediation, so not only are you forbidden to talk to anyone about your troubles, but you have to keep working under the conditions you're saying are abusive.

This woman ended up with a settlement of just a little over $27,000, and she also lost her job and had to keep silence. I guess the power differential and the fear were so great that $27,000 was a good amount of money to her. I mean, look what she says he did:
On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands. She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.
There was also evidence of a pattern of behavior, with affidavits from 3 other staff members. One can only wonder what other evidence was not seen because of past settlements with obligations to keep silent — not seen by the complainant. Conyers knows what's in his own history, and that's another element of the power differential. He knows how much he's got to hide. She's just a young person who needs to get a footing in her career and probably worries that her word against his won't be believed, which is probably part of why she was selected for the special workplace treatment that is sexual harassment.
One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)

"Welcome to the club. This is our pervy handshake."


IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd said "The handshake was awkward because Louis CK doesn't like it when another man touches his woman."

November 20, 2017

At the Fair Trade Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And please think of doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. It's much appreciated!)

"The New York Times said on Monday that it was suspending Glenn Thrush, one of its most prominent reporters..."

"... after he was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior," the NYT reports.
The move came after the website Vox published a report containing allegations from four female journalists that Mr. Thrush, who was hired by The Times in January to cover the Trump administration, had acted inappropriately toward them. Mr. Thrush was a star reporter at Politico before joining The Times....

The women cited in the Vox article described Mr. Thrush’s behavior as including unwanted kissing and touching. Three of the women were not identified by name. The fourth, Laura McGann, wrote the article, which was presented in the first person.....
ADDED: Excerpt from the Vox piece (by Laura McGann):
I started to think maybe I shouldn’t be in journalism if I couldn’t hang in a tough newsroom. I found myself on edge, nervous and anxious all the time. I started to believe I had brought this all on myself.

In the course of reporting this story, I was told by a male reporter who’d worked at Politico at the time that my instinct was right. He said that the day after that night at the bar, Thrush told him about the incident, except with the roles reversed. I had come onto him, the reporter said Thrush told him, and he had gently shut it down....

The source said that Thrush frequently told versions of this story with different young women as the subject. He would talk up a night out drinking with a young attractive woman, usually a journalist. Then he’d claim that she came onto him. In his version of these stories, Thrush was the responsible grown-up who made sure nothing happened....

"Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping and lewd calls."

WaPo reports on the inner workings of Charlie Rose Inc., where if you didn't like the boss's behavior, your only recourse was the executive producer Yvette Vega:
Multiple women said they had at first been reassured by the presence of Vega, Rose’s executive producer, who has worked with him for decades. Two women who spoke to The Post said they repeatedly reported Rose’s inappropriate sexual behavior to Vega.
“I explained how he inappropriately spoke to me during those times,” Godfrey-Ryan said. “She would just shrug and just say, ‘That’s just Charlie being Charlie.’"...

“I should have stood up for them,” said Vega, 52, who has worked with Rose since the show was created in 1991. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”...
It's a very long article, and I won't undertake to describe Rose's alleged modus operandi, using his small (15-person) operation to bring vulnerable women into his orbit and to isolate them in his remote beach house where Rose (we're told) used the mating technique of walking around naked.

PBS and Bloomberg LP have distanced themselves from Charlie Rose Inc., which is a separate entity. They tell the Post they knew nothing, nothing. And they've suspended distribution of the show.

The most up-voted comment at WaPo is: "Is Trump the only man in the world that is not being held accountable?"

A liberal icon crashes to the ground and what can a liberal do but scream at the sky — Trump!!?

Trump, hitting back at Jeff Flake, calls him "Flake(y)."

Here's the tweet, which is funny for a few reasons:
Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is “toast.”
The funniest thing about it to me is Trump calling himself "your favorite President." It's absolutely accurate, because he is our only President. I mean, you might try to write a screwball comedy — in the manner of "My Favorite Wife" — where some strange occurrence causes there to be 2 Presidents, but even if you think Hillary was cheated out of the presidency, there's no way she is the President. And if you try to say, but my favorite President is Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, I'm going to say it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

There's also some rock solid content. Flake has decided not to expose himself to an actual election process in Arizona, where a GOP incumbent should be able to win, and instead — with no judgment of the electorate to worry about — he's just speaking out against Trump. Flake's speaking has struck me as vain and attention-seeking, and the love he's getting from liberals would never translate into support in an actual political contest.

The "(purposely)" is funny, because who doesn't believe that Flake meant for his remark to be heard? Making it seem secret was a way to amplify it. That was my opinion and my favorite President agreed. Good. I also like that he used the "mike" spelling and not "mic." (Maybe Laurence Tribe will apply his massive brain to the question whether "mike" is a "distinctly Jewish" spelling.)

"Toast" is funny because "toast" popped up in Flake's open mike remark "If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast." So Trump is just flipping the insult back. Reminds me of "Puppet? No Puppet. You’re the Puppet" at that debate with Hillary:

It is childish, but Trump doesn't have time for longer statements.

And on a deeper, emotional level, "toast" is a warm, delicious word. Toast! We're toast! I love toast! Mmmm, toast! A toast to toast!

But what I really came here to opine about is the name-calling: Flake(y). Should a President be sticking names on everyone? I don't know but Trump doesn't do it to everyone. Only to those who hit him with a low blow. It is undignified, and I prefer the idea of going high when they go low, but that's not Trump. That's not what our favorite President does. (That's the name he's gotten me to start using for him. It's sticky.)

So let's move on to the question whether Flake(y) is a good name for Jeff Flake. "Flake" was already a funny name — already connoting flakiness — and Flake has lived and achieved with it. How can you make it more of an insult by adding "y"? Is it worse to be "flaky" than to be a "flake"? I think it's worse to be a flake, since it suggests it's the entirety of what you are as opposed to merely one of your attributes. (Reading the definition of "flaky/flakey" in the OED, I see that President Reagan called Qaddafi "flaky.")

But when I think about "Flakey," my first association is Flakey Foont!
Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you not up on Mr. Natural comics?
Mr. Natural has strange, magical powers and possesses cosmic insight; but he is also moody, cynical, self-pitying, and suffers from various strange sexual obsessions. He is endlessly being accosted by would-be disciples seeking the truth (among them such long-running Crumb characters as Flakey Foont and Shuman the Human). He typically regards them with amused condescension and a certain grudging affection, although his patience often wears thin and he takes sadistic pleasure in making them feel like idiots. While he is typically very cool and in control, he sometimes ends up in humiliating predicaments like languishing for years in a mental institution.
The really weird thing is thinking of Trump as Mr. Natural!

Let's talk about Trump's shoplifting-in-China tweets.

You've probably seen these already:

I have 3 responses, in this order:

1. The President should execute the duties of his office to the best of his abilities and not pick and choose depending on who's expressing gratitude.

2. These are statements made about what he did and how he thinks about it, and they might be honest and straightforward. But they might be twists of the truth or comedy, in which case we need to ask whether a President should be speaking like this, fooling around with the idea of treating the duties of his office as the distribution of favors and singling out individuals as undeserving of the benefits he has the power to provide.

3. We can try to understand the value of the President's tweet talk (even if we disapprove of it). At this level the question is why would he think there was some political advantage in saying these things? Here, we might say that he's baiting his antagonists to reinforce what LaVar Ball said and claim that shoplifting isn't a big deal. Trump might see value in that as it promotes his reputation for law and order and makes the other side feel like the forces of chaos. Also, Trump says nothing about race but creates an opportunity for his antagonists to racialize the controvery, which might benefit him.

Your turn.

ADDED: Remember Michael P. Fay, the American who was sentenced to 4 lashes on his bare buttocks after he pleaded guilty to vandalism in Singapore? (Fay had spray painted some cars.)  Who was President then and why wasn't he spared the painful, humiliating corporal punishment?
In Washington, President Clinton expressed disappointment with Singapore's decision, saying, "I think it was a mistake, as I said before, not only because of the nature of the punishment related to the crime but because of the questions that were raised about whether the young man was in fact guilty and involuntarily confessed."
To be fair, Singapore reduced the number of lashes from 6 to 4 as "a gesture of good will" to the American President. 

Thanks for the legal advice, CNN.

"Minnesota statutes state that 'intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks' is not considered criminal sexual conduct."

Extracted from "Woman says Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010." ("According to [Lindsay] Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father's small business was sponsoring a local radio booth... When Franken walked in... her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken 'pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,' Menz said. 'It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek. It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt... I was like, oh my God, what's happening.'")

Oregon leads the way in the protection of minors from sexual abuse: Teachers who think a student may be having sex must report it to the police.

WaPo reports.
According to Oregon law, anyone under 18 years old cannot legally give consent, meaning all sexual activity between minors is considered sexual abuse. This policy, [Salem-Keizer school] district officials say, stems from Oregon’s mandatory reporting and child abuse laws....

The subject came up at a training session for teachers and staff in the school district because “we felt like we hadn’t made it clear enough,” as Superintendent Christy Perry told the Statesman Journal....

Some pointed out that this leaves high school students without anyone to speak with about sex.

“You can’t have a conversation about safe sex without talking about sex,” Deborah Carnaghi, a program coordinator for Child Protective Services in Oregon’s Department of Human Services, told the Statesman Journal. Others pointed out that sexual activity among high school students is common....
Then abuse is common (abuse as defined in the state's criminal law). And why are you instructing students on how to be safe during abuse? Time to get back to abstinence only as the safe-sex training?

Here's a  quote from an 11th-grade girl: “I lose the ability to have a private conversation with a trusted adult who works for the district, about something personal to me. Talking about sexual activity between teachers and students should be confidential.” Ambiguity alert.

The people of Oregon need to think and talk about what kinds of laws they want. They need to notice the hypocrisy and the contradictions. Should teenagers under 18 be having sexual intercourse or not? If the answer is no, no means no, right?

The problem with calling Roy Moore a pedophile.

Rachel Hope Cleves (a history professor) and Nicholas L. Syrett (a gender studies professor) write in the Washington Post that it's important to set the label "pedophile" aside and confine it to its technically correct meaning ("recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger)"), because...
In the midst of a storm of allegations against powerful men in the world of politics and entertainment, we should see Moore not as an outlier but as another man who allegedly used his position to focus on those who he believed were the most vulnerable.
There are a lot of comments on this op-ed, and many of the most-liked ones don't get the point, and seem to insist on saying "pedophile" because they hate what Moore allegedly did and want to use a strong word to express that and they're not interested in sparing Moore on a technicality.  There are also many other commenters telling these people they didn't understand the article or just read the headline — "Roy Moore is not a pedophile" — and jumped into the comments section.

The authors, Cleves and Syrett, are not out to go easy on Moore. They're interested in going big attacking men in general. Moore may be an extreme case, going after young teenagers, but he's in a set of men that can't be isolated and ostracized as easily as pedophiles. Putting him in the category of men who pursue sex by exploiting a power differential integrates him with men we have not exiled from decent society, but it also creates potential for influencing the bad behavior of many more men. And that's what Cleves and Syrett are eager to do.

I got hit by a drone the other day.

I was walking in my very quiet neighborhood, wearing a long wool coat, listening to an audiobook in my usual there-but-also-somewhere-else manner, and suddenly I'm hit in the leg with what I thought was a rock. Is someone throwing a rock at me? I turn and see a rather pathetic man holding a controller of some sort in his two hands and glance down at the ground and see the stupid drone toy of his that hit me. I give him a look that must have expressed my opinion that this is the dumbest loser I have had to interact with in a long time, said nothing, and moved on. I was glad nobody threw a rock at me and glad I didn't express my sense of relief but only my opinion of his loserhood when I had to look at him.

Also, recently: We were walking down a quiet residential street near where we live, and suddenly BANG! — a big car crash. On a street with practically zero traffic, a black car made a left turn into the path of a red car going straight. No one seemed to be hurt, but the black car spun around and had its whole passenger's side crushed in. I realized how situationally unaware I am when I'm walking. I had my eyes open and looking straight in the direction where it happened, but I don't feel that I saw it. The sound of the crash got my attention, and I looked at the aftermath and deduced what happened, but I really did not see the hit. I think I get caught up in my thoughts and I'm somehow blind without being aware of how blind I am.

"One wonders if the boy did not know what would happen. I do not know about you, but in my youth I have never been in situations like this."

"Never. I was always aware of what could happen. When you are in somebody’s bedroom, you have to be aware of where that can lead to. That’s why it does not sound very credible to me. It seems to me that Spacey has been attacked unnecessarily.... People know exactly what's going on [about Weinstein]... And they play along. Afterwards, they feel embarrassed or disliked. And then they turn it around and say: 'I was attacked, I was surprised'. But if everything went well, and if it had given them a great career, they would not talk about it. I hate rape. I hate attacks. I hate sexual situations that are forced on someone. But in many cases one looks at the circumstances and thinks that the person who is considered a victim is merely disappointed."

Said Morrissey.

ADDED: These remarks made me wonder how smart Morrissey is. My guess was that he's very smart, and he likes to look at things from different points of view and talk about what he sees, and that can get you into trouble, at least if your smartness doesn't lead you to see what you're going to get if you waft miscellaneous ideas where people expect you to say only one thing and you decide to protect yourself by keeping quiet.

I read the "Early life" section of Morrissey's Wikipedia page, and see that his parents were "working-class Irish Catholics," and he "failed his 11-plus exam" after elementary school "and proceeded to St. Mary's Technical Modern School, an experience that he found unpleasant." He was good at sports but still "an unpopular loner." He said his education was "evil and brutal," and "All I learnt was to have no self-esteem and to feel ashamed without knowing why." He did read a lot, we're told, including feminist literature and Oscar Wilde. And he turned to music — very successfully — as the solution.

Even here, music was a solution. Morrissey could have saved these ideas for song lyrics, which can be enigmatic, ambiguous, and seeming to arise from a character the singer embodies.

Gone at last.

November 19, 2017

"I mean, have you ever really looked at a woman naked? Really objectively looked at a woman’s body?"

"What do you see? A fat boy with overdeveloped breasts, that’s what you see. Basically, a badly made youth. A child who’s somehow managed to shoot up to adult height without growing any muscle – a chronic anaemic who haemorrhages regularly thirteen times a year. What do you expect to come out of them? Wit?"/"If what you say is true, then how can it be that I so easily came to think of her as my intellectual equal?"/"Hallucination. The mesmerising power of a skirt. Or perhaps the two of you really have become equals. Perhaps the capillary power of her vacuity has actually sucked your brains out and brought her up and you down to the same moronic level."

That's August Strindberg, as delightfully translated by David Greig, in the play "Creditors," a production of which we saw this afternoon. A snapshot of the set:


The last performance is less than 2 hours from now, so if you're nearby, consider snapping up one of the few tickets left and running out to Spring Green.

Laurence Tribe calls Trump's misspelling of "Frankenstein" "at least subconsciously antisemitic."

Trump tweeted:

Lawprof Laurence Tribe tweeted:

All right, this has us rereading and highlighting the hilarious, mean, and thought-provoking things Trump crammed into his little tweet. He's got the memorable, powerful nickname for Al Franken, connecting him to the famous monster. Yeah, it's obvious and Franken himself has done it...
... but it's lodged in our head now. And Trump successfully raised an issue that I hadn't thought of, that the photographer would have taken bursts of images and the one we are seeing is the one Franken himself chose to give to Leeann Tweeden to inform her of the prank, so he must have thought he looked rather impishly cute. What about the other pictures?

But let's concentrate on the misspelling. Why would Trump do that? Laurence Tribe is presumably serious when he says he wants us to believe that he thinks Trump thought the "Frankenstien" spelling would convey anti-Semitism. What other reason is there to spell the word wrong? Well, first, there's a simple mistake, perhaps influenced by the "i before e" rule.

Tribe — who must know about Occam's Razor — tries to exclude the simple mistake by stating that "Trump had to override autocorrect," but I opened a compose window in Twitter and typed "Frankenstien" and it did not autocorrect. I tried another "i before e" mistake and wrote "recieve" and it autocorrected, so I know how Twitter autocorrect works, and it doesn't reject "Frankenstien."

So Tribe just sounds ridiculously conspiracy-theory-oriented. Why didn't he test autocorrect before making that assertion? I'm so careful about things like that that I feel the need to say right now that maybe Tribe's Twitter experience, perhaps in a different browser, works differently from mine. And I'm not spreading scurrilous hate by calling somebody anti-Semitic.

I'm so embarrassed for Tribe, dipping into this kind of crap. I wonder where his hands go when he's typing out tweets that he chooses not to publish to the world? This is what he thinks is impishly cute or brilliantly smart or importantly alarming??

And the dumbest part of it is, who thinks of "Frankenstien" as "distinctively Jewish" in a way that "Frankenstein" is not? There are many Jewish names that end in "-stein." If anything, the "-stein" ending might cause me to think Jewish. But of all the names that end in "-stein," the last one I'd think of as Jewish is "Frankenstein." Who thinks of the Frankenstein monster as Jewish? Here's the full text of Mary Shelley's novel, and there isn't one reference to Jews or Jewishiness or Judaism.

But if the subject is on your mind, perhaps you'd get the idea that misspelling the familiar name would be a way to make it seem Jewish, but who thinks about "-stien" as being Jewish? I've never even noticed that name before and have no association with it. I don't think it's familiar enough for Trump to have thought the old e-i switcheroo would trigger something anti-Semitic in his readers. I had to look up the name, and I'm still not seeing it as Jewish. calls it a "Norwegian: habitational name from any of numerous farmsteads." I looked up my own last name on the same website and got "Americanized form of German and Jewish Althaus," which surprised me, as that was the first time in my life I'd seen the name called Jewish. But that shows that doesn't hold back from calling a name Jewish.

I can't believe the badness of that Laurence Tribe tweet. Maybe the idea is something like: Trump's bad tweets work for him. Bad is good. You've got to tweet badly.

You're putting me on.

ADDED: If anything here seems anti-Semitic it's jumping to call something "distinctively Jewish."

Speaking of hunting....

Trump and the elephants — what just happened?

So you've probably heard that Trump made an announcement that had to do with killing elephants, people got upset — because people love elephants — and then Trump took it back — kind of.

I see that even Scott Adams — who revels in explaining why whatever Trump does is some genius "master persuader" move — thought Trump blundered ridiculously. Even though (if?) Trump's plan made good sense at the real-world factual level, it was horrible messaging at the emotional level, which is what matters in politics, and he shouldn't have done it. In that view, Trump's quick turnaround was a correction, abandoning rational policy to realign with emotional politics.

But let's undertake the thought experiment: What if it was a good idea to temporarily waft the idea of ending the ban on importing elephant trophies? I've been toying with a few thoughts on the subject.

No elephants actually died. The idea was out there and then squelched, just something to think about. What most people seemed to think about was how great elephants are. We love elephants. They're just about the favorite animal on earth. I mean, what's the competition? Dogs? Giraffes? Human beings? Pandas? We just got all balled up in our warm, enthusiastic love for the gigantic beasts with the big ears and the long trunks.

It's an almost childlike response. Didn't you draw elephants when you were a child? Every drawing of Noah's Ark has an elephant. We've been trying to draw elephants for a long time:
An elephant is the first thing the author tries to draw in "The Little Prince":
We have many soft buttons about elephants. The first thing I saw this morning on Facebook was an old photograph of a little girl sitting on a stool next to an elephant. The elephant is also seated (I guess because getting elephants to sit down was a standard circus trick imposed on captive elephants), and the girl has her arm as far as she can get it around the elephant. The elephant doesn't have its arm around the little girl because elephants don't have arms, and it's unlikely that the elephant loves the little girl. But we see love, because the love is in our heart.

But did you know that just in India, 100 to 300 human beings are killed by elephants every year? I'm reading that at the World Wildlife Fund website:
Elephant-human conflict poses a grave threat to their [that is, the elephants'] continued existence.... When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans for reasons other than ivory and habitat degradation. Elephants cause damage amounting from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. Every year, 100 humans (in some years it may be 300 people) and 40-50 elephants are killed during crop raiding in India....
We have no wild elephants in America, and I notice the "Pleistocene re-wilding" plan (blogged here in 2005) didn't get too far. We don't have elephants trampling cropland and little girls in Nebraska. For us, elephants are like unicorns. They live in Imaginationland. If Trump kills them, he kills out dreams.

Do you think he didn't know that? I'm going to suggest that he knew he could make elephants fill our brain. They are huge, not just in real life, but in our mind. You won't be able to ignore the elephant in the room that is your head space, and Trump put him there. The question is what were you not thinking about when you were thinking about the elephant? It's the most perfect distraction ever. It was so distracting that you didn't even notice what was that thing about Trump that we'd have been harping on if it weren't for the SAVE THE ELEPHANT!!! I think it was Roy Moore molested children, therefore Trump should be impeached.

Yes, we were thinking about big unruly penises, but a human penis looks like nothing compared to the elephant's trunk. Look at that thing! It's huge! It's prehensile!

By the way, "trunk" sounds like "Trump." And elephants "trumpet." Don't you hear them in your head now? Trump and elephants begin to merge in that deep part of your psyche that makes no sense. Suddenly, you love Trump. You were loving elephants, and Trump is saving the elephants now. All is good, the arc of elephant-saving bends toward justice.

Once the Trump and trumpet wordplay had us screwing around with blowing Trump's crazy hair:
But now Trump is trumpeting like an elephant...

... an elephant that in real life might like to trample you to death, but an elephant that exists in your mind as the lovable creature that Trump saved.

"I was wrong – Althouse obviously had her finger on the pulse of America when she started posting about Wankgate 24/7."

"I was wrong – Althouse obviously had her finger on the pulse of America when she started posting about Wankgate 24/7. It really has become the defining sociocultural (and political) event of 2017," writes Paco Wové in last night's Worn-Out Laugh Café.

Let me be the first to say, Time Magazine's 2017 Man of the Year should be the little man — the penis.

ADDED: I see that Time is currently running a poll on the subject. Current results here. Vying for the top position — each with only 7% — are Carmen Yulín Cruz, Taylor Swift, and (the nonperson who I think will actually win) #MeToo.

What about Trump? He gets 6%. Wasn't he Man of the Year last year? You can't just give it to the President every year. You might think a Trump antagonist would win, but the main 2 they've put on the list — James Comey and Robert Mueller — are lagging at 2% and 4%.

I'm okay with #MeToo getting the honor, even though I'd like to see something more precisely focused on all the women (and men) who spoke out about sexual abuse. The fact that there's a hashtag mixes up the bigger story with the existence of social media. (If you want to give the honor to social media, give it to Twitter.) And #MeToo has some problems with it, chiefly #MeToo what? Not everyone who uses the tag really belongs in the category that ought to be defined as the problem. There's a real danger that the category will be diluted to the point where people will stop caring about victims of abuse and start worrying about the moral panic and the urge to delete flawed human beings from the midst of the supposedly good people.

"As soon as Broaddrick’s story starts to impose on today’s tribal loyalties, and possibly impugn Hillary, it loses credibility."

"Suddenly, Broaddrick’s account is 'wildly unlikely.' Broaddrick was obviously misreading Hillary’s remark, [Michelle] Goldberg speculates [in her NYT column]. 'Most reporting about the Clinton marriage shows Bill going to great lengths to hide his betrayals.' On the question of Bill Clinton’s decades-long history of sexual abuse, Goldberg implies, Hillary Clinton had absolutely no idea what was going on. And yet this is what Goldberg also believes about Hillary Clinton: that she’s an intelligent, shrewd political operator; a woman who pioneered the notion of a First Lady as co-president; someone intimately involved in every aspect of her husband’s career and campaigns; supremely attuned to what her enemies could use against her; a wife whose televised defense of her husband’s account of his sexual past in the primary season saved his career; a master of detail and strategy; worldly because she had to be. And yet at the same time, Goldberg believes that Hillary knew nothing about her political partner’s history of abusing, harassing, and exploiting women, was for decades a staggering naïf, and not an equal partner, was kept out of the information loop all along, and shocked, shocked, every time one of these bizarre accusations emerged...."

Writes Andrew Sullivan at New York Magazine.

November 18, 2017

At the Worn-Out Laugh Café...


... you can talk about anything you like.

The photo was taken a year ago today.

The usual reminder: Your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal helps keep this blog going. It encourages the blogger (if that's something you want to do).

So I guess all the Freudian analysis and mockery of men and their planes is true.

A Navy pilot drew a giant penis in the sky.

Thanks for dispelling the age-old mystery.

"What is 'Top Gun'? You think it's a story about a bunch of fighter pilots?"/"It's about a bunch of guys waving their dicks around?"

What the new editor of Vanity Fair — Radhika Jones — wore to her first meeting with staff.

A navy blue dress that Women's Wear Daily described as "strewn with zippers" and tights "covered with illustrated, cartoon foxes."

WWD retreats into quoting Anna Wintour (who is not only the editor of Vogue editor but also the artistic Director of Condé Nast of which Vanity Fair is a part). Wintour only made a gentle gibe, "I’m not sure if I should include a new pair of tights in her welcome basket."

I'm more interested in interpreting the metaphors. What can you say about a navy blue dress strewn with zippers? It says women have the power now. The zipper's strongest association is with the fly on a man's pants. We might say a man with uncontrolled sexual compulsions has a "zipper problem," as in "Jackie Collins Knew Bill Clinton Had A ‘Zipper Problem’" (HuffPo, 2011)("I remember, before Clinton was president, I was sitting at a dinner in Beverly Hills and one of his aides was there and told me that he was definitely going to be president, except for one problem: the zipper problem.... They knew way before he was elected!").

And then a navy blue dress... I think of Monica Lewinsky.

That dress was strewn with Bill Clinton's genetic material.

Therefore I interpret Radhika Jones's dress as wry political commentary: the end of the political subjugation of women, the end of silencing — zip your lip, not mine — and a new era of female domination.

Now, let's consider the item of clothing that was even more attention-getting and metaphor-pushing than a blue dress strewn with zippers: tights covered in foxes.

What do foxes mean? When the political website FiveThirtyEight chose a fox as its corporate logo, Nate Silver quoted the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

So there were many zippers on the dress and many foxes on the tights, which is a message of multiplicity already. But each of the many foxes is also a symbol of knowing many things.

There is, of course, the idea of women as "foxes," which was already laughably sexist when Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin played Festrunk Brothers in 1978 (and Garrett Morris had to explain that you can't talk about American women like that):

I'd say the foxes on Radhika Jones's tights represent a reclaiming of an old diminishment, amplified and multiplied, and complicated by zippers. Foxes run around, finding out about everything, uncovering what is hidden, and zippers enclose while suggesting a sudden, perhaps shocking disclosure. That's all very apt as a message about journalism, and it's an exciting way to say that a woman is now in charge.

ADDED: Also consider that the top-rated meaning for "zipper" at Urban Dictionary is: "A death trap for your dick."

And I created a "zippers" tag and went back and applied it to old posts. I was amused by how many times over the years I've talked about the Brian Regan comedy bit about Zipper, the bad dolphin (in contrast to Flipper) — "Zipper's surly. He is uncaring."

Meade, reading this post, said his first association with zipper was the "zipless fuck" (in Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying"). I had to do some additional retroactive tagging, because I'd only searched for "zipper." Searching for "zipless," I found places where I'd talked about Erica Jong's idea, including one in the context Trump's "Access Hollywood" remarks, from October 8, 2016 (the day after the sudden, shocking disclosure of the tape):
[I]f you watch the whole video, you see him winning with another woman, Arianne Zucker, the one who, in Trump's words, is "hot as shit, in the purple." Zucker is the one who inspired him to say "I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

And in fact, you see the female version of that power trip: The woman plays on the man's sexual interest. Grab them by the crotch. Zucker looks entirely pleased with herself, demands to walk in the center and grabs the arms of both men. If that is what is expected and that is the norm in your workplace, how can you be the cold one who keeps her sexuality to herself?

I invite you to contemplate why this got me thinking about Erica Jong's concept of the "zipless fuck":
The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not "taking" and the woman is not "giving." No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one. 

"Wikileaks used to be a champion of (seemingly) what they're absolutely not helping with right now."

Said Bill Maher on his show last night. I'm not that interested in how the guests he happened to have on his panel reacted to that prompt. I just wanted to transcribe that one sentence, because it fascinated me.

It's short but complicated, confusing but it hangs together. It's about Wikileaks, but it's kind of about everything in politics, isn't it?

Think of all the individuals and organizations who seemed to be a champion of something you cared about who are absolutely not helping with right now.

November 17, 2017

Liberal websites absorb/process the Al Franken news, part 5: The Nation.

The front page of The Nation is ready to impeach Donald Trump but eager to help Al Franken:

The Franken article, by Joan Walsh, is, "What Should Democrats Do About Al Franken?/With work, Franken can and should survive this story of his past bad behavior. But if there are more tales like this, he’s probably history." Walsh obviously loves Franken, and she's open about it. She "loved" his "hilarious" book and says it made her want him to run for President. She admits to having a "huge double standard":
I believed Moore’s accusers right away—especially given all the detail in their accounts, and all the corroborating witnesses. I confess: I spent at least 30 minutes looking for proof that Franken didn’t do what he’s accused of. 
That's how the human mind works. Good to admit it!
I reached out to women who are close to Franken, and at least two say they don’t know enough to confirm or deny it, but they’re devastated. I don’t know him well enough to be devastated, but I’m enormously sad.... This... really hurts....
She does not want Franken to resign: 
Franken has been an excellent senator; you can’t just trade him for a player to be named later. It’s one allegation, albeit an ugly one, and he’s apologized for it. If more come out, we can reexamine this question. But Republicans have persevered through much worse than this....

Franken has been an excellent senator, a committed feminist, a brilliant Trump foil, and the rare Democrat with a sense for the dramatic and the entertaining. We shouldn’t disown him just because Republicans want a scapegoat. We will have to, though, if these stories multiply, as they have with Trump and Moore. My fingers are crossed that they will not.
She's just rooting for her side, openly and nicely.

Meanwhile, 8 minutes after the Walsh piece went up, The Nation gave us "It Is Time to Impeach the President" by John Nichols. That's the balance at The Nation. Unlike Walsh, Nichols doesn't explain the urge to oust Trump in terms of his own personal emotional journey. He takes the lofty rational tone and says things like "The grounds for impeachment are sufficient, and they are well established" and who knows what a roiling cauldron of emotion Nichols is on the inside?

Liberal websites absorb/process the Al Franken news, part 4: Slate.

I think this one will be my favorite. I've been saving this up as I slogged through some other things. Here's the Franken-related material as situated on the front page of Slate:

You've got, first, most prominently, "Al Franken Should Resign Immediately / Democrats’ credibility on sexual harassment is at stake," by Mark Joseph Stern. That went up very quickly (at 12:11 p.m.), and you don't even need to click through to get the message, with is impressively forthright. Stern cares about principle, perhaps on the theory that it's the most effective strategy for the Democrats. Don't waffle! Stern is hardcore:
The Democratic Party now has a chance to set the proper example and prove that absolute intolerance for sexual harassment crosses party lines. Democrats should not hedge or wring their hands or await more accusations. The path forward is simple: If the party wishes to retain an ounce of credibility, it must demand Franken’s swift resignation.
Absolute intolerance. There are those in Congress who know more about what secrets have been hidden and therefore where an absolute-intolerance policy may lead. A Franken resignation won't affect the number of Democrats in the Senate. (Minnesota has the Governor fill an opened Senate seat, and it stays that way until the next election.) But will the Democrats insist on the resignation of all sexual harassers? And once they lock into that track, what will count as sexual harassment? If you go with feminist analysis, it could be quite a lot. Consider the next article:

"Al Franken's Humor Always Had a Mean Streak," by Laura Miller. If you click through, the headline tames down to "Comedians Know to Play to the Room. Al Franken Should’ve Known Better." Miller is pretty sympathetic to Franken, offering him the padding of context, but she says something I'm going to make a big deal about. I'll put it in boldface:
It doesn’t matter—as Franken, to his credit, now seems to realize—whether the photo portrays an actual grope or a near-grope. The joke was at Tweeden’s expense, a tedious unfunny entry in the long, long catalog of humor based on the idea that sex in any form is an advantage men seize over women, at women’s expense. That seems to have been a theme of Franken’s USO appearances with Tweeden, as well: him leering at her in order to win laughs from servicemen. It looks like the servicemen found this antique, Bob Hope-style shtick funny, but humor is notoriously dependent on context....

Every joke is meant for one room or another, some group of people with a particular set of values whose approval the joker hopes to gain....
As I've said a few times, we may be entering the era of That's Not Funny. If everything is going to get out, through social media, open microphones, and digital cameras everywhere, then maybe nobody should dare to be a comedian or at least comedians need to confine themselves to comedy shows and stay out of politics.

But let's look at that boldface and think about the burgeoning potential of the idea that you might not be able to safely express anymore. The whole "Bob Hope-style shtick" is off limits. All the jokes (and all the serious statements) about sexual transactions may become suspect, and any statement about unequal sex may turn you into a social pariah. In this new template, Trump could be denounced without any credible stories about groping a woman and without regarding the Access Hollywood remarks as a confession that he actually did go up to women and just start kissing them. Just the idea that he thought of kissing women as taking an advantage is enough to condemn him — even if it's true that the women want that kind of sexual domination when it comes from a star.

Here's something I wrote in 2005, when the feminist writer Andrea Dworkin died:
[T]his is a classic problem in American feminism: do you want to describe one big system that applies to all women or should you concentrate on the truly oppressed?.... In the area of sexuality, I can see why people like Dworkin wanted to say to all the women who were smug about their own lucky lives and proud of their mates to say look closely at what you've got and start identifying with women at other levels of sexual happiness: empathize with them and see the problems. Dworkin and MacKinnon said that women had eroticized domination. That's not absolutely accurate, but it is one of the most powerful ideas I have ever encountered in my life. It's a truly scary, unsettling insight and a lot of the intense reaction to them is an unwillingness to lose what you want to believe is good.
The feminism of the 1980s may be reviving, and I see it right there in Laura Miller's hostility to "the idea that sex in any form is an advantage men seize over women, at women’s expense." This is just one product that might emerge from the manufacturing process that takes in Al Franken as its raw material. And I do want to scare you! Soylent Green is people!

The third article from the front page in Slate is "Today in Conservative Media: Let’s Be Frank About Franken" by Osita Nwanevu, and I like this because it looks as though it might be the same as the idea I'm applying to liberal media, just doing it to conservative media. But it's just collecting quotes. No real commentary.

The headline on the front page has more analysis than anything in the article: "Conservative Media Sounds Gleeful About Al Franken." I guess that means it's wrong to be gleeful. You should be somber and empathetic toward the women who come forward to speak about sexual harassment, so if you let it show that you're enjoying taking down a political enemy, you're committing an offense, the offense of glee. But if you're going to crack down on that offense, you'll have to restrain yourself over Roy Moore and Donald Trump. So quit smirking and put on that face you're going to need to avoid disaster in the era of That's Not Funny.