January 24, 2017

The allegation that, at the Liberty inaugural ball, Kellyanne Conway punched a tuxedoed man 3 times.

And, as the story is told, it sounds like he deserved it. 2 men were having a fistfight:
"Inside the ball we see a fight between two guys in tuxes and then suddenly out of nowhere came Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway who began throwing some mean punches at one of the guys," [Fox Business correspondent Charlie Gasparino]. "Whole thing lasted a few mins no one was hurt except maybe the dude she smacked."
Here's more detail at Gasparino's Facebook page:
More detail on my post trump inaugural fun and games: first met my pal Scott baio outside the victory ball. We said hello when a bunch of anarchist thugs began to descend on us screaming "hey Chachi are u fascist?" One made an aggressive move toward us i shoved him away and he said "touch me again u little prick and I'll smack u" my response: "GFY asshole" that's when my producer Brian Schwartz intervened and crisis was averted. Part two was even more insane: inside the ball we see a fight between two guys in tuxes and then suddenly out of nowhere came trump adviser Kellyanne Conway who began throwing some mean punches at one of the guys. Whole thing lasted a few mins no one was hurt except maybe the dude she smacked. Now I know why trump hired her. Btw I exaggerate none of this-cg
Makes me think of what Trump said at the pre-inaugural dinner: "There is no den she will not go into."

CORRECTION: I pictured Conway punching the man in the face, but I don't think that's right. I took the phrase "in the face" out of the post title. 

"Here's what happens when you wear a Trump cap in downtown Manhattan/I never realized how much I fit in until I didn't."

Wrote Dina Kaplan at Medium.com, but now it says the article has been taken down by the author. I guess Ms. Kaplan really is sensitive about fitting in. I'm seeing the link at Facebook, where my son John preserved some of the text:
During the election I supported Hillary Clinton, whom I’ve known since I was a kid. But today I feel empathy for Trump supporters in New York and other heavily blue zip codes around the country.

You don’t have to be racist to support Donald Trump. You don’t have to love what he said on the Access Hollywood tape. Perhaps you just wanted change. And I respect that.

Today I realize how divided our country is. That people in lower Manhattan want to stare, curse at, or leave restaurants that serve people who support the man who is now our President.

From now on, I’ll respect people who... hold views that might not be popular where they live. I was in their shoes for just one hour, and I was scared...."
I guess she was scared enough to not even want the people who scared her to know she was scared.

We've heard of the hidden Trump supporters. Also hidden are people who just think there should be some decent respect for people who support Trump.

"Most people I know felt that 2016 was the beginning of a long decline with Brexit, then Trump and all these nationalist movements in Europe."

"It looked like things were going to get worse and worse. I said: ‘Well, what about thinking about it in a different way?’ Actually, it’s the end of a long decline. We’ve been in decline for about 40 years since Thatcher and Reagan and the Ayn Rand infection spread through the political class, and perhaps we’ve bottomed out. My feeling about Brexit was not anger at anybody else, it was anger at myself for not realising what was going on. I thought that all those Ukip people and those National Fronty people were in a little bubble. Then I thought: ‘Fuck, it was us, we were in the bubble, we didn’t notice it.’ There was a revolution brewing and we didn’t spot it because we didn’t make it. We expected we were going to be the revolution.... Actually, in retrospect, I’ve started to think I’m pleased about Trump and I’m pleased about Brexit because it gives us a kick up the arse and we needed it because we weren’t going to change anything. Just imagine if Hillary Clinton had won and we’d been business as usual, the whole structure she’d inherited, the whole Clinton family myth. I don’t know that’s a future I would particularly want. It just seems that was grinding slowly to a halt, whereas now, with Trump, there’s a chance of a proper crash, and a chance to really rethink."

Said Brian Eno.

In case you're about to comment "Who's Brian Eno?," let me send you back to my old post from 2005, "Music to read by: the suggestions."

You can play "Music for Airports" here. I like dead silence for reading, but if I'm in a place where the sound is distracting, this is probably the first thing I'd choose to plug my headphones into.

The author of "Fight Club," Chuck Palahniuk says he coined the term "snowflake" and he stands by it.

After Kellyanne Conway used the term recently, the Evening Standard called up Palahniuk to ask him about it:
“It does come from Fight Club,” he confirmed down the phone from his home in Oregon. “There is a line, ‘You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.’”

In Fight Club, Tyler Durden leads a generation of emasculated men to rediscover their inner strength by beating the hell out of each other.

Two decades later, Palahniuk sees the modern generation as delicate flowers more than ever. “There is a kind of new Victorianism,” he said. “Every generation gets offended by different things but my friends who teach in high school tell me that their students are very easily offended.”...

Chuck says this is a problem with the Left, not the Right. “The modern Left is always reacting to things,” he opined. “Once they get their show on the road culturally they will stop being so offended.” He added self-effacingly: “That’s just my bulls**t opinion.”
Asked about Donald Trump, Palahniuk said “I’m going to pass on that one.” So who's the snowflake? Is he one of the hidden Trump supporters? But I can understand a culture-critic wanting to avoid any partisan alliance. He's not necessarily bullied into silence. It can be a way of making your own writing better. It's what I call cruel neutrality.

"Oscar voters showered the neo-musical 'La La Land' with 14 nominations on Tuesday, a tie with 'Titanic' and 'All About Eve' for the most in Academy Award history."

The NYT reports.
But the academy also moved past two #OscarsSoWhite years by honoring six black actors — a record — and including diverse films like “Moonlight,” “Fences” and “Hidden Figures” in the best picture race.
"Moved past" = either became enlightened about the true worth of black actors or got ass-covering about how bad it's looked not to have honored enough black people.

The real question — papered over with nominations — is whether black actors are getting good enough roles to show what they can do.

Another thing that happened: Mel Gibson got a Best Director nomination — "officially ending his 10-year status as a Hollywood pariah for his offscreen behavior."

ADDED: The NYT has this:
“Arrival” emerged as one of the most-honored films, with support in eight categories, but its star, Amy Adams, failed to receive a nod for best actress. Instead, her slot likely went to the newcomer Ruth Negga for her understated performance in “Loving.” Joining her were Isabelle Huppert from the French film “Elle,” Emma Stone from “La La Land,” Natalie Portman from “Jackie” and Meryl Streep from “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Which provoked this apt comments (at the NYT):
"Instead, her slot (Any Adams) likely went to the newcomer Ruth Negga for her understated performance in “Loving.”

How dare you NYT. The black woman can't be nominated on her own merit. She 'takes' her spot from a white woman.

Shame on you. Shame.
Wow! I predict the NYT will be apologizing about that. 

Is caricature a lost art?

This is the best The Washington Post can do?!

Note that the name of the new podcast is "Can He Do That?" It will be interesting to see how much the failure to ask that question with respect to things Obama did will affect the answer to the question now that they are roused to ask it.

ADDED: Interesting to use the word "can" — so famous in the Obama catchphrase "Yes We Can."

That could be an answer to WaPo's question about Trump. "Can he do that?" Yes we can.

Or does parallelism require Yes he can? If so, I need to ask where Obama got the "we."

And, of course, Trump himself likes to say "we." Many people pointed out that Trump's inaugural address had very little use of the word "I" and a lot of "we."

I'm just asking for consistency from the press if it wants to be seen as professional. It's so far gone that it hardly matters, but it's my self-appointed job to notice these things.

I thought I knew what #1 would be, but the actual #1 made me laugh.

So I was a sucker for a Forbes click-through list of "Ten Guaranteed Ways To Appear Smarter Than You Are" because I felt sure one of them would be: Listen to what other people say.

I think people are vain, and if you look like you understand and value what they are saying, they'll judge you to be smart.

I hate the multi-page format, but my desire — my vain desire — to see my answer in the set caused me to click all the way through to the end.

The advice includes stuff like wearing glasses and using a middle initial, but #1 is "Skip that drink." That surprised me. I had to laugh. Not drinking isn't a way to appear smarter than you are. It's a way to avoid actually becoming dumber.

You know, sometimes you might actually want to become dumber. But that's material for a different list: 10 Situations in Which You Would Be Better Off If You Weren't So Smart, 10 Reasons Why You Might Want to Take the Edge Off Your Intelligence, etc.

To be fair to Forbes, reading the fine print, I see that "Skip that drink" goes beyond advising you not to drink. It says that even holding a drink causes other people to lower their assessment of your intelligence.

What if Trump's inauguration crowd had been bigger than Obama's? You know very well how the press would have presented it.

Once I've prompted you with the question, I expect you to take less than 10 seconds to think of the same answer that occurred to me.

I'll reserve my answer to give you a chance to confirm what I think is so obvious.

IN THE COMMENTS: 7 minutes after I posted this, Shane said:
At least make the "answer" available so we can move on to our other blogs that are less condescendingly precious this morning, hopefully. Please?
15 minutes later, from me:
The comments are divided between the people who can't say it or are pretending not to know and the people who are saying it as plainly as possible, so why do the not-knowers not know yet?

Says Althouse, preciously condescendingly.
ALSO: Another question is: How would the press talk about Trump's relatively small in-person crowd if it wanted to portray Trump's support as better than Obama's?

I think this is a harder question, so I'll blurt out my answer right away. Trump had huge rallies before the election, which is when — in a democracy — physically showing up matters. That's why they call it a rally. There's something you need people to get up and go out and do: Vote and rouse other people into voting. That was done for Trump and he won the election. Trump supporters achieved that. It's now time to get back to your own life, your work and your family and friends and to give the person you've elected a chance to fix the problems he said he'd fix, make America great again, etc.

To go out to see him now has more to do with the adoration of the man — as if he's your idol or you want to merge with him and have an emotive need about being "part of history." That's deranged in a democracy. It's more normal to believe you've done your political work. You shouldn't show up at a rally to further boost this man's look of importance and to get photographed as an element of a crowd and to be used instrumentally to magnify his power and give his to swearing in a feeling of divine ascension. He's President, and that's an earthly reality that's plenty in itself and achieved through the election, which happened months ago. You don't have to further inflate him or devote yourself as a follower.

In this view, the Trump supporters are not nutty or deluded or in thrall to a god-like celebrity. They're just ordinary people who focused on electing the best President and who've gone back to living in the real world. They didn't need or want to go to a love-in for the man.

If you use this template, you can make what happened with Obama in January 2009 look bad!

Salvaging the litter of the Women's March...

... preserving it as history.
Archival projects aren’t typically spontaneous, but the material was available for only a short window, and the group had to act quickly, [said  Dietmar Offenhuber, an assistant professor of art and design and public policy].

Though many of the signs were funny and creative, said Alessandra Renzi, assistant professor in emergent media, the archive isn’t just about displaying the clever quips, but about understanding the women’s movement and sentiment around the march, she said. "It was one very large mobilization in a country that no longer has very large mobilizations."...

The signs illustrate concern and demands for Mr. Trump’s administration without getting lost in a social-media feed. As activism and democratic movements live increasingly online, physical signs are a rarity....
It's good to preserve protest signs. Not all of them, of course, but this was an example of abandoned signs that had fallen into the category of things people regard as trash and a quick decision to preserve the whole lot. In the end, only the best will be selected and preserved, though I assume the very best — like the one John photographed here — were not abandoned on the street in the first place.

And I didn't know you could be an "emergent media" professor. Is that just another way to say new media?

January 23, 2017

The media are going after Trump about the inaugural crowd size because it's part of "creat[ing] the illusion that Trump is not popular, that he didn’t legitimately win, that there isn’t that much excitement for him."

"To them, it’s not a nitpick, and that’s why Trump’s fighting back on it," said Rush Limbaugh, on his show today.
Trump knows exactly what they’re trying to do with this. What’s being reported is that Trump is a megalomaniac, that he’s an egomaniac, and that he’s a narcissist. And he cares about all these things like crowd size and everything.

What they’re not reporting is they start it. They report. They put up a couple of phony pictures side by side to try to create the impression that nobody cared about Trump’s inauguration. Well, I had Trump on this program back in October, and I asked him about the constant hit back via tweet or other method attempt use. And he said he did it because he’s not gonna sit there and allow his name to be muddied and just sit there and have a lie establish and the roots planted and have it start growing. If it’s about him, if it’s about his name, his business, or his family, he’s not gonna put up with it....
I'll just do a poll:

Should Trump keep fighting back about everything, as aggressively and continuously as he does?
pollcode.com free polls

SNL writer Katie Rich is "so sorry" for her tweet about Barron Trump but we are told that she's been "suspended."

Whatever that means. Not fired, I take it. Suspended. It's a gesture to the public. I assume she will recover.

The objected-to tweet — so wrong on so many levels — was: "Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter."

The worst thing about Katie Rich's tweet was...
pollcode.com free polls

New clothes.

From Thom Browne. Very arty and amusing. Seems like a walking cubist painting...

... worn by Harold Lloyd.

"There are times when we disagree with the facts," said Sean Spicer, just now.

At today's news briefing, going on now.

I think he meant to say: There are times when we disagree about the facts.

He's answering a question about whether he will promise never to lie — he did promise — and it struck me as telling that he said "we disagree with the facts."

ADDED: Spicer just said "cognizant to," instead of the normal "cognizant of." Maybe he's just weird about prepositions. Weird around prepositions. Weird beneath prepositions. 

AND: From the NYT live blog:
Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “Over and over again, there is this attempt to go after this president,” Spicer says. “There’s a rush to judgement every time.” He is back to talking about the King bust flap. This is the White House putting journalists on notice to watch what they report.
Maggie Haberman: This is Spicer channeling Trump pretty purely. Trump genuinely believes he’s been treated unfairly....

Peter Baker: It also reinforces Trump’s status as a more independent president, going against longstanding Republican orthodoxy from the start.

Maggie Haberman: And Peter, on making this bust mistake prominent, it really is a reminder of how asymmetrical covering this administration will be. Any mistake by the press, no matter how quickly it’s addressed, will be amplified to Trump’s supporters, even as the press secretary makes untrue statements.
I'm assuming you know what the "King bust flap" is.

"I never fit in very well. I was a very passive male and I didn’t fit into the male culture, especially back then."

"It was just really nice to not have social pressures, not have all the stimulus... I never was very hip, very cool. I mean, I had long hair and a beard and all that, but I never felt comfortable. It took a long time of living out here to become more comfortable.... I’ve always been pretty good at living alone obviously. God, if I wasn’t it’d be really nuts living out here.... I got up in the morning and looked out this picture window at this mountain and it was like, this is a good place to be."

Said Billy Barr, the lone resident of Gothic, Colorado.

"I just went to the Oval Office and found this beautiful letter from President Obama."

"It was really very nice of him to do that, and we will cherish that. We will keep that, and we won’t even tell the press what’s in that letter."

Said Trump to reporters in the East Room of the White House.

The Daily News reports it as "joking."

Is it joking? They didn't get the letter yet did they? It's not as if Trump gives them everything they've been accustomed to feeling entitled to get. He didn't show them his tax returns.

I think Obama probably wrote something lovely, not so much to inspire and bless Trump as to have another turn on the stage after Trump took office. But Trump isn't giving him that. The show's over.

The NYT joins the violent fun: "Attack on Alt-Right Leader Has Internet Asking: Is It O.K. to Punch a Nazi?"

This isn't distanced journalism. This is an invitation to hate and exult in violence. Because it's okay if they're a Nazi.

Challenge yourself, New York Times. Ask first whether what you are doing is more Nazi-like.

You are amplifying violence, giving voice to the justification of violence, pointing at people as targets and amplifying the argument that they deserve violence, and seeming to preen at some delusion of being on the cutting edge. (And it's just sad that you think it's cool to see an internet meme and that there's something cool about Bruce Springsteen.)

There's also the irony of making a despicable character sympathetic.

The NYT article has a single author, Liam Stack:
Liam Stack covers breaking news and social and political issues for the New York Times express desk. An Arabic speaker, he worked for seven years as a Middle East correspondent, covering authoritarianism and revolution in the Arab world.
Interestingly, given the internet-savvy posing, the NYT does not have comments enabled for this article. I wanted to blog about the reaction of NYT readers, but there's nothing there. Why?

“Why did you start the fire?"/"Because I felt like it, and because I'm just saying, 'Screw our president!'"

Children in politics.

ADDED: Was it ethical of Fox News to show this clip?

"The incoming administration dismissed CNN and BuzzFeed News’s report as 'fake news,' a term now used by partisans and cynics to discredit reporting they don’t like. We should have seen that coming."

"BuzzFeed News’s reporting helped popularize the term to describe a new breed of fraudsters. But the dossier is a real document that has been influencing senior officials, lawmakers, intelligence agencies and, potentially, the new commander in chief. Nobody should fall for this attempt to turn the press on itself by making a reasonable debate about transparency into a media civil war. News organizations should instead consider this reality: Our audience inhabits a complex, polluted information environment; our role is to help them navigate it — not to pretend it doesn’t exist. The need to show our work and earn trust has never been more important, since once reliable official sources are peddling 'alternative facts' — as the White House press secretary did Saturday."

Writes Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed, in a NYT op-ed titled "Why BuzzFeed News Published the Dossier."

The term "alternative facts" came not from the press secretary, but from Kellyanne Conway, in a "Meet the Press" interview with Chuck Todd that I described as a 9-round fight, here. Chuck Todd kept asking Conway "why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood?"
And then we get the sound bite of the whole morning, as she attempts, at long last, to refute Todd's idea that it was a "provable falsehood":
What-- You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains--
Todd sees the gem he has caused to come into existence and plucks it out to hold in his hand and admire:
Wait a minute-- Alternative facts?
Conway tries to plow on, but he repeats the Conway's terrible phrase:
Alternative facts?... Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.
I scored a big win for Todd in what was Round 3. But in the comments at my post, I got more deeply into the question of what "alternative facts" means:
In context and read sympathetically, "alternative facts" doesn't mean that there are competing versions of the truth and you can refer to all of them as "facts."

Actually, that wouldn't bother me that much, because it would mean that the word "facts" was being used to mean "assertions of fact." Chuck Todd used the word "litigating," and in litigation there are factual issues, and litigants try to get the "fact-finder" to accept their assertions of fact as the facts. If one litigant states a fact — X is true — the other litigant may say X is not true. It would be awkward but understandable to call X and not-X "alternative facts."

But what I think Conway meant was that there are many different factual issues, and some people choose to forefront one factual issue — such as the size of the crowd at the Inauguration — when there are many other factual issues that could have been selected as the main story. There are "alternatives" in that you don't have to make such a big deal out of that one thing, and you could emphasizes something else. The "alternative facts" were all the other things that Trump did, good things, that would have put him in a good light, and the media is criticized for picking out the fact that diminished Trump.


A trending hashtag.

I refuse to accept the results of the AFC and NFC championship games.Tomorrow I'll be protesting, looting, and rioting. #NotMySuperBowl

But the Packers won the popular vote #NotMySuperBowl

We demand Tom Brady release his football air pressure statements. #NotMySuperBowl

"Isn't taking this job inherently an expression of willingness to lie for the President?"

"Since when is there outraged insistence that a presidential press secretary resign over the need to do what he knew all along was his job? Since Trump replaced Obama is the obvious answer."

But I don't think Spicer will last too long. He's too conspicuously uncomfortable and inept at the job. I don't think what he needed to say was necessarily an outright lie, and he could have developed a better way of casting doubt on the assertions about the Inauguration crowd size. If Spicer needs to resign, it's not because he "lied" but because he isn't wily and shameless enough to dance with truth and fiction in the usual style.

UPDATE: I'm listening to Spicer's news briefing this afternoon, and he seems fine.