March 24, 2018

WaPo fashion critic Robin Givhan is said to have "violated a sacred trust between women, black women" — "a complete violation of journalistic ethics and Black girl code"

The quotes — at Page Six — are from Jamilah Lemieux, who criticized Givhan for attending and writing about a BET Network event that had Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett on stage, talking about things like doing that White House vegetable garden so as not to seem like an angry black woman.
Lemieux later told us, “As I recall, at the start of the event, we were told that were in ‘safe space’ and to put our phones away. That, to me, is a clear indication that no one was to be reporting on this moment. Furthermore, I am surprised that Ms. Givihan thought that she was invited to the conference to serve in her capacity as a reporter considering that she was to serve on a panel and, thus, had her travel and accommodations covered by the organizers.... It is unfortunate that Ms. Givhan did not recognize that she was invited because she is a journalist of note and was thought to be someone who would benefit from the connections we have made and/or strengthened here this week. The expectation was, ostensibly, that she would be a great addition to this sister circle — not someone who made an outsider of herself by revealing things that were shared here.”
BET reacted to Givhan's column by kicking her out of the conference and cancelling the panel she had been invited to moderate. BET paid her expenses and now characterizes her as an "invited... guest (not working press)" and says "She was made aware that it was an intimate conversation in a sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship." Was she made to sign an agreement that she would not report on the event?  It sounds as though BET wanted the prestige of Givhan's attendance and did not explicitly restrict her, and she used her access like the journalist she is. The idea that events with important political figures talking about politics should be treated in a special confidential way is ridiculous.

Sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship? Politics is not religion and when it starts acting like it is, be alarmed.

If the event is off the record, and you've invited journalists, you need to make it clear that it's off the record. Declaring the room a "safe space" is vague bullshit, not, as Lemieux says, "a clear indication that no one was to be reporting on this moment." And putting phones away isn't a clear indication of anything other than a desire that the audience pay attention and not be rude.

Lemieux declares that Givhan was invted because she "was thought to be someone who would benefit from the connections." I doubt if Givhan saw it that way. I assume she thinks she is a big deal and that other people benefit from getting to connect with her! The presumption should be that it was worth it to her because she'd get material for her column, not that she's attending for sisterhood. But if you want to make it more of a religion-y concept and require sincere motives of sisterhood, you need to lay that out clearly, not spout puffy fluff like "safe space."

As for "Black girl code" — I'll have to look that up. I'm not a member of the purported religion. But I'm interested in the way human beings define themselves into groups and then discipline those they've appropriated as members. In that light, the conference name is fascinating: "Leading Women Defined." Fascinating and mind-bendingly ambiguous.

The Robin Givhan column is "Michelle Obama wanted to gain the public’s trust. So she started with a garden." I suspect that some of the anger is because the column isn't fawning enough. But I'll do a separate post about the substance of the column.

"In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published 'Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,' an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis...."

"Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument.... In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of 'biological race.' Instead, it was argued, race is a 'social construct,' a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries. It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true... that human populations 'are remarkably similar to each other' from a genetic point of view. But over the years this consensus has morphed, seemingly without questioning, into an orthodoxy.... The orthodoxy goes further, holding that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations.... I have deep sympathy for the concern that genetic discoveries could be misused to justify racism. But as a geneticist I also know that it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among 'races.' Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing technology have been made over the last two decades.... I am worried that well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science.... It is important to face whatever science will reveal without prejudging the outcome and with the confidence that we can be mature enough to handle any findings. Arguing that no substantial differences among human populations are possible will only invite the racist misuse of genetics that we wish to avoid."

From "How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of 'Race'" by Harvard genetics professor David Reich (NYT).

"Being a white guy with a guitar was, as it turns out, not that special."

"I started playing guitar when I was 13. I grew up playing guitar and writing music and I always wanted to be a songwriter and a singer and play the guitar. But while I was finishing college, my drag became lucrative, so I had to pursue what was going to pay the bills — and doing comedy as Trixie was something that I was able to market. Being a white guy with a guitar was, as it turns out, not that special."

Says Brian Firkus, talking to NPR. Here's a video of Firkus as the white guy with guitar that he is and as his drag character Trixie Mattel (who won the just-concluded season of "RuPaul's Drag Race"):

Also from the interview:
Country and folk are genres where characters are really central — you get really into the heart of a person in a song, or there's a very specific story being told. I feel like there's a little bit of that in your drag too.

With Trixie, people like that I look like this fabricated painted creation, but all my comedy and my songs come from a place of reality. It's like the man behind the curtain, it's the crying clown — that's what works for people with Trixie. It's the dichotomy of someone looking like a toy, but then, you know, speaking and singing like a real boy....

In terms of country and folk music — it feels like you're bringing this very explicitly gay perspective into genres that aren't necessarily known for embracing those perspectives.

I think my music is not so much about being gay; my music is about being a human being. It's not about gay relationships; it's about relationships. It's not about feeling like an outsider because you're gay. Maybe it's just about feeling like an outsider. It's funny selling records of this type in this world ... if you look at those publications or those websites, I'm nowhere to be found. It's very weird to be, like, infiltrating....

We are all just, like, hot gluing our clothes on every day to go out into the world and do a job we're not sure we're supposed to be doing. RuPaul says we're all born naked the rest is drag. We're literally all just pretending to be someone — we don't realize how much we're all exactly the same.

March 23, 2018

At Diana's Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And you can buy what you want though the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Why is President Trump threatening to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill?

Not because of too much spending....
I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.

"The political action committee founded by John R. Bolton, President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, was one of the earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica...."

"... which it hired specifically to develop psychological profiles of voters with data harvested from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, according to former Cambridge employees and company documents.... The contract broadly describes the services to be delivered by Cambridge as 'behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.'... 'The Bolton PAC was obsessed with how America was becoming limp wristed and spineless and it wanted research and messaging for national security issues,” [said Christopher Wylie, a data expert who was part of the team that founded Cambridge Analytica]. 'That really meant making people more militaristic in their worldview,' he added. 'That’s what they said they wanted, anyway.' Using the psychographic models, Cambridge helped design concepts for advertisements for candidates supported by Mr. Bolton’s PAC.... One advertisement, a video that was posted on YouTube, was aimed at people who scored high for conscientiousness, and were thought to respect hard work and experience. It emphasized Mr. Bolton’s time working for Ronald Reagan and how [a candidate] embodied the spirit and political ethos of the late president."

From "Bolton Was Early Beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook Data" (NYT).

"It was kind of obvious that there was an attraction — from his part to me."

I haven't watched the whole thing. That quote happens in the first 2 minutes. We had to pause to laugh a lot. Meade went into an extended comic rant in which Trump's penis was likened to a divining rod...

ADDED: I really don't have the patience to sit through the whole video, so let me snag a few quotes from the NPR article, because there is something I want to say if I can find my way to it:
Once, she said, he even took her to the apartment in Trump Tower that he lived in with his wife and their young son, Barron. "Aren't you afraid to bring me here?"

"They won't say anything," Trump supposedly said. He showed her around the "very gold" apartment and pointed out Melania's room saying, "she likes to get away to read."... "Doing something wrong is bad enough and when you're doing something wrong and you're in the middle of somebody else's home or bed or whatever, that just puts a little stab in your heart," she said.

There's just no stopping the Tyrannosaurus rex... once he starts going up in flames.

Via "Giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex goes up in dramatic flames in Colorado" (WaPo).
The 24-foot-tall reptile replica at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience was set ablaze by an electrical malfunction in the early afternoon, the park’s owners said in a Facebook post. After smoldering for about 10 minutes, huge flames engulfed the creature, whose motorized head and jaws sway as parkgoers pass by....

When it finally extinguished, the T. rex’s metal skeleton was still standing silhouetted in the afternoon light, its poorly-evolved, disproportionately-small arms bent plaintively toward the sky.
Oh, come on, that's just mean, calling attention to the poor guy's tiny arms in his time of greatest anguish.

The Cardi-B anti-tax rant.

Language warning (she keeps asking what "y'all are doing with my fucking money"):

I'm not sure if this is stupid — like she just noticed that when you make a fair amount of money the government takes a 40% cut — or hilarious — "When you donate, like, to a kid from a foreign country, they give you updates of what they're doing with your donation, I want updates on my tax money!"

Via The Daily Mail.

ADDED: Also in The Daily Mail: "'Nobody gives a f***:' Cardi B says the #MeToo movement doesn't care about women in hip hop":
'A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a f***,' the brash rapper began. 'When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, "You want to be on the cover of this magazine?" Then they pull their d***s out. 'I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, 'So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.'"

And the starlet wasn't giving the men supporting #MeToo much credit, telling Cosmo: 'These producers and directors, they’re not woke, they’re scared.'
AND: I had not seen the term "video vixen" before. Obviously, I could understand the meaning from the context, but I wanted to know more about whether it's something like a standard job title. Wikipedia has an article on the subject:
A video vixen (also hip hop honey or video girl[2]) is a female model who appears in hip-hop-oriented music videos. The video vixen image has become a staple and a nuanced form of sex work within popular music; especially within the genre of hip-hop. Many video vixens are aspiring actors, singers, dancers, or professional models. Women from various cultures have been portrayed either as fragile, manipulative, fetishistic, or submissive within contemporary music lyrics, videos, concert and movie soundtracks, although this is not universal, as demonstrated by the archetypal ride-or-die chick.
"Ride-or-die chick" has its own article:
A "ride-or-die chick", in the hip hop culture, is a woman willing to support her partner and his illicit lifestyle despite how this might endanger or harm her. Sometimes this is portrayed as a more passive "support and love regardless of their transgressions" role, but oftentimes it requires women to take an active role in these transgressions and manifests in a "willingness to help men in dangerous situations," and "a sense of shared risk." It is often referred to as a hip hop manifestation of the Bonnie and Clyde dynamic.

An ear for Wisconsin Supreme Court politics.

Judicial elections are kind of ridiculous. What are candidates supposed to say other than: I'm dedicated to following the law or (a bit edgier) I share your values? If we show up to the polls at all, it's probably because we've figured out one is the conservative and one is the liberal and we've somehow arrived at the belief that conservative judges are better or liberal judges are better. It's a dreary business!

But the Wisconsin Supreme Court race just got way more amusing. David Blaska sets up the newly — comically — sharpened contrast:
At Pints and Politics on March 6, Supreme Court candidate Michael Screnock gave a nice talk and then strapped on his tuba and tooted On Wisconsin and the Bud Song with other UW-Madison marching band alumns.

When you play Wisconsin, that says it all. Contrast that bit of down home Badgering with Rebecca Dallet dancing for dollars in Nancy Pelosi’s high-toned Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco.

“Rebecca Dallet tells San Francisco she wishes Wisconsin shared their values.” (Story here) (Audio here.)

This is what is known as an unforced error. Michael Screnock thanks you very much.
I've listened to the Dallet-in-San-Francisco audio, and she portrays herself as needing to catch up with all the conservative money that's come in to support her opponent. The non-Wisconsin money people helping Screnock are what's propelled her from her Midwest home.

And she does try to portray herself as embodying Wisconsin values. If you look at her quotes, she's saying things like "I know that your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way" and "So we made a choice to move to Wisconsin because it had the progressive values, a lot of things you have here in your city still which we kind of lost." That is, the real Wisconsin values are progressive values. She's not out to import San Francisco values, but to restore true Wisconsin values, and people with San Francisco values should want to help her, because these are the same values. But that's just me calmly explaining a fine point of rhetoric.

Visual persuasion dominates, as Scott Adams loves to tell us. From his book, "Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter":
Our visual sense changes what we are hearing in real time, even when we know the illusion.... Humans are visual creatures. We believe our eyes before we believe whatever faulty opinions are coming from our other senses. So if you want to persuade, use visual language and visual imagery. The difference in effectiveness is enormous....
Much more in that book about how Trump used visual persuasion. I just want to express awe at the the side-by-side visuals that now crowd out the niceties of rhetoric in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election. On the left, we see Rebecca Dallet out there in San Francisco, and on the right, we see Michael Screnock with a big old tuba strapped over his big belly.  What does it matter what anybody says?

"Althouse also wrote a blog post about how free speech is much, much more than just a 1st Amendment protection."

"I've tried twice in earnest to find it, but the 'free speech' tags are endless," wrote Browndog in in the comments to yesterday's post about Facebook. That post ended with these 2 questions, "What about the freedom of speech of users of Facebook? Is Facebook unduly censoring speech based on political viewpoint?"

In that post, I linked to a post of mine from March 27, 2011 — "The Bob Wright/Ann Althouse email exchange about what free speech means in the context of saying Roger Ailes needs to kick Glenn Beck off Fox News" — so that shouldn't be what Browndog means. There I said:
Back on February 2, I wrote “When did the left turn against free speech?” and used some clips from a Bloggingheads I did with Bob Wright, in which I talked about free speech values and rejected Bob's attempt to restrict the idea of free speech to the constitutional right to free speech, which only deals with the problem of government restrictions on speech. The text of my post, however, doesn't restate our disagreement about the meaning of the term, and Bob emailed me to complain. And then last Friday, I did another Bloggingheads, and Bob brought up his beef about the definition of the term again. So I invited him to give me permission to publish the whole email exchange, and he agreed, so here goes...
That's a long post, but I think this is closest to what Browndog was looking for:
My standard free speech answer is going to be in favor of expression, access to expression, and more speech, not repression of speech and not cutting off conversations that are still in play because they offend some other people who think the conversation should have already ended....

So if Google or Facebook, private corporations, took steps to squelch free speech[,] that would just not even make sense to you as a concept because they can't affect free speech since they are not the government? If people organized and regularly showed up at events to shout down speakers they disapproved of, it would be incoherent to urge them to respect free speech[?]...

As for the right to free speech, the First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech." Just on that text alone, you can see that there are 2 different things "the freedom of speech" and the specific direction to Congress not to abridge it. Now, if you say freedom of speech is nothing more than the direction to government not to abridge the freedom of speech, try to picture what the text would need to be: "Congress shall make no law... abridging Congress's proscription against abridging the freedom of speech" which would make no sense at all. The freedom of speech is something which we enjoy, and the Constitution bars Congress's interference with it.
Maybe that is what Browndog had in mind, but I looked through the archive. (My method was to click on the Facebook tag, then search the page for "free.") Here's what I came up with, from oldest to newest:

January 3, 2009: There was Facebook group called "I Wonder How Quickly I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Support Israel" that, noting that the First Amendment only limits government, pressured Facebook to enforce its own Terms of Use that barred "any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable." I said:
Sorry. My free speech values extend a lot farther than what's protected by the First Amendment. And I think Facebook's Terms of Use are horrifyingly restrictive. Censoring everything "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable"? Ridiculous! I'd rather join a Facebook group called "Facebook's Terms of Use Are an Affront to Free Speech."
January 16, 2015: "After the [Paris] massacre, Mark Zuckerberg justifies Facebook censorship":
"It wasn’t just a terrorist attack about just trying to do some damage and make people afraid and hurt people. This was specifically about people’s freedom of expression and ability to say what they want. That really gets to the core of what Facebook and the internet are, I think, and what we’re all here to do. We really stand up and try to make it so that everyone can have as much of a voice as possible,” [Zuckerberg] said....

When I started to read Zuckerberg's remarks, I thought they were going to go somewhere else. I thought he was going to say that by creating a more friendly environment within Facebook, more people would be encouraged to join and participate, and that would ultimately provide more speech for more people. The nasty, ugly speech would be silenced, but it could go elsewhere, and he was trying to facilitate speech by those who feel intimated or bullied or offended by the speech of others. But Zuckerberg is only justifying Facebook censorship as a response to repression coming from foreign governments.
April 16, 2016: "Internal poll at Facebook: 'What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?'"
It is true that Facebook would be protected by the First Amendment, even as it screwed with the freedom of speech of over a billion human beings. What's tremendously important here is to maintain pressure on Facebook to respect our freedom. We don't have a legal right to assert against Facebook, but that is absolutely not a reason to give up and let Facebook do what it wants to repress speech. We have moral, political, social, and economic power, and we should assert it. We assert it through — of all things — speech. It can be very effective... which is why we care about free speech in the first place. Even where you don't have a legal right, as long as you are still speaking, you have the power of speech, and the urge to repress it occurs because the speech is effective. The trick is to use speech to convince the would-be repressers not to repress speech.
November 15, 2016: "Facebook, don't even try to censor fake news. You can't draw that line, and you shouldn't want to":
I absolutely do not trust Facebook to decide what's fake and what's not fake, so I'm with Zuckerberg here... The chance that such a power would be used in a politically biased way is approximately 100%. I don't know how much Zuckerberg is really committed to the freedom of speech, but I think he knows if Facebook started deeming some political stories "fake" and taking action against them, Facebook would be accused of bias and censorship and it wouldn't be good for Facebook, the business.... Those of us who care about freedom of speech should try to make it vividly apparent to the people of Facebook that censorship will hurt them economically. You can't trust them to believe in freedom of speech. They've already got a heated-up, self-righteous band of insiders who think censorship is the cutting edge.

March 22, 2018

At the Early Spring Café...

... subtle perfection.

Talk about anything.

Because I wrote about my email from Josh Ernest (for the Democratic Party), I should tell you what I got from the other side.

Both parties sent me fund-raising email today, and I went on at length about Ernest's urgings, so let me do a post for what I got from the GOP side. It's from Donald J. Trump. Subject line: "Russia."

I will not hide from the truth -- this is a WITCH HUNT.

Nancy Pelosi is now using the Russia witch hunt as a political ploy to RAISE MONEY from her supporters who still can’t accept that you voted to Make America Great Again!
He doesn't know if I voted for him, of course. He (i.e., whoever's writing this) would rather fake closeness to the people who voted for him and not worry about sloshing over onto people who didn't, because there's more to gain from reinforcing the closeness than from the off chance of drawing in some who 1. didn't vote for him, but 2. would feel put off by his purporting to know how they voted, and 3. didn't vote for him, even though 4. they're on this GOP mailing list.
We cannot let the swamp get away with using our government as a weapon to overturn elections and silence millions of American voters....

Why are they launching a witch hunt?
It's an argument of simple epithets: swamp and witch hunt.
Because they don’t want to Make America Great Again for YOU.
Nancy and her supporters aren't against me, specifically. They're against Trump, but the idea is that I should identify Trump with things that are for me. She's the swamp, and Trump is us. To be fair, he does proceed to list — incredibly simply — the elements of greatness (phrased as things Nancy and company are against):
They don’t want a wall. They don’t want to stop the endless flow of illegal immigrants. They don’t want Americans’ wages to rise. They don’t want to stop nation-building abroad. They don’t want to help hardworking Americans. They don’t want a fair economy that works for ALL Americans.

But I will keep fighting for you. This is what you voted for -- and this is what you deserve after so many years of broken promises by lying politicians.
The message is clear: illegal immigration is the central problem. And yet the subject line was "Russia." I guess the idea is the Democrats are talking about Russia, but it's fake, a big distraction from what really matters: illegal immigration.

"I am gravely concerned, Ann," emails Josh Earnest on behalf of the Democratic Party.

Gravely, eh? That's spooky. I'm scared! Josh Earnest was Obama's White House Press Secretary. (Had you forgotten? I had.) He says:
When I was press secretary for President Obama, my strategy was simple: I spoke directly with the president and didn't make a habit of lying to the American people.
Well, of course, you don't want to make a habit of lying to the American people. That's just pathological. A good press secretary lies when it serves a specific purpose. If you just make a habit out of lying, you lose the advantage of all the times when saying what's true is actually in your interest and you miss all the cute chances — like the one you're using here, Josh — where telling a cagy truth works the same way as a good straightforward bald-faced lie.*
You and I both know that's not how the Trump administration operates. Between the constant staff upheaval and drama, the rogue tweets, and overall failure to put the interests of the American people first, it's clear this administration is in utter chaos.
Apparently, Josh wants me to feel like I'm in a special club with him — "You and I" — and we have knowledge together and there's chaos. We "know"! Eh. I don't know. What makes tweets "rogue"? I don't even get the concept. Seems to me, Trump just talks to us directly when he's got something he wants to say.

He may be a rogue ("A dishonest, unprincipled person; a rascal, a scoundrel" or "A mischievous person, esp. a child; a person whose behaviour one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likeable or attractive" (OED)), but I don't agree that the tweets are rogue ("Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time" or "Inexplicably faulty or defective" (OED)).

And I really don't like seeing characterizations like that portrayed as "knowledge," especially when I'm being roped into it. I supposedly "know" things I don't even believe. And yet it's "clear" that there's "chaos"... and not just chaos, "utter chaos."

I feel like some clown named Josh just popped in to madly gesticulate and grimace. You're not going to alarm and activate me like that. But I never give money, so I'm just a recipient of over-inclusive email. I could unsubscribe, but then I couldn't write posts like this. You have my data and I have yours. You have your channels of communication, and I have mine.

Skipping ahead in that email:
I am deeply concerned that the Trump administration is doing lasting damage to the bond between the American people and their government -- and I can imagine you feel the same way.
I appreciate that he's admitting it's just his imagination now, but I must say I feel a little creeped out by the notion of a "bond between the American people and their government" that must be preserved. I believe in maintaining a separation between oneself and the government. It's dangerous for individuals to feel bonded to government. That sounds like fascism. I think if Trump is making individuals feel less oneness with government, that's good. I'm not a fan of chaos, but too much order is fascistic. I like my distance, separation, and objectivity. One thing I love about Trump — which was not true of Obama — is that we all feel so free and energized to criticize and insult him and just hate him. It's so wholesome... health-giving... salubrious.**


* Yesterday, when I was complaining about Hillary, I said:
Hillary Clinton's approach to communication is so annoying. I'm not a Trump fan, but he's at least a straight talker — even when lying! It works for his fans and his antagonists. He's energizing. She, on the other hand, is such a pain. Imagine having to follow the daily blather of President Hillary Clinton.
Not all my readers share my sense of humor. Some people took the trouble to write comments telling me it didn't make sense to say that someone who was lying could be a straight talker. It makes sense to me. That's why you can have a bald-faced lie. Would you prefer a hairy-faced lie? More of a bearded hipster character?

** I love that word, "salubrious." It reminds me of the hardest I ever laughed during a live theater performance, as I told you — if you were reading back then — in 2004:
The play was [Turgenev's] "A Month in the Country," and at the beginning of a scene, where a number of things were going on, a minor character came out and said "The weather is very salaboobious today." Now that was supposed to be funny, but it was just way too funny compared to everything else that surrounded it, and in fact it brought peals of laughter that continued far into the scene.

"This is the first time that I've suspected that a WaPo editorial was driven by the interests of its owner and it's own business model rather than a stance on the merits."

A comment at the Washington Post editorial "Let’s take a deep breath about Facebook’s ‘breach of trust.'" (The editorial ends: "Facebook and others are under enormous pressure to behave more as publishers responsible for their content than as neutral platforms. They should not resist. Facebook faces a related set of questions about manipulation of the platform in the 2016 campaign... All of this should be pursued in the spirit of perfecting rules of the road to keep social networks free and open. In the end, they should remain what they are, great sharing machines.")

The owner of WaPo is Jeff Bezos, so what's his connection to Facebook? He's an investor in Facebook. I saw a comment (which I can't find anymore) that he lost billions when Facebook stock slid this week. Trying to research that factoid, I found this article from yesterday: "Jeff Bezos Is Now $40 Billion Richer Than Anyone Else on Earth."
But since the start of 2018, Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth skyrocket compared to his billionaire peers.... At the close of the stock market on Tuesday, the index estimated Jeff Bezos’ net worth at a whopping $132 billion. That’s thanks to Amazon’s stock price, which has jumped roughly 40% so far in 2018.... That’s obviously enough to make Bezos the world’s richest person. What’s particularly astounding is that no one else is even in the same ballpark as Amazon’s founder.
What do you think? Is he so rich it's stupid to think he cares what slant the piddling Washington Post takes in its editorials or is the Washington Post central to his machinations and part of why Amazon is up 40% in 2018?

If you go to the editorial urging gentle treatment of Facebook, you'll see, at the bottom, a list of additional Facebook related articles in WaPo:
Anne Applebaum: Does Cambridge Analytica have my data? I have no idea. That’s the problem.

Sandy Parakilas: I worked at Facebook. I know how Cambridge Analytica could have happened.

Jennifer Rubin: If Facebook isn’t forthcoming, voters might opt to ‘unfriend’ the network

Karen Tumulty: Maybe we should be thanking Facebook

The Post’s View: China’s intrusive, ubiquitous, scary surveillance technology
Does that all sound like gentle treatment of Facebook? Well, yeah, it kind of does.... especially since it leaves out an ungentle treatment of Facebook that's also currently in WaPo, "Yes, we should be outraged about Facebook" by E.J. Dionne.

Dionne writes: "We must decide when Facebook and comparable companies should be held accountable as public utilities." Notice how closely that tracks the line from the editorial I quoted in the first paragraph of this post: "Facebook and others are under enormous pressure to behave more as publishers responsible for their content than as neutral platforms. They should not resist."

Dionne continues: "And when do they look more like publishers who bear responsibility for the veracity of the 'information' they spread around?" Well, if they are publishers, then they have freedom of speech, which means they have less responsibility and can lie and distort and pass along private information (subject to very few legal limits) just like the Washington Post.

More Dionne: "We also need to confront conflicts between the public interest and the ways that social media companies make their profits. Where do privacy rights come in? Are they unduly blocking transparency about how political campaigns are conducted and who is financing them? Were they indifferent to their manipulation by foreign powers?" The questions he forgets/declines to ask: What about the freedom of speech of users of Facebook? Is Facebook unduly censoring speech based on political viewpoint?

(By the way, I hope some of you remember how vehemently I took the position (back in 2011) that free speech on Facebook matters even though Facebook is a private company. I had a big email debate about it with Bob Wright (after a Bloggingheads discussion). You can read that here.)

Jeffrey Toobin vs. Alan Dershowitz.

I got to that via a WaPo piece titled "Jeffrey Toobin to his former professor Alan Dershowitz: ‘What’s happened to you?,'" which makes it seem as though Toobin got the better of Dershowitz, which is certainly not how I would score it. The clip ends with Dershowitz giving a definitive defense of himself as consistent on rule-of-law arguments: "I’m not carrying [Trump's] water. I’m saying the exact same thing I’ve said for 50 years. And Jeffrey, you ought to know that, you were my student.The fact that it applies to Trump now rather than applying to Bill Clinton is why people like you have turned against me."

In the WaPo article, but not in the clip:
“None of my liberal friends invite me to dinner anymore,” he said. “Thanks to Donald Trump, I’ve lost seven pounds. I call it the Donald Trump diet.”
Just use the other Donald Trump diet: McDonald's.  But I love the (presumably humorous) notion that the only way for a liberal elitist to get fed is by inclusion in dinner parties.

First, he was Hitler, then... then... then... and now, it's down to this:

From the front page of The Washington Post today.

Trump responds to Joe Biden's threatening to beat him up.

We talked about Biden's threat here, yesterday. (You can read Biden's quote there.)

This Trump vs. Biden fight/"fight" is... free polls

"I am so gratified by the reaction to my little drawings. It is the job of a political cartoon to vex those who abuse power or enable those abuses."

"This administration has been lying to the American people from day one while plundering the country and debasing our values. And those who cover for this shameful mobster of a President are putting makeup on a melanoma and telling the cancer patient that everything’s fine. Monstrous? You bet!"

Said Jim Carrey, responding to criticism of his caricature of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which he'd captioned — without using her name — "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!"

We talked about it here (where you can see the drawing, which is pretty good).

As I said at the older posts: "It's a well-done caricature. The caption is fitting as an expression of his point of view." What I'd say about his reaction is: He's right to feel good that he vexed the people he wanted to vex. That is what political cartoons should want to do.

March 21, 2018

At the Mystical Mendota Café...

... say what you will.

The video is intended mainly as audio. Lake Mendota was emitting unearthly sounds today. Whatever was going on with the ice today was just fantastic.