zenpundit.com

Sports metaphor & politics, and much else besides, 1, pre-Flake

September 30th, 2018

[ By Charles Cameron — the crisis builds — everything up to but not including Sen Flake’s elevator epiphany ]
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Sen Graham acc BuzzFeed:

“Here’s what I’m more convinced of, my friends on the other side set it up to be just the way it is. I feel ambushed,” Graham told reporters, after Ford finished testifying…

Graham also dismissed the need for an FBI investigation, saying Ford had not provided enough detail to justify a search warrant or an arrest warrant. He also said an FBI investigation would take too long and he did not want to “reward” political gamesmanship.

**

Getting back to symmetry:

The symmetry with her own parentage was uncannily exact, for Catherine and Seymour were themselves in an incestuous match, Catherine being Henry VIII’s widow while Seymour was his brother-in-law (the king had married Seymour’s sister Jane). ..

and just a little earlier:

What could have induced the normally modest queen dowager to have become an actor in these strange games?

both from p 36 of Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom, by Charles Beauclerk

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Sen Hirono to CNN re re asterisk:

I don’t know, but what I really want to hear from this administration, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders is, there will be an FBI investigation. That is what we need. And I think most people who look at this process, and want some monochrome (ph) of fairness, would agree that we should have an FBI investigation.

But they continue to stonewall. And I think that they’re doing a tremendous disservice to the public – American people, as well as, should he get on the court, there will always be an asterisk, and a cloud, over his name, and on his name. And I think that is not what we want to do to the Supreme Court.

**

0/28/2018:

Sen. Whitehouse:

You do the basic blocking and tackling of investigation ..
The sand is running through Kavanaugh’s hourglass ..

Sen Cruz:

These aren’t pawns on a chessboard, they are real people..
We are living in a divided time. This country is divided right down the middle. In this polarized society we live in today, it’s almost tribalized. Where half of us wear one team’s jersey and the other half wear the other team’s jersey, and whatever we see, we see through the lens of our jersey ..

Sen Booker:

I’ve learned that, heck, from being a football player: between the whistles, you fight as hard as you can for that you believe, and if you want to call that partisanship, fine ..

This is not a partisan moment, this is a amoral moment ..

a time when the comedy {transcript} / comity [my guess} was deeper and greater

Sen Kennedy:

this is no country for creepy old men ..

Sen Klobuchar:

It’s not being run by we the people, it’s being run by we the ruling party ..

Sen Graham:

Somebody’s got to explain this to Trump, and I guess that’s my job.

**

a note — I’ll tend to add “tribal” and “tribalizing” to my list of items to note since tribalism is a major issue for David Ronfeldt, even though it has recently become mainstreamed and is therefore now frequently mentioned. I shall be looking in particular for original or extended usages.

**

Pres. Trump on Dr Ford:

**

Jon Meacham acc Breitbart:

Stephanie was calling it quite rightly the other land. The lane here, instead of Yes or No, was Let’s find out more — and that’s the lane that Flake has opened up.

the thing about tribalism .. level of hardball.. churchill.. off the cliff .. [details when transcript available]

Stephanie Ruhle:

the third lane is not a No or a Yes, it’s simply leaving the door open..

Adam Serwer, The Confirmation of Trumpism
The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh — and his angry, defiant response — have made him a fitting champion for the party of Trump.:

The most important lie that Kavanaugh told, however, was in his initial testimony. Echoing Thomas’s broken promise to avoid ideology as a judge, Kavanaugh initially proclaimed that “as Justice Kennedy showed us, a judge must be independent, not swayed by public pressure … The Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution. The justices on the Supreme Court do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle. They do not caucus in separate rooms. If confirmed to the Court, I would be part of a team of nine, committed to deciding cases according to the Constitution and laws of the United States. I would always strive to be a team player on the team of nine.”

Sports metaphor & politics, and much else besides, 2, post-Flake

September 30th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — after Sen Jeff Flake’s elevator epiphany and meet-up with his friend Chris Coons ]
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Jeff Flake’s Deal With Democrats Puts Kavanaugh’s Nomination in Limbo

A deeply divided Senate Judiciary Committee advanced President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, but final confirmation will depend on a reopened FBI inquiry.

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was all set to move unimpeded through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning.

Then Jeff Flake had a sudden change of heart.

Hours after declaring his support for Kavanaugh, the Arizona Republican simultaneously voted to advance the nomination in committee while warning party leadership that he would oppose President Trump’s nominee in a crucial floor vote unless and until the FBI conducts a further investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high-school party in 1982.

**

MTP Daily, 9/28/2018:

This is a Republican who’s retiring, this is a Republican who’s more free of the political calculus ..

In the political calculus of the moment ..

“We respect her” is the new “thoughts and prayers” ..

**

The Beat, with Ari Melber:

Within hours of that confrontation, Senator Flake did something we rarely see in this choreographed, partisanship era ..

Barbara Boxer:

Time is a friend of Justice ..

Margaret Judson:

How Do You Play a Porn Star in the #MeToo Era? With Help from an ‘Intimacy Director’

In this moment, we are watching Hollywood take the high ground over the United States government. That’s a huge red flag. That’s not how this should work.The government should be holding the higher moral standard, and Hollywood it.

This guy shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car.

Ari:

That was the Twilight Zone A Few Good Men. It’s like, he thought he had the closing speech in A Few Good Men, but for a lot of the country he was in a different movie ..

Hardball:

Tell me how the sequence worked that led to this overtime in the game, so to speak ..
It does seem they’ve got the fire power, the candle power ..
what kind of pandora’s box ..
You get two supreme court nominees in the ideology of your liking, that’s sort of like a pitcher in the major leagues winning over 20 games, i mean that’as a hell of a season, and now that season’s in real jeopardy ..
the tip box is big, and it’s open ..
next up, a hairline fracture in the partisanship that has come to define American politics ..
he’s not intimidated by the 9 out of 10 republicans who back trump in every single thing; the others are hog-tied ..
i was struck by a profile in democracy — here was a guy who held an elevator door. senators have their own elevators in order to keep those people out..
battle of the genders looks like a draw ..
sen klobuchar: the constitution does not say, We the ruling party, she constitution says, We the people..

All In with Chris Hayes 9/28/2018:

Sen Hirono: the FBI investigation has to be complete. It can’t be some cursory kind of investigation that gives cover to some wavering senators. It’s got to be real ..
a lot of people felt like something was wrong and breaking, i mean, wrong in that it felt like there was a kind of torture being imposed on dr blasey ford .. profound legitimacy crisis that we’re watching happen in slow motion ..
it does feel as though something is fundamentally breaking, and I almost appreciate the fact that in the end the republicans took the mask off, and stopped allowing their prosecutor to ask questions, they decided to turn it into a big political show you saw what their endgame was, not really getting to the truth, but doing whatever was necessary to try to jam him through ..

**

Maya Wiley:

like inside baseball with no fans ..

A bit obvious, but the title is worth noting:

The Hidden Moral Lessons in Your Favorite Childhood Games

They should have started with hide & seek, which is the topic of the Krishna Lila, love in separation & union..

Elon Musk vs. the SEC: The Tesla billionaire gears up for the fight of his career

He has fought back viciously by calling his opponents names like “saboteur,” “idiot” and “pedophile.” Now, Tesla chief Elon Musk is embracing the same kind of combative approach to wage the fight of his career against the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Musk is as close to sainthood as one can get in Silicon Valley, a sci-fi virtuoso who has captured imaginations with gambles on soaring rockets, electric supercars and brain-computer links. A critical element of his cult of personality: He rarely backs down from a fight.

That last paragraph has an interesting four-part evaluation of Musk: close to sainthood .. sci-f- virtuoso .. cult of personality — fight. If I was setting that para to music, it would definitely be on a descending arpeggio..

hit man .. sabotage

History doesn’t rhyme, it DoubleQuotes?

Shady Watergate Reporters Target Trump

Imagine a replay of Watergate –only worse.

In both the original and the replay, the same Washington D.C. reporter, whose parents were Communist Party members connected to Soviet atomic spies and who were under FBI surveillance for decades, teamed up with the same second D.C. reporter, who was outed as an “FBI asset,” to take down a sitting Republican President of the United States.

In both instances the “unnamed source” leaking information to these two reporters turned out to be the Deputy Director of the FBI.

This is a remake.

Some of the players have even reprised their old roles.

[ .. ]

This is stunning – decades apart in time two separate FBI Deputy Directors leaked information about the then-sitting President of the United States to a pair of reporters, one of whom hails from a family intertwined with the Soviet spy ring that handed America’s nuclear secrets to Joseph Stalin and the other of whom was an “FBI asset.”

Both of these FBI Deputy Directors had to know with whom they were dealing.

**

A brace of interesting articles, both by John Seabrook:

  • New Yorker, Don’t Shoot: A radical approach to the problem of gang violence [2009]
  • New Yorker, Operation Ceasefire and the Unlikely Advent of Precision Policing [2018]
  • Some high spots from the former:

    Captain Daniel Gerard, who took over Vortex in the fall of 2007, didn’t put much stock in their ideas. As he said, “Academia and law enforcement are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They like theories, we like results.”

    Kennedy was tall and slim, and in the dark clothes he favored there was something about him of the High Plains Drifter -— the mysterious stranger who blows into town one day and makes the bad guys go away. He wore a grizzled beard and had thick, unbound hair that cascaded halfway down his back. “What’s some guy who looks like Jesus got to tell us about crime in Cincinnati?” was the line around police headquarters.

    Kennedy had been approached by Dr. Victor Garcia, the head of the trauma unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who was seeing almost daily the effects of the city’s violent gangs: the stabbings, shootings, and beatings, and the injuries to innocent children caught in the crossfire. “Children with their eyes shot out, children paralyzed,” Garcia told me. “I started to wonder, instead of treating injuries, how can we prevent them from happening in the first place?”

    Often, much of the violence is caused by gang dynamics: score settling, vendettas, and turf issues, all played out according to the law of the streets.

    Whalen explained to me the C.P.D.’s distinction between social workers and cops: “Social people hug thugs. We kick their butts.”

    I particularly appreciate the echo of ““Academia and law enforcement are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They like theories, we like results” in “Whalen explained to me the C.P.D.’s distinction between social workers and cops: “Social people hug thugs. We kick their butts.””

    **

    Movie correlates:

    High Plains Drifter – A Shave and a Shootout:

    You Can’t Handle the Truth! – A Few Good Men:

    Decapitation — Variations on a theme by Vollmann

    September 24th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — preliminary to a rave review, i suspect, with Helena Bonham Carter as Red Queen thrown in ]
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    There’s an old English saying, presumably about the martyred King Charles I:

    The King walked and talked half an hour after his head was cut off..

    Young boys, getting acquainted with rules and grammar, and somewhat literal minded as a result, find this statement a paradox, which, however, can easily be resolved by the addition of a comma or perhaps better, a semicolon:

    The King walked and talked; half an hour after his head was cut off..

    Older boys quickly learn the (semicolon) reason of the riddle, and eagerly apply the first version to younger boys, the better to perplex and torment them. And thus both versions, the beauty of the paradox, the ease of its resolution, and the cruelty thus made available are transmitted across the generations..

    **

    I have written this because the beheading of a king clearly marked my young soul, as I was yesterday reminded by three passages from an Atlantic review of Vollmann‘s latest Opus — Magnum III at least [I, II, and let us not forget, gods I would love to read this, Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater]..

    Summits chopped off:

  • In West Virginia, mountains do not have their summits chopped off but are granted “removal of overburden.”
  • Decapitation:

  • His insatiable appetite for detail yields both irrelevant trivia (“Embarking on the Super Limited Hitachi Express, which was also known as the Super Hitachi 23 Limited Express”) and magisterial portraits of landscapes befouled by poking and prodding and, in the case of West Virginia’s mountains, decapitating.
  • Headless:

  • Vollmann breathes a cool wind “whose degree of particulate contamination was of course unknown,” hears on a silent street at night the grunting of a radioactive wild boar, and walks on broken glass through an abandoned clothing store advertising a 50 percent–off sale and peopled by headless mannequins.
  • Headless mannequins and radioactive wild boars — vivid metaphors, no? — we the humans have been brain-dead, and in all likelihood will continue so.

    **

    We’re all too familiar with images of ISIS executioners with their orange jump-suited prisoners, just prior to and after solo and group beheadings — as a corrective to the “it’s all Islam” narrative, here’s a para from an article titled Inside the Minds of Cartel Hitmen: Hannibal Lecters for Hire (which includes an interview with Robert Bunker that I will be taking a more extended look at now my review of JM Berger‘s new book. Extremism, is in):

    And the tactics employed in all that killing have become more and more gruesome over time. Maybe the rush felt by some murderers is like a drug itself, and they are junkies needing ever greater doses to get the same high. But how is it that ordinary people get hooked on activities like beheading, acid baths, and cannibalism?

    **

    Quoth the Red Queen: Off with their heads!

    JM Berger’s Extremism, from MIT Press. Brilliant.

    September 24th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — my third JM Berger review, following reviews of Jihad Joe and ISIS: State of Terror ]
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    I ordered a copy of JM Berger‘s Extremism months early from Amazon, having followed many of the posts in which he was formulating the insights that led to the book, and expecting a volume full of the very detailed diagrams and network analyses they contained:

    Image sources:

  • ICCT, Countering Islamic State Messaging Through “Linkage-Based” Analysis
  • Intelwire, EXTREMIST CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY
  • **

    These diagrams, and the research that underlies them — the work of JM and his colleague, Haroro J Ingram — attest to JM’s skill at the detailed drill-down level, the equivalent of rock-face drilling in a mine. The book couldn’t be further from my expectations: it attests to an entirely different set of skills, those of simplicity, grace, and a superb command of language.

    JM has the ability to communicate directly with a lay audience at their (our) level. He neither shies away from nuance nor adds needless complications — either of which would be a form of condescension to the reader.

    JM’s writing is direct and clean:

  • Terrorism is a tactic, whereas extremism is a belief system.
  • Extremism is a spectrum of beliefs, not necessarily a simple destination.
  • Group radicalization precedes individual radicalization
  • **

    Above are three of the pull-quotes, extracted from the book’s text, that state some of JM’s basic propositions on lucid, large-print, white on black pages, scattered as needed across the book’s 167 short pages (plus glossary, notes, bibliography, further reading, index)..

  • What extremism is, how extremist ideologies are constructed, and why extremism can escalate into violence
  • That’s the core proposition of the whole work, buttressed as it is with a wealth of detailed research and analysis. And radical…

    JM’s approach is already radical in its (his) refusal to treat only one ideological or religious frame for extremism. Studying both ISIS and home grown Identity groups, those who promote violence and those who arguably foreshadow it, led JM to see extremism itself as the most fruitful category to study — not terrorism, nor Islam, not the Citizen Sovereignty movement nor alt-right, but extremism tout court.

    That broadening of the frame allows Berger a set of analytic insights that were obscured by detail in earlier, more limited studies, and his book is the elegant formulation of those insights, simply, and with a forest of scholarship in support.

    **

    JM lists Impurity, Conspiracy, Dystopia, Existential threat, and Apocalypse as central “crisis narratives” utilized by in-groups as they view out-groups — but it is the in-group-out-group distinction which is central to his thinking, its wrongness characterized by the in-group’s paranoid conspiracist suspicions of the out-group’s impurity, dystopic being the nature of the world now ruled by the out-group, and to be abhorred or saved by the in-, with existential threat and apocalypse providing the sense of time-crunch, urgency.

    All this, I say, with a simplicity and elegance which belies the originality and scholarship that undergirds it.

    Above highly recommended.

    Sunday surprise — mourning, a global view

    September 23rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — starts with an anthro DoubleQuote inspired by this morning’s readings & a Steve Martin tweet — though in sensitive times it might be best not to chuckle, let alone guffaw, at strangers’ strange ways ]
    .

    One: The tearless eye of a NASA camera on the occasion of the Challenger blow-up:

    One of our reporters, who happened to be at a distant nasa base at the time, tells us that afterward a television monitor for nasa’s own internal satellite service kept on its screen a view from a camera on the beach at Cape Canaveral which had been following the spacecraft’s ascent. Now that camera simply stared searchingly out over the blue-gray sea to where it met the blue-gray sky, like a sailor’s widow gazing endlessly at the horizon. Twenty-eight years into the space age, the sea is as much a symbol of eternity as the sky. Both have swallowed up the Challenger and its crew, leaving behind a double emptiness of sea and space.

    Two: The professional Ghanaian substitute for tearless eyes:

    Here’s an account in the news:

    Ami Dokli is the leader of one of the several groups of professional mourners in Ghana. In a recent interview with BBC Africa, she said that some people cannot cry at their relatives’ funerals, so they rely on her and her team to do the wailing. Dokli and the other women in her team are all widows who, after their husbands died, decided to come together to help others give their loved-ones a proper send-off to the afterlife. But crying for strangers is not the easiest thing in the world, so professional mourners charge a fee for their services, the size of which is in direct relation to the size of the funeral. If it’s a big funeral, their tears cost more.

    And here’s an American FB version of the ad Steve Martin’s tweet captured:

    Do you want to boost your funeral? Hire me….the professional mourner to come and cry at the funeral. Below are the “Summer Special” prices:
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    1. Normal crying $50,
    2. Bahamian hollering $100,
    3. Crying and rolling on the ground $150,
    4. Crying and threatening to jump into the grave $200,
    5. Crying and actually jumping in the grave $1000

    That’s my DoubleQuote for the day.

    **

    A clutch of videos:

    Ghanaian Professional Wailing mourners:

    Promotional — funerala with a white lady mourner, extra:

    Ghanaian troupe of Dancing Pallbarers:

    Chinese professional mourning performer:

    N’Orleans Second Line:


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