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a blog by Ann Althouse

"In the weeks while the House select committee to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol was finishing its report, Donald Trump, the focus of its inquiry, betrayed no sense of alarm or self-awareness...."

So begins "The Devastating New History of the January 6th Insurrection/The House report describes both a catastrophe and a way forward" by David Remnick, in The New Yorker.

I'm not reading this article. (It would take a lot to get me to read a January 6th article at this point.) I just thought that was a very funny sentence.

What would it take for Donald Trump to "betray" a "sense" of "alarm" or "self-awareness"? Why doesn't David Remnick betray a sense of alarm or self-awareness? Are we, generally, supposed to betray a sense of alarm or self-awareness? Is that something good people do? I guess it's something guilty people do, if they're good people who are not good at being guilty.

But it's just hilarious to imagine a Donald Trump who: 1. Feels that he is guilty and 2. Cannot cover up his feeling. How would we even begin to recognize such a creature to be Donald Trump?

I'm considering becoming the blogger who finds articles that I refuse to read, then reading just the first sentence, and blogging that and only that.

Biden called Trump "very gracious and generous" and — shocked by his own generosity? — changed it to "Shockingly gracious."

I'm reading the Politico report on a new book about Biden, "The Fight of His Life" (by Chris Whipple).

DONALD TRUMP followed a tradition carried out by several of his predecessors and wrote Biden a letter before leaving the Oval Office. Biden’s reaction? “That was very gracious and generous…Shockingly gracious.”

Any graciousness is shocking these days. 

Biden caught himself uttering a bit of graciousness about Trump — calling him "very gracious and generous" — but he couldn't let it stand. It required immediate poisoning. It had to become an occasion for commentary on how Trump is generally to be considered a man incapable of graciousness and generosity. Trump, we all must know, is, overall, a boorish lout.

That perfectly kind letter, following the standard etiquette, had to be repurposed as an occasion for comment on how awful and abnormal Trump is on seemingly every other occasion.

What was more shocking — that Trump left an appropriate and traditional letter or that Biden uttered a simple compliment acknowledging Trump's act? What's not shocking at all is that Biden immediately and impulsively tainted his own compliment.

Dave Chappelle hosted "SNL" last night. Here's the monologue.

There's a lot of talk about Kanye West. Chappelle takes a cagey position, neither attacking him nor supporting him: "I don't think Kanye is crazy.... He's possibly not well."

Then there's a long pause and an extended run-up to a big leap: "I've been to Hollywood." Pause. "I don't want y'all to get mad at me. I'm just telling you. I've been to Hollywood. This is just what I saw." Pause. "It's a lot of Jews." Pause. "Like a lot."

"But that doesn't mean anything." That's a setup. Punchline: "There's a lot of black people in Ferguson, Missouri. That doesn't mean they run the place."

It's not a crazy thing to think: "The Jews run show business." Pause. "But it's a crazy thing to say out loud." He said out loud. 

And that was the end of the Kanye and anti-Semitism portion of the monologue, very carefully written and delivered. That was halfway point, and he paused after saying the "crazy thing" out loud, and started talking about the midterm elections. Hershel Walker: "I don't want to speak bad of him — because he's black, but, um" — pause — "He's observably stupid."

Chappelle hears people saying the Trump Era is over, but he needs to explain something that he knows, because he lives in Ohio, "amongst the poor whites." Trump is loved. And the reason he is loved is because people have never seen anything like him: "an honest liar."

Mystic, part 2.

Here I am at 4 in the morning reading the OED entry for "mystic." See previous post for context. 

I have to open a new post to show you something I found that has nothing to do with the "mystical cord" [sic] that was or may have been Queen Elizabeth. 

For years now, I've run into the name Donald Trump not only in the many, many stories about him but in all sorts of articles that have nothing to do with him. Just now, I found this in the OED, under the meaning "Of or relating to mysterious or occult rites or practices":

1577   in T. Thomson Acts & Proc. Kirk of Scotl. (1839) I. 384   The heid given to the laird of Dun..being thocht be him obscure and mystick....
1644    J. Milton Doctr. Divorce (ed. 2) 42   Their filthines was hid, but the mystick reason therof known to their Sages.
1697    J. Dryden tr. Virgil Æneis  i, in tr. Virgil Wks. 212   I have search'd the Mystick Rolls of Fate [L. fatorum arcana].
1725    W. Broome in A. Pope et al. tr. Homer Odyssey III.  xi. 59   And mutter'd vows, and mystic song apply'd To griesly Pluto, and his gloomy bride.
1785    R. Burns Poems 59   When Masons' mystic word an' grip, In storms an' tempests raise you up.
1805    W. Scott Lay of Last Minstrel  v. xxvii. 151   Cared not the Ladye to betray Her mystic arts in view of day....
1911    F. H. Burnett Secret Garden xxiv. 261   Every beautiful morning the Magic was worked by the mystic circle under the plum-tree.
1996    Spy (N.Y.) Apr. 28/1   Short-fingered acolyte Donald Trump may have been introduced to the mystic secrets of the East by dim New-Agey trophy wife Marla.
Look at Spy Magazine, in there with all those exalted poets. I remember when Spy Magazine was new, and I read it throughout its run (1986 to 1998). I remember when the main thing I knew about Donald Trump was that Spy Magazine would always call him "short-fingered." Those were simpler times. 

Ah! I've found the old issue of Spy — here. It's an article about Feng Shui, analyzing various NYC buildings, with the help of R.D. Chin. Here's what the OED found worthy of its list of "mystic" quotes:

Mystic, part 2. Mystic, part 2. 

And right next to that:

  Mystic, part 2.
Yes, those were simpler times. You could joke about "the bombers" — the 1993 bombers. Energy goes in cycles....

We don't joke about improving the energy of the World Trade Center with chintz curtains anymore. We don't fixate on the size of Donald Trump hands. And it's been a long time since it seemed pleasingly cheeky to say things like "mystic secrets of the East."

"In a style that mixed a kind of faux-caveman brutishness and message-board pidgin with classical references, Bronze Age Pervert informed his readers..."

"... that 'you don’t see yourself as you really are' because 'spiritually your insides are all wet, and there’s a huge hole through where monstrous powers are [expletive] your brain, letting loose all your life powers of focus.'... The book... was significant because it spoke directly 'to a youthful dissatisfaction (especially among white males) with equality as propagandized and imposed in our day: a hectoring, vindictive, resentful, leveling, hypocritical equality that punishes excellence and publicly denies all difference while at the same time elevating and enriching a decadent, incompetent and corrupt elite.' Bronze Age Pervert regarded the founders’ idea of rights, the very bedrock of the American political tradition, as false.... Conservatives didn’t have to agree with any of this, but they did need to acknowledge that 'in the spiritual war for the hearts and minds of the disaffected youth on the right, conservatism is losing. BAPism is winning.'"

From "How the Claremont Institute Became a Nerve Center of the American Right/They made the intellectual case for Trump. Now they believe the country is in a cultural civil war" (NYT). The article is by Elisabeth Zerofsky, but she's quoting Michael Anton, a Claremont Institute fellow who wrote an essay about the Bronze Age Pervert book.

Anton told Zerofsky that he initially assumed Trump was "a buffoon" with "nothing serious" about him and that, "therefore no serious person could possibly support him or make an argument on his behalf," but "And then we [the Claremont Institute] did it." 
Trump’s boorishness is of a piece with what some of them view as the rough-and-tumble nature of political life. “The philosophers that we tend to study are not deluded about this,” Anton told me. “Aristotle, in the treatise, explains how the actual practice of politics can be bare knuckle in lots and lots of ways.” On an American Mind podcast last year, Anton reflected that what is “too insufficiently remembered is that a lot of what went down in revolutions was rough stuff. We have a picture of dignified men in Independence Hall deliberating and debating. And all that happened, I don’t discount that. But there was a lot of other stuff going on, too.”

Elon Musk said he will reverse Twitter's permanent ban on Donald Trump and that he opposes permanent bans generally....

... because they "just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter." He said: "If there are tweets that are wrong and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible, and a suspension — a temporary suspension — is appropriate, but not a permanent ban.'"

Intelligencer reports. 

Musk was speaking at a conference in London.

Trump, it should be remembered, has said he won't return to Twitter, but I suspect he'll change his mind

Here's the video. Note that Musk says the decision to ban Trump was "morally bad and foolish in the extreme": 


ADDED: Here's a much better video clip: 

"I should've worked in a pie factory. I knew I missed my calling."


It's only just now that I found a way to fit it on this blog — a goodbye to Gilbert Gottfried.


"I'm here to supervise balloons!" 


"Thank you, mein Führer"/"Only Gilbert can get away with that."


"You know, I can't fire you for being inappropriate, because I'm inappropriate. I do many things that are totally inappropriate."

"This is a pattern in Barr’s book: He nitpicks his way to desired conclusions by carefully navigating a lawyerly path around finely drawn distinctions, all the while lobbing bomblets at anyone he defines as an enemy."

"'For all his urbane affect, Obama was still the left-wing agitator who had patiently steered the Democratic Party toward an illiberal, identity-obsessed progressivism,' Barr writes; no doubt actual 'left-wing agitators,' who have regularly denounced Obama for centrism, would like to have a word. Barr’s version of Trump, meanwhile, contains multitudes: The former president may have 'an imprecise and discursive speaking style,' even a tendency for 'madcap rhetoric,' but Barr also believes Trump has 'a deep intuitive appreciation of the importance of religion to the health of our nation.'

"Barr muses that 'the country would have benefited and likely seen more of the constructive, problem-solving style of government that President Trump previewed on election night,' if only he 'had been met by a modicum of good faith on the other side.' By 'good faith' Barr is perhaps imagining something like his own generous interpretations of Trump’s behavior, which he goes to great and often tortuous lengths to rationalize in his book.... The last chapter has Barr throwing Trump under the bus, albeit gently and with the utmost decorum. Barr laments Trump’s stubborn problems of 'tone,' faulting him for 'needlessly' alienating 'a large group of white-collar suburbanites,' and declares that it’s time to move on from the loser of the 2020 election by recovering 'something like the old Reagan coalition.' But Barr faces a quandary, which is to explain how Republicans can ditch Trump while keeping his fervent base...."

From "William P. Barr’s Memoir Is Part Lawyerly Defense, Part Culture-War Diatribe/In 'One Damn Thing After Another,' the former attorney general suggests that Republicans move past Donald Trump and his 'madcap rhetoric,' but saves his harshest words for the former president’s critics," by Jennifer Szalai (NYT).

That description of Barr that I put in the post title — that's what just about everyone does these days. I think Szalai is especially heated up about it because Barr is so skilled in the craft and, I'm guessing, because she'd like to see that craft applied for the benefit of the other side.

"Most older Americans want to age in place, and many can’t, or won’t, move to big cities with dense transportation networks and nearby grocery stores."

"Of course we should be working, in general, to put everything closer together so nobody has to get behind the wheel at the age of 95 — or 55, for that matter. But there’s going to end up being some in-between territory as well, and giving everyone (not just seniors) access to something like a golf cart, at minimal cost, as well as safe enough streets to operate them, could go a long way."

From "There’s One Thing We Can Learn From the Villages’ Success" (NY Magazine). The Villages is a planned community in Florida that was designed by former Disney Imagineers. 130,000 people live there, and it's grown 40% in the last 10 years. The "one thing" NY Magazine likes about it is the mobility by golf cart. There are other things NY Magazine does not like:
[F]or this overwhelmingly conservative population — the Villages went two-to-one for Trump — the very thing that may be attracting those who want to “Make America Great Again” are its pseudo-suburban neotraditionalist aesthetics, as James Brasuell wrote in Planetizen last year, asking whether “the village ideal is actually inherently conservative, and a vehicle for segregation.” (The Villages remains 98 percent white, even as the surrounding counties grow more diverse.) So, yes, there’s a lot wrong with the Villages.

"Doing his best Mussolini imitation, he took off his mask in a macho display of invulnerability. He clenched his teeth and jutted out his jaw..."

"... just as my grandmother did when she was biting back anger or clamping down on her pain. In Donald, I saw the latter.... I have asthma, so I am acutely aware of what it looks like when somebody is struggling to breathe. He was in pain, he was afraid, but he would never admit that to anybody – not even himself. Because, as always, the consequences of admitting vulnerability were much more frightening to him than being honest."

Mary Trump has a new book, quoted in "Trump was ‘in pain and afraid’ during post-Covid display of bravado, niece’s book says/Mary Trump’s new book The Reckoning, seen by the Guardian, describes a national trauma worsened by her uncle" (The Guardian).

What is the value of Mary Trump's writing? The writing style isn't horrible, but she didn't have access to him. She was just watching him on television like the rest of us, right? Purporting to know the workings of his mind makes her less credible than those of us who would add phrases like "I think" to assertions like "he was afraid" or who would change that "was" to "looked." 

There are other efforts to bolster her authority. In that brief passage, I note "just as my grandmother did" and "I have asthma." Let's examine those 2 notions. 

1. "just as my grandmother did" — This must be a reference to Mary's grandmother who was the mother of Donald Trump. Mary has observed her grandmother and perhaps knows a style of holding her mouth and can say that Donald Trump's mouth has the same look. She implies that there are family mouth positions and other members of the family know what they mean. So Mary has special expertise at watching Donald Trump on television.

2. "I have asthma" — Mary claims a sort of medical expertise: "I am acutely aware of what it looks like when somebody is struggling to breathe." Really? You're aware of "what it looks like"? No, you're not looking at yourself when you are having an asthma attack. You are acutely aware of what it feels like, not what it looks like. Unless you do your asthma attacks in front of a mirror.

ADDED: I could write a book about Mary's book, in which I use Mary's approach to observational expertise against her. I would go through the book paragraph by paragraph and find every turn of phrase that I can characterize as evidence of the traits that she finds in Donald Trump and I would repetitively bolster my points by reminding the reader that Mary and Donald belong to the same family, so we can presume these are family traits. Whatever she says about him I can observe in her, and the only evidence I will need is her own book.

Dave Chappelle hosted "SNL" last night. Here's the monologue.Mystic, part 2.Elon Musk said he will reverse Twitter's permanent ban on Donald Trump and that he opposes permanent bans generally...."I should've worked in a pie factory. I knew I missed my calling."

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