Althouse | category: Obama



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

Feminist book cover from 1975.

This amused me:

Wikipedia tells us: 

The Female Man... was originally written in 1970 and first published in 1975 by Bantam Books. [Joanna] Russ was an avid feminist.... The novel follows the lives of four women living in parallel worlds that differ in time and place. When they cross over to each other's worlds, their different views on gender roles startle each other's preexisting notions of womanhood. In the end...

Spoiler alert!

... their encounters influence them to evaluate their lives and shape their ideas of what it means to be a woman. The character Joanna calls herself the “female man” because she believes that she must forget her identity as a woman in order to be respected (p. 5). She states that “there is one and only one way to possess that in which we are defective … Become it” (p. 139). Her metaphorical transformation refers to her decision to seek equality by rejecting women's dependence on men.

Metaphorical transformation. But the book cover seems to depict the physical peeling away of the female form. The browser is enticed to imagine something surgical.

Now, why was I reading that? I became interested in the word "munch" because I encountered an author who kept using the word "munch" as a replacement for "eat." I wondered if I had ever even once — in the entire 18-year history of this blog — used the word "munch." 

A search of my archive turned up 7 posts — 5 of which have "munch" in the sense of  the artist Edvard "The Scream" Munch. 

One is a stray reference to the Girl Scout cookie Thank U Berry Munch. (I'm imagining an Obama inner monologue, there's a reference to marijuana, and so there's a nudge to think about "the munchies.") 

The 7th post was part of my "Gatsby" project: "I know many of you don't like or don't get the 'Gatsby' project, in which we isolate and munch on a single, possibly turgid, sentence from 'The Great Gatsby,' more or less every day around here on the Althouse blog."

Why "munch" there? There's no actual eating. It's an eating metaphor, really a chewing metaphor. Indeed, the dictionary definition of "munch" stresses the the chewing — the mouth action — and not anything further along in the digestive process: "To eat (food) with a continuous and noticeable chewing action; to eat eagerly and audibly, or with evident enjoyment; to make a snack of." 

That's from the OED — where I go to get my definitions, mainly because I love the lists of historical examples and where I found one that ended with the title that got me to that book cover:

a1425 (▸c1385) G. Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde (1987) i. 914 Some wold monche [v.rr. muchche, mucche, muche, meche] her brede alon, lying in bed and make hem for to grone....

1600 W. Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream iv. i. 31 I could mounch your good dry Oates.

1905 Baroness Orczy Scarlet Pimpernel xviii. 172 She partook of this frugal breakfast with hearty appetite. Thoughts crowded thick and fast in her mind as she munched her grapes.

1975 J. Russ Female Man 175 Munched chips, crackers, saltsticks, what-not.

"Obama defies CDC guidance by inviting 500 people to his celebrity-studded 60th birthday party at his $12m mansion on Martha's Vineyard/Pearl Jam will perform and guests including Steven Spielberg will be served by 200 staff."

The Daily Mail reports. 

1. You can't "defy" "guidance." Guidance is guidance. You can follow it or make your own choice.

2. Thanks, Obama, for showing us how to handle guidance and to make our own choice.

3. And good for you for having so many wonderful friends. You are sublimely lovable, inspiring some of us, perhaps, to be a little more amicable, but if not and in any case, we can see why it is you and not we who have 500 ultra-glamorous friends and why it would be surly of us to begrudge you that celebration on the occasion of marking the 60 years that you have graced Planet Earth.

4. Pearl Jam. Why Pearl Jam? Is that your favorite group? Points for not thinking you had to demonstrate diversity and just picking the music you like best or the music that most powerfully draws the celebrities you want to your remote island home. 

5. I think it would be annoying to have Pearl Jam in my home. But then, I think it would be annoying to have 500 people in my home. Annoying and ludicrous. What am I saying? Obviously, the people are going to be somewhere out in the yard — on the grounds — perhaps with some sort of tent or...

6. Maybe they're building a free-standing ballroom for the occasion. I've seen grunge bands play at a place called a ballroom. There was moshing. I'm picturing Obama's 500 celebrity studs moshing. Moshing at Martha's.

7. To mask or to mosh? That is the question. Answer it for yourselves! That's the message from the most charismatic man in the world.

Clerisy heresy.

I'm reading "An Ex-Liberal Reluctantly Supports Trump/How historian Fred Siegel came to appreciate the president’s defense of ‘bourgeois values’ against the ‘clerisy’" by Tunku Varadarajan (WSJ). 
[Fred Siegel] sees [President Trump] as a champion of "bourgeois values," under threat from the "clerisy," Mr. Siegel's word for the dominant elites who "despise" those values. He regards Mr. Biden as a "captive" of this clerisy, and running mate Kamala Harris as the "embodiment of it."...
By 2012... Mr. Siegel had developed an exceedingly low opinion of President Obama, whom he describes as "a faux intellectual with preacher's cadences and an academic veneer." In his opinion, "the worst thing" about Mr. Obama was "his effect on race relations. We couldn't have the cold civil war we have now without Obama, because he, in a very cunning way, exacerbated all of our racial tensions." 
Under Mr. Obama, Mr. Siegel says, "racial grievance" took on a "new legitimacy, and it came from a president talking in asides, and saying things between the lines. He didn't push back against anything, not even against the idea that Michael Brown said 'Hands up, don't shoot' in Ferguson [Mo.], which was just a fabrication."... 
"Ferguson allowed Ivy League grads to assert their 'natural leadership,' in opposition to lowlife cops and guys with pickup trucks -- again, the deplorables." In Mr. Siegel's understanding, wokeism holds that "the important truths are already known, and that the American aristocracy has to impose those truths on the country." These are "given positions" -- irrefutable and sacrosanct. Wokeism, he says, is a "perilous threat" to America and particularly to the First Amendment. "It says we don't need debate. We don't need free speech. We don't need freedom of religion. We need to obey."...

"Young White House aides frequently mocked Biden’s gaffes and lack of discipline in comparison to the almost clerical Obama."

"They would chortle at how Biden, like an elderly uncle at Thanksgiving, would launch into extended monologues that everyone had heard before....  Obama and [Hillary] Clinton both viewed themselves as pioneers who worked their way through America’s elite colleges. Obama went to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he headed the law review; Clinton went from Wellesley to Yale Law School. They shared a work style as well, always sure to do their homework and arrive at a meeting prepared to get to the crux of an issue. 'They do the reading,' said one former Clinton aide. 'In Situation Room meetings, she had the thickest binder and had read it three times.' Biden’s own academic career was unimpressive—he repeated the third grade, earned all Cs and Ds in his first three semesters at the University of Delaware except for As in P.E., a B in 'Great English Writers' and an F in ROTC, and graduated 76th in his Syracuse Law School class of [1968].... He was not a binder person, Clinton and Obama aides said.... Biden’s tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind rankled Obama, who wasn’t afraid to needle him for it. In his first press conference in 2009, the young president quipped 'I don’t remember exactly what Joe was referring to—not surprisingly'.... Biden has long been defensive about suggestions of being dumb or a lightweight—a narrative that took hold during in his first campaign for the presidency, in 1988...."

From "'The President Was Not Encouraging': What Obama Really Thought About Biden/Behind the friendship was a more complicated relationship, which now drives the former vice president to prove his partner wrong" by Alex Thompson (at Politico). Lots more at the link.

"Joe Biden is planning a regular shadow briefing... to show how he would handle the crisis and address what he calls the lies and failures of President Trump."

"Biden gave a preview of what’s to come in a conference call with reporters Friday, where he listed a litany of false and misleading statements from Trump.... 'President Trump stop saying false things, will ya?' Biden said. 'People are worried they are really frightened, when these things don't come through. He just exacerbates their concern. Stop saying false things you think make you sound like a hero and start putting the full weight of the federal government behind finding fast, safe and effective treatments.'... [H]e said, his house is being outfitted with equipment that would enable him to livestream events, have interactive tele-press conferences and broadcast interviews with network television. 'I would like to get in the position and we're trying to work out so that the headquarters ... to be able to accommodate my directly answering questions in front of a press that's assigned to me,' he said. 'We've hired a professional team to do that now. And excuse the expression that's a little above my pay grade to know how to do that.'"

Politico reports.

It is a real challenge for Biden and his people to figure out how to campaign from a distance. Sitting on the sidelines and taking potshots at the man who is working nonstop to manage the crisis — this might not feel right to some of us. Biden has to stay in the game somehow, but maybe less is more. Don't make the President's job any more difficult than it is. And don't turn on the cameras just to agitate us with non-insights like "People are worried... they are really frightened." Every guy in America knows how to watch TV and then turn on the videocam and live-stream about how the President bothers him.

Or... I guess Biden wouldn't know how to make such a video. He has "a professional team" to push the little buttons for him, and he's not embarrassed to call the work "above my pay grade."

If you're trying to remember when Obama used that expression, it was in answer to the question when does the unborn have human rights: "… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade." I believe Obama was trying to say he is not God, so he cannot be the one to say where that subtle line is.

In the case of Biden, he was just trying to say, he doesn't do electronic gadgets. He didn't really mean that the work he can't do is above him. More like below him. Or part of a world that he hasn't engaged with and never will.

IN THE COMMENT: rehajm said:
So he's going to pretend he has a job where he has press conferences and updates people on the functioning of government even though he doesn't work for the government. Then he's going to do mystery science theater on Trump press conferences and also 'fact check' Trump and government agencies.

How faux Presidential. That's not helping...
Chris N said:
When I was young it was all sidewalks and bikes and maybe a few hot rods out there. Guys n gals at Community pools. You wanted mashed potatoes you got mashed potatoes but some people need help with the butter.

Folks, this isn’t that hard. We’re a global village now with global challenges and 18 gigs of RAM!

"The coverage suggests Giuliani reached out to new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team this summer solely because he wanted to get dirt..."

"... on possible Trump 2020 challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in that country. Politics or law could have been part of Giuliani’s motive, and neither would be illegal. But there is a missing part of the story that the American public needs in order to assess what really happened: Giuliani’s contact with Zelensky adviser and attorney Andrei Yermak this summer was encouraged and facilitated by the U.S. State Department. Giuliani didn’t initiate it.... So, rather than just a political opposition research operation, Giuliani’s contacts were part of a diplomatic effort by the State Department to grow trust with the new Ukrainian president, Zelensky, a former television comic making his first foray into politics and diplomacy. Why would Ukraine want to talk to Giuliani, and why would the State Department be involved in facilitating it? According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years....."

Write John Solomon in "Missing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani" (at The Hill). I'm just seeing this now, after writing 2 posts quoting an article Solomon wrote last April (and prompted by the commenter minnesotafarmguy).

I've only quoted a part of "Missing piece..." — please read the whole thing. This story is complicated!

"In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees..."

"... sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. 'I said, "You’re not getting the billion." I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: "I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,"' Biden recalled telling Poroshenko. 'Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,' Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat."

From "Joe Biden's 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived," an article in The Hill from last April.

That's something I quoted in my previous post, but I wanted to repeat it very conspicuously and say very clearly that I think the current Ukraine story is an effort to pressure Biden to get out of the way so this issue will die. Biden's candidacy puts Obama at risk!

ADDED: I googled Biden's threat quote and see it in several places in the last day. First, at Red State, "Stop The Tape! How Has Joe Biden’s Scandal Suddenly Become President Trump’s Scandal?":
While speaking to a group of foreign policy strategists, Biden boasted about threatening to hold back $1 billion in U.S. aid...  The Hill’s John Solomon reported in April that rather than pressuring Poroshenko for six hours, Biden had been pressuring him for “several months in late 2015 and early 2016.”...

[It is] reasonable to ask questions of Joe Biden starting with why did he try to get Shokin fired while he was investigating Burisma? Does he think it was appropriate for Hunter and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while [Joe Biden] served as point man for Ukraine policy? Did Biden know about the Burisma probe? (Of course he did.) And does he believe it was ethical of him to use his position to have the prosecutor fired?...
In National Review, there's this from Jim Geraghty — "What to Make of the Trump–Whistleblower Kerfuffle":
In 2018 appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations, former Vice President Biden described the time that he threatened to withhold foreign aid from the Ukrainian government unless they fired prosecutor Viktor Shokin....

The argument from the Obama administration was that Shokin was resisting efforts to reform Ukraine’s judicial system and had done a poor job investigating corruption of the previous regime. The European Union and Ukrainian parliament were happy to see Shokin go....

Maybe the Obama administration had good and legitimate reasons to want to see Shokin replaced. But sending the vice president to strongarm the Ukrainian government to fire the prosecutor who’s investigating his son’s company stinks to high heaven and reeks of corruption.

Clearly, Biden doesn’t think he did anything wrong; he was still telling the story about getting the prosecutor fired last year..
And here's Ace of Spades, "Joe Biden Bragged That, With Barack Obama's Permission, He Threatened To Withhold Billions in Aid to Ukraine Unless They Fired a Prosecutor Investigating His Son's Company./And Now, The Deep State Refashions This as a Trump Scandal":
Trump urged the Ukranians to look into a case of official corruption and unethical exertion of political pressure openly boasted of by Joe Biden himself and the guy who needs investigating is... Trump?!!?...

It's now illegal and impeachable for a president to urge a foreign leader to open a corruption probe? The things one learns from our very educated and very rational NeverTrump Genius Brigade.

I wonder if Obama and Biden will also be prosecuted for sending out their agents to enlist the UK and Australia into a covert op against their party's opponent in the 2016 election...?
IN THE COMMENTS: Meade wrote:
"In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko"

Ukrainian President Petro "CornPop" Poroshenko.
For reference, here's Biden's storytelling about threatening CornPop:

All of us? Or all except you? Feminist book cover from 1975."In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees..."

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