Sunday, April 23, 2017

Puffed Tweet

Photo by Libération. Looks like Macron 23.7% and Le Pen 21.9% to the second round, with Fillon and Mélenchon in the 19s, third and fourth respectively, and the ci-devant Socialist pretty much dead for the moment.
Not the worst result you can imagine, by any means, especially since the polls for the deuxième tour favor Macron very strongly, as if Obama's intervention for Macron and Trump's for Le Pen may have made a difference (Trump's in the opposite direction from the one intended).

Most enjoyable Schadenfreude point is the way rightwing Twitter is unable to understand that the first-round numbers—not an exit poll but a statistically valid sample of real votes—must be fake, and keeps reporting partial numbers from the officials as if they were going to last:

Hope to post something more funny or profound later, but in the meantime have some more Puffed Tweet and useful links:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Annals of Derp: The Normalizing

Image via Steamspy.
So one of the twitterers I follow is a horrible hasbarist called Omri Ceren, who keeps you up to the minute on the propaganda messaging of the Netanyahu government. I don't usually address him directly, because he's very deep into the ugly, and there are usually about ten presuppositions you'd need to shoot down before getting to his point, but he's been wallowing into the Trumpery lately, naturally, and this particular slur, against former ambassador Michael McFaul, got my goat. It's also a case of The Normalizing, where the author indignantly rejects evidence of the Trump incompetence as if they were just making stuff up out of spite. Happily, Ceren turned out to be just as wrong as you might have hoped.

Civilization and its Malcontents

This dude in the illustration run at the top of yesterday's David Brooks column ("The Crisis of Western Civ") is a Giant—extremely strong, in the ancient Greek cosmology, and maybe violent, but not huge in stature like Germanic giants—getting roughed up by a goddess, Doris, the consort of the sea god Nereus, in the colossal mythological battle of the Giants against the Olympian gods, the Gigantomachy, depicted in the frieze from the altar of Zeus of the Anatolian city of Pergamon, 2nd c. B.C.E., now at the Pergamon-Museum in Berlin, which was closed down when I was there a couple of years ago—I really wanted to go not so much because I knew what was there as because I love the sound of the name, and its hum of German classicalism. It's a huge moment in art history, though, of the transition between the calm majesty of the high Athenian moment and the violence and spectacularity of later Hellenism, like that from Mannerism to the Baroque in the 16h century.

The context in which the face is set can be seen below, from a somewhat different angle, where you can recognize the extent to which Doris (whose head has been lost over the millennia) is not simply pulling the unnamed Giant's hair, but has yanked his head back hard enough, maybe, to break his neck, and you can see the intensity of his pain in the way his eyes are rolled back into his skull as he tries desperately to pull her hand away:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Friday

Via L'avenir en commun, website of the Jean-Luc Mélenchon campaign.
I've felt pretty dispirited about the French election, and was heartened by this Mélenchon campaign cheer by one key supporter, Olivier Tonneau, in The Guardian, which may help talk you out of any fears inspired by reportage from the bothsiderist mafia that the only plausible leftist candidate is where Left meets Right around the back of the circle if you believe in that particular myth, or that Mélenchon is a Putinist or that he wants to destroy Europe:
we don’t plan to leave the EU: we aim to force the renegotiation of its treaties by means of unilateral disobedience. From the moment we come to power, we will implement a massive, environmentally focused Keynesian stimulus funded via a public bank, thus kickstarting the French economy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
We will not apply privatisation directives. We will opt out of the posted workers programme, but we will not reduce freedom of movement. We will implement a salary scale: the highest salary will never be more than 20 times the lowest. We will cap revenues at €400,000 a year. We will regularise the situation of all working illegal immigrants, and we will not implement quotas for refugees.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tales of The Normalizing: The many moods of Thomas L. Friedman

Image by Apolonis at DeviantArt.

Cynicism (last week, "Why is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?", when he was arguing that the Assad regime ought to be left to destroy ISIS on its own, as if Assad hadn't been cheerfully supporting ISIS all along with his purchase of their petroleum products) :
I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?
Tom, Tom, when will you learn? He does things for free all the time, when he's doing it with other people's money. That was the whole principle of the Trump Foundation, enabling him to give to charity without going to his own bank account.

Optimism (yesterday, "Coal Museum Sees the Future; Trump Doesn't", recommending that Trump should emulate the The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, and go for solar power because it's more practical):
Since Trump seems to be pivoting from some of his campaign nonsense, one can only hope he will do the same on these issues. If Trump is looking for a blueprint, he could not do better than to read a smart new book, “Climate of Hope,” by a most unlikely duo: former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope and billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
I can just see the president: "For fuck's sake I ask you to bring me a blueprint, you bring me a blueprint! Not a fucking book!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Aesthetic autism

Straussian or Douthatian? You be the judge.
Shorter Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, "A Requiem for 'Girls'":
I knew it all along, that show was conservative.
Really, going back to the origins in 2012:

I.e., if Douthat (the addressee of the tweet) is a Straussian? Or if the Douthat observer is a Straussian? Or in the sense in which Tyler Cowen in particular is a forensic Straussian dedicated to sussing out Straussianism where it occurs, as when he demonstrates that Star Wars or Taylor Swift is particularly Straussian (but not Douthatian)? Or if the Girls watcher trying to decide whether the show is Douthatian or not is a Straussian—the Straussian Girls audience finds that it is a Douthatian episode, whereas the libertarians, Burkeans, Oakeshottians, neoconservatives, and left-deviationist Buchananites following the show may feel it reflects the views of Charles Krauthammer or Erick W. Erickson or some other author of columns? The possibilities, dizzying though they are, did not tempt Douthat to any self-examination, but yes, he was anxious to stake the claim that the show was conservative, and that's why he liked it:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

For the record

Sleepy San Salvador street. Why did Reagan send thousands of prison-hardened Los Angeles gangbangers to destroy this peace? Photo by Jan van Oosthuizen.

Unless he's thinking in retroactionary terms that the malign influence of the Obama presidency stretches backwards, into the past. The virulence of the MS-13 organization in particular has to with the way it was nourished by US criminal justice policy, which was to deal with the problem by outsourcing it, deporting members in huge numbers to their home countries, especially El Salvador and Honduras, where they overwhelmed weak local governments, taking over the streets and recruiting new members and systematizing the smuggling of people back to the US, and participating alongside the Sinaloa Cartel in the Mexican drug war. A Trump-like policy over most of the past 30 years has made them ever stronger.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I guess it does have missiles in it, and it's sure slow...

Sergey Nikitich Khrushschev and his father around 1962, not sleeping. Via BBC. No special meaning.

Stupid Analogies department, from David Sanger:
What is playing out, said Robert Litwak of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who tracks this potentially deadly interplay, is “the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.” But the slow-motion part appears to be speeding up, as President Trump and his aides have made it clear that the United States will no longer tolerate the incremental advances that have moved Mr. Kim so close to his goals.
Our Soviet antagonist in 1962, in response to US deployment of more than 100 nuclear-armed Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey and the possibility of a renewed US effort to overthrow the Cuban government, secretly deployed a like number of nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, creating a terrifying standoff when U-2 spyplanes discovered their existence.