Later On

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Archive for January 5th, 2019

Un…believable. I give you the President of the United States of America.

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Just the read the whole thing, and read the boldface aloud. The boldface are Trump’s actual statements.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 3:05 pm

Trump Consults His Inner Government Worker to Claim Support for the Shutdown

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Eric Lach writes in the New Yorker:

On Friday, congressional leaders met with President Trump in the White House for another conversation to nowhere. Afterward, the Democratic leaders came out and spoke to the press for four minutes. “Services are being withheld from the American people, paychecks are being withheld from people who serve the needs of the American people,” Nancy Pelosi said, a day into her second tenure as Speaker of the House and fourteen days into a government shutdown that Trump initiated in an attempt to extract billions of dollars in border-wall funding from Congress. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, said that in response to the Democrats’ position—that the government should be reopened before any discussion of border-security funding takes place—Trump had threatened to keep the government shut down for “months or even years.”

After the Democrats spoke, Trump emerged for his own press conference, flanked by Vice-President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise. Their event lasted an hour. Trump revealed that he had instructed Pence, Nielsen, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to meet with congressional staff members over the weekend to continue the discussions. He said that he had thought about circumventing Congress to get his wall money by declaring a “national emergency.” He confirmed that he’d told Democrats that he was willing to keep the government closed for a long time, but also said that he believed the impasse could be resolved “very quickly.” In response to questions about whether protections for Dreamers could be part of a potential deal, he said that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program for Dreamers that Trump tried to cancel, “is going to be a great subject.” He complained about court rulings that haven’t gone his way in the Ninth Circuit, and discussed why using eminent domain to acquire land was necessary for his wall plans. He hemmed, hawed, bragged, made arguments out of thin air, and seemed to be enjoying himself. When he was asked about the government workers who don’t know when their next paycheck will arrive, he had no difficulty imagining that they loved him and what he was doing. “This really does have a higher purpose than next week’s pay,” Trump said. Putting himself in their shoes for a moment, he said, “I think they’d say, ‘Mr. President, keep going. This is far more important.’ ” [see update]

So now the weekend begins, and Trump, who started this whole thing, has stepped back from the talks. . .

Continue reading.

They love him because he’s a man of the people.

I’m ready for the mills of God to start grinding—a little less “slowly,” and a little more “exceeding fine.”

Update: I think that Trump may well be right about the support he gets from his core group, even if they are thrown out of work: they’ve gone this far, and to stop now would be to admit that all that you had done was wrong, and that would hurt worse than just going ahead with it—in for a penny, in for a pound. Some mechanism involving cognitive dissonance is at work, along with the sunk cost fallacy (big-time: “If I leave now, I will have lost so much. I have an investment of emotional energy to protect.”). I bet most will just ramp up their support for him and become angrier in the process—perhaps they’re angry at themselves.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 2:44 pm

Lest we forget: “Vice” vs. the Real Dick Cheney

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Nicholas Lemann writes in the New Yorker:

Adam McKay, the director of “Vice,” has an exuberant and fantastic filmmaking style that inoculates him against the kind of indignant fact-checking to which Hollywood depictions of history are often subjected. Who wants to be an old grump and point out that, for example, there is no evidence that Dick Cheney, the movie’s antihero, suggested to the President that they head out to the White House lawn for a round of circle jerk, or that Dick and Lynne Cheney spoke to each other in bed in mock-Shakespearean pentameter? But “Vice” isn’t asking to be judged purely as a work of fiction, either; its implicit claim is that it plays around with the facts about Cheney in order to get closer to the truth.

By that standard, there’s no problem about the regular flights into speculation and satire, but there is one major false note in “Vice.” That’s when a young Cheney rather plaintively asks his mentor, the congressman turned White House aide Donald Rumsfeld, “What do we believe in?” Rumsfeld bursts into uncontrollable laughter, turns away, and disappears into his office. Through the closed door we can still hear him cackling. Actually, it’s clear that Cheney, even that early, was a deeply committed and ideological conservative—one whose phlegmatic demeanor and eagerness to master the details of government masked who he really was for a very long time.

In the early nineteen-sixties, Cheney dropped out of Yale twice, but one professor there made a deep impression on him. That was H. Bradford Westerfield, a diplomatic historian who believed that it was possible that the United States would fall victim to a Communist takeover. “Ominously, the infectious defeatism drifts across the Atlantic and begins to insinuate itself into the mind of America,” he warned in his book “The Instruments of America’s Foreign Policy.” Another crucial experience for the Cheneys—both of whom were children of career federal civil servants—was their brief tour of duty in Madison, Wisconsin, at the height of the sixties, when they were enrolled in graduate school, at the University of Wisconsin.

Many years later, Lynne Cheney told me, “I distinctly remember going to class, and having to walk through people in whiteface, conducting guerrilla theatre, often swinging animal entrails over their heads, as part of a protest against Dow Chemical. And then the shocking thing was that you would enter the classroom and here would be all these nice young people who honestly wanted to learn to write an essay.” Dick Cheney, during an internship in Washington, D.C., took a delegation from Capitol Hill to a Students for a Democratic Society meeting in Madison, so that they could see the unvarnished face of student radicalism, and also to a faculty meeting, where he was struck by the professors’ lack of alarm over the left’s activities. Cheney and Rumsfeld’s first jobs in a Presidential Administration were at the Office of Economic Opportunity, during Richard Nixon’s first term—Rumsfeld was the director and Cheney was his deputy. This is presented in “Vice” as an anodyne bureaucratic assignment, but, because the O.E.O. had been created to carry out Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, their jobs entailed dismantling the most sixties-infused agency of the federal government. From Cheney’s point of view, the work had the quality of removing the serpent from the breast of state.

The episode that best foreshadowed the Cheney we came to know in the years after the 9/11 attacks occurred at the end of his service as Secretary of Defense, under George H. W. Bush—another job that “Vice” understands in terms of power, not ideas. As the Soviet Union was collapsing, Cheney, with the help of aides such as Lewis (Scooter) Libby and Paul Wolfowitz, who later joined him in the George W. Bush Administration, commissioned a study with the bland title “Defense Planning Guidance.” It envisioned a post-Cold War world in which there would only ever be one superpower, the United States: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival,” the document said. It was skeptical of power exercised by the United Nations and other multinational alliances, as opposed to that exercised by the United States unilaterally. Cheney’s circle did not support the first President Bush’s decision to conclude the Gulf War without toppling Saddam Hussein and installing a new government in Iraq. The 9/11 attacks provided Cheney and his allies with an unexpected opportunity to enact their long-standing views.

“Vice” treats conservatism as a combination of resistance to the civil-rights movement, the Koch brothers’ eagerness to reduce taxes and regulations, and pure opportunism. Cheney’s conservatism, at heart, is none of these. It is what might be called threatism. Powerful, determined, immensely destructive forces—the Soviet Union, radical Islam, the domestic left—want to destroy American freedom and democracy. Complacent politicians, especially liberal ones, are incapable either of understanding this or of summoning the will to combat it. For the small cadre who do understand, it is imperative to use power unusually quietly, expertly, and aggressively. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 2:34 pm

American Exceptionalism Is a Dangerous Myth

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Eric Levitz writes in New York:

Donald Trump has done more to elevate the left’s critique of U.S. foreign policy than any politician in modern memory.

As a presidential candidate, the mogul told Republican primary audiences that George W. Bush had lied the United States into Iraq; that said war had done a “tremendous disservice to humanity”; and that America could have saved countless lives by investing $5 trillion in domestic infrastructure instead. As commander-in-chief, Trump has suggested that there is no moral distinction between the U.S. and other great powers; that American foreign policy in the Middle East is largely dictated by the interests of arms manufacturers; and that the U.S. judges foreign regimes by their utility to American economic interests, not their commitment to human rights.

But if Trump’s descriptions of geopolitics echo Noam Chomsky, his prescriptions owe more to Attila the Hun. The president does see the invasion of Iraq as a criminal waste — but only because the U.S. failed to expropriate the region’s oil fields. He does imply that, in the eyes of the American state, Raytheon’s profits count more than journalists’ lives —but he sees that as a good thing. And when Trump suggests our country isn’t “so innocent,” he isn’t imploring neoconservatives to hold America to higher moral standards, but rather, to hold foreign autocrats to lower ones.

In other words, the Trump presidency can be read as an object lesson in the virtues of hypocrisy. Having a global hegemon that preaches human rights — while propping up dictators and incinerating schoolchildren — is bad. But having one that does those things while preaching nihilism is worse; not least because even a nominal commitment to liberal values can function as a constraint against their violation. Trump’s distaste for the whole “shining city on a hill” shtick has, among other things, enabled the Pentagon to tolerate higher levels of civilian casualties in the Middle East, the Israeli government to accelerate settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, and the Saudi crown prince to take a bonesaw to international law.

It’s understandable, then, that many liberal intellectuals are eager to revive the national myths that Trump has busted. Such thinkers concede that Trump has highlighted flaws in the triumphalist, Cold War narrative about American global leadership. And they acknowledge the necessity of rethinking what “leading the free world” truly requires of the United States. But they nevertheless insist that America’s self-conception as an exceptional power — which is to say, as a hegemon whose foreign policy is shaped by universal ideals (as opposed to mercenary interests) — isn’t just a beneficent fiction, but an actual fact. And that compulsion is unfortunate; because it will be difficult for liberals to realize their vision for America’s exceptional future, if they refuse to grapple with its unexceptional past.

In the current issue of The Atlantic, former Hillary Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan presents one of the more compelling cases for making America exceptional again. Against Dick Cheney’s arrogant, unilateralist approach to world leadership — and Trump’s nihilistic disavowal of America’s international obligations — Sullivan offers a call for restoring the U.S. to its former role as a benevolent hegemon, one whose global supremacy is legitimated by its demonstrable commitment to spreading peace, democracy, and shared prosperity.

Crucially, Sullivan recognizes that this restoration is contingent on sweeping reform. He acknowledges that,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 2:30 pm

The Hunted: What happens when you say “No” to MS-13.

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Kavitha Surana and Hannah Dreier report in ProPublica:

CHAPTER 1: New Blood

The friends had liked Gerson Saravia from the start. With his halting English and scrawny arms that stuck out like sticks from the tank tops he wore, he reminded them of themselves when they first came to the U.S., excited but also bewildered and self-conscious.

Jonathan had spotted him at school on Long Island at the start of junior year in 2015. With a poof of curly hair and a wide smile, Jonathan liked to be the first to welcome newcomers at Bellport High. He had come from Honduras in 2013 at age 16 to join his mother, whom he hadn’t seen since he was a small child. The loneliness had been intense, and now he tried to save others from it. He invited Gerson to play in a local soccer league and to go on snack runs to a neighborhood pupusa shop, and teased him for his Salvadoran slang. He introduced him to his best friends, the Morales brothers, from Guatemala, and a Salvadoran-American freshman named Alfred. Soon, Gerson was coming over to their houses after school to play video games.

Toward the end of their junior year, Jonathan noticed Gerson was falling in with a different crowd. Gerson started wearing the Nike Cortez sneakers and blue and white rosary of the Central American street gang MS-13. Before long, he confirmed to the friends that he had joined the gang and told them to join up, too, for protection. But the friends already felt safe. They said no and began avoiding Gerson when they saw him with his new crew.

The friends kicked off the summer of 2016 by driving to a long white sand beach near their town. Gerson rode with them. They set up a volleyball net and dipped their toes in the freezing water. But then Gerson’s new friends showed up, and he left abruptly with them, barely saying goodbye. It was the last time the group would hang out all together.

Jonathan spent the summer working demolition. The brothers got jobs at a cookie factory and a KFC restaurant. Alfred, who was 15, went to summer school along with Gerson, who would glare at him in class. “Why are you looking at me? Is there are a problem?” Alfred asked. Gerson just walked away.On the last Friday of summer vacation, Aug. 19, 2016, the Morales brothers hosted a neighborhood barbecue. As the party broke up, an older man invited the friends to smoke marijuana in a nearby patch of woods. The brothers had other things to do.

But Jonathan said he’d go, and Alfred came along.

CHAPTER 2: In the Woods

The night was warm and still. The clearing in the woods was small, but someone had left a chair and tires to sit on. Almost as soon as Jonathan and Alfred arrived with the older man, the attack began. Jonathan heard people rushing through the trees. Then a group emerged dressed in jeans and black sweatshirts, with bandannas covering their faces and machetes glinting in their hands.

Jonathan turned to run, but he tripped after a few steps. As he fell, he felt the first blows land on his back. The shock was so intense it muted everything else. He felt the impact but not the pain as machetes cut into him dozens of times, slicing to the bone. Breathless, he curled into a ball, trying to protect his head with his hands. His blood spattered onto the chair, the tires and the leaves of the oak trees. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Daily life

Synthetic shaving brushes today are a perfectly good choice

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It wasn’t so long ago—5 years? 7 years?—that getting a synthetic shaving brush meant a serious compromise on lathering, lather capacity, comfort, and aesthetics. Those days are over, and synthetics today are excellent. Memetic/cultural evolution is millions of times faster than biological evolution, and the poor badgers, boars, and horses could not match the pace of refinement we saw in synthetic brushes (which have the advantage of being memes, in the sense of cultural constructs).

These are the sort of fiber known as “Plissoft,” in honor of Plisson, whose brushes first used this fiber—and the next to last brush on the right is in fact a Plisson brush.

From left, with comment:

Chiseled Face: a very nice synthetic, with a bit more resilience than some with the knot mounted a little deeper. The handle, a treated wood, is particularly nice in appearance and shape. This was a limited run and I don’t think they are available any more.

The next four brushes are all modestly priced but superbly performing RazoRock synthetic brushes.  First is the Bruce, with a round handle with a nice waist and a 24mm knot. Next is the 400 with with polished aluminum handle (the brush is available with various handles) and a 24mm black Plissoft knot; the handle turns out to be quite comfortable. Next is the Keyhole, which I like a lot: it has a 22mm size, which I prefer to 24mm, and the handle is quite comfortable. The next brush, with the Italian flag colors (or, as one reader pointed out, Christmas colors), has a nice hefty handle and a 24mm knot. That handle is no longer available, but you can get the knot mounted a black handle in the same size and shape.

The Plisson brush I purchased a while back, and they seem to have moved on from that knot style to a style that visually mimics a silvertip badger knot. I haven’t tried any of those, but I do like the brush that I have, which is Plisson’s size 12 (about 24mm). I note a dramatic price increase: I paid US$38 for my brush, and that doesn’t seem to be in the ballpark any more.

Finally, we have the Fine Classic, a very nice little brush indeed—and it has a 20mm knot, my fave. The handle is now available in various color combinations. Mine is the original version. They also offer the Fine Stout, with a 24mm knot and shorter overall, but I’ve not tried that. They refer to the knot as “angel hair.”

The two on the left are from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, the three on the right from Magard Razors.

First on the left is the Starcraft, with a 24mm knot, and beside it is the Green Ray, another 24mm knot. (Phoenix Artisan also offers the 26mm Atomic Rocket, which for some reason I bought (partly because synthetic brushes are for the most part inexpensive, and the Atomic Rocket was only $13), but it was so large I have already passed it on.

My first Maggard synthetic was the 22mm brush at the far right, a bush I like a lot for various reasons: handle shape, knot size, overall performance, and modest price. The brush to the right of the Green Ray I just recently purchased, and it also has a 22mm knot. The little travel brush between the other two Maggard brushes has their “Timberwolf” synthetic knot, which so far as I can tell is just a regular Plissoft/angel hair with a different color scheme. The travel brush has an 18mm knot (still plenty big) and a small handle that offers a good grip.

These are together because they differ somewhat from the Plissoft/angel hair brushes discussed above. The Grooming Co’s brush on the left does have a Plissoft knot, but it’s mounted deeper in the handle so that it feels somewhat stiffer. It’s a 25mm knot, but the deeper mounting means that it does not spread out so much.

The Kent Infinity is next, and it’s another brush that feels somewhat stiff, but once it’s loaded, it (like the Grooming Co.’s brush) is quite comfortable. This is a 23mm knot, but again it feels smaller because of the mounting.

Mühle and Edwin Jagger work closely together and these two knots take a different direction, aiming to emulate a silvertip badger knot, whereas the Plissoft-type brushes revel in being synthetic and are not trying to emulate any natural fiber. Both the Mühle and the Edwin Jagger feel and perform very well, and they succeed in feeling on the face more like a silvertip badger brush than a synthetic brush.

Mühle in fact refer to their synthetic as “Silvertip Fiber®” and offer the knot in a range of handles. They don’t specify knot size, but it seems to be 22mm.

The Brushhead – Silvertip Fibre®

The high-quality synthetic fibres represent a world first of our own invention. We offer a synthetically produced premium quality whose material characteristics are analogous to those of the precious natural hair, silvertip badger. The majority of the users even say that this quality actually provides better performance characteristics than the natural hair.

‘Silvertip Fibre®’ is very soft at its fine tips, but somewhat more stable than natural hair in the middle section. These characteristics produce a pleasant, soft sensation on the skin when the lather is applied, without having to forgo the desired firmness of the hairs in the lathering process. In daily use, the manually processed fibres are less sensitive than natural hair as they dry more quickly and are resistant to shaving soaps and creams.

The completely vegan fibres are also somewhat easier to use than natural hair as they produce a particularly creamy and thick lather from a small amount of shaving soap or cream, which is used much more sparingly as a result.

Mühle makes a variety of styles. The brush shown was in their Kosmo line, though it seems now not to be available.

I got this Edwin Jagger synthetic, but ith a handle of faux ivory instead of faux horn. The knot is 22mm

In this post I mention only those synthetic brushes I own. There are a lot more.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 10:06 am

Posted in Shaving, Technology

Limes today

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Meißner Tremonia’s Dark Limes with organic shea butter and limes is quite a pleasant shaving soap, and my Vie-Long horsehair made quite a good lather. My Fatip Testina Gentile did its usual urbane and polished job and I splashed on some Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes aftershave with pleasure and satisfaction.

In the next post I’ll discuss my synthetic brushes, including photos.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 January 2019 at 8:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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