From her obituary in the New York Times:
Marni Nixon, the American cinema’s most unsung singer, died on Sunday in New York. She was 86. …
Classically trained, Ms. Nixon was throughout the 1950s and ’60s the unseen — and usually uncredited — singing voice of the stars in a spate of celebrated Hollywood films. She dubbed Deborah Kerr in “The King and I,” Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady,” among many others. …
At midcentury, Hollywood was more inclined to cast bankable stars than trained singers in films that called for singing. As a result, generations of Americans have grown accustomed to Ms. Nixon’s voice, if not her face, in standards like “Getting to Know You,” from “The King and I”; “I Feel Pretty,” from “West Side Story”; and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” from “My Fair Lady.”
Besides being technically outstanding (Nixon personally preferred singing 20th Century European art music), Nixon was also an impressionist who could seamlessly hit the notes the star couldn’t in the manner the leading lady would have if she could have:
The second line of the couplet “But square-cut or pear-shape/These rocks don’t lose their shape,” with its pinpoint high note on “their,” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”? That was Ms. Nixon too. (The film’s star Marilyn Monroe sang the rest of the number, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”)
“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is one of the high points in the history of the American entertainment industry. But I’d never noticed before that Nixon substitutes for Monroe for one breathy couplet:
Oops, wrong cover version. That’s T-Bone Burnett doing “Diamonds” Lou Reed / Bobby Fuller Four-style.
That’s more like it.
He’s your guy
When stocks are high,
But beware when they start to descend.
It’s then that those louses
Go back to their spouses.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
A couple of commentators on Turkish affairs now lean toward the Gulen Cult of the Poconos really being behind the coup fiasco in Turkey.
One analyst is Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, who came to dislike the Gulenists while he was investigating the show trial of his father-in-law, an old-fashioned Kemalist general. Much of the testimony against the generals in the big purges while Erdogan and Gulen were allies was forged by Gulenists in the police. (After Erdogan and Gulen turned on each other in late 2013, Rodrik’s father-in-law was released by Erdogan as part of a rapprochement between Erdogan and the military.) Rodrik now writes:
… And in any case, there was no reason for Kemalists to act now or to rush into what was clearly an ill-planned coup. The Ergenekon and Sledgehammer [show trial] verdicts had been reversed and Erdogan had long distanced himself from these trials, explicitly acknowledging they were plots against the military. Erdogan was also reversing many of his foreign policy actions that must have grated on the military: he had just reconciled with Russia and Israel and was pulling back on Syrian adventurism.
The Kemalists got along fairly well with Israel over the decades.
… For its part, the Gulen movement has a long history, going back to the 1980s, of trying to place its sympathizers in the military ranks. And while the high command systematically tried to purge them, it is quite likely that the Gulenists were able to outwit them. To evade suspicion, Gulen is said to have instructed his sympathizers to go to great lengths, including not letting their wives wear the headscarf – a telltale sign of religiosity in Turkey – and even to drink alcohol. The steady stream of document leaks that enabled the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials, as well as the mysterious way in which investigations of these leaks have been blocked, also suggests the presence of a large number of Gulenists in the military.
All of this points to the Gulen movement as the immediate culprit behind the coup attempt. Gulenists had both the capability and the motive to launch the coup. The timing – just after military officers began to be detained and before a major sweep – also supports this theory. Many have suggested that the Gulenists decided to move early and quickly because they learned that the impending sweep had been moved forward. This is plausible, and also helps explain why the coup attempt seemed rushed and poorly planned. Under this theory, the botched coup was a last-gasp, desperate attempt to reclaim their one final remaining institutional bastion and ensure their survival in Turkey.
My best guess is that the coup was planned and organized by Gulenists but that they were joined by quite a few others as well. The joiners may have had diverse motives: personal ambition, hatred of Erdogan, or simply the belief that they were obeying orders from the higher-ups.
One of the curious aspects of the coup attempt is that it had no public face or apparent leader. …
This lack of a public face is a lot less anomalous from the standpoint of Gulenist modus operandi. Gulenists always prefer to operate in the shadows, behind the scenes, and never take direct ownership of operations they launch and control.
So, that’s not hugely convincing, but it is interesting.
Meanwhile, in the NYT, Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol (whom I think I’ve had lunch with) writes:
Mr. Gulen strongly denies the charges. Some in the West seem to think that this is yet another of the many bizarre conspiracy theories peddled by Mr. Erdogan. But this is not merely propaganda. There are good reasons to believe the accusation is correct.
The Gulen community is built around one man: Fethullah Gulen. His followers see him not merely as a learned cleric, as they publicly claim, but the “awaited one,” as I have been told in private. He is the Mahdi, the Islamic version of the Messiah, who will save the Muslim world, and ultimately the world itself. Many of his followers also believe that Mr. Gulen sees the Prophet Muhammad in his dreams and receives orders from him.
Besides Mr. Gulen’s unquestionable authority, another key feature of the movement is its cultish hierarchy. …
Given the Gulen community’s hierarchical structure, all of this makes Mr. Gulen a prime suspect. Of course, the truth can come out only in a fair trial. Unfortunately, Turkey is not good at those — especially given Mr. Erdogan’s control over the judiciary and the ferocious polarization in the country today. But the United States government can try to negotiate with its Turkish counterparts to extradite Mr. Gulen, as Turkey’s government is now requesting, on the condition of a fair trial.
I dunno. I’m not excited about the U.S. turning over to Erdogan his arch-enemy on the promise of a fair trial. The evidence that Gulen was behind the coup is, at present, far from overwhelming. And, having seen Midnight Express, I’m not sure how much to trust the testimony that will likely come out of Turkish interrogation chambers in the near future incriminating Gulen.
Erdogan is going to do what he’s going to do, but I don’t see much reason to help Erdogan take vengeance upon his foes.
Instead, I’d rather see the FBI relaunch its investigation into the Gulen Cult’s skimming and immigration fraud in running the largest chain of charter schools in America. A couple of years ago, the FBI was enthusiastically raiding Gulen charter schools across the U.S., carting away evidence. But then you stopped hearing about the investigation. Perhaps somebody at CIA or State told the FBI that ripping off American taxpayers to fund Gulen was part of Washington’s grand strategy to make sure the Bosporus was in friendly hands?
I’d rather see Gulen answer to charges of defrauding Americans in open American courts than to turn him over to Erdogan’s sense of fairness.
From the BBC:
A failed asylum seeker from Syria is believed to have killed himself and injured 12 other people after setting off a bomb outside an open-air music festival in the German city of Ansbach.
Bavaria’s interior minister said the 27-year-old man detonated his device after being refused entry to the festival.
This just proves we must Let Them All In, all billion-plus Muslims.
Otherwise, the Muslims who are already here will kill us. As you can see, they don’t deal well with frustration.
Joachim Herrmann said the man who died had entered Germany two years ago.
It is third attack in the state of Bavaria in a week.
A shooting rampage in Munich on Friday left nine dead while an axe attack on a train a week ago in Wuerzburg injured several people.
And then there’s the new machete-chopping by a Syrian refugee in Baden-Württemberg this weekend.
By the way, from an interview with Hillary Clinton in Time:
Exclusive: Hillary Clinton on Running and Governing as a Woman
Jay Newton-Small @JNSmall Jan. 7, 2016
… Q. Any particular foreign leader whose executive stewardship you admire and might want to emulate as president?
Hillary: Well, I have to say that I highly admire Angela Merkel. I’ve known Angela since the 1990s, she and I actually appeared on a German TV show together. I have spent personal time with her. She is, I think, a really effective strong leader and really right now the major leader in Europe, not just in Germany. I admire her political skills and her principles, her strong work ethic. I just find her to be an incredibly important person in the world today and I look to her to see how she’s managed it.
Read More: TIME’s 2015 Person of the Year is Angela Merkel
Also, in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, who was given much access to hang out with President Obama and talk foreign policy, writes:
Merkel is perhaps Obama’s favorite ally. Transactional, clinical—an actual scientist by training—and emotionally self-contained, she also possesses a quality Obama says he admires: political courage. Her position on the absorption of Middle Eastern refugees might cost her her job. Obama, I get the sense, believes he would do what she has done if faced with similar circumstances. …
From The Independent:
Man has been arrested by police following assault outside fast food restaurant in Reutlingen
Caroline Mortimer @cjmortimer 6 hours ago962 comments
… The unnamed victim is believed to be a Polish woman who worked at the restaurant and may have been pregnant at the time of the attack, German tabloid Bild reports.
Mohammad Alhelo told German newspaper, Stuttgarter-Zeitung, that the man had run into the restaurant swinging the machete around his head.
He said: “He ran with the machete through the restaurant and swung it over their heads”.
The 20-year-old, who worked at the fast food restaurant with the attacker and his victim, said he [was] refilling the drinks machine when the attack started and ran away in a panic.
Mr Alhelo said the attacker was arguing with the woman before he killed her on the street – he said he had fallen in love with the woman when he started working there.
He described the man as “a friendly guy” who had arrived alone in Germany from Syria around 18 months ago.
After killing the woman in the restaurant the man injured two more people before being arrested.
He said a passing BMW managed to run him over and afterwards he “lay prostrate on the ground and didn’t move”. …
The police has confirmed the attacker was a 21-year-old Syrian refugee but have not released his name. The motive for the attack is unclear but police said there is no evidence it is terror related.
I haven’t actually seen anything this good in the Democratic National Committee hacked emails yet. But hopefully there will be something juicier in the future.
My theory is that Putin is sick of Olympics-related tricks, so he’s gone proactive ahead of Rio:
- Back during the 2008 Summer Olympics, America’s ally Georgia launched a tank invasion of the Russian protectorate of South Ossetia while Putin was watching the events in Beijing.
- During Putin’s showcase Winter Olympics in Sochi, a mob overthrew Putin’s democratically elected ally in Ukraine.
- Now, the IOC is threatening to kick the whole Russian team out of the Olympics for revelations of doping.
On Friday, Vlad mentioned during his weekly conference call with us Kremlin Hasbara Fellows that he’d secretly been practicing since 2013 for the Plunge for Distance event at the 2016 Olympics and figured he was a sure thing for a medal.
But the U.S. Olympic Committee had just sabotaged his plan to get the IOC to restore the Plunge for Distance at Rio.
So, maybe that explains the DNC leak.
Let me just say that, reading between the lines of Mr. Putin’s speech, if the Plunge isn’t back in the Games and a surprise celebrity world leader entrant doesn’t win Gold, the whole world is going to be reading 33,000 emails from Hillary’s home server come October 31.
Remember what happened to Donald Sterling?
From the Los Angeles Times:
By Evan Halper
When the Internet’s legions of Hillary hecklers steal away to chat rooms and Facebook pages to vent grievances about Clinton, express revulsion toward Clinton and launch attacks on Clinton, they now may find themselves in a surprising place – confronted by a multimillion dollar super PAC working with Clinton.
Hillary Clinton’s well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the Internet’s worst instincts. Correct the Record, a super PAC coordinating with Clinton’s campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.
In effect, the effort aims to spend a large sum of money to increase the amount of trolling that already exists online.
The plan comes as Clinton operatives grapple with the reality that her supporters just aren’t as engaged and aggressive online as are her detractors inside and outside the Democratic Party.
The lack of engagement is one of Clinton’s bigger tactical vulnerabilities, particularly when compared with rivals like Donald Trump, whose viral social media attacks are legion, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is backed by a passionate army of media-savvy millennials.
Some experts on digital campaigns think the idea of launching a paid army of “former reporters, bloggers, public affairs specialists, designers” and others to produce online counterattacks is unlikely to prove successful. Others, however, say Clinton has little choice but to try, given the ubiquity of online assaults and the difficulty of squelching even provably untrue narratives once they have taken hold.
At the same time, however, using a super PAC to create a counterweight to movements that have sprung up organically is another reflection of the campaign’s awkwardness with engaging online, digital pros said.
“It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical,” said Brian Donahue, chief executive of the consulting firm Craft Media/Digital.
“That is what the Clinton campaign has always been about,” he said. “It runs the risk of being exactly what their opponents accuse them of being: a campaign that appears to be populist but is a smokescreen that is paid and brought to you by lifetime political operatives and high-level consultants.”
The task force designed to stop the spread of online misinformation and misogyny is the brainchild of David Brock, a Clinton confidant who once made a career of spreading such misinformation and misogynistic attacks against her and Bill Clinton. His critics say he kept his taste for dirty tricks when he switched sides to become one of the Clintons’ most valued operatives. …
When actor Tim Robbins was confronted on Twitter after making the dubious assertion that election fraud is robbing Sanders of votes, he accused tweeters who challenged him of being paid shills for Brock. Within an hour, he had directed a variation of the same message at 88 different tweeters:
“Dear @CorrectRecord operatives, Thank you for following today’s talking points. Your check is in the mail. Signed, @davidbrockdc”
Those independent tweeters who challenged Robbins were not on Brock’s payroll. Correct the Record is not paying activists outside the organization to send messages, although it is arming them with instructions, talking points and postable infographics.
But the Robbins response confirmed a well-established rule of social media: The kind of confrontations Correct the Record is manufacturing almost never win converts.
Social media scholars say that’s not necessarily a problem.
“It will get the people already supporting Hillary Clinton riled up and more excited,” said Filippo Menczer of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at Indiana University, who researches how and why misinformation takes hold on social media.
Although this Israeli system has been widely rumored to be operative for years, my first thought was that this didn’t sound very cost-effective. After all, plenty of people, some of them quite talented writers, like to comment for free.
On the other hand, this should allow the Netanyahu government to systematically identify and evaluate its verbalist supporters at an early age, and then reward the ones it likes most.
The Russian government has set up a hasbara system similar to Israel’s. America, in contrast, has lots of Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Police.
What genetic secrets hide beneath a “white bread” appearance?
SATURDAY, JUL 23, 2016 04:30 PM PDT
… And as with most liberal types, I harbor a secret “wanna be” desire to be something more, or other, than I appear — a white, late-middle-aged male, putting me in the same phylum as Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell — not the sexiest demographic in the world. From ninth grade biology, I vaguely remembered the difference between “genotype” — your genetic code and sequence — and your “phenotype,” essentially, what you look like, and appear to be.
My grandmother had a branch of aunts and cousins with dark hair and eyes and olive colored skin, and she entertained the fanciful notion there was, in her family, some “Arab” blood. And after three hundred years on this continent it seems possible that there had been some “mixing,” most likely of the non-consensual variety, with people of Native American or Asian or African descent. As the Updike Genealogy reports, while describing the migrations of one Johannes Opdycke in the late 1600’s from Long Island to New Jersey, “… their herds of stock in the rear doubtless driven by a negro slave or two, who formed part of the establishment of every prosperous planter in those days.” I read somewhere that 10 percent of white Americans have some percentage of ‘African’ blood, and so it seems plausible that I could be one of them. After all, I love hot climates, prefer African and Caribbean music to their Anglo counterparts and married a woman from Kenya. Perhaps it’s all there, in my genes!
After all, what has anybody named “Updike” ever contributed to American culture?
And so when I saw on the computer that you could take the test, for only 99 dollars and a sample of saliva, and within weeks have breakdown of where my ancestors came from, I ordered it online …
Perhaps that “Arab” blood of my grandmother was actually the Moorish blood of that great empire that ruled, built, and educated, large swaths of Spain and Portugal and France for 500 years?
It was with no little excitement that I arrived home one day to find in my inbox the exciting news that my DNA results had arrived: I couldn’t wait, remembered my password for once, and followed the prompts to the results.
There it was, a simple map of Europe, a large circle surrounding Great Britain that included England and Scotland and Wales, excluded Ireland, then looped across the channel to claim Holland, the eastern edge of Germany, and north to Denmark, maybe a bit Sweden.
Below there were only two numbers, as stark as could be:
99%: Great Britain; 1% Scandinavian.
What?! I stared at the map and fiddled with the computer, looking for a more refined, or subtle, breakdown of my mysterious past, but there was none. That was it. Where were the French, the Russians, the tinge of “Arab blood”? What happened to Spain and the Moorish Empire, the tawny Kramer cousins from Pennsylvania, three hundred years of possible intermingling here in America?
Diversity? Well, now at least I know where I got my temper, my aversion to rowing, and hyper-competitiveness in the tennis court: 1% Viking. Ninety nine dollars: one dollar for every percent that I was “British”!
I didn’t tell my wife for days, and kept my secret from my students, too. I thought fondly back to my original genetic analyst back in Brooklyn, my lovely, long-limbed hostess with her sleepy demeanor and old-school gym shorts: over a cup of tepid tea, she had taken the full measure of my phenotype — freckles, thrift store clothes, self-cut hair, a general aura of waspy befuddlement — and for only the price of a New York City Subway token, delivered her verdict: “White Bread.”
I wrote about the interesting history behind the ethnic slurs “white bread” and “plain vanilla” for Taki’s Magazine in 2014.
(David Updike mentions in this article that his father’s father was born in Trenton, NJ, which is where John Updike’s father was born.)
So it’s worth noting for literary history’s sake that the great Updike was at least 98% Northwestern European by ancestry.
The first ever four digit day for comments: a combination of lots of posts by me, Trump giving a good speech, and yet another terrorist attack (fortunately, only of medium size).
Commenter candid_observer notes:
I think the deep problem Trump faces is in finding staffers who are both experienced and aligned with his views.
For reasons ever to be mysterious in the future, the notion that America is for Americans has become anathema not only on the left, but across the vast proportion of the right; likewise the idea that truth is more important than political correctness. And virtually no one with professional political experience can understand how a politician might combine genuinely populist economic policies with opposition to immigration and to fruitless wars in distant lands.
As deeply rooted in common sense this set of views might be, they are utterly alien to our current political class.
Trump can either train novice political staffers lacking prejudices against his views to come up to speed, or hire experienced political staffers in the hope they can quickly dispense with their prejudices against his views.
Such, I think, must be the fate of a revolutionary politician.