Sic Semper …



[UD thanks Mary for the correction.]

The Looming Easter Egg Roll Disaster

The New York Times writes a scary, hard-hitting piece about Melania Trump’s refusal to assume the position of first lady.

Unanswered requests for White House tours, traditionally run by the first lady’s office, have been piling up by the thousands, according to people familiar with the process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. It is not clear how much planning has gone into the elaborate White House events that are among the heaviest tasks for first ladies, such as the annual Easter Egg Roll, which draws 35,000 attendees.

Whither the Easter Egg Roll?


The only thing UD likes about this ugly new administration is watching Madame Trump flip the bird at the beyond-regressive first lady joke.

UD remembers how excited she got when Judith Steinberg Dean said fu-u-u-ck that, I have a medical practice in Vermont. Naively, UD thought at the time that Jacqueline Kennedy whispering along the corridors about the new curtains might be on its way out. But then Michelle Obama, of all people, announced she was going to be “First Mom.”


UD is fully aware of the irony that the first first lady in this country to finally fuck over First Lady but good is a rich idle beauty queen. UD doesn’t care. She wants to get the job done, and Madame Trump is getting it done. Brava.

مبارزه ادامه

My Stealthy Freedom

They should be thrilled she showed up at all.

Few self-respecting women would.

First they came for my daughter’s niqab…

… Then they came for my child bride

From the world of the winding sheets.

The number of times I have heard Saudi women here, who are conditioned to believe that covering is an unquestionable issue, sigh as they watch uncovered women on TV and say لهم الدنبا ولنا الأخرة (they get the world and we get the afterlife).


Kill the whore!

A contemptible and badly argued attack on burqa bans.

In the aftermath of Merkel’s call for a German burqa ban, it was inevitable that someone would write the following:

Such actions toward a religious group are not new for Germany, and one might believe that lessons learned long ago would be transferable to new times and circumstances.

Put aside the pissy prissy style in which the writer, more in sorrow than in anger, instructs Germans not to be Nazis again; think rather of the world of fascist burqa-banning states the writer conjures up, those other notorious Nazi regimes – Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, France, Switzerland – that have passed partial or full bans.

UD also finds remarkable the writer’s claim that since some women have been kept masked and swaddled all their lives, it would be an unkindness to unwrap them:

It is simply what they have been taught that decent women should do in public. It has been the practice of all the women they know for as long as they have been alive. For these women banning the veil has several possible effects. At best it makes them profoundly uncomfortable when they are forced into the public realm. It would be like passing a law that says I can’t wear a shirt in public. I don’t have a religious rational for shirt wearing, but having always worn shirts I’m quite uncomfortable with making my body an object for public viewing and quite possibly public judgment… It is difficult if not impossible to change a lifetime of learning reinforced through practice. Even if these women changed their minds, changing the emotional response to their own behavior would be nearly impossible. And frankly no one is trying to change their minds. The result for these women will simply be to drive them indoors, to keep them from going out in public.

Let’s unpack this, shall we? Note that the writer has suddenly decided he’s not talking about veiling the face – and this whole argument is about face, not body, veiling – so that really just as he gets to wear a shirt, they get to wear burqas, see?

And anyway, once you’ve been raised inside a cloth cage, you get comfortable with that and you find you don’t want to be uncaged. Again we’re treated to the writer’s pissy condescension:

It is difficult if not impossible to change a lifetime of learning reinforced through practice.

I don’t know… The Germans managed to de-nazify, didn’t they? … But wait! Maybe not…

One begins to discern a philosophy of life here, ja?

And here’s the kicker.

Even if these women changed their minds, changing the emotional response to their own behavior would be nearly impossible. And frankly no one is trying to change their minds.

Again, it’s “nearly impossible” for people to change so fuck it. And anyway… What does the writer mean when he writes that frankly no one is trying to change their minds?

Well, let’s see. We could take this frank admission of the frank truth a couple of ways.

1. These women live in Salafist environments and that’s just the way it is and that ain’t gonna change so leave them alone. You can’t change Nazis and you can’t change Salafists. Taking off their burqa would simply make these women hypocrites.

2. These women don’t live in democracies where everyone every day – from the baker on the corner to their children’s teachers to lawmakers – is in fact in various overt and covert ways trying to change their minds. Where the very legislation at issue is about trying to change their minds. No, no. Democracies do nothing to establish, protect and affirm themselves; they do nothing to teach the values of democracy to their citizens. Frankly no one’s trying with these women – and with the men who in many cases are the real problem here – so let it be.

“The full veil is not appropriate here. It should be banned wherever it’s legally possible.”

Angela Merkel joins the chorus.

UD is thankful for her strong statement. We’re getting there.

And by the way. The full veil is not appropriate anywhere.


You can watch the reaction she got here.


But Burhan Kesici, the general secretary of Germany’s Islamic Council, criticised Merkel’s comments. “The government should carefully study similar moves in France, and ask themselves if one side-effect of such a ban is that it can actually lead to women feeling more excluded from society,” he said.

Wirklich? More excluded than if they walk around completely covered in a black sack – down to their fingertips? Their mouths covered by cloth for enforced silence and difficulty breathing? Vitamin D deficiency for them and their babies because no sunlight?

If this describes, for you, any sort of “society” at all, let me know.


A voice from the left.


This symbol would divide humanity between those of glorious body, graced with no less glorious a face, and those whose bodies and faces are an outrage in the flesh, a scandal, a filthy thing not to be seen but hidden or neutralized.

A classic take-down of the pro-slavery position.

Australian Judge Audrey Balla is the Woman of the Hour

A Sydney woman “refused to take off her burqa in court to give evidence in a civil case, where she is suing the police over a terrorism raid at her house.” (As a result of that raid, her old man’s in jail.)

BALLA: Are you proposing that she would have her face covered while she’s giving evidence and being cross-examined?

LAWYER FOR THE WOMAN BRINGING THE SUIT: I’m afraid so. Yes. It’s not very satisfactory, your Honour, but it’s something we have to live [with].

BALLA: It’s not something I have to live [with].

Indeed, the judge has ruled that the woman cannot give evidence wearing the burqa (several accommodations were offered to the woman; she refused them all).

Post-Semicolon America…

… in McSweeney’s.


UD thanks Wendy for the link.

The Canadian Route Out of This.

Yvonne, a character in Malcolm Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano (1947), talks to Hugh, the brother of her alcoholic husband, about her plan to take her husband, Geoffrey, out of Mexico, and move with him to a farm in Canada. She is also hoping to escape, there, the oncoming European war.

She and her husband’s brother are riding horses together near Cuernavaca.


‘Well… What’s to stop us going to Canada, for instance?’

‘… Canada?… Are you serious? Well, why not, but… ’


They had now reached the place where the railway took its wide leftward curve and they descended the embankment. The grove had dropped behind but there was still thick woodland to their right (above the centre of which had appeared again the almost friendly landmark of the prison watchtower) and stretching far ahead. A road showed briefly along the margin of the woods.

They approached this road slowly, following the single-minded thrumming telegraph poles and picking a difficult course through the scrub.

‘I mean why Canada more than British Honduras? Or even Tristan da Cunha? A little lonely perhaps, though an admirable place for one’s teeth, I’ve heard. Then there’s Gough Island, hard by Tristan. That’s uninhabited. Still, you might colonize it. Or Sokotra, where the frankincense and myrrh used to come from and the camels climb like chamois my favourite island in the Arabian Sea.’

But Hugh’s tone though amused was not altogether sceptical as he touched on these fantasies, half to himself, for Yvonne rode a little in front; it was as if he were after all seriously grappling with the problem of Canada while at the same time making an effort to pass off the situation as possessing any number of adventurous whimsical solutions. He caught up with her.

‘Hasn’t Geoffrey mentioned his genteel Siberia to you lately?’ she said. ‘You surely haven’t forgotten he owns an island in British Columbia?’

‘On a lake, isn’t it? Pineaus Lake. I remember. But there isn’t any house on it, is there? And you can’t graze cattle on fircones and hardpan.’

‘That’s not the point, Hugh.’

‘Or would you propose to camp on it and have your farm elsewhere?’

‘Hugh, listen – ’

‘But suppose you could only buy your farm in some place like Saskatchewan,’ Hugh objected.

An idiotic verse came into his head, keeping time with the horse’s hooves: Oh take me back to Poor Fish River, Take me back to Onion Lake, You can keep the Guadalquivir, Como you may likewise take. Take me back to dear old Horsefly, Aneroid or Gravelburg…

‘In some place with a name like Product. Or even Dumble,’ he went on. ‘There must be a Dumble. In fact I know there’s a Dumble.’

‘All right. Maybe it is ridiculous. But at least it’s better than sitting here doing nothing!’

[…] At this moment the best and easiest and most simple thing in the world seemed to be the happiness of these two people in a new country. And what counted seemed probably the swiftness with which they moved. He thought of the Ebro. Just as a long-planned offensive might be defeated in its first few days by unconsidered potentialities that have now been given time to mature, so a sudden desperate move might succeed precisely because of the number of potentialities it destroys at one fell swoop…

… He all but shook her horse with enthusiasm. ‘I can see your shack now. It’s between the forest and the sea and you’ve got a pier going down to the water over rough stones, you know, covered with barnacles and sea anemones and starfish. You’ll have to go through the woods to the store.’ Hugh saw the store in his mind’s eye. The woods will be wet. And occasionally a tree will come crashing down. And sometimes there will be a fog and that fog will freeze. Then your whole forest will become a crystal forest. The ice crystals on the twigs will grow like leaves. Then pretty soon you’ll be seeing the jack-in-the-pulpits and then it will be spring.


Canada is the perennial place, the sanctuary which draws you into a crystal forest. Yet Point One wherever you go there you are. And Point Two

Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.

And Point Three (intimately related to Points One and Two):

There may be useful reconsiderations and redescriptions, but you really did have those parents, you really did make of it what you made of it, you really did have those siblings, really did grow up in that economic climate. These are all hard difficult facts. Redescribed, they can be modified, things can evolve. But it isn’t magic.

You’re a problem; and now your president is a problem too. Okay. But this place is where you really are. Dig your heels in and put up your dukes.

Stuck Inside of ‘thesda with the Memphis Blues Again

Bethesdan UD turns to our Nobel laureate, Bob Dylan, as she grapples with a new, rabidly anti-Bethesda, world.


Stuck Inside of ‘thesda with the Memphis Blues Again

[Sing it]

Breibart tried to tell me
To stay away from the lame stream
He said that all the media
Just keeps me in the same dream
An’ I said, “Oh, I didn’t know that
And now we’ve got this president
Who just smoked my eyelids
An’ punched my cigarette.”
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of ‘thesda
With the Memphis blues again

Trump won last night
He’s got us in a lock
Now everybody talks about
How badly they were shocked
In ‘thesda, when it happened
We knew we’d lost control
So we built a fire on Main Street
And shot it full of holes
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of ‘thesda
With the Memphis blues again

To quote Bill Maher: “When they go low…

… we get high.”

In the midst of the disaster I took my dog for a walk.

Needed to get some air; needed to be somewhere other than in front of a screen. The dog was thrilled; we almost never take evening walks.

The air was cool and fresh. Nothing like a clear autumn night. All of the lights were on in my neighbors’ houses as they stared at the same screen I’d had to escape.

Would they, I wondered, drift out onto the street after the election was officially called? The way some people take a night walk at midnight on New Year’s?

I walked by the Trocki house and saw them in their living room, the television brightly shining… I felt like knocking on their door and joining them, just being sociable with them…

May you live in interesting times. An ancient Chinese curse.

“Look at it this way,” said Mr UD. “The housing market will collapse. But we just sold the Cambridge house.” Yes. Got in under the wire there.

Could it be that the United States, unlike so many other countries, is still not ready for a woman president?

After walking up and down Rokeby Avenue, my dog and I headed for the woodland paths in my backyard. But as she suddenly strained at the leash, I realized that a herd of deer had probably bedded down in the high grass, and we’d be wise to avoid them. So I headed back to the front garden, and then to the front door. How does Katherine Ann Porter’s somber story “Pale Horse Pale Rider” conclude? “Now,” the narrator bitterly announces…

there would be time for everything.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same…”

Yes, the evening’s gotten bad enough for UD to haul out the Kipling.

And meanwhile where is it written that UD gets to have everything she wants to have? Your always absurdly privileged blogeuse would like to live in a country that elects not only Barack Obama but also Hillary Clinton; but she doesn’t always get everything she likes.

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