What do Punjab and Italy's Po Valley have in common? More than you might imagine, which explains why immigrant Sikhs from the Indian state became the backbone of Italy's most famous cheese-making industry. On the flat plains of the Po Valley is the small town of Novellara, in the province of Reggio Emilia.
It's not far from the city of Parma - and from Parma and Reggio Emilia comes the name of one of the world's most famous cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano... in English, Parmesan. Under EU rules, it has to be made exclusively from milk produced and transformed into cheese in this area of northern Italy.
The heat is on. Besides the obstruction investigation and the money laundering investigation, there's talk of something else--something really bad--coming down the pike from a foreign intelligence service.
Some people think it's from Russian intelligence--the infamous pee tape. I doubt that tape exists, and what I heard from my connected friend was something else, something worse than the pee tape. And I heard it's coming from an ally that fears Trump is seriously endangering the West, and that he must be stopped. If what I heard turns out to be true (I'm skeptical because it's so bad), it would be the end for Trump.
Yesterday's press release from Deputy AG Rosenstein looks like a "brace yourselves" statement that sounds about right given the rumor that's circulating. Why else issue this weird, enigmatic warning unless something very bad were about to drop?
The idea being that the FBI director and AG work for the president, so he can order the end of any investigation. What Gingrich doesn't mention is that he played a leading role in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and obstruction of justice was one of the two grounds for impeachment.
Speaking of gaslighting, here's Newt Gingrich complaining on Fox News today:
"You've had a series of things which send signals that tell people that it's okay to hate the president."
This is rich, given that Gingrich was the principal driver of a more focused demonization strategy in GOP politics. In his infamous 1996 GOPAC Memo, he advised fellow Republicans to overcome their hesitation to use harsh words to describe their opponents. He went as far as creating a list of words they should use. A sample follows:
To Sarkis's explanation of gaslighting I would add that hurling accusations at truthful accusers creates a sense of chaos in which there is nothing resembling a common ground of reality. Instead, a state of interpersonal insanity prevails. At the heart of gaslighting, the gaslighter tries to make the target person feel overwhelmed and crazy. Then, when the target of the gaslighting explodes, the gaslighter can shake their head and say condescendingly: "see, you're out of control. You're nuts. You need professional help."
Certainly, Trump has created a field of unreality around him. Closer to Trump, presidential spokespersons do summersaults trying to keep up with his changing versions of the truth. In the larger social and political environment, much of what Trump injects into public discussion is flat-out, provably false.
A couple of days ago, Ivanka Trump said she was surprised by the level of visciouness she's encountered in D.C. She's been ridiculed for the extreme irony of her complaint, and mocked for her lack of awareness, but her statement also raises the possiblity that she's knowingly engaging in gaslighting, having learned at the feet of the master. Can she really be so unaware of her father's habit of vicious insult and defammatory statements about opponents and critics? He is, indisputably, the king of political viciousness.
The Lovers is a mildly amusing, not-quite-standard romantic dramedy, featuring solid performances by Tracy Letts and Debra Winger in the lead roles. I didn't love it, but if you really want to see a movie, this will suffice for entertainment. X-ometer rating 83/100
Cynthia Nixon stars as Emily Dickinson in a A Quiet Passion, a film that explores the eccentricities and preoccupations behind the poet's genius and suffering. Lot's of poetry and a great performance by Nixon. 88/100
Wonder Woman is not a typical selection for us, but there's a dearth of good films out there, so we gave it a shot. If you like superheros and comics, this would be a great film for you to see, but for me it only reached 85/100, largely earned with 3-D and special effects in the last 30-40 minutes of the film.
Finally, there's Norman, starring Richard Gere. Most of the film group enjoyed this one more than I did, and I still can't figure out why I didn't like it more than I did. Psychological complexity, politics, Judaism and more universal themes are all part of this joint Israeli-American production. Gere, Steve Buscemi and Leor Ashkenzi turned out nuanced performances, but the whole package just didn't click for me. I found the film group discussion more interesting than the film itself, but don't let my disappointment stop you from seeing it. In our group of 16 people, 12 liked it a lot. X-ometer rating 78/100