November 6, 2004

Photoshopped! And congratulations to the Badgers.

Hey, the Scrawl did a cool Photoshop of one of my peace rally pictures! I feel like I've arrived somewhere or other.

Oh, and let me take the opportunity to refer back to my other photo essay of the day and say congratulations to the Badgers on winning the last home game of the season. I went back to my office in the Law School after that peace rally and worked there for a while. I wanted to leave before it got dark so I could enjoy the walk home on such a beautiful day. But it got dark awfully early, and I ended up staying until five. Walking home on University Avenue, in the late twilight, I passed within a block of the lit-up stadium. I could hear the blurred but loud sound of the public address system, and as I walked by I suddenly could make out what I was hearing. "Shake it up, baby!" It was the great Beatles version of "Twist and Shout." It felt good to walk by at a distance, feeling the vague energy of 80,000 human beings emanating from the stadium and hearing a beloved recording of my youth. When I was younger, things like that used to make me feel sad and alienated from the real life that other people seemed to live squarely inside of. But now that I'm older, I don't feel like that at all. I find the existence of exciting life at a medium distance and not being part of it quite pleasant!

Is marriage a union of one man and one woman?

An answer. (Warning: it's audio.)

"1-2-3-4! We don't want the U.S. war! 5-6-7-8! Organize! Stop the state."

My first inkling that there is a peace rally up ahead is the sight of this woman:



Is that what peace rally folk wear this season? The makeshift poncho says "Sometimes I don't think I'm being sufficiently appalled." That's subdued and bemused. But I do see her later at the rally.

Here's where the rally comes in sight, on Library Mall. It's a very small group gathering at one end of the Mall:



People are standing around, many of them seem to be onlookers, not particularly involved in the event.



Some have brought signs. This is the most artistic one:



It reads "O Come Let Us Abhor Him" and pictures Bush as the infant Jesus. This is the most crude one (the woman holding it poses for photographs):



A speaker holds forth. "I look out at all you people. And there are so many of you!" Yeah, why not start off with a lie? It sets a nice tone. The speaker goes on to tell an elaborate story about Native Americans refusing to sign some document, which has a punchline expressing cynicism about the government, but it doesn't seem to have much to do with the war.



The speech, delivered through a bullhorn, seems to patch together lines from ancient speeches. There are bits related to the election tied to tattered dreams of revolution: "We'll show you what democracy really looks like!" Didn't we just see what democracy looks like? Isn't that what you have a problem with?

A man with a flag in the back of the crowd listens:



The speakers make an effort to get the crowd to yell out responses like "YES!" or "NO!" or (in answer to "What do we want?") "PEACE!" and (in answer to "When do we want it?") "NOW!" The most coherent part of the speech is the statement that "the coffers of the peace movement are thin" and that a bag is going to be passed around and money ought to be put in it. There is a lot of emphasis on "organizing," but the people telling us about the importance of organizing don't seem very organized. Note the speaker in the corner:



I'll just say if you're going to ask people for a contribution, we'd all love to see the plan. Well, at least there was a plan to get the banners at the front of the group to the back of the group and then march the group up toward the Capitol to tell these lawmakers what we think about the war.



But the state government isn't really running the war, and they aren't there on Saturdays anyway, and isn't it a bit lunkheaded to schedule your rally at the very time everyone is getting all psyched up about the last home game of the football season?

The crowds of Badger revellers on State Street vastly exceed the peace marchers in number and spirit. The peace movement leaders, bullhorn-amplified, try to get a chant going as they march up State Street:
"1-2-3-4! We don't want the U.S. war! 5-6-7-8! Organize! Stop the state."
If my 1960s memories are still in order, that's an old anti-Vietnam War chant -- except that it wasn’t "the U.S. war," it was "your f**king war," and it wasn't "stop the state," it was "smash the state."

Here's a good overview of the signage:



The one all the way to the left says: "The Madness of King George/His war on terrorism is licensing terrorism/His support for Israel makes the U.S.A. enemy #1." The top center one, near the rainbow flag, reads "No flag is big enough to cover the wrongness of killing." One sign refers to the debunked news story about 100,000 civilian deaths. Another (near the bottom) has a drawing of a teddy bear under the word "yes" and a drawing of a gun under the word "no."

I walk in the opposite direction, pausing for a moment to check out a man who has set up an elaborate display of signs, books, DVDs, and stickers ("9/11 = Neo-con con"). I've seen him before. He's trying to sell the theory that Bush is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. He's standing a few feet from a group of dressed up people who seem to have just come out of a campus chapel. They seem to be a wedding party. The women are dressed in high heels and glittery dresses, and the 9/11 conspiracy man is having a loud argument with a passerby. He says, "I've yet to hear an argument from anyone who's read this whole book. Read the book, and then come back an argue with me and tell me why it's wrong." I laugh out loud at the pre-condition he's set for any argument: you have to read the damn book he's promoting first. Contemptible though his 9/11 theory is, I'm more disgusted that he's crass enough to go ahead and spoil the happy atmosphere around someone's wedding. He's horribly self-involved, yet he probably imagines that he's trying to save the world.

Today, the streets of Madison ran red.

The morning after the election, I noted a chalking on the sidewalk outside of the Law School, promoting an anti-war rally for Saturday, and I wrote that I'd attend and have some pictures and descriptions for you. So now it is Saturday, and I have come downtown, and I can tell you that today the streets ran red! Not red with blood or anti-war-demonstration-style paint symbolizing blood. No, the streets were teeming with Badger fans appropriately clad in red sweatshirts and T-shirts. Here you see the good people of Wisconsin stoking the fires of fanship at State Street Brats, under the watchful gaze of our leader, Bucky:



Many brats were consumed – we call them brats, Senator! – and much beer, under the sacred protection of our lady, Liberty:



I hear a cheer ring out, and I look up, here's the Bucky Wagon tearing around the corner.



Everybody's happy. It's the last home game of the season, and we've got a pretty damn good shot at finishing this day – it's a beautiful day, too! – with an unbeaten at-home record. So good luck to the Badgers, and may all the wonderful visitors have a great time. Don't get too drunk. It was only noon, and I saw a few people staggering drunkenly. I hear a beautiful girl – the streets are full of beautiful girls! -- say to a boy, "Are you going to be completely wasted when I see you later?" A little dog tied up outside of Chin's is lonely, but people stop now and then to pet him and tell him how cute he is:



And he is:



I go to my usual café, but it's crowded, and I worry that by the time I get to the front of the line, there won't be a table, so I leave and go over to the new café that's just off State Street. "Free Internet" says the sign, and I go in and take some pictures while I wait for my latte. Here's the table I choose:



Pretty! And there's this cool used bookstore off to the side:



There's a nice little tented alcove, which is probably most fun in the evening, when people come here for drinks and desserts:



Sounds nice! Why don't you tell us the name of the place? I'm afraid I'm going to have to punish them because the WiFi did not work. First, it asked for a password, and I went up and had to call "hello?" into the backroom to get a person to come out and let me know if I needed a password. She wrote down a 10-digit code for me to enter, but it still didn't work, after several tries. I went back up, had to call out again, and said the password wasn't working. Her response, in its entirety, was "I'm not an IT person." Arrgghh! At least say you're sorry. And give me a cookie or something!

So I won't give them a free advertisement on my popular blog. And I will probably never come back here again. I will continue to frequent my favorite State Street cafés: Espresso Royale, Michelangelo's, and Fair Trade. Business owners, take note: do not disappoint the people who care about WiFi!

But maybe everything happens for a reason, because without WiFi, I leave the café early, and I walk back toward Library Mall. There, in the distance … can it be? … it's the peace rally! Did I get some pictures? Oh, yes I did! But it will take me a few minutes to sort through them, and this post is already long enough, and I don't want all that peace rally stuff in this post anyway. I just want to end this post by saying: GO BADGERS!

Or are Bush voters just dumb?

Yeah, they must be dumb! That would explain it. Jeremy's trying that theory. [UPDATE: The post was withdrawn.]

Meanwhile, to continue my trip around the UW profblogs:

Tonya thinks an apple pie might help cure the post-election gloom. Apple pie? Isn't that a bit red state-y? She has some other ideas too, ranging from shopping to blue-state secession.

Nina notes the effects of three sleepless nights, including the fact that she forgot everything she and I talked about over a comfort food dinner (meatloaf and mashed potatoes) at Crave on Thursday night. Great, now I can stop worrying about all the wrong things I said. And, no, I didn't gloat or say anything mean about politics. I'm just embarrassed at a couple gossipy things I said! One in particular. And I hope that doesn't prompt memory recovery by Nina! By the way, aren't you impressed that a bitter Kerry supporter went out to dinner on Thursday with someone who voted for Bush?

"The Columnist Manifesto" is still fuming that Kerry didn't fight a legal battle in Ohio. Looks like somebody needs to go shopping! Or maybe some pie...

Gordon ended up voting for Bush. You may remember that I linked his blog (from my temporary Instapundit perch) on Election Day, letting people know he was undecided and had a comments section, so there's the old blogosphere in action. Right now, Gordon is one of the many lawprofs who are in Washington doing the "meat market" interviews for new appointments. Now that's an experience that might require a lot of pie to recover from.

Cross-country driving mania.

Yesterday, I did a post on long cross-country drives, which is a special little mania of mine. The post brought this email:
I once drove straight through from (approximately) Ft. Madison, IA to Monck's Corner, SC (just north of Charleston). A bit more than 1150 miles, as I remember it, and I made it in just over 21 hours. The most amazing think about the whole trip was that, while well over 75% of it was via Interstate, I saw not one, single police car the whole way. Wonder what the odds of that are?

Also, back in the '60s, when I was younger and dumber (I hope) a fellow cadet and I drove back from the St. Louis area to Denver on the way to the Air Force Academy. We were taking his sister-in-law to Denver prior to returning to the Academy. It was a bit over 850 miles and we made the trip in a bit over 11 hours, counting all stops. That's an average of over 75 MPH, and most of Interstate 70 (or 40 or whichever one it is) didn't exist. We used mostly old US 40 between St. Louis and Denver. Other than that, it was all two-lane highway. Once when we stopped in Kansas for gas, I went to check the oil and popped the hood. The engine block was glowing a dull orange. I figured since the oil pressure gauge was registering good pressure I really, really didn't need to touch that dipstick. We were driving a 327 '65 Chevy Impala with a Muncie 4-speed. We drove US 40 in the middle of the night pretty much flat-out, pedal to the metal, and the speedo registered pegged. Don't know how fast we were actually going. Plus 100 MPH, for sure. Nice car. Wish I still had it.
Yikes! A glowing orange engine. In the middle of Kansas. I've gotten myself in trouble a few times driving. I've made some mistake that I still shudder to think about. Like the emailer, I've driven very long distances -- from Orlando to Madison -- without seeing one police car. Now, I'm thinking I'd like to do another long drive again. Kansas is one of the states I've never been to. I'd like to drive through all the states, including Alaska (and some day I'll get to Hawaii). I could hit the most as-yet-undriven-through states if I did a northwestern trip: North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon. If I did that, then the only states I haven't visited, aside from Alaska and Hawaii, would be Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and South Carolina. My all-time favorite drive was through Death Valley. Also great: the Badlands. And it is just great fun driving across Nevada on Route 50 --the "loneliest road in America" the signs posted along the way tell you. It's nice to do the two-lane blacktop through the desert. I also loved driving from Boulder to Sante Fe, especially the Arkansas Basin and the northern New Mexican landscape that let me know I'd overestimated Georgia O'Keeffe's powers of imagination.

That email reminded me that I used to drive an Impala, a 1961 seafoam green convertible. My father had bought it new and passed it on to me when he bought another car a few years later. I now realize what a fabulous classic car I drove to high school every day in the late 1960s. I also realize that I need a new car now to do the kind of driving I like! I loved my New Beetle when I got it five years ago, but the fun has worn off. Yesterday, I got a big black envelope in the mail, obviously an advertisement.

"What the hell is this? Chevrolet is wasting money sending me a big advertisement. What's the point of putting it in this big envelope?" I say with my usual outrage that anyone would dare to send me an advertisement in the mail and amazed that they would put it inside an envelope, which would normally end up in the trash, unopened.

"You're opening it," said Chris, making me laugh.

"Oh! It's for Corvette!" I say and pretty soon I am literally petting the glossy pages of the brochure. Within the minute, I'm checking out the Corvette websites, trying to find a price, discussing with Chris the problem of a person with two sons buying a car with no backseat, and comparison shopping for an Audi TT Coupe, which does have a place to put a third and fourth person in a pinch. "Mmmm ... what color?"

"Red! Then you could sing 'Little Red Corvette.'"

"If I got red I would think the song 'Little Red Corvette' whenever I was in the car. Every time I parked it, I'd think about parking it 'sideways.' Much as I love Prince, that might get a little annoying. Plus, if I got a red car, I'd have to have my house painted. Or move."

"Black."

"Or blue. I like the blue ... this particular blue. I'm really quite opposed to most blue, especially for a car. I object to a blue car, as a general principle. But this blue -- 'Le Mans Blue Metallic' -- I like that!"

Spinning the election: it's all about religion.

I've been watching the post-election news analysis shows and trying to catch up with my paper and on-line reading, and though I'm seeing a lot of material, it's awfully repetitious. Exactly how does a single message, a single explanation for a complex event, get framed and spread so quickly? Sure, there were some polls, but the exit polls that seem to provide the fuel for the analysis were wrong in predicting a big Kerry win, and, in any event, someone had to predetermine which choices to put on those exit polls, and the "moral values" option that got picked by so many people doesn't necessarily mean what those who picked that option meant to say. Now, pundits are purporting to describe the state of mind of millions of human beings, and they've swooped down on religion, specifically fundamentalist Christian religion, and even more specifically, antipathy toward gay people.

This explanation seems to be appealing to those who are disappointed that Kerry lost because it is a way of saying: there's nothing wrong with us, we lost because you are bad people. Folded into that idea is an assumption that antipathy toward gay people is an outrage, but antipathy toward fundamentalist Christians is completely acceptable. Folded even more deeply into that is an assumption that unreadiness to accept gay marriage equals bigotry toward gay persons and an assumption that Christians with traditionalist attitudes adhere to a literal, Biblical form of Christianity.

The wide margins by which the gay marriage referenda passed in all of the states where it was on the ballot, including the usually socially liberal Oregon, shows that there is a wide range of persons who aren't ready to accept gay marriage. And, frankly, it was not that many years ago that the strongest proponents of gay rights were hostile to the gay marriage movement and were very critical of Andrew Sullivan in particular for pushing this issue instead of a more socially and politically left agenda. It was not very long ago that clever gay rights lawyers tried to think of ways to prevent gay marriage proponents from setting the gay rights agenda. It seems as though everyone has forgotten the real history of the gay rights movement.

Being against gay marriage is itself a complex matter that can channel all sorts of thoughts. Some people are just trying to stop courts from imposing it on the country; they may simply think it is the sort of question that needs to work through the political process more slowly. Some people just haven't gotten past the traditional definition of marriage. I've talked to some people who are not particularly religious and don't seem to care about any fundamentalist religious beliefs who just repeat "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman." It seems obvious to them and impervious to more complicated arguments. I think over time that will change. I, myself, favor the recognition of gay marriage. But I certainly don't think those who mean to thwart the judicial recognition of a gay marriage right are necessarily or even usually expressing hatred toward gay persons. Demonizing your opponent -- which includes 57% of Oregonians -- should marginalize you. And yet somehow this Bush-voters-are-religious-bigots meme has pervaded the post-election commentary. Can we please get a grip?

November 5, 2004

Marines "eager to prove their mettle and at last confront the insurgency head on."

Will MSM give us more positive-sounding reports from Iraq now that there's no longer an incentive to affect the election with Iraq-is-a-mess slanting? (I hope we can never quite figure out the answer to that question because the insurgency flags now that it has lost its hope of pressuring a new, more pliable President into abandoning Iraq.) Here's a taste -- from Robert F. Worth of the NYT -- of what feels to me like a new attitude toward covering the war:
Many of the young marines expected to lead the attack have not yet been part of a major battle. Most of those who took part in the operation in Falluja in April have been sent home. And though some of the commanders here fought the first phase of the war last year, many of the rank and file arrived here for the first time in June.

All of them, though, seem eager to prove their mettle and at last confront the insurgency head on.

"It's kind of like the cancer of Iraq," said Lt. Steven Berch, a lanky platoon commander, speaking of Falluja. "It's become a kind of hotel for the insurgents. Hopefully getting rid of them will help to stabilize the whole country."

Others point to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is said to be using Falluja as a base.

"We're doing the right thing here," said First Lt. Christopher Wilkens, pausing for breath during a drill. "These guys are terrorists, there are connections to Al Qaeda, and fighting them is what we came here to do."
And note what is not there. Last week, wouldn't there have been some material about misleading connections between Iraq and al Qaeda? Wouldn't numbers of the dead and wounded have been juxtaposed to the Marines' gung-ho statements to make them seem naive? Wouldn't they have located a Marine who'd say he didn't like Bush or longed to go home? Instead, we get the extra information that the Marines who've already fought in Falluja have gone home.

The article ends with this rousing tribute to the Marines:
None of the dangers seem to rattle their confidence. Between drills, they do pull-ups and play touch football. In the evening, laughter echoes around the barracks where they live, along with heavy metal music blasting from CD players.

"I don't think about it," said Pfc. Anthony Mells, a 20 year-old marine from Queens, when asked about the risks of battle. "It's all about motivation. Getting wounded is not in my job description."

It's a Gallia day.

Silflay Hraka remembered that post I did last Sunday about Bob Kerrey saying the people of Gallia, Ohio "don't give a damn about the war in Iraq" and checked the election results. Kerrey was trying to help John Kerry with this remark, but it turns out those people, who according to Kerrey, only cared about their own immediate economic interests, actually, overwhelmingly voted for Bush.

Note: The post title is intended to be a reference to this Groucho Marx joke I like. [NOTE: It's audio!]

"The Threepenny Opera" plays in Madison.

I love the music of "The Threepenny Opera" and wore out my vinyl LP of the Shakespeare Festival Production's cast recording (the one with the brilliant Raul Julia). I have never seen a live production of the play though, and I was going to go to the version playing now in Madison, but then I saw this in the the Capital Times:
The decadence of the Weimar Republic led to the horrors of Nazi Germany. Imagine someone turning that chilling historical scenario into a musical.

Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill did in their portentous 1928 classic "The Threepenny Opera." ... In this show Germany's future resembles America's present, the director says. ... The show's director, Patricia Boyette, a UW-Madison professor of theater and drama, talked about the production in a recent phone interview:

What are the basic connections you will make between the two political eras?

Well, we're not making it time- and place-specific. So the play really has the flavor of 1928, the year it was originally set in. It's like the Weimar Republic or Chicago in terms of thhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gife corruption and the excessive qualities of those times.

Whether it's Al Capone or pre-Nazi Germany, there's a real similarity to our times. And I think people were not paying attention to what was happening. There was a very self-indulgent behavior and incredible corruption which was accepted.

That's part of the parallel to our times and that's really frightening. So I think it laid the groundwork for Hitler and Nazi Germany to move in. People were more focused on their own pleasures.

Are there parallels in Brecht's play to how the Patriot Act has imposed social restrictions in the guise of personal freedom and protection?

I think so, in the crimes that come up in the play. And the army song glorifies war and it's just devastating, and it's this little new musical number that's very upbeat and great fun. It's chilling. And the government's attitude toward crime is, whatever is good for the individual. If they profit from a murder, then that's great. If not, they get very moralistic. It's all money. Like it's all oil today.

UPDATE: I see this post is drawing a lot of people from here, where a blogger says that I go to the theater except when I "don't like the director's politics." Now, how does that make any sense? I've said I'm very interested in the play itself, and obviously I don't agree at all with the playwright's politics! It's not the director's politics per se that keep me away from this production; it is that the way those politics are expressed that makes me infer that the production will be inferior. I'm not opposed to things that challenge me, but I'm severely opposed to wasting my time on bad or boring things, and I make harsh decisions about what to avoid wasting my time and money on. Most play productions (and most movies) are BAD, and I have many other things I like to do with the time I have left on this earth.

Madison and driving.

The End Zone has lots to say about the drive from Ft. Worth to Madison and about Madison itself, where I read it is a beautiful day, so I glance out my window and see that, in fact, it is. I've got to get out more.
Departed 5:30 AM. Arrived 10:00 PM. Traveled 1030 miles in 990 minutes, breaking mythic "1000 minute" barrier. Woo hoo!

Gear: 2 turkey sandwiches, 2 Peanut Butter and Red Plum Jam sandwiches, carrots, Tootsie Pops(orange), Snickers, Dr. Pepper, water, ice chest, road atlas(w/route highlighted).
That's the way I drive too. Straight through. I've done Boston to Madison in one day and even Madison to Wendover, Nevada in one day. That second one, I must admit, was a lot further than I really meant to go in one day, but I made the egregious geographical error of thinking it was a minor matter to decide to go past Salt Lake City and just stop in the next town.

Anyway, I like End Zone's choice of food. If I prepared ahead of time I probably would just make a pile of all peanut butter sandwiches or, if dieting, a lot of cashew nuts. (I recently drove from Ithaca to Madison in one day entirely on Diet Pepsi and cashews.) But what I usually do in my extra long driving days is stop only when the car needs gas and only consume whatever strikes my fancy in the gas station store. I've driven long distances on caramel corn and Twizzlers and bottled Frappucino and that sort of thing. It's fun! (And crazy.)

Teresa's look of relief.

On Teresa's look of relief -- noted here -- consider this (again, from the Newsweek article):
Later came Kerry campaign's post-convention "Sea to Shining Sea" tour: a 3,500-mile bus and train trek that was not a happy trip for Teresa. With each passing day she made less effort to hide her displeasure. Audiences were mystified when Teresa turned her back to them at daylight rallies and wore dark sunglasses and a hat at night (backstage, the candidate's wife complained of migraines and sore eyes). As they reached the climax of the tour, an hourlong "family vacation" hike in the Grand Canyon, the planned happy-family- vacation was disintegrating in plain view. Daughter Vanessa didn't enjoy being a prop, Teresa was complaining of migraines and telling her husband she couldn't walk anymore. The candidate tried to bravely soldier on, pulling his sullen wife and children to show them the magnificent condors flying overhead.
Teresa was an interesting character in the drama of the campaign. Who knows what was really going on, but if I were writing a screenplay, fictionalizing her story, I would say that she was still deeply in love with her husband who died, that she even agreed with his (Republican) politics, and that the whole campaign was for her a horror show. She (the fictionalized Teresa) tried to stand by her vows to the man she had married, at the expense of great personal pain. I would write that he (the fictionalized Kerry) really loved her and wanted to help her, but had to put the campaign first and had to work with his advisors, even though he knew they cared nothing for her personally -- she was just a whining rich bitch to them -- and only heartlessly damned her for not living up to the responsibility to be a political asset, a responsibility that the other candidate's wife fulfilled brilliantly.

I went back to find what I had written about Teresa at the time the Grand Canyon trip was described in the press and I was a bit surprised to see that I had thought of writing a fictionalized account of Teresa before at exactly that point:
I'd be quite interested in a movie that was a fictionalized account of this. I guess it would be a lot like "Primary Colors." I'm picturing all kinds of people trying to keep Teresa in line, trying to convince her to just keep it together until the election, and all the colorful things a wife might scream at a husband in this position like, "I don't even want you to be President!" But if things like that are really happening, I really do feel sorry for John Kerry. It is so difficult to make it through the campaign, but what a horrible struggle it would be if at the same time your marriage hits the rocks and you can't even engage with that problem as a personal problem, but you must think first about the ways in which your spouse is threatening to undermine the hard work of your campaign! And I feel sorry for her too, if these things are happening, because how horrible it would be if you were struggling at the end of your marriage and you could see that the main thing your spouse cared about was keeping you quiet so he could achieve his career goal. Would you freak out and tip over into vengeance and threaten to tell the whole world what a terrible husband he is? Ah, well, that's just my fictionalized, screenplay version. One imagines fiery scenes. I hope things go well for them.
Let's not forget this tragic photograph and that the press, at the time, wrote that Teresa had an attack of "vertigo" on looking into the canyon. Let's not forget that her beloved first husband died in a plane crash.

UPDATE: Here is another earlier post I wrote about Teresa. An excerpt:
Teresa Heinz Kerry is going to be a problem---not because she's "opinionated," the characteristic she pointedly defended in her convention speech, and not merely because she is interested in being the feisty, outspoken kind of First Lady, projecting her personality into the public sphere. She is going to be a problem because of that personality-projecting combined with a lack of real interest in helping her husband. I have no way to know what she really thinks of him, but time and again, I get the impression that she can barely tolerate him and doesn't even particularly care about supporting him. She too is walking through her public appearances, but she's not willing to play the First Lady role. She surely has a right to express herself, and she used her speech to inform us of this fact, though we all know it. But her honest self-expression seems unlikely to help her husband. This is not because we want to squelch female expression and demand a demure First Lady. It is because her honest expressions do not inspire support for the candidate.

Compare Heinz Kerry to other recent feisty First Ladies: Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan. These women had strong personalities (in fact they seemed far more energetic and political than Heinz Kerry), but they also obviously adored their husbands and staunchly agreed with their politics. We could see their love and it rubbed off on us--or at least it rubbed off on those not so opposed to the man as to be immune to such influence. Heinz Kerry shows none of this adoration. In fact, she seems to show a lack of interest in him. Maybe she doesn't even support his politics. (She is the widow of a Republican Senator.) She has an air of world-weariness (perhaps even mourning for the dead Republican). Here is her current husband, a dour-faced man with a droning voice, who is trying his damnedest to look like an optimist, and his own wife will not deign to gaze at him and smile. I'm all for female independence and expression, but why doesn't she want to help him?

The advice from Clinton that Kerry didn't take.

Another (and more significant) revelation in the Newsweek article is that Bill Clinton advised Kerry to support the local efforts to ban gay marriage! Kerry just didn't have Clinton's hardcore political instincts. But if that's the sort of betrayal of core values that is needed for the Democrats to win an election, the party really does have a terrible problem.

Carville wept.

A striking picture, painted in the Newsweek retrospective on the campaign:
At several critical junctures Kerry's campaign (and the candidate himself), struggled to find sure footing. Following the missteps of August, Clinton veteran James Carville confronted Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, telling her she had to step aside and let newly arrived Joe Lockhart run the campaign. So worked up, Carville began to cry, imploring Cahill: "You've got to let him do it." Carville continued, "Nobody can gain power without someone losing power." Carville threatened to go on "Meet the Press" the next day "and tell the truth about how bad it is" if Cahill didn't give effective control to Lockhart.

November 4, 2004

A happy Teresa?

My first reaction to this picture (on seeing it, much larger, in the paper NYT) was that Teresa has a look of happy relief on her face. I wish the couple well. But my second reaction, I can't resist saying, is to think of the caption: Teresa Heinz Kerry carries a cardboard cutout of her husband off the political stage.



Picture credit: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.

UPDATE: Speaking of the irresistible, the author of the news piece accompanying this photo, like Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" and countless others, could not resist connecting Kerry's concession speech to his campaign theme song "No Surrender." He surrendered!

"Something of a woozy existential hangover."

That describes residents of "an island off the coast of Europe" -- aka Manhattan -- as they wake up after the election, in this nicely written piece by Joseph Berger in the NYT. This struck me:
[Some New Yorkers] spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.

"Everybody seems to hate us these days," said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired psychiatrist. "None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, 'We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack.' " ...
Many who are analyzing the election right now comment on how Bush voters don't know their own real economic interests. If only they'd unscrew their tight focus on moral questions, they would have voted for Kerry! If that sort of reasoning about voting patterns is acceptable, we should also consider whether New Yorkers are failing to perceive their own real security issues, and that they ought to have voted for Bush, but that they did not because they maintained a tight focus on the other side of those same moral issues.

Dr. Joseph also had this to say:
"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."

"New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said.
Ah! How familiar I am -- out here in Madison, Wisconsin -- with that sort of thinking. The Times turned to Joseph's seatmate at the little café table on New York's West Side. She interviewed that "New Yorkers are savvy ... We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say." But, wait ... it turns out she's from -- of all places -- Wisconsin! Not Madison, Wisconsin, though, I'd hazard to guess. I'm not sure what the big difference is between so called "street smarts" and being influenced by what your friends say. There is a lot of self-flattery that goes into the belief that your side is the sophisticated, savvy side. My view is that all human beings indulge in self-flattery and stoke their own self-esteem by visualizing those on the other side as ignorant and inept. If only you would think straight and get some information, you would agree with me!

About those exit polls.

On election day, Kerry-supporters got set up for a painful fall when exit polling leaked out and showed Kerry running way ahead. They sat down to parties that night, ready to have a good time, only to be crushed -- slowly! -- as the real results rolled in. Bush supporters, like me, who read the same exit polls early in the day, prepared ourselves in advance for the coming loss, and sat down that night -- I did, at any rate -- with a feeling of resignation, ready to live through the night and get past it all. Gradually, over the course of the evening, the hope that had been set aside revived, even as we spent much of the night thinking things like: Oh, those must just be the early results, coming in from the rural areas; later, the reports from the cities will come in and put Kerry ahead, where the exit polls had him.

So, we learned that the exit polls were wildly wrong. Something must have been wrong with the methodology. Is it that pollsters concentrated on urban areas, where there are more people around to be polled, and these same areas skew for Kerry? Is it that the pollsters took their samples in the middle of the day, and more women vote in this time window, and women skew for Kerry? Is it that Democrats deliberately swooped in on places where exit polling was being done because they wanted to skew polls that, when leaked, would somehow benefit Kerry? Is it that the kind of people who are willing to take the time to fill out the rather lengthy form that is an exit poll tend also to be the kind of people who vote Democratic?

It would be interesting to know what went wrong with the exit polling, and there are some efforts being made to puzzle this out. But first, don't we all want to know why George Bush won the election? Time to spin out some punditry about that. It was those values voters. You know those people who get very focused on homosexuality and abortion to the exclusion of other matters: "'Moral values' was named most frequently, both nationwide and in Wisconsin, when voters were asked what one issue mattered most in selecting a presidential candidate."

But is this wonderful new punditry about the voter behavior based on the same exit polls that proved so wildly inaccurate in predicting that Kerry would win? It seems to me that there are a lot of pundits who are disappointed with the outcome of the election who are a little too eager to say it happened because the Bush side was padded with the votes of people who really agree with the Democratic agenda overall but swing to the Republican side because gay marriage and stem cell research were used to cloud their ability to see where their real interests lie. Well, maybe it's true, but this punditry seems to me to be based on bad polls and wishful thinking.

November 3, 2004

Those people who are gearing up for '08.

I know they can't help it, those people who are gearing up for '08. I got into my car to drive to work this morning, clicked on the radio, and the first thing I heard was some talk radio guy raving against Hillary Clinton in '08. How absurd! And then there are those pro-Kerry websites that want to keep fighting out the futile battle of the Ohio provisional ballots. Ugh! I'm not going to tell you dyed-in-the-wool politicos to give it a rest. For you, it is like breathing. You must go on. But many of us are glad to have a chance to return to normal life. Politics is part of life, but the election fight is over now. It's already taken too much time. And, oh, how happy I am that the answer is known and that there is no litigation. And I was a litigator back in the day when I practice law, and I teach now about litigation. But that is not inconsistent with my great sense of relief that we are not going to have any post-election litigation. Remember that "army of 10,000 lawyers" Kerry told us he had ready for deployment? Said army melts back into the general populace, to be reintegrated into civilian life. Thank God!

I'm back.

I've finished my Instapundit guestblogging gig and posted one last piece, a kind of sign-off where I invite people over here. Oh, why am I telling you that? Chances are high that you came here after reading that. I'll be interested to see what my readership will be, but even though I think I've picked up some new readers, blog traffic all around is likely to sink now that the election is over. I am excited about blogging about new things now that there is not the daily pressure to keep track of that one (excruciatingly dragged-out) event. It's an opportunity to talk about other political news and to get back to writing about TV shows other than news shows and maybe to get out to the movies once in a while. It is the time of year when the best movies should be coming out.

Of course, the election season is not entirely over. Now is the time to analyze what it all means, and I intend to do some of that. In fact, I'm sorry I haven't done more of that today. This morning, here and on Instapundit, I concentrated on advice to the winners and losers about the emotional processing of the outcome of the election. I am now watching a bunch of news analysis shows I TiVo'd today to stimulate some thinking about what the outcome of the election means. But I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to write anything of substance, because the fact is I'm really tired. I stayed up far into the night watching the election returns, woke up two or three times during the night and listened to the NPR coverage, and then still jumped out of bed at 6 a.m. So, until tomorrow ...

Thanks to Senator Kerry for conceding.

AP reports:
The Democratic source said Bush called Kerry a worthy, tough and honorable opponent. Kerry told Bush the country was too divided, the source said, and Bush agreed. "We really have to do something about it," Kerry said according to the Democratic official.

I look forward to hearing the Senator's speech at 1 (Eastern) and expect it to be beautifully conciliatory and designed, as I wrote on Instapundit, "to help Americans pull together and move beyond the long, harsh argument we've just had with each other."

Time for good people to show what graceful winning and graceful losing look like.

Those of you who are happy with the outcome of the election, please don't gloat. Those of you who have lost, I know how you feel. I've had preferences in presidential elections since 1960. That is 12 elections, and until Bill Clinton won, I had never supported a winner. This year is only the third election out of twelve, where my candidate has won. If you're a young voter or a new voter and you feel burned, let me tell you, I was over forty years old before a candidate I supported won the presidency. You have to absorb a lot of losses in politics. Life goes on, and there is much more that we Americans share than the politicos of the right and left have wanted us to see for the last year or so. Think good thoughts today.

And, Senator Kerry: please help us out with a fine and memorable concession speech as soon as possible.

November 2, 2004

Feeling a strange, nervous equanimity.

Yes, I care a lot about the outcome of the election, and I'm sitting here waiting for the news to come in, sampling the dribbled out exit polls, and fretting. But at the same time, I feel complete assurance that as soon as the outcome is known, I'll fully accept it. Either man will make a decent enough President. I think Bush deserves to continue in office, but if it is to be Kerry, Kerry can handle the job too. Both of my sons support Kerry, and shouldn't I want them to be happy? Despite all this political blogging, I'm not really all that political. Note the subheading above. It will be nice to break loose from the grip of politics that has held us for so long. As I blogged long ago, I've had preferences in presidential elections going all the way back to 1960, and only one man I've supported has been President. (In case you've forgotten or are not a long-time reader, that man was Bill Clinton.) I'm accustomed to spending election night seeing my man lose. I've even had the experience before of supporting an incumbent who loses when I did not support him the time that he won. (For new or forgetful readers, that would be Jimmy Carter.) Basically, I am a grand supporter of losers. My support is the kiss of death. Oh, no! Have I gone all pessimistic? No, no. It is equanimity that flows through me. Time for a nice glass of win, a plate of pasta with Bolognese sauce, and a calm absorption of reality.

UPDATE: "A nice glass of win" -- ah, so hope does live on! Time for a nice glass of wine and toast to hope! A glass to be refilled later, perhaps, in a quenching of sorrow!

ANOTHER UPDATE: 10:53 p.m. Maybe I am going to get that nice glass of win after all. I'm really surprised. I let those exit polls affect me. Then I called up my sister in Florida and ended up talking with her for a long time, just watching the numbers on the TV screen with the sound off, so I wasn't getting any punditizing and wasn't drawing conclusions about much of anything. I got off the phone, and it took a while for me to absorb it, but eventually I got the message that everything was trending toward Bush.

Time to vote!

Well, I've done my class and my blogging, so now I'm going to vote, hoping to catch the post-lunch/pre-early-rush-hour window. The likelihood of my blogging about the voting experience is very high.

UPDATE: Mission accomplished (as they say...). I parked right outside my polling place, walked down a couple flights of stairs to the basement gym area (not the church-y library area where I voted in the primaries). There was one person checking in ahead of me. I got my ballot, headed over to one of several open booths, markered in my choices, including "no" on the swimming-pool-on-the-lakeshore refererendum, and was out of there in less than five minutes. I asked the people who were checking the registration lists if they had been busy, and they assured me they were. "Look, you're number 1385," one said as if I had a baseline number to compare that to. "So that's a lot?" "Yeah!" "I guess I picked a good window," I said and was assured that I had.

ANOTHER UPDATE: That's "swimming pool on the lakeshore," not "swimming on the lakeshore," as I had before. You're welcome to swim on the lakeshore. But there's a proposed public swimming pool -- because not everyone is happy with all the lake-swimming possibilities in this town -- and the people who want to build the pool want to be able to site it not just anywhere, but using lakeside land. I say no to that.

Is Quentin Tarantino reading my blog?

See this and then read this and this. Hey, Quentin! Email me!

Remember the President who won two wars?

A dialogue from the future (perhaps):
Remember the President who won two wars, who overthrew two of the most repressive dictatorships in the world and then got run out of office for being a miserable failure?

Yeah, that was really weird. How did that happen?

I don't know. Americans were quite restrained about being "the world's only superpower," as the phrase of the time went, and "triumphalism" -- so-called "triumphalism" -- was considered in bad taste. Seems like people overdid that restraint and went way in the other direction. It was considered stylish and funny to mock the President and to gleefully point out every imperfection in the war ...

Oh, yeah. There was that old movie "Fahrenheit 911." That guy Michael Moore.

Supposedly, he was some sort of a hero with the folks who ran the old President out of office.

Hmmmph! Well ... I guess I should read more history, because I really just don't understand the people of the past.

It is a bit of a mystery.

"Blogs have entered the mainstream."

So says Orin Kerr, over at Volokh Conspiracy, about the NYT blogger roundup linked in the previous post.

Sign I've been blogging about the election too hard: when I typed "Orin Kerr," I automatically typed an "y" at the end of his name. And I just did it again! Arrgghhh!

First time I've ever felt distinctly embarrassed that my blog is a Blogspot blog: of the 12 bloggers on the page, I'm the only one with an extra dot-and-syllable.

Does getting linked in the NYT online bring tons of traffic? So far, no. Not at all.

November 1, 2004

Bloggers let loose on the NYT Op-Ed page.

Don't miss it.

UPDATE: I just realized that since I'm linked from the NYT, anyone who pops over here just now is going to be aimed back where they came from. But welcome, NYT readers, and do scroll down. There are some pictures from the big Kerry/Springsteen rally in Madison down there and other assorted things.

On not early voting.

I was just re-reading that last post and thinking about why I never found it the slightest bit appealing to early vote here in Wisconsin. It reminds me of how every year at my house when we have Christmas presents wrapped and sitting there on the floor under the tree, one of my sons inevitably says, "I can't wait until we can open the presents," and I always say, "Well, then, why don't we just open them now?" and, of course, no one wants to, even though I say "Come on, what's to stop us?" It's not the right day!

Voting is a ritual, to be performed on Election Day. It's what you do on Election Day. If there's a line, you wait in a line. If it rains, you go out in the rain. That's just the way it is. Tomorrow, as soon as I'm done teaching my "Religion and the Constitution" class, concentrating on the separation of church and state, I'm going to head right over to the First Congregational Church -- my polling place -- and vote.

Early voting in Wisconsin.

A new US citizen describes voting in Madison:
I'm a new USA citizen, Australian by birth, who headed down to the Madison City Clerk's office today for early voting. (After the Sept 11th attacks in the USA, and the two Indonesian attacks killing many Australians and others, international security is guiding my decision and therefore Bush wins this new citizen's vote). I waited for about 50 minutes in the early vote line as several outspoken people around me decided to spend the time vocally slamming the incumbent. A woman quietly stood a few paces behind me in line while a larger tattooed gentleman (dressed in a black wife-beater) near her was most obnoxious in his anti-Bush rhetoric. Eventually he decided to address the woman standing near him and he asked her where she was originally from. Unfortunately for her, she answered "Texas," to which he boomed out "uh-oh, I know who you're going to vote for. I guess your vote will null mine!" She said nothing (that I could hear at least). Poor woman. That line was not the greatest environment to be politically outed. Once at the booths I found myself next to the tattooed gentleman, who was loudly voicing to the room that he was voting all democrat.

At this point I was trying to figure out exactly how to vote for the local offices (I got confused since my ward number the city clerk wrote on my envelope was close but different to the district numbers on my ballot. I was worried that they didn't match. I guess I was over-thinking the ballot, but districts and wards were not described in my citizenship study material so I was worried that I was messing something up). I figured since the fellow next to me was so fond of speaking that I might as well ask him to help me, so I covered the left column which I had filled out, and pointed to the other column and asked him if he knew if I was right to be filling out the ballot for those districts. He stared at me blankly and then just said "well, see, all you have to do is vote Democrat, you know, just the one party, just mark the one arrow." I told him I was trying to vote for individuals, not just for one party. His face showed that he was more confused than I was and he ended our interaction by saying "yeah, yeah, just fill it all out" (which did turn out to be correct once I asked a worker).

Amusingly, before he left the booth though, he loudly told the room why he was going to vote "no" to the city referendum on whether to support the building of a pool which would require an exemption to a city ordinance. His reason? "because sure, someone's making a donation to get it built, but it won't be enough, and the difference will come out of my pocket!" If I'd had enough guts I would have turned to him and said "with an attitude like that maybe you should re-think your Democrat vote." Ah well, best not to anger people in such a charged environment. My first voting experience came to an artistic end by using my first grade origami skills to fit the ballot into the envelope (which oddly, was not matched to fit the ballot, a stationary-flub apparently).

UPDATE: I should have been clear that this was emailed to me by a reader (hence no link to a source).

Hawaiian Cheney-love!

My cool Hawaii contact, "Yoshio," has this report on Cheney's visit (I've boldfaced details that especially struck me):
I arrived at 6 p.m., signed in, was assigned to a team, received a volunteer tag, t-shirt (required wearing) and rally pin. We cleared security which was actually less than some airline security checks I've been through recently. At 6:30 p.m. we were briefed by a gentleman named Tom who is with the Cheney advance team in charge of the event.

Each team was assigned to a specific job and our group was designated as "Lei Greeters" which meant that we had the happy task of draping lei around the necks of the rally-goers. There were 10,000 purple orchid lei, 5,000 bento boxes (Hawaiian-style lunch boxes which consisted of a slice of fried SPAM and a breaded chicken cutlet on a bed of rice) and signs galore. The venue was decorated in a red, white & blue theme but with touches unique to Hawaii such as large neon coconut trees. There were two huge screens to ensure all who came could see all the action.

While we waited for the doors to open at 7:15 p.m. we could hear competing noise from outside the convention center. Approximately 100 protestors, most of whom were dressed in various costumes, were using bullhorns to blast obscenities about Bush and Cheney towards the people in line. The rally-goers would respond with loud chants of "Four more years." Not surprisingly these outbursts got louder whenever a camera crew happened along.

The doors finally opened and we were on. Greet with "Aloha, thank you for coming," drape the lei, kiss the cheek and say "There is bento in the back if you're hungry and don't forget to vote on Tuesday", repeat. It was really fun. There were all sorts of people, which is expected here in Hawaii with our diverse culture, but it was still wonderful to see what was really a microcosm of our population. We had everything from bleached surfer dudes to Tongan gentlemen wearing the traditional lava lava. My estimate is that we had 7,500+ people - way better than the Democrats did on Friday with a mere 1200. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that Cheney's team estimated about 9,000 and the the Honolulu Advertiser (who has endorsed Kerry and trashed Bush at every opportunity) estimated 5,000 - 7,000.

Some standouts for me:

1) The large group of Vietnamese-Americans wearing "Vietnamese Americans for Bush" t-shirts. I spent many weeks in Vietnam in recent years and a family I count among my closest friends fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. They were rescued from a sinking boat by a U.S. Navy ship, sent to a refugee camp in Guam before going to Camp Pendleton and eventually ending up in Spokane. All of the children attended college and have gone on to become great productive citizens. The relatives who didn't get out ended up in "Re-education Camps," one for over 13 years, and though life is somewhat improved for them now there is truly no comparison. Knowing what happens to people who are abandoned by the U.S. after a promise of freedom, and knowing that John Kerry played a role, however small in the abandonment, is probably the single biggest reason I don't trust him to not do the same thing in Iraq.

2) The stylish family of four wearing sleek black t-shirts with a small white "W" emblazoned on the left breast.

3) Two very pretty girls dressed up in jeans, white shirts, boots and straw cowboy hats with large black felt "W"s glued to the front.

4) The older Filipina lady who just had to tell us that she had lectured her fellow church-goers at mass just that morning about the importance of voting your conscience and not blindly voting Democrat.

5) Another very pretty girl whom I could only conclude was a Secret Service groupie. She came in and as I gave her a lei she held up her Bush Cheney sign and asked where she could get autographs from Secret Service guys. I pointed them out to her but told her I didn't know if she'd have any luck. I saw her after the event and she had managed to get several!

6) Two Washington female staffers. When they came in they said they couldn't wear the lei but wanted to take them with them. I handed it to one of them and when she touched it, she shrieked "It's real!" We instructed her on how to store it (this particular lei is very sturdy and will last at least a couple of days) and then snickered amongst ourselves at the thought that we would hand out fake lei - as if!

The doors were supposed to remain open until 10:15 p.m. but the VP was running early so they closed the security checkpoint around 10 p.m. and herded all of us who had cleared security into the front area and blocked it off from the other part of the hall. They then let the people who were still in line (approximately 800) into the rear of the hall behind a low barricade which was patrolled by Secret Service and HPD (Honolulu Police Department). A few hecklers managed to get in during this period but they were quite trivial.

The crowd was growing restless but it wasn't long before a young Hawaiian man stepped out and blew a conch shell, then came two amazing fire dancers (I ask, how many places have fire dancers at political rallies???) and the crowd was warmed up. We all sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and the Hawaii State Song, Hawaii Pono`i, acapella. We then recited the Pledge of Allegiance with great fervor. Then came the boxing match music and the man said "Let's get ready to rumble. The main event..." and Governor Linda Lingle was introduced.

Governor Lingle spoke just a minute or two before introducing Lynne Cheney and the Vice President. Mrs. Cheney spoke for a few minutes. I'm sure the speech she gives about meeting the VP when he was 14 and chronicling the various jobs he held from ditch digger to union card carrying lineman is the same she gives at all the stops but it came across as very sincere. She introduced the VP and the crowd went wild chanting "Cheney, Cheney, Cheney..."

The VP spoke for about 20 minutes but he started off by sending his best wishes to Sen. Dan Inouye's wife, Maggie. Mrs. Inouye was just diagnosed with cancer and will undergo surgery this week. The crowd responded with lots of aloha and best wishes for her. The woman next to me turned and said "He is such a great gentleman." I asked about the Leahy swearing incident and she just sniffed and said "Sometimes a gentleman just has to put an goat in it's place." Quite right.

He covered primarily terrorism, the global war on terror and invoked the attack at Pearl Harbor. He talked about the free elections in Afghanistan (huge applause) and the upcoming elections in Iraq. He thanked the military and all who have sacrificed loved ones which brought resounding cheers. He also talked about keeping taxes low (huge applause as we are a heavily taxed state), medical malpractice and the booming economy here. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the country and people are very optimistic about the future - might be why Bush is doing well here. After delivering his standard line which refers to Kerry's positions on the war, "As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but at the end of the day, it'll still be a pig!", he said "That's my favorite line. Would you like to hear it again?" The crowd went crazy as he repeated it.

Cheney looked great. Didn't appear to be tired at all and projected a strong and confident image. I would say that this event was extremely well produced and one wouldn't have known that it was only a few days in the planning. Everything went smoothly. I'm glad I went.

Slate's predictions of the Electoral College vote are getting on my nerves.

They are changing them every hour!

UPDATE: Given how strongly the people at Slate support Kerry, I'm interpreting this skittishness on their part as a reaction to their deep, icy realization that Bush is going to win.

The Wisconsin State Journal endorses Tammy Baldwin's opponent.

According to the WSJ:
Former radio broadcaster Dave Magnum offers a substantive, moderate alternative to incumbent U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. ... His soft-pedaled conservatism is better attuned to voters districtwide than Baldwin's hardcore liberalism.

Baldwin has been a reliable if ineffectual champion of a left- leaning agenda of universal health care and similar dreams... Baldwin is a compassionate listener and empathetic politician with no major accomplishments to show for her six years in office.

The other local paper, the Capitol Times, endorsed Baldwin a few days ago. Key points: she's opposed the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, and she's gotten us our "fair share of federal funding." The Cap Times paints Magnum as "sincere" but "exceptionally naive."

"He's talkin' to you, Wisconsin!"

Mickey Kaus translates MEMRI's interpretation of the bin Laden message. Kaus is skeptical. I wonder if OBL has any understanding of the psychology of Americans. In any case, his message is garbled to the point of incoherence. Even if he knew what would motivate us to do what he wants, he doesn't know how to say it. Ever considered speaking in English if you want to give us a message?

The fight for Hawaii.

Here's the Honolulu Advertiser's coverage of Cheney's visit to Hawaii. The article also reports on a telephone interview with John Edwards, focusing on a very interesting Hawaiian issue:
Edwards repeated his and Kerry's support for a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill that has been held up in Congress since 2000. The bill would recognize Hawaiians as an indigenous people, similar to American Indians and Native Alaskans, and would establish a process for Hawaiian sovereignty.

The Bush administration has not taken a position on the bill, and several Republicans in Congress believe it would give special preferences to people based on their race.

"Both of us believe that it's important to preserve the culture and the language of Native Hawaiians," Edwards said. "We believe in the right for self-determination. There is a unique language and culture that it's important that it be recognized.

"The bottom line is we support it because we believe it's the right thing to do."

UPDATE: See also yesterday's post about Hawaii, noting Bill Clinton's TV appearance by satellite raisinng this issue.

Political party challengers at the polls unconstitutional.

So says an Ohio federal district judge, on the theory that -- in the words of this AP report -- "challengers inexperienced in the electoral process questioning voters about their eligibility would impede voting." There will be an appeal, though it's awfully late in the game.

This year's Halloween costumes.

This year there was a decisive return to classic costumery. Aside from the large number of older kids who buy that "Scream" mask attached to a black hood -- which at this point is less creative that cutting two holes in a sheet and being a ghost -- almost no one wore a cheap packaged costume. Even the three kids who were video game characters (and had to explain them to me) had handmade costumes. Many kids thought up clever things. And I hate to tell you, my boomer friends, but "hippie" has become a stock Halloween character. I was glad to see that there were none of those older kids who come by late and seem to think "teenager in a down jacket" counts as a Halloween character. (It is scary enough to extort candy from me.) Only one kid came in a costume related to the election, and he was George Bush, but you can't tell whether that was a pro-Bush costume or not.

(Scroll down to the previous post for my live-blogging of Halloween.)

October 31, 2004

Halloween night chez Althouse.

1. I'm cooking up a large pot of Bolognese sauce to last us for a few days of repetitive but incredibly delicious eating. [UPDATE: I got an email request for the recipe. It's just the one in the wonderful "Classic Italian Cookbook." I've always used red and not white wine, though. I hope Marcella doesn't mind.]

2. I'm catching up with with the Sunday news shows and keeping an eye out for bloggables.

3. I'm answering computerized phone calls, as indicated previously.

4. I'm jumping up whenever the doorbell rings, grabbing my big bowl of Halloween-style Kit-Kat bars (i.e., orange-colored, white chocolate Kit-Kats), and answering the door. The last group was an adorable trio of animal-suited tiny kids: Tigger, a hyena, and a ladybug.

UPDATE: Two boys, maybe 9 years old, show up, one in a monster suit, another in just a nice pin-striped suit.
So what are you? A man ... but any particular type of man?

I'm an insurance salesman!

Ooh! That is scary!

Here's my card.

The card says:
Trust Me Insurance Services

I.M. Scheister

Pay me now and you'll never see me again.

Next were two girls, also maybe 9. One was Elvis. The other was dressed in a school uniform and had nicely done stage makeup creating the illusion of scissors and a pencil stabbed into her head:
You're Elvis.

Yes.

And you, you're a character from some horror movie I haven't seen?

No.

You're a schoolgirl ...

Yes ...

You're a schoolgirl who hates school!

Yes!

ANOTHER UPDATE: A young girl dresses as Leah LaBelle. A group of young boys all follow a sports theme (referee, Cubs fan) but one of them violates the theme and is a burglar. I question the referee guy about the theme of the group and he tells me the burglar guy "just sneaked in." Good save!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris takes the next doorbell ring (after pausing last night's TiVo'd SNL with Kate Winslet).
Anything good?

Eh ... one was George Bush.

AND YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Five high school kids: two Greek philosophers, two hippies, and one pimp! I asked the pimp what he was doing hanging around with philosophers and hippies. Pimp had no good answer.

AND AGAIN, A HALLOWEEN UPDATE: Two girls, maybe 14, one is the old classic, a cat. The other:
You're ... you're 80s Girl!

Yeah.

With leg warmers!

Yeah.

Leg warmers rule!

Who the #*!^ is Hal Linden?

He seems to think he's famous enough to do a recorded phone call where he just says "This is Hal Linden" and then goes on to warn that "seniors" -- thanks, pal! -- need to worry about George Bush's plan to "privatize social security." You know, the last call I got was from Al Gore and I was none too pleased with that. But Hal Linden! You've got to be kidding me! If Hal Linden wants to alert me about any political issues, he'd be presumptuous even to give me a personal call. But a recorded call? Man, I just hung up on Al Gore half an hour ago.

Okay, okay, don't email me. I Googled him. So he's Barney #*!^-ing Miller. Now I know what you think of me, Kerry campaign. It's really a collection of insults: I'm old, I watch crap TV, and I want my money. Actually, it's all somewhat true. But if I'm old, I'm old enough to remember when the Democratic Party appealed to our idealism and assumed we would vote for the good of others. (That's why I'm a registered Democrat.) And if I watch crap TV, it's not crap TV with Hal Linden. And reminding me that I care about my money doesn't point me in the direction of voting for Democrats.

A survey.

Here is a survey (from professors at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and University of Tennessee-Knoxville) studying "the motivations for accessing the Web, weblogs, chat rooms, bulletin boards and other Internet resources for political information." It would be good of you to fill it out, which you can do until 11/16/04. I'm told it "has been approved by the University of Tennessee institutional review board and is being conducted for academic purposes only and follows strict privacy protocols" and that "all responses are confidential and anonymous."

Adding up the Electoral College votes and really caring about Hawaii.

I'm looking at the averages on the polls in the battleground states at Real Clear Politics and plugging the results for each state into the calculator here. Bush has 290 electoral votes to Kerry's 248. That's giving Bush Ohio, by breaking the tie and averaging the four most recent polls (which show Bush 2.9 percentage points ahead). But let's take away Ohio: Bush still wins with 270. And that's giving Kerry Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The shockingly decisive factor: Hawaii! But why is the most recent poll for Hawaii (showing Bush up by 1 point) over 10 days old? With all this polling madness, you'd think someone would take a poll out there. And to think Hawaii will be voting ever so much later than everyone else, when we will already have heard announcements of who has won Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. If Kerry wins Pennsylvania and Ohio, but not Florida, it seems to me that Hawaii will be monumentally important. How strange! If Bush wins Florida and Ohio, Kerry is lost.

The Republicans are sending Cheney
out to Hawaii today, and maybe the state will appreciate the high level attention. The Democrats have only sent Al Gore and Alexandra Kerry (1,000 people turned out). Not that I want to help Kerry win, but don't you think they'd better jet their man Edwards out there tomorrow? They do have Clinton appearing on Hawaiian TV by satellite. In a classic example of micro-campaigning, he pitched Kerry's "support for the Akaka bill that brings federal recognition to native-Hawaiians and compensation for Filipino war veterans."

But judging from the "Campaign 2004" page for the Honolulu Advertiser (the state's biggest newspaper), they don't look that excited about the attention. The big feature is the mayoral election (and the big issue is the one local politics issue that I get excited about: light rail).

Jesus arrested!

And his credit card was maxed out, so he couldn't pay the bail.

Much as I'd like to just leave you with the link, I'm going to have to copy out some of the story, because it's from the Wisconsin State Journal, which lets its links die after a day or two.
It was the kind of night when Jesus and Superman were arrested for having liquor on the street.

Actually, there were three Supermen, all from out of town, so perhaps they didn't hear that city ordinance bans open intoxicants, even on State Street over Halloween weekend. And Jesus worried aloud to police that his credit card was "maxed out," and thus he would be unable to pay the bail required for out-of-state transgressors before release.

State Street sidewalks were swarming by 8 p.m. Saturday. By 9 p.m., Madison police reported 63 arrests, primarily citations for breaking city laws regarding open intoxicants, spokeswoman Emily Samson said.

Not bad, compared to previous years, when store windows were smashed and some very foolish people thought that stealing is okay when done in a large, funloving group.

Costumes singled out for description in the WSJ:
guys posing as elderly Hooters waitresses, their usually attractive figures sagging below their costumes ...

The white-painted upper torso of Troy Kieler, 29, of Madison, protruded above a column made with square white cushions at top and bottom connected by a tubular sheet. "I am Pluto," he said, staying in character. "My arms broke off years ago. All I've got now is my pedestal."

The prize for best get-up Saturday likely will go to Mike Jolin, 30, and Jesse Emden, 26, of Madison, struggling in 7- foot, 6-inch metal and foam transformer costumes.

Yeah, I know, why didn't I go down to State Street and get some pictures? I just didn't. Sorry.

UPDATE: It sounds to me as though the big crowd behaved reasonably well this year -- okay, a bonfire, a little something-that-required-a-spritz-of-tear-gas -- but Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is saying, "I have had enough. This must come to an end." Party pooper!

Great cartoon.

Hey, I registered for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's website so I could bring you the link to this very well-drawn Mike Luckovich cartoon about the Supreme Court, so maybe you'll put up with the long registration process so you can look at it. (I saw the cartoon in the paper NYT, but couldn't get a link there.)

UPDATE: A reader sends this registration-free link.

Voters to bin Laden: Crawl back into your hole!

What if you taped a video, and no one cared?

"The Year of Passion."

Here's a link to the article on the front page of the NYT Week in Review section, but you won't be able to see the whole illustration unless you get the paper version. You can, however, get a sense of the style of the illustrator, Ward Sutton. The paper NYT bursts with cartoon characters of various sorts, including a blogger, but the NYT perversely deprives us bloggers of the opportunity to link to the picture of the blogger, giving us only the vying veterans, the Texan "W" lady, and the black "Anybody But Bush" guy. Oh well. I'll describe the blogger guy. First, of course, it's a guy. Just to make sure you can tell he's a blogger, on the screen of his laptop are the words "MY BLOG." He's sitting at a little table, and on the table, along with his laptop, are a mug of black coffee and two stacks of magazines. He's wearing a T-shirt and jeans and little rectangular glasses. And he's got a goatee. So I guess he's an anti-Bush blogger. Maybe not. Could be some young libertarian guy.

The article itself? The author, Todd S. Purdum, reminds us that in past years, we complained about too much apathy. I'm a little apathetic about his article though. It's nowhere near as good as Sutton's illustration. He mostly says there's been passion in our politics this time around and that passion has its good and bad points. But I couldn't find a paragraph pithy enough to quote. He gives some respect to the internet:
If the Internet has been the source of vicious blogs and half-baked rumors, it has also often been a worthy watchdog on the mainstream media, a direct route to the candidates' records and official Web sites and a means of instantly checking their half-truths and evasions through nonpartisan outlets like FactCheck.org at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center.
But no respect for blogs in that! Blogs are, in the conventional wisdom of MSM, "vicious."

UPDATE: I'd also like to link to Lloyd Dangle's cool cartoon on "Page Two" of The Week in Review, but can't find it on line. It's called "Lawyers, Florida Welcomes You" and has six drawings of 1950s style non-chain motels, with names like Sharks Nest Motel and Supreme Motor Court.

Election Day predictions of the meteorological kind.

It's close enough to Election Day to check the weather reports and say all the usual things about voting and the weather. I see it's going to rain here in Madison on Tuesday. But I thought God wanted Kerry to win!

The bin Laden "rebranding."

Some intelligence community experts, according to this L.A. Times report, read bin Laden's new message as an attempt at "rebranding":
"In some ways the tone of the message is as intriguing, and alarming, as the timing," said a U.S. official familiar with the tape, and the intelligence community's analysis of it. "The absence of an explicit threat does represent a different point of emphasis for this guy."
The fear is that bin Laden is trying to follow the pattern of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and the Irish Republican Army, which "evolved from violent militant groups into broader organizations with influential, widely accepted political wings."

Must we fight about politics?

Here's a piece in the NYT Style section (with a photograph that had me thinking way too much about the implications of the ketchup bottle). There are the couples who break up because they don't share political views and there are those who do the Carville/Matalin thing and report that: "It was an enhancement to our chemistry and sexual energy."

"To be honest, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else today."

Yes, of course, be honest if you want to be in politics. Chelsea Clinton speaks in Kissimmee, Florida at a rally for John Kerry (link via Drudge).