January 13, 2007

"Good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases."

So said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This came after the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, Charles D. Stimson, was wrongheaded and stupid enough to say:
"I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking." The F.O.I.A. reference was to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.

Mr. Stimson, who is himself a lawyer, then went on to name more than a dozen of the firms listed on the 14-page report provided to Ms. Crowley, describing them as “the major law firms in this country.” He said, “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”
Gonzales is obviously right, and I would like to know how Stimson could even entertain the notion that it might be acceptable to say what he did.

UPDATE: Stimson apologizes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stimson resigns (2/2/07).

"I'm a 67-year-old fat, white-haired, liver-spotted woman."

Oh! It's Grace Slick! She's old and fat and doesn't mind telling you so. And she's doing art now -- pictures, panned by critics, with titles like "Hooka Smoking Caterpillar" and "White Rabbit Remembering the Good Old Days."

"I didn't see or hear anything odd or unusual from the apartment. I just figured them for father and son."

Said Rick Butler.
[He] lives across the street [and] said he saw no evidence that the boy was scared or trying to get away. He even saw Devlin and the teen pitch a tent outside in the complex...

Last fall, Butler said he found a cell phone outside, called a number on it and the teen came outside to retrieve it.

What a strange story! Why didn't Shawn Hornbeck escape?

The crime of overfeeding your dog.


Bush is "simply too stuntedly ill-informed and reality-detached."

That clotted phrase is James Wolcott's assessment of why President Bush "will not be able to rehabilitate himself in retirement" -- unlike Richard Nixon.
I remember seeing an aging Nixon on C-SPAN speaking and answering questions smoothly and cogently for over an hour on a range of geopolitical topics without benefit of notes and with a humbled confidence that was (for Nixon) charming. Clinton has that kind of sophisticated knowledgability, Jimmy Carter does as well, but Bush never will, so uninterested is he in other cultures and so reliant upon platitudes and homilies and self-affirmation. I think (hope) Steve Gilliard is right: Bush's presidency will unravel in shame and disgrace, as Nixon's did. But unlike Nixon, Bush will not enjoy a lion-in-winter third act. For better or worse, Nixon was his own man, a stark lesson in the possibilities and limits of self-reliance.
Why would you hope things will go badly? Wolcott is characteristically sour, but the subject of former Presidents working on their reputations is important, and speculating about how Bush will fare is worth doing. It's also slightly fascinating to watch people warm up to Nixon now that he's at a great enough distance or -- more likely -- when warming up to him works as a way of expressing how terribly much you hate Bush.

"I thought it was O.K. to be single. I thought it was O.K. to not have children..."

"And I thought you could still make good decisions on behalf of the country if you were single and didn’t have children," says Condoleezza Rice in an interview with the NYT.
During the hearing itself, Ms. Rice did not appear to take issue with Senator Boxer’s comments. During the interview, she addressed them only in response to a question. But the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, suggested earlier on Friday that Senator Boxer’s comments were antifeminist.

“I don’t know if she was intentionally tacky,” Mr. Snow said in an interview on Fox News. “It’s a great leap backward for feminism.”...

Senator Boxer’s comments and the claims and counterclaims about what she meant have captivated the blogs and received extensive coverage on Fox News and other cable channels. One blog, called Swampland, labeled it “Womb Wars.”

Conservative blogs and commentators were quick to seize on the issue. “One Great Leap (Backwards) for Womankind,” read one blog, Bikini Politics. “They will be known by their Fruits,” read another, Macsmind, which billed itself as “Conservative News, Commentary and Common Sense.” Rush Limbaugh also got into the act. “Here you have a rich white chick with a huge, big mouth, trying to lynch this, an African-American woman, right before Martin Luther King Day, hitting below the ovaries here,” Mr. Limbaugh said on his radio show.
As I said yesterday, I don't think it's good feminism to require greater sensitivity toward women than toward men when it comes to political arguments like the one Boxer made. The "Who pays the price?" argument is either a good one or a bad one, and calling attention to childlessness shouldn't be any worse for women than for men.

But let me make three new points:

1. Boxer served up a juicy nugget, and it should have been predictable that blogger types -- and Rush -- would gobble it up. I'm sure she regrets saying it and that this incident will tend to reduce these kinds of statements in the future. It's stupid to give your enemies this kind of raw material. Politicians need to become more savvy about what's bloggable. And the already-savvy Snow did a great job of flagging the bloggability.

2. Women in power should stand on the same level as men and not demand special outrage for insults, but we know that people will say some things about a woman precisely because they think it will hurt her more or because it will stir up prejudices about women. I don't think it's clear that in this case Boxer had that sort of nasty intent, but we can see in some of the reaction to Boxer's statement -- including that quote from Rice, above -- that people continue to think there is something tragic and unnatural about a woman who has not formed a family around herself.

3. Heightening sensitivity to implicit insults in statements made about women can serve the interests of the Democrats. They are the ones with an important female presidential candidate. Now that Republicans have had this little huff over Rice, Democrats will have more power to claim offenses to feminism whenever anyone says anything mean about Hillary Clinton.

“He feels very disappointed that he can’t go on for her."

A quote from the lawyer representing Michael B. Nifong, the prosecutor in the Duke rape case, who is now asking to withdraw from the case in light of the ethics charges against him. I'm reading this in the NYT, which is covering Nifong's problems quite a bit more sympathetically than what I've read elsewhere:
Mr. Nifong’s friends told him he had two choices: dismiss the case or ask the attorney general to take it over. It was a bitter decision, friends said. His reputation hung in the balance. Mr. Nifong decided he had to do something he had left to his investigators over the 10 months since the alleged assault: talk about it directly with the woman he called “my victim.”

In a two-hour meeting at his office on Thursday, Mr. Nifong and an aide talked about the choices, an official involved in the case said. He told the accuser that a trial would be brutal, but that he had already talked with the attorney general’s special prosecutions unit and trusted that office to give the case a fair review. He asked what she wanted to do.

She was concerned about the effect of the case on Mr. Nifong’s career, the official recalled. She wanted to sleep on the decision. She continued to insist she had been sexually assaulted.

On Friday, she and Mr. Nifong spoke by telephone. She again said she wanted to go forward. Although she was not happy about Mr. Nifong’s giving up of the case, the official said, she said she understood his reasoning and pledged to cooperate with any new team.

"Say you're an average congressman. How do you react to President Bush's Iraq speech?"

William Kristol channels congressional thought processes:
You suspect, deep down, that he's probably doing more or less what he needs to do. We can't just click our heels and get out of Iraq--the consequences would be disastrous. And the current strategy isn't working. You have said so yourself. Last fall you called for replacing Rumsfeld. You've complained that there weren't enough troops. What's more, you've heard good things about General David Petraeus from colleagues with military expertise. So now Bush has fired Rumsfeld, put Petraeus in command, and sent in more troops. Maybe this new approach deserves a chance to work?
Is that what they really think? I'd guess they were thinking this new approach doesn't deserve a chance, because it's not going to work. In Kristol's account, the members of Congress go on to undercut the President's efforts for little reason other than their own political advantage.

Ford did more to end the Cold War than did Reagan.

According to Gerald Ford in old interviews The Grand Rapids Press is now free to release.
Ford said Reagan, who challenged him unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 1976, was "a great spokesman for attractive political objectives" such as a balanced budget and defeating communism, "but when it came to implementation, his record never matched his words."

Reagan was "probably the least well-informed on the details of running the government of any president I knew," Ford said. In a separate interview, he said Reagan "was just a poor manager, and you can't be president and do a good job unless you manage."

Ford contended his own negotiation of the Helsinki accords on human rights did more to win the Cold War than Reagan's military buildup. Other key factors were the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II and the establishment of NATO, he said.
He also said Carter -- who challenged him successfully in 1976 -- was "a disaster." Who did he like? Eisenhower. And Nixon wasn't so bad.

January 12, 2007

In which I rave about the MacBook screen.

I replaced my year-old Power Book with a new MacBook today, mostly because the screen on the old computer was looking dimmer and dimmer, and I thought it was going to die. Whether it dies or not is another matter, but I'm setting it aside as a spare right now. I knew the MacBook had a much brighter, clearer screen, and since I don't see all that well, especially in bad light, I decided to spring for the new computer. I can't tell you how happy I am with the new screen. On the old computer, I was always enlarging the font size to read. I was using the new one for several hours before I realized I'd stopped doing that. I can read the normal-size print comfortably again. What an improvement!

"I write tales with brave Ulysses but I prefer the WriteRoom with black curtains."

Possibly the cleverest -- and creamiest -- Metafilter comment ever. Must be read in context.

"So why do respectable but obscure figures think they have a chance at the White House?"

A question raised on the occasion of Christopher Dodd declaring his candidacy.
Their patron saint is Jimmy Carter....

Bonding with MacBook.

There's that Photo Booth stage...

Fooling with Photobooth

Fooling with Photobooth

Fooling with Photobooth

Photo-Boothing at Electric Earth

ADDED: That last photo, taken at a café every good Madisonian knows, looks like it's trying to turn into "Starry Night," by Vincent Van Gogh.

Comfort movies.

Do you have a comfort movie? This would be a movie you rewatch in times of stress, when you want to create a comfortable environment for yourself. My son John says he uses the "Back to the Future" movies to mellow out at exam time. He says a lot of people his age -- mid-20s -- have "The Princess Bride" as their comfort movie? So, what's yours?

When I was in college -- in the days before home video -- one campus cinema always showed Marx Brothers movies at exam time. It was understood that this was what you watched to escape the stress. I was trying to think of what I would have now that fits in this category. I was going to say "My Dinner with Andre," "Slacker," "Fast ,Cheap and Out of Control," and "Grey Gardens." But John is disqualifying these choices on the ground that these are actually movies that I consider great, not the sort of junk food that we're trying to talk about here. It's true that I don't have any not-actually-great movies that I like to rewatch for comfort's sake. He says that I use TV reality shows for this. He's right. You know, the other day I watched three episodes of an old season of "Survivor."

(Song that John is playing that is amusing me while I write this post: "Nuages"... by Django Reinhardt. I'm looking for a YouTube clip of that for you, but what I'm seeing is that everyone tries to play that song.)

HEY: This post has a vlog:

And John never found the clip.

OH: I thought of one -- look, we watched it the day I wrecked my car -- "Serial Mom."

Should a blogger long to be a columnist?

Eric Zorn -- who says he "felt like a slacker sharing the stage" with me last night -- compares blogging and column-writing. He does both, so maybe he's not biased. Of course, everyone blogs, and only a few people have newspaper columns...

Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and me.

I've said it before, but let me say it again. It's our birthday.

When Barbara Boxer took note of Condoleezza Rice's childlessness.

Senator Barbara Boxer, questioning Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the war, drew attention to the fact that Rice has no children who might have to "pay the price" for the war. The blogosphere is talking. Wizbang demands an apology. There seems to be some notion that it's a special insult to mention the fact that a woman has no children. In the video clip at the first link, we see Rice's reaction, a little irked tilt of the head. I think the negative reaction to Boxer is overblown. It's another one of these statements that we hear all the time about how the people in power who are making the decisions don't have family members serving in the war. Coming to the defense of Condoleezza Rice in this instance is not a feminist gesture. Female politicians have to take this criticism just like their male counterparts. If you think they need special protection, you're not helping the cause of women.

January 11, 2007

Talking about blogging tonight in Naperville.

Take note:
North Central College will host two professional bloggers — Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Eric Zorn, columnist for the Chicago Tribune — in a panel discussion about the effectiveness of ... blogs, in public discourse. The free discussion, titled “Blogging: Simultaneous Translation,” will be held on Thursday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Koten Chapel at Kiekhofer Hall, 329 E. School St. [Naperville, IL].

If you're in the area stop by. We'll be taking questions from the audience.

UPDATE: That was fun. I'm back in Madison, arriving here at midnight.

The Old Fashioned restaurant.

The Old Fashioned restaurant

The Old Fashioned restaurant

The capitalization in the title isn't a deviation from my style book. The place is actually called The Old Fashioned. I like the classic things and how they align them... ironically, right?

"Social Darwinism on stilts: We failed them, now they’re on their own."

That's David Brooks's characterization of a typical Democratic alternative approach to Iraq. (TimesSelect link.) "So we are stuck with the Bush proposal as the only serious plan on offer."

If you can get through to the column, you'll see some background on the source of Bush's plan. According to Brooks, it represents an outright rejection of Prime Minister Maliki's idea:
Maliki essentially wanted the American troops protecting his flank but out of his hair. He didn’t want U.S. soldiers embedded with his own. He didn’t want American generals hovering over his shoulder. His government didn’t want any restraints on Shiite might....

The Iraqi government wants a unified non-sectarian solution in high-minded statements and in some distant, ideal world. But in the short term, and in the deepest reptilian folds of their brains, the Shiites are maneuvering amid the sectarian bloodbath all around.
Bush's speech glossed over this, according to Brooks, "to soothe the wounded pride of the Maliki government."

"A calculated gamble that no matter how much hue and cry his new strategy may provoke, in the end the American people will give him more time..."

I doubt that President Bush has any capacity to inspire Americans about the war in Iraq. I vaguely wish that he could. He's made his decision, and I think people need to support what he's doing and not undercut him by revealing to our enemies that we can be worn down and demoralized. Yet it doesn't bother me that much that Americans are not fired up by presidential speeches. We don't like war, and we especially don't like to live with a long war that doesn't reward us with distinct successes from time to time. We express our dissatisfaction, but I think most of us realize it's the President's responsibility to get us through this. Electing Democrats to Congress can be read as an expression of dissatisfaction, but does it also mean that we expect or even want Congress to interfere with the President's plan?

Here's Sheryl Gay Stolberg's analysis:
By stepping up the American military presence in Iraq, President Bush is not only inviting an epic clash with the Democrats who run Capitol Hill. He is ignoring the results of the November elections, rejecting the central thrust of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and flouting the advice of some of his own generals, as well as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq.

In so doing, Mr. Bush is taking a calculated gamble that no matter how much hue and cry his new strategy may provoke, in the end the American people will give him more time to turn around the war in Iraq and Congress will not have the political nerve to thwart him by cutting off money for the war....

Wartime clashes between presidents and the Congress are a familiar thread in American history. But perhaps no president since Richard M. Nixon has so boldly expanded an unpopular war. Explaining his decision to invade Cambodia in April 1970, Nixon said: “A majority of the American people, a majority of you listening to me, are for the withdrawal of our forces from Vietnam. The action I have taken tonight is indispensable for the continuing success of that withdrawal program.”
I remember watching that Nixon speech on a little black-and-white TV -- one of the few TVs in East Quad -- when I was a freshman in college at the University of Michigan. We hooted with derision and hatred. How could that evil man think we would believe his insane reassurance about a despicable plan, and how could he dare to portray a new invasion as a response to our demand that he end the war?

More Stolberg:
[N]o American president has been able to prosecute a war indefinitely without the support of the American public. With polls showing fewer than 20 percent of Americans supporting increasing troop levels in Iraq, Mr. Bush and those Republicans who support him know that the new policy will be a tough sell.

“The American people have no reason in the world to think it’s going to work just like the president paints it,” said one of those backers, Senator Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, “but I think the American people, in their usual good sense, are going to wait around for a while and say, ‘Mr. President, you’ve taken us down a lot of roads in Iraq, let’s go down this one and see if it works.’ ”
I think she's quoting Domenici because he sounds so dumb. Sure, trial and error, people are fine with that system. But what he's saying inelegantly is probably true. People, unhappy though they are, will steel themselves and hope the President has come up with a decently workable plan this time. If you're not one of those people and you're flipping out because you can't understand why Americans -- despite the poll numbers -- seem to accept the President's decisions nonetheless, you probably will only hoot with derision if I say I understand how you feel.

How to make a comedy about Hitler.

I'm sure you could think of a lot of rules, but surely one of them is: Don't make Hitler sympathetic. Yes, perhaps in comedy, rules are there to be broken, and as soon as you come up with an important rule, someone's going to say, then that's the one we've got to break. You're betting on your own genius then. And most films are... bad:
The advance buzz about “Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler,” which opens [in Germany] Thursday, has been almost uniformly negative...

“Most of the jokes are flat, harmless or stale, and what’s particularly offensive is that Adolf Hitler, of all people, is given quite sympathetic character traits,” wrote Harald Peters in Welt am Sonntag.

Even Helge Schneider, the madcap German comedian and actor who portrays Hitler, has distanced himself from the film, saying in a radio interview here: “It didn’t thrill me. I just don’t find it funny.”

No doubt, some of the bad reaction is a matter of taste. “Mein Führer,” directed by a Jewish filmmaker, depicts Hitler in scenes that could be drawn from a movie by the Farrelly brothers — wetting his bed, playing with a toy battleship in the bath, padding around his office on all fours while barking like a dog and so on.

But the noisy national debate — over what is by all accounts a flawed film that the public has not yet seen — shows that Hitler remains an enduringly uncomfortable topic for many here.
"Uncomfortable"... "for many"...

January 10, 2007

"The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits."

The President's speech.
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom – and help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
Were you satisfied?

What will be role of bloggers in the 2008 presidential election?

Please prognosticate.

"The Santaland Diaries, Tuesdays With Morrie, and anything with the word 'magnolias'..."

= plays not to produce if you're hoping to entice theater critic Terry Teachout to review your regional theater production in The Wall Street Journal.

Basically, if you can demonstrate your seriousness, he's willing to travel and show you some respect. Lots more advice at the link, including:
I ... have a select list of older plays about which I'd like to write that haven’t been revived in New York lately (or ever). If you’re doing The Beauty Part, The Cocktail Party, The Entertainer, Hotel Paradiso, Man and Superman, Rhinoceros, Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Visit, What the Butler Saw, or anything by Jean Anouilh, Noël Coward, Terence Rattigan, or August Wilson, drop me a line.
I hope his invitation will encourage regional theaters to stand up to the pressure to pander.

The amazing mileage Jeffrey Rosen gets from an interview with John Roberts.

Lawprof Jeffrey Rosen has an interview with Chief Justice John Roberts. It starts off as a very interesting examination of Roberts's approach to his role on the Court:
Some of the least successful chief justices, Roberts suggested, had faltered because they misunderstood the job, approaching it as law professors rather than as leaders of a collegial Court. Harlan Fiske Stone, a former dean of Columbia Law School, was a case in point. Stone “was a failure as chief, because of his misperception of what a chief justice is supposed to be,” Roberts said, gesturing to the justices’ private conference room through an open door of his office. “It’s his desk out there that is separate from the conference table, and he … sat at his desk, and the others were at the table, he almost called on them and critiqued their performances. They hated that.” Roberts laughed. “As a result, he was a failure as a chief justice.”...

... Roberts declared, he would make it his priority, as [Chief Justice John] Marshall did, to discourage his colleagues from issuing separate opinions. “I think that every justice should be worried about the Court acting as a Court and functioning as a Court, and they should all be worried, when they’re writing separately, about the effect on the Court as an institution.”

In Roberts’s view, Marshall’s success in unifying the Court was a reflection of his temperament. “He gave everyone the benefit of the doubt; he approached everyone as a friend. The assumption was … ‘This is someone I’m going to like unless proven otherwise,’” Roberts said. “He was convivial, he took great pride in sharing his Madeira with his colleagues … [He was not] the artificial glad-hander type; it was just in his nature to get along with people. I think that had to play an important role in his ability to bring the Court together, to change the whole way judicial decisions were arrived at, to really create the notion that we are a Court—not simply an assemblage of individual justices … It was the force of his personality. That lack of pretense, that openness and general trustworthiness, were very important personality traits in Marshall’s success,” Roberts observed....

Roberts praised justices who were willing to put the good of the Court above their own ideological agendas. “A justice is not like a law professor, who might say, ‘This is my theory … and this is what I’m going to be faithful to and consistent with,’ and in twenty years will look back and say, ‘I had a consistent theory of the First Amendment as applied to a particular area,’” he explained. Instead of nine justices moving in nine separate directions, Roberts said, “it would be good to have a commitment on the part of the Court to acting as a Court, rather than being more concerned about the consistency and coherency of an individual judicial record.”
Keep reading, and you'll see that Rosen is honing these insights into a sword to use against two (or three) Justices. I'm skipping a lot to get to the juiciest part (and adding some boldface):
Roberts recognizes that much of his success or failure will be determined by his colleagues, and their readiness to embrace his vision of consensus and political neutrality....

The focus on justices as personalities—demanded by the public and cultivated by some justices—directly challenges Roberts’s view that justice itself should be impersonal. “What you’re trying to establish—wearing black robes and, in earlier times, wigs—[is] that it’s not the person; it’s the law.” To persuade individual justices to resist the pressures to promote themselves rather than the interests of the Court as a whole, he will have to appeal, in different ways, to their respective self-interests, and to a broader understanding of their judicial role. Roberts understandably declined to criticize his colleagues by name. But when he objected to justices who act more like legal academics than members of a collegial Court, it was hard not to think of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, who seem more interested in demonstrating their jurisprudential consistency by writing opinions that read like law-review articles than in finding common ground with their colleagues.
Now, Rosen is on his own:
Roberts could, in theory, appeal to justices like Scalia and Thomas—and their counterparts on the liberal wing of the Court—in the following terms: In important cases, on this evenly divided Court, neither the four liberals nor the four conservatives can confidently expect to prevail. Surely it would be in the best interest of each side if it could win half the cases by a unanimous vote, rather than trying to win slightly more often by a 5–4 vote, since a unanimous victory would be harder, in the future, to overturn. Of course, the justice who would be most resistant to this kind of bargain would be the swing justice—at the moment, Anthony Kennedy, who naturally enjoys his unique opportunity to determine the outcome of the most controversial cases on his own. When the swing justice is as self-dramatizing as Kennedy, even the chief’s most skillful appeals to the Court’s common interests may fall on deaf ears. But Kennedy, like most of the justices, also cares deeply about his own reputation as well as the Court’s. So perhaps the best way for Roberts to appeal to Kennedy and his colleagues is by invoking the lessons of history.
I love the way Rosen uses his freshly honed sword against fellow lawprofs:
“I think judicial temperament is a willingness to step back from your own committed views of the correct jurisprudential approach and evaluate those views in terms of your role as a judge,” [Roberts] said. “It’s the difference between being a judge and being a law professor.”...

The history of the Court confirms this insight. On the Court, the brilliant academics are less successful, over time, than the collegial pragmatists. The self-centered loners are less effective than the convivial team players. The resentful braggarts wear less well than the secure justices who know who they are. The narcissists wield judicial power less sure-handedly than the judges who show personal as well as judicial humility. The loose cannons shoot themselves in the foot, while those who know when to hold their tongues appear more judicious.
It's obvious that he means Scalia, and it's just so hilarious that he's insulting the hell out of law professors in the process. But you know, some of us law professors have congenial colleagues. And some of us value pragmatism and balk at over-pure theory.
The ideological purists are marginalized on the Court, while those who understand when not to take each principle to its logical extreme are vindicated by history. Justices who view cases in purely philosophical terms are less sure-footed than those who are aware of a case’s practical effects. And those with the common touch win broader support than those who live entirely in abstractions.
This, of course, resonates with me. (See the uproar I caused when I criticized some people who were too in love with abstract theory.) Rosen seems to say it's all well and good for law professors to be self-centered, resentful, bragging, narcissistic, reckless loners, but something different is needed from judges. I find it objectionable in law professors. (And I'm not the only law professor who does.)

But judges do have their hands on power, and they can do a lot of damage. Still, each Justice is only one of nine, and I think it's good that there are different kinds of judges talking to each other, contributing to a decision. I wouldn't want all nine to be flexible pragmatists. Having a hardcore originalist or two in the mix is a moderating safeguard. But don't give me five of them!

I think it's funny that Rosen is so eager to make Roberts's words into a weapon that he goes on to use so specifically against Scalia and Thomas. Here's Rosen, bringing his argument in for a landing:
Throughout its history, Roberts argues convincingly, the Court has best served itself—and the nation—when its individual justices have been willing to subordinate their own agendas in the interest of building judicial consensus and institutional legitimacy. Whether he will be able to resurrect John Marshall’s vision in a polarized, unbuttoned, and personality-driven age remains to be seen.
Scalia, of course, cares about institutional legitimacy. He just thinks it's founded on a specific interpretive theory. And Scalia thinks adherence to the theory of original meaning is the way to remove personal preference from decisionmaking. But it can't be denied that Scalia goes about in the world calling attention to himself as a personality. And it's not so clear that Roberts refrains from presenting himself as a personality, though certainly the Roberts persona is built on the "modesty" theme and executed in a style that would never fit Scalia.

Anyway, a nicely done article. Read the whole thing. He's got a long, substantial interview with the Chief Justice... and he knows how to use it.


It's law 'n' science. You know all you nerds want to go over there and read it. And not just you nerds. Everyone. It's by my colleague Steph Tai. Something I learned from reading her profile: She has 6 favorite movies, and 2 of them are documentaries about birds.

ADDED: Regular readers remember Steph from the "Red Settee" portrait series.

"It feels amazing in your hand... It’s so thin, and the rounded stainless-steel edges are so smooth..."

Gushes David Pogue over the new, instantly beloved iPhone, which he's had a chance to play with. (TimesSelect link.) Are you, like me, now looking at the ads for all the supposedly amazing and cool other phone devices and thinking: Oh, that's so sad. They didn't know what was about to overwhelm them.

More from Pogue:
Typing is difficult. The letter keys are just pictures on the glass screen, so of course there’s no tactile feedback.
I guess we'll all have to go back to the old two-finger style of typing. (I actually know a couple people who still type like that.) Or maybe one finger, if you hold the thing in one hand. Or is there some way to squeeze all your fingers onto the screen?
The Web browsing experience is incredible.
Ah! This is what I want!
You see the entire Web page on the iPhone’s screen. You double-tap any spot to zoom in. Or you use the two-fingered spread-apart gesture to “stretch” the image larger, or pinch your thumb and forefinger on the glass to zoom out again. The manipulation is seamless, smoothly animated—and useful. Using Google Maps to get you driving directions and maps, for example, is just light-years simpler and more powerful than on any other machine, thanks to this “rubber Web page” stretching technology.
If this thing is what it seems to be, I will happily leave the laptop at home and go about carrying next to nothing, stopping in cafés and restaurants, not giving a thought to whether there is WiFi.

Too agreeable.

Matthew Yglesias -- after reading what Marty Lederman had to say -- is sorry he agreed with me so much about the Democrats and Iraq.

Sophia and her older man.

Sophia Loren's husband Carlo Ponti just died -- at the age of 94.
Ponti was married to his first wife, Giuliana, when he met Loren, who was almost 25 years younger than he, in about 1950.

They tried to keep their relationship a secret in spite of huge media interest, while Ponti's lawyers went to Mexico to obtain a divorce.

Ponti and Loren were married by proxy in Mexico in 1957 -- two male attorneys took their place. The couple only found out about their marriage when the news was broken by a society columnist.
Well, this is an interesting story problem for math class, but I'm just going to look up Sophia Loren's birth date. It's September 20, 1934. She was 16 when they met in 1950. He was 38. She was 23 when she married the 45-year-old Ponti. Now, he is dead, and she is 72.

Remember this cover of Life Magazine?

That was from 1966. It was about a year before Twiggy entered our brains and made Sophia look fat. Click on the image to see a page of all the Life Magazine photos from that year. I remember them so well. Everyone read Life then. On the covers: Bobby Kennedy, Ian Fleming, Melina Mercouri, Jean-Paul Belmondo, "LSD Art," a White House wedding, "young black militants," Claudia Cardinale, "Mod male fashions," Julie Christie, Elizabeth Taylor, TV's Batman, Jackie Kennedy, Louis Armstrong, Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam. So long ago. So vivid....

Condolences to the beautiful Sophia.

And I love the image of two male lawyers getting married in 1957!

"Immersing myself in anti-Althousiana."

Not to obsess over BloggingHeads, but I was just going back to my Monday diavlog with Matt Yglesias and reading the comments. Down around comment #47, after a cascade of weird abuse by the sort of people you know love to abuse me, you get Gerald Hibbs saying:
Wow, when you lefties issue a fatwa you really stick to it. Following Ann across the Internet urging people to ignore her. She really must be doing something right. I think it's the fact that she doesn't use words like "rethuglicans" or call Bush "Chimpy McHitler" that really gets under your skin.
Then someone named Tubbuc responds:
Mr. Hibbs, I spent several hours last night reading Ms. Althouse's blog and tracking down the recent attacks on her character and intelligence. Her blog betrays no hint that she is any kind of "conservative" and my browser history shows that while immersing myself in anti-Althousiana I visited NRO, Reason, the Volokh conspiracy and several other rightwing outlets. What gives? Am I missing something?

Well, Tubbuc, sometimes the best answer is musical:

ADDED: Glenn Reynolds:
"ANTI-ALTHOUSIANA?" I think when the haters become a genre, you've made it!

Tee hee. Tubbuc's going to be so mad. He coined the word and -- I see now -- he's actually one of the haters. Oops. Sorry, Tubby.

Why are libertarians so interested in philosophy?

Ezra Klein and Will Wilkinson talk about "liberaltarians" on BloggingHeadsTV. Ezra (the liberal) starts if off by asking Will (the libertarian) why libertarians are so interested in philosophy. Will, toward the end, tells Ezra he's trying to "open [him] up to the beauty" of the free market. Ezra -- despite a very long, chatty diavlog -- is not buying.

ADDED: I think -- after tangling with a lot of libertarians a few weeks ago -- that the reason -- excuse the expression -- the reason libertarians are so interested in philosophy is that their ideas look best in philosophical form. It's the same reason fat people wear dark clothes.

January 9, 2007

The $70,000 TV screen.

It's 108 inches. You know, save some money. You can make any TV larger just by sitting closer! The only limit on your total control of the size of the screen as it appears in your visual field is the number of people you're sharing the screen with. How many people do you have there at home watching the same show? There! I just saved you $70,000.

Illegal to smoke in a car with a child present.

That's now the law in Bangor, Maine. I'm really not going out of my way to find news stories that go with things Matt and I talked about on Bloggingheads yesterday, but the creeping regulation of smoking, into the private sphere, is definitely one of them.

From the first link:
People who smoke with children present in the confined space of a car or truck might as well be deliberately trying to kill those children, said City Councilor Patricia Blanchette, who is a smoker.

"Let's step up to the plate and lead; our children are worth the fight," she said....

Pediatrician Robert Holmberg said the evidence is "incontrovertible" that exposure to cigarette smoke causes medical disorders in children, including asthma, bronchitis, ear infections and heart disease.
Not to mention that thing where Daddy throws the cigarette butt out the window and the wind whips it into the backseat where it lands on your lap. Man, I remember those days.

The new Apple phone.

I'm embarrassed to say how excited I got reading about the new phone. Beautiful!

Invalid marriage, valid separation?

A court in New York has upheld a separation agreement between two men whose marriage the court regarded as invalid. This isn't surprising, really, and the headline on the story seems off. It's quite simply a contract.

I'm back!

Were you worried? That was a scheduled outage by Blogger, and I wish I'd put up a warning so you wouldn't think something terrible had happened. Maybe you used the time wisely and viewed the new BloggingHeads with me and Matthew Yglesias. I can't help noticing that a lot of Althouse haters have decided to drop comments over there. People find it so hard to believe that I'm allowed to participate in the illustrious BloggingHeads project... and that I'm a law professor....

"The bottom line is that they were elected on a mandate to get the nation out of the mess in Iraq."

Do you believe that? Or is that an interpretation concocted after the election? And if it's true, isn't it apparent that the Democrats, despite winning the majority in both houses of Congress, really won't be able to do much of anything about Iraq?

The quote above is from Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, and the linked article recounts the Democrats' struggle to figure out what to propose now that they have the majority. One idea, pushed by Senator Kennedy, is to attempt to block funds for a troop increase, but it looks as if the key question is not whether to pass such legislation but whether it's in the Democrats' partisan interest to have that be openly debated at all.

(By the way, Matthew Yglesias and I talk about this subject in the last segment of the new BloggingHeads.)

It's the "Especially Addictive Edition"...

... of BloggingheadsTV. I talk about smoking, drugs, Supreme Court Justices, etc., with Matthew Yglesias.

January 8, 2007

"I thought is was important for me to get up on that rock and supervise."

We hear Martin saying that, in voice-over on "The Apprentice," right after Frank says, everyone but Martin dug in and helped. Earlier, introducing himself, Martin offered to give Donald Trump a hug if he'd "let him go to the bathroom." Eee-yikes! To be fair, Trump had, a moment before, given a hug to another contestant, a woman who was a three time Olympian, with a gold, silver, and bronze medal. But, still... Martin... what are you thinking? Does it ever work on "The Apprentice" to play the fool? But at this point -- yeah, I guess I'm simulblogging -- Frank is way more annoying than Martin. He thinks he's showing leadership, but he's bossing everyone around so much that he causes Trump to lean out the window of his mansion and tell him to pipe down. Trump, you should know, has a mansion that overlooks the building that houses the Apprenti.....

Teams are chosen by the two leaders who emerged in the first segment (which was about erecting a tent). The leaders are the incredibly annoying Frank and the not-yet-really -noticed Heidi. Now, they're sent out to wash cars, and Heidi starts to gel as a character. She says: "We're here in West Hollywood, which is a homosexual area... so we hired two guys to stand on the street and hold signs...." The signs look like hell. Who would trust them to do a deluxe "hand wash" on their car?....

"You're going to have to wash your teeth and face and whatever the hell you do. I have no idea nor do I give a damn, okay? Whatever you do, it's going to be outside," says Trump as he lets the losing team know they have to live in a tent until they win....

We see the winners going to dinner with Trump at Spago, and the food looks less than glorious. Meanwhile, the losers are camping out and eating together outdoors overlooking LA. It's beautiful, and they have each other. Why don't they revel? They're acting like it's "Survivor." But they're in LA! And they've got a spectacular view. And they don't have that gasbag Trump interrogating them. I know it's all in the editing, but I despise them for not loving life.

Martin figures out that he needs to direct all the negativity at Frank. Martin -- who's a lawyer and a professor -- does a damned good job of identifying one bad thing about Frank and making it stick in everyone's head. (It's the dreaded failure to establish a "price point.")...

"Are you a lawyer?" "I am an attorney, sir." Mmmm... doesn't that make you want Mr. Attorney to go home? This is a lengthy boardroom struggle, with Frank fighting desperately for his life, and Martin -- Mr. Attorney-- sitting back and hoping Frank will implode. Much as I found Frank annoying as hell in the first half hour (of this 2 hour show), I'm rooting for Frank now.

And Frank wins! The man on the rock goes home.

ADDED: Tung Yin is following the new season. Jacob at TWOP is recapping but not happy.

"He is the one with the 'L' on his pyjamas and spongebag."

I wasn't expecting to read that sentence today. But, anyway: Leopards! Leopards! Leopards!

Thing in a place.

A sculptural space

A sculptural space

I know there's a problem...

... getting into the comments pages. I wish I could remember how I nudged things back into shape the last time that happened! Maybe a new post -- i.e., this -- will help.

ADDED: Last time, it had something to do with the formatting of the dates shown in the archive in the sidebar. They shifted from one format to another on their own... It happened again.

AND: I managed to tweak it back into shape just by fooling around. Annoying though... especially since I'm moderating the comments and certain (immoderate!) people started accusing me of rejecting their comments because they weren't showing up right away. Which would be stupid anyway... since I don't hover over the blog all day long. I was off doing something. Actually, I was recording a Bloggingheads episode with Matthew Yglesias. Strangely, it's all about drugs!

When doctors can't say no to big-shot patients with drug problems.

Rehnquist's wife got it right:
In the FBI report, the doctor who helped Rehnquist get off drugs said the justice's family blamed the prescribing physician and the pharmacist and suggested that they were intimidated by high-ranking government officials. Dr. Russell Portenoy, chairman of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, says Mrs. Natalie C. Rehnquist may have been right....

"I have some sympathy for the doctor" who was treating him, he says. "The doctor realizes that an esteemed scholar, a person of high personal wealth or a head of a major corporation has been engaging in significantly problematic drug-related behavior," such as Rehnquist exhibited. "The reality is, it can be difficult for a physician to handle."
The doctor who lets himself be manipulated by big shots deserves no sympathy!


This and this.

Muslims praying in the cathedral.

Spanish Muslims have for years been petitioning for the right to celebrate Friday prayer in the [Córdoba Cathedral]. Up until now these requests have been denied, which is a good thing according to Spanish politician Gustavo de Arístegui, the nation’s foremost expert on Islamic terrorism. Arístegui explains that if this request were to be granted, it would set a dangerous precedent. Similar demands would follow in ancient mosques throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Far from satisfying Muslims, initial concessions would only serve to inspire Islamic extremists and their potential recruits.
You have a beautiful, historic building, and a religious group that has its sabbath on a different day. Does accommodating them really only inspire radical demands? If you truly believe that aren't you revealing that you think nothing would encourage moderation and assimilation?

(Link via Instapundit.)

ADDED: Stephen Bainbridge, like many of the commenters, just can't believe Muslims want a modest accommodation.

Should I have watched "The Apprentice"?

Sorry. I forgot to watch TV last night. I've got it on the TiVo. Was it any good? The TWOP forum is not encouraging. I knew the tent twist from seeing Trump on Letterman... Eh. Do I need a new (season of an old) reality show? Well, I like to have 2 reality shows to follow. That's about all I can take, but I also like it. "American Idol" is about to re-start. Think I'm going to blog that again this year? Hmmm, I wonder! Currently, I'm still hanging onto "Top Chef." It's pretty good. I was watching "Survivor" and really enjoying it, to the point where, even before it ended, I bought the DVD of the Pearl Islands season. I've now consumed that and -- oh, help me -- bought two more old seasons! What a great show! All that suffering. By comparison, Trump now puts his losers in tents... in LA... Plus, he yells at them a lot... That hurts a little.

Does Tommy Thompson have a chance?

Here's a quote from him:
"This is a big step and I want to make sure that we can do this," Thompson said. "I don't want to be on any fools errand at my age. If I run, I want to run to win. I don't want to run for second place, third place, or fourth place."
(I wanted to use that quote in the title for this post, but I couldn't find a single press account that put the apostrophe in "fool's errand," and I don't use brackets or "sic" in post titles if I can help it.)

So, really, is it a fool's errand?
"I think it is made to order for me," said Thompson. "If I had to paint a scenario as to how I could go form [sic] Elroy, Wis., to be governor and run for president, this would be the scenario that I would have: No frontrunner, a lot of candidates, the Republican party is in terrible trouble."

In other words, if it's a complete crapshoot, he's got as good a chance as anyone? That's not very inspiring.

ADDED: Wispolitics has the apostrophe right. They've also got the audio for the press conference, which is very low key. Thompson sounds modest and casual, and the crowd in the background seems to be going on with their own conversations.

What can the Democrats actually do about Iraq?

The NYT reports:
[Nancy Pelosi], along with the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, informed the president that they were opposed to increasing troop levels.

“If the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it,” Mrs. Pelosi said on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” “And this is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions.”
Oh, he's going to have to justify it. Strong words, eh? Or will they -- can they -- actually do something about the funding?
She also suggested that Congress should deal with financing for the current war and for the proposed increase as separate issues. “If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now,” she said.

Whether lawmakers are prepared to advocate legislative steps to withhold funds from an expanded mission is unclear. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that as a practical matter, there was little that lawmakers could do to prevent Mr. Bush from expanding the American military mission in Iraq.

“You can’t go in like a Tinkertoy and play around and say you can’t spend the money on this piece and this piece,” Mr. Biden said on the NBC News program “Meet the Press.” “He’ll be able to keep the troops there forever, constitutionally, if he wants to.”

“As a practical matter,” Mr. Biden added, “there is no way to say, ‘Mr. President, stop.’ ”
That's an interesting contrast between the two legislators, one of whom is running for President in '08. Let's look at the full transcript of Biden on "Meet the Press." Here's the key part (boldface added):
MR. RUSSERT: You said the other day that this is President Bush’s war, and there’s...

SEN. BIDEN: It is.

MR. RUSSERT: ...there’s really little Democrats can do. Why not cut off funding for the war?

SEN. BIDEN: I’ve been there, Tim. You can’t do it.


SEN. BIDEN: You can’t do it. It’s—what—because it made sense in the Constitution when you said you could cut off funding when you had no standing army. We have a standing army with a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars. You can’t go in and, like a tinker toy, and play around and say, “You can’t spend the money on this piece and this piece and”—he—able—he’ll be able to keep those troops there forever constitutionally if he wants to.

MR. RUSSERT: Why not have legislation then that would cap the number of troops in Iraq?

SEN. BIDEN: Because it’s very difficult to—it’s constitutionally questionable whether or not you can do that. I think it is unconstitutional to say, “We’re going to tell you you can go, but we’re going to micromanage the war.” When we wrote the Constitution, the intention was to give the commander in chief the authority how to use the forces, when you authorize them, to be able to use the forces. And so, look, what we have to be doing here is the president—the only way this is going to change, Tim, and I’ve been saying—I’m a broken record on this—is when a majority of Lindsey’s colleagues, Republicans, say to the president, “Mr. President, enough. We are not going to support you any more,” that’s when the president will begin to change his policy. That’s when we begin to listen to bipartisan groups. That’s when we bebin—begin to listen to the majority of the expert opinion in this country.
So it's up to the Republicans to do something about the war? Nothing the Democrats can do at all. It's the same situation as before the election, and yet -- in Pelosi's words -- "this is new."

I'm picturing no change in funding the war, even if Bush goes through with his surge. We'll have some hearings and investigations, but they will be primarily for the purpose of shaping the Democrats image in preparation for the '08 election. And that's what you got out of the big '06 elections on the issue that the elections were supposedly all about.

ADDED: Here's Howard Fineman:
Even as they decried the "surge" and declared that it is "time to bring the war to a close," Democrats offered reasons for staying out of Bush's way. Obama took the safest ground. "I cannot in good conscience," he said, "cut off funding for our troops that are already there." He and others will insist that future requests be included in the regular budget. Sen. Joe Biden, whose Foreign Relations Committee will launch hearings on the war this week, said that Congress's role is simply too limited to be effective. "It's all about the separation of powers," he said. Last month he told Bush: "This is your war, Mr. President, and there's nothing we can do to stop you."

The Democrats may not really want to. Party leaders (especially Nancy Pelosi) fear being branded as "weak on defense" if they kicked off in Congress with antiwar maneuvers. Rather than do that, said Biden and Sen. Chris Dodd, the best strategy for now is to try to dig out the facts and educate the public. Only Republicans have the leverage to pressure Bush to change course, Biden said.

In the meantime, Democrats know a classic "wedge issue" when they see one. With 21 Republicans up for re-election, Democrats would be happy to witness full-scale GOP infighting, which could catch the Republicans' '08 front runner, Sen. John McCain, in the crossfire. Democratic strategists say it would be politically foolish to help Bush by crafting a bipartisan war policy. "Why should we try to come up with a compromise policy with him?" asks Mike Ward, a former congressman who was back at the Capitol for opening-day festivities. "If we do that, we take ownership of the war. Why would we want to do that?"
Fineman answers that question in the way that I think I lot of folks who voted for Democrats will. What happened to the outrage? Exactly what you should have expected!

January 7, 2007


Someone is commenting on other blogs using my name. What action should I take?

ADDED: I have contacted the blogger asking that the comments be removed. So far, I've received no response, and it is perhaps too soon to accuse the individual blogger of unethical behavior. I would appreciate some support from other bloggers, of all political stripes, making it absolutely clear that this is unethical.

UPDATE: The blogger in question, instead of answering my email or being at all decent about it, has indicated strong support for the imposter commenter and thinks the whole thing is just funny, including my objection. On the positive side, he's now used my name so much that it makes the fakeness obvious, and his behavior shows that he thinks of me as the sort of huge celebrity who gets imitated all the time and everyone knows is fake. As one of the commenters herein notes, I have said -- maybe just in a podcast -- that I have a strategy playing the blog game and, as he observes, this incident can be read as a sign of its success. Or, in saying that, am I trying to use reverse psychology on the blogger in question? If he thinks he's playing my game, maybe he'll stop. Or did I put up that last thing so he wouldn't stop?

The lonely horse.

Horse in the window

It's hard being a sculpture.

Democrat's vow...


So soon... And it's... because of a football game?

Analysis of that devil photo.

Here's the original, and here's my analysis:

Analysis of the devil photograph

Biden vs. Graham on Iraq.

The face-off between Senators Joe Biden and Lindsay Graham on "Meet the Press" today was truly harrowing, and not because these men attacked each other. They did not. They were evenly matched -- though Biden felt strong, and Graham seemed deeply troubled and emotional. Each articulated his position on Iraq extremely well. Biden's message was "we need a political solution first, not a military solution." Graham's was "somebody needs to answer the question, what happens when we leave?"

By the way, at the end, Biden says, "I am running for President."
MR. RUSSERT: And you’re going to take on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and all other comers.

SEN. BIDEN: I’m going to be Joe Biden, and I’m going to try to be the best Biden I can be. If I can, I got a shot. If I can’t, I lose.

"One of the biggest acts of political malpractice in the history of American politics."

According to Terry McAuliffe's new memoir, “What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals,” that would be John Kerry's decision to forbid attacks on George W. Bush at the 2004 Democratic convention. Yes, that was Kerry's big problem all right. He was just too darned nice to his opponents.

In the red, rectangular shadows.

The MMoMA front desk

It's the front desk at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

The MMoMA front desk

The first picture contains not only my shadow but also what looks like an image of the Devil!


I'm doing a BloggingheadsTV with Matthew Yglesias tomorrow. Any suggestions about what we should talk about? And then there's the podcast... what should I be digressing about today?

The Supreme Court is deciding so few cases these days...

... that we're doomed to read endless articles like this one about how the Supreme Court is deciding so few cases these days.

"The way she conducts herself in this sort of lonely life of hers is not something that at face value I could really understand."

Kate Winslet talks about her role in "Little Children":
[S]he confirmed that Sarah, a neglected wife and a disaffected mother, was not an easy fit, especially for an actress who believes “it’s important to learn to love the person that you’re playing.”

“Sarah,” she said, “has some qualities that I didn’t necessarily respect or like. The way she conducts herself in this sort of lonely life of hers” — having a torrid affair with an equally unhappy stay-at-home father, played by Patrick Wilson — “is not something that at face value I could really understand.”

... [S]he was thrown by the character’s willingness to stay put in a bad marriage — Ms. Winslet herself quickly bailed out of her first marriage, to James Threapleton, then an assistant director, before settling down three and a half years ago with the director Sam Mendes.

Comparing herself to Sarah, she said: “I cannot sit back and just say, ‘Oh, well, this is my lot.’ If I don’t like something, I go off and I fix it. It was really, really hard for me to dampen down those impulses in myself, and to stop myself being frustrated with her.”
I hear the movie is great, by the way, the best of the year. And I've loved Kate Winslet since her first movie, one of my all-time favorites, "Heavenly Creatures." But I was motivated to break out that passage because I'm fascinated by the divorcee's contempt for the woman who stays in a bad marriage and chooses the problematic form of self-expression that is adultery.

Posner on plagiarism.

Posner's new book is about plagiarism:
Richard Posner, moreover, is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a law professor at the University of Chicago who turns out books and articles with annoying frequency and facility. Surely, under deadline pressure, he is tempted every now and then to resort to a little clipping and pasting, especially since he cuts members of his own profession a good deal of slack on the plagiarism issue. In the book he readily acknowledges that judges publish opinions all the time that are in fact written by their clerks, but he excuses the practice on the ground that everyone knows about it and therefore no one is harmed.
Is ghostwriting plagiarism? The clerks are ghostwriters. It's true everyone knows about it, but that doesn't mean it's not bad.

Anyway, in "The Little Book of Plagiarism," Posner seems to give judges a pass. But then he's hard on the professors who are soft on plagiarism (by other professors). The reason: Politics! All those lefties in academia:
[T]he left, which dominates the professoriate these days, is soft on plagiarism because the left is uncomfortable with ideas of individual creativity and ownership. (Surprisingly, he fails to take a whack at French theorists like Barthes and Foucault, who argued that in the strictest sense there is no such thing as an “author,” because all writing is collaborative and produced by a kind of cultural collective.)
Academic lefties don't preen over their own creativity and fawn over the creativity of writers they admire? I haven't read the book -- it's not even out until the 16th -- but it seems to me that professors are soft on plagiarizing professors because they feel a natural sympathy toward one of their own.

We were first. [I guess not!]

Did you know this about the University of Wisconsin-Madison?

ADDED: It looks like we're just first on that chart! Here's the squib that accompanies it.