July 21, 2007

Goodbye to Tammy Faye.

She said goodbye to us two days ago on Larry King. Speaking about Jesus and Heaven, she looked shockingly wasted, and her makeup -- long the subject of jokes -- ought to have seemed even more absurd on this near-corpse, but it wasn't like that. It felt like a brilliant expression of love for life and defiance of death (even as she accepted death).

Part 1 of the show:

Part 2.
Part 3.

The NYT obit:
Tammy Faye Messner, who as Tammy Faye Bakker helped her husband, Jim, build a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire and then saw it collapse in disgrace, has died. She was 65....

In an interview with CNN's Larry King... an emaciated Messner -- still using her trademark makeup -- said, "I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I'm going straight to heaven." Asked if she had any regrets, Messner said: "I don't think about it, Larry, because it's a waste of good brain space."

If you have a hard time seeing why you should love Tammy Faye, just watch this movie.

The Justice Department won't pursue contempt charges against the witnesses who invoked Executive Privilege.

Any alternative?
Congress has another route to enforce its will, an inherent power of contempt. But that has not been used since early in the 20th century. It has long been deemed unwieldy in the modern era as it entails Congress stopping all work to hold its own trial and imprisoning any offenders in the basement of the Capitol.
"Unwieldy," i.e., too bizarre to do.

"Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?"

After running profile after profile, Normblog finally -- for the 200th profile -- profiles Norm!

TPM thinks it's found a video of Giuliani "screaming" "bullsh*t!"

Here. I've watched it. He's not "screaming" "bullsh*t." Nor has he "come unhinged" (as TPM puts it.)

He's addressing what appears to be a police union rally and giving a rousing speech, which contains the shouted expletive "bullsh*t." Reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows.

Shouting is not "screaming."

Some people don't like the harsh word "bullsh*t" -- and I'm modifying it here with an asterisk out of my bullsh*t fear of filters -- but it's a normal and useful word. I'm sure cops appreciate it. Using it doesn't make you crazy, and I'm positive TPM doesn't think it does. TPM is simply trying to hurt Rudy's chances with conservatives so he won't get the nomination and get his chance to win over liberals. So acting like he's "unhinged" in that video is bullshit.

UPDATE: Here is some background on the context of that speech (from a NYT analysis of Giuliani and race):
... Mr. Giuliani took a fateful step that would for years prompt questions about his racial sensitivities. In September 1992, he spoke to a rally of police officers protesting Mr. Dinkins’s proposal for a civilian board to review police misconduct.

It was a rowdy, often threatening, crowd. Hundreds of white off-duty officers drank heavily, and a few waved signs like “Dump the Washroom Attendant,” a reference to Mr. Dinkins. A block away from City Hall, Mr. Giuliani gave a fiery address, twice calling Mr. Dinkins’s proposal “bullshit.” The crowd cheered. Mr. Giuliani was jubilant.

“If you’re acculturated to like cops, you don’t necessarily see 10,000 white guys who don’t vote in the city, don’t write political checks and love you for the wrong reason,” an aide said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is working with the Giuliani presidential campaign.

Mr. Dinkins has not forgotten that sea of angry cops. “Rudy was out there inciting white cops to riot,” Mr. Dinkins said in a recent interview.

Mr. Giuliani said he never saw racist signs. “One of the reasons those police officers might have lost control is that we have a mayor who invites riots,” he said at the time. The Giuliani campaign later conducted a “vulnerability study” to identify their candidate’s weaknesses in 1993. This study, obtained by Wayne Barrett, author of “Rudy!” — an investigative biography — offers an unsparing critique: “Giuliani’s shrieking performance at the cop rally may be his greatest political liability this year. Giuliani has yet to admonish those who attacked the mayor with racist code words on signs and banners. Why not?”
MORE: After TPM attacks me for this post, I respond here.

AND: I wrote more on the NYT coverage of Giuliani and race here.

If Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton had been bald, would we have elected them?

Look at pictures, and be honest. But isn't Fred Thompson different somehow? Isn't he "good bald"? Or is it just that I'm used to seeing him bald and shocked at the revelation of how Clinton and Reagan would look? Perhaps Thompson's face is so elaborately creased with character that the blank dome provides needed balance. Hair would seem fussy.

Yet maybe we're moving into a time when a shaved-down scalp will look best on a man and the politician's hair we've been seeing for the last quarter-century will look absurdly wig-like and repellent.

But to look good bald, you need a well-shaped head. One reason Reagan and Clinton look so stupid in the caricatures at the link is because the artist has given each of them a narrowing cranium, a pointy ridge of a head. Compare Thompson's head: high, big and rounded. It may be that Reagan and Clinton had similarly well-shaped heads.

Come to think of it, wouldn't you like to get a look at a man's head before electing him President?

This last question has me off and searching for a picture of Zippy the Pinhead. A cool thing about the Zippy website is this page with a clickable map of the United States, which lets you find old strips set in whatever state you want. Zippy, not being a presidential candidate, has not yet visited Iowa. But here's a strip from Wisconsin. Interestingly, the last panel may give a clue what it is we fear about the bald head.

"Whatever it is, I'm against it."

Ruth Anne found the YouTube clips for the 2 Marx Brothers scenes I mentioned in yesterday's vlog.

July 20, 2007

"How much sex education is age appropriate for a 5-year-old? In my mind, zero is the right number."

Says Mitt Romney, taking aim at Barack Obama:
"All I said was that I support the same laws that exist in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in which local communities and parents can make decisions to provide children with the information they need to deal with sexual predators," Obama said in an AP Interview.

Romney on Wednesday targeted Obama for supporting a bill during his term in the Illinois state Senate that would have, among other things, provided age-appropriate sex education for all students....

Obama said Romney was wrong to take the shot and incorrect on its basis.

"We have to deal with a coarsening of the culture and the over-sexualization of our young people. Look, I've got two daughters, 9 and 6 years old," Obama told the AP. "Of course, part of the coarsening of that culture is when politicians try to demagogue issues to score cheap political points."
Well, I'm going to keep score. Obama gets one point and Romney loses one. Actually, I'm going to give Obama 3 points and subtract 2 for Romney. Here's my thinking:
+1 Obama: He's correct that young children need "age appropriate" sex education. For example, a 5-year-old should know enough to prevent abuse and can hear a simple explanation about where babies come from

-1 Romney: He's wrong to say that a 5-year-old should get absolutely no information about sex.

-1 Romney: Trying to gain ground by stirring people up about sex and children.

+1 Obama: Reacting quickly and competently when attacked. Those quotes, above, are pitch-perfect.

+1 Obama: Federalism! Let state and local government decide matters having to do with children, education, and morality.

A little Friday afternoon vlog.

Just answering your questions... from the previous post. Trying to do it without edits, but the phone rang....

ADDED: Here's the song I mention.

MORE: Ruth Anne found the Marx Brothers clips.

Quick! Questions!

I feel a vlog coming on. To be recorded in approximately one hour. Ask me what you will. I'll answer what it amuses me to answer.

The handwriting is on the lake.

Lake Mendota

I feel like I can almost read it. But, no, no....

Lake Mendota

The lake has nothing to say. Carry on...

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota


.... flaunts cleavage.

Or are you going to say that "flaunts" is too active a verb? She has cleavage. Just happens to have it. Just happens to wear a top that happens to be low enough that you can see it if you happen to have eyes. Just happens to wear it to the Senate floor to give a speech about the cost of education. Are you going to say that we ought to be giving attention to the content of that speech and not to the presentation of the woman who would be President?

ADDED: Link address tweaked to provide photos.

AND: Some more attention for the linked column. Hot Air: "Whatever. I don’t want to hear about Sen. Clinton’s cleavage. I just don’t. And if HRC were a Republican, she’d undoubtedly be getting the Jeri Thompson or Wendy Vitter treatment. But she’s a Democrat, so we get hack poetry paying homage to her boobs." Gawker: "Thanks, Robin! Now if we can just get a little ass-crackery from Obama, we'll be able to make our decision on who to support!"


Our pool.

I complained back at the proposal stage. Here's the situation now:
Madison's Goodman Pool has closed four times this summer because of low attendance, a new policy meant to save money -- but one that also may disappoint pool-goers.

The pool's policy is to close early if fewer than 50 people are on hand within the first hour of open swim or if attendance falls much below that....

[T]he closing policy is new this year after the pool posted a $140,000 operating loss in its first year. The pool didn't have the policy a year ago, because "last year we didn't know how much money we were losing."
Of course, if the pool doesn't stay open for predictable regular hours, more people will stay away, and things will only get worse.

By the way, it's 66° right now in the dead of summer here in Madison, Wisconsin, where we have many big beautiful lakes but an even bigger love of taxing the citizens to provide goodies people don't even want.

ADDED: Let me put it another way:

Lake Mendota

"9/11 Truthers Garner More Support."

Here's what really gets me about the 9/11 conspiracy theory. How can anyone believe it now? Of course, it was always completely crazy, but some people believed it anyway because they imagined a hyper-organized, hyper-competent, hyper-secret Executive Branch. Now, you've watched all these years of struggling through the Iraq war. How can you cling to the premise that the Executive Branch is hyper-organized, hyper-competent, hyper-secret? Do they think Bush and Cheney deliberately conducted the war to give it the appearance of a big screw up in order to throw us off the track?

"What we have here is a case of a lazy reporter being burned by a fellow Democrat who told her, probably as a lark, that he was a Republican..."

Lawyer blatantly fools journalist into featuring him in her article, and she can't back down. The anecdote was so perfect. Just the hook she needed wanted for her article on the Democratic presidential candidates addressing a group of trial lawyers.

Here, the journalist, Jennifer Hunter, fights back, complaining about being "harassed" by "irate Republicans":
The grumbling arose partially because my editor took a small part of my story and made it into a headline: "GOP lawyer sold on Dems." Reporters don't write headlines, editors do. And they want to write something catchy so readers will read the darned story.

The story was not about the GOP lawyer
; it was about the speeches five Democratic presidential candidates gave to a convention of trial lawyers...

The final kicker for all you Republicans who read my column with a magnifying glass is...
Boldface added. The article is 17 short paragraphs. The first 4 paragraphs and the last 2 paragraphs are devoted to the supposedly "staunch Republican," Jim Ronca. How is he "a small part" of the story that you'd need "a magnifying glass" to find? It was more than a third of the article.

It's like "fake but accurate." Even if Ronca wasn't a staunch Republican who'd fallen out of love with Republican politicians, he stood for all those other staunch Republicans who've fallen out of love with Republican politicians, and Hunter needed to quote someone like that to frame her story about the various candidate speeches so she could to produce a conventionally lame mainstream piece about candidate speeches, so why is everyone making such a big deal about it? My critics are all... grrrrrr..... staunch Republicans!!!!

"The first 4 minutes I was horrified. But then as she talked and giggled and was her sweet self..."

"... I don't know - the scary outer shell seemed to melt away and her beautiful spirit shone through and she was the same sweet Tammy Faye. What a strong lady!!!"

Did you watch Tammy Faye Messner on "Larry King" last night? Here are a few minutes of video, showing the woman, horribly ravaged by cancer, yet still dolled up in her classic style, speaking about how she loves us and hopes to see us all in Heaven.

When Germans think they're being anti-Nazi by singling out one religion to discriminate against.

How bizarre. Tom Cruise is filming a movie called "Valkyrie" -- the story of the man who nearly assassinated Hitler -- in Germany. But some Germans are upset about it, because they don't like Cruise's religion, Scientology.
The German press has given blanket coverage to the film but some officials have baulked at the choice of Cruise to play the Nazi officer Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who was executed by firing squad after the failed bomb attack of July 20, 1944.

They cite the actor's ties to the Church of Scientology, which is viewed here as a commercial outfit that exploits vulnerable people, as making him unfit to play a German martyr.

"Stauffenberg stood for the most noble motives a person can have," Frank Henkel, the general secretary of the Berlin chapter of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, told rolling news channel NTV.

"I consider Tom Cruise as a self-proclaimed ambassador of Scientology inappropriate for the role."

The remarks came after sharp criticism from a number of politicians and even Stauffenberg's eldest son Berthold, 72, who has told the press that Cruise "should keep his hands off my father."
So, in your mind, the adherents of one religion are ignoble? What an absurd attitude to take exactly at the point when you're contemplating your Nazi history.

July 19, 2007

Thursday in Milwaukee.

If you're wondering about the minimal blogging today... I was in Milwaukee, watching my nephew Cliff Kresge at the U.S. Bank Championship. You may not care about golf, and if you do, you may be focused on the British Open this week, but there is another PGA tournament, and it's here in Wisconsin. My nephew is currently tied for 11th place, so pay attention.

Anyway, that's what I was up to. They don't let you bring in cameras, so I can't show you any pictures of that, but after Cliff finished, my sister and I drove downtown and took in the museum.

Here I am with a torso:

Milwaukee Art Museum

After my sister took this picture, some guy said to us "Shame on you." What the hell? There's some idea, apparently -- here in the midwest? -- that a naked male torso is supposed to be endured with sullen solemnity or something.

And here's my cool older sister, Dell...

Milwaukee Art Museum

... on the front side of said torso.

And here's the art museum devoid of Althouse sisters:

Milwaukee Art Museum

Obama ≈ JFK?

Ted Sorenson is saying that.

And see: Giuliani ≈ Nixon.

Somebody seems to have plugged in a new column-generating machine.

What's next? Hillary ≈ Jimmy Carter?

Maybe it's all a reaction to the elephant in the room: Thompson ≈ Reagan.

Better than Ann Arbor?


July 18, 2007



Giuliani ≈ Nixon?

An iffy comparison, but try it on for size:
In his elections, Nixon appealed to conservatives and the country as a culture warrior who was not a moral or religious conservative. "Permissiveness," he told key aides, "is the key theme," and Nixon pressed that theme against hippie protesters, tenured radicals and liberals who bad-mouthed America. This kind of secular, tough-on-crime, tough-on-communism conservatism gathered a "silent majority" that loved Nixon for the enemies he made.

By this standard, Giuliani is a Nixon Republican. He is perhaps the most publicly secular major candidate of either party -- his conflicts with Roman Catholic teaching make him more reticent on religion than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But as a prosecutor and mayor of New York, he won conservative respect for making all the right enemies: the ACLU, advocates of blasphemous art, purveyors of racial politics, Islamist mass murderers, mob bosses and the New York Times editorial page.

"I consider this a hate crime."

Beaten to death: a Hummer in a Prius neighborhood.

FLYNT: "I was shocked, especially at one senator but…"

KING: "One senator especially?"

Over at the link, they're slavering over the possibilities, naming the names of the Senators they'd most like to see connected to prostitution. It's all about the hypocrisy -- don't you know? -- so it's okay to slaver.

The big Cheezburger.

Oh, admit you're jealous!
"We just thought, O.K., they're funny," Nakagawa says. "Suddenly we started getting hits. I was like, where are these coming from?"
Now it's $4,000 a week ads, and it's all coming from readers generating content based on one simple, static idea. And yet, they have done something -- something that is exceedingly hard to do. It's incredibly easy, but impossibly hard. That's a lot. It's like inventing the paper clip or whatever. You're jealous, looking on, after it's been done. Surely, you could have thought that up too. Why are they rich from it? Ah, deal with it. Damn!

(Via Metafilter.)

My clothes/me clothes.




I wouldn't restrict this concept to summer. Shouldn't all home cooking should be something you can do in 10 minutes or less?

Theme day?

If you had to argue it's a theme day here on the Althouse blog...

What's Homer Simpson doing with that pagan rain god?

Ring toss! (Via Classical Values.)

"As the sun rose over the Capitol this morning, bleary-eyed senators..."

So, that happened.

July 17, 2007

Look closely.


What do you see?

Obama on Supreme Court appointments: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom."

"The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

Speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference today, Obama was critical of the way Supreme Court confirmations only wade into the shallow water of character -- "He loves his wife. He's good to his dog."

He criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for saying "he saw himself just as an umpire":
“But the issues that come before the court are not sports; they’re life and death. We need somebody who’s got the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom.”

Obama said that 95 percent of cases can be judged on intellect, but that the other 5 percent are the most important ones.

“In those 5 percent of cases, you’ve got to look at what is in the justice’s heart, what’s their broader vision of what America should be."
Hmmm.... you’ve got to look at what is in the justice’s heart. Great way to distinguish yourself from Bush!
I've known Harriet for more than a decade. I know her heart, I know her character. I know that Harriet's mother is proud of her today, and I know her father would be proud of her, too. I'm confident that Harriet Miers will add to the wisdom and character of our judiciary when she is confirmed as the 110th Justice of the Supreme Court.
But we know what this "heart" business means! It means that the President (or would-be President) understands that judging won't be neutral, that the human being doing the judging, no matter how dutiful and honest he tries to be, can only find his way to a decision in a complex case by responding to the pull of emotion. So "heart" matters. The question isn't whether "heart" counts. It's: which "heart" do you want?

"Elizabeth Edwards didn't call Hillary Clinton a man."


ADDED: Salon's Joan Walsh wrote:
I knew Edwards was making news when she criticized Clinton, but she was definitely not calling her a man, which is one of the GOP's favorite slurs against Hillary Clinton. This is the last, best hope of the Republicans to hold onto the White House: to brand the leading candidate, who happens to be female, as too mannish, while slurring the leading men -- John Edwards and Barack Obama -- as girly. Meanwhile, President Bush is the swaggering moron who won't ask for directions even though he's 100 miles off course, and the 2008 GOP lineup is a parody of masculinity -- not to mention a Mount Rushmore of infidelity. According to an Associated Press poll released today, GOP primary voters are still longing for someone different to throw his or her hat into the race. Elizabeth Edwards' point was to question Democrats who are making a straight gender pitch for women to support Clinton -- or for African-Americans to support Obama -- which is absolutely fair game.
Walsh is complaining about one of Drudge's headlines. But when does the GOP use the word "man" against Hillary? I mean, there may be insinuations that she's insufficiently feminine, but I'm not seeing anyone actually calling her a man. So why is Walsh bitching about Drudge idiocy and then committing the same offense?

Anyway, there is an elaborate gender subtext in the 2008 campaign, and Elizabeth Edwards is playing her part in it. She's pretty subtle about it, but she is using gender to score points. So what Drudge did worked as hyperbole. I could see blogging that interview and making a wisecrack to the effect that Elizabeth Edwards is saying Hillary's a man. Drudge sets his own standards for what his page is supposed to be. It's not quite normal headlines. Sometimes he twists things around for comical effect.

The main problem, I think -- and I've blogged about this before -- is when he puts something in quotes that doesn't appear in text at the link. Today, he had: "Gender Bender: Wife Edwards Says Hillary 'Behaving Like a Man.'" And "behaving like a man" did not appear at the link. You could do fake quotes. The Onion does. But I don't think that's Drudge's standard approach. That's what makes it seem wrong.

MORE: Katharine Q. Seelye writes in TimesSelect:
[I]t seems that there’s something about Mrs. Clinton that is clearly frustrating to Mrs. Edwards....
Yeah, she's beating the hell out of her husband.
The Edwards campaign may find that such pointed remarks help Mr. Edwards raise money, as Mrs. Edwards’s confrontation with Ann Coulter did a few weeks ago. But it may also find that they overshadow her husband and his message.
I'm thinking it's actually pretty smart of EE to strike out like this. There's something a little annoying about sending the woman (who's a wife) out to attack the woman (who's a candidate), but EE is very appealing, and the Edwards marriage is quite a bit more appealing than the Clinton marriage. And Hillary has been using Bill.

The "Obama Girl" guy.

He's Ben Relles, from Madison.
Relles, who was born in Madison, grew up in Philadelphia and got an undergrad degree from UW-Madison in 1997, said what most people want to know first is whether the Obama campaign has anything to do with the videos (it doesn't). Relles is related to one of the founders of the famed early 1970s Madison comedy troupe Kentucky Fried Theatre and traces his own comic instincts to his time at UW-Madison. "Humor is a huge part of the culture on campus," he said....

He says the ultimate goal is simple: He wants barelypolitical.com to be the Web site people turn to first for political humor. If that involves models and pillow fights and fame and fortune, well, old school or new school, somebody has to do it.

The three things that would happen if we withdrew from Iraq.

WaPo reports the results of a U.S. military war game:

1. "Majority Shiites would drive Sunnis out of ethnically mixed areas west to Anbar province."

2. "Southern Iraq would erupt in civil war between Shiite groups."

3. "[T]he Kurdish north would solidify its borders and invite a U.S. troop presence there."

In other words, the country would break into three parts. According to the man who ran the game, it would be "ugly" but not "apocalyptic."

Tuesday Morning Vlog.

Based on your questions.

UPDATE: Synchronization problem at the end fixed, so the ending that was missing is there now.

Should we force restaurants to show calorie counts?

Would you like to see the calorie count displayed on the menu? Consider this:
If you were watching calories, would you go for the chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s or the classic sirloin steak? Subway’s tuna or roast beef sandwich? A Starbucks chai or a cappuccino?...

The chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s is one of those items that might appear to be a healthier choice, but brace yourself: it contains 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat, while the sirloin has 540 calories and 42 grams of fat (not counting side dishes).

Nor is a tuna sandwich the low-calorie choice at Subway: it has 530 calories, significantly more than the roast beef sandwich, which has 290. And a chai latte almost always has 100 more calories than a cappuccino of the same size prepared with the same kind of milk....

Some entrees and appetizers provide a staggering amount of calories in a single dish, sometimes more than the 2,000 recommended daily for the average adult. Notorious among nutritionists is the Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse, a battered, deep-fried onion resembling a flower that is served with a dipping sauce. The damage, nutritionists say, is about 2,200 calories and more than 100 grams of fat, most of it trans fat.
The sheer difficulty of estimating the calories in restaurant food suggests why it would be good to see the numbers, but a law requiring restaurants to show the numbers has some problems. For one thing only some restaurants are covered -- chain restaurants.

Why pick on chain restaurants? Is their food any more fattening or mystifying than the food served in nonchain restaurants? What is a nonchain but a local restaurant that hasn't branched out yet? Is there some idea that a chain restaurant has standardized the product, so it's easier for it to come up with calorie counts? But small differences in preparation can affect the calorie count -- like using 6 tablespoons of dressing instead of 4-- and that can make the displayed counts wrong. Are you going to punish these restaurants if they don't get their cooks to calibrate the ingredients precisely?

Wouldn't it be better to let businesses decide whether they want to respond to customer demand for calorie counts? To facilitate this market process, a more helpful law would be one that excluded any punishment or action for fraud if a restaurant got the calorie count wrong, so that a restaurant that wanted to try to provide this information wouldn't take too much risk. (Remember the low-fat frozen yogurt episode of "Seinfeld"?)

The law could require some additional notice before the restaurant could take advantage of the exclusion from liability, something like: This calorie count is only an estimate and may be incorrect. Please use your own judgment. Then, let anyone who cares about overeating learn a little about portion size and the density of calories in various foods. We may end up just as fat, but we have a chance of getting a little smarter.

Quick! Ask me some questions!


I'm in the mood to do a morning vlog.

July 16, 2007

Adventures in sock puppetry.

Help me figure something out. I wrote a post this morning about sock puppetry that included a quote from Lee Siegel, the New Republic critic who got suspended for writing under a pseudonym in the magazine's comments section. In the comments to that post, someone wrote under the name "Lee Siegel." To some extent this long comment made sense and seemed to be an interesting explanation of Siegel's predicament, but it also misread what I'd written so badly that I didn't think it could be the real Lee Siegel, whom I would be honored to have participate in the comments.

I deleted the comment and wrote:
I don't accept people posting under someone else's name here. I deleted the post that purported to be Lee Siegel because it's inconceivable to me that Lee Siegel could be dumb enough to write: "Ann Althouse astonishingly writes that she 'condemns' me because 'the truth is I never liked Lee Siegel,' so I guess nothing I say will penetrate her bias."

Obviously, the post and another comment defends Lee Siegel and I only said I was "tempted" to condemn "the practice" of sock puppetry -- not Siegel himself because I don't like him. (I don't like his writing. Find my old posts criticizing his writing if you like.) I'm defending him in spite of the fact that I don't like his writing. Get it? The opposite of bias. Jeez.

If that actually was Lee Siegel, he can email me and convince me it was him, and then I'll restore the post, which I still have.
I received an email:
Yes, that was dumb old me. Please restore my post.
I responded:
I have a strong policy against imitations, so you need to prove it to me. I myself am imitated on a site and I don't like it.
He's all:
Prove it to you? Are you kidding? You want me to Fedex you my passport? What childishness. Then I guess you can't prove that anyone is who he says he is who writes in to your "blog." Hey, it's me. You just don't want to restore my post. So don't. One more tale from the brave new blogosphere.
I retort:
You've given me the proof that you are not Lee Siegel. Thanks.
Am I wrong?

Anyway, with all this explanation, it is not confusing to anyone to reprint the original comment by the person who may or may not be Lee Siegel, so here it is, interspersed with my commentary:
Ann Althouse astonishingly writes that she "condemns" me because "the truth is I never liked Lee Siegel," so I guess nothing I say will penetrate her bias. But let me try.
I just didn't like Siegel's writing -- see this old post -- quite aside from his problem with sock puppetry. I think he got a bum rap on that, so accusing me of bias is backwards. My point is that I'm supporting him even though I didn't like his criticism.
Althouse writes: "Siegel should respect the policies his employer lays down." I'm surprised that an evidence-conscious lawyer like Althouse hasn't bothered to find out what those policies were. This is what they were.
I didn't say one way or the other whether he violated his employer's policy. I was speaking to what I was in a position to talk about: whether it was inherently bad to participate in the comments under a pseudonym. Spare me the "evidence-conscious lawyer" crap. All I did was concede that the policies -- whatever they were -- would bind him. Meanwhile, I was supporting him!
The New Republic's "Rules of Use" for its Talkback section--where I responded to my detractors--are these: They prohibited "posts that are defamatory, libelous, unnecessarily antagonistic... posts that are obscene, abusive, harassing, threatening, off-topic, unintelligible,
or inappropriate."

The problem is that the New Republic never enforced those rules. Anonymous commenters called me a liar, a fraud, and a pedophile. "Siegel wanted to fuck a child" went one post. These are all libelous things to say.

But the New Republic allowed anyone to post whatever they wanted, no matter how "defamatory, libelous or unnecessarily antagonistic." There was no screening, editing, or filtering of comments. And people were allowed to say whatever they wanted to say anonymously.

When I protested, I was told that I had to live with it. Exasperated, I decided to give my anonymous attackers a taste of their own medicine. I did not take on a pseudonym because I was taking advantage of the Web's convention of anonmymity [sic]. I took on a pseudonyn [sic] TO PROTEST THE WEB'S CONVENTION OF ANONYMITY. I had protested malicious anomymity [sic] several times on my blog and in other venues. It was, you see, a matter of principle, and of journalistic ethics. I could not believe that a serious and distinguished magazine was allowing these things to be published, and anonymously. In fact, no other magazine or respectable blog has ever allowed such comments to be made anonymously. Ann Althouse certainly doesn't.

And lo and behold, since my little scandal, articles have appeared denouncing malicious anonymity on the Internet, a convention that was taken for granted until I began to speak out against it.

I realize that I am making myself vulnerable to Ms. Althouse's derision -- after all, she "never liked" me. But maybe some readers will want now to see my side of the story.
Well, maybe you -- if you are Lee Siegel -- will cool down and perceive that I was taking your side! And maybe this whole incident will give you some insight into why I didn't like you as a critic: Your perceptions are off.

IN THE COMMENTS: Verso said:
What a Kafkaesque dilemma Siegel faces:

Condemned for sockpuppetry, he now is banned from posting under his real name.

The only way Lee Siegel could get a post past Althouse would be by post it anonymously or pseudonymously.

Irony is not dead.

"Russell, Russell, Russell, what has happened to you? Did they get to you, too"?

"This is not the fiery Russell Feingold that we all knew and loved."

1000+ Kos commenters respond
to Feingold's statement -- on Daily Kos -- that he doesn't support the impeachment movement.

I fully respect the anger and frustration many Americans feel with this Administration. I share much of it. But on balance, I think Congress’s time is much better spent ending the war in Iraq, conducting the oversight that was absent for the last six years, and advancing progressive legislation.
Feingold, updating after the comments pour in:
Many of you also wrote that if I recognize that the President and Vice President may have committed impeachable offenses, than it is our responsibility to impeach. As I pointed out, it is the role of the House to impeach, and it is the role of the Senate to try impeachments. But the Constitution left it up to the judgment of members of Congress whether or not moving forward with impeachment is best for the country.
He's surely right about that. That is the reason I opposed the impeachment of President Clinton.

Obama Girl versus Giuliani Girl.

(Via Eat the Press.)

"Young, hip, professional, busy, prosperous enough to spend $500 on wool for a sweater."

In search of the Alpha Mom.

The "Best Place to Live" in America.

It's almost Madison.

UPDATE: "[D]oes CNN hate black people? ... Does CNN just assume everyone will know they're talking 'bout crackers?"

Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan.

The movie is "I'm Not There" -- directed by the great Todd Haynes. Here's the viral video:

The portrayal is very "Don't Look Back"-style Bob. You know:

I love that Bob.

Hey! Love that Bob! Remember "Love that Bob":


That made me think of this.

"It's hard to find good adult reality characters. They all know what they're supposed to do. You need participants who didn't grow up on this stuff."

That is, you need children to exploit. But isn't it wrong to expose children to mockery? Isn't it evil to take advantage of their lack of understanding of reality show editing? And exactly how did CBS steer clear of violating child labor laws and compulsory schooling laws when it filmed "Kid Nation"? They left 40 kids in a ghost town and filmed all their waking hours. The kids had to take care of themselves and solve their own problems -- for our entertainment. And there were no teachers, even though it was not summer vacation time?
How’d they do it? By literally declaring the production a "summer camp" instead of a place of employment; by taking advantage of a loophole in New Mexico labor rules [exempting TV productions] two months before the state legislature tightened the law, and using a ghost town that wasn’t exactly a ghost town....

"We would wake up the kids at 7 a.m. and were shooting them until sometimes midnight," said a member of the production crew....

"We were essentially running a summer camp," Mr. Forman said. "They’re participants in a reality show. They’re not ‘working.’ They’re living and we’re taping what’s going on. That’s the basis behind every [legal] document for the show."...

"We were basically camp counselors that followed the kids instead of led," Mr. Forman said. "We were the safety net if things had ever really got out of hand."...

"The kids loved it," one crew member said. "Some have been depressed returning to normal life."
Next season? Factory camp! Come on kids! It's a big fun game! And you can live in this run-down tenement building! No parents! No teachers!

Sock puppetry.

It's embarrassing and humiliating when the sock comes off, but it could be worse:
[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission had begun a formal inquiry into whether [Whole Foods chief executive John] Mackey violated security laws with the posts.

Whole Foods maintains that Mr. Mackey did not break the law because he did not disclose any confidential company information.

But the consequences could be damaging to the company, if not to Mr. Mackey. Securities lawyers say the Federal Trade Commission might use the comments to scuttle Whole Foods’ proposed acquisition of a competitor, Wild Oats, a company Mr. Mackey derided in his posts. Wild Oats may also use the comments as the basis of a lawsuit against Whole Foods.
Let's consult sock puppetry expert Lee Siegel:
In November, New Republic magazine suspended its culture critic Lee Siegel after it determined that he had been energetically defending himself in the discussion forums of his New Republic blog, under the name “sprezzatura” (Italian for “making the difficult look easy”).

In an interview, Mr. Siegel said that it is only human to engage with critics, particularly in a medium like the Web that encourages self-expression. He still defends his actions, saying that he was having fun, playfully praising himself while combating some critics whom he saw as fierce and puerile. He thinks that much of the inflection of his online writing got lost on the computer screen.
Yeah, who knew the free-wheeling world of the web was going to get all straight-laced about fooling around like this?
“As for Mackey boosting his company and putting down his rivals, entrepreneurs will be entrepreneurs, and technology is an amplification of human nature, not a cure for it,” Mr. Siegel said.

It may also be human nature to vent online, especially for people who, like chief executives, face formidable legal and public relations pressures to stay on script. That pressure, repressing people who may be otherwise inclined to speak and fight candidly, may be what forces executives like Mr. Mackey to invent fake identities.
You know, I'm sympathetic to both Siegel and Mackey. Why can't we play on line? Mackey should have to follow the legal rules about disclosing insider information and so forth, and Siegel should respect the policies his employer lays down, but why are we being so repressive about the use of pseudonyms? Using a pseudonym on line is like walking around in public incognito. People don't always have to know who you are. If the new rule is going to be that you must always be identifiable, what a horrible loss of freedom!

UPDATE: Someone purporting to be Lee Siegel participates in the comments, leading to deletion and controversy, which is all explained here.

"Stem selves."

Amba coins a phrase and opines about "the one true thing Karl Marx ever said" ("The conditions of existence determine consciousness"):
[W]hen I think about marriage I think of stem cells. No, not because of anything to do with reproduction, but because stem cells, like unattached selves -- "stem selves?" -- are "pluripotent," they have the potential to become many different things. Once a stem cell is assigned a role in the developing embryo, the rest of its potential is suppressed, and it becomes one kind of tissue in a larger organism....

[M]y marriage was not a "normal" one (if there is such a thing; actually, I doubt it). It demanded much more self-sacrifice, which I long resisted (becoming stronger but barer in the process, like a tree that's all trunk and no branches), but it also forced me down to qualities I might otherwise never have found in myself. Unmarried or divorced I would have achieved more, and chased burnin' love more, and made a more manic-depressive, creative life...
If this is a good analogy, divorce is disastrous. You develop into the marriage, then you lose it, and you're crippled by having a self that grew to work inside a marriage.

In fact, you are always a human being and can always grow and evolve in a new situation (and you can grow out of shape for your present condition).

The single you after marriage is different from the single you that would have been if you had never married, but I think perhaps the post-married single person has even more potential then a never-married single, because you have real knowledge of the condition that, before, you could only imagine. The question whether you want to do something again is more complex than the question whether you want to try something once. "Anything once" is a phrase that doesn't need coining.

And I don't agree that the single person chases and burns and goes up and down more than the married person. The solo life can be more serene, stable, and coherent. But married or single, human beings are going to concoct an explanation of why where they are is the sensible place to be, unless they are really concocting the explanation for going somewhere else.

Makeweight argument: Agree with me and Karl Marx is wrong about the one thing Amba thinks he got right.

"The purpose of modern education is to make you a more wealthy person."

"But when I read English at Bristol, the idea was that you ended up a richer person."

July 15, 2007



ADDED: I seems to be susceptible to technical glitches. Blogger's been changed so that hitting some button -- what is it? -- has become a publish command, and I keep publishing posts I'm not done with. And my wireless service is purely intermittent these days. I suspect Charter Communications lacks the infrastructure to support the users in my neighborhood. I can get service in the early morning, because I'm up before most people. Then, predictably, it cuts out, maybe to return at some stray point in the day before cutting out again. Very irritating. I have to go to a café whenever I want to go on line.

But what is this post about? "Untitled." It's about nothing, apparently. It exists to be a post where a post is needed. A placeholder post. Some nice heather. I hope it makes you feel good. Now there's a whole new comments section, so I guess I should say: Talk about whatever you want.

"It's not the romantic remembrance people have of drinking during their college days."

"It's a much more graphic, gritty, vulgar thing than they realize."

Answering your questions in vlog and podcast form.

So you saw the post last night where I invited you to ask some questions which I'd answer in vlog form. I thought I'd just dash that off to get the blogging started this morning, but now it's almost 11, and I'm putting up a 10 minute bit of what I recorded in vlog form. I'm making the whole audio into a podcast, which I'll link to in a few minutes. And I'll edit another part into a vlog. So watch for updates. and watch part 1.

Part 1: "A Little Spiritual and Physical Nourishment." I talk about: 1. The quote "Don't think so hard. Life is not that simple." 2. My religious background -- which includes a story of drinking Cointreau with a priest. 3. Why I teach a law school course on Religion and the Constitution. 4. How eating cake instead of cookies keeps you from lying. 5. Edible flowers.

Part 2: "Human Beings, Cats, and Judges." Includes material about human beings, cats, and judges.

Part 3: "Audible Althouse #86." This is the podcast, the audio version, unedited. Streamable here. On the theory that I'll keep this podcasting thing up, you can subscribe on iTunes:
Ann Althouse - Audible Althouse

ADDED: Here's the link to that "Imaginary Philosophy" story I talk about in the podcast.