August 4, 2007

Music and architecture.

Architecture: The Humanities Building, UW-Madison (justly slated for destruction).
Music: Gamelan!

"Democratic presidential candidates have started treating the blogosphere like any other special interest."

"They’ve reached the conclusion that the liberal bloggers are more a community than an ideological movement, more like, say, the Armenian-American community than NARAL," says Politico.
And so candidates have reacted the way politicians always have to co-opt troublesome communities: They have put leading bloggers on payroll, showed up at blogger events and come out strong for narrow causes of interest solely to members of that community. Gone, at least for now, are the days when the Netroots seem poised to push the party to accept a unified view of the nation’s future.

“They’re so painfully craving any type of mainstream acceptance that they’re prone to the crassest kind of flattery and pandering, which weakens them,” said a senior aide to a Democratic campaign of the bloggers. Recalling a lavish party then-candidate Mark Warner threw at the 2006 YearlyKos convention in Last Vegas, the aide noted: “Mark Warner bought them off with a fountain and some chocolate strawberries.”
I think bloggers are tougher than this. We'd better be! Take the access, but don't be duped into liking anyone because of it. Demand respect. You deserve it. Don't feel flattered when you get it.

In Madison...

The Zen Sushi cart is parked in front of St. Paul's:

Zen Sushi

And the sign the University put up to celebrate our progressive tradition -- (enlarge) -- is just not left-wing enough for the local graffiti scrawlers:

The Wisconsin Idea


I am trying to blog from mmy iPhone for the first time. i'm not that good at the typing...A tnd

UPDATE: As you can see, I had a little trouble posting from the iPhone. Part of it was the bad WiFi situation I was in. But when I got to better WiFi, I couldn't get the keyboard to appear when I touched on the "compose window." The keyboard would appear when I touched the "title" space but it woudl disappear as soon as I touched the compose part of the screen. At one point, it let me type a couple letters, which is why the text above is different from what was there originally. At another point, it just deleted all the characters, so I didn't publish. Irritating! And I really did want to tell you about the gamelan concert!

ADDED: I'm typing this on the iPhone and following some advice from a commenter. The secret is to select the html tab for the window, not the "compose" tab. And I'm even switching to thumbs for typing. Isn't it funny that "all thumbs" is now an indication of dexterity?

Forget reading glasses. Get distance glasses.

The NYT has an article today -- it shot to the top of the "most emailed" list -- about the indignity of the far-sightedness that comes with aging... and how especially distressing it is for us Baby Boomers. The article is in the Business section, because there are some big commercial opportunities, especially in reading glasses sales:
Corinne McCormack, 53, started her own eyewear and accessory company in Manhattan in 1993 when she noticed that people were walking around with Rolex watches, Jimmy Choo shoes and $10 drugstore glasses. Hers average $50 a pair, and business, she said, is great.

Craig Roessler, 60, a school superintendent in Silverton, Ore., said he prefers not to have to worry about losing his reading glasses and has devised a loose strategy. In addition to one pair of prescription reading glasses that he carries to work, he keeps eight or so pairs of inexpensive glasses scattered throughout his daily surroundings: two in his car, one in his golf bag, one in his desk drawer at the office and several around the house. He has also noticed that at the clubhouse of his golf club, a pair of reading glasses is tied to the computer terminal.

At Romano’s Macaroni Grill, a nationwide chain of Italian restaurants, reading glasses are provided upon request, as are large-print menus.

The glasses are often kept at the hostess station, and they often disappear.

“We used to have two to five pairs to give out, but they’re all gone,” said Kelsey Betzelberger, the hostess at a Macaroni Grill in Hillsboro, Ore. “People just forget to return them. We got replacements, but those are gone, too.”
I have about 20 pairs of reading glasses -- upstairs and downstairs at home, in my car, in my office. But, you know, if you use this strategy, you will also be losing them and breaking them a lot. And also buying new ones for very little reason. This new pair may look sort of cool or cute, but the fact remains: Reading glasses make you look old. It's the way you wear them, pulling them down low on your nose -- because that really does adjust the focus -- and peering over the top. You can take them off every time you need to look out at the less-than-close world, but that looks bad too.

I've been doing these things for a few years, but recently I figured out a different strategy, one that I think few people have discovered. I was already near-sighted and plagued with astigmatism. I got my first glasses when I was in fourth grade. I hated glasses and got contact lenses as soon as my parents would let me -- when I was 13. In recent years, I was wearing the contacts all day, but still wearing reading glasses. That meant I was wearing glasses and contact lenses most of the day, since I read and write so much of the time. It also meant that in my most conspicuous activities -- teaching or giving some sort of public presentation -- I had to have the glasses and keep taking them on and off.

The solution was to get contacts that give me perfect vision at the reading distance and prescription glasses that correct that vision for distance. With "transition" lenses and appropriate frames, the glasses look like sunglasses when I'm outdoors. I can also wear one of my new lenses and one of my old lenses and go without glasses altogether, which is a bit odd, but not as bad as it sounds. I'd heard of that solution before, but discovered the reading contacts/distance glasses solution for myself. You might want to try it. For me, the reading level prescription is perfectly fine for face-to-face conversations, walking around a store, and various common activities, so the "distance glasses" are much less of a distraction than the reading glasses. They are mainly sunglasses, and putting on sunglasses feels completely different from putting on reading glasses. Instead of old and limited, you feel young and free.

"It looks like the Turtle!"

A scary art project.
... Duke Riley, a heavily tattooed Brooklyn artist whose waterborne performance projects around New York have frequently landed him in trouble with the authorities, spent the last five months building the vessel as a rough replica of what is believed to have been America’s first submarine, an oak sphere called the Turtle, said to have seen action in New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Riley’s plan was also military, in a sense — though mostly metaphorical, given that he is an artist. He wanted to float north in the Buttermilk Channel to stage an incursion against the Queen Mary 2, which had just docked in Red Hook, the mission objective mostly just to get close enough to the ship to videotape himself against its immensity for a coming gallery show.

But when his sub was stopped by a New York City police boat around 10 a.m., the outcome was not metaphorical at all: Mr. Riley, 35, and two friends who had helped tow him were taken into custody by a phalanx of law enforcement officials, and their excursion briefly raised fears that a terrorist attack might have been under way.
Riley got some great publicity, and people don't seem too mad at him. This shows that if you're going to do performance art that summons up fears about terrorism, it's good to have a military history theme to appease the kind of people who don't cotton to performance art.

For contrast, remember the artist -- Clinton Boisvert -- who placed boxes labeled "Fear" around the NYC subway, not too long after 9/11?

"We're at war. The enemy wants to attack us. This is not the time to strive for legislative perfection."

That's a quote from Joe Lieberman, from the debate in the Senate over amending the foreign surveillance laws.
The administration and congressional Democrats agree on the need to update the FISA statute to reflect the realities of 21st-century telecommunications, including the ever-expanding digital world of e-mail, podcasts and text messages.

White House and intelligence officials have sought a broad overhaul of the act to allow spy agencies to listen in on terrorism suspects quickly, without having to apply for a court order, as is required for surveillance that targets U.S. residents. But Democratic leaders say the administration's proposals could lead to broad searches of phone calls and e-mails by ordinary Americans without judicial review....

White House officials complained that Democratic proposals do not give them a crucial tool: the ability to begin wiretapping without having to go to a court. "Every day we don't have [this wiretap authority], we don't know what's going on outside the country," a senior White House official said. "All you need is one communication from, say, Pakistan to Afghanistan that's routed through Seattle that tells you 'I'm about to do a truck bomb in New York City' or 'about to do a truck bomb in Iraq,' and it's too late."
The vote was 60-28, so it's clear that Democrats, much as they'd like to put their mark on the legislation, cannot bear to look as though they accept a greater risk of terrorist attacks.

Marty Lederman gives some detail on the failed Democratic proposal, which "the communications privacy community" considered "too conciliatory... going well beyond authorization to exclude purely foreign-to-foreign communications from FISA, i.e., far beyond what is necessary to address the problem that the Administration has described."

Joe Gandelman writes:
... Bush held out for the strongest deal he could get, went on TV and seemingly scared some Democrats to go along with him (some other Democrats clearly agreed the law update was needed) since his TV talk centered on how critical it was to give government these new updated tools to protect the U.S. And it worked — indicating a) he still has a lot of clout since he can peel off wavering or sympathetic Democrats so they join in coalition with GOPers and b) if it worked this time chances are this tactic will be used on other high-stakes measures....
The Talking Dog barks:
Harry Reid voted against it in every way except the one way that mattered: he had the power to keep this piece of shit off of the Senate floor altogether, and to tell the President that when the President started respecting the Constitution and the rights of the American people, then he could start suggesting legislation of this kind... and not dictating to another branch of government what it should pass or when it should recess. And instead, on this, we get "an up or down vote". Jebus.

... [W]e can presume that the D.C. cocktail party circuit is all abuzz about fear of terrrrrrrrrorists attacking Washington any God damned moment... and, unbelievably, Democrats believe that they would be blamed for it. And again, methinks, why was it I worked so hard to get this party in the majority again, so we could get exactly the same results as if they weren't?
The Dog is reading Digby, who writes:
I have the niggling feeling that there has been some pretty heavy cocktail and bar-b-que chatter in the capital this summer with the elders warning everyone that something is afoot, but they can't talk about the details. Suddenly the villagers are all acting like nervous cats on a hot tin roof and dancing around like it's the hot summer of 2002 again for no discernable rason [sic].

If that's so and little birdies are whispering in ears, the congress should stay in town and hash this thing out for real instead of signing off on something they haven't read. And if that's so, the president also needs to stay in town instead of rushing off to clear that poor brush again on his "ranchette" set in Waco and negotiate in good faith to protect the American people. The fact that nobody is doing this suggests to me that if there is some fear mongering going on, everyone involved knows it's typical Bushian nonsense but they are afraid to take a chance just in case he gets lucky and hits another trifecta.

No. More. Executive. Power. Period. It's their job to figure out how to track terrorists without trampling on the constitution. If that means staying in town for the month August in that sweltering heat, well, that's what they're paid for.
So much for that "one of the people being listened to needs to be a terrorist" line that Bush kept selling us. Apparently, he never intended that to be the case, and now it isn't. And the more congress permits itself to be rolled, the more Bush knows he can roll them. The man is at 28% in the polls and the Democrats are scared to death of him. Pathetic.

Yes, and how has Congress been doing in the polls?

August 3, 2007

Idle iPhone photo.


"Squirrel in Finland Has Taste for Chocolate."


"A Saskatchewan bible camp has a new policy on animal treatment after a squirrel was killed and roasted over the fire by one of its counsellors."


Vlog under construction.

Now that I've taken 2 days off from vlogging, I'm ready to talk again. But what about?

ADDED: It's almost ready. Just uploading. But let me use this time to write about some questions you asked that didn't make the final edit after I, as usual, went over the YouTube 10 minute limit. One thing I cut is my saying I probably really should pay for the "professional" level YouTube account where I'm not stuck with the 10 minute limit. What else? 1. I use LancĂ´me makeup because I like their moisturizers and from there it's mostly brand loyalty. 2. On preparing for the LSAT: I agree with this advice (written by my son). 3. I think one could learn to be a lawyer on line, and to say that isn't to say the classroom teaching I do is worthless. There can be more than one effective method. But, naturally, I think the live classroom is best. 4. I think "Big Love" is intended to heighten sensitivity toward different choices in family structure, but it's not really about softening people up about same-sex marriage, because polygamous marriage presents all sorts of problems regarding taxes, inheritance, eligibility for benefits, child custody, etc., and gay marriage is a far easier question. Also, the polygamous family in "Big Love" has great difficulties with respect to the subordination of women, and we constantly question whether it's a good idea. I don't think there is a similar problem with gay relationships. 5. Harrison is a very cool 9 month old. 6. I'd love to be on "The View." 7. Ooh, the vlog is ready:

"You're talking a time when the big blogs attracted 200 visitors a day. Dissent against the president was considered treason."

Markos Moulitsas remembers the year 2002.... rather strangely!

TNR versus Weekly Standard.

TNR checks up on its Baghdad Diarist, Scott Thomas Beauchamp:
In the first [of three anecdotes], Beauchamp recounted how he and a fellow soldier mocked a disfigured woman seated near them in a dining hall. Three soldiers with whom TNR has spoken have said they repeatedly saw the same facially disfigured woman. One was the soldier specifically mentioned in the Diarist. He told us: "We were really poking fun at her; it was just me and Scott, the day that I made that comment. We were pretty loud. She was sitting at the table behind me. We were at the end of the table. I believe that there were a few people a few feet to the right."

The recollections of these three soldiers differ from Beauchamp's on one significant detail (the only fact in the piece that we have determined to be inaccurate): They say the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit's arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake.
Weekly Standard responds:
Acknowledged his error? How about confessed that he made something up? How about, misled his editors when they pressed him for corroborating details on July 17, after the piece was published? And how do we reconcile this with Foer's own statements over the past two weeks, including one to ABC News claiming corroboration of the account:
"We showed the stories to people who'd been embedded in Iraq to make sure that it all smelled good. We talked to one of the members of his unit to confirm the woman, a female contractor. We talked to a medic who'd served in Iraq to make sure that a woman could be in an FOB. We spent a lot of time with him on the phone asking hard questions."
The New Republic is correct about one thing: the detail is significant. If the incident happened in Kuwait, it eliminates their editorial rationale for publishing the piece. It means Private Beauchamp had suffered "the morally and emotionally distorting effects of war" before ever going to war.
The TNR piece ends this way:
Although we place great weight on the corroborations we have received, we wished to know more. But, late last week, the Army began its own investigation, short-circuiting our efforts. Beauchamp had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family. His fellow soldiers no longer feel comfortable communicating with reporters. If further substantive information comes to light, TNR will, of course, share it with you.
So now the blame is on the government and TNR is off the hook? We did all the fact checking we could...

New Hampshire waitress versus Mitt Romney.

This is a useful video clip, because it shows Mitt Romney explaining his approach to health care and dealing with a high pressure confrontation from a voter. Really, there is nothing he can say that will fully satisfy the woman, but he uses the occasion to display himself as a rational problem-solver. He does not, however, try to connect with the woman on an emotional level, and after the exchange she is close to tears. "That's money off my table," she complains. His hour-long presence in the restaurant has cost her tips.

I think Romney ought to have walked up to the woman and asked her a few questions about the three sick children she mentioned and expressed some sympathy about how hard it is for her. He could have hugged her or taken her hand. Instead, he tried to win the debate on the substantive merits, something he's pretty good at. Yet he missed the chance to do something he could easily have done. And, once again, he looks a little cold and robotic. It's so unnecessary!

Picture how Bill Clinton -- or even George Bush -- would have handled this situation. That woman was emotionally fragile, not a heckler. Someone needs to teach Romney a few tricks.

O'Reilly versus Chris Dodd.

It's an interesting fight -- about whether DailyKos is so vile that the Democratic candidates should not appear at the YearlyKos convention. Both men do their thing -- reasonably adequately.

O'Reilly tries to create an exciting segment by gasping over a sexual depiction of Lieberman's devotion to Bush and emoting about the extreme leftiness of Daily Kos, and Dodd provides a stolid demonstration of the conventional strategy of standing his ground and not getting riled no matter what. Dodd's point is mindcrushingly obvious: DailyKos represents a large number of politically engaged citizens who are likely to vote in the Democratic primaries. O'Reilly's stance is equally obvious: Make the Democrats look bad -- for any connection to something that might shock viewers.

I first saw this clip on Crooks and Liars, but it ends with O'Reilly saying Dennis Miller is going to talk about it. That sent me looking for a longer clip, which is what I've linked here (on Hot Air). [ADDED: But the Crooks and Liars clip -- now linked -- is longer and has more of O'Reilly's overheated goading.]

Miller gets so overheated he makes O'Reilly seem mild mannered. Why is he so angry at Dodd? He's going "This guy had nothing" over and over, but then, why get so upset? It's that Dodd -- despite the fact that he's boring and way behind in the race -- was able to take advantage O'Reilly's high profile to gain some stature with the YearlyKos conventioneers.

Miller's attitude is that O'Reilly is so great and YearlyKos is so insignificant. He says: "That convention is a loser-fest. I mean, there are hookers who have put an embargo on that convention."

No one seems to notice that Miller is indulging in sexual humor... which is exactly what Kos did with that depiction of Bush and Lieberman that O'Reilly wanted Dodd to condemn.

ADDED: And here's a WaPo article on YearlyKos:
Last year in Las Vegas, the conference attracted 1,200 participants, including current Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark. This year at the McCormick Place Convention Center near downtown Chicago, more than 1,500 participants are expected, including the entire Democratic congressional leadership and all the Democratic presidential candidates.
I'm surprised there is such a small increase in participants since last year. You'd think the proximity of the election and the glitziness of the guests would have much more effect. [MORE: I'm told in email that a cap was imposed on the number of participants.]

When you read that a man died after 33 days of suffering from the burns he sustained committing an attack...

Do you laugh? Does contemplating whether you rejoice in this man's suffering shed light on the question whether it is evil to believe in Hell?

August 2, 2007

"Russia Plants Underwater Flag at North Pole."

The real question has more to do with the extent of the continental shelf, but they went underwater 2 miles to plant a flag in some sort of daffy self-expression. Someone could go down there thousands of years from now and find the flag, because it's made of titanium.

Just got an iPhone.

It seems pretty cool.

"The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Said Obama. "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains... If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

This flung open a door to criticism:
"It is dangerous and irresponsible to leave even the impression the United States would needlessly and publicly provoke a nuclear power," Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) said in a statement.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in a telephone interview, said that Obama's threat, if acted upon, could inflame the entire Muslim world. "My international experience tells me that we should address this issue with tough diplomacy first with Musharraf and then leave the military option as a last resort," he said.

Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) said in a statement that he would first apply "maximum diplomatic and economic pressure on states like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia" to do their utmost to combat the spread of terrorism. He also challenged both Obama and Clinton to block a proposed U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called Obama's threat misguided. "The way to deal with it is not to announce it, but to do it," Biden said at the National Press Club. "The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty."
Nothing from Hillary yet.

So has Obama convinced you he's a tough guy -- a smarter tough guy?

I have cleavage! I have cleavage! I have cleavage!

Pelosi's new cleavage reveal seems like a cool idea for defending Hillary Clinton, who recently received a lot of attention for showing cleavage while giving a speech in the Senate.

The solution is easy. It goes like this:

Come on, ladies! We can do it! We can defend Hillary from cruel prying eyes and incisive analysis of the Washington Post fashion columnist!

I fight with a newspaper editor...

... deep in the comments on this post of mine from last week.



August 1, 2007

Remember when Althouse always had flower photos...


... and vlogs?

Minneapolis bridge collapse.

Press report.
I'm watching the coverage on Fox News. Two things I noticed about it:

1. At one point, about 10 minutes ago, the on-air journalists were expressing too much excitement, to the point where we were commenting: "They're really getting off on this." Shortly after that, they toned it down. I assume someone told them to make it more solemn and respectful.

2. For about the first 20 minutes that I was watching, there was not a word about the cause of the collapse. I was surprised they weren't even saying that they didn't know the cause, and there was no speculation about whether it could have been terrorism or even any statement to the effect that there is no evidence that there was terrorism. Eventually, they said that they had heard from the Department of Homeland Security that there was no sign that this was terrorism. This made me think that there must be a news policy not to talk about terrorism except as fed information from the Department of Homeland Security.


... droog.

What will George Bush do once he's out of office?

I realize I'm not picturing him doing anything in particular. Is that a criticism, or is that how we always feel about Presidents?

"No matter what his doctors eventually tell John G. Roberts Jr., or the world... it is clear that something changed irrevocably..."

Linda Greenhouse writes:
In October, when he returns to his seat at the center of the Supreme Court bench, will colleagues and courtroom spectators see the same golden youth whose trajectory was unmarked by setback or sorrow? Or will they see someone suddenly vulnerable, with a medical condition that, while treatable and shared by millions, can still inspire fear?

Or to dig deeper, might this encounter with illness even change the way John Roberts sees himself, his job or the world?...

Could adversity temper a jurisprudence that critics of the chief justice have discerned as bloodless and unduly distant from the messy reality of the lives of ordinary people who fail to file their appeals on time?
This is like a script for a movie starring Tom Hanks or Steve Martin. A cold, bloodless man wields power over millions. One day, seemingly for no reason, he falls down and hits his head. At first, he seems all right, unchanged. Then, in October, he returns to his work as Chief Justice of the United States, and something is different. John Roberts... has a heart! Once he thought only about money and elite power, and now, suddenly, he feels the pain of the homeless, the prisoner, the poor, abused little child...

IN THE COMMENTS: Paul a'barge brings up "Regarding Henry." Bill writes:
... Harrison Ford, in Regarding Henry: successful, jerk lawyer, is shot in the head and becomes a better person.
John Stodder writes:
To you pitiful humans, it looked like a "seizure." But during those few moments, Space Agent Roberts entered a wormhole to make a 1,000-year roundtrip to his home planet to receive further instruction from the Interplanetary Council of Space Fiends. His last visit, 14 Earth-years ago, programmed him for his rise to power. His masters were well pleased with his progress, but it was only the beginning of their diabolical plan. Roberts has been sent back with a new set of instructions to prepare Earth for its ultimate fate. The changes in him are undetectable by mere mortals. Even his wife and children see the same "man" they knew before.

But there is one threat to his masters' scheme. One who through years of diligent study has developed the vision to see the truth. Today, she is a reporter for the New York Times, but soon, she will be Earth's only hope...

E! Online rumormongers about Laura Bush.

Ted Casablanca, "Gossip Guru and Writer of the Awful Truth," writes:
And as long as we’re on gals we all live for, let’s check in on that adorable Laura Bush, shall we? Now, I just gotta say I have a soft spot for the First Gal because she:

1. Has had to put up with Chief Schmuck for, like, eons now, and

2. Had the good sense—so my White House sources tell me (and, yes, I do have moles at 1600 Pennsylvania)—to remove herself from Bush’s company, as of late. Background: As I’ve said for months now, L.B. has been spending more and more time away from the White House, due to Bush’s resurrected drinking habits. The Hay-Adams is just one place Ms. B likes to hang away from official home.

But now, I'm hearing from down Tejas way that Laura-love is also avoiding their beloved Crawford ranch, as long as Dubya’s there.

“[The president] has been in residence three times over the past several months, and surprise, surprise, Mrs. Prez has not been with him on any of the visits,” sniffs Desk Horsey. This is most unusual, too, as, according to Desk H, Ms. Bush “adores the quiet life at the compound and usually the kiddos make an appearance as well.” But apparently not with the guy who’s anything but soft-spoken these days. L.B., you just biding your time till that party of yours gets another Republican in the Oval Office?

Girlfriend, I say cut your damn losses now. It’s your life. You don’t get another one, unless you’re Shirley MacLaine, or, apparently, Lindsay Lohan.
Eh. I have nothing to say about that. Just wanted you to know that's being said.

ADDED: Just yesterday, a NYT guest columnist referred to "Laura Bush’s increasingly beleaguered late-term demeanor." What does that even refer to?

"Clinton is from the traumatized generation; Obama isn't."

Andrew Sullivan has this elaborate generational analysis:
One difference between Obama and Clinton does not seem to me to have been stressed enough. They are of different Democratic generations. Clinton is from the traumatized generation; Obama isn't.
Realizing that I am from Clinton's generation, and Sullivan is from Obama's, I am instantly skeptical. Traumatized? He sees the older "generation" as suffering from a mental disorder?

I put "generation" in quotes because I think a 20-year span is needed for a generation. Calling a 10-year span a "generation" exaggerates for dramatic effect, but it does express something of the emotional distance felt (or sought). I've always felt distant from the era inhabited by my sister, who, like Hillary, is four years older than I am. Why not call that a "generation"? Then I could extricate myself from that post-traumatic stress disorder that plagues Clinton.

Back to Sullivan:
Clinton has internalized to her bones the 1990s sense that conservatism is ascendant, that what she really believes is unpopular, that the Republicans have structural, latent power of having a majority of Americans on their side. Hence the fact that she reeks of fear, of calculation, of focus groups, of triangulation.
Do we know what she "really believes"? And does she really believe something? Even if we assume she has liberal instincts, why can't she also believe that it is good to work through a process of accommodating those first thoughts to the world she encounters? I give a politician credit for pragmatism -- when it is done well. Why is "belief" so wonderful? Ideologues make terrible mistakes. Sullivan doesn't appreciate George Bush's commitment to his beliefs, so why is ideological purity suddenly so valuable?
She might once have had ideals keenly felt; she might once have actually relished fighting for them and arguing in thier [sic] defense. But she has not been like that for a very long time. She has political post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ah! The diagnosis. I feel averse to her, so I detect illness in her.
Obama is different. He wasn't mugged by the 1980s and 1990s as Clinton was.
Obama was 17 in 1980. Nothing has a greater impact on you than the way things are when you are 17. (I was 17 in 1968.) You could say that Vietnam and Nixon didn't affect him, but he was a young man in the 1980s and 1990s. That era must have affected him deeply. Did it not affect his age-mate Sullivan?
[Obama] doesn't carry within him the liberal self-hatred and self-doubt that Clinton does. The traumatized Democrats fear the majority of Americans are bigoted, know-nothing, racist rubes from whom they need to conceal their true feelings and views. The non-traumatized Democrats are able to say what they think, make their case to potential supporters and act, well, like Republicans acted in the 1980s and 1990s.
There may well be those two types of Democrats, but you haven't convinced me that they slot into two generations or that one type is healthy and the other diseased -- a theory that deserves to be called ageist. Nor am I convinced that it is unrealistic fear that motivates some liberals politicians to tone down their views in order to make themselves more appealing to voters.

By the same token, I don't believe that Obama's positions are pure expressions of true belief. He has to have thought through how to make himself appealing to voters. If he seems to be more idealistic, it may be that he's figured out that this stance works for him. Obviously, it does.

Since it's a good, pragmatic choice, there's no way to conclude he seems idealistic and proud of his liberalism because he's unafraid and untainted by the diseased thoughts of those a few years older than he is. How do you know he's not fearful of seeming less purely optimistic? One could just as well say that he's learned his lessons from the 80s and 90s. Reagan taught him the great value of getting people to think that you embody optimism. Maybe he avoids seeming to calculate and triangulate in order to distance himself from Bill Clinton (and Hillary).
The choice between Clinton and Obama is the choice between a defensive crouch and a confident engagement. It is the choice between someone who lost their beliefs in a welter of fear; and someone who has faith that his worldview can persuade a majority.

In my view, the call is not a close one.
Sullivan effuses. He loves Obama and feels aversion to Clinton. So do many others. This isn't an argument that Obama would make a better President than Clinton, but it's not a mere outburst of emotion either. He's saying that Obama will make a better candidate than Clinton, because he will -- by his faith -- inspire belief. That sounds rather dangerous, evocative of the worst things that can happen in politics. We need analysis and reason too, and I think Obama can only go so far exciting people with "the audacity of hope." The debate the other night showed how he can fall short, going for the hopeful, inspiring idea when Clinton comes forward with the more seasoned, mature, realistic analysis.

And which approach, in fact, betrays more fear that Americans are "know-nothing" "rubes"? I think the simplistic talk of hope, playing on the emotions of the listener, shows less respect for the intelligence and sophistication of the voters than a more complex, realistic presentation of the issues.

But in 2004, the Democrats lost with their dull, nuanced character, and the Republicans won with simplistic, emotional hope. Sullivan ought to consider whether -- if Hillary was "mugged by the 1980s and 1990s," Obama was mugged by the 00s.

July 31, 2007

Vlog under construction.

Toss me some weird questions. Quick!

ADDED: The vlog. Ack! I have to redo it. It uploaded out of synch.


Just how many lawprof bloggers are there?


Gonzales "employed his signature brand of inartful dodging -- linguistic evasion, poorly executed."

"But I don't think he actually lied," says WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus.
"The disagreement that occurred and the reason for the visit to the hospital . . . was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the Terrorist Surveillance Program that the president announced to the American people."

The emphasis is mine, and it matters. We know, from Comey's account, that the dispute was intense. We don't know precisely what the disagreement was about -- and it makes sense that we don't know: This was a classified program, and all the officials, current and former, who have testified about it have been deliberately and appropriately vague....

[T]he calls by some Democrats for a special prosecutor to consider whether Gonzales committed perjury have more than a hint of maneuvering for political advantage. What else is to be gained by engaging in endless Clintonian debates about what the meaning of "program" is?
Orin Kerr agrees with Marcus. And both dislike Gonzales and think he should resign.

The surge is working. But "The problem here is time."

"How much time does the U.S. military have now, according to the American political timetable, to accomplish this?"

Well, then, what's the effect of a political argument made while showing cleavage?

Here's a useful article on the way the mind is affected on a subliminal level by things that have nothing to do with what you think you're thinking about:
New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it.

Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even subliminal seduction; rather, it’s a demonstration of how everyday sights, smells and sounds can selectively activate goals or motives that people already have.

More fundamentally, the new studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known. Goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses.
Read the whole thing. And wake up to the manipulation that's all around you.

Experts discover 237 reasons to have sex.

John Tierney writes about a University of Texas study:
After asking nearly 2,000 people why they’d had sex, [Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss,] have assembled and categorized a total of 237 reasons... [which they sort into] four general categories:

¶Physical: “The person had beautiful eyes” or “a desirable body,” or “was good kisser” or “too physically attractive to resist.” Or “I wanted to achieve an orgasm.”

¶Goal Attainment: “I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner” or “break up a rival’s relationship” or “make money” or “be popular.” Or “because of a bet.”

¶Emotional: “I wanted to communicate at a deeper level” or “lift my partner’s spirits” or “say ‘Thank you.’ ” Or just because “the person was intelligent.”

¶Insecurity: “I felt like it was my duty” or “I wanted to boost my self-esteem” or “It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.”
I'd like to re-sort the list into good reasons and bad reasons! Is "duty" obviously a bad reason? Well, trying to do this re-sort would involve endless argument. The very process of analyzing the reasons is interesting. But if you're too analytical about the reasons... you might never get around to having sex. I mean... how about a list of reasons not to have sex? I'll bet there are 237 of them too.

The article contains a lot of material about the extent to which the male and female answers were the same:
[B]oth men and women ranked the same reason most often: “I was attracted to the person.”

The rest of the top 10 for each gender were also almost all the same, including “I wanted to express my love for the person,” “I was sexually aroused and wanted the release” and “It’s fun.”

No matter what the reason, men were more likely to cite it than women, with a couple of notable exceptions. Women were more likely to say they had sex because, “I wanted to express my love for the person” and “I realized I was in love.” This jibes with conventional wisdom about women emphasizing the emotional aspects of sex, although it might also reflect the female respondents’ reluctance to admit to less lofty motives.

The results contradicted another stereotype about women: their supposed tendency to use sex to gain status or resources.

“Our findings suggest that men do these things more than women,” Dr. Buss said, alluding to the respondents who said they’d had sex to get things, like a promotion, a raise or a favor. Men were much more likely than women to say they’d had sex to “boost my social status” or because the partner was famous or “usually ‘out of my league.’ ”
I don't know how much I want to rely on Buss -- "buss" means "kiss," by the way -- because he doesn't seem sensitive enough to the problem of self-reporting. I see a huge, looming stereotype here: Women want to seem loving and unselfish, and men are comfortable looking ambitious and a bit egotistical. But maybe women are more loving and unselfish, and men are more ambitious and egotistical. If so, it may help us have more sex -- which would be a reason that these tendencies evolved.

ADDED: Here's one for that list of reasons not to have sex: Your body is composed of dead animals.

What the divorce court transcripts tell us about the state legislator who's trying to cut funding for UW Law School.

Rep. Frank Lasee has argued that we have too many lawyers, but why is he so antagonistic toward lawyers? The Wisconsin State Journal thinks it's found a clue in the court transcripts for his 2003 divorce:
Lasee first acted as his own lawyer, then hired a lawyer whom he fired in court the day the judge was about to render her decision.

The judge noted court officials witnessed Lasee punching his lawyer while in court.

"I didn't punch him, " Lasee said last week. "I poked him in the arm to get his attention. "

Lasee twice asked for a new judge in the case, including on the day the second judge began issuing her decision.

Brown County Circuit Judge Sue Bischel sounded exasperated when she addressed Lasee on June 27, 2003:

"Mr. Lasee, if you laugh at me one more time, I am really going to get ornery. I have tried very hard to treat you with respect. I see you smirking. I see you grinning. I can hear it. I am so disappointed. ... I have found over the years that it is getting increasingly difficult to get people to respect the court system and the judicial system.

"And I think you have probably learned in the Legislature some similar things. Politicians are getting a bad rap and a bad name these days. And frankly, I think it is often undeserved. But behavior like that disappoints me more than I can tell you. I don 't like it. I am disappointed. I am sad. I am sometimes angry when I get it from people who are uneducated, who have been treated badly by the system. And I am, I am on the verge of tears about it when it comes from someone in your position. ' '

Lasee acknowledged he had been smirking and said it was because the judge supported his wife 's attorney when that attorney made an unsuccessful run for judge. He said the judge was prejudiced. Bischel countered that Lasee didn 't raise the issue until she had begun explaining her decision.

Later in the hearing, Lasee fired his attorney, then asked to make "a brief statement. " Bischel allowed this, although she said it challenged her authority to control the timing of the trial.

Lasee told her, "You lied from bench. "

After he repeatedly interrupted the judge, she warned Lasee he would be held in contempt of court.

"I do not recognize the legitimacy of this court because you are not ... unbiased. I have proof to that effect, " Lasee said, then walked out of the courtroom.

Judge Bischel: "Call the court officer. Mr. Lasee, you are in contempt. Reluctantly, I am reluctantly finding this gentleman in contempt. I have tolerated more from him today than I probably have from anyone else who has come into the court. His behavior was way over the top. "

Later, she noted Lasee answered and made cell-phone calls while his wife was on the witness stand, and left to use the phone and rest room during proceedings, adding, "I have never had that happen in 11 years."
This is, of course, very bad behavior, but it doesn't tell us where his antagonism had its start. He chose to go it alone, without a lawyer, at first. Why did he think that was a good idea? I think it's safe to say he's got poor judgment. But we already knew that from the fact that he thought the problem of too many lawyers -- assuming that's a problem -- is curable by cutting funding to the Law School.

The Law School will continue, relying more heavily on tuition. It will only impose greater debt burdens on the young people who work hard to establish professional careers and affect who feels free to choose to pursue this professional career and what job choices they make. It really is quite sad that this man's crude thinking has influenced the legislature in our state which has long demonstrated its dedication to its public university system.

The notion that Wisconsin is turning out too many lawyers is absurd. There are only 2 law schools in the state. Minnesota -- with the same population -- has 4. Iowa -- with 60% of our population -- has 2.

"Gerald began - but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently...."

"... as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them ’permanently’ meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash - to pee."

Writes Jim Gleeson, a Madison man. And congratulations to him, because, with that sentence, he's won the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
“It’s like you take two thoughts that are not anything like each other and you cram them together by any means necessary,” Gleeson said. He claimed he took time off from his current project, a self-help book for slackers titled “Self-Improvement Through Total Inactivity,” to pen his winning entry.

"In the empty, silent spaces of the world, he has found metaphors that illuminate the silent places our hearts ..."

Yesterday, we read that the great film director Ingmar Bergman had died. Today, the morning's news is that Michelangelo Antonioni, another great director, has died. He was 94.
The critics loved ["L'Avventura"], but the audience hissed when ''L'Avventura'' was presented at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. The barest of plots, which wanders through a love affair of a couple, frustrated many viewers for its lack of action and dialogue, characteristically Antonioni.

In one point in the black-and-white film, the camera lingers and lingers on Monica Vitti, one of Antonioni's favorite actresses, as she plays a blond, restless jet-setter.

''In the empty, silent spaces of the world, he has found metaphors that illuminate the silent places our hearts, and found in them, too, a strange and terrible beauty: austere, elegant, enigmatic, haunting,'' Jack Nicholson said in presenting Antonioni with the career Oscar....

Asked by an Italian magazine in 1980, ''For whom do you make films'' Antonioni replied: ''I do it for it an ideal spectator who is this very director. I could never do something against my tastes to meet the public. Frankly, I can't do it, even if so many directors do so. And then, what public? Italian? American? Japanese? French? British? Australian? They're all different from each other.''
Were Antonioni's films important to you? Although reading of his death did not make me cry -- reading about Bergman did -- I remember seeing "Blow-Up" in 1968, when I was 17 and being very affected, mainly because I hadn't seen all that many movies, and it was the first movie I'd ever seen that showed the actors naked and having sex and, beyond that, it was by far the only movie I'd ever seen with so much psychological and philosophical depth. "Blow-Up" was set in the 1960s London that was so important in pop culture in those days, but I had a pop, teenage idea of it, and "Blow-Up" darkened that picture.

In college, we saw "L'Avventura," and I can't remember what I thought of it. I don't think I was on Antonioni's wavelength. I tried to watch "L'Avventura" again recently and thought it looked great and felt interesting, but something came up, and I didn't watch to the end. I still feel like I'm in the middle of watching it, but I have to admit that it's been about 2 years since I paused that particular DVD.

The only other Antonioni movie I saw was "The Passenger." I was extremely vulnerable to reviews in those days and would go to anything that got a great review -- or maybe it was anything that got a great review in The New Yorker. "The Passenger" was raved about. It must have been Pauline Kael doing the raving. I still remember her going on about the scene in the end that begins shot through a window and later ends up, in a single shot, outside of the window. I expected grand aesthetic excitement over that, but in reality, I rejoiced when we got to that window because it meant that the movie would soon be over.

And now the movie is over for Michelangelo Antonioni. Goodbye to another artist.

July 30, 2007

Something is wrong with the Chief Justice's brain.

Linda Greenhouse writes:
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was hospitalized on today after suffering a seizure at his summer home in Maine, the Supreme Court announced.

The episode, described as a “benign idiopathic seizure,” was similar to one he suffered 14 years ago, according to the court’s press release. Idiopathic means that the cause of the seizure remains unknown....

“In the majority of seizures you see no anatomical cause,” [said Dr. Langer, who is also an assistant professor at Albert Einstein Medical College,] said. A cause could be a tumor, bleeding in the brain, a clogged blood vessel or an injury.

ADDED: From the Maine newspaper:
St. George Ambulance responded to a call at about 2 p.m. Monday of a man who had fallen 5 to 10 feet and landed on a dock, hitting the back of his head. The patient was ashen and was foaming at the mouth.
ADDED: This is the sort of thing that makes me glad I cut Wonkette from my blogroll a few weeks ago.

UPDATE: He looks okay now, doesn't he?

Goodbye to Tom Snyder.

Dead at age 71.

Vlog under construction.

With the help of your questions. You don't have to ask about me. Raise any question that you think might lead me to say something interesting enough that I won't edit it out of the final cut of (what's getting to be) the daily vlog -- which I will record when next the clock strikes the hour.

ADDED: The Vlog:

Love those....

... surveillance cameras.

"A War We Just Might Win."

Great title for an op-ed in the NYT. By Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution:
As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with....

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done....

The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus’s determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave...

Another surprise was how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working....

But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
John Hinderaker writes:
These are basically the same observations that most visitors to Iraq have made lately. Yet, some think this piece is significant, because of who wrote it--two liberals from Brookings--and the fact that it appeared in the Times....

My fear, though, is that the leadership of the Democratic Party sees progress on the ground in Iraq as bad news, not good. I think many Congressional Democrats are committed to defeat, for political and ideological reasons.
I will not succumb to this fear, which depends on the belief that the Democrats are evil. I do fear, however, that those who are politically committed to ending the war will resist evidence of good news, that it will take an unusually strong dose of good news to see good news as good news.

ADDED: Exemplifying what I fear are Matt Yglesias and Talk Left.

Ingmar Bergman has died.

On seeing this news, I literally break down and cry for several minutes. The man was 89 years old.

ADDED: Let's look at the list of his films. Talk about the ones that meant something to you. I'll list the ones I remember seeing:

1. "Autumn Sonata." It's the subject of a wonderful discussion about art in (my favorite movie) "My Dinner With Andre." There's a line, something like: I could always live in my art, but never in my life. Ingrid Bergman says it to Liv Ullmann. Mother to daughter.

2. "Face to Face." Isn't this the movie in "Annie Hall" that Alvy Singer refuses to see because it's already started?

3. "The Magic Flute." Mozart! In Swedish.

4. "Scenes from a Marriage." I think of the scene with Liv Ullmann, playing a therapist, as she's listening to a patient describe her marriage. The patient talks about how the world has come to feel unreal to her. Perhaps she says it feels like paper, and we see a closeup of her hand trying to feel the edge of the table. Then we see a closeup of Liv Ullmann's eyes, with just enough terror showing.

5. "Cries and Whispers." Perhaps the best of them all. I think of the scene where they read "David Copperfield" to each other for some reason. And the broken glass and the blood.

6. "The Touch." Elliot Gould! In English!

7. "The Passion of Anna." I remember being bored. Sorry.

8. "Shame." Another one I saw and couldn't appreciate at the time. I should try again, I'm sure.

9. "Persona." This one is very sharp and simple. Great to rewatch.

10. "The Silence," "Winter Light, "Through a Glass Darkly." Hard to remember which is which now. These were the movies we saw in college and thought precisely exemplified what serious movies were.

11. "The Virgin Spring." Another one we saw in college days, but this one stood out as different.

12. "Wild Strawberries." This is the one they showed us in the dorm -- East Quad -- practically as soon as we arrived as freshmen in 1969. The message was: This is greatness in film. If you don't see why this is great, you have a problem you'd better fix!

13. "The Seventh Seal." Loved this at the time. Loved Woody Allen's spoofing of it in "Love and Death." Have it on DVD but only watched part of it. Let's watch this one tonight. It is about death.

14. "Smiles of a Summer Night." Beautiful, funny, and not that Bergman-y. Woody Allen has a beautiful tribute to it: "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy."

ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary:
“I was very much in love with my mother,” he told Alan Riding of The New York Times in a 1995 interview. “She was a very warm and a very cold woman. When she was warm, I tried to come close to her. But she could be very cold and rejecting.”

The young Mr. Bergman accompanied his father on preaching rounds of small country churches near Stockholm.

“While father preached away in the pulpit and the congregation prayed, sang or listened,” he once recalled, “I devoted my interest to the church’s mysterious world of low arches, thick walls, the smell of eternity, the colored sunlight quivering above the strangest vegetation of medieval paintings and carved figures on ceilings and walls. There was everything that one’s imagination could desire — angels, saints, dragons, prophets, devils, humans.”

His earliest memories, he once said, were of light and death:

“I remember how the sunlight hit the edge of my dish when I was eating spinach and, by moving the dish slightly from side to side, I was able to make different figures out of the light. I also remember sitting with my brother, in the backyard of my flat, aiming with slingshots at enormous black rats scurrying around. And I also remember being forced to sit in church, listening to a very boring sermon, but it was a very beautiful church, and I loved the music and the light streaming through the windows. I used to sit up in the loft beside the organ, and when there were funerals, I had this marvelous long-shot view of the proceedings, with the coffin and the black drapes, and then later at the graveyard, watching the coffin lowered into the ground. I was never frightened by these sights. I was fascinated.”...

“I want to be one of the artists of the cathedral that rises on the plain,” he said. “I want to occupy myself by carving out of stone the head of a dragon, an angel or a demon, or perhaps a saint; it doesn’t matter; I will find the same joy in any case. Whether I am a believer or an unbeliever, Christian or pagan, I work with all the world to build a cathedral because I am artist and artisan, and because I have learned to draw faces, limbs, and bodies out of stone. I will never worry about the judgment of posterity or of my contemporaries; my name is carved nowhere and will disappear with me. But a little part of myself will survive in the anonymous and triumphant totality. A dragon or a demon, or perhaps a saint, it doesn’t matter!”
Much more at the link, including how he suffered from the fear of death and what completely cured him of that fear.

IN THE COMMENTS: My ex-husband Richard Lawrence Cohen writes:
Ann, after reading the NYT story my first impulse was to come here and find out your response, which is as perceptive and lively as I'd hoped. (I typoed "livly," which is a nice pun for the occasion!) My earliest Bergman experience was stumbling upon The Magician on WOR-TV in New York as a high school student. It was unlike any other movie I'd ever seen and it made me want to see every other movie like it -- movies that enchanted not only the senses and the emotions but the intellect and the aesthetic. Then Wild Strawberries during freshman orientation as you've noted: I thought I remembered that it was shown in the courtyard of the Quad, but maybe that was King Kong instead and maybe they showed Wild Strawberries in the little auditorium. Then several of his classics at Cinema Guild: among them, Smiles of a Summer Night thrilled me with its laughter-filled ideal of romance, and Virgin Spring with its sagalike bright medieval starkness. Just two weeks ago I rented Seventh Seal for my preteen kids because they were fascinated by the idea of playing chess with Death; they liked that scene well enough but it ended too soon for them and they kept asking, "When are they going to show more of the chess game?" before losing interest altogether. For me, the style of the movie felt a bit old-fashioned at this point but many scenes were still powerful, and I was especially taken with the character of the church artist who kept up a cheerful commentary while painting gruesome pictures influenced by the reality of the plague that was all around him.

A corollary memory: seeing Liv Ullman as Nora in A Doll's House on Broadway in the 1970s, with Sam Waterston as Torvald, Sam on crutches after an accident but still pacing back and forth across the stage, unrealistically, so that he could hit his marks.
Yeah, that was an insane Sam Waterston performance. At least he had historically accurate crutches.

"Wild Strawberries" was shown indoors in a fairly small room, where we had to sit on the floor -- which was one of the reasons I didn't enjoy it as much as I was supposed to.

AND: Richard, if the boys like chess movies, here's a list of 1,715 of them.

AND: In today's vlog, I talk about why reading about Bergman's death made me cry.

MUCH LATER: Having collected my "post-of-the-month" for each of the months of 2007 and chosen this for July, I settle down a reread this post, then go back to the top and read the first sentence and break down and cry once again.

Two movies.

I have so many DVDs on my shelf that I haven't watched that I've practically forbidden myself to order any more, but I just ordered two things that I wanted to see based on other works recently consumed:

1. "Marjoe." A documentary about a boy evangelist who grows up to expose the tricks he used (with his parents' guidance). This movie is the subject of interesting discussion in the Christopher Hitchens book "God Is Not Great" (which I've immensely enjoyed in audiobook form, read by the author with fascinating emotion).

2. "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." This is a documentay by Werner Herzog about Dieter Dengler, who appears in person in this film and is portrayed by Christian Bale in the current film "Rescue Dawn." I saw "Rescue Dawn" a couple days ago and found the story quite absorbing. Dengler was shot down flying over Laos and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese and -- with the help of a single nail -- he figures out how to escape. In this recent episode of "Fresh Air," Herzog explains why he made a second movie about Dengler.

You two kids! Break it up!

I think what Edwards is trying to do here is play the grownup:
"The last thing we need is two presidential candidates fighting with each other, instead of fighting for the change we need in America," Edwards said. "And, man, do we need change in the worst possible way."...

An Obama spokeswoman disputed Edwards' comments about the Clinton-Obama spat.

"This is a substantive and important debate people want to hear about, whether we are going to turn the page on the Bush-Cheney foreign policy, which has damaged our national security and America's standing in the world," Leslie Miller said.
That is: We're not kids. We're the adults!

"I remember during the confirmation hearings for Justice Thomas he was asked about his discussions in law school about [Roe v. Wade]..."

"... and he said he didn't remember having any, and that people thought, well, he's not being forthright. Well, he was being absolutely honest, because I remember, at that time, it was not something law students generally talked about. It was considered a fairly settled, noncontroversial matter."

Said Justice Stevens recently, with, I think, a clever purpose, discussed in a post written Saturday night, which I'm highlighting here so weekday-only readers will see it.

July 29, 2007

Quick! Questions!

Vlogging will commence in 1 hour, so write me some questions.

ADDED: The vlog:

AND: The entire 10 minute vlog is a response to the first question -- "Do you still think that Mr. Peavoy is an *sshole for releasing the Hillary letters?" -- which is based on this post about the release of letters Hillary Clinton wrote between 1965 and 1969.

The puzzling persistence of emoticons.

[A]fter 25 years of use, emoticons have started to jump off the page and into our spoken language. Even grown men on Wall Street, for example, will weave the term “QQ” (referring to an emoticon that symbolizes two eyes crying) into conversation as a sarcastic way of saying “boo hoo.”

Kristina Grish, author of “The Joy of Text: Mating, Dating and Techno-relating” (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2006), said that she grew so accustomed to making the :-P symbol (a tongue hanging out) in instant messages at work that it once accidentally popped up, in three dimensions, on a date.

“When the waiter told us the specials,” she recalled in an e-mail message, “I made that face — not on purpose of course — because they sounded really drab and uninteresting. And the guy I was out with looked at me like I was insane and said, ‘Did you just make an IM face?’ ”
Hey, what's the emoticon that means I think that's one of those fake anecdotes pop authors make up for their books? (A fakecdote.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Dave F writes:
Well, I just got back from lunch with three fellow Wall St. co-workers, "grown men" all, and in the interest of doing some of my own, original research, asked them if they have ever, in their professional lives, as "grown Wall St. men" ever heard the phrase QQ uttered to mean "boo hoo."

To which their response was they knew a good shrink that I should see.
I suspect that Dave and his friends were swingin' on the flippety-flop and the New York Times is a cob nobbler.

Iraq victory.

A unifying force.

The seeming "trophy wife" is actually running everything...

Read this:
[Fred] Thompson's second wife [is] a lawyer and Republican political operative widely believed to have encouraged him to enter the fray. As her husband's de facto campaign manager, [Jeri] Thompson has the greatest hands-on role of any spouse in the presidential campaign, even though she has so far steered well clear of the political hustings.

Despite her political pedigree as a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, her sway over day-to-day operations is troubling some of her husband's supporters. "I do worry that Jeri is the one really running his campaign," said a Republican in Congress who describes himself as "likely" to support Mr Thompson. "She's smart, but that could be a recurring problem."

A campaign aide, also speaking anonymously, told The Washington Post that Mrs Thompson decided everything from the content of direct mailings to the date for her husband to make his official declaration, now expected at the end of the summer. "You name it - anything," said the aide.
If you go read the whole article, you'll see an amazing proportion of it is about Jeri Thompson's breasts! There are even a few paragraphs on the subject of Hillary Clinton's recently exposed cleavage. This is a great demonstration of the power of breasts. Here's this woman who is apparently behind the entire candidacy and campaign for one of the frontrunners and people can barely start talking about her without getting derailed onto the subject of her breasts. Talk about caught in the headlights! The dazzling glare is disabling. Focus people. Who is this woman? What is she doing? And does she have a plan to become President too?

"Three in 10 Call SCOTUS 'Too Conservative.'"

Shouldn't that be 7 in 10 don't think the Supreme Court is "too conservative"?

The key thing is that the number of eople are saying "too conservative" has increased since Roberts and Alito joined the Court. And more people are saying "too conservative" -- 31% -- than "too liberal" -- 18%. 47% think the Court is well-balanced, but back in 2005, 55% said that.

Actually, I think it's surprising, after all the press coverage of the Roberts and Alito nominations, that many more Americans haven't absorbed the view that the Supreme Court is too conservative. It suggests that the issue of Supreme Court appointments isn't going to work very well for the Democratic presidential candidates, who must be hoping to alarm people about the Court. By 55-43%, Americans approved of the Court's decision upholding the federal ban on "partial birth" abortion. And abortion is -- by far -- the main issue Democrats use to fire up voters.

But how are you supposed to vote if you think the Court is currently well-balanced? It depends on who we predict will leave the Court in the next 4 years. The Democrats ought to stress that it is far more likely that 2 or 3 liberal Justices will be going and that we need a Democratic President to preserve the balance. That is, you don't need to convince people that the Court has become too conservative and needs to be changed, only that the current balance is good. Don't demonize Alito and Roberts. Just appeal to our love of stability.

"I wallowed in a morass of general and specific dislike and pity for most people but me especially..."

The NYT got its hands on some letters Hillary Clinton wrote to a friend between 1965 an 1969. I remember those years -- Hillary is 4 years older than I am -- and I plunge into this article ready to read all sorts of embarrassing verbiage.
“Since Xmas vacation, I’ve gone through three and a half metamorphoses and am beginning to feel as though there is a smorgasbord of personalities spread before me,” Ms. Rodham wrote to [Johh] Peavoy in April 1967. “So far, I’ve used alienated academic, involved pseudo-hippie, educational and social reformer and one-half of withdrawn simplicity.”...

“Sunday was lethargic from the beginning as I wallowed in a morass of general and specific dislike and pity for most people but me especially,” Ms. Rodham reported in a letter postmarked Oct. 3, 1967....

“Can you be a misanthrope and still love or enjoy some individuals?” Ms. Rodham wrote in an April 1967 letter. “How about a compassionate misanthrope?”...

“Random thinking usually becomes a process of self-analysis with my ego coming out on the short end,” she writes...

Her letters at times betray a kind of innocent narcissism over “my lost youth,” as she described it in a letter shortly after her 19th birthday. She wrote of being a little girl and believing that she was the only person in the universe. She had a sense that if she turned around quickly, “everyone else would disappear.

“I’d play out in the patch of sunlight that broke the density of the elms in front of our house and pretend there were heavenly movie cameras watching my every move,” she says. She yearns for all the excitement and discoveries of life without losing “the little girl in the sunlight.”...

The letters contain no possibly damaging revelations of the proverbial “youthful indiscretions,” and mention nothing glaringly outlandish or irresponsible.
How incredibly unembarrassing! Here she is writing intimate letters to a friend, and there isn't one idiotic political outburst, one concession of drug use, one humiliating sexual episode? Perhaps it's embarrassing that she was so self-controlled back then. "[T]he patch of sunlight that broke the density of the elms" -- who writes like that? This is a letter from a young person to a friend, not a freshman creative writing class assignment.

But we know little about this Peavoy character. He grew up to be an English professor, teaching at a small women's college. Perhaps, back in the 60s, he was a person who made her feel see should prove her writing aptitude. But she had to be the sort of person who would nerdishly craft prose like that to please a precociously literary young man.

"Ms. Rodham’s letters are written in a tight, flowing script with near-impeccable spelling and punctuation."

What does it mean to be "tight" and "flowing"? "Flowing" -- I assume -- is the handwriting style we were taught to use back in the days when there were lessons in penmanship. What could make that "tight" would be an effort to adhere to the proper flowing style.

We see a very earnest and analytical young woman. Impeccable punctuation -- I'll bet that punctuation wasn't a lot of exclamation points! -- and I'm sure -- I know the type! -- those letters didn't fly along with cascades of dashes -- those impassioned young-girl dashes -- that fill the letters of her contemporaries -- I should know! -- I was one!! -- you should see the letters I wrote to my mother back then -- she saved them!!! -- so like her -- I had to find them when I was cleaning out her house after she died... but Hillary -- you know -- I was four -- I am! -- four years younger -- and oh! those four years!!!! -- they made all the difference between me and my older sister -- so that's how I'm seeing Hillary -- hmmm!!!!! -- is that what we want for President???!!!! -- I'd like to see Nixon's handwriting!!!! -- don't you just know Nixon would use "tight, flowing" writing -- he's such a tightass! -- and you know what? Peavoy was really a jerk to turn over those letters without his old friend's permission -- what an asshole!!!!!!

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo writes:
1. "Compassionate misanthropism" is the best summary I have ever heard of left-liberal thought, which indeed results in processes by which "everyone else would disappear".

2. She has no doubt retained the insatiable desire to be “the little girl in the sunlight,” the only person in the universe. Courtney Love described it better as being "the girl with the most cake."

3. Peavoy is beneath contempt for having done this.

ALSO IN THE COMMENTS: The theory that the Clinton campaign engineered the release of the letters.