November 3, 2007


I'm in a contest.

UPDATE: I see John Cole has attempted to pick up Kevin Drum's meme, and he begins his list of worst posts ever with:
1.) My first selection is Ann Althouse video wineblogging, but I am not sure whether to put that in my top five best post list due to the sheer joy it brought me, or the worst because of how truly awful it was.
Later he crossed this out and wrote:
Disqualified because it looks like she sobered up and edited out most of the drinking. Damnit.
Uh, John, maybe you sobered up. These videos were never edited after they were posted. I have various vlogs where I hold a glass of wine and take perhaps a sip or two (while talking about something other than wine). But thanks for making your own mental distortions so crushingly clear.

And I hate the spelling "damnit," you damned nit.

UPDATE 2: John Cole writes that he's sorry for writing that my video was edited. Bizarrely, he goes on to grovel in an apology to Juan Cole for something entirely unrelated. He has a 353 word post and exactly 20 words of it are the apology to me, and he only says he's sorry for saying there was editing, not for smearing me with statements about drunkenness. Moreover, he titles this post with my name and uses the word "wineblogging" to further insinuate that I was drunk, which was always a lie.

Writing about his smearing of Juan Cole, John Cole says:
I have no excuse, and the only explanation I can come up with is that I was still completely un-moored regarding my politics at the time... and I lashed out at what I felt was a safe target. It is embarrassing, because I like to think of myself as a good person despite my launching pointed barbs from time to time, but this truly was a shameless and vicious post. That post had the potential to do real damage to someone’s integrity and reputation, it was completely unwarranted and baseless, and I am truly ashamed for writing it.
John Cole is unconcerned with my reputation. For him now, I am a "safe target." Maybe if he switches political sides again, I'll get the abject, groveling apology some day. For now, it's to his political advantage to suck up to Juan Cole, so here he goes. And watch his clueless commenters laud him for his impressive humility. Enjoy thinking of yourself as a "good person." You pathetic hack.

UPDATE 3: In the comments here, Reader Iam writes: " Cole's never gotten over Thanksgiving 2005, and other events November and environs that year (no typos there). That's clear." I'd totally forgotten his role in that little blogstorm, which is explained in this old post of mine. Here's the part about John Cole:
And what about this character, another PJM insider? He writes about my post, saying I'd "lost my mind" and titling the post "Ann Althouse's Integrity"? All for a little old "Yikes"! Oh, I see, he was over here commenting and I deleted his comment. Yeah, because it was too abusive. Now, on his own blog, he's calling me "a liar ... spreading malicious untruths." Where's the lie? He thinks it's a lie to have written about the accident in this post when I wasn't watching the parade on television!

Let the historians of blogging judge who's lost their mind....
Truly pathetic. Nursing his hurt feelings for 2 years. Is that what the good people are doing these days? Loser!

UPDATE 4: To the other loser who posted to note there are edits in the video, I never said the video wasn't edited. It was edited before it was posted and never edited thereafter, contrary to what the pathetic hack John Cole lied.


... baby.

Hello from the West Coast.

I'm unwinding after my 6 hour flight, during which I: 1. tried not to think about what a fool I was to schedule trips for 3 weekends in a row, 2. managed to sleep a couple hours (while listening to "Musicophilia" on the iPod), and 3. enjoyed playing Trivia Challenge with passengers that I knew only by their first names and seat numbers. (I'd have scored a lot higher if a category called "Sport" didn't keep coming up asking me about cricket, rugby, and "football." And if the turbulence didn't screw up my aim at the touchscreen.)

Now, I'm checked into a hotel. I've got my view...


And my room service...


... my WiFi...

I'm just going to baby myself until Monday.

"Hiya Tony. Two or three?" "Two, two, gimme two, that’s good."

Pizza in the movies. (Via Metafilter.)

Marriage in heaven? Opinions vary.

Assuming heaven, how can there be marriage in heaven? If you had the power to design heaven, would you have everyone eternally married to whomever they happened to be married on earth?
Q: Billy Graham recently said that he expects to be with his wife in heaven, but I have seen where other so-called Bible experts say that we will not really know each other in heaven. I have always felt that my husband and I will be together forever, and it upsets me greatly when I hear something like this....
The questioner seeks a Christian answer, and the theologian who answers the question gives a complicated and hedging answer, but it includes this quote from Jesus: "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30.) I can see not wanting to upset the nice woman, but shouldn't she have to give up either her dream of eternal marriage or Jesus?

Or does it depend on what the meaning of "will" will be? Jesus spoke in the future tense, so maybe all that means is that you can't get married in heaven, but if you are already married, it will continue. That really doesn't seem fair to those who die without finding the perfect mate. If you knew eternal marriage was the rule, what would be the better strategy in life: trying very hard to find someone suitable for a really longterm relationship or resisting marrying anyone out of fear that things would eventually go awry?

I'm not attempting to do theology here. I'm just wondering why people are so eager to believe something that would not be good.

And excuse me for using the word "whomever" up there. I know it's a made up word to trick students.

"Wee embers were fanned into an inferno by skilled flame-fanners and the professionally offended."

Dick Cavett on Don Imus:
The Imus show had long been an eccentric mix of news, music, sports talk and — thanks to its well-read host — first-rate conversation....

There is really no getting away from the injustice that’s been done. A program enjoyed (and missed) by millions was trashed for the sake of the few. No one who contributed to the denouement of the Imus show and the mindless abuse heaped on him has anything to be proud of.

IN THE COMMENTS: It's all about... Hillary!

"AutoAdmit is like the Iowa primary, where a really backwards group of people get way too much attention..."

The Harvard Record interviews the law school grad who hacked AutoAdmit. For the details of how he did it, go to the link. Here's what he found:
While the information is far from perfect, there were a significantly large number of lurkers when compared to very few posters, a trend that was very common. There were no more than 5 regular posters from [Harvard, as compared to over 150+ readers.

The vast majority of posters who claim to be at Harvard were not. Amazingly, there were entire threads where various HLS posters turned out to really be just one guy talking to himself (who was not even in law school yet!)....

Of my own classmates, and from what I understand from my peers at other schools who worked with me, the average AutoAdmit poster was largely restrained, apolitical, and was not particularly interesting....

Most of the time I looked at people and wasn't really that surprised that they wrote such offensive posts. I guess the real shocker was the number of women who post, which is surprisingly high....

Other than occasional one-time posters, AutoAdmit really is the playground of a handful of really obsessive people that is followed by an incredible number of watchers.
I guess those backward people are terrified that their names will become known. At least that will add some excitement to their restrained, apolitical, uninteresting lives.

November 2, 2007

There is this...


... in the world...


... so ....


The San Francisco meetup.

I'm going to meet up with some readers tomorrow night in San Francisco. Email me for the time and place.

AND: I'd love to hear suggestions for great photo-walks in SF.

"The father-son connection is nothing compared to husband-wife."

Charles Krauthammer on dynastic presidential politics. Bush, father and son, is one thing, but Clinton, husband and wife is quite another:
The relationship between a father and an adult son is psychological and abstract; the connection between husband and wife, concrete and quotidian.
Are Bill and Hillary concrete and quotidian? Put more plainly: They live together.
George Bush, pere, didn't move back into the White House in January 2001....

From day one of Hillary's inauguration, Bill will have had more experience than her at everything she touches....

The cloud hovering over a Hillary presidency is not Bill padding around the White House in robe and slippers flipping thongs. It's President Clinton, in suit and tie, simply present in the White House when any decision is made. The degree of his involvement in that decision will inevitably become an issue. Do Americans really want a historically unique two-headed presidency constantly buffeted by the dynamics of a highly dysfunctional marriage?
Well, do we? Krauthammer unintentionally makes it sound kind of fascinating.

You've gone to the best schools, gotten the best grades, now why can't you get a good job being a good person for a good salary?

It's hard doing good for a living.

Law school Halloween.

Don't you love when the students wear costumes? I didn't see any costumes here at Brooklyn, but back at the University of Wisconsin Law School....

Anyone over the age of 12 that dresses up for Halloween needs to get a life.

Jeremy responds:

Also anyone that eats cake on their birthday or decorates a tree for Christmas. Or goes to the beach during summer. Or drinks milk with their cookies. Or reads from the Funnies section of the newspaper. Or plays Monopoly. Or gets upset 30 years later because one time their mom made them a clown costume for Halloween when they had already asked explicitly for a Roy Rogers Cowboy Costume or at the very least a Johnny Unitas football getup and all the kids laughed at him and he got red in the face under his white makeup and turned and ran and ran and kept running and then vowed to never let anyone enjoy halloween or laugh at them again!

November 1, 2007



That's the Atlantic coast, from last weekend's visit to Stuart, Florida. Saturday, I'm going out to the Pacific coast. I need to pick a place to stay... maybe somewhere where I can get a comparable gaze at an ocean. I've got to be in Palo Alto Monday afternoon. But where to stay?

"Andrew says a lot of silly things about me these days..."

"... and life is too short to pay attention to them."

Well, I identified with that.

"I am prepared to pay the price of supporting Hillary just to get Bill Clinton once again padding over the shag pile carpet of the Oval Office..."

"... even if it is only to bring his wife a cup of tea."

When the Supreme Court announces a "new rule" of constitutional law, does that mean the right it articulates did not exist in the past?

Yesterday, we were talking about Danforth v. Minnesota, and now the transcript of the oral argument is available (PDF). Let's dig in.

This is a case about whether the state courts must follow the doctrine that has in the past applied to federal courts that are considering whether to grant habeas corpus relief to persons who are in custody after conviction in state court. The problem is that the conviction followed a state court proceeding that complied with the federal constitutional law that the Supreme Court had articulated at the time. The Supreme Court said, in Teague v. Lane, that the federal court, on habeas, should not require the state court to redo its work according to a higher standard that was only announced later. The question in Danforth is whether the state courts can follow their own procedure and require new trials that satisfy the higher standard. Danforth was convicted of sexually abusing a child whose testimony was presented on videotape, but the Supreme Court, after his conviction became final, determined that the 6th Amendment requires live testimony. Federal courts, following Teague, won't order the new trial on habeas, but why shouldn't the state courts have the autonomy to establish their own law about whether there will be a retrial in this situation?

There are two significant matters here that ought to appeal to a conservative Justice.

First, originalism. If you are an originalist, there should be no coherent idea that rights are "new." Rights are what they are. The Court may have newly discovered those rights and failed to notice them in the past. But a case announcing a "new rule of constitutional law" should not mean that the right came into being at that point. If you think that, you believe the Constitution grows and evolves. That is the very idea that Justice Scalia mocks whenever he gives a speech, but here's the attitude he took at oral argument:
Now, you can argue, and there are many originalists who would agree with you, that there shouldn't be such a thing as a new rule, but once you've -- once you've agreed that there can be new rules, if this Court says this is a new rule, we acknowledge it wasn't the rule before, but it's new, it will not have retroactive effect, it seems to me that the State would be contradicting that ruling by saying oh, in our view the law used to be exactly what you say it newly is.
Once you've -- once you've agreed ... Why is he agreeing?! Every fiber of his being should be screaming no. A "new rule" isn't a new right. It's a newly discovered right. Is he playing dumb? Why? This should fuel the critics who say he's just hostile to the rights of the criminally accused.

Justice Stevens calls him on it:
JUSTICE STEVENS: But your basic position is that we should not be making new law. We should be -- we might have misinterpreted the law over the years, but, basically, this Court has no power to change the text of the Constitution or its meaning. I guess Justice Scalia's position is we have all that power in the world.


JUSTICE SCALIA: My position is we have asserted all that power in the world.

Isn't it nice that everyone had a laugh? I can see laughing if you enjoy seeing Scalia openly displaying hypocrisy and don't care that a man is in prison who might have gone free if he'd had the chance to cross-examine the witness against him. I don't think it's funny at all.

Second, federalism. A conservative justice should care about the autonomous operation of the state court system, subject to the demands of federal law. Teague expressed the deference federal judges owe to the state courts who performed their obligation to enforce federal law well enough and therefore deserve not to have to redo their work according to constitutional law standards they didn't know existed.

Perhaps Teague should be extended to prevent the state courts from offering a broader remedy for the violation of a newly discovered right, but why would that be? Why can't the state courts devise their own remedial approach? A conservative justice should see the need to articulate a reason for turning what was deference to state courts into a limitation on state courts. Yet Chief Justice Roberts seemed eager to conflate remedies and rights. He asserted that the nonretroactivity of a right is part of the definition of the right, and then said that retroactivity "at least" a matter of federal common law, "and doesn't Federal common law preempt State common law?"

Now, that is a question, not an assertion, so perhaps he realizes — I certainly hope he realizes — that there would still be a question of the scope of that federal common law.

Teague applied to federal courts on habeas deciding whether to upset a conviction that had become final. If you want to extend the principle to state courts and deny them the power to fashion their own approach to providing remedies for newly discovered federal constitutional rights, you need to do some common law reasoning and explain why — including why it's good federalism.

UPDATE: Orin Kerr comments on this post:
In response to Ann's second post, I think I disagree with her about the originalist point. There is no inconsistency between being an originalist as a normative matter but a legal realist when asked to explain how the Court actually works. It seems to me that an originalist could look at Crawford and say that the right should have been recognized but wasn't, and that for various reasons habeas relief should be premised on compliance with the law as it was recognized at the time rather than the law as it should have been understood to be.
I don't think you need to disagree with me. You can say that the right was always there. It existed at the time of the trial, unbeknowst to the state court, and a federal court should not not enforce it by upsetting a decision that became final before the right was discovered and proclaimed. You don't have to abandon originalism to accept Teague.
That seems to be Scalia's position. I also think the criticism falls a bit flat with Justice Scalia in particular, as he is a partial, once-in-a-while originalist rather than a consistent defender of the method.
I don't think he wants to sign on to the notion of a living constitution.
On the other hand, I agree with Ann about the federalism point.

Sunset with helicopter.


Google Law School Rankings.

I don't understand it, but it looks nice to me:
  1. Harvard
  2. Stanford
  3. Yale
  4. Michigan
  5. Columbia
  6. Chicago
  7. Cornell
  8. Brooklyn
  9. Vanderbilt
  10. NYU
  11. North Dakota
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Pennsylvania
  14. Suffolk
  15. New York Law School
  16. UC-Berkeley
  17. Minnesota
  18. Notre Dame
  19. Tulane
  20. George Washington
  21. Vermont
  22. Indiana-Bloomington
  23. Texas
  24. Widener
  25. University of Washington

But where's NYU? That's what you get for calling yourself "School of Law" instead of "Law School."

ADDED: Oops. NYU's at 10, but it's at #1 if you use "School of Law" as the search term.

Tiny pineapple, tiny queen.

Tiny pineapple

Tiny queen

(The queen is by Evan Izer. Other objects by Izer blogged here.)

"Make the American people realize they are surrounded in the world by violent extremists."

Rumsfeld's "snowflake" memos.

Is the WaPo "running a story based off of selective quotations and gross mischaracterizations from a handful of memos -- carefully picked from the some 20,000 written while Rumsfeld served as Secretary"? Or does this story "shed light on [the] brusque management style" of "a defense secretary disdainful of media criticism and driven to reshape public opinion of the Iraq war"?

IN THE COMMENTS: Joel writes:

Let me see if I have this straight, we can get the memos of a defense secretary in a time of war before the administration he worked for is even out of office, but we cannot get the memos of the first lady 7 years after her administration is over?

$11 million damages for offensive speech.

It's against the vile Fred Phelps, so do you care? Are you happy?
It was the first-ever verdict against Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian group based in Topeka that has protested military funerals across the country with placards bearing shock-value messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers."

They contend that the deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality and of gays in the military.
These protests are insane — not only hateful but also incoherent. (The dead soldier wasn't gay.) The tort claim was expectation of privacy at the funeral and for intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
Fred W. Phelps Sr., Westboro's founder, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va.

"It's going to be reversed in five minutes," he said. This case, he added, "will elevate me to something important," as it draws more publicity to his cause....

"This was in a public space," [lawprof Mark] Graber said "While the actions are reprehensible, the First Amendment protects a lot that's reprehensible."
Graber's right.

"Six guys against Hillary. I’d call that a fair fight. This is one strong woman."

Did "guys" "gang up" on Hillary at the debate the other night?
"The Politics of Pile-On," Mrs. Clintons' Web site announced this morning. "What happens when the 'politics of pile-on' replaces the 'politics of hope.'" The campaign later released a video that featured Mrs. Clinton's Democratic rivals saying her name repeatedly. A headline on the Drudge Report, which said it was reflecting thinking in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, read, "Scorn: As the Men Gang Up."
So, instead of talking about the substance of what the candidates said, we're supposed to talk about whether Hillary Clinton's opponents are too mean to her — they'd better stop! — and view it all through the gender lens.

ADDED: Obama: "The politics of hope does not mean hoping that your opponents aren't going to point out the differences between you and them."

A 1-minute Halloween video I call "The Music Box."

October 31, 2007

"Cécilia Sarkozy acts so American, while Hillary Clinton acts so French."

Sex, politics, women...

"Complimentary use of iPods (pre-loaded with 1,000 classic to contemporary music selections)."

A strange hotel amenity. Who doesn't have their own iPod? Who wants 1,000 songs loaded by the hotel? Maybe if you lost your iPod...

"He's fragile. Brittle."

"His skin is stretched so tight over his temples that you can practically see his thoughts." Manorexia. (Via Metafilter.)

Can state courts choose to apply new rules of federal constitutional law retroactively?

The Supreme Court hears oral argument today in Danforth v. Minnesota, which is a fascinating federalism case. Under Teague v. Lane, federal courts cannot grant state prisoners a writ of habeas corpus when the attack on the work of the state court is based on a rule of constitutional law that was announced after the conviction became final. (There are 2 exceptions to that doctrine that don't matter here.) The question in Danforth is whether state courts can grant prisoners relief based on the new rules that the federal court can't apply.

The Minnesota Supreme Court said no, in reasoning that I think is wrong. From the opinion (which I don't have a link for). [CORRECTION: This passage is not from the opinion but from the brief for the state of Minnesota (PDF). Here's the state court's opinion (PDF).]
If the Griffith-Teague retroactivity doctrine did not apply in state courts, supremacy and uniformity problems would be magnified because federal review of state post-conviction proceedings – in both habeas proceedings and direct review by this Court – would be unavailable for decisions that do not follow Teague. The lack of federal review deprives the state decision of constitutional legitimacy. Even if not Teague barred, this Court’s review would ratify state created federal constitutional disparity into its decisions by reviewing the claims of similarly situated collateral review defendants according to different constitutional standards.

The Griffith-Teague doctrine also vindicates federal constitutional values of finality and federalism. Finality interests identified in Teague are not unique to federal habeas review. They are present and protected by Teague in the context of federal collateral review of federal convictions as well as in review by this Court of federal issues arising in state collateral proceedings. Teague also serves the comity interest of validating the reasonable interpretation of existing federal constitutional rules made by state courts – an interest not limited to the federal habeas context. Whether a federal or state judge asserts a new federal constitutional rule to invalidate a reasonable state court interpretation of a federal constitutional rule the state finality interest is subverted.

Against strong supremacy, judicial integrity, finality, and federalism values, Petitioner asserts a state interest in selectively creating enhanced or preferred federal constitutional rights that apply only to citizens of that state. This is not a legitimate state interest. If a state wishes to create preferred rights for its citizens, respect for the political rights of the citizens of the state require a state do so under its own state law subject to the state legal and political constraints attendant to state law decisions. Anything less simply cloaks state law decisions under an illegitimately claimed federal authority for the purpose of avoiding accountability to state citizens.
These may be reasons why a state court might want to adopt nonretroactivity as a matter of state law, but that doesn't explain why federal law requires state courts to avoid applying the current rules of federal constitutional law.

What the federal courts can do is governed by the federal habeas statutes, which the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted in Teague. Everything the Court said about comity and finality in Teague related to the way federal court should treat state courts (which conducted the original trial before the new rule was announced). Why should this limit on federal habeas jurisdiction carry over to the state courts if the state, under its own law, chooses to revisit cases that have become final but were decided under the old rule of constitutional law?

Danforth was tried for sexual abuse of a child whose testimony was presented on videotape, something the Supreme Court, in Crawford v. Washington, said violates the Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against you. But since Crawford was decided after Danforth's conviction became final, he can't ask a federal court, on habeas, to give him a new trial in which he has the opportunity to confront the witness. Should the state therefore be prevented from offering him that relief? I think not.

The Minnesota Supreme Court's opinion The brief for the state is a bit of a jumble of ideas, and it is poorly written. (How do you ratify disparity into something?) But there is some sense to the concern that a state court will "cloak[] state law decisions under an illegitimately claimed federal authority for the purpose of avoiding accountability to state citizens."

The idea is that state judges who have a broader conception of rights than the citizens of the state will decide cases the way they like and make it seem that federal law requires it. But federal law does require live testimony in the situation that Danforth encountered. It is simply the case that under federal jurisdiction law, the federal courts won't force the state courts to redo the trial. If the state courts were to apply the federal right anyway, they would be applying a real federal right and following state law jurisdiction rules. If the citizens of the state don't like that, they can change that jurisdiction law.

There are some more complicated angles to this, and I will write more after the oral argument becomes available.

ADDED: Scotusblog reports on the oral argument:
The Court... debated whether Teague was a decision about “rights” or only about “remedies,” whether it was both because a remedy is part of the “substance” of the right, whether it was a constitutionally grounded ruling or merely an interpretation of federal habeas statutes, whether it involved no more than a gesture of respect and “comity” toward state courts or was a directive that the states had no choice but to follow. At the end of the one-hour hearing, there was no visible consensus on what Teague now means, or on the legal authority that the Court had to make the ruling.
I'll have more when I've read the transcript of the argument. This case concerns something I've been writing about since the mid-80s, and, though the Minnesota Supreme Court says things very similar to what I've been teaching in my Federal Courts class for more than 20 years, I disagree adamantly with its conclusion. I realize many of my readers may think this is obscure and overcomplicated, but to me, it is perhaps the most interesting case I've seen in 20 years.

It is Halloween.

So let's break out the costumes. All the best lawbloggers are going with a Harry Potter theme this year.

"Well, I don't think the Republicans got the message that I'm voting and sounding like them."

Hillary Clinton said at the debate last night.
"If you watched their debate last week, I seemed to be the topic of great conversation and consternation. And that's for a reason: because I have stood against George Bush and his failed policies."
That's the reason. That or the fact that she's obviously going to be the Democratic Party's nominee.

ADDED: I loved Hillary's new fashion. She's put aside those atrocious, orange/turquoise, nubby jackets and gone back to the black pantsuit idea of old. What made it seem new and fresh was the thin brown trim along the jacket's lapel, and the repetition of brown in the top and the pocket handkerchief. A gold necklace provided the only flash. I thought this was intelligent and serious, a much more appropriate look for a President that those colorful jackets that seem to plead with us to see her as a woman. The brown and black was subtly womanly. Less is more.

AND: Hey, check it out. Andrew Sullivan called me "batty" for saying that I liked Hillary Clinton's fashion. What's going on there? I could say a million things, but out of discretion, I will hold my tongue.

The ghost....

... was a bug.
"This case was solved through logic, scientific analysis and methodology."

Who can take great beauty and talent and slam it into the ground?

Old TV did this sort of thing all the time:

I found that clip in my search for a clip to pay tribute to Robert Goulet.

This is the most clumsily staged song. Did they even rehearse? Watch Goulet awkwardly thwack Julie Andrews on the stomach at 30 seconds. And then comes the comic banter about how sexy Peggy Lee and Robert Goulet are. This show seems to be from about 1973, and Goulet's hair and sexy manner exemplifies the way older adults channeled the youth culture of the day. But Goulet truly was extraordinarily handsome.

So let's roll it back a few years to a better era of male style, and let's have Goulet with 2 other singers again, make them men this times, and instead of bantering about sex, let's have them banter about cheese. It will be sexier!

Robert Goulet died yesterday. He died waiting for a lung transplant.



I'm back in New York, and the morning looks rosy.

October 30, 2007

Althouse at Stanford.

Check it out.

Any San Francisco readers out there? Email me. I might be able to stage a meetup on Saturday or Sunday, but I'd need a trustworthy local to help me out.

ADDED: Click "profile" in the sidebar to get the email address.

Debate tonight.

I happened to hear... via IM. Otherwise, it'd've flown right by me. I'll add some comments here I guess. I promise only to be lazy and arbitrary.

ADDED: They're all asked if they'll pledge to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and they all hedge. At least three times, pushed, Hillary Clinton says she'll do "everything within my power" to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. In other words, I can't promise, but I'll try — subject to my view of presidential power. But there is no follow up question. Earlier, she criticized Bush for supposedly exceeding presidential power. Here's what I would ask: "When you say you'll do everything in your power, what is it that you think is beyond presidential power that you would not do, even if you thought it would prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons?"

MORE: I spoke too soon, Richardson makes the pledge. He blathers, but initially he is clear that he's pledging.

AND: Was that lazy and arbitrary enough?

100 geniuses.

"The top 100 features not just brainiacs and boffins, but 19 musicians, two artists (Damien Hirst and the illustrator Robert Crumb) and one sportsman (Muhammad Ali). He is joined at number 43 by a surprise entry: Osama bin Laden."

Boffins? I don't know what the hell is going on here, but it's irking me, and why are so many of the geniuses British? Was the list compiled in Britain by any chance? In this country, when we make a thing of calling people geniuses, we give them half a million dollars.

What pop artist/group had best "hit average"?

One hit wonders don't count. This competition is limited to those who've had at least 20 hits. Average chart ranking for the winner(s): 12!

(Guess before you look at the answer at the link.)

Naming the Madison school that will not be Vang Pao Elementary School.

You remember that Hmong hero Vang Pao was arrested — by us — for plotting to overthrow the government of Laos and that the plan to name a school after of him was therefore shot. We're in the middle of a process of generating the new name, and they've got a list of 87 possibilities. Some are clearly not serious (Brain Dead Madison Metropolitan), some are just not serious (Steve Irwin), some I can't understand (RPA (Romanized Popular Alphabets)), and some just don't have enough to do with Wisconsin (Mahatma Gandhi). But I do like the idea of naming the school for Jeffrey Erlanger (the son of my colleague Howie Erlanger)(I wrote about him here)(more here).

Impression: sunrise.


What is this inky horror we call morning?


Calm down. It's not so bad...


"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness."

So said George Orwell. And if you don't think so, don't tell Rachel Toor. She might smush your face into something.

Governor Doyle does his Frankenstein routine.

Speaking of taxes, we've got a little something here in Wisconsin called the Frankenstein veto. Look what Governor Doyle just did with it:

The Wisconsin State Journal editorializes:

Wisconsin governors, both Democrats and Republicans, deserve strong veto powers to remove pork and policy from state budgets. But they shouldn't be allowed to unilaterally create laws from scratch that the Legislature never approved or even imagined.

Doyle made a couple of "Frankenstein" vetoes Friday. The most significant one nearly doubled the allowable increase in municipal property tax levies to 3.86 percent....

Doyle himself opposed the "Frankenstein" veto as a gubernatorial candidate. Then he won election and completely changed his position for short-term political advantage.

Wisconsin has suffered enough lame excuses and embarrassing hypocrisy from both major political parties on this issue. It's time for [Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Weston,] and the Democratic-run Senate to take the high road and approve this good-government reform for the benefit of all.
I hope I can, by this post, increase the pressure of embarrassment on the Wisconsin government.


... strangle.

"I’ve always said you were our leading actress.... I am getting fat and pregnant and mean...."

Judy Garland writes to Katharine Hepburn.

"The mutilation was actually the work of animals..."

New evidence in the "Paradise Lost" case.

"Claiming physical territory was a powerful act. But the gay neighborhood is becoming a past-tense idea."

Gay rights, the real estate problem.

Somehow that story reminds me of Jimmy Carter — back in 1976 — worrying about preserving the "ethnic purity" of neighborhoods.

"He doesn’t remember the names of a lot of people in his life."

The young Barack Obama. He's told the glowy version of his youth in his book "Dreamy Dreams," but what were things really like? There are 450 pages in that book. Fact check, all you Obama-stoppers!

In Blackwater: "a potentially serious investigative misstep that could complicate efforts to prosecute."

The NYT is reporting that State Department officials investigating the Blackwater incident offered immunity — limited-use — that only the prosecutors at the Justice Department have the authority to give.

Here's the WaPo version of the same story.

I'm not an expert in this area of law. If you are, I encourage you to comment here.

October 29, 2007

Ocean blues.



Oh, shun blues...

"Dada doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo."

"Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada. Anti-dadaism is a disease: selfkleptomania, man’s normal condition, is Dada. But the real dadas are against Dada."

— Tristan Tzara

"Let's talk about the fact that with a 160 on the LSATs, Wurtzel was much better suited for Northeastern than Northwestern, let alone YLS...."

"... which raises serious questions as to their admissions standards." Adam Bonin seems kind of irked at all the attention Elizabeth Wurtzel has gotten and continues to get. I mean, really, the LSAT is not the only factor. Yale gets all the high LSATs. High LSATs should mean nothing to them. Get some interesting people. Why should Yale care if they'll fit in law firms or have problems passing character requirements for the bar? The key is to get something interesting going in the classroom. Yale had every reason to think Wurtzel would spice up the mix.

"These self-promoting values hacks don’t speak for the American mainstream."

Okay. Frank Rich on Rudy Giuliani. Why is Rudy doing so well? People in the know used to think the rubes just didn't realize Rudy has dressed in drag and once lived with 2 gay guys; they just remembered him as the star of that 9/11 show they saw on TV that one time.

But now it's dawning on the pundits that Americans probably know all that stuff by now, so why isn't Rudy sunk? They're shuffling around for explanations. You could say "terrorism fears trump everything," or "the rest of the field is weak." But Rich thinks the right answer is that Americans really aren't as narrow-minded as they are portrayed by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values:
These self-promoting values hacks don’t speak for the American mainstream. They don’t speak for the Republican Party. They no longer speak for many evangelical ministers and their flocks. The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time. Should Rudy Giuliani end up doing a victory dance at the Republican convention, it will be on their graves.
Is Rich right about this? I hope so. This is my favorite thing about Giuliani: his potential to bring out the social liberal in the Republican Party.

By the same token, my favorite thing about Hillary Clinton is her potential to bring hawkishness to the Democratic Party.

If this is right and the 2 frontrunners become the nominees, the 2 parties will become more alike and more to my taste. I'm finding that very odd.

What I miss when I'm "off-blog Althouse."

I've been on my little weekend jaunt to Stuart, Florida, absorbing sun instead of my usual nourishment of on-line news, so I'm just now noticing the Sunday Frank Rich column about Rudy Giuliani. I hope it's not too late to talk about it.

And I will talk about it in a minute, but first I want to say....

Blogging makes everything feel so transitory! If you don't notice a story in the first 12 hours, it seems utterly passé. I prefer hanging out on line, where I can see — or feel that I see — the world unfolding. It flows by continuously, and one thing or another catches my attention and sets me off writing again. It's my way of life. I love being in that flow, and whenever I step outside it and go off into the world as a character I like to call "off-blog Althouse," I miss some things that I'd have liked to engage with. And you get pictures of Dorito dust in the cup-holders of my rental car instead of why David Savage's attack on Clarence Thomas is claptrap. (Here, read what Patterico says.)

As I was perambulating the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro this weekend, there were many times when I wished I had my laptop so I could do some research and write about various things. Without even a camera — they won't let you have a camera — it was hard, really hard being off-blog Althouse. Do you want to know what I think of a golf course lined with McMansions? Do you want to hear my 1,000 thoughts about the sun, my skin, and the lack of shade? And speaking of skin, what is it about golf and white people? The most popular player is black, but the spectators are white, white, white. Yet no shade on the McMansioned-lined golf course!

That's just a tiny glimpse of the thought processes of off-blog Althouse.


Next post.

Pouring a second mug of coffee....

... at 4:06 AM.

October 28, 2007

How clean should you expect a rental car to be?

Here's how my car from Alamo looked:





The men and the birds know...


... that rolling in with the tide, there's food.

I didn't see it when I snapped this picture:


But I saw it in the closeup.

I couldn't experience this as the feeding frenzy it is:


And I can't see the death and loss....


The terrifying desolation of the beach....


... until, later, I contemplate the photographs.

"She had signed an agreement allowing her to appear in the movie, but she claims that she did not realise how much she would be ridiculed..."

Another in the long line of lawsuits I hope will fail.
Cathy Martin, an Alabama etiquette expert, agreed to let [Sacha Baron Cohen, AKA Borat] film a dinner sequence at her home...
In case you missed it the last time someone sued Cohen, here's the contract. Right up front, it says:
It is understood that the Producer hopes to reach a young adult audience by using entertaining content and formats.
Everyone wants to be in the movies, but somehow they fail to think about why anyone would want to see them in a movie.

Gerald Ford re Bill Clinton: "He's sick — he's got an addiction. He needs treatment."

From "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford":
Ford's wife, Betty, who founded a pioneering treatment center after her battle with alcoholism and drugs, agreed.

"You know, there's treatment for that kind of addiction," she told DeFrank during the same conversation in 1999. "A lot of men have gone through the treatment with a lot of success. But he won't do it, because he's in denial."
Ack. Those two were deeply invested in the business of seeing things as an addiction. Do we have any reason to think Gerald Ford's perceptions are "remarkable" — or even useful?
Gerald Ford... believed Clinton was charismatic, articulate, a "helluva salesman" and the best politician he'd ever seen - even better than John F. Kennedy.

But he considered Clinton a foreign-policy wimp, and sensed that he hadn't learned from mistakes in his personal life - allegations of womanizing that dogged him during the campaign for the White House.

That opinion was based on behavior Ford witnessed the weekend he hosted the Clintons in Colorado [in 1993].

"I'll tell you one thing: He didn't miss one good-looking skirt at any of the social occasions," Ford said later.
Ugh! I should listen to the opinions of a man who called women "skirts"? And what did he mean by "didn't miss"? Apparently, Ford "didn't miss" the "good-looking skirts" either.
"He's got a wandering eye, I'll tell you that. Betty had the same impression; he isn't very subtle about his interest."
And Ford isn't very subtle about making his "remarkable" observations. What exactly did Bill Clinton do that wasn't subtle? Be concrete. Don't just underline your assertions with verbal filler like "I'll tell you that" or trot out the lamest possible corroboration: your wife agrees with you.

Bill Clinton asked Ford for help when he got caught up in his impeachment problem:
"Bill I think you have to admit that you lied. If you do that, I think that will help - and I'll help you. If you'll admit to perjury, I'll do more," he said.

"I won't do that," Clinton told him. "I can't do that."

Ford was stunned by Clinton's lack of contrition. "It's a character flaw," he concluded.
Ford wanted him to confess to a crime? Clinton couldn't do that. It would have made far more sense to resign the presidency.

Pop quiz: Gerald Ford, alive or dead?

"I like everything about you. Your illness is part of you. It's like part of your character."

Nicoletta Mantovani quotes her husband, the late Luciano Pavarotti. This is what she says he said on learning that she had multiple sclerosis. (It sounds ungenerous to say "she says," but she is involved in a dispute over Pavarotti's will.)

What do you think about this notion of illness as part of one's character? Normally, we see illness as an alien invader to be fought off or, if that is not possible, endured. Before reading Mantovani's quote this morning, I'd been thinking of the idea of illness or disability as an integrated part of the afflicted person because I've been reading the new Oliver Sacks book "Musicophilia," which contains frequent observations of this kind, as do his earlier books "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" and "An Anthropologist On Mars."

Sacks writes so beautifully and tells such interesting stories that it's hard to resist his point of view. He is thoroughly excited and fascinated by the brain abnormalities of the individuals he studies, and he expresses this emotion through the romanticization of disease and the perception of the disease as part of the integrated whole of the person. As I reader, I catch his excitement, but I worry sometimes that it's wrong to look at other people this way.

If you had a disease — or if you have a disease — would you want people to see the disease as part of your character, something that deepens you and makes you more fascinating?