February 23, 2008

In Brooklyn Heights, with a fisheye lens...

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... the trees look like retinal capillaries. (I prefer these images enlarged: here and here.)

"If the point of the story was to allege that McCain had an affair with a lobbyist..."

Clark Hoyt, the NYT public editor, examines the journalistic ethics of the McCain story published last Thursday:
“If the point of the story was to allege that McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, we’d have owed readers more compelling evidence than the conviction of senior staff members,” [NYT executive editor Bill Keller said.] “But that was not the point of the story. The point of the story was that he behaved in such a way that his close aides felt the relationship constituted reckless behavior and feared it would ruin his career.”

I think that ignores the scarlet elephant in the room. A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did. And if a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide.
"Ignores" is putting it way too mildly. It's a ludicrous argument. It would mean that editors could purvey all sorts of trash as long as it is embedded it in a larger story. And when we get outraged, they could look down their noses and insult us about our poor reading comprehension.

Here's Jeff Jarvis on the subject:
[Keller] tries to tell us that we’re concentrating on the wrong thing here, that we don’t see what the real story is....

Do they have no news judgment? The lede in this story was obvious to everyone but the Times...

That the editors of the Times don’t see that is incredible — that is to say, not credible.
More at the link, but I've boiled it down to make it clear that Jarvis thinks Keller is dissembling.

Do you see him as a "heartless freak" while he sees you as an "overemotional troublemaker"?

Maybe he has Asperger's syndrome and understanding that can lead the two of you to work it out. But I'm thinking that we could go way too far in suspecting our partners of having Asperger's syndrome (or claiming to have it to excuse treating each other badly).

Miscellany.

Written by me on that other blog, cross-posted here for your commenting pleasure:
CONTACT LENSES WITH CIRCUITS AND LIGHTS. Is there something you'd like to see with your eyes other than what's really in front of you?

DIGG AND WIKIPEDIA WORK because the vibrant democracy we see on the surface is checked and balanced by a less conspicuous and more reliable elite group — Chris Wilson explains.

"THE KIDS BUYING MUSIC DON'T WANT immaculately-performed songs that remind them of their grandmothers; they want music that will help them get laid, which is exactly what AI's audition process doesn't test for."

ELMO AS KRUSTY. Didn't this happen on the "Treehouse of Horrors III"?

"Hillary just seems like Jerry Lee Lewis to me. And McCain just seems like a complete wackjob. And I guess Obama seems to have some sort of sense..."

Says Penn Jillette:
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t agree with him on anything, but he seems like a person that’s not about to just explode. And Hillary and McCain really seem that way to me. So that makes the election kind of fun.
He's vlogging now.

It's a little dreary today.

Looking out:

Foggy view from Brooklyn Heights

Looking down:

Stop

"Stop." Okay. I'll stop.

"Indoctrinate U."

"Indoctrinate U" is now available to buy and download on line here. The film — which I watched the other day — uses that "Roger and Me" approach where the filmmaker confronts people who have not agreed to an interview, and you probably already know whether you love to laugh at people who are trapped into defending the bureaucracy they work for. I think the conflict between free speech on campus and dealing with racial and sexual harassment is quite a bit more subtle than Evan Coyne Maloney makes it out to be, but It's an amusing presentation of his point of view.

(Cross-posted on Instapundit.)

Breasts are not genitalia, and drivers don't gawk at the word "love" — a First Amendment problem.

Remember Ed (Gonzo) Stross, the artist who painted a Michelangelo-style Eve on an outdoor mural and got sentenced to 30 days in jail for depicting Eve's bare breasts? With the help of the ACLU, he won with a First Amendment argument.

I've read the opinion in Lexis, and I see the court — an intermediate appellate court in Michigan — agrees with me that the breasts Stross painted didn't violate the restrictions in the city's variance, because breasts are not "genitalia," but that he did transgress by painting the word "love." Nevertheless, the court held that the restriction on lettering was too broad in relation to the city's interest in not distracting drivers. So the breasts might distract you, but the city failed to proscribe them, and the word "love" — well, wouldn't it be funny if drivers collided as they rubbernecked to look at "love"?

"Mr. Obama’s approach is like 'a surgical bomb,' he said, while 'the Clintons are more like a carpet bomb.'"

Can we judge the candidates by the way they woo Bill Richardson?

Isn't it clear that the one he's falling for is Barack Obama? And not just because it makes more sense to back the winner. The Clinton people keep calling, and one — an unnamed female — really pissed — he says "ticked" — him off by acting like he owed Hillary his endorsement — in a voice mail. Meanwhile, Barack calls personally at nicely spaced intervals and:
“Barack’s a little looser” in his conversations, Mr. Richardson said. The two men developed a back-of-the-classroom rapport during the presidential debates, exchanging winks or eye rolls when one of the other candidates “would get outrageous or something,” Mr. Richardson said.
And doesn't Richardson look much better in a beard? I'm not a big fan of beards, but Richardson is quite chubby, and the beard covers up his double chin and gives him a cuddly bear look. Too bad beards are verboten in a presidential campaign.

Michelle Obama's senior thesis.

(Cross-posted on Instapundit.)

"IT OFTEN SEEMS AS IF, TO THEM, I WILL ALWAYS BE BLACK FIRST and a student second." So reads Michelle Obama's senior thesis, written when she was a student at Princeton. You can read the whole thing, which I'm not going to do, but I did read the first few pages, and nothing I read troubles me. I should add that I attended her speech at Madison — the one where she said "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change" — and that line didn't jump out at me. But she's the wife of a presidential candidate, so her words will necessarily be raw material for attacks, especially what she's saying now. But what she wrote as a college student in 1985? She had much more reason to feel alienated than the average college student — and anyway, feeling alienated is a classic part of the young American experience. Amba has read much more of the thesis than I have, and she has some excellent observations:
What was being weighed here... was whether it was better to participate in the common life or to build up a separate community with its own resources and institutions, as "a necessary stage for the development of the Black community before this group integrates into the 'open society'." Before, not instead of. Ideas are always psychobiography, and you may feel here the young Michelle's sense that she needed to gain confidence in a context of people who were familiar and supportive before venturing forth into a more ambiguous, less embracing world that was harder to read and harder to trust.

Condoleezza Rice doesn't "see" herself as running for Vice President.

She doesn't "expect" to be a part of the campaign. So then, she's willing to do it. The real question is: Would it be a good move for McCain? Does it depend on whether Obama picks a woman for his VP nominee?

Imagine being robbed at gunpoint when you're sitting in a midtown Starbucks in the daytime...

... right after you took $149,000 in cash out of the bank.

February 22, 2008

Pictures from the pre-debate "visibility rally."

Here's a nice set of pictures taken by my son Christopher Althouse Cohen in Austin, Texas last night. (He's a longtime Hillary supporter.) I love this one:

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And for you dog lovers... the Obama dog:

Obama dog

... and the Hillary dog:

Hillary dog II

I don't know. I'd say the Hillary dog looks more ready to lead on Day 1.

ADDED: My other son says that first dog should be called "Bark Obama."

It's New York, so the beautiful snow has devolved into rain.

But people here in Brooklyn Heights have their defense against the wetness and the dreariness:

Umbrellas

Striped boots

Umbrellas

At ground level.

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Prop guns don't kill people. Theater kids pretend to kill people.

Another cross-posting from that blog that is dividing my bloggerly attention:
PUT DOWN THOSE STAGE PROP GUNS! Because you know if you want to avert campus shooting sprees, you want to start with the hard-working theater kids who rehearsed their hearts out to put on a big show. Yes, the show is about presidential assassins, but it's Sondheim. It's high class. The bright side of this is: Because it's high-class musical theater that's getting censored, even the usual prissy anti-gun types should get pissed off.

Via Nick Gillespie, who hates the musical "Assassins" ("godawful in its original conception and execution back in 1990 (and naturally, retardedly well-received in its 2004 Broadway revival)"). I've never seen the show, but I loved Sarah Vowell's description of it in her cool book "Assassination Vacation":
"It's the Stephen Sondheim musical in which a bunch of presidential assassins and would-be assassins sing songs about how much better their lives would be if they could gun down a president."

"Oh," remarks Mr. Connecticut. "How was it?"

"Oh my god," I gush. "Even though the actors were mostly college kids, I thought it was great! The orange-haired guy who played the man who wanted to fly a plane into Nixon was hilarious. And I found myself strangely smitten with John Wilkes Booth; every time he looked in my direction I could feel myself blush." Apparently, talking about going to the Museum of Television and Radio is "too personal," but I seem to have no problem revealing my crush on the man who murdered Lincoln.

"A sprawling, top-heavy campaign organization splurged on posh hotels and pricey consultants..."

And you want to run my country?

Making rooftops prettier all over New York City.

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It's the big snow. At last!

McCain's problems of his own making.

Posted by me on that other blog:
MCCAIN WANTS OUT OF THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE SYSTEM he's responsible for and finds it's not so easy. Amusingly, McCain is arguing that he has a constitutional right to get out.

MORE: "'We never claimed that the matching funds were collateral for the loan,' says McCain lawyer Trevor Potter. 'This was all a hypothetical future transaction.' (We wish we could get bank loans like that.)" The WSJ is aptly smirky: "We suppose we can't blame Mr. McCain for trying to make the finance rules work for him, but it'd be nice if he finally admitted their embarrassing folly."

In Dallas.

Dallas.

"Eloquence is deep thought expressed in clear words. With Mr. Obama the deep thought part is missing."

Peggy Noonan — herself a writer of great speeches — doesn't think much of the text of Obama's speeches:
[H]e doesn't dig down to explain how to become a greater nation, what specific path to take--more power to the state, for instance, or more power to the individual. He doesn't unpack his thoughts, as they say. He asserts and keeps on walking.

The man has attained the greatest heights through speechmaking, but to the speechwriter, what he really needs is a speechwriter.

February 21, 2008

"I hope you die in an organza accident, you preening little cockatoo."

I love this dramatization of last night's episode of "Project Runway."

I haven't been blogging episodes of the show this season, but this has been a great season, with excellent work and incredibly amusing characters, especially the adorable — and fierce — Christian Siriano.

Live-blogging the big Hillary-Obama debate.

8:00 ET: Let's get started!

8:04: So get started already! How long can they stand there at attention in gray — hopefully not empty — suits?

8:05: No rules! But try to keep it short — and have real conversation. We see Obama taking careful notes — left-handed. The little desks in front of them make them look like oversized grammar school kids. Hillary is making her opening statement. She's done a lot and she has so much more to do.

8:08: Obama opens. He says he and Hillary are friends. She smiles a fixed smile at him. How hard this must be for her. He quickly glides from health care to NAFTA to Iraq. "What's lacking right now is not good ideas" — a jab at her emphasis on "solutions." The problem is that good ideas "go to Washington to die." So it's all about "bringing this country together." She's still gazing and smiling.

8:13: Jorge Ramos begins the first question in Spanish and switches to English: Will you meet with the new leader of Cuba? Hillary will be ready to "reach out" to the new government
after it demonstrates that it is ready to change. She sounds very relaxed and articulate. Campbell Brown reminds Obama that he's already said he would meet the the leader of Cuba, so he has to say yes to this. He says he will meet without preconditions — but he does want "preparation" with some matters of rights on the agenda. He stresses that it's important for us to meet with our enemies. Clinton gets rebuttal time, and she distinguishes herself from him: She wants preconditions. Obama seems to be making a conscious effort to hold his chin up, which makes him look a tad arrogant as he looks down his nose at her.

8:22: What's the difference between the two of them on the economy? Obama says everyone knows the economy is "in trouble." "People have been struggling." We need to "restore balance" to the economy. He's against lead paint in toys. Hillary seems to plug in a prepared speech: "We need a President who works for
you." She too comes out firmly against lead paint in toys. She wants a moratorium on foreclosures — and I can't even understand how someone would think that's a good idea. I wish Obama would say she's woefully misguided. Hillary seems a little manic with eyebrows grouchoing up and down as she exclaims about "innovation!"

8:31: Immigration: Hillary is passionately, desperately in favor of it. (They're in Texas.) Obama tells us "we're a nation of laws" and mentions border security and "cracking down" on employers (but in a way that doesn't burden workers with Spanish surnames). Illegal immigrants need to get to "the back of the line." I think I see Hillary glowing. Clearly, she came across as the more generous one.

8:36: About that fence. Hillary speaks clearly, elaborately, and incomprehensibly about the fence. The message is: I'm a sophisticated policy geek.

8:43: Is there any problem with the U.S. becoming bilingual? English must be our "common, unifying language," says Hillary. Obama too thinks everyone needs to learn English — to "bind us together." And let the English-speaking kids learn a foreign language. He segues into criticizing No Child Left Behind: It pushes out the study of foreign language.

8:50: Hillary is asked if she's saying that Obama is "all hat and no cattle." It's little awkward to invite her to call him a nothing while sitting right next to him. She refers to that famous video clip of the state senator who couldn't name any of Obama's accomplishments. That gets almost no response from the big University of Texas audience. Maybe people aren't watching YouTube that much. By contrast, Obama gets a huge cheer when he says every major newspaper in Texas has endorsed him. Score 1 for mainstream media. His point is: She has to be saying that everyone who supports him must be delusional.

8:57: About that "plagiarism." Obama defends his use of a couple lines given him by his associate Duval Patrick. "This is where we start getting into the silly season in politics." People want to hear about the real issues. "What I've been talking about in these speeches, and I've gotta admit: Some of 'em are pretty good..." Ha ha. We should be lifting the country up, he says, not tearing each other down. Now, it's Hillary's turn, and it gets a little ugly. "Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's a very simple, uh, proposition. And you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in. It's change you can Xerox." Cute, but obviously prepared. "And I just don't think..." Obama: "No, that's not..." Hillary: "No, but Barack, it is, because if you look..." [boos from the audience] "if you look at the YouTube of these videos, it does raise questions." It's fine to want to unite the country, but, she says we need to "unite it for a purpose around very specific goals." That sound silly at first, but it actually defines an important difference between them, though I think she's wrong. The presidential candidate doesn't need to be all that specific.

9:03: Obama's emphasizing discussing issues and he's parsing their competing health insurance plans.

9:10: Is Hillary saying that Obama is not ready to be Commander in Chief? Her answer is that she's going to let the voters decide and she's going back to the subject of health insurance. What's that old Woody Allen movie where he's in a prison camp and the torture is being locked in a sweatbox with an insurance salesman? They're finally at the point where both of them are admitting they are going to force you to buy insurance. The difference is that Hillary is promising she will force
everyone to buy insurance.

9:15: The Commander in Chief question is re-asked. Hillary falls back on asserting that she's ready to be Commander in Chief. She declines to attack him here. Obama's turn. Of course, he's ready too. He points to his opposition to the Iraq war.

9:21: Unless this campaign takes a "wacky, unpredictable turn," John King says, one of you is going to face John McCain. That's a none too subtle reference to today's NYT story. How are they going to look standing next to a war hero? Hillary tells a story of a mother grabbing her arm for the second time tonight. Both ramble on about war policy, and I don't think either of them talked about John McCain.

9:31: Ugh. I'm bored with this. I see Stephen Green is drunkblogging. I'm blogging on Get Some ZZZ's tea. ("Brew a pot of our caffeine-free herbal blend and breathe a sigh of sweet relief as the bouquet of organic rooibos, soothing chamomile, passionflower and the mellowing properties of valerian gently lulls you toward blissful effects.") Now there's some talk of the superdelegates, and Hillary says well, you know there are these rules, but she's confident that there will be a united party in the end. Barack smirks.

9:38: At what "moment" in life were you most "tested"? Obama plugs in his life story — born to a teenaged mother, etc. He doesn't come up with a specific moment, and that annoys me, and you know one charge against him is that he lacks specificity. Hillary says that we all know she's had some challenging moments, and that gets a big audience response. "But... people often ask me... how do you do it... how do you keep going?" What the hell! She's reliving the crying moment in New Hampshire!

9:42: "No matter what happens in this contest — and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama, I am absolutely honored," Hillary says, and I think we hear a tinge of farewell. Obama reaches over and shakes her hand and pats her on the shoulder. She takes a deep breath as she shakes her head and then says: "Whatever happens, we're gonna be fine." Big cheers. It's over. Obama stands up quickly, and he must feel confident. No slips. No shakeups. He pulls out Hillary's chair, which is an odd gesture when a person is sitting down. It seems like he is rushing her to get up. He strides over to the moderators' table, and Hillary wanders off in the other direction. She's off screen. I guess the camera people expected a thanking of the moderators ritual. Another camera catches her. She's with Chelsea. Hillary's eyes are cast down and Chelsea has an impenetrable smile. The two of them walk downstage in front of the desks, over toward the moderator, and Chelsea is holding her mother's hand and gripping her arm. Are we supposed to feel a stirring of emotion? Was this mother-daughter encounter planned? Hillary repeatedly referred to mothers throughout the night and at least twice told a story of a mother grabbing her arm, and now here is Chelsea grabbing her arm. Bill isn't there. Nor is Michelle. It's just a Chelsea moment.

10:16: So, to recap. Not much happened, therefore Obama won. Hillary did fine sitting there, saying rational-sounding things most of the time. The closest she came to making something happen was on the plagiarism question: "I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words.... Lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in. It's change you can Xerox." But that's just a wisecrack, and when we're sitting here listening to Obama spout policy all night, the premise of the wisecrack — that his candidacy is "about words" — just doesn't fit. By the end, Hillary seemed to let it show that she knew her dream was over and that the important thing now was to glide to a graceful defeat. Or is that what they carefully planned to make us think, so we'd reengage emotionally with her? You know, Obama can be a rather cool character. Midway through the debate, I found myself practicing an impersonation of him. Not his speech, but his clasped hands on the table, his head turned sideways, chin up, lips pursed in a grin, his eyes looking down onto the hapless soul who imagines she could unsettle him in the slightest degree.

A few more Instapundit posts.

Repeated here for your commenting pleasure:
"IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO SILENCE COMMUNICATION on the Internet, but it is just as important not to silence victims of defamation," writes lawprof Betsy Malloy in an article flagged by Stephen Bainbridge. When someone says free speech is "important" but something else is "just as important," I get edgy. One cancels out the other and then what have you got? Like Bainbridge, I want a high standard to be met before a court can force an ISP to disclose the real name of an anonymous or pseudonymous blogger or commenter. So much damage can be done by the mere unmasking. It is all too tempting to file a lawsuit to punish someone who's pissed you off. And, of course, victims of defamation are not "silenced" if they can't sue. What a disaster if we think of the courthouse as our primary speech forum! If someone's speech on the internet offends you, you can always talk back on the internet. Silence may nevertheless be the best choice, even if you're used to jabbering endlessly on line. I'm frequently defamed on the internet, but I do what I can to avoid amplifying the attacker's speech by reacting to it. There are times when I put my revenge in writing in a blog post and get that cursor right up to the "publish" button and then stop and remember what my mother used to say: "You'll only encourage him."


"CINDY MCCAIN, LIKE OTHERS, STANDS BY MAN." Ridiculous AP headline.


MICHELLE OBAMA — RETROGRADE AMERICAN WIFE, old-style leftist, affirmative action neurotic, or something else that I'm not even going to mention? Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus debate. The moose is deployed, and Mickey worries that he's trafficking in stereotypes.


PSST, MEGAN. Stuff like this has been around for ages.


TNR REPORTS ON THE NYT:
"The publication of the article [on John McCain] capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable." Lots of detail at the linked article.

"What's most remarkable about the article is that it appeared in the paper at all."

The New Republic reports on the NYT McCain story:
[T]he new information it reveals focuses on the private matters of the candidate, and relies entirely on the anecdotal evidence of McCain's former staffers to justify the piece--both personal and anecdotal elements unusual in the Gray Lady. The story is filled with awkward journalistic moves--the piece contains a collection of decade-old stories of McCain and Iseman appearing at functions together and concerns voiced by McCain's aides that the Senator shouldn't be seen in public with Iseman - and departs from the Times usual authoritative voice. At one point, the piece suggestively states: "In 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, 'Why is she always around?'" In the absence of concrete, printable proof that McCain and Iseman were an item, the piece delicately steps around purported romance and instead reports on the debate within the McCain campaign about the alleged affair.

What happened? The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable.

For more Althouse, see Instapundit.

I'm writing over there too for a few days. Feel free to comment over here on this morning's posts. So far:
"I GUESS MAKING ONESELF VULNERABLE to two negative stories in forty years is the price of a lifetime of public service."

LAWRENCE LESSIG'S RUN FOR CONGRESS. "The district, south of San Francisco, runs straight through the heart of Silicon Valley, where Mr. Lessig is considered a celebrity, though one who wears glasses and uses phrases like 'net neutrality.'" If you're "considered a celebrity," doesn't that make you a celebrity? Is there some deeper lever of genuine celebrity that I just don't understand?

"IS JOHN MCCAIN BROKE?"

"JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON all show the kind of journalistic chops that made Us such a must-read in doctor's offices and lavatories around the world." Says Captain Ed.

MAJORING IN MIRACLES. Did Obama get sick on the eve of the big debate? Does Huckabee think this is the miracle he'd been hoping for? Unlike Huck, I didn't "major in miracles," but like the Virgin Mary on the grilled cheese sandwich, these works are uninspiring.

AND: Three more:
A BIG CIGAR? THERE?! That seems so wrong.

APHASIA IN THE COMICS.

"IF REPUBLICANS ARE MAKING TOO MUCH of Michelle Obama's gaffe that 'for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country' -- and well they might, because it could win them the election -- Democrats are making way too little of it."

"Gotta blow my nose here for a second."

Barack Obama blows his nose. And gets applause. And gets a news story about how he blew his nose and got applause. And 1,000 blog posts that link to it. Have we reached peak adulation yet?

By the way, this adds weight to my suspicion that Barack — everyone's calling him "Barack" now — was sick on Tuesday night when he gave that overlong, halting speech. And don't you think — speaking of bodily fluids — that Hillary is salivating over the prospect of a weakened opponent at the debate tonight? Fate has to cut her a break occasionally, you know.

Obama may be reaching near-Messiah heights, but — we heard from Preacher Huckabee — God may twiddle with the election. Has God favored Hillary by smiting Barack with a cold? Has God come through with Huckabee's miracle at last in the form of a NYT story about McCain and that woman, Ms. Iseman?

Huckabee said "I majored in miracles," and I'd like to know if he sees God's hand in that Kleenex and that newspaper.

February 20, 2008

"Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself..."

The NYT prints a big, bad story about John McCain.

Live-blogging the Hillary-Obama showdown.

It's the big debate, starting in a few minutes, in Austin, Texas. Hillary has to do something tricky to sabotage Obama tonight tomorrow, doesn't she? It's her only hope. I don't think she can, but I'm eager to see what happens. It can't be another fizzle, where the two of them make nice, like last time. She has to shake it up. Presumably, he'll stand his ground. But I thought he looked really tired — or maybe sick — on the night of the Wisconsin primary. If he stands there and drones platitudes, maybe Hillary's desperation will thrill and compel us.

UPDATE: Oops. It's tomorrow night.

ADDED: That was annoying. I made a point of linking to the Austin newspaper, and it said "tonight" on an article dated today. Well, now I can watch "American Idol" and "Project Runway" in peace.

Now, let me be Instapundit for a while.

Check it out.

The Supreme Court has decided an important case about the meaning of constitutional rights and federalism.

Danforth v. Minnesota is about whether state courts, when they apply "new" rules of federal constitutional law, must also follow the federal law about the retroactive effect of those rights. This is an application of the Teague doctrine: When a state court conviction has become final, federal courts may review it in a habeas case, but for the most part, it will suffice if the state court applied the federal constitutional law that the U.S. Supreme Court had articulated at the time. That means that if there are Supreme Court cases that came out after the conviction became final, unless an exception applies, there will be no habeas relief in federal court. But what if the post-conviction litigation takes place in state court? Why can't the state follow its own law about whether there should be a new trial that meets the standards set in the new Supreme Court case?

In my old posts — here and here — I said I thought that originalism and federalism justified allowing the state court to function independently.

In today's opinion the majority recognizes the state courts' power to use state law to give more retroactive effect to federal constitutional rights. Justice Stevens writes the opinion:
It is... abundantly clear that the Teague rule of nonretroactivity was fashioned to achieve the goals of federal habeas while minimizing federal intrusion into state criminal proceedings. It was intended to limit the authority of federal courts to overturn state convictions—not to limit a state court’s authority to grant relief for violations of new rules of constitutional law when reviewing its own State’s convictions....

[T]he States that give broader retroactive effect to this Court’s new rules of criminal procedure do not do so by misconstruing the federal Teague standard. Rather, they have developed state law to govern retroactivity in state postconviction proceedings....

A decision by this Court that a new rule does not apply retroactively under Teague does not imply that there was no right and thus no violation of that right at the time of trial—only that no remedy will be provided in federal habeas courts. It is fully consistent with a government of laws to recognize that the finality of a judgment may bar relief. It would be quite wrong to assume, however, that the question whether constitutional violations occurred in trials conducted before a certain date depends on how much time was required to complete the appellate process.
This all seems so crashingly correct to me — and let me say that I've been teaching Federal Courts for more than 20 years — that I'm puzzled to see that Chief Justice Roberts has dissented. But I can't write more about this now. I will have to update this a little later.

"He out speechified her. He out-hustled her. He out-dressed her. He out-presidentialed her...."

Larry Kudlow says it's all over.
A 15-point margin in Wisconsin is incredible. Wisconsin is a lot like Ohio except for the wacko ultra-Left Madison college population, which is even worse that Columbus's Ohio State.
Hey! Wait a minute! It's really not so abnormal here. You know as I was walking up Bascom Hill yesterday, past all those Barack signs...

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... I overheard two students making fun of the way one man's face is plastered everwhere. "It's like Saddam," one guy said.

"Sir! You have to give me his accomplishments... You're on national television. Name his legislative accomplishments."

Awkward!

Obama wins 76%...

... in Hawaii.

Pride and Plagiarism.

In this blogging game, there are sometimes stories that fall so squarely in my zone that I feel obligated to write a post. But blogging, to me, means quite specifically that I'm not obligated. Nevertheless, I want to flag these 2 recent Obama-related stories:

1. Michelle Obama is under fire for saying: "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." She said that in Milwaukee on Monday, and later in the day, in Madison — at an event I attended — she put it: "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country." As I wrote on Monday, I thought she gave a brilliant speech, full of inspiration, and the bad phrase didn't strike me at all. But the uproar shows that anything you say in a campaign can mushroom out of all proportion. Anything can become a weapon for your opponents. People should look at the whole person and her whole message to decide whether this asserted lack of pride somehow reveals a person who feels no solid connection to her country's history and values. Does it resonate with other evidence? Does anything else contribute to a picture of the Obamas as disaffected America-haters who only start to feel good when the country showers love on them?

2. Barack Obama got accused of "plagiarism" for using 2 well-known quotes followed by the exclamation "just words!" from an old speech by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. Charles Krauthammer said:
In a Democratic campaign that is so completely empty of ideas and differences, this comic relief is welcome. In fact, Obama changed the order of these quotes. That was his innovation.

It's not as if Duval [sic] Patrick had said something original. This is a rhetorical device that Obama had borrowed. It is not as if Obama had stolen his healthcare plan or his solution to Fermat's last theorem, or even his life story, like Biden did of Neil Kinnock in 1988.

So this is really a scraping of the bottom of the barrel. What Clinton is trying to do is to build up a record of inauthenticity. That's all she's got.
The question isn't really what counts as plagiarism. We're not imposing sanctions. The question is whether seeing the similarity between the 2 men — Obama and Patrick — makes us think Obama's speechifying is not all that special. And if our good opinion of him is based mainly on his speeches, then we have reason to examine why we're supporting him. But politics is full of stock phrases, contagious memes, and brainstormed messages. If attacks like this work, we'll never hear the end of it. For example, the NYT has this tale of a Bill Clinton "stealing" the phrase "force the spring" found on a sheet of paper in a dead man's typewriter. Do we want every speech larded with acknowledgements? As my wise old friend Joe Blow likes to say.... On the other hand, if that were the rule, you'd probably paraphrase to keep it short — and hide the theft. But it wouldn't be theft if the idea expressed was as unremarkable as the one Obama lifted from Patrick.

February 19, 2008

Wisconsin Primary: The Results Show.

I'm watching CNN, which is displaying an exciting countdown.

Suddenly: Projection! McCain will win, but "we don't know how big of a margin," so that's not interesting. On the Democratic side, Obama has a lead according to the exit polls, but they won't make a projection. Well, that's not too interesting either.

We flip back to "American Idol." More later.

ADDED: John McCain looks happy, giving his victory speech. And now CNN projects Obama as the winner of the Democratic primary.

AND: I kind of loved Castro.... Jason Castro, singing "Daydream."

AND: Obama is speaking — and CNN is displaying the percentages 56 to 43% at the bottom of the screen. Is Obama growing a mustache? How insane that would be. You can never do anything quirky when running for President. "I want our students learning art and music and literature and social studies." Why is that the business of the federal government? He's offering students a $4000 tuition credit — which won't get you very far, of course — but you'll have to work in a homeless shelter or do Peace Corps to qualify. "You invest in us. We'll invest in you." But you can work in any sort of job and make $4000. Is he also proposing a big government jobs program? He seems a little tired, pausing occasionally as if he can't remember his lines. Maybe it's very hot in the room. Now, it's over and the CNN folk are complaining about how long the speech was.

AND: CNN is getting back to Hillary Clinton, whose speech got stepped on by Barack Obama. "Let's get real" — seems to be a new slogan.

IN THE EMAIL: "Cheeseheads take down Hillary. This is almost as good as if the Packers had won the Super Bowl."

"I feel like you're describing, you know, it could be Green Bay in Wisconsin."

That's what NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd said tonight responding to this word picture painted by Chris Matthews:
"Now imagine a town that's deindustrialized. You have the rotted, the rusty factory shell as you come into town. The Blockbuster and the diner being the only thing there with the gas station. Everything else is basically done. People living on checks. They don't really have jobs anymore...."
Green Bay is the third largest city in Wisconsin. A recent report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette was positive about the local economy. ("Northeastern Wisconsin manufacturers have adjusted well to competing in a global economy, providing continued opportunities for commercial and industrial lending... Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota... are not Michigan and Ohio, Midwestern states with more serious economic issues.") Yet these clowns picture nothing but a Blockbuster, a diner, and a gas station! Incredible! They're trying to provide fine-textured analysis of voting patterns in the state, but they seem to be reporting from an East Coast fantasy.

ADDED: Watch this "Band Meeting with Murray" clip from "Flight of the Conchords." Doesn't Murray look just like Chuck Todd?

A cert. denial.

The Supreme Court denies cert. in the warrantless surveillance case. I wrote at length about the case here.

Cold, but fired up — UW-Madison campus politics on primary day.

The student politics in the snow was all Obamatude.

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No Hillarity around these parts.

AND: There's snow writing like this everywhere:

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Go ahead, kids. Write on the snow with blue or red paint. No yellow!

"Dear Ozzy, you don't necessarily become the best kisser by opening your mouth the widest."

"The sooner you realize that kissing is not an immunity challenge, the happier Amanda is going to be."

How would you like to expose your kissing technique to the ridicule of a million pitiless TV-watchers? So many things get exposed on "Survivor." Some of them — boobs escaping from bra tops, butt cracks triumphing over increasingly overlarge pants, deliberately liberated male frontage — get pixelated out of our view. But kissing in seemingly complete darkness — that is the subject of invasive night-vision photography. Didn't you know? Ozzy is adorable — we love to see him clamber up trees and dive those long horizontal dives in the swimming competitions — but stop kissing Amanda.

Voting in Madison, Wisconsin.

It's 0 degrees, but cheerily sunny and sparklingly icy:

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I cast my vote and as I walk into the hallway outside the room with the voting booths, this sign hits me in the face:

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Obvious wisecrack: I know, I heard the latest Barack Obama speech.

Anyway, yes, I vote in a church, here in the heart of the liberal politics.

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Now, let's go and get to work.

AND: This post shows all the things that interest me more than on-the-ground politics: beauty, religion, humor, rhetoric, photography... But someone just reminded me that what people want to know is: How's the turnout? I arrived around 11 and didn't have to wait, but the woman who checked me in said they'd had over 400 people so far and that was "pretty good." There was a regular flow of people in and out of the place. Here on campus, I don't see anyone passing out fliers or trying to talk to passersby. It seems like a normal (cold) day. So, from my little vantage point, I'd say there's a good but not insane turnout.

"As we get closer to the convention, if it is a stalemate, everybody will be going after everybody’s delegates."

“All the rules will be going out the window.” So says a senior Clinton official, according to Politico. Look out, Obambi, Hillary is working out ways to steal your pledged delegates — the delegates you think you already won in the primaries and caucuses.
Pledged delegates are not really pledged at all, not even on the first ballot. This has been an open secret in the party for years, but it has never really mattered because there has almost always been a clear victor by the time the convention convened....

“Delegates are NOT bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to at the convention or on the first ballot,” a recent DNC memo states. “A delegate goes to the convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular presidential candidate. At the convention, while it is assumed that the delegate will cast their vote for the candidate they are publicly pledged to, it is not required.”
Should we conclude that the Clinton campaign is evil? Or is this just evidence of the campaign's competence, that it's exploring all the permutations of the fight for the nomination? The Clinton aid prefaces his remark with: "I swear it is not happening now."

Ha. That reminds me of one of my favorite Nixon quotes: "We could do it, but that would be wrong."

Did Nixon really say that, and what was he talking about? I've been using that "Nixon quote" for decades, because I think it's so funny. It reveals a mind that thinks through the wrong things that could be done and even says them out loud — then, realizing how bad it sounds tries to nullify the statement with a terse invocation of morality. Ah! It seems the original quote is: "We could kill him. But that would be wrong."
On the White House Tapes, Nixon and his advisors were discussing what they should do about one of these enemies.... And Nixon said, "We could kill him." During the David Frost - Richard Nixon interviews, Nixon complained bitterly that we didn't get to listen to what he said next, presumably because it had been accidentally erased. What he claimed to have said next was, "But that would be wrong."

I like that. It's a much better quote, that way: "We could kill him, but that would be wrong."
Searching the web to verify the old quote, I hit upon "He Was a Crook," Hunter S. Thompson's essay on the death of Richard Nixon:
It was Richard Nixon who got me into politics, and now that he's gone, I feel lonely. He was a giant in his way. As long as Nixon was politically alive -- and he was, all the way to the end -- we could always be sure of finding the enemy on the Low Road. There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He had the fighting instincts of a badger trapped by hounds. The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action. But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing. It is a beast that fights best on its back: rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.
Hey... badger! That reminds me: I've got to go vote in the Wisconsin primary.

But, Hillary and Hillary people: Think about your legacy. Maybe this Hunter S. Thompson quote could help you think clearly:
If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.
UPDATE: The Clinton campaign says: I'm not a crook.

"I am not saying goodbye to you. I only wish to fight as a soldier of ideas."

Fidel Castro steps down as president of Cuba.

President Bush reacts: "The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty."

Ranking the lawprof blogs.

Paul Caron has the top 30, ranked. And you know how we lawprofs love rankings. In the spirit of a US News report that heavily weights LSAT scores, Paul ranks by traffic. In the spirit of a law school that admits more students on LSAT strength, his post will get him more traffic and help him in future rankings.

Specificity in the capital city — Hillary comes to Madison.

Though I went to Michelle Obama's speech yesterday here in Madison, I skipped Hillary Clinton's. It wasn't that I preferred seeing Michelle to Hillary. I would have rather seen Hillary. She's the candidate! But Michelle was speaking right on State Street, a block away from one of my favorite caf├ęs, in the middle of the afternoon. And Hillary was speaking after 8 at night in the convention center (Monona Terrace). I didn't feel like going out in the winter darkness, driving on the snowy roads and around a crowded the parking ramp. I considered calling a cab, but I'd have had to shell out $50 for the round trip. If a friend had called me up and insisted on chauffeuring me back and forth, I'd have gone.

But 4,000 people did attend:
In her “Solutions for America” rally, Clinton emphasized the need for action rather than rhetoric, an obvious attack of her opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

“There is a difference between speeches and solutions, between rhetoric and results,” Clinton said. “And part of what this campaign is coming down to is a recognition that we need to know, as specifically as possible, what our next president intends to do.”
Why do we need to know as specifically as possible? It's as if Congress doesn't exist and the President imposes programs on us. This emphasis on the need for specificity seems to betray an inflexibility of mind. Even on foreign policy, where the President is largely on her own, fixed promises should not impress us. I want someone who can make sound decisions in response to changing circumstances.
Although the event did not draw the large number of students that the Obama rally brought to the Kohl Center on Feb. 12, many UW-Madison students braved the cold weather to hear Clinton speak. UW-Madison sophomore Sara Jerving said that she previously supported Obama, but after attending Monday night’s rally, she plans to vote for Clinton in the primary election on Tuesday.

“I think what hit me most … is that [Clinton] had more substance and she talked about individual policies,” she said. “I understand that people are inspired by Obama, but I think it’s more effective that she had policies and specifics.”

UW-Madison sophomore Devra Cohen agreed with Jerving and said Clinton represented the things the American people care about.

“She brought up very specific policy points ranging from her personal favorite, health care … to education, which of course in Madison is very important,” Cohen said.
So this specificity meme is working for some. I suppose it's a way of saying — with some positivity — that her opponent is a fluffy nothing.

February 18, 2008

Why I'm voting for Obama in the Wisconsin primary.

I said I was going to write this post, so I'd better do it. As I said, I want to do an archaeology of the archive and trace my response to Barack Obama as I did to John Kerry in an old 2004 post called "How Kerry lost me." I've already said that Obama made a good impression on me when I first encountered him (when he spoke at the 2004 Democratic convention), but that I condemned all the Democrats who voted against John Roberts (and that included Obama).

Let's continue. This will have to be very selective, because there are over 200 posts tagged "Obama," and a blog post can't be too long.

On December 11, 2006, I quoted Obama saying: "I think to some degree I’ve become a shorthand or symbol or stand-in for a spirit...." I liked him for saying that. It was honest. I thought he'd have become something specific, and I'm amused to see that I added: "Wouldn't it be funny if he didn't?"

By April 2006, I was sick of hearing people marvel at what a good speaker he was and called him a "gasbag":
I hear a tired-sounding man, who rambles on and on.... [I]f I didn't know who he was and that there was a crowd there, I would picture an old man slumped in an armchair, expatiating for the benefit of anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot. It's formless stream of consciousness. Oh, there is that theme of hope. The stream swirls back there at predictable intervals.
By July 25, 2007, I was saying that it had become clear that Hillary Clinton was the best Democratic candidate. That was right after the debate where Obama answered "I would" to the question: "[W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?"

In the beginning of August, I was annoyed by Andrew Sullivan's effusive support of Obama as the candidate who would rid the young of the older "traumatized" generation:
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.
So I was leaning strongly toward Hillary last summer. But I wasn't agonizing over the Democratic race. I favored Rudy Giuliani.

In November, I was traipsing around San Francisco, and I just happened to stop to take a photo of a photo of Obama in the window of a hat shop. The proprietor, an older black woman, came out and engaged me in conversation:
[S]he wanted to talk about Barack Obama. Do I like him? Yes! I think he's a good man, and that he would be able to do a lot of good. I added, "But I kind of like Giuliani." That was okay with her, it seemed — so long as I don't like Hillary.
Of course, I didn't like Hillary. Anyone who reads this blog knows that. But I still could easily picture myself voting for her. I don't like politicians and I don't need to like them. I just try to pick someone who can do the job well enough. I keep my distance.

Then I commented on a story about Michelle Obama, who was asked why there isn't more support for her husband among black voters. She said: "What we're dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility... I think that it's one of the legacies of racism and discrimination and oppression."

Obama just seemed bland to me around this time, and I was needling him to attack.

Then came Oprah Winfrey:
[S]he presents Obama as an embodiment of our political, religious, and psychological needs. I'm saying "our," even though the presentation is strongly aimed at black people, because I don't lose the sense that she is speaking to the country as a whole....

She tells us some people think that Barack Obama ought to wait. She equates that with the old message that black people ought to have waited for equality. In this rhetoric, to tell him he should wait feels racist. But Oprah never accuses anyone of racism. She never even mentions the name of the rival who wants us to think that she is ahead of him in line. Oprah keeps the positive message in front. This is inspirational. Barack Obama is The One, so allow him to emerge into his rightful place, and we will all be fulfilled, saved... and — why not? — well governed.
Did Oprah get to me?!

I think I was hanging back, observing, commenting, but also slowly bonding with Obama. Then, he won the Iowa caucuses, and it suddenly seemed that he was going to win the nomination. With the real possibility at hand — and the prospect of finally being done with Hillary — I got a little excited about the idea of Obama winning. But I had my distance.

I was reading Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge," and I identified with something Camille Paglia wrote:
Paglia supports Barack Obama "because he is a rational, centered personality who speaks the language of idealism and national unity." This is similar to what Andrew Sullivan said — and, frankly, similar to some things I find myself thinking from time to time... when I'm not talking back to myself about what a disastrous delusion that might be.
Shortly thereafter, that video provided emotional massage.

I was impressed by the characterization of Barack Obama as a "once-in-a-generation" possibility, and by the fact that it sounded like quite an understatement to me.

Now, I've read through the posts and caught up to the present. Have I traced a journey? There is no clear narrative arc as there was in "How Kerry lost me." It's just a slow warming. And we're only at the primary, so there is much still to happen.

There is also the corresponding arc of my reaction to Hillary Clinton, which you can see some of here. As I said above, I haven't liked her, but I pictured myself voting for her anyway — back when she was inevitable. But Obama's growing power allowed me to cast off my resignation. And along with his growing power — after that win in Iowa — came her phony emotional ploys, the garish emergence of Bill Clinton, and the racial insinuations from the Clinton campaign. That drove a wedge into my neutrality, and my opinion broke for Obama.

The lovely and expressive Michelle Obama spoke in Madison, Wisconsin today.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

Yes, I was there. What did I think? I think she'll make a first-rate First Lady.

I have more to say, but I've already said it, in vlog form.



ADDED: Here are the first 10 minutes of Michelle Obama's speech:

Cut me a big slice of that ham acting.

Bigger can be better. (Via Throwing Things.) Think Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" and Klaus Kinski in "Aguirre the Wrath of God" and George C. Scott in "Dr. Strangelove." Those are all named in the linked article, and I love them all. What can I add? Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly"! But I hate a lot of ham acting too. I'm still mad at myself for sitting through Nicholas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas." Just remembering that performance makes me feel a little ill.

"How can you advertise this movie without mentioning the name 'Hillary'?"

The far reaching effect of the McCain-Feingold Act.
A three-judge panel ruled that the movie itself ["Hillary: The Movie"] is akin to a campaign ad and cannot be broadcast on television. It tells "the electorate that Sen. Clinton is unfit for office . . . and that viewers should vote against her," they said. However, they said that brief ads for the film could be broadcast because "they proposed a commercial transaction -- buy the DVD of The Movie."
If it were otherwise, you could make a movie solely for the purpose of creating a loophole to the act. My first take on this — convince me I'm wrong! — is that is that if you don't have a First Amendment right to run an ad against the candidate when it's not embedded an ad for a movie, it shouldn't be possible to manufacture a special right by making a movie and advertising it with essentially the same anti-candidate statements. Of course, since anybody can throw together a movie these days, if you hate the act, you should love the loophole — which anyone with a digital camera and a computer can get into. Right?

"The problem the Religious Right had in this primary was the hang-up over religion."

Captain Ed explains how Romney's Mormonism swung the nomination to John McCain.

Get up! Go out!

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It's not so bad. If you've got nowhere to go.

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The day before the Wisconsin primary.

Will anyone be out and subject to influencing here in Madison on President's Day, in the snow?

If you are, you can go see Michelle Obama at the Overture Center at 3:15 p.m and Hillary Clinton herself at Monona Terrace at 8:30 p.m. The Clinton event is an entire "Solutions for America" rally, scheduled to begin at 6:30 and run until 10:00 p.m. I'm thinking that's a little late (and long) for the target audience of older, working people on a week night.

Will I show up for either event? Have I, in my entire life, ever gone to a political rally or to hear a politician speak? I can only think of one time: I walked through a Kerry rally that took place on the street here in 2004, mainly to get photographs for the blog (blogs!), but committing to sitting through a big speech in an auditorium doesn't appeal to me. It's hardly a way to learn anything you don't already know about the candidate. One might go to demonstrate support for the candidate. Michelle and Hillary Clinton need you as a visual props for the cameras. Or maybe you get a thrill from being in the same room with a big star. Or you want to feel a part of a surgingly emotional crowd.

That is, you have to care in a certain way to show up for a big indoor rally. Fortunately, you don't at all need to have that feeling to vote.

IN THE COMMENTS: Oh, why can't they get over it!
rhhardin said...
Ha! I read it as "Monica Terrace."...

Bissage said...
"Solutions for America" . . . is one of those the solution that removes fabric stains?...

February 17, 2008

Bascom Mall in the snow today.

Abe Lincoln presides:

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And here's the lovely law school:

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"Each candidate chooses the rule at the moment that is in their self-interest."

Wasn't Chuck Schumer deliciously oily on "Meet the Press" today?
[It's important] that at the end of the day, we don't have such an internecine battle that we lose the general election. Most Hillary supporters are strong for Hillary; most Barack supporters are strong for Barack. But I think most of us all feel winning that general election and making sure that there's not another four years of Bush-McCain is predominant. So having a set rule in sand when, of course, each candidate chooses the rule at the moment that is in their self-interest, makes no sense....

So, you know, this, this issue of how the superdelegates ought to vote, you know, this great epistemological, metaphysical issue, no one thought about it three months ago. To me, it is not a great moral issue. The great moral issue is defeating George Bush, John McCain, and coming up with a way that we can do--walk away from the convention unified. And neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama, I think, want to have an internecine fight where one side is so bitter that the other feels that they can't enthusiastically support the winner....

The bottom line is, for Florida and Michigan, I believe it's much like the superdelegates. There's a great dispute here... I think there's going to be a clear winner.... But let's say we're not there. Then Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have to sit down and come up with a process that both sides buy into and both sides will abide by. You cannot--you cannot let these internecine battles create a war.
He would not commit to any principle other than avoiding an "internecine" battle. Clearly, he came to Tim Russert's table ready to use the word "internecine" to fend off efforts to get him to debate what the right rule is about the superdelegates and the Florida and Michigan delegates. I'm suspicious of people who suddenly start using and reusing a word that people don't normally say. Schumer didn't even know how to pronounce it.

"Thousands of revelers... carried posters of former President Bill Clinton, and chanted 'Thank You U.S.A.!' and 'God Bless America.'"

Oh, they're just trying to help Hillary.

Just kidding. Kosovo has issued its Declaration of Independence today.

"What band claimed to have 'built this city on rock n' roll'?"

Google search that's bringing me traffic today. Must be in some Sunday crossword puzzle.

"We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains through the capillaries and interact directly with our biological neurons."

Predicts Ray Kurzweil:
The nanobots, he said, would "make us smarter, remember things better and automatically go into full emergent virtual reality environments through the nervous system."
My first reaction is extreme resistance.... but I'm afraid I could be talked into it.

ADDED: I'm assuming it will be voluntary, but, really, that's unlikely, isn't it? Even if the government doesn't do it to you... I'm having flashbacks to this movie:



Even if the government doesn't do it to you, won't your parents? How can you compete in school if you didn't get your nanobots? They'll assume you'll want it — like circumcision! — and you'll feel put out if you didn't get it.

Iced in.

Right now, in Wisconsin, the rain is setting up into a hard shell of ice:

Icy

Pretty, but a warning not to take the car out.

Ice

Yes, I'm back in Wisconsin, into the winter of the record snowfall, anticipating another layer of snow on top of this ice.

Don't pick a President based on economics.

Says economics prof Tyler Cowen.

"This one's for the girls, who love without holding back, who dream with everything they have."

TalkLeft puts up this pro-Hillary music video:



"This one's for the girls, who love without holding back...." At what point in the song did you start thinking of the girls the Clintons don't want you to think about, the ones Hillary wasn't for? If you reached 1:39 without thinking of Monica Lewinsky, you might be a Hillary Clinton voter.

You know, I feel cheated that I can't have a happy 4 minutes of easy feminist warmth gazing at these images. I would have liked to feel a glow of excitement over the first strong woman candidate for President. But Hillary Clinton sold out women to build and salvage her husband's power, and I am disgusted by her efforts to use us now.

"Republicans are out to crush Barack by painting him as a leftwinger..."

Headlines the TimesOnline. The text of the article features these quotes from Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich:
Grover Norquist, an influential conservative tax reform lobbyist, said: “Barack Obama has been able to create his own image and introduce himself to voters, but the swing voters in a general election are not paying attention yet. He is open to being defined as a leftwing, corrupt Chicago politician."...

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and Republican guru, recently described Obama as the “most leftwing candidate to run since George McGovern”...
This article is collecting a lot of blog links. Firedoglake is just laughing at the lameness of those 2 geezers saying what they always say about Democrats. Buck Naked Politics also thinks the part about leftiness is the same old thing, but frets about the ticking time bomb that is the Rezko real estate deal. But in the rightosphere, they're perceiving Hillary Clinton's fingerprints all over this. Protein Wisdom writes:
Bob “The Prince of Darkness” Novak reports:
Strategists for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign believe it is imperative to identify her high-flying opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, with the “McGovern wing” of the Democratic Party — but they want to keep their candidate’s fingerprints off the attack.
Presumably, leaking it to Novak would be considered counter-productive to that sort of secrecy.

Now that her cover is blown, perhaps Clinton ought to be more overt about comparing Obama to McGovern.

She can say that the Right is going [here, Protein Wisdon links to the same TimesOnline article] to compare Obama to McGovern — and the Clintons cut their teeth in national politics working for the McGovern campaign — which compels her to raise the subject.

She knows better than most the story of how Edmund Muskie was the “inevitable” nominee in 1972, only to have the more anti-war McGovern campaign surge past Muskie to capture the Democratic nomination. She can talk about how McGovern did this by winning caucuses in normally Republican states — just like her good friend Barack is doing now....

She could point out that nominating the most dovish candidate, even during an unpopular war, generally does not win elections....
Aptly put.

Anyway, how big of a lefty is Barack Obama? I know there's this theory he's whatever you want him to be:
"I would like today to announce a tentative decision — I’m still thinking about it — to endorse Barack Obama,” [Rush Limbaugh] said, his head cocked slightly toward his 18-karat-gold-plated microphone, his hands spread wide like the wings of his sleek G4 jet.

Mr. Limbaugh then listed nearly a dozen qualities he said he found admirable in Mr. Obama. “Barack Obama is pro-life,” he began. “Barack Obama is a tax-cutter extraordinaire.”

If neither statement was descriptive of Mr. Obama, a liberal Democrat, nor was there much hope for what followed. “Barack Obama will establish a college football playoff, once and for all,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “Barack Obama will offer free-beer Fridays.”

His point, Mr. Limbaugh said, was that Mr. Obama represented “a blank canvas upon which anyone can project their fantasies and desires.”
But — and you know I'm trying to write a post called "Why I'm voting for Barack Obama in the Wisconsin primary" — I'm thinking he's less of a lefty ideologue — less left and less ideologue — than Hillary Clinton. So I focused on this part of the TimesOnline article, close to the bottom:
... Obama’s chief economics adviser, Austan Gools-bee, a professor at the University of Chicago, is a supporter of the free market. Obama has also been endorsed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Robert Wolf, the chief executive of UBS Americas, the financial group, is a big donor. “When I sat down with him, I found him to be unbelievably refreshing and smart and thoughtful,” he said.

Am I just projecting? "Refreshing and smart and thoughtful" resonates with me.

The sore subject of botched vote counting rears up in the Democratic primaries.

As reports show "about 80 election districts among [New York City's] 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote." There is disarray ahead as every delegate matters now. And it's not just a question of ascertaining the true vote count, but why the dramatically wrong count every occurred. If there was a plot to steal the primary, it was poorly devised with glaringly suspicious results like 0 votes for Obama in Harlem. (And that election district lies within the congressional district of Charles Rangel, a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton.) But fears of election theft will spur thoughts of conspiracy to tilt the nomination, and rumors of conspiracy themselves are tools that can be used to affect the minds of voters.

ADDED: This story throws a ton of water on the old theory that charges of vote fraud are a phony ploy to suppress the black vote.