October 11, 2008

At the MMoCA.

DSC_0027

DSC_0011

An explanation of the art -- which I'm not very interested in -- is here.

The Featherweight Café.

DSC_0324

Where everything is light and airy. If your concerns are ponderous or morose, I must direct you back to The Willow Lounge.

"Sounds to me like the classic what-if about killing Hitler has been put into practice."

Richard emails this.

ADDED: Obit:
Austrian far-right politician Jörg Haider, who was killed in a car crash in his home province of Carinthia very early on Saturday morning, was his native country's best-known person, his sharp and perpetually tanned features ubiquitous on television and magazines. He was also Austria's most polarizing figure, with an impact far beyond that country's borders. During a long and checkered career, Haider stood out from the crowd of post-war Austrian politicians with his good looks, athletic lifestyle and devilish talent for provocation. But he was also a populist and demagogue who played on and amplified his homeland's native anti-immigrant and anti-European Union sentiment, courted Western pariahs like Libya's Muammar Ghadafi and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and even at one point praised Adolf Hitler's "orderly" employment policies.

AND: "The last time I saw Joerg Haider, just under two weeks ago, he was being serenaded to Queen's hit 'We are the Champions'."

"The Parallax View."

A famous sequence from the highly esteemed political movie (which you can see tonight, free, at Cinematheque, in Madison):



Glenn Erickson has a lot to say about this part of the film, which constitutes an audition and a psychological test (for Warren Beatty, at his hunkiest).

Is it Greenspan's fault?

Peter S. Goodman has some clearly written analysis:
Economists from across the ideological spectrum have criticized his decision to let the nation’s real estate market continue to boom with cheap credit, courtesy of low interest rates, rather than snuffing out price increases with higher rates. Others have criticized Mr. Greenspan for not disciplining institutions that lent indiscriminately.

But whatever history ends up saying about those decisions, Mr. Greenspan’s legacy may ultimately rest on a more deeply embedded and much less scrutinized phenomenon: the spectacular boom and calamitous bust in derivatives trading....

“It seems superfluous to constrain trading in some of the newer derivatives and other innovative financial contracts of the past decade,” Mr. Greenspan [wrote in his memoir "The Age of Turbulence"]. “The worst have failed; investors no longer fund them and are not likely to in the future.”...

“In a market system based on trust, reputation has a significant economic value,” Mr. Greenspan [said in a speech]. “I am therefore distressed at how far we have let concerns for reputation slip in recent years.”

As the long-serving chairman of the Fed, the nation’s most powerful economic policy maker, Mr. Greenspan preached the transcendent, wealth-creating powers of the market.

A professed libertarian, he counted among his formative influences the novelist Ayn Rand, who portrayed collective power as an evil force set against the enlightened self-interest of individuals. In turn, he showed a resolute faith that those participating in financial markets would act responsibly.
Much more at the link.

"His priorities were cigarettes, Dr Pepper, hot Cheetos and, once a week, he would buy C batteries."

"He never asked for money, but people gave him money... Poor man, may he rest in peace."
"He was Mr. John," [an old woman] cried out in Spanish. "I don't even speak English, but I would say, 'Hi, Mr. John, happy today?' "...

"Karma is coming," [one man] said. "Karma is going to come and get whoever did this."

"Alaska Inquiry Concludes Palin Abused Powers."

The NYT reports:
A 263-page report released Friday by lawmakers in Alaska found that Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, had herself exerted pressure to get Trooper Michael Wooten dismissed, as well as allowed her husband and subordinates to press for his firing, largely as a result of his temperament and past disciplinary problems.
Lots of us like Sarah Palin and have high hopes for her in this election and the next, but let's resist the impulse to slough off this report. It means something.

"No, no ma'am. He's a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."

John McCain, interrupting a woman who began her question "I'm scared of Barack Obama... he's an Arab terrorist...," from a Swampland blog post titled "McCain Denounces Pitchfork-Wavers."

ADDED: Video:



AND: The video shows that Ana Marie Cox did not transcribe the quote correctly. It's not: "I'm scared of Barack Obama... he's an Arab terrorist..." It's: "I can't trust Obama. I have read about him, and he's not he's not he's a uh he's an Arab." "Terrorist" is simply not there. The McCain quote is a bit off too. He says: "He's a decent family man citizen that I just happen to have some disagreements with on fundamental issues." Don't pin "terrorist" on the little old lady in the audience, and don't pin "whom" on the presidential candidate.

AND: Note that Time's Cox (or whoever did the transcription) not only added "terrorist" but also substituted "scared" for "can't trust." What does that say about the mind of the transcriber? It suggests the press is looking for evidence of fear and fear mongering. I think we're seeing a grasping for more evidence to justify blaming the campaign for deranging the minds of McCain's supporters. But if this woman's concern is that Obama is an Arab and that you can't trust him because of that, then it has nothing much to do with the Ayers connection that the McCain campaign promoted this week. So spike the quote with "terrorism" and "scared."

BUT: If she only said "he's an Arab," why did McCain say "no" and "He's a decent family man citizen..."? "No" makes sense as a simple correction of fact, but why "He's a decent family man citizen" as if Arab-Americans are not decent citizens who care about their families? I think McCain blurted out an accidental, implied ethnic slur.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall is conspicuously struggling to say that the woman -- her name is Gayle Quinnell -- really did say "Arab terrorist":
You can see the video I've embedded below. The gist is that Quinnell apparently did say "Arab terrorist." (ed.note: It would be more accurate to say that she insisted he was one in the interview. It's unclear from interview whether she actually used the second word with McCain.)
No, dammit. Here's the transcript of what she says in the interview. She never says "terrorist." It's obvious that she doesn't say that word to McCain. In the interview, the interviewer tries to put that word in her mouth, but she does not say it.

Here are the relevant parts from the interview transcript:
Quinnell: I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to this country.

Aigner [Adam Aigner of NBC News]: What would you think would happen? Do you think it would become Muslim country and what would that mean?

Quinnell: It would be bad...

Noah Kunin, Senior Political Correspondent from The UpTake: ... And just to be sure to make sure we got your quote OK, you called Obama and Arab terrorist?

Quinnell [P]ardon?

Noah: You called him an Arab terrorist? Is that correct? Why do you think he is an Arab?

Quinnell Because his dad is....
Did she hear the first question and mean to respond to it, or is she responding to the second question that leaves off the word "terrorist"? That's an awfully unfair way to ask the question, and Kunin ought to have followed up and pinned her down. The woman is, 75 and there is noisy music in the background, and she has to lean her head in and say "pardon." Under the circumstances, ascribing the word "terrorist" to her is patently unfair.

Come on, Josh! Take it back.

October 10, 2008

"This is most certainly not the finest thread that has appeared on Althouse."

Said Roger J., here.

That set me wondering: What was the finest thread?

ADDED: "Thread" = the comments section. I'm trying to collect links back to memorable old comments threads.

IN THE COMMENTS: The return of the long-lost Titus!

If you're too new to remember him, you can read this old thread, which reader_iam identified as one of the finest.

"I have just never been interested in sex."

"I imagine there is a lot of hassle involved and I have always been busy doing other things."

So says Clara Meadmore, Britain's oldest virgin. She is now 105 years old.

The Willow Lounge.

DSC_0290

Pour a glass and weep.

ADDED:

"Web Therapy," with Lisa Kudrow.

I love this new web show. Boing Boing says:
Now there's a new entrant in the genre of "webcam narrative": Web Therapy starring, co-written and co-produced by the brilliant Lisa Kudrow. But Web Therapy as the name might imply, is not another one-sided windbag borefest, it's -- hello -- actual two-way conversations that purportedly take place in real time (just 3 minutes per session!) over dual webcams between annoying psychologist Dr. Fiona Wallace and her exasperated patients. What a simple, yet clever idea! One that makes sense that it occurs over webcams.
Dual webcams and annoying people? That's Bloggingheads-y. I mean, it's like what Bloggingheads could be if everyone didn't feel such a need to preserve their dignity and professional standing... and was allowed to create fictionalized conflicts....

Anyway, as you know -- or could learn by clicking the "Lisa Kudrow" tag -- I adore Lisa Kudrow. Not from "Friends," which I never found interesting enough to watch (other than that one time when Brad Pitt was on). I loved "The Comeback," which I consider the best TV comedy of all time.

Harry Shearer likes "making these guys walk around." ("These guys" = Obama and McCain.)



You will know them by their walk. Of course, Bush had the better walk in 2000 and 2004.

ADDED: Want to see some debate walking? Watch the last 30 seconds of this clip from a Bush-Gore debate. Gore does the stupidest debate walking I have ever seen, and Bush's reaction to it never fails to make me laugh out loud.



And check out the clueless look on Gore's face at the end. So pleased with himself. He thinks he's doing so well that he triumphantly re-intones the magic phrase "Dingell-Norwood."

Visualizing political bias.

An extension that color-codes the blogs at Memeorandum.

Memeorandum is my favorite place to start when looking for political stories to blog about. It's a (somewhat lazy) way to see what everybody's talking about at the moment. With this extension you can see... well, what exactly are you seeing?
The colors don’t necessarily represent each blogger’s personal views or biases. It’s a reflection of their linking activity. The algorithm looks at the stories that blogger’s linked to before, relative to all other bloggers, and groups them accordingly. People that link to things that only conservatives find interesting will be classified as bright red, even if they are personally moderate or liberal, and vice-versa. The algorithm can't read minds, so don't be offended if you feel misrepresented. It's only looking at the data.
The Moderate Voice notes its dark blue identification. And I come out bright red. [CORRECTION: I'm merely pink. I MEAN: I'm at the mid-level of redness.] So, what to do with this information? Maybe I'll try, when I go to Memeorandum, to pick more "blue" stories...

Take a mid-afternoon break at The Fuzzy Thinking Café.

DSC_0295

Riffs. Chatter. Free association. Nobody ever gets to the point at The Fuzzy Thinking Café. Come on! Feel the fuzziness.

Democracy and the secret ballot.

Here's George McGovern opposing the "card check" bill, which Obama and many Democrats support, on the ground that keeping one's vote private is fundamental to democracy:



Via Gateway Pundit, via Mickey Kaus.

Interestingly, Obama is the Democratic nominee precisely because of the lack of private voting. His winning strategy was all about the caucus states, where your friends and neighbors see where you stand.

Saying "He is also a lefty. I am not," Christopher Buckley endorses Obama.

Why would a conservative back Obama?
I am a small-government conservative who clings tenaciously and old-fashionedly to the idea that one ought to have balanced budgets. On abortion, gay marriage, et al, I’m libertarian....

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind...

Obama has in him—I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy “We are the people we have been waiting for” silly rhetoric—the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.
By comparison:
But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed.... A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
His positions change, and lack coherence....

Is Buckley not right?

The Connecticut Supreme Court finds a right to same-sex marriage.

WaPo reports.

"George Bush has probably had the hardest administration since Lincoln. I feel for him."

"But his speech on the economy just now was lackluster."

Lackluster!

He's lost The Corner!

ADDED: Wonkette live-blogged:
10:28 AM — So far he has explained why everything sucks, and told people not to freak out too much about everything sucking....

So the financial crisis has some "lefty-artsy" university types stockpiling food?

Instapundit thinks we may be seeing the merger of economic panic and the mainstreaming of survivalism.

I think the lefty-artsy university types should be buying bottles of champagne and celebrating, because the crisis -- if it really is at the panic-y, food-stockpiling level -- will drastically cut back consumption, fighting huge, intractable problems that they dreamed of solving through regulation: global warming, mass obesity, crass materialism, suburban sprawl...

What does it take to make these people happy? They're addicted to gloom! Even vast economic collapse won't satisfy them.

"It was a strategic mistake to send Sarah Palin out on the stump as warrior girl. Mr. McCain is war-y enough."

Writes Peggy Noonan. I don't know about that. We like our warrior girl... some of us. Those that don't like Palin the Warrior aren't going to like Palin the "social conservative who is for diplomacy, for an easy-does-it approach to foreign affairs," are they? But I agree with Noonan about this:
Both campaigns, in the closing stretch, seem not fully worthy of the moment. We are in crisis—a once-in-a-century event, as we now say. And what we got from the candidates, in this week's presidential debate, was a bunch of gummy meanderings—smooth, rounded sentences so full of focus-grouped inanities that six minutes in viewers entered a kind of trance in which we almost immediately gave up on trying to wrest meaning from what was being said and instead focused on mere impressions.

***

Noonan has a way with words. Note that she wrote "meanderings" where many writers would use "maundering." Here's the American Heritage Dictionary on "maundering":
1. To talk incoherently or aimlessly. 2. To move or act aimlessly or vaguely; wander.
Sounds exactly right, no? But then:
ETYMOLOGY: Probably dialectal variant of meander (probably influenced by wander).
Interesting! Noonan rises above the dialectical variant.

McCain/Palin supporters are an angry mob. That's the virulent meme this week.

To my eye, it looks as though the MSM is anxious to squelch any enthusiasm. WaPo has a big feature called "Anger Is Crowd's Overarching Emotion at McCain Rally." And to be fair, it's the "most viewed" page on the WaPo website right now. It's what the readers want to read, not what the WaPo wants to cram down our throats. (Or are you one of those people who think the newspapers lie about what's "most viewed" and "most emailed"?)

The dateline on this piece, written by Michael D. Shear and Perry Bacon Jr., is Waukesha, Wisconsin. Oh, come on, now. If there are angry mobs, surely they are not in Wisconsin. I'm feeling huge doubts. But let's read:
There were shouts of "Nobama" and "Socialist" at the mention of the Democratic presidential nominee. There were boos, middle fingers turned up and thumbs turned down as a media caravan moved through the crowd Thursday for a midday town hall gathering featuring John McCain and Sarah Palin.
So they were giving the press the finger? Isn't that the classic method of preventing the press from getting a usable picture of you? It looks as though there are 2 different things going on: disapproval of Obama and hostility toward the press. There is plenty of reason for McCain supporters to hate the press, and yet the press ought not to react with an okay, then screw them. The press should redouble efforts to be neutral and professional.
"I'm mad! I'm really mad!" [a] man said, taking the microphone and refusing to surrender it easily, even when McCain tried to agree with him.

"I'm not done. Lemme finish, please," he said after a standing ovation. "When you have Obama, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there going to run the country, we have to have our head examined.

"It's time that you two represent the rest of us. So go get 'em."

The crowd burst into loud chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Standing at the center of the crowd, McCain and Palin drew on the crowd's energy as they repeatedly trained their fire on Obama.
"Trained their fire"? That's not a good metaphor. And there is nothing wrong with candidates attacking their opponents or crowds becoming enthusiastic. That's the idea of a rally. Perhaps political rallies in general are distasteful, but surely, the WaPo doesn't take that view across the board. How did they cover the big Obama rallies? Isn't it worse to chant the candidates name, as is done for Obama, than to chant the name of the country?

Or are Shear and Bacon -- good name for a barbershop/diner -- saying there is something different about the enthusiasm of this rally? Perhaps Obama did not draw on the energy of his crowds. (He's almost always kept cool.) Perhaps Obama's crowds surged with love for their candidate and never hate for the opponent.

It may be that the McCain/Palin crowds feel distinctly different... or do they just feel distinctly different to the reporters whose don't share the crowds emotions?

I get email.

This just arrived:
Ann;

I literally stumbled on your "blog" last night and tried to actually read some of it, feeling as though I was reading some highschool girl's diary to her girlfriend, complete with buzzwords and inside jokes. I assume that your writing is meant for a very small circle of friends who know or think they know what you're talking about.

"The debate was bad in ways that debates are often bad. The ultra-badness comes from being bad now."

What better example of liberalspeak.....meaningless even while at best it seems to suggest a negative reaction to the "debate!" Huah!

Ann, yours is the kind of spoiled silliness that Americans in flyover country have trouble understanding. I suspect that like Obama, you teach fringe elements of law school, more the liberal indoctrination theme, and I cannot possibly imagine you holding anyone in suspense over whom you will vote for in November!

You're certainly in the right place....Madison has more than their share of ding-a-lings!

Sincerely,

Charlie
(I added the link.)

I'm posting this as evidence of my cruel neutrality.

IN THE COMMENTS: Pete the Streak is moved to point us to The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

And Marcia said...
Sounds like Charlie's a bit grumpy.

Then again, I would be too if I had "literally stumbled on your 'blog.'"

Ann, you really shouldn't leaving it out like that. Someone could hurt themselves.
And you know, there is also a blog dedicated to the misuse of the word "literally": Literally, a Web Log. (The top post right now is about Biden: "I don’t know who this guy is. I don’t know his politics. But anyone who can use literally that many times in one speech has my vote.")

October 9, 2008

The Gold Liquid Café.

DSC_0283_2_2

It's time to unwind. Drink something gold. Tell me what you're thinking about.

It's getting ugly, but is it getting racial?

The new McCain ad hits Obama hard on the Ayers connection.



That's unpleasant for Obama supporters, but is it unfair? Is it racist? From the SF Chronicle:
While Obama's campaign has fended off racially rooted attacks since its inception, analysts say the ones surfacing in the past few days have been more overt, arriving as many undecided voters are making their final decision. They are part of a recent stream of attacks on his background, including his religion and his connections to a former '60s radical.

"It is the Willie Hortonization of Obama," said University of San Francisco associate professor of political science James Taylor....

Instead of using a grainy photo of a grizzled convict [like the Willie Horton ad used against Dukakis], the current attacks, analysts say, are embedded in "coded" language. They cite as examples Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin portraying Obama as a cultural outsider and friend to terrorists and the dismissive way his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, referred to Obama at their Tuesday night debate as "that one."...

Regardless, some attending McCain-Palin rallies are responding to this kind of incitement. The Secret Service is investigating press reports that someone might have said "kill him" after Palin tried to connect Obama to former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers. Some attending McCain's rally Wednesday in Pennsylvania interrupted him with shouts of "socialist," "terrorist" and "liar."

Earlier this week, Palin told a group of donors in Colorado that "this is not a man who sees America like you and I see America." Obama, Palin said, "is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," a reference to Obama's connection with Ayers... Conservative talk radio show host Rush Limbaugh echoed this attack by referring to Obama's "mentorship" by Ayers....
Why is it racial to stir up doubt about whether Obama is a mainstream Democrat? Most of the argument seems to be that because he is black, any doubts about him have a synergistic effect with any racism that happens to be out there.

By the way, there is a new Gallup poll in which the vast majority of voters say race has no effect on their decisions. Yes, of course, people often won't admit it or don't realize it. But the few who do say it will affect them report positive and negative effects that are close to balanced, and yet the positive effect in favor of Obama seems to have the edge. That said, the unadmitted effects are probably much more likely to be negatives against Obama.

Pushing back, we've got James Carville trying to guilt-trip or scare white people into voting for Obama:
Now let me be clear here, if Obama goes in this race with a 5- point lead and losing this election, the consequences are -- bull, man. I mean I don't think that's going to happen, but I think David it's a point to bring up.

But you stop and contemplate this country if Obama goes in and he has a consistent five point lead and loses the election, it would be very, very, very dramatic out there.
Some -- e.g., Rush Limbaugh -- think Carville was envisioning riots. Limbaugh observes:
Now, I want you to imagine if, say, I said something like this or some other conservative anywhere, said, "Yeah, if Obama, if he loses, you know, there's going to be riots out there. The blacks are going to riot." This is what James Carville said. You tell me where the racism is in this country. It is on the left. Here's Carville trying to scare America. He's doing two things. He didn't accidentally come up with that 5% figure. These guys are worried to death about the Wilder Effect. They are worried about the Bradley Effect, meaning they are worried that people are lying to the pollsters, saying they will vote for Obama.

But because they are really racists and don't want to admit that to a pollster, that they get to the voting booth in private, will vote for the white guy, Yosemite Sam instead of The Messiah. So that selection of five points, that's key. I've told you if Obama is not up by ten or so, it's going to be a much closer race than everybody thinks. But for James Carville to suggest that the political immaturity of the majority of the black population of this country is such that they will take to the streets and riot, I hope all of you African-Americans listening to this program understand how that means the Democrat Party sees you.

In fact, I might go so far as to say -- not about Carville, I don't know -- but there might be some of the Democrats that wouldn't mind seeing some riots if Obama loses. Nevertheless that's what they think of you. You are going to take to the streets, going to be Rodney King and South Central Los Angeles all over the country. So there's a fright factor here. There is a bigotry factor here, and of course there is racism on parade all over the place. And once again the racism originates and comes from the Democrat Party.

"Le Clézio stood out as an ecologically engaged author."

What it takes to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Did you know my cruel neutrality is being monitored?

Over here, by Monitoring the Cruel Neutrality, which just the other day finished analyzing my posts from March 4, 2008 (the date I took a vow of cruel neutrality) through July. A summary:
McCain negative (5)(6%)
McCain Neutral (71)(82%)
McCain Positive (11)(13%)

Obama ignored (1)(0%)
Obama negative (42)(15%)
Obama neutral (223)(81%)
Obama Positive (10) (4%)
July alone:
McCain negative (0)(0%)
McCain Neutral (19)(90%)
McCain Positive (2)(10%)

Obama negative (7)(13%)
Obama neutral (46)(82%)
Obama Positive (3) (5%)
I'd say I've displayed impressive neutrality, being far more likely to stay neutral than to go either positive or negative. But when I did go negative, it was much more likely to be against Obama, and when I did go positive, it was more likely to be about McCain.

Does it surprise you then to realize that I'm almost surely going to vote for Obama -- the chances are about 89% -- and that through the entire period of the vow it has been more likely than not that I would vote for Obama? It shouldn't!

"Invisible Man: How Ralph Ellison explains Barack Obama."

David Samuels has a piece in TNR with that title. This is one of those things I decide to blog about before reading, or, to be more accurate, after reading 1 or 2 sentences. Here are the 2 sentences that grabbed me:
It is one of the more interesting facts about Obama the writer that the father he chooses to represent, and whose legacy he chooses to embrace, is a bona fide monster--a scary polygamist who abused his wives and children and drank away his intellectual promise and his career, then crippled himself in a car accident that left him with iron legs, and finally wrapped his car around a tree in a second accident that luckily proved fatal to no one other than himself. Dreams is a book about Obama coming to terms with this troubling monster and creating a workable self out of the ruins of his father's life.
Then I see the first comment over there:
What a load of branless bloviation!
Ha ha. Branless. Why not braless? As long as we're subtracting letters and creating new meanings...

Anyway, now I will try to read the article, or enough of it to determine whether it's brainless or -- ! -- flatulent.
While I don't know the candidate personally, I feel as if I do, in part because he was at Harvard Law School when I was at Harvard, and he lived a few blocks away from me in a "transitional neighborhood" in Manhattan where rich people brought their dogs to poop. I know where the candidate is coming from, I am thinking, as I watch the fluffy white clouds float by my airplane window in a sea of antidepressant Obama blue.
Oh my. Samuels does sound insane. If those dog owners are so rich why are they walking their own dogs? What sort of dog owner treks to another neighborhood to deposit shit? Who looks at blue sky as "antidepressant" rather than simply cheerful?
It is hard not to like the idea of a writer becoming president...
Oh, no. That's so wrong. The writerly mind is exactly what you want to watch out for. There's plenty of writerly mind on display in this long article, which you may or may not like. Let me know.

ADDED: Swampland calls the article "compelling and challenging." (Challenging ≈ branless?)
It is at once a book review, a comparative literature exercise, a rumination on race, a candidate profile, and a magazine feature. Its central idea is that Barack Obama has internalized the thesis of Ralph Ellison's classic novel, Invisible Man, which Samuels summarizes as the notion that "the symbolic and actual baggage of race makes it difficult if not impossible for a black man to ever realize his full humanity in the eyes of anyone."

The Reel Geezers tell you what political films to watch.



ADDED: A quote: "Every political movie about the electoral system shows that it's corrupt." Is that true? And why is it true? My favorite political movie about the electoral system -- that's how the geezers narrow the category for discussion purposes -- is "The War Room," the documentary about the 1992 Clinton campaign. I love rewatching that. (Buy it here.)

Another quote: "Frank Capra was basically a fascist."

"Barack Obama, Socialist?"

Asks Power Line, with evidence that Obama ran for the Illinois Senate in 1996 as a member of the New Party. Was he a member or was he simply endorsed by the Party, which had a strategy of endorsing Democratic Party candidates who were sufficiently left wing?

In any case, I don't think it's right to call the New Party "socialist." I remember this party. One of the founders was UW lawprof Joel Rogers. They presented themselves not as socialists, but as left-leaning and progressive. I realize that for right wingers that counts as "socialist," but let's not be inflammatory.

I found an article in the LA Times, January 27, 1997, called "Life of the Party, Joel Rogers, Recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' Grant, Helps Guide the Fledgling New Party and its Campaign to Provide Educational Opportunity and a Living Wage." (No link, because the LA Times website is inadequate.) Excerpt:
Imagine, [Joel Rogers] says, that in 2000 the Democrats run Al Gore for president and the Republicans offer, say, millionaire Steve Forbes....

A mad taxer might, instead, "vote his values" by poking the ballot next to Gore's name--not where he is listed as a Democrat, but beside his New Party nomination...

Either way, the vote would count toward the candidate's total. And the candidate, says Rogers, would get a sharp reminder that a certain percentage of his votes came from people who think a certain way--like New Party "progressives," for instance.

Which leads to the question of just what this New Party stands for, and how popular its "populism" would really be....

"If you ask, 'Do you think all kids should have an equal start in life,' 80% of the population would agree with you," he says.

Next he shoots out a rhetorical filament about declining incomes and wage disparity--reflecting the party's vehement support of "living wage" campaigns.

"People really don't think it's fair to work full time, 2,000 hours a year, and get such lousy pay that they can't even raise a kid on it," he says. "That has electoral promise, that sentiment. . . . You can't inflict this much damage on people's expectations and not see it show up somewhere in voter volatility and anger.

"When you say, 'It doesn't seem fair that Michael Eisner makes $ 75,000 an hour,' people respond to that."

The party also supports progressive taxation, international workers rights, environmental protection, urban renewal and the public financing of elections....

If anything bugs Rogers, though, it is the suggestion that his dream is a new playground for political hobbyists and pinko pointy heads.

"I think it would be unfair to characterize it as just a marketing strategy for old defeated socialists. . . ," Rogers says. "It attaches much less weight to the state--much less than even conventional liberalism."
It's not fair to call the New Party "socialist," and it's really not fair to paint Obama as a crypto-socialist today because of his association with it.

IN THE COMMENTS: One of my favorite commenters, Chip Ahoy, calls this "Simply the most incoherent post I've ever read here." He goes on:
Why not call a socialist a socialist? Don't tell me not to call a spade a spade or a club a club, I'll call them as I see them.

Everything about this post speaks to socialism, jealousy, income redistribution, class war. Joel Roberts [sic], whether or not he likes to hear it, is a socialist. There's nothing else to make of peeling off the most left of the left.

I didn't bother with the word clouds presented here earlier, but I recall hearing the word "fairness" a lot by both Obama and Biden. Now there's a word that grates. There. is. no. such. thing ◯ <--- emphatic period. What is an attempt to achieve fairness through social engineering if not a yearning for socialism? Bah. This was all so very interesting the first time we read about it in Animal Farm. Yes, Obama is socialist. In his bones. As socialist as allowed in American politics with himself at the control levers. Joel Rogers is attempting to stretch that allowance. I'm in poor spirit this morning. I fumbled boiling water and burned my leg. So I'm really not in any mood to be instructed how to redefine my native language. I spent too much time learning these words [than] to have somebody I don't know tell me they actually mean something else so that it becomes easier to slip proven-to-fail economic policies into American politics under another name.
I'm sorry you burned your leg, Chip. And I'm not speaking to the question whether Rogers is a socialist. But I think the New Party project was meant to be more mainstream ... left, but mainstream. I think candidates that were endorsed by the party, as it followed its supposedly clever strategy, were just very liberal Democrats.

AJ Lynch, another commenter with a fine reputation here, calls Chip's post "the best comment of the month." He adds:
I suggest you let them sink in Ann.
Peter snarks:
Let's not be silly. Of course Obama is a socialist!

The real question is this: Is Ann Althouse a socialist?
I'm just a humble citizen of Madison, Wisconsin, an observer of political things who is not herself political. I come from the world of art, and I sojourned into law, where I did not really belong, but I got ensnared in a career here, and blogging is my reemergence as the real person that I truly am. I have met many interesting people here in Madison, including many lefties, including Joel Rogers. They are the normal people around here -- here, where I feel so comfortable, where I have lived for a quarter of a century, even though I in no way belong here. Have some pity on me, dear readers.

October 8, 2008

Early evening in the Last Bubble Café.

DSC_0284

It's all so transitory here.

"How to write a bogus trend story..."

"Start with something you wish were on the rise. State that rise as a fact. Allow that there are no facts, surveys, or test results to support such a fact. Use and reuse the word seems. Collect anecdotes and sprinkle liberally. Drift from your original point as far as you can to collect other data points. Add liberally. Finish with an upbeat quotation like 'My cat takes priority over the new relationship. Realistically, unless there's something absolutely amazing about [the woman I'm dating], he wins.'"

Slate mocks a ridiculous NYT style article, sets out the formula (above), and requests reader email. Can we outdo the Slate readers? I think so.

That was the worst debate ever.

Says Politico:
How the hell did candidates manage to be so timid and uninspiring at a time when American troops are in two problematic wars, the world financial markets are in scary free fall and the Dow has lost 1,400 points since Oct. 1? This is a moment history rarely sees — and both men blew it.
The debate was bad in ways that debates are often bad. The ultra-badness comes from being bad now.

Debate word clouds.

McCain's words, processed into cloud form:



(Enlarge.)

Obama's cloud:



(Enlarge.)

Observations? I'll start with a few:

1. I wish I could exclude all the boring words like "going."

2. McCain is much more likely than Obama to say "America" or "Americans."

3. McCain says "friends" a lot more, but I don't think it's because he loves us more.

4. As I noticed live-blogging last night, Obama has the quirk of labeling things "important."

5. The most interesting words -- like "Jell-O" and "corpse" -- were only said once and stay off of their clouds. I'd like a program that makes a graphic of all the words that only appear once. They're especially... important.

Camille Paglia, still a big Obama supporter, loves Sarah and Todd as "powerful new symbols of a revived contemporary feminism."

She writes:
... Todd and Sarah Palin... have emerged as powerful new symbols of a revived contemporary feminism. That the macho Todd, with his champion athleticism and working-class cred, can so amiably cradle babies and care for children is a huge step forward in American sexual symbolism.

... During her vice-presidential debate last week with Joe Biden (whose conspiratorial smiles with moderator Gwen Ifill were outrageous and condescending toward his opponent), I laughed heartily at Palin's digs and slams and marveled at the way she slowly took over the entire event. I was sorry when it ended! But Biden wasn't -- judging by his Gore-like sighs and his slow sinking like a punctured blimp. Of course Biden won on points, but TV (a visual medium) never cares about that.
Paglia says the anti-Palinists have "behaved like snippy jackasses." Snippy jackasses! Don't you hate when jackasses get snippy?
The bourgeois conventionalism and rank snobbery of these alleged humanitarians stank up the place. As for Palin's brutally edited interviews with Charlie Gibson and that viper, Katie Couric, don't we all know that the best bits ended up on the cutting-room floor? Something has gone seriously wrong with Democratic ideology, which seems to have become a candied set of holier-than-thou bromides attached like tutti-frutti to a quivering green Jell-O mold of adolescent sentimentality.
Quivering green Jell-O mold? Is that what Obama had behind his ear? (Transcript: "Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible.") Or what McCain was trying to nail to the wall? (Transcript: "Well, you know, nailing down Sen. Obama's various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. ")

Back to Paglia:
And where is all that lurid sexual fantasy coming from? When I watch Sarah Palin, I don't think sex -- I think Amazon warrior! I admire her competitive spirit and her exuberant vitality, which borders on the supernormal.
Paglia must be overjoyed to have a real-live political figure who fits her theories so well. After 2 decades of analyzing Madonna, she must be ravenous for this new subject matter. No wonder she's sick of the media elites serving up candy-tutti-frutti-Jell-O. Finally, a full-course meal.

Paglia speculates that Sarah Palin may be part Native American and savages the people who think Palin might be dumb. I'll skip some of that and get to the part about feminism:
The next phase of feminism must circle back and reappropriate the ancient persona of the mother -- without losing career ambition or power of assertion. Betty Friedan, who had first attacked the cult of postwar domesticity, had long warned second-wave feminists such as Gloria Steinem about the damaging exclusion of homemakers from their value system. The animus of liberal feminists toward religion must also end (I am speaking as an atheist). Feminism must reexamine all of its assumptions, including its death grip on abortion, if it wishes to survive.

The hysterical emotionalism and eruptions of amoral malice at the arrival of Sarah Palin exposed the weaknesses and limitations of current feminism. But I am convinced that Palin's bracing mix of male and female voices, as well as her grounding in frontier grit and audacity, will prove to be a galvanizing influence on aspiring Democratic women politicians too, from the municipal level on up. Palin has shown a brand-new way of defining female ambition -- without losing femininity, spontaneity or humor. She's no pre-programmed wonk of the backstage Hillary Clinton school; she's pugnacious and self-created, the product of no educational or political elite -- which is why her outsider style has been so hard for media lemmings to comprehend.
Well said.

In a similar vein, here's what I said about why Palin is great for feminism:
[F]eminism is something that transcends party politics. Women have interests that the parties should have to compete for. I want a vivid debate about what is good for women. Sarah Palin represents one argument, and her feminism will require Democrats to improve their argument and not take women for granted. Sarah Palin brings feminism to a lot of people who've been scorning feminism -- because feminism has seemed like a strand of Democratic party politics.

McCain's Brain!



ADDED: "Nope, too slow. Touch her." Wow, I hadn't noticed that McCain refused Obama's offer of a handshake. AND: Oh, that must have been the moment when Brokaw yelled at them for blocking the monitor. Of course, none of the humor in this video is fair. It's just really funny.

Althouse meets Skeptoid, on the new Bloggingheads.

I love the Skeptoid podcast, and it was a big thrill to talk to Brian Dunning.

Topics:
Lost cosmonauts and shortwave-radio spies (04:01)
Why do we believe conspiracy theories? (06:13)
Debunking subliminal sexual imagery in ads (09:02)
Quack remedies’ tenacious hold on the infirm (12:48)
The real-world consequences of our irrational beliefs (10:10)
What does “Free Tibet” really mean? (04:45)
I'll have some clips in a few minutes, including the context of the "smack in the face" clip I blogged here.

ADDED: Here's the part where we talk about why people believe in conspiracies, miracles, and extra-terrestrial and supernatural beings:



(Hey, it looks like I'm wearing an earpiece!)

AND: Here's the context for my "smack in the face" line, in which I also talk about the irrational things educated, intelligent people think. (Remember my asking you for some input?)

In which I say who won last night's debate and almost abandon my cruel neutrality pose.

When I woke up this morning, I decided to concentrate my mind on the question which man won the debate. It wasn't my first thought. My first thought was: Is it late enough to get up? I was pleased to see it was 6:15, and then woke up too much before remembering that I was up until 1 am, analyzing the damned debate, fretting about the illusive earpiece, skimming the 800+ comments, and mellowing out in contemplation of the absurdity of monkeys serving hot towels and drinks in a Japanese restaurant.

I put up a poll in last night's live debate post, and the answer I chose was the one that was by far the least popular. Who won? I said "both," the answer that got only 1% of the vote. I answered that like a kindergarten teacher that wants all the children to feel good about themselves. Oh, you were all just fine. You were likable enough.

What that means is, I don't expect that much from people or government. I don't get too high when I'm high, and I don't get too low when I'm low. Neutrality is a comfortable stance for me, so my "cruel neutrality" vow has been easy to keep, the opposite of a burden, a liberation.
Who am I supporting in the presidential contest? You shouldn't know, because I don't know. In fact, I'm positioning myself in a delicate state of unknowing, a state I hope to maintain until October if not November... So I'm taking a vow of neutrality... cruel neutrality.
It's October now, so I can say I kept my vow. It's not the vow keeping me neutral anymore. I don't like deciding, especially between 2 men I've long viewed as dangerously inadequate. The tumultuous financial crisis reminds me why I prefer to wait until the end: We get a better idea of what problems will plague the new President.

It is the response to the present crisis that mattered most last night, and the candidates tiresomely repeated old talking points. McCain kept trying to stoke outrage over earmarks, and Obama continued to lecture us about conserving energy. They clung to their old pet solutions when we are staring at a huge new -- I mean, newly perceived -- problem. Are they so utterly lacking in creativity and flexibility that they cannot offer us anything new in the face of dramatically changed circumstances? Or are they both just determined to play it safe and say nothing in these last few weeks that can be spun against them?

The first half hour of the debate was excruciating, with question after question about the crisis. The candidates' evasions were mind-numbing, and, despite my commitment to live-blogging, I had no words, not even little idle comments. I nearly gave up.

But this morning, I decided to make an effort to say which man had done the better job. It was Barack Obama. And I'm not saying this just because I admired his relaxed demeanor and youthful image and felt uneasy about the older man's jerky movements and desperate grimaces. I'm saying it because I am inclined to think that with the development of complex securities and the pursuit of profit along the edge of disaster, the free market failed spectacularly. When we need new regulation, Obama effectively associated McCain with his party's love of deregulation.

McCain offered no defense of his party, only assertions that he had tried to get regulations passed. So, there he was, embedded in failure. He didn't stand by the principles of conservatism. Here's the transcript. The word "conservative" appears exactly once, when McCain said (about Social Security):
We know what the problems are, my friends, and we know what the fixes are. We've got to sit down together across the table. It's been done before.

I saw it done with our -- our wonderful Ronald Reagan, a conservative from California, and the liberal Democrat Tip O'Neill from Massachusetts. That's what we need more of, and that's what I've done in Washington.
I don't believe we really understand the problems or "the fixes," and I certainly don't believe that reaching across the aisle works magic. That's not a basis for solving a problem, but a technique that works to some extent when you have a solution.

Look at how McCain failed to promote conservatism. McCain brought up Ronald Reagan 3 times: once to say he opposed him about sending troops to Lebanon and the other 2 times to say it was wonderful the way he worked with the liberal Tip O'Neill.

McCain never presented the conservative alternative to Obama. He never even called himself a conservative last night. He was wandering all over that red carpet, microphone in hand, and I have the feeling, in retrospect, that he was truly bewildered, mouthing old phrases, trying to slip by. But one old phrase that was missing was "I'm a proud conservative." Remember when he used to say that?

Or did he? Remember this?



See? That was always the problem. And now, it's really showing. McCain has lost definition. He's stumbling along to the finish line, hoping to achieve his lifelong ambition, to seize the crown at last. But why? To show he can get along with Democrats? I worry about what awful innovations the new President will concoct in league with the Democratic Congress, but at this point, I'm more worried about McCain than Obama.

This is not a commitment to vote for Obama, and I'm still going to provide the service of observing events from my slouchily neutral posture, to which no vow currently binds me. But you see the trend, and the destination is almost inevitable.

ADDED: I should have paid more attention to this. I heard it last night, but couldn't understand how it would deal with the crisis. It seems like a massive government benefit going out to people who overextended themselves taking loans. Why not give money to all the frugal people who believed they couldn't afford to buy a house? I don't understand the theory, other than as political pandering.

Monkeys working in a restaurant.

"Yatchan and Fukuchan serve customers hot towels and drinks, and are given soya beans as tips."

(Video at the link.)

"Once again -- Senator McCain didn't mention the middle class a single time during the debate."

Email from Obama. Somehow, after all the turmoil of the past week, the most important thing is still McCain's failure to use the expression "middle class."

October 7, 2008

[I doubt that] Obama wore an earpiece that was clearly visible on HDTV.

DSC09508

(Enlarge.)

ADDED: Scrolling around and looking in different frames, I don't see it. I think this picture creates an illusion of a clear plastic earpiece, but I can't see it in other frames.

AND: I made the picture smaller, so you won't think I'm trying to make trouble even though I no longer believe there is a visible earpiece. Anyway, remember the suspicions about Bush in '04, the famous jacket bulge? Remember this old story about Romney? There has also been discussion over whether Palin wore an earpiece. And there's been speculation about Obama, based on performances like this:



ADDED: Live-blogging the debate, Jac (a big Obama supporter) said:
10:27 - Obama needs to be coached to stop beginning so many of his answers with dead air while he thinks of what to say: "Uhhh ... ehhh ..."

That would be a good time to listen to an inside-the-ear advisor.

Glenn Reynolds links to this post and agrees
with my just a reflection analysis. But then he links to this comment over on Volokh:
Actually, both candidates' hesitancy and quick changes of topic, often within the same sentence, are consistent with their being whispered to. I challenge you to sound coherent when someone's talking to you and you have to not repeat what they say but reformulate it into something that sounds good, while they're still talking.
On that theory, look at this:



(Thanks to commenter jdeeripper for pointing me to that.)

You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see. I would not be surprised to learn some day that all or most politicians have for years had their advisors helping them from deep inside their ear canals. Maybe the best politicians are just those who are most adept at translating the voice in their ear into fluid speech.

AND: In the comments and around the web, this post is attracting anti-Althousiana. What I would really love would is a Chip Ahoy animation of Obama's ear as a vortex, like this one. For more information my vortex, read this and click the "vortex" tag.

Live-blogging the big "town hall" debate.

6:14 Central Time: I'm just setting up the post so you'll know I'm doing this again.

8:11: After they blame each other for the financial crisis, Obama tells us we don't want to hear them blaming each other. We just want to know how to stay in our homes and pay our bills. McCain sounds a little shaky and winded. He's wearing a shiny dark suit and a pink and red striped tie. Obama -- in an unshiny suit and a blue-purple tie -- seems relaxed. He's got a casual way of sitting on the stool.

8:20: The first 3 questions have been about the crisis, the third being, quite sensibly: How can we trust you guys who let us get into this trouble in the first place? McCain points to his record, and repeatedly tells us he's reached across the aisle. Does that make you trustworthy? The 2 men seem mainly to be recycling their old talking points more than speaking directly to the crisis.

8:28: An old woman emails in her demand that people be asked to make sacrifices. McCain repeats his ideas about cutting spending, and makes a second reference to an overhead projector that Obama procured for the Chicago planetarium. Again with the earmarks. What was the dollar figure on earmarks? I heard $1 billion. That seems like nothing compared to the $750 billion bailout. And what is the sacrifice? Not getting more earmarks? Obama reminds us of the way Bush told us after 9/11 to "go out and shop." Bush, it seems, could have demanded sacrifices, but Obama doesn't say what we should have sacrificed then or now, though he does advise us to be energy efficient. It's really not too inspiring, but I think Obama is trying to seem cool, solid, and not at all exciting. In the background, we see McCain writing, awkwardly, on a note pad, and maybe some of us think about McCain's sacrifices.

8:37: Tom Brokaw is in control! Obama will not be permitted to say something about taxes because "it's important." Ha ha. As I was writing "it's important," O said "it's important" again.

8:41: McCain thinks he's making a big funny by saying "I'll answer the question!" Because, you know, Obama didn't want to go on to the next question before. No one laughs, but he looks so happy with his wisecracks. "Too many lobbyists workin' there," he says, and I think he's trying to sound Palinesque.

8:44: McCain's plan seems to be to sound passionate and caring. And to say "Lieberman" frequently.

8:46: Jac is live-blogging too: "9:30 - Cringe-inducing word choice from Obama: "A lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11..." He can safely assume we all remember."

8:47: I love Brokaw. Watch the damned lights! He finds it hard to believe the candidates aren't watching the lights. Obama pops up and says he's just trying to keep up with McCain. In other words, he did it first! That seemed a little dorky and childish.

8:50: I was just admiring Obama's elegant gestures with his long, thin hands, when McCain positioned himself in the background and made a hand gesture that can only be described as holding an invisible grapefruit in front of your chest.

8:55: Obama says that health care should be a right. (McCain called it a "responsibility.") Obama seems relaxed and smiling but also oddly pissed that McCain has been "throwing a lot of things out there."

9:01: We've finally arrived at foreign policy, and McCain seems very relieved. Obama takes the subject of Iraq and ties it to the economy: Iraq has a surplus, so why are we spending our money over there? He's made this argument many times, but it has more resonance this week.

9:05: What is Obama's standard for when we should intervene for purely humane reasons, where there are no American interests? I hear no statement of doctrine. What is McCain's doctrine? We should intervene whenever there is a genocide if we have the means to improve the situation. (That's why he stood up to Reagan about Lebanon.)

9:14: Obama says McCain has called him "green behind the ears." Some sort of moss or fungus?

9:27: The question is how we would respond to an attack by Iran on Israel, and McCain makes a strong connection to the military man in the audience who asked the question. Obama's answer recycles material about energy independence. He talks about negotiations and diplomacy. Okay, and then? What if there is an attack? Will you be there? I can't tell.

9:30: "What don't you know and how will you learn it?" A cute question. Cute and disturbing. Obama decides to just deliver his prepared closing statement. The last 8 years sucked. Can't get the same a different result doin' the same thing, so we need change. McCain says what he doesn't know is what we all don't know: the stuff that's going to happen in the future! [CORRECTION, made at 6:53 am: We'd really be screwed if evening doing something different made a different result impossible. I apologize for the accidental pessimism. I will endeavor to confine myself, in the future, to pessimism of the intentional kind.]

9:34: I began this live-blog with a big mug of lapsang souchong tea, but about 15 minutes ago, I switched to cognac:

DSC09506

9:42: Wow. Over 600 comments! I'll need to go in there and see what you folks are saying. For now though, let's do a little poll:

Who won?
Obama.
McCain.
Both.
Neither.
pollcode.com free polls


9:55: I was scrolling through my HDTV recording, looking to photograph the "invisible grapefruit," and I noticed that Obama was wearing an earpiece. I photographed the freeze-frame and have set up a new post to display it.

10:09: I reconsider the perception of an earpiece. I don't see it in other frames. I'm sure a real secret earpiece would be way less visible, inside the ear canal.

11:21: I'm reading the comments, and the general opinion is that the debate was very boring. It was boring to me, because they were saying things I've heard before. Maybe some people are listening closely for the first time, and for them, it might have been interesting. But it should have been new and exciting for all of us, given the events of the past week.

6:55 am: When I woke up this morning, I decided to concentrate my mind on the question which man won.... Ah, what am I doing in this old post? Making a couple corrections. My new morning perceptions will be in new post.

"When I stand here, it makes me human."

A-ha ha-ha:



Via ChordStrike, via Instapundit.

Here's the original version, where you have to figure out for yourself what's going on.

Crowdsurfing a baby to Obama.



From the Yes We Can (Hold Babies) blog, where they want cute babies with Obama, not abominations like this:



The babies know. Test your candidate with a baby today.

Via Metafilter, where someone reminds us of how the babies tried to warn us about Bush:



Listen to the wisdom of babies.

We're less satisfied then ever.

Only 12% of us were satisfied in 1979, the lowest level of satisfaction in Gallup polling history, until now. Only 9% of us are satisfied with "the way things are going in the United States at this time."

Speaking of cute kids for Obama.

"Yes We Carve"... the kids and their barack-o'-lanterns.

Cute!

Exposed to criticism, the University of Illinois backs away from its limits on political speech.

Inside Higher Ed reports:
The controversy over political expression on campus stunned professors. Many colleges, especially public institutions, distribute reminders in election years about permitted and barred political activity. These policies typically bar the use of college funds for campaign activities and may direct employees to be sure that their public statements about candidates do not imply an endorsement by the institution.

At Illinois, however, a memo went out to employees at all three campuses barring employees from wearing political buttons on campus, having bumper stickers on cars parked on campus, or attending political rallies on campus. Because many professors do wear buttons and attend rallies, the policy infuriated faculty members. The American Association of University Professors condemned the limits for “their chilling effect on speech, their interference with the educational process, and their implicit castigation of normal practice during political campaigns.” The rules were not enforced, but the university also declared them to be policy.
Yes, it's important for universities to be clear about the specific thing that is wrong, properly stated above as: 1. appropriating university resources for use in a political campaign and 2. creating the appearance that the university itself is endorsing a candidate. The problem arises when a state university, concerned about those 2 things that are to be proscribed, bars things that seem similar, as if it's good to be extra careful. But these additional things are tremendously important political free speech. You don't include them just to be safe. You take extra care to exclude them with crisply drawn lines.

Now, universities, learn from the University of Illinois' embarrassment and rewrite those policies.

***

Here's the policy at the University of Wisconsin. Help me rewrite it.

Dana Milbank would like Sarah Palin to stop fighting and accept defeat graciously.

Dana Milbank witnesses Sarah Palin's strengths and surrounds them in ugly disapproval:
"This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America," she told the Clearwater crowd. "I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country." The crowd replied with boos.
Milbank doesn't repeat the charge that it's somehow racist to talk about Obama's association with Bill Ayers, but he does immediately start talking about how it's racist to make anything out of Obama's association with Jeremiah Wright:
McCain had said that racially explosive attacks related to Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more."
Either Palin's political judgment is different from McCain's or her judgment is being exercised at a different point in time. Is it racist for her to want to use this material? But Milbank doesn't say it is, only that the material is "racially explosive." If Palin dares to talk about such things, what bad things people might think.
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
Hmm. I'd like to see the video of that. Now that the press has been attacked as biased, how will it defend itself? By connecting the candidate to the "ugliness" of the gathered throng, which it will describe: It shouts abuse, and some hurl obscenities. (Obscenities are always hurled, never merely thrown, tossed or lobbed.) The press will find that one guy who "shouted a racial epithet" and called a black man "boy." (Do we really know that guy is a Palin supporter and not a dirty trickster?) Look out, Sarah, if you inspire noise from the crowd, the press will choose which words to report. You might want to keep them soothed and calm.
McCain's swoon is largely out of his control...
Swoon... McCain's the girl around here. Palin's the real man. Is Milbank making a gender-tinged remark?
... the result of an economic collapse that ignited new fears Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average closed below 10,000 for the first time in four years....

But the campaign has reacted with recriminations (the St. Petersburg Times reported that the Florida Republican Party chairman, after questioning Palin's aptitude, was told that he couldn't fly on her plane) and now Palin's rage.
Yes, dammit, why can't Palin simply resign herself to the fate of the campaign? The stock market has crashed, therefore Obama's time has arrived. Yet Palin responds with "rage." Anger is stage 1. Get with it, lady. You belong at stage 5, resignation, where the nice, genteel Mr. McCain is.
"One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.
If Palin excites the crowd, the press will listen hard for the nastiest remark. She'd better rein it in then, Milbank hints, or the press will keep hearing these things and calling her ugly. She needs to be more like McCain and back out of the states that the polls show they are losing. Obama has won the election, and it's long past time for the little lady from Alaska to accept defeat gracefully.

***

By the way, should we assume that Palin didn't realize that McCain had declined to use Jeremiah Wright against Obama? Maybe she did know, and she intended to imply that McCain has not run a sufficiently vigorous campaign and to set herself apart as someone who could have fought to a victory but came in too late and weighed down by an inadequate running mate.

Her political interests are different from him, and I've been getting the impression that she is running with her eyes on 2012. (And with this post, I create the "2012 campaign" tag to go with the old "2004 campaign" and "2008 campaign" tag. The campaign blogging never stops.)

"A professor's opinion: Not Shakespeare is the thing, but the commentary on him."

An aphorism that made me think:

A blogger's opinion: Not MSM is the thing, but the blogging on it.

October 6, 2008

Wow. She handled that well.

I have the feeling we are entering a new era.

IN THE COMMENTS: Cyrus Pinkerton accuses:
Althouse throws out some red meat for her hysterical rightwing base. A mindless feeding frenzy ensues. Good stuff, Althouse!
My response:
My point is -- call it red meat if you like -- that Palin did not grovel at the accusation of racism. She just went right for the point that she had to make... which was never racist. What's new is that she didn't bother to respond to the charge. She wasn't cowed by it. It was utter bullshit of course, and her response treated it as the bullshit it was.

Cyrus:
It's new that Palin is unresponsive to questions from the press? Really?

Meade:

Unresponsive to the charge of racism. Think about that, Cyrus. It is Palin, not Obama supporters, who is post-racial.

"The usual Althousian misogynistic exceptionalism."

Ann Bartow agrees with something I said -- and quotes it in full -- after "extracting" it from this "much longer" post supposedly "larded with the usual Althousian misogynistic exceptionalism." She offers no reasons for why that description applies to the rest of my post. She just hurls the insult. So, to respond in kind, let me say: Lame! Pathetic! Unscrupulous!

IN THE COMMENTS: Some object to the insult to me, but Electric Citizen objects to the insult to lard:
Lard o'mercy.

Every baker knows that despite lard's heavy reputation (it is pig fat, after all), nothing makes a flakier or better-tasting pie crust. Lard also makes the lightest and tastiest fried chicken: buttermilk, secret spices and ancient cast-iron skillets are all well and good, but the key to fried chicken greatness is lard.
Michael H. is all:
Electric Citizen - One of my earliest childhood memories was of my father's mother, a German immigrant, making doughnuts in her kitchen. She would make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, and use two glasses to punch out doughnut shapes (one for the doughnut, a smaller on for the hole).

She'd drop the doughnuts into a vat of hot lard atop her old gas stove. After a few moments, she'd turn the half-cooked doughnuts over with wooden dowels, then a minute later spear the hot doughnuts and drop them onto a plate. She'd sprinkle them with sugar, and as soon as they had cooled just enough to be picked up by small fingers, my cousins and I would each grab one and run to the porch.

The aroma of the doughnuts cooking in hot lard, and the melt-in-my-mouth sweetness of the fresh doughnuts has been so indelible imprinted that I cannot to this day, some 60 years later, smell doughnuts without recalling fond memories of my grandmother.

(Of course, she couldn't blog, so she never realized her full potential as a woman).
And suddenly, everyone is reminiscing about grandmas and cooking with lard.

Well, not everyone. Plenty are still going after Bartow. (And -- how unfair! -- there are zero comments chez Bartow.)

Ruth Anne says Bartow has used the old device of "insulting upward," which will get you traffic, but -- boo hoo! -- still no comments. I wonder why.

Henry said:
Can we assume from Ann Bartow's statement that what she doesn't quote she finds offensive? If so, here's what offends her (all quotes and emphasis from Ann's original post):

1. "It's unlikely that female lawprofs have a special disadvantage."

2. "You have 'disproportionate child care responsibilities' and you're a law professor and that's not your choice? Do something about it!"

3. Agreement! At least until Ann writes: "Stop whining, blaming others, looking for protectors, and blog... if you want to."

The inverse of these comments is that female law professors are at a special disadvantage, they're stuck with the kids, and they can't do anything about it.

In short, fish really do need bicycles and society is to blame.
Jdeeripper said:
Bartow also failed to explain what the hell "misogynistic exceptionalism" means.

Althouse is as exceptionally misogynistic?

Althouse thinks she is an exceptional woman and not like the other inferior women?

Althouse thinks she is so exceptional that only other people can be misogynistic not her?

I think she made the comment because 1. she didn't read the post in full and 2. she is winking to the other feminists that she knows Althouse is a traitor but she still wants to link to a post she partly agrees with.
Lurker80 said:
I find it interesting that Bartow linked to the whole Feministing scandal from 2006 as evidence that you are in part responsible for attacks against feminists. Amazing. As if feminists are not allowed to criticize each other. (Unless it's about Palin, because of course she's not a "real" feminist.)

Her link does bring back memories, though. I first learned of your blog through the Feministing controversy back when I was trying to determine whether I was a feminist at all. I'm so grateful that I stumbled upon this blog and learned that feminism is a broader category than Feministing and BitchPhD would have you believe.
Wurly said:
Margaret Thatcher? Misogynistic exceptionalism.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick? Misogynistic exceptionalism.

Sarah Palin? Misogynistic exceptionalism.

Basically, its a woman who succeeds on a foundation other than victimhood. That, in modern feminism's mind is "exceptional". The example that the "exceptional" woman sets--that you can succeed on your own terms without claiming the identity of a victim--sets back the cause of feminism, and is therefore misogynistic, because only modern feminism can speak for women. That's why Ann fits the category. Watch out Ann, I hear next week's Newsweek has a column explaining why you aren't really a woman.
Joan said:
I think Bartow thinks it's fair to call Ann misogynistic (anti-women) because as so many have noted already, Ann doesn't play along with the women-as-victim story.

I confess, I had to look up exceptionalism, and now I'm really stumped as to what Bartow means, because exceptionalism means (if I'm getting this right) that normal rules don't apply because you're special, that is, exceptional.

I think it is grammatically incorrect to use a negative modifier like "misogynistic" with "exceptionalism", which implies special treatment due to superiority. It's a contradiction in terms, unless Bartow means to say that it is Ann herself who wields her exceptionalism to further her misogynistic goals.

I've been reading here since the early days, and have never found Ann misogynistic although she does occasionally over-react to blogospheric slights. Labeling her with exceptionalism is a gross exaggeration, if that was Bartow's intention.

Does that represent Bartow's best work? That alone could explain why there are few prominent women law prof bloggers. If you came across Bartow first, you'd think, "Ick, who wants to read this?" and never click on her blog again. To be a successful blogger, it's not enough to have opinions, you have to express them clearly and support them as well. It also helps a lot if you don't whine.
Pogo said...
Misogynistic exceptionalism expialidocious!

Even though the sound of it
Is something quite atrocious
If you don't whine loud enough
You'll be called ferocious
Misogynistic exceptionalism expialidocious!!

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Because I was afraid to speak
When I was just a lass
My mother said I was too weak
And the ceiling it was glass
But then one day I learned a word
That saved my pretty ass
The biggest word I ever heard
And I stuff it in my bra:

Oooohhhh, Misogynistic exceptionalism expialidocious!!
UPDATE: Bartow finally got a comment, savaging me for writing "Women are ... prone to"... but oops... I didn't write that. Bartow omitted quotation marks or indenting to show that I quoted a phrase from the article I was writing about. Let's see if Bartow takes the trouble to correct her lone commenter. If not... pathetic, lame, unscrupulous.... And I want an apology for making it look like I wrote something I didn't write. And the person I was quoting was only laying down the conventional argument. Sigh.

Late morning at the Talk to Strangers Café.

DSC_0245

Come on, talk. I'll meet up with you later. I'm going to go listen to Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute talk about what sort of judges we might expect a President Obama/McCain to appoint. The event is down the hall from my office, and I'm hoping for lots of good discussion from UW lawprofs and students. If anyone says something truly interesting, I'll have my laptop and I may live-blog it.

But this post isn't about McCain, Obama, or the Supreme Court in particular. This is a café post, which means you're on your own. Talk about anything.

What John McCain said to Sarah Palin minutes before the VP debate.

"Have fun. Be yourself, and have fun."

Ha ha. This reminds me of something I say to students about taking my exam (upon which their entire semester grade rests). I say that they should enjoy it, that it should be an intrinsically rewarding experience. And I don't mean to be perverse or sadistic. I really think that in a well-structured, challenging exercise, you will do well to experience it as fun. Now, you ask, how do you do that?

Anyway, Palin's advice to McCain is: "Take the gloves off." Ha ha. I love the gender role reversal. The man wants fun and self-actualization, and the woman wants a good hard fight.

The stock markets are crashing again.

I guess we didn't throw enough money at it.

It's the first Monday in October. Can we pay some attention to the Supreme Court?

SCOTUSblog, as always, will be paying attention. In fact, they'll be live-blogging the release of the orders list here, and here are short descriptions of the 3 cases that are up for oral argument this morning. The most interesting one is Altria Group v. Good, a nice federalism/preemption case about suing cigarette manufacturers for those devious "light" cigarettes. (They measure low in tar and nicotine according to the standardized tests, but real-life smokers compensate by pulling harder and longer.)

The Bloomberg report provides the details. The suit is based on a state law fraud claim, and the Supreme Court said -- in a fractured 1992 case, Cipollone -- that such claims we not preempted by the federal cigarette labeling laws. And there is also the argument that the suits are preempted by the Federal Trade Commission standards for measuring the tar and nicotine in cigarettes:
That argument may be a tough sell. U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre, the Bush administration's top courtroom lawyer, is urging the court to reject it, saying state-law suits are
"complementary'' to the FTC's efforts to regulate cigarette advertising.

"It's not easy to argue that state tort law frustrates the purpose of a federal regulatory regime when the federal regulators are there saying, "No, it doesn't,'' said Paul Clement, Garre's predecessor as solicitor general. Clement stepped down in June, three weeks before the administration filed its brief siding with consumers.

Philip Morris says the administration's stance is a self-serving effort to bolster the Justice Department's own tobacco suit, which accuses cigarette makers of violating a federal racketeering law by marketing low-tar cigarettes as safer alternatives.